FOR NEW VISITORS

I’ve had a few, I don’t know why, I don’t know when…./deep breath

NO – there’ll be no singing here, thankyouverymuch

Ahem.  Python moment.

This blog (apart from the random attempt at reviews recently) is *well* old.    I’m back in the UK.  I have been since 2013, just after the Boston Marathon bombing.  Which was a superb time to leave the country and leave one’s laptop behind at security at Logan airport.   2 Mass Staties, 4 TSA agents and a dog team were not happy.  But they let me off in the end and I made my flight.

In the meantime…well…that’s to come.  Or maybe not, because I’ll probably forget.

Definitely up next, however, is my Mandalorian/Braveheart mashup armour that I’m building for next year’s Celebration.  In Anaheim.  Yes, it’s Anaheim.  We all know it’s Anaheim.  Just sell the damn tickets already.

Updates soon.  Promise

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The Foreigner

This was an entertaining revenge flick.   Most Jackie Chan films are entertaining, to be fair, but don’t go into this thinking you’re getting Drunken Master or Police Story.  This is Jackie putting on one of the most understated, effective performances I think I’ve ever seen from him.  The kung-fu is rare, but effective and, in typical Jackie Chan style, the choreography makes use of the world around the players rather than just being toe to toe thumping the bejesus out of each other.  As such, it becomes much more believable.

Pierce Brosnan delivers a great performance too, as the unwitting villain of the piece (from certain perspectives within the film) and it’s nice to hear him bust out his native accent – although I suspect he exaggerated it a little.   It’s also gratifying to see him in a thriller like this – his presence took me all the way back to The Long Good Friday and his small role as an IRA soldier driving off with Bob Hoskins at the end.  I certainly was not thinking of Bond when he was on screen (despite the fact he’s one of my favourites to wear that moniker).

The supporting cast were solid, the twists and turns toward the end enjoyable yet not telegraphed and Martin Campbell pulled it altogether with aplomb.  Particularly some moments that were almost reveals where I quietly laughed to myself at the predicament someone was about to find themselves in.

A solid revenge film wrapped in a bigger political story that, while not that contemporary any more (thankfully), is eminently believable.   Not a masterpiece, but certainly enjoyable.

7/10

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SuperGirl Season 3 – Episode 10 – Legion of Super Heroes

Kara’s in a coma after getting the tar beat out of her last episode by Reign but wait a minute…yay! The Legion of Super-Heroes! They’ll save the d…oh.  Wait.  No, they’re refusing. For some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey reason.   Or rather, plot reason so they can come in at the last minute and save the day.
Tip, CW writers, leave that utter nonsense to Moffat and the rest of the Dr Who writers.  They do it so much better than you.
Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see Braniac 5 turn up (costume issues aside) and also to see them finally fight together at the end, but the whole “stuck in your own mind” trope and the trio’s unwillingness to fight until the final, absolutely last, this time I really mean it, honest, oh she’s awake to help, thank god, moment…well, that was rather crap.
You can do better Berlanti.
4/10
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American Made

Although I was a bit bored at the beginning of the film, waiting for things to get moving, I finally realised it wasn’t a Mission Impossible film.   That’s the thing with Cruise movies these days, it can take a second to get out of that mindset.
The tipping point for me was the change in fortune.  This is where Domnhall Gleeson starts to come into his own.  This isn’t an action film.  It’s almost a biopic.
And then…just like that…the diary style starts to work.   Previous bits felt like Guy Ritchie lite (and it actually vanishes at this point too) The escalation: of the story, Cruise’s role and Gleeson’s subtle losing control…it all starts to gel.  And we’re not even halfway through.
It’s a great commentary on greed – both from a monetary point of view and a career one.  And also the best Oliver North-alike I’ve ever seen.  But it’s a very disjointed film.  There’s no through line at all, even though the Escobar connection tries.  I’d have liked to have seen more about the fleet Seal assembled for his double dealing.
In all, 6/10.
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Brr…

If travelling through Canada in late winter and living in Boston for 2 winters has taught me one thing, it’s how to penguin walk on slippery streets. And layer clothes…two things…two things has it taught me. Also keeping heating going at home…three…three things…

No one expects the Winter Exposition

Eyethankyew…tip your waitress…try the veal

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I wrote some words (Schmoesknow.com article prompts)

Bit of an experiment – I took a handful of recent Schmoesknow.com pieces, didn’t read the articles themselves and wrote my own versions to see what they’d turn out like.  The Ready Player One photos one is probably a bit on the long side, but there we go.  Also I had to pretend I was writing that before the second trailer came out.

Any and all (constructive :p) feedback is welcomed.

Ready Player One Photos released

I am very much a child of the 80s (and 70s for a bit).  I have four framed posters on my livingroom wall : Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Raiders pf the Lost Ark and Back to the Future.   I’d have Terminator, Gremlins, Top Gun etc too if I had room.  I also grew up with computers, arcades & games and was a fully paid up member of the Commodore club.  From Vic20 through to Amiga 500/600, it was C= all the way until I shifted to PC when Doom exploded into existence.

The point of this brief glimpse into my early and middle childhood is that when I read Cline’s novel, it was a major case of “right up my alley.”  It’s no Shakespeare or Wilde, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and positively stuffed with pop culture references from my formative years.  However, this isn’t a book review, it’s a reaction to the photos that have just been released ahead of the second trailer dropping this weekend.

