Young Men by Balletboyz

I’m not really a ballet fan. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t go out of my way to watch it, either. I certainly appreciate the skill, athleticism and artistry of dancers, but somehow it doesn’t grab me the way that live music or theatre does. Maybe I’m just resentful that I wasn’t the kind of twiggy, graceful little girl who would have felt comfortable in a ballet class, who knows. Given this — shall we call it indifference? — to ballet, I was surprised to find myself watching Balletboyz ‘Young Men’, a ballet about First World War soldiers screened recently on BBC Two. I was even more surprised when I couldn’t stop watching it.

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Kate Tempest

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Not long after it was launched, I subscribed to Apple Music. I know some people swear by Spotify, but I had tried it some time ago, and didn’t get on with it — I’m not entirely sure why. In many ways, I’m an old-fashioned music listener, and I prefer to listen to whole albums, most often in the order in which the artist intended. I found that Apple Music supported browsing and listening by album rather than song more easily, so that’s what I’ve stuck with. I still buy music in physical formats (most often vinyl), and so the ability to try out any album and play it multiple times to determine whether it is a keeper is very useful. I’ve also found that it has made me more adventurous, simply because I don’t have to pay per album, and can give something a quick try to see if it is my cup of tea. That strategy has led to me finding music that I probably would not otherwise have considered. So it was that I came across Kate Tempest’s album, Let Them Eat Chaos.

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Agent Carter

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We don’t subscribe to any cable or satellite TV channels (though we do have a LoveFilm subscription for films on DVD1), as we generally find that there’s more than enough material that we want to watch on the terrestrial TV channels. Just occasionally, however, a series that we want to watch is shown on a channel that we don’t have access to, and we buy the series on iTunes. I’ve done this for the two series of Agent Carter, and I am hooked.

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Song of the Sea

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Song of the Sea Poster

Last weekend, we watched the animated film, Song of the Sea, by the same director (Tomm Moore) as The Secret of Kells, which I so enjoyed a few years ago. I wasn’t disappointed: this is a gorgeous, joyful, haunting film. It has the same richly layered and beautifully coloured imagery, which is inspired — like The Secret of Kells — by Celtic art, and explores Irish folklore.

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The Duke of Burgundy

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I haven’t reviewed any films here recently, having moved most of my reviews over to Slipstream, but I saw a film last week that I can’t stop thinking about, and I wanted to write about it here. Actually, I think this will be less of a review of the film than an extended ramble about stuff that it made me think about.

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Candy 1 Pedals

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I mentioned when I wrote about my new bike that I fitted pedal straps — specifically, Restraps. I really like them, and have used a similar (but slightly more flexible) style of straps before on my recumbent bike. However, after using them for a couple of weeks, I found that I had great trouble getting my second foot into the strap. I tried tightening it, loosening it, entering from different angles, but nothing really seemed to help.

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Noodler's Konrad fountain pen

Disclaimer: this pen was sent to me free of charge by Pen Chalet in exchange for my review of the pen on this site. However, the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. If you watch documentaries where the presenters examine original historical documents, there’s often a moment when you find yourself marvelling at the beautiful handwriting of the document’s author. I’m thinking particularly of documents from the 19th Century which are often written in an immaculate copperplate hand.

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Fictional history

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I’ve read some amazing books recently, but I wanted to focus on just two of the works I’ve enjoyed, or am in the process of enjoying. The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson I seem to have hit a seam of interest in historical fiction recently (as you’ll see with my other choice), and have swanned about from Tudor London (the wonderful Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom) to 1930s Berlin (with Philip Kerr’s Private Investigator, Bernie Gunther).

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Nebraska

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Last weekend, we finally finished watching one of the best films I have seen in weeks: Nebraska. I say finally because we had to return the first DVD to Lovefilm because it was scratched so badly it wouldn’t play. To divert from my subject for a moment, what the heck do people do with rented DVDs? We fairly regularly get disks that look as if someone has decided to give them a quick polish on the playing surface with coarse sandpaper.

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LaunchBar 6

I know from bitter experience of using other people’s Macs that I find it very hard to use a computer without a launcher of some kind installed. Having to mouse around to launch applications or files (let alone all the other things that launchers let you accomplish) feels positively archaic once you have got used to relying on one. As I wrote about when LaunchBar 5 was released, I’ve used (at one time or another) almost every third-party launcher including Quicksilver, LaunchBar and Butler, but in recent years, I have settled in to using Alfred exclusively.

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