Sep. 25th, 2016 09:27 pm
tealin: (Default)

I've been listening to shanties while drawing polar explorers and, well, things happen. Deb was Australian, see? So funny!

My conscience would like to point out that the album Northwest Passage came out six years after Silas died, so he would not be singing it in 1910, but since when did respect for chronology trump a good gag? Not ever.

Gosh it feels nice to draw something silly again ...
tealin: (CBC)
My mind always turns back to Canada around the beginning of October, so none of this should be surprising. Nearly every year I lived in LA, I made sure to go back to BC for Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October), so as soon as there's a chill in the wind and the leaves go whispery, I get that migratory tingle. Like a goose.

Canada has been on my mind a lot lately; whether this is brought on by that raft of CBC-listening I did a couple weeks ago, or if that was sparked by some subconscious rumbling, I don't know. I am feeling its pull, though, in a way I never expected to do here. Is it a case of finally getting comfortable and so opening up to uncertainty? Or simply 'the grass is always greener'...? Given that coastal BC is a temperate rainforest, the grass is greener there than in lots of places – but that's beside the point.

I absolutely adore Cambridge. I have never felt so at home anywhere. I tell anyone I talk to for more than ten minutes that I would marry Cambridge if I could. We've got a good thing going on, and I feel a little bit dirty even to consider the possibility of leaving, but ... I do. It would help if I had any confidence in the likelihood of my being allowed to stay – when the political atmosphere grows daily darker as far as immigration is concerned, one is not tempted to trust in the mercy of those who hold one's visa renewal in their hands, or be tempted to put down roots of any serious kind. It might also help if I had much experience with staying put – I don't think I've lived at one address for more than three years since college, and life has conditioned me to start wondering 'what next?' as soon as I start to settle in somewhere.

But I can't help wondering if there's more to it than that. I am acutely aware that I am a willing part of Canada's brain drain, and I don't like that. While it's perversely in-character for Canada to play The Giving Tree, it's a brilliant country and deserves to shine, and I'd like to contribute to that shine, if I could. I've been away as long as I lived there, now, but I still identify with its values and still operate under its cultural conditioning, for better or worse. Having been through rather a dark period in the last ten years, Canada has exploded back into being itself, harder than before, and this is exciting. The ramp-up to the sesquicentennial next year is only adding to that. It's a good time to be Canadian, and I'm all the way over here.

Now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children are off on a Canadian visit, and visiting BC at that. It'll be all over the British news for the next bit, and I'll be seeing the early-October face of BC which was the only face I saw for so many years. Cue those comfortingly familiar homesickness pangs.

Then I start wondering where I'd want to live if I moved back, do Google Street View virtual tours of places I hold in some haze of fantasy, and see that the streets are too wide and the houses too far apart and how does anyone live like this? There are no trains. Too many straight lines. It gets hot in the summer and it's a long long way from anywhere to anywhere.

I came here for a reason, and for the next couple years at least I need to focus on that, so that if I am sent back at the end of it, I will at least have made the most of my time. It is good, in some small way, to know there is a part of me that is ready to go home, so that if it does happen and I spend the rest of my days pining for Cambridge, I'll know where to pin the blame.

In the meantime, I really must find a copy of I Heard The Owl Call My Name ...

tealin: (introspect)
The 'vintage' Disney season continues at Picturehouse, now onto films which came out during my childhood. I missed Little Mermaid last week, which I have mixed feelings about – on one hand, I don't think I've seen it in the cinema since I was seven, but on the other, I have seen it on DVD and as such I am not overflowing with regret that I missed seeing it in enormous crystal-clear detail. It's a good film, entertainment-wise, but only just coming out of Disney's 1980s slump in technical and artistic standards.

Despite having seen it on the big screen fairly recently, however, I knew I had to make an effort to go see Beauty and the Beast this week. I cannot overstate the impact it made on my childhood – Hunchback made me want to become an animator (20th anniversary and still no sign of that being rereleased, alas), but purely on the receiving end, a peculiar, bookish, independent 5th Grader getting a Disney movie about a peculiar, bookish, independent young lady was a Big Thing. I probably would have ended up much the same without it, but to have that sort of affirmation at a formative time of life meant a lot. It's experiences like that that make me symathise with the push for representation of minorities in the media – if such a small thing meant so much to me, how much more would an analogous thing mean to someone far further from what's currently considered media-mainstream?

Having watched the video to the point of memorization, seeing this movie again was almost an opposite experience to Jungle Book. I could write about surprising details or things I know now about the production that colour my viewing, but the latter you can find in Dream On Silly Dreamer and the former via an attentive eye and a Blu-Ray player. I'm coming to the end of a short lunch break so I will keep it to this: As much as Beauty and the Beast was a trip down childhood's memory lane, it was also a re-acquaintance with people who were role models and then colleagues. People love to point out how characters are designed and animated to reflect the actors providing the voices, but when I watched this film I was seeing the animators. Anyone who's worked with Ruben Aquino would find him in Maurice, and there is an undeniable Nik Rainieri-ness in Lumiere; somehow Philippe is Russ Edmonds despite being a horse (Russ also animated Phoebus in Hunchback, you may note the similarity), and Glen Keane is all over the Beast if you know what to look for. Most bittersweet of the reacquaintances was James Baxter, though – he supervised Belle when he was quite young, but his scenes stand out by a mile, and it was so good to see his 'handwriting' again. He animates in CG for Dreamworks now and does a very good job of it, but CG smooths everyone out, so that joy of finding the really special sweet in the candy bowl is a thing of the past. It made me a bit wistful to experience it again, but at the same time, there are so many really excellent up-and-coming 2d animators that I hope it will be a future joy as well. It's become clear to me in teaching and animating here in Europe that the sky is the limit and there are dozens if not hundreds of keen and talented people out there raising the bar every day – it's a little personally dispiriting to see it pulled so quickly and so far out of my reach, but fantastically inspiring all the same, and I'd rather be inspired than smug any day.
tealin: (4addict)
Back to the BBC this week. There's an embarrassment of riches. I can never stay away long.

Mark Watson Talks a Bit About Life - Mark Watson's series are always a nice half hour of apparent anarchy and lighthearted distractions, which I suspect are actually rather tightly written.
The News Quiz - The weekly quiz of the week's news is back, and with it a modicum more balance in the universe. This week, Susan Calman talks about cake, or possibly the soul of the nation, it's hard to tell.
Newsjack - Even more topical comedy, this time in the form of sketches.
Listen Against - This used to be vaguely topical, but is still funny enough to rerun out of date. As near as possible to proof that Radio 4 is its own universe.
Look Back at the Nineties - Never topical; it was a show written in the early 1990s as a prognostoretrospective of the later 1990s.
Safety Catch - A sitcom about a reluctant arms dealer, featuring also a very enthusiastic arms dealer and someone who works for Oxfam. Hilarity ensues.
99p Challenge - It's nominally a panel game, but ... like a panel game in a loony bin. What you really need to know is, it's hosted by Sue Perkins. Perkins forever.
Heresy - People are funny about controversial things.

The Idiot - I don't usually like 19thC drawing room dramas, but Dostoevsky has the gift of being able to see through all the upper class nonsense that other writers take so seriously. I am always perplexed when people complain of things that reflect slightly less positive aspects of reality as being 'dark' – THIS is DARK. Here, have a magnificently prepared feast of perspective.
Ivan the Terrible: Absolute Power - More Russian drama, this time historical. I haven't listened to this yet, but Mike Walker's historical epics are usually worth listening to, Sasha Yetvushenko is a dependable director, and David Threlfall is my Iago, so I forecast quality.
We - Yet more Russian; in this case a dystopian speculation something like Brave New World, but from the early Soviet era.
A Tale of Two Cities - A production from a few years ago, but always worth a listen when it comes back around. Andrew Scott makes Charles Darnay actually sympathetic, and Lydia Wilson gives Lucie Manette an actual personality. The text is messed around a bit but the drama is so good I find I don't mind.
A Dream of Armageddon - H.G. Wells' vision of the future of war. A reading, not a drama, but certainly not a comedy ...

There's probably a lot more to be found on the listings, but it's been a brain-heavy week again so I am not the one to bring it to you.
tealin: (catharsis)
And life is but a dream for those whose eyes are always cast
On things around them with a ray turned ever back upon the past

Hmm, a bunch of whimsical minor key songs describing a life marked by tragedy, while paying joyous homage to its source material ... can't think what draws me to this show at all.
tealin: (introspect)
2000 - 2008: Too Disney
2008 - 2013: Not Disney enough
2014 - 2016: Too Disney

I've got too much I want to do to take a couple years out and relearn everything, but I kinda feel like that's what I have to do.
tealin: (CBC)
Since the middle of July, I've been starting lists of radio links and abandoning them until the shows expire. It's not that there hasn't been good stuff, I've just been doing work that occupies more languagey parts of my brain than usual, so I haven't been able to listen to as much radio, and therefore can't assemble a list of any length worth bothering with.

In recent weeks I've been falling back in love with the CBC, so I thought I'd share some of their most stand-out shows with you, which have the benefit of remaining online for quite a long time ...

A weeknightly documentary series that covers just about anything so long as it makes your brain fizz. You can browse available podcasts for yourself, but my particular recent favourites as are follows:
The Discovery of Human Rights - In this age of online activism it's easy to assume the idea that all people are entitled to a certain level of respect and legal status is as 'self-evident' as Jefferson stated it to be. But it is a fairly recent development in human culture, and its progress isn't finished yet.
Coyotl's Song - The Coyote has been a part of North American folklore from time immemorial, from a First Nations trickster to the cat-snatching bugbear of modern cities. This episode contains a quick lesson in How To Speak Basic Coyote.
Wise Guys - If you like your urban wildlife of a darker and more airborne variety, this is an excellent documentary on the intelligence, success, and appeal of crows.
The Dream of Brother XII - I came for the name Edward Wilson; I stayed for a fascinating look at utopian initiatives in British Columbia, a peculiar bit of history relating to an area I know quite well, and a broader look at millennial theosophy, which has a longer history than I expected.
The Shape of Things to Come - T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") was an Oxford-trained archaeologist who ended up leading an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. His background knowledge of history, experience on the ground with the people and cultures of the Middle East, and relationship with British high command gave him unique insight into the region and what was to follow, and is still following – though would anyone listen to him? Of course not.
Undoing Forever - A look at the prospect – and attempts – of bringing extinct species, from Woolly Mammoths to Passenger Pigeons, back to life.
Vestigial Tale - Evolutionary psychologists take a look at the human propensity for storytelling, from a scientific perspective. Episode 1, linked above, is about the act of constructing and conveying information in narrative form; Episode 2 is about fiction and the value of telling each other things that we know are untrue.
The Sorrows of Empire - The American Empire has been called everything from a "reluctant empire" to "a colossus with attention deficit disorder". The enormous cost of foreign wars and other interventions has led to imperial overstretch. This one's next on my plate and I'm really looking forward to it ...

Speaking of history and tantalising brain porn, check out this year's Massey Lectures: The Return of History – if you're lucky enough to be in any of the cities where they're recording, it looks like you can still buy tickets; the rest of us will have to wait – somehow – until the end of October.

Sort of like if you crossed a current affairs magazine with The Onion, but on the radio and with that certain Canadian leg-pulling tongue-in-cheekiness; its only fault is being sometimes a little too close to the truth. You can listen straight through the whole podcast list, but I'd particularly like to direct your attention to people-smuggling into Canada from the US. Ahh, satire.

Having lived in the US during two "normal" election years, I can only imagine what a nightmare it is for Americans to follow the news right now. Luckily for you, the CBC covers American news better than any US media outlet I know, and one of the best programmes for insight-to-time-investment ratio is the Saturday magazine show Day 6. There's not much point linking to past episodes as news doesn't keep, but if you're interested in their interviews and analysis you are welcome to browse the archive at your leisure. (There is also non-American news on that show, but I promise, it doesn't hurt.)

