I can be a real monster (and greatly misunderstood) before my morning tea

17 01 2015

You have been warned!

Karloff c1935 on set for Bride of…

Mashable’s Retronaut of Boris Karloff





Bill’s Sonnet CXVI

14 01 2015

I’ve been watching an old TV series called “Dead Like Me” in which a recently dead girl “finds herself” while performing her new job as a reaper of souls. It’s vaguely entertaining, not least because it was filmed in and around Vancouver, so it’s always fun trying to figure out where the locations are. She supposedly met her demise when hit by falling space debris… outside the Mink chocolate cafe at Hornby and Hastings. Anyway, the episode I watched last night included quite a bit of Shakespeare, so I thought I’d share one of his sonnets. For no other reason than he was the world’s greatest writer, and you really should read some of his stuff!

When he couldn’t find a word to subtly describe a human emotion, deed or thought… he’d make up a new one. And I mean words that are now thoroughly mainstream like “green-eyed” and “mountaineer”. Now that, dear reader, is owning your language!

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.





The Imitation Game

10 01 2015

Back in July I wrote about the up-coming film of Turing’s life, “The Imitation Game”. Tonight I was invited to go and watch said film. I have to admit that there wasn’t really anything new in the film as far as story. It skipped neatly across the now well-known key aspects of Turing’s life. Being gay, being an odd duck, being potentially “on the spectrum” (autistic), being a genius, being sorely abused by a nation that owed him much. There were hints at other parts of his story, but not explicitly told. For example, there were scenes with apples and cyanide, but no mention that the two together were the method of his suicide.

Towards the end of the story, as Turing starts to lose his faculties because of chemical castration (a “treatment” for his homosexuality), I confess to a small tear. A great mind sorely wounded by those he helped so much. “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine”. This phrase is used a few times in the film to great emotional effect.

It did however pay a little homage to his place as one of the fathers of modern computing. The US actually had a parental warning for the film because it contained… advanced maths (which it only did by reference)! It did though have a completely unnecessary rendition of “bollocks” at one point. There was even a contrived nod to The Turing Test that he’d developed to help define Artificial Intelligence (remember this is before computers even existed – the man was a true visionary).

Mark Strong plays an excellent part as “the spy guy” from MI6, also bringing a few of the unexpected but well done lighter moments. There’s a nod to the sterling work done to fool the Germans about the source of the intelligence to further obfuscate Colossus and also a faint nod to the “XX” (double cross) system to knowingly let secret agents for foreign powers operate in Britain, so that the the material they sent back could be controlled. It also paid tribute to the heartache of having to let many people die in order to protect the secret that Enigma had been cracked. The secret was so secure that the UK let its firm ally Canada use Enigma for transmitting its secrets after the war, still believing it was unbreakable. Few even in the UK knew. It was “Ultra” secret.

Turing, as I’ve said elsewhere is one of my few heroes. Cumberbatch is an awesome actor and caught the essence of the man well. I must however retract an unkind stance I took back in July’s piece. Keira Knightley actually did a reasonable job in this film. Well done to her. It is definitely one of her better offerings to the world of cinema.

Photo from Guardian: The Imitation Game

Photo from Guardian: The Imitation Game

The UK’s Guardian have a review here if you’d like a more professional review.

By the way, it turns out Cumberbatch is actually related to Turing… very distantly. I thought that was fitting, if accidental. As time goes on it seems he is getting more of the recognition he deserves. Though of questionable motivation, he was posthumously pardoned by QEII (the woman, not the ship) in 2013. It’s questionable because to give a pardon means accepting that the offence was real and needs pardoning. He was gay. That is not a crime, and need not be pardoned.

Alan Turing

Wikipedia: Alan Turing





Please Look After This Bear

3 01 2015

I’ve been trying to be more creative this holiday. Trying – and I may add: occasionally succeeding – to write each day as part of my Creative Writing commitment. Taking photos too. I post on Flickr and in perusing a friend’s photos I came across another commenter. You know how these things work. The interwebs I mean. A click here, a click there… and suddenly you’re down the rabbit-hole.

This particular poster had themselves posted a series of photos from London. Though no longer on display, there had been a series of 50 statues of Paddington Bear. Each had been uniquely decorated and they are being auctioned off to support the UK’s NSPCC (a particularly worthy children’s charity). I urge you to check out her photo series here.

There was actually a guided trail to make sure you could visit all 50 statues. You can see them all here. There was even a Chief Scout one… by Bear Grylls (UK’s Chief Scout. Really).

Chief Scout Paddington

The bears were to help market the up-coming Paddington Bear film, starring Hugh Bonneville. I was somewhat wary of this, given the travesty that was made of The Magic Roundabout – a firm childhood favourite, despite being French in origin. Eric (Emma’s dad) Thompson was a master with the original.

If you weren’t familiar with the original Michael Bond books as a child, then you couldn’t have missed the Michael Hordern animations, surely?

The new film seems to have some “odd” additions (like Nicole Kidman’s taxidermist), but thankfully seems to also include classic themes such as Paddington getting his name, making a mess in the railway café… and discovering bathroom etiquette. “Dogs must be carried on the escallator” is also a classic Paddington-esque double entendre. Due to some of his “unsafe” escapades such as being stuck in a fridge and skateboarding whilst being pulled by a bus, the film was given a PG rating – much to Mr. Bond’s personal surprise. Here’s a piece from CNN regarding the rating.

Having seen the full two and half minute trailer though, I have to admit to being quite interested in seeing it. I think it could very well hold enough of the original quintessential Peruvian bear to merit paying the extortionate cinema fee!





Just Eat It – A food waste story

4 10 2014

Well, it’s VIFF time of year again, and Vancouver is hosting films from around the world once more. Tonight I saw “Just Eat It!” and was stunned.

It’s a quirky Vancouver-made film with a serious message. The film-making couple use humour to bring home some uncomfortable facts. 40% of the food we grow… goes to the land fill. For 6 months they live off “waste” food… and live very well with Grant putting on 10lb! They spend only $200 in 6 months on food, and yet eat their fill of top quality chocolate, organic food and fruit and vegetables. They even end up giving food away, they have accumulated so much.

At one point we learn that in order to produce a single hamburger, enough water to have a 90 minute shower is required. Meat is one of the most energy and resource consuming foods we grow… and we throw 40% of it away!

If you can – watch this film! Now… go and eat your vegetables. You’re not leaving the table until you clean your plate…

Just Eat It – A food waste story Trailer – YouTube.





Been waiting a long time for this…

21 07 2014

I heard last year that there was a film about Alan Turing in the works. Turing – one of the fathers of modern computing.

Defined the theoretical “Turing Machine” as early as 1936 – a computer before there were such things. Only 4 instructions, but anything that can be computed could be computed on it.

Also defined a test for artificial intelligence. This gave birth to a simulation called Eliza – after Eliza Doolittle. From Shaw, not the waif-like singer.

Genius.

Gay.

One of my few heroes. Michael Faraday being another. Lenny Butler being foremost… but few will know of him at all. Your loss.

Opted for chemical castration – gay being a crime in the day, and all.

Allegedly insisted on being paid in silver in case the pound crashed. Buried it in a field… then forgot where he’d put it. Typical genius: no common sense!

Killed himself taking a bite from a poisoned apple… some claim this as the back story to Apple’s logo, though it’s denied.

Can’t wait… shame Keira Knightley‘s in it though. I’ve seen fence posts give less wooden performances.

Happy to see from the trailer that they actually filmed at Bletchley Park. I should know… I used to live just over the road.





Ben Canales – Crater Lake

13 04 2013

Couple of years old now, but simply stunning.

Glad to see he dug a small “cold well” at the entrance to his tent.

ben canales – Search Results – Intelligent Travel.








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