Unfortunate timing

On Friday, the Pixel Museum opened it’s doors to the public. This is Brussels’ first and only video games museum and includes merchandise, memorabilia and — most interestingly to me — 50 playable arcade games.

In other Friday news, the Belgian government announced a tightening of restrictions in order (hopefully) to bring down the rising Coronavirus numbers.

Among the restrictions, bars and restaurants have to close for four weeks, although this will be reviewed in two week’s time. Understandably, the hospitality sector is not happy about this.

Nothing has been decided about museums yet as the rules for sport and culture are still being revised. There will be an announcement this coming Friday, but I would expect to see museums, cinemas and indoor sporting events to be severely restricted, if not closed down completely. Which would be a shame, because I really like the idea of going out to play Space Invaders.

So here’s hoping that the infection rates start falling again and that we can start emerging — yet again — before too long, and that the affected businesses manage to stay afloat long enough to survive this latest outbreak.

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

There are two films called Assault on Precinct 13. There’s the 2005 remake and the much better 1976 original that was written and directed by John Carpenter.

This film opens with a police ambush in which a number of gang members are killed. The gang members, being a less than stable bunch, make a blood pact with each other to take revenge. This, after a few detours, leads them to lay siege on Anderson police station — an isolated and lightly staffed station that is due to be closed down the following morning.

And it has to be said that plausibly generating this sense of isolation in the middle of a city like Los Angeles really is an incredible feat on the part of John Carpenter.

There isn’t a lot to the script, but there doesn’t need to be. The sight of a small group of people — a policeman, a couple of criminals, a secretary and a phone operator — trapped and isolated is both gripping and horrific. This is heightened by Carpenter’s score which is deeply unsettling in itself.

As a thriller, Assault on Precinct 13 is as good a demonstration of what this genre is capable as any, and it’s effective today as it ever was. Full of fear, tension and desperation, the film is both unrelenting and utterly gripping as we watch the main characters struggling to cope with the carnage around them and the hopelessness of their situation.

Assault on Pricing 13 is a memorably gripping and genuinely nail biting 90 minutes.

Aeropress

You can never have too many methods for making coffee, which is why I now have an Aeropress. I haven’t used it a lot, as yet, but I am quite impressed so far.

The device is similar to a cafetière (also known as a French press) in that you steep the coffee in water and then use a plunger to separate the grounds. The difference is that the plunger uses an airtight seal to push the coffee through a filter (which captures the grounds) straight into a mug.

The manufacturer claims that this brews an espresso strength coffee, which it probably does albeit a very small espresso.

The main selling point for the Aeropress, though, is the convenience it offers, allowing you to make a decent cup of coffee in about 30 seconds. You simply pour hot water over the coffee, stir, plunge and you’re done.

Cleaning it is a doddle, too — once you’ve plunged the used coffee into a bin, all that’s needed is a quick rinse and it’s ready to use again.

In terms of the actual coffee, it’s not bad. It doesn’t match the moka pot for the efficient delivery of a full flavour caffeine overdose, but it does make for a quick and decent cup of coffee that can be drunk throughout the day.

I need to experiment with the device a bit more, probably a lot more, but I can certainly see it becoming a welcome addition to my caffeinated lifestyle.

52 Orbits

Today, I have managed to make it around the Sun 52 times, but we’ve celebrated already. We went out on Sunday for a socially distanced all you can eat breakfast, followed by two hours of mask compliant bowling. And it’s all in the same location.

The breakfast is something we have done before. You book a table tor two hours (other options are probably available), and while there you can help yourself to as much food as you want. Except, because of the Coronavirus, you can’t help yourself anymore — you have to wait by the counter until the rather harassed looking waiter can come and put some food on your plate.

We were still allowed to help ourselves to coffee, however. I drank a lot of coffee.

The food is great, though, and they have adjusted to the Covid requirements well. Once our trips for more food became a bit more spread, things worked remarkably smoothly. So we ate and, once we were too stuffed to move, we went downstairs for the bowling.

It was 2002, I think, when I last went bowling and I was pretty rubbish then as well. But the twins have expressed an interest a couple of times which is why we decided to go on Sunday. And they did really well — in fact everyone did well, except me.

This is why the scoreboard is obscured in the photo at the top of this post 😉

All in all, it was a fun, and surprisingly cheap, way to spend most of Sunday. We will certainly be doing this again — especially as winter draws in and outdoor activities become less feasible.

That said, the next trip probably won’t be anytime soon given that more Covid restrictions are going into effect today.

Das Modell

I mentioned Kraftwerk’s The Model back in June when I stumbled across a cover of the song from the marvelously named George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

In September I discovered that DJ Cummerbund had helped a reluctant Rammstein find their funky junk.

When Rammstein covers The Model, I think we’ve hit Peak Teuton.

Obviously, this is not the official music video for the song and, as far as I can tell, none exists. The footage in the above video is taken from Domino, the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley. It does work remarkably well, though.

Brexit: the Digby Jones Jobs Lost Index

Back in 2016, Lord Digby Jones, a vocal proponent of Brexit, inanely asserted that “There’s not going to be any economic pain. If there are job losses, they will be very few”.

As late as January 2019 he was still maintaining “not a single job” would be lost because of Brexit.

In a darkly humorous move, Yorkshire Bylines have come up with the Digby Jones Jobs Lost Index.

It’s a list that keeps on growing.

All’s fair in love and (cod) war

Flanders will use charter from 1666 to guarantee post-Brexit fishing rights

The Flemish government argues it can invoke a charter that dates back to 1666 to secure its right to fish in U.K. waters if there’s no deal on fisheries before the end of the Brexit transition period.

It turns out that King Charles II granted “eternal access” to fifty fishermen from Bruges way back in 1666.

It sounds like a joke, but a spokesperson for Flemish Fisheries Minister, Hilde Crevits has claimed that the charted “has been confirmed by a U.K. lawyer in 1820.”

That’s a mere ten years before Belgium was founded.

After seeking legal guidance, the government of Flanders has sent a copy of the charter to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

One of the things I love about living in Belgium is the surrealism of the country’s politics.