owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
2016-04-21 10:58 am
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Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on

I went to my first immersive theatre performance on Friday, a combination of trusting the parameters of something based on The Tempest and supporting a friend. It turns out that immersive theatre, at least this instance of it, is everything I hoped for from LARPs but never quite found there. I loved it. I loved it enough that I went back again, and would go back still more, but the run is only on for two weeks, ending this Saturday, and I can't fit another trip in.

"Such Stuff As Dreams are Made On" is an exploration of the island of The Tempest from many angles all at once, with the original plot underlying it, to give it structure and pacing. Each audience member explores the world as they wish, lurking in the corner of rooms or chasing after specific actors, often with the added challenge of crowded corridors. There is no way to see everything happening, and that gives depth to the world. What were those distant cries? Where are those people rushing? Who is that character?

The set is lushly realized with a satisfying deep level of constructed reality. There is real sand and origami boats, the scent of herbs and the glow of colored glass. And there is the lushly complex soundtrack tying all of the spaces together.

My favorite moments were the intimate ones. Just three of us and an actor. Just me and an actor. All parts of the story braid cohering the island into an atmosphere, into placeness.

Sedos is a long-running amateur theatre company; the "amateur" is why the work they have put into this experience is so transitory. They all have day jobs.

It's too late to buy tickets - they're all sold out - but when I showed up at 6:15 yesterday to queue for returns (cash payment only, £16 full price), I was only the second one there and we all got in.
owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
2016-01-10 10:44 pm
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Nutcracker

We had tickets today to go see the Nutcracker, the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum.

Back in December, in preparation, we checked out a copy of Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker from the library, the story of a girl who joins Clara in experiencing much of the plot. We've been reading it (by Grouting's request) on a near-daily basis. This last week, I showed her videos of specific pieces from it, and then the whole of the first act. (Just as well so she could start processing the scariness of the mice.)

Today, we joined [livejournal.com profile] naxos and friends in going to one of the few under-5-friendly performances of it. It was, on the whole, very nicely done, with some truly spectacular dancing and good minor variants on the plot in the first act. The second act, alas, had even less plot than usual.

The audience was chockful of children, and Grouting commentated and questioned the whole way through, but all topically and in a quiet voice. All that preparation paid off. (And no one shushed her, unlike the fairly quiet but unfortunate-in-neighbors two-year-old in our group.)

In case any of you are going and care: SPOILERS FOLLOW.

1. The mouse king survives until the second act, which is great because he's funny and engaging and mischievous, and hitches a ride on a rope dangling from the hot air balloon. The best way to have gotten more plot from act 2 would have been to let him survive EVEN LONGER. But then Clara doesn't kill him or even really injure him; the Nutcracker does it single-handedly. So, Clara loses her best bit of agency.

2. The death is the introduction to the Drosselmeyer Show (aka dance of the National Stereotypes) which follows. He's come along with the hot air balloon for transport to the land of the Stage Show in act 2. Each dance is revealed by a stage within the stage, in echo of the puppet show of act 1. As a result, the Sugar Plum Fairy shows up exactly once in act 2, for her solo number. She's not the host of the land of sweets. And so she loses all her agency.

Dear English National Ballet: Why did you have to make all your plot changes at the expense of your erstwhile female protagonists?
owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
2013-01-03 11:46 pm
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Fire in the morning/Spelling arrgh

Yesterday, walking down Euston Road, I was surprised to see a man juggling fire, even though it was morning. I'm not sure why fire-juggling does not strike me as a morning activity. It seems a thing of afternoons or evenings.

*

C. has a question for you: how does one differentiate between pirate and zombie "arr"s?

I postulate that zombie ones have more "gh"s in them.
owlfish: (Canary Wharf)
2012-05-16 03:36 pm
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East London with cable cars



Sometime this summer, London will have a cable car system running across the river. This terminus runs from the Victoria Docks (about a five minute stroll from the Royal Victoria DLR station, more like a 15-20 minute stroll from ExCel) to the south side of the river.

The terminals will be the first stations on the TfL map which are commercially sponsored: this one will be "Emirates Royal Docks", connecting to the O2 on the Greenwich peninsula. There's no current promise that it'll be ready for the Olympics, only "this summer".

I was particularly impressed by the pylons over the Thames. Of course major ships must sail underneath the wires - but I hadn't *really* thought about the consequences of that in terms of their sheer height.
owlfish: (Default)
2012-04-01 09:47 pm
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Tim Eriksen at Tabernacle Folk

Way back when I was an undergraduate, [livejournal.com profile] maxineofarc introduced me to a band called Cordelia's Dad. I went to a number of their concerts over my years in Western Mass, not always with her. Their lead singer, musician, and composer was named Tim Eriksen, scholar of early American songs, sacred harp singer, and accomplished folk musician. In terms of accomplishments, he's only added more instruments to his repertoire over the intervening years.

This weekend, he played in Notting Hill as part of the Tabernacle Folk Festival. It was my first time at the venue, a friendly mix of café/restaurant, art gallery, dance studio, and performance space in a sensibly divided-up ex-church. As part of the festival, there were two concerts - we only attended the first, which was mostly Tim Eriksen, but with a sponsored older and young musician collaboration in the middle, and a first-time public collaboration between Eriksen and Eliza Carthy for the last section.

He began with "Farewell to Old Bedford", one of only two songs he performed which I knew from his Cordelia's Dad days. He continued through a largely late eighteenth-century set, with fiddle, bajo sexto, guitar, and banjo. The last song was banjo, an utterly extraordinary performance of virtuoso fingerpicking, which ended with playing off of the resonances between strings, frame, and his deep, rich voice, resonating the instrument beyond his last plucking from behind its soundboard. The bajo sexto was the only instrument he'd traveled with from the US: thanks to luggage restrictions, it was much easier to borrow on arrival.

The set with Eliza Carthy was a fun, somewhat haphazard one, with some prepared songs, and some improvised from common knowledge, including several sacred harp ones. My favorite was a song for which he knew an upbeat version, and she knew a downbeat one, but when her tune was transposed to major, they played nicely off of each other: an ultimately perky song about winter, death, and time to think of the poor.

I'm delighted we were able to go!
owlfish: (Default)
2012-03-19 12:12 pm
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Parade-sighting in London, and other news

After the closest thing to a good brunch I've ever had in London, at Nopi, with visiting friends known from Toronto, we walked down toward the Royal Academy to see the David Hockney show. From a distance, Piccadilly looked crowded with a protest, so we took the back streets; but when we made it down to the street, it wasn't that at all. It was a St. Patrick's Day parade.

We caught the tail end of it, and it was as wonderful as it could possibly be. Those last few floats included a shiny troupe of Bolivian(-Irish) dancers and a throng of lively Hare Krishnas, wishing us a happy St. Patrick's Day. There was even a Hare Krishna leprechaun. It was a wonderfully London moment.

A Hare Krishna Leprechaun... )

In other improbable news, the UK actually has a decent song it's entering for Eurovision this year.

[livejournal.com profile] geesepalace headed off early this morning, while the garden was still covered in frost. A little more grading, and it'll be properly spring break for me.
owlfish: (Feast)
2012-03-11 11:31 pm

Mall tourism/Cabana

We made our first trip to Westfield City Stratford yesterday, aka what will be the Olympics gift shop, in effect. Restaurant magazine has been covering interesting new concepts there since it opened, and it was a chance to try out a new movie complex.

The mall was very crowded but functional in the late afternoon on a Saturday, but information-gathering while waiting for a transit-delayed C meant I found how to navigate much of the mall from the much more tranquil exterior. The interior has a decent number of comfy seating clusters, especially at the end furthest away from the main entrances; although these are in places that look like they may yet be rented out to stalls and kiosks once the still-fairly-new-mall has filled in more of its space gaps. Waiting, I appreciated the cluster of coffee shops and quick food places right near the front.

Amusingly, there's a "2012 Viewing Platform". I think that would be a fantastic place - symbolically, not in practice - to spend next New Year's Eve, seeing in the wrong year. Really, it's a view out toward the Olympic Stadium for the 2012 Olympics.

Cabana is in one of the cluster of shops outside the main building of the mall (Chestnut Plaza). Two layered, busy, and people-intensive, it's a Brazilian barbecue place, food on skewers, plus sides and starters. It's casual sit-down dining, expeditious and decent. I had a lovely, refreshing coconut drink which was, as C put it, more than the sum of its parts. The starter packet of melting cheese was made interesting by smoked chili oil.

The parmesan-coated pork tenderloin was a taste highlight for me, as were the sweet potato fries - fluffy within, crunchy without. The grilled corn-on-the-cob was negligible, and the sticky short back ribs - C's highlight for their falling-apartness - were well-flavored, but my portion was too gristle-intensive to be much pleasure. Chili cumin lamb offered decent depth of flavor.

A major point in Cabana's favor is that everything we ate had sufficient flavor of its own that the provided house sauces added nothing we needed - spiciness which overwhelmed the flavor range already built-in. We had a very leisurely dinner in all of 45 minutes, in the quieter upstairs section which only has room for tables for two or four.
owlfish: (Default)
2012-02-19 11:26 pm
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Totem/Tales of Hoffmann

In the last week-or-so, I've seen two stage productions which involved a human in a full-body ape costume. With that strong - if entirely unexpected - commonality, I'm putting them both into one post.

Cirque du Soleil's Totem )

ENO's Tales of Hoffmann )
owlfish: (Default)
2012-02-19 10:06 pm

Picocon

I had an enjoyable Picocon yesterday, from arriving with flyers to an Indian meal whose most memorable phrase was from an anecdote I've now forgotten, but whose context you can imagine: "There was so little radiation that we could barely see it."

[livejournal.com profile] justinar began the day with a talk on the relationship between reality and story; the value of "trashy" literature; and the difficulty of being susceptible to echoing strong voices in the book she reads. She also introduced a theme ongoing through the day and, thank to reading Ellen Datlow's post related to the subject, my weekend, on how an established author (or editor) can no longer take it for granted that they will continue to receive contracts, from one to another.

Adrian Czajkowski/Tchaikovsky hasn't given up his day job, which is why he can afford to write his ongoing epic fantasy series. He gave us a potted synthesis of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, followed by a nicely-done exploration of the tropes which are current in epic fantasy. A fleeting comment of his on science fiction sparked a fleeting series of thoughts in my mind on a potential academic research project, which was satisfying.

[livejournal.com profile] triciasullivan proved she's just as good at talking without having written her talk out entirely advance as she is at writing talks (as she more cautiously did at a BL panel last year). (Which is to say, she's good at both!) She spoke on experimenting with form and content in her own writing, and in that of others. She likes consciously leaving space for her reader to determine just what happened in her novels, even when that may mean the results are not as sleekly edited as they might otherwise be. She then read us the enthralling beginning of an unfinished and currently-uncontracted novel she's working on. The audience could only hope it will some day be published so we can find out what happened next.

The panel was a challenge. Usually, Picocon's one panel involves the current GoHs, plus all the previous years' GoHs present in the audience. This year, they couldn't find enough chairs, so just had the current three as the panel, who were saddled with "Apocalypses" as the topic. Gamely, they did, in fact, discuss the subject, entirely on topic; but it wasn't the easiest thing to do, and I think Picocon's panel format, whose topic doesn't necessarily relate to what the guests know about, really does work better with the more anarchic, larger size of panel.

Afterwards, loitering at the bar, catching up with friends, and meeting some interesting new people. Good to have seen so many of you there!
owlfish: (Default)
2011-12-10 09:47 pm
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Saving Lives through Busking

Coming back from Oxford today, I changed at Oxford Circus. The connection goes past a busker.

As I approached, he was playing away on his guitar, bluesy rock, good, but nothing that particularly grabbed my attention. I wasn't quite as far along the corridor as the pitch when suddenly he stopped playing and walked purposefully along with the flow of the crowd ahead of me, calling out to someone, trying to get them to stop.

It was important enough to the busker that the person he was trying to track down was failing to be connected to until we were all around the corner and halfway down the stairs from where the guitar case, full of donated coins, had been left. The busker's side of the conversation was the only audible side, but he had in his hand an open wallet, full of cards. "It has your ID in it.", he said, taking a couple of tries to successfully hand back to the wallet to the slightly glassy-eyed man who must've tossed it into his case.

The busker asked several times if the guy was okay. The guy seemed vague but nodded. And then the busker said that once, someone else had thrown their wallet, with cards, into his case, and then had gone and thrown themselves under a train.

No wonder it meant so very much for him to track down the next person who'd done it! Buskers, or at least one of them: trying to save lives one wallet at a time.
owlfish: (Smiley Faces)
2011-12-09 11:20 pm
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Degas and Photography

I went to the Royal Academy this morning to see the Degas exhibit. I had only the fuzziest grasp of what it would comprise - dancers. And yes, it featured a lot of dancers, to the extent that, seeing it, you would never know that Degas had ever painted anything else ever at all.

Royal Academy shows usually have stilted narratives. That's not what they're good for. In this one, Degas appeared to have become a painter in his late 30s, painting exclusively dancers. He evokes them beautifully, carefully, intelligently, limbs and strength and motion deliminated in pastels and oils and charcoal.

But that's the framework for the show's central argument: the ongoing, changing relationship between Degas and the nineteenth-century development of photography and moving pictures, from stop-motion to the earliest films of the 1890s. "The Little Fourteenth-Year-Old Dancer" sculpture is shown as the culmination of numerous sketches in which the artist moved around his model in the same way that cameras moved around still subjects at the time. Muybridge's stop-motion photography influenced Degas and his exploration of movement. There are glorious sculptures - by people who are not Degas - of birds in flight, the moments of their motion melding together in the same way some stop-motion photography ends.

Fittingly, the show ends in the seconds of documentary recorded of Degas himself. He had turned down the documentary maker, not interested in being filmed for a piece on older artists. So the filmmaker laid in wait one day on the sidewalk, and captured him, for perhaps ten seconds, walking down the street, half-blind and unaware of the camera.
owlfish: (Shiny Astrolabe)
2011-10-11 10:55 pm
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Cute little pyramids and not enough dead people

I finally saw the medieval reliquaries show at the British Museum this weekend. It was the last weekend, but same-time tickets were still available. Even so, it was, as usual, crowded enough to require negotiation to see most given objects up close.

After reading other peoples' reactions to the shows, I was expecting lots of body parts. That's what reliquaries are for, right? Well, that and other remnants of holy things. There were plenty of bits of the true cross on display, a couple of thorns from the Crown of Thorns and... well, that was it, in terms of visible relics.

There were reliquaries galore, but the focus was very much on the vessels, the craftmanship, the forms as a focus of worship, and more generally belief in the intercession of saints. But with very, very few exceptions, every one of those reliquaries were ones which *used to* house sainted body parts. They didn't currently.

Those few exceptions were, on the whole, ones at the other extreme: large collections of lots of very tiny bits of saints, tidily parceled up and labeled, visually sanitized. If there were any other body bits in that show, the labels omitted them and they were not visible.

It's not as if I'm habitually obsessed with seeing bits of long-dead corpses, but it is a rather normal part of seeing reliquaries. That's what they were made for, in effect, although tidily wrapping and labeling the small bits is good form too. So their absence in this show really struck me. Either the choice of objects was delibrately designed to sanitize reliquaries for the general public; or those with visible bone bits were too sanctified to loan for the show; or it was a very strange accident that it just all happened to work out that way.


One of the highlights of the show was having a good look at Erhardum Reuwich's 1486 map which accompanies Bernhard von Breydenbach's Journey to the Holy Land. The focus of the caption and the map was Jerusalem, but I was fascinated by the edges. The map has east at the top (it's well-oriented), Syria/north on the left and Egypt/south on the right.

In Egypt, in addition to all those Christian churches and tombs on top of the burial or death places of Christian saints and martyrs, Breydenbach visited the pyramids, which were, as the map label helpfully tells us, built "over the tombs of the rulers of Egypt". I know they're all tombs, but I never mentally structured pilgrimage to the pyramids as par for the course with pilgrimages to the Holy Land. No reason they shouldn't be, as ancient Egypt is certainly implicated in the Old Testament. The walking route across the Red Sea is also marked on the map, for example.

The pyramids engraved by Reuwich are cute. He clearly just knew they were "pyramids" and made them all really tall, sharp, and pointy.
owlfish: (Feast)
2011-09-22 12:15 pm
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Lights, prawns, action



It's like a stage set, isn't it. The table is set, the lighting is arranged, helped by ample skylights above, the cast is gathering, some just visible in that mirror over on the left.

The twist was that it was a promotional event for a new line of seafood main courses from previously-wholesalers-only Lyons Seafoods, we were sent home with samples of all four of the feeds-two, fresh easy-to-cook dishes, and I live with someone who doesn't eat fish or seafood. Fortunately, it all worked out. My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wishus for enabling, and [livejournal.com profile] coth for providing me with mouths in need of feeding. In the end, I only needed to consume the entirety of *one* of the four dishes all by myself, over the course of two meals. And, to my relief, they were all pretty good.

I've done a full write-up of the event over at One Peppercorn.
owlfish: (Default)
2011-08-14 10:21 pm

When things go well/Hawksmoor Seven Dials/Much Ado about Nothing

Sometimes, it all works out better than plannable. Friday was one of those nights. As of Wednesday morning, I could not have told you I would be at the sold-out Much Ado about Nothing at the Wyndham, but someone else's inconvenience was my fortune. (It was very generous of you to have a conflict, [livejournal.com profile] ashfae!)

Dinner at Hawksmoor Seven Dials... )

After a little bit of suspense, we found L, who had the tickets. It required texting since it was a busy pub and we had not previously met her, and K, whom I do know, had gone to look for me when I was looking for her. L was a delight, and we had more time to get to know her and the rest of the group at another pub afterward. Anyways, the important thing is that it worked out just fine.

Much Ado about Nothing at the Wyndham sold out long since because it stars Catherine Tate and David Tennant as Beatrice and Benedict. It was a giddy romp of a production, adorable and delightful and ridiculous to the degree that the serious parts were often overshadowed. They often are in this play, but they particularly were in this version. The scene in which Hero tells Beatrice that Benedict loves her - I didn't hear a word of it because all attention was on the aerial hijinks of Beatrice. Poor Hero.

I wonder how many tunes there are out there for "Sigh no more, ladies". The Branagh movie had one. This version set in post-Falklands Gibralter had an '80s rendition (as, indeed, was the entire original soundtrack). These are surely not the only two. There were lots of '80s jokes/references/homages built into the visuals, from heavy Princess Di/Hero paralleling to an electronic keyboard to a Rubik's cube. I missed the Super Mario Brothers homage (a costume in the masked ball/dance), but there was one, apparently!

In any event, a really lovely evening.
owlfish: (Default)
2011-05-07 09:42 pm
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A few days and some books

I was handing my father books to browse. Two pages in to The Dervish House, he told me the introduction was surely based on one by the book he was telling me about earlier in the day, the one whose author he had forgotten. I just looked up the author of the book, The Echo-Maker. Richard Powers, whose book Generosity was a fellow Clarke nominee this spring along with The Dervish House.

In other book-related thoughts, I keep thinking that Soulless would make a really good graphic novel.

Thursday
I voted for the first time in the UK on a flimsy piece of paper. I hung out with a fifteenth century manuscript with gorgeously clear humanist writing. I went to the Real Food Festival at Earl's Court (only £5 on the opening half-day). It was not at all crowded, and I spent lots of time chatting to vendors and buying things. Lots of samples, and a feeling of being in a village, running into people I knew periodically. (More about the fair later, I hope. It's on until Sunday, and I went in part since I will be missing my favority annual food festival, Taste of London, this year.) Afterward, catching up, meeting new-to-me people, cricket and Novacon incentives at First Thursday.

Yesterday
Strikes in Venice meant my father's flight was rebooked, so that he would no longer arrive in time for the opera. We will see it tomorrow instead: rebooking was so quick, I could scarcely believe it had happened.

Today
A walk through the woods in warm, lightly drippy weather to visit the local bronze age fort and circumambulate it. Then we went down the Underground a mere few stops to a cook-out, a feast of endless, well-seasoned meats, potato skins, and a conveniently thin chocolate cake almost entirely consisting of ganache.
owlfish: (Default)
2011-05-04 12:35 am

Susan Hiller at the Tate Britain/Pollen Street Social

Some evenings work out fabulously. It was good enough that I knew I was going to see the Susan Hiller show this evening at the Tate. It was a private showing with the artist, the museum opened up just for our group, spacious and tranquil.

Encyclopedias, aliens, holy water... )

And then, after canapés and wine and conversation with the artist and with friends, I ended up at Perdido Pollen Street Social, the new Jason Atherton restaurant with a dessert bar. (The dessert bar, of course, being one of the major elements which caught my attention in advance descriptions.) We had tapas and cocktails at the bar. The char-grilled prawns were fiddly but very tasty; my fingers still smell nicely because of them. The lamb chops were, improbably, even more fiddly than the prawns; the sauce was good, a rich infusion of onions, jus, capers, something citrus, and something berry-y, but the prawns were better. Also, I should have asked for a real cutting knife. The rhubarb bellini was undermined by its hint of vanilla, which gave it echoes of candy rather than enhancing the complementary bitterness. Indeed, I could scarcely taste the rhubarb. Still, the space is pleasant, the staff are a delight, and I'm only being picky because it seemed fundamentally solid in the first place.
owlfish: (Default)
2011-04-08 03:53 pm
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Jan Gossaert exhibition

My mother is visiting, so we went to the National Gallery yesterday to see the Jan Gossaert show, a collection of early sixteenth century Low Countries paintings and prints, with a few sculptures thrown in. It is rich in images and slight in curatorial narrative which strings the pieces together. Labelwise, it was the Facebook of exhibitions, telling us who knew who and how they knew each other; the only thing it was missing was "Like" buttons.

Gossaert was from Hainault, which is not near Newbury Park.* He traveled to Rome with his patron, while both Raphael and Michaelangelo were there, but clearly, it is not known if he actually met them.

One of my favorite images from the show was of an exiled Danish princess, a young girl holding an armillary sphere in her hands. It not only had the sphere and a beautifully-realized person, but one of Gossaert's distinctively playful details: her head overlaps a painted-on frame, as if she were in front of her frame, and not within it. Another virutoso piece which sticks with me is his St. Luke painting the Madonna, wonderfully rich in its layers of visual references. Gossaert liked painting people with big curly hair (apparent in both of these paintings), a style which echoed the fiddliness of his drawings and prints; no comment from the labels as to why.

* London Underground reference
owlfish: (Default)
2011-02-24 04:04 pm
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Cast in Plaster

Plaster Cast Court at the V&A


After lunch with our mutual friend [livejournal.com profile] daisho, [livejournal.com profile] 4ll4n0 and I went off to the V&A, which he had not previously seen. I took him (after the Chihuly) to see my favorite part of the V&A, the plaster cast courts.

I love them so much because it's a kind of study and tourism which just isn't done anymore, not in quite that way. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, antiquaries traveled through Europe, making plaster casts directly from major works of sculpture and architecture and using those as molds to make plaster reproductions of the originals. Who needs the expense of a Grand Tour when one can go to the plaster cast courts and see the eastern façade of Chartres cathedral, Michaelangelo's David, eighth-century Scandinavian crosses, and the Trajan Column all in ten minutes?

After that we went through the Medieval and Renaissance galleries, eighteenth-century cabinetry, modern theater design, Japan (complete with an actual daisho), and a history of jewelry, before heading off to the BSFA, where the guest was so well-spoken and forthcoming, he practically interviewed himself.

On the tube, on the way home, I encountered the plaster cast courts again in the form of "this huge, ivory-white carved column of coherent light in the middle of the floor".
'What is that?'
'Trajan's column,' he said, without looking round. 'Scanned from the plaster cast in the V&A. Amazing, isn't it.'
(Gwyneth Jones, Bold as Love, 282)

Over at Torque Control, Niall is discussing Bold as Love this week. The first of the posts is here. No plaster casts. (Yet.)
owlfish: (Canary Wharf)
2010-12-20 11:01 pm
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Real Snow

I have been so pleased with the weather for the past few days. It has provided me with real amounts of snow, perhaps four inches, and it hasn't since warmed up so much so as to destroy the beauty and insulation of it. It's the best snow I've ever seen in England.

In the forest yesterday, I made a snow angel in the local bronze age camp under near-blue skies. The bare branches towering cathedral-like above were limned in snow. It picked out each branch and limb of every tree and bush with a precision and clarity which the motley camouflage browns and greens of it never approach on their own.

Today, at Kew Gardens, the whitened grounds were largely empty. I had the entire length of grand walks to myself, and, often enough, the warmth of the larger greenhouses as well. It was soothing to stand in the midst of the Temperate House, alone, small beside the vastness of the Chilean wine palm, while outside, it started to flake for a bit. In one capacious greenhouse room, I was disturbed only by a single large bird tramping up and down the ridge on the roof high above me. At the east end of the park, a carousel pumped out a chirpy, uptempo, music-only cover of The Beatles' "Yesterday". I couldn't find the Winter Garden, presumably because it was not designed to be snowed on.

Are children trained to talk to robins in this country? An alert boy noticed a British robin hopping about the floor of the house imported from Japan that we were all in. "Happy Christmas, Robin!" or "Happy New Year, Robin!" exclaimed the three or four children, each in turn.
owlfish: (Feast)
2010-11-26 09:14 pm
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How to find Americans

I walked over to my local butcher's yesterday morning to collect a rather large turkey. As the only customer in a small shop with three staff people, we fell into conversation about my turkey.

No, American Thanksgiving is not on the Friday, it's Thursday, always Thursday. Suddenly, everything fell into place for them. That was why they had already delivered three turkeys locally, in addition to the one I was collection. (I had no idea they delivered.) They pointed over to local streets and directions, indicating where those other three American customers live.

We moved to this town two-and-a-half years ago. I have never run into another American here, but figured they must be around somewhere. It's nice to know how to find them, for future reference. At least, the local meat-eating Americans.

***

It happens every year. I think I will make a token effort at American Thanksgiving, and then, a couple of days before, feel compulsed to do it properly. In this case, it really was only going to be [livejournal.com profile] larkvi and us up until I ordered the turkey. I wanted lots of leftovers, so they recommended a 6 kilo bird. They checked stock and didn't have one in stock, but I was willing to be talked into an 8 kilo one.

In the cold light of day evening, we realized just how big this bird was going to be, and hurriedly invited more people. It was my best turkey ever, all 8.6 kilos of it: it finished early, perfectly golden, and, for once, successfully achieved the internal temperature it was meant to. Shortly after that, [livejournal.com profile] lintilla72 called. The Underground line which runs out here was suffering severe delays. She had to cancel.

At this point, no one else had made it yet, and I was seized with a conviction that, poetically, the one-and-only time I managed to produce a perfect, enormous turkey, would be the one-and-only time that absolutely no one else would be able to come, not even C. They would be stranded in central London, foiled by transit, and I would be alone, all alone, just me and a giant bird.

Happy ending: everyone else was delayed, but not foiled. There was plenty of food, and good friends. About half of them were Americans, even the two who were visiting from Canada. I had very little chance to talk to them since they were here barely two hours (what with delays and all), but that's okay. The leftovers are not intimidating since they saved me from a surfeit of Certain Turkey.