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 cafĂ© 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....