Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Adams Family

I still have moments of heart breaking loss when I think about how brilliant Douglas Adams would have been at tweeting.

By all accounts the man loved procrastinating and the 140 character format would have suited him to a tee. But alas, it will never happen, and I still occasionally get blindsided by that loss.

And then,

My old friend Stephen Fry (We're very close. I'm one of his followers on Twitter you know) pointed out the eighteenth birthday of Polly Jane Rocket Adams. Douglas' daughter. And I immediately hit follow. I could read all of her publicly posted comments. And it felt really, really weird.

I mentioned this on Twitter but I intentionally didn't reference her Twitter handle. I kind of didn't want her to know I existed. Like an ageing accountant sneaking birdlike glances at the drunk and giggling club girls on the train.

It was at this point that my old friend radio personality Spencer Howson (I'm one of his followers on Twitter you know) replied to me including the easily tracked data. I was outed. I felt exposed, but there was nothing I could do.

And then she wrote back.

I mean...
Suddenly I felt like a voyeur. I got the feeling of horror when someone's father is giving you one chance to explain what those binoculars are for and he really wants to believe that it's for bird watching.

I felt like I was doing something really wrong. I tried to define why that could be, but it was a feeling that swam around inside me without a metaphor to attach itself to.

And then it clicked.

I feel like that guy who's in love with the unattainable girl so he's dating her younger sister.

The horrible motivations of "I'll take what I can get, because this brings me closer to what I want".

So I'm still surreptitiously following the eighteen year old girl (a phrase that meant something altogether more horrifying a decade ago), but now at least I know why I feel like a massive creep whenever I read her  posts.

If you would like to follow Polly Adams her username is @pollyjradams.

If she would like to follow me it's @dnabeast.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Batman Conspiracy

Holy shit!! You guys?

Be prepared to be astounded. Josh Helfferich discovered that if he turned the new Twitter logo on its side...

It looks, like BATMAN!

Oh sure, you say. That's probably just a coincidence. Be truly shocked when I show you that your journey into flabbergaustation has only just begun. I did some research into some other popular companies.

Behold, the apple logo.

Some simple tricky and...

But we're not over yet. See Apple's biggest competitor. Windows!

Some simple adjustments...

Beware the dark screen of death.

More Microsoftery.

This has gone way past mere coincidence. These logos are obviously all about capturing the strength of Batman and presenting it subliminally.

Behold the most shocking of them all.

The Green Lantern.

Outer space police. And yet still...

They defer to the Batman.

It seems that if you find something that looks vaguely like Batman and then make it look more like Batman...

It ends up looking A BIT LIKE BATMAN!

Tell your friends!

Tell all your friends!

It's Batman!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Etihad it up to here

The flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney is 14 hours long.

I sat next to my wife and waited for takeoff. The seats next to me were taken up with…
Child, child, mum, baby, child.

In the aisle was a particularly frustrated looking father comparing tickets. It seemed that the airline had glitched and split them up. I took my opportunity. "I'll swap seats. I've already travelled with my wife for 8 hours from London. I'm sure she's sick of me by now".

And thus I left her by herself to put up with the frustrations of infants for 14 hours. Yes indeed, and there would surely be no 'uppance' coming to our hero as he placed himself by the window.

The first thing that stuck me was the smell.

People from different cultures have different diets and habits. Very few enjoyable smells are described as 'novel' and the funk being given off by this gentleman after his own long flight from Lebanon was no exception. After a few conversational gambits it turned out that English was far from his first language and that he would most assuredly be in no way interested in swapping seats with my wife.

He didn't even know about the babies.

I've been practising my screaming, just for you.
In the seats ahead of me a head-strong woman in a head scarf was dealing with a similar ticketing glitch. She wanted to sit next to her ailing mother but the victim had already swapped once and was sick of it. None-the-less it didn't take much bullying to move her from her seat. Scarf woman and her mother knew what they wanted and they were going to have it. I envied her ability to be a dick.

Before the seatbelt sign had even finished chiming the two seat backs in front of us crashed back. Now I'm not a fan of it but I understand it's the concession that must be made to be able to lean back yourself in these circumstances. I turned and shrugged to my flight mate then paused to note the rage in his eyes.

Possibly these were my own bigotries exposing themselves but this seemed like a man not accustomed to a lack of respect from the women in his life.

This is where the muttering started.

They say that only 17% of communication is the actual words that you use. Listening to his dialect I got a pretty good idea of what he was trying to communicate.

I watched a movie and eventually the meal service came by. He tapped me on the shoulder.

"Is this pork?"

I looked down at the compressed white nugget in front of me. I wasn't even sure it was meat.

"The menu says it's fish."

He took a tentative bite.

"Bha! It's pork. They've served me pork."

Etihad Air is not routinely know for their pork dishes.

"There's no pork on the menu at all" I said.

The muttering returned.

I decided now was a good time to go to the bathroom. I noticed that there was not a single seat available. The classes on Etihad flights are Diamond, Pearl and Coral though I am now firmly of the opinion that they misspelled the word 'corral'.

I got bumped.
I found myself down the tail end of the plane knocking back gin and tonics and striking up conversations with every other person stretching their legs. When the stewardesses noticed I hadn't returned to my seat I mentioned my stinky travel partner and they knew exactly who I was talking about.

