Most of the last weekend, I spent reading books in my bed. My latest acquisition is a hardbound by Jasper Fforde. Now, I first encountered this author in Rhys's posession, in a book called the The Eyre Affair and was basically recommended with 'It's absolutely crazy'. And it turned out to be exactly that, surreal to the extreme though you are left with a lingering doubt whether all this could really happen. There is just enough reality mixed in to make you wonder, just like the time you saw The Truman Show. The current tome under inspection is titled The Big Over Easy which does nothing to diminish my opinion.
The book tries to transcend reality by introducing nursery rhyme characters including the anthropomorphic animals and the usual fare of animated pastries, girls with 28 feet of hair and Solomon Grundy as an old man. But the beginning of the book starts with a trial of Three Little Pigs for pre-meditated murder of one Mr Wolff. The case hinged around the fact that the pot of water into which the 'Big Bad Wolf' fell in would have taken six hours to reach boiling which indicated premeditation. Since the pigs were tried by a jury of peers, that is a baker's dozen of pigs, they walked scot free. Then there are the detectives whose guild treats public approval as its currency and traces its history back to Sherlock Holmes (as if he's real). Each guild detective has an assigned Official Sidekick whose duties include writing out a passable entry for the mystery hungry magazines. So there's the grungy and bitter man stuck in a rut - Jack Spratt and the ambitious career detective Friedland Chymes. Both of whom started from the same humble beginning of the Nursery Crimes Division, but while Friedland was ranked #2 in popularity, Spratt wasn't even on the list.
And then the case comes up even more nuttier than a christmas fruit cake. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, but was he pushed ? Well, as it turns out his ex-wife shot someone else thinking it was Humpty, his current lover put poison in his coffee, his previous flame's (who happened to be Rapunzel) husband ordered him killed and then there was the part about him hatching. Anyway, we ended up with a conniving chiropodist, a golden goose, a geek who's obsessed with spelling (re: Unsfzpxkable) , an alien who loves filing and then there's the Jellyman. Not to mention that Jack has killed 4 giants before and cuts down a beanstalk to kill the monster.
The first thought to enter my head at the end of the book was What was this guy smoking ?.--
Humpty Dumpty didn't fall, he was pushed.
You can't keep a rain-forest in your backyard, but sometimes a tape of David Attenborough's productions will serve as a sufficient substitute. Not only did he produce groundbreaking nature documentaries, but he assembled an amazing team who were equally passionate about the unrivaled beauty of nature. The Bristol division of BBC turned out a series of expensive nature documentaries which were setting a standard in the field.
My attraction to his particular brand of nature documentaries come from the frequent change of scenery. Where most of the "modern" documentaries reserve an entire half-hour to a particular location or activity, Attenborough documentaries generally travel across the world in the hour. Also the documentaries hardly have any people and does not track people as characters in the story being played out. I am pretty sure they could've made a few more hours of documentaries with the reels they cut out per hour.
Private Life of Plants is my favorite series by David Attenborough. Now, Blue Planet and other works have taken me far, wide and deep throughout the biosphere. But those leave me with a distant yearning to see for myself these wonders of the world - Christmas Island while the crabs migrate, Palau to see the jellyfish swarms, Fjords of Norway where the whales sound, Great Barrier Reef when the corals are spawning. Deep in my heart, I know that I'll probably die before I see these desires fulfilled. Private Life of Plants, on the other hand takes me somewhere which doesn't exist - the world of plants where months seem to pass in minutes and in 30 seconds we've moved from a frigid winter to a warm spring, through the thaws and amidst the flowers that declare the arrival of spring.
That by itself may seem like a magical trip across time. But there's magic even in the simple things. The background music for instance is very appropriate and literally blends into the actions on screen, as if they had been scripted to the music. There are visits to the inaccessible islands in the pacific, which are preceded by the aerial views of them which add to the environmental setup for some exotic flowers. Even something as simple as a himalayan balsam seed falling into the nearby water is dramatic and accentuated by the plink of the drop, pulled into focus in slow motion.
Amidst all these scenery switches, there are no pictures of an elderly (well, in his early forties) English gentleman lugging his luggage, sweating it out in a 4x4 jeep (no Steve Ervin, he is). Even when we rarely see him, it is merely to emphasize the extremity of the environment and how exactly we (or he) just don't fit in.
But as I said earlier, the truly remarkable thing is its fast forwarded view of the plant world, documenting the fights, battles and conquests of these outwardly immobile flora. There is beauty in a flower opening, blackberries ripening and a mushroom slowly poking its head through the dead leaves. There is nothing beyond just sitting and watching wind hit a dandelion patch. Watching and wondering, you couldn't get tired of the magic on screen.
This is the ultimate documentary. *THE* Ultimate.--
Art is Nature speeded up and God slowed down.