strange_complex: (Tonino reading)
I'm going to Bristol tomorrow, and need to be there before 10am. I'd quite assumed I would need to catch a train at about 8am, possibly a shade earlier. But, thanks to a rather tedious gap in the timetable, I shall in fact have to catch one at 07:06 tomorrow morning. It's either that, or wait until 08:45, and be late for the thing I'm going to. *grumble*

Still, it will all be worth it, 'cos what I am going to is a day-long workshop at Bristol University's English Department, focussing on Diana Wynne Jones' book, Howl's Moving Castle. There'll be a morning discussion led by a member of the English dept, and then a lunch-time panel featuring Diana herself in conversation with three other authors also being covered by the day, and an afternoon session in which we get to ask her questions. I've never met her before, and am very excited. Any suggestions for questions to ask her are welcome! Shall be frantically re-reading Howl on the train tomorrow morning, and trying to think of a few goods ones of my own...

And, as if that's not enough, afterwards I shall be hooking up with my oldest friend, Amy WINOLJ, to spend the rest of the weekend with her and her cute-as-buttons daughter, Holly. There'll be a street barbecue happening, going out for food and drinks in the evening, and, of course, a scheduled slot for Doctor Who! Little Holly is already watching this with her Mum, at the tender age of nearly two - and she could hardly not be, since Mum is a former Bristol DocSoc president! Apparently, Holly doesn't much like the Ood, and needs reassuring that all is OK. But I think that will kind of add to the fun, bringing back memories of when Amy and I used to get scared by our Dads pretending to be various Dr. Who monsters. After all, what was Bristol's DocSoc officially called, if not 'Behind the Sofa'?

Yup, should be a good weekend.
strange_complex: (Penny Dreadful)
Gah. If I was Howl, I think I'd be going round manifesting green slime a lot at the moment. That's just how I feel this week: tragic and dramatic and green slime-y.



Edited via computer to add:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Howl, expressing his feelings with green slime

strange_complex: (ITV digital Monkey popcorn)
Went to see Howl's Moving Castle (the subtitled version) last night at the Phoenix, despite the hideous cold and the loooooong day. It was certainly worth going to see, if only because, having read the book, I was curious to see how it would translate into anime. But definitely odd.

Overall, the film had most of the episodes, characters and plot elements that the book does, but they had been put together in such a different way that the effect was rather like looking at a familiar scene through a warped stained-glass window. Or perhaps like one of those things in the Times where they take a familiar English idiom, and put it through Babelfish a couple of times, to get something like 'They cannot inform an old dog of new turns'.

This isn't surprising when you take a story written for British children by a quietly imaginative and wickedly humorous Welsh woman and turn it into an anime film, though. The changes do have their own kind of charm, and I found the visualisations of the kingdom of Ingary really delightful.

My big difficulty, though, was the character of Howl. In the book, he's endearing because, despite being rakishly good-looking and a powerful wizard, he's also very young and uncertain of himself. In fact, he's basically a troubled teenager (although supposed to be in his 20s). He's sulky, self-absorbed, thoughtless, directionless, undisciplined, cowardly, vain and lazy. Yet he's also spontaneously kind and generous and secretly unhappy about his own short-comings. And alongside all that, he's very human and vulnerable: he gets drunk, he has a cold, he argues with his family, he gets frustrated, upset or afraid. And all of this is both why Sophie (and a high proportion of DWJ's female readers) falls in love with him, and, more importantly, why she doesn't realise she has until almost the end of the book

In the film, this complex cocktail doesn't come across at all. Film!Howl just seemed like something out of a slightly unsettling fairy tale, and certainly not human in the least bit. He throws some of the same moods as book!Howl, but they're meaningless - they don't add any extra depths to his character, but are just things he does, which are forgotten the next minute. And Sophie is bowled over by him after their first meeting! She may be slightly scared of him at times in the film, but never annoyed or exasperated with him, and so again it seems vapid and meaningless when they fall in love, rather than the cumulation of a long drawn-out process of development for their two characters.

In the end, the most important thing the film did for me was to make me go home and start reading the book again. I'd always meant to anyway, because I've yet to encounter the DWJ book which didn't reward at least one re-reading. Not perhaps quite what Hayao Miyazaki may have intended. But no complaints here.
strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
Saturday night in Oxford saw a bunch of us heading for Chicks with Decks, a sort of Indie / Punk / 80s night at the Cellar Bar: the same low-ceilinged venue as for Intrusion. [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 and [livejournal.com profile] secutatrix sadly couldn't make it, and were sorely missed, but we did have [livejournal.com profile] edling, Cat, aef, [livejournal.com profile] violetdisregard, Spiky Neil, Jenny and even Hugh and Zara up from London.

Oxford nights )

So, all in all, a decent enough night, but I must say the texts I got from [livejournal.com profile] damien_mocata when I got home, describing the crazy antics of the Belfast crowd, made me rather wish I'd spent the evening there instead...

An easy solution to this problem )

In other news, I'm on a big Tom Lehrer kick at the moment. I've had the whole of 'In Concert' for ages, ripped very kindly from [livejournal.com profile] mr_flay, but decided that a good way to celebrate getting my net connection back would be to download some of his other particular gems which don't happen to be on that album. So I have been, and I leave you now with my current Tom Lehrer top five, as represented by couplets from their lyrics: A few seconds wasted with Tom Lehrer ) It's also worth noting that I found a flash animation of his song, The Elements while checking I had those lyrics right. Anyone who has ever grappled with the Periodic Table should click on it, now! *tootles off to watch it again*

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