I asked whether there were any other seats on the plane that I might move to. I wasn't precious. They could upgrade me if that made it easier. Alas, there were none.

Five hours of Gin and Tonics later I ended up back in my seat and managed to grab some shut eye. I awoke to more muttering and the women in the scarf turned in her seat and made a pointed rebuttal. Suddenly there was shouting and thumping of seats and without thinking I jammed my cushions between them.

"We do NOT, " I exclaimed to the pungent mutterer, "TALK to people like that!".

His voice dropped but the abuse continued. Stewards flocked in to deal with the issue. I decided it was time for another gin and tonic. I overheard the stewardesses making plans. It seemed that one more transgression from my flight mate and the police would be waiting.

When we arrived back in Oz I breathed out again. It had been a hell ride, but at least I hadn't had to sit next to whinging kids the entire time.

"How was your flight?" I asked.

My wife responded "Not so bad. Those kids were so well behaved. You want to get something to eat?"

"Pork" I replied.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Best Movie of 2011

My lovely bride and I made a pact to see at least one film a month in 2011. If nothing else it gets us out of the house. It also means that there were a heck of a lot of films to choose from as my favorite.

January and our first mis-step. Out the door and immediately we trod in...

Tron 2: This film had bike races, crashes, space ships, Daft Punk and yet still managed to be as dull as stowing away on a freight train. I did, however, appreciate the way they actually used the uncanny valley to intentionally make the bad guy repulsive.

Recommendation: Do not see, but have a listen to the amazing soundtrack.

The King's Speech: It was certainly a charming tale but ultimately it left me with a sense that some indefinable opportunity had been missed.

Recommendation: Give it a go.

True Grit: Everyone raved about this film but it was so dense with growly accents I couldn't really get invested. The end was weird and contrived.

Recommendation: See it if you love westerns.

Rango: Amazing graphic design and a story that flails around like an unattended fire-hose. I dated a girl like that once. This film starts off well but falls apart very early on and only reached the back of my eyeballs.

Recommendation: Avoid!

Super 8: A cross between E.T. and Cloverfield. Excellent performances by the young stars and a great sense of claustrophobia. A fun summer romp.

Recommendation: Good date movie.

No! The other E.T.

Oceans: Free tickets to go and see a documentary about the oceans. Perhaps I've been spoiled by David Attenborough documentaries but this felt a bit like those old Disney films where they follow a couple of wacky raccoons around the park as they get themselves into mischief.

Recommendation: Watch Frozen Planet instead.

Source Code: Loved it. A cross between Groundhog Day and Mission Impossible. Everyone loves that fantasy of fixing the mistakes they made in their past. One of those great films where you chat about the implications for hours afterwards.

Recommendation: WATCH IT!!

At this point our pact became slightly unravelled. In the first six months we had a film for every month and we were one ahead. Then we travelled. Who wants to sit in movie theatres when there are fantastic sites to see? I guess I could kind of cheat and include the movies I saw on the plane, but in the tradition movies on planes I tried to select weird or downright bad films.

These included Thor (Pleasant enough super hero movie), Paul (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost doing okay without Edgar Wright), Never Say Never (The Justin Bieber Documentary) and a little nostalgia with Spies Like Us (Lord it was terrible. My expectations must have been so low back then)

We'd lost our momentum and getting back into the cinemas on our return was tricky.

Harry Potter 7 - part 2, Earth, the Solar System, the universe: We finally managed to put to bed these horribly mediocre films. It was okay but I think mostly I just felt relief when it was over. I loved the books but watching the films was a bit like looking through a Tolkien calendar. Nice to see the scenes realised but not narratively satisfying.

Recommendation: If you liked half of the Harry Potter films then this one will be good enough.

With only a few weeks to go at the end of the year we desperately tried to catch up.

Tin Tin: A decent enough spielbergian family action film but as it was based on a children's book from the sixties it didn't have much for a mature audience aside from spectacle and nostalgia.

Recommendation: Watch it if you want to kill a rainy afternoon with a pre-teen.

Mission Impossible 4: I wouldn't have seen this but for the fact that Brad Bird directed. It was a great action film but, like a children's playground, the story was there to facilitate Tom Cruise running and jumping and climbing and occasionally skinning his knee.

Recommendation: Sure. Why not.

If you are captured we will disavow all knowledge and no one will kiss it better.

Attack the Block: I had high hopes for this film and it's okay but nothing to write home about (or on a blog). Decent performances. The thing reads like a high school short story, but it is nice seeing the emotional change of the initially unlikable characters.

Recommendation: If you like comedy horrors you could do a lot worse.

Now, the big one. What was my favourite film of all of these? Which one left me so emotionally affected and inspired? Which one do I urge you to run, don't walk and try out?

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.

Whatever you think about his musical stylings, his popularity with teen girls or his 'too cool for school' attitude there is no denying that the story of this kid's rise to stardom is amazing. His natural talent, his dedication to his craft and the enthusiasm he brings to delighting his fans. This film had me grinning with delight in the back of a 737 with tears running down my face.

Recommendation: DO NOT LET your preconceptions (or the first 8 minutes of fan service) prevent you from watching this incredible story about an amazing creative mind. You may not end up a Belieber but it won't be time wasted.
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