Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
And here's some photos and the first interview with the real life "Salt" Anna Chapman c/o Life TV and the Russian Men's Magazine Heat.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This tale of backyard time travelling becomes so convoluted that even after several viewings you’ll find yourself wondering what just happened.
9. Don’t Look Now
Great film but can someone explain the ending? I’ve heard many theories but none that really make any sense.
8. Southland Tales
I might be alone here but I loved this apocalyptic movie from the director of Donnie Darko. I’ve seen it several times and still don’t fully understand what’s going on.
7. I Heart Huckabees
This philosophical comedy needs to come with a reading pack.
6. Vanilla Sky
Confusing or simply lazy plotting? You decide.
Haven't seen it.
I didn’t get it…there I said it.
What's there not to get? He puts on a play of his life in the warehouse and it becomes increasingly complicated as he tries to make it more mimetic and true to his actual life.
I don’t know if I didn’t get what was happening or was so disappointed by the Messiah subtext of this final chapter that I chose to dismiss it as simply confusing. Either way a horrible way to finish a great series.
3. Mulholland Drive and any other David Lynch film
I love Lynch but I have long given up working out what his films are about and just sit back and enjoy the disturbingly hypnotic ride.
2. Donnie Darko
The director’s cut unnecessarily clarified many questions but my theory is that the film makes perfect sense if every time they mention time travel, they’re actually talking about a parallel universe. Thoughts?
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
The film does make more sense after several viewings and catching up on forty years of discussion but I have yet to meet someone who got it on their first viewing. The confusing film by which all are judged.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Lost Squirrel
Robert Langdon woke from a dreamless sleep in his Cambridge apartment near Harvard University, America’s oldest and finest college of higher learning. Sleep, he knew, was a habit shared by all mammals and most invertebrates. No one understood why sleep was so necessary for these life forms but Robert Langdon knew that dolphins only slept with half their brain at any one time, otherwise they would drown. Dreams were another of the many domains of Robert Langdon's expertise. Freud, of course, was not the first to interpret dreams; famously Joseph of the Israelites, exiled in the land of Egypt, had become an expert dream reader for the pharaohs.
Robert Langdon got out of bed and walked across the carpet. Carpets had been covering the homes of human beings since weaving was discovered by the Sumerians in the second millennium BC. His carpet had not however come from Sumeria, but rather from the Ikea on I-95. It was 5.55 in the morning the same time philosopher Immanuel Kant woke each day for his constitutional walk around the city of Konigsberg. Kant was so regular that shopkeepers could set their watches by him. Now of course Konigsberg had been renamed Kaliningrad and was no longer in East Prussia but rather in the odd Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast. Chuckling Robert Langdon wondered if the Knights of the Teutonic order would have been happy with that state of affairs.
“Oh tempora, oh mores,” he said in Latin, once the universal language spoken by all cultured peoples but now a mere tool for academics and the esoteric tongue of the Vatican.
In the kitchen the Harvard University wall calendar told him that it was Tuesday. Tuesday, he thought, remembering that it was named for the Norse god Tiu, the equivalent of the Roman god Mars. Tuesday was the second day of the week, coming between Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday and Thursday were the only days of the week that began with a T, although Thursday's T was a soft one, not a hard one.
Robert Langdon opened his Northland 3000 refrigerator, the most expensive fridge in the world, a gift from his mentor the brilliant Professor of quantum mechanics John Elton who was also an international singing star and who used a cunningly inverted stage name and red wig to hide himself. Robert Langdon took out a pint of milk. Milk he knew came from the lactation glands of cows. All female mammals lactated. He wondered if duck billed platypuses did so. Hmm, he thought, if only there was some device that could give him that information easily. Some kind of encyclopedia - perhaps stored electronically. If such a device existed you wouldn’t need everything explained all the time, because you could assume that people weren’t idiots and they could just look stuff up they didn't know.
He poured the milk into his bowl of cornflakes. Cornflakes of course had been developed by William Keith Kellogg as a health food, but now were consumed across the world by all cultures. He ate quickly. The Harvard University pool where he swam each morning opened at 6:30 and that only gave him fifteen minutes to get dressed in his trousers and polo neck. Trousers of course had been popularized by Beau Brummel following the sans culottes revolution in F-
The phone rang. “Is this Bob Langdon?” a guttural voice asked. A voice that seemed to be speaking from another dimension entirely, maybe even another universe. Modern physics had proven that many universes existed - the multiverse it was called - but telephone conversations between the universes had never been thought possible. Perhaps until today!
“This is Semiotics Professor Robert Langdon of Harvard University, America’s oldest and finest institution of higher learning.”
“I’m a Boise State man myself, listen Bob, we live just across the street and your car alarm has been going off for the last fifteen minutes, can you come out and turn it off, please.”
Robert Langdon knew that alarms had existed since Roman times when the sacred geese on the Capitol hill had alerted the sleeping citizens that an attack by the Celts was imminent.
"Can you go outside, please, pal. We want to get back to sleep.”
"Did you know that dolphins only sleep with half their br..." Robert Langdon began but the phone was dead. It reminded him that the first phone call had been made in this very city by Alexander Graham Bell who had unfortunately not taught at Harvard but rather at the inferior Boston University.
Professor Robert Langdon dressed and went outside. The alarm on his Porsche Boxster S was indeed sounding. Porsche was a German company founded in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche, but that was not important right now, what was important was the alarm.
He turned it off with a push on his infrared key button. Robert Langdon was worried. What could possibly have set off this alarm in the first place? He examined the car’s roof. It was covered with squirrel poop. Squirrels were a type of rodent common in North America and Europe. The squirrel was in the tree, naked and afraid. Could it have jumped on the roof and started the alarm, shat itself and jumped off. No. That didn't seem likely at all. What struck Robert Langdon about the poop was the fact that if you cocked your head and looked at it in a funny way it seemed to be arranged in an aleph, first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and key to the ancient wisdom of the Zohar. A chill coursed through him.
“I have a terrible feeling,” he said out loud to no one in particular “that I am about to be thrust into another one of my strange adventures.”
The wind blew from the north, which in this hemisphere was where the polar regions lay. He turned up the collar on his coat and headed towards the Georgian buildings of Harvard University, America’s oldest and finest institution of higher learning.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Once ashore Millin did not run, but walked up and down the beach, blasting out a series of tunes. After Hieland Laddie, Lovat, the commander of 1st Special Service Brigade (1 SSB), raised his voice above the crackle of gunfire and the crump of mortar, and asked for another. Millin strode up and down the water’s edge playing The Road to the Isles. His worst moments were when he was among the wounded. They wanted medical help and were shocked to see this figure strolling up and down playing the bagpipes. To feel so helpless, Millin said afterwards, was horrifying. For many other soldiers, however, the piper provided a unique boost to morale. “I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes,” said one, Tom Duncan, many years later. “It is hard to describe the impact it had. It gave us a great lift and increased our determination. As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home and why we were there fighting for our lives and those of our loved ones.”
When the brigade moved off, Millin was with the group that attacked the rear of Ouistreham. After the capture of the town, he went with Lovat towards Bénouville, piping along the road. They were very exposed, and were shot at by snipers from across the canal. Millin stopped playing. Everyone threw themselves flat on the ground — apart from Lovat, who went down on one knee. When one of the snipers scrambled down a tree and dived into a cornfield, Lovat stalked him and shot him. He then sent two men into the corn to look for him and they came back with the corpse. “Right, Piper,” said Lovat, “start the pipes again.”
At Bénouville, where they again came under fire, the CO of 6 Commando asked Millin to play them down the main street. He suggested that Millin should run, but the piper insisted on walking and, as he played Blue Bonnets Over the Border, the commandos followed. When they came to the crossing which later became known as Pegasus Bridge, troops on the other side signalled frantically that it was under sniper fire. Lovat ordered Millin to shoulder his bagpipes and play the commandos over. “It seemed like a very long bridge,” Millin said afterwards. The pipes were damaged by shrapnel later that day, but remained playable. Millin was surprised not to have been shot, and he mentioned this to some Germans who had been taken prisoner. They said that they had not shot at him because they thought he had gone off his head.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
If you're a writer embarking on a new work beware of reading anything by Adrian McKinty. His prose is so hard, so tough, so New York honest you'll find yourself taking a knife to your work. He is a cross between Mickey Spillane and Damon Runyon - the toughest, the best.
After the blurb got attached to the book funny things started to happen. Simon and Schuster announced that they were going to bring out a paperback edition and wanted to know if I had any other books up my sleeve. Then I got an English publisher, Serpent's Tail. Then I got a French publisher, Gallimard. I even got a Russian publisher. The book was optioned (briefly, but even so) by Universal Pictures and in the autumn of 2004 it was short-listed for a Dagger Award.
Frank McCourt passed away on Sunday and I'm not saying that I owe my entire career (such as it is) to him, but I do think he gave me an adrenalin shot to the heart when I was flatlining. The blurb was unsolicited and completely out of the blue, McCourt merely wanted to help out a young writer, just as he helped out his friends, colleagues, and especially students for 50 years in New York City. RIP Francis, I owe you and I'll miss you.
Incidentally the blurb came to Simon and Schuster's offices in long hand and apparently was written on one of McCourt's old grocery bags. They had to call him up and ask if he'd really sent it. He said he had. I asked them if I could have the grocery bag with the blurb on it and they sent it to me.
It's currently on eBay priced at a very reasonable 75.00 dollars. (Kidding!)
Once again apologies to everyone who was expecting a new blog post today and not a recycled older one. I'm still book editing at the moment and its taking me a little longer than I was expecting, because I've had a few ideas along the way and my editor at Serpents Tail has encouraged me to integrate them rather than ignore them. Normal blog service I hope will return next week. In the meantime I wanted to post a link to this article in The Guardian about Stanley Kubrick's widow and daughters. I've done several posts on Stanley Kubrick before and this little story made me pretty sad.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
But that just may be Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong, I like LA. Fat Burger and Santa Monica and Malibu Creek are worth the drive, but I don't think you could have written Rover, Scanner or Vice in New England where people are not known for their demonstrative or hyperbolic nature. William Faulkner tells a story about how he was driving in Maine once and asked for directions. "Can you get to X, from here?" Faulkner wondered. "Yes." a local farmer responded. "Thanks," Faulkner said and off he drove before finding that the road he was on ended in the middle of nowhere. He drove back and encountered the farmer again. "I thought you said I could get to X from here," he wondered. "Not on this road," the farmer told him. Faulkner claims that he was impressed by the Mainer's precise answer to his question. In Mississippi they would have gone out of their way to show you the right road, but that was unnecessarily verbose in Maine.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
...After he had been playing "Lang Syne" for a week or so he hit about the idea of improving the original melody with some "little flourishes and variations." He immediately gets kicked out of his rooming house and moves to another.
...I went to board at Mrs. Murphy's, an Italian lady of many excellent qualities. The very first time I struck up the variations, a haggard, care-worn, cadaverous old man walked into my room and stood beaming upon me a smile of ineffable happiness. Then he placed his hand upon my head, and looking devoutly aloft, he said with feeling unction, and in a voice trembling with emotion, "God bless you, young man! God bless you! for you have done that for me which is beyond all praise. For years I have suffered from an incurable disease, and knowing my doom was sealed and that I must die, I have striven with all my power to resign myself to my fate, but in vain — the love of life was too strong within me. But Heaven bless you, my benefactor! for since I heard you play that tune and those variations, I do not want to live any longer — I am entirely resigned — I am willing to die — in fact, I am anxious to die." And then the old man fell upon my neck and wept a flood of happy tears. I was surprised at these things; but I could not help feeling a little proud at what I had done, nor could I help giving the old gentleman a parting blast in the way of some peculiarly lacerating variations as he went out at the door. They doubled him up like a jack-knife, and the next time he left his bed of pain and suffering he was all right, in a metallic coffin.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Slater stood there for a second or two and in that moment the gods reached down from Mount Olympus and filled him with arete the divine fire which turns ordinary mortals into heroes. Thus enthused he walked back to the flight attendant area, got on the PA system and cursed out the passenger in the most earthy tones he could think of (oh for a tape of this), then he went to the drinks cart, grabbed himself a beer, opened an emergency door, deployed the chute, said a final sayonara, slid down the chute with beer in hand, walked across the runway, got in his car and drove home to Queens.
According to The New York Times he was later arrested by the NYPD for reckless endangerment of an aircraft. He'll probably get convicted too. If he does, I'm writing to Obama for a presidential pardon. For all of us who have worked and are still working in the service industry Slater has become our patron saint. Well done, Mr. S. you shouldnt get jail time, you should get a bloody medal.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
With that in mind blog service will be limited for the next 10 days or so. I'll be posting some old (and hopefully good) stuff from the early days of the blog and although I will read your comments I probably wont be that great about replying. This isnt me being rude, just me trying to focus on doing a good job on Falling Glass.
Thank you for understanding. Normal service will resume soon and I do think you'll enjoy the older blog stuff that you probably haven't seen before.
BTW this is NOT the cover of the book, just me mucking about with paintbox, although it is thematically appropriate.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Housed on nearly 400 acres of land, the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park in north-east China is one of the largest tiger refuges in the world. And it offers visitors a highly manufactured but extremely satisfying experience of what happens when large cats feed on lesser animals. Visitors are loaded into rickety busses [sic] and taken on a tour through various sections of the park outfitted with electronic chain link fences "Jurassic Park" style. Throughout the trip, the busses [sic] will stop to let you get a good view of the park’s inhabitants. Lax safety standards ensure that a thin layer of mesh and metal is all that divides you from tigers whose heads average the size of your bus’s tire. For those not satisfied with merely being a spectator, visitors have the unique opportunity to sentence hapless farm creatures -- starting at RMB 50 for a chicken and going up to RMB 1,500 for a cow -- to becoming tiger feed. It may seem cruel to the farm animals that are unceremoniously dumped out of a food truck into the middle of 10 insatiable Siberian tigers but it certainly makes the tigers very happy and adds quite a bit of excitement to the tour.
The Chinese of course are experts at making tigers, lions and their own populace happy. In a chatty tone Miss Ouyang goes on to explain how - from a platform - you can throw live chickens to the tigers but you must, she adds, be careful not to throw them too hard lest you stun the animals or even kill them thus missing the thrill which comes from watching them being torn apart alive. She also mocks those foolish souls who may be members of PETA or even vegans and who might (perish the thought) get offended by such fun and games; but everyday common sense folks like her and you and me will love visiting the park and will surely get a big kick from seeing see living cows, goats and sheep getting thrown to caged tigers, solely for our prurient amusement.
I am looking forward to Miss Ouyang's next giddy article on the excellent bear baiting opportunities which can still be enjoyed in that haven for old time animal fun - the People's Republic of China.
Monday, August 2, 2010
It won't be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won't be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won't be long yeah
'Til I belong to you.
Ev'ry night when ev'rybody has fun,
Here am I sitting all on my own,
It won't be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won't be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won't be long yeah
'Til I belong to you.
Clearly this a reference to the Kennedy assassination. How did Lennon know about it in advance? How? Because he was part of the conspiracy. Tony Hayward the chairman of BP was 6 years old when this record was released, living in Slough, only 20 miles west of the Abbey Road studios. Where have you heard of Slough, recently? Why the British version of The Office of course which concluded its first season a mere week before 9/11. Dawn from The Office got married at St Paul's Cathedral because her father has an MBE. You know who was at the wedding? An executive from BP (I'm guessing, it was a pretty big guest list). You know who else got married at St Pauls? Prince Charles and Lady Di both from different clans of our lizard oppressors (if David Icke is to be believed). In the Da Vinci Code however Dan Brown said that Lady Di and Prince Charles got married at Westminster Abbey. A mistake? Not bloody likely. What does Dan Brown know that we dont? What is he trying to tell us? Something about the Messiah perhaps? Wheels within wheels, people, patterns within patterns.