In my ... home ...

Liverpool Life I haven't posted under that title in a while, but I got my hair cut today and it seems about time. This is really for any bloggers reading who live in Liverpool (you know who you are). As if I wasn't posting voluntarily in enough places I've been wanting to start a blog about the home town for a while. But since naturally everyone has different interests and experiences, going it alone would be pointless.

Then I remembered Metroblogging. They're a network of weblogs about a variety of cities throughout the world. Most of them are in the US but they recently added Birmingham as well as London. I thought it would be fun to have a Liverpool section. But they need to have a limit of ten sign-ups before they consider adding a city. If anyone's interested in joining, you can sign up here. The only rules seem to be that you can commit to posting at least three times a week and have a current weblog. Wouldn't it be cool to be the third city and make this link work?

It's a phase ...

Film Oh good lord. I thought that said Elaine Page. I mean given the film's history, anything's possible ...

Cuddly Toy (not Roachford)

TV I mentioned weeks ago that ITV wear cooking up a new show, Celebrity Shark Bait and wondered about the gulf between who we'd want to be lowered into a cage with Great Whites and who they would actually get to do it. You'll not believe...
"Actor Richard E Grant, comedienne Ruby Wax, former athlete Colin Jackson and ex-Emmerdale star Amy Nuttall."
Which sort of takes Withnail's proclaimation 'I want something's flesh!' in entirely the wrong direction. In other news, the BBC surprises no one and tries to resurrect The Generation Game with Graham Norton. It'll probably go out before Doctor Who just to confuse everyone.

Pulsars and quasars.

Astronomy BBC Four have lately been advertising 'A Night of The Sky at Night' with Patrick Moore giving the full Gamesmaster in sepia colours. Predictably they decided not to call it 'Sky at Night Night' which would have been appropriate but silly. In a similar vain, is this study of 'The Galaxy Song' by Eric Idle. Unsurprisingly, the song gets much of the science right. The study does however forget to analyse the first few important bars, something which I'll attempt to rectify right now:
"Whenever life gets you down Mrs Brown
And things seem hard or tough

Some people made a film about this. "Queen Victoria is deeply depressed after the death of her husband, disappearing from public. Her servant Brown, who adores her, through caress and admiration brings her back to life, but that relationship creates scandalous situation and is likely to lead to monarchy crisis." Her nickname in middle of all this was Mrs Brown. So very accurate.

And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
Slightly inaccurate because people tend to be stupid, obnoxious and daft as anyone who uses public transport in Liverpool will agree.

And you feel you've had quite enoooough.
Well we all have haven't we really?"
That's better. Incidentally, every episode of The Sky At Night since the end of 2001 is archived and watchable at the BBC website. [Idle link via]

Rest of my life. Day One.

Life I handed my notice in at work today. In four weeks I'll be voluntarily out of work. The real details can wait for another time but I do feel like a weight's been lifted of my shoulders. It ended up being a surprise for everyone I work with, through necessity -- you can't just suggest that you might be leaving -- it sounds too vague and you can't settle. What of the chance you might change your mind?

It's time to make some kind of a change, move on up or sideways and this is the big leap. It's not a choice I've made lightly, I haven't suddenly decided to do this in the last few days. For weeks I've been thinking about it. I have my long term plans and it's time to put them in action. I've always been good at keeping secrets, especially the personal ones.

I've really wanted to write about it here, but I'm not that sort of blogger; and I know some people are reading so I've had to keep my feelings about this from you too. Sorry about that. On a lighter note I'm going to be out in the world more and be inspired to write more. Where have I heard that before? Man gives up job and spends more time with his weblog...

In and in and in and ...

Photography Infinite flickrrrrr. [via]


Film I meant to post this at the weekend. What happens when the cast of King Kong meet the fans:
"The best part: somebody went up to the mic during the Q & A and said offhandedly, 'Oh, and I really like Michael Brody?s work too.' To which Adrian responds, 'Dude, that was the guy from Jaws.'"
In other news Mel Gibson's new movie will be in Mayan. He's like a one man sub-genre.

Where do you live and where would you like to live?

Reader Survey Every now and them someone leaves a comment and I didn't even know they were reading. It's lovely, but it would be even nicer to know who is actually out there. So every now and then I'm going to pop a question for everyone. Feel free to drop and answer in the comments section. Something easy to be getting on with ...

Where do you live and where would you like to live?

My answer: Liverpool and Edinburgh given half a chance...

The Queen of Eros.

Books  This is more like it.  Part of the gonzo anthology Short Trips and Side Steps [2000] (which I really recommend to everyone), The Queen of Eros is a perfect little adventure filled with humour and heartbreak.  Through the usual imperfect navigation, the TARDIS lands in a Steve Jackson style fantasy kingdom.  The queen takes a shine to The Doctor, nabs the TARDIS key and tries to compel him to marry her using Sam as the bait.  She needs the marriage because under her custom no one can propigate the species unless the queen has married (dilemma).

