Scene Unseen: The Matrix Revisited: The Woman In The Red Dress

Film Simon Pegg the creator of Spaced said recently: "You've got to hand it to the Wachowski brothers, because it took George Lucas twenty years to kill his baby and they did theirs in three and that's good going." I mention that quote because (a) it's very funny and (b) it's very true and underlines the sense of disappointment we all felt at the end of this trilogy. The problem with having the two average sequels is that it means we'll never again look at the first film in quite the same way. One of the strengths of that first time was the anticipation what Neo would do next. Now that anticipation has dissipated, we're left with the sad sense that in fact yes, it was only a movie.

And DVD. Or rather many dvds. Apart from the films, there's been The Animatrix (which I'll cover some other time) and The Matrix Revisited, a cheeky way of selling what should have been a bonus disc with the first film as a separate entity. The main documentary is actually really very good. It lacks the editorialising of something like The Hampster Factor (which considers the making of Twelve Monkeys) or Hearts of Darkess: A Film maker's Apocalypse (Apocalypse Now) and does have an irritating issue with inter-titles appearing every few minutes. But it's entertaining - I don't think I've ever seen producer Joel Silver so passionate about anything and there is the added bonus of letting you ponder again as to whether the rumours about the brothers are true.

There is also a fascinating easter egg. From the Main Menu, select Go Further. Pressing Right on your remote control should reveal The Woman In Red on the right-hand side of the screen. Pressing Enter and a short featurette appears in which Kym Barrett, the film's costume designer, describes the day the actress playing The Woman In The Red Dress visited the set and the effects she had on the men. It's extra-ordinarily funny and in an odd way a real world equivalent of what happens during her scene in the film. And to be honest I can't imagine a male crew member being able to tell the story in quite the same way . . .
Travel I went to Nottingham yesterday, my big city trip for this holiday). It was a learning experience. Here are ten things I learnt:

(1) It's important to have a clear focus on why you're going to a place.

I didn't really know why I was going to Nottingham. When I called to book the train ticket, I told the clerk on the telephone, who was in India I think, that I was going to do the 'Robin Hood' thing. He didn't seem to know what that meant (although his masking skills were fairly good) and as I soon as I said it, it occurred to me that I didn't actually know either. The reason for the visit wasn't because it was on my list of ten places to go before I become boring (six down, four to go); it was probably because I'd done 'Shakespeare country' and 'Braveheart country' and I live in 'Beatles country' (sort of) and it was one more heritage trail to cross off the list - the ability to say in some future conversation: 'I remember when I went to Nottingham . . .'

(2) I might think I'm Michael Palin with his love of train travel. But when you're stuck on a Central Train for two and a half hours you'll be wanting jump out of the window.

I dragged my bones out of bed at 7 in the morning and beyond going ape after reading reports online of the recreation of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Big Brother house (if I'd been the producers I would have kicked everyone out and started again. Apart from Ahmed who sensibly slept through it all) I managed to get bus to the station. True to form, the train was delayed by half an hour (so I could have had a lie in). I wasn't really prepared for the length of the train journey on this occasion. It's a matter of perception, but once I'd devoured my newspaper and set about working my way through William Goldman's Adventures In The Screen Trade, time really began to drag. The navy-type opposite me had pulled out a portable dvd player and I was almost cheeky and asked if I could plug by headphones into the extra phone socket on the back. But when I realized he was watching the Hollywood remake of Ringu I decided against it. Time passed eventually and I was in Nottingham by midday.

(3) Nottingham is were remaindered books go to die

On the way to my first tourist attraction I stumbled upon a massive shop selling remaindered books. Although the ground floor carried the usual publications you'd find in something like The Works, the first floor is filled with items for 50p to £1, in some cases things which are still available at all good high street bookshops at the normal price. Picked up a pretty rare Virgin Doctor Who New Adventure and I probably could have found all kinds of gems if I hadn't been in such a hurry . . .

(4) Robin Hood is a myth

My first stop was at Nottingham Castle. It's fairly close to the station and up a hill (as most of these things are). On the way to the entrance stands a bronze statue of Robin Hood and some of his merry men. To the side is a faded information board which fails to mention who the sculptor was or why the upkeep of what are obviously important attractions is so poor what with Robin having a flypost stuck to his foot and only partially torn away. In Liverpool there would have been a major alert and it would have been gone in hours. Back to trudging up the hill and eventually the Castle entrance hoves into view.

Glad in the knowledge that entry into the castle is free on weekdays (suggesting an interest in visitor figures over revenue) I head into the shop to buy a visitor guide. The two clerks (someone's grannies) are discussing the merits of t-shirts with a gentleman who insists on buying one his size rather than the size above as they are recommending in the knowledge that its going to shrink. After fighting my way through the narrow display racks I ask one of the clerks which is the official guide book (something I buy at every attraction I visit if I can). She hesitates and says:
"The leaflet is cheaper..."
I press her on the point. She offers the guide I'm looking for at £3.50. I take both anyway. As I wait to pay she leans over the desk and says:
"A local historian friend of mine says that Robin Hood is a myth."
"Pardon?" I say.
"Oh yes. In the past when criminals couldn't write or wouldn't give their name so instead they wrote Robin Hood."
"like John Doe?"
Alright. So I've been in Nottingham for about half an hour and already someone has taken it upon themselves to tell me Robin Hood doesn't exist. Now I know how a Japanese tourist might feel had turned around to them and told them John Lennon wasn't a Scouser.

(5) Robin Hood was real

Tales of Robin Hood seems to be the main attraction of note for people to head to if they have stumbled into the Nottingham looking for places of interest connected with the Sherwood vagrant. Rather than showcasing artifacts from the time (there aren't many) it offers an interactive tour through a recreation of Sherwood Forrest in a Ghost Train style. Anyone who's been to the Yorvik Viking Centre in York will know the sort of thing I mean. It's actually very good - rather than trying to 'realistically' create waxwork people, instead there are quite stylized figures which have obviously had the hand of an artist and designer in somewhere. I'm reminded of the animated adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Truckers which was on television a few years ago. The place is staffed by people in period costume, which creates atmosphere, but I wondered if they traveled in on the bus like that or if they changed when they got to work.

Part of the attraction is a small cardboard arrow (given to the visitor on entry) with scratch off panels which corresponds to questions which are asked throughout the walking sections of the tour. The first question is inevitably: Was Robin Hood a myth? I confidently scratched off YES! Only to find it was the wrong answer. So I also scratched off the other panel and realized I'd ruined the card. The actor playing the guardian of the forest wasn't too happy with this, ripped it in two and giving me another one. I didn't argue - he was also the keeper of a very real, very angry looking falcon perched not far from the entrance. So now I didn't know what to believe. At the end of the main tour, a film (actually a well co-ordinated slide show) tells the story of a Raymond Chandler style Private Dick visiting a contemporary Nottingham trying to find out if Robin Hood was indeed real. His findings were inconclusive and that it's pretty much a matter of opinions. My opinion is that he's real. With that decided I could move on.

(6) Bargain water is not always a good thing

Short interlude. On my way up to the castle I stopped off at a newsagents to buy myself a bottle of water. In the fridge there are 500ml bottles and 2l. In front of both the price is listed as 99p. Deciding that it's a mistake I pick up the small bottle and take it to the counter. But because I'm wondering...
"How much?"
"99p" The shop keeper replied.
So how much are the 2 litre bottles?
"99p" I stop and look into his face for the hint of irony. Nothing. I think it over for a second.
"I'll go and get the other one."
Knowing I'll want water throughout the day I buy the larger bottle to bag the bargain and save myself buying more later. Then as I leave the shop and put the thing in my bag I realize that I've made a terrible mistake. It weighs a ton. I can hardly walk. Obviously it gets lighter the more I drink, but really all I'm doing is transferring weight. And I'm running to the toilet throughout the day. I wonder now if it might not have been easier just to progressively pour the water away, literally cutting out the middle man.

(7) Six hours in a place simply isn't long enough

I've visited a fair number of towns and cities in the United Kingdom, more recently they've all started to look the same. Other than Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds I haven't spent all that much time in any of them. The shortest was during a disasterous coach trip to Glasgow (an hour and half). What I have realized is that anything less than a fortnight is probably not long enough. And six hours in Nottingham certainly wasn't long enough. It feels like I'm rushing through everything. Once I'd been to the castle and seen Tales of Robin Hood I only had about three hours before I needed to be getting home. What to do? As much as seeing the tourist attractions I wanted to understand the vibe of the place - how it feels to be there. So I went to the shopping area and started walking. And walking. And got lost. It's massive and confusing. There seem to be three or four large shopping precincts some of which feature the same shops - I ended up walking through the same one twice because I hadn't realized I'd been through already. It all became vaguely oppressive as I ended up shops I could visit at home, like WH Smith or HMV because it was clear that wherever the independent retailers were, they weren't anywhere near the centre. Then suddenly, as the shops began to close, that precious half hour I'd lost at the start of the day began to weigh heavy.

(8) There is a never enough time in a record shop

Whenever I do visit a city I try to find the local record shop. Manchester has Vinyl Exchange, Liverpool has Hairy Records and that place in the basement of The Palace. Midway through the afternoon I thought I'd found it - a shop which was literally selling records, walls and boxes piled high with Vinyl. Digital technology had missed this place in its sweep across the world. When I walked in, the shop owner looked like he hadn't seen anyone in there since the eighties. I checked through some VHS and left, his eyes watching me the whole time I was there.

Then, as the day was drawing to an end and I was thinking about heading to the station I finally stumbled into somewhere with actually cds. It's massive and I don't have nearly enough time. And to make matters worse I get musical amnesia in that I can't remember the titles of any of the albums I've been looking for. Eventually I manage to strangle some names from the depths, like Patricia Kaas, but for some reason I forgot about Lisa Ekdahl and that I've been searching everywhere for something else by Peter Westerberg. I plumb for the soundtrack to the Steven Soderbergh film Out of Sight which turns out to be an utter joy. But that's just desperation - I want more time to dive into the place's riches and it's slipping away. Sure enough as I left there was another one a few metres down the road. 'Not enough time.' I grimaced as I passed by.

(9) Americans are lovely

Almost every pub in Nottingham was filled with people watching the England match and I was looking for something to eat. Then I remembered the oldest pub in England, Trip To Jerusalem which I'd seen on my way up to the castle. For some reason I didn't think it would be that busy on this night. It was empty so I ordered a soup and Pepsi and sat down. The only other people there were two students from Ontario (think Slayer Potentials) and an older couple over from just outside California. One of the girls was playing the bar game, trying to swing a ring on a chain over a rather fierce looking pointy hook on the wall. A conversation was already in swing about it and I was easily pulled in when the man of the couple said:
"Do you think this Englishman has any ideas on the right technique?"
Looking at the two girls I bit my tongue then said:
"Well odds say that if you through it enough times it should go over..."
Which was clumsy I suppose, but enough to get stop me being that quite one in the corner eating while everyone else is talking. Which brings me to the point. I've always felt at ease talking to American tourists. Possibly because of my overexposure to their film industry I always seem to be able to talk about something with them, and on Thursday I managed to work in Baseball, Starbucks, Walmart, Universities and New York. We chatted about soccer for a bit (and freak scorelines) and it turned out the students had played in a girls team. I told them about the big baseball story of the week which they'd missed flying over. They told me about how if you live in California you don't have to pay fees to go to a local University but everyone else does. All of which felt like the right was to end the day.

(10) If someone moves away from you on the train, don't take it personally

My booked seat on the train was opposite an attractive woman with tanned skin and long curly blonde hair. She'd obviously been there a while, since Norwich perhaps, her newspapers already slightly crumpled. She was drinking a plastic cup of wine. Happened to knock her feet as I sat down. I apologized. She smiled and said it was OK. I started getting myself settled. I asked if she knew what the score was - she didn't know, but her mobile phone rang; it was someone to tell her that England had scored and she told me that we were winning two - nil. I smiled and got comfy. We pulled out of the station and I began reading my book. I glanced up to her now and then because I had a nagging feeling of familiarity.

Then all the water I'd drunk during the day really began to kick in. Over the next hour and a half I think I must have gone to the loo about five times. On the next to last occasion I knocked the woman's legs waking her up from a doze. The last time, when I got back she'd moved to the seat behind. I didn't hold it against her - I've been sitting near someone with ants in their pants before and its no fun. But there was a nagging feeling of regret. Then I started to think about her face. Where had I seen before?

Primary school. We were in the same class. She used to bully me. Haven't seen her in twenty years and here we both are. Only then did I remember the look she'd given me the last time I'd gotten up. I thought it was irritation - but she'd recognized me. And rather than have me do the same, she'd moved. Now I didn't feel quite so bad. Made sense -- we'd hated each other at school and I although it had passed me by maybe she still had issues with it. As we were getting off the train, I glanced back and she was standing right behind me. In that moment we both knew and I realized that it had been for the best.
Entertainment Jessy Delfino offers some tips on how not to do open mic...
"5. Don't do an interpretive dance that sucks
If you want to do an interpretive dance that's fine, but just remember - you've been warned. It's best when doing an interpretive dance to mock interpretive dance - for example, do an interpretive dance to "Every Rose Has Its' Thorn" or "Mercedes Boy" by Pebbles. Wear a stupid costume and over interpret. If you are an actual good dancer, then you can do your dance, but please for the love of god, don't dedicate it to a dead relative, a lover who is in the audience, and especially DO NOT cry at any time during your performance."
Reading this I'm afraid to even go back to karaoke. I'm not that bad ... am I?
Blog! What else but Nathan Fillion Firefly movie weblog?
"I couldn't be happier. Everyone has slipped right back in where we left off, but there is a difference. There is some kind of special magic in the ressurection. We all feel it. We are back in a way the series never could be. I have a glad heart when I watch Joss talking to the ship's crew. I can only look at him and smile. I smile a lot these days. More even than I thought I would. Thank you Joss."
Have I entered some alternate reality. Doctor Who is coming back, the H2G2 film is in production and now so is a Firefly film. All I need now is a My So-Called Life reunion with Claire Danes in the middle and I'll know some really is up. [via this as usual]
Music Alanis Morissette is engaged. Had to mention it. Offering congratulations. Two things. Why do many of the linked stories at Google News seem to have a headline which says 'Alanis Morissette engaged to actor as though its the oddest thing in the world. Secondly -- another one bites the dust.
That Day Happy Blog Birthday to you Suw!
Blogging Wired covers the David Winer issue. It's unfortunately one of those times when both parties have rights to complain, no one is really right or wrong. Could Winer have warned people before hand? Sure. But the other issue is that the bloggers involved were using a service offered by an individual, not a company and they really can't expect service in the traditional sense (especially since they weren't paying for it).

When this very site was hosted at Geocities and they effectively closed down blog hosting by stopping the auto-ftp involved they gave some time (about a week or so) to sort something out. I bounced on to one awful host before going Blogspot. For a while I couldn't access the archives of this thing (although the pages existed) and it was frustrating -- but it was just Evan and a couple of mates keeping the thing going and other than a quick bung to lose the banner ad I wasn't paying so I couldn't really grumble.

The Google buyout puts another shine on things -- it has to work for the good of some shareholders and if for whatever reason they decided to take it down I would expect some notice so that I can make other arrangements. Getting on for three years of my life are here and it would be a shame to lose that ongoing record of this time. Which reminds me -- I should get around to backing up the pages.

Actually it's funny looking back over that time and think what I have put up here. It's a constant source of amazement that I'm still able to find something to interest my admittedly small audience after all this time and that I haven't thought about giving it up in ages. To illustrate. I've just visit this food blog, via this good article linked by Anil. It's a site which the year someone spent working her way through everything in Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's one of those blogs set up for a reason which should come to a natural end when the time is right. The following appears in the next to last post:
"This thing was always meant to last a year and no more. I knew that. What I didn?t know, when I started, was how much I would come to rely upon the feedback and encouragement and just plain daily greatness of all of you who?ve so inexplicably agreed to go through this thing with me. I am sure that keeping the blog limping along past its useful life is no good to anyone involved, and the last thing I want to do is jump the shark; I know it?s time to go. But that doesn?t mean I?m necessarily happy about it."
This goes to the core of what a weblog is for. I used to look back at the first year of the site as the Golden age. I posted at least four items a night and attracted a vibrant and vocal readership, which included, good lord, Premiereship footballers (go look back through the guest book). I was forced offline during the summer of 2002 (ironically when I wasn't working and volunteering at the Commonwealth Games -- so I had something to write about along with the time to spend) and when I came back I didn't seem to have the same relish for it. I couldn't find things I wanted to talk about and I was preciously close to turning it into one of those weblogs which simply reiterates the same things that other sites do. Posts are infrequent and halfhearted from the time because didn't know what I was doing anymore -- what the point of the site was. Then slowly I got the hang of it again and now I'm fairly happy with what appears here. It's not the same -- posts are much longer and I don't link to long articles half as much as I used to. The biggest change has been the introduction of more original content -- the Scene Unseen on a Saturday for example. I effectively worked out what the weblog was for -- to write about me and what I thought of the culture which surrounds me. It doesn't have to be 'about' anything else.

The point I seem to be approaching cautiously is that unlike the food writer quoted above, I don't think its possible for a weblog to 'jump the shark' -- or in other words experience a irretrievable drop in quality. It can go through the fallow periods were everything seems a bit off but given time it can come back, different but no less interesting. Post frequencies change and content, but they should ebb and flow with the interests of the writer. That's the point -- 99% of the time its our lives rendered in text (and pictures). As our likes and dislikes and reality develops so will what appears online.

That being the case I can't see myself ever closing the blog down entirely. Even at times when I become busier with work or studying it'll be somewhere I can egotistically throw up my thoughts and ideas and interests for my small but steady readership to look at. Although I don't write about everything on here (what with The Rules and all) it still provides a point of reference for me to see where my life has gone from and too in timespaces large and small. I like that it's always here, somewhere I can run to if need be.

[Additional: That said it would be interesting to know if anyone is reading -- I bring this up from time to time but its important to have a proper survey now and then just to see. So if you've got a second could you do me a favour and use the commenting system to leave the phrase "I DO!", how you discovered the site and anything else you might want to say (and your name if you like -- this'll happen automatically for Blogger uses ... everyone else needs to put it inline with the comment otherwise it flashes up anonymous). Thanks again in advance.]
Who One of the remarkable results of the recently announced new series of Doctor Who is that the original series, all twenty-six years is open for rediscovery by lapsed believers. I'm not sure if the ratings of the ongoing reruns on UKtv Gold have shot up, but within days of the press release, video tapes of old stories disappeared off the shelves of Virgin and HMV and DVD sales shot up. It's almost as though the interested are trying to reignite a shared heritage, parents preparing their kids for the time when they can sit down with them on a Saturday for the appearance of a TARDIS and the growl of a monster much as their parents did with them all those years ago. I keep wanting to make a comparison with the film Field of Dreams about how even though fathers and sons can never communicate there is always baseball to fall back on as a topic. For some people the English equivalent is football; for a pocket of us it was Doctor Who.

Stories still permiate of how the baseball diamond manufactured for that film has now become a place of pilgrimage for people who want to remember the glory days -- for parents to show their kids what it used to be like before sponsorship and high wages took hold -- in effect, the film itself has drifted into reality. They've built it and people come. Extraordinarily for years similar places have existed for fans of the Timelord's adventures. The Doctor Who exhibitions which have opened and closed over the years, collecting together props and merchandise from the series have been a place for people to go and experience their favourite programme. For fans they're even an integral part of their childhood. Even as Tom Baker's moment was prepared for, my parents took me around the place in Blackpool -- through the mock TARDIS doors into a blackness populated by Zygons, Sea Devils and Daleks. I only have vague images of my time there -- giant displays filled with monsters that could come alive. I must have been during the closing moments of its life because it closed its doors in October 1985.

But other exhibitions sprang up. I never visited Longleat -- I dreamed of the giant maze though. For fans the name conjours a moment when the show's popularity peaked and during Easter weekend of 1983 and it was their equivalent of Woodstock as sixty thousand people turned up at the stately homes to meet the living Doctors and companions and see the props - again a similar collective experience to a baseball game and no doubt talked about with the same misty eyes as someone might about the New York Yankees winning the Superbowl. A permanent exhibition stayed there for many years, fighting through even when a fire threatened to destroy all the props and sets held there (it did some damage - the original K9 model - the electrics for which were the cause of the blaze -- was reduced to cinders). It closed in October 2003.

The other exhibition was at Llangollen. It feels right that these things seemed to spring up in random parts of the world, much like the police box. This was attached to the Dapol factory who had the license to make Doctor Who figures and models. I visited here not all that long ago, at the turn of the millennium - one of those lapsed fans. Something about submerging myself in a past pastime and the excitement of the man in the shop telling a new series was being written (which I assume now to be the Big Finish cd plays) led me back to fandom and the sleepless nights I've had trying to rationalize UNIT dating (don't ask - the offside rule has nothing on this soccer fans). It too closed in 2003.

Ironically, all of these places where fans could relive their childhood went at a time when celebrations were happening elsewhere. As well as the Fortieth Anniversary, as The Doctor himself promised on more than one occasion he was coming back. Just when interest was at its highest in years, other than their living rooms to watch old episodes, people had nowhere to go. So its odd in fact that things should travel full circle and something new has opened in Blackpool. The Doctor Who Experience on the Golden Mile brings together the meat of Longleat and Llangollen into a new show which recreates some of the spirit of the past but with brand new displays.

It would be very hard for any fan, childhood or otherwise, not to catch their breath as they step through the new TARDIS themed doorway into the massive first room with a console directly in the middle (especially with the theme tune playing in the background). It's extra-ordinarily detailed - rather than a recreation of a prop its something new - all dials and computer readouts, things flashing across the panels, the time rotor bobbing up and down in the centre. I tried to imagine how a child might consider it - would the lights confuse them or would they want to know what everything does?

The exhibition doesn't particularly tell the story of the making of the series. Although there is a sixties-styled living room in the doorway with a family watching the opening moments of the very first episode (with one of the children - yes - hiding behind the sofa) there isn't a sense of progression. The items themselves don't appear in chronological order. There's a perfectly valid reason for this - sixties props are very hard to come by. As far as I can tell anything which didn't end up in a skip is in private hands. This is a collection of what the BBC had left when the vultures had gone. Not enough to describe the passage of time for the series but what is here is deeply impressive and will still makes you want to run from display cabinet to display cabinet to see what is here.

The layout instead takes the form of a kind of linear maze (a similar format to Llangollen actually) as the costumes and props generally appear in situ, recreations of moments from the show or possible scenes. The approach is similar to the diarramas you might catch at a Natural History Museum and it feels quite apt, alien worlds appearing before your eyes. Some appear in darkness, a surprise lurking at the flick of a switch, light illuminating the sudden appearance of the Magus or The Candyman. All of The Doctor's costumes are here too (except for McGann). Its just simple amazing seeing everything in the flesh (or fibre glass) and imagining the days of films, the long days but also the fun being had. My favourite is probably still K9. It still embodies what the tv series was all about at that time -- it was -- y'know for kids.

A lot of love is obviously on display here and in some ways it seems wrong to find fault, especially since these are early days and it's no doubt going to develop in time for the new series. So instead I'll offer suggestions. There needs to be a coherent policy on signage. Many of the displays appear without any explanation as to what's there (which is a good guessing game for fans I suppose) and others have an A4 sheet of paper with the mid-nineties merchandising logo and a short description of the story being considered. What would be nice is something which gives pertinant story information initially then goes into some depth as to how the piece was constructed. Enough work has been done by series archivist Andrew Pixley for this to be available - perhaps he could be contacted to put something together.

Also, the lighting. The exhibition is awash with disco flashing effects and some displays are incredibly dark. This is obviously an attempt to hide the shortcomings of many of the props (either in terms of construction or age) but in isolated cases it does render them incredibly difficult to see. I remember the Llangollen show having static lighting and it proved to be incredibly effective. I suppose both issues are a reflection of the target audience falling between the casual viewers who want to see A Dalek or A Cyberman and those of us who know the behind the scenes stories and want to see the products themselves.

But these are just niggles. Its just great that in the dawn of the new era we again have somewhere we can go and like that baseball diamond a place we can take our own children to show them a major part of our own childhood, both the series and the exhibitions we excitedly visited with Dad. Yes, there is always the possibility that their media savvy little eyes will look at a Silurian and decide that it's 'a bit crap' and not scary at all. But in the end, actually is it really about them? Give it a year, a decent new series and they'll be as starstruck as you were at their age.

[A more extensive history and visitor information about this new exhibition can be found at The Doctor Who Exhibitions website.]
Live I'm in Blackpool for the day (full report and reasons later...) and currently using their library to check my email and write this. It's certainly some of the most hospitable public access I've used - I simply went up to the counter and asked the clerk if I needed to be a member. She said no, I could be signed on as a guest and before I knew it there was a slip of paper in my hand with a sign up code, I'd been assigned a machine and was told I had an hour. Big difference to the chilly reception I've had in most places - at Manchester library you practically had to promise a pint of blood and a DNA sample...
Buffy The new Chosen One (for the animated series pilot) speaks:
"Here's how I got the role initially for the video games: I auditioned," explains Loren, whose other credits include appearances on GENERAL HOSPITAL and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. "I'm an actress. I studied [Gellar], I learned how and where to place my voice to match hers and then I watched specific seasons of the show to understand her mannerisms, her physicality, her inflections. Finally, I created my version of Buffy as she seems on the page. Joss has created an amazing world and [Gellar] has a very specific style. I just got lucky enough to be able to do it."
So long as her chemistry with Aly, Nic and Tony is good she should do fine. [via Whedonesque]

[Updated: Incidentally I've noticed that this was my 2,500th post on the weblog -- which is truly shocking -- I never thought I had that much to say. I've missed previous landmarks so I think this calls for a celebratory bottle of water -- and in keep with similar TV series a live post. See tomorrow...]
Screen Rants is consistently correct with his film comment and having recently watched Christopher Nolan's first film Following I can only agree with Vic that the memories of the Schumacher entries to the Batman film series are going to be wiped away. Click through for a really interesting photo of the darkish night juming down a stairwell.
Five reasons why Big Brother has suddenly turned into the Doctor Who meta-story Trial of a Timelord:

(1) Some of the participants are essentially sitting around commenting on what happens in the very television series they are part of. And just as The Valyard bent reality to serve his purpose in undermining the case of The Doctor, now Victor is going around saying that Emma said some not very nice things on the opening night.

(2) Surely the infighting between the 'Jungle Cats' and everyone else in the house is a thinly veiled rerun of the conflict between the surface-dwelling Tribe of the Free, led by Queen Katryca (or in this case Nadia), and the planet's other inhabitants, a group of subterranean technocrats and their robotic ruler Drathro (Jason) on the desolate planet Ravolox. I'll let you decide which is the giant phallic symbol in the centre of the village (Big Brother house).

(3) Isn't Marco just a thin, camp, unshaven version of Brian Blessed's warlord character King Yrcanos? Both have the capacity to shout randomly and get excited at the mearest hint of something going wonky. One can only hope at some time in the future Marco too will be frozen in time and disappear for the rest of the story only to reappear again in a blurry photo married to this series own Peri Brown, Michelle.

(4) Speaking of Michelle, she must surely be thinking that Stuart's changed behaviour since she left the house is exactly the same situation as when The Doctor exhibited slightly psychotic tendencies towards Peri on the planet Thoros-Beta in order to impress his new master Sil. Perhaps she's hoping that just like The Doctor, Stuart will chain her to the beach and tell her about his intelligenve ('I've got 4 A-Levels etc).

(5) Avoiding easy humour about which of the housemates most resembles a Vervoid (she's already been evicted) there is the inevitable possibility that just as The Doctor entered the Matrix at the end of trial to tell the The Valyard what he thought of him, Emma will have a chance in a few days to go back into the house and do the same to Victor. Although I've a feeling this story won't end with her disappearing into a Tardis shouting 'Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice' -- Emma in charge of a TARDIS is just too scary a concept...

Next Week: Wasn't Hell's Kitchen just a rerun of the Jon Pertwee starring Inferno? (insert eyepatch joke here)
Film  I've always had issues with action films. I don't have many in my dvd collection and I can count the ones I genuinely love on ten fingers. And when I look at the action films I have enjoyed, it tends to be because I like the characters or the depth of the dialogue. The really clever thing about Jurassic Park, and why it still works even all these years after the shock of seeing dinosaurs has dissipated is because the moments between those vicitms work so well. And so it proves with The Day After Tomorrow. Magazine after magazine has focused on the special effects wizardry and the creation of the weather. These for me were the weakest moments.

The real strength of the piece is the reaction of the people to the impending doom and their compensation of what transpires. Yes, it's fairly interesting to see the tornadoes hammer through LA, and for the blizzards and tidle waves to take hold of New York. But frankly, nothing seen here is any more astounding than Twister or Deep Impact (other than the fact that they mount on top of one another). My favourite scenes don't include the weather, except as the perhipheral cause. Good example: in an unusual twist large sections of the first act of the film take place in a small hut in the highlands of Scotland as three Englishman are the first to notice the unusual readings which would lead to Earth's near destruction and their efforts to get the message out. Unusually for an American film, it doesn't seem forced -- the dialogue feels local -- and without the rest of the theatrics it could be some BBC Two Horizon drama.

Similar moments happen on the other side of the pond as the effects of the storm take hold. Again, I'd take issue with the naysayers who've been poo-pooing the script. Granted there is a moment with wolves which puts the infamous 24 Cougar incident to shame, but again the real drama comes from the isolation of the characters and also the realisation of what's important to mankind and its civilisation. Watch outfor a major politician considering whether North America should be looked at as a giant triage unit and when a librarian makes a passionate plea about which sections of his need to be saved. Speaking of which -- if this thing is so lame brained, how come there's a fabulous moment when two minor characters debate the importance of whether Neizche's work should be burnt which is right on the nose?

So its intelligent, educational, the direction is fascinating and the acting is superb producing a well rounded action drama. But, now that New York has been destroyed by aliens, freak weather conditions and Godzilla, which other Sim City disasters are Emmerich and Devlin going to film next? A remake of Earthquake?
Referer Logs A couple of weeks ago I posted my opinion on whether a certain singer should have a certain record played during the daytime. Since then my referer logs have been alive with search after search. Here is a typical example. I was expecting hatemail. Instead the first comment's appeared in my guestbook:
"Man u heard Jentinas song? Its the most crappest song EVER! I was looking in Google for jentina and ur name came up. Ur writing on this is bit long but very ture. I hate Jentina i have a post bout her on ma blog if u wanna see alright bye"
I don't think I've heard the end of this...
RSS Hasn't anybody got an answer to this question? "Can anyone recommend something which will monitor web pages and then post changes into an RSS feed. I've tried using things like MyRSS but they don't seem to work very well on pages were the content is non-linear. A Google search offers some results but it would be lovely to know about the good ones."
Blog! Now also following the England match via this great text commentary from Nick Harper at The Guardian:
"Gary Neville's bleeding from the head, the poor lamb. Henry did it, I saw him. With his stud. But while he's bleeding, Beckham thumps a shot from 25 yards well over Coco's bar."
Much more interesting than the BBC's version, posted below.
Blogger The edited chapter from The Weblog Handbook is useful, this newish knowledge base page is worth visiting to see Phillip E. Pascuzzo's portrait of Rebecca Blood.
TV Just in case BBC Four are looking to change their on-screen presentation, an anonymous designer offers some really stylish ideas. I really like the way that the next programme idents present a description of the programme over an earthier image than the current sparks -- a development of this could be a shot from the actual programme. This one is particularly stark. But all exemplify the channel's slogan: "Everybody needs a place to think." Each of these extraordinary images is also presented as a wallpaper.
Work The Rules deny me the explanation I want to give at to why this article about Emotional Labour resonates. But it so perfectly tells the story for me, I'll quote the one pertinant paragraph which sums things up:
"On Claire's computer screen, a series of little squares indicates calls waiting, and tells her how long she has been on her current call. If a call has been difficult, there are only eight seconds in which to take a deep breath and compose her voice into the expected tone of friendliness. All the time she's managing her emotional demeanour, she's flicking through a wide range of information on the screen, which she uses to answer customer queries. The system is down for several hours that afternoon. What is striking is how on the one hand Claire is dealing with very rigid systems set down by company procedure and the vagaries of the computer system, while on the other she is expected to convey a sense of naturalness and her own personality."
Have I said too much?
Sport With my "massive" knowledge of football I'm currently listening the England - France game in Euro '04 on Radio Five Live. It's the little details I love "Owen finds space in the box but Gallas mops up for the French and clears the danger." What does that mean?
Life After many months of anticipation, last night I saw a mass choir presentation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. It was a time, with dancers appearing from the audience, me bumping into an old school friend and accidentally dodging into the toilet the choir were using and whistling the main theme along with them. But I have a question. Why will my abiding memory be of the four ignorant people sitting directly in front of me who'd paid nigh on twenty pounds for a ticket but decided to talk all the way through the actual music we were all there to hear? What possible contribution did they think they were making to the experience?