25 Nov 2013
It’s been a while since we sat down and watched a proper fillum. We’ve cancelled our LoveFilm account (cue lots of calls from them desperate to get us back) as we never had the time to sit and watch. Anyway R’s folks gave us a fillum they insisted we watch. It’s a Japanese one called “Departures“. It is currently sitting on an IMDb score of 8.1/10 which is pretty high. Hmm.
It’s a tale of a man who plays a cello professionally but soon after he gets a job in an orchestra the company folds and he’s left unemployed. There’s a bit about him having bought a cello for too much money (18million yen – or a touch over £100k) and not really being talented enough to deserve it. But this is a minor issue as he just sells the thing again, in the very next scene, it’s hardly a surprise that an instrument worth that much would probably retain its value. So no jeopardy there then.
We see him discuss things with his wife. She’s young and attractive and has an unspecified job but there are clearly communication issues between them. The wife’s character is very poorly developed – she’s just insipid and wet. There is a point later in the fillum where she grows a back bone but it’s over the most ludicrous issue. Namely:
They move away from Tokyo to the place he grew up in with his mum. She’s died and left him the house/bar she ran. He has no job. Rather than start the bar up again he looks for a job and sees an ad in the paper for someone to work in “Departures” – hmm? Travel agency? Maybe. Anyway he goes to the interview and gets immediately hired by the grumpy old guy. Turns out “Departures” was a misprint and it really should have been “with the departed”. Anyway the job is dealing with the dead, doing a parting cleansing and farewell ceremony. Think your basic beautiful Japanese ritual, only for dead people.
The ceremonies shown were actually the best bit, they were very movingly done. It seemed a very good way to say “bye”.
Anyway the problems. Firstly the wife – oh my word – so insipid. The backbone she grew was when she found out her husband worked with the dead. She wanted nothing to do with him from that point (or did she?); a friend of his also suggested darkly that he should think again.
I feel I might be missing out on some cultural taboo here. Do the Japanese really have an aversion not only to the dead but also to anyone who happens to work with them? Really? I felt this was all too unbelievable.
Then his relationship with his wife was so strained and uncommunicative.
And then the acting, oh no. The nearest thing I can relate it to would be Japanese cartoons where the faces gurn mightily and there are squeaks galore when something is horrible. Very poor. Apparently the main bloke won the Japanese equivalent of the Oscar for best actor. Hmm again. Mind you he could do the quiet moving stuff ok. The wife was either a poor actress or, more likely, just had nothing to work with. The only stand out for me was the grumpy old bloke who hired him but his character wasn’t that interesting either.
More misses than hits for me.
25 Sep 2013
I really like a telly show called Only Connect. It’s on BBC4 for a reason. It’s a bit tricky. Someone on Twitter described “University Challenge” an easy warm-up for Only Connect. It’s pretty hardcore quizzy and I’d expect naught but clever bods watching it.
Anyway the new series started this week and I caught up with it on the iPlayer. Turns out that parts of it are as tricky as I remember but then other bits seemed easier than I recall, notably the “wall” round and the missing vowels round (was v easy this week).
It also turns out that a vocal minority of viewers took to twitter to pick at one of the contestants. This happens occasionally with female contestants such that there was a story a while back that female Uni Challenge participants are warned about the abuse they may be subjected to on social media. And people say feminism goes too far. But this was a little different – the female in question was clearly either a trans-woman or transvestite man (whichever I’m trying to use the right noun, sorry if I’m just not up to speed). She was clever and quick witted and knew her stuff – a model contestant on such a show and her team won. Fantastic. The show was brilliant and didn’t mention it once, she was introduced by her team captain (her dad) as “my daughter” and always referred to by her chosen name. That’s how to deal with it – IE ignore it, it’s not any kind of issue.
That’s not how users of Twitter dealt with it. My word it was disappointing to see the heartlessness and small-minded pettiness from some tweeters. So she’s not what you expected. So what? Why is that an issue to you? She’s fine, doing what she wants and getting on with her life clearly with the love and support of her family. Lovely to see. Sad that we can’t even rely on clever and educated people to forget tedious bigotry against an inoffensive thing.
13 Sep 2013
So I listen to a lot of podcasts. A couple of them are sciency ones (the “Naked Scientists” one is the main culprit but by no means is it the only one). So I noticed a thing a few years back which stuck out somewhat but only apparently in the sciency ones. It’s still there.
So what is it?
So whenever many (and it is “many”) of these scientists are asked a question they invariably start their answer with the word “so”. And I don’t know why.
“What did you find when you studied shark breeding behaviours?”
- “So we looked at what faces they pulled when trying to pull.”
“And what did you find?”
- “So what we saw is that the grump faced ones were more successful breeders.”
“Why is this?”
- “So the theory we’re working with is….”
And on and on.
So stop doing it!
So have fun.
10 Sep 2013
Right then BINTM again.
I’ve wittered on about this before, most notably when they completely screwed up the finale a couple of seasons ago. So what have they screwed up this time?
Not much at all actually. It’s been great. Yes there are the interminable “coming up” and “previously” bits before and after every advert break but that’s the price for stretching it out over an hour of commercial telly I spose.
Yes some of the models didn’t do well all the time – but failure is part of the process – at least there was no pointing and laughing at those who messed up.
Yes there’s been some bitchiness and carping between people but that’s probably what always happens when you put a bunch of young women together (some of them it’s also their first time away from home) all competing with each other for weeks at a time. Apparently they don’t get phones or internet during the time either (apart from the choreographed bit where the finalists get a phone call home on camera – cue weeping uncontrollably). But what the programme makers haven’t done is to overtly engineer external stress – they have enough stress anyway without sitting them round a table and asking them to say who they think is the weakest contender or some such (wot they did do a couple of years ago). I assume that they thought that increasing bitchiness would sell, however the twitter response to that (and the god-awful “live finale”) was very very firmly “anti”. So social media is good for something after all – and I think it was obvious that the star (Elle) didn’t like the artifice.
So without this engineered nonsense just what is there to gawp and laugh at?
Nothing really, just some interesting people, most of whom are quite nice (just like the real world then).
There has been a little nastiness but usually from bit part players. For instance the final 3 are in somewhere hot in the Caribbean. Now this prog seems to be supported by companies and tourist authorities so the girls were welcomed there by some government tourist spod and the hotel they stay in is usually very swanky and the boss of the hotel company normally does a welcome too. One of the final shows had the models zoom around some swanky shopping centre choosing stuff for a photo shoot and the boss of the mall’s magazine had to judge which one was best and the winner’s pic would grace the mall’s magazine. I think he’d been told to ramp up the negative a wee bit. The most interesting of the finalists (Emma) chose, shall we say, a different outfit from the others. The sort of thing that was a bit more esoteric than the generic summer dress that the challenge winner chose. Anyway he “hated it” and said so quite forcibly. Cue tears from her. Totally unwarranted grumpiness from the guy- I suppose you could say that it wasn’t what a shopping mall would want to put on the cover of its magazine but really couldn’t you just say that? Later on in the judging bit it was very notable that Elle made a point of saying that she loved Emma’s choice in that challenge.
So the series went very well. Please don’t screw up the final again.
The final came down to Emma from Yorkshire (“I don’t want to go back to me crappy job in’t call centre.”), Sarah the very sweet and shy (and scared of everything) Irish country girl “I won Miss Donegal – there were only 6 girls in it but I won”, watching her progress from cowering innocent to confident star was probably the highlight of the series, and Lauren the very tall one with huge feet (the favourite of one of the judges all season)? Did they screw it up?
Well I think the winner was wrong but the final show was pretty good. They did choose Lauren as the winner. No doubt she’ll do well but she always struck me as the least “different” of the three. Poor Emma (“I’m not going back t’call centre” – they’d probably sack her anyway after the grumbling about it she’s done on the show), she looked terribly hacked off as the announcement was made. Mind you her and Sarah are very likely going to picked up by some model agency or other – and both deserve some decent success.
Is there anything I would change to the series? Not really. The only thing I’d ask them to add is to show us more of the photos from the shoots rather than just the one they pick as the “best” one – how about flashing them up when showing us the shoot progressing?
Anyway was fun. Cheers.
19 Jun 2013
I thought it had gone away but it keeps on coming up.
Some bloke did a video of “Radio 4 in 4 minutes“. The video is him doing a monologue complete with impressions of the station’s presenters of all the typical shows that a normal day would have.
Someone tweeted a link to it a few days ago (or more) and I clicked and thought “ah well at least he tried” and thought little more about it for aday or so.
Then more people kept re-tweeting it and gushing in the most effusive terms about it. And these were respectable people with opinions worth respecting, and not all of them were radio 4 presenters. So I had another look..
and I thought “ah well at least he tried”.
And they’re still retweeting it!
I really don’t see the wonder and apparent hilarity in this video. At best it’s a bloke doing occasionally adequate impressions whilst “hilariously” pricking radio 4′s pomposity bubble. But we all know radio 4 is a bit up itself don’t we? We know that Humphries will always take up a diametrically opposite opinion to that of his guest; or that Women’s Hour constantly skirts the dichotomy of “shoes or feminism”. Don’t we? If so then this video isn’t particularly insightful nor surprising. Have people really never seen the truths so ruthlessly targetted here? Jon Holmes’s show “Listen Against” was far far superior in every way at this sort of thing – well worth a listen if you can track any of it down.
I really don’t see why so many seem to find this so brilliant. It’s on the level of a radio 4 version of “remember that Generation Game? Didn’t he do well! (in a bad Brucie voice)”
01 May 2013
It was the BJC a couple of weeks ago and it was up in Pickering. The big “gala” show was in Scarborough on Saturday. We couldn’t afford the time or money to go for the week but we did decide (ok I may have been quite pushy) to go for the show on Saturday. It’s a reasonable way up there, in fact it took us 3 hours to drive up, but we felt a day at the seaside would be fun for all.
We set off a little late but still got there at 1. Doors opened for the show at 7.00 so it gave us around 6 hours to play and look around. We played on the beach for a bit. N and J made a little sandcastle with the brief help of a little boy who got shouted out by quite burly looking grown-ups and then scampered off.
We had a lovely meal of fish and chips (for tradition’s sake) at a place that really did do gluten-free food on its menu but then ruined it by saying that fried gluten-free food is done in a fryer that also fries gluteny food. So that’s of no use to anyone then. We’d brought food for J along with us anyway so it wasn’t a major issue just an indication of the general lack of understanding that food places have.
I managed to leave both J’s coat and my camera at the caff as well. By the time I spotted this we were a good way away heading towards “Luna Park”. Sounds great but in reality a tired dump of over-priced, under-performing “attractions”. R took the kids whilst I drove back to get our stuff.
Once re-united we all played a bit in the park before it closed rather early. This happened earlier with the donkeys – N wanted a ride, “after food” we said. And the donkeys walked home, away from the beach, past us as we ate. She was glum. Twice.
Walking back to the car we bumped into BJCers who’d clearly just been bussed into Scarborough for the show. I saw a few recognisable faces and a few tedious show-offs (really please don’t walk around with a ball on your head – it’s little wonder you’re walking around on your own). We saw some young unicyclists bouncing up and onto some street furniture. And then Biskup yelled at us from over the road, yay for Biskup – long time no see.
A couple of other folk also said hello, hi Abby and friends. Sadly we missed loads of you.
The show was in a lovely old venue that suffered somewhat for having columns in the way for most seats on the balcony (certainly those seats on the side balcony). We picked seats that weren’t great but the area was quiet so hopefully the kids wouldn’t annoy too many folk.
As soon as the show started more people shifted down to where we were as their view was poor or became obscured by other people moving or standing up to see. As I said, the balcony views weren’t great. So what about the show?
I have no idea. I spent the first half fielding 2 kids, N was good and enjoyed the show. J yet again spent his time playing with the foldy-uppy chairs and running up and down the rows. L just cried and wouldn’t go to sleep.
We finally got her to sleep during the intermission so only had to cope with J running about. He didn’t want to be cuddled or held so carried on running and playing with chairs.
As far as the acts went I saw a bit of Steve Ragatz (very good), Eugenius Nil someone (very good), a pair of German girls (pair clubs, not as slick as could be maybe), a trick cyclist (N loved this one) and that was about it. The headliner was some Russian whizzkid apparently – can’t say I can remember anything about the act tho. And there was a poi act that went down a storm. Completely missed it.
Sincere apologies to those put out by the babies. I think we’ll wait a few years before the babies get to go to another show.
08 Apr 2013
So the nice bits of our Saturday night were as follows:
We had a steak at a place called “The Black Rock Steakhouse”. What happened here is we were given a big and very hot rock to cook our own steak on. A bit odd asking people to cook their own dinner but at least we weren’t going to get something miles overdone. Some reviews mentioned that the writers left smelling like a stinky chef at the end of a shift. I didn’t notice that so much. The steak was rather good as were the chips.
After this we headed downstairs to the comedy night. One compere and 3 acts. The compere was rather good. He even did a couple of improvised raps which were remarkably entertaining in a “Oh my god a 23 year old white, public school educated, radio 4 listening, no chin wonder is rapping” sort of way. He did manage to the line “of the genus brassica” in to one of them so he deserves some kudos.
First comedian was a grumpy flat character. Was ok but not hilarious. Some decent deconstructing of the genre. But my problem with the grumpy character is that he’s already having to work harder to get the crowd up.
Second was some Canadian guy. Much more my thing. Can’t remember a load of what he did but he managed to get boob flashed by a drunk girl on the street.
Last was some Londoner with a voice like a young Danny Baker. Not as funny but he did put himself in a situation where one of the local families could have beaten him up. You know the kind of family – loud and annoying – sorting drinks orders out whilst the guy was on etc…
Until we got back to the car it was a rather decent evening out.
18 Feb 2013
We all went to the circus this weekend. None of the kids have ever been to one (unless you count the last Nottingham BJC public show) before and it was close to N’s birthday so she brought a couple of friends along and off we went.
The pre-show for us was a pizza which slightly ran into the time we should have been at the theatre so it necessitated a quick dash to get there. This meant we had to struggle to get the double buggy up to the balcony – without a lift to get us there. Actually we weren’t allowed to take the buggy into the theatre, I assume for some fire hazard reason. But there was a new problem. L is fast asleep in the back of it. R took the ambulent ones inside and I dumped coats and that on the buggy. And now for L… As luck would have it she was tired enough to stay asleep as I scooped her up and carried her in. But unluckily enough not so sleepy as to stay asleep if I stayed still. So the first 20 minutes or so was spent standing behind the back row and keeping moving so she could rest a bit.
Whilst I was doing that J spent that time becoming obsessed with the tilting seats in the theatre. Lifting it. Dropping it down. Climbing up on it. Climbing down off it. Walking to another seat and repeating things again and again. Not sure he noticed that there was a circus ongoing at one end of the room.
The circus itself was the Chinese State. And jolly good it was too. Although it could have done without the tedious martial artists’ bits. I’d rather have had a traditional strongman act than two blokes waving bendy swords at each other and smashing weak sticks across each other’s back. Very dull. But for some reason people go specifically to see such acts – different strokes eh?
The older girls seemed to have a great time. N managed a fit of hysterics when there were a couple of chinese dragons on stage. Not sure that they were supposed to be objects of humour but what the hey.
Worth a look if they’re anywhere near you. Just don’t sit near a family of 2 adults and 6 children.
01 Feb 2013
It’s been a good while since I got up to York for a ChocFest but we finally managed to get it sorted this year, yay!
I think it’s the first time I’ve ever taken part in the Chocfest Chocolate Cake Competition too. We sorted a decent first ever stab at a gluten free cake for J and took that along.
Unfortunately we had to leave early to get kids home and to bed so missed the show and the cake comp judging. N very keen to find out if we won (we won’t have).
The day was spent chatting to Tom D, Fak, Naomi (another one), Nathan and family, and Silver and family. N and Fred played a lot, J had great fun and L was passed around to all and (occasionally) sundry. No juggling done of course but it was lovely to catch up with a few familiar faces. There were an awfy lot of unfamiliar faces there too. I spose that’s what happens when you don’t go to these things for ages.
We had dinner locally before coming home. I can’t remember the name of the place at the mo but it was proper classy. We had a telly on our table! It was showing the BBC news channel but N wanted CBeebies. I think it was after 7 so that wouldn’t have shown anything anyway so we got them to turn it off. Who really wants a telly at the table? Oh apparently everyone else who comes here. There were some properly big fat jabbas filling the house. The food was fatty and plentiful and cheap. Steaks were overdone, chips were good, ribs were ok. We left full but unsatisfied.
Hopefully we’ll be at more events this year, see some of you soon.
19 Nov 2012
If you’re ever wanting to eat out in Derby then I’d avoid the Broadway pub.
We’d had an odd day of cleaning up and doing odd bits. N was off with grandparents until 2 so we didn’t do much until she was back. After an afternoon trip to the park we headed out for a meal. We chose the Broadway.
We got there at 6ish. They were advertising “Food from midday ’til 10″. Great! Nice atmos in there and we’d had decent pub food there in the past.
They’ve also started doing daily “set-menu”s as well. Great!
We never bother with starters so that’s one decision less. N has picked and we choose for J. Sound.
Now for us. We both fancy a chicken roast. Nyom.
Ah they’re out of the chicken roast. How about the beef then? Out of that too? What’s left? Turkey? Ok we’ll have that. You don’t have that either? That’s all the meaty options from the menu isn’t it? How about the normal menu? Can we maybe have the haddock? No? Chicken pie? No? Jacket potato even? No?
Blimey this is all very reminiscent of the Monty Python Cheese Shop sketch (minus the bazouki music).
Steak? Surely you must have steak? You do? Excellent. Medium please, with peppercorn sauce. Ok so you don’t have peppercorn sauce, somehow I doubt I should be surprised.
So something like our 4th or 5th menu choice. Once it arrives there are no mushrooms as advertised. My “medium” is very definitely in the “well done” category, R’s “medium rare” is not far off “well done” either. J’s chicken dish is tiny. We don’t get many chips on our plates either. What is going on?
Around this time we start noticing that the waiting staff are getting grief from pretty much every group of diners. Meals are slow in coming (that’s being charitable), cold when they arrive and I’m sure other folk are as annoyed as we were about the total lack of many of the meals “available”. R mentioned that she heard one of the waiting staff saying that she’d had to go out and buy chips; notably later eaters were getting oven chips rather than proper chips with their meals.
To desserts? Set menu has 3 desserts. No Eton Mess eh? No shock there. How about the cheesecake? No? OK!
It’s not a cheap place either. Something had clearly gone drastically wrong when a food serving establishment hasn’t got pretty much all of the menu on that day. I pity the poor waiting staff having to deal with an evening of grumpy customers through the ineptitude of someone back-stage.
« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »