Saturday, April 07, 2012

Odd phrases, J S Bach, Moby Dick and Miss Pettigrew

Just a little catchup on the HitTail side of things....the following four phrases are the ones most used to get to my site this last week or so.  And what an odd collection they are!

brownlee finland
mother armwrestling
esther muir plastered
steve jobs graduation quotes

Gerry Brownlee is the man in question in the first phrase: he's a politician here in New Zealand, and recently made a bit of a gaffe in regard to some comments given in Parliament about the country of Finland. Supposedly the Finns got very up in arms about the comments.  Quite honestly, it seems unlikely.  Do most of them even know where New Zealand is?

Mothers and armwrestling seem to be a bit of an odd combination, although there are some You Tube videos showing mothers armwrestling with their teenage sons.    Last time armwrestling turned up on HitTail in relation to my site it was to do with a man armwrestling his wife.   Not sure how the mother got in on it. 

Esther Muir was an actress who had a role in the Marx Brothers film, A Day at the Races.  Like most women who wind up in Groucho's arms in these movies, she suffers considerable embarrassment at the hands of his brothers.  

I don't need to explain the last phrase.  Do I?

Yesterday I came across a site called Grooveshark.  It's a place where you can stream endless amounts of music, or buy it, if you wish.  Since it's Easter Weekend, I had a thought that I'd make an effort to hear Bach's St Matthew Passion.  I know a little of it, but not the whole wide mountain range of it.  Anyway, it's all available on Grooveshark, in several versions.  Curiously, the tracks from these versions are mixed up to glory, so playing them in the order they appear means you're hearing a random version of the Passion. This isn't an entirely bad thing, and some tracks get repeated straight away with a different choir and orchestra, or turn up further down the list.  I've just left the whole caboodle running for the last couple of days, when I've been here, and gradually Bach's music is making more of an impression on my brain than it has before.  

On another front, I'm starting to struggle with Moby Dick, the novel by Herman Melville.  I was enjoying it at first, when he was still writing an actual story, but he gets bogged down in side-paths, which, though they may be interesting in themselves, just feel like they're holding up the real meat of the book.  Ishmael ceases to be a character in the story, almost, and becomes just a narrator of events in which he often has no part.  It's taken a long time for Captain Ahab to appear, and when he does you rather wish he hadn't.  Keeping him mysteriously below decks on a permanent basis might have worked better.  He insists on speaking in a pseudo-Shakespearian mode, as though he wasn't living in the same century as the other characters.  Not only that, Melville starts giving 'stage directions', and these have a Shakespearian feel to them too, which makes the whole thing stop being a story and begin to be almost a piece of postmodern literature (and I'm not saying that in a complementary way). 

I'll persevere a little longer, in the hope that something actually happens. 

Last night we watched a film called Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.  It was superbly designed: the colour coordination between costumes and scenery in particular was just wonderful.  It was pretty well acted too, given that most of it was a load of old twaddle.  I'm not really sure what it was meant to be about: surely not the idea that a young person can have a change of heart and settle down to a straightforward marriage after having had three affairs on the go at once and being in general a total twat.  The change of heart wasn't convincing, because it was supposed to take place during one set of 24 hours, and be initiated by a woman who didn't appear to have all that much nous to begin with.  Nevertheless Amy Adams did her utter energetic best as the ditzy girl; Frances McDormand did her best to turn from being a lifeless frump to someone who could let her warmth hang out and make other people feel all cosy; Ciarán Hinds played a bloke who designed women's lingerie but decided to go back to designing men's sox (don't ask me why) - somehow he fell in love with the McDormand character without anything much having clicked between them.  The inimitable Shirley Henderson (known for her role as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter series, though she's had some marvellous parts in other films) played Ciarán's ex-fiancée, and was positively statuesque in spite of her limited height. She stole the show with her stylish playing, I felt, but her character was underdeveloped, and in the end had nowhere to go and dropped out of the movie. 

The sort of movie where you always hoped things would actually get up and go.  Nope, they didn't. 

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