Saturday, 27 October 2007

10 Movies that are better than the books

In the last couple of weeks, I have both read the book Atonement and seen the movie. As to be expected, the book was far, far better. I mean, that's the way it usually is, books are generally like drinking a smoothie as opposed to cordial made from a packet. Tane and I were talking the other night, though, about books which are worse than the movies, movies that are the smoothie to the powdered cordial of the book. This is my list:

1. Brokeback Mountain. The movie was fabulous, and captured the relationship between the two men far better than the book. The book didn't have me thinking "I can't quit you!" (A random aside - is it just me that looks twice at the guys in the Speights ads now?)

2. Once Were Warriors. Alan Duff cannot write. The movie was good, but I would rather poke nails through my eyelids than read anything else written by that man.

3. Zodiac. I loved the movie, but found that in the book the author was too busy telling the story of himself being fantastic to hold my interest.

4. The English Patient. The movie was beautiful. The book was good, but also quite pretentious, at times so over-written I wanted to vomit in my own mouth, and much clumsier in its execution than the movie. Apparently, the book is 'post-colonialism', which explains why it is the way it is. I don't care. Putting an 'ism' on the end of a phrase doesn't necessarily make the book in question a great book. Sometimes I wonder if people are scared to criticise pretentious writing as they fear looking stupid, like they didn't "get" it, when all we need is the little child to yell "but the Emperor is wearing no clothes!"

5. Children of Men. They were both flawed, but the way P.D. James painted the world inhabited by the characters was not as strong as that shown in the movie. I also preferred the adapted plot in the movie.

6. The Constant Gardener. The book was good, but the movie had a heart and soul to it that the book lacked. I empathised with the characters in the movie far more than in the book, and got much more emotionally involved.

7. The Three Musketeers. At least I could finish the movie. The book still sits on our bedside table with a book mark permanently living about half way through.

8. Forest Gump. The book really disappointed me on account of being wayyyy too random.

9. The Joy Luck Club. While the book is lovely, the movie is more coherent and, as a result, better.

10. Clueless / Emma. This was a left field adaption, but I just got more pleasure from Clueless than I did from Emma. Maybe it was because Emma didn't carry a phone that looked like a brick. Heh.

Some other people have come up with a few more that I can't comment on as haven't read the books, but thought I'd post anyway. Namely Sense and Sensibility, Whale Rider, The Pianist, and Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Disagree? Got more to add?

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Look down!

And not just to the cool pic of Lauren in the leaves. We've done an awards entry for our trip, but due to the vagaries of the blog (and me starting it weeks ago), it's appeared way down the page. You'll find it here.

Autumn leaves

Ahhhh, Autumn leaves. So pretty. So much fun. If Autumn leaves could talk, they would say "kick me". Although, given how cold it is now when the leaves are still falling, I am getting slightly nervous about the winter to come .....

Sunday, 21 October 2007

In London Town

Life in London is going well. We have a lovely flat, we both have jobs, and feeling like an underground lemming during the commute to work is better than expected.
Our flat. OK, no, but that would be cool.

This, below, is the Ealing Common, near where we live. Apparently, Ealing is the greenest part of London. Score. Of note, Ealing also has a burger shop run by New Zealanders that sells an All Blacks burger. I am too scared to ask how the sales have done since the game of DOOM against France a few weeks ago.

The thing that is great about London is that so many cool things are either in the city or nearby. Last weekend, we travelled to the small town of Rochester, home to a huge church and Norman castle. The castle was especially impressive, and from a distance looked like the type of castle that gets drawn with crayons by a child. It was even better on the inside, with its winding staircases and high turrets. Living in that castle must really have been a testosterone boost.

On the subject of castles and testosterone, we also saw Henry the Eight's suit of armour the other day. The codpiece was so obscene that I have decided not to publish the photo should children be viewing it. I felt sorry for the harassed looking father looking at it the same time as me who was asked by his young daughter "Daddy, what's that?" I don't know what he replied as he whispered the answer to her after turning a funny shade of pink, but the young girl sure found it funny.
After two and a half weeks, both Tane and I are enjoying London. It's getting cold, and my Turkey tan is becoming a distant memory, and soon we will be spending far too many waking hours in darkness. I still think though that London is choice.

