mamoulian, stuff

Shiny! but in a good way.

I spent much of yesterday sorting through piles of paper - some of it in the form of comics, some not. This was a partial success. I did not find the things I was looking for (the comics we plan to consider at the next meeting of the Reading Group, the notepad for making shopping lists) but I did find several other things, and have almmost cleared a path across the floor of my study.

One of the things I founf was a card sent to me by a friend, an image titled 'Agapanthus' by Janine Partington - which enabled me to track down the artist, and more of her work. My card belongs in this series of enamels on copper: it's similar to the one labelled C44, but not identical. The thumbnail images don't convey the richness of the copper, it's worth clicking to bring up the larger image.

In fact, the card not only uses metallic foil for the copper, it has a border and highlights in a shade of blue-grey - pewter, perhaps? If I'd heard it described, I'd have thought this was a bad idea, that one metallic finish is one too many, and two is just silly. I'd have been weong.

So that was interesting.

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

Days

Today is a day [personal profile] durham_rambler and I observe as a significant anniversary.

For a short sentence, that one carries a number of footnotes. For one thing, it's not a wedding anniversary, since we never did the wedding, so we aren't limited to a single day in each year, but yeah, an anniversary of significance to us (also in the sense that it's - actually, I couldn't quite believe this when I first worked it out, but it is a 50th anniversary. Good grief!) For another, when I say we observe it, we are not punctilious about having celebrations on the actual date, and in fact [personal profile] durham_rambler has gone into Newcastle for the evening, to attend a meeting about (I think) WordPress plug-ins - which is why I am here and posting. But we did go out to lunch, at the Garden House: pub food with pretensions, but very pleasant (top tip: it is worth paying 50p extra for the triple-cooked chips).

Yesterday we went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, curious to see how see how something as essentially undramatic as a profile of Mr Rogers could support a feature film, anf encouraged by the Guardian's glowing review. We both emerged saying, well, that was interesting, but what I'd really like is to read the article it's based on. Thanks to Eaquire magazine, it's right here: and while I enjoyed the visual charm of the film, particularly in the use of the miniature town- (and city-) scapes, the article wins in its richness and nuance as a portrait. The film is handicapped by its rather saccharine plot (there is both hugging and learning) in which the fictionalised journalist is healed by Mr Rogers' intervention.

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

My conscience is clear

I keep a lot of tabs open on my browser (Firefox, though I don't think knowing that adds anything to the story). When I say 'a lot', I mean 'a LOT'. I make an effort to close some, from time to time, but I keep opening more.

I can, up to a point, justify this. Things I want to read, but but I don't have time right now, for example. Or sites like this one, which I visit so often that it isn't worth closing and re-opening - though that may shade into laziness. Ditto sites I'd rather keep open and logged in than go to the trouble of looking up my log-in details (not as many of these as there used to be, as I gain confidence in the browser's ability to remember these; quite apart from - but I'm getting to that!).

But most of the open tabs are (or were) related to work in progress. Useful links, whose usefulness related to a post I hadn't written, or photos I hadn't edited yet, references I had found once and wasn't sure I woud find again. Sites I maintain for clients, where I had long-term plans for updates, or things I needed to check from time to time (because it would be nice if clients remembered to pass on their news, but it's also nice that thet rely on me to know everything automatically) ... A sort of professional conscience, which reminded me of my obligations.

Of course there's a snag. Spot that past tense? Yes, I have managed to lose all those open tabs.

It had to happen, I suppose. I'm pretty careful about opening new windows - or rather, about closing them - but sooner or later one was going to slip through, and next time I opened Firefox, instead of my accumulated tabs, what I would see would be that one rogue site. And I have now arrived at sooner or later, and my carefully curated treasures (ahem) have been replaced by a random Amazon search.

I feel bereft, of course, but also liberated. My conscience has been cleared, through no choice of my own, it's a fresh start. I'll salvage what I can. No, I'll try to salvage only what I need.

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

The missing piece

The Guardian reports that the DigVentures excavation on Lindisfarne has found a very pretty thing, a blue and white glass hnefatafl gaming piece.

It seems to have emerged from the ground with a tantalising absence of context: "from a trench that has been dated from the eighth to ninth centuries." They don't even know whether to attribute the piece to the Viking raiders who made their first landfall here (the game is associated with the Vikings, as I learned last summer, on Fetlar) or with the Anglo Saxon monastery. I can imagine the Vikings taking a break from burning and looting over a relaxing boardgame, but one of this elegance? The monks must have been importing exotic pigments for the scriptorium, but would they have indulged in personal luxuries like this one? Who knows?

Nor do they comment about where the glass might have come from...

DigVentures functions through a mixture of crowdfunding and volunteers: press coverage of this find is angled to emphasise that it's an archaeologically respectable model, that properly supervised volunteers will not overlook the small but significant items. They must have been delighted that this find was made by the even more extreme non-professional, not even a seasonal volunteer, but the mother of one of the volunteers, who joined the dig just for one day. I can't help feeling for that volunteer, though.

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

Reunited

Our car has returned to us from the garage, cleaner, shinier and less dented than it left us. Also with a flat battery and a very strong perfume.

It had been away for a week, during which we were driving a courtesy car: a red Nissan, whose brand I can't remember. If I had bonded with this replacement, it might have been useful to know what it was, since we are beginning to consider what our next car might be. But it was a diesel model, so, not even remotely tempting. It had some clever tricks - the wing mirrors folded themselves in when you parked, out when you opened the doors - but I'm guessing this will be common in newer cars, and I found the doors heavy to open. I don't know what it felt like to drive, of course, but it felt clunky to me as a passenger. Fine for driving around town for a week, and all useful information.

