Sunday, 25 August 2013

World's Finest...

It was announced this week that none other than Ben Affleck has been chosen to portray Bruce Wayne / Batman in the sequel to this year's Man of Steel.

Now, I don't know about you Fred, but I have to say I like it.

I've always had a regard for Affleck as both actor and director - I thought Argo was excellent, enjoyed his turn as the tortured angel Bartleby in Dogma, and Daredevil really wasn't as bad as people say. I think he'll do okay in the Batcave, but it will be interesting to see how he gets on in his encounter with the Man of Steel.

As to the story, the first meeting of Superman and Batman has always been a confrontation, and for good reason - a man with the power to change the course of mighty rivers and leap tall buildings at a single bound is obviously a potential threat to the world, and after leveling Metropolis in the battle against Zod, Batman will no doubt be looking carefully for weaknesses that he can exploit against Kal-El should it become necessary, if his power should somehow be subverted or he has, as so many of us do, a bad Monday.

And as the tale has been told, the two heroes will come to blows before joining forces against a common enemy and ultimately becoming friends.

This is Warner's chance to do it right; I enjoyed Man of Steel but there was something missing: emotion. Michael Shannon chewed the scenery as Zod, but the other actors were (and I'm going to have to watch it again to be certain) well, reserved is the best word I can think of.

I can understand why Henry Cavill played the role as he did; here's a young man who grew up with strange abilities, who used them for the good of others, and then discovered that he wasn't from Earth. Imagine your parents telling you you're adopted - now imagine them saying you've been adopted by a planet and showing you the ship that brought you here. The sense of displacement must be, well, incredible. So Clark leaves home and walks the Earth, trying to find out more about himself and his powers, helping people where he can before slipping away silently.

Much later, following the defeat of Zod, Clark works to help the people of Metropolis as Superman, a very visible symbol of hope in the city, perhaps reducing former leading citizen Lex Luthor (who we haven't met yet but know he's in the wings, waiting for his cue) to second spot, something he's both unused to and doesn't like.

I see Bruce Wayne going to Metropolis following the Zod incident and using Wayne Industries resources to help rebuild the stricken city. While there, he meets Lex Luthor, perhaps at a business meeting or reception, who expresses his utter distrust of the being known as Superman. Wayne is forced to agree, albeit not for the same reasons as Luthor, whose problem is not that Superman's power is dangerous, but that he seems intent on using it to help people rather than to rule them.

A subsequent plot by Luthor to discredit Superman is initially successful, but ultimately exposed jointly by Superman and Batman, and a friendship is forged. Somewhere in the middle of that, Lois needs rescuing (naturally) but it's Batman who does it. We may see Brainiac.
A good benchmark for the 'World's Finest' teamup was laid down by Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly in the WB animated series and movies - it'll be interesting to see whether the Affleck-Cavill dynamic comes any way close to that.

2015 seems a long way off...

Friday, 19 July 2013

And I Would Have Gotten Away With It...

...If it hadn't been for that meddling Hubble Telescope...

Yep, looks like the secret base has been discovered at last; maybe the cloaking field broke down or something in my absence.

But as far as Earth's concerned, Neptune has a 14th moon, with the somewhat unimaginative designation "S/2004 N 1".

Here it is:

(pic from Wikipedia)

In keeping with tradition, the moon will be given a name from Greek or Roman mythology, one that is in some way related to Neptune/Poseidon, god of the Sea.

Personally, I lean towards the name 'Nemesis' as being nicely appropriate, given that I used the place as a base of operations from which to pursue evildoers in my erstwhile role as a member of the Neptunian Space Patrol (it needs a bit of fixing up, but it's still serviceable, and has good parking).

One of the Oceanids (nice people, good with kids), Nemesis, in Greek mythology was the goddess of divine retribution and implacable justice, albeit with very much her own ideas on punishment fitting the crime.

In today's society, she would probably be a Republican.

In any event, "S/2004 N 1" is now on the map, so if you're in the neighbourhood, drop in and have a look around. The door's unlocked; just don't touch the thing that looks like a giant (transmission failure) - if you wake it up it'll eat you.


Monday, 1 July 2013

A Guy Goes To The Doctor...

The doctor tells him,

"Ooh - that's gonna leave a hell of a scar, haha..."

Nope, didn't sound funny to me either.

But that was very much the tone back in May, when I went to have a rash-like patch of skin on my left shoulder examined by a Dermatologist in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.

I'd had the thing for a while, and thought it nothing more or less than an irritation caused by carrying a backpack over that shoulder, but it wasn't going away and the E45 wasn't helping, so it was off to see the wizard, and my GP sent me for a consultation.

While he was of the opinion it was a basal cell cancer formation, he wanted to be certain, so that was good enough for me.

On the day of the exam I was ushered into a small room by a young doctor who introduced herself as Karen. She took some details and then handed me a paper gown and said I could undress behind the screen.

"What, everything?" I asked, alarmed.

