With the working week I’ve just had I’m reminded of a quote that has stayed in my mind from years gone by. “Life itself is very simple; it is us that choose to complicate it.”

I think this is so true. Brought home to me by so many things, but recently by reading about how so many banks and businesses are constantly sustaining denial of service attacks on their networks. Another link was because a program about a guy who sold everything and who bought a remote island and now lives there with his girlfriend. She came out for a holiday and has now given up her life too to be with him. The admiration I have of him leaving the rat race and technology behind is somewhat tainted by the notion that pretty much all of it has stemmed from using technology.

Back to the network attacks on banks and businesses, this problem is only going to get more prevalent and be more successful in the future I think. We have sought to make our lives easier and by doing such, we have actually made them far more complex than they need to be.

With each increment of change, with each technical advance we limit our own imagination on a wider scale, to a more intrinsic level, and we only increase our dependability on something so fragile, and that can be so technically advanced in so many ways, whole systems can be brought down by the submission or subtraction of a . or a /. Did you see them all?

Recently, even a very prominent bank announced that it had an outage of service not because of an attack on its network but caused by “The complexity of the banks own internal systems.”

I know technology allows us to do so much, but we are becoming far too dependent on it and it is being ‘deployed’ into places and applications where it is not needed. It’s involvement superfluous, it’s operation only known when some sensor for something that doesn’t need a sensor sends out a spurious error that no one understands for something that is still working. Some automobile manufactures sell their cars on whether it has hot spot wireless technology. It’s purpose and technical ability as a car almost going unrecognized. The physical tactile craftsmanship of instrument binnacles with bezels and dials. Replaced by a heads up display of a “virtual cockpit environment.” I would think to myself, this isn’t a virtual environment; I am here, aren’t I? Driver-less cars unveiled in London this week signals the dawning of yet another new development.

Parents wait at the gates of schools for their children, head down stuck into their phone. Their children then come home and ‘plug’ themselves into mobile devices.

I know technology can allow us freedom, I know it allows us to create, and do things generations before couldn’t even dream of. But it is coming at a price, a huge cost, and we are yet to see it.

Companies spending time and millions developing apps and games and systems that stretch boundaries but that can limit our own.

Children and adults whose world would descend into misery if they can’t connect to wi-fi or if their battery dies. Social events that are brilliant and engaging, overshadowed by the flashing light of a new text message, voicemail, or email.

Every computer, every application, has a limitation. The algorithms and anomalies that make it function can be incredibly complex. Partly because it has to interact with so many other variables within its platform.

Can you try something? If you have children, try drawing or painting with them or writing, using a pen, or a pencil, and paints. Imagination limited only by the size of the paper. Would you dare try taking that ‘mobile device’ away?

I’ve just seen an article online from The New Yorker dedicating its time to the demise of Twitter. According to the author, something Twitter used to be was “essential” apparently. However have I survived by not being part of it?

Another thing that ‘bugs’ me is the adverts telling us that we need a smart phone for everything. Pretty soon, I think we are all in danger of a need to be sold apps that tell us how to breathe. And what happens if they go wrong?

Mark Scotchford © 29/01/2016

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The Hateful Eight

Personally I think this film should have been called The Wasteful 187. Because that’s how many minutes of your life you’ll spend watching it if you go to see the road show version. The general release version is 167 minutes. I wish I had of known the general release version was shorter; I would have seen it instead.

There is no point in mentioning spoiler alert because I’m sure, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for many years, you’ll probably have an incline as to how Tarantino’s films play out. Here he has helped us figure out the plot by giving us the number of people involved, and a hint at their emotional state. Really, this is all Tarantino needs as a reason for the plot, if you can call it that. Now all we have to do is wait to see how they all die in some gruesome, disgusting, crimson dripping way.

Yes, the cinematography is sublime. Yes we have brilliant acting by a cast that should have all known better, and be doing better things. There are the quirky idiosyncrasies of Tarantino’s work, some of which is meaningless, some thought provoking and some manufactured, confusing and pointless.

