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My life continues a bit fractured, so there'll be no thoughtful exploration of a single theme in this post, but once again, a jumble of bits and pieces.  First, just for your pleasure, is a link to a photo of a beautiful white kangaroo

Second, a concert report!  Last weekend I heard for the first time Stokowski's transcription for orchestra of Bach's Fugue in G Minor - which absolutely entranced me for the first ... oh, about two-thirds, I guess.  And then it got a bit muddied, overloaded, too much jam on a piece of toast - which was more down to the orchestra than to Bach or Stokowski, I think, having come home and listened to other versions.  Still - great to hear, and I really was entranced for most of it, and in any case that was only the curtain-raiser to the main piece of the night, which was...
Daimo Eriko on marimba, playing a wonderfully complex piece, Lauda Concertata, by Akira Ifukube.   Here's a three-minute scrap of it, but it doesn't do justice to the excitement and dynamism of the full thing (which is about thirty minutes long).  Daimo Eriko was amazing, all whirling energy and intensity and total engagement, with the piece and with the orchestra, and they with her.  Overall, she and they and the whole experience - brilliant, and very exciting.
(There was some Brahms or other after the intermission, but ... Brahms just didn't cut it after that excitement.)

Third, and less pleasingly, in the category of Things I Didn't Know: 
I've only just learned that "Tonto", which is the name I know for the Lone Ranger's offsider, means "Stupid" in Italian and Spanish, which is really depressing..  :( 
Spanish is the more relevant, I guess, but it was Italian I saw it in, and only then cross-checked to Spanish.  
(Speaking of names, by the way - Reality Winner??)

Last:  Best wishes, UK voters! 

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Oh, wonderful!  I thought, around about mid-morning Saturday.  The people (who are very pleasant people, I haste to say; it's just that I'm a lazy beast) who were invited for lunch on Sunday can't come!  And thus the weekend suddenly opened to reveal ... what is it?  somethings of vast eternity.  Or a day and a half of free time, anyway.  :) I was cockahoop.

So...  I plucked those cumquats which were ready to fall from the New Year's cumquat tree, and made spiced cumquat chutney - and I made muesli bars, too, to use up some over-ripe bananas.  Went marketing, of course, and accidentally brought home a mountain of lettuce, and much green herbage (because it was past ten, and the market-seller wanted to pack up and go home).  Also triumphantly tracked down cinnamon bark, for the chutney, down a market side-street, and generally had a good time.  :)

And then on Sunday I went to visit an aged friend - that was absolutely great!  She is recovering from a stroke, and it was wonderful to see her so much better, so much stronger.  We just sat together for three-quarters of an hour, and drank water, and talked of nothing much - of planting trees recently, and looking at photos . Not a long visit, because I didn't want to wear her out, but a very, very happy one - it was so good to see her, and to see her so strong.  :)

And I took in various media throughout the weekend:

- watched the 27th episode of Nirvana in Fire, which means I'm exactly half-way through;

- read some of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, which is about very exciting things, but so far is not very well or engagingly written;

- and read some newspapers online, of course, which yielded this lovely story (with picture) of a desert turtle.
  What an amazing creature!  And how beautiful it seems in the picture - to me, at least - gold and emerald.  :) 
  Also, I chortled at a word attributed (wrongly, I'm sure - possibly autotranscription from a recording?) to the herpetologist, which suggested that the turtles are excavating underground - making  a second pleasing picture, of a different, totally imaginary, sort! (But now I've been back and they've fixed it up - good to see journalistic diligence at the ABC.  Unless it was the mortified herpetologist who set them straight.)

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I know I promised Shakespeare, but... ah well.  Life's too glum right now to write much of that light-hearted sort of thing.  I did have fun, though, two-three months back, drifting through the plays and through the byways of mildly associated history as I got ready to write, and in particular enjoyed learning about the Carey family, two of whom were patrons of Shakespeare's company over several years.  The story I wrote featured them, tangentially, as footnotes to supposed missing scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream - scenes in which I tried to address the whole disquieting plot point of two very powerful* figures quarrelling (ruinously) over possession of a child - a stolen child - that neither of them seem in fact to care very much about, in himself.
Bonus points for anyone who spots the reference to a Steeleye Span song.

* Especially Titania - Shakespeare filched the name Titania from Ovid, who used it to name one of Titanic power and heritage, as for example, Circe, who says "behold! I am a goddess, and I am the daughter also, of the radiant Sun."

In other news:
I'm trying to be productive - and in pursuit of that objective have actually started knitting a pair of socks!  That is, I've got as far as casting on the first of them, and am finding knitting on multiple needles very very very tricky.  :)

Something pleasant in the animal world - puggles!

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I'll get back to Shakespeare, and vaguely Shakespeare-related notes, sometime this coming week, but in the meantime:

It's been strange and unseasonable weather here - mid-November, and cold!  Even stranger, a few days back, we had a hailstorm, with largeish hailstones - some rounded, but others just irregular chunks of ice - falling from a clear, dry sky.  The rain came before too long, but at the beginning it was strange.

This one's left me with mixed feelings - how grim to live in a society where domestic violence is so common that unions are working on a special leave provision for those affected - on the other hand, how heartening to see the employer group concerned, the National Retail Association, backing the claim.  Their Chief Executive said "As the largest employer of young people in this country, and one of the most gendered industries, we simply cannot ignore the fact that the highest proportion of victims - women aged between 18 and 24 - are also the most likely to be working in retail."  This support doesn't make it a settled matter - but the support is good to hear about.

Old news, but here it is anyway:  As if the year hasn't been long enough and hard enough - there'll be an extra second added in, a leap-second.

Do you recall the noble dogs protecting fairy penguins from predators?  Well, hot news!  The same dogs - well, the same breed, Maremmas - are now putting their watchfulness and valour to work protecting bandicoots!  Go, Maremmas!  \o/

This last isn't Australia, but New Zealand.  Friends in New Zealand, I hope you're all all right - psychologically as well as physically.  I don't think anyone likely to read this is at Kaikoura, but I know that survivors of earthquakes can be really stirred up by even slight or quite distant shocks later, so this is for all New Zealanders affected.
(Relatedly:  earthquake lights captured on video.)

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Life is getting busier and busier in the streets around me - everyone's gearing up for Tet, with frantic cleaning and gift-buying and planning to get back home (wherever home is).  Last weekend, though, Read more... )

For those interested in the diplomatic side of environmental matters: Read more... )

Fandom is bustling,too, with many challenges and fests happening - including halfamoon: 14 days of celebrating women.  I'm thinking hard about what I can contribute.  Recs? Meta? Maybe I'll seize a prompt.  Can't let the chance go by to join the celebration, anyway!

From Ethiopia - the Lion returns.  This, the dark-maned largest lion, is the kind I've preferred to write as aslan in my Narnian fanfic. 

Speaking of Narnia:  over on the NFFR site the Narnia LWW Reread has reached Chapter Twelve, with some very interesting meta, sources, questions, suggestions...

after last week's complex-character exertions ( :P to all those laughing!) it's back to the simple side for this week's character! 

and in the tiny domestic triumphs department:  the last of the missing socks has revealed itself!  My sock-bag is now only holding pairs!

