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20 January 2018 @ 09:20 pm
Meet the rusty spotted cat, native to Sri Lanka and India. They are not actually tiny, being 35 - 48cm long, but they are the world's smallest wild cat, and a rusty spotted cat kitten amidst some large leaves looks very tiny indeed.

Here it is:

The BBC's Big Cats is a bit of a portmanteau programme, but well worth a watch, particularly when feeling very tired so that something that comes in chunks is quite helpful. The photography is stunning and I feel a sudden urge to go on a safari. It also features a wildlife cameraman with possibly the poshest name in the natural history documentary industry: Hector Skevington-Postles.

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11 January 2018 @ 09:00 pm
Four weeks today to the Olympics! Technically it's four weeks tomorrow, as the opening ceremony is on Friday 9th Feb, however there are qualifying events on the 8th Feb and indeed on the 9th before the evening ceremony. You can see the daily schedule here. It must be pretty galling to be picked for your country's team, travel to the Olympics, compete - and then fail to qualify before the event even officially gets started.

So with winter sport in mind, it's time for some warm-up recs.

(1) Yuri on Ice

In the trackless wastes of A/B/O and AUs of every stripe that you can imagine that have taken over the Yuri on Ice tag on AO3 there are nonetheless still oases to be found. Or at least whatever the winter sport equivalent of an oasis is.*

nothing gold can stay by Naraht
Chapters: 10/10
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Yuri Plisetsky & Victor Nikiforov, Yuri Plisetsky & Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya/Yakov Feltsman, Yuri Plisetsky & Lilia Baranovskaya, Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov, Otabek Altin & Yuri Plisetsky
Characters: Yuri Plisetsky, Victor Nikiforov, Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya, Katsuki Yuuri, Otabek Altin
Additional Tags: Rivals, Post-Canon, Growing Up, Coming of Age, growth spurt, Injury, 2018 Winter Olympics, Aging, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Boston, London, Ballet, Wedding, Russian Orthodoxy

Yuri Plisetsky will never step out of Victor's shadow. Not if Victor has anything to do with it.

Or, the epic Nikiforov-Plisetsky rivalry in the run-up to the 2018 Olympic Games.

This is a rare fic that is sport-focused and gets the feeling of competition right. Much as I enjoy the comedy and the characters, the fact that the anime is about figure skating is also critical to my enjoyment. The sport isn't a random setting, it's a plot driver, and the characters' roles as international level sportsmen is critical to their characterisation.** And the same could be said of the fic: it's long, it's got great settings, and it's very funny, but most of all it matters that they are skaters.

The random and the ridiculous

The new year began with the Tour de Ski, which was nice of it since it also began for me with a viral infection and lying on the sofa watching people zip round the snow was just what was needed. Alas, the fourth race had to be cancelled due to terrible weather. But that was a small price to play for the glories of the fifth race, which thanks to pouring rain and a shortened course due to the fact that the rest of it was covered in the trees that had blown down was absolute carnage. Normally I like to watch people skiing, but every so often it's great to watch them falling over. A lot. (Especially when the UK's entrant didn't - spot him in the blue at the front in the vid.) And so I give you Chuck Norris shooting skiers.

*Untracked powder on avalanche-safe slopes, probably. Not that is much use for ice skaters.

**When I was off sick from work at some point earlier this year I finally caught up with Verdens Beste Skijenter, a series about the Norwegian women's ski team as they were preparing for the 2015 World Championships. Two things stick in my mind from this: firstly, how much if you want to succeed at the top level in an endurance sport you have to enjoy all the associated training as well as the fun parts, because there is a lot more training than anything else, and secondly a serious of responses to a question along the lines of 'who do you race for?' Parents, partners, siblings, grandmother were mentioned, but Marit Bjørgen, the most successful cross-country skier of all time answered in the way that a champion does: Me. Bjørgen appears to be a very warm and friendly person, but you don't get to the top without a ruthless streak.

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10 January 2018 @ 10:53 pm
There's no denying it, the best word to sum up my fic output in 2017 is: small. A grand total of 14,520 words published, and a little more written. Though having just done some counting this is not as bad as I feared, as apparently I have some several thousand more words of the Wimsey/Potterverse fic than I did last January, but overall there isn't much positive spin to put on just not getting stuff done. There were some external reasons for this, mostly that I wasn't well for much of the year and what energy I had went into surviving work and occasionally having a life, but it was also a question of discipline as well, namely the lack thereof.

Some pluses:

- I wrote in three new fandoms (Elisabeth, The Comfortable Courtesan, Four More Years).

- I completed what is by far my most popular fic in terms of numbers, In the Studio, the Eurosport commentators' perspective on Yuri on Ice. What it is to be part of a megafandom!

- At the 'write for yourself' end of the scale, I really enjoyed writing The Whispering Grass. Three thousand self-indulgent words of angsty vampire backstory, also responsible for my discovery of the existence of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania (dating to 1568), and the survival of slavery in Romania until the 1850s.

As for 2018, not a lot so far, but I've started and mean to go on. Peter will solve the Corsican werewolf murder yet! And I might even come up with a title.

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02 January 2018 @ 08:20 am
For the first time in ages I wrote a fic for Yuletide! As per the last couple of times it was a treat rather than doing the exchange, but it was still a fic. 2018 resolution: Do More Writing.

Let's Tell the Press (1852 words) by Nineveh_uk
Fandom: Fyra år till / Four More Years
Rating and Warnings: G, CNTW
Summary: The Swedish media reacts to the Riksdag's love story of the century.

I've written about the film previously on LJ/DW here. Thanks to the recipient for prompting the one story that I could actually write: I don't claim to know a lot about the Swedish media, but you can get a long way on a superficial knowledge gleaned from the winter sports pages and it was fun to do. It's an absolutely tiny fandom - this is the first AO3 story - but that's the great thing about Yuletide, it's the one time when your really obscure interest will find its one reader. Now I'm looking forward to the opportunity to actually read some Yuletide stories myself.

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25 December 2017 @ 08:19 am
This was mean to have two further chapters and be a Yuletide treat. But I didn't get to chapters 2 and 3 and so it doesn't really fit the prompt as I would like and I thought that I would just post it instead. So have some short Christmas Wimsey fluff.

Denver for Christmas? (If anyone has a better title, please let me know!)

I did manage to write a Yuletide treat in a different fandom, but obviously I can't tell you about that!

Merry Christmas!

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One would think that believing that children shouldn't live in destitution in a country that you run if your country is rich enough to avoid it is a mark of basic human decency. But it's a mark that this and the previous government have broken with the introduction of Universal Credit in its present form. A 'simplifying' system that leaves people with no savings, no other resources, without money for food, rent, and heating for weeks and weeks, and that does this as an integral part of its design.

If you think "Oh, it can't be that bad, the government wouldn't think it OK for kids to starve", then read this Guardian article. Because kids are starving, and cold, and living in unfit accommodation in one of the richest countries of the world and it is utterly shameful.

Back at Neo social supermarket, where they had just received a few turkeys they planned to sell for 50p, Wilkes received a typical text. “Hi sorry to bother you,” it began. It was from a mother whose income support had stopped without warning. She had received a letter ordering her to apply for universal credit. “I have literally sat sobbing since 3 this afternoon as I have been told that I will not receive a payment until 27 January and I can’t apply for the advance loan until I get an appointment and I have to wait for an appointment which will take 3-5 working days which means I will not get any money until after Xmas. I literally have nothing and have two very beautiful kids who I have basically failed, don’t have a clue where to turn to as I have tried everything I can think of.”

If my employer said "Hi, we've decided to reassess your salary and now we won't pay you for a month and a half, you can starve for all we care" it would be illegal. But that's what the government is doing, and unlike me, the people who it is doing it do aren't on the kind of salary that has allowed them to save and manage in the meantime. And so they are starving, cold and in some cases evicted.

Petition link here.

If you don't want to sign a Labour petition against people starving, then go and find another petition against Universal Credit and sign that. Or set up your own, it's quick to do.

This is your Christmas message from [personal profile] nineveh_uk

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18 December 2017 @ 08:29 pm
In preparation for Christmas viewing, the past two weekends I have watched the last two Star Wars films on DVD, courtesy of the library.

The Force Awakens

This remains a good solid space adventure that did an excellent job of relaunching the cinema franchise after the second trilogy turned out to be pants. It ditches the cod-philosophising in favour of the Force we all know - the Light Side, the Dark Side, they should be in balance, some people can use the Force to for telekinesis and coercion, enough said. The acting is good, with Ridley, Boyega, and Driver engaging as the leads, and Harrison Ford not phoning it in. There is undoubtedly an element by which it is fanfic of the original, but it carries it off with enough of the familiar to breed affection, and enough difference in the details to keep it interesting. That said, I'm not sure it's a trick that can be repeated, so I'm interested in reports that The Last Jedi, which I won't get to see until next weekend, does it differently.

Rogue One

A reasonably entertaining evening, but from the reviews I recall, an over-rated film. It's essentially a Star Wars heist movie and it's at least half an hour too long (do we care about that battle? No, we do not.) This is kind of fanfic that slips in lots and lots of missing scenes with references to the original, but does it so much that its own story doesn't have room to stretch. The ideas that it has that could make it different - what does it mean to be an unwilling collaborator, what does it mean to be part of a violent resistance movement - are merely lip-service to the concept of a more character-driven plot that doesn't exist here.

Unfortunately CGI Peter Cushing is a bit weird and CGI young Carrie Fisher is really, really weird. Both of them, along with - I am sorry to say - James Earl Jones should have been recast. There are some 80-something men who have the voice of their prime years, but alas Jones isn't one of them and Vader isn't powerful enough as a result. I was amused that the Empire puts its archive on a tropical island planet. With those kind of resources, why not give your Imperial librarians some sun, sea, and sand? Watched straight after TFA it is also very striking how much the latter has done in terms of putting women into minor parts that in the original trilogy and thus Rogue One*. Still, they re-launched a mega-franchise with two films in which the leads were played by women. That is some progress.

That said, one part of the original Star Wars sensibility that I was delighted to see was that just as TFA retains the Leni Riefenstahl aesthetic for the First Order, Rogue One let the John Martin inspiration off the leash. I spent the sequence in which a planet is destroyed going "This was definitely inspired by The Great Day of His Wrath, which I've since confirmed was the case.

* I felt that Rogue One might have ignored that a bit and stuck in some more. OK, characters who appear in both need to be more or less the same person, but there's no reason that more of the random fighters/pilots who don't couldn't be female when you've just done better in another film, and there were several characters who might have been gender-swapped and played by an older actress.

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16 December 2017 @ 06:36 pm
At least it does in cross-country skiing. So congratulations to Andrew Musgrave for his bronze* in today's 15km time-trial in Italy. I'm wishing I'd got round to putting on my Olympic bets rather sooner. It's even made the the BBC!

Best of all, the UK team has finally dropped its mostly-white suit in face of a blue-toned one, so now the skiers are actually visible.

*Less than a second off second place. I would say "Oh, but the man behind had a later start and the splits, so he really got it", but the later starter was Maurice Magnificat who has such an excellent name I can't hold it against him.

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14 December 2017 @ 10:00 pm
Feeling somewhat grumpy after a frustrating medical appointment on Tuesday* I looked up what was on at the cinema other than The Last Jedi (promised to see it with youngest sister) and so took myself off for a de-grumping 6 o'clock showing of Call Me By Your Name yesterday. And very good it is. Not simply a lovely Italian summer**, but a sort of ideal of warm leisured society of a certain wealthy intellectual type*** in a large house somehow mysteriously short of bedrooms in which beautiful young people or at least young people with the potential to become beautiful**** fall for one another. In this case, Elio the musical son of an academic, and Oliver, the graduate acting as a research assistant for Elio's father over the summer.

I think Peter Bradshaw's dead on when he calls it an "erotic pastoral". Bradshaw and I don't always agree, but his review very much captures what I thought about the film. It is beautifully shot, terrifically acted, and very much character-based, about how these people behave in this situation.

The book apparently has an epilogue not included in the film. As it is currently 99p on Kindle and I'm interested to see how it has been adapted, I bought it. So no doubt I shall find out when I get round to it.

*Arranged for tests and referred to different department(s). Timetable unknown.

**Not as hot as in A Room With a View, but presumably not intended to achieve that stultifying impression, and also involving people wearing fewer clothes.

***David Lodge's c haracters might well be as intelligent, but they could only dream of the environment. Well, except Morris Zapp. Now I want a crossover fic in which Zapp turns up and ends up sleeping with both parents.

****Timothée Chalamet as 17 year old Elio is so good that I actually found myself thinking that they must be filming in chronological order to allow them to show the subtle aging of the character over the course of the summer. It turns out that the actor is 21. Armie Hammer is also very good, but I think a couple of years too old to portray the character's elements of insecurity.

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British government policy on Brexit is being run from Ireland. That might be OK if it were being run from Dublin, where the Irish government appears to have a grasp of reality on the subject and would probably be a much better bet than the current lot. Unfortunately it is being run from Belfast, where Arlene Foster is demonstrating quite how much power a minor coalition party can wield in the right circumstances. I await developments with interest.

Meanwhile another contestant in the “Have they got a spine?” show, the IOC, receives this afternoon the latest report on Russian state-organised cheating at Sochi. News on their response will appear this evening. I think that the mostly likely outcome is some restriction of Russian participation in Pyeongchang in 2018, but it’s always possible that cowardice/bribery will win the day.

Finally, the English cricket team must be ruing their failure to bowl Australia out in their first innings. As I have said before, as a team they are capable of putting together a very good session. Unfortunately they appear incapable of putting several good sessions together in a row in order to win a match.

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