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The Ice Beneath Her

June 27th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

I have just finished reading my first Scandinavian thriller. It is called The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe, due to be published on September 8th.

This is what I thought about it…

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Foorball idea

June 26th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Three live Euro 2016 games on the TV today. Live football is good because it means you can watch for at least two hours without Nigel Farage’s gurning face popping up. A lot of the play yesterday was best described (as it was by one of the presenters) as ‘for the afficianados’. In other words, quite dull.

In contrast, the France/Ireland game today was great, and I think it was because of that penalty in the second minute. Some of the other games were played so cautiously, it almost felt like they were playing for the penalty shootout right from the start. So I decided that an early goal is good. So why not start all knockout games with an early goal?

Here is the idea: toss a coin and give the winner a one-goal head start. Sounds unfair, but it would make the games more lively. The other half of the idea is that the first goal scored by the disadvantaged side counts double. Think about it. A team starts 1-0 down but if they score they go 2-1 up.

Actually it might work in normal games too. No more parking the bus and settling for a draw straight away. Right from the kick off there would be one team needing to score just to get a point, and then if they score, the other lot need to score.

I am going to suggest it to whoever is in charge of FIFA. I might enclose a tenner with it because I know they like that sort of thing there.

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Fire it up

June 13th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook that Busta Rhymes was lpaying in London and how tempting it was to go see him. A few days after that our daughter e-mailed me e-tickets to the show as an early father’s day treat. Which was nice. I think the only way I get to do anything now is if somebody else makes the decision for me. Left to myself I would think about all the travel hassle and other logistics and not bother. [Read more →]

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Lets hear it for prejudice

May 31st, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

We all like to think we are not prejudiced, but I will happily confess to a few little prejudices. Mind you a prejudice is supposed to be an unreasonable opinion and, like all prejudiced people, I think these are perfectly reasonable and they save time.

The first regards outward appearance. I know you should not make snap judgements based on appearances but when I see somebody wearing a Bluetooth headset permanently they are going to have to work ten times harder than anybody else to make me take them seriously.

The next one is a useful filter for comments on the internet. Sometimes you see a comment thread on a bulletin board, or on a newspaper article or on a Facebook post that is so big you just can’t read all of them so a handy rule of thumb is to ignore any comment that contains the words “should of”, “could of”, “must of” or similar. I am not sufficiently competent in all aspect of the language to be a grammar nazi, but that doesn’t mean I have no standards at all.

Another litmus test of whether to listen to somebody’s argument is if the phrase “we are only a small island” is used. It is OK if the person is referring to Rockall, Scarp, Canvey, or even Malta or Tuvalu but if they are referring to Britain I have to restrain myself from ranting that we are not *a* small island, we are a collection of islands, the largest of which is the 9th largest island in the world. I bet I would feel even worse if I lived in Northern Ireland.

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Double hats

May 24th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I have been meaning to moan about this for a long time now, and tonight I am going to do it. It is the topic of councillors who serve on both a borough/district and a county council. [Read more →]

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The Hateful Eight

May 24th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

At the weekend I watched the latest Tarantino film, The Hateful Eight, which I had a slightly strange reaction to. It is not that I didn’t enjoy it but rather that I enjoyed it more in retrospect than I did at the time. This is partly because it is a very long film which takes its time, in the way that films used to, and I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next. OK, I was waiting to see who was going to get killed first and how. [Read more →]

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The Internet of Things

May 14th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

My Blu Ray player packed up recently. Ironically, the real annoyance about this was not that I couldn’t play discs – I also have a DVD player so it was only the few Blue Ray discs I could not play – it was that I could not watch Amazon Prime content on my TV because the Virgin box does not have the Amazon app on it. The Blue Ray player was a smart player so it was connected to the Internet and I used it to watch Amazon stuff.

Yesterday I got round to buying a replacement, which is slightly better because it will also play SACD discs (so my old DVD player is now only needed for DVD-A discs and I think I only have one of those. Maybe two) and connect wirelessly (although I have an ethernet port next to the TV so I don’t need that).

I suppose I should have expected it, but as soon as I plugged the new box in I could not test its disc-playing ability immediately. First I had to deal with the message telling me that a software update is available and I needed to update the software. I think this happens as soon as you get a new phone, tablet, computer or smart TV.

The tech pundits have been telling us for years to look forward to the Internet of Things (IoT) where our fridges place an order with the supermarket if we are running short of milk and so on. The reality is that when we buy a new kettle we will have to wait for a firmware upgrade to download before we can make a cup of tea and when we pick up our car from the long-stay car park after a holiday we will not be able to drive off until two weeks’ worth of security patches and updates have been downloaded and installed.

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Segue Segue Sputnik!

May 9th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Ever since the BBC started repeating old TOTPs on a 35-year delay I have been watching and wallowing in the nostalgia. I think they started with 1976 or maybe 1975 and are now up to 1981. Obviously it is all downhill after the mighty 1979 but there are still some gems in there.

The funny thing is how different it all looks from a distance. For example, at the time I had not realise just how dominated the 70s were by rock & roll revivalism, not how that spilled into the 80s. The other thing is how some things are completely new to me.

I am pretty sure I watched TOTP every week in the 70s and 80s and also followed the chart show on the radio and everything and yet every now and then there is a song high in the charts by an act that doesn’t ring even the tiniest bell, so either I wasn’t really paying attention or my subconscious blocked it out. [Read more →]

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Painting the town red

May 9th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The recent election campaign was one I think I will remember for a long time.

With Crawley council having a Labour majority of just one seat it was always going to be a fight to keep control. Of the thirteen seats involved, eight were seats we were defending. Two of them were wards where there were council elections last year that we lost and another two or three were seats that have been Tory fairly recently, so everybody agreed that Labour holding on was about as likely as Leicester City winning the league. [Read more →]

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February 24th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Tonight I watched the latest Bond film on DVD. I had prepared for it by watching the previous Daniel Craig Bond films last week. It is undeniably spectacular, with lots of  things you would expect from a Bond film – car chases, boat chases, epic stunts, arch-villian set on world domination, secreat HQ for the arch-villain, etc. etc. but it still doesn’t entirely feel like a proper Bond film.

I think the reason is all to do with the way the franchise has gone since the re-boot. Previously the films were all self-contained. There were recurring characters, though they were often played by totally different actors, and recurring motifs, but no continuity of story. You could watch the first twenty Bond films in any order really, but from Casino Royale onwards the fims have been part of a longer story arc. You need to have watched Casino Royale to properly get Quantum of Solace, and so on.

Spectre tie them all together, when Blofeld admits to his involvement in events from the other films and this seems to be the way things are expected to be now. It is the same with Doctor Who where there are story arcs across a whole series. In a way it is quite ironic because we are always told how short our attention spans are these days and yet such franchises now rely on you remembering the events from earlier episodes.

I find it less satisfying because the climax of the film does not feel as climactic whe you know it is just the set-up for the next sequel. That is what spoiled Quantum of Solace for me: it felt like the whole purpose of the story was to get from Casino Royale to Skyfall rather than having its own story to tell – in other words it was the Star Trek III of the Bond franchise.

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