November 28, 2005

Well, I Watched Harry Potter...

No plot spoilers. Just some basic info.

If you liked the book then you will hate the film as the film strips down all the unnecessary parts of the book and streamlines it into a very watchable experience (a nudge over 2 hours). The pace was perfect, the direction assured and the acting (apart from Daniel Radcliffe who I find annoyingly wooden as Harry) bringing depth to the characters.

Personally I hated the book (have not like any of them since book 3) and I thank god that the screenwriters are able to strip down the books in a way that Rowling's editors seem scared or unable too. The film is tense, and smaller children may be frightened by some scenes at the end but they are keeping in with the way that the film has been handled. It contains a genuine moment of emotional depth I would have found it hard to credit in this kind of film (bought a tear to my eye) but Mike Newell is not signed to do any of the other films as the next book has more emotional complexity to it.

If you are not a fan than I suggest seeing it as it may make you appreciate the essence of the books. If you are a fan of the books then leave your scepticism at the door and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by AlexC at 01:58 PM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2005

A Filthy Lie: Evil Glenn celibrates Christmas

"I want to see a reindeer. Nanny and grandad said I could see one." I felt like this festive season I had inherited Verucca Salt. I glared at Star and decided to take her to a petting zoo. Bound to have one of the buggers there I thought.

So I duely parted with my hard earned cash and took her inside. Looking at the usual motely collection of flea bitten animals we quickly made our way to the reindeer enclosure. "Look Star, Rudolph and his friends." Suddenly the reindeer nearest to us fell over. Star looked at it. I looked at it too. Animals usally fled from her, not fell over. "It's erm, asleep. Yes. Asleep." We looked at another and it too fell over. I looked at Star, worried she had developed another power over animals when suddenly she said "Look! It's that funny man again."

"Glenn!!! What the hell are you doing in that reindeer enclosure? And what's that in you hands? A tazer? You sick son of..."

"DADDY! That's a nughty word!"

"Hehehehehe!" cackled Glen, fleeing past me again.


The Conference of Evil looked suitably impressed. "How many reindeer did you manage to get then Glenn?"

*Belch* "Well, after running out of bullets for my hunting rifle (and believe me there is some mighty fine eating on a reindeer) about 5000 or so."

More polite applause came from the crowd. "Anything else to add to this Glenn?"

"Oh yes... listen on."


"I want to see santa. My nanny and grandad said..." My blood boiled. Hands clenched and unclenched. I could see me needing therapy by the end of the festive season. Humbug! Scrouge was right. But what is this I spied? A grotto? Aha! Dragging Star over to it the first thing I noticed was that children were leaving the grotto crying. Maybe they were disappointed in not getting their present there and then?

Slowly we made our way to the front of the queue. Upon entering the grotto there was a very grumpy looking lady muttering something about being a legal secretary, not one of Santa's little helpers. The grotto itself was lit in an eiree red and orange effect and looked more like hell...

"Heh. I mean come in little pet, ahem, girl and sit upon my knee."

"Look daddy. It's that strange man again."

"Glenn? That's the worst santa costume ever!" Glenn sat there with a red velvet curtain draped around him and cotton wool stuck to his face with cellotape. Behind him I could see opened presents and a large sack that seemed to be moving.

"I hope you have paid your $600 fee for being in here, plus the time spent talking to you. Your Christmas present this year Alex is my legal bill! Mwahahahaa!"

"I've had enough of this Glenn," I said reaching for my Holy Water pistol "take that you fiend!"

"Oooooooooooooooow it burns, it burns! I will see you in court!" he cried, fleeing past me. I examined the sack, finding the 'real' santa bound and gagged sporting a vicious punch mark.


More polite applause. "How many Santa's did you get?"

"The whole of the Tri State area! Plus I made $600 000 before getting caught!"

The committee looked impressed. "Is there more Glenn?"

"Oh yes... much more..."

