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Jan. 12th, 2017

Bogie

My Day In Five Tweets

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Jan. 4th, 2017

Monocle Husky

My Year In Books

Goodreads lets you challenge yourself to read a certain number of books in the year. I set myself 60, then, when this looked like looking too easy, revised to 75.

I read 74.

I was somewhat annoyed.

Standouts for the year were The Bone Clocks, Riddley Walker, Ian Fleming's collected Bond correspondence (The Man with the Golden Typewriter), near-future espionage romp Europe in Autumn, and present-day espionage romp Slow Horses.

See it all in handy pictorial format!
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Jan. 3rd, 2017

Coffee!!

Happy New Year!

I left LJ to its own devices between Christmas and New Year and had to skip back >300 entries last night, so well done everyone.

There were times when 2016 felt like a bit of a drag, but in hindsight there was plenty of good stuff going on:

In January I visited Berlin for the first time and fell in love with the city.

In September I rode the North Coast 500 with a group from the Honda NC700 forum.

A few of my short stories appeared in print, while one from last year won two awards, an Ursa Major and a Cóyotl.

In culture news, I had my first experience of the Globe, to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was enthralled by both The Red Barn at the National and The Red Baron at the RAF Museum.

I saw Paul Simon in concert for the...sixth time? On this occasion, though, I went with my mum, which was a first.

On TV, I loved Deutschland '83 to distraction and was inconsolable when it finished. Luckily The Night Manager came along immediately afterwards to make up for it. Currently: working my way through all of Archer and Paw Patrol on Netflix.

Things to do in 2017:
  • Travel more, perhaps taking in an airshow abroad
  • Get something longer than a short story published
  • Grade to first dan
  • Something awesome for my 40th birthday

Finally, please enjoy this recent self-portrait:

Casino Royale

Dec. 9th, 2016

Monocle Husky

Hotter Dishes

I have a story in adult furry anthology Hot Dish 2 from sofawolf, available now!

My contribution is set in an alternate universe where cats evolved as the dominant sentient life form. It's the equivalent of the Victorian era, and a feline scientist has a startling, controversial theory about the origin of the species...

Look at this beautiful illustration by Anyare, though, crumbs! She has illustrated one of my stories before, and I am just in love with the way she draws cats.

CyDNmgVUAAA4YpU
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Dec. 7th, 2016

Secret Agent Dog

The Killing - Not That One

A friend Telegrammed me yesterday to ask if I wanted a spare ticket to a screening of Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film The Killing at the Barbican that evening, so like a responsible adult I ditched karate and went along.

It's a low-budget flick and I lost count of how many times we saw the same stock horse race footage, but there is lots to enjoy, including the gunman who fondles a puppy throughout his introductory scene.

Our favourite bit, however, was probably this amazing bar fight:

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Dec. 1st, 2016

Ace

The Ambitiously Titled Cultural Happenings Post

TBH, what I've mostly been doing is watching Archer and Paw Patrol on Netflix. But I do get out sometimes.

Theatre



The Red Barn at the National Theatre appears completely sold out until the end of its run, and deservedly so. Based on a non-Maigret novel by Georges Simenon; tense, psychological and snowy; brilliantly staged; has the love interest from The Night Manager in it.

I can't say too much without spoilers, but one scene features those '60s egg-shaped hanging chairs and everyone in my party coveted them greatly.

Music



Too early for Christmas music? Not when it's Kacey Musgraves with A Very Kacey Christmas.

Elsewhere, it's the 25th anniversary of REM's Out Of Time and I have about four hours of Radio 2 on the subject to catch up with.

Film



The Petrie Museum's Archaeology and Espionage season is coming to an end, but I caught their screening of Dishonoured, a 1931 movie in which Marlene Dietrich spies for Austria but finds herself falling for her opposite number, handsome Russian aviator-spy Colonel Kranau.

