Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thirty-nine plot holes

I read The Thirty-Nine steps recently. It was awful. Truly terrible. Full of bizarre, utterly implausible 'as luck would have it' moments and some terribly dull chapters in which Hannay scuffs his shoes about a bit and talks with an accent to give the criminal masterminds the slip.

The bits everyone knows from the film(s) - being chase by a plane, escaping from a train, hanging from Big Ben - never happen in the book. N.B. The plane does exist, but it never chases him, just looks for him - YAWN.

It's interesting though that, with so many adaptations, from stage to screen to small screen (I've seen them all) the story doesn't really exist in any one form. It's open to interpretation. In the book the 39 steps, the actually steps, are just some boring steps from the back of a house to the sea. In one film version they are steps to the clock face inside Westminster Tower while in both Hitchcock's films and the stage version they name refers to an organisation of spies.

So often films are berated for ruining the essence, subtle, characters of a book. However, sometimes the touch of an outside who sees that having a character run to the wilds of Scotland, only to just 'happen' to walk into the ring leader of the entire evil organisations' house, is slightly improbably, and could be easily tidied up by making the hero Hannay have to go to Scotland as part of the story involving the The 39 steps. Buchann simply sends him to Scotland as he has family ties there and it’s a good place to hide. Silly.

On to William Golding's Rites of Passage now, which won the 1980 Booker Prize, so should be better. He comes from Cornwall too, which not a lot of people know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

All the world's a stage

So said Shakespeare anyway. But, this was in a time before pub quizzes and microphones. He would have thought differently if he ever played a pub quiz that I ventured to last night.

While the quality of the quiz and the questions are generally fine (apart from "who is currently leading the F1 standings?" to which the pub responded "it's not started yet". (What did he have as the answer then?)), the man in charge is someone who clearly believes he is an orator, a comedian and a raconteur all rolled into one.

He spends the entire quiz booming loud, inane and asinine comments about nothing in particularly into the microphone. Or he sings snippets of songs and general other nonsense. But most annoyingly of all, this man is a councillor for a nearby London borough.

This means, every other thing he says, is something sanctimonious, OTT, in your face piece of political posturing, about the wonders of Labours, the horrors of the Tories, every date or location referenced to some heroic Labour cabinet member, or some vile Conservative MP; it's utterly tiring.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The dream, it dies.

Okay Marion, concentrate, four years training, you can do this. Focus, remember what coach told you, hit the start hard, get some early speed up, build towards the middle, then fly to the end. Right, here we go, oh.

Very strange

Stood outside Oxford Street tube last night while it was closed due to overcrowding me and the rest of the impotent mass of post-work workers wishing we were elsewhere were subjected to this bizarre message from the Tannoy (okay, Alan, public address system) several times.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, you are being held outside due to overcrowding. Please do not stray from the pavement into the road."

Are we dogs? Have people been found wandering aimlessly in the road before when held outside? Does life lose all meaning for these people when they find the gates shut? Do the hordes of eager tube-travellers back up the steps, and in the confusion, spill out into the road, resulting in mass casualities?

Apparently so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3D thoughts

Finally got around to seeing Avatar last night. Have to say I was utterly blown away. The visuals, as you've no doubt read, are truly stunning. Like nothing I've ever seen before. At one point I flinched as a gas canister was shot 'past' me while one several other occassions I had to stop myself from trying to swat away a bug that was on screen. And by swatting it away rather than becoming at one with it you can see what would have happened to me in that movie.

The most levelled criticism at the film has been that the story is obvious and, less said, that the acting is leaden. I didn't see much evidence of either. While I would admit the plot is perfectly predictable in the majority of the storyline I fail to see how else you could film something so epic and spectacular and not need to resort to a simplistic plot line in order to make the most of the compelling visuals at your disposal. Make it too complicated and you just risk confusing people.

I'm certainly glad I saw it though, as I think it is likely to be regarded for some years as film that brought on a new (golden?) age of cinema by finally making 3D a technology that works. And even the glasses are alright too. Expect them to become this year's quirky festival fashion accessory.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Teddy boys

Valentine's Day. Why do so many cards, and other assorted paraphernalia for the day, feature teddy bears giving each other massive hearts?

In many of these images the teddy in question look as if it is straining under the weight of the heart. Secondly, it makes no sense. Why would a living, romantic teddy give his/her partner a huge heart, far bigger than his own. Where did it get it from? Has the bear mauled someone to attain this heart? I don't understand.

From a human point of view it is odd too. Why would one human wish to give another something containing the image of a soppy looking bear holding a massive heart? I'd just find it creepy. Give me a funny, ideally pun influenced, card that speaks to me and shows that person knows me, rather than some drippy yet sinister bear parading around with human hearts offering it to another bear in some form of sacrificial offering.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

YouTube - Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Україна має талант / Ukraine's Got Talent)

Stunning what you can do with some sand.

More information here.

In the flesh

I like Richard Branson. He's got a winning smile, a good business brain (to put it mildly), and he seems like a nice chap too. Plus his wacky adventures are always headline grabbing.

I was in a room with him last night. He looked very similar to how he looks on TV. Which maybe an obvious statement but sometimes these 'famous' types don't measure up in real-life to their TV angled dimensions. Know what I mean?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Up the Gherkin

I love being high in London. No, not drugs (you low-minded individual) but height, elevation, altitude, your highness. It gives a spectacular view over the many and varied buildings below, and unique perspectives on the curve of the river, the location of distant landmarks like Battersea power station, and just a rare chance to escape the pounding pavements below for some peace and quiet.

I was up the Gherkin yesterday (which somehow just sounds a bit, well, risqué, doesn't it?) having climbed the 1,037 stairs to the top as part of the NSPCC's step change event and you can't deny Norman Foster's phallic building is yet another magnificent addition to the London skyline, like the London Eye. Being inside only underlined the unique architectural design of the building, at least from my non-existent knowledge of architectural design view anyway.

In the very top of the building, where it reaches its peak, it really does feel as if it could be a superhero's, or super-villain's, lair (I can't decide which, having not decided on which side I would fall if given super powers). Furthermore, because of the pattern of the building – an endless series of W's, like this: WWWW, (if you look at it right) it made me think that I could indeed live and fight crime / plot my universal domination, up there. What, with being a Worth an all.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Does this bus go to Bootersee?

A wild wind was whipping around the bus station, great lumbering beasts of red arrived and departed, wheezing their way to a stop, waiting for the frozen masses to climb aboard, before lurching off again. But my bus was nowhere to be seen as yet. I shivered, turned the page of book and waitied.

A man approached, I removed my earphones and he dutifully waited for my ears to be clear. Then he spoke.

"Douse thylg bluas gao on bouettersee?"

"I'm sorry I don't understand," I replied, with perfect diction.

"Doses buas ga ta buttersee?"



"Oh, Battersea?

"Yes, Bootersee."

"Oh I see, you need to get the 344, it'll be here in two minutes."

"Ah...noot the woon fiv sex?" he said, spying the 156 listed as going to Bootersee, I mean Battersea, as well.

"No, the 156 is very slow, take the 344."


Then, a 77 turned up. The man pointed to it, as it passed.

"Bootersee?" he asked, hopefully.

"No, the 344, it'll be here in one minute."


One minute later the 344 turned up. He turned and looked at me, but before he could open his mouth, I said,

"Yes, Bootersea, 344."

"Thunk youa," he replied.

He was a polite chap.

Posted via web from danworth's posterous