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23 May 2019 @ 09:34 pm

Four women standing in a row wearing from left to right a black mini dress, a knee length green floral affair, an orange full length floral affair, a black and white dress with a pink jacket.
My father's sisters and niece at our wedding. The photographer obviously found the combined effect of my aunts' clothing choices hysterically funny (though he mostly restrained himself). It has to be said that the close juxtaposition of my two younger aunts' choices is unfortunate, but I'm reminded of many similar dresses owned by both my grandmothers. I doubt either of my aunts made their dresses, but my grandmothers did and there is a certain memory here of a time when dresses were made at home from simple patterns in cloth with striking prints - a style of dress much out of fashion in our current times.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/582889.html.
22 May 2019 @ 08:00 pm
Reading: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Seanan McGuire's name comes up a lot in my corner of the Internet so I thought I would give one of her books a try. It's another urban fantasy detective novel. Its main protagonist is a changeling rather than a wizard but otherwise it doesn't seem greatly different from the rest of the genre.

Listening: I have been struggling with the Machine Ethics podcast - mostly that it randomly won't actually play, but eventually decided that maybe the problem was only the early episodes and so skipped ahead to the point where it started interviewing people I had heard of and, in many cases, knew. I'm not sure I'm necessarily learning much but it is interesting hearing relevant people given space to talk.

Watching: We watched Aquaman. I was tempted to say it was "very linear" which was also my criticism of Wonder Woman, but I'm not sure that's exactly true. Both feel to me like they have a certain simplicity of story where MCU films tend to have more complexity but I'm struggling to place my finger on what exactly it is that gives me that feeling since plenty of the MCU films, particularly their origin stories, are quite linear in conception.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/582125.html.
20 May 2019 @ 08:13 pm

A large wooden kitchen table and chairs
While I was away our new custom-made kitchen table was delivered.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/580885.html.
It has become moderately fashionable to criticise Eric Saward stories and, indeed, they exhibit a number of features that seem questionable when viewed from the general sweep of Doctor Who history: they tend to be graphically violent, feature plot lines that resolve in pointless deaths, are more interested in their supporting cast than the Doctor and his companions, and show a disturbing fondness for ruthless space mercenaries being ruthless. On the other hand, one can argue that they are also Doctor Who's first attempts to at high octane action stories. I'm sort of in two minds about that last claim since I think a lot of the UNIT era was reaching for the same thing just in the context of the 1970s rather than the 1980s but it's certainly true that Saward's stories tend to involve ambitious action set-pieces and their large supporting casts tend to be in service to a sweeping vision of squads of soldiers caught up in various kinds of war with a clear intention to both provide action-filled excitement and depict the horrors of war and the reality of violence.

When we watched Earthshock I thought it had an exceptionally good first episode and went downhill after that. I think there is lots to be said for the first episode of Resurrection of the Daleks (as shown, so 45 minutes) and while the second episode isn't as strong as the first, it actually remains pretty solid. You do need to allow for Saward's quirks - the effects of the poison gas deployed by the Daleks to take over the space station are unnecessarily unpleasant and this isn't a story many people get out of alive. That said the deaths of the supporting cast mostly are not pointless, as they edge the story closer to the final solution where Stein manages to blow up the space station. Even poor old Chloe Ashcroft's somewhat pointless death of her, frankly, somewhat pointless character Professor Laird is at least in service of a traditional Doctor Who capture-escape sequence. The Doctor and companions are also somewhat sidelined- the interesting action is happening on the space station and the Doctor doesn't even get there until the start of episode 2, promptly gets captured and then, in a moment that is not his finest hour by any means, decides he needs to kill Davros (as Tame Layman pointed out, this wasn't a good plan, or at least not if he was going to wimp out of it once he actually got there).

However, from the perspective of a 1980s take on a base-under-siege story Resurrection of the Daleks works pretty well. The story's characters mostly are not as unpleasant and nihilistic as they can be in Saward's work. I was genuinely rooting for the small group of survivors creeping around trying to get to the self-destruct console. Lytton's increasing frustration with the way the Daleks are bowing to Davros' whims is well-drawn and the factionalism and politics within the Dalek forces are an interesting (and at this point novel) twist - though it is odd that, after a story in which the Daleks repeatedly over-rule Lytton's advice to get away from the space station as quickly as possible because Davros is so important to them, they more or less turn around and say "stuff Davros, someone go hill him".

One can't help feeling that if Saward's sense of humour had not been quite so dark and his outlook at little less nihilistic (or at least his seeming tendency to get bored of characters and bump them off had been a bit better controlled) then his reputation would have survived the test of time better. Doctor Who needs its exciting action tales with fights and explosions as well as its more gentle and whimsical fare and when Saward was on form he was better at delivering this kind of thing than anyone else writing for Doctor Who in the early 1980s.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/580498.html.
11 May 2019 @ 03:08 pm
DWM Issue 334 was entirely devoted to the relationship between Doctor Who and the equally long-lived and hugely popular children's magazine show Blue Peter. A number of the accompanying illustrations were of the Blue Peter Doctor Who Theatre which awakened in me a vague sense of memory. It appeared on the show in 1977 when I was 6 years old so there is a very good chance I watched those episodes, but whether that sense of familiarity arises from that specific event or just that many things were made on Blue Peter over the years, many of which I intended to make myself, and none of which I ever actually did (Oh how I intended to make a Blakes' 7 teleport bracelet out of an empty drinks bottle! I definitely remember that!).

Any way several photos under the cut.

Photos of the Blue Peter Doctor Who TheatreCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/579370.html.
10 May 2019 @ 08:43 pm
OK, so this isn't remotely random because I've not yet had a chance to throw a bunch of fossils into my random picture generator. However I was due to post this month's Dinosaur of the Month to primeval_denial, so have a Mosasaur.

Mosasaurs were a group of marine reptiles that flourished in the late Cretaceous. They were the dominant marine predator following the extinction of ichthyosaurs and pliosaurs.

Mosasaurs varied in size from under a meter to over 17m long with most species on the larger size. They had a body shape similar to modern monitor lizards with paddle-like flippers and broad tails.

Mosasaurs probably evolved from semi-aquatic reptiles. Early species were amphibious but the later, larger species were specialised for life in water and probably could no longer move on the land. However Mosasaurs remained air breathers and gave birth to live young.

Mosasaurs had large flexible skulls which enabled them to swallow their prey almost whole. Some mosasaurs had blunt crushing teeth probably adapted to eating molluscs such as ammonites. They possess the "Jacobson's Organ", a structure used by snakes and lizards to detect scent particles so they probably used smell to hunt their prey. They also have large eyes, suggesting acute eyesight. Apparently a Tylosaurus fossil was found with the remains of a hespernornis, a possible shark and a smaller mosasaur inside it indicating a fairly wide range of prey species.


DK Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.
Wikipedia: Mosasaur

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/579020.html.
09 May 2019 @ 09:13 pm

A much younger me seated at a table in a blue top and a straw hat
From the summer before I went up to university, in the kitchen of a friend of my mother's who helped me write a "novel" for a couple of years under the pre-text of tutoring me in English. I don't think I actually needed extra tutoring (hence the novel) but I was anxious about the subject.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/578537.html.
08 May 2019 @ 09:21 pm
Reading: Charles Bentall: A Life of Industry and Integrity in which a distant relative of mine will turn out to be responsible for Vancouver. At least so I believe. He's not been born yet so I don't actually know, nor am I entirely clear in what way he is responsible for Vancouver though since, I gather, he was an architect, I assume he designed bits of it.

Listening: Have discovered two new (or in one case old) Doctor Who book podcasts, The Oncoming Storm and Fiction Paradox. Both have shows that take well over an hour (sometimes over 2 hours in the case of Fiction Paradox) which feels a little excessive for a podcast that exists primarily to summarise the plot of a book so I'm not entirely certain I'll stick with them.

Watching: Fruits Basket (an anime in which a school girl ends up living with people inhabited by the spirits of the zodiac who turn into said spirits if hugged by members of the opposite sex) and Golden Kaumay, a self-consciously educational anime about life on Hokkaido at the turn of the last century (I strongly suspect this is going to turn out to feature animal spirits).

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/577792.html.