It could be the closest I've seen Doctor Who get to Classic Star Trek, but one of those wierdo fantasy stories like The Cloud Minders or The Gamesters of Triskelion.  Queen Asheya is entirely the sort who would have buckled under Kirk's charms and wereas he might have seduced her into giving back the TARDIS key (or in his case his starship's communicators) The Doctor goes for the long game of stoicism (which isn't to say she doesn't kiss him once or twice).

At one point Sam is given a metal bikini and sent to a secret harem which is used to help propigate the species.  Although we don't find out what happens to her there I'm sure it's not the sort of thing Spock might have tollerated.  The story ends in a bare chested fight for the queen's hand between The Doctor and some royal advisor who also has the hots for her -- all very Amok Time.  You can almost hear that famous incidental music playing in the background.  Duh-duh-duh-duuum De-da Deda Duh-duh-duh-duuum.

Unlike the last couple of shorts this seems to fit the format perfectly.  Tiny number of distinctive characters with a linear plotline which offers some tension even with a realisable outcome.  The Doctor is a bit subdued restlessly searching the castle for his time machine, but he's basically letting things play themselves out, paying attention now and then when Sam's life's in jeopardy.  Sam's a bit cattier that usual and all the better for it -- there's a great exchange between her and the queen when the claws are out and it's very much about what isn't being said.  The queen herself is delicious character -- that hot mix of authority and passion.

I look forward to seeing what author Trevor Baxendale does with more pages, but that'll be in a few months.  I'm back on the novels tomorrow with The Bodysnatchers, which judging by the cover is going to be fun since I've never seen Terror of the Zygons (or anything with the Zygons in for that matter).


TV It's a page featuring all of Sydney Bristow's aliases in the tv series Alias.

The Road To Beijing: Michelle Dillon and James Goddard

The Road To Beijing Preview of the 2005 Michelob ULTRA London Triathlon:
"Greg Searle and Adrian Moorhouse, both former Olympic champions, have pledged to take their places on the starting line, but they facea huge task if they are to keep up with Michelle Dillon, of Team GB, and world men's number two Stuart Hayes, who are returning to the triathlon for yet another tilt at the title."
It's a real celebrity fest though. In other news, James Goddard missed out in the men's 100m backstroke heats when he finished 17th in 55.66, so it's not looking good for Montreal. [about]


Site News Yes it's true. It was a hostile takeover. [via]

I'm sorry, what was I saying?

Elsewhere I've been writing in here a lot in case you wondered.

"It's a moderately fun film at best..."

Film John from Sore Eyes has been good enough to post a review in the comments of this post for the Fantastic Four film. It sounds like it's about what I expected. Oops.

'Yes. But no. But. You were the chosen one.'

Film Yes, but I've got a gap on my shelf and its being released on my birthday. Yes, I know when Darth says 'Noooo....' it's cheesier than three Ewoks, but it bridges the saga. And stuff.

Dead Time.

Books  More Short Trips (1999) and this time The Doctor and Sam somehow manage to land their TARDIS inside an ancient time machine which has been infested with the remains of an ancient race of timelords.  At least I think that's what it's about because I've read the last ten pages twice over and I'm still not sure.  It all starts out spookily enough as we find a Doctor floating through a space being tortured by noises remembering the travellers initial trample through a void similar to the one which appears in the Big Finish cd Scherzo.  Writer Andrew Miller captures the characters very well -- the Sam here seems a bit more realistic than I've heard her before.

As the opening chapter of a novel it'd be excellent -- but ooh only got a few pages to resolve the story, so instead The Doctor disappears into his own mind and has a chat with a future version of himself over a cup of tea about what's been happening.  All tension disipates as drama gives way to exposition, with much talk of ancient Gallifrey and Rassilon and the like, followed by a 'with one leap they were free ending' which Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe would be proud of.  The story ends with The Doctor and Sam realising they going to forget everything that happened ... I'm sorry what was I talking about?


TV Just in case important people have missed it, the Tenth Doctor has a spiffy new costume, all 1940s spy. The return of an old companion is also announced as the new series starts filming. Anyone else hoping for a continuity fest?


TV Not all that long ago a spoof of the historical docu-soap format ran on The Adam and Joe Show called 'The 1980s House'. Now the US Mtv network comes the perilously close with The 70s House. Review and comment from Pop Matters:
"The potential hardships are immediately visible: no DVDs, PCs, or iPods. No cell phones or Playstations. Forced to wear polyester and go without Biore strips, the housemates, aged 18 to 25, must also learn '70s lingo and converse without using current slang or references to anything of the last 25 years. The one who adapts the best wins "some groovy prizes," including a 2005 VW Beetle and a tour of Europe.

