Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shine On

Apoptygma Berzerk (I still haven't been able to get out of the A's in my listening project) covered The House of Love's '87 hit Shine On on their cover album Sonic Diary (06). It's a _very_ addictive track! That aside, this is a book post. As mentioned a couple of posts down, I managed to get back on the reading horse a while ago, and my progress is mind boggling at the moment.

Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived In The Castle was a bit of a disappointment. I don't really know what I expected from it - more of an adventure, I suppose, but instead I got a rather grim story about prejudice and bullying in a small US town. Don't get me wrong, it's not a _bad_ book, it was just not what I wanted to get out of it.

After finishing Jackson's outbursts, I read the third and last book in Maxence Fermine's color series. I loved Snow, which is the first one, so much I immediately had to buy the other two once I'd finished it. The Black Violin was not as good as that one, but still a good read. The final book dealt with yellow, The Beekeeper. As with The Black Violin, I can not say I was blown away by it, but it was closer to what I loved about Snow. I'd recommend Snow to anyone, but you can easily live without the last two books.

After The Beekeeper I picked up a couple of Ian McEwan novels and took them with me to Norway for the weekend. I've previously read The Innocent and the short-story collection Between The Sheets by this author, and off course I've seen Atonement (not yet read it, though). But The Comfort of Strangers. Fucking hell! (Sorry about that.)

The reviews on the cover likens McEwan to a skilled torturer barely allowing his readers a moment of relief before drowning them in darker despair. I have never, ever agreed more with a review. This story is, from beginning to end, impossible to not get carried away with, and upon reaching the conclusion I physically shrank into a tiny pinpoint in the Gardermoen airport, emanating what I assume was a pretty tragic sound as the world collapsed on the pages. (Metaphorically speaking, it's not about the end of days or anything...) I'll not give away the story line, but if you're up for a quick read sure to keep you entertained, this is the book for you.

The second McEwan book I took with me to Norway I almost did not want to read, as I was totally exhausted after the previous one. For You turned out to be quite clever, not so much in the story it tells, as in the way it is told. The book is built up in the form of a libretto, where the characters narrate their way through a rather tragic story. Because of the way it is built, you get very little insight to the inner lives of the characters, but it's an interesting experiment and very quick read. I think it took me 25 minutes to get through, if even that.

Leaving McEwan for a while, I dug into The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, a book I bought quite some time ago, but have been looking forward to read. After the long procession of realistic characters in my previous reads, it is very nice to once again sink back into the arms of fantastic story telling where there are no laws or rules binding the universe to its normal behaviour. I've read about two thirds of it, and am hoping to finish it tomorrow. Will write a more in depth review when I return from London, no doubt with four-five more books I want to comment on :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Metronomisk Liv

04:40 is way too early to get up in the morning, especially when going to a country one hour behind your normal time. I am half dead, half alive, very tired. Have had a _weird_ day.

Sometimes I wish I knew when to quit, but then again, some things are worth not giving up on.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Way To Die

Bond trivia:
The cooperation between Alicia Keys and Jack White on the main track for Quantum of Solace is the first duet to feature as leading track for a Bond film. Whether or not it is a good cooperation seems to be the source of no small amount of debate, but I kind of like it. I love artist collaborations in the first place, and their voices complement each other well. It'll not go down in history as one of the great Bond themes, however.

So, what did we think about the film? I'll try not to spoil anything for anyone, but if you're worried, watch the movie first, read later.

First of all, I was stressed as hell showing up to Tennispalatsi, and after hoarding 12 JD's through the process of getting tickets and ordering beers (thankfully, after almost a year of running Movie Nights, I have some excellent regulars to help me), it was good to just sit and talk about films and music and life in general for an hour or so.

The opening of the movie was a bit much. The extreme high-speed scene changes almost made me dizzy, and at times it was difficult to even recognize a fight was going on before someone ended up dead. Someone else than Bond, that is. Otherwise, although the film has been heavily critizised for not having a proper plot, I enjoyed it. Not anywhere close to being as good as Casino Royale, but it's a very entertaining action flick that was worth spending money on seeing in a good theatre.

That said, I was not impressed by the leading lady. The ginger Brit girl was far more interesting (plus her exit was a good tribute to Goldfinger), and it's a shame they went for the anorectic Halle Berry-ish lead. Contrary to popular opinion I kind of enjoyed the villain. Sure, he's not one of your average Bond bad-ass cripples, but he's cold and ruthless, and I loved how the story turned out for him in the end. Which leads me to Bond. James Bond.

Daniel Craig had me a bit spooked before seeing Casino Royale. I mean, a blond Bond? I was quickly converted, and although I still think there's nothing like the real thing (Connery, that is), Craig makes the character uniquely his own. His Bond is raw, varnished, dirty; a potential serial killer in the making. And man, is he good looking in a well cut suit...

So all in all, go and see this movie for what it is, an action filled Bond flick that won't change your life but keep you well entertained for the duration of it. Oh, and let me know if you want to go to Haiti! :)

PS. Note the pleasant kick to the US regarding how the weak dollar is the price you pay for war...

PPS. I think I'm getting fluish.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Passenger Seat

Day 2 of Elektrostat was not quite en par with the first night, but still very good. Highlights of the evening were definitely In Vein, with great sound and a new song, and Front 242 who rounded off the evening. We were all very grateful to Henrik for providing such a good line-up on his birthday ;-p

Sunday I finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne in Gardemoen airport, and man, was that a bad idea. Cried my eyes out and proceeded to board the plane looking like shit had hit the fan in a big way. Exceptionally good book, however, I found myself hoping and hoping so hard throughout the pages that things would turn out well, and the storyline takes several surprising twists. It is narrated by a nine year old boy whose family gets relocated through the work of his father, a commander in Hitler's Germany. It's also coming out on the silver screen soon, but I'd strongly recommend you read the book. It's a quick read that will stay with you.

I'm on a good reading roll in general, just finished reading Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions last week. It's about a writer who loses his family in an airplane crash, and how writing a book about a silent movie comedian from the 20's takes him out of his comfort zone and brings him back to life. The dialogue is brilliant, and written in a way I've not seen done before. At first glance it seems a bit difficult to follow, but the characters are so extremely well defined in your mind that the story is easy to follow. A truly brilliant piece of story telling that really gripped me, and I found every inch of me screaming for it to end well.

Am now reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It's been standing on my shelf for more than a year, so it's about time I got started on a proper reading spree again. So far it is not really what I expected, without that being a bad thing. Will review further once I've finished it.

My CD listening project is going rather well, although I am now stuck on Tori Amos and have been for a week or so. Alphaville also kept me busy for a number of days before that. To complicate things I've just received the latest Snow Patrol record from Amazon, and expect to be sidetracked by that one for a while. Not easy, this focusing on one thing business!

The last couple of weeks were in general horribly depressing and shitty, but things are picking up. I saw The Lake House on Monday, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, and although there was a serious logical flaw in the ending it was surprisingly good. Tuesday brought lemon chicken in Bar 9 with Deb and Quinn, and last night I went for Chico's dinner with Lotta. Today I'm taking Movie Night to see the new Bond movie, which will hopefully be a treat, and on Saturday I'm heading off to Tampere again, this time with Deb and a bunch of knitters.

Next week takes me to Oslo again for two days of work, and that'll go on for the overseeable future. I'm taking the first week of December off work to go to London and hang out with my brother, and am hoping to hook up with some friends and drink lots of ale while I'm there.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Come, Lie Next To Me

The first night of Elektrostat 08 is over with, and what a night it was:

Servoskudd - perhaps a bit inspired by Seigmen? Still very, very good, though, and would in fact have been worth the entire evening. I'll try to find their record today.
Trakktor - Nah... ok, they played with In Vein in Örebro, so I feel a weird sense of companionship, but still... nah.
8kHz Mono - Definitely not. If you feel you need to do an entire gig with distorted vocals, you lose ten points with me.
Bobby - Hanne tipped me about these guys... and she was right on one point - not so right about the music. A poor version of Alphaville, harmless enough, but nothing to cheer about.
Gothminister - Bjørn & co rocked so hard you couldn't not love it :D The Thriller cover at the end basically lifted the roof.
Mr. Jones Machine - Kent'ish synthpop with double vocals. Some of the songs were brilliant, others were surprisingly boring. I ended up not watching the end, which is a shame as the songs that were good were, as said, brilliant.
Apoptygma Berzerk - The third time I see Apop. Off course you can't really dislike seeing S. Groth on stage, especially when he decides to charm you with your favorite tracks by the band.

I've just had a lovely breakfast, and am about to go out and explore my old city. I assume there will be yarn. This evening is night 2 of Elektrostat, and In Vein goes on stage 22:00. :)