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Alain [userpic]

lost adventures of a Belgian boy reporter

January 29th, 2012 (11:09 am)

I finally went to see the 3D adventures of Tintin, Spielberg version, "The Secret of the Unicorn".


The plot, the story was not as tight as in the original albums which inspired the movie. However, Hergé was learning all the way as he wrote and drew the adventures of Tintin. He too wrote some trainwreck plots now and then. In fact nearly all of his first albums had them, along with more or less mediocre drawings. It wasn't until "King Ottokar's Scepter" that he started to get everything right.

I'm hoping that Spielberg will get everything right in his next Tintin movie, which Tintin himself announces at the end of this movie. That is, if there is the money available for it. I hear that the box office results have been very poor for this one, which is quite a pity.

Alain [userpic]


June 22nd, 2011 (10:22 pm)

Je ne pensais jamais qu'un jour je verrais un des bosquets de mes aegopodium en train de s'étendre et de fleurir en plein soleil. Tous les textes disent que c'est une plante qui vit à l'ombre. Ce qu'ils ne disent pas c'est qu'elle a besoin d'ombre pendant une partie de la journée seulement. Ce bosquet en particulier est au bord d'un véritable mur d'arbres et de plantes diverses à l'Est qui le cachent du soleil du matin et le gardent à l'ombre jusqu'à midi.


I never thought that one day I would see one of my ground-elder "bushes" thriving, spreading, and flowering in full sunlight. All the texts had told me that this plant needed a lot of shade to survive. It turns out that it only needs shade part of the day. This particular bush is right next to a real "wall" of trees and plants to the East. They keep the sun away in the morning and right up until noon. That's enough hours of shade for this ground-elder "bush".

Alain [userpic]


June 18th, 2011 (02:25 am)

I thought that the Beartrap was the only way to get a helicopter to land safely on any naval vessel smaller than a carrier, in rough seas:


It turns out that for slightly calmer seas than the Beartrap max and for "acrobatic" rated copters like the Lynx there's a harpoon system that gets into the deck grating and secures the copter once the landing gear has touched the ship.


This made my week.

Alain [userpic]


May 10th, 2011 (10:31 pm)

Lundi j'ai été voir des toilettes dans la grande salle de montre d'un plombier et vendeur de plomberie, proche de L'aéroport. Non, je n'ai pas été AUX toilettes.

Il y avait une jolie fille derrière le comptoir et elle m'a tout montré. Une autre encore plus jolie fille s'est jointe à elle en peu de temps, pour m'en montrer encore plus. Elles connaissaient vraiment bien leur affaire. Mais elles ne connaissaient rien des noces de Cana!!!! Elles m'avaient montré une toilette faite par un fabricant Chinois et m'avaient dit le nom. Le nom sonnait comme Cana alors je leur ai demandé si ça s'écrivait comme les célèbres noces.

Elles n'avaient jamais entendu parler de la transformation de l'eau en vin, même pas vaguement Le nom ne leur disait absolument rien, en dehors de la plomberie. "On n'est pas très religieuses" avait dit une. J'étais bien tenté de dire que j'étais pas exactement très dans la religion moi non plus et j'aurais pu leur ajouter quelque chose concernant mon manque d'intérêt pour le vin comme tel.



Monday I went to see all kinds of toilets at a big showroom near the airport. There was a pretty girl behind the counter and she came out to show me everything. Then an even prettier girl popped up to show me even more, along with the previous one. Traffic must be slow on Mondays. They really knew their stuff. But they had never heard of the Marriage at Cana!! !!! They had just shown me a toilet made in China. The name sounded a lot like "Cana" so I'd said, "Just like the wedding, right?".

They'd never ever heard of the transformation of water into wine, so it wasn't just the name itself that they might have forgotten. "We're not religious types" one of them said when I explained the origins. I was tempted to say that I wasn't exactly a religious type, and maybe I should have added that I wasn't exactly fond of wine.


Alain [userpic]


May 2nd, 2011 (01:13 am)

It's too bad that they didn't manage to catch Bin Laden alive. The trial would have been great fun. It would have made for some magnificent Doonesbury comic strips.

Alain [userpic]


April 21st, 2011 (07:16 am)

I think that people should pay less attention to Ayn Rand and more attention to the Neutra house she bought and lived in, the Von Sternberg house.

Rand and her parents were the wretched victims of the Russian revolution. She understood nothing about the nature of human society and wanted to understand nothing about it. She spent her entire adult life reacting to the Russian revolution and what she thought to be its faults. In fact her "philosophy" was a twin of that of Soviet Russia's since it too lacked any compassion, any appreciation for the Arts and other human traits.

It's really funny that, along with her husband, she ended up buying Richard Neutra's Von Sternberg house in San Fernando Valley, in the 1940s.



Von Sternberg house was one of Neutra's little gems, perhaps the most perfect, the most restrained one. Like all of Neutra's houses it was based on a philosophy totally opposed to that of Rand's. It was the essence of compassion, of caring for others. Unlike so many of the modernist architects of the 30s Neutra cared for what his customers wanted, what they really would be doing with their homes. He designed both individual homes and collective homes, mansions and social housing.

Neutra's houses looked modern, futuristic (for the 1930s) from outside while they were cosy, and comfortable inside. Most importantly, they did not leak! Everything about them was well designed. Neutra took great care in choosing solid, industrial grade materials, and he had them finished in a domestic manner. He also did an enormous amount of work in designing pleasing gardens, complete landscapes around the houses he built. In contrast other modernist architects destroyed trees, shrubs, and other plants. They exterminated anything that could possibly hide their egoistical "masterpieces".

When you dig a bit into the stories of houses made by Neutra's modernist contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright you discover that their designs leaked and that in a hundred ways they frustrated their residents in all their attempts to have a normal comfortable daily life. Those houses looked impressive from outside and they were a pain inside. They were all about the ego of the architect. Self, self, self, self, self magnified and made solid in the shape of an unliveable house.

Now here's the even funnier part. Rand chose to buy and live (for a rather long time) in a house designed by one of the most humane of the modernist architects, Richard Neutra. At the same time she was fascinated by Frank Lloyd Wright. She corresponded with him, and even got a sketch of a possible house in return. Just about everybody points out that Rand's fictional hero, the architect Howard Roark was modeled on Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ah yes, Ms Rand, let us praise wilful, egoistical architects and then live in homes designed by architects like Neutra who placed the customer on a pedestal and in general make life sweeter for their fellow human beings.

Alain [userpic]


April 13th, 2011 (01:15 am)

In a few months my main computer, a Dell Dimension 4100 will be 10 years old. I don't mind that too much, but the problem is that the companion screen, a Dell-Trinitron with UXGA resolution (1600 by 1200 pixels) has faded to a point where my eyes hurt when I'm reading text. It was great as long as it was "fresh". When I bought it back in 2001 I knew EXACTLY that I wanted an UXGA screen resolution and I shopped for that. The computer that went with it was not that important for me. The important thing was that it could give the correct signal for what was, at the time, a huge screen. It was easy to find.

So , I'm shopping for a new computer, and despite the fact that I know EXACTLY the kind of screen I want, an LCD with WQGA resolution (2560 by 1600 pixels) and absolutely no bells and whistles, it turns out that getting the correct companion computer is a lot more complicated than it used to be.

The biggest problem is that computer stores (brick and mortar as well as the virtual ones like Dell) have again and again cut back on staff. Their sales staff know next to nothing about the computers and the video cards they're selling. The secondary problems have to do with the diversification in computing devices in the last ten years. Desktops are only a thin wedge in a big pie. Stores make their money on the other stuff. Just getting a store that carries what I want is really not easy.

Some days I'd like to call the whole thing off. It's just a pain. Getting a nice big hi-res screen should not have to be so difficult when you're willing to pay the price. And once I've bought it and its companion PC I'll have to go through the whole installation process. I've gotten used to working in Windows 2000 for the last 10 years and now I'll have to get into System 7. ARRRRGH.

Alain [userpic]


March 19th, 2011 (01:25 pm)

While looking up all the reasons (hint: asimos cost a fortune and they are rather weak while the strong industrial robots can't move at all) why the Japanese don't have their numerous robots working away at the disaster at Fukushima (instead of exposing humans to severe radiation dangers) it suddenly dawned on me that the Japanese are really afraid of robots, deep down, pretty much in the same way they are afraid of anything nuclear.

Alain [userpic]


March 14th, 2011 (04:33 pm)

Nosss tahll djee ah, as they say in English:


Note that I don't find Claudia Cardianle attractive and that I've never seen "Mad Men". So, it's the other stuff.

Alain [userpic]


March 13th, 2011 (12:34 pm)

I never watch horror films but I enjoyed "Show The Monster: Guillermo del Toro’s quest to get amazing creatures onscreen." by Daniel Zalewski in the Web pages of the February 7, 2011 New Yorker.


I sometimes enjoy good writing, a good human interest profile like this one, even when the subject is a guy who makes movies that I'll never see.

Another aspect to my enjoyment comes from the fact that one of my favourite books of all time,"The Hobbit" , was going to be made into a movie by del Toro. It was fun to read about what he was thinking of making, even if it was a gross perversion of Tolkien's book.

After having read del Toro's profile I was tempted to go in for some bit of relief (say "whew" or even yell "hurrah!") since his participation in "The Hobbit" had ended prematurely. But had it really? I checked. If I'm to believe IMDB some of the grossest things del Toro had in store were cancelled, but it looks as if they're going to retain the large number of modifications to the story.


Looks like I won't be going to see "The Hobbit" after all.

I could have understood putting an "introduction" at the beginning of the film, or some kind of flash forward with the older Bilbo placing the writing of his adventure in context. After all, the whole book is supposed to have been written by him. Then, there is the small matter of hooking all the people who liked the three Lord of The Rings movies and who have never read "The Hobbit". But as things stand they'll be filling that film with tons of stuff, purely invented scenes that were never in the original book. Just looking at the cast list makes me cringe. Galadriel, Leoglas, Saruman, Radagast were never in "The Hobbit" and they have no business being in the film. They were brought over from The Lord of the Rings just to make sure that fans of that trilogy will be hooked. They even invented a new character, Itaril to pad things even more. Gaaaaaahhhh!

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