Sunday, 18 July 2010 22:03
strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
I've had a very lovely weekend, centred around a visit from my old chum [livejournal.com profile] hollyione (aka Amy), her very-nearly-six-year-old daughter Holly and her partner Pete. It's always nice to have guests, as it provides a great excuse to go off and do fun local things which you don't normally bother with on your own, and it's especially nice when those guests are such congenial people to have around. Amy, Pete and I seemed to spend most of our time joking, laughing and sharing our enjoyment of the various things we went to see and do, while Holly was extremely well-behaved - and of course also full of laughter, high-spirits and funny observations in the way that six-year-old children usually are.

Our main excursion was to the National Media Museum in Bradford - the same place that I go to for the Fantastic Films Weekend, but this time in its everyday capacity as a museum. I've looked around the exhibits a bit while there previously for the festivals, but they're more extensive than I'd realised, and really well-designed for children. We played vintage video and arcade games, looked at televisions, video recorders and cameras from the earliest days of TV to the present day, played around in a mock-television studio, pretended to read the news, messed around with strange mirrors and lighting effects, and watched an episode of Mr. Benn together - a nostalgia trip for the three adults, but a new discovery for Holly. Amy was amazed that it was all available to visit for free, and she was right - we're very lucky to have it.

Being out with a child certainly makes you see things in a different way )

Afterwards we wandered through a surprisingly sunny Bradford, where the locals were out and about enjoying a street market and a vintage car rally, and where Amy bought Prosecco while Pete was given a free two-minute Indian head massage. Then we returned home for dinner and a local cinema trip to see Shrek Forever After, which I shall write up separately, and which Holly seemed to enjoy. And today we indulged ourselves in the charity shops of Headingley, had a nice lunch together and walked home past some Scottish country dancers strutting their stuff at a school fĂȘte, before my guests had to pile themselves in the car and hit the road for the journey back home to Bristol.

I should add that in the evenings while little Holly slumbered upstairs, we adults settled down with Prosecco and G&Ts to enjoy some more grown-up activities. Well... slightly more grown-up, anyway. We played a few rounds of Eat Poop You Cat, for which I owe a huge debt to [livejournal.com profile] whatifoundthere for alerting me to the game's existence. Unlike her, I can't scan our efforts, because my scanner is currently bust, but I can tell you that we collectively managed to transform the simple phrase "Highway to Hell" into the sentence, "You can listen to great music along the road to hell, but the reception on your car radio may be affected by lightning storms", and also "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" (Amy's contribution, not mine!) into "Dog punt atom mother".

We also watched a couple of episodes of Blake's 7 - though unfortunately not starting with the first one, which would have been the most logical for me, as it was missing from Amy's box-set. That meant that it took me a while to tune in to the characters, but by the end of the second episode I'd definitely warmed to Cally, Jenna, Avon and Vila (for rather different reasons in each case). I also appreciated the way that the stories didn't always end neatly or happily in the same way that they do on Doctor Who (not that I dislike that in Who - but it's nice to see a different approach). I've still got a lot of Doctor Who to watch (and write up for that matter), but I'm definitely up for some more Blake's 7 at some point.

So, yes - a great weekend. I'm a bit physically tired now, but mentally refreshed and ready to face the week. Wonder if that will last into tomorrow morning? ;-)

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strange_complex: (Vampira)
IMDb page here, official page here. Seen at the Light with [livejournal.com profile] gillywoo, [livejournal.com profile] nigelmouse, [livejournal.com profile] glennkenobi and [livejournal.com profile] sturmed.

Totally spoilerific - read at own risk! )

I agreed very much with [livejournal.com profile] mr_flay when we saw the first one that it should have just ended when the taxi crashed into the gates of the military compound, so that the last few human beings alive in Britain have actually killed each other with their aggressive, macho behaviour rather than help each other against a common enemy. And having recently come across the following words from Federico Fellini, I now know why a bleak or unresolved ending is so much more intellectually satisfying than a happy one:
"My pictures never end. They never have a simple solution...Because there are no 'solutions' in [the audience's] lives...By giving happy endings to films, you goad your audience into going on living in a trite, bland manner, because they are now sure that sometime, somewhere, something happy is going to happen to them, too, and without their having to do anything about it. Conversely, by not serving them the happy ending on a platter, you can make them think, you can remove some of the smug security. Then they'll have to find their own answers."
I'm not saying a Zombie movie is going to chance the face of world politics as we know it. But in the current climate, we certainly need to be doing some thinking.

strange_complex: (Cities condor in flight)
[livejournal.com profile] nhw, who's currently stuck at Heathrow, trying to get to Belfast on a flight that was supposed to leave at 06:55. Update: He's made it to Liverpool by train, and will sail from there overnight.

[livejournal.com profile] violetdisregard, who's currently on a bus to I'm-not-sure-which-London-airport, planning to fly to New Zealand. And not just for a jolly jaunt, either: she is moving there for (at least) two years, and this is the day she picked to move. Oops. Update: apparently she's in the check-in queue now, and although the airline say there might be a delay, they're still optimistic enough to be aiming to set off on time.

[livejournal.com profile] stompyboots, whom I've a horrible feeling is trying to get back from Ibiza today, and is quite probably relying on being able to work en route.

Fleur WINOLJ, who ditto north Italy, and who really hates flying even under normal circumstances. I mean to the extent that she has to take Valium to do it. (Despite being a travel journalist...)

Those remaining members of the summer school staff who were planning to fly back to the US today. (Thankfully the vast majority of the students went on Tuesday).

Anyone else who gets caught up in all this.

Still, it's a damned sight better than having to extend sympathies to 3+ plane-loads of dead people and their relatives.

Also: what happens when news agencies try to file their copy really quickly. And don't you just feel the pain of the young lady who commented, "Eight hours without an iPod, that's the most inconvenient thing"?

Cities old and new

Thursday, 14 July 2005 17:45
strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
I'm busy collecting information about Timgad (ancient Thamugadi) today. It's a Roman colony in what is now Algeria, which is very well-preserved because it was abandoned in late antiquity, and then just left to its own devices while it slowly vanished under the sand. Hence there was no robbing of stone or burying of old structures under new, and it was pretty much all still there when the French excavated it at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

I'm very familiar with it already, having written a Masters' dissertation in which I compared its suburbs with those of Roman Lincoln (a warm-up exercise for my D.Phil. thesis on Roman suburbs more generally). So I'm drawing on that knowledge to put together some stuff for my interview at Reading next week about how the streets of Timgad were used by the local elite to help show the city off to its best advantage. This sort of behaviour will be the essence of my next research project, so I'll be outlining what I plan to do, and demonstrating how some of my ideas can be applied with reference to Timgad.

Just now, though, I had a visitor pop into my office. It was the estate agent I originally rented my flat from this time last year, and who had come to borrow my key from me so that he could show some tenants round who were interested in taking it up in September. I'd been searching for images of Timgad on the web, and this one was up on my screen when he came in, causing him to ask, "Is that a bombed-out German city?". I explained what it actually was, and on closer inspection he could see his mistake, but it had made him think at first of places like Dusseldorf or Dresden (no doubt partly because it is in black and white).

Fearsome to think that human destructiveness can reduce a city in days to what nature takes 1500 years to achieve, though, especially in light of recent events.

EDIT: On the subject of pictures of Timgad, this man is now my new hero. You couldn't mistake that for a bombed-out German city!


Thursday, 5 May 2005 12:53
strange_complex: (Penelope Pitstop)
Apparently, the UK consulate in New York has been bombed. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rentaghost31 for the tip-off). Nothing too serious, but erk!

It's fairly obviously election-related, but I suppose in a way we can be paradoxically reassured. It suggests that whoever is behind it (presumably al-Qaeda or similar) doesn't have operatives capable of doing the same in the UK itself, and, at least on this occasion, wasn't able to mount a particularly effective attack.

I mean, these are still only small comforts, but you know... I'm just sorry that the attackers obviously do have operatives in the US.


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