Ichabod is itchy

July 28, 2006

Movin’ on out

Filed under: life — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:09 pm

Hoorah! We have finally exchanged contracts on a wonderful new house and set a moving date– Friday 4th August. You may be thinking this has come out of the blue, but I have avoided writing about it on here for fear of jinxing us and it all come tumbling down. But the contracts are exchanged and there’s no backing out now!!!

Got a whole weekend of packing to look forward to — not going to be fun in this weather…

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July 27, 2006

Double take ads

Filed under: tv — by ichabodisitchy @ 5:55 pm

If you live in the UK and watch TV, you may know what I mean by the ‘Sony balls’ advert and the ‘Honda choir’ advert. The first shows thousands of multi-coloured balls bouncing down the streets of San Francisco (real, by the way–they’re not computer generated). The second features a choir of people in a car-park providing the soundtrack to a car driving around.

Both are, in my opinioin, excellent ads. Well, thinkbox tv has produced ‘virals’ of these two ads. The Sony spin-off is for Tango and features raining fruit. The Honda spin-off is for 118 118 and has the two 118 men doing a soundtrack to a trip in their car. You can see the originals alongside them. Check them out– v cool.

July 26, 2006

Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:03 pm

In an attempt to draw me away from my usual reading material (Victorian novels and crime fiction), my brother gave me Mario Vargas Llosa’s semi-autobiographical book Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter for my birthday. I’m beginning to feel like I always rave about books and films when I talk about them on this blog but I must say (once again!) that this book is a real treasure. It is set in Lima and has a wonderful Latino flavour to it. You can really hear the bustle of the capital’s streets as you read it and the warmth of the Peruvian people comes through loud and clear.

The book is a wonderful mix of fantasy and reality. The principal story is about Mario–an eighteen year old kid working for a small-time radio station and trying to make it as a writer on the side. You watch him fall for his step-aunt, a divorcee who is 14 years older than him, and then follow the lovers as they try to reconcile their relationship with their different positions both within their family and in society at large.

But the thing that adds depth to the book is the parallel story of Pedro Camacho–a Bolivian scriptwriter who comes to the radio station to provide the storylines for a series of fantastical soap operas. The chapters of the book alternate between the ‘real’ life stories of Mario, Julia and Camacho and the ‘fantasy’ life stories of Camacho’s soap operas (although it takes a while before you realise this is what is happening–to start with you just fall in love with a wonderful cast of Peruvians caught up in one silly story after the other).

Camacho works all hours of the day and churns out soap-operas at an unprecedented rate–each one more successful than the other. Mario, on the other hand, struggles his way through a succession of short stories, never quite satisfied with how they turn out. As the book progresses, you start to see the evolvement of these two characters– as Mario becomes a stronger and more successful writer, drawing on his real life experiences for inspiration, Camacho descends further and further into madness and confusion, lost in his fantasy world. This deterioration is marvellously portrayed through the ‘soap-opera’ chapters, which become more and more muddled and increasingly ludicrous. As Mario’s star rises, Camacho’s starts to fall.

The ending was a little weak but, my gosh, the lead up to it was fantastic. I really must make a conscious effort to read more Vargas Llosa.

July 25, 2006

Bombon the dog

Filed under: film — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:43 pm

We watched a lovely Argentine film last night, called Bombon- El perro.

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Juan Villegas is an out-of-work mechanic, on the wrong side of 50– a victim of the economic nosedive that took its toll on countless families across Argentina in the early 2000s. When he helps a woman stuck on the roadside fix up her car, she gives him a Dogo Argentino–a large white game hound–called Bombon. Together, man and dog travel around Patagonia, getting work where they can. Things look set to come through for the pair when Villegas meets a dog exhibitor who whisks them off to the local dog show, where Bombon wins first prize and becomes a valuable cash commodity in the form of a stud dog. The irony is that Villegas humiliating and pitiful economic circumstances are mirrored in Bombon who, when it comes time to ‘perform’, fails to deliver.
This film is truly lovely (if a little ‘bumbly’). Villegas is spectacular and inspired a feeling of real warmth and sympathy in me. Bombon is (speaking as a dog lover) beautiful. The backdrop of Patagonian landscape is magical, and the ending is (thankfully, for I kept having the terrible feeling that something awful was going to happen) uplifting.

July 24, 2006

Mac toys

Filed under: webTech — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:18 pm

For those of you with Macs (Ian–eyes on you!!) here are a couple of cooooool toys that use the internal sudden motion sensor on your computer. Your Mac obviously needs to have a sudden motion sensor, so they only work on Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

First up is the SeisMac— a groovy application that turns your Macbook into a seismograph and displays x,y and z motion in a multi-real-time graph. For example, here’s a screen shot:

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The high movement shown above is obviously me shaking the computer to get a good picture! But it’s really very sensitive– mine picks up me tapping the floor under the table for example, and even if I talk loudly to the computer!

Even more cool– combine a Mac with starwars and what do you get? The MacSaber!

