Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes and the CGI London

Sherlock Holmes as an Ultimate Fighter? Professor Moriarty as a shadowy terrorist? Irene Adler as a super con artist? Yes, and the city of London as it was in the good old days of Queen Victoria. Or as close as you can get with a lot of computer generated images.

Victoria's London was as much of a star in Sherlock Holmes as Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law. The cobblestones themselves spell out the opening credits as we follow Lestrade and Watson to the scene of a crime. The back alleys, the sewers, the river Thames, the Tower Bridge under construction, and all the great landmarks make their small appearances on screen.

Oh sure, the story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson saving the world take center stage, but the stage itself is London. It's a perfect film for my London Thoughts, as it is not quite real-and much cheaper to get to.

The London of Sherlock Holmes is amazing and beautiful, and since it is set in the 1890s or there abouts, there is a lot of smog to help trick the eye over the details. Unlike, say Avatar, where every frame was a special effect and looked like a special effect, the London of Sherlock Holmes often looked like London. Some of the more gimmicky shots had that latent oh-look-CGI feel to them, but they were not enough to be a problem for me.

The story is pure Scooby Doo, but I still liked it. Robert Downey, Jr is great as Sherlock Holmes, even if he can't really be bothered to put on much of an English accent. I liked Sherlock Holmes, and I liked the CGI London at the heart of it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

London Gazetteer

There comes a time when my London Thoughts are no longer satisfied with tour books and picture books of all the common stuff that tourist like to look at. I like the occasional book that takes me a little farther afield, and I hope that next time I in London, I will go a little farther a field myself.

With this thought in mind, I found Chambers London Gazetteer. Here is a nice thick book which has over 1,300 entries covering all manner of places that I would have never known of otherwise. Oh I suppose I could chat up some other London blogger and arrange to met and get a proper tour of the city-but the odds of that happening are pretty slim. Besides, I can enjoy the company of the book at anytime, not just when I am in that grand old city of London.

The London Gazetteer has a couple of sections of photos, mostly of places I have never heard of, but which look very interesting. For example, Ash Tree Cottage and Old Keeper's Cottage have that nice thatched look I associate with Standford Upon Avon. While places like BedZED and the Halls of residence for the University of East London remind that London never stops growing and changing.

The entries are seldom very long, but still long enough to give their subjects a good going over. In addition to the text of the articles, there are also web page addresses when applicable, postal district, bus and underground routes, riverboat piers, populations, and books to look up for further reading. They also help on pronunciations such as Euston-pronounced yoostan.

Right, reading the London Gazetteer is not going to let me pass as a local, but it might help me figure out what the people on Masterpiece Theater are on about.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two Ways to Make Tea

My London Thoughts tend to lean a bit toward a nice cuppa tea now and then. Nothing as fancy as that famous High Tea at 4 in the afternoon, but just a proper cup of tea. Heading over to YouTube finds a lot of people who seem to have an opinion on what makes the perfect cup of tea. Here are two that I liked.

I'm not sure if this is the way they make tea in London, but I'm guessing it must be the way some people in London make tea.