Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How do you spell 'wonky'?

Let's write some words. Words about what? Hmmm. Good question. I'm listening to Tysto's commentary for 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom', anticipating sleep, and worrying about my thesis and the interview in seven days time.

An interview.

How to prepare for an interview? I've never made it successfully through one. Could this be the one that breaks the spell? Being a compulsive truth teller in times of stress can be awkward sometimes, not because I believe in telling lies but rather that sometimes I say inappropriate things to break a silence. Oh, the joys of being special.

What, Indiana Jones can't fly a plane? That may be trouble. I actually like 'Temple of Doom', it's my favourite of the 'Indiana Jones' movies despite being the most horrid in places. I don't know how that's true but it is. 'Raiders' is too choreographed, 'Lsat Crusade' is too iconic, and 'Crystal Skull' is too long but I like this one. I like Kate Capshaw even when lots of people don't, perhaps because someone really would scream a lot in those situations. Still, even though it's my favourite Indy movie, it's nowhere near my list of overall favourite movies. That list is secret.

What to say about interviews? Well, it'll be fine. What to think about the thesis? It will be over soon. How to be a raving madman? Carry on as normal. Want to know what to watch at the Olympics? Well, the women's basketball is amazing! I've watched nine out of the twelve games so far and they've all been close and rather gripping. All of them! Well, I exaggerate, as Turkey versus Angola was a bit one-sided but otherwise it has been a great tournament and I would watch another four or five games tomorrow but the radio station beckons.

Oh, and I think a podcast is in pre-production. There may be auditions for voice acting. Nyahahahaaa. Anything to distract from interviews.

Oh good grief,
Oblivious Oliver.

Friday, 27 July 2012

In deepest night time...

Ah, insomnia, that excellent condenser of boredom into action. This is what happens when you don't get enough exercise in a few days, you don't sleep! Ah, how wonderful it would be to fade into the nothingness of sleep and wake up refreshed but no, no, it is not to be. Maybe the glass of milk will take effect mid-sentence soon.

<Dave the Dragon lay moodily in his cave and waited for sleep. Nothing happened, he puffed some smoke, and waited some more. The smoke ascended and twirled and finally dissipated. Dave sighed, roused himself and went for a flight.>

It's Friday night, and the Olympic Opening Ceremony has been going on for some hours now in London, at the other end of my turned-off television. The Olympics in London... wow. It's hard to believe, somehow, and the opening ceremony hasn't even been rained off! Today I recorded a podcast with my sister and her friends and it went quite well. We reviewed 'The Dark Knight Rises' and 'Timecop' and were probably too negative on the former but it is a really hard movie to be positive about. It's mediocre. Sad somehow.

<Clomp von Clomp chuckled mischievously in the middle of the night and fell asleep spontaneously in mid-air. Typical, evil nocturnal masterminds get to sleep at night even if they don't want to.>

Oh boggle, maybe I should get back to trying to sleep now. Maybe do some exercise or jumping of some kind. I wish there was a trampoline here and that this were a sports hall of some kind. Oh well, at least there's no chocolate in the house... oh dear.

Sleep can always happen next month.
Awkward O.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Movie: 'The Dark Knight Rises' (2012) [revised]

Well, I just went to see 'The Dark Knight Rises' and I thought I'd emit some opinions. There might be SPOILERS ahead, so please be warned. A major problem with this idea though is that I have very little to say. It's just a very disappointing and dull movie. A disjointed mess, in fact, where no character is used to its potential or even justifies its existence. Commissioner Gordon is a non-entity, Batman barely appears, Bruce Wayne is flat, Bane is a nothing with a hilarious voice, and only Catwoman really justifies the time we spent on her. Actually the character played by Matthew Modine was one of the most well executed despite being appalling anyway. If I were to make in the movie's defense I would point out that this is epic story is a hard one to even attempt, and the results are mixed due to having too many strands going on in earnest, none of which are developed enough to be satisfying. Let's count them:

1 Bruce's relationship with the Batman concept
2 Gordon doing what the plot demands
3 Bane wandering around proclaiming
4 Miranda's energy campaign, Bruce time, and parental issues
5 Blake pushing Gordon and Wayne and saving various days
6 Alfred taking his walk
7 Lucius and his reactor woes
8 Selina Kyle and her betrayals and motivations

Hmm. That's eight things. Eight arcs, if all of them arced, and not all of them do. It's too many. There's the idea of a good movie here, and it's drawing from good sources: 'Knightfall', 'No Mans Land', 'The Dark Knight Returns' and pre-Crisis Batman retiring to go off with Selina Kyle to live happily ever after. Tellingly, those are at least four different major comic book stories of which I've only read a few. The novelisation alone of 'No Mans Land' makes the isolated island Gotham portion of this movie looke very unconvincing and unfulfilling in comparison. It is rather sad that the characters are so thin, since they all have potential to be so much more. This is a long-standing problem from the previous film. Yes, don't tell the more fanatical Nolan-lovers, but I didn't like 'The Dark Knight' much. In this movie it's all especially dispassionate and unengaging and represents the worst of Nolan.

There are good points to this movie, and it's definitely worth watching, but overall for an Oliver like myself it would be nice to see a Batmobile with a bat symbol on it, or a batplane with some affectation.

Now I shall retire to my bunker and hope the Internet doesn't come down on me like a brick in an attic.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Movie: 'The Amazing Spider-Man' (2012) [revised]

Sometimes a stone is just a stone, and sometimes an apple can contain the secrets of the universe. In actuality everything contains the secrets of the universe many times over, in each and every atom. That's quite the eye opener, isn't it? The great Celestial Washing Machine spits out its particles, watches them circulate for a while and then pulls them back for a rinse and repeats the cycle. It's kind of nice. I much prefer death as a method of recycling than the cessation of all existence. There's some good in everything after, and anyone. Even the most evil and despicable people and monsters through history have been good worm food. That's my existential angst for the week.

On Monday night, two nights ago, I saw 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. It was a good movie but it wasn't great and that was almost precisely because of the things it couldn't do due to being a reboot. Spider-Man is an optimistic superhero with good intentions and lots of colour, but that was shown really well in the previous Spider-Man movies and so they can't do it again so soon. They must make a variation! Hence no Daily Bugle, or Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom or Sandman. It's just too soon for any of those franchise elements to return. Can Peter Parker stand firm and be away from the girl at the end of the movie for her own safety? Nope, he did that in 'Spider-Man', so he changes his mind here. That's the problem. Mary Jane? No, we can't, we have to do Gwen Stacy instead. Actually, Gwen Stacy was a really good character in this youthed up movie but if they stay on the comic book timeline then her grisly end can't be far away. Please movie makers, don't let that Green Goblin foreshadowing mean a predictable future arc. Please.

'The Amazing Spider-Man' has some very good points but instead of colour there are shadows and darkness. Instead of geeky Peter Parker quickly embracing the joy of his new powers we have angsty jerky Peter chasing down someone who resembles his uncle's killer. And instead of a broad, human story we have something very neat, very tidy, and very manufactured. Peter Parker's parents being responsible for the spiders that eventually bite him, the villain being a colleague of Parker senior AND working at OsCorp, Gwen Stacy being a senior intern working for Connors as well as a top student at Peter's school, Gwen's father being the police captain hunting Spider-Man, and a plot point with cranes all beggar belief. Still, I wanted to like it and it was a good try at Spider-Man. All it lacks is a good heart at the centre of the production, so as not to be a film made be committee but a noble endeavour instead. Of course, that's hard trick to pull off within a corporate industry but it can be done.

The next Spider-Man movie could be far better, hopefully with Peter being a lot less jerky and a more cohesive story. Emma Stone and Dennis Leary were far better than Andrew Garfield in the lead as they had more sympathetic roles. They won't be both be back in the next movie though, which is sad. Also, presumably, Rhys Ifans won't be back as Curt Connors and the Lizard has hopefully had his day in the sun. Ifans did well in the part but there was no way for him to win with such an abortive story.

Away from the cinema, things proceed well. I helped with a podcast today! Tomorrow: The world!
Meep meep!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Show the banana, show the banana...

"Huzzah!" cried the Fool, "Two applications done!"

Writing this blog has been a struggle over the last week, as I squeeze out job applications and references. Even being generally sane has taken a lot of energy. Now, at least two applications are done and there are suggestions for a third!

"Don't push that button, it's the hyperdimensional jacuzzi operator!"

As I write this, there's a very good episode of 'The Flash' on television in the background and I'm really starting to regret that that show was cancelled after only one season. Apparently it was a classic case of being messed by the network but who can really know? It's actually a really cool program with some subtle writing and effects which are limited but effective. Who would have thought that low speed camera techniques could be applied so effectively? Right now, I'm watching the episode 'Twin Streaks' and it's so much better than any cloned superhero plot I've seen elsewhere. True, that elsewhere consists entirely of 'Lois and Clark' but this is way better than that one! Should I stop extolling praise now? Okay, I'll finish by pointing out that a second season could have been awesome with such intelligent writing.

Looking forward to the weekend, there can be little doubt that - oh my gosh the clone caught a bullet and threw it back lethally! - it will be composed mostly of corrections and visiting my sister and Llanelli. Soon corrections will be done, soon... and afterward there will be some trips. Trips to Aberystwyth, to Nottingham and other places from new job money.

"I can't find the stizzle swick, where's the stizzle swick?"

Maybe some of these entries could be classic television reviews? Don't I have enough writing to do already? Hmm, maybe cycling or swimming would be a better way to fill the far too abundant spare time. That and wondering what else to do. More creative pursuits might be in order. It would be nice to have some kind of comrade in arms to share in some of these things but that ship has sailed.

