Sunday, 18 October 2009

Mel Gibson's Back...

...in a remake of the 1985 BBC classic thriller, "Edge of Darkness".



The original, directed by Martin Campbell, starred Bob Peck, Joe Don Baker and Joanne Whalley, had a haunting soundtrack by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, and was so popular that BBC repeated it twice in the same year, something unheard of in those days.

The remake, also directed by Martin Campbell, stars Gibson, Ray Winstone and Bojana Novakovic, and is set to open in the US in January 2010. Music is by Howard Shore, which can't be bad...

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Books I've Been Reading...

I've recently finished a book entitled

"The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" by Kate Summerscale,

the account of an actual murder that took place in rural England in the 1860s, and the Scotland Yard detective whose task it was to investigate the case and unmask the killer.

It's a sad, yet fascinating story, not least because it actually took place, but also because the case is widely accepted as being the progenitor of detective stories in general and the country house murder story in particular.

Detective-Inspector Jonathan 'Jack' Whicher was one of the original recruits to the Detective Police from its inception in the early 1840s, and was widely regarded as one of the best in his field. When the assistance of Scotland Yard was requested by magistrates investigating the murder at Road Hill House, Whicher was selected to travel to the area and unravel what had occurred.

His investigations didn't please everyone, focussing as he did on the family of the victim rather than the servants, and he was not helped by local police who resented his intrusion as an outsider.

The investigation also opened the middle-class Victorian household, heretofore a bastion of privacy, to scrutiny by the masses via the press reports of the case and subsequent inquests and trials.

Not something I would necessarily have sought in a bookstore (Victorian true crime not high on my reading list), I received it as a gift and found it an excellent read.

I would be remiss in not recommending it.

I've also just finished "The Way We Die Now", by Charles Willeford, the last in his Hoke Moseley series, a noir tale about a Miami detective assigned to a secret investigation involving the disappearance of Haitian migrant workers on a farm in a neighbouring county.

Not having read the preceding books in the series (this was recommended by my former creative writing teacher), I have no real picture of the main character other than what I read in the final book, but it looks like he gets what he deserves in the end. Not sure I'll read the other three books in the series, but one never knows...

"Zoo Station" by David Downing is the story of an English journalist, John Russell, living and working in Berlin in 1939 who is approached by the Soviets to write a series of articles about life in Nazi Germany. With a 12-year-old son from a failed marriage to a German wife, and a German girlfriend, Russell is anxious to stay in the Reich as long as possible before the coming war, which everyone accepts as inevitable, breaks out.

Effectively a spy for the NKVD, Russell finds himself also working for the British while evading the SA and maintaining as much of a normal life as one could expect to live in the society of the time, taking his son to football matches and the zoo, dodging his landlady, covering events of the day, etc.

However when a colleague relates details of a story he has uncovered and enlists Russell's aid, the reporter finds himself looking over his shoulder and jumping at every shadow.

An engaging thriller, with a sequel 'Silesian Station' already available, the blurb on the back cover likens it to '...Robert Harris and Fatherland mixed with a dash of LeCarré.'

I'm looking forward to the next one...

Meanwhile, In Central City...

After the Aquaman video, I found this one featuring The Flash -

"The Ballad of Barry Allen":



Excellent stuff...

Music by Jim's Big Ego; video by tehbasil

Aquaman's Lament...

Some time ago, Lee posted a story which suggested that Aquaman might not be held in perhaps the highest esteem by his peers in the Justice League.

While visiting YouTube, I came upon this piece which suggests he might be on the needy side as well:



Judge for yourself...

Music and video by Mark Aaron James - I will be listening to more of his work...

Lisbon: Take Two...

At this moment, count centres all over this fair country are busy sorting ballot papers into three piles - Yes, No and Spoiled (for those who spell 'X' with a Y), to determine the result of Ireland's latest Constitutional Referendum, whether to approve the proposed 28th Amendment and allow ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

It is a feature of our society that any potential change to our Constitution has to be put to the Electorate in the form of a Referendum. There is no bar (as far as I know) to how many times a particular amendment may be proposed, as has been shown in matters involving divorce, abortion and EU affairs.

The Treaty of Lisbon (as it is also known) is designed to 'streamline' the workings of the European Union, now with 27 member states and expected to grow. Among the provisions of the Treaty (according to a pamphlet from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs) is the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into EU law, the appointment of a full-time President of the European Council; and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to speak for the Union on the international stage.

This is our second time to vote on this amendment - it was defeated the first time out (just like the Treaty of Nice, which we also got right the second time around), thanks to a lack of information from our Government on what it meant to us as a nation, and also to a concerted 'No' campaign by parties opposed to the Treaty.

Granted, information was available to those who chose to seek it out, but in carefully-worded legalese, and one can only read 'The party of the first part shall hereinafter be referred to as the party of the first part' before giving up and looking for the sanity clause which, as everyone knows, doesn't exist...

The Government told us it was good for the country and urged us to vote Yes, because if we didn't it would go against us in Europe. They didn't say how, but political cartoons suggested that we might have to stand in a corner wearing a pointy hat with a big D on it.

The Opposition parties urged a 'Yes' vote also, possibly on the basis that they'd one day be back in power and could either take credit or say 'It was the other fellow's fault' depending on the state of things when they got there.

But nobody would answer questions in any more detail about specific topics, such as whether Irish law could be determined from Brussels, how it would affect our constitutional position on neutrality; tax rates and ethical issues. For many the decision was made when it turned out that our own EU Commissioner claimed not to have even read the Treaty document.

With such uncertainty, and with more information coming from the
'No' side of the debate, 53% of those who voted, myself included, voted No.

Subsequent debate on the result suggested that we hadn't gotten it right, so our Taoiseach apologised to his EU colleagues and pledged to rerun the referendum, when, he felt, the Irish people would deliver a resounding
'Yes'.

And this time, the
'Yes' campaign put a bit more effort into things, short of making a nationwide broadcast to drum up support. Information was more freely available and there was debate. Yes, we would retain a Commissioner; no, Brussels couldn't force constitutional change; no, we weren't going to be part of a common defence policy, etc.

Disingenuously, however, much was made of the Treaty being about jobs and employment, which it isn't directly, while the
'No' side pushed the idea that we would become part of a federal state, a military superpower strengthening NATO's role in Europe.

Who'd want that?

Anyhow, the Irish people went once more to the polls to exercise their franchise, and when the Xs are counted and the Ys discarded, the feeling (and indeed hope) seems to be that the majority will be about 53% in favour of
'Yes'.

That okay, Brussels?

Can we take the pointy hat off now?

Cheers...