January 18, 2007

It's been a while

since I looked up at the radio to properly listen to a song:

Mika – Grace Kelly

For a moment I thought Freddie Mercury had risen.


January 17, 2007

Coincidence

I think not

I watch Ugly Betty. It’s funny in a simple way. I still have to see if the show works on more than one level though.

I finally managed to get a proper copy of Grim Fandango, simply the best adventure game I’ve played. It turns out I still remember most tricks – unfortunate in one way, but it helps getting the amazing plot along!

In Grim Fandango you play Manny Calavera, some undead guy with a Spanish accent. After a while you remember what his voice sounds like, as you need to talk a lot in this game.

Tonight I watched Ugly Betty again. And I heard Manny Calavera! He is Betty’s dad! It’s honestly the most exciting cross-media revelations I’ve encountered, ever. The actor’s called Tony Plana, if you’re interested, and apparently he’s been in 24 series 4 too. Talented man. Great voice.

In the mean time, I’m listening to 3cdigital, a country music radio station – trust me, it’s soothing – and the song now playing sounds exactly like Ghetto Superstar! Or at least the chorus does. Oh, obviously Wikipedia knows all and the song is Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s Islands in the Stream.


January 13, 2007

Mistaken

The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia. We use the term indigenous to describe the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe. The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples have been, over the past few thousands years, instrumental in defining the character of our family of nations.

This is the most appalling mission statement I’ve ever read. And it’s not even the message I’m concerned about (at least not now).

our homeland for millennia
In the first sentence, the BNP refers to its members having had a homeland for millennia. In my mind, millennia implies at least 2000 years, so a BNP member would have some Celtic or possibly Roman blood through his or her veins.

The second sentence is spent denying everything that is stated in the first. Since no one can actually claim to descend from the Romans or the Celts, they thought it easier to go back only a few centuries and set the bar at those who fought in the Wars of the Roses. Those were the true Brits!

closely related kindred peoples
Now what does this actually mean? Isn’t kindred the same as related? Or are they talking about inbreeding here?

The issue

Maybe not the issue, but my issue with current day right wing politics and its focus on immigrants is: lucky you. Lucky you for being born in this country that lets you speak your mind. Lucky you that your ancestors were on the right side of the border when some kings and noblemen drew lines on maps. Or that they were in a position where they were allowed to enter this country. Lucky you.

My issue is that migration is natural. As the BNP even recognizes in its mission statement, it is what made Britain great. Then why do they fail to realize its importance? What is it that makes them say: “Thanks for your help, but we’re a thriving nation now, we can do without you”?

With this in mind, the South East could follow the Californian dream and draw another line on the map and close its border for the rest of what’s left of so-called Britain. I’m sure it’s possibly to describe the “people of South East England” in a BNP-like manner, thus justifying such a break up. “You all have got silly accents anyway. But please save us some water in the summer!

I’m not British enough to make this entry really work, but the migration issue stands. Who decided who lives where? Do the people define the country, or does the country define the people? Thank goodness for Britain your right wingers lack the charismatic leaders found on the continent. And they lack the common sense to write a proper mission statement. Let’s hope it stays that way!


January 10, 2007

Something different

Writing about web page http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?threadID=5187&&edition=1&ttl=20070110124244

I’m tired of the homosexual v christianity debate. People are arguing on two (or more) completely different grounds. Can we go back to Israel v Palestine please?


January 09, 2007

Dilemma

Watching E.R. tonight, I was wondering something. Two doctors who had just attended a funeral heard about a shooting at their hospital and some of their colleagues in life-threatening situations. So they decide to cancel their day off and rush to the hospital to help out.

The rest of the show we only see wounded doctors and nurses taken care of by their colleagues. Meanwhile, standard patients are queueing up outside or diverted to other hospitals.

Anyway, that’s not what I was wondering.

I was thinking, suppose you’re capable of saving someone’s life, but you have to chose between the average UK citizen (decide for yourself what this entails) and a brain surgeon. You have no emotional attachment to either patient. Who would you attend first?

My scary thought is that rationally, I cannot find a way to decide to prioritize the average citizen. The even more scary thought was not that the brain surgeon could probably save lives and do great things. No, instead, I thought how much money had been spent on this person to become a brain surgeon in the first place, and how less taxing he (or she) probably is going to be on society.

*sigh* I’m never gonna sleep tonight


December 28, 2006

Filler

SUPPOSEDLY if you’ve seen over 85 films, you have no life. Mark the ones you’ve seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own facebook account, paste this as a note. Then, put x’s next to the films you’ve seen, add them up, change the header and click post at the bottom. Have fun!

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
() Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
() Blazing Saddles
() Airplane
Total: 6

(x) The Princess Bride
() AnchorMan
() Napoleon Dynamite
(x) Labyrinth
() Saw
() Saw II
() White Noise
() White Oleander
() Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
() The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 10

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
() Scary Movie
() Scary Movie 2
() Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 16

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
() Little Black Book
() The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 22

(x) Finding Nemo
() Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
() The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
(x) Robots
Total so far: 29

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
() KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
() Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
(x) KING KONG
Total so far: 35

(x) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
() The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
() Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
() The Ring
() The Ring 2
() Surviving X-MAS
() Flubber
Total so far: 40

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
() Hellboy
() Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 42

() The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child’s Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
() Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
() Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
() The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 47

(x) Bad Boys
() Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean’s Eleven
() Ocean’s Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
() Lone Star
() Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
() Predator II
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total so far: 53

(x) Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
(x) Christine
(x) ET
() Children of the Corn
() My Bosses Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
() War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
() Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 58

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She’s All That
() Calendar Girls
() Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
() Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 67

(x) X-Men
(x) X2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
() Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
() Freaky Friday
(x) Reign of Fire
(x) The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far: 79

() Swimfan
() Miracle on 34th street
() Old School
() The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
() Krippendorf’s Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
(x) Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old-virgin
Total so far: 82

(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 88

() Baseketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
() Elf
() Highlander
(x) Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() Three
Total so Far: 89

() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x)Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total so far: 92

() High Tension
() Club Dread
() Hulk
() Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicle Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
() 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total so far: 95

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
() Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
Total so far: 97

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
() Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 102

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
() Team America: World Police
() Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Total so far: 107

Now Add them up and…

Change the header to show how many you have seen!

What header?


December 21, 2006

East Side Story

Writing about web page http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/rent/index.html

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Will I lose my dignity?
Will someone care?
Will I wake tomorrow,
from this nightmare?

It’s a shame and a blessing this song is so utterly depressing, as it means we’ll never do it in Rev.

RENT is anything but depressing. Unfortunately I’ve been too late with my career moves [1] to see the stage version, but with widescreen and surround sound and an amazing adaptation, the film takes away the need to spend a fortune to watch this live. Instead, after having seen it 3+ times in one week, I can honestly say it doesn’t lose any of its impact.

Apparently, I’ve been informed, the film gains its strength from the director’s approach. Chris Columbus – famous for directing and producing such great films as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Stepmom, and Home Alone – managed to attract some of the original Broadway cast, and as such kept some of the stage elements of the screenplay, hardly focussing on a single person, but showing the interactions between the characters. It seems to draw out the similarities between the characters, rather than their differences, which is a good thing when we’re talking about seasons of love.

I’m not too sure why I love it so much. Usually I try to find a reason to give less than 5 stars in a review, but I’m actively trying to have everyone I know to see this film. It’s got characters for everyone to enjoy – although most of them are artists (bohemians) to some extent, there is the geek, the introvert, the extrovert, the madwoman, the businesswoman – and it’s got diverse musical influences with 80s house, gospel and soul, 90s rock, though mostly in a musical flavour.

Earlier today, I told someone it’s about New York, love, bills, and AIDS. Rich (my other housemate) thought he’d elaborate and said he appreciated the juxtaposition [2] of the wealthy, moneymaking individuals, and the poor but loving and funmaking group of tenants. I appreciate that it isn’t a musical just about a romantic story, but that it shows so much about the society of the setting.

I was a bit worried after seeing the placid film adaption of Phantom of the Opera, which seemed to have combined the worst parts of stage and cinema. However, RENT is simply wonderful, so let me know when you want to see it! [3]

1 Most tragically, being born too late to actually be aware of this musical in theatres in a place I could easily get too at a later stage in my life.

2 He didn’t actually say juxtaposition I think, but Alice of Vicar of Dibley used it earlier today and it got stuck in my head.

3 But please wait until I’ve actually managed to leave the country despite the fog, and then wait till I have come back in the new year.


December 06, 2006

My first publication

Right. So it’s got nothing to do with maths. And it’s not under my real name. But something I wrote got published in yesterday’s Guardian. Hurrah!

A few weeks ago, the Guardian invited readers to join in on its new Arts blog to discuss the world’s must see works of art. In between all the pretentious comments on the elitist/racist (read Western art biased) nature of the original list, there was room for constructive discussion.

So I thought of which works of art have made an impact on me, and then I remembered the piece that makes discussions about composition fun: Rubens’ Descent from the Cross. I wrote about the original (see below [1]):

Possibly not his best, but still magnificent and in its original setting. The weight of the task at hand fills the entire picture.

Rubens Real

This actually made Jason laugh, as I made it sound the painting was a bit rubbish. What I didn’t write was the fun you can have playing with this picture. If you can find diagonals in a composition, they’re probably there for a good reason! See what happens when you flip the image:

Rubens Mirror

You’ve just created Ascent of the Cross!

1 Original picture taken from exittoart


November 29, 2006

Unreported Holland, Part III

Follow-up to Unreported Holland, Part II from [TBA]

Now, before I do some work, let me bring you the last bit of disturbing news coming from the Netherlands. Trust me, it’s a big one. Well, at least in the Netherlands people believe so.

Two reporters held hostage by justice department

Basically, the two men reported about leaks within the AIVD – General National Security Service, the Dutch SIS – and that top secret documents were obtained by criminal organisations. At the moment, there’s a case against an former AIVD employee, accused of leaking such documents, and the reporters have been asked to reveal their source.

In general, in the EU, reporters are allowed to keep their sources secret, but may be asked to reveal them in court cases. This all depends on the judge’s discretion, and is the nasty shady area in anything legal. In this case, the source “could possibly” help the defendant, and no one wants to imprison an innocent man. But is this slight possibility of freedom more important than the journalists’ (and the source’s) rights and credibility?

Today, reports come from the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, where journalists are shocked of this turn of events. It wasn’t until recently that the Indonesian secret service had so much power that the local journalists were afraid to report anything but the weather. And now the Netherlands, beacon of democracy, are resorting to measures not dissimilar to those well known to the Indonesians.

Freedom, democracy, national security, credibility. Take your pick.


Unreported Holland, Part II

Follow-up to Unreported Holland, Part I from [TBA]

See, I thought the Dutch general elections would be newsworthy, but again, only one report in the Guardian, and it was about a Greenpeace activist disturbing the current PM’s final election speech. Great. Again, the BBC hardly did better shining a light on Dutch politics, mainly saying there would be tough coalition talks.

First of all, let me cheer you up and refer to my earlier posts: the little party I voted for, which was projected to lose four seats and end up with two, managed to lose only three seats so finish at three. Hurrah! The interesting bit comes next: the first three people on the party’s list were held by men. With only two seats projected there was bound to be someone with lots of favouring votes. And indeed, one member managed to obtain more than 30.000 personal votes, bringing her far above the personal quotum of about 16.300.

Basically, the quotum for a party to obtain a seat in parliament was about 65.000 this year. For a single person within a party to claim a seat, this quotum is 25% of that, so about 16.300. Most party members accumulating so many votes are already on a position on the list where they’ll end up in parliament, just because their party gains enough seats. In the case of this smaller party, only 3 seats were obtained, and the lucky lady who was originally placed 6th gained the 2nd number of seats in the party, winning her a seat in parliament.

The results

And here’s a little puzzle for you: how do you create a majority of 76 with the following election results?

CDA (Christian Democrats, right of center, conservative) 41 (-3)
PvdA (Social Democrats, left of center, mildly progressive) 33 (-9)
VVD (Liberal Democrats, right wing, mildly progressive) 22 (-6)
SP (Socialists, left wing, mildly progressive) 25 (+16)
Groen Links (Green Socialists, left wing, progressive) 7 (-1)
D66 (Democrats, left wing, extremely progressive) 3 (-3)
CU (Christian Union, left of center, mildly conservative) 6 (+3)
SGP (Reformed Party, right of center, extremely conservative) 2 (0)
PVV (Freedom Party, right wing, conservative) 9 (+9)
PvdD (Animal Rights, left wing, mildly progressive) 2 (+2)

I could probably make a nice table, but don’t have that much spare time. At the moment, most signs indicate a CDA-PvdA-SP (99) coalition, but no one can find a subject on which both CDA and SP agree… Another option might be CDA-PvdA-CU (80), but does that really reflect the public opinion?


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