Ravings From The Bog

Ford Mustang Bullitt – Gorgeous!
November 25, 2008, 11:20 pm
Filed under: America, I Want One!, Life, Nostalgia, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Gotta Have One!WHEN my National Lottery numbers finally come up, I’ll have two cars parked in MY driveway (my wife will have her own driveway!), and this is one of them. And I’ll have it in this colour too. This is the retro muscle car I have dreamed about. I’m not really a car-nut but this is simply stunning!!

The other car will be an Audi Q7, of course, in Racing Green.


What I’m Reading
October 19, 2008, 1:39 pm
Filed under: America, Art, Books, Culture, Entertainment, Thoughts | Tags: ,

I’ve started Willy Vlautin’s The Motel Life which many reviewers rave about, inviting comparisons with Raymond Carver and a few other eminent writers including Steinbeck and McMurtry. I’m enjoying the pared back prose and expect to finish it PDQ. I’ll probably look for some more of his stuff too.

Previous to that, and following a number of his recordings played on This American Life, I bought and read David Sedaris’ Barrel Fever. This was a little disappointing after his personal readings of his work which makes me think that it’s his peculiar voice and personal inflection which are necessary aspects for proper enjoyment of his work.


I’m Wired – Best TV Ever!

I know what I like. Whether it is books, film, television or whatever, I can reel off what I think are the best in each area, in my view.

I’m confident that I’m right because I have “converted” family, friends and colleagues to reading or watching what I recommend and their feedback is more often than not, very positive.

That’s why, when I say that The Wire, the stunning and consistently excellent portrait of life and death in inner city Baltimore, is THE BEST THING EVER to hit the small screen, I can say it with some confidence. It has some great shows to beat – Hill St. Blues, NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, and a number of others, and it does it well and often.

This will be old news to any readers in the US. Season Five has started showing on the FX channel here in the UK, but I have forced myself to wait (screams!) until my pre-ordered copy of the DVD box set is delivered next month. From all media reports, it is well worth waiting for, and is a triumphant end to the visual novel that it definitely is.

I have all four box sets so far and regularly re-watch them, each time catching many nuances of the storylines that I missed the first, second or third time round.

It is rare indeed, to discover something so engaging, complete, and fulfilling. I am amazed at the quality of the writing, acting and direction in this show, to the point where I am immersed so far into it, that emotional attachments are so easily made. Without exception, every actor seems born for his or her role.

The most detestable aspects of human life are generously portrayed in this piece of magic and yet the viewer is super-glued to the screen, avidly following the car crash that is a Third World life existing in a First World country.

Make no mistake; this is a complex piece of work. This is not “dip in and out” TV. I believe that only by watching every episode in sequence, you will fully capture the flavour and excitement of this masterpiece.

It’s worth taking a week off work for (and I might just do that!) when the eagerly awaited thud of the box set hits the floor in September…

1940s American Journey
August 13, 2008, 11:42 pm
Filed under: America, Books, Culture, Entertainment, History | Tags: , , ,

I’m currently enjoying Alistair Cooke’s American Journey. It’s a bit of a time capsule written between 1942 and 1945, when the BBC asked him to travel across America and assess the effects on of the war on ordinary Americans, from miners to lumberjacks, Pullman porters to peanut farmers and even Japanese-Americans interned in stark desert prison camps.

It’s very easy to read and gives a real flavour of the diversity of the American people and their attitudes to the war and each other. Revealing passages cover thinly veiled racism but the main message contained in the book is the strength of organisation behind the behemoth that was, and is, the military-industrial complex of the US. 

All sorts of Norman Rockwell-type images flash into view as he describes a vanished America of drug stores and soda fountains – great for the Americana fan.

I’m already looking forward to Penguin’s Letter from America collection based on my enjoyment of this book.

Podcasts I Never Miss
August 4, 2008, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Culture, Entertainment, Fun, Life, Music, Podcasts, Technology, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I’m a little obsessive about some things. I’ve never missed an episode of NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Friends, etc, so you’ll understand when I say that I enjoy particular podcasts, I mean I save them up and savour them any chance I get. Unfortunately, (but fortunately in terms of the cost of petrol now) I no longer have the 46 mile round trip to work every day I have had for the last seven years or so, so I’m not in a position to listen to as many as I’d like to, on a regular basis. I live 1.7 miles from my workplace now, which has it’s benefits and drawbacks!

Anyhoo, my favourite podcasts are as follows:

This American Life – http://www.thislife.org – is an exercise in irony and clever wit, wrapped up in a skillfully put together one hour long podcast with Ira Glass whose voice, pitch and timing is perfect for this slice of Americana.

Selected Shorts – http://www.symphonyspace.org – is a real find for anyone who enjoys short stories of every type with deliveries from the host Isaiah Sheffer, and many theatre actors – a joy.

The Moth Podcast – http://www.themoth.org/podcast – true stories told to a live audience without notes. Some really excellent funny and sad stories, usually the best from their competitions. I listened to every current episode on a recent flight to NYC.

WNYC’s Radio Lab – http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/ – fantastic analytical science-based fun. The hosts are a match made in heaven and this podcast is suitable for almost all ages. Great sound effects too.

RTE Documentary On One – http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone – dozens of fascinating documentaries, really well put together and a great fix of Ireland if you’re away from home on holiday or for the many millions of emigrants!