tinyjo: (Default)
My assignment for my first OU tutorial is to write a review of a book, play, film or exhibition to read out to my tutorial partners and have dissected. We're then going on to talk about academic essay writing, apparently, but I'm sure some of the reviews will be interesting :) Anyway, I thought I'd post mine here, about The Declaration, a book I pinched from [personal profile] coalescent when we were over there watching The West Wing. When I'd finished it, I bought and read the other two in the series on Kindle over the next week, so you can infer that I enjoyed it; I'd also definitely recommend it as an enjoyable read.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley )
tinyjo: (Default)
Thanks to the forbearance of the RSC in the matter of my absent minded treatment of my tickets (still not turned up!) we went to see Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon (soon to be renamed Shakespeareville) last week. ramblings about Stratford and the production )

The next day we had a few hours to kill before we had to be in Cambridge and I had originally thought we would go somewhere or browse around Stratford, but actually what I ended up doing was sitting in the hotel garden and blitzing the second half of The Steel Remains, Richard Morgan's foray into fantasy.

really long rambling review of TSR )

So yeah. Could have been great. But still was damn good.
tinyjo: (wine)
Thanks to everyone who made it to the party on Saturday - I had an absolutely fabulous time! Although having Guitar Hero on meant I didn't circulate as much as perhaps I should it also made for the sort of thing where I feel comfortable and relaxed. I've never been good at circulating - I'm not that good at conversations in noisy places for a start and I tend to be quite quiet at parties. I'd noticed at [livejournal.com profile] coalescent and [livejournal.com profile] snowkings parties that having the console on was something that worked really well for me. I hope I didn't end up annoying anyone though - I know that I didn't end up chatting to some of you much.

I seem to have been on a reading binge for no apparent reason in the past few weeks. I've managed to read through 5 new books ).

Actually, I dare swear I'm missing something here (probably a re-read) but that must be the biggest crop of new (to me) books I've read in a long time. What with that and becoming addicted to Stadium Arcadium now I've listened to it through I'm actually feeling quite... I don't know the word, but like I'm actually engaging with things again rather than just staying my comfort zone
tinyjo: (candid-opinion)
Well, it looks like I'm going to have to say goodbye to my lovely Samsung F700 just 10 days after getting it :( In many respects, it's a gorgeous phone and I love the keyboard particularly but unfortunately I have discovered a dealbreaker. I figured before I do send it back, I'd put a review of it up here for the edification of future purchasers as when I googled for it I couldn't find anything useful online at all.

my thoughts )

This sounds like I don't really like it but actually, I really do. It's only the calendar thing that's killing it for me, the other stuff is just things I've noticed that I'm not wild about but am prepared to accept in exchange for the pros, which I do love.
tinyjo: (relaxing)
Went out to see Stardust last night - first film I've seen in ages. I actually rather enjoyed it, although it was marred by the end of the final confrontation making no sense as far as I could see. Other than that and the usual amount of o.O at the behaviour of the female characters, it was good - nice amount of sass, very pretty and so on. The only thing was, it wouldn't have taken much to make it really good. Still, not a bad way to break the duck.

Have managed to put together all my flat-packs from the weekend so now I need to figure out what's going on freecycle and what's going in a corner somewhere for the new extension of the future. Annoyingly, they still haven't restocked my TV table according to the website so I don't know if I'll be able to collect it at the weekend. On the other hand, we may not have the new TV by then anyway.
tinyjo: (cat don't care)
I see that in my posting fit on Friday, I failed to mention the fact that I did my history exam on Thursday! Yes, it is finally all over and I think I did pretty well. I got lucky with question selection and think I produced a pretty creditable pair of essays and source questions at least up to my usual standard. I didn't end up feeling I should have worked harder or anything so I think even if I only get a grade 2 pass (I definitely didn't bomb it) I'll be happy that I did my best and gave myself the best chance of a distinction I could.

