Ed Harris, Radio Fantasist

Along with other podcasts, I've been a regular listener to the BBC Radio Drama of the Week.  Sometimes these are modern-day slice-of-life stories about ordinary people, and sometimes they illuminate odd little corners of history (usually British history, for some odd reason).  But they also feature content of a science-fictional or fantastic nature on a surprisingly frequent basis.  And I've noticed the name "Ed Harris" listed as the author of a goodly number of those SF/F type radio plays.  So I decided to try and find out a bit more about him.

Here in America, when one hears the name "Ed Harris", one tends to think of this guy:

Ed Harris, actor
Helluva good actor, but not the guy we're looking for.  The "Ed Harris" writing for the BBC (and elsewhere) is this guy:

Ed Harris, playwright
So it turns out he's only been writing (as in, having his work produced) since 2005, the young snot, and has already become pretty notable in the rarified atmosphere of radio drama and stage plays.  (Radio drama is pretty close to extinct in the US, but it's still a viable medium in Great Britain and elsewhere.)  Several of his plays, Mongrel Island and The Cow Play, are available in book form.

Here's an interesting interview with him on medium.com: "Wanting To Write Is A Ridiculous Idea"  I like the "voice" he uses when discussing writing (I'm reminded a bit of Neil Gaiman), and he says some eminently quotable things:
     Inexperienced writers often put their hand to their forehead and exclaim “Oh my god how indulgent am I? – Why should other people be interested in me?”
     And the truth is, other people aren’t.
     They couldn’t give less of a shit about you and your wry observations or pithy philosophical quips. But, if you’re any kind of writer, you are interested in them. And they, if they read, are also interested in them. In each other. 
Here's a link to the BBC Radio Drama page.  And here's one to the Drama of the Week Podcast page, where the weekly offering can be downloaded onto your own player.  (The drawback to the DOW podcasts is that they're only made available for a week, Fridays-Thursdays, although some of them eventually show up available for purchase on iTunes.)  This week's offering is another Ed Harris work, "Pixie Juice", available until March 6th, 2014.


Bastet: 2003-2014

I had our black cat, Bastet, put to sleep a few days ago.  She was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with lymphoma.  This caused fluid to accumulate around her lungs, squeezing and restricting them.  Treatment with diuretics and anti-inflammatories slowed that accumulation, but it was still necessary to take her in every few months and get some of that excess fluid drained from around her lungs.  Prognosis at first diagnosis was that she might live another year to two years.

She'd been showing signs of labored breathing and restricted lung capacity again, so I took her in for another draining last week.  This time, though, she didn't show the signs of improvement as with earlier drainings.  In earlier treatments, once the excess fluid was withdrawn, her lungs were able to stretch back to fairly normal capacity.

That didn't happen this time.  X-rays showed her lungs weren't re-expanding, but staying cramped and restricted.  She'd reached the limits of her ability to recover from the effects of the disease.

It wasn't unexpected, but it was still sad to let her go.  She was a pretty sweet cat.  Never much for laps, but sometimes at night, when Hilde or I were laying on our backs, she'd climb on our chests (usually Hilde's) and nestle there for a while.

Bastet as kitten, 2003

Bastet grown, around 2010

We still have four cats in the household, tho' only Tyr and Sethra are "ours".  (Cassie is Tabbi's cat, while Aliera laid claim to James and Paul after she and Sethra were added to the household following our friend Anne's death in 2009.)  If we end up adopting another cat, it might well be another black cat, just because there's still a stupid stigma about black cats with a lot of people, making it harder to find people willing to adopt them..


Life of Washington

Slightly late, for Presidents Day:

What?  This never happened?  Well, damn it, it should have!

Found at mercyhurstuniverstitylibraries.


Dash It All

Amazon recently offered some of George Orwell's books as Kindle Daily Deals.  The Kindle edition of DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON bears a number of negative reviews, not because of Orwell or what he wrote, but because of excessive typos and because the Kindle edition's text was apparently taken from the old 1972 Harcourt edition, wherein naughty words were dashed out to protect the sensibilities of the fragile public.  Reviewer Brian Scearce provided an excerpt from a chapter dealing with, oh dear, naughty words:

“For example, ——. The Londoners do not now use, or very seldom use, this word in its original meaning; it is on their lips from morning till night, but it is a mere expletive and means nothing. Similarly with ——, which is rapidly losing its original sense. One can think of similar instances in French—for example, ——, which is now a quite meaningless expletive. The word——, also, is still used occasionally in Paris, but the people who use it, or most of them, have no idea of what it once meant.”

One is tempted to exclaim "WTF?"  Or, in Harcourtspeak, "---?"

Arpaio Does It Again

On Saturday, a local training exercise for law enforcement personnel, on how to respond to an active school shooter situation was held at an empty school.  The exercise was put together by our well-known and/or infamous Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arapio, with an assist by  former action movie star Steven Seagal.  Story and video here.

I'm not going to object to LEOs being taught how to respond to this type of situation, or even to the use of washed-up celebrities to get more media coverage.  It's just that, when I saw the video on local news, I couldn't help noticing, well....

Most school shooting situations involve actual students as the shooter.  Most of those student-shooter situations involve only one weapon, usually a handgun.  Heavily-armed shooters  and adult outsiders coming into a school, as in the Newtown shootings, are relatively rare. 

Oh, and one other thing: If you Google an image search for "school shooting mugshots", what you end up with is an overwhelming field of white faces, with only occasional appearances by black, brown, or other ethnicities.

So what type of person gets cast as the shooter in Arpaio's training exercise?  That's right: A Big Black Scary Guy.  Who appeared to be about 30-40.  And who carried multiple weapons and an ammo bag.

Of course that's who Arapio cast.  He just can't help himself.  It's been his pattern for decades.  If there's a chance to make a dogwhistle about black or brown people, he takes it.

And the saddest part?  He keeps getting reelected, and reelected, and reelected.

Doing Better

Saw doctor Wednesday, had a tentative diagnosis of pneumonia, prescribed antibiotics and told to stay off work until Monday.  Recovery in progress.  Still short-winded and rather lacking in endurance, but I can get some light stuff done.  Managed to catch up with laundry yesterday.  Later today (Sunday) I have to get to the grocery store; a trip was already overdue when I got sick a week ago, and we've run out of even more items since then.  The grocery trip should let me know how difficult going back to work will be.  (It's not a strenuous job, it's just pretty continuous.)  Workplace requires FMLA paperwork to authorize a return to work if someone's off more than three days, so I'll probably have to have a follow-up appointment with the doctor.

Everyone else in the house has come down with the crud, too, to greater or lesser extents.  While speculation as to who infected who may be entertaining, I've decided that "I Blame Society" is the best response.

Considering how many people in the household got sick so quickly, I found myself wondering if it wouldn't be suitable to hire someone with a horse and wagon to drive up and down the street outside, shouting "Bring out your dead!  Bring out your dead!"  (I must be getting better; my sense of humor is getting sicker.) (i.e., normal)

Later:  Grocery trip went fine, came home a little tired but not badly.  I should be okay going back to work in the next few days.


Creeping Crud

After a couple of completely miserable days, I've improved to the point of semi-miserable.  I came down with the respiratory crap everyone else has been having lately.  Judging by other  people's experience, I'll continue to have fatigue, headache, congestion and occasional coughing for several weeks before it clears completely, but at least I can do more than lay in bed like I've mostly done since Sunday morning.

Update, Tuesday afternoon: Spoke too soon.  Several hours this morning with the worst chills and shakes I've ever had.  Time to see the doctor.