I think I’m alone now…well, not really. There are other people in today, crimping my style. I’ve been working by myself all over the break, because I always get volunteered for that, but it wasn’t too bad. I had snacks. I had air conditioning (mostly). I managed to get through everything on The List without interruption (and, better yet, I had a few days of resting on my laurels before the nitpickers returned).
So, yes, making me work all by myself over the break – not really a punishment. It was nice. And quiet. So quiet. In fact, I went the full Twilight Zone and broke my best glasses (the ones that work for reading and screen, which no one else can do). So I had to get new glasses (which don’t work for reading or screen and I hate them). So there was the whole Ha! Ha! I shall read and watch…nothing because I broke my glasses.
Doesn’t matter. Haven’t written a word of this thing in my head (even if today I just measured that the distance twixt point A and Point B is the exact maximum distance of a longbow arrow, not that it matters because it just doesn’t, but I was amused to get the exact same numbers via Google because I’m bored). Sigh. It’d be fun to use all my on the ground (and under the ground) research, just once. But, alas, I was put here to serve at the pleasure of others (never any time for myself, and what I try to steal is broken in front of me, as if I was a bad child).
Well, I have read, or tried to read some things (squinting at them with one eye screwed up). It seemed very hammer the nails in deep to ask for catalogues from all the classic, most amazing exhibitions to ever exhibit all at the same time in London in the history of history that I had to miss (illness, storm damage, jury duty, Scrooge), but it turned out to be much more gentle than I thought, emotionally (because I really wanted to go), and by reading the catalogues, at least I get some of the knowledge, if none of the visceral thrill of standing next to the object (also, the quality of images in the books is rubbish – do better or hire the Instagram photographer).
I’ve finished I Object, the British Museum exhibition on dissent, curated by Ian Hislop, and now I’m onto the Ashmolean’s Spellbound, which is a cracking read. So much glorious weirdness (I would have loved to see the witch in a bottle).
Next up, the British Library’s history making Anglo-Saxon exhibition, which has, if all the ancillary readings (reviews and blogs) are anything to go by, caused the so-called dark ages to be entirely reconsidered for its sophistication and connections with the wider world (like monks in northern England using inks from Afghanistan). Would have loved to have seen that (whimper).
At least reading the books (or trying too, sans glasses I can actually read with) made my punishment/exile/stranding slightly less of a chore. At least I had some quiet and I had my books (now you know why breaking my only working pair of glasses was such a cherry on top fuckery from the universe).
Not that the universe was quite finished garnishing my miserable time: wasn’t allowed to work remotely via network so I had to do the 80km round trip on a cut-down timetable and a dislocated ankle – finally popped back in but still not happy. And I had one of the worst periods ever. Thank goodness unmentionables are no longer taxed as luxuries because I was going through them like they were Pringles (not to mention having to peel off my clothes when I got home, so soaked in my own blood was I). And, as a final gesture, during one of the worst heatwaves ever, someone left a rotting bag of prawn heads at the bus stop. Ta fucking da.
Yes, I am feeling a touch more sinned against than sinning. I did see Lear, did I mention that last post? With the ever wonderful Sir Ian McKellen. Nothing else because of storms/work. Sigh.
So, watching stuff? Not much, except sitting, or rather sweating through Man With The Golden Gun and Trek ‘09 because they were on telly, it was too hot to sleep and I knew them off by heart (so it didn’t matter that it was all blurry). I have watched a couple of things by squinting at my phone, mainly catching up on all the TV I’ve missed because I work 20-hour (underpaid) days (still not caught up, but man, I tried).
Doctor Who. Well, it took me about three seconds before Jodie was The Doctor and that was that. I’ve been enjoying Whovians, and I’m glad we’re on the same page about it all being about Graham. If you want an arc, it’s his emotional journey, rather than a big bad, and I, for one, am totally fine with that (ditto Ryan and Yaz but we’re all there for Graham).
I loved the historicals, real, proper historicals. I loved that the worst villain was usually the evil in men’s hearts (that’s proper classic Who, that) and I loved Chekhov’s microwave (that’s a plot device, not a celebrity cameo, though Elvis’s mobile phone was another macguffin). The Punjab one actually made me cry and King Alan Cumming needs to come back for some future Xmas panto episode. Special mention for Rosa and the giant spiders one.
Finally catching up on the last (last) two seasons of Daredevil, because Matt Murdock, self-pitying king of pain, is where I’m at. Ditto Supernatural and Dean Winchester. (One day we’ll all get that beach holiday we deserve, but for now there’s duty, sacrifice and the forces of evil to fight).
Did catch up on Outlaw King, in case you’re wondering where all the Pine squee has gone. I’m not sure whether to be relieved or appalled that my noble ancestors/clansmen/kin were stripped of their historical roles and reduced to waving shields and swords in the background. Let’s just say my clan still holds grudges that date before the Bruce, so I’m not likely to ‘get over it’ any time soon, ye ken?
And that’s without me rolling my eyes at a Yank actor trying to ride a horse, wield a sword or master an accent with any degree of affinity. Makes me respect Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas in The Vikings so much more. Yeah, Gem went on a Tony Curtis kick, and I was totally there for that (Some Like It Hot and Son of Ali Baba also got a run, including my old favourite ‘rip his shirt off as a form of first aid’, so beloved of film and tv directors of yore).
Speaking of my clansmen taken in vain, Outlander I do forgive. My, but the tv series spins gold out of straw, every single episode (so much better than the books). I am loving series 4 so very much. It, too, has made me cry, either from a character’s emotional truth, or just seeing some favourite scenery in the background. And wee Sam isn’t bad scenery, either. Never really took to him before, but he’s surely working the magic now. Ahem.
Somehow, I’m actually getting, or finding, tv where the characters (and their journey) matter, and it’s not all about defusing six bombs and defeating two alien incursions before teatime. Maybe with streaming I’m just getting better access to better shows. Mind you, I did wallow in repeats of Stargate: Atlantis, just because I’d not really seen those episodes before (I gave up) and Dr McKay is my spirit animal, always whining about impossible deadlines.
Also been catching up on the back catalogue of the actor du jour, who has been making me laugh and cry, often in the same film (so you know he isn’t American). He also likes to slide into genres I like, so if he could show up as a late Victorian detective sometime soonish, I’d be ever so grateful (preferably not a cartoon one).
Did I mention how much I enjoyed the Alienist? I’m surprised Netflix only gave it a 98% match, because, seriously. The ticking of many boxes ensued, including Luke Evans managing to be entirely seedy and genuinely heart broken – at the same time (take that, American actors, and he can sing and dance, so there).
Sorry, am I still seething about American actors making a complete hash of British roles? Speak to me never of The Eagle.
At least I finally, finally have a John Constantine I can love and adore, thanks to Matt Ryan (another Welshman, tis the season, it seems) and the entirely loopy but my damn favourite show and I don’t care what you think Legends of Tomorrow. I need that show like oxygen. It is crazy stupid but it cares about its odd little family and who’d have thought John (of all people) would be the centre of a time paradox rending love story that that hit Groundhog Day, Charlies Angels, the A Team and Fraggle Rock along the way. Total lunacy but I love it, and the characters all have heart, bless. I love them, and I haven’t even mentioned Beebo yet. Ok, I won’t, but damn, somehow they make it work.
By the way, I should point out that I’m entirely not of that school of thought that thinks only Actors who are X should play X. So very far from it. I’m only being harsh on American actors because I’ve sat through some truly dire sub-Brando stuff lately (see Richard Harris on Brando here).
American actors simply do not exhibit the depth of training and experience (working in all fields, all locations, across genres and cultural exposure) that other actors have, including the fact that most kids can do an American accent before they start school, but Americans never see (or want to see, it seems) other cultures. It just seems unfair that such a culturally closed society is calling all the shots.
