tealin: (stress)
Well, all good things must come to an end ...

The image hosting site I've been using for this blog since 2004 has suddenly gone full rapacious jerk, and decided to charge over ten times its original pro fee for the privilege of embedding one's images in third-party sites, i.e. what I do here. As I'm grandfathered in from my last payment, I have slightly under a year to figure out what to do with the thousands of images I've accrued over the years, update img tags, etc., but frankly right now I'm looking at it all and going 'uuuuuuuuurrrghhhhh'. Such an awful lot going on this year, and now this on top of it, and for what?

Since 2013 or so, I've mainly been embedding images from Tumblr, which is also dying but might have a few years left at least; I ought to get another image hoster but I haven't found any I like as much as Photobucket, so if you have a suggestion that's not Picasa/Google I'd love to hear it.
tealin: (4addict)
FICTION
The Door in the Wall - I link to this every time it comes around, in the hope it'll infect someone else's mind as it has mine ...
Listening to the Dead - A series of dramas about a family with the ability to communicate with their own, either side of the veil. Disclosure: I haven't heard them in years, just remember them being good, in that stays-with-you kind of way.

FACT
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight - Readings from a book written by a Japanese teenager with severe autism; really compelling listening and highly recommended.
Tocqueville's America Revisited - In the 1830s, a French aristocrat visited the fledgling democracy, and wrote his observations on American society and politics into a famous book. This two-parter looks at how the country has, and hasn't, changed since then. [Episode 2]
All In The Family - A really excellent series on early childhood trauma and its ramifications in terms of psychology and physical health. It sounds dry but is terribly fascinating and revelatory; I highly recommend a listen. And episode two and three.
The Reith Lectures: Hilary Mantel - The author of Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety talks about historical fiction, resurrecting the dead, and other things aimed squarely at me – but you'll probably find it interesting too.

FUN
John Finnemore's Double Acts - The series of gently comic dramas for two players wraps up, to the writer's typically high standard. Still four episodes available, three of which are particular favourites of mine.
The Vinyl Cafe - This episode isn't particularly notable, but I was surprised to see this Canadian stalwart on the BBC. Stuart MacLean has passed on, now, but his Canadian version of A Prairie Home Companion hasn't lost its down-home charm.
The Consultants - I link to this sketch show every time it comes around, but it's good clean feel-good fun, so, you know, if you like that sort of thing ...
Dead Ringers - This satirical impressions sketch show used to be what ran during "silly season", but of course that doesn't exist anymore. I know everyone's got a Trump impression, but Dead Ringers' series of Trump's midnight calls to Sean Spicer are pretty special.
I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - The very, very silly panel game is back, and episodes 3 and 4 play host to John Finnemore and Susan Calman, which would be too much of a good thing if it were possible to get too much of those two.
Le Carré On Spying - The Penny Dreadfuls have gone into the business of comedic historical dramas with surprising moments of feeling; this one is about the writer of the George Smiley spy stories, the most famous being probably Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Portentous Perils - A comedy sci-fi satire podcast written and read by a regular writer for Radio 4's topical comedy shows – good fun, and ever-improving sound quality! The only downside is there's only one episode a month. But it's worth the wait. (And puns!)

FAHRENHEIT 451
To my perception there are three great mid-century dystopias: 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451, and the latter, I think, has proven to be the most prescient and still the most challenging. Radio 4 has just broadcast a reading of it:
Book at Bedtime - Broken up and slightly abridged into 10 15-minute readings
Omnibus - The 15-minute readings collected into two hour-and-a-bit episodes
If I had all the time I could ask for, I'd have done a bunch of drawings to encourage you to listen to this, but all I have is my words. It's a very important book, but is also cinematic and very pacey, so I don't think you will regret listening to it: please do.
tealin: (think)
I have pretty much always drawn while listening to the radio. From my first Harry Potter drawings, done behind the counter of a rarely-visited gift shop with mandatory country music playing, through a few years of film and musical soundtracks and half the Vancouver Public Library's collection of audiobooks, to the discovery of Radio 4 and all that. I need a chew toy to distract the verbal half of my brain and let the bit doing the spatial/fine motor work get on with it.

