Music Cool and Strage Cover Art. Hard to explain, amazing to look at ...

Film Editing for David Lynch must be one of the more 'creative' gigs in the film business, but it's something Mary Sweeney takes in her stride according to MovieMaker: "David follows his scripts very closely. I rely heavily on the scripts because I don't always know what the hell is going on in the beginning, to tell you the truth. But the beautiful part about working in post with David is that one has the time to discover all the layers and go deep into his world. I never know where the point is when I've entered into the world of the film and know where I'm going and what he's doing. It is usually an unremarkable passage, but all of a sudden I just understand."

People Ms. magazine's Women of the Year. Agreement with most of the list, although some seem slighly generic. Yoko Ono? What again? Why? Particular pleased to see Michelle Yeoh acknowledged, oh and Afgham women (yep, this is an ecclectic list). I would also include Cathy Freeman and Aaliya (posthumously).

Books An extremely silly rant from The Spectator against translating Harry Potter into ancient Greek and Latin. I'm with J K Rowling -- anything to preserve a dying language. I do wonder were this writer was when some nut translated Hamlet into Klingon. Fictional languages are another subject entirely ...
Liverpool Life This is odd. The Matthew Street area has for years been a mecca for night life in the city centre, because of The Beatles connection, but also because it's less awful than the rest of the place later on in the evening. Now people have moved into some flat which have recently been built in the area and have complained about the noise -- which seems as logical as moving into the flightpath of an aeroplane and asking the airport to fly less plane. The council have backed them in this case and have ordered two of the more popular bars to turn the noise down or soundproof. Correct me if I'm wrong but surely if you wanted peace and quiet you wouldn't move into a flat above a bar which you know is open until all hours? One punter puts it perfectly: "One of the best things about Mathew Street is the music spilling out from the bars on to the streets. That is what makes it so special. Surely anybody who moved into Mathew Street would realise that it wasn't going to be a quiet retreat."
Self-publishing Fan fiction. Nothing better. You know in your heat of hearts that Angel should have picked Cordelia so instead of waiting for the show's writers to see your way of thinking, you produce the story yourself. There is actually some excellent fan fiction on the web (the E.R. Holridge continuation from the final episode of My So-Called Life) but there is also a lot of well, garbage. Godawful Fan Fiction collects this together and presents it with an amusingly critical eye. Their page on crossovers is particularly biting:

"You wouldn't be a connoisseur of bad fan fiction if you hadn't already noticed that the author's name appears in the title of the story ... I'll content myself with imparting these facts; it's a crossover with DS9 and The Avengers, Janeway and Paris have a daughter called Larissa, and it's 80+ pages of pure, unadulterated crap. Around page 60, Vic Fontane [sic] asks, “Does this story have no end?”, and I really can't blame him."

Watch out for the link on the same page to the strangest of slash fictions featuring Buffy and Agent Scully from 'The X-Files'. [via YIL]
Blog! The US intelligence agencies are proving their worth yet again. Apparently the bomb in that man's shoe would have damaged the plane if it had gone off. And I've actually heard that the Earth revolves around the Sun... perhaps more fantastically, the weblogger Acme was on the plane and has written the obligatory entry: "You can imagine us being slightly nervous at this point. We were forced to sit down. We had to put hands up to go to the toilet. Anyone standing up was a suspect. The crew decide to show the film "Legally Blonde" to calm us down. It kind of works, until we see F15 fighter jets on starboard."
Commuter Life (again) Something I neglected to mention. This is the day that everyone decided to call my mobile phone. Which was sitting in the lost property office at Lime Street Station. So everyone who called, from my Mum and Dad, to my friend Chris and his friend Simon spoke to the old gentleman in the lost property office, bewildering all of them with his gruff voice and tales of my lost phone. Apparently when my Mum called later on to find out when they close (yes, that’s right) he sounded as though he was about to throw it under the rails if anyone rang again…. Incidentally my ringer is ‘Enola Gay’ by OMD – I hope he’s never been in a war ….
New Year I'm staying in at New Year. It's always a disappointment anyway, so I'll probably watch some new year themed movies like When Harry Met Sally, Strange Days and the totally strange Hal Hartley opus The Book of Life (Jesus Christ returns to Earth at Millenium to have a chat with the Devil and Mary Magdalen (played by Polly Harvey) about the upcomping apocalypse). Poeple with space apparently have parties and invite their friends. For these people, in other words, probably you, TNT Magazine offers tips for the perfect party. Although it has to be said, some of the advice is inviting trouble: "The bath: People always gather in the kitchen, which is fine if it leads to the dance area. To decrease the congestion of people wanting their drinks, fill the bathtub with ice and get your guests to leave their drinks there." Have they seen the size of an average bathroom?

I have a habit of talking a lot sometimes.

Christmas I've received my twenty-first birthday present at the age of twenty-seven. Let me explain. When I was 21, my main present was to be a piece of art of some description. Something I liked, but also I think something, which captured the essence of who I am. At the time nothing came to mind. I hunted through art fairs and craft fairs but nothing came. As time went on I decided that perhaps there wasn't anything I really loved which wasn't hanging in an art gallery. There was a portrait of a ballerina I spotted when I was twenty-four, but I think my attraction there was purely hormonal. So when I opened my final present on Christmas Day I was flabbergasted to find my perfect picture.

?The Flat Iron Building? as photographed by Amy Gibbings

I nearly cried. True.

I have a habit of talking a lot sometimes. I start and I'll go for hours - coherently but commenting on everything. I was at a market with my parents during my lunch hour from work the Saturday before Christmas. It was a combined continental market (selling German and Dutch produce and beer) and craft market in Manchester. On one of the stalls were some of the loveliest photographs I'd ever seen and I started enthusing and particularly fixating on a particular architectural oddity. Here is something which in reality shouldn't exist - it's tall, it's weirdly shaped, and there isn't anything like it. Other than Liverpool Cathedral it's my favourite building. I'd decided my parents hadn't been listening as they never seem to and just carried on. It transpired that when I'd left them they'd gone back and bought it. They had been listening when I least expected it.

I spent most of Christmas Day just looking at it. It's about A4 in black and white. It's the angle everyone shows, straight on, but this time with a lamp post in front which accentuates the building?s central angle. The scene is covered in snow (perfect for this time of year).

So now I have my 21st birthday present, my best present ever.
TV The crisis at Channel 4 seems to be deepening. This is my favourite channel but things are taking a turn for the worse. Apart from no sign of a start date for the second series of Angel, they've given the breakfast slot over to a Sky led consortium (giving them a foothold in terrestrial television) with a package which doesn't seem too far removed from The Big Breakfast and now they've lost Dom Joly to the BBC. In audience terms, the latter won't mean too much in the long run (afterall its just a change in channel - duh!) but in channel terms it's a disaster -- as though they are quite happy to nurture new talent but can't actually keep hold of it. Hmmm...
Commuter Life I lost my mobile phone on the train to work this morning. I’d moved it into my fleece pocket in case it rang so that I could hear it and as I alighted at the station I felt into my pocket for my season ticket and realised the phone wasn’t there. I dashed back onto the train to were I was sitting and it wasn’t on the seat and lady who was sitting there wasn’t too forthcoming as I read the newspaper I’d left on the table. I was distraught. It felt like I’d lost a part of my life – as though there was a gap in my mind somehow.

On the platform I ran to the stationmaster. No one had handed it in. Then it occurred to me – I knew the number. I drew out his phone and dialled the number. I listened. It rang. And rang. Then my own voice spoke, my answering service like a plea in the darkness ‘Hi! It’s Stuart. You know what to do…’

Where was it? Who had it?

I headed into work, stopping off at a telephone kiosk on the way to call the number again. It rang again, but less than last time. I met a former manager. We chatted on the walk up to work. I managed to keep the conversation going but all I could think about was the phone.

In work I took the nearest phone and called the number again. By this time, my hands were shaking. Someone answer.

‘Hello?’ I said. ‘I think I lost this phone, and you’ve picked it up.’

‘Actually,’ said the voice, ‘I’m the guard on the train – your phone was handed in by an elderly couple.’ I remembered them, sitting opposite me, his cloth cap, her bright yellow coat. I’ll never say anything bad about pensioners again.

The guard sent the phone back to Lime Street on the next train and I picked it up tonight, offering the somewhat appropriate password, ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’. When it was back in my hands, I kissed it lightly. I’ll never lose my phone again.
Internet Internet Magazine reports something to be filed in the 'he must have known' bin of possible copyright infringement. Michael Robertson (who began launches a dual operating system which will run Microsoft and Linux applications. That's fine. Great idea. Well done. But did you have to call it LINDOWS? Isn't Winux just as good? (apart from sounding like a small island in the Pacific Ocean)

Christmas I wanna fly! NOW! NOW! NOW!

Travel Split magazine presents an extreme guide to world travel, a sort of Sunscreen song for the holiday maker: "Airline Passengers who accept flight attendants' requests to close their window shades during daytime flights to make better movie-viewing conditions are unfeeling pismires and as such should be squashed. Travel Writers are Satan's minions. Let there be a section on airplanes reserved for the following who insist on travelling: people with (bad) colds, people with (seriously) undisciplined infants, people (of all ages) who wear caps, people who read John Grisham novels (paperback or hardcover) and dare to do it in public."
Travels with Matsui Landler / Jodel / Alphorn im Stadthkeller Luzern
What? It's a CD of music from the Swiss alps I bought at a flea market one Sunday when I was in an ironic mood.
First impressions? That I'd entered a particularly wierd episode of Northern Exposure. This is the kind of music they play under video of dogs doing tricks on ITV funny pet shows.
Touched? Comforted. The troubles of the world drift away as someone yodels about things which don't matter, but somehow feeling like the most important thing ever. 'En Polka fur Dich' in particular reminds me of a fairground I went to when I was a child, all bright lights and happy people.
Lasting impressions? Only what I've said all along. That we British are a grumpy lot and don't seem to be having half as much fun as they are on the continent.
Keep, dump or sell? Keep. I'm playing at the moment and I suddenly feel fresh and in the mood for a swing. Anyone for a dance?
Adaptation Bloomsbury Magazine's round-up of book to film adaptations seems strangely familiar. But this is a jauntier, funnier piece than mine, more anecdotal less analytical: "Less successful, perhaps, was Tim Burton‘s ‘re-imagining’ — you can’t say remake or you get sued — of Pierre Boulle’s novel Planet of the Apes. Scripted by William Broyles, who also wrote Cast Away, it was a departure from the somewhat camp classic of the Charlton Heston film, but still managed to keep a wary distance from Boulle’s book. The basic elements were still there, but it lacked the social commentary which is inherent in the tale, preferring to concentrate on what is little more than a two-hour chase sequence and making the audience wonder whether Marky Mark is ever going to get busy with a damn dirty ape."
Claus The traditional image of Santa was created by The Coca-cola Company. False, according to the Urban Legens Reference Guide. It seems the soft drinks giant merely popularised the image. It's been around for nearly a century and a half. Sadly, the ubiquitousness of the red jacket and its connection with Coke still makes Santa a walking free product placement no other company could afford ....
Quiz Usually I would link to one of the wonderful Fuali quizzes here -- but sadly that is not to be as Fuali has taken a break from his hobby for a while, after becoming a victim of his own popularity...
Film This isn't the sort of interview you'd find in the pages of Empire Magazine. Raveena Tandon, the Bollywood actress is grilled by G magazine about her career and her private life. No publicist hovering about here you suspect telling the journalist what questions to ask. Could you imagine Sandra Bullock giving this response to a question about being romantically linked to a composer? "Sandeep Chowta is not even a friend. I met him during Shool while recording a song and haven’t seen him since. Chalo (the interviewer), if they link me with friends like John Abraham or Jad (Ajay Jadeja) I would still understand. They are my buddies. But Sandeep Chowta! Oh Lord, what next. Let people write or say what they want. The day I am seeing someone, I will stand up and say so. I am old enough to fall in love now. Right!?" OK ... OK ...
Blog! anything but sanity's Caro has been presenting the sanest example of being in love I've seen over the past few days counting down until the arrival of her 'toyboy'. His name is Evan and he's from Australia (although I suspect this isn't the character from The Secret Life of Us we're talking about). The piece which made me wilt: "Being with him and having him here is normal and odd at the same time. I find myself staring at him in disbelief that this beautiful man has flown halfway round the world to see me. I keep touching him at all times, to be assured that he is there. And yes, the bed has been deflowered." Christmas is about togetherness everyone ...
Photography Jerry N. Uelsmann offers snapshots through a Dali-filter, experimenting within the dark room, super-emposing negatives together to creating sometimes haunting, sometimes halting images. Even more extra-ordinary when it's revealed in the interview that none of these sights have been anywhere near Photoshop. Seeing the introductory photograph of this interactive flash-site you really will believe a man can fly.
Christmas Just a quick note to thank everyone who's been 'feeling listless' over the past few months. I've stood toe to toe with some of you on line and it's been lovely experience. Thanks also to the silent majority who pass through here every day, either via other websites, Blogsnob, the webrings, my Mefi profile or bizarre Google searches. I hope you found what you were looking for and if you didn't at least saw something interesting or rewarding. I'll be taking a Christmas break so let me take this opportunity so wish everyone who celebrates a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to everyone else all the best. At times like this it's good to keep your loved ones close to your heart. To paraphrase a single from the past decade, "You'll miss them when they're gone..."
Film Speaking of films which no one has seen, Film Threat have their own list for this year. My eye reaches immediately for The Turkish Star Wars, and the notorious The Barber of Siberia (which I do want to see -- I love long ponderous epics). Oh and the fantastic sounding Jesus and Hutch -- hey Messiah, my maaan ....
People I once thought I could be a model. It's true. Although at most I have 'quirky' on my side and you'll more likely see me gracing the cover of Fortean Times. I suppose the work involved terrifies me, as does the prospect of a casting agent like Barbara Pfister pouring over my photo casting judgement. Although her methods set her apart: "Scanning Barbara's legendary Polaroid board, something interesting occurs to me. There is something about these street faces, found skateboarding in parks, chilling in record stores, rocking out in East Village dives that make them more dynamic than some of the agency models in question. They look at the camera with a pure and unguarded directness ... "I think sometimes the photographers just want to find a new face that inspires them and differentiates their work from everybody else. If every photographer is shooting that one hot model in the same hot outfit as everybody else it brings a kind of sameness to the picture. By bringing in someone who is unusual and real it keeps things exciting for everybody" Perhaps there is hope... [From]
Society When you put that ten pence in the collection box at your local Tesco the other day, did you know where your money went to -- if you knew exactly which cause it was helping it might have been used more wisely. As Virginia Pelley of ClickClick describes: "Sometimes people who ask for donations do represent charitable organizations, but the money collected often goes toward fundraising or to helping run the charity, not to homeless puppies or endangered rainforests, for example. Although it's legal and necessary to raise funds to offset those costs, volunteers won't always be upfront about where the money's going, assuming that they even know."
Christmas Every year since 1995, just before christmas I've sat with a cup of tea and a biscuit and watch 'In The Bleak Midwinter', the Kenneth Branagh film about a group of actors putting on a production of Hamlet in an old church at Christmas time. It's a small film, made in black and white and featuring many of his friends (some of whom would turn up in the four hour Hamlet). But it's passionate, filled with lovely dialogue, affectionate performances, and actually makes you feel good about Christmas. Like all good films it's changed with me over time. Few people saw the film on its original release -- the press unkindly described it as an ego piece for Ken (although they think that about everything he does, so what's new?) and though word of mouth was good it wasn't showing anywhere. A few people saw it on video (including a girl in a video shop I frequent -- she was asking the shop keeper for something else funny to watch (having just brought back the seventh Police Academy film and UFO, the Roy Chubby Brown film) so I pulled this off the shelves -- I know it was entirely the kind of film she'd hate, but I couldn't help myself). I had hoped that more would have seen it on TV, but sadly Channel 4's policy of not showing b/w films in prime time (unless they're by Scorsese) meant that it appeared it 2:30 in the morning the other night to a miniscule audience. I can heartily recommend you go and pick up a copy. Oh and if you're in America, its retitled in your country as 'A Midwinter's Tale' for some unaccountable reason (which is oddly enough the title the Channel 4 showing the other night. Odd, most odd).

Blog! Some weblogs forego long lists of links and complicated front pages (ahem) and just offer the content in a pure, yet exceedingly focused form. The inaccurately titled inessential is filled with moments of genuine inspiration: "Brent’s Law of Feline Behavior: The only way to stop a cat from crying at a window is to open the window; the moment you do that, he’ll go cry somewhere else." In the spirit of this post I present some films I haven't seen and don't intend to (this is going to be difficult, because regular readers to this blog will know, I'll watch any old hacked off garbage):
Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit
Raging Bull
Pokemon: The First Movie
The Next Best Thing
Science Why should technology only be designed to cater for the needs of young people? Surely people over age of fifty sometimes need help with their day-to-day lives as well? It can't be easy for a pensioner in a supermarket doing their weekly shop to ask some teenage clerk to help them around. Wouldn't give them confidence and self-respect if they had the ability to do it themselves with a little bit technology which extends their physical reach. The AgeLab at MIT is designing just such machines, as Metropolis relates. "Joseph Coughlin sees it as a laboratory where he and his collaborators help divine a new lifestyle for the world's increasingly aging--but resiliently active--population. It's an impetus that Coughlin says is sorely needed if our society is to overcome its own denial--and in some cases revulsion--about growing old." My favourite is the Pencell, which can turn the handwritten word into speech.
Travels with Matsui Q Best of 2001
What? Every year, Q, the music magazine have a covermount which is supposed to collect together the best music from a particular year -- a sort of anti-NOW album. This year it's been backed up by a large fly-poster marketing campaign.
First impressions The cover is great, a riff of 'The Sims' game featuring prominant music stars and other miscreants (The Hamiltons, Jamie Oliver, Bin Laden). The album begins with a statement, The Strokes 'The Modern Age' -- its big, its loud and it woke me up at 8:50 this morning.
Moved? Oh there is a lot of stirring music on here. The disappointing factor is a lack of familiarity. In the past these CDs have literally included many of the best singles from the stars involved. In the world of this CD, REM are represented by an album track which isn't 'Imitations of Life'. And wither 'Clint Eastwood' from the Gorillaz? But the biggest omission is feminity. The actual magazine makes much sport of women in pop music with interviews with musicians as diverse as Gwen Steffani, Kate Bush and Goldfrappe. Nothing on this this disc. The only woman involved is the guitarist from Ash. The only female voice we hear is a computerised repost at the end of Air's 'How Does It Make You Feel?' It's almost as though this silly rock music isn't something girls would do. Q, what were you thinking?
Lasting impressions? The afformentioned Air track in which a whispering version of Stephen Hawking's computerised voice attempts to come to terms with reality. Worth playing over and over.
Keep, sell or dump? Worth keeping for the Air track. Under normal circumstances, sell....
Obituary Stuart Adamson is dead.
Mefi Fifty-two things they do better in America, to which I'd also like to add community weblogs, road movies and cheesy christmas singles [from The Guardian]. Posted this to Mefi an hour ago and already twenty-two comments...doesn't time fly?
Politics Speaking of presidents, Bill Clinton's Dimbleby Lecture went out last night. Despite his head cold, he was articulate and passionate on a whole range of subjects, and despite the images he will forever conjure at the back of your mind, there will always be the What-Ifs of how he might have handled the past few months. The implication is that he would have gone into Afganistan as well: "First we have to win the fight we're in, in Afghanistan and against these terrorist networks that threaten us today. Second, we in the wealthy countries have to spread the benefits of the 21st century world and reduce the risks so we can make more partners and fewer terrorists in the future. Third, the poor countries themselves must make some internal changes so that progress for their own people becomes more possible. And finally, all of us will have to develop a truly global consciousness about what our responsibilities to each other are and what our relationships are to be. Let me take each of these issues quickly in turn."
Aids This article in The Economist has floored me. Why would a court order be required for vital medicine be given to people who need it, especially in a supposedly progressive country like South Africa. But as always, it's down to one man, and yet again, it's a president: "The government’s baffling reluctance to offer people this cheap and simple life-saver is usually blamed on one man: Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa. After surfing some of the odder corners of the Internet and chatting with a few maverick American scientists, Mr Mbeki, who has no medical training, concluded that HIV does not necessarily cause AIDS. He also seems to have decided that the anti-retroviral drugs that keep HIV-positive people in rich countries alive indefinitely are useless packets of poison."
TV The final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth is regularly trotted out as one of the greatest moments in TV history. You remember, almost the whole cast clambering out from the trenches into no man's land only to be shot down by enemy fire. But was it actually all that good? Off The Telly lifts the lid: "Call me mealy mouthed, but the actual realisation of the trenches, and in particular, the battlefield at the end of the final episode is atrocious. If you want to explore the true horror of the First World War (in lieu of providing 30 minutes of decent comedy) then it would seem only reasonable that you make a real fist of it, and actually show it for all its worth. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the stunning realisation of the same conditions in such dramas as The Monocled Mutineer, and should not demand equivalent production values from a sitcom, but then I come to expect it due to the seriousness of the point that Curtis and Elton are trying to make."
Christmas On saturday Mum and I went to town. We we got there we went to the games shop (computer), were my mum said I could have any game I wanted (within reason). We walked out with computer games Hits 10. I said "I'll have it for Christmas." We then went to Blacklers, to get my mum and Dad's presents. I got my dad an apple courer and my mum an orange pealer. On sunday we wnt to Albert dock. We went to a craft fare, were I got yet more presents. They are:- mum=framed picture, Dad=postcard and my auntie= a card. I also got a velvet coulering board.

[Yes, it's another installment in my life as an eleven year old. As you can see I had my priorities straight already. I imagine my parents bought each other lots of presents otherwise this looks really bad. Although not as bad as a few years later when I bought my Dad a bar of soap in the shape of an audio cassette. What sorry, yes that was it. In the year they bought me a Video Recorder -- I've been making up for that one ever since. This was in the days when you really did get computer games compilations. Don't get too excited -- it was for an Acorn Electron. As for the Albert Dock, it had just re-opened then, after years of dereliction, as a shopping arcade and at the time was the place to go for Christmassy things. Then the shops which moved in realised they couldn't afford the rent, and promptly moved out again. If the Tate Gallery and Maritime Museum weren't there I'm not anything else would be. Trying to work out what the Albert Dock is? It's where Richard and Judy sat for much of their career. And yes, Fred's Weather Map is still there...]
Blog! Sometimes you just link things because of the title -- presenting Aaron Humphrey's The Den of Ubiquity. He must write his weblog in his sleep -- or have his brain strapped to some device which trips his words out whilst he's doing other things. How he finds the time I really don't know. But it isn't just the quantity -- it's the quality of the writing, which captures the detail of all our human failings. Example: "Gee, a coughing fit that felt like it went right down into my larynx and came back up. Any more of that and I'll be puking. Hope that cough syrup kicks in soon. Why do I always have a cough that lasts for weeks after the rest of the cold has gone away? Did I hang around my brother and his smoking friends too much many years ago and wear away those little protective hair things in my lungs? (Technical term escapes me.) Is it because our house is pretty much a mess, and no doubt rife with bacteria? (I'm just around the corner from the cat's litterbox right now.) Or does this happen for everyone? Somehow I suspect it doesn't. Not looking for specific medical advice here, just whinging. Pay no mind."
Fashion First came extreme sports -- now extreme business. Barry Evans gave up the western life, moved to Mongolia and began a printing firm (quick pause here for you to marvel at the audacity of that). The article doesn't go into much detail as to what Evans left behind. The reason for going was simple -- he wanted to corner a market: "At that time there was no local supplier of decorated promotional garments and customers were being forced to source the goods in China, Hong Kong and Thailand. With no previous screen printing experience to his name, Barrie shipped in a 4-colour carousel, drying unit and assortment of screen inks from the UK and immersed himself in Scott Fresener’s training manuals and videos, How To Print T-Shirts For Fun And Profit."
Christmas About two months ago, my mother wondered if it might be worth buying an artificial christmas tree. I think my silence said everying. One of the highlights of every christmas is buying the tree. We go to the same flower shop to buy the spruce, and each year they never let us down. If ever someone had engendered customer loyalty. Even though we only ever see this shop once a year, the seller remembers us, remembers the type of tree we like and magically it only ever takes moments before he gives us the perfect one. More often than not, the truck has just arrived and he takes us directly there, selecting a many branched affair from the back, snow still flying off from the mountain were it was standing just that morning. Is £25 good value? The fun part, the bit I love, is getting it home.

We don't drive, so the only thing for it is to carry the tree shoulder to shoulder through the suburbs of Liverpool. The reactions are always the same. People stop on the other side of the road to watch. Drivers passing by sometimes honk their horns. Others just look at us as if they've never seen a Christmas tree before. This year we went the scenic route through the park, so we had to dodge the joggers and people playing football (yes, even in this weather).

So now, there it sits in the living room. I wasn't feeling too christmassy before. I do now.
Who The Doctor rings The Doctor. Yes really.
TV I Love BBC Test Cards. No really.
Still Working Hang in there everyone ... still busy working on future content ... I actually went out a few times this week which translates to 'not much time to work on the blog'. But I am still here and I love that thirty or so people are paying a visit daily. In the mean time, why not amuse yourselves by using the comment tag to email some music ideas of what I should be listening to. I'm open to anything. I've got Britney over with so the only way is up surely?
Travels with my Matsui I was actually nervous. My hand wasn't shaking, but I wasn't sweating a little bit. What was I afraid of? I wasn't trying some drug or other. This was only music. But over and over in my head I kept thinking -- 'What led me to this?' But as I placed the silver disc in my portable Matsui CD player, waited for the little LCD display to register, and pressed play I knew this was something I had to do...

...I've known for some time that the moments my ears spent between home and work and back again are wasted. So although my eye glances across things called pages, the oral input is zero. So I've decided to start educating myself with different types of music, each day or for a few days, listening to a CD which I wouldn't otherwise have looked at or paid any mind to, looking for something new to move me.

There won't be a direct route through this -- I won't be starting at the dawn of music and working onwards, and I won't be concentrating on a type of music. It'll perfectly random, on a whim, influenced perhaps by the musings of 'Rolling Stone' magazine and regular readers of my weblog. I'll report back to the weblog with what I find....let's begin...

Britney Spears ' one more time'
First Impressions: The title track is madeningly catchy. '...Baby One More Time' is actually atypical of the rest of the album -- it's roots are more rock in origin, although hearing the original having spent a lot of time playing the Travis cover version is quite a shock.
Moved? I had to start somewhere and why not with the antithesis of everything I probably stand for musically? But this journey is to find how much a phrase like that actually means so why not answer a question which has been driving my up the wall for years. What does a Britney Spears album actually sound like? Patchy, with glimpses. This is the musical equivalent of a teen film, although more 'She's All That' than 'Ten Things I Hate About You' It isn't difficult to see why Spears is idolised as this may be the zenith of the genre, certainly better than J-Lo's initial offering and technically better than The Hit Factory's output. Much of the time I find myself reflecting backwards on my youth listening to Debbie Gibson, whose influence hangs over the disc like a mother hen. The highlights are the singles, of course. It's just a pity that some kind of cohesion couldn't have been stretched over the whole fifty minutes. 'Soda Pop' and 'I Will Be There' are pure cornball. Much of the time I switch off, this being noise in the background. I wasn't all that involved in the music. Nothing to strike me, or shock me.
Lasting impressions? The only glimpse of what might have been is the final track 'The Beat Goes On', a rhythmic dance piece, maddenly catchy. If anything I felt nostalgia. I know that if I was a teenager now I'd probably be a bit of a fan and getting the new album for Christmas. Despite outward appearance this is a piece about innocence and naivity -- of simpler teenage emotions. I do miss those.
Keep, sell or dump? Oh dump, except 'The Beat Goes On' -- but that wouldn't work would it?
Archaeology The above was inspired, or course, by Google's Usenet archive, a history of the world and the Internet. I'm reminded somewhat of the shot at the beginning of the film 'Contact' in which the camera pulls backwards from the Earth to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, the sounds of history shimmering backwards in the process.
Christmas Well got the dekkies from the loft, hung my preent box up. Posted my calender. I decorated it with a bit of glitter, football trophy and some cuddly toys. Started to practice my Christmas Spectacular. I tell jokes, puppeteer the nativity, sing carols, have a quiz and have competitions. Bye my first present the calender. I got a walking stick with a minuture of rum it for my Dad from Germany. Mum's made the cake. Alcoholic! It's got Rum, wine and wiskey in. I want:- One Transformer, Two Computer games, Three Puzzle Books, Four Annuals, Rupert, Secret Wars, Transformers, Spiderman, Five Light up Govs, Six motor cars, Seven Joysticks. Eight Star Wars figures, Nine hairy face masks, 10 Action men, Eleven felt tip pens, 12 fruit jellys.

[Or that's what I wanted when I was eleven. Interesting to notice my tastes haven't changed too much -- not sure what a Gov is but they must have been quite good because I wanted five of them. As for the Christmas Spectacular -- drawing a blank. I wasn't that much of an entertainer when I was that age. And considering this was a journal I wrote in junior school, what my teacher must have thought of all the drink references I'm not sure. I'll keep you posted in the coming weeks on how the mid-Eighties version of me is coping with life. But as a future entry is titled 'Nothing Happens', don't get too excited.]
Rings The first reviews are in and the general opinion at Fleet Street is extremely positive, expecially with the kids: "The Lord of the Rings was awesome, four times better than Harry Potter. Now the Rings is my top film ever. The special effects were incredible and the sound effects really scary. My favourite character was Legolas, the elf soldier who helps to protect the film's hero. The other thing I liked was the hobbits' feet because they were long and hairy - just like my dad's."
New Life Congratulations to Anna and Jon who are expecting a baby. Yeah!
Rant I have a familiar rant, which I bore more people with than I should. It occured to me again tonight during a shopping trip to Costco, the big 'we sell everything' store just outside town. A man was talking to his son on his mobile phone. He was looking through the DVD collection and had in his hand The Godfather Trilogy box-set. There were many pauses. Then I heard it. The key phrase which makes the hair on back stand on end (I'm a bit like the painter in The Fast Show "Black! Black!"). He puts the boxset down and says: "They've only got it in widescreen".

RANT MODE ON: What! Do you even like films? You have a DVD player -- all of your films are going to be in widescreen anyway -- or do you only buy film which arn't in widescreen? It's The Godfather. The Godfather for christ's sake -- do you think Gordon Willis composed all those shots in letterbox for his own good you dullard? I suppose you go to the cinema and complain because you can't see all the screen. What do you do when they're showing a film in 16:9 on TV -- switch it off? You're worse than this guy! Get away from me fowl fiend... RANT MODE OFF

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Still constructing Sorry I'm down to one big post per week, but I'm still working on bits and bobs behind the scenes -- and the lovely thing is you won't be able to tell immediately what I'm doing -- for once I'm being a bit subtle about it. I will try and post something now and then ... in the meantime, there are links galore at my other labour of love first name domains, where all human life resides ... and for some reason lots of real estate agents ... just click those letters on the bar at the side ...
Commuter Life Having travelled home by taxi again tonight, I can attest that Seethru are correct about something yet again: "Does the driver have absolutely no idea where he's going even though you're heading for a well-known local street? Do you eventually, in a fit of pique, wrench the A-to-Z from his lap and direct him there yourself?" Liverpool City Centre to home is a belt down one long street -- so why do one if three cabby's think it's a license to take me hither and thither. If I want a Magical Mystery Tour I'll take the bus...

Quiz Contrary to my own belief my glass is half full: "You try to look on the bright side, and optimism is a skill you've cultivated to help you weather life's rough spots." I really should get around to re-naming this website...

Tite bar It's a Sloth of course...
Kids Scriptwriters looking for an ending to the inevitable bio-pic of Kofi Annan (starring Morgan Freeman) will breath a sigh of relief with the news that he's appeared on Sesame Street: "Annan stepped in when puppet character Elmo and his friends argued over who would get to sing the alphabet song. In the end he persuaded them all to join in." Future plans include an intervention in the on-going war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, and the ratification of The Button Moon Treaty.
Opera I never seen Opera live, so I've often wondered how the words are translated. Now I know: "It was the final act of La Bohème at Washington Opera. Mimì, failing rapidly, clutched Rodolfo's arm and pleaded, "You won't leave me?" A laptop pressed into last-minute service to deliver the text translations flashed this unexpected rejoinder: "Your battery is failing and your screen has been dimmed to conserve power." The audience roared, and a poignant moment in opera was upstaged. For better or worse, text translations -- projected above the proscenium or transmitted electronically to display screens on the seatbacks of chairs -- have altered the way we experience opera." [via Arts Journal Daily]
Journalism The Spectator surveys the British print media reaction to George Harrison's death: "Was this coverage excessive? A shade so, I would say. Some readers under 30 — who don’t know when the ‘summer of love’ was and don’t recall the anti-American riots in Grosvenor Square — may have been a bit bewildered. Some of the older ones may have wondered whether George Harrison was such a towering figure. Popular papers naturally devote a great deal of space to popular heroes, and doubtless they know their markets much better than I do, but their coverage did seem rather overdone."
Plog! One of the arts of writing a weblog is choosing an eyecatching title. The story of 'feeling listless' is a long and arduous one. So when I glanced upon 'The Joy of Soup', I assumed it would be another personal journal, perhaps from someone in a very foggy part of the world. Well, no. It actually is a weblog about soup. In each post, the writer offers a recipe, the genius part being that they have tried it out and presents the expert opinions of some their friends. There is also writing connected with the various cookbooks that the soups are sourced from. I'm suddenly feelinghungry...
Film Weekly, articles appear in newspapers and magazines grumbling that although a great number of films are made in Britain each year, plenty with much to recommend them, the American owned cinema chains have a stranglehold on the marketplace, making the distribution of films an expensive and often loss-making exericise. Lack of visibility, leading little or no word of mouth, onward to no success. In China the opposite is true. Here, the domestic film industry accounts for almost the entire box office, with only ten Hollywood film released each year. The China's entry into the World Trade Organisation means that is set to double, sending shockwaves throughout the industry, especially amongst distributors, presumably eyeing the situation here. The most staggering aspect of this article from The Shanghai Star is the revelation that China does not have a film rating system: "The Crimson River", a French thriller, is showing in Shanghai Film Art Centre at the moment. A mother brought her child to the cinema but had to go out before the film was over. "My child was terrified," she told the staff at the centre. "We had to take care of the child for over half an hour so that the mother could go back to the cinema and finish the film,"
Non-biography Writing this weblog can be exceedingly frustrating at times. I want to tell you about my life. I want to fill you in on all the gossip of all the people I know, what they're doing, the intrigue, the mystery, the pratfalls. The people I don't like. The people I love. I want to describe in detail all of my hopes and fears, the inner dreams, and those things which get under my skin. Sometimes I just want to get on-line and give what-for to the world. But then I think about who might be reading. James Blish once said that the first thing which has to be uppermost in the mind before you write anything is 'Who does it hurt?' and I think when I sit here night after almost night trying to entertain you I need to bare that in mind. One of the tricks in life is to keep those friends who are important close to you and keep your enemies at arms length. So I think, for now, I'll stick to telling you about train journeys and the incidentals, the internal intellectualism not the external emotion.
Blog! Ann Elizabeth made me laugh tonight. A proper laugh. A belly laugh. It seems she's been attracting the wrong sort of attention from pensioners. Actually I'm frequently touched by her work -- she's an absolutely amazing photographer. If I was to make that film, I'd want this to be my opening shot...
Book Currently reading and heartily recommending 'The Victorian Internet' by Tom Standage, which is a history of the telegraph. This isn't as loosely connected as it would first appear. Rather like 'Longitude' this is an important story told with some passion. The first scene of the book is fabulously cinematic -- the moment of the discovery that electricity passes instantaneously from here to there:

"On an April day in 1746 at the grand convent of the Carthusians in Paris, about 200 monks arranged themselves in a long, snaking line. Each monk held one end of a 25-foot iron wire in each hand, connecting him to his neighbour on either side. Together, the monks and their connecting wires formed a line over a mile long.
"Once the line was complete, the Abbe Jean-Antoine Nollet, a noted French scientist, took a primitve electrical battery and, without warning, connected it to the line of monks -- giving all of them a powerful electric shock."

Bastard. The rest of the book is filled with such annecdotes turning what could have been quite a dry subject into something real and gripping. Believe me, there were hackers even in the early nineteenth century....

Rings Tinkagrrl reports that the first review is up -- it's from 'Newsweek', that august film tome. It's a good review which bodes well for the trilogy's wider appeal from fas of Tolkein and the genre -- more punters, more likely the next two won't go straight to DVD. Looking forward now to Kim Newman and the SFX crowd's reviews....
Film Review Wonder Boys. Posted here: "I failed A-Level English. It took two years, round the clock study and a deep-seated understanding of the books at hand not to succeed in the endeavour. I wasn't disappointed at the time because I was still going to University on my B in Fine Art and D in General Studies. It wasn't until three years after college as I sat watching a production of Hamlet and understanding every word of it I decided I should have done better. I reconciled that I couldn't have done better at the time and I've moved on. Watching ‘Wonder Boys', the memories of the study experience came flooding back to me."
People There were only two actors who could have played Gandalf in the new Rings movies. If it wasn't Sir Ian McKellen it was going to be John Hurt. I couldn't quite out why this was the case -- luckily Fametracker is here again with the answer -- it's because they are exactly the same: "Like a lot of British actors who came of age in the '70s, he now gives off that mellow, manicured, urbane vibe that is somehow pansexual and asexual all at once; like, you can barely imagine him even having genitals now, but at the same time it's not much of a stretch to think of him having this profligate, genteelly slutty youth -- 'Velvet Goldmine' by way of 'Maurice'."

Architecture Pleased to note that the suggested memorial for The World Trade Centre mentioned here previously is looking increasingly likely. These shards of light will reported be so powerful they'll be visible in Space...
Blog! Vodkabird's Vikki sacrificed a quiet life to stand her ground against the tyranny of others when she visited The National Gallery of Scotland today. I can attest there isn't anything worse than self-righteous people sticking their noses in. One of the Commuter Life posts I never brought you happened during that time when buses home were more infrequent. An entire bus stop full of people looked on in horror when a woman appeared with many children, squinted at the timetable and told them that no buses would be stopping their anymore -- and then proceeded also to tell it to all of the dispirate other people not in her initial earshot. The bus stop emptied, some got in taxis, others walked to another stop on the other side of town .... I stood my ground ... one of a few ... who were happy when that bus arrived not three minutes later ... unlike Vikki I didn't say anything. You go girl ....
Life I been having trouble with my default settings -- I'm not entirely satisfied with them. My default film is 'Star Wars' -- I'll look at my entire video collections (which is a cineaste version of that record collection in 'High Fidelity') wondering what to watch -- the entire history of film-making on offer and before too long the little orange writing is disappearing off into the distance. This isn't so bad -- my previous default films were 'Adventure in Babysitting' and 'St. Elmo's Fire'. I'm just wondering if I should just be getting out 'The Matrix' or that shiny DVD I have of 'American Beauty'. But you'll see my point better probably if you look at the list.

Television: Friends
CD: 'No Angel' Dido
Coffee: Black
Newspaper: The Guardian
Magazine: SFX
Website: Metafilter
Booze: Budweiser
Book: (email and I'll tell you)
Greeting: Hey you

Perhaps my problem is that these have been my defaults for too long. I need to break out. So rather like a Blue Peter presenter asking for names for the new Tortoise they've adopted I'm looking for suggestions. Since I can't change the big things in life, I want to nudge the little things. So what would you change? If you've been reading for a few weeks you'll know what I like, so why not suggest something to me I ought be trying. Drink, music, food, book, whatever. And anything you suggest I'll have go and post the results here. I can't say I'm going to like it, but I'll try anything once and I'm in the mood for an adventure...
Aids I've been thinking all week about what I was going to write today and eventually realised that I don't have anything to say. I know other webloggers will have stories of friends and familly who've been effected by the disease. Some will offer statistics. But I find myself, for once, speechless. So I think all I can offer is that it's in my thoughts as it should be in yours. I'd be wearing a ribbon with pride if I could find one anywhere ... which sort of proves that Aids has drifted off the agenda lately ... link and think ...
Clubbing In general I don't love clubbing. Although every now and then I do get wistful about Ibiza -- about just going -- just once -- just to see. Then I remember I might not like the music. Or the people. Until now. Papermag are trying to intice wealthy New Yorkers to the experience with tales of Cream and those crazy English people: "Still, we all love to indulge in guilty pleasures and, like all expensive spectacles, Ibiza is a sight to be seen. It was enough to make Cream's PR girl quit her job as a BBC reporter, move to Ibiza, and tell us funny party stories about how she got the huge burn scar on her leg. Hey, you'd accidentally iron your short skirt while it was still on your body if you were in a mad enough rush to get your drink on, too."

Music Stadium Rock largely passed me by. Bit of Bon Jovi, that's my lot. But I can't help but love the scale of them -- big walled off field with thirty thousand people baying for the blood of a group of men collectively called 'Scorpion'. But even the hardened rockers I suspect (I think) arn't too enamoured with power ballads. I do have a soft spot for Poison's 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' though.

Huh? You're the CEO of a tennant company in a twin towered office block in Toronto, Canada which has organised a fire drill in response to the 9.11 tragedy. You're pleased because the evacuation went very smoothly -- only took twenty minutes for eleven thousand people to get out. Except not you -- you stayed in your office and carried on working. Not through some sinking ship nobility -- because you just couldn't be bothered getting up ...


I am 19% SKA.

"I am not ska. I am not even close... I don't even know what skanking is? I may need guidance, get offline and see if I can go find myself a show, or a CD, or something." I'm suspecting on this evidence I won't be going for a pint with Mark Lamaar anytime soon...

Net And I'll leave today (night?) with the news that the Tourist Guy, Peter Guzli has been interviewed by 'The Guardian'. I never really bought into this phenomena -- and neither did he it seems: "I intended this joke for my friends only, not for people who did not know me. I know who the person is [who betrayed him and sent the image on to a wider audience]. I've had a discussion with them, and there's no hard feelings." Groovy....
Business The general opinion of late, is the ITV isn't making the best use of its assets (whatever they may be). This FT article is a pretty difficult read, except for this one paragraph which proves that some metaphores are doomed to failure: "One media executive goes further: "This has been the economics of the hamster hutch, where all they have done is focus on when the food is arriving each day. It makes their executives pretty arrogant and swaggering and not nearly paranoid and thoughtful enough." "
Journalism You'll notice in that previous posting I didn't mention the name of the site I was linking to (Off The Telly). In the future there is the potentiality for this kind of linking to be legally unsound, especially if this weblog is part of a commercial site. The main cause for concern is that by pointing directly to an article, you are missing out the title page of the site, and any terms and conditions thereof. There have a been a couple of high profile cases were one site has been passing off the pages in another site as their own (something webloggers couldn't be accused of). But surely the 'leeching' site would need an extremely similar site to that with the stolen links for the ruse to work wouldn't it? Or is that missing the point as usual? I'd better leave it to Michael S. Overing, of the 'On-line Journalism Review' to blink through this legal minefield.
Music What do you do if there isn't a soundtrack album for your favourite kid's programme? Hunt down it's creator and offer to publish one for him. Jonathan Benton-Hughes met Oliver Postgate with a view to collecting together the music of 'The Clangers' and found it to be a very humbling experience: "It's his voice that gets you straight away. There is no mistaking the gentle deep tone of it. It sends a nostalgic shiver up your spine. And after a couple of minutes of talking I realised that he breaks into all his characters all the time. One minute he¹s a narrator, then he¹s Professor Yaffle from Bagpus. Then he's Bagpus. I even detected a touch of Iron chicken coming out over coffee. It seems like his characters are him - part of his personality. He is also totally humble, charming and incredibly intellectual. I felt very small in his presence."
Title bar Finally. The answer we were looking for was Joe Dimaggio. Imagine being the pitcher whose heart melts as he looks into these eyes and realises he hasn't clue were the ball is going to go. Congratulations to Anna and Tinka for guessing this one correctly (and sending an answer in) ...
Blog! More globe-trotting to Stockholm were Justin Steen of Wigan Express is having a creepy time of it with his landlady, who decided to re-organise his flat a bit during a show and tell for potential new tenants: "So we go home. And we just couldn't believe our eyes. Every single item of furniture, every ornament and every other movable item was in a different place. About 90% of our ornaments, picture frames and that kind of thing were in boxes. Things like our towels had been hidden away. The bed had been moved. She had moved pictures to extremely weird places so they covered marks on the walls (counterproductive, incidentally, since anyone would realise that a huge picture placed four feet up a wall is there to hide something)."
Christmas 'I Love Christmas' Hollywood style, from E! On-line -- no sign of Stuart Maconie or Johnny Vegas here -- think fake scratchy home movie footage of George Clooney instead: "We had a dog that got into a neighbor's yard, and the neighbor shot the dog. Didn't kill him but got him good. Well, this guy had a perfectly done up house with a white fence, and everything was pristine. It had only one tree in the front yard--a 15-foot evergreen. I snuck into his yard in the middle of the night with a bow saw, cut it down and used it as our Christmas tree that year. I always thought that was sort of a good Christmas."
Buffy It occured to me the other day that I hadn't played any kind of computer game since I got on-line. Then I saw this -- yes it's screenshots from the new Buffy game. Of course it's all in the playability...
TV American TV producers have an inability to take the elements of a good British television programme and translate them for their own audience. The reason we love 'Cold Feet' in the UK is that the characters are just like us (in the main); in the American version we find six people who look like they've been cloned from the leftovers of the cast of Melrose Place. 'Men Behaving Badly' didn't do too well either by all accounts, becoming 'a couple of guys who say a few naughty things from time to time'. There was even an attempt at 'The Life' called 'First Years', featuring Samantha Mathis no less as Anna, which sucked anything gritty from the format and turned it into yet another courtroom drama. TV Guide compare and contrast the various shows and it appears that only the gameshow is a translatable format...[Java window, people. Go to the page and click the title 'The Empire Strikes Back']
People George Harrison is dead.
Space Age I simply couldn't help myself ... I'm actually standing on the platform of Manchester Picadilly Station writing my weblog. There are people watching me. I can feel the tremor off passing trains beneath my feet. I'm using a BT Multi-phone, with it's hulking metal keyboard which needs to be proded not clicked. At a pound per ten minutes it isn't cheap, but it is convenient. And the big metal rollerball which controls the pointer is sort of fun. Sadly no left click though ....
Reader comment Kate emailed all misty eyed and nostalgic about Chester: "Chester. *sigh* I was in Chester once, five years ago, and I was quite taken with it. Wandered around all day ducking in and out of shops and pondering the idea of packing it all up and moving there. Then I found myself back in the U.S., and haven't left the country since. *sob*" There are just some places you can fall in love with -- I've left a piece of my heart in Edinburgh, Dublin and Leeds ... Kate also points out on her weblog that on Chester's website they are actually asking people what they think of some designs for new street furniture ... not sure about the practicality of those bins ...
Today's Clue No time for an extensive update tonight, but I thought I'd leave you with another clue ... he was once married to Marilyn Monroe ...
Music I am Uatu. From my throne on the moon I look out across your world and multitudinous others, an infinity of realities. I can see things you people wouldn’t believe, and see fates you couldn’t even conceive. Today, I bring a story so unbelievable as to be terribly believable. I give you ‘What If the actress Kate Winslet has been a West End Singer?’

[Actually if The Watcher doesn’t mind me butting in, I can answer that. ‘What If’ is a superior power ballad from yet another animated version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, and because she’s an actress Winslet renders it with some level of emotional integrity (in other words, not the Celine Dion method of vocally banging the crap out of it). I like it (and I hate power ballads) and on the strength of it would consider buying the soundtrack album. It’ll never be a hit (what airplay?) but at least its something newish. And kudos to Kate for giving her royalties to the NSPCC.]

Film Review Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001) On a recent episode of ‘I Love 1990s’, Kelly Brook was featured as the ‘it’ girl of the year. One of the pundits (I forget which) commented that it’s ironic that ‘The Big Breakfast’, the morning television programme which led to the vilification of the girl has seen itself sliding in the ratings, whilst Brook’s career is on the up. That pundit obviously hadn’t sat through the straight to DVD slasher ‘film’ ‘Ripper’ in which the model plays the initial knife fodder of the serial killer. It shouldn’t be too much of a shock that the film is awful, opening with a re-run of the equally terrible ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’ and continuing into a cross-fertilisation of the angsty bits of ‘The Faculty’ and ‘Seven’. We are talking about a film so obvious, it’s set in a school for serial killer profilers (I’ll get my application form straight away). What is interesting is why the former-presenter would choose this film to show off her acting talents, especially if she read the script.

Her character features in only two key scenes. The first is post credits. For fifteen minutes we listen into a lecture about profiling (one of those all purpose movie lectures which covers the entirety of the subject in about fifteen minutes – I wish my university course had been like that – would have saved three years of my life). We are introduced to the characters, and it’s clear that Kelly’s entire place in the film is to titivate, her few lines innuendo, her delivery the monotone estuary familiar to anyone who visited upon her tenure sitting next to Johnny Vaughn. Her legs and lap are on screen longer that her face. And the death scene. Yep, it’s that simple. Here we see Brook dance a bit, before being led into the women’s toilets were, to a club soundtrack and inter-cutting with other characters being meaningful we see Kelly being – I’m trying to put this delicately – sexed in the posterior (did I get away with that) by a man in a cloak and white mask (its that derivative). A horrific scene, badly filmed and edited. From here we get Kelly’s one bit of acting (is she crying because she just got her jolly’s that way or because she is racked with self-loathing? Do we care?) and its off the roof for a long drawn out stabbing by the killer. And that’s it.

It’s obvious Brook wants to build a career as an actress – but why would she choose this as almost her first time? She couldn’t possibly have thought this would be the next ‘Scream’. Could she even have hoped it would get a theatrical release. It’s a quickie exploitation flick with no heart and a dearth of creativity.

I think the shorthand of that last paragraph probably covers what anyone would hope to gain from this. It’s low budget, so a spirit of Dunkirk no doubt ensued as everyone put up with the same bad conditions, giving any trainee actress time to learn a bit about this industry. She must have paid quite well -- certainly as much as for a GQ or Playboy shoot. It is a film set, so at least there is the experience of working within that kind of an environment. This thing will ultimately be seen by few people so there is less chance of the kind of embarrassment which ensued from her presenting work – and less chance of the bad reviews which would have happened from a higher profile film. So actually not an entirely stupid move appearing in this stupid garbage. After all, it is still a movie – and how many of us can say we’ve been in one of those?

Well me actually, but that’s a story for another time.

And no I don’t know who the killer was. There’s only so much of garbage like this one can take. I’m not sure even beer would have made this watchable. There is commentary track on the DVD and the director himself even sounds bored watching his own film….
Photography Jodi Cobb has travelled the world for National Geographic and further, documenting people. Like Rabi she finds beauty in the moments, exemplified by her Geisha collection. [from Photo District News]
Legal Harry Burns in 'When Harry Met Sally': "Yes, I think that right now actually is the perfect time to talk about this because I want our friends to benefit from the wisdom of my experience. Right now everything is great, everyone is happy, everyone is in love, but you got to know, that sooner or later, you're going to be screaming at other about who's going to get this dish. This eight dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of that's-mine-this-is-yours ... Please, Jess, Marie, do me a favour for your own good, put your name in your books right now, before they get mixed up and you don't know who's is who's. Because one day, believe it or not, you'll go fifteen rounds over who's going to get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers garage sale coffee table!" Perhaps Tom and Nicole could have benefitted from his experience after a nine month long divorce settlement.
Blog! As we’ve discussed before, people can leave and return from your life without warning, can be with you for long and short times and it’s what you do during that time that’s important. WockerJabby’s Rabi Whitaker relate's how a year ago she didn’t know Peter and now he’s one of, if not the most important part of her life. Sometimes weblogs aren’t trying to make any grand statements about anything, they’re a collection of the important moments in someone’s life on a daily basis. Small things. Details. Instances. Such things, like Rabi's journal, are cherishable things.
Today's Clue Short and sweet ... he was on Billy Joel's list ...
People Its always difficult not to dwell on the lack of success of the ‘Friends’ cast in films – no one has had sure-fire hit were they were the star. Lisa Kudrow has distinguished herself somewhat and Courtney Cox worked well in the scream series, but given a wider frame, no studio audience and wider scope, everyone else looks wrong. Perhaps it's their lack of real star quality. Sometimes, you can’t imagine any of them saying boo to a goose. ‘The Schwimmer’ for example: “He makes his own schedule for our interview, leaving his home number on my hotel voicemail even before we've spoken; he wears clothes so nondescript that I can't even remember what they were, he drives me around in his eight-year-old car and he invites me to play volleyball with him and his friends… I'd like to tell you something bad about him just for the sake of balance: he says he sometimes steals parking places while other drivers are about to reverse into them, and he carries a big, heavy torch behind his car seat in case they get violent. But he has yet to use it in anger. And he wouldn't sign an autograph on the way to lunch. But only because he didn't have a pen. And he was very sorry.” Tim Cooper for ‘The Observer’
Christmas One of the highlights of each of my years is Christmas present shopping. In recent times, my employment situation has been such that I could dedicate weeks to finding all those presents. This year I have a week. This week. Or more exactly the past two days. And incredibly I seem to have managed it.

Yesterday, it was Cheshire Oaks, a retail outlet park in the next county. A haven for last seasons clothes, it’s also the only place on earth which has ten different kitchen utensil stores. In the men’s bathroom there are two framed articles from the local paper. One shows a visit to the area by The Queen, with a photo of her being shown around the ‘Bed and Baths’ shop. The other offers a slightly tired looking John Major on his soap box during the ill-fated 1997 election campaign being swamped by shoppers – convenient politics as well as convenient shopping then. The main draw of Cheshire Oaks is the chance to buy an unusual gift. For me, there is nothing worse than being able to trace a present back to its source, and retail outlets are a great way to combat this, even if there is too much temptation to start buying things for yourself.

[The only dark moment in the day was at the café where I was told that the sweat dry horrible cheese in my baguette was supposed to be like that. Err..OK…]

Today was spent in Chester. I always go to Chester at Christmas time – it’s as much of a tradition as having Christmas Tree -- its Victorian Christmas paradise they have on greetings cards. As with all other city centres, I’m slowly watching it’s uniqueness disappear, although here there is a slower rate of change, by virtue of the agreements between the local council and retailers. It’s a historical city, so the shop owners have to rebuild themselves to fit the architecture, not the other way around. It’s worth visiting in many ways just for the customer service. In Liverpool, you’ll go into a shop and the clerks will actually seem pissed off that you have the audacity to y’know buy things, and generally make you feel about two inches tall. In Chester, they love that you’re there and will offer any help you need – it smoothes the shopping process and you genuinely feel better when you leave a shop than when you went in.

[Although I would interject here to ponder what it is with ‘The Disney Store’, which has this bizarre ability to cheer me up. I’m sure they put something in the air. And what must it be like to be the one who stands at the door in that outfit saying hello and goodbye to the customers? I jumped out of skin the first time one of them spoke to me, and generally I have no idea what to say to them. A quick smile works sometimes, but it feels a bit artificial.]

So I’ve finished my Christmas shopping now. It’s November. What next? Oddly, I never seem to have difficulty find things people will like, or that they can use – it’s simply a case of listening and paying attention throughout the year. My mother is plagued by friends who give her presents which she’ll never use and is told that they never know what to get her – which considering how much she talks about life just shows how little some people pay attention to each other. My dad can be more difficult but I still seem to find something. The same goes for everyone else I buy presents for. It sort of annoys me that people would go out and buy somewhat generic presents for one another, making bee-lines for the ‘Perfect for Mom’ or ‘Perfect for Fathers’ sections of apartment stores, the latter always filled with golfing related products.

I always try to give an ‘ah-gosh present’ – something which will make them jump out of their skin – this doesn’t have to be because of the price – it could be something which is so personal, it’s keyed into a part of their psyche which they hadn’t even considered. Forever when I was younger, my Dad would talk at length, misty eyed about the original Eagle comic from the 1940s and 1950s enthralled by the adventures of Dan Dare. So one year I bought him a copy of that comic from when he would have been of the age in 1956, big colourful picture of a rocket on the cover. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he opened it. Which I think is the way I feel about Christmas. While it’s nice to get presents (of course) for me its about how I can make others feel.
Those eyes I'm having movie night tonight. Already watched 'Ripper' (awful, awful, exploitation horror flick featuring a group of unknown teen actors and lad mag favourite Kelly Brook -- yes, that awful) and 'The Gift' (which is paced far too slowly and has far too little clear story direction to be effective -- even if the cast act their socks off). About to head off into 'Wonder Boys'. But why am I here? Oh yes, those eyes... Tinka emailed suggesting it's Ed from "Live" ... good try ... time for another clue I think ... erm ... slightly less cryptic ... he was born yesterday ...

I could go either way. Deep into the madness of nights filled with coding CGI-Scripts and online role playing games, or I could become a normal user. Good luck!
Quiz If I was an Autobot, I'd be:

Click to see what Autobot you could be!
Blog! Cheesedip is one of those pieces which is so bloody good, it's difficult to review. How can some make all this seem so effortless?
Art A Momentary Vignette's short little article about Rene Magritte.
Music Q magazine's archive of bad album covers (well ten of them at least). Actually I've always rather liked The Cranberries - 'Bury The Hatchet' cover -- big eye, little naked man. It's like an accessable Salvador Dali, I'm sure.
Reality Check Parkinson. Last Night. Michael Parkinson has been a chat show host for years (apart from that gap in the 1980s) and in his time has interviewed some world renouned people. He's known for collecting guests with something in common and last night it must have seemed like a winner. Err... The first real guest, Martine McCutcheon, former soap actress, treading the boards intermittently in 'My Fair Lady'. As you would expect, bit of flirting, the usual. Then we have Terry Wogan, chat show host, Mike's golfing buddy, presenter of Children in Need (his presumed reason for being there) and The Eurovision Song Contest. It was clear from the start that this wasn't the Tel who introduces 'Aunties Bloomers'. From nowhere he turned into a stand-up comic, a likable Bob Monkhouse, with a ready wit and jokes galore. Wind him, up let him go, and considering everything I was laughing. I was laughing at Terry Wogan, the epitomy of Radio Two and pullovers. How? And then my eye boggled out of my head... 'Now my next guest has been voted the sexiest woman in the world, she's an actress and singer ... Jennifer Lopez ...'

I'm sorry, what?

Alright ... it wasn't a complete shock ... it had already been mentioned a few times before hand in the previous interviews. But I didn't quite believe it ... rather like you never completely believe the light in a fridge goes off when you shut the door. Now I don't know how often 'J-Lo' appears on US chatshows, but her appearance in the UK are few and very far between. But sure enough, there she was launching into a production number which just seemed too big for Studio Two at BBC Shepherd's Bush. It was an intermittent tune, the backing vocalists doing much of the work. But it still looked wrong. Oh well, I thought, at least they arn't going to talk to her but ...

Sure enough, she paced uncomfortably over towards the craggy face of Parkinson, his mouth grinning like the entrance to a cave. Terry, who'd interviewed a galaxy of stars on his own chat show during the 1980s looked for all the world like Lester Burnham in the scene where he's introduced to Mira Savuri in 'American Beauty'; Martine was obviously a bit star struck. And there they sat for moments. What was Lopez doing here? Shouldn't she be out clubbing or something. What could Parkinson possibly ask her?

Then the interview began. Well sort of. Given someone that he has an actual interest in, Parkinson can get under the skin of some actors. But here there was too much of a generational gap. Like Lester, Parky didn't seem to know how to relate to her, or how to get her to talk. His almost first question was about what it was like to be in car boot with George Clooney for a day. J-Lo took a moment to remember that film she was in four years ago, with some guy who was just George and not all that famous then. He wanted to know all about the arrest, about Sean Coombs, about growing up in projects; but the interview style was too bland; too obvious. He asked about whether how her parents felt when they heard -- Lopez looked at him, as if to say, 'How they hell do you think they felt?' and gave little away. The embarassing moment during the Woody Allen interview, when Woody got testy over Mike's incessent questions about Mia was immediately brought to mind. She just wanted to talk about her music and films -- like some tabloid hack he wanted to talk about seedier sides of her past. It's too soon Mike. Wait a few years until her fame has faded a bit.

Things proceeded in the same fractured style as this review. He resorted his usual desperate measure of 'It's been reported that ....' type questions, quoting some fiction, easily parried with a 'not true'. He seemed suprised that Lopez wasn't going to be an obvious star (hasn't endured 'Anaconda', I suppose). Then he brought up the subject of her arse (very original). She was gracious and sparkly, and won a fan here, at least for the person if not the music. To some extent I can believe she hasn't changed too much from that 'girl from the Bronx' which she described herself as -- if I had her money I might go a bit overboard as well on appearance riders. Mike drew in McClucheon, to talk about their similar backgrounds, which also didn't fit. Terry didn't fit in the middle there either. Nothing fitted within this fitful interview. Which felt like it was finishing from the beginning. Which exemplifies all good Reality Checks -- elements which on an initial glance seem similar will in fact explode on contact. A bit like anti-matter.
Title bar Bit of a mystery this week ... see if you can guess whose eyes they are ... I'll tell you at the end of the week ... a clue ... he's master of a spectacle which is one of the only American exports never to take off in the United Kingdom ... and it's not Hootie and the Blowfish ... don't phone, it's just for fun ... although you could ICQ (134358633), AIM (feelinglistless) or Yahoo (feelinglistless) and answer and I'll tell you if you're right ...

Biography The original version of the site (before the weblog, before the portals) was Reality Check. The idea wasn't at all simple and so I didn't have much of a chance to run with it. In nutshell I suppose, it was 'Cultural review from another reality'. It was the juxtaposition of elements from seemingy opposing end of culture in a small or large scale for slightly bizarre effect. For example, the previously mentioned Louise Rednapp cover version of 'Stuck in the middle with you'; Dame Edna Everage appearing in Ally McBeal; all of those Japanese ads with quite well known actors advertising convenience products; politicians appearing in pop videos for Bananarama. It sort of made sense at the time so I thought I'd bring it beck now, in a slightly simplified form. After all, I'm supposed to be 'culturally reviewing'. So....
Architecture One of my favourite film going moments was see 'Its A Wonderful Life' on the giant screen at the ABC Cinema in Liverpool, a big 'ol barn of a screen filled with glorious architectural motifs. Sadly it was the last film which was shown there before it shut down. And it's fallen derelict over the past few years, a sad, wreck of a site, and one of the first things people see in Liverpool as they leave the main railway station. Now there's a plan to turn it into a drop in centre for the 'pool's bid to become the Capital of Culture for 2002. Well at least someone will be using it for something...
ISP Thousands of users (including David at I Love Everything) have had difficulty connected over the past few days via BT. Personally, I've never had any problems connecting via BT Surftime (he says touching digital wood).
TV Whenever the ITN are covering a news story concerning something at the BBC, you can always see the glint in Trevor Mcdonald's eye and a smirk in his tone. Not so at the actual BBC, who stoically reported the supposed gaff by Kate Adie as a main news story the following day on the same news programme and in this article looking at the frankly barmy decision by ITN to axe a hundred and thirty staff, mostly in the foreign news section (yes -- great time to pick). This piece could have taken a superior tone, but instead offers 'just the facts'. Admirable.
Journalism When CHUD's editor couldn't take up an unexpected invite to the 'Oceans Eleven' press junket, he sent his brother instead. The resulting article is a bit more entertaining than the usual fair: "Ten minutes pass, and still no Clooney. Garcia is obviously bored and starts talking to everyone, "Why don't we start without him?" Hands fly into the air. Damon makes his second joke at Clooney's expense, "When he gets here, no one ask George any questions for five minutes. He'll get nervous". Again, everyone laughs. Then a commotion starts in the hall. He's on his way."
Sculpture New Scientist reports that in Switzerland there is a plan to recreate the fifty metre tall buddha's blown up by the Taliban last March, proving that no art is simply transient: "This will be a symbol of the rebuilding of Afghanistan," says Bernard Weber of the New Seven Wonders Society, which is coordinating fundraising for the project. "It will send a clear signal that in future an act of intentional destruction cannot erase the memory of those things which are valuable to humanity and its heritage.
Item! We can call off the search penis has found a vagina. To cut a long story short -- the original vagina, Andria took exception to John's new site design, the crux of the matter being an upturned cross which didn't quite play with her religious sensibilities. They had a disagreement, and since things hadn't been going well for a while, she left the blog. Which led to John's desperate plea a few days later: "Wanted: One vagina. No experience necessary. Must be originally female. Must not be religious." After a few unusual propositions, he's found someone else. There's a film script in there somewhere I'm sure...
People Continuing tonight's film theme, 'Sidekick' round up and update their 'Hey, Who is that Guy?' columns with a long, exhaustive and exhausting article. Interestingly many of the actors listed, whilst almost unknown at the time of the original article have gone on to become household names (Russell Crowe) or at least deeply recognisable to a particular audience (Jean Reno, Steve Zhan, Gina Gershon). The Steve Buscemi section is particularly good -- this is someone who is living the Bollywood ethic of appearing in as many films as he possible can -- nine in 2001 alone. Perhaps the IMDb should be be charging him for clogging up their servers...
Review! Once, not too long ago I was asked to list my top five film directors. The list went something like Woody Allen, Steven Soderberg, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater (see below) and Ed Burns. I think I'd just seen and fallen in love with 'The Brother McMullen' and decided that we had a new generation Woody Allen on our hands. Then I saw 'She's The One' and bumped him for Whit Stillman. But I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt and looked forward to his next film -- which then appeared on direct-to-video here I think. Then I saw the trailer for his new one "Sidewalks of New York" and wondered what I ever saw in him. In the revival of my old Review! feature I present CNN's Paul Clinton opinion which actually includes the subheading "Derivative filmmaking": "Also no exception is the presence of Burns' greatest weakness -- Burns. In his films Burns' characters are (apparently unwittingly to Burns himself) arrogant, self-involved and smirky. In all his films -- which of course he writes -- he obviously thinks his characters are the most likable, best looking, and intelligent people on screen. Everyone else, especially all the men in his films, are unredeemable jerks."
Blog! What do you do if you're the editorial team for a well known daily newspaper and you find lots of interesting articles from rival newspapers and websites, but you're honour bound not to link to them from your own paper's website? You start your own weblog. The writers of The Guardian's Online section have put together onlineblog using all of the tools available to the rank and file weblogger (Blogger, Blog Back). It's not too clear how much they have to adhere to the newspaper's editorial policy -- is this a personal website run by the people or some viral marketing for the paper? As the blog develops we'll probably see less of the expected self-linking the journalists' own articles at the Online website and more of the sort of personal writing and editorial found on the post from Tuesday November 20th ... marvellous ...
Clubbing Last years' series of Channel 4's 'Faking It' threw up a classical trained musical student who in three weeks was taught to DJ so convincingly that someone who had been in the business for twelve years could not tell, the implication being that this is one of the easier professions. Tell that to the students as the Hong Kong DJ School, were the organisers claim they can creat magic in an even shorter time: "Wen and fellow DJ and business partner Tszpun this month opened Hong Kong’s first DJ Training Centre, a $500,000 facility inside the converted Kwun Tong Ferry Pier, having raised funds by organising Club Progressive parties for up to 10,000 people in the room above. The co-founders and other local DJs intend to pass on the tricks of the turntable trade to a new generation of Paul Van Dyks and Fatboy Slims with a 16-hour course that includes six hours of lectures." [from TotallyHK]
Absence I haven't posted for a few days and it seems wrong -- like a performer not returning from the interval of a show, or reading a book and finding that back is filled with a hundred empty pages. I suppose I'm trying to limit my workload. For a time I was posting each night and the routine was become unbearable -- home from work, eat dinner, watch something on tv for an hour, write the weblog go to bed. I realised I could post more in one day in two or three because I wouldn't be jaded and my work and words would be better (although apparently my sentence structure goes to pot the later I write, and looking back at some previous entries I can see Anna's point). So here we are now. Although you haven't missed much -- just the minutia of life we all experience. And the usual paranoia about the state of the world.