Thursday 24 February 2005

I, Robot (Alex Proyas, 2004)

As an old fan of Isaac Asimov, I was really looking forward to this film. I read tons of science fiction as a kid. It's probably a good thing that I don't remember the "I, Robot" book very well.

I did enjoy the film but I wouldn't rave about it. Visually, it was a treat and I watched the DVD a second time so I could pause it to have a good look at the scenes. The story is quite good and it's too bad the script didn't explore the ethics and issues of robots a bit deeper.

I can't quite put my finger on it but I didn't find the film that involving - not like Artificial Intelligence. I didn't care much for the main character; Del Spooner played by Will Smith. The film didn't need a tough cop with a chip on the shoulder. It's such a cliche. He just needed to be tormented. All the other characters felt flat. In many ways, the NS-5 robot had the best lines.

Catwoman (Pitof, 2004)

Catwoman has been pretty widely panned but I didn't think it was all that bad. It's standard Hollywood light entertainment. Big on effects, low on script. But watching Halle Berry in her Catwoman costume made it quite worthwhile to me.Gorgeous!

Meanwhile, my daughter really loved the film. Catwoman is a female super hero/villian and she finally got to see a woman that plays hard and kicks butt. It inspired R* to design her own catwoman mask and costume that she would like to make. That has to make it a good film.

It's interesting that in the end, Catwoman had to face a female protaganist. I don't think our society likes to see woman beating men - at least not without very black and white motivation.

Thursday 17 February 2005

Kyoto Protocol

You probably noticed that the Kyoto Protocol came into effect yesterday. Overall, I'm pretty pessimistic that human-kind can get their act together to avert disasterous climate change. It's going to be a matter of too little, too late. Nevertheless, it's great news that we have the Kyoto Protocol even though it doesn't go far enough and the US has shamefully refused to participate. It's great news not because it will be effective but because it's the only global forum, process and framework around for a co-ordinated effort to address climate change. My hope is that version two will be effective.

My prediction is that it will take some major environmental damage to occur before there is enough political will to create effective solutions and we can get past this ridiculous notion of fixing the problem without impacting economies. I think the big questions will be how much damage will be done by then and will it be fixable?

For some interesting photo's of climate change, check out World View Of Global Warming.

Wednesday 16 February 2005

Tower Of London

Yesterday we went and visit the Tower Of London. The kids are on half term break and Jenny wanted to get out of the house. It's one the major London tourist attractions that we still hadn't visited and K* had been learning about it in school.

The White TowerYeoman Warder

It's still early in the year so the crowds were thin. For most of the year, the place is packed; that's one of the reasons we haven't visited before. Still, it was pretty chilly walking around.

Of all the historic building in England, the Tower reigns supreme as the place where history happened. There's lots to see and read. We went on the guided tour. The guide (pictured above) was very funny with many well rehearsed jokes. We visited the chapel, the ravens, the crown jewels and the armories in the White Tower. We ran out of time before we could go see the Bloody Tower and some of the other displays.

Overall, it's well worth it when it's not so crowded. If you like to look at everything, you need four to five hours.

Monday 14 February 2005

Oscar Peterson

I recently discovered that I completely missed out on the Cream reunion. Ahhh!!! Eric Clapton is playing with the original members of Cream for four gigs at the Royal Albert Hall. All the tickets sold out a couple of weeks ago but I'm hunting around for some.

Meanwhile I started looking around at who else was coming to the Royal Albert Hall and discovered that Oscar Peterson is performing on July 1st. I've bought two tickets. Anyone else interested?

I'm also planning to go see the Australian Pink Floyd show again this April. They're a great tribute band and the tickets are reasonably priced.

Free Kama Sutra

Don't ask me how I ran into this free Kama Sutra (and more). Considering it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share it. Take care with some of those positions though!

Chinese New Year

Each year the Victoria & Albert Museum has a programme to celebrate Chinese New Year so we trundled on down there last Saturday with the kids dressed up in their best Chinese costumes.

The Rapheal room was taken over with various stalls and activites such as tea making, Chinese chess and calligraphy. We watched the Taiwan Toa-Thiu-Thia puppet show (Tale of the Marriage of Two Mice). There was an activity cart in the room displaying the museum's Chinese antiquity collection. K* got to make a mask of a temple guardian.  K* also fed a angpau packet to the Lion during the Lion Dance (R* is still scared of the Lion).

Jenny managed to get free tickets for the cultural performances in the lecture hall so we were treated to demonstrations of Shaolin Temple Kung Fun, a Chinese Yaogu Dance Troupe and performances by the Beijing Ballet. The Baijing Ballet was the highlight for me.

Beijing Ballet Students

So it's a great place to celebrate Chinese New Year and it's been getting more popular every year. We finished off the day appropriately enough at a Chinese restaurant. On Sunday, Jenny and her mom cooked up a traditional storm for some family and friends.

Gung Hey Fatt Choy!

The Passion Of The Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)

Finally saw this controversial film about the final days of Jesus Christ but I don't see what the fuss was about. Sure the scourging and suffering is brutal and graphic but I think Gibson went a bit over the top with it. I don't see how anyone could stand up after that! The attention to Biblical detail seemed good (I'm no expert) and I was surprised that the film was shot in Latin and Aramaic with English subtitles. Nice touch.

I can certainly see the impact it would have on a Christian audience. Now wouldn't it be really interesting to have other religious stories and texts brought to life on film now that the technology is available? Something from the Koran maybe?

Tuesday 8 February 2005

Adrian Mole and The Weapons of Mass Destruction (Sue Townsend, 2004)

Managed to speed read this book in two days over my ski holiday. I had read the first Adrian Mole book (the diary of a 13 3/4 year-old) ages ago but hadn't kept up with the series. In this diary, he's now an angst ridden 38 year-old in the year 2003. It's easy reading and light hearted as you weave through his messy personal life and comments on New Labour and the looming Iraq war. I was engrossed enough to stay up to two am in the morning to finish it. Good fun and a recommended bit of escapism. Will mainly make sense to a British audience.

Back From Skiing

LuchonMade it back from skiing but I'm very sore. Overall, I think all the leg exercises helped. However, while nicely whooshing down a red run, I lost my balance and inadvertently attempted the splits and wiped out. Ouch! I think I've ruined some tendons or muscles in a rather private part of my anatomy. Flexible, I am not.

I've got some pictures to post but my computer video card seems to have died of loneliness while I was away. Once I have it replaced, I'll post a few and write more about the trip.

Wednesday 2 February 2005

Gone Skiing

There won't be any posts for about week as I'm away skiing. I'm off to Luchon Superbagneres nestled in the French Pyrenee's. An ex-colleague has rented this villa and a friend and I are taking up his generous offer to join him. Tomorrow we leave on a Ryan Air flight to Pau where we've rented a car for the drive up to Luchon.

I'm praying that the last three weeks of exercise will stave off my legs turning to jelly on the slopes. At least for a little while!