Friday, May 29, 2009

Any excuse to run the Boob Story

(editorial insert before the rest of the post - this one started laughy and then dived foot-in-mouth into heavy stuff - I think this Reg story touched a nerve!)

One of my daily reads is The Register. They're an online techie news website that goes for the highly cynical point of view. But they also have a lot of fun with the news they're reporting.

Latest Hottie topic is this one on the tennis player Simona Halep. It's a curious story for a couple of reasons (ok, mebbe for more than a pair).

There's more than two good reasons why cosmetic surgery's been developed. I've actually benefitted from it myself in the past in what I refer to now as Nose Job Number Two. (The second was surgical, the first was agricultural.) I know what she's getting at too, from experience with trying to move my body fast while the ballast around my middle just wants to stay put.

(I checked the video and yep, she's got a great pair of reasons why she thinks she needs this done)
(Erm ... I only watched about a minute of the 5 they have on there ... honest !)

(ok, ok - the Whack-Thud was interfering with the Snow Patrol album I have on)

Doh - I think I digressed there ... Yep. I can see why she'd want to have breast reduction surgery in order to get more comfort (they must hurt!) and speed around the court but all my brain is seeing is a young girl looking to have unnecessary surgery performed that amounts to not much more than a mutilation. Mind you, the Amazons used to do something like it and I wouldn't argue with them.

Maybe there's other ways to tackle it, like different emphasis in the diet or using different gear to keep them under control. I'm a bloke, so I'll apologise for not being familiar with the ways the ladies stay abreast of this issue. My ballast problem (ok, when in an honest moment I'll admit I kinda look pregnant) could be dealt with by surgery (little bit of lipo :-) but a far more effective way of tackling it would be to balance my diet and do rather more exercise than I do now.

Plastic surgery's a necessary option for those for who it was intended. Like me with a nose which I had trouble breathing through or the lady who was in the news recently having had a full face transplant. That lady will now be looking forward to a future that's benefitted from the lessons learned in the rest of the plastic surgery field.

There's also the case of the lady who had post-mastectomy pictures removed from Facebook (big long link to BBC!), because Facebook deemed them "sexual and abusive". I caught this story on Radio 5 this morning and I think I heard (was driving, my attention snaps on and snaps off as required by the road) that she was considering cosmetic surgery in the future. From the limited amount I know of the implications of breast cancer, it's to restore confidence. From how she sounded on the radio, I don't think she needed that confidence boost :-)

And that shows - beauty isn't just what's on the surface. Some of the most beautiful people I know do not conform to the Hollywood Ideal or the Catwalk look. Their beauty is in what's inside. How they act, how they move, how they treat other people. Whether they work for their figure or get cursed with SkinnyGenes. I know someone who's a little bigger than she wants to be and despite all the work she's putting in, is having trouble reducing to the size she thinks she should be. Do I think she's fat ? Definitely not - she's healthy. Do I think the exercise makes her drop dead gorgeous ? Yep. The exercise enhances coordination and fluidity of movement. And she's blessed with a very warm personality too.

Ok - maybe I'd better get back to the original thing ... It raises the "what's really necessary?" question. I'll quite happily support plastic surgery to correct things like my battered nose or to give a lady recovering from major surgery the confidence she needs to help her fight for health. But cutting off bits to help someone run around a tennis court faster seems both rather unnecessary and a dangerous shortcut that'll damage a healthy young body.

