Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Coming Shortly To a Blogsite Near You!!!

Check press for details ( he hinted, enigmatically)

Elegy For A Dead Cinema...

They tore down the old movie theatre where I used to go on Saturday with my friends.
Not every Saturday, but a lot of them if we had the money, which we always found a way to come up with.
It started off as a single screen, but was forced to split to two in the late seventies so it could show a sufficiently-diverse program of movies to stay in business.
It was the place where I saw many of the movies of my childhood and early teens - James Bond, Superman, The Three and Four Musketeers (on consecutive weeks - how about that for a cliffhanger?), Jaws (standing room only), Star Wars.
It was the first cinema I brought a date to.
It showed The Rocky Horror Picture Show every weekend for over twenty years.
It had style.
It had character.
It closed several years ago when the owner and manager, a man named Albert Kelly who lived in the neighbourhood, fell into poor health and, in time, passed away.

And now it's nothing but a hole in the ground.

I needed to catch a bus this evening into the city and the Classic (née Kenilworth) was the nearest bus stop for my intended route. I hadn't been near the place in several years and had no idea it was gone - last time I saw it, it was just closed.

So imagine my surprise and dismay at the sight of a vacant lot 'where late the (lighthouse stood)'...

There is, fortunately, a tribute site, showing The Classic in all its glory.

I was unsuccessful in contacting the owner, but I trust he will have few problems with my drawing attention to his work in immortalising an important landmark in Dublin's cinematic history.

The Classic (née Kenilworth) Cinema (1953-2007).

Shamefaced, he returned to his keyboard...

The last two days averaged about 23-24C, with scarcely a cloud to be seen. Something about a high-pressure front over the Azores (mumble, mumble), with winds apparently freshening (mutter) from the SouthWest...
I have sunburn.

Monday, 20 August 2007

It Could Be Worse...

At least, that's what Met Eireann and RTE, the Irish Weather Service and National Broadcaster respectively, would have you believe.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that the weather here has been 'disappointing' for the time of year.

The general malaise has not been helped by the good people who bring us the weather report after the news at six and nine every evening.

It can't be that difficult - Ireland only has one type of weather:

'Sunny spells with scattered showers'.

It's so boring that they figured a bit of alliteration might spice it up a bit. Sometimes they throw in something like 'and winds freshening from the north-east' just for fun.

And it might have worked, if it hadn't been for the people who bring it to you.

There are about four different (actually there are eight, but four of them hardly ever get a look in) presenters, working on some sort of week-on, month-off rota.
  1. There's Gerald, the guy who tells you 'Ah, sure it's only a bit of oul' weather' and winks at you backwards (don't ask me to explain - you'd have to see it);
  2. Then there's John, the one who carefully explains why the showers are scattered and the spells are sunny in such a scientific way as to make you tune out within seconds;
  3. Next we have Gerry, a guy you'd expect to see in a used-car showroom who says there's more sun than showers, grins like Terry-Thomas and all but hints he's got a bit of better weather he could let you have cheap; and finally, there's
  4. Evelyn. The nun.
Okay, so she's not really a nun, but it's like she didn't get enough CAO points to get into nun school, so had to settle for meteorology instead.

She explains, carefully, as if you were six(!), that there will be sunny spells and scattered showers no matter who or where you are, but you know what she really means: depending on whether you're wet or dry, that's how much God loves you.

It's been pissing down here for forty days and forty nights and anytime she's on she makes it clear it's not her fault and aren't you lucky there isn't snow?

Today, right, today she did a piece about Hurricane Dean and how it's going to be a Category 5 by the time it reaches the Yucatan Peninsula and aren't you lucky you don't live in Jamaica?

Well, okay - she didn't actually say that, but it's the impression you get...

And what does 'winds freshening from the north-east' actually mean? That there'll be a pleasant, pine-fresh scent to the breeze? A hint of pot-pourri?

Aaaaaaggggghhhh!!!

I'm off to Neptune - they don't have weather there...

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Creative, Am I?

Avé, all...


Well, the rain has eased off, I've gotten a couple of nights' (largely uninterrupted, unless you count that Xylak thing) sleep, and discovered today that JD has seen fit to bestow me with this:



Thank you, young man.

Weekend's off to a good start, but I must work hard to justify the honour.

I'm supposed to pass this along to five other bloggers out there, but I find myself in something of a quandary - everyone I would award it to has already got one. Already.


So I'm going to hold off for the moment, and will display it only when I have five more to award.

I think that's fair.

Friday, 17 August 2007

The Meme of Four...

This just in - dee dedee dee dededeee - Captain Incredible tagged by Becca - film at eleven...

The lovely and talented Becca way over in the Skullcave has tagged me with a meme. I have to answer x questions with four answers then add a question of my own.

Simple enough, I hear you say.

But is it?

Let's see:

Q1. Four jobs I've had or currently have:

1. Stacking shelves in a neighbourhood store - taught me the value of manual labour for minimum wage;
2. Sorting different-coloured pieces of paper in a Civil Service office - mindless work, and more of the above;
3. Working a public counter for a major public service body - not a bad job, except for the math; and
4. Datacentre Manager (sounds better than it is, trust me) for the aforesaid body. Home at last.

Q2. Four countries I've been to:

1. The Netherlands - Amsterdam, City of Canals;
2. France - Paris, City of Light;
3. USA - New York, Chicago (1 hour) and San Diego;
4. Germany - Munich, City of Beer.

Q3. Four places I'd rather be:

1. Not Neptune;
2. Bali;
3. Aria Giovanni's house (I've developed something of a fondness for her - can't imagine why);
4. Where was I - oh, yes, 4. Molvania - out of morbid curiosity (Google it).

Q4. Four foods I like to eat:

1. Pepperoni pizza;
2. My very own pasta sauce;
3. Fillet of salmon in lime and ginger marinade on a bed of brown rice with sweet corn on the side and a decent Rioja or Cabernet;
4. Kalkalash.

Q4a. Four personal heroes, past or present:

1. Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP;
2. Samaritan;
3. Ferris Bueller;
4. Roddenberry.

Q4b. Four books I've just read or am currently reading:

1. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman;
2. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman;
3. Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy by Simon Louvish;
4. The Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.

Q4c. Four words or phrases I would like to see used more often:

1. Revvet!
2. Inconceivable!
3. Something something oranges something;
4. Hoopy.

And Q4d - my own addition:

What four heroes (or group) would you like to see have a movie of their own:

1. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan);
2. The Avengers;
3. Thor (excuse me, 'The Mighty Thor');
4. Wonder Woman.

Okay - that was work.

I'm going to tag only two people with this, for the simple reason that the other two I had in mind don't have a blog yet.

So it's Lee at Quit Your Day Job

and

Heidi at Layercake.net

As for the other two, watch this space...

I Would Stand In Line For This...


The Bourne Ultimatum opened here today, and I've just seen it.

And it's bloody good.

The third (and presumably final) instalment picks up the story in Moscow with Bourne on the run from the police. Shortly afterwards, he reads an article about himself and something called Operation Blackbriar in an English newspaper, and sets off for London to track down the reporter and find the name of his source.

But the CIA is after him as well, and the hunt follows Bourne through Europe, North Africa and ultimately to New York as he tries to find out who he really is and to finally stop running.

An excellent cast - Matt Damon, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Julia Stiles, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney - and non-stop (and I mean non-stop) action makes this unmissable.

Having read the books by the presumably undead Robert Ludlum (who apparently continues to publish some years after his reported demise) I was disappointed that the movies diverged so far from the originals, retaining only the character name and partial backstory.

On a historical note, there was a mini-series in 1983 that starred Richard Chamberlain as Bourne, with Jaclyn Smith as Marie, that was far more faithful. Nowhere near as exciting, though.

See it, find a way to watch all three back to back, then read the books.

James Bond needs to watch his back, I think...


Wednesday, 15 August 2007

It's Funny, Isn't It...

How you go into a bookshop, but you never see sections for 'Unpopular Science', 'Impractical Psychology' or 'Unnatural History'...

Why's that, then?

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part Three:


Mickey Rourke as Marv.



Actually, he looks the way I feel right now...

Picture me, in the rain, in my bedroom, staring dumbly at the leaking ceiling under the leaking apartment block roof that the @%$!# building owner's having to be threatened with court before he'll fix it in the middle of the worst godsdamn summer this city's had in nearly twenty years. Sense the cynicism?

I need a vacation.

Very, very badly.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

There's Two Kinds of People In This World...

Those who like Country music, and those who don't.

I don't, and when I'm king, there'll be some decrees in this regard.

Country music is, as all Buffy fans know, the music of pain. Nothing good ever happens in a country song, with the obvious exception of 'Goodbye Earl' by The Dixie Chicks (sigh...).

A good friend and colleague of mine, when asked what sort of music he liked, replied "Both kinds - Country and Western". Now, notwithstanding the obvious reference to The Blues Brothers, I was forced to question him.

We discussed the genre in general, and Tony explained that country music is about life - real life happening to real people.

Why anyone would want to sing about divorce, cheatin', being drunk, murder and Christmas is beyond me - I'd hate to live in a world like that...

Okay, so it's not (sorry, it ain't) all doom and gloom, except of course for Earl (see above), but in my experience, the exceptions are few.

The Dixie Chicks (sigh...) - actually, that's their name on this side of the Atlantic - manage to turn it on its head every time, with happy songs like 'Sin Wagon' and wistful songs like 'Without You'.

'Hello, Mr. Heartache' is, I'm told, the ultimate ballad, but, not being a music scholar, who am I to argue, while 'Not Ready To Make Nice' is their considered rebuttal to critics.

But I must admit I'd scarcely heard of the Dixie Chicks before Natalie Maines's famous (or indeed infamous) remark in London, so it was curiosity more than anything else that made me listen to their music.

And now that it seems they're turning to Rock, it means I don't need a reason to listen to country any more...

Except for Johnny Cash.

And Alison Krauss...

Damn.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Favourite Movies

I've been reading blogs now for, oh, must be several months now, and many bloggists devote a section of their site to their favourite movies.

The most extensive of these I've seen so far has been by SamuraiFrog who, over the space of several weeks, posted his top 500 (!) films of all time.

For myself, I'm going to do it a bit differently.

I can't put together a ranked list that forces a decision as to whether The Searchers or Citizen Kane is a better film, but I can produce lists of what I consider to be my favourites in a variety of categories.

It may be a Top 10, but will sometimes be more or less.

It may be by genre or other common link.

Films may appear on more than one list as I see fit.

Certain acknowledged classics may not appear - the works of Jean-Luc Godard, for example - but that's just an expression of personal taste. You may agree or not, and I'll welcome all opinions.

So to kick off, here's my list of favourite -

Richard Donner Films.

Richard Donner's career as a mainstream movie and television director spans five decades. From directing episodes of some of TV's classic shows such as Get Smart, The Man From UNCLE, The Twilight Zone and (gods help us) Gilligan's Island, among others, perhaps his first important feature was The Omen (1976) which starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick.

He followed this up with Superman (1978), the film for which he is perhaps best known, and the one which launched a trend of treating superheroes seriously, dropping the campiness of earlier productions. Friction with the movie's producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind, led to Donner's replacement on Superman II by Richard Lester. Donner had, however, filmed a majority of the footage ultimately seen in the sequel prior to his removal, and in 2006, released his own cut of the movie. In my opinion, it's superior to Lester's version.

Donner has had a long association with Mel Gibson, who has starred in six of his films, the Lethal Weapon series (1987-98), Maverick (1994), and Conspiracy Theory (1997), and their movies together have been action-filled adventures that stand up to repeated viewing.

My favourites, from least to most, are:

14. Assassins (1995) - Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore

13. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Jet Li


12. The Goonies (1985) - Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman


11. The Omen (1976) - Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw


10. Scrooged (1988) - Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, Carol Kane


09. Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Stuart Wilson


08. Maverick (1994) - Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, James Coburn


07. Ladyhawke (1985) - Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick


06. Conspiracy Theory (1997) - Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart


05. Lethal Weapon (1987) - Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Mitchell Ryan, Gary Busey


04. 16 Blocks (2006) - Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse


03. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joss Ackland, Derrick O'Connor


02. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006) - Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder


01. Superman (1978) - Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder


That being said, I consider this a 'gunpoint list' inasmuch as I will happily watch any movie that Richard Donner has directed.

