Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Officially I'm still working, since for the self-employed, public holidays are more of a guideline. I've been updating the competitions and submissions section of the Members' Pages on the website, so I'm feeling virtuous today. I also did 2 hours in the garden this morning. That wasn't virtue, it was pure physical pleasure. Christmas was great, surrounded by family and a family-free friend, with too much food and not enough presents. (My fault - when people asked I couldn't think of anything I actually wanted!) I stayed up late on New Year's Eve, but more by accident, since I was playing on the computer and couldn't drag myself away. I have nights like that.

Best thing this week was going to see 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' (Dir. David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett). The only review I read before seeing it was at the New Yorker online, and it wasn't warmly recommended. I shan't read that reviewer again - I adored the movie. It was extraordinarily long, at nearly 3 hours, but I didn't actually notice until it was all over and I looked at my watch after we left the theatre. Pitt was kind of bland (think Keanu Reeves, only so much better-looking), and somehow the role suited that treatment. Blanchett was all jittery and very F Scott Fitzgerald (the original story was his). There were some very funny moments, and also enormous pathos. A World War II scene at sea was particularly gruelling. And the company I was with (Mensans and families) enjoyed it just as much as I did. Strongly recommended.

I've just finished reading 'Another Fine Myth', by Richard Asprin, a writer I'm not familiar with. It's a fantasy, with human and non-human characters, who generally take each other in their stride. More Tom Holt than Terry Pratchett, though not as funny, and the humour is as much in the references to other dimensions, as in the situations in the active one. A relatively mundane adventure as adventures go, but well-enough-written, and with the potential for heaps of sequels. Pointless fun, in other words. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are inspired lunacy and lift the book into a series (if indeed it is) worth looking out for.

Prior to that I read John Connolly's 'The Book of Lost Things', a much more conventional fantasy adventure, with the additional complexity of grief and loss driving the narrative. I loved it, and found the characters, even the mythical stereotypes, very sympathetic and likable. My daughter had heard of it, so it's probably on Book Club lists.

I seem to be over my crime thriller binge. Except that when we were in Whitcoull's looking for Wally's half-birthday present (Fred Dagg on DVD) we spotted a 'Dexter' omnibus - the 3 novels about the lovable Miami serial killer on which the TV programmes were based. Couldn't resist the 25% off sale, so Dexter is now ours to read at our leisure. We've already decided not to read Book 3 until after we've seen Series 3 on The Box (where it appears some time before free-to-air), so we don't spoil the fun and agony of waiting a week between every episode to find out what happens. Very old-fashioned, I know, when you can find things out on the net, but the anticipation is half the pleasure, as it is with so many things.

My sister arrives tonight fresh from her drunken week with our cousin in Auckland, having left England for good after 40 years. Talk about burning your bridges. I'm picking her up from the airport and then taking her to Dad's tomorrow, where she'll drive him nuts by acting on every vague thought he is foolish enough to have out loud. I predict the kitchen will be painted (in her colours, not his, though he'll agree, to "keep the peace") by the end of the month. She was talking about it when she was here earlier in the year looking after Dad when he got sick at the end of a long winter, so I know she won't take long to get on to it. I was planning to get it done (in his choice of colour) before she got here, but the time was simply too rushed in the end, and we couldn't manage a family working bee that suited everyone. And he'll complain to me and my other sister that it was her idea (which it largely was, after he agreed it might be nice to have a change, but I wasn't there, so who knows?). Ah, families - gotta love 'em.