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December 17, 2005

Ideas for blog posts

Very few people read this blog, but I would like to entertain them occasionally.

In this post - which I'll update occasionally and so should make it back to the top of your RSS reader (you are using RSS aren't you?).

I'm going to list things that I'd like to write about, but don't get time. If someone updates this post with a comment, then I'll make every effort to actually write the post.

Ideas so far...

1. Write about old pop stars who get a new lease of life due to a more trendy artist liking them. Think Peter Kaye and Tony Christie here.

err, that's it, but stay tuned.

Posted by se71 at 06:01 PM | Comments (1)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - ludicrous magic sequel.

The producers, being handed a terrible forth installment of the Harry Potter franchise by J.K. Rowling, rightly decided to spice it up a bit, and also make it more scary, to try and attract the cinema-going audience.

So we have death-eaters (a scary name for ordinary people who follow Voldemort, the bad wizard); we have a man cutting his own hand off; and far more girls than usual either strutting around, crying or giggling, and one even wears a swimsuit. The whole premise of this story is so fatally flawed, and the ending so predictable, that only these elements and big flashy effects can attempt to save it. By the way, they fail, and what you are left with is simply a filler. Like most music albums contain filler tracks, this film server the same purpose in the Potter pantheon. The story is just a transition piece.

Anyway, back to the story itself. If you had some really good trainee wizards, would you resurrect a contest in which one or all of them were likely to be killed horribly? Would you create a big arena and get all the younger students to sit and watch the massacre? And yet this is exactly what the Tri-Wizard contest is all about. And yes, one of the contestants does get killed. Pure nonsense, just a bad excuse to get Harry into some avoidable peril - to set up some bad challenges that can only be completed successfully through mostly luck, and also a good amount of cheating. There aren't even any good morality points for kids to pick up in this film.

Why girls still like the Harry Potter stories is also a complete mystery. Boys perhaps see an underdog hero always succeeding even though he has no idea why. But the felmale characters like Hermoine and Cho-Chin are either victims or hopeless love fools. They don't even get to wave a wand at all this time. One girl is actually in the Tri-Wizard contest, but she has to be rescued repeatedly by Harry, who even get's extra points for losing. The boys don't really do a whole lot better with Ron hating everyone and making you wonder why anyone would want to be his friend, never mind girlfriend. And yet we're supposed to think that the hyper-intelligent Hermoine is desperately in love with him. Well, maybe it does happen, but I prefer to believe in flying broomsticks.

As a stand-alone film this one is the worst of the bunch. It beggars belief that it has made so much money, but then, I suppose I did buy four tickets myself, having given in to pester power.

Posted by se71 at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005


The British Comedy Awards were last night.

What a load of rubbish.

I'm sorry Ashley Jensen, but you were hardly amusing at all in Extras. You're probably a decent enough actress, and maybe with a funny script you'd be OK, but this show was weak. You only got the award because Ricky Gervaise wrote the thing and he's still the golden boy of UK comedy after the success of The Office. Tasmin Grieg or Catherine Tate deserved this much more.

Little Britain, well, it was funny in the beginning, but the same jokes don't work the 20th time. Matt Lucas is a talented performer, bringing something new to each character - David Walliams however really only does about two accents, badly.

X-Factor is a piece of crap, with piss poor performances every week. Why are people still watching this totally scripted 'live' show. Those water throwing episodes are so clearly setup, and just designed to keep gullable viewers hooked. All the presenters should be ashamed of themselves for inflicting this crud on us. And as for Ant & Dec's Saturday night show, I'd really rather have Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby back.

Oh, it's so easy to criticise.

Especially when the funniest British program on TV for the last 15 years, "Have I got News For You", didn't even get a look in.

I'm embarassed too, that the three nominations for International comedy show (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kath & Kim, and The Simpsons) are all miles better than anything we do here in Britain.

Posted by se71 at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

Robert Sheckley

Sad news, one of my favourite authors has died.

Robert Sheckley helped form my science fiction views at a young age. His novel "Immortality Inc" made me think about death and religion in a new way, and his short fiction was always funny and inventive.

Some of his work was clearly influenced by drugs, but even these rambling stories showed me that a book doesn't always have to make sense, sometimes the journey can be enjoyable even if the destination is never reached (I'm talking mostly about a 'Options' here, and some of the weirder short stories)

His work is rarely found in bookshops now, though I always check. Freejack was a movie made from "Immortality Inc", but it didn't really work that well and concentrated on the action/chase theme rather than the more tricky philosophical one I remember. You might be able to still find the novel under that name. Having a big star (Mick Jagger) killed the film's credibility in the same way Sylvester Stallone damaged the Judge Dredd one.

Of course, I read nearly everything he wrote before I was 15 years old, and some of it hasn't aged as well as it might, but only last year I reread a couple of his short story collections and they held up pretty well.

Here is a list of his books that I have at home - if anyone has any others, I'd be very interested.

Immortality Inc.
The Robot Who Looked Like Me
Dimension Of Miracles
Store Of Infinity
The People Trap
The Status Civilization
Can You Feel Anything When I Do This
Journey Of Joenes
The Alchemical Marriage Of Alistair Crompton

Posted by se71 at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2005

Hemel Hempstead Oil Explosion

Originally uploaded by se71.
Update to the Hemel Hempstead explosion.

I went for my usual Sunday morning cycle, and interestingly the smoke was easily visible from Windsor Great Park.

Posted by se71 at 08:06 PM | Comments (2)


I heard a large bang and the house shook this morning just after 6am.

I got up and checked for thunder - the weather looked calm. So I had a look on the internet and Radio 4, nothing.

Just got downstairs and now find that there was an explosion near Hemel Hempsted.

That really must have been loud!

Posted by se71 at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

MP3 Players

When I go home tonight, I'll be carrying five MP3 players. How did this kind of thing happen, only a few years ago this would have been absurd.

The first two aren't really my fault - I have a personal laptop that stays in the office during the week and is taken home at weekends. It's used for email and other personal documents that I don't want on my employer's network. It's obviously multimedia enabled and plays MP3s. The second laptop is my company loaner. I have to take it home every day to support the systems I administer for my job. Due to the way we have security set up I'm not allowed to use my personal laptop for remotely connecting to the firms network. It plays MP3s too.

I bought a new phone recently, and thought I'd get one that was business-like but also fun. the Nokia 6230i was recommended. As well as making calls and writing texts, it's also a 1.3Mp camera, a calendar, alarm clock, web browser, radio, and also amongst other things, an MP3 player.

Being a bit gadget mad, I couldn't resist the new Sony PSP. I waited for years to buy a portable device that plays games and movies for a reasonable price. This one has a great screen, browses the web, can do a nice slideshow of my photos, and also plays MP3s.

The fifth and final MP3 player is actually branded as such. It's an iRiver 390T with a built in radio and voice recorder. It's the smallest and lightest and the only one that takes proper batteries. I like it as it has a long battery life, and I never have to carry a charger for it.

So on my person the tally goes:

5 MP3 players
3 MP3 encoders
2 radios (4 if you count laptop internet radio)
4 web browsers
4 calendars
4 voice recorders

Funny thing is, I'll probably just sit quietly and read a book.

Posted by se71 at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)