I’m already seeing some departures from the book (as we did in the first trailer – there’s no car race in the novel, for example) but, as with any adaptation, some things just don’t work well on-screen.  Let’s face it, two…”entities” (spoilers sweetie) playing Joust on an arcade cab wouldn’t be that enthralling to watch – there was a nod to the combative ostrich game in the first trailer if you were looking closely, though.

More importantly, the tone seems to be absolutely spot on.  Wade’s hideout, deep in the Stacks, where he escapes his overbearing aunt and her often abusive partners to take refuge in the Oasis is pretty much how I imagined it when reading.   As is the more expansive shot of part of the Stacks exploding (I’ll refrain from being specific due to potential spoilers).

The photo of Parzival and Art3mis (the Oasis avatars of Wade and Samantha) with the Oasis librarian android is new.  I’m guessing they’re looking at a reconstruction of the Oasis’s creators – Halliday & Og – at work developing and testing the VR world.   Given there would have to be a bit of exposition regarding the Oasis itself, not to mention Halliday, this seems like a smart way to chronicle it.  It should also flesh out Og’s character too, which would be a nice addition.

The final photo is a little confusing to me – that’s Samantha looking over a crowd of people jacked into the Oasis.  The only scenario I can think of where there were swathes of folk gathered together inside the Oasis, she was right there with them, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s going on there.

In summary, these photos are simultaneously making me excited for the film and reassuring me that Spielberg has a handle on the material.  Like I was ever worried about Spielberg though, to be fair.

What say you, Schmoeville?  If you’ve read the book, are you reassured and looking forward to it?  If you haven’t, does the premise interest you and do the photos help?

Favourite performances of 2017 – Film

My choice for my favourite performance of the past year also doubles as “most likely to shut people up.”  Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.

While Ms Gadot was hailed as the best part of Batman vs Superman by a significant proportion of viewers (whether they liked the film as a whole or not), there was also a pretty vocal wariness about whether she could carry an entire film.  They needn’t have worried.  Throughout the film, she proved naysayers wrong at every turn.  From curiosity, through incredulity (about not sleeping with someone for warmth/companionship), joy, anger, frustration and to, ultimately, sorrow, Gal expressed it all with competence and, occasionally, subtlety.

Combine that with the physicality she’d already demonstrated in BvS and her ability to play both the straight woman & comedian (though never at her expense) and I was thoroughly impressed with her performance throughout.

Is she in the running for an Oscar? No, but she absolutely silenced the “just a pretty face” crowd.  And she didn’t need a lasso of truth to do it.

Favourite performances of 2017 – TV

I’m going for a last minute entry here – the late Anton Yelchin for Trollhunters.

Granted, a lot of it has to do with the world Guillermo del Toro has built and the script writers providing him with a fantastically relate-able character, whatever your age. I’m 44 – I should be relating more with Blinky (Kelsey Grammer’s character), not some high school kid.  But, just like Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon, there’s an instant connection to young Jim.  Whether it’s balancing home, school and, well, being a Trollhunter, his relationships with his friends and family or simply being in peril, you get it.  And that’s in no small part due to Yelchin’s performance.

Given Season 2 only recently dropped on Netflix, I’m going to be a bit vague for fear of spoilers, but Jim has run into enough situations for Yelchin to run the gamut of emotions to portray.  And he nails it every time.

So long Anton.  This performance is a fitting legacy.

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Welp…it’s been a while

I haven’t touched this blog since 2013.  How rubbish is that?  It wasn’t even connecting to the database – god knows how long for.   The banner image and description are now well out of date too – I returned to Edinburgh from Boston that very year (a couple of weeks after the marathon bombing in fact. That was a coincidence, though, the flight had been booked for months.)

So it’s “fix it” day so I can start wittering on again and generally be narcissistic.  I might actually put up some “proper” writing <gasp> or some movie/tv reviews.  Who knows what giddy heights I might reach.  I’ve sorted out the db connection, various plugins, updates and whatnot and it all seems to be working ok.   I’ll need to change that banner too, but no rush (I still kinda like it).  And get some more photographs into Flickr.  And finish up those 10 year old (!) travel diaries.  And.  And…

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Plants arrived

A couple of anubias, a java fern and a half shell with java moss on that’ll serve as the shrimps’ playground

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One 90% water change and a bit of awkward James Heriot style arm insertion and it’s good to go.  The water parameters have been stable the last week or so, so I’ll give it another week or two to see how the plants get on and then it’s time to stock.

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(It’s a bit murky at the moment thanks to disturbing some of the substrate, but that will settle down).

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Coming along nicely

2 weeks after I started setting up the tank, and I’ve already got some stable readings.   Hopefully they’ll persist for a couple of more weeks.

Also, I took possession of a gorgeous looking piece of wood from a friend of mine, that is now joining the other bit I had (that was Morpani). Tannins aside (that’s from the first piece and I’m 50% changing the water every other day and maintaining said readings), they both look great.

Hopefully, two weeks from now I’ll be able to report “ready to introduce fish”.  Overly excited about that.

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Replacement tank arrived \o/

And this time, it was perfectly intact.

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That’s it all set up, with the daytime and nighttime LEDs.  I’ve now dropped the substrate in so it’s time to go down to the shop tomorrow and pick up some gravel and plants, then get the cycle going.

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In the meantime, I’ll see if I can find a way to seal the leak in the cracked one – it dropped about 2cm in 5 days, and was always moist around the crack (fnarr).

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