"roundup of arrests, detentions and surveillance since January"

German woman spends decade in Palma's airport
Hopefully life won't become more difficult for her now that she's become more widely noticed.

Simon Pegg Interviews Edgar Wright and Jessica Hynes about SPACED
Hilarity most definitely ensues. The gang have been in the US promoting the dvd release of the series and its been quite surreal reading the countless reports and news articles about a series which was originally on here in the late nineties, but they're having to treat as something new for this audience, explaining the point of the thing and often why there are just a dozen or so episodes. On this occasion, Pegg takes over the mike because the interviewer (clearly a little worse for wear) had been hit on the head by a support beam at the Comic-Con.

BBC pulls the plug on Holby Blue
I was quite positive about this back in the day though I drifted away somewhere in that first season. It ultimate fell between two stools -- trying to ape the US style whilst simultaneously trying not to be The Bill. It's odd how this kind of cop show seems like such a spent force over here, whereas across the atlantic and elsewhere they run and run.

Olympic Challenge
Index on Censorship rounds up the Games related "roundup of arrests, detentions and surveillance since January"

Daphne And Celeste Getting Bottled At Reading 2000
What makes this amusing isn't just the ferocity of the attack -- the crowd were clearly waiting for them -- but also the determination of the girls to carry on regardless and even launch into a second song and managing to put in a half decent performance. I've always thought D&C where ahead of their time; in the present climate, their brand of pop seems positively revolutionary.

Is like an ultra-focused Google News which only selects sources based on how authoratitive they seem to be about the subject, mixing bloggers and professionals and professional bloggers.

Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD
There was a time when the most imaginative stories from the Roddenburyverse/Trekkieverse/any ideas? were in comic book form -- this new dvd-rom collects together the complete history of the franchise in ink across the various publishing houses it bounced through across the decades. Some of the Marvel Comics which came in the wake of The Motion Picture were surreal; example: "There's No Space Like Gnomes"!

Elizabeth Wurtzel: Rehab Nation: The Only Way to Say You're Sorry
Audio column from a couple of years ago in which Wurtzel "says that going into rehab after you've seriously screwed up is the only way to show contrition in the public eye." So that's what she sounds like.

"Why won’t people: think more?"

Meme Links and memes. Anyone looking in lately would think that I'm neglecting the blog. But I'm really not. But what with this. that and the other it just seems easier to have everything up here in handy, sometimes meaty, sometimes lean chunks, something for you to look at in the limited time I have at the moment. But enough of the moaning by way of an apology and onward with the following, seen at Zoe's place:

1. My uncle once: was in the airforce. The first time I went abroad was to visit him at the air force base and I discovered that military life was not for me.

2. Never in my life: drunk hard liquer to oblivion

3. When I was five: I got lost on a boat

4. High school was: a learning experience

5. I will never forget: that so long as your standing up and walking around and breathing everything will be ok.

6. Once I met: the actress Gina McKee. Have I ever told you that story?

7. There’s this boy I know: who needs a haircut

8. Once, at a bar: I was so drunk my legs gave way under me

9. By noon, I’m usually: falling asleep

10. Last night: I watched the Olympic opening ceremony. All of it. Even the parade of atheletes.

11. If only I had: an idea.

12. Next time I go to church: I'll make sure there isn't a service going on.

13. What worries me most: is that I'll not break the cycle.

14. When I turn my head left I see: cds,

15. When I turn my head right I see: more cds.

16. You know I’m lying when: I giggle.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: knowing that the yeat 2000 was so long away.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: Prospero. Oh yes.

19. By this time next year: I hope to have an idea.

20. A better name for me would be: The Man Who Was Nearly There

21. I have a hard time understanding: ignorance

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: know how to talk to girls. Oh wait do you mean then or now, because it's now that would be ... ewe ...

23. You know I like you if: I make idiotic jokes and then try and help you with your problems.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: my mum and dad.

25. Take my advice, never: say no, if it's easy to say yes. Unless you reallu don't want to.

26. My ideal breakfast is: bacon on toast.

27. A song I love but do not have is: 'Desolation Row' by Bob Dylan. Highway 61 Revisited soundtracked my school art lessons.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: Visit both cathedrals. Compare, contrast.

29. Why won’t people: think more?

30. If you spend a night at my house: enjoy the view

31. I’d stop my wedding for: not having anyone to marry yet.

32. The world could do without: us.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: watch anything featuring Martin Lawrence.

34. My favourite blonde(s) is/are: Kylie, Billie, Lalla which makes me horifylingly predictable. Liz and Caro, are you still out there?

35. Paper clips are more useful than: toothpicks which can leave splinters.

36. If I do anything well it’s: finding the answer even if no one's asked the question.

37. I can’t help but: be positive, because if I'm not, what else is there?

38. I usually cry: very easily.

39. My advice to my child/nephew/niece: see questions 22, 29 and 5

40. And by the way: I've just remembered something. But I can't tell you and even if I could, you wouldn't believe me.

"It's a beacon, a beacon of hope..." -- Huw Edwards

Sport There’s little doubt that the Olympic opening ceremony was spectacular, as eye catching as all of director Yimou Zhang’s films with an army of performers recreating Chinese history alongside a luminous light show which is easily one of the best ever. I’m just at the beginning of the parade of athletes with the local choice of order (based on strokes and characters rather than alpha numeric) creating a sense of disorientation (Turkey? Already?). The pipe band playing Scotland the Brave is a suitably surreal addition as are what look like cow-girls ringing the stadium.

The BBC’s presentation also a welcome change with ‘Crazy’ Carrie Gracie and Huw Edwards providing a journalistic and cultural background and Hazel Irving filling in for David Coleman in the bewildered reading out of the prepared text. It wasn’t until some way in though, when Huw used the word ‘hope’ that the Doctor Who fan gene within took it’s chance for freedom and I was reminded that in the season two episode Fear Her – the one set during the London games which included the in hindsight horrific image of the Doctor lighting the Olympic flame -- Mr. Edwards provided much the same duties.

Oh how we laughed at the clear inaccuracy of Huw's commentary – from Jon on Behind The Sofa at the time: “News 24's remit is entirely different and given the charter renewal debates going on now it's clear that although the channel might cover the opening ceremony as a news event, it wouldn't include the sycophantic commentary that Huw Edwards served up.” Oh really? Having heard some of the commentary here, it just shows how accurate Matthew Graham’s script was in capturing the flavour of what’s usually said at these things.

At about minute seven …
Elsewhere The reason I haven't been writing much here. Some new reviews at Behind The Sofa. Endgame & The Stranger, the latter of which is not safe for work for reasons which will become clear. I'll never look at Paul McGann in quite the same way again.

No Text

Hello. Today's links used to have exciting commentary until I lost the post in a wierd Blogger related accident. Here they are anyway, but you'll have to guess about the gripping text which used to accompany them...

All Girls Bond art, James Bond

This is unusual

武蔵小金井 阿波踊り 子どもスイカ割り 2 koganei-shi 2008

Mahou Sentai Magimoon at Harry Potter/魔法戦隊マジレンジャー


U.S. Swimmer’s Naked Anti-Fur Ad in Beijing

Crosstalk: Is The Golden Age Of DVD Over?

100 Strangers

Fancy a short, shark shock? One of the world's biggest collections of Jaws memorabilia lives right here in Tuebrook. But what's the story?

3D Tetris Tower

Olympic Chipwrapper

The Stranger.

StrangerBooks  Surprise.

If ever a review on this blog was going to live up to the warning “Intended for mature readers only” it’s this one, and to be honest if I hadn’t read on the Wikipedia that Lance Parkin referred to some of the characters, albeit as an in-joke, in the next book Father Time, I wouldn’t a touched this with the Bargepole of Rassilon.  In writing the erotic novel, The Stranger, for Virgin Books’s Black Lace imprint, writer Portia Da Costa decided that she liked the Eighth Doctor enough that she’d use him as the main object of feminine desire and cast the timelord to fit within this very human story by making him an amnesiac (sound familiar).  This was published in 1997 just after the in-aptly named Virgin had lost their Who license and this offered an interesting way to sneak a further ‘adventure’ in under the TARDIS door. 

Claudia, a recent widow is surprised one day when she discovers a buff young man taking a skinny-dip in the lake on her land.  She prays that he’ll find his way to her big house, which he unsurprisingly does, bedecked in an Edwardian frock coat, covered in bruises and claiming to have lost his memory.  His only point of identity is a small note which says his name is Paul.  She takes him in, and after a doctor friend, Beatrice, gives him an examination, ‘Paul’ moves in with her.  Not long afterwards, her best friend Melody, leaves her husband and she moves in too.  Then there’s a fancy dress party and the truth of who this male house guest might be is stunningly revealed on television.  It’s not the most complex of plots, I’m sure you’ll agree and there’s a fairly obvious reason for that.

The Stranger is essentially Doctor Who Discovers The Joy of Sex, the unofficial nether regions of that most flexible of franchises touching on pornography.  As the back of the book proclaims this is ‘erotic fiction written by women for women’ and there’s people pleasure right the way through.  On page six there’s a description of something I’d never expect the Doctor to do and that’s pretty much the story on page nine, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, an educational cornucopia of images which though admittedly initially interesting do rapidly become repetitious; the family series equivalent is watching Tom and Lalla or Leela being captured and held in a cell and then escaping, over and over and over again for six episodes.  I'm no prude but there are things here it's going to take years of rewatching the Pertwee era to dislodge. 

No sexual barriers in evidence either; Captain Jack’s probably got a copy of this on the shelf in his bunk, disappointed slightly that one of the combinations doesn't include a tentacle.  In places it's quite an engagingly written book at least in relation to some of the characterisation especially Claudia, though having not read any other female erotic fiction for obvious reasons I'm hardly in a position to offer a bench mark as to whether the authors simply beefing up (if you'll pardon the expression) what are usually nothing more than cyphers.  Someone called Clifford in Weymouth gave it three stars at Amazon though he's (!) clearly unaware of the Who connection and suggests that this is actually quite tame stuff. 

Which a bit of an eye-opener, because at one point I began to wonder if Claudia’s sudden overwhelming desire to shag her best friend, GP, colleague from work and of course ‘Paul’ would be revealed to some kind of Torchwood-style alien intrusion or the inhibition softening virus from Star Trek’s The Naked Time finding a foothold in Oxfordshire.  But depending on how open minded you are this is very far from actually being proper science fiction and maddeningly, just to spoil the ending for you, it’s revealed that Paul might well be human after all, though if you are so inclined there’s nothing in there, other than his propensity to ‘dance’ to suggest that this isn’t what he was getting up to between Endgame and Father Time, trying the mortal life after regaining his sense of purpose whilst battling the Players.

I suspect that’s just wishful thinking having spent the best part of an hour this evening reading and another hour and a half skipping through the book.  Da Costa does include a couple of amusing nods to the franchise, a bit of Puccini here, a chapter title there.  And it can’t be denied that even when he’s acting in an entirely untimelordy way, she does capture the Doctor’s voice as well as most of the official Eighth chroniclers.  But ultimately, despite an exciting news post at Outpost Gallifrey a few years ago to signal its reprinting, there’s not much for the average fan to see here, unless I suspect you’re already someone who enjoys reading this kind of fiction, in which case you’re in for a bonus.  Or fifty-seven.

"Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt/ Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew" -- Hamlet, 'Hamlet'

The Second, The Minute, The Hour
The Hare and the Tortoise. As clock.

Thrillingly I've had a question answered by the fictional Don Draper.
His advise is true, funny yet also depressing.

I also now have a Plurk profile.
Where do they get the name for these things?

The Kids Aren't Alright
Discussion of the rating given to The Dark Knight by the BBFC (and MPAA). I think it's a rare incorrect decision by the 'censor'. For the use of knives alone it should have been slapped with a 15 and it was pretty uncomfortable watching the film with very young children in the cinema whose parents had clearly brought them along expecting it to be a comic book film which it is but in an all too realistic sense.

Portrait of a candidate as a pile of words.
Surely the McCain campaign is going awry when the biggest word on their blog is the name of their opponent? On the Obama sheet, the oldster senator is nowhere to be seen. [via]

Joe Cornish's suggestion for the new James Bond theme tune.

Orson Welles reads the opening section of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
As wonderful as you'd expect, typically deep and authoritative. Footage created for a proposed adaptation of the novel which didn't really get off the ground. Nice one Unicron.

Anna Waits reviews Hamlet.
Confirms Fortinbras sighting. Anna had never seen Hamlet before but found this production lucid enough that it didn't matter. Really, really can't believe I'm missing this.


EndgameBooks  Terrance Dicks included an author’s note at the back of his novel Endgame:  “Due to the collision of two deadlines, a long-arranged family holiday and a Doctor Who delivery date, I found myself presenting Justin Richards with a book that was not only a bit late but a bit short – and immediately leaving the country. […] Justin rose to the occasion with some very inspired editing, above and beyond the call of duty.  I am very grateful for all the hard work that has made this not only a long but better book.”  It’s comforting to know that even in the wilderness years the kind of behind the scenes jiggery-pockery which occurred on The Brain of Morbeus was still being replicated and demonstrates how compulsive or at the very least a bit interesting a complete history of that time could be should Mr. Pixley choose to write it.

The reason the question of authorship’s important here is that I really want to congratulate both Dicks and Richards on producing a really entertaining, really exciting piece of prose.  The mother, father, two children, small dog and a hatchback of spy stories, pulling in elements of Le Carre, Ludlum, Fleming, The Manchurian Candidate and even The Champions, it’s everything I’d hoped these stuck on Earth stories would be like with the Doctor getting involved in international affairs whilst now and then having flashbacks to his former life, a returning alien he doesn’t remember, action, adventure and really wild things.  It’s even a sequel of sorts with a returning character who even offers his own criticism of four fifths of the previous book:  “Greene’s report was as remarkable for what it left out as for what it included.”  Which is pretty much what I said.

It opens in the early fifties with the Korean War in full swing but the Doctor disaffected and jaded by his predicament, spending most of the day in either a café or the British Library trying to jog his memory.  In contrast to his usual persona, he’s reluctant to get involved but rather becomes dragged into it when a friend is murdered and a Top Secret document is dumped on his person.  After evading attacks from various national flavours of security agency, he falls in with the defecting double agents MacLean, Burgess and Philby, the latter of whom, having read the Turing and Greene accounts from the last novel is aware of what the Doctor is capable of.  The spy holds the Doctor’s still forming Tardis to ransom in order to gain his co-operation in discovering the truth behind the secret societies mentioned in said document, in particular the shadowy Players, journey which takes him from one end of the cold war to the other and which will ultimately re-ignite his sense of being life’s champion.

All of which sounds terribly complex, but in reality much of the novel takes place in rooms and restaurants and darkened streets with people playing personality games trying to outsmart and outwit each other – at least when they’re not getting drunk.  For all his reputation as a nuts and bolts man, Dicks has always had a certain facility for character and that’s demonstrated here in capturing the distinct voices of the spies, spookily prefiguring Peter Moffat’s versions of them in his television drama Cambridge Spies; for most of the pagination it's difficult not to picture Toby Stevens, Tod Hollander and Rupert Penry-Jones enunciating the dialogue.  To an extent there’s a certain amount of characaturing though and towards the end a couple of other very public figures are presented in a form which reflects the general opinion of them rather than something akin to how real people behave, but it’s entirely in-keeping with the book’s chosen genre. In other words, you wait ages for a celebrity historical and two come along together.

Dicks does capture the period very well indeed.  We're reminded that in the early fifties, for all the apparent trappings of the modern world, rationing was still in place and a general feeling of hopelessness pervaded the land.  The reason the Doctor can meet such prominent people and essentially save the world again without really trying is because of the impression of a war being fought outside of the public gaze, inadvertantly prefiguring the situation today in which we seem to be in the grip of mini-cold wars which a range of different powers instead of one big one.  Once again Doctor Who reminds us that history has a habit of repeating with the people at the top only really figure heads, with men not just further down the ladder but hiding in the alleyway nearby wielding the real power.  Endgame is another expression of how far away from being family material the franchise had developed -- no wonder some of the ming-mongs were shocked when that wheelie-bin farted.

