D4D

Don't get mad - get a shotgun.

A Tale of Two Macbeths

As I said earlier in the week, over the last two weekends I’ve ended up seeing two versions of Macbeth, one at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon starring Christopher Eccleston, and one at the National Theatre in London, with Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff .

It’s a weird piece of scheduling – for whatever reason, I’d have expected the two main theatre companies to at least communicate a bit, in order for this kind of clash to not happen. However, everyone else I’ve said that to has said “No, they don’t talk”, but all the same it seems pretty odd to me – not least because as well as those two, there’s also the Verdi operatic version also being performed at the same time at the Royal Opera House !

Anyway, for my purposes, it made it interesting to be able to compare the two performances in such proximity.

For me, the RSC version was the one I preferred, although both had flaws.  In the RSCs version, parts of the stage set weren’t visible from our seats – seats that hadn’t been marked as ‘restricted view’ – which was annoying.  It’s a modern-dress setup, which is fine with me, but sticks with a more traditional timescale all the same. The witches were played by a trio of young (9-10 years old) who all spoke in sync, and were extremely good at being creepy. The porter in this one was very good, quite creepy, always on stage, and marking off all the deaths in chalk on the wall.  I hadn’t noticed that initially, but it was very effectively done in later scenes where news of Macbeth’s rule, and the deaths involved – seeing them all getting marked on the walls was a very effective way of putting the point across. We weren’t just seeing the on-stage deaths, this despot was killing all and sundry, feeling invincible while doing it.

We were very early in the run, so there were some hitches with lines not being perfect – but I am seeing it again with different friends later in the run, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s changed – but all told I thought it was a pretty good performance, and really good to see Christopher Ecclestone doing his thing.

The NT version was much more modern, supposedly staged ‘after a revolution’, on a blackened stage. It is very dark in general, but also emphatically trying too hard (in my opinion, of course!) and in particular I felt the witches were less effective as a result. Rory Kinnear was good as Macbeth, as was Anne-Marie Duff as Lady Macbeth, but most of the rest of the cast faded in the memory very quickly.   There’s one particular scene with the witches that is very effectively creepy, but the rest is just… meh.  I wasn’t overly taken with the production – and it manages to miss the ‘double double toil and trouble’ speech completely – but I’m still glad I went to see it, and to compare two quite different interpretations of the same play.

A Different Value of New

Out of interest, how the hell do the BBC get to promote a show as “Brand New!” when it’s been exhumed from the 80s and 90s (and potentially the 2000s, too)

Yes, I’m referring to the “Brand New… Generation Game“.

What. The. Absolute. Fuck?

Q1 Done

This coming weekend, the end of March, is the first weekend this year that I’ve had free.

Until Friday, it wasn’t free, but plans changed – which is fine. It had been a chain change – yesterday became free because of another change, which meant I could bring the planned day-trip for next Sunday back to this one, and it all worked out pretty well.

It meant that yesterday was daftly busy, with a day-trip down to see friends in North Somerset, with an early start leaving by 6.30am – just what you need on the day that the clocks also went forwards an hour – to get down there, and getting home at 23.30 in the evening. A Looooooong day, but a good one.   I’d already spent the Saturday in London, doing a fair amount of walking, and seeing Macbeth at the National Theatre (having already seen the RSC’s version of Macbeth last Saturday!)

Anyway, that all means that, at the end of the first quarter of the year, I actually have two weekends on the trot where I have nothing booked in or organised. Which is pretty weird, and is already making me somewhat twitchy.

I’ll still be doing things, and I’ve got some plans in place for both weekends – but they’re all more random and disorganised, it’s nothing scheduled or appointments.

And to be honest, that’s just fine with me.

Utterly Unsurprised

At the moment the media is full of the story about Cambridge Analytica, and it’s use of Facebook profiles/data in order to (allegedly) provide personality profiles and feedback to campaigns such as the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Personally, I’m more surprised at how shocked and amazed most people are about this.

Facebook has never really been about being useful to people – it’s always been a marketer’s wet-dream, getting people to voluntarily enter information about themselves, as well as about their interests, social connections, preferences, brands, and so on.  The ‘social network’ thing was effectively a mechanism to make things work better for advertisers and marketers – it drew people in, it made them happy to give up their data, and their ‘reward’ was to connect with other people.

In the case of Cambridge Analytica, they appear to have taken the submitted data and linked profiles (as well as the ‘friends of friends’ profiles, which is pretty dodgy as they didn’t consent to it themselves, but again, I’m pretty sure that was part of Facebook’s allowances at the time) and then made use of that data for their own uses.  Which isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – Facebook’s problem.  Supposedly the data from Facebook ‘wasn’t meant to be shared with others’, but that’s pretty tricky to word. If a vendor has sold me something (regardless of whether that product is data, goods, services, or whatever) and I’ve paid for it, then it’s mine to with as I will.  It’s no longer the vendor’s responsibility.  Otherwise we’re saying “I bought a car and drove it at people, it’s the vendor’s fault, they shouldn’t have sold it to me“, which is frankly fucking ridiculous.

There’ll be a lot more of these ‘stories’ to come out now, from any number of different data providers/handlers.  Now Facebook are in the media’s gunsights, they’re going to have a tough time getting out of it.  (And bearing in mind the ubiquity of Facebook logins on other sites for things like commenting, etc., it’s going to be quite the shitshow, I suspect)

All told, though, it’s just utterly unsurprising – except for the apparent shock of so many people who seemed to think that Facebook was some kind of benevolent ‘let the world stay in touch’ thing, with no cynical over-arching purpose, budget, plan, or activities.

Darwin Strikes Again

I can’t deny, there’s a certain part of me that is quite happy with Darwinism, and the way idiots seem to find new and exciting ways to take themselves out of the genepool.  (And before anyone asks, I’ve been reading the Darwin Awards for years!)

Today’s news carried the story of an American couple where one was killed “as a YouTube prank” because he believed that a thick book would stop a bullet. So he put said book over his chest, and got his partner to shoot him.  Yep, you read that right.  (It’s also worth noting that the book was only 1.5 inches thick. So, not very.)

Bear in mind, when people are testing firearms, one medium that’s used to fire into is a block of telephone directories. (You can see an example here on YouTube, and there are many others)  So a book that’s less than two inches thick? Yeah, no chance.

As it turns out – unsurprisingly – the guy died.  His girlfriend – the one he persuaded to make the shot – has now been jailed for six months, although as the story says, the sentence is actually pretty lenient, as it’s obvious that the entire plan was made by the now-deceased, and his partner was just an idiot who believed he knew what he was talking about.

Yes, it’s a sad story, but at the same time it’s also a story of pretty epic stupidity…

False Flags

Over the last week or so, there’s been an incredible amount of news coverage about the (alleged) ‘attempted assassination’ of an Russian ex-spy in Salisbury.

Today, the news has been full of stuff about how the nerve-agent used ‘points the finger at Moscow’, which just pings all the ‘yeah, but’ bells in my head.

Now, I’m not trying to say “Russia wasn’t involved”, because I simply don’t know.  But… this sort of “well it must’ve been them, they’re the ones who made it” ‘evidence’ and hype always makes me a bit twitchy.  If you extrapolate that, you might as well say that a car manufacturer must be responsible for every accident on the road, “because they’re the ones who made it”.

I don’t know enough on this one way or the other.  But if I were a player on a much larger political stage, and I wanted to (for example) divert public and media attention away from one ongoing political clusterfuck, and point it all somewhere else, I’d be looking at making a Big Bad Enemy that can be blamed for Why You Should Be Afraid. And I’d probably work to either get materials that can be attributed to that Big Bad Enemy, or… well, or just make up all that ‘evidence’. Because of course it’s all ‘top secret’ and ‘in the interests of national security’, so they’re never going to produce that evidence in public anyway.

And it’s impossible to imply that only Russia had access to this stuff.  If nothing else, American scientists (and there’s no way there weren’t security/agency personnel in that entourage!) visited and helped decontaminate the plant where the nerve agents in question were being produced.  If they were approved for Russian military use (and they were) then those nerve agents would’ve been distributed to army installations and so on. All too easy at that point for them to be ‘mislaid’ and/or sold or stolen to anyone else.

All told, this entire story stinks, and rings very much as “A big boy did it, and ran away!”  It’s all just a bit convenient.

Low on Steps – Followup

Following on from my “back to normal” post on Monday, things have worked out somewhat differently.

I somehow managed to twist my back and put it out – something to do with slipping a step while avoiding treading on a cat on a staircase, I’m pretty sure – which means that things are a bit more painful than I’d been expecting.

I still managed to get in the walking target on Monday, and utterly failed yesterday. Today’s looking like it’ll be OK, and I’m sure I’ll manage for the rest of the week.

Thankfully, it’s not (so far as I can tell) a major issue, more that a couple of muscles are properly clenched and not doing me any favours.  Initially it hurts like a bastard as I walk, and then eases off. That first phase lasts about five minutes, and hurts enough that it’s making my hips and pelvis hurt because I’m obviously walking differently and clenching different muscles.

Then it eases off. I’m aware of it still, and not walking at my usual speed, but it’s all tolerable and so on.

Even so, though, fucking OW.

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