ladyofastolat: (Curly Honey)
I've decided that I ought to post every day (or almost every day), no matter how inconsequential and silly the subject matter. So here goes...

Walking to the corner shop this evening, I saw a gorgeous young cat, a tawny and black tabby, really pretty. "Meow! Meow! Meow!" said the cat, clearly meaning, "Hello, hello! I want to be friends with you!" I slowed down, bent down, and lowered my hand. "Hello, hello!" said the cat. "I really want to meet you!" It ran up, smiling, and touched its nose to my hand... only to recoil, and run away at a rate of knots, with traumatised ears. Baffled, I sniffed my hand... and remembered that barely minutes before, just before leaving the house, I had used my hands to shape balls of sage and onion stuffing. I did wash them afterwards, but the smell remained. Clearly gorgeous tawny tabbies like sage and onion stuffing considerably less than I do. Although, really, I think almost any living being on this planet probably likes sage and onion stuffing less than I do. Posh shop-bought stuffing is all very well, some of it really quite nice. Homemade stuffing can be delicious. But basic Paxo sage and onion stuffing is, for me, one of the best things in existence. I could quite happily eat it with every single meal.

In other news, we have been playing Mage Knight for the last 6 hours, struggling to remember the rules. We played it quite a bit last year, but Christmas brought Mistfall (another co-op fantasy RPG board game) and Pandemic, which led to the utter awesomeness that is Pandemic Legacy (Best. Game. Ever) and many, many Pandemic expansions. Since we were struggling to remember the rules, we're playing the long co-op version, not the shortened one, which we felt demanded a certain amount of competence right from the start, rather than random flailing. The long game is looooong, so we've retired for the night only half way through. Much of the game was done to the soundtrack of 50s rock and roll, which is not perhaps the most obvious soundtrack for assaulting mage towers full of ice golems, but somehow... works.

One day I will post some more about our Venice holiday, but today is not that day.

Now watching Hooten and the Lady, which is incredibly silly, but rather fun. Also drinking some strange, nameless bottles of homemade multi-coloured booze that Pellinor salvaged from a recent LARP weekend. This might not be wise...
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today I have mostly been ranting about the way that trousers (for which read trousers or hose or braies or braccae or leg wrappings or any other leg covering of choice) have been airbrushed out of Yore and Fantasyland. It is well-known that people don't wear socks in Fantasyland, even though they jolly well should. In a recent episode of Game of Thrones, SPOILER, recently returned from an absence of a considerable number of episodes, killed someone, took his boots, and put them on over entirely bare feet. I had to try a few million pairs of boots on before I found some that were comfortable for long walks, and even then, I wear two pairs of socks. I warned SPOILER about blisters. He didn't listen.

But trousers (hose, braies, breeches, whatever) appear to have been excised, too. I've been reading a very silly vaguely Arthurian novel in which a feisty warrior woman goes round wearing a jerkin over entirely bare legs. Now, the internet offers up a dazzling array of images of jerkin, but none of them would be remotely decent when worn over bare legs. I've also been watching Arthur of the Britons, in which the costume department clearly added an accidental few extra noughts to their order of white sheepskins, and, forced to cover up their mistake, have shrouded every single Saxon extra in at least four sheep. Some are positively spherical in their sheepskin cardigans, some of whom wear them over bare, spindly little legs, with bare, spindly little arms and shoulders struggling to emerge from the white globe of sheep.*

These are the two examples that have troubled me today, but it is an ongoing rant, prompted by numerous historic and fantasy films, and by the sight of chilly Roman re-enactors shivering bare-legged in the British cold.

Personally, I never wear shorts on a walk, because walks often involve wading through brambles and bracken and other scratchy things, and I want the protection of a layer of fabric, thank you very much. It would tend to ruin the impact of a surprise ambush if all your bare-leggety warriors were constantly going "ow! ooh!" as they knelt in thistles and squelched in slimy cow pats. Warriors who charge naked into battle, clad only in woad and bravado, are presumably hard enough to cope with the string and prickles of outrageous flora, but why would those who've bothered to clothe their top half forget to bother with clothing anything under the waist?

* Bagpuss )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Sometimes I get ridiculously bothered by tiny, trivial things in books and movies. I spent many seasons of Buffy intensely bothered by her habit of wearing huge hooped ear-rings while engaging in hand-to-hand combat with monsters. All I could see in such fight scenes was the ear-rings. I couldn't spare any attention on the quips and one-liners; all I could do was cringe at the thought of what would happen if a monster grabbed one, and berate her out loud for wearing them.

In the movies of The Hobbit, it turns out that the Entirely Trivial Thing That Bothers Me Unduly is Thorin's hair. Such long, thick hair, worn loose when sleeping rough, worn loose when fighting, worn loose when traversing wind-tossed mountains. Think about the tangles! Think about the daily routine of combing them out! No wonder he's grumpy. Think about all the times he can't see a thing because the wind on said wind-tossed mountain has blown his hair into his eyes. Think of the stirring speeches ruined because the wind blows a hank of hair into his mouth at a pivotal moment! Think about the fights lost because the bad guys just grab hold of his head-full of convenient handles, and pull! And think about the worst case scenario: the decapitated head held up one-handed by a triumphant enemy, gripping the convenient handle offered by the hair!

I spend most of the films desperate to rush after him on a pony, offering him hair clips.

Confusion

Nov. 23rd, 2014 08:23 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Overheard the other day:

Person A: "Isn't To Kill a Mockingbird's opening this weekend?"

Person B: "What?"

Person A: To Kill a Mockingbird. You know. The Hunger Games?

Person B: Oh! [in sudden realisation. Then there was a pause. Then the doubt crept in.] Isn't To Kill a Mockingbird some old movie?

Person A: No! ["how silly you are!" said the tone.] It's the last Hunger Games movie, of course.


I am now fondly imagining The Hunger Games 3: To Kill a Mockingbird in which Atticus Finch must his client from a racially-motivated accusation by taking on all comers in an arena of DEATH, from which only one person can emerge alive.

I also spent a few minutes imagining other similar-titled films and books that can be conflated. There's Scarlet!, the story of a young woman shamed for adultery, who is rescued from her punishment by a visiting Englishman, who looks like a foppish fool, but is actually a master of daring rescues. Then I started chasing titles where the last word of one is the first word of the other, and conflating them. (Apocalypse Now That's What I Call Music!, the compilation album to play after the end of the world.) But at that point, I got distracted by something else, so that's all, which is probably a Very Good Thing.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
A Thing that has outraged me: Othello retold for young beginner readers, in a series aimed at children aged 6 to 8 or thereabouts. Othello? WHY? Cue my long and oft-repeated rant that delayed my book selection by a considerable time.

A Thing that has interested me: As soon as the 2 minute silence finished, and the sound of the maroon had faded away, I scurried to the dictionary to find the link between the colour and the distress signal. Apparently they come from the same word: the French for "chestnut." The colour is chestnut-coloured, while the firework pops like a chestnut roasting on an open fire. The verb "to maroon" comes from a different root, though: the Spanish for "wild." So now you know.

A Thing that has bemused me: I stumbled upon an old episode of Buffy on the SyFy channel mid-afternoon on Saturday. "The following programme contained paranormal practices," it said (or words to that effect), "and is intended for entertainment purposes only." I've never heard such a warning before, even in the days when Buffy was shown on BBC2 at tea-time, and then cut so badly that some episodes were incomprehensible. But what other purposes would anyone put Buffy to? A how-to manual?

Another Thing that has interested me: I'm reading a book on the history of the Tower of London menagerie at the moment, and it's full of interesting snippets. In the 12th century, Londoners were commanded to pay for a chain and muzzle so the King's polar bear could fish for its own dinner in the Thames. In the 15th century, the menagerie was opened to select public, who either had to pay an admission fee, or bring along a cat or a dog which could be fed to the lions. I wonder what delights later centuries will bring?

Musketeers

Feb. 28th, 2014 08:40 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Anyone else watching the BBC Musketeers series? I've seen hardly any talk about it online.

I was a huge fan of the book series when I was 11 or so, but they made it very clear that this series wasn't an adaptation of the books, but an episodic TV series loosely based on the characters and setting. It therefore gave me exactly what I was expecting, and I'm enjoying it quite a lot. There's no hint of fannish obsessiveness, but I look forward to each new episode, which we both happily heckle and enjoy very much.

I love the jolly theme tune. I think all theme tunes should include a chorus of rowdy Musketeers shouting "HEY!" in the background. It is, however, annoyingly earwormy. What is it about Musketeer-inspired TV shows and earwormy theme tunes? (Note that I am now moving swiftly on before mentioning the notorious worst offender, lest it haunt the ears of my readers for the rest of the week.)

Some of the newspapers reviews amused me. The reviewer in one dignified broadsheet was very sneery about the liberties it had taken with the original story, chief of which seemed to be that Athos got drunk (SHOCK!) and Aramis had affairs with married women (HORROR!). Dumas would be shocked, shocked, he said, thus proving that he has never read the book in question. It reminded me of all those A Song of Ice and Fire "book purists" who were utterly outraged that the TV series had made Renly and Loras gay, and were convinced that GRRM would be equally horrified at this change made to canonically straight characters.

And the historical setting isn't quite as bad as a published edition of the book I came across a few weeks ago. It was a very simplified retelling for children, and the first sentence was something like, "In the year 1678..."

Ooh, half my icons have vanished. They claim to be there, but aren't. I wonder where they've gone...

Hats

Jan. 19th, 2013 09:52 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I watched Babe earlier tonight, since I was in the mood for something non demanding, and it happened to be on. At the end, the ecstatic crowd did what ecstatic crowds in hat-wearing times of Yore always seem to do - they all threw their hats in the air, way up up up up, and high.

How do they all get the right hat back? Surely it must be carnage and confusion. Cherished bonnets will be crushed under foot. Innocents will be struck in the face by hats thrown by people like me, with a complete inability to aim. (I tried welly wanging once. The welly flew off 180 degrees away from its intended direction, into the watching crowd of Morris dancers.) Black eyes will result as people lunge to catch their falling hat, and strike their neighbour by mistake. The police will be called as people lunge to catch their falling hat, and grope their neighbour by mistake. Fist fights will break out over the rightful ownership of expensive trilbies. There will be tears. The minute the camera pans away from the crowd and back to the main characters, the innocent scene of spontaneous hat-related joy must surely dissolve into bloody mayhem.

And the feuds! I'm imagining a rural setting of teeming hatred - something nasty in the woodshed, and so on. At length, the main character, a newcomer from the city, will uncover the truth behind all the teeming: the terrible hat incident at the Ramsbottom Marrow Festival of 1934.

Or is the art of hat-throwing an ancient rural skill, like withy cutting or coracle making, which we lesser men of nowadays can never know? Did they practise it from childhood, these hat-wearing people who were likely to frequent the sort of places where hats were often thrown. Or did they attach their hats to their persons with long bits of elastic, like children with mittens? Or did everyone sew their full name and address inside their hat, so people could reclaim them after the event from the official hatman who went round after every ecstatic event and rounded up all the stray headwear?

Hobbitses

Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:11 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
We went to see The Hobbit last night. For context: I love all three Lord of the Rings movies, enough to watch them 3 or 4 times each in the cinema, and to watch pretty much every single extra on the extended edition DVDs. I do have niggles, but they're mostly aesthetic - green, sploshy Dead with their popcorn skulls, unfeasibly enormous elephants, catapults that can hurl half a house, and elves that speak... so... very... sloooooowly.

