18 May 2014

Penny Dreadful

My fair girl has many talents, but is the most surprising is her ability to seek out and find exciting high quality television shows.

She found Vikings by the History channel, American horror story, and now she has found  Penny Dreadful.

Penny dreadful is a cool new show with a great cast; Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and Billie Piper all come together in a show about a dark Victorian London plagued with spirits, murderers and vampires. Sir Malcolm Murray (Dalton) is searching for something taken from him.  He along with the enigmatic spiritualist  Vanessa Ives (Green) and the drunken marksman Chandler (Hartnett) seek monsters in the shadows of a gas lit Gothic London.
Sir Malcolm Murray and Doctor Frankenstein.
This is not some syndicated ensemble cast of the overly beautiful, this is for fans of Anno Dracula, and Mary Shelly, and so far I really enjoying it. 

Here is the trailer I suggest you watch it in the dark. 

Right I off to catch up on Game of Thrones, and then dance my Sunday away. 

13 May 2014


I have a nerf gun. I brought it for a steam punk party as a prop, but I do enjoy shooting it and people and things.  When I moved in with my partner, her daughter Lulu also discovered she enjoyed shooting people and things.  But most of all she discovered she liked shooting me.  Last Sunday we were at the Warehouse looking at Nerf and other similar weapons and  we discovered the Nerf Heartbreaker bow for girls. 

Both my lady and Lulu frowned at Hunger Games inspired weapons for girls.  They found it a little patronizing that girls have to like pretty things, even weapons.  It turns out that girls like functional accurate weapons that can be any color really. Even girls that like dresses and make up. 

However while the success of Hunger Games has created patronising toys for girls, it has also opened Hollywood eyes to science fiction movies with strong female leads.  Which brings me to Divergent
In the remnants of Chicago, society has split into five factions;  Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor. If you are not in any of these factions you are factionless, lost and poor outside society.  Each faction has a function and specialty within the city. 

  • Abnegation believes in altruistic service to others. They are the civic leaders of Chicago who lead the other factions, but keep nothing for themselves.
  • Erudite are the scientists and keepers of knowledge.
  • Dauntless are the soldiers and police
  • Amity are the farmers and artists
  • Candors are the law makers and seekers of truth.

You are born into a faction, but at 16 you are tested to see where you actually belong. Most stay in their own faction, but some “defect”.  Whatever faction you end up in you stay there forever.  The system works and society is at peace.
Beatrice Prior is the daughter of two of the leaders of Abnegation.  All her life she has struggled with Abnegation’s selfless service to others, a life free of vanity and pride. The expectation that she will stay in Abnegation chaffs at her, but that is where her family is.  She has always admired the men and women of Dauntless, their strength and bravery and the freedom of spirit.
Terrified, Beatrice goes to her testing and once it is complete she discovers that the infallible test fails. Instead of telling her which faction she should belong to, the test is inconclusive. The girl that tests her wipes the results, puts her down as Abnegation, and tells her not to tell anyone, not even her family.
Beatrice is not naturally part of the system, she is divergent. This sets Beatrice on a journey of discovery of her society and herself and also the cracks in the system.

Ensue dystopian future hyjinxs.

Divergent surprised me with its quality.  While there is the obligatory comparison to The Hunger Games, with young female lead in a dystopian future, it is certainly its own film. Divergent deals with themes which are pretty common to teenagers, freedom, challenging authority, identity, and family.

Beatrice wants to break away from her life of in abnegation, and its dull selfless responsibility. She admires but also disdains its selfless view point which she perceives as weakness.  It is quite deliberate that Abnegation members wear grey. She craves the excitement of Dauntless, their strength of purpose and freedom.  Her family’s and faction’s preconception that she will stay with them forever is also depressing. Most teenagers can relate to that I think. But also woven into that story is her discovery of a secret. The divergent are being hunted and killed. They are perceived to be a threat to society. 

Fans of classic science fiction stories will recognize some pretty familiar themes in the story, but for me I was excited to see these ideas being re-explored. That ideas of identity and authority written about by Phillip K Dick, or Ray Bradbury, are being re-introduced to a new audience is good. That the stories are about strong young women is even better!

Thankfully gone are the diaphanous gowns of the women in old sic fi, and here are young intelligent women who can fight for what they believe in.

Overall I enjoyed it. I also like that while Tris is a strong female character she still needs the help of her friends to succeed. Also that even after a solid training montage she still can’t beat up a stronger more experienced fighter to save the day.

The cinematography of the city was very good. The post apocalyptic Chicago, remnant of the end of Logans run, both both futuristic, but also decaying. 

The performances were fine, nothing that wowed me, but also enjoyable. Ashley Judd, as Tris's mother was probably my favorite  performance.  And my favorite moment was when Tony Goldwyn as Tris's father challenged her perception of what it means to be truly selfless.

However I didn't really like the end. I didn't understand the characters choices at all? I understand that there are three books and the film is setting up the next story, but there seemed to be a real disconnect in what happened?

But Lulu loves it and I think it will be a popular choice amongst young women this year.

8 May 2014

A new staff performance plan

Staff Performance Plan for the king of the North’s army

Name:  Harold
Title: Man at arms
Lords Name: Great-Jon Umber
Lords title: Lord of Last Hearth

End of year review
Employee signature:       x                   Date: Autumn 300 A.L.
 Manager's signature: Great-Jon Umber Lord of Last Hearth

Section A - What are you expected to do for your King!

S.M.A.R.T. Objectives

 1- Customer service!
What do you need to achieve? 
Defend the North, Crush the Southern armies of the false king. Support and obey your liege Lord and the King of the North

Measurement of Objective: Contribute to army results in delivering against the following.

>80% of all melees won

All combats with customers are violent, succinct, relevant and timely. Verbal communication specifies an organ or a manner of demise which will be received during the battle will be made and is followed up with said violence.

All battle actively managed to an appropriate conclusion and the enemy fought regularly through an effective martial system.

Communication (incoming)
·         Respond to Ravens within 3 days,
·         Respond to spoken or shouted correspondence within 5 minutes.

Answer your lords request within 24 hours
No order is to be ignored unless the reason for this would break the law of the King of the North.

2 - Leadership
What do you need to achieve? 
 Consistently provide accurate soldiering demonstrating expert knowledge of stabbing others.

Measurement of Objective:
·         Collaborates well with others and shares knowledge, information, ideas and experience with team and the army.
·        Volunteers to help others succeed.
·        Maintain an up to date knowledge of Soldering; walking, digging, doing what he is told, more walking, occasionally going hungry - learning from training and day to day work is applied and there is evidence of initiatives that improve personal and team results.
·        Contribution to change implementation plans - a positive attitude and flexible approach to change is evident.
·        Active participation in and responsibility for own survival.

3 - Quality and productivity
Contribute to army results in delivering against the following:

What do you need to achieve? 
Achieve business plan deliverables by Winter

Measurement of Objective:
·        Kill Lannisters
·        Kill their allies
·        Send the survivors beyond the Riverlands never to return.
·         Loot but no pillaging as per the Kings orders
·         March to each battle on time
·         Have your weapons sharp 80% of the battles
·         Have your armour and kit on for 60% of the battles
·        Have trousers on for 90% of the battles

Full Year assessment

 (As scribed for the soldier due to his illiteracy)

When the mi lord gave the call, I did come as per my duty.  I am good with spear and as I was brought up along with Milord Smalljon , I can swing a sword but I prefer my axe.  Last ‘earth is small compared to a place like Winterfell. So I can ride as well as any. And have killed wildlings since I was ten, or so the Maester says.

I was with his lordship when we first went south.  I fought at the battle of the Whispering Wood, the battle of the Camps , and after the battle of Oxcross I was with Greatjon Umber and ‘elped capture the gold mines at Castamere, and Pendric ‘ills.

 At the battle of the Whispering Wood I killed two men that I am sure of and another which I am sure of could not have lived. It was a ‘ard fight and the enemy were better armoured than any wilding. But they die just the same.

At the battle of the Camps we came in from the west to help the Kings family. He wasn’t the King then. That was after. But kin is kin as my mother says.

The Lannisters were fighting back by the time we came in. The men tried to form a shield wall, but those Southern Nancy’s were quaking when the Greatjon and us Northmen came at ‘em. We know how to make and break a shield wall.  I set my axe in one man’s skull, and killed a boy. I am sorry about the boy now, but tis the way of battle I suppose. He raised a spear to my lord and tis my sworn duty to fight, die and protect. So the boy fell under my axe as well. Still hard for one so young to die away from his mum.

After the battle of Oxcross I was with Greatjon Umber and ‘elped capture the gold mines at Castamere, and Pendric Hills.

Pendric was a bit of a scuffle, but Castamere I ‘ad it a bit easy. There was a camp of Southerners and they were all running about like chickens in a coop. So I just ran up and hit one on the head hard, and ‘e fell down like.  Then I yelled at the rest that they was all prisoners of the GreatJon. And by the old gods they all just sat down like babes all neat and nice. I was proud that day cause the GreatJon ‘e did  shake my hand, and asked if I could be so kind as to go down to Casterty Rock and ask Lord Tywin to surrender. I don’t know what came over me but I says to ‘im. If you like milord, but whose going to win his battles for ‘im while I’m gone?

I thought for a minute he was going to take me ‘ead off there and then. But then ‘e just laughed at me.

I am ‘onest and I do my duty, an what I am told. When the Karstarks killed them boys I was with the GreatJon when we locked em up.  I understand that they were angry, but they was just lads. 


Recommended performance rating

This is an assessment of the employee’s performance against the objectives (the ‘what’), capabilities, and behaviours (the ‘how’) of the job they are employed to do in terms of the requirements of the whole role, as set out in their position description.

Select the recommended rating

Performance improvement


High standard of performance
Exceptional performance


Give the reason for the recommendation
He is still alive, he has killed a lot of damn Lannisters. At the battle of the Twins he skewered a damn Lannister squire trying to gut me. Well done Boy!

Great-Jon Umber Lord of Last Hearth

Section C – Individual development plan

I am ‘appy as my lord is rewarding me for my service. 

 I am to be the cup bearer to my lord at Lord Edmure’s wedding in two days. 

Also after the war he will marry me to my sweet heart Mareth. And if I have a my son he will be taken on as a squire by the GreatJon.

But for now I am looking forward to the wedding. I do enjoy a wedding, it will good to relax and celebrate for once.