Archive for the Other Category

No Guard of Dishonour at the Emirates please

Posted in Other on April 27, 2013 by innothingwetrust

Arsenal fans’ ire tomorrow should not be aimed at Robin van Persie. I really can’t quite see why so many hate him so much. Ok, the “little boy inside” speech was stupid and he should have known that a move to United would piss of all his former admirers, but still. This is professional football. You are naïve if you think loyalty is still widespread.

He spent 8 years at Arsenal – longer than most players spend at one club. During those 8 years, he won a solitary FA cup in his first season and then watched all our best players leave one by one, replaced by poor man’s versions of their predecessors. He saw what the fans saw – a ship sinking itself. One season at United and he wins them the title. This is what RvP can do with a better squad around him. He was fed up like us, and he was right. We should thank him for his services (he more than earned us Champions League football last season), his wonderful goals and for helping to illustrate further the shortcomings of the board’s financial prudence.

United have deserved the title this season and we should honour the tradition of congratulating them, an honour they have afforded us in the past. If I could afford a disgustingly expensive ticket to tomorrow’s game, I would applaud them onto the field. The fans’ contempt should be directed at their own club and the way it is run, questioning not why RvP chose to go to United but why the club agreed to sell our best asset to a team they laughably still pretend they are ‘competing with’. Oh yes, it was for ‘footballing reasons’… Perhaps they should ask once again for some truly world class signings and for the powers that be to spend some of that cash they are so proud to laud around at our ‘poorly run’ and highly successful rivals.

On the other hand, it’s always nice to see united get booed.

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Different place, different time

Posted in Other, Philosophy with tags , on April 18, 2013 by innothingwetrust

Fork in the Road

3 easy ways to change the future

I wanted to write a note about a very simple concept which just blows my mind. I guess it’s an extension of the idea of ‘cause and effect’ and it says that every single action and decision you make changes the future. It could be called ‘Sliding Doors Syndrome’ after the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film. What blows my mind is where the initial thought leads you – down a tricky philosophical path of causality, fatalism, determinism and, ultimately, questioning our own free will.

Here are 3 everyday things that you can do which will alter the future – the future which would have happened had you not acted in the way you did.

1. Take a different route home

If you drive, this thought may have occurred to you already. Or not if you’re not weird like me. I drive to work every day and there are a number of routes I could take to get there and back. There is one particular fork in the road at which I could go left or straight on, and it was waiting for the lights to change at that junction that I thought one evening, ‘If today I just went straight on here instead of left, how would it change my life?’ And in a flash I imagined how my life could turn out differently beginning with this first very small and seemingly insignificant change.

If I went straight on, I would see different things on the way home – different cars, different shops, different fields. I would follow different drivers – perhaps much faster or slower than those who took the left fork in the road. I would almost certainly arrive home at a different time. My girlfriend might be in the bathroom instead of the living room at the time that I open the front door meaning that I feed the cats instead of her. Perhaps I cut my hand on the tin whilst doing this and require a plaster. Maybe this plaster is the last one in the box which reminds us to add it to our shopping list. Maybe this addition makes us go shopping that night when we might otherwise have put it off until tomorrow. Whilst in the medical aisle looking for plasters, we bump into an old friend and spend 5 minutes catching up. The friend hears I am looking for a new job and says there is an opening at their place that I’d be perfect for. I go for the interview and get the job, my life changed forever.

Cut back to me sitting in my car at that junction, mind blown.

Now, you might say that it wasn’t the fact that I altered my vehicular course that my life took a different turn, but that I am a clumsy sod who cut their hand on a tin of cat food. Correct, but I will always be clumsy whether I took the left turn or went straight on. The point is that I was being clumsy in a different place at a different time. Look at it the other way round: think about a time when an opportunity has presented itself to you – would it have happened if you hadn’t been in that place at that time? Perhaps so, but perhaps not. And would you have been in that place if you had taken a different route home one day in the past? I’d wager no. Even leaving the house 10 seconds earlier or later would have changed how long it took to get to the supermarket, changed what and who we saw on the way and – critically – changed the point at which we went down the medical aisle.

And after all of this, think about every other driver on the road on the way home whose journeys you altered in some small way by being on that road instead of your usual one (or by not being on your usual road). Then apply all of the above to all of them.

2. Shuffle a deck of cards

I recently received a deck of cards at work. It was one of those gifts from a business affiliate which is branded and has different promotional information about the company on each card. I have taken to shuffling this deck of cards while I am speaking on the phone to people just as a pass-time (plus my ‘riffle’ technique requires a bit of work). It occurred to me that every single time I do so, I am changing my life or the lives of others.

At some point I will probably take this deck of cards home. Despite their annoying corporate messages, they are actually quite nice cards. Plus all my old ones are tattered and smell of all the booze that has ever been spilt on them. Given that every single card game depends in some small or large capacity on ‘the luck of the draw’, every shuffle of the deck I make now re-arranges this order not just for the next game to be played with them, but for every single game ever to be played with them. Imagine that. Go and shuffle a deck of cards with the knowledge that you are invariably altering the course of every pinochle, patience and poker party you will ever host (the first two are admittedly less likely than the third, but I needed them for alliteration). If there is money riding on each poker night then obviously the stakes are raised again.

And it’s not just playing cards. I have seen ‘healthy recipe cards’ that you can buy (52 cards in a deck, 52 weeks in a year = 1 recipe per week, clever really). Imagine you use these at home as part of a new year resolution to eat better food. You shuffle them on January 1st – but how many times? Each time you do will completely change how your year – and thus your life – turns out. Depending on the order, you will eat differently each week. You may have a conversation about chicken or lentils or asparagus or trout with a colleague or acquaintance if you had eaten that food that week. You may begin to bond with this person where you might not had you not conducted that initial conversation about the consistency of mashed potato and you may end up with a new friend – as well as their extended circle of friends. You may end up going to social events and places you’ve not been before. Maybe you’ll even meet the love of your life and parent to your future children and be kissing them at midnight on December 31st instead of grappling with the dilemma of ‘Hootenanny or Fireworks?’. All because you ate thrice cooked chips instead of the seafood risotto in week 12. You might also take the cards back to the shop and ask why ‘thrice cooked chips’ are included in a set of healthy eating recipes. Just another way your life could change.

3. Wait to throw the ball

This is one for the sports fans out there and specifically football fans (that’s ‘soccer’ to my American friends) although this could apply to a number of sports. It doesn’t matter much what level of sport you are watching, but for ease of explanation, let’s say it’s the Premier League.

You are watching Stoke vs. Wigan. In today’s climate, that’s a relegation 6-pointer (and for those not au-fait with footy terminology, that means it’s a very important game for both teams as each of them are in danger of relegation and need to win as well as needing their direct rivals to lose). Ryan Shawcross has already splintered Aruna Kone’s pelvis whilst clumsily roundhouse-kicking a bouncing ball clear and Tony Pulis’ incandescent rage at the resulting yellow card results in him telling his thuggish players to ‘snap the ref’. It’s a classic at the Britannia, and it’s 0-0. In the 89th minute, the ball is kicked out of play by Robert Huth (he was aiming for Franco Di Santo’s head but missed). The ball loops into the crowd and into your arms. You should take a second at this point to appreciate the power you hold in your hands.

While Maynor Figueroa is waiting for you to throw the ball to him, the players are getting into position on the pitch. If you throw the ball immediately back to him, he doesn’t see anything on, plays a safe ball back to defence and the two sides attritionally see out a 0-0 draw. Wigan end up relegated with Stoke staying up.

However, you don’t do that. You decide to wait 3 seconds before returning the ball. In those 3 seconds, Charlie Adam trips over his undone bootlaces and Wigan’s Ryo Miyaichi sees an opening. The ball is thrown to the on-running Arsenal loanee who dodges two leg-break attempts, a clothes line and numerous low-value coins thrown by the baying home crowd to slam the ball past Asmir Begovic. Wigan win 1-0 and stay up. The crushing defeat deflates Stoke and they end up being relegated to the Championship.

Fights break out in a few pubs and some fans get hospitalised. Pulis loses his job and never works in football again. Tabloid hacks will write different stories and match reports. The following season, the Stoke City fans  travel to Coventry, Watford and Leicester fortnightly instead of Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. In addition, fans of the other 23 clubs in the Championship will be traveling to Stoke every other week instead of Wigan. All of this greatly affects the roads and trains on match days and consequently everyone else sharing them, applying ‘different road theory’ from the first example.

When you have that ball in your hands, you potentially hold the futures of millions of people. So like I said, take a second to appreciate that. Or 3.

Obviously we have no real control over the future. We can ‘alter’ it, but given that we have no idea whatsoever whether it will have a good or devastating effect, we are still slaves to the unknown. The ‘power’ we hold is like that of being entrusted to a panel of unmarked buttons, half of which send food, water and medication to a thousand starving children and the other half launch a nuclear missile to land on a different kitten sanctuary. Which buttons should you press? Well, you don’t know. You don’t have the power to know. But you do have the power to kick fate in one direction or the other, and it is a blind power that we have and exercise every single day with every single thing we do.

And even if you don’t subscribe to any of the above, my mere contemplation of these scenarios has compelled me to write this piece which you are now kindly taking the time to read. What would you be doing right now if I hadn’t done that?

My Experimental Marathon

Posted in Other with tags , , on March 7, 2013 by innothingwetrust

This Saturday, the 9th March 2013, I will run a marathon.

Not for charity, not for sport or competition, not even for fun (because I’m sure it won’t be). I am doing this out of sheer curiosity, a kind of experiment. I have always wondered how I would fare in a marathon with literally no training or preparation. Like many armchair fans, I often sit watching sport on the TV and think ‘pfft, I could do that’. How many times have you been watching football and, upon seeing a horrible miss, shouted “My nan could have put that away, and she’s dead!”? Ever been watching some obscure Olympic sport and thought you could do better? I, for one, have seen marathons before and thought, ‘It’s just running. It just happens to be a really, really long way. If Eddie Izzard can run 43 of them in 51 days, I can do one once”. Well now is the time to put my money where my arrogance is.

To make it slightly easier for myself, I have chosen a route which I know well. This will allow me to break up the journey mentally between landmarks and also stop me getting lost… I will be running (and jogging and walking and crawling and panting in a heap) from my house in Leighton Buzzard to a point in Winslow and back again. This, according to Google Maps, is exactly 26 miles. For all my friends in Winslow, I am afraid I will not be able to stop and say hi as this is a race against time and a test of my endurance!

I will be documenting my progress throughout the day for anyone who is interested in watching me gradually go insane and probably break my legs. I will be posting pictures, time updates and my general thoughts and feelings as I progress, so it should be interesting!

For anyone genuinely concerned that I’m going to hurt myself, I’ll be fine. I know that people train for years to prepare for marathons, I know that some of those same people suffer serious injuries during marathons and I have never heard anyone ever say that doing one was in any way easy or pleasant. Whilst I will be pushing myself to do this as quickly as I can, I also know my limits. I have literally all day as well to complete this – I am not aiming for a time of 3 hours. In fact my aim is to do it in under 10 hours, but if not, no great bother. Like I said, this is an experiment – there is no win or lose, just a factual outcome.

I will be carrying plenty of water and energy-boosting foods too (but trying to keep weight down). Any other tips people can give me are welcome!

Just checked the weather forecast. It’s going to rain.

I’m still doing it.

In Other News

Posted in Advertising & Television, Other with tags , , , , on October 24, 2012 by innothingwetrust

Tears for beers as 007 cuts Bonds with tradition

This week, Daniel Craig defended the decision to change 007’s drink of choice to the humble Heineken for upcoming Bond installment, ‘Skyfall’.

