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.

‘Overcast’: A film for the Wet Coast

31 03 2013

Came across this on DesignTAXI. Looks like it was a University project perhaps. A few seconds in there were several hints the live action parts were filmed in the UK.

The styling seems influenced by the Pink Panther shorts, I thought.

‘Overcast’: An Adorable Animated Film About A Man Followed By A Cloud –

The film is by James Lancett and Sean Weston. Let’s hope we see more from them in the future.

Hell yeah!

26 03 2013

This film was made for me to watch!

Small Apartments: Meet 2013′s Most Random Cast! (Trailer and Pictures) |

It couldn’t get any more quirky than this! Not sure about the Matt Lucas American accent but perhaps natives of the tongue can assess how good it is.

Making History

24 03 2013

I’ve been really busy at work recently, but somehow I’ve managed to squeeze in a little late night film-watching. I managed to watch “Made in Dagenham” and “A Royal Affair” over the last few days. Neither were my choice actually, but both taught me something.

Made in Dagenham is a dramatisation of the Ford Motor Company’s UK strike in 1968. I was previously unaware of any such action, being as I was only 4 at the time, and the late 60′s and early 70′s were a time of general turmoil in the UK anyway. I do remember my parents having to light candles because of electricity strikes around that time, but I wasn’t aware of this specific strike. But it wasn’t just any old labour dispute…

The film weaves a fictional narrative around the true events of the strike. Basically a group of around 187 women were employed in Ford’s Dagenham plant to stitch together the seats for the Ford cars made at the plant. We’re lead to believe those included the Escort, Cortina and Anglia from contemporary shots of both the factory and adverts of the time. Incidentally I saw a Cortina from the era here in White Rock just the other weekend – parked outside Safeway!

Source: Classic & Performance Cars – Ford Cortina Mk II

Anyway, Ford had decided to try and cut wage costs by “regrading” the work the women did as unskilled rather than semi-skilled. This despite the fact that the ladies were expected to sew together the car seats from many parts with no guiding patterns or other instructions. Being “only women” their dispute was ignored… until the plant (employing 40-50,000 men) ran out of car seats. The entire plant closed and Ford-US sent in the big guns, threatening the then-Labour government that unless they sorted it out, they’d withdraw Ford (a major part of the UK’s manufacturing business then) from the the country. It was a dodgy time. Even the working men at Ford weren’t in support of the women… they were “the bread-winners” and saw the working women as just “earning pin-money” and actually jeopardising their access to the job market by closing the plant.

By now, the issue had become not merely a complaint about the re-grading of their work, but of the wider issue of equal pay for equal work. Something we take for granted (at least as a principle, if not still in practice 40+ years later). Barbara Castle (in the film portrayed by the superb Miranda Richardson – Blackadder’s Queenie), rather than bow to the arrogant men in Ford’s headquarters actually took up the mantle and two years later (nothing is fast in politics) the UK lead the world in equal pay legislation. It was no longer legal to give lower wages simply because the employee was female. Mrs Pankhurst probably cheered in her grave!

I have no idea how closely the film stuck to the events, and certainly claim no voracity to my retelling, but I did feel a bit of a glow to think that my mum’s generation of young women in the UK were the ones in the “Swinging 60′s” who started to fight for what is plainly right. The industrialised world quickly fell in line after the legislation was passed, and Ford’s global business kept right on trucking (wha’?) despite the minor hike in labour costs.

Some things are biologically skewed towards men or women, but getting paid different amounts for doing the same tasks at work is not one of them!

So film two was last night. I have a terrible, er, er, memory, and it was about 2/3 of the way through watching A Royal Affair that I realised I was already familiar with the story of Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, having read “Sex with the Queen” by Eleanor Herman (Someone had told me it involved corgis).

The film’s in Danish, but there are only a couple of very brief, tasteful sex scenes, so you won’t miss much while you’re reading the subtitles.

Wikipedia: A Royal Affair

The film tells the story of Caroline Mathilde, younger sister of Mad King George III – who you’ll recall couldn’t hold on to the American colonies when there were some uprisings by tax-evaders in the 1770′s…  See, even then England would go to war over a cup of tea! Actually, it was Great Britain by then. England had finally stopped quibbling about the price of haggis with Scotland, and the right for men to wear skirts in 1707.

So anyway, Caroline got married off to King Christian of Denmark when she was 15, and finally went to live in Denmark. Yes – 15. See, we easily forget about how cultural norms changes over time and how what we would call paedophilia or child exploitation now was perfectly normal in the 18th century.

By all accounts Christian was as mad as a barrel full of monkeys and entirely a puppet in the hands of the clergy-run court. Denmark was falling far behind the rest of Europe during the explosion of science and thought in what we call “The Enlightenment”. Enter his physician, one Johann Friedrich Struensee. Caroline and he hit it off, though accounts vary as to whether he was exploiting her for his own political goals, or genuinely loved her. Either way, her second child was to him, though Christian, Caroline and Johann got on famously and gradually turned Denmark into a most enlightened country. They banned many archaic practices like torture of peasants, and censorship of “challenging ideas” – such as those of Voltaire - François-Marie Arouet to you . (He of the battery… oh and a few other philosophical ideas too!)

Eventually though, the wheels of politics turned and it all turned out less than pleasantly.

At the age of 16 though, the son of Christian and Caroline became King Frederik VI and reinstated many of the enlightened ideas. In fact he went further, and Denmark became the forward thinking state we know it to be today.

It was a bit of a long film. Definitely glad for the pause button to go and have cups of tea and subsequently deal with the consequences of doing so. Worth a watch though…

Two Thumbs Up

15 03 2013

Sheriji has posted a couple of things recently about positive thinking and looking on the bright side of things (predictably!  :) ).

She popped straight into my mind when I saw this entry on DesignTAXI about ThumbsAndAmmo. Famous scenes are taken from action films and the almost inevitable guns are digitally replaced with a positive “thumbs up”

LOL: Guns In Movie Scenes Replaced With A Thumbs-Up –

LOL: Guns In Movie Scenes Replaced With A Thumbs-Up -

Famous Weapons – Daniel Nyari Graphic Design & Illustration

8 02 2013

Go on then… how many of these iconic weapons can you recognise from film and video games?

Famous Weapons – Daniel Nyari Graphic Design & Illustration.

Famous Weapons - Daniel Nyari Graphic Design & Illustration

The cricket bat is, I think, Shaun of the Dead’s. The gas tank is from “No Country for Old Men“. Ghostbusters is in there too. There’s the little gun from Men in Black. Bond’s three-nippled enemy Scaramanga is represented, as is the Star Trek phaser.

An interesting whimsy from Daniel Nayari to entertain the nerds out there…

Glenn Owen Dodds on Vimeo

23 01 2013

So quite some time ago, I mentioned a short Australian film by the name of Glenn Owen Dodds. Remember that?

Well today, I had another idle look (spurred on by my attempts to find a great documentary by the name of “Men who swim” – but that’s for another day).

And there it was. Today, dear reader you get to see the full 16 minutes of a lovely, gentle little comedy. Enjoy!

Glenn Owen Dodds on Vimeo via Glenn Owen Dodds on Vimeo.

Asterix, Chicken Little and The Argentinian Hardware Guy

6 01 2013

I feel bad for not having written too much original stuff of late. I do re-post things I’ve found interesting and thought you might like too, but it’s a bit harder to find the time for some concerted keyboard molesting. And if you’ve seen the way I type, you’d understand the turn of phrase. I was a programmer for many years, but began my career in the days before it was trendy to teach boys things like cooking and keyboard skills. (Though, in defence of my schooling, I was once taught how to knit.) As a result I type with only the first two fingers on each hand as well as the occasional thumb-whack of the space bar. I also stare at the keyboard while I’m doing it, which is apparently not the preferred way. Yes, I can read hex and do arithmetic in binary. Your point? :)

In the early days of my programming, we once played a trick on a new employee by prising off a few keys from his keyboard and swapping them around. In this day and age of wide-spread touch typing it would have had no effect at all, but back then, it was great to see the confusion. Yes – I know it was immature, but have you ever noticed how much more fun children have compared to adults?!

So, stick around, and I’ll take you on a typically serpentine tale of my evening last night. Sitting comfortably? We’ll begin when I was 11. I like a good run up, and 37 years seems like a good lead in to last night. When I was 11, I started my secondary school education at Bradford Grammar School. As well as more esoteric things like Latin and Rugby Union, we were also taught French. Now, being from Yorkshire, one might assume that I’d reject the concept of speaking the Queen’s English, let alone a proper foreign language. Au contraire mon ami (see – some of it plainly stuck too!) I actually took to it like a canard to d’eau. You see in my young malleable mind it was like a secret code. A relatively formulaic way of converting one set of words (English) into a mysterious codified form (French). Specifically one unknown to my sister.

I really enjoyed my time at Grammar School. I’d won a scholarship and felt I was benefiting from quite a privileged opportunity to learn. To encourage the less enthusiastic, the French teacher had several copies of Asterix & Obelix comic books. The creators,  René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo made all these wonderful plays on words as well as loosely covering various areas of European history and national stereotypes. When fighting the Britons for example, the Roman army was confounded when the Britons “broke for tea and sandwiches” at 5 o’clock. It was in the original French, and really made you want to understand what was going on.

Wikipedia: Asterix’s village

Needless to say, I quickly obtained English versions of the many comic books and though some of the word play had to alter slightly, they were just as much fun. The tuneless village bard for example was Cacaphonix, and the healing druid was Getafix. Anyway, all this just to bring us to our first point of interest on today’s guided tour through irrelevance: the rotund village chief, Vitalstatistix, was always afraid that the sky would fall on his head, which I took to be a quaint Gaulish superstition at the time. I had no other point of reference.

So – fast forward a couple of decades and we move to Canada, and I become familiar with the music of The Barenaked Ladies. They end up doing the soundtrack to a film called Chicken Little by Walt Disney in 2005. This would otherwise have completely been missed by my RADAR (yes it should really be capitalised – it stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging. However, like many other made up words (e.g. laser) it has entered the fluid entity known as English as a normal noun – radar. A little like Google has become a verb).

Somewhat like The Little Engine That Could, Chicken Little is largely unknown beyond the admittedly large borders of North America, and so it was only the 2005 film with its BNL soundtrack that introduced me to “The Sky Is Falling”, and reminded me of bumbling old Vitalstatistix. I’ve since discovered that the tale goes back thousands of years and is actually known as Henny Penny in the UK (Mrs E admitted a vague recollection of that story, though plainly it was largely out of favour by the late 60s when I was being read Jemima Puddleduck and Thomas the Tank Engine.) Anyway, this is the second toilet-stop on our circuitous journey.

Finally we reach last night, and it finds me at the VanCity Theatre in Vancouver, watching a VIFF presentation of  “Chinese Take-away”. Though the VIFF festival itself is long past, they continue to show foreign films, and they often appeal to my off-beat tastes. This film is Argentinian and a gentle, well-crafted comedy, with a couple of subversive political statements – primarily about police power and government ineptitude. These are not the main themes however, which are really about shared humanity, compassion and loneliness.

VIFF: Chinese Take-away

VIFF: Chinese Take-away

The lead character Roberto runs a small hardware shop in Buenos Aires, and is very set in his ways. He lives a simple life and enjoys simple pleasures too like freshly made chips/fries, black pudding and bull testicles. He is also an avid collector and scours the newspapers for stories of bizarre deaths from around the world. His uncomplicated life is turned on its head when he finds himself morally obliged to help a Chinese immigrant with no Spanish at all, in search of his uncle… who has moved with no forwarding address.

Roberto spends the film flip-flopping between what he feels is the right thing to do, and what is comfortable and familiar. Matters are complicated further when a friend’s sister visits and their previous affection is awkwardly rekindled.

This certainly isn’t a film for you if you’re into the crass Hollywood “in yer face” excuse-for-humour that is so prevalent these days. If you’re interested in keenly observed humanity and clever subtle humour though, this is a gem.

The director, Sebastian Borensztein is the son of Tato Bores, a popular political comedian on Argentinian TV. He was famous for a recurring sketch in which he would pretend to phone the president of the time, whoever it was, to voice his criticisms. With some of Argentina’s recent leaders, that was potentially risky.

The film, as I’ve mentioned, has a couple of political digs of its own, including a brief mention of the Falklands conflict of 1982 and a sly dig at the UK and BSE.

I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this film and would wholeheartedly recommend it. If you live in or around Vancouver  it’s on for a few more days yet. Check out the VIFF page for details.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald. They draw a parallel with “Amelie” which is definitely sound.

Oh, and the third stop on our journey of irrelevance? Well, let’s just say that the film has a truly memorable opening scene, inspired by a true incident reported on Russian TV.

TIME’s Best Portraits of 2012

27 12 2012

Time magazine has pulled together what it considers to be its best portrait shots from 2012. There are some stunners in there – some of “ordinary” people (at least before their faces became published internationally!)

This is one of my favourites – David Byrne and St. Vincent. Remember them? Their excellent video can be found on YouTube (can’t everything?)

Follow the link and enjoy the rest of the photos…

TIME’s Best Portraits of 2012 - LightBox

TIME’s Best Portraits of 2012 – LightBox.

Nora Batty’s seriously wrinkled stockings

15 12 2012

So if you’ve no idea who Nora Batty is, firstly check out a few classic episodes of Last of the Summer Wine. It’s based in Holmfirth, a lovely little place in West Yorkshire.

Kathy Staff as Nora Batty. Source Jane, over on Noisy Shoes

Anyway, apart from the inherent value attributed to it simply because it’s a mention of Yorkshire, the reference is entirely irrelevant. If you’ve already been and checked out Last Of the Summer Wine – I apologise. It’s not very funny, is it? But the scenery is worth it. I have no idea how they found so many non-raining days to film the series!! I can attest that a great way of upsetting your spousal partner is to frequently interject with “I’ve been there”. It works wonders at whittling away marital stability it seems.

Anyway, now we’re safely back from that cul-de-sac (Literally “bag’s bum” in French), on to the real tale…

I often have lunch at Murchie’s in Richmond, near my office. It’s actually their distribution centre, but they have a little café on the side which sells lovely salads and of course their luxuriant range of tea. The lovely serving wenches there (I jest – no comments thank-you. I wouldn’t DARE call them wenches to their faces. Or bottoms, for that matter) are very friendly and pleasant. To the extent that the whole point of having a salad at lunch seems lost on them. I often have a serving so large that it cascades apologetically over the tub (designed to standardise the portions!) and onto the paper plate added to the ensemble for the purpose. I always have Russian Caravan to drink. I am reportedly the only person to have it, yet am teased frequently with questions of whether I’m having “my usual green tea” or the Earl Grey.

Anyway, where was I? Holmfirth, Murchie’s, tea, ah yes…

So Murchie’s often have the radio going just to add a little ambiance to the otherwise rather stark room. They’ve done their best with the addition of a (non-functional) pot-bellied stove and some half-hearted Welsh dresser thing as a display cabinet, but when all’s said and done… it’s an industrial unit. And it looks like it!

But the music helps. I’m normally trying to read some book or other, and the music helps set the mood. Usually it’s Sirius satellite radio (why do North Americans pronounce it “serious”?!) The time of day I’m there, it’s some acoustic programme, and they often have classic songs being re-imagined either by the original artist or someone covering it. There’s no commentary (cheap radio production), but thanks to Shazam, I can usually figure out who is singing any songs I like, and I can acquire a version when I get home.

There was one tune on pretty frequent rotation, and it really hooked me. I used Shazam, and it turned out to be Norah Jones – Say Goodbye, from her brand new album Little Broken Hearts.

Bring me back the good old days,
When you let me misbehave.
Always knew, it wouldn’t last,
But if you ask, I’d go again.
Yeah, I’d go again.

Here she is performing it live

So anyway, I duly ended up getting the whole album, which is moody and opulent. There’s some boppy yet thoughtful tunes like Happy Pills

And the downright creepy Miriam. Ms Jones is plainly not someone to cross in matters of love!

Anyway, I now listen to this album on rotation in my car, alongside Regina Spektor, Coldplay, Mother Mother, Lloyd Cole (who was VERY cool and personally messaged me the other day!) and a bunch of other equally eclectic tunesmiths. And then I hear the other day that Ravi Shankar has died.

Wikipedia: Ravi Shankar

I confess that I was only vaguely aware of his work, and that was strictly in the orbit of George Harrison and the Beatles. A tiny fraction of his work and influence. And those two threads might have stayed forever blowing independently in the breeze until this evening. This evening (after watching Life of Pi), Mrs E casually mentioned that Norah Jones was his daughter! Turns out her full name is Geethali Norah Jones Shankar. Her half-sister Anoushka Shankar took after their dad and is an accomplished sitar player too.

Music it seems really does flow through your blood!


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