Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
J. Lee on Wedding photography (5): Photography!
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Michael Jennings on Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
6000 on Cats without tails are not scary
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Most recent entries
- Steve Davies talk last night
- Emmanuel Todd links
- the Norlonto Review is back!
- There are cranes and there are cranes
- Savoy cat
- Spot the Samsung connection
- Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
- Cassette iPhone photographer
- Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
- Testing again
- BMdotCOM insult of the day
- Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
- BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
- Wedding photography (5): Photography!
- Phablet news
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Communities Dominate Brands
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Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
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Everything I Say is Right
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Movies
Yesterday, I lived my life, but I am determined, having started, to finish telling you about last Thursday.
So, okay, I have now arrived at Westminster Tube Station.
Most tube stations consist of lots of underground tubes, not just for the trains but also for the people. Westminster Tube Station is different.
In its original form, it was a regular tube station, made entirely out of tubes. But then they built Portcullis House across the road from Big Ben and Parliament, the one with the giant chimneys on top, where MPs now have vast new quantities of office space to wreak their havoc. Many think powerful MPs are a good thing, because they will “hold the executive to account” better, but what they mostly now do is nag the executive to bite off more and more unchewable activity, and complain if the executive ever doesn’t.
While they were building Portcullis House, they combined that with doing a total rebuild of the tube station right underneath it.
And this time around, instead of grubbing about in the ground like moles, they just dug a huge, huge hole, like they do when building any other new building. Just deeper.
As a result, the process of getting from station entrance to train, or from train to train (what with the station now being an interchange between the District and Circle Line, and the newer Jubilee Line - which is the one I was taking), is as dramatic and theatrical as battling through a regular tube station is grim and demeaning and demoralising. At Westminster Tube, you now go up and down inside a huge open space, like a department store with no stuff in it, and grey rather than all spangly and coloured. I love it, even though it has a decidedly fascist feel to it, maybe even because it has a decidedly fascist feel to it. At least its stylish fascism, rather than just lumpy and cloddish. But mainly, I think I love it because it is so different from a regular tube station.
While there last Thursday, I only took one shot, namely this:
Had I known I was on a Blogged Odyssey, I would have taken many more shots, of all that dramatic open space with science fictiony structure in among it, supporting the building above and the escalators within, but on Thursday all I thought I was doing was taking the tube. I would have taken shots like the ones here. Someone really should set a movie gun fight in this place, don’t you think? Perhaps they already have.
As for my picture above, it puzzled me for a while. At first I thought the right-way-round Westminster tube sign was some kind of double reflection, but there is only one sheet of glass involved, so it can’t be that. In the end I cracked it, metaphorically speaking. The Westminster tube sign is where it seems to be, but how it looks is confused by the reflection of the wall behind me. It looks like the sign is projected onto the wall. In fact, the wall behind me is projected onto the sign. To the left, you can see the regular wall that the tube sign is actually attached to.
That white circular thing behind me, actually a fire hose I think, looks like a full moon.
Once again, I fear most may not care. But photographed reflections are a thing of mine.
Overheard while channel surfing last night:
Her, trying to persuade him to carry on with the romance: “Do you believe in fate?”
Her: “Neither do I. You see. This was meant to be.”
This is from the movie Wedding Daze. One of those unregarded little movies which only gets two stars in the Radio Times, but which I think is a bit better than that.
Think about it: What’s the best way to make sure there is only goodwill out there towards Muslims?
That’s right: Kill all the bad Muslims.
It’s the way that he combines hate-the-hateful speech with everyone-live-in-harmony speech that makes it so funny, right speak with left speak. Reminds me of that great speech for the defence in Animal House.
This evening I attended the ASI blogger bash, and one of the speakers, Harry Cole, said something along the lines of: Lefties are better at comedy than the Right.. Which I suspect is a lot truer of Britain than it is of the USA. Closely related to that observation is that in Britain, as was also discussed, we are years away from anything resembling a British version of the Tea Party. The British Right, in other words, is not in tune with the Zeitgeist, or even any major slab of the Zeitgeist, the way the USA Right is in the USA. And even there, it may just be a temporary consequence of the Obama phenomenon,, which is a huge attempt to turn the USA into something entirely different. Europe, basically. When that attempt gets switched off, whenever that happens, the Tea Party may die with it. By which I mean either go home or else turn entirely into dull old regular politics.
