Commerce I've finally received confirmation of something I've suspected for some time. That on their menu, Starbucks don't advertise all of the sizes that they sell. It might appear that the smallest size above espresso is 'Tall', but actually you can order a 'Short' which comes in a mug that is indeed smaller than a 'Tall' and as you would expect cheaper. So those of who can't get through the 'Tall' now have somewhere to go that doesn't include wasting a bunch of coffee. As you might expect I was a bit surprised when I found out, but it really shouldn't have been to the extent that I forgot what I was doing:
"Do you have a size smaller then tall?"
"Oh. Well, I'll have one of those."
"What would you like?"
"What. Oh erm. A coffee?"
"Right. And which one."
"Oh erm. Filter coffee."
"And how would you like it?"
"Oh. Black -- with milk."
She glares at me. Somehow my conscious brain and everything else snapped back together."
"Sorry -- black. I'm having a really wierd day today."
She has a look in her eye that says -- "Right... you too ..."

I'll give you the man ...

Here is a Polaroid of me from the 6th October 1985. I'm using my first computer -- an Acorn Electron, and that's the tape deck that would take ten minutes to load in software. I can't remember which game I was playing but I certainly found it captivating didn't I? Not sure what was going on with the tracksuit. I was ten years old and owned a Raleigh Grifter.

Links for 2007-01-26 [] - Rmail

  • The Vegetarian Society UK: A Veggie Haggis for a Burns' Night Feast!
    For Kat -- I'd love to know how close this tastes to the real thing.
  • Chocolate and Vodka :: Engagement 2.0*
    Suw and Kevin are engaged. Wow. With a capital double-you.
  • On notice.

    Commerce Some things I've noticed this past couple of days ...

    Whilst clearly any discount is a good thing, implying that Thailand is part of China is not. Thai New Year isn't until April. Also ...

    The conceptual similarity between the dvd box covers for Waking Life and Brick.

    Go Meep Yourself

    Web Just to report that Behind The Sofa totally failed to be nominated in the Bloggies 2007 which is, of course, in its own way as much of an oversight as leaving Mark Ayres's 5.1 mix of the Doctor Who theme off the new New Beginnings boxset. Never mind.


    TV Well, this is something I never thought we'd see again -- a past Doctor on the cover of our party newsletter, and best of all with an old style Dalek. Is that a look of surprise on Tom's face at having been grabbed from the past? Or has he just retrospectively realised what he'll be saying to a dvd interviewer about twenty years in the future? Gosh, isn't that a great documentary on the Logopolis dvd? I don't think I've seen Peter being quite so frank either.

    It's only right that Baker's visage should appear here for a change -- this article about Doctor Who Meets Scratchman is a major scoop and of real interest to old timers some of whom actually remember when it seemed like a go project. It'll be interesting to see how much is done to explain its importance to newbies and the 'older readers' that Doctor Who Adventures refers to every fortnight.

    Elsewhere, there's an interview with my secret crush, script editor Helen Raynor about writing her new two part story, 'Daleks Take Manhatten' ... sorry ... 'Daleks In Manhatten', excerpts from which are featured on the BBC website. Her reaction is totally understandable ...

    Links for 2007-01-25 [] - Rmail

  • filmlog: Brigadoon (1954)
    Enchanting fantasy with excellent songs and dancing. Great moment when the magic of the village is suddenly cut into by the noise of the city, and the shot selection goes from long or mid-shots to close ups emphasising the claustrophobia.
  • "Wee sleekit cow'rin tim'rous beastie"

    That Day I don't know if you can wish someone without my surname a Happy Burns Night, but I just have. We ate the haggis, the tatties and neaps and watched Brigadoon ("What a day it has been, what a rare mood I'm in, it's almost like bein' in love...") I'm looking over that review of the music tour and it does seem very harsh. Perhaps if it hadn't been quite sa coold today I might have been better disposed to enjoy it more.

    The Might Huh?

    Liverpool Life My feet hurt. I spent the afternoon in the company of Pete Wylie as he gave me this tour of Liverpool's musical heritage courtesy of a Liverpool 08 mp3 download. It's an excellent idea - I've seen similar city guides for other places and it's great that the experiment is being tried in Liverpool. The tour begins at the Liverpool 08 shop in Whitechapel and takes in Matthew Street, the Lime Street area and Hope to Seel Street. I missed the 60s and The Beatles and was too young for the 80s rebirth so I was hoping to get a flavor of what the music scene must have been like in those eras.

    The tour began well with the Eleanor Rigby statue, The Iron Door on Temple Street, The Estate and then Mathew Street and the Cavern, with the Wall of Fame and the Dooley Statue, something I'd never noticed before. Pete has a genial, but authoritative voice and you can really hear that he spent much of his life in these venues and that this is as much an autobiography of his life as a history of Liverpool music. The two subjects are intertwined. It's a shame that in the end, the whole experience was a bit disappointing.

