Pindown

I write here infrequently but I'm regularly posting links to things I find either interesting or memorable. I somehow never got used to bookmarks in the browser, so this is the closest I have to something searchable. I recently started using Pinboard.in to save links so that I could read and review them later. Manually copying my saved links from Pinboard to the site generator (Pelican) was a little tedious, and running it through IFTTT was very rough, so I decided to teach myself some Python and come up with my own fix.

The result is Pindown and I've tried to make it as general purpose as possible.

I use it like this:

  1. Save a link to Pinboard either from my phone or using their bookmarklet.
  2. Have a cronjob running Pindown every 5 minutes looking for any new links.
  3. Pindown saves any new links to individual Markdown files in my drafts folder, using a customisable Jinja template. I have my template set up to put the supplied link description in as a blockquote, because that's usually how I will post links here.
  4. I can then review my drafts folder, deleting the links I don't like, and cleaning up and publishing those that I do.

It's not perfect and it's very niche, but it is useable and I find it useful.

Podcast recommendations for October 2015

Silver Screen Queens

A weekly film review podcast hosted by Katie Molloy and Melissa Savage. A fair mix of new and old releases, and if you leave them a review on iTunes they promise to review a film of your choosing. I don't know quite how I feel about contributing in a very small way to their recent drubbing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but their recent episode on the Back to the Future trilogy was spot-on, so all is forgiven.

Answer Me This! with Helen & Olly

Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann (and Martin Austwick) answer a variety of questions ranging from the factual to the moral and ethical. The show has been around since 2007 and their first 200 episodes (they're past 300 now) are available for purchase from their website.

The Allusionist

Helen Zaltzman on her own this time, talking up the history of words. More interesting than it sounds, and it already sounds plenty interesting. Unless you're strange. For instance the latest episode was about vocables, those little noises we make which often act like words but aren't, such as 'la di da' and 'oobee doo'.

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5

Despite its many flaws Babylon 5 remains a fascinating, important, and most of all fun series. The hosts Chip, Erika and Shannon are working their way through all five years of the show in order (the Master List order, to be precise). Each episode of the podcast starts with a spoiler-free discussion of that episode of the show, before warning off new viewers and discussing the events of that episode in the context of the show's overarching plot. They're just now getting in to the end of season two, when the show itself really starts speeding ahead with its main story. A great time to catch up.

Month Python (Mostly) Live

I am more familiar with Monty Python due to their influence and their films and later, non-Python works than I am with Flying Circus. I've gone back and watched a lot of the old episodes thanks to the Internet, and there is some ludicrous comedy and wonderful ideas in there, along with a heaping help of weird, creepy 70's sexism.

That just about sums up this live show. I saw a "live" screening (actually the July 20th show) at the Nova, in a packed Cinema 9. It was a good crowd, with plenty of laughter and applause, particularly on the most well-known sketches and songs.

One could argue that it was all just a shameless cash-in, lazily trotting out the old jokes, and everyone laughing at them as they've been trained to do these last 40 years. This isn't that far from the truth. But it's not as if the individual Pythons are not off doing their own, much more interesting things.

Much more awkward than a group of old men telling very old jokes (which was in fact quite entertaining) were the special guests, in this case Mike Myers and Eddie Izzard. Two funny men, with nothing to do on stage but tell the Pythons how honoured they were to be there. Quite uncomfortable. The filmed appearance of Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking was much more fun, since it actually involved a joke.

Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

The local distributors for this Danish crime drama have been dropping the name The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at every opportunity. As a quiet fan of procedural dramas, I’m actually enjoying this run of Scandinavian thrillers, even if they do often feel less like films and more like TV series (which I suppose says more about the quality of TV series these days).

I’m still not certain what happened in the first scene of Lost Causes. I was a distracted trying to figure out who was who when the bullets started flying. Before I knew it I was watching Cold Case: Denmark. Just when I was certain I was going to meet an out-there Lisbeth analogue who would loosen up the stodgy Avatar of Manpain (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), instead I was introduced to Assad (Fares Fares), a much more interesting and agreeable character to be around.

Under investigation is the disappearance of young politician Merete (Sonja Richter), and while Richter’s performance - and her transformation - are excellent, I don’t think David Stratton is wrong when he says this part of the film borders on torture porn.

The film feels like a pilot for a TV series and not surprisingly the next book in the series has already been adapted and is ready for release shortly. I’m not sure it will see a cinematic release here, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it. This was quite fun, in its way.

A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man

As a fan, it still hurts to remember that Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February. Tonight I saw one of his last films, an adaptation of a John Le Carré novel, by director Anton Corbijn.

I laughed several times; I often react more enthusiastically to a wry turn of phrase or circumstance than to an actual joke. This is a tense film, filled not with twists and turns but with characters alternately driven and desperate. It's the characters I enjoyed most, and their smallest interactions. Hoffman's small band of spies enjoyed possibly the most pleasant and supportive professional environment I've ever seen in a film.