The space between Now and Now

Neo-Victorians.
 
In recent conversations with Ricardo, we’ve been talking about some of the rather left-field subject areas you get in universities or the embarras de riches in certain areas. For example, almost everyone in the English Department at Manchester (apart from the few surviving Medievalists) is doing gay studies of one sort or another. In fact, there’s not just gay but post-gay (no, I don’t know what that means) and queer (no, I don’t know how that differs from gay). We were perplexed because although gay studies is hardly a minority sport, there seemed to be an excess of academics doing research on this in one department.
 
Of course, this is what tends to happen in university departments. When I was at Manchester, the English Department got invaded by the lit. crit. mob. You only need one person in a prominent position and more of the tribe will follow. In other words, because the Professor of Lit. Crit. wants someone to talk to at lunchtime, he’ll have fellow travellers appointed.
 
Anyway, let’s get back to the Neo-Victorians. During our conversation on Friday, Ricardo and I came across the Neo-Victorians. Now I, thinking in linear terms, wondered how you could have a Neo-Victorian when the Victorian period was immediately followed by the Edwardian period. It reminded me of an old episode of Dr Who (Jon Pertwee era) when the sergeant tried to explain a concept to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart by saying that the Master was using the space in time between now and now. Otherwise, I couldn’t think how you could have Neo-Victorians without some sci-fi sleight-of-hand.
 
Actually, the whole thing turns out to be a modern incarnation as the wikipedia article about Neo-Victorian explains. There’s a connection with steampunk (wikipedia) which I already know through anime and manga such as Steamboy, Fullmetal Alchemist and Last Exile. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is cited as a Neo-Victorian novel. The movement sounds very cosplay/RPG to me, but a rather impractical means for living life.

Languages and their status

Irish Gaelic in Ulster.
 
According to this story in The Guardian, there’s some bill before the Northern Ireland Assembly which would give Irish Gaelic equal status with English in Northern Ireland. It’s no great surprise that the Unionists will scupper it. Westminster would also follow suit.
One [English government source] said: ‘The government won’t bring it in via Westminster because the danger is they would be legally bound to recognise other languages such as Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and so on as being of equal legal status to English. Which would cost millions and millions to implement in a time of depleted public finances. This time around Sinn Fein can’t go running to Number 10 to get what they want.’ (My emphasis.)
I find the first line of reasoning to be spurious. There’s a difference between languages spoken by immigrants and indigenous languages such as, er, Irish Gaelic. Although the deliberate elimination of immigrant languages in favour of a national language is pernicious, there seems to be no argument in favour of giving such languages official status at the national level. In some areas it may be practical to have signs and notices up in languages other than English, but outside that area, there’s no relevance.
 
Thus, if Irish Gaelic was given official status in Northern Ireland, it would only constitute a rather weak argument for giving official status to languages spoken by immigrants. Clearly, no one would try implementing anything like this in Unionist areas. (The obvious example is bilingual street signs as you get in Wales, but they’d be vandalised before the Council workers had finished putting them up.) Perhaps Locutus of NuLab actually wanted to say, "The whole thing would be a bloody great pain in the arse."
 
The other excuse is money (what a surprise), but "millions and millions" is just some nonsensical quantity. Whoever said this doesn’t really know what the cost would be, but if you say a large number, people will get worried.

It’s all Chinese to me.
 
The Language Log post Identifying written Cantonese is about differences in writing between Mandarin and Cantonese. In more than one place, I’ve read that the languages may be different, but the writing system is the same. I’m vaguely aware that strictly speaking that’s not true, and the entry includes some instances where the two languages would use different characters.
 
But if you showed me two Chinese texts (same passage; both in traditional characters) and asked me to identify which was Mandarin and which was Cantonese, I probably couldn’t do it. That’s mainly because I know almost nothing about the latter, apart from it having six or seven tones and sounding quite funny to listen to. But even being more familiar with the former, I’m not sure what markers I should be looking for to identify it if I can’t use simplified vs. traditional characters as the means.

No fact left unrepeated

But quite a few omitted.
 
I got back from Shanghai last night, but this is the point at which the screen goes wobbly and we go into the nightmare sequence…
 
I arrived at Chengdu airport and tried to check in. When I gave the clerk my flight number, he told me that that particular flight was from Shanghai. In the end, I had to buy a return ticket (although I’ll get the money) for the flight at 4.10pm. Then while I was waiting for the shuttle bus to leave for the plane, my phone died (i.e., beyond low battery), which meant that when I reached Shanghai, there was no way for me to contact the welcoming committee and I had to get a taxi to the hotel. The journey took about twenty minutes and cost ¥57. That doesn’t seem right, but I’m not paying for that either.
 
shanghai Almost the first thing I learnt was that the old lags didn’t have to attend the sessions on Tuesday. I’d thought about taking my camera, but because I expected I’d be stuck inside almost all day every day, I’d left it at home. (On the other hand, I was surprised to find that I’d packed my battery recharger; force of habit, I guess.) This was really annoying because when a group of us went into town, the day was bright and sunny. I did snap that picture on my phone from the Captain’s Bar on my phone. I might also have packed my LP China book.
 
Our first stop was the Foreign Languages Bookshop which is possibly even better stocked than the one in Beijing. They even had a selection of Penguin Classics, a series which I don’t think I’ve seen in China outside of Hong Kong. I don’t remember seeing them at the FLB in Beijing. After that, the others decided to have lunch at the Captain’s Bar, where I caught up with them.
 
Lunch for me was a pepperoni pizza. It was edible, but like the pizza I had at UBC Coffee in Changzhou once, the topping was a little too runny. While we were there, I spotted a ship (small-sized freighter) whose sole function seemed to be to carry a huge TV screen advertising the Olympics up and down the river.
 
Having had lunch, we went for a walk along the Bund where all the old Western-style buildings are (you can just see one on the right-hand side of the picture). They all have plaques explaining what they once were. In fact, as I was walking to the Captain’s Bar, I passed the Metropole Hotel and felt as if I’d strayed into the 1930s. There were so many good photographs to be had, but my mobile wasn’t up to the quality of the day.
 
On the way back, we decided to take the bus from the last stop on the Metro back to the hotel. I knew we were a long way from anywhere, but the bus trip really reinforced it. The hotel in Pudong is a long way from anywhere.
 
No, don't ask me how 会议 becomes "seance". As for the conference, there’s really little worth mentioning. It was more of the same, which meant little of any real value for me. The company now has a brand name, and has gone well beyond the original programme. Most of the teachers were old lags, although I don’t think too many of last year’s intake returned. The only other surviving 1st gen was back, but I still hold the record (or shameful burden) for continuous service. Wasn’t so bad on Wednesday in spite of the traffic waking me at about 6.30am, but yesterday I was tired.
 
One of the other things we weren’t told (although I did wonder about it) was that we were being sent home on Friday. I packed to leave on Thursday and, for practical reasons, actually had to return last night. The practical reason is that my passport has to be in to the PSB today because my foreign resident’s permit expires on Monday.
 
The curse of Pudong Airport struck again. I got dropped off at Terminal 1. Air China is meant to operate from there, but apart from that vague general information, the flight itself seemed not to exist. I couldn’t see the flight number; there was no flight at the time I’d been told; but there were flights to Chengdu. I went to Terminal 2, but again, nothing. Back to Terminal 1. Still nothing to point me in the right direction because I’m trying to find where to check in in a large building without directions. Back to Terminal 2 because I’m now thinking that the flight might be combined with China Eastern, although the times were different. (The times and places of departure for domestic flights can jump around a lot, so my assumption wasn’t unwarranted.) But the people at China Eastern sent me back to Terminal 1.
 
By this time I’m hot and very, very frustrated. It is by chance that I even found where I should’ve been, and I’m too late to actually check my bag in. I get my boarding pass and head to security where I lost my bottle of shampoo (bugger!). After that, I ran most of the way to Gate 95, which, of course, had to be at the other end of the terminal building. I didn’t know whether I was going to get there on time or whether I’d arrive to see the gangplank being raised. In the end, I got there just as the passengers has started boarding the plane.
 
But I hate Pudong Airport – really, really hate the place.

RSS feeds can be fun

And not for the first time.
 
I’m looking through the list of news stories from the BBC when my eye alights on High St haggling. The meaning is obvious, but it’s easy to read it as High St Haggling and make up stories about some slightly eccentric English village where "foreign travel" means a trip down the road to Low St Haggling.
 
Via the article about High St haggling I find How is a cooling tower demolished? which includes the following sentence:
How do you safely explode two 76m (250ft) -high structures within sight of a motorway?
Although I hear phrases such as "explode a bomb" and don’t really comment on them, in my grammar "explode" is overwhelmingly an intransitive verb. If "explode a bomb" is marginally grammatical to me, exploding something that isn’t inherently explosive (such as a couple of cooling towers) is comprehensible, but ungrammatical, and not the sort of use to which I’m likely to put the verb.

Way to ruin the end of the holiday.
 
One week left and then it’s back to teaching Senior 2 for the sixth year in a row and the fifth teaching them the same sort of material. And just to make things worse, I’m also saddled with some Senior 1 "conversation" classes. And since this week is the last week, that means the conference in Shanghai at the same remote hotel as last year. I expect a bunch of the more youthful newcomers to the programme will play truant and head into town because there they are in Shanghai and they’re not even getting to see the place.
 
I’ve been to every one of these conferences since they started them four (?) years ago, and they’ve been an utter waste of time since the second one when the current programme was formally introduced. But it is all doom and gloom. Because Glen and Row are off on holiday in Thailand, I’m going to be there by myself. There won’t be any new team members to meet; there may be something new to be said about what’s happened to the programme, but that’s not really going to affect me; I still haven’t forgotten my job after a couple of months.
 
I note (again, I’m sure) that I’ve never been asked to contribute anything at any of these conferences. I could do some sort of general orientation for the newbies with encouraging observations such as, "You’ll be teaching thick kids from rich families. That’s the lot of most native English teachers in China" or "You’re the novelty act – for about the first lesson" or "Your classes are their time for doing homework in other subjects; chatting; sitting inertly looking stupid; basketball practice; listening to music; playing with their mobile phones; doodling and drawing, and anything but what you’re trying to get them to do."
 
See. I can be helpful, too.
 
Anyway, I’ve decided to leave my laptop at home because I don’t really need the extra weight, hence there will be radio silence until Thursday or Friday.

The End of the Line

By Mr Bamboo.
Preface
Once again, the shower proves to be the place where ideas pop into my head (not necessarily all good), and because I’ve read so much Gothic horror recently, it’s not surprising that this story is in the same vein.

Dr Thomas Steadman of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, was the leading scholar in the field of Dacian history. Every summer for several years, he had travelled to that last and most briefly included province of the Roman Empire to gather  materials for his definitive history of the region which would extend to five thick volumes in small, densely packed print. It was the summer of 1891 when he procured access to Castle Dracula where, he hoped, would be an invaluable collection of historical documents in the care of the Count, who was perhaps the direct descendant of the infamous Vlad the Impaler.
 
The journey to the castle, situated deep in the Carpathian Mountains where the borders between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires were ill-defined, was quite tiring, punctuated by frequent changes of transport until having alternated between various trains and coaches, Dr Steadman arrived at his destination where he was met by the Count’s servant, Igor, who ferried him in an aging, rickety coach along the wooded lane that ran up the side of the mountain to Castle Dracula.
 
The tired scholar had expected an edifice of singular and dominating mag­nificence, but it was obvious the place was only a few degrees from being deemed a ruin. The outer walls were a fence of jagged stone with several breaches; the turrets were toothless stumps; and the gates had clearly been built by the region’s least competent carpenter. Two servants had to lift up the gates, one at a time, to open them for the coach to enter, and when the gates were closed again, they sagged on their hinges. On the other hand, the keep seemed well-maintained even if the seasons were gradually winning that battle.
 
