Archive for February, 2012

I remember reading about Tunguska in school.  It’s a remote region in the Siberian wilderness of Russia that had suffered the effects of an asteroid or comet passing close by the Earth at 7:17am on June 30th 1908.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by an air burst of a large asteroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 mi) above the Earth’s surface. Different studies have yielded varying estimates of the object’s size, with general agreement that it was a few tens of metres across.

Interestingly and perhaps worryingly, the explosion was shown to be 1000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  An estimated 80 million trees (80 million!!!!!) were knocked over as a result of this disaster.

However, was it really a comet or asteroid?

Back in 2004, during a quiet day in my old job I was playing a game of virtual pool (during my break) and listening to “Don’t touch that dial” by “The Wedding Present” when I decided to flick onto BBC news.  The main article on the main page had the following headline:

“Scientists and archaeologists find alien craft remains in Tunguska”

I would like to stress that this was not April 1st.

So, rather intrigued, I clicked on the story and read more.  It had some basic details about the scientists stumbling across fragments of an ancient alien spacecraft and that early indications suggested it definitely wasn’t of Earth Origin.  This was a preliminary story and after just one paragraph it said “More to follow…”

That was in 2004.  It is now 2012 and 8 years later nothing ever followed that story.  No retraction, no “Yeah it was Aliens”, no “Actually no, it wasn’t Aliens”. Nothing.  This was the BBC, not some random nutcase or random blog, but the BBC.

I don’t know about all of you, but I find this just a little bit odd.

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Top five video games:

(1) Zelda: Occarina of time
(2) Civilization
(3) Super Mario Bros 3
(4) Fade to Black
(5) Goldeneye (N64)

Top five musical instruments:

(1) Guitar
(2) Piano
(3) Theramin
(4) Bongos
(5) Trumpet

Top five quotes from a TV show:

(1) “Because that’s what you do in a town where a yellow light still means slow down, not speed up.” – Twin Peaks
(2) “Fifty-four degrees on a slightly overcast day. Weatherman said rain. If you could get paid that kind of money for being wrong sixty percent of the time, it’d beat working.” – Twin Peaks
(3) “Some people go miniature golfing with their parents. We go to India to look for nukes.” – Alias
(4) “In a few minutes when I gloat over the failure of this enterprise, how would you prefer I do it? The standard “I told you so” with the classic neener-neener, or my usual look of haughty derision?” – The Big Bang Theory
(5) “We’re in active code Chloe, we don’t have time for your personality disorder”  – 24

Top five names for a zebra:

(1) Corpelicus
(2) Zenon
(3) Xexon
(4) Blytrixitor
(5) Dave

Top five golf shots:

(1) Hole in one on a par 4 – Alex, in 1999  at “Bernie’s course” in Arran
(2) Eagle from the sand – Alex, in 1999 at “Bernie’s course” in Arran
(3) Hole in one on a par 5 (with a 80 mile an hour wind behind the shot) – Alex, in 1999 at “Bernie’s course” in Arran
(4) 95 foot put for birdie on the 17th – Alex, in 1999 at “Bernie’s course” in Arran
(5) Hole in one at par 3 – Alex, in 1999 at “Bernie’s course” in Arran
I shot a 56 that day.

Top five ways of acheiving instellar flight:

(1) Solar Sails
(2) Wormhole technology
(3) ‘Jump’ technology
(4) A really big slingshot
(5) Magic

Top five fictional characters:

(1) Santa Claus
(2) Mrs Claus
(3) All the flying reindeer
(4) Kermit the frog
(5) Wolverine

Top five country flags (in sheldon’s honour):

(1) Iceland
(2) Australia
(3) Brazil
(4) Scotland
(5) Norway

Top five songs of Scottish origin:

(1) Superstar – Superstar
(2) Dukes – The Musicians of Bremen
(3) Love song for a vampire – Anniex Lennox
(4) Dignity – Deacon Blue
(5) An eagle in your mind – Boards of Canada

Top five books that aren’t quite as amazing as they’re purported to be:

(1) On the road
(2) War and Peace
(3) Wuthering Heights
(4) Neuromancer
(5) The Tommy Knockers

I went to see this film in the cinema without knowing anything about it.  I had a vague notion that Charlize Theron was in it but that was the extent of my knowledge.  Anyway, it was 10:00 (on my day off) and it was either this or “Jack N Jill” starring Adam Sandler.  Needless to say I’m fairly happy with what I chose.

Theron plays the main character in the movie, Mavis Gray, a divorced 37-year-old writer, well a ghost writer actually, of a series of Young Adult novels. Another pertinent bit of info is that she likes a bevy.  So much so that she makes Jimmy McNulty from “The Wire” look like a T-Totaller.

Anyway, the book series she’s been (ghost) writing for has run its course, and she’s under a bit of pressure to finish the last one.  Funnily enough her excessive boozing isn’t helping her writer’s block, and it is during a bit of session that she gets an e-mail from her ex with a picture of his newborn daughter, and pictures of her ex (Buddy Slade – played by the excellent Patrick Wilson) and her ex’s wife (Beth Slade – Played by Elizabeth Reaser).  It’s clear from very early in the film that Mavis is desperately lonely and possibly very depressed, and receiving this e-mail doesn’t help her particularly.  On a whim, she decided to head back to her home town (Mercury in Minnesota) on a pretence of selling property she owns there.

This begins a really excellent part of the movie in which the film is punctuated exactly like the chapters of a book.  During these asides, in which Mavis is writing another chapter, what we are really seeing is an insight into her mental state and psyche at that moment in the film.  Sometimes she’s really smug and bitchy (like someone in high school might be), sometimes self-centered, sometimes lonely and (towards the end of the film), sometimes very poignant, regretful and insightful.

En route to Mercury, we’re introduced to another important character, which isn’t actually a person but rather a song.  In what is one of the genuinely more funny moments (whilst simultaneously tragic) she listens non stop, in play.repeat.play.repeat mode to “The Concept” by “Teenage Fanclub”.  It turns out this was off of a mix tape that Buddy gave her when they were dating back in high school.

She arrives back in town and calls up Buddy to meet him, which they arrange for the following night.  At a loss for anything to do that evening, Mavis dives back into her old watering hole, a dive of a bar called “Woody’s” where she bumps into a former classmate she barely remembers, Matt Freehauf (Played in what should be an oscar winner performance by Patton Oswalt).

She reconnects with Matt, a man who became disabled after being beaten by jocks who erroneously assumed he was gay. It is here that Mavis reveals her plan for returning to town is to split up Buddy and Beth’s marriage so that she can again be with her ex.  Matt duly informs her that this is insane.

The following day, Mavis meets Buddy at the sports bar, where they run into Matt, the bar’s bookkeeper, who teases Mavis about her plans.  They share a few drinks but it’s clear that Buddy has moved on with his life and has matured into dad and a general family man, whilst Mavis is still very much living in the past.  However, they share a few laughs and despite Mavis’ unbelievable flirt come on’s to him, he decides to invite her to a gig that his wife is playing in.  She agrees, and again as she has nothing to do that night, she again gets loaded with Matt, this time back at his house.

The following night she goes to the concert and the very first song the band play is Teenage Fanclubs “The Concept”.  Mavis considers leaving, but instead decides to increase her flirting 10 fold.  In one particularly revealing line she reminisces about having sex with Matt during this song back in the 90’s.  Matt becomes uncomfortable and moves away, but at the end of the night a drunken buddy needs a lift home and Mavis steps in.  Back at his house, they share a kiss on the lawn.  Mavis takes this as sign that Buddy really loves her but in reality Buddy was just a bit pished.

Amazingly, Buddy decides to invite Mavis to one more family event, his baby’s naming ceremony.  Mavis goes out there with the sole intention of breaking up his marriage (during this ceremony!), and despite Matt’s insistence that she has lost it (resulting in a huge argument between the pair) she goes anyway.  Buddy rejects her completely of course.  Mavis goes to leave, but accidentally runs into Beth who spills win on Mavis’ dress.

Mavis brutally insults her, and tearfully reveals that she got pregnant with Buddy’s baby years ago, but had a miscarriage after three months.  It really is a tragic scene, especially as her parents are there and don’t seem to comfort her in any way despite this revelation. You also realise that all of her mental issues stemmed from this one point.

Her difficultly in making friends, her immaturity, her depression, all trace back to that one event.

On her way out-of-town, she is able to write the last chapter of the book, in which the main character, much like Mavis, realizes the true meaning of being an adult, and both prepare to start their lives anew.

It was a wonderful movie.  It reminded me in many ways of “Lost in Translation” and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  But with this warning, this is not a comedy and you have to be prepared to be completely depressed when you leave the cinema.  The more I’ve thought about this film the more I’ve realised what a classic it is.

I would easily give it 9 out 10 and it has made my top 25 films of all time (no easy feat).