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2017-04-09 10:08 am

Farewell, LJ

...it was fun while it lasted.
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2015-08-27 02:57 am

The Shepherd's Crown

I think I was expecting that, in a way. It's a lot like Raising Steam, in that it feels like a farewell tour (and it's lacking some of the wry wordplay that characterised earlier books).

As the afterword says, it's not quite the book we would have received if Sir Terry Pratchett hadn't died this year. It's not Edwin Drood - it has a beginning, a middle and an end - but not every question is answered.

And it's a very definite goodbye. To Terry, to the Discworld as a whole, and to some much-loved characters.

:-(
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2015-05-04 06:24 pm

Avengers : Age of Ultron

I quite liked it. However, judging by Tumblr, a lot of other people didn't.

It seems that the criticisms fall into three basic categories:

1) The film wasn't true to the source material
2) The film wasn't very good
3) Elements of the film were problematic

I'm not terribly concerned about #1. No, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch aren't quite the same as the comic versions. Nor are Ultron and Vision. But I really don't see this as a problem. In particular, the comics have already spent decades arguing about what Wanda's powers can actually do, so...

As for #2... it wasn't (IMO) as good as the first one. But that's a pretty high benchmark. The middle film in a trilogy is traditionally an odd one. The Marvel films also have a growing cast - in this case we had all of the Avengers from the first film, plus various supporting cast (and plot elements) from their own film. So, no, the Winter Soldier doesn't get more than a quick reference. Jane and Pepper don't appear at all.

But I'm largely ok with that. Aside from the time/plot limitations, there may well be contractual or availability issues that mean not every actor can appear in every film.

Yes, it's crowded and noisier than the first one - more battles, less quiet moments (or at least it feels that way). But the quiet moments still make an impact and the battles are still spectacular. In the villain stakes, I don't think Ultron's quite up there with Hiddlestone's Loki - but James Spader's voice acting is still top notch.

As for that third point - the 'problematic' elements - I think one is a fair criticism and I'm not sure about the others. They may justify a post of their own later, though...
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2015-02-18 06:26 pm

The first butterfly of the year (2015 gardening, part 2)

The first butterfly flittered past at lunchtime. A red admiral, I think, although it didn't get too close.

More gardening took place today and, although it's probably not that exciting for anyone but me, I'm using LJ to keep track of such things this year. So...

The second raised bed's now clear and the big one's now... getting there.

The nettles got into it last year and getting them out again could be problematic. The roots are tangled, go pretty deep and are only too happy to regrow if the smallest bit survives. We'll see how that goes.

I've also got half a dozen baby potatoes that were hiding in there - at least two different varieties. I can't remember what they were but, if space allows, I'll find somewhere to plant them this year - homegrown potatoes are always good, but I'm also planning to buy more, so the sad looking remnants are not my priority...

The smaller, newly clear bed is now home to Serpent garlic, Early Purple Wight garlic and Red Donetsk garlic.

Which still leaves most of its space for carrots or something else - but probably carrots, as carrot-eating insects mostly navigate by scent and really don't like garlic.

Looking around the borders, the globe artichoke is thriving, one of the daylilies is back (...the other, not so much) and the Babbington's Leek (which I'd assumed was dead after bindweed swamped it) is recovering nicely - given that I gave up and bought two more to replace it, I may need to think of some good recipes.

The first of the Daffodil Garlic bulbs I planted last week is also sprouting nicely in its pot. :-)
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2015-02-15 05:53 pm

Now you see it...

Apparently it's possible to make a entire herring vanish.

Having cooked myself one for lunch, I thought I'd try the River Cottage 'fried skeleton' recipe, which is intended to transform the remains of your fish into something vaguely similar to pork scratchings.

Lots of salt and pepper, a quick rub with a garlic clove (why not?) and into a frying pan with a decent layer of very hot groundnut oil for a couple of minutes.

