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Thursday, February 16, 2012

SKA'd for Life

Thursday nights are (as the regular readers know) reserved for the Wednesday/Thursday Club - or WTC for short - which is basically a bunch of like minded individuals who go to the pub and relieve themselves of the pressure of the working week by bitching about it and generally putting the world back into perspective. 

Last Thursday's WTC almost co-insided with one of our numbers birthday - namely Stan - who isn't actually called Stan - but then that's the whole point of nicknames. 

Sadly, the horrendous planning that's been happening of late has meant that I've had to get in the car and attempt to drive through the snow to my not-so-local office for the day on Friday. This means that I had to scale back my participation a little to account for an early start - ie: I had an (almost) early finish and a sensible amount of alcohol. 

That said, there was still plenty of frivolity, some banging Ska music - exactly how Stan likes it - and truth be told, how everyone likes it once it gets going.

He was also, the lucky recipient of the WTC Birthday Present, which has to be the most awful smelling aftershave you could ever hope not to sniff.

Img_4763
....and that was almost a week ago...  And then it was Friday and as I've eluded I had to take a trip up to my not-very-close office to have a handover from the Badman who is off galavanting around Wales (if such a thing is possible in Wales). 

The job is a very similar shape to one that he and I completed last year and so should be relatively straight forward.  However - I'd somehow forgotten just how stressful it is to not be fully in control of the destiny of those that work for you on a job like this.  We've reached Thursday afternoon now and I've got throughmost of the pain relatively unscathed.  I've spent some time explaining to Clive what's going on - nothing he didn't already know, but then he has to have a reason to be here.

As a team, we've had to deal with two changes that have effected more of the work than had been anticiapted. No matter how hard I might try to get things in a reasonable shape for the end of the week, you can almsot guarantee that some numpty somewhere is waiting behind a photocopier or desk, to jump out and stick thier proverbial cat amongst the pidgeons at the last minute.

I've also been reminded how obnoxious the rest of Europe can be - I'm amazed that I'd forgotten, but I can only surmise that it must be akin to the memories of people that are involved in very serious accidents, and that thankfully have no recollection of them whatsoever. I too have no recolection of ever having to deal with the people of Luxembourg....  it was that painful.

On top of that there's the commercial aspects of a job like this - and that is almost entirely about who is going to get paid for doing what - or not.  Extremely frustrating. But we carry on rewardless. It's enough to leave you scarred for life....   See What I did there ?  ;-D



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I bought a book...

Amazon.co.uk
 
 

Check out what I just bought. Freeeeeeeeeeeee!!  Always a good price.

 
 
 
 
Eerie Britain: Ten of Britain's Most Terrifying and Peculiar Real-Life Stories   Eerie Britain: Ten of Britain's Most Terrifying and Peculiar Real-Life Stories
by MB Forde
4.7 out of 5 stars (7 customer reviews)
Kindle Price:   £0.00

Available for download now

Learn more  

 
Just so you know, there's an awful lot of free stuff about on Amazon.  Keep your eyes peeled.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, February 09, 2012

New stuff and free stuff...

For you iPhone users here's a couple of apps that you should just go and get right now without paying any attention to the detail....

First of all click here: http://www.procamera-app.com/appstore to get yourself a copy of ProCamera. Especially now, because it's been discounted down to a mere 69p and it is *awesome*.

Image

I'm using it instead of the standard camera app as it has all the functionality you could want and more. In particular image stabilisation (something that always causes grief on small heldhelds) and Rapid Fire mode. These two combined will give you no end of improved shots. But these are just two of the gazillion features this app has. I really can't recommend it highly enough.


Now if there was just a way to launch it from the triple-click lock screen instead of the in-built app, I'd be over the moon.


The second one is even cheaper, because it's free! DataMan ( http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/dataman-free-real-time-data/id404513413?mt=8 )

Image

This clever little app will help you keep track of your data usage. Particularly useful if you're being hammered by you service provider for going over your usage limits.


My last piece of new stuff for you can be found here: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B006R5LUHO/

0image

and this one is a book for your Kindle (or Kindle app). Also free and gratis thanks to the good folks at Amazon. This is "The Other Daughter" by best selling author Rosen Trevithick. I can't say I've read it yet, but I have read the reviews....
Enjoy.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A "Meh" kind of day

Today sees me making a trip to my not particularly local office for some admin. Namely the return of my previous laptop.

I had enquired about keeping it - afterall a spare is always useful - and initially I was led to believe that this wouldn't be a problem, but you should never really trust an answer that starts "Um" because as I've discovered, it's invariably wrong. So it's all boxed up and going back to where ever it is we send these things. All I know is I have an appointment to drop it off. Simple.


I'm also paying a visit to the badman with whom I have an arrangement. Hopefully he'll furnish me with a cup of coffee.


Aside from that I have an afternoon of conference calls - so all in all a rather odd day - but sure to be entertaining.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

More Future Movies...

While I was looking for 2012 Movie releases, one of the things I stumbled upon was a list of UK based movies which are slated, if not scheduled for production in the coming days / weeks / months / years....   

Some of it made for really interesting reading, so I thought I'd share with you what I've learned.

 

2013

  • Richard Curtis - He of "BlackAdder" and "Love Actually" fame has his name down as the director of a Sci-Fi called "About Time"
  • Danny Boyle gets to direct James McAvoy in heist movie "Trance"
  • A Martin Scorcesse detective thriller "The Snowman"
  • "Alan Partridge: The Movie" - it could happen...
  • "Eddie the Eagle" with Rupert Grint. I'm already giggling.
  • A zombie outbreak plagues a small English town on Christmas Eve in "Slient Night of the Living Dead"
  • The stage musical hist the big screen in "Bombay Dreams"
  • "Bridget Jones' Baby" - nothing to say?? Thought not.
  • A remake of "Defence of the Realm"
  • and of course "Kieth Lemon: The Film" which can only be Bang Tidy.

Klemon

 

2014

  • Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg back together with Nick Frost for "The World's End"
  • A remake of horror movie "Child's Play"
  • A second "Dog Soldiers" movie - the werewolves and the army.

And finally - way out in the future.......

 

2015

  • A remake of Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits"
  • There are rumors of another version of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - although I'm not sure how they can improve on perfection. :-)

 

Well, there's some food for thought....Discuss.....



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, February 06, 2012

Super Sunday? Maudlin Monday..

The weekend is done and here we are back at good old Monday again.... Pah!


Didn't get half (or in fact any) of the snow in the quantities we were promised. It seems to have passed by slight to the north and east of us. We had a covering, closely followed by rain, which just left a mushy slushy mess. It didn't even have the decency to freeze said mess.

Image

Still, on the plus side, I'm not really sure what this week is going to bring, which always makes for an interesting time. The current project is at the low point of its natural ebb and flow, which means it gets quiet. However, we do have a customer meeting this week - in the US - and sadly, I'm not going. I'm not really sure why either.

Initially I thought, it was because I'd have to be covering for Pooh while he goes off to the Welsh rivers to play Pooh-Sticks (which, I'm reliably informed, it does) with 30% (you'll have to ask him if you want an explanation). However, it seems, in his infinite wisdom, that the decision maker has given that task to my current partner in crime..... who IS going to the US for the customer meeting. I mean..... Really? WTF?

There's some odd decisions being made of late and I think they could be connected to the depth of water the decision maker finds them-self in. In this case - it's somewhere akin to where the Titanic lies - the decision maker has been rearranging the deck chairs, the band has played on, and the water is very very cold and very very very deep. Time will tell, but be in no doubt, the decision maker is not Elizabeth Allen*.

I currently have a trip to my not-local office planned for later in the week, but like everything else in this job, that could change yet. Depends rather on the route we take... Iceberg!! Dead Ahead!!!!

The weekend also saw Mrs G and I mooching round a couple of show homes. More being nosey, than actively considering moving, but it did give us some food for thought and a couple of ideas. With Son moved out, and daughter saving, downsizing might get some consideration - but not for a while yet. Just looking.

I managed to catch most of the six nations rugby, and was particularly impressed with the Ireland/Wales game. I don't really do sport in any great depth, but I do enjoy the Rugby (it's probably the beer to be honest) but regardless, well done the Welsh, and more importantly well done the English. Shame about the scotchies - especially as my favourite brother-in-law and eldest nephew were both actually in the ground.

Finally, on the subject of sport, I did stay up late (for a school night) to catch some American Rugby - or football, as they somewhat mysteriously call it. Super Bowl 46 with the New England something's and the New York something else's. As you can tell, I don't pretend to know the first thing about this game. It looks like rugby with extra padding. It isn't though.

It is, however, Spectacular with a capital S. Well done to the Giants.

Stay safe and cheer up. ;-)

* My sister, on the other hand, is.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, February 05, 2012

To Infinity..... Well, oblivion.

One of the things I managed to do this weekend was a bit of a look into the future of movies showing up this year.  As we know from last years "2012", this is the year that we will all disappear into oblivion, so a look at hollywood's offerings is always a bit of a laugh and quite often we can find some rock solid rubbish on the horizon.  Anyway, here's a few of the delights that await us in the year that the world will allegedly end.

We're about to get "I am Bruce Lee" which is a documentary about the life of the Kung fu king and star of half a dozen martial arts movies of the 60's and 70's. Then there's "Chronicle" about high school kids with superpowers that learn how to abuse them closely followed by another Ghost Rider ("Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance") movie, with Nicholas "horse face" Cage back on a fiery motorbike.

"John Carter" will arrive in March, which tells the story of epic battles on, of all places, Mars. We were also supposed to see more of Nicholas Cage in "Seeking Justice" as a vigilante protecting his wife, but somehow or other that actually arrived in November - what's all that about?. "Wrath of the Titans" with Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes will no doubt be more leather bound fighting.

In April, we'll get the animation "Dorothy of Oz" as written by the great grandson of the original author of the Wizard of Oz. Might be interesting.  Then there's the eagerly anticipated "Iron Sky". Think the Nazi's in Antarctic, with a base on the dark side of the moon.  Promising nonsense. Sadly, we also have "Titanic 3D" and "Scary Movie 5" ('nuff said), although Eddie Murphy in "A Thousand Words" might be bearable.

May will see the Avengers finally arrive after the build up from the other Marvel comic films. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was also scheduled for May, but I suspect that might arrive sooner, and will be one to watch. Tim Burton's vampire film, "Dark Shadows" followed by the film of the game "Battleship". This apparently involves aliens - give me strength - and yet more aliens in "Men in Black 3". On the higher cerebral plane, Wes Craven's Scouting movie "Moonrise Kingdom" looks promising.
June and the summer will be with us, so that means blockbusters...  Hmmm..  "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" - really??  How many vampire movies do we need? " Snow White and the Huntsman", which no doubt is a result of last year's "Red Riding Hood", rebooted into a more slasher/horror genre. Let's hope that "Madagascar 3" and "Prometheus" give us something better. Prometheus in particular as it's Ridley Scott's new Sci-Fi. What I've seen makes it look like a scaled up version of his original "Alien", but I'm hoping for greatness, and he rarely dissapoints.

July's offerings are of course bigger. "The Amazing Spiderman" and at long last, "The Dark Knight Rises", the latter of which is bound to be the BIG movie of the year, not least because of it's enormous IMAX release. We'll also get yet another "Ice Age" movie and a bit of John Travolta in weed-Movie "Savages".

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne doesn't return in August, in "The Bourne Legacy" but that shouldn't make it any less compelling and there's a remake of "Total Recall" with Colin Farrell.  The only apparent similarity between this version and the Arnold Schwarzenegger version being the Philip K. dick book that they're both based upon ("We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"). There's a Zombie movie "Warm Bodies" which has a bit of twist on the traditional Zombie tales, and because it made too much money in its first incarnation, "Expendables 2" - Probably popcorny fare.

"Argo" looks like an interesting project. How the CIA and hollywood smuggled six Americans out of Tehran in 1979, but we also get "Finding Nemo" again, this time in 3D. September will also give us "Hotel Transylvania" a which isn't just about vampires you'll be glad to hear, but is for the kids and in 3D. "Looper" is a bit more sci-fi though with time travelling super-cops.

The dark nights (no silent K there) start arriving in October, and in the nice warm cinema, you can see "Taken 2"' "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in 3D (can't wait to here Dr Kermode on that one), "Paranormal Activity 4" and "Halloween" 3D.  Of slightly more interest will be "The Gangster Squad" with Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in 1940's LA.

Yet another bloody vampire movie in November "The Twilight Saga" continues, but "Red Dawn" might be interesting as the USA gets invaded. Of far more interest to me though, will be the next bond movie "Skyfall" - scheduled for the 9th of November. Also worth a watch could be "Gravity", more sci-fi with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and another 3D Animation starring Santa, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy "Rise of the Guardians"

Just in time for what Hollywood refers to as the Holiday Season - and the sane people of the world refer to as Christmas, is "The Hobbit", where Martin Freeman (Watson to BBC One's Sherlock) will finally achieve global recognition. There will also be Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln" a bio-pic of the end of the US Civil War, and "World War Z" which is Brad Pitt in a Zombie movie. Right at the end of the year, you might get to see Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Great Gatsby"

All-in-all, a whole load of nonsense with some very entertaining moments, no doubt.  

Of course, this list is by no-means the complete list of movies that will see the light of day this year, and I'm quite sure there's some much better stuff that isn't really talked about, of I have yet to have heard about, so don't be too disheartened.

One thing I have heard about is "1066", which is also scheduled for "sometime in 2012" (October maybe?) - A great idea, someone obviously was looking at the generic "epic battle" movies that we've had so many of lately, and thought that the battle of Hastings was crying out to be done.  With that in mind, why not pick up some heavyweight actors to get involved. Well, they clearly scrubbed that idea, and went for a cast who we've not seen in some (read many) years.  

1066
Actually, as a result I can't wait to see what they look like.  There's Mark Lester (yes, the little lad who was Oliver) who's last movie was back in the 70's and there's Lewis Collins (yes, he of The Professionals and Who Dares Wins). His last movie was 1990, but he was in the Grimley's in 1999. I actually have huge respect for both of them, although when I note the German director (Robin Jacob) has been out of the saddle for 7 years, I wonder what we'll get.


Well, that's it for now.  Hope the snow isn't playing too much havoc for those of you that have it.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Schnow and Spring Cleaning

Hello Saturday, I hear it's going to snow today.

Image

Temperatures have collapsed in recent days and we find ourselves staring down the barrel of minus ten degrees centigrade. That's not particularly cold, but it is bleeding cold on a scale that goes along the lines of ....


Dead
F@&£ing Hot
Stupidly Melting Hot
Sweltering Hot
Hot
Warm
Fine - also known as "Meh" or for the unimaginative "nice"
Chilly
Cold
Bleeding Cold
Freezing Brass Monkeys
F@&£ing Cold
Dead


Very odd week at work. I keep suggesting myself to help out other team members who are about to skive off for half term, and keep being generally ignored by the individual I keep suggesting it to. This individual now finds himself in the position of not having anyone to do it, and has even suggested to one or two if them that they cancel their holidays!! Incredible!! I'm not bothered though, I'm a firm believer in letting everyone have a go, and of course TINRI. (apologies to those of you that don't know what that means - I'm afraid I can't explain it, but a few of you know.)


Now that Son has his own place, today's mission will be to sort his room out. It will now officially become a guest room so far less boy touches and a bit tidier to-boot. I'm pretty sure this is going to lead to a session of "sort the garage out" and if it wasn't for the weather forecast (Freezing Brass Monkeys) that would lead to a trip to the car boot sale. That will have to wait until we at least reach Meh or Nice I'm afraid.
May also need a quick trip to Stan's pad to help him with some cabling requirements - time will tell - However, first, the toughest job of the day.... Getting out of bed - especially when it has a wonderful cup of coffee from Mrs G and is keeping me at an average setting of about "Warm". Why would I want to move?

Hope you have a top weekend
Stay Warm and Safe
G



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sailors, Drivers, the Irish Police and an American Captain

There has been a gap in my movie discussions of late, and so here with a slightly cryptic title, are my four latest viewings and what I thought.

Let's start with Sailors - Obviously refers to the one word that never gets a mention in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". If you've read the book, then you'll understand that "based on" means just that.  That's not to say it's not recognisable from the book - it does follow the same main plot points - but it's been properly crafted together. 
Many people will have seen the 1970's Alec Guinness TV series made by the BBC. This also is not that. While the TV series was excellent and followed the book far more closely. it did have it's problems. By today's standards it's much harder viewing than the new Movie version - although that may well be in part due to it's video-tape/film nature and the plot jumping around much like the book does.

They seem to have fixed all that stuff in this version.  It's quite fun trying to guess what time period it's set in. There are many pointers to the 70's and 80's, but you just can't quite put your finger on it.  Of course it revolves around the cold war - so they've got the timing and the look just right. I loved it. Some people have claimed it to be a bit slow - I never noticed. I did however notice some vocal inflections from Gary Oldman (Smiley) which almost sounded like he was impersonating Alec Guinness. He got away with it though. It just serves to add further weight to his character.  

It also reads a bit like a who's who of currently great British actors with appearances from John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong (more on him in a moment), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Tom Hardy ("Eames" in Inception - and soon to appear in the next batman - The Dark Knight Rises).

Some great set pieces - I particularly enjoyed Mark Strong's visit to Budapest, the office Christmas party and the final scene at the army base - but you should watch it for yourself.  It's rightly nominated for this years Oscars, and I hope it does well.  9/10

Drivers - refers to the new DVD release "Drive". I'm not quite so keen on this, although I was riveted throughout. Ryan Gosling plays the lead, and I suspect he was pretty cheap to hire if he's paid by the word.  He has very little to say throughout. The violence depicted is pretty extreme - and on occasion to much so.  That said, it's an 18, and you can see why.
Drive
It tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman (part-time - I think he performs a stunt, just so we know he does that stuff) and mechanic (the other part of his time). when he's not doing either of those things he's a getaway driver for whoever wants to hire him. What I really enjoyed about it though, was the 80's feel of LA.  I spent some time there in the 80's and they show it much as I remembered it to be. 

A great 80's feeling soundtrack and moody performances mean that I think this is likely to end up with a cult status, in the vein of Robert De Niro's Taxi Driver (1979) or Christian Bale's American Psycho (2000). Overall mostly watch-able - 8/10

The Irish Police - can only really mean one thing, "The Guard" as in the The Guarda. If you saw "In Bruges" (2008) with Brendan Gleeson and enjoyed it, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this too.  It's not the same thing, with Mr Gleeson playing a good guy this time round, although the line between good and bad is equally well blurred.  There's something about his hard Irish delivery that has comedy written all the way through it.  A good tight script helps it along and it's a great bit of mobster style magic.  
The-guard
A stand-out moment has to be the IRA Arms cache - both it's discovery and it's handover. Beautifully put together.

There's also an appearance from Mark Strong as the Englishman. He likes Sharks. A much stronger character than that in TTSS, but also a lot darker of heart. Clearly an up and coming movie actor who is really starting to shine since his long stint in UK TV during the 90's.

Thoroughly enjoyable black comedy - 8/10

And finally, an American Captain ?? - duh...Captain America: The first Avenger (in 3D).  Yes, you read that right. In 3D.  Some of you are aware I've recently aquired a 3D TV.  Like Dr Kermode, I too don't really believe in 3D cinema.  It's a bit of a gimmick, and more often than not adds absolutely nothing to the viewing experience of a film.
Ca
Anyone in the market for a new TV is going to be faced with the 3D option, which is almost becoming a standard for anything over 40-inches screen size. In the end, I went for "big is best" and chose the 55" LG LED with Smart TV.  There's a whole other post waiting to be written about that, so I'll leave it for now.  However, what it has helped me to understand is that there may well be a future in 3D TV - as opposed to cinema. I'm already looking forward to the Olympics now - regardless of having tickets or not.

I digress...  Captain America. A really nice surprise.  So much better than I expected. Marvel studios have done a great job of building the line up for the forth coming "Avengers" movie in May this year. The exception that proves the rule is most likely the Incredible Hulk, which I wasn't quite so enamoured with. However, Iron man and Thor have also both been great movies and Capt' A, is right up there with them.

Set during World War II it tells the story of Steve Rodgers, a weedy chap who is consistently rejected on his army applications. A German doctor has concocted a serum (as is the way with such stories) and Tony Stark's dad shows up with some technical gubbins which combined help transform our protagonist into our hero.

I thought they did a great job. The whole 1940's design feels right and the plot doesn't loose it's way or it's interest as we chase down Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from "The Matrix"). Some top quality CGI tricks help us believe that Chris Evans (no, not the one off the Radio - Johnny Storm in the "Fantastic Four") can really be a 7-stone weakling. I don't think we've seen this sort of CGI body-modelling before, but they've done a great job of it, and try as I migh, I couldn't see the join (just like Eric Morecombe, who could also "Never see the join, Ern. I'm telling you, you'd never know it was a wig")

Does it need 3D??  Well, probably not. I'm not sure there's much that does need 3D, but, in a living room environment, it's a lot more natural and believable than in a cinema.  I found myself not noticing the 3D-ness, and just being immersed in the movie. There are a couple of moments when the 3D sticks out and it almost breaks the rule of the fourth wall, but it was at no time offensive, or off-putting and certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the film overall.

A good solid family fun action movie, that it just as good without the 3D - 8/10

What I'm really looking forward to is "Hugo" in 3D.  From what I've heard (Thatyou @wittertainment) and what I've read this is the movie that 3D was made for this time round.  It's also massively tipped for the Oscars, but then it's a film about film, so that and "The Artist" are set for a proper battle of the awards.

Hope that hasn't bored you too much.
Until next time....



This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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