Friday, 1 January 2010

Mopping up 2009's highs and lows of films, books and pop music.

Films most enjoyed (i.e. felt they were worth the money) out of 84 cinema visits, in order of viewing:-
Revolutionary Road
Bronson
Religulous
Inglourious Basterds
Broken Embraces
Julie & Julia
Away We Go
Bright Star
Paranormal Activities
Me and Orson Welles

Film least liked - 'The Boat That Rocked' (not even redeeemed by the presence of the ever-watchable Philip Seymour Hoffman.)



Book that most impressed - out of 60 books read (excluding 20 re-reads)
Khalid Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' - heartbreaking, shattering and mind-opening.

Book finally got round to reading - and liked a lot:-
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's 'Heat and Dust'.

Book found most entertaining-
Augusten Burrough's 'Running with Scissors' - thanks to Breenlantern for mentioning this author whom I hadn't known till then.

Book I expected to enjoy but didn't especially - (what was all the fuss about?)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Book not expected to have liked, but did (well, quite) :-
Michael Crichton's - Prey.



Biggest pop-music revelation for me:-
Can't think of one for 2009 (not even Lady Ga Ga!) - maybe should accept I'm just getting too old.

Biggest pop-music disappointment:-
Mika's follow-up album after the sensationally good 'Life in Cartoon Motion', awash with 'tunes' from heaven.

What I'd most like to hear in 2010:-

'Scissor Sisters' delivering something as punchily brilliant as their first eponymous album, though 'Ta-DAH' is very nearly as good too. (Okay, okay - so what if I do have the hots for Babydaddy?)

Madonna renouncing wearing animal fur (It's become an unwelcome spectre at the feast whenever I hear her songs, even from yonks ago, and I've just got to have a regular dose of Madge.)

Susan Boyle coming out as lesbian - or, if not, at least getting a sensitive and sensible manager who will guide and care for her properly and with discretion.



So, there it is for last year. What will the the start of the new decade bring? One wonders and hopes, doesn't one?
......and an especially happy NY to anyone reading this.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

An Englishman in New York

Was looking forward to watching this last night, having recorded it from a couple of days ago. (John Hurt reprising his playing of Quentin Crisp.) Unfortunately I'd only just read Peter Tatchell's article denouncing Crisp, quoting several truly appalling sayings which could have come from the most rabid homophobe, so this detracted from any enjoyment I might otherwise have experienced. (Can't imagine how these odious pronouncements had passed me by - although must admit I haven't been active on the gay scene for a couple of decades now. The kindest interpretation I can put on what he said was that it was down to the ramblings of his then advancing senility.) John Hurt gave, as expected, an astonishing performance, but the only controversial issue that the programme dealt with in any depth was Crisp's dismissal of AIDS as a 'fad'. Anyway, when I first saw 'The Naked Civil Servant' way back in the mid-1970s it made a deep impression on me, and gave me much-needed renewed confidence in my having 'come out' just a couple of years before, belatedly, in my late 2os. Maybe 'Englishman' is worth a watch, especially if one is ignorant of his remarks as reported, as I had been. But even if one still doesn't know of them, I've spoilt it now, haven't I? .......Sorry!!!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Went Christmas Day well? On the whole, not too bad.

Woken up at 4.15 a.m. with the Stones' 'Street Fighting Man' being blasted out from flat below. Hopeless to try sleeping further. Letting Blackso out, seeing light from under neighbour's door, tried to be extra quiet to avoid him coming out - but failed. His door opened - "Merry Christmas, Ray!" a seasonal greeting from alcohol-fuelled beaming red face (Stones still playing in background - Wait, did I just say background?). Muttered reciprocated wishes , not at all heartfelt. (Did he notice? Probably not.) Returned upstairs to watch news channel report of attack on Pope. Female member of congregation interviewed after midnight mass at London's Westminster Cathedral - "How can anyone do that to such a lovely man?" (I offer no comment as to the adjective employed!) As it was quiet downstairs by now, to enter Christmas spirit put on a section of vintage recording of 'Messiah' (Klemperer - ponderous interpretation but still fascinating) - but not too loud as didn't want to disturb neighbours! At 7.30 back to bed to recover some sleep. Just drifted off when phone rang -my sister to wish me. (Bless her. She wasn't to know.) I can never return immediately to sleep after being unexpectedly awoken, so remained out of bed once more. Read a bit more 'Gone With the Wind' - still every bit as splendid as ever on this, what must be a 5th read. Watched the Orson Welles film of 'Macbeth', recorded few days ago - so dark, both literally and moodily, but also quite funny in parts. Bed again - success this time! One-plus hours catch-up achieved. Christmas dinnertime - egg, chips and beans (as stated in previous post) all of which went down beautifully. Satisfyingly replete, sat down to watch 2008 film of 'La Boheme'. Two hours uninterrupted bliss - with Blackso on my lap entire time. Then played around on computer, catching up on emails, blogs, news stories, some porn sites etc. Watched first hour of old extended interview with, again, Orson Welles. (Part of BBC 'Orson Welles Season') But even 10 o'clock is getting late for me these days........ so to bed.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

My Christmas Dinner - decision made!

I'd thought I'd decided to have beans on toast with maybe a few sprouts on the side. But now I've hit on something even tastier! I shall indulge in a cholesterol-busting three - no, dammit, FOUR fried eggs with a HUGE mound of very well twice-fried potatoes - and, in a separate bowl, those baked beans perked up with a large pinch of curry powder. And all washed down with a glass or three of port. Now doesn't that get your salivary glands working? My tummy's already rumbling. Mmmmmmmm. Roll on Friday!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

It may feel cold around your parts but I'm getting chilblains on mine.

I do so dislike the cold - and for a few days now and for at least a few days more the weather here has been nithering. I know that when I say that temperatures have been hovering only just above freezing during the day and just below at night, some may find that positively balmy - even torrid. But I just ain't used to it. Goodness knows how we grew up in a house that didn't have any heating at all. Once in a while my Dad would fix an open fire in the living room only and that is all we'd have the entire Winter through. Memories of waking up on ice-cold mornings and finding that all the water pipes had frozen so we had to wash in a metal basin filled by a kettle from the stove. In fact it wasn't until I was well into my 20s that I first experienced living with central heating. Now I couldn't survive without it. Even my cats don't like the cold - especially Blackso who sleeps under the duvet with me, warming himself with my body-heat in the crook of my arm, while I struggle to maintain some semblance of comfort for both of us. Unlike Noodles, who'll pester me to be let out in the middle of the night by coming to the bedroom and jumping on and off the bed, Blackso will snooze the entire night through. Only trouble is, he snores like a foghorn - whereas Noodles doesn't snore at all. Wish it was the other way round. Anyway, hope this cold snap is just that - temporary - and roll on Summer. (Yeah, dream on! - for another four months at the very least!)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

"Oh Gawd, Miss Scarlett. Dis gempmum's readin' 'bout us - agaaayyyn!"

Every December I like to give myself a self-indulgent treat by luxuriating and wallowing in re-reading a book which thrills me again and again. Was surprised to find that my last reading of GWTW was December 1994 - which must itself have been at least my fourth time, so there's absolutely no competition this year. Must confess that as I get older I wonder if the time I re-read a particular book or re-watch a favourite film will also be the last time. Morbid thought, yes, but that's the way it is. Anyway will embark on this wonderful biblio-journey in tandem with another work by a favourite author whom I also tend to re-read in December, but this time as I've recently bought half-a-dozen books of his which have escaped me up to now, I'm choosing Stephen King's collection of short stories (a form he's particularly good at) 'Just After Sunset'.
Can hardly wait to start them - both have to finished before the New Year (one of my little self-imposed regimes) - but first I've got some 200 pages of a P.G.Wodehouse to get through. Busy weeks ahead - but such fun!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Divine Miss M. gives mouth to a male part (or two?)

