Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unconscious Mutterings 417

  1. Girlfriend :: chatter
  2. Crushed ::  by fall
  3. Source ::  code
  4. Corner ::  window
  5. Gossip ::  coffee
  6. Encounter ::  briefly
  7. Make an offer ::  I might refuse
  8. Stylish ::  wishful thinking
  9. Profit ::  money
  10. Waste ::  paper
How do you play? Easy. Simply copy the word prompts (created by LunaNina) and fill in the space with whatever answer comes to your mind. If you have a chance, check out what other people say.  Couldn't be easier - can't go wrong.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Unconscious Mutterings....week 416

    1. Bootie :: baby
    2. User :: friendly
    3. Child :: of the universe
    4. Scribe :: monk
    5. Manager :: shopping
    6. Upsetting :: cry
    7. Puddles :: flood
    8. Hopeful :: survival
    9. Procrastination :: me
    10. Statistics :: numbers numbers numbers

    2011 - Week 3

    1. So many of us on the other side of the world can't imagine what snow must be like at this time of year - we're flooded instead.

    2. So many people have retained their generosity of spirit even in hardship.

    3. Those who are accepting of what life throws at them might just have the answer. 

    4. As I compose the answers, one cat is waiting quietly by the door and the other is sitting beside the fridge complaining loudly "Feeeeeeeeed me".

    5. Light is in both the mirror and its reflection.

    6. I wonder if we could make a long list of all that is ordinary.

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading more of Stephen Fry's autobiography, tomorrow my plans include hosting my mothers birthday party and Sunday, I want to sleep in, but I cant!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Thoughts on a book - 1/1: Jihad - Britain

    A novel by Jack Everett and David Coles.

    NOTE: no spoilers included.

    Just before Christmas I was surprised by an email offering me a book to review – a completely unsolicited request based on a random reading of my thoughts here.  I continue to be tickled by the links we make so easily across the world, those of us quietly uploading posts about books, movies, observations of life and the amazing array of people who share this online environment with us.  Yes it should be obvious, in this world where here in Australia our Emergency Services have used social media to disseminate information quickly and effectively in the face of huge floodwaters.....but I am delighted just the same.

    I read the first few pages of this book as soon as it arrived but the complications of end-of-year events at work meant it has been longer than I wanted before getting back to it.  Once begun again, I could not stop reading and completed the book in a sitting.

    Enough rambling......

    This novel is a disturbing addition to the many stories being woven around terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11.  It follows the paths of two men who represent opposing viewpoints – Imran Assail, an extremist Muslim bound for Paradise via jihad, a holy war with Britain as its target, and Francis Raike, a new Prime Minister carried to office by his desire to recreate a better Britain in the wake of the terrorist-created destruction described in clinical detail at the beginning of the story.

    The writing is clean and crisp, details spilling out across the pages without confusion; the plots and sub plots ebbing and playing out around each-other.  Background to the terrorism which opens the story is related with precision and reveals an unnerving attention to detail in the planning and execution of devastation and murder on a grand scale.  The reader observes first the fanaticism of Assail and his partner Fahkri and then the equally driven passion of Francis Raike as he drives the political reforms necessary to replace complacency with national pride and rebuild Britain.

    The book begins on New Years Eve 2011, regresses briefly to 2006, then continues through to 2016.  There is a love story glimpsed here and there as the PM endeavours to maintain a private life in the face of his enormous responsibilities.  There are insights into ways the world could be re-imagined in a manner which recognises diversity while celebrating the common man and his lifestyle.  The authors touch on conscription, economic refugees, a new version of transportation of convicts, bomb making, CCTV piracy and even climate change.  The pace is swift, the targets of terrorism are frighteningly real, most of the good people survive.  The scariest thing about the book is how easy it is to imagine everything being true.

    Find this book and read it yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    First for the new year.........

    1. It's 2011; I have a feeling its all going to be different this year.

    2. I can never understand why anyone would spoil a good piece of ham with nasty yellow pickles, but they're okay on other stuff, maybe.....

    3. Thankfully I have my "to do" list almost completed, xcept for the really big things!!

    4. Friends, books, chocolate, warm days, free time and health are the best things in life.

    5. I am so pleased that the pile of books on the end of the desk is getting ever-so-slightly lower.

    6. I planned to fill the bowl with cherries but I ate them instead.
    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up with Ann, tomorrow my plans include working on the mosaic and Sunday, I want to sleep in and then maybe get into the garden (oh the weeds....)!

    Thoughts on a book: Water for Elephants

    It’s a long time since I read a book from cover to cover and let the time drift... but this morning I woke early enough I thought to read just a chapter or two before making the most of the cooler weather.  Well, strike that out for a start.

    Water for Elephants has been sitting on the pile for a month or two, getting pushed under other more clamorous reads, until today. After a humid night I woke early, retrieved the top book from the closest pile, and planned to read a chapter before rising.  Suddenly it was time for morning tea - breakfast long passed – and two cats sat in the bedroom doorway silently waiting for me to leave the room and perhaps get as far as the kitchen to the fridge..............

    Jacob Jankowski tells his story from the perspective of the walking frame which at ninety or is it ninety three (see the opening lines of Ch 1) he grasps with the thin and wrinkled age-spotted hands he barely recognises. The bare bones: how he met his wife and started his family, how he begrudges ending his days in “assisted living” accommodation. 

    This is the tale of a grieving young man running from the emptiness of a life suddenly bereft of family.  It is 1931 and homelessness and unemployment are the norm across middle America; Jacob has no home, no friends, no work and must rely on luck and pragmatism to survive.  In desperation he flings himself at a passing train in the hope that wherever it takes him must be a better place than where he is, and finds himself onboard the circus train that freights the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth across the country.  It is as well that his almost completed college degree is in veterinary science.

    In three months of eventful journeying across America, Jacob carts buckets of food for the big cats and camels, tends to horses, dogs and a giraffe, shares a wagon with a clown, falls disastrously in love, drinks large amounts of prohibited whiskey and discovers in himself the same love for animals that was to have underpinned E. Jankowski & Son, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine a lifetime before.  That this part of his life has a happy ending, not revealed here, is proof that good things do indeed come to good people.   

    What I appreciated most were the insights into life revealed by Jacob’s interactions with his nurse, and how easily we take away the independence of a person in tiny increments, because its quicker, easier and more convenient than the alternative of asking, negotiating, acquiescing, humouring and respecting the individual. Vignettes of life in Jacob's present came every couple of chapters, sprinkled throughout the book much like the engaging photographs of circuses of the time, and I liked these as much as the tale that lead to them.

    Now what’s for lunch?

    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  Allen & Unwin 2006

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Mutterings 414

    1. Carwash :: wet
    2. Intuition :: familiar
    3. Desperate :: situations
    4. Tears :: hot
    5. Purple :: Marg
    6. Storage :: over flowing
    7. Duct :: needs cleaning
    8. System :: reboot
    9. Cabinet :: of curiosities
    10. Manager :: I'm not

    Maybe I'll read 100 this year....

    If you're a book worm like me, and you'd rather be reading than almost anything else, and you have a H-U-G-E pile of books on the desk that you are determined to read this year........... then this might be just the spur you need.  Last year I managed a little over 50 books and am determined to do better this year (who needs a dusted mantlepiece anyway??).

    Visit the host here and register to read as many books as you can do the next twelve months.... all the pressure comes from within!!

    Here's the start I've made:
    1  Friends in high places by Donna Leon
    2  Gould's book of fish by Richard Flanagan
    3  The piano teacher by Janice YK Lee
    4  Gift of the gob by Kate Burridge
    5  The Castlemaine murders by Kerry Greenwood
    6  Blood from a stone by Donna Leon
    7  The pyramid by Henning Mankell
    8  The painter of battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte
    9  A question of belief by Donna Leon
    10  Water for elephants by Sara Gruen
    11  Loveliest dead by Ray Garton
    12 1/1: Jihad - Britain by Jack Everett & David Coles
    13 Incidental music by Francoise Sagan
    14 The Fry chronicles by Stephen Fry
    15 Fatal remedies by Donna Leon
    16 The gang of four by Liz Byrski
    17 A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French
    18 The cat who played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun
    19 The Fig Tree by Arnold Zable 
    20 Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo 
    21 The unknown terrorist by Richard Flanagan
    22 The Seamstress by Geraldine Wooller
    23 A death in Calabria by Michele Giuttani
    24 Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo
    25 A mind to murder by PD James
    26 The elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine
    27 Cat o'nine tails by Jeffrey Archer
    28 The glass room by Simon Mawer
    29 The clan of the cave bear by Jean Auel
    30  Little coffee shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
    31  The Paris wife by Paula McLain
    32  Don Camillo and the devil by Giovanni Guareschi
    33  The troubled man by Henning Mankell
    34 Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
    35  Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    36  My sister's keeper by Jodi Picoult
    37  The secret orchard of Roger Ackerley by Diana Petre
    38  Full Circle by Helen Townsend
    39  The dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
    40  Caleb's crossing by Geraldine Brooks
    41  In other rooms, other wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
    42 The girl who would speak for the dead by Paul Elwork
    43 Chronicler of the winds by Henning Mankell