TV Clips from the Season Six of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer -- it's strange seeing all those faces one year older. Spoiler zone, as you would expect .... [via Girl Hacker's Random Log]
People The Oracle is no more. Gloria Foster, whose performance made 'The Matrix' has died at the age of 64. She had a destinguished career throughout television and film. This is a jinxed movie series.
Music Nadya Labi of Time magazine writes that the Taliban are hot headed because of their attitude to music, which is almost totally banned throughout Afganistan as a mortal sin. Some pop music can be heard, but only via pirated tapes and never when the authorities are around. "It insists that there is a hadith (a record of the Prophet's sayings) warning people not to listen to music lest molten lead be poured into their ears on Judgment Day." Personally, I'd take that chance. "Until then, the Taliban police are wreaking their own violence—against musical instruments and anyone who dares enjoy their use." Good to see the cliches of all major anti-freedom regimes are being upheld. They'll be burning books next...
Blog! The Ultimate Insult is Zen in its simplicity. Drop off a link, get out. For once, here is someone who just wants to entertain.
Photography Life magazine offers classics from their archive, proving there is often more sense in the still black and white photo than in an entire television news programme. The first picture is the much parodied yet still affecting shot of a sailor kissing his sweetheart in the centre of a city.
Real Life Interviews 50 Cents is the work of Alex Chadwick, who sets up a card table in a place and asks every day Americans about their lives. Brings perspective to celebrity chatshows, which always strike me as bringing human truths about a very small group of the total population. When was the last time you really heard a pop star say something constructive of 'David Letterman' or 'This Morning'?
Film The Fast and the Furious is as you would expect, a showcase for stunt driving, with added flash and flesh. It's actually very good, for it's type. The cast, especially Van Diesal and Jordana Brewster have a plenty of charisma and the action sequences are very well mounted. Yes, you leave the cinema with a slightly empty feeling but this is a criticism of the genre not this particular movie. And anyone considering the lifestyle will no doubt be living it anyway by now. 'Point Break' with cars. ***
feeling listless classics For anyone who missed it ... my Dublin story.
Fine Art 'Up to' $100m art lost in attacks The hyperthetical debate about which is more important, the only surviving copy of Shakespeare and a human life has happened now -- and they cancelled each other out, because neither could be saved.
TV Off The Telly begins a series of articles about Youth TV with a look at the BBC2 strand, DEF II, which spawned the classic 'Rough Guide To...' travel programmes. Glancing through this article it becomes clear actually how much of modern television grew from here: "Jane Hewland (one of the producers) always insisted: “A youth programme has to be hated to work. So if the press are slagging you off, well that’s absolutely terrific.” But the mixed press response entertained some pertinent criticisms: poor management, an absence of imagination, and a preponderance of hyperbole." Yes, but they did have Degrassi Junior High for a while ...
Blog! Did you know there is an Italian Metafilter, Veramanent? Trying to cross the cultural divide, I became a member and posted. It's about a girl who's parents are suing her school because she received low grades in Latin. I made the point that in my school you could choose to do woodwork instead. My Italian is, well, non-existent so I used the translator at Alta Vista, assuming what I was posting was garbage, but hoping that it made at least some kind of sense. Sure enough the only follow up smelt my rat and called me. A quick filter of FraSta's post through the Babel Fish produces: "Pardon me Sir?... but you six autotradotto with Altavista? "avrebbe had the choice... " would be: she' d better off as to carpenter? Sin, because on yours blog inexhaustible and esilarante source is one
- very british, anyway - of all." Which probably means something like "Excuse me? Did you use Alta Vista? Are you saying she'd be better of as a Carpenter? That's a very British source. Oh and some comments about your weblog." Good to see that this particular Babel Fish is in no danger of proving the non-existence of God any time soon...
History From: Diary. 22 May 1994. "It's happened to everyone. You're sitting on a train (I'm returning to University - but I don't think that matters), opposite someone who you would love to be friends with. And you find yourself thinking up how to break the ice -- the questions you want to ask. What is your name? Where are you from? Are you a student to? If so, what course are you doing?

This unwritten questionaire spins through your mind, as find yourself desparately trying not to stare, but finding yourself transfixed. Your eyes begin to trace them, like a pencil. The way they sit -- what they're wearing -- you take a photograph and place it on the walls of your memory.

Out of the window, the scenery glides past. Should you comment? After all, it is beautiful. What is it about them in particular, that draws you in so? Is it the unknowning? The Mystery? That you find yourself imagining what they are like -- how they talk, their personality, their life?

You feel inadequate -- in another place and time you feel like could chat to them -- become friends. But it is as though, here and now, sitting on this train, thinking these thoughts, that the table upon which your coke cans clang together, is a barrier between a possibility and a fleeting thought.
Blog! I've always wanted to visit Coventry, but never found the time. Luckily, I now have Louise's World to follow each day, at least to give me a flavour. She's just become a student nurse at the local University and this in the minutae of her life. It'll be interesting to read over the next few months as she copes with student life. Good luck, Louise!

PS I actually came home yesterday to find Happy (one of Snow White's dwarfs) standing in our hallway ... someone had brought it home from work as a joke ... there is something deeply sinister about those eyes ...
Fatigue Finished watching 'The Simpsons'. Learnt that I still don't love the show. More joy in the one episode of 'Buffy' tonight than all the thirteen episodes in that box-set ... am I missing something?
Verse It's National Poetry Day in the UK. I've done my bit by posting a thread at Metafilter for people to drop off their favourite poem (assuming it's not deleted). Drop in there and offer your support.
TV The Trincoll Journal looks at the state of the US sitcom and 'Friends' comes out on top: "Friends, the standard Thursday night fare (NBC, 8 pm), is one of the older sitcoms that still has bite. The characters that you know and love are merely more so, and it doesn't recycle tired plot lines and jokes."
Blog! Moby [via Amelia]
Fatigue I hired out The Simpsons Season One DVD Boxset on overnight rental, a bargain at £2. Except it's a logistical nightmare and I fear I won't finish watching them. I once sat with a friend and watched 'Friends' for nine hours. I've watched twelve episodes of Star Trek in a row before. This seems to be taking much longer and this is only thirteen twenty minute episodes -- the show wasn't that funny back then ... by now I've stopped watching the episodes first and now I'm just listening to the commentaries, which, being Season One are actually a bit more entertaining...
Blog! I thought Amelia was quite a rare name until I discovered the zootgirl. OK -- so including the new film and this blogger, that makes two. Today's post reminds me of working at the college library all those years ago and watching my fellow students leave their belongings at their desk whilst they go off and photocopy and take a break before returning and creating merry hell because their wallet had been pinched. You really can't trust anyone -- although I know I should take more care myself when I pop to the loo on trains. The design of this site is particularly good with a post per day -- which is tidier than this thing at least.
Film Yes, it's A.I. again. It seems Foocha! didn't like the film much either, in their spoiler filled review: "(The third act features) the most nauseating, arse-squirming shite you are ever likely to see at your nearest multiplex." Looking over my review from yesterday, I may have been a bit harsh. After all, the performance are generally very good, especially Francis O'Conner as the boy's surrogate mother, who like Laura Fraser should be a star already. And as I said the opening act is great. The final act is also quite lovely, although the boy's realisation that he isn't unique was foreshadowed and done much more touchingly in Toy Story 2. There must have been something in there to make me cry. But it's the heavy handed voice over. And it's the middle act. That bloody middle act. Ok -- I'm turning into that drunk in the bar who can't stop talking about the war...I'll stop it.
Architecture The Mayor of New York, almost immediately promised the re-building of their great city. The article, Rebuilding in New York ruminates on what that might mean, and in perticular how the space the World Trade Center used to occupy should be used. The knee-jerk reaction of re-building seems impractical -- after all, who would want to work there. A permanent memorial garden seems to be route, although a plan from a couple fo artists offers a pause. Sending shafts of light into the sky, creating in effect the ghost of the towers, a light source for each of the souls lost. [from Architecture Week]
Me I'm still working on a biography page (and still deciding whether it would be such a good idea). To tide everyone over here is a revealing quiz about me to get your teeth into. As someone once said of me: "You take pride in not being what people expect..." May take some time to load... [via Chris Jones, who despite being my best friend only got 50% -- which is what I probably deserved having only got 50% about him. Probably proves how little guys actually talk to each other about 'stuff'. And no, he doesn't have a weblog.]
People Sidekick magazine looks at culture through the eyes of the actor standing just to the side of the star of the film. This month we have a profile Jeremy Previn, that guy who was in thingy with John Cusack ('Grosse Point Blank' amongst others): "Jeremy Piven seems like such a nice guy. He's my first choice for "person in Hollywood I'd most like to have at my next party," since his on-screen persona is not only sweet, but pretty darn funny. Like most great supporting actors, Jeremy has a way of injecting sub-par material with actual bright spots, and often steals the show. The few times he's acted in a lead role, he's shown that he's quite capable of carrying the show as well." Supporting players are real people too...
Blog! Off On A Tangent is another of the more journalistic weblogs. It's tagline is something I'm sure we can all aspire to: "Cold Beer, Hot Girls, Fresh Links" Magic!
Music There are now two things to love about Late Review's writer and poet Tom Paulin. The first as always his use of the word tedious to denote anything he doesn't like. The second, is that there is now a band named after him. As with 'The Alice Band' last week (which as I predicted failed to chart) their new EP is bound to do little business (although the Virgin Megastore had hundreds). Which is a shame, because it might have been worth tuning into the Top 40 to hear the resident Dweeb-J say 'and crashing in a number twenty-seven this week Tom Paulin with'. If only it really was Tom ... now that would be something ...
Politics Even though I've been a Poll Clerk for the all of the elections since the 1997 Labour lanslide, I've never not stayed up until the last results are in. But even I went to bed for this one.
Starstruck I went to school with a minor celebrity, Mitch Benn, stand-up comic (recently to be hard on 'The Now Show' on Radio Four). I've seen his live show a few times and have his CD (best song: 'Crap Shag'). Imagine my surprise as he strolled towards me in Manchester City Centre today.
I raised my hand in a wave.
'Mitch Benn!' I shouted.
He stopped for a moment, startled.
'Yes!?!' He said.
And it dawns on me that even though we chatted a few times at gigs at this moment he doesn't know me from adam. In fact judging by his slightly freaked expression he thinks I'm about to attack him. So I smile and continue walking, safe in the knowlege that at least he got thrity seconds of material for whatever show he's playing tonight. Of course next time I see him, the conversation will go something like ... 'Remember when I met you in Manchester....'
Nature The Anchorage Daily News reports how a bear opened a hunter's truck like a tin-can looking for food: "Geier said he didn't have any problems with a local insurance adjuster, but the agent in Cincinnati wasn't as easily swayed. "He asked me the address, and I told him in the woods," Geier said. "Then he asked, Where was the nearest parking lot.' He just didn't have a clue." "
Film I cried at the end of A.I.. Long time readers will know this is nothing new, that I’ll cry at almost anything. And I’m not sure why this story in particular provoked me. I was sure of one thing afterwards, however. That if the combined efforts of Kubrick and Spielberg, a twenty-year gestation period and all of the special effects technology available today couldn’t get this right, I was witnessing the end of cinema.

This is film production as memorial, the celluloid equivalent of Paul McCartney taking a break mid-set, looking out into the crowd, grunting ‘Here’s one from an old mate who’s sadly not with us,’ and bursting into ‘Imagine’ only changing the words to take in his view of the world. Lennon would roll in his grave, and it’s hard to think Kubrick didn’t walk out of the celestial multiplex before the end credits of this farrago.

Its first mistake is being unable to decide who the story is about. The film begins with a mother who’s lost her child and suddenly gifted a replacement who’ll never grow old and give her unconditional love, and the implications of that. This section, is great, beautiful to look at, emotionally charged and yet tender. Enough here for a domestic, yes, but arresting piece of cinema. Then, the mother eventually makes the only choice she is can make and we care for her. But as soon as she closes her car door after abandoning the kid, it’s as though the story has been handed over to someone else to finish and they’ve no idea how it began. We want to know how the mother coped with the choice she had to make, how her marriage is. How it’s affected her relationship with her real son….

…but instead we are suddenly in the centre of the city from Blade Runner following a plastic pal whose fun to be with out on the job as a sex-bot – until he bumps into the lad. So we think that in this section it will be how another ‘Mecca’ relates to the boy and how he reflects back upon him. But the relationship is hardly developed at all – it’s the boy’s reaction to his own kind not the other way around, which makes the new character somewhat superfluous – we don’t learn anything new about either. We find out a lot about the world, but it’s pointless and unfocused and in too many ways exploitative.

And it’s only in the next section that we find ourselves in the place we should have been in the first moments of the film – following the boy’s story completely. We should have been there when he opened his eyes. When he was first picked up by his surrogate father. We should have seen his mother the way he sees her. It may have meant in these last moments when he comes to terms with his own lack of mortality (and in terms of story this is as far as I’m prepared to go) and the film finally gets back of track, we would have cared naturally, and not through an emotional manipulation as nasty as that imprinted in the fictional boy.

I’m being harsh? I’m not sure that I am. This is Steven Spielberg. The ET guy. He made Jaws. Schindler’s List. He’s seen as many films as we have and must know that entertainment and intelligence can go hand in hand. And here we have an amalgamation of hoary old sci-fi clich├ęs, hacked together bits of other films and an inability to see a direct line through a story. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ proved that classic films can happen by chance – you can’t just set out to create them in a factory. Shame on you.