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17 November 2019 @ 06:59 pm
- I add my chopped onions to the pan, and lo! They are translucent, about to turn golden.

- All the bins empty themselves at a clap of my hand.

- I always start cooking dinner at exactly the right time for it to be ready when I want and not 40 minutes later.

- Partway through cooking the one ingredient that I haven't got magically appears on the kitchen counter.

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Sunday evening was surely a historic moment in the television career of Rhinopithecus roxellana. Not only did it get a star part in the latest BBC Natural History unit production, but then one that had broken away from the chilly wilderness for an acting career got a key role in His Dark Materials.

Seven Worlds, One Planet is very much Sunday teatime fare, focusing on the beauty and behaviour of the natural worlds and its inhabitants rather than the mitochondria. But it has a serious message for all that: the pitch is clearly 'the natural world is wondrous, and we're fucking it up'. No climate change bit hived off into the extra ten minutes bit that can be cut here, it's watching walruses plummeting off a cliff because they ought to be escaping polar bears onto the sea ice, except it isn't there. See also albatrosss chicks, penguins, and Sumatran rhinos. Staggering footage, truly wondrous, truly we're fucking things up.

His Dark Materials - poor Northern Lights, it never gets a name-check, though possibly these days that would be assumed to be a murder mystery set in Tromsø. An excellent start to the adaptation of the Pullman trilogy. I saw the National Theatre adaptation many years ago, so thought that any television version would have to work hard to match up to that, but the fantastic visuals, strong acting (Dafne Keen as Lyra is certainly up to it, Ruth Wilson pretty much my dream casting as Mrs Coulter*), and above all the sense that the adaptation is working with the book rather than against it, is very promising so far. It is a long time since I read the books and I'm not sure how the Magisterium managed to control the entire world as opposed to e.g. China having its own daemonology, but whichever flash bank they've filmed it in is perfect, the compressed blonde wood a great combination of the UN in Geneva on steroids and the Star Wars senate - itself of course based on John Martin's illustration of Satan Addressing the Imperial Council, a connection I feel that Martin and Pullman, but possibly not Milton, would enjoy.

*Whose daemon provides the second golden monkey, though uniquely not a male one, which was spottable by anyone who had watched Attenborough two hours earlier, and confirmed by the Radio Times. Male monkey genitals were apparently felt a bit too much.

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03 November 2019 @ 03:28 pm
New TV version of the first book, Northern Lights on BBC1 at 8 o'clock. I might be recording it for tomorrow on account of I seem to have some bug that is making me ridiculously tired, but the trailer looks great. Here it is.

Here's the trailer:

Now, just as long as they can make the daemons as convincing as the stage version did.

ETA: I will actually be watching it tomorrow, as I seem to have some virus at the moment that manifests mainly in needing to go to bed at a ridiculously early hour, so I'm doing that instead.

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Day 1 has involved Boris Johnson getting booed as he left his surprise visit to Addenbrookes* hospital, and a five minute impromptu speech to the media by a medical student who suddenly found herself confronted with him (and of course moved away for not playing along). 23 year old Julia Simons was definitely someone who knew what she was talking about.

You can watch both here.

Schadenfreude as such incidents bring, there is a serious point, and that is that a general election campaign doesn't allow the PM to hide. He can shirk PMQs, he can shirk parliamentary committees, but a PM in an election period has to expose himself to the public and to the TV cameras. He can't do it solely in controlled conditions, because that is obvious too. And as we've already seen, for all he may have been the toast of the Eton sixth form common room**, without that adoring audience, Johnson doesn't do especially well.

*The Cambridge university hospital, a major teaching facility.

**The very definition of an easy crowd, it seems.

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23 October 2019 @ 07:58 pm
Valparaiso Round the Horne

(I shall post anon about my current viewing of the thoroughly enjoyable Black Sails, but suffice it for now to say that there is a tragic lack of sea shanties.)

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17 October 2019 @ 09:41 pm
I have - given that the local train line is closed for engineering works - bought myself a coach ticket to London for the Brexit march on Saturday. Words can scarcely express how much I do not want to do this. I am getting myself there on the combination that I will feel guilty all day and long after if I don't, and that I will (hopefully) meet up with friends I haven't seen in a while to see myself through it. But I really wish I didn't have to. It's a minor hardship compared to what many people are going through with this complete mess, but it shouldn't be happening at all. I am beyond furious with the whole thing.

Fuck knows what is going to happen in parliament in the next 48 hours.

If there's one thing that tells you how cut-throat academia is, it is that my employer has people who have moved here from continental Europe to start work within the past 3 weeks. Because when it comes to the risk of Brexit vs never getting that job chance again, the job wins.

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13 October 2019 @ 11:16 am
OK, I admit, I can see how, if you got it absolutely right, then shortening lined curtains from the top by moving the header tape would be an efficient way to go about it. And if I were shortening these curtains to hang e.g. 5 inches below a window sill, but if it were 4 or 6 inches it wouldn't really matter, then I would do it.

But I am shortening them to hang* about 1cm above the carpet: there is no room for forgiveness. So I shall do it the safe albeit annoying way that lets me stop half-way, measure to ensure that it is absolutely right, and correct if necessary.

I shall not be doing the hemming by hand, though. The window plus door the track goes over is 3.5m wide...

*The internet also tells me that these days ones over-long curtains should drape upon on the carpet. Rubbish, that is just interior designers who can't be bothered to fit things properly.

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12 October 2019 @ 10:19 am
Eliud Kipchoge has run a marathon distance in under two hours. It isn't an official world record because it doesn't meet the formal conditions*, but that isn't the important part. As with records of this type, the crucial thing is showing it can be done. Kipchoge is himself the world record holder, it will be interesting to see what this means for his own world record condition races in future.

To run 26 miles 385 yards in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40 seconds. Bloody hell.

I haven't yet found a clip of the finishing strait with English commentary, so here's the last minute or so courtesy of NRK.

*The world record must be set in open competition. Also, official races don't include, among other things, a car projecting a laser beam at the road so you know what pace you need.

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17 September 2019 @ 08:15 pm
I've been there. You've been there. Maybe not in every case, but we know what it's like. You tell your Dad that you've nearly finished tidying your room. You tell your Mum that you cleaned your teeth. You tell your teacher that you did your homework, you just forgot it. You tell your University lecturer that your draft essay is nearly ready. You tell your boss that you've really got a grip on this project and all you need to do now is write it up.

And then you manage it or you don't. But you don't bloody do it with the future of the country. And you don't keep it up when you've been caught, at least when you're over five.

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I was not in fact procrastinating when I went out at 9:45am to clean the car windscreen. I was in fact forcing myself not to procrastinate by doing an essential job I had vowed to do today, and which seemed nicer to my neighbours than hoovering at that time on a Sunday. I would hoover next.

It wasn't my fault that the amazing netted sponge thing* worked so well that it actually made me want to wash the rest of the car (also much needed, I usually rely on the rain) and that reminded me that there were some paint chips I needed to deal with, and so I did that, and lets just say that I didn't get round to the hoovering until much later. But I did eventually do some writing mid-afternoon, so that's worth something.

What I rather wish I had got round to sooner though I didn't procrastinate on it at all is a course of antibiotics for the sinus infection that it turns out I have had since at least mid-August. 12 hours was all it took from the first tablet in the evening for me to wake without a headache for the first time in three weeks, and that despite the fact I had picked up a new cold. Aargh! Must remember next time...

*£1 from Halfolds. Seriously the best £1 I've spent in a while. I am feeling very middle-aged just now.

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