Monday, November 30, 2009

Monbiot Propaganda

George Monbiot writes in the Guardian today that the Climate Change scientists whose emails were leaked to the media have done themselves no good by their denials of mismanagement and misinformation. He says that Professor Phil Jones will have to resign - there's nothing else for it. And this from a supporter of climate change - a very strong supporter, in fact.

Notice, however, his constant denigration of those who debate the climate change case: "Climate sceptics have lied, obscured and cheated for years" - "climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can't possibly support" - "climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause" - the climate scientists' "opponents might be scumbags, but their media strategy is exemplary" - "despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore's brilliant new book Climate Cover-up, it is now the climate scientists who look bad" - "the deniers' campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists."

This would all be fine if it were only loud-mouth politicians and money-makers who were involved in the denying of climate change. But there are a large number of scientists - yes, those self-same creatures who promote climate change - denying it as well. The pro-climate change people will invariably tell you that they don't have the right credentials - they don't know enough of the 'right' science, in other words. But these people are no fools. And that's what Monbiot (who is 'only' a zoologist, incidentally) wants to make them out to be.

Who's scaremongering Who

An extract from the latest New Zealand Centre for Political Research's newsletter:

The global warming scaremongering machine has been so successful that developing countries at Copenhagen will be asking nations like New Zealand to front up with an estimated $250 billion to tackle climate change – and according to some sources, that could be each and every year!

The details of what is being proposed at Copenhagen can be found within a document penned by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change working group. This virtually impenetrable 181 page draft contains a bewildering array of negotiating options. However, what stands out is that the bottom-line purpose is money, power and control!

Through this Copenhagen treaty, the United Nations wants countries like New Zealand to agree to ambitious emission reduction targets (up to 95 percent of 1990 levels by 2050 is one of the targets being proposed), to provide huge financial support to developing countries for the purpose of adaptation, mitigation and compensation, and to support the establishment of a proposed new governance body.

Is this really what we want? No wonder Mr Key is keeping out of it. The problem is that Nick Smith is going, and so far he hasn't shown himself to be the wisest person in the country when it comes to climate issues.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Goodbye Marley, Goodbye Fezziwig!

Today's matinee performance of The Christmas Carol brought the season to a close. The audience was the largest of those we performed to (apart from the two school performances) and it was good to feel that the house didn't have lots of large empty spaces in it.

Unfortunately Habitat for Humanity, for whom we were fundraising by putting on the show, probably won't do very well financially out of it. However, their view is that it raises their profile further (as did our connection with them with The Diary of Anne Frank) and that's good for them in itself.

Within an hour of the performance finishing, the set was already in a state of deconstruction, props were being loaded into cars, and it was as if the show had never existed. Such is the nature of theatre, of course. But another feature of theatre which is always intriguing is what the audience doesn't see.

When you go to a play or musical or any other piece of theatre, as an audience member, your focus is almost entirely on what you see on the stage. What exists beyond is seldom thought about. The set and the actors are 'real' for you for the time being, but of course they're not in the least bit real for the actors.

Standing backstage you will see the person who's just come off in tears laughing at some whispered joke made by another actor. You will see two stagehands kneeling on the floor, on either side of the french windows, ready to pull the doors open as one of the Ghosts walks back through it. (The effect for the audience is magic; the reality is a lot more prosaic.)

You will see me bounding down the stairs after a serious scene as Marley's Ghost, tearing off his costume, racing up to the make-up girl, wiping off all the carefully applied talcum powder, having my face made up for a second time - this time as Fezziwig with bright pink cheeks - while the wardrobe lady helps me into my multi-buttoned waistcoat, ties a long blue tie around my neck, helps me on with my coat, and sends me pounding back up the stairs again to the stage where, breathing a little heavily, I wait to turn into a character who couldn't be more different from the bitter and twisted Ghost.

You will see the eight-foot high Ghost of Christmas Future backing out through a revolving door, taking a couple of cautious steps to turn himself to the left (otherwise he will walk straight onto the head of the prompt) and then, all scariness gone, being helped down two or three behind-the-set steps supported by the arms of a stagehand, without whom he would likely take a very serious tumble. You will see the same stagehand hoisting up Tiny Tim onto Bob Cratchit's shoulders: after several failed but hilarious attempts during rehearsal to do it on his own this was the only speedy way to get the child up there.

You might also see the fire warden wandering his regular route through the building during the show; he is probably the only real safety aspect available. It's not that safety products are unknown in amateur theatre (or in professional, if it comes to that) but they're few and far between. And accidents do happen. In this show we managed to get through with no more than a single skinned knee (another one of the Ghosts); in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we had chips and bruises and cuts galore - some plays are more dangerous than others!

Christmas Carol draws to a close

One more performance to go with The Christmas Carol. In spite of having great feedback from the people who have attended, we've had very poor houses, generally, which has been a bit disheartening, especially for our director. Regrettably that's the nature of theatre: the show can be superb (as it is in this case!) but if people don't come, they don't come. We didn't get a review in the paper, which doesn't help, but it's not the only reason it hasn't taken off. I'm sure you could find heaps of reasons. In the end you have to play to the people who do come, and give them your best. And we have....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Catching up on some interesting links

When I'm too busy to post on my blog(s) I tend to accumulate links to various items of interest that I intend to get around to one day...such as today.

The first item is about the 'fluid' piano that a composer called Geoff Smith has invented. It allows the musician to micro-tune each individual key and thus hook into music that is tuned differently to Western music, such as Indian or Iranian. My first (biased) reaction was that it sounded pretty much like most out-of-tune pianos I've come across over the years (including my previous piano, which resolutely refused, in its later life, to allow the bass notes to stay in tune for more than a few days). I guess it takes a bit of getting used to, and certainly the pianist is going to have to rethink their whole approach to playing when they use one. Will it build an audience? The world is littered with instruments that never quite made it, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

The video is here, and an article (from the Guardian) here.

Improv Everywhere is the name of a company (?) that does surprising seemingly improvised and random things literally everywhere. The example below takes place in a supermarket, and is typical of the average modern American musical.

Third on the list today is a question and answer piece (again from the Guardian) in which various artists are asked a random list of 50 questions, and provide some wonderfully random answers about art, photography, acting and more. All the little things you wanted to know such as how does an orchestral triangle player earn his living?

And finally, from a blog called First Things, a list of the blogger's top 100 spiritually significant films. Don't just read the blog post - check out the comments, in which a bunch of film buffs come up with more (and sometimes better) spiritually significant movies.

Christmas Carol has begun

The Christmas Carol has now been performed three times: twice to schoolchildren in the last two mornings, and once last night to an 'ordinary' audience. Enthusiasm for the play seems high, and verbal reports have been very positive.

People like the look of things: the sense of authenticity about the costuming; the way in which the lighting creates a good deal of mood (along with smoke machines) - this morning I came out to oohs and aahs from the kids in my appearance as Marley's Ghost. The smoke helped, of course!

And the play swings from the humorous to the bitter and twisted (Marley again, and Scrooge himself) to joyful to emotional. There are some great moments in it.

Looking forward to seeing you there...!

Curious and Successful

Seth Godin writes in a post today:

I've noticed that people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books also tend to be intellectually curious, thirsty for knowledge, quicker to adopt new ideas and more likely to do important work.

I wonder which comes first, the curiosity or the success?

Well, that's the sum total of the post, so I hope Seth won't object to me copying it in full (quoting just ten percent might make the quote a bit incoherent!) I'm not sure quite what he means in his second sentence - it doesn't seem quite to follow from the previous one. Successful people aren't necessarily curious, I'd think. And curious people aren't necessarily successful. Actually when I read the first sentence again, I'm not even sure that intellectually curious people really do adopt new ideas more quickly. Maybe I'm just getting picky because the post was so short!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Global Warming - what the emails reveal

Ian Wishart has recently published a very long post on the subject of a number of emails that have been discovered (by a hacker, ironically) in which various pro-global warming scientists have been writing about how they need to manipulate the figures to show that global warming is still happening - when in fact it isn't - and never was.

People tend to dismiss Wishart as an investigative journalist, and yes, he probably does get some stuff wrong like anyone who's working at full bore all the time. However, it's interesting how often he comes up trumps with information that others would prefer to be kept secret. And survives.

Apart from that, this latest 'scoop' isn't his, anyway - he's merely passing on a pile of information that others have discovered and discussing it. The basic theme is that various scientists have been pushing their own agendas for a number of years and now the truth is becoming inconvenient for them.

I've been something of a climate change skeptic for some years; hopefully the truth is finally being allowed to climb out of cupboard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Couple of quotes

A couple of quotes are all this post consists of (and I don't mean free insurance quotes, either).

Art is an attempt to understand, yielding pleasure in the attempt whether or not we understand. Robert Brault

This is one of those quotes that you wonder if it's saying what it says, but I thought it was worth a mention.

Secondly, there's a verse in chapter 13 of the Book of Proverbs:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick and this is a considerable truth. But as I realised today, hope isn't dead in this verse, so perhaps it should read: hope deferred makes the heart sick, but that isn't the end of hope.

Incidentally, I don't know who Robert Brault is, but when you look him up on Google, all you find are references to his quotes. It's as if he never wrote anything but quotes. In fact, one result comes up with the complete Robert Brault quotes. Isn't that an oxymoron?

PS 3 days later - when I wrote the post I
didn't know who Robert Brault was. As you can see, he's kindly pointed me in the right direction, and you can find out more about him on his quotes Reader.

Catching up on reading

The following is a blurb for a book called Howards End is on the Landing, by Susan Hill

This is a year of reading from home, by one of Britain's most distinguished authors. Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again. A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill's eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. "Howard's End is on the Landing" charts the journey of one of the nation's most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing.

Now I haven't actually read this book, but the idea behind it sounds great. My life is spent not reading the old books I've got on my shelves (most of which I have read at some point) and Hill's idea seems a great one. But could I resist the tempation of all those other books that I don't possess that I haven't read....?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


In response to an article in the NZ Herald with the heading: Would you be happy to have your eye or fingerprint scanned to prove your identity, someone - supposedly from Iraq - wrote:

This is a stupid proposal. What's wrong with the current process? This will only cramp our hospital's with people suffering from missing finger's and empty eye socket's. Let's focus on technology which can identify fraudulent document's, liscence's etc.

Plainly the apostrophe/plurals thing hasn't quite penetrated this person's grammatical radar as yet, but more than that, it's very hard to work out whether this is a tongue-in-cheek response or a genuine one. If the latter, it presents a worldview that's rather different to that of the average New Zealander...

Photo by Thomas Christensen

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens' famous story comes to life on stage at the Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin, with Bert Nisbet in the role of Scrooge, that inveterate miser, whose experiences with a succession of ghosts changes his view on life forever.
Fred, his nephew, (played by Dominic Crowl) is a complete contrast: having little money, he still manages to make other people happy, including the impoverished family of Bob Cratchit (played by Graham Wilson). Their little boy, known as Tiny Tim, is a cripple, and in spite of his optimism (and that of his family) seems not to be destined for a long life.
The play is directed by Liz Nisbet, and other members of the large cast include Carol Krueger, Helen Wilson, and Cherrianne Parks.

The play will be presented from the 25th November until the 29th. Evening performances are at 7.30 and there is a matinee on the Sunday at 4 pm.

Tickets are available from Beggs' Musical in Moray Place.
Adults: $20
Children: $10
Seniors and Students: $16
Family and block booking concessions are also available.

The play will be presented on two mornings to large numbers of Dunedin schoolchildren.

Proceeds from the play will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

The picture shows Bob Cratchit carrying his son, Tiny Tim.

Check out the Dunedin Events website

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elated - or not

On a site advertising Miami Beach hotels there is a tiny survey which asks: does this offer elate you? According to the online free dictionary, elate means to fill with high spirits, exhilaration, pride or optimism.

Which rather makes me think that the use of elate in this context is just a little over the top. Okay, the offer is 55% off the normal price. That's pretty good - but 'pretty good' isn't 'elated'. We already have enough words being drained of their full value (awesome is just one prime example) so for me 'elate' is definitely out of place in this example.

Some copywriter has decided that he or she had better come up with a snappy little word that's full of zest and excitement to fit in the very small box in which this survey question would be asked. But he/she has grabbed hold of the wrong word. Elate has a long history, as the quotation from George Bernard Shaw below shows, but it's always a word that needs careful treatment (in fact, Shaw seems to give it rather peculiar grammatical treatment).

He, standing a little way within the field, was remonstrating angrily with a man of his own class, who stood with his back to the breach and his hands in the pockets of his snuff-colored clothes, contemplating the procession with elate satisfaction.

from An Unsocial Socialist by George Bernard Shaw

If you've got talent, use it

Mizrahi In an interview for Success magazine, fashion designer, film-maker, actor, opera director and cabaret artist Isaac Mizrahi remarked, “My piano teacher said, ‘You have to choose what you want. You can’t continue to study the piano for eight hours a day and be an actor and design clothes.’ I listened to what he said and he made sense, but I couldn’t relate to that model. I am not a specialist.”

While I make no claims to be in Mizrahi's class when it comes to talent I understand the idea of
not being a specialist. I've played the piano since I was about seven and have performed on it, and accompanied singers, ever since. Yet at the same time I've always written - endlessly, as anyone in my house will attest: the place is full of old notebooks of written material. I have my first stage script still, which I typed out on the first typewriter I bought. I have several novels in various forms of draft, and a determination one day to get at least one of them published. (I even have the very first story I wrote, when I was still in primary school - it has something to do with finding whiskey under the bed, although at that time I probably had no idea what whiskey was.)

I've composed music throughout my life - but have also acted. I must admit that there was a long gap between my early acting experiences (I'm not including the time I was a little elf in a brown suit made by my mother) when I was in my teens, and my more recent ones. It's only in the last few years that I've really had the chance to get my teeth into some acting, but I've had a long relationship with the theatre.

At one time I even painted pictures, hardly any of which survive. This was perhaps my least successful talent, but that may be because I've spent less time on it than on any other of the art forms. So a specialist I'm not. I can't imagine the dedication required to spend eight hours a day practicing the piano but that doesn't mean I don't use the talent I have. I just spread the eight hours around...

Apropos of none of the above, an Anglican chaplain whose tweets I keep up with put a link on Twitter to the Twitter episode of 2 Hot Girls in a Shower. You probably have to be in the mood to watch these videos, none of which are more than a minute and a half long, and none of which (at least amongst those I've seen) are as salacious as the series title might suggest. They consist of a blonde girl and an Asian girl standing side by side in a booth which, as they explain in one episode, is only a movie set with a sound effect of a shower in the background and a bit of misting on the camera. We see nothing untoward.

But what we do see are a couple of talented actresses (Kim Evey and Julie Wittner) 'explaining' all manner of things; the blonde girl plays the slightly dizzy blonde and the Asian the seemingly sharper character. Their explanations, of everything from Sudoku to Father's Day to where to go on a first date, are off in the left field somewhere, and I found them quite mad.

[PS: Occasional moments in the videos
are borderline.]

Attempting to explain what gold bullion is

A little notice at the very bottom of the left hand column of this blog informs you that sometimes I write in a mercenary manner. You will have noticed this notice (and the mercenary manner) on a number of occasions, no doubt.

Sometimes however, when requested to include a link in a post, it's a bit of a task to get the brain going. I have to revert to consulting Wikipedia, that great oracle of information (and the great grandchild of the Encyclopedia Britannica), as when I was asked to jot a few notes on the subject of gold bullion (about which I am only partially informed, as opposed to bouillon, which we all know is a town in Belgium - as well as a form of soup). When gold is referred to as bullion no one is thinking of making some shining soup out of it; rather it is the bulk form of gold, before it is turned into things like gold coins, or wedding rings, or gold hammered out into a form that is so minutely thin that it would go half way round the world and back again. (I jest.)

Apparently a gold coin can be worth less in its face value than it is worth as bullion. How this can be is a bit of a puzzle, although Wikipedia does its best to explain all this under the topic of precious metal. Seems to me to be somewhat the equivalent of telling me that I'm worth more dead than alive, which in terms of life insurance is, I suppose, true. In terms of personal worth to those around about me it is blatantly false. (I hope.)

I attach a picture of a gold visa credit card taken by Cheon Fong Liew. These are not usually made out of gold bullion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am a writer

I am a writer.
Let me write that one more time.
I am a writer.
My heart sings when I write.
I declare this is the truth.
The next step of the path is the scribbler's step.

From the 'dedication' page of Brainlash: maximise your recovery from mild brain injury, by Gail Denton.

These lines, which she heads with: Journal entry, April 26, 1993 (three years before the book was first published), apply equally to me, though maybe for the word writer I'd substitute the word, 'artist' which covers everything I do, the writing, the piano playing, the composing, the acting - the performing in general.

Thanks Gail, for these encouraging words!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Complaints

I can never make up my mind whether I'm a pessimistic optimist or an optimistic pessimist. Either way the glass is neither half empty or half full, for me. I think I just wonder why someone drank the first half and left the rest?

Remembered on the way home that I hadn't mentioned reading Ian Rankin's latest book, The Complaints. My wife and I became a great fan of Rankin while in England where we read several of the Inspector Rebus novels while travelling around. (I seem to remember we discovered him in Florence - someone left one of the novels in the hotel we stayed in.)

The Complaints doesn't feature Rebus (who may have been 'retired' by Rankin, I think) and the main character doesn't quite have the edge that Rebus possesses, nor the sheer bloody-mindedness that makes the latter so enjoyable, but he's a person in his own right, and he has a side-kick who kept me guessing throughout as to whether he was on the side of the angels or not.

The Complaints are a section of the Scottish police force who investigate other policemen, those who've been suspected of corruption, or bribery, or anything else that's against the law. When the story opens they've just finished a major case, and the main character (whose name escapes me, as does the copy of the book for the moment1) is settling on his lees until he finds that he might also be in the poo. Typical of a Rankin tale there are complications galore, and you have to keep your wits about you to know why who did what did it when; as well, there are some impoverished relationships, and even the ones that are working seem likely to fall apart if the participants aren't careful.

I don't know that it's my favourite Rankin, but it's certainly a page-turner, and his writing style is, as always, superb.

1 Just saw that the main character's name is Malcolm Fox, a name that gets played around with quite a bit in the story.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chopped finger

Last Saturday afternoon I was due to play at a concert in the afternoon. I was to accompany a singer in a couple of my songs, as well as playing a couple of the piano pieces I'd written. It was a fundraiser for the Hospice.

On Saturday morning my wife and I were clearing out furniture and stuff from the other 'half' of the kitchen, the dining room part that didn't get renovated when we did the kitchen itself. Things were going along swimmingly until my older son arrived with his little boy. My son went into the bathroom, struggled a bit to shut the door (which has been sticking lately), shouted out about the it, and, in attempting to do something about the door - God alone knows what - I managed to catch my finger in it just as he was shutting it.

Fortunately I also managed to pull my finger back in time enough not to get it stuck. It would have been goodbye finger. However, the door sliced a quarter inch long piece off the middle finger on my left hand, up beside the nail, and there was blood everywhere in seconds.

The Concert
was pretty much all I could think about...

After huge apologies from my son (it hadn't actually been his fault at all) and much stinging and agony (particularly the latter) from my finger, we managed to get a couple of plasters onto it and stop the bleeding. My son told me to take Paracetamol straightaway because the initial adrenalin rush would quickly stop (children are so informative) and would leave me feeling very sorry for myself. And then he went out and got me a chocolate bar, supposedly because chocolate is good for pain. Sounds like a great theory.

Amazingly the finger survived the piano playing at the concert. It was still wrapped up in its plasters and didn't bleed all over the keyboard, but was a good excuse for any bum notes that occurred.

I've had plasters on ever since and only today let the finger try and survive without any cover. Typing on the computer keyboard is fine, but with piano playing there's a lot of accidental knocking of the fingers on the edges of the keys - it's quite normal, at least when I play - and so when I had a go at playing a piece by Jacques Ibert just now, I was feeling that I had to be a bit more cautious than usual. Didn't try anything requiring a lot of running around the keys, just something simple out of his histoires...

Which brings me to something about this publication of the histoires... Whoever did the editing seems to have thought that if a note has an accidental in the first bar, then a sharp or flat should also appear on any notes tied to it in the subsequent bars. This is contrary to normal practice and it's rather confusing to the eye. I don't think I've ever seen it done anywhere else, and I don't think it's just a French way of doing things - the Debussy music I've got is done in the normal fashion.

The set of pieces is published by Alphonse Leduc, of Paris. and the front cover and title page appear to be handwritten. Leduc is still going, incidentally; you can find their 2009 catalogue on the Net. They began in 1841, so they've had a long history.

The photo of a cut finger is the nearest I could find to one that looked like mine - it's actually a lot less gross a photo than a number of those on Fuschia Foot took it.

Monday, November 09, 2009


This is a 16 minute short film described as a parable, but that's perhaps overstating it. It's just a simple piece of artwork with a pervasive message that's not overstated, but is 'learned' through humour.

"Validation" is about the magic of free parking. But that's only part of the story. It's also about what it is to be human.

Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer - Kurt Kuenne. The movie has won more than a dozen awards. By the way - where do people actually see these short movies, apart from on You Tube?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Me Video and the Outer Banks

This is highly offensive - as long as you can't laugh at yourself...

It makes you wonder who has the time and money to put one of these together....very nifty!

Meantime on a totally different tack, let's talk about Outer Banks vacation rentals. Okay, what the heck are the Outer Banks? I had no idea so had to go to the oracle (Wikipedia, in case you didn't guess). Apparently, they're a long (some 320 kilometres) barrier of islands off the coast of North Carolina, and one of them is well-known to us as the place where the Wright brothers first took off in their plane at Kittyhawk. (Apparently it was actually at Kill Devil Hills, but that's perhaps less romantic sounding than Kittyhawk.)

The area is also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because of the large number of shipwrecks that have taken place there (rather than an exceptional number of tourists meeting their fate on the islands). Roanoke Island is the site of the second-longest running historical outdoor drama in the US, a play called The Lost Colony. It has been performed since 1937. Crikey! (Take that, The Mousetrap!) The history of this play and of the actors is quite intriguing.

Ain't it fascinating what you can learn on the Net? Hasn't that made your day?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Where's the "e" gone?

Well, there you go! I'd always thought blu-ray was spelt: Blue Ray. That makes more sense to my ear, but obviously I'd never actually seen the word written. So blu-ray it is - or even bluray in some cases (mistaken cases, I'd suspect, but that's by the by).

Why it should be spelt oddly is a bit of a puzzle, since it relates to the blue violet laser that makes the thing work, but blu without the 'e' is what it is. Maybe the people who put it together couldn't spell - nothing would be surprising these days - but you'd have thought that there'd be someone on the team who could spell a simple English word, wouldn't you?

I have a friend who swears by blu-ray and big screen TV. I haven't yet been to his house to view it (with surround sound, no doubt as well) but he and a few others from our church have been watching the movies known by the collective name of the Decalogue (or Dekalog, in the original Polish) - they're directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski (whose first name, you'll notice, contains only one vowel - unless you consider the 'y' a vowel in this case - it'd be a good word for Scrabble, if it was allowed).

These movies were made for television originally, and seem only loosely connected to the Ten Commandments (though number four, which we watched this week, did have leanings towards the fourth commandment about honouring your father and mother). They're fairly bleak, not only because the world they inhabit is bleak (always wintry and in the middle of a depressed time in Poland), but because the people in them don't get a lot of laughs in life.

And in the last three we've watched, the main female character has been ever-so-slightly-off-the-wall. The blokes are fairly well integrated people, though they have their own flaws, but they don't come close to the underlying feeling of insanity that the women carry around with them. You could say that Kieslowski was something of a mysoginist, but I don't think that's the issue. These women aren't put down by him - the fact that they're allowed to be so strong in the stories is something many other filmmakers could learn from. But they're not exactly people who'd you'd like to have calling at your house.

We have six more of these movies to go before Christmas. I believe one of them may be a bit more cheerful than the others!

By the way, the latest movie version of A Christmas Carol isn't exactly getting rave reviews, even though it's well made, and even though Jim Carrey gives several excellent performances - and even though it sticks very closely to the original story. Robert Zemeckis has decided to go with his strange approach to half-animation again; perhaps it's time to give this idea away.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Blogger and Faucet

Just had a check to see if there have been any comments about problems with Blogger, and had it confirmed that they've changed the format of the posting page. Though they'd done this a month or two ago, so it's a puzzle why it's suddenly affecting things now.

You can opt into the new format, although I'm not aware that I had done this, and it's interesting that when I checked the various Blogger blogs, only one of them was actually listed as using the new format. Admittedly it was the one I was having most trouble with.

So that's kind of good news. Now, just a totally random and unrelated question, where does the word faucet come from? It occurred to me to ask after seeing an intriguing blog post in which someone talked about LED faucets (!). The LED shows blue if the water is cold, and (naturally) red if it's hot. Why you should need this, I'm not sure. Perhaps if you're a person who doesn't have nerve endings (as a friend of mine doesn't) you might find this handy - it would help you not to burn yourself. Still, in general it seems like an innovation that wouldn't really come that much in handy, except as a curiosity.

Well, looking up, we find that faucet comes from an old French word, fausset. It'd been taken over into English, but for some reason died out in common usage pretty much in the UK (and other places where English is spoken - tap is so much more basic). Yet the Americans use it (along with spigot, another word that's hardly common elsewhere). Perhaps it was taken to the US when the word was still common in the UK, like a few other words that have 'split' the language.

The interesting thing is that the common English word 'tap' is not only utterly simple with its three letters and short, sharp sound, but it's used for umpteen different things, both nouns and verbs. There are some twenty meanings listed - certainly some of them are close, but still, what a more useful word it is than that boring old French import...


I'm not sure why, but Blogger seems to have been playing up for the last couple of days.   It's worst at work, where it just crashes on Mozilla Firefox every time I try to open the posting page, but it's also playing up at home.   And even on my daughter's laptop, which I'm using at the moment, it's a bit iffy.   Seems to be better on Internet Explorer than Firefox, so perhaps the latter has added some component that's upsetting Blogger.   Or else Blogger itself has changed something, since the pages are loading differently to waht they used to.  Whatever the problem, it's a bloomin' nuisance!

What I'd been trying to add on here was a quote from George Monbiot, a stalwart defender of Global Warming.   He was writing in the Guardian, and, in talking about Clive James (who's a disbeliever in the religion of GW) he said:

Had he bothered to take a look at the quality of the evidence on either side of this media debate, and the nature of the opposing armies – climate scientists on one side, rightwing bloggers on the other – he too might have realised that the science is in.  In, at any rate, to the extent that science can ever be, which is to say that the evidence for man-made global warming is as strong as the evidence for Darwinian evolution, or for the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Regrettably George's argument lets him down twice in this short paragraph.   Firstly the two opposing sides aren't scientists versus bloggers, but scientists versus scientists and a great many other intellectually well-endowed people (whom he manages to dismiss completely early in the article).  And secondly, telling us that the evidence for man-made global warming is as strong as the evidence for Darwinian evolution is just like saying that the evidence for dinosaurs having bad breath is as strong as the evidence for knowing the names of the first person on the planet.  

There is no 'evidence', but there is a lot of speculation.   Unfortunately, the Darwinians are so into their own philosophical speculation that they pretend it's actually an argument with some basis in fact.   And equally unfortunately, they've taken to Global Warming like it was latest piece of evidence for everything Darwinian.  


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Marley's Ghost

Rehearsing for The Christmas Carol has been a little odd: because I'm only in the first act, I've had no reason to go to the rehearsals for the last couple of weeks, and since the last rehearsal I attended I'd begun to feel rather disconnected from it all.

While I was on holiday, one of the cast (who's also doing props) texted me and said I could fill up the second and third acts by doing props. So that may be the case. Not sure what it entails as yet, but there are a number of props floating around the play, so no doubt there'll be something to do.

Anyway, even though I wasn't called for today, I went along to see how things were progressing. The whole play is underway now, and the second and third acts were being rehearsed this afternoon. It's starting to shape up, though obviously needs a lot more pace and energy than it's got just yet. No doubt it will gain those over the next couple of weeks when we work through the whole play each rehearsal.

I did my short scene as Marley's Ghost with the actor playing Scrooge at the end of the rehearsal. Boy, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. Where I'd been confident about the cues and lines a couple of weeks ago, I seemed to be grasping for words today. However, that'll pick up again, and Marley will make his nasty impression on things once more! (Marley's Ghost even gets his own Wikipedia entry - crikey, I'm famous!)