venerdì 29 aprile 2011

Sciapò!


(degna figlia della mamma - l'uovo di pasqua stilizzato è il mio preferito in assoluto - al mio matrimonio tutte così)

Royal Wedding

Mentalmente sono alla Westminster Abbey con un cappellino color cipria in testa, che mi guardo intorno meravigliata.


Fisicamente sono seduta ad una scrivania e guardo il sito della BBC - sono l'unica in tutta la provincia a cui a cui funziona perché mi sono collegata alle 9 (ora locale); faccio una telecronaca minuto per minuto a tutti gli interni (16).

mercoledì 27 aprile 2011

The road (La strada) - Cormac McCarthy

More about The Road


Questo libro è la risposta della socia alla mia richiesta: A.A.A. libro perfetto cercasi.
Ovviamente non intendevo un libro che mi facesse piangere ogni 10 pagine, ma come si dice, a caval donato...

Siamo in un mondo che non esiste più. Un padre ed un figlio - entrambi senza nome - camminano per strade deserte, coperte di una sottilissima polvere, avvolti da un freddo perenne.
Fame, sete, pericolo.
Morte. Ogni giorno la guardano in faccia. Ogni giorno vanno avanti, senza sapere perchè.
Vorrebbero morire, come sono morti tutti, ma lottano con le unghie e con i denti per continuare a vivere.
Intenso e per certi versi spirituale.
Ma di una tristezza che, in alcuni tratti, diventa pura angoscia.

4 palle su anobii, ma non so se lo consiglierei.
Fate voi.

p.s. sempre la socia mi dice che il film tratto dal libro, è un buon compromesso. Farò passare un po' di tempo prima di vederlo, poi chissà.

I will do what I promised, he whispered. No metter what. I will not send you into the darkness alone.

lunedì 25 aprile 2011

Playlist cercasi

Consigliatemi almeno 5 canzoni da inserire nella playlist per il mio running settimanale: roba ritmata ma allegra.
Tipo: Eye of tiger, Rainin' man, Don't stop the music.... ecc... ecc...

mercoledì 20 aprile 2011

Games of thrones/1

Dunque: (a parte la consapevolezza che l'arterosclerosi avanza perchè non mi ricordavo che Ned Stark evesse 5 figli più uno - ma mi limitavo a 4 + 1) direi che per il momeno non ho niente da dire (e allora perchè scrivo?! bho, così) tranne che:
quello lì non è il mio Jon Snow.

Winter is coming.

martedì 19 aprile 2011

Water for elephants (Acqua agli elefanti) - Sara Gruen

More about Water for Elephants

Mi hanno detto di leggerlo prima che esca il film, e così ho fatto.
Il libro è carino, sono stata anche qui incerta sulle 3 o 4 palle, alla fine hanno prevalso quest'ultime, ma per un motivo ben preciso.
Perchè io sono buona. Perchè il Jacob in carrozzella, che si scorda di dove è o di cosa sta parlando, mi ricorda tanto mio nonno. E solo adesso riesco ad intuire la sofferenza che ci deve essere dietro ad un corpo che non funziona più e ad un cervello che a tratti se ne va per conto suo e che poi - e questo è il dramma - ritorna.
E' la storia di un ragazzo di buona famiglia, nell'america degli anni '30, che si ritrova a lavorare in un circo e a viaggiare con loro; incotra persone, e animali, che gli cambieranno la vita e la visione del mondo.
Da leggere, prima che esca il film.

With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that
you kept it does not.

giovedì 14 aprile 2011

Memoirs of a geisha - Arthur Golden

More about Memoirs of a Geisha

C'ho riflettuto un po', ma alla fine si merita 5 palle.
Era stato un 4 palle sicure fino al finale; quello mi ha distrutto. 
Confesso di essere stata prevenuta su questo libro - il successo del film e una certa aurea filosifico-orientale che lo circondano, mi facevano storcere il naso, ma alla fine ho ceduto alla strepitosa copertina.
E ho fatto bene. Di filisofia non c'è niente; c'è solo la storia drammatica di una ragazzina che diventa una splendida geisha - la cui figura è difficilissima da spiegare e, per noi occidentali, da capire.
Però è raccontata con una delicatezza ed una raffinatezza tali che incanta davvero.
Un bellissimo libro ed una bellissima storia.
Da leggere.

"How strange," he went on quietely, almost to himself, "that the same woman who looked me so frankly in the eye as a girl, many years ago, can't bring herself to do it now."

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination - J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling's speech @ Harvard (thanks to Darthtess)

"President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.
The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self improvement.
Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that have expired between that day and this.
I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.
So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.
I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.
So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.
Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.
And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.
Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.
Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.


I wish you all very good lives. Thank you very much."

domenica 10 aprile 2011

This is the end, my friend (54/54)

My favourite (54/54)




Cantano in coro.






























That's me in the spot.

E' stata dura ma ce l'ho fatta.  
E' iniziato tutto in una domenica, un anno e due settimane fa.
Prima di Pasqua mi era venuta la malsana idea - e a dispetto di tutto e tutti (soprattutto di me stessa), con fatica, l'ho portato a casa questo primo tentativo.
Magari fra qualche giorno andrò avanti - e continuerò fino alla fine (come questo pazzo che iniziò a scattare una foto al giorno e continuò fino alla morte - durò un po' meno di vent'anni. E non c'erano le macchine digitali. You rock brotha!).
Ma per adesso mi godo il momento - per tutti gli sciagurati che se lo fossero perso man mano che nasceva e cresceva, il Project 54 lo trovate qui.

lunedì 4 aprile 2011

The end's approaching (53/54)

Ci siamo quasi (-1)


Holdin' youuuuuu (53/54)



E la finalista.

His last duchess - Gabrielle Kimm

More about His Last Duchess

L'ho comprato perchè mi intrigava la trama: è la storia, romanzata, della vita di Lucrezia de' Medici, data in sposa, quattordicenne, ad Alfonso II Duca di Ferrara.
Per una volta, mi sono detta, leggiamo un romanzo che ambientato qui vicino, in luoghi che conosco e che ho visitato da poco.
Non avevo fatto i conti, però, con il fastidio che si prova quando si legge degli sfondoni così palesi.
A causa della mia immensa ignoranza, non so se i romanzi ambientati in altri paesi o in posti che non conosco siano pieni di errori così pacchiani, ma questo lo è.
Si passa dalle cose più banali (tipo i nomi dei personaggi: nel '500 chi si chiamava Giacomo si chiamava Giacomo, non Jacomo; il soprannome di una nobildonna battezzata Lucrezia, nell'Italia di quegli anni non era Crezzy) ad errori grossolani che avrebbero potuto evitarsi guardando su internet (tipo: il Castello Estense non si trova su un'isoletta in mezzo al Po: è circondato da un fossato, ma niente di più).
Ecco, tutti queste imprecisioni hanno tolto molto al romanzo che, di per sè, non è scritto male.
Il finale è inventato (ha usato un artificio della trama per rigirare tutto come voleva la scrittrice), ma trattandosi di un romanzo e non di una biografia, mi può anche andar bene: quello che non mi va bene è la banalità. La pozione morte apparente l'aveva già usata Shakespeare, e dello scambio morto con vivo avevamo già letto ne Il Conte di Montecristo.
Quindi, per cortesia, un po' di originalità, grazie - a copiare le idee degli altri siamo capaci tutti.

venerdì 1 aprile 2011

Lover Unleashed - J.R. Ward

More about Lover Unleashed Dunque.
Mi è abbastanza piaciuto, ance se non mi ha coinvolto come gli altri.
Di certo non come l'ultimo.
La storia è carina, anche se le trame collaterali sono forse più interessanti della principale.
Payne e Mannie sono due personaggi niente-di-che, e forse tutte le storie che girano intorno distolgono da loro l'attenzione, sembrano già rivisti.
Mi piace la svolta casta di Qhuinn - mentre non mi piace Saxton (troppo perfetto, nell'accettare e capire - praticamente un santo).
E non mi è piaciuto il fatto che abbia inserito tutti i personaggi tranne John e Xhex - e chi sono poverini, i figli della lavandaia?
Dopo tutto quello che c'hai fatto patire durante Lover Mine, il minimo che tu possa fare, cara L.R., è farceli vedere felici e contenti.
Quello che non ho capito e che mi è piaciuto di meno è l'inserimento di tanti nuovi personaggi tutti insieme di cui non si capisce - nè si intuisce - lo scopo.
Se non quello di far proseguire la serie quando i Brothers saranno tutti accoppiati.
Tre palle su anobii. Si legge bene, è molto piacevole, ma aspetto il prossimo.

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