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Everything posted by dog-days

  1. Sad, yet at the same time ginger beer is undeniably delicious, though maybe not so much when you're ill. Aged 25, I once treated the flu by reading Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory plus The Heart of the Matter) and drinking grappa. I survived. I was a tough cookie in them days.
  2. None of the set emoji responses really capture the right reaction. Incidents 1 and 3 sound like excerpts from a dystopian film. Incident 2 is more Carry On, Matron.
  3. On the latest episode of More or Less, the boss of the Financial Times's style guide announced that they're going to treat the word 'data' as a singular, uncountable noun. Yessss, vindicated. This makes me absurdly happy.
  4. Finished Dragon Age: Inquisition a couple of nights ago for the second time. It's the first time I properly finished it since I didn't have Trespasser (big extended ending/expansion pack) the first time round. Ach, what a frustrating game. Combat was pretty but dull. The strategy table was dull in that it seemed there was nothing meaningful to lose. The main plot itself was boring, and any urgency it might have had was diluted by the open world aspect. Occasionally it managed to work itself up to set piece sequences (e.g. the Masque in Orlais) that should have been fantastic, and in fact were good, but could have been better with adjustments. I increasingly hate the Bioware format of needing to talk to characters in the base between missions so that cutscenes fire and you can advance through their story. It becomes so rote so fast, and made me miss the days of BG2 when you just had to cross your fingers and hope the script managed to fire correctly to get the next portion of dialogue. At the same time, I can't completely hate it because I like the setting, and like the way its heart is so much in the right place.
  5. February's been almost a wasteland for me in terms of new TV/media of interest. March is looking like the opposite. Books from Adrian Tchaikovsky, Garth Nix and Martha Wells. Shadow and Bone S2 on Netflix and Ted Lasso on Apple. Plus my favourite local film festival is returning. Think I'm primarily interested in seeing what they do with Nate.
  6. Actually, it did seem to me that a lot more people that usual at Valentine's were buying flowers at the supermarket near my work. Admittedly, I was in a very studenty area, so that may have skewed things. But there were plenty of middle-aged men grabbing bouquets of hothouse roses in plastic wrap as well as the young ones. Not sure what's brought it on. Over here, my guess would be cost-of-living crisis. It's harder to afford to do anything genuinely fun, so people opt for a manageable token gesture.
  7. I just assumed you were talking about morris dancing...
  8. Rather more frightening. Liverpool showing its nasty side.
  9. Read The Last Blade Priest by WP Wiles which I saw mentioned somewhere upthread. An easy, engaging read, though it could have done with another once over by a proofreader. e.g. the knight Timo was introduced twice, Franj was once mistakenly referred to as Elecy (if you're reading this, Angry Robot Books, I am available for freelance work!) The characters are generally kept busy getting on with the plot, and it's largely left to the non-POV characters to move things along, showing initiative and pursuing personal goals. Partly because of the busy plot, the characters seem to bounce back from experiencing horrible events quite fast. The world was fine, the writing competent and discreet without being notably powerful. I'll happily read the sequel whenever it comes out; at the same time, if no sequel ever shows up, I won't be upset. Also read The History of Wales in Twelve Poems (text by M. Wynn Thomas, prints by Ruth Jên Evans) which was a nice way to pass a few lunchbreaks without being exactly revolutionary, just as might be expected of a book with such a title. I thought I was pessimist, but Wynn Thomas's view of Wales's present and future even gave me pause. ("...long, slow decline of rural areas...Wales haemorrhages talent to England...underfunded and overmanaged HE system lags well behind those of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.") Apart from the earlier poems which I'd already encountered, I was impressed by Gwenallt's Y Meirwon. Gwenallt was brought up in the industrial valley of the Tawe; his father was killed in accident when molten metal exploded over him. The poem evokes something of the experience of living and dying in the place. Gosodwn Ddydd Sul y Blodau ar eu beddau bwys On the Sunday of Flowers we place on their graves a bunch O rosynnau silicotig a lili mor welw â'r nwy, Of silicotic roses and a lily as wan as the gas, A chasglu rhwng y cerrig annhymig a rhwng yr anaeddfed gwrb Collecting between the untimely stones and between the unripe kerb Yr hen regfeydd a'r cableddau yn eu hangladdau hwy. The old curses and the blasphemies in their funerals.
  10. Let us know what you think of it, Peadar. Would be interested to hear if you find reading in Irish changes the experience at all.
  11. Have belatedly noticed that half a pint of beer in a nearby expensive bar costs about half as much as a soya cappuccino at one of the big coffee chains.
  12. Spotted in The Guardian and immediately wondered when the first LGBT Retirement Community crime novel would be on the shelves. (Unless there's one already? ETA: Oh wait, of course there is.)
  13. The Terry Gilliam version? I admit that I'd like to see the 1943 film with a script by Erich "Emil and the Detectives" Kästner. ETA: Link to Sarah Polley's retrospective article on working as a child actor on the Munchausen set. Good read.
  14. I liked the Henry V from the RSC in 2007, which ran as part of their Histories cycle. Geoffrey Streatfeild played Harry in casting intended to complement his role as failed conspirator Suffolk in Henry VI. (He'd go on to play Edward IV in the BBC Wars of the Roses series.) I went to a small conservative school in the middle of nowhere, and aged eleven the retirement-bound headmaster introduced the Olivier film to us, alongside his very unchallenging reading of the play, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a much more interesting play than Mr Mitchell of yore was willing to admit. I've never seen the Branagh film since I generally can't stand Branagh when he's directing himself. He gets actor-director syndrome. ('Time for another close-up of meeeeeee'). Henry V in 2007 didn't hit me as hard as Troilus and Cressida in 2005 ("wars and lechery; nothing else holds fashion"), but I was impressed that they left in the Siege of Harfleur speech which is normally cut, and loved Act 4 scene 1. WILLIAMS But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all “We died at such a place,” some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle, for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it, who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection. I saw the live broadcast of Harrington's Henry V. I enjoyed it at the time, but now can't remember much about it; nothing about the production seemed very remarkable, except maybe the decision to show Princess Katherine's marriage to Henry as miserable and wholly unwanted. Harrington didn't strike me as terrible, but I'm okay with 'kind of leaden, brutal and slow' as a reading of the character in this play, even if it's less than thrilling. I much prefer Henry IV part 1 and 2 as plays, whereas I don't think Henry V even makes it to my top fifteen Shakespeare plays, and as a result I'm not likely to object strongly to any production of it unless God help us it's directed by Nigel Farage or Michael Gove.
  15. Good luck @Starkess. I've been in jobs before that I really wasn't suited to, and after moving to a different sector, the feeling of not having to get up in the morning and go do something I was wrong for was a huge relief and a liberation. A joy, really. Seven or so years on, remembering that I'm not doing X is still a way I can cheer myself up. I'm just coming to the end of a week of annual leave, and now, in a different field, I'm actually quite happy to be going back to work.
  16. I watched Our Flag Means Death, and had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, its core dynamic seemed pretty much designed as fan service, except that it was focused on two middle-aged men and not twenty-somethings. It was mildly funny, but rarely very funny. (Ok, the falling piano was very funny, admitted.) For a pirate comedy drama, it contained lots of earnest conversations about feelings, and to a degree that's part of the joke, but I don't think we're meant to view them all ironically. A lot of the time it felt oddly as if it might be a children's cartoon with more swearing. The episode with the party of OTT powdered aristocrats was the best by some distance. On the other hand, a children's cartoon with swearing is very much in my ballpark, so, eh. It was light, undemanding, and easy to watch in January, and I'm looking to the next series in the weak hope there'll be more jokes and less talking about feelings.
  17. I'm just waiting to be called up for Nano Augmentations. (I've been waiting since the release of the original Deus Ex in 2000. Some kids wanted a letter from Hogwarts...).
