Archive for Hudson river

New York City trip

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2022 by xi'an

While the Sampling, Transport, Diffusion workshop at the Flatiron Institute kept me happily busy, and while I did not stay any longer, spending a few days in New York City was a treat and I took advantage of my early hours to go running along the river sides, first south of the Flatiron building, then north to the Queensboro Bridge and over it, and last north along the Hudson River. The East River side is much less convenient for running as the path is repeatedly blocked by construction / storage sites and Xing the Queensboro Bridge gave a great view of Manhattan, albeit at the risk of being hit by a bike / scooter / moppet, as the path was shared with [an endless flow of] speeding electric bicycles. As I had never been to this part of the city, I was unaware of the cable car / gondola to Roosevelt Island (surprisingly called tram), which I would have taken given an extra day. Came by uponchance over a Trump Tower, which I ignored was so inappropriately close to the UN Headquarters! Running on the uninterrupted Hudson River trail was much nicer (and busier) despite the freezing wind that day.

For once (!) I stayed in an hotel, reserved by the Flatiron, and for the three nights I was there it was most tolerable, except for the usual background noise found in hotels, both from heating fans and patrons discussing in the corridors after hours. But the staff was helpful to the point of purchasing a kettle for my early morning tea. As the workshop provided an enormous amount of food at all times (and there was a true matcha tea provider around the corner!), it did not matter in the least.

towers in the mist [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2022 by xi'an

The Magicians [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2016 by xi'an

While in Melbourne, I heard a recommendation for Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and the next day, while checking the Melbourne Writers Festival bookstore, found the book (rather than the Kristoff volume I was seeking), bought it, and read it within a few days.

‘Brakebills will remind readers of Hogwarts, though with more illicit fondling. Grossman has written what could crudely be labeled a Harry Potter for adults.” , NYT

So is this an Harry Potter for adults?! First, I think Harry Potter can be read by adults (if I qualify as adult!). This remark presumably means the book should not be read by young readers, maybe, due to recurrent sex and alcohol consumption, plus some drugs and an overall depressive tone.

Back to Harry Potter, there is the same magical boarding school feeling, even though it is located in upstate New York on the Hudson river.  And not in Scotland. With an equivalent to Quidditch, an evil magician, exams, surly teens, one or two love triangles, &tc. If in a more modern and American way. The difference with Harry Potter is that it also doubles as Narnia! A Narnia eventually turned wrong and sour, but nonetheless a strong similarity of stories and ideas. Of course, this parallel could be seen as an attempt at deconstruction, exhibiting the inconsistencies in the original novels, but it is so subtle it does not feel like it. There are the same encounters with sentient animal creatures, who never reappear after, the same call for Kings and Queens, as in Narnia. This lack of depth at exploring the connections between Harry Potter, Narnia and even some aspects of the Wheel of Time is frustrating in that something great could have come of it. And then… then… comes the worst literary trick in my list, the call to a subterranean quest with endless monsters and accidents! (I obviously exclude Tolkien’ Moria episode from this list!!!) Concluding with the evil character dumping information in the last battle to explain missing bits and pieces in the story.

So, in conclusion, not such a magical book, even though I read it within a few days thanks to my 39 hour trip back to Paris. The Magicians remains too teeny for my taste, hearing self-deprecating depressive monologues occurs way too often to make the main character congenial, and the story has not enough depth or structure to be compelling. A reviewer rightly pointed out it feels like fandom fiction. Rather than a universe on its own. (As for instance Aaronovitch’ Rivers of London series.)

art brut

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , on July 25, 2015 by xi'an


art brut

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , on May 31, 2015 by xi'an


%d bloggers like this: