Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Boss Time

It was hard to ignore Michael Jackson at the weekend, whether it was the OH's obsessive news watching and "Earth Song" singing and the sound of his greatest hits coming from every car stereo. But despite this, the soundtrack to my weekend was not Michael Jackson, but Bruce Springsteen.

We were at a party on Saturday, which as a sign of our age began with watching Andy Murray at Wimbledon and ended with watching Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury. Some wine was drunk in between.

Bruce was great. I've always liked him and used to make my mother play his albums constantly on any car journeys when I was a teenager. But with the Glastonbury performance, he convinced even people who had never been interested in him. He has some great songs, and he (and the band) put in so much effort to their performances still. Tom Jones should take note - he put so little effort into his Glastonbury show that he was still unruffled without a hair or touch of makeup out of place at the end.

He clearly loves performing, realises he has the greatest job in the world and enjoys it. Something many stars could learn from...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tough & Corny

Putting my worries aside for an evening, I went to the cinema to see Rudo y Cursi, the new film starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. Y Tu Mama Tambien is one of my all time favourite films, and this film was pretty much a "Who's who" of Mexican cinema.

The film was fantastic, soothing my worry that I'd gone off cinema. It was sort of about football, but you didn't have to be a football fan to enjoy it as you only saw the games through people's reactions to it.

The screening was a special event with the stars, director and producer in attendence. I'll admit that was one reason for me wanting to go - I do find Gael Garcia Bernal very attractive (despite his shortness). The discussion after the film was the usual thing - the panel were great, but were let down by the audience's contribution - mainly inane comments or nitpicking criticism that missed the point. But the stars made it a special event. They were witty and engaging, with way more charisma then you usually see on today's stars. Of course, there is no reason why they shouldn't be - young, good-looking, and talented. And perhaps that is the nub of it, most stars today aren't that talented and even less of them could be described as talented.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I stepped out of my door, with the intention of taking the bus to the library, when I became aware of the sound of a marching band. There was no traffic in the direction I was going and then I noticed that people were standing in their gardens, on their doorsteps and on the curb.

A sign of the times, I wondered whether it might be a parade by an extremist group, but it turned out to be the local carnival. I had no idea it was happening but clearly it was a very big deal for other locals. Besides the crowds lining the street, which increased as I walked down the road, some shops had even closed for the day, with signs in their windows saying "See you at the Carnival".

So I slowed down and lingered a while to see the parade. As parades go, it wasn't really that impressive, but the fact that I saw some semblance of community for the first time seemed more important.

Having seen the entire parade pass by (a marching band, a beauty queen, one small float, a group with decorated umbrellas, some army cadets and their tank and some drummers), I decided to continue my journey to the library but as the traffic was being held someway back, I thought it best to walk. This meant that for a good ten minutes, until our routes diverged, I looked as if I was joining with the parade!

All in all, it was a cheery little event, but without the more colourful elements of the parade around it, the sight of the minature army and tank going down the high street might have been a bit troubling.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Escape from The Rut

I've been in The Rut for a long time. I've been bored and unchallenged, my mind was rotting. I filled up my time with "projects" to distract me, so I wouldn't dwell on The Rut too much. I'd made The Rut quite comfortable, made the best of it.

Then this week, I seem to have found a way out of The Rut. A new opportunity. A proper step in the right direction. Something challenging but perfectly possible.

I'm going to do it. I'm going to leave The Rut behind. But why don't I feel happier about it? Its the little things that make The Rut bearable that I'm worried about leaving behind. And that,strangely enough, I worked so hard to get into The Rut in the first place, that it feels like quitting to leave it behind.

Still it is all "subject to references" which is quite a bit thing when one of the problems with The Rut other people taking credit for things you've done. So I may not quite be out of The Rut yet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Film Recommendations Wanted

So we've got the Love Film service and we received DVDs through the post. But the problem recently is that I haven't been enjoying many of them.

Here is a quick sample of recent picks:

Hannah Takes the Stairs - an American indie film in the little known genre called "Mumblecore". The sound is poorly mixed and the characters witter on about their nothing lives. I turned it off.

Somers Town - I've enjoyed Shane Meadows other films, but didn't warm to this one, perhaps because I knew it had started life as an advert for the Eurostar.

Blame It on Fidel - A French child suffers when her parents become revolutionaries. I found it hard to care.

The Baader Meinhof Complex - The Baader Meinhof gang are a minor obsession of mine, but this made a very interesting period incredibly dull.

Righous Kill - It should have been a warning sign that it was a film starring De Niro and Pacino that I'd never even heard of. Less than the sum of its parts.

There have been two that I have enjoyed

Mad Detective - very interesting film from Hong Kong about an ex-detective with mental powers that are great for detection but not for his own sanity. Like nothing else I've ever seen.

Six Shooter - a short film by Martin McDonaugh. Very funny in an odd, disturbing way.

So I'm looking for some recommendations. What have you seen that you've loved? I will watch pretty much anything, except chick flicks. It doesn't have to be new even.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Overheard Conversations No. 6

On the train, a group of men in their late twenties get on at the stop after mine and sit by me. From their conversation, I gather that they are all members of a swimming club that meets at my local pool, which isn't the one I use and I'm rather relieve now I don't.

Man 1: You should get John to join
Man 2: He doesn't like swimming. I don't know why. Actually I do know why. He told me why.
Man 1: Why?
Man 2: He finds it boring, just swimmig up and down.
Man 1; But its not boring. It is like flying, soaring in the air. Its a beautiful feeling
Man 2: And you can see up people's crotches

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The system

Why does travelling by the London transport system always feel like such a battle? Surely a transport system is supposed to ease your passage through the city, making things easier. But not in London. Every day it feels like the system has to be outwitted, and it becomes a battle of wills, you versus the system. You feel a sense of achievement if you manage to get somewhere without too much of a problem. But if you beat the system on your outbound journey, it will punish you on your return.

And this is when "a good service is operating on all London underground lines". And for this they want a payrise, they feel they deserve more than the £50K most tube drivers earn?

I managed to navigate my way to and from work yesterday, only adding three hours onto my day. Today, I fear the system will take its revenge.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Back in Black

Having made a real effort in recent years to not give in to my natural inclination to always wear black, I now find myself with a job that actually requires it.

I have a new job. Sort of.

I still have the old job, but I now have a new voluntary job as well (plus the bits of freelance stuff too - I'm not very good at doing nothing). As of the weekend, I have joined the 500 volunteer stewards at Shakespeare's Globe. It involves showing people to their seats, herding the crowds in the event of a fire and selling programmes, cushions, blankets and rain ponchos. And it requires me to wear black, which I now find that I have a lot less of in my wardrobe than I thought.

So far (after just two shifts), I really like it and am looking forward to going back next weekend. The thing with voluntary work is it is always much better than actual work, apart from the bit about not being paid.