Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ha ha, I am the best wife ever

I was talking to Mister Monkey on the phone the other night and he asked me what I wanted for my birthday.
"I don't really want anything," I said, "honestly, I have all the books and films and music I need."
Then yesterday I bought two new albums off the Internet, and today I was in HMV's 3 DVDs for €30 sale, and I got The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers set that has four films in it, and yes, I know it's sad, but a copy of Wimbledon also.

So I guess there was stuff I wanted after all. Ha ha.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars 2007

Or, who cares anymore?

Maybe that's not fair. I'm glad that Martin Scorsese finally got a best director Oscar, even if it's for a film I haven't seen, but I'm of the opinion that the Oscars started to matter less when

  • they stopped saying "and the winner is..." and started saying "and the Oscar goes to..."
  • all the men stopped dressing in formal wear and started looking like they were going to one of those soap opera funerals
  • I stopped recognising half the people there
  • I stopped fancying anyone there
Although my trusty People magazine feed did provide me with this great exchange between Joan Rivers and Michael Sheen, who plays Tony Blair in The Queen.

Rivers: What do you think about Tony Blair? Cause you're English
Sheen: Well, Welsh.
Rivers: I know, but Wales IS in England.
Sheen: Well, over here it is.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Got a birthday coming up?

I know I have.

What do you get for the pet owner with everything? One of these.

Don't believe the impact it can have? See it on the cover of the Portland Mercury.

Set Up, Joke, Set Up, Joke

In possibly the least catchily-titled book ever, Rob Long brings us another volume of What It's Really Like to Write for Television. Apparently what it's really like is a lot of sitting around, either worrying or thinking of stuff to write, or listening to other people's problems, or listening to network people give you notes, or trying to interpret fruit baskets that have come from the network. If you read his very funny Conversations With My Agent, you will already know what this book is about, more or less.

This time, however, it seems a little different. Everyone in his cohort is a little older and they're starting to get pushed out by younger people, even the writers. Everyone has a little less job security than they used to. The shows get lower ratings, they have less of a chance to make it before they get pulled, and everyone just seems to have a narrower window of opportunity and a greater air of desperation as a result.

It's interesting that this is his perception of things, because he is, essentially, a bit of an outsider who, if IMDB is correct, hasn't had a show on the air since 2001. So of course he would feel out of touch and wary. I'd be interested to read something from the point of view of someone who is actually working, but of course, they don't have time to write about what they're doing, they just have time to write.

Friday, February 23, 2007

30 Rock

Please. Do yourself a favour. Find it somewhere and watch it. It is the best thing on television. Really. And there isn't even anyone in it I fancy, so you know that must be a strong recommendation.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

American Buffalo

Currently running at the Gate, this is a beautifully designed and excellently acted production of a slightly bewildering David Mamet play. Slightly bewildering in that, unlike other David Mamet plays, you're kind of not really sure what exactly has happened by the end of it, but you know it's something really bad. Or maybe nothing at all has happened and you kind of imagined the whole thing like when you look at something out of the corner of your eye and it looks weird and out of place, but then when you look back it's completely normal again and nothing has changed.

The play concerns Don, played to perfection by Sean McGinley, who runs a shop that sells, you know, stuff. Bits and bobs. Whatever he can get his hands on. He just kind of opens his door and lets things collect inside on the shelves, and they do. People also collect inside on the shelves, and Don gives house room not only to Bob, the slacker idiot man-child guy, played by Domhnall Gleeson (who steals the show right out from under the other two, doing a great impersonation of a very laid-back David Thewlis) but also to Teach, the twitchy, angry, well, David Mamet character, played by Aidan Gillen. Between the three of them they plan to do a thing to or with a guy, concerning a coin. The coin may or may not have been stolen and may or may not be stolen again. There's no way to really tell. Okay, I'll confess that maybe there is some way to tell, but when you're just trying very hard not to cough and that's all you're concentrating on, it can be easy to miss things.

I remember seeing the film of this some years ago and thinking it was very boring. The play, however, is excellent. The three actors play off each other so well, and the whole thing is fast-paced and funny, as well as completely bewildering. I recommend it, if you like Mamet already. If you don't, this isn't going to help you any. But things are... what they are.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Warp Spasm! part 2

There is a bit in an episode of Friends where Ross, having stayed up all night reading Rachel's letter detailing how he is to blame for everything that went wrong in their relationship, flies into his standard "we were on a break" rage. The funny thing about this is when he says "oh, and by the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E spells YOU ARE. Y-O-U-R spells YOUR!"

If you are a warp spasm person, you understand how this feels.

Today's warp spasm is brought to you by the good people at some stupid Irish advertising agency, who currently have an ad running about how you should buy glasses if you can't see (no, really?). The ad goes like this:

JULIET: Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

ROMEO: Eh, I'm right in front of you. In fact, you're standing on my foot.

ACCENTMONKEY (not actually in the ad as such): OHMYGOD! Wherefore means why, you fucking morons, not where! Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name or, if thou wouldst not (wilt not? I can't remember), be but sworn to me, my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet. WHY! Not WHERE!

Exeunt, pursued by a bear.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You are completely surrounded by armed BASTARDS!

Life on Mars is back. Okay, it's lost a tiny bit of the shine of the first series, but it's still great.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Antony and Cleopatra

While we were in London recently, we went to the RSC's production of this, which starred Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter, two marvellous actors. As usual, it is funny to see how much of the chat in the play deals with Cleopatra's advanced years and how much she is knocking on, when Walter is in fact ten years younger than Stewart. But never mind. The play itself is quite strange. There are not many familiar lines in it, apart from the bit about age not withering her nor custom staling her infinite variety, and I'm not really sure what it's trying to say about anything, other than it's nice when your bloke loves you enough to top himself when he thinks you're dead, and it's a pity women are a bit mental (familiar Shakespeare themes, some might say). It does have the feel of a late play to it, and I believe (which means I've just looked it up) that Shakespeare wrote it just after Macbeth, which is interesting, because I was just remarking to Mister Monkey how, for all that Cleopatra comes over as a bit flighty in it, she is nevertheless supportive and does not interfere in his work at all, making her the exact opposite of Lady Macbeth, who was somewhat ambitious. Everyone in the play seems kind of tired of fighting, and the battle scenes don't have the same vim and vigour as they do in other plays. Perhaps Shakespeare was tired.

That said, it's a fun play, with plenty of "my lord, some important action has just taken place offstage!" moments, and it seems much easier to follow than other Shakespeare plays, but that could be because I actually know who most of the characters are already, and don't need the members of different factions colour-coded in order to help me out, though they were anyway. Thanks, RSC, for admitting that Shakespeare can be a bitch to follow sometimes.

Even apart from the colour-coding, this production had several of the strengths and weaknesses I have noted in RSC productions (I R CULTUR) over the years: amazing leading performances that actually manage to make Shakespearean dialogue seem almost conversational and naturalistic, combined with some slightly ropey and earnest supporting characters (including one particularly bad messenger, who got a great write-up on the billboard outside, for reasons that escape me) and a basic set. It's all about the stars. Of course, for Antony and Cleopatra, that was the case anyhow.

Friday, February 09, 2007

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

First can I say how amusing it is to me that my husband FORBADE me to buy a copy of this book in case it frightened me, and so I borrowed it from a friend, in true underground style. I have now left that copy with another friend to loan around his circle, and will buy first friend a new copy to cherish and loan out to more people. So it goes with truly classic books that don't have an enormous marketing push behind them.

So, to the book itself. Well, you're either the kind of person who reads and loves zombie books and watches zombie films, or you're not. I can't really explain the joy of having the shit scared out of me by zombies, although the friend who loaned me the book did liken it to the creepy experience you get from watching a load of old Protect and Survive films, and it is a similar feeling. It induces, in me at any rate, a genuinely thrilling and almost paralyzing fear of the dark, of walking on the beach alone, and of being in a house in the country that has a ground floor seemingly composed entirely of flimsy glass (burglars take note), such as my brother's. The result is a satisfactory period of about a week of sleepless nights, and possibly many more nightmares to come, depending on how often I think about the book.

There's a lot to think about. Max Brooks has considered almost every possible aspect of a global zombie outbreak which results in boggling figures, such as the idea of the continental U.S. playing host to some 220 million zombies, and chilling stories, such as the one about the family that flees north above the snow line only to find itself in the midst of brawling, starving families and a bleak future. The little touches are amazing. The big sweep is incredibly detailed and beautifully faithful to current political and topographical regions. And, like all the best horror or science fiction, the zombies can stand for any major threat you care to name. Eurabia, greenhouse gases, the suffocating crush of an uninsured aging population, dumbing down of society, they can stand for anything.

This is one of the most frightening, most inventive, most fun books I have ever read. Just please don't ask me to read it next to a darkened window.