Ad Astra – The ‘Is this a review?’ Post

Is this a review? Probably, but sometimes it’s quite hard to tell. Anyway, earlier today I braved the train-tram combination to see Ad Astra at the local IMAX.

And it’s a funny little thing – part 2001: A Space Odyssey, part Apocalypse Now, odd little bits that felt almost like b-reel from Beyond the Black Rainbow (especially certain parts of the Mars sequence) and what appeared to be some very visible sellotape.

The plot is relatively straight forward; bad things start happening to Earth, the military dispatch a man to the outer reaches of the solar system where they think his estranged father might be responsible for these bad things occurring, the hero stops them and then comes home to tell everyone that the universe is otherwise empty of life and so we should be happier and nicer to each other.

And yet we take a number of odd diversions along the way. Lunar rover driving moon pirates attack the hero as he transits between two American controlled installations and then, shortly afterwards, a brief stop-off at a Norwegian space station sees a barely introduced secondary character die via free-floating space baboon. Major actors (SutherlandNegga]) turn up for a few minutes, move the plot along a little and then disappear, never to be seen again. Liv Tyler – who, miraculously, actually manages to appear in all three acts! – seems to live in a parallel universe where every camera has a thin sheen of vaseline covering every lens. FX are what you would expect from a film of this budget and time-period but with only limited moments where it goes beyond the norm. There were no real moments where the IMAX format was used to it’s full effect.

I came away confused at what this film wanted to be – Apocalypse Now2001? A mediation on the need for family and community? A condemnation of the idea of sending people far outside of their natural habitat? – and, because of that, I walked away with a strong feeling that Ad Astra was far less than the sum of it’s influences and that this flaw ran all the way back to the beginnings of the production.

Dust Coated Departure by

Dust Coated Departure; a pleasant little EP from the I particularly like track three and, as Bandcamp seem to be offering it for free, I have taken an Apple Lossless copy of the entire thing.

A very long time ago one of Warren Ellis’ newsletters used to contain a section where he’d link out to new and interesting little things like this and I’d find a whole bunch of interesting things that way. Unfortunately, that seems to have fallen by the wayside and, horror of horrors, these days I actually have to look for new stuff!

Yorkshire Wildlife Park Expansion – Late August 2019

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So I went back to Yorkshire Wildlife Park at the end of August to find that they’ve started work on their recently approved expansion.

The expansion comprises the lower right section of the map. Unfortunately, the map images on the YWP website are in quite a low resolution and are difficult to gain any sense of detail on. I’ve looked on the Doncaster planning portal and, while I think everything is there, I’ve not yet been able to beat it’s unwieldy interface into submission and find HD versions of the approved plans.

First, a pair of shots taken from the leopard enclosure viewing platform showing the new connecting bridge in context with the existing park. The enclosure to the left of these images is the tiger enclosure.

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The Unicorn and the Penguin – Images from a trip to Edinburgh Zoo

More pictures uploaded, this time a gallery from a February 2019 trip to Edinburgh Zoo.

The Zoo itself feels very much like an organisation in flux. Some of the enclosures – the pandas, the tigers and the chimpanzee – felt very new and very modern while some of the others – I’m thinking of the lion enclosure in particular – felt very ‘old-school’ and old fashioned. Indeed, the lion enclosure – effectively a large metal cage that you walk up to and is very reminiscent of the what you might have expected 40 or 50 years ago – is worth contrasting with both Edinburgh’s own tiger enclosure – bright and open, with landscaping and an interesting walk-though section for the public – and Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s lion enclosure – large, interestingly designed with subtle and complimentary landscaping.

On the other hand, the large amount of building work we observed suggests that they know parts of the zoo need improvements and so we can hope that they get around to the lions sooner rather than later.

The day itself was cold, grey and dark but ultimately dry. At times fingers were cold and my camera struggled with the light and I think both of those are reflected in these images. Eventually I would like to make a summer trip back – as I think the summer sun zoo would show it’s best side – but even the crowds we encountered in February make the thought of summer holiday traffic seem daunting.

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Does anyone else get this? I seem to have broken the BBC website. I don’t seem to get it anywhere else and it doesn’t happen all the time but, when it does, I don’t seem to be able to get that chrome session to ever load that page.

It’s worth noting that I’ve never seen this with FireFox, so it might be either a browser issue or an issue with the two plugins I use (HTTPS Everywhere and uBlock Origin).

Lions and tigers and (polar) bears… oh my!

Another gallery added — this time two dozen or so shots from a trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in June 2019. I actually have two more sets from YWP that I need to process but time really does seem to have go away from me recently.

I also have another blog post to write, one similar to my Barnsley Glass Works post from last week, that covers some of the work done for YWP’s expansion.

Addendum: Though it’s well hidden, YWP’s news page actually has a populated, subscribable RSS feed. The whole site looks to be a fairly standard WordPress implementation and, though they’ve hidden the feed with the site’s theme, these feeds can be picked out of the HTML quite easily.