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Meeting The Beasts

Tuesday 7th June, a cool and rain-washed morning, me returning to my desk after a long, fun & very refreshing weekend. Finally got the photos I took of Ai Wei Wei's Summer Palace animals processed off my phone onto Picasa. I took these the day I went up to London to do the item on Woman's Hour on "is sf still a male dominated genre?". (I hope the flurry of media interest in that question has passed. Every time I've been asked, I've felt more strongly that this is a UK fandom issue, it isn't for me to address & I really should not be commenting). But anyway, not all bad: I have Woman's Hour to thank for getting me to Somerset House before the 26th June, which was a real favour. Iwish I'd taken at least one of the whole Fountain Court, but I didn't think my camera phone could handle the pitiless, brilliant light of noon that day (which was when I got there), so I only snapped a few of the beasts for form's sake. Unexpectedly successful.

Yet another example of what a false path reverencing the randomness of art is. Art Is Not Random. I did wonder why Brave Ai had decided to make these charming Chinese Zodiac animals (i think I liked the Rat best), but then, duh, made the historical connection. I remember the Looting of the Summer Palace from researching Rainbow Bridge (this is how I learn most of what I've ever learned about my world, so you see, writing sf is good for something); and the bronze animal heads, lost among so much precious national treasure. The Opium Wars are less than a huge deal to me, being spoiled for choice, among so many shameful military operations in my country's past & present...but that incident still means something to China. And here they are, reborn, beautiful and compelling simplicity. Why on earth have the Chinese put this patriot, this great artist, so eloquent for his country, in prison? It's really nuts. Hm, that didn't quite come out right... no more nuts that putting so many others in prison, no more nuts than China's defiant devotion to the death penalty.

Frog culture update: Dre and Lil' Kim have now joined Biggy & Shakira. Dizzee, an exceptionally lively little rascal, will be making his debut in the swamp this evening. & That's all the survivors of the Liszt Concert Six, not a bad rate. What a tiny operation this is, compared to Mother Nature's way, and the way things used to be even in our small garden, but ah well.

Have re-viewed Inception, and now know exactly when I lost interest 1st time, it's that interminable Lara/Bond snow fortress sequence, there comes a point when you think, sorry, but I'm just bored now... But that was a long way in, after all, and the byplay between (fantasy science) exposition and the special effects really fun. Didn't mind the comic book plot either & found most of the ensemble extremely watchable. Still didn't like the Dreamlike Lost Wife And Kids strand (soon to be reprised in Shutter Island). The problem is that "Mal" is never seen in life, only post-mortem as a figment of Cobb's imagination. Making her, by definition, no more interesting than any of the other dream-artefacts that look like people, and all the time spent on her story bit empty.

Strange hauntings of modernity#: Sunday afternoon, the Great Escape panel team had a conversation, sparked off by Andrew Copson, about our late entry/general lack of interest in twitter. This had the weird effect of causing me to twitter in my head all the way home, eg This Great Western sandwich is so vile, I wonder how old it is, and how the bread became so dank and tacky... But there were hundreds. I tweeted one of them, posthumously as it were, just to mark the moment. Probably the last twitter will hear from @annhalam until Avaaz's next poke.