Friday, 24 August 2012

zip it

So I had a bit of an embarrassing situation on Tuesday at work.

Basically to skip to the punch line the zip on my trousers broke.  Now we're not talking about an explosion under duress or anything like that - this was that type of breaking where the teeth are undone even though you've zipped the zip.

I'm sure you know the sort of thing - a zip works by the teeth intermeshing, which you achieve by pulling the zipper up or down depending on if you want to close or open them.  Well what sometimes happens is that the teeth become un-meshed when the zipper is in the closed position.  Basically they become un-aligned and the zip no longer knits them together when it closes.

The way to fix this is to basically slide one set of teeth out of the zipper and re-align everything so that the zipper meshes them together.  However, this is only really possible on those zips that are designed to come completely apart (so the zips you have on the front of coats, rather than on the pockets of a coat.

Of course the zipper on my trousers (otherwise known as the "fly") is of the pocket closing type, so I was left with the embarrassing situation of not being able to close my trouser's fly area.  I ended up using a bull-dog clip on the inside to close them up.

Now actually this is the pair of trousers that's really slack and it's my intention once I get my new boosted pay packet to start to buy some new clothes.  Plus of course I have another pair of work trousers, so it's not a big deal really.

I'd actually gotten rather ahead of myself on that front, expecting my wage to come in during this week for some reason, but of course it will be next week as the end of the month is on Friday.

It's a Bank Holiday Monday next week, so I'll only be blogging Tuesday to Friday.  However, I will actually probably be working early Saturday morning, as there's some bits I need to do.  It's not that I'm super-mega busy; it's just that I can't see how the timing is going to work out any other way.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

the faculty

I have to confess I found this rather disappointing.

I'd heard that it was quite good, but I actually found it really derivative and therefore rather unoriginal.  It was a bit like somebody had compiled together all the good alien movies they'd ever seen and thought that the melded together thing would therefore be good.

Trouble is that you just end up with a diluted version of those original films.  Also, generally, a lot of the good alien films are actually based on books.  The film tries to acknowledge this debt, but actually just ends up making it obvious how lacking this film is.

This referencing is achieved by having a character who is a science fiction nerd who is into all the classic science fiction films - in this case, alien films being of most reference (Body Snatcher's, Puppet Master's).  However, what this also means is you have a rather stereotypical character who lacks any real motivation or defining character, other than being a misfit SF nerd.

And this is the film's real problem - the characters are all basically horrible stereotypes.  You've got the wide-eyed new girl, the genius who, unchallenged by academia is a mischief maker, the jock who's misunderstood.  It's all just the wrong side of cliché.  A bit more exploration of these characters would really have helped.

The good side of the film is the slow takeover by the aliens, which, although very much in a bodysnatcher's vein is reasonably well done.  However, even here there are real problems - what are the aliens?  Why are they doing this?  How do they do it?

There's a vague hint that once taken over the people are happier, but the film also fails to really explore this.  And this is one of the most frustrating things about it - it manages to ditch the parts of these types of alien movies that make them quirky or interesting or that make you think.

The aliens basically just take over because that's what they do and they need beating.

The thing about the film that is amusing is seeing a lot of young actors that have gone on to bigger and better things.  You've got Josh Hartnett and Elijah Wood, for example.  And the performances are probably the highlight of the film.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

gantz (movie)

Gantz was always going to be a tough thing to adapt.

Certainly adapting it into a live action film that would need to make a fair old bit of money to cover the types of effects it would need would probably been a tough thing to sell.  On the plus side it's a very popular series, but on the down-side it's not exactly family friendly material.

And if you made it family friendly you would stand a real risk of alienating that main fanbase.  But still, you need to make it possible that it might appeal to a wider audience.  Yet the key elements of gantz are horrible violence, aliens, killing, misogyny general inhumanity and a smidgen of rape on the side.  It is, to be frank, a veritable smorgasbord of misanthropy, which is probably something you could get away with better in the anime adaptation, since the audience is more focused in the same area as the manage and the budget concerns smaller.

Anyway, it's hardly fun for all the family!

I was, therefore, not really expecting much from the film adaptation.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised.

They have made changes.  The misanthropy is pretty much gone.  I mean, there are still a lot of the unpleasant characters, but they're not dwelt on as much.  Also, the main character who, in the manga, we get a lot of internal monologue stuff from and therefore we see he's not a particularly nice person, is tweaked to be more normal.

In the film it's more about him being scared about things, rather than not giving a shit, if you see what I mean.

However, this first film (there are two) is actually surprisingly close to the original manga, given the changes that have been made.  The second film looks like it diverges more, based on the trailer, but this first one takes the major parts of the manga and retains the majority of them.

I mean it does tweak stuff, obviously, but not as much as you may think.

The film also looks really good.  The effects are excellent - the aliens look very good and the suits, guns and gantz itself are all very well executed.  I think the fact it's almost all set at night (a lot of the less dramatic stuff front during daytime is what's gone) helps out here - FX are normally easier to execute during the night.

But obviously they've also benefitted from the leaps and bounds of digital FX that mean even low budget films can look very good nowadays

So overall, I'd say it's well worth checking out.

Well, if you like SF, action, aliens or the original manga it's worth checking out - if those aren't really your bag, it's not going to change your mind.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

mini heat wave

So we seemed to have a mini heat wave while I was taking my long weekend.

It was nice that it didn't rain on me, but the heat made it a bit unpleasant.  It was actually another case of my classic comment on British weather that it comes with exclamation points.  I mean the change was so sudden that it was quite a shock.

I have to say I found the whole weather extremely nostalgic.

It was, to coin a phrase, just like the weather we seemed to have when I was a kid.  Well, no, actually, not when I was a kid proper, but when I was a teenager.  My recollection of my teenage years (around the GCSE and A-level kind of time) was that the weather during the summer was constantly like how it was this last weekend - hot and cloudless during the day and not really properly easing off during the night.

I don't know if that's really an accurate reflection of how the weather actually was, but it's how I remember it.  I remember days of going around friends' houses and having barbecues and lazing about and then smoking pot and getting drunk in the evening.

This weather was so reminiscent of that period, particularly as the smell of barbecue was filling the air when I went out for my walks around the estate.

As for other stuff I did it was all pretty unexciting.

I gave the car a thorough clean, including giving it a polish.  Usually when I do these mega cleans I find them quite tiring because I do everything and so it take hours, but I also end up using muscles I don't normally use much so I then have several days of aches and pains.

This time I didn't find the doing as tiring, but the after-ache was really bad.

I also decided to do a load of backing up.  In the end I did my hard-drive based back-up routine, but didn't get the time to also burn the DVDs I usually do as well.  I like to be thoroughly backed-up having had several bad experiences of drives crapping out and taking everything with them.

I'll probably look at burning the DVDs this next bank holiday weekend, though I am currently anticipating I will actually have to work part of the weekend.  This isn't so much because I have too much to do it's more because the timing of things other people are doing mean it just won't be finished in time for me to do anything prior to the weekend.

I decided to do the back-up because I actually had a bit of a worrying moment the other week when I plug one of my drives in and it came up as if it was a new disk and asked me to format it.  In the end I got around it, though the drive ran incredibly slowly.  However, I think looking back on it it was because I used a USB3.0 slot that the motherboard has and I never installed the proper drivers for those slots because I don't have any USB 3.0 peripherals, so it ran at the default USB 1.0 speed.

At least I hope it was that - if not, I've backed it up anyway.