Thursday, 30 August 2012

In which I Watch Many Movies & Go To The Butcher's

Today I've been watching movies. It's the last Thursday of the summer holidays and that means the last day that I get to myself. Now, obviously, I should be going into work on such a day being as I've not really got anything like enough done. However, life's too short for that and I wasn't going to to miss the opportunity. Usually, I head out for a ride but this day I pretty much just watched movies. Mind you, I did pop out to a local butchers to replenish our black pudding supply. 

When I woke up this morning I could already hear that any plans I might have had for roaming the Dales upon my trusty Wee Hamish would only be accomplice whilst doing my impression of a drowned rat. Rain audibly lashed at the windows of my bedroom and on closer inspection, could be seen running as a river down the tarmac that would be the start of any rideout. That wouldn't put me off riding to work or somewhere I had to be but I'm not going to wade the strom all the way to nowhere in particular when there are other equally enticing options. 

Instead, I spent the morning watching movies. I started with 'Battle Los Angeles' which was surprisingly good. Having watched 'Battleship' the previous day I was on the hunt for similar movies, namely SciFis comprising aliens, firefights and general slaughter. Neither film disappointed and I found myself rather enjoying the Gung Ho, Who Rah and God Bless America feel of the movies. It rather makes you feel fictionally proud to be American (by birth). 

Of course, the real Gung Ho, Who Rah and God Bless America theme of real life, in the middle east and throughout the post September 11th world is rather less unarguably admirable. Not that I have an opinion of that because I have no clue where we go forward as a world from where we are now. It would be much easier if could unite against a common extra-terrestrial enemy. Perhaps they missed a trick there. It would have been great if at the end of 'Battle Los Angeles' they showed the rest of the world tackling the aliens together. It would include some Taliban fighters/terrorist (you choose) fighting side by side with US Marines. Hell, they could even invite the French, if that wasn't too far fetched. 

Following that and having run out of recent movies from the genre, I checked for similar and came up with Starship Troopers, a film from my youth and one I had once enjoyed. I recalled the wholesale slaughter of bother aliens and humans as well as some pretty girls. I got it and watched it. Turned out I had remembered correctly (though I've no idea how I'd forgotten about the fact the girls occasionally went topless). The slaughter was indeed wholesale. Aliens died eventually, riddled with bullets with occasional others blown up for expedience. The humans however died much more interestingly. There is it would seem, an incredible variety of ways in which one can be dismembered, impaled or decapitated. 

What I wasn't expecting, doubtless because I hadn't noticed it in the past, was the politics of the movie. Set in a future, federal world, the political system and culture of the world it was set in was different, very different indeed. In it, citizenship had to be earned. Parents had to be licensed. Gender roles were totally removed. I could probably go on but I've probably not appreciated all if the, um, thingys. It wasn't subtly done either. The writer or director or whoever is responsible for the issues raised, they were pretty blatant. I think that was often the case back in the 90s when Hollywood just loved dealing with issues and it could be painful at times. What got me though, was the fact that I'm absolutely certain that I never noticed it before back in 1997.

That was 15 years ago now. It hasn't changed, so I guess I must have. I'm not sure how. It's not like I can now speak authoritatively on such issues as middle east relations, the role of women in the military or how to tackle stagnation in the economy. Nope, it's just that I am just a little more aware of it all. I'm no wiser. A little more experienced perhaps, but certainly no wiser. I'm pretty sure I'll carry on missing the obvious and doubtless make mistakes but in doing so, I'm more able to worry about it all, especially if I should be working. 

I'll also keep wandering. I did today after the second movie. With an afternoon and drying roads, I did get out on my bike. One thing I had noticed was that we were running low on black pudding so I needed to get to the local butchers, in Settle. It was a lovely ride and 80 miles later, with the children home and in bed, I am watching 'Forrest Gump' which doesn't deal with issues. It just tells a story in the words of a simple man, who's outlook is utterly enviable. Anyway, that's more material for another blog, one I probably won't write.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Buttertubs Pass On A YBR125

I haven't yet written about the biggest rideout since U-Ride2012. When I do, it will no doubt include at lease some small mention of my first ride up Buttertubs pass. This gist is that it wasn't what it could have been. I wanted to do it again and got the opportunity earlier than expected thanks to a very lovely wife I happen to have. 

I did it on Angie's YBR125 for a couple of reasons. One big one is that the rear tyre is getting very low on my V-Strom. Another is that I quite like putting along on a littl'un. Finally, after hearing about my brother in law's epic ride from Lincoln to somewhere near Kingston on Thames (190 miles on his YBR125) I felt like putting a big ride in on one myself.

Unlike a lot of my rides, this one started with me knowing exactly where I was going. Having recently returned from a 900 mile jaunt fully loaded and carrying a pillion on the Wee, it was a real joy riding the tiny little bike. It steers so easily in comparison. Actually, you pretty much just think a direction and off it goes. The brakes on the other hand, take a lot of getting used to after the Suzuki. But my chosen route was just 115 miles of superb riding and beautiful Yorkshire countryside, perfect for the little learner machine. 

Part of the beauty of the bike was that it is so easy to handle. You're never having to heave it about, on or off it. On my way up the pass I hopping on and off like it was an old London Bus. There are a great many reasons to stop on the pass; the stunning views over the dales, the butter tubs themselves and even just to contemplate the winding road ahead. When you are riding it, unless you want to rag the nuts off the poor thing, it takes you up and down the pass at a very sedated pace, perfect for just passing gently through, enjoying the cool air and long views. 

There is another road up there that is worth a look in. I took the pass north then rode to Reeth and took another high road back south to Askrigg. It's a much less used single track road. Not as high but very quiet and windy. It's not for the feint of heart but I imagine that probably keeps it quiet. 

The only thing that wasn't much good was the Samsung Galaxy S I decided to trial instead of my usual HTC Wildfire S. On paper the Samsung kicks the backside of the HTC but when it comes to getting a mobile  signal and picking up GPS sats, the HTC win hands down. Good thing I had a map in the box and a very good idea of where I was going really. 

Anyway. It was a good day and I would recommend this route to anyone. 

Buttertubs Pass Rideout (Sorry, you will need to zoom out a bit to see the whole route). 

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