Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Theatrics and drama, real and otherwise

What can I say, just because the calendar rolls over from one year to the next doesn't mean life's about to let up on the pace front, is it? :) A new year brings new excitements and challenges! And this one's starting strong!

First things first though, the things I really ought to write about, because, after all, a big part of this blog is being a space for my thoughts on books and such. I don't think I can call them reviews, the bits I write about things I've read or watched. They're more impressions, I think. Anyway, firstly, the play!

Yes!! I went to watch a play! For the first time in I can't even remember how long!! I used to love plays! I used to even act and help direct plays! But that's more than a decade ago now, even before I started with this blog :). But yes, very excited about the opportunity to watch a play. Should definitely do that again.

On to the actual thing then, it was a fantastic production called Teddy at The Watermill Theater in Newbury. (Which is, well, somewhere in England, let's not get too distracted.) And the reason why it felt so awesome was in part the pace of the production, but also, and I think to a much greater extent, our proximity to and unique angle of view of the stage! We were on these balcony type seats practically on top of the stage on one side :).

There's something about plays, the sense that you are watching something unique, which may have been performed and practiced and honed again and again for days on end, yet each particular performance is not quite like any other. Especially this one as it entertained a fair bit of audience interaction. And rather cleverly played with the boundaries that lie between the audience, the narrator and the players.

The story itself seemed to be of much greater interest to those who have had some experience with (or understanding of) the post war years in the UK, but seeing how I'm about as far as you can get from that, I can confidently say that it was pretty nice even without any background, simply as an interesting story being presented very cleverly. And of course there was the choreography and music!

So there we have it. Why did we end up in England watching a play, well, all I can say is that birthday cakes were involved and a loooot of chocolate :D.

Might get easier to plan 'weekend trips' in a few days though! Looking forward to a reasonably long break. The first this size since before I moved to Norway!! Don't feel like I can say more about that just yet, but watch this space. Maybe, after all, my update rate will spike :D.

In the mean time, the snow continues!! Although there has been some injection of unwelcome rain and brief patches of above freezing weather that turns the white into ice. But thus far those stretches have been brief and more often than not quickly followed by more of the good stuff! Looking forward to pulling down the snowboard off the top of the cupboard some time soon.

Ha. I realize I had thought about writing something about the last book I read too. But seeing how it's a trilogy, and I didn't go completely ga-ga over the first book, maybe we give it another book or two before spending more keystrokes on it :).

Sunday, 31 December 2017

The year like none other

This has been some year :). Appropriately bookended by trips with/visiting the families in January and December! Somehow though, January feels like a very long time ago! Even more so than most years I'd say.

I suppose getting married is a pretty big deal in one's life, as such, that has rather overshadowed much else that has happened this year :). But there's been plenty of other stuff too!! Through one wedding or another, I've managed to meet up with more friends and family than in many years! And I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to catch up that those meetings presented, some more than others (the opportunities for catching up, I mean, not the enjoyment in said catching up :D).

One thing that was rather lacking was travelling just to travel, not to visit family :). Although there was that one fabulous trip to Croatia!

It's a shame really, in some ways, that I no longer seem to feel the compulsion to write down all the little details I so enjoy on trips like that. Maybe I should start again. We shall see :). Of course that would require some interesting travels, which incidentally is very much on the cards for 2018!

I probably didn't take as many photos as usual. Almost without realising it, I've succumbed to the phone camera pandemic... Then again, change is the name of the game that is life, so I try not to look at things through too much of a rose tint these days, with mixed success :).

Is accepting change a mark of growing up? Or growing old? I guess I'll settle for the in-between of  simply growing older :).

Another thing that I gave an almost total miss this year was cycling.. which is kinda sad. Something I'm looking forward to most definitely rectifying next year :). Although there was a reasonable amount of running. And this winter seems to have started off better than any I can remember since I moved here! The snow has been around more often than not all the way since November, and since we got back from England last Wednesday there has been so much snow!!!

We decided to celebrate by going cross country skiing for the last two days of the year :). And I'm happy to say that one winter of relatively less time spent on skis doesn't seem to have done much harm.

The trips to India and England went wonderfully, starting with a weather delay induced all inclusive holiday in Dubai :). Which is some ways was quite a good interlude before a very packed five days in Kolkata. The week in Harwell was rather more relaxed. I spent what seemed like most of my waking time eating awesome food or keeping watch over the fabulous wood fire :D. Can't think of many better ways of enjoying the end of the year.

Much has changed in the last year, and the feeling in my gut says more changes are coming :). But what a fabulous thing it is to discover new things in life :). So here's hoping for more joyful surprises and chance encounters making for an awesome new year!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Stories old and new

After a long time, I've ended up buying a lot of book in rather quick succession :|. Not a bad thing, per se, but an unusual feeling :). The majority of the books are Gaiman ones I've thought about getting but never managed, but others I'd never even heard of. Mostly graphic novels.

The Sandman stuff I have read, but never proper hard copy versions, so given the discount season going around, I got me the whole 10 volume set, plus my favourites outside of those, Endless Nights and Overture. I am soooo looking forward to reading them all again :). But while I was looking for those, I also found this!

Amazing concept I think, so that's what I've started exploring first!

But before that, I read the latest recommendation from the book club, The Art of Racing in the Rain. The funniest serious book I've read in a long time :). So full disclosure, I love dogs, and I love cars. I do not like tear jerking stories so much. This may or may not shed some light on the balance that the author has managed to strike in the book :).

I particularly loved the amount of time and space given to actual car racing and how well it is woven into the story! Totally awesome! Would I recommend everyone go read the book, maybe not. But if you are interested in a story that will happily pull you along with its ups and downs, give it a shot perhaps.

What else has been happening? Well, quite a bit and not a lot. There's slow preparations for the upcoming visit to India and the UK. Elation at the prospects of a holiday and meeting lots of family mixed with trepidation at much the same thing :P. But in the mean time, the snow has arrived!!! Quite a bit of it! Should probably see if I have some photos of it somewhere...

The question, as always, is if it will last.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The mists of memory and the wonders of forgetting and remembering imaginations

This time, I actually had a couple of things I wanted to really blog about, earlier in the month. But it would seem I've developed another habit. Even though I may have things I want to blog about, and I might even have a bit of time to do it, I figure, I might as well just put it in the post at the end of the month :). Oh dear.

A digression first though. This is the first time in a while I'm using a laptop to actually post, and it is brilliant!!! I mean, smart phones are very smart and all that, but an actual keyboard! Tactility, and the little clicking sounds as thoughts turn into characters :). I have missed this :D. OK, end of digression.

The one thing I definitely, absolutely have to share, is Blade Runner 2049. First things first, watched it, loved it. Right, so that's done. Now for some thoughts. I've watched Blade Runner before. Multiple times even, I believe. But somehow, the story itself never totally impressed itself onto me completely. 

One reason could be my memory of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The book it is supposedly (extremely loosely) based on. I say supposedly, because other than the most rudimentary similarities in the story, the book and film go in completely different directions. So anyway, I was left a bit aghast at the book. I discuss that particular experience briefly here. Yes, twelve years ago that was, and it has still left its mark, that book!

So when I saw the trailers and was reminded of just how much of a phenomenon the original film was, I thought I would refresh my memory. So we watched Blade Runner again. And wow was I underwhelmed :-|. I mean, the whole atmosphere building and all that was brilliant, and the idea of a post-apocalyptic future. But you really have to remind yourself that this was in the '80s to stop yourself thinking, "Come on! Really!?!" I also have to admit, I was sure the ending was different when I'd seen it before (unlikely, I know, but there you have it) but I liked the abruptness quite a lot.

So then we come to the new film. There wasn't really that much of a build up of anticipation. So maybe that explains why I left the cinema so happy! No, not with the almost three hour run-time, that was insane. But what a sequel! Somehow, the best aspects and themes from the first film survived, with a fantastic visual treatment. And minus excruciating philosophical monologuing towards the end :).

I particularly enjoyed the restraint on the part of the makers of the sequel when it came to copying the older film. The thing that has killed so many sequels for me before. I suppose it wasn't without its flaws, The length being one thing. But even there, it was nice to have the time to immerse into the visuals without being rushed along by an excess of action. (I must add here that I asked a friend who'd been to see the film separately how he liked it, and he hated the pace, saying it was way too slow :). Just thought I'd add that in here.) 

I have to say it was the most enjoyable film I've seen lately. And that's even when compared to Baby Driver. Which was an absolute hoot, but in completely different ways :).

The other thing I've managed to do is finish reading Smoke & Mirrors. I'd been at it off and on for months. That's the thing with short stories though. You can just stop and start. Although maybe in some ways keeping the memories of the different stories together adds something to the experience. And yes, I did feel this wasn't one of Gaiman's best works. I mean there were flashes of awesome. But there were also bits of somewhat bizarre. As in more than is usual is what I mean :).

I guess I like Gaiman's writing where he's had the space to unwind things out a bit. Created a bit of space to absorb all the different bits of crazy :). So now I'm on to Norse Mythology. Which strictly speaking isn't quite fiction... or is it? Hmmm.

Saturday, 30 September 2017


The switch from summer to autumn, while being an extremely visual thing in Norway, what with all the leaves changing colour and then rapidly disappearing, is also a distinctly psychological thing. Walking outside today, we noticed that while the temperature was about the same as a couple of weeks ago, suddenly both of us we expecting things to be a whole lot more wintery than it actually was!

I suppose soon that will be the truth and we'll be hoping things were the other way around, so really, this is a time to enjoy the light and the warmth, such as it is :-).

I'd forgotten how much fun Ikea furniture building is :-). Hadn't done one in years!

Spy books come in all shapes and forms, but having read Mick Heron's Slow Horses, I have a new favourite! I have to admit it took me a while to get into the style, but it really is quite gripping! And the twists and turns, while maybe not entirely un-guessable, did keep me thinking!