Why isn't he sitting in the middle of the frame?

The 12 Dumbest Spider-Man Stories Ever (Besides the Clone Saga)
I think this might the best top ten I've seen on Topless Robot. Perfectly captures the senselessness which develops when you've a range of writers working on a property and no clear direction.

Bring On the Puppy and the Rookie
Maureen Dowd is my new favourite political writer. Expect me to be posting this kind of thing for the next eight years, all being well.

Obama's Triumph Is America's Too
And another one, this time from Elizabeth Wurtzel, who ruminates on his background.

Your Weekly Address from the President-elect
Anyone else reminded of the broom cupboard from 80s Children's BBC? Why isn't he sitting in the middle of the frame? Where's Gordon? Still, he's broadcasting to the world via YouTube which gives us another reason to love him. And now get your song sheets ready ... "Children of the Sun, see your time has just begun, searching for your way, through adventures every day ..."

Has Jamie's Ministry of Food worked in Rotherham?
I had a frozen pizza for tea tonight with extra frozen mushrooms. Does that count?

In a completely different universe...
Simon Pegg offers some Star Wars fan fiction. "Oh man! It's boring on Tatooine. And what about all the sandpeople? You have to make that funny noise to scare them off and I can't do it because I've got a deviated septum."

Ashes to Ashes segment for Children in Need
What's going on with Chris's hair!?! The other notable is that Richard Hammond doesn't just look like a tv presenter. He actually seems to be giving a proper performance and a funny one at that. Next Doctor?

Sign language strangles cinema
I suppose you can guess what my attitude to this is. It's not so much that it's happening which is admirable, it's that it always seems to happen during films which are hardly ever on television or not out on dvd, in other words, the kind of thing which is shown in the middle of the night. Imagine if the BBC tried on the big Christmas movie.

TV 101: How Friends caused the current financial crisis (OR: Say it ain't so, Joe the Actor)
Finally decided to invest in the complete box set which is suddenly £50 everywhere, a whole decade's worth of entertainment in the right order. My luck it'll have gone up in price by the time I stumble into HMV next week. Zavvi?

Mysterious Infrared Aurora Glows at Saturn's North Pole
"ROSS: Well? Isn't that amazing?
JOEY: What are we supposed to be seeing here?
CHANDLER: I dunno, but.. I think it's about to attack the Enterprise.
PHOEBE: You know, if you tilt your head to the left, and relax your eyes, it kinda looks like an old potato.
ROSS: Then don't do that, alright?
PHOEBE: Okay!"
(can't wait)

DIY Daily Express
Pointedly misses out the other major story. You know the one.

used to be off broadway
I've walked from films and theatre before but never concerts and certainly not for reasons as poignant as this.

Now, I'm off to play 99 Bricks again and again to cheer myself up.

Out of focus in the background we see a familiar face.

Star Trek Movie Trailer


I once decided upon what I thought was a decent opening for a Next Generation film.

Up on a market -- think Life of Brian or Mos Eisley if you must. It's dusty, dirty and there's nothing any sane person would want to buy, but more importantly nothing is familiar. We slowly zoom into a hooded figure in sack cloth is slowly picking his way through the crowd, though mostly he's being pushed out of the way. Then we hear a familiar sound. It's a tricorder, but its very faint and broken and not making much sense. The camera zooms past our figure to reveal a small child playing with it, the thing snapping open and closed. The child looks up and smiles then holds the tricorder in the air.
Hands take hold of it, but their unsteady, as though they're feeling their way ... they're not sure where it is. They feel about the device with is then held up into shot. Out of focus in the background we see a familiar face. Pull focus.
It's Geordie LaForge. But he's without his visor or those implants he received in the later films. Just white where his irises should be. He smells the tricorder, which gives a little spark.
"Yeah, it's broken." He's not smiling.
The camera pans into the sky blue sky, up towards space. We see the Enterprise in low orbit. In pieces, shuttle pod bay doors empty, the nacelles and saucer section shattered beyond repair. Credits roll over these pieces.

I thought of this on the release of Insurrection, by which point the film franchise had become horrifyingly cosy. It needed to shock the audience and not in a Nemesis killing Data for the hell of it, fan-wanky-wedding kind of way. You needed to put the audience in the position of not knowing where the hell it was going.

Abrams seems to have achieved this. It's hilarious and will either be the most misjudged summer blockbuster since Transformers and Lost In Space before that or just the shot in the arm that franchise needs. Trek, Wars and Who are like three party politics in the UK -- it does no one any favours when one of the elements is weakened (Who of course being the Liberal Democrats).

