One of those Christie stories I've seen as a (quality!) TV movie, but as per usual, I'd already forgotten the murderer. What I do remember from the moOne of those Christie stories I've seen as a (quality!) TV movie, but as per usual, I'd already forgotten the murderer. What I do remember from the movie is the suspense. I didn't get that much here, except maybe at the end. The story started in a kind of humouristic tone with the prickly but gentle descriptions of the characters, but then that subsided and the atmosphere changed into a more flat and slightly boring middle part, gathering pace when more murders started occurring. Mitzi's presence as a goofy and crazy foreigner started to get old really fast and kind of irksome and out of place, although there was briefly some potential to deal with the post-war trust issues.
The mystery itself was still great overall (albeit a bit heavy-handed and repetitious with the clues towards the end), and the second half gradually amped up the volume, making me stay up way too late and just run through the last 80 or so pages. Confusion and making things seems different than they actually are my favourite things in mysteries. What really impressed me was the identity of the murderer, though. I had a pale inkling about how things would turn out, but the way the revelation was actually handled was skillful and completely convincing. It's not easy to make a murderer like that to seem an almost pitiful lost cause who could have easily turned out differently, while at the same time also appearing to be an obvious nutcase. It's not the first time either that I've noticed Christie's acuity when it comes to human behaviour and character....more
London is enveloped by an almost apocalyptic smog that obscures everything, both physically and figuratively speaking. A murderer is wandering the strLondon is enveloped by an almost apocalyptic smog that obscures everything, both physically and figuratively speaking. A murderer is wandering the streets, searching for a way to a treasure. Albert Campion is called to help on the case, but he doesn't really do much detective work, appearing instead as a distant character mostly hovering in the background. Misleading, because the series is supposed to contain Albert Campion mysteries. Campion isn't even his real name! Allingham does a lot of dwelling with the characters' personalities and their behaviour and whatnot, but the actual crime solving is left on the sidelines, whereas psychological ponderings take up a lot of space.
I ended up feeling conflicted about the whole book, because Allingham is wonderful at describing London and the effect of the smog. The side characters obsessed with the treasure are bizarre, in a good way. My expectations just didn't click with what I got in the end, and one would have hoped the meditations on philosophical and theological issues had been more integrated into the actual story. Now they seemed disconnected, made reading a bit sticky, and stretched the plot unnecessarily (or more like halted it completely). On the other hand, Campion didn't seem to have a purpose in the story, so he could have been left out entirely without it affecting in any way to anything.
However, despite the poor pacing etc., the gloomy atmosphere and the fascinating ending won me over, so I'll continue with the series. Maybe start from the beginning to see if the novels are any different there, or if Campion is introduced more comprehensively....more
The purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial kThe purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial killer (or at least most of them) and acting as introductions. I was testing Kindle in my phone the other day, and this was available for free in Amazon's Kindle books, so I figured I wouldn't be losing anything by at least trying this out.
Well, I did finish this, since I was morbidly curious about how much the level of craziness would grow, but otherwise I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed.
Obviously, there are interesting details here. John Gacy performed as a clown, and was known as an outgoing and succesful businessman. One of Jeffrey Dahmer's drugged victims escaped and the police believed he was his lover, because Dahmer (who worked at a chocolate factory at one point) was so well-spoken and calm, but if they had checked his apartment when they escorted them back there, they would've found the decomposing body of one of his latest victims on the bedroom floor. Well, later this happened: "There's a goddamn head in the refrigerator!". Ted Bundy worked at Seattle's Suicide Hotline crisis center, and earned a commendation from the police for saving a toddler. David Berkowitz had no success with women, so he decided to off them instead.
All these, however, I'd rather read from a proper and coherent reference book, or from an individual biography of one of the killers. Keller's approach is much too simplistic and, as he admits, subjective. A bit more polishing would have been great, too, since there's repetition in the parts where the victims are listed. It's all and well to note every single victim and treat them with respect, but at least a bit of variation sentence-wise would have been nice. I found no reason why one should read this instead of a Wikipedia article....more
I was wandering in the library today, looking for something to relax with before going to class, and I was drawn to the comic book shelf, since thereI was wandering in the library today, looking for something to relax with before going to class, and I was drawn to the comic book shelf, since there was a lot of interesting stuff that was possible to finish in two hours. I didn't read the blurb of The Wolf Man, so I thought this would be about the psychological condition where a person believes himself to be a werewolf. Turns out the story was far less interesting than that.
As the most prominent patient of Sigmund Freud, Sergei Pankejeff was used (anonymously) to prove the validity of psychoanalysis, so obviously psychology needs to be an interest at some level at least before attempting to read this, because beyond that the story has very little to offer. There are diversions to historical events and Pankejeff's family, but it didn't help that I don't hold Freud's theories in very high regard. Not only he decided that there should be a predetermined limited time period for Pankejeff's treatment, but he also made absolutely outrageously far-fetched conclusions based on dreams and childhood events (some of them, surprise surprise, supposedly never happened), and wrote that Pankejeff's illness was a fixation (seems to imply that his psychological problems were just a matter of the will).
Pankejeff himself admitted later that he doesn't believe to have been cured, and resented being the poster boy for psychoanalysis. The final frames of the comic represent that: it seems there has never been relief, and the darkness has remained in one form or another. In a way the ending is impressive in its understatedness, but everything before that is just psychology jargon with very little substantial content. The artwork, however, is strangely appealing. It consists mostly of simple sketches, but it's at its best when it has been broken into shadows, symbols, and vague forms. Even the broken mind can be beautiful.
"Rage is a child's form of seduction, provoking punishment to satisfy a sexual desire". Ugh....more
On top of everything else, I'm participating in a saga course at uni, where we read four sagas during the two months and discuss generally about IcelaOn top of everything else, I'm participating in a saga course at uni, where we read four sagas during the two months and discuss generally about Icelandic sagas and their features. This type of introduction is priceless, because it helps to understand how and why sagas are an integral part of Iceland and its history (even today they influence Icelandic authors, and twenty years ago The Book of Icelanders was read as fact in elementary schools).
I somewhat grew to like the simplicity. William Morris's translation is still terse, but also flows beautifully, and the archaic expressions add texture to the language. The form does take time to get used to, but the context and purpose of the sagas explain the presence of family trees, whose presence might seem pointless at first. It's debatable as to how much of the historical aspect of the sagas is true, but they were originally intended as records of history as much as stories about the exploits of certain Icelanders (saga genres vary from family, kings', romances, bishops' etc.). The family lists in Gunnlaug places it in the family saga department, but I don't think it's necessary to remember all the characters, as some of them are there for other than storytelling purposes.
After all, when everything else except the basic storyline is stripped away, what's left is an entertaining and tragic story of Gunnlaug's efforts to be a better man and win Helga as his wife. People throughout the ages have had similar worries and desires, so when Gunnlaug's proposal is rejected by Helga's father, because Gunnlaug is too restless and about to go abroad, some of us can recognize the father's need to want only what's best for his daughter. Gunnlaug therefore departs, and I assume he's welcomed as Helga's fiancé only when he has gained experience and capital.
Echoing Greek tragedies, there's foreshadowing, and the idea of fate eventually catching up on you is carried throughout the story. Foreshadowing can be off-putting sometimes, but in this case it was interesting to see how the events unfolded into the inevitable tragic outcome. Dreams reveal the life of your son, the suffering your loved ones will endure, and no matter how hard you try to escape them, you will be caught by the superior forces that inhabit your enemies.
The saga of Gunnlaug still focuses surprisingly little on what the various family members mentioned did, but I expect some of them will be explained in other sagas. The historical context is only brushed lightly upon by explaining with a few sentences what's going on in the countries where Gunnlaug's travelling. King Ethelred seems to have no problems with Icelanders, but warns Gunnlaug of a Norwegian viking who lends some money from Gunnlaug. Really though, how stupid are you that you just decide to lend money to a complete stranger, because he does after all promise to pay it back! Christ...
Speaking of Christ, the writer of the saga seems to have a problem with pagan traditions: "Next to this befell those tidings, the best that ever have befallen here in Iceland, that the whole land became Christian, and that all folk cast off the old faith". Perhaps not surprising, but the era of Christianizing the Nordic countries is fascinating. Obviously I disagree with the author, but at least his own misgivings and attitudes towards "heathens" don't interrupt the story too much. When in doubt, just wield your axe and all your problems are solved (or not.)
The characters are mostly described in black and white terms, but Gunnlaug's perfection does suffer a small dent when you start to think about the purpose of his journey. Who cares if you forget your promises made at home and wander around in kings' houses and enjoy their hospitality for way longer than you were supposed to, even though poetry is clearly not appreciated anymore? Maybe there's a diplomatic aspect I don't understand, but Gunnlaug adds a sense of ambiguity to the saga's characterizations.
Overall, the fairy-tale like repetition and redundancy won't stop me from reading more sagas. This one at least had a quality of magic and adventure, and something about the pagan era fascinates me to no end. In this case, simplicity leaves more room for imagination....more
Noir. I can always trust it when I feel like reading something where it's guaranteed that things go horribly wrong or someone goes apeshit. Williams hNoir. I can always trust it when I feel like reading something where it's guaranteed that things go horribly wrong or someone goes apeshit. Williams has been an unknown to me until now, but if this really isn't his strongest novels, I'm going to be in paradise later.
A Touch of Death smells like fear, sweat, powder, lipstick, and sex, and it's the colour of sharp scissors in the evening light. Williams's prose is to the point, yet a sizzling atmosphere of passion and suppressed rage are looming somewhere beneath. The plot is unarguably drawn out and as a mere framework not that interesting. However, it sticks with you regardless like a piece of chewing gum. Scarborough seems like a sleepwalker at times, and although he understands the woman in the bikini is trouble, he's unable to turn away. Just like in a nightmare. The final scene in the car is the hottest thing I've read in a while, and the ending is like a slap in the face, although you always knew what would happen. How can anything be ice cold and burning hot at the same time?...more
Jarruttelua alkupuoliskon aikana. Edestakaista jaarittelua, ympäripyöreää jahkailua, teksti kiertää kehää kuin Liisan rukki. Ei luoja. Matin ja LiisanJarruttelua alkupuoliskon aikana. Edestakaista jaarittelua, ympäripyöreää jahkailua, teksti kiertää kehää kuin Liisan rukki. Ei luoja. Matin ja Liisan pirtissä nukutaan, syödään, haukotellaan, poltellaan, kinastellaan. Yleensä realismi on parhaimmillaan ajatuksia herättävää sekä hyvällä tavalla karkeaa, mutta Rautatie on pahimmillaan vain pintapuolista ja yksitoikkoista arkiaskareiden luettelointia.
Ahon kuvaus pääseekin oikeuksiinsa (aivan liian vähäisessä) luontokuvauksessa. Varsinkin ensimmäisen kappaleen alku hengittää nurkassa paukkuvaa pakkasta, korpimetsän hiljaisuutta ja tupien tulisijojen lämpöä. Kun Lapinlahdelle on ilmestynyt rautatie, se tunkeutuu vaivihkaa Matin ja Liisan arkielämään. Uni häiriintyy ja asiasta kinastellaan, kunnes rautatiestä kasvaa lähes myyttinen abstrakti asia, joka vetää hitaasti mutta varmasti puoleensa. Matin ja Liisan taipumus peitellä omaa naiiviutta ja tietämättömyyttä on hyvin tuttua vielä tänä päivänä.
Aika ei ole staattinen. Uusia keksintöjä tulee, käytännöt muuttuvat, maisema muuttuu. Mikään ei pysy samana, ja jotkut tempautuvat tahtomattaan mukaan kun jotkut istuvat rohkeasti kyytiin ja antavat nykyajan puksutella eteenpäin. Matti ja Liisa eivät uskalla myöntää toisilleen ja muille olevansa pelokkaita. Uteliaisuus ei tunnu mukavalta, koska suuren ja mahtavan rautatien kohtaaminen aiheuttaa lopulta vain pettymyksen. Junaakaan pariskunta ei taida ikinä täysin ymmärtää (aluksi Matti luulee sen tarkoittavan tavallisia vaunuja, joita vetää halkoja syövät hevoset). Sää (ja mieli) kuitenkin kirkastuu lopulta: "loristen laski sula vesi yönsä päivänsä rinteitä pitkin, riipaisi kerrassaan kaikki hanget ja nietokset pelloilta ja aitovarsilta alas alankoihin ja notkomaille, joissa lahnankukkia sitten sadoittain sikisi puronvarsille, ja tuore kesänurmi siellä täällä viherteli".
Moni asia pelottaa, mutta lopulta ne eivät välttämättä olekaan aivan niin elämää hallitsevia kuin on luullut. Aho vaikuttaa olevan puolueellinen maalaisten elämäntavalle, mutta ehkä muutoksen kanssa voi sittenkin elää kun on ensin saavuttanut mielenrauhan. Junan rautainen ja koliseva hahmo ei jyrääkään kaikkea alleen niin kuin se eräälle lehmälle teki.
Ehkä minäkin pystyn hyväksymään sen, että Aho tuntuu etsivän esikoisessaan vielä omaa tyyliään....more
I avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunchI avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunch of asswipes. Other overly romantic stuff gives me the same reaction. If I want something light to read, I turn to children's books or horror (preferrably Stephen King). As with everything, there are exceptions (although in this case, very few). When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Notting Hill (1999) (Rhys Ifan's character!) are two examples of movies that aren't my favourites, but which I've still seen at least twice. They have a point, and it's not necessarily a saccharine one. The first Bridget Jones is another one. It's just goofy, down-to-earth, and Bridget herself is the same: ordinary, not a polished model-type with a Pepsodent smile, and has awesome friends.
I've just never read the book, and now I thought would be perfect chance when I'm trying to go through some London books. The problem was the chick lit genre, which I've always found extremely off-putting. I've only read one before this, and it was torture. I've read countless of blurbs and reviews, though, but none of them have actually made me want to try reading the actual thing. The plot lines have mostly just given me a headache. I probably wouldn't have read Bridget Jones, if I hadn't seen the movie first. So, curiosity got the best of me (or maybe the heat of summer weather).
A longer introduction than perhaps necessary, but I thought it's important to understand the background where I'm coming from. Chick lit seems to rely on relatable characters and a sense of fun. Did I relate to Bridget? Hell no. Was this light-hearted fun? Not really.
I'm not in a similar situation with Bridget and her friends. I'm single, that much is true, but I don't have a problem with it or with people in relationships. I don't feel the need to trash men in every conversation (unless there's a very cogent reason, but that applies to women as well). These women don't have an ounce of common sense. Bridget takes Daniel's flirtations at face value, believing he's practically in love with her, and then complains when he's reluctant to commit to her. He said to her face, out loud, that he only wants to have fun! We all have our problems in relationships, and we all make mistakes, but I have trouble understanding why anyone would purposely dig themselves a hole. Have some self-respect. No one likes time wasters, but if you try to explain something into something completely different, then it's on you when things go pear-shaped.
Bridget is a gullible woman, who seems unable to control herself. We all have those problems in some areas, but am I going to be entertained by a book whose main character is supposed to be an endearing disaster? There was nothing funny about Bridget and her antics. She just made me sad. A woman in her thirties, and her life is filled with weight issues and neurotic self-analyzing. A lot of people (not only women) do worry about their weight, and think their self-esteem will magically jump into high heavens if they lose some fat. Bridget's problems are therefore relatable to some (completely understandable, because no one wants to feel like they're alone in something), but what are they really signalling? It's ok to view yourself as a complete useless slob and constantly beat yourself up? Being on a perpetual diet means you can write numbers into your diary, but in reality make little effort to be healthier?
It's not only that I don't understand Bridget, but the characters are very thin. The main love interest is supposed to be a big deal, but he's a mere shadow lurking somewhere in the background, so I never got a sense of who he is. He's forgotten for most of the novel, and then suddenly he appears again like some deus ex machina to make Bridget feel better. What the hell? But it's in a diary form, you say. Yes, but that's no excuse to make an important character virtually non-existent and a mere plot tool. I still have no idea why he's the one for Bridget.
