The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling: A Review

J. K. Rowling is renowned for her minutiae in creating a fully functioning microcosm: in her novels, each character has a unique personality, distinctive habits and a revelatory past, clinging to his/her every word and action. Places and villages have their own identity and play key roles throughout her stories. It is common knowledge that she has written entire biographies of every single character from her Harry Potter saga, no matter how insignificant to the main story. This, I believe, is the instigator of the distinct touch of realism found in her novels, to which we can all relate, even in the more fantastical settings she has penned.

The Casual Vacancy is one of the most realistic novels I have ever read, non-fiction included. No, it is not Harry Potter. It is not full of magical incantations and fantastical beasts. It is not a suspense/crime novel either. Continue reading “The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling: A Review”

The Deception of My Life

People often talk about their deceptions in life: their parents, their partner, their children, their friends, their careers… or lack thereof. Life is indeed sweet and sour, but we should always seek to make lemonade!

My biggest deception in life is not in any way the people around me – thankfully -, nor my career (lilliputian in size).

It’s my earphones. Continue reading “The Deception of My Life”

French Movies & I

I tweeted just yesterday about my addiction for French movies. And it’s true, I am addicted. I blame Amélie, fully and completely. I think I may have watched every single movie Audrey Tautou has ever starred in (except The DaVinci Code series, because I boycott anything even remotely related to Dan Brown). Marion Cotillard as well. I watched every French movie Kristin Scott Thomas is in. Currently downloading Gerard Depardieu’s movies, and the list goes on… Continue reading “French Movies & I”

What You’re Missing Out On Every Friday Night!

Oh yes, you are missing out big time!

Almost every Friday, at 8:30 PM, a one-of-a-kind concert takes place in St Joseph Church in Monot. The prestigious Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, lead by the most prominent conductors of the world, offers each week a program comprising 3 to 4 classical pieces: from the masters, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Tchaikovsky, to contemporary Lebanese musicians and composers such as Zad Moultaka, Charbel Rouhana and Omar Rahbani.

I reckon not everybody is familiar with the world of classical music, but let me assure you, you will never regret attending a concert of such scale. Allow me tell you about the concert I just got back from. Continue reading “What You’re Missing Out On Every Friday Night!”

Life of Pi: An Analysis

My story with ‘Life of Pi’ starts with the book, written by Canadian author Yann Martel. I had only heard of it when I bought it, about three years ago… and it was left unopened, until last November, when I heard the movie was coming out.

I set my mind to reading it before watching the movie in order to be able to compare both versions, something I often like to do.

The story: Political upheavals in India drive Pi’s family to sell their zoo and embark on a cargo ship along with the animals in search of a better life in Canada. Midway through the Pacific Ocean, the ship sinks, and Pi finds himself stranded on a lifeboat. Only he is not alone. A zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger will keep him company on an epic journey which will last for 227 days. Continue reading “Life of Pi: An Analysis”

The Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition @ Platea

Leonardo Da Vinci is most renowned for his exceptional talent as the painter of the Mona Lisa. Not everyone knows him as the genius who invented flying machines and war tools! Indeed, Da Vinci’s notes and diaries, called Codices, feature countless numbers of plans and drawings bringing to life his ingenuous inventions. Unfortunately, the original prototypes were all lost with time.

The idea for a traveling exhibition of Leonardo’s machines was first conceived in Melbourne, Australia, then developed in collaboration with the museum dedicated to him in Florence, Italy. Italian craftsmen rebuilt more than 60 machines, based on Da Vinci’s drawings, and using the same material available at the time. They cover a wide range of scientific fields: mechanics, hydraulics, aviation, etc.

Continue reading “The Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition @ Platea”

The Music Edition #01

It has been quite a while since I last updated my blog. I believe I have gotten well-acquainted with an abomination called writer’s block!

Anyway, I’m back, and I’m bringing with me a small taste of the music I listen to. I like to steer clear of the Top 40 as much as I can. Rock, classical, trip-hop, experimental music and their sub-genres are usually my favorites. Enough small talk for now; let’s get down to business!

8. The Cinematic Orchestra – “To Build a Home” (2007)

The newest add to my music library, The Cinematic Orchestra is a British jazz and electronic band. Their style is reminiscent of Sigur Rós (see #3), though less peculiar and with English lyrics. “To Build a Home” was featured in the contemporary duet in the movie ‘Step Up Revolution’ (this is how I discovered the band). It is one of the singles from their impressive 2007 album called “Ma Fleur“.

Continue reading “The Music Edition #01”

Who Is Darren Aronofsky?

It all starts with a movie called “Requiem for a Dream”. A favorite actor of mine, Jared Leto (also the lead singer/guitarist of 30 Seconds To Mars) stars in it, so naturally, I decided one afternoon to watch it with some friends. And boy, what a movie!

The central theme is addiction: to drugs, to ideals, to dreams, any and every addiction you can think of. It revolves around a guy, his mother and two of his friends, who already are in too deep, and the inevitable downward spiral they all go through, until all hope is lost.

While I don’t know much about filming techniques, I can recognize something special and unique when I see it. And I saw that in “Requiem for a Dream”. Curious, I pay Wikipedia a visit, discover that the director is Darren Aronofsky, and read the following:

Aronofsky uses montages of extremely short shots throughout the film. While an average 100-minute film has 600 to 700 cuts, Requiem features more than 2,000. Split-screen is used extensively, along with extremely tight closeups.

In order to portray the shift from the objective, community-based narrative to the subjective, isolated state of the characters’ perspectives, Aronofsky alternates between extreme closeups and extreme distance from the action and intercuts reality with a character’s fantasy. Aronofsky aims to subjectivise emotion, and the effect of his stylistic choices is personalisation rather than alienation.

Continue reading “Who Is Darren Aronofsky?”

An Open Letter To The Lebanese Government

To the majority* of the Lebanese politicians currently** in office, to the Lebanese people, and to all whom the following may concern.

Nicolas Sehnaoui, current Lebanese Minister of Telecommunication, posted on Twitter the following question:

I wanted to reply to his question with something cynical and snarky, but then I thought twice about it… And as a result, here is my answer:

I never would become a Lebanese minister, let alone have anything to do with Lebanese politics.

Why? Simple. Because the first requirements to being elected are corruption and dishonesty.

Continue reading “An Open Letter To The Lebanese Government”

An Unusual Source Of Inspiration

Ever thought about the criteria you base yourself on when you label a person as your inspiration? In other words, what is the thing that makes you admire a person?

Usually, I would reply the level of education, achievements, inventions, talent, skills in a particular field, etc.

Usually, if you ask me to name people who inspire me, I would reply: Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Jared Leto, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, J. K. Rowling, Mahatma Gandhi, Beethoven, Stieg Larrson, Richard Feynman, Pope John Paul II, Jane Austen, and the list goes on and on…

These people are relatively well-known; indeed, they have their own Wikipedia pages, they have fans, they are famous, even if posthumously…

But then, you meet people, nobodies, poor people, old people, and you’re stricken. You know nothing about them, yet you admire them. What is their secret?

Continue reading “An Unusual Source Of Inspiration”