Old fashioned entertainment

There are good things about the end of British Summer Time too.  The office where I work looks out across the Sussex University campus towards Stanmer Park.  It offers some incredible views when the sun sets.  Someone will look up from the computer, see it, and let everyone else know.  The people sitting near the windows open the blinds and others get up from the desk to stand in front of the window, watching the sunset.  Good, old-fashioned entertainment.

Minimalism

There’s an interesting cache of sound files at ubuweb.  Today I was listening to Raiding the 20th Century.  It’s an interesting mix of documentary and example of cut-ups, including Burroughs, hip-hop and the avant-garde.

Through the guardian I learned that Raymond Carver‘s widow is planning to release the original versions of some of his short stories.  Carver is famous for his minimalism, but it appears some of that was forced on him by his editor, Gordon Lish.  There’s an argument to be made that Carver’s strengths come from the editing of his work, rather than his writing.  Compare some original text from One more thing to the edited version (the comparison is available from the New York Times).  Carver’s text reads:

L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm
again and once more picked up the suitcase. “I
just want to say one more thing, Maxine. Listen
to me. Remember this,” he said. “I love you. I
love you no matter what happens. I love you
too, Bea. I love you both.” He stood there at the
door and felt his lips begin to tingle as he looked
at them for what, he believed, might be the last
time. “Good-bye,” he said.

         “You call this love, L.D.?” Maxine said.
She let go of Bea’s hand. She made a fist. Then
she shook her head and jammed her hands into
her coat pockets. She stared at him and then
dropped her eyes to something on the floor near
his shoes.

         It came to him with a shock that he
would remember this night and her like this. He
was terrified to think that in the years ahead she
might come to resemble a woman he couldn’t
place, a mute figure in a long coat, standing in
the middle of a lighted room with lowered eyes.

         “Maxine!” he cried. “Maxine!”

         “Is this what love is, L.D.?” she said,
fixing her eyes on him. Her eyes were terrible
and deep, and he held them as long as he could.

The edited text is both simpler and more powerful:

        L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm
and picked up the suitcase.

        He said, “I just want to say one more
thing.”

        But then he could not think what it
could possibly be.

The problem with science fiction

The LOLCat bible makes me very happy.  The Adoration of the magi, for example, becomes

something very strange and very funny:

"After dat dey waz about to IM king herod den wun of dem sayd “o, actuly, I hasd a dream at nait timez n ceiling cat wuz like “hey sup d00d.” n I wuz liek “nm, u?” n he wuz like “nm but d00d get dis, king herod r liez tbh. He iz lookin for jesus so he cn pwn him wtf!!!?” Den I woke up bt srsly ceiling cat sed dat.” So teh other waiz d00ds saied “o wtf, I haet dat n00b king herod wtf is hiz problem” n dey all goed bak to der home in d eats bi a moar differnt way." – Mathew 2:12.

This is what’s wrong with science fiction.  Imagine going back to 1992 and showing this to someone, trying to explain why it’s funny.  The way the world’s turning out is always a suprise.  No wonder William Gibson is retreating to the present day.

The Great Omani is Dead

I found a very sad story in today’s Argus:

Ron Cunningham, known as the Great Omani, died surrounded by family and friends at his home in Norfolk Square, Brighton.  He performed his final stunt- a fire-eating trick- for a film crew a week before he died…

Johanna and I met the Great Omani a few years back, on his birthday.  He’d been performing one of his farewell performances and we arrived too late.  Despite that he came downstairs in the pub, chatted and signed our books.  I was very glad to meet him.

The article includes a brief poem:
"They lay the Great Omani in his box
They have done it up with nails instead of locks
But at his funeral do not fear
Chances are he won’t be there

The Weekend

It’s been quite a weekend. Straight after work on Friday I was off to the Marlborough Theatre to be the ‘man-prop’ in Kitty Peels‘ zombie bride act. Sadly I didn’t get to see the climax as I was lying on the stage pretending to be dead, but the audience response was good. I only made one error in the evening. Trying to clean stage-blood from my hands, I said I was havng a ‘Lady Macbeth moment’. Luckily the damage caused by mentioning the scottish play was undone by turning round three times on the spot. We didn’t have time for Kitty to clean the red off her before we headed to Grubbs for burgers, then to You Dance I’ll Clap at the Fortune of War.

Saturday afternoon I went horseriding for the first time, at Three Greys riding school on top of the Downs. The view was incredible- Brighton in one direction, Hurstpierpoint and my old school in the other. There are photos, which I’ll post when I get copies. I can’t wait to go again.

I returned to Brighton in time for the rugby – can’t believe we’re in the finals, particularly after the poor play in the group rounds.

END