Weekly Ramble No. 5

This week I have opted for an early post, prior to any weekend shit-giggles, because I know my activities will be curtailed by having to get up at silly o’clock tomorrow (Sunday for Christ’s sake) to get to Norway in time to meet some people to prepare for something important early on Monday morning. Was that vague enough? Good. I told you that I wasn’t going to talk about my work here… so onwards with the non-work related rambling..

I guess the first thing worthy of note is that I did some bone fide creative writing this week. Spewing around 10 pages out from my imagination, via scrawled notes in blobby biro, into the Word document holding within it’s ethereal borders my new novel. It doesn’t sound a lot, but trust me, sometimes 10 pages seems like a giant accomplishment to me.

I also did a lot of fiddling and tweaking of existing text to pare away some of the extraneous detail that just gets in the way of the story. During my re-read and person-tense conversion, I noted that I had managed not to describe any of my characters in even the sketchiest of detail so that got remedied this week. I also feature the country of Jordan for the first time, although it’s almost unrecognisable within a ‘dream’ scene. It’s great that what I need to do and what I don’t need to do to get a first draft of this novel finished is becoming clearer everyday I work on it. It isn’t a feeling I am wholly accustomed to despite it being my 9th long outing into the writerly weeds.

No Such Thing As A Fish continues to entertain in an audible format. I am working backwards through time and was delighted to hear guest presenter Rufus Hound’s explanation of where the theatrical term ‘break a leg’ originates from. According to Hound, and who could doubt him, the long wooden levers used to raise and drop curtains in theatres were called ‘legs’ and so if one thespian was wishing the other ‘break a leg’ it means ‘may your show run for ages/may you receive lots of encores’ i.e. enough to break the lever on the curtain.

Psycho by Robert Bloch was a brief but enjoyable read. I realise that the story is somewhat of a precursor to the likes of Fight Club although it seems that Norman Bates is aware that he is holding the personality of Norma in his mind, as opposed to FC’s narrator being mostly unaware that Tyler Durden is all in his head.

Indeed, the account of the psychologist’s early diagnosis towards the end of Psycho suggests a third personality in the form of child-Norman, so it could be considered to be more nuanced than Fight Club. Although the existence of a third personality doesn’t really come out in the book or film particularly strongly. That said, the pacing and characterisation of adult Norman’s introverted battle for sanity is excellent. I was also surprised how close the film adaptation stayed to the book (apart from changing Norman’s physical characteristics).

The final chapter written from the point of view of Norma is surprisingly creepy and suggests a more occult source of Bates’s psychosis that I can’t remember being properly rendered in the movie.

I’m still reading Bad Science on and off, but I’m finding it a little dry for my tired cranial walnut at bedtime. So instead I started on Haruki Murakami’s Wind Pinball a collection of his first two novels Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. After falling out of love with Murakami recently (see my previous posts) I was hoping that this vintage paring would satisfy my desire for some old school HM ‘action’.

It didn’t take long to read  Hear the Wind Sing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like he says in his forward, Murakami’s debut novel has a straight forward style with everyday life expressed in a simple and yet poetic fashion, unlike most Japanese authors at the time. There is a good mixture of stories within the eighteen day account but the core of it feels autobiographical. His skill as a writer is evident from the off and while there a few hints of the surrealism that was to come in his later writing the novel is clearly identifiable as being from Murakami. I’ll put Pinball, 1973 to one side for a while and get back to you on it.

I’ve been watching bits of Star Wars Clone Wars on and off this week, and it’s good to see the detail of the animation progressively get better as the episodes continue in Season 1. I have a lot of catching up to do, especially as I waste time on rubbish films.

The Legend of Tarzan was woefully bad in all sorts of ways – words like implausible, ridiculous and farcical spring to mind. Individually, the cast which included Alexander Skarsgård (unknown to me), Christoph Waltz (one of my faves), Samuel L. Jackson and the lovely Margot Robbie are generally good actors and indeed they all had some good bits in this film (Samuel L. Jackson in particular was surprisingly good) but somehow the sum of the parts created a lesser whole.

Here’s the trailer that really tries it’s hardest to sell what is a steaming pile of jungle dung:

It’s a shame because it must have cost a lot of money to make and involved some quite difficult filming on location, and I’ve no doubt that all the actors really wanted the film to be a big hit.

The creature effects were brilliant, but the CG buildings and ships were crap. The formulaic story telling was down right lazy all the way to the final ‘resurrection scene’ where Tarzan does what Indy did in The Last Crusade minus the hat. Also I’ve seen enough nature documentaries to recognise inaccurate animal behaviours. And saying that those gorillas aren’t gorillas but another more aggressive and vine-swinging species just sucks.

And finally… last night we went to see Ruby Wax in her new show Frazzled at the town hall. I went with no preconceptions or expectations and was surprised to find that most of the show was dedicated to the rather serious subjects of depression and mindfullness. Ruby has a new book out on the subjects. With comedic asides and a bit of hula dancing (I shit you not) Ruby extolled the virtues of practicing mindfullness and shared some frank insights into her experiences with depression.

Originating as I do from a family effected by mental health issues and having experienced depression first hand, it was good to hear what Ruby had learnt about the subject from her academic studies and also have a bit of a laugh along the way. The second section of the show was a Q&A session where the local audience got to have a bit of a chinwag with her. Ruby was quick to clear up some misconceptions around medication and the debilitating effects of the real disease that is depression as opposed to mild neuroses and anxiety issues. It is a fascinating subject and not something I can do justice to as I come to the end of this post, but I encourage you to read up and educate yourself about these often stigmatic issues.

For more information about what Ruby Wax is up to with her Frazzled cafes initiative in the UK please take a look here.

And on a lighter note, here’s an old interview with a would-be POTUS she mentioned during her act:

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