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shewhomust

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Stirrings of spring [Feb. 23rd, 2018|11:58 am]
shewhomust
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The forecast threatens more cold and snowy weather: can I complain that winter seems very long when it is never the same for two weeks in a row? Milder and then cold again, take nothing for granted? Why yes, it seems I can...

If only because I have another cold, the third of the winter, which is surely excessive. Third and last, surely, but meanwhile my nose is running again and I am given to sudden explosive sneezes. No swimming for me this afternoon.

On the positive side, the days are noticeably longer: as they should be, a mere (short) month before the equinox, but it's good to wake up to daylight, and to carry the teatray back downstairs to the kitchen without having to balance it on one hand to switch on the light.

Encouraged by this, we are plotting a trip to Orkney at the end of May - or rather, we have moved beyond plotting, and booked the first of the accommodation (a cottage on Westray) so it must really be happening. As ever, I am very excited about this.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Random readings in Will Eisner [Feb. 20th, 2018|10:06 pm]
shewhomust
At the Graphic Novels Reading Group, we are looking at the work of Will Eisner. I'm not a huge Eisner fan: which is to say that I've never particularly enjoyed his work, but I recognise that he is a significant and influential figure, so it's good to revisit that from time to time. Besides, there are several of his books in the library catalogue, which ought to allow us to share them round and discuss them (it's getting harder to choose topics where this applies). When it came to raiding the shelves, not so much (we are hoping that the library will find more scattered around the branches), and someone else was faster off the mark in grabbing The Spirit, which is why I have been reading The Plot: the Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Reading: 'The Plot'Collapse )

tl:dr version: If you were looking for a handy reference work with which to debunk Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this is it. If you wanted a narrative of general interest, then for all its visual charm, it isn't.

Scrutiny of the shelves at Durham Library turned up a single volume of Eisner, a piece of Dickens fanfic called Fagin the Jew. That's fanfic in the sense of so identifying with the character that you don't feel the author has done them justice. Eisner's introduction to the first edition places this in the curious context of wanting to atone for the racial stereotypes he employed, not maliciously but thoughtlessly, in his own early work (he gives the example of the Spirit's comedy sidekick, Ebony White).

Reading: 'Fagin the Jew'Collapse )

tl:dr version: So that was interesting, but I don't really think it comes off.

Increasingly, I suspect that for all Eisner thought seriously about comics graphic novels / sequential art, his own work appeals more to people for whom the visual side comes first. Certainly when I think of The Spirit, I think of the ingenious ways Eisner works the title into the opening panel, hiding the letters in the shapes of buildings or the arrangements of windows. Of the stories themselves I have only the haziest memory.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Fire & Ice & mackerel [Feb. 17th, 2018|06:09 pm]
shewhomust
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We had a lunch date with S. before she went to a lecture in Durham today, and were anxious to take her somewhere good enough to make up for the last two occasions, when we subjected her to trying out places that were not good at all. [personal profile] durham_rambler had been to the Cellar Door for coffee and reported that it had potential and - phew! - it was fine. If the website suggests that it might be a bit pretentious, that's fair enough. The menu is dotted with "textures" and "emulsions", and my smoked mackerel pâté was accompanied by "torched mackerel" as well as by sourdough toast and pea-sized balls of cucumber carefully cut to show both the dark green of the skin and the pale green of the flash (there were marbles of cucumber, similarly carved, in the water carafe; I didn't think they improved the flavour of the water). But the pate was silky and smoky, the contrast was good with the moist piece of unsmoked fish (I wouldn't have noticed that one end was slightly seared if the menu hadn't called attention to it) and toast is my favourite food. No complaint about the steak and chips I had for my main course, but the starters were more interesting (and I was virtuous and didn't order dessert - among other reasons, we are out to dinner this evening - but it was a struggle).

There is a 'Fire & Ice' event in the city this weekend, with ice sculptures dotted around the streets. The theme is 'sculptures inspired by literary characters' which presumably explains Shakespeare on Framwelgate Bridge:

Shakespeare II


and the Snow White style mirror in the Market Place. This was set low enough for children to look through, but mostly, of course, the children weren't interested: it was their camera-wielding parents who were busy cajoling them. Since I didn't have a child with me, my photographs of this aren't of interest, but have a picture of Gandalf instead:

Wizard
.

Time to go to Sunderland, to meet my cousins who are up for the match (Sunderland lost, of course...)

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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A glimpse inside the mind of the quizmaster [Feb. 15th, 2018|05:55 pm]
shewhomust
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Reading the G2 section of yesterday's Guardian over breakfast this morning, as is my habit (up-to-the-minute news I can get from the radio; I like my newspaper a little aged, a little matured) I was all set to turn the page on Jess Cartner-Morley's report from New York fashion week. No reflection on Ms C-M, whose columns in the colour magazine I find very readable, but reports from the shows are a step further into fashion than I want to go -

But something in the first paragraph caught my eye: "the matriarchal Mosuo tribe of China." If I'd read that earlier, I'd have been able to answer the question in last night's pub quiz, which described the tribe and asked where they lived (no-one on our team knew that one).

Coincidence? I think not: in the final paragraph of the same article, I read "As Naomi Wolf pointed out in The Beauty Myth..." If I'd read that earlier, I wouldn't have voted for spelling Ms. Wolf with two Fs.

