News and comments from Arthur

Harry Potter Rant with spoliers

 Sunday 22 Jul 2007, 5:15 AM

OK. Having slept on it, Arthur has decided there were some parts of the new Harry Potter book that left him feeling a bit cheated/disappointed and he just cannot wait to let it all out. So here goes, complete with spoilers.

Arthurs biggest complaint is the death of Lupin, which was handled with one throw away line and then another casual mention a bit later on int he same chapter. And that was it. Lupin was, for all intents and purposes, Harry`s second Godfather and a major part in his life (just watch the new OotP film to see Harry doing his Lupin thing teaching Defence against the Darks Arts and you;ll see how alike they are) yet the book gave no weight to his death at all. No emotion, no funeral, no grieveing. Nothing. In that respect, Dobby the House elf got a far better deal! And this ties in with Arthur`s second complaint that it all ended far to abruptly.

Although some people didn`t like it, the final Lord of the Rings film with it`s many, many endings worked just fine for Arthur. We had followed the characetrs through an amazing story and tying up the lose ends and fulfilling the character stories was a major part of that even once the main narative was over. And Arthur expected the same sort of thing from the Harry Potter books. But it didn`t happen. Once the main action was over there were 2 or 3 pages of "comedown" and then it was straight into the 6 page epilogue. And again, that was it.

For Athur the important, some of the character type stuff in the book was far too rushed, just to make way for more action. And this was totally wrong. The reintrodcutioon of Percy was another example of this - out of the blue he just turns up, says he was an idiot and that`s it - everyone forgives him and then on with the action!

Arthur really hopes that when they make the film they make an effort to redress the balance. Usually with the books it has happened the other way though, sacrificing character and story in favour of action, Goblet of Fire being the best (or worst) exmaple of this. Still, Arthur can hope.

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Harry Potter - The end

 Saturday 21 Jul 2007, 10:30 PM Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Well, after a marathon 13 hour reading session (actually less than that after you take into account food and toilet breaks along with a power nap about halfway through!) it`s all over; Arthur has finished the last Harry Potter book. At the moment he feels rather sick. Not because of the book but becasue of the vast amount of reading nibbles he has consumed whilst reading it: many bags of crisps, chocolate chip muffins, Dolly Mixtures, bisuits etc.

As for the book itself, Arthur enjoyed it although it dragged a bit in the middle and it was left to one chapter to explain pretty much everything but othwerwise it was a suitable ending, if somewhat predictable.

And when they make the film, Arthur thinks it`s going to be very expensive! There was plenty of action in it right from the start and the end is suitably spectacular and epic although it doesn`t take too much imagination to work out exaclty what some of these scenes are.

And, as with all the books as they have gone along, this is darker still with plenty of death, mutilation and minor swearing (there were several "arses", a "bastard" or two and at least one scream of "Bitch!").

And Arthur is going to leave it at that, spolier free, until a few more people have read the book, then he can feel free to comment all he wants!

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Harry Potter Frenzy

 Thursday 19 Jul 2007, 10:28 PM

The past week (and next few days) are pretty much the peak of the Harry Potter frenzy. Last week saw the release of the fifth film and it`s only 2 days until the last book. If you don`t like the books or films then right now you;ll be hard pushed to find anywhere on the planet you can go to get away from it all (at least nowhere you won`t be kidnapped, murderd or eaten alive by the local wildlife/cannibals).

Arthur does not fall into this category however and is positively enjoying it all. The fifth film (Order of the Phoenix) which he saw last Saturday was excellent and Arthur will definitely go and see it again. Maybe it wasn`t quite as good Prisoner of Azkaban but it came pretty close. Being the longest of all the books they had to cut a lot out and Arthur was disappoinetd with some bits that were left out (in particular St. Mungos hospital) but he could understand why they had to be sacrificed in order to keep the film under 4 hours long. Also Arthur can appreciate that sometimes what works well as a book and what works well as a film aren`t necessarily the same and that changing things to suit the cinema is actually of benefit. This is why both Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoneix made good films; they didn`t follow the book too slavishly unlike the others (in particualr the first 2 films).

And at the time of writing it is now less than 2 days until the last book is released. Spoliers have already been appearing on the internet, in newspapers etc. so Arthur is trying to avoid all this until Saturday morning when he will rush down to Morrisons to grab a copy of the book along with a good selection of snack foods before sitting down to read the whole thing in one long session (he has a Christening to go to on the Sunday so really only has one day of reading before thew whole world knows the plot). Indeed Arthur has already begun to prepare with the purchase of easy to consume food like several litres of top quality freshly squeezed orange juce, some tortilla chips and a bag of Dolly Mixtures. Hmmmm.... nutritious reading snacks......

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The Emperors New Sound System?

 Tuesday 10 Jul 2007, 10:59 AM

Yesterday after went to London for a bit of shopping and, more specifically, to see Die hard 4 (he refuses to call it Die Hard 4.0 as that just sounds crap) at the Empire Leicetser Square.

Many years ago the Empire used to be the best cinema in the country with a really nice THX sound system. Arthur saw several films there over the years including The Adams Familly and Back to the Future 2. All sounded great thanks to the THX goodness. Plus it was a really nice cinema with a cool laser show before the film.

Moving forward a few years and UCi followed by Odeon took it over and, being thick cunts, decided to remove the THX sound system. Thinking they could run it like any other multiplex, the cinema soon went downhill and lost its status as one of Londons top cinemas for film premieres.

Moving on a few years again and Empire cinemas, a new chain that sprung up from the ashes of cinemas abandoned by the various major exhibitors, mainly due to the Monopolies and Mergers comission saying they had too many cinemas in an area, the Empire Lecister square became the flagship of the Empire cinemas brand. And as the flagship, Empire decided to reinstate the THX sound system installing a shiny new system that was supposedly better than the original. Proudly boasting 56KW of sound and vaious other statistics it was indeed a cinema to be reckoned with. And Arthuir most defionitely fancied a bit iof it and what better film to see thre than Die Hard 4. And it was made even better becasue it would be in Digital projection!

