When Janine commanded me to read A Million Little Pieces about a recovering crack head, the remarkable story of James Frey’s battle against addiction, it was never on the short list of books that I would ever read. Never! Not even on the extended list. Firstly I mainly read history but mostly because who wants to read about the travails of a recovering addict. Being an instruction and not a request, to keep the peace in the McCleland household I reluctantly demurred to do as I was instructed. The fact that the book was classified as non-fiction and had been highly recommended by Oprah Winfrey in 2003 as the best book on the subject swayed me slightly as well as the fact that I would be reading my first book on a Kindle.
For the English purists like me, it was quite a revelation. The earthy raw language often without punctuation and with arcane repetition of words is child-like and puerile but it is precisely this debased language by James Frey which brings the story to life. The depravity and the lengths to which an addict will sink in order to obtain their next fix, is evocatively expressed in this cacophony and kaleidoscope of sounds and words all intermingled.
After a hard day at the office, I felt like a cheer-me-up uplifting story, something that would elevate me morally & emotionally. With its numerous problems – many self-inflicted – South Africa offers a smorgasbord of topics on which to vent one’s ire. Foremost amongst them are the avalanche of corruption claims and its handmaiden – incompetence.
PRASA’s – the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – “faux pas” of ordering trains which were too “tall” for the electric lines transformed into a race issue when the CEO of PRASA – one Lucky Montana – accused the Bleed Newspaper’s white reporter of being anti-black for breaking the story.
Main picture: Their first flight
This DVD provides one with the reasons why this man is held is such high regard by the British public & why he is rightly regarded as the epitome of dogged determination & a pillar of strength in Britain’s hour of need.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Unlike most politicians who, if one strips away their political deeds usually conceived in smoke filled rooms, are nothing more than empty shells. Churchill instead was the epitome of the courageous & audacious soldier whose acts of bravery drew people to themselves.
This exhibition is currently being held at the Sandton Convention Centre. It comprises life-size models of dinosaurs and a 25 minute 3D movie. Naturally the attraction for most people is not the Dino Face Painting or Dino Shop which are designed to attract the children and the parent’s wallets, but the exhibition itself.
Summation: Delightful saga of the four–legged equestrian type
Rating: 5 out of 5
The real name of the leading character of this enthralling saga will probably never be known despite appearing in an award winning movie. The reason is obvious: it is a head-strong stallion.
As a foal, a neighbourhood boy is entranced by this majestic creature. Fate intervenes. His father, an inebriated nere-do-well of a man, unbeknown to his son, is also enthralled with him. This occurs at an auction where the impecunious fellow is supposed to purchase a regular stout-hearted work horse. Instead reason vanishes as he bids way past his financial means, a veritable fortune much more than his modest income will allow for this veritable race horse, the very antithesis of what he requires.
Summation: Revisionist history of Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 out of 5
If you are one that prefers one’s historical facts and characters to be a facsimile of reality, do not switch on your DVD player. How is this for some revisionist history: Shakespeare is a an illiterate inarticulate actor who battles to thank the actors and audience at the closure of a play and a young queen Elizabeth who has a number of sizzling affairs the product of which is an illegitimate son, Edward, who is adopted by a nobleman.
Summation: Action packed movie with religious and political undertones
Rating: 3 out of 5
Being set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one would expect that there would be a clash of cultures as well as religion. Being the heart of Wahhabi territory, one can imagine that religious fanaticism would be a factor and so it proves to be.
A cabal, a terrorist cell, attacks an American compound where foreigners are forced to live in order to avoid contact with Saudis as much as possible. During the middle of a baseball game, they strike, killing 100 American citizens.
The Saudis are intent on identifying the perpetrators for the simple reason that they are fellow Saudis. As the Wahhabi’s despise the West and believe that by even being present on holy Muslim soil, is heresy, they target both the Americans & the Saudis for allowing the American in Saudi Arabia.
Summation: Lush production highlighting the intrigue, politics and religious conflict during this era
Rating: 5 out of 5
This was certainly not a carefree period for a monarch to reign in England let alone a woman. By breaking with the Catholic Church when the Pope would not grant him a divorce, King Henry VIII had formed the Church of England. This had caused a rift with the Catholic Church. Queen Mary 1, Elizabeth’s half-sister was fiercely Catholic whereas Elizabeth was just as committed religiously but as a Protestant. As such Mary despised Elizabeth and attempted to convert her to Catholicism. Mary’s advisors, chiefly the Duke of Norfolk, attempted to have Elizabeth executed for treason. Mary agreed to her being send to the Tower but relented and instead put her under house arrest. Before she can again be convinced to execute her, Queen Mary 1 dies of ovarian cancer.
Short heading: Hugely informative & very topical
Rating: 5 out of 5
Rudyard Kipling, the great British poet & novelist, introduced this extant term into mainstream consciousness. It referred to the strategic rivalry & conflict between the British & the Russian Empires for supremacy in Central Asia.
In comparing three “invasions” of Afghanistan viz the British in mid-19th century, the Russians in the 1978 & the Americans in 2001, Rory Stewart, the producer is guilty of disambiguation. Strictly speaking only the initial British forays into Afghanistan fall within the accepted definition of the Great Game.