Sunday, 31 January 2010

Skhizein - Awesome Animation

Skhizein is a strange film that begins with a man at a psychiatrist's office talking about his problem. It seems that since a meteorite struck nearby, he's been "out of phase". In other words, every thing he does is 91 centimeters off (that's a yard for all of us non-metric folks)! When he goes to the toilet, for example, he needs to stand 91 centimeters to the right or he'll miss! And, when he wants to look out the window, he puts his head through the wall next to the window! It's all very strange yet compelling. What is also strange is the animation style. While it uses CGI, the look is totally unique and the main character looks a lot like a child's drawing or the David character from David Shannon's books.

Unique, compelling and clever--what more could you want from an animated short?!

Only 2,000 Left - The Rainbow That Can Fly

There is something about the Rainbow Finch that makes it look like an animal made up, using Photoshop, for an April Fool joke. The colors seem too bright to be real and each garish hue ends abruptly to be replaced by one equally as preposterous for a wild animal. The main part of its body looks like some psychedelic Neapolitan ice cream.

Found in Australia, there are only around two thousand of them left in the wild. Although conservation attempts are ongoing the question is whether or not this beautiful species will join the ranks of those who only survive in captivity.

The history of the Rainbow (or Gouldian) Finch is almost as interesting as its plumage. It was discovered by the Ornithologist John Gould who named the finch after his wife rather than himself. First called the Lady Gouldian Finch, the lady part of the name has been largely dropped, possibly because it was something of a mouthful, but most likely because Mrs Gould was no Lady (this is a reflection on her lack of title rather than her personal behavior).

Gould himself is largely forgotten outside of ornithology circles and Australia, where he discovered the Finch in 1840. This is a shame as without him we would not have had the concept of ‘Darwin’s Finches’ from the Galapagos. Darwin himself thought that the specimens he collected were variants of other species (albeit including the finch). It was Gould who classified the twelve distinct new species that formed a new finch group.

Gould’s Finch is found in the north of Australia. Their preferred habitats are those places with open plains with tall trees and it must be close to water. Even in captivity their water must be changed each day.

The reasons for the decline in the wild of this gorgeous species are manifold. Certainly we are partly to blame as much of their habitat has been altered and thereby reduced by humans. A mite parasite has also had damaging effect on their population as has their general susceptibility to disease. They are also not the kind of species that can blend in easily and it is thought that their plumage attracts the attention of predators somewhat more than it would if they were plain creatures. Finally, the increasing amount of fires in the parts of Australia that they frequent has also had an impact – some say the largest – on their numbers.

Although reintroduction programs have been introduced in to areas where they have ceased to be present they have so far proven to be unsuccessful. The program continues however – although the natural pessimism of many points towards the fact that once an ecosystem shifts due to the absence of a species it is extraordinarily difficult for that species to be reintroduced.

Some good news, in a way. There are no numbers recorded to suggest how many Rainbow (also known as Gouldian) Finches exist in captivity but it is very probably in the hundreds of thousands. It is a hugely popular pet – because its unique plumage, but it would be a shame if this stunning bird’s existence in the future relied purely on it being kept in cages.

The Magical Mirror of Doctor Dee

John Dee - a man of mystery at the court of Elizabeth the First.  He is often seen as the greatest magician of all time.  Some even saw Elizabeth as the reincarnation of Arthur and Dee that of his wizard, Merlin. 

Whatever the case, his life and the work he did during it are shrouded in rumour and history.  He is said to have been the model for Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest.  

However, what was the the mysterious magic mirror?  Why was he referred to as 'the friend of the hounds of hell'?  Find out more in this interesting article by .

The Magical Mirror of Doctor Dee | Quazen

The Official Tim Burton Website

You have probably heard of Time Burton, the Director of such classic films as Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow.  Many say that they can tell a Tim Burton film from the first few seconds, such is the consistency of his aesthetic.  Another side to Burton, however, is that of the artist and this - his official site - is chockablock of ideas from his fevered imagination.

You are guided through the whole experience by the stain boy, a wonderfully expressive pencil drawing.  He will take you through the options available at the site, such as seeing what Burton has coming up in terms of his art as well as the ability to see some 'private' works as well.  Altogether this is a wonderful experience - more of a museum of art than a website.

The Official Tim Burton Website - Drive-in Movie Posters

Drive-In movies were never noted for the high quality of the movies they showed and that is reflected in the posters that accompanied the movies themselves.  After all, the drive-in wasn't designed with the intention of delivering quality entertainment - rather an opportune place for teenagers to park and drive (and we aren't talking cars here! 

This is a fairly long selection but one which will leave you either bemused, amused or bewildered.  Either way they will have done their job. - Drive-in Movie Posters

Friday, 29 January 2010

How Deep Can You Dive?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Amazing Art: Craig Tracey Body Artist | Quazen

In January 2010 Artist Craig Tracy showed his work “The Last South China Tiger” using the bodies of three models, inserted onto a painted background, as his canvas.  Learn more about the artist and his amazing art by clicking the link below.

Amazing Art: Craig Tracey Body Artist | Quazen

They are probably more afraid of us than we are of them but the sea is full of creatures that to our eyes look more than a little scary.  Take a journey to meet a few of these  creatures and (their occasionally grisly fate notwithstanding) shudder at their scariness!

Artrosilium - What's All The Fuss About?

A few weeks ago I met up with some old friends.  Now by old I mean I have known them for quite a while – none of them would actually describe themselves as old (although the average five year old might).  Over a few glasses of wine the conversation turned to the aches and pains that we are all experiencing – especially since we are experiencing the hardest winter here in London for forty year – and the associated treatments.

One product that came up around the table again and again was Artrosilium.  One person mentioned it when they were talking about their arthritis.  To be honest I had no idea that they had it – they said that it was probably because of they used this .  It sounded familiar but I wasn’t sure.  So, I said, tell me more.

is a gel that is amazingly good for relieving the pain that comes with arthritis.  What is more is that its main ingredient is organic silica (I looked this up when I got home and found to my surprise that after oxygen this is the most abundant chemical one earth).  Bonus points already.  It also contains the likes of Queen of the Meadow, which is a vegetal aspirin and blackcurrant.  Did you know that has been used to treat arthritis for hundreds of years?  Me neither!

This comes as a gel, which sounds a traditional kind of treatment of arthritis.  Then someone else mentioned that they used it too – but in the form of an elixir.If you would like When you get to my age that word has something of a ring to it!  It seems that you can take a spoonful of the before your breakfast and it does wonders for your sense of vitality and energy.  My friend swears by it.

isn’t just for arthritis either.  You can use it to help in the treatment of eczema, haemorrhoids, psoriasis and even veruccas.  One of my friends said that she had tried virtually every product available before she came across Artrosilium.  Although it is mail order she was very pleasantly surprised when her order arrived just a few days later.    She now wouldn’t use any other product and from the way she was whirling around the dance floor that evening, I don’t blame her!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Touch of Class: The King’s Cure for The King’s Evil

Scrofula is the word we use today but in the past it was known as The King's Evil. We can treat it very easily but then if you were unfortunate enough to get it then it was really difficult to get rid of. Sometimes the treatment was more deadly than the cure. So it was that in Medieval times, Edward the Confessor of England made a habit of laying hands on those afflicted - and, so legend has it - he cured many. takes an in depth look at this affliction and those who cured it.

 A Touch of Class: The King’s Cure for The King’s Evil 

Wayward Words and Fractious Phrases That Should be Banned and Binned | Socyberty

Words, words, words.  We can't live without them but sometimes - or so it seems - people overuse words and phrases that make a good proportion of the rest of the population want to beat them in to a very mushy pulp.  Words can illicit huge emotional responses from people - many of them were probably designed to do that in the very firs place after all - but there are some that just should be banned, verboten, interdit!

Here is a list of words and phrases that should really be banned and binned - see if you agree with it!

Wayward Words and Fractious Phrases That Should be Banned and Binned | Socyberty

The Mystery of Resin

Resin is a mysterious thing and is often overshadowed by the far more glamorous amber.  However, even though resin takes millions of years to form in our six thousand or so years of history we still haven't managed to read a concensus about what on earth it is for.  As the scientific battle rages this article takes a look at the unique substance that is resin, with some marvellous macrophotography that will take your breath away.

The Mystery of Resin | Scienceray

Animax - Extremely Cool Japanese Animation Site

I am an old hand at amine, going way back to when Marine Boy was first shown in the United Kingdom (I remember gawping, completely in awe at the TV screen and have been hopelessly addicted ever since).  So it is always great for me to discover an excellent site based around all things Japanese and animated. That site is Animax and I thought I would just take a little time out from it - have been there for about two hours now!) to spread the word.

Let's get one thing straight first - Japanese animation is uber cool - it is for trendsetters, image conscious peope and those looking for an entertainment experience that is a little different.  Animax does that - and more.  There is a line up of all the popular anime series on Animax as well as - wait for it - shows that have never been seen outside of Japan.  The reach of Animax is already enormous - it already reaches over thirty million homes.

For me the best news is that you can watch Bleach Season One on Animax.  It is about a flame-haired teenager, Ichigo, who can see dead people (but not like in that movie and it's nothing like Ghost Whisperer either.  Bleach follows his adventures after he meets a mysterious female Soul Reaper whose responsibilities he must take on to protect his family. 

Altogether, Bleach is a ripping yarn for both youngsters and adults - check it out - and the fantastic Animax too!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Social Networking to Make Tommy Trinder the Best Comedian Ever?

If it can knock the wind out of the types of Simon Cowell, whose most recent X-Factor winner failed to make the UK Christmas Number One (for the first time in five years) then it can only be supposed that social networking can do the same for Tommy Trinder (left).
Tommy who may well be your first reaction if you are under the age of seventy (and bless you if you are over that age and reading this).  Trinder was huge in the nineteen thirties onwards and is credited as one of the entertainers who helped keep a smile on the face of the British during the Second World War.  Later in his career he hosted Sunday Night At The London Palladium which often won audiences of over fifteen million people.  He died in 1989 and, as they say, was gone - and pretty much forgotten.

Now, however, it seems that his trademark Trilby hat, leering smile and wagging finger may win over a new generation, thanks to the (present day) funnyman Ross Noble (right).  The Geordie comedian has started a campaign on Twitter to coerce, sorry - persuade people to vote for the long dead Trinder in a poll of Britain's best comedians.  The next most obvious question is why?

Noble started his campaign because, as he sees it, Trinder was at the top of his game in the fifties and it would be something of a hoot for him to top the list.  There is an urge to attemp to skew the vote of British TV's Channel 4 - as they do not allow nominations.  Instead, the candidates for their 100 Greatest Standups is limited to one hundred and six pre-chosen candidates.  That's right, 106 in the whole history of the noble form. of standup  Oh dear.  No wonder Noble wants to have a little fun.

Bandwagon time (well, here we are after all).  Not to be outdone by Twitter, it hasn't taken long for a page to be urging members of the public to vote with Noble.  It has been set up by Simon Donald, the creator of the cheeky and irreverent British institution Viz magazine.  And why not.  The list itself is full of contemporary artists with only a few vintage comedians appearing on the list - let alone dead ones.  What's more, there are only a fistful of women appearing as part of the poll - something which has annoyed part-time feminists everywhere.  At least that's one thing.

Here at Webphemera Towers, we firmly believe that Ross Noble has an ulterior motive for his little act of comedic altruism.  Take a look at the picture of the two of them together, above.  Now, you are not telling us that there isn't a similarity between the two.  We thinks that Noble and Trinder are in fact part of a hitherto unknown standup dynasty and the vote is being rigged in favour of the family firm.

Perhaps we should start up a Facebook group...

The Camelizer - Cool Addon for Amazon

If you are like me then you will do a lot of shopping on the Internet.  One thing that always seems to be misisng though is the active pursuit of a bargain!  I have always had no problem with returning to a shop to see if the price of an item I want has gone down but somehow it seems to be more difficult online.  Recently I discovered a really cool - and free website that allows me to keep an eye on prices on Amazon - one from which I buy loads of stuff. Amazon price watch site camelcamelcamel   is brilliant because it does all the hard work for you. Nothing better than that in my books!  As an Amazon price watch site it takes some beating.

The name immediately strikes you as cool and relevant. Camels are patient animals and can wait and wait. So it is with The Camelizer for Firefox addon. If you use the best browser in existence, then your Amazon price tracking will be much easier with this cool addon. You can also use it on sites like Best Buy and New Egg. You can really buy things online and be informed about it. When a price of something you have been watching goes down then you can get an alert - either by email, Twitter or on your desktop via their RSS feed.

If you are a Google Chrome person, then you don't have to be disappointed either! The Camelizer for Google Chrome is also available with all the features as Firefox. So, you can keep an eye on nearly 1 million products here which, let's face it, is pretty hard for a mere mortal to do! You can import your Amazon wishlist and watch the Amazon price history as it happens. Oh and registration is completely optional - you just download the toolbar and get on with it if that is what you want. Check it out!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The world most dangerous places to live Because of Mother Nature

Ironically, this article was written before the recent earthquake in Haiti - and guess what?

Yes, you have guessed it already.  Alongside places like Vesuvius (left) that most people would probably name when asked for a list of those places most dangerous to live because of Mother Nature, Haiti is already in there with a bullet at number four.

Find out the rest by clicking the link below.  And please!  Whatever country you live in, please make a donation, however small, to your nation's response to the earthquake crisis in Haiti.

The world most dangerous places to live cause by Mother Nature | World Travel

The Amazing Hummingbird Hawk Moth

This is quite an amazing beast.  It looks like a humminbird.  It acts like a hummingbird.  The only thing is, it isn't.  So, how did this amazing beast come about? Scientists believe it is something called convergent evolution.  This is when two completely different species may evolve very similar physiologies because they inhabit a  near identical ecological niche.  However it got this wat, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth is something else!

The Amazing Hummingbird Hawk Moth | Scienceray

Friday, 15 January 2010


Sometimes all you need is a sign. This short film by Australian Director Patrick Hughes has no dialogue at all but tells a story by which you cannot fail to be moved. A young man (Jason, we learn) is in a new job in the big city and is very lonely. That is until one day when... well, you will have to watch this unusual and touching romantic comedy for yourself. It's only eleven minutes long. Sit back and get your hankies out.

A New Life Force: The Mystery of Cosmic Rays

Cosmic Rays are a phenomenum not understood by many but it is a phrase we bandy about as if we all know what we are talking about.  In 1912 the Austrian scientist Victor Hess really started something when he ascended in to the stratosphere in a balloon.  While I would naturally assume him to be as mad as a hatter for doing this, he is only one of a long list of (usually) men who take leaps in to the unknown in the pursuit of scientific discovery.

For Hess it paid off and he received the Nobel Prize in 1936.  His discovery?  Cosmic Rays and in this interesting and - thankfully - accessible article by , you can find out all about them.  Unlike many articles on this subject you will actually stand a good chance of understanding wjhat cosmic rays are all about too!

A New Life Force: The Mystery of Cosmic Rays | Scienceray

Raising a Pet Sheep: The First Year

A surprise delivery in the middle of winter and a Canadian family face a choice.  This is a heart warming read by the human 'mother' of an unexpected lamb, .  I will not elaborate on it here, as you should really click the link below and read it for yourself!

Raising a Pet Sheep: The First Year | Gomestic

No visit to Paris is truly complete without time spent in .  This complex of buildings in the 7th Arrondissement contains museums, mausoleums and military mementoes - all dedicated to the role that France and the French have played in the history of warfare.  takes us on a tour around this amazing site.

The place was founded in the seventeenth century, so as you can imagine with a country with such a rich history, can take a substantial amount of time to cover.  However, the trip is well worthwhile as even if you are not a fan of military history this remarkable place gives you a glimpse in to the very essence of the French national character.

is no stranger to history - and by that I am not taking a pop at her age, believe me.  If you would like to see more of her work, then take a trip over to her excellent blog, The Ancient Digger.

Nostradamus and The Death of Henri 2: A Conspiracy?

I do enjoy a good conspiracy theory and what some people do not realise is that they are not a completely contemporary phenomena.  In fact, there have been conspiracy theories in abundance ever since the beginning of recorded history.  Here is one of them which is more than little compelling. 

Here, Patrick Bernauw looks at the death of the French King, Henri II.  Nostradamus had himself phrophesied his downfall, but was he also involved in a conspiracy to bring down the King?

Nostradamus and The Death of Henri 2: A Conspiracy? | Socyberty

The Seven Summits

Now, this is interesting.  It is a long time - a very long time since I was at school and studied geography but even then I could probably only name the highest mountain on earth.

However, there being seven continents, what is the name of the highest summit on each of them?  I have to admit I could not name them all by any means - and it was only educated guesses which led me to the answers for the ones I did get.

I had no idea at all what was the highest peak in South America (see picture, right).  I am unsure as to whether I had ever heard of it before. Of course, I am not going to tell you what it is here - click the link to find out for yourself.

As a European I should be thoroughly ashamed that I did not know the name of the highest mountain in Europe!

Fortunately, has come up with this cool list - as well as some truly amazing photographs, with which to give us a gentle reminder of what should be general knowledge.

The Seven Summits | Scienceray

Brainwave Entrainment

Have you ever considered trying to sharpen your mind?  It has been shown that those people who actively engage in this process have higher energy levels and are even happier than those that do not. An increasingly popular way of doing this is by using a brainwave generator. is a  very interesting site and shows how, through the process of donning a pair of headphones and simply sitting back and listening, you can actually bring about substantial life change by listening to brainwave meditation recordings. It is really worth a visit - especially if you are a little wary of this kind of thing - the testimonials speak for themselves.

They have been going for over four years now.  The science behind it involves influencing brainwaves that are present at certain states of mind.   This is done by playing the audio sounds on the CDs.  Certain brainwave patterns are induced by the brainwave generator and will help to tak them to their optimum performance.  There is a 6 CD program which takes you through the entire process.  Go and have a look over at

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Haiti Presidential Palace Before and After The Earthquake

It is difficult sometimes to imagine the damage that a natural disaster such as an earthquake can do - especially when you do not know the place(s) where the earthquake has happened.  So, here is a before and after shot of the Presidential Palace in Haiti - as it was before the earthquake of 11 January 2010.  Remember that this will be one of the more secure and well built structures on the stricken island.



To make a donation via UNICEF, please click this link.

New Doctor Who Wallpaper featuring Matt Smith and David Tennant

For those of you who recently watched David Tennant's tenth Doctor Who regenerate in to the eleventh, Matt Smith, the wait for the new series is probably marked by impatience and, it must be said, some trepidation. With galaxy sized shoes to fill, will Baker pass muster as the new Doctor?  While we wait to find out, the BBC have released this super groovy wallpaper with which to adorn your screen.

To download, click this link.

Banned on TV - The Anti Bullying Ad They Didn't Want You To See

January 8 saw the launch of an uncompromising £1.2m advertising campaign refused permission to air on TV by regulators in memory of bullied school girl Megan Gillan, whose life was cut short after facing continual bullying both online and in school on January 19th 2009.

Megans family has fully endorsed the campaign with the hope that no other family suffers the loss they have.

The advert, refused permission to air on TV by Clearcast (formerly the BACC), depicts a teenage girl sewing her mouth closed, symbolising the way victims feel silenced by bullies. It is this imagery which Clearcast deemed too brutal an image for young audiences. However, the disturbing imagery is designed to drive awareness of the devastating effects bullying can have.

However, the ad, produced by award winning agency M&C Saatchi, can be seen online debuting on YouTube's as part of a major charity partnership tie-in.  You can visit the channel on YouTube .

Honolulu Real Estate

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, so it is hardly surprising that many people each year express an interest in Hawaii Real Estate.  Hawaii's outstanding beauty, fabulous tropical climate and active volcanoes ensure to make it a hugely popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike.  If you are thinking of moving to the fiftieth state then it will be important to get it right in terms of Hawaii Real Estate.

The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu – and it means ‘sheltered bay’ in the Hawaiian language.  Once earmarked as your destination then you will be also looking for your own place of shelter, as it were and that’s where Honolulu Real Estate will come in extremely useful.  Whether you are looking for a permananet residence or somewhere to stay for a short or extended period then Honolulu Real Estate will prove invaluable in completing your plans.

People have been living on this island since around 300BC and although the original inhabitants did not have the advantage, when it comes to making your home, spending your vacation or setting up your business there the modern person can rely on Hawaii Real Estate.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Botfly The Vampire Player

All I can say is that I really, really hope that you are not going to eat when you read this article on something quite compellingly horrible - not to say yucky.  The Botfly is one of those nasty little insects that you think must only exist in the minds of B-Movie writers.  Yet exist it does and what it will - or can - do to you can make make your hair stand on end.  This slice of insectoid nastiness is brought to you by Webphemera regular .

It makes for uneasy reading, let me assure you!

Go on, you know you want to, click the link and read all about it.

Botfly: A Vampire Insect as Horrifying as any Fiction - Scienray

This is a really cool idea - at this time of year - for an article.  has put together - one for each month of the year and the definite must for each one is that they are connected (name wise) to that month.  Strangely enough my own favourite in the list came up straight away.  January by those doyens of seventies glamor and taste, Pilot.  "January, sick and tired, you've been hangin' on me."  Ah the memories!

Just before you click the link below, however, do a bit of mental calculation.  Can you manage to come up with a song that is connected to each month of the year?  No, me neither.  Nice work, Glynis!

Monday, 11 January 2010

UK-based Classifieds Website

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of . All opinions are 100% mine.

How many UK-based Classified Websites can you think of?  Not many!  Of course there are the popular ones that most people who are actively online have heard about, such as eBay and CraigsList but have you heard about ?  No?  Thought perhaps you hadn't and that's because it is pretty new.

I did wonder where I had heard the word - or something similar at least - before. Of course, what the folks over at are trying to achieve is something that can be remembered easily enough and pronounced as Trader. So far so good, but I wonder if they are aware of the Welsh word treiddiol which means penetrating? I guess that is what they want to do anyway - penetrate the whole Internet classifieds market!

As well as it being a relief that there is a UK-based Classifieds Website, has some really good advice about how to stay safe when buying and selling on the Internet.  There is an enormous amount of categories to which you can post the stuff you want to sell on and the same goes for when you are looking to buy too.  You can track your adverts once they are up and you can also see how many people have viewed your ads too.

Best for people like me is that the interface at could not be any simpler and easier to use.  I really think that this new UK-based classified website has the potential to do very well indeed.  The website is very new so take the opportunity to have a look at it and get involved with buying and selling online (I even noticed that there was a friends and dating section on it too!

Now, where were those bits and pieces I wanted to sell?  Back soon....!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Apocalypse Never

The end of the world is something that people seem to be worrying about a lot lately.  Personally I am of the opinion that we are here for a good time not long time and so, really, there is nothing much to worry about if the world does end tomorrow.  What is more, when people talk about the end of the world they are generally talking about the end of our particular species, which isn't the same thing at all.

With that in mind I came across this interesting article today, by .  In it he outlines ten predictions of apocalypse that didn't happen.  So, if you think we are doomed then read this short but entertaining piece. It may put your mind at rest - or of course it may make you scratch your head and wonder just how people fell for these dire warnings in the first instance.

With 2012 Fast Approaching: 10 Apocalypse Predictions That Failed Miserably | Socyberty

Strange-looking Primates

It is a commonly known fact that primates share a lot of our DNA and that can spook some people out.  has put together an article on some of the stranger looking primates that would have even the most arden Darwinists shrugging their shoulders and denying the fact.  Take a look for yourself!

Someone once said that if you had a million monkeys bashing away at a million typewriters then one of them - whether it took a long, long time, would one day type out the complete works of Shakespeare.  Thank goodness for the Internet - at least we know that much isn't true. 

Anyway, go take a look at these primates.

Strange-looking Primates | Scienceray

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Funniest Avatar Review You Will Ever Read

Over at Wond3r's Blog there is - like the title of this post says - possibly the funniest review of Avatar that you will ever read.  Just to give you a taste - here is how the review starts.

"Avatar is a movie about interspecies romance, wherein blue people with no clothes have USB Compatible genitals in their ponytails. This is the planet that Mystique came from, and a lot of people here look like her. Everything on their planet glows, flashes, strobes or luminesces in some way because that is f**king awesome. At night when the sun goes down, someone turns on the black lights and they have badass jungle raves until the Terrans from Star Craft show up with Master Chief’s air force and start bulldozing their trees."

The stars in the extract are my own - in case you poor mites get offended.  It goes on from there and I will be the first to admit that I had to put my ever present cup of coffee to one side because I was in danger of spitting out fully my fully caffeinated.  The review is pretty long - almost as long as the movie - so prepare yourself by moving any sharp object that may be in falling on distance from you.


Wayward Words and Fractious Phrases That Should be Banned and Binned

Let's face it - some words should just be quietly (or if they put up a struggle, then not so quietly) consigned to the dustbin of the English language.  Here are just a few of them, with an opportunity at the end for you to add to the list yourself!

