A walk down Bedlington Country Park

Hello again. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I went on a nice riverside walk and thought i’d send you some photos. (Look, i was getting desperate and it was either this or a post about why seven is my favourite number.)

Our scene today is the southern end of Bedlington, a reasonably sized and — if i’m to be honest — terribly mediocre town right in the middle of that conurbation in the southeast of Northumberland. Thankfully, we’re not going to concern ourselves with the town centre (a place whose selling points are a Greggs and a void that used to be a Tesco) — no, we’re going down a steep and heavy slope until we wind up on the steep banks of the river Blyth, where the local parish have kindly set up a path. Won’t you join me?

Seeing this, i was simply overcome by the androgynous urge to stomp and plod around in a stream. (It’s what Hermaphroditos would have wanted.) Alas, my shoes were terribly unfit for such activity, and i had to call it off for another day. A national tragedy!

Four or so ducks swim peacefully down a rocky stream, flanked on their left by a small islet overshadowed by leaves.

About halfway down the river, there’s this small leafy island that some ducks appear to have claimed as their home. I would have admired it further, but i was being shadowed by by a couple with some particularly yappy and aggressive dogs and really just wanted to get the whole predicament over with.

A view from the middle of a river — water pours down a dam on the right, while in the dead centre, a pillar is visible in the distance.

I’m not 100% sure what’s going on with the pillar in the middle — it’s about where the path on the opposite side comes to a sudden stop; perhaps it used to be the support for some kind of railway bridge.

I did, i admit, have to trespass on a dam for this view — the ducks, i hope, would never be grasses. It’s just not in their DNA.

A fencepost crudely vandalised with some sort of four-way grid, an owl saying “Peace”, and the burnt-in initials of one “R.C.”

Some incredible visual storytelling here. Someone’s drawn an owl saying “Peace!”, then someone else has come and vandalised it with a swastika, then someone else went and turned the swastika into something resembling the Windows logo. I don’t know where “R.C.” comes into this, but if they were the last fellow, i salute them. Truly, one of the heroes of our time.

(I was somewhat tempted to scribble over it myself and turn it into Loss.jpg…)

Mx van Hoorn’s link roundup, volume X

A comparison between Hubble and JWST images of a ring nebula; the side representing Webb has far more detail
Don’t make a Goatse joke, don’t make a Goatse joke, don’t make a Goatse joke…

Two wolves

An image macro of Scotty from Star Trek. Top text: Inside you there are two wolves. Bottom text: Sorry about the transporter malfunction.
Have to say, the “Make a Meme!” watermark really puts the cherry on top.

There are two wolves inside of me. One is a fantasy author who will gladly write thirty-word run on sentences until they’re purple in the face; the other is a copy-editor for the Economist who wants to hack at every sentence until it’s shorter than their last relationship.

I suspect the fantasy author is winning — much as the copy-editor is the one who writes my style guide, they’d probably be mortified by the liberty with which their counterpart peppers texts with em-dashes and semicolons.1 And anyway — i’m a blogger, not a journalist! I have no requirement to make my writing erudite to the average businessman. (Well, maybe if this site suddenly pivots audiences…)


11 July 2022

One thing i’d like to do at some point, i think, is find a way to synchronise or link up the WordPress comments here on the blog with the jury-rigged PHP comments on the main site. Much as i admire the single-style, chronological blog format, it can be terribly limiting at times — i’d love to be able to post simultaneously here and there and not have people worry about missing out on the discussion.

A lush cover of “Running up that Hill”

Look. Reader, you’re probably sick to death of “Running up that Hill”1 at this point — it’s been everywhere for weeks. But i’m not, because it’s a bloody great song and i neither listen to pop radio nor watch Stranger Things, so here’s a brilliant, luscious cover by the inexplicably non-Australian band2 the Wombats.

(P.S. — I still can’t remember that post idea i had the other day, no matter how many bike rides to the same place i run… was it a religious thing? Some meta-internet naff? Was i going to get political? If someone has access to my brain’s Recycle Bin folder, please tell me.)

Mx van Hoorn’s link roundup, Volume IX

I had a really good idea for a post the other night. Then i fell asleep and promptly forgot it, so you’re getting this instead — apologies.

The July media catchup

I’ve missed, erm, quite a lot of “monthly updates”, so here’s me catching you up on everything i’ve watched, listened to, and otherwise done since February.

