Tuesday, July 25, 2006

1274 meteorite strike?

Frank Meeres' History of Norwich quotes the seventeenth century Norfolk antiquary, John Kirkpatrick, as saying that in 1274

on St Nicholas' Eve were great earthquakes, lightning and thunder, with a huge dragon and a blazing star.

I've been having a wee scan around the net and found this reference:

1274 AD: Earthquake again felt throughout England; Glastonbury destroyed.

This reference seems to be from a local inscription that saying Glastonbury church was destroyed in an earthquake, and some sources give 1275 as the year, so I don't know if they're referring to the same event.

But what if they are? Glastonbury is at least 150 miles from Norwich. It's not exactly Chicxulub, but pretty scary nonetheless.

Some really old poems

For metals is Exeter famous
And York for her broad wooded plains
While Chester is proud of her Frenchmen
Norwich boasts of her Irish and Danes

Caistor was a city when Norwich was none
Norwich was built with Caistor's stone

Musselburgh was a town when Edinburgh was none
And Musselburgh will be one when Edinburgh is gone

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The times I nearly died (part 2)

Time: Today
Place: The A47 Norwich Southern Bypass
How did it happen? A Peugeot on the other side of the dual carriageway careered into the central reservation, heading straight for me, before splatting into the safety barrier and spreading a cloud of debris over my side of the road. Quite a driving lesson.
How was it? Pretty grim, especially for the Peugeot driver, I reckon.
Valuable life lesson learned? Never promise to join the forces of evil. God reads blogs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On balance, I've decided to become evil

Oh it's not that being good doesn't have its attractions - the satisfaction of benevolence, the pat-on-the-head-you've-become-a-good-man-son, the shiny teeth, the halo. But good characters have whiny self-obsessed partners (witness: Spider-Man), hellish day jobs (witness: Spider-Man - working as a science teacher at the High School where you were mercilessly bullied is surely a Stygian punishment) and a succession of family members and friends either pointlessly butchered or replaced by robots (witness: Spider-Man).

Doppelganger suggests I should use the old Nietzsche beyond-good-and-evil trick, but I reckon that's just an excuse for behaving unpleasantly and listening to lots of Wagner. Besides which, the mention of Nietzsche brings flashbacks of Billy Idol riding on the back of a US Army World War Two Jeep through the ruins of my old school. I'm pretty sure this in fact didn't happen, but I treasure the memory nonetheless.

Anyway, evil characters get to live in lairs, hire flunkies and flaunt the rules of petty bourgeois morality, and you just can't vote against luxury. The only downside is that I might become a one-shot Cable and Deadpool villain who gets humiliatingly beaten up and then slammed up in Ryker's Island (Stryker's Island? am I the only one confused by these names?) before getting disembowelled by Matt Murdock with a spoon for comic relief.

The best way forward, I think, is to obtain the Power Cosmic and build myself a reputation by crushing an entire galaxy. Sorted.

Friday, July 07, 2006


My computers are all looking at me. I don't feel safe.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

In Chess the pawns go first

X-Men: Last Stand

This film has a bad case of Infinite Crisis syndrome. Take a few good ideas (or in the case of Infinite Crisis, about thirty) which don't belong anywhere near each other, shuffle scenes together more-or-less randomly, add lots of explosions - you can't go wrong with explosions - and stand back to admire your brain-aching mishmash.

My fourteen year old niece politely told me afterwards that it was all too confusing, though doubtless her teenage mind was running through the full gamut of insults you might want to inflict on a doddery old uncle.

The two themes of the film were otherness and love for someone who is losing their mind. They're good themes, these two, and might well have made two good films. Obviously there was nothing new for those of us who have garages bulging with old copies of Uncanny X-Men, but why should there be? The mutant cure main plot was obviously a stand-in for asking how society might react if someone invented a "cure" for race. Ian McKellan was back as Magneto, and looking more like a parody with each scene. He had a villainous posse whose women didn't object to being part of a "Brotherhood" and who had clearly mistaken bad facial tattoos for scariness (sooooo 1990s). Everybody bashed each other.

But there was also Jean Grey, the benchmark for classic X-Men storytelling, having a breakdown caused by...well, that wasn't made clear. It may have been an adverse reaction to having a lake drop on her at the end of the previous film. Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the comic, is as much Scott Summers' story as Jean. The reader sees Jean's disintegration through her lover's eyes, and it is his sadness at the loss of his childhood love which makes the story so unsettling.

In the film, sadly, Scott gets butchered by Jean early on, with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine stepping into the bereaved's shoes. This doesn't work at all as Jean and Logan hardly know each other, and anyway, it's the animalistic part of Jean which is attracted to Logan. Marionnette rightly points out that Logan is a Mary Sue - wish fulfillment characters once typified by teenage geek Wesley Crusher steering the Enterprise - but also one who couldn't have been more irritating if he had been dipped in itching powder. What makes this character work is his barely-suppressed savagery. Make him the X-Men's de facto leader, or have him fall in lurve, and he loses what makes him good. "They've tamed you", say Jean. Too right.

Now I'm pre-disposed to be attracted to Jean Grey (obviously this is a saddo teenage fantasy, but let's run with it) but poor Famke Janssen, faced with having to act the unactable as Dark Phoenix, resorted to the most intense, leather-trousered glowering since Tom Welling got at the Red Kryptonite in Smallville. By the time Jean started her rampage on Alcatraz, the film was descending into farce. Although only one line was laugh-out-loud funny: Magneto's motivational "in Chess the pawns go first". You can't learn stuff like that out of leadership books.

And the editing was off. The sequences which would have made sense of the Bobby-Kitty-Rogue love triangle seemed to have been mislaid on the cutting room floor, and Colossus almost entirely disappeared, which may have been a mercy.

And the moral is: don't butcher Patrick Stewart half-way through a movie - the whole film visibly deflated once Jean exploded him. On the plus side, at least there's not going to be a follow up. Is there?

Monday, July 03, 2006

What I love about my country...

...is that we can have a footballer who kicks an opponent in the nadgers, and when he gets sent off we all complain about how perfidious these foreigners are.

It's the kind of spirit which conquered a quarter of the world's surface, you know. And then lost it all.