14/12/2009

Paris is always a good idea


There is never any ending to Paris, and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other - Ernest Hemingway

I've just spent a few days wishing my fellow birdie friend Robin in Paris.

Being just over the channel I've had a few chances to run around this great city - and the eurostar makes the journey even easier. Though I think I may have walked my feet to death.

Since my last trip I've been longing to return to Musee d'Orsay. Now I can safely say think its one of my favorite places in the whole world.

23/11/2009

Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas

Now I know Harry Potter is just fiction but this past year, I've been seeing things...
And I'm sure this wasn't there before but at Kings Cross Station half hidden away...

09/11/2009

Ink (2009)

I read and watch a great deal of sci-fi and fantasy. So I always like to see something new and original when it comes along.

E suggested Primer the other day and though it messed with my head (time travel tends to do this to me) I still enjoyed it. Its nice to see films that don't need uber special effects to be scifi cool. Something I like about a lot of independent cinema is that they might not have the money for jaw dropping visuals but in the good ones the actors more than make up for it.

I have a cinema pass so I catch a great deal of movies, mostly Hollywood or some of the more widly distributed foreign films. In the past few years Hollywood seems like it can't produce anything truly original. Don't get me wrong I tend to like the comics of novels they are making into plentiful films but sometimes you want cinema to give you something new and unexpected. Certainly in the past 2 years its the foreign and indie films that have been the real eye openers.

Of course I enjoyed Watchmen and tonnes of others movies since but all were based on a comic, novel, short story, TV show or even a remake. Perhaps there is no original thought left - a terrible and scary concept.

By total chance I watched Ink.

I'd never heard of this film before we hit play and had no idea what to expect. E told me the reviews were good so I thought why not. I don't want to rehash the plot so it basically about a little girl who's spirit is kidnapped one night as she lies sleeping by a dark force. Her physical body slips into a coma and it seems nothing can be done for her. Her grandparents appeal to her father but he refuses to see her. The rest is best if you see for yourself.

Now the film has all the qualities of an epic - good verses evil plot going for it but it manages to delivery more. There are no instantly recognisable famous faces which an some ways lends the viewers imagination to the story even more. The actors are brilliant, they all give a very true and praiseworthy performance, holding the film together and engaging the audience.

Now the few special effects Ink has are brilliantly executed but subtle enough that the whole thing isn't dependent on them. The Incubus bad guys are strangely disturbing though you can't put your finger on why. There are two scenes which really stand out the first is a first fight sequence the second is a sort of domino effect of events. Which actually made me gasp.

Having said that Ink is a sci-fi fantasy it really comes down to being a story about a man and his daughter. The characterisation of the father is what truly makes this film excellent, its not just effects and cool ideas but poignant story of hope and redemption.

20/10/2009

Thinking on paper

Thanks to Donkey Blues, I've discovered this:

Font Capture

So now I'm typing everything in my handwriting, oh the fun you could have!

Forgive the advertising but it got me thinking. Looking at the letters I could see they were definitely mine (or course I fed the site my handwritten template) but as cool as it is it wasn't the same.

I think writing with an actual pen and paper is fast becoming a lost art.

More and more people I know find the idea of physically scribbling things down an archaic idea. Now I totally embrace the digital era, we can keep practically everything now, all these blog posts and news articles but there is something be said about jotting a few words down with your own hands. I used to write letter to my friends, doodles in the corner and all the madness of months apart stuffed into and envelope. Now we have email and isn't it wonderful! However opening an email doesn't have half the thrill of knowing it came from half a world away, letters are so personal, something to cherish.

The way you form each vowel and constant says so much about a person, do you loop your L or join up the letters, the feel of the pen tip as it scribes your thoughts forces you to think about them that much more. The mood you are in can make you slant your letter, write larger or small, carefully construct each letter or descend in to illegible scrawl.

I think half the fun of making something up be it a story or poem or anything really is getting it down of paper and crossing bits out and inserting random lines here and there, looking back through old workings. To me, we do lose something by cutting out this practice.

E is learning Mandarin at the moment and finds his hand cramps when practising the ancient characters and despite it being difficult he perseveres. It wouldn't be the same if he couldn't render that script.

Typing, texting, email and all are here to stay or be replaced by the next big thing but enjoying writing, I know I still do.

08/09/2009

The city that never sleeps

I wish I could take you with me
All the way to New York City...
We could take the subway home
And stare at our reflection in the window panes of the train
And see how much New York has changed us
- Rosie Thomas, All the way to New York City

I'm still not over the jet lag and shocked I made it anyway near the office this week. I'm still buzzing. This was my first ever trip to the Big Apple but I know it won't be my last. Now anyone who has met me knows I adore London, no matter where I am a part of me belongs there. Its like a universe unto itself. New York has the same appeal, I feel like I visited a strange new dimension, with its own rules and undefinable appeal.

As it was my first visit and E's 100th I felt like I had my own personal tour guide, so thank you for putting up with my typical excited tourist antics! Before getting there I have to admit I was nervous, what if it wasn't as amazing as all the Movies and TV had made it look. All the way over on the plane I was wishing I'd bought some of those movies with me. I could wonder through the Met or central park and catch a bit that reminded me of a scene from Keeping the Faith, not to mention classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's or An Affair to Remember (OK and Sleepless in Seattle) or hear the score from Manhattan in the back of my mind. All the books I'd read which are set in this great city really came to life for me. I think I almost caught a glimpse of Spider-man.
Of course the second I woke up on the first day and looked out the window at the yellow cabs and high rises I knew I was in love.So we got ourselves some city passes (which I high recommend) and set about seeing everything we could fit in.
Nothing came to life in the Museum of Natural History but they did have one of the best planetariums I've ever been to and the Metropolitan Museum of Art blew me away, I could wander around it forever.
By the way the way don't tell anyone by Optimus Prime is in Times Square!!

No visit would of been complete with out popping in to Midtown Comics and the Strand Bookstore so we had to indulge. Sitting on the plane home I opened up one of the Comics we bought (Ultimates Volume 2) and what should we find a few pages in but Tony Stark, Captain America and Betty Ross sitting in The Empire Diner where we had gone for waffles the night before, trust me they were awesome waffles.

The thing that stands out the most for me is the Highline, I don't know what it was but there was something magical about it.
Walking along while the summer sun was setting just fired my imagination I felt a sort of perfect calm - urban bliss if you will.
City behind, long shadows on the ground and sparrow hoping in the long grass.



19/08/2009

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver

I'm now one year older. To celebrate E took me to the J.W Waterhouse Exhibition here in London at the Royal Academy of Art.

Waterhouse is my favourite artist, he brought so many myths and poems to life for me in beautiful and unexpected ways. Sometimes when looking at some of his works (like a Mermaid below) I find it hard not to be swept away and fall into that mythical realm. I'm lucky that Tate Britain is the home to one of his most prolicfic works "The lady of Shallot (on a boat)" (1888)

Much to my dissapointment the painting I wanted to see the most "Ophelia (by the pond)" (1894) was not on display as its in a private collection, which is a real shame as I really believe art should be shared. Maybe one day I'll get to see the real this but for now this will have to do for me and everyone else.

10/08/2009

Time waits for no one


“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”
- Albert Einstein

I finally got around to watching "The girl who leapt through time" (2007) last week.

Needless to say I liked it. I should probably write long review but I think its best if you just watch and judge for yourself.

16/07/2009

The Emerald Isle

I've just got back from a week in Ireland.
(Above Dun Aengus)

E, my husband is Irish even though you can't hear it in his accent. So we hop over the Irish Sea at least once or twice a year. Problem is they are only flying visits. so this year we though let take a week and see some of the West Coast (E's home) properly. Especially since we saw this episode of Coast (one of my favorite TV programmes). So I'm sharing some pics of our time...


Ireland is not somewhere you should go to by sea if like me would have a weak consitution, needless to say I was horribly sea sick but it was all worth it.

We trapsed up the Aran Isles

Wandered in Ailwee Caves

Got rained on in the Ring of Kerry


Not to mention being spoiled rotten with all the wonderful food and company.




29/06/2009

Nature's first green is gold

E and I went for a walk in the forest this weekend, needed the get away from all the stress, the buildings, the cars the madness.

Take a deep breath, listen the trees rustling in the summer breeze and birds singing

29/05/2009

Fish are jumping

May as been a long and busy month but at least the sun is here, well for the odd day at the least.

Took a walk down at Hengistbury Head a few days ago...as much as I love London sometimes I need to be by the sea
And bury my feet in the warm sand


15/04/2009

The Gone-away World

I just finished "The Gone-Away World" by Nick Harkaway. Its a hard book to define, part sci-fi part mess with your head but greatly enjoyable. 

Set in world not dissimilar to our own, or at least one that starts out that way which has suffered a man-made cataclysm. The origins of the disaster are unclear for a large portion of the book but the more you read the more you learn but equally more question arise.

Humanity is left striving for life in the livable zone on the fringes of something called the Jorgmund pipe. In the beyond are horrors but what these nightmares are remain unseen until you are deep in the plot. 
 