Unlike The Turing Test, which was too clever for its own good, the Doctor is never less than the focus and as I’ve hinted for the first time there’s a real sense that he’s now been on the planet for quite some time and fallen into a routine.  There’s a hint that his sullenness is as a result of the events in the previous book and also that he might never discover his origin – finally he talks about the time before as though he knows that there’s a darkness hidden that he doesn’t want to deal with but the novel is very much about him dealing with his place on the planet and what he is capable of.  Much of the novel is intensely sad because we can see the old Eighth breaking through now and then, but as these moments take hold it’s almost as though they’re wrong somehow, the wrong parts of the real him. 

That’s especially true when he confronts each of the Players – there’s the kind of violence and anger which we’ve seen before and yet its being laid out on an adversary who could be dealt with very easily and inventively.  One of Dicks’s original creations, the Players have appeared in a number of his novels, none of which I’ve read which puts me rather in the position of the Doctor in hearing about events in the past that don’t make much sense.  The underlying motivation of these aliens is expressed well – that they’re using Cold War figures within a giant game with the winner being decided based on who manages to get things to warm up a bit – but in terms of this story they’re pretty underdeveloped and I know that one or two of them would have far greater resonance had I met them before.  That lack of internal consistency would be about my only criticism of a novel which renews my faith in the lost on Earth arc.

Next:  More than meets the eye

"I wasn’t so impressed. Want to grab a coffee and talk about it?" -- Jules, 'Jules et Jim'

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: His final interview
The final two questions are ironic given the circumstances: "When I was young, the early death of my father cast a shadow over me – and I was afraid to die before all my literary plans came true. But between 30 and 40 years of age my attitude to death became quite calm and balanced. I feel it is a natural, but no means the final, milestone of one's existence."

Index on Censorship has his call to action.
"And so I have come to realise, and have personal experience of the fact, that world literature is no longer an abstract graph, no longer a generalisation constructed by literary experts, but a common body and common soul, a living responsive unity reflecting the growing spiritual unity of mankind."

Petition Launched to Make Bono History
Mark Kermode should be pleased about this.

Race, racism, and... UFO!
"What struck me about the scene is the way it undermines the whole cheerful magically unracist future thing you get in SF. Bradley directly challenges his White boss' blithe assumption that he knows whether racism is still around or not; as well as the idea that racism could suddenly just disappear one year after being around for centuries. (We never learn what was supposed to have happened around 1976! Was there a Eugenics War? Or was Rock Against Racism more effective than anyone had expected?)."

A cup of tea with China's police
The BBC's man in China on being held by the local police and draws some slightly unwarranted criticism in the comments, even though its simply a bit of reportage.

'The Girl You Never Knew' By Georgia Wonder
Not sure about the backing track, but what an extraordinary vocal.

Games cinephiles play
What about Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?
Film Polls such as the latest from Empire Magazine are of course self-defeating project since asking a proper film fan to list their top ten films is at worst cruelty at most a case for Amnesty International's anti-torture squad (do they have one? I'd like to think so). Also, the top ten hasn't really changed in about ten years, with Star Wars and The Shawshank Redemption vying for the top spot and one of the Lord of the Rings films nibbling at their tail and it's always a boringly mainstream list with little room for something as magnificent as A Touch of Zen or The Limey. So I think I'm going to offer some curious choices which might have them scratching their head a bit in the office. Taking exclusively from my Forgotten Film list:

New Tennant in Elsinore

Have any members of the press used that headline this morning? Anyone? Either way, to save some work, here's a link to Outpost Gallifrey's round-up of reviews for David Tennant's Hamlet. Overwhelmingly positive, especially from Michael Billington of The Guardian, whose piece reads like a more articulate version of a post from this very blog. He doesn't, for example, like the cuts:
"Tennant is an active, athletic, immensely engaging Hamlet. If there is any quality I miss, it is the character's philosophical nature, and here he is not helped by the production. Following the First Quarto, Doran places "To be or not to be" before rather than after the arrival of the players: perfectly logical, except that there is something magnificently wayward about the Folio sequence in which Hamlet, having decided to test Claudius's guilt, launches into an unexpected meditation on human existence. [...] Unforgivably, Doran also cuts the lines where Hamlet says to Horatio, "Since no man knows of aught he leaves, what is't to leave betimes? Let be." Thus Tennant loses some of the most beautiful lines in all literature about acceptance of one's fate."
Nothing on the state of Fortinbras though.

"Joey, if I go first, I wanna be looking for my keys." -- Chandler, 'Friends'

Teaser trailer for The Princess And The Frog
After the sheer enchantedness of Enchanted, I hope this is another sign that Disney's non-PIXAR wing have finally got their mojo back. She's adorable and so's the amphibian.

I've lost my keys, am stuck inside, and not sure what to do.
The brilliance of this old AskMe question is that someone actually managed to solve it. Personally, whenever I lose something I always look at the end of my bed, because more often than not, no matter how obscure, that's exactly where I'll find it.

Three AOL Blogs Living on Borrowed Time
I've been a long term reader of Download Squad and wondered why, a few days ago, after months of frequent and useful posting there was a dramatic slowdown in content. Here's why. Trust AOL to miss the point on what blogging is supposed to be about.

Horrified B-Movie Victims Figure Set
Finally something to topple over using my remote control Dalek.

Calvin and Jobs [via]

The Turing Test.

TuringBooks  I placed the book on the table and glanced out of the window.  The train seemed to be moving too slowly into the countryside, and I also didn’t remember there even being countryside so close to Manchester.  Yet there it was, rolling fields of corn, windmills and even a tractor.  Something was wrong, I knew, but I just put my head back and enjoyed the view.

Only then did I realise someone was watching me.  I shifted my eyes from the window and let them dart across the carriage before stopping on the man sitting opposite me, staring at me in a way which I suspect he always looked at people.  I could feel my eyebrows register surprise.  It couldn’t be, could it?  What would he be doing here, and why would he addressing me so intently?

I tried to ignore him, something I never thought I could do, yet he continued simply staring at me to the point that I wondered if I’d spilled coffee on my t-shirt.  I looked down just in case but thankfully all I could see was brilliant white.  As I tilted my head upwards I could see that he was still there and he was grinning at me.  I heard myself apologising.

“That’s quite alright.” He said.

I thought for a moment.  That wasn’t the accent I was expecting.  Surely he only dropped the scouse lilt for voiceover work and film (unless he was playing someone from around my parts).  What was surreal was that I hadn’t become jelly, asked for his autograph or wondered if he was going to be in any of the 2009 Specials.  Instead, I was mildly irritated by the attention.

Which is when it dawned on me.  The green eyes glowing with intelligence, the long Bryronic hair, the velvet green coat.  This wasn’t Paul McGann.  This was someone else entirely.  Now, I was become rather nervous, because it meant I was also becoming rather delusion.  I sat bolt upright in my seat.

“You’ve worked it out then.”  He said.

“But, but, but…”



“Yes, that too.”

By now I was sweating visibly.  The landscape hadn’t changed for quite some time.  The train carriage was almost empty too, which was entirely unlikely at quarter past five on a Wednesday afternoon.

“This can’t be a dream.”

“Well if it isn’t” He said nodding his head towards the aisle “Explain that.”

I titled my head too.  Katherine Heigl was at the other end of the train buying a cup of tea from the refreshment trolly.  She held up a packet of digestives and shook them in my direction.  “Honey?” She mouthed.  I looked behind to see who she wasn't talking to.  There wasn’t anyone there.  Katherine rolled her eyes at me and scowled.  Now evidently she wasn’t talking to me.

“Dream.” I said, trying desperately to rise to the challenge of being in fiction.

“Yes.”  He said brightly.

“So you’re a figment?”

“If you like.” He leaned forward ever so slightly. “Or not.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“Whoever … whatever you are, what are you doing in my head?”

“Well…” He pointed at the book. “I rather wondered what you thought of that.”

I looked down at the small red paper back still sitting on the table where I left it.  On the cover in big blue writing was a name, then The Turing Test, an illustration of an enigma machine and at the bottom the author’s name Paul Leonard.  I unconsciously reached down and picked it up and began fidgeting with the pages, letting the edges skip past the tip of my thumb.

“It’s quite good.  I haven’t finished it yet.”

“Yes, you have.”  He said.

