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!

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.

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.

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!
tealin: (h.briss)
Have you ever wanted to see Mark Gatiss speak in an American accent with Korean subtitles? Well, TODAY IS YOUR LUCKY DAY!

tealin: (think)
There are very few people in the world to whose work I will give my time and attention without question: I will see anything directed by Edgar Wright, for example, or written by Terry Pratchett.* I will also give the benefit of the doubt to any member of the League of Gentlemen, so when I saw a show listed on Radio 4 in which Jeremy Dyson talks about one of his favourite writers, I listened, and am glad I did!

The Unsettled Dust: The Strange Stories of Robert Aickman

I am pleased to report my faith in them is still secure. It was cemented by the closing few minutes of the show, which introduced me to this brilliant paragraph:
I believe that at the time of the Industrial and French revolutions (I am not commenting upon the American one!), mankind took a wrong turning. The beliefs that one day, by application of reason and the scientific method, everything will be known, and every problem and unhappiness solved, seem to me to have led to a situation where, first, we are in danger of destroying the whole world, either with a loud report or by insatiable overconsumption and overbreeding, and where, second, everyone suffers from an existentialist angst, previously confined to the very few. There is a fundamental difference between worrying where one's next meal is coming from and worrying about the quality and reality of one's basic being. The great prophetic work of the modern world is Goethe's Faust... Mephistopheles offers Faust unlimited knowledge and unlimited power in exchange for his soul. Modern man has accepted that bargain.
    ... Spirit is indefinable, as everything that matters is indefinable, but one can tell the person who has it from the person who has it not.

Robert Aickman, 1976

... Of course, it might have been helped by the fact that a streamlined version of it was read by Mark Gatiss, which is possibly the best introduction to any profound concluding paragraph.

*I haven't read Snuff yet, but that's more a matter of time than taste.
tealin: (nerd)
Well this is exciting!

Looks like I'll have to go back and read The God Particle all the way to the end, so when they finally determine what this new thing is I'll have a chance of understanding what the heck they're talking about.

Completely unrelated:
I am a vocal skeptic of most modern art, but every once in a while something comes along that makes me think there might be something to it. Nancy Fouts' new show is one of those things.

Not to mention it references both Monty Python and League of Gentlemen, intentionally or not ...
tealin: (h.briss)
After we finished animation on Frog, they made us take CG classes, in the hope some of us might earn our keep on Tangled. I hated CG in school, but technology had progressed a lot since then and Disney has a number of proprietary toys tools to make things easier, so I thought I'd give it a fair go.

I can now say in all scientific objectivity that doing CG makes me desperately depressed and if I had no choice but to work in Maya I would leave the animation business entirely.*

One of the problems I didn't encounter, however, was technical. My computer worked fine and the program never flaked out on me. I was more or less unique in this. Because, at the time, League of Gentlemen was the one ray of sunshine in my life, I decided that was because Hilary Briss was my Maya Angel.

... Not that an explanation really makes a difference, with this drawing ...

Incidentally, if you find yourself bored while watching Tangled (not to suggest that you would), it can be entertaining to imagine the two ginger ruffians are somehow related to Mr Briss. Of course, you'd have to watch the show to get it ... and then you will be hooked, ahahaa!

*I am not trying to dissuade young animators from trying out the medium! I was pretty much the only person in my group who had such a reaction; both rookies and veterans alike took to it quite happily for the most part. You might love it! Goodness knows it certainly affords more job opportunities. For me, I think it's down to the fact that drawing makes me happy, so take the drawing part away and you take away the happy as well. Dramatically.
tealin: (h.briss)
Evening, all ...

In case anyone around here is to be left shuttered in their dark little house tonight, with nothing to do but stare at the scraggly trees blowing in the moonlight, awaiting the knock of scurrilous little children whose sole interest is extracting candy from you, I have some entertainment that may lessen the anguish and stay your hand from ... fouler deeds.

First! The League of Gentlemen reunite and spend the night in one of the most haunted houses in Britain in The League of Gentlemen's Ghost Chase. Listen to it with the lights out, I dare you! (But make sure you do it before Thursday.)

Second! His Face All Red by Emily Carroll – besides being gorgeously drawn and coloured, this webcomic is probably the most webby comic I have seen, with cunning awareness of navigation by scrolling and links.

The rule of threes dictates a third, climactic link, but alas it was too dreadful and terrifying to unleash on the world. So I shall leave the triptych incomplete, and invite the wrath of narrative convention on my head.

