Monday, January 25, 2016

On sidling back in...

This weekend I watched Star Wars IV and V.

Nearly half a century old and I’d never seen a single Star Wars film until last December when Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens came out. I wish I could say that I loved it so much I had to watch the rest of the films, but alas, no. I actually fell asleep in VII and woke up at a pivotal moment on a bridge! (No spoilers, here.) I went because I got infected by the excitement and I had a massive dose of FOMO.

So Fear of Missing out caused my cinema trip in December and - look away hardcore fans - I wasn’t really converted… so what made me watch IV and V this weekend?

I’ve signed up for Robert McKee’s STORY seminar in London in May and as a result I’ve been sent a list of films that he discusses in the seminars. If you haven’t done your homework you’ll miss out. Alarmingly for me, the homework reads like a list of films I’ve been refusing to see since Husband and I have known each other… Star Wars, Terminator, Alien: Yep, they’re all there. (For many years I had a blanket refusal in place to see any film containing guns, dinosaurs or outer space. I've been seriously ground down by the old bloke and I've had to change all that! Hmmm: note to self, I don't see him watching any more bonnet films...)

The first homework film I braved was The Godfather and yeah, I quite enjoyed it. Next one was Terminator. Actually I think I saw this way back when because I remember being really cheesed off that he kept getting up (yes, yes, I know that's the whole point…) but, you know what? In spite of said irritation, I quite enjoyed it too and have even considered watching the next one which isn’t even on my homework list.

So the plan was made by Son and Husband that this weekend we’d do Star Wars IV on Saturday and Star Wars V on Sunday; both are on my homework list. I was reluctant after falling asleep during VII back in December but I was persuaded by the prospect of a young Harrison Ford.

It was gutting… Star Wars IV just didn’t really do it for me. I really wanted to like it; something in the films clearly moves the men in my life and I didn't want to be the killjoy that couldn't see the magic. It's not that it's for children - thought it clearly is - because I loved Toy Story and Shrek but I've an inkling I know what annoyed me. I can almost forgive the plethora of silly sounds made by various creatures and droids but the humans…. Crumbs I find it tough to forgive them: Luke Skywalker is so whiney. I know he has to have a character arc, but really? Such a whinge bag? And as for the pleasant anticipation of a young Harrison Ford. Ugh; bloody patronising shit. If I were Princess Leia and he called me ‘sweetheart’ again in that patronising tone, I’d’ve shot him in the groin.

I tried to get out of watching V on Sunday by putting it off to the next week and then I realised it might be better to just get it out the way. My homework list is my homework list and Son seems to be particularly enjoying the power to wield it in my face in some horrifying and ironic reversal in our situation. So I watched it... but *sigh* Luke Skywalker, despite finding a passion in life, was still brattish and Han Solo is still a sexist jerk; C3PO (such a misery) and Chewbacca (screechy man in gorilla suit) were still kind of annoying. Only R2D2 was quite cute.

Then we met Yoda.

OMG Yoda. Did we make Jedi a religion yet? I want to join.

Maybe, maybe I will try another Star Wars after all…

I love Yoda. So wise, he is.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What I read in 2015

According to Yes by Dawn French
Capital by John Lanchester
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz*
The Sisterhood by Emily Barr
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
The Bees by Laline Paull
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
After You by Joyo Moyes
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Out of My Depth by Emily Barr
Backpack by Emily Barr
Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen
We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers*
Us by David Nicholls
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
The Lie by CL Taylor
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Lady Worsley's Whim by Hallie Rubenhold
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
H is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald*
Mothers & Daughters by Kate Long
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton*
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth*
Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters
Hello From The Gillespies by Monica Mcinnerney
Balancing Act by Joanna Trollope
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang

*Book Club choices

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I read in 2014

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters*
Her by Harriet Lane
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick
The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson
The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster
The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth
Life Drawing by Robin Black
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson*
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
Strength in Strangers by Lauren Britton
The Land of Decoration by Grace McLeen
Erosion by S A Hemmings
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain*
Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
The Accident by CL Taylor
Secrets and Rain by Cally Taylor
The White Cuckoo by Annie Ireson
The Diary of The Lady by Rachel Johnson
Out of The Ruins by Sue Guiney
The Moment by Claire Dyer
The Rosie Project by Graeme C Simsion
Wake by Anna Hope
The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall by Paul Torday
All Change for Nurse Millie by Jean Fullerton
Woman Walks into a Bar by Rowan Coleman
Call Nurse Millie by Jean Fullerton
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
The Lewis Man by Peter May
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriaty
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
Longbourn by Jo Baker

*Book Club choices

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A tiny flaw in the plan...

Ahhh, so there was something of a weakness in my plan, wasn't there? On Sunday, did I not say something along the lines of "there were some good things in 2013 and I shall come and tell you about them"? No, no, it's not exactly that I've forgotten what they were; I do have photographic evidence to remind me what I did last year. I've, errrm, just forgotten the precise details. It transpires that I can only come here and tell you, er, vaguely what happened at the beginning of last year.

At the end of February last year I joined an excursion to a mozzarella making Buffalo farm outside of Bangkok. I have no idea now where it was but it didn't take long to get there. I expect if you wanted to know and Google couldn't tell you, I could find out. It was fascinating. I think. I learned lots about making mozzarella. I took lots of pictures. And I DO remember thinking you'd be as fascinated by the process as I was... Only beyond hot and cold water to shape the mozzarella into those rotund yummy balls, I'm all of a blank.

Still, I don't suppose there are many people who come to Tea Stains to learn anything... So, sorry and all that; apart from one picture that illustrates I DID actually see mozzarella being made, instead of any details whatsoever about the process, here are some pictures of the lovely, milk yielding buffalo:

LOOK! This is something to do with making mozzarella.

This is my best side.

Well, we ARE water buffalo...

Check out those eyelashes. 

What? It's mud; mud's good for the skin.

Hmmm, I'm a tiny bit freaked out by their cloven hooves.

Gorgeous girls

And my favourite picture of all....

Sunday, January 05, 2014

My wonky New Year

Has all that overt New Year optimism gone? Is it safe to come out now? 

I felt unaccountably low on New Year’s Eve, which Husband and I spent on our sofa watching the last series of Luther. Rock and Roll we're not.

I say unaccountably because yes, it had been a rotten year, but I couldn’t see why, on this random date, I should feel sadder than I had, I don’t know, the week before… (I know how arbitrary the notion of New Year is: here in Thailand we celebrate three New Years: 31 December, the Chinese one in Jan/Feb time and the Thai one in April. Useful, huh? Plenty of opportunity to reassert broken resolutions!)

We can’t breathe for ‘looking back and looking forward’ articles/statuses/programmes at that time of year and so perhaps, however reluctant, I’m hardwired to do some assessing of my own, whether I wanted to or not.

I didn't want. But yes, 2013 was a pretty crappy year for us lot. The Grim Reaper has been stepping out of the shadows, flicking his black robe menacingly and doing his stuff before sashaying back into the recesses. I am really glad to see the back of it.

But you know what was good? Ha! I laugh in the face of being out, drinking too much Prosecco… I woke up on 1 January feeling positive and ready for a new start: I’m either a cliché, or that’s genetically determined too. And life never is only awful, is it? There are always positives to see even if they are teeny weeny ones. Or sometimes, things need looking at from a different perspective.  I stood on my balcony at midnight this year, taking pictures of the fabulous fireworks display so that I could post them here, and look, they are probably the worst set of photos anyone’s ever produced. Almost every single one is out of focus and yet… I still love them - for this was my wonky New Year.

And that’s what I’m going to start the year blogging with: documenting those little tiny good things from last year and some of the GREAT BIG BLOODY amazing things too because  they were there and I missed writing them down on my blog.  If this year’s pitiful attempt at blogging counts, then Tea Stains has been here for seven years and it seems to me to be worth something.

So before I get more Pollyanna on you, I shall go. But I’ll be back.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I read in 2013

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Benedict's Brother by Tricia Walker
The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday
The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday
The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday
Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday
The Twins by Saskia Sarginson
Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway
House of Silence by Linda Gillard
Stoner by John Williams*
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvette Edwards
The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah
Summer of '76 by Isabel Ashdown
Carol by Patricia Highsmith
Diary of a Provincial Lesbian by VG Lee
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman
Build a Man by Talli Roland
What The Grown-Ups Were Doing by Michele Hanson
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
The Silver Locket by Margaret James
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicles 1) by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Catching the Sun by Tony Parsons
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
White Cargo by Felicity Kendal
Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada*
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
Restless by William Boyd
The Knot by Mark Watson
Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest
My Future Husband by Karen Clarke
Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd
My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary by Rae Earl
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Winter Games by Rachel Johnson
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins*
You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane
Jubilee by Shelley Harris
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

*Book Club choices

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday's Window: a little bit of drama

I love love love these. I'm not sure of my facts because they were taken a few months ago and I didn't label them but I think they were in the Siam Centre. (If anyone knows differently, please let me know and I will happily credit them.)

I love the drama and the sense of the macabre they've created by playing with illusion. (Do you see the half hat?) It's that dolls with scary faces thing (Magic, anyone?) They terrify me and make me laugh in equal measure.