Posted by AlexC at 01:37 PM | Comments (3)

November 24, 2005

A Filthy Lie: Evil Glenn Celebrates Christmas

This years annual Christmas Conference of Evil was the most highly anticipated yet. People Fiends from far and wide were gathering to discuss the possibilities of ruining another festive season and the annual report would make for some interesting reading. Around the long table, in front of the roaring fire with glasses of warm blood filled the chairman stuck the gong to bring the meeting to order.

"Gentlemen, ladies, fiends I welcome you once again to our AGM of the CCE. For those of you newly elected to the board I welcome you, for those amongst us, the old timers so to speak, I know you will be eager to get down to business. I would first like a report from the annual Toy Shortage Committee. Mr Gates?"

"As predicted there will be shortages of the main toy lines as per usual. Various factories have been 'encouraged' to fall short of their targets, the trucking unions have been handed their 'Christmas bonuses' and this year my firm has made sure the XBox 360 crashes just like all other Windows based systems." With this Mr Gates sat down to a polite ripple of applause.

"Mr Reynolds?"

Evil Glenn stood up to a round of applause. "Mine is strange tale this year..."


Star wanted an advent calendar. I knew this because for the 400th time in 5 minutes she had said "I want an advent calendar. Nanny and grandad said I can have one." I entertained thoughts of in-law homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility for around the 400th time too. I had reached the limits of my patience and decided that, just to shut her up I would buy her one. We walked through the supermarket and towards the isle with christmas crap on it.

"Look daddy, it's that strange man again"

"Glenn! What are you doing?" There, in the middle of the Christmas gift isle squatted Evil Glenn surrounded by advent calendars, chocolate smeared all over his face. A small pile of paper lay in front of him and he seemed to be busy putting these into the advent calendar windows.

"Erm..." said Glenn looking around "Nothing. You cannot prove anything! I was never here! Erm..." I walked over to him and looked at the papers. "IOU one small chocolate piece? Glenn! What on earth is this about?" Jumping to his feet he fled past me cackling with glee.


"Interesting Mr Reynolds. How many stores did you manage that in?"

*Belch* "Around 32 000 as of last night."


"There is more to come..."

And there is....

Posted by AlexC at 02:19 PM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2005

Define "Freedom Of Speech"

My wife is contemplating closing her blog. There are a number of reasons for this which, if you are really bothered about, you can mail me or her about (visit it over here but the basic reason is this - she can express an opinion without being told that it is wrong and that sucks.

There are a lot of people who read her, and used to read me but who can't be arsed now, that disagree with certain issues she has expressed an opinion on. Abortion, Creationism, things that in this country and abroad that amuse or annoy her yet these people (and they shall remain nameless) refuse in public to condem that which they are quite happy to condem in an email.


In countries that give us the right to express our viewpoints and opinions they are scared because...? Well peer pressure and wanting to be seen to be happy smiley people that get on with everyone else. Promotion of discussion and a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions are the cornerstones of free speech surely? I don't agree with anti-abortionists but I am willing to discuss and exchange opinions and viewpoints (not ranters), I don't agree with Creationists but am willing to listen to the arguments and points supporting their views and opinions. What I am NOT prepared to do is to be brow-beaten or ranted at. I admire intelligent articulate people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, no matter what "public opinion" may say otherwise.

Worse still are the people (I would name names but what's the point) who belittle her opinion because she is a woman. Sexist mysoginistic people like that belong in a nice Iranian town or in the Dark Ages. These same people avoid me not because my points are any better or more succinct but simply because I am a man.

Express your opinions. Do not bow to peer pressure. For god's sake you had that all throughout your school life, why continue it now you are an adult? Your democracy safeguards your rights to this so don't let the thought that someone may like you less stop you from doing it. They should respect you more for it and if they think less of you then they are not worth knowing.

You mourn the passing of her blog yet offer no direct encouragement for her to continue. I have talked to her about this. I feel she is stopping for the wrong reasons or maybe she should start a new one for a fresh start. You should tell her what you think, how you feel, comment on the things that matter to you and offer your opinion. Meeting nice people (step forward Harvey, Contagion, Boudicca, That1Guy, OneHappyDogSpeaks, JohnnyO) is fantastic - I am a poor friend because I do not visit but I would much rather you guys emailed me than waited for me to post (and I lost all your email addresses in the great computer crash of '05). However that is not enough. We cannot attend blogmeets, but we can talk (step forward Skype and my headset). Make us feel wanted please.

So I finish with a challenge. Define "Freedom Of Speech" in your eyes, what it means to you.

Posted by AlexC at 01:22 PM | Comments (10)

November 09, 2005

Idiocy: 6 Common Sense: 4

So that centre of scientific excellence and intellectual hotspot known throughout the world for producing minds of staggering genius, insights into the mysteries of physics and great free thinkers has astounded the world once more. Where am I referring too?


There, on the BBC wesbite, was this news story that simply astounded me. Not only do the board of education there wilfully disobey the Constitution where Church and State are to be seperated but they blatantly disregard the needs of children to understand what is in line with accepted scientific theory. Creationism is idiocy unleashed. I have gone into this in some depth over at Harvey's in reposnse to more lunacy but let me expound my argument further:

In nations that practice other religions, even in nations where Islamic extremists are in power and Communist countries, they may very well change history, who won World War 2, that they are good and Western democracies are evil but even they accept the fact of evolution. China has an outstanding archaeological program that is constantly unearthing new fossils that help fit together the evolution of the planet and help us identify the origin of species.

During World War 2 the Nazi's perpetrated the Holocaust. Overwhelming evidence, eye witness accounts, confessions, film and documents all point to this and yet there are still people that STILL deny it ever happened. In Germany it is an OFFENCE to deny this. Yet they still do. Maybe we should rename Creationists to Evolutionary Deniers? Overwhelming evidence points in one direction yet they stand that and go "No, no. The Bible is right. 7 days to create everything as is."

The Bible is a collection of writings over a 1000 year period. Judiasm has a branch of scholars that are dedicated to interpreting their religious texts. Imans in Islam (should) perform a similar function. They do not take it as absolute. Why do these people?

Posted by AlexC at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

November 08, 2005

A Bastion Of Middle Class-ness

Once, a long time ago, I went to the BBC for an interview for rather a nice job as Executive Producer of a series of games they were licencing from their properties. Now unlike most of the games publishers at the time there were 2 ladies that interviewed me, one with a double barreled name. Any of you who know a little of my background will know that I have worked and worked and worked, shunning the middle class snobbery of university in favour of actually learning how a job gets done and then doing it. However these ladies, whilst impressed with my technical knowledge and obvious experience of managing expensive and complicated projects were rather put off by my lack of university background. One even asked "How have you managed to cope without going to university?" at which point, deciding I did not want to work for cultural eliteist people I replied "Very well thank you. I just learned how to do everything that needed to be done and my staff respected me for it. I find that university does not encourage free flexible thinking, but that you are taught to think along lines." The looks she gave me was priceless, but as I pointed out to her (in response to another question) "All of the projects you have here seem to be over budget and very late. I have never had experience of that before. How do you manage your projects when they get like that then?"

So I turned the job down. They asked me why so I told them. I said that whilst I felt I had a lot to offer the BBC I didn't feel they had a lot to offer me in return and that, whilst parts of the job were very attractive, I felt that it would be a backward step in my career. My real reasons were more simple. I disliked the people there who had all come from comfortable upper-middle class backgrounds and never had to work for anything they got. The BBC was a hobby for a lot of them, nothing more or less. Sure there were people there who did the work but, frankly, I never saw them.

They had a creche there that more or less operated 18 hours a day for the staff (great! only most of them had au pairs or nannies so it was less than half full when I saw it) and a very good canteen serving very very good food, holidays like you wouldn't believe, pension schemes, all the whistles and bells. But it was so soulless - seriously every games place I worked in there was banter, laughter, chatting, people coming over to your desk to discuss things with you, late nights where people would eat and work and talk. Everything had to be approved in triplicate before a decision could be carried out (hello late overbudget projects, bye bye dynamisism that made games development work) and there was a 9 - 4pm culture that sat totally at odds with the type of environment I knew (you worked until you were either asleep, it was finished or your partner dragged you off).

Even now when I see the BBC's future plans it is so clearly an organisation that is completely out of touch with the majority of the population it is laughable. Their expansion plans for this type of TV and that type of technology are so driven by a need to be seen to be forward looking that money (MY money) is being pissed away because there is no focus or concept of what they want to do.

I am never sure whether I should have gone there and tried to change things. I doubt I would have lasted long. I doubt I would have changed anything. Frustrating.

Posted by AlexC at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)

Is There Nowhere Safe?

Australia reportedly foiled the final stages of a "major terrorist incident" reported the BBC today. It went on to say that a fanatical cleric who had been widely reported as describing Osama Bin Laden as "a great man" was the mastermind of two terrorist cells that were planning attacks in two parts of Australia. Anti-terrorist laws pushed through on thursday allowed the government to carry out the raids to arrest these people.

Pardon me but WTF happened to the world all of a sudden? I am sick to death of these people attacking democratic countries that for decades have supported, through loans and subsidies, the mainly third world toilet nations that these people (or their relatives) came from. Let's try and break this down into easily digestable chunks for the unenlightened:

You dislike our "decadent" society and culture (despite embracing the consumer goods we produce).

You start to commit terrorist attacks on us to bring about our downfall and punish us.

We retaliate using crippling force.

You get angry about this and do more terrorist attacks to punish us.

We respond with even more force, trade sanctions, etc.

You cry out that we have withdrawn your ability to buy Nike shoes and commit more terrorist attacks.

We impose harsher sanctions and even more force.


See? It doesn't work. I have said this before and I will say it again. If you don't like western society or western culture go somewhere else. Anywhere else. I don't like having my human rights oppressed or living on $1 a day so I do not live in rural China. I enjoy expressing my right to free speech so I do not live in Burma. I like seeing Sally in skmipy clothing so I do not live in Iran. I do not blow things/people up or incite racial/religious hatred. So stop it. Embrace democracy and express your dissatisfaction in a better fashion. Your like kids, but with explosives. Grow up.

Posted by AlexC at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2005

Go Forth and Do My Bidding

Stop whatever your doing right now (that doesn't involve reading this blog of course) and prepare to do something nice.

The Business A film so British that it will have you americans doing a Dick Van Dyke cock-er-nee accent faster than you can say "Y'all". Don't let that put you off though, as it is a well acted film that takes a nostalgic trip into the early to mid 80's Costa Del Crime culture that flourished before there were extradition agreements. Long but thoroughly gripping and enjoyable.

Athlete - Tourist An album by a british group who kind of got submerged by the whole Coldplay/The Darkness wave a few years back and quite undeservedly IMO. This is their second album and probably benefits more from these other groups taking the limelight in so much as they have beenable to focus on being a little more experimental with their music.

The voice is not as whiney as Chris Martins can be, the songs seem more fully formed and more gripping, with unexpected twists (the first song on the album is a case in point - I was going to skip it then suddenly a completely new direction opened up in the song causing me to listen more) and chords and instrumentation that is unexpected but yet fits well within the whole. There are weaker tracks on the album but you come away with a feeling that it all worked and was good for it too. Anything that stirs emotion is good, and the title track had the curious effect of making me feel both uplifted and infinently sad at the same time.

Recommend me something to listen to or watch now!

Posted by AlexC at 02:22 PM | Comments (3)