rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

9-12-2002 (archived)

Thanks to all who contacted me after my 5/12 entry. Blog as catharsis, indeed.

I once had the misfortune to be consigned to the Last MetroTrain to Leeds one Saturday night. It was like something out of Mad Max VII: The Train to Hell's Bad Neighbourhood. The scene: a well-lit, somewhat decrepit platform jutting out of the strange, geodesic excrescence that is Bradford Interchange. Assorted quasi-human anthropoids grunt and gibber on the concrete, scratching their nether regions and sniffing, while a gaggle of stilt-heeled crow-like females (resplendent in the black plumage that typifies the species) squawk encouragement from the sidelines. There's a mournful hoot from the end of the platform, then a noise not unlike an expiring whale as the train heaves into sight. It's a MetroTrain -- a pair of hacked busses welded end-to-end and dumped on top of an ancient locomotive of dubious provenance that was probably acquired by British Rail as part of an exchange deal with an obscure Columbian mountain railroad company run by gentlemen from Medelin.

Go and read this at once. It's great.

10-12-2002 (archived)

Homage or theft?

  • The "happy village of little people" idea was stolen from Willow.
  • The wise old wizard character was stolen from Harry Potter.
  • The "travelling on our quest through a corn field" scene was stolen from Shrek.
  • The character of the rebellious-but-helpful Ranger was stolen from Val Kilmer in Willow.
  • The concept of the violent dwarf was based on Al Pacino.

From 50 Reasons Lord of the Rings sucks. (Via J. Grant.)

Harry Potter and the Naked Quidditch Match? This made me laugh steadily for almost half an hour. I guess I'm easily amused.

11-12-2002 (archived)

I don't know why, or how, but I drew the line there. I'm not sure what sort of line it is to draw, to hang out with friends in crack dens and not smoke crack, but it's a line and I drew it.

Mark Pilgrim can write. The honesty and power are searing.

On a more puerile and completely scatalogical note, tales of the smear made me laugh far, far too hard. I do not know why.

13-12-2002 (archived)

This week's film review is “8 Women”, as the poster would have it. The film calls itself “8 femmes”; it's French, which I knew, subtitled, which I guessed, and each character breaks into song at a carefully chosen moment. I didn't know that in advance, and I'm glad, as I wouldn't have gone.

The piece is a one-room (almost) murder mystery pastiche. There's little tension or real drama, but it's not really that sort of film. It's visually delectable (and not only because of the presence of Emmanuelle Beart), very funny, beautifully over-acted, and thoroughly enjoyable. This is one of the benefits of paying for one's cinema visits by the month, rather than by the film; we went not out of any burning desire to see it, but as only thing on we even vaguely felt like watching, and were well rewarded.

17-12-2002 (archived)

More on the state of the music industry. Well worth reading. I was interested in his suggested record contract terms - they look extraordinarily generous to the artist, to me. His suggested 25% of a $9.98 price to apply against pressing costs is not much, unless you're pressing pretty big numbers. (Via Boing Boing.)

Also on the RIAA, and well worth reading: two articles from The Register.

18-12-2002 (archived)

Penfold requested an RSS feed, so he could aggregate this site as part of his Livejournal friends page. So, today I went through and added a small description to each of the existing blog entries (which doesn't show up in the actual entry), and wrote a script to scrape the last twenty entries into a feed. Bang, done. It validates, naturally. If you don't have an RSS reader, there's a fairly decent webclient.

I decided that while I was at it, I might as well scrape those descriptions into a full yet pithy index of the blog to date, so I can find an old entry quickly with a browser search-in-page. Not a completely pointless hour or two's hacking, I suppose.

This week's film review is “Dirty Pretty Things”. It's a very naturalistic film about the life of legal and illegal immigrants in London. It's occasionally funny, as well as beautifully shot, uplifting, heartbreaking, horrifying, exquisitely underacted, perfectly scripted, and totally believable. If you're liberal on the oh-so-vexing immigration question, you'll find it worthy as well as rewarding. If you're a Daily Mail reader (note for those who are not familiar with UK newspapers: not at all liberal on anything ever, and especially not this), you should definitely watch it.

