Blog! Bookfilter. Still early days so it isn't clear what people are supposed to be posting -- news stories, cool links or 'I've just read this cool book ...' type links but it's a subject open enough for enough people to get involved for it to be interesting.
War An email from Caro asked a good question and I hope she won't mind me answering it here rather thanan in person. Her question was "Hope all is well where you are. - Have you, too been advised to stock up on emergency supplies? What's the mood like?" Other than the protest I talked about the other night, the war has hardly rocked Liverpool. It occured to me in fact that if I didn't have a television or radio and didn't read the newspapers unless I spoke to anyone I would know there was a war at all. Unlike the other war which is this being endlessly compared to, the second, it isn't really effecting our real lives. Public services continue. People are still going to work, to the cinema, to the football. There hasn't been any evidence of bulk buying. Rapid Hardware hasn't had a run on plastic sheeting.

So why do i find it intensely difficult to concentrate on anything else? It's almost as though the half of my brain which should be creative and working on the projects I've promised myself I should be concentrating on is glued to the media, picking over what is happening. It is allowing me to think about other things now and then though, so although my script is going to go another weekend unedited, I am making strides into how to re-write the beginning to make it less depressing.

I don't remember the war coverage being so obsessive during the war in Afghanistan. It's as though the viewer don't dare miss anything which might be happening; like they're trying to make up for pumping us with poor propaganda last time. Only at times like this would Sophie Raworth and Philip Hayton be sharing a desk at BBC News 24. The most effective coverage I've seen so far was on EuroNews of all places -- for large parts of the hour they're showing narration free shots of the war and protests throughout the world, including shots of downtown Baghdad which I haven't seen on the main news programmes -- streets filled with intact buildings littered with the odd husk; people going about their business between the bombs. Their usual massive titles marking off 'News', 'Sport' and 'Business' replaced with just 'Iraq War' and simply 'No Comment'.

[Having watched some of the gung-ho US coverage on Fox News and MSNBC I thank the lord for the BBC. Although the group weblog I linked a couple of days ago has ceased, [update: No it hasn't .... you just have to link through from the main page to get to the new posts] is still a live feed from BBC News 24 online.]
Ego Unusual seeing your work quoted on the same page as Albert Einstein and D. H. Lawrence. Err ... thanks Catherine ...
Toy I'd forgotten about this. When I was a kid, on the last day of school, we could all wear our own clothes and bring in a toy. Everyone else brought in these new electronic games like 'Space War' and 'Pac Man'. I brought Etch-a-Sketch. Wasn't quite the same really. I'm hoping for online Kerplunk some time shortly. [via the equally interesting Dubberly]
Humour New war themed issue of 'TV Go Home' now online ...
In Frida, Salma Hayek gives an extraordinary performance in the compelling story of the Mexican painter who survived a horrific bus crash to become the most famous artist her country produced. Worth seeing just to go star spotting … hey – that’s Edward Norton as Rockafeller … [also not with the woman who was behind me last night, who talked all the way through and then complained bitterly when I was leaving because I was blocking her view of the credits …]
'The Spirit Room’ – Michelle Branch amounts to being an unofficial soundtrack to ‘Dawson’s Creek’. You’ll know kind of music – which came first – the plotline or the song lyrics? Tracks mostly written by her, some bloke and the more talented but sadly forgotten Abra Moore.
Father Time’ by former Emmerdale storyliner Lance Parkin features an amneasiatic Eighth Doctor Who stranded on Earth and fighting off alien invaders in the midst of Thatcher’s Britain. Spot on pop culture references include the use of a Phil Collins song to point up the fact his daughter, also a timelord, also has two hearts.
Quote! "Some quite good prose, some ambitious work, but also some solecisms."

[My A-Level English teacher's opinion of my writing style ... definition of that last word. Fair enough, I'd say.]
Ego I was on television last night. About a year ago, I was passing into Lime Street Station on my way to get a train into work and there was a CCtv camera set up at the entrance with a mini-speaker slapped on the side. It was harranging a man with a large wooden table onder his arm. I didn't think much of it at the time (my life is strange enough at times that this is common place). Then last night I turned on BBC Three, to a new gameshow called 'CCtv' and there was the man, and the table, and the voice ... and me charging past pointedly in the background. With bad hair. And the same bag which oddly enough appeared with me in 'There's Only One Jimmy Grimble'. It's truly getting so that we should have our own entry at the IMDb ...
TV New season press material for BBC Two. There seems to be a genuine leap towards trying to prove that the arts haven't really been hidden on BBC Four. There are some really interesting items in here, like an architectural version of their Great Britons contest in which ten celebs including Richard "Argos" E "That book was basically career suicide" Grant offer arguments as to why their respective buildings should get a much need 'Restoration' and to be saved for future generations, the winner chosen by a public vote.

Also featuring another documentary about the making of John Lennon's 'Imagine' (although this one by the Arena team who brought us that fabulously odd piece about 'Dead Ringers' at Christmas); and another look at Shakespeare, this time in four parts. I'll bet any money the first clip with be from 'Shakespeare in Love', with a voiceover saying ... "But was it actually like that?"
War* A lone protestor outside my old school. He thought his friends would join him but apparently they were threatened with expulsion. This is the kind of thing which sticks even if he doesn't get kicked out. He'll be reminded of this even when he's doing his University options. Just to say that the following quote is typical for a Blue Coat lad. Yes, at times even I've talked like this:
"I just wanted to show the government that we elected Tony Blair into power and he should not be able to continue with war without the full backing of the people."
You were seven in 1997, mate. It wasn't your fault. But I have to ask. Were you up for Portillo?

* for want of a better tag ...
Liverpool Life My bus was diverted this morning as well. A shop which I'd visited on Tuesday night before my night school course to buy a biro was gutted with flames this morning. The shop owner had smiled when I'd told her that it was ok she didn't have black biro, because blue ink was always my second choice. I hope she's OK.
Liverpool Life I think the first sign I had that there was something wrong, was when the bus took a massive diversion from its usual route. People looked at each other and asked ‘Am I on the right bus?’ ‘Is this the right bus?’ I asked too … it hasn’t been unknown for me to actually get on the wrong bus anyway so I needed to know soon otherwise I was bound to get lost. The passenger sitting next to me offered her re-assurance. This was the right bus. It was just going the wrong way. A diversion.

The bus wound about those narrow streets, streets which should not have had experience the wheelprint of this wide vehicle. I’d known that getting out of town would be difficult tonight, what with the Celtic supporters in town for the match. The pubs and restaurants had been flooded with a sea of green and white, the still air broken with the shouting, chanting and often booing of good natured but pissed Scotsmen. As the bus turned into a new recognizable road, the pavements were filled with people, scarves blowing in the wind.

Then we stopped. The traffic ahead wasn’t moving, so we weren't moving.

I glanced through the window to my right. In the distance outside Lime Street Station, at the junction which feeds the city within and without, emarald football tops were giving way to the broken starlight starbright pattern of the police tabards, and in between, sitting and standing in the middle of the road, the protestors of the new war, people who feel like they need to say or do something.

We waited. Two shellsuits behind me were offering their solutions to the human road block. ‘If I was in a car I’d just drive into them. They’d move then.’ ‘The bizzies just stick up for them, minute they’re there they’re around them. They should be arresting them.’ And as the police horses appeared ‘I’d just get the ‘orses to kick their ‘eds in …’

I tried to read my book. Twenty minutes later, as I’d slowly watched some of the other passengers get off the bus, I made my way to the front. By now, a policeman was standing in the doorway. I asked him if there was any forward movement. ‘I think they’ll be getting their candles out next ….’ He grinned. I nod and get off the bus.

Meantime I’d called home to say I would be late. ‘No.’ I’d said. ‘Getting a taxi won’t help…’]

My way out of town was past the protestors. I’d expected students, but they were young and old. They were standing very close together, many hundreds. They were chatting not chanting. They had plackards. Simply standing around. Spectators leaned on roadside barriers watching them, a carnival of peace creating chaos in their own city. It seemed to good natured; even the football fans were respecting them, even though they blocked one of the main routes towards Anfield. The headline ‘Celtic supports clash with anti-war protestors’ wasn’t going to happen today.
News It's happening then. Bugger.

[The BBC are offering an hourly update in the style of their football commentaries; searching for Iraq at Google News offers this page which will no doubt fulfill the same function]

Sex Sadly, it looks like the old adage of getting the kids to 'Make Love, Not War' is ill advised this time:
""We're all horny," said Gordon, a clinical psychologist with a special interest in sexuality education. "The question is what to do about it?" ...Gordon's ideas are controversial. "What do you do with horny kids?" he asked. "I'll tell you what to do. Masturbation. Woody Allen once joked that if you're masturbating at least you're having sex with someone you love and someone who won't reject you."
EIther that or make them endure the sex eductation I had to at my school, which consisted of pages 254 and 255 of the Biology text book; those line drawings and the teacher's sheepishness could have been enough to put you off sex for life. You put that in there .... na na na na no ...

Film Terry Gilliam to direct Grimm Fairy Tales for Miramax. I see Bob has started his Oscar campaign for 2005 very, very early this time ...

Referers Be afraid, be very afraid. According to my logs Jimmy Nesbitt has a stalker.


MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lydiate, 7 September 1880
Theatre The Wicked Witch of the West: The Early Years or Oz before Dorothy got involved, is the premise of Stephen Swartz new musical 'Wicked'. Quality may well be in doubt, because this is the man behind Godspell, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt because the libretto, drawn from the novel by Gregory Maguire, is by Winnie Holzman, the writer known for her work on TV's "thirtysomething," "Once and Again" and "My So-Called Life." [The actual reason I'm mentioning it here -- I wondered what she'd been up to ...]
Music Tonight's World Music class about Gender reminded me of something. It was last summer while I was volunteering at the Commonwealth Games. I think it was about the fifth day of the netball competition in the Manchester Evening News Arena and Fiji were playing Sri Lanka for 4th and 5th place. I was up on the press tribune. It was a disturbingly slow match, the kind were I didn't mind the results appearing to awaken you from the mailais that was gripping. Suddenly, from up in the gods, unnoticed until then, the Fijian Rugby Team began to sing. It was deep and low and sounded like history catching up and bringing you it's riches. Although play continued on the court it seemed irrelevant as this extra ordinary sound pervaided the air, the audience began to clap in time with the performers and suddenly two spectacles were fighting for everyone's attention. As they finished, the announcer thanked them, we all applauded and the team obliged us with an encore.
TV The other final episode last night was 'Cold Feet' (if your american it's a grittier version of 'thirtysomething' with more drugtaking, drinking and swearing), and as usual with such things it was head and shoulders over the rest of its proceeding series. I've thought that the 90 minute format used this year did stretch things at times (not enough plot to go round) but on this occasion things were all present and correct; this was one the best episodes in years, and the first time in a long time that it actually felt like 'Cold Feet' (the tone hasn't always been right for the past year or so ... basically since Fay Ripley left).From the opening title sequence which was a direct reference to 'The Big Chill' (how many people watching will have noticed that some of the shots were almost an exact duplicate?) to the slapstick surrounding Rachel's ashes, this was demonstration of the show at it's best, combining comedy and tragedy in the same beats and moments. Those final moments somehow offering a glimpse of how a series never to come might turn out -- Karen finally accepting Ramona as an equal or friends; Pete and Jenny (and l'l Adam) moving back in together as though that last few years haven't happened; David choosing the lawyer for his future; and that last shot ghostly memory of Rachel disappearing into Adam's taxi was simply perfect. See you later, yer bollocks.
Film Currently taking a break from watching the DVD of 'Lost in La Mancha' the documentary with follows the efforts of Terry Gilliam to get his film Don Quixote off the ground again. I'm not expert (on anything as regular readers of this weblog will attest), but if your can't get your actors together for a readthrough, your project may be in trouble. Just the looks Johnny Depp is giving Gilliam as they both watch the production literally being washed away are tragic. Wierd seeing Sally Phillips, Miranda Richardson and Dan Patterson in the cast mugshots; it must be wierd to be cast in a film, be ready to go and then find it isn't happening. I always said that if I ever won big big on the lottery I would contact my five favourite directors and offer them a million to make any film they want. Gilliam would be in there, because anything he turned up, even on that low budget would sure to be extraordinary. [For anyone else who's bought this DVD: Reviewing the things on Radio Five the other week, Mark Kermode explained that the first time he knew his interview had been included on the DVD was when he clicked onto the special features ...]
Plug! Short notice, but the previously review and totally bonza 'Scoop' are playing 'The Pilgrim' in Liverpool this Friday 21st March. Strongly recommended. [review: The Collective]
Comedy I seem to be the only other search result for Dave Gorman Googlewhack Adventure. I hope I haven't ruined things for him ... cool leaflet ...
Life Romantic day. I fell in love twice. Once with Audrey Hepburn during a screening of 'Breakfast at Tiffanys'. Now I understand. The moment where she sits on the window sill and sings 'Moon River' is an absolute delight.

And next with Joey Potter in the last episode of 'Dawsons Creek'. This was a massively romantic return to form as all of the characters somehow ended up at the airport, and said all the things they'd ever need to say. So despite the wayward quality of the series this year (the Joey mugging episode a nadir) this was a great coda, and would have been the perfect end to the whole series ... if season six wasn't just around the corner ...

As you can see I'm trying to find nice things to think about because it looks like war's going to be declared this week and some very ugly things are going to happen. If I don't talk about it much here, it's not because I don't care -- it's because you're all going to be bombarded with it and it'll be nice to think about something else. Take care.