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2012
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July 31st; 1960s film which is really just a slide show with narration. I find spoken French much harder than written French, but this vivid sequence of still images telling the story of a time traveller and the future (apparently this film inspired the rather less haunting '12 Monkeys') is hypnotic to watch and listen to: 'La Jetee'. Why does no-one try to make films like this now?
July 30th; Odd story about policemen raiding homes looking for books.

July 29th; Wake out of vivid, intricate dreams. Was in a novel with haunting flavour of lost love, hopping between worldlines. Must be last night's melatonin talking. All day dog-sitting for a friend plus final proofing of our new physics book, going off to the printers any day now. Wonderful dark storm early evening.
July 28th; Sharpen page for Collateral Damage collection. Still much to do.

July 27th; Weather warm, sticky. Norbina the Fish (for she is a she) wiggles on in her wineglass world. Two videos showing different ways to open a can without a can-opener {one / two} and another by a man who has done lots of research at home to support his belief that incandescent light bulbs are cheaper, greener, and give better light than the new eco-approved CFL light bulbs.
July 26th; The Sun Is Longing For The Sea.

July 25th; Now that women's IQs exceed men's, look for left-wing types who always dismissed IQ as not measuring real intelligence to suddenly change their minds.
July 24th; Supposedly this explains four-dimensional perspective.

July 23rd; "I woke up from coma with a West Country Accent"
July 22nd; Afternoon coffee with Antonio, passing through town. Chat about markets.

July 21st; Dine with Zoe & Lucy. Discuss books.
July 20th; Tense Friday. Had enough of this now. Manage not to think about cash & debt.

July 19th; Tense Thursday. Reflect the weather back to where it came from.
July 18th; Tense Wednesday. Then and Now.

July 17th; Tense Tuesday. Back when hairdos rotted from within.
July 16th; Tense Monday. Venice has underwater trains?

July 15th; David Byrne singing the song Once in a Lifetime in the 1980s. This curious stage act (which looks improvised but probably wasn't) seems to blend two characters into one persona. The evangelical gospel preacher of New England tradition alternates with the twitching, demon-possessed chapelgoer in need of spiritual healing.
July 14th; Las Vegas early days. Almost poignant.

July 13th; Sobering - why firms hire no new staff.
July 12th; Automation and inequality.

July 11th; Epiphanies continue to multiply. Slightly glum American artist praises candlelight;
July 10th; This vigorously dark analysis of world finances puts me rather in mind of this old tune. "Burn all my notebooks. What good are notebooks? They won't help me survive." I always assumed that song was mainly about people in New York drinking far too much coffee, but we are told all these things are sumptuously many-layered.

July 9th; Medical Attila zooms across town in the heat to save my bacon. Balint tells me he swam across Lake Balaton in a big event on Saturday. Drinks after seven with Brother Stephen and Brother Tim. The wonders of folded paper.
July 8th; Three days ago reset the image that glows behind all the little file & folder icons on my laptop screen (the background so strangely called a "desktop") to a gravely serene Duccio painting on wood. A "polyptych", no less. Prefer this one, but needed a lying-down oblong, rather than a sitting-up one. Thought perhaps it was time some computer icons met the real thing.

July 7th; For three days now have been trying a regimen of 3 or 4 cold baths a day, each lasting a minimum of five minutes. If you run a very cold bath on a hot day and immerse all but your face, the effect is interesting. The room begins to spin, and the taps sometimes grow larger or smaller. Or else they visibly move in one direction (usually left to right) against the grid of bathroom wall tiles. Of course this is a (very vivid) illusion and they keep snapping back into place. Like delirium but without the sick fever feeling. Quite something. The sensation afterwards is wonderful, and the heat seems pleasant and incidental for about 3/4 of an hour. Reminds me of some comedian who said he used to smoke hash but now at his age he can get the same effect just by standing up quickly. Worry a bit about Norbert the Fish. Each time the thermometer I have made him share his wineglass with creeps into the mid-80s Farenheit, I slip a sliver of ice cube from the fridge into his water to bring it down a couple of degrees. He seems to move around in a less sluggish way after this so perhaps this is good. Talking of fish...
July 6th; In the heat of the afternoon, Attila brings some beers round and answers my questions about dentistry. I get to Jeremy & Csilla almost an hour late but they kindly invite me to join them for curry, and proper thunder & rain out on the street comes with nightfall. When the local council water the tarmac by day, a warm scent of wet road fills the air, and we get this again.
A nice simple graphic image, but doesn't this have to be depicting two gay stags? Even if they kiss, a girl deer (doe) gets much less in the way of antlers, no?

July 5th; At 8pm I find Market Garden Mark watering his plants two streets away. He proudly shows me the tiny shoots of his ginger plant, tends to the monstrous and apparently unstoppable Tomato Being, and explains some different bugs, good and bad. Apparently watering with chilly water can give plants Cold Shock, and the Hungarians have a special word for the foot-wide gap that should be weeded between two adjacent plots. Much to learn. Around 9pm the light suddenly starts to dim and as we walk towards his tram, jabs of lightning peep round dark street corners in the distance. Later meet Terri. We briefly discuss Diana Athill and Germaine Greer, and Terri explains Alvi's intriguing new mobile-phone app, a map application that shows you if there are nearby adventurous people interested in meeting up for a drink.
July 4th; Buttons Sylvia drops by.

July 3rd; Productive lunch with Ross and his colleague Balint discussing their IP telephony business. In the evening get a nasty shock. Wandering outdoors, still shaken, to catch the late shop, bump into American Mark (he of the friendly black dog) who gives me a radish from his pocket. It seems he is one of a group of vegetable-growing activists who have created some urban-guerilla allotments just two blocks behind my flat. I promise to visit him there on Thursday. Old song that cheers me up a bit.
July 2nd; With Olga and her cat watch 'The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus', and my June 2nd assessment of the film based on the trailer was wrong. It is a rather lovely tale, handling some moral themes with a deft lightness I didn't think Terry Gilliam had in him. The imaginarium is a kind of magical fairground machine which you enter and where you are shown the dreams inside your own mind. This makes it a reasonable metaphor for the film industry, and lets what looks like a quaint fantasy story discuss films, whether directors should compromise to attract more people to watch a film, and what it is audiences do to themselves when they choose movies to escape into. All that with likeable characters, colourful whimsy, gentle humour, and some dark observations of human nature. Watch the trailer and trust it is a lot better than that.

July 1st; Watch 'Clockwork Orange' with Olga after years of meaning to. Really very good, surprisingly faithful to the Burgess novel, yet very much a Kubrick film at the same time. About the only plot detail I can recall Kubrick left out is that in the Burgess version the liberal-minded novelist whose wife gets raped is writing a book called 'Clockwork Orange' and Alex spots this on the typewriter during the break-in. Well worth seeing, not least because some people thought in the 19th century that what we now call classical music filled people with dangerous, disruptive, antisocial emotions - the same criticism levelled at pop music in the 20th century. This old view is now only cited as a way of dismissing more recent critiques of popular music as self-evidently ridiculous. No-one considers the possibility that both sets of critics might have been right. Since the fact that Alex the thug loves the music of Beethoven (eg the Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony) is given as a redeeming feature, a sign of Alex's underlying humanity despite his vicious cruelty, it is not clear if this idea occurred even to Burgess. Especially unlikely since Burgess was originally an orchestral composer who said he only tried novel-writing when one day he realised he'd spent a month composing a segment of score that would play for one minute, and reckoned he could have written a novel in that time.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com