July 23rd, 2006


A Recipe


  • Some fencers: M, N+S, myself and siggav.
  • Some food (baked potato salad, bean salad, ham and one of katlinel's couscous variations.
  • A friend you haven't seen for a long time.
  • Some classic swashbuckling audiovisual entertainment. For instance, The Court Jester, Xena's homage For Him The Bell Tolls, Some sketches by the British Academy of Fencing, and Scaramouche.
  • Intoxicating beverages (including, but not limited to, a pitcher of refreshing Pimms and lemonade).

Mix well. Serve with a box of chocolates, ice cream and lashings of lively conversation.

The Court Jester

Not really a proper review, since we didn't watch this Danny Kaye classic with, shall we say, full attention. But it was certainly entertaining. Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, I was surprised at its inventiveness and how well its humour translated into the modern world. Oh, it triggers a lot of flashbacks to "When You Wish Upon A Star"-era Disney, etc. but it still had us laughing and cheering at the screen.

For thems wot don't know: The throne's been usurped, and Danny Kaye, an ex-theatre entertainer, is sent into the King's castle on behalf of the Black Fox (read "Robin Hood"). Kaye's taken the place of the Jester newly appointed to the castle, unaware that the Jester was supposed to be there as part of someone else's furtive plans... A witch casts spells, changing Kaye's personality occasionally, and Comedy Ensues.

(The Xena episode For Him The Bell Tolls paid homage to this movie, where Aphrodite casts a spell on Joxer so that the haplessly genuinely becomes Joxer The Mighty when he hears the sound of a bell. And changes back again on the same trigger.)

I'll have to watch it again - not least of which because of the songs. Oh yes: It's a musical. And writing as a filker, they're good - lyrically, certainly. Lots of clever wordplay in there.
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Another film we didn't watch too closely, so I don't really have the plot clear. Effectively, Stewart Granger becomes Scaramouche, a theatre player, as a means of hiding from arrest, while training to learn how to fence sufficiently well to take revenge on the callous duellist who killed his brother. There's some damn good scenes in this, including much duelling sabre, and an amazingly long bout in a theatre at the climax.

Kinda weird, though: I couldn't help but think that Steward Granger looks just like Boothby Graffoe...
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    Slightly boggled
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District 13

District 13 had a pretty clear genesis: someone saw David Belle in some programme about Free Running, and thought, "Damn, we gotta make a movie about this!"

The plot's pretty simple, and surprisingly effective for all that. A mere four years into the future, a ghetto in Paris is walled off, with all the unpleasantness locked inside. Within its walls, Belle is fighting against drug baron Bibi Naceri, who has obtained a rather scary bomb, and cop Cyril Raffaelli is sent in with Belle in an attempt to disable it before it goes off. It's a buddy movie with lots of impressive action sequences, and if that's all you're after, you won't be disappointed.

Damn, but it's got some good sequences in it. The two at the start, introducing Belle's and Raffaelli's respective characters, are the most jaw-dropping, I think, but there's still plenty to look at later on. And Belle makes a surprisingly good lead, being easy on the eye and not looking all that much out of place - not bad, for a non-actor.

It's a French-language film with English subtitles, which probably explains why it's practically vanished from cinema listings within the space of a week - a great shame, since it deserves better. It's not going to change anyone's life, but it's highly entertaining, and I'll be buying it as soon as it hits the shelves in HMV.
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    He just did *what*?
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A work in progress...

In between the various movies, some progress was made in cleaning up the computer.

The lack of a printer system turns out to be that the system was configured to use LPRng (a BSD variant), while what was installed was CUPS (which isn't). Go figure.

The splash screen hanging around was, in fact, a Bluetooth daemon applet that was taking a long time to do its job - quite possibly because the machine had no Bluetooth-related hardware. Anyway, disabled that, and now the splash screen goes away. Hurrah.

Less joy on getting the colour printer to work. It's an Canon MP150, and looking around, it looks like the only way of getting Linux support is by buying TurboPrint.

Or by plugging it into the MacBook, and sharing the printer, which is what I plan to do. :-)

And it might be that this is just in time, since yet olde HP LaserJet has just started feeding multiple pages again, a precursor to it being chucked. Y'see, it's a "known feature" of this particular model that the feeder pad hardens over time, and simply stops working properly. HP said they'll give out one free replacement, and then you have to replace the printer. I had my replacement quite a few years ago...

Mixed messages

It's one thing to be in a cinema, having just paid for your seat, to be accosted by an "public service" piece about how pirate DVDs are really poor quality, on account of their small screen-size and terrible sound, etc --- [ "Hey, morons, just who do you think your demograph is, here?" ] --- but to then have that followed up by adverts for mobile phone networks, where you can download footage to watch on your one square inch of LCD screen..?

Words fail me.
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SFX Event

Anyone notice how SFX Magazine has stopped doing the SFX Event?

Given the prices they were charging for, well, every little thing, I can't help but wonder what it was that made them decide to stop.

(Though I suppose it might just have been a change of management, what with a new editor and a style re-launch within the last year or so.)

At least now they appear to be slightly more willing to mention other cons. Well, WorldCon got an actual article, anyway.
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    curious curious
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