Month: December 2009

Six suspects by Vikas Swarup

This book has been driving me crazy.  It was my hit list for this year and I couldn’t wait to read it so when Phil loaned it to me I was mightily excited.  Great start, an investigative journalist decides he will right the wrong he perceives to be done by a high rolling criminal with political connections who has recently been murdered but not before ruining the lives of lots of people who came into contact with him.  So six suspets have been arested and the ambitious plot of this book attempts to examine their lives and their motives for why they have been found with guns at the place where the notorious Vicky Rai has been killed.

All good so far, but because the book is told in so many styles, by so many characters all with lots more people in their lives this is not a straight forward book by any measure.

I skipped bits, I got a bit lost in all the characters even though I actually enjoyed large hunks of the book I just really got a bit over it.  I did finish it, even though other books were calling me.  Read it for the challenge.  Read it to see where the author went after the wonderful Q and A which became the movie Slumdog millionaire.  Despite kind of damning this book with faint praise, I think it is an interesting read, and I will certainly read the next book.

Google Zeitgeist 2009

So, I always think it is interesting to check the Zeitgeist at the end of the year at Google.  This analyzes the search terms that were most commonly used in 2009, you can search by  most popular searches on google worldwide, by region or by category.  Makes interesting reading and it is interesting to see what was trending last year compared to this year.

Here is the quote from the NZ section:

2009 Year-End Google Zeitgeist: New Zealand

Kiwis headed online this year to learn about things both close to home (new toll roads, lyrics to Kiwi music, Matariki) and global phenomena (swine flu, twilight, twitter, sustainability). But some things don’t change – All Blacks tickets are still the most searched for, and we still love our TradeMe. Enjoy this look at New Zealand’s searching psychology.
Interesting!  The BNZ login at search term no 3??  Worldwide Michael Jackson was top of the search pops!

The year in ideas

Courtesy of the fabulous Skerricks blog, by the equally fabulous Ruth Buchannan I present tye Ninth Annual Year in Ideas.  Divided by category, which you find by hovering your pointer on the categories or on the alphabetical list at the top of the page.

“Once again, The Times Magazine looks back on the past year from our favored perch: ideas. Like a magpie building its nest, we have hunted eclectically, though not without discrimination, for noteworthy notions of 2009 — the twigs and sticks and shiny paper scraps of human ingenuity, which, when collected and woven together, form a sort of cognitive shelter, in which the curious mind can incubate, hatch and feather. Unlike birds, we can also alphabetize. And so we hereby present, from A to Z, the most clever, important, silly and just plain weird innovations we carried back from all corners of the thinking world. To offer a nonalphabetical option for navigating the entries, this year we have attached tags to each item indicating subject matter. We hope you enjoy.”

There are some fantastic things on here, have a look and fill your brain just a little more before Christmas cheer wipes out some of your synapses.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

My favorite cake?  Could well be!

2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup of milk, 125 gms butter, 1tsp bicarb soda, 2 cups Self Raising Flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp nutmeg (I use more or you can put in a bit of cinnamon), 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (I never put these in)

Combine sugar, flour, nutmeg and butter in food processor.  Mix counting up to 8 or 10 then turn off.  Place 2 cups of the mixture in into the bottom of a baking paper lined tin.  Use a slice tin or a smaller squarer tin, doesn’t really matter.  Pat down with fingers.  Add the remaining ingredients (bicarb mixed into the milk) into the food processor and press go till it is mixed.  Pour over the top of the flattened mixture.  Cook about an hour at 180 C.

Makes a good desert when served with yoghurt or whipped cream.

Sean Plunket – crafting hero

For those of you who know me well this will be no surprise.  At all, I know you have all been waiting with baited breath for my true confessions about my fondness of Sean Plunket (I’m looking at you Sarah!).  It just isn’t morning in my house if Sean and Geoff’s dulcet tones are not reverberating around the bedroom.  I like a direct interviewer, I like uncompromising intellectual robustness – I like Sean and Geoff!  A lot.  Their only competition is John Campbell – the man of my dreams. And in the summer when Sean is off I get  obsessed with Matinee Idol/Idle.  More on those later though.  Our focus today is Sean.  See below.

Now in the news, there is Sean’s blog.  Sean’s Crafting Blog, no less.  Go check it out here I recommend you check it out, particularly if it is the case that you have rather a lot of elbow pasta lying around and you want to make reasonably priced Xmas pressies with it.  Of course one suspects that an interloper has hijacked Sean’s good name and is doing it ‘on his behalf’ but I for one am convinced that Sean is a secret crafter.  I like that thought, takes me to my happy place. And look, in the background of the photo there is the  lovely Geoff, perfect!

You know it’s Christmas when …

Love Actually is on the telly.  It makes me cry, every time.  I know, pathetic, but it’s one of my faves.  I really love the opening and the ending.  Here is the script of the very start.

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world,

I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport.

General opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed

I don't see that.

Seems to me that love is everywhere.

Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it's always there.

Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives,

boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.

When the planes hit the Twin Towers,

none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge,

hey were all messages of love.

lf you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.'

The Tooth by Des Hunt

One of my greatest bugbears (Is that how you spell that?) with books for teenagers published in New Zealand is the way they are edited.  Some of my criticism is probably because of my own personal tastes, but, this book and a couple of others I have read this year need some editing help.  The story is actually quite good and for year 8 and 9 boys it is probably a good adventurous read.  I read it because I had the guilt’s that we have a couple of these books, they have been quite well received by other people in other schools so I thought I’d better have a go at one.

Irritation struck almost immediately, why do we have to have songs and poems in the books.  An instant turn off for a boy, all that italics, a couple of pages of it.  Sure, put them in but keep em short please.  Irritation no 2, improbabilities, a museum curator who is a geologist and an art curator, sorry, turn one person into two please.  Irriatation no 3. please Des, have a talk to David Hill and find out what it is that makes his voice right for teenage boys.  I could instantly tell your age by the way you wrote the book, you used terms and language that my Dad would use.  While that is great when you are talking to your friends it isn’t right when you are writing a book for teenage or tween boys.

Having complained bitterly now, I will say that the story itself is quite good, and it sits nicely with a whole bunch of other books for this age of kid.  But it should have had an on task editor.  And if you are the editor and you are reading this, please, do some consults with some kids before you set the story free.  Voice is so important.

Bub Bridger has died at 85

Bub Bridger was wonderful.  She died at the age of 85 on the West Coast.  Her lovely style and humour was just great.

Her books Wild Daisies and Up here on the hill are full of such great, simple and lovely poems.  She manages to say things without masking them with the mystery that other poets get all wound up in.  Just simple gorgeous words from the heart.

Confession by Bub Bridger
I’m a little in love with you
To cause you embarrassment
Or concern
Just a warm
Skip of the heart
When I see you from
My bus
At your stop

I catch your eye
And give you a wave
And I note
That you are more beautiful
Now than you ever were
And I am a keen
Observer of beauty
Whether it’s sunsets
Or music
Or the Mona Lisa
Or birds flying
Or green growing things
Or you

How does it feel
My young Adonis, to be
Held in such regard
By an elderly lady
On the 24 Express?
Don’t knock it
Because it really is
A rare compliment
And you
Only have to respond
With your wide smile
Which is a small price
To pay
For allowing me my glimpse
Of what it used to be
All those years ago
When I was seventeen
And beautiful young men
By the dozen.

The pink glove dance

Via the marvelous Neatorama.  This is just the cutest thing, the staff of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. The employees of the hospital put together this “Pink Glove Dance” to promote breast cancer awareness.  This song is one of my current faves at the moment by Jay Sean and it’s called Down. Very boogieable. (this word instantly makes me a loser according to the 16 yr old style guru sitting beside me as I type) but what the hey!