Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Animated Goings On: Finally...."A Christmas Spirit"

At last Mrs D have wrapped it up (for you)....
And Me and The Old Man can put our feet up.... before our legs drop off.... again. That is.... there still be some cooking and cleanin to do and some lights to put up and all. But The Old Man and me do really wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A Christmas Spirit from Mrs Doonuthin on Vimeo.
A very short film in which The Old Man gets a Christmas surprise and a wake up call.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Time Out For A Birthday

I wait impatiently for my film to be finished but that Mrs D do have a birthday and chooses to lounge about instead...

The Old Man do give in to her retro desire for vinyl and gets her a Birthday-Christmas-Birthday-Christmas... ya-da-ya-da... present. It's a record deck so that she can listen to her forty-five year old LPs. For those who like to know such things it be a "Pro-Ject Essential II " and she be mightily pleased with it.
And he do get her some jazz to play. And he do bake her a cake.

Very lovely. But where is my starring role in the Christmas production?
I am ready for my close-up, Mrs D.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Animated Goings On: The Old Man Awakes

He's awake again...
Hang on to your hats. He'll start talking again soon.

Oh look. Well my....suddenly it's Christmas.....

Friday, 5 December 2014

Animated Goings On... Back to Work

I just get so-o-o bored. Waiting for that Mrs D to get back to the film-making.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Manners On The Lizard...And A Beach Clean...

Roused ourselves from hibernation the other day in order to march around Lizard Point a bit. And to eat a pasty of course. Walking back towards the village on a very narrow road... we do have to press in to the hedge for several cars. Their drivers waved and thanked. Then I hear the throaty roar of some grand kinda auto... immediately followed by a second.
We pressed in. They passed by.
Not a smile or wave.
I admit I do shout something sarcastic at both of the car parties.... Manners maketh nothing for some.

At the weekend we do also march along the local beach. There were the remains of what must have been a splendid firework show lying all over the sand. Rocket sticks and cylinders in plenty. Cardboard "candle" cylinders the size of Family Chicken Buckets. Red plastic nose cones all over the place. I couldn't stand it and started to gather them together. The Old Man do go one step further and start to ferry them up to a council bin on the path above. Together we manage two or three armfuls and gathered yet more rocket sticks as we walked along back to the car. All the time another couple were beach-combing near by. Perhaps for pretty pebbles? As we passed them on some steps (still clutching our armfuls) they congratulated us on our  beach clean up. They had seen the fireworks from their home some miles away. We were jolly good to pick it all up. They smiled politely and genuinely as they walked on with their carrier bag of beach-combings.
Sometimes... I be puzzled by people.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Short Break...

Blimey! The Old Man have got so bored waiting for me to pontificate that he have fallen asleep. We do truly enjoy a life full of sparkling wit here.

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.

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.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Animated Goings-On: The Old Man Makes The Stage

Much as he would love to be a thespian....
..... it is more that The Old Man have done what I say on the tin. He has made an animation stage for me to do my thing on.... (such devotion).
About 6 inches high.....steel floor for the magnets.....
Er... I'd better get some proper magnets to hold me feet down.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Saturday Night Thrills... On the Telly: "The Code"

How did you get on with BBC4's Saturday Crime Spot of "Crimes Of Passion"? Well... I was having my doubts after Episode One but thought I would give it a more generous go..... And then I gave up. It just continued with its strange red herrings and retro fashion bloops. Sadly, it was not for me and The Old Man refused point blank.
We had to substitute DVD Saturday nights....

So, I shall look forward to the new series for viewing. As of  Saturday 11th October at 21 hrs.... (er... tomorrow/today whatever...) BBC4 will be showing its UK viewers the Australian series "The Code" ....billed as a political thriller. Once again, I look forward.
I shall be there.... sat in my chair ..... glued.
Some people view Saturday nights as curry nights, I do view them as foreign telly nights. Hurray!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Furniture: Its Limiting Effects On Sociability

So Mrs D do make us two stools and a dining table. All very nice. But not well received by Bike Girl when she do drop in for supper. She says she would like something to sit on as well... unless we want her to bring the bike to the table.

Think Mrs D has some more sanding and glueing to do.

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 écossais.... 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.

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..."
"....I found a big caterpillar..."
"Here... Look."
"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.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Guilty Pleasures: Film Music - The Old Man Speaks

The Old Man do remonstrate with me that he DO like film music.
I say "Huh!" to that.
"Yes," he say " I like that man what wrote the music for Truffaut's "Day for Night".
"Who's that?"
"Can't remember.... But I also like the one who wrote for Cocteau... Er.... Begins with a A..."
"Auric." say I, forever the reference librarian.
"Yes. That's it."
So there we are. We both like a spot of film music. But he likes French and I like Italian.

And here's a trail for Cocteau's "Orpheus" including some of Auric's music from the Criterion Collection over at YouTube.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Guilty Pleasures: Film Music

I do admit that sometimes I like to listen to film music.
I have the odd CD of such....(Ennio Morricone)
Why is this a guilty pleasure? Because The Old Man do not approve of such a thing. Despite his own passion for  Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" music. many, including myself, our own passions are the exceptions that prove the rule... He do sneer at the genre as a whole.... 'cos it is not proper stuff.
But if I like it. I love it.

So there I be on Saturday afternoon.... minding my own business... when Radio 3's "Sound of Cinema" pops up. This episode is not a mixed one, but a programme dedicated to the music of Nino Rota... (Zeffirelli, Visconti, Coppola's "The Godfather"...) I'd already missed Part One last week... but I be able to listen to this one - dedicated to his work with Fellini.
I be transported to the world of Italian film. Sunglasses on, I bop around a bit. Oh, I enjoyed it, me.

Brit-based listeners can catch this episode over the next few days til about 23rd August - here.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

With Apologies...

... for not posting more often.
I am reverting to my name-type. Old, grey, grumpy.... disillusioned. I am also stiff as a board. Bits of me hurt more often than I would like. I have taken to seeing my osteopath again and she tries to straighten me up. Then she folds my arms across my chest and I see her approaching me with that rolled up towel...
And I do exclaim, "NO! Not the cracking..."
"Oh yes..." she says and...
Crack.. Crack.. crack...  do sound my back as she do squash me up.
I look at her aghast.
She says... "You needed that."

Alors! I am still grumpy. Perhaps I have to take up meditation. But the world's a mess, ain't she.... and it do make me brood.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The View From St. Agnes Beacon

The other day... a break for freedom away from the house with a trip over to St. Agnes Beacon, a landmark hill over on the North coast of Cornwall near the village of St. Agnes.
Heather, butterflies, bees, and a blue dragonfly the size of a small helicopter buzzing a puddle near the top. It be lovely there. Back to the car for the necessary pasty.

This view is from near the top... looking eastwards along the coast towards Perranporth and Newquay.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Graphic Passions : "Through the Woods" by Emily Carroll

Been reading/looking at... Through The Woods, just published in the UK by Faber & Faber.

It's a first book by Canadian illustrator-comics artist Emily Carroll...(although she has contributed to anthologies in the past) and it's made up of five short horror stories which seem to be being billed as "for children".
Well... in many ways I never do grow up... so I am happy to be horrified by Carroll's black, white, red (with the occasional swish of rotting green) drawings and hand drawn text... which bring us these dark tales from the forest, where something dreadful always abides... it being a place that is an eternal source of fairy tales of the Grimm kind.

It is hard not to gallop through these stories.... OK. I gallop through these stories.... BUT I know that I will pick up the book again and savour the artwork and the lingering thoughts left by these pungent little tales of the Undead, the Other, -  and the Things which are not what they seem.
Here's what The Independent  has to say in a recent batch review.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Kneehigh Coming To Cornwall: Dead Dog In A Suitcase

Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) - Official Promo from WeAreKneehigh on Vimeo.

Aah.... but I would like to see this. Because I am a great Kneehigh fan. This year their Cornwall Asylum venue is at the Lost Gardens of Heligan with performances of this new work, based on John Gay's Beggar's Opera with music by Charles Heazlewood, running from 30th August to 28th September.

But... we live down the western end of Cornwall... and Heligan be up towards the eastern end. Think it's too far for The Old Man to drive back of an evening... So... sadly ... prob'ly won't manage it this year. Boo-Hoo!
But if you are in the area... you must go!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

By Heck... A Fledgling Where It Shouldn't Be... (Episode Two)

Having established that a baby sparrow have somehow got itself into the tube of our extractor fan... and be shouting out to the world through the outlet grille .... (see yesterday's post)...
The Old Man and me do decide there is nothing for it but to try to release it from inside the house. There have been many a tradesman who do nearly come to blows with The Old Man over his insistence that things be done a certain way. And in this case he insisted that we be able to get at the extractor fan outlet, which is hidden by a cupboard, rather than being walled in.

And so it be that I do empty everything including a kitchen sink .... (well, no, not quite)... from said cupboard and The Old Man sets about unscrewing its backboards. Next, he removes the insulation... (paff... pthah... archoo!) .... which do leave us staring at a coil of extractor hose running up from the floor below. Slowly The Old Man disconnects the hose from its solid junction and I hurriedly fix some paper over the junction pipe ... else all will be lost if the fledgling plummets downwards. Finally, we do peer into the hose and see for ourselves the feathered bum of a small bird standing on the bend before the grille.

Well, I do try a small box held underneath the end of the coil... a bit of judicious wiggling and shaking. No good. A careful hand creeping up the pipe... just causes the bird to shuffle out of reach towards the grille. In the end we cover what gaps and remaining insulation we can....and carefully close the cupboard door.

I am scratching me head wondering what to do next, when The Old Man shouts that the chirping is now very LOUD. We carefully open the cupboard door... and there on the floor is a small but perfectly formed sparrow.

Long story shortened... I do manage to catch it and decide that The Old Man's advice to put it out of the window onto the roof is perhaps not the thing to do. I go downstairs and into the yard and put it into the thick shrubby clematis that covers the house wall under the nest boxes. The little thing do immediately plummet into the shrubbery under the clematis stems. But tis the best I can do. The clematis heaves with sparrows on occasion and I think it must form a landing platform for the the fledglings who manage a more orthodox entry into the big wide world.

Oh. Yes. How did it get into the pipe in the first place? It must have bounced along the top of the house wall as far as the hose... where The Old Man do spot that something have made a nice raggedy hole. Some years ago we did have a slight mouse problem....

And, yes, 36 hours later, there still be healthy chirping from the shrubbery and an adult bird in attendance.... so we live in hopes we did the best we could.
Next step... a new hose perhaps.

Monday, 28 July 2014

By Heck... A Fledgling Where It Shouldn't Be... (Episode One)

'Tis a strain during the fledging season...
Every year we do have sparrows who insist on nesting under the gutter above me bathroom.... despite the bird boxes fixed close by on the house wall in an effort to tempt them elsewhere.
Last few years this do cause some anxiety as the odd fledgling jumps the wrong way so to speak and ends up bouncing around in our minimal roof space. (No fatalities that I know of... but it has caused extreme measures of removing loft hatch... opening the window wide and leaving the bathroom alone... for days sometimes....)

So it seems this be shaping up to be another wayward year. On a couple of occasions, above my head, I do hear some small thing flapping about where it shouldn't, although eventually all seems well and all "cheeps" do be back where they belong. However, the other morning I do grow suspicious as (like a submariner listening to sonar) I track a small cheep, travelling above me down the the room.... away from the nest.... its appropriate fledging point.

I do fret. But then I hear The Old Man shout that the baby have got out. He can see a bird on the roof of the kitchen porch below the bathroom. We both heave a sigh of relief.....
Until I pick up a watering can in the yard and hear a nearby adult sparrow cheeping like billy-o and answering chirps from well above the kitchen porch.
I do look up. To my horror I do see a tiny yellow beak, flapping in time to the chirps... from behind the grille of our extractor fan outlet in the middle of our upstairs wall.

"Ecky Thump" I do swiftly paraphrase, appalled.

There is no way we can reach the extractor grille .... above that thin plastic roof of the porch .... and also some distance from our solid but complicated house roof. We be too old and dizzy for such acrobatics.
There is only one route left....
It will have to be an inside job.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Animated Discussions: "The Maker" by Zealous Creative

The Maker is an award-winning animated short by Los Angeles based production company Zealous Creative - who produce ads, corporate videos and short films.
Devised as a vehicle for a music score by Paul Halley and using the puppets of Amanda Louise Spayd the end result is a wonderful tale of the excitement...and pain behind being "A Maker".

You can watch an accompanying, fascinating, short that describes the long journey of  "making" of "The Maker" here.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Scandi-Noir - Camilla Ceder's "Babylon" & Karin Fossum's "I Can See In The Dark"

Two very different psychological crime books by Scandinavian women - Camilla Ceder (fairly new to the genre with Babylon being her second book) and Karin Fossum, an award-winning great of Nordic Noir.

Ceder is a young Gothenburg-based Swedish writer with a background in social work and Babylon (2013, UK Publisher: Pheonix) is her second novel, featuring Inspector Christian Tell and journalist Sejer Lundberg.
A young man and an older woman, his tutor, are found shot dead in an apartment. The young man's girlfriend, who has a history of violent jealousy, is a suspect in the murder. As it should be in crime fiction... things are not always what they seem.... and some of the events touch on the consequences of the sack of archaeological treasures in a war zone. Ceder has an acute sense of individual psychology and the story, anchored by the young journalist Sejer, twists about masterfully, building suspense in its final race to save lives. Its excellent translation by Marlaine Delargy, who has also translated Johan Theorin and Asa Larsson, ensures it reads well for an English audience.
You can read a full Euro Crime review  here.

I Can See In The Dark  (2014, UK Publisher: Vintage) is a short standalone book by Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum which gives us the chillingly dark portrait of its narrator, Riktor - a loner, a nurse in a local care home and a man whose careful manners and smile masks the urges and hallucinations of his world. A true sociopath, his manipulative actions escalate, reaching a dreadful conclusion. One day a police inspector walks up his path - and accuses him of a crime.... which he has not committed. Fossum has performed a feat of empathic writing with this story, full of unease and suspense but leaving me with an appreciation of the damage in Riktor and some pity for him. .... (But maybe I'm a bit crazy that way.) Not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it is a brilliant book. A full Euro Crime review is here.