Monday, 8 March 2010

kitchen magic....

I would say that I'm like Carrie Bradshaw when it comes to most things.... OK, so I don't have her wardrobe, her labels, or I haven't fallen in love with a 'Mr Big' of my own.... yet... and I don't get paid oodles and oodles of money for writing what always seems like two sentences and a question mark for a newspaper column working from a nice apartment.... although this would be my dream job. But I am like Miss Bradshaw when it comes to my skills in the kitchen. I don't cook, and can't remember the last time I turned on a stove... the last time I made anything was french toast and even then it was not appreciated - cho!! Carrie says 'I don't cook... I keep sweaters in my stove!'
But if there were ever four people to persuade me into the kitchen, they would be Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Sophie Dahl, and my new favourite cook crush, Gizzi Erskine.
If you ever watched 'cook yourself thin', then you will have seen Gizzi's face before, and if not, you will. She's basically a former body piercer turned culinary queen, her signature look being a very high beehive, a LBD, and lashings of liquid eyeliner. Her book 'Gizzi's Kitchen Magic' is a quirky mix of comfort eating and wholesome goodness, with light, quick and delicate recipes that will even impress the in-laws. A must buy if you feel the need to impress food-wise!
I'm still far behind planning a dinner party, but as well as building up to that, I'm starting to get pretty good at what I like to call 'Midnight Breakfasts' -instead of just raiding the fridge at midnight because i'm too hopped up on coffee or too drunk after a night out.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

a lot of reading and writing...

So... while I am on a break, one of the things I have included on my immensely long list of things to do is catch up on my reading and writing... since not being able to work with books anymore [sigh] I always start books and then put them down again to collect dust somewhere...
so what i'm doing is trying to compile a relatively long list to work through - when i'm finished - [i should be finished reading all the books on the list by the time i'm ready to start blogging again on a permanent basis....] so here we go... if there are any particular books you think I'd enjoy, just hollah!

into the wild
catch 22
the book thief
breakfast at tiffany's
wonderland avenue
what is the what
a heartbreaking work of staggering genius
conversations with god
the poisonwood bible
prodigal summer
the diving bell and the butterfly
3 cups of tea
dreams from my father
the audacity of hope
the princess bride
the host
let the right one in
the secret history
the little stranger
the kite runner
world war z
the secret life of marilyn monroe
playing with the grown-ups
wolf hall
dear john
shutter island
shakespeare on toast
the white tiger
the other hand
the vampire diaries
the pearl
the reader
the second sex
gone with the wind

Water For Elephants...

I know I said I am on a break from writing on this blog, but somehow I keep on coming back to it. Don't ask me why... I really shouldn't be what some people call 'wasting time in being thoroughly unproductive' - well to be honest, I've spent the last 23 years 'wasting time in being thoroughly unproductive' so I don't see much reason to stop the train now. Anyway, when I do write these occasional blog posts, it's quite nice, but yes, I really should be doing better things with my time, but when everything's sorted and back on track I'll come back to this blog on a much more regular basis...
now down to more exciting news....
Having read Water For Elephants a few years ago by author Sara Gruen, I wasn't really impressed with the book at all. It was one of those books that you have to finish reading once you've started it so you can actually say you persevered until the very end instead of giving up. This is what I should have done. The book IS quite enjoyable for those of you who have a free spirited soul and will probably relate to the characters and their personality traits, their frustrations, and indulging their inhibitions.
The plot of the book goes a little something like this...

Set during the Great Depression, Water for Elephants tells the story of a young man who leaves his life as a Cornell University veterinary student after losing both his parents in a car accident, and jumps onto a train that happens to house the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. After a short confrontation with Blackie, a bouncer that stops stowaways, and Camel (a limp old worker) promising him a job and an audience with Uncle Al (The Ringmaster) Jacob decides to stay aboard the train. Since his parents have died in an automobile accident, and he has not a home to call his own, he decides to remain with the circus. Jacob is employed as the show’s veterinarian and he faces a number of challenges in dealing with the head trainer, August, while also learning how to function in the hierarchy of the circus and falling in love with August's wife, Marlena.

The story is told as a series of memories by Jacob Jankowski, either a ninety or ninety-three year-old man who lives in a nursing home.

As the memories begin, Jacob Jankowski is twenty-three years old and preparing for his final exams as a Cornell University veterinary student when he receives the news that his parents were killed in a car accident. Jacob’s father was a veterinarian and Jacob had planned to join his practice. When Jacob learns that his father was deeply in debt because he had been treating animals for free as well as mortgaging the family home to provide Jacob an Ivy League education, he has a breakdown and leaves school just short of graduation. In the dark of night, he jumps on a train only to learn it is a circus train. When the owner of the circus, Uncle Al, learns of his training as a vet, he is hired to care for the circus animals.

The head trainer, August, is a brutal man who abuses the animals in his care as well as the people around him. Alternately, he can be utterly charming. Jacob develops a guarded relationship with August and his wife, Marlena, with whom Jacob falls in love. August is suspicious of their relationship and beats Marlena and Jacob. Marlena subsequently leaves August, which is the precipitating event leading to the ultimate demise of the Benzini Brothers circus.

As the story climaxes, several circus workers who were redlighted off the train come back and release the animals causing a stampede during the performance. (Redlighting refers to throwing circus workers off the moving train as punishment or in order to avoid paying them). In the ensuing panic, August is killed. As a result of this incident, which occurred during a circus performance, the circus is shut down. Marlena and Jacob leave, along with several circus animals, and begin their life together.

