This weekend, after seeing Oliver Twist , I promised myself I would read more "classic" novels, at which point I purchased a distinctly non-classical novel from the new releases section, Blue Water , which I am now half way through. To make up for the obvious disregard I have for my own conviction in these matters, I then purchased the appropriately titled Crime and Punishment , which was six dollars and which had on the back cover "the most readable of the classics". Shut up, I am at least trying.

I saw four movies this weekend, including The Chumscrubber , a movie they're saying is quite like American Beauty mixed with Donnie Darko and as a result it's derivative and boring, but I liked it. It had a sense of humour about itself - a rare thing in films about "young people" being "disenfranchised". I also could ignore its slight misjudgment of things at times because of the acting, which I thought was excellent. That Billy Elliot, I tells ya, he's orright (also, Glenn Close was brilliant, and CJ Cregg from The West Wing should probably be in most films). I took it as a satirical movie - not just a satire on contemporary America (which I agree is getting kind of boring), but a comment on films like the ones it's being compared to. Perhaps I was being too generous, for once, although I doubt that.

I visited my Grandmother. She said, out of nowhere, "What are you proudest of?"

My Grandma is a modern-day Shakespeare character. She speaks in simple, considered prose. She looks at you directly. She asks questions that could unravel a kingdom in a day. Then she offers you a cup of tea with a shortbread.

I also saw In The Shadow of the Palms this weekend. It's a documentary about Iraq before, during and after the first attacks by the USA. If you would like to know what Iraq is actually like, and how people live there, and precisely how ignorant the media is enabling us (in the west) to be, then check it out. I think I thought of Iraq as just this kind of empty desert with blood and anger and death. The filmmaker, Wayne Coles-Janess, an Australian, has just used footage to make an overall picture, really. No "plot", no cohesive "message", except that Iraq is a country just like where you live, except someone started dropping bombs on it and all the Christians and the Muslims and the pro-Saddam and the anti-Saddam Iraqis were suddenly rushing from crumbling building to crumbling building to haul people out of the rubble. It makes you realise that, as the brilliant chain-smoking school teacher in the film says, "We are under the control of liars". The politicians, all of them, were leading people into a war that the people had no control over but that would change them forever. It's obvious, but it's horrible. Watch the footage of the bombs dropping. Nothing precise or targeted about it.

Actually, I recommend, to really feel the full force of how ridiculous the world is, that you go and see this movie alone, as I did, and then emerge to see a huge TV screen broadcasting photographs of Nicole Kidman's marriage to Keith Urban.

Later on Sunday, I stood in a shop that sells nuts from the counter. They're served hot and in a paper bag. I was waiting for the guy in front of me to order some cashews. His five or six year old son was with him. Their conversation was lovely:

Kid looks slightly perplexed. Peers in at nuts.
- Dad?
- Yep (slightly pre-occupied with nuts)
- Is salt a chemical?
- Ah, no. No, I don't think so. Not a chemical, exactly.
- What happens when it dries up?
- Salt?
- Yeah.
- I guess it gets dry and crystalised. You know, if you took all the water out of the sea, it would just be salt left. Crystalised salt, I guess.
- Yes... What's it for?
- Some people say it makes food taste better. But you can't have too much because it's not good for you.
- (Kid looks at salted cashew nuts for a bit)
- (Dad watches kid watching nuts) Speaks to kid again:
- Do you know what salt tastes like?
- Yes.
- It's kind of bitter, isn't it?
- Yes.

Kid and Dad leave. I tried to get a picture in my head of the kid so that one day I can send him a congratulations letter when he wins the nobel prize in twenty years. Was seriously five. Maybe six, if you squint.


Then last night I saw Richard E Grant's film, Wah-Wah , which was brilliantly performed. As usual, I couldn't cope with the romanticisation or the melodrama that the film sometimes tipped into, but maybe it was necessary in this case.

In keeping with the sublime/ridiculous dichotomy of today, check this out - a most amusing and very brief article about the presents George Bush has been receiving from people since he became president. Yes the presents. The gifts. What would you get President Bush for his birthday? Nothing? (Tony Blair) A gun? (it's on the list) A whip? (same) Booze? (that one makes me laugh).


Lastly, I found out today that the line in the Bright Eyes song I have been listening to in the car in fact refers to the protagonist having a "head full of pesticides" rather than to his having a "head full of pasta sauce". This disappoints me, as I had very much empathised with his position in regard to the pasta sauce. Life is full of disappointments such as these. Go here and check out a website full of them.