I watched Green Lantern without any expectations because I avoided reviews like the pestilence. And so I experienced it without any preconceptions and I liked it a lot. I never read the comics so I don’t know how true to the original the film is, but it seemed to come straight out of the book. A slightly stupid and annoying typical bloke in the “normal” world becomes through strange and rather fun circumstances a responsible fighter against evil – what’s not to like? There are some holes in the plot, some stones to stumble over but it is a comic and so everything is possible, however stupid it seems. I enjoyed it so much – the CGI is absolutely brilliant, so very well made, one of the best I’ve seen so far. The story is fun – evil awakes deep in space and has to be fought and who better than some innocent from Earth. The evil monster is class, the baddy on Earth is absolutely fantastic (very well acted) and the fact that even the “normal” human can take being thrown around without much ruffling of the hair is just what I expect from a comic. There is a bunch of amazing aliens to marvel at and some fast space travel and if you like your cameos – Tim Robbins plays a mean senator. All in all probably not the best film ever but a big bunch of joy to watch. I won’t say more, don’t want to spoil it – just watch it and make up your own mind. And avoid the professional reviews like something bad.
Last night on one of those wonderful evenings at my favourite bookshop -Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath- I met Patrick Ness, writer of some some truly amazing and different YA novels, my most loved there being the Chaos Walking trilogy. These evenings at Mr. B’s include music played by their “own” Bookshop Band, a buffet with wonderful food, wine and a lot of mingling and chat, but here I will concentrate just on the guest author of the evening, said Patrick Ness.
He brought a flipchart – rather unusual, at least in my experience, so we knew it wouldn’t just be a reading. He must have been equally surprised about the fact that the audience were not his usual teenage demographic but rather approaching middle age. He started introducing himself in a very interesting way – showing how easy it can be to develop an idea that might lead to a novel. An idea might be a good one, but will never lead to anything if it is not backed up with a string of facts and smaller ideas to give it enough substance to be made into a story. So he -and probably many other authors- draws on his own life. His dual nationality, being the youngest of three, his love of running marathons and some bad experience there that left him bleeding but still running, an early childhood spend in Hawaii – all this are recognizable, if slightly altered, in The Knife of Never Letting Go. One of the only two Teenagers at the event was asked to come forward and introduce herself in a similar way and with those notes we were asked to quickly throw ideas into the round for a Sci-Fi novel. It worked rather well. Another rather interesting fact was his approach to his beta readers and editor – he does not ask for critic but wants people to ask him questions about the book and in those he determines what is wrong or right with the story, where he has reached his goal and where more work is needed – that struck me as a very good way.
Patrick read a short excerpt from the first book of the trilogy and not only did he read very well, but he also read very fast to give us an impression of the young boy’s voice and the way he thinks – he hit the note there brilliantly, very impressive, because exactly that voice was in my head when I read the book.
What this evening did to me was a wish to write myself, seeing as it was so easy – but don’t worry, after a nights sleep I am ok again, I am not an author, I am a reader. But should you feel the need to write – there is one big bit of advice Patrick Ness gave to all might-be-authors: Only write the book you desperately want to read. If it is funny you need to laugh, if it is sad you will feel the tears, anything less and it won’t be a good book.
Seems sensible to me, this.
Since we moved proper out into the countryside we keep chicken. Mainly for the eggs, but they are fun to have in the garden as well, usually very interested in whatever we are doing and very inquisitive. Until recently we had 3 beautiful hens, each very different from the others.
The lazy one on the ground is a big fat thing, a Speckled Sussex, very tame, curious to the point of annoying, very confident, takes no prisoners. The white one is a small thing, a Sussex Star, never very trusting, slightly paranoid and a little bit “special”. The black one is a sort of breed too, but I forgot the name – it’s a normal hen, nothing special, relatively tame and minds it’s own business. It lays fairly well, up to 5 eggs a week. The other two are lazier, 3 eggs per week is the norm in the summer month and then they stop, the white one gets broody as well and sits for weeks on absolutely nothing trying to get some breeding done. A few month ago the black hen got taken by Mr. Fox, who is quite a regular in these gardens, we have seen him during a sunny afternoon, standing in the garden, observing us a while before ambling away. So, when the black one was gone the eggs became rather sparse in our kitchen and we decided to get some more hens. As nice as the proper breeds are – egg laying machines they ain’t. So we thought about getting some “normal” layers and when we saw a poster in a farm shop for the charity that does re-home ex-bats we thought “hey-they are bred for laying, so that should be good” and applied for three of them. We got another chicken coop and secured the pen with a better and higher fence before collection day. We got our three hens – they did not look as bad as expected which we greeted with relief. We took them home and put them into the pen separated from the existing hens by a fence.
Immediately the new ones started fighting each other. We knew that that was normal, but we never encountered anything as fierce as that before, blood was flowing pretty quick, these beasts knew where to peck.
And after establishing their own pecking order they went for our established hens – through the fence. And again draw blood – but somehow they managed to get the order of power right pretty quick and we could release the new ones into the big pen much earlier than anticipated.
And after a couple of days it was as peaceful as in paradise in the pen – one happy flock.
So now on a warm sunny day when we are in the garden to weed, dig and do all the other gardening stuff our work is accompanied by the sound of happy chicken.
And the new ones lay about 6 eggs per week each, so omelets, soufflés and all the other egg-based foods are a daily occurrence on the dining table. And there is nothing better than a spring omelette – fresh eggs, fresh herbs from the garden, the first asparagus – heaven.
Conclusion: these ex-battery hens are fantastic little creatures. They are tame, curious and strangely know exactly how to behave in the open, what to eat and what to leave alone. I recommend them wholeheartedly to anybody who would like fresh eggs on the table – there is nothing better.
If you are interested in getting some of those hens yourself got to http://www.bhwt.org.uk/ , the site of the British Hen Welfare Trust and you find everything you need to know.
As you might have noticed I was rather lazy on this page in the last couple of month but I did write nevertheless. Just to point you in the right direction: there are new pages for you to browse through, you find them on the left there. I started reviewing books, because I read a lot and I hope that other book lovers might be interested in hearing about novels. And maybe find a read or two they like. It is only my humble opinion, you might think differently about a book, but that is what a blog is about: the writers opinion.
Anyway, I read a lot of translations and the more obscure, I do not read romance novels (urrghh) and neither do I read those hardcore crime things. I do read crime novels, in the bath, like Rankin maybe. You won’t find SciFi here either, or at least not the one with the aliens and spaceships. I do like warped minds and fantastic worlds, the dark ones.
Right, that’s it, go and have a look.
A few days ago I –for some reason or other- read through my past tweets, for me a sort of diary, interesting and sometimes helpful in remembering when or where certain things occurred. But to be honest, as fascinating as it is for me – why should anybody else be interested in my coffee drinking habits or holiday antics? The only people who took the least bit of notice are those who want to get me as a customer for their goods – coffee or holiday apartments in aforementioned cases. Come to think of it, that seems to be the main reason for a twitter account – to sell your wares or plug your causes. Even tweeps I thought of as interesting people to start with have now become just businesses. Everybody on twitter has to sell or plug something and most of the ones I follow have become predictable and, at least for me, boring. I did not join twitter to buy things or consider somebody’s causes, all I wanted was I picture of humanity, chatting and telling me about their lives.
After considering all this I decided rather thoughtlessly to stop tweeting except if I had something really clever or important to say.
But then I kept mulling the whole thing over and over: twitter has been just that, a forum to tell the world what you were doing and maybe why and also to occasionally recommend a film or some music or some fun and interesting websites. That’s why I joined and that’s what I want from twitter. And considering that nobody is unique I guess there must be a few more like me out there who don’t want to buy stuff or hear about your pet project – those things can be found all over the net if you need it. And hearing about it on twitter is just like these mounts of paper the postman drops into your letter box -to be instantly discarded onto the recycling pile.
It is sad that absolutely everything has to become commercial and that everybody seems to be ok with that, maybe even expect it. So I thought in the end that I really should stay and chat about my inconsequential little happenings, thoughts and deeds just to provide a small weight on the other side, to help balancing the social media. To try and provide a bit of the spirit that has made social media, that has helped invent social media in the first place – inane chatter and sharing of eating habits. As silly as that sounds, it is the core of humanity, the communication of everyday occurrences, of your life to other people. And when we are all 95 it might be the only means of communication left to us in our wheel chairs. So I will not give up but bore you to an early grave with the things that happened to me on the way to the…whatever. And hopefully I will weed out all the sales persons and be left with people who have a life, interesting, silly and human.