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My internet-handling has gone a bit wonky, so this post is out of order - and due to unexpected circs I'm travelling again, so may be slow to respond to people's posts.  But three quick things before I hastily redd up the house (who knows that phrase?) and pack. 

a new eating experience!  The other day some friends gave me a couple of clusters of a fruit new to me - if you'd call it a fruit?  Clusters of fruit the size of those very small grapes, with dark burgundy velvety shell/skin on the outside, which when cracked reveals a smaller than chickpea sized (larger than lentil) seed covered in thin, dried-out pulp - you don't eat it, you just suck it for the barely sweet, pleasingly tart taste, until the flesh is all gone.  Does that sound familiar to anyone?

and here's a link to a picture worth seeing:  a seal rides a whale.

and here's an article I enjoyed reading:  English weather in literature and art 
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!.  In the first LotR movie, who is the person, seen at 2:28 in this scene  (four and half minute video clip) sitting at Elrond's left hand (between Elrond and the steps) ? He's the only person (other than Elrond and the Hobbits - even Gandalf's up there shouting and gesticulating) who doesn't join in the standing argument.  Is he someone in particular, and if so, who?  (also - is Elrond's pronunciation of 'Gloin', at 0:30, right?  But then - there's no right or wrong with accents, I guess.)

2.  How does one link to someone in ao3?  There's automatic linking when it's a matter of making a gift of a work to someone, but what's the system when it's simply mentioning them in notes?  Solved!  It's the old simple HTML system, with href in it.:)

3.  In Les Miserables, a character is described thus:  "Everything failed him and everybody deceived him; what he was building tumbled down on top of him. If he were splitting wood, he cut off a finger. If he had a mistress, he speedily discovered that he had a friend also. Some misfortune happened to him every moment."  I don't get why the friend is a misfortune.  Can anyone explain?

Good news department: The doctor dances.  (Not that Doctor. BBC link with 69-second video.)

Highly cute department:  Shy Octopus  (Youtube video, 2:30 minute video)

Old but interesting - blind painter  (BBC video, four and a half minutes)  I really like his work.   :)

Editing:  I fixed the first link!  Thanks, Phillipos, for alerting me!

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I've just had Firefox crash and lose a whole nearly-completed post! Gnash!  (and no, DW didn't save it).

So just hasty greetings, and here, have a view of a White Whale.  (Print news story,with short embedded looping footage.)

I hope everyone's NFE stories
are going cheerfully.  :)
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I dreamed last night that I had agreed to write a story (not Narnia - SF, I think) and it was due in two days, and I was thinking, 'Oh yes, two days, I'd probably better start', and then thought 'Two days! Panic!' and woke myself up.  Which I suppose is just plain anticipation-anxiety for the NFE.  I finished writing a letter-to-the-writer, anyway.

But putting that aside for some inconsequential chat:

How about a dragon that switches from being male to being female?  Okay, it's the plain old ordinary lizard kind of dragon, and it changes very young, I think (I couldn't be absolutely certain from the article,apart from in the lab) but still it's "the first case of sex reversal seen in a terrestrial vertebrate in the wild".  So pretty impressive. :)

On the human-made side of things, I really like that the Forth Bridge has been named as a world heritage site.  I have a fondness for nineteenth-century bridges. No, maybe all bridges?  But the nineteenth-century engineering was something else again - just heroic!  Gritty, mathematical, groundbreaking in every single sense, and also playing mudpies/fort-building on a scale not seen since the pharaohs. 

In the world of reading, I've been rereading Kim, and debating with a couple of friends whether it is or isn't absolutely drenched in fairytale atmosphere.  (I'm on the yes side.  Opinions?  or opinions about Kipling himself, if you like.  He's a writer who breaks all the classifications, I think.)  
I've also been rereading, off and on, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, over at the NFFR site - where very interesting theories have emerged about Time and Winter, and much else.

In terms of future reading, a new Chalion-world novel - no, I see it's a novella - has emerged, with demon!  Well, there's an excerpt available for present reading, but in its entirety, it's future reading.  I hope it's good; I thought that The Hallowed Hunt was a bit over-reaching itself. (I was also narked by a character death which I just didn't want.)

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Summer! I really, really don't like the heat, but oh yes, I love the fruit! Right now, in this very kitchen (and the kitchen update comes later) there are:
  • plums - small, sweet, red plums, but not so sweet as to forget that a plum's essential mission is delivering the tartness hit.
  • lychees - fresh! still on the twig
  • watermelon - well, watermelon!
  • mangoes - which drop free from the tree next door! :)
  • and lastly... pineapple! this time, very little ones - just about fist-sized, once peeled (I bought nine!)
So there you go - summertime!

anwhile, in the kitchen... the floods have gone,and the mysterious well has been utterly transformed; instead of a well, we now have hidden under the floor a neatly tiled (around the edges) miniature Roman bath, and leading from it, an open channel cut down through the floor tiles, with two pipes in it, running away to underneath the sink. Which will be covered over like the bath, they say, with all due dispatch - but I have a gloomy feeling that the covering and retiling is going to wait until they can find tiles to match, the tiles which formerly ran along that bit of the floor having been used to tile the hidden Roman bath, of course. What chance will there be, of tiles to match for a decades-old house? I wait excitedly to find out!

Links, links.... here's two from australia, of very different life-forms:

a video of a joey koala, emerging from its mother's pouch.

and some still photos of
an ethereally blue bioluminescent bloom in Tasmania. I especially like the one where someone has walked away across the sand leaving glowing blue footsteps.

Syrena_of_the_lake has curated a second collection of stories from rthstewart's 3SF this time it's the Wings But No Feet (Dragon!Sherlock) collection - so far six stories are up, and I think about the same number still to come.

When I put up the two for Kangarooverse, by the way, I deleted them from my own 3SF post, which left me two chapters short in what was billed as a six-chapter collection.  So I added two more, offering a reason why Susan might have been thought to be no good at schoolwork. (Chapters 5 & 6)

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Today is the day which was set for the re-hearing of the case of Irom Sharmila Chanu, imprisoned and force-fed since 2000 for her hunger-strike protest against the dangerous and damaging Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.   I can't see anything on the internet about what's happening, but if any of you have any spare prayers, or good thoughts (or even political influence!) to throw in, now would be a good time. 

editing to put in these just-arrived links.  Her release has been ordered.  As alocal Amnesty Internation director says:
“The judgement must end the farcical cycle of arrest and re-arrest that this brave activist has faced for so long. Authorities must not detain Irom Sharmila again, but engage with the issues she is raising.”


And here, it's the run-up to Tet - there's only one more full moon left in the Year of the Horse, and then it will be the Year of the Goat.  Shops are starting to fill with Tet-related food gifts, people are bustling around getting their houses clean or fixed or painted, ads on television are taking on a family-reunion feel - and work is starting to (in some cases) slow down, because once Tet hits, nothing much will happen for days.

Meanwhile, a few odds and ends:

I was sorry to read that this innocent and seldom-seen creature, lost, and way out of its depth, has been labelled as "terrifying", purely because it is in the journo's eyes, "deeply unpleasant to look at'?   ("out of its depth" in that it is usually found in much deeper waters - far too deep to be any threat to human beings.)

LJ user asakiyume  (and several other frequenters of these boards) has an e-book in this story-bundle!  The set looks fabulous, and includes several award-winning writers.  Go, indie publishers!   \o/

And just to round off the post, my earnest slog through a serious grown-up's book, the Nobel-prize-winning My Name is Red, is starting (at 120 pages in) to pay off.  I still don't care much about who murdered Elegant (not a spoiler - he starts off dead) nor about the tangled love lives of the widow (if she is a widow) and her suitors, but it  did start to feel interesting about the conflict between art as worship and (Western?) individualism. :)  More reports later on; it's quite a long book!
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Just to group these together, really.

In Argentina, an orang-utan is judged to be a non-human person, and thus to have the right to be freed from a zoo, into a Brazilian sanctuary.  (The zoo may appeal.)

In the USA, a chimpanzee is judged not to be a person, and thus to remain ownable property.  (The Nonhuman Rights Project  may appeal.)

In India, a monkey is filmed working for twenty minutes to resuscitate another, unrelated, monkey which had been electrocuted on railway wires.


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