Horsing about (a bit)

It’s been two months since Prem/Bob arrived at his new home in sunny Leicestershire, and his character is really showing through now.

From the gentle little wicker I get in the mornings, to the full-blown YES!’ of a wicker I get at tea-time, he’s proving he has a sense of occasion.

And a sense of humour.

Like when I’m skipping out and he clamps his teeth on the shavings fork and tries to carry it around the box for me.

And the way he won’t let me top up his water bucket without taking a good long pull at the water before I put it in.

And let’s also mention the way he won’t take water from the automatic drinker in the first place.

Such a character.

🙂

Prem/Bob is up to 15-minutes of in-hand walking per day.

The vet said he would rather that we didn’t use the walker, so for 15-minutes a day Prem/Bob and I walk purposefully around the arena.

After just ambling about, leaving random tracks in the equirubber/sand surface, I hit on a cunning plan to raise the boredom threshold.

We are walking almost every dressage test I’ve ever ridden (and a couple that I’ve only judged, not ridden).

We had a few sticky moments with Medium 71 the other day, but that was partly down to a young horse pratting about in a nearby paddock, and Prem’s/Bob’s natural inclination to run through the bridle (we almost didn’t stay at walk).

As well as following these patterns in walk, we are also working on our halt to walk, and walk to halt transitions.

They’re not exactly snappy yet, but at least these transitions are becoming established.

His halts are now usually square in front, but he trails his hind legs as if they were stuck on with Bluetack as an afterthought.

Bless.

Prem’s/Bob’s second leg-scan is due mid-to-late September.

I’m hoping that the Vet will say we can consider saddling up, even if we do need to keep the work at low-level, zero-impact.

In the meantime, we’re just going to keep working our way through British Dressage and British Eventing dressage tests.

An unexpected bonus of mucking Prem/Bob out twice a day is that I have shed 3/4 of a stone, and I’m nearly back at my riding competition weight.

Revolution!

Sam is away on business.

She’s supposed to be in Myanmar, before heading on to Vietnam, but Dubai airport was too busy to dock her arriving aircraft, so she missed her connecting flight.

Frankly, Emirates, it’s not much of a connection if the outbound flight won’t wait for passengers who are booked on it, when they’re sitting on another of your flights waiting to dock.

Anyway.

As a result of the Emirates/Dubai airport screw up, Sam has had to spend 24 hours in a Dubai hotel, at Emirates expense, and lose a working day of her itinerary.

Awesome.

Not.

But as you might expect, while the cat’s away the mice will play!

And oh boy has this mouse been playing?

Has he?

*sigh*

No.

This mouse is too diseased to do any playing.

Apart from a brief couple of laps around the village this evening, I haven’t even been up to taking the Ninja out this weekend.

Seriously.

It’s that bad.

There is the possibility that, tomorrow, after doing Prem (who is still called Prem and not yet named Bob), I shall pay a visit to the excellent chippy in the next village.

For some delicious potato-based foodstuff.

And perhaps some vomit Vimto.

If I’m well enough, obv.

But it is the Law of Sod that sayeth that a fine-weathered weekend with a free pass will be frittered away on illness.

Amen.

Anyway, what is this revolution of which you speak, I hear you ask?

It is me, my friends.

I am revolting.

In her absence I am shunning Sam’s instruction to use the dishwasher.

I AM WASHING THE DISHES BY HAND!

Revolution and rebellion are rife in this house.

Er.

Until she gets back,obv.

Film Blogathon 00/17: round-up

Strictly from a personal point of view, this has been an interesting challenge.

And ‘challenge’ has certainly been the right word.

In the writing, I have enjoyed experimenting with the narrative ‘voice’, and using cross-styles.

Reviewing films that were unwatchable rubbish alongside films that would be on the Top Hundred list of most people, has been interesting.

Finding the time, and originality needed, to make a review worth reading has been another part of the challenge.

And poor old Barry Norman dying, part-way through, almost seemed like an omen.

No, not Barry Cryer, as the Daily Fail put it:

Daily Mail getting it wrong again

Daily Mail getting it wrong again

This one. The real one:

Barry Norman

Barry Norman

I got a couple of tips from Young Masher, that have been added to my ‘watchlist’.

And Kennamatic gave us his view of the view of a couple of films worth looking at.

But it was a challenge.

And no, I wouldn’t do it again.

Thank you to my two co-conspirators for their support along the way.

But I’m out.

Truly madly deeply busily

It’s been a mad weekend.

Friday (though not the weekend) was mad.

