Archive for the Life the Universe and Other Things Category

Monday 9th July 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 9, 2018 by bishshat

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The Leisure Seeker

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” croons Janis Joplin in Me and Bobby McGee, the song that plays over The Leisure Seeker’s closing credits. The line is such a neat summation of the film’s spirit, it should really be painted on the back bumper of the Leisure Seeker itself – the vintage motorhome that dauntlessly chugs its way from suburban Massachusetts to the Florida Keys with old marrieds Ella (Helen Mirren) and John (Donald Sutherland) Spencer on board.

This first English-language film from the Italian director Paolo Virzì is an impeccably acted, teary-funny comedy about an ageing couple coming to terms with the fact that their days of living independently are numbered. John is slipping further into the fog of Alzheimer’s with every passing week, while Ella is awaiting some kind of hospital treatment, the exact nature of which is suggested by her closely cropped and wispy silver hair, which she covers with a bobbed chestnut wig.

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But rather than go along with their adult children’s plans – Christian McKay and Janel Moloney play the half-helpful, half-meddlesome offspring – the Spencers treat themselves to one last driving holiday together: a pilgrimage to the house in Key West occupied by Ernest Hemingway during nine of his most creatively fruitful years. John, a former English teacher, recites Hemingway like Buddhist sutras – or perhaps as a kind of mental yoga designed to keep his memory as supple as his worsening condition allows.

A Canadian and an Englishwoman, Sutherland and Mirren both bring an outsiders’ eye to a film that’s fizzily curious about the state of America right now, and that goes double for Virzì, who shoots the film like a tourist on a cross-country trip. The first voice we hear in the film is Donald Trump’s, thanks to audio from a 2016 campaign speech (“It is time to show the whole world that America is back!”) that intermingles with Carole King’s It’s Too Late on a car radio, with unexpectedly bracing pathos.

The film doesn’t labour its place in history, but a sense of that history ticks away throughout under the surface – such as the regular, unspoken acknowledgements that much of the United States’s working-class bedrock is now predominantly non-white.

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John, on the other hand, is in a class of his own. His grand white beard and tufty hair make him either distinguished or dishevelled depending on the angle you catch him at: he almost looks as if someone has been keeping him rolled up under the bed, like an antique rug. Sutherland’s ability to radiate dignity even as his character is losing himself in the depths of dementia is instrumental in making us ache for the younger, sharper man the film doesn’t show us, but whom we nevertheless sense we once knew.

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Meanwhile, Mirren brilliantly shows us Ella wrestling with her heartbreaking transition from spouse to carer – we watch her move from amusement to exasperation and back again, often within the span of a sentence. Crucially, the film doesn’t just have John forget things in funny ways. It’s bluntly honest about the cruelty of his condition – the irritability, the delusions, the incontinence – and finds a rough-edged humour in that frankness.

There is a terrific scene at an open-air museum in which the Spencers bump into one of John’s ex-pupils, now a mother of two herself. Ella starts to make excuses for her husband, but then he launches unexpectedly into a detailed remembrance of the younger woman’s schooldays. The three-way dynamic is grippingly tricky: John revelling in a rare lucid memory, Ella wounded and prickling that she isn’t a part of it, and the younger woman smiling yet sensing something’s not right.

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The canon of Alzheimer’s films doesn’t want for performances full of compassion and fine-grained observation, from Iris all the way to Still Alice. But as their faded Winnebago wends its way towards the coast, Ella and John show there’s room for two more.

Me and Bobby McGee

Kris Kristofferson

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train
And I’s feelin’ near as faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
It rode us all the way to New Orleans
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna
I was playin’ soft while Bobby sang the blues, yeah
Windshield wipers slappin’ time, I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
And, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee
From the Kentucky coal mine to the California sun
There Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Yeah, Bobby baby kept me from the cold
One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let him slip away
He’s lookin’ for that home, and I hope he finds it
But, I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for a single yesterday
To be holdin’ Bobby’s body next to mine
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, that’s all that Bobby left me, yeah
But, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
Hey, feelin’ good was good enough for me, mm-hmm
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee
La da da
La da da da
La da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da
Bobby McGee, yeah
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
Bobby McGee, yeah
La da La la da da la da da la da da
La da da da da da da da da
Hey, my Bobby
Oh, my Bobby McGee, yeah
La la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Hey, my Bobby
Oh, my Bobby McGee, yeah
Well, I call him my lover, call him my man
I said, I call him my lover did the best I can, c’mon
Hey now, Bobby now
Hey now, Bobby McGee, yeah
Woo
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la la
Hey, hey, hey Bobby McGee, yeah
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la
Hey, hey, hey, Bobby McGee, yeah

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Sunday 8th July 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 8, 2018 by bishshat

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Saturday 7th July 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 7, 2018 by bishshat

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Sweden 0 England 2

England are into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990 thanks to Harry Maguire and Dele Alli headers against Sweden.

Gareth Southgate’s side now face hosts Russia or Croatia on Wednesday in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium for a place in next Sunday’s final.

Maguire rose highest to thump home Ashley Young’s first-half cross, the eighth of England’s 11 goals at this World Cup to come from a set-piece.

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England keeper Jordan Pickford pulled off three fantastic saves to keep Sweden out – first turning away a Marcus Berg header, then producing a low stop from Viktor Claesson and finally tipping Berg’s shot over the bar.

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Alli was unmarked to turn home Jesse Lingard’s cross against a lacklustre Sweden in Samara.

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The Three Lions are in the last four for only the third time. They went on to win their home tournament in 1966 but lost to West Germany on penalties in 1990.

But the peculiar way this World Cup has shaped up means they will now play the team ranked 20th or 70th in the world for a place in the final – against either Belgium or France.

It’s Coming Home

(I think it’s bad news for the English game)
(We’re not creative enough and we’re not positive enough)

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Football’s coming home

(we’ll go on getting bad results)

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Football’s coming home

Everyone seems to know the score,
They’ve seen it all before
They just know, they’re so sure
That England’s gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away
But I know they can play,
‘Cause I remember

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many sneers
But all those “oh so near’s”
Wear you down, through the years
But I still see that tackle by Moore
And when Lineker scored, Bobby belting the ball
And Nobby dancing

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Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

Euro 96 Pearce celeb

And then one night in Rome
We were strong
We had grown
And now I see
Ince ready for war
Gazza good as before
Shearer certain to score
And Psycho screaming

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(England have done it! In the last minute of extra time!)
(What a save, Gordon Banks!)
(Good old England, England that couldn’t play football)
(England have got it in the bag)

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I know that was then, but it could be again..

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Footballs coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Footballs coming home

(England have done it)

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Footballs coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming,
Footballs coming home

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

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Friday July 6th 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 6, 2018 by bishshat

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Thursday 5th July 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 5, 2018 by bishshat

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Canard Digérateur de Vaucanson (Vaucanson’s Digesting Duck)

All that was left of the most famous of all automatons were a pair of heat-warped wings found among the smoking ruins of a museum in Krakow, Poland in 1889.

Built in 1739 by Grenoble artist Jacques de Vaucanson, the Digesting Duck quickly became his most famous creation for its lifelike motions, beautiful craftsmanship, and it’s ability to poop out food it had eaten. This simulacrum of life was the ultimate goal for Enlightenment automata builders, both for entertainment and for scientific/philosophical reasons. He built his master works – the duck and two life-sized humanoid musicians – in Paris, after several earlier attempts at mechanical devices and automata.

The duck sat on an enormous base housing the mechanics, and was life-sized, constructed of hundreds of parts covered in perforated gold-plated copper to allow a view of the inside workings. When activated, it moved like a duck, wiggling its beak in the water, quacking, and re-adjusting its position. Most famously though, it could eat pellets offered to it, and then, after “digestion”, poop them out the other end.

Voltaire was suitably impressed, and wrote, “Without Vaucanson’s Duck, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France.” Just how sarcastic or not he may have been is left to the imagination.

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It quickly became a super-star attraction, but Vaucanson tired of them only a few years later, packing them off for a grand tour with caretakers. He turned his attention to a new assignment of designing automated looms for France’s silk industry, leading to a colorful chapter in his life wherein, upon introducing an automated loom needing only the expertise of a donkey for man-power, the silk workers revolted causing Vaucanson to flee the area disguised as a monk.