(I should note that from here on out i’ll be using numeric ratings instead of letters — i find it much easier to figure out whether something’s a 7 or an 8 than whether it’s an A or a B.)

🎥 Films on the big screen

Michelle Yeoh with a googly eye on her face in an office
  • There are few films i would recommend unconditionally to anyone and everyone, but by Gods, Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) is one of them. It’s belly-laugh funny, has brilliant action, and features some of the most truly ridiculous scenes ever put to film, but all without ever losing its sincere, heartfelt core. Just go watch it.a (9)
  • The Northman (2021) is Robert Eggers’ first attempt at a big blockbuster film — and probably his last, looking at the box office. Which is a shame — this weird, grim, beautiful, gory Pagan epic just tickled me in all of the right places, and very well might be in my top 3 films ever made. I loved how it struck the balance of “maybe it’s magic, maybe it’s mundane”; Björk and Willem Dafoe absolutely steal the show in their brief appearances. (10-)
  • Top Gun: Maverick is everything a blockbuster should be. It’s so, so refreshing to watch something so grounded in the real world after what feels like decades of fantastical superhero CGI fluff dominating the box office. Yes, it’s a recruitment ad for the US Navy and probably the Sea Org, but who gives a shit? It had me glued to my seat start to finish.b (8)
  • The same, alas, cannot be said of its predecessor, which i tried to watch to bring me up to speed. Tried is the operative word there: homoerotic beach volleyball and extreme Dad Movie energy can only go so far to prop up flat characters and stakeless action; i ended up turning it off halfway through. I can’t recommend it to anyone who’s not a Dad Who Likes Planes. (2)
  • Sam Raimi takes the wheel at the newest Marvel theme park ride, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Mr Raimi’s hectic style shines through in some glorious, fleeting moments, but most of it is just another by-the-numbers intellectual property orgy which left me sorely disappointed. I considered walking out of the screen several times. (5-)
  • The Batman is a very good adaptation of a story we all know by now. I loved, loved, loved Paul Dano’s weird incel version of the Riddler, the Pat-man’s eyeshadow, and that one part where he flubs the landing with his cool flying squirrel suit. (7+)
  • I watched Morbius in the cinema. Dear god, why did i watch Morbius in the cinema? Why did i do that to myself? Don’t believe the memes. Excepting one truly glorious scene with Matt Smith, this isn’t the funny kind of bad. It’s just plain bad. (2+)
  • Moonfall, on the other hand… now that’s a good bad movie. I swear my IQ dropped several points after walking out of the cinema. (5) Here are some things that actually happen in this actual movie that was actually released into actual cinemas across several actual countries and made millions of actual dollars:
    • The government successfully covers up the fact that the moon is falling, and not a single person notices except for a crazed conspiracy theorist.
    • Said conspiracy theorist is inexplicably British.
    • The characters take the Space Shuttle out of a museum because their other rocket broke, and it still works just as well as the day it was put in there. Also, someone graffiti’d it with the words “fuck the moon”.
    • The day is saved by superior Chinese technology, because of course it is.
    • On that note — there is a character in here whose sole purpose, i’m pretty sure, is to just stand there, say some lines now and then, and be Chinese for the Chinese audience. You could cut her out of the film and literally nothing would change.
    • You can guess what the department of defence wants to do to the moon. That’s right, they try to nuke it!
    • But they don’t because a five-star general knows his ex-wife is up there.
    • There is a shot of the moon falling on New York City in which, i shit you not, every building except the World Trade Centre gets absolutely blown to smithereens.
    • Someone’s brain is uploaded to the moon.
    • One of the main characters’ friends owns a Lexus™ dealership. All of the characters drive Lexus™ cars, and they escape oxygen thieves(??) by activating Turbo Mode on their Lexus™ automobile.
    • The Space Shuttle is vaguely “secured” by the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, who, just weeks after my screening, got sanctioned by the EU in the wake of the special peacekeeping operation™.
    • A main character gets trapped underneath a log and he escapes because the moon’s gravity pulls it off of the ground! This really happens! I am not making this up! Someone says “Sonny, the moon will help us!”
    • “I know; that’s why we lost the house.” — a seven-year-old

💿 Music

  • Sigur Rós’ () — I may now have a new favourite album. At the very least, it’s my favourite album where none of the tracks have titles and my favourite album where every song is sung in asemic gibberish. Check out the opening track. (9)
  • John Grant’s Queen of Denmark — A surprise gift from my papa. A really lovely piano record — check out the title track. (7+)
  • Spinvis’ Spinvis — Hallelujah, Dutch-language music that doesn’t suck donkey dick! Check uit „Voor ik vergeet”. (7-)
  • After acquiring it on black plastic, i thought i’d give Green Day’s American Idiot a spin — last time around i gave it a C+, but it’s much better when you’re able to properly appreciate each track on its own merits. You know the hits, so check out “Letterbomb”. (8)
  • Charli XCX’s Crash is pretty good, but anchored too firmly in the mainstream for my liking. Check out the hyperpop-inflected “Lightning”. (7)
  • Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s new side gig, The Smile, released their debut album A Light for Attracting Attention, and it could easily pass for a tenth Radiohead album. Check out Pablo Honey 2 “You Will Never Work in Television Again” and “Skrting on the Surface”. (8)

🌍 Everything else!

  • 📺 Apple TV+’s Severance is some of the best bloody television i’ve ever seen. I pray to the heavens above that they don’t fuck up that cliffhanger. (9+)
  • 📺 Netflix’s animated Inside Job has a wonky start, with an abundance of forced pop-cultural references, but really finds its footing by the end of the season. Here’s hoping they don’t cancel it — i can’t wait to see where it goes next! (7)
  • 🖥️ On the Youtube side of things, Captain KRB is a fantastic and underrated (only 40 thousand subs) videomaker who you should consider giving a shot. Check out his video about The Stairway to Stardom, an obscure public access show. (6+)
  • 🖥️ Kane Parsons continues to breathe new life into a worn-out e-horror setting with his Backrooms series. (7)
  • ⛰️ I am, as of last month, an official sponsor of the otters at Northumberland Country Zoo. My only regret is that i’m not allowed to hug them. (cute/10)
Three Asian small-clawed otters resting on a log
Cat tax. Otter tax?

A walk down to the Quayside

This article comes equipped with its own optional soundtrack for those who want to follow along with my listening habits as well as my walk.
A decaying building’s brick-arched frontage contrasts with a concrete underpass.
We begin at the Holy Jesus Hospital, whose site served as an almshouse for the poor for seven hundred years.
More brick arches, trailing off into the background.
The current 17th-century building now serves as office space for the National Trust. No noseys allowed (shame!)
The frontage of a shop by the name of “Tile World” (with a globe replacing the O), its shutters now covered with graffiti.
Anyone need some tiles?
I’m pretty sure this is either “Hallelujah” or “Jerusalem”, but i have absolutely no idea which.
A hulking grey concrete building scrapes the sky.
Only a scant few BT-branded trucks occupy the parking lot of this hulking concrete husk, surely far too big for its intended purpose.
Four floors of brick flats.
Ahhh — reminds me of home, back in Hoorn.
A worn European Union flag hangs over a balcony.
The tragedy of Brexit.
Quayside Pharmacy
An advert for Greggs’ all-day coffee, reading “Every Hour’s Happy”.
Is it, Greggs? Is it?
Leafy trees and paths cover another brick flat.
A diagram of the flat of St Ann’s Close has been vandalised with a hammer and sickle, a blurred-out website link, and “1312”.
There’s a lot of commie graffiti scattered along this road, though all of it seems to be by the same person — you can tell because they can’t draw a hammer and sickle.
Walls upon walls absolutely covered with artisan graffiti.
Bloody showoffs. (That reminds me — i have a massive unpublished gallery post of a walk down the full length of the Ouseburn, but never did get around to finishing it… maybe soon?)
Your author’s hand holds a nice ice cream.
The most important meal of the day.1
A ticket to see “Top Gun: Maverick” at the Tyneside Cinema.
I’ve decided to join the Sea Org and give my life’s savings to the military-industrial complex. (In all seriousness, it was a bloody brilliant film — everything a blockbuster should be!)


17 June 2022

This whole time i thought Florence and the Machine’s “Hunger” was a song by the Killers. A—am i losing it?? I can hear Brandon Flowers singing “you made a fool of death with your beauty!” so clearly in my head…