'Have yourself a ...'

That Day I worked today for the first time in years and really ... never again. It wasn't what I was doing exactly (although some aspects of it were difficult) it was -- just the feeling of Christmas slipping away. But then I got home, saw the tree, saw the decorations, met my parents, and the warmth and spirit returned.

Happy Christmas!

Not The Real Review 2004: Television

Given that in fact I've hardly watched any television this year, you'll notice this section of Not The Real Review 2004 is slightly shorter than that last two. You may see a pattern forming with the somewhat limited ...

Three TV Bits and Pieces from 2004

The Last One

It was a year in which a number of long running tv shows finished forever (or until someone offers them pure cash to return for the reunion). Certain shows have a habit of becoming part of the furniture so you feel a loss when they're gone. Neither Friends or Dawson's Creek had been half as good as their earlier seasons but because they were ongoing stories and because there was also a germ of something unique, interesting or magical about them, we stayed right through to the end. To a degree, both endings offered something unexpected. No one really expected Ross and Rachel to actually get together at the end there, or that Joey would end up with Pacey. But there they were at the end of everything cuddling together, fictional examples of how great things can happen.

BBC Four

I keep banging on about it, but if there was rationing and I was only allowed on television channel, I couldn't live without BBC Four. Not in my memorable lifetime has a channel had the capacity to surprise, amaze and impress on a nightly basis as consistently as the place to think. As well as The Alan Clarke Diaries I always offer Holidays In The Danger Zone as another example -- how better to discover the heart of the country that to vacation there and try not to get shot. Meet The Stans introduced us to a series of countries we hadn't even heard of, let alone their internal conflicts and America Was Here showed us the wreckage that our wars create. What happens when a people have been 'saved'. Who picks up the pieces? Another impressive film was No 17 is Anonymous in which an investigative reporter scoured Israel looking for the identity of a seventeenth victim of a suicide bomb on a bus. I learnt more about Middle Eastern politics and religion in that hour and a hour than years of anything else because it punctured the surface of the matter.


This was the year I met Firefly, the Joss Whedon show not set in the Buffyverse, the most gut wrenching experience this side of My So-Called Life. On the back of the dvd box, The New York Post says it's 'A very funny, very hip, very terrific sci-fi show.' Well yes. So why did it get thrown about by the network to the point of being ignored by the general audience? Who knows. I haven't met anyone whose heard of it and seen it who doesn't love it. It's easy to go over old ground by asking how dreck like Charmed or Andromeda continue broadcasting when a treasure like this couldn't be nurtured. That a film is being made is a miracle. That it means we'll only be spending another two hours with these characters on that ship under this writer is not.

Christmas Lights


Christmas Lights
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

On the ceiling of our balcony.

Have a nice cup of tea and ...

According to this month's SFX, the word 'cookie' comes from the 18th century Dutch word kookje the diminutive of kook or cake. 'biscuit' comes from the old French word, bescuit which means twice cooked.

Not The Real Review 2004: Music

Music Since we've already established that I can't write about music the following is going to be exciting as I present the second in a series of Not The Real Review 2004 ...

Four musical moments from 2004

ITV1 on Saturday night

While BBC One featured Lorraine Kelly helping people who can't sing to sing even worse ITV was doing something even wierder with its Saturday night. Not really paying attention, I turned to the channel to find Kevin Spacey singing. Although in the past the vision of Keyser Soze cracking a tune would have been barmy, his new film and pet project, Beyond The Sea about the life of Bobby Darrin has led to a concert series and appearances on tv like this. Then at the end of the song, ex-Smash Hits write Kate Thornton appears and shares some awkward comments with him. Then it turns out that it's a showcase for the new swing 'talents' of boy band Westlife who then appear and they duet on a version of Fly Me To The Moon. Seeing someone who is classical old Hollywood with four young men who are classic new housing estate was a seminal pop culture moment, saved throughout by the fact that the Lester Burnham was the one with the talent.

Free cds

Every time I look at the contents of by hard drive it continues to be patently obvious that I'm musically lacking all over the place. While it wouldn't be right for me to have music I don't actually like clogging up the place, the is music I love which I simply don't have. The soundtrack of my youth when I was listening to local commercial radio and watching Top of the Pops. And the truth is until recently I thought some had to be Keen and that Franz Ferdinand was simply a historical figure. Listening to Radio Four insessently means I've become pretty insular in my music taste. So my way of following the back catalogue and keeping up with new music has been free cds. You know the sort. I might hate The Mail On Sunday and the arguments it's caused between my parents and I in the past but their free discs have been a great way of filling the gaps -- although their over reliance on drive time is getting annoying. Then there are the offerings of The Guardian and Word Magazine. If it wasn't for these I would never had heard Paul Weller's glorious rendition of All Along The Watchtower or the fabulous Trashcan Sinatras. Every now and then I am given the opportunity to be slightly smug -- when something I've been listening to for months turns up as a new discovery for them. See above.

Nellie McKay

Nellie's achievements have unfortunately been fogged slightly by the ongoing debate about how old she is. Which is a shame because up until then she was quite happily skirting around the adulation of Andrew Lloyd Webber to be treated as a serious and deliriously great new artist. Very few have commented on the format which her album Get Away From Me was delivered in. Eskewing a trend of the past twenty years it appeared as one album across two cds, each carrying roughly half an hour of music. This forces listeners without iPods to take one cd out and put another in, breaking up the album and reproducing the effect of turning a vinyl album over, a breather, an intermission drawing out the anticipation (at least on first listening) of what could possibly be to come. She's also, for the first time in ages, a someone you can truly sing along to without embarassment because of the intelligence of the lyrics. In odd ways she reminds me of Tom Lehrer, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on.

Film Soundtracks

Which is my way of including lots of favourite stuff under one heading allowing me to cop out on having to pick one thing in particular. For some reason everything seems more emotionally charged than in the past -- is it that producers are getting better at this or that they're trying to get away from a Tarantinoesque pastiche of coolness into some more fundamental? For example I keep listening to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (even while I was decorating the tree this Christmas). It balances the funkier tunes of ELO and The Polyphonic Spree with spot music taking the listener on a journey which works perfectly away from the backdrop of the film. The ELO in particular only appeared in the trailer but is the stand out piece here. Lost In Translation does a similar trick but with far more songs the great release at the end with the hidden track -- Bill Murray's rendition of More Than This from the karaoke scene. There's also the moment at the end of Before Sunset when Julie Delpy gives us an acoustic rendition of A Waltz For A Night, a track from her solo album (and just happens to be about the events in Before Sunrise -- tres postmodern) -- it's enfused with the kind of nostalgic reflections I've perpetrated on this very weblog.

Christmas Tree


Christmas Tree
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

Here is our Christmas tree this year.


Male reindeers shed their antlers in the midwinter. Which means that if the reindeer which pull Santa's sleigh have antlers they must be female. Which makes Rudolph and the rest of them girls.

Not The Real Review 2004: Film

Film In a quietly amazing year for film with World Cinema and Independent film making even greater inroads to mainstream recognition and the overall intellect to enjoy many of the releases increasing. I found picking this five a horrible experience. I nearly went for five films you never saw, but that would be annoying because it doesn't grant the readership with any intelligence and assumes that if you're reading this wouldn't have time for something like the marvellous Zatoichi. Which is very wrong indeed. But there have been films I've loved which I probably won't see again for at least a few years -- long enough for me to forget all about them. So what I've decided to do instead is off some that have become quite dear to me for various reasons and that I'll want to see over and over again. Which is why I've called the first Not The Real Review 2004 ...

Five films I'll be watching at least five times in 2005

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

An example of true magic of ESOTSM is that although there are undoubtedly a couple of computer effects, the vast majority of the fantastical moments in the film were done practically. The scenes in which Winslet appears three times in different parts of the apartment as Carey searches for her all happened right there on set, and in one shot by the way. It reduces the kind of artificiality which ruins some films and creates such the feeling of miraculousness which dates back to Murnau's Sunrise by way of Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death. Like those films you feel as though you're going on a journey of the soul and somewhere amongst the snowy beach and the back to front bookshop, you realise that it's yours.

The Bourne Supremacy

It would have been an extra-ordinarily easy matter to dash out a film which was in essence a rerun of the first. And we might have liked that. But instead here was something which genuinely tried to do something differently, and though respecting the original went to other places entirely (unlike Spiderman 2 by the way which just felt, in the end, like more of the same). This was action thriller in a French New Wave style, relentlessly hammering about with impressionistic editing and plotting. But the most impressive moment for me was the ending which spoke volumes about how horrible things are done by mostly good people for generally good reasons.

Lost In Translation

It's a cliche to include this, but I'm trying to be honest and although I also loved The Station Agent I'm more likely to want to wind down with Bill Murray in Japan. The real tragedy for me was that writers at the time of release kept relentlessly charging with a sort of lazy racism in its depiction of the Japanese. Which is silly. What the film seems to be doing is showing how we only ever get a snapshot of any culture when we're there for a brief time and that we end up perpetuating whatever stereotypes exist ourselves as a way of coping. Entering a new culture for the first time is alien and wierd. Nothing happens the same way and communicating is usually impossible. Which is a bit like meeting anyone for the first time really.

Shaun of the Dead

The other night I watched Shaun of the Dead with my father. I've seen the film enough times now to be in the mild smirk recognition phase but as minutes five, ten and fifteen drifted by I began to notice my dad wasn't laughing. All the moments I thought he would love sailed by and before long I was worried that we'd have a repeat of the Withnail and I incident which led to the video being shut off after a parent asked if 'they'd be rambling on like that all film...' Then the first laugh came -- as Mary pulled herself up from the metal spike leaving a hole in the middle of her torso. We had him and he really got the film right up to the end, even doing that thing were he tried to guess what would happen next. Which is what's fab about the film -- wierdly, there is something for everybody.

Before Sunset

Perhaps the least expected film of the year and possibly one of the bravest. I actually had to travel to a whole other city to watch it on the day of release (an hour there and back) and it was one of the best trips of the year. I haven't heard many people talk about the tension inherent in the piece as we are reminded throughout that Jesse's flight out is leaving and don't have much time left together -- and we don't have much time left with then. We should be annoyed that all the hopes and ideas built up by the ending of the first film are demolished, but we forgive because they're so carefully reconstructed at the end of this one. All of those whistful missed opportunities in life come to the fore, but the movie demonstrates that actually they have a habit of representing themselves in other ways.

Links for 2004-12-20 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2004-12-20 [del.icio.us]

  • Xbox and PC owners get to delve into the depths of San Andreas from summer 2005
    I somehow don't think my poor graphics card is up to it ...
  • Radio 3 clears the air for Beethoven
    At least it's not Wagner. As Woody Allen said, we'd all want to go out and conquer Poland.
  • 'I am drawn to extremes'
    Retrospective interview with Julia Davis. On seeing 'Nighty Night' again: "I had a really horrible experience. I thought it was just awful. If you didn't have a sense of humour, you would think it was horrifying."
  • Julia Davis @ BBC Comedy
  • Chicago Primer
    Everything you probably need to know about visiting the place in very few paragraphs.
  • Revolving condos
    Yes but are you actually going to be seeing as it drifts by?
  • Samsung's 102-inch plasma TV
    So big you need to build a new house
  • Barenaked for the Holidays
    Oh what the hell it's the season. And their version of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' is still better than the new one ...
  • Photos from weevil
    Wiley Wiggins from 'Waking Life' and 'Dazed and Confused' uploads to flickr
  • Links for 2004-12-19 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-12-19 [del.icio.us]

  • Space Invaders Arcade Machine
    Replicas for sale. Try putting one of these in your front room.
  • artforum.com / DIARY
    New weblog from the art magazine. Reads like an international version of 'Art In Liverpool' Disappointingly no RSS feed...
  • Planet Crossroads
    Dang -- dang, dang dee dang -- dang, dang, dee, dang.
  • The Lost H2G2 computer game
    I'd heard about this, but I hadn't seen anything. I assumed it was a point and click but actually Arthur would have dashed about Mario style. Extra-ordinaryly brilliant reworking of Trillian and many of the key characters. What a wasted opportunity.
  • Flickr Sucks!
  • 'You see -- it's absolutely hopeless...'

    Life The decorations are up, the tree is decorated. Getting the tree was the mini-adventure. After visiting the shop to pick the tree out we asked for it to be delivered. We we're told just after 1pm. Six hours later the van arrives -- with a completely different tree and not even the same type. After ringing the shop and being told that had to be the tree (even though by all physical appearances it simply wasn't) they returned with something similar to one we wanted. Apparently 'ours' was dropped off with a pensioner by mistake. So I don't actually feel that bad. I just wish that life would take on the easy going texture which other people seem to enjoy.

    Wrapped presents last night during my annual viewering of Kenneth Branash's film, In The Bleak Midwinter. Realised at the end I haven't bought nearly enough and that like everyone else I'm going to be scrambling about this week. So much for my largese of the other day about being finish. I have a pretty good idea what I'm going for (something to drink, something to eat) so it shouldn't be so bad. The big shop we said we wouldn't be having happens tomorrow night. We need provisions and it seems right to get it all done in one go. So if updates here have been so spotty lately, but it's Christmas, y'know?

    "Edinburgh's shame"

    Edinburgh's Carlton Hill features one of the world's greatest architectural anomalies. In 1816, a memorial project was initiated to commemorate those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Of all the choices available to him, architect William Playfair designed an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens. Unfortunately there wasn't much enthusiasm for what was a massive building project that would take decades to complete, so in the event, even though Glasgow offered to fund the remainder of the construction, only one of the facades of the building was ever completed. It stands in situ to this day, visited by thousands of tourists each year. So even though at the time it was dubbed "Edinburgh's shame", locals are extraordinarily proud of what is now a national monument.