Neil Young chatting up Don Johnson

Photography "And make no mistake, the DC25's 24-bit color snapshots (493 x 373 pixels in high resolution mode, 320 x 240 in standard mode) are more than adequate for populating your home page or informal sections of a company website. In fact, my snapshot of Neil Young chatting up Don Johnson at this year's Farm Aid was good enough to run on the front page of JAMtv, not to mention very successful at amusing most of my friends and family when I sent it to them as a .jpg e-mail attachment." -- a quick google found this pleasingly chatty review of my new/old digital camera. It was published in mid-October 1997 which is bags older than I thought. Which means its eight or nine years old. And it still looks brand new. Shockingly, Kodak aren't supporting it anymore.

Street opposite camera shop


Street opposite camera shop
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

This is the first picture I took once I left the camera shop. The resolution is actually much better than I remember. The shots a stored in some native Kodak format so they need to be downloaded to the special software for conversion to jpeg.

looked again

Photography About five years ago, in fact it may have been longer, I was given a digital camera for Christmas. It's a Kodak DC25. I was stunned, surprised, silenced for once. But after testing it for a few days over that Christmas period I didn't carry on using it. I wasn't online then, didn't have this blog thing, and I didn't think I needed it. I wss told it had been quite expensive which made me worried about carrying it around with me. Plus I didn't like the photographs. At its highest setting it takes a picture with of 493x373 pixels which was amazing just before then I suppose. At the time I was pretty happy with my film camera which gave a sharper image.

Over the past few months I've been getting an itchy snapping finger. I've been watching those pictures flowing through flickr (and posted some of them on here) and wanted to capture bits of my life as well. There is something gratifyingly instant about being able to show the world a picture you've taken just moments before. I have been thinking about investing in a proper digital camera, a new model with all the trimmings, but with the whole lack of genuine income I didn't want to waste my time. I mean I bought one a couple of years ago, a tiny wee thing and that was really poor. What if it was hype and I really didn't need one after all?

So I looked again at the DC25. Yes, the resolutions blurry but I sort of like the old schoolness of it -- seeing the world through the pixels -- rather like those films which are still being made on VHS on purpose. I took it to the camera shop today, replaced the lithium batteries and invested in a compact flash memory card. The man in the shop with all his wide-eyed amazement that this thing is still working, somehow found something to fit -- the manual advises that the highest card available at the time was 2mb. This is 128mb and after some maths that means it'll hold a thousand shots. Which is amazing.

I've joined the flickr generation...

"I've seen every episode of Doctor Who. Not Red Dwarf, though..."

TV Somebody beat me to the punch with posting the news about the sale of the new series to the US both here (hey Paul!) and at Whedonesque, another blog dedicated to all things Joss Whedon. The above quote is from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer -- it appeared in the episode 'Smashed' from season six. I'm linking to their relevant post here, not just for some cross genre website link love, but also because an interesting discussion is happening regarding Whedon's influence on the new series opening with some great quotes from Russell, Paul Cornell and Tony Head (it's something I certainly mentioned in my review of Rose all those months ago). See also the grin inducing moments when people who remember the PBS broadcasts here for the first time that a new series has actually been produced. How exciting!

raw admiration

The Internets "Tell me you don't think she looks like Julie Christie, Sharon," he said, raw admiration softening his features. We were peering at his computer screen, looking at the picture of his daughter he'd downloaded. I thought she looked gorgeous. I figured Julie Christie, whoever the heck she was, had to be a stunner too." -- Sharon Leach of The Jamaica Observer admits she doesn't know who Christie is for a column about web searches. The article's worth looking at this at least for the paragraph which begins: "Julie Christie is apparently some English hot-to-trot movie actress..."

I love The JO. Only they would open a article with "It started as a hobby for Michelle Smith. The erotic-shaped chocolates she made at home were mostly for friends, particularly for Valentine's Day gifts."

because of the cover

Music Every now and then I'll have an eccentric reason for buying an album, usually when I've never heard of the performer or even the kind of music they play. Usually it's because of the cover. Sometimes it's price. I bought Ludovico Einaudi's una mattina for both of those reasons. The random nature of the image reminds me of the kinds of haphazard shots which appear on flickr sometimes. The man doesn't tidy up after himself straight away. The ablum cost £2.99 in the HMV pre-Christmas sale.

The third secret reasons was the mini-explanation that Einaudi's included on the inlay which a snook a peak at in the shop. He says that its a collection of songs linked together by a story, that it speaks about him now and the things around him, and he lists the elements -- his children, his house, the weather, the music he likes, the books he reads and his memories. The man's a blogger -- but instead of a clacky keyboard and a dodgy server, it's him, his Yamaha (or whatever) and a recording contract.

The sound could have been bland, because there isn't any accompanyment, the piano sounds presenting the message. But it's an impressive place to be for an hour and actually the sort of music you would expect to be playing in the scene from the cover. I'd like to regale you with what I think are his classical influences but the girl I really like who works in Blackwells smiled at me today and all knowledge of high art has drifted to the stratosphere of my brain. Instead I'll say that if you like the menu music from the dvd of Steven Soderbergh's Solaris or Michael Nyman when he's scoring Sally Potter films you'll love this.

Incidentally here's a photo of Ludovico from another page of the inlay were he looks uncannily like Larry David...

everybody reads

Life I've just had an amazing conversation with my Dad. It was about blogging ...
Dad: There was a bloke on television earlier. He was supposed to be the top man in weblogs or blogs.
Me: Really?
Dad: Tom someday ... erm ...
Me: Tom Reynolds?
Dad: No. Tom ...
Me: Tom Coates?
Dad points at me and smiles.
Dad: And he was talking about someone whose blog he likes. Someone who's apparently very ... everybody reads.
Me: Jason Kottke?
Dad points at me again and smiles.
Dad: He said he thought he was a good one.
Me: Well everybody reads him. It's a habit. He's the guy who was able to give up his job and support himself by blogging fulltime.
Dad raises his eyebrows.

assume the Vikings

Commerce "They've identified a syndrome called 'shopper's rush', which is that thing that makes you run around stores buying hideous sparkly clutch purses you'll never use. Men get 'shopper's rush', too, but by and large women get it worse. Right now, a man could walk into any chaotic 'end of sales' store and assume the Vikings have dropped by for a spot of rape and pillaging. A woman could walk in and recognise the scene for what it is - a giant replica of her psyche. Not all of her psyche, of course, just the secret part that is always hungry, tired, unloved, hurting." -- Barbara Ellen.

finding life

Blog! "I don't know what it is that I want, but I want it. All around me are people who are taking risks with their lives, doing what they love, bettering themselves, finding life, and finding love. All the while, I feel like my feet are in a cement block and I'm sinking down into the depths of lake Winnebago." -- Hang in there Kiki. These things do get better.


Life Following Jason's example, here's my 2005 in cities:


That was actually busier than I thought ...

the usual rant

Film The Bourne Ultimatum has been announced, and this the only thing it has in common with the book is the title. Which means I'll probably be getting the usual rant from my father when it comes out. He's a Robert Ludlum fan you see. Me, I look at a paperback that's fifteen hundred pages long with very small writing printed on what looks like tissue paper and thank the lord that a great story can still be told in about two hours on a cinema screen. The imdb entry lacks a director though I was under the impression that Paul Greengrass was returning. I would assume this will tell the story of how Bourne claws his identity back. [via]

drawn briefly

Elsewhere One Eyed Kitten post at Metafilter. Can't think why they would have deleted that. All together now aaaarrrr .... also I was drawn briefly into this mad discussion at Sofa after someone posted that they think Bille Piper is a bad actress. I mean come on!

remind them that they're just a cog

Commuter Life The train was on time last night. As I barged onto the carriage and sat down I noticed this diary discarded on the table. It's brand new, so no important telephone numbers. Did the passenger forget to take it with them or leave it behind on purpose? Perhaps that mildly irritating logo on the cover had something to do with it -- its the sort of thing companies tell their employees when they want to remind them that they're just a cog in the machine. That said, this is obviously the diary for someone who has a life. On each of the pages, there is a quote. It's an ecclectic group of people, everyone from Aristotle to Kenny Rogers. Here is a list of five and underneath the people who said them. See if you can match them.

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work."

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try and please everyone."

"Experience is the name we give our mistakes."

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

"Happiness is good health and bad memory."


Ingrid Bergman

Tom Clancy

Bill Cosby

Oscar Wilde

As they used to say on the Big Breakfast, don't phone, its just for fun... (although you could leave your answers in the comments!)

what a hard time they gave you

Journalism "I find it hard to understand your decision to write for the Mail on Sunday given what a hard time they gave you and your friend Cherie." -- Emma Brockes gets the measure of Carole Caplin.

you've got a brief

TV "The fact of the matter is, you're going to write whatever you want to write, you've got a brief, I don't know what that brief is, I can't compete with that. But I can be myself." -- Carole Caplin gets the measure of Emma Brockes.

unsold space

Commerce "The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, allows Google to fill what's known as "remnant space" in the Sun-Times -- unsold space where the paper would normally run in-house ads. Google fills those spots with its own ads. The Google connection is hardly trumpeted: "Ads by Google" appears at the top of each box of ads in very small type." -- Jeremy Mullman of Chicago Business reports on a pilot scheme in which Google are selling what are basically text-ads in newspapers. [via]

the ship is nowhere to be seen

dvd UK cover for Joss Whedon's Serenity. That's fine -- apart from the fact that the ship is nowhere to be seen ... still it's better than this ... [via]

Somewhere along the line I forgot

Life In the country and western song that continues to tell the story of my life, I was checking the lottery numbers for last Wednesday and happened to click the option to look at the last six months. I found out that I'd scored three numbers and the bonus ball last September. Somewhere along the line I forgot to check the numbers for that week and I've since thrown away the ticket. That'll be £83 I was never meant to have...

Life on Mars

Elsewhere I've just posted a review of the BBC's new series Life on Mars at Behind The Sofa. I don't think its too off-topic...

What is it with people called Tyler and time travelling?

TV The much anticipated and hyped new series Life On Mars has just finished on BBC One, throwing up an hour of breathtaking 'time travel' drama which will do very nicely until the new series of Doctor Who begins in the spring. It's another triumph from BBC Wales, who, as I think The Guardian remarked have been doing very well from men in leather jackets. Co-creator and writer of the series Matthew Graham is currently beavering away at a script for the second new season of Doctor Who and suddenly I'm even more excited about what might be happening come spring (if that's at all possible).

This new 'cop show' tells the story of modern police man DCI Sam Tyler* who after an accident finds himself trapped in 1973 trying to deal with the displacement in time and old school police methods. As to why he is there is one of the mysteries which will unfold as the series progresses, but its fairly clear that far from having fallen through a time vortex, he's actually in a coma, his mind throwing up this fantasy landscape for him to negotiate and hopefully get better.Sam_tyler

Which somewhat demonstrates the real surprise -- the sophistication of the writing. Had this been a made a few years ago, it might really have been just a time travel adventure. But this looks at the psychology of how the character copes with his predicament. Shades of Abre los ojos (1997) and its remake Vanilla Sky (2001) as Sam second guesses this dreamworld he might be living in and what he might need to do to be released.

The performances are universally excellent, particularly, obviously from John Simm in a role which could have broken the series had it not been played with such dimension. He presents himself in a realistic fashion and so hightening the displacement further as everyone else in the cast are playing their characters just a touch larger than life. None of the characters acts entirely as they might in the real world, some dropping in signals and hints of how to cope and where it might lead. Rather like Pleasantville (1998), it's almost as though he's dropped into some seventies cop show like The Sweeney rather than a complete representation of real life.

All of that said, it still has much of the humour you might expect from a time travel adventure as Sam asks for a PC Terminal only for his colleague to wonder if he wants a bobby or speaking to an operator and asking for a Virgin mobile, only to be warned that she doesn't like that kind of sexy talk. His boss, Gene, is a real Jack Regan figure seeing no point in talk when a punch will do. The poigniancy that Quantum Leap used to do so well is present too as Sam's 70s female colleague Annie is subjected to all kinds of sexual taunts from the staff even as she's offering vital help in solving the case.

It's been a while (about six months) since I've watched the opening of a new BBC series and been this excited and amazed, but here I am really looking forward to next week. And just to drag myself back on topic for a second, did anyone spot any Who references? **

* Is his name really a Quantum Leap and a Who reference?
** Anyone else notice who was playing Sam's girlfriend Mira at the beginning? That would be Sea of Souls' Archie Panjabi, also seen recently in the film The Constant Gardener (2005). Will she be the Lisa Spooks Faulkner of the series dropping out super early for effect or will she cropping up now and then as Sam's trip continues?

To the old, old Ford with a ding

Film "I hired last summer someone simian, King
Kong of Indies islands, fifty-foot-fierce Gorilla, out of hiding
After falling, feigning final death but breathing yet, and biding
Time there, how he swore that he could sell any third-rate thing
In a car lot! To the old, old Ford with a ding,
As a snake oil sales spiel hooks a hill-hick, the ape was guiding
A mark by monstrous hand, the rube then riding
Afar in that car, to escape him, an appeasement on the wing!"
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins meets Kong. See also David Mamet's version of 2001 in the Holy Tango of Literature. [via]

beers were involved

TV Behind The Sofa's first podcast is up. Judging by the photo, beers were involved. Should be fun.

All I'll say is this

Life We took our Christmas tree down this weekend and undecked the halls. I know that I've been letting other people words speak for me a lot lately, but I think if you look at the content of the posts and read between the lines there's some truth there either as to how I'm feeling or what I wish was happening. All I'll say is this -- I'm feeling a bit isolated and lonely at the moment. What was it Ford Prefect said -- "What I need is a strong drink and a peer group!" The second bit.

I am eating an apple on the steps

Film "The students of Fordham are asked to refrain from walking front of the main entrance as we are filming in the entrance and lobby area and are instead instructed to view from the deck if they want to see what is going on. There is a deck/platform area where students are gathering to view the spectacle and to take pics of the celebrities on set. That particular night it was Hayden, Terrance Howard, and Lena Olen. Hayden and Terrance are enjoying a smoke in front of the building, other extras are hanging along the sides and I am eating an apple on the steps leading to the deck." -- an eyewitness gives their version events.

See also: 'Hayden Christensen Accused Of Yoko Ono-ing Star Wars'.

This is a thriller not about good versus evil

FIlm "One reason for the fascination of Woody Allen's Match Point is that each and every character is rotten. This is a thriller not about good versus evil, but about various species of evil engaged in a struggle for survival of the fittest -- or, as the movie makes clear, the luckiest. "I'd rather be lucky than good," Chris, the tennis pro from Ireland, tells us as the movie opens, and we see a tennis ball striking the net it is pure luck which side it falls on. Chris' own good fortune depends on just such a lucky toss of a coin." -- from Roger Ebert's top marks review. i knew I wasn't seening things. This is a great film.

it's an excellent and probably refreshing piece of work

Film "Woody's next film, Match Point has been made in London, with his next being set there as well. That should give him a shot in the arm creatively. But frankly on the basis of this I don't think he needs it." -- From my review of Melinda and Melinda

Back on the defensive again. Another year, another Woody Allen film. Well actually it was six months what with the log jam in the release schedule, but Match Point turns up in reasonable time, a prime candidate for the awards season with nominations all over the place. Despite all of that the critics have still not been too kind. Most of the reviews have charged him with trying and failing to imprint his Americanised or New Yorker writing and directing onto London. I've even see a whole piece of writing dedicated to picking holes in the dialogue and acting style. All of which suggests, again, that they're under the impression that Allen is just churning this stuff out without taking particular directorial decisions as to the mise-en-scene of the piece.

Admittedly as the film begins and for about the first ten or fifteen minutes things do seem a bit queer. The clipped accents; characters talking in full sentences; the sometimes odd pronounciations. But somewhere in there I realised that actually what was happening is that Allen was imprinting a pre-sixties filmmaking style into the contemporary setting. Compare the work which is going on here with David Lean's pictures (particular Brief Encounter) or Gaslight productions and it all makes perfect sense. It could be argued that this is because those of the British films the director has been exposed, so of course that's what he'll be doing. But I think he's just decided to go in that direction. I think he could have produced something more akin to the Working Title or much more contemporary, but because of the type of story he's trying to tell he's gone for something akin to the earlier days of British filmmaking. Watched under those conditions, it's an excellent and probably refreshing piece of work.

If there is anything wrong with the film, it's that it lacks a levity which might have helped conterpoint some of the archier moments. In other words, more humour. I'm not sure whether it was at script or editing stage, but it's almost as though the director has attacked the piece and edited out anything resembling a joke should it get in the way of the tragedy. It's almost as though he's decided to try the Melinda and Melinda experiment again and taken what should be a British sex comedy and sent it on a whole other darker tragectory. In many ways I'm also reminded of the Claude Lelouche film, La Cérémonie which frightened the life out me whilst I was at university.

I've a feeling that something of this was certainly lost in the editing stage, particular considering the number of British comic actors who appear, generally in very minor roles. Every few minutes someone like Doctor Who's Mark Gatiss appears for a few frames, smiles then totters off, happy in the knowledge that they can say they've worked with Woody Allen and played ping-pong with Scarlett Johansson. John Fortune is there too and even Paul Kaye puts in an appearance -- I wonder if Woody even knew he was Dennis Pennis in a former life, parodying his very demeanor. In fact, despite the stella work of Johansson, Jon Rhys-Meyers and Emily Mortimer that most of the audience will walk away remembering the police scenes at the end with Ewen Bremner and James Nesbitt, doing an amazing Jimmy Stewart impression. If this had been the 1940s, a new film series featuring their characters Banner and Dowd would already have been greenlit.

Match Point offers many such incidental pleasures, not least the fact that you're watching an obviously Woody Allen film set in London. All of the familiar camera techniques and wierd improv are present and correct. Only Woody would produce what's being distributed a major mainstream release and open it with his usual black on white titles and an opera recording which sounds like its been transfered from a old 78. As usual the film's in mono (so look forward to straining your ears if you're in a multiplex -- the only surround sound here is the ICON pictures logo at the start). There's an amazing pissed exposition scene from a Johansson which overshadows Ken Branagh in Peter's Friends for reality. The role in the hay in the rain scene. Penelope Wilton and Brian Cox are exactly the society parents you would expect. I think I'll let the film marinate in my memory for a few months so that I can enjoy the dvd release even more.

parked her vehicle in downtown Juneau

"(Emily) Bell parked her vehicle in downtown Juneau, near the governor's mansion, and noticed an exceptionally large black dog. It wasn't until she exited the car that she realized a black bear was only a few feet away. She said the bear was fortunately far more interested in a hillside of berry bushes growing behind an apartment building than it was in her. It was an important lesson. 'I keep a bear bell on my pack when I go hiking,' said Bell." -- Gary Henry reports on how a former Paris, Illinois resident is coping with a new life in Alaska.

a dozen black-clad men would march by in unison

Geography "The most eventful window was definitely the one in Harlem. I had a studio this past summer and fall on 5th Avenue between 124th and 125th Streets, right next to Marcus Garvey Park. Every Saturday a Djembe drum circle met in the park at noon and drummed until the sun went down, filling the air with their wonderful rhythms. Early on Sunday mornings a group of about a dozen black-clad men would march by in unison, chanting: "The power is the people! The power is the people! The power that the Lord gives to the people!" Or something along those lines -- I don't usually remember things I hear at 8 in the morning on Sundays, even if it's week after week for five months." -- Catherine Shu on the views from the windows of the various homes she's lived in. I look up I see sky. I look down I see Sefton Park and the River Mersey beyond, then beyond that the Welsh mountains. On a really clear day I can see the snow on top of Snowdon. Like I said in the photographic post below, I'm lucky. I do miss the buzz of the city though.


Film "But alas, seeing a bunch of spoiled white people drown their pathetic sorrows in the drug du jour no longer evokes any pity or understanding. Our only experienced emotion is boredom, followed closely by annoyance. This is made worse by having pasty, white-bread Gummersall, the nerdy blond kid from My So-Called Life, spout ghetto lines as if he's from the 'hood, frequently using the word "peep" as a verb meaning "to speak." Gummersall's "bust a cap" persona is as affected as any I've seen since Anthony Michael Hall played a football hero in Johnny Be Good." -- Christopher Null bites a chunk out of The Young Unknowns

That election was only eight months ago.

Politics "It's safe to say a huge portion of votes the Liberal Democrats acquired at the last General Election (including my own) were down solely to the actions and declarations of Charles Kennedy on everything from the opposing the Iraq war to civil liberties to scrapping student fees to free care for the elderly to abolishing the council tax. That election was only eight months ago. The person we all voted for has now been kicked out, not by us, but by the collective strutting of two dozen individuals. I'd quite like my vote back now, please." -- Alistair offers some thoughtful commentary.