Wednesday, February 23, 2005

11:Don't read the blurb on the back!

Tulip Fever is a fun historical romp by Deborah Moggach. It's a very easy read, but intelligent for all that and contains some great imagery, like a good Dutch painting.

I can't really tell you much more than that without giving away the story, so all I can really say is don't read the blurb before the book, it tells you details that you're better off not knowing before you start.

New dog, new danger

Here's Milo. He's our new foster and different to Ned in almost every way. He's a demonstrative, licky dog who doesn't really like being alone. The great thing about him, though, is that he just needs you to be in the room and he's happy. He doesn't really need you to do anything spectacular like play with him or talk to him. If you want to read a book, he'll sit on your lap and go asleep.

He's a dote. I hope he gets a good home soon. He had to come to us because the Drogheda Animal Rescue centre had to leave its current premises before the new one is finished, and they've had to farm out their animals to foster homes, like ours.

Original comments:
I'd love a dog, but Barbara won't let me
Posted by caelen on Feb. 21 2005, at 9:29 AM Delete
You have a baby , they're much better.

Except you can't leave them on their own all day when they're only a few months old. Cuh. Bloody nanny state.
Posted by on Feb. 21 2005, at 11:45 AM Delete
You need to form a support group with Eamonn & Caroline.
Posted by Simon on Feb. 21 2005, at 11:16 PM Delete

Bye bye Ned

This is Ned. He's an English setter who stayed with us this week so that we could test out a dog for a bit before deciding whether or not to get one of our own. The jury's still kind of out.

Cons of owning a dog:

It's non-stop poo which you have to clean up.
You have to be a responsible adult.
You have to take the dog for walks every day even if it's raining or cold.
It's expensive.
Dogs eat a lot.
Way more than cats.
Pros of owning a dog:

You have someone to go for a walk with you, every day.
Your dog loves you.
It's a dog, and only fools don't like dogs.
You can get two dogs and call them Louie and Louie.
So, we'll see. Fostering Ned was a very positive experience. He is a good dog who is super to walk on the beach with. He goes asleep in a corner when you're not doing anything interesting for him to poke his nose into. But he's not very affectionate and doesn't make any noise, which I think makes him kind of eerie. Still, he's off to his new home in Bristol tomorrow. I hope he'll be really happy.

Original comments:
How did the cats react to a dog?
Posted by Mark (Keiths col.) on Feb. 18 2005, at 4:32 PM Delete
Killick never came downstairs the entire time the dog was in the house. Linus kept trying to get in to the room that the dog was in and then acting all surprised to find a bloody great dog there.
Most of all, though, the cats were pissed off that our focus shifted from them to another animal. They're very happy today, everything's back to normal.
They will not be pleased tomorrow when the new dog comes.
Posted by trish on Feb. 18 2005, at 4:56 PM Delete
My mother's concerned that when we have Dizzy in a house in Dublin the entire back garden will fill with poo overnight, as a result of which we will have to surf through poo.
Posted by wwhyte on Feb. 20 2005, at 6:58 PM Delete

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

10:Lanark with licks

You see, Milo agrees with Iain Banks that this is one of the most important works of Scottish fiction ever. He points out to me that it contains elements of allegory, science fiction, kitchen sink drama, poetry, and post-modernism.

He also explains that it might be time for some chicken now.

I retort that I am less than fond of books that feature the authorial voice as a character, that the ending of the book drags, which is annoying in such a long book that you've invested so much energy in. But I agree with him that the book is funny, the character of Lanark is wonderfully painted, and that the depiction of Glasgow both in the real post-war world and the peculiar through-the-looking-glass world is breathtaking.

This is a book well worth reading. I'm also impressed that, while published in 1981, the book was germinating since at least 1958, when one of the earlier chapters was a runner-up in the Observer short story competition. Hope for us all.

Milo explains Lanark

I've almost finished Lanark: A Life in 4 Books by Alasdair Gray, and it turns out to be everything that the kids on ILB claimed. However, I am finding the last 100 pages very hard going. Luckily I have Milo to help me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Romance is never dead when the dead are up and about

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and both Keith and I are extremely broke, and anyway Ned is staying with us at the moment, so we couldn't really go out for poshy food or even successfully cook (what with big doggy snout getting into everything and wondering what treats you have in store for him (and that's just Keith! See what I did there? Do you?)) so Keith kindly offered to take the day off work and hang out here with me.

Our first romantic film was Keith's choice. Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse is, on the surface, not the kind of film you would let me watch, being as it is, full of zombies. You all know the story, or similar stories at least. Big corporation trying to breed superhuman mutated futuristic soldiers, accidentally releases virus into the water table (or something), hey presto, zombie attack. Only in Apocalypse the emphasis is more on the superhuman soldiers that the evil corporation did manage to create, namely Mila Jovovich and her (now ex-, given his zombie status) boyfriend. The dialogue is piss-poor, the story is refreshingly close to a computer game, but it's a very nicely shot film and manages to remain cheesily exciting throughout. And it's only about an hour and a half long. Much better than that tedious computer-generated thing that was out a few years ago, and all the live actors are so pretty and plastic that they kind of look computer-generated anyway, so everyone's a winner.

Original comments:
Not as good as the first which is more claustrophobic but definitely good crack. Am I the only person who thought that the Final Fantasy film wasn't utter crap?
Posted by watchdog on Feb. 15 2005, at 11:17 AM Delete
I think Andrew liked it as well, but he might have been too scared to say so because I was sitting beside him, hating every minute of it.
Posted by trish on Feb. 15 2005, at 11:21 AM Delete
I tried to appreciate it on several levels throughout the film, but in fact it was and is pants.

RE2 is great fun. Proposition: there is absolutely no way back to the great seventies paranoid thrillers, because it's the default these days that all companies, governments etc are crooked.
Posted by Andrew on Mar. 1 2005, at 11:30 AM Delete

New swears, please!

Either Americans really do think it's cute when attractive, well-spoken English men say "shit" and "bugger", or English film-makers just think they do, because here's Paul Bettany doing it all the way through Wimbledon. And looking fine in Fred Perry tennis whites to boot.

There's not a lot to say about this film. It's not that funny. It's not that well written. Apart from the carefully orchestrated rain that stops some crucial play, it takes place in that Working Title England where all parents are irascible old sweeties, England in summer is always sunny and warm enough for wearing floaty dresses, and international tennis stars in the middle of the most important tournament of their lives think nothing of motoring down to Brighton for the day. But it is quite sweet and it has a whole rake of immensely likeable actors in it, and Paul Bettany looking very nice in his tennis whites. Wait, I already said that.

He does really look very nice in his tennis whites, though.

Not confusing enough for you? How about if I shake the camera about some more? Confused now?

Some years ago I watched a film with someone who not only could not tell the difference between Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood, he or she couldn't tell the difference between Clint Eastwood in the daytime and Clint Eastwood at night. For the benefit of such people are Merchant Ivory films made. The Bourne Supremacy is not for those people. Not because the story is particularly confusing, because it's not, but because the actors all kind of look the same (with the exception of Brian Cox) and the camera work is that fuzzy, hand held, jiggle-it-about kind of camera work that, combined with fast editing, means you cannot follow a single thing and if you fall asleep for a few minutes in the middle of the film, as I did, you wake up not even knowing who is being chased around Moscow.

That said, I like the sensibility of the Bourne films. They take place in old Cold War locations like Moscow and Berlin, they are not hugely flashy and don't involve colossally elaborate stunts and setups. They don't involve one-liners and wisecracks and a lot of extraneous crap. You piss Jason Bourne off, Jason Bourne hunts you down and kills you. What could be simpler? If everyone wasn't wearing black and they could have kept the camera in one place for just a few minutes, I would have really liked this film.

The woman in the video shop told us it had a great car chase too. Normally I eschew car chases, finding them dull and screechy, but she was right. It is a great car chase.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

And one I won't be finishing

I don't know if it's because I just finished the Mary Renault, with her straight ahead, no messing around, let's get the story told, Billy Wilder-style prose, or if this book is actually a colossal load of crap, but The Great Fire and I did not get off to a great start. As Keith says, just as punk was supposed to have killed off prog rock, so Hemingway was supposed to have nailed (ha ha) this kind of Virginia Woolf flowery crap.

So, unless someone can tell me that it all gets better and I really was just suffering some brief psychosis, I don't think I'll be finding out just what's so great about this fire. Thanks all the same.

Original comments:
Everyone who's finished it loved it, apparently. I read the first page and then left it by the window and it got rained on and now the pages are crinkly and unpleasant to turn.
Posted by wwhyte on Feb. 09 2005, at 10:03 PM Delete
'Virginia Wolf flowery crap'?! Patricia, I'm very disappointed in you. The Great One would never have let such sloppy language linger on the page. you are not fit to lick her patent leather button boots. Which are probably cracked and peeling now after that little soaking.
Posted by Lorraine on Feb. 11 2005, at 10:24 AM Delete
Woolf, I meant.
Posted by Lorraine on Feb. 11 2005, at 10:26 AM Delete
Maybe I was just tired. But until someone can come up with a compelling reason to read this book, I ain't bothering.
Posted by on Feb. 15 2005, at 10:54 AM Delete

9: Better than Colin Farrell

The last book of Mary Renault's Alexandriad, Funeral Games tells the story of the struggle for power that took place after Alexander's death. It is a testament to Renault's power as a storyteller that she manages to keep all strands of the story interesting, clear, and personal to the reader. The main lesson to be taken from this book (and indeed, from all three of the these excellent books), is don't fuck with Alexander's mother.

These books have a great reputation for being scrupulously researched, so if you want to know stuff about Alexander and you don't want to sit through three hours of an Oliver Stone film, this could be your answer.