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The Dark is Rising sequence - part one

I read The Dark is Rising (the novel) a few years ago because it seemed right up my street: Christmas, folklore, mythology, Christmas-specific folklore and mythology... you get the idea. My feelings about it were mixed (see below) and I gave away my copy, which I later regretted, so I was happy when R turned up a slipcase with all five books in the sequence. This Christmas I decided to read them all in order, and while my feelings are still mixed, I enjoyed the series more than I'd expected to, and it's given me a lot to think about.

To start with the first two books...Collapse )

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Jan. 8th, 2017

Finally got around to seeing Macbeth (2015) and loved it. There are little things like the children singing to Duncan which don't add anything to the plot, and to the best of my recollection aren't in the play, but add enormously to it. It's very particular in its sense of location: not a specific place in Scotland, so much as the atmosphere and emotional sense of place. Actually, what it reminds me most of, in that way and in terms of the quality of the cinematography, is A Field in England.

Tried an episode of Taboo but it didn't grab either of us, but tomorrow I'll have to see the new episode of Sherlocl. Obviously I wasn't wild about last week's, but I am curious about what the writers are up to and I'd like to see if it's more engaging.

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Immediate thoughts

Bear in mind that I'm faintly hysterical, since the moment I got online to rant about the show I fell over this bizarre news story about the sinking of the Titanic, and I can no longer tell what's real and what is highly contrived clickbait-esque bollocks. In the context of seeing a new Sherlock episode, this is most unfortunate.

Anyway, Sherlock...Collapse )

"so hold on, hold on for your life"

Quiet week post-wise because country slipping (hurtling joyfully, truth be told) into fascism. Always awkward when that happens. Shitposting on my new Tumblr created for the purpose of alternately venting and cheering myself up will continue until morale improves. And we made major headway with the application this week, which has kept us sane.

Meanwhile, I started the annual push to keep The October Country running smoothly for the duration of autumn and particularly October, and as usual Now Winter Comes Slowly is quietly ramping up as well. I'm always fascinated by trying to get under the skin of what works and what doesn't on there - sometimes you can feel like you have your finger on its pulse, other times, it's a mystery why something does or does not appeal.

It's getting me into the Hallowe'en mood, anyway, as is the fact that in the last couple of days I've actually been able to smell that it's autumn, which is no small thing when you're nearly always congested...

Thank you, the internets...

This is amazing. In the course of only 14 posts, an innocent thread on how to join together two pieces of carpet descends into anger and recrimination...

http://www.diynot.com/diy/threads/joining-carpets.78477/

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Interesting question...

What's going to die out in the next twenty years because the younger generations simply have no attachment to it?

I've been reading this Reddit thread on and off for the past 48 hours; towards the end it repeats a lot as more people just come in going, "cursive" or "cable TV" over and over, but the first, say, 10 subthreads are fascinating. I think my favourite is the wedding china one (I never knew what its historical significance was re: women's personal assets being untouchable in the event of a bankruptcy), but I like the thing about dining rooms too. Certainly, our dining room's dining function is a long way behind the fact that it's also a library whose table is good for working on and using for jigsaws...

The thing with high school reunions is interesting too: increasingly, the difficulty is not in keeping up with people from your past, but avoiding them online...

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Weird kids' TV of my childhood

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...

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Wednesday Reading Meme

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.

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Return of the book meme (still late)

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.