From time to time we ask F. where he finds the information for his questions; I don't think he has ever mentioned the Guardian's fashion reports in answering.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Saturday afternoon at the pictures [Feb. 12th, 2018|03:16 pm]
shewhomust
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[personal profile] durham_rambler wasn't sure he'd have time for a silly movie this week, but he was due at the cinema café for a meeting, at just precisely the time of the Saturday afternoon showing of Early Man. So we walked into town together, and then he went to his meeting and I went to see the latest from Aardman animation. I might have had doubts about going to what is technically a children's film on the Saturday afternoon of half-term week, but in fact they were a great audience, and the bonus is that you get to see an entirely different set of trailers.

Early Man, according to Nick Park's commentary for the trailer on IMDB is "a Prehistoric underdog sports movie" (from the 'neo-Pleistocene' era, of course). A Stone Age tribe are evicted from their valley by invaders from the Bronze Age, for whom it is simply a place to mine for ore. But young Dug (aided by his faithful hog, Hognob) challenges the Bronzians: the fate of the valley will be decided by a game of football. Seeing the bombastic and showy game played in the Bronzian city, Dug realises the meaning of the tribes ancestral paintings: once, long ago, they invented this sport of the tribe...

If I can get this much enjoyment from a film about football, someone must be doing something right. There is constant slapstick humour, of course, but there are also plenty of clever verbal gags: I liked the stall in the Bronzian city selling 'Jurassic Pork', and another one called 'Beaker Folk'; and I don't know which I liked better, the reminder that 'you haven't eaten your primordial soup, or the soup itself, ominously green and full of - well, that would be telling. The city itself is full of eye-candy, glorious Bronzepunk decorative work.

Given how full the screen is of the most creative anachronism, it is probably perverse of me to be bothered by the fact that the tribe subsist mostly by hunting rabbits. I didn't bat an eyelid at the Giant Man-Eating Mallard, but apparently I draw the line at the depiction of rabbits as native to Britain. Go figure.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Three Billboards revisited [Feb. 11th, 2018|12:06 pm]
shewhomust
DSC00492


With many thanks to [personal profile] steepholm.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Final Warning [Feb. 8th, 2018|09:07 pm]
shewhomust
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I was surprised to learn of the death of poet Jenny Joseph from the obituary in Saturday's Guardian. Mostly I learn of these things from other sources, whether from the internet or the radio news, before the Guardian catches up. (And she died at the beginning of January, so it's not as if the Guardian had rushed into print).

This isn't the grievance of a fan. I know - or rather, before I read that obituary, I knew - only one thing about Ms. Joseph, which is that she wrote Warning ("When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."). This isn't, as I had misremembered, "the Nation's favourite poem,", but it did top a poll to find the Nation's favourite post-war poem, which I would have thought was enough to earn her a mention on the six o' clock news.

This sent me off on a merry search, to find out what the Nation's Favourite Poem actually is. I'd have bet on Daffodils, and I'd have been wrong: a 1995 BBC poll seems to be the basis for most of the lists, and it puts If top. (Daffodils is 5th, Warning 22nd, just above Sea Fever...). From this I think we can deduce something about the age of people who participate in BBC poetry polls. Another poll declared T.S. Eliot the Nation's favourite poet, though I infer that this was achieved by getting the great and the good to champion a favourite, so that the vote is coloured by the popularity of the advocate.

It's all very mysterious.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Random travel thoughts [Feb. 7th, 2018|10:51 am]
shewhomust
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Yesterday was overcast and snowy. I cheered myself up with photographs from our trip to Europe last spring. Time to return to writing up our adventures in Trier, but meanwhile, one random silly picture out of sequence. We stopped for lunch somewhere whose name I don't recall: the plan, I think, was to find a pleasant restaurant by the Mosel, but there was nowhere to park close to the river, and we ended up at (what turned out to be a very agreeable pub in) the converted railway station. Here, too, the only parking space was strictly time-limited, but I did snatch this one photo:

Dentist


You can see that's it's a dentist's premises, though you may have to click through to a larger image, by the handles on the glass doors: on the left, a caduceus, and on the right a tooth. What I can't explain is the black-clad figure climbing up over the porch: not, surely, all because the lady loves Milk Tray? That doesn't seem appropriate.

Today the sun is shining, which makes me think of future holidays. Here's an attractive place to stay, a lighthouse in Newfoundland (and here's the tour company that will organise the trip). Not this year, for which I have other plans, closer to home, but one day...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Two films and a folk club [Feb. 5th, 2018|05:35 pm]
shewhomust
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The PostCollapse )

Will Finn and Rosie Calvert at South Shields Folk ClubCollapse )

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, MissouriCollapse )

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Ring around the Moon [Feb. 2nd, 2018|03:04 pm]
shewhomust
Ring around the moon


Wednesday's blood blue supermoon didn't really perform for us. We are in the wrong place to see the eclipse which would have turned it red. When we left home to walk down to the pub quiz, it was bright and clear, but it didn't look quite full - nearly the perfect circle, but not quite.

By the time we returned, the sky had clouded over. This might have spoiled the effect, but didn't: there was a halo around the moon, and to the naked eye, the concentric rings were of three distinct shades: the disc was outlined in blue, then a broader band of grey, and then a ring of rust red.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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