Links for 2005-03-17 []

Links for 2005-03-17 []

  • BBC updates Shakespeare
    Feels quite close to what happened with the animated series. Should be interesting nonetheless. An hour a piece is probably just right.
  • The Two Sides of Woody Allen
    Actually covers some of the business issues including his latest move from Dreamworks to Fox Searchlight. Are there any film companies the man hasn't worked for?
  • Kenneth Branagh Directing 'As You Like It'
    For HBO. The man will finish filming the canon if it kills him.
  • bookish says some good things about book jackets and whatnot
  • Random Acts Of Reality's Cat Blog
  • Adrian Hon ran the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday which began almost underneath were I live.
    I wonder if I saw him but didn't know I'd seen him.
  • TIME MACHINE ! For Time Travel ? very low reserve
    On ebay. Someone's willing to pay up to $700 for this thing.
  • Details emerge on 'Enterprise' finale
    You really aren't going to believe this ...
  • A familiar web
    Verse Guru remembers me ...
  • 'Oh the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon....'


    'Spring is here,
    Spring is here,
    Life is skittles
    and life is beer.
    I think the loveliest time of the year
    is the spring, don't you?
    I do. Course you do...'

    That's the first verse of a Tom Lehrer song which goes on to offer the best methods for poisoning pigeons in the park. But really today actually feels like the first day of Spring. I've written before about other people's uncanny knack of knowing what to wear and somehow from nowhere the street was filled with people in t-shirts and shades, with me close behind in a jumper. I really should watch the tv weather more.

    I once knew someone at Uni who loved Summer best because it was so visually giving. My personality favours the Autumn (it's all about the colours), but I think I'm beginning to see the charms of Spring. The facial scrowls which people have trained so carefully of the winter months disappear; there's a lightness about the cheeks. I saw a girl in the sandwich queue in Boots smile today and it was something I hadn't seen there for many dark weeks. There is just something about available sunlight which brightens the mood.

    I'm going to the Tate Liverpool tomorrow to finally see the Richard Wentworth exhibition then go on and buy easter eggs. And I just know it's going to rain. A lot. But that's OK, because we know it isn't going to last.


    The Road To Beijing Congratulations then to James Goddard who managed to match the British 100m record and earning a place on the team for the World Swimming Championship later in the year. [about]


    The maximum length of CDs was based on Beethoven's 9th symphony.
    [thanks Franchesca!]

    'Change is never a waste of time ....'

    Music I linked not that long ago that Alanis Morissette is releasing an accoustic version of her album Jagged Little Pill to celebrate the tenth anniversiary of the initial release of the album. It's an extraordinary idea; hearing her voice now, with its extra maturity wrapping around these earlier tunes will have the glint of an actor returning to a role later on in life when they know how it should be played. Although I'm not sure what she'll do with Your House the bonus track -- wigged out multi-layered wall of sound rock version would probably be most appropriate.

    Just to make things really interesting, the album is only going to be available at Starbucks during it's first six weeks of release, no doubt to cash in on the cache which followed that Ray Charles duet album last year. According to The Guardian, this is annoying typical music retailers with the suggestion that when it finally does turn up in their stores it'll be buried out of spite. Apart from the childishness of this, I can see what their issue is. From supermarkets for online downloads, they're slowly seeing what has usually been their unique province being invaded. The idea that Starbucks would start getting 'previews' like this seems like another nail in the coffin.

    If they wanted to be really facetious they could serve premium coffee from the counter of their stores for the duration of the initial release of the album. But to be more serious, it seems like moaning for the sake of it. Much as I love Alanis this doesn't feel like a premium release to me. Her sales have shifted downwards of late for various reasons. If it had turned up in record stores first, it's audience might have been the hardcore fans and the odd nostalgia junkies. In effect it would have been pretty buried anyway next to 10 Cents and whatever Christina Aguilera is doing that week. Starbucks are only going to ever be selling music which fits into their profile so HMV can be happy that Eminem will be staying on their shelves. What the record company are cannily refocusing this product's image by placing it in coffee houses on the counter next to those crunchy ginger things, releasing it into a much wider market, with the added bonus that Starbucks can have it playing in the shop while people sup down their Double Mint Chop Chip Mochaccino with Extra Whip Cream and Sprinkles.

    It's also in a wierd way appealing to the very people who bought the album in the first place. I suspect one of the reasons I haven't completely loved some of her later albums is because my musical taste has changed. My ear is much lighter, I am listening to much more soul, jazz and folk. Alanis is still doing the rock thing and I'm not quite attuned to that anymore, sometimes it feels very harsh. I still love the original Pill, probably because I'm used to it. I would guess there are many people who've equally moved on, and this time the album recreates itself in an image our senses can understand. Although it's not new material as such, it's as though she's finally skipping on up to join us. And since we're exactly the kind of people who clog up Starbucks on a daily basis hoping for a Very Berry Scone it means we can buy the music we love, in the place that we love without having to dodge teenagers wondering what happened to Slipknot's latest release. Which makes me sound very, very old. But then those grey hairs are hear to stay.

    Goddard swims

    The Road To Beijing James Goddard sees action at the World Champtionship trials in Manchester tomorrow:
    "National performance director Bill Sweetenham believes the ... trials being held in Manchester over the next few days will herald the start of a new era for British swimming.

    The event, starting at the Manchester Aquatics Centre tomorrow, gives swimmers one of two chances to qualify for the global competition in Helsinki in July and Sweetenham expects to see a new generation of competitors emerge in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing."
    And in related news, Steve Parry has announced his retirement. [about]

    It's about expressing yourself

    Life The Philosophy of Film course ended tonight and it's left me in a slightly melancholic mood because I wished it could have continued for another ten weeks. There was never enough time for Tutor John to cover everything he wanted to say, although sometimes the clips he showed us expressed the idea or mood perfectly. What he's been explaining to us for ten weeks is that the really great films and by the extension the great film makers aren't about the business of making money. It's about expressing yourself, your own ideas in a meaningful way and hoping that people respond to them (sound familiar?). So when director Robert Bresson strips away everything but the image in telling his story, it's because that's the way this thing works for him. Some viewers might not like, might find it cold, but that's OK, because to use a wierd comparison, film is a broad church and not everything is going to be universally loved.

    Easy way to lose weight

    Franchesca writes: Eating celery results in negative calories.

    Links for 2005-03-13 []

    Links for 2005-03-13 []

  • Funny Technical Support Calls
    Bookmarked for future reference. So can't actually attest to how funny they are.
  • "I don't know where to begin with that one," she finally stammers. "The final episode is ... appalling."
    Jolene Blalock bids farewell to Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • Old new gadgets for kids
    Etch-a-sketch returns as a tv game. Isn't that missing the point?
  • The real world behind James Bond
    Apparently the new Bond, 'Casino Royale' will lack Q.
  • engadget discovers: The Doctor's TARDIS from Doctor Who
    How come when the Tardis is tipped from side to side, the water doesn't fall out of the swimming pool?
  • Uncyclopedia
    It's the Wikipedia 'Look Around You'-style. "Christina Aguilera was created by an advanced artificial intelligence originally produced in 2017 to manage an interactive online porn game."
  • Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards
    Chuck was the creator of the subline 'Dharma and Greg' and he's effectively been blogging using the 'vanity cards' at the end of each episode.
  • "Oh go one ... you're a girl!"

    TV In case you missed the trailer which has played about a hundred times over the past month, Casanova began tonight on BBC Three in a graveyard preview slot, rather like a weekend film preview in the hopes of creating good word of mouth before it turns up on a main channel. It's an interesting strategy, especially with something which is obviously a premium series for the beeb, and it should really pay off.

    Because it's absolutely tremendous. From the opening shot which offers the ageing Casanova played by -- my god -- Peter O'Toole putting words into the mouth of his younger self essayed by instant star David Tennant as he tries to talk himself out of what is obviously yet another scrape, the show just rattles along throwing out costume drama convention after convention. It's been tried before in everything from the film Plunkett and McLean to a Channel 4 version of Anna Karenina from a few years ago, but here it actually works.

    It more or less demonstrates why Russell T Davies is one of the best five script writers on tv. In the dialogue he manages to offer a contemporary blende without it jarring with the period. Using the framing device over the older telling the story of the younger, he manages to cover a lot of ground in plot and character terms but without the audience feeling short changed that they're missing the really good bits. But he also knows when to pull back and let the pictures tell the story. There is a great moment in which two people communicate across a crowded room, something I've never seen before in frocks and coats and it's utterly real.

    But the directing and editing are fluid as well. Sheree Folkson previously worked on contemporary dramas like Burn It and the The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star both of which had a kinetic energy which re-appears here. Forget establishing shots -- don't need them -- they'll just get in the way of the sight gags. The closest comparison I can think of is early Simpsons, that use of mounting montage leading to a punchline, comedic or emotional. I once went to a workshop with some people from Red Productions who are one of the companies behind this and they emphasised a philosophy of telling the story through what you can see and this really embrases that philosophy. The photograph is sumptuous as well; I'm not a huge fan of the Digital Video the BBC are using on their shows nowadays (tends to seem a bit washed out) but there are moments here which have the feel of a pure technicolour production.

    There's all that and there's the cast. I said earlier that David Tennant is an instant star, and he really is. He's just channeling the always excellent O'Toole's charisma to create this uberpersonality -- that ability to be totally likeable even when he's (possibly) doing some bad things. Even with all the above the show would flatten out if he wasn't so good. To drop the inevitable reference, he has the magnetism of a young Tom Baker in his series of Doctor Who (although he sort also reminded me of Paul McGann in the audios -- that kind of curious happiness).

    I'm also inevitably going to say that Laura Fraser is luminous, but she just is. I was afraid she'd just be getting a cameo, but she's Casanova's life long dream, always on his mind. The camera looks longingly at her in way I've not seen since Small Faces and underlines what a tragedy it is that she's not a STAR! Hopefully this will change that when it turns up on the main channel. I've not seen Rose Byrne before, but it takes something to match O'Toole yet there she is battling away as Edith the maid. I don't want to talk about the rest of the cast because it would give too much away but all are great too.

    Just an excellent, excellent thing. If you missed it, I'd wait for the repeat before diving in. I'd imagine that you'll be losing a lot of the emotional resonance if you're just turning up for part two next week...

    "More soonish."

    Life I spent the afternoon chatting with Caro via ICQ, about this and that. It turns out we've sort of known each other since late 2001, from when this blog was in its infancy. We've kept in touch on and off ever since. She's one of the few people I've met online who I really wished was close by, so that we could go out and do the things that friends do, and because she just seems to understand. It's very rare. Plus I don't know anyone else who's heard of Carla Bruni.

    Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy

    "To go outside, and there perchance to stay
    Or to remain within: that is the question:
    Whether tis better for a cat to suffer
    The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
    That Nature rains upon those who roam abroad,
    Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
    And so by dozing melt the solid hours
    That clog the clocks bright gears with sullen time
    And stall the dinner bell .... "

    [via Sore Eyes]

    Scorpios are ...

    Astrology I was just reading on the Wikepedia about Scorpios. Apparently I have ...
    "... a lifelong fascination with sex, birth, and death, an extremely focused nature, penetrative insight, a strong sense of privacy, and an ability to subtly affect others in profound (often sexual) ways."
    Jeepers ...

    "So have you run one of these before?"

    Life Watching the start of the half marathon today from my high up vantage point, I noticed that people were carrying around small white plastic tied up bags bulging with something. On my way around the park to get the Sunday newspapers, as I dodging athletes who were running on the pathway instead of the road (I literally turned a corner and there they all were coming towards me) I realised these were civilian clothes for the people taking part, being carried by their relatives and friends. I was curious that some bulged more than others and wondered if something could be understood about the person depending on how much they had in there -- rather like holiday luggage what can be said about someone who doesn't have as much of their lifestyle with them as others. I also worried about the people who didn't have anyone with them supporting. Who was holding onto their bags?


    Here is how Egyptian mummies got their name: "The word "mummy" comes from the Arabic word mumiya which means bitumen. Bitumen is also called pitch and is a black tar like substance that can be found in mountains in the Middle East. It's like molasses, but it's darker and thicker. When Arabs invaded Egypt many years ago and discovered mummies, the mummies had a dark coating on them which reminded the Arabs of mumiya. So the Arabs thought these mummies were covered with mumiya, even though mumiya was not really used. The Arabs began calling these bodies mumiya. As the years went by, mumiya would turn into the english word "mummy." [more facts about mummies can be found here]