Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved – CR Artist
It seems ages since I posted anything here, and looking at it, it has! It is not the fact that there is nothing to post about – trust me, there is if the amount of ranting I’ve done lately is any measure. It is a combination of being overly self-critical in what I write and also that I have been very busy of late.
The business could be construed as laziness, in that I could make time, however that is a debate for another time and I am sticking with the business reason. Getting out of the blocks seems to be the challenge that is really stopping anything of quality or my views being truly explored or expressed in that I censor them before they get near to being published here.
This is the first post I have ever written where I have vowed not to use the delete key (except for spelling mistakes) and I have promised to publish exactly what I have written – no less. Please bear that in mind when being critical here. And here I am again, making excuses for the writing. And so, I am going to set myself a challenge; the next few posts, irrespective of content or length, I will publish with more confidence and less of a self-censoring hand. This may sound like a pretty feeble aim but in getting some momentum on this blog it is essential. I want to look back on this and want to keep what I see rather than delete the disparate mess of posts.
That may or may not have made sense but it was typed straight to publishing without any editing or thought for that matter!
For most people flying when the pre-flight safety video comes on it usually means time to read the airline magazine or SkyMall. Virgin America aims to change that with their new video that launched this week. It will be hard to ignore and is something that had to be done very well to be able to pull it off. I will let you see if you think it has.
For the .001% of you who have never operated a seatbelt before: Really?!?
On Sunday, 1st September 2013 I fulfilled one of my life’s goals – seeing Steve Vai play For the Love of God. And boy, did I get a whole lot more!
I managed to knock this musical aim off my bucket list at the Cardiff show of the Story of Light tour and it has been with me for the last two days, swirling around my head like some twisted space-age sound from Vai’s Ibanez. The first surprise of the night was my seat – not in the gods at all but only a few rows back from the front. I really should understand the seat plans better. I am looking at the stage and there are tall amps to the side; the drums raised behind some more amps with Vai’s logo across them; a huge drape behind the stage with the new album artwork; and then there is the homely rug with pedal array in the middle of the stage. Am I really going to see Steve Vai? This close? For real?
Then the lights go down and a beam of light from the eye on the drape at the back of the curtain starts searching the audience. Then a red glow, smoke and a bass rumbling that vibrates the seats and floor. It should be noted that at this point I am now grinning like a fool. With that a distorted scream, unmistakably Vai’s handiwork, and then with a seat shaking crash of drums, Steve Vai lands on his rug with flowing coat, multi-coloured trousers and a wide brim hat, immediately doing things with his guitar that are not natural and could never be annotated on any musical paper.
What came after was nearly three hours of the most technically impressive, emotive and at times, humorous, musical experience I have ever witnessed, which if I tried to describe, would take about 10 pages and still not get close to expressing what happened. What is difficult, is trying to describe the technical and expressive mastery that Steve Vai has without sounding clichéd but this man is a genius. Not a very talented person, but a genius. He sings through his guitar and what a voice he has.
Then, after over two and a half hours it happened. There was a brief audience interaction with the drummer, lights dropped, silence. And the opening notes of For the Love of God meant this was it. It didn’t disappoint. Not one note. A wonderful song; superlative musician; a magical experience.
This is the first time Steve Vai played For the Love of God to an audience – Guitar Legends Concert 1992 – and when I decided I had to experience this.
Cargo is a short film (7mins) that will break your heart. And it’s a zombie movie. If you think that zombie movies are all about gore and mindless killing, then that is even more reason to watch this. It is a moving account of what a father will do to protect his child all the while knowing of his demise and shows that the genre is also for profound and emotive subject too. Without sound too snooty about it, it is a great watch on many levels. Enjoy!
I went into watching World War Z with low expectations. I had heard mixed reviews and read about the production problems that seemed to have dogged the movie. With all that dampening down my anticipation, I sat back (in a partially full cinema) on opening night, donned my 3D glasses and watched World War Z with an open, if somewhat less excited, mind.
Let me get my main problem with World War Z out of the way. The 3D experience. The opening credits looked great and from then on the 3D was either distracting, disorientating or just plain awful. The breakfast table towards the start of the film was too well rendered in 3D that the milk in front of the cereal, but behind the coffee, was too distracting, yet a cityscape that could have benefitted from 3D to enhance the vastness seemed to have it missing. Anyway, enough of the 3D. I’ll move onto the film in itself.
Let’s be clear from the start; this movie is not a zombie film in the Romero or Walking Dead sense. World War Z is a cracking, boys’ own, adventure movie. Don’t watch this expecting to see new and inventive ways of despatching the undead. The movie kicks off pretty quickly and is effective in sending Brad Pitt from set-piece to set-piece. There is no real tension or horror, and at no point, which is one of the main attractions of apocalypse movies, do you think, “what would I do?” All that being said, this movie is very good in being the adventure movie with awesome set pieces. It does loose its way occasionally. Particularly, David Morse’s character and scenes seemed to have missed the point they were intended for and the finale did feel as if it was just crammed in with time running out. Brad Pitt stands out however, without resorting to the gung-ho hero nor the implausable geek/doctor/sciency guy who ends up saving the day.
My recomendation is to go see this movie (in 2D!) and sit back for a great adventure and marvel in the effects, which really are a joy to watch.
I’ve just learned that Ray Harryhausen has died. He was 92. It is reported here on the BBC.
Ray Harryhausen was a hero of mine. Not simply someone I admired but a big influence on me. From the books I read, movies I watch, in fact, my tastes generally; so much of it was down to Ray and his film work.
From an early age, I’ve loved movies. From fun escapist capers to true works of art, I’ve be captivated by the movie and during my formative years I watched Jason and the Argonauts. I was transfixed. The fantastical adventure truly brought to life by Ray’s stop motion work on such creatures as the seven-headed Hydra and of course the battle with the risen skeletons. This then gave me a thirst for more of his work such as Clash of the Titans and Mysterious Island but also for other fantasy movies, while not involving Ray, most definitely influenced by him.
From this early influence of Ray’s work, my love of movies was cemented and more importantly my tastes were truly changed and I had a new appreciation of the fantasy story which later developed and for which I am truly grateful as this was a large factor in forming my sense of imagination. One of my few traits I am truly proud of.
A gauge of the impact of Ray’s work on me is the effect it still has. I am a perfectionist (pain in the neck, some would say!) when it comes to my audio/visual set-up; making sure the blu-ray is being displayed at its optimum and the colour is all as it should. I am also a nerd when it comes to the technical aspects and I like to read about the newest development in film-making such as the quest to artificially render water more realistically (I told you I was a nerd). Despite these elements and my hunger for more and more realistic fantasy, watching Ray’s stop-motion creatures still achieves something, computer rendering never will. What that is, is the magic that Ray Harryhausen brought to audiences and changed movies forever.
Here is a very brief video of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Willem-Alexander becoming the Netherlands first king since 1890. This video shows the Dutch style and culture succinctly and the tone that the Dutch monarchy has set. Pop over to see Willem-Alexander’s investiture on the BBC.
It seemed to be standard issue only a few years ago. A USB drive in on your keychain or in your laptop bag carrying those all-important files back and forward between computers, most likely work and home. With the advent of the cloud and increasing storage quotas, the necessity for transferring these files in a physical medium has been dwindling.
I have been a user of Dropbox and Google Drive since their launches, especially impressed with their ease of integration in my file management on my main computer. The free 3GB and 5GB from them, respectively, was plenty for my needs but needed careful management. The final piece that gave me the push to go totally ‘cloud’ for my shared and mobile files was an offer from Box, through Lifehacker, for a free 50GB (now expired, sorry).
Now, all I have on my USB drive is portable apps (from Portableapps.com) that allow me to run the apps I want on machines that don’t have them; notably, Chrome, Skype and GIMP Portable. With my devices, iPhone, iPad and computers all accessing these cloud storage solutions and the ever increasing access points to the Internet, I haven’t noticed any shortcoming over a USB drive at all, and am only reaping benefits.