those few seconds

News BBC News 24 were faced with a dilemma at about half seven this evening. Having spent the whole day talking to Terry Nutkins and various experts regarding the poor whale in the Thames as the poor mammal died, they found the themselves with anothe breaking story, regarding Mark Outon and his friend. In those few seconds, neither the presenters or the on-screen graphics seemed to know what to do. I'm surprised they didn't resort to a split screen with each presenter covering each story at the same time.

Watching the coverage of the whale story in and out for much of the day I was struck by the fact that not only had they not given the beast a name, but also actually how difficult it was to talk about. The news presenters were obviously in much the same situation as the viewer, trying to understand how such a thing which is so rare could happen now and the implications. There was some good, serious discussion with environmentalists regarding the global problem or whale hunting and how odd it was that so many people could be fighting to save this one example whilst others were being hunted elsewhere in the world. But that was generally drowned out by exchanges such as the one between Alan Knight, from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who was standing about five feet away from the whale talking to (the ironically surnamed if you're a Star Trek fan) Carrie Gracie:

Carrie: We've been talking to Terry Nutkins all afternoon.
Alan: Yes.
Carrie: And he said that you'd be rubbing lanoline on the underside of the whale to keep it moist.
Alan: Oh we don't use that anymore because it sticks to the mammal. We use KY jelly.

Speaking of Carrie, who had the ignominious task of also being on duty during 9/11 and the Tsunami, googling the spelling of her name, I've just found this excellent interview from 1998 from when she was China Correspondent which is accompanied by this amazing photo on her old profile. She looks almost like a different person. But I digress.

Really I don't know what happened to the Lib Dems. At the end of last year they were still riding high on the back of the election success, then in the space of a few weeks have lost a leader and home affairs spokesman. I'm always under the assumption that scandal is always bubbling under across Westminster and that the public only ever hears about it when someone has an axe to grind or wants some people in other places for their own means. This affair has apparently being going on for two years, and it's inconceivable that it was a complete secret. Why would it suddenly be made public now -- and by that I mean why would the tabloid in question suddenly have the story to print?

New Romantic

TV David Tennant will be playing Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Romantics, a new series beginning tonight on BBC Two at 8pm. Although in this painting Rousseau looks more like Paul Martin who presents the interestingly titled antiques game show Flog It ...

intimacy with

Film "All the time. I'm mostly appreciative of it, because the show clearly made a huge impression on people, and I think television creates an intimacy with the audience that you don't get with movies. But I've done so much work since then, and some of that work has meant just as much to me." -- Claire Danes in Time Out on whether people still approach her about My So-Called Life. It's funny I thought I'd actually missed the release of Shop Girl given the amount of forward publicity there was in the last month or so. Glad that I haven't.

time forming an opinion

Film When I was standing in the toilet just before A Cock and Bull Story I wondered if film reviewers are able to just sit down and watch a film or whether they spend some of the time forming an opinion and deciding what they're going to say or write. If their job, which must be a dream job, actually spoils their enjoyment of film. One of the reasons I haven't been posting as many reviews on the blog of late is because of just that very issue - I can feel myself wondering how I'm going to phrase what has become the traditional three paragraphs of opinion.

This film in particular is particularly vexing because its structure is that of a fictional account of the making of a film with actors playing themselves. I would not have known the book that it's based on, Tristram Shandy unless someone hurled it at my head as I left Blackwells so I couldn't write some kind of analysis of the work as an adaptation. So I thought about doing something postmodern and writing a review of writing a review of the film. It's something I've tried fairly successfully in the past with works which cover similar ground. I reviewed Rendezvous the film-within-a-film in Soderbergh's Full Frontal and wrote myself into the review of Adaptation in much the same way as Charlie Kaufmann did himself in that movie. Should I post a link to a bizarrely negative review instead? And then in deciding not to, have to provide a link to it anyway so that the reader knows what I'm talking about?

