“Let me tell you, the world changes with every generation and if we don’t learn to surf on the tide then we will be smashed on the rocks.”
Bugsy Malone is a very strange film, and probably an odd one to start a post about a novel on the railway industry with. It’s that rare thing for me, a musical that is deeply enjoyable and a film I have watched more times than I can remember.
It also has a killer ending, where a shootout is abruptly halted so that everyone, good guys and bad guys alike, can make up and have a bit of a song and a dance. It’s sentimental, it kinda flies in the face of what you have just been watching and feels somewhat strange. But it works and that’s why it reminds me of Raising Steam. Continue reading →
‘You use words, and I’m told you do it well, but words are soft and can be pummelled into different meanings by a skilled tongue. Numbers are hard. Oh, you can cheat with them but you cannot change their nature. Three is three. You cannot persuade it to be four, even if you give it a great big kiss.’
When I wrote about Going Postal a few weeks back, I was taken by how remarkably prescient it was in anticipating the financial crisis of 2008. To its credit, the novel wasn’t a strict ‘public = good, private = bad’ treatise. Under the auspices of Moist Von Lipwig, ‘confidence capitalism’, as I am dubbing any enterprise being led by a trickster, was the most responsible way of reinvigorating decrepit businesses.
The groundwork for Making Money was laid quite heavily in Going Postal, with the novel ending with the Patrician in dire need of someone to run Ankh-Morpork’s mint. That someone is Moist, whose ability to attract trouble is almost Rincewindian. Continue reading →
It was the face, that was what it was. He had an honest face. And he loved these people who looked him firmly in the eye to see his inner self, because he had a whole set of inner selves, one for every occasion. As for firm handshakes, practice had given him one to which you could moor boats. It was people skills, that’s what it was. Special people skills. Before you could sell glass as diamonds you had to make people really want to see diamonds. That was the trick, the trick of all tricks. You changed the way people saw the world. You let them see it the way they wanted it to be…
Jean-Ralphio in Parks and Recreation is the best ever minor character in sitcom comedy, with Frank Costanza from Seinfeld a close second. The reason why is that he is used sparingly. If he appeared every week, his irritant sex-pest playa character would grow tired quicker than you can say ‘Poochie’. But he’s hardly in the show so his hilarious schtick never gets old.
Havelock Vetinari is my favourite Discworld character. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork has never been the main character of a novel. He’s always at arm’s length, so when he is used, you are excited to see what the despotic tyrant of the city is scheming. That’s part of the character’s power; he is always behind the scenes, messing around with something to his ends. But (probably wrong speculation about the intentions of an author alert!) you could imagine Pratchett getting frustrated. He has created a brilliant character but has to use him sparingly in order to make the most of him. Continue reading →