Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Hobbit

I enjoyed it, but to be honest it is basically the same scenes and dialogue from Lord of the Rings shuffled into a different order. There are more hedgehogs in this one though.

Herbie - as not featured in The Hobbit

Do you remember the beat combos of your youth? Whenever they had a hit record they just made another one that was basically the same in the hope that people would buy that as well. Peter Jackson obviously does because that's what he's done. Pick your favourite scene from LotR and there will be a version of it here.

One further thought: why do the baddies fill their armies with Orcs and Goblins when they are so useless at fighting? Oh, and another thought: Barry Humphries is very good, as is Sylvester McCoy.

And, finally, apropos of nothing, I have had my first roast turkey of the season.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Or at least entertainment. My not-gaming has involved a bit of going out recently. I saw Martin Simpson last week as well as the new film version of Great Expectations and very good they both were.

Then on Monday I went to see June Tabor and the Oyster Band at Leeds Town Hall. What a voice she has. Having said that, both her and John Jones are among the least dynamic and agile front people that I have ever seen. James Brown and Mick Jagger do not bother to eat your hearts out. Tabor favours a sort of shuffling from side to side while slightly stooped, whereas Jones goes for a rigid-armed look reminiscent of a well wrapped up baby in a push-chair. Lovely music though.

Then last night it was off to the Grand for the National Theatre's 'One Man, Two Governors' with Rufus Hound. It was extremely funny. Northern Broadsides did their own version of Goldoni's 'One Servant, Two Masters' a few years ago with Barry Rutter in the title role which was also very good. 'The Man With Two Gaffers' was set in mid 19th century Yorkshire. The NT's version, set in Brighton in 1963, drew more on the Commedia dell'Arte influences and was positively pantomimic including audience 'volunteers' and so on. Obviously Northern Broadsides' version was still very broad though. When Rutter directed Lenny Henry in Othello he also played Brabantio. The review in the Financial Times referred to his overacting in the part. I was tempted to write in and say that if the reviewer thought that was Rutter overacting then he obviously wasn't familiar with his body of work. Still, while NB may have clog-dancing, the NT had a bloke playing the washboard.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Too busy to ask

My readers that is. They're too busy to ask questions or, most days, to read the blog. So what questions would they ask? [Is that a rhetorical question creeping in there? No, it is not; and here's the proof.] They would ask the following about 'Lawrence of Arabia':

Firstly, what about the gay subtext? Where was that it your review? [I am watching these questions sonny.] Well, I'd like to think that I am as sensitive and metrosexual as the next man, but I couldn't see it. The only person that Lawrence is in love with throughout the film is himself. And Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali spends the entire time looking at Lawrence as if the Englishman is completely nuts. And one can readily understand why.

Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently to the espoused subject of this blog (which is wargaming by the way) they would ask whether having rewatched the film makes me want to rush out and start a new period. (For any non-wargamers who have stumbled across this in the belief they were likely to learn something about Stoic philosophy can I just explain that 'starting a new period' is a curse under which all wargamers suffer. The details are not important, but please have sympathy for the afflicted.)

Anyway, no. The film is, I would suggest, resolutely anti-war; one of a number of British films with that message made at around the same time. War in the desert is not portrayed as glorious, but as squalid, nasty, inhuman and, ultimately futile. Many deaths and much suffering happen in what is 'a sideshow of a sideshow' and ultimately everyone involved is sold out by the politicians.

Others may differ, or reasonably ask what sets this apart from every other war in every other place and time. “It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”- Herman Hesse

Thursday, 6 December 2012

We can't all be lion tamers

It is this blog's proud boast that it is never knowingly up to date. In that spirit about ten days ago I went to see 'Lawrence of Arabia' at the cinema in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its release. It was, of course, visually magnificent on the big screen.

I'm not entirely sure about the historical accuracy; surely even the British during the Great War wouldn't have employed anyone as obviously bonkers as T.E. Lawrence is made to appear by Bolt, Lean and O'Toole. Would they?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


My readers would, apart from the minor technical issue of there not actually being any, by now have been asking "Where's the report from Recon?". Well unfortunately I didn't go. And I am sad about that because it's the first time in many years that I haven't been and it's always a show that I have thoroughly enjoyed. However, even wargaming philosophers - or the somewhat smaller group of philosophising wargamers - must sometimes defer to an outbreak of real life. And so it was for me on Saturday.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Yet more dressers-up

The Royal Armouries is once again hosting people who like nothing better than to wear fancy-dress, although this lot are, to me anyway, substantially sadder than the comic-book fans. The concourse below my balcony is playing host at the moment to a Darth Vader look-alike (cloak and mask-alike anyway) and a number of those blokes in white armour with ray guns whose proper name escapes me. It does so largely because I have never seen the film - indeed any of the films - and have never had any particular wish to do so.

Having said that, it is surprising how much of the story of the original film at least that I have picked up by osmosis along the way. A few years ago Charles Ross brought his one man Star Wars show ( to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I knew that my wife would want to go - unlike me she is a big fan - but I also knew that she wouldn't go alone. So I volunteered to go with her. The show takes about an hour and covers the original trilogy. To my astonishment I followed the first twenty minutes without any problems and even laughed in some of the right places. Sadly, the rest of the show went completely over my head. However, for those who feel the force I would recommend it. Ross, a very good performer, apparently also does a one man Lord of the Rings and I would certainly like to see that.