The Road To Beijing: James Goddard

The Road To Beijing Nice piece in The Times about James Goddard and the rest of the swim team:
"JAMES GODDARD took a long, hard look down the World Championships pool on his arrival with the rest of the Great Britain team on Wednesday, smiled and said to Sean Kelly, his Stockport coach:

'I?ve got that feeling again - can I do a timed swim?' The answer was negative, but the positive vibes from Goddard - who epitomised Britain?s frustrations in Athens last summer when he finished fourth over 200 metres backstroke, was elevated to third and then demoted off the podium as Aaron Peirsol, of the United States, was reinstated as champion - spoke volumes for the spirit of a Britain squad looking in one direction."


Film Before the cold descended I was going to spend Friday night at the movies. I still want to see Fantastic Four if only to see how bad it is. I hope I enjoy it more than they did. [via]

'Then meeting his beautiful husband....'

Music Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill Acoustic is not about creating new fans. It's the musical equivalent of returning to your university city ten years on and seeing what's changed. The obvious plan was to re-record the tracks, introducing any changes which have developed through live performance over the years, as I think the singer says in the accompanying documentary bringing in all the new things she's learnt about the songs during the decade. It's actually a great thing to have the songs in a format I can listen to late at night with a good. I like that they have the familiarity of an old friend and that it's about how much you've changed as well.

Actually, vocally there aren't as many changes as you'd expect. Wake Up gets a whole new key and You Oughta Know has mellowed - but that's possibly because of the form more than anything. I would have liked some of the instrumentation to be even further away of the original - the iconic harmonica in Hand In My Pocket is still there. Also Mary Jane just sounds like a different mix of the track from the original album, unsurprising because it was acoustic already. Perhaps the biggest surprise is when Your House turns up at the end with a full late nineties Shelby Lynne style accompaniment, even with the abrupt ending, what had once been the creepiest vocal ever recorded becomes safe and comfortable despite the subject matter. Anyone else expecting a rocked up Polyanna Flower style punk fest?

[Actually I usually sing 'It's like meeting the girl of my dreams then meeting her beautiful wife.' but on this new version of Ironic, Alanis goes for something else. Previous reviews of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Under Rug Swept and So-Called Chaos bits of which are so negative I'm surprised I'm still a fan. Short memory syndrome?]

Scratch and sniffle

Life I've not been well these last few days, full of cold, in bed for days on end, which gives you too much time to think. Your mind is motivated to be off doing things and your body is saying no. Not yet. Soon. Back to work tomorrow.

The People's Temple

Books  One of the great mysteries is how Stonehenge was constructed.  Very recently, scientists have decided which Welsh quarry the stones came from.  I looked at a map and it's on the other side of the country.  I moved my finger across the screen -- how did the stones get from there  to there?  It's a fertile idea for a story and I'm surprised Doctor Who hasn't been there before.  In the dark times, before Russell, when I put together my own eight point plan for the future of the tv series (remind me to post it here some time) it was one of my suggested plotlines.  In a way, it's a shame that it's only turned up as one of the Short Trips (1998).  But here we are, as Sam talks The Doctor into taking her to see the 'temple' as it's  being freshly minted, getting mixed up with the ancient builders.

They find themselves in the middle of a cold war between the chieftans who are working towards the contruction of the temple.  It's all very reminiscent of a First Doctor historical as Sam blunders in to help someone who is being sacrificed and somehow manages to start a mini-war between the rival factions.  I can absolutely understand her poor reputation amongst fans as she entirely fails to follow The Doctor's instructions to leave off and go back to the TARDIS.  If he's telling you to this, getting involved would be a really bad idea.  All the way through this section I could hear the Ninth Doctor at the back of my mind shouting 'Just another stupid ape...'

But The Doctor seems out of sorts, fishing about trying to make the best of a bad situation.  You're never sure if he's deliberately going with the flow because he knows the outcome of the situation can only go one way or if writer Paul Leonard doesn't know quite what to do with him because all the exciting stuff is happening to Sam.  Leonard writing is actually very attractive in places though, especially whilst evoking the landscape.  But I think he encounters much the same problem as Sydney Newman in The Tribe of Gum (or whatever that story's being called this week) -- because it's in short form, none of the ancient people are distinctive enough to seperate or make us care for them -- in places it's difficult to tell who is allies with whom.

The ending (probably unavoidably) is a bit of cop out.  Sam realises what she's done and is looking for disproval from The Doctor, but he effectively sweeps what she's done under the carpet -- that the battle would have happened anyway because of the personalities -- she just helped to nudge things along, almost as though he's trying to justify things for himself as well, which is about as alien as I've ever seen or heard the Eighth Doctor be.