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Showing posts from April, 2014

Ardent Thomas

Having become greedy for Tolstoy after a few appetising short stories, but not feeling quite hungry enough to stomach all 560,000 words of War and Peace, I settled on Anna Karenina as a middle course. I'm about halfway through, and there's this scene which nicely sets the, er, scene for my latest attempt at some calendar-specific reflection:

Country land-owner Levin is preparing for his long longed-for marriage to Kitty. He has cheerfully parried all of his bachelor friends' jibes about the hindrances and botherments of wives, and, left alone, muses peacefully on his future happiness, until...
  'But do I know her ideas, her wishes, her feelings?’ some voice suddenly whispered to him. The smile died away from his face, and he grew thoughtful. And suddenly a strange feeling came upon him. There came over him a dread and doubt—doubt of everything.
  ‘What if she does not love me? What if she’s marrying me simply to be married? What if she doesn’t see herself what she’s …

A *classic* mother-in-law story...

The title of this post is guaranteed to make at least one person extremely nervous (should she see it) and any number of others darkly curious...but I confess outright that it is little more than shameless clickbait. I will be introducing a mother-in-law eventually, but not my one (not that I would struggle to find lots of wonderfully positive things to say, but I suspect that she would prefer to be spared even that).

I was rather intrigued, the other day, to stumble on the concept of the Bechdel test -- a set of criteria for assessing gender bias in works of fiction. To pass, a film or book must have 1) at least two women in it, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. The idea (and the name) come from a 1985 comic strip by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel: a character who has made this the guiding principle for her own cinema-going laments that the last film she was able to see was Alien..."the two women in it talk to each other about the monster". A…

Dr. John Watson, General Practitioner

On the subject of unsubtle Christological allusions in contemporary culture: Sherlock. No prizes for guessing where I'm going here...

At the end of Season 2, Sherlock dies -- under dramatic, self-sacrificial circumstances. John Watson sees the whole thing, and is devastated. There can be no doubt: in order to save his friends from Moriarty's malevolent scheming, Sherlock throws himself off the roof of St Bart's, where John is (almost) the first on the scene of his lifeless corpse, and even checks his (absent) pulse before the hospital staff intervene and carry the body away. The episode ends with John and Mrs. Hudson standing sorrowfully by the grave, longing (but with no cause to hope) that it might not be so.
Two years elapse before the start of Season 3, and John has returned to his old life. He no longer lives at 221B Baker Street, and has lost touch with Mrs. Hudson -- not through lack of affection, he just can't stand to be reminded. He has dealt with things as …

"Not like this..."

It's been a few years since I last watched The Matrix but Switch's quietly horrified "Not like this" is a long-running household meme for reasons which I have entirely forgotten. The line is from the scene where Cypher exposes himself as a traitor to the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar and, having liaised with the Agents to set up a trap, and shot Tank and Dozer on the ship, begins to pull the plugs on those who are still inside the Matrix. Trinity, on the other end of the phone line, watches helplessly as her friends drop down in front of her... "By the way, if you have something terribly important to say to Switch, I'd suggest you say it now," he taunts. All this, in exchange for the promise of a life of blissful ignorance inside the Matrix. As it does many other aspects of the Christian 'story', the film captures the gut-wrenching bleakness of betrayal pretty poignantly: one of their own...one with whom they have lived and eaten and bravely conte…

Powers of 2

Oh! the inundation of triumphant screenshots: four-by-four arrays of cool-grey bevelled tiles, warming up to rust and cheeky crimson, dawning -- finally! -- victorious in glorious sunshine yellow. If you haven't 2048ed yet, you're nothing in today's world, even should you boast whole hosts of grand post-nominals. Or so it would seem from Facebook. For those who've been passed by by this particular phenomenon, 2048 is an online, single-player, sliding block puzzle game, the aim of which is to collide (and consequently additively combine) matching tiles displaying powers of two until the value 2048 (= 2^11) is reached. It's all the rage. At least, it was a week ago...at the time I start to write it is already on the wane, and by the time I finish (in a few months if my recent rate of composition's anything to go by) we'll doubtless be several new-fangled iterations down the line, our Facebook feeds populated by some hybrid whatsit -- virtual cultivation of e…