I imagine there are Trekkers and Trekkies online somewhere in aperplexy though, with doses of oxygen on tap in much the same way as some of us did when we read The Leakley Bible which "was to feature the half-human Doctor seeking his father, Ulysses, through various time periods (including) contemporary Gallifrey, where Borusa dies and is merged with the TARDIS, and the Master becomes leader of the Time Lords;" [wiki]

Debbie Gibson, Liv Tyler, a sunflower and a hundred odd postcards

Life's Too Short For Bad Porn
Or life imitates art imitates an old episode of Friends. Not that I'm saying Friends isn't art. It is. That didn't work out well did it?

Mostly accurate, though I'm not sure why All The President's Men should begat Twilight Samurai and how When Harry Met Sally and The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood are at all similar.

I never participate in the creation of The Human Wall.
Every single day in Liverpool where most pavements on the edges of roads aren't that big, so it only takes a couple of people to create a log jam. And it's amazing how unaware they can be as they stroll along with you stepping back and forth behind looking for a gap. The only recourse is to say "Excuse me" just loud enough that you don't embarrass yourself or them. Unless they're being complete cretins in which case it's just the former which is important. Why can't people by more like Tusken Raiders who travel "in single file to conceal their numbers"?

"I was introduced to him and I thought to myself, if that's Francis Rossi, he's turned ginger, shrunk a bit and grown more hair."

A League of One's Own
Stephen Gallagher wrote an episode of Rosemary and Thyme?!?

Two Bucks a Dance
"In bailarina bars, you can rent a girlfriend by the song. For $40, she’ll sit with you for an hour. For $500, she’s yours for the evening. That’s when the relationship gets complicated."

Nirvana's Nevermind baby recreates famous image
The poster of this cover was one every blokey student's wall in my university halls during the 90s. Except for mine, for I of course had Debbie Gibson, Liv Tyler, a sunflower and a hundred odd postcards.

"With all the time you saved go do something more useful and move your career forward."
... the sales pitch for software which robotically posts to discussion boards and social communities promoting your music, heroically missing the point of reaching out to fans.

Somewhere between Barack the Vote and Nobama lies Baroque Obama.
Because some puns keep on giving.

Our First Nerd President
The President-Elect visits Metropolis

Callie Shell - Obama
Look like production stills from The West Wing. Which is apt.

Obama & Science
Gia's encouraged by some of his proposals. So am I, especially the section about separating choices in science related legislation from religious belief or as they put it: "government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees."

09 Feb 2009
Release date for Lily Allen's next album, It's Not Me It's You. I know Allen has become someone it's fashionable to knock these days, but Alright, Still is alright, still.

A History of Microsoft Windows
Looks like I'll be skipping a generation, at least at home. Vista reminds me too much of the screenshots which would appear on the back of 8-bit computer games in the eighties, fabulous looking, but when you actually load them totally unplayable. With things like that 3D application selector it's the operating system version of those TV remote controls 80% you'll never use.

Toshiba showcases world's first 'timesculpture' advert
Startling. It does indeed use 'bullet time' but localises the effects to different parts of the construct.

Worlds within worlds
In which novelist Jeff Mariotte talks about setting his new Spiderman book earlier in Marvel's continuity so that Peter & MJ are still married. Smells like revolution is afoot. I'm surprised the Bullpen hasn't been stormed already.

where the things in Cloverfield happen
You've probably seen this already, but I just wanted to comment. 'Ill'? I know this is one of those 'bad means good' derivations and a development of 'sick' but when I see this kind of thing it makes me feel about a hundred years ill. Do people still say 'sound'?

It probably needs hitting with a mallet.

Words I discovered a new bit of slang today.

Percussive Tuning

(action) Hitting uncooperative machinery in the hopes of repairing it

Me: "This printer never works."
Them: "It probably needs some percussive tuning."
Me: "It probably needs hitting with a mallet."
Them: "Same thing."

That'll be my first submission to the Urban Dictionary then.

looking longingly

Radio One of the few sublime broadcast moments inspired by the Brand/Ross debarkle happened during Danny Baker's 606 football phone-in on Five Live a night or so before Brand resigned and Ross was suspended.

Towards the end of the show, Richard Bacon, whose own show happens in the later slot, wandered in to trail the fact that he'd inevitably be talking about the controversy on his own show. Baker and Bacon discussed it for a bit with Baker describing how he's talked to Ross just the night before and they agreed the reaction had been amusing and that they were both looking longingly at the two slots could potentially (and did) open up on Radio Two, both gold.

Danny said that he'd pressed upon Jonathan the importance of making sure he'd email him if a resignation was on the cards so that he could get his CV in early. Obviously, you had to be there, but it was a searing recognition of the reality of how these situations are viewed from the industry side of the fence, even if tongue was firmly in cheek throughout the whole thing.

Cut to today and this press release from the BBC ...
"Baker and Ball to co-present on Radio 2

Zoe Ball and Danny Baker are to co-present four Saturday morning shows on BBC Radio 2 between 10.00am and 1.00pm from 22 November to 13 December.
My memory's faulty but back in the day, I'm sure Baker and Ball understudied for Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin on The Big Breakfast during its first good era so it'll still be worth tuning in to see what the show will looking like, who's personality will out. Hopefully it'll be a return of his old Radio One format with categories quizzes and Zoe filling in for the array of people who joined him in the treehouse.

Ages ago, well alright in May

About Ages ago, well alright in May, I asked Metafilter if they had any suggestions for how to collect a range of RSS feeds together and then filter them into another one using keywords, kind of like a personal Google News Alert in which I pick the sources.

There are some blogs and news websites I enjoy, but the sheer volume of posts makes them impossible for normal human people beings to keep track of. Much better then to simply be able to see what they're writing on subjects I'm interested in. I'd tried Yahoo Pipes, but it tends to time out if overloaded and it's not very flexible and I wanted something which was almost as easy to use as Google Alerts.

After thinking about it for six months, I've finally developed a solution. I'm still using Pipes to create a master feed of everything which I've bookmarked and can add to relatively easily. When I want to create a filter all I need to do is copy/paste the master feed URL into Feed Sifter along with the search term(s) and the combined, filtered special stuff pops out the other end.

Now wasn't that interesting?

feeling fairly fuzzy

I've been feeling fairly fuzzy today, one of those lingering lethargic lapses which causes people to say "There's something going around". I spent the afternoon tucked up in bed with this (which was fabulous) and instead of watching this tonight as planned (I'm not in the mood) I think I'll be watching this (in that kind of mood). I still have a few unimaginative questions though:

Was Sally Sparrow from Doctor Who's Blink named for this sitcom character?

Could It Happen Again?

Have you ever heard this? It's fabulous. There's an amazing moment were Patrick Moore and Nicky Campbell beat up an alien and features the credit "Dannii Minogue - Special alien effect"

Is Torchwood that popular in the US?

Will they survive the Obama presidency?

How come this is happening to me and I don't even live in the US?

Can we see this now? Please?

Can Heroes be saved?

The Skull of Sobek.

Audio Without the need of special apparatus, I can gauge the moment when I parted company with The Skull of Sobek. The first few bars of the title music. The teaser with all its blood oaths and fire and sub-Conan dialogue suggested parody, that before long it would be revealed as a cut scene from a video game or a scene from a Filmation cartoon being watched by a child sitting with a Prince Sobek action figure in one hand and a carton of Vimto in the other. When it became apparent that writer was deadly serious about this being the back story to the adventure, I knew that despite some of the usual chemistry between McGann and Smith and some neat sound design that by about minute twenty-eight I’d have categorised it as rubbish and wished it wasn’t quite so. That actually happened in minute thirty-two, though for the life of me I can’t remember what in particular put me off. It was probably the Doctor being hurled out of the window only to have his fall broken by a market stall.

Which is part of the problem. Platt can’t decide what tone he wants or who he’s supposed to be pastiching. The Skull of Sobek, with its monastic setting, family feud and possessed cranium claws desperately towards the Hinchcliffe era; Nick Briggs in Beyond The Vortex even compares Platt’s writing to Robert Holmes and like Holmes, there’s certainly a vein of humour running through it, as the monks and sisters treat their calling rather ironically and their giant crocodile guests with a health cynicism even as they’re having their limbs bitten off. But Platt also seems to want to remind us of Paul Magys in The Scarlett Empress mode, Russell T Davies when he’s knocking together one of those shopping list dramas he apparently doesn’t do and the Monty Python films. Art Malik’s Abbot Absolute sounds like Graham Chapman’s King Arthur during the armaments scene from The Holy Grail.

Since he spends most of the time suggesting the crocs are a bit of a joke, when they’re really supposed to be menacing, we’re probably visualising the rubber Argonds from The Adventure Game rather than the sleek serpents painted by Clyde Caldwell. The possession of Lucie which should be a tragic Amok Time style moment in which the Doctor forced to fight his friend, is rushed and despite an amazing bit of work from Sheriden in which she proves once and for all that as Miss Miller she's not just playing herself, has the ring of Rick Moranis’s Keymaster in Ghostbusters, old fashioned phrases spilling from a contemporary mouth. Plus there’s the aforementioned window falling scene which is the kind of visual slapstick that Harold Lloyd might have been pleased with but really doesn’t really work in audio. When Briggsy says that he knows in the schedule that Platt will be writing something weird, it might have been an idea to also request ‘something coherent’. Perhaps if the monks had enjoyed a good brawl, things might have been different.

