Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spriggsblog Goes To The Library

Quotation Of The Day:  Anthony Powell -- Books do furnish a room

This being part the next in our year end wrap-up, and today we deal with this year's books.

As i said earlier, i'm a list freak, and i keep track of what i read. Here's the 2011 bunch:

Jan. 10:  Ian Rankin – The Complaints
Jan. 15:  Roberston Cochrane – The Way We Word
Jan. 22:   Robert Barnard – A City Of Strangers
Jan. 29:  Alex Games – Balderdash And Piffle
Feb. 5:  Ian Rankin – Knots & Crosses
Feb. 20:  Ian Rankin – Fleshmarket Close
Feb. 27:  Robert Barnard – A Scandal In Belgravia
Mar. 8:   Michael Hall & Brian Proffitt – The Joy Of Linux
Mar. 18: P.G. Wodehouse – Full Moon
Mar. 25: Ian Rankin – Hide & Seek
Apr. 2:  Ian Rankin – Let It Bleed
Apr. 11: Robert Barnard – Touched By The Dead
Apr. 26: Kingsley Amis – The Old Devils
May 1: Julian Barnes – Pulse
May 12: Ian Rankin – Watchman
May 20: Nick Hornby – Slam
May 26: Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr & Martin H. Greenberg – 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories
May 31: Julian Barnes – Flaubert's Parrot
Jun. 5: Ian Rankin – Tooth And Nail
Jun. 16: Ian Rankin – A Question Of Blood
Jun. 28: Graeme Thomson – Under The Ivy: The Life And Music Of Kate Bush
Jul. 7: Nicolas Freeling – Not As Far As Velma
Jul. 10: Anthony Burgess – One Hand Clapping
Jul.21: Ian Rankin – Dead Souls
Jul. 28: Bruce Chatwin – The Songlines
Aug. 16: Emilio Raggi, Keir Thomas, Trevor Parsons, Andy Channelle & Sander van Vugt
                           – Beginning Ubuntu Linux
Aug. 27: Ian Rankin – Black & Blue
Sept. 6: Ian Rankin – Mortal Causes
Sept. 16: Ian Rankin – Doors Open
Sept. 26: Martin Myers – The Assignment
Oct. 9: Nancy Edmonds Hansen – How You Can Make $25,000 A Year Writing (No Matter Where You                       Live)
Oct. 17: Nicolas Freeling – A Dwarf Kingdom
Oct. 28: Ian Rankin – The Impossible Dead
Oct. 29: Terry Deary – Horrible Histories: Stratford-Upon-Avon
Nov. 12: Ian Rankin – The Naming Of The Dead
Nov. 20: Ian Rankin – Strip Jack
Nov. 22: Michael Ondaatje – The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid
Nov. 26: Julian Barnes – The Sense Of An Ending
Dec. 11: Northrop Frye – The Great Code: The Bible & Literature
Dec. 14: Lin Carter – Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord Of The Rings

Now, a lot of these were books that i read for the second or third time.  Of the new ones, the perceptive reader will note that i've been on an Ian Rankin binge.  He's been writing since the 80's but i only discovered him a few years ago and i've been grabbing up everything i can.  Unfortunately, this has lead to a problem:  i've read so many of his books in such a short time, i sometimes can't remember which was which.

Another favourite writer is Julian Barnes (  I've read three of his books this year -- an oldie but goodie ("Flaubert's Parrot") and two new ones, "Pulse" and "The Sense Of An Ending."

And this year's winner is:  

To quote the review in The Globe & Mail: it's "a meditation on memory and the way the past is reconstructed to suit the needs of the present."  It also won this year's Man Booker prize so someone, at least, agrees with me (first time for everything).

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Spriggsblog Goes To The Movies

 Quotation Of The Day:  Billy Wilder -- An actor entering through the door, you've got nothing.  But if he enters through the window, you've got a situation.

This being part 2 of my year-end wrap-up, this edition dealing with the movies (or more accurately, the DVDs)  i have watched this year.

Well, i'm a bit of a list freak, and i've kept track of everything i saw:

Jan. 11: 48 Hours

Feb. 8: Taxi Driver
Feb. 12: The Replacement Killers
Feb. 15: Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon
Feb. 27: Goodfellas

Mar. 2: Heaven
Mar. 9: Salt
Mar. 22: The Net
Mar. 30: 25th Hour

Apr. 12: The Ghost Writer
Apr. 13: Green Zone
Apr. 22: The Bourne Ultimatum
Apr. 23: The Bourne Supremacy
Apr. 24: The Bourne Identity (yes, i know i watched them in reverse order)
Apr. 26: Leaving Las Vegas
Apr. 27: Smilla's Sense Of Snow

May 1: The Adjustment Bureau
May 2: Romy And Michelle's High School Reunion
May 12: Eastern Promises
May 23: La Femme Nikita
May 24: Mean Streets
May 25: The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3

June 21: Duck Soup

July 19: Get Shorty
July 20: Salt
July 21: The Adjustment Bureau

Aug. 9: Inglourious Basterds
Aug. 17: Adoration
Aug. 24: Independence Day

Oct. 10: Sleuth
Oct. 11: Blow
Oct. 24: Source Code
Oct. 25: Candyman
Oct. 28: Frantic

Now, i love films, but what a dismal record since October!  There have been just so few evenings when i seem to have had the requisite two (or more) hours to spare, so i've been watching episodes of television series (on DVD), things like Father Ted, The Big Bang Theory (thanks, Jen!), Hill Street Blues and The Rockford Files.  Also, you'll notice that most of the above are older movies, most of them i've watched two or three (or more) times.

