Some Kind of Monster, part 2

Some Kind of Monster cinema ticket

Last night I saw the Metallica film Some Kind of Monster with my friend Tirwin.

It was an inspiring, and at times quite moving, exploration into the relationships of these so-called ‘rock stars’. In a culture which puts stardom and fame almost above any other ambition, it was refreshing to witness the rawness and honesty of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett feeling their way through the defences and protective barriers that they have erected over the years to hide behind.

At times the film reminded me of the classic This is Spinal Tap, which is not to put Metallica down, but to praise how much truth there is about people in the Spinal Tap movie. At the beginning Phil Trowle, their $40,000 a month group psychotherapist “life coach”, who had been brought in by their management, Q Prime, to help facilitate communication between the three remaining band members (bassist Jason Newsted having just quit) appeared to be a great and necessary help, but towards the end of the film he seemed to have sadly descended into something of a parody of Spinal Tap’s Janine. That relationship towards the end felt, from my point of view, to be quite uncomfortable and verging on the abusive. I have no doubt that initially Phil was instrumental in helping Metallica stay together, but it felt quite quickly, particularly after James’s returned from rehab, that he had (unconsciously?) nurtured something of a dependancy relationship with the band. Something which didn’t go unnoticed in the Metallica camp, and which the revitalised James Hetfield stands up to.

I was particularly keen to see the scene where Lars Ulrich meets up with ex-Metallica band member Dave Mustaine (Megadeth). According to Dave’s posts on the Megadeth forum he was very upset with how that scene had been cut. I can understand now a little of why he might feel that way. The film doesn’t present much of the dialogue between these two former friends, however, the film is a focus on the current members of Metallica and the notable impact that this encounter has on Lars is quite evident; hopefully for the better. It reminds me a little of the reasons why Tom Bombadil was omitted from Peter Jackson’s filming of The Lord of the Rings: it wasn’t in keeping with the main thrust of the film and the main focus. (As an aside, while I recognise that Mustaine has been a hate-figure for many years from a great many naive and ignorant Metallica fans, I for one am glad also to have been a Megadeth fan all these years. Dave Mustaine is a phenominal guitarist, and I am a great fan and respecter of how Dave Mustaine managed to deal with his own substance addictions. Inspiring!)

I was inspired last night watching Some Kind of Monster; I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD. If you can: go see it! The music is amazing (particularly the snippets of tracks not included on the St Anger album)l the drama is gripping. But we mustn’t forget that this isn’t just entertainment, this is about real people’s lives, their feelings and relationships. I’m just glad it worked out okay.

Blog assimilated

Well that took longer than I’d expected — mostly because I accidentally renamed a critical file before uploading it and couldn’t work out why nothing was changing on the site! — but I’ve now given the front-end of this blog a make-over to make it look like the rest of my site. More or less.

Windows XP SP2

Well, I’ve gone and done it: I’ve installed Windows XP SP2, which I got on CD with this month’s PCPlus magazine. But not before completely defragging and backing up my system using O&O Defrag and Norton Ghost 2003, respectively.

Thankfully it was all fairly uneventful, with a fairly quick installation. The new Security Center (sic) settings were a bit annoying until I turned off their incessant nagging (I already run a 3rd party firewall and anti-virus solution); and for some reason Windows Media Player didn’t work at all afterwards and I had to reinstall it.

The addition of a pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer 6 and the news that IE won’t be upgraded until the release of Windows Longhorn in 2006 is, I’m afraid, too little too late. I’ve already abandoned IE in favour of Mozilla Firefox, which I thoroughly recommend, particularly with its plethora of very useful extensions and add-ins.

Cellardyke

A piece of news that was on my old blog (probably still is!) is that Jane and I have bought a house in Cellardyke, Fife.

I say we’ve bought a house, we will have once it all goes through. We were supposed to get the keys a week past Friday (20 August) but there have been delays at the sellers’ end in tying up lose ends regarding planning permission for the conservatory; Cellardyke is in a Conservation Area.

More news, and photographs when we get them. There are a few photos on my website photographs section.

Paint Shop Pro 9 Beta

Paint Shop Pro 9 Beta

I’ve been a fan of Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro since I encountered it in version 3 under Windows 3.1, so I was excited to read yesterday that Jasc Software are shortly to release Paint Shop Pro version 9. And not only that: I can try it out for free right now!

Jasc have released a Public Beta version for free download; mind you it is a 101 MB download, so if you’re not on broadband then I’d give it a miss if I were you, to be quite honest.

Having been using PSP 4.15SE (which didn’t have GIF support), which I got free from PCPlus in 1997, I upgraded to PSP 7.02 a few years ago when I saw it with 50% off on Amazon.co.uk. A couple of months later PCPlus included PSP 5 on one of their cover CD for free. I was tempted to upgrade to PSP 8 when it was released a while back but couldn’t really justify the expense when all I really wanted from PSP 8 was the halftone effect and the background eraser.

This afternoon I installed the PSP 9 Beta and I can say that it’s very different to PSP7. My immediate thoughts:

  • It’s got quite an Adobe / Macromedia feel to it, in terms of the docked pallettes
  • It feels like it uses far more system resources to run, I’ll have to check this, as some of the effects feel sluggish and slow to respond (and my system isn’t exactly poor: Athlon 2800+, 1 GB RAM, Radeon 9800 128 MB)
  • It takes 7 seconds to load, compared with 2 seconds for PSP7
  • I like the way it handles some of the Preferences, for example File Locations, and the Image Browser options are better, with a thumbnail now available up to 250 pixels instead of 100 px.

I have 64 more days to check it out before this Beta release dies on me.