Friday 20th May 2005

Thursdays, what is your view on them? Can you have a view on the day of the week? Perhaps not, because one Thursday, will never be like another. They stick in my mind for being crucial linkage between the middle and end of the week. The strongest example of this, is from my placement. I always remember driving home on a Thursday evening, it was late, cold October. Chris Moyles was blaring out, as he often did in the period in my life, on Radio One. While stuck in traffic for my sixty mile drive home I would think, thoughfully ponder, that the week was almost out. What had I achieved? Nothing. I was just looking forward to the moment, when this period of my life would be over. This brings us right back, to yesterday. A staff meeting organised at short notice, but with a great buzz of excitement, particularly from the finance department. Yet, I knew there was little there for me. My attendence, perhaps not complusory, but I thought it best to go along and find out the official news surrounding this open secret. I came to fully appreciate what I discovered. The other side of the business, which puts so much into perspective, the pieces of the jigsaw falling into place. Everyday I get dragged into the negative, the limitations of the product, or even the service. Yet there are a whole group of people travelling the world (literally) to sell this product and others (still in development) based on the industry perception that we are market leaders for a this solution. While there is no doubt that new clients will drive this company and make them grow, there was a steady glare of anticipation, as the MD, cleary demonstrated on the white board, an example breakdown of revenue generation between two of products. There is some truth to say, that there is more to a sale than the initial revenue it creates. So, why, have I come to share, this sensitive information with you? Well, in bigger corporations, you get lost in your day to day task. Rarely having the opportunity to see the wider, bigger picture. I have finally found myself somewhere else. Here, I won’t get lost as a number in the system. You can wager, that I will do my utmost to ensure, that never happens. While most people would have enjoyed an hour away from the help desk on a Thursday afternoon, I was conscious of the fact that there would numerous voicemails, when I got back to my desk. To my surprise, there were none, and it was 6pm. Home time. I headed off home in my car, expecting to be home by 6.20pm, as normal. Little did I know the journey that lay before me. Sure, this is nothing compared to mission impossible in January 2003. Exactly, how long could a seven mile journey really take? The answer to that, you will find, shortly. The by pass was busy, with traffic built up almost to the roundabout I join it at. This was the first time I had seen vehicles backed up so far down the dual carriage way. It was decision time. The stubborn resolute part of me wanted to fight this one out. How bad could the traffic really be? The fact it was not moving, should have really been a clear indication that I would be sitting here for some time. So I made the move, only to regret it later. I came off the A road. I rarely take photos with my trusty, Nokia 6230 prefering to use a dedicated device. However, when I am out and about it is useful to capture the moment. So here we are the first image recorded from my camera phone, uploaded to my blog.

So, as you can clearly see I took the first available slip road. Most of the vehicles were heading west, but I was going to go east and use of familiar short cuts. This was to be in time my downfall. As I headed towards Bourne End, in detail I mapped the journey ahead. It was not going to be pretty, particularly for the car, but it was going to get me home as quickly as possible. Taking the country road into Flackwell Heath, I became arrogant with my good fortune and took one last fatal throw of the dice. I decided to take the single track country lane, which cuts underneath the by-pass and come back to the main motorway junction from Marlow. Nobody else would dare to follow my example to take this route, off the beaten track? I was wrong, not only were their cars ahead of me, there were cars following me, so the journey plan was destroyed. A driver of a Ford Galaxy, perhaps for the first time venturing into the green and pleasant land of the country, was completely unable to cope with the demands of driving in the country. To begin with, I felt we were making great progress, but as I headed around the corner, I saw in the distant this dark blue people carrier stop and engage the reverse gear and back we came. Then, vehicle and after vehicle past and I felt somewhat dismayed that I would not be getting home any time soon. Stop start, reverse. This was the tale of what was to be the final leg of my journey. I was wrong, for more obsticles lay in my path. This so called, ‘shortcut’ should have shaved around 20 minutes off my journey, but instead added some thirty minutes. No matter, as I zoomed under the bypass, I came up to the main road. A right turn and I was home free. No, I looked ahead and saw a line of traffic, almost a mile long. This called for furhter evasive moves, so I turned left heading back into Marlow (the whole earlier part of this journey wasted) not knowing if there were further delays ahead. I had to take that chance, while in my head mapping the next rearranged route. This was going to get me home, but it was the most inconceivable way of doing so. Eventually I got home, at 7pm, an hour after I had left the office, which is 7 miles away and clocked up around 20 miles in doing so and burnt more fuel than I would like to imagine. The morale of the story is, always have a plan B. Today there was finally some light for a week when I have been in the dark. After several weeks of radio silence, I finally got in touch with the one, yesterday afternoon. While this was surprising, as I had expected at least another week before they would get in touch. Though I should not be so ungrateful and be thankfully that they were able to appear on MSN. The fact I was at work, did not get in the way of brief conversation. Finally, was this the moment I had been waiting for? To be honest, I do not know, but if I am still in the dark, how do you think the other party is at this moment in time. As the saying goes, the night is young and there is plenty of petrol left in the tank yet. It has just clicked over to 1.15am, as I write this. I left the cinema only twenty minutes ago, so this review is ice cold fresh. A word of caution, due to the late hour, I may not be quite on the same form, as would normally be expected. Let me start, as all stories should at the beginning. I left home at 9.45pm, to give myself plenty of time before I got to the cinema and the screening, I knew potentially this screening would be busy, with people in Wycombe having little else to do on a Friday right. (I was proved right, as I will comment later). I wanted some time to think, some time to prepare, so I walked slowly, with no urgency in my stride. A journey that usually takes five minutes by foot, took fifteen, as I noted as I walked into the cinema. It was just before 10pm. Quiet, dangerously quiet, with just a handful of people queuing for tickets, all screens with tickets available. I queued for some refreshments, even though, in reality I did not want any. I was served by an skinny Eastern European, whose grasp of English was limited to say the least. I ordered as little as possible, but he suddenly wanted to super size me and apparently save me money? I was just not in the mood to be rattled and argued, no, this is what I want, please give it to me! He muttered to himself, that all he was trying to do was save me money? I couldn’t quite understand that having more popcorn and beverage that I was able to consume and therefore waste was actually saving me money? A bitter feeling overcame me as I paid, hoping that this was the low light of the evening that things would only get better. I walked across to screen 2, to the left of the complex and was told that I would have to wait at least ten minutes while the screen was cleaned. While I had no issue with this, I became self conscious standing in queue, on my own. While most parties were either couples or groups of friends and family. I thought back to the fact that I had been here before, able to record in vivid detail our last nine months as students. While by the end of November, I had achieved and excelled at this process, adding photographs and capturing special moments in my gallery, my friend did not have any web presence to speak off. A holding page had gone and even the Uni server hosted site had been removed. Would we ever see him back blogging? In the meanwhile, the blogging community had grown, to the point that last year, blog became the word of the year. The statistics are mind boggling, with a new weblog created every six six seconds. While the rest of the world, and even Microsoft caught the blogging bug, Sibtain was still no where to be found. As our time at University came to an end, I had new optimism that he would finally get around to working on the site, that had be overdue since October 2003, it was June 2004, and yet another long hot summer lay ahead of us. Would he finally make the breakthrough? He didn’t and I don’t think I helped things? I would text him at the unearthly hour of 5am, before I headed to work, with the single word, “BLOG” and constantly pester him, whenever he dared to show his face online via MSN. Then, just before Christmas, I got in touch with Sippy and he was working like a dog on the site, day and night. I did not believe it to begin with, and thought that nothing would be dusted until the moment I saw the site online. This evening, just before 8pm, finally, after a wait of two years version three was with us, and the rest of cyberspace. Now, when you going to add that next blog entry Sippy? The weekend comes around and you want to make the most of your spare time. I know I do, particularly as my work life balance has now tipped slightly in favour of life, rather than work. This weekend started like any other, I had a predefined list of objectives (including getting my haircut) and was able to get all this done with no real problems. As I drove into my home town, I looked up to the sky, which was clear blue. Beautiful, I should have been listening to U2, Beautiful Day instead of some manufactured pop band. I better get back to my movie review, even though it would do little justice to what is an extremely entertaining film. Instead I would like to quickly go over some of the major elements of this film that make it so special and in summary gather together my thoughts on the first three, final three and complete story in totality. While this movie is highly entertaining, engaging and moving at times, it does well to serve the purpose. To create the bridge to the New Hope. I suppose, after two movies, the third can always feel a let down. Perhaps knowing there are not to be any further adventures leaves a questionable empty feeling in your heart. As you watch the film, it because less a question of why, but more of how. Dedicate fans from around the world have been discussing this motion picture for years, perhaps even decades. There was even talk of episodes, VII, VIII, IX but that was quickly ruled out by LucasFilm themselves. When Phantom Menace came out, I felt a great overwhelming sense of anticipation, fueled by all the marketing spots, games, television and product placement through the summer of 1999. Yet, perhaps then, it was less shameless and tacky, as it as become now. The more cynical among you will declare that this was never the case, and the merchandising was only carried out with some sense of dignity in the mid to late 1970s. I would not know any different. The circumstances then, were so different from today. I went to the cinema with a group of friends in Reading, all of whom were major Star Wars fans. I must admit, bigger fans than myself. (I could never spend hours on multi-player Jedi Knights, particularly on a flaky 33.6kbps modem.) This evening, I went on my own and had nothing my own thoughts for company. Shame, that in six years I’ve gone from that, to this. How do you make a movie, when all your loyal band of followers already know what is going to happen? This question got me thinking, during the course of the movie on the vision. George had vision. To create six films, but to in essence, break them into smaller digestible components. How this series ever got made, is a testimony to one man and one man alone. Can you imagine, sitting there at the pitch? “Hi dudes, I’d like to make picture (which I want full merchandising control over, but we can get to that minor issue later) actually make that six pictures. Yet, here is the rub, start in the middle with the fourth story and then perhaps in the future, go back and make the first three movies!”. He must have been laughed out of, talked out of, or perhaps worse, of each boardroom he went to. (Perhaps even the more recent Orange Wednesday board too!). I do not know enough about the original trilogy and how it came about to really give you much insight into that world, behind the camera. Those films were for my Dad’s generation, which is what they wanted and much more than they expected. Today, the bar is much higher, and we as audiences are much more sophisticated (and less shallow?). While, I feel the original movies will never be surpassed in their unique status within the realm of cinema, they have tended to age less graciously with the introduction of the final trilogy, which is for my generation. The MTV watching, iPod wearing, Google surfing and blog writing young band of new fans. Comparison is so difficult to do, because there is more to this than an age gap of some twenty years. While I envy those people who were able to experience the force, first hand and for the first time on the silver screen, I do not wish to trade my position. I have been lucky enough to grow up at a time, when Star Wars the phenomenon had perhaps faded, but the introduction of new technology, such as the home computer, saw the saga go from the passive cinema to the engaging video game. While the critics will always find wholes, particularly in the dialogue and acting, I can only summarise by saying the following. Of all his qualities as a movie make, George Lucas is this, a story teller. The most important aspect of this entire six instalment extravagant is the tale of a fallen hero redeeming himself. Are we not always seeing the path to the dark side, but redeeming ourselves in the face of internal conflict? Always choosing to take the righteous path, the path to the Force? While people will always go into the deeper and inner meanings of this tale, I have come to the conclusion that it is this. A story, in the most purest form. Of Good conquering evil, even when perhaps humanity (or would that be the whole galaxy?) have lost hope. The acting, dialogue and set pieces are all secondary to this primary goal. If you judge this great man, on this one criteria alone, you will see that he comes out as one of the greatest story tellers of all time. How to judge his success? When you go to the local cinema, you will see the number of empty seats in the cinema. For me, it was seat 14, next to me. Perhaps I should have invited someone after all? As I left the cinema, into the cool spring night, I looked up at the cloudy night sky. A bright full moon, lit up the road as I headed home. Then, it hit me. That is what it is all about. In this movie, we feel we are always searching for some great power, some Force that is beyond comprehension for mice and men, mere mortals. Yet, as I looked back to the road ahead, I realised this Force, is within all of us. The ability to give love and to receive love and ultimately to make one another happy. There is no major intergalactic battle taking place out there in the depths of space. The minor everyday issues we have are with ourselves. When we doubt ourselves, we make ourselves weaker. This fuels the fire of the many whom would like to see us fall. Instead, we should take note from this story, that whichever path we decide to take, only true affection can determine our destiny. [2.17am – wow, that took some time to write. I have so much more to add, but I am going to get some rest now. Expect me to update this entry sometime tomorrow, with reference to Thursday and the chosen one.]

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