Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Works that Changed my Life - Three

Works that Changed my Life

I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith - I Capture the Castle

Cassandra: I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy.

Cassandra: When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it.

Cassandra: Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.

Cassandra: He stood staring into the wood for a minute, then said: "What is it about the English countryside — why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?" He sounded faintly sad. Perhaps he finds beauty saddening — I do myself sometimes. Once when I was quite little I asked father why this was and he explained that it was due to our knowledge of beauty's evanescence, which reminds us that we ourselves shall die. Then he said I was probably too young to understand him; but I understood perfectly.

Tim Fywell - I Capture the Castle

Cassandra: I am never going to fall in love. Life is dangerous enough.

Cassandra: There's only the last page left to write on. I'll fill it with words of just one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Current Playlist

I think (hope) it's clear to everybody reading this blog that I enjoy music very very much. My tastes are all over the place and I'm always willing to make new discoveries. These are some of the artists I've been listening to a lot recently. Some swing, some rock and roll, some jazz, some blues, some rock and some pop. I'm really passionate about them all and I don't think you can go wrong with any one of them. I'm also constantly listening to an online radio called Rock-It. I urge you to give it a try. It plays "1950's and Early 1960's Rock and Roll, Doo Wop, Rockabilly and Rhythm and Blues". I love it, their playlists are very good and the hosts quite funny.

For each of these artists, I chose one random compilation of their music because I love everything they've done. The compilation is here for your listening pleasure and for easy access but please bear in mind that I am not limiting their music to these few titles.

Louis Prima


Chuck Berry


The Contours


Little Richard


Glenn Miller


Duke Ellington


Count Basie


Dean Martin

Muddy Waters


The Rolling Stones


It's so hard for me to find contemporary music that I absolutely love! I'm quite choosy when it comes to it - I won't always like entire discographies (it happens but seldom) and I won't always like "similar artists" whom I don't think are similar at all. Still, I do find some extraordinary artists from time to time and here are the ones I've been listening to the most recently:

Muse - Complete Discography


Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

The Raveonettes - Pretty in Black


Lily Allen - Complete Discography
I have already posted Alright, Still - her first album - here but I love her new album It's Not Me It's You as well. It's fresh and the lyrics are so current.


That's all, folks, have a splendid day!

Something old (okay, none of the music I've been listening to recently is as old as that!) and something new.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oh Rhett, is That You?


You do all the household chores - and still look fresher every day, darling. What's your secret? A bowl of Kellogg's PEP vitamin cereal for breakfast, naturally.


You don't need a knife, a bottle opener or even your husband to unscrew the cap of this bottle - just a little twist of the Alcoa HyTop Closure, made of pure aluminium, and that ketchup is ready to pour.


When you can't wait for your dinner, give her a Kenwood Chef food mixer and let her have some fun preparing your favourite dish!

2009's take on the 50s:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Works that Changed my Life - Two

Works that Changed my Life

A Room With a View

E.M. Forster - A Room With a View

George Emerson: "He [Cecyl Vise] is the sort who are all right so long as they keep to things--books, pictures--but kill when they come to people. He daren't let a woman decide. He's the type who's kept Europe back for a thousand years. Every moment of his life he's forming you, telling you what's charming or amusing or ladylike, telling you what a man thinks womanly; and you, you of all women, listen to his voice instead of to your own. But I do love you surely in a better way than he does." He thought. "Yes--really in a better way. I want you to have your own thoughts even when I hold you in my arms. As you came through the wood I saw that nothing else mattered. I called. I wanted to live and have my chance of joy."

Youth enwrapped them; the song of Phaethon announced passion requited, love attained. But they were conscious of a love more mysterious than this. The song died away; they heard the river, bearing down the snows of winter into the Mediterranean.

ITV - A Room With a View

George Emerson: The poor man.
Lucy Honeychurch: Yes.
George Emerson: Half an hour ago he was so full of life, and now he's dead. It's such a tremendous thing. That he's dead and we're... alive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I think the best day's gotta be the next day. Life is... all what's next. It's like those billboards where, before the actual ad goes up, they put in big block letters "Watch this space".
The West Wing 4x13 The Long Goodbye

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Works that Changed my Life - One

Works that Changed my Life

The Hours

Michael Cunningham - The Hours

We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there where our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything, for more.

Stephen Daldry - The Hours

Virginia Woolf: A woman's whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life.

Clarissa Vaughn: You don't have to go to the party, you don't have to go to the ceremony, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You can do as you like.
Richard Brown: But I still have to face the hours, don't I? I mean, the hours after the party, and the hours after that...

Virginia Woolf: You cannot find peace by avoiding life, Leonard.

Laura Brown: It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear. There it is. No one's going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.

Virginia Woolf: Dear Leonard. To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.

Philip Glass - The Hours


Separate rooms, I'll arrange that by tomorrow, but today I can't fix it, unless you kill a guest


I've been watching so many different things I don't know where to begin. I have started the third season of Buffy, the fourth of The West Wing (this one's a rewatch of course) I am still watching all the Marx Brothers movies I can put my hands on (Duck Soup is their masterpiece, although I have a particular fondness for Monkey Business), I have decided to watch four John Hughes movies also - The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles - these are classics I have never seen - better late than never. I have also decided to start watching Deadwood.
Deadwood. Ah, Deadwood, Deadwood, Deadwood. Long story short: this is not my first time trying. I can't remember how many times I've watched the first four episodes of the first season before something else got in the way. It's such a different show. Takes some getting used to, and for some reason, I've never had the patience it takes to stick and not give up. I can feel this time's the right one, though. I'll report back if I find a gem in all of this. That's completely unrelated but I found this post by Katie to be utterly amusing.

Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl was entertaining. The narrative is told from three different points of view - Imogene's (a punk girl who used to belong to a gang), a ghost's (who's in love with Imogene, she can see him too) and Maxine's (whose mother is too controlling, she's a nice girl). They have to fight some dark fairies while attending high school and being bullied. I finished it but still, it was only entertaining - it was an easy read but in the end didn't have much of a purpose besides a few adventures. I may be spoiled, but after reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I have different expectations when it comes to YA fiction. It can be both exciting and thought-provoking. The Blue Girl does not add anything to what already exists is my point.

Read Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty knowing that it is his masterpiece, that it doesn't get any better than that. After having read two of his other books (the only one left is The Spell), I can say for sure that he is one of my favourite authors - he makes me look at myself in a different way. The Folding Star is no exception. It's about obsession and how it relates to art, as usual. It's a very intelligent novel - Hollinghurst's themes are present in each of his book and I read these three books - The Line of Beauty, The Folding Star, The Swimming-Pool Library - as three books of a same series. The prose is perfect, sacred and profane - I think the real excellency of Hollinghurst lies in the fact that he manages to intellectualize that which cannot be intellectualized - lust. It is elitist and yet it strongly invites everyone in by the universality of what it describes. It's funny when you don't expect it to be. I'm so happy I discovered this author this year, he's a true find. He's not for everybody, though - some will find the writing extremely cold because the characters are the opposite of perfect, because it depicts idleness before focusing on the rest. I myself think he's very special because he's not afraid of looking at desires for what they are.

The amount of the things I want to buy is simply insane - that's the downside of finding so many great albums, movies, TV shows and authors. I will probably purchase some of those next week. My to-be-read pile only only contains seven books, for example, so it's time for a fresh one.
In other news, spring's here and I think there's no better season for Bobby Darin. 60s pop is the best.


Every night I hope and pray
A dream lover will come my way
A girl to hold in my arms
And know the magic of her charms
'Cause I want
A girl
To call
My own
I want a dream lover
So I don't have to dream alone

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members


Terry Pratchett is wonderful. There. I said it. I love his books so very much! If you remember correctly, I read Mort earlier this year, this was the first book in Death's storyline. I finally got around to reading the second installment, Reaper Man and enjoyed it just as much. Here's the (very good, I think) summary:

Death has to happen. Tha'ts what bein' alive is all about. You're alive, and then you're dead. It can't just stop happening.' But it can. And it has. So what happens after death is now less of a philosophical question than a question of actual reality. On the disc, as here, they need Death. If Death doesn't come for you, then what are you supposed to do in the meantime? You can't have the undead wandering about like lost souls. There's no telling what might happen, particularly when they discover that life really is only for the living...

Pratchett is deliciously funny, in that a good and brilliant friend is deliciously funny. There's such a tenderness in the insanity, it's wonderful. I even learnt a thing or two On page 82, in a footnote to a passage describing a character in a restaurant and who is called "shameless autocondimentor" there is the following information:
"An autocondimentor is someone who will put salt and probably pepper on any meal you put in front of them whatever it is and regardless of how much it's got on it already and regardless of how it tastes. Behavioural psychiatrists working for fast-food outlets around the universe have saved billions of whatever the local currency is by noting the autocondimenting phenomenon and advising their employers to leave seasoning out in the first place. This is really true."
The term was actually coinced by Terry Pratchett himself. But it makes so much sense! I find that genius, personally: his stories are always so original, interesting and colourful, and hilarious (don't make the mistake I made - don't read them in a public place, I couldn't contain my laughter!) and there's always something incredibly true in every single one of them - like this piece of information, that I found most informative. Of course, Pratchett's stories always make you think: I've found Death's story arc very profound so far - there are tons of food for thought about death and life and what happiness is made of. Just the kind of comfort read I'm looking for - deeply rewarding, it makes you smile not only because it's tender and warm, but also because it has you see the world in a different way. Terry Pratchett is wonderful, and I'm grateful to have discovered him this year - one of my favourite authors for sure.

Terry Pratchett - for real! Portrait by Paul Kidby

I've also read The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I thought it was much better than Washington Square - it was so good! I'd recommend it as a first approach to James, I'm very impressed with him now that I've read Lady. James creates such "round" characters (I'm borrowing E.M. Forster's classification here), it's really fascinating to see how their story enfolds. I thought the character of Isabel Archer, the heroine, was a very good portrait indeed. She's 23 at the beginning of the novel and doesn't want to marry because there are "other things a woman can do". It's a modernist novel as far as the writing style is concerned. Some lines were so stupendously true to life, one of those books that allows you to say, astonished "yes, that's exactly how it is". Isabel meets lots of different people and changes her mind quite a few times, so much so that the end is very ambiguous (I think it worked best this way, I can see that either alternative was betraying something). It's hard not to talk about it without giving away anything because the plot is, as seems the rule with James, not very action-packed. I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading The Bostonians.
"Don't mind anything any one tells you about any one else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself." - Ralph

Casting news for the upcoming BBC adaptation of Emma: Romola Garai will play the heroine (would have preferred my darling Carey Mulligan but I like Romola - watch I Capture the Castle (read the book first, one of my favourites), Atonement, Daniel Deronda - I'm still not sure about her acting after watching her in so many movies, I can't decide if it's forced or if it's just the characters. I like her anyway but somebody new and fresh would have been good, Romola's well-known. Michael Gambon will play Mr Woodhouse, Emma's father (yay!) and the big disappointment comes from the casting of Knightley - Jonny Lee Miller (who played Edmund in the 1999 "adaptation" of Mansfield Park, it's a small world). He doesn't look the part at all. Looking forward to hearing news about Harriet, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill (not Rupert Friend, please).

I saw quite a few movies since the last time I posted! First of all, Mannequin (1937) directed by one of my favourite directors, Frank Borzage. This movie is right up his alley: it stars Joan Crawford as Jessie in what may be her best performance. She's married to an undeserving man who does everything he can so that she marries another rich man and then give him the money she steals from the rich man. Of course, nothing goes as expected. The rich man is played by Spencer Tracy who was more at ease in Man's Castle alongside Loreeta Young but he's still decent here. It explores Borzage's favourite theme: love as a protection against poverty. People are all the richer because they are in love. As always with Borzage, the hopelessness of life is always counterbalanced by dignity and strong characters who move on no matter what. I love him so much, it's a shame the movie has never been released on DVD.

It's hard to believe it's taken me so long to watch a movie starring the Marx Brothers. I always seem to have so much to watch already, but I knew that someday I'd see one. Little did I know that I would enjoy it so much! Insanity doesn't even begin to cover it. So far, I've watched Monkey Business (1931) and Horse Feathers (1932) and plan on watching many many more. I realised the movies had the same qualities I can find in Pratchett's books: they are deeply humorous and warm, almost tender. It feels like coming home to a friend after a long day. I've also taken a habit of watching an episode of I Love Lucy before going to sleep.There are many episodes on YouTube, but not full seasons, unfortunately. Lucille Ball is incredible, it's packed with one-liners and physical comedy - again, can't believe it took me so long to discover this gem. As Sam Seaborn (a character in The West Wing, best show ever) would say, "I'll tell you what, let's forget about the fact that you're coming a little late to the party and embrace the idea that you showed up at all." Hear, hear!

Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx

And here's an episode of I Love Lucy (Lucy Writes a Play, 1x17) for your viewing pleasure (part 2 is here, last part here):

I felt completely foolish when I discovered I had never posted any Frank Sinatra here. This is just wrong. I prefer his more swingy stuff to his jazzy renditions but his voice does give me the butterflies no matter what he's singing. Plus, he died the day I turned ten. Is this a sign or what?
On January 27, 1961, Sinatra played a benefit show at Carnegie Hall for Martin Luther King, Jr. and would go on to play a major role in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos in the 1960s. Sinatra led his fellow members of the Rat Pack and label-mates on Reprise in refusing to patronize hotels and casinos that wouldn't allow black singers to play live or wouldn't allow black patrons entry. He would often speak from the stage on desegregation.
I think the compilation Nothing but the Best is just what it says it is. My three favourite songs sung by him are The Way You Look Tonight, New York, New York and Luck be a Lady, which are just perfect on this CD. So here it is for you. Have a wonderful week!

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you - New York, New York

You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin' is a pain in the ass.
~Frank Sinatra~