News and comments from Arthur

The Sci-Fi Film Festival

 Sunday 30 Apr 2006, 10:25 AM

Well, the day of the Sci-fi film festival finally arrived, much to Arthur`s excitement. After picking up several friends from around Reading, he drove to Ealing, parking at another friends house. They went shopping for and hour or so (including grabbing some Pocky from the Japan centre) before heading to the cinema, the Apollo on Regent street just of Picadilly Circus. Arthur got the tickets (and also got his refund on the booking fee which the cinema had tried to charge him twice for because their system couldn`t handle booking lots of tickets at once so they had to put it through as 2 seperate bookings)

The cinema was very fancy. Lots of pink and blue LED lighting, glass walls, glass steps, LCD and plasma screens etc. The foyer bar area wasn`t as big as the cinema used in previous years so it felt a bit more crowded but it was OK. The first film was Survive Style 5+, a surreal Japanese film that has been described as Pulp Fiction on drugs. It was very funny and is well worth seeing. The film was shown from DVD (or high definition video tape) via a video projector. This was slightly disappointing but the picture was pretty good and only suffered in that the contrast wasn`t as good as film. The sound had a bit of hiss but was otherwise very clear and loud.

After a break for pizza and a quick walk around Trafalgar square, past the Millenium eye, Big Ben etc. it was time for the main event, the Japanese animation all nighter. This was actually being shown in 2 screens next door to each other. Arthur was in screen 4 and the other showing was screen 5 where he had earlier seen Survive Style 5+.

After subtly easing towards the front of the queue through the packed cinema foyer, Arthur gor some good seats almost at the back of the cinema. All screens had nice steep stadium seating so getting a good view wasn`t a problem. However, the the heat in the cinema was. It was very hot and even when the air condition was turned on it only made things slightly better (a slow boiling instead of a full on roasting). After grabbing a goodie bag and several other prizes thrown into the audience, the first film shown was a 25 minute short called Voices from a Distant Past. This was shown by video projector and right from the start it was clear the sound wasn`t up to scratch. It was very quiet and all the dialog was coming from the left speaker. Unfortunately this continued for the rest of the night, but only on the 2 other films shown by video projector, although the volume levels were improved slightly. Had Arthur not heard how good the sound had been earlier in the other screen he would just have put it down to the fact it was being shown from DVD/digital video.

The first full film was Ghost in the Shell 2. It was shown on 35mm film it looked and sounded fantastic. Arthur has seen it ion DVD before but it was still a great film to see on a big screen. After break for water (lots of it to replace ther fluids that had been lost due to a lot of sweating) the second film was Karas: The Prophecy (shown on DVD/video), an insane, nonsensical film about a mystical warror in samurai power armour. It ended very abruptly leaving the audince scratching their heads. It was clearly the first part of a longer series although knowing this didn`t help much! After some free ice cream and more water it was Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. This was shown on 35mm film and was even more stunning than GitS2. The compter animation was gorgeous and the film was the highlight of the night. The last film shown (on DVD/video) was The Place Promised in our Early Days. It was a very slow film but Arthur found it strangely compelling to watch.

The whole thing ended at 7:30am on Sunday morning and slightly bleary eyed, Arthur caught the tube back to Ealing and then drove home. It had been a good line up of films and the event had only been let down by unnecessary technical problems and crap air conditioning. It was all the more annoying to find out afterwards that the air con in the other screen had been working just fine! The viewers in Screen 4 got a bad deal even though they were the ones to book first. Thanks a lot Apollo cinemas.

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Arthur vs Wallingford

 Saturday 29 Apr 2006, 4:10 PM

After yesterday, Arthur has discovered that is wasn`t "national drive close to cyclists" day, in fact Arthur is totally invisible to everyone else around him. It seems to be the only explanation for people`s behaviour earlier today.

Arthur had got up early to drive to Wallingford to visit the farmers` market, in particular the cheese man who does some very nice cheeses. On his way there he had one person driving at high speed towards him the wrong way down a one way street. This person only seemed to notice Arthur after they had narrowly missed him and were turning round to gesticulate angrily and doubtless swear lots (all this despite the fact it was them who were going the wrong way!). A bit later on in the journey after reached a queue of traffic waiting at some lights. There were a couple of parked cars opposite each other on either side of the road near the back of the queue so instead of moving right to the back of the queue and potentially blocking the road, Arthur left a gap so traffic coming in the other direction could pass. Unfortunatly the idiot coming up behind Arthur decided to ignore all this and merilly pulled out round Arthur who was waiting patiently and plonked himself in the gap Arthur had kindly left. Yet another example of a fuckwit who should do the world a favour and die sometime soon.

