miss_s_b: (Self: Innocent)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
SodOff@Arse.Face
FuckYour@DataHarvesting.Exercise
GetBent@Wank.Stain
StickThisUpYourArse@Once.Git

or if you're less comfortable swearing than me

ReportYourself@DataProtection.Gov

This week

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:13 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
This'll be a strange week for me. On Friday afternoon my Arabic teacher had some news bad enough that she's canceled her classes for this week. Sad to hear as she's lovely.

Then last night my lecturer for the Monday lecture said UCU voted for a strike today.

While I have no problem supporting the strike, I'm really sad to miss a lecture for this class (Language Mind and Brain; the one I've enthused about (sometimes drunkenly...) whenever anyone's asked me how my course is going)!

And I'm sad for whatever has happened to my lovely Arabic teacher, but I'm relieved because three hours of language-learning all in a row is brutal, makes Wednesdays by far my longest day in uni, and this week I'd have had a meeting partway through so I'd have worried about what I was missing after I had to leave.

But with no Arabic and no lecture, I'm left with only one lecture and two seminars all week! And next week is Reading Week (a concept my American brain is still struggling to understand). I feel kind of grateful for this chance to catch my metaphorical breath: I've been doing okay (if not perfectly) at keeping on top of uni things, but I'm way behind on housework, spending any quality time with my partners, etc.

I do have an essay due this Friday and one next Friday, and Arabic teacher has said she might try to make up this week's lessons during Reading Week too, so it's not as if I have nothing to do. But it does feel like a very light week for me, and solemn though the reasons for that are, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm kind of glad.

Happy Gary day!

Oct. 22nd, 2017 10:21 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Facebook tells me it was two years ago Gary came to live with us for good. (He'd been with us a few days or weeks at a time on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, before it was clear he was going to need a new home full-time, but this is when we knew he wasn't going away again.)

It's also the first day I'd seen him since Friday! I do miss him when I'm away. I tend to dream about him when I'm somewhere else overnight, not so much when I'm at home. Tonight we collected him from [personal profile] mother_bones and as we walked home I noticed he was doing that weird thing again, sniffing not just at the ground or bins or where other dogs have peed but sniffing the air in what seems like a weird new way that doesn't have an obvious explanation.

I mentioned this to Andrew last week when I first noticed it, when I'd taken him on one of his evening walks. "Yeah," Andrew said, "he's been doing that lately."

"I hadn't noticed it in the mornings," I'd said (I usually walk him in the mornings, and Andrew in the evenings." That it's time-of-day specific made it seem even more remarkable.

"He's so earnest about everything all the time," I said. (He does. It's one of his most endearing traits.) "So he looks like he's a little CSI or something."

I thought for a second and then, thinking of it as a parallel to "checking his wee-mail" (a phrase I think I picked up from [personal profile] miss_s_b), I added "a WeeSI!"

And I've been thinking of it that way ever since.
strange_complex: (Vampira)
[personal profile] strange_complex
Yesterday I travelled all the way down to London Town to see a play - or, more precisely an immersive theatre experience - in the company of Andrew Hickey, [twitter.com profile] Extinction65mya and [twitter.com profile] karohemd. While my book and film reviews are both backed up to the tune of at least a year each, which is incredibly frustrating, no such self-imposed tedium applies here, so for once I can have the job of writing about something I have experienced fresh from the delights of the thing itself. Hooray!

So basically The Soulless Ones is the latest venture from the new(ish)ly revived Hammer company, and consists of a play about vampires which takes place across multiple rooms in a mid-Victorian music hall. Opening and closing scenes book-end the story, and are played out to the full audience in the main music-hall space, but for most of the evening different actors play out their own story-lines in an extensive series of parallel scenes, all happening simultaneously in different parts of the building, and moving around from one to the other. It is up to the audience to follow the actors according to personal preference, or simply wander around the building at will, meaning that each individual audience member will see and experience different things depending on where they went.

Given this expectation, of course, the story is deliberately constructed to ensure that no one scene (apart perhaps from the opening and closing ones) is utterly crucial to the production. So the experience is more about seeing the different characters unfold than about a plot in the traditional sense; and indeed about exploring the richly-dressed settings and soaking in the atmospheric sounds and smells. It's also important to understand the difference between immersive and interactive theatre in this context: this was the former, rather than the latter, meaning that the audience occupied the same spaces as the actors but were 'invisible' to them and instructed at the start to take it all in silently. No-one watching was going to find themselves a victim of the vampires, and nor were we to try to speak to them or join in on the story.

There is various documentation of the play around the web, of course. The official production page is here, and I also found useful reviews from Den of Geek, The Guardian and The Telegraph. I've used those, along with my own experience and what my friends reported having seen after we came out, to compile the following overview of the story, characters and settings as I experienced them. I'll also be sharing this with said friends, and would very much love them, and anyone else who has seen it, to comment with anything extra that I didn't catch (I know there were some characters I barely saw all evening), or correct anything I've misremembered or misunderstood (hey, there were cocktails...). Obviously, it will contain spoilers, so I have used cut-tags with a view to both that and length.

The opening scene )

The characters and scenarios which unfolded from there )

The various settings )

The closing scene )


What I actually thought of it all

In essence, I absolutely loved it. A huge amount of thought must have gone into constructing it all so that the different scenes fitted together effectively, with characters coming in and out of each other's storylines at the right times, even from completely different ends of the building, and all of the disparate parts adding up to a coherent whole no matter how the audience experienced it. The set-dressing was particularly wonderful. I wish I could have had the chance to walk around it all without the story unfolding at the same time, so that I could scrutinise every single detail at my leisure, but then again I certainly had more control over what I was looking at than is the case when watching a film or play, in that I could go into any room I chose, stand wherever I liked it in and look at whatever I liked while the action went on. I could sit on one divan while Mara was bewitching St Clair on another, feeling the tickly softness of the white animal fur draped over it between my fingers, or peer closely at the satyr-herm in the graveyard which made me think a lot of The Marble Faun. It was very exciting.

Layering the story on top of all of that really did feel immersive, as though I were standing inside the world of a Hammer film. I'm sure regular readers will realise how amazing that was for me! The story really did feel Hammer-ish, too - suitably gothic in content and atmosphere, and with nice little nods to their back-catalogue such as Carmilla being the last of the Karnsteins. The characters themselves seemed well-defined, with just the right amount of back-story and conflict between them for the audience to take in across the two hours of the show, and the acting solid throughout: sometimes (necessarily) a bit projecty and theatrical, especially in the larger scenes, but impressively naturalistic and intimate when the smaller scenes allowed the scope for it as well. I think a lot of credit also belongs to the behind-the-scenes team handling the music, lighting etc. in each room, and indeed quietly staffing the corridors to make sure people did not get too lost or confused or wander into places they weren't supposed to go.

It looks like the production has been a success: it's certainly garnered lots of media coverage, the performance we attended looked to be sold out, and the official production page is currently bearing a banner proclaiming that the initial run has been extended for an extra week. The fact that it is presented not just as a play called The Soulless Ones, but as an individual production by 'Hammer House Of Horror Live' also rather strongly suggests that they are hoping they will be in a position to do more. Certainly, I will be keeping my eye out for further productions, and strongly urge any fans of Hammer, gothic horror or immersive theatre experiences to catch this one while you still can.

On Trigger Warnings

Oct. 22nd, 2017 12:52 pm
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I see the Grauniad have seen fit to publish yet another wilful misunderstanding of the purpose of trigger warnings today, this time from David Mitchell.

Trigger Warnings are there to give people extra information about the media they are consuming. It's like when the continuity announcer says before the showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that "this film contains strong language and scenes that some viewers might find upsetting". It's not censorship to allow people to make a free and informed choice about their media consumption.

The purpose of a trigger warning is to be courteous to people who have PTSD. It's not saying "do not read this". It's saying "if you read this, be mentally prepared to see something that might trigger PTSD flashbacks".

If you really think that allowing people to make an informed choice about something that could cause them a panic attack is a bad thing, then I think you are an inconsiderate, thoughtless arsehole. Sorry.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... However, as it is for publication in Liberator, you'll have to wait to read it :þ

Once Liberator has landed on doormats I'll put the review up on Goodreads and link to it here. But if you want a little spoiler, although I had some criticisms I genuinely quite enjoyed it, and will definitely buy his next (if he ever writes another).

