Sunday, 18 May 2008

Martin Amis and The Second Plane: September 11: Terror and Boredom

Yes - it's a bit strange for me to be reading non-fiction, although there are actually a couple of short stories thrown into this collection of Amis' writings in response to September 11 and Islamist terrorism in general. But I can't resist Amis in any form and am finding his arguments interesting.

There have been many sections that I wanted to share on the blog, but I've settled for now on this piece that I found humourous. Amis has described how the Islamic Republic of Iran had after 1979 halved the age requirement for a girl to be married, from eighteen years old to nine, and is describing a scene in which his young nine-year old daughter is being searched before a flight to New York:

"One way of ending the war on terror would be to capitulate and convert. The transitional period would be a humorless one, no doubt, with stern work to be completed in the city squares, the town centers, and on the village greens.
Nevertheless, as the Caliphate is restored in Baghdad, to much joy, the surviving neophytes would soon get used to the voluminous penal code enforced by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice. It would be a world of perfect terror and perfect boredom, and of nothing else - a world with no games, no arts, and no women, a world where the sole entertainment is the public execution. My middle daughter, now aged nine, still believes in imaginary beings (in her case Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy); so she would have that in common, at least, with her new husband."

Assuming, of course, that you can find humour in such things.

no country for old men: the novel.

Earlier this year I saw No Country For Old Men at the cinema, and like most people I thought it was a great piece of cinema. Having read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, I decided it would be worthwhile to read No Country For Old Men. It wasn't, really.

It's generally a given that if you've read a book, any film adaptation will be disappointing. The only immediate example I have where this isn't true would be Lord of the Rings, which was finally done in the grand scale that did justice to the books, particularly if you watch the extended editions. However it's more of an unknown quantity when you watch the film adaptation first and then proceed to the written word.

At the very least, you would generally expect a deeper insight into the characters and their motivations. No Country For Old Men does have this to some extent, with Bell's lengthier narrations. But that doesn't amount to much, and is actually dealt with quite well in the Coen brothers' film. As for more plot? Well no, this is a film that was really very true to the original story.

I am glad to have read the book, but I think this is a rare case where the film adaptation has surpassed the reading experience.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Low - (That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace

(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace

I knew this girl when I was young
She took her spikes from everyone
One night she swallowed up the lake
That's how you sing amazing grace
Amazing grace
Amazing grace
It sounds like razors in my ears
That bell's been ringing now for years
Someday I'll give it all away
That's how you sing amazing grace
Oh, can you hear that sweet sweet sound
Yeah, I was lost but now I'm found
Sometimes there's nothing left to save
That's how you sing amazing grace
Amazing grace
That's how you sing amazing grace

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Quotes from Murphy's Law

I've always been a big fan of British TV - Doctor Who since back in the Tom Baker era, The Bill, As Time Goes By, Spooks, Black Books, Torchwood, Blackpool, Little Britain, the BBC production of Dickens' Bleak House (which I had also read previously) - and I'm sure there's more.

Last year I was addicted to this undercover cop show called Murphy's Law which was running on the ABC, and I now have the first 3 series on DVD. I guess it's the usual gritty sort of cop show - quite stark, shocking at times, and with lots of black humour. I've always been a sucker for this kind of stuff. I also really dig the soundtrack. Here are three of the quotes that I've gathered:

"Your money or your life!"
"I have no money; and I have no life"

"You're cynical"
"Alive and cynical as opposed to dead and gullible?"

"A bird in the hand, Murphy--"
"Leaves shite in your palm!"