Jewellery Post: Iridescent Pearl necklace and Gothic centrepiece necklace

Both necklaces are listed on Etsy.

Gothic hematite and cross necklace with vintage centrepiece

Gothic Cross

19 inch / 48 centimetre gunmetal chain, vintage metal angel centrepiece (from Spitalfields antiques market), hematite and glass beads, and hematite drops.

Gothic Cross

A fantastic gothic piece perfect for costume use or just dazzling your friends with your heavyweight spooky credentials, this features a vintage centrepiece with a charming cherub in it, and some shiny swinging hematite drops. Modelled on Victorian and Tudor jewellery for a combination of the mourning aesthetic of the Victorians and the broad drape of older jewellery.

This costs £14.99.

black pearl necklace

32 inch / 81.5 centimetre iridescent black rondelle and iridescent black freshwater pearl single-strand necklace with gunmetal and gold plate findings.

black pearl necklace

This delicate, dashing, and subtly shining necklace is perfect for adding a gentle hint of colour to an all-black ensemble or for giving darkness to something lighter! Wear alone, or with other beaded necklaces for a jazzier look. You can even wrap it around your wrist for a layered bracelet

It is £5.99

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Big Fish, Little Fish, Whatthefuckisthat–?

My best friend, whom I have known since … well, for almost exactly ten years now … is a very, very intelligent woman. Intimidatingly intelligent to some, which always amuses because she is also a ridiculous nerd and about the same size as Ellen Page, and one day I am just going to keep her as my supersmart handbag dog and she won’t even be able to reach my face to slap me for it.

She is so abhorrently intelligent, in fact, that aside from making fun of her for doing the devil’s own work working in pharmaceutical PR, the only thing I can hold over her is occasional instances where I’m even more of a terrible nerd than she is, and one of those arenas of superiority is deep sea fish.

Having been more or less raised by Gerald Durrell, Willard Price, and Sir David Attenborough, I am something of an unrepentant wildlife trivia bore, and I love deep sea weirdfish especially. This is not the entire reason I slept with that marine biologist but it may have been a contributing factor.

And my dear best friend continually mixes up the names of the Hatchet Fish and the Angler Fish, which any similarly dull fish nerd will tell you is pretty impressive when you consider that the Hatchet Fish (the deepwater, not the freshwater) looks like the drowned soul of a lost mariner transposed onto an axe head:

Argyropelecus aculeatus
Argyropelecus aculeatus or the "Lovely Hatchetfish".

Whereas the group of fishes clumped ungainly together under the title “Angler Fishes” look an awful lot like the kind of horrors my subconscious will come up with if left alone with a litre of Benedictine and some H R Giger paintings:

Angler Fish
Proof God does not exist

While I was explaining the difference between “hideous ghost monster fish” and “terrifying mouthful of teeth with some useless males attached” to my dear best friend, I mentioned Viper Fish and the Fangtooth, which she also proceeded to mix up with each other.

In the hopes of sorting out this grievous fish-based error for my dearly-beloved best friend and also because I had a lot of novel-based work I wanted to avoid, I decided to rename the deep sea fishes to make them a little easier to identify for the fish-tarded of the internet:

Cryptopsaras
The artist formerly known as the Angler Fish

Angler Fish to be renamed “OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT“, which is a handy mnemonic as I suspect it’s precisely how you’d react to having one shoved in your face.

Chauliodus danae
Previously the Viperfish

The Viperfish, a deep sea fish with light-emitting photophores, teeth too big for its head, and a spine designed to cushion it from the impact of its attacks, will now be known as “ARGH FUCK OFF NO” for similar reasons.

Anoplogaster
Fangtooth was an accurate name

Despite the accuracy of “Fangtooth” as a description (I mean, that’s pretty much the first thing you notice about them), after seeing a preserved one at the Natural History Museum‘s exhibition on the deep sea and being duly haunted by it for the next few days, I think this spike-mouthed monstrosity would be more memorable as merely the “NO“.

After all this excitement, the humble deep sea Hatchet-fishes must content themselves with an “AH, THAT’S BETTER“; one day I will get around to naming the other frankly traumatising denizens of the deep sea with more accurate names but until then Goblin sharks, the Vampire squid, the unearthly-looking Rat-tails, and all manner of bizarre shapes will have to carry on hanging like nightmares in the freezing water where I don’t have to look at them.

Jewellery Post: Dia de los Muertos set

Listed on Etsy.

This is a 16 and a half to 18 and a half inch / 42 centimetre to 47 centimetre thick vintage metal chain necklace with silver tone charms and black glass beads and extension chain; comes with complementing earrings.

Necklace photo
The necklace

This gothic treat is perfect for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, or everyday spookiness. The short chain ensures that your necklace will show even over a t-shirt and it can be worn with lots of other necklaces (check out the rest of the store for a variety of rosaries) for a cool layered look.

Earrings photo
The earrings

This was also sort of made for/about/relating to my best friend, who is from Juarez and has been making a little headway in teaching me Spanish (which means she’s been teaching me horrific swearwords and random bits of poetry, mostly).

It costs £14.99.

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows

Aside from a persistent temptation to refer to this as “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Thrones“, which rolls off the tongue for a combination of reasons involving HBO and rhyme, this is an untidy but entertaining calvacade of nonsense continuing Guy Ritchie’s determination to change Sherlock Holmes from the stentorian deerstalker-sporting droll and heavy-lidded clue-fondler of vague popular consciousness into Steampunk Action Hero. Being as I am a fan of the very solid, unshowy Granada-produced Sherlock Holmes adaptations (or some of them, as The Three Garridebs is just bloody weird) and a firm holder of the belief that Jeremy Brett was the One True Holmes, I ought to be strongly against Ritchie’s meddling. However, as a fan of Guy Ritchie’s noisy, adolescent flailing films and apparently endless barrage of homoerotic subtext (which frequently breaks free of the bounds of “sub” to become merely loud, gun-wielding text), I have an iron in the fire.

Watson in a Game of Shadows
Manly, gun-shooting heterosexuality

Game of Shadows has not hit the same chord of novel delight in me that its predecessor did, but I am pleased to say that it did not disappoint, either – and I went in expecting to be disappointed.

In fact, I went in convinced that it was going to be irritating bilge, and largely in a foul mood, and came out much cheered and gigglingly praising Ritchie to the cloud-strewn skies, so I would say it went rather well.

Although the film begins with an action sequence it, for me, took a while to take off. I found myself bored with Irene Adler by the end of the previous film, and uninterested in her supposed role as the Holmesian love interest (lest we forget, in the Granada adaptation she was not his femme fatale but instead merely a woman of a jaded past who was as smart as he was, which has in more recent adaptation become some sort of infuriating mash-up of Mata Hari and Lara Croft); happily Guy Ritchie took care of that, and in doing so raised the stakes.

I find Guy Ritchie’s Moriarty a lot less annoying than Gatiss/Moffat’s changeable manic pixie lunatic, and his demonstration of his mastery over Holmes is – despite involving an explosion and an assassination and an honest-to-God opera (Game of Shadows is if nothing else a lavish affair) – more subtle.

Before I raise a few matters about new cast members I should point out that this is a very action-heavy film. There is almost always something happening, and as a result of this relentless forward motion it seems almost as if the film itself is rather short, plunging away to its conclusion without really pausing for breath. There are some magnificent set pieces, some harrowing scenes – the level and intensity of violence has been raised considerably, along with the stakes – and I wish to make prolonged and passionate love to the wardrobe department over the course of several days.

And of course, the slash fans are not only well catered-to but almost overly pandered to, which guarantees the film’s success in many circles. As a friend of mine (the delightful Bostonian cabaret artiste Amy Macabre) put it, “If this film were any more gay it would just be two dicks kissing each other.” Mainstreamer reviews have been quick to comment on it, largely in tones of great delight, for it’s hard to feel particularly resentful of the barely subtextual sexualisation of the Holmes/Watson friendship in the face of such glorious silliness.

Holmes and Watson in Game of Shadows
I can't imagine where they're getting this "bromance" from

On to the cast. In the previous film I felt that Rachel McAdams was the weak link in an otherwise shining cast; in Game of Shadows she returns, briefly, and is summarily dealt with. Her replacement is Noomi Rapace, who hurls knives and kicks Cossacks and shoots rifles in a refreshing change from the elegant poise and coyly sexualised tedium that has become de riguer for Irene Adlers; Sim, her character, is not presented as a potential love interest for Holmes but rather as a capable and intelligent woman trying to rescue a loved one and very much in command of her own destiny wherever possible.

It is a shame, then, that this film also fairly oozes with (period-appropriate) racial stereotypes and cringe-inducing racist notions. It would have been entirely easy to swap Holmes’s horrendous yellowface performance for something less directly ripped from the annals of 1891, considering how much else has been borrowed from the future (as a former student of sound technology I was more than a little peeved by some details of reproduction, although it is a small drop in a large ocean of deliberate and accidental anachronism); most gallingly, however, there is the depiction of the “gypsies”.

Holmes and Watson’s attitudes could easily be written off as attitudes representative of the time, were they not then immediately supported by the text as realistic. This is sad, because alongside the painful moments of stereotypy there is also an overall intent to push the “gypsies” (a word I am using because it is used in the film; it is generally speaking a racial slur on a par with “negroes”) as being brave, resourceful, loyal, skillful, and intelligent without falling into the irksome “noble savage” trap. It is all the more twitch-making because it’s not the first time Ritchie’s danced around trying to say something admirable about a travelling people and fucked it up and said something unpleasant in the process instead (please see Snatch).

