The Plot Against America – Philip Roth, 2004

I hadn’t intended to read it, but whilst away on holiday last year I’d finished my other book and was looking for something. This was sat on the shelves at Sj’s folks and I’d never read any Roth but had always meant to. I blazed through it in about a day, but it’s only been the last few days that it’s struck home. I’ll let The Guardian’s review from 2004 set the scene;

“Just suppose…that the air hero Charles Lindbergh, the man who made the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927, who earned huge sympathy when his baby son was kidnapped and murdered five years later, who called Hitler “a great man” and was decorated by order of the Führer for his services to the Reich, just suppose that he’d taken up Republican invitations to run for president in November 1940, and milked the isolationist sentiment that undoubtedly existed then (No more war! Never again will young Americans die on foreign soil!), and that instead of Roosevelt being elected for an unprecedented third term and taking America into Europe to fight the Nazis, Lindbergh won a landslide victory. And then he signed non-aggression treaties with Germany and Japan, and set about realising his vision of America as a land of the brave and blond, and introduced a set of anti-semitic measures which, if not on the scale of Hitler’s pogroms, were a betrayal of the rights and liberties enshrined in the constitution and yet, such was the young president’s charisma, they were accepted by the mass of ordinary citizens and even by some prominent Jews.”

Blake Morrison – The Guardian, 2nd October 2004

I’m probably going to pick this up again and give it a run though – but yeah, I read this back well Il Douche was just a possible joke rather than a reality.

Stabcon 2017

Okay…cobwebs…fair bit of dust, springs on the chair could do with a bit of an overhaul, but everything seems in working order…

How are we? Good, good. Keeping well? Glad to hear it!

Me? Things over here have been busier than usual, and I’ve not really had the time or energy to sit down and write anything beyond emails to people explaining why they can’t build death traps even if it is cheaper to build that way (although not in the long run when the court cases begin), run up and down the country to various jobs here, there and everywhere and then try to stay sane at the weekend. However, it’s a new year and I thought I’d make the effort to write a bit more, although I’m not entirely sure what about.

So, let’s start with board games. This weekend gone was the excellent Winter Stabcon. Now being less than 500m from my bed it would be rude not to attend and I did get to play a few things whilst I was there. Board gaming seems to have become the most frequent sort of gaming I’m involved in these days as there’s little planning needed. Didn’t manage to get a game of Quartermaster General in, but that was the only downside of the weekend. Games I did play!

Internal Affairs. A neat little card game based around cracking numerical codes and trying to figure out which side your opponents is on. Not sure about the longevity of the game ( I suspect that it plays better with more players), but a nice one to have around for between meatier fare.

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The Revenant

The Revenant - 20th Century Fox

Having finally seen it (and avoided a lot of the hype beforehand), I now can’t decide if The Revenant is a grim revenge western or a surreal eco-horror – the likelihood is that it’s both. It is undoubtedly superb, one of those experiences that couldn’t be replicated in another medium (like Gravity, I’m not convinced that it will even work on the small screen), held together by a trio of superb performances and a case of director insanity working – this is a modern Fitzcarraldo. It’s also a surprisingly beautiful film given the ugly subject matter, it brings to mind a bizarre mash-up of Terrance Malick’s “The New World” and “High Plains Drifter”, eco-horror tinged with the supernatural.

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I think my bike has grudge against me

So far this year I have managed to complete only two bike rides, this is despite attempting more than double that number. The fact that it’s such a low number may indicate that things are quite normal (I’d normally be a significant way into double figures by now). All of these have been attempts to commute; I haven’t even dared try anything more advanced yet.

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Spectre

Spectre - United Artists / Sony

(Life got in the way, this has been sat half written for about a month and a half now, waiting for me to get round to finishing it…)

Bond Twenty Four arrives after the most successful (financially) Bond ever; and possibly the most successful artistically. Skyfall marked a high point for modern Bond, taking it away from the pulp origins to try to look at the character in a deeper fashion. Spectre feels like a return to the fun of Bond, and if honest is less successful as a result (it feels a bit more old fashioned as a result), but remains top tier – its biggest problem is that it can’t live up to the film it comes after.

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Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak - Legendary Pictures

I’m torn about Guillermo del Toro’s latest film. On the one hand it’s a very slight concoction, a very effective love-letter to the Hammer Films of old, but with very little meat on its bones. On the other it is one of the most beautiful films for a long time, designed within an inch of its life, and one where every scene could be framed and hung on a wall. Whilst I’m leaning towards saying I liked it, it isn’t a film I would go out of my way to see again, although the beauty means that I am glad I saw it on a large screen.

Minor spoilers ahead.

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Belfast 2015

Sj and I had a long weekend in Belfast last week courtesy of the folks as a birthday present. With everything that has been going on this year it was really what we both needed and very welcome. We’d been booked on the Game of Thrones Tour (or “Pretty places in Ireland that are connected” to give it a more accurate title), but mainly we mooched around and enjoyed a couple of days peace away from everything.

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