2014 — 10 December: Wednesday

Busy chap, me. Books to read; films and TV shows to watch; meals to make, eat, and clear up after; radio to listen to. Mugs to de-tanninate (it's like "decontaminate" if you must know.) Even the design of some home-made Xmas cards to contemplate making (having despaired of finding anything decent in Waitrose yesterday). Now that I have a colour printer, who knows what I may be able to come up with?

So, what with one thing and all too many of the proverbial others, I didn't actually find time yesterday evening to note another four DVDs that had washed up on my doorstep:

Further DVDs

Keen observers...

... will (naturally!) know that one of these films is already in my little collection. Or, at least, it should have been. I felt like re-watching "Smart People" recently. But I've lent my DVD to someone.1 No problemo. I just ordered a replacement for a mere £1-61 (and free shipping).

So I've now seen "Smart People" again. And very good it (still) is, too. I mentioned finding the totally gorgeous Christine Horne a mere three clicks from IMDB's entry for "Smart People". As you can see (if you squint), I also caved in and got "The Stone Angel". I saw "The Dead" — John Huston's last film — when Channel 4 showed it in the late 1980s. And I got "Brothers McMullen" purely on the strength of last week's "She's the One" and "Sidewalks of New York". My choice had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Maxine Bahns is in the cast. Perish the thought. Honest.

As it happens, there's a 1980 film ("The Hollywood Knights") currently still sitting in my Amazon basket. It features Michelle Pfeiffer, not that I'm any sort of completeist. Perish the thought. Honest. Watch this space.


... I've largely been tuning out the seemingly-endless radio analyses on both sides of the Atlantic of yesterday's report into CIA "enhanced interrogation" torture2 techniques, I can still find plenty of other stuff to shock me. For example, I profoundly disagree with Tim Parks on some visceral level. Indeed, although I was shocked and horrified by the first image...

Textual emendations

... in this horribly well-argued piece (as I so revered the Narnia books as a kid) I read the whole thing in growing dismay — I hate having my prejudices hauled out into the daylight and blasted to bits. (Doesn't everyone?) And yet. And yet.

In this regard, you might say that the opportunity to comment on articles published online is an excellent thing. And it is. I do not share the view of some fellow writers that those commenting, criticizing, and protesting are beyond the pale. Often I will find comments below an article (on occasion, alas, below my own articles) that are more intelligent, even better informed, than the article itself. This is exciting, even when it is mortifying.

Tim Parks in NYRB

He could be right, you know. I'm mortified. I need more tea. Quickly.

Is nothing sacred?

It seems the "three ships" that "I saw" in the Xmas carol were conveying the skulls of the three wise men. News to me.

It's possible...

... to deduce from the visual clue here that I scan all my DVD and Blu-ray cover artwork, turning it into JPEG files for displaying on the "big" screen. The physical artwork "lives" in display books on the landing upstairs. The JPEGs live in bits on various SSDs and NAS drives and can be displayed on the PC screens and the Kuro plasma as I choose.

As I was filing away the "Brothers McMullen" JPEG I was taken a little aback to see this wretched artefact...

Badly scanned title?

... on a nearby title. And I was still further taken aback to discover that the artefact is actually printed on the damn' artwork, rather than being a glitch during my scanning. Of course (!) I ended up replacing the title by a piece of Xara typesetting.

OCD. Mutter, mutter.

It's faintly spooky...

... how Ludwig Van B's "Pastoral" symphony simply never becomes stale, no matter how often I hear it. (Link.)

It's been suggested to me that the "Brothers" typeface artefact is/was a deliberate effect. Symbolising, no doubt, the growing rift in the family. If so, I hate it even more. Too clever by half.


Meanwhile, my beloved Oppo BD player threw a transient, but big-time, wobbly for no apparent reason. When analogue kit did that it was much simpler: you ended up with a simple blank screen and/or blissful peace and quiet. (And possibly a few wisps of smoke as the echoes of the bang died away.) When digital does it, you get a locked screen that then pixellates before turning bright green all over, while the amp and speakers are left to deal with what sounds like a high-energy, high-frequency square wave — reminiscent, in fact, of what happened in the days of digital AC-3 tracks on LaserDiscs if you inadvertently directed the RF modulated digital carrier to an analogue input. Or lacked a decoder. Or there was an "r" in the month.

Again, too clever by half.



1  "Who?" would be a jolly good question.
2  Beyond mildly speculating on what might be the detailed content of a similar forensic examination into what Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili got up to. (Just one example, of course. History is littered with "bad" primate behaviour in pursuit of "good" causes.)