Once before I've had to make do without much to listen to: In 2007, long after I'd got used to having a computer at my desk with all its streaming and/or distracting opportunities, I interned at James Baxter's studio, the upper floor of an old warehouse and last preserve of analogue animation desks in LA. The other interns had laptops, but I only had my tiny iPod Nano, and after a week or two I'd memorised pretty much everything on it. But an odd thing happened when I ran out of external stimulation, and my Left Brain's clamour for distraction was perforce denied long enough: it shut up and went away to do its own thing, and good lord did I ever get a lot done.

I've been in the same position the last couple of days. I'm in Bristol doing a few days on-site at the studio for which I've been freelancing, doing rotations, the sort of work on which I most "need" something to listen to, and during which I get most of my radio listening done. I do have my laptop with me, just in case, but have not turned it on yet, nevermind accessed the WiFi. And my brain is doing the same thing. It's a little bit miraculous: I thought I was another casualty of our hyper-distracted age, yet here I am, doing relatively tedious work in a silent room, perfectly content.

It's made me resolve to turn off as much as I can when I get back home. I can't imagine going fully without the radio, as it does help to keep me on task when the infinite distractions of working from home (snacks, chores, errands, etc) come knocking, but I need to budget other distractions much more strictly. They aren't doing me much good, anyway – certainly less than what I'd gain with improved concentration and productivity.

Funny how these lessons keep coming back around every few years until you learn them ...
tealin: (terranova)
To my surprise, this blog missed out on the Silas love on Canada Day ... so here's making up lost time. Longtime followers may remember him as the snarky bespectacled guy in a nightcap, who I drew a lot when Worst Journey was my escapism at Disney; now that I'm doing all this For Real I needed to sit down and work out a proper design for him.


Charles Seymour 'Silas' Wright was the physicist and glaciologist on the Terra Nova Expedition – and Canadian! As such, naturally, he was constantly being ribbed for being 'American'; even his nickname 'Silas' comes from a joke of Birdie's:

Silas struck me one day on the ship as a typical Yankee name and in a happy moment I called him Mr Silas P. Wright of the Philadelphia Educational Seminary. Since then he has never been called anything but Cousin Silas or Silas.

(from a letter home, quoted in Silas: The Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles S. Wright p. 28)


More drawings and anecdotes below... )

There are so many more anecdotes – like about how Silas was notorious for his prolific and varied swearing, and how he almost invented the Geiger counter, and the time they were sledging across new ice that was still so rubbery the sledge made a bow-wake, and getting carbon monoxide poisoning the second winter, and how he was almost the one to go to One Ton instead of Cherry, and – and – and –

But I've gone on quite long enough already, so those will have to wait for another day.
tealin: (Default)
I still haven't finished that essay series, but it didn't stop my heart singing when listening to the Q&A at the end of Hilary Mantel's last Reith Lecture:
SUE LAWLEY: Now on the front row here, we have Peter Kosminsky, who directed the television adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Famously Peter, and somewhat controversially, you lit them – because we were talking about lighting – by candlelight. I mean, did you two agree that? Was that collusion or did he rush off and – or did you approve, Hilary?

HILARY MANTEL: When Peter and I first met, what I said to him is, “When I imagine this book ..." I didn’t really have to say about lights and shades, candlelight. I think he just knew that, but I remember saying to Peter, “In every frame of the book, on every page in every transaction I see the wobble of the handheld camera, which brings me back to witnessing and reliability.” And I think your face illuminated my sitting room at that point, because I think it was catching onto your thought about what the mode of the drama should be.

and later ...

Anne Holland, retired Head Teacher and Volunteer at Chastleton National Trust House, which of course, part of Wolf Hall was filmed in. It’s a very naïve question. I’m a Catholic, and to me, the character of Thomas Cromwell was portrayed as a great hero. And of course, like everything, nobody’s black or white, but it intrigues me to see how strongly the views were both within the book, the film and the TV.

HILARY MANTEL: I hope to produce a nuanced portrait of Thomas Cromwell, as of Thomas More, of Henry VIII and all my characters, but good writers need good readers. The reader has to be prepared to lay aside their prejudices and read the nuances and interrogate every line asking how reliable is this person as witness to his story or someone else’s story. The texts of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies ripple with doubt. My aim is to keep the text alive. It’s all about, as it were, putting the past back into process. So, what I’m trying to do ... if I had written my books at, say, from the point of view of Ann Boleyn, or I had chosen Thomas More as my lead character, then you would have a very, very different text but it doesn't mean that I am insincere or that text contains lies. The novel cannot, I think, be a neutral text but it can be a nuanced one.

tealin: (nerd)
  1.  Go to your favourite pub
  2.  Order something indulgent
  3.  Scope out some interesting characters to draw
  4.  Write four pages logicking out the question of who it was who actually found the Polar Party's tent and why
I have a slight impression I may not be getting the hang of this whole idea, but, well, I had fun, so...?
tealin: (think)
I’m going in for a solid week in the archives starting tomorrow. First up is Cherry’s diary for the second winter, which I blasted through in two days in 2013. I will necessarily be taking more time with it now, but I didn’t want to do redundant work, so I tried to dig up my notes from that visit to serve as a starting place. What I found were two files – Day 1 and Day 2 – which were, apparently, identical, aside from half a line added to the last entry in the second version. Neither of them got through to the end of the second winter, which I know I did, because you don't spend two eight-hour days grinding through the daily records of a clinically depressed kindred spirit in a 1250ft2 hut besieged by perpetual darkness and the worst possible Antarctic weather without really, really feeling being done with it.

The fragmentary and shambolic nature of all the notes I took on visits before moving here in 2014 is proof either that a)I never would have cut it in "real school", had I gone the academic route, or b)I am so hopeless at multitasking that if I'm not giving something my full attention for an extended period, I might as well not be doing it at all.

Well, it's good to know, anyway ...
tealin: (Default)


To my great bafflement, it has taken this long for Golden Hill to be released in the US – a multi-award winning highly readable romp through colonial New York, you’d think it’d be obvious, but there you go.

Anyway, here is the main character, Mr. Smith – I roughed these out last year when I read the book, but have only just made them as pretty as I’d like.

Do give Golden Hill a shot if you like
  • fun
  • peril
  • interesting characters
  • meticulous research
  • very satisfying historical fix-it fic

Mr Smith is superficially similar to Moist von Lipwig, which made it a little difficult for me to get a grip on the book at first, because I couldn't see into his head as clearly as Moist's (whose internal world is what really sells the book, IMO), but boy oh boy that was totally worth it for the sake of saving the reveal for the end – the sort of reveal that makes the re-read at least as satisfying as the first.

I don't know about you, but I find most of my recreational reading these days ends up being very serious news and commentary about how much of a mess we're in. It's nice to get a break like this and lose yourself in another time and place, without being devoid of meaning.

Supplemental material – including a rather comprehensive catalogue of 18th-century slang – can be found on the book’s Tumblr.
tealin: (Default)

Twenty years ago today, the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves. I didn’t pick it up for another two years, but I could never have guessed when I did so what a life-changing reading choice it was. I already knew I wanted to be an animator, but Harry Potter gave a focus to my energies, and the compulsion to draw anything I could from the books gave my drawing skills a necessary boost before college. Putting those drawings online (starting with the one above) made me, weirdly, one of the first Internet fan artists, and the friends I made and the following I gathered from that have been blessings for which I can never be too grateful. For someone who was such a pariah in middle/high school, it still blows my mind that I’m ‘popular’ in another sphere – what might have happened to me otherwise? So hard to imagine … And yet, so many people out there have similar ‘there but for the grace of Harry Potter’ stories they could tell. What an amazing thing to have brought such a catalyst into the world. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a positive force!

And no, it hasn't escaped my notice that I am once again compulsively drawing a dark-haired pointy-nosed bespectacled young Englishman ... one might almost be tempted to have Thoughts on this.
tealin: (4addict)
In advance of my trip to Annecy, I've been listening to francophone radio more or less solidly since March, trying to improve my comprehension. Now that I'm back in the linguistic brothel where English was born, it's time to do some catching up – and oh, what a lot there is to choose from!

FACTUAL
The Reith Lectures: Hilary Mantel - Author of Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety speaks fascinatingly about historical fiction, our relationship with the past, how and why we resurrect the dead in stories, and many other things very close to my heart.
Away with the Fairies - An exploration of the journey the Little People have made in popular culture, from uncanny threat to sparkly friends.

