Friday, 27 February 2009

Pity the fool

This morning I picked up a copy of the free morning paper The Metro as I dashed to make the District Line tube. The Metro is great. It may leave black ink on my fingers and contain the odd article that makes me want to roll my eyes at someone, but it's a good read for the way to work. Today was no exception, and had a quote in it from Mr T that almost made me laugh out loud. You can read the whole interview here, but here is the highlight:

Mr T on why he has the best catch phrase: "When you say: ‘I pity the fool’ it hits home. Some times you are working around fools and when you pity the fool, you are showing them mercy."

Mr T on which fool he pities the most at the moment: "I pity the Devil. He is about sin and corrupts the minds of young people. He is definitely the fool I pity the most right now."

Hilarious. I can't decide which fool I pity the most right now, but it could well be everyone else that isn't eating pineapple lumps right now as I am. That certainly meets the "showing them mercy" criteria. What fool do you pity? Will you be more successful than me at slipping "pity the fool" into conversation today?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Thanks Mum and sisters!

My birthday was great - we went to The Killers in concert last night (best concert ever!), I had the day off work, got a fabulous gift from Tane, had a lovely afternoon sightseeing in London with Stephen, and dessert with friends. The highlight though was getting these flowers from Mum and my sisters - here is a photo of them so you can see what they looked like in the end. THANK YOU!

Monday, 23 February 2009

10 great things about York

On the weekend, Tane and I joined Patti and Stephen for a fabulous trip to York. York is the loveliest place I have seen in England so far, so lovely even it inspired me to write a list of 10 awesome things about it. Here goes:

1. Yorkminster Cathedral. This church is amazing, adjectives to describe it would only sound cheesier than a cheesecake covered in cheese sauce.2. A poignant plaque. Tucked away in a corner of the Minster there is a plaque that I would have ignored had the words "New Zealand" not caught my eye. The plaque was for the members of the York regiment killed fighting the Maori in the NZ Wars, many of them at Rangiriri. Next time I am driving past Rangiriri and see the Cemetery I hope I remember to think about York and just how far from home those men are buried.
3. York's old town. We ate in a pub built in the early 1600s still called its original name, "Ye Olde Starre". Cool. This isn't a great photo but gives you an idea of what much of central York is like. Places like York also make you realise just how much London lost in 1666.
4. A small shop in a Tudor house selling hard boiled lollies. Mmmm.

5. The most fabulous dolls house shop I have ever seen. It sold everything from doll churches to miniature roasts, and almost made me want to take up a new hobby. Or, at least, buy a miniature lemon meringue pie.6. Fairfax House, the best preserved Georgian house in England. It should come with a warning though: "visiting may make your current house feel woefully inadequate and cheaply furnished".

7. The old wall. It goes around most of the old city, and is great to walk on. Tane especially enjoyed yelling "you will never capture my castle!" to cars passing below. We also discovered that people back in Ye Olde times were a lot shorter than now. If Stephen and Tane hadn't ducked they would have been concussed coming down the stairs as we exited.
8. Random place names.9. Winning a free t-shirt. Tane wears his in the photo below while I wear a facial expression that clearly shows that by then I had eaten too many of the lollies described in #4.

10. Being out of London. I loved our trip so much now I am eagerly awaiting a summer of travel and seeing more of Old Blighty. Yay!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

It's Oscar time!

This is the part of the year when Lauren and I go to the pictures and see as many of the films picking up lots of awards nominations as we can. Yay!

Here are my thoughts on the nominees at the major categories at the upcoming Academy Awards, except Best Supporting Actress, as we’ve only seen one of the movies. We’ve managed to see all the Best Picture nominees, which we don’t always get to do in New Zealand, where smaller movies can take months to arrive, but as always there’s plenty of much-nominated films that we’ve not seen - like The Wrestler, Doubt and Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire is the favourite here, and it deserves to win. The other films are very good, especially The Reader, but Slumdog’s verve and brilliant storytelling give it the edge. But it’s a shame that the best film of the year, WALL-E, or the best superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight, didn’t get nominations. They’ve got a good chance of picking up plenty of awards in the ‘minor’ categories, like effects and sound, but they should have had a shot at the big one.
Check out the comments for Lauren’s thoughts on the nominees and my top films of the last 12 months. Please leave your thoughts too.

Best Director
Danny BoyleSlumdog Millionaire
Stephen DaldryThe Reader
David FincherThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron HowardFrost/Nixon
Gus Van SantMilk
Probably Boyle, if the Academy is sharing everyone else’s love of Slumdog, but I think Gus Van Sant might sneak this for Milk. I have a suspicion the Academy wants to make a statement by recognising this strong film about the US’s first openly gay politician, Californian Harvey Milk, particularly given the state recently quashed proposals to allow gay marriage.

