'I love you Hope.' 'I love you to Michael.' 'I miss Gary.' 'Me too.'

Life It's nine o'clock, three hours left of my twenties, and I'm in a funny mood. I'm standing in the Liverpool Academy waiting for The Polyphonic Spree to perform. I've eaten Jambalaya for tea at the Everyman Bistro. I'm having a debate with my friend Chris about how old I look. I tell him that whenever people look at me and guess my age, they usually say I'm mid-20s. He looks skeptical. So I suggest we ask a random member of the audience. I look about. No one there. Give it five or ten minutes and normal looking couple, she's tall and blonde, he's slightly shorter. A turn to her:
Me: Can I ask you a random question?
Her: Pardon?
Me: Can I ask you a totally random question?
Her: Err. Ok. Yes.
Me: How old do I look?
Her: What?
Me: How old do you think I look?
Her: I can't say that. I mean.
Me: Don't worry. I don't mind.
She looks me over. She looks me over again.
Her: I don't know.
Me: Whatever you're thinking.
Her: 38?
I look at Chris. I look at her. I look at Chris again. 'Thirty-Eight?' I mouth. Chris rolls his eyes. The woman is a bit embarassed. I don't blame her. I lean forward.
Me: It's Ok. I'm thirty in three hours.
Her eyes widen. She starts relaying the conversation to her partner. I carry on talking to Chris. 'That's teach me.' I say. Later, he asks me never to do that again, that it was mean, and tells me it's all downhill from here. He was correct as usual, and it basically served me right. But it did confirm. I'm officially Thirtysomething everybody.

Triathletes seem like very busy people

The Road To Beijing Michelle Dillon in action tomorrow at the International Triathlon Union World Cup race in Cancun, Mexico. "The course will be a dream for runners. After a 1.5k, two-lap ocean swim, the athletes will face an eight-lap, 40k, flat bike course and a four-lap, 10k flat run course." Which is good news for Michelle, who is a notoriously great finisher.

Links for 2004-10-29 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2004-10-29 [del.icio.us]

  • Jonathan Miller's Brief History of Disbelief
    The BBC Four Documentaries get a daily repeat from Saturday night onwards early and late
  • Film of the Day: Amelie (2001)
    Audrey Tautou keeps getting prettier every time I watch this.
  • SFX's complete guide to Buffy The Vampire Slayer
    I'm suprised the 'Angel' episode from Season One is only at 120...
  • Shroomin' at the Ballot Box
    Voting high!
  • God I love Sarah Beeny.
    Me too really.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar Esquire UK Photoshoot
    This is utterly bonkers. Watch where you're putting that syringe.
  • New Bin Laden video
    Has Bin Laden seen 'Farenheit 9/11'? He talks about the way that Bush carried on reading the kids book in much the same terms as Michael Moore. Creepy.
  • 'Just because they serve you...'

    Life Early Christmas shopping trip to Chester. It's the kind of place which feels like a Dickensian Christmas even before the lights have been erected. Although the customer service is always heaps better than in some parts of Liverpool, today the clerks seemed over attentive. I was in one of those Gadget Shop-type shops and found one of those game built-in arcade joysticks. Before I'd even selected PacMan I felt a presence on my shoulder telling me all about it. Every time I lost a life, he'd say 'You lost a life there.' Well, yes, I know, it's because YOU'RE TALKING TO ME. Then he puts his arm on my shoulder.
    'Just call me if you want one or you need any other help with anything', he slithers.
    I pick up my bag. I walk out of the shop...

    Same children, different adults.


    Same children, different adults.
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    Same children, different adults. Now that is intriguing. Is this one of those occasions were the kids are being brought up amicably by two sets of divorced parents. I've known that to happen before.

    Links for 2004-10-28 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-10-28 [del.icio.us]

  • BBC probes German 'Office' show
    BBC News online covers the Stromberg story.
  • Who Links To Me
    For the ultimate narcissist within you
  • John Peel tribute on VPRO's alt.3voor12
    Thanks for this radio, Caroline.
  • Happy Birthday Sasha
    How old are you really?
  • Film of the Day: City Slickers (1991)
    'We'll jump off that bridge when we come to it. '
  • Flickr: Photos tagged with eclipse
    Sometimes being at the other end of the world needn't be a barrier to seeing the sky moon at us.
  • Donnie Darko in his mind's eye
    Oh now that just confuses things even more
  • QT's Diary: Dipshit Alert
    The wierdness continues. Reason given for interview inconsistencies was that it was someone else who had managed to log into in Blogger account and was posting there. Are they still *that* vulnerable?
  • 'So yeah... erm ...'

    Life Can I ask why when I set down to use an Internet terminal at Chester market, I get the one with bits of pastry and goo all over it?

    'You ain't seen nothing yet ...'

    Life For some reason today I became really conscious of people's ages. In an interview in this month's SFX magazine I discovered that Sarah Michelle Gellar is 27 -- which puts her in my generation -- and I thought she was bit younger. Watching City Slickers, there is a scene at the beginning when Billy Crystal's character Mitch is called by his mother to wish him a Happy Birthday, she reminds him he was born in 1958, and he later does the maths for us and says he's 39. I found myself extrapolating upwards to try and work out how old he would be now (about 54). John Peel was 65 when he died. Then I realised it's nearly ten years since I left university. I considered all things I thought I would have done by now. And then I thought about all the things I've actually managed to do in the last eight years and considered would would be possible in the next ten. Three days to go and all is well.

    Cafe Scene


    Cafe Scene
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    With its accordian man, this reminds me of a Renoir painting or somewhere in France. The family sit eating ice creams on a summer's day. Interestingly other than them, no one else is happy -- in fact the woman in the bottom right hand corner looks positively cheesed off. Is this still the seaside or somewhere else?

    Links for 2004-10-27 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-10-27 [del.icio.us]

  • Guardian Unlimited John Peel, 1939-2004
    Page drawing together tributes from across the world. Lauren Laverne says everything with: "I feel stupid for being as in debt as I am." We sort of all are in our own way.
  • Scientists uncover possible new species of human
    This is a remarkable discovery, assuming it's not a hoad and it really doesn't look so. Suddenly millions of Tolkien fans link to the same article at CNN.
  • Actual Japanese pirate dvd cover.
  • Blog Hierarchy
    Hey youze ...
  • Fidgety about his 50s, producer turns to turbulent 20s
    'My So-Called Life' producer Marshall Herskovitz's new drama. Again for ABC. Glutton for punishment? 1/4 life, in development for next season, revolves around seven twentysomething friends from college living together in a Chicago apartment.
  • Film of the Day: Lone Star (1996)
    Arguably John Sayles best work.
  • Too Late to Cancel
    The new album from Mitch Benn & The Distractions.
  • Bagpuss on holiday
    BBC Kent takes Bagpuss on a world tour
  • 'Do you ever get busy?'

    Life Today I visited the new Wal*Mart store in Huyton, near Liverpool. I'd expected to return filled with stories about putting one over on the global multinationals in their own territory, of debunking the myth that globalisation doesn't mean homogenization. But after an hours travel by bus to get there, I found a ruddy great Asda. It might have the logo familiar and infamous to Americans on the side of the building and on the carrier bags, but disappointingly it looks just like the shop we have round the corner from were I live. It's on two levels with a moving walkway between, and it emphasizes the George clothes line as much as the food but it's exactly the same as the rest of the British business. And no guns for sale, which I hear is a hallmark of the US stores. So rather than making Naomi Klein proud of me, I bought a bag of sugar and a Radio Times and drank one of their cups of coffee. That said, the proximity of the store to the main Huyton shopping precinct will no doubt put paid to a fair few small businesses in the long run, so by that token it's fairly clear that the US strategy is being followed fairly closely.

    Dad and Two Kids?


    Dad and Two Kids?
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    For some reason I get the feeling that this is a middle class family. From all the wedding phots, this looks the most natural, very candid and spontaneous. The man hasn't taken time to put down his camera.

    Links for 2004-10-26 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-10-26 [del.icio.us]

  • Play.com is now a bookseller
    Although with a smaller selection, it is slightly cheaper than amazon and has free postage. Competative.
  • Jun-ichi Arai: The Futurist of Fabric
    "For more than 40 years Arai has been rethinking what a fabric is: making three-dimensional scarves out of steel, reinterpreting ancient traditions like tie-dye, and developing flame-retardant fibers for theatrical and commercial drapery."
  • Apple iPod Photo
    I suspect I won't be the only person posting this link tonight -- but it's just really nice. Actually the photo issue is fairly irrelivant -- its the 60gig capacity I'm really interested in. So much music at your fingertips. How much do you want to bet
  • Boing Boing endorses John Kerry for President
    Well so do I if that means anything. Thought not.
  • Flicka
    Read that again.
  • Future Ashlee Simpson Gaffes (and Subsequent Multi-Phase Spin)
    That was quick. Look, it's a career imploding as we watch. And before she made in roads in the UK. Look I'm in a mean mood tonight. Sorry.
  • mp3 downloads of songs played by John Peel
    What I missed.
  • Film of the Day: Radio Days (1987)
  • Chris Walken interviewed by The Onion A.V. Club
    "I didn't decide to be an actor; I got a job. I was in a musical called 'Baker Street', and I auditioned for a part in a play, and I got the part."
  • Stromberg?

    TV Stromberg: 'The Office' In German? Disclosure: This was pointed out by the Radio Times magazine emailer and I've only seen bits of our show. But one look at the site, and the photos at least and the first thing I said out loud was 'Are they taking the piss?' The similarity is remarkable and unusually bold for what look like a major German broadcaster. Is it plagarism? Well that would depend on whether the BBC licensed a remake or whether this tv channel decided to make their own version anyway. If it was the latter, would the Radio Times which is effectively the BBC's listings magazine say the following in that email:
    "A German comedy bearing striking similarities to The Office is being investigated by the BBC. Stromberg is set in a boring office, headed by an embarrassing boss who sports a goatee beard. An imminent merger means that his colleagues are all threatened with redundancy. There's also a sycophantic misfit who is forever being teased by a comparatively well-adjusted colleague.

    The BBC is examining whether it has a case for breach of copyright against German broadcaster ProSieben, which began screening the show two weeks ago. The channel strenuously denies any suggestion of plagiarism."
    Certainly someone posting to the show's messageboard smells a rat:
    "I do not have myself remove regarded and anywhere am exactly a reference to the English transmission "The Office" to discover. This transmission in detail from there is copied. Camera style, Plot, characters, Look etc. It should be at least referred to it! More waer, as if I would have translated and as my work would have spent any English book. Genuinly 'ne dishonor!
    Babel Fish has garbled a bit of that but the general opinion is still fairly clear. This has the potential to become a test case -- what consitutes all out copying or for that matter an original idea. Can a 'copy' of a parody of a format consitute plagarism. In the end, if this becomes a legal matter you can imagine that someone in court is going to be arguing about who our David Brent is and whether his German counterpart has his own attributes and is a cousin rather than a clone. One further note. The website of the channel this is shown is also advertising Red Nose Day 2004 on a page which links bac to Comic Relief UK. Which is shown on the BBC in this country. I wonder if this would have any bearing if a case is brought.

    Mum, Dad and the Two Kids?


    Mum, Dad and the Two Kids?
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    The angle of this photo and loss of the man's head suggests her was a very tall person. They do look like a happy family though and for some reason this reminds me of the kind of story someone might tell on John Peel's 'Home Truths'. Odd that.

    Bye John.

    Life This is one of those moments when you feel like you need to write something but it's very difficult to know what to say. I was shattered to hear about the death of John Peel. Although I'm sad to say the only times I ever listened to his radio show was in wierd moments in cars and on holiday, I always enjoyed his tv work (and in particular I'm thinking of The Sound of the Suburbs show he made for Channel 4 and his Glastonbury coverage) and often listened to BBC Radio Four's Home Truths on which his warmth as a human being shone. That said I understand the contribution he's made to modern music and how lost we'll probably all be because he isn't there to point out the next big thing because we're stupid enough not to see. Bye John.

