Friday, July 10, 2009

A book, some movies, two fashion dilemmas, and a mad car

Aside from all the underpants-based action seen in my last post, I've had a crazy-bonkers week, people. I often think my life is unexciting and a little bit dull, and that I don't actually do much, but I've been out and about every night this week, and quite frankly I could do with putting my feet up. Do you know I've only sat on my sofa for 26 minutes and 57 seconds this week? I only know that because the only programme I've watched on telly this week was Flight of the Conchords, and according to iTunes that's how long the episode 'Wingmen' was.

Darned good episode it was, too.

OK, so let's crack on with the stuff I promised you in the title of this post.

The Book:
I don't often talk about the books I'm reading because I tend to hoard it all up until the end of the year when I do my reading list, but I've just finished a book that I was really rather disappointed in. It was called Starbucks Nation, and yes, before you ask, my interest was piqued by the fact it had the word Starbucks in the title. Forget the cover, I should learn to never judge a book by its title.

In my defense, the back cover of this book was filled with advance praise from such luminaries as Penny Marshall (the director of the movies Big and A League of Their Own), an executive producer of South Park, and some guy who compared it favourably to A Confederacy of Dunces, which is my favourite book.

All of these people should be sanctioned under the mental health act.

There are very few books I read where I feel as if I don't get at least something out of it, but really, *nothing* happened in this book. It was billed as a "devastating, hilarious satire of coffee-swilling, celebrity-obsessed Southern California pop culture"; it wasn't.

What did strike me about this book is that I felt it suffered from the same problem as a novel I read last year entitled I Love You, Beth Cooper. In last year's reading list I noted:

The debut novel by former Simpsons writer Larry Doyle feels like little more than a padded-out screenplay, and is thus greatly disappointing. Maybe the forthcoming movie will be more satisfying: C+

And as chance would have it, Starbucks Nation is … the debut novel from a screenwriter! Which probably explains why it read like a script.

What we've learnt here, then, is that I should never read another book written by someone who writes for film and TV. Please do remind me of this if you ever bump into me in Borders.

Some Movies:
Unlike pretty much everyone else who's seen it, I was never really that taken with the movie Little Miss Sunshine, although I loved the soundtrack because it was full of Sufjan Stevens songs and was thus awesome. Undeterred, I nevertheless headed off to the cinema this week to see Sunshine Cleaning, the latest film from the producers of that movie. What is it with the whole sunshine thing, though?

Anyway, in its favour, Sunshine Cleaning stars Amy Adams who I've liked since I saw her in Junebug a few years ago. Not 'liked' as in 'I want to share a jacuzzi and some rohypnol-laced margaritas with her,' but rather that I enjoy watching her in films.

So it was an enjoyable little movie. Nothing groundbreaking, but a nice contrast to the typical summer blockbuster fare (i.e., Amy Adams didn't turn into a car and destroy half a city). It's one of those quirky little indie comedy movies where nothing much happens - two sisters go into business together cleaning up crime scenes and learn a little bit more about each other in the process - but it was nicely done and it passed a couple of hours quite easily. I enjoyed it more than Little Miss Sunshine, although it did feel like it had been edited a bit too heavily in places; there's a hint of a romance with a one-armed shop owner (played by Clifton Collins Jr, last seen getting totally pwned by new Kirk in Star Trek), for example, that went absolutely nowhere, which was a bit of a shame. Maybe there'll be a director's cut DVD or something?

Worth catching if you get the chance, though.

In related matters, there was an unbelievably high number of awesome trailers before Sunshine Cleaning; of the six trailers I saw, only one, a film about Coco Chanel entitled Coco Before Chanel, didn't appeal (I think this is because it should've been called I Should Coco after the Supergrass album).

The ones I do want to see are helpfully displayed below for your viewing pleasure.




The Proposal (Betty White on the big screen - yay!)

500 Days of Summer

And I also want to see Away We Go. So many awesome looking movies coming out…

Two Fashion Dilemmas:
I popped to Westfield after work one evening and almost bought - can you believe this? - a bright pink knitted jumper. In my defense it was £20 (half its original price). I was going to try it on, but when I wandered back over to where it was hanging some other bloke picked it up, put it on, then began to pick out some other clothes that he was clearly just going to put on and walk around the shop in. I hung about for a minute or so in the hope that he might, y'know, take it off or something, but he seemed to be enjoying it rather too much. And it was the only one in my size.

Anyway, I've since found it online for the same price, and I'm dithering over whether to buy it or not. I'm undecided as to whether I could, or indeed should, try to carry off such a look.

Elsewhere in fashion news, after resisting for well over six months, I've finally succumbed to the realisation that I really don't mind, and in fact actually quite like the white plimsoll style shoes that everyone's wearing this year. This revelation has incurred the wrath of Marcosy, who hates them with a passion, but then they're not his feet they'd be wrapped around, and I'm pretty sure I could take him in a fight if push came to shove.

Fortunately, I've managed to placate Marcosy somewhat by stating that should I ultimately decide to purchase some plimsolls, my preferred choice would be the Superdry version. This is slightly more acceptable, because Superdry stuff is cool. I'm hesitating slightly, though, because I'm a bit worried they might make my feet look ever so slightly clown-like, just like my Converse do.

Pink jumper and potential clown shoes - thoughts?

A Mad Car:
I popped Clubbie into the garage yesterday for a little bit of work - don't panic, nothing major; just a slightly misbehaving electric window and interior light. Still needing to get to work while Clubbie was being fettled, though, I found myself with a Mini Clubman Cooper D for the day.

I always enjoy borrowing other cars for a day whenever mine goes in the garage, and while this Mini was understandably similar both outwardly and inwardly to my pride and joy, it had very different oily bits. As the 'D' might suggest, this was a diesel Mini - like the one I test drove last year - but adding to the fun was the fact that it had an automatic gearbox.

Now, I've only ever driven an automatic car once before, and that was only a 20 minute test drive of a BMW z4 with a BMW chappy sitting alongside me; I had no intention of buying a BMW z4, but the dealer rather foolishly invited me to sample it and I wasn't about to say no.

Anyway, so the guy looking after Clubbie for the day wanted to pop his car in the space where the Cooper D was parked, so he asked me to back it out and park up on the side of the road. Not being used to an automatic, I bunny-hopped the car out of the space like a special because my left foot kept trying to get some clutch action going on the brake pedal.

And the fun didn't end there. The car was given to me with only 18 (yes: 18!) miles worth of fuel in it, so I had to go fill it up if I actually wanted to make it to work. I managed to do this, without putting petrol in it, but then went and stamped on the brake pedal while reaching for the gearstick as I pulled away. I subsequently made sure that I secured my left foot on the foot rest provided, and my left hand underneath my left thigh, and after that everything was fine and dandy. Well, I say fine and dandy; until I got used to how it worked, the automatic gearbox always made it feel like the car wanted to be moving and you had to keep restraining it like it was a mental puppy or something. It also had flippy-flappy gearshift paddles on the steering wheel which I didn't use because they scared me.

Visual evidence that I did indeed make it to work in a car equipped with an automatic gearbox.

So, in the time it took me to drive from the garage to work, and from work back to the garage to collect Clubbie, I came to two conclusions: one, the diesel-automatic combo is a surprisingly effective one in the Mini, and two, I'm glad I ended up buying a petrol Clubman. The diesel was fine, but it was noticeably louder than Clubbie, and according to the reading on the trip computer, no more fuel efficient than mine is in West London traffic (the auto version doesn't have the stop-start technology that cuts out the engine at traffic lights).

All in all, then, I was glad to have Clubbie back - gleaming, no less, thanks to a once over with a couple of wet wipes from the BMW boys.


Ponita in Real Life said...

Do buy the pink jumper... you could definitely pull off that look! I love a man confident enough to wear pink like that. And I don't think the plimsolls would make you look like you have clown feet... unless they are size 16. ;-)

Go with what you feel comfy in, Tim. Who cares what others think???

CyberPete said...

First order of business: buy pink jumper as it WILL took great on you.

I have to watch Moon. It has a 2001 feel to it. I love it.

Did you watch the behind the scenes video with Betty White and Ryan Reynolds? Hilarious! Look it up if you haven't.

Tara said...

I'm curious about "Sunshine Cleaning", thank you for the bit of review! I've liked her in movies since "Enchanted". Her downfall, of course, is that she is not a transformer. But you take what you can get, right? Tsk.

Also, I hate it when critics I respect give something such a good review and then have it turn out to be crap. More proof that we should just watch what we want to watch and be the critic. It's just we don't get paid for it.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Here's another vote for the pink jumper. Just don't slouch in it like the model in the picture is. And if you can't carry it off, you can always take it off...

'Petra's right: Moon does have a 2001 feel. Just because of that, I will probably watch it. Def going to see The Proposal. Ryan "I love taking my clothes off" Reynolds and Sandra Bullock - A brilliant combination!

I'm not to keen on autos either. SP's car is an auto and I try not to drive it unless I absolutely have to.

Tim said...

Ponita - It's not so much what others think … it's that I wonder if at some point I'd glance down and shout out "HOLY CRAP I'M WEARING A PINK JUMPER!"

I'm going to hunt down and try on the plimsolls to confirm one way or another if they look clowny.

Cyberpete - The video where Betty calls Ryan Brian? That's hilarious!!

Tara - You should catch it if you can; it's a nice, quirky character driven story!

Inexplicable Device - Is that a slouch? I'm not sure. I think he's just fed up. Maybe he's thinking "HOLY CRAP I'M WEARING A PINK JUMPER!" but then he's probably getting paid for it, so…

And if I do buy it I will most certainly not take it off!! Outrageous!!

CyberPete said...

Yes, that's the one! It's brilliant.

I love it when she flips him the bird and says "all I said was he reminds me of my brother (or something)".

Pure genius.

Tim said...

She's a legend, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!

Emma said...

Ooh, yes. I've seen the preview to Moon before, scariest smiley face ever. That looks like a great movie.

I think you could definitely pull off pink. Deano wears it and looks most dapper ;o)

Tim said...

Tagskie – Um, thanks for that … insightful comment.

Emma - Yes, but he's DEANO!

CyberPete said...

Just imagine Tim, you could be TIM! if you wore the pink.

Having an exclamation point after your name is something everyone dreams about.

It could be YOU!

Tim said...

Maybe I should put the exclamation mark in my name?


CyberPete said...

Even better!

Although it does look a bit rude, doesn't it?

Tim said...

Does it?

CyberPete said...

I think it does.

Not in the bad way though.