Initial findings:

1) It's probably outweighed any health benefits from eating the rest of the herring

2) It needs less time to cook and crisp than I'd assumed. Despite the fact I've eaten something similar in a restaurant, it's hard to believe it's not going to be a mouthful of fiddly fishbones, so I overdid it a little.

3) It's a bit wasteful if you're not doing a whole batch and/or planning to reuse the oil

4) Yes, it's tasty. And quite a lot like pork scratchings.
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2015-02-14 04:56 pm

Gardening update - 2015, part 1

Achievements so far:

1) One raised bed cleared
2) Three-cornered leeks planted in pots
3) Daffodil garlic from [livejournal.com profile] davefish planted in pots.
4) Quince tree and apple trees pruned

Next on the list...

Everything else.
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2015-01-15 01:32 pm

Three Stories

House is one of those shows that I've enjoyed for a long time, but haven't really watched in order. Mostly, you don't need to - it's a 'problem of the week' structure, after all, and any arc-plot tends to be fairly minor.

However, as someone pointed out that it's all on Netflix now, I thought I'd make an effort to watch it in order, to fill the gaps. I've just finished season 1, which means I've just seen 'Three Stories'.

I'm impressed. It's a very sneaky piece of writing - a change of pace that wouldn't work so well without the many 'standard' stories before it, as well as a set-up for the season finale. And then there's the mood whiplash...Read more... )
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2015-01-09 11:12 pm

it's a fair cop, guv'nor

An admission: Death in Paradise is one of my guilty TV pleasures.

Yes, it's a bit quaint and some elements of the set-up are perhaps problematic (from a certain perspective it could be summarised as "clever white detective comes to Caribbean island and solves mysteries that baffle the less perceptive local cops"), but it's essentially a 'fish out of water' / outsider / culture clash detective show. And there's a grand tradition of those.

It's also survived a couple of cast changes without losing its identity, as police officers move on (or manage to end up on the wrong end of a murder mystery, in one case...).

Season 4's first episode cheered me up in two ways: with the team a man down, Commissioner Patterson (the excellent Don Warrington, who seems to have a lot of fun playing such a deadpan role) steps away from his desk job and rolls his sleeves up to help the murder investigation.

Secondly, at the end of the episode we get to meet the new permanent replacement for our departed officer... who's likely to shake up the series dynamic a bit, I think. We've now had three seasons of "the boys' club and Camille", but not any more, it seems...
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2015-01-06 12:19 am

Food, glorious food

Unsurprisingly, one of the best things about having a proper kitchen is that cooking's much easier and more enjoyable. I'm also wasting less food, as it's much easier to store and sort ingredients (and to quickly do something interesting with leftovers).

Accordingly, there's a small risk that this may turn into a cooking blog for a bit. If it does, Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should take much of the blame...

So far, though, my favourite recipe this year (from the 'River Cottage Light and Easy' book) has just been a very simple and frugal soup - not as some sort of backlash against Christmas excess (although that's no bad thing), but just because I was cooking for friends with dietary restrictions.

Vegetable stock, Savoy cabbage, carrots, sautéed onions and caraway seed. And that's about it. Seeds and bits of vegetable bobbing about in broth (which picked up a nicely warming sweetness from the caraway). Completely vegan - and no potatoes.

I've been a bit biased against caraway in the past - it's lovely in seed cake, but I'd never taken to using it elsewhere. Probably now time to change my view on that and experiment a bit more, though...
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2014-06-19 09:17 am
Entry tags:

And if rain brings winds of change...

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg."
- C.S. Lewis

Every now and then I look around, look at myself and think "right, must make some changes". A little less often, I actually manage to make some of those changes.

This time, I'm a bit fed up of the house (still a bit of a building site), but have the money to fix it and the time to ruthlessly declutter it. I'd quite like to sort some other bits of life out as well, but they may be trickier to quantify...

I'm feeling optimistic at the moment, so let's see how the current plans turn out.

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2014-06-19 09:02 am
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Toe in the water

So, I hear that Facebook is down...

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2013-11-16 05:33 pm
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Opera?

