Monday, 25 March 2013

Page of Joy

I haven't had any restful holiday for a while and I'm definitely in need of one. It's particularly obvious when I analyse my behavioural patterns - everything I've done in that hidden time where it's just me and Monty and no excuses are required has been to seek out joy. Sometimes letting Monty purr on my shoulder is all that is required, but from my bag of joy-seeking tricks I pulled out a few stalwarts and a few new ones this weekend, and I'd like to share.

So, here is encapsulated joy.

Oh, I intended to include this in my next (this) blog post, but the subject changed (although I can shoehorn it in on the basis that I felt a kind of joy when I first experienced these): A rough guide/ cheats manual to me; the value of a girl who reads and here's the kind of guy who appreciates a woman like me. Ah, and the guy who, by the sounds of it, did appreciate a woman like me but failed to make things work with her.

Books: Time for a confession: I read Mills and Boon. It's a guaranteed happy ending and very predictable construction (Girl not looking for man, man appears, utterly irresistible attraction, whirlwind romance with occasional negative history adding drama, brief but 'sincere' trauma, resolution caused by man stepping forward and making woman aware of how important and valued she is, everyone lives happily ever after). I mention this so you understand how romantic I am at my core. There is a kind of security from being able to believe that this kind of love and commitment is possible that I cling to when I'm down.

This weekend, I did not read Mills and Boon. Instead I read "The Unknown Ajax" by Georgette Heyer. First time I read it I remember thinking the first half of the book was confusing (I was about 14 at the time). The second half is pure joy. It has me in a more or less continuous ripple of laughter and the relationship described between the two main characters is exactly what I want. He is strong, dependable, reliable, intelligent, creative and has a wicked sense of humour, but he seems incapable of seeing her as anything other than his equal despite the fact that the book is set in the midst of the industrial revolution. I've read it hundreds of times now, to the point that the first and last pages are falling out of the binding, so I can highly recommend it.

Also, although I haven't read it this weekend, I have to include it due to the fact that it is pure joy (I first read it in serialised form over the course of a few years, and at the end of every bit there was a cliff hanger. You lose some of the terror reading it all at once, but it's still effective!) and also because I know the author and recently discovered that the film rights to this book have just been purchased by 20th Century Fox and I couldn't be more thrilled for Andy. It's called The Martian - buy it! It's less than a pound :)

Music: For me, music is a conduit. It isn't something I can experience as a standalone thing, it has to give me something else. For instance, most songs tell a story (as do many pieces of music without words, although with these I can't be sure I've made the 'correct' interpretation). I can listen and participate in the story. Or I can dance to the music. But music without a story or an option to dance, I just can't engage with it. You may note my deterioration of grammar here - it's simply because this concept is something that is so fundamentally true it precedes language and the part of my brain that tries to explain it doesn't seem to be connected to the part of my brain that understands it and so I trip up. Some people don't get this need for music to be more than just a bunch of sounds, some do. 1

Got a bit distracted there. So, the music I find joy from is generally something I feel is telling my story in a happy way, or that triggers a soul deep need to dance. Occasionally, it's just something that makes me laugh. Off the top of my head, these are things I've listened to recently which push the right buttons 2:
My Chemical Romance, Teenagers
Professor Elemental, Cup of Brown Joy
Professor Elemental, I'm British!
Big D and the Kids table, Where did all the Women Go?
Big D and the Kids Table, Chin up, Boy!
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Wuthering Heights
Meat Loaf, If I Can't Have You
Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris, Anything You Can Host
Mika, Grace Kelly
Billy Joel, My Life
Great Big Sea, Walk on the Moon (although just about everything I've heard of theirs deserves to be here)
Josh Groban, Higher Window
Josh Groban, False Alarms (JG3 doesn't seem to do joyful songs, but these two both feel like they anticipate a happy ending, even if they don't describe one. Optimistic is close enough to joyful in this context)

Film: If you've been paying the slightest attention you have realised I like romantic comedies. I also like action, whodunnits, some crime/thriller (not horror, or spooky stuff, as I have a highly overactive imagination and I get nightmares very easily) and comedies. It's worth emphasizing that I'm not a fan of slapstick. The British in me seems to prefer the comedy to be a little less physical and a little more subtle.

When I went to see the Expendables 2 last year with a couple of friends, as we came out I said that for me that's a perfect first date movie. Lots of action, lots of comedy, very little victimisation4 but actually, I watched RED again last night and I realised that is my best first date movie. Action, comedy, mystery, a small amount of tragedy wrapped in a dignity of choice and, ultimately, a romance. Warren Ellis is a marvellous writer and the only hiccup I see in RED 2 is that fact that I understand he is not writing any part of the screenplay. :(

For joy (that I have at least partially watched this weekend), I can recommend The Princess Bride, RED, The Three Musketeers 5

Youtube clips: Oh, boy, so many. Perhaps that had better wait for another time? I have a few favourite search terms: Never Mind the Buzzcocks, QI, Neil Patrick Harris, Whose Line is it anyway, Kittens6, Tim Conway's Elephant Story, Live at the Apollo, Tim Minchin, all of the bands/ musical people named above, Simon's Cat and the video clips posted by a friend featuring his son (there aren't many, but they're well chosen! And I'm not linking them here).

I am now going back and adding links. I would like to stop and watch each item, but I can't because I'll be here forever and I want to go home. I don't have internet access at home yet :( When I do I'll be blogging a) more frequently and b) later in the day.

Alicia

1 I'm not sure if either is more valuable, but it does prevent me liking that mm-cha type of music that is supposedly just for dancing, but the only dancing that fits the sound makes me look like I'm having some sort of seizure.
2 As it happens, my estranged husband is really into music in a purely for the sake of music way. He is very hipster about the whole thing, but also only seems to like really miserable stories in music so almost everything I listened to in the eight years we were together hasn't really been able to make my joy list (although a lot of it is very good, it's just too sad).
3 JG in my world usually refers to John Gordon's wine and whisky specialist in Cheltenham. They do an excellent cheese board - Gordon told me that once some Americans had it and complimented him particularly on one of the cheeses. When they asked what it was called he had to confess it was butter.
4 I hate films that emphasise how bad a bad guy is by throwing in a torture scene, I really do. I don't know why I like action so much, it seems inconsistent with my belief that because I go to the cinema to be entertained, torture and murder shouldn't be depicted because those things are not entertaining
5 And also, although I haven't seen it recently, the sequel - looking on IMDB it doesn't appear to exist, so I'm obviously confused. As I recall, they open with a scene where the eponymous Musketeers are dared to have a picnic in a barn that is under fire in the middle of a battle field. When I have time, I'll hunt it down.
6 Who doesn't love a kitten? Also, any video with the title "Baby Elephant Sneezes and scares himself" is always worth investigating