Tuesday, 16 January 2018

I doubt if I'll read a more enjoyable book this year than Christopher Fowler's "The Book of Forgotten Authors"

I downloaded this 2017 compendium after clicking the "Look inside" button on Amazon and reading the list of authors covered. My wife had been talking about E.M. Delafield, whose Diary of a Provincial Lady she was reading for a book group.  Vaguely recognising the name, I did some googling and discovered that E.M. Delafield (born Edmée Elizabeth Monica de la Pasture) was a prolific English writer, who produced 40 novels, plays and short story collections before her death in 1943, aged 53. A few days later, I happened upon Christopher Fowler's 2017 book on Amazon, found E.M. Delafield's name in the contents section (in among some rather surprising choices), and downloaded it. Glad I did.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

I've just seen my grandmother for the first time in 50 years - in a film!

Janet Mulholland in her first - and only - film role, as a Shetlander bringing a British naval officer something nice to eat (a realistic touch, as she was one hell of a cook). The film's Norwegian title was...

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Classical figures - modern settings (hat-tip: SVWG)

One more...

From "Vertigo" to "Jaws" to "Kong: Skull Island" - the history of the perspective-distorting "dolly zoom"

We were watching Kong: Skull Island the other night when my son pointed out "one of those shots" where the people/objects in the foreground stay the same size (or get slightly bigger) while something weird happens to the background - it gets...wider? Or closer? Further away? Anyway...something disconcerting happens up there on the screen to ratchet up the tension by suggesting the world has somehow shifted on its axis. I knew the technique had been used in Jaws. I was convinced Spielberg had deployed it during the scene where Roy Scheider is spooning fish guts into the water from the stern of Quint's boat - but my memory was at fault, as I discovered while watching a brilliant new documentary about Stephen Spielberg on Sky Atlantic earlier today. The famous "dolly zoom" appears at 2'01" in this scene:

"And the light shineth in darkness..." - me and my splendid new Serious Reader bedside light

On 19th December I posted what I described as "one long whine" about my worsening insomnia, and how my body seemed determined to keep me up all night by piling one distracting annoyance on top of another - itchy legs, stomach pains, restless legs etc. Yesterday, I woke up around 10.30am, having gone to sleep at around 2.45am. The previous day, I'd woken up just after 10am, having gone to sleep at around 2.30am. After rummaging through my memory banks, I realised that I'd been to sleep before 3am every single night since... well, Christmas Day. Now, with CFS, symptoms come and go: as one recedes, another reappears - either as a single spy or in a battalion. But as I haven't managed to fall asleep by 3am for two weeks in a row for at least two-and-a-half years, and as no new symptoms (or old favourites) have appeared to replace this one, I began to wonder what had changed since Christmas Day...and a lightbulb went on in my head.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Oprah for President because she stands up to sexual predators? Really?

Ah, sweet! - "Go on, honey - be nice to the fine gentleman, and he'll be nice to you!" Here are some more heart-warming pictures:

Monday, 8 January 2018

Movie watch: The Grønmark Blog goes noir! (Part Three): Detour, Too Late for Tears, The Dark Corner, Caught

Detour (1945) is fairly horrible little picture. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer in six days on a tiny budget, it stars Tom Neal as a piano player in a New York nightclub who initially refuses to accompany his girlfriend to Los Angeles, where she wants to try to make it in the movies. Changing his mind, he decides to hitchhike across the country to join her, but one of his "rides" - a crude, obnoxious bully - dies during the trip. Fearing he'll be blamed for killing the man, Neal (who is as thick as brick) buries the body, steals the car, and assumes the dead man's identity. He picks up a sulky female hitchhiker - who turns out to have been the dead man's last passenger, and who therefore knows that Neal is lying about his identity. She blackmails Neal, demanding he take her to Los Angeles, so they can share the proceeds from selling the car. Tom Neal is a spineless whiner...

Jonathan Haidt's enlightening 2012 classic "The Righteous Mind" revisited

I first wrote glowingly about Jonathan Haidt's book in 2013, the year after it was published. It appeared at a time when right and left-wingers were seriously questioning whether their opponents were clinically insane - i.e. whether being a conservatives or a liberal was in fact a mental illness. (I may very well have toyed with the idea on this blog.) Jonathan Haidt - an American liberal-leftist - poited a different theory: the gulf between left and right-wingers is the result of fundamental, intuitive differences in moral outlook. His most interesting (and, let's be honest, pleasing) conclusion was that, when it comes to morality, leftists suffer from a severely restricted field of vision, whereas conservatives have a broader, more balanced range of moral concerns. This explained (to me at least) why the world-view of many left-wingers strike us as demented....