Someone pointed out recently that I hadn’t written about the Hotel Stories for some time.
In fact, I recently rebranded The Hotel Stories – Complete Collection as Seven Hotel Stories. My goal was to remind readers how many stories now exist in a single, novel-length volume.
All the stories feature the world’s most brilliant, unpredictable and occasionally homicidal hotel manager, Ms N; her beautiful but naive ally, Tatiana; and Ms N’s unique methods of solving problems.
The first story, Britches, shows how Ms N and Tatiana first met; and how they sorted out the hotel owner from hell using a Combined Burns Night and St Patrick’s Day Ball (they exist – I have been to one); the President of China; and something Tatiana found under a handsome Scotsman’s kilt.
The second Hotel Story is The Two Rooms. It features an obnoxious guest; a hypocritical Prime Minister on a moral crusade; some Russian ice-hockey fans; an angry Japanese sushi chef; and a startling twist. Is it my favourite? Perhaps it is.
I have written several times in these chronicles of my slow-burn devotion to the works of P G Wodehouse, including my induction (How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide), drawing on the excellent advice of fellow WordPress blogger and Wodehouse specialist Plumtopia – strongly recommended for all things Jeeves and Wooster and beyond.
Hence my concern, bordering on panic, at my initial perception that “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit” was not quite such a pearl of the Wodehouse canon as, say, the wondrous Thank you, Jeeves. Bertie Wooster’s early decision to grow a moustache, to the disapproval of Jeeves, felt a little familiar as a plot device. The plot of the first half of the book meandered – well, I am reminded of Bertie’s description of Daphne Dolores Morehead on her first appearance in the novel as having “a figure as full of curves as a scenic railway”.
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”
That very reference to Ms Morehead, however, signals my sense of relief that I can in fact recommend “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”, the seventh P G Wodehouse novel to feature Jeeves and Wooster and his sixtieth book overall, wholeheartedly. From about the half-way point, the story spreads its wings. The subsequent flight is sublime. The scene following the unexpected arrival of the aforementioned Daphne at Brinkley Court is amongst the funniest (more…)
My blog The Simpsons – existential, circular fantasy 9/10 argued that that “The Simpsons” was the most sophisticated show on TV.
I still think so.
Back then I praised Series 25, Episode 20, Brick Like Me, in which I noted the parallels between the episode and the 1955 Frederik Pohl short story The Tunnel Under the World, with its exploration (as in Brick Like Me) of the horrors of unfettered capitalism.
Trash of the Titans is the 22nd episode of the 9th season of the Simpsons, from 1998. It is the 200th episode overall. Do the producers make a special effort with round-numbered episodes? Maybe they do: Brick Like Me was episode 550.
Trash of the Titans looks at what can happen when democracy goes wrong:
(i) an evil corporation, trying to fill a lull in sales of its useless toys, cards and gifts over the summer, invents “Love Day” to boost sales (a naive executive who argues they should accept the lull – “hey, we’re making enough money, right?” is ejected by goons). Shortly after, the Simpsons are celebrating “Love Day”, despite Lisa pointing out that “the stores just invented this holiday to make money”. The family exchange gifts, which they unwrap and discard, generating huge amounts of garbage;
(ii) following an argument with the bin men, Homer runs for Springfield sanitary commissioner against the worthy and efficient incumbent. Homer’s slogan, designed to “appeal to all the lazy slobs out there” is “Can’t someone else do it?” He ridicules his opponent with personal attacks (“you told people I lured children into my gingerbread house”, complains the incumbent later. “That was just a lie”, says Homer). When the incumbent tells the electorate they have a choice between “an experienced public servant” or “a bunch of crazy promises” from “a sleazy lunatic”, the electorate vote in Homer in a landslide. His chaotic efforts leads to an environmental catastrophe and Homer is thrown out of office.
Some of this, at least, seems topical.
The episode contains some fine gags (Homer: “It’s just like David and Goliath, only this time, David won!”)
Trash of the Titans does not have the depth of some of my favourites, such as Brick Like Me or Homer the Heretic (also referenced in my earlier blog, and which disproves my round-number theory being episode 62 overall). But it is classic Simpsons in examining profound issues in an entertaining, near-subliminal way.
Obviously, though, it has not stopped anyone voting for people making crazy promises – or, for that matter, buying useless gifts with excess packaging.
For: consistently funny episode whose hard-hitting messages remain topical.
Against: not as thought-provoking as the best episodes. So only 8/10.
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Franz Schubert steps to one side.
The lights go down.
Robert Pimm looks up at the packed crowd.
‘My name is Robert Pimm,’ he says. ‘First time I’ve said that.’
For those of you who were kind enough to attend my reading from my new Berlin thriller Blood Summit at the Cafe Korb in Vienna on 16 March, introduced by remarkable artistic director Franz Schubert (“this name is not a joke”), thank you.
The cool video of my reading from Blood Summit above was produced by the excellent Sibylle Trost in Berlin – thanks, Sibylle!
I was delighted to receive a good deal of positive feedback on 16 March, as well as news the next day that brilliant English language bookshop Shakespeare & Company at Sterngasse 2 in central Vienna had run out of copies of Blood Summit.
They have since renewed their supplies.
Blood Summit on the shelves at Shakespeare & Company in Vienna
For those of you who were not at the reading on 16 March, or who would like another splash of Blood Summit, I have good news. I will be doing another reading at 1930 on 15 June, at Shakespeare & Company. I am most grateful to them for providing a venue.
Put it in your diary now. Let me know if you have any questions about how to attend. If you don’t live in Vienna, maybe this is the excuse you have been waiting for to book that lovely weekend in the beautiful Viennese capital, with entertainment on Friday night already fixed up.
If you would like to buy or read Blood Summit, click here.
P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, feel free to friend me on Facebook or sign up for e-mail updates (top right – see the “click here” blue button). Check out the range of writing on this site via the sitemap and guide.
The pattern is unmistakeable.
A graph shows a financial trend-line (the price of gold) going up and down a couple of times, then declining more steeply.
Around the trend-line, someone has sketched a crude profile of a camel, its head lowered as if to vomit.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Vomiting Camel, a spoof species of technical analysis created by FT writer @katie_martin_fx to poke fun at how so-called technical analysts attempt to predict future price movements of eg stocks or oil or gold by drawing lines on graphs to identify trends.
You can read her brilliant article (more…)
No seats. Outrageous spectacles. An enigmatic, four hundred-year-old name. What is it that makes “Zum Schwarzen Kameel” stand out?
Some of the decorative detail in the Kameel is breath-taking – RP
Nestled in the heart of the First District close to a plethora of so-called designer shops (Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel et al), the Kameel is frequently packed with both tourists and well-heeled locals enjoying an eclectic blend of alcohol, open sandwiches, cakes and hot beverages. My first impression was: “all a bit much” (or, as the Germans might say, schickimicki). My second, and conclusive, impression was: “des hot wos” (more…)
I am quite intrigued by this movie, which I have not yet had a chance to see. Greatly hope it is as good as the rather reliable reviewers at Inconsistent Pacing make out.
Do you remember the first time you watched Jaws, and you were really hyped up, but it was kind of disappointing? And you complained about the corny acting and the special effects and someone said, hey, you’ve missed the point?
And then you watched it again, and this time you got it, because you knew the secret: Jaws is not a film about sharks. Jaws is a film about fear.
That magical moment has never happened for me. I think Jaws is a terrible, boring film, and I always will. But I mention it now because The Death of Stalin is not about Stalin. Or sharks.
It’s about fear.
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