However, it's her choice. From what I've put above, you'll probably gather that I'd advise a different course of action but it isn't my body that would be under the knife. (I have a few people trying to get me to go in to get my shoulder sorted - it hasn't happened yet partly cos I hate hospitals)

Before the PS, I'll add in another note :-) I usually support Yorkshire cricket because my ancestry is up there. Getting to like Somerset too cos they're locals (I almost put yokels ;-). I've got my fingers crossed for Middlesex County Cricket Club this year, who have adopted Pink as part of their One Day game uniform in support of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

Cancer in all of its forms is a vicious illness. I knew someone my age who disappeared from work for about 4 months. We didn't know why, he just stopped answering the "Lunch Mob" emails. He came back after a few months and showed us his scars. My initial thought was "crikey, what happened to the shark that did that to you ?" With what they'd cut, it must have been touch and go there. It was good to see him back to his old bouncy self, albeit with the experience shadow that comes with a brush with death. He left the place I work at to move back to nearer his family. Hope he's still around and causing trouble :-)

Talking of cricket - the Yorkshire v Lancashire game is starting, so it's time for me to hit "Publish Post"

PS I've put a lot of cliches in that would get me in trouble with the Equality and Diversity people - I really couldn't resist and all cliches are meant in jest :-) But I have gone far deeper into the Breast Cancer angle than I originally intended. Maybe it's cos I'm keeping an eye out for news about a couple of people ? :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grab the hard hats ...

... It's Twenty20 season again :-)

After watching England batter the West Indies over the weekend, I'm moving into seeing my Going Home Times from work get dominated by the Twenty20 cup. Tonight's game is between Somerset and Warwickshire and we're already seeing the Howitzers make life dangerous for the crowd. They're playing at Taunton which is actually not too far away. Surprised they've got a game on cos it's been quite damp here.

Don't know if I'll actually get to see a game this year, as the Yorkshire games aren't on at convenient times for the family to go see one. I'm not too far from the Gloucestershire ground but for various reasons I won't be going to a game there. (Let's just say I get irritated when ignored and the Gloucestershire people completely ignored the works cricket club when we tried to organise a second season of pre-season nets there)

So :
Tonight - Somerset v Warwickshire, got my fingers crossed for Somerset as the local team, although I do keep an eye on Warwickshire cos I was born there.
Tomorrow - 7pm start, so I raid Sainsburys before the game starts.
Friday - Yorkshire v Lancashire - go Yorkshire !

And then we have two ICC World Twenty20 competitions, one for the men and another for the ladies. Looking forward to it, although the recorder in my cable TV box may end up screaming for mercy :-)

Curious how I'm looking forward to watching as much of the English and World Twenty20 games as I can but had almost total lack of interest in the IPL games I could have seen. I guess it's how "connected" you feel with the teams on show. I've followed the English leagues for a couple of decades now but know nearly nothing about the artificially set up IPL teams.

Got an interesting combination on show at the moment. The bowler's a fella called Max Waller who bowls legspin, with a livewire keeper called Craig Kieswetter. Legspin is a bowling discipline that is incredibly difficult to pull off. Whereas normal offspin gives just two options - turn in and no turn - legspin opens up incredible variation. The standard delivery will move in a bit in the air before turning away but with not much change in the bowling action you can do one that goes in (googly) and one that stays straight. Even more dangerous is the topspinner, which doesn't just go straight, it speeds up after bouncing. Very nasty. I caught out my village team skipper with one while messing around at the end of practice. I was practicing my spinners, he was looking to whack 'em. Out comes the topspinner, skipper goes for a Big Whack, ball rolls ... Old cliche is "You Miss, I Hit" and the stumps rattle.

I used to be able to bowl the basic legspin action but couldn't get it to do much more than turn in (googlies). So my offspin was a far better thing to develop as I could get that to turn in with accuracy and also had a vicious topspinner (it had a tendency to roll :-). I also had a couple of other weapons with my spin bowling. Never really used that in a game though cos my medium pace swing bowling was far more effective.

Those are days long gone now though, as my long term shoulder injury means bowling is not a good idea now. I can move through the action but there's a blockage in there that means :
a) it hurts ! (which means more damage is being done)
b) no accuracy whatsoever
It started out with my shoulder dislocation but I reckon it got finished off by me doing a Typical Bloke by not asking for help when installing my 28" CRT telly a few years ago. Yep - not particularly strong or big person attempting to drag a big telly out of it box and put it on a stand. (I'm also blonde and occasionally do Dumb Blonde things)

The other fella is the keeper, who's pulled off a couple of excellent stumpings in this game. With the indoor matches (see Blog Part 1 for some match reports :-) I used to do the wicket keeper's job as well as doing the captain thing and a little bowling. Keepers are always in the game and it's a fun job. Their role is to stand behind the stumps and catch anything that gets past the batsmen. They look to take catches but if the batsman isn't careful, they'll stump them. Fast reactions essential (or you miss things and it hurts less to catch cricket balls than drop them).

I used to be good enough in the indoor games to turn game results around with more than my fair share of stumpings, although I rarely did that job in outdoor games. I preferred to terrorize batsmen with speedy fielding from reasonably close. I'm a big too fat though nowadays to do much of that.

Hey ! I'm missing the game and it's almost half time ... One advantage of cricket watching is that it doesn't demand your full attention all of the time as you wait for something to happen. Instead, you can tap away at a keyboard for a while and look up as the bowler is running in. It's similar with baseball, look up when the pitcher throws, look away when a new hitter is coming out. So even though the game has inspired this post, I've not missed any of it :-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More music !

One of my favourite themes is the music post, not done one for a little while. I like doing them because it gets me hunting Youtube for videos. I listen to a lot via iTunes, although that'll slacken off a little over the next few months because the cricket season will get me watching the telly instead of having a listen.

So what have I been listening to ? Here goes and as usual, lots of Youtube links :

I have a weakness for ladies with long dark hair and Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes really does fit that stereotype. Excellent voice too. Here's an excerpt from a Later show of them doing Sleep Alone.

Time for another couple of snippets from Later, which had two ladies on last week, Lisa Hannigan and Little Boots (aka Victoria Hesketh). If you go by the stereotype, I'd have been looking to find out more about Lisa Hannigan. Yep, pretty with long dark hair and while her voice isn't as good as Natasha Khan's, it's still enchanting. Here's Lisa Hannigan's I Don't Know from Later Live. It didn't get to the Friday night Later show, which is a shame because the two tracks that did weren't as good. It's as if she got blown away by the other one who caught my eye on Later. Lots of potential here, needs more confidence to know that she is pretty good. The album's still a little more than I'd like to spend so I'll be waiting on this one.

Who's the other Later show lady ? Well, there were actually 3 ladies on Later, Lisa Hannigan, Annie Lennox and Little Boots. I do like some of the tracks that Annie Lennox and Eurythmics came out with but there's a phrase that says "retire gracefully". And that's all I'll say about Annie Lennox ... Little Boots on the other hand is just emerging into the pop scene and Remedy is one track from Later.

And because I think she's so good and because this one's been rattling in my head since I first heard it, here's Boyfriend. There's plenty more too at LittleBootsVideos. Incredible voice here and I'll be getting the album when it gets released in a couple of weeks.

Ok - to the complete surprise of all who know me, that's Sleepypete ignoring the highly cute dark haired girl to go chasing the blond one.

Who else has been gracing the playlist lately then ?

Been pleasantly surprised by Katie Melua and KT Tunstall, although I'm not too sure how much more Katie Melua I'll be buying. Bit bland ... although Shy Boy which I've linked in the last sentence touches a bit of my soul. On the other hand, KT Tunstall will keep me interested cos of the energy she injects into songs like Saving My Face.

Oh dear - that's the hair stereotype coming in again ... So to show I really go by the voice instead of the hair, here's a track from Lene Marlin's latest album. There's more available too from LeneMarlinTV on Youtube. And while I'm on incredible voices, here's Alison Goldfrapp singing Utopia. Truly incredible voice here.

Right - time to close with "something completely different". I've had this double album for quite some time now but haven't listened to it enough. The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells has spawned quite a bit in the scifi world but this is one of the highlights. Thunderchild from the Jeff Wayne musical version.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Page turning - Orion

I've kinda hit a wall with the games lately, just not had the energy or the interest to play them too much. So what have I been getting up to instead ?

Hmm. Music and books. Lots of books. I'm currently re-reading some older books while the music is playing away in the background. I've been enjoying the cable TV box too :-) So what's the 4 above ?

Ben Bova was a favourite author of mine a good few years ago now. Think teenage years. He's written a few series, with the Mars and Orion (above) books probably being his best. Mars is good for its technical aspects, which have a slightly different take on things to what's in Kim Stanley Robinson's 2/3 excellent Mars series. There's actually 5 books in the Orion series, although I give the Star Trek Nemesis treatment to one of them (it's bad, if I ignore it then it didn't happen).

Orion - These books are centred around the better-than-human protagonist, Orion. He's inserted into several crucial nexuses (plural nexus? nexii ? I give up :-) in time, where human civilisation could have gone one way or the other. Orion has his Enemy, in the form of the dark, brooding borderline insane Ahriman. He's put in various situations by Creators, who are the equivalent of gods, although that's really on the level of how a Stone Age person would view a wielder of today's high technology.

This first book has Orion meeting up with fusion power, the Mongols, Neolithic hunter gatherers and the emergence from the Ice Age. At each turn, he's trying to thwart his enemy Ahriman, who is looking to either eliminate humanity or divert it into stagnation. If civilisation stagnates, then the breakthroughs required to bring about the Creators wouldn't happen, which translates as "Everything's gone horribly wrong".

A central theme of all of the Orion books is time travel : As soon as time travel is developed, the people with that power must go back in time to ensure their own survival. And to protect their own race against competitors ... Hence the first book, where Orion is trying to protect humans from the destructive intentions of Ahriman.

Vengeance of Orion - This one sees Orion washed up on the shores of Troy, as a thetes in the service of the Greeks who have the city under siege. It's an interesting take on a few high profile events that took place around that time :

The Siege of Troy
The fall of Jericho
Internecine struggles in Egypt

It also places the siege of Troy at about the same time as the Hittite Empire disappeared into civil war, which places a band of Hittite Engineers under the command of our boy Orion. Said Hittite engineers devise a siege tower, which they use to get over the walls into Troy. It's a decent interpretation of the Trojan Horse myth and is one of the few to make sense :-) I just can't believe that intelligent people would be so daft as to wheel in a big Wooden Horse with soldiers hidden inside. However a siege tower mistaken for a horse does make sense.

Orion then legs it from Troy with the girl :-) Yep, he's now on the run with Helen in tow. Next stop Jericho, which Orion's boss (Apollo aka Ormazd aka Christian God) wants him to help out the Israelites who are knocking on Jericho's door. The Biblical story with Jericho has it that the Israelites march around the city "making a joyous noise unto the Lord", with that eventually bringing the walls down. Orion's Hittite engineers are here again, with the Israelites' noise covering the sound of them tunnelling to undermine the walls.

It's simple interpretation of historical events, tying meanings to them that make far more sense than what's in the various myths. Although Christians will get upset by the portrayal of their god in this one, let's just say he's a little bit insane.

Orion in the Dying Time - Here we have Orion hunting dinosaurs. This is probably the best of the Orion books, as it has Orion starting to emerge into being a major player in the pantheon. There's another old favourite of mythology coming in here in the form of Set, a reptilian from the planet Shaydan which is orbiting the Sun's companion star Sheol.

Everyone's probably gone : Oooookay ... there :-) But it makes sense and works out with a little bit of artistic license applied. Good story this one, although it suffers from Bova not being the best of authors. He comes up with decent stories and is always well worth a read but he's not in the same league as Banks, Weber and Heinlein.

Orion and the Conqueror - Book 2 again but set in the time of Alexander the Great. I skip this one cos it's almost a copy of the second book and reduces Orion back to a point where I'm embarassed to read it. So I ignore it.

Orion Among The Stars - Final book, absolutely no historical context in this one :-) Orion's dropped on the planet Lunga with soldiers equipped with jump packs, laser guns and a liberal supply of nukes. And they're fighting feline people who eat their prisoners (Kzin ripoff?).

Orion gets his people into various scrapes in this one and as a central character, steadily continues the emergence that started in book 3. Good future scifi book this one, with the gloves taken off completely due to there being no need for historical context.

Ben Bova's better books tend to be based around historical events, whether they be distant past or very near future. Possibly his best is Millenium, which is the sequel to Kinsman, being set on the close of the 2nd millenium. However, the historical context falls away somewhat due to the central core of Millenium being the lunar colony fighting for indepence. Erm - we ain't got no lunar colony yet ...

So how do they come together ?

I've read the Orion series a few times now and always remember them being pretty decent. I've matured a fair bit as a reader though since reading these for the first time. I've also read better authors so I'm less forgiving with the content. Ben Bova's a decent author but can suffer from loss of focus in the narrative. That'd be when your imagination, fed by the words, can't quite keep up the picture of what's going on. David Weber's good at this, I can usually keep a picture in my mind of what he's getting up to with ships flying around at half light-speed. But Ben Bova's not quite up to that standard. Not quite top-quality English doesn't stop a book being an addictive page-turner.

Worth reading :-) For a few reasons :

Interpretation of myth, legend and geological history, whether this be Troy, Jericho, Neanderthals, why we hate snakes or just who was responsible for chucking the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Deities and pondering why all that's written about them seems to give the personality of spoilt children. The Greek pantheon gets a decent kicking but that's nothing compared to what the Golden One gets ...

I'm already piling through my next series, David Weber's Ashes of Empire. 3 books, 2 down so far and I'm just starting the third :-) More on that later after I've finished the third.

PS I was contemplating having Chinese tonight but looking outside ... Going out the door may lead to getting drowned and I'm too young to die.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trekkin' to the Cakes

Watched the new Star Trek today but before I get to that, special mention for a workmate :-)

One of the better traditions at work is that birthday people bring in cakes. We had something special today, courtesy of the people behind Celebration Cakes. Absolutely gorgeous :-) There's one definite sign of approval for Cakes - they go real fast. Plus one of my other colleagues now knows who he's going to for his wedding cake next year ...

Think I may have to stick around another year in hope of more from Celebration Cakes this time next year.

On to the show and I have to get one thing out of my system before saying what I thought of Star Trek :
(technophobes may want to skip a few paras)

Building a starship on the ground in a gravity well ?

NOOOOO !!!!!!!

And that's a banging of the fists on the bars of the cot in true teddy throwing style. Everyone knows the shape of the Enterprise, it's a saucer in front connected to a tubular secondary hull by a solid spine. There's a pair of smaller tubes connected to the secondary hull via a pair of pylons. Ok, you could build a construction of that shape and scale on the ground but it would break itself into bits when you tried to move it into space. Plus it's completely unnecessary and highly inefficient to build a space ship on the ground, as zero G makes it easier to fix the big bits together.

If you've ever built a model of something, it would be easier to glue things together if gravity wasn't pulling the unsupported part towards the floor. Newton's First Law : "An object remains at rest until acted upon by a force." On Earth, that force is gravity acting on everything with an equal and opposite force coming from the chair stopping you from falling through the floor. In orbit, gravity is still present and acting but the net effect is that everything is falling at the same rate. So when the astronaut on the Shuttle releases a pen, gravity is acting on the pen, the Shuttle (Orbiter) and the astronaut equally, so they appear to remain in the same place relative to each other.

So it's easier to build space craft in space. It'll be why anything manned we send to the Moon or Mars will be sent up in small bits and then assembled in orbit.

