A Quiet Normal Life

A life lived half in Atlanta, half in London

Archive for the ‘Good things in life’ Category

The things that make my life smile

Posted by brendanstallard on October 22, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 200610:35 AM

Worst book of the year, so far (and very unlikely to be surpassed) is the utterly dreadful: “Natural Selection” from David Freedman. Entirely written to formula, with bad dialogue and idiotic characterization: at times this seems like a book written by a schizophrenic or two people.

At times the prose flows quite well and the dialogue seems real: but then descriptions of the bogey creature come up again and complete romantic disbelief is required to make it acceptable.

I was determined to find my way through this book, because I enjoy a cassandra tale, but this was actually aggravating me more and more to the point where just prior to the eventual denoument I assume will eventually arrive…….I just gave up in fury.

Back to the drawing board, Mr Freedman.



Posted in Books (Audible and Written) | Leave a Comment »

Posted by brendanstallard on October 20, 2006

Man Of The Year

This is a Robin Williams movie, nothing specially wrong with that, but I rather object to movies where the star is front and centre through the entire movie. I think it gives the actor far too much power over proceedings.

Actors need vanity, it goes with the nature of the job. Like a prosecutor needs to be a bastard with massive ego, actors need to be vain and self centred. Hence they need direction. I’m okay with them being directors, when they can clearly bring the knowledge and experience of being in front of the camera to the back of it. Where it mostly doesn’t work, with a few honourable exceptions, is when they alternate between directing and acting at the same time.

Robin Williams is a bit of a curates egg, but kudos to him, he can act and he can be damn funny. He’s not quite my cup of tea, but I respect his abilities especially as his appearance isn’t exactly top drawer film lead.

“Man of the year” follows a fictional and popular television comedian who decides to stand for president following the intervention and suggestion of an audience fan at one of his shows.

Its a comedy with quite a lot of serious undertones, although rather simply drawn, it is well put together and gives its lessons in an appealing way. The director, Barry Levinson, clearly thinks that the win of George W Bush in 2000 was a massive injustice and the dialogue of the movie clearly reflects that opinion, making many references to the debacle in Florida and the entire plot of the movie is drawn on a computing conspiracy.

The metaphor of the comedian, elected on a computer error is clearly pointed at Dubya, and is somewhat late, but enjoyably pursued.

Laura Linney was terrific and mesmerizing, a welcome return to form in a decent movie after the dreadful “Squid and the Whale”. Christopher Walken was his usual excellent self, completely convincing and the rest of the ensemble produced decent performances. I was very happy to see Jeff Goldblum back in the saddle, he’s a fine actor and has plenty of life in him.

The whole thing was a nice, fairly serious comedy which dragged a bit in the final third. In a year of utterly dreadful films, it wasn’t at all bad.


Posted in Films | Leave a Comment »

UK Current Affairs Mailing List

Posted by brendanstallard on October 18, 2006

A plug for a nice list.

For many years, there was a lovely, and lively group of folks who would gather at Compuserves UK current affairs forum. It was seriously busy, but mostly happy group, primarily involved with politics vis a vis UK and USA.

Then AOL purchased Compuserve, it was like letting the viruses in turds manage the water treatment plant and quite the maddest decision in the world that year. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on the web knows that those poor souls with an AOL membership are bereft of something necessary for civilisation and should not be permitted to write or disseminate their thoughts in public.

Eventually, the forum died, not before sterling efforts from Colin, but the new AOL format was too much to take. John Waghorne, through being blind: couldn’t handle all the jiggling about and so opened up a mailing list on YahooGroups.

That mailing list is now going great guns, with expanding membership, and you can join it at:


It’d be good to see you there.

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Posted by brendanstallard on October 16, 2006

I joined Rhapsody, Itunes and Napster when I got my first and “still” hated Ipod, and I hate them all with a passion it is not quite possible to describe.

I care a lot about music, especially ‘real’ music, that takes experience, blood sweat and tears to create and love into shape. Artists who make that sort of music require nurturing and support, only a few of them get rich and a lot of them fall by the wayside into other careers and something less demanding and exposing.

DRM is simply not required for me, because I would NEVER copy and share music to give to friends. If someone asks me for a copy, and I liked them well enough, I’d simply buy them a copy of what they enjoyed hearing out of my collection: and I’ve done that quite a lot.

However, the curse of DRM is with us and fouling up our machines and lives without surcease.

Along cometh Emusic.com who have managed to put together a worthwhile online collection and presence and they are nice, honest and the thing works with almost everything hard and soft. Extraordinary!

Perhaps they are a bit lighter on sheer content than the the behemoths, maybe, but they are heavy on indies and new musicians and that’ll do fer me.!

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A Thumbs Up For Audible.com

Posted by brendanstallard on October 15, 2006

The things I would not be without these days:

1. Audible.com

I love to read, but with advancing age and eyesight going to the dogs, its not the endless fun it used to be. I’m not thrilled about having buds in my ears a lot of the time, but it works after a fashion. I sometimes get concerned and when I’m out on the streets, or on public transport, I tend to wear just a single earpiece. One of those things that hang off the outside of the ear. Call me paranoid if you like, but I’ve always been very aware of people and things around my periphery and hearing is a huge part of that sensory appreciation, so one ear is all my audible books get when I’m out:)

Audible itself is a pleasure to deal with, they aren’t fussy like certain online music sites I will refer to later and have a real tech support with real people there to deal with the remarkably few problems I’ve had dealing with the software and site.

I am an inveterate hard disk re-imager, and I always forget to de-authorize the computer and I need to get them to rejig the numbers. Its just a tech thing for them, throw a switch here and there, and I am one of the honest customers.

I don’t share my stuff with others because I want Audible to succeed and prosper, that way they’ll keep going and I can keep getting audible books for an affordable price. They seem to be reasonable, helpful people and to be honest, they are the sort of people I’d want to work for and with.

So: in short, if you like audible books, you can’t beat Audible.com and no they didn’t pay me for this squawk.

You want to see me moan and complain, ask me about Ipods and Itunes, a group of the most worthless people on the planet…later.

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