Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Call (Or How To Package)

Well, that was surprising. There was a good episode of 'BUGS'! We'll get back to that in due course, but it was a surprise. Jesse Birdsall was even likeable! Of course, this is all just a diversion, to buy time while I try to remember just what... Oh! Better go back and change the title.

The Call came today. After years of being free of it, the Call came, and Sid Meier's hold returned. Yes, turn-based computer games came back with a vengeance, in the form of 'Alpha Centauri', one of the best computer games to ever be released. Oh, so many hours have been spent colonizing that blasted fungus-enriched world, and being endlessly betrayed by those creeps Chairman Yang, Sister Miriam, and the loony Santiago of the Spartans. So many hours! You click, and click, and take turn after turn, until the world becomes a grey splurge. And it's wonderful. It probably deserves a post of its own, if I'm ever freed from it.

Maybe 'Alpha Centauri' is a displacement activity, as wrapping and packaging awaits. The only problem with finishing your Christmas shopping is that you then have to send all the items off. This requires lots of bubblewrap, tape, brown paper, and a ridiculous amount of patience and organisation. Packaging is one of the most annoying and frustrating things to do in the civilized world, but it's important to do it right. It's more important to make it reusable than to use the bare minimum of stuff.

Yes, it's far too easy to take the easy route in packaging, but if you do it right then you really can make almost all the materials used reusable. If you wrap it in simple bubblewrap, then that can be re-used flexibly by the recipient. The same is true for the brown paper. Boxes are pretty worthless, so it's best to avoid those if at all possible, as well as those horrible plastic bags that masquerade as mailers and can only go in the bin, and padded envelopes, which are utterly inflexible in their applications. Be old-fashioned, and remember to leave an easy way for the person at the other end to get in, so the packaging isn't ruined!

No, this wasn't intended to be a lecture on how to wrap things, but it worked out. Didn't it?


Monday, 27 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Shark Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x04, Produced 1x05)

Interesting and somewhat confusing questions: Is he a villain, or isn't he? Is that really Robert Culp or someone who looks a bit like him? Is there a better moment than when a conquering pirate asks if there's a piano tuner on board?

This is a very nice and unusual episode of UNCLE, which essentially re-introduces Ilya as an equally important operative to Napoleon, and puts together a bizarre situation which nonetheless seems just a little credible. In fact, we don't entirely even have a villain this time, but an ambiguous antagonist instead! Yes, this week on 'The Man From UNCLE', Napoleon and Ilya investigate the mysterious disappearances of several people which happen to coincide with episodes of piracy by the mysterious renegade known only as Captain Shark.

We get the ruthless side of Mr Waverley again, as he rather entertainigly chucks his two favourite stooges in the middle of the ocean on a plank of wood, expecting that they'll be picked up by the pirate's next target, but probably hoping the pirate himself will rescue them. Waverley was somewhat tetchy this week, folks! We get some nice banter, and differentiation between Solo and Kuryakin's temperaments this time, especially in how they deal with Captain Shark and the innocent of the week, the wife of one of the captured missing people, who has a slightly irritating voice.

However, there is one big problem with this episode, and it's not Robert Culp. who is quietly awesome. The problem is that the UNCLE operatives seem to actively do something rather dastardly in stopping the plot by sinking Shark's ship and sending him to his doom. He really wasn't that bad a guy, just deluded and doing what he thought was best in a rather stupid and bad way. He could have been stopped in some better way, surely? Surely? It leaves a very odd impression of the episode as a whole, being much more nuanced than a regular 1960s hour of television. Ah well, it's pretty good nonetheless, with some great moments for Ilya and Napoleon, and some nice story and character moments.

That was Robert Culp, yes?

Next, we'll be skipping 'The King Of Knaves Affair', which is a bit unremarkable, and will rejoin at a point unknown.


