Almost written

How is it that Anne Enright can write an essay about not writing, and make it sound like the most brilliant thing ever? I sit around not writing all day and I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything half as decent as this if I actually sat down and, well, wrote.

You will notice that I haven’t mentioned what either of these books is about. That is because I know you will steal them from me immediately. These are really good ideas. You are not having them.

Read the whole thing.



“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” – Hunter S. Thompson

4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days

In the spirit of the ongoing merriment at Cannes, I decided to update with the trailer of last year’s Palme d’or, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days:

It’s a shocking film, this one. Deceptively simple, too. Sort of a master class in how indie films that want lots of static shots should be done. Because I forced 4:30 upon myself last year while crashing a soci class, I’ve come to really despise unnecessary static shots, and indie films that have no idea how to use silence and static shots to move a story forward.

-end of rant-

Just a Tranquil Darker

by John Hodgen

The old woman asks if she can have her sunglasses just a tranquil darker,
and the optometrist, without blinking an eye, does not trifle with her,
says he can do that, says he’ll take care of that for her.
And I think for a moment he is William Wordsworth listening to Dorothy,
her spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, her perfect tranquillity.
Or maybe he is God himself, the great optometrist, or at least that dim image
we strain to see of the omniscient god who mostly does not trifle with us.
The occasional hat flown off our heads, perhaps, the tossed banana peel
with the businessman’s wingtip approaching, the hurtling safe heading
down for our heads, all of us so intensely looking elsewhere, as if our lives
were God’s New Yorker cartoons, all his back issues stacked up, the ones
with the Elizabeth Bishop poems, teetering, in his waiting room.

Mostly He gives us our due, God, or Wordsworth for that matter, for the things
we choose to believe in, the things we say we’ll see if we can do, like loving
each other, like being true, like the woman who accompanies her husband,
the lawn mowing man, and sits on the steps of the houses he goes to.
(See her, by the daffodils?) She watches him moving from row to row,
loves the ease with which he moves, sees the lawn changing right before
her eyes, like some eye chart of I’s and E’s slowly coming into view,
her love for him the one thing that is perfectly clear.
It is as if they live in some peripheral light that is always glowing,
that we can see sometimes, like a lark that flares up suddenly
out of the corner of our eyes, somehow always lifting
from this cock-eyed part of the world, away from the glare,
to some other place where everything is just the way we want it,
just a tranquil darker.


from good ol’ Slate.

Poetry like this feels so comfortable.

Roy Andersson

I have a Swedish friend who can say Roy Andersson’s name the way it was meant to be pronounced. It sounds really cool. The Swedish language, in general, sounds very cool, don’t you think? If you agree, that would be one reason why you might enjoy Roy Andersson’s films.

Other reasons would include: the way his work is like visual poetry, laden with metaphors and rhyme and rhythm; his beautifully stark sets, which, through their ceramic-and-cement coldness speak of the human yearning for warmth; his dark humour; how the pallor of death that stains the faces of all his characters contrast against how painfully alive they are, how his vignettes say so little and so much at the same time.

You just have to watch his films to understand it.

Here is a trailer for his film Songs from the Second Floor.

And here are a bunch of commercials that he directed. He was a commercial director first before becoming a filmmaker. Ingmar Bergman once called him the best commercial director in the world. (My favourite’s the last one, the one for the Social Democrat party.)

A Man of Taste

Grant Achatz

I have no patience for full-length biographies but I do like reading profiles of people in newspapers or magazines. This is a good one from the New Yorker: a profile of Grant Achatz, a chef who’s battling tongue cancer.

(If you, like me, immediately thought “Hey, that’s like Beethoven composing music while deaf!”, the analogy crops up in the article itself.)

The food starts off at the savory end of the spectrum, and slowly turns sweeter, concluding with coffee, in the form of crystallized candy. Most items could be eaten in a bite or two, but the procession took four and a half hours. I had liquefied caramel popcorn in a shot glass, and a bean dish that came on a tray with a pillow full of nutmeg-scented air. The plate of beans was placed atop the pillow, forcing the aroma out. I sampled a “honey bush tea foam cascading over vanilla-scented brioche pudding,” in the words of the young man who brought it. There was also a dish centering on a cranberry that had been puréed and then re-formed into its original shape.

It’s an article about life as a chef, about cancer, about food and about how your tongue works. Like a good dish at a gourmet restaurant, you’ll never realise how well they all go together until you see it for yourself.

Other people’s parties

Say you’re stuck home on a Saturday night feeling lonely. Or it’s 3 p.m. on a weekday and you’re wishing for time to fast forward to Friday.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself right now and click here. Revel in the hilarity of photos taken out of context.

See what I mean?