On reflection, I don't know that it isn't best just to say that I was pleasantly surprised. There hasn't been a Michael Winterbottom film that I haven't loved and this is no exception. For me the joy of the piece hinges on the small details rather than the larger than life performances of some of the cast. It's seeing the reaction of the costumer designer when faced with the cheap digs of the stars of the film and her small vistory at the end and the vast array of British talent making utterly believable their tiny parts. If there is a regret, it's that two films couldn't be produced, one of which is the actual Tristram Shandy film. It would have been intriguing to see what that would have looked like.

my vices

Elsewhere At AskMe: "Shakespearefilter. One of my vices is collecting productions of Shakespeare's plays (particular Hamlet). I recently stumbled across this theatre group who have put two shows up online for download and I was wondering if anyone knew of any others which are available anywhere online. I can't imagine that this is the only group doing this. Ideally I'm looking for those in the canon which are produced less often such as Cymbeline or Measure for Measure hopefully in mp3 format."

you're a long-time yo-yo collector

Passtimes "You have found the most comprehensive archive of yo-yo images, historical memorabilia, and information in the world. Whether you're a long-time yo-yo collector, or just looking for that long lost treasure from your childhood, this is the place. In our searchable database, you will find images and information on both vintage and modern yo-yos, clothing and patches, art, and articles about famous people in yo-yo history." -- The Museum of Yo-yo History. [via]

don't necessarily qualify

Film Long term readers will remember my general apathy towards The Baftas, The Oscars and most awards ceremonies of late. I've simply become tired with the process of seeing so few films receiving nominations in categories that they don't necessarily qualify for, but find themselves in because of block voting on the part of the people filling in the ballot. It hasn't been quite so bad this year but there are simply some films which haven't turned up and it's just shocking.

What happened to Broken Flowers?

Also, as usual, there's the prejudice against genre movies. With the exception of The Lord of the Rings, Bafta's been notorious in overlooking great performances in writing, directing and acting in this catagory. I'm bound to say it, but Summer Glau's work in Serenity was just extraordinary and although I'm not sure if she was even put forward it's a real shame she's not taken one of those five places. Similarly, why shouldn't Sin City have a cinematography nod? The problem is that these films are looked at sniffily -- for whatever reason they're not considered to be attracting a wide enough demographic to be considered worthy or to have been seen by the majority of Bafta voters.

Of course, certain people will be unsurprised to see that Match Point has received precisely no nominations despite some buzz not too long ago that it'd be a shoo in. I'm still trying to decide whether it was a work of genius, madness or hubris. I'm assuming that Bafta think that it's one of the latter...

having difficulties

About I'm having difficulties with my web connection - it's randomly dropping the connection -- sometimes after an hour, sometimes after just a few minutes. I don't know if its a virus or spyware or BT's server ... fingers crossed I'll be able to post this ...

bolted on

Film Louise has responded to my post about our Match Point conversation:
Oh, I didn't realise I was expected to reply and prolong the agony of this argument any longer! Incidentally, I know of three more people who went to see this and were stupified by its rubbish-ness.

It's not a question of logic, it's a question of ensuring the film has a supportive base before you can take these fantastical flights. The fact the script was so desperate and some of the acting so completely horrible that made the dream sequence look bolted on as a way to get to the end of the film/put it out of its misery more quickly. Which, for me, under the "vantage" point of my coat, was merciful to say the least. It is this, coupled with the other nonsense (a portrayl of the British upper class which was so laughable only an American could have come up with it, making the Met look as if they bin murder cases on a whim and can't be arsed to carry out post mortem examinations), adds up to the worst film I have ever sat through in a cinema.

I don't see it as a presentation of reality in a fantastic realm. How was it a fantastic realm? It wasn't fantastic it was a representation of reality with a fantastical sequence.

"It makes him a more impressive action character because the impossible is made possible through means we don't know." Really? Truly? I think this is just lazy. It assumes an ignorance (i.e. they won't notice this! It doesn't matter!) on behalf of the audience which is responsible for rendering a massive proportion of film, television, magazines and newspapers almost unwatchable/unreadable.

