Film The Guardian published an entire section yesterday dedicated to the state of the British Film Industry. Article after article make a simple point -- there are too many small films being made with very little hope of distribution, and that it makes more sense for first time directors to be cutting their teeth in single TV dramas, whilst established directors can used the money saved together to create intelligent bigger budget films suitable for the mass market. In other words, 'Shakespeare in Love' or that Harry Potter thing paid for with our own money so that the rewards are filter back into our own production system and not straight to Hollywood.
Food The St. Petersberg Times offers a restaurant review and comment on international affairs all rolled into one: "I usually don't much believe in fate or providence, but how else does one explain the fact that I would randomly find myself taking shelter from the sleet in a Russian-Texan restaurant at practically very same time that President Vladimir Putin was tucking into some bar-b-que at U.S. President George W. Bush's Texas ranch? But this is indeed exactly what happened when I wandered into the strangely named By the Spas on Kanal Griboyedova, a new place that has taken over the spot formerly occupied by the Rodeo Bar." I suppose the natural British conclusion would 'The Naked Newsreader' with Jeremy Bowen ... perhaps not ... although it would be good to hear the voice of his producer interjecting during Breakfast News ... 'Jeremy will you stop flirting with Sophie...'
Travel The delights of Korea descibed by Riley Ray Chiorando for Travelmag. It seems that despite my near collision earlier I'm still safer here than in South Korea: "Let's start with the near fatal collisions that the kids here call "crossing the street." As I've previously stated, the chances of ending up a traffic fatality here are just a little bit lower than getting regular mail delivery. To my thinking, the effect on every Korean mother with small kids should be obvious. You get a tube of Krazy Glue the size of a pepperoni stick and physically attach your kids to your apron till age 14. If you can also instill a deep-seeded fear of crosswalks, it would probably help. And yet that's the reason I'm not a Korean mother...aside from the lack of Asian ethnicity, children and a uterus." Which sums up the whole tone of this neat little article with too big writing...
Proverbs Yemeni Proverbs for All Occasions: "He who has no job should search for a camel.", "A destroyer can defeat thousands of earthenware makers." and "My daughter, as long as you keep quiet, much money will paid for your marriage." Clever these Yemenese! [Mefi thread]
Blog! One of the better descriptions of the conditions we live in today and the public's reaction to them can be be found at On Wednesday, he posted this: "Since September 11, I have taken 16 flights. Lemme tell ya, the "random searches" at the airport certainly don't feel random." The responses in his comments box are very telling, as are his measured responses. Having never flown anywhere I can't understand how people must feel as they board planes now (especially after Monday), I just hope that when I do fly, the aviators will do the up most to guard my safety.
People It's with some sadness I heard about the passing away of Charlotte Coleman this morning. In recent years, Charlotte is particularly known for playing Hugh Grant's sister Scarlett in 'Four Weddings and Funeral', but she also turned in a luminous performance as Dylon Morran's wife in the comedy drama 'How Do You Want Me?' on BBC2. But really for a whole generation of kids she was 'Marmalade Atkins' in the only ITV kids show I ever watched. It's going to be strange not having her about the place...
Books The Oprah Book Club has contentiously run roughshod through literary circles, imbalancing the book trade has her finger of instant success points seemingly randomly through all in sundry. A similar effort, if of a slightly smaller scale is currently going on at Amazon. Kent Braithwaite, mystery writer has written some 326 book reviews and managed to mention that he has a book coming out in almost every one. The manitude of his endevour hasn't been lost on Newsweek, who highlight that in some ways this is a kind of surreptitious, fragmented biography -- or weblog I suppose. [via I Love Everything]
The Trams You know that scene at the end of 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off' were our hero has to reach home before his parents, dashing through the gardens and streets of suburbia in his attempt? Well that's my life at six o'clock every night as I try to get to the train station by 6:11pm when my train leaves. In reality, I actually get out of work at 6:03 so in fact I'm dashing a journey of twenty minutes in about eight. It slays me, but it's good exercise. Trouble is, just like Ferris I have to dodge obstacles, cars, people and well, trams. Usually all gos to plan. Not tonight.

No, tonight I was dashing across the road. Now I heard the foghorn, and actually stopped in the middle of the road for a moment to see where it was coming from -- then turned and saw it was directed at me, directed from the tram that was feet away. I managed to dodge backwards onto the pavement but the tram had already halted. The driver looked at me. I looked at him. Then like a loon I entered sorry-mode.

