May 19, 2019

The MCU Project: Iron Man [2008]

As we are doing this series in the universal timeline, I would like to address that I am doing a 2008 movie, the previous post (done by Pete) was made in 2011.

Iron Man seems to be set soon after WWII and seems to have a bit of the ‘I good scientist, do what I say and it will be good’ vibe about it when it comes to Tony Stark in the presentation showcasing his new, very strong, missile to some  very rich Americans. (Don’t see what could go wrong here).

Tony Stark then travels to a desert to test out this new missile and the effect does seem dangerously devastating in the wrong hands. It seems to be fore-shadowing what happens next when some people with guns and a large Stark Industries collection take him hostage. At this point there seems to be something wrong with the security of the underground base as Tony Stark builds himself Iron Man Mark 1 in his prison cell which appears to have 2 security cameras in it.

After this appalling show of bad security, Iron Man bursts out of his cell in a bullet-proof suit. I personally find this very unfair because he manages to 1v50 these bad guys who captured him. Most of the film from here is just him building new Iron Man suits and testing them, meanwhile visiting multiple celebrations, meetings and other sorts of gatherings. During this time, his step-dad seems to be getting dodgier and dodgier by the minute, doing trades with the people who captured Tony Stark and building his own Iron Man (A bit larger so he can fit). It ends how you would expect any superhero movie to end with a large fight between Iron Man and his step-dad, both in Iron Man suits.

Bernard
May 12, 2019

The MCU Project: Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

Last weekend, while I was off galavanting, Karen and Bernard went to the cinema to see Avengers Endgame. We have seen a few of the films in the series over the years, but we decided to make a little project out of watching the whole lot. Rather than watching them in release date order, we’re watching them in another sequence which I believe more closely follows the in-universe chronology. Bernard’s in charge of this side of things, he’ll weigh in at some point. I should also add that the plan is only to watch the films, not the tie-in TV series. Karen and I have tried a couple of these before and found them to be quite, quite dull.

We also decided that we’d take turns to write little reviews for them. I’ve volunteered for the first one, so let’s get stuck in!

Captain America: The First Avenger was released in 2011 and is set during World War II. While watching this, I got some very heavy moments of deja vu, so I’m pretty sure that I have watched it before. It tells the story of a physically feeble man in Brooklyn who really wants to go and fight but has a laundry list of ailments and would clearly be a liability on the battlefield. However, when a doctor asks him some probing questions, he replies that he doesn’t want to kill, but he just loves his country, and so the doctor thinks hmmmm this boy has spiritual depth and hence selects him for a program whereby he’ll be injected with some magic serum that makes him buff and attractive to the ladies. He’s given very little information about the treatment he would be subjected to, which raises concerns regarding informed consent.

On the subject of ladies, this film basically has two female characters in it. There’s a minor appearance by Natalie Dormer in which she basically plays a vixen who serves no purpose other than to induce jealousy in Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Peggy Carter is actually a fairly competent female character, who does do some punching and shooting of her own, and doesn’t exist solely to be captured and rescued by our hero (indeed, she actually saves his life more than once). However, she still does all the typical emotional female love interest bullshit and looks like a pin-up, so falls squarely into the “strong female character as written by a man” stereotype. I suppose the male-centricity of this film is somewhat explained away by the fact that it’s probably a reasonably accurate representation of the state of the US Army in 1942.

After being transformed into a buff superhero, the military decide that the best use of this specimen is to put him in a tight costume and work in PR. This is going fine for a while, until the real soldiers laugh at him, at which point he realises he’s a total fraud and so goes off on a mission of his own. Fortunately it’s a success, so rather than being court-martialed for violating a direct order from a superior officer, he gets a medal. This, as we all know, is how they really do things in the military.

The main theme of this film is “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” with a soupcon of “bad guys use guns to kill, but good guys punch foreigners across the room and into a wall”. It’s got a great cast with excellent performances all round, and given that the film was released in 2011 when 3D was still being pushed hard, a few obnoxious things-flying-towards-the-camera shots.

Next up will be Iron Man, which was the first of the films by release date. Karen and I have definitely seen this one before.

Pete
February 25, 2019

Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Two)

(Follows on from here)

My research into alcohol-free beers continues!

Big Drop Pale Ale

I don’t know whether it’s just because I’m getting more accustomed to alcohol-free beers (I think I only had two alcoholic drinks in January: a bottle of Sharps Doom Bar and a bottle of St Austell Proper Job) but as I put this one to my lips and took the first sip, I very consciously thought to myself “you know what, this is better than a lot of alcoholic beers!”

This is quite lovely to drink, it’s got a bit of citric sourness and a bit of bitterness but very little of that metallic tang that I dislike. I sense that I shall come back to this one again and again, availability permitting.

Big Drop Stout

This beer would be a fantastic stout – and I don’t mean “fantastic for an alcohol-free stout”, but just a plain old unqualified fantastic stout – were it not for one fairly serious shortcoming. It tastes, and smells, rather a lot like stale cigarette smoke. This is a fairly disconcerting quality, as it’s a flavour that I associate with things that need to go into the laundry, not things that I should be inserting into my mouth.

That said, given that stouts and porters are traditionally my “thing”, and the competition in the alcohol-free stakes is St Peters (and we all know how badly that turned out), it may be that the stale cigarette quality is one that it might be worth learning to live with.

Erdinger Alkoholfrei

Wheat beers aren’t usually my scene, so purchasing this in the supermarket was a bit of a random move. However, I’d heard really good things about it, and given that there isn’t really much in the way of choice available for those seeking an alcohol-free beer, I figured it was worth giving it a try. The alternative would be to start dipping into alcohol-free lagers, and I don’t think that I’m quite that desperate yet.

First impression was that it comes in pints, whereas most alcohol-free beers come in 330ml bottles or cans.

Second impression was that it’s a bloody lively one. The phrase “do you want a flake with that” springs to mind.

Upon putting glass to lip, I was very impressed. It tastes like a wheat beer, which is both a negative (because I’m not a fan of wheat beers) but a positive (because it doesn’t taste at all inferior to the full-alcohol variant). And it’s got a nice weighty velvetiness, none of that thinness that seems to be unavoidable in most alcohol free beers to some degree.

From a neutral standpoint, if you like wheat beers, or have a broad taste in beers, then this is a damn fine alcohol-free offering. However, for me, it’s just not a flavour that I particularly enjoy.

More alcohol-free beers to come, we hope!

Pete
February 10, 2019

Quality Screen Time | Podcast by Team Uborka | Ep. 02, Life Is Strange

AHA!! It is back again, the second podcast is finally out!!! If you want to listen then:

EPISODE 2

And you can now stream the podcast (and many others) from SoundCloud using the   link up there.

The episode is about Life is Strange and is around 35 mins, it had to be a bit jam-packed because we had 5, yes that is right, 5 episodes to go through. We do not have much detail because all the episodes are big and we don’t want to bore you to death but we hope this is enough for your standards. If you want to complain about how little detail there is, talk to Karen and Pete because they were the ones against it. -_-

Bernard
February 8, 2019

Art for Art’s Sake

My brother (whom some of you know as the esteemed Dr Pockless) drew and drew and drew, when we were kids. He drew dogs and trees a lot, because we had books on how to draw dogs and trees. Then he drew cartoon characters including one called Sir Herbert Mole and a superhero with a cape. Then he drew heavy metal album cover art. Then he drew on napkins whenever we went out for a meal. Then he learned animation and got a job being a cartoonist, which is what he always said he wanted to be when he grew up.

I did not draw. I cannot draw. I do not draw. For 48 years, I have not drawn. Late last year we were in Grasmere for a funeral, and Dr P succumbed to his usual urge to buy art materials in the Heaton Cooper studio. Verily, it is irresistable, even I usually come out of there with a postcard at the very least. On this occasion, and with his advice, I purchased a 2B pencil and a sketchbook, announcing that I was going to learn to draw. He was very encouraging. He told me to draw every day, so that was my NY resolution for 2019, and I have kept it.

Over the last decade, I have learned that I can learn to do things. Before that I just bumbled along not being very good at anything, but what I have found is that if I actually do make the effort, and do something a lot (like knitting), I can get reasonably good at it. I will never be amazingly talented at any of these things, but I started with no skill and then did it a lot until I got some skill, and now it is a pleasing thing to do.

It is the 8th February and I am not very good yet, but I’m okay with that. I think this might take years, but it is enjoyable, so that’s ok. I draw my cat a lot, but frustratingly she rarely adopts any position other than loaf; however she is good for that thing where you draw in a continuous line without stopping. I am struggling to resist spending lots of money on art materials, when I haven’t mastered the pencil yet. I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere, but I’m too shy to get it out in public.

Here is the cat, being a loaf. It’s what she does best. I like drawing whiskers and shading, so this works out nicely for both of us. We are both getting old; I seem to be the only one of us willing to learn new tricks.

 

Karen
  • Comments: 3
  • I do admire your persistence, Mr D. - Karen
  • Any chance that a poor retiree can get a shot of Smirnoff Black Label around here? - Mr.D.
  • I see she always has her back to you as well. Typical Maisel. - Pete
January 28, 2019

Through The Woods

My dad and I had been walking for a long time. I’d long since lost track of how long, and I had no idea where we were, but I knew that my dad was my hero and was keeping me safe. He had told me that something was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was. He told me that I didn’t need to know, that I wouldn’t understand even if he tried to explain it to me, and when he smiled at me it reassured me, and I trusted him. I knew that he wasn’t lying to me, because I could feel it too – something supernatural in the air around us, like a distant sound that you couldn’t quite hear. It had been there for so long that sometimes I would forget that it was there, and sometimes for a second I would think that a quality about it had changed, but it was all too fuzzy, and if you thought about it too hard, it slipped away. Like how you can see a star in your peripheral vision, but when you try to look right at it, it disappears.

It was late in the afternoon. We were walking along a grassy path cut through the middle of some woods, just him and me and the wind rustling the leaves. Up ahead I could see a shack of some sort, long since fallen into disrepair. I wondered if a witch lived there. My dad raised a finger and turned to me, and we both stopped dead still, holding our breath. For a second, he had that far-away look in his eye, and I knew what he was doing. He was listening, or sensing, I don’t know how to describe it. He was smarter than me, he knew more about what was wrong. He knew exactly what to listen out for, how to examine that strange feeling in detail. He’d been doing this for as long as I could remember – every few minutes he’d stop, and I’d stop too, and he would check to see if something had changed, some sign that this flaw in me, or him, or the world, might be getting better. And then his focus would return to me, and he’d smile, that same big reassuring smile that he smiled every time. The one that told me that things hadn’t changed; but that we’d keep on walking, and we’d keep on hoping, and we’d keep on surviving.

Inspired by a recurring dream that haunted me as a young boy

Pete