    The 08 website had suggested that the tour would take 'around an hour to complete' but looking at the accompanying map, I had a feeling that it would have to be a Martian hour, simply because of the geography being covered. I'm not an athlete, I would say I'm in reasonable health, but the adventure in the end took me two to three hours, leaving out the moment in the middle when I rang home to give a progress report but leaving in the fact that I actually skipped a couple of places for reasons that will become clear.

    It seems that in the rush to include as many venues in as little time as possible, little thought seems to have been put into how much information should be presented when the listener reaches a venue. Having not lived through any of this, it was interesting to suddenly find out that a door I'd been passing all my life had a historical importance to many people. Too often though, at some venues like the Zanzibar, the description consisted of a list of the bands that had played there. That might be of interest to the hardcore music fan and I understand that this is only supposed to be an introduction but what I wanted to know was why they played there - what was it about the place that led them to the door and what significance did it have to their careers? I wanted more anecdotes about important moments or nights - like the one that Pete mentions for Erics. More ambience, less statistics.

    What this also means is that this walker wasn't rewarded when they'd reached the point of interest. In places such as Mathew Street where the sights are close together, this isn't as much of a problem, but often, after something of a trek, the reward is quite dispririting. For example, once the visitor has left Williamson Square then The Royal Court they continue to St. George's Hall and The Empire Theatre and then up Lord Nelson Street. This is no mean achievemen but then on reaching the Carling Academy (which is a good ten minutes up hill from the Empire), Pete says:

    "The Carling Academy opened in 1997, providing a long needed venue for top acts. The venue has established itself as a major player on the uk touring circuit."

    And then there were a bunch of instructions to return to Ranleigh Street. All this walking for that? Perhaps a music fan would be enthusing over the place, but as a 'not them' is it wrong of me to want something more to convince me of its importance? A similar problem occurs with the integration of the university's Guild of Students. Pete warns that the walk will take ten minutes up a steep incline (up Brownlow Hill past the back of Paddy's Wigwam) but that vaguely "Alternatively public transport is available". I didn't go because I knew that what he thinks is ten minutes is at least twenty on a good day. I sneaked a listen of what I missed and was glad I decided to nip up Mount Pleasant to the Everyman instead:

    "Previously known as the academy, the university guild is now established as a main venue on the uk tour circuit and has played host to many up and coming names including Coldplay, Elvis Costello, The Human League and recently The Arctic Monkeys."

    Completing the rest of the tour took another dejected hour, around the Hope Street area (having taken a shortcut up Mount Pleasant), down Hardman Street to Seel Street into Slater Street onto Wood Street. The venues in this district are closer together and the descriptions had slightly more depth and an increased enthusiasm and it was nice to finally get to see the Barfly and the Jacaranda, a place I haven't been in years.

    The tour ends at the Albert Dock (having walked through Hanover Street and across the Dock Road) which I also skipped - Pete talked about it in basic terms - shops, bars, museums - and says it's were the Magical Mystery Tour begins - but again I wondered how many people having looked at the accompanying map will have gone there as the finale, knowing that it has only a tangential importance to what has gone before.

    Then there were the pauses. Between locations Pete gives a brief directions for getting to the next place -- which is fine. Except that the listener has to pause the mp3 track in-between. And them pick up once they've reached them. It's a shame that Pete couldn't continue talking in between, perhaps filling in with the anecdotes or pointing out other geographical features on the way. Also, I'm glad that I was only using a cheap Tesco player, because I'd feel a bit security conscious if I was carrying something more expensive around - the needed to stop and start so often would mitigate against keeping it in your pocket.

    I would love to know what other people have made of this tour and whether I'm simply a very slow walker, but assuming I haven't missed the point it seems to me like a missed opportunity. On paper, it's a great idea but the execution doesn't appear that well thought out. It feels disjointed in this form and lacks the kind of depth that should make it rewarding. Something that might have worked would have been to create two different tours concentrating on the two most prominent eras, the 60s and the 80s building a strong narrative and feeling for each of the eras with more historical context, ignoring but referring to venues that don't have a direct connection, such as the Guild.

    Five Things

    Meme All the cool bloggers have lately been posting answers (can you call them answers?) to the the Five Things You Don't Know About Me meme. Given the 100 things post, this and the fact I've been blogging for five and half years, I'm not sure that there's very much more to tell. Well alright actually there is, so whilst I wait for this to download here are a few things I haven't mentioned. I don't think.

    (1) I think that Keith Mansfield's original theme for the BBC's Saturday afternoon sport programme Grandstand is one of the best pieces of instrumental music ever. That's really how to use the brass and percussion sections of an orchestra. The extended 7" version has totally unexpected tricked out crazy disco section in the middle which is amazing.

    (2) I'm a terrible liar - it plays on my conscience even when I don't think that people can always tell. So I try to avoid it as much as possible.

    (3) My first crush was at the age of twelve. There was a girl from a private school who wore a dark brown uniform, with dark brown platted hair and dark brown eyes who I would see on the 80 bus each morning. We would get off at the same place and I would wait and get another bus up the hill towards school with her. She'd always sit at the back and I'd sit at the front and when I got off after one stop, outside school, I would always wait on the pavement and wave her away and she'd smile at me and that would make the rest of the day bearable.

    (4) I'm excellent at keeping secrets. Back when I had a life, everyone would tell me everything and I'd never tell. I had a friend at school who simply wouldn't tell anyone which of the sixth form girls he fancied. But he told me. And it turned out to be a girl that everyone else fancied, including me. But I kept my word.

    (5) I don't actually remember the first time I read Shakespeare. I don't remember the first time I watched Doctor Who. I don't know why those are connected.

    I hope that was illuminating. I'm tagging Amy, Meredith, Tom, Kate and Jess.

    Links for 2007-01-23 [] - Rmail

  • Mesmer [1994]: DVD: Alan Rickman,Donal Donnelly
    Previewed on Film 93 with Berry Norman then never, ever released, Mesmer is one of those mysterious lost films which I was under the impression hadn't even been completed. Yet here it is, ready for a dvd release. I can't wait.
  • BBC NEWS: Changing looks
    Full explanation of the BBC's new onscreen news graphics, which are much sleaker and less intrusive, even if some viewers are having problems because they're dropping off the bottom of their screen.
  • Behind the Sofa: "'New Earth was a nightmare, honestly..."
    In which I review 'Doctor Who: The Inside Story' by new script editor Gary Russell.
  • filmlog: The Titfield Thunderbolt (1952)
    'Time flies by when you're the driver of a train, and you're there on the footplate, there and back again.' Time Out are sniffy about this hilarious film saying that it marked the decline of Ealing. They're wrong. It's amazing.
  • "'New Earth was a nightmare, honestly..."

    Books As Russell T Davies admits in this afterword to Gary Russell's book, Doctor Who: The Inside Story, the series is probably the most documented programme in television history. Between Doctor Who Magazine, Doctor Who Confidential, dvd commentaries and other books, what new is there to be said?

    Quiet a lot as it turns out.

    The style of the book complements previous publications. Ben Cook's eyewitness articles for Doctor Who Magazine provide a flavour of what it must have been like on set during the making of the progammes. Andrew Pixley's Doctor Who Magazine Specials offer the technical and scheduling nuts and bolts, what happened on which day and in what order. Shaun Lyon's two Vortex books supply the outsider's perspective, the gossip as it happened. Now Russell rounds off the bookshelf by presenting the retrospective viewpoint, a chance for the actors and production team to discuss their favourite memories and what they might have done differently, given the time and money.

    'Hooray!' shouts the author at the opening of the section about the crafts people working on the series and that sets the attitude of the whole book, that this is a new successful series and something to be celebrated. The opening section describes in detail the genesis of the series, from Davies' earliest proposals in the mid-late nineties through to the commission and production; the second half works from episode to episode concentrating on the most interesting issues in the production of each story - sometimes the writing, sometimes the set design, sometimes the music. The writing style is chatty and positive throughout, completely without the funereal tone that infused Gary Russell's previous book Regeneration (about the making of the tv movie), which seemed to be a catalogue of mistakes and mistaken egos.

    Which isn't to say he shies away from some of the controversies of the new series. This is the first time I've seen in print the problems that occurred during the first filming block (comprising Rose, Aliens of London and World War Three) when the ideas of the director Keith Boak clashed with those of special effects crew The Mill and Millennium FX who jointly created the Slitheen, both regretting the mismatch that happened on-screen were in some shots the aliens would move stealthily and in others lumber around explaining why the aliens are now generally either completely computer generated or a prosthesis. The reasons for Christopher Eccleston's choice to stay for one series aren't given too much detail, but it is heartbreaking once again to hear how the production had planned for it to be a complete surprise, even to the point of filming a false version of the season one cliffhanger that would have been sent out on the preview disk for television reviewers.

    Perhaps the most illuminating section is the twelve pages given over to the craft of the script editor, which within the new series has been rather obscured elsewhere. Largely an interview with Helen Raynor, it lucidly explains how her job is to be the filter between the producers and the script writers and that actually, she and the other script editors talk more with the writers than Davies himself, who reveals that he sometimes only speaks to them once a month; Raynor is actually creatively very involved even to the point of discussing with Davies changes to his own work (a job which she notably dreads). It was exciting to read that part of her job also includes 'reading outlines for new audio plays featuring the Eighth Doctor and signing off lists of things it was acceptable for a talking Dalek'; this indicates that there is, for once, a coherent presence behind the franchise.

