Cooking with Julie and Julia

No post today about Lego.  One my wife’s old school friends is with us for the weekend, so the Lego has been diligently packed away and hidden in the garage again until it’s safe to resume my private geekiness.  Unless I suddenly lose all interest overnight, I expect the boxes will reappear on Monday evening, if not before…

What I’m actually blogging about now is the film we went to see this afternoon.  Now, being in the middle of the countryside, our nearest cinema isn’t exactly on our doorstep.  In fact, Cineworld in Yeovil is a good 40 minute drive away (albeit along beautiful country lanes).  The film in question was “Julie & Julia”, a film based on two true stories, one of a prestigious cook from the 50s and one of a modern day blogger who finds purpose in life through cooking.  Yes, this is a film review.  Read on if you’ve already seen the film, or if you have no intention of seeing the film but want to know what happens, or if you are planning on seeing the film but don’t mind knowing beforehand what happens.

Apparently Stig

F is for Fast Ferrari but also for Falsity

It has been said that the internet is one of the greatest inventions of the modern age, having transformed the way we live our lives from communication to business.  It allows us to book train tickets, purchase computers, and communicate with friends and family, all without having to reach across and pick up the phone.  It allows spotty teenagers to express their ill-founded opinions, it enables friendless bedroom-bound loners to socialise in multiplayer online games, and encourages us all to befriend all sorts of people to make our Facebook page look more impressive.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little too negative, but then it is the first paragraph, and it’s always good to grab your audience by the throat from the outset and say something to catch people’s attention.  It’s a well-used PR technique too, which leads me nicely onto the subject matter I’m tiptoeing around in this blog post.  The cat is out of the bag – we know who the Stig is.

I’m going slightly mad

A is for Alphabet

Bank holidays always seem to creep up on me and take me by surprise.  I can’t quite put my finger on why, but where most people live for their days off and eagerly anticipate any excuse not to go into work, the novelty has never really hit home for me.  As such the day never really gets noticed in my diary, and it usually takes someone to remind me that it’s happening for me to realise that I don’t have to do any work that day.  Maybe it’s because I work from home.  Maybe it’s because I’m just not very observant.  Maybe it’s because I don’t do enough with bank holidays for it to be special enough to look forward to.  Maybe.

Anyway, on Monday it was a bank holiday, and since Ellie had reminded me of that fact I just about remembered not to do any work.  Which was a good thing, because we’d arranged to go round to Anne-Marie’s house to watch Takin’ over the Asylum, a BBC series from a couple of decades ago starring a very young David Tennant, set in a loony bin mental health hospital with a would-be DJ trying to get a hospital radio station up and running.  It wouldn’t work today, of course, which explains why it was never repeated, but now that’s it’s on DVD (mainly due to David’s popularity, no doubt) it’s become a quick favourite among Tennant fans.  So Anne-Marie made us invited us to watch it with her on Monday.  All of it.  All 6 episodes of it.  And it was hilarious.

Marley and me

My wife likes dogs.  Probably heavily influenced by her childhood, which was somewhat dominated by two Golden Retrievers which whom she shared the house.  No surprise then that for my birthday treat we went to the cinema to see a film about a dog.  At least, that’s what the title and the trailer would like you think.  It turned out to be less about the dog and more about the relationships that developed around the dog.

For those who haven’t yet seen Marley and Me, feel free to either keep on reading or read something else, depending on whether you’re the type to get offended by spoilers.  I’m still not sure what spoilers I’ll actually use here, we’ll see during the course of writing, but needless to say it’s about the contents of the film, and I may well end up mentioning some important plot devices.  Just so you’re warned.

Lego Tumbler

When Christopher Nolan decided to shoot a new Batman film in 2005, one of the most iconic components of the design was the Batmobile.  Over the years it’s been seen in all sorts of guises, and by today’s standards most have been cheesy and unbelievable.  The ‘Tumbler’ was different, having a back-story of its own, and was quite simply awesome.  Of course, it came with its own technical difficulties to overcome, most notably at the front wheels.  With no conventional axle to hold the wheels in place and provide steering, everything had to be reversed and miniaturised, whilst keeping it rugged enough to stand up to the rough treatment of jumping over things.  By all accounts the Tumbler was a fantastic machine, both in looks and performance.

Tumbler completeOne might think, then, that such technical achievements would not be possible on a smaller scale.  Think again.  Having reclaimed my Lego a couple of weekends ago, I set about creating my own Tumbler.  I had seen on another web site that other people had had the same idea, creating some stunning reconstructions of the iconic vehicle.  But almost all had static front wheels, providing no steering, and only a few sported suspension.  True, it’s no easy task, and it took a lot of thinking and experimenting to get it right.  But I did it, and I am pleased to reveal images of my very own working model of the Tumbler, completely constructed of Lego.

Dealing with the famous

I recently had the pleasure of watching The Queen, the 2006 film starring Helen Mirren, which had been very kindly sent to us by Amazon as part of their film rental service (which is hideously unpredictable, but that’s another story).  In concept it is dangerously true to life, showing those awesome and awful events surrounding the death of Princess Diana.  The danger is that not only were those events so dear to the public’s heart and such a tragedy for so many people who had never met her, but that the film revolved around real people, most of whom are still alive today.  To represent these real people in a way that is revealing, convincing, yet not overly comical, is a challenge few would take on.  Needless to say, I thoroughly approved of the film, its concept, and its delivery, and if we hadn’t had to post the DVD back to Amazon I would have enjoyed watching it again.

More than meets the eye

Yesterday evening Anne-Marie and I went to see the new Transformers movie at the cinema.  It’s a film I’ve been looking forward to for a while now, remembering the original cartoons and the toys I had, so it was always going to be interesting seeing how that idea was interpreted for a modern audience.  I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of plot, there isn’t a huge amount you can do with it, but from the trailers the graphics looked like they were going to be pretty awesome.  I wasn’t disappointed!

“Follow that”

Those, according to the BBC report I’ve just watched, are the words of Mr Blair’s ghost, words that will follow Prime Minister Brown around his new house. I don’t normally talk about political issues here, but on the occasion of our country assigning a new PM, it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to mark it. Gordon Brown certainly has a lot of work ahead of him – we may not have all agreed with Tony’s policies or decisions, but there is no denying that he was the most successful Labour leader ever, and that’s some trophy.

A wet weekend

Yesterday it rained. Nothing unusual about that in itself, England generally has a lot of rain, but Colchester usually manages to avoid it. Yesterday, however, I saw plenty of the wet stuff. After an early start I met up with the Colchester Mini Club and drove up to Fakenham racecourse for the Norfolk Mini Day, which was not so much flooded with Minis as rainwater. It was fun driving along in convoy, and I bought a few odds and ends at the trade stands, but generally it was a bit of a wash-out. Still, the day was made up for by a cup of tea and a trip to the cinema – I’m easily pleased.