rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

2-6-2004 (archived)

Things that have amused or cheered me today include:

A Saturday Night Live sketch taking off Harry Potter, prominently featuring the prominent features of Lindsay Lohan (who apparently is not 18 until next month; she looks older). This pretty much sums up what I'm half-expecting the episode after next to be like, given that Emma Watson will be about that age by then.

Cory Doctorow's appreciation of Red Mars, the first volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's astonishing trilogy. Not only does he share a lot of my thoughts on probably the most interesting and capable hard SF writer in the world at the moment, he's pointed me at some more of Stan's work I should be reading.

The fact that I've finished assembling all the documentation for my PGCE. Which means that I can now go to bed. Yay me.

5-6-2004 (archived)

This week's film review is “Troy”, a rather bland historical epic with a tie-in book by the father from the Simpsons.

The melee scenes are suprisingly poor, apart from the rolling fireballs. The acting is weak or worse throughout. The script is stilted, and the mythological backstory is ignored completely (if “Achilles Heel" weren't such a familiar phrase the ending would mystify everyone). For popular consumption Patroclus becomes Achilles's cousin, and disappointingly the verbal quote marks are omitted throughout the film. However, it's packed full of pretty people, with both Pitt and Bana looking great in and Kruger shot to titillate the audience occasionally too. The individual fights are OK, and it's not a horrible film - just not a good one.

7-6-2004 (archived)

I had to buy petrol yesterday, as my car was pretty much running on fumes, so I went along to Asda - where fully half the pumps had run out of unleaded. Are people really panic-buying, or is it just common or garden incompetence?

Raising the incompetence ante rather, the pump I wound up using didn't have its automatic shutoff working right, so I spilled petrol all over my shin and foot. Imagine my joy.

This entry has no punchline.

9-6-2004 (archived)

There is hope for me yet.

12-6-2004 (archived)

This week's film review is “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, the third in the series. Like the last one, this will work considerably better if you're familiar with the book, but I know plenty of people who aren't and loved it anyway. This film has several advantages over its predecessors, not least a slightly older and more experienced central cast. Sadly Michael Gambon is not quite as successful as Richard Harris's Dumbledore, but Radcliffe's Harry is vastly improved, while even Ron is played less badly. Emma Watson delivers a really good performance as Hermione, showing that she at least will have a career as an adult if she wants one, and the new faces of Gary Oldman and David Thewlis are superb. Alan Rickman remains the best part of the film, as he is always likely to.

It's probably no surprise that these films get the cream of British acting; quite apart from their ability to pay and the exposure such a part brings, even an actor who has resisted the lure of the books would be unlikely to brave the disgust and disappointment of young relatives and the children of friends for turning such a part down. What is delightful is the lack of ego on display here, everyone playing their part without looking to steal a scene. The effects are mostly good, and while it may not be trivial to follow if you haven't read this best book of the series so far, and while the really emotionally wringing parts of the book are not brought to the screen (there simply isn't time for the character development we need; this, like the earlier movies, does rely on most of its crowd being familiar with the material already), this is a deeper, darker, richer and simply better film than its predecessors. (Not everyone agrees that it's all that different, and since Cherie Priest is funny and interesting I recommend her as representative of those wrong in this particular way.)

If the Dementors were as scary as Peter Jackson's Ringwraiths, this would have been wonderful; sadly, they're the worst bit of the film, limp and unscary. Still, this is comfortably the best of the series so far, the best kid's movie for quite a while, and great entertainment for grownups too.

15-6-2004 (archived)

Cowboy boots like mine are wonderful things - comfortable, suitable for many occasions and likely to last a decade of daily wear. The one thing that doesn't is the soles, especially the as-supplied slippery leather ones, so every couple of years one lays out twenty-five quid or so on new rubber soles and heels.

I lost a heel-cover last week and dropped them in to the shop (a well-known repair chain) on Friday afternoon, promised them on Saturday lunchtime. Of course, when I get there to pick them up they're not even started. At the end of the day, we return to collect them and it is explained that this branch doesn't have the machine they need to do the soles on this kind of boot, and so they need to go across town. To the other branch I walked past twice a few hours apart this afternoon. So if they'd been attempted in time for twelve, as promised, I could have taken them myself. Dammit.

So I ended up buying some cheap shoes from the supermarket on Sunday in order to have something presentable for school on Monday. Which, on the walk to collect the (well repaired) boots on Monday afternoon, had a good go at amputating my toes, and managed to cut the top of my foot.

Pity me.

18-6-2004 (archived)

Yet another fantastic flash-game timesink: yetisports, part 5. So far my best on this release version (after a half hour of semi-drunken playing) is 2589. Beat me.

20-6-2004 (archived)

The score for the last few days is as follows. Forgetting my umbrella: bad (done this three times in as many days). Finishing my PGCE: good. Saying goodbye to my PGCE clique: bad. Keeping in touch: good. No gig for the last two months: bad! Productive rehearsal and a gig next week: good! My car playing up like a whiny little bitch: bad, bad, bad. Movie and a curry with my best friend: gooooood. Update times for this place getting increasingly random: bad. Still managing three a week: good. Getting a contract for the summer back at my alma mater, starting tomorrow: excellent.

So, all in all, life is pretty good. I'm glad that's settled.

21-6-2004 (archived)

I run Debian linux at home, which means that when I want to install the latest version of anything that they've thoroughly tested I type “apt-get install <whatever>” and it magically happens. When I do this with Mozilla I get the rather old version 1.0, which is ok enough. But today I discovered that I can go to the site and grab a version 1.7 installer that works perfectly, and has lots of wonderful new shininesses - some of which, like the better tab handling, and especially the wonderful incremental link-search that makes mouse use completely redundant on most pages, combine to make this the best browser I have ever seen. Heartily recommended.

I also recommend Padraig, who has really hit a patch of form. For a while he's been mostly photoblogging, perhaps because of the difficult times he's written about so powerfully and honestly, but his voice seems to have returned. My favourite flags and coefficient of fiction are consecutive and beautiful. Many of my friends write now, and several of us do so well; it is good that one of us sets the rest such a high standard.

23-6-2004 (archived)

Another day, another chance to “big up” my friends (I'm so hip I have an extra leg. Beatch) with good reason - Jeremy was pretty sure that Huntley was not in fact connected to the kids he killed by his job. (For those on a different planet, like America, Ian Huntley was a school caretaker who killed two schoolgirls.) Turns out Jeremy's right; they were at Huntley's girlfriend's school, not his.

There's been a huge debate over the vetting procedures for people who work with children, procedures I'm now fairly well aware of having just filled out my second background check disclosure application in under a year. The current process isn't too horribly intrusive, but it's easy to imagine how the sort of raging illiberal hysteria that generally follows this sort of thing could make the profession an unbearable place to be. It's not as though there's a huge shortage of properly qualified teachers, after all. Oh, wait a moment.

So, the problem wasn't that he wasn't properly vetted (though that is, of course, a problem); the problem here is that he was going out with somebody who was. Are we really going to suggest that prospective dates of people in caring professions should be required to send off for a background check (and wait the several months they often take to come through)?

Jeremy's angle on it is slightly different, as well as literate, coherent and as angry as we all should be at yet another horrific tabloid witch-hunt. Read it.