He was right.  I had.  The night before, whilst listening to Rachmaninoff on the radio.

“Yes, I have.”  I agreed reluctantly.

What was I supposed to tell him …

“The truth.” He said, finishing the thought for me.

I considered the question for a moment, and then another moment just in case.  I breathed deeply.

“Well” I said,  “I can’t.  Well, I can but to be honest I’m so freaked out by the fact I’m the middle of appears to be a lucid dream, talking to a fictional character about a book in which he’s a character whilst an actress who's far too tall and for all I know too young for me is buying tea and biscuits at the other end of the carriage as we swoop through a European landscape and I’ll doubtless wake up (assuming I’m napping) or wake up in the morning (assuming I’m in bed) and choose to use a similar first person technique as appears in the novel to produce a piece of writing which will in the end be something of a non-review should tell you everything you need to know about what I thought of the book.” 

I was happy to get that off my chest.  In hindsight, what I could have said was that though the idea was sound, the execution was muddled.  That having three of the great figures of the forties, Alan Turing, Graham Greene and Joseph Heller writing about an adventure with the Doctor was a fun way of relating what’s now referred to as a celebrity historical.  That the section described by Greene and Heller were very reminiscent of their own fiction, The Third Man and Catch 22 respectively (an idea very much like The Unicorn and the Wasp, in fact) but that however well written, however authentic the atmosphere, at no point did you feel as though you were reading a Doctor Who story, that in experimenting it stretched the format too far even to the point of making whatever the story is supposed to be too incoherent and the aliens involved too underdeveloped.  That there’s mystery and then there's a kind of willful obscurity which drains away much of the excitement.  But I couldn’t tell him any of that because I had an idea what was going to happen next.

“Yes, but Stu, Stu, Stu, Stu, how do you know that you’ve been reading fiction?” He became agitated.  “How do you know I’ve not used an imbalance between your universe and my own to come through and talk to you about the book, the events of which really happened to me, because I want to see if there’s anything I’ve missed, something I could have done differently?”

“I don’t of course, but that would be the stuff of science fiction.”

“Touche.” He grinned.  “But truly.  Could I have done anything differently?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"I like what you did for Elizabeth.  I thought you might be able to help me too."

Given that I hadn’t really understood what I had happened with the aliens or his role in their demise and that the Elizabeth of which he spoke was also someone I hadn't really met except in an unorthodox book review (!), I didn’t have an answer.  So I simply said:

“You probably just did what you felt was right at the time.”

“Thank you.”  He seemed genuinely becalmed by that. “Thank you very much.”

At the other end of the carriage, I heard a perky American accent repeat the gratitude presumably to someone else.

“She’s on her way back.  I hope the tea’s better here than the last place I visited.”

“Where was that?” I asked, just as a rampant ringing sound filled the train.

“Time to wake up.” He answered.  And it was.
Life I’ve just phoned and canceled my BT Surftime dial-up account. I first signed up in the late nineties, when broadband was a luxury item, 56k still seemed speedy and the Internet hadn’t really met video much yet. It wasn’t as simply a process as I would have liked – since the package was discontinued in 2005 it sounded as though the department which dealt with it had been shunted to Alpha Centuri and I was talking to a robot. Everything seemed to be going fine until the end of the call when the sales rep said “I see you have another service. Surftime… Would you like me to cancel that as well?” So I’ll have to wait until the cancellation order goes through (two days) because I can actually call and find out if the cancellation has gone through -- and if I’ve actually been signed up to the premium thingy (at £1.50 per month) which lets me keep my email addresses, which by now are as much a part of by web identity as thing you're reading here.

links for 2008-08-04

Wild things: 16 films featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls
I'll leave this at that except to say that I've lost count of the number of girls I've known like this in real life and loved them all. Here's one here.

The World’s Shortest ‘The Dark Knight’ Review

Opinion polled
I used to do this kind of market research all of the time. There'd be free samples and it was a great of getting off my chest all of the hatred for the boneheaded decisions of advertisers. Only one of the advertising pilots I ever watched appeared on screen and even then it appeared to have heeded all of my suggestions. These days, you're led up to the first floor and some non-nondescript office space, sat in front of a lap top and asked to type in your answers, which is no fun. If I want to sit and write rubbish into a computer, I can do that at home.

Gwyneth Paltrow urges US expats to vote for Barack Obama

The New Yorker gives a largely positive review of Woody's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Though to be honest I've largely skimmed it, since there seems to be more plot than comment. Reviewer David Denby likes Rebecca Hall a lot too it seems.

Friend Feed: feeling listless
Just in case you didn't already know. Subscribe here. If I'm writing something online, there should be a link to it here.

Fortinbras is not in the main computer.

"Shot entirely in front of a green screen, Hamlet A.D.D. (2009) features live-action characters in an animated world."

Which could either turn out to be really fun, or ruddy awful. The actor playing the dane is both producing and directing and has William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet under his tunic. Biggest star seems to be Majel Barrett off of Star Trek as a Queen Robot who appears, I'm guessing, during The Mousetrap.

Norwegian Girls in London Play Handball to Keep Fit

About six years ago when I was enjoying the commuter life and very tired one evening, I posted the text of one of my favourite magazine articles ever. It is from the Picture Post, war time stalwart of the British press and featured, well, Norwegian girls playing mud-football in the park. On the one hand it's a selection of good action shots, but there's some human interest in the closing paragraph, because we discover that their journey to London and escape from Germany was fraught with danger. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from someone who had a postcard of the cover and thought it might feature her grandmother which has spurred me on to find the article which you can now see below. That post has become something of a hit magnet over the years for reasons you can probably guess, but really it's completely innocent. Isn't it?

links for 2008-08-03

Ian Jones of the Digi-Cream Times offers his take on what the Olympic theme should sound like.
"naturally, in your best Vangelis/Paddy Kingsland/Simon May style." Too right. Love the choice of samples.

Star Trek Restoration History
I watched the Motion Picture for the first time in over a decade the other night. There's barely enough plot for one of the animated episodes, yet it manages to spin the action out for over two hours based on the good will of the viewer, luscious visuals and half-decent character moments. Not bad, just not as spectacular as it could have been. Thank goodness for The Wrath of KHAAAAAN!

Milo’s Musical Education
"The classical-music world desperately needs Milo. He belongs to a generation of kids who look at a violin and see a strange, archaic object, who think of opera as a faintly embarrassing pastime of the upper crust, rather like riding to hounds. The good people at Carnegie Hall have erected a costly and wonderful educational apparatus to nurture audiences of the future. But bequeathing musical taste—like cultivating a penchant for good food, or ethical behavior—is a parent’s job, and it can only be done with conviction."

It really does.

Stupid Plotting Tricks
Collection of the kind of idiocy and cliche which you can find all over fiction, not just in the sci-fi genre. Then again: "If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstances have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution."

Large Hadron Collider nearly ready
Another fabulous collection from The Big Picture. I'm very excited about this -- and not just because of the accompanying radio episode of Torchwood. Slightly worried it might turn this part of space into an even bigger black hole than it is already though.

imdb: Hamlet A.D.D. (2009)
"Shot entirely in front of a green screen, HAMLET A.D.D. features live-action characters in an animated world." Which could either turn out to be really fun, or ruddy awful. The actor playing the dane is both producing and directing and has William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet under his tunic. Biggest star seems to be Majel Barrett off of Star Trek as a Queen Robot who appears, I'm guessing, during The Mousetrap.

The Shirk of the New
An old AV Club essay from Noel Murray that wonders if it's possible to miss the film landmarks of the present because we're looking in the wrong direction. With the amount of product being produced these days, it's entirely possible. I think there's a fair few missed masterpieces listed in my Forgotten Films doing interesting things with performance, genre and narrative which might have had a profound effect on how we view cinema collectively had they been distributed properly and seen by the right people.

An Edge of Darkness fan site.

Woody Allen's new film to be called Whatever Works
Even if you don't love his films anymore, you have to admit he's never stopped choosing great titles. Though he does say something odd: "a slightly different one for me. It's a blackish comedy." As opposed to Deconstructing Harry?


Obituary, originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

I've posted the original email here. It's interesting to see how my letter has been sub-edited to pick out the most important points.