Finished Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, partly listened to the free Librivox audiobook, partly read it on my phone.
(I'm commuting as either a 40 minute walk or a 5 minute train ride, so have much less time for reading now. If it's practical to read ebooks on Google Glass, that's one thing that could turn me into a Glasshole.)
It's a classic romance/adventure novel. Complaining that it's full of clicés would be like complaining that Hamlet is full of quotes: best just to enjoy the colourful panoply of noble knights, whimsical jesters, sinister Templars, jovial monks and blindingly obvious secret identities. Entertaining and good fun despite its age, I was surprised to see it was from 1820 and would have pegged it as late Victorian.
Librivox audiobook has several different readers and is a bit uneven. Starts off well read by Kristin LeMoine who has a pleasant voice although sometimes stumbles over pronunciation, but some later readers struggle or sound bored.
Definitely worth a read: it's fun, influential and free. Wikipedia.
What I'm Watching
Saw the new-ish Baz Luhrmann adapation of The Great Gatsby. Pretty much what I expected. Lavish visuals including the stylish party scenes. Lots of anachronisms, not just the hip-hop soundtrack but also references to "tabloids": I think they're trying to make it a bit about modern celebrity culture.
What I'm Watching 2
Saw Riddick on disc. OK sci-fi action movie, reasonably well set up and decently paced. Felt a bit sorry for Katee Sackhoff, relegated to a terrible role as a we're-told lesbian who has to strip off and then be implausibly Turned by Vin Diesel.
What I'm Watching 3
The Emperor and the White Snake. Reasonably entertaining fantasy movie with Jet Li and others, about a snake demon who falls in love with a herbalist. Bit over-the-top with the CGI, but quite fun.
What I'm Watching 4
Saw the much-acclaimed 12 Years a Slave. Harrowing movie about a free man abducted and sold into slavery. Apparently it's unusually accurate about the reality of slavery. (With the exception of depicting the non-slave-states as havens of equality). Certainly has good performances and a powerful storyline, well worth seeing.
Saw King Lear at the National Theatre, with the ubiquitous Simon Russell Beale in the title role. Liked it a lot. Beale turns in another great performance: I loved the plaintive baby-like thrashing motions he did as they took his blanket away and prepared to move him from the hut in the storm.
Production wasn't too gimmicky: modern dress but they didn't seem to be trying too hard for An Angle on the text. Good performances all round, with the blinding of Gloucester particularly harrowing.
Went to Tate Britain and managed to check out the current exhibitions. Folk Art is an eclectic collection without any particular theme. It includes a collection of ship's figureheads, handmade trade signs, some outsider art like Mary Linwood elaborate needlepoint renditions of classical art.
I liked it a lot, the ship's figureheads alone were worth the admission, and there's a lot of colourful impact.
Also saw the Kenneth Clark exhibition of items from the collection of the scholar/collector/director best known for presenting the TV series "Civilization". Another eclectic collection, ranging from 5ht century Coptic weavings to lots of Henry Moores via Impressionists and everything in-between. Another good place to wander around and see a variety of great artworks.
Took the baby with us. Child count: 1.
- Been busy with the new job, not much time to read.
- My uncle died recently, I'm going to the funeral next week. Very sad that I didn't get to spend time with him recently: he was a great guy, generous, a talented graphic designer and artist. Very good memories of staying with his family as a kid.
- Finally lost the weight I put on around Xmas and didn't have the energy to lose with the baby and job stuff. Back to my usual weight for now.
- Baby goes into nursery (daycare) for a settling-in week next week, and full time the week after. Current problem: he's stopped drinking milk from a bottle though he'll take it from a cup and breastfeed. Probably the result of teething, the bottle can hurt apparently, but it's bad timing since this is when he really could use a bottle.
Socioeconomics. Myths of disruption: "In the longer term, victory in the disk-drive industry appears to have gone to the manufacturers that were good at incremental improvements, whether or not they were the first to market the disruptive new format." UK productivity puzzle (big PDF). Graph: Percentage of Bachelorâ€™s degrees conferred to women, by major (1970-2012). Statistically, what are "British values"?
Local. Twickenham at war.
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