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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:08:39 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching, Listening, Museums (all tags)
Watching: "Hindenburg". Listening: Alexy Kudrya. Pub quiz. Reading: "Blue Remembered Earth". Museums: David Hockney, Yayoi Kusama. Links.


What I'm Watching
Saw Hindenburg on DVD. 1975 disaster movie: Girl B was interested because it was notoriously heavily censored in Germany. I think the songs were a particular problem: there's an English translation of a banned Nazi song and a satirical but ostensibly pro-Nazi cabaret song ("There's a Lot to be Said for the Fuhrer").

Unfortunately, as the original Roger Ebert review points out, it's not actually a very good movie. The actual disaster doesn't happen till the very end, and there's not much suspense in watching an intelligence officer blunder around trying to stop something you know is going to happen.

It's also hard to sympathize with the characters. The protagonist isn't exactly a Nazi, he's a Luftwaffe intelligence officer reluctantly seconded at the last minute to work with a Gestapo junior, but it's still not really the team you want to root for. The saboteur is a resister to the Nazis who wants to blow up the Hindenburg only after everyone's safely disembarked to strike a propaganda blow, but I'm not keen on people who blow up civilian aircraft for political purposes either. Basically Nazis versus Terrorists makes it quite hard to pick a side, and making it Reluctant Nazis versus Well-Meaning Terrorists doesn't especially help.

I did quite like the old-school model effects, and the internal zeppelin set, but I wouldn't say they make the movie worth seeking out.

Listening
Went to the latest Rosenblatt Recital, which had tenor Alexey Kudrya and pianist Simon Lepper. I'm not really well-up enough on classical music to know a great tenor from an average tenor, but he sounded pretty good to me. His acting/expressiveness didn't seem quite up to the last guy, baritone Artur Rucinski, but he had a good voice. Girl B tells me Kudrya was exceptional in that he could do both operatic works and lyrical works very well. Also, he can play the flute, and did a song/flute bit from The Magic Flute at the end.

Pub Quiz
Metafilter handily won the second MeFi vs Reddit pub quiz. Well, locals came in first place, but a Metafilter team was second. Full results:

1 #1 Looking (Normal people)
2 My Little Pony Request (Metafilter)
3 Woody Harrelson Is Flagged As Awesome (Metafilter)
4 Me Quizta (Reddit)
5 New Mod Army (Metafilter)
6 Fabulous Faversham Five (Normal people)
7 The Downvote Brigade (Reddit)
8 Better Filter (Reddit)
I was actually on the top MeFi team, but didn't contribute much: only got one question that nobody else did. Felt a bit thick by comparison with the others: of the six on the team, four either had or were working towards Ph.Ds.

MeFi, Reddit followup threads.

What I'm Reading
Finished Blue Remembered Earth, the latest SF novel by Alastair Reynolds.

Has some good points. It's an interesting and well thought-out future, with some interesting angles. Most of the world is constantly surveyed by computer network that prevents all violence using brain implants, but here it's mostly portrayed as quite a positive development: so far the system doesn't seem to be abused. There's also some good hard SF extrapolation, with telepresence proxies and so on. It's interesting to see a fairly positive future depicted here.

The plot isn't too bad, as the characters follow a series of clues around the solar system.

However, I didn't really feel very involved with the book. The story led up to a situation, but it never felt very tense. The book is apparently the first in a series, but it feels a bit like a poor prequel: it's designed to set things up, but doesn't have much of interest in itself. I had a bit of the same feeling with "Pushing Ice". I think it's better too start long series in media res: either plunge us into the action or don't bother.

Museums
Saw the David Hockney: A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy. Absolutely superb. It's a collection of his late paintings, mostly nature paintings of trees and hedgerows in Yorkshire, but they're incredibly beautiful, with the vibrant colours of his California work.

A few of the paintings are prints of his famous iPad paintings. I have mixed feelings on those: I miss the rich texture of the brushstrokes of thick paint, and the colour palette seems a bit limited. They look good from a distance though.

Definitely a great exhibition, well worth seeing.

Museums 2
Also saw the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern. Mixed collection of works by the Japanese artist. Some of it left me cold, like the phallus/worm-encrusted furniture. Some of it is genuinely disturbing though. There are two rooms that are really good: one a hall of reflecting mirrors with dangling lights, one a normal living room but covered in luminous stickers.

Problem was it was hugely busy when we were there, I got a bit freaked out by the crowds. I'm tempted to go back first thing in the morning or late at night for another look.

Web
Socioeconomics. What does Keynesian mean? When Economists Misunderstand Biology.

Politics. Should Labour be polling better? The rule of law in Britain is diminished by the furore over efforts to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan.

Pics. Social media explained. Maps of fictional places. All The Books In The World Except One. Puberty, what's that? Reading other people's code. Baby capybara. Bathing girls.

Video. Shit People Say to Widows. Thomas Quasthoff, more. Husky exercise wheel.

Sci/Tech. Denisova genome sequences, via.

Random. Geek social fallacies of sex, original. The man who moved a mountain.

< David Graeber | the internets ate my diary >
Gas, lads | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
"The saboteur is a resister" by Herring (4.00 / 3) #1 Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:21:01 AM EST
I read that and had a vision of someone in a jumper with coloured stripes.

I haven't bought that latest Reynolds. I have all his others although they are variable quality.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

A pub quiz team that makes you feel a bit thick by ambrosen (4.00 / 3) #2 Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 04:55:20 PM EST
Is a concept I find rather intimidating.

Gas, lads | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback