Books The Big Reads top 100. My nomination not listed (unsurprisingly), although very good to see Douglas Adams in there. Although the list does feel a bit tainted by the presence of people like Archer.
TV Rachel Dorman emailed regarding 'The Day Britain Stopped', thanking me for the link and pointing me towards and excellent thing I hadn't perviously been aware of:
"I read your post about The Day Britain Stopped on MetaFilter - thanks for posting that, I was facinated by the program and wanted to say a few words myself, but MeFi isn't accepting any new users at the moment and I'm not yet a member, it's quite frustrating. What nobody's mentioned yet in the comments is a program called Alternative Three, which was aired in '77 (i think) and although I haven't watched it yet, I know there's a (somewhat poor quality) download available online for it. I'm bringing this up because, like The Day Britain Stopped, it was a docu-drama and... ok, I can't really find other similarities! I understand the motive for each of the programs was
quite different, Alternative Three was a bit far-fetched, but it's entriguing all the same, especially as, at the time, a lot of people believed that the issues covered were real, and there was a huge uproar. Before my time though, so I wouldn't really know! This is where you can watch the film: although I'm warning you, the site's pretty ugly. This site: tells a bit more about Alternative Three, and is easier on the eyes...
Alternate Three is a great thing, if disturbingly similar to 'Look Around You'. I loved the new film actually (see previous post) but it gets a very mixed review at Off The Telly:
"There simply wasn't a human "thread" running through the whole thing. Initial stories of people affected by the road chaos gave way during the second half to the luckless air traffic controllers on duty that night. The woman initially held responsible for the crash emerged as a main character, although due to the nature of the story she couldn't be introduced until the second half for fear of telegraphing the plot. Likewise the officer overseeing the flow of traffic on the M25 stepped back into the wings after his part of the story was done. Continuity was all over the place."
I agree to be a perfect replication of the documentary genre the scapegoat would have appeared in that form throughout the piece because her place in the history of the thing would already be known at the start. So it is a slightly scewed version of how a real documentary might appear, but for me it was still quite effective.
Film Granted there isn't anything worse than actually having to take your DVDs and videos back to the rental shop after they've been watched, but often it's because you want to keep the thing around. Now Disney are licensing a technology which means that a film with self-destruct after two days.
"The discs stop working when a process similar to rusting makes them unreadable. The discs start off red, but when they are taken out of the package, exposure to oxygen eventually turns the coating black and makes it impenetrable by a DVD laser. Buena Vista hopes the technology will let it crack a wider rental market, since it can sell the DVDs in stores, or almost anywhere, without setting up a system to get the discs back."
How much will it cost? The whole reason rentals are a few pounds is that the shop recoups their costs after ten or so rentals and goes into profit. Each disc will have to be manufactured and packaged, so it's difficult to see how this could be much cheaper than an actual sell-thru disc. Also there is a concern about wastage -- are they going to be biodegradable? Will they damage my DVD player?
Boredom Or rather interesting ways to conteract it while working in a school computer room. As a past prefect of said place, much of this article at Something Awful resonates:
"My favorite anti-boredom activity is carefully rearranging my keyboard. On the average keyboard, with a little work, you can pry pretty much any key loose and simply pop them back in. The wonderful catch is that you don't have to pop them back into their original location, which means all sorts of wonderful things can happen, including alphabetizing your keyboard and spelling out words ... Spelling out things like "you will die at 12:00" and "help trapped in keyboard factory" are a lot of fun if you can get a hold of the letters.
Mostly the kids I was looking after would sit around scanning in pictures of Jet from Gladiators; and I was supposed to have gone to a good school with many intelligent kids.
Life Sometimes I forget that the weekend is coming. I'll know it's there and I'll notice the passage of days from Monday to Friday but then Friday night comes and I realise that the following day I won't be needing to go to work, and that I don't actually have anything planned otherwise; on the Saturday morning I know I've a whole city, country even, of possibilities, but I'll probably spend the day tucked up in bed with my DVD player, not actually wanting to come to terms with the world. Then it gets to Staurday night, and I know there are people out there being out there and I'll have strayed a few feet to my computer writing about my day were nothing much happened to me.
Rings First twenty five pictures of Return of the King. Daren't look at them. [via TheOneRing]
Film For some reason this blurb made me shell out £1.29 in the Oxfam shop in town:
"It is a time of great danger and uncertaintly in the world. Cities are full with orphaned, homeless children. Disease and sickness spread a dark shadow over the land. Roads are unsafe, overrun by criminals who seek out young people for the slave masters. Rules appear obsessed with overseas adventure and war while spirituality and kindness have become forgotten vitures. Into this bleak vision comes hope and deliverance for these opressed children - a crusade led by an unusual group - a crusade led by an unusual group of young people who join forces in a perilous search for the legendary King Richard The Lionhearted..."
This, then is Lionheart, featuring Gabriel Byrne, Eric Stoltz, star (according to the box) of "Memphis Belle". And Dexta (Press Gang) Flecha. I'll get back to you when I've watched it to let you know actually how poor it is... I'm suspecting another classic in the mould of 'King David' featuring Richard Gere. No really.
War This week's Agenda on the BBC World Services looks at the possibility that in the future wars could be fought using non-lethal weapons, although not those funny looking fake guns which shoot out a little flag with the word 'bang' printed on them.