East Side vs West Side

Last weekend, we joined Stephen for a visit to the most important line in the World. Yeah, it just looks like a boring old line. Black, on a white background. But, it's really very exciting, as we were in Greenwich, the place where time begins and ends. And that line, albeit a somewhat boring line, is the line between East and West, the place where the time zones begin and end. As you can see, Tane is Westside, and Stephen is Eastside. I don't know if I was Southside or Northside from where I took the photo as the sun always seems to be in the wrong place in the Northern Hemisphere and my sense of direction is as accurate as trying to count multiples of ten with your hands while missing a thumb.

Westside! Eastside!

As well as the line where time begins and ends, Greenwich is a lovely place to visit. There are beautiful old buildings, some fabulous churches, and while we were there, a period movie being made also.

It was very funny seeing the extras talking on cellphones. Note the mist: it got pumped out of a machine to make the scene look grimy and old school

We stood around to watch them shoot a 30 second sequence involving a carriage and lots of yelling. It was all very exciting, and gave us a really good appreciation of all the work that goes into making movies as that sequence was all they shot in the three hours we were there.

The best part of Greenwich, though, was the park. The park was huge, green, and contained hills perfect for rolling down. So, naturally, westside and eastside had to compete for the honour of being hill roller supreme master. Westside takes the lead

But no, Eastside races ahead...

Dizzy yet victorious

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Why I'll be backing South Africa

It's a rare occasion that a New Zealander finds themselves supporting South Africa in the rugby, but that's what I and I suspect most of my rugby-following countrymen will be doing on Saturday night. I'll be watching the World Cup Final with my South African flatmate, who served in the British Army and probably knows more ways to kill me than I've cooked dinners with spiral pasta, but that's not the reason why I'm behind the Boks.
It's England. Not that I have any bias against my new home - I support their football side and don't mind their cricket team, but oh, how I hate the rugby team.
I do, reluctantly, have to give them credit. From looking like they would struggle to beat Opotiki United a few weeks ago, they've showed a huge amount of guts and intelligence in getting this far. They've tackled strongly, their forwards are tough, they've played to their limitations. And Johnny Wilkinson, though far from the messiah he's portrayed in the media here, has kicked enough points to get them through. But boy, are they boring.
The excellent Jason Robinson aside, they have the attacking flair of a beached whale. South Africa at least know how to throw the ball around. In fact, after rubbish refereeing, ferocious French defence and some stupid decision-making saw the All Blacks go home, South Africa are the most complete team in the competition.
Let's hope, for the good of the game, they win and 10-man rugby doesn't.

P.S. Why is it that, time and again, France play well enough to beat the best team in the world, then fall flat the next game?

P.P.S. Given the number of friends who've told me how little they care about the rugby, I think the next World Cup might be the game's last chance to maintain its key place in New Zealand national identity. Which will probably be a good thing, though it's always nice to be consistently the best in the world at something.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Stonehenge and Salisbury. Yay!

A photo of the Tower Bridge I took while wandering. This photo does not relate to the entry whatsoever, I just felt like adding it!

Last weekend, Tane and I joined Stephen and Erica for a day trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury.
Stonehenge has got to be the most famous pile of rocks in the world. There is something really cool about the idea of a pile of huge rocks perfectly placed so that the sun hits at various angles at different times of the year, so we all boarded a giant red double decker bus and paid fees to enter the site that felt a tad like extortion to see what the fuss was about.
Tane does his Spinal Tap impersonation - 'Stonehenge, where the demons dwell/and the banshees live and they do live well'

Stonehenge was very cool and did not disappoint. The tacky attempt at Druid music and drums on the free audio guide was an added bonus. The thing with Stonehenge, though, is that while it is very cool, once you have looked at it from all angles and managed to manoeuvre yourself in order to take photos without the hordes of tourists in the background, there is not much else to see. Awe struck "ooohs" and "aaaaahs" start sounding a little silly after a while. It was about at this time that Stephen discovered the hardened sheep poop on the ground and began to amuse himself by throwing large chunks at me. Apparently it was quite funny seeing me try to remove it from my hair and jacket hood. I also learnt at Stonehenge something new about myself - my poop throwing skills are crap. I think I need to train for next time. Look at that evil glint in his eye
It was a great day, and an excellent first glimpse at what life outside London is like. Salisbury is a cute little town with a great church, not to mention poky old buildings that were built about the time the moa still roamed around New Zealand. Despite only being a couple of hours away, Salisbury has a very different feel to London. The foot traffic didn't have me fearing a stampede, and we did not feel compelled to use escalators while always standing on the right (to do otherwise is to risk nasty death stares from commuters moving so quickly through the subways that their training for the London Marathon can be the only explanation). Salisbury was also filled with white old people, rather than cosmopolitan young people. In short, it really felt like small(er) town England that what I'd seen so far. And while it's nice enough, I am still glad to be living in London. I can lift up a house! Ra!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

London - first impressions

Here I am, writing from London, our new home. We have lived in London now for a week and a day, and so far it is working out very well. We have a lovely flat, Tane has a job, and I have been spending my days wandering the streets being a tourist between job hunting myself. Yay! First impressions are that there is an awful lot about London to like - the buildings, the parks, and the shopping in particular. After hearing so many horror stories about the tube I was pleasantly surprised by that also. I think that the problems Wellington had with buses earlier this year was good practice for the tube, and so far nothing has come close to being just as crap as that was, which is saying something as Tane and I have even had the experience of the tube in rush hour wearing backpacks.
After a week and a day, I like London. It's exciting and vibrant, and I am enjoying getting to know one of the biggest cities in the world. One of the worst parts so far is actually not being able to find anywhere to upload photos, hence the lack of pics in this entry. I'm sure than in a little while I may be a little less positive, but thought there was no harm in writing a Pollyanna-esque entry about London while it's so fresh. And at least when London starts to grind me down, I ought to know where to upload photos from my digital camera :)

Friday, 5 October 2007

The end of the beginning - and travel awards

So here we are in London. We've been so busy since we arrived, with job and recruitment company interviews, starting work, bank appointments, shopping and sorting out our new flat, there's barely been a spare moment to reflect on our fabulous trip. Right now, we'd like to look back on it, hand out a few awards and find excuses to stick up some of the best photos we've not already posted.

Before I do that, special thanks to Kat, Stephen, Erica, Lucy, Chris and Sal for hosting us at various times. You're all awesome.

Lauren's top five places, in no particular order:

1) Fethiye, Turkey

2) Halong Bay, Vietnam

3) Dubai, UAE

4) Bergama, Turkey

5) Luang Phrabang, Laos

Tane's top five places:

1) Goreme

2) Halong Bay

3) Fethiye

4) Istanbul

5) Luang Phrabang

Monday, 1 October 2007

Ireland: some craic to be sure to be sure

There are certain things that typically only ever happen right at the end of something. Like, the time I lived in a flat up over 170 dodgy looking stairs, and only once fell down them - while I was moving out. Or, how at our last place, Tane parked his car in one spot the whole time. We only ever got one parking ticket for doing so though - the day before we left. I was reminded of these things when, on the last day of a two month trip around parts of the world where hygiene practices are dubious, both Tane and I got really ill.

Tane tries to smile his pain away. I am less polite.
While not indulging in self-pity and moaning, though, we have managed to have a very pleasant time in both London and Ireland. We weren't in London long, but it was long enough to find a flat as well and a job interview for Tane. Yay! Ireland, also, has been excellent.

Tane on the north coast of Ireland. So green. If you ignore the tiny brick houses and hedgerows, in fact, Ireland really reminded us of parts of NZ.

Unfortunately, this time around there has only been time to visit Dublin and Northern Ireland. These were both fabulous, though. Kat was an excellent host in Dublin, squeezing us into her flat and showing us around Trinity College. Tane and I also loved Northern Ireland, in particular getting into nature and seeing the countryside. All the corny cliches are true, we decided. Ireland is beautiful. Tane grinning on a swing bridge that he described as having "really good bounce". Given the drop below, all I remember about it was concentrating on getting to the other side.

Tane at the Giant's Causeway, a series of funky rock formations on the North Coast. According to local legend, it used to be part of the bridge giants used to walk to Scotland. Cool.

Ireland is also a fabulous place for getting a good history fix. In Dublin, the Post Office that was the site of the 1916 Easter Rising sits smack bang in the middle of town. It was quite eerie when I recognised it from some grainy photographs I saw once. While in Northern Ireland, we also spent some time in Derry. Derry was the home of Bloody Sunday, where 26 protesters were shot by the British in 1972. It's a pretty intense history, and Derry is filled with reminders of what happened, most memorably a series of murals around the area Bloody Sunday took place. After being in Derry I listened to U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday on my i-pod and actually understood the lyrics a little better. Before Derry, it was just a catchy tune.
I was also a bit surprised to see the Bloody Sunday museum filled with my surname - I had known that my ancestor was from Ireland and probably from Ulster, but didn't have many details. The curator of the museum told me that there were loads of us in Ulster though, and winking at me told me not to worry. They were all Republican, not pro-British.
Ireland is great. The fields are green, the Guinness is tasty, and the pubs are everywhere. Given the history fix as well, I am totally coming back one day.