Sunday, May 18, 2014

I love Godzilla too.

Todd's Godzilla review originally posted as a comment here

Godzilla films are special to me. I saw my first one 36 years ago, Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster, on UHF56 out of Boston, one Saturday morning on Creature Double Feature. Since that day Godzilla has inhabited a significant portion of my fandom. I have been waiting since that day to see just what Hollywood could really do with the big guy, and I will say that Gareth Edwards and the cast and crew of Godzilla have brought something to the table that reaches my expectations in some ways, and falls short in others.
I'll start with what bothered me the most; I don't understand the choices made with the human side of this film.
Why kill Joe? It means literally nothing to Ford, and nothing to the audience. It doesn't imbue Ford with any emotion at all, not anger, not sadness, nothing. "Oh well, back to San Fran, I guess."
The movies spent 30 minutes connecting the audience to Joe, investing in Joe's needs, wants and reasons, and then we're dumped off on Ford, the human plank. I mean, the film starts with Joe essentially damning his own wife to a horrible death, and his redemption comes through having a couple data discs in a bag? Joe should have been given the opportunity to redeem his years of madness, allowed to move past "I'm right!" into "I can help!" That is called a character arc.
By removing Joe from the film, it takes away the only human foundation the film has built to that point, and it collapses.
How awesome would it have been to see Joe and Serizawa together as the Voice Of Science, with Ford on the inside with the ear of the military? Except the military won't listen, until the end, when they're all proven to be right. That would have been THREE character arcs!
But, I guess we shouldn't expect Gareth to understand that, considering his first film is really nothing more than an A to B road trip with monsters hanging around the joint. Yes, a gorgeously put together, excellently presented road trip, but nothing more. We have no right to expect anything more this time around, I guess.
And just what the hell is up with the Japanese kid on the monorail? Is this meant to show us how heroic Ford is? Or maybe how good he is at catching things? It doesn't raise the stakes, it doesn't add drama and it means nothing to the narrative. The whole sequence is an air bubble in a chocolate bar.
Amazingly, as bad as the choices made by the filmmakers are in regards to the human element, they certainly nailed the monsters.
The MUTOs are easily the greatest new addition to the menagerie of Godzilla foes in 40 years. I had seen the toy designs a few weeks ago, and I wasn't really impressed, and then the first couple shots of Wing Muto really do resemble the Cloverfield creature. That said, once I got a good look at them, the design came into its own and suddenly I need those unimpressive toys to go next to all my Bandai vinyl kaiju.
The way the MUTOs behave is even more of a surprise. These aren't mindless, city-smashing monsters, no supernatural forces at work, no hidden aliens pulling the strings, these are genuine animals. They aren't doing anything but swimming, eating and making little MUTOs, to paraphrase another film about a giant monstrous animal. This is so refreshing, and it makes the MUTOs feel real, and dangerous.
Of course, the real star of the show is Godzilla. I've read a lot lately about how this is a return to his roots, where he is scary again, and this isn't the good-guy-Godzilla of the 1970's. Really? That isn't what I saw.
"But Apex, he kills all those people with the tsunami and let us not forget the Golden Gate Bridge!" To that I will simply point at Gamera, and the collateral damage and death he causes throughout his films and yet remains "friend to all children."
If you look closely, in this film Godzilla doesn't implicitly attack anyone or anything but the MUTOs. He is one-minded in his quest to destroy them. He's not flaming entire divisions of military personel, or pushing landmarks over, or laying waste to city centers. For crying out loud, he swims UNDER the aircraft carrier and yet seems to swim fins up everywhere else! He gets in, gets it done, and gets out. At the end he looks directly at Serizawa (Tell your sister you were right...) and swims away.
This is not a villain. This is not a return to the nuclear allegory of 1954, and I don't care. He's AWESOME, in the original, biblical sense of the word. He is the check and balance, the sword of mother nature, and the lesson learned here is that we better figure out what the hell we're doing, because mother nature could point that sword at us!
The design is great, but is also very old. This isn't revolution, rather evolution, and that may have been the smartest choice the filmmakers made for the entire film.
Except the feet. Those f*cking feet. What were they thinking? Thank God we only see them once and when we see them we don't see the rest of him. Don't know what I'm on about? Go look at the toys. You'll see what I mean.
It may sound like I didn't enjoy this film, but in truth I loved it. I've seen it twice so far, and I'll see it a couple more times before it leaves the cinemas. As a Blockbuster Summer Movie it has it's problems, and as a fanboy of these films I was always going to bitch about them, but as an entry into this franchise, as a Godzilla Film, it's fantastic.

The Twice Forbidden Fruit...

For a while now I have been fascinated by apples. Ever since I learnt, from one of the thousands of docos (Apples: British to the Core) I watch, how the species of apples I love came about and are propagated.

Now there's this... Joe Davis plans to use synthetic biology to insert a DNA-encoded version of Wikipedia into the apple and create a living, literal tree of knowledge.
“I can fit the whole Wikipedia in a small forest, in—let’s call it a very large grove,” he explained.

It's a whopper of a read - especially at this time of night.


As an aside - I worked super hard today (reflective teaching practise) - has been helpful that I am dramatically reducing the amount of time I am logged into Facebook and the amount of times per day I am checking it.
It was getting to the stage where I forgot what to do with the rest of the internet.

Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC Family Tribute

It's that time again (when I post the list of family members that I know of that served in some capacity).
I am in Melbourne for this one - interestingly feeling guilty (?) that I am not at the Nelson Dawn Service this morning!


For me (and everyone else I know) not a glorification of war but a day of remembrance and respect for those men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who suffered trauma no people should have to suffer in order that we are among the lucky people of the world who have the right to complain about things like the "glorification of war" on social media such as twitter and facebook.

While I am standing in the chill and lifting-dark of early morning at the Dawn Service I am thinking about how cold, dirty, sick, hungry, lonely, sore and scared the majority of soldiers were in that transitional time between night duties and day duties on front lines.
I also often think about the agonising unbearable unknowingness that people at home must have felt in a time before skype, satellites and high speed internet.
Not my idea of glory, that's for sure.

Thank you to those people I know of in my family who were changed immeasurably and in some cases lost their lives and futures as a consequence of war.

I do my best to remember you, especially today.


Uncle Bob Silcock  1917 - 1999
WW2 #296993
4th Brigade 20th Battalion 2nd NZEF 1939 - 1945


Uncle Bob Papps 1922 -
WW2 Navy

Uncle Les Papps 1923 - 2006
WW2 reg# 618429. 
Compulsory military training. He was called to service overseas including Egypt and Japan. 
 
Uncle Richard Papps 1931 -
Served in army in Malaysia

Uncle Jack Park 1926 -

Great Uncle Edgar Noble Papps 1908 - 1998

Great Uncle Charlie Papps 1883 - 1943

Great Uncle Henry (Harry) Papps 1878 - 1958



Great Uncle George Samuel Papps 1874 - 1948


Great Uncle Arthur Papps 1888 - 1977
WW1 #33149 Lieutenant New Zealand Rifle Brigade


Great Uncle Herman Wendleborn 1896 - 1962
WW1 #7/1160 & WW2

Upon enlisting in 1915, Herman stated his year of birth as 1894 to appear older and therefore be eligible for service. After being wounded at Gallipoli (head wound) and spending some time recovering in Egypt, Herman was sent home to New Zealand on 11 February 1916.

At the outbreak of WWII, Herman re-enlisted for duty with the Home Guard. He again changed his date of birth, this time to make himself seem younger (40 instead of 43). He served at Papakura Military Camp, Waiouru Military Camp, and HMNZS Devonport until his discharge on 2 January 1944.


Great Uncle Laurence Wendelborn 1893-1918
WW1 #7/291 Corporal

Laurence served in Egypt, Gallipoli and Western Europe.
His military awards included the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on around the 7th August 1915 and admitted to hospital on the 9th. He was discharged back to base and readmitted to hospital a few times throughout August, through September and into Dec 1915. On 13 Nov 1918 he was admitted to the Featherston Military Camp Hospital in Wellington and died on 15 November 1918, age 25.

Great Uncle Darkie Wendelborn 1884 - 1952


Clifford Wendelborn 1914-1995
WW2

Lance Corporal Clifford Laurence Wendelborn - serial number 16215. Clifford served as an infantryman, despatch rider, tankman and driver during WWII. He repeatedly refused promotion. 


Ron Wendelborn
 WW2 Reg #: 21111 NZ Army Corp 1939/1945 

He returned to New Zealand on 23 January 1946. During the trip back, Ronald requested a demotion from Sergeant back to Corporal.

Jack Leslie Friend 1920 - 25 May 1941

WW2 reg #8378
Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), 1st Echelon 20 Canterbury and Otago Battalion
Died of his battle wounds in Crete

Stanley James Wendelborn 1919 - 1945
WW2 Gunner, New Zealand Artillery, 4 Field Regiment
Died at war - Cassino, Italy

Henry (Harry) John Windleborn 1910 - 1988

WW2 Chief Petty Officer Airman
Military awards include  the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Pacific Star (Burma clasp), War Medal 1939-45 and the New Zealand War Service Medal.

Percy Herbert Windleburn 1885 – 1945
WW1

New Zealand Mounted Rifles, Reserve Battalion. # 80399. When he enlisted in 1918, Percy gave his birth year as 1890 rather than 1885, making it appear that he was only 28. 



Lawerence (Lon) CF Windleburn 1897 – 1974
WW1 New Zealand Expeditionary Force 42nd Reinforcements D Company

Philip Edward (Tulip) Windleborn 1920 - 1990
WW2 Korean War reg # 72279 & 207892
New Zealand Field Artillery, 29 Light Anti Aircraft Battery: Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) & Kayforce.

Military Awards
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Pacific Star
  • Italy Star
  • Defence Medal
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • New Zealand War Service Medal
  • Korea Medal 1950-53
  • The United Nations Medal (Korea)
Henry Charles Schroder 1895 - 1971
WW1 reg #: 26461 New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 14th Reinforcements New Zealand Engineers

Percival August Edward Schroder 1896 -
WW1 Reg # 35501  NZ Rifle Brigade 11th Reinforcements 4th Battalion, (H Company )

Albert Charles SCHRODER 1874 - 1929
WW1 reg# 72861. New Zealand Expeditionary Force 37th Reinforcements C Company

Bernard Austin Schroder 1897 - 1956
WW1 reg# 25/570. NZ Rifle Brigade 3rd Battalion, C Company

Cecil Lawerence Schroder 1883 - 1968
WW1 reg# 59463 New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 31st Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company

Henry James Schroder 1881 - ?
WW1 reg#25/144   New Zealand Expeditionary Force 3rd Battalion, B Company

Arthur Charles Schwass 1905 - 1982
WW1 reg#74550  New Zealand Expeditionary Force 40th Reinforcements E Company


Leo Philip Schwass 1897 - 1918
WW1 reg#48413  New Zealand Expeditionary Force 26th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company killed in action 15 July 1918 Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France


Sidney Charles Schwass
WW1 Reg# 29307 New Zealand Expeditionary Force 18th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company

      Lewis Henry Windleborn 1893 – 1917
       WW1, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 2 Battalion, 13 Company

      Polygon Wood (Polygoneveld, or Bois de Polygone), named for its shape, was a large wood near the Ypres-Menin road at Veldhoekn (north east of Ypres), Belgium.
      A prominent artificial mound in the wood, called the Butte, had been used by the Belgian army as a shooting range prior to 1914. Fought over during the First Battle of Ypres in October/November 1914, it thereafter remained in German hands until Third Battle of Ypres (aka The Battle of Passchendaele) in 1917.


      The NZ Division went to Polygon Wood during the winter of 1917-1918 (about October). It was a very cold winter. NZ suffered about 3000 losses during that winter in Polygon Wood. They carried out the attack on Polderhoek Chateau on the right hand side of Polygon Wood on 3 December.
       On the 13 December Lewis was killed in action here.
      At the end of February 1918 the NZ Division were relieved from their post.




      Lest We Forget 
      .

      Wednesday, April 23, 2014

      Lucky us....

      Asteroid impact risks 'under appreciated'
      A visualisation showing where sizeable asteroids have hit the Earth in recent years has been released by the B612 Foundation. The US-based group, which includes a number of former Nasa astronauts, campaigns on the issue of space protection. It hopes the visualisation will press home the idea that impacts are more common than we think.

      Wednesday, January 29, 2014

      Al Bean Rocks

      "I realise, if you go through any endeavour, any journey across town or to the moon and back, all that matters is that you share the experience with people that you love. That's what makes life special. As ultimately that's... all there is. That's really all there is." - Alan Bean, Apollo 12 Astronaut, 4th person to walk on the Moon


      Monday, November 11, 2013

      Ned Kelly (no relation)


      On this day in 1880 the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly, was hanged at Melbourne Gaol. His legacy is controversial -One person's hero another person's villan?


      I think sometimes you can't be so black and white on these things - especially when reflecting on different times that none of us can directly relate to.

      One thing is for sure --- he had some seriously rocking hair!!!

      Friday, September 6, 2013

      Arthur C Clarke

      "A teacher who can be replaced by a machine, should be."



      Which you can think about in at least two different ways if you follow the work of Sugata Mitra.

      Monday, September 2, 2013

      Serious Signage...

      Saw this sign today (on tv, not in person!)...
       

      That sign means business. It is not mucking around.
      It is a serious sign!!

      I am wondering what signs you might have already passed before you got to where that sign is!


      Saturday, August 24, 2013

      Two Sides of the Same Coin

      Hating on the people obsessed with the prospect of Ben Affleck playing Batman in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie when people are killing their own people in Syria with chemical weapons?

      Yeah, me too - until I thought about it a bit more...


      Bottom line is I'd much rather see pictures of Ben Affleck and hear people's opinions on his ability to play Batman than see children suffering the effects of a chemical weapon attack or see film of dead toddlers lying on the ground in the arms of their dead parents.

      You?


      While some may say that the whole current flurry of activity around Ben playing Batman is indicative of just how shallow and celebrity obsessed our society has become....it is ironic, then, that if more people in Syria were as celebrity obsessed with his ability to play Batman as 'we' are there might be a less dire set of conflicts there right now :(

      #that'sjustcrazy!






      Wednesday, July 24, 2013

      Prince of Cambridge

      Finally the Great Kate Wait is over!



      Now the Great Name Wait Debate is on ...

      Supposedly James or George. I don't think either - but most certainly not George seeing that the last Prince of Cambridge was called George and he was deeply in Queen Victoria's bad books!
      George is a very cool name and one I am much in favour of... but I just can't see them going with it considering the Prince of Cambridge connection.

      I don't think James because of the Scottish connection and the snub at Wales that may be considering William is a Prince of Wales - although now he is technically the Duke of Cambridge.

      So, Richard is out... obviously! No one wants to have to see King Dick written anywhere.
      Charles won't be considered even though it is grandfather's name - because grandfather is still alive and supposedly to be King soon and same goes for William.
      Henry is another possibility except it would be inappropriate considering the baby already just knocked Prince Harry down to 4th in succession - let alone also steal his king name!
      Other possibilities include Edmund (uncool) and Edward (could be that!)
      There really aren't that many possibilities according to tradition which seems to always be drawn upon in these events.
      It would be great if they picked Andrew!
      Ernest seems unlikely (although cooler than Edmund but shortens to Ernie...).

      I think, if not Andrew, I would like Albert (shortened to Bert is still cooler than Ernie!).

      EDIT: Please note... I LOVE Ernie (and Bert) but Bert is always going to sound more grown up and responsible than Ernie and, after all, we are naming a future King not a loveable puppet!

      I wonder if they would pick Arthur...




      Sunday, June 30, 2013

      Wombat babies

      I propose that baby wombats are almost as cute as baby musk oxen! (evidence below)








      Saturday, June 1, 2013

      Modern Day Pangea...

      I found this image today and I am quite intrigued by it - have not done any research to see if it is geographically accurate but it is food for (my) thought anyway! (btw the picture should be a link)


      Thursday, May 30, 2013

      Thursday Morning Road Patrol

       Frost this morning was. Super heavy!! Brrrrrr!!!
      Cars well behaved though... Not like last week when I was half way across the first double landed side with traffic stopped , flouro 
      vest on, waving flours flag with child in tow and car speed through on the far lane a metre in front of us...


      I

      Thursday, April 25, 2013

      ANZAC Day 2013


      For the fallen, and those who came back, and those who stayed home, and those who conscientiously objected...



      Many Nelsonians turned out for my local ANZAC Dawn Service this morning and our nearby township of Motueka's service where the Motueka Baptist Church Minister Lyall Scheib told those gathered "May we never take for granted the freedom we enjoy". Amen to that!
      I do believe they are mistaken to say, in the article, that this year is the 99th commemoration of Gallipoli.
      We do often hear about and associate ANZAC services with Gallipoli as the landing date (25th April 1915) is the date in April that we use for ANZAC Day and NZ/Australia remembrance. I was pleased to hear reports from a few different Dawn Services mentioning lesser known campaigns this year such as the Maori Battalion's efforts to regain Florence, Italy and the Anzacs trek into Ethiopia to oust the guerrilla Italian troups.

      We had a lovely service this morning - my only complaint was that the speaker rushed the Ode of Remembrance - a pivotal part of the service and, in my opinion, not to be read without pause.

       I am including the painting below this year. It is by Bob Kerr and depicts NZ conscientious objector, Archibald Baxter, enduring "Field Punishment no.1". You can read more about it here.



      This ANZAC Day I have learnt about a very special ANZAC service held at a small memorial at Flock House near Bulls to commemorate extraordinary members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force whose contributions are often overlooked. Horses, riders, and supporters of the Bess Society, gathered again this morning to pay particular tribute to Bess, one of about three or four New Zealand horses to serve through the entire WWI campaign and return home. Her war service is etched into the stone: Main body 1914, Egypt 1915, Sinai 1916, Palestine 1917-1918, France 1918, Germany 1919, England 1920.




      You can find more info here and here. There is also a lot of interesting info here.
      Horses in war - a particularly poignant subject for me...

      And of course, no ANZAC Day will ever seem complete to me without my 2011 blogpost honouring my ancestors involved with military operations in the 1900s.

      Thinking about going to Gallipoli for ANZAC 2015...

      Wednesday, April 24, 2013

      It's not raining.

      I just bought 2 unicycles.
      I also just ruined a perfectly good snack by savagely munching the inside of my cheek.