Blogathon 24/13 Film review: Cloud Atlas




ever one to take a contrary position, and in the face of views from one or two critics…




I went to watch Cloud Atlas this afternoon, with my expectationometer set to neutral.

My expectations were enormously exceeded.

Apart from some difficult-to-adjust-to editing during the first 15 minutes, Cloud Atlas is a very good film.

It is a behemoth of a story, held together by crisp writing, a very good cast and some beautiful dialogue.

Yes, the dodgy prosthetics do let the side down, but the prosthetics are not the story.

Yes, there are loose ends left trailing.

Yes there are minor structural problems.

However, none of these things are the story.

The story is a tale, told over six distinct segments, of how we interact with each other – through a number of different lifetimes.

The moral basis is a combination of zen/karma that sits easily in my world, though it will drive the religious extremists nuts.

Tom Hanks does a very nice job in all of his parts (but there should be a warning triangle around his – almost – Scottish accent).

Hugh Grant plays the Nuclear Boss like Hugh Grant but, surprisingly, he plays his other parts with considerably more flair.

Halle Berry performs well throughout.

But the film-stealer is the performance from the South Korean actress, Bae Doona, in her role as Sonmi~451.

It is impossible – for me, at least – to ignore the ‘love across the ages’ theme, and for those that believe in love at first sight, this thread is heartwarming.

I was delighted by Cloud Atlas.

Yes, it is a long film but it does not *seem* long.

Overall, this is one of the best pieces of all-round entertainment that I have had the pleasure of watching in recent years.

I wouldn’t want to watch it on a television, though. I think this film, like the story, is too big for the smaller screen (no matter how big ones plasma screen night be).

Cloud Atlas: 7.5/10

Blogathon 22/13 Decisions!




photo editor, can you change this picture please!






Tonight is, apparently, a ‘boys night out’.

There will be three of us. Two are due to arrive at my house at 7pm; we shall go out and eat and drink and be merry.

The two will stay the night at my house.

We could confine our activities to an evening in town, or we could get ourselves in to Oxford.

I’m thinking of an evening in town: Blue Boar, Company of Weavers, Hollybush, Eagle Tavern, and maybe The Fleece?

I need to make up the beds for my guests.

Or I could cancel – because of a crippling but temporary illness – and have a quiet night in with a mug of hot chocolate,  a plate of pasta and a DVD?


Decisions, decisions.

Blogathon 21/13 Stupids




I’m afraid it’s flooded, mate





The highway code for dual-carriageways, triple-carriageways and motorways, especially written for Audi drivers

  • You are allowed to use the left-hand lane (lane 1)
  • Actually, you are, by law, compelled to use the left-hand lane (lane 1) (unless you are overtaking another vehicle that is in the left-hand lane [lane 1])
  • When you wish to overtake another vehicle that is in the left-hand lane (lane 1), you should use the first overtaking lane (lane 2)
  • To change lanes from the left-hand lane (lane 1) to the first overtaking lane (lane 2), you must:
    • match your speed to that of any traffic that may be overtaking you
    • check your mirrors
    • glance over your right shoulder to validate your mirrors
    • if clear, signal
    • check your mirrors again and if still clear, manoeuvre (but only if it is clear to do so, and only if there is sufficient space in the first overtaking lane (lane 2), if there is not sufficient space, you must wait until it is clear to do so, until you pull out and then you may)
    • accelerate to the maximum speed limit (nb, the law does not permit you to exceed the speed limit in order to overtake; anyone who has told you otherwise is clearly a very stupid person)
  • When you have overtaken that vehicle, the law compels you to revert to the left-hand lane (lane 1)
  • Another vehicle, three miles ahead, in lane 1 does not constitute sufficient reason to stay out of the left-hand lane (lane 1)
  • No, not ever
  • You may use the second overtaking lane (lane 3) if you wish to overtake slow-moving traffic in lane 1 and the first overtaking lane (lane 2)
  • After using the second overtaking lane (lane 3), you are compelled to return to the left-hand lane (lane 1) as quickly as possible, using safe driving rules

I have come to realise, in recent weeks, that Audi drivers are special people. I have also come to realise that Audi drivers need all the help they can get, with driving on Britain’s roads.

I hope me laying out a few simple rules of the road are taken as they are meant.

(to help the simple-minded)

Blogathon 20/13 Trippin’?

Technology and Industry









I have been considering a road-trip, as the weather forecast got sunnier and the weather started to become warmer and less damp.

Head off, I thought to myself. Give yourself a few days away on the Bandit.

Maybe leave Thursday and come back Monday?

These thoughts sounded excellent in my head.

As a result, I have spent a lot of time looking at the map.

Somewhere in Europe (I thought to myself)?

A quick trip down to the Eurotunnel, and then head southwards from Calais? Head for the warmer plains of central France?

Yes, that became the plan, a plan that was formed just 48 hours ago.

This morning I checked the weather forecast and noticed that the warmer less damp spell is not going to be quite as warm as promised.

Not even on the warmer plains of Central France!

Suddenly there’s much less of a temperature difference between the UK, and mainland Europe – at least until one gets well south of Madrid.

And even in Sevilla (where it is currently 16c) it’s pouring with rain.

What’s the point of that, Spain?


I mean, yes, a road trip would be lovely, but if the mercury is struggling to hit 4c on the mainland, and it’s 5c in Falmouth, then…

[unspoken question]

So yeah, this road-trip isn’t looking, on paper, quite as it did in my head, a mere 48 hours ago.

In fact, in my head, this road-trip is now looking like it might not actually happen.

Not unless the weather does something weird and we find ourselves in the sunny 10c that was predicted three days ago.

Or unless I head down to Falmouth.

*tries to think why that would be a good idea*

Blogathon 19/13 HiTech?


I’m working from a remote location today.

I have two laptops, my Nexus 10, and my Samsung S3 phone.

Unfortunately, I have to connect to the Internet, now and then, to download/upload/edit various files.

I say unfortunately, because the WiFi connection is as strong as a spiders fart.

But that’s OK, because I can access H+ (or 3G at the very worst) via my Samsung S3, set the phone as a tethered WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth from my tablet (or either of the laptops), and Robert’s your Mother’s brother…

Instant portable WiFi connection to the Internet!

Except Vodafone have other plans…


Rubbish, obv.

Blogathon 18/13 Status update

This morning my Decree Absolute landed on the doormat.

That, as such, isn’t the subject of this post.

The British legal system is.

I would like to say that from the initial contact with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (as it is now known), right through to the very final step in the process, that dealing with the Courts has been simple and hassle-free.

I would like to say that, but it would be a complete falsehood.

Dealing with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service has not been easy. Using the court service has been hardship after hardship, compounded with difficulty after difficulty.

If ever a business – a public-facing service-provider – is bloated, over-done with idiotic staff and burdened with unnecessary red-tape, it is the British Courts.

We went through the divorce process without lawyers.

Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t need lawyers, the circumstances were stated and uncontested.

And the forms, that one needs to complete, are all online and downloadable.

But the forms have been written by legal administrators; they’re not in English – the forms are not in the every-day English that we use, they are not in the every-day English that all other forms are in.

Yes, I accept that they need to be ‘official’, but is that a good enough reason to make the forms incomprehensible?

Is that a good enough reason for publicly-accessible forms to be littered with words and phrases from two hundred years ago?

Instead of putting the compulsion on members of the public having to learn centuries-old terminology, the law (which, after all, exists to serve the public), should get a swift kick up the backside, and modernise itself.

The entire legal lexicon needs updating.

Every single legal document template needs modernising.

Because until these things have happened, the law (and the legal system) will remain out of reach of the public.

Until these modernisations have taken place, the law will be the exclusive preserve of the legal profession.

And that isn’t very public-facing.

That’s a cosy little club.

A cartel.

Of course, I don’t expect any rush from our political servants to update the legal system.

Not when one sees that 80% of the Front Benches are, erm, lawyers.

Blogathon 16/13 Nothin’

Erm, hi!

How are you?

What’s new?

Oh, I’m good, thanks. In fact I’m very good.

But if you’re expecting something with more weight and more value than this meaningless claptrap, then sadly you are going to be disappointed.

This is a weekend of full-on, high-octane, 100mph….


It’s going well so far:

  • Woke up at 7am (no alarm set)
  • Had breakfast in bed
  • Got up
  • Slung a load of laundry in the machine
  • Threw chemicals down the toilet
  • Washed up
  • Showered
  • Shaved
  • Dressed
  • Exchanged many text messages with three people
  • Drove to Sainsbury’s
  • Shopped (got the car washed and waxed while I did)
  • Came home
  • Put the shopping away
  • Unpacked the washing machine
  • Hung the laundry up to dry
  • Exchanged many text messages with two people
  • Got the Bandit out
  • Dressed appropriately
  • Cruised around the locale
  • Stopped for hot chocolate
  • Cruised some more
  • Came home
  • Put the Bandit away
  • Had a glass of fruit juice
  • Exchanged many text messages with one person
  • Showered (undressed first, obv)
  • Shaved (again)
  • Dressed (different clothes, obv)
  • Ate lots of healthy food (milk chocolate raisins are part of my five-a-day, yeah?)
  • And now I’m about to go out
  • Take a leisurely drive all the way over there *points*
  • There will be a takeaway and a DVD and a reasonably early night

So you see, as Saturdays go, this one is ticking all the right ‘restful’ boxes.

How has yours panned out?

Blogathon 15/13 Linguistics!

I have a recurring rant about the overuse of words, the misapplication of words, and those invented, meaningless, nonsense words.

Top of my ranty list, at the moment, is the word…

wait for it…

keep waiting…

almost there…

it is…

the word…


What the actual?

No, really.

What does ‘pre-order’ actually mean?

I’ll tell you what ‘pre-order’ means, shall I?

Tough, I’m going to anyway.

‘Pre-order’ means ‘to order something before it is widely available’.

Or, to put it another way, ‘pre-order’ means…

‘To order’.

And that, my friend, is just how I feel about one word.

But my general feelings about the continual misuse and misappropriation of the English Language are best summed up through the words of the late George Carlin.


Blogathon 12/13 Confidentiality? Blogathon

this post should be filed under the ‘is it me?’ category, if I had one

A friend has been admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford (hereafter known as ‘the JR’, which is nothing to do with fictional Texas-based oilmen, obv).

My first thought:
Holy shit, she’s so young! (she’s still at school)

My second thought:
Go see her and take some chocolate!

So I stuffed a large bag of large Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons (yes, two larges back there) in to my laptop rucksack, for one of those days when I could stretch some time to visit the JR.

Today was one of those days.


On my way through Oxford I diverted to the JR and (miraculously) found a parking space.

I schlepped (this is becoming my new favourite word) in to reception, walked up to the desk and gave the receptionist my most beamingest of smiles.

‘My friend [firstname] [surname] has been admitted [with condition]. Could you tell me which ward she’s in so I can drop in this Get Well Card and some chocolate?’ I asked, waving an envelope and bag of chocolate.

‘Can you tell me what you are to her?’

‘I’m a friend.’

‘No. I can’t tell you that’, replied the antipodean receptionist (she wasn’t actually in the antipodes, she was from there, but sitting in the JR).

My jaw thudded on to the desk.

‘Really??’ I responded, actually fitting two question marks in.

‘That would be a breach of our patient confidentiality rules’, said The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality (who I had mistakenly assumed to be a helpful receptionist).


She could sense my incredulity.

‘I’m not making this up!’ she flung in my face.

‘Hang on,’ I said nicely. ‘I’ve already told you the patient’s first name and her surname. I’ve told you the condition she has been admitted under. I can tell you her address. I can tell you she’s here. And yet you are telling me – for reasons of confidentiality – that you can’t tell me which ward I need to go to, to deliver this card and these chocolates??????????’

I could sense the receptionist counting each of those question marks (ten, in case you’re interested).

‘That’s what I’m telling you’.

I was tempted to ask which hospital directive she was following – and could she show me this directive in print – but I was so stunned at this new definition of ‘confidentiality’, that I picked my jaw up off the desk, turned around and left reception.

I stood outside the doors, in plain site of The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality, pulled out my phone, called the patient, and asked which ward she was imprisoned on.

The I walked straight in to reception, past The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality, walked down the corridor and in to the lift.

As I walked out of the lift to my friend’s ward I wondered what would have happened, a few minutes ago, if I had lied about my relationship and had said I was the patient’s step-brother or cousin, would The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality have granted me the information I had asked for?

Or would The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality have interrogated me, in tiny detail, over my friend’s physical and mental characteristics, until I eventually fluffed a question, and would she then have thrown me in to Hospital prison?

But seriously, on the simple say-so of ‘I’m related to this person’, or ‘I’m not related to this person’, this is now a point of patient confidentiality?


Dr Bonkers











picks up jaw and wanders off muttering how much the Daily Mail would love this story

Blogathon 11/13 Subjective!

unaccustomed as I am to being right on a massive scale…

I didn’t watch the BAFTAs last night, and my invitation sat at home on the table, as I struggled through some of the most hazardous driving conditions I’ve ever encountered, outside Northampton.

But I feel slightly smug that the Academy chose Argo as the Best Film. Slightly smug because I tipped Argo, as the Best Film of 2013, on December 29th.

With the Oscars coming up, I shall get my crystal ball out once again (oo-er, Matron!) and see if I can come up with an even more refined prediction.

Focussing on one niche award – Best Foreign Film – I would like to categorically state that the winner of the  Best Foreign Film for the 2013 Oscars should be…

drum roll…

The Spanish-language film No

However, No won’t win.

The good (but nowhere near as good as No) Amour will win.

It’s a political thing.

I’ve just finished watching No. I saw Amour a few weeks ago.

It is difficult to compare two randomly different films.

No is the story behind the Chilean ‘No’ campaign, a movement that ultimately ousted General Pinochet from power.

No is a lightly dramatised account of how the use of an advertising narrative transformed Chile, under the rule of a dictator, to a country of hope, in to a place where the subjects felt safe about voting ‘No’ (despite the dictator having the open support of both the UK and the USA governments).

Amour is the fictional account of a made up elderly French couple, and their dwindling lifespans.

Yes, my synopses highlights the importance, in my world, that each film has.

But really, No is the better film, even without Amour’s blatant audience-manipulation.

Putting No up against Amour in one category is, for me, exactly like putting All The Presidents Men up against Bambi.

The fluffy emotional film is going to win against the hard-edged factual one, every single time.

Which is a shame, because the better film will be overlooked.

ps: other awards at the Oscars will be:

Best Film:

Best Supporting Actress:
Anne Hathaway

Best Director:
Ang Lee (probably)

Best Actor:
Daniel Day Lewis (probably; but I would like it to be Bradley Cooper)

Best Cinematography:
Life of Pi

Best Film Editing:
I haven’t a clue, but how on earth did the disjointed Zero Dark Thirty get a nom for this?)

Best Visual Effects:
Life of Pi (obv)