Sunday, 31 January 2010

A Lion Among Men

I'm a big admirer of Gregory Maguire's first Wicked book. It rightly deserves all the literary and popular acclaim it has so far garnered. I was fascinated by the life story and character of Elphaba Thropp aka The Wicked Witch of the West. The second book, Son of a Witch, was disappointing, mediocre but sort of readable. It suffered most because of the need to compare it to its predecessor. This third book, A lion Among Men, is much worse. It hardly seems like a book at all, more like a DVD commentary for a tv series/first two books, where cast and crew tell anecdotes about the filming. Only unable to get either the lead actor, writer or director the commentary features actors who played minor characters and forces them to go through a question and answer session formulated by a group of fans. The Lion and Yackle fit into that role, with a mystery guest contributor on the last episode.
Who else but the most rabid of fan could would put up with two such unlikable characters as The Lion (sorry Brrr) and Yackle for over 400 pages? The cowardly lion sits in one room and interviews Yackle for most of the book. Though being such a poor excuse for an interviewer, the Lion tells more about his own experiences than he receives from Yackle. We hear all about his aimless meandering. Of course he has to meet some lions, oh and some tigers and unfortunately some bears...oh my. There is also an attempt by the author to shoehorn a theme about the morality of war into the mix but this only serves to compound the already rampant cynicism of the the main characters.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Comic art

When it comes to comic book art I think I'm a bit old school. I like some of the up and comers of today but there aren't that many that get me gooey eyed and a little bit obsessive. I grew up adoring every precious panel of Jim Steranko's body of work while bingeing out on the flood of Jack Kirby. I'm not totally locked in nostalgia though. I was blown away by Mike Mignola's Hellboy in the 90s and more recently I'm loving David Petersen's Mouse Guard. It's nearly 40 years since I first went, "Wow!!!Lookit that." over some Jack Kirby Thor artwork. Here's hoping it won't be too long before there is a new Mouse Guard book under the Christmas Tree again.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Phantom Pheasant.

During our Big Freeze, Mark sent me a picture of a mystery footprint in the snow and asked me to guess what it was - see here. He finally managed to get a picture of the culprit.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Winter company

When you are stuck indoors for long periods you appreciate more the birds and wildlife that visits the garden and the feeders. Blue tits are one of the most common garden birds in the United Kingdom but they are also a very pretty little bird. They love the suet balls we put out and the peanuts too. Some of their aerobatics are almost too swift to follow.
This winter we have also had a lot more attention from the rowdy gangs of Long-tailed Tits.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Badger Doodling

I was going through a drawer looking for some old school photos when I came across an old sketch book. It dates back a couple of decades. I remember doing these quick sketches after long tutorials at college, probably linguistics or something. I'd do them to relax if I had another tutorial or study period coming up. It usually did the trick. Sort of like rebooting my brain. As you can see I had a bit of a thing for badgers at the time. The full face badger portrait I also duplicated in black felt tip onto the front of one of my course work folders.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Return of Step Mouse

These were taken through the patio windows on New Years Eve during a lull in the bad weather. You can see the Christmas tree decorations reflected in the glass. We put out some food for the birds which included this bowl of oats. The robin likes this stuff and the dunnock and other birds will eat it up if you sprinkle it about. Step Mouse aka Tickets has other plans for the oats though. He mounted this daring daylight raid that started out all covert but ended up being anything but.

