Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The other DVDs they've sent are After Hours and Ghost Dog. I hope Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch have their affairs in order.
UPDATE (1/8): This is getting weird. The last DVD we bought? The Passenger.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The wholesale rejection of "my" book is disturbing on two counts. First, it defies belief that people employed to read manuscripts for publishers aren't able to immediately identify any given work from any point in the history of literature, even if that work has been mocked up to look like a new, unpublished submission by an unknown author. Second, it demonstrates the lack of taste that is endemic in the publishing industry. These ignorant, clerk-type people with no literary sensibilities are being allowed to act as gatekeepers, and it is impossible to get quality material through. Not only did they knock back Gilgamesh - it's only been a classic for 4000 years! - but they've also rejected my original thriller The Field of Black Cabbages: A Detective Philip Spanx Novel. Philistines, the lot of them.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Here, from page 324 of The Order of the Phoenix, to give you a typical example, are six consecutive descriptions of the way people speak. "...said Snape maliciously," "... said Harry furiously", " ... he said glumly", "... said Hermione severely", "... said Ron indignantly", " ... said Hermione loftily". Do I need to explain why that is such second-rate writing?Luckily there are plenty of commenters on hand to refute Lezard's charge of a Potter-led "retreat into infantilism":
If I do, then that means you're one of the many adults who don't have a problem with the retreat into infantilism that your willing immersion in the Potter books represents. It doesn't make you a bad or silly person. But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost.
This is the kind of prose that reasonably intelligent nine-year-olds consider pretty hot stuff, if they're producing it themselves; for a highly-educated woman like Rowling to knock out the same kind of material is, shall we say, somewhat disappointing.
I mean COME ON PEOPLE for Christ's sake!!! Nicholas Lizard's just jealous of JK Rowling cos he couldn't write an exciting book that people love!! I bet the books he likes are really boring like Dickens and Shakespear.
She provides fun and excitement for kids and adults alike and what's wrong with that???!
And anyone who wants to 'review' and 'criticise' her books is just jealous and sad and you should just GET OUT MORE!!
Friday, July 13, 2007
The ABC ought to be commended for screening this important documentary. It was thrilling to watch as one by one the sacred cows of the gravity affirmation movement were beheaded, skinned, butchered, and minced into cheap burger meat. I have long argued that gravity is merely ghost story for grown-ups, designed to drum up funding for scientists and force the rest of us to use costly forms of mechanised transport when in fact we might, were we to ignore the nay-sayers and embrace a gravity-free existence, simply float through the air like so many dandelion spores. Down the Gravity Well makes a similar point and backs it up with science so hard you could bash a gravity enthusiast's head against it until he (or she - some of the worst ones are shes) bled grey stuff from his (or her) nostrils.
To give one example, gravity "experts" claim that the gravity exerted by Earth (the name of the "planet" so-called "scientists" allege we inhabit) can be expressed as 9.8 m/s2, where 9.8 is kilometres per hour and m/s is something just as unlikely and "sciency"-sounding. Yet Bamyasi points out that even in the models used by gravity affirmationists this rate of acceleration varies depending on lattitude. It seems even the "orthodox" "scientific" "community" is riddled with doubts about the equation 9.8 m/s2, yet they have the audacity to expect the rest of us to abide by its dictates whenever we wish to fall from a ladder or catch a sack full of anvils that has been tossed from a ninth story balcony.
Down the Gravity Well is equally strong on the political dimension of gravity affirmation. In one pivotal scene, Bamyasi interviews Brian McFadden, founder, executive director, research co-ordinator, OH&S officer, and janitor of the influential think tank The Brian McFadden Institute. According to McFadden, "Gravity affirmationists are consumed by a hatred of positive vertical movement. They cannot bear seeing something go up that does not immediately come back down to their own pitiful level. The fundamental tenet of gravity affirmation is that you and I and that painting on the wall and this microphone and so on are all subject to and complicit in gravity and therefore the same in some fundamental way. You can draw your own conclusions about the implicit politics of the theory, although I'll give you a hint: communism. The fact that gravitational influence is extended to encompass non-human and indeed non-organic objects is further cause for concern. It is almost pantheistic, an irrational religious substrata to the movement's more explicit social and political goals."
A strong argument well made, but sadly the film's message was blunted by the ABC's attempt at "balance". In his interview with Bamyasi, Lateline's Tony Jones came across as belligerent and biased. At one point he challenged Bamyasi to defy the so-called "laws of gravity" without assistance. When Bamyasi proved incapable of doing so, Jones practically crowed. Yet one suspects a set-up. Bamyasi has given demonstrations of his disregard for "gravity" on several occasions, including an unassisted flight over the Grand Canyon that was filmed for a cable tv special. Plainly, his credentials are not in doubt, so the question becomes: was artificial gravity produced in the ABC studios in order to humiliate Bamyasi? Were the filmmaker's trousers stapled to the chair? Next Jones will be telling us that Bamyasi didn't make the Statue of Liberty vanish, or that he isn't married to a German supermodel! Such are the delusions of the chattering classes.
Despite Jones' antics, I reiterate that the ABC deserves every plaudit for broadcasting Down the Gravity Well. Bamyasi's film is doubtless unpalatable to many, but then the truth often is. The director's next project, a documentary refuting the existence of the Atlantic Ocean, promises to be just as contrarian, and just as powerful. One hopes that the ABC will again put its ingrained prejudices aside and allow the truth some airtime. One also hopes that Down the Gravity Well has dealt the cult of gravity affirmation a fatal blow. I write this sitting at my desk, weighed down by centuries of superstition and propaganda. Perhaps you, however, are reading it while floating around your room - around your city, your world. Perhaps you are free. And I'll bet the air really is better up there.
Friday, July 06, 2007
The book is written with consummate competence. Characters are introduced and described, conversations take place, chapters begin and end with calming regularity. The main character, for whom the book is named, is skilfully drawn, although his hanging and quartering leave much to be desired. The story is well plotted and not once does the author give away the surprise ending – not even at the end.
In comparison with other recent major works, the present book is slightly less good than the one about the suburban family who are superficially perfect but in reality are a seething mess of resentment and hatred whose empty lives are emblematic of the modern human condition let’s all kill ourselves; on the other hand, the present book is slightly more good than the one about the guy who is middle-aged and going through a crisis that mainly involves having an affair with a younger woman and experiencing extended sequences of remembering stuff from his youth.
If I had one complaint about this book, this paragraph would be several sentences shorter. Despite its well-writteness, the book’s success is undermined by its author’s insistence on showing off. Time and again the reader is confronted by incomprehensible foreign words and phrases (“The maitre’d handed me a menu”; “Zis is – how you say? – most désagréable”; “Nine!”). Then there are the in-jokes and word-plays, the most egregious example being chapter eight which is written entirely in semaphore. In addition, the book exhibits a lack of heart, of soul. If only the author had followed the advice offered by his book’s title, this may have been the masterpiece of the season!
That said, the author is obviously talented and one can only imagine what his future holds. I personally envisage a steady rise to moderate popularity and critical success followed by a sudden but not unexpected fade to a lower tier where he will toil ceaselessly and fruitlessly until finally cirrhosis of the liver or some other pathetic writers’ ailment delivers him from this vale of tears into the ever-loving robéd arms of God the Almighty. But that’s just me. Maybe he’ll just win the Booker and have a whole bunch of wives.
In any event, the present book is certainly readable, provided one has the necessary level of English comprehension and a functioning eye or two. While not quite a rollicking good read it is nevertheless thought-provoking and not all of the thoughts it provokes are about the things one could be doing if one were not engaged in reading the book. It is above all a warm book, especially when ignited with the aid of matches or a cigarette lighter, and one whose wisdom and joy will fill the reader’s heart, especially if the reader happens to fall prey to an insane scientist bent on creating a grotesque human-book hybrid. In summary, this is the perfect summer read, although please note that this assessment is based on a simulated summer reading environment and may not reflect the book’s performance under actual summer reading conditions.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
In other news, a bunch of my/your favourite bloggers/people you've never heard of have teamed up on a new blog, Snarkeology. Go and give them some love.