Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts from November 2005

Film review

In which we detect a foul-smelling villain

Last night: to the local cinema for the first time in ages, with my friend Mystery Filmgoer, to see Harry Potter and the Empire That Struck Back Goblet of Fire whilst it was still on. As I’ve not seen any of the three preceding films I wasn’t too hot on the idea of going at first; but I have recently read the book; so I thought the film would be an interesting comparison.

I didn’t like the plot structure of the book, because I thought the final rabbit-out-of-the-hat plot twist was far too unshadowed and unexpected. The film completely solves that, by actually mentioning the main Evil Villain* more than once before the end, and adding in lots of extra clues along the way. Plus, he is definitely one of the sexiest evil villains I’ve seen for a long time.** An awful lot of subplots were stripped out of the book, but it still feels like a very crammed film, with far too many points left unexplained. If I hadn’t read the book, I don’t think I’d have had a clue what was happening at some points.

In other ways, it’s very unbalanced. The middle act is mostly light-hearted teenage embarrasment comedy; then the ending swings completely round to gloom, darkness, and foreboding. There’s nothing happy about the ending at all; just death, destruction, and the appearance of the real Evil Villain Who Is More Evil Than Anyone Else.***

The effects are all very, well, magical, and the design does seem very solid and well-thought. It does seem that if you’re a British wizard you’re expected to be a big fan of Victorian Gothic and the Arts and Crafts movement; and the design of Hogwarts’ bathing piers made me think more than anything of the Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway. Like all British films, too, you have the fun of spotting all the usual British actors: That Bloke From The Fast Show, That Bloke From Drop The Dead Donkey, That Bloke Who You’re Sure Was Dead By Now, and Ooh, Isn’t He The Sexy One Who’s Going To Be The Next Doctor?****

I had a good time watching it, but it’s definitely not a stand-alone film, what with the lack of explanation and the dark, anti-climatic ending. The point of which, I suppose, is that in a year’s time I will probably want to see the next one.

* I don’t mean Voldemort, I mean the chap who is his Evil Sidekick and actually does all the dirty work

** although Mystery Filmgoer disagreed loudly on this

*** “My evil overlord’s got no nose!” “How does he smell?” “Awful!!!”

**** I think Mystery Filmgoer was probably going to slap me if I called him sexy again

Christmas shopping

In which we ponder a potential office faux pas

Christmas shopping for the second weekend running. I might not have bought any presents yet still, but I’m well stocked-up on cards now.

Stupid social worry #273: will people at the office mind when lots of them end up getting the same design of card? All the 10- or 20-card multipacks, you see, only have one or two different designs in. I’m worried that everyone at work is going to be comparing notes: “Oh, he gave you the same design as him, but I got the same one as her.” Which, clearly, is nonsense; but that doesn’t stop me worrying about it.

Just Like Christmas

In which it feels like Yuletide for once

Yesterday,* we had the first snow of winter. When I left the house in the morning it was cold but dry; ten minutes from the office a few flakes started to appear in the air, and by the time I was inside at my desk everywhere already had a good covering.

Today, I got up, and the snow was gone. I had to go in to work again; it was the first time I’d been working out of hours, in my normal clothes,** since the Christmas holiday week last year. The weather was cold, windy, the air clear with a hint of rain. Normal English winter weather, in other words, and with everything in combination I felt seasonal for the first time this winter – it was Just Like Christmas.

(Sleighbells, to fade.)

* When I didn’t post, as I was rushed off my feet at work – hence going in today – and had been invited round to Colleague M’s mum’s house for tea afterwards.

** Even though I spend most of my waking time at work, and I wear office clothes five days out of seven, I still think of the other clothes as my normal ones.

Suggestions needed

In which I'm at a loss what to get people for Christmas

I need help.

I have no idea what to get my mother for Christmas. No clue at all.

She’s the worst person in the world to buy presents for. She doesn’t like smelly things. She doesn’t wear makeup or perfume. She’s on a strictly-controlled diet. She rarely wears jewellery. She has so many unread books and unwatched DVDs that it’ll take her a year or two to get through them all. She doesn’t like ornaments, because they complicate dusting. In other words, she’s awful when Christmas and her birthday come around.

So, any ideas?


In which the Tree of Everything comes to mind

Feeling dark and downtrodden still, and nothing creative has been coming to mind. When I’m home from work, all I want to do is stretch out on the sofa and let my mind idle. When I’m at work, I’m too busy, well, working, rebuilding and reindexing database after database in desperate attempts to shave percentage points off their performance.

When I sit back and let my mind idle, there are usually a few images that float into my head by themselves. Lately, when I relax, I start thinking about yggdrasil, the tree that binds the worlds together. I’m not sure why, but it helps to remind me that everything we do is interconnected.


Or, noting an irony

Just a short note today: in the midst of a newspaper article on proposals to give the Prime Minister his own private airliner, one interesting snippet of information. Can you guess which government minister has one of the highest air-travel mileages of the Cabinet, spewing out carbon dioxide by the ton? Yes, of course, it’s the Environment Secretary! Hurrah!

The season

In which things get dark

This is the time of year when the black moods usually hit. I’ve heard of SAD, and maybe it’s that. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that the things I’m scared of, when I think back, all seem to have happened at this time of year too. When it gets back round to November again, the dark fears all start to come back.

The Mother has been in a dark mood lately too. She doesn’t like to talk about it, but I know she’s always had depression, and has always tried to hide it and pretend it’s not a problem. I can tell she’s having a bad time too; so maybe it is all about the season.

The Return Of Colleague M

Or, someone has a plan to improve my love live

Colleague M has a cunning plan. A cunning plan to help me get a date.

This cunning plan is based around M’s theory that people suddenly get a lot more attractive when they’re unavailable. Bluntly put, if someone’s already taken, you’re much more likely to start crushing on them.

So, to help me look more attractive, M has invited me out for the day. “It’s not a date,” I was immediately told, “and I’m not going to snog you.” But, once word surreptitiously gets around the office,* however much we say “we’re just friends” noone will actually believe us. Therefore, everyone will think I’m taken, and will therefore be more likely to try to pull me when they get drunk at the Christmas party next month.

I’m not entirely convinced that this is going to work. If it does, though, I’ll keep you posted.

* And, indeed, it already has. It hasn’t even happened yet, and people are already raising eyebrows and saying things like: “have a good weekend, you two“.


In which I am accosted

Popping into town at lunchtime, ambling down a side street, I passed a dirty-looking one-legged man in a wheelchair.

“‘Scuse me, mate,” he said.

“Yes…?” I replied, warily. I couldn’t see this conversation going well.

“Are you from here?”


“Have you got any ten-pees?”

“No,” I replied. I had no idea if I had or not, but I definitely couldn’t see this conversation getting any better.

“Have you got any money at all, mate?”

“Not much,” I answered. “Why?”

“I’m from Doncaster, and I need to get back home. I need another £4.50 for the train fare.”

“Really,” I said, trying my best to sound unbelieving. I’ve never had beggars try to pull this trick on me since I moved here, so it made a change to hear it again. I also noticed that his accent was nothing like a Doncaster one.

“I’m a diabetic,” he said, pulling a hypodermic from a pocket of his dirty cardigan. “Look. Diabetic. I need to get back to Doncaster.”

If I was quicker at thinking, I might have said something meaningful and concerned, like: isn’t it convenient for you that you can wheel straight off the train into the street when you get to Doncaster?* If I was more violent, I might have just grabbed the handles of his chair, kidnapped him, and wheeled him onto the next Doncaster-bound train, with instructions to the guard to definitely make sure he got off at the right stop. Being me, I just started walking onwards.

“I’VE GOT NO LEGS, MATE!” he shouted at me as I walked away. I felt like turning round and replying: look, I can at least count to one.

* For people lucky enough never to have to go there, or change trains there: if you are in a wheelchair, there are no public routes to, from or between the platforms at Doncaster station. The only thing you can do is to ask the staff to put you in the parcels-trolley lift.


In which people want to leave

After we had one office leaving party at the weekend, it seems everyone now is trying to do the same thing. People are updating their CVs on their lunchbreak, and flicking through the job pages of the local paper. My manager has been asking why Big Dave has been leaving early so much lately. I have no idea, and I told him so. Privately, I assume our manager has been going through the same thoughts as me: is he leaving early to go off to interviews? I don’t blame him if he is, because he doesn’t exactly look happy in his current place.