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I went to see the Doctor Strange film last week.

I saw it in 2D, as 3D tends to be awkward (trying to fit the specs over my own) and to leave me with a thumping headache, but would imagine that it would be pretty impressive if you can take 3D.

And it was a lot of fun. I loved that, like other films in the Marvel universe, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's fast, funny, and a little in dnager of inducing motion sickness..!

I didn't care for Mr Cumberbatch's early beard, but once he shaved that off and displayed his cheekbones all was well! And the cloak is excellent.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Benedict Wong were both excellent, as, inevitably, was Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.

If you've enjoyed the other Marvel films, go and see this one, and you'll have fun. If you didn't,you probably won't.

Oh, and don't forget to stay for both the after credits snippets.
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This last week has been very much better than the preceding one, in many, many ways. admittedly, the bar was set pretty low, by last week, but this week would, I think have been good even without that comparison!

On Wednesday evening I was in Bath to see Mitch Benn's new show, Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle which, as I understanding started out as his gig at the Edinburgh Festival. Its very good, and a lot of fun, even if, like me, you don't know much about the Beatles careers. There are a couple of songs which have appeared in Mitch's other shows, but the vast majority is completely new material, which is fun.

The gig in Bath was the first on the current tour, so there are lots of further opportunity for those of you in the UK to see it. I recommend it.

Then, this weekend, I travelled up to Manchester to spend the weekend with my best friend, ahead of her wedding in March, and to see my brother and his girlfriend.

I'm still pretty ouchy following the RTA I was involved in, and am finding driving pretty uncomfortable, so 2 long drives in 3 days seemed like a very bad idea, which meant I wound up getting the train to Manchester - it was a surprisingly smooth trip - not too crowded (at least once I was off the local train and onto the cross country one) and certainly less stressful than driving (particularly in an unfamiliar car) would have been. I'm not too keen on the courtesy car I've been given.

Once I arrived, I met up with J and we had lunch at the wonderfully kitsch Richmond Tea Rooms, before heading back to her home, where we spent the evening catching up, with the help of some lovely food, and some rather nice prosecco!

On Saturday we went into Manchester for a pre-booked spa session, which had some interesting moments - we assumed that a treatment which involved a segment described as 'baking' might involve a degree of warmth. Apparently not. (and when you are half naked and covered in mud, you're not really in a position to go looking for a staff member to sort it out! Fortunately, good company makes up for everything, and we just got the giggles (and warmed up in the steam room, later on!)

On the Sunday, after saying farewell to J, I met up with my brother and his partner, and we had lunch, an abortive attempt at cocktails, and some beer, and lots of conversation. I've not seen them since I went up to visit them last summer,  so it was good to have the chance to catch up.

And then there was another long, and happily, uneventful, train journey home.

It was a fun weekend.
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I had a bit of a shitty week, one way and another, so I was determined to enjoy the weekend, and to do some fun things.

If you've read my last post, you'll have seen that I spent parts of Saturday exploring Bristol via art. On Sunday I went for the arguably less high-brow option of  going to see the new Iron Man film.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet so will keep it vague.

I enjoyed the film - it's more about Tony Stark than it is about Iron Man, I like the way it references the Avengers Assemble film, and the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously. I loved Ben Kingsley. And the little extra at the end of the credits.

There were a couple of things I didn't like- I would have liked a little more backstory for one or two of the characters, and there were a coupe of points at the end which left me going :-/ but on the whole I think it's a good, fun, film.

Also, there's lots of stuff getting blown up.
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Charley's Aunt was originally performed in 1892, and ran for 4 years. The current production stars Matthew Horne as Lord Fancourt Babberley, and is excellent!

It is pure, frothy, Victorian farce. Horne is excellent as Lord Fancourt-Babberley, coerced by his friends into impersonating Charley's aunt, Donna Lucia, in order to act as chaperone so they can see their respective sweethearts.

The plot is, of course, entirely predictable and the ending obvious from the outset, but that in no way detracts from the entertainment value. It has a similar flavour to 'The Importance of Being Ernest', but without the depth...

Matthew Horne is the star of the show but the supporting cast, particularly Jane Asher (Charley's real aunt), are excellent. I think it's fair to say that the male characters are stronger than the female ones, but I think this is down to the writing not the actors - the female characters (other than the real Donna Lucia) are present really only as the love-interests for their respective swains.

All in all, good, clean, undemanding fun. The set was also impressive (although elaborate, which was no doubt why the play had two full intervals, rather than just a quick scene change!)

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Last weekend I got an invitation to go to Birmingham, to visit my cousin and her husband, and to meet their beutiful son, who is now 3 1/2 months old. My sister also lives in Birmingham, and our other sister was visiting her, so the plan was for us all then to meet up together foor Sunday lunch.

It was a lovely, low-key weekend. I drove up on Friday night, met baby J (And fell in love with him) Then I cuddled him some more, and played with the cats.

On Saturday we mostly stayed home, with a brief foray out to give J some air & to do a little shopping, then on Sunday we drove over to my sister's house for lunch. We all took it in turns to cuddle J (who really is an exceptionally well-conducted baby, and cries only when any self-respecting baby would)

And then, after a delicious meal, and a lot of conversation, I camme back home. It was a horrible drive - loads of rain, and spray, and surface water, but I got home in one piece, and without too much delay, so it's all good.

Meeting J for the first time was undoubtably the best thing which has happened this year (so far).
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Thursday evening saw me heading into Bath, to meet up with Cheryl and together to go to Moles, to see Bitter Ruin.

I first heard of them (and heard them) when they played support for Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley at the EvelynEvelyn show at Bush Hall, and at the 'Underworld' gig, and really liked their music, so when I saw they were playing in Bath I booked tickets straight away.

Moles, as the name suggests, is to be found in a cellar (with a bar above), and is pretty small. When we arrived, 5 minutes after the doors opened, it was empty other Georgia & Ben (a.k.a. Bitter Ruin) so we had the oppotunity to chat to them briefly, then as other people started to arrive we headed upstairs for a drink.

The first band on were a local duo whose name, unfortunately, I didn't catch, but they were good - then Bitter Ruin were on - I really enjoyed their set - especially as they played two of my favourites - "The Vice" and "A Brand New Me", plus a new song - "Relief"

In between times I chatted to Ben's dad, who apparently lives locally, and learned that Ben went to the same school I did (although about 12 years later than me!)

All in all, a great evening, and if you get a chance to see Bitter Ruin play, take it!

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An early start - I had put my name down for the Kaffeeklatch with Mike Carey, which was scheduled for 10 a.m., so necessitated getting to the Radisson by 9 to check the list. Happily, it was worth it, as I was on the list, so having marked myself in I was able to forage for coffee and ensure I was actually awake, before heading down to reclaim the room from the Clanger knitting panel immediately before us.

We were very lucky as not only did we get the conversation with Mike, there was no-one using the room from 11 and so we were able to simply carry on, and the kaffeeklatch ended up continuing until 1/4 to 12. Bonus!

There seemed to be a cross section of those who were primarily fans of Mike's comics / GNs and those coming in as fans of the Felix Castor novels, so part of the conversation veered into a quick run down of Mike's back catalogue and recommendations of where to start for a non-comic reader (possibly 'Season of Mists' followed by Lucifer)

There was talk about the 'grittiness' of the settings - the fact that the London in which Felix lives, and he other places he visits are very real, (except of course specific buildings etc which Mike invents - and which people apparently regularly claim to be familiar with!) as are elements such as the time taken to get from one part of it to another. Also talked about adapting other people's work, the fact that Mike has been offered but turned down suggestions that the Felix Castor books should be adapted as GNs (because, at least in part, of the difficulty in representing music in comics), but that a possible film is in the offing (Contracts have been "on the verge of being sent" for 2 years now...

We also talked about the Constantine film (general consensus seemed to be that it wasn't necessarily a bad film, as long as you don't expect it to be anything much to do with Hellblazer...) the importance of characters taking responsibility for their own actions and mistakes, Felix Castors's sex life (or lack thereof), families (born and made), Frankenstein and the morality of monsters, torture, John Constantine's successor, and reading recommendations from all around the table.

I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all - I certainly enjoyed it, and hope Mike did, too. The extra time meant that I missed the '1st editions & fine bindings' panel, which was a pity, but one cannot have everything.

After a couple of hours in the Green Room, which included a brief conversation with Paul Cornell & other waiting panellists about Jane Austen, lost in Austen and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, all conducted with the faint background smell of smoke & cordite from the Pyrotechnics display in the main hall, I headed down to the Hall for the Guest of Honour interview with Mike Carey, conducted by Paul Cornell.

This started late due to the pyro stuff, and some of the clean up had to go on during the interview, with people from (?Ops) mopping the stage as the interview continued!

