sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
[personal profile] sovay
So I had a completely miserable night with a lot of pain and zero sleep and only managed to nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon and woke up to grey rain and some potential medical news I'm going to want a serious double-check on, but as I made my intermittent rounds of other people's Tumblrs I saw that [personal profile] selkie had just tagged me for a gifset of twenty-year-old Jeremy Brett as some kind of uncredited beautiful student in Noel Langley's Svengali (1954) and that does help, thank you.

potluck yoga

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:35 pm
lamentables: (Default)
[personal profile] lamentables
It was the last yoga session of the term today, which necessitated some cooking over the weekend, ready for our traditional potluck lunch.

I think I've previously mentioned the occasional benefit of being the last drop for the vegbox man - the week of 18 avocados? (Some weeks there are items missing from my box, so it's not all good news.) This week there was a bonus net of lemons in my box, so I was inspired to make lemon polenta cake. But to make life easier I made small individual cakes in bun cases.

Lemon polenta cakes #oftheday #whenlifegivesyou🍋🍋

They are delicious and, I reckon, better than a single large cake. I had to grind my own almond flour (also contains hazelnuts, because not quite enough almonds) and I think that really enhanced the cakes, making the texture more uneven and interesting.

the recipe )

And as a savoury, I baked some individual 'frittatas'. Or maybe they were pastry-less quiches. It all depends on how you look at things. Either way, they were very tasty and I shall be making them again for my lunches.

Mini frittata #oftheday #omnomnom

They contain roast veg, feta, finely sliced onions, and egg whisked with a little milk. I seasoned only with salt and pepper, but the roast veg has such an intense flavour that this was the right choice. The bonus is that the veg was a bit tired and limp, so I was using it up before it had to be thrown away. And there's a bit more roast veg in a box in the fridge as a handy ingredient for I don't yet know what.
larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
[personal profile] larryhammer
For Poetry Monday, jumping ahead to a post-Elizabethan sonneteer:


Sonnet VI from Sappho & Phaon, Mary Robinson

Is it to love, to fix the tender gaze,
    To hide the timid blush, and steal away;
    To shun the busy world, and waste the day
In some rude mountain’s solitary maze?
Is it to chant one name in ceaseless lays,
    To hear no words that other tongues can say,
    To watch the pale moon’s melancholy ray,
To chide in fondness, and in folly praise?
    Is it to pour th’ involuntary sigh,
To dream of bliss, and wake new pangs to prove;
    To talk, in fancy, with the speaking eye,
Then start with jealousy, and wildly rove;
    Is it to loath the light, and wish to die?
For these I feel,—and feel that they are love.


Mary Robinson was an English actress, royal mistress (her role as Perdita from A Winter's Tale gave the future George IV his early nickname of Florizel), and (after those two careers washed up) popular early Romantic poet. While there had been a few sonnets written in the decade before this was published, after being totally out of fashion for over a century, her Sappho and Phaon was the first sonnet cycle of the Romantic era, and a significant part of rehabilitating the form. If you like any of Wordsworth's sonnets, thank Robinson. If you like this sonnet, go read the rest: it's good.

---L.

Subject quote from "Who's Next?" Tom Lehrer.

(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:24 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
It is an understatement to say that I don't like Theresa May in the least, and think she is doing the country a lot of harm - and yet, I still find Tim Lott more annoying.
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
[personal profile] sovay
I do not think after all that I have read Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965); I think I have just read a lot of E. Nesbit, Mary Norton, and Edward Eager, all of whom are obviously in the DNA of a novel about five children—the English narrator and his two sisters plus their Scottish cousins who are known collectively as "the Clans"—who find a strange, ancient, sentient power that brings magic into their lives for about a week and then moves on, leaving mostly memories and just a few things changed for good.

