"Finally there would be a thingamajig that would bring everyone together, even if it kept them apart spatially." -- Amy Archer, 'The Hudsucker Proxy'

Life Since you asked, I do remember the where I was when Princess Diana died. For some reason I’d woken up early that morning at about six o‘clock. Unable to get back to sleep, I reround and watched the Coen Brothers film, The Hudsucker Proxy which had been on Channel 4 overnight. At the end of the film, which would have been at about 8am my time, four’s night logo appeared and the duty announcer reported that she’d died. It sounded like a mistake, as though the channel’s rehearsals for such an occurrence had accidentally bled through to air.

But of course it wasn’t a rehearsal because it was her, not the Queen Mother as everyone expected and when I turned the tape off, footage of Paris was being shown on the BBC. I ran into my parent's room to wake them with the news, because it was the kind of thing which you simply can’t keep to yourself. When the local television news last night asked the question of when you heard about the death, that was their story, being woken by me. So I still have the moment when I heard that Diana died somewhere, at the end of a Capraesque film about hula hoops. Time to get the dvd, probably.

"Please accept my and Ron’s sincerest apologies…." -- David Eick, Executive Producer, 'Battlestar Galactica'

Film Kevin Smith reveals why he isn't directing Galactica after all: "The moral of the story, kids? You snooze, you lose. Or, rather, if you spend too much time overthinking a simple yes or no question, the guy who directed “The Last Seduction” will get your job."

"I hope you land on your forehead" -- Liam, talking to Sam, 'Big Brother 2007'

TV Big Brother 8 completed tonight with a result that no one was surprised by. I'm happy that Brian won, Samanda were second and Liam was third since they seemed to be the most normal least affected house mates of the bunch, the one least likely to have a game plan or wanting to cause a fight just for the fun of it. I haven't really watched this year's series what with the Proms and deciding after the fourth series that I couldn't be bothered but I have picked up the vibes as usual through osmosis from headlines, flicking through the channels late at night and the fact it was always on in the living room when I passed through. But have seen enough to hate Charley, quite like Chanelle really (particularly after seeing her bow action) and marvel at the churn of inmate this year (twenty-three altogether) slightly nostalgic for the days when the sole appearance of Claire Strutton in the first series (replacing Nasty Nick Bateman) was a novelty.

Craig, Brian, Kate, Cameron, Nadia, whoever won six, Pete, now Brian -- sometimes it’s a doorway to a new career, be it as a columnist in a Scottish newspaper commenting on subsequent series, presenting or DJing gigs, other times it’s a recipe for obscurity and all depending upon your performance during the actual series and if your face fits afterwards. Big Brother is never an automatic entry into the entertainment world. Fixating slightly on one of the central tussles, the cleverest housemate was probably Chanelle, leaving the house the same weekend as her arch rival Charley, somehow picking the moment when the interest in her and Zak’s couple was at its peak and stealing all of her limelight. That girl’s still doing the rounds of the front covers whilst Charley has already hit some relative obscurity, possibly because she looked like she’d be a nightmare to work with, arguing herself into then out of work.

I think her embryonic career suicide moment was during Big Brother’s Little Brother when she was sent up to Gateshead to talk to the locals and the package shown during the show was edited to present all of her fluffs and strops and bizarre memory lapses (such as where she was actually standing). At the return to the studio and an interview with Dermot O’Leary, Charley was evidently annoyed and seething and clearly thinking she’d been stitched up and clearly she had.
‘I thought you’d use my best bits.’ she said quietly but at no point gave an indication that she could see the funny side or was taking it on the chin or had the ability to twist the situation to her advantage, all qualities required in the profession she was obviously aspiring to. Apparently some producers are looking to work a new show around her anyway. Good luck to them …

"I'm difficult." "You're challenging." -- Sally then Harry, 'When Harry Met Sally'

Meme Apparently this is just a girl's thing, but since I'm on a sugar rush after drinking two cups of cocoa here are we have:

Ten Things you Like about Yourself

(1) Have an enquiring mind and I never take things at face value. Sometimes I know this can make me a cynical sausage and I have a tendency to over complicate everything but it does mean I never believe everything I read.

(2) I’m polite. Please. Thank you. Hold doors open. Stand up on busses for old people and pregnant women, the whole business.

(3) I’m a geek and proud of it.

(4) I’m a fast learner, particularly when computers are involved. Even though I hate them. No really. I’m as luddite as they come.

(5) I’m a liberal.

(6) My nose. I have a good strong well defined nose. Pity everything else is in such a mess.

(7) I’m a good listener and apparently good at giving advice too because …

(8) I’m a good problem solver. Given time and a moment to think.

(9) I can communicate, I think, at least via the keyboard, especially if I have something to say.

(10) I have an excellent memory but also a wonderful ability to bluff if that vital piece of information (like who it is I’m talking to and where I know them from) isn’t to hand to straight away.

[Thanks Hira!]

"I know Johnny. I know you want me so bad it's like acid in your mouth. But, not this time. " -- Bodhi, 'Point Break'

Film Abby Lee channels the spirit of Laura Mulvey: "Point Break also made me question why so few films objectified men: perhaps this was related to the fact that most movies are directed by men? Knowing that Point Break was directed by a woman (the terribly under-rated Kathryn Bigelow) confirmed it to me: if we want the female perspective on-screen, we need more female directors to portray it. This was the movie that first propelled me to seek a career in the film industry, so you could say that it had a serious affect on me."

See also: Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema or everything you ever wanted to know about the gaze, and her other work, Afterthoughts on 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' inspired by Duel in the Sun which looks at it from the female perspective Abby's talking about.


Books  One of the great joys about returning to university the other year was being able read more books and more particularly books which had previously been read by many, many people. I like books that have a history, that have entertained and educated many previous people. It’s for that reason that I very rarely buy brand new books unless there’s no other option, such as not many other readers would actually want to read that sort of literature. No not that sort of literature, more in the area of finding out that a second edition of Lance Parkin’s Ahistory is soon to be available.

It’s been then a bit of a disappointment that so few of the books I’ve been reading have been more than second hand, despite having been found on eBay. And then I turned to the inside cover of my(ish) copy of Trevor Baxendale’s Coldheart and found this:

Which is wonderful, and not just because Ade seems to make a note on the inside of all of the books he reads to remind himself of when he read them. It's the detail that he read the book when Mr and Mrs Jones came which suggests that they weren’t great company and neither where Mr & Mrs Fry since it was Baxendale’s book which got the most attention when he met them. He completed it on Easter Sunday 2000 too. It’s the first time I’ve encountered this so it can’t really be a tradition but how wonderful would the world be if it was -- and how charming if every time you picked up a second hand book, it’s life story was scrawled inside in the various hands through which it had passed, a solid, real world version of Bookcrossing.

Obviously, Ade enjoyed reading the book more than I did.

What an attractive cover! At no point did I feel embarrassed reading this on the train yesterday, this yawning maw looking for all the world like the goatse photograph with the hands missing. Another Black Sheep special, not only does it give away one of the few mysteries of the story but it actually causes you pause in deciding where to put your fingers when you pick it up. Some argue that simply slapping a picture of the Doctor onto the cover of a tie-in novel is a boring business, but at least it doesn't make you want to chunder. Unfortunately the synopsis on the back of the book is pretty annoying too since it describes the plot right up to about page a hundred and seventy (I checked) which has the potential to make reading the actual book a pointless exercise. I’m remainded of Empire Magazine’s old adage that the longer the trailer last the worse a film is.

Coldheart isn’t bad, just a bit boring. As said synopsis reveals, the new randomiser takes the chronological coach party to Eskon, a planet of fire and ice whose civilisation is also divided between the health and those who are infected with genetic mutation that makes them undesirable to be around. It’s thematically about slavery and apartheid and also the treatment of the disabled in society. The main city, then, is ringed by the shanty towns of these expelled slimers something as you’d imagine the Doctor’s none too happy about and just has to get involved to discover the cause and bring about a resolution -- but not before Fitz inadvertently gives the disenfranchised ideas about over throwing their masters.

Which sort of underlines the main problem with the book -- it’s such a well worn formula that there really isn’t anything in here all that surprising. In earlier novel, much was made about how this Doctor seemed to travel the universe helping the helpless, bringing down governments, creating benevolent mayhem and this is an example of that. There are also inadvertent reminders of the kind of classic Star Trek story in which Kirk would break the prime directive in order to teach the locals what’s right -- the likes of The Apple -- the Doctor just has to get involved even though somewhere in here Fitz rationalises that these things would have happened anyway eventually -- he just speeds up the process.

It’s not an enjoyable read though and that’s largely down to the author’s technical ability. Baxendale is currently the writer in residence at Doctor Who Adventures where fortnightly he’s turning out, short, fun, complex tales in around twelve pages. This past story began in the Cavern with The Beatles in a geographically correct Liverpool of the 1960s and ended on an alien world where the locals were using human DNA to extend their lifespan. The story is well paced and the landscape is beautifully described and lucid and the closing moments in particular would be spectacular up on the big screen. I suppose you could say it suffers from the disease that most summer film blockbusters have -- wonderful visuals, technically well directed but ultimately predictable and slightly empty.

Part of the problem too is that outside of the regulars, Baxendale hasn’t created a too memorable cast. It’s the trap of the tie-in novel probably -- you’re not writing anything that would be in a script in the series, but without an actor to breath life into the words, there’s nothing for the reader to hold on to. The members of the city’s ruling forum, whilst genial are generally two-dimension and like the rulers of Trakken or the background time lords in The Deadly Assassin would only really stick in the mind if played by some legendary Shakespearean. The main villain of the peace, Tor Grymna works to a degree, but once his big secret is revealed (and not too hard to guess) he lacks teeth falling into irrational growl mode. Of the slimers, only the main rebel, Revan makes a mark but even he’s rather one dimensional, one for dull terrorism rather than impassioned speeches.

The principal interest then is in the ongoing story of the regulars and thankfully that’s very well handled. It’s made abundantly apparent that with her randomiser fitted, the Doctor relies on Compassion for his freedom and that if he really pissed her off again she could simply dematerialise and leave him and Fitz behind and there’s a moment when he fears that this is exactly what she’s done. But what she’s not telling him is that she can’t -- she’s inherited some of his old TARDIS’s properties, one of which is loyalty. She also notices that Fitz is changing too, gaining a far more complex view of situations than before, but not so much that he can’t have some fun with one of the slave girls of Eskon.

There’s a pretty remarkable conversation towards the end which almost covers the same ground as the one between the Doctor and Captain Jack in Utopia; like the man who would be Boe, Compassion can’t die and is concerned about what that actually means. Eighth is more philosophical than Tenth. He reminds her that he can’t die either (apparently) and that the way he saves himself from the boredom is by travelling and seeing the stars and the people who live around them. That’s not the only new series interest though -- a tragedy is described to the Doctor by one of the venerable old war horses who puts his arm around him and says: “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Next: The Space Age. Oooh -- I hope there are flying cars.

"This is how it feels, now I'm finally smiling on the inside." -- Natalie Imbruglia, 'Glorious'

This one‘s for Annette.

Music Natalie Imbruglia’s wikipedia biography includes an extremely detailed recording history. After the seminal White Lillies Island in 2001, she recorded a third album ready for 2003 which was rejected by the record company as being too rock orientated. She refused to record to fluff with some Scandinavian pop producers to placate her masters and left that company in 2004. Counting Down The Days was released in 2005, and whilst not quite as striking as the earlier two, still had enough power to make you wonder what she’d be doing next. She began work on the official album four at the end of that year and we’re still waiting -- but then you can’t rush perfection. That work is slated to appear early in 2008.

In the meantime, coming this September we have a singles collection which as is the custom nowadays, also features five new songs. I hate that ploy. If you're a fan and a supporter you will have already bought everything else that the artist has produced so you're essentially forking out a tenner plus some coins for a couple of new tracks. Then, beforehand, the record company will release one of the new tracks as a taster, in this case Glorious which you'll inevitably buy making the whole best of proposition even less attractive. Is, then, Natalie's new single, good enough advertising for everything else?

I’ve been desperately trying to avoid the video which has been getting airplay across freeview so that could enjoy it unsullied straight from CD. I think it’s best described as grower. It sees Natalie in happy mood, describing those moments when you discover that yes, actually it is possible for you to know what it’s like to be in love and indeed what it’s like be in love in that special way. In the first verse it’s walking along Frith Street (in Soho?) in the early morning glow in the second verse it’s at home drinking wine and dreaming.

Happy pop is a tricky mix to pull off. As people who listened to Alanis Morissette’s recent albums, being in a good mood and happy does not good records make. On the one hand you’ve got Natasha Beddingfield’s mixed messages in I Wanna To Have Your Babies which is catchy if scary and on the other the cool P45 that was Sheryl Crow’s Wildflower album, eleven Diane Warren-style ballads apparently inspired by her love for now ex-boyf Lance Armstrong which at no point seemed like the work of the somebody who produced any of the previous albums (new rock album coming soon apparently). This is probably somewhere in between, happy without being too cloying about it and with some atmosphere.

It’s also a fairly brave to produce a single like this when the rest of the pop world looks like the Sugababes, Girls Aloud, Lily Allen, Amy Whinehouse and Kylie and I don’t think it’s going to pull over that crowd. But it does make a change to hear pop music purposefully and resolutely unaffected by R&B, D&B or dance music, taking its cues from rock music instead. From the opening acoustic guitar chord onwards, the kind of pop music that can be played with a band on stage sounding much the same, but still making Avril Lavigne sound hardcore, but with an obvious thought and maturity and despite the multiple writing credits somehow very personal. The b-side, That Girl is also pleasingly old school, looking back nostalgically in the direction of Sandie Shaw topping off a package which is just enough to convince me that the singles collection is worth looking forward to after all.

"I didn't mean it in that way." -- Jenny Eden of the Radio Times

Journalism When interviews go bad. Jenny Eden from the Radio Times interviewed chef Marco Pierre White on the occasion of taking over the reality show, Hell's Kitchen. He seems bullish for much of the q&a and then gets the wrong end of the stick during a line of questioning. I won't spoil the thing by pointlessly reproducing the zinger quote (which wasn't printed in the magazine) except to say that the north/south divide is still firmly ingrained in his head.

"'Til it's over and then, It's nice and quiet, But soon again, Starts another big riot." -- Bjork, 'It's Oh So Quiet'

Liverpool Life The fireworks have finished over Liverpool City Centre to celebrate the 800th. Cleverly, our local commercial radio station City FM broadcast a musical soundtrack to punctuate the event which we could see relatively clearly from the flat and about the only time 'Ode To Joy' would be played on there. Best moment? Probably the interpretation of Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet when her sushing was met by glowing fires from the roof of Liverpool Cathedral and then the expected mad rage of fireworks just as she sings 'You blow a fuse...' Am-a-zing.

"Liverpool is not just one of Britain's finest cities, but one of the greatest cities in the world." -- Gordon Brown, Prime Minister

Liverpool Life Today’s Liverpool Echo, in celebrating the city’s 800th birthday, published a list of 800 people who have put Liverpool on the map. As you’d expect in a list that long, it doesn’t exclusively include people from the city and actually spreads the net a bit wider and includes the likes of Michael Heseltine who it argues had a major impact on the place.

That said, although the usual suspects are listed, it’s good to see the likes of Mitch Benn being acknowledged but in some ways it’s not quite as useful as it could be. Obviously I’m biased but at present an unsung hero like Ian Jackson of Art In Liverpool is doing as much as anyone for the culture of the city -- I’ve often attended events and heard people say that they wouldn’t have known about them had it not been for his blog.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery for me was that Liz Sladen who played Doctor Who’s Sarah Jane Smith was born in Liverpool, which means for a couple of years in the seventies, a couple of Liverpudians were flying around space and time (Tom Baker being the other). I’m not sure quite how I managed to miss that information but it highlights one of the things I love about being in a city with such a long and illustrious history -- there’s always something new to discover, however small.

"It's asking for the taking. Trembling, shaking. Oh, my heart is aching." -- Carly Simon

Music Here is an interesting and altogether surprising fact. Of all the seventy-two Proms I’m working may through this season the Michael Ball concert was the one I was least looking forward to and not for the reasons you’d expect. I love musical theatre. I’m not a fanatic, probably in much the same way as I’m not a fanatic any one genre of music, but I think that Chess, Hair, Rent and The Little Shop of Horrors are sublime and since it goes with the territory there’s a range of movie musical which I adore. I have then no problem at all with musical theatre cropping up in the Proms and to be fair, why should I, this being the first season when I’ve actually sat down and listened to any of them.

The problem is the kind of thing that happens when the songs of musical theatre are dragged from their narrative context and presented in the concert style, all of their original subtlety sapped away in the rush to turn them into show stoppers, all drums and keyboards and vocal crescendos. It’s the musical interludes from 3-2-1 and The Two Ronnies, Brian Connelly at the Royal Variety Performance, people being described as legendary and incomparable, compilation albums on the cover of the Sunday Express, vision mixers have a fit at the controls during a television presentation, performers presenting a concert as a musical biography and now talent shows on a Saturday night. It’s the business of making musical theatre accessible to people outside of the west end whilst simultaneously dragging the heart out of them.

Tonight’s concert fulfilled pretty much all of my, what some might see as, prejudices and unfortunately if you're expecting that this is the story of me being won over once again by something I've heard at the Proms, you're going to be disappointed. Within twenty minutes of the opening I was texting a friend saying some not very nice things as the Albert was bathed in production, drums drowning out the orchestra and Michael Ball referencing over and over what a surprise it was to be at the Proms, but an honour and attempting in his own way to cock a snoop at the critics who didn’t think he should be there and talking over and over about his love of musical theatre, all the while doing that one thing that I really dislike about this kind of presentation - it’s not really about the songs its about the personality. True, all of the concerts are about that to some extent, but it's one of the few concerts where people buying tickets totally because of the performer not because of what he's singing. My friend texted back wondering if was on crack (joke) undoubtedly noting I was blowing the thing totally out of proportion.

During the interval, Ball was interviewed by Bell and came across as a pretty genuine chap, high on the excitement of the night and very gracious in the presence of the great Angellica. Then into the second half, when he knuckled town to providing some excellent versions of songs from Bernstein, Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber and Kretzmer I found loads to enjoy actually. Yes, the production was bombast but it’s not horrible to be reminded of the musical interludes from 3-2-1 and The Two Ronnies sometimes. But then he gives Queen’sThe Show Must Go On a right old rollicking and strip mines Carly Simon‘s Wall Street Hymn (Let The River Run) and we’re back where we started. I know neither of those are from musical theatre but they really didn't deserve the treatment they got tonight. But then Love Changes Everything, and I was admittedly singing along ...

How strange is it that what should have been the most accessible concert would turn into an endurance test for me, even more so than all four to six hours of the final section of Wagner's The Ring Cycle? Musical coach David Grant once described something he’d heard on Never Mind The Buzzcocks as ‘the kind of thing that’s liked by people who like that kind of thing’ which is put down but I couldn’t help but think of it when Ball managed to create an epic pause in the middle of Jerusalem. Like the random musical noise which has been been presented as new compositions in some of these Proms, this particular presentation of some excellent music isn’t for me. Others do like it done this way and that’s fine for them and good luck to them and I wished I understood. But just now and then the camera caught the look of someone in the audience perhaps not enjoying themselves as much as you’d think they would consider they’re there or a member of the orchestra glancing balefully in the direction of the front of the stage and know I’m not alone.

Aren’t I a party pooper? Sorry Michael.

The Fall of Yquatine.

Books  Much as I liked The Fall of Yquatine, which is as good a piece of space opera as this series of books has produced and has some wonderful material related to Compassion who after the Doctor waywardly decides to fit a randomiser circuit to her innards spends decades in the time vortex trying to get back to his and Fitz’s position and even has a calendar printed in the front listing the various seasons -- the Yquatine year has 417 days and ten months of roughly 42 days each apparently, rather than simply writing the usual like that/don’t like that kind of review, I want instead to concentrate on the treatment of a single character because in the end Nick Walters’s inability to make the most of her stops the novel from being a classic.  As you‘d expect, there will be minimal spoilers.

The character in question is Arielle, described on the back of the book as ‘the president’s runaway girlfriend’ although she’s far more than that.  The first chapter is spent in her company as we discover that she’s a exobiology student visiting the ill-fated world of Yquatine, central world of the Minerva System to study the many ‘alien’ species that have settled there from within the area and beyond.  She’s described as being ‘beautiful - pale, smooth skin, gleaming golden-brown hair, big brown eyes, and elegant nose and perfect lips’ (whatever they look like).

Insert whichever actress you like in that role -- I’m thinking Rachel Weisz or Jennifer Garner -- mostly because as well as all that, she’s a bit funny, at least at first.  When she’s noticed by some of the locals, she gives them the finger and on entering her first local drinking establishment ends up facing down the reptilian Klingoneque Anthauk with enough bravery that she scores an invite to a reception at the palace that night, a perfect opportunity to do what she does.  By this time, we love her, and love her even more when she meets the aforementioned President Vargeld and isn’t phased by him.  Then after we’re told they fall in love.

She then drops from the story for over eighty pages, whilst the Doctor makes his mistake, Fitz is dumped into the past, Compassion goes a bit mad, the planet is decimated by some superweapon and a two time zone narrative is set up that Steven Moffat would be proud of.  When Arielle does pop up again it’s whilst Fitz is working that bar she visited but crucially we see her from his point of view.  Essentially, her story becomes wrapped in his.  Which doesn’t stop her from becoming more complex.  As they flee the planet, she explains that her beauty is completely manufactured, created by rich parents who didn’t want a gawky looking daughter.

What an interesting character, someone whose has a different body image forced upon her, who has travelled to the one world in her vicinity where her ethereal beauty will be largely be ignored and she can be herself again.  Only to be seduced by its president who it turns out only loves her image not the person she is inside after all, a person who she’s only recently come to terms with after, as she admits, years of fulfilling that image by being a bit of bitch.  It’s like a psychologically complex version of Mean Girls with Freudian influences and extra violence.

Here is what I don’t understand.  Having gone to the trouble of creating this really interesting character, why, half the way through the book she stops being a complete character altogether, the spark knocked out of her.  She’s certainly a presence -- Vargeld is fanatical about her and Fitz ends up spending jail time when the president discovers the time traveller helped his non-fiancĂ© to leave the planet, and he leaves the planet looking for her at just the moment of genocide.  And in the end, she‘s revealed to be the inadvertent reason for that genocide, leading to much soul searching from the Doctor and Fitz, and to spoil that aspect of the book completely, dies in Fitz’s arms.

If I had been Nick Walters I would have seen how useful Arielle is, both as something for Fitz to live for during his prison days and in completing a circle within the finale, helping the gang to talk the pres into doing the right thing.  As it stands, as the Anthauk threaten to blow up the president’s space station unless he signs some treaty giving them power over the system (temporarily deferring war), Compassion impersonates the student to trap the president so that the new TARDIS can them impersonate him and sign the treaty and bring and uneasy peace.  This conclusion is a bit of a cheat; although it demonstrates Compassion’s new powers, it’s played behind the scenes and feels like a dreaded deus ex machina and all too easy.

It is the Doctor Who way of course, especially in the new series, the good ones always die and we have to love them for their death to have resonance.  We have to understand why Fitz would fall in love yet again  (which I still think is as a result of how he was remembered during his resurrection) and what the president, a far more central figure overall is so obsessed by and the only way to do that is to make the target of his affection irresistible.  But it is one of the most tiring aspects of Doctor Who -- why does it have the propensity for producing so many interesting characters and then not knowing what to do with them?

Next:  Coldheart, which is presumably a celebrity historical about Hank Williams.

"Such enthusiasm for the show is encouraging...."

One final dispatch from the past. From Doctor Who Magazine, January 1990:

From the Daily Mirror, June 2007:

"These departures don't mean Doctor Who will be exterminated - the Beeb's drama supremo Jane Tranter has big things planned for the hit sci-fi series. She insists: "One thing is certain, Doctor Who will be around on BBC1 for years to come."

Some things really don't change...

"The British Journal of Telefantasy..."

TV I was at a flea market this morning and found some random old issues of Doctor Who Magazine, and the following which I just had to bring to you...

Bless her. There was always Corners I suppose. Meanwhile, on page fourteen ...

And on page 13:


"British production values are still some of the best in the world, and we would look to do the studio work using BBC facilities and the vast experience of their staff [...] Each adventure could produce more clues in the overall quest - some would be dead ends leading the Doctor back to where he started, others would get him nearer the situation. This would bring back the much needed element of suspense and danger. We would also pare down the proliferation of subplots and violence."

"How stupid do you have to be to not know a film isn't in English? Ridiculous." - rayz, posting to Guardian Unlimited

Film Ever been duped into seeing a foreign film? Well no, but I have been in cinemas with people who have. There's always that moment when someone speaks on screen, and as happened when I went to see Almodovar's Volver, some teenager at the back says: "Eeee -- it's got subtitles..."

"There's no news, boys, so go out there and make some news." -- Fred Friendly, 'Good Night and Good Luck'

TV Jeremy Paxman's James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture in full: "The difficulty is that I see precious little evidence that anyone is grappling with this question. In fact, I don’t see much evidence anyone knows which way is up. Or to put it another way, it’s not that the television industry doesn’t have a compass. It’s that too often it doesn’t even seem sure any longer that North exists. [...] There has been a catastrophic, collective loss of nerve." [via]

"What exists on the site is a mirror image of what exists in real life." -- Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook

Facebook ... and the perils of prodigious sociability. Meg Pickard on knowing who your real friends are: "There’s something about Facebook which encourages possibly ill-advised blind over-information, to the point that (via status updates, photos, relationship updates and more) I now know when people’s personal circumstances change from being “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated” (never a good sign) or “single” (and I never know what to say - “sorry”? “congratulations”?); whether they’re looking for “anything they can get” (which sounds sinister, somehow) or just “friends”; when they go out and get pissed (and the drunken facebook wall-to-wall conversations they have when under the influence); their religious and political views (and I’m actually quite surprised, in some cases); the terrible haircut they had when they were at university plus what they looked like on their wedding day; how they feel at any particular moment and perhaps nosiest of all, who else they know."
Also from 2004: The Face Behind thefacebook.com: Exclusive Interview With Mark Zuckerberg

"This above all: to thine own self be true..." -- Polonius, 'Hamlet'

Shakespeare Bill Bryson on the case against people who have a case against the bard being the author of the canon: "So it needs to be said that nearly all of the antiShakespeare sentiment – actually all of it, every bit – involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping misstatements of fact. Shakespeare “never owned a book”, a writer for The New York Times gravely informed readers in one doubting article in 2002. The statement cannot be refuted, for we know nothing about his incidental possessions. But the writer might just as well have suggested that Shakespeare never owned a pair of shoes."