cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
Found a nice new blog, Wyrd Britain, which is full of supernatural stuff and folk horror - specifically I was interested in the latest post, about The Witches and the Grinnygog. I'd thought I knew all of that sort of children's TV series made in Britain in the 80s, but apparently not. Watched it on YouTube and I don't think this one will be getting a DVD revival for the reasons the blogger points out, but it was an interesting curiosity.

Then, through the IMDb page for the series, I came across this Den of Geek article: Spooky and magical 80s kids' TV dramas which mentioned a few more that I'm unfamiliar with. There's also some interesting stuff suggested below it which will enchant anyone of the right age to remember Look and Read...
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
Finished:
Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth - This was very satisfying and fun: essentially, if you want to hang out with Oscar Wilde and his friends and solve mysteries, this is the book (and series) for you. And who doesn't want to do that? I'll continue to read these as I spot secondhand copies.

Doctor Occult - Dave Louapre, Dan Sweetman (Vertigo Visions, 1/1) - I hadn't come across Doctor Occult before (appallingly, I still haven't finished reading The Books of Magic; if he's an an issue I have read then I don't recall him), but it turns out he's another old DC character like the Sandman who was resurrected in a new form by Neil Gaiman. Doctor Occult and his partner Rose Psychic are, in this incarnation, aspects of the same being, and when Rose disappears, the Doctor must find her in a world of subconscious desires.

So it's a metaphysical, psychosexual journey where the plot is more character-driven than an ongoing series would demand - in other words, the sort of thing that Vertigo Visions one-shots were made for. The real-world background stuff shows its age a little, in that the gender fluidity of Occult/Rose is counterpointed by a trans interviewee on a TV talk show in a way that's played for 'extreme' value (they're a preacher and have transitioned more than once).

Overall, the comic's typical of Vertigo's attempts to push boundaries in storytelling at the time, and if you love 90s-style pencilling and colouring, the art will certainly be your bag. There's also a hilariously pithy summing up of the characters' adventures up to that point inside the front cover, which makes me want to dig around in our collection to see where else they show up.

Reading next:

A handful of DP7 comics we found in a charity shop.
cloudsinvenice: Medieval art: illuminated manuscript with a knight in gold leaf (semyaza illuminated)
First off, there's another Friending Friendzy post here in case you're looking. Secondly, here's a post from back in July: Why Imzy doesn't have ads, and what we're doing instead which has some stuff I hadn't heard before. I'm not altogether convinced all these ideas will work, but it's interesting anyhow.

Finished recently:

Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age, by Björn Kurtén. The author is an expert on Ice Age fauna, so it's interesting to read speculation rooted in deep knowledge, and his afterword, along with Stephen Jay Gould's introduction, really add to it. Since the book is a few decades old, I'd imagine that much then-current information has been superseded by new discoveries (we often seem to hear that we've underestimated the Neandertals, for instance), but the characters, situations and world are compelling enough for this not to matter. But the best pleasure of this book is a piece of narrative boldness: a third of the way through, we switch to hear the story from the antagonist's point of view, before returning to the protagonist for the last third. The only real problem for me is that the ending feels very rushed, which is a pity after everything else has been so cleverly set up and allowed room to breathe.

Currently reading:

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, by Gyles Brandreth. I thought that what I'd previously read was the first in the series: actually this is the first, and that was the second. It doesn't matter, though if you're looking for the series in America you need to know that some of the titles have been changed for that market. Here's a nice interview with the author, too, in which he theorises that Wilde may have been the model for Mycroft Holmes.

Good Kings Bad Kings, by Susan Nussbaum. So far this is very good, though harrowing at points. I'm very glad it was recommended to me.

Reading next:

Something digital in a waiting room, probably.
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
I saw the movie! I'm just going to bullet point everything that comes to mind because coherent reviews are some way beyond me at this point.

spoilers spoiling for a fight )

ETA: Someone on FFA caught an interview with the writers. Again, SPOILERS: http://fail-fandomanon.dreamwidth.org/195638.html?thread=1072564278#cmt1072564278
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
I get asked about making these every year, so this time I thought I'd take pictures during the process and make a tutorial. This is probably more than you need to know (in the later stages it's not unlike working with pumpkin; there's just more resistance), but here's something to bookmark in case you make one next year or for some other festival with lanterns. And please post a picture if you do!

You'll that vegetable which goes by one of the above names, depending where you live, plus a good sturdy vegetable knife (whatever you use to cut carrots will work; they're of a similar density/brittleness) and a dessertspoon or tablespoon, and it helps a lot to have a craft/hobby/breakaway knife for the detail work.

'Aha! I see you've played Knifey Spoony before!' )

Happy Hallowe'en! :D
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
I can't believe it's been a month since I did this, but then it was a very busy one...

...and then I cleverly left in the filler text and had to edit the cut )
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
...but this is an incredibly weird list:

http://www.listchallenges.com/books-youll-never-brag-about-having-read/

I mean, there are the obvious blockbusters that people love to mock, like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and The Da Vinci Code, but otherwise a lot of the significance escapes me; they seem to be American popular political/psychological hits, plus the odd work of Nazi propaganda that a lot of history students will actually have read because they're studying the period.

Anyway, I've read 12/100, and I've got Peyton Place on the shelf waiting for me to get round to it...
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
We've just spent the last half hour watching videos of this cockatoo. He's fantastic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYzqEbfRSSs
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
Close enough, I guess. But I've decided to give myself an amnesty on the backlog; there comes a point when it's just irrational to attempt to catch up on five months' worth of unwritten-up books.

So, most recently... )
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
Naturally after the tumult of The End Of Hannibal, I had to get back into Ripper Street. I am assured that it's worth hanging in there for, but my god, it's accomplished more wailing and gnashing of teeth in this house in the first four episodes of season 3 than Hannibal did in an entire three seasons. Yes, even the episode with the... laboratory slides...

Reassuringly, vidders have made two versions of the Friends opening credits, remixed a la Hannibal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvbStXI97i8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-9MkUA94q0
cloudsinvenice: Tony Stark removing his old arc reactor (Iron Man unplug)
The story of the women's history museum which mysteriously transformed (via the process, often contentious in British life, of getting planning permission) into a sensationalist-looking Jack the Ripper museum is making its way around the world. Here's a few interesting links:

- The Guardian: Jack the Ripper's victims deserve to be commemorated. But like this?
- [personal profile] londonkds: Fisking the Jack the Ripper Museum
- 38 Degrees petition to Tower Hamlets Council: Celebrate Suffragettes Not Serial Killers
- Protest at the museum opening on Tuesday 4th August! Women's history is not Jack the Ripper!

Other things:

- Jacqueline Wilson has written a new take on What Katy Did.
- Twitter, unable to grasp that endless growth might not be possible or desirable, considers being more like Facebook.
- [livejournal.com profile] arcadiaego informs me of the existence of a longstanding fan project at [profile] read_lotr_aloud, where a small group of fans have spent most of the last decade building up a chapter-by-chapter audiobook. Sean Astin even reads the first section! Is anyone aware of other projects like this?
- [livejournal.com profile] ladysisyphus has an epic post on The Blair Witch Project and the movies that tried to emulate its impact without really understanding it. So delicious to see a good chunk of horror meta on LJ!
- In other news, shoestring film production company Mansfield Dark have come up with a beautiful 12-minute shadow puppet version of Count Magnus by M.R. James. You can see the trailer here and also find a link to buy the DVD, which comes with a lovely piece of art on the slipcase. Mine arrived this morning, to my considerable delight. The Mansfield Dark guys are both talented and ingenious, making everything from this gorgeousness to comedy to LGBT thrillers, so go check them out.
- A friend recommended browser extension FB Purity as a solution to the man ways in which Facebook is annoying. I haven't installed it yet, but perhaps some of you feel like trying it too.
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
...Robin of Sherwood is coming back as a one-off radio play with many of the original cast! :D

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a659864/1980s-tv-series-robin-of-sherwood-is-returning-as-a-radio-play.html#~pjAhWs6pYu22zJ

ETA: Here's another article from the Radio Times website, with a slightly different list. Very encouraging so far... http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-07-23/robin-of-sherwood-to-return-with-stars-jason-connery-ray-winstone-judi-trott-and-clive-mantle
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
...at least, insofar as it furnishes me with gems like this video:

A Horse Says 'Benny Hill' In LOTR
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Iron Man flying)
I fell out of doing the Wednesday reading meme back in April, which is unfortunate because at the time I still had a backlog dating from the end of February to work on. So, nearly five months' worth of books...

...will certainly not be tackled in this one post, but I can make a dent in them at least. )

Well, this has taken me into April. I'm going to try and post another batch of these every day until I get to what I'm reading now...
cloudsinvenice: 1890s woman sprawling exhausted on a sofa (Young Lady After The Ball)
To my utter delight, it emerges that The Independent has a feature that is basically Fandom Wank in non-fannish contexts. The examples that brought this to light:

- Two men have ridiculous fight about how many days are in a week

Marks and Spencer didn't give an elderly couple two tea bags and people on Facebook can't cope
cloudsinvenice: sepia photo of man at typewriter with cats on his shoulders and desk (Default)
I originally typed "too hired to think", which I think says it all really.

Inspirograph - go and play with it!

Budget 2015

Jul. 8th, 2015 11:30 pm
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (woman thinking (Joseph Kleitsch)
Well, today was the Budget. I've been very lucky today; the changes they're making don't shaft me, though they do a hell of a lot of other people. I've got friends who aren't sure yet how they're going to be affected - we're still trying to clarify, for example, whether contribution-based ESA will behave in the same way as regular ESA under the changes, or whether it'll be eliminated as has previously been discussed. I talked to a lot of friends today and people are variously bemused, scared, despairing - and that's just the disabled people I know.

Maintenance grants for low-income students are being abolished and replaced with loans (because students aren't in enough debt, apparently). And while the Chancellor huffed and puffed a lot about how great the Tories are and how much they value the institutions of the BBC and the NHS, when you read below the lines, they are notably undermining them and still working towards their privatisation. The National Living Wage, meanwhile, is a joke - it'll be lower than the existing minimum wage. Correction: very much to my surprise and pleasure, this is wrong: it will in fact be higher, which just shows the need not to report stuff without checking. Details of this, and further fact-checking of the Budget claims, can be found here: https://fullfact.org/factcheck/economy/budget_summer_2015_osborne_harman-46357

It's not all bad news - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) mounted a courageous action in which they completely blocked Westminster Bridge and the front of Parliament, ensuring that George Osborne had to be taken to deliver his speech via an underground route. I don't know how well covered this been in the mainstream media, but I urge you to share the YouTube videos wherever you can online - it is so, so psychologically important that people, both disabled and able-bodied, see resistance; that they see ordinary people like them occupying public spaces and communicating our message. Chunkymark, the Artist Taxi Driver, has various bits of footage of DPAC: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGThM-ZZBba1Zl9rU-XeR-A

Something I've been thinking about for the last couple of years is the fact that we're living through history, but history is often recorded in a biased way. We have to make sure that this doesn't happen - yes, we have to fight austerity and prejudice now, but we also need to look to posterity and record our experiences and observations in every way possible. I'm not just talking about the internet - if you've spent long enough online, then you've seen a lot of websites come and go. What I'm saying is, don't leave our cultural repository of these events to any one ephemeral medium or platform. Get the message out every way you can.

Please note that this is a public post. I welcome your comments but wanted to highlight this because I know this affects some of you in very personal ways and I wanted you to be aware in case you are sharing personal details.
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
For a short time I felt a ridiculous sense of achievement: I'd finally tracked down the text of something I'd once seen being performed by Harry Secombe (90% sure it was him, anyway) on a BBC archive clip. The sketch consisted of him explaining that there's no such work as Paradise Lost, based on the assertion that none of us knows anyone who's read the whole thing. (I suspect a fair few of you would disprove that, but it was funny.) The Daily Mail (so it's good for something...) supplied the context that it had been written by Bernard Levin for Ned Sherrin's That Was The Week That Was, and I actually thought that I'd found the full text on the website of a literary magazine, The Foliate Oak, except that their poem on the subject (which I like very much) is credited to Mark J. Mitchell, and doesn't contain the quote that the DM article included.

Despite a YouTube search, the sketch 'There Is No Such Book As Paradise Lost' remains elusive...

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