Month: July 2014

Edmond was a Donkey

 

Edmond was a donkey from Franck Dion on Vimeo.

A good brain shared this film and wrote a very insightful and interesting post on his excellent creative blog here: http://summerlad.com/edmund-was-a-donkey/

To said good brain I say this – Thank you for bringing me out of my slump.  I’m currently wearing a paper capital L on my head but I’m embracing it and off to find my pasture. (Oh and by pasture I mean Loser Lounge where I’m allowed to sit on an L-shaped sofa wearing PJs all day while I watch endless movies and eat cheesy Doritos and Quality Street washed down with case after case of perfectly chilled dry white wine for the rest of  my days without getting fat, getting a headache, getting cirrhosis of the liver or developing suppurating sofa sores.  BTW, it is always raining outside the window of Loser Lounge to remove any feelings of guilt at staying in and prevent the compulsion to go out for a walk or something equally absurd.) 🙂

This charming animation tells a tender and poignant tale that bears many great truths for many. In fifteen minutes your eyes will open and you will see yourself clearly and all your fellow donkeys.

‘Edmond is not like everybody else. A small, quiet man, Edmond has a wife who loves him and a job that he does extraordinarily well. He is, however, very aware that he is different. When his co-workers tease him by crowning him with a pair of donkey ears, he suddenly discovers his true nature. And though he comes to enjoy his new identity, an ever-widening chasm opens up between himself and others.’

Source of film and excerpt: http://vimeo.com/97122568

Skinny Bitch – Book Review

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Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Skinny Bitch is a sassy, sharp-talking, humorous, and at times, disturbing assassination of the crap that we put into our bodies. I have been an omnivore all my life but lately, for health reasons, I started thinking about and modifying what I eat. In researching how to be healthier, I came across Skinny Bitch. This book was a #1 New York Times Bestseller…in 2005ish and 2007 in the UK. It does seem like I was the last to know but I say ‘better late than never.’

If like me, you’re starting to think about what you eat and why and how it impacts upon you and the world around you, this is an extraordinarily light and accessible way into a veritable minefield of information. It breaks into bite-sized chunks a huge amount of topics ranging from nutritional content to health outcomes, environmental pollution and animal cruelty and government facilitated industry corruption that I am afraid are still only too relevant today.

The book is, for me, the right balance of enlightenment and humour until Chapter 6 where the authors quote too heavily from another book called Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz. In my humble opinion, supporting materials should be just that and not the body of a chapter. The authors are very honest about their use of this material being to discourage the reader from eating meat. In this vein, it is indeed effective because I haven’t even been able to look at a sausage roll since. On the other hand, using graphically distressing descriptions of extreme animal abuse and horrifying torture has prevented me from sharing an otherwise up tempo book with friends and family whom I am fairly certain will find the content too disturbing.

The writing style is punchy and interesting most of the way through. Chapter 9 delves into government and industry corruption a little too intensely and does become somewhat dry and turgid in comparison to the rest of the book. On the whole, this is a nice, quick read and the lively pace made me gobble it all up in around four evenings.

It is no small feat that Freedman and Barnouin have managed to communicate something as potentially dry as conscientious food consumerism in the voice of girlfriends having fun in a bar over vegan, non-alcoholic cocktails. In a sense they reversed the trickery of big industry marketing teams who present crap as good for us. The authors have presented something good for us in a format that makes us think we’re consuming a celebrity magazine, when in fact we’re learning how we can prevent suffering, reduce damage to our planet and feel altogether better by eating right, well and true. To me, it’s a pretty good message.

Skinny Bitch is an easy, enjoyable and worthwhile read. In the voice of the authors: ‘Just stop being a pussy and read it already!’

 

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Image source: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/genetically-modified-cows-could-fart-less/story-fn5fsgyc-1226311605016

 

Theodor Kittelsen 1857-1914, a Great Norwegian Artist

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Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon (White Bear King Valemon), 1912

 

 

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Soria Moria Castle, “Far, far away he saw something bright and shine.” 1900

 

 

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Die Pest Kommte (The Plague is Coming) 1896

 

 

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Gutt på hvit hest (Boy on white horse), 1890-1909

 

 

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Sorgen (The Woe), 1894-95

 

 

Kittelsen and Inga 1910

Kittelsen and his wife Inga, 1910

Scott’s Last Expedition – Review

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Scott’s Last Expedition, V1 by Robert Falcon Scott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year my partner and I took a trip to Northumberland. On our return to London we whiled away several hours in a magical antique book store in Alnwick called Barter Books. (http://www.barterbooks.co.uk)  I got lost in almanacs, girl’s coming of age tales, African adventures, poetry, biographies and many literary jewels.  Once I’d swamped myself behind a book tower, The Man chucked me a disapproving look of ‘we’ll never get all those in the boot’ and I began the job of narrowing down what I was allowed to take home with me.

Scott’s Last Expedition in two volumes gifted with love from Dorothy to Herbert in 1954, according to the beautifully penned inscription, was my prize.

I began reading Scott’s diary of the Terra Nova Antarctic expedition last July. It became my bible. I journeyed on an overladen ship that left New Zealand on 29th November 1910 and I stayed with Captain Scott until his last journal entry on 29th March 1912.

Even when I wasn’t reading it, the old, blue book sat on the bedside table and the sights and sounds of the expedition lived with me. In the bright white, ice crystals bit my fingers and my eyes were dazzled and then snow blindness would cure and I could see the Soldier cajoling a wilful pony called Chris into a harness. The dogs barked excitedly before Meares mushed them across a glacier. Skuas shrieked and emperor penguins gabbled. I tasted Clissold’s seal soup. I marvelled at moonlit Mount Erebus. I watched the aurora dance in front of the Owner and I walked hundreds of miles through freezing blizzards of bleak, long white.

Funnily enough, I have never taken the slightest bit of interest in adventurers and expeditions and man’s races to be the first or the pioneers of the world. But I was drawn in by RF Scott’s appealing, personable and beautifully prose-filled descriptions of Antarctica. I fell head over heels in love with the place and the people and the excitement and optimism.

Scott’s portrayal of the expedition is remarkably revealing in what it tries to conceal. He presents an impression of a team of courageous, intrepid, altogether good sorts doing sterling work and following his own flawless planning and command without even the slightest disagreement, in the name of King and Country. But this is a hard task to maintain and he cannot hide his anxieties entirely so when they are revealed there is a poignant intimacy that the author of this wonderful journal is lowering his guard and speaking to you.

Scott’s unerring outward denial of responsibility and lack of expressed doubt regarding the efficacy of his planning, serves to intensify the tragic quality of the final throes.

This is a beautiful book. It is not a novel. It contains wind directions, gale force strengths, temperatures, coordinates and geographical features. It is a physical description as much, if not more, than anything else. It cannot be read in one go.

It is a man’s life and should be digested slowly so that day by day, Antarctica seeps into your bones and you live the adventure. If you read this fascinating man’s journal, you will spot blue whales from the Terra Nova with Edward Wilson. You will pass a wall of blue ice in a small row boat, as it crashes into the Ross Sea. You will get to know the vital and brilliant men of one of the most controversial, daring and infamous adventures in history and in the last moments you will see the South Pole with Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

Scott’s Last Expedition is one of my greatest treasures. I cannot praise it enough. I love it dearly. I urge you to read it.  Be patient with it.  Savour it and share the adventure.

 

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Image: Captain Scott writing his journal in the winterquarters hut. October 7, 1911,  Photo: MASONS NEWS SERVICE, sourced here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/8979966/Captain-Scotts-team-ate-curried-horsemeat-for-Christmas.html

Just now

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Ash tree outside window

 

It is one o’clock in the afternoon. I am hungry.  My mind is drifting towards the beans and sourdough bread in the kitchen.  I have been sat still for too long at the £10 IKEA desk. One of the cheap metal wire drawers is collapsed. I should fix it but each time I do, it surrenders to the greater forces of gravity and the weight of paper.  The seat is an unwanted office chair.  A memory comes of my partner smiling as he wheeled the purple and yellow ergonomasaurus across four lanes of traffic at Waterloo.  I sat in the car under rumbling railway arches laughing at him.

A dull pain nags me in the back of my shoulder.  The voices of two bin men drift through the open window as they wheel away used cotton buds, squeezed teabags and stale bread crusts.  The sun is shining. Children are screaming and shouting from a nearby school playground.  The jets of a Boeing 747 are roaring less than one mile above my head.  A wood pigeon is cooing from the top of a sycamore tree in the garden.  Four crows are cawing and doing acrobatics between the branches of an ash tree.  A marble white butterfly flutters up the window.  The school bell rings.

No analysis.  No judgement.  Just now.