This Daft Old Face

TV A couple of final links for old time's sake. Firstly:

Doctor Who: Revolutionary Or Tool Of The Man?

Semi-satirical investigation into the Doctor's political leanings using statistical analysis, assuming that real world events are mirrored in the Whoniverse (the author clearly hasn't been within a dragon's breath of AHistory, either volume). Lawrence Miles addresses this very point at some length during the Interference epic in which the character is called upon to explain exactly why he's quite happy to fly about time and space knocking off abusive governments but when it comes to other regimes, particularly on Earth he's rather more circumspect.

I don't remember an answer really being forthcoming other than some deep dish anguish although my understanding has always been that if the Doctor is aware of a status quo before he gets there he can't change it without there being consequences (see Father's Day etc.) but if the situation's totally new to him he can rebel away. Which would explain why he's never specifically gone to meet a young Hitler and tried to persuade him to persevere with his painting (ala John Cusack in the film Max) or whatever. Plus it seems to have been established that Earth has a special place in the web of time, on one of the causal fault lines.

"for the New Year we transformed our coat closet into a time-traveling space ship" [via]

Which is very clever even if, as Steven Moffat would point out, the windows are the wrong size. If this was dimensionally transcendental it would be a neat way to store your entire wardrobe without having to build an extension on your house. After all, doesn't Tardis actually sound like the kind of product name IKEA would give their furniture lines? In fact most of the current real furniture names -- Pax, Hemnes, Aspelund and Mongstad -- all sound like characters from the new series.

Natalie Portman, neuroscientist

Which at first glance would seem to have nothing to do with Doctor Who (other than to say she'd make a smashing companion), except the paper that she co-wrote, "Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy" is about looking into child's brains to find out how they work. Imagine the Fear Factor and the fear factor if in future the BBC simply recorded infant brain activity to discover how to scare the bejesus out of us...


Comics The marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane is no more. In a recent issue of The Amazing Spiderman, Pete made like Faustus and agreed to let Mephisto retcon his marriage out of existence in order to save Aunt May from which means that twenty year’s worth of comic book stories have been wiped from Marvel continuity including the recent reveal of his secret identity. It’s a bold move to be sure and like all of these things will probably be reversed in six months. But Marvel for now are saying that won’t be the case and this is the status quo from now onwards.

The only comics I’ve read in recent years have featured a timelord or been written by Joss Whedon so I shouldn’t be too outraged about this but really doesn’t it stink? Retcons are nothing new in comics and reformats at DC have been common enough that the writer's got in a real twist, dropping in and destroying alternate timelines left, right and centre. Marvel has tended to be more subtle and indeed have created a whole new Ultimates universe just for the purpose of wiping away continuity and starting again in a contemporary setting.

But the problem with this move is that it disrespects the emotional investment that fans have put into the characters over the years. The book’s current writer J. Michael Straczynski wasn’t too happy with the development (since it wipes out the work he’s invested in the book) and refused to rewrite the history, so Marvel’s president Joe Quesada apparently did the deed himself. Here’s some great commentary on that and all the other issues that it throws up, particularly to do with how it effects the whole Marvel universe since Spider-man is one of the linchpin characters and so his is not the only line that’s changed theoretically.

Unless they’re really smart and the life of Peter Parker is the only thing that’s been changed and everyone else still remembers what really happened. So Spidey still thinks his secret identity is intact but everyone else knows who he really is. [geek] I really suspect though that this whole thing is going to resemble the Star Trek episode Yesterday's Enterprise and everything'll be put back the way it was by the end of the year.[/geek]

"Did I regret it or do I regret it now? Not for a second." -- Gillian Anderson

Film Gillian Anderson's been keeping an irregularly updated blog for a few years. Last April she addressed the whole apparent love/hate relationship she had with co-star David Duchovny on The X-Files and what she says pretty much closes the book on it (at least for me) Oh and the new film is being shot back in Vancouver, which is where it was when the show was at its best. Can't wait.

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair go mad for the new Indiana Jones films, but I'm sure you've read that already. There are some on-line only interview with Steven and George (who's still clearly in denial about the Star Wars prequels). The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is essentially an attempt to recreate the look, pacing and character of the first three movies which sounds like as much of an experiment in style as Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven and Steven Soderbergh's The Good German.

"I'm flinching, now. Something bad's going to happen, I can just feel it." -- Anna Pickard

TV Anna live blogs the celebrity Big Brother hijack thing: "Jeremy's a cock. Sorry, sorry, Jeremy is a public schoolboy and a racing driver and a self-confessed arrogant, competitive young man. And I'm not allowed to call him a cock, because yes, yes, this is the children's edition and I know you're not allowed to call children things like that. Does seem a *bit* like he might be a bit of a cock when he grows up, though."

"It’s like our time together is just ours: it’s our own creation." -- Celine, 'Before Sunrise'

Film Love and Fate in The Clock and Before Sunrise -- comparing similar films fifty years apart: "The aspect of each film that I want to look at here is its apparent attitudes towards the notion of fate - specifically the idea that fate is being something that controls love. It is a long-perpetuated convention of romance and romantic comedy that, not only will the love the film’s two protagonists feel for each other at its end survive, but that it will survive because it is fate that has brought the lovers together. This convention means that the audience understands the characters to not have full control over their destinies."

“I sense a… conflict, and a clash of philosophies between you and your family…”

Blog! Someone's begun blogging properly again and goodness me is it brilliant: "One Sunday when I was seventeen, I went with some friends to a local psychic fair. I’m not entirely sure why we went. We were mildly curious, but it was more to do with having nowhere else to go, or anything else to do that night. Oh, and we had a gram of speed between us, and didn’t want to spend the evening whizzing our tits off to Songs of Praise."

"When we look back on the noughties, how will we remember them?" -- The Guardian

Film The G2 section of today's Guardian was given over to an amazing collection of essays suggesting "the events, objects and trends that will come to define the first decade of the 21st century." Since it doesn't include the subject I'd be most interested in and I've decided to try and fill in the gap. Sadly, I fear, I'm no Jess Cartner-Morley but I've tried my best. And so...

The movies

Stuart Ian Burns
Wednesday January 2, 2008
the feeling listless blog

Future cineastes will remember the noughties as the digital decade. Computers have not only changed the way that films are made but also delivered. Clearly the roots of this transition can be traced back to the eighties when music could be bought on shiny disc rather than relatively reflective black plastic and into the nineties with Jurassic Park resurrecting the dinosaurs albeit without actually cloning anything. But it’s in this decade that these innovations have flourished and changed the way that popcorn chompers interact with movies.

During the commentary for his extended edition of King Kong, the film’s direct Peter Jackson, having already brought some of the decades most potent images during his Lord of the Rings adaptation, marvels at how anything is now possibly visually when pixels are engaged. Not quite – as Final Fantasy and Beowolf have demonstrated convincing photo-realistic actors in close-up from scratch are yet to come and Joanna Cassidy’s head still needed to be engaged to replace the visage of the stunman who blundered through the windows during her character’s death scene in the redux of Blade Runner.

But as this illustrates there’s no denying that the acronym CGI is now used throughout the industry as almost every film, and not just in the fantasy and science fiction genres are taking advantage of artificial ways of manipulating the image to the point that it’s almost impossible to believe anything we viewers are see anymore and arguably judging by some of summer’s threequel offerings far from releasing creativity, it’s stultified the narrative impulse to an embarrassing degree, making the foregrounded images more important than story.

Digital colour timing also means that a cinematographer no longer has to rely upon their camera when painting with light – and the use of digital cameras during the process makes this transition even easier. Star Wars: Episode Two: Attack of the Clones was arguably the first film shot, edited and in some place projected totally digitally and this process is slowly becoming the norm; as the price of blockbusters overinflates, the biggest cash suck – literally the negative and also the duplication of prints -- is being removed from the equation.

Nay-sayers (sounding not unlike vinylists when criticise cds and mp3) argue that digital films are too static and lack the warmth of their analogue cousins. But directors from Michael Mann to Robert Roderguez and even Steven Spielberg promote the flexibility of digital shooting and its ability to inspire young filmmakers who can now apparently make and edit movies in their bedrooms. All is not lost though – the new Indiana Jones adventure is being shot on film.

Yet like music since the eighties, the audience’s interaction with film has been led by something small round and circular. Whilst television and then video undoubtedly opened-up the ability of the viewer to see material which otherwise would have become lost in the mists of old Hollywood, the relative cheap to reproduce dvds have made large sections of the history of cinema almost instantly accessible for the first time. Unlike tv and tape we no longer even have to wait for a film to be broadcast or turn up amongst the limited stock at the local video emporium – the likes of Lovefilm (or Netflix in the US) can deliver every disc ever released through the letterbox – presuming they’re in stock at the time.

Whilst the core audience predominantly continue to watch new releases, they’re still vastly more cineliterate than ever before and the quality of presentation has improved with films appearing in the home much as they are in the cinema – correct ratios and five channels of stereo and with high definition discs with an even better picture quality. Even if the pictures themselves are fake, we’re able to see them with unprecedented clarity and strangely unlike those vinylists, few say they prefer video – except film study students having to present a particular scene to their classmates. No doubt though by the end of the next decade, dvds will look rather quaint to the teenagers who’re having the Star Wars trilogies, released on yet another format, being projected directly onto their retinas.

Beautiful Chaos.

Books I watched the final three episodes of season four again last night for the first time since they were transmitted. There are some episodes which you can watch over and over again but others which require you to be in the right mood because you know what state you’ll be in at the end. I was right; during that final scene in the rain were the Doctor says goodbye to Wilf, I was in pieces (even though the sound mix meant you could hear every rain drop hitting Tennant’s coat). Say what you like about the science and fiction of that story but as ever Russell T Davies understands how to make us care for his inventions. Gary Russell’s Beautiful Chaos is essentially the emotional intensity of that scene spread out across two hundred and thirty-six pages.

The novel is an attempt to explain Wilf’s salute to the Doctor in that scene; they’ve had an adventure together, sparked by the discovery of a new star. The novel is bookended by scenes set beyond Journey’s End with Mr. Mott reflecting backwards, on a missing adventure, the usual stuff about a supercomputer taking over the world via an iPod clone. It’s exactly the kind of runaround which is the franchise’s stock in trade, with screwball repartee between the central partners in crime, explosions, UNIT references and bit with a cat. I’ll not reveal the source of evil, but I guarantee that when you read page ninety-nine of this one you’ll be giving your best Donna Noble impression, like I did: “You’re kidding me…” (assuming you’ve not worked it out already).

And it won’t be the last time as Russell unsubtly explains when Beautiful Chaos takes place in relation to chronology of Doctor Who, filling in the odd plot hole and foreshadowing even some of the events that are to come and all (without requiring the old BBC Books device of actually listing the placement on the back of the book) and acting for all the world like he's anticipating another volume of Lance Parkin's Ahistory. He doesn’t just stop at the tv series; the book also follows the recent trend of mentioning old spin-off media in new spin-off media with one outrageous paragraph alluding to a BBC past doctor novel, a Big Finish Sarah Jane Smith audio and a Doctor Who Magazine comic strip with the Seventh Doctor. The Next Doctor’s wall projections is subtle by comparison.

Still, the author is professional enough not to allow these canonicity games to overshadow the emotional core of the story. The Doctor returns Donna to her own time so that she can visit her mum on the anniversary of her father’s death. We're delving deeply into the dynamics of the Noble family and poignantly, considering what happened during the making of the television series, how Wilf has stepped in to fill the gap left by Sylvia’s husband. It’s subject only tackled vaguely on-screen within the alternate reality of Turn Left, but here the proper Whoniverse version is laid bare with the Doctor discovering exactly why this mother doesn’t appreciate him taking her daughter away. It’s about how we deal with grief and how if we’re lucky someone else can come along to fill in the space left in our lives when our loved ones have gone.

So perfectly does Russell capture the Noble family and the actors playing them, particular Bernard Cribbins, that now and then you have to remind yourself that you’ve not already seen this story on screen; you could almost imagine this to be a novelisation (especially with Gary's track record). But what impresses even more is the author’s ability to knot all of these dispirit story strands together so that unlike the television version at times, the local and global elements dovetail and draw from one another and not just in terms of simply putting the Nobles in danger. To say much more would give far too much away, but I’d prepare yourself and have the hankies you got for Christmas tucked up your sleeve ready. You know, just in case.
Medicine Stephen Fry has posted x-rays of his broken arm. Nasty. "Quite a smash as you can see and it has taken me some time to recover both tissues and spirits."

"For me it began with a call from Stuart Doughty." -- Stephen Gallagher

TV TV writer Stephen Gallagher discusses his work on the nineties BBC action series BUGS. He was but a writer yet still had quite a lot of creative influence:
"the phone rang again.

It was Stuart. I remember his words exactly: "Brian says that we'll take as many of these as you can possibly do."

And my reply: "Well, Stuart, I do have an idea that might make another story. But it would all depend on whether you could get me a submarine."

There was a pause. Then, in words chosen with great care:

"All I can say at this stage is that I can't see any reason why not."
I was something of a fan of BUGS back in the day. I wonder if it still holds up now.

"Saturday night, I watched channel five, I particularly liked CSI." -- Kate Nash, 'We Get On'

Music For over a year, Guardian Unlimited has been running a New Band of the Day column in which they talk up some new singer or group. It's actually a great way for some unknowns to get a fragment of exposure, much needed in the post-John Peel world. It's also been surprisingly successful in predicting some successes. The Wombats are in there, as well as Amy Macdonald and All Angels. And, nearly a year ago when she was still with an indie label, look who's knocking about at No.20 -- it's the artist behind one of my favourite albums of the year, Made of Bricks. It's Kate Nash:
"And talk about fate. Less than a year ago the aspiring actress was rejected by the Bristol Old Vic theatre, so to cheer herself up she saw Brokeback Mountain in Harrow, where she fell down some stairs and broke her - no, not back, foot. Her mum and dad bought her a guitar, and, stuck in bed for three weeks, she wrote songs and recorded them on her laptop."
The title of this post features what might be my favourite lyric of the year. The album's full of them.

"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." -- Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Science How do you go to the toilet in the Antarctic? From the experts: "Number 1 It’s freezing, everything turns solid in moments so what do you do? Your best friend is your pee bottle; you carry it everywhere, tucked inside your fleece. At night it shares your sleeping bag along with your drinking water bottle. Never mix them up. A discreet place and a good aim and you are happy."

Not Review 2007: Corrections and Clarifications

Errors In my review of the festive tv offerings I said:
"The limit is probably ITV’s Countdown to Midnight: Take That and Guests at the O2 Arena (the guests being the Sugababes) which we’re informed ‘includes a live countdown to the arrival of 2008’ which is about as ambiguous a phrase as these things can get (do they really expect us to believe that Gary and friends at the O2 gigging and not with their families?)."
Having reviewed the evidence -- well the concert during its umpteen repeats today across the ITV channels -- it really looks as though take Take That, the current Sugababes line-up, Kate Thornton and assorted people did indeed spend New Year on stage and in the O2 arena -- with footage being played in from the Thames and everything. Well done to them for that and to ITV for taking the trouble this year to do something other than show some film as they have in the past five odd years.

Additionally in my list of the best films of the year I suggested that Hot Fuzz was not as good as Shaun of the Dead, a statement I've now decided was wrong. It's at least as good as Shaun of the Dead. I spent Saturday night watching it with my parents who laughed from the minute Bill Nighy appeared on screen and didn't stop until the end credits where upon my mum described it as 'Brilliant' which probably made Christmas (amongst other things). They're even talking about watching it again so that they can see all the things they missed which is something I haven't heard from them about a film in ages. So yes, I was wrong about that too.

Their names fit their jobs #1

TV Midlands weather girl, Sara Blizzard.

Not Review 2007: Television

TV I was pleased as gluvine to able to contribute to Off The Telly's 2007 in review round-up. As usual I wrote far more text than could possibly be used, so here are the deleted scenes/unexpurgated notions:

Party Animals
and the two new episodes of The Thick of It offered somewhat differing interpretations of Westminster politics, the impression being that the reality was somewhere in between. The pre-publicity for the former suggested nothing less than a bonkfest between the Houses but instead delivered a West Wing-style romantic yet intelligent drama with real heart that potentially failed to find an audience because it tried to convince the viewer that someone in the opposing party is a real human being. The latter lacked that problem by portraying everyone as equally cretinous, blissfully funny, with a career best performance from Peter Capaldi, providing some of the most quotable lines of the year – “You were like a sweaty octopus trying to unhook a bra.”. It might well have been the best comedy and it would be a tragedy if writer Armando Ianucci decides to call it a day after the conviction of first series stalwart Chris Langan.

The Peter Serafinovich Show was the little sketch comedy that could. Not quite as polished as Look Around You, Serafinovich still managed to include enough spot-on parodies of everything from Television Shopping to E! News to suggest that a magnum opus is still in the offering. Predictably, given that he was the voice of Darth Maul, the sketch of the series featured Darth Vader falling in love; but it pleasingly expected its audience to remember an Acting Masterclass with Michael Caine from the late nineties and to be a aware of the moustached shouter from daytime insurance commercials. About the only niggle was that with the repeat uncanny impressions of the unpredictable likes of Alan Alda and the nailing into the ground of jokes about various types of chatlines (‘Would you like a one-to-one with a caveman?’) you weren’t entirely sure if the whole thing was a gentle evisceration of the sketch show format as a whole, viciously pointing out its weaknesses.

was the best new genre series of the year despite the often meandering narrative and the constant drift into thudding portentousness, typified by the poetic voiceover that topped and tailed many episodes which I don’t think I ever paid attention to. If nothing was ever quite as exciting as the opening episode, with time-travelling Hiro’s exuberant scream in Time Square before discovering an upcoming apocalypse, by episode nine and the introduction of Zachary Quinto’s charismatic Sylar you were hooked by the twists, turns and surprises. Crucially unlike the increasingly stodgy Lost, creator Tim Kring was careful to provide the audience with enough answers to keep them interested and a definite impression that a masterplan is in place. Only now and then were the characters seemingly struck dumb by the needs of the plot – why wouldn’t invincible cheerleader Claire, having discovered that her biological mother is in contact with her biological father, ask what his name is !?!

Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip in contrast could never quite decide what it wanted to be, at times as political as The West Wing at others a full blooded romantic comedy which its rumoured was down to studio interference. This lack of clear tone potentially led to its downfall as did the fact that this was a sometimes drama about the making of a comedy show that wasn’t at all funny except when someone was doing an impression of Nicholas Cage or Holly Hunter because it featured topic jokes about news in a fictional universe. It was never less than thoroughly entertaining though with Matthew Perry proving that there was more to him than Chandler Bing and Sarah Poulson who’s impressed in a range of co-starring roles for years and really deserves to be in a hit one of these days. One of the best drama scenes of the year was between these two as their character’s eight year on-off romance was rolled out in mere minutes, linked by a perpetual discussion over the validity of the Bible, demonstrating that religion really shouldn’t come between two people who are in love.

The Secret Life of the Motorway was another example of what BBC Four do so well – taking a potentially uninteresting subject and rendering it fascinating. In this case it was by highlighting the human element to these otherwise grey necessities. In the first episode it was revealed that there were so many Irish immigrants working on the M1 that four priests were employed to minister to them and their families. The second offered one of the great documentary interviews of the year as two pensioners sat eating breakfast in a service station. He waxed lyrical about how much he loved going there because the staff were so friendly and all the interesting people he’d met (listing most of them) and then when she was asked what she liked about the place, his wife said sharply ‘I hate coming here’. The third introduced the political dimension, outline the bizarre plan of running motorways directly through Central London and the protest pressure which led to their cancellation.

I also have as soft spot for the latest National Lottery gameshow, Who Dares Wins. These things tend to be far too talky and a bit pants but on this occasion they’ve struck upon a brilliant premise. Carried genially by unlikely host Nick Knowles, this reverse engineers Name That Tune in a general knowledge environment with two sets of total strangers (matched at the beginning) betting on how many examples of a particular subject they or their opposition can guess. Early in the series a couple of women who looked like shopping channel survivors flummoxed a pair of cocky bespeckled students by being able to name fifteen Carry One films and to add insult to injury, mostly the obscure ones. Much of the time its impossible not to be shouting answers at the screen as you attempt to name thirteen George Clooney movies or in the case of the champions board (with fifty grand at stake) twenty-five daily newspapers, kicking yourself when they reveal the full list and you’d forgotten about Intolerable Cruelty or The Scotsman. If this was the 1980s, Addictive Games would already have brought out a version for the ZX Spectrum.

Worth it for the infuriated letters to the Radio Times, Joe’s Palace was another triumph from tv’s current best auteur Stephen Poliakoff. Always surprising – the Antique’s Roadshow interlude a particular treat – the writer/director has never been interested in giving the audience the complete story and this time it was the turn of simple Joe (a winning performance from newcomer Danny Lee Wynter) to be our eyes and ears, simplifying quite complex relationships and happenings. Some criticised for the apparent sudden injection of Holocaust fear in what was otherwise a gentle mystery, but that misunderstands the real point of the piece which like the earlier Perfect Strangers revealed that every family has its darker secrets which can inform or infuriate later generations. If Michael Gambon was predictably good, Kelly Reilly was perhaps most memorable, the sad figure in Rupert Penry-Jones’s cabinet minister’s thrall unable to find any satisfaction with life.

This was a vintage year too for Doctor Who, over the vague jitters of its second series with only the Dalek story betraying a lack of confidence. If the finale disappointed some because Tennant’s timelord was reduced to a CG character leaving little time for sparring with the newly resurrected Master (deliciously delivered by John Simm) it was the two part story Human Nature/The Family of Blood and Doctor-lite double banker Blink which both deserved instant classic status and ironically both stories were about a lack of the timelord. In the first the lonely God became a human in order to hide from the aliens of the week – not because he was scared of them, but frightened of what he himself was capable of in dealing with their threat. In the second, it was up to a contemporary girl to follow the convoluted plan of a trapped in the 60s Doctor.

Both works illustrated just how multifarious the franchise has become, with shocking enough monsters for the kids and weighty themes for adults and in the midst of that some shattering performances from the likes of Jessica Hynes and Carey Mulligan, whose Sally Sparrow is surely the best companion we might never had. Blink in particular featured some amazing dialogue (‘I have until the rain stops’ ‘I'm clever, and I'm listening. Now don't patronise me, 'cause people have died and I'm not happy. Tell me.’ ‘Gotta dash, things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things and a lizard.’ Etc.) which along with his Children In Need special confirmed that writer Steven Moffat would be a perfect show-runner should Russell T Davies decide to leave after the show’s gap year.

The second and final series of Life on Mars disappointed after embracing a formula, much of the time treading water until the fate of Sam Tyler was revealed. All of the performers did their best with the material, but all too often it would find itself in a quagmire of issues of the week (this is the one about institutional racism, about immigration, about drugs) and Tyler related tomfoolery that confused more than intrigued. The downbeat ending was still exhilarating though, riskily providing closure whilst suggesting the death of its lead character. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequel, Ashes-To-Ashes, deals with that.

What frustrated most about the Blue Peter scandals was the lack of imagination at their heart. As Mark Curry explained during a particularly heated discussion on the BBC Breakfast couch the morning after the phone-in subterfuge broke, in days gone by instead of simply wheeling in a child to pretend to be a competition winner, they would have spun it into an item, explaining how and why the phones went down. That said there have been a range of other mishaps in the show’s history including having to replace Petra and the odd tortoise, but the difference is that those didn’t come to light until years later whereas lately its been impossible to obscure anything from anyone.

Not Review 2007: Predictions

That Day That time of year anyway. Last year I decided to be very specific with my predictions. Let's see what happened shall we?

Bush forced to resign.
Clearly not. The man is staying at his desk until he has to be forcibly removed. Who'll replace him? Any democrat will do, although I think Hillary will just sneak in.

Blockbusters become less solvent. An increase in the popularity of art house type products. It'll be like the 1970s!
Actually I was half right -- PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP were appointed joint administrators of ChoicesUK plc ('ChoicesUK') on 22nd August 2007 (according to their ghostly website which is still talking up the release of Norbit). What'll I do with my membership card now? Given this was the summer of the threequel I think we can quietly skip over the last part.

People will watch even less television in a pronounced way.
Ratings are down across the board even in multi-channel homes. But I meant people would just stop watching television and do something less boring instead. Actually they're just watching other things and on-line more. To be honest, since The Proms, it's been more like I've been watching even less television in a pronounced way.

There will be a very unlikely celebrity marriage.
Does Billie Piper and one of the Foxes count? This wasn't really fair since there's always one or two and arguably, here's a page full of them. I didn't know Steve had married someone literally half his age.

My life is going to change in a big way. Again.
Well I'm working two jobs; no matches or hatches though.

So for the older version of me and to be a bit of a technologist:

The HD-DVD/Blue-Ray thing will be won by someone and the price of dvds is going to drop like a stone.

Broadband will get sorted out in the UK and it'll be much cheaper.

As will technology overall. A consumer laptop costing less than a hundred pounds will go on sale in supermarkets.

A UK blogger will break the biggest news scandal of the year.

RSS feeds will really go mainstream ...

"Give me one more night...." -- Phil Collins, 'One More Night'

Life This is a strange kind of limbo, the day before the end of the year, nearly a week since Christmas. I'm back at work come next weekend, so every day feels like it should count, I should be doing something really worthwhile, even though in the coming weeks I know I'd relish the chance just to be able to do nothing with a day other than watching BBC Shakespeare's Othello or listen to the Hot Fuzz dvds commentaries, read this, and moan at the news, as the world looks increasingly broken.

Right now I'm listening to 80s compilation LPs on my new turntable, which means music which regularly turns up School Reunion cds but in its original native crackly form. Right now, I'm on NOW 5, with a pig on the cover and Duran Duran's A View To A Kill as the opening track. This one has a surprisingly good strike rate in terms of longevity music , except for The Power Station's cover version of Get It On which is an electronic travesty. Predictably the Wikipedia lists them all with track listings. I haven't reached Steve Arrington yet.

"Insanity is knowing that what you're doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can't stop it." -- Elizabeth Wurtzel

Law Elizabeth Wurtzel interviewed on the occasion of her graduation from law school. The writer spends most of the wordage ploughing over old ground but it does include a new photo and comments from her professor: “We read an article by one prominent scholar,” he said, “and she raised her hand and said, ‘He’s very pompous, isn’t he?’ Which is very true, but you don’t know how to respond to that.”
Also: Wurtzel crops up amongst Kelly Kreth's "writers I’d like to fuck".

"When the time is right, we will emerge and take our rightful place as the supreme power of the UNIVERSE! " -- Daleks, 'Genesis of the Daleks'

TV Wil Wheaton's just discovered Doctor Who:
"The best thing about being a geek who makes a living writing about geek stuff is that I get to do the things I love and not feel like I'm goofing off. So even though I was sitting on the couch watching Genesis of the Daleks for the entire afternoon, I felt like I was being productive."
I'm sure there's some kind of scientific term for this, but the thought of Wesley Crusher grown up watching the 'Have I the right' scene certainly warms the cockles. To answer his questions:

(1) Whovians. Although I haven't heard that being used in since the show went on extended hiatus (how can a show be canceled if it keeps coming back and continuing the same story?). I think it's most Doctor Who fans these days. Or BBC viewers.

(2) It's all grotesquely uneven, which is a tradition that is still being continued in the new series. Which is probably why we love it so -- if it was perfect we'd have nothing to moan about. But really, there wasn't any excuse to follow up The Caves of Androzani with The Twin Dilemma. But that means ...

(3) That although the 80s looks like a very fallow period for the show there is still a range of really decent stories but they tend not to be the norm because the production staff were over worked, underbudgeted and usually didn't have time to see what was really working and what wasn't. Most of it was on instinct so most of the classics were happy accidents.

(4) I don't know that people feud about Doctors so much as production eras. Tom Baker's tenure can be broken down very clearly into the Hinchcliffe era (gothic), Williams era (undergraduate humour) and Nathan Turner (weird) and even McCoy's three years can be split between the spoon playing of the first year into the mad manipulator playing through the final two. Everyone seems to be a fan of some of it. The problem with picking Doctors is that there are people who really, really hated the Colin Baker tv stories but love his Big Finish audio dramas which have rather rehabilitated his reputation.

[I'd usually post something like this on Behind The Sofa but since that's about to go through some kind of regenerative cycle ...]