FICTIONAL
Golden Hill - An excellent jape set in colonial New York. Only available until the wee hours, UK time, so if you're reading this on June 20th, give it a listen while you can – it's a very good story, very well read!
I, Claudius - A radio adaptation of the famous historical novel. I've only caught half of one episode so far, but it's very good, so will be catching up on the rest as an antidote to the news. If you think man's inhumanity to man is a recent thing, well, you don't know much about the Romans...
A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel's novel of the French Revolution, and a salient cautionary tale for passionate idealists on either side of the political spectrum. This production I know for a fact is fabulous, as it was so good the first time I recorded it and listened over and over. Highly recommended.
Hard Times - I never got into this novel when I tried reading it, but the exploration of heartless pragmatism vs anything else is appealing, so I hope the radio adaptation is a way in to the Industrial Revolutionary fable.
Nineteen Ninety-Eight - A spoof of Orwell's 1984, but when the main character Edward Wilson goes in pursuit of Truth and ends up founding a Movement, and it stars David Threlfall (my favourite Iago) and Hugh Laurie (Hugh Laurie), there's reason enough to listen right there.

FUNNY
Double Acts - John Finnemore's series of droll two-character dramas is back! As always, anything he writes is worth listening to – these aren't as laugh-out-loud funny as Cabin Pressure or Souvenir Programme, but are great little character pieces, and have such range.
Saturday Night Fry - Stephen Fry, Hugh Laure, Jim Broadbent and guests are silly on the wireless – and SO YOUNG.
The Burkiss Way - Vintage barmy sketch comedy
The Harpoon - Slightly more recent barmy sketch comedy, spoofing much less recent and generally non-comedic kids' magazines.
The Consultants - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy
John Finnemore, Apparently - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy by a certain eponymous gentleman, airing Thursday
Talking and Not Talking - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy, with a little more gender balance
On the Town With the League of Gentlemen - Barmiest of all comedy, the radio series that preceded the TV series that launched the careers of Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, and Steve Pemberton.


And now my laptop's overheating, so I will leave it there! Enjoy!

Annecy

Jun. 20th, 2017 11:12 am
tealin: (Default)
I've been wanting to get to the animation festival at Annecy since 2012 when Paperman premiered there, but every year there's been some reason why I can't make it. This year, I made a pact with a friend to book accommodation early so we would have to go, and luckily that paid off. I just returned last night from a week's worth of animation nerdery, architectural beauty, and cheese (so much cheese), and while more will probably be written, here's a quick rundown of a few things I learned:
  • The French for 'screening' is séance, a fact I shall treasure forever
  • Just because it's in the mountains and by a lake doesn't mean it won't get really, swelteringly, paralyzingly hot
  • Annecy is not, as I had been led to believe, a small town. This impression came from people who live in LA, in comparison to which pretty much anything smaller than London is small town.
  • However hot Annecy gets, Lyon gets much hotter. I must never go to Lyon.
  • Buy your bread before noon
  • Unexpected vocabulary differences between French and Québecois: myrtille for bleuet, parking for stationnement
  • There are astonishingly few places that will sell you a coffee and a pastry and a place to sit down for an hour or so
  • On the other hand, the springwater standpipes everywhere are pretty great

All in all it was a fabulous experience – I don't think I've ever been to a film festival before, nevermind an animated film festival, so was expecting something more along the lines of a comics convention. Something about all coming together to share the experience of films, rather than buy and sell each other's products – and reconnecting with so many people I knew from so many different places – gave it a lovely sort of family reunion atmosphere. An assortment of 'in group' experiences helped that too: shared exasperation for the heat, queuing for screenings (séances!), and little Annecy rituals like throwing paper airplanes at the screen while waiting for the show to start and making fish-popping noises in the darkness between shorts in a programme, but a major one was that everyone had the same song stuck in their head, because this little film played before every event:


There you go, now you're part of the family.
tealin: (stress)
  1. Decide to clean the kitchen (It needs doing, and my brain doesn't really get up to speed until noon, so might as well.)
  2. Think: It'd be better to listen to some Francophone radio than my usual lineup of kitchen-cleaning CBC podcasts
  3. Fight crashy crashy iTunes to find/download a few new episodes of Aujourd'hui l'histoire
  4. Give up on crashy crashy iTunes and finally update it
  5. Update goes unresponsive
  6. Restart computer
  7. Run update again
  8. Meanwhile, finally get around to removing a bunch of programmes from running on startup
  9. Restart again when prompted by iTunes
  10. Download those episodes at last without crashing
  11. Plug in iPod, find it's chock full of podcasts from three years ago
  12. Hunt down, delete/uncheck existing podcasts
  13. Sync with new French podcasts (baladodiffusion)
  14. An hour later, finally start cleaning the kitchen.

My mum likes to call her mother tongue 'kitchen French' – amazing the lengths one has to go to, in this modern world, even to acquire that!
tealin: (Default)


My childhood was peppered with road trips across the Canadian prairie visiting family – the smell of mosquito repellent was the smell of Canada to me until I went to college, and still evokes fond memories of whizzing past grain elevators, finding interesting bugs in the splatter of grasshoppers on the windshield, sitting around the fire pit after a 10pm sunset, etc. etc. The only time I'd visited in the winter was one rather miserable Christmas, in which Edmonton was basking in sweater weather while Victoria – balmy retirement capital of Canada – got three feet of snow. But prior to visiting I'd been filled with horror stories about the prairie winter, mainly of the barefoot-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways variety, which was probably a big reason why we only visited in summer.

I had planned my big Turtle Island* trip for February because I knew I'd be visiting LA, and that's one of the least unpleasant months to be there (and one I don't mind missing in Cambridge). As it afforded me the chance to get a taste of RealWinterTM at last, I booked a few days with my aunt and uncle in Calgary. And ohh my gosh, did it get me – I only had a couple days to enjoy it as I was unfortunately bedbound for some time with a stomach bug, but for months afterwards I found myself fantasizing about the taste of the frosty wind and how everything just sparkled. In off moments, I still find myself trying to strategise when would be best to make a return trip.

*A name used by several First Nations for the landmass of North America. As it is a) their continent and b) a way cooler name than "North America", I have taken to using it, forgetting that most other people didn't grow up listening to the Turtle Island String Quartet on Prairie Home Companion and therefore are probably deeply confused by my doing so.
tealin: (Default)
Here are a couple things that are so quick and easy to make you'd think they were bad for you:


'CAN'T BE BOTHERED' LUNCH PEAS

A bunch of frozen peas
A ball of fresh mozzarella
Colman's mint sauce*

Stick at least a cup of frozen peas in the microwave for no more than two minutes, stir, then one minute at a time, stirring between, until they are hot and bright green. Once they start turning olive-colour they're overcooked.

Whilst microwaving, cut up your mozarella into cubes. If you're only making a side portion of peas, half a ball will do.

Put the mozarella in with the peas, add a nice dollop of mint sauce, and stir. LUNCH: SORTED. I can generally get this made and eaten and dishes washed in 15 minutes; good healthy filling lunch for busy days.

*I am not usually a name-brand type person, but Colman's is noticeably better than the Sainsbury's own brand, so I will fork over for it


NEED DESSERT CAN'T GET PASTRY

1 kiwifruit
3-4 ginger biscuits
plain yoghurt

Cut your kiwi in bite-size pieces into a bowl, then break up your ginger nuts and add those. Pour as much yoghurt over as you think makes a nice balance between liquid and solid. Let sit for a minute or so to soften up the biscuit pieces, stir, and snaffle.
tealin: (Default)
Good morning! It is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! And you loyal followers of my old-fashioned blog get first dibs!

You may need to manually enter "0" in the price field to make it work, but I tried it last night and it does. You are of course welcome to put some other number if you are moved to do so, but may I venture, that is entirely against the spirit of Free Comic Book Day.

>>> GET IT HERE!! <<<
tealin: (Default)


Everything's all lined up to go ... watch this space! Or one of my alternate spaces, it's up to you!

Now pardon me, but I'm putting Sarah Slean's "Perfect Sky" on loop ...
tealin: (Default)


You can also keep your weather eye here, of course. Like I'm not going to talk about it here.
tealin: (terranova)
[looks up from piles of black-and-white photos, archival documents, notes scribbled in the margins of books, logic puzzles attempting to place fragments of evidence in a timeline, recollections of academics, collections of academics, disconnected letters, maps, newspaper clippings, webs of causality all leading to tragic consequences, inventories, mysteriously missing accelerants, problematic personalities, suppressed suggestions of betrayal, suspicious deaths, and the conflict between idealistic pursuit of knowledge and self-interested ambition]

You know, sometimes I think about all the mental gymnastics I did over Lemony Snicket in the early 2000s, and wonder when I'll ever find a practical application for those skills.
tealin: (Default)


It's coming ...

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