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
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.
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
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
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.
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