Saturday, May 10, 2014


Books I've been reading
Still not quite back on track reading, but getting there.
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. This is a beautiful book of photography, and the subject matter is everyday humans snapped on the streets of New York. Except most humans in New York are not quite everyday humans. This started it's life as a blog and it is fascinating. I love portrait photography and this is definitely worth having a look at.
Italian Ways by Tim Park. I was really looking forward to this read. My understanding was that it was about traveling between, Milan, Verona, and surrounds by rail. And as I have visited these places and indeed some by rail, I was ready for a walk down memory lane. But this book it more about the Italian railways, the specifics of the trains, and the Italian bureaucracy. More for train spotters and lovers of intricate minutiae.
9/11 and the Art of Happiness by Simon Kennedy. Simon's mother was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Simon, an Australian, tells the story about his loss and his battles with happiness in the decade since. It is a 9/11 story, a potted memoir of himself and his mother, and how he struggled to stay on top of things generally and as a comedian in those years after. It was a fascinating story, part memoir, part self help, but more just a story about an ordinary bloke beginning his stand up career with great tragedy.
Dior Impressions: the Inspiration and Influence of Impressionism at the House of Dior by Florence Muller. This was just perfection. Stunning photographs of Dior creations and prints of Impressionistic paintings and the similarities. Dior was very much influenced by the Impressionism paintings, and simply put this beautiful books shows you how, in words and more importantly in photos.
Film in Five Seconds: over 150 Great Movie Moments - in moments by Matteo Civaschi and Gianmarco Milesi. This was pure fun, small cartoons with key characters and props that describe a movie and you have to guess which. I did very well, and yeah it was a very quick read!
Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman. This is Neil's latest book for young readers, 5-8 year olds I would reckon. Dad endures the most terrific and terrifying adventure on the way to the shop to get the milk. Witty, scary, adventurous, and most of all fun. Great illustrations too, is there anything this man cannot do!?!
The Birdwatcher by William McInnes. This book started off really good, set in Melbourne, the main character lives alone, keeps to himself, and is a bird watcher. But also a watcher generally, so his observations of life, around him, at work, and on trams was interesting, witty, and compelling. He gets a call from a friend in Far North Queensland who sees a rare bird, and heads up to check it out. And that is when the story lost it for me, it was really predictable, slow paced (which normally I do not mind) and basically a run of the mill romance story. Just not for me I guess.
Simple Dreams: a Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt. A long time fan of Linda, I was eager to delve into her world and not so eager to leave. What a wonderful and fascinating life she has led. It begins with her life in Mexico, growing up on a farm, the hardships, but the love and music. You can see where her strength in character and love for music was built. In fact I would say, in built! It goes through all the various periods, country, rock star, Nelson Riddle, Opera, Stage, and movies. What a star, and somehow forgotten and under rated these days. What I loved most about this was it was purely business, she writes in great detail the musicality of these periods, the people she worked with, and the opportunities she took. But she never stooped to trashy gossip, and given the huge cast of stars she has worked with, she certainly could have resorted to that. She didn't go much into loves, affairs, or indeed deeply personal information. She also writes beautifully, and you feel like you are there in the studio with her. Definitely for fans of music generally.
DVDs I've been watching
American Pickers  - S6 I think, I do love this show about Mike and Frank and their love of Americana, motorcycles, and antiques. The places they go and the junk people accumulate never fail to amaze and amuse me.
What's in a name - This was a quirky little French film, that part irritated me and part made me laugh out loud. It revolves around a small group of friends, all meeting for dinner at one of their apartments. One couple are expecting and prior to his wife arriving, the husband reveals the name of the baby to the horror of their friends. From this crazy tale, secrets are unraveled, betrayals are found out, and will the group remain friends and make it though the evening?
The Imposter - this documentary about a family who is reunited with their lost son and brother after him being missing for years is compelling. You are shown from beginning the man is indeed NOT their son, yet they believe he is. The story is hard to describe without giving too much more away, but certainly a good example of where truth is stranger than fiction. This had me totally glued to the screen, and there was much to be learnt and indeed much more to learn. Highly recommend, but be warned, it will play with your mind a bit!
Greetings from Tim Buckley -  as soon as I heard about this film I knew it would be a bust, and it was! Yet I watched it anyway. Loosely based on Jeff's involvement in a tribute to his father just before he became a star himself. The premise is fascinating, and some aspects weren't too bad, but ultimately it took itself way too seriously and no one could ever be Tim or Jeff, too powerful to be able to pull off.
Game of Thrones S3 - Finally caught this season up and how brilliant it was. I loved, loved, loved the Red Wedding, of course it would have had more impact on me had I not known it was coming, but I guess that happens when you don't have cable! I still adore Tyrion, worshop Khaleesi, believe good things are in the future for both Arya and Brienne.
The Newsroom S2 - S2 was just as good as S1, if not better. I loved the ups and downs and particularly the storyline for Alison Pill's Maggie.
Incendies - A French/Canadian film. On their mothers death her children, twins, learn they have a brother, and their father, supposedly dead, is alive. She asks the twins to find them and so begins an extraordinary journey to the middle east to find the truth. Stunning and heart wrenching. A absolute must watch, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Blancanieves - Inspired by Snow White, this black and white silent film from Spain was only made in 2012. Stunningly shot with a flamenco feel, and bullfighters and carnivals and the like this is unlike anything I have ever seen. Sensual and seductive, old-fashioned and sweet. Perfect soundtrack. A must see.
Dexter final season - I've had this to watch for a while, but had heard such bad things about the ending I couldn't bring myself to watch. I have loved Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under and just love him even more as Dexter, so much so I am always on Dexter's side. This is odd I know and I like to say it's because Hall is such an amazing and sympathetic actor, not because there is something wrong with me, lol! The second to last season had me a little unnerved as it would appear Dexter would be found out, this didn't sit well with me, but I know he cannot remain elusive forever...or could he. Without giving too much away I loved the plot line involving the stunning Charlotte Rampling, but got annoyed when they brought her son into the plot, this was a bit too soap opera-y for me. I was not at all happy with how things ended for Deb, and actually loved how things were going for Dexter, until the very last scene and I felt very cheated. Sigh.
Grammys/Beatles - This was a special tribute concert by The Grammys and a whole range of acts for the anniversary of The Beatles coming to America. I loved pretty much all of it. I thought Annie Lennox's performance with Dave Stewart was divine, Dave Grohl knocked it out of the park as always, and of course Paul and Ringo playing at the end also great. There were some misses, Beatles' songs will always do that to some, not as easy as they sound. All up it was very much worth watching.
Music I've been listening to
Robyn Hitchcock - Live in London, fabulous
Manic Street Preachers - Rewind the film, catchy as always
Sting - The Last Ship. Whilst lovely to listen to, I feel Sting takes himself way too seriously these days, what happened to his joy?
Simon and Garfunkel - my work listening, keeps my calm when doing things that make me...un-calm.
Neil Finn - new album, Dizzy Heights, I really love this, and the more I listen to it the more I love it even more.

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