Woody Allen should just stick to his clarinet. His films won't make a single penny out of me again.

I think we'd best agree to disagree on Match Point. I think it's just going to be one of those films which will take a few years before anyone can make their mind up. I mean took at this review. I can't tell if they're being positive or not. What I meant about fantasy, is really that all of Woody's films are fantasy -- not set in the real world. It's not really London. It's a fantastical version of it -- no more realistic than something that might turn up in The Arabian Nights or whatever. So he's allowed in my view to reformalise human interaction and how the cops deal with murder cases. In relation to the "the impossible is made possible through means we don't know" -- perhaps I should have mentioned Superman. Do we really know how he flies?

was sworn

Politics "Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia on Monday, making her the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa. The presidential term is six years, during which time Johnson-Sirleaf will have to address the manifold difficulties that remain after the disastrous presidency of Charles Taylor, who is in exile, and the preceding political chaos." -- Feminist Daily News Wire.

connect us

Travel "Phone calls on the metro connect us to the real world. The world that we know. Underground is not real. It's a passage between worlds. You don't have to impress, because the people you meet there are illusions." -- The Paris Metro characterised beautifully.

the answers

Commuter Life And now, as, not so much promised, as expected, here are the answers to that quote conundrum I posted last week.

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

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

"Experience is the name we give our mistakes." - Oscar Wilde

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

"Happiness is good health and bad memory." -Ingrid Bergman

Did you get any of them right? Yes, see, you knew ....

decisions we make

Blog! "You can't go back to the past and change things. The decisions we make in the present are the ones that have ripples. The past is the past - we've already lost the moment." -- True.

gets her

Film What? I mean is that reaction surprise or !?! A Golden Globes interviewer tries his somewhat suspect technique out on Scarlett Johansson. You'll not believe this.

especially here

TV "Teachers notice when students don?t show up for class. In one student?s (Allie?s) case, her absences are notable enough to warrant a parent-teacher conference, which several teachers and her mother attend. HPHS is a far cry from high schools I?ve seen -- especially here in New Orleans, where I?m writing this -- not only because of its physical condition, but also because of its fairly homogenous student body." -- Alana Kumbier writes of American High which she sees as being a contemporary My So-Called Life

state media have complained

Journalism 'In a speech Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to continue nuclear research. State media have complained since the speech that CNN used the translation "nuclear weapons" instead of "nuclear technology." The ban by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry was read in a statement on state-run television.' -- Regret The Error reports.

Doctor Who Lookalikes #1

Thomas Jefferson @ Mount Rushmore and The Eighth Doctor

again earlier

TV I was watching Balderdash and Piffle again earlier. I love the way Victoria Coren walks. She sort of flounces with purpose.

ranked fifth

Review 2005 Amazing. Our little year end review is now ranked fifth at Google above CNN, The Telegraph and everybody. We're eighth if you splap some speech marks about the search term.

embark on an epic

Film "Determined to save the world, a fellowship of four unlikely heroes band together to foil Zeebad?s villainous plot. Led by the candy-loving mutt Doogal (Kenan Thompson), friends Dylan (Jimmy Fallon), Brian (William H. Macy), and Ermintrude (Whoopi Goldberg) embark on an epic adventure to save the world. To find the diamonds before Zeebad, they must climb icy mountains, navigate fiery pits of molten lava, sail across vast oceans, and pass through a booby-trapped temple guarded by an army of ninja skeleton warriors." -- How to resell The Magic Roundabout in the US -- call it the wrongly spelt Doogal and get Whoopi Goldberg to voice Ermintrude. Tom Baker's been replaced as Zebabad by Jon Stewart. Any chance we could see Tom introduce The Daily Show in return? News Askew report that Kevin Smith has also leant his voice ...

kind of evening

TV I wish I'd seen The Golden Globes. This one category demonstrates the kind of evening it was ...

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives)
Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives)
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives)
Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) - WINNER

Ouch. But yeah!

Tesco and Radio City Tower


Tesco and Radio City Tower
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

Artsy test shot.

someone who has sat through Spawn

Film My old friend Louise read my recent Match Point review and let me know what she thought via email. Spoilers ahead ...
Tell me you were kidding with your review about Match Point??? I saw it on Saturday at FACT and was in an almost full cinema the majority of whom were opening laughing at it because it was THAT BAD. I do not exaggerate when I say it is the single worst film I have ever paid to see and I speak as someone who has sat through Spawn. My feet still hurt from the toes curling round to meet the soles of my feet.

Not only does Woody Allen clearly understand nothing about the English upper classes (the upper classes of Brian Cox's age don't own business especially tagged 'inc'. The four-eyed pensioner needs to read some Nancy Mitford) but he seems to have a fairly low opinion of the Met's CID. Do you really think that is they way crimes are solved in Britain. "Oh, I forgot to tell you, there was another drugs-related murder last night." "That means he didn't do it! I was sure my dream was right too! After all, that's the way I usually solve savage murders." "Never mind eh?! Let's go for breakfast!" Roll credits.

There would have been a post mortem examination. They would have found that Nola was knocked up. They would have DNA-tested the foetus.

Don't even get me started on the dialogue and acting.

Woody Allen should do the decent thing and stop churning this tripe out year in, year out. And as for mentioning Brief Encounter in the same review?! You can't compare them. In any way. It makes me very angry, as you can see, that there is still this belief all his films should be treated with the same reverence as sodding Annie Hall or Manhattan. They shouldn't.

And The Times called it a tense Hitchcock-style thriller. Ha ha ha!

Sorrry about this, but it needed to be said

She was nice enough to let me post her emails. I replied with...

Oh you've made my day.

But -- erm -- Woody doesn't make realistic films. Never has. This is a *fantasy* surely? I mean it's a film. He's stretching reality -- to breaking point admittedly. I mean why else would the two people he's murdered show up at the end for a chat about the crime.

Either that or I was in an *extremely* forgiving mood...

It's probably the latter.

To which she replied ...
I take your point, but even if you are embroidering something with fantasy you need to have a solid base on which to build and Match Point doesn't have that at all. It simply isn't good enough to fold like a house of cards at the end because Mr Allen has filled his requisite 90/100 minutes. I don't think he does stretch reality. The plot isn't that inplausible. I'm sure we'd be shocked to find out the number of people who have shot a pregnant lover to save their own skin and shot someone else to make it look like the lover was a unlucky bystander. You should see some of the court copy we get here, truth really is stranger than fiction.

It's like in The Bourne Identity where it is made very clear he has no papers at all but travels quite happily into Switzerland on a train. Stupid. I know he is a spy and no doubt had some clever way of getting around it, so let's see it, rather than sitting there saying "That's shit! I've travelled into Switzerland and know they stop the train for an hour, lock the outside doors, make sure no-one is in the toilets and check everyone's passport."

I think there is a fine line between fantasy and careless nonsense. You need to get the logical, basic facts of a story right in order to show you respect the common sense and knowledge of your audience before you can take them beyond the relams of reality and what would happen in "real life", whatever that may be...

To which I said ...
Oh sure -- but its the presentation of reality within a fantastic realm. I'm looking at it from the POV that he's made an evil version of a Richard Curtis romcom. One of the flaws is that its basically a rerun of Crimes and Midemeanors and in that film he used a sequence in which Landau visited his past to rationalise what he's doing -- the figments fulfill the same function here.

I suppose I don't need to have a logic in film so long as a good story is being told -- I don't need to know how Jason Bourne gets there -- I just assume he does through wits and stealth -- it makes him a more impressive action character because the impossible is made possible through means we don't know.

She hasn't got back yet. I'll let you know what happens.

massage my .... ego ....

