Thursday, 30 December 2021

The Year of the Invaded Sideboard

 What a year it's been!
 Poor Tim...
 Poor Ms Nations...
 Poor ABBA...  
 Someone had a bit of a cough.
 . . .
 . . .
 . . .
 Oh, er... Poor BEAST.  
 And aside from everything else, our poor Sideboard took quite a pummelling.  Having seen off an expanse of pink [thank you, Dinah] and a giant old lady [also by Dinah] in previous years, 2021 has seen no less than five invasions!  
 But before we get to those, a quick heads-up about this year's Coven Awards: Unlike previous years, there aren't any awards per se, rather a selection of bits & bobs from your blogs throughout the year that we enjoyed, appreciated, or just remembered to make a note of at the time.
 The remembered bit is key.  Our memory is pretty terrible, so these aren't neccessarily the best bits, just noted or remembered bits.
 Oh, and there's much less self-indulgence from us, too.
 Although there is some, of course:  Star Trek.  Men we like.  Sofas that we think are ghastly (not your new one, Ms Scarlet - we haven't seen it yet...)  It's our blog, after all.
 Quite.  Anyway, let's get on with it before the dratted SubCs realise we've started without them.
 Ooh, yes!  On with the show, and the Sideboard Invasions:

  The first, in January, was by professional sideboard invader, Dinahmow, with an enormous luna astronaut complete with narrowboat (naturally).

 Let's start with a little Music, shall we?  Introduced to us by Jon (of course), this has become one of my most played pieces this year: Let's Danzón - Gustavo Dudamel at the Proms Arturo Márquez Danzón Nº 2 


Dance : Jon attempted to prise Colin's Anusol from the grip of-  Oh.  Sorry.  I misheard.  It's Prisencolinensinainciusol as we discovered here: Motivi per essere allegri

Monday, 27 December 2021

"Aunty Anne just gobbed at us."

 It's almost the end of the year, so here are most of the things I've read, watched and listened to since my last update back in September.  Unfortunately, I don't have much time to spend on this as I need all the time I can get to work on the end-of-year roundup (which I've barely begun - Eeeek!).


⌑  Light from Uncommon Stars (2021), by Ryka Aoki - I read this to learn more about trans people and because the premise sounded bonkers (cursed violins and alien-replicated donuts, anyone?), and also because it was likened, in style and feeling, to Becky Chambers' (one of my favourite authors) novels.  The descriptions and world-building were good - everything came alive easily in my head - and it felt clean and comfortable (despite some horrible transphobia and ignorance-fueled violence suffered by Katrina, one of the main characters).  Secondary characters seemed to get short shrift, though (Lan Tran's family in particular) - I didn't feel I got to know them, they just did things.  Overall, I rather liked it, but probably won't revisit it.

⌑  White Trash Warlock (2020), by David R. Slater - This one I read because of this part of the description in the Tor review: "This is no Chosen One narrative—this is a regular guy, who just happens to have a bit of magic, trying to do his best in life."  Although I quite liked it, I probably won't go back to this one (or any sequels) either.

⌑  Little, Big (1981), by John Crowley - I'm only about a fifth of the way through (if that), and I'm finding it hard-going (it's not an easy read like the previous two novels), but it is quite fascinating.


⌑   The Indispensible Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson - Just a delight, as always.

[strip via]

Thursday, 23 December 2021

IDV's [redacted] Winterval Panto! (Part 2)

No.  I'm not doing anymore narrating.
You'll have to get someone else to do it.
But, Very Mistress...
No!  There was more to do than you led me to believe,
and having to do it all in italics as well is too much!
Well, who else can I get on such short notice?
Who hasn't had a part yet?  Ms Nations?  Rimpy?  Melanie?
I bet Upton would be very good? 
Americans?!  Has that Jameson's gone to your head already?
The Great British public won't have bloody Americans
narrating a panto!  No. They can be the Audience.
You snob!  Well, what about Mago, then?  He's just had
his eyes done so reading the script will be a good test.
And Dobbin's not really in this part, so he's free.
Mago...?  Hmmm... Yes.  Mago!
High above the land in a castle floating amongst the clouds, lived a giant.
In diesem Moment in the castle's great hall, the giant was enjoying a breakfast of Ferrero Rocher freshly laid by his golden goose foil-covered droid while being half-heartedly seranaded by his golden robot harp.  The castle's Very Mistress, Fetchsleep, was ensconced in her fainting web, trying - und failing - to get a bit of shut-eye...
 "Ah, isn't Jack beautiful?  I just want to eat him all up!  When do you think he'll get here?"
 "Sigh... I really couldn't say - I'm not the one sat in front of the crystal ball!  And when I said no more narrating, I didn't mean for you to cast me in the story instead.  I need my beauty sleep to be ready for legions of punters once I don the Infomaniac Mistletoe Belt Buckle.  So, has he discovered the Cobaeanstalk?"
 "No, not yet.  I've been watching him for hours and haven't even caught a glimpse of his maypole yet!"
 "I'm not surprised - It is December, after all.  What's he doing now, then?  Like I care..."
 "It looks like he's lolling about in bed.  Or riding some sort of sea monster?  It's difficult to tell as the picture in the 'ball isn't very clear."
 "Well, wake me when something interesting happens."
 "Righto.  Golden Harp?  This music is a bit lacklustre - can you play something else, please?  And nothing Christmassy."
 "Oh, 'play something else' he says!  If only it was that easy.  Where are my muses, hmm?  Where are all the big, dumb, muscular lunks to stimulate my creativity?  Oh, that's right - you ate them!  If you want me to play with myself and pluck my own strings, then I'll need the stimulus to do so.  'Play something else' indeed.  Easy for you to say having swallowed all my men.  I don't know why I bother?!  Golden Tinfoil Goose droid agrees with me, don't you?"
 "Beep boop."

Monday, 20 December 2021

IDV's Wonderful* Winterval Panto! (Part 1**)

* lit. full of wonder at how this travesty of cliches, assumptions, and lazy writing came into being.
** Fortunately for you, there are only two parts to this.
Continued from A Pink Prelude...
... And for that 'Grotbags' comment I can do the narrating
reclined on my fainting chaise in the wings?
For the last time: Yes!
Good.  I can't be arsed with navigating shoddily constructed scenery while flouncing about in ridiculous costumes - I've seen what's in store for Jon in wardrobe.
I just want a bit of a lie down with a drink.  Or twelve.
There's a barrel of Jameson's and a straw all set out back.
Now, if you would kindly take your place?
Script!  Where's my script?
Christ!  It's on the chaise!
Please, Very Mistress, the cast - your Infomaniac Drinking Team - and audience are getting restless.
All right.  Keep your knickers on, IDV!
Just remember who you're talking to.
Yes, Very Mistress.
Right.  The narrator is all set.  Places everyone!
Curtain up in five, four, three...

In a lightly thronged rural village marketplace-
Can half a dozen people be classified as a 'throng'?
Some of them don't even appear to be real people.  Are they cardboard cut-outs?
Of course they're made of cardboard, Very Mistress.
You know the budgets for these things are practically non-existent.
Well, we did have the budget for Savvy to appear in person here,
but she's late as usual, so that's 25 quid down the drain...
We haven't got time for that now!
Very Mistress, if you could continue narrating, please?
Oh.  Yes.  Where was I?  Ah, yes:
In a lightly thronged marketplace we find a young woman- 
Man?  Is he?  [squints]  Oh, yes, of course.
I forgot that in panto the principle boy is usually played by a female actor.
If we can get on, please?
Just before I do, the script says "a young man" - how young is that then?  20s?  30s?
I only ask because - and I'm not saying that I think she's too...
experienced for the role - isn't that Ms Scarlet?
[sigh] Yes.  It is.  Fortunately, as I'm sure you remember, Ms Scarlet is at least ten years younger here over the Cusp than her birth certificate would have you believe, thanks to that time-travel nincompoopery that occurred over her birthday earlier this year.
Now, if you please?
Of course.  Of course.  Where were we?
Oh, yes, 'thronged marketplace', 'young man':
Anyway, his name is Jack and he's here with his overbearing - and rather garishly dressed, if you ask me - mother, a Dame of some repute, to sell various mud-based artisinal products and some dubious beauty treatments made from butter...

Saturday, 18 December 2021

A Pink Prelude...

Continued from... The I.T. Wizard of Oz and
Vworp  Vworp  Vworp

 As the Great Glass Elevator containing Norma-D2 and C3-Peenee faded from view, Mistress Maddie and IDV surfaced from the frothing gincuzzi.
 "Did you hear something?"
 "No.  And neither did you, so come on" Maddie said dragging IDV down again, the two of them disappearing beneath the spume-laden surface.

R E I N I T I A L I S I N G . . .

 "Oh, no" I muttered resurfacing, spitting a bow-tie from between my teeth - where did that come from?  "Not again.  Not now!" 
R E I N I T I A L I S A T I O N   C O M P L E T E.
S T O R Y   C H A N G E   I N   T H R E E . . .

 "What?  What's going on?" Maddie spluttered. 
 "The story's reinitialising!"
T W O . . .
 "So?!  So, I haven't quite got around to writing the next bit, yet!  If it doesn't have a new story to latch onto, the reinitialisation will flail around picking up any old bits of narrative that've been left laying around!"
O N E . . .
 "Well, I don't see that it'll be any different from any of your other efforts then, Tootes?"
M A R K.
A thrilled IDV
(not in shot, Maddie & Asriel)
 Like Venus rising from the waves - albeit it with more stubble - Asriel emerged from the foaming gincuzzi, a look of confusion on his face.  "Where...?  Where am I?"  The confusion turned to mild panic.  "Where are my clothes?!  And my bow-tie?!?!"
 "Oh!" I exclaimed.  "Maybe this won't turn out so badly after all?"
 Maddie clearly agreed as she assisted in pulling Asriel under, the faint grin of realisation that appeared on his lips was followed into the foam by his trademark raised eyebrow...

Monday, 13 December 2021

Soon to be 399...

 Sorry I haven't been around much over the past couple of weeks or so.  Amongst other things, I had some bad news last month that's affected me more than I thought it would.  It was something that I've known was coming for a while now, but I just thought I'd have another couple of years or so before it became real.  Unfortunately, Car is seriously ill, and is not expected to make it beyond the end of 2022.

A frosty Car from back in January
 Car went in for its MOT in the middle of November, and I knew my purse wouldn't get through unscathed.  I'd had a bad feeling about Car for most of this year, and even considered getting a new car back in September, but my optimism - buoyed on by my superb procrastinatory skills and a hefty dose of denial - won out.  Which meant that come MOT time, I submitted Car for the roadworthiness test, stubbornly forseeing a rose-tinted, birds & butterflies (yes, even at that time of year - I saw a peacock butterfly at the beginning of this month, no less), happy ending - possibly involving the doe-eyed young mechanic who had seen to Car previously.