Writing Bit busy today, but as 'treat' I thought I'd offer this short play I wrote in 1997. Sorry about the wierd formatting and probable typos. I'd love to know what you think ...
Us Speaking of university, I spent three years there living this nightmare as well.
Art Why am I not surprised that in the “Renaissance in the regions” scheme, the only art galleries in the North West seem to be in Manchester? I know a whole team of curators who would refute that. Liverpool, again, seems to be just a bit too far to the north and to the west.
Music I remember disinctly the first time I failed to listen to Guns 'n' Roses' 'Appetite for Destruction' album. I was at university and someone I was vaguely irritated by was trying to convince me that it was the best album ever made. I countered vehermently that he was wrong and offered 'Electric Youth' by Debbie Gibson as a valid alternative. Which is why I'm smirking at the new look Hybrid magazine, and their new section, which last month offered a similar claim:
"Guns ‘N’ Roses’s Appetite For Destruction is the best album ever made. Brutal, offensive, aggressive, cocky, and masterful, Appetite For Destruction represents everything that every mediocre metal band (including GNR itself) ever wanted to be. If it hadn’t been for a mainstream musical coup called Nevermind, Appetite could have heralded an era in hard rock, and the world of 90s hard rock would have been very different indeed. Izzy Stradlin probably would have kicked Stone Gossard’s pansy ass.
I don't remember Dan putting it quite so eloquently (I think the main strand of his argument was that it was "f*cking great"), but it has spurned me to go and get a copy. But somethings don't change you see. I still think their best track was their cover of 'Live & Let Die' and I prefer Sheryl Crow's version of "Sweet Child of Mine".
Photography The Romanian series of Katleen Laraia McLaughlin:
"My purpose is to capture and convey images of their way of life before it becomes further compromised by globalization. In our modern world, we often feel we have “lost” something important, something precious. Though they do not know it now, these peasants are loosing their customs in the same way our forebears lost theirs. They do not see themselves as beautiful or special, because they feel poor and ordinary. But I hope to show they embody beauty because of the way they have spent their days walking paths trodden by their grandparents. Because of the way their lives have become well worn like an old wooden spoon."
A reminder that something is always lost in innovation ....
TV All of which said, a poster at the Digital Spy message boards stutteringly reports that new channel ftn will be rerunning thirtysomething in the not too distant future ... which should do me nicely until the DVD release ...
Backlog Wonderful You [1999] We’ve all been here before. This is a show from the genre which brought you ‘Cold Feet’, ‘This Life’ and ‘Hearts and Bones’. Three men, three women in various states of coupling thrown through a shopping list of crises with little hope of a solid resolution. Typically in all of these shows it isn’t the actual plotlines which offer originality – they never have anything new to say about divorce or dating, infidelity or mating – it’s the approach – is it suitably different enough from what’s gone before to keep the audience interested. ‘Cold Feet’ played about with structure – how exposition was used for comic or dramatic effect; in ‘Hearts and Bones’ there was a rawness to the tone, an Ibsenesque claustrophobia; ‘This Life’ had swearing, weird camera angles and sexuality. In comparison to these shows, ‘Wonderful You’, given that it is a few years old, seems extremely dated, and lacks any kind of cohesion – it’s a chaotic mess of styles and ideas. It feels like the creators were throwing as much as they could onto the wall to see what would stick.

Which isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable, and much of the watchability of the show is because despite everything the actors give it their all. Perhaps this is because most of them are on holiday from their day jobs in costume dramas -- half the cast were in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ or ‘Hornblower’ and some of them were in both. Most have worked in many things before – which gives them a kind of lived in look on screen. There aren’t many new faces here, most of the time you’re trying to remember what they’ve been in. Also, some of the camera work is very well done, especially in episode four in which one of the characters fanatasises about their film teacher (yes we were in ‘Dawson’s Creek’ territory) and found herself in a re-run of ‘Brief Encounter’.

But the approach taken in that episode (which also saw a number of flashback sequences) points up the other problem. Rather than souping everything together, the ‘gimics’ are rolled out in an episodic bases. So the opening episode is structure about a voice over. The second episode is underpinned by excerpts from a video made for the 30th birthday party of one of the characters etc. etc. The better shows keep returning to these things and trying them in other settings to inform and reinform what’s happening on screen. Here it’s very much – “Well, we’ve done that, what now?”

There have been two really good moments, which work because they circumvent the cliché as it might appear in a Hollywood film, something which could have worked well if it had been developed for the whole series. In the first Henry, the courier, guitarist and thirtysomething crisis man offers to go to a school for special needs people to impress the woman who is working their – and proceeds to play his own songs to them. If this had been ‘Patch Adams’ they would have sat in wrapped silence. Here they throw fruit at him until he plays something they know, like ‘Old Macdonald’. In the second Marshall, the chartered accountant decides that his seven year (count them) relationship might be worth saving so he leaves work in the middle of an important day to rush to the seaside to be with her. If this had been a Nora Ephron film he would have just appeared with her at the end of the film have realized the error of his ways. Here we get to see every rotten moment of the trip, wiseass in the ticket office at the station telling him that the place wants to get to doesn’t have a station, to finding that the only taxi at his destination is on leave to having to walk absolute miles to find the little hut she’s staying in, only to find that she’s less than impressed to see him after all. Momentous, employment dumping gestures hardly ever work out.

It’s hardly a surprise that ‘Wonderful You’ didn’t receive a second series. It probably won’t get a rerun either (it’s not helped by that fact that there seems to be a picture of the World Trade Centre in every scene). It is shame on both counts because there was something here to work with, it just needed more focus and a greater mission statement. If you happen to see it around on cable you won’t entirely be wasting your time. Just don’t expect ‘The Secret Life of Us’ or anything.
Games Mum's birthday tonight. Been to Ego for a meal. Long day really so short of inspiration tonight. So'll just gift you the startlingly comprehensive GameFAQs, which seem to have solutions for all known games ...
Blog! Bloggies again. Not nominated again. But I think some things are supposed to be kept secret ...
Sport My Dad and I tried to have a football conversation this morning at breakfast time:
Dad: They won last night.
Me: Who?
Dad: Liverpool.
Me: Oh.
Dad: They're through to the next round ... sorry ... the final.
Me: Of what?
Dad: The watchamacallit cup.
TV The whole map of US tv is set to change. With 'Friends' definately ending next year (although where have we heard that before) and Buffy looking in doubt, it now turns out Frasier is set to leave the building for the final time at the end of season eleven. I'm surprised Kelsey Grammer has stuck it out for this long, even with that salary. But then his odd attempts at movies haven't exactly turned out (I mean did anyone see 'Up Periscope' and admit to it?). Along with his original stint on 'Cheers' that means that the character has been on the screen for almost as long as a timelord or Ken Barlow. I'll leave the debate about whether Daphne and Niles should have got together to the real experts ...
History This for some reason reminded me of this:

The station is in the middle of a moor. There appears to be no habitation around. In the distance are some hills. The train pulls away, and Renton, Spud, Tommy, and Sick Boy are left standing on the platform, looking around.

SICK BOY: Now what?
TOMMY: We go for a walk.
SPUD: What?
TOMMY: A walk.
SPUD: But where?
Tommy points vaguely across the moor.
TOMMY: There.
SICK BOY: Are you serious?
They step across the tracks and walk across the vast moorland. They stop on a footbridge and all but Tommy sit down and start drinking.
TOMMY: Well, what are you waiting for?
SPUD: I don't know, Tommy, I don't know if it's normal.
TOMMY: It's the great outdoors.
SICK BOY: It's really nice, Tommy. Can we go home now?
TOMMY: It's fresh air.
SICK BOY: Look, Tommy, we know you're getting a hard time off Lizzy, but there's no need to take it out on us.
TOMMY: Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish?
RENTON: It's shite being Scottish! We're the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete assholes. It's a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference.
The boys troop back towards the platform.
SPUD (to Tommy): I'm sorry, man.
RENTON (voice-over): At or around this time, we made a healthy, informed, democratic decision to get back on drugs as soon as possible. It took about twelve hours.
Film Richard Linklater's follow-up to 'Waking Life' and 'Tape' follows a Manhatten tour guide to the site of the World Trade Centre to consider one of the more unusual proposals:
"In the 20-minute film, "Live From Shiva's Dancefloor," ... Timothy "Speed" Levitch posits that the site should be turned into a park full of free-roaming American bison, popularly known as buffalo. "Sixteen acres of blazing green grass, a place for togetherness, healing out loud, and spontaneous culture," says Levitch. "And in the middle of the park, the memorial should not be an inanimate slab of stone, but should have a heartbeat." Thus, the buffalo."
Quite how strong support is for this isn't clear although of all the ideas put forward so far, it does seem to make a certain sense, and have some poinancy. But as the article asks, wouldn't it be a tragedy to maroon these majestic beasts in the centre of an urban sprawl? [via Gawker]
TV The UK coverage of The Golden Globes has been bizarely massive considering none of the actually winners have actually been relased here yet. More interesting are the TV awards, in which 'The Shield' shown over here in Channel Five won all of the big prizes. It was Jennifer Anniston's turn to win the 'Friends' award (which appears on Channel 4), and 'The Gathering Storm' won some things for HBO -- which is odd because I thought it was a BBC production.
TV In a fantastically pointless example of programming, the BBC are celebrating best TV moments on 2002. Apart from the fact the new year will be a month old by the time the show is actually on air, haven't Channel 4 been here already? And most of the clips were on that show ... oh I see. It's another excuse for a pointless phone vote the supplement the license fee ...
TV I've been receiving a fare few hits from people looking for information about the new series 'The Book Group' (which starts on Channel 4 on Friday). Now I find the site at the top of the Google search for The Book Group Anne Dudek ...
TV I joined RI:SE v2 at about 8’oclock this morning. The usually verbose Edith Bowman seemed tongue tied in the face of Iain Lee flying off with his usual stream of consciousness. And we were in the middle of a jokey newspaper review. Apart from the trappings of a north London flat, someone seemed to have given ‘The Big Breakfast’ another chance. But this was different – you didn’t want to rip you arm off and throw it at the television. You were actually enjoying it. It was fluff, but enjoyable fluff. Now I’ve always been a fan of Lee, despite his Ross from ‘Friends’ like overpronounciation of every – single – word. Bowman was the best thing about the previous line up. Granted they were pissing in the wind as the studio audience looked visibly bored to tears, but it looked to have legs maybe. In any case it was about as good on its first morning as RI:SE v1 was in its final week.

Then a funny thing happened. In the final half hour it mutated into a sort of 'Early Lunch' with Mel and Sue who looked like they’d been kidnapped in a time machine from the final episode of the ‘Late Lunch’ and dumped again in front of the camera. And at 8:30 in the morning, despite a few technical hitches they were being, lovable and funny and self-deprecating about their bread adverts (Mel’s fault apparently. I’ve really missed these two being on television in chat show capacity and it’s going to be fun watching them capture a new generation of students. And bless them they even managed to fit in a Doctor Who reference. I videoed the end to watch when I got in from work. This is going to be good. And ‘The Guardian’ have even given them a good review …