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Messages - HtoHe

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News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: September 15, 2014, 11:06:37 am »
Oddest thing about the story for me:

...About $380 a month is garnished from his wages for child support...

I suppose they meant garnered.

Perhaps a bit of a fine distinction, jean.  I think garnishment is the means by which the money is garnered.  I've usually seen the process (by which A, who is owed by B, can intercept goods or funds due from C to B) described as a 'garnishee' order but the OED lists a legal use of the verb 'garnish' with the following definition;

Law. To warn. (Cf. Sc. warnis = warn.)
 9. trans.

 a. To serve notice on (a person), for the purpose of attaching money belonging to a debtor.

1589   Sir T. Smith's Common-welth (rev. ed.) ii. xiv. 76   The sherifes order in seruing this writte, is to the land, and there to garnish the partie by sticking vp a sticke on his land.

1886   Pall Mall Gaz. 13 Nov. 5   It will be a miracle if no one finds out who the trustee is; and as soon as his name is known he will be garnished to a certainty.

So strictly speaking I suppose it is the employer who is garnished as opposed to the money being garnished from wages; but the distinction is a fine one.

News and Current Affairs / Will Scots vote to leave the UK?
« on: September 12, 2014, 05:04:38 pm »
To judge by the news stories you'd think it was too close to call, or even heading towards a 'yes' result, wouldn't you?  But an item on R4's More or Less that essentially said the opinion polls were next-to-useless had me navigating to those models of calculating unsentimentality, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.  In bookie land it's by no means neck and neck.  Scotland to vote NO to independence is 2/9.  Scotland to vote YES to independence is 10/3

This, of course, means that anyone who truly believes Scotland will be leaving the union might be well-rewarded for putting their money where their mouth is: and anyone who fears the consequences of a divorce can hedge against it. 

Theatre / Re: Sir Donald Sinden; 1924-2014
« on: September 12, 2014, 04:36:38 pm »
Donald Sinden was another who, like Lauren Bacall, had already been around for ages before I was aware of anything.  Indeed, one of the stories about him – that he was one of only two people at Lord Alfred Douglas’s funeral – makes him a link to the deep and distant theatrical past.  I’m pretty sure I never saw him on stage but, like most people in this country, I remember him as a screen presence throughout my life.  R4’s Last Word (repeated Sunday 2000) has tributes from, among others, Dame Judi Dench: and there are several clips of the man himself – including one where, to my great gratification, he refers to Ralph Richardson.  Actually it sounded more like Rolf but it’s good to hear a fruity voice like his that doesn’t pronounce it Rafe!

Thanks as always, Stanley, for the unique personal perspective on a theatrical great.


Another more balanced view, this time from the Radio 4’s Inside Science

with Louhelainen clearly distancing himself from Edwards’s rasher claims (he even uses words like ‘circumstantial’ and flatly concedes that his evidence wouldn’t stand up in a criminal court) while insisting that the findings are still remarkable; and a handy overview of testing procedures from a scientist with, I presume, no axe to grind.  The item concludes ‘we look forward to seeing his data in a scientific journal’.  That would indeed be very interesting.

Theatre / Re: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
« on: September 11, 2014, 09:09:45 am »
... and Man and Superman with Ralph Fiennes, directed by Simon Godwin, coming up at the same address in February.

I spotted this a while back and it’s certainly on my ‘must see’ list but details are still in short supply - I haven't seen mention of any cast members apart from Fiennes.  It’s not on the NT’s calendar yet but the good news is that it’s in the Lyttelton so early risers like me should be able to secure front row day seats (as opposed to the rather distant back row upstairs at the Olivier).  I’ve also seen no mention of which version is being done though the signs are good that the ‘Don Juan in Hell’ scene will be included: Fiennes did a Radio 3 production with the scene left in about 20 years ago; and if anyone has the resources to put on a 4 hours+ production it’s the NT.  I’ve never seen an uncut production of the play so I’m hoping the scene is included.

Theatre / Re: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
« on: September 09, 2014, 09:11:10 pm »
Thanks for this note, Stanley.  RADA can be quite frustrating in that they often seem to run three productions at the same time for a short run (10 days or so) meaning that if I don't happen to be in town at exactly the right time I have no chance of seeing any of them.  I'd love to see Mrs Warren's Profession (Shaw is not in vogue these days, is he, though the NT's recent The Doctor's Dilemma was well received) but I'm out of the country for most of the time it's on.  The impressive students of MMU, by contrast, tend to have much longer seasons (a couple of months) with the productions  better spaced even if there are fewer actual performances of each piece:

Indeed, Selva.  Ian Steadman makes, inter alia, exactly the same point I made earlier ‘even if the DNA matches are correct, the very best this proves is that at some point Kosminski and Eddowes were in the presence of the same piece of fabric’ How unlike the Daily Wail to publish a story and claim a significance for it that goes way beyond the actual facts! It still seems to me that if Louhelainen could be persuaded to publish his work and appropriate people could be bothered to review it and they confirmed that dna compatible with Eddowes and Kosminski was present it would be quite remarkable.  It wouldn’t prove anyone’s guilt ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ but it would be qualitatively superior to any evidence I can remember reading in books advancing other theories.  The very least we could say is that it would be an extraordinary coincidence for traces of a known victim and a possible suspect* to turn up on the same piece of fabric.  It sure as hell beats analysing the handwriting on hoax letters, finding hidden meanings in paintings or interpreting enigmatic comments into a cocked hat!

*I say possible suspect because it’s by no means certain that the Kosminski mentioned in various police notes and the one who died in Leavesden were the same person.

I have to say that the journalese of the Mail makes its account hard to swallow

I wasn't going to mention it but, since you have done so, I have to agree that the writing style is painfully bad.

but DNA is DNA

Is it?  It seems there are several different kinds of dna for a start; and determining the relative merits of each is a task more suited to the skills of Dr Schön Oscura than me.  Even if we knew beyond reasonable doubt that the blood on the shawl was from Eddowes and the, ahem, other stuff was from Kosminsky that’s still very circumstantial.  All it tells us for certain is that a piece of cloth that had once been in contact with him was present when she was killed; and there could be any number of innocent explanations for that.  He could, for example, have given it to her as part of their transaction and she taken it away and been killed by someone else.  I wonder if there’s a bit of Liz Stride’s dna on the shawl, too.  That would be a distinct possibility since the maniac is almost universally supposed to have killed both women on the same night.  Still, for all that the evidence of the shawl is inconclusive, the test is, if accurate, an amazing piece of work.  The thing that worries me now is that Dan Brown might start tracing descendants of Mary Magdalen and demand that tests be run on the Turin shroud.

There was an author called Stephen Knight iirc who claimed to have unmasked the truth in the 70s  and was found dramatically dead a few days later.

Not strictly true, marbs.  Knight's book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution was, as you say,  published in the 1970s.  Despite its almost unforgivably awful title it was a rollicking good read but hardly convincing in any objective way. His idea was that Gull, Sickert and a coach driver called Netley, all Freemasons, did the murders to cover up indiscretions, including a secret marriage to a Roman Catholic commoner, by Prince Eddy.  IIrc the sheer preposterousness of the theory was explained away by the idea that the conspirators were being deliberately outrageous to send a message to anyone who considered crossing them.  As I said, a rollicking good read; but regarded as pure hokum for some time since.  Knight's death came a decade or so later just after the publication of his more direct attack on the Freemasons, The Brotherhood.  You can read into that whatever you like!

...W Sickert, the Freemasons etc, etc….

It looks like Jack the Ripper might finally have been identified.

I presume this ‘evidence’ hasn’t been peer-reviewed or even properly questioned yet; but it shows all the boring signs of being reliable.  The culprit, as some of the more level-headed Ripperologists always expected, turns out to be about as unromantic and non-conspiratorial as they come.  He was also named on Melville MacNaghten’s shortlist of three as early as 1894 – though MacNaghten ostensibly favoured Druitt.  Of course, even if this is accepted as the long-sought answer, the Ripper industry is too lucrative to close down just yet.  Expect lots of stuff on ‘did Kosminsky operate alone’; ‘was he a tool of the Establishment’ etc

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: September 06, 2014, 07:23:59 pm »
I haven’t seen a more barking story than this one for a while.

Simple arithmetic seems to tell us that at the time this child was conceived the father was too young to consent to sex.  Yet, if I understood the story properly, the boy should have known that he needed to file a statutory rape complaint if he wanted to avoid being held responsible, years later, for the maintenance of a child whose existence was unknown to him.   This kind of thing is, apparently, rare but the Arizona case is not the only one.  Perhaps the most barking aspect of the whole thing is that the pursuit of statutory rape victims for maintenance is justified on the grounds that ‘assuring support for the child is the main priority’ – but obviously not a high enough priority for the state to bear the cost.

Theatre / Medea - Olivier Theatre
« on: September 02, 2014, 04:56:28 pm »
I’m afraid I can’t rave about this Medea the way most people have.  I’m not that well up on Classical theatre but I’ve noticed that I tend to prefer minimalist, timeless productions on a bare stage with bed sheets for costumes.  I find, paradoxically perhaps, that such a treatment really brings out the relevance of the themes for our – and any – times; whereas setting it in modern times/dress often makes a timeless drama almost indistinguishable from a sordid news story or melodrama (Medea – When Cooking the Pet Rabbit just isn’t Enough!).  It also makes suspension of disbelief rather more difficult: for example, I found the idea that Kreusa would have accepted the gift of a smart frock from her deadliest enemy without caution quite preposterous (as Medea issued instructions for delivery I found myself thinking ‘and perhaps you could drop this wooden horse off at Troy on the way’).  Somehow such anomalies are not so glaring when the telling of the story is stripped down to the bare myth. 

The performances were mostly decent enough.  Helen McCrory was suitably intense in the title role.  Dressed in t-shirt and combat trousers or a bright white dress she conveys the bubbling resentment and overpowering fury of the character very well.  Less clearly depicted is the outrageous self-centredness of the character.  The text tells us that Medea has betrayed and destroyed people close to her for the sake of Jason but the production doesn’t seem to invite us to consider the irony of her feeling hard done by when she herself is betrayed.  Danny Sapani’s heartless Jason, by contrast, does seem to draw attention to his outrageous expectation that his wronged lover should have been grateful for being let down lightly when he betrayed her.  I suppose it’s unsurprising, given my preferences, that I found the declamatory narration and commentary from the chorus members the most impressive ‘performance’ on offer.  On the negative side I found Michaela Coel’s Nurse faltering and unconvincing and the stylised dance moves (mainly shivering and hip thrusting) that punctuated the action quite ridiculous.  The set is not that wonderful, either.  It’s a split-level effort with Medea’s abode on the apron backed by a sort of wilderness and Kreon’s palace (I presume that’s what it is, given that it’s the location of Jason and Kreusa’s wedding) upstairs on a balcony with much of the action there, including Kreusa’s donning of the fatal frock, hidden behind a barely translucent glass wall.

I don’t want to be too negative about this production – and a quick look at the press tells me I’m in a minority – but I had expected this to be the theatrical highlight of my latest trip yet, in the end, found a fringe production of an early Richard Bean play much more satisfying.

Only three more performances. All are sold out but the day seat scheme still applies – and my nephew picked up a standing ticket for Friday night’s performance with ease.

Proms / Prom 59: Elektra – Goerke, BBCSO, BBC Singers, Bychkov
« on: September 01, 2014, 11:17:35 pm »
It’s no insult to Semyon Bychkov, the BBC SO and the BBC Singers to report that Sunday’s Elektra didn’t quite reach the heights of Saturday’s almost perfect Salome.  Christine Goerke was tremendous – and tremendously powerful – in the title role and Felicity Palmer’s Clytemnestra was almost the equal of Doris Soffel’s Herodias (and, similarly, displayed almost as much acting skill as singing ability).  The orchestral performance was fine but I found the balance between the instrumental volume and that of some of the singers rather problematic.  My companion thought it was because several of the minor roles were sung by underpowered singers but I couldn’t help harking back to Bychkov’s Tristan last year where I found the balance quite jarring, especially by comparison with Barenboim’s Ring.  Still, Elektra was, overall, another wonderful performance to send me home happy this morning.

Proms / Prom 58: Salome – Stemme, Deutsche Oper Orchestra, Runnicles
« on: September 01, 2014, 11:15:26 pm »
If I feared the previous night’s Resurrection might eclipse my two remaining Proms, Runnicles’s Salome soon dispelled such concerns.   I expected this piece to be the highlight of the season for me; and so it proved.  Nina Stemme was truly superb in the title role and Doris Soffel’s acting as Herodias was almost as impressive as her singing.  I felt sorry for Samuel Youn who was tremendous as Jokanaan both before and after the awful vocal collapse that will, inevitably, be remembered; but I suspect he knows nobody in the audience will mark him down for that.  I, for one, thought his immediate recovery was as brilliant as his lapse was glaring.  I honestly can’t remember hearing a Salome that enthralled like this one.  There was a young man in front of me who had obviously bought a weekend pass without knowing what was on and had never heard of Salome or Richard Strauss.  I was genuinely worried that he’d find it all too much but at the end he said “I don’t suppose they’ll have another opera tomorrow, will they?”  “as it happens…” I replied; and, sure enough, there he was very close to the front of the Arena queue for Sunday’s Elektra.


There was no applause between movements, despite a very lengthy pause between first and second, in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.  I’m no connoisseur of Mahler but my companion at this Prom is (he’s from Amsterdam where, I’m told, it’s compulsory); I thoroughly enjoyed the reading by Daniel Harding, The Swedish Radio SO, the SR Choir and the Philharmonia Chorus; and my Dutch friend confirmed that this was a very good performance – indeed he seriously wants Harding to replace Jansons at the Concertgebouw.  I didn’t spot any weaknesses in the orchestral playing, the choruses or the soloists (Kate Royal and Christianne Stotijn).  The rest of the audience seemed to agree, though we could have done without the arena’s Mr Bravo piping up while the last notes were still fading away.

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