September 23, 2009


Look at these happy, smiling faces:

Ben, Alastair and Mohsin

You might be familiar with some of them and not even know it. Oh, the perils of blogonymity. But at least we can call them by their real names, which are (L-R) Ben, Alastair and Mohsin. To most intents and purposes they may well be ex-bloggers, anyway. As indeed may I. But lunch was very nice regardless.

This new style is an @font-face experiment. It has not been widely tested, except now, by you. If it looks awry, you may need to update your browser. But then again, perhaps it just looks awry. Let me know, anyway.

Posted by matt at 11:36 PM | Comments (2)

September 17, 2009

Snorkel Parka

This is not an isolated incident, right? No, it happens over and over and over.

Posted by matt at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2009

Rosas Daily News

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's Rosas have featured on these pages quite a few times, and they were in town again this week with two shows at Sadler's Wells. This was a delight for me, though not all my companions were so keen.

Rosas Danst Rosas dates back more than a quarter century to the beginnings of the company, and stands as something like a choreographic manifesto, laying down many of ATK's signature movements and preoccupations. I first saw it in about 1992, in the more intimate confines of The Place. It was the first Rosas piece I'd seen and I became an immediate convert; since then I've gone to pretty much everything they've brought to town, no questions asked. Seeing it again, I was struck by how much I remembered, how clearly, although there was also plenty I'd forgotten -- including, perhaps, just how fearsomely difficult it is, for the four dancers (including Anne Teresa herself, still fierce and precise after all these years) and also, in a very different way, for the viewer.

The first of the four main sections, 25 minutes of small movements danced mostly lying down and in silence, is particularly unforgiving. Especially in this big theatre, where some of the detail is inevitably lost, it can come across as drab and self-indulgent, while the lack of soundtrack makes one all too aware of the restiveness of other audience members. There were walkouts -- and they echoed unmissably in the oppressive silence. Subsequent sections add music of increasing richness, and much bigger, livelier movement, though always adhering to a profound and rigorous minimalism, driven by intricately-layered repetition. This is dance as serious, perhaps slightly po-faced, capital-A Art, with no quarter asked or given. In that, perhaps, it may be a little bit dated; artists are not supposed to take themselves that seriously in these post-ironic times. But in all other respects it still looks to me to be right at the cutting edge.

Among my companions for RDR were Ros and Larry, who actually took me to the 1992 perf and are therefore responsible for my Rosas fandom. Like me, they were unfazed by the first section, having been through it all before. Antonio and Ian both hated that, and were somewhat soured on the remainder as a result, although at least partially won over as things progressed. (Before the show I told them it would be austere; afterward, Antonio said this was a bit like saying the Sahara is dry...)

In some, very minor, ways, the new piece Zeitung is also a little taxing, and indeed one or two people walked out of that too. It's even longer (two hours with, of course, no interval) and drags in places. But it has none of RDR's harshness or challenge, nor its coherence. It's only vaguely a piece at all, more of a revue, a patchwork of little dances to music by Bach, Webern and Schönberg, mostly for the piano, mostly played live. Now I could have done without most of the Webern and Schönberg, but the Bach was lovely and much of the dancing was very beautiful indeed. In a company of very fine dancers, ex-Featherstonehaugh Mark Lorimer was once again a standout, confident and mature and wonderfully fluent. I enjoyed the whole thing quite a lot; by Rosas standards it was a lighthearted bit of fun. But it didn't add up to much more than idle prettiness.

Posted by matt at 7:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 6, 2009

Snow Pollen

Rather quicker on the uptake this time than last, I installed Snow Leopard on Thursday. It seems fine, on the whole, most of the changes barely nudging the threshold of perception. But, as Google will quickly confirm, it breaks third-party screensavers wholesale, and Pollen was no exception.

Since I had to go back and rebuild it anyway, I took the opportunity to add the colour scheme feature I've been meaning to for years and generally tidy up some rough edges. And I think it's finally time to call the result version 1.0. It's only taken 8 years.

I don't, alas, have ready access to any other machines to test on, so if any of you do -- Leopard or Tiger, Intel or PPC -- could you install this new version and let me know whether it runs?


Update: flerdle pointed out that it can all be a bit frenetic at the new framerate, so I've added a speed control: version 1.0.1 is now posted. And it looks like it works on Tiger machines. Anyone want to try Leopard? (I can do this myself tomorrow, but feel free to beat me to it!)

Posted by matt at 10:07 PM | Comments (2)

September 2, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

lounging by the pool

The Tuscan holiday was very pleasant, hot, sunny and restful. Sightseeing was kept to a minimum, with priority given instead to eating, drinking, lounging and reading. The neighbourhood was lush and scenic, with plenty of fauna, mostly arthropods. It was the sort of place where you shake out your boots in the morning to evict scorpions -- or would if you were silly enough to wear boots.

On the train back to Rome a young girl popped her hand around the compartment door to drop this poignant note into Ian's lap:

-- then vanished without trace. A particularly low-key, if probably not very profitable, form of begging. As has been variously documented here over the years, I'm a sucker for a sob story, and might have been tempted to give her something had she returned, though I'm sure my companions wouldn't have approved. But I wasn't sorry not to get the opportunity.

Ian had never before been to Rome, so we rounded off the trip with a few hours trekking around; I was gratified to find that I can still find my way about and have no trouble locating such important landmarks as the Giolitti.

I returned just in time to wave off my labmate and personal postdoc Simon, departing for pastures Cantabrigian, and officemate Daniella, off to Tel Aviv. A fine evening of cocktails and Mexican food ensued, which was all good fun but also a little sad. Things will be a lot quieter without them. And my own workload is starting to look a bit heavier...

Saturday brought reasonable weather and my first skate outing since my bruising in the Stroll -- much faded, though there's still some puffiness and swelling even now -- which was fun even if Serpentine Road was all truncated by some random offshoot of the Notting Hill Carnival. And wandering into a random mobile phone shop serendipitously reunited me with Allie and Davide, which was lovely.

On Sunday Ian and I took in Inglourious Basterds, and what a fucking awful piece of crap that turned out to be, boring, shoddy and tasteless. I said wrt Grindhouse that QT probably couldn't make a really bad film if he tried; boy was I wrong.

And now it's back to the grindstone. At least the cells I cultured before going away are looking pretty good. But I've been working on the 'B' rig the last couple of days, which is annoying in all sorts of ways I can't be bothered to describe. Fortunately the newly-adapted stage for the 'A' rig is now back, so tomorrow it'll be time to start getting results! Um...

Posted by matt at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)