Saturday, March 10, 2007

On My Way Home

"I've always been fascinated with the place where the horizon meets the sea," said Miss Sally.

I'm back tomorrow. That's weird to write because I haven't actually left yet. I'll have loads to tell you about the wonders of Mull and the amazing adventures we had there.

This writing in advance malarky has been very strange as I haven't had the time to let the inspirations appear and then record them, as I usually would, so sometimes the whole thing has felt a little bit forced, but as long as you haven't noticed, I won't tell you.

I saw Heather before I left and she asked me about the blog.

"So there won't be any blog while you're gone?" she asked and I explained that I'd written the posts in advance and my gorgeous mother was going to post them for me.

We then had this conversation about how when I don't write the blog or I miss a post for some reason or another, I feel really guilty and someone in the course of the Missing Blog Day will always mention it.

"It has become part of my daily routine," H acknowledged.

"See? So when it's not there, people mention it....." I interrupted.

"No! No!" she explained, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I was just going to say that I don't always get time to look at all the links you post each day, so if I go to the blog and there's no new post, I start going though all the links. Otherwise, I'd miss them."

This is why I love my friends, many of whom are also my family. You know who you are, and you know how to make me see the beauty even in my mistakes.

See you soon. I don't have to have left yet to know that I've missed you.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The one with the clips

Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran are set to star in a new film called Run Fat Boy Run directed by David Schwimmer and there's a nice trailer on YouTube. Join me, join me in my obsession with all things Pegg.....

Actually I fancy Dylan Moran as well.

And to prove it, here's a clip from the brilliant Black Books (I've got a boxed set if anyone wants to borrow) the Chief sent me last week, which contains a very useful guide on how to deal with those jawbreakingly crushing rejection slips.

And for those of you who might have missed it (Lou! I mean you!!) here's Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on Something for the Weekend. Suit you.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

From mystery to happiness

Dust and the Helix Nebula, (or as I like to think of it, The Eye of the Universe)
from NASA's Image of the Day

There is no mystery to happiness.

Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wish denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put out by scorn - or worse, indifference - cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shorud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn't look ahead. He lives in the present.

But there's the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning - the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life - a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them.

From The Interpretation of Murder, by Jake Rubenfield.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

...the books, the arts, the academes that show, contain and nourish all the world...

Prometheus Carrying Fire, by Jan Cossiers

I fell in love (ptp) with Biron's speech from Love's Labour's Lost (3 L's, 2 apostrophe's) when I first saw Kenneth Branagh's musical adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Although, when I watch it now, Branagh seems to slaughter it somewhat with over-sincerity (is there such a thing, and can I believe, if there were, a man capable of it?), I must confess it was he who made me love the speech in the first place.

Perhaps this merely reflects how one's tastes can change.

This speech also sparked my interest in Prometheus himself, who you can find out more about here. He's the god who (amongst other things) brought humans fire against the wishes of Zeus. He was severely punished for it by being tied to a rock for eternity. In addition to this, his liver was picked out by a bird over the course of each day (leading many to suppose that the Greeks knew of the liver's ability to regenerate). Overnight, he would heal, and the following (groundhog, but worse) day it would all happen again.

Those gods really knew how to punish. None of this sentenced to life and out again in five years malarky.

As I plan to be rustically courting (and make of that what you will) a rugged islander at this very moment, I thought this speech might bring me extra luck. How can you say I'm not a romantic? Just because I prefer my romance in the form of mutual blood-letting does not make it less authentic.

Biron: But love, first learned in a lady's eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain;
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopp'd:
Love's feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockl'd snails;
Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:
For valour, is not Love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair:
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs;
O, then his lines would ravish savage ears
And plant in tyrants mild humility.
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world:
Else none at all in ought proves excellent.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sounds for tired eyes

I recently discovered two great things if: one, you're a reader and two, you're prone to being so lazy that although you want some literary enlightenment, you can't be bothered to actually read.

The first discovery was Project Gutenberg, an online audio book resource that allows you to listen to books online. There are a range of classics here from each genre, and the Top 100 gives you a glimpse into what others are reading/listening to.

There's something about listening to a book being read aloud that is a very different experience to reading. It allows my mind to drift in a way that I do not normally associate with reading, and leaves the final experience somewhere between reading and television - except in the case of the latter my brain is supplying the picture.

