Archive for January, 2015

It’s Catching

Monday, January 26th, 2015

How au fait!

We live, of course, in an age of viral cat videos.  Even the most clueless of us will at some point come across the latest meme, a contagion that spreads to even the most limited of internet users.  The means are apparent – the Facebook posts that automatically stream video, the Yahoo home page banner, occasionally still, emails (although, one indisputable benefit of Facebook is the near fatal blow to chain emails promising evil to those who don’t pass them on).  And so, not so slowly, knowledge – such as it is – reaches the echelon of “common”.  At work, it happens through meetings.  Here I am not just talking about the latest tidbit of gossip (which regularly fails to reach certain ears especially if it’s whispered), or information pertinent to the functioning of the organization (which seems to take longer to take hold) but rather, words.  The kind you use in conversation.  I recently experienced the contagion with “au fait”.  I heard it in a five person meeting at about 9 am, and naively thought, “now there’s an expression you don’t hear too often (at least in this part of the world).”  By the end of the next day, spread from meeting to meeting to water cooler to cafeteria and back again, everyone was saying it.  At least in the office.  I wasn’t privy how it may have infected my fellow workers’ homes.  A few though, I am sure, weren’t immune.  And, New Zealand, being a small, I wouldn’t be surprised if it spreads to the far reaches of the country.  So if you hear it anytime soon, let me tell you, I was there, ground zero.  Although, perhaps that was only the latest of a series of local outbreaks.

2014 in Review

Monday, January 5th, 2015

It’s that time of year, folks, when I review the best and worst of my experience of arts and entertainment.  All in all,eggs it’s been a disappointing year in the movies for me but a good one in reading.

Best movie: without question, my movie highlight for the year was August: Osage County.  I can be a sucker for talky, theatrical type movies and this is among the best, but no matter one’s tolerance for that type of film, the dialogue and acting in this one are untouchable.  My one criticism is a tag-on ending that went one beat too far, which, as it turns out, is not in the original play.

Worst movies: There is more than one – Boyhood and Interstellar.  Both are awful and both, particularly Boyhood, are on many critics top ten lists for 2014.  OK, sure, being filmed over the course of 12 years is an impressive commitment on the part of all involved but, let’s face it, many of those actors weren’t doing much anyway.  As for the kid, OK, sure, we get to see him grow up on film but most of us get to see kids grown up in real life, and in this case, the latter turns out to be a lot more interesting.  Really, this film is almost as bad as watching someone’s home movies.  As for Interstellar, I have a serious weakness for sci-fi flics and so it says something that this one makes the list. A peachy, self-important movie that takes itself very seriously but is, you guessed, oh so trite.

Best reads: The book that divided my book club between those who found it boring and those who found it moving and profound: Stoner by John Williams.  You know where I fell.  Also, The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, so much better, I think, than her Booker prize winning novel.  A woman in my writing group described it as “fresh”, which about sums it up if the word didn’t have a perky connotation. It’s fresh in a quirky, insightful, intelligent sort of way.  Honourable mentions include anything by Tim Winton, my new go-to writer.

Best not-so-secret indulgent read: Wool by Hugh Howey.  I said I had a sci-fi weakness and this, originally self-published, novel hits all my post-apocalyptic buttons.

Worst reads: Normally I don’t have anything that falls into this category because I typically stop reading if it’s that bad, but being in a book club again, there was the odd book that I suffered through to show my book club commitment.  The standout in this crowd is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  Fine, maybe, if one were twelve but it is indeed targeted at an adult audience, which is enough to make me weep.