21August-10September2011 :: These (Running) Weeks
Seem to have successfully returned to regular running, with at least three hits a week for the last three weeks; it took getting through those first few runs to really get into the zone and remember how good the run can be. These weeks were Pnau, Can We Talk About This?, Discover Dvořák, Uniko, DC: The New Frontier, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, From Paris With Love, Wonder Woman: The Circle, Game of Thrones, The Fat Years, and Cowboys & Aliens.
- Been listening to Pnau's self-titled (iTunes/amazon); very poppy dance, but good fun now and again.
- Watched DV8's Can We Talk About This?, part of the Opera House's Spring Dance; as a production, it's a cool piece of theatre, with dance and multi-media and a mix of interesting characters; but it's a rather discomforting experience, skirting the line between politically incorrect and outright racist, and falling over it too many times; in a sense, the piece is trying to ask, Can we talk about the problems with Islam without being accused of racism, but therein lie the problems — it too often generalises to problems "with Islam", rather than with Islamism as a political movement, or with particular people, or with the radicalisation of Islam; further, it's afraid of being accused of racism, in a weird privileged I'm-not-racist-but sense, despite its self-proclaimed liberal stance; it does come up with a few interesting points, and it's clear that we shouldn't use political correctness as an excuse not to engage with the radicalisation of Islam, but it gets the context all wrong.
- Watched the Sydney Symphony's 'Sinfonia' in Discover Dvořák ; the Dvořák was preluded with a Copland, which I especially loved, and will look for more of; the Dvořák had some beautiful sounds, but the piece didn't really grab me.
- Been listening to Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen, and Kronos Quartet's Uniko (iTunes/amazon); was first attracted to Kronos Quartet thanks to The Fountain's great soundtrack, and am not disappointed; this album's superb — contemporary classical, mostly live strings, with some live electronic music dropped in for good measure, with a touch of "world" music that keeps the sound interesting; will definitely be hunting for more "new music".
- Finished reading DC: The New Frontier (comiXology); tries to tell much of the history of DC's greatest heroes in one short series; great retro art, and a reasonable story, but it drags a little trying to just cover plot points that don't really add to the central story; it was, curiously, probably the best take on Green Lantern I've read, perhaps just because it didn't get into the whole weird space-cop story (and even played off on that), which is what puts me off the movie.
- Watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes (imdb); was a reasonably entertaining movie, in-so-much as the plot kept moving along; Caesar was an excellent character, his own story and Andy Serkis' performance both outshining all the other characters, but he suffered from the (ridiculously common) CG problem of scale, growing from a child to a large ape and then randomly regressing depending on the scene he was in, making it very hard to take seriously (even Avatar, for all its money, had a similar problem, with the size and proportions of the Na'vi changing randomly; I think the three Lord of the Rings films are probably the only films that have done proportion well, and I suspect that's strongly tied to the fact that much of the work was in physical rather than digital effects); the plot itself was pretty ridiculous though, with a couple of decent core stories (Caesar's and James Franco's) worn down by compression (I couldn't believe there were so many apes in the Bay Area!) and a need to explain a whole bunch of things away for the stories that come next.
- Re-watched From Paris With Love (imdb); completely ridiculous, and all the better for it — Rhys Meyers and Travolta play off each other delightfully.
- Read the Wonder Woman The Circle arc (comiXology TP/digital); Gail Simone delivers (as usual) an interesting story, with great characterisation, and it features some solid art; though the DC New 52 Wonder Woman is no longer penned by Simone, this arc certainly piqued my interest in the character enough that I may pick up the new series.
- Finished reading A Game of Thrones (amazon); as I'd noted before, it really does offer up an incredibly nuanced study of power, but a couple of elements leave me cold: Martin's depiction of non-whites is painful, but I'm hoping the subtlety demonstrated in his depiction of the various white races in the mountains and beyond the Wall can be brought to bear as the scope of the story develops; similarly the concerns of his women are largely superficial, but Arya shows great promise; Alyssa Rosenberg, who's been writing some great cultural criticism over at Think Progress, has an interesting essay defending the series that has me willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt and pick up the next in the series as soon as I feel like sinking my teeth into another epic.
- Read The Fat Years (amazon); fairly average writing, and it's really just a delivery mechanism for a collection of essays about China; it delivers a certain pleasure as a prequel to Brave New World, but as a story about China itself, it's pretty dumb; it is interesting to get some detail on the criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party regime, but they seem a bit simple and trite.
- Watched Cowboys & Aliens (imdb); I went in with fairly low expectations, various people having reported feeling let down by the film after the promise of the title, but I ended up really enjoying it; it runs both as a decent cowboy movie and a decent alien movie, with a good range of classic characters from both genres, and good actors all round; its classic characters mean it's pretty predictable, but there are enough good twists on the conventions to keep it interesting.
- An interesting article went through Instapaper: over at POSZU, Adam Rothstein compiles some of his observations in the wake of the London Riots; choice quote from his Riot Notes:
It is in the interest of the upper classes that riots occur, so that stronger police forces can be built, so that racial tension explode, and so that the lower classes rise up and fight each other, and burn down their own neighborhoods. Look for new police budgets, new racial organizations, new gentrification after these riots.
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- 21August-10September2011 :: These (Running) Weeks (17Sep2011)
- 7-20August2011 :: These (Winter, Returned) Weeks (21Aug2011)
- 24July-6August2011 :: These (Early Spring) Weeks (13Aug2011)
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