Thursday, 10 September 2009

Blog Resurrection!

My dear partner has recently posted to his blog after a gap of some many months. Shamed by his sudden industry, I shall do the same. And shall decorate with some photos from birthday trip to Italy - my return to Florence after 33 years!

I don’t know why I stopped, really. Just found I had less time than I'd been used to and something had to give. For about nine months, I was going to the gym every day (lost 20kgs), busy working on a sequence of demanding assignments for my MSc (two at once at one point), and monumentally busy at work. Over the past few months, the gym fell by the wayside, I went supernova with the two simultaneous assignments and haven’t picked up a textbook since handing them in, and work became much less intense (always does over August when everybody is on holiday, as was I).

Some highlights of the past few months:
I put all the weight back on that I had spent months shedding. Oh well. So it goes. But I did eat some lovely food in the process, particularly when on holiday in Florence. I had pizza at least once everyday (usually Pizza Napoli) and most days I had a risotto of some kind. Italian food must be the best in the world. Have been making risotto twice a week since getting back. I am currently in the process of psyching myself up for another monster slimming down programme. I think I’m almost disgusted enough and uncomfortable enough with my present weight and shape in order to be driven to dire measures like abjuring carbohydrates entirely for many months, having a limb amputated, or having my mouth sewn shut by the Bad Mother from Coraline.

Watched some excellent films. Five of the best were:
Let The Right One In, which I watched on holiday and adored! Hard to describe and ‘Swedish teen vampire movie’ does it no justice. It’s brilliant.
Moon, which I went to the picturehouse to see and very much liked. The apple obviously hasn’t fallen far from the tree in the Jones / Bowie family. Pleased to have watched Sam Rockwell performing so well when I thought I didn’t even like him. Great little film, much deeper than it appears on the surface and more complex than its apparently simple design suggests.
The Baader Meinhof Complex, which I downloaded from iTunes and hugely enjoyed, if enjoyed is the correct word. It was enjoyable to be reminded of that very potent period in my memory, when the Red Army Faction were great popular bogeymen, but the film did more than evoke nostalgia for the 70s in a divided Germany. It examined many levels of faith and doubt, freedom and control, innocence and corruption. Clever film.
Dead Snow, which is undoubtedly the best Norwegian zombie horror flick I’ve ever watched. A delight from start to gloriously over the top finish, all in the snowfields of Norway. Observed the requirements of the formula and then torqued them up.
Brüno, which I didn’t think I’d like and was rather coerced into by partner. I didn’t watch the Ali G movie and wasn’t all that taken with Borat although I did laugh quite a lot. To quote Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’, I near enough peed my pants. I was sore from laughing at some points and barely stopped chortling long enough to draw breath between start and finish. I was also in awe at Baron Cohen’s balls of steel, particularly in that final section where they’re making out in the cage at the wrestling match. He both enlightens and delights as he trots along poking shibboleths in the eye.

Books wot I red!
Just finished The Poisonwood Bible which has been burning a hole in my bookshelves for years since a friend gave it me to read on holiday. Books recommended by friends often acquire a curiously leprous association that somehow causes me to read anything else I come across first. Don’t ask me why, makes no sense. And when somebody actually gives me the book, to put on my shelves to gather dust, the effect is magnified. Thus it was with Barbara Kingsolver’s book and I can’t believe I have been denying myself this marvellous treat all this time. It’s exceptional. Her observation of place, biology, anthropology is all outstanding. The sweep of the tale is enormous, from the US to South Africa but mostly centring on a small Congolese village. It takes you from post war Georgia to the Reagan presidency. It puts you inside the heads of grown ups and of children, of whites and blacks, of mighty and humble, of Christian and heathen, even recounts the narrative from the point of view of an Okapi at one point. It is a joy and I was sad to have finished it.

Similarly with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I gather this has just been made into a film with lovely and very talented Viggo Mortensen as The Man. Partner insisted it was excellent but I thought it just looked too bleak. He gave it to all his friends and family for Christmas, which seemed like an odd choice. Those who read it loved it though and so I finally cracked the spine. It was describing a bleak world but it’s not a bleak book. There’s a strong narrative despite the limitations and the vivid conjuring of the inner lives of the two protagonists and the (sometimes horrific) events that unfold around them makes this one of the best books I’ve ever read. Can’t see how the forthcoming film is going to match it in any but the most desultory way. It’s such an intelligent book and tells you so little by way of explanation of anything. It leaves you to figure out which is or might be happening and why. I think a Hollywood film will feel obliged to explain too much.

One last happy literary find from over the Summer. Dirty White Boy by Clayton Littlewood is a series of blog posts gathered into a touching little book. Dirty White Boy is a shop that Clayton and his partner ran for a short time on one corner of Old Compton Street. If you know Compton St, you’ll recognise so much of what he describes of the life he sees through his big plate glad corner window while jotting his musings in a notebook under the shop counter. It’s Queer Street now, awash with gay bars, cafes, shops, but there’s still lots more going on in the neighbourhood than the noisy bars spilling their pink punters onto the pavements. And there always has been that mix, to judge from the history Littlewood serves up, gulled from his encounters with so many local characters. Its blogging origins mean it’s composed of several short chunks, so it’s a perfect book for someone like me who has trouble devoting long periods to reading. I tend to want to read a short bursts these days, my concentration span shrunk by my excessive laptop use. When I saw that it had been made into a piece of theatre, performed at the Soho Theatre recently, I wondered how that would have been structured, but there are some robust threads running through it upon which one could hang a drama.

Hmmm, I seem to have written a lot, without much effort. All it took was a free half an hour. Maybe there will be more. Maybe not. Who can say?

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