Friday 25 February 2011

Isabel Makes Love on National Monuments (Jake Thackray)

 The late Jake Thackray, yorkshire poet, droll wit, gentleman, troubadour.  1938-2002

Isabel makes love upon national monuments
With style and enthusiasm and anyone at all.
Isabel's done Stonehenge and the houses of Parliament
But so far pretty Isabel's never played the Albert Hall.
Many a monolith has seen Isabel
Her bright hair in turmoil, her breasts' surging swell
But unhappy Albert is so far denied
The bright sight of Isabel getting into her stride.

The Fourth Bridge, the cenotaph, Balmoral and Wembley,
The British Museum and the House of Lords.
So many ticks in her National Trust catalogue
But so far the Royal Albert Hall has not scored.
Countless cathedrals can now proudly show
Where Isabel's pretty shoulder blades once briefly reposed.
But miserable Albert is still waiting for
The imprint of Isabel on his parquet floor.

At Westminster Abbey she lay on a cold tombstone
The meat in a sandwich of monumental love.
Old pole-faced Wordsworth unblinking beneath them,
A bright-eyed young Archdeacon breathless above.
Many a stoney-faced statue has flickered its eyes
And swayed to the rhythm of her little panting cries
But wretched old Albert never yet has known
Isabel's pretty whinnying to echo 'round his dome.

On the last night of the promenade she waved to the conductor,
And there and then on the podium with scarcely a pause,
With a smile and a wave and a loud "Rule Britannia!"
She completed her collection to enormous applause.
Rapturous Albert now knows full well
He's captured forever the elusive Isabel.
Prettily disheveled but firmly installed,
And faithful forevermore to the Royal Albert Hall.

No more frantic scramblings up the dome of St Paul,
No more dank ramblings on Hadrian's wall.
With form and enthusiasm and anyone at all
Isabel makes love at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray

I, the under-mentioned, by this document
Do declare my true intentions, my last will, my testament.
When I turn up my toes, when I rattle my clack, when I agonise,
I want no great wet weepings, no tearing of hair, no wringing of hands,
No sighs, no lack-a-days, no woe-is-me's and none of your sad adieus.
Go, go, go and get the priest and then go get the booze, boys.

Death, where is thy victory? Grave, where is thy sting?
When I snuff it bury me quickly, then let carousels begin -
But not a do with a few ham sandwiches, a sausage roll or two and "A small port wine, please".
Roll the carpet right back, get cracking with your old Gay Gordons
And your knees up, shake it up, live it up, sup it up, hell of a kind of a time.
And if the coppers come around, well, tell them the party's mine, boys.

Let best beef be eaten, fill every empty glass,
Let no breast be beaten, let no tooth be gnashed.
Don't bother with a fancy tombstone or a big-deal angel or a little copper flower pot:
Grow a dog-rose in my eyes or a pussy-willow
But no forget-me-nots, no epitaphs, no keepsakes; you can let my memory slip.
You can say a prayer or two for me soul then, but - make it quick, boys.

Lady, if your bosom is heaving don't waste your bosom on me.
Let it heave for a man who's breathing, a man who can feel, a man who can see.
And to my cronies: you can read my books, you can drive around in my motor car.
And you can fish your trout with my fly and tackle, you can play on my guitar,
And sing my songs, wear my shirts. You can even settle my debts.
You can kiss my little missus if she's willing then, but - no regrets, boys.

Your rosebuds are numbered;
Gather them now for rosebuds' sake.
And if your hands aren't too encumbered
Gather a bud or two for Jake.

Monday 21 February 2011

On the Myth of the Popular Blog Post

If I was one of those bloggers with google ads, and links to sites that pay me if you buy from them, or just pay per 15 million click-throughs, then the nature of my blog would be very different. I'd update it every day, without fail, for instance, and I'd be constantly writing stuff of spurious value, but with eye-catching snappy titles -like "Ten New Ways to Get a Perfect Figure Without Dieting" or "How Beeswax Poultices Cured My Depression Within One Week!", or "How to make Serious Money out of collecting Junk!" (subtitled "A Year Ago I Was Just Like You, Now I Live in a Thirty-Room Mansion, and Have a Ferrari as my Lawnmower!"
In short, if I was obsessed by getting lots of visitors, I'd write stuff like that. Instead, I view large numbers of visitors with some suspicion. What the hell are they doing here?

Seriously, folks, if you really want to know how to cure your cat's hacking cough, or make a million in three months by doing something that's so simple you'll kick yourself when I tell you how, then you've come to the wrong place.

My wealth-making abilities are such that I'll probably need to keep working for at least a year AFTER I'm dead.

However, this post started with me looking at my site-monitor/meter. I ditched Site-Meter, because it missed so many visitors. I use Active-Meter, to find out simple stuff about my visitors, like where in the world they are (approximately, fear not.... I can't usually locate you any closer than your ISP's nominal address, which, in the U.S. may not even be in the same state as you, if I look at my own visits, I appear to vary my location by a couple of hundred miles, depending on where my ISP routes me), I'm also interested in where they found a link to me, which are regular visitors etc. It's just curiousity. I've got someone in Ulan Bator, who drops in on a weekly basis, there's a police department in Australia....
Well, they popped up after I made reference to a horrifying attack on garden gnomes in Western Australia. The press dubbed it "The Gnomesville Massacre". I'm not sure if the aussie cops think I might be a suspect, or whether they're just happy that their cause is publicised half a world away.

For the last few weeks, approximately two hundred and fifty people, per day, seem to have been googling "Why Women Shouldn't Skydive Nude". Or Binging it. They all end up at a post I made ages ago- 
This contained an eye-popping pic of two men and two women, in freefall, naked. And the eye-popping bit is how boobies change their shape in a 120mph updraught. In the picture, they turn into inverted hemispherical cup-shapes.  Now I'm a man, and thus have no personal experience of the effects of high velocity air on boobies.
Judging by the expressions on the jumpers' faces, it's no big deal. They're smiling. Or is that another 12o mph updraft artifact. (See what I did there? Bilingual, me!)
Oh? did you just click the link and go take a look?
I just got a bit irked by all those uncouth visitors trailing by, leaving muddy footprints but, despite their numbers, never a comment, so I pulled the pic. If titillation is what they seek, the interweb's got plenty of titills. Let them lurk elsewhere.
The numbers even outdid my "Tractor Porn" post's highest ever total... For weeks. every day... Um. 280 so far, looking for that pic, today. No backlash as yet.
Eventually Google and Bing will figure out it's gone. then I might put it back up.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Charles Dickens, on Visiting Louisville in 1842

Having just been reading Charles Dickens' "American Notes", penned upon his travels in 1842, and from there going to browse the blogs on the interwebs, I came across a post from Jim Gottuso, with pictures taken down by the river near Louisville, and only a moment earlier, there I was, reading of Dickens staying at The Galt House in Louisville. He spoke well of it. That particular hotel burned down in 1865, there is a Galt House today, but it's a modern tower of concrete, steel, and glass.

It's worth reporting that Dickens, still only 29 years old, was a superstar of his day.
People stood in line for three days and nights to buy tickets to hear him speak and read from his novels.

Here then, for Jim and Sofia, a few words  from Dickens, from the same place they now inhabit, but a time quite  distant.

"There was nothing very interesting in the scenery of this day's journey, which brought us at midnight to Louisville. We slept at the Galt House; a splendid hotel; and were as handsomely lodged as though we had been in Paris, rather than hundreds of miles beyond the Alleghanies.

The city presenting no objects of sufficient interest to detain us on our way, we resolved to proceed next day by another steamboat, the Fulton, and to join it, about noon, at a suburb called Portland, where it would be delayed some time in passing through a canal.

The interval, after breakfast, we devoted to riding through the town, which is regular and cheerful: the streets being laid out at right angles, and planted with young trees. The buildings are smoky and blackened, from the use of bituminous coal, but an Englishman is well used to that appearance, and indisposed to quarrel with it. There did not appear to be much business stirring; and some unfinished buildings and improvements seemed to intimate that the city had been overbuilt in the ardour of 'going-a-head,' and was suffering under the re-action consequent upon such feverish forcing of its powers.

