Sunday, 10 March 2013

A life beyond blogging

It is 10 days since I put out the “no blogging” sign and it might well be another week or 10 days before I decide to return to active blogging. I am enjoying my freedom. The dental work is not yet fully complete though I can chew from both sides of the mouth. It is nice to be able to do that again, feels like a rebirth. I still need to recharge my batteries some more. I am working on it, by meditating and staying positive as is humanly possible, listening to music, keeping away from the computer after office, watching a little television and an occasional movie, having an early dinner and going for a walk, reading a page or two from a book every night, and turning in early.

Speaking of books, I am still reading the three books I was reading last month and I have now added The Phantom Lady by Carter Brown to the lot. At this point I still don’t know which book I am going to finish first. My reading of books has taken a backseat but as long as I enjoy doing what I am doing I don’t mind. I have allowed books to hold me to ransom for long and it’s time to call a page a page. The books always win.

I also revived my interest in short stories during this period. They are easier to read. You read two or three stories consecutively and you, indeed, feel like you have put a novel out of the way. The flavour of the week has been P.G. Wodehouse beginning with The Man Upstairs and Other Stories—something to smile and laugh about—and a few stories by Rex Stout whose mystery novels I am guilty of having never read. I read these during the office lunch break though I can read them any time from 10 am to 6 pm, between writing a news report and editing copy and “doing” the pages. Journalism comes with a lot of incidental perks.
 

I also watched Jack the Giant Slayer in the theatre. The family had the knives out for dragging them to watch this ridiculous film where Bill Nighy looked equally ridiculous as the near two-faced giant chief and where the talented Stanley Tucci tried hard to resurrect his flagging career as the evil-minded royal advisor and betrayer. I think his character died before interval, I don’t remember. The original plan was to see Zero Dark Thirty, hence the knives.

On television, I watched Crimson Tide (for the third time) because I liked the standoff 
between Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington, inside a US nuclear submarine under water; Wrath of the Titans which had most of the Greek gods pouring out of it, starring Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Sam Worthington as Perseus, Bill Nighy as Hephaestus, and Rosamund Pike as Andromeda; Enchanted, a rather silly fairy tale with Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams, Timothy Spall, and James Marsden also trying, in vain, to revive their careers; Unstoppable, a runaway train with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine on board; and Ratatouille, the most beautiful animated film I have seen this century. It’s also probably the best culinary film in many decades, not that I remember seeing many, though Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina, Judi Dench, and Johnny Depp was an excellent film. 

Until now it’s been easy to hammer out 564 words and saying little of substance. I will make up for the inanity by leaving you with some of the finest lines I have heard in an animated movie, intoned by Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole), the terrifying food critic in Ratatouille. It’s also a fine piece of writing. Check it out.

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defence of the "new". The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realise, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist "can" come from "anywhere". It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."


18 comments:

  1. Glad to see a post from you even if you will be taking another break. Hope the continued dental work goes well.

    The movies you have seen are interesting. Crimson Tide is one of my all-time favorite movies (and not because I went to the University of Alabama, home of the Crimson Tide). I guess it is the combination of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, and so many other good actors too. I also like Unstoppable, what did you think of that?

    I wish I could get into short stories. I also want the story to go on longer.

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    1. Thanks very much, Tracy. I watched CRIMSON TIDE again mainly because of Gene Hackman, one of my favourite actors, though Denzel Washington stands his ground very well, as does he in UNSTOPPABLE which I felt was fairly entertaining though I couldn't help wondering what Chris Pine was doing out there. ENCHANTED was a waste of time and I actually sat through it! I read short stories whenever I feel like—no hard and fast rule like I have for novels—but I intend to read many this year. The shorter stories work better for me.

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  2. Breaks are good for us. Glad you are enjoying yours.

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    1. Thank you, Ryan. I hope to take it easy every now and then, restricting myself to reading books and watching good films and not necessarily writing about either on my blog. I hope to get back next week.

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  3. Welcome back (sort of) - the Pixar film is lovely as you say and beautifulyl made. My 8-yerad-old nieces love it and I am always glad to watch it again with them. Lik UP especially, it is a sentimental film but one with a strong emotional core and made with intelliugence - great quote mate.

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    1. Sergio, RATATOUILLE is a big hit with the family and we watch it, in full or part, whenever it is playing on one of the English movie channels. I am a sucker for animated films and never miss an opportunity to watch one, which reminds me that I also saw BOLT and RIO, the latter being the more delightful of the two.

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  4. My reading has really slowed down too. I haven't found a book lately that has ignited me. Hope to do so soon. Lana has been having dental work done too and is relieved to be feeling better along those lines.

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    1. Charles, there are days when I don't read anything and it takes me a while before I get back into a reading frame of mind. Dental work can be a pain and the frequent visits to the dentist can get annoying. I am glad Lana is feeling much better now.

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  5. Greetings, Prashant! Glad to hear you're enjoying your "break" (can't really call it that completely, as you're still posting!) That quote from RATATOUILLE is wonderful and very insightful as well. Great film. Enjoyed your catch-up post. Continue to feel better and recuperate!

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    1. Thank you, Jeff. I guess I can't keep away from blogging. I have realised it can be quite addictive. Thankfully, I am neither on Facebook nor on Twitter to make it any worse. I agree, RATATOUILLE is a wonderful film and, as Sergio mentioned, sentimental and emotional, too, in many ways. A well-crafted movie.

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  6. It's great to step back & realize blogging is a hobby & not a job.

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    1. Parrish Lantern, you said it, though "It's great to step back" from everything that one does. Blogging often feels like a 9 to 5 job, or at times 9 to 9 activity, for when I am not posting something on my blog I am busy reading other blogs and leaving comments, which I enjoy doing provided I have something meaningful to say.

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  7. I've been slowing down on my blogging duties too, Prashant. Taking a break in my own way. :)

    Sorry about the dentist thing. I'm due for some myself but I keep putting it off hoping somehow it will all just go away.

    The one movie you mentioned that I've been meaning to watch is UNSTOPPABLE. Sounded like fun. Did you enjoy it?

    Oh yes, the food in RATATOUILLE is marvelous looking. Love the scene with the rat in the bottle at the riverside. How many of us would have opened that bottle and freed the little fellow?

    I like to think I would have. :)

    Have some nice leisurely time, Prashant. Blogging shouldn't be a chore.

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    1. Yvette, what do you know! I have another visit to the dentist lined up and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. UNSTOPPABLE is worth seeing if you have absolutely nothing else to watch. Washington and Pine don't have much to do in the film except go where the the runaway locomotive takes them. RATATOUILLE is a marvellous animated film and one of the best I have seen. That scene you mentioned is ever memorable. There are so many good things about this film.

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  8. Prashant, I have missed your posts so am glad that you'll be back within a fortnight. Blogging can be demanding at times but then if I don't review the books after reading them, it feels like I have kept a job unfinished.

    Get well soon.

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    1. Thanks a lot, Neer, and I appreciate the sentiment. I have missed visiting a lot of blogs these past few weeks and hope to make up for the unintended lapse. I like to review the books I read and the films I watch, too, though henceforth I'm going to be more discerning than I have been.

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  9. I'm no big fan of animated films, but I did thoroughly enjoy RATATOUILLE. Bill Nighy and Stanley Tucci are both at the top of my favorites list. Nighy has this funny shtick I never tire of, taking a beat before speaking a line. It loads the line with extra irony. CHOCOLAT was OK as a film, but I loved everyone in the cast. There are a lot of films like that, usually with Judi Dench and/or Maggie Smith.

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    1. Ron, I'm a great fan of animated films and never tire of watching them. ICE AGE, for instance, had me in splits and I must have seen it more than 10 times. JACK THE GIANT SLAYER was a total waste of time. I like Stanley Tucci, too. He's quite an endearing actor, especially in films like THE TERMINAL, MAID IN MANHATTAN, and SHALL WE DANCE. I liked CHOCOLAT for the cast too, Alfred Molina being one of my preferred actors. I agree, Dench and Smith find their way into some very unlikely films such as THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011) shot in India.

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