strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Rewinding a few days here to the pre-Christmas period, I went to see this at Leeds Town Hall with [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan, [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy, [livejournal.com profile] nalsa and Mrs. [livejournal.com profile] nalsa in honour of [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy's birthday. I've never been to a film screening at Leeds Town Hall before, so that was fun in itself, and nor had I seen Die Hard in spite of its classic status. It is an action film after all, which is hardly my genre, but going to see it in its reinvented pomo guise as a 'Christmas film' - now that, I could handle.

It is, of course, masses of fun. Indeed, I might well have gone to see it earlier if I'd cottoned on to the fact that it has Alan Rickman in it being deliciously villainous. His character even got in a Classical reference, too:
"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." Benefits of a classical education. [Source: IMDb]
Obviously, that actually boils down to your standard use of Classics to denote morally-bankrupt posh people, and is thus exactly the sort of thing which puts people off the subject, but never mind! It's still good to hear Alex getting a name-check, and it's not like it was a mainstay of the plot. Other things I particularly liked included McClane's message on the first terrorist victim's shirt: "Now I have a machine gun - ho ho ho!", Johnson & Johnson the ineffective FBI agents and Argyle happily living it up in his limousine while blithely unaware of the major terrorist incident going on in the building above him. I assumed for ages that he would spend literally the entire film like this, and just drive out the next morning wondering what was going on, but it was also cool that he got to play his part in overcoming the bad guys too.

I do realise that this bit is going to make me sound like Noam Chomsky on his day off, but gosh - you really couldn't present a more fully-developed fantasy of hyper-masculinity as a response to male anxieties about successful career-women than this film, could you? That is literally how McClane wins his wife back after their marriage has been broken apart by her promotion to Director of Corporate Affairs at the Nakatomi Corporation. But anyway! Helicopters and explosions and cool one-liners and stuff! Yay.

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Holiday snaps

Wednesday, 5 September 2007 15:19
strange_complex: (Hastings camera)
Right - it's time we had this canal holiday in pictures, then.

Warning - there are 86 of them )

strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
So - yeah. Now that I am over the immediate trauma of breaking my glasses (but not by any means the underlying *grrrrr*), let me tell you about my weekend.

Friday night was very sociable - you could even have accused me of being a bit of a butterfly. First an hour in the Wrens with [livejournal.com profile] nalsa, [livejournal.com profile] maviscruet, their young ladies and assorted other friends, during which we discussed flickr business cards, the top three best-known British monarchs and the fall of the Roman empire. Next, a curry at Hansa's with [livejournal.com profile] hieroglyphe and [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective, over which we talked about academic job prospects, [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective's naughty office pranks and filmage in general. Finally, down to the station to meet up with The Sisterly One and her partner (Nicolas), who were coming to stay for the weekend.

We were all kinda knackered after we got back to my flat, since they'd had a whole day of work plus a long train journey, while I'd been cleaning the house all day and then butterflying all evening. But not so knackered we didn't have time to chat for a while and for me to give Charlotte an early birthday present (her actual birthday is today - woo!).

Saturday saw us heading off on a big adventure - to Roundhay Park Tropical World! Yay! It was very hot inside, but we saw lots of extremely cute and interesting animals, such as ring-tailed lemurs, bushbabies, lion-faced golden tamarins, blue macaws, enormous carp, bats, striped grass mice, turtles, snakes and meerkats! (*squee-squee-squee*) They were definitely the best - and come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen them in real life before. So that was cool.

After Tropical World, we ate much-needed ice-creams, and took a long walk round the park, seeing people playing cricket, a fake castle and millions and millions of seething tadpoles as we did. Then it was across Leeds by bus to show off my new house and have coffee in Headingley, before heading on down to the Hyde Park Picture House to see Sunshine - more about that in a separate 'films watched 2007' post.

Sunday was quiet and chilled, after a lot of walking around outdoors the previous day But we did find time to simultaneously look at architecture and do some shopping in Leeds city centre. Charlotte got some nice skirts, I got rechargeable batteries for my digital camera and some pretty sandals for the summer, and Nicolas got some good photos of the Edwardian arcades.

Finally, they headed off to catch their train, since Charlotte wanted to be back in London for the day of her actual birthday, and I pootled off home to enjoy the previous evening's Doctor Who. Which seemed solidly back on track after the slight wibble that had been the Dalek two-parter.

So nice all round, really. Just a pity I had to top it off today by breaking my glasses!

strange_complex: (Latin admirable sentiment)
Some random recent things:

1. Yesterday, a man came round and raked all the leaves off my lawn! I'd been meaning to do it myself, but I'm glad I didn't now. He's the gardener for the communal parts of our flats, and has no obligation to do anything with my patch at all. But I ain't going to be the one who goes out and explains to him where the communal parts end and my own garden begins.

2. Yesterday evening was Cat WINOLJ's birthday, and what a lovely time we had. Luscious cocktails in Raoul's, followed by dinner in a place called Big Bang. Not, as Hitch-Hikers fans might assume, a burger bar, but a place which specialised in sausages and mash. I had two deliciously rich venison sausages on a garlic and rosemary mash and swimming in a gorgeous red wine 'jus'1, followed by Jam Roly-Poly - yay! Definitely a good choice of venue, to which I hope to return in future to explore some of their other options.

3. Book stuff seems to be happening at the moment. I've got lots of other bitty tasks to do, so I'm setting a pattern of working solidly on the book in the morning, and sorting out other stuff in the afternoon, with a return to the book later on if I'm not going out in the evening. Progress is being made this way on all fronts, and it feels good. It is also amazing how much time there turns out to be in a week when you're not spending 10 hours of it commuting.

4. I've now posted my letter of complaint to the manager at Dukes Hotel. Sorry it took a few days, chaps - my printer is being rubbish again, so I had to get a friend-of-a-friend to do it. But it's on its way.

5. I'm starting to feel reasonably Christmassy, but I'm not cracking out the Xmas music until I do my cards - probably tonight and / or tomorrow. Big thanks to those people who have sent cards to me already!

6. That's probably enough for now.
--------
1. Since when was a perfectly good word like 'sauce' universally ousted by the word 'jus'? That's what I want to know.

Ten-minute update

Wednesday, 9 November 2005 10:18
strange_complex: (Computer baby)
I'm rather behind with documenting things I've done recently, and a combination of tiredness and busy-ness makes this unlikely to change soon. So, in the 10 minutes before I have to go and give a lecture, I present a really rushed outline of what I've been up to in the past few days:

Friday: went to Brum to see Andreas Scholl with La Mia Mama. The concert was entitled 'Senesino, Handel's Muse', and consisted entirely of arias originally written for the castrato Senesino (with a few instrumental interludes to give Scholl's voice a rest). Since Senesino was a contralto rather than a soprano, these can now be sung by Scholl, and he did so brilliantly. My stance on Scholl is that although I recognise his technical brilliance, my personal taste is such that I'm not actually that bowled over by the tones of his voice, especially when it is in the centre of its range (both in terms of pitch and volume). There's a slight rough, rushing sound around the edges which I'd prefer to do without. However, when called upon to swell and fade a long note, hit unusually high notes or perform complicated ornaments, the rushing sound vanishes, and he suddenly becomes some kind of vocal deity, causing jaws to fall in astonishment. Overall, I prefer the very pure sound of Robin Blaze's voice. But I admit that Scholl does beat Blaze when the stakes get really high, and he will always be more suited to operatic work for that reason.

Afterwards, we queued like a pair of fangirls for autographs, and I also bought the CD which Scholl has already produced of the evening's programme. Then went home and bought 'The Last Castrato', a collection of recordings made in the early 20th century by a man named Alessandro Moreschi. This was in response to the pre-concert talk, which had been all about castrati, and had revealed to me that there exists not one tiny snippet of this guy singing, as I'd thought, but in fact a whole plethora of the stuff. It also made me realise that, although not necessarily to modern tastes, he was a better singer than I'd previously believed. It'll take a while to arrive, since it's coming from America, but I can't wait to become more familiar with this voice.

Saturday: woke up in Brum having spent night with parents. Sat over coffee watching Dad replace the batteries in his 30-year-old Grundig 'Yacht Boy' radio, and explain how everyone in the country had been sent little stickers saying '3' and '4' like the ones on it when the change was made from the Third Programme and the Home Service to Radio 3 and Radio 4.

Then proceeded up to Manchester for [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere's 30th birthday, where I caught up with some of my Bristol buddies and met some new faces from B'ham, Leeds and Manchester itself. We hung out for the afternoon in a gay bar called Taurus, and then headed for a Syrian restaurant in the evening, while Manchester made a fine attempt at exploding in celebration of Bonfire Night. Slept pretty well, and then had lunch together the next day, before heading back down to Oxford on the Sunday to finish off a lecture in a panic and deliver it on the Monday. It went fine, though. They always do.

Have also started to watch Imperium: Augustus recently, having finally worked out how to switch the Dutch subtitles off. It's very, erm... special, and will be blogged in detail later. And had a quick look on Monday at The Masque of the Red Death, realised the costumes aren't quite as amazing as I'd remembered, but have still had some decent ideas for the ball.

Well, it's lucky I'm such a quick typist (although I'm sure this is full of mistakes). Now for that lecture!

Edit: some small editing after the event to fill in details, clarify points and correct errors.

strange_complex: (Fred Astaire flying)
Last night I attended the joint birthday party of [livejournal.com profile] my_mundane_life and [livejournal.com profile] byrnsey_b, held in the Errigle Inn. We had lots of dancing, to a pretty surreal set of music: everything from Rage Against the Machine to Bananarama. And I got the chance to take the dark purple shiny dress I bought recently at the Rusty Zip on its maiden outing. Thanks to both [livejournal.com profile] my_mundane_life and [livejournal.com profile] byrnsey_b for a lovely evening!

When I got home, I wasn't quite ready to go to sleep, so I watched the pilot episode of House, M.D., which I'd taped from Channel 5 while I was out. I thought it was OK, and will give it a few more episodes, but I didn't think it was as wonderful as some people on communities such as [livejournal.com profile] indeedsir had given me to expect. The characters all seem a bit two-dimensional at the moment. Still, they're only just being established at the moment, so we'll see.

Today, I have awarded myself a day off work, because of being out last night and also because I've had a cold all week and could really do with some recuperation time. I've spent it so far Making Icons, and very enjoyable it is too. You can expect large numbers of Gratuitous Icon Posts (a bit like this one!) over the next few weeks.
strange_complex: (Default)
I have arrived safely in Belfast, and found a flat so quickly that I didn't have to stay in the hall of residence even for one night after all! Even the estate agents agreed it was probably their quickest ever time from a viewing to handing over the keys: saw the place at about 2:30, had the keys in my hand by 5, and had all my stuff in there by 7.

I'm in an exorbitantly-priced internet cafe at the mo, but should have proper regular access from work at least from next Tuesday afternoon. Home could take longer... it's complicated!

Will look forward to seeing Belfast types at [livejournal.com profile] damien_mocata's birthday shenanigans tomorrow.

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