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nineveh_uk
11 March 2019 @ 06:00 pm
To those disappointed with David Tennant's look for Crowley in Good Omens I have two things that may, as Mary Bennett almost put it, pour the into the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of fannish consolation.

(1) He does look incredibly like those Medieval paintings/MS illustrations of the Serpent with flowing locks. It's an informed choice, if not going to be everyone's favourite choice.

(2) If I'd been the costumer/make-up designer, and it was my headcanon, you'd have had him looking like Trevor from The Good Place with just an extra dash of 80s estate agent. I'm not kidding. Think how much worse it could be!

While I'm on the subject, a rec. I don't particularly ship Aziraphale/Crowley, but how often do you get a fic that includes fake articles from Sight and Sound about the Derek Jarman film "Sodom: On the Head of a Pin" and a fake Anglo-Saxon article with yr actual Anglo-Saxon?

such surpassing brightness at AO3

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nineveh_uk
01 March 2019 @ 05:00 pm
I have completed (and passed) the University's Information Security online test. It was as boring as you'd expect. I do have two comments.

(1) I am amused that "not surfing the internet at lunchtime" is of course the wrong answer as to how to avoid data security breaches. Work as no interest in stopping us surfing the web as long as we do it safely.

(2) I am a little puzzled that the test asked what the supervisory authority for data privacy is in Germany. I suppose it could have been a cunning ruse if all the offices in each EU country are called the same thing, except that even so they won't be called it in English. I suspect an C+P error...

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nineveh_uk
28 February 2019 @ 11:36 am
So on Tuesday the Eurosport commentators made a sarcastic comment about Johannes Dürr, Austrian skier, EPO doper, and accidental inspiration for my fic In the Studio having fallen on a needle. Yesterday Austrian police raided team hotels in Seefeld where the cross-country skiing world championships are being held and apparently literally caught one of the five skiers arrested with a needle in his arm for some good old-fashioned blood doping. I am Not Impressed (by the skiers. Evidently criminalising doping has worked out quite well for the Austrian police).

It's the cross-country world championships in Seefeld, which is providing the perfect relaxation for me after work during a week when I've been feeling a bit tired. Doping scandals aside, it's proving a great competition. Ridiculous weather, occasionally ridiculous courses, good crowds, and fabulous skiing with gripping races.

Oh yes, and ridiculous clothing, with the British competitors yesterday bringing what Clueless described as 'exploring the challenging world of bare midriffs' to the sunny tracks. Andrew Musgrave demonstrates below.

Andrew Musgrave (cross-country skier)

Not a ridiculous result, though; a pretty amazing 8th place. When it's 16C or whatever it was yesterday, it probably helps to have spent your teenage years skiing in slush.

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nineveh_uk
20 February 2019 @ 06:47 pm
In three and a half weeks I am going on holiday. I am ridiculously excited about this, of course. The day begins with checking the weather. I check webcams regularly while at work. I Google images of random mountains. My latest discovery is the website Bratte områder Norge*, which tells you how steep a mountainside is, and by implication its avalanche potential. I gaze at it like an archetypal 60s teenager and a poster of their pop idol. I order new clothes on the grounds that this is reasonable given the fact that it is 16 years since I first went skiing, and the things I bought then are getting a bit past it - namely my jacket has lost its waterproofing, my fleece doesn't fit under my lighter weight jacket, and my gaiters got been left behind at a hotel somewhere.

I am also supposed to be improving my fitness. Unfortunately, as I have a slight bug of the sort that isn't serious, but I don't want to encourage, I am avoiding the exercise bike and anything that might strain me much. Aha! I thought. I shall do strength exercises. Which is why yesterday I apparently did far too many squats, and my thighs are absolutely killing me. Forget about the cold hillside, I can scarcely walk downstairs!

*Norway: the steep bits.

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nineveh_uk
12 February 2019 @ 05:41 pm
My parents are due to arrive on Thursday. Naturally I have thus spent a substantial proportion of the non-work element of the past couple of days cleaning and tidying. What I resent about this is that it isn't like my parents' current state of impressively spick and span was the norm when I was living at home! We were reasonably clean and tidy in the way that I am reasonably clean and tidy, and yet when they visit now I feel I must be in a state of perfect cleanliness, and that tidiness that can be achieved by shoving everything in drawers... Though I did have a useful hour at the weekend reducing two boxes of collage fodder/memento papers to one, thus allowing me to put emergency Brexit pasta supplies in the other. I have almost reached the point of thinking it is time to buy the tinned fish. Almost. Honestly, I think that one might just go by. Instead I am doing what is surely the archetypal middle-class Brexit panic and buying extra olive oil, and discount Green & Blacks. I am on holiday for a week in mid-March*, I can't leave it to chance!

