Today after work, I finally got to business. After a little bit of fiddling with partitions, I've finally got XP up and running on the lappy, as well as AVG installed. I still have a whole host of drivers and such to install, but I at least have a working internet connection. Yay me!
In other news, I got about 90 minutes off for a paid lunch today, as I was part of the winning team for a competion at work. Had me a damn fine Angus burger and plenty o' laughs. Meanwhile, the rest of the department was dealing with the queue that arose when our team left the floor. *evil chuckle*
Whilst getting the 'puter sorted out, I watched a moderately spooky film, "The Unborn," and lots and lots of the first season of the cartoon series "Shaolin Showdown." (Yes, I'm a big kid at heart. *chuckle*) All in all, a good day. : )
Well, it turns out that when my cousin informed me that "The Watchmen" was playing at the theatre, it was actually just for the one night prior to the DVD release. Guess who didn't find this out until we go there.
Instead, we watched "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," which turned out to be quite enjoyable, despite a certain key critical character incident (or, perhaps even, because of it).
I did eventually get to see "The Watchmen," albeit on DVD. As promised by some, it was, indeed, very true to the graphic novel. However, I suspect that this was, perhaps, a disappointment for many of the unitiated, who were expecting an action packed superhero adventure, as opposed to the gritty and cynical exploration of human character that it was.
All features of the film were brilliant, but one thing I was particularly pleased by was the music choices. Although I had expected to hear some Smashing Pumpkins based on the initial trailers (and sadly, there wasn't any in the film), I was at least rewarded by a number of Philip Glass pieces from Koyaanisqatsi that I had heard in other trailers. Furthermore, the film featured Leonard Cohen, Jimmi Hendrix, and a wealth of other songs and artists demonstrating multiple eras of protest and cynicism in response to the ingrained madness of the human condition.
All in all, I was quite pleased with the film and will be purchasing the DVD when the Collector's Edition comes out.
In other news, I came to the end of a (minor) era. I was in the DVD rental place on a hot summer day and found myself thirsting for something cold and tasty. Looking through the drink cooler, I spied a number of bottles of Barq's, my all-time favourite rootbeer. I hadn't had any in quite some time, as I've been cutting back quite a bit on pop and other sugary drinks, drinking mostly water instead. With nigh child-like eagerness, I purchased a bottle and set to drinking.
I was shocked and saddened to discover that Barq's was now just far too sweet for me to drink and I only managed a third of the bottle before tossing the rest away. *sigh*
Thankfully, I had tried a bottle of Dad's Rootbeer the other day, and that was actually quite enjoyable, so that may be supplanting Barq's for the the position of my favourite.
I've been eagerly awaiting the release of "The Watchmen" on DVD whilst lamenting the fact that I had missed it in the theatres. My cousin just called and asked me if I wanted to go see a film. It was then that it was revealed that "The Watchmen" has been making a return appearance to one of the theatres! I'm gonna go see "The Watchmen" on the Big Screen afterall! Yay!!!!!
In other news, the back is healing. I may begin running again sometimes this week. I tried a short fifteen minute run last week, but was rewarded only by a massive ache/cramp in my side that wouldn't release for the entire freakin' evening! ARGH!!! I did set back the healing a wee bit this afternoon, I rode over to the local liquor store and biked home with a somewhat burdensome backpack of boozy bounty. 'Twas a worthy sacrifice, however! A previously empty liquor larder is now stocked with some Peach Schnapps, Disaronno and *dreamy sigh* a bottle of good ole' Cap' Morgan's Spiced Rum. The can of Gaymer's cider (too sweet for my liking) and the single serving bottle of Smirnoff's (so that I have something to compare to when I finally crack open that bottle of Crystal Head Vodka my brother gave me for my birthday) have already been consumed.
Speaking of crystal heads, I finally got to watch "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". I was surprised by just how entertaining that film. Sure, it was formulaic, but, damn, what a good formula!
Other than that, life is reasonable.
Here's a quick run down:
( Here's a quick run down: )
Here's a rundown on some of the films I've seen lately:
Madagascar II: Escape to Africa - Yes, the critters finally make it to Africa. Romance, dance numbers, witchdoctors, kung fu, and a group of penguins that make Macgiver look like Red Green. Not exactly intellectually stimulating, but good, family fun nonetheless.
Late Fragment - We rented this film as it was marketed as an interactive film where the audience could select different options at different moments to arrive at different endings. Seems intriguing, right? Kinda like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book? Sadly, in this case, 'interaction' meant channel surfing through four surprisingly unengaging stories with characters that one just couldn't get into. Late Fragment? Frag it!
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man - We watched this one all the way through. It gave plenty of interesting insight into this reknowned poet, as well as covering a number of his most famous songs. Sadly though, the cover artists tended to be on the mediocre side and often did not do the songs justice. Still, it's fairly watchable, even for someone who isn't a big fan: Cohen is just that interesting!
Doomsday - Essentially, this British film is Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome crossed with 28 Weeks Later and an added pinch of Escape from New York. If you're into post-apocalyptic action films, this is good, if occasionally gruesome, fun. Highlights include remote controlled eyeballs, Bob Hoskins, SCA gone wrong, decapitations, black knights, cannibalism, and some seriously freaky punks.
Found courtesy of thebitterguy 's blog ....
And flowing through ysabetwordsmith 's blog, a website showing how anti-Conservative Canadians can vote to minimize the environmental damage that Stephen Harpy can cause (whilst boosting seats for all other parties):
Here's another amusing YouTube video (a must see for all fans of Big Trouble In Little China) I discovered, thanks to thebitterguy :
... I counted my last truck. Yay!
'Tis the long weekend after which I begin my job as a technical support rep. Yep. I'z soon to begin my call centre monkey training. I probably would be looking forward to it more if it wasn't going to be from 4:30 PM to 1:00 AM, but I knew I'd have to get used to those hours eventually, anyhow. I'm not entirely thrilled with the idea of biking home at 1 in the morning, but I'll manage.
At some point within the next few months, I'll have to do one of two things, either purchase a car or move into an apartment that's within walking distance of my workplace. Said simply, bikes don't ride so well in the midst of a full on Canadian winter. (This ain't the south of England anymore, me buckies!)
Meanwhile, it has been a very active week, all truck counting aside. The household has undergone successive waves of invasion by assorted relatives from both sides of the family. Being the introvert that I am, this has strained my social muscles some, and it ain't over yet! Still, we've been enjoying the company, especially my mother. I had a blast whilst my favourite aunt with her two teens showed up; it was a riot! All three have a wicked sense of humour that I appreciate immensely. The presence of my two younger cousins also provided sufficient excuse to do activities such as: visit tourist attractions, wandered through a zoo, watched 'Wanted' (NOT recommended for the faint of heart, btw), did a bit of go-carting (though that was a bit disappointing as I found the farm's utility jeep to have much more speed), indulged in some video games, and even engaged in a bit of shopping. Lots of fun all around!
Last night was especially hedonistic as we had BBQd steak for dinner. Not just any steak, mind you, but a ginormous Angus beef steak from BC, cooked to just the right level of rare. It was perfect. *bliss* Said steak, of course, was accompanied by a lovely red and many other tasty food items, including baked potatoes and my mother's baby carrots sweetened with maple syrup (very yummm!).
Aside from picking up another aunt from the airport tomorrow (and sorting out a new bank account into which to deposit my pay), I'm not yet sure what this weekend holds. At least another movie, I suspect... *grin*
Life is good!
* Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker is Oscar worthy - He brought a lot of things to his performance as the Clown Prince of Crime that surpassed even Jack Nicholson's portrayal of that role. Notable features include a strange philosophical sense of purpose to The Joker's typical malevolent mirth and an even stranger sensitivity that takes the role well beyond a typical comic villain.
* Though not as visually stunning as its predecessor, the cinematography is excellent.
* The action element, too, is dynamic, though, again not quite on par with Christopher Nolan's first in the series.
* The story is VERY plot driven - action and special effects clearly take a secondary importance in this film.
* Comic fans will be pleased to note that Nolan borrows strongly from some of the best writing from the Batman series. He tells his own Batman story whilst staying very true to the feel and themes connected with the 'Dark Knight.'
* Despite all the action and effects, The Dark Knight is clearly a thinking person's film, discussing a wide variety of topics, including just how little separates The Batman from The Joker.
Now on to the more serious stuff. There are three principle characters in this film: The Batman, The Joker, and District Attorney Harvey Dent. These three are used as symbols in a deep discussion of what is a person or society willing to sacrifice in order to be secure, especially under the threat of terrorism. The Joker, obviously, acts at the face of terrorism, pursuing goals that completely diverge from worldly agendas such as wealth, power and respect. Indeed, he visibily acts in contradiction to them. Dent becomes how modern Western society would like to see such problems resolved, in a manner that is forthright, honest and just. He is a paragon of conviction and virtue. He is the Hero that everyone wants. Unfortunately, whilst he proves effective against normal criminals, whose motivations are fathomable, he is unable to deal with The Joker. Thus, The Batman becomes what is necessary to defeat The Joker, though often uncomfortably approaching becoming what he stands against. He is effective, but despised for what he feels he must do and the sacrifices he must make. He can be seen as representing the 'War on Terrorism.' How others respond to him parallels the many opinions held of the actions of certain powers against their terrorist foes. Various other aspects of this complex philosophical discusssion are presented and represented by other characters as well.
Nolan doesn't seem to present any answers to the question, nor does he present this film as an apology for what has been done in the fight against terrorism. Indeed, The Joker makes pains to explain that he exists solely because The Batman does. What Nolan does seem to offer, however, is possible explanations of why this question exists, a springboard for further thought and discussion.
I did mention that this was a thinking person's film...
All in all, a good weekend!
This is among the most amazing six minutes of film footage you will ever see!
See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OPtXtHcc 2o
(It gives me goosebumps everytime I watch it!)
How is it that, in just two short bike trips, I've seen far more pheasants in Eastern Canada than I had ever seen in well over three years of living in Britain?!?
Nearly zero regrets...
A couple days ago, I asked one of my colleagues in the English department if my position had been advertised for yet, only to discover, to my shock and horror, that the head teacher, in a display of complete stupidity, has decided AGAINST replacing me and, instead, has decided that my horridly wretched timetable will be foisted off on the remaining members of my department, as if they weren't over worked and stressed as it is.
WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?
My colleagues have been really good about trying to make sure I don't feel guilty about my decision to resign (for example, by laying full blame on the head), but I think that just makes it worse. Still, I know I couldn't have continued to take much more and I'm pretty sure they know it, too.
The head's leadership has been somewhat less than stellar. There's a LOT of discontent going around. Not only are many staff talking about leaving, some of 'em have already found positions elsewhere.
The school is sliding into hell and that's a shame...
Meanwhile, in an attempt to forget some of the grief of the week, I indulged in, amongst cider and chocolate, a rather entertaining film last night. In keeping with the zombie theme, I watched Planet Terror, by Robert Rodriguez, of Grindhouse. Whereas the last two zombie flicks I've seen have taken a high concept approach to the genre, Rodriguez has taken the decidedly opposite approach, attempting to emulate the style of 'grindhouse' action films (low budget B-grades, exploiting sex and violence, cranked out as rapidly as possible).
THIS was CHEESE at it's finest, including vast quantities of gratuitious gore, a heroine who is an ex-gogo dancer with a machine gun as a prosthetic for her LEG, some very slick action sequences, a 'prevue' for a machete wielding Mexican assassin on a mission of vengeance, Bruce Willis as the leader of a rogue millitary outfit, a really hot motor cycle, simulated film wear marks and scratches, more gratuitious gore, a collection of testicles, seriously bad jokes, an obsession with BBQ sauce, nasty things done with helicoper blades, and Quentin Tarantino as a would-be rapist. What Dusk Till Dawn did for (to?) vampire films, Planet Terror does for zombie films, and then some... and then some more!
It was damn good fun!
Planet Terror preview: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nBi00ZiqIv 4
Resident Evil: Extinction Trailer: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=fkaAi2yQou 0
Speaking of Resident Evil, I got to see RE: Extinction last night. For those unfamiliar with this film series, based on the popular video game of the same name, the premise is based on the escape of a highly contageous mutagenic agent, the T-Virus, from a bio-weapons research division of the shadowy Umbrella Corporation. This virus, despite desperate (and exceptionally violent) attempts to contain it, renders the planet into a barren wasteland where the last remnants of humanity battle for survival against hordes of mutagenically created 'zombies'. This film takes some of the best elements of films like Romero's Day of the Dead and post-apocalyptic classics like Mad Max and The Road Warrior and fuses them into a vivid, gritty, tension filled and action packed nightmare. The film is further enhanced by brilliant cinematography as well as good acting and a complex narrative. The creators of the film set out to generate serious innovations for this film genre and, IMHO, they've succeeded brilliantly! If you're a fan of zombie, horror, and/or post-apocalyptic films, you will thoroughly enjoy this one. Quite simply, IT ROCKS!!!
Unfortunately, the film simply lacks energy and pace and is only really watchable as a curiosity at best. In fact, I was quite zombified by the end of it. If you're looking for an entertaining zombie flick (either for chills or laughs), give this one a miss.
The creators of the film The Zombie Diaries also set out to revolutionize the genre by utilizing a cinema verite approach in telling a series of interconnected short stories about small groups of people attempting to cope with a world in which a rampant virus has transformed most of the human population into blood thirsty zombies. The cinema verite approach, like The Blaire Witch Project, assumes a documentary style in which video cameras carried by the characters record their actions and dialogue.
The Zombie Diaries Trailer: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fx3sfLhXo w
Well, about Monday, as I was literally lying around with nothing to do (damn back), I started in on it. Later that day, I was finished.
This showed me two things. First, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading and, second, my reading speed, despite doing very much heavy reading in a long time, seems to have actually increased. I attribute that to marking all that English work; if I'm getting speedier at reading through garbled, mispelled grammatical nightmares, it only stands to reason that I would blaze through well written work.
During the week, I received a few other books, as well. I voraciously devoured Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which was both highly imaginative and quite amusing and I've started into a novel I just got yesterday, Freedom Writers, which is a compilation of journals by underpriviledged American highschool pupils and the English teacher that helped to make a difference in their lives. I saw the film based on that book and decided that I MUST read the book. I was not wrong.
Sadly, experiments to try and record myself reading for my dear have gone a bit awry, as it appears that my camera, which has superior video functions to my webcam, will only record for three minutes at a stretch. Yerg! I'll have to resort to my webcam, but not tonight.
Whilst reading Freedom Writers, I noticed another thing. For kids that the school system had written off as underachievers who would likely drop out, these guys are damn articulate! Even compensating for the fact that their work was likely edited for publishing, they are very expressive and aware. And then it hit me: I'm reading the work of thirteen year olds that could vastly outwrite my most able sixteen year olds.
Okay, actually, I've seen examples of work by eight year olds that outstrips most of my senior pupils. Bloody hell, no wonder I have such difficulty trying to match the curriculum I'm supposed to be teaching them to their actual ability level; they're simply not able to do it. Seriously, how am I supposed to teach Shakespeare (required for SATS and GCSE coursework) to kids who have difficulty remembering that full sentences need to start with a capital and end with a fullstop, exclamation mark, or question mark?
I used to envy these teachers they write novels and make films about who could really inspire kids everyone else gives up on and changes their lives. I never could seem to do that, no matter my efforts. Now, though, it at least seems a little clearer why. The teacher in Freedom Writers helped them, in large part, by having them express themselves through journals. How can my kids write journals if they have problems dealing with full sentences? *sigh*
At some point, I'm gonna have to do a full entry on the many ways that society, in particular the education authorities, have really let these kids down.
For my part, the struggle will be over soon. Just a few more weeks and I'm out. THAT cannot come soon enough, all abused ideals set aside.