Tag Archives: film

Siphonophore or salp?


Horticulture is all very well,

housework is never all very well, but no doubt it is good for one’s character (just some cushion plumping still to be done),

but they interfere with the important things in life, namely watching someone colour in the floor of the Pacific stripe by stripe.  I feel like Slartibartfast.

Then there is the crucial business of blue water going by for an hour, or possibly two, occasionally diversified by some passing gelatinous improbability, until we arrive at the main event:  the ocean floor, a varying number of kilometres but always a Very Long Way Down.

Here one can inspect more gelatinous creatures, the occasional fish, and a variety of coral.  Unfortunately, being live from the other side of the world, they usually reach bottom just at the time all British people should be in bed.  What technical genius, though, not only to send ROVs to that depth, but to live stream HD video to all and sundry, along with baffled commentary from assorted specialists.  It’s just as much fun as reindeer – though I do occasionally wish the scientists were speaking Norwegian.

For those who live in another hemisphere, or don’t mind propping up their eyelids with matchsticks:


Minutt for minutt


(for about a week).

NRK (Norwegian broadcasting) is televising and live streaming the reindeer migration (reinflytting – excellent word!)  in the far north of Norway, all day, every day, until the reindeer arrive wherever it is they are going.  Probably take about a week … along the way there are musical interludes, but, though some of the pieces are lovely, the natural sound is even better.  When the music is playing I can leave the screen burbling in the corner, but once it goes silent I can’t look away.

At the moment the reindeer group which is being followed is having a little snooze.  If you would like to watch them having a little snooze for an hour or so, this is the link:


Oooo – I think a couple of them may have woken up … and yes … noses to the north it is.

Too many worlds,


1 lifeand too powerfully written to be ingested in one go, which, nevertheless, I did, emerging, gasping slightly, from one short story only to plunge into the violently contrasting next. This pastel cover should not be believed; the short story form has often tended to the disturbing, and these are no exception.  One of my favourites on first reading: A weight problem by Elspeth Davie, concerning a thin man, an aeroplane, and a short shopping expedition. Life is part of a three-volume collection.  I’ll try to take Love and Loss in smaller chunks.

2 geologyThe literary loopiness consequent upon narrative greed obviously required mitigation, and after some thought I settled upon Earth Story, as geology, though as exciting as anything in Life, is usually conducted at a steadier pace.  This series has the usual vices of popular science, and is now out-of-date, but the pictures are pretty.  There are also some entertaining scientists.  My favourite is the one who described early deep-sea dredging, when it was only possible to tell if the dredge had actually arrived on the sea floor by sitting on the cable winch to feel for bumps being transmitted up the cable from, as it were, one bottom to another, a method at once risky and curiously intimate.

Not entirely as we like it


Off to the National Theatre Live screening of As you like it; which didn’t quite live up to its billing.

Setting the court in some febrile open-plan office rather disguised both its potential role as a source of honour and high culture, and its actual dangers if the fount of honour was toxic at source.  Similarly, although the grand suspension of the office furniture was great fun, and the forest looked convincingly cold, it was hard to believe in it as a purlieu of the Great Wild Wood, or in the lion and the serpent.  It followed that the moral pattern and allegory of the play became blurred, and the usurping Duke’s repentance actually got a laugh from the audience.  Jacques’ departure, unreconciled and irreconcilable, so chilling on the page, was a nothing.

Perhaps being somewhat ailing made me captious and too aware of the nasty cinema chair.  It was As you like it, and there was, after all, a good deal to enjoy. But when the top memory of the evening remains the flock of sheep (admittedly an outstandingly enjoyable flock) I have to feel that it was a production which had parted from its anchor, and I would not trust my heart to it.



In mournful ritual the two of us put on Galaxy Quest, rollicking blissfully through all its joyous spoofs (and I am a first-generation Star Trek watcher, AD 1969 or so).  Quest could never have been in the same league with a different Dr Lazarus.  Can one imagine it minus the world weary air, the curling lip, the voice fit for Shakespeare emerging from among rubber gills?  And priceless:  Alex / Lazarus encased in blue slime.  When the credits rolled, we said goodbye, and hugged each other consolingly, sharing the sadness.

blue slime

So now I’m alone I’ll run Truly Madly,  and perhaps if I iron the sheets at the same time I won’t snivel very much.

Must be nearly Christmas


I made a tour of the tree festival and then settled down for the afternoon.  (Click an image for the gallery)

Ill omened



It was well done; but I did feel that the film had exaggerated the novel’s resemblances to Jane Eyre.  Of course du Maurier was influenced by Brontë;  but even if she had chopped off one of Max de Winter’s arms and poked his eyes out (and let’s face it, Charlotte Brontë would think it served him right) these would still be two very different novels.  Du Maurier does not have the same moral compass, let alone any appeal to a just deity;  the result is that the resolution of Rebecca is much darker and more ambiguous than Jane Eyre.  Perhaps the team producing the TV version could not cope with so much nihilism, and tried to graft on an allusion to the older novel to make their ending more cheerful than it is on the page.

I was sustained in the writing of this post by a monumental Bath bun.  How I am to accommodate any dinner is as yet a puzzle.

Passionate pedagogy


RitaIt was strange to look back to a world where part-time university-level distance learning for adults was a revolutionary concept; the OU by success paving the way for every other university to take up that role.  The tape, retrieved from an ancient VHS collection, is almost clapped out, and its wavery sound and errant image proved on my senses how long ago, indeed, it all was.

The story of Pygmalion is always worth revisiting in its many retellings.  Frank thinks for a while that he is Mary Shelley, but, even without that darker shadow, Pygmalion is a questionable role, the powers of creation and ownership being so closely allied.  Endorsing this connection poisons the ending of My Fair Lady. Russell, following Shaw, had more sense than to ladle syrup into the closing scenes of Educating Rita, for which thanks.

So yes; Rita loves Frank.  And maybe Eliza loves Higgins.  Maybe, even, the statue loves Pygmalion.  But not without qualification.  And they all deserve to have slippers thrown at them.

Phryne’s frocks


And now the self indulgence of a borrowed boxed set.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries:  the lead characters are quite attractive; the Strine voices fall welcome on the ear, evoking a grateful nostalgia;  the mysteries are occasionally genuinely mysterious when I fail to understand them.  I put my confusion down to the distracting gloriousness of the period costumes.  Essie Davis must have been given hundreds of outfits by a lavish costume department, and the dresses (and hats and coats and undies) are good enough to eat.  They held me spellbound – and I’m not even interested in clothes.  I’m going to have to watch all three series again, possibly with the sound off, so that I can totally embrace the effulgence gifted to the world by Marion Boyce.

Phryne's frocksI’m not the only one to be impressed.  The fan who is lending me the series has christened her new Orpingtons Phryne and Dotty.  The actresses in these name roles might not be entirely flattered, but it has to be said that their namesakes have wonderful plumage and especially gorgeous bottoms.

two booffy bottoms