Archive for the ‘Navel gazing’ Category

Where oh where has the week gone? Suddenly it is Saturday afternoon and I find myself in a Malaysian restaurant in Hoboken. My first proper trip out in a week, and there were shrimp dumplings and tofu to celebrate. I’ve been under virtual house arrest studying all week so every day ran into each other. No lunches in the city, trips to the grocery store or sessions at the gym to break things up. It was my most pathetic foursquare week ever. Even Alex working from home on Friday because of the snow didn’t disrupt. We both sat in front of our laptops typing away, ignoring each other as we are dedicated to our respective causes.

That being said, I got a lot of studying done, and feel like I am starting to climb the mountain that is my humongous to-do list. I am somewhere around base camp at the moment but I’ve got my crampons and a rucksack full of Kendal mint cake so I am good to go. I’ve been reading Pliny the Younger’s letters – specifically the ones about his houses. Back in the day he didn’t have the benefit of MTV Cribs in order to show-off his properties, and since they were some distance from Rome he had to rely on correspondence to spread the word about his snazzy dining room with a pool in it so food could float towards his guests. It would appear that Romans are as lazy as New Yorkers when it comes to going anywhere above 59th Street (I am sorry the Upper what?). All this reading about lush villas and neglecting my foursquare account got me thinking about Romans and social media. Given how much Roman life relied on (and relished) self-promotion I think they’d have enjoyed Twitter and FaceBook but I reckon that foursquare would have been pretty dangerous.

Sure it would have been fun at first. Everyone checking into the Senate, temples or their patron’s house. Vying to become mayor. The excitement of a shiny new toy to highlight how important and cool you are by where you have been, and badges to collect! There so would have been a ‘Crossed the Rubicon’, ‘Britannia 4 Life’ and ‘I’m on a boat & not coming back because I’ve been sold into slavery!’. But, things would get bloody. There would be generals invading Gaul just to get the ‘Marauders’ badge. Suddenly foursquare rewards would rival a triumph or war loot. Imagine a prominent politician not being the mayor of his own home. Some underling who visited his house regularly stealing it. Oh the shame.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Pliny didn’t have access to modern social media tools as he would have been an oversharer, and I’d have even more things to read.

I should be studying but my brain isn’t quite engaged, and I am spending the whole of tomorrow in the city so I’ll have plenty of time to catch-up and post to my seminars then. I’ll be specifically hunting out cafes without wifi because the internet is just to distracting for the weak willed. Today for instance I stumbled upon Amanda Palmer doing a live Q&A with Berklee students, and by stumble upon I mean I found it on Twitter (greatest time suck ever!). Anyway, tomorrow is going to be an arse of a day as I’ve a doctor’s appointment at 7:30am, lunch date at 1pm, and then a dinner out of the city in the evening. Not sure how I’ll make it through the day without my afternoon nap. Perhaps my ex-office will let me sneak in and have 40 winks in a conference room. On second thoughts maybe not…

In the last few weeks things got rather congested on the Netflix DVD front, whipping through the Instants, but I had Johnny Mnemonic and Robin Hood lingering on the coffee table for weeks. Then Thanksgiving came along and we got back on track (sort of).

Robin Hood (2010 – Dir. Ridley Scott)

The fact that I loved this film is something of a no brainer: Robin Hood myth plus Ridley Scott’s stunning visuals. Like all Brits I grew up with the Robin Hood myth as a bed time story, and over the years I’ve seen many films and TV shows based on it. Some good, and some shockingly awful. What I loved about this version is the way they reworked the story by separating out Robin Longstride and Sir Robert Loxely into two characters, and then weaving them back together. Cate Blanchett was a solid Marion, and the comic banter between her and Robin (Russell Crowe) had a light enough touch that it did not stray into Men In Tights (shockingly awful) territory. It was a stroke of genius to bring the politics of the Northern Barons into the mix, and given that Scott hails from the North-East I am sure he relished the opportunity to march on the South. The supporting cast are stellar, particularly Eileen Atkins as Queen Eleanor and Mark Strong as the francophile villain Godfrey.  There aren’t many films that I want to buy on DVD but this would be one of them, and I hope they make a sequel.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008 – Dir. Robert B. Weide)

HTLFAAP is based on the memoir, of the same name, of British journalist Toby Young who came to New York in the 90s armed only with his acerbic wit and poor social skills. I’ve watched this film twice. Initially I had no idea who Toby Young was, and found it to be a vaguely entertaining tale of a duck out-of-water crashing his way through the New York celebrity social scene. The second time, thanks to my obsession with Top Chef, I knew exactly who Toby Young was, and I enjoyed it much more as it is a spot on character study of Young. Simon Pegg nails Young’s mannerisms, and I can forgive everyone else (Jeff Bridges, Gillian Anderson, Megan Fox, et al) sleep walking through their roles. This film is a not-so private joke that is much more entertaining when you know who Young is. I have a feeling that the memoir was watered down for the film so I’ll have to hunt it out on the Kindle store.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010 – Dir. Edgar Wright)

SPVTW is kind of like HTLFAAP in that is you are familiar with video games (or the comic the flick is based on) then you will get a lot more out of it. Pilgrim is a 20-something slacker who wants to be a rock star, and date Ramona Flowers; only to be a rock star he and his band have to engage in a battle of the bands competition, and to date Ramona he’ll have to defeat her seven evil exes. It’s a cute hipster-nerd fest with an endless supply of graphic tees, and a snarky script. It left me nostalgic for the 90s when I had magenta hair, and hung out at arcades with Alex (Sega Rally FTW!).

Dorian Gray (2009 – Dir. Oliver Parker)

This is an awful, AWFUL adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novella. Given the cast and that it is a costume drama I thought it was going to rock or at least be a sumptuous feast. WRONG. I was equally bored and appalled by it – which is quite a feat in itself. I honestly don’t understand how they got it so wrong given that it such a simple (yet spooky) story: man stays young because he has an aging portrait in the attic. Read the book, and avoid this at all costs unless you want to spend 112 minutes clawing your eyes out.

Johnny Mnemonic (1995 – Dir. Robert Longo)

After a month on the coffee table I sent this one back without watching it. Saw it when it first came out and it was a so-so adaptation of a William Gibson story. I think Gibson’s book veer into unfilmable territory, and I have a feeling if I watched I’d be screaming “NOOOOOOOOO!” at the TV.

Snow envy

Posted: 12/01/2010 in Navel gazing
Tags: , , , ,

I have a touch of the insomnias at the moment. Starting to get real familiar with 5am. It’s dark, there are sirens in the distance, and as soon as I stir my nose starts running. So on top of insomnia I have this weird sinus thing going on. I can’t tell if it is a lingering cold or just adjusting to being in the flat all day long. When I was in the office I sneezed a lot, now I am home my nose keeps getting stuffy. Anyway, back to 5am when I am laying there, and once willing myself back to sleep has failed I of course reach for my trusty iPhone. Read the two or more emails I’ll have from my mum (she is the BEST email buddy ever), check in on my WordsWithFriends games, and then pursue Twitter. Thankfully I follow people on both sides of the Atlantic so at 5am my UK tweeters will have been tweeting up a storm about snow and student protests. I can ignore the student protests for the moment (not too sure what I think of them at the moment) but the snow is making me very envious.

I love snow, and posting photos of it on Twitter. The UK getting snow before me has caused a disturbance in the force. All we have at the moment is rain, and it’s not all that photogenic.

I am making my second roux of the day. This is how I roll now. Gone are the planning meetings, hundreds of unanswered emails, back-to-back conference calls and quarterly reports. Now the only fires I put out are actual fires (think tea towels resting on a hot stove top). After spending five years of stretching myself too thin it’s nice to be able to focus on things that actually matter: dead Romans!

The first few weeks out of work I felt dizzy about being free, freaking out that I’d done the right thing and missing my peeps from the office like crazy.  Not seeing my friends everyday is the hardest part about leaving (even harder than the loss of a pay check – go figure). I am giving myself a daily routine (most importantly no turning the TV on till after 5pm) and my seminar timetable got published on Friday so that gives me a hell of a lot of structure now. I’ve got three courses this year which means the potential for three seminars overlapping which is what happens next week – eek! Exciting times ahead.

I am in limbo at the moment. September is that kind of month. Fluctuating temperatures have me flip flopping between switching over wardrobes or hanging on for that Indian summer (that is always promised). Those pumpkin spice lattes that I desire right up until my first sip when I remember why I only have one per year. A DVR that is empty because the summer shows have ended and the new seasons have yet to begin. And of course, waiting on my school materials to arrive and quietly freaking out that this is my final year.

FINAL YEAR, bitches!

I can’t quite believe that I have almost got through this BA. Five years of juggling work and school, and ignoring Alex for most of the year. Just three courses (‘Greek Drama’, ‘Women in Classical Antiquity’ and ‘From Nero to Hadrian: literature & society’) are standing between me and graduate school. Oh that and learning some languages and GMATs. Fun times ahead, but at least I am a hell of a lot closer to my goal than when I started in 2005.

But instead I am contemplating going to yoga class as warm up for tonight’s pilates class. It’s just too hot and stuffy in the flat, and I might as well enjoy the gym’s AC. I am starting to go a little stir crazy in the flat.This obviously means it’s time to start looking for that part-time job or volunteer gig…

I spent some time out in my building’s communal garden but it was just too hot and my iPhone started to go bonkers so I figured it wouldn’t be wise start using my iPad. It’s hard to find places to go when you don’t want to spend any money plus our local Starbucks is always over capacity so impossible to get a table (plus their AC sucks). Right off to yoga-pilates I go.

I find myself wanting to exist in two homes at once: one lined with books and the other spacious and minimal. It is possible to have both if you have a large enough home except the reality is that I live in a one bed flat and can’t see myself living in anything bigger than a two bed in the next five years. Earlier this year we moved from a fairly large one bed flat to a smaller one bed, and since I’ve been at home more I’ve really started to feel the walls closing in on me. I am such a pack rat that it’s all my own fault. How can you feel anything but cramped when surrounded by over six hundred books?

So last week I made the snap decision to de-clutter through a radical de-booking, and that brought me more inline with the way Alex has been thinking about his books for a while. Part of me had wanted to keep them for my future offspring but when I thought about it more I realized that by the time I have any offspring reading technological will have moved on (we are already living in the age of Kindles and iPads – what’s next?). They’ll look at a paper book as something archaic like a stone tablet chiseled with Linear B (which lets be honest was a fairly cumbersome and inefficient way to transport content rather like our own traditional books).

On Friday I packed up the books, and then forced poor Alex to spend the weekend dropping them off at various non-profits. Now I have two bookcases to get rid of and will make my first foray on to Craig’s List. But ‘Project: De-clutter’ is not over I have started working on my closet and the rest of the flat.