Gimmick Free Films

I have mentioned previously that I am not a fan of 3D films; albeit not with the same hatred displayed by Mark Kermode. 3D is a gimmick and one which shall in time pass. Today, I went to the movies and saw a film bereft of new fangled gimmicks. It was in 2D, it was not widescreen, there was non of that colour stuff, and it did not have sound.

The Artist is a silent movie about a Hollywood star of the pre-talkie era. It uses the lack of spoken dialog and sound to great effect. The acting is modern and not of the exaggerated style associated with silent pictures. I went to see it having seen ithe number of Oscar nominations it had garnered. Unsurprisingly, there is no nomination for best sound in among its ten nods. However, it is on the list of films in the Best Original Score and with no other sound, the score is especially important.

The Artist is, without doubt, my favourite film on the Best Picture list that is not about the Oakland As. Granted Moneyball and The Artist are the only two of the nine that I have yet seen.



Published in: on 28 January, 2012 at 18:00  Leave a Comment  

Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

I was watching Saturday’s Norwich game against Chelsea on ESPN. The commentary was clearly intended specifically for US use. During the game it was mentioned that the last time Norwich beat Chelsea was the same season that the San Francisco 49ers had won the Superbowl. I was at that game, the 3-0 win over Chelsea, not the Superbowl.

On Saturday Norwich drew their game, managing a clean sheet for the first time this season. They failed to emulate their 1994/95 victory, but came close. On Sunday the 49ers failed in their attempt to get to this year’s Superbowl. They lost the Championship game in over-time after a fumble. So these two events are still linked by having last occurred 17 years ago.

Published in: on 23 January, 2012 at 7:01  Leave a Comment  


There seems to be an impression in the UK that Americans eat too much.

In unrelated news, we went to a local family run pizza restaurant last night. The place offers pizzas up to 32″ in diameter. We ordered more sensibly sized food, which was tasty, but we both boxed half of it and brought it home. The service was friendly, we shall be back, but not trying the 32″ pizza.

Published in: on 17 January, 2012 at 6:58  Leave a Comment  

Swedish Computer Systems

Sweden is famous for many things, but computer companies are not among that list. After his weekend’s trip to Ikea I can see why. We wanted some shelves to flank the TV and provide storage for DVD and books. My wife had already selected the style, so we skipped the long march through the store and went straight to the collection warehouse. This meant we did not have the shelf location. We saw units from the correct set, but not in the color and size we needed. We tried to use their computer search. We keyed in the name just as it appeared on the sign beside us. The computer claimed that it could not find any such stuff. We could see it, but the computer was resolute in denying existence of anything such thing. Fortunately, the staff are more helpful and knowledgable than their computers.

In addition to the furniture, I also picked up half a dozen jars of pickled herring, so despite the computer problems it was a productive trip.

Published in: on 15 January, 2012 at 18:34  Leave a Comment  

Wine Tasting

My birthday was spent in Napa Valley. We had lunch at Mustards, a restaurant that provides a gourmet twist on roadside diner food. The menu provided covers one side of card; the wine list is in a ring binder and has over 750 options.

After lunch we strolled across to the winery next door, took part in the tasting which via a Foursquare check in was half price. Then onto the oddly named Plumpjack, which offered the best wine of the day. We stopped at Paraduxx, where the tasting was paired with cheese and we could sit in the warm January sun and take our time. The penultimate stop was at Hagafen. Our final stop was at Luna, producer of my wife’s favorite Napa red, an excellent Sangiovese. The tasting was complimentary after the purchase of two bottles of the aforementioned wine.

The vineyards are very actively using social media, both through Foursquare offers and by responding to tweets. Paraduxx sent me a Happy Birthday message in response to a tweet that said we were enjoying a birthday taste in their gardens.

There may be roads with better scenery, but I know of no other road that brings more pleasure than the vineyard to vineyard crawl down the Silverado trail.

Published in: on 13 January, 2012 at 9:49  Leave a Comment  

Water Shortage

It has not rained here in Northern California since the start of the winter. This has left the ski resorts bereft of snow and the hills of Solano County lacking the usual rich winter green. Now it seems that the resulting water shortage has had even more far reaching consequences.

My wife went to Starbucks to buy me a coffee to bring to work. She asked for a large cup of water for herself. She was told that they could only provide small cups of water. For a company that will charge $4 for a coffee, you would think that they could afford to offer full size glasses of water to paying customers, but it seems not.

If this continues, I shall need to stop drinking water entirely and get my liquid requirements from wine.

Published in: on 12 January, 2012 at 9:34  Comments (1)  

I Have a Bad Feeling About This

A useful decision making technique is to list all the reasons for and against a particular course of action. You can then look at the list of pros and cons and make an informed choice. I shall apply that method to help me decide if I should go and see Phantom Menace 3D when it opens in a few weeks.


    I think that 3D is a gimmick that adds nothing to a movie, especially one that was not designed to be in 3D
    I have seen the film before
    It is not a good film and that is an understatement on the same level as saying Coors is not a complex and tasty beer
    It has Jar Jar Binks
    It has lots of Jar Jar Binks
    It has racial stereotypes that would have offended 1970s Northern comedians


    It is Star Wars

So balancing the pros and cons, my choice is clear. Go to Phantom Menace I shall.
Because it is Star Wars

Published in: on 7 January, 2012 at 17:19  Comments (1)  

Football (Not the American kind)

Most of the games from the Premier League are broadcast in their entirety on US television. They are not all live, as there are still more games at 3pm on Saturday afternoon than can be shown simultaneously. Thus many games are shown time-shifted. With the eight hour difference between California and the UK, I would probably not wish to watch a 3pm game live in any case, as 7am on Saturday morning is not my ideal time to start the weekend.

With Norwich being back in the Premier League, all but two of their first twenty games have been on TV. Due to travel and holiday commitments, I have not seen all of the remaining games, but I have seen far more than if I still lived in the UK.

The commentary is from British broadcasters, so I am spared people talking about offense, jerseys, and other incorrect American terminology. The commentary is clearly not focused for US viewers, as I doubt that references to Twickenham and Delia Smith would make much sense to locals.

One thing that was beginning to annoy me was that mention was always made of Norwich’s first game of the 2009-2010 season. This was a terrible 7-1 home defeat by Colchester which started Norwich’s return to the third tier of English football with a sense of dread. The cliche about it being darkest just before dawn applied in this case. Within a a week that manager had gone and was replaced by the man who had been in charge of Colchester. Paul Lambert turned the team round, managed them to two successive promotions and a return to the Premier League.

The last time that Norwich were in the top flight, they won no games away from home. In the first 10 away games of the season, they have on twice and, and drawn four. The season has a long way to go, but the start is promising. Only once have Norwich been thrashed and plenty of teams have been thumped by Manchester City this season.

Published in: on 3 January, 2012 at 20:19  Leave a Comment  

Films of 2011

Most of the best films that I saw last year I watched at home and were not from 2011. I watched a batch of the Oscar nominations, including the overlooked Winter’s Bone; a dark piece about a backwards community in the Osarks. I also saw The Social Network which shared a scriptwriter with the best film that I saw in the cinema. Aaron Sorkin being credited on Moneyball.

The highlight of the big movie blockbusters was the concluding episode of Harry Potter, which was entertaining, but would have benefited from focusing more on the Snape and Harry’s decisions. Nonetheless, it did provide spectacle and closure on the saga ten years after The Philosophers Stone first arrived in the cinema. Oddly, that film was not released in the US, as the American title was in keeping with the first book, The Sorcerers Stone

There are several films released in 2011 that I did not get to see in the cinema and shall watch at home between now and the Oscars. These will include Ides of March and the Hoover biopic.

Published in: on 2 January, 2012 at 12:20  Leave a Comment