Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Summer reviews

Below is a summary of my summer reading - it is very bitty and does not read well, as it was written over a period of time.


Just finished The Tempest by William Shakespeare (my absolute favouritest Shakespeare play), as part of a Shakespeare challenge I joined ages ago.

It is set on an island where Prospero the Duke of Milan, who was overthrown by his brother and courtiers and then set adrift on the high seas with his baby daughter. He has been living on the island with his daughter, Miranda and a nasty piece of work, Caliban, who has been their servant for about 12 years. There is also Ariel, a fairy, who helps Prospero. It reminds me in some ways of A MidSummer Night's Dream, but it is as if Prospero is an older Oberon and Ariel is an older Puck.

At the start of the play there is a shipwreck created by Ariel at Prospero's orders and on the ship are Alonso, Gonzalo, Ferdinand etc - all of them are from Milan, and most of them Prospero's enemies. All the main characters are shipwrecked, as a result of the storm caused by Ariel at Prospero's bidding, but are safe as the latter has plans for them. They are scattered around the island in small groups and are unaware that there are any other survivors - remind you of Lost?

Eventually they all come together when Prospero wants them to and all's well that ends well (but that's another story).


Currently I am in France where I am working in the house (10 years after buying it), I am now doing lots of decoration and maintenance work. Today I prepared the bedroom wall for a coat of special paint tomorrow, fitted a shower spray, WD40'd the shutters and the car doors, took down a few light fittings and cleaned the year of dust from them, in short, lots of little jobs, each of which takes 30-40 minutes.. On Monday (25th June) I am off to the second house we have just bought, to see what needs to be done there.

Reading Mother Tongue, The English Language by Bill Bryson which is absolutely fascinating. It deals with the arrival of language in prehistoric times and the reasons behind the success of English as a global language - in spite of its many linguistic quirks and foibles. It is very much in the style of Bill Bryson, but is erudite nonetheless, and very entertaining. It is packed full of useful pieces of information as well as being very entertaining too.

It is one of those books I hate as it is so funny you want to share his wit with those around you, so I constantly stop reading to read out his witticisms to my better half, much to her annoyance. If you have read any BB before and have any interest in the origins of the English language, but do not want a dry academic tome, then this is one for you - it is one of those books I wish I had 20 copies of so that I could pass them to people I know would like it, as I like to share.


Reading The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare - one of his less well known plays, but one I read years and years ago and really enjoyed. I am reading this as part of a Shakespeare challenge I signed up for on someone's blog ages ago, but unfortunately I am unable to get online to check who. The play is a bit slow at the beginning but from what I remember of it, the main part of the story is really enjoyable. Have now finished it and the play was just as good as I remembered - not one of his most popular plays and not often dramatised, but it is one of the plays I prefer. I tend to prefer the plays he wrote when he was older as they have more depth to them, unfortunately they tend to be the plays that people do not read or see performed as they are not considered "classics". The play has standard themes, but is usual that the middle of the play we are introduced to a whole new set f characters 16 years later and then the end ties everything together.

Here I have a dial up connection and for the last two days the phone line has been out - hence no connection, and even when there is a phone line it is so slow that I cannot do much online. Even when I have a phone conversation, the line is dropped on average 2 or 3 times, and the call gets disconnected, so imagine the frustration trying to surf t'interweb for any length of time! So although I am writing these things to post in the blog, they may not be online for ages. This is one of the problems of living in the mountains - but there is wi-fi in the village but as I am not here most of the year, it is not worth signing up for an annual subscription, so I put up with the crappy modem service. I will investigate the wi-fi option when I get back in a week or so and see if it is possible to sign up on a shorter contract, but I doubt it will be possible.

Just watched Death pf a President whch was very good. It was very well made and in my opinion was a major development of the mashups done about Dubya several years ago, eg his State of the Union speech. It worked really well and the cutups were very slick - they have been done in other movies before such as Zelig, by Woody Allen and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid with Steve Martin (before his career went down the pan, IMHO)

It is a fictionalised account/documentary about President Bush being assassinated. It uses real footage of GW Bush so that the lines between reality and fiction are very blurred - at times you feel as if you are watching CNN, or a news story on TV, instead of watching a DVD. A very clever movie - two thumbs up. I particularly like it as it uses cut up techniques that I have been enjoying in the last years by such guys as Eclectic Method, Osymyso etc for political video mashups - check out some on my other site here. Video mashup is the logical extension of bastard pop, and

I have also just returned from the new house which needs more work than I thought, so I knocked out 4 walls and opened up a beautiful original wooden staircase which had been boxed in, and will return in about a week or so to do some more work on it with some other guys - there will be a paying guest there on the 11th August, so it will have to be ready for that. Kitchen, floor sofas and beds have been ordered, and will be delivered around the middle of July, but before then we have to get the plastering, rewiring of electrics and loads of other stuff done.


03-08-07 The stuff has all arrived and I am now going t be back there in a few days and will see what progress the guys have made. I will try to post from there as the connection here has been atrocious and I have not even thought about uploading as the speed is so slow.

Current reads

Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Andy Mc Nabb - Dark Winter

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