It’s all the more frustrating because there are some promising ideas in here. The Blue Desert of Indigo 3 with its identical dunes and raining season which comes every eighties years is a lovely idea and the way its revealed to Lucie by the Doctor happens in much the same way as I expect Ninth introduced Women Wept to Rose. The idea that this sanctuary exists to create imperfection in a symmetrical world is also impressive, like Chris Bidmead, but in a good way. There’s also a rather nice moment were Lucie becomes realistically vulnerable and goes through the same process as many recent companions in realising that they’re becoming desensitised to death. But that's all cocooned in a rather bizarre collection of scenes which sound like someone’s ripped a cd of Gregorian Chants, The Lord of the Rings radio series and one of the Divergent Universe stories like Kreed of the Kromon into their iPod and selected random.

Regular readers will know that I tend to glory in the truly bonkers, the kind of Doctor Who in which you’re forced to admit “I can’t quite believe I saw/heard/read that” or my version of it, loud swearing. If even I wasn’t provoked to do something like that, by something like this, something must be wrong.

five ideas for making society an even better place

Life In this time of change, five ideas for making society an even better place:

(1) Cinema Membership Cards

The Guardian's William Leith isn't wrong here
about the Vue Cinema chain's great idea of having adult only screenings to keep out roudy youngsters since adults can be just as loud when they want to be, though the comments section to the post asks a useful question: "How do you screen for twats at the door?" The answer is membership cards. If you want to see a film, you have to get a membership card which you then have to produce to buy a ticket. It could work like a loyalty card too so you get free tickets if you've been already x number of times. If you're caught being a twat you're given a warning, points off the license. Get caught again and you're banned from the cinema chain for six months or forever, membership revoked, with details kept on file in case you try and request a new one.

(2) The BBC's audio encyclopedia

I was listening to a range of BBC podcasts today during a shopping trip -- Composer of the Week and some thing about the history of Constantinople and realised that actually the BBC even having made an exciting start with the various archive projects could do much more. With all of the radio documentaries they've produced across the years along with the likes of In Our Time they clearly have the raw material for an audio encyclopaedia, for students, researchers and well, the rest of the great unwashed. Imagine being able to visit a version of the wikipedia and then being able to stream or download a programme about the subject, the perfect way to inform those of us without the time to pick up a book these days.

(3) The ability to search unread items in Google Reader

Why do I seem to be the only person online who thinks this is a good idea? Why can't I search for particular keyword and be able to see posts on the subject I've not read before without having to plough the myriad others that I have? I know they're fairly easy to spot in the 'list view' but it seems very odd that Google haven't included this option. Unless there's some interesting technical reason, such as the posts not being in the database until you've actually looked at them. They're known unknowns.

(4) Everyone should have a twitter account

Yes, even the people identified in (1). I signed up to Twitter last year some time, but since being broadbanded (which 4.1, should be a word) and began using Twhirl I've become a much heavier user and for the first time I feel like I'm truly connected to the web community as every couple of minutes a friendly ping brings more news. This was particularly true on election night, which I in reality spent alone but still felt like I shared with people too numerous to list here. Is this sad? Possibly. But since I'm feeling more isolated than usual lately, it's a lifeline.

(5) More buses on the 74, 75 & 80 routes out of Liverpool at about 5pm on a Sunday

Getting home from work on a Sunday has become beyond a joke. All of these routes have a half hourly service. By the time the buses have reached where I stand, which is on the edge of the city centre, just too far to walk from home (especially in this weather), they've picked up sabbath shoppers who've gathered at the Liverpool One shopping area and Great Charlotte Street during that half hour and are full by the time they reach our stop and drive past. As you wait the hour until the buses are empty enough to take you home, dozens of 86s pass through. Something related to the Saturday service must be introduced swiftly.

Yes, we, can.

morass of references to other pop culture

Elsewhere A desperate attempt to review a Doctor Who story called The Skull of Sobek, in which I resort to a morass of references to other pop culture.

My first piece of professional film writing

Elsewhere My first piece of professional film writing, a review, for Liverpool Confidential, of W in which director Oliver Stone somehow manages to make a boring film about George W Bush.