non-massage and sort-of book reviews (2004-12-09 - 4:14 p.m.)
Five-hour-long daily internet access is a very happy thing. I can tell already that I'm going to be posting all kinds of ridiculous stuff, just because I'm not paying for it! (In fact, I'm being paid).
Went for "massage therapy" today at the local Wellness Centre thing. They seem to have a range of subsidized services. Anyway, I was expecting some actual massaging to take place (I'm desperate to get rid of the knot in my shoulder) but apparently I was mistaken. She asked what was wrong, then sat me down on the wee hospital bed thing, stood back about a metre, held out her hands and closed her eyes, in order to "read" me. Then she asked me about recent dental work and told me I push down harder with one foot than the other when I walk (true). Then she spent 45 minutes with me lying on the bed, sort of doing some kind of laying on of hands thing. I found it a bit unorthodox, but I've learned not to knock things just because I don't understand them. (Sort of: I'm still very fond of actual evidence before I believe something!) At any rate, it was very reminiscent of Evil Mike the acupuncturist, reading somebody's chi.
She seemed kind of disappointed that I didn't feel anything (though I did get a weird warm and tingly sensation when she had her hands above my feet) but in the end the knot was a lot less prominent. I don't know how much was her and how much was just being forced to lie down and relax for 45 minutes! I almost got all the stress back again, though, when she almost made me late for work looking for change when I paid her.
Anyway, not sure I'll be going back - too expensive, even subsidized. And I kind of wanted a massage, not a holistic repair session! Ah well, it did work, more or less, so no money wasted.
So it seems like all the cool people are busy posting reviews of things (books, music, films) on their website (or Stephen and Rem at least - wait, maybe it's not all the cool people. Just kidding!) I think it's just because all my friends are dyed-in-the-wool geeks. Regardless, I'm going to join their ranks and tell you what I thought of a whole pile of stuff. (Actually, I think I joined the ranks of the geeks long ago: this is merely the outward manifestation).
Right. So I've basically been on a big Scottish culture kick for the last few months, not surprisingly. I think 90% of what I've read has either been set in Scotland or by a Scottish author. I especially like the Edinburgh ones because now I actually know the streets and landmarks they mention!
Last night I finished "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" by Muriel Spark. I mostly read it because she was one of the only female authors mentioned on the Edinburgh Literary Tour I went on a while back, interestingly. Anyway, I was impressed that such a small book could pack such a punch. Muriel Spark seems to specialize in extremely taut writing. She picked one characteristic of each character and kept referring back to it, yet somehow managed not to make them caricatures. I was impressed.
The story itself is about small-scale fascism as masterminded by a very unusual schoolteacher, using a select group of pupils as her army. Which was an interesting premise for a book, but what interested me the most was the tightness of the narrative - not a word or scene wasted. I thought it could be described as "mean" in more ways than one, both because it was extremely sparse and because it featured some fairly nasty characters.
So there you go. Go read the book, and support Scotland's female authors! Excellent Edinburgh quote: "Miss Brodie looked beautiful and fragile, just as dark, heavy Edinburgh itself could suddenly be changed into a floating city when the light was a special pearly white and fell upon one of the gracefully fashioned streets."
You should also read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon for its absolutely incredible trick of getting you inside the mind of someone with Aspergerís syndrome. You realize how it feels to be stuck with a brain that can't interpret emotions or cope with the stimuli of everyday life, but you also see how it feels to be responsible for someone who has the condition. Two viewpoints in one! I looked at the world differently for days after reading this.
Right, I'm getting bored of reviewing things. Oh, I did see the movie "Coffee and Cigarettes", though, and really liked it (despite disliking both coffee and cigarettes themselves). Completely random, but it was fun to watch and I liked the way each short little scene focussed in on one or two characters. Also, I want to marry Tom Waits. Too bad he's happily married to ol' Kathleen. Ah well.
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