Thursday, 21 April 2016


There's really been a resurgence of the podcast. People love to listen to others talking, not just telling a story like an audiobook. I listen to podcasts when I'm walking to and from the station and have plenty of recommendations. If I find a seat on the tube, I always turn it off in favour of my book but I love podcasts just as much!

Here are the podcasts I listen to everyday, in no particular order!

The Moth
Episodes of The Moth are brilliant. Real people telling real stories on stage and they are always incredible. Well worth a listen, and opten only 10-15 minutes long so perfect for taking breaks.

Saw Bones
A couple, one a doctor and the other a comedian, talk about how we would treat the ailments of old. For example the old treatments for syphilis, abortion, sexual health, colds. It's really interesting.

Last Podcast on the Left
Not one for everyday listening. the best episodes deal with "heavy hitter" serial killers. This bunch of comedians take a look through the childhood, and back ground of serial kills up to their capture and or death. It is FASCINATING, but a bit much sometimes. They try to take a light hearted approach where ever possible to break the tension, but it's an informative look at serial killers, if you're at all interested.

Lighthearted pop culture chat.

Rex Factor
HISTORY! This is a grass roots podcast by two guys in their bedroom/kitchen. Each episode is a look into the kings and queens of England  (series two looks at Scotland). They then rank the royals in a series of categories, and finally decide if despite all of the scores, if they have the "rex factor." Star quality that makes them stand out in history. It's very interesting.

You Made It Weird
My absolute favourite in the list. I listen to this more than any other podcast. It's easy listening. Comedian Pete Holmes sits down with different comedians and friends and makes it weird on three topics: Comedy, Sex and God. It's so much fun to listen to, spiritual, honest and hilarious.

Love + Radio
Incredibly well produced story telling. AMAZING radio.

No Such Thing As A Fish
The QI podcast. The QI elves (mining the emerald mine of knowledge) share their facts for the week and then any linking facts they can come up with and it is hilarious and interesting at the same time. Fabulous for the tube ride.

Recently discovered Lore is now my favourite podcast! The episodes are one man speaking, Aaron Mahnke, who goes through history surrounding folk lore. It's told like a story and I could not be more hooked. Plus short episodes mean they are meant to be devoured.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

March reviews

Gregory David Roberts
Abacus 28/06/2012 Paperback
Christmas Haul

I don't know what to make of this. 900 pages of this amazing life that had me page turning for at least the first 600. It's the true story of Gregory David Roberts after he arrives in Bombay on the run from an Australian Prison. It's described as a literary masterpiece, which means it's difficult to pay attention to and not to be read in fifteen minute increments.
A problem that I often run into with stories about real life is that no matter how amazing the experiences, its just one thing after another. And then the mafia got involved, and then I got in a fight and then I made a friend, and then I remembered that I ought to mention that I was in love with a woman, because readers like that.
Which brings me to my next point. The romance, the love story, in fact any of the relationships in this book were absolutely the most unromantic, unrealistic parts of the book. He seems to mention the lady he fancies when ever he remembers, oh yes, and that's because of a thing X said to me once, ah she's so great.
He treats her like she is the BIG love of his life, they slept together once or twice in the whole book and mostly were not even in contact. It's the delusional ramblings of a middle aged guy remembering some girl he was infatuated with. It reads like a teenage fantasy.
The philosophical and spiritual discussions are DRY. I didnt come here for physics and string theory! I did love the descriptions of India, both in Bombay and in a rural village. the experience of walking through the streets seems to be well set out but as soon as GDR starts talking to anyone I wanted to skip forward.
He makes a lot of mistakes that makes me think that many of the events were over dramatic. He spends most of the books as a criminal hard man wrestling his way through street fights and coming up on top. Then towards the end of the book he says: "I was no fighter." YOU JUST CAME BACK FROM A WAR. The clash between what happens and how GDR reacts/comments on it is disappointing throughout the book.
Long, dry, thrilling, literary. Its a book of contradictions and I'm not sure I like it. I think I'm doubly resentful because I stuck with it and finished it and it sucked up the whole of March.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Film Adaptations

The discussion of film adaptations of books is something that comes up a lot around the tea station. I've never really understood the argument that a film adaptation is ALWAYS worse than the book. I love seeing my favourite characters come to life, so I thought I'd figure out what everyone's problem is with on screen representations.

1. The character doesn't look like they do in the book
.The Character is fictional, even animations are artist interpretations, by committee, of what the character should look like. But casting directors work really hard to get as close as possible to the character description AND find an excellent actor to portray the character. Little details like, Daniel Radcliff doesn't have green eyes are such tiny complaints, Sure he's meant to have his mother's green eyes, but the important thing is that he was the right ten year old for the job. GET OVER IT PEOPLE.

2. They left out a huge chunk of the plot!
Did they though? Again , another Harry Potter example: Did we really need four hours of real time representation of Hermione's fight for the liberation of the house elves in the Goblet of Fire? No, I'm okay with some of those details not being there. Mostly the characters ended up  where they are supposed to at the end, if one thing is changed or adapted slightly, I really have no problem with it.

3. Movies don't provide the whole picture.

Yes, but when I watch something where they've skipped a detail, I often feel smug thinking: Ah, well he only did that because of the relationship to his father blah blah origin story. Those who have read the book get to fill in the blanks while the rest of the plebs enjoy watching the interaction between characters. 

4. They ruined my favourite quote!

Now here, I agree. I think movies dumb things down sometimes, particularly with more modern adaptations (the tragedy that is Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly.) It's done to make sure everyone understands what's happening but: ‘I love you… most ardently, please do me the honor of accepting my hand’ is nothing in comparison to the heart wrenching language of Austen: “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” FAIL screenplay writer, FAIL. Mostly however, they get it right and keep the gems that fans loved in the books: "okay? okay." - The Fault in Our Stars.

5. You're buying time.
Forgive me I cannot remember who said this. But the reason people keep buying books is because you're not just buying the book for the story, you're buying the time that you will need to read the book. you're buying leisure and relaxation and long train rides and early mornings. Films don't really have that same appeal because you absorb them in a matter of hours, truncating your enjoyment. For that reason...yup books win this one.

I enjoy movies. I always have. I probably enjoy them about as much as I like to read books, although books tend to make a more permanent stamp on my life, the merits of a good movie or TV adaptation does not upset me. Life is too short to moan about the adaptation ruining your favourite book. If it's your favourite, find the positive things you liked about the book in the film. Sure the movies get it wrong sometimes, like in the case of bad special effects ruining a scene. But then again bad writing can easily ruin a book... but that's another blog.