Sunday, 31 October 2010

a Halloween story

by Oli
As it is Halloween, I have written a Halloween story.

There was once a ghost with a terrible secret. Nobody knew what this secret was, because ghosts cannot speak.
It was the best Halloween ever.

I may write a sequel, but only if I feel I can stay true to the characters.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

a retrospective on the stoat

by Oli

for Donna: Britain’s foremost adventure naturalist
Of all Britain’s fauna the most under-appreciated is the stoat. Neither as striking as the badger, nor as steeped in controversy as the fox, the stoat has an easily-overlooked excellence.
The stoat is a small, wispy creature whose range stretches across Europe, Asia and North America. It typically reaches lengths of around 30cm, although males are notably bigger than females. Remarkably, the stoat shares 100% of its genetic structure with the weasel. The animal nonetheless differs from its genetic twin in virtue of its second DNA: the store of genetic material laced throughout the lymphatic system. Scientists presently posit the existence of an as-yet-undiscovered shared ancestor.
Chiefly nocturnal, the stoat’s method of hunting is astonishing. Using a sinuous ‘land-swimming’ movement, stoats moves silently and with dignified poise. A naturally efficient movement, land-swimming has directly inspired the well-known front crawl, back stroke and butterfly swimming strokes. Stoats primarily eat rabbit, although are capable of surviving on root vegetables and alliaceous plants like the leek.
The stoat is perhaps most famous for its white winter coat: it is referred to as an ermine throughout this season. Wild stoats have been observed to recognise both terms and display no marked preference for either. However, admiration of the stoat’s elegant form has historically been to the neglect of the creature’s more functional dimensions. Much like spiderweb, the whiskers of a stoat possess a startling prehensile strength that can be put to varied use.  From fine lacework to rudimentary engine repair, the animal’s whiskers are a versatile material.
Creative inspiration and the stoat have long been interlinked. Most notably, the animal has a distinguished artistic history as a symbol of purity. However, it is worth noting that the stoat's sociological influence is not limited to the artistic sphere: it was the stoat’s predilection for nesting on consecrated ground that partially inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitational pull. From the crude attraction of stoats to the sacred, Newton required only mild abstraction to formulate a theory of universal attraction between bodies. 
Today the stoat faces increasing environmental pressures: outcompeted by the weasel, habitat loss has placed a heavy burden upon surviving members of the species. What is more, the stoat’s innate curiosity and love of diversity has proved a tragic disadvantage: increasing urban globalisation and homogeny within the British countryside has rendered swathes of male stoats sterile and unable to reproduce. 
Appreciate this remarkable animal while you still can.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

America speech

by Oli

Fellow citizens. Today I have been made an American and I can think of no greater joy or honour. 
I admire this nation’s towering ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood, but it is the smaller things that have enraptured me. I have become an American, and with this been invited into a land of Corvettes, Wonder Woman, Buddy Holly and Ray Ban sunglasses. From the sprawl of suburbia to the empty beauty of its wildernesses, I know that I shall always feel welcome and privileged to call this country 'home'.
This is the speech that I shall give should I ever be granted some sort of honorary citizenship of the USA. I imagine there would be an opportunity to give a speech.

review: Winter's Bone

by Oli

Having nothing to do last night, I resolved to see Winter’s Bone, a new film showing at my local cinema.
My journey to the cinema was very pleasant; a fact which I attribute to the excellent suspension system of my 2002 Ford Fiesta. It is a wonderful car that has served me very well in the four years that I have owned it, and I heartily recommend the Fiesta to anyone considering a small car. Mine came in the very soothing Metropolis Blue, although a variety of equally agreeable colours are also available from the Ford Motor Company.
Upon reaching the cinema, parking was ample and I was able to stop very close to the advertising hoardings that typically flank the entrance to a cinema. The collection of my pre-ordered tickets passed smoothly - the cinema maintains a stirringly efficient pre-order system - although I was somewhat disappointed with the refreshments on offer. Bar the child size, all portions were far too large to eat or drink in the time allocated for the film. This ought to be addressed by the picturehouse’s management committee.
I was unable to concentrate on the film as I was preoccupied with thoughts about Mr. Ray Bradbury’s fantasy-horror novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. Mr. Bradbury’s novel enjoys an excellent title and, although I cannot testify first-hand to the quality of the book, all the reviews that I have read were very positive. I spent the majority of the film imagining what the book might be like, and as to what scenarios its protagonist or protagonists might face. I concluded that supernatural forces, organised crime or the military were likely to play vital roles.
If possible, I enjoyed my journey home even more than I did my journey to the cinema. The route benefitted from the moonlight and many of the trees took on an appearance not dissimilar to those that frequently frequent the movies of Mr. Tim Burton.
Many thanks to the Cheshire Oaks Vue cineplex for a most enjoyable evening.

Score: Impossible to say