Books Whilst some sections of the BBC On-line website are sleek and indispensible, other creek under the burden of having to be a bit like Radio Four. Buried seep within is this piece, which revels under the title 'Star Wars: Science Fiction or Fantasy.' Featuring bizarre colour choices and a Darth Vader in an 'your empire needs you' pose. Why can't it be both? "Underlying his universe is The Force, a mysterious phenomenon which is part karma, part Holy Ghost and part repository of the identity of the dead and which mostly manifests itself as a means to move objects without touching them. Essentially magic, this, along with the setting "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away", situates Star Wars more comfortably within the fantasy genre rather than the sf." Doesn't that seem like a post from a long lost usenet flame war?
News As news gatherers begin to acknowledge there is other news happening, I too find it's possible to write and think about other things. I do agree with sentiments at the end of this article that everything has changed. The world doesn't seem as interested in showbiz types and soap operas -- real life dramas have become much more potent.
Blogs! Still finding it difficult to write anything too intelligible, so I thought I'd present a sample of some of the posts on soem of my favourite blogs over the past few days which have touched me. I'll just list the site name and let their work speak:


The thoughts and stories of the blogging community have been largely ignored by the mainstream media, perhaps because in many cases we find a truer picture.
Life Observed the three minutes silence in the end today anyway -- strange to be doing so in the kind of office those people lost their lives in. Just underlined how lucky we are to be alive.
Infoshare I wanted to add the infoshare include here, but my code is too messy - Infoshare is constantly updating material about the crisis -- complete list and how to include Infoshare on your site can be found at notsosoft. Go, go now.
Meta As always stating the obvious lives up it's name: "No big ideas. No explanations. Just words, pointless words."
Art We are living in surreal times...
Music Every year I say the same thing. 'God, it's the Last Night of the Proms already'. Once the Summer is over, there is a timetable to Christmas and this is always at the beginning. Things will be different this year as the usual pomp and circumstance are being replaced by sombre songs, which underlines how people have no idea how to cope. It would have been difficult to proceed with the show with the usual material so this can only be expected.

It was strange watching the ceremony at Buckingham Palace today, British people who knew the words to 'Land of the Free', standing with their hands on their hearts. Americans seem to be able to show patriotism without straying into nationalism -- I think it's rubbing off and this can only be good thing. After all, just like them, we are generally one nation under some flag.
Blog! One light today was checking my referrer logs and finding the web address, -- thanks for linking me whoever you are. Your blog is wonderful -- with links to things I've never seen before. I'd send you an email, but I can't find an address on your site -- get in touch will you? Tell me about yourself....that's what these comment tags are for...
Life The bus to the station was deathly quiet again this morning. Apart from a baby crying. It is getting easier to live now, although everything is still in the back of my mind. I simply can't understand why this has affected me, whilst my co-workers and people I see about seem to be able to get on with their lives efficiently. My Mum said it was because of 'The way you are.' I wonder what that means. I think I'm mostly filled with forboding about the days and months ahead. Even in Liverpool this will never go away -- everyone is connected somehow. I was one of the few to volunteer to take calls tomorrow during the three minutes silence, for those who don't want to respect it (although I can't imagine who). I think the thing which will stand after this is 'persepective'. Suddenly, all of the little niggling things which seemed really important on Monday just don't seem to matter now. It occured to me earlier I haven't listened to any music since Tuesday morning. I should go do that.
Film At times like these, escapism seems the only release. I almost watched Ferris Beuller's Day Off tonight, then realised how difficult that film will be to watch now. It features ones of my top ten scenes of all time -- the scene set in the Observation Tower at the World Trade Centre as the gang look down through the window to the ground. 13/09/2001 Actually that's incorrect. It's the Sears Tower in Chicago. Thanks for setting me straight Chris. I just found that that other films are being re-edited -- the forthcoming Spiderman film for example. Oh God -- I just thought -- the twin towers are in the logo for the film Manhatten... Then I heard that Swordfish has been pulled from British cinemas because it features the destruction of a building. I've a feeling now it won't be the last...
Music In the midst of everything, PJ Harvey won the Mercury Music Prize.
Blog! This page at Blogger has already been posted everywhere, but it would be difficult to select one story. This is something everyone is talking about.
Journalism Getting the News During the Crisis Yahoo! picture story of people keeping up-to-date with the story via the written world. Like Ian McKewan of The Guardian, I sat with the screen all of yesterday watching the events unfold live. In the evening I followed the attack through this thread at Mefi. You have to wonder if this tragedy would have happened at the World Trade Centre if we were not living in a information saturated age.
Commuter Life The train this morning was almost silent as people read the collected stories of yesterday in their newspapers of choice. Silent except for the chatter of two girls more interested in their lipsticks and shoes, in denial, unable possibly to grasp the enormity of the events we've witnessed. Eventually, the hush consumed them as well. This is something which has effected everybody. Something changed yesterday.
Life There are few words. Strangely not in the mood the write, except to offer my condolences to any American readers, and anyone else effected by this. I've sent a circular email to anyone I know may be a regular reader, but to anyone I don't know -- take care of yourself, on today off all days...
Journalism OJR Citizen Layne: Want My Story? Help Yourself! There has been some discussion throughout the blogging community about plagarism -- is adding a link on your site without mentioning the source stealing intellectual property or just acknowledging a great find? Ken Layne of the Online Journalism Review encountered an even great example, when the majority of a story he wrote about 'Crikey!' an online journalist, appeared at the Business Week website. It's been a well worn tactic in the national newspapers to work up stories which have originally appeared in locals which are only read by a small number of people. But on the internet there is a level playing field - and as Layne points out: "This is the Internet. Take something from an online journalist and call it your own, and that online journalist will find you."
Blog! Today's blog is a bit different. Fran's damnyoumaria appears on your browser with a bold, enigmatic photo. Then each day she offers a glimpse of herself - just snippets - I'd use the phrase 'homeopathic blogging' if I thought I could get away with it - less is more. Apart from today, when she seems to have a lot to get off her chest: "I went and sat in the churchyard at lunchtime, ate a chicken sandwich, and wished I either smoked or believed in God. I felt that I was missing something - my own addiction is tedious and near-impossible to fight. I wanted someone else's, just for a change." I know the feeling...
Books The Guardian (via Booktrack) lists the most resiliant popular fiction in the UK over the past five years. Impressed to see I've only read one of them, Wild Swans by Jung Chang. I've never understood the Terry Pratchett phenomina. Nice chap when I've seen him interviewed, I could never see what so remarkable about the books, overwritten, and a poor man's Douglas Adams, especially the first book which felt like Hitchhiker's in a fantasy setting. Good to see Tolkein in there then. And 'A Brief History of Time' - which seems like one of those books everyone buys but never gets around to reading.
Life Still a bit sniffy. I think this will be one of those colds which could go on until Christmas...
Film No less escapist, yet with even more heart, A Knight's Tale is of all things a Medieval Sports Film. Following roughly the same plot of a hundred baseball films, and as predictable, this is still remarkably entertaining stuff -- more so because it get's by without directly referencing other films (the usual crime). Like Rouge, the contemporary soundtrack does not jar -- although a certain David Bowie track does feel a touch old fashioned in one scene (if such a thing could happen). Apart from the fascinating direction and challenging direction (yes I am saying that with a straight face - for once we have someone who's remembered he's making a film not a video - the general lack of close-ups is invigorating), two things really stand out for me. The scenic effects here are stunning - Medieval London looks the part, and I couldn't help but think of Olivier's 'Henry V' which created a very similar effect so many years ago. And what casting. Heath Ledger is a star in the making, filling his part as though written for him. Mark Addy's surf is again in a role written for him (surely a worthy successor to Roy Kanear in such parts). Paul Bettany also looks set for instant stardom, his Chaucer a potent creation. A potential weak link might have been Shannyn Sossamon, but she fulfills the role of the typical Chaucer ideal of beauty well. Rufus Sewell does his usual. Then in the middle of it all is our Laura Fraser, seemingly set for stardom after 'Small Faces', here again in a supporting role. But she's only 24 - she sparkles as usual here and there's plenty of time. The best Javelin tournament film ever...
Film I re-invigorated mylove of cinema this afternoon. I wasn't expecting to - it just happened. It happened during the opening moments of Moulin Rouge. Here is a film which had stripped away all of the usual mess at the beginning of a film to do with quietly setting up character and plot and was actually giving away the end, throwing us directly into the place. We visit the cinema for escapism and here it was.

Another attempt to create a hip-musical, Rouge is better than most, possibly because rather than taking it’s cues from the Hollywood of the 1940s, we have the ye olde musical exemplified by the strangely long-running tv series ‘The Good Old Days’. Yes the characters are simplistic, but no less simplistic than the average Lloyd-Webber – and at least here don’t feel like constructs of the script – even if in fact they are. As with ‘Romeo and Juliet’, director Baz Lurhmann takes his cues from music video to the point of using late twentieth century pop over more traditional music. Don’t listen to anyone – this works stunningly well. In a scene reminiscent of the balcony scene from the aformentioned play about star-crossed lovers, instead of Shakespeare, we find song lyrics, everything from ‘The Beatles’ to Bowie – hell they even make the work of Elton John seem half decent.

But can they sing? Yes and they can dance a little – and act.

Nicole Kidman has always seemed a slightly anti-sceptic actress. Her performances have always been at the edge of passion – slightly distanced from the material. Paradoxically she made ‘Far and Away’ – her work there was funny and touching despite the accent. In ‘Moulin Rouge’, that Kidman is back, with her comic timing and luminous sadness.

Ewan Mcgreggor should now be a broken actor. Students from the early nineties look into his eyes and see a heroin addict. Kids of the late nineties watch him move and see a lightsaber in his hand. It’s a testament to his skills at an actor that he carries this baggage, but we are still expecting even more from him. A spent force? Not yet.

Even Jim Broadbent manages to work wonders with what could be a one not part, being angry and soft in the same moment at times.

So the film -- loud? Yes. Brash? Certainly. Worth seeing? Go with an open heart.
Life I'm coming down with a cold. Hold on while I sneeze....that's better...while I'm away, might I direct everyone to TV Cream? It's an expansive history of 'cult' British television. You'd be amazed how much of an influence Bagpuss and Mr. Benn had on twentysomethings in the UK today... [more]