Karen explained that she had to do a surface check for any other signs of the condition. Happily, I was allowed to retain my boxers and a shred of dignity, but you didn't need to know that.

Satisfied there was nothing else of concern, I was allowed put some of my clothes back on while she reported to her department head, who confirmed what my GP had suspected and dropped the opening quote.

Having explained what would be happening (the word 'excision' featuring prominently in the description), I was given an appointment to return on Thursday, June 27th, which I did.


I'd never had a day procedure like this before, but I was surprisingly untroubled by the whole thing - after all, it was just going to be something more or less cosmetic, right?

Accompanied by my Dad, I sat and listened as a doctor explained the procedure and made certain I understood exactly what was going to take place before having me sign a consent form. I must confess to not having read it, since I was becoming more apprehensive the more I learned, but simply signed on the line as directed, before following a nurse to theatre.

I had a short wait in an anteroom while the theatre was prepared, then was ushered in and invited to sit on the table, then recline on my right side. The only person I recognised was Karen, but the doctor who had confirmed her diagnosis was also there, gloved and masked, so I can be forgiven on that count. Two nurses and the consultant who would be performing the procedure were also in attendance, and the whole thing seemed very informal.

Some music played softly in the background, and we got underway with the administration of local anaesthetic.

As we waited for it to take effect, the surgeon asked,

"Have you ever seen the show, "Breaking Bad"?

I never thought I'd laugh on an operating table, but I did then.

He raised an eyebrow. "What's up?"

"You're Number Eight," I told him, then explained, "the eighth unrelated person to ask me that and then tell me that I look like Hank."

He laughed, then explained to the theatre staff what the show was and who the characters were. I confessed that I had yet to see any of the show, but that maybe now that it was on Netflix and I'd have some time on my hands I could catch up with it.

In the meantime, someone pulled up a picture of the character on the OR's PC, and everyone went "Ahh..."

By now, though, the anaesthetic had kicked in, and it was down to business.

I didn't feel a thing.

The surgeon (I never did get his name) kept conversation going, I think as much for my benefit as anything else. I thought it strange that, mid-way during the procedure, one of the nurses asked me to confirm my name address and date of birth, but I found that this was to make sure I wasn't having a reaction to the anaesthetic.

While I couldn't see what was happening (and didn't really want to) I was nonetheless curious; like when you go to the dentist to have a cavity filled and you can't help but probe the tooth after he's drilled it out, but I couldn't do that.

I was able to hear, rather than feel, what was happening - scissors snipping, forceps forcepping (you tell me what the proper adjective is), swabs swabbing (avast!). And at one point I was warned that

"You might hear a crackling sound and smell smoke - that'll be you." Ha ha ha...

But in no more than 35 minutes, the job was done and I was sewn up, cleaned up and sat up on the table. A bit stiff, but still anaesthetised - the pain wouldn't begin for a couple of hours, so I was told to get some paracetamol and have them ready.

I was ushered to a wheelchair, my shoulders draped with a blanket, and wheeled back into the waiting area where my dad sat, reading a book I'd given him earlier. After my nurse had left, he came in to the cubicle where I was dressing and we discussed my instructions for the care and feeding of my wound.
  • Dressing to be changed every 2-3 days;
  • Stitches to come out in 2 weeks;
  • No heavy lifting or stretching for up to six weeks; and last but not least,
  • No golf for 6 months.
 Wasn't happy about the golf, but what can you do?

I need to see my GP again to discuss details and get a medical cert for my employer, but outside of that I won't be moving much for the next week or so.

So I guess for the moment it's Netflix and Breaking Bad for me...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

And The Angels Sing...


Oh, Canada...

So, as well-travelled as I am, in an interplanetary sense, it's only occasionally that I get to visit the more accessible parts of this great planet of ours.

In my more recent role, it's been trips to Clark's place in the Arctic, mystical cities in the Himalayas (there's dozens of them, all apparently 'lost' - but try finding Nanda Parbat on Google Earth...) or the most remote parts of the larger deserts. However, aside from the inevitable secret lair there's usually little to see from a tourist perspective, although there was that one time when Helena and I were hunting Count Vertigo, wound up without transport (not my fault, honest) in the middle of the Lost Jungle of Doom (again, a Google Earth 'Fail') and discovered a ruined temple where we found - but I'm not supposed to mention that...

Anyhow, now that I'm on, ah, sabbatical, as it were, I've decided to do a bit of traveling, and this time I'm going to see a bit of Canada.

Beginning with five days in Toronto, during which time I'll also attend my first live baseball game in Rogers Centre, I plan to take some tours and see as much of the city as possible before traveling on to the fair city of Vancouver, BC - by rail.

There's a trans-continental train service run by Canadian national rail company VIA Rail, that goes between the two cities in just three and a half days.

The train, a refurbished 1950s-era model known as 'The Canadian', makes the almost-4400km trip between Toronto and Vancouver twice a week and takes three-and-a-half days to do it. There are no less than 63 stops along the route, of which the longest is 4 hours in Winnipeg.

Here's Via Rail's video:


 Not having been aboard, I can't comment, but I've got to admit I'm very excited about this...

More news as it, er, transpires...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

And I Don't Feel A Day Over...

Today is my birthday, and at the risk of revealing something important to any of the three-letter agencies who may be reading this, I'm cough-fifty-cough

The sunshine we've enjoyed here for the past week switched off this morning, and it is now p***ing down outside.

I searched for an internet radio station this morning but it no longer exists, so I clicked an old bookmark in my browser that opened a site called RipRock Radio.* Tuning into their playlist, the first track to play was

"As Long As I Can See The Light" by John Fogerty, followed by Boston, with "Don't Look Back".

"Changes", by David Bowie and "Better Days" by Bruce Springsteen are up shortly.

Someone's trying to tell me something...

*Where the spirit of early FM rock radio lives on...

Monday, 6 May 2013

Musical Interlude...

This is Melody Gardot:

One of the most amazing voices I've encountered in my travels, I believe she has already performed in my hometown, possibly during one of my absences from it.

Don't make the mistake I did - if she's playing in a venue near you, go - if your taste in music is anything like mine you won't be disappointed...


Bank Holidays...

There is nothing more satisfying, to my mind, than being able to switch off the alarm clock, roll over in bed and go back to sleep for an hour or two.

On a Monday.

Of course, this is possible on five occasions during the year; on Easter Monday, the first Mondays of May, June and August, and the last Monday in October.

I don't know how or why they came about, but I'm grateful for them.

Especially today, since I appear to be suffering a litle from sunburn and the manic energy of two-and-a-half-year-old twins, one of whom ran me ragged yesterday in St Stephen's Green.

My nephew Reuben (nicknamed "Cannonball" by his grandfather due to his small, stout build and propensity to run at one and wrap his arms around one's knees) had great fun running around the vast open space that comprises the park, and being chased, flown and generally indulged in a way that I only remember from my own childhood.

After the park, we wandered down Grafton Street where, outside what used to be HMV, we watched a band called Keywest perform to a decent-sized crowd.

Cannonball was delighted and danced to the music - I expect to see him on Youtube shortly...

I imagine he will have slept quite soundly last night; I know I did...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Iron Man 3 - Don't Stop Now...

From the post title, the astute reader will guess that I have been to see Iron Man 3.

It is no exaggeration to say that the reviews are spot-on - pretty much everything you may have heard about the movie or seen in trailers says you won't be disappointed, so in the case of someone like me, who enjoys the occasional Owen Wilson film, one would think I was easily pleased (not so: Shanghai Knights should never have been made).

Iron Man 3 sees Tony Stark in crisis - subject to anxiety attacks and insomnia following the events in New York, he throws himself into redesign after redesign of the armour before finally arriving at Prototype 42. Then, when a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin launches attacks on US interests, broadcasting his intent (like the old Batman villains used to do) by hijacking TV network frequencies, Stark challenges him, more or less, to a showdown...

Having seen the other instalments, plus (obviously) Joss Whedon's Avengers Assemble, I was wondering how Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) would treat the characters. I wasn't disappointed, and Mr. Black's approach seems to have been well-informed by the previous episodes.

Ben Kingsley, never slow to play a villain, does a chilling turn here as one of Iron Man's greatest nemeses, stealing pretty much every scene in which he appears. The bit where he (oops, almost a spoiler there) drew an amazing reaction from the audience.

All in all, Iron Man 3 was well worth the wait - I hope RDJ doesn't decide to hang up the repulsors just yet; he's got a few more thousand miles in the suit and I know I'd like to see another adventure, whether as a standalone or as part of an Avengers story.

In the meantime, I have to go and see it again.

In case something happens after the credits...

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Yep, I'm still here - who'd have imagined?

Oh - hi, Fred...

Anyhow, it seems I'm susp- er, 'on leave' for a while owing to some misunderstanding about whether diplomatic immunity applies in cases of parking offenses committed while "picking up the kids from school".

The school in this case is an elementary military tactical training facility for clones on Triton - the double-yellow line is a no-parking zone 20000 kilometers from the surface. The 'kids' are, on average, genetically enhanced cyborgs with the simulated memories and life experiences of the average 25-year-old trooper, bound for service with the Kaplan of Arcturus Nine. Forty thousand of them.

So I naturally took it amiss when the Kaplanite showed up with a fleet of warships and parked them in close orbit, ostensibly to transport the student body home for tea. Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, the Patrols Magistrate took a different view and awarded me a 30-day* suspension, so I'm free to pursue other interests for the time being.

Anyhow, I felt a little redecorating was in order, so here you go. I've also updated the links bar, so you've somewhere new to open tabs to.

Have a wander around - I'll be back in a bit with more stuff.

Whether you find it of interest is, of course, up to you :-)

And on we go...

*Neptunian days - I'm free! Free!


(Note: I had planned on posting this last year, but somehow couldn't bring myself to click on "Publish"). My dad passed in...