Ok - techie bit finished, Technophobes can come out of hiding now :-)

3 of the 4 Crazies who went to see this one really enjoyed it. Star Trek is a very old franchise now, with a huge history behind it. Loads of backstory throughout 5 series and now 10 movies (Nemesis never happened). So anyone adding anything to the Trek Universe has to cope with all that's been written before. This is partly where Wolverine fell down, because it had to fit with what had come before in the 3 recent XMen films. It's a very tough act to follow.

I have to agree with the critics (for a change :-) they've done a cracking job with this one. My geek and engineering sense is highly offended by that Ship-On-Ground scene but that's just a few seconds in a very decent movie. The best films don't take themselves too seriously and Simon Pegg adds in a good fun element as Scotty, although he is a bit comic relief next to the Big People in Spock, Kirk and Bones.

The storyline is a little weak but ... this is Trek. Storyline don't really matter, it's how the characters interact with each other. And seeing how many of the famous cliches can be fitted in without making it corny :-) Although I don't think I heard "you cannae break the laws o physics captin". Actually, the less said about the storyline the better as there are some big surprises in there.

Geek things I noticed that I liked :
Shuttles entered through airlocks, shuttle bay unpressurised - opening the doors up means all the air in there escapes and air in a spaceship is a precious commodity. Wasteful to pump it all out, blow it all back in every time you go on a jaunt. ST:Enterprise fails here.

Engineering spaces that looked like engineering spaces. Although there was a lot more open space in them than there should have been. Space is a luxury on a ship, you make the best of what's available.

Battered looking shuttles. This adds a little realism that wasn't really capable of being shown just a few years ago. Computer graphics technology has improved to the point where we can show highly detailed textures overlaid on to complex models. So instead of "just out the car wash" shiny spotless shuttles, we have battered and tarnished workhorse shuttle hulls. As is right for something that has to repeatedly bear the brunt of going into a dense gas at 15,000 mph. (That'd be atmospheric re-entry)

There are a few things that make no sense whatsoever though and must be consigned to the worst Technobabble bin. They give a bit of a "we're making this up as we go along" feel and detract from what's otherwise very much a fun film.

One I'll definitely be looking forward to getting on dvd (blu-ray?) so I can watch it on better gear than what's at the cinema :-)

Final verdict : 3 out of 4 sci-fi fans loved this movie.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Milestones and a little change

Been a little more stressful over the last few days, although I usually do my best to not allow the outside world to notice when I'm stressed. (The signs are usually me trying to stretch my back as it tenses up)

Couple of changes but mostly annual milestones getting passed.

One source of frustration over the last few months has been the satellite tv reception. As someone addicted to Input (as well as coffee and chocolate), I miss not being able to watch the stuff I want to watch. Plus there's the frustration of being prevented from doing something you want to do, due to mechanical or electrical mishap. Ok, in the case of the satellite, it's actually an agricultural mishap :-) due to the tree at the bottom of the garden blocking the signal. That's what I reckon has been going on, although I can't test it until I hook my skybox to someone else's dish.

So that's the first change, a bit of a mercy killing for the skybox. Oh, I also got two letters through the post today. The first was trying to get me to reactivate the repair plan for Sky, the second was acknowledging that I'd cancelled that plan. Left Hand vs Right Hand ?

All this meant I was a happy geek yesterday, tinkering with the new toy (Virgin V+ box) while watching England batter the West Indies in the cricket.

What's the verdict on the Virgin system ? Got to say, there's not actually that much useful information on their website. I had to go to wikipedia to find out how much recording capacity the box had. Well - coming from Sky Plus satellite, I've noticed :

Sharper picture. Things like being able to see a line around the box with the cricket score in it. Same telly, same SCART lead, different signal source. Could be because my Skybox was clapped out.
Skyplus is a friendlier system to operate - the menus are faster and smoother.
Recorded stuff planner. Again, Skyplus is better here, simply because it has oldest at the top. So you know what to watch first. Not usually much sense watching episode 5 before episode 1.
Tuners - Skyplus has 2, V+ has 3. Record 2 things, watch another.
HD ready - I'm still waiting for my TV to quit on me but it'll be good to be able to plug a new one up to the box in time. Sky either do normal TV or HD, the V+ is one box doing both. It ain't 1080p though, either 1080i or 720p.
On demand TV - Sky has Multistart but a satellite system just can't compete with cable for true On Demand. Managed to watch the first two episodes of Dexter season 3, which were amongst the victims of my clapped out Skybox.

