Dana Bubulj: Sculpture, Film, Shadows, Art

Their work, words and wonder

Roundup #4

It’s been a while, mainly because of being busy/rundown and as my laptop has come down with what I have and is refusing to boot outside of safe mode. It’s all great fun. As such, not doing a web round up right now, just covering films and the like I’ve been up to lately (that, upon editing, I’m amused to see flow topically):

The long way to a small angry planet, by Becky Chambers, got a lot of perhaps undeserved chagrin on my part, due to being an ultimately quite sweet thing I read while feeling quite misanthropic and uncharitable. The start of a series, I believe, and beloved of many of my friends, this story introduces one of those casts that feels like they’ve been workshopped on Tumblr, complete with sentient AI romance and a poly (bi?) femme!reptilian-alien. But to be fair, a nice enough space adventure that can be read quickly. [edited to rephrase] 

So as a palate cleanser I went onto 1984 (George Orwell), which, despite pretending to have for about 10 years, was the first time I’d read it. I’ve not seen any film adaptations either, if we’re not counting Brazil. I found it amazing, and in particular, the idea of Newspeak was fascinating to me in its conscious obliteration of nuance. I was reminded of a comment of… Nabokov’s I believe, when discussing translation of poetry and how it was impossible to do so with Russian due to the richness of the language and vocabulary. English is similar. A French friend working as a translator has often commented to me how difficult it is to get nuance across due to French’s comparatively smaller vocabulary. The sheer point of multiple words that, arbitrarily can be summarised under the one umbrella, is to differentiate (‘No, not just oak. Winter oak, that’s the noun!’). Newspeak is like a perverse take on creating Platonic ideals while reducing the capacity to speak, to give voice to their thoughts.

But then I like semiotic discussions, and I digress.

I never wrote up that PCC marathon I mentioned in my last roundup, did I? Well three nights in a row certainly stopped me turning down the left too soon. It was good to see A Streetcar Named Desire on the large screen. It has been so many years, probably since doing it at school, with Williams’ lush stage directions making the scenes so vivid. I remember having different sympathies back then, than when watching it now. I hadn’t remembered the subplot of Blanche’s potential romance with Stanley’s friend. Or the baby, come to that. The acting is of course superb, with Kim Hunter and Vivien Leigh well realised. Brando’s Kowalski covers charismatic masculinity to ugliness and violence well, though I’d forgotten how antagonistic he actually was from the get go.

Tarkovsky’s Stalker [Youtube], which I’d not seen the entirety of before, did well by being on a large screen. That said, the film had two to three possible endings before it actually finished – by which point we were wondering if it ever would. A set of character studies, it revels in long, slow shots of each of the three protagonists’ faces. The self-styled archetypes on their way to a place where wishes come true – each there out of desperation. A quiet film, with some fantastic colour work on the worlds. Were the threats of the zone real or imagined? It’s not really clear. Ponderous, with some wry comments on the nature of writers that were definitely played for laughs.

Another classic film was L’Age d’Or [also on Youtube in entirety] by Bunuel and Dali. A series of not-entirely connected surrealist scenes of political resistance, uncontrolled sexual urges and political satire, with a fab intro on scorpions. There was some gallows humour, and some marvellous silent-film overacting.

On the note of artificiality, I saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou again, this time in the cinema. Perhaps my early dislike of Wes Anderson is being tempered as I mature, perhaps enjoyment is often situationally based. Either way, it was great to see the film on screen – in particular the shots of the documentary films. I had forgotten that Jeff Goldblum was so fabulous in this one. Anjelica Huston stole the show, and I love her. Also Seu Jorge Bowie covers are great.

On Bowie, went to the Tricycle and saw Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, live at the Apollo in 1973. With a precis from the last remaining spider, who was very into his epic rock, the film was great to see large and loud and live. Even if that guitar solo of Ronson’s went on approximately 300 times too long. Made me think I’ve been far too harsh about live recordings of songs before, generally preferring the studio version for roundness of sound. But there were some nice versions of songs, including from albums I’m not massively familiar with but will definitely have to go back to.

Speaking of retro, there was a fab double bill on at the PCC of Electric Dreams and Her – both love stories with AI though very different takes. Electric Dreams, from which the song of the same name came about, follows a guy with quite frankly rubbish takes on women in a love triangle with his musician neighbour and his accidentally souped up computer, which has gained sentience and creepy entitlement issues that are half played for comic relief but also the voice of the grubbier bits of this generation’s geek culture. Another story of the Internet of Things gone terribly awry, this was actually pretty fun to watch (though there was a moment at the beginning we were trying to remember whether it was pastiche or of its time, it’s so very dated). 

I had been meaning to catch Her before this, so I was glad it came up. It gave me a lot of feelings, despite essentially hanging on the principle that you’d fall in love with Scarlett Johanssen. Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic as a very believable, and not particularly sympathetic (if very relatable) man still mourning the loss of his marriage and not managing to do real relationships. As a writer of others’ feelings, an AI OS you can talk to seems a natural fit for his emotions, and it’s left vaguely ambiguous whether AI is fully reflecting his projections or actually sentient in a more autonomous way.  I found the surrogate scene pretty hard to watch, as the idea hit close to home, though I did enjoy the film –  There were some quite amusing comments on exclusivity in the singularity age, and some fab subtle tech futures. That said, I never ever want to watch phone sex on screen, and this film made me more than once, which I shan’t forgive. Actually, it’d be an interesting double bill with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as it shares themes of mutable reality and memory within a man’s impressions and projections of love.

For a nostalgia-esque easy night in, a friend and I rewatched Hackers and Constantine. Hackers was and is absolutely ridiculous and great fun, even though when watching it I couldn’t shake the bit in my head going “when did Sick Boy go to the US?“. Also couldn’t stop seeing Matthew Lillard as simultaneously his chara in The Good Wife, and Fred, the guy who wants to be Godzilla in Big Hero 6. There was quite a sweet (and not all white(!)) ensemble cast too, in a Dark Angel kind of way. (Also, Jolie, Yes hello.).

Constantine holds up in the era of superhero/comics adaptations and while he’s not my Constantine (the sarky blonde in a trenchcoat whose heart is broken and friends keep dying), he was one of mine. Also Rachel Weisz is lovely and I maintain this.  As an aside, after reading a great interview with Keanu Reeves I watched Street Kings on Netflix, which was ridiculous but was definitely one for good performances from a bunch of people I recognised with Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans (US) and Hugh Laurie all starring.

This weekend I finished the main plot of The Witcher 3, which I’d been putting off for a while because I have a tendency of leaving things right before their end for ages. Found a lot of parallels between Ciri and Buffy (of vampire slaying fame), which is all I’ll say as I don’t want to spoil it. On the Dlc now, and enjoying being trounced again by various beasties while carrying out challenges from a genie type omnipotent master of mirrors who is essentially Q from Star Trek. Some nice character work, with some great humour.

While buying tickets for Logan the other day, I was struck by how rugged and old the poster made Hugh Jackman look. Almost Geralt-like. The film was silly but enjoyable, though definitely not for the squeamish in Robocop level gore. Also not content in killing just the one black guy, they do their whole family. Sigh.It was also very disconcerting seeing the guy from Narcos channelling Gary Oldman as a ridiculously over the top Southern villain. The sniping between Wolverine and the professor was great, particularly in its meta references to literal X-Men comics. Again, like Hackers, I was left with a distinctly Dark Angel vibe in its plot and particularly ending.

I also watched Neil Gaiman talking about his collection of Norse Mythology, acknowledging those that came before and their visions of the translations. His take on them sounded decent, and something I’ll probs borrow at some point. He made quite an interesting point I’d not thought of before, of the limited cast of the Myths, with the particular edda sources perhaps being a particular focus, how generally speaking there aren’t any goddess-centric stories, perhaps because they were told in different spaces, private spaces, women-centric spaces where the stories were told for reasons that weren’t captured by the already historicising Snorri. There are giantess especially, that said. It made me want to go on a Marina Warner binge.

With regards to events, at some point I’ll write up BIFM‘s WIFM event for International Women’s Day, which was a positive, short panel that brought together leading women in the field of Facilities Management. But that’s shop talk, so ought to be split out.

Visited the Oxford Playhouse last month to see The Winter’s Tale, a play I did not know at all. Interesting after remembrances of King Lear and The Tempest: families undone by doubt and mistrust, with regret and estrangement, a bit of Pygmalion thrown in at the end. Some nice contemporary spliced in, with a compere/bard that I was expecting to turn around and go ‘anyway, here’s Wonderwall’ at any moment.

Tune in next time for Ikarie xb1, past futures, why Bri-nylon will save you from the temptations of mysterious carpet sellers and the Central St Martin’s Fashion in Film series.

Anyway, here’s wonderwa–  In closing, Suede’s The Asphalt World has been in my head all day. I’m OK with this.

Roundup #3

I have had a soft spot for Tom Gauld since his Guardian comics. His longer narrative comics (like Goliath), are lovely, and there is a quiet contemplative nature to them. As such, I was pleased to get Mooncop, his latest, which chronicles a policeman on the moon as people gradually leave to become more and more automated. Devoured in one sitting on the tube, it was dry and hopeful. Definitely recommend.

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On a completely different note, I read Red Riding 1974 by David Peace, which is part of a larger series that I do not think I’ll be able to read. It was recommended in a discussion on Twitter a long time ago about the pervading darkness of 70s Yorkshire, and certainly the story of serial child abuse and murder, gruesome crimes and police corruption, as well as a protagonist who is not a good person, was definitely unrelentingly bleak. There was apparently a tv film made, which could be interesting, but definitely one you’d have to be in the headspace for.

Speaking of headspace, I’ve just finished Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence, which has given me a lot to think about. Throughout walks and time spent in various wildernesses and deserts, Maitland writes about the history of silence and contemplation with regards to inner and outer worlds, and of prayer. Quite engaging, full of personal anecdotes and analysis/awareness of experience exper wheniments and wider narrations. While I have reservations of extended solitude in my own life, having had negative experiences before, there is something to be said for deliberate quiet and thoughts – either in walking or other activities. I find there are moods in which I will go walking, usually at night, through the streets of London, in silent witness of the dark metropolis that so has my heart. I wish I had been more receptive to the beauty of Skye, but was too distracted by midges, by the mundane. Perhaps once with a better sense of self and am less broken. Also, remind me to write about Accidie at some point.

And there’s something to be said about the physicality of action – the walking, the writing, the drawing. While I tend to have some kind of ambient music on as a white noise filter, there is a quiet focus in doing. There is an odd reference in the first Expanse book (Corey), referencing V.B. Price‘s death-self. I looked it up, and found it chime with some of the other bits I’d been reading recently. “Cleaning away the normal patterns and wastes of my day. I prepare to meet myself on the page, to see what is there”.

Girly Juice is a treasure trove of mostly NSFW blogness, which I mention because she also wrote a fab thing recently on scheduling writing that I need to go back to and properly absorb, but talks about how to deal with energy/creative bursts and dearths. Generally through planning – properly caning it when you can, and have reserves for when you can’t. Also useful to remember: having day start/finish rituals, and writing down ideas with more notes than you think you’d need for later. When I’m in a slightly off headspace, I can barely take a moment to process the thing I’d like to think/write about without being bombarded by several thousand other things spinning off, all of which with potential. I recently experimented and wrote a list of things I wanted to cover, as below, as well as as many of the spin-offs as I could.

Pre-emptive thoughts to process once I get back to them deliberately

  • on silence (Maitland, Goldsaito)
  • on assessing the world (Perec)
  • on building your space (Bachelard, supply chain tweet)
  • on guilt, on bridges burning/building
    • they built that bridge right over the old one
      • London bridge is falling down falling down
      • We who live in a tower / always a castle
      • Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair
  • on business with yourself
    • the process (idle hands, cooking, drawing)
    • the silence of making, the dialogue of making

As you can see, it’s a bit exhausting.

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Here comes a Thought‘ – from Steven Universe, Mindful Education

I actively would recommend you taking the time to read Craig Mod’s How I got my Attention Back, which I found through Warren Ellis’ great newsletters. It’s a nuanced commentary on our addiction to the internet and social media without the usual hand-wringing and erasure of those who need those networks to survive.

“But the quieter my mind became, and the deeper I went into my own work, the more I realized how my always-on, always-connected state had rendered me largely useless.”

 

I recently did a shop at Present & Correct, which seems to be a lovely stationer/art shop of slightly retro graphics and typography. They have a lovely twitter of interesting things too. My fave purchase was definitely their Copper tape, made with real metal. Aside from looking great, it can hold some shapes, so in running it along the bottom edge of a journal page I’m able to kink it to find it more easily. Still using Bullet Journal. Might see what technology can do for me, particularly in regards to providing clean slate grades, with something like a spreadsheet with conditional formatting that blacks out cells once there’s numbers in them, so that I’m able to build data without comparison. Not sure if it’d be massively helpful, but worth a shot as I’m conscious that mood is very much a reflective thing, and so is graded as “better than yesterday/earlier”. I read a thing recently that I can’t find about in order to find something ‘worse’, like a year, say, it’s got to be objectively about 100 times worse for it to register as a new level. So if I were able to have particular indicators of each level, that could be a more objective chart. But who knows.

Other joys have been creating cocktails with Briottet’s Liqueur de Coquelicot de Nemours, which I was introduced at The Jolly Botanist in Edinburgh, where I had about five of its eponymous cocktail gleefully. At home it’s simpler – some poppy liqueur, some Unicorn Tears gin and tonic water. I was also reminded of the glory that is Mr Fitzpatrick’s Blood Tonic Cordial, having had copious amounts of it with lemonade (and later with gin & tonic) at the lovely Vout-o-Reenees surrealist club on various occasions – most recently at Molly Parkins’ private show of paintings. (On that note – Parkins’ paintings had an odd feel to them: that the landscapes within them had been brought forward in a wave to crush against the window of the canvas. There was a deadness to them that worked in the darker sea images, but elsewhere less so.) Have attained fruitbat status at work, and have started eating a lot of mangoes, for some reason. Also must go back to Brü in Harrow, which has the fab distinction of actually being open late.

Absolutely thrilled to have seen Escaped Alone at the Royal Court, as I have wanted to see Caryl Churchill performed professionally for years. The cast of four women were really good at the fragmented conversational quality that is so hard to get right written down. Their inner worlds were so fleshed out, with hints throughout that frame their trapped-ness. All the while is interspersed satirical apocalypses, from cave ins to plagues, with society breaking down acutely and generations developing differently, in a viscerally wrong way. We came out after the 50 minutes with knees broken from the ‘restricted legroom’ seats, and chatted about Mrs Jarrett’s role, where from her ‘terrible rage’, her outsider nature in class, in relationships, in history.

In other theatre news, saw a scratch night at the Omnibus in Clapham that showed a lot of promise. Amy Acre (who I’ve definitely reviewed once or twice over at Sabotage, performed her new show, Insomniacs’ Sleepover, which showed some promise and definitely stopped too soon (due to the nature of the evening, not the actual show). The surreality and desperate attempts to try anything to get to sleep, self-help recordings and lectures and possibly new friendships as relationships break down. The other show I caught was When We Died by Alexandra Donnachie, which was a darkly comic narration of a woman at a funeral home confronted with the body of her (I assume) rapist. The character’s voice is great throughout, and only alludes obliquely to her past with the man on the slab, with heavily pregnant pauses and nervous nattering. Both very different, but worth catching.

Actively loved T2 (Trainspotting sequel). While it does have its flaws (notably in its use of women), it had a script could both have me in stitches and emotionally invested in the characters. Well, particularly Spud, obviously. It did so much good to have rewatched the first one very recently, as why I particularly loved it was the cinematography and music, which stood well on itself but worked best in its sometimes very clever and subtle callbacks to visuals from the first film. Obviously sometimes this was a bit anvily, but I think they acknowledged that (“this is just nostalgia!”, he shouts, up on Arthur’s Seat), and kept it strong nevertheless in a story about having grown up, and revisiting the past (in locations and relationships). The past is a different country, and all that.

Catching up on The Good Wife, slowly, though had forgotten a large majority of the plot. I miss Kalinda. Finding Taboo interesting, with some inconsistent characters, but Tom Hardy gives it his all as a slightly bizarre creature. Not sure how (or if) it’d get resolved. Saw Mean Streets, which made me sad rather than anything, on behalf of Keitel’s character. Also Full Metal Jacket, where I suffered from crowd blindness and thus could not actually differentiate most of the characters. Enjoyed the pilot for Mr Robot, so will probably go back to that.

Have managed to get over the issue I had with Destiny, and enjoyed it thoroughly for a few days.Definitely looking to go back to it and play more, though I am continually annoyed by its lack of local co-op. On that note, I am also slightly frustrated by lopped off content within DLC, which I may purchase at some point (but not right now.). Started Dragonage: Inquisition as a single hand hatchet wielding dwarf, and have thusfar not managed to die *as* often as I used to with games where you control whole parties. Having only watched people play previous games, a lot of the plot content is one I don’t have, but I shall trust my current companions and see what happens. On a completely different gaming style, I started Stardew Valley, which had a similar kind of frustrating learning curve as Destiny, except perhaps more so. While I’ve liked games like that in the past, there doesn’t seem to be as early a payoff to grind to make it actually worth it. Also the 2am KO is frustrating as all hell. Started playing Two Dots on my phone, which reminds me of snake crossed with connect 4, and all the addiction of candy crush. This’ll do nicely.

The last two weeks has seen a rash of orders to the Prince Charles Cinema. I shall look forward to, in the next month or three: A Streetcar Named Desire, Stalker, Electric Dreams/Her double feature, L’Age d’Or, The Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou, Ikarie XB-1 [Voyage to the End of the Universe], Things to Come, Ghost World and Mad Max: Black & Chrome. Gosh.

Fab things online

And to finish with something glorious:

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25th Jan 1851: I’ve fallen in love or imagine that I have; went to a party and lost my head. Bought a horse which I don’t need at all.” – Leo Tolstoy

Roundup #2

Following on from last month’s roundup, time has passed, a year has changed. On a personal note, things are more positive. At least more so than the white-noise of December.

in girum imus nocte consumimur igni

‘We spin around consumed by the Fire’

Books & Media

Of things read recently, they’ve been all over the place, genre-wise. Claire Trévien has a fab review over at Sabotage of Akwe Amosu’s Not Goodbye – I loved “Prayer for Rain“. Currently reading Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed, which I adore. I am a sucker for takes on The Tempest, and this has a fab unreliable narrator too of a creative director who is reenacting his revenge for being ousted from the local theatre festival through a production within a prison workshop. Some lovely touches, not least in the nice play of protagonist “Felix” and nemesis “Tony”.

Devoured Bitch Planet Vol 1 [DeConnick, De Landro, Wilson, Soma, Peter, Cowles] in the one sitting – shall definitely grab the next one when it comes out. Set in a futuristic women’s prison it covers corruption, racism, sexism and revenge with some characters I look forward to get to know better. Also caught volume 1 of Faith: Hollywood and Vine [Houser, Portela, Sauvage], which was light and cheerful, though I’m unfamiliar with the original source comics. On another comic note, I’m currently subscribed to Shade the Changing Girl [Castellucci, Zarcone, Way] which is massively trippy and will need some re-reads, as the world expands. I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for Shade the Changing Man, as I used to get odd issues from the 10p boxes – it usually worked in that fashion – completely different locations, worlds, dangers. I must actually try and track down an omnibus collection so I get more context(!). Love how the new Shade’s worlds combine, and how the madness bleeds through. Gorgeously drawn.

On a book note, never have I missed my stop as much as when I’ve been reading Aliette de Bodard‘s The House of Shattered Wings, which was a slow burner but enjoyable alt-history fantasy with fallen angels, houses of magic, old grudges and the conflict from the colonisation of South East Asia. The first in a trilogy.

In my catching up with classic films I’ve never got around to seeing, I saw The Godfather I & II – which were (obviously) great. I almost want to go back to the first one and rewatch having seen the flashbacks/history of Brando in the sequel. The cinematography was stunning, with some lovely framing and echoing of poses/situations.

Another thing I adored was 3% [Netflix, Brazil], which is a bit like The Hunger Games, if they’d addressed the resistance from the start in a series of ‘tests’ given to 20 year olds with the goal being to leave the deprivation of inland and go ‘offshore’. Engaging cast, and a plot that had me hanging throughout. Roll on the next series.

Started Destiny on PS4, which would be great as a co-op if people were not all level capped wandering about while I get destroyed by knight swarms at level 4. I object in principle to games that won’t local co-op. It’s one of the reasons I’ve bought so many Borderlands 2 DLCs – local co-op is fun. You sit with your people and shoot things. You don’t have to have a solid internet connection, or be online at the same time in the same way. That said, anyone who wants to shoot things in Destiny with me, let me know.

Speaking of video game mechanics – started Watchdogs, which I enjoy except for the fact that I’m generally slow to pick up controls, and the sheer amount of GTA-like driving quests end up in me somewhat annoyed at the thing for not escaping police in time again.

Out and About

No Man’s Land, NT Live – I couldn’t get tickets to the actual performance, so ended up watching it live at the O2 in Finchley Road. Not knowing anything about the play (or indeed, any of Pinter), I came to it fresh. The cast were great, with McKellen and Stewart playing off each other fabulously as always, and quite enjoyed listening to their Q&A afterwards reminiscing on the original performance and the take on dementia. Reminded me, in some aspects, of Sleuth, that manages to really ramp up the tension between Olivier/Caine to almost uncomfortable levels.

For something completely different, Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Southwark Playhouse was wonderful – with Eiko Kadono’s story adapted for the stage by Jessica Siân. I’d not known it had a separate life outside of the Ghibli, and it managed to stand completely independently, with a small cast managing to convey a whole lively town well through some great costume changes and movement. The cat puppet and actor was also fabulous. That said, probably because I did see it mid-December, a story about a girl who messes up on her job and lets people down (even if she does pick herself up from that knock) was a bit too close to home. Christ on a bike, I’m glad December’s over.

Cinema – Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them – which was whitewashed fluff with some great creature design but some questionable plot and character choices. Saw Attack the Block (Cornish) at BFI IMAX, which was definitely a good film to see massive. It survived the screen well. Will have a look to see what else is on there. Became a member of the Prince Charles Cinema, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but realised there are a few things coming up I’ve my eye on (mostly the Tarkovsky season).

In another real-life thing, found a cafe (Brü) that opens late in Harrow that has decent tea and ice cream. But also opens late. It almost makes the place less of a ghost town after the shops close. Went for a wander in central London near New Year’s – past midnight you’ve got to step through a forcefield between the completely deserted tourist traps to where the life is, with open food and bars and people. Quite bizarre. Must do more of that, particularly as I’ve signed up to do the Half-Moonwalk.

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Still using Bullet Journal, and starting to track moods and actions in earnest. It’s also a good way to actually do the scrapbooking I enjoy doing as and when, rather than saved up forever. Got a new phone that’s got a decent “manual” camera that I am definitely enjoying getting some use out of (as above, N18).

Online

Recipes

Going to try and do some takes on some of the cookbooks I’ve got in a more formal fashion. Happy to have success thusfar with Gordon Ramsay’s roast pork butterflied with sage and garlic and tied up again. Similarly, got a lot of compliments for a take on Nigella Lawson’s parsnips mashed with porcini water and liberal amounts of nutmeg and thyme.

AOB

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Dorothy Parker, 28th June 1945, reproduced from Letters of Note

Roundup #1

Pledged to use this more, and to start to amass an archive of information, snippets, ideas going forward and etc. We shall see how that goes. This is mostly due to the Bullet Journal bug, but more of that anon.

Books and Media

Been in a bit of a rut this week with books – perhaps I’m not as invested in the stories I’m trying to get into and it’s thrown my focus. But this’ll shake off soon, I’d imagine. Commuting helps with providing neat chunks of time I can read (when I get a seat).

Finished The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a birthday present that’s the start of a series of vaguely magic-ish multiple worlds/dimension hopping, with a slight rose-tint at old pulp genre which is oddly acknowledged throughout by the protagonist in a sweet enough way. Spent much of it planning a re-read of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which engage with meta in a slightly sharper way, though it was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Absolutely adored The Expanse on Netflix – the characters were interesting, I wanted to see how the threads unravelled, thought the acting was good (and props for a more diverse casting). It’s a colonist cold war in space – with the breadth and depth that people admire with Game of Thrones – I think. I, predictably, adore Miller, and have ordered the first book or two to start soon.

Also watched the new Planet Earth II, which was great and I really love the ‘diaries’ at the end for the camera-people explaining how they got the shots in the first place without egregious bodily harm on their part. While I acknowledge that narratives are framed around footage for drama and engagement, I felt more than a little love for the albatross awaiting his partner who was running late, something I was not alone in apparently!

Planet Earth II Albatross

Planet Earth II Albatross

Out and About

PJ Harvey, Brixton Academy

This was a phenomenal set that had my friend and I in tears at points. Such a stage presence, such a great band of musicians. The new album sounded great live and I’m looking forward to sitting down and listening to it properly, where I can take in the (very political) lyrics properly. Similarly, it was actually magic seeing songs (particularly When Under Ether and The Devil [live vid]) from White Chalk live, which has been one of my favourite albums of hers. And she ended on The River [live vid], which ended me.

Lazarus, Kings Cross Theatre

We saw this play the night after the morning the US elections were called. Let’s just say that This is Not America hit harder than it might have otherwise. Also it doesn’t pull its punches, with Lazarus the first song out of the gate. Michael C Hall is a very good Newman, and a decent Bowie, come to that. Michael Esper is a similarly good singer as the dark Valentine. Like the original, the women aren’t the best characters and serve as foils to the protagonist when not having a slightly wrought breakdown, But the musical is enjoyable – once you let go of plot and become a voyeur as Newman to the world, letting it wash over you. The staging effects are well done, and I like being able to see the musicians through windows. It will be good to see again, once rewatching The Man Who Fell to Earth so the film is fresher in my mind.

The Tiger’s Bride, Oxford Playhouse

This adaptation of an Angela Carter short story was done in the top room of St Aldate’s Tavern, with a small cast and crew (of which I knew one). I really liked the music (performed live, stage right), and the effects that managed to convey a vast space through wooden frames used as doorways, stairs, corridors. The wirework in the horses and tiger mask were also lovely. Nicely performed, and carried the (crammed) audience with them effortlessly.

King Lear, The Old Vic

It is always good to see the classics done well, and this production, starring Glenda Jackson as the eponymous ruler, was very well performed. I felt a lot of sympathy for Celia Imrie and Jane Horrocks’ Goneril and Regan, as I’m often wont to do. Rhys Ifans was a good fool, Kent (Sargon Yelda) and Gloucester (Karl Johnson) were also strong. The cast did well with the material, though playing the king straight removed the possibility of a set of familial bonds that could have made the text richer. Having said that, the focus was much more on the paradigm shifts between generations and the ‘deserving’ inheritors of wealth and influence. The ‘good’ respect for the establishment in casting out those not welcome (despite Edmund’s actions) is particularly (and ever) prescient.

And while I’m talking about The Old Vic, I saw No’s Knife for my birthday.

Lisa Dwan was phenomenal. I’m not too familiar with Beckett’s writing but this was such a way to get into them (helped in the more abstract passages by captions). She shuck on characters like a second skin, and the bleed between them made for a heady viewing experience.

The Quay Brothers in 35mm (Christopher Nolan), Prince Charles Cinema

I’d not seen many of the Quay Brothers’ films before, though adored the ones I knew, so snapped up these tickets at the marvellous PCC as soon as I saw them. Starting with In Absentia certainly set a fraught mood that left us a bit breathless in the change of reels – but then we’re taken into a short interview/doc with the brothers themselves in their studio space, talking about their work which allows space and time to frame the work in context – particularly given their comments about not wanting to work with [what’s outside the window] but escape it within their puppets and sets. This feeds nicely into two of their films, Comb, which I’d not seen and adored, and Street of Crocodiles, which is one of my favourite short films. It was amazing seeing the films on a large screen, considering the scale of the sets and machinery themselves. The characters have such life, more than the glint of olive oil on their eyes.

The Worthy (Ali F. Mostafa), ICA, part of the BFI London film festival

Wasn’t sure what to expect with this massively violent and somewhat bleak film in a Battle Royale vein. Did enjoy it, though would rather have followed the protagonist’s sister, plot-wise, for her drive (in direct contrast to the Hamlet-like action or not action conflict in main chara).

Spirited Away (Ghibli), Prince Charles Cinema

Fabulous seeing the film on such a large screen (subbed). The colour palates and scenery makes it a feast for the eyes. Also it helps that it had a decent translation of the original dialogue.

Online

2016 Charity Centurion – Summary

Goodness, it’s over, this year’s Charity Centurion with James Webster –  100 pieces of art and poetry in roughly 30 hours, uploaded to an album on Facebook (I’ll try and find a more easily shareable link soon).

We’re planning on selling these to raise more for Macmillan, along with last year’s for Shelter – so we’ll figure out a decent way to show them online. Thank you so much to all those who supported us with prompts across social media and donations (here’s that link to the Charity Centurion Just Giving page). We couldn’t have done it without you.

Things I learned throughout this process:

  • High chairs and low tables do not a happy back make, and by Sunday night I had even more sympathy for copy-monks than I had already.
  • I finally managed to get a handle on the Chinese ink stones I’ve had since uni and not managed to use to my satisfaction.
  • The J. Herbin ink bought from Cult Pens way back when is still lovely and I need to supplement the reds/pinks I have with more blue/green/browns.
    • On that note, I still adore that site’s “Deep Dark Red”, which is the colour of blood.
  • Other stationery note, Papermate’s Ink Joy Minis, bought in a pack from Ryman for a few quid, are amazing.
  • In keeping the initial prompts more hidden than last time, the works were more related to each side as autonomous entities away from their source. Which actually worked out quite well because it allowed them to flourish a lot more.
  • We had a lot more Classical prompts this time around. Which was interesting (and often involved research!)
  • When sleep deprived, Webster’s poetry is fabulous.

Did something fun to the prompt ‘You’ve got it all backwards’ – claiming it and writing a short text piece, forcing Webster to do art (~meta~). Ended up with a four panel cartoon from him, and a nice way to approach the suggestions with a different perspective.

Speaking of doing things with a bit more background prep, there were one or two homages – to old art deco posters, old postcards, and reference books. Should do more of that, I think – as publishing itself is such an interesting and varied visual medium.

I also used one or two pages from a job-lot of old learning-to-read books I bought for this weekend, but didn’t end up using much from. It’s always more satisfying keeping pages removed to a minimum and seeing what you can make from the text in the discarded edges.

Three more favourites under the cut:-

Read the rest of this entry »

Charity centurion

Well, we’re doing it -The Charity Centurion for Macmillan. And it’s quite different to last year.
First impressions after a full first day is that we’ve grown as creators. Knowing the drill, as it were, the room was set up in due time, the tea made. We also had  a benchmark of last year to base our output on. And remembered how hectic the second day was. The second day that’s ahead of us now!
But enough of that, what you want to see are finished pieces. I think both James and myself can say we’re more satisfied with a greater majority of our sides in execution – (to the expense of time taken!) Clearer themes less distracted, more coherent images.
We will be selling these to fundraise further, and go back to the Shelter ones too.
They’ll all be put up later, but 2 of my favourites so far have been:-

“It is 100 years since our children left.”

image

We have counted the days
We have clung to life through hope
And stubbornness
We have kept their rooms exactly as they left them
But for the stains of tears
And the scratches where we clawed at the walls.

When they came back they had not aged a day
But our eyes
So wide with love
Saw the subtle differences
The beady eyes
The jagged nails
Their teeth like tiny knives
We had thought the rats which plagued our village were just that
But now we know better.

And they looked at us like we were monsters
Perhaps we were
The years had not been kind
Sun and worry had worn our skin to leather
But we knew
Despite their pleadings
That when we tore them apart
It was for love.

After so long waiting
We would not allow our children to do this to another town.

Excalibur

image

They really were supposed to be a pair
The scabbard that shielded from all harm
The sword that won all battles
Since losing one, I have become more wound than man
I have forgotten what it was to live without pain
I wonder sometimes what I looked like when I had skin
The days before I carried this hunched agony around
I assume now I must have imagined.
And still Excalibur will not let me die.
But my battle is never done
And I am so tired.
Perhaps I will have a short rest
And when I wake
They will have forgotten who I am
And that I was ever king
That sounds nice.

If you like these and want to support us, please do at our just giving page

*blows dust off*

An update of sorts.

So that Poetry Art Centurion James Webster and I did last year? We’re doing it again, this time for Macmillan, because Cancer is, well, Cancer, and it takes too many. It’s next weekend, and I’m mildly terrified that I won’t be up to the challenge, my ink having gone copper with rust. But it’s a challenge, and we’ll definitely be posting about it on the social medias [links: Pinstripeowl Instagram, Webster’s Tumblr, possibly my [Pinstripeowl] Twitter and the Webster’s Official Book of Faces]

google images screenshot with captions

Webs and I winning SEO for our Poetry Art Centurion. An awkward event name, maybe?

Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been working on a project inspired by Kenneth Rocafort‘s amazing diary page sketches that are a delight of my twitter feed. See also Jeffrey Alan Love. Twitter art makes me happy. Art makes me happy, if happy is the right word. But I digress. This year I started the imaginatively titled ‘ddoodles2016’, which are usually 1-2 minute doodles usually in bed before I go to sleep. Posting to Instagram has, for some reason, managed to keep me on it without ‘cheating’ (well, weekends don’t count) on days in a way I’m quite enjoying when I sit to think about it. Most of them are scratchy and/or terrible, but keeping a routine is doing wonders for the feeling of slight artistic stagnation. I have lots of plans for this year, oh yes.

Luckily his nibs is a joy to work with, and bouncing off someone’s ideas/inspiring/moulding concepts is one of my favourite things. I’ll keep you posted.

Game Mini Review Roundup

Hi All, Taking a break from the #sheltercenturion before Webster and I revisit them properly. But thank you all so much for donating – as of this post, we have raised over £500. I’ll do a proper write up of that shortly, until then you get a random roundup of various games I’ve been messing with recently, from Humble Bundles and elsewhere, on Phones and PC.
Read the rest of this entry »

Shelter Centurion Rides Again

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Day Two of the shelter centurion is about to commence! Will concentrate on completing pieces rather than interweb for the moment. We’re at  practically fifty and James will be, due to the inexorable nature of geography, heading out of the dark metropolis in the eve.
Last (night) we crashed out at fiveish after about 13-15 hours. That’s a going rate of roughly (too long)!

See you on the flipside, and if you haven’t but can, so consider donating!

Shelter Centurion Pt 2

Well, we are 27 in. This is not necessarily the schedule we were planning, but what’s a fundraising challenge without any challenge?

The Fantastic James Webster has been posting quick shots of the finished cards, which you can find at his blog, so I thought I’d take a different tac and comment on the ones I find the most successful as pairs. (also my favourite images/text).

Obligatory Poem About Writing A Poem

I’m sorry.
I’m really sorry.
This process just isn’t that interesting,
like, I write down words on paper.
It’s hardly rocket science is it.
This was a really poorly conceived idea
and I’m absolutely not sure why I tried
it and oh gods I hate myself right now
I’m a fucking failure oh gods why why why
why why why why why why
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYY!?!?!!!!!
Ahem, here is a story about a dragon.
Once upon a time, there was a little dragon.
Their name was the same as your name.
This is to engender sympathy from you, the reader.
A lot of their interests were the same as a lot of your interests. This is also to encourage you to identify with the dragon.
Like you, the dragon was totally alone.
Like you, the dragon had wings.
The dragon stretched his wings and laid waste to the kingdom cos kingdoms are for losers and neither you nor the dragon are a loser.
The dragon made the world what they wanted it to be: which is ‘on fire’.
There is a moral here.

Obligatory Poem About Writing Poetry

Second Star to the Left

“Second star on the left” he said
But the sky was so full of stars
And I’ve always been dyspraxic
(he didn’t understand the word)

I carried straight on til morning
I carried on longer still
I sank my teeth into my happy thoughts
And flew far beyond the stars.

I learnt to sail using Pyxis
I learnt to hunt from Orion
I lost my hand to a crocked star gone nova
I replaced it with a grappling hook.

I made a map of the heavens
And bombed Never Neverland from orbit

I am the girl the Lost Boys lost
But you can call me Captain Wendy

Second Star to the Right [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

Bees

He collects the honey from the bees
Just like he always does

He wears no mask
He wants them to see his face

He uses no smoke
He wants them cogent and clear

He is naked
He wants them to see their target

They sting him
They sting him everywhere
He is a cloud of buzzing, stripy pain

When they disperse
He wakes clutching a small jar of honey
His skin swelling up in swirled scripts

He spends the day reading the poems
The bees wrote in venom across his cells
A lot of the words begin with B.

He doesn’t mind.

Bees [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

I choose you

I burnt the village to the ground when I left
That’s why they call me Ash.

I don’t miss it much, my home was always the smell of sulphur
The flicker, drip and splutter of thick wax candles
The belch of flame from impish throats
And the pentagram fields of battle.

After the auguries, they tattooed my body with protective runes at birth
I summoned my first imp when I was three
My tongue bloody from the inhuman verbs
I murdered my father on my 8th birthday – it was easy.

And once my demons and I have claimed all 8 of the badges of hell
From the hunched overlords and their fattened incubi
I shall open up this earth
And drink it dry.

I choose you [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

 

Favourite poems/images that aren’t necessarily matched by other side in greatness:

Black Dog [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

Things That Are Orange

The fingerprints of god
Left in juice on a tree

The hatchet, just after
When it catches the light just right

The kraken when it rises
And the hysteria tears at our eyes

Rabbits caught by their own lust
And turned to furious, fucking, orange stone.

Your own face.

Everything that burns brightly
But never knows why.

Everything.
Everything.

Everything is orange now.
You hate orange.

Go on, call him,
Sob down the phone.
He too is orange.

 

And ever onwards!