Saturday, May 7, 2011

I command you to kneel before the God of thunder and rock and roll (Kiss)

I've finally finished the Thesinger book Arabian Sands that I mentioned a while ago. The stories of his stay with Sheihk Zayed in Buraimi in the late 1940s, when the future ruler is a youngish man with clear charisma, were interesting because, in 2011, we see Zayed's influence everywhere in the UAE and we live a stones throw from Buraimi on the UAE/Oman border. To have a semi-mythical character given flesh and blood like this was a revelation.

I'm now dipping back into my stockpile of books.

First up is The Te Of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. I really enjoyed his first book in a similar style called The Tao Of Pooh. I enjoy this pop art view of the Tao. Basically Tao, pronounced like the arabian boats called dhows, means living in harmony with all things or 'the universe'. The links from the Tao to the A A Milne stories of my childhood are really appealing.

My stockpile of books also includes a slim volume version of The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. My other copy is in storage in New Plymouth so I needed a new one.

As a sage Lao Tzu is perfect: as alert as a person crossing a winter stream, as simple as uncarved wood and as yeilding as melting ice.

Hoff takes Piglet and explores how his character embodies Te (pronounced Deh). Te can be defined as virtue in action. This kind of literary mash-up is fun to explore and read and I love recommending them.

Talking of pop or low culture - Jacky and I saw Thor at the movies a few nights ago. First up - let me tell you that the movie going experience here is not the greatest.
  • It's generally freezing. They turn the AC up full blast. It's 41 degrees outside (ie - bloomin' hot) but to go to a movie I have to dress up in jeans, hoodie and shoes.
  • It's generally deafening. I always think of Peter Joyce when I go to the movies. He'd be gone burger after 5 seconds. Why o why they have it so BLOOMIN' LOUD is beyond me. Maybe it's designed to cover up the cell phones (see below).
  • Cell phones go off every five minutes. And when they are not going off the youngsters check their phones incessantly to see why they haven't gone off.
  • The locals bring in three course meals to munch on during the film. Usually one of the courses involves nachos, which smell!
  • Time of day is crucial. Anytime after the afternoon siesta is fatal. The locals all come out to play from about 5.30pm onwards and you can then times the above annoying behaviour by 10.
If you can survive all that and concentrate on the actual film you are doing well. For a film to hold your attention during all that it has to be exceptional.

Thor is not exceptional. But it is a bit of fun. And it did have some (intentional) humour. And Natalie Portman!

Thor was one of my favourite comics when I was younger. The cosmic relationship between Thor and his brother, Loki, was always a great example of sibling rivalry. The relationship with his father, Odin, also had unusual depth and shading for a comic book.

It's a tough (impossible?) ask for a mere movie to recapture the awe inspiring nature of the original comic but I still went hoping for a reasonably faithful rendition and with the recent disappointments of Iron Man 1 and 2 and Fantastic Four 1 and 2 at the forefront of my brain.

Sure enough the film pales next to the comic and I won't be buying the DVD for a repeat viewing but it was still an okay piece of entertainment. And did I mention it has Natalie Portman in it?

Love and peace - Wozza

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