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By TheophileEscargot (Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 05:42:38 AM EST) Reading, Theatre, Museums (all tags)
Reading: "The Gone-Away World", "Mary Seacole". Theatre: "Roaring Trade". Museums.


What I'm Reading
The Gone-away World by Nick Harkaway. Someone on Shelfari recommended this to me. Was a bit dubious about it at first. It starts off with a great first chapter set in a post-apocalyptic world, but then goes off into a giant flashback, taking up two-thirds of the book. The pre-apocalyptic world is somewhat vaguely described, with lots of satirical exaggeration, but in a kind of transatlantic blur where people use British slang in what seems more like a USian small town.

However, it's wittily written, fast-paced, and decently plotted, though a couple of the surprises are a bit predictable. Definitely found it captivating by the end.

Also, any book featuring a mime artist collective and sinister ninjas is certainly worth a look.

So, well worth reading. Just be prepared to overlook a couple of first-novel flaws.

Review, review, review.

What I'm Reading 2
Mary Seacole by Jane Robinson is a biography of the woman generally known as the Black Florence Nightingale.

Seacole was a curious character: a mixed-race Jamaican who both ran a hotel and had a career as a "doctress", a kind of nurse practitioner using folk remedies that were probably about as effective as the medicine of the mid-nineteenth century.

When the Crimean War broke out, she headed off to establish a British Hotel and dish out medicine and comfort.

Unlike the stern and puritanical Nightingale, Seacole was more emotional and affectionate, and operated more informally: Nightingale disapproved of her dishing out of alcohol, though maintained an official neutrality.

The biography is professionally done, though not written with much particular verve: the author seems to specialize in female historical traveller. The primary sources are a bit then apart from Seacole's own (probably ghostwritten) autobiography, leaving quite a lot of room for "she must have seen..." padding.

Theatre
Saw Roaring Trade at the Soho theatre. Excellent play set on a bond trading floor, as a new hire disrupts affairs. Liked it a lot. It's fast-paced with lots of short scenes, and juggles several different plot threads. Energetic performances and a neat script with clever reversals and a couple of great set-pieces.

Not totally grim: has a lot of funny moments. Maybe errs a little towards the sentimental. Rather than being aggressively anti-capitalistic, if anything it's a little sentimental. Wonder if the playwright Steve Thompson has heard a few too many self-serving sob-stories about "oh I don't want to a greed-crazed materialist but my wife is so demanding".

Seemed reasonably accurate, handles the exposition well.

So, nice little play. It seems to have been a hit: wouldn't be surprised to see it cross the Atlantic, maybe even become movified like Frost/Nixon.

Review review, review review Newsnight.

Museums
Saw the Babylon: Myth and Reality exhibition at the British Museum. Pretty poor. There's only a handful of actual Babylonian artefacts, some of which seem to have just been carted upstairs so a few quid can be charged. Only the beautiful ceramic lions, on a turquoise background, have any real aesthetic impact. It's quite busy and you get jostled by crowds of snuffling tourists, all of whom seem to stare intently at tiny cuneiform-inscribed tables for minutes at a time.

It's padded out by tenuously related artwork: some relating to Babylon like a Whore Of... watercolour by William Blake, and several representations of the Tower of Babel. You know they're stretching a bit though when you come across a CD-sized reproduction of the cover of "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.

Recommendation: give this one a miss.

Me
My computer finally died, though fortunately I managed to back stuff up to an external hard-drive first. However I can't post much: don't like posting from work especially with no HTTPS, the library blocks HuSi (under "Profanity" and "Dating"), so I've just got the phone... and my flat's in a bit of a mobile dead zone.

If you're reading this, it means I've got cut'n'paste working from one of the text editors, and have managed to avoid making HTML errors for once.

< Ladies and gentleman | Because I feel obligated >
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Phone Posting by priestess (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 06:13:23 AM EST
I had to shell into a server and fix it from the pub this weekend. Nobody had a laptop so had to do it all by txt-typing from a numberpad on my phone.

God damn that was tedious.

Worked though.

Pre..............

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Chat to the virtual me...
Well by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 06:26:31 AM EST
I've got a gphone, so it's pretty easy... if I've got a connection and some battery life left...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Battery life by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 07:07:49 AM EST
In other words, if it was connected to the charger in the last hour.

These things have crap battery life...
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
It's manageable by thunderbee (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 08:45:12 AM EST
You can make it last a day with wifi and GPS off.

Mine is checking mail every 5 minutes (imap and gmail), not syncing cal & contacts.
3G is on, wifi off and GPS off.
It actually almost lasts for two days with no calls.
Which is far from being great, but is still usable.

The "Power Manager" app is quite helpful here.

[ Parent ]
Library by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 01:20:49 AM EST
Obviously I thought they'd block porn but I'm surprised they have a "strict workplace" level of censorship.

What other categories are there as well as profanity and dating?

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It's political correctness gone mad!

Banning Profanity seems odd by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 01:48:29 AM EST
Given that there are books on the shelves crammed with it. Maybe they're hoping the kids will be forced to them...

It was a pretty crowded room so I didn't test what else was banned. Would have been embarrassing if redtube or Way To Suck That Dick had come up...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
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