One of the things I find most annoying about some people on Facebook is the way they create fake drama to attract sympathetic or encouraging comments from their friends and acquaintances. Things like "I've been wanting to write this status all day but due to some people felt intimidated". Or a vague statement like "People I call friends may pull me down but they can go to hell because I will just keep getting up" - cue all the comments about that person being strong and how they love that person. And of course those comments will require individual "Love you so much" responses. There's so much love doing the rounds on Facebook, it's just amazing that it hasn't won the Nobel Peace Prize yet!
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Ok, there's a chance that I might regret saying this... but for goodness' sake, where's the cold weather? It's nearly November, it should be cold - not necessarily rainy, but cold! Instead, it's a wishy-washy 12-14 degrees Celsius, which to my mind is summer temperatures, not in the least suitable for autumn-turning-to-winter!
That said, sometimes it does get rather nippy, necessitating my heavy winter coat. But the very next day could be incredibly mild - like today was 15 degrees and sunny. What annoys me most of all is that I never seem to wear the right coat, and that is because the weather is so changeable. I want winter temperatures so that I can put away all the other coats and just wear my new, heavy, superwarm winter coat.
Is there such a thing as a snow dance? I would do a snow dance in a heartbeat!
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Can anyone explain why it is attractive for women's thighs to be the same stick-like width as their calves? And why are there so many disturbed people who DO find starvation chic so fashionable and sexy?
Thursday, August 25, 2016
I read a Guardian article recently where this guy took up the challenge of going 21 days without complaining about anything - not world events, not the weather, absolutely nothing. I don't know what it gained him, because he didn't venture on an actual opinion. Guardian lifestyle writers are always self-deprecating from the start because that's how they do humour, and even if they're meant to be carrying out a "social experiment", they always, always end it ambiguously, leaving you wondering if there was any actual point to the article. Me being me, my wondering is always augmented by (probably disproportionate) irritation. What can I say, age doesn't seem to engender saintly patience in me. My point - yes, I have one, to mine own satisfaction! - being that there is no way that I would take up a challenge like that. Cynicism and bitching are the only plus points I see in getting older, so I won't be giving them up in a hurry, or ever.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
I don't remember if misleading headlines were quite such a part of mainstream newspapers when I was I worked as a sub-editor. Today Facebook highlighted a post from the Guardian which said that Usain Bolt might be stripped of an Olympic gold medal. This was so shocking that I went straight to the Guardian website to see if it was a real news item (simply because I like the Bolt, dammit, and I did not want this to be real, and I was hoping to NOT find anything in the Guardian!). But there it was, the news item.
However... it turned out, on reading past the headline, that the gold medal in question was the one from the 400m relay in the Beijing Olympics, not the current one. On reading a little further still, it turned out that someone in the Bolt's team had failed a drugs test, not the Bolt himself. And if that person was stripped of his gold medal, then it followed that the entire team would forfeit their gold medals too - and that was the only way Usain would have been "stripped" of any of his gold medals in any Olympics so far. Yet the Guardian - supposedly a mainstream broadsheet and not merely a shamelessly unethical tabloid - made it seem like Usain Bolt had failed a drugs test personally!
I LOATHE being taken in by lying bastard headlines approved by some faceless little worm who is obviously a poor excuse for an editor and has never heard of journalistic ethics. Yes, I understand the concept of clickbait, and I normally stay away from shit like that especially if it's from the Sun or the Daily Mail or other unethical tabloid but - like I said - this was about Usain Bolt, people!
I can only say that The Guardian is pretty much the UK's Times of India.
Friday, August 05, 2016
The number of women (and men too, I'm sure, although I've mostly seen only women) who give their babies, toddlers and young 'uns fruit juice or cola or soda to drink when they're thirsty is quite, quite amazing. Why they don't just carry bottles of water for them beats me. It's cheap, it's good for you, it's easily available and safe to drink straight from the tap in this country... so, what's wrong with drinking water that's just - you know, water? Not flavoured, sugared, coloured, fizzy or any other variation. I can't help feeling that these people are simply, unnecessarily setting up their children to have lifelong bad habits when it comes to hydration.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
I had an epiphany while watching or doing something, and I thought I should share it with my blog. I should have shared it the moment the thought crossed my mind. Because, alas, now I can't remember what the epiphany was about and what I wanted to say *sigh* Them's the breaks as you get older, my friends. Watch me and be warned.
Sunday, April 03, 2016
Saturday, April 02, 2016
I might just be stupid, but the title "Widows and Orphans" didn't seem to me to be at all related to the story. That said, this book by Michael Arditti is very readable, a gentle but accurately observed microcosmic (microcosmal?) portrait of a greedy modern society.
The book is set in the fictional seaside town of Francombe, once a thriving community but now almost derelict, a nothing town. Duncan Neville is the editor-proprietor of the town's newspaper; he is a good, decent man who is in the unenviable position of trying to run an increasingly irrelevant newspaper on a shoestring budget while trying to expose the machinations of local politicians and businessmen. Geoffrey Weedon, an oily and wily developer, is the worst of the lot and Duncan's arch-enemy, so to speak. Duncan suspects Weedon of destroying the town's historic pier through arson so that he can set up X-rated parlours and clubs, ostensibly to shore up the town's sagging economy. Duncan's efforts to stop this seem particularly useless set against Weedon, who is a smarmy silver-tongued operator who is very good at getting people on his side.
Things are not rosy in Duncan's private life either. His ex-wife has remarried and his son Jamie is a loathsome little teenage brat - seriously, for most of the book there just isn't anything redeeming about him - his language and attitude towards Duncan are nothing short of shocking. Duncan, however, hurt though he is by Jamie's cruel words and attitude, is not the sort of man who would tell off his son harshly. He is a man who is ruled by his conscience, sensitive to other people's feelings and able to see things from another's point of view. He sees understanding of the flaws in others and is able to look past them, and he is honest in acknowledging his own.
Events build up, however, culminating in Duncan being accused of possessing child pornography - but it is a set-up, and when he finds out who the culprit is, what Duncan feels is not anger for the damage to his reputation; what he feels is grief that someone so young could be so full of hatred towards him.
This book is certainly not what you would call a fast paced thriller, but it is not short of melodrama either. Human emotions are given free range - love, dislike, hatred, intolerance, violence... they're all there, The author's writing draws you into the story and makes his characters very real. Michael Arditti certainly managed to make me feel intensely sympathetic towards Duncan and his predicament. I don't think I've come across a character so likable since - dare I say it - Atticus Finch. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad, but when you're shouting (in your mind) at obnoxious Jamie to tone down his nastiness towards his dad because he doesn't deserve this behaviour, the author is obviously doing something right for his unlikely protagonist! I would definitely recommend this book as a good read. #100bookpact
Sunday, March 27, 2016
14/100 My husband bought me The Revenant, by Michael Punke, because I didn't really want to see the movie. And after reading this book, I still don't. If that sounds like I didn't like the book, I'm afraid you've been misled, because it was one hell of a story. Man gets severely mauled by grizzly, his companions leave him behind to die, man refuses to oblige - and the rest of the story is about how he overcomes fearsome odds to survive and track down the two men who abandoned him. You'd expect this to end in sweet revenge, and I admit I was rooting for Hugh Glass all the way, but things don't end like they should - in the words of one of the characters: "Lots of loose ends don't ever get tied up. Play the hand you're dealt. Move on." Good advice, true words. The fact that Hugh Glass was a real person, and this book is based on true events is, for me, the icing on the cake.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
I think may have been reading too many books on my Kindle in the last few weeks. You ask why? Because I was reading a real paperback yesterday when I tried to turn the page by tapping it and was left puzzled for a fleeting moment when the page remained very much the same. I'm going to read real books until the urge to tap pages goes away.
I picked up George R R Martin's "Fevre Dream" out of curiosity, just to see what sort of book it was, whether he could hold my interest aside from "Game of Thrones". Somewhat to my initial disappointment, it turned out to be a vampire novel, but luckily it was not a run-of-the-mill story. The year is 1857, the place is St-Louis. Abner Marsh, a riverboat captain on the Mississippi, is offered a partnership by a mysterious aristocrat, and the chance to turn his luck for the better by building the best and fastest steamboat to run the great river. Abner is a bit doubtful about the deal, because the stranger, Joshua York, has some very odd conditions to make - mainly that Abner should never, ever question what Joshua does, no matter how odd or bizarre. The lure of gold and the opportunity to captain the best steamboat overcome Abner's doubts. He names the boat "Fevre Dream".
The maiden voyage of the Fevre Dream does not turn out like Abner ever dreamt of even in his chequered career which has seen plenty of violence and bloodshed. What I liked very much about this book was the period setting, with the Civil War, slavery and other historical events woven in with great skill and to excellent effect without taking away from the story itself. You'll have to take my word for it that this is a vampire horror novel unlike any other I've come across. There are vampires and then there are vampires...and both kinds are to be found here. Be warned, you'll come across the "N-word" a few times here, used in the interests of authenticity in language and the mores of those days - those were not PC times, after all. #100bookpact
Sunday, March 20, 2016
This is a repeat author - Charles Belfoure, who wrote "The Paris Architect" that I liked so much. The book I finished today was "House of Thieves". As with the previous book I wrote about, the main character is an architect, but the story is set in New York of the late 1880s (well allright, 1886, to be precise). The architect is John Cross, who belongs to the rich and privileged section of society.
All seems well in his life, until his son George racks up a huge debt because of his uncontrolled - and uncontrollable - gambling addiction. The notorious gang to whom George owes the money is Kent's Gents. Kent meets John Cross and tells him that if he doesn't help pay off his son's debt (by helping Kent's Gents to rob the mansions of the rich), his son would die. Not having any choice, he starts helping the gang and, quite quickly, due to his connections in high society and the fact that he can get the building plans for the mansions, he becomes invaluable to Kent in planning and executing the robberies.
Meanwhile, his daughter Julia, an aspiring Dickensian-style novelist, gets friendly with a handsome pickpocket and starts to explore the seamy underbelly of New York. Even his youngest son, 10-year-old Charlie, acquires a secret life in low society, making friends with an older newsboy who saves him from being robbed by a couple of young street thugs. All this takes place without his knowledge.
Then John Cross is forced to confess his involvement with Kent's Gents to his wife, Helen, a beautiful society butterfly. Oddly enough, this confession results in a new lease of life for their marriage, because Helen, to his surprise, enthusiastically helps him by getting him information on which of their wealthy friends and acquaintances to rob next. However, there is a tragedy waiting to happen... which I will let you discover on your own.
While I did enjoy this book, I thought "The Paris Architect" was the better read. I will be trying out a couple more books by Charles Belfoure to give myself a chance to make up my mind about whether it was a one-off good'un or if there are others I will like as much or more.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Monday, January 25, 2016
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
Sunday, January 17, 2016
6/100 I just love it when I borrow a book from the library on a whim and it turns out to be a cracking read - and I'm happy to say that "The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure falls very much into that category. The book is set in Paris of 1942, and the (reluctant) hero is Lucien Bernard, an architect who takes on a commission from a rich French industrialist to build a secret invisible hiding place in an apartment. He does it at first purely for the money, then for the sheer challenge of it (even though he's terrified of being caught by the Germans) and, finally - when something goes very wrong with one of his constructions and people die - because he suddenly realises that the Jews who have been hiding are actual people, not vermin to be wiped out. The tension ratchets up for the reader, with the Gestapo getting ever closer to catching up with Lucien, even as Lucien himself changes from a selfish, self-centred, self-serving coward to someone who helps others from the goodness of his heart despite the danger. It's a lovely book, so go read it, go, go!
Saturday, January 16, 2016
5/100 Still only on book#5. It's not that I haven't been reading, but while I liked most of the books I've read since my previous post, I couldn't honestly say that I truly loved any of them - not enough to write about, at any rate. Until this gorgeous little book by Tom Michell, called "The Penguin Lessons", It's not a novel, it's all true and that makes the story even more wonderful! The book is about a little penguin, rescued by the author from an awful death by oil slick in Argentina. He names the bird Juan Salvador (John Saviour) - sometimes called Juan Salvado (John Saved) - and the book is basically about how the bird brings laughter, wonder and love to those he comes across. I just loved this book. Totally worth reading,
Friday, January 15, 2016
4/100 I can't remember if I saw the movie (IF there is a movie - I haven't bothered to check) but while I was reading Jonathan Tropper's "This Is Where I Leave You", I kept getting the feeling, on and off, that some things in the book seemed familiar in a nebulous sort of way. If it indeed has been made into a movie, and I indeed did see it at some point, suffice it to say that I won't be bothering to refresh my movie memories. Not because the book is bad, but because it isn't. Book lovers will probably find this a familiar sentiment, but if I read a book that's been made into a movie and I like the book, I don't bother to watch the movie. It's pretty much a given that it will never be as good as the book.
