Music New Alanis Morissette album coming in February 2004. "So-Called Chaos" features a more experimental style. "The album's title comes from a song of the same name that is one of Morissette's most adventurous. It begins a detached, looping vocal, and builds into a high-energy chorus in which Morissette sings, "I want to be naked running through the streets/I want to invite this so-called chaos that you think I dare not be," and then climaxes with a wall of distortion." I'm always concerned whenever I see 'wall of distortion' anywhere. I get visions of the Lou Reed album Metal Machine Man.
Music Motown Meets the Beatles. Click through and hear The Four Tops cover Eleanor Rigby.
Life Why is it, having spent the best part of three hours tidying the place it doesn't look any different?
Art Next year's Pirelli Calendar is different.
"Knight approached a range of famous women and asked them to tell him their sexual fantasies, their dreams, their desires, which he would then interpret - using models - month by month in the calendar. A fascinating group of women responded to his request: authors Catherine Millet and Elizabeth Wurtzel, artist Tracey Emin, singers Bjork, Courtney Love and Marianne Faithfull, and actresses Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Seigner, Liv Tyler and Isabella Rossellini, among others."
For some reason I'm reminded of the guy at my school who went around the girls in his class asking them to give him a kiss so that he could make a graph.
Music one of the disappointing aspects of Alex Park's material since leaving the Fame Academy is that outside the indomnitable brilliance of the single Maybe That's What It Takes, the clanging number of cover versions. We were all led to believe that she was going to offer something new counter to Will/Gareth rationalle. Christina Aguilera's Beautiful is a perfect item. Park's cover version (backed by what sounded like the other 'students') isn't. But reading this interview, you get the idea that she knows that:
"'They want to film me in the flat and driving the car, with me saying: 'Oh, I am so thankful for everything you have given me, where you have put me, ra ra ra.' But they need to understand that I am not inside the four walls of the Academy now. All I wanted from Fame Academy was a launch into the music industry. I couldn't give a toss about the flat and the car. Or the champagne, which is still in the fridge. I hate the stuff. It was the BBC's decision to give me these things and I am lucky to have them. But now I am out in the real world and I am struggling with it all. My flat is my sanctuary, the only bit of privacy I have got. They say that everyone wants to see me inside it, but I don't care.''"
Which sounds pretty subversive to me, especially since it's only been a few weeks since she won the thing. She should be careful who's hand your biting though.
TV Bit old, but I somehow managed to overlook this great review of the Linda Smith Room 101 from a couple of weeks ago....
"Starting off with pop at adults who read Harry Potter, her dogmatic but intellectually anorexic arguments failed to back up her choices spectacularly. Leaving aside the ridiculous (and risibly pathetic) notion that adults shouldn't read children's books, Smith revealed the paucity of her intellect by railing that those adults should instead be reading Madame Bovary. Just like the cerebral deadheads who argue along similar lines in The Big Read, the notion of "proper" books is bordering on the fascist. The conceit that Candide is superior to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader solely because it is a "proper book" is as tragic as it is fallacious. In the best of all possible worlds, one cannot even countenance this erroneous hypothesis. I've ploughed through Bovary and, God knows, it's dull beyond belief. It was, for me, one of those tomes that after reading you couldn't help but think that that was a slice of your life you'd never get back."
Somewhere along the line I realised I was never going to get around to reading much Dickens or Hardy and although it depressed my initially I eventually realised it was OK. Once I've finished this, I'm going to be reading this, this, this and this (some more). Variety feels more important somehow.
Life It's been a while since I've felt totally relaxed but for some reason my Christmas shopping trip to Manchester today has evened me out all over. I took a day's flexi time from work and although I left and returned home at roughly the same time as the rest of the week, just having that midweek freedom was enough. To calm me down. So even the train delays, being swamped by teenagers at my table at Starbucks and my package of presents from Amazon still not arriving didn't seem to matter. Bliss.
Film There is no point writing a proper review of a film like The Matrix Revolutions. Anyone who's planning on seeing it should have seen it already and everyone else can just ignore me and go onto the next post. I'm going to be spoiling one or two things for you.

Three reasons why The Matrix Revolutions isn't all that disappointing:

(1) It's innovative. I know considering the lambasting it's been getting on other parts of the web this is a very strange statement, but would we really have been happy if the rest of the films had been exactly the same as the first film. We could all be sitting around now saying how passé bullet time is now and how we wish they were trying something new. By not including the effect in the same form since the first film we are allowed the chance to continue to marvel at that effect still. In this third film we are offered a film series of new ideas. For example, the final battle between Neo and Smith is probably the most powerful hand to hand combat sequence yet seen on film - were have we seen a whole city section being demolished in a battle between two combatants, in the rain?

(2) It's experimental. It might have been very easy to have a film still set largely in The Matrix again but we've seen that. We need to see something new. The defense of Zion is just that - and for me no less exciting or interesting. And it doesn't feature any of the main characters. Rather than following the model of so many other films which shoehorn the main characters into whatever is happening no matter how logical that is, the stars are allowed to go off and do there thing allowing the secondary characters to develop slightly. Some have seen this as a weakness, but it's really a strength. It shows the film maker's saying - bare with us - we want to show you this massive battle which we think you'll enjoy and we'll get back the Neo thing shortly.

(3) It's gung-ho. Forgoing all those really static talky scenes in Reloaded, the guns and fists do the talking here. The Merovingian tries it on again with one of his long speeches and gets the barrel end of a gun to his head. When someone has something to say they say it, rather than give an after dinner speech. It's rerfreshing.

And three reasons why it sucks...

(1) It's The Return of the Jedi. This is getting silly. In Reloaded, just as Leia, Han and the gang went off and did their thing on Cloud City while Luke learnt about becoming a Jedi, so Trinity and Morpheus went off looking for The Keymaster while Neo found out about the nature of being The One. In Revolutions, the film doesn't start properly until Trinity and Morpheus have rescued Neo from the waystation, like they went to save Han. Then everyone gets together for the final battle. Neo like Luke faces up to his biggest fear while on the planet Endor, sorry, Zion the Ewoks, sorry, humans fight off a force of insurmountable size until they don't have to because the lead ship is destroyed / rendered peaceful or inactive.

(2) One of the features of the first film was that we got a feel for The Matrix as a place. As Neo chased through the streets, we saw that this was a full on urban reality filled with human beings just trying to get by in their artificial environment. In this film the place lost all form. Yes, this was part of the story of Smith taking over, but the only inkling we got of anything changing were the monitors going on the blink. For the thread to follow through we needed to see the place in its various states of decay. And show Smith absorb the Oracle wasn't enough.

(3) What the hell happened to Neo? He allows himself to be absorbed by Smith and that's effectively the last we see of him. He stops being a human character with feelings and becomes a virus. Yes it fulfills the prophecies, but it's hardly satisfying. The final coda should be about him, the films were, I thought, about his journey. The last we see of him is being carted off by the machines. Having The Oracle saying "I don't think we've seen the last of him..." just isn't enough. They've left the door open and for some reason I feel cheated - there's nothing worse than a trilogy which decides it's going to be a franchise series after all.

... all of which said I did really enjoy much of it, and wouldn't be too cheesed if The Matrix 4 followed sometime in the future telling the story of Neo's resurrection and humanity and the machines trying to live in harmony and what actually happened to The Matrix next...
TV Some of the items in the BBC's Christmas line-up have sent a chill down my spine. Hold on while I put my radiator on ... that's better .... Do we really need:

"Hosted by Shane Richie, EastEnders Christmas Party will feature Liberty X, Lulu, Jo Brand, Suggs, Greg Rusedski and Richard E Grant for the best night's entertainment the Queen Vic has ever seen - with Mike Reid pulling pints behind the bar and Clarissa Dickson Wright serving up a Christmas feast."
[Oh the humanity. Shane Richie. Lulu. Suggs. REG, what are you doing mate? Remember when you used to appear in films?]

"Other comedy highlights include seasonal editions of My Family, Posh and Becks' Big Impression, Dame Edna - Live At The Palace, Absolutely Fabulous and French & Saunders"
[Or middle of the road sitcom, tired sketch show, tired comedian, tired sitcom, bound to do a Matrix skit this year. What the hell are they thinking?]

"BBC THREE's first Christmas schedule features the television premiere of Our House - The Musical featuring the music of the Eighties most prolific hitmakers - Madness."
[More Suggs then. You'll be comissioning a Night Fever revival next. Just another example of the new and innovative programming being offered by BBC3, along with the movies we've all seen a hundred times before, documentaries about Jerry Hall and Vinnie Jones, and reruns of The Office.]

"Comedy favourites on THREE include an episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps - staged as a musical comedy extravaganza!"
[Because seeing Natalie Casey and Ralph Little singing is such a good idea. Moonlighting has a lot to answer for.]

About the only place where a chill wind doesn't blow is BBC4, and that's only because they'll be showing reruns of some very good old television ... except ...

"The channel will also explore a completely different musical area with country music from Dolly Parton and Nanci Griffith and an exclusive concert from Emmylou Harris."
TV I never actually watched Farscape (more fool me I know, but only so many hours in the day) but I'm still pleased that the series is returning as a wrap-up mini-series. Why? When I was researching for this article I read about the lengths the fans were going to attempting to get the show back on air, including developing and paying for TV ads. It's good to know they didn't completely waste their time.
History I've written many things in this thread at Metafilter regarding the JFK documentary shown on the BBC last night. Yes, Oswald was a lone gunman, acting alone. Who would have thought it ...
Film What are the chances of this actually being true? : "'Cameron was unhappy with his read-throughs,' our source said. 'Ashton did several and each one was worse and worse. Cameron even postponed production because he thought the readings would get better but they didn't. At one point, Cameron suggested that Ashton take acting lessons. Soon after that, they both decided it would be best if Ashton was not in the movie.'" Actually I didn't think he was so bad in Just Married, but that could have been Brittany Murphy making him look good ... [via Fark (you had to ask?)]
The Internet My digital IQ is 69. Although I gained ten points for having a wireless keyboard and a weblog with is linked by over five people. Odd accounting.
Books Unmemorable Book Openings #2 -- 'Doctor Who and The Daleks' by David Whitaker

"I stopped the car at last and let the fog close in around me. I knew I was somewhere on Barnes Common and I had a suspicious idea it was the most deserted part as well. A warm fire and the supper my landlady would have waiting for me seemed as far away as New Zealand. I wondered how long it would take me to walk home to Paddinton and the possible answer didn't do anything to cheer me up. A fitting end to an impossible day, I thought savagely.

"For a start, before breakfast, I'd torn my best sports jacket on a loose screw on the door of my room. It didn't help that I'd been putting off tightening it for weeks so I had nobody to blame but myself. Then later, after I'd driven all the way to Reigate for a job I was after as Assistant Research scientist at Donneby's the big rocket component firm, I found that a nephew of one of the directors had got the post and I'd made the journey for nothing. Now the fog and the prospects of a long, weart walk. I looked at my watch, delayed the decision as long a is possible. Nearly nine o'clock.

"Just as the second hand completed its minute, I heard the sound of running footsteps. Probably someone as lost as I was, I told myself, welcome for a delay from the final decision to begin walking. Suddenly, into the pallid glow of my headlights, a girl appeared. She stopped and I saw her hands moving slightly, and I could see her mouth opening to speak. I tore open the door and ran to her, catching her before she fell to the road..."

[Only really unmemorable for people who think that the series began with two teachers standing in for social services as they follow a strange young girl home to a junkyard to find out what her home life is like. Actually pretty memorable piece of writing if you know what it is. This offers a good explanation. Junkyard or Barnes Common, which do you think has the creepier opening? Well advised to pick up a copy at your local library for old times sake.]
TV TV Cream's Doctor Who celebration is utterly brilliant. Too many great moments to list here but should be commended for somehow shoehorning references into their usual features...
Blog! "On November 23, 1963, just a short time after president Kennedy was killed, Doctor Who was born." -- spatula That sums things up.
That Day Happy Birthday, Doctor! You don't look a day over 900.