'her'
susychurchill
Just got back from seeing the film that has struck me as most profound movie I've seen in a long time. We'd seen the trailer for 'Her' when watching Philomena - or it might have been Gravity - both of which were good and enjoyable films - but I didn't leave either of them as stimulated, thoughtful and questioning as Spike Jonze's new release has left me.

The movie poses questions such as 'what is love?'; 'what does it mean to be a person?', and suggests that sentience,consciousness  and love are emergent properties that an AI might develop. Not a new idea: I think many have fallen in love with Orson Scott Card's 'Jane' who lives in the ansible, and other authors have played with the concept too. But this movie, with its near-future setting, brings the issue right into the now.

There are some humorous, and also touching, scenes exploring digital sexuality. A psychotherapist author I admire (Petruska Clarkson) wrote that the biggest sexual organ in the human is the brain - ie that our imagination, thoughts and feelings have at least as much to do with our experience of sexual activity as which body part is being touched in which way.

What is it about another that we fall in love with? It felt entirely plausible to me that the film's protagonist would fall in love with Samantha, who listens intently, encourages him to explore new ideas, and shares her own concerns as well as encouraging him to articulate his own. As a couples therapist I regularly work with people's struggles with the themes of acceptance, real intimacy and unconditional love - and how much does it matter what physical structure those qualities are housed within?

The critics were divided, but this is a movie I would deem worth seeing again - very rare for me!

abundance as a stimulus to creativity
susychurchill
Ten days ago my sister Karen and her husband Alan arrived to stay and handed over a huge wheel of best quality Brie, a half-Stilton (about 4 or 5 kilos), a whole sphere of Edam, and a big chunk of Cheddar. (And many bottles of wine, but that's a different story.) At the time I felt overwhelmed, and concerned that this wonderful food would end up contributing to the waste mountain, because there was no way we would be able to eat it all .....  I don't like to be ungrateful, so it was time to switch into 'resource management'.

OK, my other sister Di and her husband were arriving to stay for a couple of days, and our daughter Celia was still with us. We had cheese and biscuits as the final course after dinner every evening, and it made an appearance one lunchtime.  The abundance of riches was further whittled down to more manageable proportions because Di and Nick were sent off with good sized chunks, as was Celia, and Karen and Alan also took some home with them.

So we were left with about a kilo each of Brie and Stilton. I know Stilton freezes fine: you wouldn't want to put the defrosted result on a cheeseboard, but it's perfectly OK for Stilton and broccoli soup, Stilton and pickled walnut omelette, or blended into a white wine, walnut and parsley sauce to accompany pasta. I was confident that we would use up the Stilton, but what on earth could I do with the Brie?

Some went into toasted sandwiches for lunch, but  this was a Brie with a forceful personality. Every time the larder door was opened, its aroma leapt out and gave you a deep-throat snog. Triple-wrapped in waxed paper, it was moved into the fridge, but even there it made its presence felt. Time to search the BBC website for Brie Recipes. Of the hundreds that showed up, many were variants on 'baked/roasted Brie with some chutney or fruit marmalade'. However, there were a few alternative approaches, and I downloaded recipes for salmon with a brie crust, and dauphinoise potatoes with Brie. I also printed off a recipe for a cheese and onion bhaji, but our son Antony's sceptical expression sent that to the end of the queue.

Simply reading through the recipes stimulated me to create a modification of aubergine parmigiana, using Brie and Edam between the layers of crumbed eggplant and tomato sauce. It was tasty, and the Edam contributed a texture that was an interesting alteration from the original. Encouraged, we embarked on the recipes: the breadcrumb and cheese crust for the salmon was good, though the Brie and basil sauce that accompanied it was a step too far. I'm now feeling quite sad that there's just enough Brie left to sample one more recipe.....

Back when I was an occupational psychologist I used a psychological test "How many different uses can you find for a paperclip?" I'm sure I haven't yet exhausted the possibilities presented by an abundance of ripe Brie - and thank you, Karen, for the stimulus to my creativity.

Thank you NanoWriMo
susychurchill
Two days in (over 3500 words) and life is occurring as an adventure again.
When will my main character actually embark on his quest?
What monsters and maidens will he encounter?

I love the anticipation

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