'Sorry!' I shouted. The tram was unmoved. 'Sorry!' Again. This time the tram started to trundle off, but I kept apologising, shouting at this full tram of people some winded some slightly bemused at why this fleece on legs was waving at them and being terribly British. Must watch that next time....
Observation The difference between a weblogger and a columnist is that the latter gets paid for writing this crap ...
Literature Tony Parsons is turned down for a role in the TV adaptation of his own novel: "Filming begins on the BBC television production of my novel, Man and Boy. I was hoping for a small part as a taxi-driver, and have been secretly rehearsing. ‘Is he bothering you, miss?’ ‘Where to, darling?’ I can do that. Gissa role. But the producer tells me that they can’t get the insurance for me to drive the stars around — Ioan Gruffudd as Harry, Natasha Little as Gina and the American actress, Elizabeth Mitchell from ER, as Cyd. Instead I am to play Diner at the Ivy. ‘What’s my motivation in that scene?’ I ask the producer. ‘Well,’ she says, ‘you might get off with Sophie Dahl.’ " Witty little column... which leads me to an observation...
Wars The new teaser poster for Star Wars II is on-line. Although not as iconic as 'The Phantom Menace' with it's small Anakin projecting the shadow of his future self onto a wall, this still has something, and it's clear that the young Jedi's relationship with Padme will be at the centre of this one (the design ethic of the Queen's dress has been toned down somewhat). And if anyone can read that tagline without a Yoda impression... 'Fear is the path to the dark side...'
Cartoonists My History GCSE was dominated by sitting around trying to decipher 'Punch' cartoons from the First World War. OK -- so you've got a giant bear that's being attacked by a bulldog and there seems to be an emu involved somewhere. Huh? Thankfully, newspaper columns are a bit more straightforward, a subverted image of Dubya or Tony looking a bit strange. Steve Bell and Martin Rowson (who both draw for 'The Guardian') expound upon their craft in 3am Magazine: "Not really. Its not an exalted art form. It’s lonely, low, scurrilous and rude. Its supposed to be. But I think you can be serious at the same time as the piss taking. There is a serious point buried in there, somewhere. But the point is also to make people laugh and the best ones are when you do both , when you hit the spot and make people laugh."
Blog! And so to Japan, the country with the white flag with a big red circle on. Rather like the same shops appearing every city (I mean does Birmingham need so many Pizzahuts?), weblogs throughout the world seem to have many of the same links to American culture no matter where they are written -- not so gmtPlus9 -- where for once I feel like I've hopped off the boat into another country. Day after day we find artistic things not seen elsewhere, each link a leap into something fabulous. Only one question -- who's Nancy?
Nature A quick checklist for you. Do you consider yourself to be in the know about green issues? Are you a gardener? Do you pull weeds out? Yes? How dare you -- you're ruining the environment! For shame!
People Wim Wenders is slightly annoying director (although perhaps not as annoying as someone like Michael Bay). He is capable of producing films of incomparable beauty -- 'Paris, Texas' and 'Wings of Desire' and yet recently he succumbed to the disease many of the great directors have -- 'badfilmitis'. All of greats have fallen (Spielberg - AI, Coppolla - Jack (for heavens sake), Scorsese - Goodfellas (controversial), Lucas - you know what), Wender created 'The Million Dollar Hotel', film so bad it only real star Mel Gibson branded it 'dull' -- which is saying something. Judging by this interview, it's clear Double Take magazine didn't know what to do with him either.
Work The place where I work -- my 'workplace' if you will -- there are what are supposed to be motivational posters. A picture of the natural world, seemingly inspired by Andy Goldsworthy is placed in a frame. Above sits a word like 'Team Work' and below is an inspirational quote, written by someone who no doubt works from home and hasn't had any experience of what real work environment is like. Despair, Inc cleverly spoof these posters as though they were written by people who actually know what work is about: "DEMOTIVATION -- Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people." Perfect for any office... [via anna kiss]
Politics Where did this come from? "Preparations are being made for a North West referendum so the people can decide if they want a regional assembly." What now?
Blog! Tinka said lot's of nice things about this weblog yesterday, so I'm going to return the complement today. Her latest post is an interest exploration of 'The Phantom Edit' which underlined something I've noticed in many television shows. It's always difficult to work out why some shows stop being any good, or don't make sense in the context of their original intent. Northern Exposure's general wierdness lessened in later years. The direct film references of Dawson's Creek disappeared. It's because the original creators have left and their replacements, the new writers, are either fans of the show on a road to wishfulfillment, or brought in writers who are using their work on a show a springboard and don't care too much about the characters. Pray that Sorkin and Wheedon never up and leave -- god knows what we'd be left with....
