Science I first saw the award winning 'Life Story' (shown last night on BBC Four) at university with a cloistered library not unlike those featured in the film. I was captivated. It's a dramatised reconstruction of the events of 1952-3 which led up to the publication of the double helix structure for DNA. In one corner we have Jim Watson and Francis Crick, whose method seems to involve talking the subject to death with each other and their piers until inspiration comes; in the other is Rosalind Franklin a strict methodologist who like a detective needs to know how all the clues fit together before she can come to a conclusion.

The piece was made under the wing of the Horizon production team during a golden age for the programme. The science is at the forefront of the story and the dialogue is needfully technical in places; just in an opening scene set in Paris everyone speaks the native tongue so the scientist blurt the language at each other and it does need some concentration to keep up (although diagrams are helpfully drawn throughout). But apart from that the characterization is perfect; it might not be completely accurate (which I'll come to in a minute) but we very much get under the skin of the factionalised characters presented.

There is a real chemistry between Jeff Goldblum (Watson) and Tom Piggot-Smith (Crick) as they bound about the streets and hallways of Oxford rattling through theory after theory. Juliet Stevenson seems to have the harder task making Franklin sympathetic, but she carries it off perfectly; this is woman whose colleagues find intimidating and difficult; but it's that she's a woman in a man's world who wants to be treated with the same professional courtesy. Her colleagues are granted a privacy she is not.

Crick devoted a chapter of his biography 'What Mad Pursuit’ to the film. An article at the National Centre for Biotechnology Education describes his feelings:
"Although several incidents had been shifted in time and space to enhance the drama, Crick considered it to be a reasonably accurate account and a success. He thought that the sympathetic portrayal of Rosalind Franklin in particular was well-observed, although the scriptwriter had put careless words into her mouth that she, in his opinion, would not have said (Crick and his wife Odile came to know Rosalind quite well before her death). Goldblum's gum-chewing portrayal of Jim, however, Crick thought too manic (Jim Watson had refused to co-operate with the BBC over the production, saying that the film would be too dull).
In one scene, though, Watson was underplayed. He was asked, at a fancy-dress ('tarts and vicars') party, whether he was a real clergyman. In the film, Goldblum is mute, but in real life, Crick recalls, Watson replied that he was and sustained a half-hour long conversation with his young American questioner. Crick recounts her annoyance when she eventually discovered that Watson was not a priest at all.
Watson seems to have softened a little bit. In an interview he gave recently to Bio-IT he said:
” At first I didn't like it, because he (Jeff Goldblum) was unpleasant. But then people said, 'You were!' … (If HBO were to remake it now) well, I used to say John McEnroe, the young McEnroe was the right sort, and the tennis scenes would be better. Goldblum doesn't play tennis ... Or Ben Stiller ... I liked him in 'There's Something About Mary' — that's a great movie!

At least in the United States, I was the only young person who wasn't Jewish; all my friends were Jewish. I thought it was really strange — I'm the only non-Jew, and they cast Jeff Goldblum! But then I realized, I'm culturally Jewish. My mother never believed in the New Testament, you know, 'The meek shall inherit the earth, love thy enemies ...’
In the final moments of the film as the ‘race’ reaches it’s climax we see Crick creating a three dimensional model of DNA from chemistry apparatus (just like that found in a typical secondary school chemistry lab) as Franklin scribbles her theories away on paper. They’re both heading the same direction Crick creating the words which appear on the printed page. But Franklin misses a vital point of reference and Crick completes his model. The final moments of the film are an epic Kubrickian pass through the model. It was an exact replica of the original and it's fate can be found here along with other examples and ideas on how you can build your own.

Along with the recent Copenhagen this is one of the great films about men (and women) of science and has always deserved a wider distribution. With any luck now that seemingly everything has been released on DVD this will turn up as well so more people can see it. [although a VHS version can be bought here at the not very pocket friendly £125 if you're a teacher or lecturer]
Geography Someone has posted a 'review' of Liverpool at The Collective. Pretty much covers all the bases ...
Spam Or rather Spam?
From: Nicole Bradley
"Hi there. I found your email on the internet and you sounded interesting, so I thought I would drop you a quick email. I'm 26, I have a degree in sports medicine, and my goal is to be a physical therapist. I'm single at the moment, but that doesn't mean I'm not looking! :) I'm new to the area, so I don't have a lot of friends, or even acquaintences yet! I'd love to find someone to show me the sites. I don't mean for this to be a trashy "what's your age and type", so I'll stop here. Write me back here if you'd like to find out more. I'd certainly like to find out more about you!"
I'm guessing so because it's from a slightly bizarre hotmail address, but these guys are really getting imaginative. Unless there really is a Nicole ... nah ...
Competition Just a week to go on the latest competition. The entries have been ... non-existent as usual ... I make these things difficult on purpose I suppose ... but if anyone wants to email making a serious attempt I'm sure they'll get something in return ...
Film Chicago. Smug.
Life I was standing at a bus stop today opposite the place of work I left in the lurch last November. I’d been to Manchester picking up some new tracksuit bottoms and witnessing the film Chicago. Somehow I’d managed to pick the time when my old workplace was letting out. Regular readers will know about my sheepishness when it come to old workplaces so stood furtively hoping that a bus (or taxi) would pass by. The gate opened and out walked a bunch of people I didn’t recognize. And one I did. Luckily it was someone I had liked. Although I couldn’t remember his name (and I don’t think I knew it even when I was working there). Paralised I just waved across the road.
”Hello Stu!” He shouted. Then carried on walking.
This is the story of my shortish life. Even though of late my circle of real life friends has got precariously small for some reason people remember me and more significantly my name. I’ll not have seen someone in ten years and the masons in my brain will be leaping about trying to remember their name (this is usually people who haven’t wronged me you understand) and they’ll just say, in that way, Stuart Burns (as though I was the only person they were most expecting to bump into).
Film For the interested (I really should be more highbrow), here is a first look at the still in some cinemas Daredevil on DVD. The interview section of the disc looks very good indeed. [via NewsAskew]
Buffy Because this is increasingly seeming like a day for it, The Daily Record reports that Holly Valance (sic) will be taking over the part of The Vampire Slayer because Sarah Michelle Geller hasn't signed up for the seventh season.
"But producers believe Holly has just what it takes to inject new life into the cult series, which also stars heart- throb David Boreanaz as Angel ... A source said: Holly has been approached and is interested. She would be perfect for the role - she's sexy and energetic. This would be a perfect way for her to break into Hollywood."
Have you people even seen the show? I'm will the bet that there were large partially naked picture of Vallance and Gellar right next to this ... [via Whedonesque]
History? The secret fan fiction of Anne Frank .... is forever throwing up these anomalies. Dare I read further when the synopses include: "See through Anne's eyes after she got captured by the Nazis. This is also my first story here, so reveiws will be appreciated!", "What would happen if Anne Frank could have taken her diary to the camps? Opinions and suggestions welcomed! Please R/R!", "Anne Frank comes back to see what life is like for the next generation. She discoveries sadly that it is somewhat like she experienced. this is a crossover between touched by an angel and Anne Frank.", "Anne Frank haiku" and "I don't own the characters from Anne Frank, they do not belong to anyone as far as I know. What if Anne weren't the only one with a diary?" [via memepool]
Travel How far does something have to go before you realise that your own personal safety is more important than getting from A to B? When Michele Jenkins and a friend caught a taxi in India, the situation slowly but surely began to run away from them:
"Uh, I get air for the car." Air? There wasn't any gas station for blocks. Was he going to suck up a lungfull of dust and blow the tires up himself ? He disappeared into one of the unlabeled doorways and I sat back in a huff. I'd woken up that morning looking forward to an exciting day of tramping around Mougal ruins, not sitting in the back of a hot car in a grubby part of town.
Surprisingly, he was back out in just a moment, but with a big brooding guy in tow. The Big Guy got in the driver's seat and our driver, no longer driving, hunched down in the passenger seat dwarfed by his companion and stared intently out the window.
"Uh, so, who's your friend?" I asked our guy.
"Yes, he is friend," he echoed without looking at me.
"Yeah, but who is he?"
"He is the car owner, he comes with us." His whole manner had changed. His 'friend' seemed to make him nervous and distant. The Big Guy still hadn't said a word to us and now the rickshaw boy clammed up as well.
I'm with Michele -- sometimes acting up is the only way out ... what is that smell anyway?
Life Every now and then I get overloaded. It's when I've watched too many DVDs, watched too much tv, listened to too much music, read too many words, when the world just seems to have its volume control turned up to eleven and people won't stop just being there, making the space I live in seem tiny. It's when I wish it would all stop and let me try and focus on just one thing.
Buffy is just like 'Touched By An Angel'. It is! Listen ...
TV Incredibly for anyone who missed it, The Junkies, the sitcom pilot which would never go to series is still on-line at Not BBC ... it's like Friends with drugs ...
War So what were 'we' supposed to be doing in Iraq anyway? The London Review of Books tries to reclaim the Bullshit ...
"The letters we've published in the LRB in the past weeks trying to reclaim the strong sense of the word 'bullshit' were timely, now that we're having to shield our eyes and ears from a sandstorm of official cant: the cant first of all that kept revising the motives supposedly justifying the present reprise of the Gulf War, which to no one's surprise turned out to be more and more of a humanitarian kind the nearer we came to the actual bombing and shooting; and the cant that goes with the reporting of the war, which is being waged, we're assured, with 'depravity' on one side - e.g. Mr Blair's false claim that two British soldiers had been 'executed', rather than killed in action - and with every humane consideration by the cap-à-pie armoured proponents of Shock and Awe."
I once recoiled in horror at school because I saw somone cooking what I thought was drugs in a Heinz Chicken Soup tin. It turned out actually to be Chicken Soup.
Obituary Nina Simone is dead.
Film A lost silent John Ford film has been found in the archives of Centre National de la Cinématographie, a film financiers in Paris, France:
"Eighty experts have been given the job of restoring 300,000 reels stored there, dating from 1892 to 1952 ... More than 10 years after work began, attention was turned to a decaying hour-long reel titled Drame du Far West. Although Harry Carey was quickly recognised, it was some time before its real title was identified."
The lack of foresight made by people in the past as to saving art, in this case the moving image for future generations and merchandising possibilities is horrific. There was a Shakespeare called ‘Loves Labours Found’ knocking around until some miscreant who had just bought one of his houses after his death decided it wasn’t anything in particular and burnt it as kindling. Some Doctor Who fans break into a cold sweat when they read articles like this one at the Restoration Team site and particularly paragraphs such as this:
"‘We contacted the woman from BBC Enterprises - Pamela Nash - who was in charge of destroying these prints. He asked her why she was destroying old ‘Doctor Who’ episodes. She said "No one wants them, they’re only old black and white prints".

‘I wanted them, as I had just got clearance from the BBC to buy copies of these episodes. And now I knew they were being destroyed. She didn’t seem to care - she had been destroying all the prints, all the negatives and all surviving master copies. Just incinerating them, destroying them - they were lost forever. I had seen all the cards showing when she had junked all the episodes. They had held every single episode of ‘Doctor Who’ up until 1972’.
Everything is saved for some future nostalgia show or other now of course, but frankly considering what’s been lost it’s a bit late now ...
TV My friends at Off The Telly are currently holding a survey for an up and coming article about how television might have influenced us when we were young, and changed our attitude later in life. I think they want to vary the gene pool so if you’ve got ten minutes go here and have a go yourself. It’ll be up until the end of the month.
That Day It wasn’t until 4 o’clock this afternoon that it occurred to me what Easter is about. That it’s a religious holiday celebrating the death and resurrection of a man or more than a man. If there is anyone reading who is offended by that, please let me apologise and offer an explanation. Unlike Christmas, with the exception of church services and the odd radio documentary, we aren’t reminded.

At Christmas, visit a card shop and amongst the Father Christmases and Tweenies, nativity cards of various levels of taste line the shelves. We put up decorations which include stars and angels; some have nativity scenes or defer to the dioramas which appear in town centres. We sing carols which talk about the messiah’s birth.

At Easter, despite the best efforts of Hallmark the sending of Easter cards hasn’t really penetrated. There isn’t the widespreading put up of decorations, although kids do make chicks and eggs at school; we don’t re-enact the crucifixion or the resurrection with little tableaus and frankly hanging a cross up in Williamson Square in Liverpool would be a touch scary. I asked my Mum about Easter songs and she said they tend to be a bit durge like.

Plus I’m not actually part of any organized religion as such. As far as I can gather there are only three of us non-denomination spiritualists in the world and looking at their websites we all differ in some fundamental ways.

It’s almost as though the whole reason for swapping Chocolate eggs isn’t important. It’s about the action, and it feels like as I’m older even that bit isn’t as funny as it used to be. Instead of masses of eggs this year I was grateful to received ‘Withnail & I’ on DVD.

Perhaps I should be grateful I remembered something about it, even though it was too late. Not a total loss yet, maybe.
TV Do you think Dermot Murnaghan would have thought when he was presenting this episode of Channel 4 Daily in 1991 he would be covering a chillingly similar story twelve years later, and in the same time slot? [via TV Ark, the clip at the bottom of the page]
That Day Happy Easter! (at two hours before midnight!)