    Links for 2004-10-25 [del.icio.us] (and the day before)

    Links for 2004-10-25 [del.icio.us] (and the day before)

  • Controlled explosions threaten World Heritage site in Iraq
    Anything I might say here will probably reflect what you might be thinking.
  • Minnie slams 'fat b******s'
    Driver reacts to the mixed reviews her album's been getting
  • Beauty queen to join Blue Peter
    Insert nostalgic reminiscence about Leslie Judd or whoever here.
  • The Few Things I Don't Miss About Montreal
    Funnily enough film crews aren't included.
  • Film of the Day: Event Horizon (1997)
    Paul W.S. Anderson's only really, really good film.
  • So is Quentin Tarantino's Diary genuine?
    The comments section of this interview suggest that it's either Seth 'Oz from Buffy' Green writing or the real QT. Also, I've Googled the interviewers name and it only turns up on this review -- Empire wouldn't send just anyone to interview Tarantino.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox for President!
  • Damn that girl is fit!
    Zach Braff comes to the UK and discovers good Northern slang and tired Channel 4 scheduling.
  • The Mercury Theatre on the Air
    Downloadable copies of the radio productions of Orson Wells
  • Christian Bale on Batman Begins
    Short interview in which Bale convinced me he's the right man for the job.
  • answer to life the universe and everything
    That's progress. What took Deep Thought 7.5 million years takes Google 0.28 seconds.
  • 'Well you can bump and grind and it?s good for your mind...'

    Life It was cold and wet in Manchester today. I'd hoped to get cracking with my Christmas shopping but when your time is spent trying to work out how to dash from shop to shop without getting too wet, inspiration is in short supply. I did manage to get an infusion of music, so between Vinyl Exchange and HMV I'm now relaxing to the sounds of Bibel Gilberto, Joss Stone, Minnie Driver, Tina Dico, Gypsy Swing and the soundtrack to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And end up at the cinema. As I sat on the train home with Tina in my ears I just kept wondering how I managed to make that trip every day for a whole year. When I got home I found a birthday package from Kat, my first card and some mix cds which are so good I forgot to watch Tanner '88 tonight. Anyone know if it's coming out on dvd?

    Another Wedding Group Photo


    Another Wedding Group Photo
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    What I'm really wondering is how close the photographer is to the family. Surely they could have requested copies of the real photos. Also, at the time these were taken, slide film wasn't cheap so it seems strange that such an oblque angle would be used. Then after all that time for it to be blurred....

    'In space....'

    Film The following sentence is quite shocking. If you don't like surprises, look away now. Alien Vs. Predator isn't all that bad. It's not great either for reason we'll get to shortly, but if you're looking for something to fill an hour or so and the only alternative is Shark Tale you won't be wasting your money.

    From a scripting point of view it has very good pacing. It begins slowly, developing a strong foreshadowing of the horrors to come -- to an extent the first half hour of the film are like a pre-match build up, giving some history of the venue then introducing the players and giving an inkling of that their tactics are going to be. Like many of Paul W.S. Anderson's previous films the characterization is fairly lean -- most of the grunts are interchangeable and only the industrialist and leader of the group are given anything close to a back-story. But such things would detract from what needs in the end to be stripped down ride. Too much talk in a film like this slows things down.

    There is also some very exciting production design. Given the back-story for the two alien cultures, the area in which the main characters find themselves at time offers the kind of thrills that are really needed. There are moments that a character will go down a corridor and the camera will pan left or right to reveal something which signals the kind of horror we can expect to be leaping out at them. In a decidedly retro move the creature designs are very faithful to their original appearances on film. Alien Resurrection Aliens strayed just too far from Giger's designs to the point that they could have been from any series. Here we have the classic design, in all its gooey brilliance. Similar the Predators have hardly been updated -- but frankly hardly needed to which is a testament to the original design work from (whisper) 1987.

    But for me, the real surprise is actress Sanaa Lathan who's performance as expedition leader Alexa Woods is what drives the film forward. Presumably because the assumption is that the real stars are the creatures, the chief human duties have been passed to this relative unknown and her work is extraordinary. It's a bit like the old fairy tale of an understudy in the theatre getting their chance when the real lead falls ill and given the opportunity commands the stage. Realistically, the film could have totally fallen apart if it weren't for the depth which Lathan brings -- there are times when she's our eyes and ears and if she'd just been a screamer we would not have cared a jot about the outcome. But there are times when the aliens are literally at each other's throats and we want to be knowing what's happening with her. It should unbalance the film, but actually it levels everything out, especially in the climax in which this added dimension draws us away from an expected battle between to special effects. She's the new Halle Berry, only good.

    But as I said at the top the review, this isn't a perfect film. Because it makes the necessary assumption that anyone seeing this will have seen the previous collective six movies from both series, it doesn't spend a lot of time dealing with the mechanics of who either creatures are. There are moments which are total re-runs of previously filmed moments and although we know what's going to happen and this should add tension it would have been nice to add something extra to the biological mechanics of the thing. Also it's an incredibly dark film, to the extent that at times some of the fight scenes, particularly between the creatures are difficult to follow. It's a brave move to use a noir-like lighting plan in which only source lights appear to be in use but if you've got a dark grey Alien against a dark grey stone wall fighting a Predator who's armour is dark grey you need something to give the silhouettes clarity.

    Given the most of the characters are ciphers it needs talents like Lathan to carry the work. Outside of her, although it's not an entirely charisma free zone, weird line readings abound -- every day phrases given much more emphasis than is really needed thank you contrasted with shock and awe moments reduced to the excitement of someone ordering tea. With the exception of Lance Henriksen (who growls his way through his part) and Ewen Bremner (because we've seen him before) the rest of the cast sort of all blend together -- not really their fault, they're not given that much to do. Raoul Bova in the best friend role is probably suitably rugged though.

    I don't think I'm giving too much away if I say that predictably at the end of the film, sequel possibilities are set up. To a degree I wish that characters wouldn't be tied so much into franchises. I'd like to see the Alexa Woods investigating a totally different alien civilisation instead of inevitably returning for a second round with these two. Actually I think AvP:2 would be a fairly pointless exercise and probably pushing it. The only way this madness could possibly continue is in Alien V and Predator III and oddly enough on the basis of this it's the latter I'd be most interested in watching.

    [Three final observations. Doesn't this film just have the plot of the Doctor Who story of Tomb of the Cybermen if the Daleks also showed up? Also you might think I was being a bit harsh earlier but imagine how good Sanaa Lathan would have been playing Storm in X-Men. With Halle Berry apparently uninterested in X-Men 3 I think we've found a really good replacement. And I wonder this might have been like if Paul Thomas Anderson had directed it and which songs he would have used.]

    Portrait of a Woman at the Beach


    Portrait of a Woman at the Beach
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    Unlike the other beach portrait this is a return to the slightly askew framing over the others in the 'collection'. It seems to have been taken in the same spot, but a deckchair has appeared and the sky is much more forbidding.

    Links for 2004-10-23 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-10-23 [del.icio.us]

  • Lookalike artist takes on America
    "Yet it was President Bush sitting on the toilet reading a comic that caused the most consternation."
  • Mark Kermode reviews Exorcist: The Beginning
    It's about half an hour in and only live until Friday. It's just one of the best reviews of a bad film you will ever hear from an Exorcist expert. (Real media required)
  • The Moviedrome Archive
    'Moviedrome' was a presented film slot which ran on Sunday nights on BBC Two from the late Eighties for over a decade, which featured mostly so-called cult films. Here is a complete list of all the featured pictures.
  • Shutting out subtitles
    The first presenter Alex Cox describes why he left the slot -- mostly because the film selections were becoming less and less adventurous.
  • Linkification
    Turns plain text urls and email addresses into working links. Like magic.
  • Film of the Day: City of God (2002)
    An amazingly kinetic film -- despite the similarity, I certainly enjoyed this more that 'Goodfellas'