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w/e 2022-09-25

This week, as well as old radio, I’ve been mostly listening to the new album by The Beths, Expert in a Dying Field. Their previous album never got its hooks into me as much as the one before that, Future Me Hates Me, did but this one’s a good’un. Good, upbeat, catchy, jangly, lovely.

I never told a lie so confidently
But you let me down so gently The concrete barely bent me

§ As previously indicated I’ve switched from using Simplenote to keep notes in, to (the weirdly/pompously named) Obsidian.

I’m not a big note taker. I’ve been using Simplenote for years and years, and similar apps before that, and currently have 205 notes. Most of those could disappear tomorrow and I wouldn’t miss them. As a flavour, here are the five most recent notes I created:

  • Greg (lines for the scene I’m doing in class at the weekend)
  • Eye glasses prescription (a record of my recent eye test, although I’ve also put that in the Apple Health app on my phone, so not sure I need this)
  • MeFi (some notes on who to vote for, or not to vote for, in the recent MetaFilter Steering Committee elections)
  • Mythic Beasts VPS (notes on how I set up a VPS to serve a website)
  • Scything lawn (keeping track of how long I spent doing that)

Simplenote has been fine but I wanted slightly better formatting while editing Markdown notes. For example, code blocks are only displayed in a monospaced font when you preview a note, which I never do.

I’d never heard of Obsidian until Ian mentioned it and it is much more app than I need, so it feels a bit too fussy and complex. But its editing display is much nicer – code blocks can be syntax highlighted, for example. It can be made even more complicated with plug-ins, adding things like a calendar, Kanban board, charting tools, etc. It has fanatical users who are really into PKM, or Personal Knowledge Management, another thing I’d never heard of. That all seems A Bit Much.

I could, of course, use Apple’s Notes apps, but I like having my notes as plain text files, with Markdown formatting.

§ Over the summer the BBC repeated the 1970 drama series The Roads to Freedom, based on Sartre’s trilogy of the same name. I only realised this after it was finished, by which time – of course! – the first episodes had already disappeared from iPlayer. The BBC is very strange.

Thankfully, some kind soul has uploaded all thirteen episodes to YouTube so over the past couple of weeks I’ve watched them all.

I read the first two of the books last year and was a bit bored by them. Whatever existentialist ideas Sartre was using them to convey were lost on me.

But the TV series was more enjoyable and did a better job of getting the ideas across I think. Because the narrative is so condensed, the thoughts the characters have about what it means to be truly free are more prominent. And, yes, their thoughts are prominent – unusually we hear what characters are thinking via voice overs, while the actor stares into space with their “I’m thinking” face on, or while they’re having a conversation with someone, contradicting what we know they’re thinking.

It’s a little clunky, unsurprisingly given its age. All the interior, and some exterior, scenes are obviously filmed on indoor sets with lighting (and shadows) that are very of the time. Some of the acting is a little hammy, some more subtle – Michael Bryant is good in the lead role. Overall it’s a bit “stagey” and slow-paced compared to modern dramas.

But it’s definitely interesting, and it’s stuck with me.

§ I also watched The Souvenir: Part II (2021, Joanna Hogg) and it was… fine? The first one was a bit wearing in its “privileged, dreamy young woman talks about film school” narrative, but was saved by Tom Burke’s interesting, destructive charmer who the young woman falls in love with. But he’s not in this one, so we’re left with “privileged, dreamy young woman goes to film school”. I didn’t really care. I wonder whether it would have been received with such raptures by film critics if the character had been studying something other than film.

§ Having written the above a couple of days ago, it’s now Sunday evening and I’m on the (delayed, of course!) train home from London.

Having hoped to make an acting class coincide with an existing London trip for the past few months, and failed, this month I thought “sod it” and booked a brief trip solely for a one-day class with the Salon. When I think about times I wasn’t sure I could be bothered to book a class, while living up to a 30 minute cycle away, this time it’ll take me over four hours to get home from one.

It’s been a great little trip though. I got to hang out with two good friends, and then had my first acting class in nearly three years.

It was so good to be back sharing a day with people struggling through similar and different problems with making scenes work. I was doing a duologue from Succession, between Tom and me, a rather old Greg. I’d anticipated struggling to forget the excellent performances in the original, but in the event, once I’d loaded my head with various situations, wants and relationships personal to me, the show itself faded away. There were even a few times I delivered lines it felt like I wasn’t acting, which always feels like an achievement. Of course, I then think, “ooh, that was good!” and I get distracted and it all falls apart.

Have a good week. I hope you get to hang out with friends and do something interesting.

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