Author Archives: Yasmine

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.

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?

More things to depress you

Pixar

This. Is an office.

Threadless

This… is also an office.

Three Rings

Ok. You can sort of see why I want to kill myself right?

This site has some photos of the most beautiful workspaces I have ever seen. It makes one philosophical to look at them: are beautiful offices only a symbol of the pointless efforts that humanity makes to mask the meaningless drudgery of their materialistic, money-chasing lives? A hopeful manifestation of the human spirit’s struggle to surround itself in beauty even in the dullest and most dire circumstances? Or is it just capitalism’s way of ensnaring you with its gilded cages and cheap promises of free gourmet cafeterias?

You think about it, while I look through the recruit ads.

Bon Iver

I heard a track from Bon Iver for the first time last year but I wasn’t completely blown away. Then today I listened to a recording of him performing live at South by Southwest and I suddenly liked it. So I went and listened again to a few tracks from his album, For Emma, Forever Ago, and I realised why the discrepancy — he sounds much better live than on the CD.

Bon IverHe’s big on the falsettos, so you might not even agree with me on that if you don’t like falsettos. But I think his voice has a raw, gritty and vulnerable quality that makes his live performance quite visceral.

Bon Iver is really just one guy named Justin Vernon. He wrote For Emma, Forever Ago, his debut CD, while holed up in a cabin in Wisconsin trying to exorcise some inner demons. I think the concert recording captures the darkness, misery and anguish really well, while the album sounds too… clean.

Listen to the concert recording here.

John Hegley

John HegleyThe Guardian calls him “quintessentially English”, but that shouldn’t turn you off from John Hegley just yet. He writes very endearing, funny poems about dogs, potatoes and other things that generally make you happy. I first found out about him through The Guardian Unlimited Books podcast, where he read this:

In the embrace of my glasses

I openly accept my vulnerability

And affirm my acceptance of outside help.

As well as providing open acknowledgement

Of the imperfection in my eyesight,

My glasses are a symbolic celebration

Of the wider imperfection

That is the human condition.

In contrast, contact lenses are a hiding of the faults.

They pretend the self-sufficiency of the individual

And minister onto the cult of stultifying normality.

They are that which should be cast out of your vision.

They are a denial of the self.

They are a denial of the other.

They are a betrayal of humanity.

Link time: You can read 22 more poems here, and listen to him perform some more poems here. (As far as I can see none of the poems are duplicated on the two sites.) You can also listen here to the Guardian interview that I mentioned above, in which he also turns a daily news story  about the UK education system into a song and sings a poem about two gay bus drivers. That should brighten up your Monday somewhat, I hope!