Luckily he survived the day. Move over Despereaux, there's a new fearless mouse on the block. I managed to secure his movie rights and am proud to present his debut movie - seen below. This was filmed this week. Keep watching to see a guest appearance by another denizen of the back garden. The narrator is my sister.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

White lanes

Mark sent me these pictures of what it looked like round his way a few days ago. Round here it was starting to thaw a bit but supposedly we are going to get some fresh snowfall over the next couple of days. Much as I like to wax lyrical over the snow, I had hoped it would clear enough to get out. Any sort of ice about makes my unassisted wheelchair to and from car transfers a bit of a lottery over whether I end up in a heap on the road. I used to be a bit more blase about such risks but I ripped my shoulder up last year when a transfer went wrong and it has made me a lot more cautious.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The mouse in the step

Our gardens, like most, have mice. There are at least two families that we know of in ours. One family lives under a step. The snow keeps icing up the entrance, so my sister has tried to make sure they can get out by clearing it a bit. It's tricky being a mouse. I mean we think it's tricky getting down to the shops when the roads and paths haven't been gritted. But at least nothing is trying to eat us. Just avoiding the proliferation of feline hazards must be a nightmare. And all that brown fur that usually blends in, well forget about that. Maybe some cats are curled up in the warm. That might be a good bet. But not if your life is the stake. So if you want to be a safe mouse it's probably best to be alert and remember all the tips your mum told you.

Look right.
Look left.
Keep your ears open.
And your eyes peeled.
And remember, owls hunt mainly by sound, so be very, very quiet.
Good luck mouse. You are going to need it.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow on snow

A view from my window. Everything is quilted in white. The branches are sugared with snow and the twigs are skeleton white fingers. The road is a frozen layer cake - snow on ice on snow, the layers building fall by fall. And when the dark comes the street is turned to cold gold beneath the street light. Lone walkers are heard in the night - snow compacting beneath their tread.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Twelfth Night & Film Noir.

And it is still snowing. There's been snow on the ground for nearly the entire 12 days of Christmas. More on the way too. I'm pretty much stranded now. Last time I tried to go out I ended up sitting on my backside in the middle of the street and that was during an assisted transfer. Debbie walked it into work again today but was sent home as the snow thickened. My mum and dad almost got stranded on a backstreet, only to be rescued by some Bin Men (also stranded - btw calling them refuse collectors would raise a few eyebrows around here). No grit left. That's the big problem.
Christmas came and went so quickly this year. People complain about all the old movies on the television but I really like them. You can usually rely on the BBC to gather a bunch together and brand them a season. Seasons of ghost stories on BBC4 are my favourites but no such season this year. A nice season of old horror movies, or Bogart movies, anything like that will do. If the BBC was going to fail me I could always fall back on my Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes Boxset - then I really would be in bliss. This year though we have the Film Noir season. Looking at some of the titles I can see that some of the films barely qualify as being eligible but also there are some classics. And all shown on BBC2 in the early hours night owl slot with no pesky adverts to insert colour and light into the promised darkness.
  1. The Reckless Moment - Joan Bennett. Nice to watch a youngish James Mason but not that great and not really noir.
  2. Gilda - This one's a classic. Rita Hayworth does her femme fatale bit and Glenn Ford is top class as always.
  3. Build My Gallows High - Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Another classic - some great dialogue and Mitchum is quite good.
  4. Farewell My Lovely - This film rocks. Dick Powell takes over the role of Marlowe from Bogart. He's brilliant and the film is all you could want from a proper noir.
  5. Dead Reckoning - I skipped this Bogart one as I'd seen it quite recently - Great noir though.
  6. The Big Combo - No great shakes plot wise or performance wise but the cinematography is very striking. Some scenes are very memorable for their style.
  7. On Dangerous Ground - I like the opening scenes of this one following the night cops on their rounds but the whole road to redemption via falling for the blind girl theme seemed a bit forced to me. Nice performance by Robert Ryan though.
  8. They Live By Night - Didn't enjoy this one. Sort of a Bonnie & Clyde precursor.
  9. Crossfire - Great post war movie with some super performances by Mitchum and co. On the face of it this is a murder mystery but the crux of the movie is the murder's motive - bigotry.
Sad to see the season finish. Now I have to go back to choosing my own viewing. And Basil never even made it out of the cupboard.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Ice Ducks

Camera Critters
It's icy at the duck pond but still business as usual for this Badelynge.
For some great pictures of Long-tailed Tits try visiting my sister's blog at Shagrat's Attic.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!