The Blood is the Life for 21-10-2017

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

Random Doctor Who Picture

Oct. 21st, 2017 08:46 am
purplecat: The Seventh Doctor and Ace (Who:Ace/Seven)
[personal profile] purplecat




I recently listened to the Doctor Who Book Club podcast on Relative Dementias. They quite liked it but thought it wasn't completely in control of its themes, there was too much incidental stuff to bring up the page count and its descriptions of action were confusing. All criticisms that could probably be aimed at many of the Doctor Who novels.
strange_complex: (Dracula Risen hearse smile)
[personal profile] strange_complex
I am very happy indeed a) that this book exists and b) that I managed to bag one of the original print run of a mere 600 copies for only £35 last year. It now goes for upward of £150 on eBay... The publishers' page is still up, though, and includes several page images which indicate what the book is like: basically a pictorial record of the seven Hammer Dracula films which have Christopher Lee in them (so not Brides or Legend), covering cast pictures, production documentation, behind-the-scenes pictures and publicity material. As such it is of course an absolute treasure-trove.

I'm fairly familiar with the publicity photos and posters, but even they are wonderful to have in high-quality printed form. Meanwhile, the really exciting content was the production documentation, including letters, set designs, pages from shooting scripts etc. From these I learnt several things which I had not known before, such as how the various sets for Dracula fitted together. I had long realised that Harker's bedroom and Dracula's crypt in this film must be essentially the same set re-dressed, because they share the same curved, pointed arches along one wall. However, I never realised before I saw the set drawings in this book that this is actally because they both make use of the area glimpsed between the very same curved, pointed arches in the dining room after they had been blocked off by book-cases to create the library set. (I.e. they are slotted into the shadowy space from which Valerie Gaunt's vampire woman first appears when Harker is in the dining room.) Nor did I know, as correspondence with the censor for Risen reveals, that the name of the Monsignor's niece in this film was originally to have been Gisela. The switch to Maria in the final film was of course a sound move, since it is more familiar to Anglophone audiences, as well as accentuating her virginal purity and connection with a Catholic clergyman. Meanwhile, Gisela did not go to waste: the name was repurposed for the unfortunate girl found in the bell at the beginning of the film, whose coffin Dracula goes on to steal once he has been reawakened from the icy stream.

vlcsnap-00015.png

Also very illuminating were Terence Fisher's hand-written notes on Jimmy Sangster's original script for Dracula 1958. They're written on plain pages, rather than on the script itself, so you can't see what Sangster actually wrote - only Fisher's reactions. But that is enough to make it very clear that Sangster's first draft must have included far more scenes from the original novel than ever made it into even the shooting script, never mind the film. Scenes or characters which Fisher is reacting to include for example Harker in an inn before he ever reaches the castle, the three vampire brides, the 'child in a sack' scene, Harker gashing Dracula in the head, the Demeter, Renfield and Quincy Morris. And what Fisher is saying about them includes things like "cut", "keep till later?", "new character unexplained and uninteresting", "make it a pre-title sequence?" etc. This is absolutely revelatory, because the standard line until now has always been about how the efficiency of the script reflects Sangster's instinct for what could be achieved on a small budget. But I now see that his original draft must actually have followed Stoker's novel fairly closely, while most of the credit for that ruthless efficiency really belongs to Fisher.

In between the images runs a concise and generally useful supporting text from Kinsey, but I was struck by the fact that he doesn't always seem to recognise the full value of the material he himself is presenting. So, in spite of having treated us to Fisher's observations on Sangster's first draft, he still reports the usual story about how Sangster "was given Bram Stoker's novel to adapt, which he achieved again within Hammer's modest budget" only a few pages later. I spotted a couple of mistakes, too. The double-page spread on Francis Matthews in Prince calls his character Alan (rather than Charles), while a similar spread about Patrick Troughton as Klove in Scars claims that he passed on the mantle of Doctor Who to Tom Baker (not directly!).

That is to quibble, though. On the whole this is an absolutely superb collection which huge amounts of work must have gone into, and which I am certain I will keep returning to over the years. Three thousand cheers that my favourite films in all the world have received this splendid tribute.