Post-script: Very cute act titles this week. Nice.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

A Moment Put Aside For Outrage

Let's have a moment of self-righteous outrage, for the supposed 'Black Friday' sales are upon us, and we have a moment to think. Somehow, we are supposed to accept that suddenly lower prices are acceptable from the people that sell us things, and yet not deduce that we may have been cruelly ripped off during the rest of the year. Seriously. How can it work now, and not before? Somehow, a large number of people don't become immensely nauseated by this, and still manage to buy lots of things, so it must work. Obviously, my outrage is an extremely localised phenomenon. Oh well. C'est la vie. How on Earth do they get away with it? Blasted pirates.

Of course, I'm assuming that they're actually putting anything good on sale, but I wouldn't know without looking. It's much more fun to mutter and fume based on moral indignation, after all. Take that, retailers of tat! Nyahahahaha!

Putting aside incoherent ramblings for a moment, it is time to report that Project Wood is over, and that a major weight has been lifted off the writer of this fine blog, and so things should look up here pretty soon. It was no fun to have four simultaneous major projects, after all, and was actually a major source of stress. Stress is to avoided at all costs. Stress is the source of problems that need not be. Stress is a six letter pseudonym for self-inflicted torture. Never indulge in stress when you can do other things. In any case, Project Wood is complete! All the very many TV DVDs are now homed nicely, away from massive stacks of boxes. Now, if only the movies could be so lucky, and the remaining backlog of books. We may not be materialistic here, but we do love the books, television series and films. And radio shows.

Now, having been incoherent for several paragraphs as usual, it's time to roll on out and pick up a book. Ah, books, the old fashioned but incredibly durable entertainment of history. 'Three Men In A Boat', 'The Code Of The Woosters', 'Journey To The West', 'The Voyage Of The Beagle' and more... The book piles are nice right now. Very nice. Time to read.


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part XV

( Part I , XIV , XVI )

Surprise, having recovered from his faint, and being unexpectedly resourceful on occasion, had rushed off to find a pot of t's, returning quickly. He and Dream enjoyed their snack, while Infinity looked on bemusedly. The crunching was a funny noise in the underground cavern.

"Where did you go, Dream?" Asked the indescribably curious Surprise. He had asked many times before, only to receive a confused and distracted answer.

Dream turned inward, and considered. "Wherever it was, it seemed as if the world was everywhere, or everywhere was here. Did you really all start dreaming while I was gone?"

"Yes. Mystery became quite confused by it all. You know how he is; always frustrated when he's not the one mystifying people."

Dream smiled fondly. "Yes, I know. He's probably out there right now, trying to reach the core of whatever's going on."

Surprise looked around at the word that made everyone feel small. "What about you, Infinity. What did you see while you were asleep?"

"I do not know. Neither of us knows?"

*    *    *

Fire, Earth, Water and Air surrounded the Invader. It looked down upon them and considered. Earth, Water and Air didn't look, or consider. They flowed over the Invader, and stiffened into a set of restraints. Then, the Invader rumbled over and fell onto the surface of the Wordspace. It was immobile, for now, and sheer Elemental stubbornness was something very difficult to overcome.

War approached, and stood over the captured giant. She looked grim, her syllables taut with tension.

"What in the Lexicon are we supposed to do now?"

There shall be more.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Boop Boop

Gargle. Gargle. Is this going to work? Are the words going to flow? After a couple of days of juggling ruined plans and barely sleeping due to dehydration, it seems almost impossible to focus long enough to make a blog post. We've already discussed how crazily error-strewn the first version of 'The Disappearance' was, and it seems redundant to have the similar discussion about the revised version of 'Wordspace'. Yes, version two of 'Wordspace' actually has conceptual errors and inconsistencies. It will have to be re-edited again, eventually, perhaps for the book release! Oh, what wishful thinking...

Oh, this is a hard one to write. I can't imagine what's going to finish off this post. Not the faintest idea. Perhaps moving away from the board game obsession is a useful topic? Books are regaining their prevalence once again. It's very difficult to find new books to read when you have some criteria to stick to, isn't it? Yes, as a slightly prudish person who enjoys story and characterisation, it's hard to find those novels which are interesting, funny and non-gratuitous in any of the relevant ways. It's actually really difficult! That's why the world of archive and vintage fiction is so appealing. There was a time when stories were the rulers over flash and substance, or at least it feels that way. This is what it feels like to be and old fogie, isn't it?

There must be modern authors to get interested in, but it's so hard to find them. Everything I touch feels like a soulless bestseller in its prose, and that is a terrible barrier to overcome. You can't turn up with plain bestseller writing when the reader has read Lord Dunsany, Arthur Conan Doyle, Woody Allen's prose, GK Chesterton, or even David Eddings. It's a fool's errand! There will be more on this in the future.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

In Retrospect

Looking over the draft version of 'The Disappearance', which will soon be revised into something much much better, it becomes clear the quality control on these serial stories is pretty low. In fact, there was no quality control at all! There are typos, grammatical flaws, odd vacancies, and plain inconsistencies. It's alarming, but somehow also reassuring. After several weeks of painting in short bursts, for example, it seems as if perfection is perennially unattainable. Yes, it's rather embarrassing to see just how much gibberish there was in 'The Disappearance', but at least the path of improvement is clear. It just needs to be rewritten a few times, have a few gaps filled in, have some consistency resettled into it, and be processed a few times through the editing mill in time for the thousandth post. So, that's easy! That was irony, folks!

The thousandth post is coming, and is becoming a bit scary. A thousand posts is a ridiculous number, signalling the passage of ludicrous lengths of time, and the madness of our current plane of reality. A thousand posts? Of this stuff? Is is possible? Is it feasible? Is it allowable by law? It has been ninety-nine-per-cent gibberish, after all. What a staggering number. Perhaps it has all been some kind of delusion, and in fact the whole Quirky Muffin is a metaphor for something on a different level of being. Perhaps all of reality is like the tip of an iceberg, and we're all just the smallest parts of the manifestations of utterly incomprehensible multi-dimensional beings. Perhaps they like broccoli, which is actually high entertainment in the multi-space? It all makes sense, if you close your eyes and think of dodos. Oh, dodos, what a shame it was that you vanished from the world we know. Sigh.

In any case, the next few weeks will be all about getting 'The Disappearance' into shape for the thousandth post, and in understanding just what on Earth has happened in 'Wordspace' to date, in the hopes of it actually continuing to completion. 'Wordspace' is by far the most interesting story to ever be attempted here, and it would be nice if it went somewhere. It would be very nice. Anything else would be a waste. The other stories could go either way, but this one needs to be finished. Perhaps the third year of OU study should be delayed in order to get some stories finished. Perhaps.

The new week is looming, and now it's time to get some sleep and prepare for a new set of teaching hours, a new set of studying challenges, and yet more corrective painting. Project Wood will finish this week. Hurrah!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Getting Back On Track

All of the stories here at the Quirky Muffin seem to have vanished, which is sad, but it does provide an opportunity. 'Wordspace', in particular, is now so stalled that it allows a re-read and re-assessment of what has come before. Has enough time passed to make it possible to go on? Of course, being exhausted all the time makes being creative very difficult, which is the main problem! There is no inspiration while sleepwalking around the world, nor is there energy to evaluate and re-evalute possible future directions.

So, we have an opportunity to get back on the story track, hopefully before the thousandth post hits the virtual printing press. This is good, isn't it? IT will be nice to know what on Earth is going on? It's very pleasant to now be almost finished with Christmas shopping and bookcase painting, leaving each day virtually free of ancillary projects. Thank goodness. It's nice to be able to focus on just three things instead of five, this weblog duelling with tutoring and studying for the majority of the week's useful hours.

Oh, Christmas shopping, why do you multiply so?! Why? Another idea just popped into my mind, blast it. Grumble grumble. I blame Barney Rubble.

What will happen with 'Wordspace'? I have no idea, as I don't even know what has happened so far at this point. There is just a bare shadow of events lingering in the memory, hidden behind the confusing clouds of the last few episodes of stalling, needlessly added to the end of the narrative. You wouldn't think that it would be difficult to continue, with so many things happening at once, but all those things were really just methods for not advancing the main plot. Something will have to give. The wood must be found amongst the trees. Somehow.

And now, we return you to your regular scheduled existences. Please return the curtains to their resting position and do not upset the apple carts on your ways to the exit.


Note: No apple carts featured in the making of this post. At all. Something is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Neptune Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x11, Produced 1x04)

We will be up to date with the UNCLE Season 1 rewatch after this post, having skipped the oddly flat 'The Brain-Killer Affair', and so there will be space for other posts that aren't about Napoleon Solo! However, first we will chatter on about 'The Neptune Affair'. This is very much a return to basics, and a good return at that, as Solo is sent off to follow a tenuous trail in hopes of averting a horrific conflict with Ilya's home country. It seems that someone has been launching fungicidal attacks on Soviet crops, and launching them from American territory...

It was nice to see Ilya in Soviet uniform at the beginning, confirming that he is in fact a Soviet officer even while working for UNCLE (or undercover), and it was interesting to see that spilling over a little into his conference with Solo. We get very little Ilya early in the run as he was essentially a minor character until the audience warmed up to him very similarly to the way they did to Spock on 'Star Trek'. Anyway, we get more of him here, but it's still very definitely (and thankfully) the man from UNCLE and not the men from UNCLE that we're following at the moment. Robert Vaughn could easily carry episodes on his own, and with magnificent charm and swagger.

There are some very nice moments in this episode, including some nifty emergency conditioning so that Solo can resist drugged interrogation after muttering a code phrase, and a cute closing sequence on a beach after escaping from the scheme of this week's evil schemer. This time it was the ever wonderful Henry Jones, the prototypical memorable man with an unremarkable name. He had a scheme, and a team, bent on inciting a conflict and then cleaning up what was left of the world after the dust had settled. Presumably from his secret base under a marine oil rig? It's patently daft, but it does allow Robert Vaughn to get in a lot of very impressive and well-shot water work, and the introduction of the innocent's story is very natural and organic.

Hmm. Is there anything else of note? It's good to see Solo going undercover again. It shows an interesting level of deviousness to his abilities. This one will probably be remembered for all the lovely boat and water work, and some very interesting characterisation for Henry Jones' antagonist. It also looks spectacular. Some of these episodes look better than the movies of the time!


Monday, 13 November 2017

Long, Long Ago...

Practically every post of the Quirky Muffin will eventually be a rewrite of something I've written before and forgotten. It's inevitable. Does it matter? Maybe, and maybe not. Is this going to be a first? Who knows? The Great Bird Of The Galaxy? The Mighty Fruitloop?

We could waffle on forever, and even engage in imaginary persiflage (thank you, PG Wodehouse) with ourselves, or we could find some theme to bang on about for a few minutes. Or we could even just ramble on about the issues of the day. Anyone want to talk about Trump, Putin, frozen yogurt, the meaning of life or giant hamsters? No? Blast. Mutter mutter.

It has been a good day. Students are making progress, people are happy, the pressure is off on several fronts, and Christmas is approaching. Oh, Christmas, the season of restrained gifting and Christmas card sending. Christmas cards are pretty easy to buy if you just go to Oxfam or Barnardos and pick the nicest ones. If you're going to buy Christmas cards, then it's entirely fitting to have the proceeds go to charity, isn't it? (Other charity shops are available.)

Christmas is a funny time of year for the principled agnostic. You becomes a little put off by the core Christian aspects that get pushed at you from time to time, appalled by the hideous materialism exhibited by many people, and cheered by the good cheer and charitable moments which pop out naturally as a natural byproduct of it all. Christmas can be a great time of year, if it's taken in the right spirit, and if you avoid adverts as scrupulously as we do here at the Quirky Muffin. No mood will be spoilt by advertising here, mwahahahahah!

