briarwood: (BTVS Willow Sex)
Morgan Briarwood ([personal profile] briarwood) wrote2010-10-21 09:17 pm

First day of winter?

6.30 am It seems to be the first day of winter - last night as I travelled home from an evening out, the sky was almost completely clear of cloud; the moon so bright I'm sure I could have managed without the street lights. This morning there was frost on the cars I passed and the sky was still clear. To the east the sun wasn't yet visible but there was the early light turning the haze orange and the sky above was a shade of blue that was almost turquoise: an effect I only see at this time of the year, after the autumn equinox but before winter really sets in. To the west, the sky was darker, but still blue, not black, and the stars were still clearly visible. It was cold, my breath white in the air as I walked, but not yet the bone-deep cold that may come.

7.30 am We're so lucky where I live; our climate is mild, we get a lot of rain but snow and ice are rare, brief visitors. An hour later it's beginning to cloud over an the clouds are tinged with pink...traditional wisdom predicts poor weather later, but I think we may escape more rain.

12.00 I see a lot of cummulus clouds but there's still some blue sky visible. More than I expected, and as a result it's become quite warm, not "Indian Summer" warm, but a definite change from the wintry start to the day. This is the kind of weather I remember in early September when I was at school. Climate change has really messed with the seasons around here. I'm neutral on "global warming" - I'm not a sceptic but I don't understand the science enough to be sure of my position. On "climate change" though, I'm quite clear, because it's noticable in my lifetime. This is an example: less than 30 years ago, there was a distinctive pattern to the weather in the first few weeks of the school year. Mornings were blue skies and very cold but by the time I left school at the end of the day it was cloudy and warm. This no longer holds true in September but the same kind of weather instead shows up closer to winter. British weather is notoriously unpredictable but I'm convinced it has become more so during my life.

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Last night I saw Despicable Me with Mel; a fantasically funny film. Though aimed at children, many of its jokes are ones kids wouldn't get - such as the visual gag on the "Bank of Evil" sign (small print saying "formerly Lehman Brothers"). I also found it amusing that I was sitting next to the only person in the theatre who understood the Spanish joke (not a joke about Spanish - the gag was in that language, and although the gist of it is clear it's never actually translated).

I love the story - aspiring supervillain Gru needs to steal a shrink-ray back from rival supervillain Vector (it's part of his master-plan to steal the moon), and adopts three children whom he's seen selling cookies in order to use them to gain access to his rival's fortress. It's a "having children makes you good" tale, which would normally be rather sick-making, but this is done so well and with such a fantastic sense of humour that it really works. I think it's because most of the humour comes from things that are incidental to the plot itself - the core plot is actually a very serious (if preposterous) story with its themes of child neglect, poverty and exploitation, but humour is injected everywhere it's possible - the sign on the bank, the minion who took the anti-gravity potion floating in every now and then, the elderly mad scientist who misheard 'cookie' as 'boogie', the werewolf who is mid-howl when the moon vanishes and abruptly
transforms back into a man.

I had one WTF moment toward the end which sort of ruined it for me a little - it has to do with how the stolen moon is returned to orbit and left me wondering whether the writers understand gravity at all...it wouldn't have been so jarring except the context was one that rather depends on gravity working the way it's supposed to. But that's a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent movie.

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There's a moment in that movie where Gru, having been refused the bank loan he needs to finance his moon-heist, has to explain to his minions (yellow pill-shaped creatures with arms, legs and goggles for eyes - they're really cute) that there is no money to pay for anything. I remember thinking, I'm going to be listening to that exact same speech at work tomorrow. I wasn't wrong. Yesterday, for those not following UK financial affairs, the government announced a particularly brutal round of spending cuts, across every department including the one I work for. Though things aren't too bad in my department - it sounds as if my job is safe, at least for a while, but the next few years are going to be unpleasant at best. The union are doing their usual pointless blustering; I wish they'd learn to pick battles worth fighting instead of wasting time on stuff that's either doomed or actively making the workplace worse. I totally support the principle of collective action but this lot are a really good argument for banning them altogether.

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*Sigh* And this was meant to be an upbeat post. I guess I'm tired and cranky. Time for some sleep...