Shakespeare Anything at The Globe, Jessica? Lord knows what director Mark Rylance makes of this ...


Weblogs This isn't going to stop me from reading Cinematical, but lord what a mess. In case anyone's missed this, Kate Hopkins has posted the whole story (literally minute by minute) at Metafilter. I know this post is a bit obscure to the casual visitor to the blogosphere, but if you read the linked posts all will become clear. $500 a month for about four and a half posts a day isn't too mad as a sideline. But then you'd actually have to find things to post so ...


Firefox Installed the new version of Greasemonkey last night. Cleared out all of the scripts I'd collected and now won't allow me to reinstall any of them or any new ones -- I get a blank 'Install User Scripts' dialogue box without an automatic website inclusion of the ability to click OK. Any ideas?


Life Was in Manchester today clothes buying. In the end, the only place I made a purchase was Primark. I don't know what it's like were you are, but the shop in Manchester is always busy and doesn't have enough tills to cope. The queues are so long that entire civilisations are formed, flourish and die in the time it takes to be served. I'm sure I saw two people start their own religion then disintegrate into dogmatic infighting over what colour shirt they should be wearing.

Meanwhile at Schuh a mother was trying to talk her son into buying a pair of trainers.
"I don't like them." He said.
"But ..." She whithered.
"I don't like them." He repeated.
"Oh alright. Come on." She grabs his hand and makes for the door. "But I bet if there are fifteen kids in school on Monday wearing them you'll like them then ...."

Causality shuffles into casualty

Film Before you go to see Shane Carruth's film Primer can I make a suggestion? Do not drink anything beforehand - do not give yourself any reason that you might want to go to the toilet at any time during the film. I inadvertently rushed to the men's room about eight minutes before the end, and I've a horrible feeling that in the thirty seconds I was away from the screen something vitally important happened because I totally missed or misunderstood what happened at the end.

Which is a shame because on the whole I quite liked the film. It's how I'd imagine Whit Stillman might attack the making of a sci-fi adventure. With all my mainlining of Doctor Who these past few months, it's quite a shock to see time travel treated in such a mundane (realistic) fashion. No dimensionally transcendental blue boxes here, just a large metal case which at one point is referred to as a coffin. No popping in and out of a time vortex - this is hard work as the traveller has to sleep in that box for six hours so that they can go back in time six hours.

Shot on Super-16mm this is not a pretty film. It has the look of a 70s British Government Information film crossed with Steven Soderbergh's the maddest excesses of the South American scenes in Traffic. This grittiness creates an atmosphere of taking a sneak peak at a transgression in the fabric of the universe, of two people being given a power they really shouldn't have. The acting style is also fairly understated - even when bad things start to happen the characters take it in their stride. It's quite disconcerting really.

Whilst I enjoyed all this, and it's probably one of the best films of the year I did leave with the sense that it didn't quite work. I'd like to think that my bladder's effected my judgment again, but it feels as though there are problems with the edit. I'd love to know what footage didn't make the final cut because ninety minutes isn't long enough. The film makers have obviously made the admirable choice of withholding information to give the audience the chance to fill in the blanks themselves - a narrative version of keep the monster in the shadows during a horror film.

The trouble is that after an opening hour which meticulously sets up the world and the rules of the game, we're presented with an increasingly fractured story in which vital events which should make an impact shuffle past before the viewer has had a chance to take them in. Causality shuffles into casualty. This inevitably creates an instant audience for a second viewing (and the cinema I saw the film at mentions that the viewer should be prepared to see it twice) but the experience needs to make sense for the one timers. It's important to layer information for people who want to see a film more than once so that they can be amazed, and although I understand what the what's been attempted here, in my opinion a film can't effectively be the trailer for itself this tries to be. Unless I missed something. I'll wait and see it again on dvd. Ooh -- you see what they did there?

Off The Tardis

TV This month's Off The Telly is a Doctor Who special. Their history of Saturday night television reaches 2005 and records this years shenanigans; Andrew Collins describes his time working on a Big Finish play and Gary Russell gives an extraordinarily honest interview offering his thoughts on the new series, were the audios are heading and the fans. I wish Doctor Who Magazine could be like this. Prepare to have you eyebrows permanently raised.

Multiload every bullet

Games Doom for the ZX Spectrum sounds like a really great idea until you get to play the thing and realise that its all in monochrome and there isn't anything to kill. The emulation is still a demo so you never know, miracles might happen. On a C64 -- now that would be a miracle.

Walking with Londoners

Life I went for a walk around London yesterday, mostly on the South Bank. So whilst Liverpool was apparently enjoying the loveliest day of the month, I was fighting my way across the Millenium Bridge, trying to hold my umbrella in such a way that the wind would pull it and my off the side into the Thames. It absolutely the worst weather, but that meant I wasn't getting the idealized version which appears in film and television.

Disappointingly I still haven't seen The Globe Theatre. I've seen the outside, but tragically I arrived too late for the tours inside and if I'd stayed for the performance I would have needed to leave after half an hour of Troilus and Cressida to get the train home, which would have been depressing. Other places I've seen from the outside include, the Royal National Theatre, National Film Theatre, Dali Universe, London Aquarium, Theatre Museum, London Transport Museum and the Houses of Parliament. I looked up at the London Eye too, although I saved that experience on purpose for another time.

The main point of the visit became Tate Modern. I'd seen the Channel Four series about the construction of the gallery in the shell of the power station and seen the numerous photographs of the inside of the Gas Hall. But overall I was a bit disappointed. I prefer Tate Liverpool, and I'm not saying that because some city pride but because it's a more coherent gallery. The 'hanging' throws out the traditional chronological approach in favour of thematic connections, which is interesting but overall diminishes the art on display. In some cases, by throwing Hirst and Beuys in together all kinds of issues are being confused. The displays which work best are those which cover a particular subject or artist - so-called Degenerate Art for example, or Michael Craig-Martin. The latter was the highlight particularly his work, The Oak Tree. Yes, it's an oak tree - it just happens to be in the shape of the glass of water at the present moment alright? Perfect.

When I described the path I took to my parents last night they think I must have walked about ten or twelve miles. It certainly felt that way. I'm assuming it's not usual that someone would walk from Tate Modern to Trafalgar Square via Big Ben. Now and then I'd go the wrong way and end up literally off the tourist map I was using. I managed to see the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst that way. I did blunder up Whitehall and caught a glimpse of Downing Street although I wasn't surprised to see main doors to the PM's kingdom are not flush with the main road - it's odd to see a street gated off that way, creates a sense of artificiality.

Drifted around Covent Garden for a while. The market was just closing; a busker filled the air with opera. It's unnerving to find shops still open after six o'clock and you just feel like you should go into HMV at that time because you can. I visited the Paul Boulangerie & Pattiserie on Bedford Street and bought a Rhubarb Tart, which came in a box, and sat eating it in the doorway of an HSBC - one of the truly most delicious sweets I've ever tasted - I'll be remembering that for years to come. The slice of pizza I had later from cart in the west end wasn't quite the same.

I'd planned to catch the last train home but by seven my feet were finally throbbing. I simply don't stop enough times on trips like this because I want to take everything inbut there is a pain barrier which leads you to stop wanting or needed to go anywhere else other than back to the station. . So I didn't go into the Titanic exhibition at the Trocadero, even though, according to poster outside Time Out Dubai loved it (Time Out London not offering an endorsement apparently) Maybe next time.

War of the Daleks.

Books  I knew when I started this adventure that there would be times when I'd be sighing and wondering whether I should be reading something else.  John Peel's War of the Daleks was a slog and it's taken days to work through the final hundred pages.  I was once scouring an online bookshop and saw this on sale, with a description which suggested this was the work of the late Radio One DJ.  How I'd chuckled.  Now I wonder if the world would have been a better place if that version of the book had existed because really it couldn't have been any worse than this.  And at least it would have been a bit funny and featured some German retro-punk (played at the wrong speed).

It's hard to know what Peel's intent was, although I'm guessing he'd had an idea for a film version knocking around since he tackled the final Target novelisations and was itching for it not to go to waste.  So we have the story of what happens when the crew of a garbage ship find themselves caught in the middle of a skirmish between some Thals and Daleks over a mysterious box which turns out to be the hiding place for Davros.  The Doctor and Sam accidentally find themselves in the middle and are pulled along by events.  I actually quite enjoyed this section of the book - Sam's jealousy of the Thals with their Baywatchian physique is fairly amusing as is the chemistry between The Doctor and the ship's engineer Chayn.

But every now then I felt a twinge of something not right.  Bits of it feel poorly edited.  The Doctor tells Sam that he's a legend amongst the Thals at least twice, and some of the ships geography is confusing.  Plus there are honking great slabs of exposition as The Doctor stands around explaining Dalek history from day one which might well explain the difference between the two factions for new readers but signposts that the rest of the book isn't going to be telling a new story - it's Resurrection of the Daleks all over again in space instead of London and without Rula Lenska.

I actually stopped caring about halfway through the book as Thal infighting hit fever pitch and The Doctor sounded like he wanted to be somewhere else.  The main thrust of the 'story' begins as it becomes apparent that Dalek Prime wants to bring Davros to Skaro for trial and to deal with his faction once and for all.  Read that again.  Yes, that Skaro.  In Chapter 8, the whole of the tv series Dalek continuity is re-written or joined up in an ingenious, annoying, scandalous and ultimately desperate bid to press the reset switch so that Skaro is brought back into existence for the purposes of setting an epic trial scene there, a whole other anonymous planet being destroyed at the end of the McCoy story Revelation of the Daleks.  I actually stopped reading after that and it took me a day to get back - not because I was affronted but because it's twaddle and entirely opposite to why I like Doctor Who - for the good adventure yarns.

I just lost interest, as each arduous action sequence drifted by, Davros and the Daleks double crossed each other over and over with The Doctor having pretty much nothing to do with any of it, apart from explaining to Sam (and the reader) what was happening at the trial and then spending his time instead coping with a booby trapped TARDIS.  To call it professional fan fiction would insult some of the really great fan fiction out there.  Not even the possible demise of a major character could save this ship from sinking.

But hold on - we can pretend it didn't happen.  After all, Big Finish are pretending it didn't happen with the release of Terra Firma which suggests a whole other timeline for The Doctor, Davros and the Daleks.  It might be just as bonkers, but the difference is, it's well written, exciting and heartfelt and above all an adventure!  It might be just as controversial in its own way, but it also ties in to the new series quite well.

I've read the next book, Alien Bodies before and loved it.  I'm looking forward to this …

I always catch my breath

Music "Missing jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux has been "found" after her record label hired a private detective to trace her." I didn't know she'd gone anywhere, and it turns out Madeleine was with her manager in New York. But this BBC News story is worth looking at for the accompanying video report which includes a David Blaine beating non-interview she gave on BBC Breakfast before running off, the comments from an obviously annoyed record company and randomly literally a few words from an extraordinarily uncomfortable Lou Reed who looks about ready to go off and record a sequel to Metal Machine Music.

I'm having a moment.

Life For the past few days I've been receiving course literature. A couple of letters welcoming me to the faculty and today an itinerary for the induction week which begins on the twelfth of September which means I've actually only got three weeks until university begins. It doesn't feel long enough but it's also just right. There are presentations about Manchester's attractions and the university; visits to local museums and architecture and to a curry house to meet my course mates.

It dawns on me that I could be doing courses in French Cinema, Feminism in Cinema and Hollywood. The MA is modular which means that I'll be able to join subjects which are part of other courses; it'll be like the night school courses I've been doing all these years just more intense. It's exciting and frightening. I've made a pact with myself though that when I'm making selections it'll be based on that which truly interests me and not because I want to bunch them together so that I'm having to commute on less days. I need to make the most of this one shot chance of a lifetime and care about the travel and (to an extent) the money later, otherwise what's the point. I'll be compromising again and I've decided my thirties aren't going to be about that.

Middle Shelf #2

Middle Shelf The good people at Machine Knitting Monthly are surprisingly upbeat:
"It's been a hectic month here, with more to come. Machine Knitting LIVE! at Croydon is safely put to bed and we all had a lovely time. There's now a trip to Scotland to fit in before Metropolitan's Dream Week, followed immediately by the Thornbury show and then four days plus a day setting up at the NEC. There are still a good few of us flying the flag for machine knitting, but we need every bit of support so do join me at any or all of these events if you can."
I always wondered were the rearchers at Have I Got News For You got their ideas for guest publications. Media UK must have been a stopping off point, which is were I found the recently linked beer magazine and this one. I'll let you know if I spot anything else. Somehow it's comforting to know that there is a magazine for everyone ...

Round and round

RSS This is meta. A weblog which posts RSS feeds with its own RSS feed.

And what became of Monkey?

TV My dad received a pretty surreal letter today. When ITV Digital went under we lost our digibox deposit, but put a claim for the £50 not expecting anything back. When Granada effectively gifted the box to us we thought nothing of it (and were still using it now, with all it's OnDigital branding). Turns out the liquidators have done their maths and Dad's had £4.55 rebated back into his bank account. Random.

I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing this moment when Malcolm Shearson of the liquidators appeared on Radio Five Live when an approach was made for customers to actually buy the boxes back from ex-subscribvers. He was initially in bullish mood, until presenters Guy Richardson, Victoria Derbyshire and Julian Worricker began to ask him some tough questions. Even if you know nothing of this story, it's a fantastic bit of radio as Shearson realises he hadn't looked at all (any?) of the issues involved and may have made a terrible mistake getting up that morning. 'I ... I want my box back ...' [real one req]

'Thanks for calling Liverpool Direct..."

Life My last day at work today. Sitting down at my desk for the final time this morning, and emptying my desk, I wondered if I'd done the right thing. But then I thought about everything which going to happen next and how I always promised myself that my life would be filled with different experiences and I just knew. I was given some vouchers and cards from my colleagues and all of the comments written were genuinely touching and funny. Surreally I finished at midday because of the way my final holiday time was worked out. Funny that the only half day I've taken there would be on my last day.

Unlike most call centres, when someone leaves, they don't disappear, and I made sure, that rather than just going, I would say take care to everyone. People asked what I was doing next. They said I would be missed, which is the nicest thing anyone can say really, and shows that I've done something right. I'll miss them too -- it'll be funny waking up tomorrow, the routine dissipated, not seeing those faces and hearing those voices every day. I've promised to stay in touch and I really will, swapping email addresses and (eep) passing on the weblog address. Take care everyone and I'll speak to you soon.


Drink Apropo of nothing, there is a magazine called Beers of the World. [via]


Film Sin City director Robert Roderiguez interviewed about the forthcoming special edition:
"I told Frank [Miller], let's do three stories. I know it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but we'll cram three stories together. We'll shoot the full books, but in editing I'll just figure out what stuff we need to cut to make it flow as a feature for the theatrical release so people can sit there and in under two hours see sort of a resemblance what the movie is. But when it goes to DVD, we can do a special edition where the second disc can have the stories separated out in the full cuts so that you can see it the way you would read the books. You just watch "The Yellow Bastard," the full cut, or see "The Big Fat Kill," and that's the way you're supposed to read the books."
I wonder if it will be ready in time to be the first Region 2 release, missing an initial vanilla.



Originally uploaded by Pittam.

That's my lunch! The Continental Market is in Liverpool this weekend and at Friday lunchtime I bought some food from this stall -- and the exact pork fillet I ate is there in this picture, far left. Delicious. I could eat it again.