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Tony Grist

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St Botolph, Northfleet [Oct. 27th, 2016|03:35 pm]
Tony Grist

Detail of sedilia
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The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum [Oct. 26th, 2016|10:41 am]
Tony Grist
All cities are one city- Munich, Berlin, Milan, Paris, London, Moscow, New York-  all merge together;  all are part of the same rat-run, presided over by the same officials in airless offices- wielding an arbitrary power of life and death- pursuing an agenda that doesn't have to be explained to any national government or electorate. The streets all look the same:  the buildings oppress and confine, the people swarm, the traffic crawls, the surveillance cameras clock it all ...

Why on earth do we choose to live like this?

But here comes our man- a fragment broken free from the collective, using the powers it taught him to hit back at it and smash it up- a man turned robot turned man again.

The Bourne movies distill the essence of the thriller as formulated by Buchan. The hunter is the hunted is the hunter. Simple as that. No bedroom dalliance, no martinis, no stopping to draw breath, just run, run, run, fight, run...
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White Elephant [Oct. 25th, 2016|02:28 pm]
Tony Grist
Jet liners are a 20th century technology and long overdue to be replaced by something more efficient and less polluting- like airships, anti-gravity machines (flying saucers) or transporters (as in Star Trek) 

The need we have to whizz all over the place to talk to one another has been obviated by video conferencing et al. Business and government haven't woken up to this yet- but they will.

Air travel is so unpleasant these days- for all sorts of reasons- it's a wonder people still put themselves through it. The next generation- never having acquired the habit-  will have better sense.

Brexit is already causing people to take their holidays at home instead of Magaluf or Phuket. As we get poorer- as we almost certainly will as an unsustainable global economy goes pear-shaped- we'll be globetrotting less and less.

Opposition to the expansion at Heathrow is powerful- and has champions in high places. Already the decision (still warm from the oven) has triggered a by-election. It's an issue that could wreck this divided government with its very small majority.

There you are: Five excellent reasons why the third runway at Heathrow will almost certainly never be built.
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19th Century Prints [Oct. 25th, 2016|11:54 am]
Tony Grist
There was a vogue towards the end of the last century for nicely framed 19th century prints. You can tell there was a vogue and that it's over now because the junk shops and charity shops are full of them. Nobody seems to want them- except for me and Ailz- and we snap them up whenever we see them. Yesterday we bought three that had been reduced to £1.49 each- and one of them was by Clarkson Stanfield- a "name" artist. One of these days they'll come back into fashion and then everybody who got rid of them will be sorry.

When I say it's by Clarkson Stanfield I mean he did the original artwork. It was rare for these chaps to do their own engraving. I haven't looked into the market- and I don't know whether the artist's name raises the value- but we have in our collection two Stansfields, a Wilkie, a Landseer and - tarantara- a Turner.
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Synecdoche, New York [Oct. 24th, 2016|09:54 am]
Tony Grist
Another brain-scrambler from Charlie Kaufman- and the film Fellini might have made if he'd been a cerebral, nihilistic New Yorker instead of an Italian hedonist- or- in other words a kind of miserabilist version of 81/2. A valetudinarian theatre director gets given the money to realise the theatrical masterwork of his dreams- and sets about dramatising his own very dull life on a monumental scale. After a while art and reality become inextricably intertwined. Freaky idea, brilliantly realised- with some good jokes- but utterly joyless. Philip Seymour Hoffman is in default mode as the shuffling shlub of a hero- and you want to clap him on the back and tell him to go eat some spaghetti, drink some vino rosso, go for a walk on the beach...
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Playing The Game [Oct. 23rd, 2016|01:44 pm]
Tony Grist
Some of those who say we're living in a computer simulation seem to mean it as a literal statement of fact. I don't think it's that; I think it's just an analogy- but a very good analogy- and one that can be pushed quite far.

It implies a lot of things I believe to be the case.

1. That our reality exists within a much larger reality .

2. That the selves we experience are avatars being operated by much larger selves that exist within the larger reality.

3. That what we're engaged in is a game.

4 That we're playing it because we want to.

5. That our avatars are not our true selves or even scaled down versions of our true selves- but characters our larger selves have chosen to play.

6. That the game is difficult because what would be the point of one that wasn't?

7. That our larger selves choose the level of difficulty they're comfortable with.

8. That the death is of an avatar is only the death of an avatar. The player has the choice to boot up another one or leave the game and go do something else.
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Nature Notes [Oct. 23rd, 2016|11:49 am]
Tony Grist
I felt something tickling the back of my neck and reached round to find what it was- and it stung me and buzzed off. I found it on the stairs later- a very sleepy wasp- and persuaded it to go outside.

BTW Ailz taught the other day me how to tell a wasp from a bee. You look at their waists. Wasps have them, bees don't.
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Good And Evil [Oct. 22nd, 2016|03:24 pm]
Tony Grist
If all the world's a stage- or a computer simulation as some contemporary thinkers say- then our morality is as illusory as everything else about us. There are no good actions or evil actions- just things going on, events in sequence, stories- and no Good and Evil in the abstract either. Is it wicked of the actor playing Macbeth to enact the murder of the actor playing Duncan? Of course not. The actor playing Duncan is still alive, sitting in his changing room, washing off the ketchup. When the actor playing Macbeth comes off stage he congratulates him on how well the play is going.
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Gladiator Revisited [Oct. 22nd, 2016|11:44 am]
Tony Grist
I'm not a classical historian so I asked wikipedia how accurate Scott's picture of ancient Rome is and it told me "not very".

The politics are simplistic. Why should we care about the people of Rome when we only see them as a baying mob?

The metaphysics are not at all simplistic. Gladiator is a film about death. How to live in its shadow. How to meet it. The afterlife sequences- in glistening monochrome- are a triumph.

Scott's greatest talent is for world building. His greatest defect is humourlessness. You belive in his Roman Empire- even though it bears little resemblance to anything that ever really existed - but you wish it wasn't so glum.

I'd forgotten how much time is taken up with intense, twilit tete a tetes.

Thank heaven for the actors- especially Crowe, Harris and Reed- who wring every last nuance of tenderness, humanity- even humour- from the portentous dialogue.  Mind you, portentous doesn't necessarily mean bad. There are some great lines: "If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled; for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity."

The CGI- ground-breaking at the time- still looks pretty good. It's a very handsome film.
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Really Tough Kid Drives Make-Believe Jeep [Oct. 22nd, 2016|09:27 am]
Tony Grist
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