Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rescue me from distorted body image

Fat Friends is an interesting series about a group of people who meet weekly at a weight loss club. Each episode of the first series concentrates on a different character: the middle-aged woman and her daughter (who is attempting to fit into a wedding dress she's already bought that is two sizes smaller than what she currently wears); the aspiring actress who only needs to lose a few pounds, but remains convinced that her butt is enormous; the teenage boy who is living with his needy, depressed mother; and the newspaper columnist who still works for the same paper where she had a disastrous affair with her married editor a few years previously. I was particularly cheered to see the actress with the distorted body image resorting to Rescue Remedy. Sister, I've been there (although I'm more likely to take a giant swig directly from the bottle, rather than taking a few dainty drops)!!

The middle-aged mother is played by Alison Steadman, who is showing up more and more often lately. She is Gavin's mother in Gavin & Stacey, currently being shown on BBCAmerica, as well as Mel's mother in The Worst Week of My Life. The latter series is being adapted for the US in the CBS show Worst Week, which starts next Monday night. I doubt that Ben Miller and Sarah Alexander can be improved upon as the disastrously unlucky couple, but I'll watch it to see if it attempts to follow the original series at all.

I recently listened to the delightful Confessions of a Serial Novelist, a one hour speech given by the author Alexander McCall Smith. The CD was recorded in front of an audience, and at the end of the CD he takes questions. The speech is delightful, punctuated by such observations as his reflection that as a serial novelist, "You write serial novels, and then you die." He also tends to veer off into reminiscences and stories from his career as a novelist. He gives insight into why it took so long for his "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" to be made into a film ("Film people have a different sense of time. Immediately means 5 or 6 years.") and gives examples of some of the great first lines in literature ("Mr. Saltina was an elderly man of 42 who liked to have young girls come and stay with him."). He also speaks a bit about each of the 4 series that he is currently writing, and how easily he gets side-tracked from his original intentions while writing the books. For instance, he predicts "several volumes of difficulties" before there is a wedding for Mma Makutsi (whom he describes as a representation of "all the people who don't get what they deserve in life"). The most enjoyable part of the lecture is when he reads out part of his latest novel, and several times becomes overcome with giggles at his own wittiness. Listening to the CD is a very pleasant way to spend an hour.

Final Verdict for Fat Friends: Three Gherkins, for being a touching look at the struggles people go through in an attempt to lose weight

Final Verdict for Confessions of a Serial Novelist: Four Gherkins, for providing a humorous, intimate look at a talented novelist

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