Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Approaching midnight

About 3/4 of the way through Midnight's Children and it is thoroughly excellent. Often I'd heard of it, the "Booker of Bookers", and thought, can it be that good? Can any book be that good? Well, unless we're heading for a turn in form and style that even Devon Loch would be ashamed of, then yes, yes it is.

It's not just that the writing is so ornate, so lavish, lush and beguiling, it's that it's full of intricate plot details, clever set pieces that drive this plot, full of identifiable feelings and emotions, and also replete with magic realism, far out ideas, historical references and world-altering events.

Usually I can read a 400 page book in about a week (no boast, just true), but such is the rich, vivid detail of this book, that I am only now reaching the final 100 pages after three weeks. And yet I am relishing this, enjoying every turn of the page, every new location, character and plot foreshadowing that Rushdie ushers in.

Much like Hoare's Leviathan from last year, this is a book that is causing me to almost miss my tube stop both on the way to work and, more impressively, on the way home too, so engrossed am I in each page, each paragraph, sentence, word.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Thar she blows!

After my minor whale infatuation last summer I wasn't that surprised to unwrap a copy of the 1956 version of Moby-Dick on Boxing Day (tree present, ya see?)

Owing to a bit of minor man-flu I was laid up in bed yesterday so it seemed the perfect time to finally watch it. I am glad I did as I found it very enjoyable. Sure the whale was fairly dated (i.e. no CGI, maaan), and some of the camera work and action was stilted in places, but overall it seemed a fairly true representation to the book.

What I particularly liked was the pacing of it and the fact quite a lot of the original, poetic dialogue had been left in, while some of the shots of the lads all a-whalin' seemed accurate, given what whaling knowledge I have accumulated on my short stint on this revolving lump of rock we call earth.

The music was fun too.

I also watched Starter for 10, a university-challenge inspired rom-com, which was, erm, okay. A bit fractured, disjointed, and a slightly messy ending. I should have known the ending would be a bit crap as I have a vivid memory of Richard Madeley telling one of the cast members, probably James McAvoy, that he though the ending was brilliant.

Ridiculous what the brain remembers isn’t it?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Short straws

Last night I caught the last 25 minutes or so of sci-fi flop Armageddon on BBC3 (another great justification for its existence right there). You know the story. Asteroid, Americans, comedy Russian, Liv Tyler, mission to land on asteroid and plant bomb, then leave to detonate bomb, Aerosmith, Bruce Willis, mission fails, one member of team must stay behind on Aerosmith and blow it up, thus dying.

So, we reach this climatic point of this process and the only logical way to choose which member of the crew should do this, and therefore save the entire planet is to draw straws. Of course!

So, instantaneously, we see six straws being proffered to each member of the crew. Where on earth did they find six straws from? And all of different colour. Which forward-thinking planner put that on the shuttle, thinking of all eventualities?

Also, funny to see that some minute before this we see a shard of the asteroid blowing up Paris. I mean, why did the multi-million dollar Hollywood film decide to choose Paris as the one city that should fall foul of the deadly rock? What a pathetic film.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just another blog

So a quarter through Midnight's Children by some unknown author called Salaam Rusden and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying it. As someone on Twitter said to me, it's a bit like having "the world's best Grandad telling the best story ever". Quite.

I continue to be thwarted in my efforts to turn my knowledge of sport into some sort of financial gain, it's a frustrating world. I have resolved to turn all my attentions to the stock market as I have no knowledge of it and can only do as well as I do in sport.

Oh, and I bought some stripy stocks. Does life get any more exciting than this?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Here is the news

I played my first sets of tennis of the year on Saturday. Very enjoyable it was too. Most courts seem quieter in the months before Wimbledon than after, can't imagine why. First games of the 'season' are always characterized by awful double-faults and wild, flailing backhands, but come September I, and those I play with, are generally down with some pretty nifty shots.

I started reading Midnight's Children on Friday. So far so good, but I gather it's one of the most unfinished novels ever written. I am determined to give it a fair whack so will update as I go.

I've been watching Arrested Development again recently, man it's good. Similarly, Lost is almost half-way through its final season and getting very interesting. I'll be glad when it's all over just so it's done and dusted but it's been a weird and wonderful journey to be sure.

Incidentally, I caught about 10 minutes of the latest 24 on Sky One last night. Can't believe that is still going. I was watching that when I was at secondary school. Now I am 24. Yikes!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I am a Google Street View driver*

What do I do all day? Drive around all the roads of the UK, or Australia, or Chile. I get up and drive, I drive up and down streets. I see the people stare, I see the children run after me, the privacy people swear, the technology lovers wave.

I stop in bizarre hotels in side streets of villages and towns I'll never see again, I stare out of windows over desolate roads or thriving markets, before climbing in my little white car, mounted with its all seeing eye, and trundle off again, collecting endless images of life. A snapshot of things.

It's a strange way to live, a kind of job, a half life. But hey, you can see your house on the internet now, so I hope that makes you happy.

*(N.B. I am not a Google Street View driver, obviously).

Letting go

I re-read a book recently. Not something I do very often. Only The Great Gatsby can I remember re-reading before. Once, when forced to at university, and then again about a year ago for enjoyment.

This time I re-read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a stunning work. One of the saddest, most moving books I've read. It's coming out on film later this year with pencil necked beauty Kiera Knightly in the secondary role of Ruth.

Re-reading books is interesting. I knew the story, although bits of it were lost in the five years since I last it, but overall my memory of it was clear. But other things, little sentences and asides, suddenly resonated more because, knowing the context, they made more sense.

Re-reading books is a bit like watching films again, something that for the most part is pointless. Not that it's bad, but because you're denying the chance to see something else you might enjoy. But, at the same time, re-watching and re-reading, offer a second view, a second perspective on something you have either misremembered, or plain forgotten.

I await the film with interest, if only to see if they manage in anyway to capture the tragic, dull ache the book subtle threads throughout, without ever overtly trying too hard to tell you how to feel. It probably won't, but let's see.

Monday, March 08, 2010

New shoes?!

When you buy new shoes there is always a period of some one or two weeks in which they are clearly new.

Everyone will say, "New shoes?!" to you, with an unreal amount of glee, that is almost veering towards the manic. No other new item of clothing causes such a reaction, even haircuts rarely elicit such a response.

Why is this? Is it some latent primeval acknowledgement of the importance of shoes to protect our feet when chasing / running away from woolly mammoths or saber toothed tigers?

Regardless, for this initial new shoes time you are subjected to the endless finger pointing, the strange Cheshire Cat grins of happiness (or is that mockey), for the purchase of some new footwear. Only, when after two weeks, or there abouts, of wearing, and thus decay and dirtying from the trials and tribulations of modern footwear life, do the shoes cease to look new, and instead become old favourites, battered, worn in, scruffy. The comments cease.

Walking towards the tube on Sunday, my new shoes on display, glinting in the first clear sun of the year, a tall, manic looking man was striding towards me. Striding with that demented air some people give off. I could sense what was coming.

In a high pitched, slightly Mediterrrain accent he proclaimed, whiling point at my shoes: "NEW SHOES!?"

I nodded, and we passed.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The land of chocolate

I was in Hannover over the last three days. What a jolly time it was. Currywurst, Schtnizel, Ham for Breakfast, lovely. I found the people very pleasent and helpful, and the trains were very, well, punctual. Infact I took a train from the center of town down to their equiviliant of our NEC (only bigger, and nicer) to pre-register as press (oh, such perks). I felt like a very watered down Paul Theroux doing this as I've been reading his The Great Railway Bazaar - it's very good.

Some people don't see to like Mister Paul because he is so grumpy and doesn't seem to like many of the people he meets and writes about on his travels but I like it for this very reason. It seems much more real and relatable. Theroux always advises travels writers against getting planes as you learn nothing about a country by flying in to it. This is probably true. I flew with BMI to Hannover and got bumped to first class on the way back. I don't know, it was nice, and leg room for a 6ft 2" chap was a luxury, but would it be worth the massive increase in expense, I'm not so sure. Maybe long-haul, maybe then. Yes, then I think it would be good.

Heathrow is rubbish though. Huge passport queues, a massively overpriced heathrow express service, that only leaves you dumped at Paddington, and that's about it. Do you like me just rambling on things? Is it good? Or do you want something else from me? Hmmm.