About I hate writing posts like this because they feel like non-content content but I usually write something about this every six months and now seems like a good time. Looking at sitemetre the blog is still getting hammered with clickthroughs from a google search from people looking for Jessica Simpson. The site got 500 hits so far today. The trouble is I'm not seeing any other visitors. So either no one is reading (in which case.... well you know) or they are and there's been a malfunction somewhere. Another blog recently ran a de-lurking day in which lots of people who read the blog simply posted something in the comments to the effect. Basically it would be really nice if you could do that for me, so that I know who my readership is. Perhaps you could also let me know what you like/dislike about the blog. Really massage my .... ego ....

Legacy of the Daleks.

Books  John Peel's Legacy of the Daleks is something of a guilty pleasure. Like listening to Heat Radio, you know that it' s inherently crap, that you really shouldn't but something good happens and you put your fears aside and you know you can survive (that's right -- I am listening to Heat as I write this and Mariah Carey has just been on -- there's a hero if you look inside your heart you know). Just to be spoilery, and friends it's going to be one of those reviews, there's really no need for the appearance of Susan on a post Dalek Invasion of Earth Earth or a rationalisation for how the Delgado Master went all mushy in time for The Deadly Assassin. But having sat through the final few episodes of the fourth season of 24 recently I've suddenly a real taste for gratuitous last minute cameos by popular characters. Now that I've established that this is going to shockingly a sort of alright review (I know -- I can't believe it either) perhaps I should begin with what doesn't work.

Sam's missing. We understand. But is there a reason why she don't get so much as a cameo in this book? If this had been a television story and the actress had gone off to have a baby/drug treatment/holiday in Cromer it would have made perfect sense. Even when Gillian Anderson's pregancy became an issue in The X-Files and Agent Scully was abducted, the writers kept cutting back to her to increase the tension. I think that knowing that the character wasn't too popular amongst fans the series editor and Peel decided to show us what it would be like not have her around. A sort of experiment in absense making the heart grow stronger. But I really like Sam. There are mysteries surrounding her which I'm excited for them to reveal and for her not so much as looking soulfully out of an airlock is a real shame.

The Doctor. Something I'm slowly realising about Eighth is that in these early days with only the tv movie and McGann's previous roles to work from the portrayal inevitably changes from book to book. Much of the time you can imagine a person being at the centre of the story and then something like this novel pops in and spoils things for two hundred and fifty odd pages. He sounds about right here in his vernacular but his behaviour is just eccentric. The TARDIS lands on Earth for the umpteenth time because y'know Sam might be there (although surely the last place he saw her might have been the best idea but as I said, Sam's missing; we understand. Maybe next book he'll get a clue). He opens the TARDIS doors and walks face to face into an armoured knight. The usual behaviour would be to step cautiously. Instead he invites her in for dinner and gives her a bed for the night before walking into London with her and blabbing on like a demented Tom Baker about being a timelord ... blah blah blah ... I've fought the Ice Warriors y'know. It's perfectly natural that the knight might think he has another agenda.

The thing that I really loved about the book though is that it felt so old fashioned. Unlike War of the Daleks, which read like someone trying to drunkenly rewrite a Nick Briggs audio play, this is Target novelisation of the Troughton era territory, with a big denoument in which the Daleks buy-it in a big explosion. The plotting is refreshingly straightforward. The reader is aware of where the players in the story are at all times and can almost see the ragged intercutting between the studio scenes and those shot on 16mm in Lime Grove or Ealing or whereever. The sense of place is extremely good, extrapolating the world of the television story forward in a realistic way -- the prejudice against women who can't conceive in a world were repopulating the species is of paramount importance for example. I've always loved that the series both whilst it was in production and since has seen the Dalek invasion as a historical event with lasting consequences, not something easily forgotten. It gives the show a legacy.

It's also nice that for once the characterisation is so clearly defined. Once of the issues with previous books is the over proliferation of people with unpronouncable names and bland personalities. Here, the reader is absolutely clear who everyone is and what they need/require/want from their fictional lives. The proxy companion for this adventure is the aformentioned knight, Donna, a victim of prejudice who defends her country. As I've hinted, her and The Doctor have a good rapport even if he's a bit forgiving of her methods now and then. Barlow, or the man who would be Tarrant, is a neat surprise -- the expression of how someone who might seem dark is actually doing things for what they think and could be perfectly good reasons. Haldoran, the villian is a bit panto, but in a good way. He's a very charismatic bastard -- the kind of man you always saw the girl you really fancied going for at univeristy. Although oddly, I think him and Professor Zaroff from The Underwater Menace would get on like a house on fire and no doubt think of another way to destroy Atlantis. The extrapolation of the older David is about right -- he's not too brave, a bit desperate -- he just wants to see his wife again.

Speaking of which. Susan Foreman. I've seen reviews of the book hither and thither which take real issue with the portrayal of The Doctor's first companion but I'm pretty happy. As is suggested in a nice moment when The Doctor compares her exile on Earth with his own, she's bound to change and grow and simple become a different person. Even timelords mature, presumably when they're not with their own kind. Nice rationalisation of why she seems older in The Five Doctors too. Dropping the Delgado Master into the mix is refreshing if a bit of a continuity puzzler. He's just right too -- just the right side of pompous. The method of hiding his identity is perfect. Especially if you consider a certain mid-Eighties film with William Shatner. Nice one Bill. My only issue is that The Doctor doesn't spend nearly enough time with either of them, Susan in particular. It's only been thirty years for her, but over five hundred odd for him -- presumably they'd have bags to talk about. But then we might not have had the gloriously Return of the Jedi moment at the end when ... well you'll have to read it. Suffice to say Peel's sewing up continuity again -- but in a good logical way.*

So yes, a pleasant surprise. Dreamstone Memorial next which has a very intriguing cover. I really hope The Doctor and Sam at least bump into each other. Because the timelord could really do with a reminder of why she's so important to him.

*Could someone who's also read the book remind me exactly what happens when he sees Fourth in The Deadly Assassin? Does it make sense?

track down a party

Film "My mind began reeling with ideas. "I can still make it out," I thought to myself. "Interact. Yes, go out: that's what I want to do. It's early, there is a plenty of time to track down a party." I began to scroll through my cell phone at record speed. Five minutes later my fleeting hope had vanished as my options presented themselves: 1) Meet a friend at a Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore; 2) Hop a train to NY; 3) Fly to Miami; 4) Go to a Couples party in Norfolk or 5) Go to my local haunt in Georgetown all by my lonesome. Option Five lingered for a moment before I dismissed it. I'm too afraid of Georgetown University undergrads to venture out on such a crowded night. They would be out in droves. And so I pushed forward." -- Dave Brecheisen. I spent new year watching Kissing Jessica Stein which I love, but any of the five things he lists would have been fine by me too.

End of an Era


Originally uploaded by new folder.

Historic moment as famous Liverpool store Littlewoods is gutted in preparation for becoming a Primark. I passed by yesterday and it was wierdly empty -- nothing in there at all.

themes to play with

Music "Not enough is written about the sensual pleasure of being bathed in noise. There's probably a good reason for this. Pretension is a constant danger. It's hard enough to articulate what rock music actually sounds and feels like when there are lyrics to analyse and themes to play with. When - as in the case of Mogwai, a largely instrumental Glaswegian five-piece - there are few words, just sinuous guitar lines erupting into ear-splitting volume, the risk of ending up in Pseud's Corner, waffling on about cathedrals of sound, is high." -- Kitty Empire (whose name I'm never tired of hearing)

Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman

Names "Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman, who prosecuted the case in 2004, said Muoio declined to press charges against Shaw, and an agreement was reached allowing Shaw to plead guilty to the two misdemeanor charges." -- for some reason, seeing that name in odd contexts is still funny. I think. Hold on. That gives me an idea.