After the exam was over, Alex and I decided to have curry for dinner (well that was mostly me, but he agreed :)). We ordered and I watched some Location, Location, Location while we waited. The doorbell rang, I paused the computer and got the curry and then sat down to a blank screen! Our first instinct was to blame the computer. We fiddled with the connection, changed the wire & rebooted with no joy. Eventually we decided we must have somehow shafted the graphics card and decided to watch a video. I connected that to the scart and we then discovered that it wasn't the computer, it was the scart socket on the TV :( We managed to watch a video over the old fashioned aerial connection but now we need a new TV as all our other tech will only communicate via SCART, unfortunately. TVs have got a lot more complicated since I last bought one as well. Any recommendations? Brands to avoid?

Saturday was Jeremy and Jo Go To Ikea day! It was fun, and productive but extremely exhausting. I came back with a car literally completely packed with stuff, 2 items I hadn't managed to collect (sofa and TV table - the original items I was looking for :)) and a vision of the living room and how it's actually going to work and be transformed into a really nice room (Alex looks at me like I'm odd when I start squeaking about my rocking chair :)). Also, complete crockery set so that all our stuff will match and other miscellaneous bits and bobs which are of win. Of course my living room currently looks like a bomb has hit it because it's full of flat packs but I'll work on that tonight.

Sunday we went over for lunch with Sadie & Tim and managed to get onto the "shocking people with films I have never seen" game :) They were particularly shocked by Casablanca so after we'd eaten and drunk we repaired to the living room for a double bill - Airplane followed by Casablanca. Airplane was kind of fun in a silly way (and funnier by recognising bits from a House ep where he has to treat people on a flight). Casablanca was awesome. I had somehow managed to not know the story at all, just the famous quotes so I came to it completely fresh and had to have a little cry at the end, it was so sad. I was fascinated by the fact that it was made during the war, which to me made it more poignant because no-one writing or seeing it knew how the world situation would turn out - they really could have been stuck in Casablanca forever. Also, there's presumably a propaganda motive in there too - showing an American in the centre of the action, making a heroic sacrifice for the good of the war effort must have been a popular message.
tinyjo: (Default)
Looking at the BBC list of franchise films for this summer certainly provided me with a surprise or two. Oceans 13 I don't know about - I loved the first one but the second was rather rubbish. Still, could be good. The Bourne franchise was the same - started well and tailed off, although not so dramatically as Oceans. Still the idea of a Bourne thriller written by Tom Stoppard is so intriguing that I may well have to check it out! I suspect that I will end up seeing PotC3 and Spiderman 3 as part of groups of people but I wouldn't get around to them on my own - on the other hand, PotC3 may at least generate some good Kermode rants :)
tinyjo: (relaxing)
So, I ended up having a really lovely birthday on Tuesday. As we'd been down to my folks a couple of weekends ago I wasn't really thinking of making much of a thing of it at all and hadn't really made any plans. In the morning I got an extra big hug from Alex and my pressie (which he'd cunningly tucked away on his side of the bed) - all the CDs of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again*! Which represents an act of heroic self sacrifice on his part as I cackle and know the words to some of those episodes :)

Off to work, as per, and I get a parcel. Ooh, thinks I :) It was actually gifts from Alex's mum, including Dance Factory from my wish list, which is one of those dance mat games except you can use your own CDs for the tunes instead of being stuck with the ones they pick, which is pretty awesome. Alex and I made IM plans to meet up after work for dinner at my favourite resturant and then a film. I also got Happy Birthday'd by quite a few people online, which made me feel all warm and glowy - as I hadn't really mentioned it this year, I hadn't thought anyone would remember, so thanks, guys.

Dinner was lovely, and then we went to see Hot Fuzz, which was a lot of fun (if a bit gory in places). Pub, with birthday hug from [livejournal.com profile] cleanskies followed and then it was off home again. It was here that my equilibrium slightly broke because we went down the river path and as we got across the first set of bridges onto the straight, we could see a fire in the distance. Not a big one but it seemed odd. Alex thought it might be on the other side, where he's seen fires before but actually, we got up to it to discover that it was a bin fire. Fortunatly, there seemed to be no fire setters hanging around nearby! It wasn't too big but it was obviously burning away merrily and close to overhanging trees and a wooden fence so we decided to play it safe and called the fire brigade, delaying us slightly as we had to head back up to Folly Bridge to guide them in. Very odd.

