Raging Against the World

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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Buck Rogers – Back in Space!

I’ve enjoyed some of the output from Star Trek: Phase II (formerly New Voyages) but it suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t heard a peep out of them in about a year.  So I checked out the site to see…

So he’s still around, just not disco dancing any more.

Check out http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/news20090723.html for details.

Bidi-bidi-bidi.

Another Fab (free) iPhone app

Just found a great app for the iPhone – an RSS reader.  It keeps you aware of new blog posts and you don’t even have to click Refresh.

Just search the App Store for Simon Oualid’s Free RSS Reader

You either enter the URL for the RSS feed OR… get this… you browse the website and it auto-selects the webfeed for you – amazing.

Michael Bay’s new Nightmare

I hate remakes.  They’re pointless and almost always a worse version than the original.  But I’ve been saying for years that Nightmare on Elm Street should do a prequel.  And watching this video I thought that finally we had one.

 

 

But then I saw the recreation of the Nancy in the bath scene and my heart sank.  They had to mess with the original, goddamit. 

On the one hand it is made by New Line (the company who did the originals) so they would presumably have fairly high standards, but on the other hand we have a new Fred Krueger who looks nothing like Robert Englund and the beautiful Heather Langenkamp has been replaced by yet another bland Hollywood starlet.

What’s happened in Hollywood?  You used to have people you could pick out of a lineup, but now everyone has no character in their face.  I mean, Eliza Dushku?  Katee Sackhoff?  Pur-leeze, if they passed me on the street I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from any other ‘beautiful’ girl.

However, the trailer makes it look rather good.  I will try to give it a fair chance, maybe the new Freddy will be good, even if the blando new Nancy will suck some of the life out of it.

Kublai Khan’s Café

Can the Khan

Can the Khan

Well episode 6 is finally in the virtual can. At last I can move on to the final episode.  Oh what a relief!

I’ve managed to clean up a ‘Billy-fluff”.  He says during the throneroom scene “I’m far from unwell” and I’ve managed to successfully perform a seamless edit on the “un-” to give Mr Hartnell a bit more credibility.  It’s unfair that fandom laughs at his fluffs as all Doctors have made fluffs but the black and white doctors didn’t have the saving grace of editing and retakes.  I remember removing a fluff from the courier in episode 7 the last time round, so I’ll have to remember to do that again.

 

But whenever Ian says “we’ll never escape Kublai Khan’s Cathay” I always hear it in my mind’s eye as a little establishment selling pots of tea and doing fry-ups.  Ah well!

Bad words

Legendary

Stevie Wonder (talented though he is) is not legendary.  Tell me the legend of Stevie Wonder.  Did he slay a dragon?  Did he fly to the Sun only for his wings to melt?  Did he trick an ogre into a bottomless pit?  I think not.  This is also true of “the proverbial”.

Profusely

I hear podcasters say “I apologise profusely”.  No you do not.  Profusely is a description of how you apologised.  You cannot just add it to “I apologise” to ramp up the level of your apology.  I can name another podcaster who says “I recommend highly“.  Same rule applies.

Unique

Also, you cannot say (and I’m sorry, but I’m aiming this at american podcasters as most of them seem to do it) that something is “very unique”.  Something is not quite unique, very unique or even slightly unique.  Unique is an absolute.  A thing is either unique or it is not, there are no degrees of uniqueness.  Don’t they teach you anything in school?

Moreish

Adding the suffix -ish to a word does not make a new word.  Stop it.

Poorly

Ooh poor lovey’s a bit poorly is he?  No he bloody isn’t, he’s unwell, ill or sick.

Folks

Popularised by The Sun this word is a particular abomination, like the way they misuse Hero.  I am not a folk.

Kiddy

Awww what a sweet kiddy.  Look at him, 2 yrs-old but he waves that placard so well.

Tummy

OK you may have guessed I don’t like babytalk.  It’s sickening.  I used to go out with a girl who called me Sweetie.

Pussy

I remember when this used to be used about cats.   God I’m old.

Chillax

Ugh, was there really a difference between Chill and Relax?

I’m as weak as a kitten

Jarvis pulled by a stronger creature

Jarvis pulled by a stronger creature

 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After a long absence of use, I decided to record something on my DVD recorder.  Only it won’t record anything any more.  Sure, it plays fine but that’s it.  So eBay was my friend and I bought another  DVD recorder, only it’s stuck on 16:9 for tv so I thought I’d bite the bullet and get myself a widescreen tv.
 
But widescreen tvs are rather expensive so I bought a 28in widescreen tv off my friend eBay and got one for a ridiculously low price of £7.01.   And it’s gorgeous – the picture is beautiful, the sound is stunning – I love it.  So what if it’s CRT?  I don’t care.
 
However, I had to collect the thing on my own and a CRT tv weighs an absolute ton.  Now I’m a fairly big strong guy, but by the time I’d got it out of the woman’s flat, down a flight of stairs, into a car, out of a car, up a flight of stairs into my flat and onto the nearest surface above floor level, my arms suddenly lost all their strength.  Even now lifting a vacuum cleaner is a major challenge.  I can only wait to get my strength back but my muscles between the elbow and wrists are refusing to co-operate – I think maybe I strained them.
 
Still, £7.01 – bargain!
 
And as I wanted to check out the picture I put on the nearest DVD to hand which was Casino Royale – only the third time I’ve watched it and I love it even more than the first time I saw it.  A proper spy story with possibly the most authentic Fleming-like Bond storyline and characterisation yet.
 
But being a Doctor Who afficionado – i’m not a fan – I can’t help noticing the Doctor Who actors I spot in films!
 
There was Tom “Bye Bye Duggan!” Chadbon, Robert Jezek, even Maria’s dad from the Sarah Jane Adventures.  I spotted more but I’ve forgotten them now.  It’s been half an hour.  Seriously though, when are they gonna get Judi Dench in a Who?  They got Sir Derek Jacobi, even Timothy Dalton…  She’s even been in The Chronicles of Riddick, so she’s not averse to a bit of sci-fi and from a programme I saw about her a while ago, she’s a game lass with a naughty streak.  I’m sure she would toddle up to Cardiff if the role was appealing.

A (free!) Dictionary in your pocket

WordWeb (bottom-right)

WordWeb (bottom-right)

 
One of my favourite applications for the PC has now been ported for the iPhone.  It’s called WordWeb and it’s an offline dictionary and thesaurus.  On the PC it integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office and just about anything else.  You just highlight a word in Word or Excel or Outlook or whatever and click CTRL-ALT-W and it instantly opens a dictionary page for that word and tells you what it means (in normal English) and gives you a thesaurus entry too.
 
Well now it’s on the iPhone too!  So when I read Dickens on the toilet and he says that someone
 
“…was presently in a dim coach-house, bargaining for the hire of an old Phaeton, to Paris.
 
I can look up what a Phaeton is without leaving the bathroom!  And because it’s an offline dictionary it doesn’t matter that I don’t get a reception in there.
 
It even ties into Wikipedia, Answers.com and Google so if the written description doesn’t help me see it in my mind’s eye I can go straight to a page on Phaetons and see exactly what one looks like.
 
And it’s FREE too!  If you have an iPhone (and if you don’t, I really feel sorry for you) this is a must-have application.  If you don’t have an iPhone, it runs on Java-enabled mobile phones too. 

Downfall (or Der Untergang if you’re German)

When we learned about wars in school we were told about who defeated who and details of where and when.  But we were never told the details of war.  What exactly are the processes of the last few days of war?  How does an army surrender to another?  How much fighting is done when the inevitable fact arises that your side is about to go belly-up.

On Their Way to Surrender

Downfall is a 2004 German-language film about the end of World War II from the Berlin Bunker viewpoint.  I went into this film thinking it was all about Hitler and it really isn’t.  It’s mostly concerned with the people who surrounded him, the Secretaries, the Generals unable to get the man to accept defeat.  The man himself is utterly unable to comprehend that the writing’s on the wall, but one can’t help thinking is it because he snapped or because of what we now believe to be Parkinson’s disease which was affecting him?

It’s a visually shocking film with scenes of battleground amputations and sudden deaths as the might of the Soviet Red Army approaches.  In fact, there’s really very little of the Russian troops as an on-screen presence, they’re mainly treated as the threat just out of sight, coming to kill everyone in it’s way.
 
My stand-out character is the guy playing the German radio operator who is left behind when everyone finally evacuates the bunker.  It’s like they don’t even know he exists!  His startled reaction to two suicides of his senior officers is a moment that made me smile.
 
It doesn’t shy away from the full horror of war and the people involved.  There’s a particularly harrowing scene as Magda Goebbels performs a particularly despicable act which the camera shows each and every death.  No panning away to avoid it, you see the full horror.  When the camera pans away from the deaths of her and her husband you find it particularly striking as it’s the only time they do move off of such a thing.
 
Watch this film.  Get a box of tissues to hand,  you will start blubbing like a little girl.

Riders of the Lost Marc(o)

Preparing for battle

Preparing for battle (note the square corners!)

Finally episode 5 – Rider from Shang-Tu – is finished.  (Damn you Warcraft, why must you be so addictive?!!)  I’ve forced myself to stop playing for a couple of days and get down to the torturous Photoshopping of Doctor Who telesnaps. 
 
While it’s great to have the telesnaps they do tend to have the corners rounded off like an old non-square edged television.  So I have to manually go into Photoshop for each of the hundreds of telesnaps and using the Clone tool extend the corners back out.  It’s a tedious chore and I put it off as much as possible.  Also as a lot of the photos used are not telesnapped or are grabbed from other scenes in other episodes I have to adjust the lighting for each snap to make them not contrast with the shots around them.
 
So finally episode 5 is done.  Two more agonising episodes to go!

A little bit of Politics

The Princess

I’ve just finished watching the 1980 documentary Death of a Princess.  It’s a dramatisation of the events in 1977 where a nineteen year-old Saudi princess was executed on a trumped up charge, along with her equally young lover.

I have virtually no knowledge of Islam or the Middle East so it was a bit of a revelation for me about the society there.  Apparently little has changed there in 30 years.  Women are segregated (to a far harsher degree than black people were in America) and Princesses have even less freedom than the ordinary woman (who has very few freedoms indeed).

I first heard about these events many years ago from a Not the Nine O’Clock News LP where they make a spoof apology to the Saudi government (in reality a huge controversy occurred because of the film). 

I’ve pulled out a scene from the film and you can see it here.  It debunks some myths about Islam which I was suprised at, particularly that veils and the rights of women are nothing to do with Islam.  Quite the reverse.  Women in those days were equals to men with positions of authority and everything.

Please seek out a copy of the film, it’s very enlightening.