  18. Attitudes in Wales are complex, in the sense that there are some very different demographics with different views. In the 2021 census, 55.2% of the Welsh population gave Welsh as their only national identity. 18.5% of the population gave their identity as British only. Because of my language interests, I come into contact with quite a lot of Cymry Cymraeg (Welsh-speaking Welsh). These are certainly among the 55.2%, but alongside them are also hundreds of thousands of non-Welsh speakers in the south who see themselves as Welsh through and through, and largely seem to build their lives around the triumphs and disasters of the national sports teams. Strong English elements will be found in the marches, amongst people in the north-east who live in Wales for the cheap housing and commute into Cheshire or Merseyside, and amongst the retirees and second home owners in the west (the latter of whom recently became liable for 250% council tax). The strength of the answer you get as to whether Wales is a separate country will depend largely on whom the speaker thinks his or her audience is, but I think that more people - a majority of people - would say yes, if asked, than before Covid, and certainly before devolution. There's a Welsh Parliament, a Welsh National Library, plus the sports teams, two Welsh National Theatres (one Cymraeg, one not), a capital city that looks and acts like a capital (i.e. everyone complains because Cardiff gets all the money and attention), an anthem that mentions gwlad (country/land) every other word, plus multiple other daily reminders of distinctiveness, the question isn't so much whether Wales is a country, but in what way and to what extent. In terms of colonialism...to adapt an old quote: the greatest trick colonialism ever pulled was convincing the colonised it didn't exist? The Welsh language and culture Cymraeg1 is still strongest in the upland areas – basically the poor areas where you can't grow anything except sheep. This is because the Normans took over all the nice fertile lands around Gwent, Glamorgan and Pembroke. Henry Tudor borrowed the Welsh icon of the red dragon and the prophecy of the Mab Darogan to help him in his campaign to win the throne of England. (He landed in Milford Haven and marched his army through the centre of Wales en route to Warwickshire.) So far so good, but he did nothing for Wales, and it was his son Henry VIII that brought in the Laws in Wales Acts. These extended the legal system of England to Wales, and made English its language. They also said that anyone carrying out public office had to do so in English. Colonialism also gets a bit lost under the general weight of capitalist exploitation. e.g. the miners driving on the industrial revolution, and being paid in tokens that they were only allowed to spend in pit villages owned by the same people that owned the mines. For other highlights: Aberfan and the National Coal Board2; Tryweryn. 1. Cymraeg = Welsh, meaning the Welsh language or related to the Welsh language; Cymreig = Welsh, meaning culturally Welsh 2. On second thoughts, I'm not sure how to categorise Aberfan. The National Coal Board was created by the Attlee government. The general contempt for the lives of Welsh children could be ascribed to a variety of factors, including psychopathy and greed.
  19. I could say that the stupidity and (at least in the UK) corruption astounds me, but I've run out of bestoundability.
  20. Didn't realise the German government had been afflicted by the same stupidity as ours with David "get rid of that Green crap" Cameron.
  21. The clearing of Lüzerath Sounds like something from the eighties. (The eighties in the UK, to give my frame of reference). Is this happening because: 1) Merkel shut down the nuclear power stations and 2) Russian gas ?
  22. Finished The Contentious Business of Samuel Seabury (2022) by Lexie Conyngham. In terms of plot and pacing, this didn't work for me as well as the previous book The Slaughter of Leith Hall, which featured a much younger version of the same POV character. Conyngham's novels often seem as if they're thinking about giving up on the whole murder mystery thing and just turning into a Regency Scotland comedy of manners. And that's normally fine since Conyngham's great at conjuring up the era, but this book dragged, and it felt as if it would have been better had she written it as gentle/comedic exploration of religious affiliation in Scotland forty years or so on from Culloden centred on the historical visit of Samuel Seabury to get himself made Episcopalian Bishop of Connecticut by the Scottish Episcopalians after being turned down by the English Church since he was unable to swear the oath of loyalty to King George. The bits of church politics that we do get are enjoyable, and I'm sure Conynham could have found a way to explore them further without ultimately turning them into a C-plot to the murder and misogyny of the A and B plots. It also touches on slavery, but it felt as if the novel was too fluffy overall to cope with the heaviness of the theme. Even though people at the time probably were debating the question of whether it's better to be a well-treated slave or a wretchedly-treated freeman, it still felt glib.
  23. Obsidian is owned by Microsoft. Fingers crossed they aren't affected by the cuts or by Microsoft's income squeeze. I want Avowed plus another random surprise Josh Sawyer project like Pentiment.
  24. Only seen Jessica Lange in American Horror Story, but I loved her in that. Not quite as good as Sian Phillips at being empress of everything, but well up there. Was just thinking that she (born 1949) would be a more appropriate romantic pairing for Liam Neeson (born 1952) than her movieverse daughter (born 1976).
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