It was at PG that I made my second discovery: the Ernest Brahmer Max Carrados detective stories. Some of you may have guessed that crime and detective fiction are a personal passion of mine, and one of my greatest ambitions is to write in the genre myself one day. Brahmer's blind detective Max Carrados is written in the style of Conan Doyle's Holmes, and in the story I listened to, Max's old schoolfriend Carlisle plays the part of the blundering Watson. Recommended.

As well as audiobooks, the site has a gazillion e-books that can be downloaded for free. The top 100 makes interesting reading in itself. Number 1 on the list when I visited was The Kama Sutra, at 4 was the Manual of Surgery (scary much) and I was glad to see Jane Austen's P&P at 6.
I'm not sure that ebooks are ready to go as universal as mp3 players yet, but I can recommend this site for the audio books alone. Yes, I am obviously turning into a pensioner.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The One With All the Quotes

Truth, by Gianlorenzo Bernini
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Courtesy of Artchive


I would love to be in the office today for Miss Sally's birthday, and I know that I will be preparing a special toast to ensure that one corner of a remote Scottish island remains, forever, Miss Sally.

Have a fantastic day, Sally, you are one special slice of fabulousness.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

She had an unequalled gift... of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities.
Henry James
(now he's talking about a girl I can relate to)

Strength, courage and power do not exclude kindness, understanding and consideration. You can be strong and kind; you can be courageous and understanding; you can be powerful and considerate.
Linda R. Dominguez

I have
Immortal longings in me.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.
Martin Luther King Jnr

Truth is the daughter of time.
Aulus Gellius

Sunday, March 4, 2007

And now for something completely different

Something light. Yes, thank you, I do remember light.

Here are the Chinese Boys, back with Jessica Simpson's Public Affair. I can honestly say that I have never found Simpson so entertaining.

I don't know what it is about these two guys that make me laugh so much, and I know it's a not a taste shared by everyone, so thanks for bearing with me.

I've just started a book called 'Are Men Necessary?' by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Maureen Dowd - don't worry, fellas, if you can't wait until I've read it to find out, there's a copy in the library. I think it's fairly self evident why I chose to buy this book. I can honestly say that for once the title won me. It's generating a fair amount of criticism and controversy, so I can't wait.

Before you accuse me of mindless sexism (which is so unfair, I've been developing this level of sexism over a period of decades and it was long, hard work, thanks very much), the subtitle of the book is 'When Sexes Collide' - and she doesn't mean in a good way - so we're all under scrutiny. While it is too early to tell if I will agree with the author's analysis, I firmly like her style of writing already and hope that I can pick up a few tips for the doubtless forthcoming days as a columnist somewhere in my future.

Here's a brief excerpt, courtesy of a preview by Dowd in the NY Times. If you enjoy the excerpt, check out the rest of the article.
My mom gave me three essential books on the subject of men. The first, when I was 13, was "On Becoming a Woman." The second, when I was 21, was "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger." The third, when I was 25, was "How to Catch and Hold a Man," by Yvonne Antelle. ("Keep thinking of yourself as a soft, mysterious cat.. . .Men are fascinated by bright, shiny objects, by lots of curls, lots of hair on the head . . . by bows, ribbons, ruffles and bright colors.. . .Sarcasm is dangerous. Avoid it altogether.")

Because I received "How to Catch and Hold a Man" at a time when we were entering the Age of Equality, I put it aside as an anachronism. After all, sometime in the 1960's flirting went out of fashion, as did ironing boards, makeup and the idea that men needed to be "trapped" or "landed." The way to approach men, we reasoned, was forthrightly and without games, artifice or frills. Unfortunately, history has shown this to be a misguided notion.

I knew it even before the 1995 publication of "The Rules," a dating bible that encouraged women to return to prefeminist mind games by playing hard to get. ("Don't stay on the phone for more than 10 minutes.. . .Even if you are the head of your own company. . .when you're with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile.. . .Wear black sheer pantyhose and hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex!")

I knew this before fashion magazines became crowded with crinolines, bows, ruffles, leopard-skin scarves, 50's party dresses and other sartorial equivalents of flirting and with articles like "The Return of Hard to Get." ("I think it behooves us to stop offering each other these pearls of feminism, to stop saying, 'So, why don't you call him?"' a writer lectured in Mademoiselle. "Some men must have the thrill of the chase.")

I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of "How to Catch and Hold a Man."