And i won't keep you in suspense, i know you're dying to know what was my favourite new film of the year.

Grabbing the top spot is  (ta-daaa) "The Adjustment Bureau" (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt).  But a very close second is "Source Code" (Jake Gyllenhall, Vera Farmiga).

Which kinda sorta leaves "Salt" in 3rd place, as it was (i think) the only other "new" film i saw in 2011.  And it was all right, lotsa action and very entertaining.  But there was something ... like when the character played by Angelina Jolie watches her husband be murdered and does nothing.

Th-th-that's all folks!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Year-End Wrap-Up, Part 1

Quote of the day: Richard Thompson -- We sing Hallelujah / at the turning of the year.

Right, well i haven't written anything in a bit -- primarily because, until Christmas Eve, i hadn't had a day off in ten days -- something i'm a bit angry about, actually.  But it's over and done.  And i had a super Christmas; i hope that you, my regular reader, had a great one, too.

I suppose it's not too early to start by "best of 2011" lists, but i'll start slowly -- with my favourite folk music CDs.

1. June Tabor & The Oysterband -- "Ragged Kingdom"

2. Bruce Guthro -- "Celtic Crossing"

3. June Tabor - "Ashore"

And special mention must go to "Another Christmas Present From The Albion Band."  But as it's live recording from 1986, i don't think i can include it.

And that's my top 3.  I don't buy a lot of folk music albums, although i love it.  But most of the performers i grew up with, are either no longer active, or are shadows of their former selves

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Today Is The Tuesday I Should Have Had Last Tuesday

Quotation of the day: Woody Allen -- She wore a short skirt and a tight sweater and her figure described a set of parabolas that could cause cardiac arrest in a yak.

Time constraints seem to have resulted in me only posting to this modest li'l blog o' mine on my day off, which, most weeks, is Tuesday, but there was no post last Tuesday.  Why (i hear you ask)?

First, last Monday, i started to feel the symptoms of a cold; by Tuesday it was full-blown and i spent the day coughing and sneezing (with eyes and nose streaming).  Poetic justice, really:  i was talking to someone at the pub last week about the 'flu shot -- i said i'd never had one and boasted that i hadn't had so much as a cold in about ten years (a fact i attributed to my healthy lifestyle: i drink and smoke too much and try to avoid fresh fruit & vegetables).  Three days later, aaaa-CHOOOO! Sniff, koff.

But that's not the only reason there was no new posting last week.  I had computer problems all day.  Again!  Good grief, i love computers when they work, but i seem to have so many problems with mine.

It began in the morning, when i discovered that i couldn't send any email.  I did some Googling, tweaked some settings, disabled my firewall, even power-cycled my modem.  Nothing.  Then i tried disabling my anti-virus and re-booting and ... Windows wouldn't load!  It loaded my wallpaper, but nothing else, no desktop icons or Start Menu, just the wallpaper.  I thought at first that Windows was lost altogether, but after five minutes, my screen saver kicked in so i knew that i still had an operating system, just no way to use it.

So i plugged my network cable in to my laptop and did yet more Googling (coughing and sneezing all the while).  I found a few possibilities, but nothing worked.  "Why," i cried in despair, "do my computer probs seem to be unique in the history of personal computers? Why?!?"  And i added a superfluous "aaaah-CHOOO!"

Finally, it occurred to me (with no help from Google) that maybe Windows Explorer had crashed when i re-booted earlier, so i decided to re-boot again, this time into "Safe Mode With Command Prompt."  At the prompt i ran "explorer.exe" and Eureka! (as Archimedes said).  Windows loaded.  Whew!  I'd just spent a fair chunk of the hard-earned on this compooter at the repair shop a few weeks ago, maybe i could avoid further expense.

It seems that i had two different problems, then, instead of (the premise i'd spent most of the morning working on) just one.  Whilst in safe mode, i ran an anti-virus scan, an anti-spyware scan, i defragged, i deleted temp files, all this diagnostic shit that one does on a regular basis (when one remembers).  And re-booted.

It worked! Hurrah! But .. i still couldn't send email.  GRRRRRRRRRRR!

I plugged the network cable back into the desktop and went to visit Mr Google yet again.  A couple of ideas came up:  i uninstalled and then re-installed both my firewall and anti-virus software.  Still no ability to send email, and then i discovered something else.

I use Thunderbird as my email client, Avast as my a/v program.  I went to an Avast forum and learned that Avast and Thunderbird are traditionally in conflict, something to do with the way each handles security settings.  I disabled Avast's email scanner and ... it worked.  I could send email again and all was right in the world.

But it was now almost 7 p.m.  I'd spent over twelve hours on it (and used an entire box of Kleenex), so i was in no mood.


And that's Emily Blunt to my left there.  She has absolutely no relevance to this post, i just wanted to cheer myself up :o)  Today, i'm having a good day.