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Author GillO


Recent entries from Gill's Place - the blog of GillO

NOTE: This blog has been rated FR15 by the author. Blog content is not moderated by TtH

Thanks to Illustrationx_los I've been wandering around the British Library website. They have a wonderful timeline of the development of English language and literature there, full of information and images from their stock. The Library is an amazing place, full of stuff a readaholic like me would kill for, and the timeline gives just a taste - you can click through to find out more about any of their items. Beware, though - there is a lot to distract one!
Posted: 17 Apr 14 08:56 • Comments
I'm very late with my Illustrationmonthlydiaryday post, for which my apologies.

Saturday usually means a slow start, coffee in bed with the papers. These days I also check my gmail, LJ and FB on my Nexus in bed too. So hedonistic.

Eventually up and showered. Daughter #2 was with us, so we chatted about her plans for a while over more coffee. Then we went to Leamington Spa with her, taking her out for a meal at Strada (a chain, but reasonable quality). Then we split up for a short while, in which I managed to buy some clothes in a sale and get a copy of a sewing magazine. Sewing World can be very annoying - the proof-reading is shoddy, to be kind, and some of the makes are ghastly - but I quite enjoy reading it, and it does assume a slightly higher level of competence than most of the UK mags of that sort.

We met outside Waterstones and returned to the car to take Daughter to the station, to return to London. We'll be seeing her next weekend too, though, which will be nice.

We couldn't be faffed to do any more shopping, so returned home. I did a bit of reading about Early Modern witchcraft for an essay due next month, then we settled down to plan our route for our holiday in France at the end of next month. We like to go relatively slowly, with only four or five hours of driving a day, so we booked hotels in Troyes and Vienne on the way to Uzes, and Clermont-Ferrand and Rouen for the return - we quite fancy a different route through the Auvergne, where we haven't been for decades.

Then we watched Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (stupidly long title) recorded from the previous night. I know quite a lot of my flist aren't overly impressed by it, ...
Posted: 15 Apr 14 20:00 • More • Comments
I was working on the Herald and came across a writer, new to me, on AO3. This person linked to a site where the heading was:

DreamSmith is creating
Epic, Novel-length Fanfiction
Stories full of wonder and discovery, violence and passion, love and... hot girls with superpowers. Everything is better if you add hot girls with superpowers.

You are encouraged, nay, begged, to become a "Patron" of this bloke, who is dedicated, he says, to producing only very high quality fic. But:

Basically, and not to put too fine a point on it--I'm poor. Not 'Living on the streets and powering my laptop via teams of captive hamsters on treadmills' poor, but still, pretty darn poor. Enough so that it's hard to justify spending twenty or thirty hours to write and edit a chapter of fanfiction, when I really should be trying to scrape together money to pay the bills. I'm trying to accomplish that via two part-time jobs--one 'real' one, and one where I write stories and post them on Amazon's Kindle store.

So this person is already making some money from writing, albeit not a lot, but wants people to Support and engage with the creators you love by paying upwards of a dollar per chapter.

I'm really not impressed by this. Especially as it is my fandom he's pissing in.


ETA: I left him a comment on AO3:

You write quite well, but I really don't feel you should be asking for money from readers on this site. This fandom has been plagued with rows about making money from fanworks in the past. Have a look at this page, for example, or Google FanLib.

Please, for your own good, rethink this.

This is his reply:

I'm sorry you feel that way, but I am far from the first person to post their Patreon informati...
Posted: 14 Apr 14 15:51 • More • Comments
There is a Wikipedia in Old English. Not on it, written in genuine Anglo-Saxon.
Posted: 5 Apr 14 10:02 • Comments
The vidder calls this "crack". I call it hilarious!

By Afterthebattle
Posted: 2 Apr 14 18:33 • Comments
You may have noticed the date. So, it seems, has much of the media and the internets. The following should thus be taken with a pinch of salt:

You can apply for an exciting opportunity to teach English.

In Antarctica.

To penguins.

An independent Scotland will show it is a true part of Europe.

By switching to driving on the other side of the road. There's a video which explains how it will work.

Apparently they will also have a new head on the pound coin.

VW Commercial Vehicles in the UK have been working on an amazing achievement: Paw-Wheel-Drive: RSPCA Partners with Volkswagen Commercial vehicles to teach dogs to drive

Meanwhile in Norfolk, a familiar Scot appears to be moving to Oulton Broad.

While in Australia there was real fear that competitive sport might be played from now on without prizes.

If none of these amuse you, perhaps you should chill out a little. On a Caribbean island, perhaps.

