Archive for November, 2008


November 23rd, 2008

Had a bit of snow here this weekend. The temperature took a bit of a nose dive and is hanging aorund 0 C during the day and -3 C at night. So nothing too bad, but nothing you would want to spend the night on a park bench in either. 

Here are some shots of the garden in snow.

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Little Things

November 20th, 2008

I have never seen the point in giving people Homework that is not due for one or two days. Certainly giving a writing assignment on Wednesday that is due Friday and then another on Thursday that is due Monday and a third assignment over the weekend means that you end up writing every day anyway. So why not just make the writing assignments due the next day. Using the excuse that its supposed to be an intensive course when people complain about the number of writing assignments doesn’t help either.

As well as writing assignments we have to make a presentation, ein Referat, on the subject of our choice to show off our (lack of) German. I had mine this week, before we had all these writing assignments and not so long in the course that I needed to use complex grammar things like Nominalisierung or Konjunktiv I or stuff like that.

As part of the Referats people have being using presentations as inspiration, enlightenment and occasionally as a crutch. Open Office is so far the tool of choice, and NeoOffice for the Apple fanboys. I am providing a lot of advice and support for Impress and inserting pictures etc. The first question I always ask is do people have a good Internet connection to access Wiki Commons or Wikipedia or to find other publicly available info and sometimes to download OpenOffice itself. And the answer is always yes! Sometimes with a side order of “what kind of backward place do you think you are in that everyone doesn’t have at least a 6Mb connection to the Internet”…

Panini of Solace

November 12th, 2008

The two things I knew going into the current Bond Movie were a) Everybody Dies and b) It a bit Art House. Both courtesy of John and Nev who were here last week. And both are almost true. I don’t know that any movie with a budget of over <Dr Evil> $100 MILLION DOLLARS </Dr Evil> can be classified as Art House and everybody doesn’t die although a lot more could have/should have.

Nobody should go to Bond Movies for the plot, after all there usually isn’t one. Well thats not true, there is but they have become such a background to the cinema  experience that they are easily captured and flowchartted. I’m not sure that flowchartted is a word either, but it could be in German so lets run with it. So if plot isn’t important, or is as expected then a lot depends on the actors and ambience.

The acting in this is pretty good, given that it is a Bond Movie. The new guy seems to be working out fairly well, and Judi Dench is still the best M ever. There are lots of other hot-swappable characters in standard support roles a lot of whom get to die.

Continuing with the trend from the last movie, the cinematography is very good and not typical of previous Bond Movies. The locations used were fairly random, but used to good effect. The Palio in Siena made a nice backdrop to the Parkour scene, but they did Parkour in the last movie too and this one felt a bit scripted – 1 extended scene per movie, max 7 mins duration. It could be argued that there is a Parkour scene in every Bond movie, often involving skis and helicopters, but we didn’t have a fancy French name for it before.

South America seems to be the place to be this year, and I was more than half expecting the mysterious treasure to be a  Crystal Skull, but that was the wrong movie. Still the Hotel thingy blowing up in the desert was pretty good in a burning explosion kinda way. The whole water in the Desert thing seemed stupid and contrived though, and we never got to to see what happened with it. Some of us were hoping (in vain) for catastrophic Dam failure, possibly through explosion, and much denudation of people and property.

Speaking of stupid and contrived the motivations of the bad guys were very “Pinky and the Brain”ish. And were never quite explained or followed through on. Still I’m sure we can rely on MI6 and the CIA to take care of a worldwide conspiracy, co-ordinated and run by ruthless Billionaires. Just because the Intelligence agencies have been horribly and multiply infiltrated and completely oblivious to the whole situation all along doesn’t mean they can’t deal with Qunatum now!!! Right? Speaking of Quantum the title “Quantum of Solace” makes no sense and even for a Bond Movie is at best tangentially linked to the plot.

After the movie we found a nice Italian place that seemed to be a cross between a sandwich shop and a wine bar. Kinda like Jennys with wine, for people who remember Jennys. Given that it took me ten minutes and three wrong turns to get to the Cinema in the first place, I’ll probably never find it again!