The Best of My Zest

Woah! It has been a while hasn’t it? My life seems to have gone into hyper-drive lately so the blog has taken a backseat recently. However I have five minutes so I will cram as much into this post as humanly possible. So! Where to start?…

  • Social Network – A great film. Fincher has been one of my favourites for a while and this is no exception. When I first heard about a film that involved hackers, rich boating Havard kids making even more money and Justin Timberlake that did not sound like my kind of film. At all. Anyway, I then saw the trailer and still wasn’t entirely convinced but the trailer did look awesome. It was only when I found out Fincher directed it I wanted to see it. My girlfriend and I both thoroughly enjoyed it though perhaps for different reasons. Ostensibly a film about nerds and the rich getting richer does not sound fun on paper but Fincher edits fantastically well and keeps a breathless pace throughout using natty dialogue to keep things moving and to keep it funny. The guy who plays Eduardo hands in a star turn before his life is ruined by being Spiderman. It also contains the most brilliant use of CGI EVER. The Winklevoss twins, the studly boating twins, are a pair of very well-studied characters by the two actors who have amplified their differences as well as their similarities to a minute degree. Oh wait, did I say ActorS I meant ACTOR. I was convinced it was two guys throughout. Subtle and ingenious using doubles and compositing I have only ever been ‘fooled’ by CGI once before, this is a sign people might finally be getting the hang of this digital melarkey. Anyway, it is great. Go and see it.
  • Limbo – I cannot praise this enough. Okay, it’s a computer game but it may well be the most beautiful and atmospheric thing I have seen in my life. It is a brilliant (if short) game that never overplays anything and preys on real, proper fear not just fear of dying but actual fear. Fear of what we don’t know or can’t see and primal things like spiders, angry noises and having to just cope with a dead body. The title is also so unbelievably perfect too. Look up a traditional (and Catholic) definition of the word limbo in the dictionary, startling and makes the game all the more moving and elegiac. Magnificent in every way, everyone should at least watch a video of it on you tube.
  • In the Penal Colony – Okay I’ll meet this head on. I like Opera. Not the American chat show host the genre of arts. So if you were keeping score that’s poetry, opera and ballet I like. Why yes I do have a lovely collection of shirts, thanks for asking… Anyway, sweepingly generalising homosexual stereotypes aside, In the Penal Colony is a short story by Franz Kafka that is, as with most Kafka, rather bleak. It concerns itself with a traveler being explained a horrific and brutal device of torture and execution while the simpleton condemned sits by and watches. To anyone who knows Philip Glass this sounds right up his street and it is. A string quintet was all that was necessary and deeply affecting. The use of a darker monotone in the recitative is in constant use and makes the whole thing far more bleak than even the text suggests. Some refer to Philip Glass as the “audio equivalent of dentistry” but I think this undermines how varied he is. This, admittedly, uses repetition and sound as a tool to make you uncomfortable and it works but this does not make it a bad thing. We were also sat on stage with the cast making it even more uncomfortable. I won’t spoil the ending but it is truly shocking at that close range. Even if you don’t ‘do’ Opera, it’s worth a look. Though perhaps not if you’re in a good mood.
  • Saddleworth Moors – History has leant it an uneasy character but it looks gorgeous in the autumn. Lovely day.
  • King of Kong & Man on Wire – I’m not a great one for film documentaries, I’m more of a BBC Nature Documentary viewer myself but these two utterly changed my opinion. Both films have a plot like a blockbuster, a Gunslinging rivalry and a Heist respectively, and deliver in as spectacular a way. King of Kong a documentary about two men going for the world record on the original arcade machine of Donkey Kong does NOT sound interesting to most but the two main characters are so beautifully captured – an arrogant narcissist and a kind-hearted, if nerdy, family man – and their rivalry so incredible, it makes it an edge of your seat voyage and so bizarre it has to be true. Utterly riveting, not just for nerds. I watched it with a fairly diverse group and we were all hooked by the end. Man on wire is the story of Phillipe Petit who set out to try to do a high wire walk across the twin towers. The structure and Phillipe alone carry this film, uniquely told and beautifully shot and edited this, again, is much more than a description suggest. They are both available on DVD.
  • Writing – So I have been writing a lot lately for two reasons. An interest by parties unnamed has been taken in the novel I wrote at the beginning of this year so I am currently trying to edit that AND (you heard it here first) I am to be published in BlankPages a Manchester web ‘zine in December. The poetry editor picked me up and I am the featured poet in the December issue. Woohoo! I still have some of my pamphlets available if anyone is interested. *wink*
  • Batman: The Animated Series – Okay, okay, I know, I am a nerd but I bought the whole first series and it is BRILLIANT! You know how sometimes you go back to one of your childhood favourites from TV and it is nowhere near as good? This wasn’t like that. It is incredibly well written and the music! Oh the music! It actually has a score, with an orchestra, no synths or samples, a real orchestra playing live original pieces. Each story is original, well acted, succinct and fun. I wish people would remove the stigma of Comic Books as there is something for everyone in its canon. Though I may as well ask the sun not to shine…
  • Shark in Venice – It’s a film. ‘Nuff said.
  • Music – When I first moved to Manchester one of the many pipe dreams I had was that I might be able to play a nice outdoor gig in the sunshine with a small but appreciative crowd, with me on guitar. Nothing spectacular. Without realising it I accomplished that little dream the other month with my friends James and Paul in St. James’ square outside the village hall in town. It was a great gig, if a little brief, but I loved it and James, Paul and I are starting to rehearse to see if we can get a proper band out of the initial cobbled together nature of the original. I am having to brush up on my guitar skills but what we have in mind is by no means virtuoso so I should be okay. I am also finally getting to play the Epiphone in anger. I have also been playing a Matt&Phreds a lot which is great fun and keeps my piano skills at a reasonable level. Also listen to Nick Cave, Ludovico Einaudi and Maggot Brain by Funkadelic.
  • Life in General – Other than work being unfeasibly busy lately life is GOOD. This is largely helped by the presence of a certain young lady on the scene, which as most of you know is a welcome relief after the nightmare at the beginning of the year. I have a great flat that is essentially finished/furnished, money isn’t too tight, I am getting to do lots of things I like doing a lot more, so in general life is pretty damn good at the mo. I am praying it stays that way or even (possibly) gets better?…

That should hold you till I have some more time for an in-depth post about something trivial or irrelevant.


P.S. There are a series of links hidden on this page. Click on ’em all.


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