The Hobbit: not really spoilery, but behind a cut, anyway )

Finally, most people on my Friends list who have expressed a preference thus far have specifically sought out the 2D version. Therefore, out of interest:

[Poll #1886331]
ladyofastolat: (Default)
How To Feel Ancient, in one simple step: Watch Young Apprentice. The young contestants, aged 16 and 17, are laying on afternoon tea to tourists at Blenheim Palace. One team has decided to do a World War Two theme, on the grounds that the majority of visitors to stately homes are over 35. "Do the over 35s like vintage?" one contestant asks. Of course, said another contestant, "because it's their time."
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I have become unaccountably addicted to the Great British Bake-Off - something I hadn't realised until this week, when I had to work late, and therefore missed the first 15 minutes of this week's episode! and was very disappointed indeed. I didn't actively intend to watch it, but it presented itself to me when I was sprawled on the couch in my immediately-post-Summerfest stupor, when such things as picking up the remote control were beyond me. I'm not quite sure why I find it so addictive. Maybe it's the eccentric Englishless of these people baking cakes in a marquee in a field, while rain lashes down outside. But probably it's because everyone is so nice and polite about everything. There are no grand emotional stories of journeys, and no baying audience, and nobody is trying to stab anyone else in the back, and when they get kicked out, they don't shake their fists and say "Those evil judges will regret this!" but shrug ruefully, and say, "It's a fair cop. My baba was too soggy."
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Pellinor's away this weekend, and I'm very tired and computerless, so many DVDs have featured this weekend. Just because I like making lists, here is my list of The 16 DVDS I Most Often Watch (Probably.) This is not necessarily my Top Sixteen Films Of All Time, since there are some films that I love and very much admire, but which are too emotionally draining to watch very often.

In alphabetical order: List of 16 DVDs )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
So I decided that I wanted to see the Avengers movie one more time. Last weekend was out, due to coughing, so this weekend ended up looking like my last chance, since we're down to one showing a day now, and the weekday showings are too late for me to want to go to on a school night. I dithered considerably about whether to go this afternoon or not, since on the one hand, I wanted to see it, but on the other hand, I liked the idea of having an entire uninterrupted day to spend madly indulging in displacement activities to Write Stuff. I decided to go in the end, but the timing was very tight, due to a desperate rush to get to the end of a scene before leaving. If I was quick buying the ticket, I thought I should be able to arrive at the screen towards the end of the trailers, with a few minutes to go before the film itself started.

As usual, I went to the self-service machines, which have changed in the last few weeks, and now shout annoyingly out loud. (I don't like it when self-service machines shout at me. I like then to stay decently silent, except perhaps to chirrup a little to acknowledge receipt of my commands. When they talk out loud at me, I want to say, "Sorry! Sorry!" about any delays, and I half expect them to start asking me about my holiday plans, in a dead voice that conveys a hint of an intention to hunt me down and kill me on said holiday.) Anyway, I went through all the proper motions, selecting the showing I was after, but when I went to pay, the machine cheerfully told me that it was sorry, but it was too late for me to buy tickets for that particular showing from the machine, but there were almost certainly still tickets available, should I wish to wander over to the box office and ask the friendly humans there.

The trouble is, the cinema no longer has a box office. Apart from the machines - that nobody but me ever seems to use - the only way to buy tickets is from the refreshments counter. I looked over at the refreshments counter, where the only staff member on duty was putting together a popcorn feast for a large and unruly family, while about 30 other people stood in a queue that looked as if it was in for the duration.

"Oh well," I thought, "it looks like I won't be seeing the film today, after all." Stoopid cinema.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
When I'm off work sick, I usually end up dozing on the couch while watching feel-good romantic comedies. Thus it was that today I watched Sleepless in Seattle. Now, this is a film that I've seen several times before, that I chose to buy on DVD, and that makes me rather misty eyed at times, so it's certainly not a film I dislike. But, at the same time, it's a film that bothers me quite intensely whenever I surface from my sickbed enough to think about it.

The viewer is expected to believe wholeheartedly in the central "romance" - i.e. to accept that these two people are made for each other and will live happily ever after, despite the fact that they haven't exchanged a single word. In pursuit of the unstoppable power of this "romance," we are supposed to accept that it's quite all right for the heroine to ditch her fiance on Valentine's Day (but it's okay, because he's got allergies, so clearly doesn't deserve to be happy.) We are also supposed to accept the fact that she acts completely unprofessionally by abusing her position as a journalist to set a private detective to stalk the object of her obsession, presumably paid for by her employer. (People acting unprofessionally is one of my pet hates in movies, especially involving data protection, so it also annoys me that the radio station is so quick to hand out the home contact details of an 8 year old boy to some random stranger who phones them up to ask.)

We're also supposed to accept that every female in existence dissolves into helpless tears at the merest thought of a romantic movie, and that all men are baffled by this.

Online reviews are mostly of the "only a truly heartless person with no romance in their soul could dislike anything about this film" type, though, so clearly I'm just heartless and awful and cold. :-)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I went to see the Avengers movie this afternoon, and I liked it very much indeed. I didn't know an awful lot about it a few months ago, but several people on my Friends list have been in full anticipatory squeeing mode over the last few months, each with a slightly different focus, so I'd picked up quite a bit from them. I caught Iron Man on TV a year or two ago, but that was it as far as my viewing went. So on Friday I popped down to the local library, and borrowed Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. (I forgot about the Hulk completely, but by coincidence happened to stumble on the film starting on ITV3 last night, when channel hopping. I haven't watched it yet, but have it recorded. I saw the Ang Lee version, though, so felt moderately au fait with the background. Unless they've changed it completely, that is.)

I watched Iron Man 2 on Friday night, Captain America and the first half of Thor last night, and the second half of Thor this morning, before venturing out to attack dandelions in the garden, and then to dance with dinosaurs in West Wight. I'm glad I did this preparatory viewing. I don't know if I'd have been lost without it, but it certainly helped me go into the Avengers movie with emotional connections already made.

Out of those 3 films I watched on DVD this weekend, by the way, I think I liked Thor most. I hadn't expected to, since muscle-ridden blonds are really not my type - something that had also put me off watching Captain America in the past. (Yes, yes, I am shallow when it comes to action movies; the physical appearance of the hero does indeed play a large part in my decision to watch, and I should probably be ashamed of this, but am not.) I liked quite a lot of Captain America, but somehow the latter half felt slightly flat to me, up until the last ten minutes, but Thor felt to me to be the most rooted in characters and emotions. (By which I mean, it engaged my emotions most.)

