Posts Tagged ‘advented

14
Dec
10

Advented: day fourteen

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day fourteen – Pass it forward: interesting overheard conversations

You’ve now had thirteen gifts from me. I hope you’ve got me something special in return. What do you mean you haven’t? How selfish of you. It’s really not the season for selfishness you know. There there, don’t cry. Listen, what about something for you to give to someone else? Yes, that’d help wouldn’t it?

Have you ever been walking past people on the street and heard a snatch of their conversation which made you laugh or which really piqued your interest? Nice wasn’t it? Well why not give that little enjoyable moment to someone else?

Crowd in silhouette

The rules of the game are simple and it is best played in twos or small groups, though if you’re alone you can do it by pretending to be having a mobile phone conversation. Essentially, you time saying something interesting/weird/funny so that it occurs when you’re passing someone. The idea is that they hear one sentence or so.

They’re not meant to think you’re doing it for their benefit, in fact it spoils it if they suspect you’re not having a genuine conversation. If playing in groups, the idea is to say the funniest or weirdest thing the stranger is ever likely to overhear in passing.

Fun for you, fun for the person who overhears something like “…of course I’m not allowed near animals anymore, not since the last time…”

You’re welcome.

13
Dec
10

Advented: day thirteen

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day thirteen – A Spotify Christmas

Spotify logoA good Christmas playlist is essential, but it can be difficult to track down all the best songs amid the many low-quality covers out there. Fear not, for I bring you my Christmas Spotify playlist. If you’ve got Spotify, the link below should take you to it.

Enjoy my Spotify Christmas.

12
Dec
10

Advented: day twelve

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day twelve – The Naked Gun

Two weeks ago today, on the 28th of November 2010 the actor Leslie Nielsen passed away. I love Airplane! and the Naked Gun trilogy so settling on one film to feature as part of Advented was difficult but in the end I plumped for the first The Naked Gun.

A spoof detective film featuring the hapless Lt Frank Drebin of Police Squad, its humour lies in the fact that Nielsen as Drebin is largely unaware of the comedy all around him, even whilst participating in it. There are enough great sight gags in there to make it worth your while to keep your eyes on the screen. It’s perfect for a bit of hilarity over the festive period. Acquire yourself a copy, and by the end of it you’ll appreciate the magnitude of Leslie Nielsen’s passing.

11
Dec
10

Advented: day eleven

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day eleven – Brave New World

Brave New World cover imageHow on earth is Brave New World a suitable book for inclusion in a countdown to Christmas?

That’s a question I can’t really answer. It is not Christmas themed in any way, it is not uplifting, it does not champion the human spirit and it will stamp on any seasonal joy you might happen to have. It’s still a book everyone should read, and consequently it’s my day eleven advent gift to you.

It is the future. Mankind is segregated into classes who are physically altered and indoctrinated to better suit the functions society requires them to perform. Epsilon semi-morons toil mindlessly, whilst the developed minds of the Alphas tend the hatcheries and conditioning centres.

Everyone is glad of their station: gammas wear green and are so stupid, alphas work so hard. I’m awfully glad I’m a beta. Everyone belongs to everyone else.

This book will make your soul ache. But it might be the most important gift I give you this advent.


10
Dec
10

Advented: day ten

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day ten – The ending of The Office Christmas Special

It’s easy to forget after these years have passed just how much we cared about Tim and Dawn’s romance in seminal British comedy The Office. For two series we saw them longing quietly for each other, thwarted by circumstance and as the second series ended Dawn departed with her fiance Lee to live in America, leaving her dreams of becoming a childrens’ illustrator and Tim behind.

Meanwhile, gaffe-prone former boss David Brent’s life was hardly shaping up well. Alone and unsuccessful in showbusiness, and following a series of terrible blind dates, he resigned himself to bachelordom. Then during the Christmas party he meets a blind date that seems to go differently.

The closing moments of the Christmas special are where Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant  demonstrate their expert grasp of sentiment. Here are the last ten minutes for you to enjoy again — and if you’ve ever heard a “fuck off” which is more resounding, let me know.

 

 

 

09
Dec
10

Advented: day nine

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day nine – A Toad for Tuesday

I have in previous blog posts mentioned my love for this book. It is, put simply, a perfectly formed children’s story which is charming enough to be accessible even to children in their twenties and upwards.

Warton is a brave (foolhardy?) toad, who decides to visit his Aunt one winter’s day. He’s swiftly caught by an owl who decides to save the toad for a birthday treat the next week. To continue to describe the plot would be to risk crushing the joy of it, but suffice to say it is one of the most profoundly heartwarming books you are ever likely to read.

If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing an important piece of your soul. Pick up a copy, get yourself a big mug of tea and a packet of biscuits, settle down on the sofa and make your life that bit better by reading this book.

08
Dec
10

Advented: day eight

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day eight – L.A. Confidential

Kim Basinger as her character in the filmI’ve got a bit of a thing for noire. I love how gloriously overblown it all is, that heady mix of forties/fifties glamour and modern crime. There are a lot of traditional noire films I could point you to (The Third Man is a good example) but my feeling is that you don’t need to head back to the days of black and white for a good film noire experience.

Set in the fifties, L.A. Confidential is an adaption of the book of the same name written by James Ellroy and follows three police officers as they investigate a case beginning with a multiple homicide in a diner. Hollywood, vice and corruption abound as they dig rather too far for comfort.

The film really sets itself apart by considering deeply the motivations and personalities of its characters: Kevin Spacey’s vapid (or is he?) vice detective, Russell Crowe’s thuggish and simple (or is he?) policeman partnered with Guy Pearce’s by-the-book (or is he?) newly-minted lieutenant.

Everything is suspect… everyone is for sale… and nothing is what it seems — so runs the film’s tagline anyway. One thing which is as it seems though is that L.A. Confidential is worthy of its place as day seven’s Advented gift.

07
Dec
10

Advented: day seven

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day seven – The Towering Inferno

Screenshot from the film showing Paul NewmanChristmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little light disaster, or in the case of this, the ultimate seventies disaster film, a massive and fiery disaster.

It’s not a spoiler to say the plot involves a fire in a skyscraper; the film pretty much follows the Ronseal formula when it comes to its name. There’s a tower and an inferno. It is probably the best old-school disaster flick, and with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen in starring roles it’s got some serious acting chops.

It’s also about three hours long. This makes it the perfect film to have on immediately following Christmas dinner, so when you’re feeling stuffed and you’re drifting in and out of consciousness in front of the TV you can hop in and out of the plot without missing too much; by the time the film’s over it’ll be time for you to rouse yourself in readiness for supper. For some reason (charred flesh?) the TV networks aren’t likely to put it on at lunch, so buy or burn yourself a DVD.

06
Dec
10

Advented: day six

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day six – The TripSteve Coogan & Rob Brydon

There’s a fine line, they say, between comedy and tragedy. In The Trip, an oblique comedy masterclass from Steve Coogan (of Alan Partridge fame) and Rob Brydon (Marion & Geoff) that line is trodden expertly and carefully, resulting in a truly brilliant series of understated comic moments as Coogan and Brydon (playing versions of themselves) visit a series of restaurants in the North of England.

Rarely delivering laugh-out-loud moments, The Trip instead is a continuing stream of entertainment and pleasure. There’s something quite relaxing about listening to the banter between the two stars, who here play the roles of being slightly cantankerous older gentlemen to perfection.

Oh, and they throw in a few impressions along the way too. It won’t be the most spectacular gift I give to you in Advented this Christmas, but it’s a rare festive gem that you’ll be unlucky to miss. Catch it on iPlayer whilst you still can.

05
Dec
10

Advented: day five

On-going series, once a day until Christmas, offering as its treat a book, film, piece of music or other worthy experience. Check them out. It’s my gift to you.

Day five – Walks in the snow

Bit abstract this one obviously. I’ve always loved snow and it was a source of great distress to me that here in England we seemed to have years and years pass without a proper snowfall. As a child it used to snow every winter and it would be thick enough and last long enough for me to build a snowman and engage in prolonged snowball fights. Once some older boys built an igloo in the field near my house.

Britain tends to go a bit mad now about snow. It’s as though it is more than our minds can cope with; producers on the news seem to have a stroke and their brains more or less dribble out of their nose whilst they write headlines about SNOWTASTROPHE and ARCTIC ARMAGEDDON. Meanwhile sensible people enjoy the prettiness of it all, and set off a bit earlier to work.

I took some pictures during a few days of heavy snowfall this week. If there’s snow on the ground where you are then go for a walk in it. Otherwise live vicariously through my photography. Click the image below to visit the gallery.




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