New Year’s Notions

safe_image-phpIt’s coming up to a new year, after a year that left a lot to be desired (see previous post) and, as usual and culturally normal, I’m thinking about what I want the coming year to hold.

But I am emphatically NOT talking about New Year’s Resolutions, because we all know that they are not worth the paper or cyber-space they’re written on.

I’m also not going to participate in the annual self-flagellation that marketers love so much to capitalise on.

We (and the mags and websites with content to fill) love to talk about what we should do less of: we should weigh less (always, and quite regardless of whether our health will actually benefit).  We should eat less; less  altogether and especially less sugar/carbs/fat/cheese/meat… or whatever is the bête noire of the moment.  We should drink less coffee or alcohol or diet coke.  We should spend less money and less time on social media.  We should work less – or relax less, depending on who you ask.

It’s a curiously puritanical approach to life, in a culture that simultaneously urges us to indulge our every whim.  Continue reading

Friday (New) Favourites: Les Miserables

I admit I came late to Les Mis.

Despite being a young adult when it was in the theatre in my home town and despite studying French for many years and being a bit of a Victor Hugo fan, I didn’t go.  I don’t know why.  It’s possible that it fell in that window in which most of my money was spent on drinking and fast times. 😉

So when the movie came out I thought it was high time I caught up with this phenomenon.  So I went.  And I enjoyed it very much.  It was visually gorgeous and the performances were, in my humble opinion, excellent.  I thought the decision to use actors who could sing and record them as they acted was brilliant.   Anne Hathaway deserved that Oscar.  Her broken rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’ was one of the most harrowing things I’ve seen on a screen in recent times.

But the upshot of all of this is that I get it now.  I get why people adore this musical.  There’s a great, sweeping story with love and death and heroism and vileness and more than a touch of madness, yes.  But the main attraction is the music.  It’s magnificent.  It’s infectious.  Indeed, after seeing the movie, I stomped around singing ‘I hear the people sing’ so many times that my darling daughter threatened to storm my barricades and make the streets run with my blood if I didn’t stop.

And it appears I am not alone in loving it.  You must watch this wedding video which is a great testament to the musical, to how much these people like the married couple (because there was rehearsal involved) and what can happen if you leave the choristers alone with the beer for too long…

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Friday Favourites eschews ranting and goes for links instead

I wrote a post for today, I really did.  It was ranty and long and potentially controversial – all those things that ‘they’ say blog posts should be, to get attention and make a name.  With the possible exception of the long.  I don’t know what they say about long.

But then I looked over at my bedside table.  On the top of the pile of books is a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  He was a Stoic, was Marcus; a philosopher.  And one of the principles of Stoicism is not to fret about things over which one has no control.

It’s a good principle.

Another one is that happiness is achieved, not by lusting after what one does not have, but by being satisfied with what one does have.

So instead of posting my rant, I have put it and the angst that goes with it away and instead I am going to share with you some of the great articles I have found in my cruising of the interwebs this week. (And a completely random picture of ‘The Dish’ at Parkes, just because I like it!)

First, an article from the NYTimes about how scientists have been staggered to discover that fitness matters more than weight and that fat people with certain conditions are actually more likely to live longer than thin people with the same health conditions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/health/research/more-data-suggests-fitness-matters-more-than-weight.html?_r=2&ref=health

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Lights, Camera, Action: or how movies can make you a better novelist (and revisions less painful)

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: she’s just looking for an excuse to watch The Holiday while she should be working.

Well… okay, it may be true that a movie a little like that is running in the background while I type this, but it’s for a good reason and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll explain.

A week or so ago, I was meditating on the extraordinary power a movie’s music has to evoke emotion, meaning and even a sense of place in the audience.*

So then I got to thinking about all the other clever people who are involved in creating the experience we have when we go to the cinema.

It’s not just the actors, although they get most of the glory (when there’s glory to be had).  There’s the cinematographer and the director who frame the shots and decide what we actually see on the screen.  There are the production and set designers and builders who create the world of the movie and provide so many subtle cues about the characters and what’s important.  There are costume designers, who quite literally ‘make’ the characters, if the old saying about clothes is true.  There are sound and lighting and cgi people and foley artists and props people and casting agents and editors and… you get the idea.

When you consider all that talent, all those people who make up the team and bring you the movie, one starts to wonder what the writer brings.

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Musing on Movie Music

I don’t think it’s Friday anywhere in the world, but I beg your indulgence because I missed my Friday Favourites post and I have some favourites to share.

The other night, I went to the girl’s school Music Festival.  They are very into the arts at her school and they have an orchestra, a concert band, a stage band, a brass ensemble, a percussion ensemble, a guitar ensemble, two choirs… you get the idea.  Hence, a music festival.

It was very good.  No, really, it was enjoyable.  It’s a credit to their music teachers that attending these events is much less painful than you might expect.  And they played an extraordinary variety of music, from the latest rap thing (himself did not enjoy it, but I quite liked it) through Burt Bacharach to Tchaikovsky.  And it got me thinking about music.

Specifically, movie music.  They played a medley from Titanic, which was something like this one:

Close to the beginning of this is the section called ‘Take Her to Sea Mr Murdoch’.  And sitting there, in a fairly cramped auditorium at an Australian high school in 2012, I was instantly transported to the sight of the Titanic setting sail in the movie.  And I didn’t just see the visual in my mind’s eye, I felt the swell of emotion, as well.  The pride of all the people responsible for getting her under way, the glory of her size and newness and the swelling hopes of the people going to the new world for a new life.

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What makes a man sexy: what part are we up to now?

So, a few weeks ago, I started talking about what I think makes a man sexy.  To begin with, it was all about the smile.

Then we had the second part, where I told how bravery, commitment and kindness do it for me.

The in the third part, I confessed my predilection for smart, funny and talented gents (not necessarily all at once).

Then there was a fourth one, which was silly, but full of coaty goodness.

Now, due to public demand (one person, I think, but don’t burst my bubble) we will have more coats, but also some slightly more serious analysis of the sexiness of the dudes among us. (I think it’s serious. Don’t judge me.)

To illustrate, I will call upon Mr Darcy:

And a couple of vampires:

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