Print Story The starry dynamo in the machinery of night
By TheophileEscargot (Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 09:30:27 AM EST) Walking, Reading, Watching, Museums (all tags)
Meta, multipoll.

Apart from the giant commute, I miss living near Epping Forest. It was nice to be able to just go out and start walking and end up in near-country eventually. Plus Epping Forest is strung out along the Central Line, and I was only a few hundred yards from a station, so could just dash back if the weather turned bad.

Round here there's just the tiny, noisy and crowded Acton Park, and the eerie windswept Wormwood Scrubs. It's a short train ride to Hampstead Heath, and the weather totally kicked my arse this weekend: I'd see blue sky out of the window; get dressed; get out; and by the time I got anywhere it would be leadenly overcast again.

Took a long walk along the Grand Union Canal towpath: started by going through the Scrubs, then followed it through to Camden Lock, taking a quick detour at Primrose Hill and Regents Park. Not much greenery but interesting to see how the canalside buildings change as you go into London; from the industrial stuff further out to the old brick warehouses and houses to the newer apartment buildings and posh villas in the West End. Also you get to go past London Zoo and see into a couple of the animals enclosures: the warthogs seem fairly happy.

Just saw a couple of small one-room exhibitions. The National Gallery has a selection of Mary Cassat prints on display: some of them strikingly composed: liked the two girls reading the map.

There's also a Bellini and the East exhibition of Venetian and Turkish themed paintings there. Some of the Turkish pictures are interesting: there's a dearth of realistic Islamic pictures from the period.

Also had a look at the Icons and Idols contemporary portraits exhibition National Portrait Gallery. Has a selection of specially commissioned UK portraits from the last 25 years. Interesting to see the different angles the artists took on modern portraiture.

Bellini: Seated Scribe Mary Cassatt: The Fitting Mary Cassatt: The Map

What I'm Reading
Didn't think they made 'em like that anymore. Read The Sunborn by Gregory Benford: very trad hard SF, with an expedition discovering strange alien life on Pluto and beyond. Even has a gruff Russian speaking in comedy broken English: haven't seen one of those in ages.

Science side of things is all excellently worked out: Benford is a working physicist. Not much opportunity for you to do your own howdunnit problem-solving though: it's all explained for you. Also one oddity where after accelerating for weeks they managed to very quickly stop at an icetoroid for refuelling: how come they didn't need to spend ages matching velocity with it? Especially since apparently things move pretty slowly out there.

He manages to avoid the emo-drama side of the plot, though there's some fairly perfunctory conflict within and between the crews. Moderate amount of action, though with very little suspense.

Well worth a look if you're nostalgic for Clarke or Asimov. It's the sequel to a book called "The Martian Race": I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.

Also got through a comics anthology: Batman: the greatest stories ever told, a compilation of various stories from Batman's history. Quite useful as a reminder that while comics fans talk about how "dark" the old Batman was, and while he may have been relatively speaking, he was always a camp as christmas and cheesier than gorgonzola by modern standards. The stories are generally good, though a little dated and very short by modern standards.

What I'm Watching
Saw Hayao Miyazaki's cartoon Howl's Moving Castle. Adaptation of a Diana Wynne Jones book. More child-friendly and less violent than Princess Mononoke. Very visually inventive: loved all the steampunk machines and the castle itself: quite sad to see it slowly falling apart at the end. The fire demon seemed a bit too Disney to me, but apart from that pretty charming. #A9B398

Finally got around to seeing feature-length Finnish fan movie Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning Mostly the opposite of what I was expecting. Didn't seem to be many nerdy in-jokes in the dialogue, which concentrated on generic student-type comedy of pratfalls, double-takes. The verbal humour doesn't seem to translate from the Finnish too well. Apparently it depends on the original Finnish translations: "Phaser" was translated as "Thing-that-phases", which becomes "Think-which-twinkles" in Finnish parody, which becomes "Twinkler" in the English translation. I'm not sure at which point the humour disappears, but it's definitely gone.

Special effects were remarkably lavish, quality up to the standards of the average recent Star Trek TV show; but at much greater length and with lots of big battle scenes. Also had a lot of different "sets" and some large groups of extras. A couple of professional actors raise the tone slightly.

All in all, surprisingly watchable. Not a great movie, but I've seen worse Hollywood efforts. #94985C #94985C, but subtract #604020 if you don't like space battles.

Red=Entertainment, Green=originality, Blue=intelligence.

I think I'm going to have to take it easier on the images from now on. I can churn out text very quickly, but finding, creating, resizing, uploading and inserting the images takes ages. And I have to do that from home.

Don't want to bitch too much about the Husiscoop image functionality but... it would be nice to have two things.
1. An order-by clause in whatever generates the drop-down list. Don't care if it's by date or name, but it would be nice to be able to find the images you've just uploaded somehow.
2. A checkbox option for deleting multiple files, so you don't end up with hundreds of items in the randomly-ordered drop-down list.

< Life is change | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
The starry dynamo in the machinery of night | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
Yeah by hulver (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 09:49:57 AM EST
The image uploading thing is pretty basic. Very much a file uploader rather than tailored for images.

I've frequently wanted the tickbox delete myself. Maybe someday I'll get around to doing it. I wish I had more free time. As it is I've got so little I spend what I do have worrying about what I'm going to do with it, then run out before I get around to doing anything.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

The Star Wars holiday special by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 09:50:19 AM EST
makes the prequels look like Kubrick masterpieces. So I'm not sure if it's actually a waste of time or not.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Corman's FF last year, and he's been pestering me to see it ever since. Somehow I just can't find the resolve to sit down and watch it - not even in a little window on my screen during work.

It's not very good by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 09:57:41 AM EST
Not even in a so-bad-it's-good or so-cheesy-it's-good way.
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 ]
Where It=Fantastic Four that is by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 10:15:58 AM EST
I thought the Star Wars Holiday Special was terrible enough to be funny, though I don't know how a stone-cold sober person would feel.
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 ]
Steampunk? by thunderbee (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 01:27:27 PM EST
Have you seen Steamboy?
Very different from Miyazaki's work (I was pretty disappointed by Howl's Moving Castle, I'd rate it as his worst job) - but oh, so very Steampunk :-)

It's on my Amazon rental list by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 08:51:22 PM EST
I think I had a theory once about movie science fiction always being twenty years behind written SF. If steampunk was started by The Difference Engine in 1990, that would make it about 15 years.
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 ]
Midgets watched Howl's Moving Castle by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 12:54:47 AM EST
From Amazon rentals. But this was on Tuesday and I've not sent it back yet as I thought WPKAW may want to see it. But she doesn't so I've gotta find time to watch it by myself. So it's not likely to be the same disc as the one you watched. Still, it's a weird thought that you could be handling the same DVD's as the FOML.

[ Parent ]
Don't panic by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 10:11:27 AM EST
My Amazon list says dispatched 8 April 2006 and received 19 April 2006.
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 ]
Walking by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 12:00:04 AM EST
Thought of heading south? You're not that far from the Thames and Richmond Park.

It's political correctness gone mad!

I'm a fair way from there by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 10:32:25 AM EST
It's about an hour's walk through housing estates I suppose. Thing is, I tend to do half of that walk every day, as it's pretty much due South to get to work.
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 ]
Just looked at a map by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 11:33:45 PM EST
Yeah - it's further than I thought. I have the same problem living in Brixton, there's just no-where to go for a pleasant stroll. Clapham Common's OK in winter, but the rest of the year it's too busy.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
The starry dynamo in the machinery of night | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)