Two Houses

Big Brother So Cameron won after all. I have to admit to cheering, but only in a 'thank God Ray didn't win' kind of way. Yes, he turned out to be nice Cameron all along, and it is something I'm thankful for. There are the gay rights issues (but they're a matter of faith as much is with the man), but overall it could have been a lot worse. The conspiracy theorists are out in force already as to whether the crowd noise on the night was manipulated to drown out some evident booing (and if you read my BB4 pieces you'll know what my feelings on that are -- see the stuff surrounding Lisa). I'll leave this coverage with just one hope ... that Big Brother 5 will be a return to form ... see you in the house (only joking...)
Big Brother So the years series drifts slowly to a hault. I think one banner in the crowd sums up the public's feeling about BB4 'Brian to Win!'. We longed for the old school, for a Nasty Nick moment, for Brian's humour, for Sandy over the roof. But they couldn't even pay off the Jon can't win moment properly (they saw him on the plasma screen but it didn't look as though they could hear what Big Brother was saying to him). Watching Jon leave (again) underlined how he'd been cheated the first time around. He only left because of a double eviction. The public wanted Fed to leave that night. Jon going was the producer's way of saying 'it's our show, we can do what we like, even if it ruins the spirit of the rules and therefore the game'.

Steph coming forth was a forgone conclusion (as the crowd attested), but Scott going now is an utter shock. He was always borderline in my fodder theory but I genuinely thought it would be a head to head between him and Cameron. But instead Ray is there. Ray should have gone out in the early weeks; I hesitate to say week one even; granted he's been the instigator of some of the really big fights in the house, but he's only really been entertaining but only in the same way as watching a moth keep burning it's wings on a light bulb. He never learns.

So I find myself actually saying vote for Cameron. If in fact he has been playing the 'massive game' Jon says he has, and kept it up for nine weeks he deserves something for sheer guile. I would really love him to sit before Davina and be an utterly different person, angry, evasive, brusk, saying that he hated them all and he was just toying with Steph's emotions for fun. But I'm sure he won't do that. He'll be nice Cameron, the cheeky Cameron, the South African Cameron (Cameroon?) who at times has reminded me a lot of myself. There's something a bit shocking, I'm like the Orkney lad not Jon Tickle at all.
TV Channel listings for a Polish TV Channel. Tom Baker in Polish! Victor Meldrew in Polish! This Life and the equally invigorating but quietly forgotten by ITV Metropolis in Polish! While we're sort of in that area of the world didn't everyone else love the long sections of e.r. last night in which Luca and his friend from Croatia spoke in their native language and subtitled in the foreign film style. Anyone saying that the medical drama has stopped innovation needs to be shown a whole series of Holby City in comparisson. Desperately awaiting the gung-ho final episode ...
TV Is Joey really a strong enough character to sustain a spin-off? Just because LeBlanc is the only actor interested is no reason to proceed. Joey's story's been told hasn't it?
Radio Edmonds is back at the BBC. For some reason I find this surprising.
Comedy Regular readers will remember I've mentioned Dave Gorman once or twice before and recently his GoogleWhack Adventure. When I did include a link, for a brief few weeks the only results on the search the words 'googlewhack adventure' were his website and this thing, and for an even briefer time this weblog was actually higher (now it's three from the bottom). The inevitable show has proceeded and now he's taking it to Edinburgh (presumably ahead of the inevitable BBC3 show). He writes about the thing at The Collective, but for some reasons spends a lot of the article talking about his previous adventure (54 and counting ...) I really want to know what happens in this new story though ...
News Just because, Google have produced an advanced news search, which should make it easier to find some article you remember reading the The Guardian a few weeks ago and want to take a look at again (believe me, this happens). Quite why that publication doesn't just adopt the Google way instead of their own shockingly poor engine is beyond me.
Blogging An Experiment [via Vodkabird]
Architecture Moving pictures of the demolition of Pennsylvania Station in New York during the 1960s. I've a print of Grand Central on my wall. Losing these large buildings seems unimaginable to me.
Big Brother The interesting people aren't there any longer. I have a theory about the selection of housemates. There are the interesting ones and the fodder. Anouska is interesting, Justine is fodder. Realistically Ray is fodder too and so is Steph. Imagine if the final four had been Anouska, Jon, Scott and Fed (with Cameron back in on the vote). Now that would have been great television. But no here we are, as the tabloids wet themselves because Ray has a rough temper. Stuff that.

Last night's highlights show was probably the dullest ever. I don't blame Jon for staying in bed for nearly the whole episode. It was like watching half and hour of the live feed in prime time with sporadic diary room entries. There have been massive piss-ups before, but none of them resulted in nothing but sleeping happening the following day.

RI:SE This is only sort of connected, but seriously has it been worth dragging the asses of every evictee into the loft conversion every morning just to see one or two words or to be interupted by Justine? Someone at Digital Spy who hasn't watched it before describes them as looking 'resentful'. Not kidding. Even Nush, who's only been there a few days is look a bit manic. I used to like Iain Lee when he was talking about computer games, but having to be entertaining for two hours a day is really beginning to show. I remember Kelly Brook getting hammered for being a bit poor on The Big Breakfast all those years. She's as nothing to the bag of presenting nerves that is Kate Lawler. Ask her to look good between links, she's fine. Ask her to ask questions and be spontaneous, you're on a hiding to nothing. But perhaps I'm being a bit harsh; I'd be a nervous wreck too if I has to cope with Lee. The only decent idea has been The Big Brother Monitor, but even he looks like he wants to go now. And do we really believe he lives in that room?
Science Having the New Scientist newsletter popping up in my in-box means that I can hear about some really eyebrow raising things at inopportune moments, such as a wheelchair which can be moved using the powers of the human mind. It's still only in development but looks like it could give independence to a great number of disabled people. But other uses will surely follow (although this isn't elaborated upon in the article). But how long can it be before PC World are selling Microsoft Neural Net or an open source version is created for Linux Users (not forgetting the Mac version eight months later).
Quiz! With an 80% confidence, the gender test thinks I'm woman. Bit worried about that.
History Is this what history was like? For the past few weeks on my Sunday walk to the paper shop I've been working my way through I Can Hear It Now: The Sixties, a collection of great speaches and events from that decade: Kennedy, Nixon, King, Armstrong, X. It's illuminating to hear the entire speeches and not the famous edited highlights, everything that came after "To Be Or Not To Be". The narration is intoned by American news anchorman of the time Walter Cronkite, who's voice has feel of import and clarity miles ahead of some British commentators. Now and then I get a twinge as it occurs to me that time and again in the past few years there are parallels with that time, now.

I can imagine in forty years someone not disimilar to me will be listening to Jeremy Paxman narrating the story of this decade. The only difference will be the words. Everything Kennedy says here seems epoch making; in comparison, Blair's words sound like hackwork. Everyone remembers the images of September 11th, but do they remember one work of anything the leaders said afterward; the feel is there, but not the words. Similarly, looking at Bush's comments on the recent deaths of Hussain's sons, the message is muddied. The focus and through thread should be the sons. But while celebrating their deaths he uses the time to re-iterate the common themes which he has repeated over and over since the war started, the massive rewriting of the reasons the war began. There should be humility in the face of death, no matter whose death. His pleasure for some reason feels very wrong. If he's expecting to be remembered for doing the right thing here he's going to be very much mistaken. And there isn't one memorable phrase in there, although he does use the words free or freedom eleven times. Yes, we get it.

The most remembered speeches capture the moment, regardless of what that is. When the prime minister addressed the nation at the advent of war, it should have had the ability to unite the country. Churchill managed it, so why not now? He pays lip service to the divisions (anti-war protestors), and references the reasons the UK went to war in the past, but at no point does he seem to care about the doubters. The most chilling section is "Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.", which references a television programme. And like a message from Mission Impossible, it self distructs in the brain in five seconds, the listener / reader / viewer's opinions unchanged.

It's shattering to see a figure like Alastair Campbell appearing on Channel 4 News defending himself against charges by the BBC of 'sexing up a document' (non-denial-denials and all), then expecting him to be putting good words into our PMs mouth. If Number 10 hadn't reacted to the story it would have been forgotten, but the fell into the trap, realised they were caught then tried to riddle themselves out leaving one man dead and many egos injured.

Why should all this be the case? What's happened in the past decade or so that would lead to a lack of memorable speech writing in political circles and elsewhere? Is it because like Cronkite, the personalities of the past had an extra level of gravitas? Is it possible that if Kennedy had given either of the above speeches we would remember them by proxy because it was him? For some reason the country seems to lack substance at the moment, with the tone being set my the media rather than the government. Which leads to the strong conclusion that we can communicate the message staggeringly well of late, but no one seems to have worked out how to say anything.
Cinemas(?) I actually saw Gaza Strip as part of an Asian Art Festival which is happening around Liverpool this month. The venue was The Blue Coat Chambers, which is an art complex built inside an old school in the city centre (with bookshops, cafes, that sort of thing). I've seen films advertised here before and on this occasion I was really interested, as this would be something I wouldn't necessarily get to see on a big screen. I turned up at the venue monsterously early (50 minutes) and sat in the courtyard outside until fifteen minutes before it was due to start (at 7pm). I tried to queue up, only to be told that they wouldn't be opening the doors until it the film was due to start (!?!) because their wasn't a bar up their just the hall were they're showing the film.

At seven, I happened to be coming out of the loo as people began to file towards me so I skipped up the stairs (having already paid). Entering The Theatre I found ... a large hall with a massive blanket taped across the front, with a table in front upon which sat a DVD player, projector and sound board. Plastic chairs all round. I sat at the front. It felt terribly underground (even though I'd had to climb many stairs to get there). The film started and it occured to me it was being projected in black and white. And here's the rub. In this situation, having only paid £2 to get in, are you going to be the farty who points out that the RGB setting hasn't been selected on either the DVD player or the projector, or are you just going to put up with it because you're watching a very serious film and seeing it in this state gives it a quality. Latter. But I did manage to point it out on the survey slip they gave out at the end (which I'm sure was really important).
Film Sometimes documentaries hurt too much to be watchable, and Gaza Strip is an example. This is the story of the children living the occupied areas who relate their daily existence through sensitive interviews and showing the viewer aspects of their lives. Unsurprisingly they ruminate on death; at the age of thirteen they talk about how they’re not afraid of dying, how they want to by martyrs to the cause. But behind their tough words, in their eyes all you can see is fear. In one moment, a child sits in a barely furnished room and describes the conversation he will have with God when he dies. Even here he finds little comfort as everything he has done in his life to survive physically and spiritually is not enough in the maker’s eyes. He can see no hope for himself. In the closing moments their homes are bulldozed, but tents are soon up in the rubble, in defiance and necessity.

It isn’t an easy film. There is a larger narrative at play, but mainly we see images and ideas. But is difficult to follow in places; although a scrolling message appears at the start it doesn’t add enough context to what we are seeing. It’s similar in many ways to Marc Singer's Dark Days about the people living under New York. But in that film a disembodied voice explained what we were seeing, placed it in context and made the ‘story’ more affecting. Here, as tragic moments pass, a viewer with only a smattering of priory knowledge of the situation would find it difficult to understand why things are happening, how the people are in this terrible situation. Cleverly then, the film demands that the watcher learns more of their own accord, perhaps with a view to revisiting the film with this new found context. Until then we sit in utter amazement that the film was made at all.
Shakespeare the cd boxset. I've always found that some plays work better than others in audio, which is odd because when the plays were produced for the most part the masses were left with a bare stage in The Globe and had to imagine the locale. But sometimes, it takes a previous understanding of the action to understand what is happening. For example, imagine listening to Romeo and Juliet for the first time without a prior introduction, and in particular the balcony scene. It's not all that clear that there is a balcony and the Baz Luhrman adaptation accepted it is really important that the space separates them. For me it represents the gap between the two families. In audio it wouldn't be there, the two lovers might as well be in the same room which doesn't work at all.

What I would like to hear is the play done in the mode of this, with each actor becoming a speaker. Perhaps stage hands could move the speakers about during the performance -- perhaps the Juliet amp could be placed much higher than Romeo creating that space again. [via AJ]
Film Robert Roderiguez has dumped celluloid as a medium and has made Spy Kids 3D and Once Upon A Time In Mexico on high definition digital tape. Apparently the look is stunning; I just hope that nothing lost with the conversion to film for projection. Having seen Attack of the Clones in Digital Projection then in Analogue, I found the picture to be a bit puffy around the edges, and blured in other places. But the director doesn't seem to see any issues:
"For all his speed, Rodriguez swears the high-definition product is better than anything he could have produced on film. For Mexico, he says, he could never have caught every scar and pockmark of actor Danny Trejo, captured the harsh Mexican landscape with such detail you could see wet paint glistening on buildings, or zoomed instantly from across the room to an eyeball shot of actor Johnny Depp, without using high-def digital tape.
I'm thinking the DVD will look very, very good indeed.