When Arthur eventually got to the farmers` market in Wallingford he decided to visit the bakers stall and buy some nice fresh baked bread, croissants etc. There were a couple of people serving customers and nobody was waiting, so Artur just sauntered up and waited patiently in the middle. The people being served wanted quite a lot and a queue began to build up around the stall. The staff on the stall then moved on to serve a couple more people, ignoring Arthur. He thought "ho hum, never mind" and continued to wait patienlty. But the staff just served person after person as if Arthur didn`t exist. Eventually after waiting 5 minutes Arthur cracked and yelled something along the lines of "Excuse me, are you actuualy planning or serving me sometime soon or I am just going to stand here forever being ignored!!??". The staff on the stall looked a bit taken aback as did all the local people (most of whom were old or snooty posh types not used to such directness). One old man piped up from the back "Well there is a queue you know" to which Arthur replied "Yes, I know. I`ve been stood here for the past 5 minutes watching it build up!". That shut the cocky old cunt up.

Arthur got his croissants and left before the yokels had chance to gather their pitchforks and burning torches to finish him off. Hopefully they won`t recognise him when he goes back; Arthur can`t live without his monthly fix of delicious Chive and Onion cheese. (Not forgetting the Chilli chesse and the Oak Smoked Truckle cheese which are also pretty damned good!)

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Nintendo Wii

 Friday 28 Apr 2006, 8:05 AM

Today, Arthur was interested to read that Nintendo have renamed their new games console from Revolution to Wii (pronounced as "we"). Arthur is a big Nintendo fan as they have that Japanese quirkiness that is missing from other fasion victim branded, mass market consoles and games, so is looking forward to this new machine.

However he will admit to being a bit nervous about the new controller that looks more like a TV remote that you wave around. And the news of this name change is certainly "interesting". Wii is a very unusual name and Arthur isn`t immediately taken with it. The boss off Nintendo explained about how they came up with the name whan announcing it and what he says makes a lot of sense (see Gizmodo for more details). But Arthur still thinks it will take a bit of getting used to.

The weird name does have a positive side though; Arthur will be buying his console from a bricks and mortar retailer (rather than online) just so he can go into a shop and ask "Can I have a Wii please?". He`s so very, very childish (but it is funny!)

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Cycling and Elvis

 Friday 28 Apr 2006, 7:51 AM

Is today "National Drive Close to Cyclists" day? When cycling to work, Arthur always encounters bad drivers who get far to close to him when trying to pass (these drivers are often known as "BMW drivers") but today everyone seemed to be at it. Arthur ended up cycling further and further towards the centre of the road just to make sure everyone got the message to wait until it was clear to pass.

His journey was made a little brighter however as he spotted a living legend (at least in the Reading area) who he hadn`t seen for ages, known locally as the Elvis guy. This man is probably in his 50`s and loves Elvis. He always seems to be wearing red bell bottomed trousers (sometimes leather) and an Elvis T-Shirt. He has rather messy, greasy unkempt hair and the inane grin of a man who isn`t even 50% sane. He can often be found in the town centre dancing to music being played by buskers or in WH Smiths grinning suggestively at girls.

On this particular morning, he was walking along the road with an Elvis LP cover waving it at passing commuters stuck in slow moving traffic. Arthur then had to weave in and out of all the idiot motorists who ground to a halt in the middle of the road to gawp at the loon waving an album about and singing Elvis songs!

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Who, pizza and a not so good book

 Tuesday 25 Apr 2006, 7:38 PM The book The Amber Spyglass

New Doctor Who continued on Saturday and the epsiode, about Werewolves, was a good one. The story may not have been that involved (a large part of the episode was essentially one long chase sequence) but the action and special effects were great, the humour spot on and the scary atmosphere was perfect.

The episode was made all the better as Arthur had an very nice American Hot thin and crispy pizza from Asda to eat whilst in was on. This pizza basically consists of a number of spicy meats (Pepperoni, chicken and pork) along with some peppers and some chilli oil. Arthur doesn`t usually visit Asda as he has a Morissons closer by for his usual weekly shop, but Morrisons pizzas are just not as nice. And at only £2.99 for a big 14inch pizza loaded with meat, it is a bit of a bargain too. Asda also has some good deals on new DVDs so Arthur suspects he will be visiting there a bit more often from now on.

Arthur spent some of the weekend in bed, making sure he had fully caught up with his sleep in preparation for the upcoming all night Japanese animation at the Sci-Fi London film festival this coming weekend. Not all of his time was spent sleeping though and he managed to finish reading the Dark Materials trilogy of books by Philip Pullman.

Arthur very much enjoyed the first 2 books in the series but really didn`t think much of the third one. It just seemed to try and cram too much in (there were a lot of plotlines and stories of different characters running simultaneously) and went off on too many new bizzare tangents and after all that didn`t really come to a satisfactory resolution. Arthur just found it a bit of a chore to read and it had far to many eye-rolling and WTF???? moments for his liking. That`s not to say there weren`t individual good parts to it but as a conclusion to an epic story it just didn`t work for him.

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New New Doctor Who

 Sunday 16 Apr 2006, 9:05 PM

It was around 6:45 that Arthur sat down ready to watch new Dr Who, even though it didn`t start for another half hour. That time really seemd to drag as well, even though he was watching the start of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the other channel (BBC1 had scheduled a really crap dancing program with Graham Norton on it befire Dr Who).

The epsiode itself was pretty good. Arthur particularly liked David Tennat as the new Doctor (he is a bit less goofy than Christopher Eccleston). The cat people were good and there were hints at a bigger plotline. It also featured a very unsubtle anti vivisection message and best of all, disease ridden zombies. They had also clearly used a old abandoned factory for filming and, somwhat comedically, kept using the same staircase with telephone at the top of it, only from different angles or with the image reversed to try and make it look different each time.

The only downsides were the slightly cheesy body swap plotline (fun at first but the joke soon wears thin unless you are uder the age of 7) and some cheap special effects showing people cathcing a hideous disease (every one who caught it mysteriously stopped moving whilst it spread to them, manily so that it was easier for the special effects guys to track the CGI effects onto the actor/actress. Cheap. Very cheap.)

After Dr Who Arthur went out for the night to a friends for Pizza and gaming (he played the board game Fury of Dracula) and when he got home at 2 in the morning sat down to watch Dr Who confidential which he`d taped earlier (it was on straight after Dr Who on BBC3 but Arthur had to go out so he couldn`t watch it "live"). The program covered the making of the first epsiode and some of the Christmas special. The very end also featured a montage of many, many clips from upcoming epsiodes all of which look fantastic. Cybermen, evil Victorian robots, werewolves, K9 and Sarah Jane! Arthur is getting moist with excitement again...

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Easter Egg

 Thursday 13 Apr 2006, 8:26 PM

Arthur had a visit from a friend and his children this afternood. They very kindly bought him an Easter Egg. What`s more it was a good Easter Egg as the chocolate treat, in this case mini Smarties, were actually inside the egg (it was also a Disney Chicken Little themed egg and contained a dayglo orange keyring of a goldfish in a diving helmet). Even better, the mini Smarties were actually loose inside the egg, not in their own little plastic packet, so when Arthur bit the top off the egg he could then use it as a sort of cup and just pour the mini Smarties staright into his mouth. Once they were all gone Arthur could then finish eating the egg. Fantastic.

Arhtur does have a terrible admission to make though. After his friend left, instead of waiting for Easter Sunday, the egg and its contents were gone within the next hour and 20 minutes as he polished it off whilst watching Nehighbours and the new episode of Lost that he`d just downloaded.

Arthur also learned another valuable lesson that day; Japanese Everyburger cholcolates contain a lot of sugar and colourings and should therefore not be given to small children as they and send them into hyperactive sugar-rush mode.

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Things to get excited about

 Tuesday 11 Apr 2006, 6:00 PM

In another slow news day, here is Arthur`s current list of things to get excited about.

This weekend is Easter which means chocolate eggs (as long as the chocolate treat is inside the egg, otherwsie Arthur will go into a frenzied rage).

This weekend also sees the start of the second series of the new Dr Who. Arthur is moist with excitement and will be unplugging the phone come 7:15 on Saturday night. And if his cable TV breaks down, Arthur will burn down all the offices and every home of everyone who works, or has ever worked, for Ntl.

It will soon be time for the annual London sci-fi film festival. In some respects this years lineup is a bit disappointing compared to usual (The individual film selection seems rather poor) but Arthur will still be going to the all night Japanese animation which looks to be the one redeeming highlight of the festival, including films such as Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Visit www.sci-fi-london.com for more details.

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An unexciting weekend...

 Monday 10 Apr 2006, 8:34 AM

Easter is alomst here, spring is in the air and Arthur`s life continues to plod along with not a lot happening. He spent the weekend playing Day of Deafeat: Source, an online World War II first person shooter. Going by his online name of "King Goose" Arthur is getting fairly good and regulary finishes near the top of the scoring table although he can never reach the ridiculously high kill counts of some players.

Arthur also watched a load of DVDs, tidied up and looked out at his garden thinking "bugger... that looks a mess... I might have to do some work soon before it becomes overgrown with weeds".

Finally, Arthur is reading The Dark Materails trilogy of books. They are very enjoyable (although the third book doesn`t seem to be going anywhere at the start) and are a good excuse to go to bed early for an extended reading session. Definitely recommended if you haven`t already read them.

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