Before I start the second part of my magnum opus, I thought I'd address a subject dear to every man's heart: what they got for christmas (and because I had to ruin Christmas for my mother one year, my birthday).
Things started well with 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, a gift from the Onslow Road Irregulars, along with Empire : Nozone IX by Nicholas Blechman. We then trotted off to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although there was some distinctly ropey CGI effects, what really set the movie apart was the acting - especially from Georgie Henley (playing Lucy), who I'm finding it hard to believe has never been in a movie before. I wouldn't go so far to call it a classic, but I'm sure it will find it's way into my DVD collection. As many people have noted, Liam Neeson was okay as Aslan, but why wasn't James Earl Jones called?
The next stage of Birthday madness was seeing Kong with my family, preceded by more gifts - Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins and a book of movie money, all important in this day and age when cinemas fuck a person up the ass and don't even have the goddamned common courtesy to give him a reacharound (points for reference). Kong was a fixed affair. It is too long, but it doesn't overtly suffer for that fact - it just means that a sore ass detracts from enjoyment of the movie. CG effects were very, very good, only getting ropey in a couple of segments, like the scene where the dinosaurs are runnings from the raptors. Andy Serkis deserves an oscar for bringing Kong to life, and Naomi Watts looked every inch the film star; but all that screaming was really frigging annoying. I know it's that kind of movie ... but surely they could have toned it down just a little? Another oscar should have gone to the Civic Theatre ... Anyway, aside from a few hokey lines, the film holds together a lot better than it ought to, and I enjoyed it immensely on the big screen ... but, it's strictly an event movie, and I don't think that I would bother buying the DVD (except maybe for the Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh/Philippa Boyens commentary).
The next day (Christmas Eve) was the day I'd been waiting for: two packages arrived from America; one held my ROCC, the other holding two Ringnecks and a Mean Dog. True, I'd paid for them lock, stock and barrel (vast amounts when you factor in exchange rate and shipping), but it sure felt like Christmas to me ...
Speaking of Christmas, here's my haul:
The Great War for Civilisation : The Conquest of the Middle East, By Robert Fisk
Thud!, by Terry Pratchett
The Muppet Show - Season One DVD
The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, directed by Samuel Fuller
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond (wasn't actually a gift, but bought with the copius whitcoulls gift vouchers I got)
I also was the recipient of some quite scrummy homemade chocolates from Span, which I am currently savouring over back episodes of CSI ...
Thud I finished reading on Boxing Day. I think I'll need to re-read it to say whether I liked it or not (or, at least, whether I liked it as much as other Terry Prachett books). It didn't really strike me as being as good as his last effort, Going Postal, but maybe time will tell.
The Muppet Show first season is not as great as I remember later series being ... it's probably not helped by the obscurity of some of the guest stars. But the Swedish chef is there, so I'm happy.
The Great War for Civilisation (TGWFC) is heavy going: at just over 1200 pages I'm going to be reading this well into the new year. Robert Fisk is a better column writer than he is a book writer, as opposed to someone like Gwynne Dyer, who seems to drift effortlessly between the two mediums (one of the best books in my bookshelf is War, written 25 years ago in the middle of the Cold War, but still fantastically relevant). But TGWFC would be heavy going whoever wrote it - Fisk's personal style makes the descriptions of the numerous wars, tortures and genocides all the more gruelling. At some point I'll have to pick up his book on Lebanon. While I'm at it, can anyone recommend a good history of Iran (pre-revolution)?
It's probably not helped that I'm reading Collapse at the same time. Jared Diamond is a very approachable writer, and the subject is fascinating, if somewhat terrifying.
Anyhoo. The latest patch for World of Warcraft (Uldum server) as recently finished downloading (all 287meg of it, bastards), so I'm off to bloody my sword. Watch out for my next installment of the torture debate, tentatively titled: No man is an Island, Hearts and Minds, and Torture makes the Baby Jesus Cry.