Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oscar noms and Google Video

Well the Oscar nominations were announced today, these can be found here:


My reaction?

Pretty much what I was expecting, no huge surprises anyway.

I now have to really get around to watching some of these films before the awards, namely: Brokeback Mountain, The Constant Gardener, Crash and Good Night and Good Luck (all of which I hope to see over the next few weeks). Even though I haven’t seen these films, I’m still left with the impression that this has got to be one of the weaker years for films as far as the Oscars go. And Munich? Munich up for best picture? Hmm, yeah, right.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m mad and sad enough to watch the ceremony live (from around 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.) and that I also try to predict the winners prior to the ceremony. My success rate is normally over 50% , but this may be a hard year to predict…
Once I have decided on my predictions, I’ll likely post them here…

I've also recently been taking a look at Google Video recently... The video below made me laugh :)


Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Tenants(?) Shiri and Munich

We had a few viewings of our flat on Friday and Saturday and it now looks likely that we should be getting some new tenants. The lease has yet to be signed, but we have not just one, but two interested parties, so hopefully things should be settled soon (fingers crossed). Also hopefully these tenants will be of the honest paying variety and not the scum that we had to deal with previously.

Films watched:
This is the most successful Koren film to date and as I’ve come to enjoy Asian films in recent years, I wanted to give this one a try. It also stars some of the actors from Oldboy and Lost, both of which I have enjoyed.

Overall, the film was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t particularly bad, but then it wasn’t particularly striking either. The plot turns were very predictable, as was the action. Really it just seemed very much like your average Hollywood thriller, with very little added style or panache. Overall, very average.


This is a film that I was really looking forward to. Mainly because it is a Spielberg film, but also because I know that it is a film that Spielberg has felt passionately about for some time now.

My reaction?

Utter disappointment. Overall the film was over long, unengaging, uninteresting and instantly forgettable. The subject matter did not grab me at all, or peak my interest in the slightest. Whilst I must admit that I am unfamiliar with the political aspects and history of Israel as well as the event of Munich in 1972, there was just nothing for me to relate to. Then again the same could be said of the plight of the Jews and World War 2, but I still enjoyed Schindlers List, it still grabbed my interest and gave me something to relate to and emotionally connect. Munich had none of that, I just felt nothing for the victims or the perpetrators.

I’m sure if you have a strong vested interest in the events of Munich 1972 this film may mean a great deal to you, otherwise, it’ll likely just wash right over you, like it has with me.

Without a doubt the most disappointing Spielberg film I have ever watched.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Well Nintendo have revealed the new slimline DS.

My reaction... I isn't the radical change that was the Gameboy Advance to the Gameboy Advance SP, but still it looks like a must buy purchase (for me at least). This also goes a long way to explain the DS shortages in Japan at the moment, as it is obvious that they are readying this new design for launch.

It's certainly a lot more stylish than the current model and will make the PSP look a hell of a less "portable" than it already isn't. I'm sure that it'll sell like hotcake (in Japan at least)...

Games playing:
Mario Kart DS
There should definitely be some sort of penalty imposed on people who play Mario Kart online and disconnect, just because they’re losing. The other day, I joined a game, which totalled 4 players (including me obviously). They were all relative “newbies” to the game, going by their rankings, so generally I was winning each race. In the first race, one player disconnected, because he was way behind, in the second race another player disconnected for the same reason. This left just the two of us, then in the third race he disconnected as well.

For goodness sake, even if you’re losing show the grace to finish the race... I know even if I'm playing against vastly better opposition (which is getting rarer these days), then I can tip the favour in my balance by a careful choice of circuit... Can't other people do the same? Is there online win / lose stats that precious to them that they feel they need to disconnect?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Empty flat, screaming haircut, Four and 12 angry men

First of all, the good news.

Our scum that is non-paying tenants moved out of the flat today… It’s now empty. The bad news being that we obviously don’t have any replacement tenants yet, but we’re advertising again soon. So if you know anyone who wants to rent a reasonably priced 3 bedroom flat, let me know!

We cut Elliot’s hair yesterday and it’s a good thing that our tenants had moved out, otherwise they would have thought that we were torturing him with all the screaming (he’s not to fund of haircuts). He seems to have recovered and is in a better mood today… As can be seen from the photo below.

Happened to see that the trailer for Silent Hill has recently made its way online. Unlike other game adaptations, this actually looks reasonably good. I just hope it keeps the utterly freaky atmosphere of the game, but things are looking promising.

It can be found here:

Films watched:
12 Angry Men
Picked this up in the Amazon sale.

It’s just such a simple premise for a movie. Almost the entire film is set in one room, with 12 members of a jury, 11 of which are convinced that a teenager accused of murder is guilty, whilst 1 believes that there is reasonable doubt that he isn’t guilty.

All the different jurors are from different background and have different ideals and prejudices, and this one man (Peter Fonda) is doing his best to put his case forward.

A great character study and a wonderful film.


And since Steve “tagged me”, although you’ll notice the lack of any further tagging… this madness has to stops somewhere :-
Four jobs I’ve had in my life
1. Window Designer
2. Post Clerk
3. Counter Supervisor
4. Tax Inspector

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Vertigo
2. The Graduate
3. Aliens
4. The Shawshank Redemption

Four places I have lived
1. Castel, Guernsey
2. St Peter Port, Guernsey
3. St Peter Port, Guernsey
4. And a heck of a lot more at St Peter Port, Guernsey

Four TV shows I love to watch
1. Lost
2. 24
3. Firefly
4. Battlestar Galactica

Four places I have been on vacation/holiday
1. Japan
2. Canada
3. America
4. Thailand

Four of my favourite dishes
1. Crispy Chilli Chicken
2. Steak Diane (very rare)
3. Haggis
4. Takeout from KFC

Four websites I visit daily
1. Eurogamer
2. Aint it Cool News
3. BBC news
4. Revo-europe.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tenants - the continuing saga

So after seeing the tenants briefly Saturday… Since then… Nothing.

All day Sunday (the final deadline for payment), we did not see them at all. I had told them that if we had not received payment by Sunday, then I expect them to move out on Sunday, but there was no sign of any removal van either.

It occurred to me that I have access (without needing to go into the flat) to the water supply for the flat, and I was tempted to turn this off. Roz, however, thought that this was unethical and her pals on Mumsnet only agreed with her. I didn’t turn it off in the end, but I’m still tempted.

Anyway, after putting Elliot to bed, around 8:00ish, we heard the toilet flush from the flat (something that is quite definitely audible from our maisonette). I went downstairs, but could see no lights on, I knocked on the door several times, but there was no response. So I walked around the back of our building to the garden, again checking for lights. By the bathroom window, I could feel that the extractor fan was still on, clearly indicating again, that someone was in the flat.

After knocking again and trying their home phone to no response I went back upstairs. I tried our tenants mobile number and managed to get through to her.

She explained (clearly drunk, her words slurred) that she had split up with her partner and that she wasn’t going to pay us. I insisted that she moves out straight away and she said that she will move out as soon as possible. I asked when and she said on Monday. I explained that if her possessions were still in the flat after 7 days, I was within my rights, according to the lease to sell on her possessions, and would do so. I finally asked if she was downstairs and she told me that she wasn’t.

It then occurred to Roz and I that if she wasn’t downstairs and she had spilt up with her partner, that it could very well be her children downstairs. Perhaps she had told them not to turn on the lights and not to answer the door under any circumstances.

Roz, infuriated at the thought, phoned up the police, and shortly afterwards a policeman arrived on the scene. Again he tried knocking and had no response. He phoned up our tenant and asked where her children where and she informed him that they were with babysitters and with that, left the scene.

After this we were both still on edge and Roz said that she didn’t think that she’d b able to sleep not knowing what was happening downstairs. She also started to think that she could smell smoke.

With this in mind, I decided to go down myself.

Before entering the flat I announced that I was about to enter. I opened the door and turned on the lights. Then before entering each room I announced that I was about to enter and then turned on the lights…There was no one down there. Apart from the creepy sensation of walking around, thinking that there was an enraged baseball bat wielding ex-boyfriend around every corner, that was it!

The thing is, later on I thought I heard further noises downstairs… Does this mean that someone snuck out and then snuck back in again or was there someone perhaps hiding in a cupboard?

All in all, it was a very odd evening…

Roz has now been to the Sheriff’s Office this morning to arrange for a notice for them to quite the property. It’ll be interesting to see if they move their possessions out today, although I very much doubt it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kong, karts, phantoms and tenants.

Another day, and another issue with our tenants.

I wanted to try to have a word with them yesterday, to basically find out what the hell is going on. Namely, whether they plan to pay us or leave. They didn’t seem to come home at all however, so I couldn’t speak to them. We ended up waking up in the night, however, and heard that they were now downstairs. They must have snuck in very late.

So instead I intended to speak to them early in the morning. I went down quite early (8:00-8:30 ish), but again, no one there, they must have snuck out early to avoid us.

I finally managed to catch them briefly in the afternoon and was told that he mother would be bringing down a loan cheque for us tonight. So far, nothing. Do I think that a cheque will materialise? Not really to be honest.

If not, I have made it very clear to them that if payment is not received by tomorrow, that under the terms of the lease, they will be required to leave. If they don’t leave then (apart from totally loosing my cool), Roz and I have looked into what is required to get them legally evicted.

I’m also pleased to mention that Elliot has been in an exceptional mood today, and has been a real pleasure to be around. It probably also helped that Roz was out with Elliot for some time in the morning and the afternoon, so I had a little break, which was exceptionally kind of her. Also, tomorrow, he’s going with his grandparents to see his great granny Machon, so that will give us another break tomorrow morning…

Films watched:
Phantom of the Opera
After watching the Producers at the cinema the other night, I was in the mood for another musical, and as I hadn’t seen this yet since we bought it on DVD, I thought that this was the most likely candidate.

It’s rather strange watching an adaptation of a musical that I love so much on the stage. There is much that is done right here, but also much that could have been done so much better. I guess that once you have seen this performed live, anything less than this seems a tad hollow. As such, I find the film less emotionally involving than the stage musical.

You also have to remember of course that this is directed by none other than Joel Schumacher. The director who brought us the train wreck of a film that was Batman and Robin. Thankfully, this film is him back on the same form as Lost Boys and Flatliners.

I must say however, that the most disappointing thing is that at the end of the film, when the phantom’s face is finally revealed, it isn’t THAT bad. Unlike the stage version, where he does look like a monstrous deformity, here it just looks like bad acne… and really, after that, any sympathy you feel for him flies out the window.


Games Played:
King Kong
I managed to complete this earlier today.

It’s probably one of the most immersive movie adaptations I’ve played to date (not that I tend to play them much) and also, dare I say it, better than the film it was based upon.

It’s strange that the game should work so well, splitting the action between third-person Kong and first-person The Writer (can’t remember his name), but strangely it does.

Mario Kart
Also managed to complete this a few days ago.

Even though I’ve completed the main Grand Prix mode, I still have the missions to complete and I’ve also been trying my hand at beating the staff ghosts on the time trials, and of course, playing online where my wins have just overtaken my loses in the ratings.

Great game, great fun.

I just wish that those online disconnectors could be dealt with…

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More tenant stress… and The Producers

Well… The tenants DIDN’T pop any money up to me this evening so I went back down (AGAIN) to have words with them.

She explained that her Aunt had been found dead recently in her car and that she was currently understandably upset (she was crying at the time). Roz told me that there has been a story in the press recently about a woman being found dead in a car, so this at least collaborates. The cynical side of me fined this a little convenient timing wise and suspect that she may be fibbing for extra time.

I told her basically that I was very sorry for her loss, but the money was still required, and if this wasn’t received by the 22nd, then we would have to ask her to leave. She replied by saying that her mother would be dropping a loan cheque down this evening for the amount and would post it though our door.

Guess what… After returning from the cinema… No cheque!!!!!


Film watched:
The Producers.
I enjoyed the original, but it has been absolutely ages since I last saw it. This has got to be the only film which is a film of the stage musical, which is based on a film about a stage musical… Try explaining that to someone!

Although the beginning of the film was just a little too close to the original for my liking, it picked up very quickly and generally I really enjoyed it. The film did tend to loose a little momentum towards the end and could have been around 15 minutes shorter, but that’s not really a great issue.

Generally a very entertaining and amusing musical that harks back in many ways to the golden age of Hollywood musicals.

It definitely lacked the topless chorus girls from Springtime for Hitler in the original, which was a shame, as they only added to the generally tastelessness of the whole production.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A “bounced” cheque and Guernsey Bloggers

Okay then. Our new tenants signed their lease on the 8th January, at which time they should have paid the deposit required and also the first months rent. As this was a Sunday however, we agreed that they could pay it on the Monday (when they actually moved in). On the Monday they said that they needed another day or two to get money from their parents to pay us and eventually we got a cheque.

Just the other day, we found out that the cheque has just bounced.

I went down to speak to them last night and explained that according to the lease if I did not receive payment by the 22nd January, the lease was null and void and they would need to move out on that date.

She assured me that the money had cleared at her account and that she will get the cash for us, which she will give me tonight. We shall see tonight if this materialises.

We cannot afford to own the additional flat without getting rent towards the additional mortgage, so obviously this is the last thing we need right now. We have a little backup money, but not a lot, and we would prefer not to dip into our limited savings unless necessary. I’m hoping that we do get the money soon, as although they haven’t been the most reliable of tenants so far, at least they’re reasonable quiet. Also, so long as we get the deposit, we always have this to fall back on in case they give us any further payment problems.

Ah… The life of a landlord is far from simple!

I recently took a look on Blogger at the number of fellow bloggers who live in Guernsey. I was rather surprised at how few there are who maintain up to date blogs. There's really just Sameranda (who I was aware of), and that’s it! I know of 2 more Guernsey resident who write blogs, neither of which are on Blogger. I’m well aware that Blogger isn’t the only service to offer blogs, but so far as I was aware, it’s the most popular. Don’t other people in Guernsey have anything interested to say? I know that I rarely have anything “interesting to say”, but that’s another matter entirely :)

On a more positive note I hope to pop out tonight to go and see The Producers. So I’ll likely be posting my views here idc.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Click to - Damn you!

I’m damn annoyed with Sony’s Click to DVD program.

Every time I try to create a new DVD with edited footage of Elliot from his 1st to 2nd birthday, I end up getting a runtime error. The Sony site is no help at all, nor does it have any advice on the actual program help file.

It’s so damn annoying. I’ve tried cutting down the footage, playing about with the settings, but nothing seems to work!

I have a couple more DVD editing programs, but these are significantly more complex and I haven’t taken a detailed look into the yet. However, I’m fearful that it’ll mean that I have to re-edit the whole lot again. That’s about 2 ½ hours worth of footage which I’d edited down to just over an hour – it took me a damn long time to do in the first place and I’m not too keen on doing it a second time.

I’ve taken a look at the files to see if these have been edited and placed separately for these to be simply transferred, but this is not at all obvious. In fact I did notice that on every attempt that I had made of creating this DVD, the folder was crammed with duplicated files… Eventually reducing the hard drive space on the PC to next to nil (although this has now been remedied).

Why is it with these “simple” programs, that it can’t be really simple? Grrrr….

Films watched:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
This is a classic film, which I’ve always wanted to see, but just haven’t gotten around to seeing until just recently.

This is the final part of the Spaghetti Western trilogy and is probably the best of the bunch. It’s much more epic in scope than the other “dollars” films, but it still doesn’t reach the heights of Once Upon a Time in West.

You just have to love that theme tune though :-)


Prince of Darkness
One of the last truly great John Carpenter films made, after this and “They Live” he seemed to slip into the levels of mediocre.

Quite an unusual films which explored the possibility of evil in the form of Satan, being a physical force (as strangely enough a large jar of green liquid) trapped by the catholic church and kept in secret.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tenants, stress and Tetris

First of all, we have at last got tenants for our flat.

We had a few concerns however, namely because they seemed so desperate to move into the flat Sunday and as such signed the lease on Sunday morning, but didn’t actually move in until Monday evening. Then, the first months rent and deposit was due to be paid on the signing of the lease, but we agreed that they could pay this on Monday. Come Monday evening and this was not paid. I went down and collected a cheque yesterday (Tuesday) and will just have to cross my fingers that this doesn’t bounce.

They should gave set up a standing order for future months rent, so further months shouldn’t be as stressful, however, right now over the last few days, my stress levels have felt like they were going through the roof.

There has obviously been the stress associated with the tenants, work related stress, Elliot related playschool stress, my health hasn’t been great of late and numerous other smaller things which have been getting to me recently. Overall, I haven’t been the most fun to be around as of late…

At least we do have tenants now, which is half the battle won, I just hope that payment from them is consistent and that we don’t have any further problems.

Have just recently read on the internet that Nintendo will be releasing a DS version of Tetris in 2006. In the US this is due to launch in March, so hopefully it should be similar over here. The added bonus is that it was be playable on the online wi fi connection, meaning up to 4 player Tetris fun around the globe! So in the coming months there is Animal Crossing, Metroid Hunter and Tetris now to look forward to online. All good stuff…

Now if only Nintendo did an online Advance Wars I’d be sorted!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Playschool, ipods, drugs, dollars & kung fu.

It was Elliot’s first day at playschool on Thursday and I’d taken the morning off so that I could take him with Roz. I’m pleased to say that it seemed to go very well. It was just half a session for his first day, but when we came to pick him up he seemed to have enjoyed himself and did not seem too upset at all. He had asked the childminders for a cuddle a couple of times, but other than this he seemed fine. It is quite possible that things may get a little worse after a few days at playgroup as he starts to realise that this has to be a regular things, but a good start is a good start and shouldn’t be sneezed at.

Went to the doctors again earlier this week and have now been put on all manner of drugs to help deal with my sinus problem amongst other things. Each day I now have an anti-allergy tablet to take, another tablet to help clear sinus infections, nose drops, antidepressants and 5 (yes count them) 5 steroid tablets a day. I’m actually starting to feel a little better today, so hopefully they’re starting to do their job. The antidepressants are because I have been feeling rather low for the last month or so. I think that this is partly because I haven’t felt like I’ve been handling Elliot very well of late, but there are other factors (work and flat stress) that contribute. Lets see if I can get back to a slightly cheery self again.

As I spend significantly less on a new LCD than I’d budgeted for, I decided to splash out and buy myself a 5th generation video ipod (30gb). So far both Roz and I have been very impressed. The amount of songs that you can fit on it really is quite astonishing. We have been piling on the CD’s, but so far there is still only a fraction of space used. My only annoyance is that it doesn’t appear as if you can copy tracks direct to the ipod and instead you need to use hard drive space to store the songs in addition to the room on the ipod. Surely it would be simpler if these were transferred just to your ipod, especially if they’re not being used on the PC?

We had our second advert in the press today for our flat. For £70.00 we have an advert for 2 days and so far, just 2 phone calls. One viewing and possibility, the other, not interested. Both Roz and I really are starting to get a little stressed at the prospect of not finding a tenant again. Fingers crossed for more phone calls tomorrow.

Films watched:
For a Few Dollars More
Now this really is a great western. Whilst “For a Fistful of Dollars” seemed a little ragged around the edges, this really is near perfection. I just love Lee Van Cleef in this film, more so than Clint Eastwood.

Whilst this isn’t as epic and grand a picture as Once Upon a Time in the West, it makes up for it with great pace and a lighter touch.

Just The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to watch now. I can’t believe that I’ve never gotten around to watching this before. Looking forward to this a great deal, as many people consider this to be the pinnacle of the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns, above even Once Upon a Time in the West.


Kung Fu Hustle
This is a film that I had planned to go and watch whilst in London, but with the obvious crisis that arose at the time I visited, I never got the chance and have only gotten around to watching this now (it was a Christmas present).

This has got to be one of the wackiest films I have seen in ages. It a little like looney tunes (but without the animation) mixed up with a Jackie Chan movie. Absolutely hilarious at times and spectacular at other times. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of martial arts movies … or just great comedies (of course so long as you don’t mind subtitiles).