Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

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Weeknotes #691

Just the one press screening for me since my last weeknotes, of sports biopic cum true crime drama Foxcatcher. It’s not out till January so I won’t have my review scribbled up till after Christmas, but suffice it to say I liked it a lot, especially Steve Carell’s performance: the scariest screen presence this side of Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. Seriously.

There have been other screenings, of course, but the dates and times didn’t work with my schedule; among the gems I’ve missed (the ones I know of, anyway, as I’m not on Fox’s or Universal’s PR radar yet) is Paddington, which, inexplicably, has been getting almost universal praise (I’ve seen the trailer and it looks rotten). We’ll see what’s left for the rest of the month, as the press machine tends to wind down early for the end-of-year break.

Music-wise, this week I filed two new (and belated) reviews for Burning Ambulance that’ll appear on the site over the next week or two; this week Phil did his countdowns of the best metal and jazz releases of the year. You should also check out Erik Highter’s 2014 favourites list while I’m thinking of it.

I’ll likely be spending the rest of December going through my promos to round up some newish stuff, and cover my own favourites from across the year (the latter to make up for slacking off and not doing spring/summer round-ups, I admit). I’ve got a couple of weeks’ holidays from the (semi) day job coming from next week on, so I’ll have more time to sit down and listen, damn it!

Speaking of the day job, this week (and next) I’m working on a double issue for the Christmas/New Year period that’s going to press on the 10th. Subediting and production for this one so far has been the usual mix of highs and lows. The regular contributors, for the most part, are a breeze to sub, there’s very little if any that needs fixing; but sometimes you get something that’s just a mess, that requires so much rewriting I should have my own name in the byline, and I imagine what it must be like for developers refactoring someone else’s shoddy code.

It’s such a time-sink, and an enthusiasm sapper, and much of it could be avoided if certain writers read back over what they’ve written before they file their copy. Don’t get me wrong, I love subbing, even the layouts (which are getting so much easier with InDesign in the two months since the switchover) but I get much more satisfaction from editing copy that doesn’t need razing to the ground. You other writers who edit will know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, that’s enough work talk. How about my cycles along the canal?

Yes, it’s winter but I’m keeping at it. Actually it’s nice at the moment, colder than it is wet, though the wind can make it a struggle at times. And weirdly enough, now that it’s winter I’m seeing more wildlife, especially birds: robins are everywhere, and in the last few days I’ve not only seen my first kingfisher (first confirmed sighting anyway; I caught a glimpse of shiny blue feathers a few weeks ago) but also two breeds of duck that aren’t the omnipresent mallard, namely two pairs of Eurasian widgeons and a lone pair of ring-necked ducks. Variety is the spice of life.
All I need now is another fox sighting to match that bedroom window surprise a few years ago and I’m set.