Batman : The Dark Knight

I went to watch the new Batman film earlier in the week with Amanda. I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical as to whether it would live up to all the hype in the media. few movies rarely live up to these kinds of expectations and can sadly leave you feeling rather disappointed. Batman:The Dark Knight, however, does not disappoint. It is an amazing movie. They seem to have really gone back to the origin’s of the character in the original comics – Christian Bale plays an intense, brooding Batman, and truly succeeds in capturing the characters stark duality. But whilst Batman might be the star of the show, it’s Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker that really lifts this movie. Heath Ledger’s Joker is mesmerizing – he succeeds in reinventing the character as a twitching, macabre, brutally evil psychopath who is smothered in gruesome, smeared make-up. His Joker wreaks bloody havoc across Gotham City with no apparent aim, it’s a spine-chilling character study from Ledger.

I thoroughly recommend this film!

On a seperate, related note, I also watched the new Batman: Gotham Knight, animated movie last night. It’s very much done in the same vain as the “Animatrix” movie, in that it this 80 minute movie is a collection of six short stories all masterfully animated using six very different styles that fills the timeline between Batman Begins, and Batman: The Dark Knight, and introduces some of the characters that appear in the sequel. If you’re an anime fan, definitely check this out.

truly inspiring …

Chris Abani tells stories of people: People standing up to soldiers. People being compassionate. People being human and reclaiming their humanity. It’s “ubuntu,” he says: the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me.

This is one of the most touching Ted Talks I have ever seen. With just a few simple, and unbelievably powerful stories, Chris Abani delivers messages of hope, human compassion and what I think he sees as the essential goodness within each of us.

Every day, all of us here, are building gods that have gone rampant.
And it's time we started knocking them down.
And forgetting their names.

Archery: Forest of Arden

Had another great shoot this weekend, and arguably the hardest shoot I have had so far. The Forest of Arden shoot is actually just outside Birmingham so it was a doddle to get to for us, the entire club was represented and we split up into two groups. I shot with Simon, John and Tony; Richard shot with Phil, Alex, Cliff and Andrew. It was a difficult shoot … Forty 3D targets over some pretty long distances at wildly different elevations, plus no lunch break – we started at 10:30 and finished at around 5pm, so yeah by the end of it we were all shattered.

Alex doesn’t seem to like Bambi!

The shoot itself was really well laid out and spread throughout the forest, it’s the first time I’ve ever taken part in an event that featured only 3D targets, in other words no 2D pictures! The targets themselves varied in size and shape, from Lions to tiny crocodiles. What made this so challenging though was that a) the targets were generally much further away than on any other shoot I’ve competed in and b) the elevation of the targets also varied. Some were at the top of a hill, others you had to shoot down at from the top of a 30 ft hill. This meant there were no easy shots, particularly if you are shooting with longbow or in the HT category where you have to compensate for elevation and distance far more than archers who use compound bows.

Although I think I did very very well I did loose in inordinate amount of arrows, some were lost in the undergrowth which was very dense, and with some of my others the points came off rendering them useless 🙁 I even ended up having to borrow a couple of arrows from Richard and John to complete the shoot, but because these were much heavier than my normal arrows it was far more difficult to shoot with them over these distances. .

Simon lining up a shot.

I still think I did really well though, at one point I went through a 6 target spree, scoring a kill / inner kill with my first arrow on each which is a great feeling especially when you having to judge distances with just your instincts. It’s all great preparation for the Southwest Challenge in Devon from the 1st -8th of August, which I’m taking part in this year, and am really looking forward to.

As always I’ve uploaded some pictures to my flickr account …. here.

Love’s Secret

     Love's Secret

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

   by William Blake

Institution vs Collaboration

Been doing a lot of thinking recently about network effects, participation and collaboration. This Ted talk by Clay Shirky, although three years old, was made available a few day’s ago and might seem a bit dated to some, but Shirky demonstrates and explains how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small, often individual, contributors have a significant roles and their fluid cooperation replaces rigid, institutional, planning.

This is hugely relevant to our thinking in our Xiphos division and the projects I’m currently working on.

Archery: Audley Bowman

Had fun last weekend on what was my first NFAS field shoot in a couple of months, wasn’t too sure how i’d get on, but we did practise during the week leading up to the shoot at Audley Bowman’s near Stoke. We also decided that since I’m competing in the Great Devon Challenge on the 1st August, which is an 8 day shoot, I needed to switch to slightly more powerful bow. The Audley shoot was the first time I had ever shot with it and I have to confess it was not easy, I struggled to draw the bow at first, but during the course of the day I became used to it. So much so that I scored one of my highest scores ever, 484, and actually managed to outscore all the the members of our club.

It was a slightly unusual shoot from my perspective because it was divided into two separate courses, each of 18 targets. The two courses were set up in a field and in a wood about a half a mile away so it might have been a little disconcerting for the locals to see a hundred or so archers wandering through their village. It was also a very wet day, hence a lack of photos, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

It was also the first shoot in which every member of the club took part – so KNTA was well represented on the day, it was me, Richard, Cliff, Simon, John, Tony, Phil and Alex. I was competing in the mens HT along with Simon, whilst Phil was competing in the Junior HT. Everyone else was shooting longbow on the day. Tony, Phil and Alex all won medals on the day in their individual categories which was great for them and for the club.

It was a great day, as usual all my pictures are on flickr here.

Book Thing

My friend/colleague Elliot recently did the exercise over on his blog and I thought I’d follow suit.

The rules are:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list on your own blog.

I’ve adapted this slightly, and have only highlighted things I’ve read.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible (yes I have read it all, The New International Version most recently thanks to Rob)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ( yes I have, my father gifted me a copy of the complete works and I did spend an inordinate amount of time reading through it all)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres (yes it was cos a chick recommended it)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert (many, many times)
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (good, but not that good)
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (have the complete works, i loved this stuff, sad I know)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo