Monday, 26 January 2015

Strange Floor

I just have to share this:   Apparently it's actually a flat floor, but the mind can play some amazing tricks when given deceptive information.  Reminds me of those photos from the moon landings that people claim are fake because they don't look real.  This sure doesn't look real to me;  I think I'd fall over just trying to walk over that floor.

Evening with Frozen

Yesterday evening, Susanna and I had dinner, ice-wine and a movie: Frozen.   It was our first time seeing that movie.  All in all we liked it.  For one thing we both like musicals.
Charles (who arrived home just after we finished wacthing the movie) and I also think it is a much better movie than Tangled. The characters have more depth, actually grow as people (well Kristoff doesn't, but he's just window-dressing), and the story's theme is more universal and more worth paying attention to.

Before I get to the spoilers, I have one question.  How old are Elsa and Anna during the main body of the movie?  I don't believe the ages Disney has given.  Those ages feel wrong, and I suspect Disney stated those for political/legal reasons.  More about that below.

Spoiler warning:

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Toller Cranston Dies

I remember watching Toller Cranston every year on television.  Of course in those days many TVs were black and white, and we could watch all of 3 channels.  However, CBC always ran the Canadian and the World Figure Skating Championships, and I was 9 when he won the Canadian Championships the first time.  And now, today while the 2015 Canadian Championships were going on, we learn that he has died in Mexico at age 65.  Since I ejoyed skating, taking lessons every week, he was an inspiration.  His artistry, his skill and he was one of us...  Even when he stopped competing, he coached and choreographed programs for yet more inspirational skaters, some of which I had the chance to see skating, live rather than on the TV.   He was an individual and chose his own path with his style, his art.  While I didn't like the graphic art, I still had to admire that he didn't seem to live to others expectations, but to his own.  I'm not saying anything unique, but he was a part of our Canadian heritage, and I will remember his contribution to the sport, our country and his artistry.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Magic and Technology (and Science)

Most of us are familiar with Clarke's third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

I have just run across the reversed version: Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science

which makes a lot of sense.

This leads straight into my forward to my trilogy, asking what is magic?  If the magic can be analyzed, then is it scientific?  Since science is emminantly practical: being about what theories and methods work, and not about an externally imposed "correctness", this begs the whole question yet again: what is magic?   If you can answer the question, then you have analyzed the magic, so it isn't magic any more but belongs to scientific understanding.  So, this means that being "magical" is not a property of the phenomonon, but a property of the observer.  Something is magical because I don't understand it, rather than from an intrinsic property of the phenonomon.    No one can say that an object or event is magical.  Like beauty and the beholder of it, the "magicness" of the object or event properly belongs to the person making the statement.

There are those that might say that magic cannot be analyzed, that there are just some things in the world that are intrinsically inscrutable.  In that case, we can never know what magic is, by definition.  That means again that claims of magic can always be refuted, because the lack of understanding can always be due to insufficient study.  Why have we never found the elephant in the cherry tree?  We just haven't looked hard enough.

It is possible that there are things in the world that are inscrutable, or perhaps humans just don't have the brain-power to understand everything.  Personally, I suspect the latter is more likely to be true. So where does that leave magic?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Now that's acting, and good story-telling

Just saw Roman Holiday, the original version with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.  I've seen it before, more than once, but not since I started writing.   By modern movie standards it is considered cheesy and dated, and the story idea has been used so much since that it has become a cliche.  However, you can't blame the movie that started the idea for that.

I still like the movie, even though I wasn't even alive when it was made in 1953.  This time I watched the movie from the prespective of the acting and the script-writing.  Sure, it's slow by modern standards, with very little action, the guy doesn't get the girl in the end, and is indeed in significant financial trouble.  After all he turned down a $5,000 story and took on $600 debt (to his friend and to his boss).  In modern terms that's more like $100,000 and $12,000.   However, without many words, without hysterics or over-bold actions (okay, the music is corny by today's standards) the actors portray strong inner emotions while at the same time the script and acting creates characters that are honest to themselves and to the world around them.   At the end of the "holiday" they talk about what might be, lying outwardly while knowing full well that they are deceiving no-one.   The plot might be a little campy but the chemistry between the two actors and that inner honesty is very refreshing compared the run of the mill action-adventure characters that we see so much these days. 

Even the supporting cast's acting is the same.  When Princess Anna says "Your Excellency, I trust you will not find it necessary to use that word again. Were I not completely aware of my duty to my family and to my country, I would not have come back tonight... or indeed ever again!"  she doesn't shout, she doesn't cry, she doesn't break down.  She is calm, collected and firm, but we can see from her face not only how hard it was for her to say that, but how much she means it.  And then, the Embassador and the Countess say absolutely nothing, hardly move, don't lift a hand at all, yet we can see that they understand the strength of those words.

I have also seen the remake that came out in 1987.  Garbage.   I am not surprised that TV companies prefer to run the original.  However, this movie, and the fact that we do still see it run on TV, is proof that even these days story-telling doesn't have to be about violence, special effects, action, action and more special effects and more violence.