Overall, birthday rating = excellent.
tinyjo: (butterfly)
Back from my birthday weekend away (I have an official birthday now). Cats very pleased to see me, as usual, and, again, the postman las left my post outside, although this time at least it was behind the back door. My OU stuff again - this time, the fossils stuff, and I have to say, it does look very cool. I even have practical kit, although I'm saving exploring that for the appropriate point in the course.

I also got my second TMA back just before heading out for the weekend, which was very cheering. My tutor seemed extremely chuffed with it - apparently, I've cracked referencing (by putting in references for every single idea I've used rather than assuming one reference per paragraph will cover all ideas from the same source for that para) and she was very impressed that I actually went and looked up my own evidence for some of the stuff (league tables from the BBC website mostly).

I read My Sisters Keeper over the weekend too, which I got as a birthday gift. I really enjoyed it, although I felt slightly cheated by the ending. It seemed like a cheaters dramatic way out of the terrible hard situation. A way of taking the decision away when the whole point of the novel was to give the decision to Anna. Very emotional. It also has a section of book club notes at the back, something I've started to notice in a certain type of literary fiction which I find very annoying because I can't stop myself reading them. Right after finishing a book is too soon to think about thematic elements, I say.
tinyjo: (music/immersion)
Well, domestic weekend going fine so far, although I had been hoping to get out into the garden a little bit. Ah well, maybe tomorrow. We de-duplicated the Pratchett today before Alex went to Oxfam, which will give us a bit of slack in our bookshelves. I'm sure no household really needs 3 copies of Interesting Times, after all! Turns out we're only missing 2 Discworld books of those in paperback, which is not bad.

The trouble with being domestic on a Saturday afternoon is that there's no good radio after the World at 1. You're stuck with Any Questions and Any Answers, which are unbearable and then the Saturday play, which is rarely my kind of thing (although listening to a few recent afternoon plays has changed my opinions of the possibilities of radio drama). Today I've been listening to Sams Town again. This was one of Alex's Christmas presents that we were both really pleased with. We had it on while we were driving to London in our Christmas round trip and it's definitely a grower - nothing really hit me the first time round then the second time (long drive), I started to get into Read My Mind and Uncle Jonny. This time, I've been enjoying pretty much all of it and I think it's actually more like the first album than I thought - the big anthemic sound is still in there when you listen. Highly recommended.
tinyjo: (Default)
I quite like the new update page now that they've changed the font again - that was the one thing bugging me about the first version. It feels less cluttered to me. I guess it's one of those things where as you add more and more new options there's going to be a regular need to have another look and see if you can present them better. In other happy technology news, I went to the listen live Radio 4 site to discover that finally, at long last, you can listen live to Radio 4 using Media Player! This means that I can uninstall the copy of RealAlternative I'm not really supposed to have on my PC and listen without fear of the IT department. Most satifying. Although I wish that Media Player 11 wasn't so very black!

We went to see Pans Labyrinth last night. I quite enjoyed it (despite having to hide my eyes several times) but wasn't anywhere near as enraptured as the Kermode, who waxed very lyrical about it recently. Some parts didn't quite seem to make sense but overall, it was pretty good and I'm glad I saw it. The Prestige remains my film of the year by quite a way though. Pan's Labryinth also ended up influencing some very odd dreams, although (fortunatly for you) I can't remember the details now.

Unfortunatly, while I did get a bit of Christmas shopping done beforehand, I didn't get very far for some reason. I'm finding Mum very difficult this year for some reason - I just lack inspiration. An extra present for Dad just fell into my arms via work today so he's more than sorted but Mum's pile is looking a bit sparse so far. (Hi, Mum :) ). We're getting Alex's coat from Camden in the New Year so I just have to sort out his stocking which is also going slowly. It is kind of putting me off the stocking concept actually as I keep seeing thing that I think "oh, that will be fun" but I know that it will be fun for Christmas day and then become clutter that rarely if ever gets seen. I have managed to find a good few things though that were either too much fun to resist or have actual uses so it'll get there in the end.