20-12-2002 (archived)

This week's second film review is Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Go and see it. Lots.

I liked the first film a lot. I'm one of the many people who read LOTR as a youngster and loved it, but returned to it as an adult and realised it could do with better writing and much tighter editing. There's a sense in which this doesn't really matter, of course, since Tolkien was quite up-front about his intentions: to create an English mythology, rather than to write a novel as such.

I felt, on seeing The Fellowship, that Peter Jackson was recounting the myth better and more powerfully than Tolkien managed. The film was tighter, more focused, and (crucially) didn't have any utterly fucking dreadful poetry in it; the books can be greatly improved by skipping everything printed in italics. On the down side, the bits with Galadriel in were very, very bad, unconvincing enough to completely break my disbelief-suspension infrastructure.

Reading other reviews on the 'net, the view among Tolkien fanatics seems to be that this film loses compared to the first by being less loyal to the source text. I am going to draw the opposite conclusion from the same evidence.

This second film is quite a bit better than the first. Partly this is because it's less rushed; this second volume of the book drags terribly from about a quarter of the way in until about a quarter from the end, and much of this is either cut or replotted in the film. Partly it's because there's no Galadriel (or, at least, only for a few seconds - and they aren't anything like as bad).

Mainly, though, this installment is better for two big big reasons. One is Gollum, a huge leap forward in CG characterisation; the scenes where he is wrestling with his split personality are utterly brilliant. The other is the battle scenes. Helm's Deep is astounding and genuinely moving. The storming of Isengard is utterly superb. For me, though, the highlight was the encounter with the wargs en route to Helm's Deep; the impact as the sides meet is astonishing. Also, Legolas swinging one-handed into the saddle of a moving horse is incredibly cool.

These are, in fact, the best battle scenes and the best CG characterisation I have ever seen. It's not even close.

Aragorn continues to be impossibly charismatic. In the book, I always felt that the others were following Aragorn through experience of his quality as a leader. In this film version, you wouldn't need any reason to follow him other than the sheer presence of the man, which is growing as the trilogy goes on.

Bad things: the elves, except for Legolas and the others who are actually fighting. Now, making Liv Tyler look like an object of chaste worship, as opposed to deeply carnal desire, is a pretty good trick. That doesn't forgive the elves for being deeply deeply boring, though. Still, they aren't around for very long.

Go and see it. In a cinema with a big screen, where the battle scenes will be at their best. I don't think it's a truly great film, but that's not an achievable goal for an adaptation of this novel. It is, however, an utterly superb movie, as good as any I have seen.

23-12-2002 (archived)

Compliments of the season to you all. The blog will be unstaffed for a few days, but should return before the new year. Here, for your stockings, are some links.

A Leicestershire woman killed herself by consuming the caffeine equivalent of 700 cups of coffee, an inquest has heard.

But has she really taken her caffeine intake seriously? (Story via Die Puny Humans.)

David Brin can tell you what's wrong with Star Wars,

29-12-2002 (archived)

Like MacArthur, I return. I spent the last week at my mother's house; I did not leave the house from the Monday I arrived there until the Saturday I left. I am rested, and it is good.

Do you ever have trouble keeping track of who's doing what with whom in Sunnydale? If so, I recommend the Buffy Sex Graph. (Via jwz.)

In the spirit of Christmas over-indulgence, anyone for burgers?

30-12-2002 (archived)

Steinberg, makers of Cubase (which I use), have been sold. Happily, it does not look like this will have anything like the fallout that the Apple/Emagic deal had for PC users.

David Rees's My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable was a site of surreal, occasionally updated cartoons about karate and filing. The equally sporadic but far more real and painful Get your War On is one of the funniest, and truest, things I have seen. Every so often, somebody'll blog it and I'll realise he's done another few since I last checked. Go get some.