His pictures have the feel about them that everyone involved worked very hard but had a lot of fun, and this translates into the various performances. Granted, the darker stuff such as The Omen, Conspiracy Theory and 16 Blocks are exceptions, but as far as the rest are concerned, I'd love to have been there.


The Omen truly frightens me, while the scene in The Goonies where Chunk confesses to everything he's ever done doubles me over in laughter.

The last quarter of Scrooged, where Frank has his epiphany and shares it, gets me every time - every godsdamn time.


After watching Lethal Weapon 2, I sometimes find myself checking to see if I'm standing on plastic.


And Superman made me believe a man could fly.


I still do.


Sunday, 5 August 2007

Actors I thought were dead but (apparently) aren't: Harry Morgan


I was working my way through the web recently, looking for Gods-know-what, when I came upon a page listing actors 'you thought were dead' but who apparently aren't.

One of these was Harry Morgan.

And I thought, cool.

Harry Morgan is probably best known to TV audiences as Col. Sherman Potter in M*A*S*H, replacing McLean Stevenson as commanding officer of the 4077th. To older viewers, Morgan will be remembered as Officer Bill Gannon, Joe Friday's partner in 'Dragnet', a role he reprised in the Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks movie of the same name in 1987.

In between times, Morgan played character roles in movies stretching back to the forties such as The Ox-Bow Incident, State Fair and The Big Clock, and in later years could usually be found playing figures such as town mayors, sheriffs and the like, in both comic and straight roles.

But for me, Harry Morgan's best role was as Col. Potter.

A decorated officer who had served in both World Wars and Korea, a family man, a dedicated surgeon and a man who not so much commanded respect but achieved it by action and example, Sherman Tecumseh Potter of Hannibal, Missouri was a noble character.

Beset on all sides by the North Koreans, Klinger's wardrobe, the antics of his surgical staff and 'military intelligence', Potter somehow managed to rise above it and hold everything together.

There's a scene in the final episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye and BJ, in their farewell to the Colonel, announce they have something for him.

"It's not much," says Hawkeye, "but it's from the heart."

At this point the two doctors come to attention and salute.

Gets me every time.

Born in 1915, Harry Morgan is now 92, and presumably retired.

I wish him well.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Unaccustomed as I am...

Imagine my surprise this morning when I returned from system patrol (read, dragged my ass out of bed) and logged in to find my fledgling blog has been nominated by the wonderful Becca over at No Smoking in the Skull Cave for a Thinking Blogger Award.

I accept this award with honour and humility, and must now, I believe, continue by nominating 5 other blogs that make me think.

As with all things in life there are rules, in this case, three:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the Thinking Blogger Award on your site with a link to the post that you wrote.

So here we go - as Becca mentioned, I've only been at this a short time, so my blogroll needs time to grow, but hey, gotta start somewhere...

1 - Chris at Exquisitely Bored In Nacogdoches: Taste in music and movies, intercut with photography of small-town America - anyone who likes the music of Dave Brubeck and the movies of Frank Sinatra is a man of my stripe and no mistake.

2 - J.D. at Joe's Movie Corner: This site makes me think so much my head hurts - but in a good way. Makes me realise how much thinking I've not been doing lately...

3 - Rachelle at Living Between Wednesdays: The European translation would probably be Living Between Thursdays, but it works for me. It's always good to see reviews of some of the comicbooks I read by people actually involved in the retail side, and Rachelle's take on some of the more bizarre Batman/Superman stories of yesteryear is good for a laugh.

4 - Mick at Doc40: Mick Farren is an author, musician and counterculture commentator who's been writing for some time. Go there. Read.

and finally,

5 - I'm intent on introducing new pages, so Brent at I Am A Child Of Television - congratulations! Brent is a Canadian, which can't be bad, and knows all the words to three national anthems. What more need be said?

However, humile as I am, I cannot but recognise Becca's act in nominating me for this award.

I had planned to award her a TBP by return but figured that this might cause some sort of existential loop which, let's face it, would be bad.

So instead I award Becca 50 points and a Silver No-Prize (really prestigious on Neptune, believe me) and trust that all will acknowledge her wisdom and greatness.

As for the award, here it is:



We now return you to your regularly-scheduled, er, schedule...