Here is one from me - 'desperate search'.  Every single time someone goes missing the search becomes desperate before five minutes is up.  Is there not a single better adjective than that from which to choose?  To find out some not so wonderful words and phrases which really should go the way of the Dodo, click the link below.

Wayward Words and Fractious Phrases That Should be Banned and Binned

Eagle Of The Ninth - Rosemary Sutcliff's Masterpiece - Now A Movie

At some point, I guess it had to happen.  I recently learned that a movie of one of my favourite childhood reads, The Eagle Of The Ninth is being made in to a Hollywood film.  Now with historical sword and sandal romps such as Troy or Gladiator, that was fine and I looked forward to the films with the same amount of laissez faire as usual.  After all, Gladiator was scripted and Homer’s (the poet not the Simpson’s character) Iliad has been made in to a zillion films before anyway and so the worst was necessarily to be expected (and we weren’t let down either).  After all, what could Brad Pitt do worse than Steve Reeves?

But Eagle Of The Ninth has a special place for me.  Out of all the books I read as a child – and I devoured them pretty much like today’s generation devour Big Macs – it has to be in the top five.  I was brought up in an old Roman town (Chester) and so had been surrounded by remnants of the legions since the year dot.  The book itself, written by Rosemary Sutcliff (left) is one of those supreme children’s’ novels that do not write down to the child at all – and as a precocious ten year old that really appealed to me.

As for the story – well where do I begin?  It tells the story of a young Roman officer, played by Channing Tatum in the film, who has the death of his father hanging over his head like a Klingon dishonour.  He wants to know the truth about the disappearance of his father’s legion (the Ninth) and so goes north over Hadrian’s wall with his trusted slave Esca (played by Jamie Bell).  As they travel further north the two have to exchange roles in order to pass safely through savage Pictish territory.  At its heart the story is one of a clash of cultures and a search for familial redemption.  And it is very, very exciting.  Loads of battles and blood ensue, but the book has a heart that I hope will not be ripped out by a bunch of Hollywood executives.

It was only later in life that I discovered that Sutcliff had severe physical disabilities which meant that even as a self-employed writer, everyday things could be a struggle.  This only increased my admiration of her as a writer; as a not very politically correct child I used to wonder how a woman could write such thrilling adventures with such seeming veracity.  As I have such fond memories of the novel, then the news of its forthcoming production led to a number of feelings.

The first obviously was (and still is as the film is yet to be released) uncertainty.  There was a little relief when I discovered the casting of Jamie Bell, whose films I have generally liked in the past – in particular Billy Elliot (of course) and later on the hugely underrated Hallam Foe and Defiance.   There is always a slight curiosity when it comes to seeing a former child star in films as an adult but it can honestly be said that Bell has thrown off the shackles that come with the child star label.  Looks like he has had to work out for the part. The news that Channing Tatum was to play Marcus Marcus Flavius Aquila – the main protagonist was somewhat less welcome, not least because I couldn’t place the actor in a single film that I had seen.  I think nonplused is the word to describe my reaction.  Channing who?

Well, a glance at his Filmography soon put me right and gave me the reason why his name was not one I associated with any films in my DVD collection – his work has not previously been in my demographic.  To say the least. At all.  He has appeared in a number of youth oriented films such as Coach Carter and Step Up.  He doesn’t exactly have the reputation as the best young actor since Brando, if you  know what I mean. However, he certainly does seem to look the part of the young Roman officer.  I have seen some criticism of the uniform outfits for the film saying that they are too muscularly defined, but below is a picture of a reproduction breastplate which shows that, if anything, the costume designers have held back with the six packs. With apologies to Channing, of course!

Of course, there will be people out there who will not give Tatum the opportinity to show his mettle in a properly adult and demanding leading role, but they should give him a chance.  After all, the film also features Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong, two actors who have a history of (mostly) getting it right when it comes to their choices of role.  The budget is rumoured to be around the $15 million mark and so as such the finances might indicate that it will have a more thoughtful tone than some of the other Roman-period adventure films of the last ten years.  I only hope that it does not lose the thoughtfulness of the original author’s story and is lost in the mire of brutal battle scenes.  Certainly the ending of the book is more poignant than most film makers would dare to attempt, so it is still very much fingers crossed from my point of view.

The Eagle Of The Ninth will be realeased in mid 2010.
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