Books: Ian Fleming “From Russia With Love”

September 27, 2008

Ian Fleming‘s “From Russia With Love” (0/5)

The fifth James Bond book published in 1957, the fifth bond book I’ve read and as I’m fairly sure it will be the last here is what I thought about the other ones.

Casion Royale – good, atmospheric and ‘edge of the seat’ stuff.
Live and let Die – ok, just a simple gangster crime caper.
Moonraker march08 – the best because it gave a personality to Bond, and showed a little of the day to day civil servant work in the office.
Diamonds Are Forever – alright, but again a fairly straight forward crime caper

So with mixed expectations I had a go at From Russia With Love.  It had a strange start with Bond not appearing till chapter 11 leaving all the first section just setting up a plot to kill him and, frankly, going into far too much detail on all the various side characters.

When James did first appear the pace of the book did pick up and for a while was interesting again but slowed right down again when the ‘action’ moved onto the Orient Express.  The core plot device was is-this-beautiful-russian-girl-defecting-because-she-loves-bond-or-is-it-a-trap … I didn’t need to be reminded of this every chapter with the characters spelling it out and discussing it again.  When the final climactic fight came I had lost all interest in the plot and just wanted it to finish.

Waste of time, not sure if I will ever return to this series.


Quality of Life question

September 21, 2008

Woodlands (the area of Glasgow rather than the concept of where you find trees) is going way downhill in my opinion.  I wouldn’t recommend living here to anyone thinking of moving into the area.  I’m sure there are worse places to live but in the past few years this place is quickly becoming a hell hole.

It is 2.30 on a Saturday night (Sunday morning) as I write this, from around 11 there is a fairly consistent stream of drunks walking around shouting to each other, throwing up or pissing in the street (and in the street is at least not in the doorway of your close where the rain doesn’t wash it away). There is also the boy racers with bass amps pumping out of their cars and loud exhausts driving around in circles and revving away from each give-way.

At around 12 there was two loud bangs in the close, I went down to find someone had kicked in a glass panel of the front door.  No sign of anyone around, but shards of glass everywhere, and no other neighbours sticking their heads out to see what was happening.

But the reason for this 3am rant isn’t any of that.  It is because of a flat which is almost a full block away but which shares the same back court area as my flat.  So the problem is I don’t notice anything till I go into the bedroom and then hear the noise from their music and loud chat.  They seem to like having lots of friends around and opening all the windows, presumably because they have no concept that this might disturb anyone else in the world.

Tonight is the 4th time in three weeks I’ve had to call the police.  Each time I’ve had to first get dressed, go around the corner and make sure I’ve got the right address because I can’t actually see from my place.  If the Police do come (and I don’t doubt that they will, just that this shouldn’t be a priority for them as I’m sure they have more important things to do), but what realistically can they do?  Get the music off – the talk, laughter and screaming is just as loud.  Do they refer back to previous reports and act quicker or with more power?  Do they get them to close their windows?

Of course the other recourse is the council noise team, but they need to measure the noise from within a residence and the noise from my flat one block away isn’t loud enough to cause complaint even though it is too loud to sleep through!  Is no one else kept awake by these selfish idiots?

I could simply ignore it by putting in ear plugs – I tried that tonight but could still hear this party, also as mentioned previously, I now have an idiot downstairs who can’t work a grill, so I’d rather not have earplugs in so that I can hear a smoke alarm.  Anyway, they aren’t the most comfortable thing and why should I?

So what should I do?
How long to I live in this area, which I have liked, which can be nice in daylight and which at one point I actually felt ‘called to’ when the quality of life is getting so poor?
Is it the whole area or just because I’m at the end of a road?
Why doesn’t Glasgow City Council do anything to limit the number of HMOs in an area (which their own rules say they should do)?
Why are people so self centred and inconsiderate?
Is this ‘seasonal’ as the students come back?
What is the biggest risk earplugs in or out?
Why is there no sign of the Police 40minutes after calling?


Bloody Students!

September 19, 2008

5am

2 Police cars

3 Fire Engines

1 idiot new student in the ground floor flat below me

About 4:30 I was woken up by doors banging downstairs, I now think that was him coming home, unless he woke early and felt hungry.  Shortly after that there was the sound of this distant alarm.  At first I thought it was someone who had to get up early then figured it was a bit loud.  When I stuck my head out into the close there was an odd smell – not smoke, but not right!

I went down and knocked on the door, and was then joined by one of the girls from the flat above mine who was more confident than I was that there was a smell of smoke.  But even though I could hear two guys talking inside the flat they weren’t answering.  I knocked louder, rattled the letterbox, still no response – I asked the girl to call the fire brigade …  then, because they weren’t opening the door I suddenly had the idea that it might have been a break in and the idiots trying to get the alarm to stop.

So we went for broke and called the Police as well (both fire and police arrived very quickly! and in force)…  but it was at this point that one very sorry looking young guy opened the door saying that the grill had set off the fire alarm and he couldn’t get it off (his flatmate went back to his room).  It didn’t take long to see he wasn’t firing on all cylinders but I’m still not sure if that was because he was tired or drunk.  Anyway, I asked if I could have a look (at least I think I asked) and went into the kitchen.

