Thursday, 18 July 2013

It Must Be Thursday: A Review of Some Things

The ongoing saga of a weekly That-Was-The-Week-That-Was posting.
Commenting on things that caught my attention for better or for worse and left me shaking my fist at the sky and shouting "Whyyyy!!!" 
After all: until science brings us a better use for Thursdays - what else is there to do?

Cast your minds back a while to my most recent film review will remember that I promised to bring you my thoughts on Man Of Steel which I had every intention of getting to see whilst it was on the big screen

Sadly time and tide have defeated me and I just haven't had the time to get to the flicks and now it seems to have finished.

My life has been rather hectic as of late: spent travelling, working, travelling and then recovering with hectic weekends trying to squeeze some free moments into - hence my current absence from blogland, which i hope to solve once i get a computer that i can use on the move

So instead of the aforementioned review of MoS I will attempt to bring you some other reviews.  There might be five of them but then again probably not.

#1: Bruce Springsteen Live (Concert)
A couple of years ago I made the decision not to go and see Brucie when he toured with his Seeger Sessions band firstly because I hadn't heard the album and knew that he was mostly doing songs from that period and secondly because I wanted to see him with the full E Street Band.  This, having heard the live album of the tour, was a mistake as the tour was definately unmissable - only I did.

So when The Boss announced a gig in my hometown with the full E Street ensembe I knew that I had to go regardless of the extremely steep charge of the ticket

It was a day where the weather was busy ominizing: dark clouds scudding across the sky and threatening to let loose their heavy load - indeed as we walked down towards the open air arena it was already trying to rain.  Fortunately it held off and even threatened to clear entirely.

On this particular tour, The Wrecking Ball tour, the evening is divided almost equally into three: the first hour is a combination of a set list and a requests section, with Bruce picking signs requesting specific songs from the audience and showing them to the band - which they then proceeded to play.  The second hour was an album from start to finish (we got Born To Run) and then finally a third hour of mainly greatest hits

Having just looked up Mr Springsteen on wikipedia I find that he is only a few years younger than my dad and should probably be requesting his free bus pass - and yet where many older rockers seem to be going through the motions of a pre-ordained "this is the bit where i pick someone out of the audience" ritual (U2 and The Rolling Stones I'm looking at you) Brucie managed to make all the improvised bits look, well...improvised.

I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan and consider the man to be a poet so am naturally biased, but Argent (who went with me as more of a Springsteen virgin) was suitably impressed and remarked both on the tightness of the band, the energy and the accessibility of the music.

True - with it being a stadium gig the sound quality wasn't great, but if you get a chance to see the man in action then you really should take it whilst you can.

#2: Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel Of Love (album)
Whilst on the subject of Brucie I've been enjoying something of a Springsteen-a-thon on my way home recently, listening to each studio album in chronological order until I have reached this mid 80s effort which was the first Springsteen album I ever heard, but equally had not heard again since.

I was lent it by a friend just shortly after it came out and can remember not being that impressed and I have to say that time and a revisit have done little to change that opinion.  The problem is that for some reason at this point in his career he decided to ditch his trademark sound of guitars, gutsy saxophones and working man lyrics and go for an almost entirely keyboard led album that reeks of the sort of over production that makes the 80s infamous.  The best song of the album is Brilliant Disguise, but the work as a whole lacks soul and depth and is a million miles behind any of his high water marks.

Still, and possibly inevitably, whenever i think of Springsteen it is always the cover of this album, with him leaning on the bonnet of a white cadillac resplendent in suit and bootlace tie, that comes to mind.

#3: Much Ado About Nothing (film)
What do you do when you've just finished the biggest blockbuster special effects movie of your career and have two weeks off before you start making the TV series?  Well, if you're creative genius Joss Whedon then the answer is that you call up all your friends and say "Hey, come round to my house and we'll make Shakespeare with the iambic pentameters and everything"

The result is a black and white, slightly out of time rendition of one of The Bard's better known comedies in which any fan of Whedon's work won't be able to resist pointing at the screen and saying "Eh, isn't that whats-his-name from Buffy/Firefly"

As with all my reviews I shall try not to give any spoilers away other than to say that after 5 minutes or so you get used to the dialogue and find yourself immersed in an entirely believable and slightly claustrophobic world.  Top plaudits should go to Nathan Fillion who steals every scene he appears in as well as to the two main leads of Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof who hold the piece together extremely well.

The only negative i can find is the two perplexing flashback sequences, which at least on first viewing leave you wondering exactly when they are happening and what they are supposed to signify.

#4: The 100 Most Pointless Things In The World (book)
I feel sad for those of you in other countries that have never had the joy of watching the TV game show "Pointless"

The formula is this: comedian Alexander Armstrong (and why is it, btw, that game show hosts are always comedians here?) and all round clever person Richard Osman invite four teams of two to answer questions on a number of topics - with the twist that they must find the answer that the least people thought of, thus showing that they know something more than the average Joe Public whilst aiming to score the lowest of the contestants or achieve finding something that no one else knew - ie a "pointless" answer

It is arguably the Blockbusters of the 2010s - IE a game show at approx 5pm that has gathered a cult following and deservedly so

So when I saw the book on sale during a low moment at the train station I picked up a copy expecting good things - however, it was not what I had hoped for.

What I had hoped was that I would find some of the topics that people had known the least about listed inside accompanied by an interesting, but ultimately useless, fact about said thing.  Instead it was a list of 100 things that Alexander and Richard found irritating or pointless that, whilst amusing in its own right, was ever so slightly pointless (to coin a phrase)

#5: The 3G Apple I-phone
One of the things that came with my new job, along with endless commuting, was a works i-phone. 

I've never owned anything by Apple before unless you count a couple of cans of Strongbow (cider) and a few Beatles albums...(yeah, ok, you got me - both different kinds of apple) - largely because I don't use my phone anywhere near enough to justify the exorbitent monthly charge of having any i-gadgets

The main reason I have it is to call/receive calls from people who I am working with and to receive emails on the move thus making me a "modern and dynamic employee" and as far as it goes the i-phone is perfectly fine.  It has a much longer battery life than most phones i've used, possibly due to the 1-D graphics and seems to be of comparable quality to other phones and has even led to me listening to podcasts for the first time

But the one area where it annoys the hell out of me is the amount of things that need to be done in co-ordination with other i-gadgets.

Take, for instance, putting a favourite song as a ringtone.  Now this is something that i expect to be able to do as a standard thing on my phone - with my personal phone I can go onto any tune-purchasing website, download the song to my phone, stick it in a certain folder and then set it as a ringtone - done in two seconds without any fuss.  With the i-phone i can still download, albiet grudgingly, from any site i want - but i then need to get a ring-tone converter from i-tunes, chose which 30 seconds of the song i want to set, go home to my PC and log into i-tunes, connect my phone to my PC and somehow (i still haven't figured this bit out yet) co-ordinate the i-tunes on my computer with my phone and ONLY THEN somehow magically get a small fragment of said song set as my ringtone.  Call that technology on the move?  I don't.

#6: The Chap Who Delivers The Metro Newspaper To The Train Station (usually about 2 minutes after I've crossed to the other side)
Aah The Metro - a kind of smorgasbord of news that no one else could be bothered to print, available in train stations and busses across the land for free and then, shortly afterwards, abandoned on seats and floors for people to trip over.  Full of worryingly adult content for something that is readily available to be picked up by any given five-year-old travelling on public transport and an endless source of unintentional humour

About twice a week the aforementioned Chap manages to deliver the magazine before I cross over, meaning that I can flick through the pages just quick enough to a) catch my train and b) avoid losing too many IQ points and his method of delivery is to screech to a halt at the station, climb out with two big bundles in hand and throw them with abandon at the locked door of the station master not even pausing to remove the two strips that keep them bundled together.

This has been causing me endless frustration as it meant that I had to prize out my copy from underneath the straps, often ruffling or even tearing it (both of which stress me for reasons I can't quite explain) until this morning when - late as ever - I watched from the other side of the tracks as another passenger inadvertantly showed me how to remove the straps without a pocket knife or the necessessity of losing fingertips.

Still, come on mate - would it really hurt you to put them down carefully and remove the strap?  Probably yes...


Stephen Hayes said...

I was wondering why we hadn't heard from you in a while. Don't burn yourself out with too many activities. Take care.

Helena said...

Some must think I watch a lot of shit with my recommended films from my sidebar! You know, I've never gotten round to watching Much Ado and I don't know why. I think I need my Shakespearean son to keep me straight but keeping him in is a problem!

lol....I'm much more a Tipping Point and The Chase nut! You know you're getting old when you drop everything for a game show with a cuppa tea and a Fudge!!

The Bug said...

"I don't use my phone anywhere near enough to justify the exorbitent monthly charge of having any i-gadgets" - this is exactly why I don't have a fancy phone. Not worth it. Even though it would be cool as we're traveling around to be able to look up useless trivia :)

LOVE Springsteen! My favorite album is The Rising...

I know how to take those strips off - comes from having to take them off of boxes of copy paper. Which just goes to show that I'm a peon at my job - ha!

The Bug said...

P.S. Mike & I really should watch Much Ado sometime - I need a Captain Tightpants fix :)

Michael Burrows said...

We share a love of Bruce. I've never had the opportunity to see him live, but I too would fork over if he came to my nearest city. Him and Nick Cave.

Tunnel of Love is where I first started to really listen.

I enjoyed this slice of life.

Roxy said...

What what what? Nathan Fillion is in a Joss Whedon version of Much Ado? Who could imagine? OK. I am breathing now. I liked your Apple joke. I actually got it ... I love reading your stream of consciousness/thoughts in this posting!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Stephen - i will try not to, and also to keep visiting when i can

Helena - i don't think i've seen tipping point, but have never really warmed to the chase

Bug - The Rising is a fantastic album

Michael - it is worth going if you can

Roxy - thanks - mostly even i don't know where i'm going!