azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 05:23pm on 06/08/2010 under
[profile] bluemeanybeany has the most fantastic Sapphire and Steel vid up on youtube, The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It captures all the eerie awesomeness of the show, while magically making it visually exciting and fast-paced. And for those who like that sort of thing, it has distilled essence of Steel-angst at about 90% proof.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 07:04pm on 31/07/2010
Wolfgang has been complaining for a while that he thinks there are moths in his closet; I privately think small holes in the fabric are what you get if you buy cheap t-shirts from H&M. However, this morning he pulled out a shirt with three dead moths on it, which would seem to be conclusive proof in his favour. I suppose this means we have to buy mothballs, but I have no idea where from.

In other insect news, Wolfgang and Margit, ably assisted by Tashi and her friend Kathi, spent the day extracting honey and ended with a very impressive 30 litres. They haven't got a proper extractor yet, because they're expensive and they've only got three hives so far, so they had to push it through a sieve by hand to separate it from the wax. Fortunately they did this in Margit's kitchen, not ours. Even so, most of the car is lightly coated with honey from when I picked the children up.

Tashi is fascinated by the whole process, so much so that Wolfgang has decided to give her a hive of her own next year. As the average age of Austrian beekeepera is around 70, I confidently expect her to be on the front cover of Beekeepers' Monthly as a thrilling sign of a the new appeal of bees to yoof culture.

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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 03:40pm on 27/07/2010
Just before we went to Sweden, I tried to take some photos of Navarra running around in the mud paddock. I didn't do terribly well - there's always a pause between pressing the button and the camera actually taking the picture - so most of the shots just showed the space where she'd just been, or, if I was lucky, the tip of her erect tail (it sticks up at a 45 degree angle when she runs or jumps).

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azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
Another episode in the Continuing Saga, as begun by [personal profile] antisoppist and continued by [personal profile] nineveh_uk (Part 3 here).

The English gentleman loitering at the reception desk of the Hôtel de France paid no attention when the front door opened and a figure stepped into the dim foyer from the still savage evening heat outside. He had eyes only for Madame Villeneuve, magnificent in a red silk dress, cut to flatter a bosom as soft and white as the pillows of her superb hotel, but, alas, less available for weary heads to rest on, even at a price. Last night, he had persuaded her to share a glass of champagne with him; he had hopes that tonight this magnanimity might be extended to encompass dinner. But Madame Villeneuve, though evidently not averse to his attentions, knew better than to put pleasure before business. Her lustrous black eyes moved away from her admirer and rested on the new arrival, now approaching the reception desk.

"Good evening, Madame," he said, tipping his hat politely. "Lord and Lady Peter Wimsey have reserv…"

What happened next exceeded the English gentleman's comprehension. The stranger had spoken with perfect politeness, but Madame Villeneuve's features distorted in fury and she let out a shriek – no, not a shriek, nothing so ladylike as a shriek. It was a screech; a screech that put all those within earshot in mind of an inebriated parrot.

"Merveeeeeen! You Engleesh pig! 'Ow dare you show your faithless face in my presence! Vas te faire enculer, tu conasse, tu tête de noeud! I weel KEEL you!"

Suiting the action to the word, she produced a loaded shotgun from behind the reception desk and aimed it squarely at the newcomer.

With commendable rapidity, the stranger ducked, and the first blast went over his head. Thanks to the furious tremor afflicting Madame Villeneuve's hands, the second blast failed – narrowly, but in such instances a miss is as good as a mile - to take off his left ear. At this point, the lady had to pause to reload, and the stranger seized the opportunity to effect an exit.

Mme Villeneuve turned to her admirer. "Excuse me," she panted, her bosom rising and falling like the swell of the ocean with the effort of her exertions, "I 'ave unfeenished business," and she hurried through the door after the stranger.

*

Lord Peter Wimsey had been so overcome by the exigencies of the last two days as to actually lower himself to perch on his luggage while he waited for Bunter to sort out the rooms. He sprang to his feet at the sight of his man emerging from the hotel at the sort of speed one normally associated with latecomers to the bus stop, or fleeing criminals.

"Good lord, Bunter, whatever…" he began, but Bunter ignored him in favour of collaring a passing old man on a donkey cart, whom he proceeded to alternately threaten and cajole in a barbarous French that bore as much resemblance to the language of Racine as a Yorkshire farmer's speech bears to Donne. A bundle of franc notes facilitated comprehension, and in no time at all Bunter was tossing the luggage into the donkey cart, and handing her ladyship up on top of it.

"Bunter, I do wish you'd…" began his lordship plaintively, when a red-clad figure appeared in the doorway of the hotel. Bunter jumped into the driver's seat and cracked the whip, and it was only a superbly athletic leap onto the cart that spared his lordship the humiliation of eating dust while his manservant and his wife galloped off into the sunset together. Two shotgun blasts in rapid succession encouraged the donkey to respond to Bunter's desperate urgings, and within minutes the village, and the Hôtel de France, had vanished from sight.

"What was all that about, then?" demanded his lordship, when the donkey's pace had finally slowed and he judged the time ripe for conversation.

Bunter wiped a hand across his sweating brow.

"You will recall, my lord, that when his grace was charged with murder, we were obliged to leave Corsica with all possible speed," he said. "Unfortunately, given the haste, I was unable to find time to provide a satisfactory warning of my departure to the daughter of our landlord, with whom I had embarked upon a rather, ah, intimate acquaintance. It appears that she has never forgiven me."

"Bunter!" said Lady Peter, reproachfully. (Women, thought Bunter morosely, always took the woman's side). "Couldn't you at least have written to her?"

"It wouldn't have done any good, my lady. She can't read. Or at least, she couldn't in those days. She would seem to have risen considerably in the world since."

If he did not add, "None of this would have happened if your lordship had allowed me five minutes for a quick kiss and a grope behind the barn," it was because he knew that a true gentleman's gentleman never, under any circumstances whatsoever, blames his employer, not even when he finds himself well and truly up shit creek, and someone has forgotten to pack the paddles.

"Yes, well, that's all very unfortunate," said his lordship querulously, "but what I want to know is, where are we going to sleep tonight?"
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 04:29pm on 17/07/2010
We are back, as brown as pirates from ten days of constant sunshine and wind (Wolfgang also has a surprisingly attractive Old Sea Dog beard, lightly grizzled with grey, but I've had to make do with the sun tan). We didn't drown, the plane didn't crash, and the children neither starved nor killed each other in our absence. It was, in short, the most fabulous holiday ever.

There are about 24,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago, some big enough to support entire communities, with schools and supermarkets, farms and vets, and others which aren't more than a lump of rock with a tree sticking out. In between, there's a vast array of inhabited and uninhabited islands of every size and shape, and thanks to the Swedish law of Every Man's Right you can anchor anywhere that isn't actually somebody's front lawn and stay the night there. For free.

Here's a map of the archipelago. We mostly stuck to the central bit, going as far north as Ǻngsö (just below Furusund) and as far east as Lilla Nassa.
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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 06:24pm on 03/07/2010
Behind the cut (because I did say there would be a lot of them) baby piccies!

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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 07:03am on 25/06/2010
FAMOSA HAS HAD A FILLY!

She was born sometime last night - Martina found her this morning when she was already clearly several hours old. I am, natrually, rushing over to the stables as soon as I can, and there will be photos, oh yes, there will be vast quantities of photos!
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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 12:09pm on 22/06/2010
Plato kicked the poets out of his ideal Republic because he considered fiction to be unethical and irresponsible. It was irresponsible because it showed things like murder, incest, cruelty, treachery, uncontrolled passions, weakness, cowardice, and malice, and because the characters who exhibited these behaviours were often rewarded by success rather than punished for their immorality. It was unethical because it wasn't true. Drama, in particular, came in for a lot of stick. Plato was willing to give pure narrative a pass, provided it accurately reflected reality (by which, of course, he meant reality as he saw it), but the very essence of drama is a lie, a bunch of actors getting up on stage to pretend to be something they aren't.

Apparently an awful lot of fandom agrees with Plato. Writing must have a didactic function. It must be morally improving (or at the very least socially improving) and it must respectfully and accurately reflect reality. Writing which does not do this is bad writing.

And it seems to me bizarre that this viewpoint should persist so tenaciously in, of all places, fandom. This is where people make up stories about media characters, many of whom (let's face it) are already several quantum leaps removed from any kind of reality. This is where stories are created about tentacle sex, and Aliens Made Us Do It, where 90% of all hot men are gay soulmates who pass the broccoli test, and possess magical healing cocks; it's the home of unbelievably cute lithping kids, and violet-eyed heroines with silver hair, where sex makes everything better and is still terrific after sixty monogamous years with the same partner; it's the place where deathfics have to carry warnings because readers find mortality so upsetting (humankind, as some poet once said, cannot bear very much reality). I would estimate (totally scientifically) that 99.7243% of fic is not about, and is not intended to be about, "reality", in any sense of the word.

Fic, like all artistic endeavour, serves numerous functions, many of which have nothing to do with either morality or verisimilitude, but you'd never guess that from the current debates, in which is suggested over and over again that the only responsible way to write is by strict adherence to "fact" in the service of issues of social justice.

Which isn't to say there isn't a place for morally improving fic, and for fic that rages against social injustice, and for visionary fic that lays out the blueprint for a better world. Of course there is. But these don't set the standard against which all fic should be judged. Not unless you want to side with Plato, and kick the poets out of paradise.

And once you do that, you have no poetry left.

ETA: I've been told that this has been included on metafandom's delicious links, so just in case a lot of people show up, I'd like to add the following:

Experience suggests that not everyone who reads this entry will be interested in discussing realism in fiction. In fact, I'd guess most people will want to talk about morality and the social responsibilities of storytellers. Experience also suggests that when discussing these topics, some people will want to express pain and anger. If that's what you've come to do, be my guest. However, I'm only willing to engage with people who are willing to employ reasoned arguments. If you believe that the insistence on reasoned argument is a tool used by the privileged to keep the disprivileged oppressed, you are welcome to express that view, but there doesn't seem much point in my responding to it.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 08:29am on 15/01/2010
Wow - I put in Stacie from Hustle. The program didn't have that character in its database, but its first suggestion was Lila from Dexter, who's played by the same actress. I was quite freaked by that.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 05:35am on 15/01/2010
Gacked from [profile] reera_the_red

Hoo boy, if anybody needs another time waster, I've got a really good one:

http://en.akinator.com/

It's a kind of Twenty Questions about characters. You think of a character and the program tries to guess who you're thinking of by asking questions with yes/no answers. It's particularly interesting if you think of a character it hasn't got in its database - when I tried Anne Elliot, it got her completely wrong on the first guess, but then came up with Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price and Emma in subsequent rounds before admitting defeat. Bunter was even more fun - its first guess was Bob the Builder (!), then a Captain Someone-I'd-Never-Heard-Of, who is apparently a friend of Poirot's, and then Jeeves. So in both instances it got awfully close, even though it didn't actually have the character in its database (it asks you to add the new character at the end. LPW is already up there).

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