Anyway... Maybe people have written many words about the Avengers movie, and I don't at the moment feel like being one of them, so suffice it to say that I liked it very much indeed. I liked it a lot when I was watching it... but now I'm home, I'm eyeing my pile of DVDs, and part of me really wants to rewatch them all, but part of me doesn't, since none of them contain the full range of characters that I saw in the Avengers, and... well, really all I want to do is watch it all over again. :-D

By the way, I was surprised at how many very young children - 5 or 6 years old, perhaps - were in the audience, given the 12A rating, but they proved to be inoffensive. (No insult to 5 or 6 year olds, but I've had films ruined in the past by having far-too-young children sitting behind me, kicking my seat in boredom, and loudly and constantly asking Daddy for an explanation of what was going on.)

Best overheard quote of the evening: "He was a much better Hulk than Graham Norton." (Note to non-Brits: Graham Norton is a chat show host and comedian whose stage persona is very very camp indeed, and who looks nothing at all like Edward Norton.)

EDIT: But I absolutely cannot get the Captain America chorus girl song out of my head today, and it's been driving me MAD!

Leg trauma

Feb. 4th, 2012 09:19 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
We watched Beowulf last night. It seemed rather appropriate, since Chainmailmaiden had spent the day in our house cooking Viking-inspired cakes and biscuits, and today she and Pellinor are heading off to a fantasyland version of Scandinavia (which is manifesting itself in a port near Pompey), in order to feast plentously in a mead hall*, which will almost certainly be attacked by hideous monsters. However, I'm afraid I find myself unable to make any intelligable comment on the film itself, since I spent the whole thing shouting, "WHY DON'T ANY OF THEM WEAR TROUSERS?"

I know Movie Beowulf has a fondness for fighting in the nude, and has trained all his men to follow him around with arms and elbows and swords to be strategically placed between his naughty bits and the camera, but it wasn't just him. Virtually ever warrior in the film went round in chainmail minidresses, with no sign of anything at all underneath them, let alone trousers. But it's mighty cold in Scandinavia! Pellinor's only going to the Portsmouth outpost of Scandinavia, but it's plenty cold enough there**, and I bet he's not going to face the winter chill in a chainmail minidress. And what about the chafing when they sit in a saddle? Isn't the whole thing just a little bit embarrassing whenever they bend over to pick something up? WHY DOESN'T ANYONE WEAR TROUSERS?

The whole thing has taken me back to the traumas of 25 years ago, when I saw Bakshi's Lord of the Rings film, and couldn't get past the miniskirts and bare legs of Aragorn and Boromir. (Said trauma came flooding back to me last weekend in all its hideousness, when we saw a set of china figurines from that film in the antique shop in the Portsmouth historic docks. It was selling for nearly £2000, IIRC. I'm not sure how it fitted into the military theme.)

* I know it's a mead hall, because I've seen the mead. "Is it okay if I get a few bottles of mead delivered to you at work?" Pellinor said casually. "Fine!" I said, barely listening... only to arrive back at base last Friday afternoon to find everyone gathered around an enormous MOUNTAIN of boxes, some five feet high and four feet wide. "It's labelled "wine," someone said in an awed tone. "Is that all wine? There must be five hundred bottles, at least!" It was in fact only 60 bottles of mead, which they'd packaged in a Russian doll sort of way, with sensible-sized boxes wrapped within bigger boxes, the gaps well padded with air-filled tubes of plastic. It took me nearly an hour to extricate the contents.

** I know it's cold, because it's the Mainland. Upon hearing that a colleague was going to the mainland for the weekend, three other colleagues struck up in a doom-filled chorus. "It's going to be terrible on the Mainland this weekend. You think it's cold here, but on the Mainland it's going to be awful." I duly waved him a final goodbye at the end of the day, solemnly telling him that it had been nice knowing him.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I watched X-Men: First Class yesterday, and really enjoyed it, so much so that I watched it a second time later in the day, trying to get maximum use out of the recording before it self-destructed this morning. However, I was rather surprised and amused at my reaction to certain implausibilities. Here we have a fictional world based on the premise that genetic mutation can give human beings such skills as gills that magically generate when underwater, but disappear at other times or tiny gossamer insect wings that somehow manage to bear the weight of a human, and that a single injection can cause people's whole bone structure to change within seconds. Yet, despite all this, my main "What?" moment was when Charles Xavier became a professor at Oxford University in his late twenties immediately upon completing his thesis.

3D films

Nov. 15th, 2011 08:48 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've been thinking about 3D films again. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd gone to see The Three Musketeers in 2D, and found the picture quality rather bad. Since I wanted to make a comparison, I ended up going to see it in 3D a week later. This was only my second 3D film, the first being Toy Story 3. I really wasn't all that impressed. I think the main problem is that I've spent my entire life getting used to the conventions of traditional film-making, and accepting that what I see upon a 2D screen is "real." Therefore new techniques, such as 3D - but hand-held camera has the same effect - shout out "unreal!" to me, and end up alienating me from the emotions of the film. I also don't like the fact that - in this film, at least - the depth of focus was so incredibly shallow, with things in the foreground being crisp and standing out from the background, but any poor extra standing two feet behind the heroes was blurred into near invisibility.

Anyway, out of interest, I thought I'd do a poll.

3D poll )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
With Pellinor away and the internet dead for the last 24 hours (now fixed due to new router), I decided to watch all the extended editions of all three Lord of the Rings films over the weekend. There are things I disagree with in the adaptation, and there are quite a few artistic decisions that I very much dislike, but overall I utterly love these films very much, which has inspired me to make Lists.

