Saturday, December 06, 2003

Christmas treats

About a year ago, a female friend of mine mentioned in some context that she had never eaten oysters. I promised her that I would buy her some oysters some time. In Australia, you can buy a dozen fresh oysters inexpensively from any supermarket, but in Britain it is somewhat harder. There are one or two posh oyster bars in various places, and there are no doubt fancy fish shops that sell them, but they are not a common foodstuff. Having mentioned this a couple of times in the last year, I finally decided that I would take her to the Oyster and Champagne bar in Selfridges (the old posh Victorian London department store which is not Harrods) as a Christmas treat. So, we went there at lunchtime yesterday.

I was thinking that we would get a dozen oysters to share and a glass of champagne each, but despite my friend's curiousity she thought that oysters looked kind of gooey, and that we should have just a few and something else as well. (If she had eaten one oyster and not liked it, I would have eaten the other eleven with no difficulty, but that perhaps wouldn't have ended up being consistent with the fact that I was treating her). So we ended up having a seafood platter for two, with some lobster, smoked Scottish wild salmon, crab, prawns etc. It is kind of weird to be eating this sort of thing in London, because here it is kind of exotic. (In Sydney I recall on one or two occasions getting a taxi with several colleagues from the office to the Sydney fish market, eating prawns and oysters and tuna and you know what for a Friday afternoon lunch, and then getting a taxi back to the office and (at least theoretically) getting some more work done. And it didn't even cost much).

And of course we had a slightly stroppy Frenchman serving us. This was a necessary part of the experience, somehow.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


I have a report on the first day of Australia v India over at ubersportingpundit.

Update: Also a report on England v Sri Lanka day 3.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


I have a politically incorrect Tokyo travelogue over at Samizdata.

Update: I also have a cricket roundup, including a brief preview of Australia v India, over at ubersportingpundit.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


I have a world cricket report and a piece on tonight's riot game between Portsmouth and Southampton over at ubersportingpundit.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Fragmented thoughts on Mark Steyn's review of Mystic River

Note: Spoilers to follow.

I've just been reading Mark Steyn's review (scroll down) of Clint Eastwood's Mystic River. I agree with him that it is a good movie, and I agree that Kevin Bacon's performance is the better of the three leads, and that Tim Robins' performance is a little too one note to be really good (although I think Sean Penn is actually great - I like this performance a little more than Steyn does). Laura Linney is superb, putting in a small performance of great subtlety that you don't really understand until the end. Steyn makes one other comment at the end.

The other interesting aspect, particularly after last week’s Kill Bill, is how timeless it is: despite all the detail in each shot – the coldness of a waterfront bar, the odd vulnerability of a corner store on an empty street – there’s no attempt to pin it down in time apart from some opening sports banter about the ’75 Red Sox season. Eastwood doesn’t use pop music to place his characters, preferring to compose his own somewhat lugubrious score. The result is something primal, elemental, tribal, as if the sleek modernity across the river is utterly irrelevant. If a Greek tragedy could be transposed to Boston, it would look a lot like this. I’m not saying Clint Eastwood’s Sophocles, but he does a passable impression.

Yes, but there is one curious detail. (Spoilers really coming now). The plot hangs on one enormous (and improbable) coincidence, which is that two characters die violently not only on the same day but at more or less the same time, and Tim Robbins' character appears to be guilty of a crime that he didn't actually commit. This all hangs on some blood being found in his car, and identified as being of the same blood group as Sean Penn's characters murdered daughter. Today, of course, this wouldn't be an issue. DNA testing would immediately identify the blood as coming from a different person, and the rest of the plot wouldn't work. So I suppose we have to say the film is set in the past somewhere, although when is not precisely specified, and the film's timeless "it might be the present or a few years ago" quality seems somewhat weakened. To me it felt like a screenplay that had sat on the shelf a few years between being written and being shot. (There are lots of screenplays like that). Although, given that it is an adaptation, I suppose it depends on what the original novel did. The time between the novel being written and the film shot is longer I guess, so one possibility is that the novel had a timeless quality in it but by the time the film was shot, the choice was either making it a period piece, blurring the dates still more, or changing the plot.

I suppose I should check.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Social events

There is something slightly worrying about leaving a party at 7am, and still not quite qualifying as a member of the "final hard core". Perry's chilli was as always excellent. I have quite a few photos, some of which I will post later if my ongoing technical issues allow it.

Update: Perry has now published his photos of the event over at Samizdata. If you scroll down, I have added several of my photos in the comments section.

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