LATER: Further illustration of the same proposition. When Cleese was funny, he was, if not Left, then at least anti-Right. Now that he’s not funny, he’s Right.
I am continuing to read Leo McKinstry’s book about the mighty Avro Lancaster, and of course I continue to track the cricket in Australia, where England have been suffering a characteristic one-day anticlimax following Ashes success.
So I was rather charmed to encounter, in the Lancaster book, this quote (p. 263) from an interview with one Norman Boorer, a draughtsman who worked with Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the famous bouncing bomb, which was used to destroy two big dams in Germany in May 1943:
Wallis had studied old naval cannonball techniques, where the bomb was fired on a low trajectory and bounced, giving it more range. In his experimental work, he also found that backspin would allow it to bounce two or three more times. George Edwards, who was working closely with Wallis, was a very good cricketer - he could probably have been a county cricketer if he had not been a designer. He was a fine spin bowler and he explained that if you spin it backwards it will shoot and if you spin it forwards it will dig in. There was the other point that when the bomb hit the dam, if it were spinning backwards, it would hug the face and roll down, whereas if it were spinning forwards there was a chance it would climb up over the top of the dam.
So there we are. Cricket won the war.
Bomber Harris was a virulent opponent of the dams raid, as he was of anyone or anything which, in his eyes, diverted anyone or anything from the job of flattening German cities and slaughtering German civilians. Even after it had succeeded, he remained a sceptic. Too bad he wasn’t similarly sceptical about his own obsession with winning the entire war only with his own preferred sort of bombing raids.
I am delighted that McKinstry’s Lancaster has a chapter about the dams raid, having long wanted to learn whatever might have been patriotically wrong about the famous film they made about it, which I first saw when I was a mere boy, and which was based on this book by Paul Brickhill, which I first read when I was a mere boy. It would seem that Brickhill’s telling of the story is pretty much right.
Came across this photo, here, having been sent there to read something else that I’ve forgotten about. Let’s backtrack and see. Yes, apparently I was reading this, for some bizarre reason or other. Plus, rootling through these photos also got me paying some attention to aqueducts. So anyway, the photo (slightly flattened):
A chance for the New York Post to get in a dig at the Israelis for being horrid to the Palestinians:
The fishermen go out every morning hoping that they will be allowed to go out to sea, but Israeli navy forces rarely allow them to leave the shallow waters.
Because after all, under no circumstances whatsoever could “fishermen” possibly be doubling up as anything else.
So, also a chance for me to link back to a posting here about how my attitude to Israel is one of unconditional positive regard.
But putting all that to one side, nice photo.
Someone asked what the new mainframe looks like. It looks like this:
On the front, big black rectangular nothingness, like the Monolith in 2001. The Monolith, unlike Dawkins, is sort of a God, because it taught that monkey how to make a space ship by throwing a bone into the air.
But the nothingness at the front of my new mainframe is more prosaic than that. It is a big plastic door, which you open when you want to play a CD or a DVD or something. Besides which, I conjecture that many geeks have computers which they refer to as The Monolith. Dawkins, not so many. Dawkins it remains.
Some months ago I began reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, which is a blow by blow account of twentieth century classical music. Reading and greatly enjoying.
Trouble is, it’s a very big book, even in paperback, which makes it not-ideal for carrying around London, travelling being one of the main ways I read books. (No internet to distract.) So, despite liking this book a lot, I now realise that I stopped reading it and that I switched to a succession of other equally enticing volumes that were not so big. I am only now back with it, having resumed at a time when I was at home, but de-internetted by new computer turmoil.
On page 317, Ross says something I have long thought, but never myself put into written down words, or even said out loud very much:
Hollywood may have been hazardous territory for composers, but they at least felt wanted there, as they never did in American concert halls. The shift to talkies had created a mania for continuous sound. Just as actors in screwball comedies had to talk a mile a minute, composers were called upon to underline every gesture and emphasize every emotion. An actress could hardly serve a cup of coffee without having fifty Max Steiner strings swoop in to assist her. ("What that awful music does,” Bette Davis once said to Gore Vidal, “is erase the actor’s performance, note by note.")
Well said, Bette.
But things improved. Ross continues:
Early movie scores had a purely illustrative function, which composers called “Mickey-Mousing”: if a British frigate sails into the frame, “Rule, Britannia” plays. Later, composers introduced techniques of musical distancing and irony, along the lines of Sergei Eisenstein’s counterpointing of image and sound. Music could be used to reveal a hidden psychological subtext, ...
Indeed. There then follows an admiring description of the music written for The Grapes of Wrath by Aaron Copland. Very influential, says Ross.
This soundtrack-composer-usurping-the-actors style of movie music only completely died out in the sixties and seventies, when they started using pop music for soundtracks, music with an insistent beat of its own which is quite unable to supply this kind of detailed and non-rhythmic “help” for actors. What a relief that was. Suddenly the actors were revealed as able to act perfectly well without such help. Every so often, I watch an old movie on the telly, starring someone like Doris Day, and suddenly we are back with that awful oh-look-she’s-adjusting-her-hat, she’s-a-bit-sad, ooh-now-Rock-Hudson-has-just-cheered-her-up style of movie musical accompaniment. I realise now that Doris Day was perhaps not a completely god-awful film actress with all the subtlety of a container ship trying to win a round-the-harbour speedboat race. It was just that the people writing, directing, editing and musically accompanying Doris Day’s performances were all tasteless idiots.
Another reason I am now reading The Rest is Noise is that I recently attended a lecture given by Ross at the British Library. The lecture rather outstayed its welcome, for me. Ross had about twenty interesting minutes worth of stuff to say about descending base lines as a way of signalling sorrowfulness in sorrowful songs, but took an hour to say it. Nevertheless, the point was a good one and there were many delightful musical illustrations, my favourite being when he played “Hit the Road Jack”.
Afterwards, having already read and liked some of the earlier Alex Ross book, I bought a signed copy of the latest one. But, not having finished reading the previous book, I wanted to do that first.
No welcomes outstayed in either of these books, or not so far. Almost every page of them contains stuff just as worthy of blogvertisement as the above bit that I happened to choose. And if, when you are reading a book, you fancy a break, you can have one. Lectures happen in lecture time. Books can be read in your own time.
If you share my fondness for high tech, high up, ruthlessly functional clutter, which looks great simply because that is how it needs to be, rather than because any “designers” were allowed near the thing in its formative stages (the inverted commas being because these things are of course designed in the true sense), then I recommend the Arecibo Radio Telescope, which is in Puerto Rico. I especially like this photo, of which this is a mere excerpt:
The photos here are also excellent, and there, commenter “Ailis” supplies that vital piece of info that you are definitely wondering about:
Another interesting bit of trivia: The telescope was used in the James Bond, Goldeneye movie and of course in Contact.
No, that’s two bits of trivia, the second being superfluous.
Paulina Porizkova gets older
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Expendable movie news
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
Big box computers versus laptops
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom twitter of the day before the day before yesterday
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
We’ll always have Chelsea
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
God is killing cinemas!
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
What Bercow does next
Star Wars mosque and rockets mosque
More random links
Excellent mixed metaphor
The Night of the Generals
A movie staircase and a window
Waiting for shooting to start
New addition to blogroll
Blogroll dilemma - question I already know the answer to - irrelevant photo
“This is fun!”
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Big head and big something else
North Carolina Billion Monkeys mad for Obama!
Were any of them really that nice?
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Bowlers who look like actors
A deeper voice
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Sounding like a different country
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
Lizzy Bennet tells it like it is
The great DVD packaging clearout
The economics of Jonathan Ross
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Hear ye hear ye
The qualitative difference made by quantity
From 100 to 1 in movie quotes and Gordon is a moron
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Juan Bautista Alberdi
There ain’t no such thing as a free NHS
A movie about a typeface
James Bond but not as I know him
Glenn Gould on the hereafter
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
Bollocks to the fashists
The Dyson DC14
Other people’s photos (1): Soul transference
Sandow on Bond versus the Musketeers
“How else am I supposed to take it?”
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Not much here today
Being real on digital
The Death of Mr Lazarescu
“Are you telling me I don’t know my own brother?”
Something to bore everyone
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Internet sex machines instead of photos
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
He loved my book
Another movie that was good but which is now pretty much forgotten
Mitchum - MacLaine – Fonda – and Cota
La Chica De Rosa
Feeling under the weather - and watching The Butterfly Effect
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising
Home movies are getting better
Blowing Smoke – first inhalations