To earn a good reputation

Depends on a good education

We need to teach others how we tick

By using every known little trick

To express ourselves in a way

So that nobody else can say

We are not being who we are

By pretending we’re not on a par

So here ends my demonstration

Of how to earn a good reputation.

*Written for Zero To Hero: Day 16 and prompted by Daily Prompt 17/01/2014

The Eyes Have It – (Zero To Hero: Day 12)

It’s Day 12 of the Zero To Hero challenge and I’m linking back to two blogs I have left comments on. Both blogs are related to a topic that is close to my heart and both in their own way make the same link to their subject matter. The eyes of an Orang-utan. This has given me the inspiration to write this post.

On the blog Things You Should Care About I particularly related to what LM wrote in her post Inspiring Moments about a female orang-utan she had been watching who “not only acknowledged I was there, but stared right into my eyes as if she was reading me as much I was trying to read her.”

I’ve had an affinity for Orang-utans since the mid-1980’s when I was at school and given the task of doing a write-up on any animal of my choice. I remember having no idea which animal I would choose. My mind was completely blank. To find my inspiration I went flicking through a zoo guide book. Something had to be in there to inspire me. Page by page I worked my way through animal after animal. Many would be passed over with barely a second glance, but some would invoke thoughts ranging from possibly to maybe, to might be, to could be. I suppose I could quite easily have chosen Koala’s, or maybe Elephants, possibly Penguins, but then my eyes fell upon the Orang-utan. Straight away I was struck by the colour of their hair. Like me they were ginger – although I was, and still am, significantly less hairy – I was immediately on their side. But what sealed the deal was something even closer to me. At the time my father was living and working in Brunei on the island of Borneo. I rarely saw him as a result, so writing and thinking about the Orang-utans gave me a link to him. My connection to orang-utans had begun.

The first time I properly connected with an Orang-utan would be on a visit to Monkey World in Dorset, UK. It may have been the first visit, or possibly the second, I can’t recall but I do remember on one occasion standing near one of their enclosures when one of them came close to the fence. Close enough for me to look him* in the eye. More importantly for me, I was close enough for the Orang to look me in the eye. And that was the connection.

I had heard about ‘making a connection’ before but never truly understood it. Now I did. I have no way of knowing what he was thinking. Watching him he seemed calm, benign, at peace. I hoped he was thinking the same thing about me. I could easily have watched him and the rest of his friends for hours.

With the eyes being the key to that connection, I feel the picture Orang-utan on  Alan Jones Art has captured that idea beautifully and it conveys, to me at least, the feeling of the orang-utan looking into you.

It’s always been my dream to take my camera and to travel to Borneo and see these wonderful creatures in their own habitat before it’s too late. Whilst they still have a habitat to live in and before they are driven to extinction. It’s no use saying “to the edge of extinction” as they are already there. An unforgiveable plight caused by our own greed as a species. They are the casualties of a war that is not even being fought. I hope something can be done to save them.


*or her. Again I can’t recall. For ease and consistency I’m saying him.

Spielberg Revisited no1 – The War Of The Worlds (2005)

BEWARE: It you have not seen this film there are SPOILERS! ahead.

Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds is a 21st century re-telling of the classic novel by H.G. Wells, relocating the core of the story from Victorian England to present-day east coast U.S.A. On re-watching the film I realised I had forgotten how tense the film became and how quickly. We’ve barely got our bearings with regard to location and characters when events start taking a turn for the worse.

Morgan Freeman provides the opening narration and I’m sure I’m not alone in having to suppress thoughts of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the story as Freeman came to the end of the line “…slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.”

Those plans were to have vehicles already buried underground on Earth – presumably an extremely long time ago before either man existed or occupied quite so much of the planet, which actually begs the question as to why they didn’t take over the world then – ready for such a time where they can ride lightning into said vehicles and dominate the world. This is probably one of the films few weaknesses, but as it’s a major plot point setting up the rest of the story, it could be considered major one. However if you can see past this and accept the invasion is happening then the rest of film is more than worth it.

We have barely been introduced to Ray (Tom Cruise almost playing against type) , a dysfunctional divorcee and estranged from his kids Robbie (Justin Long) and Rachel (Dakota Fanning) when almost immediately they are thrust into the perils of an alien invasion. Dysfunctional families are nothing new for Spielberg, being a common theme throughout his career, but previously this theme has tended to sit in the background as part of the fabric of the story. Here it almost takes centre-stage as he explores the developing relationship between the three as they deal with the most extreme of situations.

From the initial escape from New Jersey all the way through the film, Spielberg lays on set-piece after set-piece, never letting up for a moment for well over an hour into the film. The moment the lightning strikes begin to occur he ratchets up the tension and doesn’t let go. From the fighting machine coming up from underground, to the plane crash (actually unseen) to the ferry sequence, to the army being wiped out (seemingly taking Robbie with it) it’s a roller-coaster ride almost akin to Temple Of Doom yet Spielberg eventually allows the film and the audience to draw breath when Ray and Rachel find themselves in the cellar of Ogilvy (played by Tim Robbins).

Just when you think you can begin to relax with what is the quietest sequence of the film, Spielberg gives us a master-class in movie making. After a brief exchange of dialogue between Ray and Ogilvy – where it becomes clear Ogilvy may not be the full shilling – the scene plays out almost silently as a martian probe searches the cellar and the three characters struggle to stay out of its way. But Spielberg then saves the best until last as just when you think you can begin to breathe again, a group of actual aliens descend into view and you can’t help but make an involuntary gasp as the tension begins anew. Then to top this off Ray has to do a father’s duty and kill Ogilvy to ensure both his and Rachel’s survival.

We then enter the final major set-piece of the film, via a rather dark and rather twisted nod to The Wizard Of Oz, as Ray and Rachel leave the house they’ve been staying in and discover the red weed. Not long afterwards they are then discovered by a martian machine which scoops them up and puts them into a basket hanging from the machine. This is the closest encounter with the aliens yet. Ray is sucked up into the machine but thanks to some conveniently found grenades, and help from other people trapped with him, he is able to destroy the machine from the inside and ensure the survival of both himself and Rachel.

From there we arrive at Boston and the beginning of the end for the martians as they fall prey to our smallest allies: bacteria. This seems to have been one of the key aspects of the film that has been latched onto as a weakness. Maybe it’s because it lacks the sort of big finale that many modern day blockbusters seem to aspire to. This is the polar opposite. In keeping with the book, it is abrupt and sudden, it comes out of nowhere and without warning. Yet, in the real world wars don’t tend to end with a big bang, but a whimper. The losing side simply does not have the resources to carry on and this is very much what we have here. The aliens succumb to the bacteria and cannot continue the fight. There is more a feeling of relief than euphoria.

The ultimate ending of the film – that of the family re-union – is probably the area of the film I personally thought was the weakest. The neighbourhood looks like it has been totally untroubled by the events of the previous two hours, yet various mentions are made through-out the film of other parts of the world being affected. But more than that, I always had a problem with the revelation that Robbie had survived. My feeling was that the ending would have been stronger had he not been there. Had he not been allowed to survive. I felt that a bittersweet ending would have been interesting following the abrupt end to the war. However on re-watching the film now and expecting to feel the same, I was surprised to find my opinion may have changed. I felt that Ray deserved that ending, he had not only saved his daughter but had also saved the relationship with his son.

I feel that this a forgotten 21st century Spielberg gem and as such would rate it 4/5.


Right About Now

Although I’ve been following Zero To Hero from the start, I’ve begun to fall behind with my blogs. As part of Day 8 we had to revamp our About pages. I was happy enough with mine that I thought it made a good post in its own right, so I’ve reproduced below:

“I’m an F1 loving, TV/Film liking, Orangutan supporting, Ford Focus driving, occasional photograph taking, Wolverhampton Wanderers fan.”

That sentence pretty much sums me up yet at the same time does not seem to say very much. Maybe the following will provide some illumination.

I am a former media student but have long since left that world behind professionally after only making the briefest of splashes in it. This blog is one of several ways I’m trying to flex my creative mojo again. It’s not for money or to prove a point, it’s merely to satisfy my own desire to express myself in my own time and my own way. I have nobody to please but myself. If somebody else likes what I’m writing, that’s a bonus!

When I was younger my original dream (or maybe fantasy?) was to write and direct films. Even now I can remember putting my eye at head height of my Star Wars toys envisioning how the scene I had constructed would look on a screen. At the same time I seemed to spend a lot of time writing – mostly, if not all, very short stories – something that as I got older seemed to take more and more of a back seat. I think mainly due to becoming increasingly self conscious.

As I continued my studies I found my goals subtly and almost imperceptibly changing. From a technical stand point I seemed to narrow in on editing as my key area of interest – and professionally only worked in what was effectively news/current affairs/documentary – whereas I pulled away from writing completely. Only once during my career, such as it was, did I pull on whatever writing skills I had. But there has always been something inside me that has wanted to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and tell stories, both real and fictional. This blog – and also my F1 blog  – is a way for me to do this.

The Circle Is Now Complete


If, like me, you love all things “Making Of”, then J. W. Rinzlers “The Making Of Return Of The Jedi” is for you.

And when I say “Making Of” I mean true “Making Of” books that tell everything about a films production warts and all, rather than just pure promotional guff that tells you how great everyone was. It’s the honesty of the people featured in the book (and it features A LOT of people) that makes this a truly engrossing read. For example, even during pre-production some members of the crew weren’t sold on the Ewoks; during the writing stage the co-screenwriter didn’t totally believe the story he was telling; through to a key person in the sound department who admitted he had burnt out on Star Wars.

Like it’s predecessors it’s a big book, but is lavishly illustrated with many unseen images from the Lucasfilm archives. It also reproduces sections of previous drafts of the script giving the reader a glimpse at how the story transformed over time in the journey from page to screen. For example we find out how Leia became “the other” that was first mentioned in The Empire Strikes Back in order to resolve one of many dangling plot threads.

Reading through this book you begin to get a sense of just how big an undertaking the making of the movie was whilst getting a feeling for just why the film may seem slightly less than the sum of its parts. All in all it rounds off the “Making Of” trilogy in much the same way as the film it covers. It picks up all threads from the previous two films and brings them together to create a rousing conclusion.

The Blog Of Something

Today it’s day 3 of Zero To Hero and following the lead of today’s task I’m revisiting a draft I originally wrote back in May 2013 at a time when finding something to say seemed to be increasingly difficult. As it stood it was only three paragraphs long and incomplete. Of those three paragraphs only the 2nd can be re-used in this blog without drawing attention to itself. The third paragraph is frankly un-usable but the first is maybe worth quoting to give an idea of my mindset back then and maybe to provide illumination as to why I’m participating in Zero To Hero this year in an effort to blog more regularly.

“ Yes, its been a while but thought I’d add another entry on my seemingly long neglected blog. Mainly this has been prompted by repeatedly seeing the blog address in my twitter profile. I’m advertising it to all and sundry so I ought to do something with it, right?” – Me 30/05/2013

Of course the biggest problem is feeling like I don’t have anything to say. This is, of course, ridiculous. We all have something to say, it’s just I never seem to have anything to say when I’m sat staring at my computer screen wanting to have something to say. Guaranteed, as sure as eggs-is-eggs, that when I’m out and about nowhere near a computer and with only my smartphone for company a million and one ideas in the wittiest, off the cuff, stream of consciousness prose will trip off my internal, unheard tongue in my brain.* Only to then be totally forgotten by the time I get home and leaving me, yet again, with ‘nothing to say’.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a blog for years and as an F1 fan I’d always had a title in mind. It wasn’t until last year though that I took the step to bring this blog into reality. However after 2 published entries and an unfinished 3rd I wasn’t satisfied with what mainly seemed to be summarizing the action as it evolved on screen. Thinking that other writers can do that better and that it really is nothing other than recapping what most hard-core fans would have seen anyway – I became disillusioned with the blog and decided to re-invent it. That was when Ginger Haired Ape** was born.

Nothing is ever that simple though and again my blog ended up being neglected. I even previously blogged about this problem (see The Blog Of Nothing) and still I couldn’t come up with a focus for it. The turning point was probably late last year when I decided it was the perfect place to express my feelings about the new Hobbit film The Desolation Of Smaug without having to split it over multiple tweets whilst simultaneously committing several crimes against grammar to do so. I suddenly began to realise that I spend most of my time either in the company of film (and related ephemera), books and music. Why not use the blog to comment on these things? Old films or new books, it wouldn’t matter but surely there must be other like-minded people out there who would be interested in someone else’s opinions or recommendations.

This is where Zero To Hero came in. I thought this was the perfect way to help make both myself and the blog more focussed as well as give me the impetus I needed to develop it further. In fact it’s given me such an impetus that my F1 blog has even made a lazarus-like return from the dead. Called F1 – View From The Armchair (the title I’ve had in mind for years), it dawned on me that the direction I needed to take was very much being suggested by its name. For more on that, I’ll probably add an entry to that blog and may even follow Zero To Hero for it too.

Until next time…..


*This is a very long sentence which is probably grammatically iffy at best but I can’t come up with anything better so I’m letting it slide.

**Was going to explain why I chose the title Ginger Haired Ape – it’s a relatively simple story – but may come in useful for a future blog entry.

Just Monkeying Around

Here we are for the first day of a new year for this blog and thanks to Zero to Hero I’m aiming to make it more focussed and more regular than ever.

This is now my third attempt at launching this blog but this time it has dawned on me that a lot of my spare time is spent either listening to music, watching films/tv or reading books (and not all of them new either) so why not use that as subject matter. As a former student of Media you would have thought that would have been an obvious idea to come to. Apparently not!

In terms of design, the camels’ days are numbered. Not that I’ve got anything against camels. I think they’re marvellous creatures. But with a blog title of Ginger Haired Ape, it should be an Orang-utan. Which is okay as I particularly like orang-utans. However this orang needs to be using a typewriter and I’m not sure how readily available copyright free images of ginger apes typing are. Photoshop is kind of my friend though so I’ll have to see if I can cook something up myself.

Until next time…….

The Road Goes Ever On……..The Desolation of Smaug – An opinion.

Saw The Desolation of Smaug yesterday and while I enjoyed it, and enjoyed being in Middle Earth again, it was not perfect.

If you’re not a fan of The Lord Of The Rings then this won’t change your mind. If you are a fan, then it will tick many boxes and indeed when it gets it right its very good, but as mentioned above it does have it’s short comings.

Like the first film it felt padded and drawn out. It didn’t seem to kick into gear until the encounter with the spiders and the encounter with Smaug himself felt much longer than it needed to be. Several times through-out the film I felt like I was waiting for the movie to move onto the next scene before the film itself was ready to.

I found it telling that one of the coolest moments in the film was also one of the most brief and subtle, i.e. Peter Jacksons cameo.

The fact is The Hobbit is not Lord Of The Rings and this film only serves to remind us of that. This jaunt through Middle-Earth just isn’t as impressive as the previous one, despite the film-makers best efforts.

However, would I buy the inevitable extended edition next year? Probably, as I did find the extended version of An Unexpected Journey seemed to play a lot better than it’s cinematic counter-part.

Couldn’t really comment on differences between book and film as I haven’t read it (but do have it!). Having said that I am curious about how much of the book is left based on where the film ended and how long the next one is likely to be.

Nothing to see here! (aka The Blog Of Nothing)

Is it possible to be passionate about blogging without actually doing it?

When I’m nowhere near this thing, all manner of great ideas flood through my brain like an almighty, unstoppable stream of consciousness. Yet when I decide to actually put thought to keyboard….nothing.

My interests are many and varied but I seem to lack enough focus to either concentrate on one subject entirely or to concentrate on several and make the movement from one area to another seem natural and seamless. (Blimey, that’s a long sentence! Read it back twice and it seems to work though).

Even in the process of this very entry I have almost come to a crashing halt. I’ve got no idea where I’m heading or where I want to end up and yet still I plough on with no sense of what awaits me. A bit like life I suppose. And in that sense I carry on with the belief that sooner or later things will start to come into focus and more definitive action can be made and……..oh, dammit, lost my train of thought again. Until next time – whenever that may be – JW

Edit: only noticed after publishing this entry that its a year to the day since my last entry.

Here we go again…..(or aka Facebook v Twitter v Google+)

After four months I’ve finally returned to this blog. After starting out with the idea of being a totally F1 based blog, I’ve decided to widen it’s scope and allow myself to write about a wide range of subjects as divers as: f1, football, photography, books, television, films, orangutans and anything else that comes to mind.

To start with I thought I would revisit something I originally posted on Google+ last year comparing the merits of Facebook v Twitter v Google+. At the time I was totally new to Google+, had not long been with Twitter but was a long term user of Facebook. A year on, I probably spend more time on Twitter than Facebook and I have more or less abandoned Google+ completely.

So, from 25th August 2011 here is Facebook v Twitter v Google+ :

“So I’ve now had several weeks running Twitter, Facebook and Google+ together. Several weeks of trying work to out which ones best, which ones the future and which one doesn’t leave me staring at the screen trying to workout what I want to do and how I’m going to do it. Now I think I’m finally beginning to draw some conclusions. For me anyway, maybe not anyone else.

The modus operandi of Google+ has seemed to me to have been that this is the next big thing, that this is the thing that is going to revolutionise social media. Only – and I know this is still extremely early days – I don’t think it will. At best I think it may evolutionise social media,in that I feel most likely it will drag Facebook and Twitter along with it rather than kill them off. Now this may not have been Googles plan, but this must only be a good thing. After all, competition is good. It motivates everyone to improve their product, to provide flair and originality which is unique to themselves, to give people a reason to go on using them. It’s these unique aspects which have been swirling round in my mind and brought me to realise that there is no great winner in the social media smackdown. There may be in years to come, although but what definition and whose terms, who knows.

For me it’s beginning to pan out like this, maybe for other people too, but Facebook is very much about my family and friends. It’s a way to keep in touch, to still feel like we are all in each others lives even if geographically we are separated by several miles or even several continents. We don’t have to enter any big conversation, but we can leave a short comment there or a quick “like” there just to let our nearest and dearest know we are thinking of them, that we are still here and still care.

Twitter on the other hand isn’t really about my friends and family at all. Of the 26 people who follow me – yeah I know, not a lot – only 3 of them are family or friends. These same three people are the only family and friends I follow out of 92. Twitter for me is really about communicating to other like minded individuals around the world, people who have the same interests and likes as me but who I’ve never met and probably never will. Yes, there is also the “interaction” with famous people but that is only if you’re lucky enough to get a reply. In my case, I have no idea how many Tweets I’ve sent to famous people, but I can tell you how many replies I’ve received. One. And technically that was actually a DM which I didn’t even know I had until three days later. Slightly more frivolously, beyond just communication, Twitter’s also gotten me stuff that neither Facebook or Google+ have. It may not be much but so far I’ve won a couple of competitions and also managed to acquire an invitation to the final item on my agenda….. Google+.

From the start it has come across as the lovechild of Facebook and Twitter. Seemingly taking the best and most useful functionality of those two, putting them together and making something new. Only at first I wasn’t entirely sure what that new thing was. After all I was keeping in touch with family and friends on Facebook. Up until a few days ago I had no family and friends on Google+. Now I have just 1. So Google+ was going to be no help to me there. On Twitter I am able to comment on different subjects that interest me, often as they happen and sometimes directly with other people. I am able to follow comments from people involved in those events, be it in sports, news or publications. So far on Google+ there seems to be very little presence in that way. However, what does seem to be possible on Google+ is to use it as a platform for the sharing of ideas with many different people. It provides the ability to express thoughts that you just cannot manage to do in 140 characters on Twitter and that may not necessarily be of interest to your family and friends on Facebook. Here you can express your thoughts and ideas with the knowledge that there is a good chance there is someone out there who is interested.

So for now it looks like there is a big three-way socialmedia tie. Google+ isn’t ‘instead of’ or ‘better than’, it’s ‘as well as’. “