Books and films and stuff

I haven’t posted much recently (on blog anyway – am always on Twitter) but I’ve been busy taking Ashtanga yoga classes, reading books and watching a load of films ( a real love of mine). This evening I’ve finished Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I’d seen the film several years ago but a friend read the book recently and recommended it. It’s frankly terrifying and it’s worth reading the book even if you have seen the film – Polanski’s film is wonderful but from reading the book, you’ll see that Mia Farrow was perfect for the role. Amazing to think Ira Levin wrote three of the most fascinating studies of modern America in the mid-late 20th Century: Rosemary’s Baby, Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. I have the latter on kindle which I’m now going to read – Chuck Palahnuik’s introductions are excellent too.
Also tonight I watched the film Jeff, Who Lives at Home – Jason Segel and the phenomenal Susan Sarandon – what’s not to love? I really enjoyed this film – more than just a lame stoner comedy. I’m now watching classic British horror The Night Of The Demon (1957) thanks to a ‘British Connections’ season by Digital/cable film channel Film4. Its a fabulously creepy British Cult/Satanist horror. Worth checking out.

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (and Joe Wright)

I’m not sure if i decided i quite fancied reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy before or after seeing the sumptious adverts for Joe Wright’s new film version featuring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald and Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Anna Karenina UK Release poster

Speaking of Gorgeous – Keira Knightley wore stunning Chanel at the UK Premiere – you can read and see more pictures here. I’ve loved Keira in the last few films i’ve seen here in (most recently A Dangerous Method) and she’s showing she has a wealth of talent beyond just looking amazing and pouting. I’m looking forward to seeing this (but wonder whether i’ll finish the book first…)

Keira Knightley Anna Karenina UK Premiere in Chanel

I have read some Russian literature in the past BUT it’s hard work – i read some Chekhov at University aswell as Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most depressing books you’ll ever read but Anna Karenina sounds like a great romp:

Anna Karenina is the tragedy of married aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother’s unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though with less tolerance for her by others.” (Wikipedia)

Will let you know how i get on.

Life getting in the way a bit

So i’m aware i haven’t blogged for a while but as the title says – Life’s been getting in the way a bit. In a good way though. Since moving house and in the last few weeks, i’ve read more, seen some great movies, discovered some great vintage shops/jumble sales/car boot sales in my new locale and have even picked up a crochet hook again (though less said about that, the better…). My daughter has also started School nursery a couple of afternoons which has given me time to write this.

So – recent media consumed includes:

Films –

The Descendants (Clooney, cried buckets)
Harry Potter and the last whatsit (you know, the last one – was pretty good)
A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg – Jung v Freud – Keira Knightley a revelation; Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen wonderful as always)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (recent prequel with James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow as well as rent-a-creature Andy Serkis. Was so much better than i thought it would be. Those Apes were ANGRY)
Disney’s Brave at the cinema with TheYoungLady (twice! – as i said to someone – possibly the first Disney heroine who didn’t make me want to puke. Lots of stuff about changing your fate and i cried at the mom/daughter bit. It was good)
Volcano – (not new i know but have never seen it. Great disaster movie and Tommy Lee Jones – whaddaguy!)

Books

We were the Mulvaneys – Joyce Carol Oates. I found this a struggle as the pace is slow but it was a rewarding read.
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins. Couldn’t quite believe these were kids books – glad i read them before seeing the film. Wonderful.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy – EL James. Amazingly badly written tripe. (nb – not me being prudish – there were definately some sexy bits but it was so badly written and Grey and Anastasia so unlikeable)
The Ice Princess – Camilla Lackberg. Now, i do normally love Scandi-crime but got a bit bored with this and didn’t finish it.
11.22.63 – Stephen King. Read even less of this. Time portal at the back of a diner where the protagonist can maybe chnge history and stop the assassination of JFK? Nah. Gave up.
Going to attempt some Leo Tolstoy next (War and Peace or Anna Karenina?)
I also quite like this new magazine http://www.thesimplethings.com/ and Mollie Makes Both of which are just too darned cute.

Recent thrift/bargains loot

Am heading to St Ives, Cornwall, UK for a week’s holiday soon where i’ll hopefully return from laden with all manner of artsy, hippy, surfy stuff. Looking forward to visiting Tate St Ives gallery and maybe the Barbara Hepworth museum – loads of small galleries and artists studios to visit too.

Ryan Gosling Colouring Book

I posted yesterday about a rather wonderful Bill Murray Colouring Book but i learnt via Stylist Magazine last night that there is a Ryan Gosling Colouring Book.

Ryan. Gosling.

RYAN. GOSLING!!!

The book shows him doing all manner of ‘handsome activities’ such as driving, eating and sitting with his dog.

You want one. You can buy the Colour Me Good Ryan Gosling colouring book from Maiden

Bill Murray Colouring Book

I’ve written before about how much i love Bill Murray so i have my friend Heidi (check her very cool blog here) to thank for alerting me to this. Its a Bill Murray Colouring Book. Heidi’s came in the post yesterday – i want one. You can order yours from Belly Kids where they also have some great posters and tshirts and stuff. and you can read about the Bill Murray exhibition they are having in London tonight (11 August).

 

Life. Yoga. Walking. Reading. Buddhism. Baking. Thats all.

It’s been a funny few weeks – not funny ha ha but funny in the way that the universe reminds you of the wider world and how it still continues to kick you up the arse whether you need it or not. The last couple of weeks have included: having the winning bid for a house so we are in the throes of preparing to move after two years of wanting to; attending a funeral; the death of one of my most-loved musicians (RIP MCA) who helped shaped not only my musical education but my knowledge of wider world events and philosophies; all manner of frustrating and exhausting shite at work; doing a second freelance job in the evenings; PMT through the roof with water-weight shifting up and down by up to half a stone daily and my daughter coming down with Chicken Pox.

All this is just LIFE of course and the above will seem trivial to many facing much harder times than me, but nonetheless, it all left me feeling a bit knackered and not quite myself and i felt i had to readjust things a little to try and avoid getting some horrible lurgy which would make me feel more overwhelmed and stressed and as a functioning mother, partner, employee etc it’s  total pain in the arse when i get ill and i am not a good patient!

I had been registered for the Glasgow Womens 10k but had simply not been getting out to run and when i had been out, had really not been enjoying it. This lead me to beat myself up a bit and harking back to my previous attempts at trying to consistently run (and largely failing). So, i decided to just not bother and write it off. I wasn’t running for charity so really the only person i’d be letting down was myself but as the running/not running was making me feel bad about myself i figured stopping worrying about it would make me feel better all round. And it did. (And as it happened, the day before the 10k, my daughter’s chicken pox started coming through so i wouldn’t have gone anyway).

Having felt some relief at giving up on a form of exercise which i just wasn’t enjoying, i thought more about what i did enjoy and came back, yet again, to Yoga. So i’ve made an effort to do some yoga for between 20 minutes and an hour 3 or 4 times a week (every day would be ideal but am not quite there yet!). I’m already feeling much better about exercising and in accepting that whilst yoga won’t change my body as quickly as running, the mental benefits are so much greater. I’ve also added some walking into the mix – so much more civilised than running:-) and i’m hoping to get into hill walking at some point too.

As for the crappy second freelance job, i ditched that (did i really want to write about bodybuilding supplements??) and picked up my kindle again; read some chick-lit (as a break from the Scandi-crime) and got a couple of free ebooks on Buddhism (re: MCA) to reignite something i’ve been interested in for years but never properly explored.

My favourite form of yoga is Vinyasa Flow (strengthening, aerobic, quick and importantly not the same postures every time unlike Ashtanga) which i also complement with some more gentle routines. I’ve been doing DVDs at home and once we’ve moved, i’ll look into classes again too. My current favourite dvds include:

Tara Lee: Beginners Yoga and Beyond: Elements of Yoga (grounding Hatha – for gentler days but you still feel your body working)

Eionn Finn: Power Yoga for Happiness (a number of routines here from just over half an hour to full class length – challenging routines excellent for building strength and he is a great surfer dude, so the routines are easy to follow and fun to do – you will sweat)

Claire Missingham: Yoga (excellent Vinyasa Flow for intermediate/advanced. Few bits i just can’t do on this DVD but i love that its challenging and her style is really encouraging)

Seane Corne: Vinyasa Flow Yoga 2 (lovely Vinyasa Flow simply done)

Body Shaping Intensive Yoga (does what it says in the tin – couple of shorter Vinyasa based routines 30-40 mins plus 60 mins – you will sweat)

Rodney Yee: My first Yoga dvd’s some years ago were by Rodney Yee and i still use them (including Intermediate Yoga and Power Yoga Total Body Workout) but when time is short i like AM Yoga for your day (5 20 minute routines) and his Ultimate Power Yoga (not quite ‘Power Yoga’ but 5 2-30 min routines)

I also did some baking again with TheYoungLady, which we hadn’t done for some time. The cakes were dreadful (that’ll teach me to follow a recipe off the side of the packet…) but helped me feel like i was a bit more Me again.

What do you do to help you feel a bit more like You again?

The not-so perfect princess and the dreaded pony

Not, in fact the start of some alt-Disney story that you may be panicking your daughter/niece/annoying children belonging to your friends/annoying mums at work/ annoying blogger talking cack etc are all about to start driving you mad with every finite detail about but in fact just today’s Charity shop loot.

I really should make a page listing with pics all the cool stuff i’ve managed to get either in charity shops, off Ebay, at some slightly manky vintage stall etc. Over the past 20 years or so i’ve picked up some great items including: 3 Tretchikoff Chinese girl pictures (Ebay but went to collect as the seller lived in Chiswick and used to have a shop in Portobello Road – i nearly died in his house – SOO much fabulous stuff); a JH Lynch Tina picture (charity shop), i did have some big-eyed kids but they creeped me out a bit so i sold them; some Troika pottery for my mum (off Ebay a few years ago – i now wouldn’t be able to afford them); a (genuine!) Louis Vuitton speedy bag (charity shop) and matching large purse in another charity shop at the opposite end of the country; a host of 1950s clocks, numerous items of clothing and handbags and recently a cracking crochet granny blanket (charity shop) and was given a wonderful 1950s knitting bag and 80s deco book for Mothers Day and my mum picked me a vintage 1940s/50s crochet hook set from an Antiques fair in Birmingham last week. In addition to the choice pieces, i also have picked up ugly clothes that don’t fit, books i’ve never read and more recently all manner of kids toys and books for TheYoungLady so its not all cool vintage stuff but i still love a rummage and once i’ve moved house (being in this process has curtailed my natural hoarding a bit!) i’ll be ramping it up again with a focus on homewares.

However, in the meantime, i’m going to start noting here what i pick up. Today i was with TheYoungLady and whilst the films of Bambi and Beauty and The Beast would’ve been the real coups of the day they were sadly on VHS not DVD. So we got a book about The Not-So Perfect Princess (who thinks dresses are rubbish for jumping in puddles or climbing trees in – right on!) and a faux My Little Pony with some serious purple dreads.

Scandi-fixated much?

Last September, i wrote an article on how i was ‘Having a bit of a Nordic Phase…’ which covered the current Scandinavian/Nordic (including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland) influences in Music, Fashion, literature, film and tv (you can read it here: http://www.missmarples.co.uk/article/articleid/159/having-a-bit-of-a-nordic-phase%E2%80%A6.aspx ) . Having since now seen the second series of The Killing and Series 1 of the excellent Borgen on National Treasure tv station BBC4 and thoroughly enjoying the more mainstream Those Who Kill (Thanks ITV 3!) and the contents of my bedside reading table being this:

not to mention the Nordic novels on my Kindle including Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1) by Arnaldur Indridason and Roseanna, book 1 of the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö; its clear i am still to drawn to the cultural output from the region. Given this interest, earlier works by the likes of Henning Mankell and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are being translated and published often many years later. Norwegian Jo Nesbo is something of a publishing phenomenon right now, with millions of his pretty gruesome crime novels featuring world-weary cop Harry Hole having sold. A film of his novel Headhunters is due for release on 6 April 2012.

I’m not the only one. There can barely be anyone left who hasn’t read the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson or seen the films. Every British newspaper, broadsheet or otherwise, aswell as magazines such as Heat and Grazia, was fawning over The Killing and Borgen, with The Radio Times even printing a knitting pattern for one of Sarah Lund’s famous jumpers (yes, really!). The slight digs at these tv series featuring the same Danish actors was i think the only thing the journalists could aim to find ‘fault’ with – i mean, seriously, how many working UK actors haven’t been in Casualty/The Bill or a soap?

I have no answers here but the tv series’ i think have really benefitted by largely being national tv-station produced by Denmark’s BBC equivalent, who demanded modern series’ relevant to life today be created for their Sunday evening timeslots. I do wish the beeb would look at this rather than the yawnsome remake of Upstairs Downstairs and whatever sleepy sub-CSI thriller they tend to show on a Sunday night. I think they also appeal because the characters are real and utterly believable and importantly female characters are essential, rather than just being some wife/girlfriend/plain-jane colleague role. With Borgen, yes, you can absolutely see why the female PM’s marriage would potentially crumble and that her relationship with her kids would suffer. With The Killing, there is no disguising the fact that Sarah Lund is a pretty damaged character and her unorthodox methods and singular personality have resulted in estrangement from her son and family aswell as having directly resulted in the death of close colleagues.

The literature too details the lengthy processes the police and prosecutors have to go through to catch and convict criminals. There are no quick-CSI/Law and Order type arrests here (and these are largely BIG hefty 500+ page novels). The characterisation again is compelling and the flaws of Wallander and Hole keep the reader rooting for them.

The old stereotypical image of Scandinavian countries offering little more than Abba, Sauna’s and Ulrika Jonnson has been completely replaced with the rest of the world waking up to it’s cool clothes, music, art, books, tv and cinema and on a completely frivolous note, Stockholm’s men were recently voted Sexiest in the World largely aided, i personally feel by Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood).