California Dreamin’

On February 21, 2018 / Tagged: , , ,

These photos of Los Angeles by Franck Bohbot are fantastic:

I went to LA for the first time last year, spent my birthday there in fact. Before I went, a few people told me that it’s a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of place. I loved it, but I can’t exactly put my finger on why.

The photos in this set really take me back. One of the things I enjoyed when I was there was just walking around, taking it all in. Especially at night. When the city’s lit up it takes on a different vibe. The atmosphere is just a little bit more loaded, things a bit more on edge, everything a bit more alive. I’ve not been anywhere else like it.

John Elton

On February 12, 2018 / Tagged: , , ,

Stumbled across this clip earlier on YouTube. I’m a big fan of Rowan Atkinson, but haven’t seen this before. Kept me very amused for 5 minutes or so (more like 10, now I’ve watched it again to post it here).

Dunkirk

On January 29, 2018 / Tagged: ,

Last week I visited Dunkirk for a day. I was travelling back from somewhere else1 and decided to stop off on the drive back to the Eurotunnel. The inspiration was mostly from seeing Dunkirk (the film) last year; I enjoyed the film a lot, and wanted to see the place for myself.

I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. I skipped trying to see the shipwrecks at Bray-Dunes because I missed low tide, the Operation Dynamo museum was closed for “embellishment” – always a good word in the context of retelling history – and I obviously didn’t have much time as I needed to travel back. So I mostly just ambled around, seeing what I could see.

I’ve been to a few places like this, and I always try and imagine what it would’ve been like at the time that the historical event happened. At Dunkirk, this was hard. The city was besieged twice in WW2; the first – and more famous – time was in 1940, by the Germans when the Allies were trying to escape. The second time was in 1944-45, when the German units stationed there were surrounded by the Allies as they advanced across Europe. All this fighting caused quite a bit of damage to the city, to which the French have rather selfishly responded by rebuilding things.

The outcome of this is that the town looks… well, like a modern city2. Which makes it hard to imagine what happened there; it’s difficult to picture scenes of warfare and peril when there’s kids playing on the beach, people lunching in bustling restaurants, and couples ambling along the promenade.

What did strike me though was a sense of the sheer magnitude of what happened there. How those days in 1940 were a branching point in history. That if something different happened, the story of humanity would’ve taken an entirely different path, and the world would look very different today. If you think about history as a procession of days, most of those days probably aren’t significant in a world-changing way. They all matter in aggregate of course; there’s everyday evolution and change that inexorably drives things forward. But history-defining, seismic moments are rare.

I can’t imagine anyone involved at the time really cared about any of that though.


  1. Fucking Bruges 

  2. And a bit of a crappy one at that 

A New Career In a New Town

On January 25, 2018 / Tagged:

I’ve had a blog running at one site or another for well over a decade1. A while back I set up this site, with the intention of moving the blog there at some point or other. Since then I’ve been building the site on and off; which mostly means that I came up with a design, implemented it, then 10-14 months later went back to the site and changed it all.

I’ve just finished the latest iteration of messing around with the design/layout/etc, and it’s at a point that is mostly good enough to actually use. Odds are I’ll still keep messing around with the appearance of this site. I’ve got a few things I’m already considering changing, but it’s all minor stuff. The main structure of of how this will all be presented is sorted, so there’s no reason not to start using it.

I enjoy writing. The intention here is to write for myself and see what happens. I don’t really have a specific topic I want to write about, just what’s rattling around2. I also don’t have a schedule I plan to stick to, other than “more than once a year”.

The first few posts here are cross-posts from my last place. From now on, I’ll be here.

Let’s see what happens.


  1. Where the hell did that go? 

  2. Hence the name of the site 

Films 2017

On December 20, 2017 / Tagged:

I go to the cinema regularly. When I do, I keep a record of what I saw and write a short comment about the film. This is the list of those films. Some of these I went to see multiple times, but I’ll just list them by first viewing.

I’ve not listed films seen outside the cinema, because I don’t note those down (and there’s no way I can remember them all).

JANUARY

  • Manchester by the Sea – Walked out half way through. I thought it was ok, but it was one of those days when I wasn’t in the mood for an onslaught of misery. Haven’t tried to watch it again.
  • Passengers – Actually quite an enjoyable film to go and see on a dreary January night.
  • Silence – I had no preconceptions of this, and was very impressed. It’s very long, and the topic isn’t something I’d usually go for, but I thought this was a masterpiece.
  • Split – Rubbish.
  • La La Land – Loved it, didn’t think I would. Looks great on the big screen.
  • Jackie – Got bored. Walked out.

FEBRUARY

  • Lion – I thought I’d hate this. How wrong was I? For a film about a guy using Google Earth a lot, it’s surprisingly compelling.
  • Lego Batman – Watched this on a Sunday afternoon with a fairly decent hangover. Maybe for that reason, found this to be too hectic to be enjoyable.
  • The Founder – Actually pretty good.
  • Hidden Figures – Better than expected.
  • Fences – Denzel Washington indulgence.
  • John Wick 2 – Not as good as the first one.
  • Moonlight – First time I went to see this, the power in the cinema cut off after 30 mins and didn’t come back on. I went back a week later and thought it’s pretty good. Not sure if worth an Oscar.
  • Toni Erdmann – So weird. So funny. So thought provoking. Watch this if you haven’t already.

MARCH

  • Free Fire – Bloody good fun.
  • Logan – Just from the law of large numbers, eventually someone had to make a good superhero film. This one only spoiled by the person in the cinema who insisted on talking very loudly to the person next to him.
  • Kong: Skull Island – meh.

APRIL

  • Get Out – Very very good.
  • Power Rangers – Bad. So bad.
  • Their Finest – Saw in on a Sunday evening to while away some time. It served that purpose well.
  • Lady Macbeth – Didn’t know anything about this before seeing it. Thought it was interesting, dark and really compelling.

MAY

  • Colossal – Sort of silly science fiction, very good fun.
  • Alien: Covenant – meh

JUNE

  • The Red Turtle – Beautiful. This is a film with no dialogue that manages to say more than a lot of the films on this list. Well worth a watch.
  • My Cousin Rachel – Saw this on a Friday afternoon. Left after half an hour because I was too tired to concentrate. Watched it again later in the year whilst on a flight, and thought it was pretty good.
  • Baby Driver – Huge fun, and great on the big screen.

JULY

  • It Comes At Night – A decent horror film. However I had to think hard to remember what it is, so clearly not that good.
  • The Beguiled – Very good. Very tense, you don’t quite know where it’s going to lead which makes it really compelling.
  • War For The Planet Of The Apes – Meh.
  • Dunkirk – Absolutely phenomenal. Even though you know how it ends, amazingly tense the whole way through. Excellent sound design, awesome cinematography. I saw it twice on an Imax screen, and think it really benefits from the big screen.

AUGUST

  • A Ghost Story – This was phenomenal. An, er, haunting look at relationships, loss, grief, and all that big stuff.
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – This had poor reviews and basically tanked at the Box Office. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It’s quite funny, very odd, spectacular to see on screen and overall really, really enjoyable. People go on about Hollywood/action films all being the same (shit) superhero franchises done in the same way time after time, so it’s annoying they don’t go and see something so different when it somehow gets made.

SEPTEMBER

  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Not good. It’s as if they didn’t understand why the first one worked.

OCTOBER

  • Blade Runner 2049 – Great sequel. Worth seeing on the big screen.
  • The Death of Stalin – OK, but not great.

NOVEMBER

  • Ingrid Goes West – Very funny.

DECEMBER

  • Murder on the Orient Express – OK, not great. Branagh a little OTT as Poirot.
  • The Disaster Artist – If you know anything about The Room then you need to see this. Oh, hi Mark.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Good but not great, and not as good as Rogue One (or, in fact, the first Star Wars film from 1977). The ending feels a bit “tacked on”; although I think it was the right ending, the scenes leading up to it could have been paced better to lead you into it. Could also drop 30 mins off the running time without losing anything important.

That’s 39 films seen at the cinema this year. As I mentioned at the top there are a few I saw multiple times (1 film I went to see 3 times…), so that’s 40-odd visits to the cinema this year.

Setting the record straight

On December 7, 2017 / Tagged: ,

This is a lovely little article celebrating the Martini. Spoiled only by, er, the recipe it gives for making a Martini:

The best Martini will always be the coldest Martini. Lukewarm presentations just don’t cut it. If you can, put your glasses, your bottle of gin or vodka and your shaker in the freezer at least half an hour before your guests arrive. […] My recipe uses old-fashioned proportions–four parts gin to one part vermouth–in a silver shaker. (Silver will make your liquids colder than a glass shaker.) I toss in a dash of orange bitters (available from Fee Brothers in Rochester, New York), then shake. And I mean shake it!

No.

  • Vodka does not belong in a Martini. If you substitute gin for vodka, it’s a Vodka Martini. This is an inferior drink1, and should never be referred to as a Martini.
  • Stir – gently – don’t shake. Shaking breaks the ice, dilutes it to fuck and ruins the drink.
  • 4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. 4 to fucking 1?! If you’re 8 years old, maybe. Anything less than 6 to 1 can’t be called a Martini. 8 to 1 is the sweet spot.
  • Orange bitters. Fuck no. Gin and dry vermouth, lemon twist or a couple of olives to garnish, thats it.
  • He’s right about the temperature. Glasses in the freezer beforehand, and serve it fucking cold.

This is the simplest (and, depending on when you ask me2, the best) cocktail. Almost no-one makes it right, but now you won’t make that mistake.

That is all.


  1. However if you add a little bit of vodka to the gin you get a Vesper, which is delicious 

  2. I alternate between this and the Negroni