juliet: My rat Ash, at 6 wks old, climbing up the baby-rat-tank and peering over the edge (ash exploring)
Full list
Finished! Eventual figures:
1001/1001 days, 76 completed, 2 still in progress, 23 didn't happen.

That's not too bad, I reckon. Some of the things I did do were genuinely useful (building the fixie that I now ride daily, and the weekly O'Reilly blogging that was instrumental in getting the freelance stuff going, being obvious stand-outs); many of them were much fun (writing letters!). I found the monthly check-in that I did to be a useful reminder of Stuff I Want To Get Done. I almost certainly will do this again, but with a bit more built-in flexibility; there were several things on the list that in the end I just didn't want to do (and so didn't).

This month )
juliet: (Default)
Last book on the list! This one was recommended by [livejournal.com profile] webcowgirl. I suppose you could call it magic realist, but the way in which the magic is tackled (sceptical yet matter-of-fact) made it feel more like fantasy or spec-fic. I certainly preferred it to most of the magic realist books I've read.

The well-researched 18th c French background was great - the narrative voice felt genuine (NB my knowledge of 18th c Fr is of course minimal so cannot actually confirm accuracy, but it felt appropriately detailed & certainly didn't have anything obviously erroneous). The human interactions were the focus, though, and the detail and emotion of those interactions were fascinating. Given that I like spec-fic, historical fiction, and books with people that actually feel like real people who interact with one another and who I am able to care about, it was hitting most of my buttons. The bit that didn't entirely work was the "people who I am able to care about" - too many of the characters were a bit too unsympathetic, and the ones I found more interesting were least present in the story (doubtless deliberate; the feel of it was that of a a very specific and individual perspective, and that person's limitations in terms of provider-of-the-narrative were obvious).

It does go Heavily Grim at the end, which I could have done without (it wasn't entirely a shock, but it was a bit more than anticipated), but not enough to put me off the book. I'll be investigating whether she's done anything else.

(Sorry, this is a bit of a lame-arse review, because it is late & I have been onna train for over 7 hrs.)
juliet: Shot of my bookshelves at home (books)
(today is the day for many postings...)

Only one more book to go on the list! This one was recommended by [livejournal.com profile] envoy, and it is about BIKES. Specifically, about couriers (the subtitle is "Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power") & Chicago.

The blurb describes his prose as 'poetic' - this is kind of true, but sometimes it gets a bit much. It's almost frenetic sometimes: you get the feeling that he's the sort of person who's always on the move. And of course this links in nicely with the way he talks about riding as a courier: the focus on speed, the way in which it takes over your body and your life, that you almost can't stop moving even when you get home at night. I recognise that feeling: the muscle-twitch you get after a long ride which along with the time it takes the adrenaline to disperse makes falling asleep incredibly hard[0] right until it suddenly all gives way and you collapse.

I could also recognise the way he talks about riding city streets, and reading the traffic. Obviously I'm not a courier and I don't do this full-time; but I've spent a lot of time over the last 7 years riding around London, and you do pick up a feel for how the traffic moves and how to put yourself smoothly into and around it. Which can also take a certain amount of nerve, but when it's working, it's an amazing feeling. (I am going to stay away from his take on the Red Light Argument, other than to say that it's interesting, that I can see his point, and that of *course* couriers are going to jump lights when they can get away with it, they're on pay-per-delivery and not high pay at that.)

He talks a bit about Critical Mass, as well - he was involved while the Chicago police decided to crack down on CM by arresting everyone in sight, and of course that wound up upping the activism. I was interested as well by what he says about the tension between his activist involvement & his courier job (or more accurately, his colleagues): that the couriers weren't all that interested, in many cases, in the activism side of things. (Although I think in most or even all cities where there's a CM, there's tended to be at least some courier involvement.)

In the end he quit & went back into art gallery stuff (and got more heavily involved in bike activism) - mostly because he seriously wrecked his knee. Couriering is the sort of job that tends to do for you physically, one way or another.

Fascinating book: definitely recommended to anyone who cycles or is interested in bikes. (Hard to get in this country, so let me know if you want to borrow it!) And in particular to anyone who enjoys traffic-jamming :)

[0] The canonical example of this for me is trying to sleep at the 400km point of the BCM. twitch twitch twitch.
juliet: (Default)
(More 101 things stuff: reviewing various books that were recommended to me. [livejournal.com profile] damerell recommended Hornblower, and [livejournal.com profile] invisiblechoir recommended My Little Book of Stolen Time. Both of which I read whilst mid-Pacific.)

Reef the maintopsail! )

Lawks, I am a time-travelling lady of the night from 19th c Denmark who has fetched up in 20th c London! Let me tell you all about it! )

Camping 2

Apr. 27th, 2009 06:04 pm
juliet: (Default)
One of my 101 things is to review some old albums. (While I have internet.... who knows if the might of Telstra will reach Agnes Water?)

in the ambient hutch )
juliet: Shot of my bookshelves at home (books)
[livejournal.com profile] mr_tom recommended this one, & it's the first on the list that I haven't been able to finish.

Up until about halfway through, it's an increasingly confusing but broadly speaking reasonably entertaining account of the drugged- and boozed-up narrator (model/actor-type Victor) bumbling his way through New York and later London. Things begin to look a little dodgy (indications that he's got a double wandering round the place); Victor starts losing it more and more (constructing his entire life as a film in the process of being made); and he fetches up in London.

At this point it degenerates into graphic descriptions of torture, bombs, and highly unerotic sex, which is the point at which I said "screw this, I'm not prepared to read this". (I gave up on American Psycho about halfway through for the exact same reason.) Also by this point I really wasn't remotely involved with any of the characters, nor cared about them or what happened to them. (This may or may not have been the author's intention; but I am pretty sure I *have* read books with dislikable narrators/main characters and still gotten involved with what's going on. The trouble is, I can't really remain engaged when there's that much unpleasantness being that graphically described, because I find it too upsetting. And I wasn't that engaged with Victor in the first place, so...)

Anyway, yeah. Having been assured before that AP was a particularly graphic/gory example of Bret Easton Ellis' work, which is why I figured I'd give this one a go, I am now convinced that he just doesn't work for me. Bah. I am now going to go find something nice and fluffy to read to get rid of the slightly queasy feeling.
juliet: (dancing)
(one of my 101 things is to review some old albums)

Hey kids, rock and roll is here, so scream all you like )
juliet: (dancing)
I am plugging away merrily on the old-albums bit of my 101 things list, but there's also something on there about new bands, and about getting recommendations from my friends. Obviously, this is an excellent opportunity to merge the two together.

So: anyone suggest me some bands I may not already know/know of? (For those unfamiliar with my existing tastes: the 30GB of music I have on this laptop is heavily biased towards indie (esp of the mid/late 90s variety), with a fair chunk these days of minimal techno, psytrance, Scooter & other similar silly rave music, musicals, 60s rock 'n' roll, 80s pop, some gothish stuff (Covenant: goth happy hardcore!), & classical of various sorts. But I will listen to most stuff at least once.)
juliet: (glasto glowstick 2007)
I am plugging away merrily on the old-albums bit of my 101 things list, but there's also something on there about new bands, and about getting recommendations from my friends. Obviously, this is an excellent opportunity to merge the two together.

So: anyone suggest me some bands I may not already know/know of? (For those unfamiliar with my existing tastes: the 30GB of music I have on this laptop is heavily biased towards indie (esp of the mid/late 90s variety), with a fair chunk these days of minimal techno, psytrance, Scooter & other similar silly rave music, musicals, 60s rock 'n' roll, 80s pop, some gothish stuff (Covenant: goth happy hardcore!), & classical of various sorts. But I will listen to most stuff at least once.)

ION: bravely opened fridge again this morning & found dead cockroach, so I suspect I left the fridge door a smidge open over the weekend (bad environmentalist, no biscuit) & then it died of cold overnight when I shut it properly. It has been disposed of.

IOON: why am I not working on the deadline I have today? Because my brain is still bleeding out of my ears and as soon as I've got some of the easy things off today's to-do list I am going to have a little nap. Hopefully when I wake up again I will be competent to deal with complicated things like articles.

IOOON: I want to go surfing (sea! sea good!), but am clearly too knackered to cycle all the way to Bondi & throw myself at waves for two hours, so will refrain. TOMORROW.
juliet: (music)
(One of my 101 things is to listen to & review some old albums.)

if I could make sense of it all )
juliet: (dancing)
(One of the things on my 101 things list is to listen to & review some old albums.)

more from Scotland in the mid/late 90s )
juliet: (peace box)
(One of my 101 things is to listen to & review some old albums.)

The Scottish Ash )
juliet: (glasto love)
(One of the things on my 101 things list is to listen to & review some old albums - by which I basically mean anything I bought more than a year ago, I guess.)

Radiohead - The Bends )
juliet: Shot of my bookshelves at home (books)
Time to pick up the 101 things again (though I think with about 8 months to go it is a safe bet that they aren't all going to happen. Ah well.). Anyway: one of them is about reading & reviewing books, so I got Morality Play, by Barry Unsworth (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat), out of the library yesterday, and sat up on the roof this afternoon to read it. (I like it up on the roof - Elizabeth Bay is one of the highest bits of Sydney, so there's a great view, and it's lovely and quiet.)

I found the actual story (a group of mediaeval travelling players who are caught up in the aftermath of a murder, lots of stuff about justice and power and so on; don't want to say more for fear of spoilers) less interesting than the background stuff. Specifically the idea of the move from acting morality plays to using more modern material - the ideas about what 'acting' could and could not convey, and the beginnings of change in that. Also the ideas about one's relationship to meaning, and whether meaning is given to you, or can be self-constructed. Barry Unsworth also makes some fairly unsubtle points about gender relations.

It's fairly short, and it's a decent enough read, I guess, but I wasn't really that impressed. Faintly surprised that it won the Booker (in 1992) - I certainly wouldn't have rated it as prize-winning. I found it a little clunky and shallow. (And homophobic, in a fairly thoughtless "stock Evil Character" way.) Having said that, it wasn't a total waste of 1.5 hrs or anything :-)

ION: I am trying to switch to a Dvorak keyboard, a project which is progressing, but it's bloody frustrating. So I shall stop typing now.
juliet: Shot of my bookshelves at home (books)
Time to pick up the 101 things again (though I think with about 8 months to go it is a safe bet that they aren't all going to happen. Ah well.). Anyway: one of them is about reading & reviewing books, so I got Morality Play, by Barry Unsworth (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat), out of the library yesterday, and sat up on the roof this afternoon to read it. (I like it up on the roof - Elizabeth Bay is one of the highest bits of Sydney, so there's a great view, and it's lovely and quiet.)

I found the actual story (a group of mediaeval travelling players who are caught up in the aftermath of a murder, lots of stuff about justice and power and so on; don't want to say more for fear of spoilers) less interesting than the background stuff. Specifically the idea of the move from acting morality plays to using more modern material - the ideas about what 'acting' could and could not convey, and the beginnings of change in that. Also the ideas about one's relationship to meaning, and whether meaning is given to you, or can be self-constructed. Barry Unsworth also makes some fairly unsubtle points about gender relations.

It's fairly short, and it's a decent enough read, I guess, but I wasn't really that impressed. Faintly surprised that it won the Booker (in 1992) - I certainly wouldn't have rated it as prize-winning. I found it a little clunky and shallow. (And homophobic, in a fairly thoughtless "stock Evil Character" way.) Having said that, it wasn't a total waste of 1.5 hrs or anything :-)

ION: I am trying to switch to a Dvorak keyboard, a project which is progressing, but it's bloody frustrating. So I shall stop typing now.

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