    Remarkably the book is filled with fascinating photographs of the production not seen elsewhere and concept drawings that demonstrate that often the designer will let their imagination run riot, creating something almost unrecognizable from the traditional iconography, only to draw it back to the familiar. There are also some of Davies' own sketches of scenes in The End of the World and a moment not filmed in which Rose would have found herself perilously tipped onto the glass viewing screen slowly cracking under the heat. Earlier in the book, Raynor wonders whether the head writer has a really spectacular version of the whole series already mapped out in his head and these drawings prove it.

    The key success of the book is that it demonstrates the passion of everyone working on the series to create something that we, the viewer and fan, will love. At the beginning of each mini-section about make-up or costume or special effects, Russell describes how each crew member found themselves on the show and for most it sounds like the pinnacle of their careers, that nothing else they do will quite match it. What that means is that when you revisit an episode that you don't entirely love (New Earth), you can at least understand that those involved tried their very hardest to get everything right, even if as is explained in these pages some things went a bit wrong (New Earth).

    It's a pleasure to hear that Gary Russell has now been hired as a script editor on both Doctor Who and Torchwood since as this book demonstrates he knows the series inside out and will be able to bring a considerable talent to both.

    "I became impossible."

    TV The BBC website now have preview clips from the New Beginnings boxset, including a breathtaking moment in which Tom Baker is as lucid as I've ever heard him be about his behaviour on the set. Gripping stuff.

    Another call for entries.

    Film Keeping on the movie theme (have I written about anything else lately?) and with inspiration from Annette (bet you weren't expecting this) I'm designating next month as Forgotten Films February. Each day I'll be posting a film review of something which has been generally overlooked but which I think is as good as some of the so-called classics. The reason I'm mentioning it now is that of course I'm looking for contributions. So if there's a film you don't think anyone else has seen and you think you can describe it in a hundred or so words I'll post your review up here with all the credit you'd like. If you don't think you can write that much yourself, simply email me at with the film title and I'll see if I can put something together for you. As usual, thanks in advance.

    Oscar, oscar

    Film The Oscar nominations in full then.

    Achievement in directing
    Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Alejandro González Iñárritu
    The Departed (Warner Bros.) Martin Scorsese
    Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood
    The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Stephen Frears
    United 93 (Universal and StudioCanal) Paul Greengrass

    Will it be Scorsese's year? Probably not. Eastwood'll beat him again.

    Performance by an actor in a leading role
    Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond
    Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson (THINKFilm)
    Peter O'Toole in Venus (Miramax, Filmfour and UK Council)
    Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony Pictures Releasing)
    Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland (Fox Searchlight)

    Bizarre that Michael Sheen didn't get a nod here for The Queen but given that I've failed to see any of the films in this list yet, I can't really decide although it would be good to see Ryan Gosling win it simply so that I can hear the hall collectively go 'Huh?' on awards night.

    Performance by an actor in a supporting role
    Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
    Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children (New Line)
    Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
    Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Mark Wahlberg in The Departed (Warner Bros.)

    I think Eddie Murphy will probably win this. I think that for him to even be here means that the academy are just pleased that they can finally toss him an award for his long service.

    Performance by an actress in a leading role
    Penélope Cruz in Volver (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
    Helen Mirren in The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
    Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox)
    Kate Winslet in Little Children (New Line)

    Remember that not too long ago this was the weakest category and yet here we are with five classic actresses. Will it be Mirren's year? Don't know - for all that it would be cool to see Penelope Cruz win something, especially since Volver failed to get a nomination in the Foreign Language Film category.

    Performance by an actress in a supporting role
    Adriana Barraza in Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
    Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
    Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
    Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Rinko Kikuchi in Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)

    I think Cate Blanchett will win this, if only because she's been so visible in film in the past couple of years and it might be an award for her range of performances, if not simply this film. Or will Abigail Breslin be the new Anna Paquin?

    Best animated feature film of the year
    Cars (Buena Vista) John Lasseter
    Happy Feet (Warner Bros.) George Miller
    Monster House (Sony Pictures Releasing) Gil Kenan

    Cars will win. I have heard though that Monster House does have some momentum.

    Achievement in art direction
    Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    The Good Shepherd (Universal)
    Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse)
    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
    The Prestige (Buena Vista)

    The Prestige or Pans Labarynth should win here - both beautiful films featuring a range of settings. Although if Dreamgirls gets a sweep everything else will fall by the wayside.

    Achievement in cinematography
    The Black Dahlia (Universal) Vilmos Zsigmond
    Children of Men (Universal) Emmanuel Lubezki
    The Illusionist (Yari Film Group) Dick Pope
    Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro
    The Prestige (Buena Vista) Wally Pfister

    Battle of the magic films then - except I think Children of Men will be given the charity award here for the film everyone seemed to love but has been largely ignored.

