Big Brother Sorry, I know this is becoming a daily routine but I'm enjoying this year more than previous years. I think it's because the housemates are actually trying to bend the system a bit ... thinking things through. During tonight's Tug-O-War contest, one was heard to say 'This is were their trying to get us to hate each other....' When the disco room was revealed the losers worked out where on the outside wall the hidden room would be and tried to hear what was going on. Anyway, just posting because I bumped into this (which I spotted in Digital Spy). Before Jon went into the house he sent an email to fifty of his mates explaining and apologising for his wierd behaviour and rationalising why he would go in there ...
"I don't remember where I was or who I was with and I wouldn't say if I could. I do remember very vividly that someone told me last year that they thought that I "wouldn't be able to hack it inside the House". It was a throw-away comment but from that point onwards I was determined to prove them wrong. I've no great desire to be famous - you all know me to be an essentially private person, and given that I can't sing, dance, act or present, it's hard to see how I would take advantage of my "fame".
One of us ... one of us ... one of us ...
Geography The first paragraph of this piece from Hybrid Magazine is the scariest thing I've read in weeks. Almost as scary is that one of the world's worst dictators is called Charles Taylor, which actually sounds like one of Val Doonican's contemporaries, all woolly jumpers, rocking chairs and slightly tired looking female set dressing. Ladies and Gentlemen, the incomparable talent of Mr Charles Taylor ... the world's evil men need evil sounding names like Davros, Saparmurat Niyazov and The Hooded Claw. Although only one of those three is real, obviously.
Scary The floating graphic that's currently on the China Daily website.
Music Sounds familiar? Worry in Vietnam as dwindling numbers at live concerts are balmed on the mediocre talents of the acts on offer:
"the new wave of young singers only have a few songs up their sleeves and seem more interested in flaunting their names and style than talent, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper. Recently, live shows have been a disappointment for audiences because of the singers’ inexperience and because of the likelihood they will be lip-syncing. As a result, domestic media raised the question of what a live show really should be. New talents are still being brought to the forefront but the question has not really been answered. Are concerts a marketing device to promote new talents or should they be the outcome of an already successful career?"
It's always odd when issues like this become universal. At the moment it is clear that some venues are selling out despite the poor talent on offer and ticket prices (I know of a family of four who went to see S Club at the MEN arena, the total cost over a hundred pounds); I'm wondering how long that will last. Yes, here it attracts kids, but with the depression almost biting now long is that going to last. The big venues are going to have to start offering something really special or they'll be seeing more and more empty seats.

Southport blues

Life Never revisit the favourite places of your childhood, they'll never be the same. I had a day trip to Southport, the seaside town on Merseyside. When I was young it was one of those golden places where you go as a treat at the weekend or during the summer holidays. I remember going one with my Mum and spending the whole day there for a fiver. Went back to day and came home feeling depressed. All of the lovely little shops selling sparkly things have drifted away; as with many British cities, it wasn't much different anymore to the others.

There were some bright spots. An old friend from the Lark Lane Flea Market has opened up a good bookshop there: Iris Books has a large good selection of everything and is worth a visit. Now that I know a bit about architecture, I recognise some great examples of the fifties aesthetic. But as I strolled through the amusement arcades and hovered over the sweet stands selling candy floss and rock, all I could think about is how progress is sometimes a terrible thing.
Theatre This for the wierd productions file ... an English production of Hamlet featuring an all Japanese cast set in rural Russia.
Life I don't like hot weather, and summer has reached the north of England. So whereas people from work went for a drink tonight, all I could think about was coming home and drifting listlessly under the shade, attempting to cool myself off. I've got my window open now, and there is a chill wind seeping in, but my brain is slowly drifting into a heat induced stupor. Think the scene in 2001 when Hal's circuit boards are being reset ... 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do ...'
Big Brother So long Anuska. The person who I thought would win the thing. See you this year's Jade ...
The Internet An update to a previously posted story. Just received an email from Andy & Jish who are behind the fund raiser for Ghyslain the 'Star Wars Kid' -- I punted $5.00 so I'm in the inner circle. It seems Ghyslain and his family are taking legal action against the 'friends' who put it up on the internet, presumably because of the embarassment that's been caused. The lawyer says that he's happy for the gift giving to go ahead. Less fun is that some of the circle have decided that they want a refund ... not sure on the psychology of that. Any ideas?
Life I had planned to post at greater length tonight, but I'm having a real Arthur Dent of a Thursday. Why not read a random weblog you won't have seen before instead?
TV BBCi have unveiled a new interactive service ... I'll let you know ...
Film Further to last night's rather tricksy review of the film within a film from the sublime 'Full Frontal', I just want ot get one thing off my chest. If the internet is massive, and has the ability to answer all questions, wouldn't you think that someone would have transcribed all of the fake credits from the start of that film? That I'd actually know the surnames to all the characters? If anyone has a copy of the film on DVD and would like to send me a list I'll be so grateful I'll send you a copy of the feeling listless soundtrack album. And no point going to the IMDb, because it only gives the first names, and nothing in the Crazy Credits section.
Jewellery A Short Cultural History of Wedding Rings from The Village Voice.
Music Radiohead continue their rise through the album charts in the states.
Big Brother It seems I might spoken too soon. I've actually quite warmed to some of the inmates of Big Brother 4. Federico continues his quest to be deeply unlikable (after causing the group to fail their weekly task on the pedallo because he went to get some gum), and Scott and Ray seem exeedingly bland, the kind of guys who hardly remember being on a night out. All of which said, I was watching the live feed at 6:30 yesterday morning (early starts this week) and they were having an Empire magazine fuelled discussion about film featuring words like Archetypes and structure. Degenerated into football after a while, but for a moment it was golden. Of the girls I'm firmly in the like Anuska and Nush camp. Looking forward now to the petty squables and infighting; like last year though I've a feeling the production crew are going to cook up something really rotten to emotionally drain everyone.
Comics In anticipation of the mutant fest that will be X3, Fametracker offers what is calls "a list of our favourite, lesser-known mutants from X-Men lore. I once seemed to have absorbed, in Rogue like way the power of:

Mutant Power: Uncannily sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure, Migraine can predict oncoming storms caused by high-pressure systems. She knows when storms are coming because she is hit with a crippling migraine and bed-ridden.

How This Helps the X-Men: If a storm is coming and the team is about to fly their jet, Migraine can warn them that they might want to postpone the flight if it's non-essential. Or Storm could then divert the storm, allowing the team to fly the jet safely as planned, while Migraine stays at home in bed and watches the Game Show Network."
Actually I'm looking forward to the introduction, in the new film, of The Scarlett Witch, Quicksilver, Angel and Dazzler ...

Film [spoilers ahead everyone] It isn’t clear initially who the intended audience for new film Rendezvous actually is. Calvin and Francesca (the kind of actors who don’t need surnames) play respectively an up and coming actor and the entertainment journalist who is shadowing him for the article. The only plot in evidence is their gradual romance played out in multiple places (aeroplanes, the back of limousines. movie sets, hotels) over the space of a day. But although it’s obviously been made for a mainstream sensibility, its principles are solidly independent. The pacing is quote languorous. It’s what the characters say that’s important. The approach will be familiar to anyone who has seen Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’, but whereas in that film it was about a couple whose only similarity is their age, here it’s about the business, so themes are stronger. Ironically during the piece actor talks about how impossible it is to make a film in Hollywood about men of colour falling love, which is exactly what the film we are watching is about.

If there is a problem, it’s that there simply isn’t enough dramatic tension to sustain the material. The only excitement occurs when the actor finds a love poem which may or may not be from the journalist. We are fairly sure it is, so it’s more about whether he will realize by the end of the film. But it feels randomly introduced. There are also celebrity a plethora of surprising celebrity cameos which feel like trash can counterparts to something like Altman’s ‘The Player’. The newly spiritual Brad Pitt plays himself in a scene which is supposed to highlight the black actor’s place in Hollywood (side kick, see ‘48 hours’ and ‘Rush Hour’). Harvey Weinstein takes a pitch at a Miramax office (the real place, not the fictional backlot of ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’) which is pure mugging.

But ironically, it’s still a joy. The supposedly autobiographical script by two unknowns sparkles in places; it’s funny and oddly comforting. Sometimes it’s nice for a film to take a fairly conventional approach to unconventional material; that’s a very seventies view and brings to mind the De Niro / Streep romance ‘Falling in Love’. So not going to change cinema, but should break the monotony of a tepid Tuesday night.
Film Casablanca Special Edition DVD coming, with deleted scenes section, and presumably that alternative ending were talks her into staying ... (joke)
Literature Simon Forman, the Elizabethan weblogger (!?!), and his accounts of the original productions of Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline and Richard II.
TV Watching the still extraordinarily good 'State of Play' tonight, did anyone else notice that when Cal was checking his own newspaper's website, it was this in all but name (same menu tabs across the page and everything). Apart from the prop department 'borrowing' some html, it does somewhat confirm that The Herald is supposed to be evoking The Guardian. As far as I can remember it's the only real life paper which hasn't had a name check by someone...
TV You might have noticed that I watch soaps about as much as football -- not at all (which really restricts my participation in some conversations in work, but I digress). I have quality issues but they also seem to require a commitment which looks a bit like marriage, and I'm just not ready for that. So it's a bit shocking for me that Emmerdale Farm, sorry Emmerdale is discussing a sixth weekly episode. Again the quality issue is in there (isn't that going to stretch things even thinner for the actors and the writers) but isn't it forcing addicts to lose another half an hour of their lives?
Life I've been life laundrying today losing some of the stuff I'm just not going to need anymore. At the bottom of one of the boxes, I found what was the worst rejection letter I received after submitting some material for the disapproval of a host of radio producers at the end of the Nineties. Glancing through the pages, I'm embarassed to say that overall they aren't all that great but my concept seems sound, a love story set in the near future, each episode playing on the basic genre and structure of film. Anyway to cut the chase, so that I can drip cream into the gaping open wound, I thought I'd reproduce the letter here. Names and networks have been omitted to save myself from being sued or something:
"I looked at these with interest but I’m afraid my response is a big no. Your ambition is huge which I applauded but I cannot see how a radio drama series which relies so much on references to film, would work for our [the channel] audience. Your work has the feel of a frustrated screen play writer, when what I want from my writers is a real understanding of the potential of radio as a medium, as well as a knowledge of the editorial considerations of the network. Your proposal shows neither I’m afraid. Your characters are too young to be of real interest to our listeners and quite simply not enough happens in each episode to keep the dramatic tension alive and kicking. You just cannot assume everyone has your knowledge and interest in cinema, or in the ups and downs of a couple of teenagers in love.
By the way I was referencing such unpopular and obscure films as Blade Runner, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Star Wars, When Harry Met Sally, Back to the Future, Annie Hall and Amadeus. And it featured a multiple flashback structure which I've never heard on radio before or since. My time will come, I tell you. It will. Bwah, hah, hah.
Music(?) Didn't Eurovision seem like more of an endurance test than usual this year? A bit like the British high street, all of the songs and singers are beginning to look and sound the same; those who showed a little bit of individuality really stuck out. Personally I had a soft spot for Estonia's 'Eighties Coming Back' and the Spanish entry 'Dime', all summer club fever. But as the Australian news site, puts it ... "Poms caned in Eurovision". Our song was awful, it was performed badly and we deserved no points (and I'm sure that we helped invade Iraq can't have helped. No really. I'm certain that Tony Blair would have thought twice if he had known that it would have had a knock on effect for Jemini's chances). There can't have been many people in the country who didn't think that Turkey were about to launch into a cover of a Holly Valance song. That it won, I can only put down to it sounding utterly familiar. To be honest my money was on either the Greek power ballad or tatu (but they ruined their chances by (a) being deeply nervous and singing out of key and (b) not offering the first lesbian kiss on Eurovision). Next year can I suggest that the half time entertainment be They Might Be Giants?
"Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works
That's nobody's business but the Turks"
My favourite moment of the evening? I was watching the show at my Greek friend Fani's house as she and some friends got ready to go out for the evening (I went to an engagement party). Everyone loved the Greek entry, Mando, who's apparently had a massive career in her home country. Carlo, a club DJ, who hadn't seen Eurovision before was utterly bermused by the performance section of the show. I told him the best bit, the votes, was coming up. I explained that it would be excrutiating and political and he didn't seem to get it. But by the time the second country had failed to give Greece any points, he was swearing at the screen and walking out of the room ... I remember when I used to do that. I must be getting jaded and cynical in my old age.