It's too early to say if it will be a nice Christmas or not, but the early indications are good. Does that mean disaster is coming?


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Iowa Scuba Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x02, Produced 1x02)

We won't do every episode of the first season of 'The Man From UNCLE' here at the Quirky Muffin, only the ones that are fun, interesting or just staggeringly well-made. We won't be talking about the next one made, for example, 'The Brain-Killer Affair', which was plain disappointing. Here we have something much better: 'The Iowa Scuba Affair' is a classic Napoleon episode, which begins with him facing down a motorcycle and gunning down the driver who's out to run him down, and then sees our sort-of hero posing as the driver's brother, intent on finding out the truth behind his death. It's double-dealings all the way to the bottom, including an encounter with a deadly explosive bath bomb. Yes! Another unlikely sentence printed in all innocence!

It's all go for the man from UNCLE. We also have one of the classical innocents in peril, which enlivens the proceedings, giving a very naive and pretty Katherine Crawford something to do as she gets pulled out of her backwater life into a world of danger and high adventure. The photography becomes less impressive later in the series, or so I remember, but here we get some of the best monochrome imagery, including a wonderful interlude in a grain silo. We can thank director Richard Donner for some of that. Yes, Richard 'Superman' Donner, who also gave us 'Ladyhawke', 'The Goonies', a particularly favourite episode of the 'Twilight Zone', and other works of legendary repute. He did a few for 'Gilligan's Island', to give some idea of his flexibility.

Now, you may be wondering why it's called 'The Iowa Scuba Affair'. This relates to the daft spy plot part of the episode, which involves Slim Pickens digging a tunnel to the nearby air base, using his new well as a secret entrance, which requires scuba gear to gain entry. The tunnel, in association with a deal with a rebel force looking to take over a foreign country and possible THRUSH involvement, means Solo has to get to grips with the mystery of the driver, who was not who he was claiming to be, as quickly as possible.

The genius of this original format is that the story of the 'innocent' character is often more involving than the official spy story. In this case, the lady in question is longing to get away from her lonely country life, and the consequences of being engaged to the dead man wearing the wrong name, and gets more than she bargained for from Napoleon Solo. At least she'll get to visit New York, and get the Solo tour, hopefully without a touch of heartbreak. He's a gent, that guy. The world is full of people who think they don't have choices, isn't it? Is it a happy ending? Maybe, and maybe not, but it's certainly a touching one.

Never take scuba gear to Iowa. Bad things will happen.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Letting Things Go

Words, words, words. It's a weird week. There are still bonfires being burnt, Project Wood has finished principal painting and only requires little touches, maximum tutoring has been reached, two OU assignments have been dispatched, and two board games have been swapped. It has been remarkably busy. In fact, it has been so busy that this post has almost not happened, and may not happen now. This could be a phantom post, always hanging around in blog limbo. Limbo!

Where is blog limbo? Is it up near Jupiter, in the secret Internet archiving station being kept up by the Archons from Planet X? Or is a virtual base deep in the Internet, somewhere that no-one can ever reach except by accident? We can not know.

Oh, it really has been a too hectic day. We may have to let this go quickly. In the coming weeks, you hypothetical readers can expect more 'Man From UNCLE', more 'Wordspace', and more random gibberings. For now, after too much painting, shopping and teaching of graph sketching, it's time to go and think about nicer things in repose, and possibly even reach the end of volume two of 'Journey To The West'! Yes, progress! It has been a very odd journey so far, but enjoyable...

Oh, local humans, stop it with the bonfires!


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Vulcan Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x01, Produced 1x01)

Original Airdate: 22/09/1964

Napoleon Solo is a wise man. He seems to hold some of the secrets of the universe, which power his coolness and poise. Yes, he's definitely the man, and he seems to be a far better agent than that Bond bloke, and a better man.

This is a remade version of the original pilot for UNCLE, which was mysteriously in colour, and featured a different actor as the equivalent to Mr Waverley, the supervisor of our favourite international agents.

'The Vulcan Affair' introduces many of the things which are deeply important to the series as it moves onward, and also pulls off an absolutely brilliant hour of cinematic television. It's excellent. Sam Rolfe truly knew what he was doing when he developed this show. It's a shame that it was run into the ground after he left, but it's all part of history now.

'The Vulcan Affair' has the archetypal example of the 'involved innocent', that was used to some extent in every episode. Patricia Crowley is great as the housewife who gets dragged into action to help entrap a THRUSH industrialist who was an old flame at college, and who becomes confused by her new glamorous life. It's actually more feminist than it sounds! Fritz Weaver is good as the half-sympathetic villain, and William Marshall plays an African villain. Yes, a sophisticated person of colour in 1964! The actual plot is typically corny, but we can't have everything.

The interactions between Robert Vaughn (Solo) and Crowley are especially well judged, and there's a great suspense sequence involving a pipe, some steam, and a lot of futile bashing with a shoe. She and Vaughn really work well together, and their hysteria is a great moment. The music by Jerry Goldsmith works entirely to the show's credit, and the whole thing reeks of potential. Is it going to be a good season? Is it? Yes, with great patches.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Perfectionists Must Never Use Brushes...

The last phase of Project Wood is nearing its end, but its an end that keeps moving further and further away. First you paint the white, then you make the shelves orange, then you make the trim blue, and then you go back and go over the splashes made by each of the distinct steps, and then over the splashes from the corrections, and so on, and so on, before you eventually go mad from all that and the hours of applying masking tape. Oh, the masking tape! It's madness! Absolute madness! Sticky, icky, relentless madness!

On an unrelated tangent: Fireworks are popping, or were until a few moments ago. It's fitting, as it's November the Fifth. It's the anniversary of that attempted explosive change of government yet again, and the world outside is reeking once again of smoke, while a very bright full-ish Moon is peering down in perplexity upon the smokey landscape. It's not an exaggeration, for once there is no rain on Fireworks Night, and it reeks out there. It reeks in here. It reeks everywhere! Smoke is permeating the country from all the revolting bonfires. Bleuch! I never could understand the appeal of this rotten cold and smelly event. Perhaps it's yet another aspect of innate human masochism peeking through the veil of civilization? Perhaps it's just that people like burning things and making loud noises? Why do people like to burn things anyway? It's such a malodorous waste of material.

Painting and burning are actually two examples of just how primitive our methods can be at times. How do we change the colour of something? We slop appropriately coloured slime all over the object and then wait for it to dry. How do we make heat? We burn something to a crisp and wave our hands over it. It really is just like being in the old days all over again. Maybe it's good to have primitive aspects to our lives, but I really wish that painting and burning weren't amongst them them. Music is pretty primitive and not hideous, after all. Let's keep music. And frisbees.

At some point in the process of painting something with several colours, you really need to throw away any slant for perfectionism that you have and say that it's good enough. As a perfectionist, it hurts to say that, but no matter what you do, there will always be a problem caused by the last thing you did, or the storage conditions, or sheer random luck. Perfection is practically impossible. Instead of going mad, it becomes time to stop, and think of fountains, weirs, forests and mountains. Ah, the real world of the old Greek elements... Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and the other one. Yes, yes, I know the fifth one was really Aether. It was a joke! Sheesh...


Friday, 3 November 2017

Film: 'It Happened Tomorrow' (1944)

It's sweet, unexpected, and really rather kooky. It may be the only time I get to see Dick Powell in a movie, and thankfully is is a good one. He was great in 'Richard Diamond, Private Detective' on the radio, and he's good here. As is Linda Darnell, rehabilitating herself from the dodgy performance in 'The Mark Of Zorro', and director Rene Clair, who made the extremely flimsy 'I Married A Witch' (IMAW). 'It Happened Tomorrow' (IHT) feels much better than than IMAW, which was almost disturbingly vacuous. There is a lot more of a through-line here, and the ending would have been unexpected in 1944. The ending to what? Is it time for the obligatory plot explanation. Not quite yet. We need to do some background.

