Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Year End Wrap-Up, Part 2 -- Books

Quote of the day: John Lennon -- Another year over, a new one just begun

Back in the last century, before i bought my first home computer, i was an avid and omnivorous reader -- i would read at least a book a week.  (I had worked with computers in the late 70's and early 80's, but i'd long been out of the bizness.) (The old Nixdorf green screens, remember them?) (Running DOS of course, Windows wasn't even a glint in Bill Gates' eye at that point.) (Yes, i decided to give up good pay and working conditions to become a cook LOL.) 

Anyway, where was i?  I bought my first computer in, i think, 1999.  It ran Windows 95 but Windows 98 had just been released.  I remember it clearly: the man in the shop told me that i didn't need 98, as 95 couldn't possibly ever be surpassed.  What did i know?  I upgraded to 98 perhaps a year later.  And as one of my first Internet friends once remarked, "The Internet is TV for people who read."  My consumption of books has declined from one per week to one or two per month.

And here's everything i've read this year: 

Jan. 11 Anthony Powell – At Lady Molly’s
Jan. 31 Michael Dibdin – Dead Lagoon
Feb. 14 Nick Hornby – Juliet, Naked
Mar. 4: Anthony Powell – Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant
Mar. 18: George MacDonald Fraser – Flashman At The Charge
Apr. 6: Sarah Dunant – The Birth Of Venus
Apr. 22: Ian McEwan – Solar
May 4: Anthony Powell – The Kindly Ones
May 9: Thomas G. Aylesworth – Great Moments Of Television
May 20: Gareth Roberts – Cracker: To Be A Somebody
May 31: Anthony Powell – The Valley Of Bones
Jun. 19: Martin Amis – The Pregnant Widow
Jun. 27: Scott Adams --The Joy Of Work
July 6: Robert Hughes – Culture Of Complaint
July 15: Anthony Powell – The Soldier's Art
Aug. 7: Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master And Margarita
Aug. 17: Martin Amis – The Rachel Papers
Aug. 26: Anthony Powell – The Military Philosophers
Sept. 10: Paul & Beth Garon – Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues
Sept. 21: Anthony Powell – Books Do Furnish A Room
Oct. 3: Brian Payton – The Ice Passage
Oct. 11: Leonore Fleischer – The Fisher King
Oct. 15: P.G. Wodehouse – Bachelors Anonymous
Nov. 6: Margaret Atwood – The Year Of the Flood
Nov. 16: Anthony Powell – Temporary Kings
Dec. 7: Keith Richards – Life
Dec. 18: Anthony Powell – Hearing Secret Harmonies
Dec. 28: Robert Barnard – At Death's Door

(Yes, i'm a list freak, i keep track of stuff like this.)

You'll notice i read a lot of Anthony Powell -- all volumes in his 12-volume set "A Dance To The Music Of Time," a classic of 20th century literature -- read for a second time at the suggestion of my beloved Astrid.  (I started it last October!) She also told me that there was a BBC series devoted to the books, of which i had not previously been aware, and i've just started watching the DVDs.

And what, i hear you ask, was my favourite book this year?  Brian Payton's "The Ice Passage" came close -- in fact i wrote about it on this very blog at the time i read it -- but ultimately i have to say that my favourite book was:

A fascinating and enthralling read, "co-written" with James Fox.  I wonder how much of it Keef wrote himself?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas -- Fail

Quote of the day:  Benjamin Franklin -- I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong

I confess, i failed Christmas this year.  Not sure what went wrong.  It didn't fail me, but i failed it.

Normally, it's my favourite day of the year, a day of meditation and spiritual uplift, but for some reason that didn't happen this time, and i'm wondering why...?  (I'm also wondering why my font keeps changing....)

Possibly because the preceding week at work had been such a nightmare and i wasn't feeling all that sanguine towards mankind in general.  Possibly because, instead of watching a festive film in the afternoon i instead watched the devastating finale of "Between The Lines."  And also possibly because, as i mentioned in my previous post, i didn't listen to "Messiah" in the morning!

It was an okay day, though -- i mustn't complain.  I managed to sink a few glasses of my favourite bevvy
(oh, look! there's its picture!) and in the evening i stuffed myself stupid with turkey and ham and smashed potatoes and peas and gravy and then, apple crumble and ice cream.  I mean, count yer blessings and all that.  Most of the people on this poor old planet don't have food on their tables.  Heck, a lot of them don't even have tables....

And in the evening i watched "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"....

So it could have been a lot worse.

And we're getting ready for the end of the year wrap-up, so we begin with music.

Here are my favourite 15 CDs of 2010 (in no particular order):

Terje Rypdal -- Crime Scene
Slash -- Slash
Buddy Guy -- Living Proof
Peter Hammill -- Thin Air
Billy Talent -- III
Jeff Beck -- Emotion And Commotion
Florence & The Machine -- Lungs
Joe Bonamassa -- Black Rock
Keane -- Night Train
Sarah Fimm -- Karma Phala
Robert Plant -- Band Of Joy
Rory Gallagher -- The Beat Club Sessions
Richard Thompson -- Dream Attic
The Albion Band -- Natural And Wild
John Jones -- Rising Road.

(Once upon a time i would buy maybe 100 CDs a year; i think i bought about 35 in 2010!)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Get Up! (Christmas Morning Diary)

Quote Of The Day: Jay Leno -- The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I hope Santa was good to you all.

My Christmas Day is starting off in fairly traditional fashion, with the spiced rum 'n' eggnog and cashews breakfast. I skipped listening to Handel's "Messiah" this year, though -- i listened to it every Christmas morning for years but to be honest, a couple of years ago i realised that i found a lot of it -- and it lasts well over two hours! -- really tedious.  A work of genius, no doubt, but life's too short.

I have, however, listened to my favourite Christmas album of all time, "A Christmas Present From The Albion Band" 
and it seems to just get better and better every year.
Right, well, i'm off now to listen to The Goon Show, "A Christmas Carol (with custard)," another favourite and another tradition. I may write more later, depending upon how compos mentis i am.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

Quote of the day: John Lennon -- War is over (if you want it)

Oh, i know, i haven't posted much lately.  It's the 21st century disease, lack of time.  But that should change soon, with the year end wrap-ups in the offing and now that all of the Christmas preps are complete.

And yes, i'm starting to feel the spirit

Sandra & Peter gave me a Christmas centrepiece today-- a floral thing of lilies, pine needles, butterflies (all made out of green, white & gold fabric) and beads and a candle in the middle -- it looks quite Celtic! I must get a photo of it.  I have it sitting atop one of my old computers (the only place i had space) and Catieboo is fascinated by it.  In fact i had the candle lit but had to blow it out -- she was investigating it and i was afraid she'd singe her nose.  I also (finally) got the Christmas lights up and some of them are blinky ones, and she's fascinated by those, too.
And i'm now listening to one of the Marillion Christmas CDs.  Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year -- hey, that's make a good title for a song ;o)