Friday, 12 May 2017

Current State Of Obsessions

We are a household filled with obsessions. Aren't you? For me, Bike Girl, it's fantasising a life on the road with my bike and my dog. Have you met my dog?
 Mrs D "arranged" him for me. I'd thought I'd like one of those rangy Lurcher guys. But I think some Chow Chow got in to Dog's mix by the look of him. Whatever, he is a good-natured old boy.

So what are these current obsessions? Grey Doll still reads crime novels and has just reviewed "Fatal Crossing", a crime debut by Danish journalist turned crime writer Lone Theils for Euro Crime. You can read The Doll's review in this post on the Euro Crime blog.

The Doll's eyes are tired and rectangular from her evening TV-viewing as well. She and The Old Man did give up on multinational crime thriller The Team ... and she is beginning to think that the third series of French dirty-politics and PR-villainies series, Spin, has ... spun. But she is happy to see Hinterland back on the screen. It's a Welsh crime series set in almost total darkness and packed with monosyllabic conversations... except for the Welsh bits. Loves the photography though, does the Doll.
Other viewing she has recently enjoyed includes globe-trotting situation comedy Gap Year. And, Oh, how she misses the weekly slot filled with pillage and war, tattooed Danes, prissy Saxons and the muscular, jaw-clenched Uhtred (nee Osbert) of Bebbenburg in The Last Kingdom.

You may ask about The Old Man's obsessions too. But why ask? Didn't you know that in the UK we have a General Election coming up? Shouting at the telly and radio has gone to maximum decibels in this household. Grey Doll joins in and then Dog starts barking.  Then I have to rev up the bike and dream of faraway hills and open roads.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Artistic Obsessions: Adrian Piqueras Sanchez as an "Animaholic"

Still snacking, dozing and discussing creative obsessions, Mrs D is herself rather preoccupied with the notion of buying a fountain pen (after watching Mattias Adolfsson's video about pens).
Whilst considering creative obsession she fell upon this confession of Madrid-born Adrian Piqueras Sanchez on his own consuming addiction. Mrs D do quote from his website  (original is in Spanish of course but ... here's to the glories or otherwise of Google translate.). 

"The first time a painting came to my hands, I heard a voice in my head that said ... Draw! But since I still could not speak, I ate it. That day I learned 2 things: that it is not food does not mean that it does not feed, and that life can be seen in many ways. Since then I do nothing more than draw everything that goes through my head, creating impossible beings with everything I encounter and encouraging everything that is supposed to be inert. 
And yes ... I do keep hearing voices."

Aaah! Passion! says Mrs D. Oh ... by the way, references to "the dragon" in this film are likely to refer to an addiction to the animation software Dragonframe and not another substance... ahem.

ANIMAHOLIC from Adrian Piqueras Sánchez on Vimeo.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Artistic Obsessions: Mattias Adolfsson on Fountain Pens

Mrs D always says that creative makers/artists need to be obsessive... somewhat. She usually says this whilst lying around with a glass of red and a snack. But I have stumbled across some videos which illustrate this point nicely.

The first comes from Swedish artist Mattias Adolfsson - one time 3D animator and now an "analogue" illustrator. Mrs D follows his blog and enjoys visiting his intricate, fantastic and wittily drawn world on an almost daily basis.

His blog is called Mattias Inks. You can read a Nonsense Society 2013 interview with Mattias .... but above all let him tell you about his obsession with fountain pens himself. Watch the video.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Animated Discussions: Eva Cvijanović and "Seasick"

One of The Doll's previous posts was about Kati Hiekkepelto's "The Exiled" - a crime thriller set in Serbia.

OK, this is a ropy link but I'm continuing the theme of exile with this lovely animation featured by Chris Robinson in his blog "Pictures from the Brainbox: a weekly dose of Indie Animation" on the Animation World Network site.

Canadian resident and "Seasick" creator - Sarajevo-born animator Eva Cvijanović - told Robinson that “Making this film was my way of fighting Canadian winter by immersing myself in memories of swimming in the Adriatic Sea by the Croatian coast.”

... It's a very different view of seasickness ... and a tender, beautifully-made, short film.

You can read an interview with Eva on the Skwigly here.

SEASICK from eva cvijanovic on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Cornish Interlude

First sight of swallows.
The Old Man and me do drive away to eat pasties and drink tea on Goonhilly Downs. Blackthorn is blossoming, foot high willows at the side of the path have bright yellow "pussy willow" catkins, tiny sedges flower. We do walk along and I hear the skylarks - and see one - singing and singing in the sky. Then two swallows dip and scoop over the dry grass, pools and heath. The gorse is so yellow and lush this year and for the first time I do smell it... coconut. Gorse flowers smell of coconut.

The other day... we walk down to the coast at Rinsey. The lane is narrow. Again, blackthorn and bright deep-yellow gorse in the hedges. And with them - the pale yellow-green of flowering alexanders. They look so good together. And the whole lane smells of honey from the alexanders.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Doll's Criminal Reading: Serbia via Finland - Kati Hiekkapelto's "The Exiled"

Finnish writer Kati Hiekkapelto has had all three of her crime novels featuring Serbian-born Finnish Police detective Anna Fekete translated into English and published in the UK. "The Exiled" is her third ... so rather typically of me it's the first that I have laid my hands on and read. So I apologise for any inadvertent series' spoilers I may include in this review.

The Exiled (Anna Fekete)The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto

Finnish police detective Anna has returned to her home village in Serbia for a summer holiday. It's a community she left as a child when her mother emigrated to Finland after the death of Anna's policeman father during the Yugoslav wars.
Basking in the summer heat and waiting for the village celebrations that accompany the annual bloom of mayflies over the river, Anna is caught up in a crime on the first night of her stay when her bag is snatched in the park. The thief's body is found on the river bank the following day. His death is pronounced an accidental drowning but Anna's detective instincts kick in. She becomes obsessed with the scratchiness of the local police investigation and pathologist's findings. And no one seems to know or care what happened to the young Roma girl who was with the thief that night in the park.
Anna's daily life grows increasingly uncomfortable; unable to feel at home, paraded around her father's contemporaries and pressured by her mother to conform to local manners and etiquette. Whilst the village waits for the ephemeral mayflies, Anna is drawn deeper into investigating the thief's death. It is an obsession which also draws her into the past and just as deeply into the mystery of her own father's death.

During my crime-reading travel I have never visited this part of Europe - a Hungarian region of Northern Serbia close to the border of Hungary itself. Its flat plains of wheat and sunflowers, dotted with ancient, neglected farmhouses, parches in the summer heat. In the book it is a region whose borders and way of life has been disrupted by the Balkan wars and now modern conflicts are made evident in the makeshift camps of homeless refugees in the town parks and the growth of nationalism marked by young skinheads prowling the edges of these temporary communities. This is an enthralling thriller which reads well in David Hackston's translation and keeps its realised characters and pace going until the end. I shall be looking forward to reading more of prickly Anna Fekete.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Animated Discussions: Bath House by Niki Lindroth von Bahr

For fans of Nordic Noir ... or "slow film" as in Roy Andersson  ... Bahr's award-winning "Bath House" is a meticulous stop motion film set in a Swedish public swimming bath.
If you think you've had a bad day at work take pity on this shift manager. I think it's funny in a bleak way but then I love the aforementioned Andersson and I adored the Icelandic comedy series set in an all-night garage -The Night Shift.

The film is in Swedish with English subtitles. If you don't get the subtitles, click on the CC button at bottom right on video bar.

Bath House from Niki Lindroth von Bahr on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Greydoll Reads The Women: Angela Carter and Colette

Sleepless nights a month or so back caused me to experiment with short stories as bedtime reading choice. Then too,  I fancied a break from gritty crime and instead to enjoy the company of ... not wolves as such but women.

Spurred on by listening to extracts from a biography of Angela Carter on the radio (The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon) I raided my bookshelves and found a copy of her collection The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - re-imagined and retold fairy tales including Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast and Puss in Boots amongst others. Each is a detailed tale spun from imagination, blood, eroticism, love and identity.  Angela Carter was a writer who loved language so much that her pages spangle and glitter with the relish of it and may not be to your taste if your relish is not equal to Carter's. Verdict: dark and toothy myths from female experience and imagination, rich enough for reading again and again. And if that ain't part of the definition of legend then I don't know what is.

But after this powerful dip into alternatives, I opted for another old favourite from my bookshelf - the French writer  Colette with The Rainy Moon, And Other StoriesThe Rainy Moon, And Other Stories.
This is a collection filled with Colette's sharp observation and description in which, in the main, Colette casts herself as witness to and narrator of stories of love, obsession and relationship all set during the first half of the twentieth century. Her sharp but cool eye is as much a delight as her writing (in this edition translated from the French by Antonia White) and each of these short stories left me with something to think about.