Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Film Review : X Men 3 - The Last Stand****

I had seen some fairly bad reviews of the third part of this ongoing film series, but hey ho, the critics are not always correct and here I found most of their complaints to be wide of the mark, X3 is a cracking superhero movie.

Ok, so it suffers from some poor scrpiting and bad editing in places, and one piece of editing/filming is an awful error, Magneto moves the Golden Gate bridge to Alcatraz in broad daylight, but when the mutants step off the end darkness has suddenly fallen, a stupid error, didn't anybody notice at the editing stage ? Had they run out of money to shoot one of the scenes again ?

The best sci-fi poses questions about mankind, and X3 does just that. As science in the world pushes forwards hardly a week goes past in which we are not called upon to answer morality questions of eugenics, assisted death, human life at any cost or abortion for fairly minor conditions. The problem facing the mutant X-Men is a 'cure', a retroviral drug which will remove their mutant genes and turn them into normal human beings.

As the various parties manouvre, Magneto uses the drug as an excuse to launch an attack, aimed first at the drug production laboratory on Alcatraz. He has a powerful new ally in the form of the resurrested and immensely powerful Jean Grey, plus a heap of new mutants with Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut and Dania Ramirez as the super fast and psionic Callisto.

The X-Men series has of course been helped by having a cast of people who can actually act, with the likes of Ian MacKellen and Patrick Stewart on board it was always bound to be better than some of the plethora of comics turned movies that have been released in the last decade. Kelsey Grammer does a nice turn as Hank McKoy/Beast in the film, he gets to play a decent enough character, and yes, there could have been more depth to the politics of man and mutant but I suppose the director has only a certain amount of time to play with, whereas the comic author gets to stretch his plots over years if needs be.

Although I said the flm raises some questions, it doesn't really strive to answer them though, and the point that really should have had some more thought put into it comes late in the film when one set of mutants have the chance to use the 'cure' as a weapon against another mutant. This was all over far too quickley and glibly in the film, it would have been nice to see some of the characters further exploring the ethical issues of the drug before the final confrontation took place.

Overall though I enjoyed the film, the special effects are fantastic, there's plenty of action and just about enough plot.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yorkshire Photo Of The Day

This is the interior of a giant disused lime kiln near Stainforth.

Photo taken by Kev the Wev, who has some really nice Yorkshire pics in his Flickr album.
Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz Series 5.3

The Sports Prediction Round

A bit of a change here, answer the questions as best you can, send the answers to Yorkshiresoul@gmail , titled 5.3 Answers, on/by Mon 5th of June 2006. The answers will be posted when the last event on the list (Tour De France) has been completed.

Good luck, ha ha, Googling won't help you this time!

What I want to know, for all these questions, is who will win......

1) Football world cup ? (1)

2) Wimbledon Men's Singles ? (1)

3) Wimbledon Women's Singles ? (1)

4) US Open Golf Championship ? (1)

5) The British Grand Prix (driver) ? (1)

6) Le Mans 24 hr Race (which team) ? (1)

7) Who will score most runs in the 1st Test England vs. Pakistan ? (bonus point for guessing how many runs to within 10) (2)

8) Royal Ascot Gold Cup (horse) ? (1)

9) The Tour de France (yellow jersey, plus a bonus point for King Of The Mountains) ? (2)

10) Which team playing in the 4 Rugby Union internationals on 17th June will score most points ? (bonus point for guessing how many points) (2)

Have fun!

Monday, May 29, 2006

He's Back

Michael Vaughan returned to cricket today with a beautiful, run a ball, match winning 67 against Scotland. Let's hope that his dodgy knee is now fixed, that he racks up a good score against Hampshire in the next county match and lifts Yorkshire away from relegation worries, then returns to England and builds his form ahead of Pakistan and retaining the Ashes.
Last Week's Scrobbling

Still Frazy After All This Time
powered by
Book Review : The Confusion - Neal Stephenson****

The second part of Stephenson's Baroque trilogy weighs in at 800+ pages and a type face so small that the more casual reader will wilt at the very thought of wading through this mighty tome. I read the first part, Quicksilver, back in December and then promised to have this read and reviewed within a month, but......

It was just too much like work, I got bogged down in the middle of the book and took some rather lighter reading material with me on holiday and then just didn't pick The Confusion back up until last week.

The story/stories are excellent, it's just that Stephenson buries every action, or indeed inaction, beneath a mound of descriptive writing. Again, I would have given the book a five star rating except that it has been like work at times trying to get through it. When I decided to try and read a little more widely and to read more out of my sci-fi/fantasy comfort zone I hadn't realised that this trilogy would fit my new reading ideal.

The story then, Half Cocked Jack Shaftoe and his oarmates (The Cabal), they begin this tome as galley slaves, hatch a far fetched plan to turn the tables ont heir masters and seize a galleon filled with the supposedly perfectly pure Solomon gold. There's action a plenty as they rob, kill, pirate and smuggle their way to India, where Jack becomes a king (for 3 years) in Hindoostan. From there the mayhem continues over the ocean to South America.

In Europe Eliza continues her political and fiscal machinations, involving herself in an incredibly complex scheme to better her own fortunes and those of the King of France by selling wood for shipbuilding, buying up loan options from poverty struck French nobility and simultaneously bankrupting the trade houses of London and Zeebrugge. I must confess that it is four months since I read the first half of the book and the details which were somewhat hard to grasp at the time have faded into wooly indistinctness in the intervening period.

Stephenson's descriptive powers are phenomenal, although it does make the book a little like history revision, seldom have I read anything that has made me feel so much like I was actually living the lives of the characters he has created. The latter part of the 17th Century with all it's toil, disease, hardship and sudden, violent death comes to gritty life in these pages. Stephenson never spares a boil, pustule, smallpox scar or suppurating wound as Jack and Eliza struggle to make their way in the world.

There is less of the stories of Isaac Newton and Daniel Waterhouse in this tome than in the first, but enough is told to set the story for part three of the cycle (The System Of The World) which seems set to have Shaftoe and Newton in direct opposition. How on earth would the King of the Vagabonds come up against the world's greatest living scientist ? You'll have to read it, I don't want to give too many spoilers.

This is a good book, but it's not a casual read, you have to dedicate some time and concentration to it. I'm not making any prediction this time about when I'll finish part three.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

World Cup Guide To The Lesser known Teams : Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome & Principe (or STAPS for short)*1, are two islands 200 miles west of Africa, they have a population of 31,000 and have only two major industries, bananas and pumice stones.

The two islands are inhabited by two distinct racial groups. Sao Tome, the volcanic and mostly barren north island, is home to the Asgundi tribe, a race of super tall (average height 6'6" for both men and women) and very hairy people. The Asgundi have evolved a veritable forest of hair around their ears, noses and mouths which acts to filter out dangerous volcanic particles from the air whilst the Asgundi pick pumice from their lofty perches.

On Principe, the lushly rainfoested southern island, dwell the Saptoe, a smooth skinned people averaging a pygmy like 4'0" in height, their tribe has evolved to be able to take advantage of the island's numerous low hanging bananas.

The two islands have a long and bitter political history, indeed ritual warfare and skull-taking was only outlawed in 1998 but is still thought to continue in some more remote settlements.

A coalition government has decreed that the team must be half and half Asgundi and Saptoe, with the giant hirsute north islanders creating a powerful and menacing forward midfield and attack whilst the hapless Saptoe make up a frankly laughable defence.

The last player in the squad is Edward de Hoy, a Dutch born goalkeeper who was shipwrecked on Principe in 1994 and who has since taken dual Netherlands/STAPS nationality and an honorary Saptoe name, "Usgara Nami-Ula-Shap."*2

Expect To See : Well honestly, just watching the team line up before the match is always good for a laugh.

*1 - Half the team have lodged an official objection to using any abbreviation of the team name, or any abbreviating at all really.

*2 - Lit translation "big bloke too stupid to keep boat off rocks."
World Cup Guide To The Lesser Known Nations : USA

Nobody really knows why the American team is in the World Cup*, even their own team. Captain Rudy Studebaker was recently heard to say "We have a great offence and we will be pushing hard right throughout the 4th quarter."

90% of Americans still think that soccer is a women's game, but this is what having Sheffield Wednesday matches on open access television does to a nation.

Expect To See : Economic sanctions and veiled threats of military action when they get trounced 5-0 by Qatar.

*Ok, it's for the TV revenue.
MySpace Freakshow

MySpace User Synthetic Beauty shows us an alternative way of wearing his underwear, you need to get an account to view the freaks, but accounts are free.
World Cup Guide To The Lesser Known Teams : Dunedain

Hailing from Napa, Calfornia, this tiny breakaway republic gained formal recognition from the UN only two years ago, because frankly they were getting sick and tired of the concerted spamming campaign the Dunedain geeks had launched against them. Dunedain has a population of 315, primarily unmarried, middle aged blokes who preferred Dungeons & Dragons to athletics at college.

Team captain Aragorn Dunedain of the Westerlings (birth certificate reads - Jeffrey Richard Wainwright the 3rd) promises 'dazzling displays of real magic' in his team's quest for 'the one Cup.'

Dunedain has the highest personal income and standard of living in the America's, it has only one (legal) industry, IT, but is reputed to grow some of the USA's finest skunk.

Expect to see : A team of portly, bearded men badly hampered by their team strip, chainmail and elven cloaks.

Newsflash : Odds on the Dunedain winning the world cup have lengthened to 1000-1 as their striker Hrothdar Hammer Of The Orcs (birth certificate reads - Colin Flange) was stopped at German customs last night for carrying a weapon. Official protests from the Dunedain team that the 'Sword That Was Broken' is a vital team mascot have come to nothing and Hrothdar/Colin may be facing 18 months in that feared German penitentiary, Cirith Ungol.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The World Cup Guide To The Lesser Known Teams : Krujovenia

One of the 37 countries created when Yugoslavia vanished up its own arse in the early 90's. Krujovenia's population of 137,000 are all football mad.

Most of the squad play their football abroad and only three are currently wanted by The Hague War Crimes Tribunal (as opposed to 5 players from Montenegro and the entire Serbian team plus the bloke who ethnically cleans their boots).

Krujovenia topped their qualification group ahead of Bulgaria, Hutzeguvina, Malta and Scotland (who they beat convincingly home and away).

Expect To See : Fireworks, or heavy artillery bombardment, if they get Croatia in the quarter finals.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Gone To Mount Zion

Desmond Dekker, best known for the song The Israelites, or, Me Ears Are Alight, died suddenly this morning, thanks for all the top tunes Desmond.

(Thanks to Jeff)
Ilkley's Bloody Mini Roundabouts

The Council obviously has a load of spare cash and are desperately dreaming up inventive and bizarre ways of spending it, first we got the completely undrivable roundabout above the Grammar School which even a Mini Cooper can't get around, never mind Ilkley's hordes of Chelsea Tractors, now we have another roundabout at the bottom of Cowpasture Road.

What I don't understand is why people suddenly forget how to drive on these mini-roundabouts, hint people - it's exactly the same rules as on big ones.

Two incidents over the past couple of weeks. Coming from Tesco into Ilkley I sat behind a car at the roundabout for ages whilst a queue of traffic came across the roundabout heading towards Tesco, nobody was turning right, but the driver in front refused to enter the roundabout until there was no traffic at all coming across it, idiot.

Coming from the same direction, a cyclist went strait onto the roundabout when a taxi, who rather oddly was actually indicating, went around and up Cowpasture Road, narrowly missing the foolish bike rider. The cyclist had a fit, shouting and swearing and making various rude hand gestures towards the receding taxi. Hint for idiot cyclists, it's give way to the right, moron.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Do you ever get hooked on a particular song ? I seem to go through these little phases of wanting to listen to one track over and over again. A few weeks ago it was Rage Against The Machine's - Killing In The Name that was booming out of the kitchen all day.

This week it's Coheed & Cambria's weird sci-fi epic In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth : 3 that is driving the staff to distraction......

A broad incision sits across the evening
The victim to our fathers lost war
The restless children sit and mourn the graves
Of those they've never seen before
Will they be buried here among the dead?
In the silent secret

The pioneers
In dealing with it they march for dawn, of Will and worthy
The truth be told the child was born
Man your own jackhammer
Man your battle stations
We'll have you dead pretty soon
And now
Sincerely written from my brother's blood machine
Man your battle stations
We'll have you home pretty soon
And now

Awake through motion with curiosity to curtain your first move
Over arms length they'll break protocol
Jealous envy for the youngest one
To be the hero is all I'll ask
Can I be buried here among the dead?
With room to honor me here in the end
You'll be better off too soon
You'll be better off when you get home


For you,
I'd do anything just to make you happy, hear you tell me that you’re proud of me
For them,
I'll kill anything cut the throats of babies for them break their hearts for they were them
Waiting for you to say: I love you too

The navigator
The pilot
Her favorite
The one they call the vision that bears the gift

Do the children really understand the things you did to them?
And why oh why…
Should they conjure up the will for you my love I would kill him
we're coming home pretty soon
Coming home

In the seventh turning hour
Will the victims shadow fall?
Should the irony grow hungry?
With the victory and all they sought for
We were one among the fence
One among the fence

[Guitar riffs and vocalizing]

We're coming home

Man your own jackhammer
Man your battle stations
We'll have you dead pretty soon
And now
Sincerely written from my brother's blood machine
Man your battle stations
We'll have you home pretty soon

There's nothing quite like a bloke with a voice as flat as mine trying to screech along with the awesomely talented Claudio Sanchez.

I've been slowley converting Sous Chef Steve into the dark side of music, yesterday he was introduced to another stunning band, Rush, now I'll get hooked on The Trees again, or Distant Early Warning, or Time Stand Still, or.........
More Dark Art

Book Review : Ghostwritten - David Mitchell****

This was Mitchell's debut novel, or perhaps debut short story collection would be a better description. Ghostwritten is subtitled 'A Novel In Nine Parts', and then helpfully contains ten stories.

I spent the whole time reading Ghostwritten in a state of contented confusion, each of the stories, starting with the immediate aftermath of a terrorist nerve gas attack, are interesting and pleasing. All are linked, but sometimes only by the most tenuous of threads as the story goes from young Japanese lovers to a financial advisor having an epiphany to the life story of a Chinese woman running a tea shop on Holy Mountain.

There's a bit of something here for everyone, love stories, brutal lives, a Local Hero type melodrama with remote islanders trying to stop the evil Yanks from stealing their famous scientist, and some rather sci-fi like bits with a wandering soul and the mysterious semi-Godlike Zookeeper.

Is there a point or moral the point that Mitchell is trying to put across ? I'm not sure, war is bad ? We really need God ? Mankind is hell bent on self destruction ? I quite enjoyed reading this, although for me the plot is buried just a little too deeply.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz - Series 5.2 Answers

1) Amongst Hobbits, what was the name given to an item which had no immediate use, but nevertheless they were unwilling to throw away ? (1)

A mathom, Hobbit homes became full of these things and became almost museum like, or mathom houses.

2) What is the name of the Inn where the Hobbits meet Strider, and who is the Inn's landlord ? (2)

The Prancing Pony - Barliman Butterbur

3) What are the names of Bilbo's mother and father ? (2)

Bungo Baggins - Belladonna Took

4) Who is the last person to be killed in the book, and who does the killing ? (2)

Grima Wormtongue kills Saruman but as he runs away he is cut down by the Hobbit archers, so Grima by the Hobbits.

5) Who are the wearers of the Three Rings ? (3)

Oh good grief, you're all more geeky than me, I was asking 'in the third age',(but as I was slightly unclear I have allowed the original wearers, Gil-Galad, Cirdan) so...

6) When Aragorn enters Isengard, who are the gate guards ? (2)

Merry and Pippin

7) What is the name of reclusive forest folk who ally themselves to Aragorn, and who is their king (2)

The Woses (or Wildmen of Druadan), Ghan-Buri-Ghan.

(If you said Treebeard and the Ents, the Ents join the war against Saruman and act independantly, they did not pledge alliegence to Aragorn. A few folk put the Dunedain, this is the race of men descended from Isildur of which Aragorn is the king.)

8) when the sun rises at the seige of Helm's Deep, an army has gathered behind the Orcs, what is the army composed of ? (1)


9) What sort of creatures rescued Sam and Frodo from Mount Doom, what is their leader called ? (2)

The Great Eagles, Gwaihir

10) Who cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand ? (1)


This Week's Scores

Saeri 17
Eleanor 16
MR 14
Chez 14
Mr Moosehead 14
Tony G 13
Dan Munchi 12
Penny Farthing 11

Week 5.2 League Table

1) Eleanor 25
2) MR 23
3) Mr Moosehead 22
4) Saeri 17
5) Penny Farthing 16
6) Chez 14
7) Tony G 13
8) Dan Munchie 12
9) Squirt 9
10) Electric Landlord 8
11) Dr P 8
12) Matt M 7

Well done folks, I'll be back with a new quiz soon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

MySpace, Home Of The Weird

Myspace user Dirty Barby

(Found by Stephanie)

You have to log in to see the freaks, but accounts are free.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bugger, Arse, etc.

The Eurovision Winners

Finland / Lordi win Eurovision, Daz Sampson was shite and deservedly got only a handful of votes, the French insisted on speaking French despite everyone else in the competition speaking English, and their song was rubbish. It would have been a perfect night if the French entry had received nil points.