On our way to Portland, we passed a 'Magistrate's office,' which amused me, as looking far more like a dame school than any police establishment: for this awful Institution was nothing but a little lazy, good-for-nothing front parlour, open to the street; wherein two or three figures (I presume the magistrate and his myrmidons) were basking in the sunshine, the very effigies of languor and repose. It was a perfect picture of justice retired from business for want of customers; her sword and scales sold off; napping comfortably with her legs upon the table.

Here, as elsewhere in these parts, the road was perfectly alive with pigs of all ages; lying about in every direction, fast asleep.; or grunting along in quest of hidden dainties. I had always a sneaking kindness for these odd animals, and found a constant source of amusement, when all others failed, in watching their proceedings. As we were riding along this morning, I observed a little incident between two youthful pigs, which was so very human as to be inexpressibly comical and grotesque at the time, though I dare say, in telling, it is tame enough.

One young gentleman (a very delicate porker with several straws sticking about his nose, betokening recent investigations in a dung-hill) was walking deliberately on, profoundly thinking, when suddenly his brother, who was lying in a miry hole unseen by him, rose up immediately before his startled eyes, ghostly with damp mud. Never was pig's whole mass of blood so turned. He started back at least three feet, gazed for a moment, and then shot off as hard as he could go: his excessively little tail vibrating with speed and terror like a distracted pendulum. But before he had gone very far, he began to reason with himself as to the nature of this frightful appearance; and as he reasoned, he relaxed his speed by gradual degrees; until at last he stopped, and faced about. There was his brother, with the mud upon him glazing in the sun, yet staring out of the very same hole, perfectly amazed at his proceedings! He was no sooner assured of this; and he assured himself so carefully that one may almost say he shaded his eyes with his hand to see the better; than he came back at a round trot, pounced upon him, and summarily took off a piece of his tail; as a caution to him to be careful what he was about for the future, and never to play tricks with his family any more.

We found the steamboat in the canal, waiting for the slow process of getting through the lock, and went on board, where we shortly afterwards had a new kind of visitor in the person of a certain Kentucky Giant whose name is Porter, and who is of the moderate height of seven feet eight inches, in his stockings.

There never was a race of people who so completely gave the lie to history as these giants, or whom all the chroniclers have so cruelly libelled. Instead of roaring and ravaging about the world, constantly catering for their cannibal larders, and perpetually going to market in an unlawful manner, they are the meekest people in any man's acquaintance: rather inclining to milk and vegetable diet, and bearing anything for a quiet life. So decidedly are amiability and mildness their characteristics, that I confess I look upon that youth who distinguished himself by the slaughter of these inoffensive persons, as a false-hearted brigand, who, pretending to philanthropic motives, was secretly influenced only by the wealth stored up within their castles, and the hope of plunder. And I lean the more to this opinion from finding that even the historian of those exploits, with all his partiality for his hero, is fain to admit that the slaughtered monsters in question were of a very innocent and simple turn; extremely guileless and ready of belief; lending a credulous ear to the most improbable tales; suffering themselves to be easily entrapped into pits; and even (as in the case of the Welsh Giant) with an excess of the hospitable politeness of a landlord, ripping themselves open, rather than hint at the possibility of their guests being versed in the vagabond arts of sleight-of-hand and hocus-pocus.

The Kentucky Giant was but another illustration of the truth of this position. He had a weakness in the region of the knees, and a trustfulness in his long face, which appealed even to five-feet nine for encouragement and support. He was only twenty-five years old, he said, and had grown recently, for it had been found necessary to make an addition to the legs of his inexpressibles. At fifteen he was a short boy, and in those days his English father and his Irish mother had rather snubbed him, as being too small of stature to sustain the credit of the family. He added that his health had not been good, though it was better now; but short people are not wanting who whisper that he drinks too hard.

I understand he drives a hackney-coach, though how he does it, unless he stands on the footboard behind, and lies along the roof upon his chest, with his chin in the box, it would be difficult to comprehend. He brought his gun with him, as a curiosity. Christened 'The Little Rifle,' and displayed outside a shop-window, it would make the fortune of any retail business in Holborn. When he had shown himself and talked a little while, he withdrew with his pocket-instrument, and went bobbing down the cabin, among men of six feet high and upwards, like a light-house walking among lamp-posts.

Within a few minutes afterwards, we were out of the canal, and in the Ohio river again."

Language: Obfuscation and Equivocation as a Social Tool.

Monday 14 February 2011

Lady Godiva

John Maler Collier (1850–1934)

Lady Godiva did exist, but her naked ride through the town of Coventry  is of slightly more doubtful provenance.
(Godiva, or "Godgifu", in saxon,  her name means "gift of god")
Godiva lived in the eleventh century, she was married to Leofric, Lord of Coventry, Earl of Mercia.
Leofric was busy raising money for himself, and for his king, for an army to fight the danes, and as a result, he taxed all his vassals heavily. Coventry was the home of Godiva, of her people, and when she saw them, struggling and in poverty, due to Leofric's tolls ,she begged him to lift the taxes upon the town, have mercy upon her people. Leofric refused. Godiva begged and pleade, and cajoled. Her husband would not relent. the town, the villages, the county, the people, all were his, and he was determined to tax them, as was his right by birth, and by his position, set to rule over Mercia by his king.
"Besides," I hear him say, "All the finery that you are accustomed to wear as Countess of Mercia, and Lady Godiva of Coventry, all that costs a pretty penny, and you'd not go abroad dressed as a lesser person might, now, would you?"
Well, can you not hear the silence, the proverbial pin-drop, that pervades the room, as Godiva eyes her husband, this portly, important lord, all dressed in finery and glittering gold and jewels. She curls her lip a moment, then stands and faces him, with an angry glare "I'd ride naked through the town, rather than see my people go hungry!!
A moment's silence as Leofric frowns, his face dark with displeasure at her defiance. Then he throws back his head and laughs, after a while, his courtiers laugh a little too, unsure of their lord's mood. "You'd never dare!" he barks,  roaring with mirth, as she stands defiant before him, "My wife of finest silks and precious jewels, ha! -My wife who takes half the morning to dress, my unruly wife, ha! the day I see her ride naked through the town, that's the day I lift the taxes! HA!"
She eyes him a little longer, meeting his gaze, challenging. "My Lord. We all heard you say that. The day I ride nude through the town, is the day you will free my people from taxes. It is your word. And you are a man of honour."

She prepared herself. Her promise had called for nakedness, so naked she would be, save for her long red hair, which she allowed to cascade over her body, using it as her only cloak.
The word passed through the town, that Godiva was prepared to humiliate herself, in order to lift the burden from the townsfolk. All agreed, that in respect for her, they would remain in their houses, with windows shuttered, and none would gaze upon her nakedness.
And so they did. It's said, one man, hearing her horse's hooves, was overcome by a need to see her..... but, as he unshuttered his window, he was struck blind. We still use his name today, he was known as "Peeping Tom".

When she returned to Leofric, having ridden through the town, she called upon him to honour his words, and so he did. He declared the citizens of the town free of all his tolls and taxes.
To this day, Coventry remembers Godiva, with gratitude.

Sunday 13 February 2011

In Which I Realise I've Thrown Away a Fortune in Clothing

When the mice got into my drawer, they shredded holes in everything they found. I chucked it all out, unsorted, without a moment's thought for the riches I was discarding. 
Now, my work shirts get hard use. they get tears, cuts, spark-burns, they get oil, paint, silicone and worse. So mice really are just another challenge.
I start out with good shirts. I've been known to buy bundles of unissued military surplus t-shirts, yes, they're khaki, sand, green, whatever, but they're a decent weight and last well. 
 Then, today, on TYWIKIWIDBI, I saw this.

If Jeffrey, at NYC, cares to get in touch with me, I think we can do some business. I guess I could manage about five per week.

P.S. My chosen hobby area is in what we might call off-road motor-sport. At the end in which I indulge it's a discipline undertaken at low, almost walking speed, an intellectual as much as a physical challenge, the object is to traverse a number of sectioned routes across rough terrain, without stopping or hitting any of the numbered penalty gates. Inevitably, every now and then theres a grinding crunch as a rock or a tree gets into the action, sometimes a rollover, and a few dents and scrapes are to be expected.
Out on the road, I see these glossy vehicles with suspension lifts, winches, jacks, expedition racks. It's obvious that they don't use any of it, they've not just returned from crossing Borneo.
So, in a spoof article for my club magazine, a few years back, I posited a new business. "Off-Road Vehicle Distressing".
I'd have booths where you could bring your new Range Rover, and my guys would lovingly scrape along the sides with broken bottles, slam it with rusty chains, for extra money, you could have us charge at it with an elephant or rhinoceros. We could fill it with baboons to rip the seats and shit on the carpets.
Oh yes. And combine that with Jeffrey's shirts, and you'll really look the real deal, rolling up at the country-club.

Thursday 10 February 2011

We Have a Map of the Piano

More from Iceland.
I think I posted this once before as a music clip only. Long ago. So far back I can't remember.
If I wasn't so lazy I'd go look. But that was then, this is now. Or almost now, dammit, too slow, it's then again already. Time like an ever-flowing stream and all that.

Jungle Drum?

I've been reading "The Killer's Guide to Iceland", by Zane Radcliffe.  A thriller, a whodunit, a novel, and a laugh or three.
On the U.S. Amazon site, an Icelandic reader castigates him, and finds nothing at all to like in his portrayal.
Well, maybe she's right, there's obviously some exaggeration isn't there?
So here's a glimpse of iceland, and a song by Emiliana Torrini, who, despite her name, is an Icelander.

But then I think back, way back, to a year of living in Iceland, working in Reykjavik, and the people I met, the things that happened, the places, and then I realise he's not exaggerating after all. And yes, like one of his characters, some icelanders think the whole place is boring, dull, and can't wait to leave. To me, as an outsider, it was a place of tremendous beauty, with so much happening, it was fascinating, exciting, strange, many times strange.If I were to write of many of the incidents and experiences whilst I was there, people would accuse me of fiction and exaggeration.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

The "Best-Seller" Mill

On the best seller stands today it is all too common to see “franchised” books, riding on the name of a well known writer but in fact written by piece-workers. I can just see it now… Tom Clancy’s literary sweat-shop, big whiteboards with book-formulae scrawled across them to remind the writers of their goal. The opening chapter section, where a boat explodes off Knossos, or a plane impacts above Kathmandu, or a train derails outside Lahore, the oval-office chapter in which tough guys from the alphabet spaghetti school of US secret departments argue over jurisdiction, the assorted heroes section, where a tough ex-special forces guy is blackmailed back out of retirement at the president’s personal behest, thus missing his daughter’s seventh birthday party….
And the deals department. Where James Patterson, and Steven King’s guys come in to trade completed chapters- “Anybody got one where the good guys escape the erupting volcano in a helicopter flown by a one-eyed alcoholic midget nun?”.
I see my future.
I shall become a wholesaler of paragraphs.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Absconding, Absolution, and a Bridge.

I absconded from the jobs I should have been doing on saturday morning.. I had a few groceries to buy, and that could have been done within moments of home, but I lost control of the vehicle I was driving and before I knew what was happening it had taken me out of town, onto the narrow lanes between the fields. At that point, well, I gave up, I could have yelled at it to turn around, and go home, but I just gave in, and sat back to see where it would take me.
Nobody explained this to me, I've always had manual cars, but when you get an automatic, well, it seems they just decide for themselves...
So before I knew it I was about ten miles from home, in Wetherby.  And in Wetherby there are a lot of places to buy books, and books are to me what shoes are to women. I can't help myself.
So I bought a few books. No, only a reasonable number, no more than I could carry in a large shoulder-bag...
Then I was feeling a little hungry, so I dropped in to the Wetherby Whaler fish'n'chip shop, for chips, scraps, curry-sauce, onion-rings and a barm-cake, and down the road to the river-path.  The river was carrying last week's storm water, and was quite busy, so I left it to do its job, and sat on a bench, browsing my new books, and eating.

Not a bad place to pause.
The bridge has seen a fair bit of history. One of britain's major north-south routes passes here. Nowadays, the main highway bypasses the town to the east, but for a couple of thousand years, if you were travelling from London to Scotland or vice-versa, you'd cross the river Wharfe here. The Roman legions did.  The Emperor Constantine did.
There were other crossings, of course, roman forts abounded, but this route, this route became known as "The Great North Road". Yes, there are other Great North roads in the world, in America, Canada, Australia, New  Zealand, Zimbabwe, but all of them are subsequent to this one.
Back in the early 1200s, Wetherby had become a stopping place, a little town. There was already a weir on the river, and a mill, milling corn. (not maize, we didn't have maize back then)
There was no bridge. You had to get in there and wade. Not too difficult in a dry summer, maybe, but not so good the rest of the year. Both north and south of the river there would have been inns, because you might just have to spend the night, or a few days, or weeks, waiting for the river crossing to be passable. 
Back in 1233, the Archbishop of York, Walter de Grey, decided there ought to be a bridge there. But who'd pay for such a costly edifice? not the church, it had to be the people, the travellers,  the noblemen, the merchants. They all had a vested interest in the crossing, and a bridge would secure the little town's fortunes, in much the same way as cities these days look to airports to ensure trade and income. 
Some money was raised, but not enough, until wily Archbishop Walter came up with the great idea that anybody paying over a certain amount could apply to Walter to have all his sins up to date forgiven, expunged, forgotten. After that the money came rolling in, stone quarries either side of the river rang to the sound of hammers and wedges, and a handsome bridge arose.
Surely, though, I hear you say, not that bridge there? I mean, it looks old, but not that old?

Well, yes and no. What you see here is quite young. After a flood damaged the original  bridge, it was repaired and the roadway widened, from ten, to twenty feet wide, in 1773. There's some more recently repaired stone-facing since.
Then in 1826 the bridge was widened again, this time on the downstream side.  You can also see where the original rise and fall of the roadway was levelled out, and a newer parapet made.
Still, if you go down to the water, and look carefully....

You can still see Walter de Grey's first bridge, tucked into the centre of the current edifice.

Normally, this is a quiet riverside stroll, with people sitting on the benches to watch the world go by, a quiet route from the riverside car park to the town centre. However, as it often does, the river has reclaimed the nothernmost arch for a while. but here it's peaceful enough for the ducks, finding shelter from the rushing river in the next arch over.

Oh. I fibbed. The car's not really automatic. It was me doing the running-away all the time.

Saturday 5 February 2011

I watched a film, I read a book,and I'm out of step with the critics.

Life, on a scale of stresses, one to six, where one is not very much stress, and six is absolutely too much....  currently the stress reading is at about fifteen, the safety gauge is screwed down tight, and steam is leaking at the seams. Healthwise, not so good either, and my doctor says "Avoid stress", then laughs, because she's stressed too.
My mother's condition is going rapidly downhill,  and I regularly get calls from the alarm monitoring centre, and drop everything, rush over to find she's fallen, can't get up.
She seems to be getting good at whacking her head on some random hard object as she goes too. She won't eat enough, so she gets weaker, then her balance gets worse.... it's all a downward spiral. Her memory is falling apart faster and faster. My brother has at last stepped up to take a bit of the load, and my sister's just been and stayed a week with her, which gave me several nights of uninterrupted sleep. Until the five a.m. ambulance call.

So it's nice to just do nothing. I picked up Audrey Niffenegger's second novel "Her Fearful Symmetry" (first one was "The Time Traveller's Wife") in a secondhand bookstore this morning, and enjoyed the luxury of sitting down to read, with nobody demanding my time. Well, there's always something else I really ought to be doing, but today I sat down to read, and read I did, until I ran out of book, 485 pages later, I enjoyed it.  I even recommend it. The Amazonites tend to give it a bit of a poor grade. Well, to hell with them, I say. It entertained me for about three whole hours, so it can't be all bad.
If you read "The Time Traveller's Wife", you'd know it wasn't likely to be a simple, straightforward, single-string story.  And story it is, that's all, it doesn't need to be overanalysed and searched for hidden allegory. Just a story. With a ghost.
I'll rate it as five stars.

P.s. (a later addition). I wanted to link to the book, so, of course, I ended up reading reviews. now, reviews always interest me, because I contrast them with my own experience. I didn't link to the publisher's or the author's blurb, because, hey, what's a publisher going to say about a product it's trying to sell? Or what's an author going to say?
So that leads us to Amazon and other sites where reviewers can say good or bad.
Now, my problem, if I try to tell you how I felt about the book, is that I can't do that without perhaps  revealing things you need to find out for yourself.
Elsewhere, I recently read someone's thoughts on movie trailers. How in the past, a trailer's purpose was to intrigue you with glimpses and hints, so you just had to see the movie and find out what it was about, but now, the trailer seems to be a pastiche of all the  major scenes, the best and the brightest, so when you go see the movie... there's nothing left. You've already seen the bits that are exciting, and so it feels as if you're just sitting through the b-grade stuff that wasn't good enough for the trailer.
That's how it can be with book reviews too.
Here's the spoiler: twins, ghosts, and a cemetery. So there.
It seem that readers and reviewers are complaining that parts of the plot were far-fetched and hard to believe. What a surprise. The author's previous book was called "The Time Traveller's Wife". Even if you have not read it, nor seen the movie, you can not buy the current tome without being exposed to the blurb about its predecessor.
So if you expect "Her Fearful Symmetry" to be thoroughly true to everyday reality, then I'd say you're pretty stupid. People  complain about characters' behaviour, about the various denouements, say "Well that's unlikely, people just wouldn't really do that." Well, in my experience, people in real life do all sorts of bizarre things that seem illogical and make no sense. That's actually not magic reality, it's real life. Sometimes people will do unpredicted things, and there will be no explanation. That's just how it is. Why then must we expect an author to explain everything, to leave us sure of the reasons for each character's actions?
Why should we expect a tidy ending? Do we really need an Agatha Christie-like scene at the end where all the characters are gathered together in the drawing-room of a country house, and a some detective genius walks us through all the clues we should have picked up earlier in the book, and explains why each character behaved in the way they did? Do we need a happy ending?
I'll say, for my part, that I write, in my mind, as I read books, alternative scenarios. This book was no exception. I'd have liked characters to behave differently, make different decisions. I'd like to be able to step in there, part way along, and nudge things in a different direction. But this was Audrey Niffenegger's book, not mine, she gets to call the shots, and I read them and have to accept her direction. If I want a book where all the characters behave in a way I like, where the plot develops as I wish, I'll have to write it myself.
Until then, I'm reading other people's stories, and should respect their choices. I can like or dislike it, but I have no right to say "She should have....".
Just like I read blogs. Even my favourite bloggers post things I won't like, and I'll post things my readers won't like.
If you don't like it, spit it out, go get something else.

I also watched The Social Network. Now that was a waste of my time. I'm still no wiser as to Facebook's
I assume the people involved in making it thought the movie to be a worthy task.
IMDB gives it 8.2 out of ten stars. The reviews there make me wonder if I watched the same thing. To me it was just a collage of cliched scenes that we've all seen before in oh so many other movies, put together to tell another story we've heard before, student geek gets dotcom idea, abuses friendships on the way, picks up sharks and sucker fish, ends up rich but sad.
Thought provoking? No. Emotionally charged? No. A visual treat? No. Great drama? No.

I also spent a while watching a river today, watching brown floodwater slide over a weir, and roil in chaos. That time was better used.

If you watched this movie and judged your time and money well spent, please do tell me why.