Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Genre Punk Rock, Alternative
Producer Butch Vig
Release date(s) 15th May 2009
I have to say, I was actually not expecting too much from this one. American Idiot saw a group of formerly great punk rockers who had not done anything in a long time, now on the wrong side of thirty, decide to go the rebellious political activist route, a trick which rarely comes off as desired.
For all its failings, American Idiot did produce one or two good songs, like Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends, but other than that it paled in comparison to classic Green Day. Their ill advised anti-iraq single with U2 (which was mediocre at best) did little to reassure me that they had much left in them besides milking rebellious teens for all they're worth.
So here comes 21st Century Breakdown an even more ambitious and epic production. This album follows a much stronger narrative than before, following the lives of a young couple named Christian and Gloria as they deal with the mess George W. Bush has left our country in. Not that any sane person can disagree with the concept, but really doesn't it seem a tad over the top to focus an entire album on how much the last 8 years sucked?
Indeed this is one of the more epic albums you will ever here, more rock opera than radio playing fare, and this makes for a very long album by today's standards. Most recent albums I've bought featured like 10 songs as artists seek to streamline albums to cut out all the filler, which has its advantages, but then they go ahead and release a b-sides album a few months later to milk more cash out of you and I lose all respect for them. In this regard it is refreshing to see an album with 20 tracks on it again.
But the problem with an album as long as this is that whilst there are a few very good songs, there is also a fair bit of filler. The album gets off to a very good start with the mournful intro Song of the Century. Even though this is just a short little snippet rather than a real song, the melody is beautiful and shows that Billy Joe has more musical talent than one might credit him with after hearing some of his aimlessly noisier songs, would have loved to hear a full song with such a pretty melody.
The album then properly begins with 21st Century Breakdown, an epic powerhouse of an anthem that establishes the world through the protagonist Christian's eyes. The next track, Know Your Enemy is well known as the first single from the album, though to be honest I was never that impressed with it. It seems a lot like American Idiot, and doesn't interest me at all really, though it's not terrible song either.
¡Viva la Gloria! then takes the album to the next level. More like something out of a big broadway musical than a punk album, this song begins with a sweet melody, an ode to Christian's love mixed with a determined ambition of future struggles to come, before exploding in to Green Day style action.
Also worthy of note on the album are Last Night On Earth, a Paul McCartney style piano ballad that allows us to see a softer side of Green Day not often seen. It's songs like this that really show off the immense talent Billy Joe possesses.
¿Viva la Gloria?, not to be confused with ¡Viva la Gloria! is probably the most interesting song on the album. A quirky, folkish ditty, this song serves as the negative counter point to the earlier ballad of a confusingly similar name. Also I bet an accoustic version of this song would sound fantastic, make it happen.
And lastly, the best song on the album, and an instant Green Day classic. 21 Guns is simply epic. It sounds a bit like a cross between this song by Fountains of Wayne and Green Day's Wake Me Up When September Ends. This takes an album that has bordered on broadway musical territory and goes into full blown Les Miserables epicness, talking of war and peace and redemption.
In the end however there is one BIG problem with this album. Simply put, it's so forced, all this rebelliousness and activism. American Idiot was one thing, but to then try and do the exact same thing with their new album? The concept is getting stale, Green Day are just milking it now, and it's painfully obvious for all to see. Bush is gone, let's move on, and you guys are 40 let's please grow up and make some more mature music. Billy Joe is fast becoming the rebel without a cause, in the most literal sense, and it's getting a bit sad. And for pete's sake lose the eyeliner already.
HOWEVER, that should not take away from an album which does have some good music on it. As flawed and hackneyed as the concept may be, no one can scoff at the impressive production values and the cohesiveness of the whole. Though personally I really hope that they settle down a bit for their next album. Billy Joe is a very talented musician, you can see it in glimpses all throughout this album, he just doesn't show it much when he writes nothing but angsty hackneyed rebel anthems like this.
21st Century Breakdown
Last Night on Earth
We are pleased to announce that iFooty World is now available in every App Store in the world. This app adds to iFooty's existing unparalleled coverage of English football with detailed coverage of leagues from around the world and international competitions.
iFooty World features:
- League Tables
- Past match results
- Minute-by-minute commentary and statistics
- Chat rooms
This app comes in two versions, free and 'Plus'. The plus version comes without any ads, and with the ability to view commentary and statistics for all past matches of the season, and many more features soon to be added!
Enjoy guys, I know I am!
song of the day: Moth's Wings - Passion Pit
thing that makes me smile today: This weatherman wearing a green tie in front of a green screen. Classic, best bit is midway through where the guy in the background actually says "I think you just made youtube".
pic of the day:
21st Century Breakdown
Angels & Demons
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Directed by JJ Abrams
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana
Release date(s) 8th May 2009
Running time 127 minutes
It isn't often that you come home from a movie and immediately can't wait to a review the film you just saw, but that's how I feel tonight having seen Star Trek.
I used to be a Star Trek fan when I was younger, but after the recent suckiness, and the increasingly dated look of the camper older versions I really felt I was past it all. This was not just me, this was the case with many former Star Trek fans. It's worse when you consider that Star Trek was never the most popular show franchise anyway. Fans have long been stigmatized with preconceptions and stereotypes, and many of them were even warranted.
Considering this, JJ Abrams must have felt he had the hardest job in the world when he took the helm for this franchise reboot. How to resurrect a dead franchise that was beloved by a passionate minority, hated by everyone else? And how to make it popular, accessible at the same time?
As such it is nothing short of a miracle that the man has pulled this off. Abrams has an already impressive track record, with Mission Impossible 3, Cloverfield and Lost already on his resumé. Seemingly everything he touches turns to gold, and this is no exception.
Shortly put, this Star Trek film features a Romulan who is accidentally sent back in time after his planet is destroyed and decides to wreak a terrible vengeance on those who wronged him. At first it seems that this is just a clever ploy to enable the writers to proceed without having to consider the consequences, but let's just say that events in the film make it clear that there are far bigger consequences as a result of this.
So what else is new? This Trek is grittier, more realistic looking and less camp. But at the same time there is present a sense of pure fun that simply hasn't existed in the franchise recently. There is humor here and character development and I can't remember the last time I watched Star Trek and cared as much about the characters as this.
The film starts off detailing the young lives of Kirk and Spock, the two people on whom the main focus of the film is placed. Consider this the story of how Kirk and Spock become who they are. This follows them through the academy and how they meet each other as well as the other Enterprise crew members. This early segment in the academy was, for me, the highlight of the movie and far too underdone, they could have spent much more time here.
Then things get a bit haywire. The action in this film is simply stunning. It's not just that Star Trek has never featured such good special effects and choreographed action sequences, it's that I don't think any film ever has. Some of the space battles here are simply mind blowing.
But as I mentioned, it is the 'character' here that really makes the film, and this is all dependent on having a good cast. Fortunately this film has a GREAT cast.
Chris Pine has Kirk's swagger down to a tee and is a far more capable actor than I'm sure anyone ever gave him credit for for all the crappy movies he's done so far. Zachary Quinto is a revelation as the conflicted Spock, torn between his Human emotions and Vulcan logic, he's wasting his time on Heroes, seriously. The others are equally capable and lovable, especially Simon Pegg as Scotty, who deserved far more screen time than he got.
Also worthy of particular note is Karl Urban as Bones. This for me was the biggest surprise of the film, as pre-film it was he who I thought was the most miscast in his role, and yet he captured the essence of the character so perfectly that he was simply a joy to watch every time he was on screen.
The cast is great, and so is Abrams's distinctive visual style. As mentioned the action set pieces are all stunning, but pretty much every scene is given such tender loving care and presented in a style that lies somewhere between old style Trek and Minority Report styled realism. From the opening scene onwards, it is very obvious that this is no ordinary Star Trek film. The musical score is also perfect in every way, scribed by the awe inspiring Michael Giacchino, who also did the equally top notch score for Lost.
However this film is not perfect. The choice of a time travel plot line was ill advised, as these things almost never work well on screen. The worst bit is the scene with Leonard Nimoy's old spock and young Kirk, where he has to explain in detail everything that has led to that point. You just felt like they realized they had to cram all this exposition in somewhere, and that's always where sci-fi movies like this struggle, this is no exception.
And despite this, the backstory of the villain Nero was also only lightly touched on, creating a villain that struggles for credibility in my view. Considering his backstory, they could have made him an almost sympathetic, multi dimensional villain, instead he just ends up being a touch too cartoony and cheesy. Not awful, mind.
However, simply put, Star Trek has never ever been this good. And now, for the first time, the franchise has achieved a level of quality where fans and non-fans alike will enjoy this film. But what's even more exciting is the potential now for the future, for sequels, a new tv show, videogames, the franchise has monster potential when in the right hands, and right now it most certainly is.
Genre Electro-pop, Indie
Release date(s) 18th May 2009
We at the Ephemeric have been keeping track of this one for a very very long time. Ever since his chunk of change EP started doing the rounds on these interwebs last year, people have been hyping his first full album release as one of the biggest things of this year.
With all this pressure one had to wonder if there was any way it would live up. After all, here was this cocky musician declaring that his EP only represented a small fraction of his talent and dismissing all the original tracks that made him so famous (with the exception of Sleepyhead) in order to create an LP of completely original songs. And only now, after a couple of full listen throughs of this album, am I in a position to fully comment on how successful he has been.
The album opens up with a punchy number in Make Light. This is the perfect opening track for this album, brimming with such infectious enthusiasm that it's hard not to get caught up in it.
And it is this sentiment which perfectly sums up the album and Passion Pit as a band, full of energy and positivity that it gets you hyped up like some wonderful and melodic drug. However whereas Chunk of Change was all about pure fun, Manners delves deeper into the music and achieves something that is equally as catchy, but with far more substance.
The second track, Little Secrets continues in a similar fashion, adding in a children's chorus and some hard synths to shake things up. It's another very good track, but at this point I have to admit I was wondering whether I had the constitution to get through eleven tracks of such sugary joy.
Moth's Wings was the key point of this album for me, and in my opinion the best song on the album. This third track was the game changer, the song that told me that Passion Pit were more than just a one dimensional fad, and could make music without falsettos and heart pumping beats. This song is slow and beautiful, choosing to build and develop a melody rather than just overwhelm the listener with bouncy synth and giddy pop. Epic.
The Reeling, the fourth track on the album reigns it back in a little bit, sounding like a neon soaked night on the town. Confident bass and 80s style synth peppers this track and sets the pace well for the rest of the album. Or at least the next song, To Kingdom Come, which ambles along with a soulful melody without ever reaching for the glittering heights of other songs. It says much about the album that this lovely song is one of the weaker efforts on the album.
Next we have Swimming in the Flood, a song which carries the feeling of the end of the evening, or at least that slow dance song that inevitably gets put on by the DJ at like 2am. After so much heart pounding excitement, it almost comes as a break to let yourself lull along with something a bit more laid back.
Fold In Your Hands starts off with a bit of a mellow funk, before hitting a euphoric wall of sound. It's a decent track but in my opinion one of the weaker ones on the album. Eyes as Candles meanwhile, is one of my favorite songs on the album. It begins with a sweet twilit melody, which slowly builds into a pumped up chorus that hits just the right spot.
Next comes the first single Sleepyhead that we all know and love, a trippy, powerful and completely unique hit of a song. This is followed by probably their simplest and least computerized track on the album, Let Your Love Grow Tall, which begins softly enough before building to an absolutely epic conclusion. It sounds a bit more old school than the rest of the album, evoking memories of various folk rock bands from the sixties and seventies... except with awesome electronic funk backing the more epic moments.
Then an album with the perfect opening track and a whole lot of kick ass tunes in between finishes with the perfect closer. Seaweed Song is soft and soulful, and almost makes you feel mournful at the end of a great album, evocative of feelings the morning after a great night out or a great party, feeling kinda bummed that life has to go on after that... but in a good way.
The only criticism I might make is that the falsetto and sugary pop might get old after a while, I hope they decide to mix things up a little bit for their next album, and after listening to Moth's Wings I have no doubt that they are capable of doing so.
This is an excellent album, and I don't think it's going too far to say that it is the best album of the year so far. And in the end, it's not just that this is a good debut album. It's that this album sounds so finely polished, like the work of a man who has honed his art over a much longer amount of time.
EDIT: There has been some confusion on which track is which between 'eyes as candles' and 'to kingdom come', this has now been corrected. 'Eyes as candles' is the better one.
Eyes As Candles
Let Your Love Grow Tall
It's that time of year again. From the 13th until the 24th of May the south coast of France will be the party centre of the world as everybody who's anybody in the world of film descends upon Cannes for the Cannes film festival. Join us now as we guide you through the essential films from this year's line up.
One of the more hyped events at this year's festival is the world premiere of Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Inglourious Basterds. Starring Brad Pitt, this is a film about a squad of Jewish resistance fighters in a war torn France set during World War 2. Tarantino has always had guts, but having the debut showing of his Americanized interpretation of war torn France actually IN France is definitely brave, only time will tell how they respond to it.
The first animated film ever to open the Cannes film festival, Up is being billed at yet another Pixar masterpiece, and perhaps even better than Wall-E. This film concerns a retired salesman who attaches balloons to his house to travel the world, and the buzz is very very positive.
The latest from Brokeback Mountain's Ang Lee is a comedy drama focusing on the legendary Woodstock festival, based off a book of the same name. Starring Emile Hirsch, this looks to be one of the more enjoyable films in this year's lineup and the early word so far is very positive.
British director Andrea Arnold wowed critics at Cannes in 2006 with Red Road. Now she returns with this offbeat romance between a fifteen year old girl and her mom's boyfriend. Can she add to Boyle's success and make it a very good year for British directors by becoming only the second woman ever to win a Palme d'Or?
Looking for Eric
Eric Cantona takes a star turn in another British film at this year's festival. This film revolves around a football fanatic postman whose life is collapsing all around him, and receives life lessons from his hero Eric Cantona, who as we all know was a great philosopher. The idea is so awesome that this film simply can't miss.
It seems to be the 'in' thing to do now, rebooting an old, much loved but probably stale franchise in the hopes of revitalizing it. Pioneered by the likes of Batman and James Bond, the list now includes the likes of The Hulk, Star Trek, a recently green-lit Predator reboot and even videogames and tv shows.
Now, to celebrate the release of one of the year's most highly anticipated films, and one of the finest reboots of all time, Star Trek, we present our list of the best and worst franchise reboots of all time, across all media, and we also discuss franchises that are in bad need of a good reboot.
We may as well begin with the very reason we are here today. Star Trek has always been pretty unpopular and heavily stigmatized. Worse still it seemed completely dead in recent years, following the complete flop of the most recent film Nemesis, and the most recent tv series Enterprise. A comeback seemed very unlikely, but that was before Geek Deity JJ Abrams produced and directed this piece of awesomeness. Not only did Abrams resurrect the dead franchise, he actually made it 'cool' and likable by everyone, truly an impressive accomplishment.
After all the hubub around the Dark Knight, which was a great great movie, it is easy to forget just how excellent Batman Begins was. This reboot of the Batman franchise was VERY necessary after the awful suckiness of recent films, culminating in the badly sculpted turd that was Batman & Robin. Nolan came along and went back to basics, the story of how Batman became Batman, and the result was pure excellence.
James Bond: Casino Royale
Ok so Quantum of Solace was just 'ok', but the movie that came before it, Casino Royale, was simply brilliant. One of the best ever Bond movies, and a great movie in itself, this is the film that was brave enough to cast aside all the pitfalls that Bond had become associated with, being camp and goofy with crazy gadgets, and turned Bond into a real character. For the first time, we get to see how Bond goes from hotshot secret agent to the hardened 'blunt instrument' of which Fleming's original novels spoke.
Street Fighter IV
Breaking away from movies for a second now we have Street Fighter IV. Following a decline in sales and relevance since the glory days, and diverging down the ill advised path of an ever expanding roster of characters who are all roughly the same, Street Fighter was definitely in need of new life. This reboot took the game back a few steps, essentially recreating Street Fighter II, the most iconic entry in the series, and featured a nearly identical cast list. The result may not have been perfect, was certainly a bit overrated, but nevertheless was still classic arcadey fun.
Billed as a reboot, with a new cast any everything, this film was really just a sequel, and a pretty uninspired and woeful one at that. All this despite the excellent casting of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor... man how did it all go so wrong.
Street Fighter: the Legend of Chun-Li
I bet everyone forgot this ever happened right? Wishful thinking I'm afraid. After the laughably bad Street Fighter movie of the 90s with Jean Claude Van Damme, this more serious and gritty take should have been great... sadly it was just a woeful, woeful piece of crap that was so bad it wasn't even funny, therefore making it even worse than the earlier version... ugh, maybe Street Fighter just wasn't supposed to be a movie. This is so bad i'm afraid to even list it on this website, for fear of the google bots seeing this movie, associating my website with it and then filing the website under 'crap'.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Another one that's not a real reboot, though it was certainly billed that way, with the 'back to basics' title. This took the ailing videogame franchise to new levels of blowfulness. It was just badly made, and clearly hadn't been tested for longer than five minutes. Better best forgotten.
And Finally, here are some franchises that we feel are in Need of a Reboot
Sonic the Hedgehog
A REAL reboot please. One of the most beloved and iconic videogames characters of all time has been floundering for far too long in a mire of awful 3d gameplay, far too big and annoyingly cheesy a character list, and a complete lack in production value. Let's just start again alright? Sonic, just sonic by himself, running through a series of colorful and entertaining levels in a 2D perspective at high speed. SCREW the other characters, SCREW the melodramatic Final Fantasy reject storylines, and all associated adventure hubs, and SCREW the third dimension.
The first Jurassic Park was a classic, the second less so, the third was pretty rubbish, and then there was talk of a fourth installment with (and I am not bullshitting you) dinosaurs armed with laser guns, which mercifully was canned and will never see the light of day. But I seriously doubt this franchise will stay dead forever, and I think the way to go is not another sequel, let's face it there's really not a whole lot else you can do with this story, but rather a complete reboot. With today's technology you know it would be absolutely epic, and far better than some half assed sequel.
In hindsight, it's easy to dismiss this as teen horror schlock, but let us not do this film a disservice. Though the genre became something of a tired cliché, this was the film that started it all off, and was also a million miles better than all the other imitators. It's easy enough to have a guy in a mask run around killing hot chicks, but it's much harder to imbue the proceedings with the level of tongue in cheek wit and entertainment that this film did. That is why all the imitations sucked so much, let's get back to the one that started it all off and show them how it's done.
It has been a rough week for the two London football clubs. Both have suffered defeats in Europe sending them crashing out of the competition, and both are already out of the title race. It's not a great time to be a fan of either, so where can the two clubs go from here?
First of all with to Chelsea. I don't think much more can be said about the farce that took place at the Chelsea Barcelona semi final than has already been said.
While the incident has been universally decried as a disgrace for football as a sport, uncertainty lies about where to place the blame. Many, understandably, blame the ref himself, an inexperienced Norwegian with a lack of big time experience whose most recent work includes being sent home in disgrace from Euro 2008 in similarly controversial circumstances... and here he is thrown straight back into one of the biggest games of the season? Strange.
It's says a lot when the bookies start to refund all bets, which personally I have never seen before, just to give an indication of how absurd this whole farce was.
Inevitably, many questions of corruption and various conspiracies have arisen under the exceptional circumstances, and of course this is simply a non-starter. On the one hand the supporters of such theories always go way over the top, suggesting that the referee was being bribed by a UEFA who hates english teams, which is extremely unlikely. But similarly the cynical reaction of a media who is legally unable to do anything other than dismiss any such theories outright doesn't deserve credence either. As usual, the truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in between these polarized views, even though neither proponent seems able to even contemplate that there is any middle ground.
Consider the history of UEFA, an organization which has always taken every opportunity to ban English clubs from Europe, where the President makes idiotic public comments about wanting to give the competition to the opponents of English clubs, and where a weekly diatribe against English clubs has become as regular as clockwork.
Consider the numerous stories in recent months about how UEFA have been subjecting referees to hours of video of 'troublemaking' players and teams in order to 'educate' them as to which players and teams to be tougher on.
And lastly consider the financial implications of what would happen to UEFA if their biggest competition, supposedly featuring 'the best of the best' from all over Europe, was to be so dominated by the same two clubs from the same country year after year. It would defeat the purpose of the Champions league, and financial repercussions would ensue. It would seem there is an overwhelming body of fact to suggest that UEFA would have every reason not to 'want' an all English final.
Now i'm not one of those guys implying a conspiracy theory, I don't think UEFA bribed anyone or cheated, but can it really be denied that everything they've done has put undue pressure on referees?
What do you expect to happen when you take an inexperienced ref with a history of cock ups and controversy, subject him to months of video 'education' and rants about 'English cheats', and then thrown him in way over his head into one of the biggest games of the year? How is that at all different from the Italian match fixing scandalwhere clubs were putting pressure on referees before games?
That they seem to be taking no action against the ref is another blunder on their part considering all the scrutiny being focused on them, but hardly a surprise, it was the result they wanted anyhow. Personally, I doubt very much that UEFA had any corrupt intention here, but the blame still rests very much on their shoulders for displaying incompetence of the highest order.
Meanwhile Arsenal have had an awful few years recently. Completely trophiless and simply not keeping up with the other big clubs, it has reached the point where even the most extreme Arsenal fans are demanding changes, starting with Wenger.
It has intermittently come up once or twice over the years, but now the proponent of the Arsenal support calling for the sacking of manager Arsene Wenger is becoming increasingly vocal and determined. Most Arsenal fans I know, and there are surprisingly a lot, have advocated this path recently.
It would without a doubt be a complete disaster for Arsenal if they let him go. Arsenal fans seem to have worked themselves up into some kind of mass hysteria, not helped by the absurd and uncalled for media hype surround the club every season, where they believe they really have world class players, and where they don't seem to notice that they have been going on and on about their 'kids' for the better part of ten years.
The truth of the matter is that Arsenal really are not very good. They don't have the money, nor the reputation to attract the truly top class players anymore, and this is why Wenger is continually forced to look for cheap young talent. Every season reports come out about how Arsenal have a warchest of like 50 million pounds, but these people seem to forget the hundreds of millions of pounds in debt Arsenal have to pay off.
The reality is that Wenger is the only thing holding that club together right now, and if he gets sacked, the club will quickly go from just about hanging on to the big four's coattails to rapidly crashing down the table. They may not want to hear it, but the only way Arsenal are going to become competitive again is with a massive investment.
As you all know, I am always on the look out for interesting new music. The usual schlocky crap doesn't cut it with me, I crave ingenuity and originality. I scour blogs and forums and new releases in order to find the best of the best, and it is working under this modus operandi that I find the vast majority of my music. Fleet Foxes rose to prominence last year, while I was salivating over them a full year before. Same with MGMT and the Last Shadow Puppets. More recently I have been extremely impressed by Passion Pit and Dan Deacon as well as up and coming band Air France. Now I would like to share with you the newest songs that have me very excited.
Basement Jaxx are back!
I'm sure most of you remember UK house duo Basement Jaxx, consisting of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe. They've been around since the mid 90s and released a number of mega hits including Red Alert, Romeo and Where's Your Head At.
However, that was a long time ago, and they haven't released much of any real note in a while. But now, they are back, and they might just be better than ever.
Raindrops is their new song off their upcoming album, Scars. And thus we have the first mega mega dance hit of the year.
This is one of those songs that I first listened to and was not immensely impressed with. The song opens with fairly cheesy Shakira-esque beat that had me reeling just a tad (though in hindsight, even this works well with the rest of the song as a whole), but quickly melts away into sweet melody.
Basement Jaxx take a distinctly scientific approach to their music and the result is a finely tuned track that combines classic pop stylings with a typically offbeat and restless hook. What follows from here is like musical candy, a giddily psychedelic number brimming with exquisite detail. Think of this as the Heston Blumenthal of dance pop.
This is one of the best songs of 2009 so far, and it bodes well for the rest of their album.
The Best of the Rest
"I'm Walking This Road Because You Stole My Car" by "Fascinoma" - One of those amazing songs of a truly rare beauty, reminds me a little of this Cranberries song and that song from the end of the first American Pie movie. This band are going to be huge, and it's all thanks to the tv show American Dad.
"Skeletons" by "Yeah Yeah Yeah's" - I've heard good things about this band for a long time, but this is the first song I've heard from them that I thought was actually stunning. Enjoy.
"Big Jet Plane" by "Lady of the Sunshine"
Also the new Passion Pit Album Manners, which I have already reviewed for you.
song of the day: "I'm Walking This Road Because You Stole My Car" by "Fascinoma" - One of those amazing songs of a truly rare beauty, reminds me a little of the Cranberries and that song from the end of the first American Pie movie.
thing that makes me smile today: The existence of a Star Trek movie that even Star Trek haters love.
pic of the day:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
After many months, iFooty 1.1 is now available on the iTunes app store!
This update brings the ‘today’ screen, which lists all live scores of the league on that day. This is a feature I have long been pushing to put in iFooty ever since the first release. The match screen now also displays team lineups, goals and bookings. Also included are dramatic speed increases and over 50 of our most requested features. Enjoy!
Unless you've been living in a cave, or a sterile, sound proof bubble for the past few weeks, you've undoubtedly been subjected to the overwhelming hype and terror being propagated through the media about swine flu. While I'm sure most people are sick to death of reading about this, I still feel I should write this, providing a little scientific background and discussing once and for all how much we should REALLY be worried.
What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease, a reassortment of four different strains of influenza type A which infects pigs, subtype H1N1. This nomenclature refers to the structure of cell markers called antigens (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) present on the protein coat of the virus, which confers specific cell interaction attributes on that particular strain, as well as requiring different treatment.
There are many types, and the infection is constantly changing. Until now it has not normally infected humans, but the latest form clearly does, and can be spread from person to person - probably through coughing and sneezing.
How does the infection spread?
Influenza mainly spreads from person to person through close contact. Coughing and sneezing within a metre or so of another person can expose them to infectious droplets.
Hands can become contaminated through touching someone who is unwell, or through touching door handles or other hard surfaces contaminated with the virus. If you then touch your mouth before washing your hands you can catch the infection.
How worried should we be?
When it comes to potential pandemics, there are two main features we should discuss regarding the virus in question, infectiousness and deadliness.
What really worried the WHO with this outbreak was how far the virus managed to travel in such a short time, but there are a few things to bear in mind here. For starters, any decent epidemiologist will caution that the number of cases reported in the early days of an outbreak can be very inaccurate and deceptive. This can be due to several causes, including selection bias, media bias, and incorrect reporting by governments.
One must also bear in mind that, biologically speaking, virus that can travel far is by definition not very deadly, as it allows the infected to live long enough to carry the virus across the planet. It is therefore not much of a shock to see very few deaths have been attributed to this virus, aside from Mexico. Why might this be? Well it could simply be attributable to that phenomenon I mentioned earlier, that the virus that transmits far, into other countries, is less deadly, or it could be related to a poorer quality of healthcare in Mexico.
In short, there's not much cause to be fretting too much just yet, and especially if you live in the developed world, like USA or UK, where antiviral stocks are plentiful.
It's in moments such as this that many of life's truths become clarified. First of all, i seriously need to work more. I was out last night, i'm going out again tomorrow night and wednesday night (for the Barca game) and I have far too much work during the day to study properly. I wish the Earth could slow down for a bit so the days would have more hours in it. Oh well.
Meanwhile It seems like everyone I talk to is getting sick of Imperial College, though I suspect that it's just getting to that time of year where we all need a good summer vacation. I'm still pretty happy, even if quite a large proportion of the people here make me despair. I'm used to people who are less insecure and cliquey, a lot of people here wouldn't even leave their room without considering the affect it might have on their 'social status', good grief how old are we...
One of my formerly good friends is a perfect example of this, I try to figure out why he/she has been so off with me for a number of months now, but then I realize that I'm trying to rationalize the thought process of someone who by the end of Freshers week was convinced that half the guys/girls in halls were trying to slip daterape into his/her drink. Groan...
That being said, I generally find that when things like this happen and friends are lost, two more come up to take their place. But then I am a silly, optimistic kind of guy like that. And as such there is much to look forward to in the near future. 80s movie nights, football games, a couple of dinners at my favorite restaurants in the next week, and there are a few films I'm pretty keen to see, Star Trek looks pretty epic, and I hear pretty good things about Coraline.
And then of course once these exams are over there will be much traveling in the summer, France? Italy? America? Hong Kong? Potentially all of the above, which would be nice.
Hope you all enjoyed your bank holiday weekends.
Directed by Michael Grandage
Written by Athol Fugard
Starring Jonathan Pryce
Production company The Donmar
Theatre The Donmar Warehouse
The Donmar Warehouse has long been my favorite theatre in London, and one of the most consistently excellent production companies in existence. However, whilst 2008 ended excellently for them, with Ivanov and Twelfth Night at the Wyndham achieving high levels of excellence, it has seemingly come at the expense of the plays being put on at their own Donmar Warehouse which have taken a back seat with a few more mediocre productions like the fairly poor 'The Reunion' which reminded us that T.S. Eliot is best when he's writing poems. However, hopes were high with Michael Grandage returning to helm this production of Fugard's Dimetos.
Dimetos is a skilled engineer who has retired from his highly esteemed position as a leader in his field and opted for rural exile in the company of his nubile niece Lydia and loyal servant, Sophia. And when Danilo, an emissary from an unnamed city, comes to plead urgently for Dimetos's return, he is given short shrift. Only Lydia's intervention gives Dimetos pause, leading to the disclosure of his more-than-avuncular passion.
This play ends up being split into two acts with a distinctly different flavor. On the surface, the first half of the play places the focus on Lydia's coming of age, maturing into a fully developed woman out of very sheltered and innocent surroundings which leads to no end of confusion and difficulty for the young lady. Meanwhile we are filled in with the backstory of expert engineer Dimetos who has quit his line of work at the top of his game at the expense of all the people he would have helped. The second half then focuses on the inner anguish of Pryce's Dimetos and his descent into madness.
The problem with this play is that it ends up being extremely overblown and wordy. It's one of those plays that clearly means a lot more to the author than it does to any of the audience members. The characters are soulless and empty and basically just serve as symbols for whatever moral the author is trying to convey, which is not entirely clear. Indeed many of the words begin to lose meaning towards the end as well.
However it is not all bad. For starters, Jonathan Pryce gives a typically strong and nuanced performance. Even if he doesn't understand what the play is trying to drive at, he certainly did a good job of convincing me he did. Holliday Grainger also impresses as Lydia, and Michael Grandage definitely knew what he was doing by having Grainger liven up an otherwise dry play by walking around in skimpy outfits for much of the play