giovedì, maggio 15, 2008

Bouncing around

I think the F-word's father really wants him to move back to Australia - he sent a bunch of tourist brochures and stuff from the area we're thinking about. It's rather sweet. I don't like being so far from my own parents, but they have three other kids and then the grandkids - the F-word's father only has the F-word.

But that is for the future. In the present, we're trying to work out our summer holiday, which now looks like it will be an Amsterdam/Hamburg/Copenhagen trifecta. We thought about the south of France, but I think work may send me to Lyon in August when the F-word can come, and I know work is sending me to Marseilles in September, when perhaps the F-word can come. Better to get the tourist destinations subsidized whenever possible, especially during their peak summer seasons. The Copenhagen thing is a bit strange because I'm going on a week-long work binge/tour through Sweden and Finland - fuck - really soon actually. I never expected to spend that much time in Scandinavia, certainly not all in one summer. And now it means I have a moral obligation to get my arse to Norway so that I will have seen them all.

But delving far, far back into the misty past of Mistress La Spliffe . . . call it hubris but I have to strip back a full eleven years to find a real regret, or at least one I can remember, and it has to do with turning down the chance to live in Copenhagen for awhile. When I first left home as a teenager, it was for London, for a live-in job I'd accepted from Canada so my parents wouldn't worry about me too much. It was crap, so I went to an agency for such things once I got there. They offered me two options on the spot: another live-in in London, or else a contract in Copenhagen, where my 'work' would consist of looking after two dogs in a downtown flat. At the time I thought I was allergic to dogs, and I wanted to stay in London, so I made what I now conclude was the wrong decision. London is just a big fun city that's more expensive than other big fun cities, and the year or so I spent there didn't teach me anything that spending a year or so in some other overpriced big fun city would have taught me. And Copenhagen . . . well . . . anyways, we're going there now, and I don't have to look after dogs to do it this time.

Less tangled-webbedly, I think it will be really great to go to Scandinavia in a couple of weeks and then again in early July so I can enjoy freakishly long days. I have SAD, so I can't wait to get fuckin' sun-bombed for 20 hours at a stretch. Wheeeeee! Bring on the amphetamines. And giving Brussels its due, I'm really enjoying the freakishly long days here too - we're farther north than my part of Canada, so in proportion to the degree I wanted to shoot myself all winter, I want to giggle and play outside now.

mercoledì, maggio 14, 2008

Weeded out

Goddamn it, got up to Episode 10 of Season 3 of Weeds, and it's just gotten too fucking silly, even for me and my post-nine-to-five need for pap. Thank god for Television Without Pity. Although at the moment I don't even care enough to read about what happened. Nancy has turned into a complete idiot and all the other characters are no fun anymore.

I hate this about 'quality' American television. Take a neat premise, a good cast, some tangled skeins and developed characters - go through them and then once they're all sorted out, just keep on truckin' until nobody's watching anymore and you get cancelled. Endless trucking is alright for low-concept television because formulas are endlessly variable through tiny shifts and changes. But with high-concept television with realistic characters it doesn't work at all. Not just because of plotholes. Also because it's obvious that no real person is going to be as stupid as high-concept, 'realistic' television characters need to be to sustain highly dramatic plotlines for years and years at a time. And if they were going to be that stupid, they aren't the sort of people I feel like looking at for 27 minutes a pop.

Just quit, goddamnit. Quit after two seasons and recycle the set and actors. The English do it, and they still turn some sort of profit, I think. Sell more merchandise, for god's sake. Bongs with the characters' faces on them. Sex toys modelled after cast members. Members. Hah. Anything but this ridiculous, extended, intrusive-life-support system in place now where the shows last fucking forever until I can't even remember the good times anymore.

martedì, maggio 13, 2008

Summer days


In other news, feeling really gross this morning about Omar Khadr. It's a nasty precedent for two countries to set. As someone who wants to make babies when she gets a spare moment, I don't want them going to prison until they're old enough to know what they're doing to put themselves there. And I'd like to think the country I'm usually proud of coming from would support me in that ambition. Oh well, at least my hero Dallaire is on the case. When did he get to be a senator? When did I stop reading Canadian news?