In the meantime, the automatons changed hands. In 1805, Johann Goethe saw the duck in the private collection of German eccentric Gottfried Christoph Beireis, along with the disabled remains of his two other famous automatons, and remarked in his diary,”The Vaucansonian automatons were utterly paralyzed… A duck without feathers stood like a skeleton, still devoured the oats briskly enough, but had lost its powers of digestion.”

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Repaired for the occasion, the duck made its last formal appearance at the Exposition Universelle at the Palais Royal in Paris in 1844. The illusionist and automata maker Robert-Houdin was employed after the exposition to repair damages to a wing. During his repairs, he took the opportunity to turn a critical eye to the famous digestive tract of the duck, and announced triumphantly, “I found that the illustrious master had not been above resorting to a piece of artifice I would happily have incorporated in a conjuring trick.” The duck poop was in fact stored in a separate hidden compartment, a mechanical slight of hand, not the result of artificial duck digestion.

In the years after this, the duck disappeared into obscurity until spotted among the collection of a Krakow museum. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the building, the two partially destroyed wings taken as evidence of its demise. Since the it has grown in reputation, showing up as motifs in film, art, and literature, notably in Thomas Pynchon’s novel Mason & Dixon, Vaucanson’s duck comes alive and terrorizes a French chef with its Bec de la Mort (“Beak of Death”).

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Standing sentry at the door to this enthralling exhibition is a lively figure known as The Connoisseur. He wears a linen suit and an expression of expert discrimination. Press a button and he leans forward to examine some unseen object, then gradually backwards to give serious weight to his judgment. He might be one of us, a fellow visitor who is also our surrogate.

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Tim Hunkin’s sculpture – made out of papier-mache art reviews, some from this very newspaper – is comical, mechanical, exquisitely expressive. It is both a work of art and an automaton. So it was with the earliest automata: the mythical clay figures animated by Prometheus; the female statue that Pygmalion brought to life and loved; and so it remains. This is one crucial difference between an automaton, a robot and a puppet.

They have the spark of life – or half-life; beautiful yet eerie, like us but soulless and abjectly dependent
At Compton Verney this summer you can see automata created by artists across four centuries, including Ting-Tong Chang’s modern speaking goose (2017), so lifelike it seems about to take flight in the middle of a hilarious lecture on avian digestion. Exotic birds flutter and sing in their 18th-century cages. A Victorian girl walks on her own two elegant feet, crinoline swishing, and mice skitter across a table top while the women in Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon emerge into three dimensions, courtesy of Paul Spooner, untwisting from their cubist contortions.

They have the spark of life – or half-life; beautiful yet eerie, like us but soulless and abjectly dependent. Or frightened and frightening, like the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published two centuries ago and which this show partly commemorates. We make these creatures in our own likeness, however approximate, and sometimes they get away from us – which is, after all, the intention.

.Prints by the contemporary artist Stuart Patience visualise with considerable graphic force the plot of ETA Hoffmann’s celebrated short story The Sandman, which inspired Sigmund Freud. The young man Nathanael falls in love with a lifesize automaton, the perfect Olimpia; woos her, talks to her, dances with her at a ball and then watches her moving about through distant windows. Eventually he is shattered to discover what everyone else can see: the mechanical limbs at work beneath her dress.

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Clockwork is the beating heart of these marvellous machines, especially in earlier centuries. It makes the birds sing, the lovers kiss, the Fabergé elephant swing its trunk while ambling along. In a mesmerisingly strange rococo vignette, straight out of Watteau, it keeps the dancers twirling and the melancholy violinist bowing away until the power runs out: a chronicle love’s death foretold.

A Swiss clockmaker named Henri Maillardet built the most famous of 19th-century automata: a little boy, seated at a desk with a pen in his hand who could draw four different pictures when wound up and presented with paper. Maillardet used a camshaft invented by Islamic scientists centuries earlier to motivate the figure, which disappeared for many years but is now in an American museum. Compton Verney has one of the boy’s drawings, of a garden with fountains and palms that looks fabulously exotic and slightly oriental. (China was for a long time the main automaton market.) The mechanism, for all the infinitely subtle hand movements required to produce this drawing, is so complex as to be justifiably compared with a modern computer.

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The curators of this compelling show started out with an object in Compton Verney’s own collection: a pair of wooden workers from 1900, one turning a clay pot, the other labouring to sustain the motion of the wheel, wiping the sweat from his brow. Automata may represent the human condition, reflecting our lives back to us. This is the subject of a brilliant 2016 film called The Machinery by Caroline Radcliffe and Sarah Angliss, in which the former performs a heel-and-toe clog dance that was once tapped out daily by female workers in Victorian cotton mills. Industry turned them into automata, almost. The dancer resembles a latterday Coppélia.

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One section of this show is devoted to slot-machine automata: Blake’s Tyger whirling about in the forest; painters grafting away at easels; a bather diving straight from his beach hut into cold blue waters. There is much English whimsy and seaside humour, but the real star here has a far more eccentric imagination: Rowland Emett, Punch cartoonist, kinetic sculptor and designer of the elaborate contraptions of Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Here for almost the first time in its working entirety is A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley, in which Emett’s elaborate train carriages trundle their way around lifesize tracks, bearing the old gentleman playing his gramophone, the old lady leaning out to catch songbirds, all to the sound of music-box lullabies. The names of the trains invoke those dreamy pre-Beeching days – Bluebell, Cuckoo, Watercress Line. This is the kind of creation Heath Robinson might have drawn in all its improbable intricacy, but Emett actually invented and made.

With its theatrical installation and jewel-coloured lighting, this show is a performance in its own right. It seems to tell an alternative version of European history, in which man and machine have an otherworldly relationship that goes far beyond master and creation.

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In the final gallery, sculptures that resemble vast grey brains lie dormant in glass cases – dormant until mechanical fingers prod at them. The organisms shiver, quiver, recoil, retrench, as if in fight or flight. The work, by the young sculptor , probes at the very quick of one’s own imaginings. And beside it and turns on a plinth, articulate, emphatic, jabbing, as if preaching to some unseen congregation of fellow automata. Like the sculptures of Prometheus, or the little drawing boy at his desk, it is recognisably human yet entirely alien.

Laura Cumming The Guardian

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Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 4, 2018 by bishshat

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England 1 Colombia 1

What a bunch of cheating scum bags was this Colombian side. This kind of muggish behavior makes me laugh and sick at the same time. If they prevail I am sick if they loose I laugh. They were an utter disgrace to football. Thank goodness they were beaten. for 90 minutes and a couple more they were a bunch of scheming crooks who were on the ropes, then when they scored to make it 1-1 they continued in the same manner but believed they could win it.

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England’s new generation ended the World Cup penalty jinx by knocking out Colombia on spot kicks to reach the quarter-finals.

Eric Dier scored the winning kick after Jordan Pickford’s brilliant save from Carlos Bacca’s attempt, with England’s first ever World Cup shootout win setting up a meeting with Sweden in Samara on Saturday.

Gareth Southgate’s side had been seconds away from the last eight during normal time, with Harry Kane’s penalty after he was fouled by Carlos Sanchez in the box – his sixth goal of the tournament – looking as though it was going to send them through.

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But deep into injury time, Colombia threw everyone forward for a Juan Cuadrado corner, including goalkeeper David Ospina, and Yerry Mina headed a dramatic equaliser at the Spartak Stadium.

Kieran Trippier was standing on the line but could not keep out the Barcelona centre-back’s third headed goal of the World Cup.

The Three Lions had been on top for most of the 90 minutes but appeared understandably deflated in extra time – although Danny Rose and Dier missed late chances to win the game and avoid a shootout.

Henderson had a penalty saved by Ospina in the shootout but Mateus Uribe smashed the following kick onto the crossbar to pave the way for Pickford and Dier to be England heroes.

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No previous world champions stand between England and the final. The winners of their quarter-final will face either Croatia or hosts Russia for a place in Moscow on 15 July.

The game itself had been a bad-tempered affair, with eight players booked in total – six Colombians, including Wilmar Barrios, who was lucky to avoid red for a first-half headbutt on Henderson.

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Colombia newpaper

Colombia are heading home from Russia after losing to England on penalties in an enthralling last-16 World Cup tie.

Following a nail-biting and bad-tempered affair in Moscow, the game was decided by penalty kicks, and it was England who held their nerve to book their place in the quarter-finals after winning the shoot-out 4-3.

The win marks England’s first ever penalties triumph at the World Cup and their first in any competition since defeating Spain at Euro’96, although for a moment it looked like history was about to repeat itself for Gareth Southgate’s men.

All of the momentum appeared to be with Colombia after ‘Los Cafeteros’ had pulled themselves back from the brink of elimination with a stoppage-time goal from Yerry Mina – cancelling out Harry Kane’s earlier penalty – and when England’s Jordan Henderson saw his spot kick saved, it looked like Jose Peckerman’s side were the ones heading to Samara to face Sweden on Saturday.

But after squandering their final two spot-kicks – one of them brilliantly saved by ‘keeper Jordan Pickford – Colombia gave England the chance to steal the victory with their very last penalty, and Eric Dier stepped up and made no mistake, sparking wild celebrations amongst the English players and fans.

Following a cagey and largely uneventful first 45-minutes, the game sprung to life in the second half when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Colombia’s Christian Sanchez had manhandled Harry Kane in the box.

Despite the Colombian players doing their utmost to disrupt Kane’s focus and even appearing to deface the pitch in order to interfere with the penalty, the Tottenham Hotspur striker stepped up and duly despatched the spot kick to put England ahead and take his tally for the tournament to six.

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With the game entering the final minutes of stoppage time and Colombia struggling to break down a resilient England defence, it looked as if the ‘Three Lions’ had done enough to earn their spot in the last eight of the competition. However, following an excellent save from Pickford, Colombia were awarded a corner and after a good cross into the box, centre back Mina climbed above the England defence to head the ball home and send the game into extra-time.

The England players would’ve been kicking themselves if a mistake from a set-piece – an area they’ve looked so strong in thus-far – had gone on to cost them their place in the tournament, and it’ll be something the manager will no doubt look to work on in training before Saturday.

The absence of James Rodriguez, who was again unavailable due to the calf injury that blighted his tournament, appeared to severely negate Colombia’s attack and without their talisman’s creativity and energy going forward the South Americans struggled to mount a serious threat in the final third.

The result means Colombia must wait at least another four years to reach their first World Cup quarter-final, while England will now head to Samara to take on the Swedes full of confidence after finally shaking off their penalty shoot-out hoodoo.

How Colombia reacted

England committed a “monumental robbery” in beating Colombia in the last 16 at the World Cup, according to Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Colombia captain Radamel Falcao also accused referee Mark Geiger of bias towards England, calling the American’s performance “shameful”.

Geiger often struggled to control a feisty encounter in Moscow, which England won on penalties.

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“This situation was undermining us,” said Falcao.

Maradona felt Geiger should have penalised Harry Kane for a foul on Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez instead of awarding the penalty that allowed the England captain to open the scoring just before the hour mark in Moscow.

“Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence,” Maradona added on his nightly World Cup show for Venezuela-based Telesur broadcaster.

Maradona was pictured wearing a Colombia shirt prior to the game and TV images showed him celebrating Yerry Mina’s late equaliser.

‘He only spoke English, some bias was certain’

World Cup 2018; Kane keeps cool in face of ‘disgusting’ Colombia
Former Chelsea and Manchester United striker Falcao was one of six Colombia players booked by Geiger, while only two England players had their names taken.

“The referee disturbed us a lot, in the 50-50 plays, he always made the calls in favour of England,” said Falcao. “He didn’t act with the same criteria for both teams. When in doubt, he always went to the England side.

“I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance. To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts.”

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Colombia’s Caracol Radio station dedicated an online story to the referee entitled, ‘Mark Geiger, the referee most hated by Colombians’.

Leading daily El Tiempo also called Geiger “controversial”, saying in its story “he has had some mishaps, both in Concacaf and in friendly matches”

Colombia’s media also praised what they saw as a gutsy performance by their team, who were without injured Bayern Munich midfielder James Rodriguez.

“Thank you warriors! Colombia departs from the World Cup with their heads high,” RCN Noticias TV said in their online match report.

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“The dream ends for the Tricolour team which leave with their heads high after their bravery and commitment. Thanks boys, the Colombian people support you!” the story said.

El Pais chose a similar headline: “Thank you warriors!”

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Saturday 30th June 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 4, 2018 by bishshat

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Pennard Castle is a ruined castle, near the modern village of Pennard on the Gower Peninsula, in south Wales. The castle was built in the early 12th century as a timber ringwork following the Norman invasion of Wales. The walls were rebuilt in stone by the Braose family at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, including a stone gatehouse. Soon afterwards, however, encroaching sand dunes caused the site to be abandoned and it fell into ruin.

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The Normans began to make incursions into South Wales from the late-1060s onwards, pushing westwards from their bases in recently occupied England. Their advance was marked by the construction of castles and the creation of regional lordships. Pennard Castle was built at the start of the 12th century after Henry de Beaumont, the Earl of Warwick, conquered the Gower Peninsula and made Pennard one of his demesne manors.

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Three Cliff Bay, is a bay on the south coast of the Gower Peninsula in the City and County of Swansea, Wales. The bay takes its name from the three sea cliffs that jut out into the bay. Pennard Pill, a large stream, flows into the sea in the middle of the bay.

Inland about 500 yards from the main beach on high ground above Pennard Pill is Pennard Castle. It was built in the early 12th century[citation needed], and is imbued with legends of fairies.

Individual beaches that make up this bay have their own names, including Pobbles Bay to the east of the Three Cliffs, and Tor Bay to the west. The beaches are separated at high tide but are accessible to each other at low tide on foot over the sands. Paths lead north to Pennard Burrows, east to Pobbles, and west to Tor Bay. Pobbles and Tor Bay are also accessible from the beach at low tide. Three Cliffs Bay is effectively part of the inlet of Oxwich Bay. At low tide, Three Cliffs Bay forms a continuous sandy beach with Oxwich Bay beach to the west. They only exist as separate beaches at high tide.

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The castle was constructed on a limestone spur, overlooking the mouth of the Pennard Pill stream and Three Cliffs Bay, and was protected to the north and west by surrounding cliffs. The fortification initially took the form of an oval-shaped ringwork, 34 by 28 metres (112 by 92 ft), with a defensive ditch and ramparts around the outside, and a timber hall in the centre. A local church, St Mary’s, was built just to the east and a settlement grew up around the site; a rabbit warren was established in the nearby sand dunes. In the early 13th century, a simple stone hall, approximately 18.6 by 7.6 metres (61 by 25 ft), was built on the site of the older timber building, using red-purple sandstone with white limestone detailing.

Around the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, while the castle was controlled by William and his son, also called William, the timber defences were replaced.

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A thin stone curtain wall, approximately 8 metres (26 ft) tall with battlements, replaced the palisades, with the mural defences including a square tower on a rocky spur on the west side, and a circular tower on the north-west corner. A gatehouse was built as the new entrance, with two half-circular towers that possibly imitated those of regional castles such as Caerphilly; it was weakly defended by a portcullis and a handful of arrow loops. The new walls were built from a mixture of red sandstone rubble, probably quarried locally, and limestone dug from the castle site itself. The Braoses may have rebuilt Pennard as a replacement for their castle at nearby Penmaen which was abandoned at around the same time due to encroaching sand dunes.

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The peninsula of Gower, extending 16 miles westwards between Swansea and Carmarthen bays, is a remnant of the Armorican fold system that at one time formed continuous mountain ranges—the front of Meso-Europe—along the southern borders of Wales. Its coastal outline and trend are a reflection of the earth-movements its rocks have suffered, while its inland topography is also largely determined by the strike of the rock outcrops. Apart from insignificant Triassic outliers in the south-west of the peninsula, the solid geology is wholly Upper Palaeozoic. Coal Measures crop out along its north-eastern border and in the coalfield to the north, but are elsewhere absent. The greater part of the peninsula is a plateau of Carboniferous Limestone, complexly folded, in which synclines of Millstone Grit shales form embayments and depressions at Oystermouth, Oxwich, and Port Eynon, and above which the anticlinal cores are marked by the monadnock hills of Old Red Sandstone—Cefn Bryn and the western downs.

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