Returning to the cast; I’ve mentioned the formiddable Moriarty and a burgeoning admiration for Noomi Rapace, and I think due mention must also go to Stephen Fry, not least for his exceptional ability to play himself in every film role he receives. Although this is very clearly Mycroft-by-Fry, it is Mycroft-by-Fry in the same way that his brother is Sherlock-by-Downey, and thus their hammed sketches complement each other. Tethering Fry and Downey, Law injects as much level-headedness into both the plot and the performances as he can be expected to, and turns a very touching final scene or two.

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

So, Game of Shadows is silly, exotic, entertaining, and quite, quite gorgeous to look at, and even if it has only a passing relevance to any Holmesian plot (rather like its predecessor) it retains an essence of the original; its significant flaws are almost certainly an overreliance on Victorian racial attitudes which stand out rather starkly.

Dreamers of the Day

I really don’t think I’m cut out for fannishness. Quite apart from antisocial tendencies, I view reading a book – especially books – as a private conversation between myself and the author, with whom I may agree or disagree by turns, but whatever my conversation with them, I find it rude and infuriating when someone butts in. This realisation has led to a far less frequent sharing-of-thoughts on things which I am deeply fond of, in part because I don’t particularly need or want anyone else’s input and in part because I want, irrationally perhaps, to protect the thing from anyone else.

Sometimes this is achieved by slavishly acknowledging the criticisms that could be made to an extent that the positives are never outlined; this is hardly new, of course, and the mindset of “I will tell you everything horrible about myself so that you have nothing left to call me” has even been capitalised upon for a fucking advertising campaign for shoes. And people do not like having their opportunity to insult someone diminished, they do not like the notion that someone’s confidence or sense of self is unassailable, because it makes it so much harder to enact pack justice (without resorting to violence).

With what I’m cynically referring to as “cry-wanking over T.E.” I’m especially cautious as last time I evinced any admiration for him whatsoever I aroused the antipathy of some modern Oxford students who felt that their generation was appreciably better. Perhaps they are, but I don’t think they’ve been afforded quite the opportunity to demonstrate it. Liking T. E. is rather an unusual deviation for me personally since I’m not especially drawn to people who take the heroic role in history and even less so to those who do it self-consciously; I’m more a fan of rakes, idiots, bastards, and mental cases than I am of the noble maligned, the conscientious reformer, and the visionary. Having said that I am growing a space in my heart for gentlemen/lady engineers and the late great hygienic innovators of Victoria’s reign.

Largely what draws me to T.E. isn’t even the heroics and the endeavours but rather the compulsive relationship with self-abasement and glorification, and his apparently unavoidable attraction to his own suffering. One could say that his suffering is irrelevant because, well, it was hardly as if it was forced upon him and his entire culture and rather his was the culture doing a lot of the forcing, especially in the 20s after the British Government manifestly failed to honour its promises to the Hashim (and other members of the Arab Revolt). But the fact that it is voluntary, that all of his preceding miseries were sought out or as the result of dangerous things he sought out, his obsession with turning himself into something else, something “better” than what he began as, is of immediate interest.

It seems odd to have to defend one’s interest in or affection for someone, as if everyone’s measure for affection or interest runs to the same scale. There are perfectly lovely individuals mad obsessed with, for example, Pol Pot; denying the damage a person causes would be stupid and ignorant, but I’m not sure where requiring a moral credit rating for figures of interest or even affection comes from. Whether or not you approve of what Loz did and failed to do in the years of and after WW1, you can state without hesitation that he was a polymath from a generation of polymaths, and that he had some highly-held ideals and a great deal of guilt. And he had, as I said (even disregarding the flagellation business with the large Scotsman), a pain-seeking, sacrificial-longing nature, in addition to his skills as a persuader/manipulator of men.

And that, whether you attribute it to subliminated sexuality or to religious fervour, is fascinating. Whether martyrs looking to remove some fictitious sin through abasement or psychologically driven individuals trying to eradicate the self or those simply sexually drawn to it, the idea that there are people who seek out the very things that instinct, that nature would have us avoid is compelling. It is compelling precisely because it is contrarian and “unnatural”, and because even when it isn’t bundled up in the romantic package of endurance “heroism”, there is a sense of having conquered something very basic in ourselves, the seemingly impossible-to-beat desire to flee from suffering instead of toward it.

So that may well be the crux of my interest in T. E. – not his influence or intellect, not his ambition or his tactics, although all of them are fascinating – but his capacity for pain, both emotional and physical, and his apparent compulsion to seek them out. I don’t believe that requires a moral standing of any degree to validate it, but evidently my former acquaintances of Baliol disagreed (vociferously) on that front.

[The book, by the way, is A Prince of Our Disorder by John E Mack, which has been an expensive nuisance to acquire but is proving a delight and a thought-provacteur to read].