Saturday, January 07, 2006

Greece 4 600 - 34I forgot one: How long is a piece of string?

It's book about maths (or math if you prefer, although that always sounds a little DEFRA). A review I just found condemns it as "very light reading". Which in my case is a good thing. As it is so light I batted through it very quickly, but still informatively. So I'm now an expert on lifts [elevators], taxis [cabs] and convincing fraud [no translation needed] (the latter is all to do with the ones).

A quick and fun book, which judging by the online reviews is only disliked by the sort of people who design systems for solving a Rubic's cube (whereas I just used to do what felt right, and that normally worked - until I got bored and dissected the thing with the aid of a spoon that is). Will it change your life? Not unless you want to be able to calculate the probability of your current partner being "the one". Apparently you get diminishing returns once you've been out with 37% of all those people you'll ever go out with. So if there are 6.5 billion people in the world, then for most people halving that to get the right sex, there are 3.25 billion. Lob off a third at either end (ageist I know) and that's down to a bit over 1 billion suitably sexed people of roughly similar age. So, if we ignore the physics of actually meeting all those people, then after about 400,000,000 people dated you will start to be less likely to meet anyone better than the current partner.

400,000,000... I think I may need to start playing catch up (woah, weird sugar-coated dried fruit [in lieu of lunch] induced Going for Gold flashback).

Continuing the sugar-coated tiredness theme, being able to watch people in the building opposite bouncing round a gym is quite funny, if a bit distracting. One guy apparently continually kicks his arse as he scurries away on the treadmill. It's a bit odd.

But getting back to the lifts and tying in with the tiredness, I saw Shaft last night. Other than the slight lack of plot - well, it had one, it's just that when the end credits rolled my response was "is that it?" - it was quite good, in a gloriously cheesey, my-god-look-at-the-wallpaper way.

My brother (who was drunk, therefore demanding I watch it) got annoyed by me commenting on the lighting and colours within the film. For the most part it feels very, very authentic. I didn't get the impression that somewhere there are plans and Polaroids sprawling across tables to help people recreate an authentic scene. It feels like it was filmed with what there was. So a taxi is just a taxi hired out for the day, complete with condensation, dirt and fingermarks. It seemed as if virtually everywhere was on location, lit by the normal lighting. And it's great to see lightbulbs come out different colours on film. Modern films go to great lengths to ensure the characters are well lit in even, balanced light (unless they're meant to be lurking in the shadows), and everywhere is bathed in distinctly white light. In Shaft, offices are green under their fluorescent tubes, houses are orange from the tungsten lamps, modern compact fluorescents come out blue. And because it was filmed in a dirty grey city in winter, the lights always show.

But the other thing which distracted me was the colours. For a start it's pretty much underexposed but developed to a normal exposure, which means much the image is a rich murmur of blacks (assuming you remember to turn the lights off as reflections of one's brother's feet don't really add to the mood. Of course once they were off, then it becomes very obvious that the brightness on the television is too high, as the blacks glow a faint green, and the DVD player's display illuminates the room). And I like underexposed. I like hints in the sumptuous dark.

Somehow, the makers managed to use a film, or apply some filter to it, which really makes clear, intense colours glow. The primary and secondary colours are really punchy. Admittedly I've no idea what the originals were like, and it is obviously skewed by fashion, but the reds, oranges and blues leap out from the screen.

Which reminds me - the same red recurs throughout the film, quite notably on the cinemas and theatres. It's quite odd seeing a theatre declare that they have Robert Redford on stage. And I was far too amused by the idea that an investigative exploration of a bleak, urban underworld by a robust, independent, womanising man, all the while accompanied by a gorgeous soundtrack of funkily distorted guitars, should feature a cinema proclaiming the words "Michael Caine: Get Carter".

Admittedly some of the dialogue was lost on me, and some went beyond verging on the comical, as did some of the activities, and I probably wasn't in the right mindset to view it as a social history lesson, but still it's a good film. Not excellent or outstanding, but good. Despite the occasionally dodginess, it's worth watching -watch it for the style.

Which reminds me: my brother was far too excited by the tailoring. They're just suits. Yes, they fit. Yes, it is apparent that they have not been made with the minimum amount of cloth (ok, so I wouldn't ever consider something where the pattern didn't match or ran counter to the structure of the suit, which may be borne of a innate aesthetic awareness, but it might almost stem from the fact I'm not all that sure I can get away with wearing a checked suit).

We interrupt this service to bring you an important news bulletin. No it's not that arse-kicking man has got off the treadmill (he had, but he's back again). I've just been rung by my mother, and other than being asked if I want dishwasher fluid because it's on offer in Sainsbury's until tomorrow (dishwasher? Only people who live in Wimbledon - or Lewisham - have those), she's just told me that Charles Kennedy's resigned. Which elicited an "Oh", which might be on the verge of being upgraded to a "Bugger". It's not often one hears one's mother use the words "swarmy bastards". It's hardly as if there's anyone better. Hands up if you can name a Liberal Democrat?

Paddy Ashdown doesn't count.

That other one... Lembit Opik (who I keep wanting to call Lemsip, and I just misspelt his surname as Opec). But he was supporting Kennedy, so he's probably not going to be in it.

Anyone else? The young round one - scary smile... Sarah Teather. Young people who are interested in politics: never ends well, does it? And she was one of the Charlie-axers, along with a couple of dozen other MPs. It's like Murder on the Orient Express.

Anyone else? Letwin? No, wrong party.

Apparently there's someone called Simon Hughes. Apparently. But all I can think of in connection to his name is this whole leadership challenge thing. But then only appearing in the public consciousness at times of turmoil does seem to be a winning strategy. Anyway, I think he's related to one of the labour high-ups, but can't remember. And I know all that stuff about the sins of the father, but then surely to have a family member in politics is unfortunate, but to have two looks a little bit careless?*

Anyone else...?

Menzies Campbell springs to mind, but I think he's a Sir, which usually limits electability (even if it is what ruling MPs become after they've MP'd enough), and I'm not actually sure if he's an MP. And I think he's quite old (said he who didn't mind the possibly Clarke Torying).

This is quite long considering I was supposed to be taking a quick break having realised the highlights of my day so far where telling a cleaner that the kitchen is on the next floor up and remembering I have a hat in my bag (I'm sitting in a deserted building. It's January. The metal framed windows are old, draughty and single glazed. The air-con's working on the assumption that there's a building's worth of people and machines churning out heat, so it's making sure it extracts that. I think the cleaner's gone home, so I'm sitting in the heat of a single Dell (it may not be a Dell, as it's just an anonymous black box. I thought I'd found the branding, but it just says "Push").

It's dark, I'm tired, and I've had enough of keyboards which have quotemarks and the at-sign muddled up. And I've still got work to do.


* Grossly misquoted, which is why it took me so long to track down. From The Importance of Being Earnest:
Lady Bracknell: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

PS. Just remembered. Ignore the mobile sex.

PPS. [Many expletives] The building has a PA system. A very loud one. I didn't know it had one. While I understand some people may wish to know that the carpark's about to be locked, I also wish that my heart was running a bit slower.

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