Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: Aug 2015

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a masterpiece from start to end. Everything about this book worked – the pacing, the scenes, the characters, the dialogue, the whole lot. The suspense, the atmosphere, it all came together wonderfully. Not hard to see why this work is regarded as a classic in the English canon.

Minor quibbles – there’s a lot of repeated phrasing (mullioned windows, pits of my stomach) and the author starts far too many sentences with “I” or “She” but really, who cares? The power of this book overwhelms such pedantic nonsense. I love it – I haven’t read such a cracking book in ages.

View all my reviews

Last.fm or completelylostit.fm?

I’m a fairly short term user of last.fm and in that time I’ve gathered seventeen “friends”, including my oldest daughter, most of us whom share similar esoteric music tastes, courtesy of an innate feature last.fm called the taste-o-meter.

One of the superb features of this website was you could see what your friends were listening to when you logged on to the site. I’ve discovered a bunch of new and intriguing music this way. Not only that, the website had a lively and vibrant group/forum scene where you could meet new people and their music.

In other words, it was a community. People coming together, if only virtually.

Not any more.

It’s gone all “Web 3.0” or whatever this kind of design is called, which is all the rage out there right now. Even the theme I’m using here has this kind of full-screeny black/glossy domination. Further, the community nature of the website has been minimised to near non-existence. Friends have been renamed followers, a term which some people may well have negative relations with. The interaction with fellow humans on last.fm is, in all practical senses, gone. I have no clear indication of what they’re doing unless I click on the followers link. Yeah sure, it’s one extra step, but it’s one extra step away from interaction and community-building. Your “About Me” profile is limited to 200 characters, meaning no true personalisation or design.

No album art in the song lists…for reasons I can only ascribe to “just-because-ism”, they now list your music in song/artist format, where the obverse is the normal and more logical way.

Gee, I don’t know. Getting the community feel of last.fm back seems to be last on the list of things to do for the owners and developers. They’ve got the pretty design down pat, the big glaring pictures of your favourite artists all there, lots of javascript and Web 3.0 glossy black and dark-toned sexiness…but minimal community.

In practical terms, it’s now a single user site that you log into.

And of the subject of community, if you want to communicate with last.fm and its myriad of now-aggrieved users, they’ve outsourced the forums to a place called getsatisfaction.com, and the irony of that domain name is not lost on me.

I mean…really? If you’re going to jazz up your website to the latest fad design going around, wouldn’t you do so with your community functionality intact? Wouldn’t you endeavour to minimise alienation and potential subscription loss by not destroying (or putting on the to do list) the very thing that made your site big to begin with? The community?

Time for the Jackie Chan meme as the last.fm redesign simply makes no sense from a community point of view. It’s annihilated the community.

Jackie Chan

In the Pyramid of Khafre (prose)

In the Pyramid of Khafre

I’m descending as fast as I can, while forty centuries look down upon me. This relentless stone claustrophobia drills inwards, oppressive and cold. There’s no heat in here and I can feel Khafre’s feet on the sandy floor as he comes for me.

Me. It’s about me. Ever since you abandoned me in this monument of the ancients, with its single interior chamber, two passageways and one sideways niche. There’s no you any more. Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure, mighty men of old, more mighty than the Nephilim, spinning about their heliocentric worlds of Ra.

So mote it be, as the skyclad wonders say. There’s nothing skyclad in here but arthropods and other non-vertebrate life. I’m dressed; I have to be. It’s cold here in Khafre’s monument to eternity, though the Black Land beyond rages with heat.

I’ve reached the innermost sanctum of Khafre’s mysterious structure, a gabled rooved space hewn from the obdurate bedrock and here too I must be obdurate. Khafre is behind me; a nebulous fetch out of megalithic history, false beard and uraeus a-flying.

I am a swine that’s been cast before diamonds, an abandoned entity in an abandonium and you are elsewhere, some place without a postcode, belirting me with your belirtings. Nothing can save me from the stout, vengeful pharaonic that slides through the gap in the old passage.

It’s a pleasant moment.

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Dry spell

Lots of things happening but nothing solid to put down here just yet, so…

keep calm

…and I’ll try to add to mine.