Ah, some background, there was a show in the 1990s called 'Early Edition', which had a wonderful first season, and then stopped being aired in the UK. It was about a man who started receiving tomorrow's newspaper a day early, delivered by a cat, and set out to try and save people from the calamities occurring in the headlines. Apparently, the latter seasons fell apart, but I couldn't say so from personal experience. It was a nice season of television, and it may have been inspired partially by this movie, which in turn was inspired by a story by Hugh Wedlock and Howard Snyder, and was very similar to a one-act play by Lord Dunsany. Have we never mentioned Dunsany yet here on the Quirky Muffin? Corr! It must be some kind of hideous anomaly! IHT also keeps to a lesser known indicator of good movies: the presence of Sig Ruman. Hurrah! He's back again!

In IHT, a reporter in the late nineteenth century makes a flippant bet with a veteran colleage at his newspaper, after a bizarre conversational interlude, that he would do very well out of getting the paper a day early. Pops, the colleague, promptly shows up later and hands him one before vanishing into the night, and we get a bizarre string of narrative feedback loops over the next few days as Stevens, the reporter, is both influenced by and ends up guaranteeing the stories that he's reading early. He also becomes involved with some stage psychics, gets robbed, and ultimately is scared witless by reading his own obituary. Of course, that may not have been quite what it seemed...

In common with IMAW, this movie has a deep supernatural element, and a probable angel, but it also has a lot more story happening. It's much more interesting. The plotting is in fact very clever, as it never quite unravels in the ways that you think it might, and the last few sequences are very impressive as we chase over parts of the city and eventually down a chimney into the one fatal place that Stevens absolutely did not want to visit...

Dick Powell is quietly very good, Linda Darnell is capable and very pretty in places, and Jack Oakie is excellent as her uncle, with much mugging and fainting during a great and profitable interlude at the race track. It's all lots of fun. Hurrah for fun movies! And hoorah for movies told as flashbacks. Recommended.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Ask It Another Day

Fresh from watching 'It Happened Tomorrow', which was a wonderful and kooky little movie which we'll talk about tomorrow, perhaps, it's time to get a bit wordy. Or very wordy, in a bid to escape assignment pressure. Oh, that assignment pressure! It's not fun to have two modules with identically scheduled assignments. It's not fun at all! At least the following years will not feature plural courses...

Actually, assignment season isn't so bad once you get an idea of what you need to do. Exams and assessments always look more intimidating in prospect, and they usually have big mountains of pressure which actually don't exist. Oh, the horror. There's no reason to be scared of assessment, or is there? Oh well, that's a question for another day.

There are lots of questions to be asked on other days. Some are serious. Is this the day to make a will? Can I not do this sufficiently well any more? Some are frivolous. Why are we throwing fish at the penguins? Is this frisbee really the reincarnation of Uncle Fritz? Who is that person waving a roundhead helmet in the window?

Actually, who is that person in the window, waving a roundhead helmet? And how do I know what a roundhead helmet looks like? Good questions! Is it all related to Ando Hiroshige, who is ironically the topic of my Spanish assignment, despite being a nineteenth century Japanese expert in landscape engravings, who quite liked the Tokaido, the ancient trading and pilgrimage route. Ah, the Tokaido... It's also a very odd little game... Ah, the window figure is just a ghost. What a relief. Next delusion, please, this is getting interesting.

In any case, 'It Happened Tomorrow' was rather good. It may be the only time I'll ever see Dick 'Richard Diamond, Private Detective' Powell on a screen, looking entirely unlike what you might expect. More on this tomorrow.