the public health threat is massive

Quote "Bush and the other officials have to stop talking in terms of weeks, and start being more honest about the impact that this disaster is really going to have. If it takes three months to fix the levees and drain the city, how long is it going to be after that before any place is habitable? How are the authorities going to deal with people coming back to the city before the city is ready? How will they stop people moving into dwelling that should be condemned and torn down? If people do move back into the city before the clean up has been finished, they will get sick - the public health threat is massive." From Suw Charman.


dvd I emailed ScreenSelect today because of a problem with a selection update -- they replied to me today (which is unusual because they don't ordinarily work at the weekend) -- at the bottom of the email they said the following...
"PLEASE NOTE - IMPORTANT INFORMATION: We have experienced a fire in the warehouse which will lead to a temporary disruption in service over the next few weeks. Please check our website for further information and details."
If you're a customer I'd keep checking the website. They have advised compensation for loss of service. I hope everything is OK.

Dark Water.

News "In case anyone in national security is reading this, get the word to President Bush that we need the military in here NOW. The Active Duty Armed Forces. Mr. President, we are losing this city. I don't care what you're hearing on the news. The city is being lost. It is the law of the jungle down here. The command and control structure here is barely functioning. I'm not sure it's anyone's fault -- I'm not sure it could be any other way at this point. We need the kind of logistical support and infrastructure only the Active Duty military can provide. The hospitals are in dire straights. The police barely have any capabilities at this point. The National Guard is doing their best, but the situation is not being contained. I'm here to help in anyway I can, but my capabilities are limited and dropping. Please get the military here to maintain order before this city is lost." From Survival of New Orleans blog.

Avoid the ...

TV Something which seems to have been missed by anyone else whose news feed I read. "The Daily Show"is going to be shown on the Channel 4's new digital station More4 the day after US transmission. So finally UK readers of US will actually be able to understand the hundreds of in-jokes the show generates ...


News I've just peeked at Google News. The world is broken. But if you look further down the page -- Britney Spears is going to call her child London, and Great Britain can field a joint football team for the 2012 Olympics.

Teenage Dirtbag

Film Has anyone else in the world seen the film Loser? After reading a string of poor reviews I finally dived in tonight and utterly adored it. It's funny how your enjoyment of a film can be totally inverse to what the professionals are saying, especially Ebert. Interestingly, even though the film was made just five years ago it feels like a cultural snapshot. There are references to My So-Called Life, the rock group Everclear and the soundtrack. They even sneak into the original revival of Cabaret on Broadway with Alan Cumming in a cheeky cameo. Coming so soon after American Pie and featuring Jason Biggs I would imagine that it was marketed as another gross out comedy which might suggest why no one seems to have admitted to seeing it. But whenever a potentially comic beat is being set up, the film lurches for melancholy. Whenever the titular loser Biggs is shit upon it's not played for laughs, you really feel for him, and in fact I'd say that one of the reasons the film resonates is because in places it feels a bit too close to my original university experience. Also, why is Mina Suvari not a major star? She's adorable here, really excellent.

Now that's magic

Blog! Magician Paul Daniels has a weblog:
"Since last I wrote I have been out and got new glasses. I just buy the enlarging ones that you get in Boots. Every time I pay a fortune for glasses I sit on them, drop them in the river, or simply lose them. Funny, isn't it? The opticians charge a FORTUNE for two bits of glass or plastic in what looks to me like exactly the same frames, or in my case, no frames at all. Perhaps I should get into that business and start selling Designer No Frames."
Now that's magic .... [Thanks Chris]

Huh. What. Neeooo.

People Liev Schreiber interview. He's been directing.


Life Getting everything prepared. It hadn't actually occured to me, I don't think, how much running around goes on when going from being a workperson to a studentperson again. Finding out about rail cards and season tickets and the cost of travel. Changing my current account into a student account and those benefits. Finding out about tax and national insurance and what happens with those -- something I remember now I have to do today. But there's also the strange feeling of displacement as the routine I've had for so many weeks and months dissipates -- not having to be at a particular desk in a particular by a particular time for a set number of hours. It's great but confusing.


Film Roger Ebert, my second favourite film reviewer separates the dvds in his house between "good" and "fairly good". I don't think there is a better way.

Also appeared with every Doctor Who apart from Chris and Dave ...

Obituary I wonder how many times the following conversation happened today ...
"Oh no. Michael Sheard's died."
"Mr Bronson."
"Aaaah ... wasn't he in Empire Strikes Back as well?"

Alien Bodies.

Books That last book was almost been enough to cause me to stop reading. Not just because it was a poor book, but because it indicated that the series editors didn't have a clear idea of what they were doing, of the tone they were looking for. The reason the new series has been such a success is because Russell T and the rest have a clear notion of what they want the series to be and where it's all leading. After five books, only Vampire Science, the second seemed to have a clear notion of what this new series was about other than either apeing the original series or otherwise case rewriting what we already knew to be true. Luckily I'd already read Lawrence Miles' Alien Bodies years ago and remember sort of enjoying it so I decided to give it one more.

Thank goodness. Good book. Really good. It's a great, book, really excellent. The prose is clear, logical and florid, by turns amusing and complex. There are enough concepts and ideas to feed whole seasons of the television series; it cleverly manages to feel complete whilst dropping enough hints and withholding enough information for the reader to want to know more - and so importantly continue reading, eager to find out what happens next.

A group of alien races are invited to a future Earth and Borno to bid for an item which has the power to help win wars and is valuable enough for whole planets to offer their entire natural resources to try and acquire it. This is the stock, base under siege storyline weaved into something which questions the premise of the series and rocks its lead character to his foundations - they're bidding for The Doctor's dead body, the condition he'll be in when he reaches his final end.

The titular 'base', The Unthinkable City is an interesting construct. If it wasn't being used for guests to the auction of death, it would make the perfect get away for the super-rich, with its Brigadoon circuit hiding it away from prying eyes. Don't let Paris Hilton see this all she'll be asking Daddy for some small change so she can open her own. Parts of it are deranged - the security in vault were the relic is held which uses the intruders own bio-data against them being an stand-out example. Some of the descriptions of those defensive systems are horrible. The guest's quarters are more clearly defined than others and I wonder why the Faction Paradox's place is particular defined.

One of the book's great successes are the bidders, the introduction of a series of new alien races, based on big concepts instead of rubber masks. I think my favourite is The Shift, who spends much of the first part of the book talking IN BLOCK CAPITALS APPEARING IN WHATEVER TEXT MIGHT BE IN THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE TIME, including television listing and crossword clues. As the story moves on we find he's more sinister than that and as I said before, he's a bit player here when he might have been enough to sustain a whole story. The future timelord, Homunculette runs a close second as the man The Doctor could have been had he taken another path. His distress over the 'death' of his own TARDIS, Marie (yes she has a name) is very touching, and I hope we see more of these organic humanoid ships in the future - they're the ultimate chameleon circuit. The clash of these races also generates some excellent humour; the uninvited Kroton's reaction to the robotic dancing girls is hilarious.

But what of the Faction Paradox. In one of the spoilers I'm trying to hide at the back of my head I know they're going to be really important in future story arcs and there are hints of that here. I don't know if this is by design they're actually the characters I found less appealing and most difficult to get a handle on. Throughout the book Miles describes things which are literally unimaginable and I found the Paradox top of that list.

One of the methods the book uses to draw out information is take a break now and then to tell the back story of one of the auction bidders. It an approach which reminds me of the moments in War of the Daleks when the narrative would break off and we'd read about a skirmish with The Draconians. The idea there was to open things up, but generally they were an annoyance, appearing at inopportune moments like Davros' reveal. Here they make perfect sense within the context as we find out each other character's reasons for being there. Some are horrifying within the present context, such as the Homunculette turning up at a House of Commons which is squatted in by a gun runner after some alien invasion. They're not slotted in at random - they usually answer a question which has cropped up or resolve a cliffhanger. They even place earlier parts of the novel into a new context. This is the first of the books which demands another read as moments mean something totally different in a new light.

Someone said recently that Doctor Who has always been about death. The Doctor has faced death many times, but it's always been the mortality of others - Adric, Katarina, countless rebels on hundreds of worlds. The only times he's really looked at his own end is that the times of his regeneration; that he talks about each of his selves as though they're separate people even though they're the same entity suggests he considers a regeneration to be a kind of death - this was particularly explicit in the last tv series. After audaciously opening with what's basically a Short Trip for the Fourth Doctor, the book does something absolutely new - has the timelord actually come to terms with his own death, the moment when his life will finally end. Although there is a seed of doubt as to how that will happen and even if the remains in the casket are him anyway, at the end of the book as far as he knows or cares he's burying himself, creating his own final resting place. That he handles it as well as he does is probably due to his alieness.

He's made to question his place in the universe. I've generally come to the view that The Doctor is like some intergalactic version of Quantum Leap's Sam Beckett, keeping the web of time together consciously or unconsciously. He's more aware of this at some times more than others, but it helps to explain his more reckless tendencies. The book hints that actually his death will only occur once the universe has finished with him, after all the wars have been settled, the timelines have steadied and the dimensions have calmed. In the times when we see the future of the universe of the war between the timelords and 'the enemy' at no point is it explicit that he's not there. It almost feels as though it's setting up the revelation of the new tv series that he'll be the last timelord standing, as though this vagabond is the only one who can be trusted.

This also solidifies the premise the everybody knows The Doctor, knows the stories. That all these disparate races would turn up buy his remains is one thing, but there's the feeling that the idea of him has touched thousands more. For some he must be like Keyzer Soze (from the film, The Usual Suspects) to paraphrase: "And like that he was gone. Underground. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story the monsters tell their offspring at night. "Rat on your pop, and The Doctor will get you." In others, like The Krotons, he's an everpresent threat, with a standing order of death on his head.

One of the book's biggest achievements is giving a point to companion, Sam Jones. In a recent interview for Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies says that Paul Abbott's proposed script for the new series would have described how 'Rose had been bred secretly by the Doctor as a psychic experiment to create the perfect companion'. I'm wondering if that's exactly what's happening here - I've said before that Sam is a bit bland, basically a cog doing all the things a companion is supposed to do without displaying the traits of being a real person. There are hints in here that she's been created to be exactly that, if not by The Doctor, some other sinister power. When Sam breaks into the vaults to try and grab the relic, her bio-data clones know about the person she either nearly was or was meant to be if The Doctor hadn't picked her up. Has she changed through his influence or something else? The fact that I'm asking these questions, that Sam is suddenly interesting, is genius. Incidentally, after a brief flirtation with Samantha Morton as she appears in Code 46, I've decided that Sam Jones is played by Scarlett Johansson (after seeing Girl With A Pearl Earring and The Island).

So yes, questions. The book has far too many big ideas to be ignored and I'm sure there will be concepts which will be returned to by other writers if not Miles himself. I don't ever remember the future of Gallifrey being given a context and a sense of place before (it's always appeared to be out of normal time) and to place it in the midst of a war with an enemy it doesn't know will have ramifications for the timeline and there's no doubt The Doctor is involved. It's a shame that I know that this isn't the battle which appears in the tv series, although I saw a great idea from someone on a continuity discussion board that they are the same war just viewed from different points of view by different incarnations of The Doctor. But that's a retcon for another time, I've had enough of those for now. I'll just enjoy the fact that there are some great adventures ahead.

Sevvy Paaak

Blog! For a while I thought I was the only blogger in Liverpool; perhaps, right at the beginning I was. Now every now and then another one pops up and it turns out they've been writing for years. So I'll stumble upon posts like this in which someone talks about visiting the park near where I live. With pictures. Enjoy.


Film The documentary, Overnight, tells the story of ex-bar tender Troy Duffy who was infamously given a deal by Harvey Weinstein and Miramax to write and direct his script 'The Boondock Saints' and offering a record deal to his band (then called 'The Brood'). So we find the elation at the both deals and the splintering which occurred between Troy's commitment to the film and his band and his inability to commit to both at the same time. It's difficult to see how we're supposed to feel during the film - without retrospective interviews we're generally left watching Troy meeting famous people and arguing with his band and friends in rooms and bars. He's such an unlovable, unhumble person it's difficult to feel any sympathy for him as success drifts away. At the times when he should be hunkering down and working and making the most of the opportunities he's been given, he's either partying or boasting about how he (I'm paraphrasing) deserves everything that's coming to him. Well he got the last part right. It's a cautionary tale, which at times could be a parody except we know it's entirely, shockingly real.

Dear pretty girl from Liverpool ...

Life This appeared in tonight's Liverpool Echo:

When this was first read out to me, I thought he meant the restaurant on Renshaw Street in Liverpool and then as the message went on obvious it becomes clear he means the real casino in Las Vegas. It's a romantic gesture; he doesn't describe himself much or the object of his affections other than that she's pretty -- it's about how she's made him feel. Like any man in love he remembers the exact time and place that he met her and probably every moment that they spent together. We all have those same conversations locked away ready to drag out when he need a reminder that there may be some hope for us. He's still thinking about her a fortnight later, across the ocean, and doesn't even know her name.

I've tried googling Lewis's name and the only mention I can find is on this page, which lists birth reports in the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 1999:
July 28
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center
Teresa and Lewis Marrero, girl
Is this the same Marrero? What's happened in his life between then and now? This is the kind of story for which there is never a follow up. But perhaps if Lewis googles his own name one day and finds this post he could email (or leave a comment here) and let us all know how he got on...

Is he going to do it all like that?

Film Untitled Soccer Project (2006) -- with a segment directed by Ken Branagh. Good lord.

Links for 2005-08-28 []

Links for 2005-08-28 []

* Walter Koenig Reprises His Role as Chekov
Slashdot reports actor to appear in fan made production written by DC Fontana.
* Shakespeare-The Players
Excellent find. The Hamlet page is very thorough.
* Undiscovered @ Rotten Tomatoes
I've never seen a film with a score that low before. But then it does feature Ashlee Simpson.

Snow is falling, all around me ..

That Day Happy Christmas Bill.


Shakespeare The bardman was a political rebel who wrote in code, claims author:
"Far from being an ambitious entertainer who played down his Catholic roots under a repressive Elizabethan regime, Shakespeare took deliberate risks each time he took up his quill, according to Clare Asquith's new book Shadowplay. She argues that the plays and poems are a network of crossword puzzle-like clues to his strong Catholic beliefs and his fears for England's future. Aside from being the first to spot this daring Shakespearean code, Asquith also claims to be the first to have cracked it."
Dan Brown and Patricia Cornwell have a lot to answer for.

So hats off all, verily.

Film The Internet Movie Database has a natty way of presenting user reviews in an expanded format -- which includes poster art. Here are all my submissions. I'm going to upload all of the reviews from the blog over the next few weeks when I've got a minute -- it'll be nice to have them all in one place.

all in one place

Life Quiet weekend after a busy week. Walking around London and Manchester was apparently more exhausting than I thought (I really should take more breaks when I do things like that). So instead I've been catching up on my dvd backlog. Has anyone else seen the Bill Murray Elephant comedy Larger Than Life? What a great, funny, touching film.