Agoraphobic Caveman

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Agoraphobic Caveman.

If you are Scott’s friend, you’ll either ignore him or tell him a lie in his comments (see the post at the link above for enlightenment). I think Scott Adams puts very well the dilemma of many a modern person — not just the football fan who can’t stay up late enough to watch the ludicrously protracted Match of the Day Featuring Every Premiership Match in the League to Maximise Sponsorship Revenue, and so has to go around with noise-reduction headphones on until there is a window to watch the replay, but also the average multitasker, who does not, of course, have time to actually watch TV at all. There are those of us walking around who are several series behind in 24, and a series behind in other cases (eg Desperate Housewives – Desperately Absent Viewer, I call it).

I am so bad on the time management front that I’ve even had to outsource the recording process to my daughters. By the time I get around to watching all our taped programmes, the technology will be obsolete. Looking on the bright side, I’ll be so old that my memory will have completely vanished, so I won’t know if I ever did accidentally find out that crucial plot twist before I saw the episode in question.

Jane Eyre “cultural event of 2006”

As several of my regular correspondents and readers know, I have recently watched and enjoyed the latest version of Jane Eyre, courtesy of a repeat on BBC 4 TV recently and a kind co-resident taping it for us to watch at leisure (a.k.a. consumer control).

When the series (in 4 parts) was first shown on BBC earlier in the year, it received pretty negative reviews. As I’d fairly recently seen the previous BBC version (Timothy Dalton as Mr Rochester), I thought I wouldn’t bother with the logistics of taping and finding time to view the new one.

At Christmas, however, Richard Morrison of the Times asked readers for their favourite show of 2006. More than half of the respondents nominated Jane Eyre, as Richard M revealed here.  The repeat showing of all 4 episodes in one evening overcame recorder’s resistance, and based on the usually reliable RM’s recommendation, we went ahead. The production was adapted by Sandy Walsh; Ruth Wilson (who I am told was not very well known previously) played Jane and Toby Stephens took on the more difficult role of Mr Rochester. I was quite won over by his portrayal. I had never much liked Mr Rochester in my previous readings of the book, but now I’m older I found that although I didn’t like him still up until "the" wedding scene, I became increasingly sympathetic to his dilemma and actions subsequently. Toby Stephens gave a sincere and committed performance as well as being suitably irascible and, yes, passionate.

The production has been showing on TV in the United States and is also now available on DVD. Highly recommended.

Some previous productions:
Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke.

Sorcha Cusak and Michael Jayston.

Charlotte Gainsburg and William Hunt.

Susannah York and George C. Scott.

Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hands.

Colin Clive and Virginia Bruce.

Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles (VHS).

Middle East divide

Richard North Patterson’s latest, Exile, has divided the critics — well, two of them, anyway. Peter Millar in the Times thinks the book is great, Sarah Weinman in the Washington Post emphatically doesn’t.

RNP writes legal thrillers;  being keen on the genre, I’ve read them all and usually enjoy them. The characterisation and the plots are both well above John Grisham level (Grisham is stronger on atmosphere and "place").  RNP’s earlier books featured members of a legal family, their complex personal relationships and their social circle; the reader was guaranteed various crime-related cliffhangers with each volume. Some time ago, though, the author switched into "issues"; his more recent books have featured an American presidential candidate and later president, selection for the supreme court, the abortion issue and capital punishment. Some of the earlier characters figure fleetingly, but increasingly the books have focused more on the political, moral and legal issues than on plot and characterisation. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed the intricate accounts of the Amercian political-legal-media process provided by the books, and always look forward to the next.

This time round, RNP takes on the Middle East:  the plot concerns a Jewish-American lawyer with political ambitions who becomes involved in defending a Palestinian, possibly radical Islamist,  ex-girlfriend accused of aiding an attempt to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister. I imagine the book features long passages weighing up all aspects of the Middle East conflict from the US perspective, and I can well imagine that this would grate with readers wanting  less preach and more pace.

See Petrona’s Selection Box here and here for some more information about this book.