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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:00:25 AM EST) Reading, Theatre, MLP, Me, Consumerism (all tags)
Theatre: "Othello". Reading: "Flood". Watching. Me: camera advice? Web.


What I'm Reading
Flood by hard-SF master Stephen Baxter. Not what I expected. I thought it would be a comprehensively-researched climate change book, but the flood here is deeper and faster than the models suggest. Was a bit skeptical, but he cites research at the end suggesting that rocky planets can have huge amounts of water embedded in the crust, though I'd have expected more earthquakes and continental collapses if it was released.

Takes place over a few decades starting in 2016. Found the beginning gripping as London is overwhelmed with gritty plausibility. Also stayed up late to race to the end. Baxter's really thought things through and there are some impressive set-pieces as well as a sense of grim inevitability. Liked the raft-dwellers mining the plastic Pacific gyre, the Great Red Spot-like perpetual storm, and the sea-life living off the bodies in drowned cities.

However, the middle part of the book sags a little bit. We've seen the world end more spectacularly and the swarms of refugees are pretty familiar. Also the plot relies on some unlikely coincidences and motivations,

Overall, superb in parts, but could have done with some tightening-up. Worth keeping an eye out for. There's apparently a sequel Ark, but I'll hold off for a while.

What I'm Watching
Saw Scarface for the first time on DVD, have somehow avoided it till now.

Found it a lot more Eighties than I was expecting. Knew it was pretty Eighties, but the over-the-top drama and synth soundtrack seem a bit overwhelming. Fairly decent if you don't mind the drama.

Me
Had another walk down the canal, took some pics.
CanalReflections_2108

Have had the Ixus 80 since early December last year. Still seem to be taking photographs, mostly casually when out and about, so tempted to look for a new camera. The Ixus is fine for its size, but could do with more than the 3x zoom: keep seeing good things in the distance but find them pixilated when I get home. Also find things a bit blurry in low light: a bigger aperture might help. Still need something pocket-sized though, I'm rarely motivated enough to lug an SLR about.

Canon's done me OK, so quite tempted by this PowerShot SX200 though all the reviewers are bitching about the pop-up flash. The SX1 seems a bit pricey.

Any thoughts? Is it worth doing this, or is there not much improvement till you get to a proper SLR?

Theatre
Saw the Lenny Henry Othello at Trafalgar Studios. Been curious about it for a while. For Americans: Lenny Henry is a comedian who was big in the Eighties, so at first the concept sounds a bit like Eddie Murphy playing Othello.

It was originally a production in the Yorkshire Playhouse by Northern Broadsides, who take pride in using their real accents. Having lived in the North, suspect I wouldn't have noticed so much if I'd seen it up there, but watching it in this context it did seem a bit disconcerting that Venice seems to be somewhere near Leeds.

Conrad Nelson does a great job as Iago: seemingly bluff and honest with Othello, cynical and not too heavy on the hatred in the soliloquies. The rest of the cast do pretty well too. Jessica Harris is winsomely tragic as Desdemona, Maeve Larkin makes the most of a slim role as Iago's wife Emilia.

Lenny Henry does well too. Was a bit skeptical as to whether he'd be able to handle the verse, but he's actually very lucid and fluent. He's a little awkward at some of the physical stuff: there were a few snickers of laughter when he hurls a knife into a drawing board; but his charisma and presence carry the performance. He plays the role with great conviction, is obviously taking it seriously.

Overall, maybe not the greatest Othello you'll ever see, but definitely watchable.

Guardian, Telegraph, Standard, Independent, Guardian, Times, Times, roundup reviews. And for the hell of it, that 1985 Dr Who spoof again.

Web
Video. First person avalanche (via). Barack Obama is a robot. Vader Harmonica. Guinea pigs fight over cucumber. Original of Simpsons Yeeesss Guy.

Pics. Ultimate Uncluttered Tube map. Anglo-Saxon Gold Hoard (via).

Articles. The passive smoking heart attack myth.

Economics. Excel spreadsheet lets you Conduct Your Own Spending Review (via). Brown's Cunning Deficit Plan. G5, G103, G60? How I became a Keynesian. Mansion tax. Even Thatcher didn't cut like this. Kaletsky on spending plan:

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the "eye-watering" squeeze needed to bring Britain’s public finances back into reasonable balance translates into a reduction of 8.6 per cent in departmental budgets spread over three years. If the directors of any private company sent their line managers an instruction to reduce costs by that amount over three years, with no loss of customer service or output, this would not be considered an insuperable challenge, still less a managerial nightmare.
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He didn't seem particularly good at knitting | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I saw Othello just last month by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:16:44 AM EST
at our Intiman theatre. The bloke who played Iago definitely stole the show and I agree with your observation - Emilia should have been given better lines by the Bard. The woman playing our Desdemona had a horrifically shrill voice. Difficult to take.

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

Emilia by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:47:13 AM EST
Maybe because of stuff in the news lately, I do wonder about the wives of psychopaths and how much they know.
--
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 ]
Or even their live-in GFs. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:49:09 AM EST
Yeah, I know what you mean.

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

[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm too cynical by Herring (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 07:23:50 AM EST
but does anyone else suspect that government "effeciency savings" will consist of paying squillions to management consultants and setting more targets?

Also, I keep meaning to post this link.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

Get a real SLR. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 07:32:33 AM EST
What a great movie Scarface is. "Say hello to my little friend!"

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Agree on SLR by cam (4.00 / 2) #5 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:38:37 AM EST
The Canon xsi takes amazing shots, way better than a hand held.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
SLRs are too bulky by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 09:36:37 AM EST
SLRs should  be treated as the expensive tools they really are.

You should take an SLR with you only if you have a photographic project already planned and you actually know what you are doing (how many people have you seen using flash during poor light condition shots, without a tripod, expecting to catch both the friend in front of them and the magnificent background 500 metres away? Or how many people have you talked to that know what the preset on the camera actually do in technical terms? )

For impromptu photography a click and shoot camera is perfectly fine, normally you will not get a much better picture in cases in which you get your camera out of the bag in a hurry.




[ Parent ]
No! Get the SLR. by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #7 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 09:48:15 AM EST
Although I do agree that an SLR is better if you know how to use it properly, how else will you learn if you don't carry it all the time?

With an SLR you can frame the shot faster, and better, through the viewfinder. The lenses are much better. The depth of field, even in full-auto mode, is better. The camera itself is much steadier because of its size, mass, and shape. The boot and cycle times are much shorter. By the time I've gotten my camera out of the bag and up to my eye it's ready to go. With an SLR you can buy a Real Flash and alternate lenses.

Any SLR made in the past 4 years is Good Enough for most uses, so you can get a (relatively) cheap used one from a reputable dealer.

The only use I have for a point 'n' shoot is one with a casing to take surfing.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
and you actually know what you are doing by duxup (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:59:54 PM EST
How do you know what you're doing before have one in your hand and actually use it?


Point and shoots still stink as a whole for low, or even mid level lighting situations. 

____
[ Parent ]
You quickly get used to carrying it around by cam (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:05:12 PM EST
I do. I take it everywhere and plunk it on restaurant tables etc. For whatever reason the SLR takes way better photos than the handheld. The wuality of colours is greater, as is the focus and clarity. Best decision I did getting the Canon XSI.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
Camera talk by duxup (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:40:46 PM EST
I always figure if you're going to carry something like the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS around you may as well buy an SLR. 


If you're still looking for something mildly compact the Cannon G10 (or the new G11) is said to be keen.


I have my big DSLR and a compact Cannon Powershot SD800 (there are newer models now of course).  I find it is best to either go all the way with size and quality or a good ways into compact models.
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Digicam to carry around, SLR for serious shooting by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:10:15 PM EST
The Ixus series is great although I also happen to have a couple of Fuji A850s which take astonishingly good photos and are also cheap as chips. The new PowerShot G11 is also spectacular, with Canon finally giving up the megapixel dick-waving contest in favour of higher overall quality and performance. However, it's that bulky size halfway between a digi and an SLR.

If you're going SLR, take some time to consider what you want to do. Canon still rules the school but you pay the price. Whatever brand you buy, you'll be locked in due to the lenses. Consider the new 4/3 cameras which offer SLR quality without the bulk of a mirror box due to some very innovative design. Many of the lenses are also interchangeable between makes. They're smaller than things like the Nikon Dnn, Canon nn/nnn and Sony α-series consumer/prosumer cameras and take equivalent pictures for most home and semi-pro needs.

Your best source of information is hands-on trials in stores and Digital Photography Review which has tons of information and lets you compare any makes and models side-by-side, including lab test shot results as well as specs.

woof.

OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

Lenny Henry by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:51:11 PM EST
He did a nice piece on the recent OU season on BBC where he explained how he got an honorary OU degree, but saw people so excited with their regular ones that he decided he wanted one of those and went off to do english lit. He's almost certainly done the background work on Othello since.


My biggest by garlic (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:58:40 PM EST
nikon coolpix 4100 complaint (besides the name) is it's lowlight performance. Second biggest is as an older camera, it's digital display is woefully small compared to modern cameras.


He didn't seem particularly good at knitting | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback