Mixed Media, Thursday 2 July 2015

Not much time to write, just wanting to jot some things down:

  • Birdman: enormously impressive work to make the entire film look like a single take. The story it tells is engaging, too, with lovely performances all round. I still can’t make up my mind if it’s a great film, or just a brilliant novelty. Perhaps both.
  • Results: a lot more off-beat than the trailer suggests. I don’t think I actually enjoyed it, though.
  • Foxcatcher: dull.

This evening I finshed the first book I have read in months: Stuart MacBride’s latest Logan McRae book The Missing and the Dead. I’ve started loads of books recently, but nothing has kept my attention for more than a few pages. This was a good one, though.

Apple Music

Beats 1 radio station: great. The rest of it: I don’t understand how anyone ever got to the point of saying “yeah, that’s great – ship it.” I thought that iTunes’ usability couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong.

The end of a routine

Alex made the move to secondary school a couple of years ago, and doesn’t come home for lunch any more. With me working mostly from, Fiona and I have developed our own private lunchtime routines and patterns. This is Fiona’s last week at primary school, so that time is coming to an end now, and I’ll miss it.

The way it ususally works is that Fiona walks in the door around 12:15, and shouts “I’m home” up the stairs. Then I go downstairs, give her a hug, and we have a chat about how the morning went. I make her a sandwich, and fix myself something to eat. Fiona eats at the table, watching videos on her iPad, while I take my lunch upstairs and eat at my desk and work some more.

At 12:50 she calls upstairs, “I’m leaving”.

“I’ll miss you,” I reply, and come downstairs with any plates and cups I’ve accumulated. I drop them in the kitchen while Fiona heads for the door. I give her a hug, and ask if there is going to be anything interesting at school in the afternoon; sometimes there is.

I wait for her at the door while she heads round the side of the house to get her bike. She wheels it around to the front door, and leans in so I can give her another hug and a kiss on the top of her head. Then she jumps up onto the saddle, and starts her ride.

“Sleep well,” I say.

“I’m not going to sleep during school!” she calls back, in a tone of fake annoyance.

I stand at the door, and watch her cycle away until she’s out of sight. A couple of months ago we got her a full-size bike for the move to high school, and she could only just reach the pedals. Now it looks perfectly normal.

So grown up.

Mixed Media, Saturday 20 June 2015

The last couple of weeks I have mostly been listening to Royal Blood and Taylor Swift. Royal Blood because I was supposed to be seeing them live at Murrayfield in support of the Foo Fighters on Tuesday next week; but that’s cancelled because Dave Grohl broke his leg. Much sadness. Taylor Swift because we’re going to see her at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam tomorrow evening. (“We” = me, Abi, Fiona, and a friend of Fiona’s. Alex isn’t interested.)

I had bought my ticket for the Foo Fighters through stubhub.co.uk. My main worry about buying an after-market ticket for a concert abroad was whether it would get delivered to me in time, before I had to travel. (The original promoter said that actual tickets would be getting sent out two weeks before the gig.) That turned out to be perfectly fine: my ticket arrived by courier last week. After Dave Groh’s accident, Stubhub also sent out regular emails to keep me informed about whether the concert was going to be cancelled. And today I received a full refund: not just for the face value of the ticket, but for the (higher) price I actually paid to buy it. So I’m impressed. They did a great job, and I would use them again.

I’m planning to use the refund to get a ticket for the Foo Fighters’ concert in Amsterdam on 5th November, but it’s sold out as well, and after-market tickets are even more expensive than they were for Murrayfield. I know I’ll buy one (see my rule about live music); I’m just feeling a bit twitchy about the cash.

Abi and I have been watching the Kevin Spacey House of Cards, and it is excellent. We finished season 1 last week, and started on season 2 straight away.

Fiona and I went to see Jurassic World this morning. I found it a thrilling amusement park ride of a film, but the gender stereotyping was regrettable. As the operations manager of the entire park, Claire’s actions were colossally reckless. She chooses to rush out in person to look for her two nephews rather than stay to oversee the safety of the the 20,000 other visitors to the park. What’s troubling is that she wasn’t immediately excoriated for abandoning her duty — almost as if it is expected or excusable for a woman to do that. She even simpers at the end. Personally, I think that the film could have told exactly the same story with the genders of the main adult characters swapped. It probably would have been better for it.

Also watched recently:

  • Focus: Meh. It was nice to see Will Smith playing a sassy leading role again, but the second half of the film in Buenos Aires felt completely flat.
  • Blackhat: Awful. Shoddy script, clumsy directing, and incomprehensible action.
  • Continuum season 3: To be fair, I was only watching this with half of my attention, but the opening three episodes have failed to pull me in like the first two seasons did.
  • The League: I’ve watched the first three episodes. Some laughs, but the male chauvinism balloon gets in the way, and is never punctured.

Banish “Interesting”

I’m trying to excise the word “interesting” from my conversational and written vocabulary, because it doesn’t actually say anything. Whenever I catch myself about to say or write the word, I pause, and try to answer the question “what specific feature of that thing or concept has caught my attention?” instead. Because that’s more important to convey.