2015 in review

I am so pleased with my blog this year! Better post to come tomorrow

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Into Film Project: 17 – Brave

A month after St Andrew’s Day on 30th November, here is my review of Brave, the 2012 Disney Pixar film following the adventures of Scottish princess Merida. This was actually my third time watching the film and it holds happy memories of pre-GCSE Results Day and the EPIC Weekend Away. On seeing Brave on the Christmas Day schedule I knew it was time to watch it again and write this review.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, it is the first feature length Pixar film to be directed by a woman and the strength of the first Pixar princess clearly reflects this. The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in the film shows how Chapman drew on her own experience with her daughter. It is this relationship that is at the centre of this story and it is Merida’s defiance of her mother’s regulation of her life that is the most refreshing aspect of the 90 minutes.

As a cartoon the casting directors have much more freedom with who to place in each role. I was surprised with how fantastic Kelly Macdonald was at portraying the young princess despite being in her 30s when the film was produced. Emma Thompson was fantastic as her mother as well and I wonder how much her and Macdonald interacted in recording the dialogue between them. Combined with the fantastic animation you really see the troubled but loving relationship between them. The Scottish accents are incredibly good too and add authenticity to the film.

The film itself is slow to start and on a first watch seems in two parts, but is very enjoyable none the less, and needs to contain the slower contextual background at the beginning to truly understand the storyline. Another part of the production that deserves a mention is the fantastic score by Patrick Doyle. It is music that I would listen to outside of the film, especially while studying, and depicts the dramatic action particularly well.

Brave is a family film with an important view of women that everyone can enjoy. Four stars.


Into Film Project: 16 – Shaun the Sheep (sort of)

Today is the Winter Solstice and the suggested film was Shaun the Sheep. However, as a very new film I don’t have any way of watching it, so instead I will be reviewing the TV series.

I watched this particular episode of the TV series on BBC Alba, which I though may pose a problem, being in Scottish Gaelic. This is not something that is an issue with this Aardman animation though, as there is no speaking involved from Shaun and his sheep friends (and the farmer and dog). I don’t have a clue whether dialogue actually exists in the film version, but I feel like I would get fractious about it if there was no speech for the entire 90 minutes or so.

With only 7 minutes to go on, it’s hard to get the gist of the programme from one episode, but the premise is that the sheep cause havoc for their farmer and manage to get away with it without anyone noticing. I’m not sure how this will work on the big screen with the inevitable increase in length, but I imagine it could. From a TV point of view, 7 minutes seems the optimum time to spend on an episode of Shaun the Sheep – I didn’t get bored but it wasn’t over in the blink of an eye either.

Funny and perfect for children, Shaun the Sheep on TV has intrigued me for what the film has in store. Three stars.


The Sound of Music Live

Sunday night saw the broadcast of The Sound of Music Live on ITV. It had mixed reviews and I caught up with it last night (with this post taking yesterday’s spot in Blogvent).

Firstly I was appalled by the song order, until I realised that it was based on the stage musical and not the film. As most people who know me will know, I know The Sound of Music inside out because in year 6 I was in the class production of it – based on the film rather than the musical. Personally I prefer the film version even though I have now seen this production as there is a much greater period in the film where Georg was away and the children’s relationship with Maria could develop and the viewer can see their transition from controlled to free children.

With the storyline of course remaining much the same, once I got over the songs, which happened about halfway through, especially after the appearance of Alexander Armstrong as Herr Dettweiler. In fact the entire cast were great, especially Kara Tointon as Maria. Her voice was as strong as Julie Andrews and she really managed to express all the nuances of the character, and the love she holds for her husband and adopted children.

Overall it was very hard to tell that the production was indeed live with no noticeable slip ups. Although it’s no replacement for the film for me, it was a fantastic introduction to the stage version of the popular story and well worth watching.


MRI and Lego

Again I have missed a day of posting and for that I apologise. But for yesterday’s post I want to talk about the below photo.


This is an MRI machine made out of Lego that I found last week. I can’t remember when I made it but it must have been between my MRI in 2011 and my operation in 2012, part of a Lego hospital I created. There was an ambulance with ramp, a small ward, a pharmacy, a bed on wheels and even a wheelchair but I am most proud of the MRI machine room. The bed slides into the machine through the window across the smooth panels, there are two benches for waiting (one inside and one outside) and there is a full control panel for the operator, who is naturally wearing a helmet as PPE.

Lego is so versatile and I’m glad I found this in order to share how I used it while I was going through my operation.



Today I came home from work and decided to watch some comedy from BBC iPlayer – and, as the name of this blog suggests, my choice was Have I Got News For You.

It’s a fantastic comment on what’s happening around the world and, in the case of the 2015 episode, across the year. It’s funny but also sensitive and you also can join in to some extent, if you’re quick.

Worth a watch!