Most non-American actors are all-rounders (and are astonished when Americans are astonished that they can do fight scenes and sing like an angel, as well as speak with a different accent) and modest with it, precious few divas amongst them (even Nicole hit the KFC at Chatswood). Just look at Matthew Rhys (another Welshman!). He can do The Wine Show and The Americans and he’s a druid. No, really, he is.
I’ll make an exemption for Michael Shannon, who was just exceptional in Little Drummer Girl. Anyone who can make me take my eyes of Alexander Skarsgård (doing his very best wounded soldier) is a force to be reckoned with, and I hold Florence Pugh in that regard as well (would have liked to have seen more Flo in Outlaw King).
So yes, that was my Le Carre fix for the moment (been viewing a lot of spies lately). I loved the whole late-70s aesthetics of it, all the concrete brutalism, the plastic furnishings and the clothes, good grief. It oftentimes made me think they’d used old episodes of The Professionals as reference points (and sometimes, catching up on my Le Carre, I’ll read something so CI5 it’ll make me go hmmm).
Right now I’m slowly chewing my way through a new Rebus book while I’m on the bus (because right now I can get on the bus and get a seat, things that normally never happen). I’ve also been working my way through the Cormoran Strike books, and really enjoying them (the first and last best, though). Had a huge thing with Hornblower and the Aubrey/Maturin books, picked up some Greene (reading Our Man in Havana and the Tailor of Panama as a pair was a bit of a mistake though), revisited some Sutcliffe, Christie, Adams, Stevenson and Peters.
Haven’t been anywhere interesting, but I did the Sculpture By The Sea coastal walk before work one day, and that’s always fun (one of these days I will not be recovering from a broken ankle/being hit by a car/pneumonia). Did the Sydney Open day where buildings are open to the public, highlight this time was the supreme court, with the Francis Greenway designed spiral helix staircase that was jaw dropping in its beauty. We finished up at the MLC Centre and had dinner at the very 70s Summit (now the O Bar) for $$$, but it was a big birthday and the food, view and service were all worth it (almost, because, yikes $$$).
Also made it out to the cherry blossom festival, which inspired the purchase of a cherry tree. The small orchard is coming along, and the orangerie (well, citrusy as we’ve got oranges, lemons, limes and cumquats going on there) coughed up enough for three jars of marmalade (and I’ve finally learnt how to make marmalade). Ok, world’s smallest oranges, but the lime made it my best batch yet.
Meanwhile the parrots keep coming around. I’m on parrot twitter now so I know where they go when they’re not mooching off my balcony. And, to much avian consternation, I seem to be a destination for two cats. Sooty is a blackish little sociopath. Blue is, well, an idiot. Part Persian and part Siamese and none of the good parts. He sees Sooty slinking and mooching for treats so he just rams the back of my legs like a drunk footballer, looks up with his ugly Victorian baby doll face and makes that horrible yowl. It’s completely ghastly and I fall for it every time because I feel sorry for those of us who are life’s rejects.
Sooty has seen the parrots rattle the door for treats so he’ll tap at it, too. Blue tried it and got his paw stuck, so I spent Xmas freeing the cat from the door. The poor idiot animal. He is exactly like the dumb sidekick in every cartoon I’d ever watched as a child, and then some.
Not forgetting Macbeth, my possum and roomie (I reduced someone to tears describing me trying to primly read my book while wild and angry possum sex is bringing down the plaster from the crawl space in the wall beside me). I remember happy snuffle grunts when I’d put out overripe blackberries before, so I bought the creature a box for Xmas, just because. But did the possum like blackberries as much as I imagined it did? I’d barely opened the packet a crack when the world’s fattest possum (mine, natch) leaps down out of the tree in a flurry of leaves and squeaking. Yep, that possum has a thing for blackberries (and mangoes, and peaches, and kale, and strawberries…).