Igor stopped the coach in front of the door and as he alighted, he ordered the other servants to unload their guest’s luggage and take it to his room. He himself conducted Dr Steadman into the keep, closing the outer door with a grating crash and showing him to the first floor where the Count kept his apartments. Igor announced the visitor before withdrawing.
Dr Steadman had met many members of the Dacian aristocracy on previous visits and knew that they had a penchant for ridiculously florid military uniforms which, he was sure, were tailored to the specifications of no existing regiment and embellished with decorations won on no campaign. But Count Dracula, pallid of skin and greasy of hair, looked shabby in a suit whose age could almost certainly be measured in decades. As well as the shabbiness of the Count’s clothing, Dr Steadman had instantly perceived a rank stench the moment he entered the room, and the stuffiness of the chamber as if it had not been aired in a long time. All the windows were hidden behind heavy, dark curtains and the room was lit with a few tallow candles, which, the Englishman thought, must have made the room feel as if it was always mid evening.
Count Dracula, exuding a pungent miasma, rose to greet his guest and gesturing that he should sit in an adjacent chair began to inquire about his journey. Dr Steadman used this as an opportunity to escape from the Count’s malodorous presence by claiming – truthfully – that he was tired after a long journey and would be grateful if the interview might be con­ducted at a later time. Count Dracula granted the request without demur, apologising for forgetting his manners and being overly eager to converse with his guest. He immediately took Dr Steadman to a room on the second floor and invited him to resume their discourse after he had rested.
As soon as the Count had closed the door, Dr Steadman opened the curtains and flung wide the windows to let air and daylight into the room. His luggage had been placed neatly at the foot of the bed which seemed to have been made up with fresh linens. But for the rest, there was an air of age and decay, and the lingering reek which the Count had left behind. Only Dr Steadman’s fatigue kept him from worrying whether he had made a terrible misjudgement and having cast himself onto the bed, he soon fell asleep.
By the time he woke up, the sun had set an hour or two before and the moon, nearly full, had turned the Carpathians and their sylvan mantle light grey. In the pale light, he could just see some candles which he lit and by their feeble light poured some water into a bowl. As he was washing his face, there came a knock at the door. It was Igor, who had been sent to inquire whether Dr Steadman might like to join the Count for dinner. He accepted the offer with unexpressed reservations and was led to a small dining room two doors away.
The fare, goulash, fittingly up to the standard of Castle Dracula, had been prepared by Igor who, so the Count informed his guest, was an indispensable Jack-of-all-Trades. He proceeded to praise Igor for his dubious culinary skills which to Dr Steadman seemed to be a convincing argument for the reinstatement of public floggings. In the course of the dinner, he answered his host’s various questions and was promised that he would not be disappointed by the content of the castle library. He ex­pressed a wish to see the collection as soon as possible.
After refilling Dr Steadman’s glass with some species of liquid that was purportedly wine, the Count took him to the third floor where there was, against all hope, an extensive library which would take some time to examine. For the moment, the Englishman was content with a brief and hasty survey, but Count Dracula pulled a volume off the shelf and proffered it to him. What Dr Steadman saw confirmed the futility of his visit.
In the study of Dacian history, Dr Steadman had only one rival whose work, signed on the flyleaf by the author himself, had just been handed to him. He turned to the title page where he read A Short History of Dacia by Barnabas P. Hackencough III ma, Shelton Scholar of Eastern European History at Harvard University.
“I shall leave you to your research,” said Count Dracula. “I have to go and feed on the blood of attractive women from the local area. You see, my dear Dr Steadman, I am a vampire.”
The baffled Cambridge scholar thought that the Count might be in jest, and impotently watched him uncross the curtains, open the window, and fling himself out of the room, his final words being “I’m a bat”.
Gravity respects neither social status nor degree of sanity, and also proved how lethal cobblestones can be as Count Dracula hit them with a sickening thud that signalled the end of his life and the line of Vlad the Impaler.

And that’s why I killed off the comments

Getting paid to play games.
 
It seems I probably have an explanation for the spam comments which caused me to stop people from commenting last month. According to this article on the BBC website, people are being paid to play World of Warcraft so that the virtual gold they earn can be sold to the real players. The spam that was being posted to the comments section was all about sites where the gold is sold.
 
And where does most of this happen? In China.

Olympic stamps.
 
In another article on the Beeb’s website, I learn that a set of Olympic stamps is being issued jointly by the Royal Mail and China post. I might see if I can get a set since I missed any chance of getting the Olympic ¥10 note. They’re on sale from today.

There’s something else Vista doesn’t want to do

So much for PnP.
 
As an experiment, I thought I’d try connecting the TV to the new laptop. I could see an image on screen while the laptop was booting up, but then, for some reason, nothing. I got the telly’s usual message about the signal not being detected. Don’t know whether the laptop was being stupid or the TV. There must’ve been some degree of communication if images were appearing on the TV screen while the laptop was winding its little spring up.
 
I also thought I’d try using Acrobat to make a pdf document from a copy of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho from a text file, but Acrobat 8.1 kept freezing. I went online and found there was some patch for this problem, but it had no effect when I was trying to create a pdf document from this particular file. I’d have to guess it was a size thing because I tried smaller text files and had no issues with them.
 
And just to annoy me further, I find that having only recently upgraded to Acrobat 8.1, there’s now Acrobat 9.0.

Time in the Celtic Otherworld.
 
Why is time in the Celtic Otherworld so much slower than the mortal world? In many stories, mortals go there for a brief period of time, but when they return to their own plane, decades or centuries have passed. Perhaps some bard was wondering one day what it’d be like to be immortal and concluded that time in the mortal world would seem to fly by to such a person. The seasons would flash by in an endless cycle; humans would be born and die in the blink of an immortal eye.
 
I suppose that to a mortal in the Otherworld, time would still seem to pass at its usual pace, although perhaps visitors might sense it’s languid passage and perhaps get tired of the place because every day was much the same as every other. Immortals might have a greater toleration for such a languid pace.

Not that it’s any great loss.
 
According to an article in The Guardian, Nanny has had a hissy fit about iTunes because of some compilation called Songs for Τιβέτ, which was downloaded by "[m]ore than 40 athletes" at the Olympics.
 
I’m shrugging my shoulders indifferently at everyone in this case. Besides, I dislike having Apple try to foist iTunes on me every time there’s some Quick Time update. I’ll note again that Live Journal remains blocked; so does typepad (I tried A Welsh View a few days ago; no joy); and no doubt, a lot of other innocuous sites.
 
And if sites about Τιβέτ, Тиананмэн, and Тайwан have been unblocked over the past couple of weeks, who’s actually been visiting them from the imperium sericum? I doubt whether too many people here regard such sites as anything but anti-Chinese propaganda. (Fortunately, Nanny’s done all of the thinking for the people beforehand; all they have to do is repeat what she says.) Perhaps a few expats might check such sites out for a vicarious thrill but little else.

The Castle of Otranto

By Horace Walpole.

It’s a little hard to describe the plot of The Castle of Otranto succinctly because the story is told in such a way that no narrative thread is resolved before another interrupts it. Basically, Manfred, the Prince of Otranto, is trying to stave off the prophesied loss of his dominions, but no matter how hard he tries, Fate is ultimately against him. In the end, he accidentally kills his own daughter Matilda (his son Conrad having been crushed to death by a gigantic helmet on the second page), and it’s revealed that Theodore (who first appeared as a nameless peasant imprisoned under the helmet on Manfred’s orders) is the true heir to Otranto.

Manfred is desperate as the tyrant who is trying to evade his inevitable downfall. His wife, Hippolita, is painfully compliant. Their son, Conrad, is merely a mangled corpse, but being a sickly child, not the sort of heir that a ranting, fulminating despot might be proud of. Their daughter Matilda is your typical heroine of romance, although a tragic one since Manfred kills her. Isabella is more independent-minded than Matilda, being quite ready to flee from Manfred and then boss everyone around in the final chapter when someone needs to take charge after her friend’s death. Her father, Frederic, is easily gulled by Manfred when Matilda is dangled as bait before him. Theodore starts off as an anonymous peasant, although it takes the audience less than a moment to realise that he’s a player. Eventually, we learn that he’s the son of Father Jerome who was, formerly, the Count of Falconara and married to the daughter of Alfonso the Good. The cast is rounded out by Matilda’s garrulous and bubble-brained servant, Bianca.

If Walpole had been alive today, he’d be a writer for film or TV with a special talent for writing material where what’d take moments in reality gets annoyingly drawn out under the specious excuse that delay makes the moment more suspenseful rather than more dull. As the preface of the edition (Penguin Classics, edited by Michael Gamer) that I read noted, the story has a stage-y feel to it. You can imagine it as some farcical 18th century play with everyone constantly bursting in and leaving the audience wondering if anything was going to be resolved. (In fact, it was turned into a successful stage play called The Count of Narbonne.)

Ironically, Walpole, it could be said, is not only the progenitor of the Gothic genre, but has already produced it’s first parody. It’s the sort of genre which you can either write with a straight face (knowing that it’s very silly) or write with a smirk (again, knowing that it’s very silly). And The Castle of Otranto does have much silliness. Perhaps it’s just a little too much like the novel of the play.

I wonder whether The Castle of Otranto with its setting and supernatural apparatus was truly a new departure, or whether it was a revival of the sort material which you can find in Shakespeare’s plays packaged in a new format. The story was eventually to lead to the flowering of the Gothic genre at the end of the 18th century, but that may have been as much to do with the character of the age as it was to do with The Castle of Otranto itself.

Huanglong Xi

Out of the pages of history.
 
hlx001I took an overnight trip to the village of Huanglong Xi (黄龙溪), which is an old-style village about an hour south of Chengdu. Perhaps the layout is ancient, but I doubt whether a building in the place is more than ten years old. The shops are either restaurant, souvenir shops, or clothing shops. There is a branch of the Hongqi Supermarket, but that seems to have been the exception to the general rule.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I took a trip up the river to a nearby monastery which looks a bit dilapidated. The site is a bit bigger than it first seems, and you have to go round behind the first hall to get to the rest of it. There’s a large seated Buddha up there along with the usual halls. It’s a working monastery with people coming to pray at the various shrines.
 
hlx002
hlx003
 
Outside, there’s a line of amusements for children, which mostly consist of shooting galleries where you could take pot shots at close range at balloons. There’s also a thousand year old tree near the monastery, but that seems to be some sort of local scam. It’s possible that the "tree" might’ve been based on a real tree, but this thing looked more like something vaguely and deliberately shaped like a dragon. There were plants growing on it, but from what I could see, it wasn’t growing itself because it didn’t appear to be embedded in the ground. You can compare the thousand year old tree of dubious authenticity with the 800 year old tree in the village.

 A thousand years old? Don't think so. An 800 year old tree in Huanglong Xi

hlx004Quite by chance, I was in Huanglong Xi on the night of the Chengdu Beer Festival, although that seemed to be a concert sponsored by the brewers of Snow Beer. I had been hoping that the festival might be a little more wide ranging.
 
The village was also extremely and uncomfortably humid. Chengdu might seem bad enough, but Huanglong Xi was much worse, and even with the air con on, it was difficult sleeping last night. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local mosquitoes decided that there wasn’t much point in going out for a Chinese when foreign food was available.
 
 

More of those Hollywood blockbusters

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

The Mummy was a decent silly film; The Mummy Returns was a silly film; but having run out of Egyptian mummies, they decided to go for a Chinese mummy, reflecting how China’s importance is increasing in the world. [Surely shome mishtake. –ed.]

“The Mummy will become invincible or immortal or something if he bathes in the pools of Shangri-la.” (You just know he’ll bathe in the pool.)
“Yeah, but this dagger will kill him.” (It’s rather small, but a bit pointy.)
“So he’s not invincible.”
“No. But he’s pretty tough. 375hp, a bunch of spells, and probably a sword +5.”
“Is that 3.5 or 4.0 rules?”
“Just watch the film.”

There was precious little fun in this one. Maria Bello was a poor substitute for Rachel Weisz, but at least some of the duff dialogue of the second film wouldn’t have sounded so anachronistic coming out of the mouth of Alex who had turned into a twenty-eight year old American. (“Damn it, man, you know the rules,” said the studio exec banging his pen angrily on the table. “Americans are action heroes and Brits are effete, back-stabbing shirt-lifters.”)

One of the problems, I think, was that unlike the first two films where the hero and the villain engaged in a little verbal sparring now and then or their actions and relationships paralleled each other, there wasn’t anything like that this. In the first two films, the Mummy had some snivelling lackey as comic relief, but no Chinese warlord was probably ever known for his wacky comedy routines or sense of humour.

“So, anyone here from out of town? Where are you from? Hunan? Have him executed at once!”


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I thought this one started well enough with the geriatric Indy strutting his stuff and getting involved in the usual sort of OTT hijinks. But then you get the obvious revelation that the unnecessary and unwelcome Mutt is (obviously) Indy’s son.

And as for the end, who was the complete f_cking idiot who came up with that one? Each film in the Indiana Jones series has always had some mystical element in it, always absolutely ridiculous but fitting nicely with the tenor. Although the audience already knew that the crystal skulls were of extra-terrestrial origin, it didn’t stop the spaceship at the end of the film from jarring. It was as if the finale from some other film had escaped and got itself spliced on to this one.

I think we’ve done with this franchise.