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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 12:42:12 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Museums, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Wolf Hall". Museums: Lowry etc. Watching: "Flash Gordon". Theatre: "Unrivalled Landscape". Links.


What I'm Reading
Finished Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Much-acclaimed historical novel set in the reign of Henry VIII, following the life and ascent to power of Thomas Cromwell.

Thomas Cromwell was a man of low birth (son of a blacksmith), a protestant courtier who sided with Anne Boleyn against Katherine. The book's particularly good at the start, where it alternates flashbacks to Cromwell's chequered past to his position at court. Has lots of fascinating period detail, and manages well the delicate balance between having modern-enough dialogue and style to keep it readable, but preserve some of the strangeness of the past.

In the twentieth century the fashion tended to have Thomas More as the hero (See "A Man for All Seasons" and "Past Master"), and Cromwell as the baddie. Thomas More sided with Katherine and the established Roman church, was executed for refusing to swear a loyalty oath to the new law and succession, and eventually made a Saint. Hilary Mantel reverses this, Thomas More is painted as a heretic-burning religious fanatic, while Thomas Cromwell as the hero only orders executions reluctantly in view of an essential purpose for the greater good. It's convincing enough for a novel, though I suspect the real Thomas Cromwell was probably far more enthusiastic. It seems to be a common trope in historical novels that point-of-view characters become much more modernistically scrupulous. I'm a bit reminded of Richard III in "The Sunne in Splendour" being horrified at the implausible death of the princes in the tower.

However, after a promising start, the book becomes a bit of a slog when the flashbacks cease and we have an interminable series of subtle manoeuvres in court politics. I'd hoped to have more of the Henry VIII story, but it's only the first third in a trilogy, ((spoiler It ends with More executed, Elizabeth I born, and Anne Boleyn still Queen). The second volume "Bring Up the Bodies" is out, the third not yet.

Overall, a superior historical novel: a good read, but I think a clever editor could have cut about 40% out and made an even better book.

Review, review, review, review, review. Daily Mash: All middle class people on the 'Wolf Hall spectrum'.

Museums
Saw a few things at Tate Britain. Their big current exhibition is Lowry. Pretty decent, has a good selection of his landscapes and city scenes, though not much of his early work like the realistic portraits. My parents live in the area so I've been to the Lowry gallery a few times and seen a lot of his work, so this exhibition wasn't exactly revelatory to me. Worth seeing if you haven't seen much of his work before though,

I normally don't like video installations, but I did like the Simon Starling thing in the great hall. A motion-controlled camera swoops and pivots around recreations of various displays they've had there in recent years. No-one else was there when I turned up, so I stood right in front of the screen: was great to see again some of the things they've had there before, like the fighter planes and the runners. Worth a look (free).

There are also a couple of small exhibitions downstairs: Gary Hume and Patrick Caulfield, both bright-coloured pop artists. Good-looking paintings, the bright colours and sharp angles making a contrast with the blurry drab Lowrys upstairs.

Overall, a good time to visit Tate Britain if you've got a members card, there's a lot to see there right now.

What I'm Watching
Saw 1980 camp classic Flash Gordon on disk. Still entertaining thanks to its pace and not taking anything too seriously. Feels a bit dated, though the lavish sets, models and costumes and the swirling gel effects are still impressive. The fight scenes look a bit chaotic and amateurish by modern standards.

I hoped Girl B would like it since she enjoyed similar period film Logan's Run and Supermans I and II, but she didn't.

Theatre
Saw Unrivalled Landscape at the Orange Tree Theatre. A "director's showcase" line-up of six interlinked mini-plays. One of the plays was excellent: a stand-up comedian disintegrating on stage on his first gig after being released from prison. The others were a bit poor to be honest: tried a bit too hard to tackle Big Issues, but failed to be convincing. One had a good scene around a pregnancy bed though.

Links
Socioeconomics. Emerging markets mania was a costly mistake. China exports fall. Who sets the real rate of interest. Do the inflationistas really believe what they say? Taxes and growth. More plays written by women in the suffragette era than today.

Politics. "Wrong about everything": UK Polling Report on public ignorance survey. Attack on Labour’s union links must not succeed, Tory funding.

Dull, technical articles on Stoicism. Stoic Fate in Justus Lipsius. Proairesis in Epictetus.

Pics. Flash Gordon screencaps. Waterworks control room. IBM office 1956. Realistically proportioned Barbie.

Articles. Philip Bobbitt seems too keen to smooth over Machiavelli’s hard edges. Butterfly bombs in WW2. No sexism in gaming. Women's desire is an underestimated and constrained force. Right angles.

Video History of aspect ratios (18min). Bubbleville.

Sci/Tech. Blue planet discovered. NSA has keys to Skype, Dropbox and Outlook. Window vibration audio ads on trains? "Precautionary principle" problems.

Random. History of giant monster attacks on London.

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Wolf Mother | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Flash gets everywhere by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 01:42:47 AM EST
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMzgl0nFj3s&list=PLODKBJUL0V8sk5FMSvb9drF54CkoEr5wS&index=1


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
FLash Gordon was dated by design by wiredog (4.00 / 4) #2 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:52:31 AM EST
The sets, models, and some of the effects were direct copies of/homages to the serials of the mid-30's.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Giant monsters ravaging London by lm (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:15:12 AM EST
Odd that the article didn't mention the trip through London by a brontosaurus in The Lost World which is widely considered to be the first giant monster movie.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Precautionary principle... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:44:16 AM EST
Always depressing when someone allegedly on the side of science ("Tracey Brown is managing director of Sense About Science") doesn't take time out to define the terms they are using.

Have to say it seemed like a bit of a contextless rant on behalf of large companies that don't want to fulfil their regulatory obligations.
Tell tale signs:

Early mention of IR8 with no context about the testing procedures it went through? Check.
Invokation of internet and possible evils (pornography in this case) that could have stopped wikileaks, amazon and apple pie? Check
Tortured logic about why stopping a something because of observed ill effects isn't good (neonicotinoid pesticides in this case)? Check

As usual the elephant in the room is context. The number of things banned or slowed down due to the precautionary principle (for example as enshrined in EU regulations) is in actuality very small. Just because it's a "principle" doesn't mean that it's the only thing used in decision making - indeed the desire to strip it out of the calculus seems kind of bizarre.



Flash Gordon by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #5 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:58:27 AM EST
If Girl B like Logan's Run, but didn't like Flash Gordon, then try the original 1970s movie version of Battlestar Galactica.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
I disagree. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #6 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:25:10 AM EST
The BSG pilot feels more akin to SW Ep. 4, or the Buck Rogers television series. Logan's Run has more flavor from Westworld, Zardoz, THX-1138, Silent Running and the like.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Also has by Herring (4.00 / 3) #9 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:54:09 AM EST
Agutter sans kit - which makes it a great work of art.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
1. Never start a land war in Asia. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:27:27 AM EST
2. Never marry a woman before she reveals her opinion of Flash Gordon.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Yes, but... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #8 Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:46:28 AM EST
Have you seen Flesh Gordon .
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art by garlic (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 03:01:24 PM EST
this week I saw two things that just don't seem to work well at museums. One was a video installation, with no plot, just things happening inexplicably on the screen. I'm mostly not a fan of video installations, though there was a different one shot in an ikea with plot talking about ownership and capitalism, which was interesting.

They also had an exhibit on the comics of Danny Clowes. The art and stories looked interesting, but a museum is a terrible place to read a comic book pasted up on the wall behind glass.


Wolf Mother | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback