Review 2003:
What do you predict for 2004?

As per Glenn Hoddle "I never make predictions and I never will".
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

More stalkers, the rise of the man boob, a celebrity death, liquid phones, a scandal, fifty midgets storming a castle, lengthy debates on what's best: fruit or puppies, a football game that people talk about, pagers making a comeback, people naming their children after famous theme parks, China puts a man on the moon but by accident. Place yer bets, gentlemen!
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

I think I'll get a driving license. I think I also need my own website and predict I will get someone to build me one.
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

The ten pound note is under the sofa. There will be an earthquake in Somerset. Oh, and a paperback of my novel British Summertime comes out in February!
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

World peace, the end of poverty, hunger and cruelty and that ITV will finally make a primetime comedy that captures the nation's hearts. Now, which one of those is least likely?
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

My team of flying monkeys will come online, allowing me to rule the world through fear and monkey-based mind control; jet-packs and robots doing the housework will appear; my cat's tail won't grow back.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

I'm going to be fine and mobile phones will get smaller.
Eva Katzler, singer

I would like to predict world-wide peace and goodwill and it hurts me to think how far from the truth that will be. More realistically I predict that seminar rooms in developed countries will be filled with 'smart' and 'gyro' technologies.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

First of all I want to look back at my five predictions for 2003. Out of the following list, which one do you think would be the one most likely to happen?
*Eighth season of Buffy, with or with Buffy
*New TV series of Doctor Who
*The more obscure Shakespeare plays get movie versions (especially 'Measure for Measure')
*Less talk of the past, more of the future
Who would have thought the real joke on the list, the one about a Timelord would turn out to be the biggest success? At the start of the year it wasn't clear that Angel would be carrying on that universe - Eliza Druska had yet to find her Tru Calling instead of continuing the franchise in Faith and as far as we knew Alison Hannigan was interested in Willow. Glancing at the Internet Movie Database, there where two new Othellos, and a Hamlet in German. Classic TV showed a seventy year old version of As You Like It in smudgy vision, but that's not really the same thing. All everyone seemed to do all year was talk about the past - it was a year of anniversaries and celebrations of one form or another, which is why this review seems to have fitted in so well. I did have a naive hope that the world wouldn't go completely mad but of course it did, as the responses in this article have proved. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. But I don't want to continue on a pessimistic note, so here are my predictions for 2004.
*A Starbucks will open closer to work
*More crossover in music across Europe. French, Spanish and German music will start to appear in our pop charts as the kids finally start looking for something different.
*There will be new governments in the UK and US. Neither will actually be much better or worse than what we have now.
*A second e-commerce boom will begin, with entrepreneurs learning from the mistakes of the past
*Something really extraordinary is going to happen with long lasting consequences effecting all mankind in a good way for a change
I know I'm hedging my bets with that last one. But peace didn't happen last time so why not try and go one better? We'll see at the end of 2004.
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

I predict I will turn 40 and will continue to act like childish. That's a safe bet. I also predict the death or capture of Osama bin-Laden. It seems to us that nothing is going on with regard to capturing him, but we're not privy to the inner workings of global security. One day, much like yesterday's capture of Saddam, the news will break and then people like me can be smug.
Mike Brown, the pepys project

For 2004 I predict a continuous stream of unecessary death and wanton destruction. That's always a safe bet, esp. with the Republicans in office back in Washington. Also, I predict that in 2004 the mainstream media will distort reality even more than they have in 2003, if possible.
James Longley, Documentary Filmmaker, Gaza Strip

The single question for 2004, the only question that I am really care about, is the defeat of George W. Bush - I am cautiously hopeful, but steeled for four more years of creeping American neofascism. I wouldn't dare predict which way it will go. I only know that it will be decided by people in the center in a few swing states who don't even see the profound danger in Bush that I do.
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

For me, renewed vision, new projects, and lots of fun. For the country, a hard-fought presidential race.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger and Author

Dean to be President.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

The world will continue to bleat plaintively about the evils of George W. Bush's unilateralism/the evils of islamic terrorism. The dollar will continue to slide against the Euro and the Pound, reaching a low of $2 to the pound before the middle of the year (and possibly sinking further). This will cause widespread panic when it becomes apparent to everyone that the British balance of trade deficit is about to go through the ceiling and then the loft, with unpredictable political consequences. China will put another taikonaut into orbit. Lots of Japanese companies will announce lots of new shiny clicky things which I will be unable to buy due to the exchange rate fluctuations. And one of my cats will require dental work.
All of which is highly speculative. What isn't speculative is that I've got three new novels coming out in 2004 (in the US -- only one in the UK), and if I have to sign another page my pen-holding fingers will turn green and smelly from gangrene induced by the rictus-like grip with which I write these days.
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

Sadly, probably some more unnecessary wars and politicians telling lies. Some things never change...
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

I will regret snubbing my employer's astronomical insurance option and choosing instead the one I could truly afford. Return of the King won't win as many Academy Awards as it deserves, and my boyfriend will whine about this for decades to come. The company I work for will either bite the dust entirely, or at the very least lay me off before my next birthday. My bangs (or "fringe," depending on your geographic locale) will finally grow the *!&$% out, making me look less like a child, more like the sultry fringless woman I have become, and I will stop being asked for identification when I buy a bottle of wine. Elvis Costello will get angry about something and release a really good album instead of the schmoopy goo that was "North." The Fox Network will cancel its best show, "Arrested Development." I will continue to shock and offend unsuspecting friends by introducing them to the dubious wonders of the Star Wars Christmas Special.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

Hopefully an end to the war, an economy that is recovering and some great movies!
Greg Mariotti formerly of The Uncool: Cameron Crowe Online and cigarettes & coffee.

Video On Demand moves in. This is going to be absolutely huge - we're just starting to see rollouts of VOD, and anyone can look at it and see why it's an improvement over cable today. VOD will move into news and change how we present it to the public. Advertising moves big bucks away from traditional TV: the fall ratings period was a disaster for the nets. They can't hope to convince advertisers they can still deliver the message to young males. Look for ad dollars to go to the internet and in other unconventional forums. We're all going to be really, really sick of Michael Jackson. We're all going to feel listless.
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Sally Hawkins (who was in The Young Visiters on Boxing Day - she played Jim Broadbent's maid and stole the show) will be a huge star.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

By the dawning of 2005, I will have helped to produce and acted in a short film. I’ll have learnt how to operate a mini-DV camera and possibly learnt a bit about how to direct. Certainly I’ll know much more about the nitty gritty of making films than I do now. I will also have polished up and started marketing my first screenplay and finished a few more first drafts of new scripts. Who knows, maybe I’ll even manage to sell one of them. In the early part of next year I fully intend to move up north to Leeds or Manchester having either successfully restarted my career as a journalist or found myself a job. If I’m honest, I would prefer to start writing for a living again instead of trying to shoehorn myself into a career that doesn’t suit me, but I’ll take what I can get. I’d also like to crawl my way out of debt. I owe so much that it’s either going to take either a lottery win or the sale of a script for me to achieve this. Put it on the list under ‘I should be so lucky’, and we’ll see. If I manage to achieve all that, I will feel that I’ve really got my money’s worth for the year.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

Hmm. Unemployment, possibly.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer of prolific and Whedonesque

Sleep. And not just for me. There's going to be a lot of it going around.
Jeff Blitz, Filmmaker, Amateur Magician, Spellbound

More (or some) periods of rest - a holiday would be nice...
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

365 days. No, wait: 366. 2004 is a leap year. Honestly, I have no idea. I have a great many wishes for things to happen, but I have no sense of anything definite.
MaryAnn Johanson, film critic, FlickFilosopher

Everything will be largely like today, but the date will be different.
Rowan Kerek, editor, The Collective

More of the same.
Drew Curtis, Fark

I'd rather be surprised.
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

Am open. No longer see the world in advance. Perhaps, 'cause no one truly listens.
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

May it bring peace and love and happiness.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

Tomorrow: It starts all over again. Happy New Year!

Review 2003:
Describe the one thing in 2003 which made you stop in your tracks and say under your breath 'That's so cool...'

Something it was a pink mini.
Eva Katzler, Singer

No one thing. I'm generally under impressed by significant things and over impressed by small, sometimes inconsequential things. So here's a list of some: the news that Leslie Grantham was coming back to "EastEnders" (although not the actuality), seeing the graphics you can get on those mobile phone game things, the new edition of the Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, The Hill And Beyond, the kangaroo leg things on that Rolf Harris at the Albert Hall special, getting hold of a copy of Bob Monkhouse's guide to After Dinner Speaking, The Last Detective, Alf's deathbed dream sequence in Home and Away.
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

Russell Davies and Julie Gardner getting to make Doctor Who.
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

Seeing Sir Derek Jacobi in my greenroom
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

When Yoda pulled back his robe and his lightsabre flew into his hand (on DVD, if the film came out last year, I can't remember). Still brings a tear to the eye.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

Well, it took twelve months, but seeing the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies in the theatre, and then Return of the King, had me breathless and goosepimply and I would've been saying "That's so cool" if talking had been allowed. Witnessing the perfect realization of a place that existed so vividly in my imagination was one of the coolest thing ever.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

Bill Viola’s 5 Angels for the Millennium installation.
Rowan Kerek, Editor, The Collective

Of course there are a hundred things which could be listed here, from the stella improvement in CG special effects to the alarm clock I got for Christmas which projects the time onto the ceiling so you can see what time you're being woken up without even moving your head. But overall in terms of how it's made life bareable since March, it would be the FACT centre in Liverpool. Here is an arts centre and cinema which I never thought I would see in my city. While I haven't loved every exhibition which has appeared in the gallery spaces, they have at least been consistently interesting, trying something new. Where else, for example, could you find a piece in which an artist had edited together similar moments from throughout Starsky and Hutch so that you could pull a VCD off the shelf and watch every time Hutch burst into tears or somebody drove through some boxes. Just as I'd all but given up seeing anything not created outside Hollywood, three weeks after it opened I was watching a Kazachstani film about a folk hero. Despite a stoggy patch when the three main screens closed for business it's consistently tried to offer the kind of programme which you'd expect at a London Cinema, a good mix of populist and art house. I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King there the other day with their THX approved sound system, which sounds populist, until you consider that on the small screens they're showing Noi Albinoi about a drop-out from an Icelandic village who dreams of escaping from his remote fjord with the girl from the filling station, as well as seasons of the work of both Jacqui Tati and Yasujiro Ozu. This is a love affair which has only just begun.
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

I went to London Zoo and saw a Slow Loris. It was certainly the coolest animal I have ever seen, and I know I referred to it as such at the time. It's like a cross between a monkey and a bear, and it swaggers so slowly and casually that it is the ultimate jazz beast. Buy one today!
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

Watching my better half destroy Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister, on television. She tied him up in knots and placed the magic figure of £400 million for the cost of the Scottish Parliament in his mouth. It was a brilliant piece of television that reverberated around the land - indeed, it still does.
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

Cameron Crowe being the coolest guy on the planet and getting me tickets to the acoustic Pearl Jam benefit concert in Seattle.
Greg Mariotti formerly of The Uncool: Cameron Crowe Online and cigarettes & coffee.

Saw the French documentary TO BE AND TO HAVE. In it, there's a scene of a family trying to help a young boy do his math homework. One of the best, most fleeting, scenes of the year.
Jeff Blitz, Filmmaker, Amateur Magician, Spellbound

Meeting Irving Fein and interviewing him for Who Wears The Trousers. He was Jack Benny's agent. He also looked after Gracie Allen (my comedy heroine) and George Burns. He had been there and done that before being there and doing that was even invented. Tremendous man.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this because it sounds so geeky but I experienced the most amazing piece of new technology recently. I visited the new Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation at Bradford University where a friend of mine is working. In the seminar room is a wonderful piece of kit - a 'smart' board on which you project the computer screen/video/dvd or whatever but you can also write on it with a marker pen and a programme can translate what you write into typing. Not only that but the computer is controlled by a 'gyro' keyboard and 'gyro' mouse which are wireless and can be used anywhere in the room. And there's a wireless microphone with speakers in the ceiling throughout the room. How wonderful; I hope this becomes the standard kit for all seminar/class rooms.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

The Apple Macintosh eMac which I caught sight of in April... It came home with me. I still say "that's so cool" when I come home each day although the 2GHz Apple G5 is possibly cooler... but my employer doesn't pay the required sums to be the ultimate in cool.
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

I have to pick two: the iTunes store, which is ushering in an era of digital downloads that is revolutionary and the advent of the combo DVD-R and TiVo that will have an equally big effect on the television industry. Watch what you want, archive it on a DVD. The perfect device.
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Sam the Cat: a purring, breathing fake cat on
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

In theory, I've been drooling over the ipod ever since I first heard about it although I still don't have one and am unlikely to get one any time soon. Unless Santa wins the lottery. Ditto for the Power Mac G5. In reality, it was a pair of sunglasses that caught my attention this year. Whilst attempting to buy some Dolce & Gabbana sunnies, it was suggested to me that I should try on another pair... a different pair... a black pair... a pair with the word 'Neo' inscribed on the inside of one arm, and 'The Matrix' on the other. Oh, boy, did that cause me a degree of internal conflict. On the one hand, they are very, very cool sunnies. On the other hand, oh my god, what a terribly fanboy thing to do. It took me an hour of deliberations as to the relative merits of Dolce & Gabbana vs. official Matrix, but eventually Neo won. I still look at them and think 'Oh, they're just so cool...', so I guess I made the right decision.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

As I see shiny clicky things every 24 hours and go "DING! That is so cool! I need that!" it's kinda hard to single one out. (But currently I'm drooling copiously over my Treo 600 smartphone.) Broadening the focus a bit, I was at Turnhouse Airport (Edinburgh) in the viewing area beside the runway when the last Concorde to visit Scotland landed -- and took off again, leaving for good. It may not be new, and it may be horrendously expensive to run, and it may not be flying any more, but it's *still* cool.
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

Driving through Heathrow Airport--on the wrong side of the road.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger and Author

SpamAssassin is the first thing to come to mind, though there are probably more. My new-to-me digital camera is another (it's so unGeeky of me to be so disinterested in anything more than my little 1.6 mpx camera)
Mike Brown, the pepys project

Various geographic information system technologies for producing maps, and various other technologies for stitching images together into mosaics and panoramas have absorbed me this year.... plus, I don't live in LA anymore!
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

Being awarded a fellowship from the Houston Center for Photography.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

My name in the credits of the 'In America' soundtrack CD.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer, prolific and Whedonesque

When President Bush, touched down in Bagdad. Also, finding Saddam. Also the Arnold
campaign was a "wow" moment, when it all came together and he won.
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

Hey, when I think something's cool, I don't say so under my breath -- I say it out loud. :-> The thing I saw this year that made me say "Oh, cool!" the loudest has got to be seeing Mars so big and red in the sky all summer, and then seeing it even bigger through a good pair of binoculars.
MaryAnn Johanson, Film Critic, FlickFilosopher

That there will be two mars landers hitting Mars within the next month. I'm sure there was something other than that but that's all I can think of at the moment.
Drew Curtis, Fark

I've barely been able to find a way to eat Thai food during 2003, let alone say "That's so cool..." under my breath. The food in Iraq is okay, but it mostly involves roasted meat on a spit. This is likely to have lasting consequences for me when I die of heart-failure at 32.
Actually, I take it back. The coolest thing I experienced in 2003 were the mountains of eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. Easily the most beautiful place I have ever been. Icy mountain streams bursting out of the cliffs and gurgling along past wild grapes and pomegranates -- a real Garden of Eden -- and not a western tourist for hundreds of kilometers around. Might be a good place to drop a microdot. To be honest, it's really hard to think of something great that happened in 2003. All the good things seem out-weighed by tragedy. For me the year has been full of anxiety and worries and nightmares springing to life, threatening to take over my world to such a degree that I forget to eat and wash myself. My country (the U.S.) has fallen so far down the rabbit hole that I'm almost afraid to travel to it -- I've been abroad for the entire year, furtively looking around in Europe and South America for other countries I can permanently move to when Bush is elected for a second spectacular term in office. On the upside, I'm doing exactly what I want (making documentaries) about things I think are important -- and I've been able to maintain total independence so I don't have to listen to anyone while I do it. How many people are so lucky?
James Longley, Documentary Filmmaker, Gaza Strip

This takes me back to my brother's situation. Doctors informed us that the area of the brain that was affected by the injuries, would cause him, most likely, to loose speech and movement. As i was visiting him one day, at the neuro-rehabilitation clinic, i thought i heard him say something to our other brother. I didn't leave his side until i made sure, i wasn't hallucinating. He was, in fact, talking to us and one of the first things he said was, my name, Celeste. THAT! was so cool....
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

New input:

There is a little shop in Neal's Passage in London called Bionyc. They do 'made-to-order' graffiti.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

Tomorrow: What do you predict for 2004?

Review 2003:
Who was the best new person you met in 2003 and what was the first thing you talked about?

It occurs to me that all of us probably meet many interesting people everyday. We sit next to them on the bus or train, we walk past them on our way to work, they sell us our lunch or see them in the lift at work. But we never have time to stop and talk, always rushing about, probably missing out on learning something new or making a brilliant new friend. But to choose that smashing girl who works in Boots would be missing the point. So instead I'll say Nancy from my World Music course, because she's studying accountancy by day so that she can help those who have none when she graduates, which sounds inspiring to me.
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

I've got to know the inhabitants of my own village much better this year, and so I'd nominate the fellow members of the village Arts Festival team, whose company I really enjoy down the pub, and with whom I'm putting together something really satisfying. Freelancers don't get to organise very often, and this fulfills that need.
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

That's an awkward question, given the possibility that in choosing I may hurt the feelings of someone else. Generally speaking, thanks to my online world I've met a number of great people and while I can't remember any specific discussions I know I've enjoyed talking to each of them
individually and as a group on my site.
Mike Brown, the pepys project

I met some great folks from New Jersey while waiting for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. We talked about sports, Disneyland and films. They were extremely friendly.
Greg Mariotti formerly of The Uncool: Cameron Crowe Online and cigarettes & coffee.

I got to meet the Brothers Chaps from We talked about beer.
Drew Curtis, Fark

Despite living as a virtual hermit due to being somewhat fiscally challenged this year, I have nevertheless met some very cool people. In January I met up with a whole bunch of fellow Elliott Smith fans whom I'd come to know via a messageboard called Sweet Addy. One of the regulars, Mike, held his 40th birthday party in Manchester and 32 Sweet Addiers went up for the party. I'd met only two of them once, yet I was warmly welcomed by the other 30. We had such a fantastic time, talking, embarrassing Mike at his local pub by singing Happy Birthday somewhat raucously, and playing Elliott's songs late into the night on acoustic guitar. A truly great party. However, if I'm forced to pick just one person, well, that would have to be Vincent Holland-Keen. We met online on Zoetrope at the beginning of August and the first thing I think we spoke about was his script for a short film, Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News. Since then we've corresponded quite a bit, met in person, and now I'm helping co-produce his film and he's helping me iron out the wrinkles in my script. I'm absolutely sure that I'll cop flack for saying this, but Vince is not only a deeply cool person, but also very a talented writer whom I suspect will eventually be horrifically successful. His acting sucks arse, though.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

That person would be my new friend, Canela. The first thing we talked about was, how much the concept of family, is changing in different parts of the world.
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

I rediscovered a friend I'd lost contact with. We talked about the past 5 years.
Eva Katzler, singer

Stephen Done, curator of Liverpool Football Club's museum at Anfield. Our conversation immediately and wholly consisted of the life, times and effect of Bill Shankly.
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

Bill Viola ... we didn’t 'talk' as such, well, he did, at me, or more accurately, at us.
Rowan Kerek, editor, The Collective

Andrei Codrescu. Our hope for Romania.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

This honor would have to go to my new coworker, Rachel, who is witty and wise beyond her young years. She has this odd habit of interrogating people: I think that she has a sort of imaginary life where she believes she's a talk-show host. I think the first conversation we ever had was related to her asking, "If you had to choose between having a problem with uncontrollable constant flatulence, or random and unpredictable projectile vomiting, which would you choose and why?" Never a dull moment with Rachel. She makes work a joy, and she just generally rocks.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

Warren Ellis. Palm Pilots and mobile blogging.
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

I'm going to throw a shoutout here to a fellow blogger - Rex Sorgatz - who runs (He's an IBS guy in Minneapolis.) I met Rex at an RTNDF gathering in DC this year, and we instantly argued over nearly every aspect of new media. But he has a vision. I think we disagreed on everything except getting another round of drinks. Great guy - more cool and hip than I ever hope to be. I check out his site every day - I'm a fan. I met some famous people, too, but they weren't nearly as interesting or insightful.
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Michael Buffington. He had us in stitches telling stories about his website, Stink Factor.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger and Author

I was introduced to the artist Yinka Shonibare by his girl-friend, Maxa Zoller, and all we went for lunch together. We started off by mentioning that I had named my dog after his girl-friend and I promised that if ever Maxa the dog got a male companion I would call it Yinka.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

Probably the author Dan Rhodes, and it was probably about how one of our mutual friends had tried to pick up a particularly gorgeous girl that night by explaining, in depth the rules of bridge. Either him or a lady called Lisa Thomas, who runs a comedy management agency, and has become a bit of a big sister. I think we talked about how stupid my haircut was.
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

Sarah MacCormick, who became my agent in May this year. The first thing we talked about was a performance I gave at age 18 which by a strange twist of fate, Sarah had seen. If that isn't destiny calling I don't know what is.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

Mil Millington; I met him to interview him about his book. The first thing we discussed was smoking - I asked if he minded if I smoked, he pulled out a packet of fags of the same brand as mine and we chain-smoked through the interview. We've subsequently become mates, which is cool cos he's a sweetie.
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

Ostentatious I know, but it has to be Dudley "Tinker" Sutton, who I interviewed along with a couple of other TV Creamers during the Edinburgh Festival. What a truly smashing chap. Unfortunately the first thing we talked about was about the least interesting thing we discussed. Given that we had done no preparation, and knew very little about his career (Children's Film Foundation, token heavy in the 1970s, Tinker in Lovejoy) the TV Cream contingent resolved to simply ask him "what brings you to the Edinburgh Festival" followed by "and what are you doing next", in the hope that natural conversation would thence spew forth. And spew forth it did. For an hour, Dudley kept us captivated with his wit, anecdotes and general low opinion of Ian McShane.
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

Nadine Cox (my now girlfriend) - we talked about West End theatre.
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

Every day my two children, 3 and 6, really are new people, and each conversation with them is an awakening. We talk about airplanes, books and what it is like to be a fish.
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

I met my niece, Rachel, in May. She was just about five months old. We didn't really discuss much, as you can imagine, but we had some meaningful laughter and a few moments of one-sided hideous screaming.
Jeff Blitz, Filmmaker, Amateur Magician, Spellbound

I met many 'best' people this year, including new housemates, colleagues and soulmates. First conversations were usually about places, films, being ill and food.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

That would have to be the aforementioned niece, Victoria, and she didn't have a lot to say when I met her the day after she was born. But we did exchange a skeptical look in which she seemed to say "Can you believe this crap?" and I nodded sympathetically.
MaryAnn Johanson, Film Critic, FlickFilosopher

Sorry, 'bout that, am kinda hidden away in HW (Hollywood).
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

Best new person (sounds like a BRIT Award).... I've met no one this year who is worthy of a mention... I'm thinking very hard and if there was someone I'd be detailing them now... No, sorry, not enough Networking this season from me..
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

Sadly, nobody.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer, prolific and Whedonesque

I remained unimpressed by everyone new I met this year. You all really must try harder in 2004.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

Tomorrow: Describe the one thing in 2003 which made you stop in your tracks and say under your breath 'That's so cool...'

Review 2003:
In general, which one thing in 2003 will have the most lasting consequences?

The war in Iraq.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

I take it you mean "one thing in news and media" rather than "one thing in general." If it's one thing in general, it's the Iraq war. This will have consequences for decades to come. If it's one thing in news, then it's Embedded Reporting. We now have an up-close look at war. It wasn't perfect, it was too "rah-rah" sometimes - but we followed the war in real time.
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Unfortunately I'd have to say, war, is the one that will fit right in this category. The chaos around the world will leave scars for life.
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

The removal of Saddam Hussein from power (though any tyrant would have suited the purpose). It may seem naive, but there is every reason to believe that we eventually will live in a world a la Star Trek, with no borders, no wars and while there will always be those who threaten the peace, their numbers will be fewer.
Mike Brown, the pepys project

For me, the baby. For all of us, probably the Iraq invasion.
Drew Curtis, Fark

The war.
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

I suppose you mean not the one thing that happened to me personally but that happened in the world at large. I think without question that has to be the U.S.'s unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation on false pretenses and without the support of the rest of the world. I worry about the precedent that was set with that action, and I think the world is a more dangerous place than it was before that happened.
MaryAnn Johanson, Film Critic, FlickFilosopher

War. What else need be said?
Jeff Blitz, filmmaker, amateur magician, Spellbound

It's a toss-up between the war and the rise in popularity of the drawstring teabag.
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

The election of Arnie to public office - the consequences are more frightening than that of the Iraq invasion. Having lived in California for three years, I just don't get it. Neither do Californians apparently.
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

In terms of global consequences, I'm going to be optimistic and say that I think that President Bush's HIV/AIDS initiative, the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, will be the thing with the longest-reaching and lasting effects from his entire tenure. As far as things with consequences in the personal arena, I'd like to hope that the soul-searching and getting-off-of-my-sagging-bottom that I managed to do in 2003 is a lasting thing that will consequently end someday with me no longer qualifying for "Fat Lady In The Circus Sideshow" as a valid career option.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

For me - surviving
Rowan Kerek, Editor, The Collective

I suppose learning to drive. It took me a couple of attempts, and I was glad to pass, but I can't say I at all enjoy driving. Given that I live in pretty much the centre of Glasgow, almost every journey throws up some kind of hazard to shake your confidence just when you think you're finally getting the hang of it. Still, I have to say I genuinely love driving to the big Tescos at midnight on a Friday and wandering around the empty aisles doing the weekly big shop.
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

Chopping the end of my cat's tail in the back door. Unlike certain lizards, cats' tails don't grow back, so the consequence of that action should be around for at least a decade. It was an accident, by the way.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

My mother died on 3 February 2003.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

I resolved and began to do work that I truly love.
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

My life laundry. I was always something of a hoarder. Going through the process of getting rid of so much stuff was very cathartic, if not actually relaxing. But working out which videos and books to get rid of meant I was at times justifying my taste in something. In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby writes about how you're more than what you like. Effectively what you like is not what you're like. Did having every series of Star Trek on video define who I was in someway and did the wholesale ditching of the lot via twenty handy bin bags have some other symbolism? I finally decided not to think about it and just enjoy all the space I suddenly had about the place.
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

On a personal level, the obvious thing to say here would be the collapse of my business. I'm going to be paying that back for a very long time, but something else happened this year that I hope will eventually be seen to eclipse that little hiccup quite completely. I wrote the first draft of my first screenplay and started a second. I got good reviews on Zoetrope, a web site for people interested in the creative aspects of the film industry, for my first foray into screenwriting. That pleased me greatly, but I'm determined that the second draft will be even better. I've been writing professionally and for fun for years, usually features, interviews, prose, random copy for corporate employers, but I rarely manage to finish anything that doesn't involve an editor, a deadline and payment. Now, though, I feel as if I have finally found a format within which I am happy - there's something particularly sexy about writing the blueprint for a future feature film. It's a format I feel very comfortable in and I intend to continue writing screenplays until someone somewhere pays me money to stop.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

Probably the giving-up-the-day-job-to-write-fiction thing. (As Karen and I had been living together for a decade before getting married, that's not going to change things a huge amount for us.)
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

Possibly splitting with my partner of five and a half years, but more likely, the writing career really taking off and doing odds and sods of TV and radio, that will hopefully make it easier for me to get a publishing deal.
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

The production of Shada for BBC
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

The publication of the book U2 Live - A Concert Documentary. I took over authorship from an old friend who passed away in 2002.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer of prolific and Whedonesque

Hopefully, one of the (items I listed) above, but writers don't like talking about commissioned stuff until it's definitely going to be made.
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

Finding out I have to run the London Marathon. I hate it now but I'm thinking it might leave me with a lifetime of running for pleasure.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

I completed a book proposal which will dictate my next two years--if I decide to submit it. And I started a couple of projects that are very close to my heart. Nothing I'm ready to talk about, but they should make for an involving and satisfying 2004.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger, Author, and Woman of Mystery

I have an inking that it is about to happen.
Eva Katzler, singer

I'll tell you in a few years.
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

Trying to bring a show to the Fringe, which unfortunately had to cancelled due to unforeseen cicumstances. Consequences include debts, days and nights of problem solving and an intense learning process.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

Tomorrow: Who was the best new person you met in 2003 and what was the first thing you talked about?

Review 2003:
What was the best thing which happened to you in 2003?

My baby boy Storm Alexander was born 7/18.
Drew Curtis, Fark

Probably the birth of my niece, Victoria, in May. She's the first offspring of me and my siblings, and I was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing this brand-new person whom I just knew, in some deep-down visceral way, belonged to me, was a little bit a part of me. I never expected anything like that. Plus, she kinda looks like me, which is neat. I can't wait to be a bad influence on her as she grows up.
MaryAnn Johanson, Film Critic, FlickFilosopher

Taking my boy to Disneyland for the first time. What a treat to see it through his eyes!
Greg Mariotti formerly of The Uncool: Cameron Crowe Online and cigarettes & coffee.

A couple of hours spent roaming the rockpools at Marsden (between Sunderland and South Shields) in July was the best moment of my year. It was a perfect summer's day and I was with my friend Suzy, her 18-month old son, Luke and my dog, Maxa. There was hardly anyone else there. It was Luke's first time on the beach and he was fascinated with everything - the sand, seaweed, water, stones, little crabs and Maxa's ball. There was lots for Maxa to sniff and her ball carried far when thrown, bouncing beautifully on the wet sand. I will remember it for years to come. A perfect moment.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

The best thing would have to be the fact that, my oldest brother, who was involved in an accident with his motorcycle, exactly a year ago, is still recovering. He suffered severe injuries to his skull and wasn't expected to survive at all. After 8 months of treatment, and nothing but hopes and prayers, he recovered speech and some movement. In a few days we'll have him home for Christmas.
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

Doctor Who coming back? Hmmm. Probably going to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday. Having been once before when I was about 13, my previous memories of this great city consisted of turning up early in the morning, having a croissant, trying in vain to persuade my dad to stop at the interesting looking comic shop, and then getting a seriously bad case of the shits. However, there was one other memory that almost literally stood out from that first trip - the Eiffel Tower. Not that I am particularly bothered about it most of the time, but I found that when I was actually in Paris it seemed to beckon like a siren. The same was true on the return visit. Consequently on the actual day of my birthday, my girlfriend and I made it to the top of the tower and were able to look out over the city on a scorching hot day, and mentally hum Dudley Simpson piano music (well I did anyway). It was nice to tie such a specific memory to what is - I suppose - a genuine milestone in my life.
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

Celebrating my 40th in London among friends. A very happy moment.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer, prolific and Whedonesque

Following our move to Portland Oregon in 2002, 2003 as been a year of settling into our home, and the change has been just wonderful. Almost every day I still think to myself "wow, this is so cool! I don't live in Los Angeles anymore!"
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

Living in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

There are a few things that I did in 2003 that I'm pretty chuffed with, but if I'm going to be pedantically semantic about it, the best thing to happen to me this year was my trip to New York in October. I had been planning a two week holiday to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle in July, but that got cancelled when my life imploded. Later in the year a friend of mine, Stuart, decided that it would be cool to go and see Eddie Izzard play at the City Center in New York in October. He booked the tickets and the hotel, and sorted out the travel arrangements. All I had to do was pack and turn up. It was, without a doubt, one of the best weekends of the year, and not entirely because it was the first time I'd left the country in 14 years. New York is just an amazing city. Manhattan took my breath away. I loved it, loved every last second of it. Even if we did stay in a hotel which really should have been called 'The Nylon Plaza'. And, of course, Eddie was spectacular. Dressed in a skirt and bodice with his very own chicken fillets, he looked utterly gorgeous as he always does. I laughed so much I was in danger of rupturing a spleen or other anonymous organ. It was an absolutely awesome weekend.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

I went to Vienna to give a keynote speech at the Blogtalk Conference. It was my first trip to Europe, and I've always wanted to go.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger and Author

The best thing which happened to me personally was ... Spending 3 weeks travelling round Spanish Villages in the heat wave in August with Julie, my girlfriend, and getting a hugely enviable tan and achieving a much needed state of total relaxation. I then had to return to work but was over the moon to hear I had won a trip (5*, all expenses paid) to Montreaux, Geneva. I went, I ate, I drank, I even danced a little at a Sveedish DISCO and made a few valuable contacts within the business.
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

I don't know exactly how to answer the 2003 questions -- my entire year has been spent either in Iraq or stuck on the Jordanian/Iraqi border or in Amman (the world's dullest city) or waiting out the U.S. invasion of Iraq in Cairo -- and it's been such an obsession (I'm filming a documentary series in Iraq now) that I haven't really been able to think about anything else.
James Longley, Documentary Filmmaker, Gaza Strip

At the beginning of the year I didn't dream that my answer to a question like that would be a trip to Leeds. I'd all planned to go to London, finally see Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Britain and see a movie at the Odeon Leicester Square. But weird finances caused a change in those plans. But I'd never really gotten over my time at University, forever thinking about how I could have done better, enjoyed the experience more, have more stories to tell. But ten years later, standing in the university hall and outside the two houses that followed I realized that actually it was exactly what it should have been, for me. If it had been all lovely I might have left with an inability to see the big picture and would missed those pieces I really did enjoy. I might chide myself for not going out on this night or that night, or following my heart instead of my head at other times, but perhaps what followed could have scared me away from taking the risks I took later as a reaction to my timidness then and missed these later experiences. I mostly learnt that everything balances itself out .... eventually ....
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

Well, I have to throw out the first pitch and say "the health and well-being of my family." It's corny - but true. That, and the return of Opus to the comic pages. Where HAS he been for the last 10 years?
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Continued to live in a peaceful country, without fear of being blown up in a restaurant, kidnapped, stopped at a police check, tortured, shot as I stood outside my house; in a country that has clean water, clean streets, clean air, and grocery stores filled with food; a country that enjoys a great standard of living because it's political system, while not perfect, is by far the best.
Mike Brown, the pepys project

That's easy: it's a tie between two things. The sharp pointy one with the time stamp: I got married, on June 28th, to my long-term partner. The long blunt thing that took forever: I finally gave up the day job to devote my time to writing fiction.
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

My freelance career really taking off so that I can finally support myself purely on the money I make from writing. I was particularly chuffed when my writing started getting syndicated to Russia and the US, cos it's cool having articles published in countries I haven't even been to.
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

Have to say, seein' the credits for my Santa Baby in Party Monster.
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

My best moment in 2003 was sitting in my kitchen and listening to Who Wears The Trousers going out on Radio 4. It took me over a year to research and write. It was my first solo series commission and I was very happy with how it turned out. It was, in every sense, a job well done.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

Working with Sir Derek Jacobi.
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

There are many, but recording with Terry Hall for his new album was a definite highlight.
Eva Katzler, Singer

Being invited to contribute to the BBC's 100 Greatest sitcoms programme. Tragically, nothing came of it, so my robust and eloquent defence of the peerless Love Thy Neighbour will remain unspoken to the Great British public. Bah, humbug!
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

A number of lovely commissions I got towards the end of the year. I'm now working largely on my own stuff, and entirely on material I enjoy, which is very satisfying, and makes up for a bit of a creative desert this summer. I also found editing the Bernice anthology Life During Wartime really satisfying.
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

Probably my first solo book, Join Me, coming out - and then the fact that people liked it. Apart from the reviewer who said 'this is a pointless book by a pointless man', which made me laugh so much tea came out of my nose.
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

A high school kid in Maryland sent me the term paper he wrote on Spellbound. Man, a term paper has never given anyone such pleasure. Left me feeling proud and weird and tingly.
Jeff Blitz, Filmmaker, Amateur Magician, Spellbound

I got some more writing work, and might even get paid for some of it one day. There is more to me than being an office bod after all (please god). I also found a tenner in Asda on a day when all I had in the world was £10. My personal fortune doubled in a day.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

I got to see my grandma again. She's 93, I hadn't seen her in twenty years, and to reconnect with her was just the greatest gift. Drinking wine in my mother's stuffy basement, with all of my uncles and aunts, listening to stories I'd long forgotten, and stories about her early life that I'd never known; it was like something out of a movie, and it may have been the best time I've had in decades, let alone 2003. I get all misty just thinking about it. She is an amazing woman who has lived a interesting life and I love her so madly. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

I survived.
Rowan Kerek, Editor, The Collective

New input:

After more than a year of being unemployed, working for no money and doing jobs you didn't go to uni for, the best thing was that I finally found work, which I'm really looking forward to. I am moving to Scotland next week and I have no idea what its gonna be like.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

Tomorrow: In general, which one thing in 2003 will have the most lasting consequences?

Review 2003: Introduction.

One two. Two zeros. One three. Reduced to its bare bones, the figure 2003 isn't all that special. In fact, nestled between the palindromic 2002 and the multiple friendly 2004 it's quite dull really. At the turn of the year it seemed to lack significance as well. With the debates over the true millennium and the disappointing tragedy of the time that followed, it's not hard to see why few people even thought anything truly significant would happen this year. On a personal level, with all the excitement of the Commonwealth Games and Paris behind me this would be the morning after the wild night before, in which reality again took the place of fantasy and I would be enduring the ongoing grind of work.

But this first complete year of the weblog has been busy, talking about events happening globally and personally. The world has again, at first hand, watched cause and effect in action, choices and actions piling on top of one another to the extent that our news programmes are a patchwork of anger and mayhem. The writing here has mixed the elation of the lifting cloud of the past with the crushing realization that my future really starts next year and I'm going to be making choices which could effect the rest of my life.

The perfect time then to take stock, pitch camp and consider the future. Unlike previous festive seasons where I've written about the many things I've been drawn to during the year I thought I would let the people I've met online or whose work I've written about and enjoyed over the past twelve months talk about how it was for them. I sent each contributor five questions and I'll be publishing their responses in the days leading up to new leap year. Their answers are often funny, usually startling and incredibly poignant. They prove that no matter how mundane you think your life is sometimes, someone else, somewhere else is doing something incredible, and that you're just waiting your turn. I hope you enjoy this stroll through the recent past and if something sparks your interest or you want to offer your own answers you can email at the usual address, feelinglistless (at) btopenworld (dot) com.

Tomorrow: What was the best thing which happened to you personally in 2003?
That Day Apparently there is this festival called Christmas. Everybody is talking about it. Sounds like it could be big. I hope everyone enjoys the thing while it lasts. It could take at least a year to happen again ...
Radio That said, I prefer the BBC News over everyone else (well I'm a very contradictory person) so I'm interested to see that Radio 4's The Today Programme is getting some guest editors including Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Professor Stephen Hawking. I hope they also get to present a bit as well -- listening to Hawking is always a mesmerising experience.
TV Quick TV pick. A friend recommends you watch The Young Visiters on BBC1 on Boxing Day. It apparently features a standout performance from someone called Sally Hawkins (who was previously in the Mike Leigh film All or Nothing.) Looking forward to it.
TV The day was only marred in fact by the smirksome attitude throughout the day of some presenters to this story of a man who was eaten by a crocodile in Australia. For example, at 2pm after the delivering the news, Philip Hayton turned to the sports presenter and asked (and I'm paraphrasing) 'So are there many crocodiles in the Premiership?' Erm hello, a man died. In a vicious attack. While his friends could do nothing and watch. And you're not Chris Morris. If this is the new-look BBC News 24, can we have the old one back please, they seemed kinder for all the technical hitches ....
Life My first full weekday at come in months true to the last couple of days felt like a Saturday (see previous post). Watched In The Bleak Midwinter Watched the documentary about The Sex Pistols, The Filfth and the Fury. My friend Chris visited with my first Christmas presents (thanks Chris!). Just a nice, relaxing post work, pre-Christmas day.
Life This has been a working weekend with an early morning start. Here I am, then, at 10:27 uttery shattered and thinking about going to bed. The other problem is that it feels like mid week -- a Wednesday, so I am totally confused. Tomorrow should then feel like a Thursday, and since, like Arthur Dent I can never get the hang of Thursdays that should be a great start to Christmas week.
History The title is utterly evocative. George Washington: Patriot, President, Planter and Purveyor of Distilled Spirits.
Music Another one for the long list of pointless cover versions. Amy Studt covers All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow and somehow manages to sap all of the cool out of it. Loses even further points by setting the video in a diner even though the narrative of the lyrics is all about a bar -- in other words they like the chorus, very catchy, but all those other lyrics are just filler. Actually they're the point of the song. [link requires Real One]
Buffy(ish) For anyone registered with The New York Times here is an interesting piece about fan made special features for DVDs, in this case the Joss Whedon series Firefly. At one point, the man himself having viewed the fans efforts said he once thought about putting out a rival commentary for Alien Resurection (for which he wrote the original script) but thought better of it in case he got sued. Shame. But there is some milage in this no doubt. [via Whedonesque]
Film Steve Rosenblum has been working in film editing for nearly twenty years, and with exception such as X-Men he's collaborated almost exclusively with Ed Zwick, he of Glory, The Siege and of course thirtysomething Here he talks to MovieMaker Magazine about that collaboration and working on the new film The Last Samurai, and proving my long held belief that editors hardly ever look at the script:
"I read the script and I may refer back to it a couple of times during the editing, but I hardly use it at all. I’m a disaster on some levels to script supervisors. My assistants use their notes all the time, but I don’t because the things I’m interested in are not whether the actor matches what he did previously; you can always find ways around the technical problems. The emotional through-lines are really what editing is about—and storytelling is really what it is. It’s sort of musical storytelling."
He also makes seemingly non-sensical point about The Matrix and character -- then I remembered Reloaded and let it go.
TV Yet again, TV Cream dredge up that great television you wish you'd seen from the past. In their bumper Christmas newsletter hamper, we have the following, The Curious Case of Santa Clause:
"Part of Channel 4's very first Christmas line-up, this little known oddity was written by former The Good Life mastermind Bob Larbey.And amazingly it was actually quite good. The peculiar show took a 'wry' look at how a modern day psychiatrist might regard the mental state of one Father Christmas. For once appearing in a role that wasn't Dr Who, Worzel Gummidge or a chat show guest bemoaning the fact that Dr Who was never as good after he left the show and toasting the fact that 'The Ghosts Of N-Space' as "number one in the hit parade!", Jon Pertwee filled the role of the psychiatrist, and for some reason elected to play him as a stereotyped New York 'shrink'. Thankfully, though, the audience was spared his previous habit of continually referring to other characters as 'mac' while playing Americans. Interestingly, Larbey apparently wanted to call the show "Is Santa Schizo?", but was overruled by C4 who felt it was in rather poor taste. Who'd have thought it?"
I know. That sounds exactly like the sort of title they would give a show like that now. You could do worse also than check out the Off The Telly Festive Television section for a more scholarly approach to the schedules ooking as far back as the 1970s...

The Tv Creamers also offer their formula for creating the perfect Christmas number one, which The Darkness would do well to read, now that something which is actually quite good from a year old film has unnaccountably been crowned this year. The Pop Idols at number five. Avid Merrion at number four despite treating us to a cut price version of the video to Perfect Day with a whole raft of minor celebs (and Bob Geldof (?)). Would someone like to explain to me how John Leslie can go from wanting to sue Mark Wright for libel a year ago to hugging and dancing with him in this promo. That's hatchet burying of the highest order...
Book Crossing My very first post about Book Crossing has been mentioned at this weblog about well, Book Crossing. Except it's in German. The rough translation is that 'Manchester is a big Book Crossing zone in the UK ...', well, yes it is. But no one has registed any of the ten or so Peanuts books I dropped off there last month.
Life For some reason, Christmas shopping has been quite hard this year. I set myself the task of looking for new and unusual things but then couldn't decide what that actually meant. Yesterday, in Chester, I think I had a breakthrough. This town which has layers of history features lots of small independent shops which tend to be missing from the bigger cities of late and consequently have gifts and products you can't find anywhere else. So I was able to make some presents look like a few more presents.

I also fell in love with The Arc a contemporary craft shop, just up a hill, off the main road, with its wood panelling and hand made pottery and glass. It's the kind of shop you can look about for hours feeling very self concious because you can't afford anything. Looking into the eyes of the impossibly beautiful owner I think I was her first customer in hours so I just had to buy a card at least. My clowning about with my train ticket cheered her up for a few moments I think (but I'm probably over selling myself).
Buffy And so it ends. For teatime BBC2 viewers Buffy: The Vampire Slayer ran in high heels one final time. I've held off from talking about this final season until the last stake had been thrown into an Ubervamp's heart. Three episodes most weeks has been a lot to take in, characters and subplots passing by with much speed, episodes bleeding together, losing their individuality as the plot reached it's apocalyptic conclusion.

As the season opened the old magic seemed to have returned. Section of Season Six had felt utterly laboured as though the writers were swimming through tar trying to get from teaser to credits. In the first few episodes, the slick dissipated and there was a conscious return to the joy of the first season when everything was shiny and new. Xander was wisecracking, Willow was looking things up on her computer and Buffy's sense of fun had returned. Slapstick all over the walls.

Then the season plot kicked in and things began to go all floopy, the balance thrown asunder. Xander started making big speeches. Willow began to worry about her witchcraft and the burden of responsibility again weighed heavy on Buffy's shoulders. The obsession with Spike showed itself again, the premise of the show being stretched again as the VAMPIRE who had KILLED PEOPLE was kept alive because he was a main character who was popular. The fact that all the fun had left him seasons ago when he was neuter didn't matter. I'm not anti-Spike. He's a great character. I'm just anti-whattheydidtohim.

Then, suddenly a show which had always been at its strongest with the four main characters was suddenly over run with hundreds of them. We didn't know most of their names and neither did Buffy. I point was being made but it was creating diffusion. Purposefully, the only of these potentials to come to the fore was Kennedy, new girlfriend for Willow and oozing confidence. But she lacked a depth. Tara had depth. But she had room to develop. Kennedy didn't have room. She was being stifled by lots of pointless running around and getting angry. Giles and Buffy had to fall out. The cool principal was trying to give Spike the beating he probably deserved. The show began to look like its spin-off Angel for all the wrong reasons.

Balls were being dropped all over the place. Two utterly exciting opportunities for great stories, all of the spectres which had haunting Buffy in past seasons returning to create mischief at the high school and the whole population of Sunnydale leaving town were blown off in a couple of scenes. Story possibility after story possibility passed the writers by as they concentrated on endless, ponderous scenes between The First (this season's big bad) and whoever would listen.

But then, suddenly, like an alcoholic given a very strong cup of coffee, everything woke up. Neglected characters like Dawn and Anya were getting something to do. Willow disappeared to Angel and brought back Faith. The First's evil was given a manifestation in the form of Caleb the most tangible enemy since Glory if not quite as much fun. And as the final few episodes played out against the backdrop of a night or two. The show we loved returned.

The final episodes brought together the iconic elements which had made the show the joy to watch all these years. Xander was brave and funny. The old Willow unsure of her obvious abilities returned. Giles was imparting advise. And Buffy had a plan, a big stupid impossible plan that might just work. And they would all need to work together. Hell even Angel himself put in an appearance one last time to offer to help and help with the final solution and to renew the tension of the love triangle with Spike. This was like the old days and we loved it. All of the abrupt attempts to be nostalgic about the glories of the series past receded, enveloped in the glories of the present, until in the final moments the premise of the show shattered.

Buffy was no longer the one girl in all the world … there were thousands of them all wanting to make the world a better place. In the moments we saw all of these young women fulfill their potential as they fought back domestic violence and angry pitchers at baseball games, the epic, world changing nature of the series, missing so long, suddenly returned. There was life outside the sets the few sets the show's creators had been concentrating all these weeks and suddenly we were left with the nagging feeling that the show was finishing too soon, even after seven seasons. Suddenly so many new stories to tell, a whole new Hellmouth in Cleveland to explore.

Buffy. She saved the world. A lot. And we wish she was still doing it now.
Rings The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the kind of film which is ultimately impossible to review. If I was a film maker thinking about creating a fantasy film in the mould now I’d kick the screenwriter out of the door, make a cup of tea and watch television. There really isn’t any point. Peter Jackson and friends have created a film of such utter perfection that they’ll still be talking about it in fifty years. This is Citizen Kane for the new age, an item of such spectacle but at the same time emotional complexity it’s difficult to think how anything else is ever going to top it. And I’m sure that such words have been used in the past for all kinds of films, when they said that they couldn’t work out how a man could fly or spaceships could be filmed in space. But this is different. This is so exciting, it’ll make you cry and scream even at the age of twenty-nine. Perhaps I’ll write something more coherent when I can get my breath back. I’m wondering about reading the book. Will it be a let down?
TV Sky buys 24. No one surprised. Channel 5 to show it at a later date. Surprise still undetectable.
Film When I saw the minimal extras on the British DVD release of the film Dogma I went to Play and ordered the Region One double disk version. The problem is that I might have fallen fowl of the law (and I'm probably not the only one) because the film was distributed over here my FilmFour and by Lions Gate in the US. Miramax in the US recently sent a cease and decist order to a Japanese film shop because they were importing and selling the Japanese version of a film they had distribution rights for in the big country, and opened a can of worms. But the real issue at stake is the ability of the consumer to have a choice in what they want to buy. As the shop owner describes:
"When (Miramax) releases DVDs in this country, they often heavily edit it. They've Americanized the movies. Fans of Asian cinema want the original versions," said's Stockton, who has joined the write-in campaign. "We feel that it's unfortunate that they have chosen to limit the options of fans and consumers in the way they have."
Under the Miramax way of thinking, simply because Dogma was distributed by a whole other film company in the UK who couldn't or wouldn't get the rights for the extras laden US DVD we should only buy the vanilla version and lump it. Thanks Harvey.
Christmas An alternative to Christmas Trees? [via AskMe]
Audio After I'd listened to Scherzo, the first story in a new season of Eighth Doctor audio adventures, I reached for Google and found that in Italian it literally translates as 'joke' and that it's the third part of various musical forms such as symphonies, string quartets and sonatas. So the joke is that it's named after music but it doesn't feature any at all. So it's a very clever title - but then it's a very clever work.

If you really want to demonstrate to someone how far Doctor Who has traveled since the TV Movie get them to sit down and listen to this. Imagine a story in which everything is stripped to the bare minimum. There is The Doctor (Paul McGann), a companion, in this case Charlie Pollard (India Fisher), a mystery to investigate in a bare landscape and that's it. Without giving away too many secrets (and half the fun is discovering those secrets) there are no other real characters. This isn't a monster adventure, or a 'historical'. The only arch enemy is perception itself and the inherent tension is in whether the travelers decide between themselves if they should live or die.

This is a Who adventure set in The Theatre of the Absurd, as difficult to pin down as Samuel Beckett, the characters as adrift as Vladimir and Estragon standing under that tree in Waiting for Godot. Nowhere to go, no end in sight. If this had been made for television (which is impossible since it wouldn't work on television, or in a book for that matter) it would have to be on late night BBC Four not teatime BBC One. The concepts and ideas on display are utterly terrifying, magnifying how hopeless our short lives are really is when faced with the passage of time, or what can pass for time -- sometimes.

The writer of the piece, Robert Shearman is an award winning playwright turning his keyboard to his love affair with a timelord (not counting his wife, who according to the inlay notes let him work on the play while they were on their honeymoon). None of his previous works have been what you would call traditional. In Chimes at Midnight (voted best audio drama of all time in a recent anniversary poll) The Doctor had to investigate why the same figures in a murder mystery kept dying over and over again. Another work Deadline featured Derek Jacobi as a ex-writer for Juliet Bravo with delusions of traveling the universe in a police box with his granddaughter and her school teachers based on a treatment for a tv show he never managed to get off the ground. Scherzo fits perfectly into this ouvre as Shearman again reduces the concept of the show to it's bare bones, stretches and manipulates them but still produces something which is both recognizable and alien at the same time.

The direction falls to the multi-talented Gary Russell, the overall series producer. It's his bravery which led to this, the most evocative adventure of them all. He asked the writer to create a two hander which would tie up some of the loose ends from premise the shattering doublebill Neverland and Zagreus. I can only imagine how he felt when Scherzo landed on his desk. My first thought would have been 'How the hell do I direct this? but direct he does, realizing that the only way the listener is going to understand the void which the characters have been dropped into is to have the experience replicated for them too as much as possible.

Without the usual props of supporting characters to bounce off McGann and Fisher again demonstrate the heartbreaking chemistry we've seen between them time and again. Recent events have made The Doctor a much darker character - if this had pictures you could imagine the light in his eyes once so bright, dimmed slightly. The characters are coming to terms with words spoken, and we are right on Fisher's shoulder pleading with our friend to be just as he was, the man so willing to pretend to be a private eye and talk Orson Wells into stopping an alien invasion or take Romana on one final trip to Oxford to find out what really happened in 1979. It's her performance which helps us adjust to this new version of the character, as McGann's interpretation gains layers of hurt and pain which may take years to sort out. It's a tragedy that their work here is only going to be heard by a relatively small audience.

When Doctor Who returns (and how odd to be able to say that) it won't look or sound anything like this. Which isn't to say it won't be challenging and with Russell T Davies at the controls it won't be boring either. But to garner an audience it will have to be fairly traditional, mostly offering the frights that people remember from all those years ago, hiding behind a collective sofa of nostalgia. Scherzo is for a different audience, the kind who'll go and see the Japanimation import Spirited Away and talk about it for hours afterwards. It's about ideas, expectations and the fragility of who we are and next to a Cyberman I'll take those kinds of scares every time.
Commerce Although I don't drive (and possibly because) I actually quite like the idea of the M6 toll road. Not the environmental concerns of course -- it opens up a whole raft of issues when you consider the possibility that the scheme could be extended to other congested areas, but the idea that you can pay so that you don't have to wait. It's something I'm used to because a similar system has been in place in the WH Smith in Liverpool for some months, and it's all because of the National Lottery. But lately things have been getting a bit hair raising, today for example.

It's 1:30 and I've got half an hour to get to work and I want to buy a magazine. Only then do I notice the queue. It's ten(ish) days before christmas and there are four hundred people piled up in the twisty-turny system and two people serving. I glance over. Presumably so that the shop can cosy up to Camelot, there is a separate queuing bit and till for people to buy their lottery tickets and as usual it's empty.

So I walk up to the till, which is right next to the four hundred people waiting. I know that the British at times have a reputation for waiting, and forming orderly queues when need be. But looking at this lot, it's almost like they were enjoying the experience.

Eight hundred eyes watch what I'm doing. Some of them narrow. I plonk the magazine on the counter. I look around. They are still looking at me. I know what they're all thinking. Then a mountain of a man puts it into words, as though telepathically he's their mouth piece, booming:
"Err ... excuse me."
I keep my back to him.
"That young man," (young man?) "Has jumped the queue."
I don't say anything. The clerk looks over.
"It's OK ... if you're buying a lottery ticket."
"You can use this queue to get a lottery."
I look at the INSTANTS.
"Can I have a 'Jump the Shark?' " I ask.
The man mountain gets the kind of frustrated look that Victor Meldrew would have if someone stole his tortoise.
The clerk is keep is head down. I'm keeping my head down.
"This is like a toll queue." I smile.
The clerk grunts. I don't think he's amused. I take the magazine and lottery instant and walk away. An extra pound lighter.

Now would someone like to explain to me why anyone (and looking into those eight hundred eyes there must have been someone) would spend twenty minutes of their lunch hour waiting in one queue when they can go to another till, get served in seconds, pay a whole £1, be giving to a good cause and have the possibility of winning a fortune. I know this isn't the image that Camelot are looking for but there must be some milage in it.

But what I really want to understand was why they looked at me as though I was doing something wrong. I was taking advantage of a system which was in place, doing something they all could do. I'm not sure if this is a trend or something which has always been the case, but we seem to be losing the capacity for reason. Rather like those people who stand at the front of an empty bus and make it impossible for passengers to get on they hadn't really looked at the information in front of them, and in this case asked the right questions. I was the one being looked upon by four hundred people as somehow cheating on them, breaking some sacred human bond, because I'd actually thought something through. It took the buying of a magazine to make me feel like I was outside the social norms. How did that happen?
Life We didn’t really recognize how large this tree actually was. We ended up gutting off about ten large branches, enough pieces to build a whole other tree. Most of these pieces were salvageable and we’re using them as decoration throughout the rest of the flat. I’ve got one on top on my television, offering the ultimate pine air freshener. Now that we got the bush in the corner and the tinsel up everywhere else, it really does feel like Christmas is coming. It snowed very briefly. What are the rules about winning a bet on a white christmas?
Music Further to my rant the other day and in the style of Fark, Girl with two christian names signs record deal. "People say I'm like Alanis Morissette or Sheryl Crow, but I don't like to be labelled. I have my own style. I write about life and love, but I write with a twist." Can't wait. There are so many posters for a certain scouse threesome up, it's like no other pop band existed ever.
Music I suppose my version of the following was the time I waited six months to see a film and it has a single showing at a local multiplex and I went and sat in the expected empty auditorium for twenty minutes until I realised I was sitting in the wrong screen...
"'Are you on any medication, miss?
'Do you have any medical problems?'
'Have you passed out at gigs before?'
'Noooooo! I?ve been to MILLIONS of gigs!'
'What did you eat and drink today?'
'Vegemite toast and two cups of tea!'
'Ah ha. Dehydration for sure.' "
Shauny at a Radiohead concert, poor girl. At least she got to see the end. I had to wait another six months for the DVD release ...
TV Steven Moffat, Coupling writer is posting at BBC America again. Just watch as a poster named Padderz gets his knickers in a twist about the scheduling of the UK version on BBC Two, not at all realising he's having an argument with the writer of the show. My favourite bit is when he says with some finallity: "And by the way Coupling was moved to a later time slot on BBC2 because the ratings, in comparison with BBC1 and ITV, were appalling. Trust me I'm a TV buyer." Err ... so. Does that mean you don't read the Radio Times?
Ask The indispensibilty of Mefi Ask continues. I asked: Why does a person's musical taste keep changing? I'm suddenly listening to lot's of Paris Cafe music, the likes of Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker. How did that happen? Why do some people's tastes never seem to change? Jerry Kindall answered:
"The more music you already know, the more music you can "get into." A lot of jazz is inaccessible until you have listened to and understood its "prerequisites." Similarly for classical, I think. Rock, well, you're soaking in it, so it's hard to tell. But can you really "get" electronica without having heard Kraftwerk and maybe '80s Tangerine Dream?

And there's also the music you heard when you were growing up, even if you hated it then. Eventually its familiarity will become comforting. I never in a million years thought I'd have any country CDs whatsoever; it's my dad's favorite kind of music, and it was symbolic of all the ways I didn't want to be like him. When I grew up enough to get past that, I started to realize that some of that stuff was really good. I'm not sure where my love for '70s pop comes from (someone got me into Rundgren about ten years ago, but I liked Rundgren because that sound resonated for me) but something about that style of songwriting just gets inside my head. Even new music in that style gets me (e.g. the Bacharach/Costello album). But it wasn't something that really grabbed me until my late '20s or early '30s even though I'd been hearing it all my life.
... and the thread is filled with such nuggets, so much more exciting than the blue area. People are being creative. Except in this thread about alternatives to 'soda' where everyone said water. Although I was the first. If any none members want me to punt along a question, and it's something I've always wondered about, let me know...
News Saddam Hussein captured. Although TV5 seem to think he may be disguised as Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder.
Books "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" beats Harry Potter in The Big Read. Have I missed the point or is this very good news indeed? And isn't it shocking that four of the top five are genre titles and the only British TV series made for adults in that genre is a remake featuring a Timelord? What happened to all the great sci-fi or fantasy series for adults?
Music There isn't anything more frustrating yet amusing when a journalist sits down and writes a piece which criticisms much of your CD collection as worthless. But Scott gallop does just that in 'Originality lacking in female pop stars'. I think they key paragraph is:
"But has Miss Keys -- or any of the other borderlines -- even approached the songwriting achievements of predecessors such as Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Chrissie Hynde? Or even those of older peers still in their songwriting and recording primes such as Aimee Mann and Lucinda Williams? To write memorable songs, it helps to have lived. Miss Keys, Miss Jones, Miss Furtado and the rest don't have a lot of life behind them. But they do have a lot of career still before them, so there is plenty of time to close the gap with their hall of fame predecessors."
The problem I actually have with the article is that he lumps all of the singers he lists in together as though they all have the same sound (with the exception of Norah), which obviously isn't the case. Nelly uses more eastern influences, Norah is closer to New York. Frankly I don't care too much who wrote the songs (something which was never an issue during Motown for example). If I want the difficult sentiments I've got Tori, Aimee and Eleanor. In these cases, it's about the voice, the energy and the hook. "He was boy, she was a girl, can I make it any more obvious?" Well no, Avril, but we'd hate you to be ambiguous as well ...
Eva Katzler
@ ‘The Enterprise’
2 haverstock hill, chalk farm
sunday 28th december
Doors open 730pm
£3 on the door
Would be lovely to see you there!
Life Another Christmas tradition was broken today. We went to buy our Christmas tree at the flower shop as usual, but the only fir worth pursuing was so big it wouldn't fit through the bagging machine so we had to have it delivered. So I missed the long walk back home with it on our shoulders.

one hundred and one things I would put into room 101...

1. The hand break in taxis which adds an extra 20p at the end of a journey
2. Automated systems on bank enquiry lines
3. Bob Monkhouse's orange skin
4. Museums which still charge admission fees
5. Branded clothing
6. Directors on 'The Bill' who make at least one criminal an episode come from Liverpool
7. Exploding lids on Muller Fruit Corner yoghurts
8. Val Kilmer
9. Typos
10. Boxer Shorts
11. Bullying
12. Acts four and five of Shakespeare's King Lear
13. The choice of coffee on sale in Starbucks
14. Fascism
15. Mick Hucknell
16. Inconsiderate smokers
17. People who don't flush public toilets after use
18. Floaters
19. Full screen films on DVD
20. S Club 8
21. JFK conspiracy theorists
22. 'It's been a long road ... getting from there to here...'
23. Snot-glue
24. Self congratulatory DVD commentaries
25. Room 101 when Nick Hancock was introducing it
26. George Lucas' delusion that Jar Jar Binks was a good idea
27. Posters at college which never stayed on walls no matter how much blue-tac you use
28. Des and Mel
29. The ice hockey player I was forced to talk to all night once who's every story began 'Me and the team were out drinking ...' and who thought 'faggot' was still an acceptable term for gay people
30. Tuna
31. Star Trek tie-in novels
32. My inability to read Eng. Lit. now because my addled brain has seen too many Star Trek tie-in novels
33. The English Literature A-level I failed
34. Good ideas turned sour
35. Flippancy
36. The Sun 'Newspaper'
37. Three inch discs from Amstrad CPCs which now won't work on anything other than old Amstrad CPCs
38. Hot weather
39. Batman and Robin
40. Stereotypes
41. The death of Douglas Adams
42. People who still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea
43. The Sugababes without Siobhan Donaghy
44.Never being able to find my keys
45. New Labour
46. Male drivers
47. Glasses without lenses
48. My Hero
49. Sleep
50. Feet and Inches
51. Monet's 'Waterlillies'
52. Alliterative names
53. Metafilter when Matt Haughey is away for the weekend
54. Winters without snow
55. Summers without sun
56. Pierced bottom lips
57. Dress codes in night clubs
58. Bad internet connections
59. Mugs with a crack in the side
60. Friends since Season Two
61. The last piece of cheese on a block of cheddar which you can never cut in half
62. The three weeks I spent working at HMV
63. Manchester United
64. The cancellation of 'My So-Called Life'
65. People who shout out of turn
66. My nail biting habit
67. September 11th 2001
68. Arriva trains
69. The teacher as school who said I wouldn't amount to much
70. Lad mags
71. Soap Operas which run for more than one episode a week
72. Organised religion
73. People who use biro to write in library books
74. Record companies who release 'special editions' of albums you've already bought
75. The fact I can't take my drink and can only handle a Bud or Rolling Rock
76. Derek Hatton
77. Minimalist music
78. Liver
79. Famous people with nothing to say
80. Tuesday mornings
81. Stenciling
82. Mobile phones as status symbol
83. My house-acquaintances during my second year at University
84. Highlander II: The Quickening
85. The overly repeated financial service adverts which appear on tiny cable channels
86. Ignorance
87. The smell of cooking fish
88. The smell of uncooked fish
89. People who won't take no for an answer
90. My attempts at poetry
91. Microfiche
92. Charmed
93. Bad organisation on coach tours
94. Change for the sake of change
95. Microsoft
96. Pointless activism
97. Foam rubber
98. Sticker stamps
99. Soluble aspirin
100. Mean spiritedness
101. Lists