Archive for December, 2012

The Hobbit: A brief (slightly negative) film review

December 31, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog watched Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit while killing time during one of those long stretches of homelessness that exist when hotel kick-out is noon, and flight departure is 23:15.

I’d been looking forward to The Hobbit – the book is a favourite of mine and whenever I try reading a chapter to my daughter at bed time it weaves narcoleptic magic. Three sentences and she’s dead to the world.

MOVIE REVIEW: Plus points. This was in 3D and the the 3D worked. It wasn’t obtrusive, there weren’t any obvious moments when some creative character thought “let’s wake them up by firing a spear in their face” or other such flaunting of the 3D power to surprise. The glasses didn’t pinch one’s nose. One fell into the 3D world with little effort and soon took its marvels for granted.

Acting? Also very good. I liked the hobbit. He had a tough act or two to follow but he led ahead and no better a hobbit have I seen.

Bravo, that hobbit!

BUT…the plot!!!

What the heck’s going on with the plot?

The Hobbit’s a simple, adventurous, story, full of action, full of intrigue, escapes, daring, cunning, brains, brainless behaviour, landscapes, but it is, if you cut the meat from the bone, basically a treasure hunt. A raid on a raiding dragon. It is subtly done and has many scary moments.

I would say that the Hobbit (the book) requires no embellishment.

And the movie should have stuck to the book.

Pale Orcs? Saruman? That clownish wizard with his rabbit drawn sledge? (exit Middlearth Enter Disneyland) Sauron? The Necromancer? The Lady Galadriel? What are these people doing in The Hobbit?

They weren’t in the book and they shouldn’t be in the film.

Jackson wows us with lots of goblin bashing and desperate chases over collapsing wonky goblin bridges and the tumult is exciting but at the same time it isn’t very interesting.

It’s sad to say, but we’ve seen it before. Spoiled, I guess.

But… we HAVE seen it before, so why do it again? When Jackson can do so much better?

I watched Jackson’s Two Towers in Capetown and, although I knew the plot, it had my hairs stand on end. The fury, hate and hunger of the Uruk Hai as they massed beneath the walls in their horrid helmets, splashed by rain, twitching and roaring and ready to slaughter – that was an ordeal to watch.

Jackson got it perfect, right down to the one eyed bow man and the collapse of the first Uruk.

The Hobbit has its highlights and Jackson weaves his magic when it comes to eagles flying, special effects, and a love for the saga.

But, well, yes, The Hobbit, pretty good overall but… I wish he’d just stuck to the plot. The original plot.

And I’m afraid this may be a damning indictment, if somebody gave me free tickets to see The Hobbit again, I’d make an excuse.

We shall see what the second part of the trilogy will bring.
Cheers!

Hugh

The Santa Claus Predicament in Security/Tiger Territory/A tent

December 31, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog no longer believes in Santa Claus but many years ago I did. And I’m glad I did. My parents, bless them, did their best to keep this delightful illusion alive for as long as was possible and made a pretty good job of it. I can’t remember when I wised up and put childish things away and became slightly more realistic about Christmas, but my sister was younger and still believed and I played along and I’m glad that I did. Eventually, Jane, too, began to entertain doubts and the Santa Claus era died a gracious death.

It was a natural process and went smoothly. We, my brother, sister and I, loved the whole Santa Claus idea. A bit of a ritual, really. We’d borrow long Army issue socks from Daddy (they were the biggest in the house, all the better to squeeze more goodies in! Especially the satsuma at the bottom – although Doctor Who buffs will note that a satsuma saved planet earth after the good Doctor bowled it with precision on, and the alien warlord failed to catch).

We would raid Daddy’s drinks cabinet for Father Christmas sherry, Mummy would provide mince pies, and again these were destined for the jolly old gentleman.

We didn’t scatter lichen for the reindeer.

In my day reindeer didn’t have red noses, didn’t need stupid songs about them – they just hauled the sleigh got an encouraging whip and were reindeer. I knew, thanks to books, that reindeer liked lichens, but I didn’t want to strip our old apple trees of their lichens and leave them next to the mince pies and the sherry.

If they wanted to nibble away while Father Christmas came down the chimney then fair enough.

Santa Claus (Father Christmas) had a very good innings at the Paxton house – wherever it was located. England (the best for Christmas – our place has chimneys to choose from), Iran (the worst for Christmas), here, there, wherever we went Santa Claus kept coming to town.

Or a tent.

Or a Tuareg village in the Sahara desert.

This Christmas, Santa was faced with a serious set of problems.

My daughter, Annabel, aged nine, has some fairly iconoclastic friends – the sort of know it all brats who question the existence of the tooth fairy or global warming – and I sensed that Santa was coming under peer scrutiny.

The bite the hand that feeds you kind of scrutiny. Think it through, kids! If you bust Father Christmas he stops coming! Who is the winner in this scenario? You get to feel clever, smash a few younger kid’s pleasures. Santa Claus stops bringing you presents. Naughty or nice?

As we prepared to fly to India to go on a tiger safari I noted with dread that on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we would be in a tent. Nothing wrong with being in a tent (I’ve had many wonderful nights in tents) but they inhibit privacy. If I were to take Santa’s bounty into this tent it would be discovered immediately. Annabel has an exploratory streak and nothing is more swiftly explored than a tent.

Santa would be a bust.

I thought then of hiding the presents in my hand luggage/carry on but these bloody security checks, now so tiresome and repeated at airports, hotels, restaurants etc. would, I knew, sooner rather than later, involve an Indian commando or special force opening my bag and running a metal detector over Santa’s Furby and the game would be up.

Commando: “What’s this, sir?”

Me: “It’s a (nervous giggle)…hee hee (lowering my voice to a whisper) ..a Furby. Please keep your voice down. Please???”

The Commando: “Why? What do you have to hide?”

Me: “Hide? Me? Hide anything?”

Him: “You are trying to hide something, sir.”

Me: “OK. Yes. I am trying to hide something. It’s a surprise present from Santa Claus. It’s a Furby.”

Him (the un-relenting fiend): “Please come this way. Place your Furby on this scanner.”

“Daddy, Mummy’s waiting! What’s the matter?”

Commando: Is this your Furby?

Annabel: Oh, wow! A Furby! I asked Santa for a Furby! Just like that one!

Etc.

We decided not to take any of Santa’s presents to our tent in India and instead relied on various lame excuses and sops such as – “Maybe your Christmas present will be seeing a wild tiger or a leopard or a gaur or crocodiles?”

They would have worked on me. Blimey! I’d have heaved the Christmas tree out of the window, chucked Dad’s socks and run like mad for the plane to get a glimpse of crocs, Kipling’s Jungle Book, sambhur, leopards.

The forests provided. After a bit of bumping about and we saw a tiger. What a thing to see! A wonderful encounter..

BLOG ED NOTE: YOU CAN DO THE TIGER LATER. WRAP UP CHRISTMAS, PLEASE!

Hugh Paxton’s Blog: Yes, well, the tiger enchanted Annabel, and we saw so much more, enough to make anybody forget about reindeer and..andd.. but then came Christmas Eve and a rather pathetic looking little girl started telling us us how Santa had a special magic dust that could create a chimney he could climb down. Even in tents.

I had in a vague, roundabout suggestion-sort of way, said that maybe Santa couldn’t get into tents. And that he’d prefer to leave presents in Bangkok.

Annabel confounded this lame explanation by remembering (and reminding us parents) of the time Santa had not only delivered the goods in a remote wilderness area in north east Namibia but had also left a steaming pile of elephant dung beside them. (My idea) Africa being Africa, we had explained at the time, he had traded reindeer for flying elephants.

It was a rather uncomfortable Christmas Eve but we sang a couple of songs and after ten minutes Annabel keeled over. Being on safari for ten hours tends to take it out of you.

Christmas Day dawned and Annabel had a quick check of the tea biscuits she’d left out for Santa by her wish list which ended with the message

“Don’t worry if you can’t bring them because that’s alright. Thankyou love Annabel”

She tried a tea biscuit.

“These are soggy!” she said.

“No wonder he didn’t come” said I grasping at this straw.

“Did you phone your friends in Bangkok to put presents under my tree?” asked Annabel.

“Don’t be silly,” I said. “I would never do that!”

Honesty and sincerity were mine for a change. And Annabel knew it.

My wife did that. Midi is a Sphinx. No help for Annabel there.

We’re just back in Bangkok. Khun Den had put the presents just right.

Santa’s intact for the time being. But I doubt he’ll last another year. Too many children gnawing away at silly traditions and with not a lot to replace them.

But if Annabel’s had a nine year run of Santa Claus I reckon she’s done fine. When she has children of her own she’ll be up to it!

Cheers!

Hugh

Leonie’s View: US Economy and a Marc Faber take (or spoof take) …

December 31, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has doubts as to whether Marc Faber actually said this. But if he didn’t, he should have. Thanks Leonie for keeping your thumb on US economic trends and opinion makers!

Over to Leonie!

Cheers!

Hugh

Dr. Marc Faber, the investment guru, concluded his monthly bulletin with the following comments! :


Dr. Marc Faber tells it how it is

"The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money goes to China . If we spend it on gasoline it goes to the Arabs. If we buy a computer, it will go to India . If we purchase fruits and vegetables it will go to Mexico , Honduras and Guatemala . If we purchase a good car, it will go to Germany and Japan . If we purchase useless crap, it will go to Taiwan . In short, none of it will help the American economy.
The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes and beer, since these are the only products still produced in the US .
I’ve been doing my part….."

2012 in review (from WordPress on Hugh Paxton’s Blog)

December 31, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has just reeled back after ten days in India and found the following message sent from Word Press.com
Rather gratifying! Thanks for every comment posted and for every visit made. A very happy Year of the Snake to all readers and their loved ones. You shall be hearing more about India as soon as I’ve recovered from it.

Cheers! Hugh

Over to Word Press.com

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 65,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Last bunch of Royal Belum National Park

December 21, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog advises you to check the long tailed lizard! Size in this case isn’t an issue. But in the length department this chap has it!

We are now actually going to arrive early at an airport for a flight. A Paxton first!

I’ll drop you a line from India.

Cheers!

Hugh

GHOST CITIES GETS SEASONAL: New post Christmas Re-union

December 21, 2012

New post on Ghost Cities

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Christmas Re-union

by anilbalan

Sir Andrew Caldecott only turned to fiction after retiring from the civil service but, having done so, he allowed his lifelong fascination with the supernatural full rein in a collection of simple yet remarkably chilling tales penned in the 1940s. Taking his inspiration from the master of the ghost story, M R James, who chilled by implication rather than by gory description, Caldecott created believable but unsettling scenarios which effectively produced a sense of unease in the reader. In Caldecott’s hands the mundane became horrific; the everyday became unnerving; and the commonplace became utterly terrifying. And yet – if this doesn’t seem like too much of a contradiction in terms – there is something strangely cozy and comfortable to me about reading a Caldecott ghost story today. The passage of years has really brought out the charm and intrinsic quality of these particular supernatural tales, which are almost like miniature works of art compared with a lot of fiction that’s out there these days. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the stories Caldecott wrote and had published during the festive season. Christmas, with its combination of cold dark nights and spiritual significance, seemed to somehow bring out the very best in Caldecott as a writer, for this was the theme of some of his most famous stories, among them the oft-anthologised Christmas Re-union.

Read more of this post

anilbalan | December 21, 2012 at 2:00 am | Tags: Christmas Re-union, Fires Burn Blue, Kongea, Not Exactly Ghosts, Sir Andrew Caldecott | Categories: Horror, Short Story, Supernatural fiction, Writer | URL: http://wp.me/p1Pozr-iU

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Thai Days: Those tigers were legal! Says Plod!

December 20, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to hear that Plodprasop thinks his export of 100 tigers to China was legal. The legal system thinks otherwise. But that is what lawyers are for. And prisons.

“I am glad this moment has come because I will prove my innocence before this court,” said Mr Plodprasop.

Plod is accused of sending 100 tigers to China from zoos in Thailand. The Chinese suggested it for breeding and feeding purposes. Plod filled his wallet and the tigers went their way.

Plod was chief of of the Royal Forest Department at the time of the tiger export.

Prosecutors of Plod say the tiger export was made for commercial purposes. Plod’s looking at a malfeasance charge by prosecutors on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

What’s going to happen to Plod is of little interest to this blog.

What has happened to the tigers?

Charlie’s Brighton Bio-Gasser Blog: Dreaming of Pink Ladies…

December 20, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to hear from Charlie Clarke’s Blog. He’s getting greener by the day! He gives us his views on apples and I thank him for it!

An apple a day! But maybe not his apples!

Dear all

A short, penultimate piece for the year on a subject close to my heart…

Dreaming of Pink Ladies…

I’m also hoping to post a more festive message later this week. It might be something to perk your spirits as you are faced with the left-over turkey sandwich on the 26th…

In the meantime, enjoy the week ahead!

Charlie

Charlie Clarke

_________________________

Brighton, UK

e: charlie.clarke

http://brightonbiogasser.wordpress.com

twitter: @biogasser

Thai Days: Strange Days Indeed – former PM to be charged with the attempted murder of 700 red shirts and physical assault on 800 other rioters

December 20, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is both a fan of law and order and legitimate civil protest. Both keep societies healthy.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is not a fan of the Red Shirt dick heads who are currently planning to accuse former Thai premier Abhisit of 700 counts of attempted murder and physical assault against 800 more people.

The Departent of Special Investigation (DSI) is currently handling cases involving injuries to 1,500 people. And 35 deaths.

Hundreds more cases are likely to be brought forward by the DSI.

Abhisit, if you are new to Thai politics, is a moderate sort of fellow. Well educated, soft spoken, graceful in his way and not much like the skinhead reds who want to bring him down.

The Reds have never really behaved politely. Abhisit’s Democrat party spokesman has just been assaulted by reds and has a fractured skull to show for it. He’s in hospital and not having fun.

They bashed his head in and then when the poor fellow fell down, they kicked him. Spat. Then fled.

Abhisit sent in the army during the Burning of Bangkok when he had to. Accusing him of mass murder is lunatic.

Hugh

Hugh Paxton’s Blog Advisory: Normal Service has been resumed as swiftly as is possible in Thailand.

December 20, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been off the air since Monday. A tree fell on some telephone lines next door then a bunch of guys came to fix the telephone lines and they did well. Nobody could say they did not not fix the phone lines destroyed by the falling tree. Sadly their efforts to repair the lines involved them destroying another bunch of telephone lines neatly cutting me off from the internet, email and this blog.

But these things happen. And all is now restored!

A few days without email and internet had me a bit fidgety. My wife’s in Malaysia at the moment and if she can’t stay in touch she’s a bit fidgety, too.

But overall, losing contact with the world (the phone stopped working) wasn’t so very bad.

My daughter couldn’t surf for spy kits on Amazon (the last thing I need is my daughter having a spy kit! God only knows what dark secrets she would uncover and show to my wife!)

And, I note with mixed feelings, there were more hits when I was off the air and wasn’t writing anything!

But it’s good to be back in touch!

Cheers! Hugh in Bangkok!


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