Art I unexpectedly received one of these in this morning's post as well, which is really exciting. Just trying to decide where I'll go first although inevitably it'll probably be the Tate even though with the Paradise Project and the bus situation it'll be a phlongo to get to.

What All of them?

Music Never says never never. The second least likely pop comeback is actually happening. I love that All Saint's official site implies they were all just taking a break from the band and hadn't actually split up forever. Worth visiting for the video message which has a mad brilliance to it. [via]

This Lad's Mags

Meme I spotted a meme somewhere and it seems like a good way to fill some of this endless reams of blank space. Here is a list of the magazines I read:
The Guardian Guide

Which I think counts despite being 'free' and 'diminutive'. Mostly for Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn and Jonathan Bernstein's ariel view of America both of which are pleasingly mean spirited when Michael Holden or Katie Putrick aren't filling in for them. Joe Queenan's writing is also excellent.

Radio Times

Despite having listings magazines everywhere, this has become a Tuesday habit, largely, again, because of the writing -- Andrew Collins, Phil Jupitus, Stuart Machonie, Alison Graham. Since Collins took over the film section it's become almost as indispensible and right headed as the Time Out Film Guide and there's a pleasant sense of irony throughout the magazine, even if the actual cast listings have a habit of dropping spoilers all over the place or feature a synopsis of some programmes so detailed, it's almost not worth watching.

Empire Magazine

Although the news section always seems to be playing catch up nowadays -- especially if you're subscribed the RSS feed on their website -- Empire has recently turned a corner and has returned to being the magazine for film fans -- the recent succession of in-depth interviews with directors and stars being particularly good. Strangely less likely to agree with their star ratings of late -- unusually harsh on some films or charitable with others -- although some of the writing, again has been very good indeed, their Superman Returns review in particular was worthy of praise.


Of the genre mags (see also Dreamwatch, Starburst and TV Zone) feels the most authoritative, and is also the least po-faced, willing to alienate large sections of its readership if it really doesn't like something. Calls a spade a spade, but praises when its due. Never has a good word to say about Charmed. News section always somehow manages to include material that hasn't already cropped up online and I almost always agree with everything in their kingly review section that covers everything from film to dvd releases to books to comic books to audio plays to anime to toys. Great columns too from Dave Langford and Jayne Nelson.

Doctor Who Magazine

No real surprise I suspect. It's the organ, but unlike some official magazines willing to criticise the mothership and its spin-offs although I do with they'd have someone other than Matt Michael reviewing the Big Finish audios. He seems to have a deep set palpable dislike for them and I don't think he's ever given one a positive review, even the now classic McGann second season. If you ever wonder why most Doctor Who 'news' or 'gossip' stories turn up in the tabs and online at the same time each month, it's because they've been culled/stolen from here, often Russell T Davies' Production Notes column in which he writes about making the show or one of his regular interviews -- although often they're taken wildly out of context.

Doctor Who Adventures

Gosh this is a cruel meme. But it's 11:10pm and I'm in a reflective mood. Although I'm about twenty years over the target range, and even though it has a messy layout, dayglo design and is editorially less well structed than Doctor Who Weekly way back when, the free gifts are often fun and functional and the comic strips are excellent and totally mad. A rough synopsis of this last story had The Doctor and Rose turn up for the first live theatre performance of Dracula meeting Bram Stoker and his wife who turned out herself to be a vampire. Then the real Count Dracula drops in from Transilvania but it turns out that she's actually been turned by -- get this -- the vampirically infected Oscar Wilde -- who is locked up in jail after a 'scandal'. The Doctor breaks into the prison and frees Wilde and they then jointly get to the bottom of the 'issue' (alien Vampires) which involves the timelord drinking all of the infectious syrum, using his biological make-up to transform it into an antidote then burping it into the air to cure everyone everywhere of the afflication. Absolutely bonkers.

Sight & Sound

This list is longer than I thought it would be. S&S covers everything Empire only skirts past and is my source for indie and international films. Has the brilliant habit of treating every film release with the same authority, memorably once giving the Pokemon film a positive review. Almost always has a feature on some film I've never heard of that will have me clammering to see by the end even to the point of contemplating a trip to London to the only cinema in the country that's probably showing it (the LoveFilm queue being the next option). One of the three reasons I wanted to go back to university and study film.
Nothing too surprising there I hope. I stopped reading computer magazines when they became too expensive which was also wierdly roughly the same time that Yahoo! Internet Life closed. Frankly there's a real gap in the market for a great magazine about Shakespeare in a similar style to DWM -- with director interviews, archives about theatre, film & tv productions and a massive review section -- authoritative but accessible. You'd be surprised how many people call themselves fans of Shakespeare as though it's a tv or film franchise).

Most of anything else I find online somewhere.

Because tagging is the way of these things, I'm passing this on to...


... and anyone else who knows me ...

Man Not Blog

Commuter Life One side effect of leaving university is a discussion on whether I can still claim to be in the Manchester Blogging Club. I won't be spending most of my time there any more with just the odd trip now and then for The Cornerhouse or the galleries or shopping or whatever. Shame.

Perhaps there are honorary positions ...


Life Two days into the rest of my life and I'm beginning to understand actually what I've managed to do. Irrespective of whether I graduate, I managed to apply to one university, Manchester University, to do a post-graduate degree, in film, managed to get through twelve months of it, get all my essays in on time and understand some of it, and be sitting here the other side. Despite some of the disappointments, that's a huge achievement.

For me.

Who only just managed to get enough A-Levels to go to university last time (Art & Design and General Studies), who's never been that academic (failed English Lit), and whose mother was told one parent's evening that he would never amount to much. Ever.* You know when this hit me? I was flicking through the Media Employment section of The Guardian and saw a job which I was only half qualified for and the half was something like 'Must have a post-graduate degree in Film or related' -- and I thought -- I almost have one of those.

That's when this became real to me. What have I done?

* which really makes me sound like I was an oik at school when I was one of the kids who worked really hard but ended up with low marks anyway. I always thought what he said was a bit unfair ...

Resigned to it.

Politics When blogging ministers resign -- Tom Watson posts his notice letter and the reply from the prime minister. Brilliantly, the post is entitled: 'Minister leaves government to spend more time with his blog' which is almost exactly what I said last time I resigned from a job ...

Let's Play

Liverpool Life I last played chess with real pieces when I was at school. For some time I was part of the school Chess Club and actually thought I was quite good. I'd been interested in the game since I was a youngster watching Play Chess on weekday mornings during school holidays (those were the days) and playing many games with my father. But somewhere along the line I lost the knack, my interest waned and I started watching films, something which until lately was a non-interactive hobby. It wasn't until later, just before I went to university first time around that I had another flourish of interest when Channel Four broadcast coverage of Garry Kasparov vs Nigel Short in 1993. Other than the Deep Blue documentary I haven't watched a chess match since then.

It was quite a nostaligia trip then, sitting in the Horseshoe Gallery at World Museum Liverpool watching Short take on Karttunen at the European Union Individual Championships. The two players sat heads bowed, hands on ears, deep in concentration. I sat not too far away, behind a barrier, and it must have been quite disconcerting to have my beady eyes fixed on their faces and hands. Every now and then Short would glare up nervously at the spectators also standing nearby trying to take in the game and who had the upper hand. As I looked at the board I realised I didn't have a clue. I think someone had castled and a queen was vulnerable, but other than that, crushingly, I didn't have an idea. I just kept watching Short trying to work out what he was thinking, surprised about how young he looks even now.

The only noise in the room was from the footsteps of people on the floorboards. As I strolled out I noticed the variety of players from young teens to twentysomethings although admittedly mostly male. Names from throughout Europe with faces that looked strangely familiar. Some game boards were wooden and carved, some plastic and rubber. I wondered if that was a status symbol or some way of distinguishing the Grand Masters from everyone else which I decided wasn't very fair. I stopped now and then and tried to decipher the state of play but again saw a mess of moves and positions, mostly indistingushable. It reminded me that although some hobbies are passing phases others catch fire. I wondered what might have happened if I hadn't become disinterested with chess ...


Life I handed my dissertation in today.

It was one of most exciting of anti-climaxes. Although I'd been advised by the people who do the binding that the two copies wouldn't be ready until two o'clock today, I went early, this morning, on the off chance, and there they were. Lovely black hard cover with my name on the side in gold lettering. I was proud. The person at the desk suggested I check through it to make sure everything was all ok.

Flicking through I noticed a footnote I didn't remember writing. And a reference. And a conclusion I hadn't seen before. Then a print-out covering sheet. What had evidently happened was that when I'd printed it out on Friday someone had sent something else to the printer and rather than the usual pause in between, the job had appeared all together, I'd picked it up, checked it without seeing anything wrong and simply taken it down for binding. Surprisingly I didn't swear because I knew that something would go wrong. Self fulfilling prophecy. That was why I'd been sorting it out a week early.

I asked person on the binding counter if anything could be done. She disappeared into the bowels of the library and spoke to the people who actually do the binding and the word that came back was that if they cut the pages out that it would look odd and the examiner might not like it so I would have to pay for it to be rebound. I asked if they were willing to do it anyway. She said not. But that I could and speak directly to the binders. At the back of the building.

I walked around the outside of the library to a backdoor I previously hadn't known anything about. I rang the bell. An older man appeared and I explained the issue to him. He smiled and told be to wait. Someone else arrived and I told him. He smiled and said no. I pressed him further. He said yes. The pages were cut out nice and neatly and it really just liked something that had happened during the binding process. Sigh. I was seeing my tutor one final time anyway so I too the dissertation to him and he just smiled and said it would be fine and he wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't mentioned it. Sigh again.

So off it went. The final act of the academic year and it was as anti-climactic as I was expecting. I'm not saying there should be music and bunting it just seemed so ...

By a strange twist I managed to bump into some of the people I'd met that first day as they too were in various stages of handing in or applying for jobs. That seemed right somehow, almost like I'd book ended the year. I reflected on all the things I haven't done this year but also all the great things that I had.

As I turned to walk up Oxford Road towards the station one final time as an official Manchester University student I remembered my first day, clutching a map and nearly tripping over. I kept turning around and looking at the buildings for the last time that they would be somewhere I would be and just kept sighing. I didn't want to leave even though my connection to them had been far more tangential than I might have wanted.

But I felt a flatness as though it wasn't really over because in some ways it hadn't really begun. My one regret was never going swimming the university pool. I'd wanted to. Forgotten I'd wanted to, then reminded myself as I passed by today smelling the chlorine. Funny.

Plumb choice

Music I'm just using Pandora for the first time and it really is uncanny -- enter Alanis Morissette as a variable and I'm yet to hit a track I don't like and discovered Plumb. It's not foolproof though -- I asked for Jewel, it suggested Hilary Duff. Excellent. Anyway for my benefit, here's a list of groups and singers I want to look at again some time ...

Jem (KCRW Sounds Ecclectic 3)
The Bittersweets
Ani DeFranco (The First Album)
Sarah Glynn
Molly Johnson (Another Day)
Donna Lewis
Mirah (La Familia)
Sarah Deleo (The Nearness of You)
The Impossible Shapes
Marilyn Scott (Night Cap)
Susannah McCorkle (Easy To Love: The Songs Of Cole Porter)

Duh duh dum dee duh dum dee duh duh

Music Mozart's famous symphonic theme in G minor played on bottles with rollerblade extensions ... [via]

To 64c or not to 64c

Games Commodore 64 games. Waves and indeed sine waves of nostalia ... [via]

Ask The Family

TV The casting for Martha Jones's family has been anounced and she's going to have a big family. Which is bit of a change from the one parent model at the beginning of last year -- so at least we know they're not simply going to try and reproduce the previous dynamic.

Trevor Laird (who previously essayed the role of Frax in the fifth episode of Trial of a Timelord) will play her father Clive; Adjoa Andoh (who was Sister Jatt in New Earth) is her mother Francine; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as sister Tish and Reggie Yates (Jenks in Agent 'Z' and the Penguin from Mars amongst other things) as her brother Leo.

Wha ... what ... what time is it?


6:45 am. Clang. Clang clang.

[I open my eyes.]

7.00 am. Peep peep peep peep.

[I'm out of bed making a cup of tea. Checking my email. Watching the box lifting thing in the road lifting boxes.]

7.55 am. "One. One. One - two. One two. Welcome to Sefton Park. One two."

[Everyone else is awake.]

10.00 am. "Welcome to the Hydroactive Women's Race. I bet local residents thought they were going to get to sleep in this morning ... heh ...."