Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Weeks in Entertainment

Long time to go over, hope I remember everything...

Live: The Pearl Fishers at the Met. Lovely Bizet score, wonderful singers. THEN Snowzilla attacked. My friend and I had tickets for La Bohème and the evening performance of Allegiance. We decided, after some thought, that we'd better go up on Friday in case the snow stopped the trains Saturday morning. So we got tickets for Turandot, which was very well done, Friday and then Saturday had lunch and settled into our seats at the Met to be told that a state of emergency had been declared, the mayor was stopping the trains at 2, and all the theaters were being closed. So instead of two shows in a Manhattan getting 5" or so, we sat in our hotel and watch the city get pounded - though not as badly as down in Maryland. Ah well, it was a good idea.

Film: Saw Trumbo again with a friend who hadn't. Also saw The Force Awakens again - a lot of fun, that movie. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, very good, very enjoyable.

TV: Caught the first few episodes of The X-Files reboot, and liked it. Also Lucifer, which is a bit predictable, really, but kind of fun. The last few of this season of The Librarians, which ended well and has me excited for next season. There's a lot piled up on the DVR but I haven't done much TV watching, really.

Read: Oh, man. Let's see. A truckload of Charles de Lint, a couple of dozen old and new. The Wildlings trilogy was new to me and I liked it a lot, but mainly it was Newford stuff. Another episode of Bookburners. Liars for Jesus 2, continuing the good work of documenting right-wing distortions of American history. Midnight Taxi Tango, a Bone Street Rumba novel, not quite as good as the first but still very readable. Two short "Sin de Jour" things, which are okay, and ended on a real cliffhanger so I'll probably try the next one when it comes out. Tad Williams' "Bobby Dollar" trilogy which was well-written enough to pull through the whole thing even though (as with many noirs) I didn't really like Bobby very much. The new translation of Dovlatov's Заповедник, The Preserve, translated by his daughter as Pushkin Hills - very bitingly funny and very Russian. China Mièville's two latest - the short story collection Three Moments of an Explosion and the novella This Census Taker - neither of which disappointed at all. Staked, the latest Iron Druid novel, which has the feel of wrapping up, if not the series, a major part of it.

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Error

In his latest newsletter, Michael Quinion tells us that a couple of his readers "spotted a headline error that turns up on US newspaper sites so often that it has become a perennial joke. Let’s give it one last moment in the sun because this time it appeared (on 26 January) on the website of the prestigious New York Times: “Police Officer Shoots Man With Knife in Lower Manhattan”. The NYT rapidly changed it."

The problem is that this isn't an "error", it's merely structural ambiguity that is fully grammatical and permitted. And not one that anyone really misunderstands it. Sure, "police shoot man with sniper rifle" is somewhat rude to your readers, though I expect the readership would be able to understand from context who had the rifle.

But "police shoot man with knife"? Really? Do people think it's a knife that fires bullets, or a gun that fires knives? "Police shoot man with black hair" - still an "error"?

Look, I'm not saying that the sentence is flawless. Writing things that make your readers drop out of the text to laugh (unless it's a comedy piece) isn't good writing; it might even be slightly rude. But it's not a grammatical or syntactic error.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Eagles in Columbia

For the past few weeks there have been a large number of bald eagles around Wilde Lake in Columbia, Maryland, apparently brought there by a warm-water fish kill. Whatever brought them, I was able to get some shots the weekend before the big snow. Here are a few of them, including a fishing sequence.

Adult flying in front of condos - he has a fish


Adult with dinner


Adult overhead


Juvenile - note the brown head and tail, and patchy colors on the wings


Adult

Juvenile in the trees


An adult comes in for a fish, gets it, and flies off with it








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2 Comments:

At 7:36 AM, February 04, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Amazing how the mind auto-"corrects," because I (mis)read your first sentence as...

"Adult flying in front of condors" :-)

 
At 10:20 AM, February 04, 2016 Anonymous TJ had this to say...

Excellent photos! There are no bald eagles (or any other kind of eagle) where I live so it is a pleasure to see these pictures.

 

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This doesn't work for me

From NPR's Facebook page:

"Inflation has barely moved but so have wages."

Expand that and you get "Inflation has barely moved but so have wages barely moved."

I don't know about you, but I can't use "barely" that way. It's like a verb of minimal degree - you can not budge an inch, but you can't budge an inch (Bob's not that stubborn; he'll budge an inch / say a word / blink an eye...). For me, that sentence needs to end negatively:

Inflation has barely moved, but neither have wages.

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I don't think so

So yeah, technically he's not a (D). But really, CNN?

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Nice job, I mean it

Some really sweet machine translations via Facebook - I have to assume it's still Bing, but they aren't putting their name on them any more.




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At 8:44 AM, February 03, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Just imagine how bad the new Skype instantaneous interpreting software must be...

 

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Back with words

Hmmm... I thought I'd posted at least once in January, but I see not. More substantial stuff will come as I get back in the habit, but today I actually won the Jumble game - I can make a sentence with all the words, in order, and using no content words except them! Woo-Hoo!

What is that AWFUL IMAGE you FLAUNT in INDIGO?


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At 8:45 AM, February 03, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Would you call this a meta-puzzle? :-)

 

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Not only ... but"

An acquaintance posted this the other day:
My favorite movie quote of all time comes from the 1951 film version of 'A Christmas Carol', featuring Alistair Sim as Scrooge. Not only does this film capture the spirit of Dickens' original book, but screenwriter Noel Langley has the Spirit of Christmas Present address these words to Scrooge:

'Mortal! We Spirits of Christmas do not live but one day of our year; we live the whole three-hundred-and-sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He lives in men's hearts not one day of the year, but in all the days of the year.'
And that, of course, makes it less faithful to the book. Not only does Dickens never so directly refer to Jesus (the closest is Marley's self-castigating cry)
"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said "I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"
but the Ghost of Christmas Present says quite specifically that he has but one day:
It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”
That said, the Sim version is probably the most faithful, though it makes the usual hash of the "show me some tenderness connected with a death!" Oddly, the Jim Carrey version, which I saw for the first time last night, manages to get that right in the midst of the hot mess they make of the whole of Stave Four (here's the book if you haven't read it).

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2 Comments:

At 11:11 AM, February 01, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Yoo-hoo, anybody home? I miss your posts. Any birds-in-snow, or entertainment?

 
At 11:20 AM, February 02, 2016 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Yes, sorry, I've been distracted. But I'm going to (make every effort to) get back to blogging on a near-daily basis! I do have some photos I'll post later today.

 

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Winter Solstice, Camelot Station

holly

This is one of my favorite poems of all time.
Enjoy it and the day...

Winter Solstice, Camelot Station

John M. Ford


Camelot is served
By a sixteen-track stub terminal done in High Gothick Style,
The tracks covered by a single great barrel-vaulted glass roof framed upon iron,
At once looking back to the Romans and ahead to the Brunels.
Beneath its rotunda, just to the left of the ticket windows,
Is a mosaic floor depicting the Round Table
(Where all knights, regardless of their station of origin
Or class of accommodation, are equal),
And around it murals of knightly deeds in action
(Slaying dragons, righting wrongs, rescuing maidens tied to the tracks).
It is the only terminal, other than Gare d'Avalon in Paris,
To be hung with original tapestries,
And its lavatories rival those at the Great Gate of Kiev Central.
During a peak season such as this, some eighty trains a day pass through,
Five times the frequency at the old Londinium Terminus,
Ten times the number the Druid towermen knew.
(The Official Court Christmas Card this year displays
A crisp black-and-white Charles Clegg photograph from the King's own collection.
Showing a woad-blued hogger at the throttle of "Old XCVII,"
The Fast Mail overnight to Eboracum. Those were the days.)
The first of a line of wagons have arrived,
Spilling footmen and pages in Court livery,
And old thick Kay, stepping down from his Range Rover,
Tricked out in a bush coat from Swaine, Adeney, Brigg,
Leaning on his shooting stick as he marshalls his company,
Instructing the youngest how to behave in the station,
To help mature women that they may encounter,
Report pickpockets, gather up litter,
And of course no true Knight of the Table Round (even in training)
Would do a station porter out of Christmas tips.
He checks his list of arrival times, then his watch
(A moon-phase Breguet, gift from Merlin):
The seneschal is a practical man, who knows trains do run late,
And a stolid one, who sees no reason to be glad about it.
He dispatches pages to posts at the tracks,
Doling out pennies for platform tickets,
Then walks past the station buffet with a dyspeptic snort,
Goes into the bar, checks the time again, orders a pint.
The patrons half turn--it's the fella from Camelot, innit?
And Kay chuckles soft to himself, and the Court buys a round.
He's barely halfway when a page tumbles in,
Seems the knights are arriving, on time after all,
So he tips the glass back (people stare as he guzzles),
Then plonks it down hard with five quid for the barman,
And strides for the doorway (half Falstaff, half Hotspur)
To summon his liveried army of lads.

* * *

Bors arrives behind steam, riding the cab of a heavy Mikado.
He shakes the driver's hand, swings down from the footplate,
And is like a locomotive himself, his breath clouding white,
Dark oil sheen on his black iron mail,
Sword on his hip swinging like siderods at speed.
He stamps back to the baggage car, slams mailed fist on steel door
With a clang like jousters colliding.
The handler opens up and goes to rouse another knight.
Old Pellinore has been dozing with his back against a crate,
A cubical, chain-bound thing with FRAGILE tags and air holes,
BEAST says the label, QUESTING, 1 the bill of lading.
The porters look doubtful but ease the thing down.
It grumbles. It shifts. Someone shouts, and they drop it.
It cracks like an egg. There is nothing within.
Elayne embraces Bors on the platform, a pelican on a rock,
Silently they watch as Pelly shifts the splinters,
Supposing aloud that Gutman and Cairo have swindled him.

A high-drivered engine in Northern Lines green
Draws in with a string of side-corridor coaches,
All honey-toned wood with stained glass on their windows.
Gareth steps down from a compartment, then Gaheris and Aggravaine,
All warmly tucked up in Orkney sweaters;
Gawaine comes after in Shetland tweed.
Their Gladstones and steamers are neatly arranged,
With never a worry--their Mum does the packing.
A redcap brings forth a curious bundle, a rude shape in red paper--
The boys did that one themselves, you see, and how does one wrap a unicorn's head?
They bustle down the platform, past a chap all in green.
He hasn't the look of a trainman, but only Gawaine turns to look at his eyes,
And sees written there Sir, I shall speak with you later.

Over on the first track, surrounded by reporters,
All glossy dark iron and brass-bound mystery,
The Direct-Orient Express, ferried in from Calais and Points East.
Palomides appears. Smelling of patchouli and Russian leather,
Dripping Soubranie ash on his astrakhan collar,
Worry darkening his dark face, though his damascene armor shows no tarnish,
He pushes past the press like a broad-hulled icebreaker.
Flashbulbs pop. Heads turn. There's a woman in Chanel black,
A glint of diamonds, liquid movements, liquid eyes.
The newshawks converge, but suddenly there appears
A sharp young man in a crisp blue suit
From the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits,
That elegant, comfortable, decorous, close-mouthed firm;
He's good at his job, and they get not so much as a snapshot.
Tomorrow's editions will ask who she was, and whom with...

Now here's a silver train, stainless steel, Vista-Domed,
White-lighted grails on the engine (running no extra sections)
The Logres Limited, extra fare, extra fine,
(Stops on signal at Carbonek to receive passengers only).
She glides to a Timkin-borne halt (even her grease is clean),
Galahad already on the steps, flashing that winning smile,
Breeze mussing his golden hair, but not his Armani tailoring,
Just the sort of man you'd want finding your chalice.
He signs an autograph, he strikes a pose.
Someone says, loudly, "Gal! Who serves the Grail?"
He looks--no one he knows--and there's a silence,
A space in which he shifts like sun on water;
Look quick and you may see a different knight,
A knight who knows that meanings can be lies,
That things are done not knowing why they're done,
That bearings fail, and stainless steel corrodes.
A whistle blows. Snow shifts on the glass shed roof. That knight is gone.
This one remaining tosses his briefcase to one of Kay's pages,
And, golden, silken, careless, exits left.

Behind the carsheds, on the business-car track, alongside the private varnish
Of dukes and smallholders, Persian potentates and Cathay princes
(James J. Hill is here, invited to bid on a tunnel through the Pennines),
Waits a sleek car in royal blue, ex-B&O, its trucks and fittings chromed,
A black-gloved hand gripping its silver platform rail;
Mordred and his car are both upholstered in blue velvet and black leather.
He prefers to fly, but the weather was against it.
His DC-9, with its video system and Quotron and waterbed, sits grounded at Gatwick.
The premature lines in his face are a map of a hostile country,
The redness in his eyes a reminder that hollyberries are poison.
He goes inside to put on a look acceptable for Christmas Court;
As he slams the door it rattles like strafing jets.

Outside the Station proper, in the snow,
On a through track that's used for milk and mail,
A wheezing saddle-tanker stops for breath;
A way-freight mixed, eight freight cars and caboose,
Two great ugly men on the back platform, talking with a third on the ballast.
One, the conductor, parcels out the last of the coffee;
They drink. A joke about grails. They laugh.
When it's gone, the trainman pretends to kick the big hobo off,
But the farewell hug spoils the act.
Now two men stand on the dirty snow,
The conductor waves a lantern and the train grinds on.
The ugly men start walking, the new arrival behind,
Singing "Wenceslas" off-key till the other says stop.
There are two horses waiting for them. Rather plain horses,
Considering. The men mount up.
By the roundhouse they pause,
And look at the locos, the water, the sand, and the coal,
They look for a long time at the turntable,
Until the one who is King says "It all seemed so simple, once,"
And the best knight in the world says "It is. We make it hard."
They ride on, toward Camelot by the service road.

The sun is winter-low. Kay's caravan is rolling.
He may not run a railroad, but he runs a tight ship;
By the time they unload in the Camelot courtyard,
The wassail will be hot and the goose will be crackling,
Banners snapping from their towers, fir logs on the fire, drawbridge down,
And all that sackbut and psaltery stuff.
Blanchefleur is taking the children caroling tonight,
Percivale will lose to Merlin at chess,
The young knights will dally and the damsels dally back,
The old knights will play poker at a smaller Table Round.
And at the great glass station, motion goes on,
The extras, the milk trains, the varnish, the limiteds,
The Pindar of Wakefield, the Lady of the Lake,
The Broceliande Local, the Fast Flying Briton,
The nerves of the kingdom, the lines of exchange,
Running to a schedule as the world ought,
Ticking like a hot-fired hand-stoked heart,
The metal expression of the breaking of boundaries,
The boilers that turn raw fire into power,
The driving rods that put the power to use,
The turning wheels that make all places equal,
The knowledge that the train may stop but the line goes on;
The train may stop
But the line goes on.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Santaland Diaries


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Now = 600 years ago

The local paper ran this "guest column" today, What do YOU know about the nativity? by Kent Bush. He makes possibly the most awkward pop culture reference I'll see this week:
They cast the rebellious storm trooper in “The Force Awakens” as a black man and now there is a black man in the nativity scene. Is this just more liberal political correctness run amok?
I mean, first ... "now"? "Now there is a black man in the nativity scene"?

At least he tacitly acknowledges later in the piece that "now" would be a stupid, bigoted, right-wing overreaction. Tacitly. He says
Fortunately, no one from either party will have to modify their manger scenes.
and adds
The black wise man became a part of folklore in the 1400s.
Exactly.

There have been black people around for quite a while, even if YOU haven't had to acknowledge their existence until now. But honestly - why the heck can't some people get over there being a black man in Star Wars? I mean, there's still only one.

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2 Comments:

At 8:19 AM, January 01, 2016 Anonymous Adrian Morgan had this to say...

There are more things in that article that I like than that I don't, but the fact is that in the overwhelming majority of nativity scenes that readers are likely to have seen, there ISN'T a black wise man. It's interesting that it used to be traditional, but one could hardly call it a standard depiction now. So of course most people are not going to have thought about why there is a black man in their nativity scenes.

 
At 9:57 AM, February 03, 2016 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Hmmm. My parents' nativity, which is at least 75 years old, features a black wise man AND a black page boy.

 

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Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas, Good Yule, Happy Solstice, Midwinter Joy, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus ... however you celebrate the returning light in this midwinter season, may it fill you with joy.

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At 9:12 AM, December 24, 2015 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Warmest holiday wishes. Will you be participating in the year-end bird census? Our feathered friends in the eastern US must be mighty confused by our unseasonably warm weather.

 

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