Milestone 1 was performance appraisal, which comes around every year. I'm seen as fairly efficient at work (and do nothing to counter that notion, if "do nothing" is the right phrase !) but it's always a worry in case there's a surprise coming. I get on pretty well with my boss, 2nd RO and the blokes in charge of them and manage my work activities quite professionally. Although I could do with working on my absent mindedness, which can lead to me forgetting to do stuff.

And the second milestone is the one that was causing the most stress. One thing guaranteed every year is that I'll leave the MoT test for the car as late as possible. Well, it would have run out tomorrow, so I'm actually a little earlier than I have been in the past. The Focus I bought last year has done pretty well so far, the only sign of trouble was the brake warning light coming on. I put that down to a faulty sensor being loose, as the feedback from the car was :

Solid brake pedal - so no issues with low or poor brake fluid
Excellent braking performance - so I had brakes on all 4 wheels
Straight line braking - same with the potential of bad brakes
Trusty handbrake

Warning signs should be kept an eye on but sometimes it's a false alarm. And I've not seen that red light when I shouldn't have for a few months now. The MoT tester guy didn't spot anything wrong with the brakes today. Nothing wrong with anything actually, except for the trim thing I'm not fixing for superstitious reasons.

Every car has at least one problem - I'm very happy for that problem to be a bit of badly fitting trim :-) Much better that than the absent handbrake of the Puma.

Right - back to what I've been doing since I got bored with IPL cricket, book + music :-)

PS Last milestone - it's gotten warm enough that the butter is starting to spread easily. That's an important milestone for me each year, cos it means I can have buttery toast for breakfast. Or should that be toast with my butter ...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

To the movies

The Crazies have a habit of checking out the movies as they come out in the cinema. The latest couple have been Outlander and the new XMen film, Wolverine. So what did we think of them ?

Let's start with Outlander :

Spaceship crashes, survivor struggles to the shore. But ... there's a hitchhiker along who is Big N Nasty With Claws. There's the expression "as big as a house", well this alien nasty is as big as an office block. Oh - our survivor and his hitchhiker have landed at around the 7th century, in Viking territory.

We didn't have much in the way of expectations with this one but we ended up really enjoying it :-) There's a required minimum of scifi on show here but it doesn't get in the way of the story. Just enhances it by allowing the Monster vs Alien Sole Survivor vs Vikings setting to make sense. The plot is telegraphed all the way through but that doesn't obstruct you as you sit back and enjoy the show.

Good bit of Viking fun along the way, look out for the athletic drinking game. We also have the highly photogenic Sophia Myles playing a major role in this one, will be looking eagerly for more from this actress in the future :-)

Film 2 ! XMen Origins Wolverine

This one's the fourth XMen film made recently, so it's tied into the backstory built up in the 3 previous XMen films. So you'll know where Logan went Heavy Metal and you know who put the metal in him. This fills in the gaps in a kind of Filming By Numbers way.

A good film but I just didn't enjoy it as much as I did Outlander. (However, I was on a super-caffeine high when watching Outlander!)

Special mention for Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, who puts everything into this role. I fear he may get typecast as Fierce Warrior Guy, especially after he put a similarly high quality effort into his part in Defiance. Wolverine also gives a guest role to possibly my favourite Xman, Gambit. Gambit has a lot of style and you really, don't want to take him lightly. He'll kick your butt.

Sooo - Outlander, well made, paper thin but highly enjoyable slashermonster flick. Will be buying this one and attempting to not drool too much when Sophia Myles comes on screen.
Wolverine : highest quality effects, as you'd expect from a high profile blockbuster but it kinda left me cold. They attempt to put a lot of gags in which don't really come off due to most of the characters being pretty nasty pieces of work. With that sort around, humour doesn't really ring true.

Now watching the Final Fantasy movie from 2001 again, with a bit of Warcraft and Eve later. I'm an input addict, so I find it difficult when on my own just to sit and eat. At home, I'll munch while watching something. At work, I'll be peeking at the internet (lunchtime!) or giving my brain a bit of exercise on Spider Solitaire :-). And because my Skybox has decided to give up almost entirely now, watching something means DvDs ...

The Eve gang did something different last night, we went Alice and disappeared down the rabbit hole. Translation, we checked out a new bit of the game where you can peek in unexplored wormhole space. Curious :-) New things to see, new places to go and the same people to have a laugh with.

And it shares something with what I'm watching now - Final Fantasy was released in 2001 and there's the well known Arthur C Clarke/Stanley Kubrick collaboration called 2001. Well - the Eve wormholes have the signature feature of 2001, Big Black Monoliths. I took screenies and will hopefully post one later :-)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Showing the boot

A couple of posts down, there's one about Jargon Busting where I say something about the dangers of letting geeks and nerds close to coffee and cookies ... Let's just say :

It's a Bank Holiday (i.e. lots of time)
I have plentiful coffee and fizzy drinks with caffeine
I've laid in a supply of Cookies

Watch out world.

Before I jump in to the whole "boot" thing, quick word for The Rose :-). It was great to see her back in work this week, albeit just for 2 days. Small steps. Long term illness can really knock the stuffing out of people, so it's good to see them fighting back. There's a lot of strength here that's allowing this lady to bend and absorb the strain, rather than breaking like my Evil Ex used to do.

Caught the occasional small smile too, although my Big Grin (tm) tends to draw that out of people. (Big Grin is also handy for getting the canteen girls to put more into your sandwiches). Still looking forward to seeing the same Big Smile from The Rose that accompanied the raid on my birthday cakes last November :-)

Fingers crossed that recoveries continue here for The Rose and also CrazieQueen and Aginoth. CQ's just had knee surgery and Aginoth is still in to sort out his Psoriasis. I've been lucky, my only hospital overnighter was a few years ago to have my second nose job.

Ahh - always getting sidetracked by a pretty face, back to my plans for world domination.

People like Sky and other providers love you to join their service but don't seem quite so keen on you moving away. I've been trying to find info on cancellation procedure on Sky's site for a fair bit of today and have drawn an absolute blank. Think I've found something but I get the feeling I'll be ringing them up on Tuesday. Reason for giving them the boot ?

I've been steadily losing channels from my Sky box and it's got critical now because the channels I watch are going ... And the sport too. So hopefully Mr Branson and Virgin Media will come to my rescue before the start of the England v W Indies Test Match to give me an alternate way of watching the cricket. Probably Friday when they fit but won't be a big loss as most of the cricket happens when I'm working during the week, so I'd get back home with only half an hour or so of play left.

Other big reason is cost - it's more cash to do phone & internet with Virgin and TV with Sky than to have one place do all 3. And the reason for going to Sky in the first place has gone away, as Virgin now do a video recorder in their set top box.

Easy to join a subscription service but they don't make it easy when you want to say byebye. British Gas are still being a pain by ringing me at work, even though they've been referred to Ofcom for putting 13 silent messages on my answer phone at home in just one day. True ! And it would have been more if the "tape" hadn't run out.

One thing that going back to Virgin means is that I'll need to rearrange my network again, so no more stretching of cable across the floor when gaming.

Right - my glass is now empty, so it's time to refill. Which will take me dangerously close to the Coffee And Cookies.

Muahaha - see you later, if the world survives.