Best Actor
Richard JenkinsThe Visitor
Frank LangellaFrost/Nixon
Sean PennMilk
Brad PittThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey RourkeThe Wrestler
Pitt is very good, Langella’s portrayal of the flawed president is better, and Penn is better still as Milk. But Hollywood loves a comeback, which former drug washout Rourke has done in grand style, so I think he’ll get it. Other actors who would have been worthy nominees in this category are Colin Farrel in In Bruges and David Cross, the young man in The Reader.

Best Actress
Anne HathawayRachel Getting Married
Angelina JolieChangeling
Melissa LeoFrozen River
Meryl StreepDoubt
Kate WinsletThe Reader
Only seen Jolie and Winslet’s performances, which are both excellent. Winslet is the hot favourite and deserves a win, both for pulling off a very challenging role and for being perhaps the finest actress of her generation.

Best Supporting Actor
Josh BrolinMilk
Robert Downey, Jr.Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour HoffmanDoubt
Heath LedgerThe Dark Knight
Michael ShannonRevolutionary Road
Ledger would be the favourite for this even if he didn’t get the sympathy vote. With his death, he’s unstoppable. Has there ever been a better performance as a villain? Nice to see Downey Jr nominated. The dude playing the dude playing the dude disguised as a dude was hilarious. Deserving of a place is Brendan Gleeson, who was wonderful as an ageing, philosophical hitman in In Bruges. The reliable Ralph Fiennes was also top draw in The Reader.

Best Original Screenplay
Frozen River
In Bruges
A tough one. In Bruges is brilliantly wordy, WALL-E is brilliantly unwordy, but Milk might get it for the reasons stated above.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
Expect this to go with the Slumdog tide – if it doesn’t, that could point to an upset in Best Picture. By the way, Lauren says the book the movie is based on, Q&A, is well worth reading.

Click here for a list of all the nominees. Expect The Dark Knight, Slumdog and Benjamin Button to share the technical and musical awards.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Reality TV being too real?

As I have nothing wise to report or anything witty to write about this evening, I have decided to jot down a few random thoughts about something I read about today - Jade Goody.

I don't know if any of you have been following the story of ex-Big Brother and famous-for-being-famous woman Jade Goody, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer and has found out she has weeks to live. This is indeed tragic, she is only 28 and will leave behind two small boys. The thing that has boggled my mind, though, is that she has said that she will allow TV crews to film her death. On one hand, it makes sense - after all, I only know about her at all because of reality TV. She was in the Indian Big Brother when she was diagnosed, and you can see the video of when she found out about her cancer on You Tube. She has also said that before she dies she wants to make as much money for her boys as she can, and filming her death may be one way to do this.

On the other hand - filming the moment that she dies? Is it tacky, tragic, or both? I hate the idea of it myself, a video of the moment you die is like the ultimate photo that you can never decide to delete after the fact. I would also be too scared of doing something terribly undignified in my last moments, but then again I would never go on Big Brother either so am clearly very different than her. I can't quite decide what I think about it, but as I said earlier the story continues to boggle my mind and leaves me very sad for her and her boys.

What do you think?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Winter wonderland

Outside the apartment right now is a white world. 20cm of snow has fallen in London in the last 24 hours, the heaviest snowfall since 1991.

The front of our apartment last night, after a few hours of very heavy snowfall

The view from the back of our apartment, the next morning

20cm may not be a big deal for you Canadians and Scandanavians, but when you're from a part of the world where the only proper snow you get to play in is on top of a very high volcano, it's a big deal indeed. I was a very happy camper - particularly since my work was closed and I got to spend much of the day wandering happily around the neighbourhood, admiring how everything familiar had gotten a coating of magic.

However, there was a very big down side to all the white stuff, as Lauren found out on her way to work.

Little did she know ...

This much snow is not only a big deal for me, it's also a big deal for this part of England - where the public transport system almost collapsed. No buses were running, much of the tube system was down and there were heavy delays on the trains. Lauren's journey to work took almost three times longer than normal.

One of the tube trains stalled at the station

While Lauren's train was stalled on the tracks outside the station, things began to get a bit tense. One man started hyperventilating. A woman decided she had had enough and tried to force the doors open so she could walk to work along the tracks - which could have been fatal. Eventually, after getting into a fight with another passenger who was trying to stop her, she smashed open a window trying to open another door. All the ruckus, of course, meant that the train was further delayed and tempers got even shorter.

The woman, who was kept inside the train, was arrested when she did get off.

I had a much better day, wandering around and taking a zillion photos. Some of the people were slogging grimly through it.

But not the kids. All the schools were closed so they were all out in their parkas and gumboots, throwing snowballs, tobogganing and, of course ...

Making snowmen!

I had a great day. Though I suspect after a couple more white days, with transport headaches and looming deadlines, the thrill will have gone!