We were going to eat at the Radcliffe Arms between shopping and cinema but their Christmas CD was so unbearable that I had to leave which is quite impressive as my tolerance is much higher than Alex's. Still, tinkly piano Christmas was just awful so we went to the Hardcourt Arms instead - not many food choices but at least we could read Private Eye while we were eating, although that got me all worked up on how unfair it is that newspapers just make stuff up after reading about the Sun claiming that Romania and Bulgaria have the highest HIV rate in Europe and they're all going to come here and spread Aids when they join the EU. In fact, according to the UN they have the lowest rates in Europe but this doesn't seem to matter to the institutionally xenophobic and presumably as no specific person has motivation to sue they'll just get away with it. Maybe the Bulgarian embassy can complain or something.

Tonight we're out again at the 2nd gig of the Space Heros of the People. Can they top their fab first, we wonder? Come to the Exeter and check it out! I'm looking forward to being able to say I liked them before they were popular :) Then next week I've three nights out before we head over to the folks on Saturday - I shall really need a Christmas break by then!
tinyjo: (relaxing)
From somewhere I have managed to collect a rather unpleasant cold which blocks my sinuses and saps my energy. I spent most of Saturday lounging around on the couch and watching Veronica Mars, which was very enjoyable. I may even be enjoying this second series more - it certainly has less flashbacking, which is a relief.

Sunday was Rabbit Day. Alex had collected a rabbit from the covered market for me on Friday which I turned into stew, Ellen bought pumpkin pie (not rabbit related but very nice) and we watched Watership Down and Svenkmayers Alice. I quite enjoyed Watership down, although I wouldn't say I loved it. I missed the stories they tell each other in the book but at least they didn't make any substantial plot changes (although one or two of the instubstantial ones baffled me rather - like why did they kill Blackavar off? I'm sure that didn't happen in the book). Overall, it felt a little like a summary of the book but was fairly enjoyable.

Alice, on the other hand, I found so incredibly dull that I ended up reading a Dick Francis book while it was on. Very pretty and arty, yes, but no actual characters or interaction. Thumbs firmly down. I also made people watch, in the gaps between the action, as twere, the first episode of Dinnerladies, the first Yes Minister and the first Yes Prime Minister, which is about the nuclear deterent.

I got the impression that the others didn't think much of Dinnerladies, which is a shame. It's one of my absolute favourite shows. Not often belly laugh material but it makes you smile and puts you in a good mood, I find. It's a very gentle humour and it doesn't have a nasty character in it really. I just don't have a proper vicious streak :) The Yes Minsters were great fun, as expected. I think they should arrange a special showing of the Trident one in the House of Commons. I love the fact that it dates so little (apart from the costumes :) ).

By the end of the evening I was starting to flag rather, the cold and the warmth of the fire conspiring against me, but it was a very enjoyable weekend, I would say. I didn't get a lot of the stuff I'd planned done, like going to Halfords with bike and car, but that can wait. When I've got rid of this cold, then I'll get on it.
tinyjo: (relaxing)
Wow, I obviously shouldn't have left the internet alone for the weekend as you lot seem to have been mad busy! Doing a quick catch up on Sunday evening after being prompted by the visit of [livejournal.com profile] archie was a very up and down experience - congratulations and comiserations where appropriate.

Anyway, as you may have implied from the above, I spent the weekend in a fairly relaxing fashion. Saturday was devoted to tidying up the downstairs, which was fairly sucessful, followed by gigging with [livejournal.com profile] white_hart and [livejournal.com profile] coalescent. I haven't been to a gig for ages, I realised afterwards, so perhaps it was appropriate that last week contained this year's John Peel day. It's hard to believe it's been 2 years. The gig (Seth Lakeman) was really rather good. Nice if unremarkable support followed by a very impressive performance from man and band. I'm always surprised when someone who is just advertised as themselves comes on with a band. In this case, not as unreasonable as it might at first appear as he did do one or two solo numbers as well as all the singing and the virtuoso fiddle playing but it would still be nice to have an "and x" after his name like Eliza Carthy and the Ratcatchers. The set itself was excellent - I'm not very familiar with his stuff, having only listened to a couple of tracks. My main reason for going was that I had missed him at Truck and wanted to make up for it. It was kind of a cross between folk and rock in some ways - mostly folk tunes(?) but given a less traditional, more rock'n'roll treatment. That's not actually quite right but I can't think of a better word to use than rock - I am lame at describing genre.

Sunday started off with the intention of being a lazy day. I roasted the mallard for Sunday lunch, which was rather nice. I haven't managed to make stock out of the carcass yet but I might. After that, there was lounging around discussing things and stuff and then Alex went out to be manly and remove the 2 wooden posts attached to the roof of the conservatory in the hope that we could find the source of the leaky roof underneath them. We did find a couple of screws standing proud which have now been screwed back in and covered firmly with mastik so fingers very firmly crossed we may even have managed it. Of course now that I want an experimental rainstorm, the skies are clear and blue - typical! Although according to MetCheck we do have some coming, including 13.8ml on Friday morning, which should test things a bit.

This week is our 9 year anniversary. Yes, we'll have been going out for a third of my life. I find that idea nice and kind of comforting, although Alex thinks it's disturbing - reminds him of getting older, I guess. Still, I like the thought. We're going to head out for dinner to celebrate.
tinyjo: (me - b&w)
Spent a very pleasent long weekend. Off to London on Friday to rendezvous with Mum for her birthday\Christmas present - a trip to the Globe, a go on the London Eye, an overnight stay and then to top it off, a day at the National Portrait Gallery. All these things turned out to be fantastic fun, marred only by the complete lack of free wireless networks :( Even the hotel, which I had simply assumed would have one didn't.

Friday - the Globe, the Eye and the hotel )

Saturday - National Portrait Gallery and Alex's birthday )

Sunday - Rocket vs airship and A Scanner Darkly )

So, a busy weekend. Next weekend I'm off to my folks place for a week, while Alex is away with the hippies which should be very relaxing, I hope. In the meantime, based on a check with HR about what the policy covers, I have decided to go ahead and get a doctors appointment to get my thyroid checked on the NHS so I'm heading over for that on Wednesday. We'll see what they say.

I really need to either figure out a way to bluetooth photos to my computer in bulk or get round to transferring everything over the wire - I'm getting quite backed up with images on the camera now. Still discovering nifty features and so on - it's even got a built in photo editor where you can adjust the brightness, contrast, etc before sending the pics to your friends.
tinyjo: (cat don't care)
Now this looks like my kind of film. Definitely going to see that when it comes out.

We saw Lady in the Water this week, by the way, which was AWFUL! Slow, incredibly didactic and with a batshit crazy plot. It played like it was trying to be a sort of creepy horror film, but if you persist in poking at the 4th wall in that kind of thing it just doesn't work. It has to be imersive and this so wasn't. Also, if M. Night is going to make up his own fairy tales he should get a lot better at naming his mythical creatures.
tinyjo: (jasmine)
Updates eh. Stuff happens to me, but somehow I don't write about them. Recent happenings include:

* Visit from parents last weekend. Spur of the moment plan to get together to watch the Wimbledon finals at my place. Dad bought champagne and we had that with strawberries and cream. It was a really nice weekend actually.

* Chat with my boss at work resulting in promise of bonus for me at end of quarter! w00t!

* General announce by my boss that we're moving to another room where I will be able to sit with my screen facing the wall. Also yay.

* Failing to find any trace of my old address book that I thought I had backed up before my harddrive died last year and consequent failure to pass it to Caption folks :(

* Rediscovered a short play I wrote when in my first year. Not terrible, actually, but not actually what one would call good.

* Feelin' good about that whole SB admin thing. The last month or so, I've really felt like I had it under control. Now I need to kick some of my training projects up a gear.

* Visit to Beanwood with Brownies where the girls were all really well behaved and then visit to cricket match/party with Sadie. As last year, watched penultimate Dr Who ep and was unimpressed. Also enrolled 4 new Brownies. As of September Brownies will be all girls we've enrolled, which seems kind of cool.

* Girls night. Fantastic. Booze and talk and much good cheer and good companionship.

* Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest. Not as good as the first one. Too much plot, too much drama, not enough fun.

* Macbeth on Headington Hill: Not too bad. Didn't like the witches at all. Good MacBeth. Lady M started over the top but got much better.
tinyjo: (relaxing)
Went to see V for Vendetta last week and really really like it. I must go back and read some of the reviews, which I've heard were pretty bad to see what they objected to - I thought it was a really strong film. Highly recommended. Was discussing it in the pub, with Alex and Archie I think and someone asked whether it would fall under the heading of glorifying terrorism. What do you think?

Also, next week, tapas, Weds, in the tapas place in the new bit by the castle. What time do we want to meet up? And where - are we going to rendezvous somewhere beforehand?

Edit Plan is to meet up at Bar Ha Ha as close to 5 as possible and then head on to the tapas place between 5:30 & 6pm. OK?
tinyjo: (jasmine)
Well, I figure I should write on this sometimes :) I'm really enjoying my week off so far. Shed knocking down went with a swing and we turned the resulting pile of wood into a fantastic bonfire which inspired an impromptu bonfire party - we even toasted marshmallows although we had to do it on specially extended sticks to get them close enough to the heat. I got some good photos but I haven't uploaded them to a PC yet.

In the aftermath, the garden is starting to come together. The new shed is much smaller but still fits in our stuff with a little space to spare and the new layout is looking good. Mum and I have covered, edged and gravelled the new path while Dad has been sorting out the brick wall at one end of it. I'm going to try and do a bit of a photo project - I forgot to take before photos but I will be taking photos once we've got everything in and then in 3 months, 6 months and so on. Also, I managed to find a russet apple tree - my absolute favourite type and quite hard to find - you never see russets in supermarkets but now I'll have my own supply. I've also got a twisty hazel, which will look great.

All the gardening is quite tiring but it'll be worth it and it's a different kind of tiring from work so that's all good. Still, I'm in two minds about whether to go to the Los Diablos gig tonight. I do want to, but I'm really finding it hard to imagine summoning up the energy. See, this is where a teleporter would be great - I could just turn up with no effort, which would be perfect.

Tomorrow is our day off and we're going to do some shopping in town before the big dinner at Le Manoir for me and Dad - I'm excited but trying not to get too worked up in case it doesn't live up to it - I'll let you know.

Ah, I remember the other thing I was going to say. We went to see Walk the Line last night. A very good film. The two leads did fantastic jobs. I ended up not actually liking Cash that much - I think he was damn lucky he met June Carter really.
tinyjo: (me - post-finals)
The Libertine Johnny Depp, as always, good value but I found that it was a bit too relentlessly depressing - it was all the downhill slide and none of the fun. If they'd shown some of the fun then perhaps the prologue ("You will not like me") would have rung more true.

Underworld:Evolution I went to see this on the grounds that it had Derek Jackobi in in (I mean, eh?!) plus Kate Beckinsale in PVC. It delivers on both these counts but that's about all you can say. It never occurred to me that I should find out what the plot of the previous one was before watching this...
tinyjo: (vibro-cat)
Having said I would for, ooh, ages and ages, I'm finally going to start updating this with one or two sentance reviews of the films we go to see every week. So, without further ado...

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Managed to pull off being good film noir and really really funny, something that, coming out, I was quite amazed by. And Val Kilmer looks scarily like William Shatner. Thumbs firmly up.

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tinyjo: (Default)
Emptied of expectation. Relax.

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