These are a few of my favourite things )
ladyofastolat: (shallow fangirl hat)
I just saw The Three Musketeers. It follows the book only in broad outline, follows history barely at all, and never pays more than lip service to plausibility and sense. It's a film that really needs to be watched at home, with a group of friends all prepared to heckle outrageously. However, despite all this, I enjoyed it very much indeed. I might even go and see it again. We chose the 2D version, mostly because the time of the showing was more convenient, but also because we were both rather "meh" about the only other 3D film we've seen (Toy Story 3). However, the picture quality was really rather bad, frequently looking out of focus. I'd be interested in seeing the 3D version fairly soon, so I can compare and find out which one I prefer. But even with the poor picture quality, the film cheered me up no end. I was feeling tired and achey and under the weather, and now I'm bouncy and happy and want to go into the garden and hit Pellinor with rubber swords.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Last week, I was channel hopping on TV, trying to find something to have on while sewing banners, and came across the start of the very first episode of Leverage on a minor Sky channel. It's basically an American version of Hustle, with a bit more violence and fewer intricate twists and flashbacks, but I enjoyed it well enough, so put it on series link, duly recording one episode a day at teatime. On Monday night, my Sky planner told me that the next episode was due to be recorded on Tuesday, and gave me the summary. By Tuesday evening, it had disappeared completely from the listings, replaced by another show. All the online listings sites show that Leverage was due to be shown, one episode a day, throughout this week, but this was apparently changed on Tuesday with juat a few hours' notice.

Now, admittedly this was a repeat showing at a non-peak time, but it still annoys me that they can cancel a series at such notice, without even announcing over the credits of the previous episode that they were doing it. I am well aware that channels like this are commercial enterprises, rather than a public service, so I don't expect them to doggledly keep showing something if only 3 people and a dog are watching it, but even so, cancelling something at such short notice seems to suggest a contempt for viewers. In this case, I'm fed up, rather than heartbroken, since I was enjoying the show well enough as something to sew to, and wasn't getting particularly fannish about it, but, still...
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Oh dear. Is there anything more fatal than for a fictional character to say, "We'll talk when I get back"? It must be even more dangerous than showing your comrades a picture of your sweetheart at home. Saying "Is that all you can throw at me, nemesis?" is also a guaranteed recipe for hideous disaster, but isn't always fatal.

I expect there's a TV trope about this, but if there's one thing that's even more dangerous than saying "We'll talk when I get back," it's saying "I'll just quickly pop onto TV tropes to look at one small thing."
ladyofastolat: (Default)
As I was lying in bed last night, listening to the distant thumping of the Isle of Wight Festival some five miles away, I reflected that people in movies don't have this problem. In movies, you can get someone sitting there in silence in their chamber, right next to a badly-sealed pair of shutters over a glassless window. Then they move to the window, throw open the shutters... and realise that 100,000 barbarians are standing in their garden going RAHRRR! The second they close the shutters, all is silence again.

Now, it could just be that said barbarians have been standing there in patient silence, indulging in crochet, charades and silent games of cat's cradle, and have saved their RAHRRR for the moment their audience appears, but barbarians are generally portrayed as people whose default setting involves going RAHRRR, and, besides, I don't think that even the best-organised barbarian army could cut off their RAHRRS mid-RAHRR, at the exact moment that some distant observer closed their shutters. At the very best, you'd get a diminuendoing RAHrrr effect. Therefore, it must be that the RAHRRRs continue, but the closing of the shutters means that the person inside can no longer hear them.

What is the explanation of this? At first, I theorised that windows, doors and shutters in movieland are made of some incredibly soundproof material of which modern science knows not. This is supported by numerous sitcoms and romantic comedies, in which the entire cast can stand just inside a door having a frenzied and loud conversation about how they're pretending they're not in, and the person standing just outside never hears a word.

However, further consideration reminded me that it's not just windows. In those same sitcoms and romantic comedies, people can take two steps away from someone and carry out of conversation in loud stage whispers, and the other person never hears a word. Clearly the very air can become soundproof if needed. It can also hide things from view. In the last few days, I have watched several films in which characters are travelling along, showing every sign of being reasonably alert, only to stop in horror when they realise they're three feet away from an ENORMOUS FOREST, a blood-stained battlefield strewn with corpses, or a towering inferno that fills half the WORLD, none of which they'd noticed hide nor hair of until they were on top of it.

This is almost enough for me to conclude that, in movieland, the tree in the quad only exists when there is a camera there to observe it, were it not for the fact that very occasionally, when the script demands it, that same sitcom cast whose argument couldn't penetrate a single door are able to hear an entire conversation that takes place across a corridor, through two doors, and down a flight of stairs.

Cuts on TV

Mar. 14th, 2011 06:52 pm
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
I just feel the need to repeat an old, familiar rant about TV channels who choose to show a programme at a particular time slot, and then cut it to pieces because they discover that it isn't suitable for that time slot. Although I've only just reached the end of season 2 of my Buffy rewatch, Syfy is showing season 6, so I thought I'd record it to watch when I reached that point. However, since I was languishing on the couch at the time one episode was aired (2 p.m.), I ended up watching it live. Several scenes made no sense at all, and I was increasingly baffled, until I remembered that old bane of Buffy broadcasts on the BBC: cuts. IIRC, the BBC showed it at tea time, and proceeded to cut pretty much every episode to remove violent scenes that they considered unsuitable for a teatime slot. They did the same to Angel, but to a much greater degree, rendering several episodes completely incomprehensible. The boxed set of Angel Season One is rated 18, yet the BBC clearly thought "fantasy/science fiction = for children" and put it on an inappropriate slot.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Posting from my phone, so I haven't done much of a Google on this... but LJ knows more than Google, anyway. I have vague memories of watching a cartoon some time between 1978 and c. 1984 that was like Battle of the Planets, but wasn't Battle of the Planets. My memory is that there were two very similar series airing at roughly the same time, both about heroic people (with wings?) fighting evil, but the very cursory search I've been able to do only throws up BotP.
ladyofastolat: (Winter is coming)
So, April 18th sees the airing of the first episode of A Game of Thrones, and on April 22nd - 24th, we're having another installment of our (spectacularly incompetent) Game of Thrones role-playing campaign. Since I've not reread the series since 2005, I was planning to reread the whole series in April, in honour of the TV series, and in order to remind me if there really are ten thousand Brians living on a small island in the north.

But now we've got a firm date for the next book in the series: July 12th. If I reread the series in April, I will have to spend nearly three months overflowing with impatience and anticipation. I know how my obsessions work, and I wouldn't be able to push the series to one side during this period, and just go off and read something else. I could do that with a wait of a year, but not with three months, especially with new TV episodes to keep it all current. If the TV series didn't exist, there would be no dilemma involved: I'd reread the series in June, ready to go seamlessly into the new book when it arrives.

So Yay! for a firm publication date of ADwD, but Wah! for the fact that it isn't closer to the air date of the TV series.

Buffy

Mar. 2nd, 2011 07:00 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've decided to rewatch Buffy from the very beginning. How long this resolution will last, I don't know. I've only got the first four seasons on DVD, anyway, so I'd have to do some buying if I wanted to watch beyond that. I didn't like the final season much at all, since it was all one long continuous, angst-ridden story, while I prefer self-contained episodes that although they might have a small thread of ongoing story in them, aren't dominated by them. While I loved Once More With Feeling, and found quite a lot of the geek trio's antics amusing, I found a lot of seasons 5 and 6 too grim, too. But we'll see how far I get. Buffy was always odd, in that I very much liked it, but never felt any urge to indulge in any fannish activity related to it.

Season 3 of Buffy is probably my favourite. Season 3 is probably my favourite season of the X-Files, too, due mostly to Darin Morgan's episodes, and I think my favourite Stargate Atlantis season is season 3, too. In all cases, season 3 contains episodes I don't like, and other seasons contain episodes I love, but I think that the general feel of all these shows was most to my taste during their third season. It makes me wonder just how much I would have loved season 3 of Firefly. (Although, knowing Joss Whedon, by then half the characters would have been dead, and the rest not speaking to each other. I do disagree with Joss Whedon's statement that he will always split up happy couples, because "happy couples are boring." Why can't we sometimes have a happy couple who are interesting individuals, who do interesting things and live interesting lives and have interesting relationships with friends and family and enemies and all, but just happen to do it against the backdrop of having a happy romantic partnership to go back to every night?)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I was considerably cheered up last night by catching the last half hour of what must be the most hilariously awful made-for-Syfy movie ever, and then chuckling over the just as hilarious bad reviews on IMDB. I missed the start, but apparently scientists have been trying to embiggen food sources. Naturally, the first animal they test this on is a piranha. Things Go Wrong. The piranhas (which, for some reason, double in size each day, which presumably means that they will end up as bigger than the entire world in a rather short period of time that I can't be bothered to work out) escape from their Amazon home due to the machinations of a sub-plot, but decide not to bother eating the locals, and instead head towards Washington. When we started watching, they were in the process of shrugging off a direct hit from a nuclear warhead, and eating the submarine that fired it. Later, they reached Florida, where, despite being bigger than double decker buses, they were able to launch themselves out of water three inches deep, fly 200 yards through the air, and crash into the top of a tower block. (How this helped their survival, I don't know.) Smoke was seen billowing from towers well inland, so presumably they can teleport, too.

In the end, some intrepid divers managed to wound one of the fish, so all the others stopped their incredibly badly animated eating of humans, and raced off to tear their injured comrade to pieces. The heroes rejoiced in slow motion against a sunset, and announced that the world was saved, conveniently ignoring the fact that the sole injured fish would have been eaten in minutes, and the rest of the piranhas would then return to their regularly scheduled hurling of themselves at inland hotels.

It's being shown again in the wee small hours of Friday night. I think I might just record it for the next time I require a laugh.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
American High Schools, as depicted on screen, are about a million miles from anything I recognise from my own, non-American school days. I have often wondered how much of the depiction of American schools is real, and how much is exaggeration, inaccurate cliche, or just plain wrong.

So I will start with the question that worries me whenever I watch Glee: do cheerleaders really live in their uniforms during all their waking hours?
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Thanks to those who replied to my request for info. on HD TV. We did decide to go for Sky HD in the end, although we cancelled out subscription to Sky Movies as we did so, so will be paying less than we have been paying. I hardly ever watched anything on Sky Movies (I say "I", rather than "we," since Pellinor is even less of a film and TV watcher than I am), so it seemed sensible to stop paying for it. However, I think I'll subscribe to Love Film, to fill the gap with DVD rentals. I'll finish playing Borderlands first, though.

Speaking of Borderlands... It's all very annoying. Pellinor and I were nearing the end of our two-player playthrough the other day, and went in search of the various downloadable expansion packs. We soon found that a new edition of the basic game came out only days after we bought our copies, including not only the original game, but all the downloadable content. It was much cheaper to rebuy the game in this new edition than to buy all the various downloadable bits separately. So we now have two copies of the basic Borderlands game, sans downloadable content, if anyone wants 'em. But it's all very annoying. If only we'd bought them a week later...

Back to Sky, though... Pellinor ordered the new Sky box early in the week, and they said it would probably arrive on Saturday. A "we tried to deliver your parcel" note came through the door for Pellinor on Thursdays, but Pellinor was puzzled, claiming not to have ordered anything recently. I collected it on Friday, and told him on the phone that it was a rectangular box, quite heavy. Neither of us had any idea what it could possible be, and I was going to leave it in its packaging for Pellinor to unwrap on Sunday. (He's somewhere near Bristol this weekend, sleeping in an Iron Age village under a fake tiger skin, rousing every now and then to fight off the hordes of evil.) I was amazingly slow to realise that this was almost certainly the Sky box. Unfortunately, I can't install it until Pellinor gets back, since my muscles are too pathetic to move the TV cabinet.

Finally, I got my new phone on Thursday, and have been having fun with it ever since. It's nice having the ability to look at LJ during my lunch break at work. Admittedly, it's pretty difficult to view it on such a tiny screen, but at least I have the option. LJ got blocked at work a few months ago, and I find it rather frustrating to do a post before work in the morning, and then be unable to reply to the comments that I can see coming on on email during the day.

EDIT: And while I'm here: I've asked Pellinor and my parents to get me a new camera for my birthday, but I have no idea what new camera. My current digital camera was fairly state-of-the-art when I got it, but that was many years ago, and it's really showing its age. I mostly take pictures of hillsides, seascapes, castles and the like, which gives me time to set up a good shot, but I do sometimes take pictures of fast-moving Morris dancers, when I want to be able to snap the moment instantly. Anyone got any recommendations of a good, recent camera that suits my needs?

HDTV

Oct. 18th, 2010 06:39 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Is HDTV really the best thing since sliced bread, as they would have you believe?

The thing is, our Sky box has broken. It's been showing its age for a while, and yesterday it suddenly stopped letting us play back recordings or record new stuff. Apparently Sky no longer produce non-HD Sky Plus boxes, so our options are:
- Pay around £70 to get an engineer out and take half a day off work to meet him. However, there's no guarantee that he'll be able to fix it
- Pay around £150 to get a non-HD Sky box from another source
- Pay £10 a month to subscribe to the HD channels (minimum contract: 12 months), and get a free HD box thrown in - plus a £15 if we choose to install it ourselves, and a lot more if we get a chap in to do it.

Since there doesn't seem to be anything in the contract to say that we can't drop the HD channels after a year, the HD route looks more cost-effective than getting a non-HD box, but I just wanted to hear about HD TV from someone who isn't trying to persuade me to buy it. I can't say I've ever missed it so far. We're not big TV watchers, and have never felt the urge to get posh speakers or anything like that. I record about 6 programmes a week, and some of those are things like QI and HIGNFY, where I don't really care whether I see Ian Hislop's head in wonderful resolution.

Actually, given that most of the things I watch are on Freeview, I was wondering if we need Sky at all, but I'm reluctant to get rid of it. I'm not fannish about anything at the moment, but most of the things I have been fannish about have been on channels that aren't on Freeview, and The Game of Thrones TV series is going to be on Sky.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
On The Apprentice last night, the teams were challenged with creating a new and original beach product. On the women's team, one member was insistent that one enormous overwhelming problem confronts all who visit a beach: how to hold your book. I found this an interesting revelation. I'm not one for beach holidays myself, so I hadn't realised that the act of lying down on the sand renders your hands unusable. Do crabs latch on to your fingers? Are there enormous safety notices urging you to keep your hands hidden in case passing sharks take a fancy to them? If so, why has this problem been allowed to last so long without a public outcry? Why aren't questions being asked at high level? Why isn't something being done? Thank goodness we have this bold Apprentice team, heroically attempting to deal with the problem in their own small way.
 
Despite initial reluctance, the rest of the team ended up going with this idea, and created a book holder for the beach. It consisted of frame thing that stuck into the sand, with a plastic pocket attached. You slotted your open book behind a layer of transparent plastic, and settled down to read. "How do you turn the pages?" I shouted, but none of the team raised this point. When the team proceeded to pitch their product to three major retailers, not one of them asked the question, either. Every time you finish a page, you will need to remove the book from the holder, turn the page, and insert it back in again. Since your fingers are under constant threat by sharks, this is clearly out of the question. I can only assume that anyone visiting a beach is resigned to the fact that they will spend the whole day confronted with a double page spread, and will have no desire to move on. Perhaps sand reduces the concentration span, or something. What a good thing that the team understood this!
 
Untutored as I am in the ways of beach holidays, I couldn't work out how you were supposed to read those two pages. The contraption remained upright - admittedly a rather wobbly sort of upright - by being driven into the sand. It looked to me as if the book was held upright, a few inches above the sand. Upright doesn't suit lying on your front, but you can't read something that's a few inches above the sand if you're lying on your back. Presumably it's normal practice on the beach to dig large holes and lie in them at a 45 degree angle, with only your head protruding.
 
Given all this, the product is clearly a work of genius. I only wish I could buy one now, to solve all my book-reading problems.
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
I was just idly channel-hopping while eating lunch, and I came across Brian Blessed appearing in Family Fortunes. Not only was he appearing in Family Fortunes, he was also giving all his winnings to homeless kittens. Brian Blessed does not do such things. Brian Blessed exists in storm-tossed castles, waving a mace and roaring defiance at the enemy. Brian Blessed lives in flocks a thousand strong on the island of Skagos, where he roars at our adventuring party and tries to hack us to pieces. Brian Blessed does not exist in the same world as tacky game shows. What next? Sauron appearing on a home makeover show? Darth Vader on Strictly Come Dancing? Voldemort spending a summer slobbing around in the Big Brother house?
ladyofastolat: (Winter is coming)
I'd totally forgotten that the first promotional videos for the TV version of A Game of Thrones were coming out this weekend, so thank you, [livejournal.com profile] evilmissbecky, for sending me a link to them yesterday. I've now spent the best part of the last hour poring over various fansites' frame-by-frame commentaries. I know there are quite a few GRRM fans here, so if anyone else, like me, missed the original films, you can see them here. Westeros.org has some very detailed analysis of loads of screencaps from the films, which takes a while to click through. Winter is Coming has a less detailed version, with fewer screencaps, but all on a single page.

I'm really excited about this TV series now. I'm often rather wary when they film a book that I love, but with this one, all the signs have been really good from the start.
ladyofastolat: (probably ritual)
I watched Digging for Britain last night, which was about recent archaeological discoveries pertaining to prehistoric Britain. I found it quite interesting, and looked up some more information about it, only to find that it was episode two. What on earth could episode one be about, I wondered, if episode two started with the very earliest evidence of human habitation of the British Isles? Episode one, it turns out, was about Romans. Why? Why? Why? Why on earth would anyone want to make things like this out of chronological order? I find it quite baffling.

Anyway, the sunny intervals the BBC website promised me are finally looking imminent, and the rain has stopped for now, so I think I'll go out for a walk. I'd hoped to do an epic trek along the cliffs of the south-west coast, but I don't trust the rain not to return, so think I'll limit myself to the built-up coast near Cowes. I'm working tomorrow and dancing on Sunday, but the forecast for Monday looks more promising, so perhaps I'll tackle the cliffs then.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've been in a 40s film mood lately, but am finding it hard to find them. When I was a teenager, there would usually be a couple of black and white films on BBC2 during the day, and I watched loads of them during the school holidays. I particularly liked 40s British films, but I also enjoyed American film noir, and of course any swashbuckler. (I had a point system for swashbuckling duels - points for beheaded candles, for chandelier swinging, and for exciting use of shadows etc.) I remember a series of programmes about British films of this era - all of them from one particular studio, I think. It might possibly have been called "Best of British," and it had really stirring title music, which I liked very much, and which sometimes made me cry. (I'm a sucker for a montage of silent clips done to a stirring soundtrack.) I recorded it and rewatched it voraciously, determined to track down as many films as possible, and the majority of them turned up on BBC2 before very long.

Now I've got loads of Sky movie channels as well as the terrestrial channels, but am finding black and white films of any description in short supply, even on the channels devoted to classics. I suppose part of the problem is that there is a far larger back-catalogue of films around now than there was in 1985. A 70s film*, or even an 80s one, can now be shown as a classic, and the 40s ones are pushed out.

One film that really impressed me very much back then was "Odd Man Out," which I see in on TV next week. I'll be interested to see if I like it as much this time round, since it's a very emotional film, and I often find that emotional films don't work anything like as well for me on a second viewing. However, I really want to watch loads more black and white films in which British actors speak in beautifully clipped accents. At least there seem to be more available on DVD than there were last time I looked, some years ago, so maybe I'll just need to start filling my Amazon wishlist.

* I'm not sure why, but I've got a strong bias against films from the 70s, although there are of course exceptions to this. I seem to remember that Empire magazine recently concluded that the 70s was the single greatest decade for films, but if I see a 70s date on a film, I tend to pass on by.

** I've certainly never heard any modern person sound like people sound in recordings from the 30s and 40s. Did anyone really speak like this in real life? If so, why have accents changed so fast? Have accents always changed fast, or is it the influence of TV and the like at work? I also like listening to the accents of American actors in films from the 40s, since they often don't sound at all "American" to me. I am, though, pretty hopeless at accents.
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
Yesterday morning, while sewing pies, I was watching David Attenborough's Life of Birds, which I found on some obscure channel. (It's amazing how often I can go through several hundred channels and fail to find a single thing that I'm willing to watch while sewing.) Honey liked it, too. Then, at the end of the third one I'd watched, he told us that the next episode would be about birds feed on mammals. The next episode started with ducks, and then moved on to herons and divers and the like. I find this all quite worrying. All these years, I've been treating ducks as mild-mannered pretty things that jostle for bread, but all along, they've been slaughtering voles and kittens under the cover of their dabbling and comical quacks.

Then, in the afternoon, we did our first role-playing game conducted via modern technology. We only had occasional technical problems - a microphone that wouldn't work, and an attack by a fake virus scanner that claimed that the laptop was riddled with threats, and refused to shut up about it until we handed over our credit card details to buy the solution. (We didn't do this, I hasten to add.)

Apart from that, it all worked very well. We had an online dice roller, we could have a seven way conversation via Skype, and people could type private messages if they wanted to plot without the others knowing - probably even more subtle than grabbing the GM during a real game and walking into another room. Strangely, although we all had the ability to talk to each other, many of us spent half the time communicating with the group by text. Since we were all sitting at our computers, any idle question that came up could be answered always immediately by a breathless messenger from the monastery of Saint Wiki, who fortuitously came racing up to our party and told us the answer to the question we'd just been musing about.

Our game setting was 1453 in Constintinople, currently assailed by 100,000 Turks. (The number was stressed so often that we became desperate to kill just one of Turks, to mess the number up.) Our vitally important mission seemed to involve an awful lot of time hanging around the baths in a brothel. Actually, we should probably have stayed there, since when we ventured out of the brothel, we ended up fighting a killer crocodile in the sewers, with rather serious consequences for various party members' limbs. But it all ended happily, because I found my One True Love, and we are now going to be together forever more, and anyone who tries to part us will feel the sharp end of my rather small dagger. So there.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've been musing lately on the issue of enjoying a work of fiction despite not believing in its premise.

Long ramblings within )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I had great fun the other night with the songs from the Horrible Histories TV show. The songs from the first series are nothing special, in my opinion, but some of the ones from the second series are quite inspired. Each one is a pastiche of a different genre, so we have the Vikings performing a soft rock anthem, the first four King Georges in a boy band ballad, Charles II rapping about being King of Bling, the Spartans performing a High School Musical, and Blackbeard telling his life story in a Gilbert and Sullivan style number. You can find them all here. My favourites are the Vikings, Blackbeard and both the George songs, but I advise against watching the Inca one, unless you want it in your head for the rest of the day. It's quite hideously catchy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/horriblehistories/song1.shtml

3D

Jul. 28th, 2010 08:23 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I saw my first 3D film last night. The mere fact that I could see it was something of a relief, since I'd been worrying that I'd have problems. Someone had told me that people who can't see those Magic Eye pictures have problems seeing 3D films, and I could never get those things to work. Added to that, I've never been able to use binoculars, and my two eyes are very different - one of them quite badly short-sighted, and the other fairly long-sighted. For normal viewing, they more or less cancel each other out - although less and less well; I really do need to go to an optician one day - but I feared that this would cause problems with 3D viewing.

However, I managed to see things completely adequately, although whether my eyes meant that I was seeing it less well than I should have been seeing it, I have no way of knowing. I wasn't amazed by the technology, though. At times, I felt it created some rather striking effects, but I really need to compare it side by side with a 2D version to see how much was added by this. Other times, I felt it all seemed rather unnecessary. It didn't ruin anything, and it might even have enhanced things, but I didn't leave the cinema thinking that this was the best thing since sliced bread.

Moreover, before the film started, we had some trailers for 3D TV, where they really had pulled out all the stops to show off the technology. It was far more obviously 3D than the film itself, and this bit I found very distracting. It showed footballers floating in front of a dull, out of focus background, in a way that looked to me little different from badly-done rear projection. It looked to me like a picture with lots of layers that didn't relate to any of the other layers. I've spent my whole life accepting the fiction that a 2D piece of film shown on a rectangular screen shows reality. Any change from that - even a change that is supposed to make it seem more realistic - looks less realistic to me, since it's different from what I've accepted as reality for so long. I have the same problem with films done with a hand-held camera. Quite apart from the fact that they make me ill, it shouts "unreality!" to me, since I become so aware of the camera work that I can't suspend my disbelief and just immerse myself in the story.

But this was just my first encounter with the technology. I expect I'll get used to it. Though, at present, I don't think I'd miss it if it went away and never came back.

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