Back from Italy

February 1, 2007

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We arrived home late Sunday night from our week away, where I had a fantastic time in Italy. Seven days at Campitello Di Fassa for skiing at the Dolomites and then two days in Venice. I am definitely a city person – the two days in Venice were definitely the highlight for me!

I have many of the photos from the holiday on my flickr site and promptly found the 200 picture limit that a free flickr site has. So now I’m deciding whether to pay flickr for more room, or whether to put the photos somewhere else!

When I got home, a parcel from Amazon was waiting for me, containing the CD, Where’s Neil When You Need Him?. I’m really enjoying it. It’s great. It has 17 tracks by different artists, all inspired by the work of Neil Gaiman. It has new art by Dave McKean as well as notes from Neil about the songs and artists. You may be aware of my love for Neil Gaiman and his work (just see previous posts here and here). I’m already loving songs by Razed in Black, Future Bible Heroes, Voltaire with the Oddz, ThouShaltNot, Lunascape and Hungry Lucy.
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In other news, our flatmate Dani is moving in with her boyfriend so we spent much time on Monday and Tuesday nights interviewing potential new flatmates. We have decided on a guy who is a games tester with Sega. He seems really sweet and easy-going (and he has a couple of games consoles, including the new Wii!).


books, books, books, and films

January 18, 2007

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I have just re-read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fifth Harry Potter book). It is such a good read – and long, at over 700 pages – with lots of action and excitement. But JK Rowling portrays such annoying gender roles at times which I find really grating. The two main male characters, Harry and Ron, are hopeless at relating to girls and talking about their feelings, and the main female character, Hermione, often has to explain to them what is going on in the world of emotions/girls. It seems so outdated and unnecessary. But I look forward to when the film of this book comes out – the next Harry Potter film – sometime this year.

I also plan on reading the sixth book again soon, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. I came to the books kinda late and I’ve found a number of people who read each book as it came out, were disappointed with the last one (number 6). Incidentally, you can place an order for the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on Amazon, even though it hasn’t even been finished yet! I did read though that JK Rowling has had the last chapter of the book written for some time. They’re interesting and fun books, and I enjoy reading them but their settings are by no means original! They draw on so many other books – Dianna Wynne Jones’ books about Christopher Chant, all the English books about adventures at boarding school (I’ve been told to check out the Mallory Towers books to see similarities) and I’m sure there are plenty of others too.

Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books about Christopher Chant are great (well, to be honest, I’ve only read two of the books!). She also wrote Howl’s Moving Castle!

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**Barry just reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic – comics about a boy wizard.**

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In other books-to-film news, I read yesterday (on boingboing) that Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, is being made into a six-hour television mini-series, to be produced by George Clooney.

[photopress:diamondage.jpg,thumb,pp_image] I’m halfway through the book and stopped reading it because it is such heavy-going (or rather, I didn’t stop reading it, I just got distracted by other, easier-to-read books – I generally have many books on the go at once). I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and while I did enjoy the story, it was also slow-going. I like cyberpunk scifi but I just generally don’t find it easy to read at all (William Gibson’s books ditto!). The Diamond Age has really interesting ideas, and lots of cool stuff going on, I just don’t find it that relaxing to read! I hope I get to see the mini-series at some point. And I hope they do a good job.

Books I am reading at the moment:

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The Death of Faith by Donna Leon – a crime thriller set in Venice, lent to me by Paul’s Mum as it gives a good feel for Venice and we’re going there for a day after our week of skiing!

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – an autobiographical account of his life in his early twenties taking care of his younger brother after their parents both died of cancer. He is the editor of the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern journals, of which I’ve bought (and enjoyed) two (Issues 13 and 20).

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith – part of my ‘let’s read books set in London while i live here’ project. Zadie Smith is speaking at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) next week but I’ll miss it as I’ll be in Italy!

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Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee. I bought this after watching the film, the Hours on telly and deciding I needed to know more about Woolf’s life.

Then there’s the two books I bought from Amazon which arrived yesterday:

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


music, computer games and Christmas

December 21, 2006

It’s been much colder the last couple of days – even English people are commenting on how cold it is. There has also been lots of fog around – causing the cancellation of flights and slowing traffic down.

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On Tuesday I bought two albums: Public Warning by Lady Sovereign and Peakahokahoo by Piney Gir. Lady Sovereign is really fun, dancey hip hop and Piney Gir is sweet electronica with a bit of country mixed in. I really like them both (which was a relief as I had not heard either of them – I had read about them both). Apparently Piney Gir’s next album after Peakahokahoo is much more folky/country. Lady Sovereign has some great beats and great, fun, funny lyrics. I’d love to see her live. The album has a remix with Missy Elliot which is cool. I was dancing around the bedroom to it last night! It’s great to listen to music to and from work each day. It makes the drudgery of fulltime work slightly more bearable.

Lately I have started playing the ‘massively multiplayer online role playing game’ World of Warcraft! Paul plays it and I finally decided to give it a go. It’s fun but I find it a bit difficult sometimes as I’ve never been much of a player of computer games so I’m not that familiar with them so can’t really guess what I should be doing. I will probably keep playing it every now and then. I have been playing it when Paul is at work which means I do as much as I can and then I get stuck and need to ask him what to do next. When he gets home he simply has to get online and play!

On Saturday, Paul and I are driving up to Yorkshire to stay with his Mum and sister at their Great Aunt’s. There are no heaters in the bedrooms so I’m a bit worried about it. I hope i don’t get tooooo cold. I’m sure Christmas will be really nice but I have such negative feelings towards Christmas it is hard to get excited about it. I have had so many stressful Christmases that generally I wish I could just ignore the whole season. I hate it. Last year I spent Christmas with Paul’s family and it was lovely. Paul can’t understand why I hate it so much but I guess it can be really hard to shake off many years of bad experiences. Even with my family on the other side of the world I’m still having regular stressful dreams about them. Even those members I have good relationships with now, still cause me grief in my dreams.


new McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (issue 20) book of joy

November 21, 2006

When I got home from work on Friday, a wonderful parcel was waiting for me from Amazon. It was issue 20 of McSweeney Quarterly Concern.

It’s a beautiful, 199 page, hardcover book. About every 4th page is a picture of a painting. The rest is filled with short stories (I’ve only read one so far). Stuck in the back was a booklet with an extract from a novel (that’s coming out soon from McSweeney’s). It is soooooooo beautiful. I love beautiful books. I now own two McSweeney’s (the other one is issue 13, the comics issue, also hardcover and beautiful). I’d like to get Issue 17 which looks like a pack of (junk) mail and is filled with lots of stuff. I also want Issue 16 which I first saw in Australia at the beginning of this year and I thought it was really beautiful and innovative – it comes in a kind of fold-up folder with a booklet (or 2?), a (hair) comb, some large tarot-like cards with stories written on the back.

Actually here’s the description from a reviewer of Issue 16 from the above link:
“Fabulous short short stories presented in a most unique and beautiful way. This fabric covered book (although book really does not begin to describe this work of art)unfolds like a Gentleman’s travelling case – complete with comb! A magical publication and the perfect gift for an artistic soul. Take it on a train journey with you and drift away with the tall tales and then smarten up as you reach your destination.”


new McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (issue 20) book of joy

November 21, 2006

When I got home from work on Friday, a wonderful parcel was waiting for me from Amazon. It was issue 20 of McSweeney Quarterly Concern.

It’s a beautiful, 199 page, hardcover book. About every 4th page is a picture of a painting. The rest is filled with short stories (I’ve only read one so far). Stuck in the back was a booklet with an extract from a novel (that’s coming out soon from McSweeney’s). It is soooooooo beautiful. I love beautiful books. I now own two McSweeney’s (the other one is issue 13, the comics issue, also hardcover and beautiful). I’d like to get Issue 17 which looks like a pack of (junk) mail and is filled with lots of stuff. I also want Issue 16 which I first saw in Australia at the beginning of this year and I thought it was really beautiful and innovative – it comes in a kind of fold-up folder with a booklet (or 2?), a (hair) comb, some large tarot-like cards with stories written on the back.

Actually here’s the description from a reviewer of Issue 16 from the above link:
“Fabulous short short stories presented in a most unique and beautiful way. This fabric covered book (although book really does not begin to describe this work of art)unfolds like a Gentleman’s travelling case – complete with comb! A magical publication and the perfect gift for an artistic soul. Take it on a train journey with you and drift away with the tall tales and then smarten up as you reach your destination.”


Weekend of friends and joy

November 14, 2006

I had a really good weekend with lots of catching up with friends – quite a contrast to the previous weekend. On Saturday Paul and I went to Brighton for my friend Di’s housewarming. It was lots of fun. We saw Di and her boyf and new flatmate, Adam, and George (who we met through Lucy). It was a great night. We got the train back Saturday night because Paul had to work Sunday.

On Sunday I had lunch with my old school friend Adrian. And in the afternoon/evening I caught up with some uni friends (Carol, Alissa, Claire, Matt, Angela). Carol lives in Edinburgh now, Matt is now working and studying in London and his girlfriend Angela is studying in Aberystwyth. Alissa and Claire are still living in Brisbane but have come over to Europe to travel for a few months. There is another guy I know from uni who is living in London and I’ve been meaning to contact him but I haven't gotten around to it yet. My friends Monica and Dave are currently in Spain, learning Spanish and planning to go in search for Mon’s biological father (whom she has never met). They are coming over to London for three days in January. I really can't wait to see them.

Last night (Monday) I went to see Wicked with Carol and Alissa. It was a really cool musical about the Witches of Oz. Here is the summary from Amazon about the book: “An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.” I have now added the book to my Amazon wishlist. Speaking of which, I have recently ordered a couple of books from Amazon. One came and it was great: Castle Waiting by Linda Medley. A great, fun, feminist fairy tale graphic novel in a beautiful hard cover book. The other order was McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Issue 20, which sounds really awesome but it hasn’t arrived yet. I can’t wait. Today I was reading the other McSweeney’s I’ve bought (the comic edition) which is really great. It has extracts from heaps of graphic novels, including ones I have read about and want to read.

At my drawing class tonight, the regular teacher was sick and I quite liked the stand in guy. I felt his feedback was more constructive than the usual teacher’s but I still find it hard having to show my drawings to others and having them criticised.


Kurt Cobain Journals by Kurt Cobain

June 13, 2004

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Kurt Cobain Journals
I’m quite a fan of Nirvana’s music – I can really relate to the sad moaning about disillusionment, self-hatred and disappointment. Being a big journal-writer myself I was excited when I heard that Kurt Cobain’s journals had been published but I also wondered whether we had any right to read them. That didn’t stop me purchasing them and the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath with some book vouchers I had been given – though I did wonder about my state of mind when I realised I was purchasing work by people who had both committed suicide. Read the rest of this entry »