The interview covered some of the same areas which were discussed at the Kaffeeklatch but also featured the Pantera comic "Probably the worst comicbook in the history of the world [,...] I convinced myself at the time that it was ironic, but it wasn't, it was just bad"- Mike Carey and more discussion of Lucifer, an how the character changed from Neil Gaiman's original character (Prompting Paul Cornell to declare "I love Lucifer. [pause] that wouldn't go down well with my wife")

Mike also talked about "The Unwritten" (including explaining that if/when JK Rowling's lawyers come knocking claiming it rips off Harry Potter the defence will be that no, it wasn't nicked from JKR but from 'Books of Magic'....
Both Paul & Mike seemed to be having fun during the interview, and we learned Mike's research consists of "bumming about on the internet..."

I had planned to stay for the European Torus & Alan Moore talks, but the lure of a shower & nap won out. I must say, that whatever its other failings, the Ibis cannot be faulted on water pressure :-)

I got back to the hotel in time for Ian Sorensen's "Harry Potter and the Half Cut Prince", billed as ' a musical with jokes and live quidittich. It was very funny, involving many appalling puns, reworked lyrics to such classics as 'Fame' and 'Pinball Wizard' , lots of Dr Who, Alan Rickman, Galaxy Quest and Rocky Horror references, and audience participation. All good, grubby fun!
An hour later, back in the hall for the Mitch Benn gig - introduced by Paul Cornell "He is one of us", Mitch's set included 'Be my Dr Who Girl', 'I might just have to Murder James Blunt' The Very Hungry caterpillar rock opera, 'Crap Shag' plus singing in dalek voice... this is a man who knows his audience. Lots of comedy between songs, including comments on not being a real Dr Who fan as he has never built his own Dalek, (and that what can what do with a dalek, except perhaps sulk) which amused me as I left, as I overheard a plaintive little voice saying "but I can think of *lots* of reasons to build a dalek"...

There seemed to be a lot of people queueing up to buy CDs afterwards some of whom didn't appear to have previously heard Mitch's stuff.

There were also lots of people milling around the atrium in fantastic costumes, preparing for the Steampunk Ball - also a rather splendid 10th Doctor.

It was shortly after this that I ended up in the Polo bar, where I had interesting conversations with several strangers, congratulated Paul Cornell & Cheryl Morgan on their Hugo nominations, drank guinness, and acquired a perfecty splendid hat from (I think) Sith Happens, before staggering back to the hotel at around 2 a.m.

Sadly, I didn't make it to the dealers room on Monday morning to get the e-mail address of the dealer from Brighton I was chatting to in the bar, so if you're reading this - sorry :(


marjorie73: (Default)
(Originally posted at )

I think I am both fortunate, and perhaps unusual, in that I get on well with my (born)family, and the various component parts of the family all get along pretty well, too. Which is good a lot of the time, but particularly at Christmas, when the idea of being gathered together near the middle of no-where with all of my immediate family is something to look forward to, and enjoy, rather than to view as an endurance test.

I was working in the morning of Christmas Eve (But happily was able to sneak out of work rather earlier than planned) so I was the last of the family to arrive, getting to my parent's house by about 2.30 after a journey which was fairly uneventful, marred only by the large and extremely startling piece of stone which was thrown up by a lorry going the other way, and which left a large and unexpected chip in my windscreen. (Hopefully to be fixed by the man from autoglass, who is due to arrive at any moment)

There was a certain amount of tree-decoration going on - mostly consisting of my mother decking the tree while 4 offspring and one partner-of-offspring offered "helpful" advice and constructive critisism. In the true spirit of Christmas she refrained from decking us too!
In our family, everyone gets a Christmas stocking (not just any children there may be lying about the place) so the evening ended with many of us sitting on the landing stuffing stockings.

On Christmas morning, my parents went off, in a public-spirited way, to ring the bells for Christmas services at 2 different churches, and the rest of us, after stockings, and a breakfast of croissants and bucks-fizz (mimosas, to you Americans) went for a short and slippery walk around the village - it was a glorious sunny morning, but cold, and the hard frosts of the past few days on top of the rain and muddiness which pre-dated the frost meant that the steep parts of the path (i.e. almost all of it) were very icy.

Somewhat to my surprise, none of us actually fell over, although we all came close at different times!
The rest of the day passed with delicious food, lots of gifts, far too much chocolate & alcohol, and several games - K & C had brought with them a perfectly fiendish game, called 'Valley of the Pharoahs' which occupied those parts of the early evening not taken up with watching the 1st part of the Dr Who Christmas Special.
Boxing day involved a visit from more relations, which natuarally meant more food, wine, conversation, chocolate and games.
Then, as members of the party began to drift away we moved on to the more lazy and laid back portion of the holiday weekend. Happily, the one really wet and horrible day came on 27th when no-one needed to go out, anyway


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