Saturday was mad.

Sunday was mad-ish.

I feel that I went to work on Monday just to get away from the mad.

I am closing down a storage unit where most of my furniture, some clothing, and the majority of my ‘other’ belongings have been for the last two years.

The idea is that as the work on the house completes, space will become available, and I can bring my things in to the home.

Obviously there won’t be room in the house for absolutely everything, some things will stay in their boxes, and will shift to storage in the garage, or in the loft.

And some things will just get binned, after many years of loyal service *sniff*.

But the majority of things should be OK.

I had the trusty Man With A Van service booked for between 09.30 – 10.00 on Saturday.

I’d spent a few days beforehand making space at the house, tidying, and at the storage unit, starting to filter what I might be able to throw away.

On Saturday 09.30 came. And went.

So too did 10.00.

By 10.15 I had started phoning the Man With A Van company (straight to voicemail), and texting their mobile numbers (I have two).

By 10.30 there was a solid and consistent lack of response to (now) two voicemails and two texts.

By 10.45 the clock was fast approaching the point of no return, as I had to be out of the unit before Monday.

Sam made calls and found a van hire place in Long Eaton.

I knew I couldn’t move all that stuff myself, so started texting people who I thought might help out as paid labour.

I also asked Mark, off of Marks Munchies, the on-site café where the storage unit is.

Mark said he knew of someone who could probably step in. I offered a price. Mark said he’d get back to me.

I drove home to get my licence and the usual paperwork, and drove to Long Eaton to pick up a large van with a tail-lift.

As I was completing the paperwork for the van hire, Mark’s friend rang to say he was ready, willing and able, and was waiting for me at the storage unit.

I was just about to set off in the van when I got a text from an unrecognised number that said:

Hi just to let you know the driver is running late it will be about 2-2.30 when he gets to you thanks

I called the number. It was the wife of the Man With A Van.

I told Mrs Man With A Van that she was too late, that I was going to do this job by myself, and that I’d left various messages on Mr Man With A Van’s phone/voicemail throughout the morning, and a final message telling him he was off the job.

Mrs Man With A Van said Mr Man With A Van hadn’t told him any of this.

By 12.30 I was back at the storage unit, and we had prioritised the loading. Because I’m a planner. It’s what I do.

We grafted. We grafted hard.

At 15.30 we had filled the van, leaving only a few items behind that could be taken care of the next day.

That cup of tea we had, as soon as we got to the house, was most welcome.

We unloaded.

We grafted hard. Again.

By 16.45 all of the heavy items had been put away.

We left the smaller, lighter items in the back of the van overnight, and I took my helping pair of hands home.

I was back at the house by 17.15, but unfortunately this meant that we had missed the viewing of Despicable Me 3 that I had booked tickets for.

But I was probably too knackered to sit in the cinema and not fall asleep.

On Sunday I finished unloading the van and ruthlessly tore in to the task of sorting stuff in to the categories of:

  • Keep (use)
  • Keep (store)
  • Car boot
  • Skip

Then I took the van back to the hire place, drove back to the storage unit where I met Sam, where we filled the two cars with the left-overs, and went home.

More ruthless categorising took place.

And as a result of all that, I have a number of items on eBay, a large pile of stuff for a car boot sale, and a need for a skip.

Again.

I’m also very knackered.

That joke about going to work for a rest?

True words.

Film Blogathon 10/17: Leon

Because we are going to see Despicable Me 3 tomorrow, I felt I needed to step away from the cartoon genre…

Synopsis: A hit man befriends, and takes in to his life, a 12-year old orphan, and trains her as his apprentice

Leon is, essentially, a French art-house film that successfully muscles in on Hollywood turf.

A couple of the components for this Luc Besson vehicle are, in themselves, quite excellent.

The outstanding Eric Serra score, coupled with very contrasting performances from Besson regulars, Gary Oldman and Jean Reno, are just two components that lift this film above the average.

The characterisation is juxtapositional.

Reno, as the plant-obsessed, Gene Kelly-fan hitman is an interesting study.

Gary Oldman chews the scenery up as the drug-taking gangster who has nothing else to give us.

Nothing else to give us, apart from being a pivotal mechanism of wryness in the way the film is fashioned.

The script is a deft construction painted in humour, with a light finish of wit and irony.

Leon has the potential to shun style and go straight for the softer parts of the human audience, and yet it doesn’t.

The film plays on the burgeoning relationship between Jean Reno and the young Natalie Portman, whilst at the same time surprising the audience, through a couple of deft misdirections.

Leon is a clever film, but because of the genre, and the art-house feel, I wonder if it will ever get the audience it truly deserves.

Film Blogathon 09/17: バトル・ロワイアル (Battle Royale)

A long time ago (in film terms), and let’s be honest, seventeen years is a long time ago, Kenta Fukasaku wrote a screenplay based on Koushun Takami’s novel, and the film Battle Royale was born.

The irony that this independent Japanese film indirectly gave birth to the sprawling 2008 monstrosity that was The Hunger Games trilogy is not lost on me.

However, setting corporate greed, together with the need for the US film industry to ‘own’/invent everything, including stories that have actually been developed elsewhere aside, let’s look at the film.

Synopsis: In the near future, Japan institutes a programme to cope with rising youth crime. The solution is to make the youth of Japan toe the line of behaviour, by selecting a random class of 14 and 15 year-old children and packing them off to an island, where they are given weapons and three days to eliminate each other until a sole survivor remains. Look at what could happen to you if you don’t behave, kids.

So that’s totally The Hunger Games, yes?

Anyway.

The saddest thing about this very good film is that the certification, because of the violence depicted onscreen, restricts the viewing audience.

The brutal horror of man’s inhumanity to man is a lesson that should be widely taught, not shunned.

And this film could be a vehicle to convey that lesson.

For three days, 42 children are isolated on a remote island.

Their numbers steadily dwindle as they are killed in sometimes brief scenes that often ring uncomfortably true.

By the time you could have worked out who the children are, and how much you liked them, most of them have died.

And died in a succession of surprising, disturbing, touching, horribly funny or deeply upsetting ways.

It’s impossible to guess which of these neatly-uniformed youngsters is secretly a serial killer, a self-sacrificing hero, a born victim or simply another body count statistic.

Battle Royale is a film that never lets you settle down.

It sidesteps so rapidly between satire and splatter, and it offers the screen moments that will make the most hardened viewer cringe, as well as showing snatches of quiet melancholy that will haunt you for a long time.

And if you’re a hardened cynic, Battle Royale is worth watching because it gives you a real glimpse of what The Hunger Games could have been, if it hadn’t pandered to the massively superficial US audience.

Film Blogathon 08/17: Contact

Contact

Contact

Synopsis: How one woman’s search for extra-terrestrial life changes the world when she decodes a signal from deep space.

Based on a Carl Sagan novel, the film Contact was released in 1997, and you need to hang on to that fact.

Behind the scenes, the film was put together by a brilliant team.

Edited by the fantastic Arthur Schmidt, who worked with the awesome cinematography of Don Burgess (a director of photography of brilliant track record), this film makes me feel the same way that Close Encounters of the Third Kind used to make me feel.

The slow but near-perpetual build-up of momentum keeps excitement and pace running in near tandem.

There is not a single dull moment in Contact.

Everything in the film, whether visual or audio, everything in this film exists for a reason.

Contact is the perfect vehicle for Jodie Foster: a sharply-written storyline and a chance to showcase her broad range of ability.

She brings a breathless enthusiasm to the role, and to the film, and she contributes to the qualities that make Contact a stand-out film.

A most likeable second strand in the story is how the discovery of alien life brings in to focus the schism between science and religion, and it neatly points out the fundamental incompatibilities between the two.

If I was handing out stars, Contact would get four out of four, five out of five, six out of six or ten out of ten.

It is a perfect interpretation of a brilliantly-written book, by a high-thinking author.

Contact was released in 1997.

How many other films look this good when they have reached 20 years of age?

Film Blogathon 07/17: Tornado Warning (originally: Alien Tornado)

Synopsis: Aliens are lured to Earth by a strange electronic signal, and they appear to you and me as destructive electromagnetic tornadoes (really!). Brilliant high school student (not a cliché, honest), together with her father and weather/storm chaser blogger who is already involved in the study of these ‘tornadoes’ are struggling against time to prevent further disasters and to disable the signal to make these destructive aliens/pseudo tornadoes leave the planet.

This film is CGI-effects a go-go.

And not in a good way.

The story is set in the American mid-west. Or possibly in South Carolina.

An unpredicted tornado strikes a small farm, but it behaves like no tornado we’ve ever seen before.

Not only that, but the Official US Government Weather Watchdog denies that the tornado-strike ever happened.

There are a number of sub-plots designed to keep the viewer off guard:

  • The 17-year old daughter (who says of her dad ‘you’re so old’) who achieves the top 10 percentile at school and qualifies for a place at Chicago University
  • Her single-parent dad who hasn’t insured the farm, and has spent his deceased ex-wife’s life insurance payout just meeting financial ends (and not been telling his daughter about all these financial dire straits, obv)
  • The town cop who is from out of town and Who Has A Secret
  • The Sinister Top Secret Government Installation just outside town
  • The storm chaser with ten years experience who can just feel an instant barometric drop. Yeah, right, we’re all that gullible as well
  • The sinister-looking blacked out SUVs linked to the same Secret Government Installation. Maybe

Anyway, to the film.

Despite the very low budget, which was probably almost the same amount as our weekly household shopping bill, and despite a very silly plot, Tornado Warning isn’t too bad.

Oh, it is bad, yes.

It just isn’t too bad.

The lo-fi special effects look unconvincing, but that’s the point. You’re supposed to notice that those tornadoes aren’t as we know them.

And the storyline has more cheese than the entire town of Cheddar.

But the female lead (Stacey Asaro) is surprisingly strong in a role that most people would find challenging.

Contrastingly, the head bad guy from the sinister SUVs is embarrassingly badly acted by David Jensen (no, not that one, another one).

But despite the childish plot and the unavoidable potholes of bad acting, there are things to enjoy about this low-budget flick.

I’m not too sure what they are yet, but I’ll let you know when I work out what they are.

Film Blogathon 06/17: The House Bunny

I know right?

There’s this girl?

And she’s like an actual Playboy Bunny?

You know?

Actually lives with Hugh Heffner in his mansion and everything?

But for reasons too complicated to explain (or too complicated for the audience to understand), she decides to leave the Playboy Mansion?

But this makes her homeless?

I know, right?

Like a poor person?

So she needs to find a place to live, because, like, we all do, right?

So she decides to get a job as a House Mom in a Soriety House on campus at College?

So she gets a job as a House Bunny Mom at the Zeta House?

And the girls who live at Zeta House are all, you know, really really unfortunate looking?

Like there’s a Goth with loads of facial piercing, and there’s a girl in a torso-brace, and there’s a girl who is like so like you know, plain, right? And there’s another girl who is so grossly pregnant that she looks just sort of f.a.t. you know?

Anyway, the House Bunny Mom has to get lots of pledges from lots of new students so that they will join the house, otherwise Mean Mrs Hagstrom is going to Close Down The House, right?

So the House Bunny Mom just goes about turning everything around and making the lives of those unfortunate girls so much better, while Hugh Heffner sits in his Mansion getting really miserable because his favourite bunny has left him, and eats lots of ice cream because that’s what we do when we’re down, yeah?

But while House Bunny Mom is being real cool and also turning everything around the House Bunny Mom messes up her own personal life because she seems to have the interaction skills of a cabbage, right?

But in the end, the House Bunny Mom gets everyone straightened out, and Zeta House gets all of the pledges they needed to have, and Hugh Heffner gets to spend the rest of his life in the Playboy Mansion with all his other Playboy bunnies and he gets over the ice cream phase and just chills out with lots of those other Playboy Bunnies and the House Bunny Mom finally gets it together with Oliver and they all live happily ever after?

I know, right?

Film Blogathon 05/17: M:I-2

M:I-2

M:I-2

Mission Impossible 2 (An Accent Too Far)

M:I-2 is an odd film which features an impossible implausible plot and:

  • An arch baddie with a bad Scottish accent
  • A sub baddie with a bad Australian accent
  • A goodie with a bad Australian accent, and
  • A goodie with a bad English accent.

However the film is jammed full of hi-tech goodies such as:
Those rubberish face-masks that let the wearer be someone else, even though they’re a different height and a completely different build
Tom Cruise’s Triumph Speed Triple having an auto-rear-tyre-change function, that somehow flips the rear tyre from slicks to roads, to cross-country and back to roads again, all in the space of one fast pursuit.

Yet even all of these technological marvels fail to lift MI: 2 out of the bathtub of mediocrity that it fell in to, in an early scene in Cadiz.

And the predictably obvious ‘fight to the death’ that Mr Cruise has with the arch baddie is just dull.

Actually no, it isn’t just dull.

It’s tiresomely dull.

So is the soundtrack.

I’m not sure what happened to MI: 2, but somewhere along the way, probably in a workshop deep within the creative phase, the film got out of control, like a rampaging bull in a shop in the middle of China.

M:I-2 should have been put to sleep, humanely.

But instead they went ahead and finished it.

I wish they hadn’t.

And I watched it.

I wish I hadn’t.

It’s rubbish.