Quiz! Erm...

Which Trainspotting Character Are You?
Music Say it once, say it loud -- I'm a Dido and I'm proud (a 12 by the way).
Art The traditional expectation of a restoration project involves a piece of ancient art -- 'The Last Supper' project springs to mind. But contemporary art, public art in particular is also under threat. Brancusi's 'Endless Common', so tall and so fragile was in danger until a massive preservation project began. This wasn't an easy exercise simply because of scale -- and a lack of clear management initially: "The protraction and delays had nothing to do with politics as understood in the great debates that have divided commissions in the past; rather, they resulted from practical considerations that arose during the project—above all, the realization, in 1999, that the controversial initial restoration scheme proposed by Radu Varia was based on false assumptions. Another factor was doubtless the monument’s location. Even today, T├órgu Jiu is not easily accessible, and it is tempting to think that in 1937 its remoteness facilitated the erection of such an uncompromisingly hermetic monument, far from the conservative mindsets that inhibited commissions in larger centers. One cannot help thinking that many of the restoration’s unhappy moments might have taken a different course in a larger, more public arena."
TV This one is especially for my friend Chris. Erm ... to be blunt -- someone is turning 'Jamie and the Magic Torch' into a movie: "FremantleMedia, which owns the rights to the programme, says it is looking for "an adventurous red-headed boy" aged between five and nine. A dog to play Wordsworth, Jamie's trusty canine sidekick, has already been found. The six-year-old show dog from Suffolk, called Pebbles, will don Wordsworth's nightcap." Oddly, I'm excited about this than I was about 'The Lord of the Rings'.
Toy Which is better?

Elsewhere This discussion about me at Metalk speaks for itself...
Blogger Insider This week: Chris of tangled. His answers to my questions can be found here. And so to my starter for ten:

Do you carry around any guilt?
I feel like a very guilty person. But in any kind of specific way. I'll get a concience about the smallest things, always have. I once said something that I thought was slightly off-colour to someone at school and I agonised about it for hours until I called him late at night to apologise and he hadn't even remembered me saying it. I could sit here in fact list the times when I think I've contributed to the hurt of someone else and I'll still be feeling about about it, even though it happened years ago and I dont even know them anymore.

If you could live in any other place/time and be someone else, where/when/who would that be?
New York, any time really. I feel at home in large, spralling messy metropolises where everything is happening all at once. I'd be happy to be myself I suppose although I'd like to be doing something were I'd be at the centre of it all. Some sort of writer or journalist, or artist.

Where do you get your news?
When I wake up in the morning I watch the news on the TV in my room from the BBC for the first ten minutes. And I'll look at the 24 hours rolling news channel when I get in. And I'll read 'The Guardian' on my way to work. I like to know everything about everything really.

What do you think about the role of the U.S. on the world stage?
Much as I love the US, sometimes it's too big. It feels like the host of a party who won't let his guests get a word in edgeways. I think it's scared to let anyone else get the upper hand or have an equally valid but opposing voice. It's afraid to get advice from anyone, and there is an arrogance that no one else in the world can be trusted with anything. Also it's never been very good at listening to it's own people. There are a lot of intelligent people in the US, but the country as a whole tends seem unremittingly dumb because they are never listened to.

Thoughts on "God," in general or specific?
When asked, I'll tell people I'm a 'non-denominational spiritualist'. This is a nice complicated way of saying 'well I don't bloody know'. I'm not sure I believe in God as some sort of metaphysical being, but I do think there is an order to the universe, a set of rules being adhered to. The similarities between the way trees grow and crystals form are too close to be coincidental. But I do think there is too much emphasis throughout humanity on faith. The recent incidents in the world boil down to a simple concept -- I'm write about God and you're wrong. I do wonder why people can't just accept that we all want to worship God in our own ways?

Someone close to you has done something behind your back, knowing that it would hurt you deeply if you found out. Should they tell you?
Absolutely. Any time you find out it will be surprise, but I'm a very good at taking bad news. I'd want to know immediately so that we can see if we make amends. Nothing is insolvable.

When, and how, did books first make an appearance in your life?
My strongest memory is as a child, and my Dad reading to me. The book I remember most clearly is Masefield's 'The Midnight Folk', but he also worked slowly through The Narnia Stories. The first book I read through by myself was Robert Heinlein's 'Have Space Suit Will Travel' which pretty much set out my pattern of reading for years.

What do you think about the way the country is responding to the recent terror-related events?
I think America's reaction was understandable. It wasn't going to sit on it's hand when it happened, and it showed great restraint initially, when it could have gone in half-cocked without much of a plan. Only now are things becoming foggy, with little definition as to ho are the allies and enemies. George Bush Jr has to be careful that doesn't begin a vendetta to finish some of the jobs his Dad started. The world changed an awful lot during the Clinton era.

How many languages do you speak? Which would you like to learn?
I speak English. And well, that's it. The language teaching at school was pretty raw and unengaging, consisting of weeks and weeks of vocab tests with little interest in trying to teach us anything interesting. I gave it all up when I started my GCSE years. I think I'm mature enough now to take a crack at French, but I don't really have the time or use for it... that said I have learnt the odd word of Greek from my friend Fani ... kalinikta (good bye)

Are "white lies" acceptable?
It depends upon the intent.

What's your first memory of?
I remember being two years old and sitting in a paddling pool in my back garden with a rubber duck. It was a blistering hot day.

Name the most recent book you've read, and your thoughts about it.
Ironically, considering some of these questions, I'm reading 'The Penguin History of the USA' by Hugh Brogan. I went in expecting a broad sweep of history and a straightforward narrative. I've been readying it for a month and haven't even reached the War of Independence. The text in places is very dryly written and difficult to grab hold of. It is accessable but it suffers from too many personalities shuffling through on a page by page basis. Also, it isn't a high number og annecdotes which means that less well known history is difficult to follow. I don't want to drop it after the commitment I've already put in, but I don't really have the concentration at the moment to give it my undivided attention.

Would a medical defeat of death be a good thing?
Personally, yes of course. Who wants to die? But on a global scale, overcrowding would be inevitable. And it could lead to even greater divisions in society as it would no doubt be the province of the rich initially, and leading to even more suppression of the poor.

Is genetic engineering a bad thing by definition?
Not necessarily. But like nuclear engineering, in the wrong hands it could be catastrophic. It would depend upon the application.

Most loved single piece of music?
'Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong.
That Day I feel strangely ambivilant about today. I'm aware that when I go places there isn't some with me holding my hand, but this year it just feels like something other people do. Perhaps it's because for once I'm not in love with someone -- in previous years I've been looking dewey eyed at the girl from a afar or good friends with them just to be around them for much the same reason. But this year no one. I know it's my situation. My life's on pause -- I'm like Scott Campbell in the film 'Singles', forever locked in a room (in my case metaphorically) wigging away, waiting for the next thing to happen. Which doesn't mean to say that if I got a serious valentine later I wouldn't be interested. My shoulder is looking out of practice -- it looks like it needs someone to lean against it soon.

Wowie! You are Redensek! You are techy yet cute, and pretty much all around cool. Everyone loves you! You're fun, popular, and can mold yourself to fit right in to any situation.
Music I'm not surprised that Dido was the richest British female artist last year. The album 'No Angel' is the rarest of things -- an album which speaks to everyone and feels almost perfect. I think Frank Skinner hit the nail on the head the other month when he interviewed her. He said her voice seemed 'lived in' - although he was actually creeping around for 'natural'. She feels like one of us -- our sister, girlfriend, crush, girl we sit opposite on the train every night. When we see her in video she seems very approachable or true in a way other female singer songwriters don't. Even I love Alanis to bits I couldn't imagine having a conversation with her. Not so Dido. It must be strange still touring an album you released originally nearly four years ago -- she must really be itching to record some new material.
Animation Why do commercials always seem to begat the most beautiful of things?
Journalism(ish) Following my review of 'Shallow Hal' yesterday, I'm slightly more interested in this interview with US newsreader Greta Van Susteren who's gained a bit of publicity by going in for a nip and tuck around her eye lids. The implication seems to be that you can't be a serious news journalist without looking younger. In the UK, this certainly isn't the case. On the main channels outside of Sophie Raworth or Sian Williams, most anchorwomen like Anna Ford, Moira Stewart and Kirsty Walk have been in the job for years, the implication being that maturity breeds authority. But those pretty young things on News 24 are sure to filter upwards soon...
Blog! Heather has been gaining a certain amount of cultism throughout the internet with her Friday Five, something which I might start instituting next week.
Architecture The Bronx Zoo houses one of the largest breeding groups of Gorillas in captivity. What better place then to experiment with a new type of zoo housing -- one developed with the animal in mind, the visitor's ability to see them of secondary concern:

'The concept of a zoo has been transformed from a place where people see animals behind barriers to one where the boundaries between people and wild species take the form of streams, thickets, and occasional expansive sheets of glass. It forges a link for visitors between learning about these unique animals and participating in conservation efforts. The design breaks down barriers between the viewer and the viewed, the natural and the man-made. The rain forest is replicated so effectively that both inhabitants and visitors accept it as the real thing. It is a rich, green environment that provides a year-round equatorial climate. Structures and pathways are inconspicuous so the animals thrive without being disturbed by spectators."

After seeing footage of the conditions in East European Zoos for years I found myself unable to go back to one, even though it meant I wouldn't ever see these animals for real. Ifhese new ideas in the presentation of the animals spread to the UK I might be pursuaded to go back; but of course this would cost money and sadly again I fear, the concerns of the captive human seem to be of primary concern.
TV And so 'Friends' will continue on into another season. My feelings about how the show has developed can be found in the archives, although I'll pass judgement on whether this a good idea when I've seen the season currently showing the US. There is always that time in any long running series when it feels like it's run the course and as each new mediocre episode appears all the love we had for the show in the beginning slowly melts away (see Doctor Who, Star Trek: Voyager, 21 Jump Street).
Film First time I've actually been writing something somewhere were I can bore people with my opinion of the Oscar nominations. So here we are. It's odd seeing 'Moulin Rouge' with a Best Picture nod, but of course I'll plum for the Rings. It's a massive technical achieve, bore than that it's a genre picture with substance and it isn't often we see that in this category (previously robbed films include 'The Matrix' and 'Fight Club'). I haven't seen any of the films in the Best Actor category yet but I'd like to Tom Wilkinson up on stage, closely followed by the obvious Best Actress Judi Dench (everyone else seems far too young). In the other acting categories the Supporting Actor ought to be Sir Ian McKellen (the rings only acting nod) who managed to turn a wizard into a believable character without hamming it up; the Supporting Actress should be well any of them (although with three British actresses there, it's bound to go to an American). As to the rest:
Best Animated Film: Where is 'Waking Life'?
Art Direction: Amelie
Cinematography: The Man Who Wasn't There
Costume design: The Rings
Directing: The Rings
Film editing: Momento (surely)
Foreign language film: Amelie
Makeup: The Rings
Music (score): The Rings
Music (song): Vanilla Sky (its only nomination -- shame)
Sound: The Rings
Sound editing: Monster Inc (because it isn't Pearl Harbor)
Visual effects: The Rings
Writing (adapted screenplay): The Rings or Ghost World (again its only nomination)
Writing (original screenplay): Momento (surely).
Anyway, we'll see how all that pans out in March. I am slightly concerned about how all of this attention will effect the editing of the other two film in the Rings Trilogy...if it wins Best Picture, will the pressure to perform be too much?
Food Two tips for Shrove Tuesday. Number one, don't eat too many pancakes; and two, don't eat them with bacon. There are some things which truly are against nature...
Film There are three basic reasons for seeing ‘Shallow Hal’. Jack Black in his first semi-leading role. To fulfil the law written down in the scriptures that everyone must see every film Gwyneth Paltrow makes (even ‘Duets’). And to see a concept that could have been a z-grade mess of broad fat and fart jokes become a rather sweet, fragile little play about how perception can cloud people’s vision of what’s important.

The concept: man who fixates on finding a partner with perfect looks is hypnotised to see the inner beauty of people, so that woman (and men) who society has rejected as being too ugly/fat/both, seem blindingly attractive to him, and us when we see the world through his point of view.

And so it is we have the inevitable scenes of Black dancing with girls he thinks look like cheerleaders but who his best friend (in an iconic turn by Jason Alexander) periodically compares to farmyard animals.

But these scenes, which out of context in the trailer seem insensitive, in context make Alexander’s character, whose perceptions are I’m sure the same as a large proportion of the audience look shallow and in some cases quite evil.

The moments when Paltrow features in so-called ‘fat’ situations (the canoe ride, the dive bomb in to a pool) here become beats in which Black suspects something is wrong. It could by argued that because these sections aren’t laugh out loud funny it makes the film a failure. But these are the only times the film wallows in the situation and are actually quite adorable.

So why this casting? It was important to find someone who doesn’t fit the traditional image of a lead actor. If this had been the eighties it would have been Steve Martin. By selecting Jack Black we are immediately presented with someone we should dislike. After all he’s the actor who ends up the role Jason Alexander has here – the misogynist with little regard for people’s feelings. But with all this baggage, the Faralley Brothers make him blisteringly sympathetic, and we root for him precisely because he is playing against type, because we all know that in this situation he would be us.

The selection Gwyneth is slightly less complex. This is not a character who needs fleshing out too much – the heartache over her size needs to be implied not rammed home. Paltrow has life in her eyes, and her performance an emotional depth which is difficult to define for available up on screen. Even when she’s standing there in that thin mid-riff exposing shirt, we believe that this is someone not used to going out, being in a relationship or bringing someone home to meet her folks.

But what really marks the film out as different is the ending. If this had been the wrong kind of comedy. We would have seen Black chasing about the country looking for the hypnotist to put the spell back on so that he can see his girl they she had always been to him. Instead we have twenty minutes of John Cusack-style soul searching followed by an otherwise text book Hollywood ending, in which Black sees Paltrow’s inner beauty before her looks. This is done without a cutaway to remind us of what thin Gwyneth looked like and with a totally straight face. Adorable. So here we have ‘Shallow Hal’ – a comedy with hidden depths.
Site news I've instituted a new guest book and commenting system. And yes -- I know there are typos on the signing in page but I didn't write it... Why the new guest book? Well - I inadvertantly deleted half of the old one so I thought it best to start from scratch ... I get knocked down, but I get up again, 'cause you're never gonna keep me down ...

Which John Cusack Are You?
Wars Yet another Phantom Menace review I'm afraid, this time from '24framespersecond'. But the title, The Return of the Sambo, explains why I'm posting: "I was completely taken aback by the pageantry of racial burlesques that was paraded on the screen in front of me. Had I not been treated to the movie by a friend, I would have surely walked out in disgust. Why are we allowing Hollywood to thrust upon us portrayals so stereotyped and humiliating that ?Amos and Andy? would seem Shakespearean in comparison? In light of the World Trade Center disaster, I shutter to think of how Arabs will now be portrayed."
Ugh! Everyone has their dirty little secrets -- those things which happen which are so dark, they stay secret. To everyone. Although if you send me an email I'll tell you mine. Heather Lee Roth tells us hers. In brief, it includes an indie rock star, a toilet that won't flush and a waste paper bin. Magic.
Sport I woke up this morning and realised the Winter Olympics had started. I'm usually rabid for large inter-continental sporting events but it looks like this one is going to pass me by. It's also passing the internet by again, as the exclusive extended licensing of TV coverage has meant internet material is still reduced to mainly text sites without footage of the actual events. "The change is that the IOC is willing to stick its toe into the water and take a look at streaming video online," said Steve Klein, co-founder of SportsEditor.com. "It's a breakthrough but it's a breakthrough that won't see any changes until 2008, when the IOC negotiates new contracts." How long?
Theatre Not sure why, but this this feels wrong to me.
Obituary Princess Margaret is dead.
Blog! There are many good things about StarrySheepy!. The writer Meike plays my second favourite instrument, the Viola. It's in a lovely shade of purple. She's my age (actually just a touch older). She cheered me up no end today when I read what she said about this site.
Pop Someone at work today asked me whether I was for Gareth or Will. I stammered and admitted I hadn't the faintest clue who she was on about --until she jogged my memory. I told I was rooting for Will because he was the underdog. Just another thing I should have put a bet on.
People My Mum is a particularly picky film watcher. Apart from our ongoing argument about whether any film should have flashbacks ('I just don't see why they can't have a beginning, middle and an end' she'll say -- can't wait to show her 'Momento'), there are some genre she won't watch. But in the same way there are certain actors which I know will make something a must see film. Gene Hackman is one of these. Now I've never been too much of a Hackman fan. Frankly he mugs his way through Superman and I just wanted to be looking elsewhere during 'Get Shorty'. Oh and during 'Crimson Tide', there is something distinctly irritating about his neck. But I know why my Mum likes him. It's his choice of films. As Fame Tracker points out he's made nearly eighty films and only very few of them have been awful. Which is odd because he's a stallwart -- never actually famous but never out of work: "In fact, rather than shunning subsidiary roles, he's embraced the providence of the stalwart -- the soldier, the senator, the coach, the cop. Of course, it helps that he can play these parts better than anyone else out there; there are few thrills in modern cinema more satisfying than the sight of Gene Hackman losing his temper."
TV Now that's better. I was worried that Greg Dyke was becoming too establishment at the BBC. I needn't have worried. For anyone who missed it, Dyke has announced the introduction of a yellow card throughout the BBC with 'cut the crap' written on in small, friendly letters, which he hopes will be flashed in meetings when a staff member is poo pooed when they come up with a half-original idea. Such a great thing. It's just a pity the public can't get involved. Because I've a list of things I could yellow card the BBC about...

Buffy is off again for three weeks because of sport.

Alright, it's not a long list but it will do for now....
Weather I've never been very good at small talk. But suddenly I feel myself talking about the weather in my weblog. It's just that this morning as I waited for the bus to the station, it rained my favourite kind of rain. I love rain. But this was the kind of rain you coud smell, the kind which is just heavy enough to get you slightly moist, but not wet enough for a soaking. The kind which only appears in daylight and gives the world a dampened glow. I'm not sure if like clouds, there are names for each of the different types of rain, but I'd like to stake my claim on 'refreshing' for this little shower.