'Twas good to be watching TV a couple of evenings ago at around 7.10 when Bette M., appearing on our main BBC channel, uttered the expletive "Oh, bollocks!" at one of the presenters. Nothing gets viewers in such a tizzy as 'bad' language used before the 'watershed' of 9 p.m. When it was pointed out to her what she had said she was unrepentant - and good on her! All this idea of 'corrupting the young' really takes the biscuit. One now hears 8 and 9 year-olds using words I didn't even know existed when I was their age - and it would be another decade or more before I started using them myself - but only in moderation and only when absolutely necessary, you understand! ;-)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The latest film to 'spook' me out.

I've now seen over 4,000 films (counting only those seen in a cinema) and every once in a while one comes along that lingers in the mind for having been especially disturbing. It's now a fortnight since I saw 'Paranormal Activities' and it's been, well, 'haunting' me every time I retire to bed. Everyone has their own particular trigger point of fear and though I declare myself as agnostic-going-on-atheist and therefore really doubt an after-life, I still feel there's something going on here which we can't yet explain. Of course I know this film is complete fiction but it does bring to the surface an issue defying rationality. While not for a moment suggesting that seances are conclusive proof of an after-life - surely most of them are trickery of some sort - I do feel there's at least something niggling enough about some cases of seeing 'ghosts', experiencing poltergeists etc. to give pause for thought, though I've never had such an ancounter myself. I wish I could dismiss all these reports as fantasy but I think there's something more to it than that.
The points of this film which really got me (I'll not spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it) were not so much the more conspicuous haunting events, but when the couple were asleep in bed and suddenly the hall light is switched on. That really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And it's that in particular which I think about when I'm alone in my bed, head under duvet, trying to get off to sleep.
Another film which had a similar effect when I first saw it was 'Blair Witch' - and especially when the trio thought that they'd been walking for several miles only to discover that they'd arrived back at the very point they were at ages before. It felt like my blood was chilling at that point. Whoooo! Spooky!

Friday, 4 December 2009

SuBo from below

My neighbour-from-hell under me continues to playhis 'music' loudly for several nights a week until the wee small hours of the following day. I've had to try to live with it as there's no viable alternative - my landlord being unsympathetic (probably, after my informing him of the problem, regarding me as a trouble-maker) and the neighbours in the attached house being unaccountably silent. Anyway, it was with some surprise the other day when I heard the sounds of Susan Boyle's unmistakeable voice drifting up - quite a change from his usual taste of heavy rock and Rolling Stones. It was her recently released album, which he has now played to death. Actually I shared the general amazement a few months ago on first hearing Ms Boyle's voice and even now I still find it quite extraordinary - steady, strong and, usually, accurate. (I read on a certain celebrity gossip website that she's once again started behaving bizarrely. She's clearly very vulnerable and overwhelmed by her world-celebrity status at lightening speed and is in need of good professional care and advice.) Anyway, at 4.30 this morning I heard my neighbour going to bed after I, and presumably, all others living around here, had been hearing Ms Boyle exhorting us to 'cry (me) a river' over and over again. She almost had her wish!
Regarding the singer herself I'm slightly apprehensive about being told that she's a regular church-goer, as well as being a spinster (and, some have said, a virgin, but what does that matter if she is? Are we supposed to read between the lines? - nudge, nudge.) Anyway, I'm just ever so slightly nervous that, were it not for her occasional erratic behaviour, some Christian group would be eager to claim her as their own and use her to trumpet their 'faith' - and bigotry. I bet some are already waiting to jump. Maybe needless fears - but at least for the moment, even though I don't dislike the Stones myself, I'd rather hear her voice than that of Mr Jagger.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Isn't this a cutie?


I'm not sure how well this picture is known - it was on a card sent to me for my birthday six weeks ago ;-) by my brother and his wife. Like everyone else, they know I'm a great animal lover, and an ailurophile above all. I fail to see how anyone can not be won over by this heart-warming, winning image. Just wanted to share it with you.