Theatre I spent last night in the company of Liverpool University Drama Society's production of Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus. Obviously a product of the younger man (written in 1973), not the older gentler person parodied on Radio 4's Dead Ringers ('I was sharing a crumpet with Thora Hurd...') Corpus is an old fashioned British sex comedy in which older men chase after younger women, older women chase after younger men and they all chase after each other.

This was a bare bones production carried along by some really great performances from a really strong ensemble cast playing characters sometimes thirty years older. Staggeringly they never resorted to parody or cliche creating some often touching moments in which Bennett's script shone through (for example in a moment when the mother of the object of a father and son's affections described her daughter's conception at in a doctor's surgery during the blitz; the cast crowded about her, some close than others her words and voice the focus, and the actress held the moment to such a degree that some of the audience (including me) sat on the edge of their seats as well). I've said it before and I'm going to re-iterate -- amateur shows done with talent and passion can be a lot more interesting and entertaining than the so-called professionals.

It brought to mind the time I was at the Albert Dock with my friend Chris. It was a wet, boring afternoon when we were at a loose end, and we had spent the daaay doing Beavis and Butthead impressions to passs the taame. We were passing by the Tate Gallery and who should turn around and look at us but Alan Bennett. He shook his head and carried on walking ...

I was on my way home on the bus after having my hair cut at the little place on School Lane in Liverpool (and the Alan Bennett impression stops here). I'd put my book and away and was making my way towards the door when I spotted one of the actresses from the production I'd seen the night before.
"Excuse me." I said twice.
She turned to look at me.
"We're you in Habeas Corpus last night?"
"Yes!" She said, quiet excited.
"I was there last night. It was very good."
She beamed at me, and waved as I got off the bus. For once I actually got to review something to the person's face.

The latest episode of Panorama. Currently John Simpson in Iraq, which'll change Sunday ...

Single speaker unit creates surround sound. I'm sorry I can't see how this works.

9/11 Transcripts and Police Reports

Avril Lavigne concert DVD. This may not be such a good idea.

Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky Bit of light reading

Schizopolis on DVD. New edition. With commentaries and things. Just bought it in a vanilla edition. Bastard.
Who With so much new Doctor Who buzzing around at the moment in cd and book form, now is a great (and expensive) time to be a fan. The new online adventure Scream of the Shalka begins tonight and it's another fresh take which underlines simply how flexible this format can be. Something strange is happening in what looks like Lancashire, and The Doctor has been sent by powers unknown (I'm betting on The Timelords) to sort it out.

Someone once wrote that The Doctor is a fool proof role that anyone can play. I've never really agreed with that. Imagine most actors in room with Davros, Dalek creator and s/he'll be exterminated before they can get hissy. I'm pleased to say that Richard E Grant is still instantly The Doctor even in voice form. It's hard to believe he's never seen the show when he manages to cram in both a Pertwee-esque 'moment of charm' and that McCoy-like feeling that something else is going on that's none of our business. There is also real chemistry between Grant and new companion, Sophie Okenodo's Alison, and it'll be interesting to see what develops.

They're really helped by Paul Cornell's script, which somehow manages to offer something new and different without dashing away from the essential spirit of the show. Although the opening echoes Pertwee's first story Spearhead from Space, this is a very urban story, the Timelord drifting through a much larger modern landscape, and ironically for a cartoon some of the characterisation is more realistic than the TV series managed at times. Cornell has always been one of the most flexible Doctor Who writers and on the strength of this first episode, it's clear he's worked out yet another way of French polishing the police box. Really do hope they give him an episode of the new TV series to play about with.

The look of the piece is a quantum leap from the Shada remake (still online). Animated properly by Cosgrove Hall, the framing brings to mind Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury as well as some Anime, in its use of static figures moving within a space. The character designs are also good, especially Alison although The Doctor seems quite arch to me -- perhaps this'll be explained in future stories when he find out what he's been up to.

The Doctor is back ... again ... and he's looking really good for his age.
Blog! For your information. Pissed ornithologist Vicky is back online. That is all.
Life Bought myself a new digital camera. It's a SiPix StyleCam Groove, which according to man on the box in the red shirt with his thumbs up is ULTRA SLIM! and ULTRACOOL! Actually its very light weight and cost fifty quid. For the technologically inclined it has a 1.3 Mega Pixel Resolution improved to 2MP via software interpolation. I'm going to try it out in the field over the weekend, but until then, here is a picture of my feet...

... my wooden floor and a massively intense light source. I think my toenails need cutting.
Spam Or rather Wierd Spam ...

"I just searched in Google for wooden ship model and found ranked 94. I have a related website about Travel - Cruises that's purely informational (so I'm NOT a competitor of yours) and I'd like to link to your site.

I consider my site to be one of the best resources for this type of information. I get a decent amount of visitors to it so if I link to you, your site should get some decent traffic from it.

I only link to good quality sites... I think you'll find my site to be high quality as well. In exchange, I would ask that you also link to my site. I've already linked to you and will keep it there for a few days until I hear from you. Please let me know asap if you're interested and i'll send you my information.


Angela Palmer

Five reasons why this may well be spam...

(1) There is of course one thing missing from the email ... the web address of the site which is supposed to be so professional. But if you think latterally and use the email address (copy and pasting into the browser) you actually find a site, which will frankly give you the wiggins and which needless to say doesn't link back here anywhere. So I don't see why I should (not directly).

(2) On the front page of the site 'Angela' says ...

"Hi, My name is Angela, I will be graduating from college with a BA in English next year, but don't get me wrong! I'm a computer geek just like you are! I work as a human editor for a search directory, I also do some web design work and freelance writing in my free time, I hope you enjoy my site!"

No one can complete a college course successfully and hold down that many jobs. What free time? In addition why would someone be a "human directory" -- sure they have computers for that -- unless someone has managed to finally tap the unused part of the human brain.

(3) Her resume says that between 1992 - 1998 she was Freelance Media Planner. Then from 1998 to present she is a Senior Copywriter and goes on to list a mass of companies she's worked for. So that's eleven years. Assuming she started work at the age of 21 that makes her thirty-something. So she's looking young for her age in that photo. There is a reason for this. It's a cut and paste job from this sample resume page from job bank usa. If I was Amy Smith I would be pissed that some other fictional character was trying to steal my life.

(4) I've actually checked and I'm nowhere in the first 100 results on Google for "wooden ship model" and quite what they have to do with Travel - Cruises I'm not sure. At no point on the website does 'Angela' show us her collection of boats. She lists her hobby as reading suspense mystery books and her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark, which is oddly also this Angela's hobby as well. Giving the benefit of the doubt, this girl has had that career and been able raise little Alicia. Busy.

(5) If she was a web designer, there is no way the front page of her website would look like that. In addition she like to randomly pick people to email. This thing was also CC'd to the email address I recently published for The Magnet and for the Sooz charater mailing list for the US version of 'As If'. It's not me, honestly.

What I really don't understand is what Angela's creator is trying to sell. The site links to Amazon etc but I'm sure it's not their work. I think this is a case of a reply being an invitation for more spam. Needless to say ... I'll let this one go ...
That Day Another 11th of the month, another two minutes of silence. If that sounds flippant, it's because I'm slight annoyed with the flipancy this seems to be treated with recently. The point of those two minutes is to remember those who died in war.

But my experience over the past couple of years at various times has been that people stop because they feel as though they have to, like some national peer pressure is being brought to bare. They know what it's for but they don't actually think about it.

There tends to be a lot of people standing or sitting around in shops or offices looking at each other as though they're being stopped from doing what they actually want to be doing, such as talking, drinking tea or texting on their mobile phones. It's sometimes not their fault -- their job might mitigate that they're unable to be silent at the recognised time and they'll honour the dead in their own way at another time.

Which is why I'm wondering tonight if 11/11 could be a national holiday. I'd gladly trade one of the August Bank Holidays so that everything shuts down for a day -- a poignant counterpoint to Christmas but with similar conditions. A British thanksgiving if you will. Then those two minutes could mean something instead of being a moments stutter in an otherwise normal day.
Music Shelby Lynne has a new album imminent, an acoustic concoction she recorded for herself:
"'It (was) the first time in my life that I didn't have a deal,' said Lynne. 'It was great for me. I don't think this record could have been made with a deal. Nobody would have ever let me make this record. It is the most uncommercial ... it is unthinkable to think about putting a record like this out to the public. It is not something they are conditioned to hearing. It has an old time-y feel, the songs and the light production, simple. No fancy stuff. No frills. It would be difficult to put this music out there in comparison to anything else that is mainstream, I guess. It just wouldn't work.' "
I'm a big fan of her prevous work, Love, Shelby, in fact one of the tracks Jesus on a Greyhound is permanently burned to the feeling listless soundtrack. Listening to her early new country albums it is difficult to reconcile the singer -- how can a style change so much? It can, it did and I'm still listening two years later. I'll be interested to hear if this new bare bones approach has led to another change in sensibilities.
Film Isn't this, this (give or take a decade)?
The War Listening to Veterans, Ted Sexauer a Vietnam veteran working for AlterNet tries to rationalise his feeling about the solidiers in Iraq fighting a war he is against.
TV Watching the mostly average 90s film Tapeheads last night (which brought John Cusack and Tim Robbins together on screen for the first time), who should crop up but 24's own George Mason, the actor Xander Berkley in a very tiny part sporting a mockney accent. See if you can take him seriously after you've seen these ...

... in the second picture it looks like he's practicing for the radiation sickness storyline ...
Corrections In a recent review of Rossetti at The Walker, Liverpool we incorrectly hinted that the artist had pets. This is incorrect. We were also unclear as the gentleman's parentage. Mr Nicholas Jones of Liverpool was kind enough to offer the following clarification: "Born 12 May 1828. Baptised Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti. Born the second of four children of Gabriele Rossetti (exiled Italian patriot, Dante scholar and from 1830 Professor of Italian, King's College London) and Frances Polidori Rossetti (governess and teacher). His elder sister Maria Francesca was born the previous year." We apologise to both the artist and his family. Thanks also to Mr Jones for a tipping off some poor research which could have costed us a small fortune. All the of the relevant people have been fired.
Art Jeppe Hein's Bear the Consequences: "When you approach the demarcated space, there's a loud whooshing sound, and a flame billows out of a small hole in the wall. As you move closer, the sound grows louder, and the flame gets bigger (which is a bit frightening)."