Sunday, 22 September 2013

Whats Up Ke-mo Sah-bee?

You know, the original writer on The Lone Ranger Radio Show created a strict moral code that the masked man would live by. They are an utterly charming series of suggestions for how to lead a life of good character. Whole Religions have been formed on less.One of these rules and the one that all men who are a bit shy and possessed of low self esteem, such as myself, should read and take to heart is;
           Hmm. I think he was saying do what you can with what you have. Que a short burst of Wha..Wha waaaah !
           Anyway, think the most recent version of the Lone Ranger (with the always amazing Johny Depp)might have found a wider audience if they had used my script. In my version he not only used silver bullets, he wore the most amazing silver moon-boots.
           Someone recently snarled at me during a conversation and declared they found it difficult to make new friends because these days everyone is so phoney and self obsessed. I replied in a Rich toned Clayton Moore Stylee;
            Heaven knows what Tonto would have made of his response to me.
           Hey-Yo-silver! Away!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Abominable Me.

Lay awake last night reading a fantastic new book, so good I could not put it down, promising myself every chapter I read was going to be the last of the night but each one drew me on and on. Until I got so close to the end I had to go with it. Had spent the best part of most nights this week reading it, trying not to devour it too quickly, savoring the quality of the writing and even the company of the fictional characters. This last night was a Sunday and I was still reading it in the early hours of Monday morning. I could hear the wind outside my house moving the very full leafy branches of the trees in the park across the road from my house. It is the tail end of summer and the trees are still thick with greenery. Soon those same branches will begin to lose this years growth of green leaving the stick thin branches tap tapping against each other. For now though all you hear is a calming shooshing noise. Good conditions for a good read. And this is a damn fine read. The Abominable by Dan Simmons. I was so looking forward to this book since I first heard about it. So when I was given an advance proof copy of the book I felt as though Christmas had come early(which is saying something coming from a good Irish catholic who celebrates the wee baby Jesus' birthday every year..actually I am a rubbish Irish catholic but all the big holy days remain bullet points for me. At this point it feels like a race memory.)The Abominable is a very ambitious, very detailed and sprawling epic about a journey to the very summit of Mount Everest in the year 1925. A team of expert climbers from very different backgrounds attempt to discover the whereabouts of a seemingly lost rich boy and all round fop who went up the mountain but never came back down. The story begins in the here and now. The author describes his meeting with an elderly resident in a care home who has his own story to tell regarding an undocumented attempt to best the highest mountain in the world. This elderly man the world does not even know about has the most wonderful story to tell. A magnificent story about courage in the face of danger, loyalty and friendship, the thirst for adventure and exploration, of a world filled with mystery and places where the bravest men have not set foot. There is the mother of all mountains, There are nazies and bandits and holy men,There is Tibet and There are Yeti.
                 What more do you need for a close to perfect read.
                 Dan Simmons has created a cast of characters who feel close to real. I will never forget The Deacon, Reggie, Jean-Claude and Pasang. In transposing a series of journals belonging to the main character Jacob Perry(Jake to his friends) he brings them alive in a narrative feat of magic. Jake is an adventurer and a mountaineer with sky blue eyes and Forearms like Popeye. He is brave, decent and intelligent and it will take every ounce of character he possesses to survive the trials and tribulations his journey presents. If it is possible to develop a crush on a fictional character then by golly I think I developed one.
                   Everest is a cold hard mountain cloaked in mysteries and the weight of its own immense presence. Who knows what strange demons haunt its silent heights. Never mind the sound of wind in the trees. Imagine the noise the wind makes as it howls around a remote mountain monastery which conceals a wall mural depicting Yeti devouring the entrails of a still living victim. This is just one of the otherworldly visions Jake Perry must contend with. A haunting vision by flickering candle light as he attempts to get to sleep the night before the sky burial of a deceased friend.
                   I did not want this book to end.
                   I did not want to say goodbye to these characters.
                   I suppose now that I have read The Abominable I never will.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Black is the new Black.

Was listening to the radio last night. A balmy evening with street sounds drifting in through my open bedroom window. Amy Winehouse's voice came drifting from the gently vibrating speaker. The song she recorded with Tony Bennett. Body and Soul. A dedication to a smokey kind of love. Lovely song. It was sadly a reminder that there would be no new recordings from that frankly amazing woman. That a powerful humanely soulful voice was lost to the world when she passed away. I put on Back to Black and one of the tracks that holds special meaning for me. OVER FUTILE ODDS AND LAUGHED AT BY THE GODS.  AND NOW THE FINAL FRAME,LOVE IS A LOSING GAME. Oh,the lovely Amy. If she only knew just how beautiful she was. A luminous talent that struck like lightning. A flash of raw primal energy that flared all too briefly, illuminating everything in sight before the dark closed in. If you have never believed in demons then just what was it that assailed this complex and fragile young woman. I do not know nor understand the decisions and events that may have driven her down a road best not traveled. I just marveled at her immense talent and the genius wrapped up in her recorded output. And the dizzy spell cast by her on form live appearances. And that singing voice. My god, that heaven sent voice.Was there ever a songstress who managed to convey through her vocals and the way she used them to show her understanding of the dangers that come with daring to love the big love. The 3rd or 4th time I listened to her second album and masterpiece Back To black I truly believed I was listening to one of the finest albums ever recorded. That nothing I ever heard so captured what it is to be an adult and believe yourself to be in love. Young love is celebrated widely and ultimately falsely. Grown up love is not always something worth singing about as it is close to madness. Few performers inhabit the world they sing about the way Amy did. Like a diver swimming with sharks who does not use a cage. Few performers are able to look the world in the eye, wink and tell it I TOLD YOU I WAS NO GOOD. All that wistful longing, the great sadness and joy, the masochism of heartache, the narcissism of need.
             Her work seems so impossibly fresh and alive it is hard to remember she is not. Yet that is the awful truth. Twenty seven years. It was not a long life. Filled with as many ups and downs as it is possible to imagine in a lifetime. I then watched I TOLD YOU I WAS NO GOOD. A DVD recording of one of her live appearances on stage in London. The whole thing is just electrifying. So many highs. I love Hey Little Rich Girl. I see and hear a great unmade kitchen sink English drama that just breaks your heart but in her hands also makes you want to dance. It is like a finger with a broken painted finger nail pointing at a dying sunflower turning one last time to catch the rays of the rising sun on its face. We are all desperately hoping to feel that familiar warmth on our faces, to remember what it is to be young and alive. To energize our lives and lift them out of the mundane and the ordinary. As Amy managed to do on so many occasions.
               But maybe there is a price to be paid for catching those rays of light and trying to hold on to them. The brightness blinds you to the pitfalls of this life. The tragedy is that the bright lights never look brighter than when we are falling into the darkest of places.