The Hedgehog: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, p. 72

Self began The Golden Compass having already made the acquaintance of Lyra and Lord Asriel in La Belle Sauvage (Volume One of Pullman’s new trilogy, which takes place ten years before the events of The Golden Compass).

In LBS, Lyra’s an infant. When The Golden Compass opens, Lyra’s a feisty little girl whose best friend is a boy named Roger. Together, Lyra and Roger go ranging over the rooftops of Oxford and exploring in crypts. This part of the story is sheer delight.

It’s not until Chapter 4 of The Golden Compass that she meets two other characters from LBS: Dame Hannah Reif (who is described as “an elderly, gray-haired lady” — a far cry from the woman she was in LBS. How could a person have aged so much in just ten years?) and Mrs. Coulter (who doesn’t seem to have aged a day, despite the 10 years etc)

Now, these two women (accompanied by a third, mystery woman) appear for dinner at Jordan Hall, and Lyra learns she is being sent off with Mrs. Coulter, the very next day. It doesn’t take long for self to google “Mrs. Coulter” and discover that Nicole Kidman played her in the movie adaptation, which then causes self to dislike Mrs. Coulter because self never could abide Nicole Kidman in anything, just saying.

There is a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff even at this early stage of The Golden Compass, and self really loves how deftly Pullman navigates between the simple certainties of childhood and the edges of terror. Before Lyra leaves Jordan Hall (forever), the old Master slips her an alethiometer which isn’t actually as fabulous as it sounds because the device reveals who is lying to you, and that information always hurts because it is never who you expect.

Self loves that Lyra’s daemon is called Pantalaimon because it sounds like a cross between Shakespeare and Don Quixote, and also it is such a mouthful compared to other daemons’ names, like Ben or Asta. So the reader will never, ever forget it. And after a while, when you succeed in getting Pantalaimon to roll trippingly off your tongue, you will feel so smart. Like you’ve just aced your finals.

The daemon Pantalaimon has a tendency to shift into the most amusing animals, such as a hedgehog:

“she snapped at him, when he became a hedgehog out of pique.”– p. 72

Has self ever shared with dear blog readers that she has a special fondness for hedgehogs? She even used “hedgehog” as the worst cuss word on the planet, in her story of the far future called “Spores” (published in decomP Magazine)!

An excerpt from self’s story:

“We be needing foxes,” I said once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss said, giving me a good one. My right eye swelled up almost immediately.

Would you believe that at the time self wrote the story, she had never laid eyes on an actual hedgehog? A few years ago she was at the San Francisco Zoo and finally got to see a hedgehog. It was all by itself, huddled in a far corner of a kind of pen, and it looked positively miserable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Currently Reading: LA BELLE SAUVAGE, p. 325

Hugely enjoying Volume One (La Belle Sauvage) of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Love the characters, all of them. Even the villains. Kudos, Mr. Pullman.

Towards the end of the novel, a flood of Biblical proportions overwhelms Oxford, England:

“The creatures in the water . . .  I don’t mean fish neither, nor water voles; I mean the old gods. Old Father Thames. And other beings as well. There was a man with us, he saw a mermaid near Henley. The sea was so full she come right up the river, even that far from the coast, and this chap, he swore to me that if he saw the mermaid again, he’d go off with her. Well, two days later he disappeared, and chances are he did just that. I believe it, anyway.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tweaking the Reading List, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spent the day trying to stay warm and dry. It’s very cold here in Mendocino. A few minutes ago, rain started to come down.

Self tried to get into Empress of the East, had high hopes, but the first chapter, Abduction, isn’t really about how Roxelana, Slave-Girl-Turned-Empress-of-the-Ottoman-Empire, was abducted. Instead, it consists of page after page of speculation about the exact spot from where she was taken. Then, a few pages of how hard it was on captives. DUH. This is dull stuff.

Luckily, self brought the next book on her reading list to Mendocino. It’s The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman. Opening sentence:

Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and two dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called the Trout.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three Days, Three Movies

Self has been so starved for movies.

In a prevous life, she’d be in her local cine-plex every other day.

The past couple of years, though, unless she feels really driven, she’ll go months without seeing a movie.

Here are some of the ways she shows her movie geek street cred:

Oxford, UK: She gave up seeing the Ashmolean in favor of watching Captain America (In all fairness, the movie theatre was so conveniently situated: just across from Gloucester Green)

London: She walked — walked — in full summer heat, from Russell Square to Shaftesbury Avenue, simply to watch X-Men in the Odeon.

Fort Bragg, CA: She went during a lull in a storm. The movie? Kingsmen, with Colin Firth. When she came out of the movie, the wind was blowing flat out. Self thought she was going to be swept into the ocean.

Now, in the past four days, she has seen three movies:

  • Band Aid
  • Beatriz at Dinner
  • Wonder Woman

Sorry to say, she nearly fell asleep during the action sequences at the end of Wonder Woman. But woke right up again when she saw, in the closing credits, the name of her friend’s daughter:

DIRECTED BY PATTY JENKINS

Of the movies she’s seen so far this summer, her favorite would be Beatriz at Dinner. For Connie Britton and John Lithgow’s performances.

Today, she’s going to see The Book of Henry, even though it hasn’t gotten good reviews. She loves Naomi Watts, even though she’s been so under-used by Hollywood lately.

A long time ago, self met a Mills College student at one of her San Francisco readings. Chatting with the young woman after the reading, the student revealed she made money by working part-time as an exotic dancer. And self happened to mention how much she liked Naomi Watts (What’s the connection to exotic dancing? Nothing), and the young woman said even though Watts had turned 40, if the young woman were a man, she’d definitely consider her hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More H2O: From Self and Others

For this week’s challenge, share a photo that features H2O: the element of water.

Lingnum Draco for The Daily Post (7 October 2016)

Below, two WordPress blogs whose shots of H2O were inspiring:

Here are self’s own shots of H2O:

The first two shots are of the Thames near Oxford.

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Spring 2016: the Thames in Oxford

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Riverboat on the Thames: Don’t leave Oxford without going on one of these!

Here’s a view of the Slaney Estuary in County Wexford, Ireland:

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Slaney Estuary, County Wexford, Ireland: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Narrow: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 29 Friday 2016

  • From spaghetti to the quiet alley behind your house, this week show us something narrow.

—  Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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Manhattan, June 2016

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In Manhattan, the Avenues are narrow canyons between buildings: Park Avenue, June 2016

For a change of scene, Oxford, UK had an exhibit on “Shakespeare’s Dead.” Self was there in May 2016. The banner advertising the exhibit is pretty narrow:

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An exhibit at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Details 3: Memories of England, Before Brexit, May/June 2016

For this week’s challenge, try to look past the big picture and take a more intimate approach.

—  Jen H., The Daily Post

Russell Square, London, June 2016

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Dogs Just Seem To Love Fountains! Russell Square: June 2016

The Millenium Pedestrian Bridge (Also known as the Harry Potter Bridge), heading from the Globe, South Bank, towards St. Paul, June 2016 (Self had spent the day at the huge Tate Modern, housed in what used to be the Battersea Power Station)

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The Millenium Bridge, London, June 2016

The Thames, Just Outside Oxford:

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Highly recommend this way of seeing Oxford, or any city, frankly, because rivers are life.

Partners 3: People

“. . .  give us subjects that are in tune with each other.”

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

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San Marco Square, Venice: November 2015

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San Francisco: October 2015

Joan McGavin, Jenny Lewis, and Jenny's Granddaughter Abigail in Oxford, UK: July 2015

Joan McGavin, Jenny Lewis, and Jenny’s Granddaughter Abigail in Oxford, UK: July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Numbers 4: Exhibits, Museum of the History of Science (Oxford) and the British Museum

Self-explanatory!

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Oxford, England: May 2016

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Assyrian Gallery, British Museum, London: May 2016

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Another Caption from the Assyrian Gallery in the British Museum: May 2016

Spare 5: More From London and Oxford

Self is thinking of “spare” as in “simple.” Below, three more examples.

First picture: 6th floor, Tate Modern in Banksea.

The view. It’s all about the view.

The meat pie isn’t bad, either.

DSCN9998

The Tate Modern is housed in what used to be the Battersea Power Station. In keeping with its industrial spirit, everything in the Tate Modern has that utilitarian feel. Even the restaurant, on the 6th floor. It’s called The Kitchen.

2nd: A few days ago, self was in Oxford. Her host, Jenny Lewis, took self (and Abigail, whose 9th birthday is coming up! And Abigail’s dad, Tom) on a boat ride.

Oxford is 120 miles from London. She vaguely remembers the guide saying it took about three days to go by boat from there to Oxford (This was probably in the era of the Tudors)

Here’s the view at the start of the boat trip:

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Boating in Oxford: Sunday, 29 May 2016

Final picture: When self is in London, she stays in a very simple hotel. She loves to walk, and explore bookstores and museums. Though she never ends up straying very far from Great Russell Street.

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Those slash marks in self’s half-broke camera turned out to be a plus! Especially in taking pictures like this, that have a very “still” quality.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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