Music When Shea Seger's album "The May Street Project" was released in the UK it failed to be noticed by record buyers despite a heavy fly-postering campaign. Now the disc is released in the her native US, Rolling Stone are interested. To be honest, the girl who should be Dido doesn't seem to have any great statements to make in relation to her music: "I talked to people before in my past musical ventures and personally they wanted to work out, but musically they didn't really understand, because there were so many factors involved," she says. "I knew it was going to be a matter of balance ultimately." So no big gestures, then. Which is a shame as the album (yes I was one of the few) is great little thing, a sort of dance version of Beverly Craven. It's an absolute bargain.
Awards The Emmys, the US equivalent of the Baftas have finally been given out, and here is a full list. The site of Kelsey Grammer grinning like an idiot as he passed through a metal detector probably worth the price of admission alone. Good to see 'The West Wing' being acknowledged all over the place (although incredibly no writing award). I hadn't noted before that Ken Brannagh won something for a mini-series we didn't know exist, or Judy Davis for that matter. There is actually an award for "Cinematography For A Multi-Camera Series" (Will & Grace the winner). But I've been through all seven of those pages and there is a certain other demon filled show which isn't mentioned once. Not even in the technical awards. Not even make-up (won by 'The Sopranos' of all things) ... travesty ... travesty ...
Dating Tara Palmer-Thomkinson has launched a dating agency via her webite. As with everything on Tpt's site I'm not sure how to take this new venture. The search criteria is a but vague -- plumbing for female straight and between 18 and 27 living in Liverpool and we find ... not much. The enigmatic Sexysinger living in South Liverpool somewhere (pretty big place) plus a bunch of people living in random places throughout the country with names like Fluffballz251, Sexbomb and Pingu! (their exclaimation mark). Pass.
Art Since my school art lessons I've been more interested in the production of art than the object or result of the act of creation. I'll read endless books about the making of films and I'll attend endless lectures about the techniques of the artist. Lynne Cerro is unusual example of someone whose works are conventional yet astounding, but for whom the expression with the paint is equally important. Unkind viewers might draw similarities with the famous Athena posters of the 70s and 80s but this isn't just unfair but insulting. As Cerro describes in this article for The Art Magazine: "There is a technique in psychoanalysis called abreaction which is the emotional release experienced by a patient when, in the presence of a safe audience, he puts into words an idea that he has been repressing. The revisiting of these feelings under a supportive environment leads to a transformation in the individual. That is the driving force behind my paintings. Even though my work is usually a person, other than myself, I still considered them to be self portraits." I wish everyone's therapy sessions were this enjoyable.
Aids In everything which has happened in the past few months this year's 'Day Without Weblogs' seems have gotten lost somewhere in there. On December 1st 2001, the proposal is that we webloggers (in fact anyone with a website) publishes just links in relation to the Aids epidemic and all we can to help those still effected by a disease which seems to be largely forgotten by the wider public. The new campaign's website think and link has been up for a while, but somewhat worryingly, at time of writing only twenty people including yours truly have registered which in comparison to last years participants is not looking good. Now I'm sure there are many people who will be joining in but haven't registered yet (I'm sure that's part of the act off support, but anyway). Go -- go now.
Blog! Godfuckingdamnit. Yep. Pretty much.
Reaction Like everyone else I suppose, I was screaming when I first heard, the similarities and co-incidences there for all to see. I was immediately stewing at another terrorist act -- at how invading and bombing the Taliban had been a complete waste of time, my vague guilt about the war abolished in moments. But as the hours move and it appears this was an accident, a mechanical failure out of 'human' hands. I should feel numb. Again all of these people dead. But I don't. I don't feel they way I did hours after the other tragedy. I don't feel helpless because I can't do anything. I don't keep thinking about all the people on the plane as they saw their last moments in the ground, or the people in their houses as they realised that the plane was heading towards them -- I can't see an imagined version of their faces as I did last time. Is the worst tragedy that we've all become used to this. That we can't feel pain this time because the original pain never went away, we just became used to it, the war engendering it into a status quo. How will we all feel if something else happens?
News Plane has crashed into the district of Queens in New York. For those without a television, the Metafilter thread and the Slashdot thread. Take care.