On the plus side I have got to do this to the Alpine skiing world championships, which saw that very rare phenomenon in sports: two great competitors get to go out on a high with a medal, and yet not too early either. It is impossible not to like Aksel Lund Svindal. Lindsay Vonn I have to admit I find rather harder to appreciate - among other things, she has had times of being an obviously bad loser, which is never attractive in a person who wins a great deal - but she deserves significant credit for being prepared to say frankly she would refuse an invitation to the Trump White House prior to the Olympics, and dealing with the inevitable large amount of flak for it. And her talent and skill speaks for itself.

So, farewell runs to both.




*And checking the webcam obsessively, of course.

ETA: Tidying the bedside/medicine cabinet. I'm definitely not going to need to stockpile medicine, I seem to have a habit of making sure I have a fresh packet of paracetamol/plasters every time I go on holiday...

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nineveh_uk
10 February 2019 @ 09:44 pm
I have spent much of today (once I recovered from some annoying dizziness in the morning, thank you ridiculous skull), framing a print* that I bought in December. Since going to get it framed felt like too much like hard work and also, like everything in Oxford, promised to be expensive, I bought a cheap frame that included a mount of the wrong size, and decided I could cut the mount down. Which I could, except even with the right tool, which I have**, hand cutting a mount is a pain in the neck and not something I'm great at. With measuring, cutting the mount, cleaning the glass, and assembling the damn thing it all seemed to take much of the day. I did get it done in the end though, and managed to move things round without needing to put up more picture hooks.

This rather trying experience, a recent one of my Mum's concerning a print she made in a class in the autumn, and the fact that I would like to get back into doing some visual art, caused me to reflect on the words of an artist from whom my parents bought a lino print a few years ago. Namely that everything he did for sale, he made of a size to work with a standard Ikea frame frame and mount.

I will definitely be following this example in future!

*It manages to be an oddly accurate representation of my sisters and me, if you are generous in the length of my hair. OK, about 15-20 years ago, peak Regency nightdress fashion :-)

**Well, technically it is my sister's, but it's in my house.

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nineveh_uk
06 February 2019 @ 02:28 pm
This train of thought is brought to you by the black swans Aragorn spots flying across Anduin, and the black-feathered orc arrows mentioned early in The Two Towers.

Thought one: what are black swans doing in the service of Sauron*? Are they a sign that the Numenoreans discovered the Middle Earth equivalent of Australia and brought back ornamental birds? Is Aragorn's ornithology or eyesight lacking here, or is he indeed being metaphorical and they are not black swans at all, he is remarking on an impossibility? Or just as the Company are mistaken about the eagle-that-wasn't-evil, are the swans not evil at all, but fleeing the bondage of Sauron?

Thought two: if Mordor-Orcs have black-feathered arrows, where are they getting the feathers from? Are they dyed? It's possible. Unlike the black horses, stolen from Rohan, it is probably easier to dye a vat of feathers than a horse, and it hardly seems beyond Sauron's technological powers. We know that the Nazgul's cloaks remain a sinister black despite a journey to Eriador that has left Boromir's rich clothing travel-stained.** But you still need to acquire the feathers.

According to the internet (and the people who wrote the books that get referenced on the internet), goose feathers were used for arrows in Medieval Europe, and in staggering numbers:

Arrows were fletched with goose feathers, which were collected from the peasantry as a form of tax. In 1418-9 Henry V ordered his sheriffs (the royal officials in each county) to collect a total of 1.19 million goose feathers over the course of 10 months, to be delivered to the Tower of London by Michaelmas (on Sept. 29). A similar though smaller order, two years earlier, specified that six feathers should be taken from each goose. (Source.)

That's a lot of goose feathers.

So where is Sauron getting his feathers from? There is no mention of terrible depredations of poultry sheds throughout Wilderland or Ithilien. Is he taking them as tribute from the lands further east? And what of the orcs of the Misty Mountains? Is there a thriving trade (through intermediaries, perhaps) between Moria and the little-known poultry sheds of the Sea of Rhún? And are they goose feathers at all, since other birds can be used, and Sauron is cutting out the dye manufacturers by using black swans?

Which brings me to the Sea of Núrnen and its surrounding slave-tilled fields that feed the armies of Mordor. We're told that it's a "bitter inland sea", so possibly its tributaries rather than it are used for irrigation. In which case, why not use the lake for other things? In short I vote for giant goose (or possibly swan) farms. The resultant guano-based fertiliser can explain the famous stench of the Mordor air.

*And has anyone ever written the Dr Doolittle crossover? What with bird spies who must be given instructions and have their reports understood, and their impressive achievements in training wolves as riding animals, I feel that some at least of the servants of Sauron might have a new Fourth Age career in the entertainment and industrial espionage industries.

**Speaking of which, if Boromir got off on the wrong foot with the Council of Elrond at times, maybe it would have helped if, having turned up at dawn with news of a prophecy, they had put it off for 24 hours to allow him time for a good night's rest and a change of clothes. Especially since they spend the next two months hanging around there.

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nineveh_uk
03 February 2019 @ 10:55 am
French-Quebecois musical Notre-Dame de Paris made a flying visit to London last week, and [personal profile] antisoppist and I went to see it. I was a bit anxious in advance as to whether I would actually enjoy it as it sounded completely bonkers, but although it is indeed completely bonkers it was also thoroughly enjoyable, and very French*. You can tell it's French because it begins with a treatise on how this is the age of cathedrals, and also because the music just has that faint air of Eurovision, and because you wouldn't get a British show like it in a million years. It's not just the acrobats, or the way that it doesn't really care that much about the show as characters/plot very much (especially plot), but rather of Notre-Dame/Paris the community, or the way that people sing their soliloquies to a background of dancers expressing the singer's inner torment (some of them wearing very little), and that all the male characters except Clopin are basically terrible,** even Quasimodo at times, it's all of it together and somehow it works.

To be honest, [personal profile] skygiants sums it up better than I could:

Notre-Dame de Paris the musical does not care about plot. Notre-Dame de Paris the musical cares about FEELINGS and DIGRESSIONS. Gringoire and Frollo singing philosophically about architecture and the printing press gets four and a half minutes; the trial of Esmeralda takes ninety seconds.

It's actually the second musical adaptation of the same story that I have seen. The first was the American/German musical based on the Disney film, which I saw 2 years ago in Berlin. It's more batshit but I think also better. They are extremely different, this one being infinitely more batshit, but - and I say this as someone who hasn't read the book - I wonder if it isn't a more faithful adaptation of the story. Though the other version definitely has the winning song.

It is weird, it is French, it is immensely entertaining, I am very glad to have seen it, I'm not sure that I would need to see it again, and it made me want to read the book. Recommended.

Have the trailer:



And the best Hunchback song, the original Hellfire:



*As was the audience. They probably brought some new blood to a non-English language musical, but mostly they brought lots of people delighted to get have their favourite show accessible to them. Which is also excellent from my POV because I suspect that the powers that be in musical theatre funding are more likely to do short runs to be attended by everyone French/German/Russian in the area than to do a new production.

**Though even so not as terrible as in the book, in which, Wikipedia tells, me, Gringoire does not save the life of Esmeralda, but does save her pet goat, which he likes more than he does her. The mind boggles.

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nineveh_uk
28 January 2019 @ 09:03 pm
Realising that you have been inconsistent in your use of the second person pronoun in an annoying way.

Also, what on earth am I going to call it? Tennyson would work, but is unsuitable. Suspect I shall fall back on some sort of 'extract from the Tale of Years' theme. Of the need for a summary, I shall not speak.

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nineveh_uk
Some years ago, in a minibus on the Gudbrandsdal, I spotted a memorial to what appeared to be some random Scottish solders. And later I looked it up and it turned out to be the Battle of Kringen in which some Norwegian farmers attacked, captured, and subsequently slaughtered 300 Scottish mercenaries en route to Sweden. This did not cause a diplomatic incident on account of King James VI/I being unimpressed that they were there at all, on account of how he was supposed to be allied to Sweden's enemy, Denmark. The National Archives have more of that.

Anyway, I looked it up again the other day as I am heading to that part of the world again in March and discovered there was a ballad, and coincidentally it got mentioned on fail_fandomanon and I thought I should listen, and I did and it is brilliant.

(1) In a dialect called Gøtedansk, AKA Faroese Danish with the consonants reinserted and thus more comprehensible.



(2) The metal version. Actually less metal than the previous one. This band are also Faroese. Clearly the Faroes like their ballads of slaughter, I can't complain.



There is also the community hall version - impressive knowledge of the lyrics, and the usual unimpressed teenagers. Or with female voice in Norwegian this time. Oh wait! Female voice with jazz accompaniment. Like you do.

Lyrics in Norwegian and English here and more modern here.

TL:DR Never go up against a bunch of Norwegian peasant farmers when death is on the line!

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