Scintillate, scintillate, o nocturnal illumination

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Another card arrived today, a Christmas star poem from little princess Éfhelìnye with a Lewis Carroll card. A count of the cards on my mantelpiece comes to twelve. They have all come. A successful return for the cards I sent out.

I went into town today looking for the new Gin Wigmore CD Gravel and Wine. I confess to being disappointed. Heavy use of drums and bass guitar obscured her voice and moments of this album sounded like white noise to me. The title of the album came from the first song which I found was the first piece on my initial hearing.

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Conlang Exchange Card update

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Since returning from Christmas three more exchange cards have arrived: a letter from Njenfalgar; a postcard from Dave Peterson in Dothraki; and a card from Amanda Furrow with a Merechi sea shanty sung to I Saw Three Ships.

Dothraki is, of course, the language of the leather-clad horse-riders of the television series, A Game of Thrones. It’s playing on Sky TV. I disdain to pay for television so I haven’t seen it yet. I expect it is a matter of time before it plays on their free-to-air channel Prime and I will watch it then.

This brings the number of cards to ten. I sent out twelve and haven’t checked to see who I have yet to receive from, or have not yet received from. I am satisfied with my return from this exchange.

Falling Skies: Episode One

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I missed the opening minutes and arrived in the middle of a scene where the last of the human forces are being driven of a New Englander city. With no report from Alask-Canada, Mexico, Asia, or Trans-Atlantica, Planet America has been taken over by aliens: the multi-limbed skitters and humanoid terminators the humans call mechs. I started wondering why the aliens are dimorphic way before anyone on the screen did. The aliens dominate the landscape with fortresses that look like a cross between stranded oil-rigs and the Jetsons. The humans need all the help they can get as their main character is Noah Wyle wandering around as a history professor without tenure. His pep talks run along the lines of Remember the Athenians! Oh, dear.

Everyone’s holding up way better to the end of civilisation than they did on Battlestar Galactica

The survivors stand around an dying alien they have brought down and wonder what it’s thinking. It looked fairly obvious that it was something like Bloody hell, I can’t breathe!

Note to the teenagers: if everyone can hear you snogging in the bedroom you might as well give them something worth listening to. It will be good for morale. (Oh, right. This is family entertainment.)

The episode ends with our heroic survivors being captured by arrow-toting bikies. It turns out alright when the mooks turn on each other faster than orcs. No honour among thieves, I’m afraid. Most of them go kaboom and our guys are left with the great goblin as their prisoner.

Transcending the Boundaries

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You can learn stuff while travelling with bus drivers. I imagine it’s a bit like taxi drivers. I was travelling on the Intercity bus between Dunedin and Invercargill. The bus driver announced that we had crossed an imaginary line, into the Province of Southland. In the Nineteenth Century when the Southland pioneers wanted a provincial government that represented their interests more than the Provincial Council of Otago based in Dunedin they pushed for their own council based in Invercargill. It’s not mentioned that the area set up for the province was smaller than later territorial bodies, an autonomous enclave in the much larger province of Otago. I mentioned it to Southern Dave while I was visiting, who put its historic boundaries between the Mataura and Waiau rivers, carefully keeping most of the gold-mining areas under Otago’s jurisdiction, and in Dunedin’s pockets. This was where the money was at the time, and a significant number of the male workforce in Southland followed it. Money talks, it says Good-bye. Eventually after fifteennine years (which is not a bad run, the same length of time as Labour in government under Helen Clark) Southland merged back into Otago. A few years later provincial government in New Zealand was disbanded and replaced with local district authorities. The latter bodies identified as Southland covered a wider area. Southlanders continue to maintain their identity as independent-minded provincials ever since. Fair enough. Just don’t mistake the historic facts with the myth of our identity.

Scrivener’s Moon

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Waiting to leave for the bus depot, I’ve had enough time to finish Scrivener’s Moon before I go. It’s final lesson: The bigger they are the harder they hit back. All the pieces are now in place are now in place at the dawn of the Second Age of London: the Rise and Fall of the Traction Cities. This was covered in the original quartet of books in the Mortal Engines series.

I understand that Reeve plans a book on the adventures of Arlo Thursday alone before returning to the closure of the story of Fever Crumb.

There is also a rumour on Facebook that Weta and Sir Peter Jackson are looking at a Mortal Engines movie. Whatever else I think of Weta making these movies one good thing would come out of it: Andy Serkis as Master Shrike! Trust me, it would work.

I look forward to more books from this series in the new year.

New Year Greetings from Thy Pyramids

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Another card arrived today from Leland Paul. The card is a stencil of an imaginary glyph. I haven’t been about to find out more as the card directs me to thypyramids.com/8Qi. While I can find the website, the page I’m being directed to eludes me. Never mind, it will join the others.

I’m away tomorrow to celebrate Christmas with the Araturxes Clan. Any further updates on Conlang Exchange Cards will wait until after I get back. Which should be about the fifth Day of Christmas.

Yew Tree Woman visited me this evening to drop off a book. It’s one I’ve been waiting for, Radical Political Theology by Clayton Crockett. It looks like solemn reading with references to such monsters as Spinoza, Hobbes and Derrida. A glad at the introduction intends it for a readership in the American religiously-immersed culture. I shall have to read further to discover whether it has space in New Zealand’s spirituality of suspicion (of religion).

If I finish it before it’s due back to Canterbury University Library I might have to wave it in Jason’s direction. It’s part of a series with Slavoj Žižek as an editor.

This will help as I look for diversions over an extended summer break.

Sitting in the Sun

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Two more Conlang Exchange cards today. One was a postcard with a stamp from Norway. The text wasn’t translated, nor the author identified. I sent a card to Koppa Dasao, so I think it could be from him. The other was a drawing of a wooden teepee-like hut from Tristan. I wonder what the context of the greeting to the picture is?

I took a lot of time to read today in the sun. It allowed me to finish Rule 34 by Charlie Stross. His antagonist in this story was an icky head to get into. Not the worst I’ve read by a long shot, but still… I think the ending was intended to be disturbing. Stross is unflinching when it comes to the New Pessimism although I like his wit and his spin on things.

I’m closing in on the end of Scrivener’s Moon by Philip Reeve. He surprised me by having one character leave the book permanently halfway through after being fleshed out more in the previous two books of this series of prequels. I await to see more after I’ve finished this title.

And I’m getting through Banquo’s Son by T. K. Roxborogh. Despite being a sequel to Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy it feels like a historical romance to me. Not quite a bodice-ripper; definitely intended for a more sensative reader than me. I will stick with it as I know members of the Roxborogh family.

A couple of days to go before I depart for the gathering of the clan at Christmas, overnight with my brother in Invercargill, then to join our new partner-family in Te Anau.

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