26 Mar

Hussar!

Chapter 5 is done. Well.. the first draft for my supervisor. I also did a new project plan and GANTT chart and I am on course for a first full draft by end May, for both my supervisors to read over the summer. I feel a Viva in October is viable if what I have drafted passes muster. Tomorrow I shall skip back to Chapter 4 and the related dataset, that needs revisiting. I have a meeting with a stats colleague on the 7th that will help review that.

As a mind reset I am watching some Grimm, always good fun. Then off to the Northumberland Hussar!

28 Feb

Slow Day

Had to re-read my work, some sub editing, and drew a good Framework graphic, but not many actual words scribed before intellect fled me.

Watched the Team on More 4, ambitious Belgian-Danish-German cop team up show. Seen 2 episodes.

Need to draw a more milestone based project plan for PhD tomorrow and crunch some page count.

24 Nov

300

I hate 300. I hate it with a passion that all my liberal friends find a little embarrassing and unreasonable. Well I am proud to say that David Brin hates it too, and I’d like you to read with me his blog. This is why I hate 300, I hate Sparta and I hate the adulation of a society that ranks along with the Nazis for sheer evil, but extended over a lot longer time.

Remember that next time you want to emulate the bastards in a rpg..

Roll over, Frank Miller: or why the Occupy Wall Street kids are better than #$%! Spartans

11 Aug

Lord of the Rings Stage Show

Matt, Ann and I went to see the Lord of the Rings Stage Show at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night and it was great!
Granted to fit the LOTR into 3 hours there is some compacting, conflating and most dramatically Theoden and Denethor are rolled into one and the Battle at Helms Deep with the Battle at Minas Tirith, but it works and is great. It is more about acting than singing, although there are some great songs and Galadriel is enchanting, but this is the best fantasy stage show I have seen, I loved it, Matt liked it but was niggled by the Theoden-Denethor thing and Ann who is not a fantasy fan at all thought it was absolutely great.

You may see some mixed reviews, and I have to say I suspect they are from critics going and expecting a Miss Saigon or a Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which this is not. For those of you with multichannel TV look out for a documentary on the show’s staging on Nat Geographic and for those that saw the Hobbit in Leeds, this is better and a little lighter. It would suit kids from 8 upwards easily, the hobbits always make it fun, and the highpoints for me? Galadriel, Gollum and Sam..

http://www.lotr.com/home.php

31 May

Films

I have recently watched a big wodge of movies as I travel Europe. Oh the joys of laptops and mpeg decryption and PayTV in hotels. I watched Fun with Dick and Jane last night which was okay-ish, nothing wrong with it but nothing to get very excited about. I then watched Alien Autopsy which proved that Ant and Dec can still act, and that the quirky Brit. comedy still has legs. On the other hand it also didn’t set the world on fire, so so-so. I am now on a train watching Night At The Museum which, from the cast list, could be great.. or dire. Let’s all pause and wait until I watch it and tell you in the next sentence..

It was pretty good. CGI family fun. Great to see Dick van Dyke as the baddie. Stiller still never convinces me in a straight role. Rick Gervais is dull, Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson have a lot of fun as Roman and Cowboy.

04 Apr

Brothers Grimm

On the other hand, I watched the Brothers Grimm on Sky today and frankly this was a fantast for me. Slightly mad, wondefully imagined and realised, it mixes and matches fairy tales into a great tale mixing fantasy and the eponymous brothers. If you like rich complex work and liked Time Bandits or The Fisher King then try this.. oh and Matt Damon acts, I mean really acts..

03 Apr

300

I saw 300 at the weekend. I had so wanted to see if that I was deeply disappointed.

I thought it was a storyboard with almost no flow, but a series of muscular poses against CGI backdrops. I felt the portrayal of Spartans as defenders of Western civilization, whilst perhaps true, was unnuanced by the fact that Sparta was a hideous military aristocracy with the majority of the citizenship kept in perpetual serfdom. Xerxes grandad Cyrus is hailed as the first person to espouse human rights and yet the Persian Empire is shown as oppressors. The fact that the Thespians, who stayed with the Spartans for the last stand, were ignored, that the Athenian fleet fighting a sea battle to block the Persian fleet was ignored was all unhelpful. The simple fact that the Spartans and Athenians worked together to plan the blocking manoeuvre and that none of the shit about the ephors (who did exist then but certainly were not lascivious old priests) was true could have been forgiven but wasn’t great. Now, I rarely sympathise with the Iranian regime and I am not going to start now (Holocaust Denial Conference anyone) but the depiction of the Persians was insulting on so many levels. Why were the only baddies black or brown people? Why were the pederast Spartans not depicted as such but the Persians as perverts and freaks? Why does handicapped or disfigured equal evil in this film?

Now I can cope with a lot of artistic licence and I am sure that the argument that this is a narrative told utterly from a Spartan point of view might explain this appaling bias, but frankly does it really excuse making a film that Joseph Goebbels would applaud and Riefenstahl could have made?

It is fascist art, and I didn’t like it. 🙁

Sadly my friend gspearing and I disagreed and I may have put his nose out of joint with my vehemence, which was in no way aimed at him.

27 Mar

1984 and Brave New World

I read George Orwell‘s 1984 again last week. I enjoyed it greatly, but it is a work of it’s day and indeed the immediate past at the time of writing (1949). It is the twisting of truth that strikes you the most now, indeed the manipulation of people and society by media and doublethink is the key message for me.

On the other hand I also read Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, and that does strike me as a piece of actual prophesy. The nature of the society, with Fordism (or mass production) as the key driver to a society kept compliant on drugs and sex, has echoes on our Western world of the early 21st century.

Not that it is necessarily a dystopia. I am not at all sure Huxley thought it was wholly dystopian, but it definitely separates mankind from the mystical, and that was key for Huxley. For me? Well I quite liked the place as long as I could be an Alpha or Beta..

I am going to carry on having a look at this prophetic book idea, so have ordered Zamyatin‘s We which is apparently the book that influenced Orwell and Huxley, although Huxley is obviously satirising Wells utopianism (which is best seen in The Shape of Things To Come and before in other works.

I also read Ian Fleming‘s Casino Royale, and then we watched the recent film version. I have to say that the novel shows and much grimmer Bond, not as sure or smooth as the films to date, and the film did an excellent job of capturing that feel. Ann and Matt were not impressed, but I like this grittier Bond. Oddly it is in fact the original.

15 Sep

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

I am watching, have almost watched, Laputa: Castle in the Sky from Studio Ghibli. Like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke this is a delightful and charming  animation.  I watched all  three on Film Four, now blissfully free if you can stand advertisments, which I can.

I’ve been getting back a good collection of medium format slides and negatives back from my feast of using the Fuji GA645zi. There’s nothing as great as a lovely MF slide, that you can hold up to the window and appreciate. With my scanner I can get some lovely and far too huge scans.

I also got back the roll of 120 6×6 that I put through the Zeiss Nettar I bought for 10 GBP in Shrewsbury. The results are quite soft, but that has a certain charm and I think I shall be shooting a few more rolls through the sweet folding bellows baby. Pics on flickr to follow.

Other than that I’m as cranky as hell.

04 Sep

Anime

I have recently watched two Studio Ghibli anime films on FilmFour and have revised my dismissive view. Princess Mononoke is simply the most sublime fantasy cartoon I have ever seen. Kiki’s Delivery Service is charming and captures the feel of France in the 50s. I have Laputa’s Castle In the Air stacked up to watch too.

One of my favourite anime films is Metropolis, the Japanese one..
This also captures a Belgian animation feel and despite it’s dystopian underworld and Elyssian above world, doesn’t feel at all like a cyber or steam punk genre film (which it isn’t).

I have a rather up and down experience with anime. I loved Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell and Akira, but there have been some very poor excuses for entertainment in between. It’s like a lot of niche genres, people get so excited that they lose all critical ability and recommend anything just because it’s Japanese and a cartoon for adults.

Which anime have you loved or hated?