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Why sequels suck

I am watching the sequel to a movie I adored three years ago.  The sequel is so piss-poor that I feel violated and upset.  How can a major studio spend squillions of dollars producing such trash?

Weeks later, it happens again.  Another sequel, another cringe-making dose of drivel.  Strangely, the two movies have much in common, including much of what makes them so unwatchable.

The movies are: Guardians of the Galaxy II  (2017) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017).

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: decent trailer, execrable movie

The Lego Batman Movie: ditto

Why do I feel so personally aggrieved?  First, because I wrote a preview of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on this site in which I said (more…)

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Blood Summit – the blurb

More complex than Dan Brown.  More thrilling than Le Carré.  Closer to the truth than either.

Counter-terrorism expert Helen Gale has one job: to protect the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the US, Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany, Canada and Italy at the Children’s Summit in Berlin.

The Reichstag is the most fortified building on earth.  Yet terrorists take world leaders, tycoons, one hundred innocent children and Helen’s husband captive.  Then the executions start.

Helen is suspended from duty and sued for negligence.  Yet she alone sees the mastermind behind the siege.  As US special forces plan a deadly assault, Helen must enter the shattered hulk of the Reichstag to stop a bloodbath.

“The genuine article: clever and melancholy: a security-pass into a world-within-a-world” – Matthew Parris on Robert Pimm.

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OK, everyone.  Help me.  Ahead of publication of my new novel, Blood Summit this autumn I am drafting the blurb for the back page.  What do you think of the above?  Would it make you want to read the book?  Comments welcome: do use the comments box or send me an e-mail.

I’m crowdsourcing comments and you, faithful readers, are my crowd.

And thanks for all your comments on titles.  Excellent comments from different people in different senses.  For now, I’m going with Blood Summit.

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Best Vienna cafes – new reviews

I’ve added new reviews to my popular Vienna cafes: which are best? blog.  The fifteen cafes reviewed are mostly in the town centre, but include several in the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th Districts.  The latest additions are the little-known Cafe Morgenstern (charming and super grunge) and the popular Cafe Museum (much restored since the 1980s).  Take a look.

If you have a favourite cafe you’d like me to review, let me know in the comments.  I’m highly suggestible

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The shabby but charming decor of the Cafe Morgenstern, complete with star – RP

P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, please 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.

P.P.S. see my piece When dinner becomes the last supper for a tongue-in-cheek guide to “why German waiters are the best”.

The one with the links to happiness

Ha!  Is this absentmindedness?  Or dementia?  Either way it’s, er, good news.

I’ve been keeping an article from a newspaper meaning to blog about it:

A cutting from “Der Standard” of May 2017

When I sat down to write, I found my freshly-minted text curiously familiar.  I discovered that I had already written about the article in my blog Things are getting worse, right?  Wrong.  Here’s why, back in May.

My moment of forgetfulness is good news because it reminds me that I’ve written several happiness-related blogs, including:

–  How to be happy: 11 simple tools (May 2015) (more…)

How to find your way

In his story The Feeling of Powerwritten in 1958, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov imagines a future where computers are so ubiquitous that people have forgotten how to count.  When a man works out how to perform simple sums using a pencil and paper, he has a sensation of power.

I often recall Asimov’s tale as I do my accounts; and sometimes do sums manually instead of using a calculator in the hope of keeping my brain working.   But nowhere is my sense of technological advance erasing a skill more focused than in navigation.

Map-reading is a skill I value.  To navigate a road or path from A to B gives you precisely the feeling of power of which Asimov wrote.  Yet when you are in difficult terrain; far from home; the maps are not good; or all three, you crave information.  No wonder GPS is so all-conquering.  But how useful is the latest technology for hiking the UK, compared with traditional methods?

Walking into cloud at Little Dun Fell. The rucksack cover blew off five minutes later

I recently walked the final 100 miles of the Pennine Way, from Dufton in Cumbria to (more…)

How men think? Part 2: Lucky Jim 

‘Do you hate me, James?’

Dixon wanted to rush at her and tip her backwards in the chair, to make a deafening rude noise in her face, to push a bead up her nose.  ‘How do you mean?’ He asked.

I first read Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim several decades ago.  I enjoyed it immensely; and noted this exchange as summing up both how some women speak; and how some men react.

Re-reading the book recently I felt it had not aged well; but that it was still full of laugh-out-loud moments, including the one above.

What I was less sure of was how similar Kingsley Amis’s eponymous first person narrator is to Kemal, the first person narrator of Orhan Pamuk’s scary and thought-provoking novel The Museum of Innocence, which I reviewed recently.

In particular, are they similar in the way they treat women?

What do you think?  I would welcome thoughts from readers.

As I am on holiday without a computer or iPad I cannot give this subject the attention it deserves for now; but will aim to do so in August when reunited with a computer.

Watch this space.

P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, please 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.

Transience and Fat Lama

The novel Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny, opens with the following lines:

His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha– and the –atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god.

I was thinking of Lord of Light the other day, and the new start-up Fat Lama, when planning to walk the last 100 miles of the Pennine Way.

I do not have pictures yet of the Pennine Way. This is the Lake District in 2007

I was due to walk the Pennine Way with my brother, with whom I walked the Dales Way in 2003 and who has done all the hard planning, including scoping the route, booking accommodation and so on (and has walked the first 168 miles of the Pennine Way, on his own).  But for various reasons he now cannot go – disaster.  Fortunately, my daughter (more…)

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