The exciting news is that 'Water For Elephants' is being turned into a film set for release in 2011 and will be directed by Francis Lawrence [8 Mile] so you can expect the film to be gritty and full of dramatic, dark action [i like!] The best part about all of this is the rumoured cast to take on this particular project... including Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski, Christoph Waltz as August, and Reese Witherspoon as Marlena [I don't know about you, but Robert and Reese would make a totally HOT couple - in my book, she always seems to snag the very best leading men in hollywood - lucky thing!] Hopefully production will get off the ground soon for this very exciting premise with the best yet to come!!

In other news, unless you've been living under a rock, you will have noticed the phenomonal success of Steig Larsson's crime series 'The girl with the dragon tattoo' and it's sequels 'The girl who played with fire' and 'The girl who kicked the hornet's nest' - these books have graced the hardback and paperback bestseller charts for more than a year now and the response has been amazing - [it's just a shame that the author died before the books' amazing success had time to snowball and truly shine] but because of all this, the first trailer has been released, and it looks really good, so expect big things from this particular franchise [although in terms of film franchise success, it might have a hard time beating the twilight saga :-)]

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Alice In Wonderland / Through The Looking Glass

Hi Everyone!

I'm still on my blog hiatus but my excitement's been building up for so long about the long awaited release of Tim Burton's 'Alice In Wonderland' 3D cinematic experience. The fantastic cast includes Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway and the trailer looks absolutely fantastic! All three actors play the mad hatter and the red and white queens to absolute perfection, and there's no better director than Tim Burton to undertake the wonderfully dark and phantasmagorical world that Lewis Carroll enthralls you in as you read the book, with such pieces of literature as 'Jabberwocky' included in the book which is insanely brilliant! Helena Bonham Carter actually plays an amalgamation of both The Red Queen, older sister and nemesis of the White Queen, and The Queen of Hearts, a foul mouthed monarch with a penchant for croquet and the expression: "Off with their Heads!"
Anne Hathaway plays the White Queen, and had this to say about her exciting role:
"“I play the White Queen. When I was trying to work her out, I kept saying to myself, ‘She is a punk-rock, vegan pacifist.’ So I listened to a lot of Blondie, I watched a lot of Greta Garbo movies, and I looked at a lot of the artwork of Dan Flavin. Then a little bit of Norma Desmond got thrown in there, too. And she just kind of emerged. And I really like her.”
I can only hope that the film is nothing but a success so Disney can get to work on the sequel 'Through The Looking Glass.' I have to actually sit down and re-read the book again before the film comes out, and the magic of such literary classics like these is that they appeal on such a wide scope to both adults and children of all ages, and no matter what your book preferences are, you can't help but fall in love with the naughty curiosity of Alice and the madness of the cheshire cat.
The film is set for release next week, so my advice would be to read the book before you see the film - as believe it or not, the books are usually better, but this film along with maybe one or two notable others may prove the exception to this rule. To celebrate the release of 'Alice in Wonderland' London are putting on several exhibitions showcasing the magical world of Alice and the thought process behind her creator, Lewis Carroll, offering free entry if your name is actually Alice, or failing that, Alistair. Damn. The soundtrack is particularly good also, haunting to a great effect, having already had a sneaky listen to Avril Lavigne's 'Alice.'
However, I came across this cute, kitsch off beat little video and fell in love all over again. It's a short motion-picture story by Angela Kohler called 'Lost Things' and stars Alison Sudol, part of the band 'A Fine Frenzy' and in fact contributes to the video in song as well with the piece 'Sleepwalking'. You can also follow her own blog, which is featured on 'Blogger' as well as on twitter. Have a look at the video and tell me what you think!!

Monday, 1 March 2010

'Do Shakespeare over Breakfast...

Hi Everyone!!
No, unfortunately, I'm still on hiatus ): *sigh* but just thought I'd give you a little insight into what I've been up to literature wise...
My Aunty very kindly took me to the Globe Theatre to see the lovely Ben Crystal give a fantastic [and very animated] talk on his best selling book 'Shakespeare On Toast.' If you haven't already guessed, the book is indeed in fact, about Shakespeare, without the usual stereotypes that the legendary playwright and his works have come to be labelled under.
'Shakespeare On Toast' is in fact a bitesized version of everything loveable about the fantastic playwright, although unfortunately the book doesn't involve a picture of Joseph Fiennes as Will himself, which would make me love him even more than I already do. The book is endearing, provides provocative thinking, and most of all passionate in trying to encompass Shakespeare; not only in trying to build a picture of the thought process behind his works and creative and literary genius, but the type of person that Will Shakespeare was. And, believe me when I say, one read of this book and you'll forget EVERYTHING you were ever told about Shakespeare that was dreary or seemed boring by pushy A-Level teachers wanting you to read aloud in awkward silences, and giving your squeaky voice the incredible opportunity to be magnified in the entire room whilst speaking in iambic pentameter. Oh Happy Days!!!!
The Globe itself is amazing, and provide Shakespeare plays with the dimension of being performed in all their glory as opposed to them just being read, but then again Shakespeare is THAT good that his plays prove completely compelling even when written in language that doesn't really make sense and sounds incredibly stupid [and yes, in Macbeth, I was petrified of the three witches on the heath and thought Lady Macbeth was the ultimate BITCH, and that was just from simple words alone, and one of the many reasons why Shakespeare is still read, enjoyed, and revered 400 years later, and I can only hope that in another 400 years from now, his work will continue to shine in more remarkable ways than one.
For more information, you can check out The Globe Theatre at and on Twitter, you can follow The Globe at: @RSAGlobe and Ben Crystal @bencrystal. [And yes, i already tweeted him...and he tweeted back.]