Unfortunately the whole thing was a major disappopintment. Firstly, there was no digital projection (upon quzzing the manager later he learned it had recently broken down and they had to use a standard 35mm print. Shame they couldn`t have mentioned this to their customers - yet another example of bad service). But even more disappointing was that the THX sound wasn`t very good. Sure it was loud and rumbled lots, so the action scenes sounded fine, but thre was so much echo in the huge auditorium you could barley make out the dialogue. Despite quoting all the wonderful statistics on how great the sound system was, had nobody actually sat and listed to it to hear how poor it was? Most definitely a case of "the Emperors new clothes". Arthur much prefered the sound of his local (former THX) cinema.

A bit of hunting around and reading on the interent revealed that the bad echo was the fault of UCI/Odeon who, upon refurbuighing the cinema, gave all the acoustic tiles that lined the walls of the entire cinema, a lick of paint. And whilst the new paint made it look nice, it also robbed the tiles of any acoustic properties they had, thus introducing the terrible echo. Arthur was pallning on going there again to see Transformers in a few weeks time but just won`t bother now as it`s not worth the effort. In fact he doubts he`ll be going back again at all. Anotyher supposedly decent cinema ruined - is thre anyhwre good left in the UK? The only awesome palce that Arthur currently knows of that`s worth a special trip is the IMAX in London near Waterllo station on the South Bank; a massive screen and sounds totally amazing . And all that with only 11KW of sound. Empire cinemas take note; numbers mean nothing - just use your ears.

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Cat vs Mouse

 Sunday 8 Jul 2007, 6:07 AM

Arthur was about to go to bed last night when he saw his security light come on at the back of his house. Peering oput the back window expecting just to see the plants blowing about in the breeze had set it off he was surprised to see a big black cat that he`d never seen before in the middle of his lawn. Even more surprising was that the cat was locked in combat with a cute little mouse!

The cat managed to get the mouse in its mouth on several occasions but the mouse managed to escape each time. However instead of running off, the little mouse just stood its ground and when thr cat went for it again, it reared up on its back legs and batted the cat away with its cute little front legs! The cat was most definitely being owned and Arthur was torn betweebn watching this hysterical spectacle and running off to grab a camera. Arthur eventually cracked and grabbed his mobile phone (the only camera he could find at a moments notice). Just as the got everyhting framed up the security light went out. Pissflaps. By the time Arthur had opended tha back door a triggered the light again bith were gone and there were ni signs of the battle. Still, Arthur went to sleep wlaughing to himslef as he remembered the look of bewilderment on the cats face as the little mosue beat the crap out of it!

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Shit customer service

 Saturday 7 Jul 2007, 5:52 AM

Yesterday must have been shit customer service day as every shop of service provider Arthur came into contact with could muster little or no common sense.

First was Asda who where the stff were quite happy to let the Chavs barge their way to the front of the queue, despite protest from other customers. Then came Virgin media who had managed to up Arthur`s bill by £10 again this month. On phoning them they said they had been removing all "non-standard" discounts applied to accounts. Just a shame they hadn`t bothered to tell anyone. They also seemed to think it was OK to be paying more for a service having downgraded it. Fuckwits.

Then came Arthur`s credit card company who decided to change his card/account number which, whilst it isn`t apocalypticm is a real pain in the arse as Arthur has the number stored at mnay online stores plus he can remeber it off by heart thus negating the need to physically have the card to make purchases online.

Finally came Argos who, after keeping Arthur waiting because there were no staff serving, told Arthur he couldn`t use a trolley becasue it was against health and safety regulsations (errr... Tesco, Sainsburys and 1000`s of other supermarkets up and down the country seem to cope OK). They then had the cheek to offer to help Arthur carry his purchase but only if he waited until more staff were available as they couldn`t possibly leave the counter unattended, despite the fact that less than 5 minutes earlier the shop had been deserted with customers having to shout across the counter to get someone out to serve them. Arthur stormed out on the first of several trips dragging a couple of his items (some wodden lawn edging) behind him breaking one in the process. He took it back and the woman calmly pointed out that Arthur could have broken it when leaving the shop. Arthur angrily pointed out that it wouldn`t have happened had he had a trolley, at which point she quickly scuttled off to get a replacement. Very sensible.

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The green, green grass...

 Sunday 1 Jul 2007, 11:18 PM

After the apocalypse that befel Arthurs lawn a few weeks ago (also known as "The Lawnraker", Arthur is pretty pleased with how things have turned out thanks to a good dose of grass seed and plenty of rain (and boy has there been lots of rain).

The seed has come on in leaps and bounds and the reast of the grass has come back to life too. Arthur even went out and bought a new lawnmower, to do a good job of cutting it.

This time, instead of a cheap hover mower which would just leave all the clippings behind (which Arthur suspects is what caused the lawn to get into such a poor state in the first place) he got a rotary one which collects all the bits as it goes. And it does a really nice job too. Arthur is leaving the grass a bit long at the moment to encourage it to grow (there are still a few bare bits that need filling in) put it actually looks like a real, green lawn again.

It`s not all good news though. Arthur only originally seeded the back lawn and the front was left until he had seen how weel it went at the back. Arthur then put down some seed at the front but it doesn`t seem to be growing as well - maybe there is too much rain and it is washing all the seed away! Hopefully it is still just early days and the grass will grow a bit quicker any day now. Arthur certainly hopes it hurries up as the rest of his front lawn is beginning to look like a jungle it`s getting so long!

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