Sure enough the grill was off, a window was open and there was a ladder underneath a sensor which had been ripped out of the ceiling.  However, there was a pot of (what may at one time been…) chili bubbling away on top of the hob.  I turned that off, and switched on the extractor fan, but basically the place looked safe (well, apart from the occupant).  I had a quick look at silencing the smoke detector in the hall but that was when the firemen arrived…

A few minutes later another smoke detector somewhere upstairs went off, because by now the ground floor flat door had been open for a while and the close was filling with this smell (there never was much actual smoke).  The two of us who had been out from the start of all this went to check it wasn’t us, but even with that and with all this noise in the close and fire engines and police cars outside, no one else came out to see what was going on… how come I wake up with someone moving around in their own flat yet others can sleep through all this?

So now it is 5:45, my flat smells of burnt-stuff and I’m trying to figure out whether to stay up or go back to bed?

I figure I’ll pop in to introduce myself to this new neighbour tomorrow evening… that should be fun :-)


church and worship ?

September 14, 2008

The Deeper team have been discussing what worship is and what church is, these aren’t necessarily related to anything we came up with…


movies: 12 Angry Men

September 13, 2008
Rather than watch “dancing on X-factor celebrity saturday night special” I stuck on a DVD I picked up for only £4 this week.  The 1957 box office flop which has become a classic 12 Angry Men.   A claustrophobic jury room drama which brings out incredible performances from all the cast is on the face of it a simple story about 12 men trying to decide the guilt or innocence in a murder case that we as the audience never get to see.

Other than two brief scenes at the start and end of the movie everything takes place in a hot and stuffy jury room, where tempers flair and personal prejudice are come on display. Gradually through the movie one by one the jury members begin to doubt their original opinion of the case which initially looked like a foregone conclusion.

I had planned to get several things done while watching this in the background, but was captivated from the start.  The performances are outstanding from all the cast, who you will recognise from other movies of the time even if thier names aren’t as familiar as Henry Fonda and ‘that bloke from Quincy‘.

The direction, camera work and lighting were also fantastic with simple things like a sudden rainstorm making it dark and requiring the lights to be turned on just as sides voting balance one another.  I also noticed that as the film went on there were less long shots and more closeups, on IMDB trivia this is explained as:

“At the beginning of the film, the cameras are all positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater distance between the subjects. As the film progresses the cameras slip down to eye level. By the end of the film, nearly all of it is shot below eye level, in close-up and with telephoto lenses to increase the encroaching sense of claustrophobia.”

Great film, spelbinding, didn’t get anything done.


movies: yeast

September 13, 2008

OK, so I get this text from some friends saying that they are going to a short film thing in the basement of a local coffeshop – they didn’t know if it would be up to anything but taking the risk.  It was free, there was coffee, so how bad could it be?

I won’t go into the details as you probably will never come across this film ( Yeast, starring and directed by Mary Bronstein ).  I’m not sure if this was supposed to be ‘experimental film’ ‘non-narrative cinema’ or ‘art school’ but basically avoid at all costs!  Just one thing that bugged me about this film was that all the characters seemed to have at least once scene when they spoke with their mouth full of food!

Really, dialogue, characters, technical, sound camera work… all went together to make a really poor piece of work. This was a free showing and I still feel I should have asked for my money back.


Antmusic collaboration on T4

September 7, 2008

So live on T4 Transmission, September 5, 2008 The Charlatans and Dirty Pretty Things perform Antmusic.  But is it just me who would like to actually see this?  The camera work / direction in this bit of video is shocking!

If you’ve watched it already, did you spot that there was more than one drummer?  Adam Ant had various incarnation of ‘the ants’, from early punk through the new-romantic 80s to going solo, but the best known line up had two drummers Chris “Merrick” Hughes and Terry Lee Miall.   It looks to me that both are playing in this collaboration along with Dirty Pretty Things drummer Gary Powell.  But there are only a couple of shots that you can see there are THREE drummers!

Not only does whoever is calling the shots decide not to show much of the only two members of the original band being paid tribute to here, or a fairly unusual visual impact of having three drummers but for some reason at 1:28, they again at 2:28 we get the camera to sweep past a set of step ladders that has been left on the side of the stage!?  The second time this is done it lasts for the duration of a drum solo only for the camera to cut away when the camera finally arrives at the drummers – what’s going on, what is the director trying to show or is it simply that they have a programmed flying camera that can do that sweep, so might as well use it whether it fits or not.

OK, so visual rant over, the version of Antmusic is fun, the singers have dressed up for the part and it is a good track.  Shame you can see so little of it in this video.

Visually this version is fantastic, but it is more famous famous because they are so obviously miming and at around 2 min in the bassist guitar strap breaks and he starts messing around like an idiot, it isn’t hard to see how pissed of Adam is (skip to 5:45ish if you don’t want to watch it all).  Kevin Mooney was sacked shortly after this Royal Variety Performance in 1981.

and just for the hell of it, here’s Robbie Williams version of antmusic from 1998


Books: Terry Pratchett “The Fifth Elephant”

September 6, 2008

Terry Pratchett‘s “The Fifth Elephant” (5/5)

Another in the series of Pratchett’s books based around Sam Vimes and the City Watch characters.  This, I think, is one for the fans and certainly a book that fits in a series rather than on its own as there are a growing number of characters to keep up with and so are covered only in short sections that are extremely funny if you know the character already (thinking about Corporal Nobby Nobbs and Sergeant Fred Colon but also the relationship between Carrot and Angua).

That said, this is a great story, very funny and introduces lots of new features of these stories.  I really like the way female dwarfs are starting to express their femeninity, or the introduction of signal towers, the Igors and the way warewolfs in human form don’t like words like ‘bath’ and ‘vet’.  Really enjoyed this book and it was a good choice to read something funny for a change.