Tag Archives: Travel

Boston

I’ve read a lot of books, it’s basically what I do, but I recently came across a phenomena that I’ve never really experienced before; descriptive writing that encapsulated me, and really made me want to visit the location in question.

 

Let me contextualise this a little; lately I decided to start reading some Dennis Lehane. For those of you who aren’t too sure of who he is, go and watch Mystic River, or Shutter Island, or Gone, Baby, Gone, or even the episodes of The Wire that he penned. Then come back to me.

 

I’ve read some of his stuff before, but only the main ones, the books of the afore-mentioned movies, and now I decided to start from the beginning. If anyone isn’t familiar with his writing style, it’s basically modern noir, based in Boston, with a heavy concentration on character development and plot substance. You’ll find very few throwaway characters or filler chapters here!

 

It’s the setting that I want to concentrate on here though. Lehane is a Bostonian, and this is clear to see once you pick up one of his novels, especially any of the Kenzie-Gennaro series, where the Massachusetts capital is described in such intricacies that I can’t help but feel driven towards it.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read books that have described their settings minutely before; Shakespeare and Dickens classics depict London like little other literature, and Steig Larsson must have single-handedly improved Sweden’s tourism industry ten-fold. Even authors like Zadie Smith, who sets some of her novels in and around the area I was born, and Malcolm Pryce, the author behind the seedy underbelly of a Druid-ruled sleepy town in West Wales, do not describe their setting quite like Lehane.

 

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Scandinavian Adventures

So, now the dust has settled and my head has recovered, it’s time to reflect on what’s been an eventful couple of weeks. Since last posting, two main things have happened. The first was playing what is undoubtedly the best game of the year so far, and one of the best games I’ve played ever, Heavy Rain. But that was overshadowed by my trip to Norway last week. I’ll begin with Heavy Rain.

Dans le Noir

Critics were raving about this game before it was released, but I didn’t take much notice of this. It was only when I played the demo that I understood exactly how amazing a game this was going to turn out to be. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one to think so either. It took me a week to track down a copy of it, given that everywhere had sold out of it as it was so popular, however, once I found it, it certainly was no disappointment.

Now I’m not normally one for getting emotionally attached to games, but I couldn’t help myself becoming encompassed in the storyline and genuinely feeling for the characters, so much so that I felt actual disdain for the killer by the climax of the gripping, albeit short plot. The characters are surprisingly deep for a game of this magnitude, and the innovative control system, whilst annoying at times, is ultimately enjoyable.

What surprised me about this game most of all was its ability to make the everyday mundane events enjoyable. Events like drinking, cutting pizza and putting a baby to sleep, those which in a normal game would seem nauseating, in this seemed almost interesting, and certainly a welcome break from some of the more intense action sequences.

All in all, this game is unlike any other that you will play this year. I would write more, but it wouldn’t do it justice. If you’ve got a PS3, buy it. If not, buy one. Then buy Heavy Rain.

The city among the seven mountains

Okay, so, for those reading who don’t know, I went to Norway last week (Friday-Monday) to visit some random girl I don’t even know….I joke, I joke, Michelle’s a very good friend of mine who I met at university, first day in fact, and we’ve pretty much been great friends since. It was her birthday last week, so I had been summoned to Norway, much like her to London in October for mine.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Bergen, I went over in Summer 2008 too, so I’d seen most of the city back then. This time, it was only a long weekend, and pretty much the only event on the agenda was enjoying a break from work and going out for her birthday on the Saturday night. Bergen’s a nice city, very picturesque, a harbour city with some real history, Ibsen and the like, and the city centre is a cool place to be, but we’d done all the museums and shopping last time I was there, so we didn’t bother this time.

The day I landed, Friday, we didn’t really do much until the evening. We relaxed for a bit, had a catch up, ate some food, and I had to sleep for a little as I was running on about 3 hours sleep! The evening came, and we went to eat in the restaurant that she works in with some of her friends and her parents. Lovely food, shame about the staff that they employ! No, in all seriousness, the food was quite spectacular, I had some antipasti for starter, which was nice, and then the main was duck confit, which I’d never had before, and it was probably the nicest duck dish I’ve ever had. We were all full, and didn’t fancy doing anything further that night, so we went home, preparing ourselves for the day after.

Saturday, the day of the party, was a fairly relaxed affair. We didn’t really do much during the day, mainly because the celebrations were due to start at 6pm, not giving us much time to do much given that we weren’t awake before midday, so we just chilled and got ready to go out. Having met some of her friends in some place that I have no idea of the name of, we went to the pre-party house. We had some drinks there, before heading into town, where we partied some more. Not much can be recalled of the night, it was all a bit of a blur, but all in all, a good time had by all.

The hangover that came with Sunday morning was horrendous, leading to a day spent mostly in bed, only rising to eat and watch some football. By the evening we’d shaken most of the hangover, so we decided to go to the cinema. A film had been suggested, Valhalla Rising, and all I’d had told to me was that it was about Vikings fighting, and had Mads Mikkelsen in it, who I loved in Casino Royale, making the film sound awesome.

En route to the cinema the question of whether the film was all in Danish or not was raised, which would have been fine, but there would only have been Norwegian subtitles. Luckily, though I don’t think we had any luck with this film, it wasn’t, it was in English with Norwegian subtitles, which worked for all of us. What didn’t work, unfortunately, was the car crash of a film! All the fighting we were promised was shown in the first ten minutes of the film, when Mikkelsen’s character was being held captive as a slave, only released to fight with other slaves, leading to some very brutal scenes. He then escapes, and you realise he’s mute, but he talks through his psychic bond with a small child who dubs him One-Eye.

What follows is what was obviously trying to be a study of the human psyche, with the different chapters being different parts of the mind. It actually ended up being a travesty, with the attempted tension laughable, so much so that people walked out of the cinema, and some utterly ridiculous scenes that were definitely unnecessary, and a plot that lost me a third of the way in. All in all, definitely not worth a watch, despite the average IMDb rating that it got. Do not watch this film!

That was the only downside to what was a thoroughly enjoyable long weekend in Bergen. It was a welcome break from the tiresome boredom that has become associated with Croydon, and it was good to see Michelle and the Troye family again. Thanks for having me, and I hope I wasn’t too much of a hassle!

The death of television

So over the last week two announcements were made, about two separate television shows, both of which I watch religiously. Both announcements were expected, and both came with mixed reviews. The first was that, after a couple of seasons of ‘will they/won’t they’ 24 has been cancelled, and will come to an end after its current series, perhaps with a view to another movie. The second is that the Lost finale will be called simply ‘The End’. Whilst I’ve known the Lost finale has been coming for a while, I have simply refused to accept it. Giving it a title has cemented the fact that, in 2 months time, the best television show to grace our screens in the last decade will come to an end. This has been coming, mind you, as the genius writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have always said that the show will not go on indefinitely. 24, conversely, has always been coming to an end, you just didn’t know when, and for that to have an ending as well has devastated me, given that I’ve watched 24 since the very beginning. Kiefer Sutherland won’t be anyone other than Jack Bauer, no matter how hard he tries, and I just hope they end it well, whether that be at the end of this season or with a movie, not like the fade to black at the end of The Sopranos.

That’s pretty much it from me for the time being. Coming up, I have some job hunting to do, some flat hunting to do, I also may be returning to Aberystwyth for a birthday, and I’m looking at Just Cause 2 as the next game I buy. I never played the first but watching a video review of the second and it just looks insanely fun.

Anyway.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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