Bladerunner 2049: Aah, the glory of film

5 stars, 10 out of 10, the best film I’ve seen in years. A seamless marriage of plot, characterisation (both Gosling and Ford don’t act, they ARE), evocation of  a dystopian world, and Philip K. Dick’s quest to understand what it is to be sentient humans and androids. Visually grand yet personally close-up. A long film but at the end you wish it were ten hours in length.

This is not a review but a plea to myself. Modern film can achieve art different to the art of books – Bladerunner 2049 could not, I believe, be as brilliant a novel – and I long to obsess. A Movie Big Year, say a film a day for 365 days, appeals immensely. But this is not the time to obsess about movies. Sigh.

Big Decade: Tropical birding

East Point, Darwin, birding the mangrove swamp with an expert a week ago. Sultry, the tide in, a tart reek in the air. Viscous popping noises in the mud. Oh, if you could witness my coprophageous grin!

You non-birders can’t appreciate how much birding calls to me. This year has seen almost none of it but Darwin reawakens the siren call. Definitely 2018 must include some form of Birding Big Year!


Dispatches from the Land of Steady: October 16

The requirement: up early and draft the words. That’s what I call steady and that’s what my Writing Big Year, 2017’s main effort, entails. But on this gray Monday, with exactly twelve weeks remaining, a soft despair grips me.

So many symptoms abound, the clearest being sleep-ins, but I’ve been through this before and the true underlying reason is simple. I’m afraid. The words I’ve drafted are gauche and this next section doesn’t admit an easy opening para.

I now seek two ways forward. One is the equivalent of open-heart surgery, a jolt to how I do things. The other is quiet, selfish immersion, the mind churning options. Neither is easy to do when in the thrall of despair.

Die, nostalgia, die

Hey you, burn your ABBA tee-shirt. Take a hammer to your Best Of Beatles CD. Twist the radio dial away from Smooth FM, never to return. A fan of brain plasticity? Well then, resist the brain-deadening stupor of yet again bopping to “Love Is In the Air.” Refresh your rock music language: The Stones aren’t “legends,” they’re pathetic oldsters. Sell the Eagles tickets gifted for your birthday . . . better still, bin them, so no one has to endure last century’s embarrassments. Trash Nirvana. Zap Led Zeppelin. Once a decade, let yourself  fondly recall “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” but otherwise never, ever glance at articles about Elton. Use your Oasis LP as a frisbee.

You don’t reread The Hobbit every month. For pity’s sake, open your ears to fresh grooves!

One line impelled Sherman Alexie

For writers and wouldlovetowrite-ers, burrow into Light the Dark: Writing on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process edited by Joe Fassler, which assembles 46 of his “By Heart” columns in The Atlantic. Fassler asks every author: What inspires you?

I’ve only begun my read but I’m hooked. How’s this for powerful? 30 years ago, brilliant author Sherman Alexie was gobsmacked by a single line of poetry, remembering:

I’d thought about medicine. I’d thought about law. I’d thought about business. But that line made me want to drop everything and be a poet. It was that earthshaking. I was a reservation Indian. I had no options. Being a writer wasn’t anywhere near the menu. So, it wasn’t a lightning bolt—it was an atomic bomb. I read it and thought, “This is what I want to do.”

Fitness Big Year: Upping the ante

How often do I bring myself good news? With twelve full weeks to go in 2017, weeks mostly here and not there, it turns out I can raise my annual targets. Jogging: increase the goal from 900 to 1,000 kms. Cycling: up 3,500 kms to 4,000 kms. Gym sessions: was 90, make it 100.

Geeks love round numbers. 1,000 / 4,000 / 100 is worth a grin.