The novel has several elements that distinguish it from your run of the mill sci-fi. The main character is nameless and just when you are setup in a post apocalyptic wasteland you are thrown back in time - and anytime you get comfortable, think OK I see where we are, the book uproots and takes you in a new direction. 
The digressions from the plot into some minor subplot or the protagonist introspective thoughts are many and long but strangely fascinating - its the sort of thing you either love or hate. I for one was hooked. 

The book is refreshing, insightful and most of all a pleasure to read.

Oh and did I mention the Ninjas?
 

***Tell me about a book you have enjoyed recently!

29/03/2009

There can be only one


I've been up in the Highlands of Scotland recently, I love it up there...

26/02/2009

Being Nice Destroys Lives

I'm comfortable with the fact I'm not a "nice" person. 

Even though I don't consider myself to be particularly mean or nasty either, I come to the conclusion I just can't live with nice.

Why? Well when your too nice it tends to be the only thing people say about you. Its often used as a substitute instead of saying what you actually think for feel about someone. To me that translates as "well we couldn't think of anything else to say". 

Don't get me wrong, I can't stand rudeness at all but there is this horrid underbelly of overt politeness that can be infuriating. People in an attempt to be perceived as being nice, go out of there way to please others, my mother has this down to an art form and I, alas, am no exception. 

Take for example the lending and borrowing of personal items. Now I'm rather particular about who I lend things to or I wish I could be, because there are people who borrow and Never ever return, people who borrow and destroy and don't care and everyone else who is capable of borrowing and returning without incident. 

Anyone who knows me, know I love my books. But often I go to re-reading something and realise its been lent out and its been soo long that you can't ask for it back - nor can you say no when they ask to borrow something else (of course this depends on the relationship you have with the person). I do have friends that I can lend to and not think about it and then you get the wonderful conversation about whether they liked or hated the book, which is the whole point.

But I can't say no to the others 

This is because I'm trying to not seem like an insane ungenerous cow.  
I'm sure we've all done it and regretted it. I lent a first editions of a book I really loved to someone and even explained to them that it was special to me - that was 3 years ago and now they've left the country. 

When really there should be no problem  in asking for your things back we don't. 
All of this in the name of niceness. 

I could site a hundred more examples of this behaviour. Its a shame as human we just want to be liked and believe being nice will get us this status.

I'm convinced its an illness and I want rid of it.

16/02/2009

Tweet Tweet







Well I've been blogging rarely these days, its doesn't mean I don't love it but now I've found twitter - this could spell trouble ahead...

23/01/2009

my words are my deeds


I read this article this morning, about how the last speaker of a Native American language has passed away thus the language is now extinct. All I could think was how sad that is. The world has lost something valuable - so much of that people would of been held in the words they used and now its gone.

It got me thinking about all sorts of things. I love travelling but I rarely learn more then a few words of the local language (if that) before I go anywhere. Which is a lazy and arrogant thing to do, I know. I just assume that someone, where ever I'm going, will know how to speak English and help me out. More often then not they do, in Japan people bent over backwards to try and point me in the right direction. I did learn to say "I am vegetarian" which I was proud of! People are very kind the world over - but I can't help but feel that globalisation is leading to the loss of so many languages, cultures and customs. Which surely is one of the reasons to travel in the first place.

I'm fluent in two languages, English and Bengali - I can understand a little Hindi and Urdu too - (Thank you Bollywood). Because of school I speak a tiny bit of French very badly (often hurting the ears of native speakers) and my Latin isn't what it used to be. Anyone who is bilingual knows the advantages, when one language fails to express what you are trying to say the other can compensate. E finds it funny that I always speak to my Mum in Bengali and my Dad and English - despite them both being totally able to understand me either way. The voice in my head speaks English but I know theirs must speak Bengali. 

Should I have kids (heaven help them) I know they'll speak English there first language and learn something in school but will they want to learn Bengali? Would my grandchildren?
There are people I know with the same background as me who can't speak a word of it and think that's perfectly fine, I'm sure it works for them but it is a mind set I find hard to understand. Being Bilingual is such a part of who I am that I can't imagine only having one language to draw from.

I mean at the moment there are millions of us Bengali speakers out there - so that language isn't about to vanish (250 million speakers I think!) but eventually it will be lost to my branch of the family and that saddens me. I feel like a piece of my heritage will disappear one day and that is a sad truth. 

19/01/2009

Loss

Thou art gone from my gaze like a beautiful dream.
And I seek thee in vain by the meadow and stream.
~George Linley


I close Friend of mine commited suicide over holidays. 
She was only 25.

I don't know what happend and I don't know what drove her to it. Maybe I don't want know. She was buried a few days ago. I know I should be posisitive and think of all the wonderful things about her. She touched so many lives and was truly unique.

But I don't know how to say good bye.

She was a flame that lit up our lives,
Now only an ember that will remain in my heart forever.