Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to understand cities

Lots of people are scared of cities. But the bigger and livelier the city, the safer you are, because there are more people around to witness bad stuff.

New Samuel Beckett Play found

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Three Lee Marvin films

Recently I have watched three Lee Marvin films: Seven Men from Now (1956), Point Blank (1967) and The Big Red One [restored edition] (1980). Lee Marvin was a good actor.

In Seven Men, a western, he is a villain, but his role is initially ambiguous. His granite face doesn't move much but his eyes make up for everything, expressing everything about his character. By the end I was rooting for him to survive, but instead he goes up against the sheriff one on one with inevitable consequences. This is a great movie, a gem of simplicity and style.

In Point Blank Lee Marvin is the protagonist in a John Boorman neo-noir thriller. The scenes at Alcatraz are great, and Angie Dickinson takes her clothes off (briefly). Even an amateur like me can see that this film was influential on a lot of 70's thrillers. One thing I liked is how people feel pain: a guy who Lee Marvin punches in the balls is rolling round in agony for ages. The Big Red One is a director's movie. Sam Fuller made a 270 minute version that was mercilessly cut, and it took 25 years for an unbutchered version to be released. It shows the war as a horror, and as a joke at the same time. I had always thought of Lee Marvin as a bit of a joke, but now I see he was a stylish actor. But you wouldn't want to mess with him.

How to win the World Cup, part 1

Alan Ball was 21 in 1966.

When I was preparing for the World Cup, Alf Ramsey came over to me and asked if I had a dog. I had, and he asked if I threw it a ball or a stick. I knew he was trying to get something out of me so I said 'a ball'. And then he said does he bring it back to you? 'Yes, and sometimes he brings it right to my feet.'

'That's what I want you to do for Bobby Charlton,' Alf said. 'I want you and Nobby Stiles to bring the ball to his feet.' He wanted the pair of us to sacrifice ourselves for the team. We did and we won and now others will have to do that for Rooney.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cross breeding literary genres

I have just finished reading His Majesty’s Dragon (UK title: Temeraire) by Naomi Novik. It was lot of fun and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series. The story is basically Patrick O’Brien plus Dragons. This is such a brilliant idea that I am researching other cross-genre breedings. After all, what is Harry Potter but English Boarding School plus Fantasy? And the Name of the Rose is just Sherlock Holmes in a medieval setting. My most brilliant, money-making idea so far is Cthulhu Mythos plus Western.

OMG underground submarine base!

What is it about secret underground stuff that fascinates me so much? Maybe it's too much D&D at an impressionable age. Whatever the reason, this former Soviet submarine base at Balaklava is fantastic.

Extra! more photos of the underground base

Extra! Russian Thieves Break Into Soviet-Era Missile Silo to Find it Filled With Money Bills

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Alan Shearer was a cheat

Alan Shearer is a man of talent and determination. Unfortunately he chose the dark side and used his talent to cheat. And somehow the print and TV journalists in the UK will not call him on it. A few years ago I saw him ‘beat’ Wes Brown and run away with the ball. Brown ‘slipped’ said the commentators, when the replay showed Shearer cleverly grabbing Brown’s shorts to push him over. Time and again we see Shearer elbow a defender in the face and get away with it. He uses his superb awareness of his surroundings to pull shirts on the referee’s blind side. Now he’s reached the end of his playing career I think we should all state clearly: Alan Shearer was a cheat.

Are you calling me a hippy?

I Am A: True Neutral Gnome Ranger Druid

Alignment: True Neutral characters are very rare. They believe that balance is the most important thing, and will not side with any other force. They will do whatever is necessary to preserve that balance, even if it means switching allegiances suddenly.

Race: Gnomes are also short, like dwarves, but much skinnier. They have no beards, and are very inclined towards technology, although they have been known to dabble in magic, too. They tend to be fun-loving and fond of jokes and humor. Some gnomes live underground, and some live in cities and villages. They are very tolerant of other races, and are generally well-liked, though occasionally considered frivolous.

Primary Class: Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class: Druids are a special variety of Cleric who serves the Earth, and can call upon the power in the earth to accomplish their goals. They tend to be somewhat fanatical about defending natural settings.

Deity: Silvanus is the True Neutral god of nature. He is also known as the Patron of Druids. His followers believe in the perfect balance of nature, and believe that nature's bounty is preferable to any other 'civilizing' method. They wear leather or metallic scale mail, constructed of leaf-shaped scales. Silvanus's symbol is an oak leaf.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The number of the beast

666 Isn't this when Michael Lisboa's getting married? It is also the National Day Of Slayer.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


When I were young, you couldn't choose your own nickname. You were lucky if you got one at all. Nowadays youngsters just choose their own.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Bicycle Thief is scarier than Oldboy

Ian has been talking about Oldboy. The New York Times magazine had a long article about Oldboy's director, Park Chanwook (warning: this article contains spoilers). And I have been watching The Bicycle Thief. The Bicycle Thief is a realist Italian movie, set in the post war depression in Italy. Oldboy is a hundred times more violent, and a million times more graphic. But the Bicycle Thief scared me more. I was supposed to make lunch for my family but I could not stop watching. I think being a parent must turn you into a wimp.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A view into someone else's life

Nee Naw is the sound that emergency vehicles make in the UK.