Year of the Fat Knight. by Antony Sher. Diary of a Shakespearian actor discussing how he prepares for the role of Falstaff. I found it pretty fascinating: he looks at other performances, interviews an ex-alcoholic for little details which he uses. For instance, there's elaborate preparation for the vital first drink of the day, which it's physically hard to get hold of.
Sher eventually decides on taking a somewhat darker approach than most, playing up the alcoholism. He also plays him with a very posh English accent (Sher is South African) as an aristocrat who's come down in the world.
It's very luvvie-ish, though Sher has an angry rant against the word, and how he'd "luv" to see those who use it learn thousands of lines and then stand up in front of a crowd: he takes his job seriously.
I thought it was fascinating, though if you're not interested in Shakespearian theatre it would probably be pretty dull. Apparently he wrote a similar book "Year of the King" about preparing for Richard III: I'll be looking out for it. Extract.
What I'm Reading 2
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Graphic novel about growing up in a dysfunctional family where the father is a closeted gay man. I read the sequel "Are you my mother" a while back: this one is a lot more intense. I found it absolutely compelling: dark but with a few comic touches. Well worth reading.
What I'm Reading 3
The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross. Another Laundry Files book about a government department dealing with the paranormal. In this one there's an invasion of Leeds by an army of elves, who here are a hominin subspecies from a parallel world with a natural facility with magic.
I found it little bit slow starting with another dorky protagonist a bit too similar to the last one. When it gets going though it's really good, with some great military/fantasy nerd detail of how the different armies fight. I absolutely loved the battle between two Eurofighter Typhoons and two dragon-like Firewyrms. Well worth reading if you like the series. I missed out it's predecessor "The Annihilation Score" (found this in the library) will try to get that as there seems to be a bit more developing plot.
What I'm Reading 4
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a novel that's racked up an impressive array of prizes. It's a kind of magical realist/alternate history novel where the Underground Railroad is a literal underground railway, which takes the character through different states where racial politics are messed up in different ways.
There are references to real history but there are deliberate anachronisms and the state setups are more metaphorical than actual. In some ways it reminded me of Watership Down, especially one particular state. If you look up the history, the horrific things are generally things that actually happened just in slightly different times and places. burning slaves alive for entertainment, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, a slave trapped for seven year in an attic..
Some of the details are horrific enough to make it hard to read. Overall it's an impressive, original novel: well worth reading if you can handle it. The only other book of his I've read is "The Intuitionist": that was pretty decent but this is in a different league.
What I'm Watching
Saw Logan, the latest and possibly last outing for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, taking the story into a grim future where he is aging and losing power, and Professor X has a degenerative brain disease.
I really like this one. It manages to take the genre into more serious territory while still being entertaining. Also benefits from a more small-scale plot with challenging baddies: made it more interesting than seeing yet another city-devastating invasion.
What I'm Watching 2
Wonder Woman was a decent enough superhero introduction movie. Didn't seem to make any big mistakes and successfully trod some very fine lines of fan acceptability. It seemed a bit flattered by its 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating though: it was solid but not brilliant. I suppose we gaven't had a movie about an iconic DC character which isn't a massive mess since "The Dark Knight Rises".
Haven't had much time to write a diary or even read much lately. (Last diary was on May 2nd). Toddler's largely stopped napping in the day which means I'm basically working, doing housework childcare pretty much all day every day. Work pressure eased off after we finally, finally, finally got the last release out the door. But in a week or two we start the whole process again. Hopefully we can handle this better, or else either my heart or brain are just going to explode I think.
Sci/Tech. "Smiling makes you happy" result not replicated
How Britain voted in the election, Old and new age graphs. Deutsche Welle: negotiation experts on Breixt talks. How the Tories can win young people's support (Very unusual, most conservative sources are just blaming the campaign and assuming a better campaign and leader will fix things). Two years of young people’s changing voting habits:
So the received wisdom that young people don’t vote is yet another Westminster rule that this election has broken. But Duffy suggests we, "shouldn’t have been as surprised at that as we have been", because turnout was so similar to that of the EU referendum. He suggests that, rather than election fatigue, young people are getting used to turning out due to the number of votes there have been recently.
"All of the academic work does show that voting is partly habitual," he points out. "That once you start voting, you tend to continue voting. We have had three big political events in two years, with the referendum reaching people who don’t normally vote. So the chances of that continuing are increased."
So this Labour-friendly resource hasn’t yet been saturated, and is likely to grow in upcoming elections
The unstated assumption, however, is that tactical success equals strategic success. If our troops accomplish their mission, the thinking goes, then the purpose of their mission must also be a success. But that is an incorrect assumption... If even the commander-in-chief does not know what the force is expected to accomplish, the ground commanders’ efforts are literally shots in the dark. They may kill a great many enemy fighters but achieve nothing of strategic value. That is in fact what did happen. Sadly, such obscure outcomes have become the norm.
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