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nineveh_uk
Having angested last month as to what to do for a summer holiday this year pending possible (further) crash in the pound due to Brexit, I ended up (1) deciding that yes, I really do want to do a trip to the Canadian Rockies or Yellowstone, and (2) commitments I already have for this summer mean that it won't be this year. Such things need to be the main event around which a summer is built, not squashed in between a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, Norwich, and Götterdämmerung at the Edinburgh Festival.

So therefore I decided that what I wanted from a summer holiday this year was a fighting chance of good weather, time outdoors, and for it to be easy to sort out*, and thus as well as buying the Rough Guide to Banff, Jasper, and Glacier National Parks, I decided that I would actually go back to where I went two years ago - hiking in St Anton am Arlberg, and indeed to the same hotel. Because while it is reassuring to know that a comfy bed, pleasant staff, reasonable travel logistics, and delicious food all await, this leaves my brain to concentrate on the thing that won't be repeated - some amazing hiking.**

Which is why two months in advance I have spent much of today and some time yesterday not doing the things I ought, but salivating over maps and trails and people's photos and write-ups, because everything is on the internet. I had, alas, concluded that the 2km path that takes 4 hours probably involves a bit more rock climbing than I am equipped for, but no fear! Someone has done an alternative route and written a detailed review of both it and the next bit of the long distance path that I did in 2017 and can judge his comments on, and thus I already know that - weather permitting, because unlike him I won't be doing it if it snows - I should be fine. Scree and precipitous paths thereon shall yet be mine!

The only thing it lacks is vampires, but you can't have everything. Though maybe I could be inspired to write more hiking vampires/. And in the meantime, the sitcom of What We Do in the Shadows starts tonight. Plus doing some training, because my fitness is really not what it ought to be for what I shall want to do.

*Something that would be likelier if I had a different personality.
**Plus the Aqua Dome thermal baths at Längenfeld, which I didn't manage last time. I do love giant thermal spas.

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nineveh_uk
...Diana Damrau did it better. Though perhaps Australia's "Zero Gravity" is the Before of which 'Der Hölle Rache' is the After. Anyway, here it is.



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nineveh_uk
Last night being Walpurgis Night, the ROH was doing a thematic cinema broadcast of its production of Faust, which I duly trotted along to, because I like Faust and I've only seen it once, at the ENO, but there was no way I was going to get to a 3 hour 45 minute performance one evening early in Trinity term. The cinema isn't the same as the physical experience, but it's a lot better than my stereo.

And very worthwhile it was, too. A coherent staging (though I'm unconvinced by the random Moulin Rouge cabaret in place of village maidens), well sung and acted, and - not words you'll often hear- a terrific act IV ballet. Having done Dr Faustus at A-Level I like my Mephistopheles (Erwin Schrott) with a bit more edge, and Gounod clearly wasn't interested in making him tormented, but you can't have everything. The Walpurgis Night ballet really was very, very good: whoever came up with pregnant revenant Marguerite was on form that day. But it is a very, very long opera. If I were rich and lived within a 10 minute taxi ride of an opera house, I would watch acts 1 and 2, go home for act 3, and come back for 4 and 5. There is some beautiful music in act 3,but it goes on forever. Kudos to the two students at their first opera, and the tweens with their parents for all sitting through it with patience. I can only assume that it lasts that long because the C19 audience needs long enough to let themselves believe that Marguerite isn't a complete slapper for sleeping with a stranger the first night she meets him.

As for the music, yes, yes, Le veau d'or is terrific, but it's not the only tune in the piece. Actually, I felt it needed a little more oomph, but possibly I'm spoiled by an old Live from the Met recording. Anyway, my heart is given to Avant de quitter ces lieux, sentimental tosh as it may be, here with Fischer-Dieskau here in the McVicar production with Hvorostovsky.

But if I were really, really rich I might buy my ticket for every night and for most just turn up for the end of act 5 and the final trio, because Anges purs, anges radieux is absolutely my favourite part and has been for years*, and contrary to almost every production on YouTube, this one got it right. TLDR: Marguerite, mad with shame and despair, awaits execution at dawn for infanticide. When Faust and Mephistopheles turn up to 'save' her, she recognises the devil for what he is and calls upon the angels to save her. They do.

Unfortunately, what an awful lot of productions seems to miss is that Marguerite (Irina Lungu) is sane at this point. She has a 100% accurate grasp of reality: the devil really is there, her soul really is in uttermost peril, she really does need God to save her, and her course of action is the only possible one with a chance of success.

This is a moment that shouldn't be sung quietly in a corner, facing the back of the stage, randomly spreadeagled or in a trench or mad, but by a character transfigured with understanding, on her knees or rising from them, hands passionate before her as the voice soars above - the classic presentation is what you need, and that is what we got. Though on stage there is the need to give the other two parties something to do**rather than stand like lemons at the back, which was also achieved in this case by having Faust (Michael Fabiano) also kneeling beside her in prayer - but to whom left open.

Anyway, this has turned into a rant and the videos are all fundamentally flawed one way or the other, so at least have the sound courtesy of Sutherland, Corelli, and Ghiaurov. One day I must read Goethe.

Also, while we're on about doing Faust wrong, the whole Gounod plot is nonsense from the devil's POV in terms of cost - benefit analysis wrong here. If he'd just wait for the man to commit suicide, he'd get his soul anyway!

*Indeed it featured in my absolute gift of a question in A-Level General Studies question, which was to propose the programme for an opera concert.

**In which respect though the sound quality is poor I rather like this Danish version in which Faust and Mephistopheles get into a "What the fuck is going on, how did you let this happen?" row while Marguerite ignores them.

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nineveh_uk
28 April 2019 @ 04:56 pm
I knew when I wrote the first draft of the Great Wimsey/Potterverse Crossover Fic (with werewolves) that I was storing up trouble for myself by not bothering to put in specific dates even though as a story in which elements of the plot hinge on werewolves, I needed the various full moons to be 28 days apart. I told myself that I could always shove in a few "Several days later" as required to make things add up when I got round to revising those parts.

And so I can. It's just that I also forgot about Easter, which is quite significant when part of the story in which said full moons are taking place is in March and April, and while Peter Wimsey's Christianity is largely of the cultural variety, he is extremely observant in the noticing things sort of way and could scarcely miss that he was in a church for an Easter service or a Good Friday vigil, and life being what it is someone in fandom would be sure to spot an error. It is really quite tempting to invent something like the 1928 Easter Act actually coming into being in the Wizarding World in 1842. I have at least managed to name my villages after saints who have their saints days at times of year outwith this element of the plot.

The moral of the story: it is quicker and easier to do the hard work the first time round.

ETA: In other fic research news, Napolean's family have some amazing names. I've got to fit a Zénaïde in somewhere.

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nineveh_uk
22 April 2019 @ 07:27 pm
I am back from spending the Easter weekend with my parents in Edinburgh. I had a lovely time, marred only by the fact that I had packed conservatively for the weather and thus had insufficient T-shirts and had to wear a coat on the way home today, and that a sinus infection* kicked off on Wednesday evening, too late for me to grab anything not OTC from home to treat it with. But the weather was glorious, other people did the cooking, and it was a delightful and relaxing few days. Highlights in addition to family included a good walk, finally getting to Black Ness castle, fish and chips, and on Thursday night a musical adaptation of the film Local Hero.

This is a new musical co-produced with the Old Vic in London, and I definitely recommend it. Set in the early 1980s, the story involves a young oil executive, 'Mac' MacIntyre (of the Hungarian MacIntyres) who is sent to the west coast of Scotland in order to attempt to buy up the entire village of Ferness where the oil company wants to build a refinery. The community leaps at the chance of some filthy lucre to make a tough life that bit easier, but as he gets to know the place and the people, Mac begins to have second thoughts that he's doing the right thing...

The music is largely charming rather than going to set the world on fire, but as a piece as a whole it was delightful - funny, humane, and well acted and sung. Like a lot of musicals the second act is a bit weaker than the first, in this case for reasons that ultimately relate to mechanics of adapting the original film, but we all enjoyed it, as did the sold out audience. The Edinburgh run ends on 4th May, but it moves to London at some point in the not too distant future. For those who haven't seen the film, then I recommend that, too.

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nineveh_uk
14 April 2019 @ 11:34 am
I feel sure that there must be a word - probably specific slang - for this, but I can't think what it could be.

I want to describe someone leaving the British army - voluntarily - at the end of a long career. This is taking place in the 1920s. Essentially he's retiring, but while I can use retiring I feel there should be something more precise.

ETA: Solved!

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nineveh_uk
Clearly if Elrond cared so much about his daughter not marrying a mortal he ought to have made sure that she spent at least a year being annoyed by each successive heir of the Dúnedain toddling round going "But why, Lady Arwen?"

OTOH, perhaps Elrond did remember, and that's why Arwen wasn't around: she'd had it up to here with the whole thing, and this time as soon as Gilraen turned up, Arwen packed her bags for Lórien. Which unfortunately meant that she arrived back in Rivendell just in time to think he was rather sweet, if not particularly interesting to her personally, as a handsome twenty year old who was feeling pretty good about himself after performing great deeds in company with his (many times removed) cousins, and then think "cor, he turned out all right" when they met another thirty years later. Which to my mind Galadriel definitely arranged.

Yes, I am slowly making my way through the Appendices.

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nineveh_uk
09 April 2019 @ 09:55 pm
For a summer holiday, should I just book a week in a hotel for hiking in the Alps now against the prospect of the pound crashing on Friday, or do I hope the pound won't crash (any more) until December, and go on a more expensive holiday (which would involve more thinking about that I haven't done) that I won't be able to when the pound has crashed next year? Decisions, decisions.

In other news, [personal profile] antisoppist acted as enabler in the purchasing of this splendid Orrefors jug that was in the window of Oxfam at the weekend. It is now installed on the 'interesting objects' shelf of the bookcase. I may allow myself to use it from time to time. It is beautifully balanced, and the green glass reflects in the water when you pour. Perfect condition, £50, against three times that much new. Clearly there is not much market locally for Swedish glassware.

Orrefors Nobel jug

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nineveh_uk
02 April 2019 @ 07:05 pm
So the big plan after is to do what she should have done three years ago, talk to other parties - and then blame Labour for nearly three years of Tory failure. Got it.

Let's remember, this was a 7 hour cabinet meeting, for which there is no way they weren't all but strip-searched for their phones, their spare phones, their agents' phones, and their kids' phones, and then corralled in Number 10 until after the PM's statement, because it is very, very plain that the cabinet can't be trusted.*

Labour would be insane to agree to any plan not 'signed off' by a referendum. Unfortunately they** are led by Jeremy Corbyn.

*Oh Nigel Boles, I never heard of you before today, but for you interview stating that the next Tory PM cannot be someone who has been a member of the cabinet for the past three years due to [insert list of flaws and failings here] I will nonetheless dredge up some respect.

**We, because I haven't yet resigned despite everything because I won't yet let the bastards win and I intend to be there to vote them out, though my subscription is down to the bare minimum.

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nineveh_uk
01 April 2019 @ 01:07 pm
Fic: A Lady High and Valiant by [personal profile] nineveh_uk
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R.Tolkien
Rating: G, CNTW
Chapters: 1
Length: 1316 words
Summary: And Éomer kissed his sister and saw that though she wept, yet it was but the weeping of grief for one who had been as a father to them, and though her shield-arm lay still in a linen sling, her face showed a woman hale and full of hope. Éowyn and Éomer meet again in Minas Tirith after the crowning of the King.

The main lesson of this fic is that I should have done a keyboard shortcut for É when I started writing...

Still at home feeling rubbish. I did actually get dressed for work today, as I am supposed to be on a training course, but I felt too horrendous to actually leave the house and went back to bed.

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