What's the betting we see loads of costumed rock bands in next year's comp ?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

MySpace, Where There's Always Someone Weirder Than You

MySpace user Cathedral
Ray Harryhausen at the NMFPT

A bit of a cultural day out yesterday, the National Museum of Film, Photography & Television had two new exhibitions opening yesterday, Myths and Visions : The Art of Ray Harryhausen and A Tale of Two Cities : Photographs of London and New York. Entrance to the museum is free, another perfect Tyke day out then.

I love Harryhausen's work, I remember all those old films from my childhood, Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years BC, The Valley of Gwangi.

This is Harryhausen's own draught for the famous skeleton fight scene from Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen learned to fence whilst desinging the scene so that he would have more understanding of how the combatants should move, the stop motion animated scene took four and a half months to finish.

Harryhausen, at the age of 18, started drawing for a project he called Evolution of the World, but after seeing Disney's Fantasia he abandoned the project as being too immense to be filmed. Many of his dinosaur scenes would be used in his later films.

It is a great exhibition, with loads of artwork, models and movie clips.

The second exhibition is equally interesting, photographs of London and New York from the dawn of photography to the modern day. It was John Davies' stunning picture of St. Pancras station that reminded me to post a photo of that building yesterday.

There are also some books of photography on display and one that really grabbed my attention was Joel Sternfeld - Walking The High Line, the High Line is the raised railway running through Manhattan, read more about this hidden park on the link. The Friends of the High Line are a not for profit group working to preserve this inner city wonder.
Revenge Of The Nerds

Insult the Comic Dog vs. The Star Wars Nerds

Oh the tears of laughter.

(Seen on Greasy Chip Butty)
Golf Course Closed - Flooding

Yet they are crying out for water down South, there's an injustice here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What Will Become Of The Bradford Odeon ?

The old Odeon cinema in Bradford city centre has been closed for about six years, the building is getting tatty, plants and small trees now grow from its cracks and crevices and scores of pigeons dwell behind its broken windows, but, something is afoot.......

Bradford Council have unveiled an Urban Regeneration Plan with the idea of turning industrial Bradford into some sort of Venice of West Yorkshire. It doesn't matter about the lack of canals either, they're going to dig their way to the Leeds-Liverpool, grab a shovel everyone.

Plans on display at the National Museum of Film and Photography show the three competing plans for the developemet of the 'New Victoria' cinema.

Casa Mela

Aaargh, MY EYES, MY EYES! Ok, so someone went a little mad with the colour palette here, but, erm, well at least it retains the old Odeon/New Victoria towers to help maintain a bit of the heritage.

Bradford Pivot

The architects Dyer say this about their proposal..."Our aim is to create a sustainable building with a strong identity providing the city centre with a mixed- use venue to shop, relax, learn, live and work. The pivot reflects the scale of the new public space known as ‘The Bowl’ while respecting the surrounding architectural heritage. It compliments the composition of the new buildings while creating a visual reference.

The lower floors provide active frontages to strengthen the public realm and a feature window creates the gateway to the college. The residential accommodation sweeps up from the height of the Alhambra to an office tower with a public restaurant at the summit."

What the bloody hell are "active frontages to strengthen the public realm " ? And how in the name of Priestley does this glass monstrosity claim to be "respecting the surrounding architectural heritage." ?

Th building is just horrible, a bog standard, modern, thoughtless, ugly, nasty, prefab looking thing, but, if you think this is bad, just look at what Carey Jones Architects have come up with......

(Oh, by the way, Pivot, shit name as well.)

New Victoria Palace

God name, shame about the building. This is by far the dullest and least inspired of the three proposals, it is quite astonishing in its dullness, it would blend seamlessly into any city in the world, you would walk right past and the building would never, ever impinge on your conciousness because it is so incredibly dull.

Looking at how bad these proposals are, can you just imagine the ones that were rejected ? Good Lord they must have been bad.

I'll be casting my vote for Casa Mela as it retains a small portion of the charm of the original building, the other two are hollow, soulless constructions that will look dated almost as soon as they are built.

Why is it that architects are unable to design nice looking buildings anymore ? Give them a job and they all say "Oooh, I know, let's make it all out of glass."

As a bit of architectural relief from these carbuncles, here is one of my favourite buildings, St. Pancras Rail Station in London (now being converted into expensive apartments).