Archie Venus

TV The other day I asked what the US show Veronica Mars was about. Random surfer, Magnolia, left an outrageously good comment which makes viewing of the series compulsory. I can't see why this hasn't been picked up in the UK yet; I'll keep an eye on ebay for the Region One dvd which is due out in October.

D'ya take ...

Life I spent the day getting my room in order. It occurred to me the other day that in going back to university I would need more space for study props, for folders and library books and probably with nature of the course, videos and dvds. I needed drawer space so I sifted through my clothing and shuddered as I realised that most of anything is years out of date, worn or too small. Threw out a black bag full (too poor in condition for charity). I suddenly need to buy lots of clothes - which is good because I love shopping. Having cleared my collection of candles and knickknacks away I now have a neat place on top of the chest of drawers next to a speaker. It's probably not enough space but it'll do for now.

Let it all out

Life I've just had my first ever geek argument with my Dad. I'll save you the details but somehow I found myself shouting: "Why would the results be in alphabetical order? GOOGLE USES PAGE RANKING!"

Creep! Creep ...

Blog! Radiohead seem to have a blog. It's a bit spare but they does have an RSS feed.

Just add hot water

Life Ian has a picture of that Duke of Pot Noodle promotion I wrote about the other day...

There will be no white flag above my door

Blogger You'll notice a big white gap between the logobar and the text. If you hover your mouse pointer over the 'flag' button at the top on the 'blogger' navigation bar, all becomes clear. The blogosphere isn't going to like this ... Update! After looking at Inside Google it seems that this new dongle only looks horrible and gunks up the format of the page in Firefox -- in IE a neat little pop-up appears. Perhaps they'll have that ironed out in the next couple of days. I'm not against the idea exactly, just the implimentation.


The Buses But I'm still working for the moment and this morning I'm stuck on one of those ancient buses which I wrote about the other day. We're half way up Princes Avenue (long road which bridges the Sefton Park area and the city centre straight through Toxteth) and a very strong burning smell starts to permiate the atmosphere. The bus grinds to a halt. I look around and see large amounts of smoke billowing from the engine.
"Turn around." I say outloud. "Smoke."
The rest of the bus turn around and look. Someone actually gasps. By now, the driver is getting out of his can and is off the bus walking towards the back. We watch him looking at the engine.
A woman at the front stands and trying to be impressive says: "Well he would stop in the middle between two bus stops. Sod this -- I'm getting a taxi." We watch as she stomps off the bus and into the distance.
The driver returns.
"Erm. The bus is on fire. But there's another one up the road there."

For eveeeer

Football I watched Fever Pitch on Sunday, the British adaptation with Colin Firth. By the end of the film, not know this history I was will Arsenal to win. There is a passion about the piece which I don't see in the modern game (even through my limited experience). So mainly to rattle the cage of at least one of my readers I present Football fans are idiots:
"The atmosphere's become rubbish too. Go to a match 15 or more years ago, and by 2.30pm the terraces would reverberate with a Spector-esque wall of sound. Even if the game was dire, the chants and terrace witticisms would turn it into a spectacle of sorts - albeit one where hooliganism was rife.

These days at home matches, what usually happens? You get to the ground at 2.50pm, just in time to hear a local radio DJ induce a faux-atmosphere by shouting: "Are you ready? I said: Are you ready? Let's make some noise!" Like sheep, the crowd responds, sings one song, and then settles back into silence.

The truth is, you probably only leave your seat only when a goal is scored, five minutes before half-time (to go to the toilet and scoff down a congealed pie in four bites or less) and, 10 minutes before the end "to beat the traffic". And you pay £20, £30 or £40 for this? Every other week?"
In truth I only ever been to one football match in my life, in 1984, Everton against Luton Town, FA Cup semi-final replay. I believe we beat them two-nil. I went with my Dad who reliably informs me that I spent most of the game running backwards and forwards to the toilet. Personally I think I was more fascinated by Goodison Park than the match itself. And so it goes ...

Fry ... Fry ... Fry ...

Life I'm wearing a self produced Ferris Bueller t-shirt from a few years ago. On the back it says: "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Life can move pretty fast. You don't stop to look around once in while you could miss it." It's faded but I feel like I want to wear it every day between now and the induction day at University. I won't because it would smell. But those words seem really important, especially now. I finish work on Monday lunchtime and I received a letter today welcoming me to the faculty. With each of these letters from college I get a lump in my chest as though it's not real. I've a mountain of knowledge in my head which in a day and half I'll need to put to one side ready for what's been my hobby to become my vocation. It's outrageous.


Mefi MSN Filter. Yes -- it's as bad as it sounds. Bill's is using Matt for 'inspiration'. For some reason I'm reminded of Goliath the talking truck in Knight Rider -- big ugly and slower than the real one. [inevitably via]

Still Dancing

TV Now updated with material from the new series, 'Leave the Girl, it's the Man I Want: The Evolving Guide to Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Moments in Doctor Who' is about what you'd expect -- a collection of camp moments from over the years. I never ever thought that about Mike Yates ... [via]

I hope to write a better one next time

Theatre Emma Kennedy has been to see the widely and wildly panned musical The Man In The Iron Mask, y'know just to see. Oh the humanity:
"There was no doubting it - it was shockingly diabolical but even the hardest of critics would have been moved to tears by the fact that sitting in the stalls, with the other 50 people who had come to point and gawp, was the composer and lyricist. He was about 80 and looked like thin tissue paper about to disintegrate in the wind. He had a plastic bag in one hand and was wearing a short brown rain coat. He was sitting on his own and singing along to every single song. It was heartbreaking. Rumour has it that the reason this show has been put on was because it was his wife's dying wish. I don't know if that's true but if it is, it makes me want to kill myself for laughing. At the end, he stood up, turned to a group of deeply unimpressed tourists and said "I hope to write a better one next time," smiled and walked out of the theatre where he stood and took pictures of the hoardings."
Sadly, the soundtrack is not available in any shops. [via]

So it's almost like taking people on a journey.

TV As you know British writer and broadcaster Danny Wallace currently has a tv series on the BBC in which he's attempting to set up his own independent country in his flat in London. Tonight's episode looked at consitutional affairs and government and he went to see Noam Chomsky for some advice. Chomsky seemed slightly bemused but tried to helpful, and here is a transcript of all the interesting and useful things he had to say:
" There's a famous founder of the modern university system, Guillaume von Humbolt, German, important intellectual, he once said that you shouldn't really teach people, you should lay out a thread which they can then follow on their own and discover what it is that they ought to know, which you may not know, you may learn along the way as well. And I think that's the right attitude towards not only teaching but so-called leadership, leading. Like the goal of a leader ought to be to, basically eliminate himself."
At the end Wallace gave him a t-shirt with the work 'Ambassador' printed on in big yellow letters, which made him an ambassador for the still unnamed country. As Wallace said: "If you'll accept it. So it's up to you, you can be Citizen Chomsky, or Ambassador Noam."

Dovedale Towers


Dovedale Towers
Originally uploaded by MagAndHelen.

This is for Chris. I never thought I'd see a photo of that on the web. Good shot too.

And the fire fades away.

Film Watched Michael Winterbottom's Code 46 this evening, and it's certainly one of the best films I've seen this year. By taking the setting and plot of what could have been a tired sci-fi action drama, and dropping them into a slower, more sensuous pacing, with understated performances and faux-naturalistic dialogue, the film becomes a piece about sadness and loss of control. It's a sigh about the world and human race and what we could become. A bit of a love it/hate it film though, so I'd check Rotten Tomatoes before you take the plunge. But I think you'll love it -- it's beautiful.

I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes ...

Music Fiona Apple's releasing a reworked version of her heavily bootlegged album Extraordinary Machine. What worries me though is the picture BBC Online have used to illustrate the story -- is that the only one available? Fiona can look like this. Worrying.
Update! Rolling Stone report that the new release will feature a new, non-leaked song Parting Gift, which I hope isn't a loaded title. Incidentally their picture of Fiona is lovely.

Place bids now!

ebay In a bid to make some money for the future I'm selling some bits and bobs on ebay. Some might raise their eyebrows at the appearance of 24, Woody Allen and Doctor Who on there. Well: I haven't watched my way all the way through either of those 24 boxsets since I bought them, I've got Curse of the Jade Scorpion on Region 2 now, and Genocide is not something I'd ever want to read again. Expect further sale justifications soon ...

Nobody can be as stupid as he seems ...

Who Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. My favourite Doctor Who story of all time The City of Death is coming to dvd towards the end of the year. Not convinced that I could possibly pick one story above all others? New readers should take a seat, plump up their cushions and read this post from 2002. Thanks to the BBC's restoration team it'll doubtless look better than it ever has. Full story here.

For mankind

Space Now this is exciting. The Spacecraft series are dvd boxsets which pull together all the available footage connected with a series of moon related NASA missions. So for Apollo 15, that includes:
- Complete television and onboard motion picture film from the Apollo 15 mission
- Rare onboard astronaut recordings
- Exclusive computer flyover of the Apollo 15 landing site, showing EVA traverses and dramatic views of the Hadley Rille area
- Multi-angle features during launch and lunar liftoff
- Footage of training, spacecraft checkout, suitup, ingress, splashdown, and recovery-even the crew statements on the carrier deck.
On that set alone there are six disks and about twenty-one hours of the stuff. Which is amazing, but also begs the question -- who has the time to sit down and watch all that stuff? I wonder if people will more likely invest in the Apollo 11 set because that was particularly historic and the rest will be up to the specialists, which is shame because that's the material which is already most familiar -- the Geminis will surely be just as interesting because of their pioneering nature. If you're looking for a cheaper option, the extras section on the dvd for the funky Australian comedy The Dish (about the radio telescope which helped beam the pictures of Neil and Buzz around the world) has all the important Apollo 11 footage you'd ever want.

Yeee - haaaa

Life I spent part of lunchtime being advertised to. A replica General Lee was parked up in Church Street and the Pot Noodle roadshow, part of a cross promotion for the film version of The Dukes of Hazzard had pitched up on the events podium, with Jessica Simpson lookalikes giving away samples (or rather whole pots) of some new Southern Fried Chicken flavour. Literally a feeding frenzy. A giant inflatable nearby offered the chance to win fabulous prizes by pulling a noodle from a haystack. Words fail me, although it made a change from the pigeons. Just to save myself from accusations of succumbing to viral marketing, here are the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. My favourite: "Half the jokes land on the screen like dead armadillos." This is not going to go well ...

Updated 17/12/2005 If you found this post because your were looking for the picture of Jessica Simpson would be OK to let me know why? The blog's getting hammered (good thing) but I'm not sure why (bad thing). Has there been some kind of email circular or discussion board post which links to that Google image search?

A storybook story.

Film I watched Moonraker tonight. It's far too long and the ending is ludicrous -- which sums up most James Bond films, I suppose. Meanwhile, I hear that The Princess Bride is being turned into a musical, and creator William Goldman is working on the script. Given Mandy Patinkin's background in musicals, how wrong would it be for him not to be playing Inigo Montoya? [via (again)]

No. I mean I don't know. Erm.

Film At the time of release, Gary Fleder's The Runaway Jury was largely dismissed as 'yet another John Grisham adaptation', which is odd because (with the exception of a couple of tv movies) his books hadn't been anywhere near a cinema screen since The Rainmaker in 1997 (The Gingerbread Man in 1998 directed by Robert Altman was based on an original screenplay). It does fit within the recognisable formula of well known actors making big speeches in and around courtrooms but in execution it's a far more subtle piece of work than it was given credit for at the time, more akin to the work of Steven Soderbergh in serious mode.

This connection is apparent in the use of time; much like The Limey there are flashes forward and back, imagined scenes and the withholding of information for dramatic effect. Unlike those earlier Grisham adaptations, a second viewing explains the actions of the characters much more clearly because we cumulatively have a greater awareness of their motivations. John Cusack is playing the character we've seen him play a hundred times, but as the film progresses we realize that it's a darker, edgier version and that we're being seduced by him in a similar way to the jurors. Similarly Rachel Weisz has the acidity she displayed in The Shape of the Things but later we have a vision of her vulnerability underneath.

The most traditional and least surprising aspect is the relationship between the Hackman and Hoffman characters. Apparently their big scene were they argue the ethics of a clean trial in a bathroom was not in the original script and was written and filmed later, isolated from much of principal photography. It's a great little scene, well acted, but it feels tacked on. It doesn't further the story and tells us things about the characters we already know, that Hackman is a son-of-a-bitch and that Hoffman would lose if something fishy wasn't going on. But the film would be less powerful without it and the viewer would undoubtedly be saying at the end, 'You mean you had those two and they didn't have a scene together?'.

What makes the film different is that the story isn't about the outcome of the trial in the traditional sense (can the 'good' lawyer provide enough evidence to beat the 'bad' lawyer) but who can manipulate the jury from within and without the reach the most positive outcome for them. The main thrust of the story is told outside the courtroom, in streets, hotel rooms, restaurants and bathrooms. During the trial scenes, at what would usually be important moments like the closing statements, the editor deliberately cuts away to something happening outside. Unlike the majority of studio releases it assumes that viewers have seen movies in this genre before, understands the conventions and gleefully plays about with them, granting the viewer some intelligence, which makes for a refreshing change.