15 Jul

Penguin Cafe Orchestra

It was a couple of years ago I first heard the Penguin Cafe Orchestra on 6 Radio, the BBC’s radio channel on digital radio (DAB) where you can hear modern music with some meaning. The track played was The Sound Of Someone You Love Going Away And It Doesn’t Matter. The music fitted my mood that evening and the title made me laugh. Eventually, this summer I was given their album Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The first track is so happy it made me dance. I love happy music.

15 July, 2009

15 Jul

Some Good Choices

Last weekend our local Blockbusters had an offer of four DVDs for four nights for £10. Marian and I had already decided that we would choose one each for our weekend chill out, so we chose Slumdog Millionaire, The Secret Life of Bees, Changeling and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. For once we enjoyed each film; often we feel thoroughly downhearted at the depressing plot or lack of hope or redemption in recent stories. Not that these were particularly hope filled. Both Slumdog and Bees were more optimistic and fanciful than hopeful. Changeling and The Boy raised interesting questions – the first in a long series of US navel gazing about internal corruption and the second about the consequences to oneself of one’s own choices for evil. If you only want a superficial, unrealistically happy film that skirts real questions of life and morality, choose Mamma Mia. Or a thousand others. Meanwhile, I’d recommend these four.

15 July, 2009

02 Jul

Ghengis Khan

Years back I bought a history of Ghengis Khan in Bangalore airport. The style is a mix of travelogue and history revealed, as the author travels around Mongolia in the late 20th Century. Coincidentally, shortly after her birthday, Marian and I saw a film set in Mongolia about the camel who cried. Note I used the personal relative pronoun there; that’s because the first-time mother camel didn’t bond with her baby. The family’s efforts to ensure the little camel is fed and mothered properly are the core of the story. As parents, we both felt the tension and the hopes of the nomadic family, who cared for these and other camels on the steppe. If you can track down a DVD, it’s a great film–somebody’s film school project, too. Back to the book. One new word I learned from it was debouch, which is what a river does when it broadens out on a wide plane entry to a sea or lake. The author also likened the effects of a Mongolian ice storm to a carapace, the shell of a tortoise. Such a covering denies food to the otherwise hardy horses bred there, and leads to early death. As to Ghengis Khan, we are still exploring pre-Khan history.

2 July, 2009