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[personal profile] satyrica
I had Monday evening at home last week and celebrated finally having my appetite back by cooking a ridiculous weather-inappropriate roast just for myself. I went to see Common at The National on Tuesday, which starred Anne-Marie Duff as a vengeful returning rural community member at the time of enclosures: it was nicely designed and some sinister Wicker Man-ish elements but most of us seemed to come out scratching our heads about what exactly it had been trying to say, beyond some individual v. community strands.

On Wednesday I went to see The Smith Street Band at The Garage with the usual Smith Street crew: they were supported by Shit Present, female fronted, a bit grungey and pretty decent, although they were rather eclipsed by the madness of The Bennies, fellow-Melbournians, who seemed to play about one song each from every genre, all with boundless gusto: they were certainly an experience. The Smithies didn’t disappoint but I do need to get round to getting more than one of their albums at some stage. The on Thursday N and I went to Royal Inn on the [Victoria]Park, for Woodburner, a folkish night we’d been to before. It was pretty endearing with some chap singing songs themed around Henry VIII in between the acts: Tell Tale Tusk were supporting and excellent; it was an album launch for Toytown Hustle, who I’d never technically seen but whose singer I’d caught in a couple of other guises (The Debt Collective, with Tell Tale Tusk): they have some brass and a double-bass and made a nice sound but whereas we had all sat for TTT, as the wide-but-shallow upstairs room filled we all had to stand up, at which visibility went out the window and the noise levels rocketed so the songs were hard to really get to grips with.

We managed Aberrant on Friday and on Saturday M & I went to see the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum , strolling smugly in thanks to the membership she and Cousin A had bought me: it was pretty crowded and we did a lot of queueing actually in the exhibition to shuffle from one print to another but I was glad I went, which I wouldn’t have done without the membership. I’m surprised that with this and the American Dream, the BM did two fairly atypical, print-based exhibitions so close together. After meeting N for tea when we got out, I headed back home for couple of hours before travelling to Egham to join the Ghost Stories LARP (I’d missed the first session) which was atmospheric and fun.

N and I headed back out into Surrey (Chobham) on Sunday where my brother and his wife were jointly celebrating their birthday with us and various parents, going out to lunch then hanging out back at theirs for Wimbledon and dessert. I popped down to Peckham in the evening (Rye Wax in the Bussey Building) for more music with a largely instrumental slant: wholly in the case of Cesca, who were pretty jazzy, then Paen were playing, who also seemed strongest when they dispensed with singing. Some friendly people also chatted to me as I sat around between bands too: perhaps that’s what happens when you cross the river!

I had another Monday evening in, went on Tuesday for what was initially just going to be a drink with MW (at the Thornbury Castle, where we used to go drinking from WLDC, which happily hasn’t changed much in the intervening 15 years) but I invited N, who invited his housemate, who invited a coursemate. It was a different dynamic but still very pleasant and I headed back with the Bruce Grove crew. Wednesday night I went out in Camden to the Black Heart: I got there halfway through Calva Louise, female-fronted rock that made me want to seek it out again; I was there for Fang Club who were really good and the headliners were Big Spring, who were fine, also quite rocky but the vocals a bit more swoopy.

Lunchbox Theatre

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:37 pm
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[personal profile] lathany
Having finally reached a quieter point in my year, I headed over to The Bridewell Theatre for a "lunchbox" performance yesterday. This is a 45 minute show running 1pm to 1:45pm.

This was, in fact, two plays:
  • EVERY TWENTY MINUTES by Tennessee Williams - Despite the name, this is a ten minute play. It's a scene between a husband and wife, on return from an evening out. The wife comments that she's seen in the paper that someone in the US kills themself every twenty minutes. He husband is very unconcerned by this and she is not. There's not really any plot, just some dialogue. I mostly got to the end and thought Is that it?.
  • SEAGULLS by Caryl Churchill - This was the other thirty-five minutes. It had a three person cast - a celebrity (Valerie), her manager (Di) and a fan (Cliff). Valerie's celebrity status comes from being a telekinetic. However, this scene is about her being unable to show her power. Also, despite the sci-fi angle, it really seemed to be about the short-term nature of stardom.
Overall, I was glad to get out and see both plays; although I think they are my least favourite thing so far from Lunchbox.

Reading: Every Heart A Doorway

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:40 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
Seanan McGuire's Hugo-nominated novella Every Heart a Doorway is a school story with a twist: it's set in a boarding school specifically catering to young people who have visited the kind of other worlds familiar to readers of portal fantasy novels and who are struggling to adapt to real life on their return (most of the students at the school in this book long to return to their fantasy worlds, though we are told that there is a sister institution catering for those who need help to forget their more traumatic travels). Disbelieving parents send their children to the school hoping that they will receive therapy and recover from their breakdowns, but instead the school supports its students in understanding and integrating their experiences while still allowing them to hope that they will find their doors again one day.

The story mainly follows Nancy, who has returned from a sojourn in the Halls of the Dead with a preternaturally developed ability to stand still and a penchant for dressing in gauzy black and white clothing, to the distress of her parents who want their old daughter back. Shortly after Nancy's arrival at the school the first in a series of gruesome murders occurs; suspicion falls on Nancy, as a new girl and one whose world was a underworld, and she and a small group of other students have to work together to discover who the real murderer is. The murder mystery plot is really only a Macguffin, though (and I thought it was quite obvious from very early on who the murderer was); the book is really an exploration of identity and belonging, as the students try to deal with having found and lost worlds where they felt that they belonged much more than they ever had at home (each student went to a different world, uniquely suited to that individual). It's easy to see Nancy's parents' rejection of the changes in their daughter as parallelling more conventional rejections by parents' of their children's developing tastes and views. Identity politics writ larger also feature; Nancy explicitly identifies as asexual, while one of the friends she makes is a trans boy who was expelled from the fairyland he travelled to when he was discovered to be a prince and not the princess they thought he was.

Some of the reviews I'd read online had made me worry that this was going to be preachy, or at least a bit cringily identity-politics-by-numbers, but in fact I didn't find it that way at all; it was interesting, sensitive and thoughtful. I wasn't completely convinced by the way the murder plot was resolved, which seemed to owe rather more to the conventions of the students' fantasy worlds than to the real world in which the story takes place, but generally I really enjoyed the book and can absolutely see why it has won and been nominated for so many awards.

#tbt: Moar space history (pre-2006)

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:12 pm
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[personal profile] nanila
IMG_20170720_124419_753
[Image of a Cassini spacecraft model inside a black gimbal structure comprised of three concentric rings, mounted on a plexiglass stand and sitting on the corner of a desk.]

Now that I'm back at work, I present another of my Rare Objects from Space History for #tbt. This is a model of the Cassini spacecraft, mounted in the centre of what I can only think to describe as a gimbal. The high gain antenna is pointed toward the bottom of the photo. The model was distributed to instrument teams to aid them with pointing design. It can be rotated around three axes within the gimbal. Each circle of rotation is marked in degrees, so that from a set of numbers indicating its orientation (eg "RA & dec"), an instrument engineer can work out which way the spacecraft is pointing.

I have no idea when it was originally given to our team but it predates me joining the Cassini project (ca 2006).

Reading: The Saltmarsh Murders

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:41 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
I picked up Gladys Mitchell's The Saltmarsh Murders in the Oxfam bookshop, because I'm always interested to try new-to-me 1930s detective stories, and grabbed it off the top of my to-read pile last week when I was looking for an easy read to follow To Lie With Lions.

The Saltmarsh Murders is the fourth of 66 detective novels featuring Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, psychiatrist and amateur sleuth. In this novel, she turns her attention to the death of a young woman who has recently given birth to an illegitimate baby (and the disappearance of the baby) in the South Coast village of Saltmarsh, where she was paying a visit when the murder was discovered. She is aided in this by Noel Wells, the slightly dim curate of the village. Noel also narrates the novel in a first-person style which clearly owes a lot to Wodehouse, who he mentions being a fan of.

I wasn't sure the Bertie Wooster-esque narrative was a natural choice for a detective novel, and Noel is a very sloppy narrator, with events coming out of sequence in a way that made it quite hard to follow the plot at times. The book also features a black character and contains the kind of period-typical attitudes to and language about race that are pretty hard for a modern reader to stomach, as well as some period-typical attitudes to class and a couple of incidences of painfully rendered yokel accents. Most of the characters felt very two-dimensional, with the only one who really took on any life at all being the village madwoman, Mrs Gatty, and I didn't actually find the mystery plot particularly compelling. I don't think I'll be seeking out any more of Mitchell's books (although I think I might have at least one more that I bought as a Kindle bargain years ago...).

Catch up

Jul. 18th, 2017 01:42 pm
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[personal profile] lnr
Done since Jun 14th:
  • Test rode an Onderwater tandem, which has the child stoker seat at front - Matthew loved it
  • Second parents evening for Matthew's school, nice to see teachers again and get more idea of school plans
  • Rainbow Sponsored Trike Ride - I ended up riding Matthew's bike as a balance bike since he didn't want to join in
  • Blood tests: my calcium, parathyroid hormone and vitamin D levels are all normal, but keep taking the vitamin D for now
  • We did HBA1C as well, which is average blood sugar levels, also fine - I'm at slight risk due to Type 2 diabetes in family and current weight)
  • Picnic lunch and playdate with Kirsten/Andre/Judith/Colin and Lammas Land - lots of fun
  • Shelford Feast - Matthew enjoyed all the stalls and mini steam train and bouncy castles, I helped out on the Rainbow stall
  • Eye Test for Matthew this morning: doing great, patching is helping his eyes work well together, ordered new lenses for his current glasses, next appointment in October half term
  • Work appointed one interim head, who only stayed 2 days, and are now appointing again
  • The "implementation" phase of Organisational Change is officially complete and we all now in theory have new jobs - but almost no management so not much actual change at the moment
  • Total resignations now at 4 (Patrick, James, Stephen, Andrew) with possibility of more to come

Plus assorted bike rides, visits to the park, dyeing hair purple again and so on - and lots of lego :)

Coming up in the near future:
  • Collect Matthew's school uniform (I see the school's admin at Pre-School and she's kindly said she'll bring it along for me)
  • Early start tomorrow for Rainbow Leavers Trip to Wandlebury
  • Rainbow end of term staff party tomorrow evening: as part of the committee I'm involved in helping host it
  • Rainbow leaving party on Friday morning - last day of pre-school!
  • A week in the lake district starting on Saturday
  • Test riding a Circe Helios tandem when we get back
  • Folk Festival on Sunday 30th - possibly with Matthew, possibly without
  • New Interim Head of IT Group starts (phased in) on 1st August (Hi Julian)
  • A week in Devon with family from 4th August - staying at Wortham Manor

In between the two weeks away Matthew will have a week at Hania's - and then when we get back he's got three weeks of holiday club before granny and grandad come to visit the first week in September, and then school starts on the 11th.

I think I know why I'm exhausted :)


satyrica: (Default)
[personal profile] satyrica
Once K had headed off, the day after Community Festival, I headed into town to spend some time hanging out on the South Bank roof garden with N, then came back to play board games (Plague Inc, appropriately enough!) with the Little Phoenix. I started the week with another couple of evenings-in, then headed to Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate (which is always a nightmare to get to and from, despite being technically not that far from home) to see a production of The Ladykillers which C had been doing her bit with: the story's a bit creaky but fun and the performances were really good. N was in Show Hell but thought he'd be finishing about 7 on Thursday so I headed up to Hackney to meet him: he eventually got away just approaching 10pm but luckily it was very pleasant to sit out and read on the grass outside Hackney Town Hall on a balmy summer evening. The warm weather also made me bail early to sit in Russell Square after work on Friday, prior to meeting up for a drink with Cousin Andy, M and another friend which was very pleasant, although it's sad what a novelty going for a drink after work on a Friday is these days.

It was Pride on the Saturday and I'd been vacillating for ages about going: I was pretty keen to but hadn't really worked out how to fit in, there were a couple of groups I liked the sound of but they're doing this whole thing where you're only supposed to march if you've got a wristband your group has paid for which I'm not a fan of. There were some spiritual successors to the Queer Mutiny groups I used to march with (No Pride in War/Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants) who were going to crash the march sans wristbands: I went down and scoped them out but didn't see anyone I knew and they were already getting plenty of police attention, so I went and flaneured up and down the parade as it was forming up and said hi to Kim with The Queer Alternative posse: I could easily have just slipped in but I wasn't sure I would get much added value from hanging around in the sun for another four or five hours so headed down to Lewisham to play board games instead.

I went up to Tottenham in the evening where the Pride Punx crew were having their after-party at T-Chances with a bunch of bands: reggae dudes Dub Righters, then Brit-Brazilian Erege and Master Blaster from New Zealand, who were both much more straight down the line DIY punk. It was a really nice night, a proper community feel, but I didn't know anyone there and headed off after the bands back to N's, as he'd made it home from work. We had brunch in Islington Sunday morning, then I went home for a bit before heading back out to an over-run Vauxhall to meet up with Lovely Joe et al. who had turned up for the tail end of Pride in the Park/Black Pride in the Pleasure Gardens. It wasn't an event that was really on my radar but was really nice: free, friendly and chilled out. I hung out with them for an hour or two then went back home.
lathany: (Default)
[personal profile] lathany
It has been a rather quiet few weeks. We've seen a couple of films, roleplayed once and celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary.

The anniversary meal was at home with the duo. We have savory tarts to start (crab meat, goats cheese and sausage), prawns for the main course and chocolate pots to finish. All with a rather good white wine.

The films were:
  • Rogue One (Star Wars) - I thought this was really good. Sad, of course, but well plotted and acted. I could have done with fewer call-backs to the first film as some felt a bit forced, but otherwise it was good.
  • Moon - This was a Christmas present from Martin that I finally got around to watching. It's an sci-fi/mystery film with a small cast. It's interesting and enjoyable. There's a couple of bits that are slightly shaky, but overall decent.

Finally was the 100 Secrets game, featuring the time-loop temples. This was weird, even by 100 Secrets standards. The idea was that we were sent to find and, if possible, save the survivors of a previous expedition to a temple in the south. The Queen told us she wasn't sure what the temple contained. We now have some idea. The nomads who live in the area have a better idea and it is notable that this includes staying away from the temples. Plus the Ryne family is involved. Turns out that the temples do time-loops. Also multiple bodies - we spent much of the session with two Aeryns. There's a big political battle going on over whether to take word back to the Queen. And that was happening even before we arrived. The next session is going to be both weird and political.

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:41 am
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[personal profile] white_hart
I am assuming, from the amount of anxiety I'm currently feeling about who the new Doctor will be, that I am generally not as OK as I would like to think I am.

Wibbleage )

Reading: To Lie With Lions

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:09 am
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[personal profile] white_hart
The sixth of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò books brings to a conclusion the phase of Nicholas's life sparked by the devastating events of the ending of Scales of Gold. In many ways it felt as though this and The Unicorn Hunt were two halves of one very long book rather than two separate instalments of the series, which I think probably partly explains why I felt that The Unicorn Hunt's plot seemed to meander rather if it was mainly setup for the next book. I feel similarly about The Disorderly Knights and Pawn in Frankincense in the Lymond series, and although the ending of To Lie With Lions isn't quite as cataclysmic as the end of Pawn in Frankincense, or indeed Scales of Gold, it leaves Nicholas in a similar place to Lymond at the end of that book; isolated, friendless and being taken to an unknown destination.

The centrepiece of this book is Nicholas's voyage to Iceland, culminating in a haunting, nightmarish winter journey across country in the face of an imminent volcanic eruption, and a subsequent description of the eruption itself, which are definitely up with the Sahara journey in Scales of Gold and the winter journey in Russia in The Ringed Castle among the most amazing of Dunnett's descriptive passages. The novel then gathers pace and ramps up the tension towards the dénouement, which does the typical Dunnett thing of shining a new light on so many things and radically changing the reader's understanding of both Nicholas's and other characters' natures and motivations, and even if I had guessed the identity of "Egidius", the third Vatachino partner (mostly because Pat McIntosh's Gilbert Cunningham mysteries include a character with the same first name and nickname as the "Egidius" in Dunnett's books, almost certainly as a tribute to Dunnett) there were still plenty of surprises among the revelations.

Only two more to go, although then I'm sure that both the Lymond and Niccolò books would benefit from a re-read; there's so much in them that only makes sense once you have got to the end. Also, I have just bought a secondhand copy of King Hereafter, as it isn't available for Kindle. Though right now I think I need to read something a lot less emotionally demanding for a while.

(no subject)

Jul. 9th, 2017 01:09 pm
tinyjo: (jasmine)
[personal profile] tinyjo
Friday was moving up day - my new class and I spent an hour together and I think that if they can curb their tendency to talk over each other then we'll get on fine. They were very curious - I spent at least half of the time answering questions like "what's your favourite food" and "which youtubers do you like" and so on, but I think that's pretty inevitable. Usually I'd know a bit about them already and they about me from our encounters elsewhere in school but moving to a new school means that they're total unknowns. As I suspected, they're a lot less culturally diverse than any class I've taught before - all white, although not quite all English as there are one or two European children there.

As I also had a meeting for maths leaders in the partnership in the morning, it was also a reasonable dip of the toe into the idea of working on Fridays again, and I am cautiously optimistic that I'll cope OK with it as long as I make sure I don't get to bed too late after games night. I had thought about what we were doing at Brownies on Thursday while I waited around for the governors meeting and as long as I make it out of the gates by 5pm, arriving on time to set up should be perfectly do-able so that's good. I think also, it will actually make Brownies seem less of a chore - currently, it comes at the end of a day off, which makes it tricky to use that for long weekends and also means that I can't just totally chill out on my day off if I want to. Having at the end of a school day felt much less disruptive/intrusive and hopefully that will happen again.

Am feeling practically green fingered because after having a weekly task to do some garden work since about February, I have *finally* got to the point where there are no areas where the weeds have taken over (there are still weeds, they're just more under control and smaller, ground cover type things) and all the paths are clear. I even dead headed the roses today and I have been actually remembering to water the garden every couple of days in this uncharacteristically dry summer, which means that nearly all the plants I bought at Gardeners World are still going strong!
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