rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

19-7-2005 (archived)

Madagascar” is quite a bit better than the early trailers suggested. It's still hard to avoid the feeling that one of the Dreamworks executives saw Monsters Inc and went “hair! Yeah, we can do hair! Let's do animals!”

Of course if there's one thing that the picture makes clear, it's that they can't do hair anything like as well as Pixar, and indeed apart from the mostly-poor mane of Alex they don't even really try. Still, and despite the fairly obvious lifts (in particular the zebra. Now, where have I seen a wise-cracking computer-animated equine voiced by a famous black American stand-up before?) parts of this work pretty well, especially the criminally underused zoo monkeys and Sacha Baron Cohen's film-stealing king of the lemmings. We've rather been spoiled by the recent crop of Hollywood animations; we've come to expect them to shine, and, while not bad, this is just a little bit average.

20-7-2005 (archived)

So we went to see Ned Evett on Saturday at the Iguana. I'd seen him once before, supporting Joe Satriani in 2002, and remembered being thoroughly entertained by virtuoso fretless playing and fun loop-sampling, so I was expecting some entertaining guitar fireworks. What I actually got was quite a lot better.

Sure, there was plenty of scary guitar playing, and there was loop sampling, but it was all being used for the music - what we got was a singer-songwriter with very strong songs, performing completely live and using the toys just to fill out the sound. The best thing I can say about his fretless is that, really, most of the time one didn't notice; and the loop-sampling was used to fill out exactly the sort of songs that would work perfectly well with just a solo acoustic anyway, to build up grooves, and to solo. In fact, it made me want a loop sampler for my solo acoustic set.

Brilliant. See him if you can, and buy his records.

23-7-2005 (archived)

On Friday I went for dinner with (amongst others) this man, and because of the nature of his blog I can even tell you that it was this dinner. I do not, in general, regard myself as a man likely to eat aubergines, but the Great Wall in general and that dish in particular have long been among my favourites.

I would not, myself, fancy my chances if I had to eat a “significantly different” dinner every day for a year. I probably don't manage that in a typical week, and certainly not a typical month. Still, Jon's managing to make the challenge both readable and interesting, probably even for those who are less interested in food than I. Good stuff.

25-7-2005 (archived)

There are lots of sites around that analyse lyrics, which I find frankly of limited interest; I'm of the “lyrics are just pitched mouth noises” Zappa school, which doesn't stop me fretting endlessly about the triteness of my own. Much more useful, though, would be sites that talk interestingly about interesting music. There's plenty of this around in the classical tradition, but not so much in rock, so a site like this excellent analysis of Queen songs is a rare and wonderful thing. Fascinating stuff, and not without inspiration for songwriters. (Via Trucuto.)

27-7-2005 (archived)

Fantastic Four” (no definite article here, thank you) was not an optional movie for me, not so much because of the always-alluring Jessica Alba as my memories of the cartoons as a child. Obviously this is not great cinema, and unlike almost every other comic adaption of recent years it's not even remotely dark, tormented or brooding. They're heroes, they rock, they care about each other, and everything's shiny. Rubbish, of course, and desperately predictable, but at least it's highly enjoyable, watchable rubbish.

30-7-2005 (archived)

Wait, we're building a big fucking fusion reactor already? When did we get to the future? Cool.

2-8-2005 (archived)

It's been filmed before, but Burton and Depp's “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a fresh beginning. Yes, it is different to the thirty-year-old Wilder version, dramatically so; and while it carries a lot of the book's lines forward, most notably the song lyrics, there are a few changes - notable a deepening and richening of Wonka's character, up to and including some back-story.

So, what's to like? It's visually stunning, perfectly played, quite unsettling, beautifully resolved, and Depp makes the part his own so thoroughly that it's unimaginable anybody else could ever consider playing it again. And what's not? Well, nothing. I wouldn't change a single frame. One of the great children's stories, told perfectly.

4-8-2005 (archived)

Tuesday week ago I had laser corrective surgery on my eyes. Since it seems like they're probably not going to go all pus-ridden or burst or anything now, I decided to write about it. It's in multiple sections, partly because there's a lot of it and partly so that those of you who are easily disturbed by talking about eye stuff can skip the details, so it's gone in as a “thought” here.

6-8-2005 (archived)

I have wasted hours and hours playing Polar Rescue. Sadly I don't think they'll ever write the other levels, which is a shame - penguin commandos should be encouraged. James Bond isn't actually wearing a dinner suit, you know, he's just looking for a little of that Antartic swimming-bird vibe.

8-8-2005 (archived)

Rather to my surprise, this is post number 500, which means it's the next in the chain of meta-writing. Films are still a lot of the content; I make it 42 film reviews, over 41 posts, from the last 99 posts, and I'd actually have guessed more. Most of the rest falls under link-plus-commentary, and I'd guess that probably only a dozen or so of those posts have a good chunk of non-film-related original content. Certainly the biggest single item has been the laser surgery writeup from a couple of posts ago, which is over 3,000 words and has generated almost as much email and comment as everything else I've ever written put together. Obviously I should have life-changing surgery more often.

One thing that has changed over the last couple of hundred posts is that I no longer feel able to write about anything I want to, here. If I'd known when I started it that I'd be changing careers, this might have been anonymous, or at least hard to connect with my name, rather than being the number one Google return. As it is, I have to accept that there are some things I can't really put up in public, and so I have other places to write about those; still, I probably don't do that as much as I would have, back when I was working with adults. (If you don't know about these places and think you should, you can email me. If I teach you, don't bother.) It's also true that a lot of things I could write about might not belong here anyway, and I have other, less permanent, outlets when I need them.

Apparently people are still reading, which is nice (and, frankly, continues to surprise me almost as much as it pleases me); I'm still doing 150 to 200 page reads per day, on average, which I find really startling. What am I saying that brings in between two and four thousand site visits per month? Those aren't big numbers, by any means, but they're bigger than I ever thought I'd reach. There are even more than twenty different people on the various update-notification feeds, and that only count the ones that are well-enough-mannered to tell me how many people they're feeding.

I don't see that much change coming here in the near future. The movie reviews will continue, at least provided that Cineworld keep their promise to continue offering the old UGC Unlimited scheme that lets me go light-hearted to bad movies. There will be links with brief comment when I have cool things but no time or inspiration, and occasional longer discussion and think piece when I do. There are a couple in the works at the moment, in fact. There will be new music eventually, but if I'm honest it's not likely to be soon. There will be more politics, when I get over being depressed by it enough to get angry again. There will certainly be more recommendations; there are a lot of people I'm reading whom you should be, and I've not talked about them all yet. One way or another, three times a week pretty much week in week out, there'll be something here I thought was maybe worth you seeing. Thanks for seeing it.