July 2008 Archives
Just a postcard, really ... I've been blogging like crazy since we left the Midlands, but there have been MAJOR problems getting online anywhere - until now. Many thanks to Ceredigion (aka Cardiganshire) for giving Dai Public the chance to access the internet for free via library terminals,
Trouble is I can't input what I've blogged via memory stick, CD or whatever. And where we're staying we can't even get a signal for mobile phones, let alone a computer!
Been kicked off - post again later!
News in the Mail that yet another canal-side development is planned for Brum shouldn't be a shock, but the proposed 'Baskerville Wharf' has upset me. For this "exciting mixed-use development" will mean the closure of one of Birmingham's most important music venues.
The Flapper and Firkin (formerly the Longboat) has seen thousands of tiny, sweaty, gigs over the years. It's one of the few places in Birmingham that a new band might be able to get on the bill, supporting a band that are on a national tour. Much needed practise, exposure, and ultimately culture for the city. After the loss of the similar venue The Jug of Ale earlier this year, it might be one blow too many for the local music scene to cope with.
I'm not anti-regeneration, I accept that on the whole the new buildings and facilities in Birmingham over the last ten years have been a good thing. But. If we remove the good stuff along with sweeping away the bad, we will become a souless city.
Something fanstastic is happening - so why do I feel so depressed?
The slump in my mood came when I read Max Mosley had won the landmark High Court legal battle with the News of the World over revelations about his private life.
I was delighted by the outcome. How could it possibly be in the public interest to reveal the Formula One chief takes part in sadomascohistic role play - even if Max is the son of the fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley? Had the News of the World won, I would have been really fed-up.
I'm also pleased to discover that on the back of the Max Mosley story the BBC website has a backgrounder on sadomasochistic sex, including comments by those who are into it, which will hopefully puncture many a popular misconception about spankings, role-play and all the rest.
This is fantastic.
I don't, as I have stated before, I don't do hype, but this morning I am suffering a mild case of movie build up excitement.
I have just seen THE DARK KNIGHT and believe me it really does live up to the speculation. The film opened with a $66 million dollar opening day, which was a record, the film then went on to take $155.3 million dollars in its opening 3 days, the biggest opening weekend in cinema history, beating the previous best set by Spiderman 3 with $151.1 million.
I think the film is brilliant, it's an epic piece of film making and lifts the whole genre of comic book inspired movies to a whole new level. If you take the whole issue and all the elements of the film's comic book origins out of the equation, This is still an excellent and multi layered thriller.
The build up to the release of the film has been over shadowed by the tragic death of Heath Ledger, who redefines the role of The Joker.
Forget all that have gone before, this is something new and disturbing, dark and menacing, the persona reaches out of the screen and pulls you in, it quite simply is The Joker.
The performance is a fitting tribute to the undoubted talent possessed by the films late co-star. Heath Ledger who contrasts the brooding stillness of his performance in the Oscar winning Brokeback Mountain with one full of dark energy.
All the performances are all very good, with Aaron Eckhart also stands out as Harvey Dent / Two Face.
I am not writing a review of the film so I will stay away from waxing lyrical about why I thought the film was good, that is down to you to go and see, you have to make up your own minds.
The film without a doubt is going to do well as the American box office has already proved, the publicity surrounding the release of the film has been going on for months and though the end of promotional campaign is in sight, the excitement surrounding The Dark Knight is set to continue for a while at least and the mysterious circumstances linked with the death of Heath Ledger will add to the momentum which will ultimately add to the box office generated by the film, and as dark and cynical as it seems, the death of Heath Ledger will probably add $30 million dollars to the films opening weekend and globally it will add somewhere in the region of 20% to the overall box office take.
In an industry dominated by profits, the legacy left behind by Heath Ledger has proved to worth its weight in gold.
You may think that living in dusty old Beijing in the Summer time would be a bit of a drag, but you would be wrong. The list of things to do is endless.
With barbecues, themed parties and water parks, at times it's like being on holiday in Majorca, but with far less stag/hen holidays and vomiting, of course.
When the weather is hot and sweltering and you are beginning to feel like a bag of boil-in-the-bag mifan (rice), the one place you long to be is on the beach, with soft sand between your toes, some cool water (not the Davidoff fragrance) to dip your steaming hot bod into, and some relaxing tropical 'holiday' music playing subtly in the background from the beach cocktail bar (Bob Marley or UB40 are always winners).
Well, who'd have thought it, but I've found just the place in this bustling capital city.
Hallelujah! An arguably beautiful man-made beach is just the ticket for an expatriate who wants to fry in the midday sun. So long as you don't mind Chinese people taking photographs of you as you lie on the beach in your bikini, that is. Many Chinese women opt for beachwear like those luminous leotards that GMTV's Mr. Motivator used to wear.
Don't misunderstand me, I don't run in slow motion across the beach, ala Baywatch, topless and wearing a red thong that just screams "notice me". I should imagine I would be arrested for such an act. No, I just wear what any other western female would select: An average black bikini. Yet still, expect photos to be taken. It becomes a way of life. I'm getting a taste of what it would be like to be Princess Di. Albeit on a much much much smaller scale, I grant you. But whereas before I would tut at celebrities who would attack the paparazzi, and be shown photographed in The Sun giving the finger (not the Cadbury's chocolate one), but now I empathize with them. I'm laughing at myself as I write this. How pretentious I must sound? But seriously, despite the colossal amount of expats living in Beijing today, we still get stared at and get 'papped'. However, no amount of 'papping' of me in my bikini is going to make me wear one of Mr. Motivator's cast-offs.
I'm hoping that my saviour is going to be the Olympic Games. After a month of foreigner overload, and after taking as many photographs as their phones, cameras and computers will hold, I'll be able to run down the street naked without so much as a click. Well, that's my theory anyway. Something I devised from the Clockwork Orange technique: Give the person an overload of something they like and they wont like it any longer. I'll let you know how that one works out.
If you do plan on coming to Beijing to watch the games, have your wallet ready, because I read in the China Daily yesterday that they're expecting foreigner visitors to spend $400m. Crikey, now that's a lot of noodles.
The last few days before the long school holidays ... the dolphins of Cardigan Bay are beckoning (via a visit to Torchwood) and just behind us is a weekend of very local activities. That sounds frighteningly League of Gentlemenish, I know, but it's all part of this determination I've been outlining to cut down on driving, supermarket shopping and all the rest to prepare us for whatever it is that's just around the socio-economic corner.
The green ideals that, like all good middle class liberals, I once vaguely aspired to may well be forced on us all by the way the world is going.
Move over Birmingham Forward, cast aside the Chamber, dispense with the IOD. I've discovered a hot new networking option for the city.
Forgive me if I'm terribly behind the times. I suspect I came to this rather late as I was clearly not a regular when I popped in this week. The good news is that there's no membership fee and you pay just ÃÂ£4.50 to enter during the day, and less in the evenings.
Before Richard, Jerry and John choke on their morning coffees, I should reveal that I'm talking about the services on the M6 Toll which is clearly the networking venue of choice for some of Birmingham's professionals.
I did feel like a stranger walking into a Wild West saloon to be greeted by stony silence and worried looks, but I suspect that was more do to with one group of people who were clearly having a clandestine meeting.
It all made Starbucks on Colmore Row look very tame...
I once met some whose job title was "futurologist", which was nice although not my favourite ever title. That was "imagination engineer", a position that didn't exist with Disney's Magic Kingdom but in the BBCs Education department. That one reeked of a title being given in lieu of pay, but looking into the future has become a little industry in itself.
Before every game of the European Championships this year some uncomfortable looking ex-pro was asked what they thought would happen in the next two hours. Given that they only had to focus on events within around 10,000 square feet of grass, with 23 people on it at any one time, they did -- as ever -- spectacularly poorly.
Weather forecasts have got more reliable over the years, as computing power and simulation models have improved, we can now pretty much trust predictions that don't involve humans. Maybe that's why weathermen (and women) don't become personalities any more -- we only remember them for getting it wrong.
But to try and predict anything that depends on human behaviour, and you're all but stuffed. No simulations can help, you can't foresee trends, and if you're trying to make even educated guesses on the future of the internet, that mass of interconnected humanity, then all I can say is "good luck".
I can still fit into the miniskirt that was my favourite item of clothing when I was in my 20s and early 30s.
Every so often I put it on, look in the mirror and ponder...my legs haven't really changed since the days I wore this, so why would I not wear it again?
I'm not entirely sure of the answer, but I find the word "dignity" wafting around somewhere in my brain.
I was reminded of this when I signed up to Facebook on getting back from holiday recently.
I hope the Brown family has a good break in Southwold. He clearly needs a rest. So do we ...
But the trip to Suffolk is as much a PR stunt as anything politicians at his level get involved in. It's really just a way of saying 'Hey, we're not having expensive freebies in exotic locations handed to us by rich friends.'