Anyway, I did like "This Is Where I Leave You", because it's a good mix of funny, touching, sad, shocking and entertaining all the way through. The family - dysfunctional, of course - have gathered to mourn their father's death, and the events take place over 7 days (the Jewish period of formal mourning). What I liked most is that the protagonists start out dysfunctional at the beginning of the book and stay dysfunctional throughout. I won't say that things don't get resolved, because they kinda sorta do... but the resolutions are not cut-and-dried and tied up with a pretty ribbon at the end.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
3/100 Anna Quindlen is an author that I came across only very recently, and the book that I first read (a novel called "Black and Blue") I liked enough that I did what I usually do when I find an author I like - I went and chased down all her books that were available at my local library and reserved them. "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" was the next book I read, purely because my reservation came through on it before any of the others - it's a collection of her essays on ageing. She has a lovely conversational prose style, eloquent, gently humorous and very, very wise. I enjoyed this book too, so I'm looking forward to the other books when they become available. Oh, and I might write about "Black and Blue" next time.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
2/100 Have you heard of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones"? That's not the book I'm going to write about, but "The Life I Left Behind" by Colette McBeth has, at its very basic level, a similar premise. It's a psychological thriller, where a woman who was nearly murdered but survived, has to find the murderer of the woman who tried to find the original assailant but didn't survive the assault. The story is told by turn from the viewpoint of the woman who survived, the woman who didn't and the detective inspector who is investigating both cases. A very good read, because I lived and breathed this book for the duration - nothing short of surgery would have parted me from it till the finish!
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
1/100 Ever since I watched my first episode of M.A.S.H, I've been a huge fan of the series. I fell in love with practically every character on it - BJ, Trapper John, Father Mulcahy, Frank Burns...but most of all, Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda. So when I came across his book "Never Have The Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned" in the library by chance, I just GRABBED it! It was such a good read! This man is (was?)funny, intelligent, honest and loyal and a good writer to boot...I'm in love with Alan Alda and I don't care who knows it! If you're a fan of his, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. And now I'm off to track down the other books he's written.
I've been doing quick reviews of books I've read recently, and posting them on Facebook for the #100bookpact. A dear friend of mine suggested that I post them here as well, so that they are easily accessed (FB tends to be arbitrary and mysterious in how some posts disappear completely and cannot be traced, yet others from years ago suddenly resurface). Anyway, I thought her idea was a good one, because it takes some effort to write even mini-reviews and why drop the fruits of that effort into FB's giant uncaring maw? Plus it also helps to keep my blog going!
Sunday, January 03, 2016
Character in a TV drama describing a teenage boy who's been making out with her daughter: "He looks like a scruffy little hormone!"
I'm still laughing every time I think of it!
Saturday, January 02, 2016
I've resolved to try and be more positive this year - or at least less cynical. Is that the same thing? Well, if it isn't, what I have resolved is to find more positive things to write about on my blog, and not just rant. It's going to be hard, because the older I get, the more easily I get pissed off. But an easy resolution isn't worth anything, so... keep your fingers crossed for me, won't you?
Friday, January 01, 2016
On New Years Eve, when possible and depending on the weather, my husband and I go for a midnight walk in our neighbourhood, oohing and aahing at the various fireworks popping off everywhere. Tonight was perfection, a clear, cold night with the frost only just letting up and a beautiful half-slice moon among the million of stars visible intermittently where they were not outshone by movement sensor lights and general night lights on the outside of residences. Even with all that the night was gorgeous, As Pete said, it was a symbolic walk together into the new year, which I hope will be better than this year for us and for everyone else. Happy new year 2016, dear readers!