Rachel's Blog

Mon, 28 Jan 2008
Happy Birthday Lego!
Some of the Lego

50 today! Who doesn't love Lego? Not possible. I do believe I might turn this into a Lego appreciation blog for the rest of the week.

The photo here shows about 50% of the regular Lego in our family collection* spread out on the floor. I've been assembling all the models recently in kind of a nostalgic summer activity. Fortunately my brother very cleverly kept all the instructions in a display book. We have a whole bunch of Technic too, but that can wait a bit I think.

It's really hard to assemble models when all the pieces are mixed together, it's taking forever. That little house at the back is a freeform (duh), the plane has crash landed due to a lack of a windscreen and the bulldozer is bravely attempting to clean up.

Lego Tip of the Day - Dump your collection onto a sheet or play mat when you begin. Finding pieces becomes much easier and faster. To pack up, collect the corners of the sheet into a sack and tip the pieces back into the box in one smooth move. Easy peasy.

*You can't really own Lego - you share it. With me.

Sun, 20 Jan 2008

I saw Cloverfield a couple of nights ago and I did not like it. I was not nauseated by the camera work - simply bored by it. But loads of other people like it, so don't mind me.

However, I do want to recommend Atonement. A lot. I didn't know much going in - only that I had a two-for-one pass that I was determined to use. So I dragged my mother off to see it. We were expecting a costume drama, which we got, thank goodness, (the clothes! the beautiful clothes!) but so much more. It's a gorgeous story, elegantly told and stunning to watch. (Too many superlatives? I say not.)

Atonement has won Golden Globes (whatever that counts for) for Best Drama and for Best Original Soundtrack, which I'm listening to right now. You don't need to know anything about the plot, only that it's the only film I've ever seen that has the worst swear word in the world in massive letters appear across the screen several times and it is integral to the plot. Infinitely satisfying.

It's only on limited release, so go soon.

Tue, 15 Jan 2008
Shrove Birthday

Thanks to a sign at a local pancake establishment I have learnt that this year my birthday falls on Shrove Tuesday. I don't remember this ever happening before. You know what it means though, right? Pancakes followed by more pancakes, mask-wearing, sequins and dancing. Yay!!

I think I'd like to start off with some German Apple Pancake please. Mmm-mmm.

Wed, 09 Jan 2008
Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion - TED talk

Sun, 06 Jan 2008
Review: I Am Legend plus I Am Improver of Legend.

This review contains major spoilers for the film I Am Legend, and probably the book by Richard Matheson as well, so don't read it. (I mean the review. Don't read the review. Read the book by all means. I haven't, so let me know what it's like, 'kay?)

I didn't see much hype for I Am Legend before I watched it today, but I imagine any hype it had got would have been too much. It probably avoided that by, despite being a major disaster film, not being a major disaster action film. There's stuff blowing up, but sedately, there's a mass exodus of NYC, but little panic, there are zombie-vampires (zompires? vambies?), but they're suffering an identity crisis (Are we a mindless destructive mob or are we cunning blood suckers?). Bucking recent trends in science fiction films, it's pretty depressing. Well, of course it would be - the whole earth's population is killed off by a manufactured virus leading to one man and his dog slowly going nuts.

While going nuts, our single human character Robert (Will Smith) attempts to find a cure for the zompirism by experimenting on infected rats and the occasional ex-human. So far so good. I was with it until the dog scene. Although the film was serious and dark, it was lightened enough to keep me involved with the only two characters (Sam - the dog - stealing all her scenes). Fishing in the koi pond, golf off the fighter plane's wing, lions roaming the streets - all good. Until the dog scene. I'll come back to that.

The film however made a wrong turn which resulted in the end lacking an emotional punch. I didn't care enough about Ethan and Anna that they got to safety. I hadn't known them long enough for it to matter to me that they hand a plastic vial of blood to a faceless person. The emotion of a story should not be tied to an inanimate object. I believe I've said this before.

Here's how I think the story would have gone better. No changes in the first two thirds - Sam is infected by the dark seeker dogs, Robert takes her back to the lab. Firstly he straps her to a table like he did with the human subject. He then injects her with the cure. It fails. Sam is clearly infected, snapping and growling. Robert administers a massive sedative, she goes limp and stops breathing. Robert is distraught. The audience cries. Then we return to the scenes where he attempts to kill off the vambies (and himself) and is rescued by Anna and Ethan. Incidentally can anyone explain to me how Anna and Ethan reached Robert if the island was sealed off and all the bridges blown up?

The film continues as we've seen it. The zompires attack the house, they race for the basement, the door is broken down, all seems lost. Anna notices that the ex-human seems more-human. Robert immediately turns to Sam's body, still strapped to the gurney. Her breathing is regular, her fur is no longer loose. As he touches one of her wounds she whimpers. The vambies are beating at the glass doors. The butterfly pattern appears in the glass, Robert notices Anna's butterfly tattoo. We flashback to Robert's daughter making a butterfly shape with her hands (as we have seen) and her pushing the puppy to him, "Here, Daddy, you take Sam."

Robert snaps back to the present and orders Anna and Ethan into the fireplace, "You get in," Anna urges, "There's room for you." Robert unstraps Sam, and pushes her into Ethan's arms. "Take her, she's the cure. Stay in there until dawn." He shuts the door, takes out the convenient hand grenade and blows up the lab, the zompires and himself.

Cut to Anna and Ethan driving. They find the survivor colony. They get out of the car. Sam gets out too and walks on her own four paws through the gate. Cheesey voice over optional, audience cheers, The End.

Tue, 01 Jan 2008
Happy New Year!

Hooray for 2008! Not that 2007 was so bad for me, just hooray for getting a new number to write down for a while.

So what did I do in 2007? Collected some very pretty rejection notices, learned to wet felt, mostly fixed the bathroom, prepared about 522 meals and some other stuff I'm sure.

I read 72 books. That's eleven more than last year, and one more than in 2005. I think I was aiming for 100, but I didn't really try. My own definition of book might be different to yours, but I didn't count the many that were not worth finishing.
My favourite for the year was A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield. Other notables: Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman, Magic for Beginners - Kelly Link, The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins and I, Coriander - Sally Gardener.

I watched 127 films. Yeah. That's a lot isn't it? I think I'm going to try and make them count more this year. Avoid the crap.
Top choices: Nightwatch, Good Night and Good Luck, V for Vendetta, Stardust and some classics; Rebecca, Cool Hand Luke, and Dial M for Murder.*

So this year I'm going to attempt:

  • a review a fortnight
  • a short story every three months
  • a novel draft
  • a book proposal
  • read 75 books
  • fewer films watched
  • an Etsy store for some of my felty goods

I'll be watching Buffy again along with Shiny (any excuse) and I imagine some M*A*S*H too considering this was one of my Xmas presents!

I hope all of you have loads of fun this year. Keep celebrating the change in government, relax, and do something you really love. Good health, good luck and good times!

*And Daywatch, Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Transformers, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, Porky's** and Children of Men.

**See how I snuck that in there so you wouldn't notice? Oh. Whups.
I wouldn't watch it again in a hurry, but I nearly split my sides laughing. Hi-lar-i-ous!