It occurs to me that I haven't been to the opera for Quite Some Time. As I'm now a little less snowed under (and a little more likely to be in London), this should be fixed.

Any London folk potentially interested in joining me?

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2013-11-14 09:00 am
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ILikeTrains

An admission:

I really like the DLR, especially when compared to the London underground.

And I take a special childish joy in (sometimes) being able to sit at the very front of the train, enjoying the view.

It's a bit like being on the world's mildest rollercoaster. :)

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2013-11-12 09:06 am
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In the violet hour to the violent sound

Looks as if it's going to be a busy week.

Tonight I'm off to Oxford for Intrusion, which is mostly [livejournal.com profile] davefish's fault. Although 'fault' might not be quite the right word.

Clubbing on a week night is allegedly a bad, bad habit - but Tuesday nights have always been goth nights hereabouts. Whether it's been Heresy, Intrusion or The Calling, it's generally been a Tuesday.

(Goth at a weekend has always been some sort of strange luxury. At least when outside of London and Yorkshire...)

After that, it's London on Thursday and Friday. This may involve some horribly early trains. But probably slightly less dancing...

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2013-09-08 09:16 pm
Entry tags:

Art vs. science

A very leisurely Sunday, mostly due to a full Sunday roast.

My current approach to roast chicken is a very simple one - grab something interesting from the herb patch, stuff it inside the chicken and see how it turns out.

For today's attempt, that meant a bit of 'green ginger' rosemary, lots of oregano and a bit of sorrel. Plus a couple of cloves of homegrown garlic. Seemed to work. Even got half-decent gravy. :)

Also confirmed that 'cosmos' spuds (one of this year's homegrown efforts) make decent roast potatoes. May have to grow 'em again in years to come.

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2013-05-25 01:02 pm
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The Name of the Doctor

Spoilers! And a couple of random thoughts about continuity...

Read more... )

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2013-02-11 12:21 am
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Seedy

This year's gardening has officially started, despite the snow.

Aubergines (Szechuan), tomatoes (Black Krim) and Queensland Arrowroot now in the heated propagator. With luck, some of them will actually grow, too (the tomatoes and aubergines were the last in the packet and getting to the 'plant now or never' point)...

Many other things to follow, but at least that's a start. :-)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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2013-01-04 02:10 pm
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This is not how it usually works...

I'm flying out to France early tomorrow morning for this year's snowboarding trip. Just three of us this time and we've gone for the 'cheap and cheerful' option.

I've packed pretty much everything. One glove's somehow gone astray and the toothbrush etc won't go into the suitcase until later... but, essentially, I'm done.

This seems wrong somehow. Normally I'd be panicking and turning the house upside down looking for everything at this point.

The only remaining question is whether I keep the stubbly beard I've acquired over Christmas. Facial hair is always good for staying a bit warmer... but it's not actually looking that cold at the moment, only just below (...and occasionally above...) freezing.

On that basis, I suspect the beard will not be travelling with me. :)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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2012-11-19 01:38 pm
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The slightly nervous gardener...

This is the time of year when I get a bit worried about my plants, especially the new ones.

Pots get moved into the house and I start wondering about watering and light levels. Plants in the garden shed their leaves or simply wither away.

There will be some casualties. There always are - the welsh onions have rotted away in a waterlogged bed. Some of the thyme's gone much the same way. And the Szechuan pepper in the kitchen has gone from healthy to desiccated in about a day (or at least it feels that way...).

New perennials are always a particular concern. An autumn olive bush was planted out a couple of months back and I had a brief panic this week when leaves turned yellow and fell off. Surely it was an evergreen? Thankfully not. But I had to double check.

And then, on the other hand, there's the medlar tree... it looks spectacular. The dying leaves are splendidly autumnal, a fiery red / orange / yellow mix. It was planted this year and I won't get any fruit for a year or two.

But right now, I don't much care about that bit. I'm just happy to have something quite so striking in the garden at an otherwise bleak time.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.