Archives for posts with tag: humour

Carina Nebula

The wonderful image above was the Astronomy Picture of the Day on Google today. It’s a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Carina Nebula, an emission nebula 7,500 light-years away.

After downloading the full image, I spent a few moments peering over the details when I found this:

Backatcha Hubble

Ah yes. Says it all really.

Hands up who isn’t familiar with these problems! Real nuggets of wisdom here…

Life After Death by PowerPoint

Nick Hornby is one of a small number of novelists whose books I thoroughly enjoy reading. He posesses a unique ability to extract humanity and humour out of some of the most difficult situations and to create recognisable, real life characters that the reader warms to, irrespective of what they have done.

A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby

This book, a sort of Breakfast Club for the suicidally depressed, is no exception. I was sucked into the storyline pretty much from the start, despite its weighty subject. Four people with nothing in common, apart from a desire to end their lives, find themselves on the top floor of a well-known jumping off point in South London. Instead of queuing up on the ledge in single file they descend via the stairwell and embark on a series of madcap escapades involving tabloid headlines, an angel visitation conspiracy, a holiday in Tenerife and a riotous meeting in Starbucks.

Each section in the book is written from the viewpoint of one of the main characters. You step inside their heads, as it were. The “star” of the book is Martin Sharp, a former chat-show host very much down on his luck, particularly after having slept with a fifteen-year old girl and ending up in prison as a result. He finds his match in Jess, an eighteen year old foul-mouthed rebel who has alienated herself from everyone around her as she speaks without bothering to inform her brain first. Then there’s Maureen, a middle-aged carer who has lost 20 years of her life nursing her seriously disabled son. Finally there’s JJ, a washed-up American musician, who resorts to lying when asked to explain why he wanted to jump because his reason seems so banal compared to everyone else’s. I got the impression that the author had the greatest degree of sympathy for this character.

The continuous jump into each other’s thoughts is utterly convincing and often quite funny. In Maureen’s sections, all the swear-words are blanked out: for a short while I thought this was an American thing, owing to the fact that I bought the book in Chicago… Swearing by others in the group is often followed by “sorry, Maureen”. The degree of personal insult each person in the group has to endure is cringingly hilarious at times. In the end however, a bond of sorts forms amongst them, and each of them finds out a bit more about themselves.

So, yes, I would recommend this book. It’s full of warm, funny moments with a set of wonderfully complicated characters. It’s not so much a book about suicide as it is about keeping going.

And if this book is ever to be made into a movie, I’d love to see Colin Firth playing the role of Martin Sharp..

I’ve been reading my daughter the tale of Rumplestiltskin over the last day or so. Man, it’s wild! For anyone not familiar with the story, here it is in a nutshell.

A miller foolishly tells a king that his daughter can turn straw into gold.

The king gets interested, siezes the girl, locks her in a room full of straw and tells her upon pain of death, that all the straw needs to be turned into gold before dawn the next day.

An elf appears and for a small fee, offers to do the job. Offer is accepted and hey presto – the straw is converted into gold by the elf.

The king is impressed, but rather than let the poor girl go, he brings her to an even bigger room full of straw, and the nightmare for the girl continues for another few days, with the rooms getting bigger and bigger each time. Every time, the elf saves the day, but the poor girl is eventually obliged to promise her first-born child to him in return for a room full of gold.

Get, this: the girl then marries the king. It’s her reward no less.

She has a baby, the elf comes back looking for the kid, she refuses. The elf then proposes that if she can discover his name in 3 days, she can keep the kid. At the last minute she finds out that his name is Rumplestiltskin (a messenger hears him sing his name as he dances around his house), and when she tells him his name, the angry elf puts his foot through the floor before he leaves and is never seen again.

Now who exactly is the bad guy here? That king is a complete psychopath! I mean, imagine marrying someone who has just threatened to kill you if you can’t do something that should be impossible to do! And, like, what the hell is Rumplestiltskin doing, loudly singing his name outside when so much is at stake? Idiot.

So what was the moral of this tale? “The bigger the bastard you are, the greater the rewards”? “All men are bastards”? “Keep your father away from the drink, because he might say something really stupid”? Possibly all these are lessons to be gained from the story, but should we really be telling our kids this? 🙂

Still though, it makes a welcome change from “Prince Charming”…

This photo says it all, really.

Teamwork Ireland 2006

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