Spam Someone's just Nigeria scam spammed by guestbook. Ah yes -- but is it art? I'm just disappointed that they haven't attempted to answer any of the questions ... Brewster's Millions would be a favourite film obviously ...
BookCrossing Traffic: The Screenplay, found at The Filmworks in Manchester. The findee wrote:
"the book sat very out of place on a metal table at the entrance to manchesters printworks uci cinema, yet being a screenplay it was not out of
place at all. i picked it up out of curiosity and was excited to find it was one of the books i had heard about on the news. unfortuneately, being a screenplay i have to admit that i read it out of some self manifested stigma originating from the fact that since the book was left there for someone to find and read before passing on, i had to read it. traffic great film, just never been into screenplays....the book if such a thing exists would of been more enjoyable....for me that is.... i hope you enjoy the experience of being part of something new and creative as much as i have. later
This is really interesting. Someone I don't know has a book I had a week ago on my shelf.
Who From the Outpost Gallifrey New Series News Page:
"Bill Nighy appears to be the front-runner for the role of the Doctor, being writer/producer Russell Davies' first choice. Now, another article in the Telegraph quotes television presenter Richard Bacon, who says the veteran actor is a "shoo-in" for the job. "I'm very good mates with the League of Gentlemen writer Mark Gatiss, who's going to be writing the show with Russell T. Davies. Mark says it's Nighy for the lead, and he's in the know on this."
Good news if true that Gatiss is involved, because it means actual fans who have written the series in off-tv formats are working on it, not pointless hacks who think the TARDIS has a cloaking device etc etc. Unfortunately it sounds like the news was carried Ferris Bueller's Day Off-style ("My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night....") And with this quote the series link to Blue Peter continues ever onward. Who could forget that amazing (!) episode when Bacon's friend Konnie Huq turned up dressed as Tom Baker?
TV Disney plans Freeview TV channel and show what exactly? That said they own Miramax ... but aren't there rights issues? Very confusing...
TV For anyone who hasn't noticed, the 24 weblog is back. Good to see you again James. In related news, Keifer Sutherland really wanted to kill off Jack Bauer in the last series. That'd be like e.r. without Mark Green ... oh err .... [via tvtattle]
People Gene Wilder apparently definately not dead. Good news. Long story.
Literature It's the end of National Poetry Day so for no reason I can write about here I thought I'd offer this bit of four hundred year old poetry which is a perfect examples of why men know nothing about women. It's from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. It's the final speech from The Duke at the end of the play.

For those not familiar, in brief, The Duke has spent much of the thing running around in disguise tidying up after he left his deputy in charge of his city in an attempt to clean up the city -- while The Duke wants to tidy up the people's attitude Angelo brings in some far more draconian laws than he was expecting. In one sub-plot Isabella, a nun, watches as her brother Claudio is condemned to death for making his girlfriend pregnant out of wedlock. The deputy, Angelo, offers to set the brother free if Isabella will sleep with him. The Duke manipulates the action so that Angelo sleeps with one of his ex-girlfriends and the brother is freed. Now see what he does here:

She, Claudio, that you wrong'd, look you restore.
Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo:
I have confess'd her and I know her virtue.
Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness:
There's more behind that is more gratulate.
Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy:
We shill employ thee in a worthier place.
Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home
The head of Ragozine for Claudio's:
The offence pardons itself. Dear Isabel,
I have a motion much imports your good;
Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,
What's mine is yours and what is yours is mine.
So, bring us to our palace; where we'll show
What's yet behind, that's meet you all should know.

So basically, The Duke having saved Isabella from sleeping with Angelo and breaking her holy orders and beliefs (the real issue at hand) offers her the same thing, grinning as he does so. In no production that I've seen has he had his way with her. At least she dashed off the stage. The best reaction was a slap across the face and a push of the throne, which is about what he deserves.
Technology Although there was some publicity a few weeks ago regarding the installation by McDonalds of Wi-fi nodes in their restaurants so that people could us their laptops to log-on while their tucking into a Big Mac, it wasn't mentioned that they would be installing terminals in their restaurants as well. But that's what's been happening both in Liverpool and Manchester and last night even though I'm on a diet I wanted to check my email so I decided to test the service.

Tokens are picked up during the meal order. They're small piece of not quite card / not quite paper, red with the yellow McDonalds Arcs, and had been ready printed. The system is similar to that in operation at the 'easyeverything' chain for a few years. Here the cost is £1 for half and hour, £2 for an hour. I decided to try using the service with a meal, so duly ordered a Big Mac Meal. For a 'medium' I seemed to get a hell of a lot of fries.

