Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Carms' Books

Book 13 "The Once and Future King" T H White

Well this is another one of those squillions of books on the Arthurian Legend, the difference being this one has been around for a while now. It was written in 1939 and has some interesting parallels to World War I & II. I love everything Arthurian, always have, and this one has been on my meant to read list for a while now. Unfortunately it wasn't as fantastic as I was hoping it would be. It is actually five novellas that have been made into one volume, which is how White originally wanted it - the first being the sword in the stone - the same story made into the disney flick. Some parts of the story are really good, however some parts are quite slow, and White has a bizarre tendency to go off on crazy non-sensical tangents which is a little disconcerting at times. All in all it wasn't a bad read, but definately not up there with some of the other takes on the legend that I've read.

2.5 Knights of the round table.

Book 14 "The Second Generation" Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman

Ok ok, it's a Dragonlance book, but I never played Dungeons and Dragons!! :o) This is basically set after the Legends and Chronicles and is a set of 5 short stories telling about some of the offspring of the characters from the other sets of books. For the most part, the stories are really great. They reference many of the old characters and actively involve some of the others, including Tanis, Caramon and Raistlin, characters who I particularly like. The best of the stories were probably The Legacy and The Sacrifice. The first was about one of Caramon's sons who is a fledgling mage named Palin. He takes after his uncle Raistlin who was the most powerful mage on Krynn and tried to take over the world. He is summoned to the Tower of High Sorcery and has to go through a gruelling test. Very cool. The Sacrifice is about Tanis and Laurana's son Gil, caught in the policitcal in fighting between the two factions of elves. Gil has to make a difficult decision to save the lives of his people. Yeah ok, so it's not Shakespeare, but I love 'em. There a good easy read and the characters are cool.

3.5 Kids of the Lance.


More Cats!

That's right! Another Cat Empire gig. And this one also did rock muchly. I really, really like their new stuff, and they played an awesome mix of new and old stuff. It is true that there were a few funken druckwits at the gig, most of whom seemed to be concentrated right where we were standing, but a few well-placed elbows soon saw to that. We had a little boogey, sang along to the songs we knew and even got Paul Kelly's "Dumb Things" as an encore. Bloody Brilliant!

Book 19

"Halo: The Flood" by William C. Dietz

And then there was the book based on the game itself, and it was... well... kinda crap. Yes, it was cool to read bits based on the cut-scenes in the game. Yes, it was cool to see a second, parrallel plot that centered around the Marines that survived the crash. Yes, the action scenes were quite well written, but the truth is that there were quite a few areas where it was clunky. Oh, and the Flood weren't very well described. And he repeated imself on more than one ocassion (including once within a single paragraph). And there was some gender confusion amongst the characters (meaning that on of them changed from a boy to a girl a couple of times, not that they were tranvestites). It wasn't a dreadful book, but neither was it particularly good.

Two dead carrier-forms.

Book 18

"Halo: Fall Of The Reach" by Eric Nylund

It was thin, it was on the bookshelf and I hadn't read it, so I figured I'd give it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised. This is the prequel for the game Halo (if you don't know what I'm talking about, then get of the internet and go back to the cave you live in) and tells the story of how the Spartans were picked and how the Covenant kicked the Earth forces' arse.

The action sequences are slick and well-written, giving a real sense of the battelfield. The plot itself runs smoothly, if predicatbly, and the characters even manage to have some personality. There's more than enough alien-killing and militaristic expansion to keep the hard-core sci-fi fan happy. The main downfall is the Nylund's description of the weapons and technology is often-times clunky. Still, that is only a small failing in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable book.

Three and a half raised-from-a-child-cybernetically-enhanced soldiers.

Book 17

"Making History" by Stephen Fry

If the words time travel, Stephen Fry and alternate history don't get you excited, then this is not the book for you. If, however, you are a person of taste and wit, who enjoys reading masterful prose (and screenplays) and wants to see what the science fiction genre can do, then you'll love "Making History". The basic gist of the story is that a PhD history student whose thesis is about the early life of Hitler runs into - literally - a German ex-patriate physics professor whose work is in temporal phsyics. Oh, and his father was in Auschwitz. Get where this is going?

The writing is, as you would think, amazing. The plot moves smoothly and cleverly, and there are more than a couple of genuine twists. The temporal phsyics work well, and ther are no staggering paradoxes that leapt out at me. Oh, and it's really funny, too.

Four and a half time machines out of five.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Watching videos

Just cause it's on the screen now...


More testings

This time it was the Looong Scientific Personality test. Which is either based on the Keirsey Bates MBTI test, or is the actual Keirsey Bates MBTI test. I wasn't entirely sure. I did turn out to be a "Provider" and got a really long summary...

