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Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the statues?!

What I’ve been reading lately, part 37

High Society — Ben Elton

Elton doing what he does best, colliding a cast of somewhat stereotypical characters (the corrupt politician, the drugged-out singing star, the teenage runaway) and working with the sparks that fly — and doing so with rather more craftsmanship than he is often credited with.

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Gavin Burrows on William Hartnell’s Doctor Who

Different Doctor Who fans have responded in different ways to the shallow disappointment that is the Chibnall/Whittaker era. I have reluctantly written something about each episode, despite actively disliking plenty of them. Elizabeth Sandifer seems to have pretty much given up. Andrew Rilstone has written about the most recent season (having quite rightly skipped the previous one), but is also reviewing Tom Baker’s tenure from the start.

But maybe the most interesting response has been that of Gavin Burrows.

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Making pizza from scratch

This is a recipe adapted from one that my good friend Charles Ledvina gave me. I have only made it once — to good effect — so I am blogging this mostly so that I have an easy way to find it. If you find it useful, too, all well and good.

The first pizza as it came out of the over. The cheese is slightly toasted, because I left it in too long, hoping to char the crust.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 36

The Magician’s Nephew — C. S. Lewis

I don’t quite remember what the specific stimulus was for my starting to re-re-re-read Lewis’s classic Narnia books. But this must be at least the tenth time through, going back to when I was eight or nine. (These are often referred to collectively as “The Chronicles of Narnia” but that it exactly what they are not. They are stories, with no pretense to historic verisimilitude or exhaustiveness.)

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What to do with leftover rice

Now that we’re in lockdown, and it’s difficult to get food delivered, we’ve become more careful about making the best use of all our leftovers. In particular, when we have left-over rice (most likely from one of our curries), I’m remaking it into a sort of Singapore fried rice.

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Another curry

I don’t know what to call this curry: it’s sort of like a dupiaza, sort of like a jalfrezi. The key point is, it’s delicious.

This isn’t it; but it looks a lot like it.

And the great thing about it is that the first 80% or so of the recipe is exactly the same as my chicken sort-of-korma recipe. Which means you can get 80% of the way through that recipe, then split the mixtures and make half-and-half of that and this.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 35

Wintersmith — Terry Pratchett

Towards the end of his career — and Wintersmith is the 41st of the 47 Discworld books — it seems to me that Terry Pratchett’s heart was really in the Tiffany Aching subseries, aimed at young adults.

Wintersmith is the third of the five in this subseries, and I think one of his last really good books. Tiffany is a young witch: practical, headstrong, feet on the ground while others have their heads in the clouds. She is easy to like, and Wintersmith puts her in an interesting set of dilemmas. Well worth reading (and re-reading, as I was doing.)

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The Timeless Children is 90% satisfying

Let’s start with the big-picture stuff. The Timeless Children was fun to watch, but more than that: fascinating. It’s full of interesting ideas, and they all pretty much make sense. The rewriting of Time Lord history accords well what we have come to learn of that race’s mendacious tendencies, and the Doctor’s discovery of her own pre-Hartnell history makes perfect sense.

The Master’s role is crucial, his plan truly horrible; the Irish policeman’s story from last week plays into the big reveal in a perfectly cromulent way; and the reappearance of Ruth Clayton from Fugitive of the Judoon was welcome and not overcooked. I particularly liked how everything she said was reflecting back to the Doctor things she already knew.

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Ascension of the Cybermen: racking up the tension

It feels to me that this series is gearing up to be much stronger than series 11, and this penultimate episode does a fine job of setting the stage for the finale. I like that we’re left with three separate cliffhangers.

What I like even more is the way the episode built to that point, organically and progressively, almost as though there was some narrative craftsmanship involved. I found myself drawn into the story of the Irish foundling baby, and moved by it, to the point where it almost felt like an unwelcome jolt to be pulled out of that story into what was more obvious Doctor Who: how many backstory sequences can we say that for?

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