The internet terminal consists of an 17" LCD touchscreen with in a wooden frame. The keyboard is the metal design familiar to anyone who has used the BT Broadband callboxes, but here lacks the trackball. As with 'easyeverything' the user enters the code number (in this case using a e-pad on the screen) and then access is granted. Rather than being on ordinary tables, the terminals are set into wall facing bars in a corner of the restaurant (and I use the term loosely) and ordinary chair level.

Which all sounds simple enough. Until you actually try to do anything. Without the trackball, the user is left to move the pointer around the screen with their finger. Because the screen is set to 1024x768 the boxes are very small so it takes several attempts to select the Address box. The keyboard barely registers key presses so tabbing is out of the question. It then takes many tries to get the URL in. I eventually managed to get Google in. It only then I notice the small keyboard icon in the corner of the screen. Clicking this brought up a keyboard on the touch screen, which was easier to use. Just. Facing the viewer head on it still look some time to type anything.

Search for Metafiler which Google duly finds. Clicking through brings up an error saying the page is blocked for 'security reasons'. Try Vodkabird and it says that it couldn't download it due to errors. I manage to get the BBC site to work after a couple of tries. By now I'm ten minutes into my credit and I haven't even looked at anything. Try Fark as a joke, and despite the slightly dodgy links (content wise) on the front page, it appears. Then I tried to scroll. Because of the screen resolution the right hand scroll bar is very slim and the down arrow tiny. And very close to the wooden frame. So the only way to scroll is to use your little finger and even then it's hardly adequate. Plus the screen is greasy… there is an answer for why most of this doesn't work.

THIS IS MCDONALDS! Who but the Hamburgler could think that putting Internet terminals in a burger restaurant would be a good idea? The keyboard is flat and metal to stop spillages getting into the works. But that means its impossible to work and it had obviously been given a wipe over because it was the gunk which was making the keys unresponsive. For some reason the keyboards are mounted at the back of the table, behind the keyboard so it's almost impossible to see which keys you're using let alone actually be able to reach the back ones.

There is nowhere to put your meal. If you're going to have terminals in a restaurant, surely half the point is that people are going to eat while they surf. But the space between the terminals is only big enough to fit one of their brown trays. It's also fairly obvious they don't clean the touchscreens as often as the tables, so the grease from my fingers from my burger and fries will have been mixing with everyone else's quite nicely and unhygenically. And collecting in the edges of the screen in the wooden frame, obviously put there for it's aesthetic value rather than to aid the user paying £2 an hour.

They also obviously haven't considered The Megan Factor. From the early days McDonald's ad campaigns and marketing strategies have been geared towards attracting children. Brightly coloured screens with the McDonald's logo are like actually giving candy to a baby. Megan, is a three year old who sitting on the terminal next to me. Before you get visions of some wunderkinder looking up stock market details at the 'Bloomberg' site, this little monster seems happy to prod menacingly at the touchscreen making the token entry e-pad appear and disappear. And when she gets bored with that just starts hitting away at it with her fist until 'page not displayed' appears and she becames disinterested. In the mean time, rocking the tray with my meal on back and forth, nearly knocking my Coke over when she falls off her chair.

She is one of five kids who have been brought over by a mother. As far as I can gather only three of them were hers. The other two had been brought out in the car. And Megan wouldn't be brought out in the car anymore unless they BEHAVED. I heard this five times. And Megan's name at least fifty. Which is why I will remember it for the rest of my life. Her big sister is using the terminal next door while the other three, of assorted nursery school age dash about amongst the tables and terminals. As I'm trying to do anything on the terminal I'm using I can hear the mother saying 'You've spelt S-Club wrong.' I then find out the terminals have speakers which really work because she go to some Japanese cartoon website and decides to play a racing game which consists of nothing but engine noises.

After all this I gave up after fifteen minutes, wolfed down the rest of my food and dashed out of the restaurant. As I exited the terminal told me I would keep the time on my token to the nearest five minutes. Joy. Really be using that then. Usually in a review like this you might suggest ways that things could be improved. I could say that the majority of the terminals might be at stool level, a trackball could be install and the touch screen be part of the usual cleaning regimen. But frankly I can't be bothered. This is the worst idea thought of by anyone at anytime, and after the initial try-me phase deserves to die a very slow death. Mcdonalds is apparently in trouble, closing some outlets and not opening new ones at the rate they once were. It's lame brained ideas like this one that can only accelerate their downfall.
Life Tiredness, unpacking and work prevail. Back soon.
Journalism Kill Albom? The editor of the Detroit Free Press found herself in an ultimately impossible situation over a review of a book by Mitch Albom, one of her staff writers. Sensing it might not be an entirely valid position for one of his colleagues to review the book, she farmed it out to a freelancer -- who then proceeded to write an unmercilessly negative review. Left with the choice of publishing and looking like she was trying to be an apologist, she killed the review. Which then ment she was open to the criticism that she'd not printed the piece because it was criticising a colleague. Using her paper's columns section she gives her right to reply.

This kind of conflict is on the increase as larger media organisations offer so many strands. There wasn't anything more disconcerting than the BBC covering it's own day in court during the Hutton Enquiry, and The Today Programme having to report dispassionately the reports which were being levelled at it. On a smaller scale, it's always been vaguely stupifying in Doctor Who Magazine (which I can talk about because the timelord is suddenly another word for cool. Yes it is) in their review section, that the small team who work there will variously describe new output as bland, average or disappointing, and the writer of the book or audio adventure under consideration actually works on the magazine or give frequent interviews. Thick skins all around. [vi aj]
Film Since I'm refusing to buy The Matrix Reloaded on DVD now on the grounds that a special edition box set will no doubt turn up soon, I decided to bridge the gap by seeing it on the IMAX format. This is the first time a feature film has appeared in the format, but in the UK it's certainly the biggest release.

This is not, however, an IMAX film. In other words it wasn't made in dual formats - the film's original ratio has been blown up digitally to these massive proportions. The issues are obvious. The usual IMAX ration is square so the effect is very similar to watching a widescreen film on a non-widescreen telly, only massive. The IMAX format also allows for much greater detail in the image. Here the blow up, although highlighting some detail at times looks - well - like a big VHS copy, colours swimming together and the real bugbear of home cinema users, edge enhancement on a grand scale. Lastly, in an IMAX film there are few close-ups because the viewer's eyesight can't take the whole image in; in two shots your left moving your head from side to side so that you can take as much in as possible.

The overall effect, though, is staggering. Even in this format, the viewer feels like they're in the centre of the action. I defy anyone not to get the feeling of movement as the Nebukadnezar swoops into Zion or as Trinity takes to the freeway on a motorcycle. The soundtrack has also been pumped up seating shaking as the action thumps away. There were people sitting as far back as possible in the auditorium, but frankly, what's the point. So there I was four rows back looking up slightly. A whole host of details are suddenly obvious, such as the quality of shaving materials available to the cast. Greyshading to a man, especially Keanu - nitpickers will glory as a tuft of stubble disappears and reappears as shots drift past. How some of the extras in the announcement to Zion scene really get into their miniscule parts hanging on Morpheus every word.

Because of the size of the IMAX reel, in the past feature films which have been rereleased in the the format have been trimmed. I discussed this with the usher beforehand and she said that she knew it was shorter but she couldn't tell where. If it was true, I couldn't either really. If anything has been trimmed it's been done very subtly and actually feels like a punchier piece. The Neo meets the architect scene seemed to go on forever in the cut I saw on the original release, but here it went very quickly and I didn't notice anything missing. Perhaps because I was paying more attention this time - I hadn't noticed the implication that the Merovingian had been taking advantage of the blonde in the bathroom after the cake incident - I can't have been that slow, surely? (well alright probably) Perhaps if everyone had seen this cut, the critical reaction wouldn't be as mixed. Just felt like a better film somehow. If anyone else has seen this in IMAX they'd like to tell me whether they saw anything missing.

So it's the perfect way to bridge the gap until November when Revolutions is released. Unless you're going to be buying the DVD in which case you're not gaining too much. Go and see something else in IMAX instead. Can I recommend Grand Canyon?
Life I'm starting work again tomorrow after the two week break, the longest period I've been away since I started there. I feel like I'm starting again, as though I'm forteeen days behind everyone else. It's felt like a genuinely long time, the move the Monday before last an age away. Luckily I've got my birthday week booked off at the end of the month, so that's softening the blow.
Film Another Top 100 films, but this is the product of Tv Cream and is more special (and I'd hazard closer to your opinion) than the usual lists. I won't give away the top film but if I mention that 'Psychomania', 'The Belles of St Trinians', 'The President's Analyst' and 'Time Bandits' are all in there you'll get the idea. Purposefully obscure at times? Sure. After all, there are still no places for 'Krush Groove' or 'Electric Dreams' ...