21732.jpg This also uses the sudden motion sensor–but rather than a visual effect, you get an audio result. If you’re even a tiny starwars fan, you will be delighted when you hear your Macbook turn into an instant lightsaber. Move the computer around and listen to the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh…

July 21, 2006

Where are the polar bears?

Filed under: arctic — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:03 pm

My beloved Lewis has just returned from 2 weeks in northern Sweden, Norway and Finland–inside the Arctic circle–where he has been measuring carbon fluxes (or something like that). He brought back some photos– I was rather excited, expecting lots of floating icebergs and roaring polar bears. Well take a look for yourself:

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They could have been in Wales! Not a polar bear or iceberg in sight! But he did bring this picture of this lovely mangey reindeer…

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I just love the antlers– they look sort of fuzzy and soft..

July 18, 2006

Hayfever

Filed under: theatre — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:14 pm

We went to watch the Noel Coward play Hayfever (playing at the Haymarket Theatre, London) over the weekend. It is a side-achingly funny play, set in 1925, about the bad manners of a melodramatic and slightly bonkers family who all, independently, invite guests down to their country home for the weekend and then proceed to entertain, flirt with, ignore, embarass and humiliate them in one way or another. The guests become increasingly alarmed and distraught and eventually make their escape by creeping out of the house during a blazing family row over breakfast.

Judi Dench headlines the play as Judith Bliss (the mother of the ‘host’ family) and was superb in her role as the overly-dramatic ageing West End star who has been forced into early retirement. The whole thing was deliciously funny from beginning to end and simply wonderful to watch.

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Noel Coward had the amazing ability to capture social situations in a timeless way so that, even though the play was written 80-odd years ago, you find yourself saying ‘I know someone just like that!’ There is one scene in particular that brought tears of laughter streaming down my face– a couple of the guests have been left alone to entertain themselves in the sitting room. They have never met before, nor appear to have much in common (one is a diplomat, the other a young flapper). There follows a series of excruciating exchanges of small talk, interspersed by long pauses of silence as they struggle to find an opening for conversation. Well- the number of times I’ve found myself in that situation! And they played it brilliantly.

If you’re in London, and have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

July 17, 2006

Paint it Pollock-style

Filed under: art — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:02 pm

For those of you who like the expressionist painter Jackson Pollock (and even those of you who don’t), check out this website: http://jacksonpollock.org.

You can create your own Pollock-style painting, complete with spatters! Great for kids too– my two year old goddaughter got the hang of it within miliseconds and is addicted to the site now! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to save one of her creations, but here is one of mine:

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July 16, 2006

Rake art

Filed under: art — by ichabodisitchy @ 11:36 am

I’m afraid I’ve forgotton which blog I saw this on, so can’t give a proper acknowledgement… But here is a set of photos–created by Lenny & Meriel–of ‘rake art’. They use a rake to create patterns in the sand and then take aerial photos of the designs using a kite.

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A few years ago, I spent a glorious summer on the island of Pabbay (outer Hebrides of Scotland) and have fond memories of rigging up a camera to a kite and taking air-photos of the island’s beaches– although the most creative we ever got was making ‘sand-angels’. I wish we’d thought of rake art then– I think it’s simply beautiful.

End of a whirlwind

Filed under: life,weddings — by ichabodisitchy @ 11:35 am

I haven’t blogged for over a week now– starting to feel withdrawal symptoms! But it has been a rather hectic week– two weddings, world cup final, Mum & Dad staying, annual visits to relatives and old family friends, theatre outings, exhibitions… Just packed Mum & Dad off into a taxi to the airport– the house is feeling rather empty now 😦 But on the plus side, I can get back to blogging!

I must say that weddings are simply the best kind of parties. Everyone does something a little different, and yet there is a common theme to all of them– a gathering of family and friends to celebrate the love and affection two people feel towards each other. I am always overcome by the tremendous warmth of feeling, good-will and general happiness that you find at weddings. And I have definitely become more sentimental about them since going through my own. Nowadays I always get choked up with emotion and find myself shedding a tear or two at some point in the proceedings. So two in one week has been quite emotional…

First one was a great friend of mine from my University days. I was a bridesmaid (is 30 too old to be a bridesmaid?) I was, of course, very touched to be asked and had great fun in the lead up to the wedding, choosing materials and helping the bride find the right outfit and make-up and flowers etc. And I was even rather pleased with the outfits selected for the bridesmaids. Although the colour (champagne-gold & ivory), which we had only seen a swatch of, turned out not to be the most flattering for my slightly-larger-than-I’d-like bottom, which ended up looking like a large, shiny, gold Christmas bauble…. Oh well.

Second wedding was a very different affair– it was my brother’s in fact. Very small gathering at the local registry office (they’re planning a grand party for next May). But it was equally emotional (although I got to wear a dress of my own choosing so looked decidedly better than last week!) I still can’t quite believe that my little brother, who I still think of as a kid, has got married.

Yes, indeed– I simply love weddings.

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