Saturday, May 13, 2006


I'm not usually one for celebrating birthdays - especially once you get past the age of 30 - but I have to admit I've enjoyed celebrating this one. Had a fantastic meal with friends Brian and David last night (they spoilt me rotten, as ever) and this morning cards and pressies arrived to create some excitement. I thought the cards were particularly inspired this year - from Mum's hand-made 'camera' offering to laugh-out-loud funny offerings from my brother Nigel and sister Lynda. But the highlight was probably getting a card from Mark's parents (Mark passed away in March 1996).

Brian is coming over tonight to watch Doctor Who (on TV) and Jarhead (on DVD) and tomorrow morning he'll be doing the Entertainment Review on Michael Parkinson's show on Radio 2 (tune in just after 11.30am). Amongst the material Brian's reviewing is the oscar-winning March of the Penguins, just issued on DVD, which coincidentally I watched yesterday afternoon.

The whole story of the Emporer penguins is fascinating and I thought the movie one well worth seeing (although the current imdb average score of 7.9 seems a bit over the top). The photography is stunning, but the narration didn't work for me. The text Morgan Freeman is given to read as narrator is too old-fashioned in this world of post-Dimbleby wildlife programmes, and we should have moved past presenting animals as if they were just like us humans.

At times the narration ascribes strong human feelings to the penguins that are pure conjecture. More interesting than the 80 minute film itself was one of the extra's on the DVD - a 55 minute 'Making Of' documentary showing how the film was made. The contrast between the film-makers and the penguins was fascinating, and there were some very strong scenes that had been cut from the main movie, presumably because American audiences don't want to see the harsh reality of Nature!

The DVD also had a painfully American dumbed-down National Geographic programme ("The Critter-cam" - God help us) about the Emporer Penguin and an odd Bugs Bunny cartoon also featuring one of "the critters" as National Geographic would like to call them. More of a rental than a purchase in my view, but a highly recommended rental at that.


Brian Sibley said...

Only 49! Blimey! We thought you were older which is why we gave you such a nice meal!

Anyway, good blog and jolly clver to have managed to make sure we ALL know who's going to be 50 next year! ;-)

Congratulations on the blog and the birthday!

David Weeks said...

Happy birthday Ian!
Tell me why is the "full size" photo of you smaller than the one on the blog? Why doesn't the blog Photo look anything like you ~ since when did 'photoshop' make folk look as though they have had plastic surgery?

Ian said...

If I upload a proper sized photo that looks good in the "full size" link then it gets downsized and looks REALLY bad on the main page. Since this is the page that EVERYONE sees it made more sense to size the photo so that it looked good there, instead of making it look crap there just so that it looked good for the view people who click to see the "full size" photo. On a bespoke system I'd have two different photo's sized correctly using Photoshop algorithms instead of the hacky way the browser tries to resize images which makes them look terrible.

As for the plastic surgery that's either the result of the noise reduction filter (which tends to over-soften things) or the browser resizing.

The blog photo is the most recent one I have (less than a year old), but was taken before I shaved the 'tache off. The photo on the banner which looks more like I do now is actually much older - taken at the end of 2003, but since it features the tache does look pretty much how I look now.

Ian said...

Oops. I meant to say that the blog photo was taken AFTER I shaved the tache off (BEFORE I grew it back again). Doh!

(Why can't you edit comments?)