Saturday, 22 November 2014

Grey Doll's Retro Criminal Read : The Darkest Room

It's getting to that dark time of the year for us here in the northern world... Halloween has been and gone and we are heading into midwinter ... the time for shivers and ghost stories as we close the curtains against the dark outside.

Coincidentally, I have just finished reading Johan Theorin's second "Öland" book - The Darkest Room - beautifully translated by Marlaine Delargy. Remember I did post that I was intending to catch up with earlier books written by this Swedish crime writer? I can assure you that this is just the chilling read for a stormy winter night.

The book starts with a local reference to a tradition that the dead meet to worship at a local church on Christmas Eve.... We are back on the Swedish Baltic island of Öland, midway between the Swedish mainland and the larger island of Gotland. A young family has moved into a run-down manor house with its two lighthouses at Eel Point, on the island's north-east coast. As Öland begins to face the Baltic storms and blizzards of winter, one of the family is found drowned close to the lighthouses. Add a burglary spree by a gang that likes to scout out their crimes with a ouija board.... and what follows is a moving story of grief, secrets, violence and tragic threads from the past reaching into the present.

I don't usually search out supernatural books but I can take a bit of shiver - and I have to say that Johan Theorin writes a wonderful mixture of modern crime and psychological chill. This is perhaps the most ghostly of his that I have read so far but he weaves the strands together so well that, as the suspense builds, it seems that both worlds are colliding in one tense crisis.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Getting The Goat... Or Two

It's been a very rural week. The other day I'm sitting at me desk and do hear a bellow. Looking out the window ... I see a gent walking along our narrow lane in front of quite several bullocks who be following slowly, looking very puzzled and bellowing occasionally. Altogether there are four people providing the bullock escort but I be amazed. Not seen this sight before... though it is perfectly possible as we have plenty of fields around. I just watched and hoped that none of the animals do attempt the downhill slide of our drive!

Then a day or so later I'm looking out of the same window to see two goats stepping along in a wide-eyed, curious manner. I do shoot out the front door (thinking of the narrow road they be approaching... with its fast four-be-fours...) closely followed by The Old Man who announces they have gone down the row adjoining. Fortunately they have stopped to investigate a neighbour's front drive. So I do whip past them and double back in a nonchalant "How d'ye do... fancy seeing you here." kind of way.
Have you ever tried guiding goats? Me, neither. But with The Old Man calling in an encouraging way and me trailing on behind... we do get them round the corner and heading home. (Yes. I do know where they come from.) And anyway I spot a young man with a feeding bowl heading towards our strange procession. Clearly he knows when he have lost a goat... or two.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Look Mama - New Hands

Well it's true that after my last film one of my hands do drop off. Between you and me.... mechanics and manufacture is not one of Mrs D's strong points. But she has remade my hands and .... Alors! They're big ain't they. Mrs D do assure me that they will be "all the better to gesture with.." Though Mrs D do (worryingly) add that, of course, these may drop off as well and then there will be no option but to re-make the whole arm/hand thing... twice.

Never mind, I do get used to this idea now. By way of recompense Mrs D has  done a new make-up job. I must admit that the old "physog" was getting a bit grey with age.

While Mrs D is making the hands and screaming a lot as she does, The Old Man makes a helpful suggestion... (No... really... this time it is helpful, honest.) He suggests that when she comes to make the solid bits that strengthen the "finger" wires (using Polymorph - a meltable, reusable, plastic), she should break the "palm" into two... which makes for a natural bend point and should cause less stress on the wrist and hand when moving it about.

Give that man a pasty - he do seem to have the right idea.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: A Retro "Johan Theorin" Read

You know that I like to travel when I read (as opposed to reading whilst I travel, because travel I don't.) Where was I? Aah. Reading in a foreign manner....

A while ago I listened to "The Quarry" by Swedish writer Johan Theorin. I liked it so much that... discovering that it was actually the third in a series of novels set on the Swedish Baltic island of Öland... I ordered up the previous two novels.
I've got the break needed to get back to them and have just finished the first in the series "Echoes From The Dead" which confirms my respect for this writer. Well-crafted, filled with convincing characters, psychology and suspense, this too has that trademark of Theorin which may not be to everybody's taste... the lightest touch of the supernatural. I don't mean Stephen King scales of horror. I mean a light Nordic touch that accepts trolls, spirits, ghosts, whatever, as inhabiting the same space as you and I and that they may or may not take part in the narrative. (Think Indridason, Kallentoft...)

"Echoes From the Dead"- translated into English by Marlaine Delargy (Theorin, Asa Larsson, and John Ajvide Lindqvist) - tells the story of a child's death on the island of Öland in the 1970s. His mother, scarred by her loss, has returned to visit her father who lives in a residential home on the island. It is some twenty years later but someone has sent a package to the old man. It contains a child's sandal. This is a moving, gripping story but what I like about this series as much as anything else is the island itself - a place scarred by the lost industries of its past and now inhabited mainly by summer visitors who have renovated the old houses and come to enjoy the sea and beaches of the Baltic.
Er.. sounds a bit like Cornwall really.
Anyway, I'm off to start the second in the series: "The Darkest Room".

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Grey Doll & Criminal Listening: BBC Radio Four, Cuba And More Foreign Bodies

A newsletter from Bitter Lemon Press... specialist publishers of translated crime fiction ....  tells us that those of us in the UK listening to BBC Radio 4 are due for a Cuban crime treat on Saturday afternoons ( 2.30 - 3.30 pm starting 15th November ) with a series of dramatisations of Leonardo Padura's "Havana Quartet".
What's more there is a tie in with a new series of Mark Lawson's excellent "Foreign Bodies". This time he looks at how crime fiction reflects different political systems.... starting with Cuba and Communism. These programmes will air on BBC Radio 4, from Monday 17th November, 1.45 - 2.00 pm. and will run daily in same slot until Friday 21st November. In addition to Cuba the episodes will cover political perspectives from USA, Poland, Australia and Nigeria.

Ooh! I gotta pin my ears back and enjoy this lot.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wedding Day

Mmmn.... This is for the wedding of an old friend this weekend.

She didn't want no fuss... hee-hee. So I'm only making it a little fussy....
Go Girl.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Animated Discussions: Carine Khalife Paints For Young Galaxy

By way of something different from Mrs D's learner efforts.... take a look at French artist Carine Khalife 's dream-like "paint-on-glass" animation for  Young Galaxy's "Blown Minded" music video.

Over on the Stop Motion Pro site (cos that's the animation software she used to create it) here .... Carine Khalife describes how the video came about and the technique she uses to create her painted-glass animations.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Animated Goings On: The Price We Pay...

 Mrs D do finally realise that we do have our working limits.
A minutes's worth of animated film-making do make for havoc in our aging limbs.
The Old Man's legs is dropping off again and my hand be somewhat broken.

Clearly she have neither perfected her character-making... nor grown to accept that in the cinematic life.... actors have a price to pay.
We are duly waiting to be sorted out.... yet again.
I hope she do get a move on 'cos I was looking forward to some kind of Christmas spec-"tat"ular starring "me".

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Animated Goings On: Seating The Guests

So Mrs D finally got her act together and I be worn out again.

About this film she do say: "One should do all that one can to make one's guests feel comfortable - seating them in an informal manner for example......."

Seating The Guests from Mrs Doonuthin on Vimeo.

Edit: Sadly have had some problems with this video playing choppily in Firefox browser. Current solution lies in Firefox "Advanced options".  Views fine in Chrome and Explorer. Let me know if you experience problems.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Animated Goings On: Waiting For The Guests To Arrive

OK. The doorbell has just rung and Mrs D has got us sitting here waiting for the arrival of the supper guests....

Today she is filming the actual arrival and speaking personally... at my age.... I can't hold this pose for ever.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Travels With My Film Life: Ireland, 1930s - Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall"

.... County Leitrim during the 1930s ...and Ken Loach's latest,  and perhaps last, feature film. (He says you need a lot of energy to make a film... and as he is nearly 80....)

A right blood-boiler is "Jimmy's Hall"  too... based on the true story of Irish exile-returned Jimmy Gralton who rebuilds the local "hall" as a place to learn, dance (jazz even), meet and so on. But it is shortly after the Irish War of Independence and such socialist goings on were not to be countenanced.
The film tells the story of Jimmy and his friends' struggle to keep the Hall going against strong opposition from the Church and local Law and Order....

Beautifully shot and filmed...
You know how you can see a scene in a film and know what time of day it is by the light and the quality of the sound? Well that's just what happens with some of the exteriors around the "Hall" ....And... veteran Irish actor Jim Norton gives a splendidly chilling performance as the local Priest.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Falmouth Comics Convention - This Weekend 24-26 October 2014

That's right... The Poly in Falmouth is hosting a comics convention this weekend (Friday 24th - Sunday 26th October). Tickets about £6 per person. (I'm not finding the details absolutely clear... but hey! I'm an elder person.) with exhibitors, artists, workshops, sellers, talks etc.
Thinking about going... though we are shrouded in deep mist as I write... so...

You can check the details at  22 Panels Comic Art Show

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Animated Goings On: A Demanding Situation

.....In which I start to demand cutlery and dishes like a demented bride-to-be making her wedding list.

Mrs D is scratching her head over the relevant merits of Fimo..  (cups and plates).... Newplast (the original "plasticine" for us oldies, seen here as oranges and pie!) and Polymorph.....(cutlery handles).

But I still want MORE....

Friday, 17 October 2014

Grey Doll And Criminal Reading: Jan Costin Wagner

If, like me, you are cheered by discovering a new "crime series" to read... you'll understand my "hurrahs" when I recently read "Light in a Dark House" by German writer Jan Costin Wagner.
And if, like me, you enjoy a Nordic setting, then you get two treats in one because Wagner lives part of the time in Finland and it is in Finland that he sets his crime series featuring detective Kimmo Joentaa.

"Light in a Dark House" is his latest in this series to be translated into English (by respected translator Anthea Bell). The story centres on the murder of a coma patient in the local hospital, a mystery patient about whom nothing is known since she was found unconscious by the roadside. What follows is a multi-stranded investigation that brings Joentaa back into contact with Helsinki detective Westerberg and embraces several apparently unconnected murders. The narrative also uses passages from diaries, some from the present day and some from the 1980s.

I enjoyed this book and hope to backtrack to Wagner's earlier stories in the series. Be warned. If you don't appreciate a large slice of introspection or emotional content in your crime detection and detectives.... this may not be your style of reading. But it is mine!
You can read a full Euro crime review here.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Animated Discussions: Wind by Robert Loebel

Prize winning short from Robert Loebel concerning a land where the wind always blows and the adaptations of its people to their circumstances. A monument to ingenuity.
Sound design by Berlin-based David Kamp.

WIND from robert loebel on Vimeo.