All this was caused by one of the students next door over-eatimating his skill at combining a three point turn with a hill start; and paid for by his mother's insurance. He didn't do much damage. I don't know why the garage needed a whole week to hammer out a small dent and retouch the paintwork (no, of course they don't do that, they replace the entire panel) but in the process they seem to have cured the fault in the driver's window, which we are now able to open.

So on balance, I'm inclined to forgive the garage for the flat battery; we were able to start the car by rolling it downhill. And I expect the perfume will wear off eventually.

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

... and then two come along at once.

A fortnight ago, I wrote about Greta Gerwig's Little Women, a film adaptation of a popular nineteenth century novel with a substantial autobiographical element, which is played up by emphasising the aspect of the story which depicts the making of a writer. It is given a twenty-first century flavour by its emphasis on the need of all four sisters to find their own creative voice, and by a major star having a whale of a time in a minor rôle (that's Meryl Streep as Aunt March, if you've just joined us). It also acknowleges that many readers feel the central character marries the wrong person.

On Wednesday we went to see Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield, a film adaptation of a popular nineteenth century novel with a substantial autobiographical element, which is played up by emphasising the aspect of the story which depicts the making of a writer. It is given a twenty-first century flavour by its colourblind casting, despite which it has room not only for a major star having even more of a whale of a time in a minor rôle (that'd be Peter Capaldi as Mr Micawber) but also for two lovely performances from damiliar faces so inhabiting their parts that I dorgot for minutes on end that they were Tilda Swinton and Hugh Laurie. It also acknowleges that many readers feel the central character marries the wrong person.

I may or may not have read David Copperfield: if I have, it was half a ccentury ago. I recognised much of the story, but that doesn't prove much; I also failed to recognise much of the narrative, which doesn't prove much either, and also doesn't matter. I was greatly entertained, and the film certainly didn't make me any less likely to read the book.

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

Great first lines

His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.

This is the first line of Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean, and it's a fair sample of the book: vivid, beautifully written, but an arduous read. Being someone's packed lunch is far from the worst thing that happens to a seabird in it, or to a boy either.

It's based on a true story of St Kilda - no, not the evacuation, something that happened in the eighteenth century, when a party of men and boys visiting one of the sea stacks to gather birds and eggs, were marooned there. I won't say why, or for how long, since that's part of the story - although I knew the outlines of what happened, and I was still gripped and appalled. The book has been my bedtime reading, but I had to finish it this afternoon: I slept badly last night, and whether or not it is to blame, I couldn't face returning to it tonight.

This may, or may not, be regarded as a rccommendation.

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

Telling the bees

I had bad news about a friend last night, and this post is part of how I deal with it. I won't say much: I don't feel as if its my story to tell; and I'm not looking for much response - in fact, I'll close comments. But it doesn't feel right to pass it by unreported: this journal is, after all, as much my diary as anything else.

We learned last night that a member of the pub quiz team who has not been seen so far this year is in hospital: he is suddenly and seriously ill. I am shocked, distressed, outraged: it seems so arbitrary, so unfair (as of course it is, as life is). He's a nice man: we are not close, exactly, I know him precisely as well as you would know anyone with whom you have spent an evening somewhere between once a week and once a fortnight for the last four years, and spent that time thinking quite intently about something. It's a relationship which is both quite narrow and curiously intimate.

Another member of the team had also been missing, but there was no mystery about this: he had circulated a photo of himself with one arm bandaged: he was present last night and was able to explain that he had cut himself very badly (tendons in two fingers had to be reattached) breaking a wineglass while emptying the dishwasher on Christmas Day. I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.

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

Five things make an unexpectedly January post

  • Have I broken the Dreamwidth spell checker? I don't rely on it for spelling, but it does help me spot typos, of which I make a large number (as anyone who reads me already knows). The last few posts though, it has told me there are no spelling errors: what, none? No typos. no names it doesn't recognise, no markup tags, no British Englidh spellings? It doesn't seem possible ...


  • I have just packaged up a small birthday gift which, if I can get it to a post office tomorrow, will arrive no more than two weeks late. I am pretty disgusted with myself about this. There are various excuses I might produce (it's hard to focus on a birthday in early January; the recipient is a college friend, we are barely in touch and this ritual exchange of gifts has become silly ...) but none of them is the reason for being so late. I am just really bad at finding packaging, and wrapping things up, not to mention taking them to the post office,


  • When did January become such a big deal? New Year resolutions have always been a thing, I suppose, but they were personal - in the sense that you didn't know whether someone had made any, and if so, what, until you asked them. Now my daily paper is full of 'New Year, new you' articles, encouragement to observe Veganuary or Dry January. Even Saturday's Travel section was full of wellness retreats and spas. This is probably no more than the usual level of wellness and lifestyle advice, dialled up a notch for January - but since it is already in excess of my requirements anyway, do we have to increase the volume for January?


  • I'm not interested in a spa holiday. With one exception: Spa itself looks rather inviting.


  • And in other holiday news: no news, but some long-standing plans. We will spend midsummer on Lindisfarne, and help D. celebrate a significant birthday in Scotland in August. It is too long since we have been in France, and I intend to do something about that this year, probably in the autumn. Which seems a very long way off. We are expecting various visitors in the spring, which is a fun reason for not going away ourselves...


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

Books are better

I'd read enough about Greta Gerwig's Little Women that I was curious to see it: [personal profile] nineweaving loved it, [personal profile] fjm (over on FaceBook) hated it, and both for what seemed to be sound reasons. I've just failed to find [personal profile] fjm's post, so this is vague, but she was critical of things which appeared to be details, but which misread the attitudes of the period, and of the March / Alcott family in particular. Hadley Freeman makes some related points in more general terms (and I'll come back to this).

We saw the film last Wednesday, and we both enjoyed it: Collapse )

Tom Gauld has the last word.

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