i am not a number

Many years ago, prior even to my own existence, there was a British TV show starring Patrick McGoohan titled The Prisoner. Actually, McGoohan not only starred in it, he also created, wrote, produced, and directed it; clearly a passion project which contrasted individual needs with those of the group. It was rather surreal and ideas driven, with a certain eccentricity and a key logo being a penny farthing.

I had initially thought it was all filmed on a specially created set, but discovered later that the village where it was set was real. Portmeirion is a town in North Wales, on the River Dwyryd that was built during the mid 20th century. There is an extensive quote from Lewis Mumford in the wikipedia article noting:

an artful and playful little modern village, designed as a whole and all of a piece … a fantastic collection of architectural relics and impish modern fantasies

In the series and in the descriptions it looks deliciously quirky and eccentric. I don’t often visit places from TV or cinema but this one particularly appeals both as a reference to The Prisoner and interesting destination of its own.

Pathway beside canal in Oxford, OK.It looks like I may get to travel to Europe in 2020 as my partner will be undertaking a study trip supported by The Churchill Trust. Consequently I am putting together my own self-funded trip that will occasionally intersect with her’s as she’ll be working. The challenge is find places to visit that I’m happy to visit by myself, and the village of The Prisoner might just fit.

Location-wise, it’s not far from Dublin, possibly a few hours by bus and ferry, which is significant as it is the host city for IFLA in 2020 and I’m hoping to make the first few days of it. The last time I went to an IFLA conference was in Milan in 2009 and I think that was just after the IFLA Australia conference had been cancelled. I have good memories of the Milan conference, aside from the heat, and good friends and connections and would love to go again, hopefully Dublin will be a little cooler.

The challenge of visiting a town in Wales is to avoid another Welsh town, namely Hay-On-Wye, rumoured to have more bookshops per capita than anywhere else. I was last there in 2008, visiting many bookshops and bought more than a few books. Afterall, it’s the one place where buying books is its own form of souveniring :-)

june is gone

Another #blogjune has passed. This time round I managed 11 posts in 30 days, or 1 in 3 on average. Not bad, not great but I’m ok with that though it does make a list of top posts and bottom posts a little more challenging. I pottered about, got some things done, changed themes and images around, and finally restored my movie ratings from the backup.

Looks like I managed to have someone look at my blog every day of June and my three best read posts were:

Thinking back on an early post about the challenges of writing and developing content, I had a thought. I still have a few of my exercise books from school and I am tempted to check the English ones for stories I may wrote and blog them. Then see if I can use those to generate more creative stuff. If nothing else, it’ll give current me a chance to revisit younger me.

Hmmmm…1st of July and I’m already out of puff :-)

updated flicks

Surprisingly, I have finally migrated my movie ratings over from my backup of the dead zip to the current site. As with many migrations, the bulk was fine – literally cut and paste from the backup html – followed by some massaging of the results. There was the odd carriage return and a whole bunch of accents that didn’t seem to migrate well. Still, relatively painless for several hundred lines of code/content.

State Theatre neon signThe bulk of the content covers 2001-2005 with a little bit of 2007 and 2016. There’s some inbetween years where I was at least writing paragraph summaries of filmfest viewings and I think I can convert them to starred ratings. I liked my approach in 2016 of adding a short line of thoughts to complement the rating. Will see if I can add that for some of the older ones and do it some more going forward.

A lot of interesting films in the 2000s. Not fully sure what I’m going to do with it all. Part of me is a little interested in creating a personal database of all my film stuff, fully normalised of course. Certainly I need to explore merging the basic starred stuff with the reviews I’ve written.

To start with, here is a list of everything I gave a 5 star rating to. I’ll do a new version of this when I add the rest of the content:

 

zip is dead…really this time

It finally happened. Zip, my old, old ISP, is well and truly dead; connections started failing early June and none of the URLs work anymore. Email doesn’t work and no matter what URL variations I use I can no longer reach the old blog. They announced they were killing it off a year or so back and I haven’t been charged since but some things continued to work. No more.

cropped-5278187613_df96b4a56b_b.jpgThankfully I still have a couple of backups of my offline development environment which includes a full copy of the blog and the wayback machine has grabbed a copy too. Sadly, this post of mine from 2010 still needs to be done. Perhaps while film remains on my mind I could at least migrate over all my movie ratings. Or radically, add ratings for the films I’ve seen this year.

New things to do now include updating the email profiles on a couple of my devices to remove zip altogether. That should stop the error messages I get every time I start up. Proving yet again I prefer shiny and pretty over any work of depth, I have instead updated the theme and changed the banner pic :-)

bookish avoidance

I have lists of books to buy, kept in different places: books bookmarked, saved, noted, vaguely recalled, or simply listed. Recommendations from friends online, random stumblings, some p some e, a conversation there, an article, unrelated mentions elsewhere. Lists of books to buy, and some to read. Some are pretty, some are scary, some need to be read.

nicely bound books on a shelfSome years ago, I started blogging lists of books as a way to reduce the rate of purchase. I have a certain addiction to collecting books, their possession, ownership. Books have lined the corridors of my life, physical and mental; I can find it hard to distinguish between book as object and book as reading matter.

Upon seeing a book I liked, in a bookshop, or online, or other places, I forced myself to add it to a list on my phone. Then I would blog on new additions to the list every few weeks. Look upon my almost purchases ye mighty and despair for behold there was nothing as acquisition had been avoided.

The making of lists continues to be effective some of the time. I am buying much less these days though some of what I buy is nicer. I continue to seek nicer editions of my grotty paperbacks. I also look for new things and new authors.

a few things I have listed and managed not to buy include:

Looking at them again for this post, I am tempted by once more…

filmfest 2019

Filmfest is done and dusted for another year. Saw 25 films altogether of which but two were documentaries. Unsurprisingly documentaries aren’t really my thing. I think I had a reasonable festival this year seeing a bunch of good movies, a few fab ones and a dud or two. In choosing my films I tried to go for stuff I either wouldn’t otherwise see, or were unlikely for a later release. This did mean I missed some good stuff but it was good to push myself into less familiar territory.

No festival is really complete without seeing something too long for a regular cinema release and this year that film, at 7.5 hours (with 2 ten minute intermissions) was Sátántangó, a restored 1994 Hungarian movie. It was long and slow, yet interesting. It played with techniques, particularly around multiple perspectives and jumping around in the timeline. At the same, it spent a lot of time on observational shots, many minutes watching a character, or characters, go about their business. There was a sense of larger metaphors and indeed, the blurb referred to it as an allegory of the decline of Hungarian Communism. I sorta feel I need to read an essay or three to fully appreciate it.

Surprisingly for me, the film that won best picture, Parasite [Sth Korea], was also one of my favourites. I tend to find my choices out of sync with the broader audience and it is rare for my favourites to appear in the top bunch for festival goers. Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, who also did Snowpiercer, had a nice, warm flow which was never going to end well, yet took some surprising twists in narration as it spiralled down toward the end. It mixed genres deftly, and with humour, while remaining consistent in its social critique.

My faves

Other interesting titles

Things I missed and hope to see later

ten years

Realised today that this is the tenth year of #blogjune. Ten Years! Ten years ago, inspired by a post from Bookgrrl, a bunch of library folk, including myself, started blogging every June. Looking at my stats, the first three years were strong after which it slowly died down though perking up a little in 2017. Here’s the annual figures for my blog for the last 10 years:

10 year graph of blog usage

I’m a bit surprised we’re still going though numbers continue to decline. Looking at this year’s effort, I’m currently blogging around once every 2 days on average. I’m happy enough with that and the posts I’m making are sufficiently substantial. Got a few more ideas churning around in my head though filmfest is playing havoc a little with my ability to keep up.

Looking through my wordpress admin, I note that I have over a dozen drafts for posts from previous years. I suspect a few of those could still be used and I have various notes here and there on things to say. I am not lacking for content, just will and mojo.