Oh, and ETA: Netflix is going to relaunch ...
Posted: 1 Apr 14 17:10 • More • Comments
I'm not particularly (or, really, at all) active in the Harry Potter fandom, partly because I find it much harder to read, let alone write, fic in the same medium as the original - HP is a set of novels to me, and thus primarily written stories in JKR's style. I feel the same way about other books; it's much easier to encounter written material in fandoms where the primary source is film or TV.

However, I came across two very interesting articles today, the first about an imagined Hermione Grainger series and the second a response to the reactions to that article.

It points out a lot of areas where I've felt JKR's worldbuilding was problematic, particularly her representation of girls: how hard Hermione works to be a sidekick; how many of the other female characters are paper-thin or simply comic relief. It also suggests that making Harry the Chosen One is authorial laziness. She references BtVS. However, although she doesn't pursue it, there are significant differences.

Harry is Chosen not long after birth, has a gaggle of supportive adults watching out for him, turns out to be preternaturally talented at a game he didn't even know existed before he arrived at the school and wins repeatedly despite not apparently being particularly bright or hard-working. He's a member of the classic trio: two boys and a girl.

In BtVS, on the other hand, we have a girl Chosen against her will, struggling with her destiny yet working hard to develop her skills. The trio of young heroes is two girls and a boy - where else do we see this? Oh, and even minor, walk-on characters develop solid, rounded personalities and backstories.

Both sequences cover seven years, as it happens. Only one, IMO, shows a true progression through adolescence to adulthood.

HP is fun. It ...
Posted: 27 Mar 14 20:38 • More • Comments
Well, a small horde - Dave, F and her boyfriend and I descended on the Museum of London yesterday to celebrate his *ahem*th birthday.

We took a train not long after ten. It should have been the train before that, but I had fixed in my brain 09.49, when it should have been 09.39. Ah well. It gave us time for a coffee at the station.

It was Dave's birthday, though my present is yet to happen - he wants a long weekend in Bruges, but not before the end of the financial year, as he's working on the programming of a big Excel thingy. He said he'd like to go to an exhibition, but tickets for the Vikings at the British Museum were all sold out for this weekend. Second choice was the Cheapside Hoard, and I'm very glad indeed that we went there.

Just over a century ago some workmen were demolishing some seventeenth century buildings in Cheapside, a very old street in the City of London. The very thought of anyone doing that makes me wince more than a little, but in this case it led to the discovery of a huge collection of buried jewellery, probably the stock of a goldsmith's shop, of which there were quite a few in that street. All the original buildings there burned down in 1666, and the replacements appear to have been built right on top of them, sometimes without anyone knowing about the cellars.

At some point between 1640 and 1666 somebody, presumably the jeweller, hid his stock in a cellar and never returned to reclaim it. It was a turbulent time; the Goldsmiths' Company complained in the 1640s that they couldn't find many of their members to collect their dues as so many of the shops were boarded up and...
Posted: 24 Mar 14 19:30 • More • Comments
I've downloaded an app to post from my Nexus, but I'm not convinced it's any better than opening a browser on the tablet and using the normal way. We'll see how this works.


So, farewell, then, Fred Phelps. I hope wherever he is he's getting one heck of a shock to his ideas. I hope he meets more mercy than he ever gave. And I rather hope he is currently listening to Tony Benn, a better man by far. 

In other news, Bluestone 42 is just wonderful. I am thoroughly enjoying comedy on the Beeb right now, and that's even before Rev comes back next week. ETA: Apparently, if I post from my bedroom, at the back of the house, Google Earth thinks I live in the house at the bottom of the garden. Not sure why I'm "null", though. Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.
Posted: 20 Mar 14 21:10 • Comments
David Tennant is the best commentator ever. "Broadcasting is a world lived in real time. And whatever that means, by the end of the day, events have been overtaken by other events."

However, I can't look at Jason Watkins without assuming he is evil. I think this may be correct in this show too.

Hugh Bonneville is thinking Big Thoughts. He is wonderful. He is going to appear on "Women's Hour", so he has to go to Salford.

As Dave said "Entirely loopy and depressingly believable."

Next week there will be Jenni Murray, and a Balding/Vordermann standoff.

Yes, this show ROCKS. If any of the above has meaning for you, then you need to watch this!
Posted: 19 Mar 14 18:32 • Comments
Illustrationkidcyclone posted a link to an interesting statistical analysis of vampire/human interaction, and the implications for population stability of both groups. The maths is way over my head, but I enjoyed the article - it comes originally from The Annals of Improbable Research, which I have on occasion encountered before, always enjoyably.

The authors explore three fundamental models of vampire activity: The Stoker-King model, The Harris-Meyer-Kostova model and The Whedon model. The first implies a catastrophic drop in human numbers, the second a form of dynamic equilibrium and the third makes things look tough for the vampires. It assumes a post-Chosen ubiquity of Slayers, however, which may not actually be the case in view of the proportions of Chosen to Unchosen young women revealed in the "canonical" comics.

There is, however, a further fundamental flaw in the reasoning: many vampires feed without siring their victims in the Whedon model, on occasion in the Harris model and in what we may reasonably call the Modified Stoker Paradigm. (As developed by Hammer films, for example.) Thus the rate of vampire reproduction is significantly slower than suggested in the axioms. Another concern might be the rate of attrition of non-Slayer humans, most of whom seem unable to cope with an unexpected vampire attack.

The issue would then devolve to the question of how much blood a vampire needs per diem to survive, and thus how many humans would be killed per vampire before the inevitable encounter with the sharp end of a stake. Blood is relatively low in calorific value, but it may be presumed that vampires no longer have the...
Posted: 16 Mar 14 20:05 • More • Comments
There's been a big fire in a multi-storey car-park in Derby, one attached to the city's main live venue. Plumes of black smoke, visible flames, the lot.

Derby Council really knows what's most important, though. Owners of cars trapped inside the blazing car-park will be reassured by the announcement:

The fire service has said anyone with a vehicle inside the car park would be reimbursed by the council for any extra charges they would face.

Note that this is only overdue charges. No mention of what happens if, for example, your bloody car blows up!

Mind you, it's not been a good week for Derbyshire Fire Service.

ETA: Update The fire is out, and investigations are proceeding. Apparently car-owners could collect their cars if they went to the Council Offices by 4.00. Glad to know they are working hard for the ratepayers.

Motorists were unable to recover their cars after the fire broke out.

The fire service say people can collect their cars by reporting to the Council House before 16:00 GMT.
Posted: 14 Mar 14 20:57 • Comments
William ShakespeareThus the whirligig of time brings in his GillO.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes: <br>

The original word was "revenges", of course. One of my favourite comedies.
Posted: 14 Mar 14 20:00 • Comments
February is a short month, so there is objective support for my feeling that this has come around again astonishingly quickly. Nothing at all to do with my getting old. Nope.

Normal morning routine; husband brought me coffee just before he left for work and I read some academic stuff on my Nexus as well as my usual web haunts until the end of Women's Hour, mainly because I'm enjoying the serial of Shirley, and if I have to get reading done, why get up when bed is warm and I don't have to put the heating on if I'm there? (Yes, I'm a slob, my ancient student habits have returned.)

Then up, ablutions, breakfast, hunt down the books I needed and off to campus, where, astonishingly, I parked on the lower level of the car park and had time to grab a coffee in the Humanities Café. I always have the same, large mocha, dark chocolate syrup, with an extra shot of espresso. Some of the staff there know me well enough to get it set up as soon as they see me come in.

Upstairs to the top floor, where we had to wait for the seminar room. It's Week 10, so lots of the modules are finishing and tutors seem to be overrunning. Eventually we made it into the room and opened the windows to clear the fug. I showed T-Y my copy of Mrs Beeton, an 80s reprint of the first edition, and she became quite excited. Then we passed it round while T, the tutor, discussed its importance, and we moved on to the Food conference most of us went to on Saturday. One student, the annoying one, who had definitely sloped off well before the conference finished, said she was surprised there had been so much to say about the subject. Ah well.

We then moved on to discussing Freud on Fetishism. H, one of the other students, said, "Basically, Freud is kind of insane...", a sentiment I really can get right behind. We covered some of the feminist theory stuff too, which made rather more sense to me in the context of actual real books, and moved on to the Male G...
Posted: 13 Mar 14 11:38 • More • Comments
On Saturday I attended a one-day conference at Warwick University about food in literature and popular culture from 1800 to 1945.

There was quite an array of academics present, including one from the University of Toronto, and enough papers for much of the day to be double-tracked, which was interesting but also mildly frustrating as, inevitably, there were clashes. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the mix, from an opening keynote on Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and its after-life, through food in Dickens and Thackeray to advertising of "health foods" in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods to the mythical and iconic status of bananas in the Second World War.

I have thus learned of Dr Tibbles Vi-Cocoa

Illustration 51jYTll5JPL

There was a clear determination that the participants of the conference should have no cause to grumble about the food offered for their own devouring. There were pastries and coffee at registration, and punctuating the day, and a "wine reception" at the end, while lunch was worthy of a paper in itself; the food on offer was not merely copious and delicate, but almost entirely high-status ("dead posh", IOW) there was a separate table for vegans and those with food intolerance issues, while the hoi polloi were offered fruit:

Devouring conference048

Notice that virtually none of this is in season, let alone inexpensive.

Salads with seafood, chicken breasts (entire, on a skewer) and various other luxury comestibles - again, an emphasis on "posh nosh".

Posted: 10 Mar 14 12:55 • Comments
Nine men, all dressed as Bananaman, out on a stag do, met Stephen Hawking. As you do.

Posted: 4 Mar 14 21:04 • Comments
We went down to London on Friday. We met F and her boyfriend on the South Bank, where the rain was coming as horizontal stair-rods with hail in them - or felt that way. En route we had stopped in Marylebone High St, where we bought books (Oxfam shop copy of the Folio Society edition of Strachey's Eminent Victorians for three quid, and a hardback of Lady Audley's Secret so I can bookmark it for the seminar of Wednesday.)

We ended up eating pizza in Strada, not quite what we'd originally planned - F booked us a table at a Cuban restaurant, but they phoned her mid-afternoon to tell her their boiler had burst and they were closing. Chiz. Then we went on to the Vaults Festival. To find this you go right across the forecourt of Waterloo Station, take the exit by Lush, trying not to gag too much while doing so, turn right, walk for miles, down some steps to Neverwhere, turn right along a graffittied tunnel, then right again at the bouncers. And then first left down the dark, dank tunnel with the coloured lights and loud music.

This was in order to watch Painted Faces, R's latest enterprise in experimental theatre. It was surreal and deeply confusing, but she was very good. Albeit with white hair and a lacy dress with a plunge neckline, which is apparently what judges wear...

The hair

The dress.

We had to rush away after seeing the show and, very briefly, her, so we could catch the last train home, but we dragged a trophy blonde with us. She came home for the weekend to do some disciplined and rigorous sorting of her bedroom, whic...
Posted: 3 Mar 14 18:45 • More • Comments
Illustrationkortirion, Illustrationningloreth, Illustrationcuriouswombat and Illustrationwellinghall will particularly appreciate this ad on US Amazon. It's a ring for sale - but there's only One of it.
Posted: 16 Feb 14 18:02 • Comments
And it's here again. The speed at which the months pass alarms me.

Wednesdays are generally busy uni days for me this term. I woke late(ish), showered, dressed and spent a couple of hours going over the material for the seminar - "Victorian Materialities" is the class I'm doing for credit this term, so I like to check I've done all the reading.

This week's book was Great Expectations, which I have taught at every level from age 13 upwards, so I didn't actually re-read the whole book this week. I looked through a few chapters, some of which appear to have annotations on them dating back to the 80s, and selected my "object". Each week we are asked to talk about a "thing" from the book and talk about it. I chose the costumes in the performance of "Hamlet" which Pip and Herbert attend, about teh way in which in effect the costumes perform the play rather than the actors and the audience responds to the individual items of clothing as much as to the play, while Mr Wopsle, former Parish Clerk of Pip's village, is playing Hamlet, not at all well. This is metonymy for Pip's own situation - he, too, is in borrowed and unconvincing clothes, masquerading as someone he is not, well above him in rank - he is thus jeering at himself as he jeers at the performance. Clothes are important in the novel in general, too.

I finished reading a chapter of Elaine Freedgood's The Ideas in Things which related to Great Expectations; I didn't find it wholly convincing, I must say. She tried to link Magwitch's tobacco with the destruction of Australian Aborigine society, and the effective genocide of many of them. I see where she's coming from, but I feel her argument here was tenuous - for it to "disrupt" a novel, I feel the majority of the readership ought to have some inkling of what the object is.

The seminar went well, with lots of interesting discussion. The others had chosen things like Magwitch's leg-irons, Miss Havisham's d...
Posted: 13 Feb 14 12:44 • More • Comments
Bagpuss is 40 today!

(Uses only Postgate/Firmin icon...)
Posted: 12 Feb 14 21:09 • Comments
An Italian Spuffy FB page has posted the following. I think we can count partial success at least!

Buffy & Spike: ETERNAL LOVE

Posted: 12 Feb 14 20:16 • Comments
The owners of two FB pages with "borrowed" artwork have been feeling oppressed.