Aviation Time Magazine's exhausting 100 years of flight. This got off the ground?
"One of the most unique models of pioneering-era planes, the Demoiselle (which means "dragonfly") got its name from its insect-like appearance and ultra-light weight. with a fuselage made of bamboo, the Demoiselle measured less than 20 feet long and weighed only 235 pounds. It was the product of Brazilian-born Alberto Santos-Dumont, who was a lover of flying, not greed, and so he gave away the plane's design to anyone who cared to build it. The Demoiselle big hit with a public awed by flight, but not so much with pilots, who were not as impressed with the plane's performance."
Strangely, I now have a hankering for a game of Top Trumps ... "Santos-Dumont Demoiselle...speed...62 mph"
People James King or Jaime King? Please explain Papermag:
"In case you're wondering, King's real name is Jaime. James was a nickname that became her professional name when she came to New York to model and her agency Company Management already had a model named Jaime (Rishar). She's now back to using her real name. "I just want to be called that because I feel it resonates with who I am," she says. "James doesn't resonate with me anymore." Then she adds, "It used to feel right. You know how you grow out of things. It doesn't represent me anymore. It's not my style."
That clears that up then. Another question. Why give up modelling for such a ghastly film career?
Architecture Now that I'm on a water only drinking regime (long story) I do feel a lot healthier, more alert (sometimes) and general more peppy. For some reason this felt like an important thing to say in relation to this new property in Tailand which may well be the most energy efficient house in the world:
"...the house is 14 times more energy-efficient than a conventional house. Moreover, he says, the house embodies a "philosophy of modern living," based on economy, technology, environmental preservation, and social values without sacrificing comfort. This comfort extends to air quality, cooling, lighting, and acoustics despite the reduced load on the environment."
Similar projects are happening throughout the world, but this seems like a step up. Fascinating.
Lunchtime Back at Radio Merseyside. Damn it's uncomfortable sitting this low. A cushion on the floor would be better, if a bit spiritual. When last I wrote I was stuck in the midst of a cliffhanger -- who was the mysterious withheld number? Got my answer last night. Some of you may remember that I have a habit of actually stopping and interacting whenever I'm grabbed by a market researcher in the street. I always leave my mobile number with them when they take the details, and a bit unexcitingly this turned out to be a follow up call for one of those. I think I wierded out the person on the other end of the phone by pretending to be happy to here from them and wishing them a good night. If I've got the time, it's sometimes worth going into the interview offices. Mostly after their incessantly wierd questioning I'll get a pen (always useful). But sometimes ... I did one for British Airways regarding their tv commercials for cheap flights and at the end found myself pocketing £25 in gift vouchers.
Health I have a thing with cat hair. Whenever their is cat hair, or even the idea that cat hair may have been carried into the room by someone, even on a coat, by eyes start to stream. Stick a cat on my lap and I'll get automatic flu symptoms. At least I think that's what it is. Reader's Digest investigates the misdiagnosis of allergies:
"People sniffle, sneeze and have watery eyes for a number of reasons—and allergy is only one explanation. "Many conditions can cause these symptoms," says Jonathan Brostoff, professor of allergy and environmental health at King's College, London. "Many people self-diagnose and buy antihistamines, which may not be the best product for them. Also, allergy tests can be misinterpreted," he says. "It's impossible to know how much disease is missed."
Damn. I've started sniffing. Must be allergic to small A5 magazines ...(think about it).
Film I've been so busy with work, I hadn't even noticed Canne had started. I've just found out from Teletext. This is serious.
People Alan 'Nightcrawler' Cumming profiled by Sidekick:
"Alan has demonstrated a great aptitude for comedy and fantasy, but his talents have led him to bit parts in such films as Stanly Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and Titus, Julie Taymore's adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. I think with this resume and such a strong list of characters behind him, Alan Cumming is in no danger of being without roles in the future. I have high hopes for him personally; I would love to see him in a Harry Potter movie, for instance."
Oh please god no. It didn't do Ken Branagh or Alan Rickman any favours. And do you think in the afterlife Richard Harris is chuffed that Dumbledore was his last screen role (only Orson Welles turn in the strangely cool Transformers: The Movie is a less fitting epitaph). Looking at the list, I thought he'd made many more films than that. Maybe it's just that I've seen more of the things that he's been in than I'd like to admit ...
Film New adaptation of Peter Pan from 'Muriel's Wedding' director PJ Hogan. Olivia Williams is very positive at Empire:
"He has a fantastic twinkly imagination for colour and fantasy but also a great eye for satire. He's totally nailed the amateur psychology of Mr Darling, the children's father, being Captain Hook, who is their worst nightmare. It's all done very tongue-in-cheek but absolutely faithful to JM Barrie. Even the lines are all Barrie."
Although Hook wasn't a brilliant film, I thought it was one of Spielberg's better works, Julia Roberts was just perfect. It'll the fun to see how this turns out ...
TV For some reason, the BBC feels the need to hide it's best programming on BBC Two on a Tuesday night. The Day Britain Stopped tells the story of what might happen if the 'integrated' transport system in the UK could not cope anymore. It made for shocking viewing and would doubtless have made some people question the idea of leaving the house let alone getting on a plane anywhere near Gatwick Airport. You can watch the ninety minute programme online by following the link above if you've got the time and Real One (broadband recommended).

I had planned to write a review of the piece but it's pretty difficult to make sense of in words. I will say how gratify it was that so many other news organisations were prepared to offer their services to make the piece as authentic as possible (even Gary Lineker and Alan Hanson), and congratulate the acting of the interviewees in the programme; very easy to forget that this hasn't happened yet / hopefully won't ever happen.
Lunchtime I'm hunched over a machine on a coffee table in the reception of Radio Merseyside, it's free, but the screen could do with a clean. My mobile phone rang at work earlier. The phone ringing is frowned upon in a call centre for obvious reasons so I had to cancel the call. But it was the number was withheld so now I'm wondering who might have been trying to contact me. No one at home (the usual answer) so I'm a bit intrigued. Worked some overtime until late last night. Jumped a cab home and ended up talking to the taxi driver about the weather (which seems to be the main topic with everyne at the moment) and descibing how I'd heard that in Mesopatania rain was a sign of the gods crying. I'm not sure if this is actually true, but it sounds as though it should be and he didn't correct me. It seems sometimes as though historians could fake an entire ancient civilisation if they wanted to and none of us would know any different.
Life I'm in that wierd week at work with all the late shifts, so updates will be ... sporadic. That said I have been noticing a distinct drop off in the number of visitors over the past few weeks beyond Google referrers, so it would be really nice and handy to know, if you'll pardon the expression, who's still reading this stuff and how often. So if you are a regular can you either email or drop a line in the comments box on this post, and let me know what you like reading. Rather like Buffy writing in more Spike, I'd love to be able to bring you the things you like. You'll also have noticed that I've extended the quiz for another month, so you're still free to enter that. And by the way, Angel has been renewed for a fifth season ...
Shakespeare Skinhead Hamlet
"[Enter HAMLET, followed by GHOST.]

GHOST: Oi! Mush!


GHOST: I was f*cked!

[Exit GHOST.]


[Exit HAMLET.]

[via someone at Metafilter]