I do not have Cancer.

Life After my initial diagnosis of Oral Lichen Planus (visit here for the full horrors) (or not), when it was noted that it could lead to cancer with a one in a thousand chance over ten years, I would be lying if I didn't admit to fixating on that somewhat. More than the fact my tongue has a white streak down the middle or that sometimes it tingles.  However minimal the chances, it's sat at the back of my mind that perhaps, on top of the anxiety and everything else, I'd end up having to deal with yet another huge thing. Not that my immune system mounting an attack against cells of the oral mucous membranes isn't something which won't effect my lifestyle for years to come.

Today was results day and after navigating a minor panic in the waiting room, the assigned dental consultant, who it transpired I went to school with, just like my doctor and the pharmacist I go to, was quick to reveal that my recent biopsy had simply confirmed the initial diagnosis.  He did explain diplomatically that there was the potential for "abnormal cells" to develop in the future but that nothing was evident right now.  He prescribed a phosphate based mouth wash for occasions when my mouth was feeling irregular.  Then after some chit chat about who we remembered from school, which was, as he said, thirty odd years ago, I returned to the wild.

But I still felt discombobulated for much of the rest of the afternoon.  Fortunately I wasn't working, just food shopping.  When you've lived with a thought, however minor, for a while, it takes time to psychologically adjust to the new information.  I'm fine, it's fine.  My body's at war with itself and I'll probably be having appointments on a six monthly basis to check for developments over the least a few years if not longer, but I'm back to the baseline anxiety, the constant background thrum, rather than the expectation that my quality of life is going to be severely limited, at least more than it is now.  Apart from anything else, I'm blogging again and personal blogging at that.  It's 2018 and everything old is new again.

Instant Crema.

Life Something I often mention when describing my anxiety disorder is how I can't drink grapefruit juice, alcohol or caffeine. With grapefruit, it's because it decreases the ability of the gut to process sertraline (or zoloft if you're in the US) my drug of prescription. Alcohol increases the side effects of the drug, such as drowsiness, dizziness and co-ordination problems (some of which I already suffer from). Caffeine's side effects include irregular heartbeat, chronic insomnia, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, fatigue and facial discoloration if too much is taken.  Essentially, you feel like the anxiety increases ten fold.

Caffeine is the worst omission.  Caffeine used to be my pick me up, just as it is for everyone but even before I began the tablets I realised that it was increasing the anxiety symptoms, so I stopped.  Every now and then I'd experiment with drinking some in moderation, even since I've been taking sertraline, and it never goes well, especially the withdrawal symptoms after I've realised it's not doing me any good.  There have been many half jars or bags of coffee which have gone uncompleted, sat in the cupboard on the expectation that I'll be able to go back there again only for them to be disposed of when I finally realise that there's no hope.

Which leaves me with extremely limited options in terms of liquid refreshment.  Soft drinks and fruit juices in general are tricky - too much sugar and a sugar rush can - you guess it ...  So I'm stuck with coarse tasting sugar-free options.  I'll buy a pack of caffeine-free diet coke now and it's fine, but it doesn't taste like coke  One of the most realistic elements of the Channel 4 drama National Treasure is that the protagonist's broken daughter, played Andrea Riseborough indicates that with all the drugs she's taking for her depression and anxiety, she has to "pretty much stick with water" (I'm paraphrasing).  That's an element which is often poorly illustrated in drama.

Which leaves me persevering with decaffeinated teas and coffees.  In my heart of hearts I know they're a sham.  The whole point of caffeine is the lift, the pick me up, but these substances provide neither.  At best they're a different taste in the mouth, but all the while I have to try and block out the knowledge that really they're just hot, brown water in varying degrees of bitterness.  The tea can still be refreshing.  But the coffee is usually a disappointing exercise with all the pleasure of watching a panned and scanned VHS release of the Star Wars "special" editions, the image not just having been chopped off on both sides but visually mutilated.  I mean, yes, it's Star Wars but do you really need to see it like that?

Nevertheless, caffeine free options allow me to at least feel like I'm still part of that society, to visit a coffee shop and sit with other people, enjoy the atmosphere.  Except, and I'm burying the led here, through a series of choices by the coffee companies and shops, those of us who're stuck in this predicament are quietly being discriminated against in various ways.  I appreciate that it's politically dodgy to be throwing the D word around like this, since there are people who are being D worded against much more destructively and structurally within society, but nevertheless, if you're caffeine free, you find yourself being treated differently to other coffee consumers and it's all to do with economies of scale.

First niggle.  The surcharge.  Coffee shops don't sell as much caffeine-free coffee, and it costs more to make, so they'll slap on anywhere between ten or twenty pence onto the price of a cup.  The ground floor cafe at FACT in Liverpool did exactly this last time I was there and Caffe Nero do this too.  While I appreciate its effectively a different substance, if as a consumer you're drinking this sort of because you have to not because you have a choice, even though you do have a choice, you could not drink coffee but you see what I mean, its something else to add to the list of things my anxiety is doing to me or working against me.  Ten or twenty pence isn't a lot of money, but when people who don't have our, or my problems are charged less it's, well it's a bit disappointing.

But then there's the instant coffee problem, the companies who don't provide filtered decaff coffee and instead charge the same price for a watery cup of instant Kenco decaff, because it's always instant Kenco decaff in the little green sachets.  IKEA, Easy Coffee, Virgin Trains and as I discovered this past couple of days, Premier Inn do exactly this and it's galling not least because the Kenco decaff is awful, not just brown, bitter liquid but acid indigestion inducing too.  The argument against is that it would mean having to have another coffee machine filled with decaff beans but if that's the case, simply charge less for the instant coffee, half would be fine.  But don't go to the trouble of advertising the benefits of your caffeinated coffee if you're then going to push this garbage on the rest of us.

Quick sidebar on tea: that's just as rubbish, if not moreso because these companies and indeed almost everywhere else just simply don't have caffeine free black teas.  In most cases they provide a dozen fruit teas, usually Twinings, all of which ultimately taste the same once brewed.  Or Green Teas, which sertaline users are also asked to avoid because "the combination can increase the risk of bleeding".  I've now reached the stage were I simply carry my own tea bags around with me, sparked by attended the Liverpool Biennial press launch and finding no decaff options but hot water.  Which meant I was at least able to have a couple of cups of Earl Grey with my breakfast at the Premiere Inn in Manchester this morning.

But it's not as though there aren't alternatives.  Visiting HOME to see BlackKklansman this lunchtime, I ordered a small coffee and the cafe bar had a grinder on stand-by and produced a very tasty beverage for the same price as the usge.  Starbucks has a whole extra machine in every branch I've visited, even franchises, and again the price is the same and it tastes pretty good if you remember to ask them not to fill the cup to the top.  If it has to be instant, there are better options than Kenco.  I swear by Littles, which both smells and tastes like ground coffee and even has that unicorn of flavoured options.  I took a jar of the Chocolate Caramel with me to Manchester which was a lifesaver in my bedroom, where the tea and coffee making facilities were predictably limited.

If all of this sounds like a self indulgent wallow, which it is, the Mental Health Foundation says that in 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, a statistic which a bit old but pretty startling in a population of just six times that.  A fair percentage of those souls will be on sertraline and in the same predicament as me, not to mention those with other conditions and women in pregnancy, all of us getting the shit end of the stick when it comes to beverages.  I'm not sure what. if anything can be done about this, or indeed if its worth anyone's while trying to change minds.  Business decisions are business decisions, but its a craw sticker for those of us who're on the other end of those business decisions.

Nothing Scarier.

TV  Ever since I heard Jon Pertwee say, “There’s nothing more alarming than coming home and finding a Yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec ..." I've been curious about what it was about the place that made it seem the epitome of the ordinary British location in which the sight of a giant fury robot trying to push through a control sphere would seem out of the ordinary, the jarring mix of the fantastical and parochial.  No Yetis found, but I did buy a copy of Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World in a charity shop on Tooting High Street.

Tooting Bec itself is indeed deeply average with shopping streets leading off from an intersection where the tube station has been built, in the configuration just as described by Reyner Banham in his 1964 history of the commuter belt, A City Crowned With Green (which is on the iplayer here). One street which heads of towards "main" Tooting is populated with Asian shops, another is filled with hipster cafes and another leads to a giant Argos and Tesco Express.  In other words, Jon knew exactly what he was doing when he chose this place for his oft repeated phrase.

In case you're wondering, I did indeed go to the toilet in Tooting Bec.  I was bursting having held on since a preceding saunter around Clapham.  Obviously Jon was referring to someone's own toilet, an escapade I couldn't simulate, but I did find a welcoming pub.  Fortunately, the Great Intelligence was not hiding a minion in the stall.  But I did feel somewhat attacked because there wasn't any toilet paper once I'd completed my mission.  Fortunately I had some wet wipes with me, the real world equivalent of a sonic screwdriver, so I was OK.  On the way out, I discretely mentioned the lack of the paper at the bar.  What a hero.

"Oh my goodness!"

Life I was nearly knocked over this morning.

Close to work there's a box junction with a zebra crossing on each side. It was raining so I had my hood up, I was listening to Rachel Maddow's podcast and looking up the lights were red, the man was green so I began walking.

Not out of nowhere, because it never is, it's always from somewhere, I felt something graze my chest and an explanation, "Oh my goodness!"

Turning, I saw a cyclist racing forward down the road. He turned his head and gave me a dirty look before continuing his way.

The anxiety descended once I'd reached the other side of the road. Before then I might have shouted after him, "The lights were red, ." Before that I probably gave him the automatic British apology.

There's no doubt in my mind I was in the right.  He'd run the light, unlike the many cars stacked up at the junction.  The lights were red, the man was green.

Plus he wasn't wearing a helmet, or any kind of protection, just jeans and a pullover and with that velocity, in the reality were he did crash into me, a serious injury probably ensued.  Except in the reality where miraculously no injury occurred because there are infinite realities and every possibility imaginable.

In this reality, I'm sure that he was litigating all of this himself and the reasons I was in the wrong.  I didn't look left and right before I crossing, not paying attention to where I was walking, neither of which I deny not that either should have mattered given that he was the one who ran the red light.

But I did love that his key expression of surprise was "Oh my goodness!"  Having attempted quite unsuccessfully not to swear lately, he at least has my admiration for that.

By the time I reached work, my anxiety had mellowed again, which isn't to say I didn't relish telling the first work colleagues I saw about all of the above.

“I cannot tell you how ashamed I am”

About Yes. Indeed. You have me Clickhole:
“I cannot tell you how ashamed I am,” Tafferty wrote in the latest entry on his blog, The Tafferty Take, where he writes about a variety of subjects for an audience consisting of mostly friends and family. “People were counting on me to inform them about my favourite hiking trails in the area and how Liz is doing at her new job, and I let them down. There is no excuse for what I’ve done.”
As you will have noticed I've managed to post every day since Saturday.  I'll beat this yet [via].

Sunday Girl.

TV As you will have heard, Doctor Who is shifting to Sunday nights this year, beginning on the 7th October, in about a month. Let's talk about the Pros and Cons.


- Avoids the Strictly Come Dancing vortex of variable time slots as the dance contest contracts, five or ten minutes for each contestant who leaves in a given week, so Jodie's first year won't have to cope with being broadcast perilously close to the watershed as happened in Pete's opening season.

- People are more likely to be watching television on a Sunday night. Between Countryfile, the Antiques Roadshow and the 9pm drama slot, Sunday night has become a big ratings evening which also gives Doctor Who a much better chance of retaining the same weekly timeslot, 7pm with any luck, so people will know where to look.

- It's as brave a move as introducing Who to Saturdays back in 2005.  For a while that heralded other dramas in the same timeslot, Robin Hood and Merlin of a similar ilk, although it's been somewhat marooned since then.  Shifting to Sunday brings back an early evening drama timeslot which hasn't been in place for ages.


- Doctor Who has been Saturday night for so many years that it might be tricky for some people to adjust.  I mean apart from when it was mid-week during the Davison years when it actually received some of its highest ratings. Oh.

- We usually have a roast on a Sunday night.  No roasts for ten weeks if I want to keep with the transmission time.

- Having to write the reviews on a Sunday night.  My Sunday night reviews are almost always rubbish.

So really there isn't a downside to this.  Shrug.  Now can we please have a timeslot?

Things We Lost In The Fire.

Museums The Atlantic offers examples of the artifacts which will have been destroyed in the fire at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. It's heartbreaking:
"The museum also was home to an irreplaceable collection of pterosaurs—flying reptiles that soared over the dinosaurs’ heads. Brazil was something of a “heaven for pterosaurs,” and the discovery of spectacular creatures like Tapejara, Tupandactylus, and Tupuxuara, with their marvelously complete skeletons and improbably ornate crests, helped to reshape our understanding of these animals. “We may have lost dozens of the best preserved pterosaurs in the world,” said paleontologist Mark Witton. “There really is no collection comparable ... We find them elsewhere in the world, but the quality of the Brazilian material is remarkable.”"
The effect the destruction of this number of holotypes to research and history is incalculable.  What this underscores for me is how we much we still treat the museums of the world as independent bodies at the mercy of their own governments rather than as one entire global collection. 

If the Brazillian government were unwilling to fund the site properly it should have been the responsibility of other museums with larger pockets and philanthropists to carry out the necessary work in order to prevent this kind of tragedy.

The Such Stuff Podcast.

Shakespeare Shakespeare's Globe has launched a fortnightly podcast about his works and how they're tackling the plays with behind the scenes interviews around various themes. This isn't a side project - its being produced in conjunction with Globe Education and artistic director Michelle Terry is participating. Here's the first episode synopsis:
Episode 1: The Missing Women
In the first ever episode of Such Stuff we’ll be asking: why is it so important to reclaim the untold stories of women from history?

Emilia Bassano was a poet, writer, feminist and contemporary of Shakespeare, and until recently, her contribution to the literary canon was largely forgotten. Now she is the subject of a new play, Emilia, and the Emilias that appear throughout Shakespeare’s work have underpinned the entire summer season.

Is she the dark lady of the sonnets? Was she the inspiration for the Emilias in Othello and The Winter’s Tale? We explore what we do and don’t know about the real Emilia Bassano with Research Fellow Dr Will Tosh and go behind the scenes with writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and director Nicole Charles on new play Emilia, which takes an imaginative leap from the evidence of her life and tells an extraordinary story.

We’ll also be taking a look at imbalances off of our stages, and speaking to Emma Caplan of Band of Mothers about the missing women in our workforces.

And finally, Kate Pankhurst, author of bestselling Fantastically Great Women Who Made History, chats to us about why young children - girls and boys! - need more stories of women from history.
There's a genuine sense now that the Globe has regained its sense of purpose and returned to its earlier mission statements.

It's Good To Talk.

Life Back in February 2009, when Twitter was civil, everyone pretty much agreed on things and people actually didn't mind meeting each other in public, the first Twestival was organised at the Leaf Cafe on Parliament Street in Liverpool. I posted a full report back then and the key theme was that, with the exception of people who came as a group of work colleagues, it was an opportunity for a group of near total strangers to natter awkwardly with each other and perhaps make some friends.  What made all this easier was that we had a commonality, a social network, which meant we at least had an opening topic.

The Guardian reports that in Vienna and some other places, events are being organised in which the only commonality seems to be that they're all human beings. Coffeehouse Conversations, which sounds like a mid-noughties PBS podcast, offers the chance for a group of locals and some "outsiders" (holiday makers and the like) to meet and have intimate conversations for two hours in the hopes of fostering understanding between people from different backgrounds:
"Since March 2013 Quinn has hosted a monthly meetup at a coffeehouse in the city, pairing residents and outsiders for an evening of traditional food, drink and challenging one-on-one conversation. The premise is like speed dating, except participants spend the whole two hours with the same person, forcing them to push past small talk, and there’s no explicit matchmaking intent – though, Quinn says, it has resulted in three marriages."
What attracts me to this model is that the conversations are between two people. I'm impossibly bad in group situations, usually quiet and watching rather than participating. I much prefer one-to-one situations, especially when there isn't an motive other than to just talk. 


TV "I'm in my wedding dress. It doesn't have pockets. Who has pockets? Have you ever seen a bride with pockets? When I went to my fitting at Chez Alison, the one thing I forgot to say is give me pockets!" -- Donna Noble, "Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride

This seems immensely practical, especially since it gives you somewhere to put your hands, keep some tissues, hand wipes or even a phone, which is what the Doctor's asking her about when she gives him this rant.

"The legendary Lucie Miller - chav extraordinaire"

Audio Well, yes, I was half right.

Lucie Miller returns!

Set during the original run, it's a boxed set of four new adventures with some of the best writers from that series returning:

The Dalek Trap by Nicholas Briggs
The Revolution Game by Alice Cavender
The House on the Edge of Chaos by Eddie Robson
Island of the Fendahl by Alan Barnes

As Scott Handcock points out, Big Finish spends much of its time slotting new adventures in for old Doctor/Companion pairings, so why not within its own continuity?  Wow.

August is Gone.

About New month, new logo bar and so for fans of Scandipop, its ...

Petra Marklund, better known as September.

She reached no 5 in the UK Pop Charts in 2008 with Cry for You:

The Other Side of the Wind.

Film This is an incredibly significant moment. When it was announced that Netflix would be funding the completion of the final film by Orson Welles, something he was unable to achieve himself during his own lifetime, I was very excited but cautious. Welles projects have been notorious in the torture with which they come to fruition and The Other Side of the Wind seemed like a pipedream.

Here it is, the first trailer and it looks magnificent. If the editing of the trailer is a guide, it's very much akin to late era Welles, especially F For Fake. Hopefully the good will can stretch to finishing some of his other projects especially The Deep which seems to have been incredibly close to completion from what I've read. 

And apart from all this, its simply going to pop up on the internet on the 2nd November to watch, no tortuous hope that it'll receive a UK cinema release or buying a blu-ray from the US hoping it'll be multi-region.  I suppose the big irony is that it seems like a picture all about film as a celluloid medium yet its delivery will by anything but.

What does someone on your street think about something?

Online I've long known that it's possible to use a wildcard search on Tweetdeck to fill a column with a stream of everything on Twitter at a given moment or at least as much as the API can handle to update with. But only today did I notice that you can combine this with a location search to essentially see what people are tweeting in your local area, as close as a 100m.

Within the "location" box you can search for your own city or locale.  When the map shifts close, change the radio to 100m and then shift the map to where you live and click.  The circle shifts to exactly where you live.  Change the radius to 1km and you have a stream of tweets from people who have their location turned on.

For my part that just means people visiting Sefton Park which could be exciting on an event day.  But I've increased the radius to 10km and turned on "verified users only" to limit things a bit which means I have a constantly updating news wire about Liverpool and a few of the surrounding areas.  Which isn't to say that opening it up to anyone isn't an entertaining free for all.

There are probably journalistically useful ways of utilising this.  If there's a major event happening you could choose the locale then narrow the radius until you're very close, so long as you have a rough idea of the area and patience with the map as it floats around in the tiny window.  Eurovision night should be a hoot ...

"You think you're so big, don't you? Messing with our heads."

Audio Recently on Twitter:

On the left it's definitely Paul McGann with his Holby City hair:

On the right?  Bit harder but I think, based on the chin, that it's India Fisher:

With her hair tied up.

Which means Eighth and Charley are back together. Or they were simply in the vicinity during the recording of this and Nick's being playful.

But if it is 8th+C I'd happy if its either during the first two seasons or post The Girl Who Never Was, re-united but carrying baggage, still seeking adventure.

Bookmarks Clearing House #1

Life After an import catastrophe, my Chrome browser's now filled with bookmarks to lots of old things which have collected in my Google profile over the years. Since I don't really want to keep them clogging things up, I'm going to link to the more useful, interesting websites here. You might like them too.

YouTube TV.
What's sometimes called the "leanback" version, this is the page your TV or streamer box accesses when you hit the YouTube app. I found it when I had an old Sony Google TV box which was the precursor to Roku or Kindle Fire and whose web browser reacted to the user agent for a "TV" version of a website rather like mobile websites.

How to Turn YouTube Channels into Subscribable Podcasts:
Or more importantly a work around for those of us who YouTube having RSS feeds.

Train Times
A simply, slightly technique but ultimately very clear mash-up of National Rail's time table information. Includes live tube map.

Media History Digital Library
"A free online resource, featuring millions of pages of books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound."

Searches for typos on eBay based on the search terms you give it, in case there's anything which is being ignored because the person listing wasn't watching what they were doing. Example.

Like A Rolling Stone.
Interactive pop video which is just as hysterical now as when it was first uploaded.

The new Cineworld in Speke is open.

Film  Back when I saw more films at the actual cinema rather than on my largish tv at home, I'd often travel out to far flung multiplexes like the Showcase on East Lancs Road or the Odeon at Switch Island.  With just a five screener on Lime Street and the 051 art house, some films simply weren't delivered into the city centre and I really disliked the tired old screen house at Edge Lane which seemed to be in managed decline from the moment it opened as the MGM, through Virgin and finally as a Cineworld.  That last film I saw there was Snakes on a Place which I chose deliberately because I knew the experience was going to be as potentially awful as the film itself.  Sure enough a group of teenagers chatted through the whole thing, the seat was uncomfortably rigid and the print, still on celluloid, looked like a car had driven over it.  That's now been closed make way for a newer model as part of a new development and we'll see how that goes.

But it was with some excitement and trepidation this morning I took what for me was an old school longish bus ride to a multiplex, the new Cineworld at the New Mersey Retail Park.  Having a cinema on this site has been long promised - there were rumours as far back as when I lived in the area and now, finally, after the demolition of a massive Currys, here it is with its generic architecture and identikit eating choices, the film going equivalent of a fast food restaurant.  Which sounds like a criticism, but after all of the recent debarkles at FACT's Picturehouse were presenting a film has become an inconsistent challenge, it's quite the pleasure to turn up somewhere, pay for a ticket, buy some refreshment and be able to sit with a film for a couple of hours without any major hassles and with a toilet within spitting distance of the screen and not on a completely different floor unless you want to feel guilty for using the designated disabled WC (as is the case at FACT).

Having only been open a couple of weeks, the Cineworld Speke still has that plastic scented freshness which you wish cinemas could retain.  At the front of the building is a Starbucks although its a franchise owned by Cineworld so won't accept the chain's payment card.  But its nice to even have a Starbucks back at New Mersey Retail Park after the one inside the Borders closed.  As you can see from the photo there are also multiple restaurants on site which I presume will also be franchises - is that how this works?  Honestly, none of this is something I'd ever expect to even be in Speke, especially when I was living there.  Back then the height of excitement was when Iceland opened in the Parade or when the EU's cheese mountain was distributed in massive chunks through the local community centre.  That was the first time I'd seen so much cheddar in one place.  Plus our closest cinema was the Woolton Picture House, but that's another story.

The box office is upstairs.  It's about as you'd expect for a multiplex box office in 2018, a confection stand which also just happens to sell tickets, although there are self service machines across the foyer.  One innovation is the ability to choose a designated seat from a tough screen attached to the till, although without much indication of how big the screen and the placement of the chairs, at this point selecting A6 was pure guesswork.  The ticket was cheaper than expected, £7.70 (with a concession), which considering that an average price about twenty years ago for a matinee was about £3 isn't that much of a mark-up.  Screens with innovations (gimmicks) like ScreenX (another attempt at Cinerama) or SuperScreen (an image that sits floor to ceiling) are more expensive.  Threed is mentioned everywhere but I can't remember seeing a film which actually required glasses.  It looks fun, if disorientating.

The screens are arranged around a central waiting area rather than the corridor system you see elsewhere.  I didn't dawdle, I was already running late after the bus was late.  Screen 9 has stadium seating reaching pretty well backwards to the ceiling with a large fixed screen.  Oddly, the seat arrangement didn't match the map I'd been shown at the ticket buying stage, so I pretty much sat anywhere, which was three seats back from the front.  This was confusing enough that all of the audience members, both of us, went out and checked we were in the right screen.  Annoyingly, the stairs are almost directly in front of the screen so its impossible to sit centrally which somewhat makes sense in a massive screen, but in a smaller unit like this means that everyone is at an angle.  The seats have a PCV covering and recline with cupholders directly in the armrests.  You're glazing over, I can tell.  For some of you, this is a typical cinema going experience, but let me enjoy the novelty. 

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is stunning and like every installment since M:I III renders the James Bond franchise irrelevant without some new innovation (which I still think should be to start again with faithful period adaptations in the correct sequence beginning with Casino Royale again).  It's not so much that the action sequences as concepts are new, it's the way their shot, with Tom Cruise quite clearly doing all of the wackier stunts himself creating a jaw-dropping level of verisimilitude.  That earlier film is still my favourite (its funnier), but it's incredible that this is a franchise which began twenty-two years ago is still as kinetic as this without feeling the need to reboot.  Can we please have a White Widow vs Ilsa spin-off?  There seems to be a homage to the music in Star Trek's Arena in one of the sequences.  Its also hilarious that Cavill could quite easily have worn a prosthetic moustache until it grew back but the filmmakers seem to have forced DC/WB into a corner for shits and giggles, ruining Justice League through CGI lip distraction because they could. 

Speaking of distractions, within seconds of the film starting, I became aware of a screen like on the right edge of the screen.  Unlike FACT with its large screen interfering fire exit lights, Cineworld have gone with a more subtle square of red LEDs which presumably change in the case of an emergency.  Next to this is a green light which flashed on and off intermittently through the entire film, which was particularly distracting during the darker sequences.  None of this managed to spoil the film, but you can bet I advised the cinema management on the way out.  Also about the square box of light reflecting from the window in the projection box at the top of the screen.  The manager said he'd noticed the latter at least and would have someone look at the former.  Neither of these irritants were enough to spoil the film which is presumably another measure of how exciting the film is.  If it had been a wash, I probably would have sat watching that green light flicker off and on and off again.

Afterwards I had planned to see something else, but the waits were too long for anything I would potentially be interested in seeing and with M:I VII having a duration of two and half hours there's only so much time my old eyes can spend in front of a screen these days (I'm 43).  That I was contemplating such is quite the thing and you're as surprised as I am.  It doesn't take much for me to reject a cinema but this experience was good enough that if these is another film I'd consider watching in the future that I'd probably travel out to Speke instead of the city centre.  However passionless multiplexes are, there was an effortless to the experience.  Plus having screenings which begin this early feels incredibly civilized.  You can see a film and then have the rest of the day to play about with, which is the jam.  I'll report back when I've had a chance to have the ScreenX experience.  It might just enough to get me to see Aquaman at the cinema.

Fans, eh?

TV At what point did you decide that you were a Doctor Who fan with a capital F? This question won't necessarily be relevant to everyone reading this, although given that I have some clue as to this blog's constituency or at least the three people who've been sticking with it during the silence (Hello Twitter followers), it's perhaps not entirely off piste. Go on, when? If asked, I always give the answer that it's when the Eighth Doctor met Charley in Storm Warning, which allows me to bore people off about how good the Big Finish audios are.  But in truth it had been brewing for a while between visiting the exhibition at the Dapol Factory in Llangollen and then watching or listening to as much material as was available between UK Gold recordings by a relative and borrowing BBC audio books from Liverpool libraries.  Pop culture fandom is really something which creeps up on you, something speaks to you about it which makes you then in turn want to talk about it with other people.

Doctor Who's fandom was impossible to miss as a concept, partly because it seemed like a logical  progression given both Star Wars and Star Trek had them too, but it was really in the pages of the party circular that the extent of it, the mass, became most obvious, not to mention subsequently the web, notably Outpost Gallifrey (ask your Dad).  But it's not until reading Paul Cornell's anthology of fanzine extracts, Licence Denied that I really understood the longevity and depth of it.  Suddenly I realised that the authors of all those books I'd glanced at in Waterstones and even bought, weren't just for hire but had long been fanatics of the series.  The acknowledgements page alone is a who's question mark cover tank-top of everyone you probably follow on social media.  My key take away, other than that Graham Williams the producer of some of my favourite stories was hated in the late 70s, was that these were my people and still are.

Which is why the new Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition, The World of Doctor Who, is such a joy.  Effectively an update of the Cornell book, twenty years on with less in-jokes and inevitably a greater sense of optimism, it charts the chronology of TARDIS followers from the 60s through to the present day, stopping off in between to provide potted histories of conventions, fanzines and fan productions (licenced and otherwise) usually with the kinds of technical details about organisation, production and distribution that we adore.  Given that I missed almost all of this before the pre-internet 00s, all kinds of mini-controversies are finally explained -- Ben Cook's interview with Keith Miller cheerfully watching water flow under the proverbial until it flows into a valley drawn on pavement of London's South Bank.  It also says something about this longevity that contributors to Paul's book also turn up here in a paid gig.

It's also a reminder that fans, especially of a programme with this longevity and who are the reason it literally still exists, have always had a sense of entitlement.  For some this manifested itself in them actually taking control of the series, of the narrative, and for others it's been to scream at those same people for not making the version which is in their heads.  There's a brill cutting from Doctor Who Bulletin in which Ian Levine remonstrates about the state of the show in the latter parts of the JNT era, despite the fact he was a "consultant" only a couple of years before.  Seeing some of this writing, I've wondered if my own caustic reviews, especially of Capaldi episodes don't have a similar invective tone.  But even if that's true, for the most part its because I want the series to be the best it can be and keep to its core philosophies.  Well that and trying to be funny even if that's an endeavour for which I rarely succeed.

The closest I ever got to writing for a fanzine was Behind The Sofa, the group blog which ran for five years in the last decade (yes, sorry, BTS died eight whole years ago) otherwise I've generally squeed all over this place. I've always been slightly (slightly?) reticent about networking with other fans offline.  Despite what everyone says, I'm especially scared about attending a convention in case seeing or meeting stars or creators of the show compromises what's otherwise been a relatively solitary relationship between me and the show.  If someone has an off-day, I'd be afraid that it'd change how I enjoy the text.  But this magazine's made me wonder - would it be so bad to be able to go to a place and meet people who actually share my interests, where I'd have something in common with everyone there and actually understand the reference?  Would I have to cosplay, or would a Clayton Hickman t-shirt do the trick?

This special is a reminder that despite also enjoying film and considering myself a Shakespeare "fan", this silly old series is the one thing I can't stop returning to.  Apart from it being amazing even when it's rubbish, the stuff of it, the everything, the immensity, that it has all of these facets, that you can love all of it and some of it and yet still consider yourself part of the tribe and that its originating "studio" only partially has any control over this is what makes it pretty unique.  That's why when older fans lose their temper about the youngsters (or whatever patronising phrase they've chosen this week) not really understanding what the show is about or its history, it's a collective act of amnesia of how they originally approached the series.  Those youngster are the franchise's future and the reason why it'll still be going after we've all had our ashes scattered from a TARDIS shaped urn at Wooky Hollow.  If the show has to have taught us anything, it's that embrace change protects its future.


Social Media For a few weeks now, since buying this new(ish) PC, with its ability to run more than the basic columns in Tweetdeck, I've been pondering how I can set up a column which just features Tweets from users with a particular keyword or search term in their username.

In other words, have something which features all the BBC accounts without actually having to laboriously maintain a list or follow the corporation's own infrequently updated lists.

After much headscratching and googling I've found this:


And then applying a "verified user" filter on the column.

This is by no means exactly what I wanted. It only features links back to the website, not the general chatter I was hoping for.

In the olden days, before Twitter turned off that bit of their API, I would have been able to feed this search into ITTT but this will do for now.  Plus it has the flexibility to allow for:


And to combine them:

(link:*bbc.co.uk*) OR (link:*theguardian.com*)

So could could have a film column:

(link:*variety.com*) OR (link:*hollywoodreporter.com*) OR (link:*www.empireonline.com*) OR (about a hundred other things)

All of which also has the benefit of including users other than those connected with the magazines so that if a link is a especially popular it'll bubble up more often than it might from just the originating feed. 

A Complaint Letter To Picturehouse Cinemas.

Film The following tells much of the story. What I didn't include, in order to stay on topic, was the appalling sound quality. Only the speakers behind the screen seemed to be in use and often muffled.

This afternoon I saw the lunchtime (12:45pm) showing of The Antman and the Wasp at your Picturehouse at FACT. After the adverts, the film began to start and began projecting in 'scope across the middle of the 1.85:1 screen which had already been set up for the adverts, looking pretty much as it does on a home television with black bars across the top and bottom of the screen. Initially I thought this was an affectation and that, rather like Galaxy Quest for example, once the film started the image would increase to fill the screen.

It did not. The whole film played this way. At this stage I didn't know that the director had chosen to make the film in 'scope - the first film was in 1.85:1, so I thought perhaps matt blinds had been left on the projector and the image was being cropped - so I began considering whether to miss some of the film and run out and report it which was at the back of my mind through almost the whole film, whether I was seeing the whole image, guaging if the tops of heads were cropped. Once you have a thought like that it just *lingers*. So that rather took my out of the film.

​Checking afterwards, the IMDb revealed that it was indeed made in 2.39:1 so it had been projected incorrectly. I was a bit cross to be honest. Projecting in this way also meant that the emergency exit sign which is right next to the screen reflected across the surface screwing up the blacks in the image making some scenes look especially difficult to watch. It's less noticable when the screen has an image across the whole thing, but in this instance again, it was really, yes, distracting and damaging enough that it looked better when the house lights were up over the credits.

I spoke to the cinema manager and she explained that it was a fault with the projector which they've been reporting to you at head office for over eighteen months - something to do with the lense not being able to interpret the DCPs they're being sent properly. So that's eighteen months of people like me having to pay full price to watch films with inferior picture to quality, which is quite frankly rubbish, especially for a company which used to put cinema and the quality of how cinema is presented above all other concerns.

The manager said that its got to the point were they're now asking customers to email their complaints to head office because they're not getting any help directly. This should not be the case. I should not have to send this email. You should be listening to your cinema managers and providing whatever help they need to offer the best product to their customers. MARVEL films are my special treat and your inaction on this issue all but ruined this one.

Take care,

Update! 7/9/2018 I've had a reply:
Dear Stuart

Thank you for your email and your feedback. We appreciate all feedback as it helps us know how to improve the customer experience.

I am sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your visit. The issue with the projection has been unfortunately a problem for the FACT Liverpool site for about 8 weeks, instead of 18 months as you may have misheard. They are working with the temporary solutions they have, and are understandably keen to get back to the correct projections, as are we all. We are organising the parts and engineering required, and we appreciate your patience while these works are underway.

Kind regards,

[Some person]
Picturehouse Customer Care Team Leader
I've since been back in touch with Picturehouse at FACT - apparently it could have been 18 weeks [shrug emoji]. The relevant parts have finally arrived from the US and they should be installed shortly. Stand down everyone, stand down.

Bye Bye July.

About It's that time again, new month, new picture at the top of the blog. Look ...

It's Pernilla August who played Shmi in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menance.