A fascinating story, though possibly not a case that will require Nergui's attention...
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on the Asian Indoor Games (new to me, but what do I know?). As well as the stuff you might expect the games also include 'e-sports', which I think you and I would know as computer games:
New to this year's event is the e-sports category, in which contestants will duke it out in popular sports-related videogames such as the soccer title FIFA 07...But "athletes in (these) sports have to apply a lot of techniques and mental abilities to win," says Eric Chau, director for cultural events and communication...The titles selected all promote Olympic ideals because, argues the committee, they're all related to real-world sports (soccer, basketball and motorsport)...The Mongolian team, which came away empty-handed from the first Indoor Games in Thailand two years ago, expects to win some medals in this category. Tsogt Sharavrentsen, a manager with Mongolia's national e-sports program, points to his star athlete, 19-year-old Lkhagvasuren Byambasuren, who forged his FIFA 07 skills in the Internet cafes of Ulaanbaatar.'
I'm sure my son would concur with the term 'star athlete' for someone whose exertion is presumably largely confined to his thumbs. But if you link it to this story, you can begin to see the scale of the Mongolians' ambition. Clearly, they're out to conquer the virtual world...
Friday, October 19, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
On a rather more profound note, I've been meaning for a little while to draw your attention to a remarkable-sounding film, Khadak. I can do no better than to give you the directors' own synopsis:
"Set in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, Khadak tells the epic story of Bagi, a young nomad confronted with his destiny to become a shaman. A plague strikes the animals and the nomads are forcibly relocated to desolate mining towns. Bagi saves the life of a beautiful coal thief, Zolzaya, and together they reveal the plague was a lie fabricated to eradicate nomadism. A sublime revolution ensues."
The long synopsis provided on the Khadak website is wonderfully impenetrable, but the film's cinematography is apparently extraordinary, as this review from the New York Sun indicates. The film is receiving various screenings in the US over the next few weeks. As far as I can see, no news yet about when we might get a chance to see it in the UK.
Nothing to do with anything, but I was cheered by this story in today's Guardian newspaper. Loudon Wainwright sang that those 'four strings of nylon/Always put a smile on/My face', and reckoned that if we could only get all world leaders playing the ukulele this would be a major step on the road to world peace (I recall that Tony Blair was subsequently photographed playing one but I'm not sure whether this is a tactic he's deploying in the Middle East). Anyway, children taking up the ukulele must be an unalloyed good thing. Except for the worrying news that it's led to a national ukulele shortage...
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Excellent piece in yesterday's Guardian newspaper about the impact of gold fever in Mongolia. Those who've read The Shadow Walker might have thought that its descriptions of the effects of the mining industry in Mongolia were exaggerated. This article suggests that, if anything, they were perhaps a little understated.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Interesting piece on the Eurocrime website about that fine publishing house, Quercus, including reference to some of the translated crime fiction to be published by them next year, alongside new books by the likes of Philip Kerr, Colin Cotterill and someone called Michael Walters, whoever he might be.
On the subject of Eurocrime and Quercus, I was so overwhelmed by Maxine Clarke's review of The Adversary that I omitted to mention that Eurocrime is also currently carrying a review of The Fabric of Sin, the latest by my Quercus stablemate, Phil Rickman. If you haven't yet discovered Mr Rickman's marvellous Merrily Watkins books - well, it's about time you did. I'm particularly looking forward to this one as it's partly concerned with the great Montague Rhodes James, so likely to be perfect reading as the nights draw in...
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
A little while ago, I mentioned on here a remarkable concert I'd been to at Bristol's St. George's Centre, featuring Pete Atkin backed by a superb jazz trio. For those who don't know (which is most of the world), Atkin is one of the great misplaced musical talents. He's been writing songs with Clive James - and one is always obliged to add, yes, that Clive James - for more than 30 years. He made half a dozen albums back in the 1970s, was swept away by the emergence of punk, and went off to make a very successful career for himself as a radio producer.
Then, about ten years ago, thanks to the efforts of uber-fan Steve Birkill (who runs Atkin's superb website), he re-emerged, performing, writing and recording. Since then he's recorded a collection of songs that he never got around to recording the first time round, a CD of entirely new Atkin/James material, and a live CD taken from a superb two-man show that he and James performed across the UK and Australia. But his 1970s CDs, after a brief re-issue a few years ago, are now sadly unavailable. So Pete's now taken the very wise step of re-recording a selection of the best of that material with the excellent band who performed with him in Bristol (and a few other people).
If you can forgive Mr James for his controversial comments on crime fiction (well, nobody's perfect), you might find it worth giving a listen to songs and performances which really are like no-one else's. The new CD, Midnight Voices, is officially released in the new year, but it will very shortly be available to those in the know though Pete's own Hillside Music shop, as are all the other recent CDs mentioned above.
And just to give this a vaguely crime fiction twist, possibly my favourite of Atkin/James's songs, 'The Faded Mansion on the Hill' (which is on the new CD), although apparently written about Sydney, could easily be about Chandler's LA.