“Product placement has existed in films for 50 years. These movies cost a lot of money and we wouldn’t be able to keep making them if it wasn’t for things like this”, the actor explained, entirely free from the threat of contractually binding non-disclosure agreements.

James Bond enthusiasts have been incensed by the decision which they feel shows that product placement has gone too far, now invading not just the film itself but elements integral to the character of the British secret agent. One fan was even heard to remark, “James Bond drinking Heineken? I can’t believe it”.

Daniel Craig also disclosed new snippets of information regarding the two further Bond installments he is signed up for.

“The first one will be called ‘The Real Thing’. Faced with the moral quandary surrounding the nature of his job, James becomes an alcoholic”. Obviously no brands in particular are implemented in his irresponsible behavior. “He gets demoted by M after a string of errors and loses his ‘007’ status, ending up as Agent 118-118. MI5 expand their operation and now hire more than 26 office-based staff at any one time. As such, they have to increase their list of code names, and Bond is introduced to Accounts Clerk BT who, over a series of cheap, long distance phone calls communicates effectively to him the merits of Teetotalism. Now drinking exclusively Coca-Cola – Heineken aren’t made of money – Bond re-discovers his flair, but is double-crossed by M at the expense of his job…”

Craig continued, “I’ve only just seen the script for the second film, but the working title seems to be ‘Insert sponsor name here’. In it, we see James working as a G4S Security man following his dismissal by the British government. After their monumental Olympics balls-up, those guys will pay a LOT to re-build their image. That’s basically the whole film actually at the moment”.

In other news, the makers of Popeye have announced that all of the Sailor Man’s cartoons will be retrospectively edited to replace his old trusty cans of spinach with Green Giant Sweetcorn. The sound of the burly scallywag’s signature “Ah ga ga ga ga” laugh will also be replaced by a hearty “Ho ho ho” as part of the same agreement. Rich Bastard, President of ‘Seaman Productions’ who make the cartoon retorted, “Integrity? I’m so loaded I’m shitting cash. Do I look like I care about integrity?”

‘Skyfall’ hits UK cinema screens this Friday.

Look-a-like Corner

Posted in Advertising & Television, Other with tags , , , on October 19, 2012 by innothingwetrust

Film Review: Prometheus (2012)

Posted in Other with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by innothingwetrust

SPOILERS. SPOILERS. OILERS. SOILERS. COILERS. BOILERS. SPOILERS.

I like a movie that makes you think. Exposition should always take place half in the viewer’s head – it should never just be totally explicit. However, if that were my only rule regarding the subject then Prometheus would be a veritable wet dream.  However, it is not. At least not yet. Let me explain.

If, like me, you go and see Prometheus without really having read up about it first and are attracted mainly by the awesome trailers, eye-popping CGI and the fact that Ridley Scott is returning to the world of Alien (maybe – he remains defiant about the links, but surely it is the same Universe??), you will undoubtedly leave the cinema with a list of questions the length of a Bible and this expression on your face:

Here are just some of the things which left my head a little scratched as I made my way home in the car:

Why does the Engineer kill itself at the beginning?
What was the big spaceship in the sky?
What was the significance of the DNA breakdown?
Why did Weyland lie about being dead?
Why can we see pixellated re-creations of past events aboard the Engineers’ spaceship?
Why are these only triggered when a button combination is pressed?
How does this pixel technology work?
Why do the pods ‘sweat’?
What is the black goo?
Why do the murals on the ceiling change?
Why does David steal one of the pods?
What are the things inside the pod?
Why does David infect Charlie?
Why does this infection have the effect that it does on him?
How does Elizabeth get pregnant when she can’t have children?
Why is her impregnation a squid-like tentacled being?
Why did all the Engineers die?
Why did one of them put itself in stasis?
Why didn’t they go to Earth before if there is nothing wrong with their ship?
Why do they want to destroy life on Earth?
DO they want to destroy life on Earth?
Why does the one living Engineer try to kill the humans (and David)?
Why does Elizabeth’s aborted alien foetus continue to live and grow (really fast)?
Why does the now-gigantic foetus kill the Engineer?
Why does the Engineer give birth to an Alien at the end?
Why is this Alien a different species again to the Engineer, the Humans and the Squid-thing?
Did the Engineers create us or not?
Why did they leave us a star map (/invitation) in the first place?
Have they visited Earth already (as the cave paintings would suggest)?

Trust me – and those who have seen the film will agree – Prometheus does not answer any of these questions, and most are pretty central to understanding the key events of the film. This has to be the first in a series of films (probably a trilogy). If that is the case, then Prometheus is a perfect opening – an intriguing quest, a gazillion unanswered questions and just as many possibilities. If, however, this is a stand-alone film, then what it professes to be ‘intelligent film making’ is way too far off the scale and just comes across as ‘incredibly lazy’.

And in the spirit of laziness, I am going to post links to two other reviews rather than write a proper one myself. I don’t usually do this, but given that these are out there it would be futile for me to add my two cents. One goes into imagery which I hadn’t even begun to consider while watching the film, and the other points out some quite glaring holes in the plot and script and with a level of venom and satire which I simply cannot match.

The first one is an in-depth look at the hidden mythical and religious themes of Prometheus from a blogger named ‘Cavalorn’. The length of his analysis should tell you something about the complexity of the film: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html. It’s really worth reading, really interesting (if you have seen the film) as are the addendum and comments at the bottom.

The second is more of a surface refutation of some of the questionable plot points. It’s from Maddox who is… outspoken to say the least. However, I agree with everything he says about the movie and regurgitating these points would be nothing short of plagiarism. The potty-mouthed framing of his review just adds to the enjoyment: http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=prometheus_nutshell.

Both are very entertaining reads and say more than I ever could, but briefly:

David (Michael Fassbender), the ship Prometheus’ resident tinkering android is easily the best character in the film by virtue of being utterly enigmatic and virtually emotionless. Fassbender’s eerie smile gives nothing away regarding the motives of his character’s actions. Neither does the plot or the dialogue, more’s the pity, but still.

The crew killing themselves at the end is ridiculous. They are given far too little screen time and absolutely no opportunity to justify why they would just sacrifice themselves based on a theory which was suggested 5 minutes beforehand. I am copying Maddox’s review with this point, but it is just so stupid I felt the need to repeat it.

The more I think about it, the more I come to realise how poor the script and direction is in this film. I don’t mind the unanswered questions – IF they are going to be answered in subsequent films. But some of the questionable events which transpire are not meant to be open-ended and symbolic, they are just terribly executed and unjustified (see again all of Maddox’s points). But despite this, Prometheus is still an incredibly engaging premise and absolutely stunning to look at. It’s just so hard to judge as it doesn’t feel like a finished film (and I sincerely hope it isn’t). I’m going to have to give this two ratings:

As the first film in a series, Prometheus is good (pending conclusions to be given in the subsequent films and hopefully some better direction/ less lazy scriptwriting)
Rating: 7/10

As a stand alone film, it’s pretty awful and a total disappointment.
Rating: 3/10 (all 3 marks being for the visuals)

It’s that divisive.

Film Review: Deja Vu (2006)

Posted in Other with tags , , , , , , on July 4, 2012 by innothingwetrust

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, BUT TO BE HONEST IT’S BETTER THAT YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NOW RATHER THAN WASTING YOUR TIME ACTUALLY WATCHING THIS MOVIE

I won’t expend too much energy on this: Deja Vu is comfortably one of the stupidest films I’ve ever seen. Here’s the premise:

An explosion on a boat kills lots of innocent people. Denzel Washington is an investigator on the case (yawn). He impresses Val Kilmer with his police work and eye for a clue so much that he asks him to join his team. But this isn’t just any team, this is a top secret experimental team using top secret experimental techniques. What techniques? Well, it’s simple really: The government were messing around in their labs and happened to stumble upon space-time folding technology which would create a wormhole in the very fabric of existence allowing us to see exactly 4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds and 14.5 nanoseconds back into the past. Helpfully, this wormhole-window is beamed into the TV screens in the police unit’s top secret base (seemingly a warehouse with minimal security), allowing the time-cops to view past events and look for evidence. Even more helpfully, this past-world is fully 3-dimensional and fully navigatable. Somehow the wormhole allows us to fly around like a computer game and enter any property we like within the relevant zone – oh yeah, unfortunately the wormhole only focuses on a small area. Fortunately, that area is directly on and around the boat explosion. You can’t see outside of this area with the conventional technology, so helpfully again the government have devised a time-helmet with a time-camera on it which Denzel can don and travel outside of the focus zone (in the present world) and beam back pictures from the past in that area to his buddies.

But it doesn’t stop there! There is also a time-oven which the team can put things in and transport them into the past, such as a note with a tip-off for one of the policemen working on the case. And not just send it back in time, but put it precisely where they want, like on a table where the cop will see it. Brilliant technology. But they can only send simple objects back. They have never tried to send anything complex or organic like an animal or even a human – there’s no way in hell they would do that. It’s just too risky, it’s never been tried before, we don’t know the consequences, it’s out of the question. Unless of course Denzel insists and they try it and it just works perfectly first time.

Doesn’t make sense? Don’t worry, it didn’t make sense to the film’s writers either, which is why they wrote in Adam Goldberg – a cookie-cuttered film nerd whose only purpose is exposition and who mostly runs around waving his arms saying, “Look, we don’t know how this technology works either, but it does work so let’s just run with it!”. The blatant inadequacy of his explanations is covered up by quite annoying sarcasm and his theory that the past they are looking back into is in fact a separate branch of time (think Back to the Future, the diagram he draws is almost identical to Doc Brown’s) contradicts the fact that these two dimensions keep communicating with each other. Like the note they send back. Like the fact that Denzel’s fingerprints are inexplicably all over an apartment at the beginning of the film, explained later by the fact that when he goes back in time, he goes to that apartment and so has ‘already been there’, despite the fact that the apartment he goes back in time to is supposed to be in a different dimension. Like the fact that Washington has a voicemail on his phone in the ‘real’ world which we see is left by a woman in the ‘past’ world – a different dimension apparently!

There’s science fiction, and then there is this. I mean, I can suspend my disbelief when watching a film as long as the events make sense within that context. ‘Suspension of disbelief’ is not a licence for film makers to just do literally whatever they want, it still has to make sense. Deja Vu is one of the most nonsensical attempts at ‘high-octane’ sci-fi I’ve ever seen.

Also I really don’t get the big deal with Denzel Washington. Is he really that good an actor? I guess it’s hard to judge from this particular performance as trying to make such drivel look convincing is like trying to hammer in a nail with a turd. However, you would have thought that a more intelligent actor would have looked at the script, thought about it for one second and rejected it along with all the other proposals he gets which go on to premier in the bargain bucket of petrol stations worldwide. And make no mistake, if it weren’t for Washington’s inclusion that is exactly where this movie would have ended up. It is a B-movie with a blockbuster budget. Perhaps old Wash’ had more interest in his salary at this time than his artistic integrity – it seems the only logical explanation.

So what good can I say about Deja Vu? Well, not much. I guess the fact that I actually managed to watch it from start to finish has it going for it. It was ‘action-packed’ and the boat explosion looked cool. The story surrounding Denzel’s partner’s death is quite sad. Jim Cavaziel is good as the crazed chain-smoking terrorist nutter, even if the terrible script really doesn’t give his character any motivation for his actions whatsoever. And that’s it. The rest is ridiculous.

RATING: 2/10

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