Archive for February, 2006

The baah-ley don’t you know…

Feb 9th, 2006

Today I managed to rope myself into going to see a ballet, and despite it being ‘Edward Scissorhands’ I still half expected something pretentious, inaccessible and dull. Still, I thought, you’ve got to try these things once. Although I doubt anyone has been on their deathbed thinking, ‘Damnit, if only I’d seen a ballet,’ I’m sure there are plenty of people who have never seen one despite a vague plan to ‘do it some-time.’

Now I must admit to liking the theatre, even if I don’t actually go all that often. There’s something vaguely ‘magical’ that it has, that the cinema has either lost, perhaps just through familiarity, or half an hour of previews. I know there’s a perfect word to capture what I want to say, only its slipped my mind.

But onto the production itself. Well although I don’t have much to compare it with I was pleasantly surprised, not only was it accessible but I actually enjoyed it. It was completely lacking in any pretentiousness, and had a style which was almost ‘cartoon like’ in nature, using a caricature of the well established Hollywood version of Suburban America and the characters within. Not only that but these characters were shown not just through different clothing and roles, but also in the manner in which they danced and moved.

My fears that it would be difficult to understand were also unfounded. It was surprising how much could be conveyed without the need for words. In some ways the ‘cartoon’ style helped here as it allowed for exaggerated actions, without them looking unnecessarily cheesy or grandiose. Secondly the choreography was excellent, seamlessly combining the movements associated with progressing the plot with more set-piece dance moments, which were themselves woven into the presented world as much as possible.

Once again my preconceptions were dashed when I was surprised by the variety in the styles of dance. The stereotyped image of the ballet I held before hand was one mainly of pirouettes and leotards, and although I realised that this was probably inaccurate I had still imagined that the style of dance was fairly rigidly defined. However ‘Edward Scissorhands’ embraced a number of styles from what I would consider ‘Traditional ballet,’ through dance more closely resembling ‘rock and roll,’ to the more general choreographed movements around the set. Clearly my prior understanding of ballet was deeply limited, and instead it is the central role of choreography and (non-vocal?) music to a production that is important, rather than a set style of dance.

Technically the production was excellent. Scene changes were smooth and barely noticeable and yet managed to produce dramatic changes in mood and setting. Not only did the set fly in and out un-noticed, but it did so without any disruption to the action on stage, leading to a number of moments of genuine surprise when the back-lights went up to reveal a completely different set to the one which was present a moment before. The set design also managed to match the character of the rest of the production, and produced a contracts between the Gothic opening and suburban America.

Overall I was very impressed. Although my experience is limited, and thus I am unable to compare it with other productions, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and rate it highly on its own merits. Yet ‘Edward Scissorhands’ was presented to me representing more than just itself, and also managed to destroy my preconceptions of what ballet was. While I’m sure there are a few ballets which will lie closely along my preconceptions the concept itself is no longer a turn-off, and I’m fully prepared to go along to another ballet in future, especially if its as good as ‘Edward Scissorhands.’

Sony? Portable Reader SystemPRS-500

Feb 5th, 2006

To put it simply I want one of these. I’ve wanted an eBook reader for a while, as I get terrible guilt trips every time I print off the twenty odd pages associated with a PDF file. (Research papers are distributed in PDF format.) Unfortunately, Sony’s prior effort, the Libre, was so wrapped up in DRM that it would only support their native format, which even then had such stupid restrictions on its use as to make it near useless. (Yay! Time expiring books!)
Cost wise though things could get a bit expensive, especially as Sony removed their initial price of $350 (?230) from their website, meaning that an even higher price seems likely.
Meanwhile I’ll be keeping my eye out. The Libre was linux based, raising the possibility of user based hacks freeing up the restrictions and allowing me to find a cheap copy on eBay.

Karen “F’ing” Samson

Feb 2nd, 2006

Of course, that isn’t her name. That’s probably fairly obvious as few people have profanities for their middle names, but what I mean it that it isn’t even her name sans profanity. Indeed, names have been changed to protect the innocent, or rather to protect me, when the innocent decide to do a vanity search on Google and turf up this blog.
You see, I don’t actually know Karen Samson, but I do get her mail. In fact I get more post addressed to her than I do addressed to myself. While the rest of the prior occupants of this flat decided to set up mail-forwarding services Karen “F’ing” Samson declined, and as a result it is now our responsibility to forward letters on, that and those belonging to several other occupants who lived here God knows how long ago. Meanwhile the actual amount of mail directed to this house, intended for current occupants, is tiny.
But what really surprises me is the kind of letter that arrive, sometimes even Birthday cards or Christmas cards, along with letters that appear to be from banks or prior places of employment. Its the cards that confuse me most, some of them come from abroad and must have been doing so for a few years, given the rolling six month contract. on this place. Do these people not think to tell friends and relatives that they’ve moved? Granted in many cases it is just the case of moving somewhere else in Edinburgh, but still, I wouldn’t want my post going somewhere else first.
But I’m at a loss as to how to solve the problem. I’d set up mail forwarding but that costs money and has to be renewed regularly. As it is the mail tends to pile up into a big heap on the telephone cabinet before being forwarded en mass. It appears that neither the delay nor the sudden arrival of a bulk of letter at the other end has given anyone the hint. I’m tempted to write a letter, particularly to Dr. Samson and suggest that they may wish to pass their new address on to everyone who may be interested, but seeing as they clearly haven’t got the idea yet I am not sure what good that will do.