Last night I got high chez San Francisca and decided to take a 'shortcut' home that I thought would have fewer cars on it, not having cycled high in some time. Fuck, it's nice to be high and on a bike on a summer evening. Which is lucky, because I got reeeeeeal lost. And fuck, it's nice to be high and on a bike on a summer evening, reeeeal lost. I felt like a sailor navigating an unknown Art Deco sea - knew which direction to go in more or less, but a little less than more. Brussels is really a beautiful city in the sunshine and in the warm, which the F-word and I are experiencing for the first time now. I could - well, I couldn't stay here forever if the weather was better. Or could I. Let's face it: we'll never know. But I could love this place a lot more if it was summer a lot more.

lunedì, maggio 12, 2008

Thrillers are like life

Oh, puke. I cannot stand the way this show makes women act like retards with a guru. "Women feel like they're watching themselves"? Do you live like that? Do you fucking want to live like that? I can't even begin to think about it without wanting to explode in a torrent of pseudo-Marxist ranting that would touch on the shoddy purchasing power of 80% of British women, the way credit enslaves the middle and lower classes, the idiocy of vastly overpriced ready-to-wear brands, and the nauseating fact that this story is in the same paper giving us news about 10,000 dead Chinese and a kajillion dead Burmese. And that would be unseemly because I quite liked the first season.

So moving on. The Ministry of Fear was great. The transparent plot twists were not the point, and the story wrapped up with something that wasn't a plot twist so much as a natural evolution of the story that nonetheless kneecapped me. It was very, very good, and seemed to be not so much a spy story as a study of pity, like The Human Factor was a study of loyalty and The Power and the Glory was a study of duty and The Quiet American was a study of prejudice or innocence or something.

The thing is, as far as a spy novel or thriller, it's not great at all - not just because of the transparency of the plot twists (perhaps they were opaque in those days, like how Agatha Christie could surprise people back then). Also there are big gaping holes in the plot, holes that make Weeds look like tightest-wound skein of television you can imagine. Why such a likely pass-phrase for the cake? Why stage a death to frighten Rowe away? Why put him in the loony bin instead of finish the job the bomb started? Tonnes of holes. But it's still a great book, because it's such a great and believable study of the inescapability of pity and moral - what's the word? - you know - when something isn't black or white. Moral Mediterranean-ness.

And what I wonder is - a 'thriller' with that many holes, that transparent a plot - would it find a publisher today? I doubt it. Or if it did, not the sort of publisher who would promote it as a work of genius. How many Graham Greenes are there floating around out there with all sorts of important things to say about our human factors, but who can't express them in the sort of tight perfect-plot writing we expect now?

domenica, maggio 11, 2008

My hero

Nice, restful weekend, much of it spent outside in the creepily wonderful weather. This is like last year, which saw a beautiful, beautiful, creepily warm and sunny April, followed by 12 months of mushy shitty weather. I guess the summer weather is moving surely but surely back towards the summer? We'll see. The prognosis is good for the rest of May so though it's creepy that it's summer so early I'm going to enjoy the fuck out of it while it lasts. Sleeping naked and no sleeves at the office! Wheeeeeee! Fuck clothes.

In terms of productivity the F-word outstripped me by far this weekend. While I ran around outside learning to use the boomerang he got for his birthday, watched most of the rest of Weeds, fell in and out of a doze during The Fog of War (though I have a feeling it was pretty good), read the first half of The Ministry of Fear (finger lickin' good so far, though it's one of the more unlikely of Graham Greene's books - the plot twists are not the point in his writing but these ones are a little too transparent) and came to understand the massive but enlightening mindfuck that is my Japanese abacus and the idea of complementary arithmetic (why, oh why didn't someone show me this shit when I was a child?), he achieved much of the same (book titles changed and he's leaving the abacus to me) BUT ALSO figured out how to make pasta.

I try not to be a food snob. I believe the small amount of time most Westerners spend on food is overall a good thing rather than a bad thing, because you can't escape the fact that when we spent a lot of time on food, it was actually women who were spending a lot of time on food. I love good food, but women have minds that are too flexible and fertile to be confined to the kitchen while men's monorail brains run the rest of the world. That's why, while I'm no fan of McDonald's or any other fast food chain, I thought Super Size Me was reactionary, gimmicky shit whose subtext, if not surtext, was all about how women should fuck off back to the kitchen and rescue their families from obesity.

That being the case, I nonetheless have to say: when someone else is making it, home-made pasta is totally worth the trouble. It shouldn't be. What the F-word learnt to make was just the straight, Southern Italian semolina and water pasta - just a special kind of flour and some water - exactly the same ingredients as in packaged pasta. But, I think because homemade pasta is just hung to dry for an hour or so whereas packaged pasta is industrially dried until it's very brittle, the homemade pasta is a much, much nicer consistency and soaks up the sauce so much more effectively. It is so fucking good. I'm the luckiest girlfriend in the world.