Sunday, 7 March 2010

Invictus

In a last-gasp effort, I have increased the number of Oscar nominees that I've watched to twelve, which - as I've never been that much of a movie freak - is probably a personal record. This weekend I saw Avatar (the less said the better... Okay, I will say this: it's like a screensaver, pretty, but no plot), In The Loop (an unfunny version of The Office against a backdrop of international politics and the threat of war) and Invictus.

Now, Wikipedia and IMDb both say the title and the plot point the film was named after are incorrect, in that it involved a different text (Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 Man in an Arena-speech, but this poem works so well I am inclined to forgive the makers. Also, Mr. Freeman appears to still be friends with Mr. Mandela and François Pienaar recieved Matt Damon at his house so the actor could study him, so the main characters involved did not seem to object.

And of course, it's such a powerful little poem:

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-- William E. Henley


I remember watching Nelson Mandela walk to freedom, I remember following the amazing '95 World Cup and therefore I may be biased, but this is one awesome movie. And apart from a few minor details it's all true!

Damon and Freeman and completely made me believe they were those who they portrayed, which is always harder when the subject is still alive, and deserve their nominations.

P.S. If you're able to watch BBC2 tonight, you can judge In The Loop for yourself. Dutch viewers with a subscription to Film1 or Caiway digital can watch animated short nomination A Matter of Loaf and Death, a Wallace and Grommit film, at 23:45 - with the coverage starting at midnight.

P.P.S. It's been a busy weekend, I also saw the better-than-average disaster movie 2012 and the very funny animation Planet 51.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Even more commandments?

Actually they're pretty good. "Borrowed" from Joe.My.God.: Christopher Hitchens discusses the old Ten Commandmends and suggests ten new ones (#8 is good, but I'm not sure I could keep it...):

Friday, 5 March 2010

Less than 28 years to go

I don't know if I'll have this job until my pension, but I'm enjoying myself. I make a lot of unbilled hours because I like certain things to be done a certain way (and if you want them done right, you have to do them yourself) and because they're helpful in expanding my skills. I'm also finding out a lot about office politics from my direct boss.

Apparently job prospects are looking up, but job-hopping is out - according to some other train commuter's free newspaper front page yesterday. A tenuous excuse to post this. I grew up listening to Donovan, my mother was a big fan, I could sing songs like Universal Soldier, Mellow Yellow and Colours by heart (still remember most of it now...)

Gold Watch Blues

I went up for my interview on the fourth day of July.
Personnel he questioned me until I nearly cried,
Made me fill in forms until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

He asked me how many jobs I'd had before.
He nearly had a heart attack when I answered, four.
Four jobs in twenty years, oh, this can never be
We only take on men who work until they die.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

He took me outside to where the gravestones stand in line.
This is where we bury them in quick-stone and in lime
And if you come to work for us on this you must agree,
That if you're going to die please do it during tea
Break!

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

This story that you heard you may think rather queer
But it is the truth you'll be surprised to hear.
I did not want no job upon the board,
I just wanted to take a broom and sweep the bloody floor.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.


-- Donovan Leitch --


PS. When I was typing in the label "pension" the predictive text thingy suggested "penis". How did this blog get so dirty?

PPS. No bananas involved, but I am quite mellow right now. Word of advise: don't get the munchies when one of the few things around are wasabi peanuts.

An Ideal Hypocrite


Remember to what a point your Puritanism in England has brought you. In old days nobody preferred to be a bit better than his neighbours. In fact, to be a bit better than one's neighbour was considered excessively vulgar and middle-class. Nowadays, with our modern mania for morality, every one has to pose as a paragon of purity, incorruptibility, and all the other seven deadly virtues - and what is the result? You all go over like ninepins - one after the other.

Mrs. Cheveley in: Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Masterful

Is the BBC trying to tell us something? Are they preparing us for another return of The Master? He's only just died, saving The Doctor's life in the grand finale of the Christmas special...

Now this Thursday, thanks to the programmers of BBC 1 and BBC 2, I plan to watch Masterchef, followed by Mastermind, then a brief interlude for QI and finally capped by Mastercrafts. They're doing stained glass this episode, even better (I think) than thatching and blacksmithing.

I took some pictures of the polling station as I was waiting in line for the local council elections, but I was trying to do it surreptitiously (the photography, not voting) and they didn't come out too well. It's in the chapel of a no longer existing monastery. After that it was used as a tannery or some such industry and then well into the twentieth century as the town pawn shop.