Christmas Quiz 2012

Every year I write a Christmas Quiz partially for my own entertainment and partially to give those who’re in the office over the Christmas break something to do when it gets quiet.  This year I thought for the fun of it I’ll pop the questions online (and the answers but they’ll come later) so that whoever can have a go should they wish.

There is normally some form of prize for the person who does best (though Googling or use of any other internet search engine is considering cheating) so if you want to put youself into the running, or see how many you got right before the answers go up then drop me an email – alexsmarathon@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.
Answers are currently planned for release on January 1st 2013 – so you’ve got a bit of time.

Christmas Quiz 2012

Each round features 7 questions each within a different category.  All of the questions are linked (sometimes tenuously) to an event that happened in the relevant month of this year.

January

1 – News – In January two sacks were accidentally delivered to the United Nations HQ in New York city.  Did they contain a) cocaine, b) flour, or c) grain?

2 – Film – In 2012 Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes filed for divorce.  But for how many years were they married? (+/- half a year)

3 – Music – Which American Soul Singer died in February 2012 having accidentally drowned themselves?

4 – TV – In January, BBC2’s Stargazing Live led to two amateur astronomers discovering a new what? Comet, Moon, or Planet? (Bonus Point: For the name of the object)

5 – Sport – Novak Djokovic defeated who to win the Australian Open in January this year?

6 – True or False? – True or False – You’d find the world’s highest swimming pool in the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

7 – General Knowledge – What is Deoxyribonucleic acid more commonly known as?

February

1 – News – In February 2012 which internet company announced their plans to float on the stock market?

2 – Film – The film adaption of Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black was produced by which classic British studio?

3 – Music – Who won the Brit award for Best British Female Solo Artist? (Bonus Point: Who won the Brit for Best British Male Solo Artist)

4 – TV – In February 2012 ITV screened the first ever advert aimed at a) Babies, b) Cats, or c) Dogs

5 – Sport – Which national team won 2012’s 6 Nations?

6 – True or False – True or False – The Artist was the first silent film to win the Oscar for Best Feature award since 1925.

7 – General Knowledge – This year Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 60th year since her ascension to the throne, but when was she actually coroneted?

March

1 – News – In March 2012 who announced their retirement from the position as the AB of C?

2 – Film – Disney reported a $160 million loss at the end of March but on which film did they blame this?

3 – Music – For how many weeks was Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” at number 1 in the UK Charts? (+/- 2 for half a point)

4 – TV – Harry Hill stepped down from presenting Harry Hills TV Burp this March, but how for how many years did the show run? (+/- 5 for half a point)

5 – Sport – Which team was Fabrice Muamba playing for when he collapsed in the middle of the pitch with a heart attack?

6 – True or False – True or False – A 2012 study discovered a relationship between snoring as a toddler and behaviour problems later in childhood.

7 – General Knowledge – The Encyclopaedia Britannica discontinued its print edition this month after having been published for how many years? (+/- 10)

April

1 – News – Why was Trenton Oldfield arrested and jailed for 6 months?

2 – Film – For the first time in this history of the Golden Raspberries one film won all the categories it was nominated in – the film was “Jack & Jill but how many did it win? (+/- 5)

3 – Music – Which April number 1 song outsold Justin Bieber’s new single “Boyfriend” at the rate of 2-1? (Half point for artist, full point for song name)

4 – TV – In April 2012 Sky News admitted to two counts of which crime?

5 – Sport – How old was the oldest runner in the London Marathon? (+/- 5 years)

6 – True or False – True or False – In April 2012 Dylan Moran became the first ever English speaking comedian to perform in Russia.

7 – General Knowledge – The photo sharing application Instagram was bought by whom for $1 Billion?

May

1 – News – Barack Obama made a surprise visit where on the 1 year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death?

2 – Film – (At the time of writing) Which comic book based film was the highest grossing film of 2012?

3 – Music – Which pop star died in May aged 62 following liver and kidney failure?

4 – TV – Eugene Polley died this month – but what did he invent?

5 – Sport – Which Sporting icon landed in Cornwall on 19th May before continuing a longer journey?

6 – True or False – True or False – A visit by Prince Charles to the BBC Scotland Studios saw him presenting the weather

7 – General Knowledge – This May saw the 100th anniversary of which maritime disaster?

June

1 – News – Sadly in June 2012, Lonesome George died.  But who was he?

2 – Film – Which Sci-Fi epic released in June 2012 was originally titled “Paradise”?

3 – Music – How many singers and musicians appear on the Official Jubilee single “Sing”? (+/- 50)

4 – TV – How many complaints did the BBC receive regarding their coverage of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant? (+/- 500)

5 – Sport – Which Tour De France bike rider became known as “Le Gentleman” after stopping other riders to allow for repairs to bikes damaged in an act of sabotage?

6 – True or False – True or False – Prince Harry performs on the Official Jubilee single “Sing” playing the Triangle.

7 – General Knowledge – Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in June 2012 but who is the only other British Monarch to have reached this landmark?

July

1 – News – For the first time ever what condition was met by all the teams entering the Summer Olympics?

2 – Film – The stuntman playing the part of the Queen for the parachute jump in the Olympic opening ceremony was called Gary… a) Bond, b) Connery, c) Moore?

3 – Music – What was the name of the Official anthem of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games?

4 – TV – What appeared in Watford for a special episode of Eastenders?

5 – Sport – Kirani James won a Gold Medal in the 400 Metre sprint winning his countries 1st Olympic Gold Medal.  Which country was he running for? a) Bahamas b) Grenada c) Qatar or d) Tunisia

6 – True or False – True or False: When filming the part of the Olympic opening ceremony featuring the Queen’s Corgi’s they tried to use the Queens actual dogs but these were too badly behaved so the production team had to bring in a team of specially trained “Stunt Corgi’s”.

7 – General Knowledge – How many nations participated in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games? (+/- 10)

August

1 – News – The Mars Rover Curiosity’s landing site was named after which famous author who died in June 2012?

2 – Film – Which fruity character is Leigh Francis better known as?

3 – Music – Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk” appeared as a Number 1 Album in August, but made history for having the lowest weekly album sales for a number 1 album since the charts started to be recorded in 1994, but just how many copies did it sell (+/- 5000)

4 – TV – Which Saturday evening entertainment series returned for its 9th series in August 2012?

5 – Sport – Due to the different classifications, how many Gold Medals were awarded for swimming within the 2012 Summer Paralympics? (+/- 25)

6 – True or False – True or False – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to use part of a pen to repair a broken control and take off from the moon after the first lunar landing.

7 – General Knowledge – What was the first food eaten on the moon?

September

1 – News – What was unique about the McDonalds Restaurant opened in Amritsar, Northern India this month?

2 – Film – Michael Clarke Duncan was known for his trademark bulk and deep voice, but how tall was he? (+/- 0.5m or +/- half a foot)

3 – Music – What style did PSY make popular in September 2012?

4 – TV – Which role did George Entwhistle take over on 17th September 2012?

5 – Sport – In the Paralympics China came top of the medals table with 231 medals.  How many of these were Gold? (+/- 10)

6 – True or False – A 2012 Ignoble Prize (a prize for scientific research that makes people laugh and think) was awarded for research into how learning to the right makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller?

7 – General Knowledge – The smiley face 🙂 turned how old on 19th September this year? (+/- 10)

October

1 – News – A blind man was shot by a police Taser after his white cane was mistaken for a what?

2 – Film – Which anniversary did the Bond franchise celebrate this year?

3 – Music – Adele’s Bond Theme Skyfall was released in October charting at number 2.  Which of the 80s Bond theme songs is the only one of the franchise to have reached a number 1 spot in the charts? (Note – these were the American Charts as no James Bond Theme song has reached number 1 in the UK)

4 – TV – BBC Ceefax was closed down in October after running for how many years? (+/- 5)

5 – Sport – Felix Baumgartner hit the headlines for doing what?

6 – True or False – True or False – US Comedian Mark Malkoff lived in an Ikea store for 3 days.

7 – General Knowledge – In October 2012 Bees in France started producing blue honey after eating the sugary waste from the production of which chocolate treat?

November

1 – News – Who was accused of making prank calls in the days building up to American Presidential election?

2 – Film – Which film released November 2012 concludes the Teen Fantasy series which begun in 2009?

3 – Music – It has been revealed that the music of which alliteratively named singer has been used by a Gloucester based airport to scare birds off the runways?

4 – TV – Which actor famous for the playing a butcher with the catchphrase “They don’t like it up ’em” died in November 2012? (half point for character name)

5 – Sport – In November a collision between a white Astra and who had campaigners calling for a change to road law?

6 – True or False – True or False – There is a US Television Political Analyst called Krystal Ball.

7 – General Knowledge – Who is the only US President to have served two non-consecutive terms in office?

December

1 – News – Who apparently predicted the end of the world on December 21st?

2 – Film – Which 00’s Christmas film was reviewed as “the most grotesque and sick manipulation of a cinema audience’s feelings that I’ve ever seen since Leni von Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will“?

3 – Music – Which Christmas tune was originally written to the fit the lyrics “So won’t you buy me a rocking chair to watch the world go by and a looking glass to look you in the eye” – John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is over)“, Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday“, Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody“, or Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree“?

4 – TV – Wallace & Gromit are a British Christmas Institution but in Christmas of which year did they first appear? (+/- 5 years)

5 – Sport – In Drag Racing a series of lamps flash countdown signals to the start of the race.  What are the lamps called?

6 – True or False – True or False – The world record for the largest number of people dressed as Santa or Santa’s Helper was awarded for a total of 12,965 people in 2007.

7 – General Knowledge – In the 17th Century, if you were given a Christmas clap would you be given a) a Christmas Cracker, b) A Christmas Kiss Under the Mistletoe, c) A Christmas Present, or d) A Christmas STD?

2012 Bonus Round (added with the sole purpose of bringing the scores up to 90….)

1 – How many Olympic medals have been awards for the discipline of Town Planning? – 0, 6, 12 or 24?

2 – What do London’s Ghost bikes show? A – Where a bike rider has been killed, B – Where a famous cyclist lived, or C- Where guided ghost tours on Boris bikes start?

3 – The Inca measurement of time was based on how long it took to A- Bake a flat loaf, B- Boil a potato, or C – Cook a corn cob?

4 – Where in England was Bigfoot spotted at the end of November?  A- Bungay in Norfolk, B- Tunbridge Wells in Kent, or C- Wivenhoe in Essex?

Movember

TL:DR at the bottom…

This is a tad late going up.  Read and find out why my face feels like Sandpaper!

You may not have heard of Movember – I only really thought about it properly last year, though as a concept its been around a bit longer.  For those who don’t know then Movember is a global event arranged to get raise awareness of Mens Health issues – especially Testicular and Prostrate cancer by encouraging men to grow moustaches (it cannot connect at the side of the face into side burns, or in the middle to make a beard.  Beyond that anything can go.

It will all kick on the 1st November with everyone being clean shaven – then the growing begins.  There’s going to be weekly updates and we’ve got a whole team from work taking part.

The site for it all is here: http://mobro.co/alexanderjwalters If you can sponser it would be appreciated but please don’t feel any pressure (I know alot of people helped out with the marathon earlier this year).

TL:DR?

Supporting Movember this year – watch here for a range of updates -http://mobro.co/alexanderjwalters

The London Marathon – Race Day Tracking Etc

It seems shocking and surprising but that time has come – in less than a week I’m going to be running the London Marathon…  If you’d fed up with hearing about that then I’d stop reading now as this post is focussed towards the people who are planning on coming up to watch and support through the run in London/want to keep track on what’s going on via the internet.

On The Course

I’m conscious of a few people planning on coming up to London on the big day to come and cheer on and have been trying to get a list of places which are supposed to be good for supporters to come and stand.  The Virgin London Marathon website (http://www.virginlondonmarathon.com/) has an interactive map which suggests a couple of good places for supporters to stand, and some places to avoid that can be seen here: http://www.virginlondonmarathon.com/interactive-map/.

The charity VICTA is going to have a couple of cheering points around the course as well as you can see in the map below – these should have a VICTA gazebo and a group of people wearing  the really stylish VICTA t-shirts and I’m sure they’ll be friendly and happy to see extra people.

My Mum’s colleague Sarah whose husband has run the marathon a couple of times has suggested the following as well (thanks Sarah!)

If you are going to go to the start on Blackheath make sure that you are not on the Green side when the runners go off.  You need to be on the side of Maze Hill Road (have a look on the map near the red start – it’s on the side of Greenwich Park).  If you walk down Maze Hill Road (takes about 10 minutes from memory) this will take you to mile 6 where you can see the runners.

I would then get on  Cutty Sark DHL and go over to Shadwell as you can see the runners at miles 13 and 22 from the same point.

Then it depends what you want to do but get back on at Shadwell either go straight to finish or stop along the embankment somewhere between 23 and 25 miles (Tower Hill -) 24 (Temple) – 24 to 25 or (Embankment) 25.

These are only suggestions and have a look on the interactive map to check these points.

As for people I’m expecting a range of faces Family – I think my parents and Zoe at least are going to up at various parts of the course, Uni people – Tom, Cliff, Dan & Ali should all be around on the day; Work people – I think Ju’s going to be around at some point – if don’t have contact details for any of these but want to meet up please let me know and will try and arrange a handover of contact details.

Tracking

Thanks to the miracles of Apple and modern technology I should hopefully be traceable around the course.  If you have an iPhone (and possibly iPad/iPod Touch) I will be viewable on the “Find My Friends” app – this is free from the App Store though I think you’ll need to add me on this – if you can’t find me for whatever reason drop me a message and will try and find you/get it sorted out.

If you don’t have access to an iPhone, but will have access to a computer then let me know – there’s a website you can use to keep an eye on my progress with an extra set of login details – I’m not going to post these here but if you want to use this method to track get in contact.

In previous years the organisers have provided a tracking service that monitors you as you go through the various gates of the course I’ve not seen any information about this happening this year – but if you can find something my running number is 49285.

At The End

Come the end of the course I want to try and meet up with as many people who’ve made the slog up to London as possible – however I really can’t say what kind of state I’m going to be in.  At the end of the course there’s supposed to be a meeting point at the Horsemans Parade but this looks like the kind of place that will get really busy and as there’s not showers at the course I may choose to run off and have one before seeing folks.  The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the Social Media bits below and keep in contact that way – I’m trying to arrange a spare phone so that I can contact people when it’s all done if my phone battery dies and will be ensuring I have the numbers for the people above written on a piece of paper so that I can make contact somehow!  Sorry to be a bit vague about this all – I wish I knew what it’s going to be like but I’ve never run a marathon before…

Social Media

There’s a couple of people who have very kindly volunteered to update Twitter/Facebook for me as I make my way around the course, every update that goes onto Twitter should also make its way to Facebook feel free to follow/add me – on Twitter I’m SorelJ (http://twitter.com/#!/sorelj) or on Facebook I’m here (https://www.facebook.com/alexanderjwalters).  I can’t tell you how regularly they’ll update and if I’m honest I’ll have my mind on other things, but will ask for them to keep you informed as much as possible should you be interested.

If I’ve forgotten anything/you want to know anything please let me know – I’ll keep this post updated so if I find any further information I’ll pop it up here and let you all know.

Thanks again for all the support that everyone has given for this it is all really really appreciated.  If you haven’t sponsored yet and want too (or want to sponsor some more 😉 then you can do this through the VirginMoneyGiving page found here (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/alexanderjwalters) or by emailing AlexsMarathon@gmail.com so that we can get something sorted.

Thank you again and I promise I’ll stop banging on about this come next weekend 😉

Update:-

Turns out the Marathon does have a tracking site here: you’ll need my name or race number (49285) and I don’t know what information it’ll give as it’s not gone live yet it only starts at 7am on Sunday.

Also if you’re watching on the TV – here’s when/where it’ll be on over the various channels – don’t know if you’ll see me but may crop up in the background looking exhausted!

08:30 – 14:00 BBC1
14:00 – 15:00 Sky red button
17:00 – 18:00 BBC2 highlights

Can You Help With My Marathon Effort?

Hi all,

You may or may not know that I’ve somehow (in a fit of utter madness) managed to sign myself up to running the London Marathon this April… (For those who don’t want the full history there’s a TLDR at the bottom).

I’ve been involved with a charity called VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Take Action) for the past couple of years, and with a bit of gentle persuasion by a couple of friends have agreed to try the sponsored run to try and raise a bit more money the charity.

Founded in 1987, VICTA was set up by parents of blind and partially sighted children who were struggling to meet the needs of their children, as the years past, and with the successful fundraising, the charity became a national service for all families with a visually impaired child.  They now provided enablement tools and arrange outings all over the country and I had the fortune of attending one of their activity weekends last year which was a fantastic experience and really reinforced that though the training runs weren’t fun they were for a really really good cause (they’re still looking for volunteers this year if you’re interested let me know).

So how can you help?  Well the overall point of the exercise is to make money for the charity – and I know that this is something that is tight at the moment but if you have any spare cash that you feel could be put towards an IT Support Engineer pushing themselves way out of their comfort zone please visit the sponsorship page (found here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/alexanderjwalters) and leave some money – every little helps and everything is appreciated and will get you guaranteed a Christmas card this year!

If you don’t want to do an online sponsorship site, I have a printed sponsorship form on my desk in the Service Desk (Cantium Ground Floor North) and Linda on Cantium reception has also kindly agreed to look after a sponsorship form for me.

Thank you to everyone for your support so far – it is really really appreciated and I don’t think I could’ve got this far without it.

For further updates etc you can also follow the Marathon Support group people have setup on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Walters-marathon-support-group/

Thank you again for your generosity.

Alex.

TLDR

Thank you very much for your support so far – if you could help me raise some money for a wonderful charity and sponsor me in this undertaking you can do so online (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/alexanderjwalters) or at the sponsorship forms on my desk or with Linda on Cantium Reception.

For further updates etc you can also follow the Marathon Support group people have setup on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Walters-marathon-support-group/

Thank you again for your generosity.

Alex.

Motivation

As some of you will be aware, next year I am due to the run the London Marathon.  I’m not doing this for the good of my health, I’m doing it in support of the charity VICTA – Visually Impaired Children Take Action – and over the Bank Holiday weekend I went up to Swindon to help Volunteer at the 3rd Annual VICTA Family Weekend allowing me to get a chance to see some of the work that VICTA does first hand.  If I’m honest whilst the weekend was fantastic fun, it was also a real learning experience for me, and just getting to meet some of the kids, see the challenges they go through, and to see how they cope was a real learning experience for me.

I had a chat with some of the VICTA staff, and the whole weekend was heavily subsidised to allow the families to come along, it was great to see these families together, with brothers and sisters looking after their VI siblings and the smiles on everyone’s faces.  In the evenings I met up with some of the over 18’s who’d come along on the weekend – and even got beaten at pool by one of them.  At first I found myself getting really conscious of what I was saying and doing (I know that I can use gestures quite a lot when I speak) but as time passed and I got too know them and to relax more we just had a wonderful time.  One of the guys I spoke to had just moved out and was living by themselves for the first time, we were chatting about what was on TV at the moment and it was just so great to see how being visually impaired wasn’t a barrier for these guys, they just got up and got on with things.

It’s for these young people that I’m raising the money to run the marathon (though it is helping my health too).  The money is for funding weekends like the one I went on, where the families can come together and all have fun.  The money is for providing the equipment that these guys need to help them get through life and that extra confidence – one of the parents told me their daughter was coming back to the same centre with school, having not gone before as they didn’t think they’d be able to join in – to be able to enjoy life just as much as an non-VI person.  And to be honest I can’t think of a better cause to support.

If you want to sponsor me you can do through the Virgin Giving page here.  If you don’t want to sponsor me you don’t have to, but please at least donate a bit to VICTA through their website here.

Finally the VICTA website has a lot more information about who they are and what they do – you can find it here: http://www.victa.org.uk/

Strange Things

As I sit here and write this I’ve just finished a mug of Kopi Luwek coffee.  You may have heard of it – it’s also known as Civet Coffee and is generally held as the best (or rarest) coffee in the world.  You see Kopi Luwek is made in a somewhat interesting way.  It relies on a Sumatran Jungle cat (of the Civet family) to eat the choicest berries of the coffee bean growing bushes.  The flesh of these berries is digested in the normal manner before the stone AKA the coffee bean is then excreted and gathered.  These coffee beans are then gathered, cleaned, sterilised, ground etc to create what is supposed to be one of the nicest coffees in the world and also one of the rarest meaning that it’s not cheap (and I’m not joking about how it’s made – you can check the Wikipedia article here).  Fortunately I work in an office of adventurous people so the cost got shared.

So what’s this coffee (which has been affectionately coined cat-sh*t coffee actually taste like?  Well the taste is very smooth.  People have complained that its not actually bitter enough.  There’s a very nice nutty aftertaste and there’s hints of chocolate throughout as well.  All in all it’s very nice coffee – I’m not sure if quite justifies the cost, but it is a very nice brew and is worth giving a go – just so you can say you have.

Talking of giving things a go the Kopi Luwek coffee wasn’t the only thing we ordered.  We also got a different type of chocolate.  Bacon chocolate.  Yep someone has looked at two of the greatest foodstuffs on the planet – bacon and chocolate and thought “I wonder if these will go together?”  The result to be honest is really strange.  It’s salty and when you encounter a piece of bacon it can be a bit of a surprise to the tastebuds, but at the same time it doesn’t taste bad.  To be honest it’s such a different flavour I can’t think of anything quite to compare it too.  Its just really different.  If I’m honest it’s met some strong reactions to the negative in the office – lots of people don’t like it, but others are like myself, and find it strange.  No-ones come to me and told me how gorgeous it is to counter balance the haters – maybe this is something that will change with time.

So two interesting flavours.  Two new taste sensations that I’d certainly recommend giving a go if you get the chance – partially as I don’t think you’ll ever get the change to taste them again!

A Quick Comment On Spam

Got in to find this comment had been filtered…

I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

Slightly amused at the idea this blog doesn’t have many pictures…  Or is that just me.

Thinking with Portals – Bad For Your Health…

Nope – this isn’t an awaited review of Portal 2 – that is in the pipeline but somewhat held up by my inability to try the multiplayer at the moment…

My friend posted a cartoon on Twitter last night.  This one:

I thought that’s amusing and forwarded it to some of my portal playing friends at work.  One of them responded “Hang on.  That won’t work” and then the rest of the afternoon was lost in the discussion of whether hypothetically I could work.  The full email discussion is below, though my argument was that surely you would still be able to stand holding both ends of the blanket at one point in the room allowing you to tie it together.  Other suggestions have been using the preservation of velocity to throw the blanket across the room, to use an excursion funnel to move the blanket into position (though this was left as it required one portal too many…) and throwing one end of the blanket through the portal and catching it on the other side.  We were getting to the point of drawing diagrams for each when the time came to go home so I fear this is not finished.  One person was threatening to make a level featuring this setup so that it could be fully tested…

I can only think of one place for an argument this pointless, so here it is presented for the whole of the internet to see!  Of course I will keep this post updated with any further updates should you be interested/actually care, and please feel free to join in using the comments box below…

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Stargate Universe – To Boldly Go…

Stargate Universe was always a strange departure for the franchise.  Based around a small group who were stranded on the other side of the Universe, on a ship going the wrong way it carries on the strong themes of exploration that are found in the previous Stargate series, but in a way gains something by losing the trappings of the various wars the other series were coming up against, instead the big enemy here is survival itself.  The early episodes made this a bit of a hard series to get into they were so focussed on survival – looking for air, water, food etc but then as time went on the show seemed to settle down a bit producing some very clever and well thought through episodes (Time in the first series is a good example of this – possibly more timey wimey than a Moffat episode of Dr Who), and as the show found its footing more and more it developed into more of a character drama.  True there’s the odd bit of action, but the best episodes from the show have been the ones where the characters are studied and the drama comes from an internal source.  In a way the episodes dealing with an intelligent external threat are some of the series worse ones.  To give an example a recent two part story arc (setup in a previous episode which involved an accident leading to time travel – quite complicated to explain) lead to the main cast meeting their descents from a crew that had been thrown back in time in an alternate timeline.  The episode finished with them journeying to find the world that this alternate crew had settled to, and the following episode focussed on a series of flashbacks in the device of video diaries showing how this bunch of people came together, and created a civilisation from nothing.  Yes it was an excuse to get out the wigs and old make-up, but it also lead to some really moving and well acted TV to watch.  I know at least one person who commented that the concept for this episode seemed a good idea but they wasted it, I’d disagree, the story was one of human triumph and showing that if we make the effort we can live together and make the world work.  I seems a shame that SGU in only really finding its feet in the world now (it was announced the show wouldn’t be renewed for a third series at the start of the year) when it is producing these wonderful character pieces – though I think this could be the reason the show has flopped the expectation of more action and less dialogue leading to lowering ratings.  I dunno.  This post is a bit of a brain splurge of random thoughts having just finished watching a really good episode, but in a way it’s hitting me that this series is coming to an end which is a sad thing because it’s also hitting me just how much more I enjoy this show than I thought I did.

Stargate Universe 2009-2011

Unknown Films

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

When Shaun and I went to see Unknown the other day, it sparked off a bit of a discussion between the two of us.  Naturally the film was appearing on all the listings information as Unknown (that is of course the films name) but this lead us to consider a new way of going to the cinema – an Unknown film.

For the Unknown Film you go to the cinema, purchase a ticket, but the only information you’d know about the film would be the length and the rating (we discussed limiting the rating to 12A/15 to try and keep the options open the majority of cinema goers).  The film itself would be chosen by the cinema and could be anything for a classic film, through a minor art-house film or a subtitled foreign film to a recent blockbuster.  Some people may have seen it before, to others it may be a genre that they have never considered watching before – and that’s the idea, to challenge to get you watching something that you may never have considered watching in the past.  I know that there’s been several times that I’ve been sat down in front a film I didn’t think I’d enjoy and been very pleasantly surprised – True Grit being a more recent example.   Of course on the flip side there’s likely to be some films that aren’t enjoyed by everyone as everyone’s tastes are different – part of the fun is that you are paying for a the gamble, that you’ll get a film that you’ll enjoy, though it may be an idea for cinema’s to charge a lower rate for an Unknown film, or be prepared to pay out refunds for people who aren’t willing to sit through a film.  Still as two film fans this struck as a fun idea for expanding our cinema knowledge.

“Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” –  James Bryant Conant

The other idea we had was how to bring this into a smaller setting – say you get a bunch of friends over for a film night.  Everyone brings a DVD, all the DVD names go into the hat and you draw one out –t hat’s the one that gets watched.  I could easily see this becoming a regular occurrence by throwing in the suggestion that you’re not allowed to bring the same film two times in a row should generate variety and a good mix of films.

“Take risks:  if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.” – Author Unknown

For me part of the joy of film is discovering films that I would’ve never watched if I’d seen them in the listings or at the DVD shop, and then discovering that I’ve been missing a wonderful film for all these years.  Hopefully by using some of the ideas mentioned above this will open up whole new worlds of film and story telling.

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” – Paulo Coelho