Shortsighted "artists"

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:18 pm
missdiane: (Default)
[personal profile] missdiane
I use the quotes because the person that fancies himself a deep and meaningful "artist" is about as glory-seeking and heavyhanded as they come. He also seems to think he has a wolf spirit animal. This is related to the "me too" thing going around twitter and FB. Am I wrong in thinking that this new "art" installation he put up on the main road in our town is rather inappropriate? Oh and yes, I'm the one questioning him on instagram. 
Cut for potential triggering - nothing graphic )

The Blood is the Life for 20-10-2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

Unscholarly

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:49 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I have a lot of reading to do, having somehow kept busy but gotten nowhere so far this week. And I'm away this weekend (with good intentions of reading on the train, but also...I've met me). So I'm trying to catch up now.

Some of it's hard going, but luckily some of it's also written by Geoff Pullum (a name anyone who reads Language Log might recognize and someone I learned I liked from there).
"A silly, infuriatingly unscholarly piece, designed to mislead" is what one irate but anonymous senior scholar called this chapter when it was first published in NLLT. But this is not correct; rather, what I have written here is a silly, misleadingly unscholarly piece, designed to infuriate. There is a huge difference.
May more of my reading be silly and misleadingly unscholarly!
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Sarah Jane Smith)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... and while not everybody on these two playlists fits the definition of feminist or metal (especially not metal, TBH) I would say that these two spotify playlists are the place to start:

Emma Jay Olsen's Angry Feminist Playlist
and my very own Ladies Who Rock

But in terms of feminist metal bands, you can't go far wrong with:

Hysterica (esp Heels)
McQueen (esp Not For Sale)
Wicked Wisdom (esp You Can't Handle)
Halestorm (esp Rock Show - principally because I've never heard anything capture that feeling better)
In This Moment (esp Comanche - we've took all we can and we won't take any more)
and of course
Skunk Anansie (esp Rise Up)
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Not much to report back, really. It was the debrief meeting. It was mostly us examining the things you lot had reported back to us.

I fed back all the things that you folks asked me to feed back in this and this post; pretty much all of them were received loud and clear. Especially popular was [personal profile] hollymath's suggestion that we put "would you benefit from step-free access" rather than "are you a wheelchair user" on Speaker's cards; this is definitely going to be done, hopefully for spring, but if not then for next autumn.

I've been given more work to do, which is mostly my own fault for volunteering to sort shit out. Nick Da Costa and I have to redesign the end of conference survey, so if you have any specific ideas about that do let me know. Is it too long, too short, too fiddly, etc? What questions do you think should be asked, and which ones do you think should be retired? As usual, I can;t promise to act on every suggestion, but I promise to at least read and respond to every suggestion.

Specifically regarding the app, which I know a few of you talked about: there was a feeling that we've sunk a lot of time and effort into the bespoke app, and it gets better every time - which it definitely does - and the developer is very responsive to requests for changes, so Grenadine is not going to fly. The specific comments about line numbers and clock hiding and too much nesting are definitely going to be fed back to the developer, so if those aren't sorted out for Spring you can take me to one side, spank me, and call me Gerald.

I'm going to go get a well deserved drink now.

FCC Meeting 19th October 2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I'm attending this meeting right now, by dialing in to the phone conference machine in the middle of the meeting room.

It's interesting to note who has a clear speaking voice and who doesn't. No, I couldn't possibly name names :P

Will report back on actual happenings later...

ETA: Have just been christened The New Gareth Epps due to my scathing comments about real ale provision; I'm taking that as the compliment it was doubtless meant to be

The Blood is the Life for 19-10-2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Yorkshire)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
So, my friend made a game. It's a classic point and click adventure in the style of things like Monkey Island. You click on things, you talk to characters, you solve puzzles, you win the game. Except... I thought Monkey Island was dead boring. This is not dead boring. I've even played the tutorial through three times, just to see what the different answers do, because it's so laugh out loud funny.

So yes, I'm slightly biased here because the game is made by someone I know, and is set in a fictionalised version of a town two train stops away, and my daughter voices one of the characters (look out for small child of indeterminate gender Little Bilge)... but this is the most fun I've had playing a game in ages. It doesn't try to screw you for more money, it doesn't make you do stupid repetitive daily tasks, it doesn't rely on ninja reaction times. It's happy to just make you laugh and warm your heart. In times like we are going through now, that's more valuable than diamonds.

Honestly, guys, you know I wouldn't bullshit you about anything involving money, I'm from Yorkshire.

Go buy Yorkshire Gubbins. You won't regret it.