    Achievement in costume design
    Curse of the Golden Flower (Sony Pictures Classics) Yee Chung Man
    The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox) Patricia Field
    Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount) Sharen Davis
    Marie Antoinette (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero
    The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Consolata Boyle

    The Devil Wears Prada will probably win the irony vote, but Marie Antoinette's costumes were spectacular even if the whole film wasn't.

    Best documentary feature
    Deliver Us from Evil (Lionsgate)
    An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
    Iraq in Fragments (Typecast Releasing)
    Jesus Camp (Magnolia Pictures)
    My Country, My Country (Zeitgeist Films)

    I think An Inconvenient Truth is bound to win this although it's great to see James Longley's Iraq in Fragments which you'll have heard first about on this very blog.

    Best documentary short subject
    The Blood of Yingzhou District
    Recycled Life
    Rehearsing a Dream
    Two Hands

    Either of the middle two on the basis of the title alone.

    Achievement in film editing
    Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
    Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
    Children of Men (Universal)
    The Departed (Warner Bros.)
    United 93 (Universal and StudioCanal)

    If Paul Greengrass doesn't win Best Director (although the whole Director/Picture linkage is never certain anymore which might count in his favour) I think this will be sympathy award. Unless the academy are really impressed with the cutting between narratives in Babel.

    Best foreign language film of the year
    After the Wedding A Zentropa Entertainments 16 Production
    Days of Glory (Indigènes) A Tessalit Production
    The Lives of Others A Wiedemann & Berg Production
    Pan's Labyrinth A Tequila Gang/Esperanto Filmoj/Estudios Picasso Production
    Water A Hamilton-Mehta Production Canada

    No Volver? Good lord. And yet - look -- Water! I'll be very surprised if Pan's Labyrinth doesn't win though.

    Achievement in makeup
    Apocalypto (Buena Vista) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
    Click (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kazuhiro Tsuji and Bill Corso
    Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) David Marti and Montse Ribe

    Click? Pan's Labyrinth!

    Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
    Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo Santaolalla
    The Good German (Warner Bros.) Thomas Newman
    Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight) Philip Glass
    Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Javier Navarrete
    The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Alexandre Desplat

    The Good German's pastiche score might win (can't wait to see this).

    Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
    I Need to Wake Up from An Inconvenient Truth
    (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
    Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge
    Listen from Dreamgirls
    (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler
    Lyric by Anne Preven
    Love You I Do from Dreamgirls
    (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Music by Henry Krieger
    Lyric by Siedah Garrett
    Our Town from Cars
    (Buena Vista)
    Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
    Patience from Dreamgirls
    (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Music by Henry Krieger
    Lyric by Willie Reale

    Since Dreamgirls is this year's musical ?

    Best motion picture of the year
    Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
    An Anonymous Content/Zeta Film/Central Films Production
    Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik and Steve Golin, Producers
    The Departed (Warner Bros.)
    A Warner Bros. Pictures Production
    Nominees to be determined
    Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
    A DreamWorks Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures Production
    Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz, Producers
    Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
    A Big Beach/Bona Fide Production
    Nominees to be determined
    The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
    A Granada Production
    Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, Producers

    Which demonstrates how the indie sensibilities of yesteryear are now so mainstream. Of course my favourite film of last year The Russian Dolls isn't listed. Because it was released everywhere else the year before. Fingers crossed for The Queen though.

    Best animated short film
    The Danish Poet (National Film Board of Canada)
    A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production
    Torill Kove
    Lifted (Buena Vista)
    A Pixar Animation Studios Production
    Gary Rydstrom
    The Little Matchgirl (Buena Vista)
    A Walt Disney Pictures Production
    Roger Allers and Don Hahn
    Maestro (Szimplafilm)
    A Kedd Production
    Geza M. Toth
    No Time for Nuts (20th Century Fox)
    A Blue Sky Studios Production
    Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier

    The Danish Poet because it was the only one without the backing of a major studio.

    Best live action short film
    Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
    A Peliculas Pendelton and Tus Ojos Production
    Javier Fesser and Luis Manso
    Éramos Pocos (One Too Many) (Kimuak)
    An Altube Filmeak Production
    Borja Cobeaga
    Helmer & Son
    A Nordisk Film Production
    Soren Pilmark and Kim Magnusson
    The Saviour (Australian Film Television and Radio School)
    An Australian Film Television and Radio School Production
    Peter Templeman and Stuart Parkyn
    West Bank Story
    An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production
    Ari Sandel

    (?) And again I say (?)

    Achievement in sound editing
    Apocalypto (Buena Vista)
    Sean McCormack and Kami Asgar
    Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
    Lon Bender
    Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
    Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
    Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
    Alan Robert Murray
    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
    Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

    It'll probably be Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which seems to the vogue summer blockbuster of this list.

    Achievement in sound mixing
    Apocalypto (Buena Vista)
    Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Fernando Camara
    Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
    Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ivan Sharrock
    Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
    Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton
    Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
    John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
    Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff

    Again might fall during the mighty Dreamgirls sweep.

    Achievement in visual effects
    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
    John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall
    Poseidon (Warner Bros.)
    Boyd Shermis, Kim Libreri, Chaz Jarrett and John Frazier
    Superman Returns (Warner Bros.)
    Mark Stetson, Neil Corbould, Richard R. Hoover and Jon Thum

    Superman Returns, since it hasn't been nominated for anything else which is really, really bizarre.

    Adapted screenplay
    Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (20th Century Fox)
    Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
    Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips
    Children of Men (Universal)
    Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
    The Departed (Warner Bros.)
    Screenplay by William Monahan
    Little Children (New Line)
    Screenplay by Todd Field & Tom Perrotta
    Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
    Screenplay by Patrick Marber

    Which sort of demonstrates that Borat was scripted. A lot.

    Original screenplay
    Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
    Written by Guillermo Arriaga
    Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
    Screenplay by Iris Yamashita
    Story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis
    Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
    Written by Michael Arndt
    Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse)
    Written by Guillermo del Toro
    The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
    Written by Peter Morgan

    Wow - wide open. Probably Babel because it was bit complicated. Hyperlink films ahoy.

    "I just wanted to say..."

    About I've received this lovely email from Gary:
    Hi Stuart,

    "I just wanted to say..." thanks for what you write. I've read your blog daily for - well it must be nearly two years. I can't remember how I found it originally. All the things you write about seem to strike a chord with me. When I check my newsfeed you are the first I read (followed by Warren Ellis and then Behind the Sofa [which I discovered through you]). What you write about movies and tv is spot on and I really can't get why you're not already working for radio or some magazine (How great would a radio show with you and Mark Kermode be?}. Plus you like Doctor Who which is great.

    I thought I'd just mail you this because I was thinking how much I enjoy reading what you're up to and what you think about and how much I'd miss it if you stopped. I guess with a blog that it's easy to lose sight that there are lots of us who are "lurkers". Hey, I'm a lurker at last!

    I replied:

    Wow, thank you so much. That's probably one of the nicest emails I've ever had and so welcome right now when I'm having such a crisis with my writing and whether that's really what I want to do. This week I plan to update my portfolio properly, just choosing the writing I particularly love, no matter how much of it and sending it off to people just to see. You've really, really spurned me on to do that. Don't worry, though I'm not going to stop -- I've decided that I must post at least one piece of writing a day on one of the blogs, something I'm managing to keep up with for now. Wow, again.

    Take care,


    PS Do you mind if I post your email up on the blog?
    Thanks very much again Gary.

    Links for 2007-01-22 [] - Rmail

  • filmlog: The Descent (2005)
    Thrilling heart in your stomach psychological action horror film for 99.8% of its running time before fluffing it in the final moments. At least in the UK version. The US version apparently doesn't piss all over its audience quite so much.
  • York Minster astronomical clock
    We watched the tour guide trying to explain the intricassies of this -- perhaps he should have simply passed out copies of this.
  • filmlog: The Sea Hawk (1940)
    Brilliant swashbuckler set just prior to the Spanish Armada with Errol Flynn as thy-slapping Sir Francis Drake. Total fantasy of course, but no worse for it with sea battles and sword fighting and romance and a rousing Queen Elizabeth II.
  • filmlog: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
    Great dialogue and performances somehow manage to overcome the film's bizarre story structure and plot; there was a hithertoo unmentioned second island? That's convenient.
  • Liverpool 08: Music Tour
    "Discover more about Liverpool's musical heritage with our free walking tour as Pete Wylie explores the city's music scene from the 1960s to the present day passing clubs and venues in the World Capital of Pop."
  • Time Out Film: The directors: Stephen Fry
    Time Out have begun a series of articles by directors about their craft, beginning with Stephen Fry's perception of his perception of the process changed when he went behind the camera: "Your film is entirely made or unmade in the cutting room."
  • Used FAQs: What causes hangovers?
    Offers the complicated and not so complicated answer.
  • Time Out Film: The directors: Franc Roddam on Harvey Weinstein
    And the second, even more entertaining article as the director of ‘Quadrophenia’, recalls working with Harvey Weinstein on his 1992 film ‘K2’: ‘Fuck it, I’d better call Harvey… I’ll call the editor first.’
  • The Impulsive Buy: Kellogg’s Lego Eggo Waffles
    Not quite the genius you would expect: "Worst building material EVER. Not enough holes for all the studs. Need rock hard pieces to erect something. Stalking is bad."
  • The Art Newspaper: Thieves beware: museum curators are after you
    Museum curators are being hired as special constables might be a good thing. Calling the scheme 'Art Beat' really isn't. Do you think they've realised why that sounds so familiar yet?
  • BBC Cult: Hart Beat (1988)
    Why it sounds so familar.
  • YouTube: Spoof DVD Piracy PSA
    Hilarious spoof anti-piracy ad for people who listen to a certain type of film review.
  • The Early Hitchcock Collection: DVD
    Amazing new boxset of the very early British Hitchcock. Includes: "Champagne, Blackmail, Murder!, The Ring, The Skin Game, The Manxman, Number Seventeen, The Farmer’s Wife"
  • Empty spaces

    Life Over the weekend I visited York to see my old friend Denise and we went to see York Minster because the seating has been removed to make way for a ball which also has the side effect of providing an opportunity to see the naive as it would have been in the earlier parts of the past millennium. The building has not had an easy life, wrecked by fire and poor architecture, but as it stands now, it's a remarkable space, although curiously without the chairs, as Denise noted, it feels smaller. Which is odd because the photographs I've taken which are waiting to be developed show people sitting and standing and still being dwarfed by the central columns.

    We called in at mid-day and the church was quiet busy, but the crowds and guided talks didn't stop the enjoyment of just being there. When I visited Notre Dame in Paris, despite its immensity, I ended up leaving far more quickly than I'd planned simply because I couldn't contemplate and think in that way that churches are supposed to allow even questioners like me. Some of our time was spent looking up at the bosses designed by Blue Peter viewers to replace the ones destroyed by fire in 1984. For some reason the judges decided that two of them should feature astronauts.

    Once Denise had got the bus home and I'd looked around the city a bit more, I returned to the Minster for Evensong. By this time it had gone dark and the artificial lights were illumining the place giving it a completely different visual complexion. New shadows meant that carvings were much more apparent with faces and figures suddenly becoming slightly more sinister. But the voice of the choir and the lessons somehow nullified this and unlike earlier in the day it became somewhere for quiet contemplation. I wanted to lie in the centre of the marble floor looking up at the ceiling, letting the atmosphere wash over me, but something held me back. So instead I simply paced around looking at everything anew, listened to the music for a few moments more then headed for home too.

    Links for 2007-01-21 []

  • Behind the Sofa: Toga Party
    In which I review tonight's new Doctor Who despite its lack of imagination and mine.
  • Immortal Beloved.

    Audio Εάν διαβάσετε τα οποιαδήποτε ελληνικά ξέρετε ότι αυτό δεν έχει μεταφραστεί πολύ καλά από τα ψάρια της Βαβέλ. Αλλά σκέφτηκα ότι ήταν ένας τρόπος διασκέδασης που είναι εκεί SPOILERS και ότι πρέπει LISTEN εδώ πρώτα. Όχι ότι καθένα στο πράγμα είναι πραγματικά ελληνικά, το οποίο καθιστά αυτήν την συσκευή άσχετη. καλά.

    When the BBC7 announcer suggested before Immortal Beloved that it would contain 'amoral Gods and brutal murder', it sounded as though this was going to be the audio equivalent of Torchwood, throwing out family thrills and spills and favour of gritty faux-realism. In the event, this was pretty dark stuff, with shootings, stabbings, attempted suicide and randy old men, and in places fairly uncomfortable listening in this early evening time-slot. I wondered if any youngsters tuning in would be able to cope with some of the blacker elements.

    This begins as one of those quite bizarre stories that have been the hallmark of Big Finish's Eighth Doctor stories, in which it's entirely impossible to tell were the writer, in this case, Big Finish veteran Jonathan Clements got his ideas from. The Tardis, once again bouncing off Blackpool, lands in what seems to be Ancient Greece at the site of a potential teen suicide and just as this looks like it's going to be a rerun of The Mythmakers, technology intercedes in the form of a walkie-talkie and helicopters and suggests that the story is going to be far more complex than that (nice use of sound here as the sound of static cuts through the listener's perceptual expectations in a way that simply wouldn't have been surprising visually).

    But then it transpires that yet another group of human colonists have crash landed somewhere and are using technology to continue their existence across centuries, taking the mantle of Gods in order to keep those surrounding them in check. Shades of State of Decay then, except instead of vampirism, their method is mind swapping into clones and suddenly the mix is poisoned by a dollop of New Earth which isn't be a good thing. What is it with mind transference in the Whoniverse? I mean it's only been a couple of weeks since it was used as the big surprise cliffhanger in the middle of Blood of the Daleks, the poor young pizza girl in Cyberwoman and before that Cassandra and Peri and here it is again as a main plot strand.