"Providers, a subgroup of the Guardians, take it upon themselves to arrange for the health and welfare of those in their care, as well as being quite sociable. Wherever they go, Providers take up the role of social contributor, happily giving their time and energy to make sure that the needs of others are met, that traditions are supported and developed, and that social functions are a success. Providers are extremely sensitive to the feelings of others, which makes them perhaps the most sympathetic of all the types, but which also leaves them rather self-conscious, that is, highly sensitive to what others think of them. Because of this Providers can be crushed by personal criticism, and will work most effectively when given ample appreciation both for themselves personally and for the service they give to others. This is not to say that Providers are afraid to express their own emotional reactions. They are quick to like and dislike—and don’t mind saying so—tending to put on a pedestal whatever or whoever they admire, and to come down hard on those people and issues they don’t care for. You share your type with 10% of the population.
As a romantic partner, you work hard to nuture and protect your relationships. You go to great lengths to maintain harmony and are motivated to resolve conflicts. You have a very clear idea of what is important to you and do best when your partner shares those same values. You want your partner to be loving, commited, and willing to support your frequently overwelming feelings and reactions. You feel most appreciated when your partner is kind, considerate, and helpful, and compliments you often on your hard work in their behalf."

Friday, April 08, 2005


Carmen has ruined me.

There was a time - a great, heroic, Wagnerian time - when I could watch any film, any time and remain dry-eyed. After my childish, cry at ET years I moved on to violence and comedies and anything vaguely romantic, well , that was just silly. Did nothing for me. No connection there, no emotional impact.

Even as I grew older and started becoming involved in romance myself, I was still largely immune to the power that filmmakers have of pushing emotional buttons. Actually, that's not true. I would cheer the hero and boo the villain whenever they wanted. I would laugh at comedies and jump at thrillers. But I was, for the most part, dry of eye and un-weepy.

And then along comes Carmen, who is - even she will admit - the perfect audience for any romantic or emotional aspect of a film. Whenever filmmakers think "now this bit will really get people", Carmen is the people of whom they speak. She cries at everything. And now she got me started.

I teared up no less than three times during The Return Of The King, and tonight we watched Love Actually (which, by the by, is a fantastic film) and I got blurry of vision on more than one occasion. I've turned into a wuss! What's next? Watching the soaps and caring who's flirting with whom? Actually giving a crap which comatose accident victim is going to wake up and tell them all that it was Timmy that caused the bus to veer off the road into the ravine?

Of course, Carmen still remains twelve times blokier than me, despite her predisposition to crying in films, at the TV and when something sad happens to a puppy.

I hope she doesn't read this and hit me.

Love you, honey!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

If only...

We had an unannounced tea break at work today when the power went out to half of Civic. Fortunately, I had just finished being up in the fly tower on top of a ladder (where there are no emergency lights, by the by), so it was no skin of my nose. And sitting around waiting for it to come back on, I couldn't help but think how cool it would be if it was a heist what done it. A nice, Ocean's Eleven-style, no one gets hurt heist, of course, rather than a bad, lots of guns and bodies heist like in Reservoir Dogs.

Sometimes my brain is a different and special place.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I have lurgy, I'm tired, I have stuff I need to do tonight so I can't just go to bed and I'm not going to have anything resembling spare money for at least 2 weeks.

I am a grumpy Euan tonight... :(

And now I'm bitching at you all, which also makes me grumpy... :(

That said, I'm not on an earthquake ravaged island in Indonesia, I'm not being shot at because of what I do (or don't) believe in and no one is trying to wipe my family/race/creed off the face of the planet. Things could be a damn sight worse.

I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and I'm going to get snuggles tomorrow night, so I guess it doesnae suck too bad to be me. It's all about perspective.

Book 16

"House Of Cards" by Michael Dobbs

First off, let me say that no I didn't read this whole book in just over three days. I actually started it a while ago, but only just got back into it. And I'm sorry to say I was more than a little disappointed. Francis Urquhart is one of my favourite villains of all time. Or is that heroes? :) That said, I should point out that I base this opinion on the TV mini-series(s) and the excellent job Sir Ian Richardson (acting legend that he is) does of making him one of the most likeable bastards ever. So imagine how sad I was when I read the book that spawned this brilliant character and found him not the in control, urbane, charming schemer of the series but a nicotine stained, uncertain (sometimes) man who manages merely to be kinda creepy.

If you've seen the series, then I can say that the story is roughly the same, with the political back-biting and intrigues, however the series does depart from the book in several significant ways. I won't go into them here, because they're huge spoilers. If you haven't seen the series, I'll say that the plot centres on Francis Urquhart (the Chief Whip for the ruling political party in the UK) getting his revenge on the Prime Minister who failed to reward him for his years of hard work, and his (Urquhart's) machinatoins as he tries for the job of PM himself. Piecing together the true story behind the public face is young, up-and-coming, female reporter by the name of Mattie Storin. "House Of Cards" is a sharp, well-plotted thriller that obeys it's own logic to the letter. It also doesn't fall into the 'give the heroine a sudden leap of logic to get her the answers' trap that some thrillers do.

I just wish I'd read the book before I'd seen the show. Dobb's writing is smooth and well-paced, but for a visually- and theatrically-minded person such as myself, Sir Ian's Urquhart kept popping up and influencing my opinion. Sorry, Mr Dobbs.

3 cocaine-addicted PR men out of 5.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

More tests...

And guess what? It turns out my personal weapon is the Desert Eagle.

"One of the most powerful handguns in production, the Desert Eagle is a heavy punch in a small package. Its reliability and speed are remarkable for a gun with such high caliber. Your enemies won't stand a chance as you fell them bullet by bullet."

Pretty cool result, I reckon.

And the 100 question purity test rates me at 71%, which is mostly innocent.

And if I were in 1400, I'd be the Harlequin.

"You are a mystery, a jack-of-all-trades. You have the king's ear, but also listen to murmurings of the common folk. You believe in the value of force and also literature. Truly you are the puzzlement of the age. "

Book 15

"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown

So Carmen told me I had to read the book. And so did Sam. And my Dad said he hated it. I figured I'd give it a go, so what did I think?

Well, I think that Mr Brown maybe needs to learn how to slip his research (or supposed research) into his work a little more subtly. Every two pages, he has a habit of waving his hands in the reader's face and yelling "LOOK WHAT I KNOW!"

That said, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I'm not going to say that it moved my world or that I now believe absolutely in the Sacred Feminine, but it was a pacy thriller that flowed smoothly and worked well in it's own world. The fact that it all happened within the space of about 24 hours, without the consequent and abitrary extensions of time that some thrillers suffer from. The villain isn't a one dimensional bugbear with no redeeming features, and the hero and heroine only kinda get together, as opposed to the gratuitous sex that often mars the genre.

Not a bad book to read, and definitely one to grab if you're going on a long plane flight, "The Da Vinci" is worth 3 and a half Templar conspiracy theories out of five.

Goodie Goodie Yum Yum!!!!

I can't believe I forgot to tell you guys about the Goodies! I saw them on the 10th of March with Cal, November, Carmen, Sam IV, Nick and Eliane and they were fuckin' awesome!

When we got the tickets - largely thanks to November, who bought a whole bunch of early-bird tickets on her credit card - we were very lucky. The first show they had sold out in 32hrs, and so they put on a second show - which also sold out. So we got tickets - quite early - and had a few weeks to think about it and I have to be honest and say that I was a little worried. My worry was that the show would be 3 sad old gits running around trying to prat fall without breaking their hips. I was a little worried.

However, when we got there and saw them... well, they just fuckin' rocked! It was basically a night of them answering e-mails, performing skits and showing a few of their own favourite clips. And I nearly hurt myself laughing. They did a radio show about Jack the Ripper that was classic, Graeme did some props comedy around "animals for children" that had me weeping with laughter and it was just the perfect show. Easily my equal favourite comedy gig I've ever seen, I was so very impressed with how they handled everything. Sure, they came out at the start in a 3-person walking frame, and then sat down in their own personalised chairs. Tim's was Union Jack covered, Bill's was flower-child-y and Graeme's was brown corduroy. Bill and Tim still look roughly the same, but Graeme is so very different.

These guys have been living and breathing comedy for so long, their delivery is as close to perfect as I've ever seen. Graeme is a natural straight man par excelence, Bill can misdirect like nobody's business and Tim's funny voices and characters are second to practically none. What can I say? These guys know their shit.

In case I'm being ambiguous, I want to say that this is one of the best nights of theatre I have ever enjoyed. I know a few people out there thought they were lame, and rested on their laurels (with the showing of video clips, et al), but I thought it was the perfect show for them to do. They addressed questions from their fanbase, were friendly and engaging and overall... fuck, it was great.

If you saw that show and thought they weren't good, or didn't make a decent impression, then you need to accept that you live in the real world and it's unlikely you'll be bombarded with shows that meet your apparently vertiginous standards. What do you expect when you see a piece of theatre? A spontaneous orgasm? Fireworks? Well, they had the fireworks, but come on... I honestly don't know what more one could've expected.

The Goodies get five crushed trandems out of five and thank god they came.