... Happy Hallowe'en ...
tealin: (Default)
BBC7, in their wisdom and mercy, has just re-aired the first episode of the radio series On the Town With the League of Gentlemen as part of their 'Edinburgh Winners' series. The League was a stage act, and their success got them a radio show, which in turn earned the TV show. As with many things, I first got to know them through the radio, and while I enjoyed it I didn't think it was the best thing ever, which contributed to the delay in looking into the TV show.*

If you're familiar with the TV show, the radio show is interesting in that it's a bit like reading the first draught of your favourite book: it's recognizable, certainly, but there are some characters (and therefore plotlines) not yet discovered, some not fully fleshed out, and others that didn't make it to the final cut. You can see the seeds of ideas that flourish in the final draught, and dead ends you never knew existed. The town has a different name, there is no Local Shop and no Tubbs or Edward, nor is there Hilary Briss and his Special Stuff. Rev. Bernice is DJ Bernice, Babs has a much funnier introduction thanks to the limitations of radio, and Benjamin visits the Dentons because he's interviewing for a job. But what I find the most striking difference between the two shows is the tone. They both have their fair share of puerile humour, but it makes up a greater share of the radio show; the TV version has not only a stronger narrative throughline but a peculiar emotional gravitas that sneaks up on you. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with being able to see the actors' faces, and pick up on physical performances that make the characters more dimensional, but there are plenty of flat sitcoms and gross-out comedies out there that prove the visual medium is not enough. It was as if they knew they could get more out of the characters on TV, so went for it all the way in the writing ...

Anyway, this is as good an opportunity as any to share my happy bookmark. DID YOU KNOW: The League of Gentlemen is online in high-definition for free ... and legal? For some reason it was hard to find in searches before but now it's the first thing to come up – anyway, brace yourself, because here it comes:


Yes. There you have it. They used to have all three series, but it looks like they're just down to 1, which is still plenty to get you hooked. It can be a little off-putting at first, but give it three episodes – if it hasn't got you by then, you're free to go, and live a happy well-adjusted life in the real world.

*Which is the best thing ever. Along with, y'know, Discworld, Doctor Who, Scott Pilgrim, Worst Journey, Sherlock, etc, etc ...
tealin: (terranova)
I once theorized that all British comedy sketch groups were required to do a Scott-themed skit – of course by 'all' I meant Monty Python, The League of Gentlemen, Horrible Histories,* and The Cheese Shop, which had a running gag in one of their shows based on Titus Oates' lifelong passive-aggressive use of what would become his famous last words. This is, in reality, a tiny sliver of the general population of sketch comedy groups, but today one more has crossed the line:

Oh BBC, you bring so much joy to my life, but you really know how to twist the knife sometimes ... does anyone know if this is a sketch that has aired already, or might it be from an upcoming season? (after all, it is centenary time!) Or did they make this publicity image just to taunt me? Of course, it might be Shackleton, but nobody writes comedy sketches about Shackleton!
*to be fair, history is kind of their thing, so they came by it more honestly than the others

EDIT: Hooray! [profile] moonlingmaid has come forth with a link! Once again, the Internet provides. Many thanks!

Anyway, in case you're curious, that's the iPlayer image for an incredibly comprehensive show on comedy writing which can be found, in its five hour entirety, here. I've listened to the Mitchell & Webb writers' bit, the interview with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton,** and Andy Hamilton, and declare it quite good!
**half of the League of Gentlemen, who disclosed that the very distinctive 'honking' laugh guy in their laugh tracks is none other than a third Gentleman, Jeremy Dyson. I had no idea!

On the other hand ...

I recently discovered that the Winter Journey had been put through the meat grinder of a low-budget educational cartoon. Isn't that nice, I thought. I wonder how awful it is.


A few days later, after I'd girded my loins against that monstrous scene, I actually watched it from the beginning (that's part 2, which I skipped to because they were taking a very long time to get to Antarctica), and have to concede it's not actually that badly written, for a low-budget educational cartoon. The voices are slightly dreadful, the Cape Crozier party mysteriously decided to man-haul the biggest tent in the world, and someone's swapped Bill for Captain Haddock, but ... if you can be flattered by a compliment that is not paid to you, I guess I feel kind of flattered that they bothered to tell this story at all. Maybe 'chuffed' is a better word. There are kids out there – kids with a very high tolerance for atrocious animation – who know this story now. And that's not such a bad thing, is it?
tealin: (Default)

Various work-related forces are conspiring to take me away ... I still have two commissions on the books and have already fallen behind on some important emails, but ... I just ... can't. Please don't be concerned or take it personally but I'm going to be less of a 'presence,' to some extent, on Les Intarwebs for the time being. Cheerio!

How disturbing is it that Owl lends himself so readily to Tubbs?


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