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26 April 2010 @ 04:01 pm
Toon! (And Family Visiting & Egypt TV Programmes)  
Just returned from a few days up in the frozen north visiting J's family. It's not quite frozen up there, but I'd forgotten the temperature difference can feel significant at this time of year so wasn't quite warmly enough dressed!

Drove up on Thursday after a slightly later & more expensive start to the journey than anticipated - J had noticed a crack in the wall of one of the tyres on Wednesday so took the car up to the garage to see what they thought. And what they thought was that if we were planning a 600 mile round trip it'd be a good idea if we had that tyre replaced, and thus also the matching one. They were pretty worn anyway, so would almost certainly have been replaced in a couple of months when it was in for its MOT anyway ... but that put us an hour & a half later than we intended to leave. And £90ish poorer ;)

Got there in the end, though :) Spent the evening, and a big chunk of Friday daytime, watching programmes on Egypt that J's folks had recorded for us (they have Sky, and we don't, so they have a different selection of channels). This included the two-part documentary on the recent paper about Tutankhamun's family - King Tut Unwrapped. Which was frankly rather disappointing, and substandard. The visuals were mostly nice to see - like actually seeing most of the mummies the work had been done on, and stuff at Amarna like one of the boundary stelae. The voiceover, however, was dreadful - not just dumbed down and over-simplified but also outright wrong in places. For instance there was one point where the hieroglyphs on something were picked out in glowing highlight and J pointed out that what they highlighted and what they said it read were not the same (and yes, he knows more than the average viewer about this, but he's far from an expert, and you shouldn't lie about things in what is purporting to be a factual programme just because "no-one will notice"). The "narrative structure" it had chosen was somewhat muddled and definitely overstated what was actually shown in the paper. There was a lot of "now we definitely know that X was true" when they hadn't actually done anything more than suggest one possibility (and have been a lot less definite in the paper). Although I suppose that some of the reasons for it being less definite in the paper may be that they had backpedal a bit to get it through the peer review process - I know when Zahi Hawass spoke in London back in early December he was anticipating the paper to be any minute as soon as it got through peer review, and it took another couple of months, so maybe they had a bit of re-writing to do? The documentary, obviously, would've been recorded/edited/etc before the publication was finalised. And that did lead to one other thing I noticed - they said on the programme they had a complete marker profile from one of the fetuses, but said in the paper that it was only possible to get partial data. The genetics was mostly unexplained and I'm not sure how easy it would be to pick out what was going on at all if you didn't already have an idea, it was very handwavy "and now they do magic science STUFF of awesomeness" which I hate because it is possible to explain it to a lay audience without assuming they're too stupid to understand and that actually makes it more interesting if you come away knowing something than if you just see re-enactions of people discovering incomprehensible stuff in an overblown fashion. And I noticed in their quick pan across their data for that fetus that the figures were things like 12(13?) so the missing stuff was less solid than the published stuff. The dubious explanations/lack thereof for the genetics data coloured my opinions of the rest - how much else was in the same handwavy vein to a professional in the field, even above & beyond the stuff we did notice was dubious. A shame, in 4 hours of programme they had a chance to tell a very interesting story about modern egyptological research, but just didn't.

I forget exactly which programmes we watched on Friday - there were several that told overlapping stories about the Valley of the Kings, one about KV63 which was the sequel to the programme we watched a few weeks ago and talked about how the suspected tomb actually turned out to be a cache of embalming equipment/remains, possibly related to Tutankhamun's burial. There was also one about the pyramids at Giza, and one that covered pyramids prior to that (like those at Dashur and the Step Pyramid at Saqqara). One about the Sphinx, too. We watched a lot! Mostly rather good - obviously simplified in some places, particularly when presenting someone's pet theory without any alternatives - but not arousing the levels of irritation as King Tut Unwrapped did.

We also headed out for a little walk around the village in the afternoon on Friday once Jo & Chris had arrived, and for a play on the swings (pictures to follow another day). And in the evening we all (even Anne) went to the club for a few drinks :)

Despite being restrained on Friday night, I was still a bit hungover on Saturday morning which was a shame as Saturday was the reason we'd travelled up this weekend - we were off to the football to see Newcastle play! Not quite all of us - Anne really isn't interested in football, but the other 5 of us went. We headed into Newcastle for about noon, the original plan was to try & find a pub showing the Man U game so that Chris could see it. We got to the pub we'd planned to go to, but it wasn't showing the football :/ We decided in the end to stay there as we'd get to sit down & the other pubs that were showing the footy had all seemed pretty packed out. And Chris made full use of the internet on his phone to follow the bbc sports commentary as we all sat & drank for a while (I took it easy, but the beer did its bit to cure the hangover ;) ). In retrospect we should possibly have just gone up the the football ground, as we'd paid for the more expensive seats and the bar for those was showing the game - it's just the beer would've been more expensive.

The match itself was good - though a shame Newcastle only drew, Ipswich equalised right at the very last possible moment in the match, too. I think I prefer watching the footy on the telly though - commentary and replays of the important bits from different angles add a lot to it for me, and while there's more atmosphere at the actual match that didn't add enough to it, for me. I think everyone else really enjoyed it though, which is good :) And I wouldn't rule out going to other matches, I'm just unlikely to be the person pushing to do so ;) And it was cool to see the presentation of the trophy to Newcastle for winning the Championship! (Pictures to follow for this, too.)

Once we were back on Saturday evening we had steak and chips as a joint birthday tea for J & Jo (her birthday yesterday, his a week on Thursday) - well, J had duck & chips coz he's not a fan of steak. Then mostly settled in front of the telly to watch Sky Sports News and Match of the Day - and J and I even managed to stay awake long enough to watch enough of the League Show to see the bits of the match we'd been to see :) Anne was faintly horrified at this football-filled day I think ;) Although she had clearly taken the time to find out what the score was for the Newcastle match before coming to pick us up from the station!

Yesterday was Jo's actual birthday, so we didn't leave as promptly as we normally do when we're coming home - we had lunch with them all, and watched Jo play the PS3 game we got her for her birthday for a bit (Heavy Rain - my verdict is: looks good, but not my thing). And then we drove for what seemed like forever through roads filled with idiots till we got home. At which point we sat and ate a nice plain dinner and watched Doctor Who to unwind (write up to follow another day this week I think, this entry is already far too long - short version, I liked it, no surprise there). And then I went to hunt zombies and J watched Heroes and fretted about the dentist. Said dentist visit is now over, and we've picked up the cat from the cattery, so the week is starting to feel more normal again.
 
 
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