Lots of black horses pulling a carriage and only one white one. Then there are slow motion shots of the white and back horses running side by side together. Close up shots of boots stepping off a carriage. There is a scene where the focus pans back and forth between a woman singing while playing a guitar and two men talk in the background. In this particular instance the scene goes on way too long, and without much significance, and the woman is toothless and chained, blood covered and condemned to death.

I guess that’s the point. I get some of what he does. Needless to say, as you can guess, I’m not a fan. I do see what he can do. He seems like someone who has a lot of talent but just seems to waste it trying to get attention and shock people.

I didn’t get the whole filmed on 70mm thing either. It made the sound inconsistent and of a lesser quality, it made the colours flicker more than seems natural and it made the text of the credits curl up at the end.

Of course the harshness of the location came across. But in truth, I think a child with a camera phone could have captured that. All be it without the poise and poetry of Tarantino’s direction, aided brilliantly by the cinematography by Robert Richardson

As the film went on, the dialogue became as tired as the cast would be walking through the snow. It became repetitive and dull, in fact nigh on infuriating. And as for the repeated use of some words which some if not most would find hideously offensive, it just isn’t necessary. It’s just ridiculous, pretty much how I’d some up this film.

Tarantino has become a caricature of himself really. His fame and talent has almost become as fictional has his films. As a result, and as with anything or anyone like this, once you have a name, you can do whatever you like, and he does. People are hooked.

It is said Tarantino wanted the audience to be moved by this film. Well I wanted to move. I wanted to move out of my seat and out of the cinema. I was moved to boredom.

Mark Scotchford © 21/01/2016

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Star Wars The Force Awakens

First of all let me just say that this review does contain detail about the plot. So if you haven’t seen it yet, my advice is to go and see it, because it is well worth watching. Then come back and read this. If you have seen it, then read on.

This article is really a review about the reviews. It is in response to those people who have stated that The Force Awakens is too much like the original Star Wars film originally released in 1977.

The film is brilliant basically, really good. Yes, there are more than just elements like the original film, I concede that, but I think you have to look at the motives for it, what was at stake, and how far do you take that argument?

I think we all should see this from another point of view. The films called 1, 2, and 3. The ones made many years after the renamed 4, 5, and 6 (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi), were pretty awful, were more or less universally panned and almost killed off the whole franchise. They had some good bits in them, good ideas etc and they seemed to set out to use all the technology that wasn’t available when the first films were made, and use it extensively and to their disposal. This in part helped to practically ruin the films but I guess much more contributed. The plots had sort of run away with themselves. Become too complex or convoluted, it wasn’t simple.

Now trying to reignite the franchise again if you were paying billions of dollars to gain the rights to make a movie, to bring back a failing franchise, what would you do? Would you go back to what made that franchise so successful in the first place or would you take a risk, go wild and do something completely new? Bear in mind, and it is a worthy note, the billions of dollars weren’t inclusive of the cost of the film, it is just to have the rights to do it. And, furthermore, it is not a franchise at the top of its game, the king of the heap. It was one that was failing, and falling, like it had been in a fight with a lightsaber.

And yes I know the billions were paid by Disney and they can afford it, and regrettably we do have to use the phrase franchise because that is now what Star Wars has become.

There were three writers for The Force Awakens and in my view they did a great job. They had to return to the original because that is what worked. Yes, they could have mixed it up a bit more but they did a lot, well certainly enough in my view.

Look at any other franchise, anything else that has been successful. It is just a rehash of what has gone before. And once you have a formula that works you stick to it. It is a brave soul that doesn’t or in some cases foolish. A novelist, a band, practically anyone who does something that works does it again. Repeated is the same formula with nuances. That’s how it works.

I’m not saying it is how it should be; I am saying that’s the way it is. And if we look at The Force Awakens, there were some new elements. I’m not going to pitch you with BB 8 being round instead of a canister like R2-D2 because there was more. Look at the storyline with the Stormtrooper turning rogue. That was a whole new element that was risqué, cleverly developed and exposed and offered key strains to the story.

Up until this point we had all know very little about the Stormtroopers and what makes them turn to the dark side, and what makes them who they are.

Also, very briefly, taking the copying element to the extreme, if you look back further in this film, and in fact the whole Star Wars idea, with the dark side, you can draw other worrying parallels with something else quite sinister. A Stormtrooper was an elite segment of Hitler’s Nazi army, that’s what they were called. Take a look at the salute the Stormtroopers give their Commander. Ring any bells? The Stormtrooper turned rogue, was a child taken from a family at a young age, brainwashed and was indoctrinated to follow orders. Again, does this sound like deluded, evil, dictators ideal? Does it remind you of the Hitler youth movement perhaps?

Instead of looking at how this film was similar to those that have gone before, we should look at how it was itself, on its own.

For me it was a great piece of film making, great cinematography, using good unknown actors, as well as bringing back an established cast. Yes, it relied on the very first film’s elements to cement its prowess but it did this with new elements, wit, and panache. It shows us there is truth and lies. There will always be truth and lies. It reiterates about right and wrong, darkness and light. There will always be right and wrong, darkness and light. It shows us that no matter where you are from you can turn evil and conversely you can be evil and turn good. It shows us that no matter what your colour or creed, or even if you look like a fish, we can all work together and succeed. And we must never ever forget our history and never try and destroy our future. Or maybe, it was just a good, entertaining film that allows us to escape reality for a while?

Mark Scotchford © 05/01/2016

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It is her again
She always walks past
High heels clicking very fast
Not even slightly
Out of breath
Name not known
So I’ll call her Beth

At first I didn’t
Mind at all
Then it became a footstep brawl
Just walking to work
Became a game
If I ever
Saw her again

To her I guess I was no one at all
Another pedestrian paced at a crawl
Just another obstacle to overtake
A parted wave left in her wake

Today would be different
I would stay in front
An old heavy animal
Still in the hunt

Chased from behind
By the lighter faster feline
Totally oblivious
No start line

I thought about strategy
Wore lighter clothes
Nemesis the same
Elegance flows

The mind within
Oh damn
I didn’t see that bin

Mark Scotchford © 11/12/2015

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Per Calendar Money

Gets the better of many a man
Its market forces
Horses for courses
What else should he do?

Rent to increase
Update the lease
Or live elsewhere
Talk of it being unfair
Words heard without care
The season to share

Don’t expect charity
Clinical transparency
What else should he do?

Hand in need
Finger pointing of greed
Please don’t plead
Release and renew

What options are left?
Enthusiasm and energy bereft
It’s not his fault

The land of lord
Palatial but bored
Perhaps nothing else to do

Count his money
I agree it’s not funny
See it from his point of view

Mark Scotchford © 7/12/2015

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Your Honour

All breaches of contract
Vigorously pursued
Devil in the detail
Feeling rather lewd

Getting a kick
Thrill from the speech
Allowing questions and feedback
Discuss don’t preach

On the right side now
Watch them sweat
Punishment harsh
Decide what they get

Master of the court
King of all you survey
Words are weapons
Listen to what you say

Could hear a pin drop
Jury on your side
Truth verses deceit
Knowing they lied

Now your turn
Be in the dock
Behind those bars
Time to unlock

Mark Scotchford © 05/12/2015

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My Angel
Pull on my strings
My Angel
Give me wings

Play me
Let fingers dance
Show me
Within your trance

Pull me
Keep me taught
All those wishes
In every thought

Stretch me
Yet not to snap
Keep me
Away from a trap

The music
Use me to make
Without you
Swan without lake

Mark Scotchford © 24/10/2015
the-angel Erte

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