If you like this taster of CBC goodness, I recommend getting the CBC Radio App for your mobile device – it's available for most common platforms from whatever your OS App Store is. The splash page is a little bewildering if you're looking for something you already have in mind, but you can easily add your favourite shows to a sub-page which saves searching, and browse for new things to listen to.

A good and reliable friend has brought to my attention this week the soundtrack to a musical about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, devised by a bunch of Canucks and mainly performed north of the border (after all, what is more Canadian than Poe?), which is now available to purchase on iTunes and Amazon. I've been listening to it on repeat for two days and will likely resume doing so after this next thing I need to concentrate on. Attention to meter and rhyme, with a preponderance of minor-key waltzes, and I'm hooked.

Jungle Book

Sep. 4th, 2016 03:23 pm
tealin: (Default)
This afternoon, thanks to Picturehouse's current 'Vintage Sundays' series of animated film screenings, I got to see Disney's 1967 Jungle Book on the big screen for the first time.*

I remember watching it on video a fair bit as a kid, though I don't remember particularly liking it. There was something unsatisfying about it; in retrospect I think it may have been how it was just a loosely assembled collection of episodes strung along a 'must return Mowgli to the Man Village' throughline rather than anything that builds drama or character. I liked the tune of the girl's song at the end, but I didn't like her or her unsettling coquettishness (she's what, eight? even as a small child I knew that was wrong) and I didn't understand why Mowgli had to go live with the humans when anyone would be better off with animals. I also didn't understand why there was jazz in the jungle, or the Beatles, or why the animals had English accents and Mowgli sounded like Beaver Cleaver. And I thought the art style rather too anaemic for depicting a jungle. I think the last time I watched the film all the way through was in high school, but it stuck with me so little I'm not sure.

In the intervening years, I've learned a lot about animation, worked at Disney and learned about its history, and picked up the requisite historical pop-culture background knowledge, as well as some awareness of uncomfortable racial undertones, the British presence in India, and Kipling's motivation for writing the stories. On watching the film again, this did help – though I also wondered if perhaps I knew more about the latter two than the people who made it did.

I knew that coming in with this adult perspective was going to change the film for me; I also knew that seeing it in the cinema would make a big difference, though I didn't know what to expect from that. Here is how it went )

Luckily the emotional side, which had left me so cold as a child, has been saved by an external force: not to deliver any spoilers, but the finale of Cabin Pressure makes allusion to Jungle Book, and because the former handles character arcs and emotional lives so much better than the latter, all I had to do was graft in the feelings as instructed and voilà! Some semblance of depth. Pure pixie dust.

Next week is The Little Mermaid ... I actually know people who worked on that one, should be interesting in an entirely different way ...

*Perhaps not strictly true: I was born at the end of the era in which Disney periodically re-released classic films, and I know my parents took me to a few of those, though I don't particularly remember Jungle Book being one of them.
tealin: (Default)
So the embedded targeted advertising on Tumblr this month appears to be British Airways trying to sell me on the U.S. as a tourist destination.

Yooooouuuuuu keep tryin' there, BA.

The Owner

Aug. 28th, 2016 07:53 am
tealin: (Default)
The last of the people I needed to work out for the Mysterious Thing on my drawing desk is Captain Scott. I've drawn him quite a few times before, and been happy with the results, but it always makes an enormous difference to approach things methodically and get really comfortable with drawing someone, so it was worth it to sit down for a couple of days and hash out a proper procedure for him.

As with Cherry (and everyone, really), I will need to do more than this quick study before I sit down to do things For Real, but this is sufficient for moving ahead with the current thing and buys me a head start on further development.

It was also good to reacquaint myself with the phenomenon of Drawing While French – I drew half the heads above, and these poses, while listening to Radio-Canada podcasts in one of my intermittent attempts at immersion, and I'm pretty sure the latter two of these poses wouldn't have turned out nearly so stylish if I'd been listening to English. I don't know why this happens but it's pretty reliable, so maybe I need to commit to this immersion thing and see what it does to my drawing long-term ...

My collection of reference photos is fairly large, and I'm on first-name terms with most of them, but it's still surprising what you notice when you draw off something rather than merely study it. This is a frame from 90° South, in which Ponting had this group (coincidentally four of the five members of the Polar Party) recreate camping routine for the cinematograph – an absolutely invaluable reference source, though none of them would have thought so at the time. I knew it had Scott laughing, but I had never appreciated just how much he's cracking up until deconstructing his face.

"Scott was a subtle character, full of lights and shades," Cherry wrote, and in my collection of photos some aspect of this comes across physically – in some he's a dashing matinée idol (a former housemate, seeing this image on one of my books, asked why Russell Crowe was on the cover of a Scott biography), while in others he looks decidedly impish. He divided opinion, both amongst those who knew him and those who encountered him through his and others' writing later; the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that he was a complicated man. I started out just on the negative side of ambivalence towards him, but as I've got to know him over these last eight years, I have become very fond of him, despite (or because of?) all his faults. He's going to be a tricky character to portray, and to some extent I can't stop people seeing what they want to see, but I hope I can inspire some to give him the benefit of the doubt as I did, and see the man on his own terms rather than through the lens of hindsight.

One last thing: People make a big deal over observation and life experience, but rarely provide tangible examples of why it's important. Well, in deconstructing Scott's design, I noticed his ears were the same shape as these little tiny clam shells I used to collect by the handful when I lived in San Diego, which I can recall so clearly I could draw them as you see above. Somehow I'd never bothered to find out what they were called; now I know they are Donax variabilis. So a random factor of my childhood has influenced my understanding of a long-dead head, and the story of that long-dead head has led to a better understanding of a random factor in my childhood, and life is 0.001% more stitched up.
tealin: (Default)
For the third time now, I've sat down with my photo collection and tried to get to grips with Cherry. I hope doing it properly this time will mean it sticks. He's tricky in that his two dominant features are his proganthous nose and his glasses – it's easy to throw those down on a face that doesn't work right and say 'Ta-daa, it's Cherry!' when you're really just using them to hide your lack of knowledge. (This is precisely what I was doing whilst drawing something else, the awareness of which prompted me to do this study.) But as you see in my notes to myself, if he doesn't look right without his glasses, he's NOT RIGHT – so I've left them off in these drawings, so as to check them against the reference photos more clearly, and not allow myself to lean on them.

As he ended up being more or less at the centre of most aspects of the Expedition, he really needs to have a proper model pack done, but as usual my time is conflicted at present so I can't sit down to do it now. This is a down-payment on the sort of work that needs to happen, in the hope that dipping my toe in now will make it easier to dive in when time allows.
tealin: (actually)

I've gone through rather more of Cherry's notes than most sane mortals have done. It seems sometimes as though he was desperate for people to know the facts, and if they were not going to come to him as the obvious source for the facts and persist in willful ignorance, well, he was going to write them down anyway, in ink, in hardbound books, so someday when they realised they were not in possession of the facts he could remedy that situation from beyond the grave, as it were. I know this. And yet I still blunder ahead sometimes without asking him for his side of the story. Someday the lesson will stick.

It's dangerous to identify too much with someone you'll never know and who, chances are, probably wouldn't have liked you very much if you did. But as someone who started saying 'actually' with alarming frequency quite shortly after learning to talk, I feel like I really get Cherry in this regard ...
tealin: (think)
Is it just me, or is social media feeling increasingly pointless?

I mean, no offence to the friends I keep in touch with through various online channels – you guys are great and I would not want to swear off social media because that would mean losing you, and that would not be OK. But as far as the wider world of social media, that great big cloud-sourced stimulation machine and distraction engine ... it doesn't ping the 'reward' neurons like it used to. Is it that the people I follow for entertainment rather than personal purposes are getting wrapped up in their own lives and not posting as much? (This is true enough for me.) Or are they still posting and I just don't care enough to notice? I fell out of fandom post-Avengers, when I realised I could not summon the enthusiasm even to pretend to care about the Marvel Universe; since then everyone's gone off on things I am not remotely interested in even investigating. But my Tumblr feed has even run dry of posts about whatever the 2016 equivalent of Hannibal, Game of Thrones, or True Detective might be, so something is up. Someone I talked to recently said that everyone was leaving Tumblr for Instagram – I'm not chasing the fickle crowds onto another platform, especially not one that's even worse for conversation and serendipity than Tumblr is! It's not like I've ever seen a penny from all the hours I put into my 'online presence'. Why all this migration anyway?

Nevertheless I still keep getting stuck in my virtual rounds, even though it takes half the time it once did to catch up on it all, even though I finish a round and think 'what did I even see?' It's become so much a part of the rhythm of my day I almost do it without noticing. What would I do instead? What should I do instead? Cultivate a longer attention span and focus for longer periods on what I'm doing? (ha, ha!) That did serve me very well when I was in high school and we only had the one shared computer. But it's one thing not to have the distraction engine available, and another to have it an outstretched finger away but voluntarily refrain from using it, even if I'm only using it to confirm for the fifteenth time today that no, there's nothing online ...

On the other hand, this is exactly what happened with TV for me, over ten years ago now, so it's not unreasonable to hope I may be weaning myself off the Internet the same way. But the people I know who don't bother much with social media are the people who have an engaging social life in the real world, whereas my giving up social media would leave me in what is, more or less, a social vacuum. And I'm not the most gregarious person, but I've had enough isolation in my life; I don't want to go back to that.

So I leave you with this little puddle of thought, and excuse myself to go back to drawing dead guys. Maybe that tells you all you need to know.
tealin: (Default)
Friday is Birdie's birthday. I have this post queued up to go live on Tumblr on the day, but I couldn't wait that long to post it, so you loyal Real Blog followers get a sneak peek.

I make no apologies for the dreadful rhymes you will find in the following. I am immensely proud of every last one of them.

Happy 133rd birthday, Birdie!

And because I am that much of a nerd, full citations are below the cut (along with details of the illustrations).

Dive in ... )
tealin: (Default)
A rather cursory basket for you this week as I haven't had much opportunity to listen. As always you are welcome to browse the Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra schedules yourself and see what else you might like.

The Victorian in the Wall - A bit of domestic renovation introduces a struggling writer to a Victorian who'd been stuck in his wall, somehow. A cute and energetic production which expires in a few days so listen quick if you fancy ...
Roald Dahl: Served With a Twist - Grownup stories from the 20th century's master of children's fiction.
The Voice of God - Simon Bovey's acoustic weapon story set in the Australian Outback, featuring his usual Full House of compelling story, brisk pacing, strong female characters, and unusual perspectives.
Night of the Triffids - It's like someone read Day of the Triffids and thought, 'I like it, but it could be more Michael Bay ...' But it's a nice tight radio movie, which is sadly infrequent these days.

Dilemma - Sue Perkins puts her guests through the ethical wringer.
The Horne Section - With the news being a perpetual source of angst these days, why not listen to the children's show for grownups instead?
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - A pleasant reminder that there are four whole episodes available right now, and another airing Friday morning, so if The Horne Section still hasn't got the taste of news out of your mouth, have a go at this.
Talking and Not Talking - 30 minutes of barmy sketch comedy, with a pinkish picture of a woman!
Concrete Cow - 30 minutes of barmy sketch comedy, with a pinkish picture of a man!

A Gremlin in the Works - Gerald Scarfe tells of the Roald Dahl story that Walt Disney almost made into an animated feature film. Almost.
Out of Armenia - In these times of Migrant Crises, a look at what became of a nation fleeing genocide in 1915. This episode focuses on the Armenians in Paris.
The Invention of Childhood - A great series for anyone who thinks it was better in The Old Days. (It wasn't, they just had nicer production design.)
My Teenage Diary: Chris Packham - This episode made me at once joyful that there are still nature nuts out there, and despairing over how one might ever meet any.

The Last Prairie Home Companion - Garrison Keillor's variety show was my first radio love. I remember my parents listening to it when I was small; when I got older I inflicted it on them until I got a radio Walkman and a stereo in my room on which I recorded episodes compulsively. Before Martin and Douglas and Arthur In Black-And-White Times, it was Dusty and Lefty and Guy Noir who kept me company while I drew or tidied or whatever. I suppose I 'grew out of it' well before finding Radio 4, but it continued to send ripples through my life, whether through musical exposure, or an early taste of radio comedy, or even just painting a picture of an America that could be, in direct opposition to the America on the news and in my face. It was bittersweet to listen to the last ever episode from my room in Cambridge: So much of my life has been getting as far as possible from the life from which Prairie Home Companion was such a gratifying escape; listening to those familiar voices was both comforting and upsetting as they dredged up old feelings that were better left behind. But it's a good send-off, and if the show has ever meant anything to you, worth a listen, if only to hear how much it's meant to other people as well.
tealin: (Default)
A Point of View: Belongings

In these strange times, we're communally facing realities many of us have already faced. ... In short, many of us have suffered losses. From luxuries, to little treats, to furniture, to homes, to health, hopes, potential. The belongings that let them be in their worlds. And these weren't all bad people; they didn't all deserve what they got; they weren't in a Hollywood movie or a fantasy press release, they weren't just puppets created by this or that propagandist, they were people. Public discourse in the UK has marinated us in the myth that good people are rewarded and that the unrewarded can't be good. That bad people are punished and so the punished must always be bad. There is no mercy about that. One way or another, it condemns us all. In a reality of poor doors, spiralling repayments and free-range pain, it seems to me that mercy might be something we would seek to cultivate.

We're human: we look for patterns in the firelight, stock prices, weather, anything and everything. Sometimes there is no pattern, we're mistaken; sometimes we don't have enough information; sometimes we're misled. Demagogues can offer us rousing lies. Self-aggrandizing hates then light the touch-paper and retire. A percentage of us will cling to violent illusions of certainty if they're offered, confuse cruelty with strength. But if we're looking for justice, we might begin by being just, because life isn't, so we have to help it. Promises offered and never fulfilled, and in odd times, transitional times, our frailty can seem at its most stark. There are no Hollywood endings. Even if we're very lucky and we get the perfect sunset, or the first kiss, we have to go on, take the long road to what can be a terribly bitter end. So if reality won't be kind, then surely we must.

Many of these ideas have been chasing each other around my mind for the last months and years, but AL Kennedy puts them so much more clearly and concisely. The whole audio article is worth listening to, but this bit stood out especially.

Tom Crean

Jul. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm
tealin: (Default)
Well, it's been a hard slog all week, but I think I've finally got Crean on paper. It's not a final design – I have to push it graphically some more, as I won't have the luxury to draw his head 5 inches high every time and need to make him recognizable at a small scale, but I need to let that step steep before I take it.

These are the first sketches in which I felt like I'd captured him, but of course it's one thing to hit the mark once or twice and another to be able to hit it every time, so I had to put him through his paces:

Many many more below the cut ... )

And of course, had to give him a dog ...

tealin: (Default)

I'm trying to draw Tom Crean.

So far he's come out looking like:
  • Mel Gibson
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • The life drawing teacher at Disney
  • Keith Wilson
  • My former housemate's brother
  • Superman
  • George W. Bush
To be fair, he does seem to look different in pretty much every photo, and I have never tried drawing him before, but even so ... ??  I'm kind of aiming for somewhere between Colin Farrell (eyebrows) and Mark Rylance (crinkly face) plus many hours of hard work in the fresh air, but none of those come even close...

There's a 1916 edition of The Now Show on tonight at 11pm BST so I'll keep working till then, and just hope something (anything) percolates overnight.

tealin: (Default)
I haven't been able to listen to much radio at all lately, but there's been a glut of stuff I have listened to in the past which I know is good, and stuff I suspect would be rather good if I had the opportunity to listen to it now. So I proffer it to you, and you can tell me if I was right.

My Teenage Diary - A series in which public figures read the thoughts of their teenage selves to the public. Sometimes cringeworthy, but frequently touching and insightful, and always deeply human.
All the Planet's Wonders - comedian Josie Long and her genuine heartfelt passion for learning things
The New Young Fogeys - As someone who has self-identified as Old Fogey from about the age of 8, I relish the affirmation (and want to know where the rest of them are).
Love From Boy - These excerpts from Roald Dahl's life of letters to his mother are all interesting, but this episode specifically describes his experience working with Disney. In all the worship of 'the old guys' I never heard of 'Walt's #1 Artist' Jimmy Bodrero though ...?
The Life Scientific - In which various scientists are interviewed about their life and work; in this case Sheila Rowan and gravitational waves.
In Our Time: Bronze Age Collapse - Apparently around the end of the Bronze Age a number of established cultures (e.g. the Hittites) collapsed and disappeared. The first I heard of this was at 9 this morning; now I share it with you.
Shakespeare's Restless World - A series exploring the times in which Shakespeare lived, through a collection of contemporary items.

Brave New World - I thought being a skeptical outsider in a hypersexual consumerist culture helped me 'get' this book when I read it in high school, but thanks to this excellent adaptation I 'get it' even more now. Episode 1 expires on Sunday, so listen now.
Day of the Triffids - It gets a bad rap for being your quintessential 1950s sci-fi B-movie – man-eating plants, oh no! – but the actual book (of which this is a reading, not a dramatisation) is actually a cunning observation of human society dressed up as a sci-fi B-movie. 28 Days Later basically replaced Triffids with zombies. Highly recommended.
The Spy - James Fenimore Cooper, best known for Last of the Mohicans, tells a somewhat more nuanced tale of the American Revolution than one usually encounters ...
The Lives of Harry Lime - I don't remember much about this Orson Welles radio series about a con man taking on different personas for various missions, but I remember liking it, so here you go.

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - I just assume that by telling you the title of the show you will listen to it. There is a reason for this. You may have to listen to find out.
Concrete Cow - Those of you who've followed my radio tastes for any length of time will know I have a soft spot for barmy sketch comedy; this is one of those, with the distinction of starring Robert Webb.
Crème de la Crime - Spoof "true crime" documentary comedy series
Armando Iannucci - Before he was producing television programmes that are both surreal and strangely prescient, Mr Iannucci was a DJ on Radio 1. Yeah.
2000 Years of Radio - Radio Victoriana! Three cheers for the Empire, I say, what!
Bleak Expectations - Speaking of Victorian radio: This spoof Dickensian sitcom(?) may be on Series 5, but by this point it's got so weird you really won't need to know what's gone before.
Old Harry's Game - A Health and Safety engineer gets sent to Hell and seems not to be able to leave his job behind.
Think the Unthinkable - This time the comedy consultancy agency takes on the world of Finance.
Knocker - This 15-minute comedy series about a door-to-door canvasser has been described as "a chillingly accurate documentary" by a friend in the trade.


Jun. 17th, 2016 09:11 am
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A few weeks ago I uninstalled Firefox in an unusual fit of pique. It had been maddeningly slow to put together Tumblr posts at a time when I was lining up quite a few, and there were other minor grievances that, accumulating, and with the Tumblr problem as the final straw, prompted the rash removal of the browser from my computer.

It was only a few days later I realised that, with it, had gone years' worth of bookmarks, not only of convenience but of strange little back corners and obscure reference materials that I had bookmarked because I feared never finding them again. But I'd settled into Chrome for the time being (which opened up a bewildering new dimension of advertising, wow) and resigned myself to having to reassemble my bookmarks at some point in the future and learning a salutary lesson about backing up one's system.

This morning something ticked over and I decided it was time to get back on speaking terms with Firefox, so I reinstalled it, and when it opened – there were all my bookmarks! All my settings were preserved! My immediate thought was that I ought to be creeped out that this stuff was still on my computer somewhere despite doing a system uninstall – how would I find it and delete it for real if that is what I wanted to do? – but I couldn't manage to care about that no matter how much I felt I ought to. It was too nice to take the old girl for a spin. If the NSA wants to know about modern printmakers or the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica definition of "forlorn hope" they are welcome to it – maybe it'll make them better people.


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