News Despite it's overall land mass, Australia has been a bit quite over the past few months in relation to the way the world works now. But John Howard, Prime Minister believes they are doing enough: "My position is if there is any further request, that request will be assessed by me and by the other members of the government on the basis of the nature of the request, the Australian national interest and all of the available information which is the only responsible approach we've got." Sand, dig deep, stick head in hole.
Commerce are opening a Marketplace section here, where users can list their second hand goodies next to the stock on sale at full price on the site. I'm going to register my VHS copy of 'Field of Dreams'. I'll let you know what happens ...
Blog! KookyMojo dreamt about me last night. Or the weblog. I'm not sure. She can't remember what it was about. Damn. Anyway, go and see her -- this is a work of intricate simplicity.
People Upon hearing the news Gwyneth Paltrow is still looking for a man (poor Ben Affleck etc), Empire magazine offers it's top five reasons why she should settle in London over Paris or Berlin:

"3. We have marmite"

Isn't that a reason not to? But seriously, isn't it strange how these people can never find a stable, steady relationship?
Rings The recent Star Wars II trailer has actually done something the other three never could -- make me excited to see that film. It took a whole trailer to do that whereas here we have three pictures from The Twin Towers and Christmas couldn't come quick enough. [related]
The Trains And here we are again: "Mr Byers said today: "It is clear that the performance last autumn was simply not good enough. These figures paint a grim picture of delays and poor performance." Says the man who gets driven everywhere ...
Food The drink I always dream about is Fruitopia, sadly no longer available. Unless you know different: "This is what Citrus Consciousness can do to your tongue-imagine what it can do to your soul."
TV There are certain programme which you watched for years but in hindsight realised were just no good. For about thirty seconds I was fixated with Harry and the Hendersons, perhaps because it was a conventional family sitcom in which the main hook, the beast, was a incidental annoyance. It Ain't Half Hot Mum ran for years (and is still repeated) even though it was unremittingly weak. And Punky Brewster. TV Guide asks What where we thinking? But why single out Cop Rock? Great series ... listen ...
Architecture One of the distinguishing features of Grand Central Station, the giant incongruous clock has been lost in the refit. It seems like a small thing perhaps, but how many commuters must look over for the time expecting it to be there, only to find an electronic screen advertising watches?

"The quibble isn't with Grand Central per se but rather with an attitude toward preservation that leaves no room for the clock or any other anomaly. That mind-set banishes the possibility that disparate (read: tasteless/inappropriate/accu-mulated) elements can actually enrich the experience of a public place. In a recent conversation, Fred Bland--principal of Beyer Blinder Belle, the architectural firm responsible for Grand Central's resurrection--remarked that all that was really done to the station was to "clean it up." Although far more than that was done to improve the building, Grand Central has been purged of its diversity and rendered pure. It is now uniformly tasteful and consistent--in fact, a triumph of good taste. It is so consistent that even its goodness is inconsequential for the lack of any variation."

The recent refitting work at Lime Street Station in Liverpool was a vast undertaking, yet the character of the building has remained. Although it's not clear how far they may have gone if budget permitted. [metafilter]
Titlebar For those of you wondering why Charles Darwin is up there this week, a good article from New Scientist by way of explaination. The reaction of the church as been particularly interesting, stressing that some parts of The Bible, especially that bit at the beginning shouldn't be taken literally ... which personally I've been saying for years (I'm in agreement with the church suddenly-- scary thought). I particularly love that Evolution is still being debated.
Film I’ve never been too much of a fan of family dramas, the patriarch and matriarch, the kids. In the fact the only example of the genre I find tolerable is ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’ and only there because all of the expected characters and emotions are played to knowingly. In ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ we find ourselves in a conventional territory; except here we are in place after the end of the film when the father cuts the turkey at Christmas as his kids look on and his wife looks up at him lovingly. In this film, the central theme seems to be the importance of a guiding father figure – and how the lack of such a shadow can cloud and eventually be the ruination of kids lives. Which is why I don’t like family dramas.

This is not as good as ‘Rushmore’ and it lacks the charm of ‘Bottle Rocket’. In those films we cared for the characters and so what happens to them. Here, there isn’t anyone to hang onto. So although we have a film that has its moments are pure hilarity, there isn’t anything else. We aren’t moved because we’ve been here before. The distinctiveness of the previous films has been replaced by a sort of faux-CoenBrothers.

And yet I’d recommend the film. It is better than anything else you’re likely to see. The sight gags are fantastically inventive, the detailing in the set design and costume stunning. The understatedness works for the most part. Again it’s a Paltrow movie and again we see another neat little performance from her (although we miss her smile – this is a frowning moment for her). Hackman reprises his Lex Luthor persona a lot; Angelica Houston does very little but gives a lot; the Wilson brothers are also good – although Owen looks like he’s just walked off the sat of ‘Shanghai Noon’ which makes him seem slightly incongorous; Ben Stiller seems to think he’s still playing Angry Guy from ‘Friends’; and Danny Glover reminds us why he’s such a great actor, like Houston, making his scenes via his screen presence. [ebert, shuttlecocks]
People The sad decline of Robin Williams from the funniest man on earth to Patch Adams was one of the more depressing sights of the past decade. Now Time Magazine are looking at the state of his art and finding someone who, while no longer cutting edge perhaps, still has the power to make you insane: "Even now--especially now, minutes before show time--he is looking for fresh material. A friend of the promoter's comes backstage wearing a shaggy black coat, and immediately Williams is all over her, making barking noises, "look, she is wearing a poodle," then becoming a haughty French grande dame giving fashion commentary. The woman is taken aback and then starts laughing. The stagehands are laughing. Williams is loosening up the only way he knows how: by cracking other people up."
TV I'm beginning to wonder if anyone on '24' is going to sleep. The average snooze is five hours -- can the show stand a major character disappearing for that length of time? (although it would be fun to see the odd cut away to someone turning over under duvet). Superlatives have been heaped on this show from everywhere, but I do wonder if there is enough plot to sustain the whole series. I've written before in a review of 'As If' about hyper-narratives, the playing of a events at a excellerated speed. There is enough plot in the first three hours to fill a whole series of a lesser show. What is remarkable from a writing perspective is the integration of exposition. More than most shows we have characters standing around telling each other information they already know (and in some cases we know), but we somehow don't care. It's almost as though we're happy that they are sitting down and explaining the plot.

But what of the cast. Kiefer Sutherland needs few introductions; it's extra-ordinary though that unlike to some film actors 'slumming it' he hasn't toned down the range of his performance, which is of feature film quality. It's interesting however that for now his is the most recognisable face -- unless you're a Star Trek fan and you'll be sitting there shouting it's Kassidy Yates, Kassidy Yates. Hiring largely unknown but talented poeple keeps the costs down, but also makes the show easier to watch. We tend to see film and television actors through all of their previous performances. When there isn't anything there, we are likely to care more (although it should pointed out that Elisha Cuthbert (Jack's daughter) has been knocking around TV for years as a reporter for 'Popular Mechanics for Kids' -- a sort of US 'How?').

So yes, we have another show to be excited about. Whether this is a passing infatuation (like 'Party of Five') or a marriage ('Buffy') we'll see. Just hope it doesn't end in divorce ('Friends').
Smile When her face moved - her skin vibrated in the wind. His eyes followed the edges of her mouth as they rose and carried her lips into a smile. He could see each muscle moving in a well rehearsed ballet, where the silence of captivation was the music which was needed. For a moment, she was his world and all within it ...