It's a surprisingly good spy flick, with bonuses of a cat, some biplane action, cat in biplane, and an actor who rejoices in the name of Gustav von Seyffertitz. See the picture below for a small clue as to why I liked it so much.

dishonoured

Nov. 11th, 2016

Secret Agent Dog

The End of the Affair

There have been so many, many celebrity deaths this year that everyone - yes, you! and you! and you! - gets a chance to say "OK, this one. Those others, they shocked and saddened me, sure, but this is the one that has touched me personally. This is the one that made me cry."

Tonight was my night. RIP, Robert Vaughn.

When I saw the news, I picked a pen off my desk and said "Open Channel D" into it, very quietly, just in case.

But there was no reply.

Man from UNCLE annual front cover showing Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo
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Sad/angry Huskyteer

Remembrance

There seems to have been quite a bit of nastiness surrounding poppies this year, both from those in favour of wearing them and those against, and it was saddening me a great deal.

Then we - voluntarily, without any pronouncement from management - held the two minutes' silence in the office, and were hushed and solemn and united for 120 seconds. I spent the time looking out of the window at the distant trees, rather than at my screen, and was awed, as always, by the thought that the world has been doing this every year since 1919.

(On transport services in nearby Croydon, silence was held for an extra minute in honour of the casualties from Wednesday's tram crash.)

Here's a family member's lucky mascot from the First World War (must've worked!), which lives by my bed now.

Lucky black cat

Nov. 9th, 2016

Karate

Fake It Till You Make It

Last night's karate class concentrated on kata, as there's a grading coming up. (I do not expect to grade this time; the last one is still fresh in my memory, thanks.)

At the end of the lesson, one of the instructors beckoned me over for some wise words.

"When you grade to first dan," he said, "you can't second-guess your kata. Show confidence and do it as if you're already good at it, even if you do it wrong. There's no void; the skills will come to fill it. Talk and walk like the Alice who's fully confident, and you will get there."

Life lessons, there.
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Nov. 7th, 2016

Something So Right

The Werewolf's Coming

I took the tail end of last week off in order to see Paul Simon at the BIC on Thursday evening, and it was totally worth it, of course.

I went with my mum; incredibly, it was her first time seeing him live.

It was my sixth, I believe.

We had seats near enough the front for a good view of even the most diminutive singer-songwriters. The band, on their panoply of instruments, did a rousing instrumental 'Gumboots', then Paul bounced in and went into 'The Boy in the Bubble'.

I had my usual start-of-the-gig worries: he's losing it! his voice is going! the band's drowning him out! before everything settled down and became wonderful. Paul leaped and bounced and strutted, even making time for a little banter with the audience. The timeline jumped about from the '70s to the '00s to the '80s, but it was his first venture back to the and-Garfunkel era with 'America', my very favourite S&G number, that transported me and callmemadam to a higher place.

What else did I love? Well, everything, but I'm going to mention 'Rewrite' from the last-but-one album, the bouncy 'Late in the Evening' from One-Trick Pony, and the instrumental 'El Condor Pasa' that segued surprisingly into 'Duncan'. Special mention also to band member Vincent, from Cameroon, who has been playing with Paul for 25 years; he's at least a foot taller than Mr Simon, and watching them play guitar at each other was incredibly sweet.

Several songs from the new album, including title track 'Stranger to Stranger', 'The Werewolf' (lots of fun with scary lighting and sound effects) and 'Wristband'.

"That song was called 'Wristband'," Paul announced at the end, "and this song is called 'Graceland'!"

There was a lot of Graceland, including 'You Can Call Me Al', to which everyone danced wildly, and 'That Was Your Mother', one of my favourites. That's because it is thirty years since the album was released. (I note from my writeup that I also saw Paul for the 20th anniversary.)

I see from the setlist that there were 28 songs, which is pretty incredible.

I bought this ridiculous souvenir of my evening, which will also come in useful should I find myself in some sort of emergency scenario requiring a metre of green string.

wristband
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