Viz: Spikey William The-Bloody Pratt: Spuffy
People are accusing us of stealing their pics, and we are not...Please leave us alone. I am bipolar and you are messing with my moods. Do you even have a heart. I don't think so...

Spikey William The-Bloody Pratt: Spuffy
18:17 (3 hours ago)
My Fiance and I find all our pics On Google and Bing. So if you have a complaint about us posting pics we find there, talk to them about this...!!!!!!!!!!!

This page has deleted all the comments by Illustrationalwaysjbj and others, including me.

ETA new responses from the page owners. I expect to see implosion soon.

Spikey William The-Bloody Pratt: Spuffy We have done nothing wrong, and you people are doing nothing but cause problems for me and my fiance...You believe what ever you want. But we are not thief's...And you know nothing about Bi polar or any mental illness...You live my life and tell me what a living hell it is...Thanks alot for making me think about deactivating our page...I can't deal with people like you and you bullshit.....

You know nothing about me as well...My entire family is dead and I have several mental illnesses...WE DID NOT STEAL ANY PICS...WE FOUND THEM ON GOOGLE AND BING....I HAVE NO REASON TO APOLOGIZE, I DID NOTHING WRONG....!!!

ETA again And the page has gone from my feed. I've been banned. This is a first. I'm almost proud. Yet I can still see their posts when people comment, because FB is just that inept these days!

Then there's Buffyextreme:

This is a conversation I had, under a very pretty manip of Tara. I didn't recognise the artist:

Posted: 11 Feb 14 17:04 • More • Comments
My Facebook feed is littered with Spuffy and BtVS pages, because I am that sad. One of those I joined most recently has taken to posting a lot of images, banners and manips, some of which are oddly familiar.

The first I spotted was Illustrationslaymesoftly's header. I commented on what it was and pfft! it vanished.

Next was a recent piece of work by Illustrationcomlodge. I commented on that and this time the page owner agreed that her work is excellent - but it's still there.

Just now it was a banner for a story by Illustrationalwaysjbj.

The page is called: Spikey William The-Bloody Pratt: Spuffy. If you make art, you may want to have a look and comment. I don't think it's deliberate theft, just cluelessness about etiquette.
Posted: 10 Feb 14 18:50 • Comments
One of the great things about being in an academic context without the need to focus on grades or building up a portfolio that will enhance a career is that I can attend all sorts of "extras" - like the Charlemagne Day last week in London but also various events at Warwick. This week there were two.

On Monday there was a fascinating discussion on imagination and creativity, "Is Imagination More Important Than Knowledge?", which was filmed, so I may even turn up somewhere on the university website. It was an exploration about what "creativity" actually means across different disciplines, the extent to which the concept has been co-opted into managementspeak, and the way in which it often in practice means "new and original but not too new or alarming, thank you." "Creativity" so often implies a "product", which all too easily becomes a commodity and part of the cash nexus. "Imagination", OTOH, seems to have overtones of freedom, a lack of constraint. And is something considered suspect by people in positions of authority.

It was fascinating and fun, and fuelled by cakes and coffee, and even after we were interrupted by a fire alarm (my third this term, grr) we went back inside to talk more. There were people from English and writing, Maths, Law, Business, Physics, Classics and Chemistry, undergrads, postgrads and staff. For almost the first time I felt the description of the university as an "academic community" wasn't just hype.

Then on Wednesday I had my scheduled session on Victorian fiction - this week on The Moonstone, a huge, blockbuster novel, arguably the first crime/detective novel but full of unsettling overtones of race, class and imperialism. Very enjoyable, however.

After a quick pause for coffee I then went to a lecture by a retired academic, Catherine Alexander, on Shakespeare and War: Aspects of Co-option - about ways in which politicians and writers have attempted to adopt Shakespeare as a member of their ow...
Posted: 6 Feb 14 19:16 • More • Comments
January was the wettest winter month since records began, in the 1750s. Apparently all the snow and ice in North America is meeting warmer air from the south and causing rainstorm after rainstorm.

Locally that has meant fun of a predictable kind. The stream that runs by the Castle - and once formed an enormous mere there - is culverted under a mainish road, but when there is a lot of rain it becomes a ford. And when there's a shitload (technical Met Office terminology) of rain some idiot always assumes the warnings don't apply to them, specially if they are driving some poncey 4x4. (SUV)

It happened again yesterday.

This (rather long) video shows you just what it's been like in recent weeks - it was taken a short while ago.

Yes, folks. If there is a limit to human arrogant stupidity, it has not yet been discovered. Is this a cue for a research paper?
Posted: 3 Feb 14 10:15 • Comments