    The enduring problem with Doctor Who is that nothing is new anymore; unless it's deliberately pastiching some new film genre or narrative technique, its been storytelling for so long it's bound to repeat itself. Disappointingly, unlike recent stories, Immortal Beloved didn't recognize then demonstrate that it wasn't doing anything new. I'm not saying that it needed some wonking great continuity reference, like the Doctor saying 'when I was on a planet in E-Space and Zargo, Camilla, and Aukon didn't succeed and neither will you', just something indicating that the writer is aware of the similarities, overcomes them and presents a twist or a few surprises. But as the climax played out, so reminiscent of the film Freejack, it became apparent that this was going in the direction you were expecting despite the post-modern trappings and body horror.

    It wasn't a good story for the Doctor. Apart from the customary rants, some persuading at the top and some technological jiggery pokery at the bottom, the time lord was a bit of a bystander as the details of the plot unfolded around him, with characters like Zeus all too happy to explain everything. Lucie too fulfilled the more traditional companion role, being captured, threatened and standing around looking horrified with only a final peculiar decision to try and destroy her only means of escape to suggest that she wasn't doing anything that might not have worked with anyone else.

    This recalls the early Hartnell era, but for me the Doctor needs to be a more vital presence than this - I really couldn't understand why he didn't simply break the machine doing all the damage and be done with it, instead of standing around chatting about parts. If this was to do with the Doctor understanding their need for immortality because of his own being that wasn't made clear. I mean sure, sometimes the Doctor likes to let the people he meets make their own decisions about their future, but it's not like he's lately followed some Prime Directive, and this made even less sense with all the moaning about not trying to save Ares if it had meant Tayden would die.

    Which isn't to say that the journey wasn't a bit fun, there was much to enjoy. As usual with this series, the dialogue effervesced. The Doctor and Lucie have become an excellent double act, the twist being that the former has become the deadpan straight man to the latter and knows it and actually seems to be enjoying it. The moment in the decontamination chamber when Lucie realised that she wasn't in the altogether was exquisite as was her reaction to Zeus's advances. Notice too that once again, it wasn't afraid to note its own continuity with the Doctor mentioning the reactions of his own granddaughter.

    Elsewhere, those 'gods' from Zeus downwards were mostly pretty loveable in a Sunday night sitcom way, only taking their subterfuge seriously enough to fool their acolytes, making them fairly benign antagonists. It made a change to have some nice if still homicidal loonies but it also means that at no point did the traveling companions themselves seem too threatened. The danger of creating a hundred Lucies to be killed in various ways seemed a bit empty so the Doctor only really appeared to stick around so that the course of love between the acolytes could run smooth along with the usual regime change. The use of ancient terms to describe the new technology was a brilliant choice though.

    The performances were worth the fifty minutes of my time alone. Recently I've been watching the BBC's production of Shakespeare from the seventies and eighties and the casting and production for this adventure reminded me of those, which isn't surprising since the namechecked Romeo and Juliet was an inspiration. From old hands Ian McNeice and Elspeth Grey brought their years of experience and timing as Zeus and Hera, whilst newbies Anthony Spargo (Kalkin), Jennifer Higham (Sararti) and David Dobson (in the dual roles of Tayden and Ares) had a vital energy and Jake McGann as Ganymede is to be commended for keeping up with his Dad, Paul.
    "The music wasn't particularly memorable, in that I can't remember what it sounded like right now."

    The music wasn't particularly memorable, in that I can't remember what it sounded like right now (but then I'm very tired). As has become pleasingly standard in this new series, the sound design had real gusto and I could certainly imagine everything very clearly -- the thundering sound of the helicopters was really impressive. It is weird though, that in this medium in which any visual is possible, any landscape describable that Big Finish have a habit of still keeping its narratives contained within so few locations. Not everything needs to be as epic as Seasons of Fear, but there's no reason to take the second word in the description 'audio play' quite so literally. There wasn't anything here that couldn't have been filmed on the set of The Keeper of Traken. Except perhaps for those helicopters.

    Next Week: Phobos. Presumably without the hint of a leather goddess.

    Links for 2007-01-20 [] - Rmail

  • anna kiss: i am determined to be something other than what i am
    "i am determined to find the something that is me, to write, to be, in fact, a writer and to not feel helpless and emptied next to the colossalness of the phd in my midst."
  • sashinka: today is a big day
    Bit late with this but it was Sasha's fifth blog day on Tuesday. Congratulations.
  • The Triforce: Have You Seen This Man?
    The Triforce have a book out -- ‘Game On! From Pong to Oblivion: The 50 Greatest Videogames of All Time’ -- here they respond to a browser.
  • The Stage: Bragg calls for arts channel to show South Bank archive
    This sounds like a good idea but really I'm not sure how it would survive in the commercial world. Actually what I'd like to see is ArtsWorld getting a slot on Freeview.
  • BBC Four: Winter/Spring 2007 Preview
    Really amazing sounding programmes in here, including, "Archive Of The World" which sounds like Poliakoff's "Shooting The Past" as a documentary, and "Edwardian Supersize Me" which is fairly self explanatory.