By TheophileEscargot (Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 12:16:07 AM EST) Watching, Paris, OBLF, MLP (all tags)
Watching. Londoner in Paris notes. Web. OBLF

What I'm Watching
Saw Disney movie Sky High, about a high school for the children of superheroes. Mildly entertaining, goes through all the usual high school movie clichés, but mainly aimed at actual children I think. Very wholesome and moralistic, though it's amusing the way it completely undermines its "sidekicks/nerds are people too" thesis by giving the main characters superpowers anyway.

What I'm Watching 2
Quite like Aeon Flux: shame it was such a total flop over here. Brisk action, decent eye-candy but actually included a plot and some revelations.

I think the movie critics have had a small but significant role in the dumbing down of movies: by slating moderately smart action movies just as much as utterly dumb action movies, they help keep the blockbuster system alive.

The thing about blockbuster movies is, as Tom Shone points out, not one blockbuster has actually lost money since the 1970s. Enough people always troop out to watch it when it opens, or rent it to fill time, that they always make their money back.

Now if the critics could discriminate between a good and a bad action movie, it would be possible to avoid the utterly awful ones. In terms of overall Hollywood income, that wouldn't change much. But it would suddenly introduce an element of risk into the finances; other than the risk of only making a shedload of money instead of a warehouseload of money. That could push budgets down and quality up.

What I'm Watching 3
Also saw City of God: Brazilian movie about a group of people growing up in the favela. Had been avoiding it for a while assuming it was going to be a turgid piece of social realism; but it's actually fairly fast-paced, funny as well as tragic, and creatively shot. Kind of like Trainspotting meets Goodfellas. Well worth seeing if you haven't already.

Ratings: Red=Entertainment; Green=Originality; Blue=Intelligence.

Paris Notes: Day 2 PM
The Louvre opens late on Wednesdays (until 10PM), and the guidebook says that's the quietest time to visit. Impressive building, used to be a palace: entrance is through a big, modern, glass pyramid erected in the middle of the courtyard. Not much queuing if you've got your museum passes in advance: the metal-detector queue for the bagless is quite quick, and they check the tickets separately at the entrances to the three wings.

Started off in the Richelieu wing. That has French, German, Dutch and Flemish works, with an emphasis on the French. Upper floor is paintings, lower floor is sculpture. Also has some opulent rooms preserved from the old palace, giving you a little glimpse of the high life. Paintings are pretty interesting: again it's the volume of great work that's so impressive. My list of things that struck me.

• Gheemer David: Triptyque de la famille Sedano
• Valkenborch: La tour de Babel
• Ecole de Fountaineblue: Gabrielle d'Estees et souer de...
• Joos can Craisbeck: Le fumeur
• Van Dyck: Charles I, Portrait du roi a la chasse (trust the French to have a picture of that particular English monarch)
• Gerrir Hoeckgeese: Portrait de palais renaissance, Messenger devanlt le...
• Stom: Pilate washing hands
• Walerand Vaillant: Self portrait
• Eckersberg: Nude (Trine Nielsen)
• Samuel Morse: La Galerie du Louvre
After that, decided to head for the Denon wing, hosting Italian painting, for which all the signs are carefully illustrated with a little graphic of the Mona Lisa.

In general the signs in the Louvre are French first, with English and other languages later. There was an exception though: a big glossy promotional cardboard contraption advertising the Da Vinci Code Audio Guide. That one's in English, with just a tiny French translation halfway down.

Had agonized a bit about whether to see the Mona Lisa. The guidebooks uniformly describe it as a terrible experience, where you enter an extra queue for ages, then find the painting almost invisible behind glass and strobe-lit by camera-flashes, heavily degraded with age. On the other hand, not bothering to see it would mean that after coming back I would have to justify that decision to everyone I spoke to, who would naturally ask me only whether I'd seen the Mona Lisa or not.

In the end though, caught a glimpse from the main corridor, which neatly solved the problem. Certainly at that time of day, it wasn't a problem seeing it. There's a network of queuing ropes in front of it, but you can get a fairly decent view from the sides without entering it, and the queue wasn't that long. Didn't have any problems with reflections off the glass. I've had far worse experiences being jostled in the crowded, sweaty basements of the special exhibitions at Tate Britain and the National Gallery. Painting doesn't seem to be in bad nick either: things like the Monet waterlilies in Tate modern are far worse despite being much younger. Didn't experience any major epiphanies, but nice to see the old girl in person.

Did find that section by far the most impressive though. Was utterly gobsmacked by the Grande Gallerie, which stretches into the distance, and is just lined with great work, including a couple of Caravaggios. I was wandering along in a daze by that point.

The highlight for me though was the Raft of the Medusa. That's a huge, dramatic canvas showing a scene from a famous shipwreck. The thing was, in school I never liked art lessons. My generation of art teachers were heavily into Art as Self-Expression rather than Empty Technique; and since I have shitty hand-eye coordination my Self was clearly not worth Expressing. However, I did the fairly pointless generic Personal and Social Education A-level, where you basically just had to turn up for a free A-level; and for one lesson we had a different art teacher, one I'd never been taught by before. In one brisk lesson, using the Raft of the Medusa as an example, he took us through the basics of composition: showing us the dynamic diagonal lines; the way the eye is drawn along the painting to the dramatic focus of the waving signaller; the carefully uncanny flesh-tones of the dead; the different attitudes of the subjects. For the first time, I thought, hold on, there might be something interesting to this art business after all. Anyway, it was definitely a big moment for me to see the actual painting.

Finished off in the Sully wing, which has historical artifacts including some Egyptian stuff, and a section of the original castle. Was flagging badly by that point and only skimmed through. Some interesting coloured Egyptian paintings though.

Web
Stolen from B3ta: Extortr.com.

Big Fat Blog on High tech fat hatred

The geek/tech world is, I think, so virulently anti-fat because there seems to be a perception of geeks/techies as fat and socially inept so there's this push to prove that they aren't those things--even if, well, they are. I see a lot of the comments as a combination of self-righteousness (for those who have managed to lose weight) and self-hatred (for those who haven't), and it's so overwhelming that I'm not sure that there is a way to overcome it.
...
Techies tend to be major geeks. (No problem for me; I tend to really like geeks.) As a result, I think that a lot of them look to torment someone lower on the social scale than they are to make themselves feel better.

Operation Become Less Fat
CW: 11st 7
SW: 14st 4
Loss: 39 pounds
Weeks: 28
Loss per week: 1.4 pounds

Saturday 10 June 2006
Breakfast: 2 tea. Soup. 2 large slices bread. Piece camembert. Slices roast beef
Supper: Tuna steak. 300g potatoes, peas, carrots, spring greens. Shoc trifle.
Second supper: 1 slice bread, cheese bread, roast beef.
Booze: 1 beer, 2 whisky.
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+.

Sunday 11 June 2006
Breakfast: 2 tea, 2 large slices bread, 2 eggs, 2 tomatoes.
Lunch: Lamb chops, 400g potatoes, peas, carrots. WW Choc and vanilla dessert.
Second supper: 2 ham and tomato sandwiches
Snacks: Hot choc with splash whisky
Booze: 1 beer, 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. Dumb-bells: light 6.5kg 3x10, medium 10kg 3x10, heavy 14kg 3x10. 3.5 miles walking

Monday 12 June 2006
Breakfast: 2 coffee
Brunch: Small egg, sausage, bacon sandwich.
Supper: Chicken Jalfrezi, rice. Cherry Garcia frozen yoghurt.
Snacks: Mango. 2 slices ham.
Booze: 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 1.75 miles walking

Tuesday 13 June 2006
Breakfast: 2 coffee. 2 slices toast, 2 slices ham, 2 tomatoes
Lunch: Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel
Supper: 400g potatoes, 2 "Healthy Eating" quarter pound beefburgers (270kcal, 39g protein), ratatouille.
Snacks: 1 Ryvita
Booze: 1 beer, 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 1.75 miles walking. Dumb-bells: light 6.5kg 3x10, medium 10kg 3x10, heavy 14kg 3x10. 3.5 miles walking

Wednesday 14 June 2006
Breakfast: Slice toast, slice ham, tomato
Brunch: Large sausage and bacon roll
Lunch: Chicken wrap
Supper: Ravioli, bread, piece cheese. Healthy Eating Lemon Cheesecake yoghurt
Snacks: Hot choc with shot whisky
Booze: 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking

Thursday 15 June 2006
Breakfast: Coffee Corned beef, 2 slices toast, tomato
Lunch: Large chicken and bacon roll
Supper: 2 Waitrose burgers, 400g potatoes with butter, tin sweetcorn, ravioli. Froghurt.
Snacks: HOt choc with shot whisky, 2 Ryvita, corned beef
Booze: 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking. Dumb-bells: light 6.5kg 3x10, medium 10kg 3x10, heavy 14kg 3x10. 3.5 miles walking

Friday 16 June 2006
Breakfast: Coffee
Brunch: Small egg, sausage, bacon sandwich
Lunch: Pie, mash, peas.
Supper: Chunky Chilli meal soup. Bread. 3 tomatoes. Froghurt
Booze: 2 beer
Snacks: 1 hot choc
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking.

Dead Man Walking | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
aeon flux by martingale (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 12:54:48 AM EST
Did you know the story from some other source before you saw the film? I found the story hard to follow and not well paced, but I'd never heard of AF before I saw it. My verdict: too much eyecandy and not enough SF.

Louvre's massiveness is just plain impressive.

Never cared much for "art just is" bull. Didn't do any at school on account of a scientific baccalaureate. But there are a few interesting TV programmes that really make the stuff interesting. BBC has some, I think, on the history of painting and sculpting technologies.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

Hadn't seen the series by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 01:04:22 AM EST
Might watch it now, though it's a bit pointless when you know the ending.

I've read enough SF that it wasn't that hard to follow. It was pretty obvious from the start that the sensitive, good-looking villain was going to turn out to be one of the good guys.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
pointless by martingale (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 02:01:49 AM EST
like reading superman comics?

My understanding is that the plot leaps in the movie are actually filled in properly by the series.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
I dunno by spacejack (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 07:10:14 AM EST
I haven't seen the movie, but the series was pretty weird. I don't remember there being a coherent story arc throughout; more like ideas and characters revisited.

Also, she dies in a lot of the episodes, as if she's like a video game character. I avoided the movie because I thought a live-action movie would be way too literal and conventional to be anything like the series. That said, I might check it out, even if it's just a hollywood actioner that stole the title and a few visuals.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 2) #4 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 02:37:12 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

Annoyed me as well by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:45:18 AM EST
I got really iritated by it

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
After five solid years of architecture school by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 04:41:00 AM EST
All I really want to see of the Louvre is the Grande Gallerie. I'll do my best to remember gobsmacked as the description.

Le Radeau de la Meduse by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #7 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 08:18:33 AM EST
Colour me jealous. Purchase any nice lithographs of it?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

You just want this by calla (4.00 / 2) #8 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 03:01:43 PM EST
litho-

"Are Linux chicks worth it?" fencepost

[ Parent ]
Critic Theory by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #9 Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 03:52:17 PM EST
I'm not sure I buy the theory that critics are partially to blame for the dumbing down of the blockbuster.

First, I don't think critics automatically pan any summer blockbuster action flick.

I've seen critics praise action flicks they thought were well done. I know this because I tend to avoid summer blockbuster-style action extrvaganzas unless I run across a handful of good reviews that convince me I should give it a chance. Sometimes it works (Man on Fire, V for Vendetta, all the LoTR films - although those were technically holiday season blockbusters) and sometimes it doesn't (Sin City, King Kong), but the central point remains: critics don't trash every blockbuster actioner automatically and uniformly or I'd never have seen any of the last five or six years worth of popcorn cinema.

Second, if critical denunciations don't stop people from going to see shit now, why should more nuanced denunciations stop people from going to see this dreck? "Failed" blockbusters make their money the opening weekend and in the DVD long haul. The first windfall occurs prior to critical impact and the second long after the reviews have ceased to matter.

Regarding Operation Become Less Fat by joh3n (4.00 / 5) #10 Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 05:06:59 AM EST
I think you should re-work your graph, since it doesn't highlight the fact that you are making great progress very well.  The y-axis minimum value of zero kind of implies that that is your target goal, and it sets the stretch such that a 1 increment change, which is 14 pounds looks trivial, which it is most certainly not.  I'd set the minimum y-value to be your target weight.

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I am a crime against humanity
-theantix

LISTEN TO THIS MAN-- by ammoniacal (4.00 / 3) #11 Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 07:38:28 AM EST
HE SPEAKS IN TEH NAME OF SCIENCE!

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
ph34r t3h l337 gr4ph p0w4h by joh3n (4.00 / 2) #12 Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 08:28:33 AM EST

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I am a crime against humanity
-theantix

[ Parent ]
Explaining composition and technique by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:53:57 AM EST
Is much more valuable than the free expression stuff, though it shouldn't constrain it. I get the feeling most teachers don't explain it because they don't actually know.

Have you read Ways of Seeing by John Berger?

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It's political correctness gone mad!

hitech hatred by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 02:15:44 AM EST
Techies tend to be major geeks. (No problem for me; I tend to really like geeks.) As a result, I think that a lot of them look to torment someone lower on the social scale than they are to make themselves feel better.

Intelligencia always suffer from this. The brainbox tends to get incredibly frustrated and hostile towards the lack of intelligence in their 'inferiors'. If the brainbox assumes that they are inherently vastly more intelligent than most people, why is their attitude different (i.e. charitable) towards people who are naturally physically disadvantaged?

That would be by TurboThy (4.00 / 2) #16 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 02:50:09 AM EST
intelligentsia, you fat, ignorant slob.
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Sommerhus til salg, første række til Kattegat.
[ Parent ]
Dead Man Walking | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback