Thursday, 30 June 2005

Books to read after Finals

Okay, so my Finals finished in May 2004, but I doubt I'll ever get to the end of this list as I keep adding to it. Here's its current state of play. Many of these items already appear on my Amazon Wishlist, if I haven't bought them already in waiting. Instead of deleting items I've read, from now on I'll cross them out and add them to my list of books I've read:
  1. Ian Halperin, Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story (biography)
  2. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  3. Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot
  4. Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief
  5. A. M. Homes (American writer compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  6. Ernest Hemingway
  7. Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children; The Moor's Last Sigh
  8. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
  9. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
  10. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  11. Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
  12. Tim Woods, Beginning Postmodernism
  13. John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939
  14. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
  15. Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials trilogy
  16. Michael Moore, Stupid White Men; Dude, Where's My Country?
  17. Judith Guest, Ordinary People
  18. Colin Ward, The Child in the City
  19. R. D. Laing, Conversations with Children
  20. David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day (recommended by April DeGideo)
  21. Faulkner
  22. Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism
  23. Deirdre Wilson, Slave of the Passions (Theodore Zeldin's wife)
  24. W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz (Roman's recommendation)
  25. Breece D. J. Pancake
  26. Mark Rothko (Tate Gallery)
  27. W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage; The Moon and Sixpence; The Razor's Edge (recommended by Alice Taylor)
  28. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (recommended by Roman)
  29. John McMurtry, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism (recommended by Roman)
  30. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (recommended by Roman)
  31. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; You Shall Know Our Velocity (recommended by Kristyn Westphal)
  32. Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (Alice read him just before All Souls and Roman recommends him highly; Barry Smith (R4) recommends title)
  33. Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus (graphic novel about holocaust)
  34. Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States (recommended by Roman)
  35. Emma Richler, Feed My Dear Dogs (recommended by Jonathon Coe in the Guardian Review: "how to write about a childhood that is almost idyllically stable and loving")
  36. Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel (recommended by Robert Crumb in the Guardian Review: "a wonderful collection of profiles from the New Yorker from 1937-64 by the great columnist Joseph Mitchell, which chronicle New York from the 1920s; it really puts you there")
  37. James Shapiro, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (recommended by Nicholas Hytner and Tom Paulin in the Guardian Review)
  38. Bernard Hare, Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew

Tom Cruise and the history of psychiatry

Tom Cruise gave a strange, candid interview on NBC's Today show with Matt Lauer. He starts off, rather smugly jovial, as only Cruise can be, talking about how Katie Holmes is "the real thing". Who wouldn't be flattered at forty to be fucking her? Apparently she's "open" to Scientology, the religion/spirituality that Tom is into (there's a rather spooky Hallowe'en store in London next to the Goodge Street tube station, or at least I thought it was for Hallowe'en, until I saw that it was a Scientology mission post - and I bet that's not the only thing of Katie Holmes that's "open". Not going anywhere fast after Dawson's Crack? I'd better hang around with this weirdo and hope that someone like Kubrick makes a movie about us one day). So what? He's happy and he's talking about it, instead of trying to sell his new (and probably ghastly by the look of it) film, War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg, who is not, as Cruise claims, "the greatest storyteller cinema has ever known". ::Excuse me while I speak to Huey and Ruth in my little paper bag::

Then, and the MSNBC edit doesn't show you how they get on to this, they start talking about Brooke Shields and the history of psychiatry. Much of what Cruise has to say I'd agree with: that we're too reliant on the pseudo-science born by Freud, that too many people are prescribed anti-depressents, and kids are overdosed with Ritalin because they're hyper from their TV and sugar diets. What grates like Freddie's fingers on the blackboard is the patronizing way that Tom goes about it, without any attempt to explain what he has learned about The History of Psychiatry and all the Research Papers he's read on the subject (I wonder if he's a subscriber to The Fortean Times). Maybe he should write a piece for an academic journal or speak on a show with more breathing room to explain his position, instead of just patronizing poor Matt Lauer, who, thankfully, unlike many of his other US network colleagues, isn't quite as sychophantic as the norm (but then, with Cruise sitting next to you, why would you be?).

I'm even more determined now to boycott said movie, unless, of course, someone else pays for my ticket.

How did I get on to this subject, when normally I don't really give a fuck about what shellabrities are up to? Well, I saw a clip of TC spouting off on the news (Channel 4 I think it was) and then I read this post on Odessa Street.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Sepulchres Cemetery, Jericho

Sepulchres Cemetery and Lucy's factoryHidden away behind the Londis convenience store, Sepulchres Cemetery is overlooked by many people in Jericho - even those who, like myself, pass it every day. I didn't discover it until my friend Roman showed me one evening a few months ago. It's a great secret. At the end of the path, the noise from the traffic and the people hanging around outside Pepper's burgers dims; the green envelopes you in a spongey press of colour. The grass is overgrown in many places, especially down towards the bottom where the gravestones back on to Lucy's factory. On sunny days, sunbeams dash through the windows from the Oxford canal on the other side of the building. I think Lucy's is an old iron works that used to make library shelves and those pavement boxes that house the phone wires. Despite the broken windows, it's still in use - mainly for storage, by the looks of it. It's far from an eyesore.

Thursday, 23 June 2005

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

Are you thinking what we're thinking?

What's the difference between an asylum seeker and E.T.?
1) E.T. wants to go home.
2) E.T. can speak some English.
3) E.T. has his own bike.

(From the ever-dependable source: Rad Cam, men's toilet, left cubicle.)

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

More toilet jokes

Q: What's the hardest thing about rollerblading?
A: Telling your parents you are gay.

(Once more from the trusty repository/depository that is the Rad Cam.)

Monday, 20 June 2005

Être et avoir (2002) - ickleReview (TV)

Documentary about a rural French primary school. The kids are picked up every morning in a mini-bus to be taken to a beautiful little single classroom school on a hillside, surrounded by farmers' fields. M. Lopez is their teacher, in his penultimate year before retirement. The son of a Spanish emigrant, he teaches with real enthusiasm and skill. The only time he raises his voice during the whole film is when one of the little girls, Alize, gets lost in a barley field on a school trip and M. Lopez calls out her name to search for her.

The way he deals with the children is exemplary and inspiring. He speaks to them with calm respect and great patience, and balances brilliantly the mixed ages of his class - sensitively encouraging a mute girl, Nathalie (as well as counselling her mother); humouring the class clown, JoJo, as he colours in slowly his Christmas tree, far behind the rest of the class, or tries to wash the pen off his hands and forehead; or dealing with a fight between two of the older pupils, Julien and Olivier, both of whom are due to move on to le college (middle school) the following year.

The kids are a joy to watch: somehow less poisonously annoying on film than they would be (to me) in real life. JoJo reminds me somewhat of the little kid in Truffaut's Les Quatre cent coups who keeps spattering his pen and tearing out pages in his dictation jotter.

I am told that after this film was made and became a worldwide success, M. Lopez and the families sued for a larger cut of the profits. That should not, however, affect your enjoyment of the film. Besides, M. Lopez deserves a comfortable retirement.

Nugget: be patient with it, and you will be rewarded; as a farmer would wait upon his hay to dry and harvest, or a teacher is as he watches the slow development of his pupils.

See also In the Land of the Deaf (1992) and Every Little Thing (1997) by the same director.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Patriot games

"Patriotism," said Samuel Johnson, "is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Monday, 13 June 2005

Today's top toilet graffiti

FUCK THE SYSTEM (above which, someone else has written "CISTERN").

(Brought to you by the central cubicle of the men's toilets in the Radcliffe Camera, Oxford University.)

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Mighty Aphrodite (1995) - ickleReview (video)

Woody Allen film featuring a comical Greek chorus. Allen plays Lenny, a New York sportswriter who adopts a son with his wife (Helena Bonham Carter). The son grows up to be so smart, Lenny becomes curious to find out who his parents were. When he discovers that she was a single mum, he tracks her down: she turns out to be a porn actress and prostitute, Linda Ash (stage name Judy Cum), played by Mira Sorvino, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Even though Linda is dumb, with the most annoying voice (think "This one time, at band camp" girl from American Pie), Lenny becomes obsessed with her and tries to sort out her life, including trying to match her up with a husband. The heavy augury of the chorus at the beginning turns out not to be fulfilled; there's more of a happy families ending.

Nugget: the jazz chorus steals the show with its absurd choreography and cameo appearances throughout the film, turning up on the main set to coach Allen's character, like Death in the Bill and Ted movies. They call upon Zeus but get his answering machine!

Friday, 10 June 2005

The patriot act

"Patriots talk of dying for their country, and never talk of killing for their country." (Bertrand Russell)

If they do talk of killing for their country, does that make them Nazis? This puts me in mind to think that Nazism stands not for National Socialism, but National Anti-Socialism.

Sunday, 5 June 2005