Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Film 2010: new review of Winter's Bone

New film review is done and dusted (click on the film 2010 tab above).

I'm still well ahead with this list, so have had a bit of a break. Thanks to Tim for reminding me Blockbuster has been paid for sending us these DVDs and I had better make the most of the last ones as they have been cancelled. I'll be using the library from now on then!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Number 27: the 100 word challenge

Writing and I have a strange relationship. I have been paid to string words together in a productive order for more than twenty years but I have never really owned any of the results.

I have developed a policy that on most occasions, I am the person that puts pen to paper for a first draft which gives everyone else a clearer idea of what they don't want, giving them hours of fun pulling it apart and putting in lots of bits that they never got round to mentioning in the original brief.

What goes into print is usually the result of a political editing job, rather than true writing.

I am now in a position where I can choose to write whatever I like but have found it almost impossible to know where to start. It turns out that I need the brief and the group of opinionated stakeholders.

It is without doubt easier when someone else gives you a starting point. I have just discovered the 100 Word Challenge, via the proofreader and wordsmith Louise Maskill, which looked like a challenge worth having a go at for a 52, even though the first 100 is always the hardest and usually comes with an exponentially larger volume of swearwords.

The latest challenge is to use three of the words ditched from the next edition of the COED: brabble, growlery and foozle. Great words all round. Here's my effort (in amateur, nonsense haiku - please be kind...):

Tall cliffs climb high
the path winding to the top.
Try not to foozle.

A brabble that turns
into a silly babble
wasn't important.

Lightly overcook;
stir late or sink in middle;
eat in growlery.

Do not go past go
do not get two hundred pounds
go to growlery.

Making a foozle
is the way to make sure you
are not asked again.

The tool kit opens
to show a wife-proof foozle.
Knife end turns the screw.

Better stop writing
before a brabble arrives.
Laptop snaps shut fast.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ellen's 52 salutes Red 4

This is a brief post, but I can't let the moment pass without paying tribute to Red 4, Flt Lt Jon Egging, the Red Arrows pilot who died last weekend.

We have seen the Reds fly many times and the thrill never lessens - I saw them in Lowestoft two weeks ago. I am so very sad that one of their number has gone and can only imagine how hard it is for everyone involved to come to terms with.

The picture above was taken at Cromer last year and is just one of the 100s of pictures I must have taken of the Reds over the years. It's one of my favourites and I hope a tiny tribute to a very brave man.

Number 26: emergency services

This is one you could never plan or put on any list, but this weekend I had a need to dial 999 for the first time in my life.

This isn't the place to detail the incident itself (although suffice to say all was well in the end with no long term impacts), but if anyone ever questions why they pay their taxes, I suggest they make a call on the emergency services. Honestly, I'd pay more.

It was exactly as you read in the books: fast transfer to the right department, a calm and reassuring person on the end of the phone to talk you through what to do and how to manage the situation, then the (very swift) arrival of the cavalry. The skills, knowledge and professionalism of these guys was hugely impressive and they managed a crisis situation back to a difficult but manageable situation with scary speed.

I said it many times at the time but one more won't go amiss: thanks HUGELY.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Kate Takes 5: guilty pleasures

This week, Kate has come up with the topic of guilty pleasures for her list. This one I can handle! If you want to know what this is all about click here. Otherwise, let's get started:

1. Eating Nutella with a spoon, straight from the jar

It's just not nice with bread, is it?

2. Singing loudly to James Bond theme tunes

I think this is something from my childhood, when seeing James Bond films were very exciting times. I remember queueing up to see one of them at Norwich's most frayed cinema (the one at Anglia Square, for those who shared the horrors). But it was all OK because James Bond awaited and there would be a great big theme tune to sing along to that we all knew from when we taped the charts on Sunday nights.
One of the best for bellowing in the car is 'Nobody does it better'. 
ps - I know Daniel Craig wasn't Bond when I was little, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post a picture :-)

3. Pausing by the magazine shelves and reading all the celeb headlines

I'm sure I'm not alone in doing this as sometimes I have to elbow my way through to get a good view of the cover of 'Hello'! Tom and Katy? Gah!

4. Knowing lines from Star Trek

I must have watched every episode of The Next Generation while I was a student, at least once. In my defence, it was a house tradition that no revision/essay writing/research could happen while Jean Luc was on TV so we all used to congregate for an hour every day.
So I know what Data's laugh sounds like and that Worf 'is not a merry man'. Tragic...

5. Putting things on the wrong shelves in supermarkets

This is a game my sister and I invented when we used to shop together years ago. We noticed that at the end of the supermarket, people change their minds about random items in their trolley and just abandon them wherever they are. Hence you will find socks in with frozen peas, cheese in the Ribena and a DVD stacked with the rice pudding. The phenomena was first observed with a milk drink called Shakey Jake, although sadly I can't remember where it had been left. It did, however, lend its name to the act of finding a lost item. They have all been Shakey Jaked. On the odd occasion I have to leave something behind, I have a proper chuckle to myself.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Number 25: Lowestoft air show

No idea what this is but it was big
and photographable :-)
After some consideration, I think the thing with air shows is that although they are all about motors and flying and engineering and stuff, they still have the potential to be Ellen-friendly because they sound AMAZING.

I haven't been to the Lowestoft show before even though I have lived in Norwich for years. In truth, technically I still haven't been because we went to Kessingland beach just down the coast which was much quieter with no queues for parking. Highly recommended if anyone is looking for tips, although you will have to make your donation to the charity that supports the show some other way.

Red arrow smoke and empty beach
We wandered down the beach for half an hour or so, found a quiet spot and set up our picnic blanket. The show was opened by the Red Arrows, who put on a stunning show. I love their englishness, the finesse and will even forgive them for not doing the heart shape in smoke.

Then there was a bit of procession of planes and smaller displays, until the plane with Big Noises came on. One fighter jet pilot found his right foot right over our heads and my head nearly rolled off my shoulders. B-rilliant :-)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Number 24: film club

This is a trick I learned while diligently studying for my English degree: if the book is long, tedious and hard work - watch the film.

I have been part of a book club for a couple of years and we have all enjoyed having a chin wag every few weeks, but it was becoming clear that having to read a book to do it was becoming a bit of a chore. So we decided to cut out the middle man and have a film club instead. Tonight we met up, had a gossip, then watched Harry Potter.

What's not to like??

Harry was as good as you would expect him to be with a budget the size of Hagrid's coat pockets. It's definitely sad to see him go but I imagine it won't be forever. Hermione remembered to act once or twice and it was nice to Neville get some of the comedy one liners. It was also fun playing spot the spoof moment: we counted a fair few bits from Indiana Jones, a blatant Twilight, several almost direct quotes from Lords of the Rings and even a chunk of The Mummy.

In two months time we'll be going for film club the sequel.

ps - the more observant among you might know that we did a prequel to film club back in June. A few of us met to go and see Pirates of the Carribbean but for several reasons it didn't feel right to put it on the list. We were a much reduced group, it was a but of a trial run and most importantly it was unfeasibly, ridiculously, mind-numbungly, atrociously bad, even with 3D. It would have benefited from 100 minutes being edited out. Johnny Depp's eyeliner couldn't even save it.

All good shows need an interval

And it feels a bit like June and July have been an interval from the way through the 52s.

There has been a lot going on - good, bad and ugly - but I think the biggest reason has been a failure in inspiration. When I came up with the idea I had a bit of a list in mind, so these were the ones I got busy with straight away. When inspiration ran out and I started having to cast about for new ideas, the momentum seemed to go out of the thing a bit.

And in part I have been a victim of my own success. Quite a few of the 52s have had a knock on effect, for instance I now sing in the choir every week and the says alice sewing world goes through phases of being really busy. When you pile that on top of everything else, time sometimes gets a bit short.

But the plan remains and rest assured, I am on the case. August had better watch out...