Monday, 26 October 2009

My next read.

I'm not going to mention in my blogs every single book I read - anyway, my rate has been around 70-80 books per year for at least the last decade. But I'm currently with Joseph Heller's 'Closing Time' (1994) which is basically some of the characters from 'Catch 22' some 30 years on. I've read C.22 at least five times to date - you might guess correctly that I'm a fan. The film wasn't that bad either, though of course, translating a brilliant book into another medium is very nearly every time a flawed achievement, if it is indeed a success at all. But for me, now halfway through 'Closing Time', this doesn't have the easy flow of the earlier work with all its outrageousness. The effort involved in producing it is almost readable between the lines. But one can hardly blame Heller for not being as youthful as he once was! Nevertheless I shall proceed and try to prevent my mind from wandering too much. I've read others of Heller too - 'Good as Gold' being one of them but I've yet to read anything from that period as joyously anarchic as 'Catch 22.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Augusten Burroughs - my verdict after reading one book.

'Running with Scissors' - hugely entertaining. Can't remember the last time I found a book so amusing. Many laughs. Highly recommended. My next read of this author when I get round to it - 'Possible Side Effects'. Hope it's even half as good. (Thanks particularly to you, Wonderboy, for mentioning A.B.)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Augusten Burroughs

I never even knew the name until Wonderboy (aka Idle Eyes and a Dormy) mentioned him a few weeks ago on his blog. Surprised that the name had been unfamiliar to me as I'm a positive glutton for books. However, feeling I was missing out on something worthwhile, I ordered two of his works over the Internet - 'Running with Scissors' and 'Possible Side Effects'. As the first was out of print here I had to wait a while before they eventually did send both books. They arrived three days ago. I'm already a third of the way through 'Scissors' and must say I do find it quite a hoot! I was a bit afraid that it might be 'too American' for a Brit, in that such readers as I would miss a significant number of the American cultural references - e.g. one of the puffs on the cover calls it 'The Brady Bunch on Viagra'. I've never ever seen 'The Brady Bunch', though, of course, I'm familiar with the name. I dare say that I am indeed missing the contexts of some of his remarks but even so I've already laughed out loud several times. And though it's such densely packed writing it's an undemanding read. So, going well. I'm only hoping it doesn't falter - but there's no sign of that so far. Grateful thanks to Wonderboy for bringing the writer to my attention.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Reds are STILL baleful.

Two blogs ago I wrote of buying sweatshirts including, and daringly for me, a burgundy one. I probably haven't worn a shade of red in a main garment since as long ago as my teens when I starting observing that whenever I did so things rapidly went awry. So, thinking that I'm just being silly about it all, (how absurd to think that a mere colour can have such a negative effect!) today for the first time I put on this reddish sweatshirt - and, boy, I wish I hadn't! What an exasperating and maddening six hours I've just spent - all trying to get a replacement TV remote control. Things went so wrong. I've now divested myself of the 'culprit' shirt - but, alas, too late to avoid now being up to 2 weeks without TV. Too complicated to relate the full story (and boring for readers) but after no less than three back-and-forths between my flat and the TV dealers I'm now left with no remote at all and with the TV set locked into child-safety-lock mode - which can only be got out of by using - yes, a remote control!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Being the news-junkie that I am, seeing the news as well as listening to it is absolutely essential. Of course the temporary solution is that I'll just have to use the computer as a substitute until I get a remote again - but a computer is far more fiddly to set up, tune into, and less comfortable to watch, but I'll just have to grin and bear it. But one thing is clear - no more reds!

Friday, 9 October 2009

An odd and very scary fantasy situation.

I've always suffered from a certain degree of vertigo, though not so acute as to be disabling. A few nights ago I had this thought during the 'twilight' period in bed just before one actually drops off into sleep - and it's been haunting me ever since.
A thin pillar-like structure rises so high that it dwarfs all surrounding buildings, even nearby skyscrapers. At the very top there is a tiny platform about 2-foot square. I am standing on it. There are no barriers. I am unsupported and unharnessed. (In the irrationality of dream-like situations, there is no indication of how I came to be up there.) I'm frozen in fear, yet fighting the overwhelming desire to throw myself off because of the feeling that it's just not right that there should be this huge distance from myself and the ground - and I'm actually conscious of a 'moral obligation' to close the gap. I daren't even sit down with my legs dangling over the edge as, apart from falling off myself, I'm afraid one of my shoes would come off and drop down into the immeasurable depths! Meantime as I stand paralysed into inaction this desire to eject myself manifests as an infuriating itching, specifically at the base of the spine and also between balls and bum-hole. Heart is thudding like a Zulu drum. How long can I hold out? I can foresee the acute relief that I would feel the moment I stepped off. The thought of the bliss of being released from this tension is overpowering. The open-endedness of the situation precludes any conclusion. Even now I'm still up there.
I'm wondering if there are others who can identify with my feelings and share the same fear of ever being in this, frankly impossible, situation - which in the stillness of night almost brings me out in a cold sweat.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Reflecting colours.

In a couple of weeks I hit twenty-one, yet again (for the third time, actually!) and I've been musing how, as one ages, the options of colours in what one wears become seriously restricted. Of course some might say "Just wear what you want!" but when I see mature, very mature (or even post-mature!) guys trying to carry off an image that is so inappropriate it looks not just glaringly conspicuous but plain silly too. The subject has come to the fore because last week I received the three 'Fruit-of-the-Loom' sweat shirts which I'd ordered over the Internet. Although they were the colours I'd asked for after seeing them on-screen, when I had them actually in front of me, those in Royal Blue and Emerald Green looked so garish, almost like neon lights, I simply wouldn't wear them outside, so they'll have to be relegated to under-the-jacket wear. Odd that that even though all my life I've eschewed wearing reds (laugh if you will, but reds clash with my 'aura' and always make me feel nervy and jumpy - blues, greens and browns are my 'comfy colours') for the third sweatshirt I thought of being a little adventurous and opted for a burgundy - and this one turns out to be the only one of the three I'd feel happy for people to see me wearing.
It's a long, long time since I gave up wearing jeans in white or light blue - they just look so wrong on older men, even moreso on those with a substantial waistline. (Why don't people tell them?). I think - and I've absolutely no expertise in fashion - men of my relatively advanced age are always safe with blacks, most browns (though avoiding light beiges which can add still further years onto one. Too near white, I suppose) and dark, maybe also medium, blues. But bright reds and yellows are two big no-nos. Even when I was as young as 30ish I once bought an orange T-shirt, but on getting it home soon realised that even then I was too old to get away with wearing such a day-glo colour so I gave it to one of my teenage nephews. (Maybe middle-aged and older men should only wear orange if it's part of high-visibility safety workwear!)
Perhaps in other societies there'd be less looking askance at men wearing flamboyant colours in everyday dress, but as it is I don't much fancy standing out in a crowd - unless I was in somewhere like Hawaii, of course, where a man wearing sober colours might be the conspicuous one.