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Moving mountains

Book Quote

The examination began. He told me first of all that people described me as being taciturn and withdrawn and he wanted to know what I thought of that. I answered, ‘It’s just that I never have much to say. So I keep quiet.’

– Excerpt from The Outsider by Albert Camus

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My Major 2018 Book Haul – Part Two

*€3/book BARGAIN BUY!* The Shape of WaterExcursion to TindariRounding the MarkThe Snack Thief  (from the Commissario Montalbano series) by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli – Tales from the book series featuring the fractious, intelligent, and down-to-earth Inspector Salvo Montalbano. All of the stories are set in Vigàta, a fictional town in the fictional province of Montelusa, Sicily. Since 1999, RAI has been producing a television series based on the popular novels, called in Italian, Il commissario Montalbano. Luca Zingaretti plays the part of the protagonist.

It by Stephen King – A 1986 novel written by the King of Horror himself. The story follows the experiences of seven children as they are terrorized by an entity that exploits the fears and phobias of its victims to disguise itself while hunting its prey. “It” primarily appears in the form of a clown to attract its preferred prey of young children.

*€1 BARGAIN BUY!* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This novel was an immediate hit when it came out back in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, and has since become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors, and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The story is told by the six-year-old Jean Louise Finch. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.”

*€1 BARGAIN BUY!* The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe – After first having watched the 2014 film – which left a quite an impression on me – of the same name (starring Susan Sarandon, Topher Grace and Donald Sutherland), I just had to pick this book up when I saw it at one of the charity shops. The story, set in Dundas, Canada, follows the investigation of a local woman who is found murdered, with her mouth gruesomely shaped into a silent cry. Soon-to-be-retired Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef and her department are faced with their biggest case yet.

*€3 BARGAIN BUY!* Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – Another classic. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age. The story follows the adventures of a noble named Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, to accompany him on the adventures.

P.S. The reason why I haven’t been very active this past week is because I’ve been working on my new and upcoming book review. You all probably know by now how seriously I take my reading and research, and the book I’m currently reading has lots to chew on. Hence my inactivity. What can I say, I just want to give you guys the best possible content 😉

– Preston

Becoming a Superstar

This week started off with a huge surprise.

On Monday afternoon, I got a call from my friend Mariano – last year’s panto director.

He told me that he’s taking part in an Easter pageant, that one of the actors has dropped out, and asked me if I’d be interested in filling in the role. Mariano then mentioned the name of the play, and I simply couldn’t decline the offer.

So, it is safe to say that one of my lifelong dreams will be coming true, this weekend.

I will be taking part in Jesus Christ Superstar 18. And I’ll be playing the part of the apostle John.

Directed by Antoine Galdes and Ismael Bonello, the play is based on the 2000 film Jesus Christ Superstar, which is a modern take on the original 1973 movie of the same name.

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This will be a first for me, as I’ve never taken part in a Passion Play, before. And Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my all-time favourite musicals, featuring fantastic tracks composed by the great Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For those wondering: No, taking part in this play does not mean that I’ve now converted to Christianity. Far from it. I did this purely for the experience of trying out something new.

Given that the two performances will take place tomorrow and Saturday evening, it’s been a very busy, hectic week for me. I met with the other members of the cast on Monday, therefore the bond between the others and myself isn’t that strong; I’m still the new kid on the block. And due to my refereeing duties, I couldn’t attend rehearsals yesterday, and the day before.

All this said, however, it’s not to say that I won’t try. Since I have committed myself, then I will certainly put in my best effort (as I always do).

Here’s a sneak peek of what the stage looks like…

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With large, beautiful projections, great music, stunning light effects, and a talented, hard-working team of actors and dancers, I’m sure that we’ll captivate our audience with a spectacular and unforgettable show!

– Preston

300: Rise of a Referee

I am just one match shy of officiating my 300th game.

Whilst this is an unbelievably great milestone, I have to admit that it comes with a bunch of mixed feelings and emotions.

The first, undoubtedly, is pride. I am proud of myself for having come this far. In these three years that I’ve been refereeing, I’ve had tons of experience. Some moments more unforgettable and amazing than others. And yet, I’m still learning to this day. I still make mistakes. I still mess up, occasionally. Such is life. Refereeing has helped me a lot on a personal level throughout these years. I am not as shy as I used to be, and I’ve grown a thicker and tougher skin. I’ve also learned how to be more responsible, more assertive, and how to handle situations calmly (but firmly) when tension is high. All this, and more, whilst keeping the three most important things in mind in whatever I did; ethics, integrity, and passion. Not only have these skills helped me on the pitch, but they are skills which I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life, outside of football.

And now, on to the negative points…

In contrast to what I said before, I have now reached a point where my enthusiasm has withered drastically. Not for the sport, of course, and not for refereeing either. It’s because of the people involved in the sport (coaches and players alike), and several members/groups in the Malta Football Association, that my enthusiasm has dwindled. In the past three years, I’ve realised that there is no hope of improvement in this sport, in Malta. Not currently, at least. If we seriously want to see change, a major cleanup is needed, starting from the way things are run at the very top, all the way down to the development and coaching of players in football clubs. But more on that some other time (again, keeping ethics in mind).

It is rather disappointing that, whenever I am appointed to a match nowadays, not only am I slightly nervous because of the game itself and of wanting to perform well, but also out of fear of my own life. Yes, you read that well. I am actually scared of being seriously hurt (or worse) whenever I have a football match. I feel completely unsafe in my place of work. I go out onto the field of play to do my job to the best of my ability, and I don’t know if I’ll return back home in one piece, or with a broken jaw or a black eye. Yes, the current situation is that bad. And what’s being done in order to minimise the possibility of something like this from happening? Absolutely f**k all. No matter how much us referees speak up, though, it all seems to fall on deaf ears. The phrase we often use – “expect the unexpected” – can now be changed to: “Nothing is unexpected”. That is the sad reality.

With all this said, nothing will ever change the way I feel about this beautiful sport. It is because I don’t want to see football go to sh*t that I get so worked up whenever a bad incident happens. Certain people, though, still choose to call me a “negative person”. But that’s their opinion, and they have every right to it.

As the 2017/18 season soon draws to a close, I would like to wish my colleagues all the best for the remaining couple of hard-working months ahead. Remember to stay strong, and keep focused!

In my case, the end of my refereeing career seems to be inching closer and closer, as time passes. Until then, however, I still look forward to more appointments and experiences.

– Preston

My Literary Revolution

I’ll never forget the day when my reading interests took a whole new different turn.

It was a Saturday, I remember, back in 2010. The first year of my teens.

I was at my dad’s apartment, standing in front of our long, wooden bookshelf, in the living room – our literary Mecca. I held two books in my hand, exchanging glances from one to the other, ruminating which one to read next.

The choice was between one of my short, young adult books – with illustrations on a page every now and then, and a simple plot – and this fairly new book which had been sitting in my bookshelf at my mother’s place for about a year. This big book, however, had nothing but text on all of its six-hundred-and-sixty-something pages. It was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

I remember the novel’s cover had really struck me; the overall “ancient” look to it, the shiny copper wording of the title, the image of a beautifully lit up Capitol Hill, and this brass key, aflame, bearing a mysterious symbol at the end of it. It piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know more. So, I opted for a change.

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And what a drastic change it was, I must say! Now, looking at it from a metaphorical perspective, it was this same key which opened a doorway to a whole new world for me.

The Lost Symbol wasn’t just another ordinary book; it introduced me to the intriguing and secretive world of Freemasonry, and I actually had to do research about what I was reading to help me visualise and immerse myself further in the story. Compared to other books I’d read in the past, The Lost Symbol seemed like an escape from reality; a true adventure. And I’ve been conducting the same “exercises” ever since, whenever I read. I analyse, research, take notes, and delve deep into whatever I’m reading. Which is why it can take me months to properly read (dissect, more like) a book, sometimes.

In a way, I feel forever indebted to Mr. Brown for broadening my horizons with his excellent, well-researched writing, making his page-turning novels always such a thrilling and exciting read.

– Preston

My Major 2018 Book Haul (so far)!

Origin by Dan Brown – Following the worldwide success of Inferno, back in 2013, this is the new novel in the Robert Langdon series, by one of my favourite authors of all time. The intrepid Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology is back for another intriguing adventure, this time set in Spain. I got this hardback first edition beauty for a really good (and discounted) price at Chapters, when I was in Canada.

My Struggle (books 1 – 5) by Karle Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett – Dubbed “the Norwegian Proust” by many readers and critics, I had the pleasure of reading more about this guy during my stay in Canada, last month. I watched numerous interviews of his on YouTube, and after my former English teacher recommended him to me, I knew I just had to give his books a try. The title of his six-volume series, My Struggle – or Min Kamp in Norwegian – caused much controversy since it is similar to that of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical novel; Mein Kampf. I got books 4 and 5 from Chapters in Mississauga, and bought the other two online, secondhand, for a good price, from AbeBooks and Book Depository. And I’ll be getting book number 3 in the coming days, too.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – In 1967, four years before William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist took the world by storm, Rosemary’s Baby hit the bookshelves. The commercial success of the novel helped launch a “horror boom”, where horror fiction would achieve enormous commercial success. It is Levin’s second published book, and it has sold over 4 million copies, making it the top bestselling horror novel of the 1960s.

The Outsider by Albert Camus – Also referred to as The Stranger, this was a gift from my dad after we spent a few days discussing the book and its protagonist. Originally written in French titled L’Étranger, the philosophical novel has long been considered a classic of 20th-century literature. Albeit a short book, this should prove to be a very exciting and intriguing read, as I see similarities between my personality and that of Meursault’s. Therefore, I’m sure that there will be a lot to analyse. But more on that topic some other time, in my review…

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – I call this my bargain buy. This classic novel cost me a mere 50 cents, from the Mississauga Central  Library. And it even has the first edition cover! What better a deal can you get?! First published in 1951, originally for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.

I’ll end this post with a rather apropos quote that my father and I had come up with, once:

“One can never have too many books.”

– Preston

Did You Know?

According to the Guinness World Records, the longest novel in the world is À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust.

It contains an estimated 9,609,000 characters (each letter counts as one character. Spaces are also counted, as one character each).

The title translates to “Remembrance of Things Past” – or “In Search of Lost Time”.

Proust produced the first volume of his 7-volume masterpiece in 1912. It was first published in 1913.

The second part of his work won international awards as soon as it was published and with them, an international reputation.

Words of the Day

misconstrue (verb) – interpret (a person’s words or actions) wrongly; misunderstand

Example: Many readers misconstrued the advertisement to mean that they would get something for nothing, but they were disappointed when the salesman pointed out the fine print.

dither (verb) – be indecisive; hesitant

Example: Terry tends to dither when someone asks him where to have lunch, as he is never able to decide on a restaurant.

Blog Collaboration With Taleoftwobloggers – Part 2

And here, ladies and gents, is the second part of my blog-interview collaboration with the talented pair at Taleoftwobloggers!

 

1. What would be your pro-travel tip?

My pro travel trip is to plan ahead, it’s better to spend a bit more money on
central accommodation rather than having a cheaper stay and you’d have lots
of travel, especially if time is of the essence. Whilst an itinerary is good, don’t
restrict yourself. (S)

Always try to pack light; I know that I am no one to judge, but this one is very true. I
like to have everything organized before I travel abroad because I find myself getting
slightly flustered when it comes to the unknown. Although, with that being
said, I do like having a spontaneous adventure every once in a while. I also prefer to
find an accommodation which is central so that I wouldn’t have to waste too much
time and money to get to the attractions. (A)

2. Where’s your favourite place in Malta?

My favourite place is Top of the World in Gharghur! It’s got the most beautiful
views, it’s quiet, and there’s quite a nice walk to do. (S)

Even though I haven’t really explored most of Malta (since I don’t drive), I’d have to
admit that my favourite place is in fact Marsascala because of the number of
restaurants, and of course, the relaxing breeze. I remember my mother used to take
me to playground quite often back when I was about six years old, and I grew up
loving the place too much. (A)

3. Favourite country?

I’ve been to quite a number of countries, my favourite country is England
specifically the city of London. Any other favourite city/country will have to
come second place to London. So as not to cheat I would say either Holland
(Amsterdam), Poland (Krakow), Czech Republic (Prague), Norway (Oslo) or
Germany (Berlin). (S)

To be honest with you, I have only travelled to a handful of countries so far, so I can’t
really say that I have experienced a lot. However, London has a very special place in
my heart; no thanks to Sarah for getting me addicted! It is honestly one of those
places that I never really get bored of visiting – like it’s the first time I’m travelling there
every time I visit. (A)

4. Favourite YouTube Channel?

Sophdoesnails definitely! (S)

I enjoy watching Sophdoesnails, Glam&Gore, and Katrin Berndt. The first one is a
beauty channel, second one is an SFX makeup channel (mostly), and the last one is
about life and beauty. (A)

5. What’s the biggest societal pressure you find yourself facing?

That just because I’m a certain age I should be doing certain things. (S)

Well, to be quite honest with you, the thing that’s pressuring me the most at the
moment is the fact that I’m soon going to reach the end of my course and so the
pressure to find a full-time job is super high at the moment. I have said to myself that
since I finish in May, that I would first take a break and actually allow myself to enjoy
summer (because I deserve it), then look for a full-time job, but I guess that without
knowing, I’m already panicking about the fact that most of my course mates would
already probably be working by then. Again, such irrational worries. (A)

6. What’s your ideal type of date?

Food. Any food. Followed by some chill time, maybe a walk, or a bottle of wine
and some gossip. Depends really if it’s a “first date” type of date, or if you’re in
a relationship. (S)

If there is food involved, then I am definitely going to like the idea. I don’t go on too
many dates but if there’s anything that really wins me over, it is simplicity. It’s the
thought that counts, I think. Of course, if you feel like taking me out to a fancy sushi
restaurant, then I’m surely not complaining! (A)

7. What are your plans this Valentine’s Day?

I had plans but University of Malta thought otherwise, so back to the drawing
bench! (S)

I’m single, so umm… no plans, obviously, right? (A)

 

A big thank you goes to Abigail and Sarah, once again, for taking a keen interest and agreeing to do this collaboration with me!

I found this to be a very interesting exercise, and it was a pleasure to get to know the two of you more! I certainly look forward to the possibility of having further blog collaborations in the future. Write on, ladies!

Dear readers and fellow followers, be sure to check out my answers to their first set of questions by clicking on this link. Part two will be uploaded soon.

– Preston

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