Music Long term readers may remember a piece I wrote some time ago regarding the treatment of Solomon Linda's Mbube by the larger music corporations who have been using it without knocking back royalties to his family. Extra-ordinarily, said corporations, forever knashing away because of their music being stolen by file sharers and the like in this case were refusing to give credit where it's due. For example, after a few bars turned up in the film The Lion King, the musical version of the film features a full scale rendering of 'A Lion Sleeps Tonight' which borrows directly from Mbube. Now Linda's family has had enough and have decided to sue Disney for unpaid royalties because they are the most active user of the song. It's a legal minefield for reasons which are clearer from my older link. I'm going to try and keep my eye on this one.

Scene Unseen:
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Film  The other day on the prompting of another weblog I downloaded a parody of Star Wars and the Mike Judge film Office Space. The expectantly titled Office Space Wars is a fairly funny addition to the ongoing list of fan films which bring the props of the Lucas universe to another film (the best of these is TROOPS following a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers as they play clear up to the mess Luke Skywalker is leaving on Tattoine in the style of reality show COPS). These Wars moments are nothing new and unusually, it's the professional film makers who began this trend. Since A New Hope made its debut, references have appeared all over. Mel Brook's Spaceballs is one long skit. But for me, it's the subtler moments which work the best - the verbal reference (see Kevin Smith's entire career) or props which appear long enough to register and is gone. How unexpected was it to see a Star Wars party in the middle of Woody Allen's Celebrity?

This moment from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is my favourite. Bueller, having talked his best friend Cameron to cut school and to lend him his father's car ('1958 Ferrari 250 GTS California. Less than a hundred were made') for a spin in the city with his girlfriend Sloan. Understanding that such an automobile will slow them down in the big city, and completely against Cameron's better judgment, they drop the car at a midtown garage for the duration of the visit. We can tell something is up because of the sheer politeness of the attendant. This borne out as the friends walk away, completely missing the attendants leaving the garage at high speed behind, cheering as they go. It's a hilarious moment and unusually for a comedy moment has serious consequences for the ending of the film. Laugh made, plot point gained.

But the sheer genius of the film means that things aren't left hanging. Later as Mr Rooney, Bueller's headteacher attempts to break into his student's house to get to the bottom of his absence, we cut away . . . and the opening bars of John William's Star Wars score fill the speakers as the underside of the Ferrari engulfs the screen, much like the star destroyer at the beginning of A New Hope. It's in slow motion and like that tool of the Imperial forces seems to go on forever. Cut to the attendants utter joy painted across their faces as they take it for the leap it was meant for; back then to the original shot at the car speeds at light speed into the distance, the score winding down as they become a spot on the horizon.

The reason that's its one of the best references is that is works on more than one level. The problem with something like Spaceballs is that you generally have to know the trilogy fairly well to find it amusing. Here the moment is hilarious even if you missed A New Hope, but there are other resonances if Lucas has touched you. For non-fans, as well as the flying car, there is the look on the faces of the attendants doing what any car or even non-car person I'm sure would love to do; but there is also the thought of Cameron's reaction when he finds out what's been happening to his dad's car in his absence and how Ferris is going to weazle himself out of this one. The positioning of that opening shot will impress fans of the trilogy (quick question if Doctor Who fans are 'Whovians' and Star Trek fans are 'Trekkers' or 'Trekkies', what are Star Wars fans?). There is also a retro-cool for cineastes in seeing one of film's genuine character men Richard Edson (who three years before was the lead in classic Jim Jarmusch indie film Stranger Than Paradise) in such a small but significant role in one of the classic films of the 1980s. Name me another Star Wars reference in a movie which has all of that...

Paul Jenkins, the documentary film maker behind The Russian Newspaper Murders showing soon on BBC Four: "I had to do a security assessment, not only for myself and the crew, but also for the people taking part in the film and helping us on the ground in Togliatti. There was an uncomfortable period where one wondered whether, in fact, we were the reason for the second editor's murder because we were bringing attention to the paper's investigations. After a period of study, it became clear to me that we probably weren't responsible for the murder but we may have influenced the timing - assuming of course that it was indeed retribution for journalistic activity, and not hooligan activity as the authorities are claiming."

Conversations with the So-called "Booth Babes" of E3 2004: "It's hard," she replies. "I'm standing on my feet all day, but sometimes I break into an English accent and it helps pass the time." She flashes a warm smile, and touches my arm conspiratorially as her voice shifts easily into a London lilt. "I've learned a lot here, though. Before this, I didn't even know what an MMORPG was." [via]

Library Clock Has 'IIII' instead of'IV': "The Horological Institute says that it may be that the Romans avoided the common four in favor of IIII because I and V are the first two letters of the Latin spelling of the name for the Roman God Jupiter (Ivpiter). The institute said it also may have to do with balance, as eight is denoted as VIII and the opposite number of four also would have four letters if it was IIII." [via]

Degrassi: The Next Generation: "The acting sucks, yet you just get absorbed by the characters and their stories," says Emma Gerstein, 17, who goes to Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago. "It deals with real issues almost better than any other show I've seen. A lot of teen shows focus on a problem per episode and then move on. In 'Degrassi,' you see the character evolve." (As Banky in Chasing Amy might offer: "What can I say? I just have a thing about girls who say aboot...")

Dobbs at Metafilter offers a perspective on the passing of Brando: "Fynbo, who admittedly i had a little crush on, was so wrapped up in the film (which I assume she'd seen many times) that, even in the darkness, from the other side of the room, I could see her flush. When Brando changed T-shirts, I heard an almost inaudible whimper. Watching her watch that film is one of the most memorable moments in my life, simultaneously awakening me to the wonders of film, the power of imagination/fantasy, and the majesty of Williams' words."
Film I might have some of this stuff already, and I might have been disappointed with the ending, but who couldn't drool at The Matrix DVD boxset listed at HMV of late. A new transfer of the first good film is a draw as is "Matrix Reloaded Extended Version (190 Minutes) - New Cut Incorporating 55 Minutes Of Footage Shot For The 'Enter The Matrix' Game" which'll save many of us from having to wade through the apparently disappointing game... [via]
Travel "It's kind of like when you go on a vacation. You plan everything but then one day you make a wrong turn or take a detour and you end up in some crazy place you can't even find on the map, doing something you never thougth you'd do. You feel a little lost while it's happening, but later you realize it was the best part of the whole trip." -- Eddie in the film Threesome
TV So yes, the BBC failed to secure the usage of the Daleks in the new series of Doctor Who (Warning the following two and a bit paragraphs contain injokes which some non-fans may find disturbing). The media have wildly suggested that this is a very bad thing, that the timelord is nothing without his nemesis and that everything is downhill from now onwards. Well no. Actually the lack of Daleks is very good thing indeed. It means that when we sit down on Saturday night we'll not only have something which is respectful of the past but will also look to the future. It'll have monsters which work within a twenty-first century context. No matter how hard you work, unless you go the whole hog (and its rumoured that the reasons the negotiations fell down is because Russell and friends wanted to make them vicious bastards and the Terry Nation Estate bauked) they do seem a bit pathetic in relation to threats which have appeared on screen in the intervening years such as The Borg, the Independence Day aliens, or indeed Aliens. Kids need something more than a cone on casters nowadays.

One additional comment on something the Nation Estate said in relation to the breakdown: "We want to protect the integrity of the brand," he said. The problem is without Doctor Who, they don't really have a brand. For years Nation himself tried to get his own spin-off show made, presumably with someone called Tarrant fighting the Daleks but no one was biting. Although the afformentioned Big Finish Dalek Empire stories are gripping, the reason they work is because its about the people fighting the enemy, not the enemy itself. Nation's people need to be very careful and not quite so arrogant with their main property otherwise it might continue to be another one of those bits of nostalgia that everyone remembers being good at some time but not really what they want now.

Might I suggest to Russell and the gang that it might be time to pull The Mechanoids out of hiding. If they worked for TV Comic when they couldn't get the rights... (meanwhile anyone with a PDA looking for a Who fix can download the novel Sands of Time in full and gratis from the BBC -- who said the corporation isn't working for you). Also, did anyone hear Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy on the PM on Radio Four this evening? They'd wheeled him on to talk about the above (which gave us the utterly charming line from him 'Maybe they'll go from pepperpots to coffeepots...') but which (I'm not making this up) segwayed awkwardly into the death of Brando, the question pretty much being -- you're an actor and you're here so say something nice. Luckily Sylv had been working box office at a cinema during the 75th anniversary celebrations and had served him a drink at the bar. He was able to tell us Mr Brando was short. Could have been an embarassing moment otherwise ...
Music Commodore are beginning to produce hardware again with some new music players named after their Vic and Pet machines. Can we look forward to a 64GB machine in the future in beige? [you can tell I'm tired -- I'm posting Slashdot links]
Life I think I need to get some sleep. Not just the usual six or seven hours but literally a whole week, maybe two. I'm shattered and people are beginning to notice. The person I sit next to in work came in and her first words to me (or anyone for that matter) were:
'My God you look tired. You look like you should go home and get some sleep.'
She's right. Despite having a fortnight off I blink through life. I was in a furniture shop later on looking for a mattress because the one I have is finally aging and I told the clerk why I was updating (now and then spikes keep appearing from the springs) and she just looked at me and said:
'I thought you looked tired.'
People I don't know are starting to notice. I'll keep you posted (assuming don?t drop off at the keyboard . . . feeling listless indeed.
News Judging by this interview (explanation here) I'd hate to think what George Bush would do on Today with John Humphries ready to pounce...
Music While Glastonbury goes from strength to strength over here, one of the US's rough equivalents, the Lollapalooza, cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Pop Matters takes up the story and offers some suggestions as to how the stage and the field might have been saved:
"First and foremost is the format. Traditionally, Lollapalooza has always been a one day festival with a handful of bigger name acts on the main stage while the second stage is populated by up and coming and local acts. The festival would often spend more than one day in a particular market with the performance schedule remaining mostly intact from one date to the next. The move to add a second date was a risky one, one that ultimately didn't pay off. The consolidation back to a single date would have immediately halved transportation, rental, insurance and advertising costs as well as significantly decreased guaranteed performance payments to artists.
It is odd that this particularly strong line-up could find an audience. Or perhaps its just that there is an audience, but it's moved on to other things.
Film Slight amazement that John Sayles is rewriting the script for Jurassic Park 4 (according to an admittedly anonymous source at Coming Soon). He's made a living doctoring Hollywood scripts and in each case their real strength has been characterisation (see Apollo 13). Who said the fourth film of every film series has to be rubbish?
TV I'm currently experiencing that impossible sensation of familiarity, of having possibly met someone before but I can't remember were. I've been wracking my brain and I can only come up with the possibility it was at University. But then I wonder if I spoke to her on the train, or else just sat opposite her. It's my ability to remember faces. I might have issues with names, but I'm forever seeing people I used to serve in previous jobs or else seen on the afformentioned public transport. The unfortunate source of my puzzlement is Becki, the new Big Brother housemate.

I've never agreed with anyone else on 'favourite' moments from each series. I always offer the moment during the last series when Jon Tickle held an unofficial summit with Nush regarding the decreasing food situation. It was filled with pathos and should be used on management courses to demonstrate just the kind of diplomacy and clear thinking which is much needed in closed off situations. So contrary to everyone else again, I'd like to nominate Becki's appearance in the house as my moment of the series.

The simple fact is that at no time in the previous series, right back to Clare Strutton onwards has a new entrant appeared with that much confidence in the face of adversity and put her stamp on the group. Apart from anything else, knowing she's going to be spending the next nth number of weeks with them, she pretends to be Italian and from another Big Brother just to see what their reaction is. By the end of the day she'd already fairly well got the mark of everyone and set about conquering.

Two examples. Jason thinks he's brought her into his confidence with the well worn 'I'm going to tell you a secret -- I'm leaving' gambit -- but I've a feeling all the confidence boosting was just her drawing him into her web -- I visited the live broadcast today to see him jabbering on to Ahmed about how he's turned his loneliness into a person and shown it the door. Wah? Second, the moment when she dragged Nadia into the snug and said that she wouldn't be revealing her secret, thereby creating an ally (Big Brother gave the choice not to so). She screams with Marco, she makes Victor feel like he's onto something (toe sucking?). And at the same time makes it all seem like she's being perfectly genuine. I don't believe it for a second. Becki's playing the game, Nasty Nick without the stupidity, and is probably more intelligent than the lot of them (with the possible exception of Dan and Shell).

More importantly this new housemate has made the programme worth watching. She's not made any of the other housemates actually engaging (they're still a bunch of bloody loonies) but it has turned it into the game it really should be and I wouldn't be surprised if (unless the housemates work her out) she'll be the first late entrant to win the thing. She's playing us too -- why else did she flash her breasts on the first day and get the housemates singing and talking? She's out to make the experience entertaining for us as well. Now if I could just remember where I've seen her before...
Blog! Stuart Hughes' weblog was apparently the first source to break news of the hand over of sovereignty to Iraq. Here is the BBC's slightly longer version. I heard it on BBC Breakfast this morning -- even Moira 'Pronunciation' Stewart registered surprise, which really isn't like her at all. Luckily Bill Turnbull wasn't on hand this morning to make some stupid unfunny comment. That man irritates me in ways I really can't come to terms with...
Life First day back at work after what seemed like ages. I haven't thought about the job at all during the 14 days and never do when I'm not there, so I'm always amazed at how easy it was to sit down and just carry on as though I'd been there hours or days before and how little can actually change in what is for some jobs a relatively long time period. But come to think of it, nothing moves on when I'm actually there...
TV This interesting -- after watching the Time Shift on BBC4 the other night regarding the TV work of Nigel Kneale, I asked a question at the Doctor Who Restoration team website about the status of the existing 50s BBC Quatermass episodes. Here is the answer. I hope Peter is right -- it would be nice to wsee hat is there, even in the story's extant state. But it's really down to whether there is a commercial value to the release.