Friday, March 31, 2006

Book #10 - after the quake

by Haruki Murakami
Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin

Rating: 3

Although none of the stories in After the Quake actually take place in Kobe, the earthquake is ever present in the background and affects the characters in various ways. I didn't enjoy these stories as much as I have a couple of his novels that I've read, but Murakami's simple, surreal style is always interesting even when it leaves me wondering what it's all about!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Book #9 - We Need to Talk About Kevin

I finally finished another book! What a slow month it's been! Various things have been keeping me busy but Bailey has been, and is, the main distraction. He's a real attention seeker (hard to believe the first day he came to us he was cowering under the sofa) so unless he's sleeping he thinks my sole purpose in life is to feed him and entertain him!! Amazing I get anything done! :P

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Winner of the Orange Prize 2005

Rating: 3.5

It took me a little while to get into, but once I did it was a compelling read. It’s an intelligent story, not only looking at the taboo of a mother disliking her own child, but it provides plenty to ponder about the nature vs. nurture debate, made all the more difficult by both parents of the seemingly evil Kevin, being extremely flawed. Dark, complex and thought-provoking!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Yasukuni Jinja


Lined up to pray at Yasukuni Shrine
(yup the one that has Beijing's knickers in a twist everytime the Japanese PM visits)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

afternoon nap

(click image to enlarge)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

fun with sepia


taken today at Sengaku-ji

Sengaku-ji


I have to admit that back when I first saw the symbol for a Buddhist temple, I did do a double-take.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

snack time


senbei (rice cracker) shop in Monzennaka-cho

Thursday, March 16, 2006

something silly


OK, it may be a bit of a reach,
but the smudges on Bailey's head











remind me of....

E.L. Doctorow says...

"People know that novelists are liars. And that's why we can be trusted to tell the truth."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

knackered


after playing with my favourite toy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

plum blossoms


Pure white plum blossoms
slowly begin to turn
the color of dawn
Haiku by Buson

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Make a wish


Spring is here!


Spring has arrived in Tokyo and the plum blossoms are out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Naming of Cats

T.S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Introducing...

the newest member of our family ...Bill Bailey! (Bailey for short)

Thanks to T.S. Eliot for the literary inspiration, and the British comedian for the comedic inspiration, as our new little boy is pretty darn silly at times!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Book #8 - Range of Motion

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

Rating: 2.5/5

Comments: My first Berg and while I enjoyed her simple, yet comfortable style, ultimately I was disappointed. I've read too many coma stories lately (The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen, The Coma by Alex Garland, and My Name is Sei Shonagon by Jan Blensdorf) that I probably should've paid more attention to the storyline before starting this one. How Lainey copes with her husband being in a coma, and questions the future, came across very real, but there were a couple of elements to the story that seemed, in my opinion, unnecessary and distracting. I won't say no to another book by Berg if it crosses my path, but in the meantime I have plenty of other books calling my name.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Which famous feline are you?

You're Hobbes!
You're Hobbes. First of all, the makers of this
quiz would like to congratulate you. You have
our seal of approval. You are kind,
intelligent, loving, and good-humoredly
practical. You're proud of who you are. At
the same time, you're tolerant of those who
lack your clearsightedness. You're always
playful, but never annoying. For these
traits, you are well-loved, and with good
cause.

Which famous feline are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is very cool as I LOVE Calvin & Hobbes!

Huh?


(Taken at Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku)
This one took me a minute to figure out.
There's a lot of funny English here but it keeps me amused!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Afternoon moon


Spring breeze---
when did you come out
noon moon?
Haiku by Kobayashi Issa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rainy days

Ratings explained...

I have to preface this by saying I very rarely give out 5's. A book has to be pretty stupendous on all levels to achieve that perfect score. When deciding how to rate a book I think about the writing, the story, the characters, emotional appeal, all kinds of things really.
For example, a beautifully written book that doesn't engage me won't get a high score, although the writing will probably save it from being on the bottom of the scale.
Also a fun, brain candy book that keeps me turning the pages can rank high but not a 5.
Sad is good! I'm a sucker for sad movies and sad books! But seriously, a book that can make me feel something gets extra marks, or one that makes me think.
So my way may not be mathematical but hey, ratings are all subjective anyway!

The rating guide I follow:

5 - Brilliant! One of the best books I've ever read! It spoke to me! It moved me! WOW!
4.5 - Terrific! A page turner- I couldn't put it down! Well-written, excellent for the genre.
4 - Very Good - Makes me want to read more by this author.
3.5 - Good - an enjoyable book, worth reading.
3 - OK - Enjoyed most of it but something was missing or disappointing.
2.5 - Mediocre - Neutral or mixed feelings.
2 - Disappointing - Finished but overall didn't enjoy it. Wouldn't recommend.
1 - Painful - Barely maintained my interest; a struggle to finish.
0 - Awful! One of the worst books I've ever had the misfortune to finish! Don't waste your time!
DNF (Did Not Finish)- Completely lost interest for one reason or another.