The Birdcage Archives

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Is it Thursday Already?

Hello Gentle Reader

Is it already Thursday, is what I had asked myself this morning when I had awoken to the sound of my alarm clock, ringing in my ear -- alright it was not actually ringing in my ear, it was playing music, but the singer could certainly have used some vocal lessons in my opinion . . . Anyhow, so it is Thursday already you say. Of course you say that, yes of course you do. Because it is Thursday January 27 of 2011, and oh dear does it feel like January has just ran out the door, slipping on some ice, and heading for the door? Is that a good way to start the New Year? With a quick fast paced, fleeting moments and fading time? Soon we head into the frozen hearted, month of February.

Well enough of that. Why am I blabbering on and on and on? Who knows. Perhaps because I -- dare I say it; I do not have anything to write about. Yes, yes I can hear the gasps now. How dare I bother to write anything if I have nothing to write about, yes, yes, yes, I do understand what you are saying. While others are out there screaming, well haven't you finished "Palace Walk," the first book in "The Cairo Trilogy," by Naguib Mahfouz Nobel Laureate in Literature of 1988, and I must say the following . . . No, no I have not. Well haven't you read the short novella's by Samuel Beckett? The trilogy or trinity or tiphyt or trifle or whatever they can be described as "Nohow On: Company; Ill Seen, Ill Said; and Worstward Ho,"? And again I must answer that question with the following answer, No, i have not. I must confess that I am reading "The Cairo Trilogy," at a very leisurely pace -- if one could describe it like that. However lately I watched some movies. But they were actually good movies. I know, such a rare item does exist.

SO the three movies I watched were:

"The Fountain," -- which was directed by Darren Aronofsky who also directed the new movie out "Black Swan," and the past movie "Requiem for a Dream," -- which was highly disturbing, but also really great for its acting and its cinematography. "The Fountain," is a lovely movie. It truly is a lovely movie, one in which I thoroughly enjoyed. Its difficult to describe really. the movie is told in three different parts. we have the first tale "Tomas the Conquistador," (past) and then we have "Tommy the neuroscientist," (present) and then we have "Tom the space traveler," (future) each one. Each part overlaps with the other. But the movie doesn't go forward in simple narration. It goes together in a nonlinear storytelling, with great cinematography techniques. But really the story centers around the simple love story of a man and a woman. However, its the way that Darran Aronofsky had presented the entire work of the film, that made it such a delight. It goes to show, that the way you tell a story is just as important as the story itself, as well as the characters.

"Memento," was the next film that I watched directed by Christopher Nolan. This film is very interesting. Not in stylistic techniques but rather story telling. Its told in the way the main character, would experience life. through notes, pictures, and the tattoo's that are marked on his body, with important information. The entire movie overlaps itself, but always leaves just a bit of information, left unsaid to keep the viewer engaged. With the use of overlapping, and repetition the movie was able to keep me engaged, kept me enjoying the film from start to end. Even the scientific and medical community were impressed, sitting the fact that the film was the most realistic depiction of anterograde amnesia.

The last movie was "Spliced," but I don't feel like talking anymore, gentle reader. So I'll let you go until next time. If I have nothing to write about next week I'll talk about "Spliced," for you.

Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always Stay Well Read


Monday, 24 January 2011

Monday's With Mr. K (No.1)

Hello Gentle Reader

Here is the suprise and hopeful monthly to bi-weekly installment that I had promised you. Please enjoy, and thank-you for being so patient while I got it up.


Everyone knew – or rather everyone who knew Mr. K (so therefore everyone); that Mr. K, lived in a very small, narrow, apartment that was rundown. Mr. K did live alone. However, time to time a cat or two or three but no more than that; would pop up and come and visit Mr. K. Though Mr. K was not someone one could call, a cat lover, he did however pity the poor creatures.

“Cats do not like people – therefore people do not like cats. They do however rely on cats to get rid of the rats. The sworn enemy of the cat! Therefore there is a treaty and neutral understanding between cats and people. I am a person therefore I too have a little bit of respect for cats. I have no rats, in my apartment though. But my apartment is warm, and unlike rats, cats are unafraid of heights. However cats – also unlike rats; are afraid of the lower regions of the world, and therefore, since my apartment is up high – therefore the lack of rats; but also the inviting warmth of the fireplace and stove, cats are found here.”

However the one cat or two cats or three cats but no more cats then that, would only stay the night before, leaping out of the window, onto a nearby branch of a tree and scurry off – or so he (Mr. K) would say.

Mr. K however was not a lonely person. He had acquaintances – he never had friends. For the reasons that:

“A friend is like family. My apartment and my bed are small enough as it is, I certainly could not have a family – and therefore I cannot afford friends.”

In fact Mr. K had many acquaintances. Everyone on the street in which Mr. K had lived – was acquainted with Mr. K. Often times Mr. K could be found mindlessly wandering around – or what would appear to be mindless wandering; but in fact could have had a purpose. It was always hard to judge with Mr. K. Though if one were to stop and talk with Mr. K he would certainly share both his wisdom and stories with all who would lend him an ear and would talk to him.

And so everyone would walk with Mr. K – or come visit him in his apartment and he would share stories and wisdom with all. No one was turned away from him. Not even one, or two or three cats – but of course no more.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Authors who repeat versus recycle

Hello Gentle Reader

It is early Sunday morning, and I can't seem to get back to sleep, so I decided I would give a blog even though its Sunday and not the usual Thursday but oh well, I had a fascinating idea, for a blog entry and therefore decided to give it a shot. Well I was lying in bed trying my best to get to sleep, I was thinking over some ideas for novels and stories. I started to see that there were common elements in some of them. I started to wonder. Do all authors write the same story with slight variations and different plot lines? I started to think of some great authors. Like Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, and John Irving and others. Each one repeats themselves in slight different ways. Each one tackles the same themes, in their work, but also their work differs greatly from another novel or a previous story. But what about small slight details, that appear to become common motifs, that they soon start to become dull or something that is to be expected. For example:

One would suspect that in a Haruki Murakami novel that a woman will go missing. Or that in a Margaret Atwood novel, the female protagonist and characters are usually more complexly drawn then that of their male counterparts. In a John Irving novel one would only be shocked not to see old women taking advantage of younger men. (Alright I admit I stole the last example from a blog I read but I'll leave a link at the end of this blog to give credit)

So as I laid in bed thinking about this, I wondered to myself, if others have noticed this common trait. Soon I found a blog that discussed the same observation but in my opinion criticized and made sarcastic remarks rather than actually try to understand why this happens to an author.

This has me thinking. I want to be a published writer/author whatever. But sometimes I start to think that I am much better at reading novels then writing stories and novels. But now is not the place for that discussion. So upon noticing a slight variation of my work is repeating itself at times, I wondered if this is a common practice that authors find certain themes, and stories so enjoyable that they keep presenting them in different situations and areas.

In some aspects it is human nature. If the process or the formula for success has worked so far, why change it? Lets face it. Where would Margret Atwood be without her strong willed female protagonists and flashback like prose revealing the nature of the characters, and what has shaped them? Where would Haruki Murakami be without talking cats, and magical abilities, and other bizzare events as being mundane, and just accepted. Where would David Mitchell be without his stylistic firework like prose, grand story-telling capabilities, and works that sometimes over-lap or come into contact with each other. Where would any of them be indeed? And where would I be without my certain traits that keep popping into my head.

Though as a reader, after reading three novels by the same author and one can pick out a farting dog, or a repair man that loses his wrench and later finds it has been used as a murder weapon, or speech that is so unique and original it’s hard to make the words out, or female characters discovering themselves and their sexuality and gender identity; don't you feel slightly . . . cheated? I mean yes i would feel slightly cheated. In some aspect or another, it would appear that one was reading the same story with a variation or so. At the same time, do these common motifs, become a certain trademark of the author that they are expected to use these traits here and there simply because if they don't they wouldn't be the same?

But my constant thinking of this, still refuses to answer my question. How does an author fight this? How does an author stay original and fresh? There does not appear to be an answer to this question. At least not a sole easy answer to this question. However i do notice something’s do appear of interest to me sometimes. In David Mitchell's novels (at least two anyway) "Ghostwritten," and "Cloud Atlas," the novel is split up into stories, that connect to each other. Sometimes they are globally connected and sometimes they are connected through time. But then David Mitchell changed his way of writing once again with the historical novel of "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," and in his autobiographical novel "Black Swan Green," David Mitchell miniaturizes his sense of time through the ages to simply thirteen months. Perhaps the re-use of motifs and symbolize, is something that we all do. Musicians do it. How many times does Britney Spears need to sing about sex and how she wants to be someone’s sex slave? How often does what his face need to sing about the countless girls that have broken his heart before he decides to sing of something else. These traits -- be it a bicycle re-used, or cannibalism, or a female character discovering themself, or a tale of a character escaping a foreign city that makes no sense to them. It all becomes a trademark or a certain theme to the author.

Perhaps the best way to combat the sense of being a broken record or repeating oneself to many times, is to simply write the story in a different manner or a different style and it soon becomes a newer fresher story and therefore not the same old same old, piece of work that is simply expected to appear on the list of work the author has done.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader. I am not sure if I will blog this Thursday depends if I have any fresh and new ideas to share with you.

Take Care for Now
And As Always
Stay Well Read


P.S. The Promise Link

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Early Dusk

Hello Gentle Reader

This evening I had taken my dog for a walk. This time of day is best described as dusk and the last part of the sunset. I really like this time of day. It’s beautiful. Its the time where the east is dark, and the west, is just a little bit brighter. The contrast is rather gorgeous and beautiful depending on the day. Throughout our small and short winter walk, of 2011, we observed many sites and scenes -- none of which are connected, and none of which are significant in any way shape or form. In the distance of the small town in which my parents are living, there is a drill site or something to do with oil, is being set up. Most likely a sour gas well. There are plenty of those around here. The birds were awfully quiet, and silent. Sad really. I kind of miss the chirping and the songs that they can give off. Without those bright few songs, and the repeating notes and flashy natural generic music that flows from their beaks, the dusks and days appear, darker and lifeless. For the trees have leaves on them. The humming of insects, and other small life forms is not in the air. The feeling of life appears to be lacking. Everything feels dormant and lifeless. As if in a long sleep.

But that is what winter is. Its a long sleep really. A time where life is rejuvenating and creatures rest and keep hidden and wait for the summer months and warmer times of the year to roll around. However their is still life, lurking here, and there. Just behind my parents house is a small shed, and underneath the shed lies "Pipkin," the bush bunny. That is right though I did name him after one of the rabbits from "Watership Down," by Richard Adams. Call me pretentious, but I thought it was a nicer and more unique name then calling the poor thing "Bush," "Bunny," "Fluffy," or something generic along those lines. So I am rather proud of the "Pipkin." Yet that is how life continues to survive in these months. The world and the air is not humming with life, but it is there nonetheless and can still be seen in the most secluded places, in the most hidden of holes, and sometimes in the tallest tree's.

Our walk also had shown me through the many years of my life I had lived in this small town, nothing has significantly happened or changed the town. In fact the use of the word "Town," appears far to large for something so mall -- its best to call it a village if anything. There has been no construction of buildings in the village, other than (maybe) a house or two -- or rather the repair of a house or two. There have been no large buildings built. In fac the curling rink is still running. But one would not guess because of the state that it is in. Its almost never in use, and appears as useless and as disgusting as everything else in the village. But that is village life for you. Its stuck in a repeated cycle of never changing except for the small decaying ways until places -- outside of homes; go in states of disrepair. Such a point was proven upon taking the dog through some back alleys to avoid the few cars driving about -- where I could see the state of disrepair of some very old looking vehicles. That is if they can still be called vehicles. They were rusted beyond belief. Hard to believe tires were once on them, as well as windows, and other odds and ends. There was nothing there anymore. Just an empty rust shell of once could be scarcely called a vehicle.

Most people when they think of small villages set in the countryside, the think of pristine beautiful little villages, of cobblestone streets, tree lined ways, small little cottages with rose gardens, and apple pie cooling on a open windowsill, and a small stream and other odds and ends. The air is clear, the people are friendly, and the wildlife and agriculture domesticated animals all live on the outskirts of the village, with watchful farmers and ranchers keeping an eye on them. This all might be true, and all in some places, but in this small village I must protest it looks more like a large scrap yard with living residents. The entire place is in a state of disrepair. The old buildings look like they would catch fire like a pile of dry sticks, and hay. Everything is just sad. Sometimes the beautiful world -- or what one thinks is a beautiful world is not really that beautiful at all.

Once the dog and I had gotten home, my mind had turned away from such thoughts such as the decaying village my parents live in, and the natural scenes in which we had observed -- such as the beautiful blue, grey, green and faint yellow sky; to the pounded in snow that walks just like a sidewalk in the usual gravel back alleys; to the wild (now golden) grasses sticking up through the snow in the farmers’ fields. My mind had turned to the thoughts of Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Honor de Balzac, Emile Zola, John Galsworthy and Naguib Mahfouz. How they wrote about life and even documented the current times of their day and age in their works. I just though such work is amazing pieces of works, in their saga's and trio's and other work documented life. In some ways I wonder what interested these authors in documenting life and what made them do it. yet at the same time I think the work of Naguib Mahfouz's "Cairo Trilogy," is beautiful -- even though I am reading it at a rather leisurely pace, but even though it depicts the mundane and unordinary life of these characters it is still a great work of fiction and maintains my interest. I can't say how it does, but for some reason, it kind of feels interesting looking into the lives of others, who face small day to day challenges in their lives, and just going on living, faced with their surroundings. Perhaps life is more interesting then I sometimes give it credit for, and perhaps that is what these authors say when they documented life itself.

Well Gentle Reader Thank-you for Reading.
Take care
And As Always Stay Well Read

As much as I can't wait to review the first book of "The Cairo Trilogy," by Naguib Mahfouz I don't want to rush through it and miss the beauty that Naguib Mahfouz writes in. Please be patient as I read the book, and so far I would most certainly offer it and recommend any one interested in world literature to read.

Take Care Gentle Reader