"That's all folks!"

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The secret gamer

The problem with losing so many things in such a short time is that you lose track of time and get a bit depressed. Let's try not to let things go too far down that road this time.

Bother, my big-ticket comic book item on eBay only got £3.31 for all seven issues. Blast it! Blast it! Sometimes you just can't get rid of a bomb! Fudge and biscuits. Well, space claiming endeavours continue nonetheless!

It was a dark and stormy night. I'm that it was at some point a dark and stormy night. Perhaps it was a Tuesday. Sometimes just the act of writing can be of itself relaxing. It seems as if ninety percent of all worthwhile things are relaxing in some way. Even computer games that I really like. 'Voyage Century Online' was a game I played a lot but didn't exactly like, contrasting with 'Drift City' which I play a lot and DO like. It's great, simple, and ultimately non-violent. True there are a lot of car chases, but you're pursuing drone cars and ramming robots. And when you go out on a chase you get to put the little red police light on top of your car! Also, for various missions you can end up driving petrol trucks, garbage trucks, SUVs and even tiny little minis. And all this is taking place instead of writing maths papers, finishing the thesis, applying for jobs, or even making more eBay listings.

On DVD watch - this is apparently a non-fiction blog entry - this week I'm still watching 'Maverick' and 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' and am adding 'The Flash' series from 1990. It's a potent combination, especially when lonely dogsitting days strike as like tomorrow. Oh, how I hope the application for a really cool sounding postdoc in Bristol gets done. Those supporting statements are murder! It seems impossible to find a graceful way to begin the things. Covering letters are easier, but only rarely required. It's far easier to look for cheap copies of 'Portal' or 'Portal 2' for PC. Wow, those games are supposed to be excellent.

I think I may be outing myself as a gamer, dvd watcher and not a reader. I swear I read. I'm reading right now. Is it a symptom of an ongoing moral retrograde? Oh good grief. This is all very confusing. Actually, I'm reading some Stanley Ellin short stories right now. In any case, worrying.

Cantankerous Oliver.

<Oliver shuffles back to bed and worries>

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lemons are quite nice

I sit here, typing merrily, with Maverick on the television and looking back on a thoroughly ambivalent day. In the absence of full mental stimulation all days become a mire of ambivalent sludge. In fact, ambivalent apathetic tedium. Fortunately job hunting has paid off with a couple of nice opportunities and corrections continue steadily. Ten days until completion by my best estimate. A lack of whimsy means this may be a <gasp> serious blog entry.

Looking for research postings can be an awfully hard business, especially in these times of economic hardship. Almost all mathematical research is funded at least in part by government resources and is always hit hard in recessions. Ah, recessions, here's a serious point. By 'eliminating' fast booms and busts we now have loooooong booms and busts which hurt more people and for longer. Perhaps the old short booms and busts weren't so bad? I'm no economist.

Maverick's been forced into a boxing match. Go on, Bret, go on! And... he won. Not bad against someone with twice the mass. Little underdogs always win boxing matches on television shows.

Not much to write about at the moment. It may be that life content is dropping quickly. If I were a movie, people would be out buying popcorn. A book this dull would sit in library deep storage somewhere before being sold off. Some persistence is required to get from the grim, lonely beginning to the grim, confusing second act and then the grim, tedious current phase. At least I have fingers to type with!

And now a word from our sponsor:
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I now return you to your regularly presented entertainments and go looking for adult hula hoops.

Awestruck Oliver.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A rambling aside #001

According to legend, as I often like to begin things, the only thing comparable to life is chocolate, and the only other thing comparable to chocolate is a slow fall over a waterfall. Hence, life is like a slow fall over a waterfall, and we should all be happy that the view is good and it's not too dry. It also explains why people like to share life with other people, as then you can flick water at each other and complain about the apple cores in the water with you.

What does this clumsy analogy have to do with anything? Well, I have no idea. It might be leading up to a Funny Story, where capitals always imply that it will be nothing of the kind, and probably only tangentially connected to truth. Once, while in my undergraduate studies at Aberystwyth - the great Welsh Valhalla - I woke up one morning and contemplated the day ahead. Being filled with vigour and optimism I leaped out and went forth and lo, outside of the front door to Pumlumon, I beheld the Great Welsh Jogger

<departs from reality quickly>

The Great Welsh Jogger is Nine Feet Tall and a harbinger of all things confusing and contradictory. Clothed in the traditional jogging outfit of shorts and a t-shirt, the Jogger carries two soft weights and has a belt made out of sausages. Needless to say, big curly brown hair is seen sprouting out around a blue headband. Looking from side to side I edged onto the pavement and then to the side. The Jogger was obliviously tying her shoes.

Silently I backed down the pavement until reaching Toilet Alley and evading the potentially eagle eye line of the Jogger. Never would I see that hideous embodiment of chaos again, but never would life be calm once more. The horror had begun, and of course it was a Saturday.

Funny? I think not.