There are some good bits here, though. Someone who admires Joanna Lumley and Susan Sarandon can't be entirely hopeless, and the description of Bridget's godson's birthday was hilarious. I sincerely hope I'll never end up into a situation like that, since it actually reminded me of a nightmare I once had. I also appreciate that Fielding clearly wanted to write something that's not made of pink glitter, but the actual execution missed its mark. Bridget is sassy, that much is true, but her other qualities - oy. If you identify with some of this, cool, but if you don't... There's little else to grab onto.
Somehow I'm guessing Bridget's obsession with self-pity won't end in the other books. She can wallow in it as long as she likes, though, because I'm not listening anymore. There's being sad for a valid reason, and then there's fishing pity and trying to build your self-confidence through others' opinions. Personally, I find it exasperating when everything has to be made a bigger deal than it actually is....more
As a fan of vintage King, I honestly didn't expect much going in. I knew I'd be entertained and sucked in, but the chance of experiencing that particuAs a fan of vintage King, I honestly didn't expect much going in. I knew I'd be entertained and sucked in, but the chance of experiencing that particular atmosphere spiced with crazy supernatural phenomena didn't cross my mind. There was still "that something" missing, but this was a hell of a ride in any case.
We've seen so much of apocalyptic metropolises, but Peyton Place (1956) showed that a small town where people know each other can be a gateway to hell, dome or not. Small-mindedness and gossiping create snakes out of even the most unwilling of residents, but when a town is shut into its own universe, its when people actually start eating each other alive. This is a dynamic that gives a lot of room for exploring several themes and personality types, and King has definitely succeeded. On the surface, Chester's Mill is an unassuming conservative town, but beneath that deceptively moralistic and Christian surface there's poison brewing.
When disaster strikes, often the villains have the most guts to take charge, whereas most are happy to just follow someone and pretend everything's ok and will be in the future. Big Jim is the most vile character I've come across in a long time. When a man of that level of demented starts calling the shots, we all know it can't end well, especially when very few realize he's not actually interested in anyone but his own ass. He's like the shepherd of a flock of blind sheep, the nurse of terminally ill patients, with a severe case of a Christ complex.
In this, though, lies also the weakness of the novel. King resorts to painting his characters with very broad strokes, making villains behave like they're possessed by the devil and heroes are just all-round cool guys destined for greatness. It detracts from the otherwise realistic situation, where the dome ties into more general political issues. Actually, there isn't a lot of cracking under pressure either, meaning that the small town mentality isn't fully utilized, because only existing traits are heightened and secrets not tied to personalities but outward things are slowly revealed.
At the same time, what really pushed this into another level was the black humour, which I appreciate enormously (even when it's distasteful and disgusting á la The Devils ). Murder is compared to potato chips (as an avid fan of almost all kinds of chips, I completely understand the comparison), a priest with mommy issues is flogging himself in orange bike shorts (which themselves are a horror to behold), a "green burrito" carpet, and a self-professed prophet becomes like a Judas of sorts (only high on meth). Oh, and there's a reference to Breaking Bad (and Jack Reacher, but I don't know him as a character so I'm not able to appreciate it). Even Anderson Cooper and Bill O'Reilly make an appearance (albeit through a television screen).
Besides, anyone who seems to have been completely confident about a giant character gallery like this deserves to be applauded. Usually a large amount of characters disturbs me to no end, but in this case there are only a few important key players, while the rest mostly end up as dog food.
So yeah, I had fun peeping through a magnifying class these ants engaging in various activities in a catastrophic situation (and gasping when that disturbing event at the end struck). Easily my favorite of 21st century King....more
Ibsen's plays are a problem for me. They never appeal to me as much as I would like to, although they have a lot that should make me like them. PlaysIbsen's plays are a problem for me. They never appeal to me as much as I would like to, although they have a lot that should make me like them. Plays are obviously at their best when the director and actors breathe life into them and when the scenes are interpreted in different ways in different productions. Ibsen's plays, however, don't even make me interested to see them on stage.
Rosmersholm isn't really an exception in this regard, but I did like it more than the others I've read. It carries its White Horses, the ghosts from the pasts, throughout and there are grand themes from politics to marriage. It all seems to lack depth, though, and the dialogue isn't particularly impressing. Maybe if the play had focused on something more specific and expanded that into something greater? Act four was what really ruined the preceding scenes for me. It's silly, implausible, and sudden. The ending would probably work in a Zola novel, but Ibsen doesn't handle it well. It's almost like it belonged into a different play altogether.
Where Ibsen does succeed, however, is in characterising Johannes Rosmer. I didn't feel his anguish or any of the oppressing presence of the past, but it was interesting to follow Rosmer's struggles to decide whether he should continue his position as a traditional aristocrat believing in Christian values, or to follow the path of liberalism and therefore achieve possible happiness. Rebecca is another well-developed character, who ends up being the catalyst at both social and political levels. The slow build-up gradually reveals the truth behind the characters' masks and uncertainty is replaced with disillusionment and tragedy. I just wish the downright comical ending wouldn't exist....more
Like so many other kids, I was first introduced to the spotted dogs when I saw the Disney movie. Thinking about it now, I think part of the reason whyLike so many other kids, I was first introduced to the spotted dogs when I saw the Disney movie. Thinking about it now, I think part of the reason why I liked it and The AristoCats (1970) was the animation style. The sketch-like style achieved with the cheaper Xerography technique made them slightly rugged, and the only contemporary animated films I've seen that have the same tone are the ones by Sylvain Chomet. Being a cat person, I don't think I ever cherished the 101 Dalmatians (1961) as much as I did The AristoCats, but I wanted to see if the novel has the same charm than the worn out VHS tape we used to have.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is indeed charming and cute, but without underestimating the reader. The Dearly family on a walk with their cook and butler in tow, the infamous Cruella de Vil who was expelled from school for drinking ink now covers everything with pepper and loves fire, Jasper and Saul whose favourite tv show is What's My Crime? and dream of being contestants in it (a parody of the charming What's My Line, which I really recommend checking out from Youtube if you're into game shows and pre-70s celebrities), all the dogs with different personalities etc.
The Dearly family might seem too perfect and syrupy at first, but in the end they come across as very genuine and lovely people (and dogs). Cruella is an over the top caricature-like villain in all her diabolicalness, but somehow it works. I suspect children would find her funny instead of too scary, despite the fact that she's extremely evil. The inner lives of the dogs show themselves as mysterious for the people in the book, but the reader gets to know all the secrets and root for Pongo and his rescue operation. You know everything will turn out alright for them, but you never know who they meet next. The little boy represents all those who are scared of the unknown: he's bad only because he has never known any dogs. It's easy to be dismissive of those who aren't part of your life.
On the other hand, when read with adult eyes there seems to be a stance about domesticity that some may take issue with. Missis Pongo is gentle and motherly but a real dimwit (not knowing the difference between left and right even after an explanation is a source of great amusement for the characters etc.). Cruella is glamorous but evil and a rotten housewife. The comparison is noticeable, but I don't think it poses a big problem, especially when you consider how Mr. Dearly takes care of the puppies and the determination Missis has to find her puppies. There are actually several points where it could be argued that Smith went into the opposite direction than what might be assumed from the publication year.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is heartwarming and quirky, but it didn't quite win my heart. It doesn't have the edge I'm looking for in children's literature, and I just can't make myself to be interested in the adventures of animals (despite being a huge animal lover; a personal zoo would be nice). A lovely light read for a summer day, though, and the different dog personalities are somewhat amusing. The touching ghost dog scene is also particularly noteworthy, and the one where the dogs wander into a church, because it makes you think about Cruella de Vil from an entirely new angle. So there's a lot that speaks for the novel, but it still failed to reach me completely. If Smith has the same approach and writing style in I Capture the Castle (1948), though, then I'll look forward to reading it....more