Thursday, 3 January 2019

Belated Happy New Year!

Personally, whatever else has been going on, 2018 was a good year for me.  Thank you everyone who bought one of my books, or attended one of my talks or events.

I don't often do end of year lists but I'd like to mention, as far as books are concerned, a few of my favourites this year:
  • Shawn Levy Dolce Vita Confidential: Fellini, Loren, Pucci, Paparazzi, and the Swinging High Life of 1950s Rome.
Biographer of the Rat Pack produces another engrossing page-turner that I devoured remarkably quickly, followed by a viewing of some of the key films mentioned in the text. I love Italy and (some) of its culture.
  • Damian Le Bas The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain
A much older slant on the 'liminal' school of British geography -see earlier blog entry.
  • E M Forster Howard's End
Never read this classic before - put off by Forster's 'heritage' image - but really enjoyed this strangely subversive novel, which I read over the Christmas holiday, part of my mother-in-law's dusty but fascinating old library.

I get very little time to go to the cinema to see new films, so all the films I enjoyed are old and on DVD - most of them in black and white:

(Antonioni) Trilogy  La Notte, L'Eclisse, L'Avventura.
(Franju) Eyes Without A Face
(Varda) Cleo de 5 a 7
(Murnau) Sunrise
(Wilder) One, Two, Three
The Woodfall films box set - I never grow tired of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and all the other films in this set still stand up.

Musically, again it's been mostly old stuff that I've only just discovered. I was particularly impressed by two records by the 1970s English 'Krautrock' band Nektar: Journey to the Centre of the Eye and A Tab in the Ocean. Rather more recent the output of Norwegian (where else?) prog, jazz, fusion, psychedelic trio Elephant 9 see here. Another Norwegian outfit who look interesting are Needlepoint, see here.

Gig of the year - let's go for The Bevis Frond at Blackmarket VIP in December - great psychedelic light show and suitably 'far out'.

Must also mention Dewa Budjana who played in Hastings this year - my second favourite after BF. I knew nothing about him and at the gig bought his cd Zentury, bedecked with one of the worst covers and titles ever, but some interesting music within - I love the first cd but the second is harder to warm to. Some really adventurous electric guitar playing on here in a Mahavishnu style, but with a lot of unusual scales and syncopation - he's Indonesian and seems totally unknown here, although he has some stellar musos playing with him. His website here.

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