Latest Teaching Company course Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past by Allen C. Guelzo. Pretty interesting course on historiography, though he doesn't really use the term. Goes through the history of history starting with the ancient Greeks to the present day, identifying various trends and themes in history, Some themes are "declension" or decline, celebration, the attempt to identify patterns or cycles, "inversion" where the supposedly noble are shown to be vile or vice-versa (he uses Tacitus as an example) and so on.
Concentrates almost entirely on Western history, there's virtually nothing on Asia for instance. You also get a kind of potted history of the Western world, since he starts every lecture with a brief description of what was going on. He also includes some figures who you don't really associate with history, like Kant and Saint Augustine.
Guelzo has a great, sonorous, speaking style, and presents everything in a compelling way.
Overall, excellent course, very enjoyable to listen to. The only downside is that it's a pretty high-level overview without much time to go into detail, or examine historical methods.
What I'm Watching
Saw The Lincoln Lawyer on DVD. Pretty good legal thriller, with a good central performance. Does get a bit silly and the ending feels a bit rushed, but an entertaining movie
What I'm Watching 2
Finally got around to seeing the original, unedited Star Wars: A New Hope, from before George Lucas 1997 "Special Edition" edit. I think the TV versions were pan-and-scan, so this must be the first time I've seen it in widescreen since the original theatrical release.
I didn't mind the 1997 Special Edition that much when I first saw it, but it hasn't worn well. The animations now look cartoonishly unrealistic, and on a second viewing it's harder to ignore the tone-deaf stuff going on in the background, like the comedy pratfall of a Jawa falling off a lizard soon after Luke has buried the charred corpses of the only the family he's ever known.
So, it felt like a huge sense of relief to see the originals. The spaceship models and creature effects generally hold up a lot better than the crude CGI. You do get more sense of weight from the models, they seem to move more deliberately and realistically than the wildly fluttering CGI versions. The exception is the compositing, like the unconvincing blur whenever a landspeeder is in a real environment, and even as a kid I noticed the squares of uneven black around the TIE fighters.
The improved atmosphere more than makes up for any problems though. Han Solo's ruthless nonchalance as he shoots first is brilliant, and there's actually some tension as he leaves without being let off the hook by Jabba the Hutt. It's actually far more impressive to see the tiny squadron of Rebel fighters advancing towards the vast bulk of the Death Star, than the larger CGI fleet Lucas put in later.
Definitely an improvement.
What I'm Watching 3
Saw The King's Speech on DVD. Much acclaimed drama about George VI's friendship with his speech therapist, mixed in with the story of how he grabbed the throne after his older brother wanted to marry a divorced American.
Pretty good and effective film, entertaining to watch I didn't rate it as well as the critics did. I think that as I've mentioned before and as with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" it goes back to whether you judge a movie by its average features or its best feature. Those films are good all-round with no bad elements, but having nothing new and nothing truly superb. So the critics like them, but I tend to appreciate a flawed movie with one really amazing element.
Overall though, a good movie well worth seeing.
Only thing I wondered was: why didn't they just use the loud-music-through-headphones trick with the big speech at the end? Ample time to prepare, and they had a big room with power sockets to themselves. Also apparently Churchill was really on the other side, and did his utmost to try to stop him rather than helping him.
Politics. UK. UAF seeks women to counter all-female EDL protest. US. It's Hamilton vs. Jefferson All Over Again. Classlessness. "Mamet is clutching a new holy book and believing everything in it as a matter of course".
|< kinda slow here lately | I had tacos for lunch. >|