An afternoon out of the office with the marketing department for lunch
and some very relaxing ten-pin bowling. Isaac the Kabbalist drops by
as I talk to Mihaela. Later a drink with Rex, hearing
more of his ideas about
As he gets onto the topic of
shame and moral reflection, two girls promoting
Lite beer totter
into the cafe wearing only high heels and tiny plastic skirts and
plastic tops, both transparent at the back to show that neither girl has
any underwear on. One girl wears a leather collar round her throat fronted
by a metal ring, so the other can lead her with a leash.
article of mine up today.
On the street last night met Heather with Zdravko. Z, like Olivia,
interprets at the FBI college for 3 more weeks. Then he
interprets Macedonian for more policemen in
New Mexico. Today uneventful.
Robin helps me catch the 6.12am from Tiszaug.
Meet two charming Persian
students in the dining car from Kecskemet.
I've learned to avoid
bacon omlette option (added cubes of salted fat), so breakfast was good.
Straight into office.
In the small hours,
Robin & I watch
Bill 1' on television. If you
are one of those people in cinemas who shouts "Fast forward!"
when there is no fighting on screen, this film is for you. What it is
closest to is a blend of samurai movie and the
singing-dancing-&-fighting films that come out of India.
asleep several times during the final half-hour of sword combat.
At first, the title reminded me of Guy talking about lads
kicking the blue lights off tops of parked
police cars shouting "Kill the Bill",
but for American audiences "Bill" does not mean "police". Bill is
a David Carradine character whose assassins leave Uma Thurman's
character for dead in a massacre at her own wedding. This is
therefore a revenge film, and, once she is out of her coma,
'Kill Bill' is an item on Uma's to-do list - which is why I got a to-do
list as a
gift some months ago.
I was looking forward to a couple of early lines of
told us about in advance [such as
"You'd better shitcan that blasphemy boy, you're in a
house of worship."], but it soon became clear how badly
needs good scripts to work from. In
'Jackie Brown' his filmic
inventiveness was tied to a good narrative by veteran storyteller
In 'Kill Bill', despite some fresh moments, Tarantino's loving
homage to all the kung-fu films he saw in his decade at the video shop
felt narcissistic and vacant. This film is a battle between his
visual originality and his nostalgia for narrative cliche, and cliche wins.
Hot sun has turned the mud lanes through flat fields round
into soft, beige powder. I wet my shirt to stay cool, and
& Geza's in the next village for an
afternoon Arabic lesson. Later Robin & Georgina pick me up
from there in the old Benz, to go swimming
in the lake with the children. Towards
dusk we go back, finding trees heavy with fruit down a dusty track.
We gorge on white mulberries, black mulberries [the first mulberries
I ever saw, last summer with
pink mulberries and sour cherries,
until our fingers are purple, our tongues sore, and our eyes glazed.
Caught last train out to
on the Great Plain.
Read an odd little free booklet ['Best
on the Market'] from
offering a free chapter from each of ten 1999 business books.
The first is by Warren Buffet, the
tenth excerpts thoughts of Warren Buffet, and one in the middle quotes
the 1930s Investment Sage Who Taught Warren All He Knows [This chapter
explains, many times, that in depressions some companies' shares get
priced at less than the value of machinery and stock]. Of the other
seven, one says aligning your brand with a relevant charity in a
thought-out way helps both the firm's brand and the charity, another
is called 'Action Management', one is called 'Five Frogs on a Log'
frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
Answer: five. Why? Because there's a difference between deciding and
and one is called 'Performance Drivers'. This last advocates
an approach called the 'Balanced Scorecard' which sounds quite
interesting, except that if it was, the sample chapter could
have started to explain it. One book excerpt ['The Information
Masters': John McKean] is written entirely in Emperor's New Prose,
alternating reams of one-line paragraphs -
"They are obsessed with customers.
They are obsessed with information.
They are dangerous.
They are the future.
They are the Information Masters.
But they are the lucky ones." etc.
- with sentences like [sic] "The firms
who are well on their way to near
information mastery levels have found that their previous efforts to
implement segment of one marketing failed because they did not have
systemic information competency to adequately execute the promises of
segment of one marketing." It would
be nice to find a business publisher who knows what commas
and hyphens are for, but even more refreshing
to find a business author obsessed with readers.
Liverpool Cotton Association still intrigues.
Last night finished Geoffrey Brereton's
short History of French Literature'.
Tidily breezing through centuries and
genres, this is impressive criticism from the 1950s. Brereton makes clear judgements,
and is able to grade writers confidently into major, minor but interesting,
and many variations in between. He holds back from
showing off his own writing, staying with the task at hand. Describing
Ecouchard Lebrun, he writes that
"Inflated with abstract words and
phantom images, it floats or rolls along at roof-top level
like a giant carnival balloon." but that
"The spectacle of its buoyant
pomp is harmless and even exhilarating."
Asides like this are dozens of pages apart, and are never allowed
to blur the French writers he crisply and courteously sums up.
I cycle at
Heather clearly in grip of ferret obsession. Reports seeing two more
on leashes today. Coffee & cake with
has printed an excellent photo of Robin, Letty & Zsuzsa.
With Esther, Clara & Duygu to see
at cinema, a 3D computer animation from
These have the flexibility of cartoons and not quite (yet) the
solidity of stop-go table-top animation. I was curious to see this film because I woke out of a dream, 11 or 12 years ago in Yorkshire, of a film called 'Zoobreak',
in which human actors in animal suits (one British urban accent per species: Scouse lions, Glaswegian polar bears, Geordie stags, Mancunian zebras, Brummie tigers,
London... something) riot in a zoo while two of the zebras go over the wall in homage to all the prison-break movies ever made. Lots of scenes of hunched-up leopards smoking roll-ups and playing cards. Hard-faced prison warders with buckets of fish, that sort of thing. This film turned out to be fairly different from that. The US alternative to my cliches was a set of animals representing standard TV sitcom characters (The Extravert, The Jewish Neurotic, The No-Nonsense Ghetto Mama, The Crazy Dreamer). A bit of a yawn there, I'm afraid. The animals leave a zoo in central New York, get caught again, but are then packed into crates to be returned to the wild. This turns out to be a Madagascar filled with lemurs ruled over by a rather charmingly vain lemur king. 3D computer animation still has serious weaknesses, as showed in the rather blob-like human faces and their unconvincing bobbing and swaying walks. It seems to still take budget to make any character look interesting, one at a time. The story was good, with serious thought given to the problem of a comedy lion and a comedy zebra remaining best buddies once back in the wild. Scenes in which hunger transforms every moving creature, including his zebra friend, into walking, talking beef steaks in his eyes, drive a plausible plot twist: Alex the cuddly lion is terrified by his own instincts once he realises that what human keepers used to feed him with were pieces of dead animals. Odd that both this film and mine have one or more zebras responsible for the escape - I suppose the echo of striped prison shirts is just too tempting. Boring that the zebra's voice was a Black Dude and the lion's was a Lovable White Guy. The moments where they sing
'New York, New York' together were a bit sickly (Not unlike the
'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner' song, which at least has the excuse of being written during the Blitz). Some sharp, witty moments with the penguins and monkeys. Reel
to Real's song was a good choice. Not quite special, but decent fun as films go.
ferret in arms of woman at
While she cooks chicken and apple, Heather tells me that in the last couple
of days she has seen three ferrets about town, two of them on leashes. Am still
unsure of difference between
office, some melon-flavoured tea.
Afternoon, some raspberry-flavoured tea.
Sunny 4 days in a row: summer at last?
Back in London,
sacrifice, a bit like in
day apparently, though by
Language Hat links to
Patrick who has a
of 2000+ Chinese characters in order of frequency.
Damp, chilly weather might be over. Sunny & warm yesterday, sunny & hot today.
Watching my bus stop, I sheltered from the sun in the shadow of the flyover
where Erzsebet Bridge starts in Pest. In the shade under the bridge, a
girl in a long skirt slouched over
to make an offer (gambling, not sex). I thanked her, refusing.
joke isn't it?" she said a few minutes later, apropos of nothing. "Joke?"
I asked, confused. "Yes, joke. Funny thing. Gag." she explained, glancing at
me wearily. "But what kind of joke is there here?" I added, hesitantly. She looked back.
"Here?" she sneered lightly. "There's no joke here. This is reality."
We both nodded wisely in silence as my bus pulled in.
to bed, Charlie & I go for pizza and beer at Marxim's, and
discuss living in exile and suchlike. At midnight, I find that my 2nd
Time to canvass those
dealers, ho ho.
Another day in the
Prague book all day.
Nice break for milkshake with Stephanie. At dusk walked home
through Szent Istvan Park and saw a stocky man playing table tennis in the
almost-dark with a small boy, using two concrete ping-pong tables, not one.
Lacking a net, they solved the problem by taking a whole table each, so the
ball had to clear the gap between the two tables on each bounce.
read about how a
to make a television show.
Kiss were already relics in the early 80s, so
now? The students write
Coleridge's school, not Keats'.
Woke at 6am out of a vivid dream about
building trees with unlikely shapes by
grafting together sections of living wood. These trees had living
Slept 11 hours. Between the
sleeps, wake in the small hours from
a vivid dream about
Adam & Mihaela.
Out having a late drink with
(in Hungary for a stag party) run into us. Follo & Valentina's little girl back in Spain now at circus school.
In the small hours got to the end of my mother's copy of F.C.Happold's book
an interesting essay followed by a quite full anthology of
readings from everyone from
Cloud of Unknowing author to
a Kempis. Even
has a couple of
pages (I'm going to be a while finishing that book). The fitting last
sentence of the book is by
Berry's recommendation, the very
intellectually French Jesuit
de Chardin. It goes
"If by its very nature it did not escape from the time
and space which it gathers together, it would not be Omega."
A rather grand, sci-fi-flavoured close to an excellent, bracing book.
Slightly annoyingly, I've inadvertently scented the whole book with the
powerful synthie perfume of the
pineapple I used as a bookmark -
a gift I later found was promoting a
shopping magazine. Full of
good segments, and a thoughtful, well-written study by Happold, who was
a schoolmaster from the 1930s to the 1960s. Probably a very inspiring one. A
discovery for me was mid-19th-century writer
His short section from
Story of My Heart', mentioning his search for the
'Fourth Idea', was a startling read. Some Islam, some Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek
thought and Christianity - perhaps an example of Jewish mysticism would have rounded off this book.
Hard to say anything appropriate about this collection, mostly in their own famously inadequate
words, of what mystics experience.
friendly mention from
Despite spotting my amateurish
confusion right away, he still recommends my diary! Kiraly.
Nigel & I walk to a park. Later I get to
back to Budapest.
Quick and convenient it may be, but flying is a bit sterile & sad. Aeroplanes
are like sealed, tubular office buildings with minimal romance or glamour.
The lack of a woman to say goodbye to or say hello to at either end (just
one of the two would be a start) makes the procedure a bit lonely, too.
- however grubby - still seem places in
themselves. Places where adventures could happen and people might meet. Trying to meet
someone on a plane - or keep in touch with them later - is a bit like trying
to strike up friendships in a lift. Everyone is too tired, too tense or too
cramped to open up to strangers when they're airborne, breathing plastic air.
Now France has
the European constitution, today the
also vote (turns out to be also "Against", by a bigger majority than France).
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com
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