Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mrs D Makes Furniture

Unbelievably, Mrs D be turning her unsteady hands to woodwork. She have made a table and two chairs already. Well... more like two footstools really.
She be singing the praises of balsa wood and glue, although it do make her cough when she sands the wood down... and believe you me... with the state of her woodworking skills there have been an awful lot of sanding down.
I mean, she do measure the legs but still ends up with one being quite a bit longer than the others.
Then too... her end-cuts are not the straightest to be honest. So they have to be filed level and all in all..... it be a miracle there is any chair leg left by the time she finishes.

But at least The Old Man and me do have something to eat our dinner off now. Even if the table is only about four or five inches high.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Seven Ages Of Man: Sans Sight

The Old Man do finally go for an eye test. I be complaining for some time that he is not seeing properly. So when his frames broke and he is forced to dig out an older pair of glasses and is a bit shocked to find he can see better through the old ones than the current pair... he admits defeat and goes off to the opticians.
As you may know The Old Man be somewhat unique in all things... to the point of tedium really. So it is no surprise that his eyesight is an inconstant sense... now he sees it... now he don't... sorta thing.
Anyway. He be very pleased when he do emerge from said opticians with a grand total of THREE pairs of glasses on order. A new set of lenses in a new frame, a duplicate pair... in a new frame... and something called "enhanced reading" lenses in a new frame. Apparently this last is for viewing things slightly further away than a book. The Old man says... a computer.. (Ha! Optician don't know that the eyes what does his computer work for him be mine!)... or a newspaper....

These had better work. I see plenty of room for The Old Man's "Princess and the Pea" syndrome to rise up here... three times over.....

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Grey Doll And Criminal Reading: Homegrown Reading

You know me as a bit of a Scandi-crime enthusiast. Bit? Huh... total reading matter more like.....
But recently I do return to home roots with  M.H. Baylis's "The Tottenham Outrage" which I certain do enjoy... packed full of multi-culture and a lively view of the streets of North London.

It opens with the death of a family picnicking in Finsbury Park on a lovely spring day. The Hasidic family are found slumped over their food and onlookers are accusing a group of Muslim youths of spraying them with something. Local journalist Rex Tracey and his photographer friend Terry get caught up in the event and what follows takes us on journey amongst the streets of Tottenham and the Hasidic communities of Stamford Hill with Terry getting accused of another murder along the way. The crime story is interspersed with the account of one "George Smith" and his involvement with a true-life historical event, the failed Anarchist robbery of 1909 known as the "Tottenham Outrage".

The writing is characterful and funny and Baylis handles the two time threads very well. In all, this series featuring Rex Tracey and the streets of North London is certainly one I would visit again. You can read the full review here.


Friday, 19 September 2014

The Old Man Continues His Washing....

....which has caused the unearthing of multiple albums of Callas singing "Anna Bolena"....
This, in turn, be caused by us watching a DVD of the Vienna Staatsoper live recording (2011) with Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena and Elina Garanca as Jane Seymour.

I like most of the singing... and certainly Elina Garanca seems very fine. Not so happy with some aspects of the production itself. The set, although fairly  restrained do seem a bit tricksy now and then for no good reason. And the characters are sometimes left bobbing up and down on one knee... erm... also for no good reason that I can see. There is indeed rather a lot of milling about stage business to no dramatic end. But on the whole - I'm happy.

I am a bit uneasy with my increasing tolerance of Donizetti. I seem to be starting to like some of his operas. Though don't ask me to rush towards "La Fille du Regiment"... I'm not ready for that yet. (Brisk shake like a dog).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Madame Deficit Considers Scottish Indepence


Bon jour...Mes amis ├ęcossais.... today you say whether you wish to be independent of the jolly old UK.
I do not blame you for considering it.
But it is really Westminster you do object to, non?
Believe me Celtic friends... or perhaps it is... Gaelic friends... many of us in the hedonistic south do also feel that Westminster is an isle unto itself. If you succeed in becoming independent....Can we be too? And just leave Westminster to get on with life by itself which is to say.... independently?
Alors....We shall see what you decide soon.

Just one moment, though. Perhaps if you say "Yes"... you would consider admitting an immigrant? I find that I have Scottish "baker" blood in two strands of my illustrious ancestry.
So.... I can bring plenty of cake.
Please?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

For An Old Friend - Eliza Banks 1920-2014

A dear friend has died. A long life. Artists' daughter, wife and mother, traveller, acupuncturist, "roadie" for an African drummer, astrologer... What did she not do?
Her own recent words... "Interests: discovering what makes a person tick - dealing practically with problems - coming to terms with old age -"

'Bye, good friend. Here's the drumming.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

If You Could Hear The Things I Hear When I'm Cleaning Records....

The Old Man is very happy playing with the present I do give him. It's a gizmo to help him clean his vinyl.... Record albums, that is.

It's called a Spin Clean and compared to top end products it doesn't cost a fortune but it does the job. I got him some new paper inner sleeves at the same time.

He's a happy bunny.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Those Caterpillars

You know that Elephant Hawk-Moth caterpillar The Old Man do find on the path the other day?
Well he's getting good at this. Just found a fifth. On a path. Sometimes at the front of the house. Sometimes at the back. Five, I tell you.
Or else the same one be going round and round the house.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Old Man Finds A Caterpillar

"I found a big caterpillar... I found a big caterpillar..."
"Where?"
"....I found a big caterpillar..."
"Where?"
"Here... Look."
"Whe-e-ere!"
"Outside the kitchen door..... Look..."



My word it be a big boy... sat there... disconsolate on the weedy concrete yard.
I can see a "face" at the front end - almost like a lizard's face. This is apparently what gives it's final moth phase its name of the Elephant Hawk-Moth.... not because of the size of the moth (silly me) but for this "snout" at the front.
Rightly or wrongly we do carry it away from the concrete (so ready to be stood on) and put it into the leaf-litterish undergrowth round the front hoping it would find a handy place to pupate.
Read the Guardian article by another man surprised in the undergrowth.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

BBC4 "Crimes Of Passion" - How Was It For You?

BBC4's new Swedish crime series "Crimes of Passion" came to UK screens on Saturday (30th Aug). I be so looking forward to it for many reasons. I remember Ola Rapace as being good as "Stefan Lindman" in the first series of "Wallander". I've not been happy with BBC4's Saturday night reprise of a-a-all those Montalbanos and so have been waiting eagerly for something fresh.... and of course.... I do like a Scand-crime series.

In this first episode a group of academics and creative types arrive at their host's home on an idyllic Swedish island to celebrate Midsummer's Eve. Much drinking and smoking and flirting and angst-ing do go on. But come morning... a walk in the woods finds one of the group dead. This will be followed by the arrival of Homicide Inspector Christer Wijk (Rapace)..... and several more deaths.

I enjoyed the setting and retro cool of the whole thing but I am not sure it hits the spot for me. It is too Agatha Christie. Hers is not the kind of crime writing that I enjoy.... too much puzzle/plot and not enough character. But.... BIG BUT... many crime readers adore her and many crime writers of all sorts of genre's adore her also.
More disappointing is that there seemed to be some.... pointless suspense dangles... or rather at least one. Because what is it with all those shots through the shrubbery of the lady lead... accompanied by heavy breathing? It didn't seem to figure in the killings at all.
Or did I miss something?
I mean, The Old Man be getting restless and chatting quite a bit... And you see this is the fatal flaw in subtitled puzzle/plot crime. Take you eyes off the subtitles whilst the detective is explaining to the assembled guests who killed who and for why.... and you are sunk.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Animated Discussions: Real-life Settings And Lighting for Paul Howell's "Husk"

With a life-sized puppet and real backdrops - "Husk" is a stop motion animation set on the streets of Melbourne and telling the tale of a dryad amongst feral fairies! It's currently doing the rounds of film and animation festivals. The film is by animation software "Stopmotion Pro" owner, Paul Howell with music by Bruce Smeaton.
Follow this link to a set of blog posts that describe its making... including some of the problems involved in shooting on real-time city streets.
And this is a very short trailer!


Husk film trailer from Paul Howell on Vimeo.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Travels With My Film Life: Ireland, Sligo... "Calvary"

The other night we visit Sligo with "Calvary".... a wonderful, dark, moving film by John Michael McDonagh.
In a small coastal community, a priest, Father James, hears confession in which a man recounts his years of abuse at the hands of a priest and tells his confessor... how much better to kill a good priest than a bad one. The man's abuser is dead now anyway... so Father James must make his peace and prepare for his own death in one week's time, for he is the "good" priest chosen. Father James is played by Brendan Gleeson (am now a fan... after watching him as Ray of "In Bruges") and what follows is both at times humorous and at other times bleak. Perhaps a metaphor based on Christ's approach to his place of execution, this is certainly a study of man, conscience, love, faith... I dunno. But it is the sort of powerful film, packed full of strong performances, that you can't help thinking about long after it's finished.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Old Man Bakes Bread Again

For friends and foes who wonder about The Old Man's hand problems...
Still not quite right. But he be getting back into the swing of baking bread with a largely one-handed approach to bread shaping...
He is getting back on form, though he do say his starter be getting  a bit "thin"... and therefore he still be fretting.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Oooh... Dr Who...

I did watch the Nooo Dr Whooo'Cos I never do grow up.
The Old Man disappeared to do the washing-up as he cannot cope with sci-fi facial rearrangements.

But this is a fine, steam-punk, first episode (Deep Breath) with Peter Capaldi in place as the regenerated time-hero.... confused, rattled, angry, but delighted to be Scottish. A Thames-bound dinosaur, murderous automata and the return of the Madam Vastra the Lizard Lady - I so enjoyed it all.




Now with a new Swedish crime series (Crimes of Passion) coming to BBC Four next Saturday (Aug 30th 2014). I shall be a happy Saturday night telly watcher again.