"One touch from me animates the inanimate," boasts the Apple-Stone, the "small, bright, golden ball, about the size of a marble" that assisted in the birth of the universe and gave rise to the myth of the Golden Apples of the Sun; the children find it on the highest bough in the orchard, like a Sappho fragment come to life, and they make enlightening, foolish, dangerous, and kind use of it over the next twelve chapters until it returns to the earth to sleep and restore its power and find another apple tree to bloom from, decades or centuries hence. Most of their adventures have a comic slant, as when they animate the decrepit hearthrug to settle a bet over what kind of animal it came from and never find out because they spend the day having confused their "Lambie" with an actual escaped leopard prowling the moors, or have to play detectives for a lost glove weeping bitterly over being separated from its beloved right hand ("I'm deeply attached to it. I love it"), or create an intelligent, talkative, opera-loving sheep about twice the size of a Great Dane for reasons that make sense at the time. Sometimes the comedy turns spooky, as when they accidentally animate a feather boa and get Quetzalcoatl, who not unreasonably expects a sacrifice for incarnating when called, or an episode with a formerly model rocket triggers an international incident and science fiction, or the narrator discovers an unexpected and unwanted affinity for night flight on a witch's broom. An interlude with an effigy of a Crusader constitutes the kind of history lesson that would fit right into Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), as some of the children have their romantic illusions punctured and some come away with an interest in astrology and medicinal plants. And the two weirdest, most numinous chapters are the reason I can't be one hundred percent sure that I didn't read this book a long, long time ago: the life and death of the Bonfire Night guy that is partly the sad, passionate ghost of Guy Fawkes and partly a pyromaniac patchwork of the five children whose castoffs and imagination gave it form (as it explains in one of its more lucid moments, "Everyone is a mixture, you know, and I'm more so than most") and the introduction of new magic when the weeping gargoyle off a nearby church turns out to be the stone-trapped form of a medieval demon named "Little Tom," a wild, ragged, not quite human child in tricksterish and forlorn search of a witch to be familiar to. Both of them gave me the same half-echo as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew (1953), again without any of the language coming back to me. I might run it by my mother to see if she remembers bringing it home when I was small. On the other hand, it might just be that I know [personal profile] ashlyme and [personal profile] nineweaving.

The Apple-Stone is the second book I've read by Gray and The Seventh Swan (1962) almost doesn't count, since I know I read it in elementary school and all I can remember is that it upset me more than the original fairy tale, which I suspect means I should re-read it. I like this one a lot, non-magical parts included. We learn early on that the parents of the English family are the puppeteers behind the popular TV show Ben and Bet Bun and absolutely none of their children think once of bringing the Buns or the Foxies to life because they find the whole thing desperately embarrassing. (The Clans' parents are rocket scientists and the narrator envies them deeply. "We're fond of our Mum and Dad, and hope they may grow out of it in time.") The children as a group are a believable, likeable mix of traits and alliances, differentiated well beyond obvious tags like Jo's academic crazes or Nigel's artistic talent or Douglas' belligerence or Jemima's imperiousness or Jeremy's daydreaming. They fight almost constantly with one another—the Clans especially, being composed of one Campbell and one Macdonald, are engaged in the kind of dramatic ongoing feud that is half performance art and half really blowing off steam—but close ranks immediately against outsiders, even supernatural ones:

"But I must tell you straight, gentles, that I can't do much of the true Black Art," said the gargoyle. "I'm not one of the great ones. I was never aught but a very little 'un. Horrid tricks I can manage," it added, boastfully, "like makin' folks squint, or muddling their minds, or twisting their tongues so that they stammers and stutters—"

"I c-can do that without your help!" snapped Nigel, going red.

"And I'm muddleheaded enough for everyone," I said, quickly.

"No, you're not!" said Jo, fiercely. "And Nigel only stutters when he's away from his home." Then she turned on the gargoyle. "You'll do no horrid tricks, do you hear? We're not sorcerers. We brought you here to help you."

The creature was still changing during all of this . . . Its hair was long and black, and tangled. Its ears were still pointed, though not as huge and batlike as before. It gave us a scornful grin, and said, "Many sorcerers don't care to admit to it."


If you have not read this novel, you can probably tell by now if you're going to like it. The Nesbit it reminds me of most is The Enchanted Castle (1907), but it feels like itself and it feels like its own time, which is equally important. I am actively sad that the near-fine UK first edition I saw at Readercon cost sticker shock—the library copy I just finished reading is the American first edition and the illustrations really didn't work for me. (I'm sorry, Charles Keeping! Your work for Alan Garner, Mollie Hunter, and Rosemary Sutcliff was great!) Maybe sometime I'll get lucky at the Strand. In any case, the text is what matters most and that I recommend. It is good at the strangeness of things that are not human and it never risks making even the cute ones twee. It's good at children's priorities and the ways that not being an adult doesn't mean not seeing the world. I didn't quote much of a descriptive passage, but I like its language. Anyone with other favorite novels by Nicholas Stuart Gray, please let me know.

some things

Jul. 23rd, 2017 10:13 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
* I was reminded of Happy Together, last mentioned here two years ago, when Reason requested a Song So-hee clip from YouTube as bedtime music and YouTube's sidebar suggested the HT episode on which she'd appeared in 2014. (Reason is fascinated by a young entertainer; I ...want Song So-hee to continue maturing so that her voice sounds less shrill.) They seated her in the prestige spot, but she's youngest of the five guests on that ep and she knew it; she has restrained manners.

Anyway (I didn't watch the whole thing), then the sidebar suggested the 2014 HT featuring Jackie Chan, Narsha, and [Choi] Siwon. omg. (KBS is kind: HT ?always has English subtitles.) Chan speaks a bit of Korean, and the dour co-host speaks some Mandarin, so they patched the opener into a hilarious moment in which Chan (by far the eldest person present) says that he'd rather call the lead host "oppa" instead of "hyeong" because it's easier to say. In general, oppa is what a girl or woman might call a slightly older male person whom she considers close, or the term she'd use for an actual older brother; hyeong is what a boy or man would use for an older male person, similarly, except not so similar, is it, when most young women with boyfriends call the bf "oppa" too. And then Chan addresses the co-host as eonni (older sister if you're a female speaker). :P As the host remarks near the four-minute mark, everyone's wearing headsets so that offstage translators can supply the guests and hosts with translations as needed, heh. Those translators must be amazing---there's hardly a lag, and the manner of delivery (it's "live" comedy) suggests that they don't cut much during post-production.

Notably, the host calls Chan "seonsaengnim," teacher, which is as it ought to be. One reason that Korea likes Yu Jae Seok---"the nation's MC"---is that he's funny, he pokes at things, yet (at least on this show) he holds a line.

Also, Jackie Chan loves the environment, and he tries to make his staff respect it as well.

And then I stopped watching because sleep matters more, but on another day...

* ...I picked up the "I am from America" HT special (2015) with five guests, three younger and two older. I happen to have seen two (one from each subgroup) in kdramas: Stephanie Lee in Second Last Love and Yi Hyeon U in Dal Ja's Spring. The humor's more predictable because I'm more familiar with the crossings, but I still laughed. Must remember to dip into HT every so often for ear-practice.

Everyone make their best dead faces

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:55 am
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
I did not make it to the last day of Necon due to circumstances falling through, but fortunately [personal profile] handful_ofdust was flying back to Toronto from Boston, so I took the time-honored Sunday combination of very slow buses, trains, and shuttles out to Logan Airport and had a splendid time hanging out for two hours before her flight, even if I still miss being able to walk people to their gates and wave them off onto the plane. We had dinner and talked about everything from neurodiversity to Orson Krennic, Imperial Poseur; I came away richer by a binder of DVDs (through which [personal profile] spatch is happily poring as we speak: "We could watch Moana! You know you've also got Deathgasm? Ooh, Night of the Comet. Logan, that's good") and a Gemma-made necklace of amethyst, pearls, gold and amber glass beads, and a frosted-glass pendant that used to be an earring. Coming back, I foolishly thought it would be faster to cut over to the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing and that is how I spent forty-five minutes asleep in a sitting position on a bench at Sullivan Station because there were no buses and I was very tired. The air was cool and smelled like the sea. The cats came and curled up with me in the last of the sunlight when I got home. Worth it.

concert reviews @Menlo

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:01 pm
calimac: (Haydn)
[personal profile] calimac
Life goes on, for those of us lucky enough to be alive.

I'm still occupying much of my time at the Menlo festival, where workers are rolling the artificial lawns back onto the gravel, fortunately. My review of last Saturday's first concert, the Italian Baroque one, is up, and I see the Daily Journal has entirely redone its archives. All my past links here to my articles there are dead, though I have redone all the ones on my own webpage list of my journalism.

The second concert of high classics I already mentioned here; and here's the third, Thursday's covering the cusp between Classical and Romantic. That Mendelssohn not only was already composing before Beethoven died, but had heard his late music and was inspired by it, is something I've noted before; and Spohr's octet - which Menlo has played before - was also a then-new work Mendelssohn had heard and absorbed.

In theory I could go on like this - concert 4 with the Schumann/Brahms circle (nothing by Clara, but it does have Joachim) was tonight and tomorrow, and I'd love to attend, but no; my assignments have ceased for the moment and I have other tasks to attend to. But I'll be back later.

In the meantime I did get to the first young performers' concert (10 to 18) on Sunday, including all 3 groups I'd heard Gilbert Kalish coach on Thursday, and I may get to one or two more of those master classes.

I did get to one more lecture, violinist Aaron Boyd's eccentrically-spoken encomium to Fritz Kreisler. His worshipfulness of Kreisler is so great that someone asked if Kreisler had made any recordings that were less than perfect. Well, yes, Boyd admitted, that during Kreisler's last couple decades when he was totally deaf he did make some he should not have; but then Boyd went on to describe how even the deaf Kreisler was so great a player he moved other violinists to tears.

He didn't mention my favorite Kreisler anecdote: the one about the hoax Kreisler pulled by attributing concert pieces to then-obscure Baroque composers, raising a furor when he revealed that he'd composed them himself. Here, for instance, is the concerto he ascribed to Vivaldi. This was written in 1927 when few people had heard much Vivaldi, whose works were only then being unearthed, and didn't know what he sounded like. This sounds more like Bach, or perhaps Handel, to me, except for the final eight bars which must be a total put-on that don't sound like anybody.
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
The next three episodes are a minor arc: the first two end mid-conversation. This is the arc that got me obsessed with the show—not only was the emotional dimension compelling, but I was catching Mei Changsu in the act of greatness, showing us how he does it. And the conversations about the past, about political expediency and loyalty and so forth resonated to the backs of my eyeballs, all the more considering the daily news here, focused on politicians from whom absolutely nothing can be believed or trusted, whatsoever. Nothing. It’s such a horrible, helpless feeling as we watch the limits of democracy tested, that watching a show in which people with good intentions slowly gain agency to the benefit of the innocent pretty much took over my life for the duration.

And it helps that the actors are all so gorgeous, the clothes jaw-droppingly beautiful, the sets all places I would dearly love to live in myself.

Anyway, Marquis Xie is shaping up for a major power play, thinking that he is maneuvering behind the scenes while his targets fumble in the light of day. But as yet he doesn’t know that he is quietly being outpaced, step by step . . .
Read more... )
[syndicated profile] awfullybigblog_feed
Patrick Gale had a desire to be anything that didn’t make money ­– a musician, an actor, an author . . .

A friend of a friend ‘won’ him in an auction and so I heard this first hand in her living room. It’s always a treat to see inside another author’s mind, and to meet someone whose books I have enjoyed – most recently, A Place Called Winter – made it all the more interesting. Here’s some more of what the author of 16 novels and many other written works, including Man in an Orange Shirt soon to be aired on BBC TV, had to say:

Learning to write – Reading teaches you to write.

Writing is a 9 to 5 job ­– Patrick gets up and out to his office by 9, unless he’s in publicity mode.

Pens and paper still have a place ­–  He writes the whole manuscript in a notebook. The front is the story. The back is his quarry where he jots notes. He carries it around with him. There’s no copy! When the draft is finished, he types it up, editing along the way.

Structure – Chronology isn’t something he’s fond of. Many of his books play with structure – it’s something he’s interested in. Time, character, place . . . can all dictate the final shape. When he transfers the words from the notebook to the computer and can cut and paste huge swathes at will he finds the right way to tell the story. Breaking up the narrative means you can avoid the boring bits and focus on crisis points. When using time shifts, he finds the historical parts are more compelling and have more energy – maybe because they take more effort.

On research in the field –­ Write as much of the story as you can before you go so that your time is targeted and you don’t end up shoe-horning in stuff because you bothered to find it out!

His territory – Family, of which he has a rich personal source.
 

Titles – How refreshing to learn that he changes his mind repeatedly . . . The Lead-lined Room has become Thumb Position and now maybe The Rocks Along Our Way.

His favourite book – Most proud of the most recent. Most protective of the WIP.

His favourite writer – Colm Tóibín

Noting down snippets in wee jotters for future use – Not something he does. ‘The things you need to remember you’ll remember when you need them.’

And the future – Patrick is getting braver . . . and darker.

Tracy Alexander

Beware the perils of fine writing

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:21 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[personal profile] shewhomust
And, speaking of holidays...

I enjoyed writing that post about what we did on my birthday, and making pretty patterns out of words and ideas. But if it weren't for sorting through my photos, seeing those patterns would have stopped me seeing things that didn't fit the pattern, our walk around Bouillon the previous evening, and the fact that we started our exploration of Trier that same day, still my birthday. I could have told you that I lunched on excellent chips, sitting on the steps of the fountain in the marketplace, enjoying the sunshine - but it took my photos to remind me that we also visited the cathedral. What can I say? My memory has its priorities.

It's a perfectly good cathedral. Living in Durham, I'm a bit spoilt for cathedrals, and after Trier we visited Aachen, about whose cathedral there will be much more, in due course. Also, in Trier the Cathedral has to compete with the Basilica. But it's a good cathedral. Here's how it looked from our bathroom window:

Cathedral view


More pictures under the cut )

Belated Memery

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:48 pm
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
The Kindly Ones for [personal profile] carbonel

Story here

This is an ambitious story. Its theme, basically, is "Snobbery with Violence." It's set in the place where I learned to sail, and I wanted it to have a ferocious sense of place; I'm not sure how successful that was.

Read more... )

Home and abroad

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm
shewhomust: (Default)
[personal profile] shewhomust
We had a lot of catching up to do with J: she has been house-hunting, she has been on holiday. So we invited her to dinner last night, and to stay the night, so that she could tell us all about it. As a result, [personal profile] durham_rambler has spent the morning searching the internet for information about the property with which she has fallen in love, and I have been looking for information about Trieste, which sounds like a good place to visit.

With that in mind, an interesting piece in the WSJ and Trieste Tourist Office. Best coffee in Italy, allegedly.

J didn't come empty handed. She brought me a blue shirt, passed on to her by F., and not quite right (there was a reason, but I've forgotten it): it is a shade of blue which always makes me think of GirlBear, so it may not have reached its destination yet - we shall see. Also the last remains of a putizza, a characteristic cake from Trieste and Slovenia which combines innocuous looking panettone with nodules of concentrated essence of Christmas cake, to which chocolate has been added. And half a panettone, which we didn't touch last night, and divided up this morning. I shall make bread-and-butter pudding tonight (without the butter).

Rossetti's Grave

Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:03 am
poliphilo: (Default)
[personal profile] poliphilo
Dante Gabriel Rossetti had no particular connection with Birchington (near Margate) except that he was staying there when he died. He hadn't wanted to be buried with his wife- Lizzie Siddall (whose grave he'd unromantically dug up to retrieve the poems he'd romantically sealed in her coffin) and he was too rock and roll for the Abbey so they buried him where he dropped (so to speak)- by the south porch of Birchington church. The monument- which features the figures of Dante and Beatrice- with whom Rossetti had a life-long obsession- and St Luke, patron saint of painters- was designed by Rossetti's old mentor and mucker in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Ford Madox Brown.

sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I don't know if I saw relatives of mine this afternoon.

My grandfather's father was born in Lodz. He was the eldest of six siblings, three sisters, three brothers; the family owned a textile mill in the city and the father was a Talmudic scholar of some repute. My great-grandfather was expected to continue in his father's religious footsteps; instead, after a stint in the Imperial Russian Army (from which he must have deserted, because he sure didn't serve twenty-five years), he became what my grandfather once memorably described as a "Zolaesque freethinker" and emigrated to America in 1912. One of his brothers followed him; though we're no longer in contact with them (a little thing about declaring my mother ritually dead when she married my father), his descendants live in Florida. Another brother is buried in Israel, though I'm not sure how or when he got there—his older children were born in Lodz, his later ones in Tel Aviv. None of the sisters made it out of Poland alive. The middle one I have almost no information about, except that Lodz is listed as her place of death. (Her children survived: they too turn up later in Israel.) The eldest and the youngest died—as far as I know, with their families—in Chełmno and Auschwitz. These are the cousins who feel like closer ghosts than they should, dying in 1942 and 1945, because their descendants would have been no farther from me in blood than [personal profile] gaudior. They are loose ends, like other family stories. I don't know what there is to be known of them anymore.

Because the exhibit is closing in a week, my mother and I went to the MFA this afternoon to see Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. If you live in the Boston area, I don't say it's a light day out, but it's worth your time. Ross was one of the few survivors of the Lodz Ghetto, a staff photographer employed by the Judenrat. He was supposed to take the nice pictures of the ghetto, to document how productively and well the Jews were getting along under Nazi supervision; he used his license to take the ones that were not so nice, dead-carts instead of bread-carts, chain-link and barbed wire, the sick and the starving, the broken walls of a synagogue. He documented the resistance of living, which sometimes looked like defiance and sometimes like collaboration: the slight, quietly smiling man who rescued the Torah scroll from the smashed-brick ruins of the synagogue, the young wife and plump child of a Jewish policeman like the ones seen—perhaps he's among them—assisting a crowd of Jewish deportees aboard the boxcars that will take them to Auschwitz. Pale Jude stars are so omnipresent in this black-and-white world that even a scarecrow wears one, as if to remind it to confine its trade to non-Aryan fields. Ross took about six thousand photographs total; in the fall of 1944, as the ghetto was being liquidated, he buried the negatives as a kind of time capsule, not expecting to survive himself to recover them. He was still alive and still taking pictures of the depopulated ghost town the ghetto had become when the Red Army liberated it in January 1945. His face cannot be seen in the photograph of him reclaiming his archive because he's the figure at the center of the grinning group, the one bending to lift a crusted box from the dug-up earth. Groundwater had rendered about half the negatives unsalvageable, but rest could be developed, warped, nicked, bubbled, and sometimes perfectly clear, their damaged emulsion showing scars and survival. He published some in his lifetime. He never arranged the complete series to his satisfaction. My mother would have seen him on television in 1961 when he testified against Eichmann. The MFA has a clip of an interview with him and his wife Stefania née Schoenberg—his collaborator and another of the ghetto's 877 Jewish survivors—eighteen years later in Israel, describing how he took his covert photographs hiding his camera inside his long coat, how just once he snuck into the railway station at Radogoszcz to record the last stages of a deportation, the freight train to the "frying pan" of Auschwitz itself. He died in 1991. It is said that he never took a picture again.

(I know there are philosophical questions about photographs of atrocity: how they should be looked at, what emotions they may have been intended to evoke, to what degree it is or is not appropriate to judge them as art. I'm not very abstract here. They were taken to remember. You look at them to make sure you do. What you feel is your own business; what you do with the knowledge of the history had damn well better concern other people.)

My great-grandfather's sisters would have been deported from the Lodz Ghetto. Their death dates even match the major waves of deportation to their respective camps. I have no idea what either of them looked like. I have seen maybe two photos each of my grandfather's parents: aunts and uncles, nothing. I'm not saying the photos don't exist. My grandfather had a sister; she may have inherited a better pictorial record. But I haven't seen it. And looking for people who look like my grandfather is no help; Henry Kissinger went through a period of looking like my grandfather and that was awkward for everybody. Any older woman might have been either one of them, any older man one of their husbands, any young people their children, any children their grandchildren. None of them might have been my family. Maybe theirs were among the images destroyed by the winter of 1944, as unrecoverable as their bodies. Maybe they were never captured on film at all. I wouldn't know. I don't know. I pored over faces and thought how beautiful so many of these people were (not beautiful because of their suffering: bone and expression, the kinds of faces that are beautiful to me), how many of them looked like both sides of my mother's family. Almost no one was identified by name. Maybe no one knows these people by name anymore. I hope that's not true.

You can look through the contents of Henryk Ross' archive yourself. They are, like most photographs, historical and modern prints both, better in person. We left the museum and had dinner at Bronwyn both because we lucked out parking two blocks from the restaurant in the middle of a street fair and because it was Eastern European food and it felt symbolic that we were here to eat it, even if I am pretty sure that a Hungarian-inflected chorizo dog is food of my people only in the sense that I personally would order it again because it tasted great. I did some badly overdue grocery shopping and caught the closing performance of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle and spent nearly the entire cast party upstairs reading the scripts for the second through the fourth seasons of Babylon 5 (1993–98) and as much of the fifth season as doesn't suck. Autolycus fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as I sat down at my computer and I haven't been able to move from this chair for hours. I can't imagine what the world looks like in which I have so many more cousins of the degree of Gaudior, although I know that I am tired of fictional versions in which neither of us would even be here (the same goes for other atrocities, imagined worse for purposes of entertainment). Maybe in that other world, we have more family photographs. Maybe we're not in contact with them, either. Maybe I still don't have faces to go with the names. It doesn't matter if they were all strangers, though, the people from this afternoon and more than seventy years ago: they were alive. They are worth remembering. Especially now, they are worth remembering why.

Classical doodles

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:11 pm
radiantfracture: (Default)
[personal profile] radiantfracture
Wednesday after work LB and I hiked in to the lake. We took a more strenuous route than usual, over rough ground, but nothing requiring high endurance -- or so I would have thought. The moment I got home, however, I lay down on the couch and did not rise until night.

The last few days have been like days of recovery from illness -- not soreness or fatigue so much as a sort of muzzy-headedness I dislike much more than pain.

Therefore, I have not done much writing or reading.

I did manage to read Insomniac City, Bill Hayes' memoir of his relationship with Oliver Sacks. It's a lovely, gentle book, a kind of idyll of daily life in New York -- lots of drinking wine on rooftops and talking to strangers in the park. Hayes invokes the sensory detail of their life together with the attention you'd expect of someone who could properly appreciate Oliver Sacks.

I'd read Hayes' description of a piece of music -- Beethoven's Op. 133, say (The Great Big Fugue) -- then cue it up on YouTube and listen -- or look up a meal they ate or an artist Hayes admired. In this way, the book became a delightful multi-sensory experience.

Reading or writing for work and other projects, though, did not seem to be on.

When writing is too difficult, I draw. One of my comfort activities is attempting loose copies of the exquisitely strange radial creatures from Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature. Listening to Beethoven' bright, angular notes, I thought -- why not try to draw this as well?1

Under the cut are a few creatures drawn out of the music, though they are not perfect synaesthetic renderings of these pieces or anything -- more a fusion of what I was looking at, what I was hearing, and what I could actually draw.


Musical Drawings )

{rf}

1. I do see a little colour to music, but it's a very limited palette, shading from blue-white through golden brown to dark brown, and probably has more to do with the colour of the piano whereon I failed to learn to play music as a child, rather than any intricacy of brain connections.
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This month my blog goes out on a Sunday, so for those of you who are reading it and are at a bit of a loose end, here’s an idea. Get on youtube and find the complete version of Children of the Stones, an acknowledged seventies TV eerie classic.

This month I intended to re- watch favourite seventies children’s TV. I was going to again give myself the pleasure of Belle and Sebastian and The Flashing Blade, as I have copies of both. I might even have called in on The Banana Splits and The Arabian Knights segment in particular, or listened to the theme music to Freewheelers and hummed along for a bit. (If confused see last month!)

However rather typically I didn’t think about doing any of this until I realised in a mad rush a few days ago. So with thanks to the generous soul who planted it on youtube, I sat down with my partner a few days ago to watch Children of the Stones.My first and only viewing of it was when it was first transmitted in 1977. In retrospect I’m more than a little shocked to realise I was already eighteen at the time.

No I didn't know that it was a novel either.


I remember it having quite an effect on me, being enthralled by the plot and the eerie music and I also remember people saying ‘Happy Day’ all the time.
After a recent conversation with a fellow fan, (thanks Kelly) I decided to chase up the DVD - which I really must get some time - but now we’ve seen it on youtube I REALLY MUST get the DVD because let me tell you folks that Children of the Stones is still fantastic.

There are one or two weaknesses I suppose. It has a dated feel sure, but not as much as you'd expect, and one or two of the child actors are a bit MFI and the housekeeper is a wee bit clichéd and Freddie Jones as Dai the poacher does tend to mumble, but these are minor quibbles when the story, script, performances, music and effects are so good for their time. Having urged you to watch it however I have no intention of ruining the plot for you, but here’s a brief summary of the initial premise.

Adam Brake, an astrophysicist and his son Matthew move to the Avebury lookalike village of Milbury, (the series was filmed in Avebury) where they find that nearly everyone is rather alarmingly happy. In the one classroom school, Matthew finds that the children on the top table can solve alarmingly complex equations, whereas most of those new to the village don’t know where to start. These includes Matthew, who is almost as bright as his dad.

Gareth Thomas, Iain Cuthberston and the children.


It soon becomes apparent that the whole village is in some way under the control of the local squire figure Hendrick, whose house lies on a confluence of Milbury’s many ley lines. When people try to leave the village, they are first stopped by the stones and later 'assimilated'.  It turns out that everything that is happening in the village is a consequence of a long ago super nova which was actually named after Hendrick, who discovered it, and to say that it’s gone to his head is a wee bit of an under-statement.



There’s a whole lot more to it than that of course, and for a piece of so called children’s TV it is remarkably multi-layered with many concepts and ideas far ahead of their time being discussed intelligently not just by adults, but often by Matt and his dad. There is also an absence of overt cliché and just when you think it’s inevitable, the script pulls back and that’s maybe one of the reasons the whole thing ends up feeling so well rounded. Although Matt and his dad team up with Margaret, who runs the local museum and her rather odd little daughter Sandra, this story is very much about a boy and his father and the fact that one is not only a chip off the old block, but one whose opinions and skills are increasingly honoured and appreciated by his dad, adds to it considerably.

Matt is aided in his discoveries by both the old poacher Dai and particularly by an evocative painting of the stone circle itself, which he was mysteriously drawn to years before he ever heard of Milbury, (now tell me you don’t want to watch it now?).



If there is the equivalent of a leit motif in the series it is this painting which not only has the poor house keeper fainting and spilling her tray of chocolate cake, when she first sets eyes on it, but which also alters in strange ways and provides more than one clue to the developing mystery.

As my partner said, this also a very sciency series, but it’s one whose concepts you feel like you can get your heads round, (which for me is something, let me tell you!). What I really appreciated was how the real and the - pseudo but based on actual fact and religious or scientific practice - seem to meld so convincingly. And like in the best and most enduring eerie children’s classics, (The Box of Delights and The Dark is Rising for example) we ourselves are drawn in through the eyes of Matt.

I said before that Children of the Stones stops short of actual cliché and that is mainly due to the acting, particularly the adults, but it’s particularly so in the case of Iain Cuthbertson’s portrayal of Hendrick, who is urbane and smooth very much in the manner of Charles Gray in either The Devil Rides Out or as a nemesis to Bond in Diamonds are Forever. Like Charles Gray, Iain Cuthbertson understands that even in a series made for children, it is studied normality rather than hectoring bombast or piling on the slime that brings the best results. Freddie Jones just about avoids going in either direction, and both Gareth Thomas as Adam Brake and Veronica Strong, (the wife of series co-creator Jeremy Burnham) as Margaret, give solid portrayals of Everyman and Woman. The best scenes for me involve either Matt and his dad or Adam and Hendrick.

There seems to be an odd emphasis in the series on the single parent family, and of the four pairs of newcomers to the village, three are fathers and sons. Is there something they aren’t telling us? Peter Demin was actually 17 years old at the time he played Matt and perhaps that helps give the character some of the age-old wisdom he seems to have.

Another thing I noticed at the end of our two and a half hour watch is that there are so many ideas and layers here, (such as the workings of an atomic clock and the idea of free will) that it’s a wonder they could fit them all in. Apparently when the director Peter Graham-Scott first saw the script, he couldn't believe something so eerie and disturbing was meant to be for children. Most TV shows nowadays would give their eye-teeth for half of the good ideas Children of the Stones effortlessly piles up and in the last of its seven episode alone, part one ends up at the point where most other shows would seriously fizzle out. Not a bit of it with COTS, for after the break, mystery continues to be piled on mystery until perhaps the greatest of all is left right until the end.


  
I could go on and on about what makes COTS tick so well and in the context of the series this is a highly appropriate metaphor. It’s difficult to have something you only vaguely remember come so far past expectations, but while we were watching the series I was able to recapture just a little of my past and possibly conjure up just a little of the excitement I must have felt each week as each episode is left on an always exciting cliff-hanger. One of the series unique features by the way is how the word circle appears in all seven episodes, as follows.

Into the Circle, Circle of Fear, The Serpent in the Circle, Narrowing Circle, Charmed Circle, Squaring the Circle, Full Circle.


However, if there is one thing which makes the series stand out, (and I haven't forgotten either the incredibly eerie choral music by composer Sidney Sagar, performed so memorably by the Ambrosian Singers), it must be its unique location in the actual village in the middle of a stone circle, Avebury. Watching COTS, you simply can’t avoid either the presence of the stones, or the feel of there being a village within it. And the stones themselves are used in so many inventive and often terrifying ways, sometimes just part of the landscape we come to take for granted, and just as often symbolic of other concepts or terrifying discoveries. This is echoed equally in the ever recurring picture which depicts the original sequence of events in megalithic times now being repeated by Matt and his dad.

The painting by west country artist Les Matthews, which now lives in Avebury Manor


And that's what Children of the Stones felt like to me on only my second viewing forty years onwards. What it was to me then, it certainly remains now - an exciting voyage of discovery with a surprise around every corner. Do yourself a favour and seek it out.

'Happy Day.'   

PS If you didn't know, Jeremy Burnham wrote both a novel and this sequel.



Steve Gladwin - 'Grove of Seven' and 'The Year in Mind'
Writer, Performer and Teacher

Author of 'The Seven' and 'The Raven's Call'
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
In this next arc, we see the powerful Marquis Xie moving toward securing more power through the oblivious Crown Prince. But he’s not merely the usual rug-chewing bad guy, which makes him so much more interesting. And also unpredictable.

Meanwhile, we are getting to know Xia Dong, Princess Nihuang’s bestie, who still refuses to speak to Prince Jing. She is loyal and honest and a fierce warrior. (And she has a very, very bumpy ride ahead of her.)

Finally, Princess Nihuang is confused and intrigued by this reclusive scholar who has the power to send military aid to a province on the other side of the continent, and yet who refuses to set foot in a falling-down house . . . and we see the building emotional cost to MC when spending more time with the princess and with Jing.

The next few eps are the midpoint of act one, and reach a climax I thought really intense on the first watch. I couldn’t believe that the intensity was going to scale upward exponentially—but it does. And by intensity I don’t mean climbing body counts, which enervate me fast. I mean real, personal stakes. Emotional cost. Political layers with real cost. So much intensity, so much beauty.
Read more... )

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