Monthly Archives: February 2011

Wonderful Life

Today is one of those days. The neighbor’s dog decided that 7 a.m. was the perfect time to wake up on a Saturday morning so he performed his usual barking routine, I had a splitting headache and there’s a water “issue” in the house that may take a few days to get fixed and which, to my everlasting pleasure, requires a lot of noise. If that wasn’t enough, my mouse died (no, it wasn’t eaten by a cat – computer mouse, I mean), and I’ve had some trouble uploading this video too! Well, the day is still young, but I sure hope things improve. It’s still a …….


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Life and Work

Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. (Gustave Flaubert)

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The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

Imagine you are in a small theater, watching a play. The lights are all trained on the stage and you are close enough to see the people whose dramatic lives unfold under your curious eyes. You see a room, four people, a bed on which a man lies down, eyes half closed, telling a story. His body burned black in places, his thin frame fits the bed so well it seems he is molded into it. The other three are listening as if under a spell, because they all want to know who he is. He is the one keeping them together.

The nurse, Hana, young and marked by the tragedies of war, by death and grief and loneliness; the thief Caravaggio, who came because he knew Hana’s father and now she is his only connection with a world he was once a part of; and Kip, the young sapper in the British army, whose life can end with every minute he spends deactivating the mines the enemies left behind. And him, the burned man, the one they all call the English patient, for want of another name.

The setting is a villa in Italy, a place that was once a nunnery, a hospital and then a German defence and now it’s both a refuge and a trap, for within its rooms are hidden mines that can go off at a wrong move. Mines left behind not long ago by the enemy, fighting in the World War II.

Here time is not measured in hours but in the books Hana reads to the burned man, in the ampoules of morphine she administers him for the pain, in the stories that he tells.

There is nothing left for him now but to tell them his story. How he lived in the desert, fell in love, and wandered for years carrying a book in which he kept maps, drawing, clippings of various kinds, personal notes.

The action is fragmented and elusive. Just when you think the mystery starts to unravel, the lights on the stage go off and then a single ray of light appears, trained on a different person. The people on the stage are surrounded by the stories of sand. The Englishman’s tales carry them into the desert, into another life, and they listen, hoping to find a clue to the man’s identity. Has he really forgotten who he is? How come he can remember so much but not his name?

Reading this book was not easy. There are small fragments like miniature gems in their perfection: the eating of a plum, a voice reading poetry in the desert, a caterpillar moving on someone’s cheek, a breath of a sleeping person. It is one of those books that need to be read at least twice and with each time, perhaps, find another clue, another piece in the great puzzle that is the English patient.

P.S. I read the book in about a week, not because of lack of time but because of the unfamiliar and sometimes difficult style. One of the reasons I read it is because I wanted to watch the 1996 movie, starring Ralph Fiennes, and I didn’t want to do that without having read the book first.

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The gun and the piano

Sunday evening, action movie. Jason Statham’s new “let’s blow everybody up” movie, The Mechanic, held a very pleasant musical surprise. I don’t recall the exact moment in the movie when I heard the song but those first notes of the piano captivated me and made me wonder who the composer was. With a little help from a friend, I was able to listen to both the version of the song that appears in the movie and the original, composed by none other than Franz Schubert. I decided to post them both and I must admit my favorite is the latter, as I find the song in the movie a little too bare, though pleasant nevertheless.


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It’s the weekend again, and as I was thinking about a new song to post here, one came to mind. I heard it on the radio a while back and kept asking myself who the singer was, because his voice is quite unique, but couldn’t place it, so I went to my youtube channel and browsed through my favorites until I found what I was looking for.  The combination of the song with the True Blood images makes for a better viewing experience. 😉

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Nothing to Lose – Lee Child

Maybe a little too technical, maybe too straight forward, maybe without any poetry even in the encounter our hero has with the attractive officer Vaughan, maybe too skeptical and still managing to entertain in spite of all these maybes, that’s Lee Child’s book in a nutshell. If you want more keep reading.

Jack Reacher is a lone army veteran who walks through America. He’s a combination of modern Batman (without the gadgets) and a backpacker (without the backpack). In a western movie he would have a horse and a gun and a big battered hat and maybe a red bandanna. In this book he makes do with an ATM card, a foldable toothbrush and the clothes on his back. He walks and sometimes manages to get a ride from people who are not scared by his impressive physique and threatening mien.

His travels lead him through two small towns, Hope and Despair. In Despair he is thrown out and made to understand he’s not welcome back but nothing can stand in the way of Reacher’s curiosity. Not the town deputies, not the wealthy Mr. Thurman, and not even the danger he puts himself through time and again. And when young women start to arrive in Hope looking for their husbands or boyfriends, his curiosity is at its peak. There is a reason why nobody is allowed to linger in Despair and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it.

It was difficult at times to accept Reacher’s self-assurance and the manner in which he sometimes talked but in the end it was a nice change of pace from the romantic storyline of The Thirteenth Tale. The language is uncomplicated, the story believable and the characters while not as detailed as I wished for, still managed to fulfill their roles – the equivalent of a thriller movie.

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For all the people in love and for those who are still searching, a little Amor.

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Bad Habits

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.

(Unknown author)

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Sunday – Dance

I bought an mp3 player not a long time ago because I was getting bored with the same music they were playing at the gym. And so looking for songs that get the blood flowing and help with the exercising I came across this.


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Melancholic Monday

Just because it’s not the weekend it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some music. This next song has a story, too.

I was on an airplane trip last year and it was night and I was too sleepy to watch any of the movies they had available. So I listened to some music. Leaned back in my chair (not too much though, as airplane chairs are one of the most uncomfortable I had to sit on), closed my eyes and drifted away. This piece of music was so relaxing and soothing I nearly fell asleep. Naturally, I was curious who the artist was and naturally, I didn’t have anything to write on – I did have a pen, though – so I put down the name on a piece of paper napkin and placed it in the book I was reading at the time which was The Collector, by John Fowles.  I still have both and I haven’t forgotten the song.


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