Budget news

In budget news George Posh Boy Osborne, taking advice from his American cousin Norman Osborn, has announced the government want to help stimulate the currently moribund supervillain economy. To this end in his budget today the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined how supervillains would now be granted tax relief and financial incentives for major infrastructure projects, such as the hollowing out of volcanoes for supervillain lairs. When challenged on this by representatives of the superhero community who claimed the Tories were in effect using taxpayer’s money to subsidise international crime, Mr Osbourne refuted this charge, claiming that supervillains and their major world domination projects and secret bases were important powerhouses of international commerce, driving both local and global economies and offering huge employment opportunities to a range of industries, from henchmen to the craftsmen such as carpenters and electricians who construct their lairs to the hi-tech companies who supply the lasers and missile tech for their plans, and the UK had to encourage these ‘innovators’ or be left behind in a competitive international marketplace.

I got …. Steam heat… I got… Steam heat…

When I was a wee boy my dad got me an enormous train set, the best toy I boy could have, especially fun since he’d often help me set it up and run it. I was lucky enough to have a whole bunch of engines and my favourite was the Britannia, a great mainline steam loco (and a bunch of Pullman coaches for it to haul). Long, powerful, graceful, elegant, it was my childhood ideal image of a mighty steam engine from days now gone. And here I was with my dad again looking at the real thing – not silent and static in a museum, but breathing steam and smoke, belly full of fire, steam whistle shrieking as she prepared to depart, a sound that only a few decades ago would have been heard all over these islands.

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steam at Carlisle 037

The watching crowd almost vanished between bursts of steam exhausting out

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And the crew get ready for departure
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I edited a couple of brief video clips I took between photos – the video isn’t great; my camera is a great stills camera and even though the video mode has full HD, widescreen etc it also has very annoying autofocus that is too twitchy and keeps trying to refocus itself while shooting which tends to ruin the images a bit (doesn’t help the light was in my lens instead of behind me either), but it does capture those fabulous sounds, including those deep ‘breathing’ whump, whump, WHUMP! sounds as she steams out, slight wheelspin as she does. I love those sounds.

La Tour

Been browsing through the fascinating Retronaut website quite a bit recently, all sorts of images from yesteryear, be it old catalogue ads, Max Sennett’s 1920s bathing beauties, old footage from the 1890s and more, well worth bookmarking and browsing through. This is one that caught my eye, some fabulous photos documenting the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

 

 

There’s something fascinating about seeing some great landmark construction in its early stages – I remember thumbing through a book I used to sell in my old bookstore which was a photographic history of the mighty Forth Rail Bridge (not dissimilar to La Tour Eiffel if you stood it up, I suppose, both huge Victorian era steel structures, immensely strong yet elegant, both still perfect over a century later, both now indelibly marked onto their respective nation’s psyche and identity).

 

Seeing just foundations at an area you know well but not yet with its primary landmark, then seeing pics of a partial structure, incomplete yet with enough there for you to recognise as it slowly takes shape into the iconic structure we know today…

 

And here are some shots of La Tour I took myself over a century later:

Eiffel Tower from Parc du Champs 4

Eiffel Tower from Parc due Champs

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Look at the sheer size of the legs close up – if you click on it to go to my Flickr page you can look at the larger version for details, you can make out the staircase inside the legs, a staircase I was walking up ten minutes after taking this photo. Sure, we took the lift from the first floor to the top, but for the first section we walked up through all that metalwork, it’s the best way to experience La Tour if you go.

Eiffel Tower

Looking right up inside the tower:

Eiffel Tower 4

And here’s a short video I shot standing directly underneath the tower:

Some of the huge wheels which wind the lift cables:

Eiffel Tower lift wheels

Looking down at how tiny the people look below – and this is just from the first level, not the top!

Eiffel Tower looking down from first level

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the City of Light spread out hundreds of feet below:

Eiffel Tower looking to Place de Varsovie and Jardins de Trocadero 2

And looking towards the Champs Elysee, you can see the Arc du Triomphe clearly here, shot from hundreds of feet in the air above my beloved Paris:

Eiffel Tower looking to Arc de Triomphe

And there is old Gustav Eiffel himself – well a waxwork anyway, in a cabin with his blueprints for La Tour on the very top of his magnificent tower:

Eiffel Tower waxworks

And here’s another short video, this time from the top, looking across the Parc de Champs du Mars, past the Ecole Militaire towards Montparnasse and the (rather ugly) modern towerblock of the Montparnasse Tower (one of the few large modern buildings in the historic area of the city centre – after this blot they stuck mostly to putting the modern skyscrapers outside the historic area in La Defense):

“Made it, Ma, top of the world!”

Je suis Napoleon!

God, I miss Paris, I so want to go back and walk her streets and explore her many boulevards, galleries, bookstores, museums, bars…

enLIGHTen

Stopped on the way home last night to watch the launch of the enLIGHTen festival in Saint Andrew’s Square, three weeks of contemporary writers responding to quotes by some of the great figures of that powerhouse period, the Scottish Enlightenment (a period which produced science, philosophy and art which still influences to this day). For the next three weeks their words, animated, will be projected onto various elegant buildings and landmarks throughout Edinburgh’s New Town (which we still call new despite being older than the United States – we reckon time differently here). One of our contemporary poets opened the events with a reading (always best way to experience poetry, being read out by the scribe):

enLIGHTen Edinburgh 02

My literary chum Sara, formerly of the Edinburgh Book Festival, explaining more of the event:

enLIGHTen Edinburgh 03

And as it started some words from the great Scottish philosopher David Hume scrambled slowly up the tall monumental column in the middle of the square as well as being projected along the base – apologies for the picture being fuzzy, the lettering was moving and as I had come right from work I had no tripod to steady it (although as the text moved the tripod might still not be enough to get a sharp image):

enLIGHTen Edinburgh 04

enLIGHTen runs from 6pm to midnight until March 18th – you can find a map of the locations and more about the writers on the official site here.

And while we’re at it, here’s one I shot earlier… This was from Carry A Poem, a similar campaign two years back from the Edinburgh City of Literature crew, where famous poetical lines were projected onto buildings in the city, such as this piece of Byron on the walls of the National Library of Scotland, fairly brightened up a winter’s night, walking home and finding a piece of poetry written in light on the pavement or on a wall:

carry a poem - national library of scotland 02