human act of perpetual motion

Life Walking to work each day just seems to be magnifying the ghastliness of bus travel on the way home, or at least perhaps increasing my sensitivity to the whole process of sitting in close proximity with other people in what amounts to a storage container with windows on wheels.

Yesterday there was a man sitting next to me chewing gum. He was middle aged, slightly balding, wearing a track suit, but all of that's probably irrelevant.

Most people I know who chew gum, stop now and then to give their jaw a rest, or move it around their mouth. Fidget. This man was having none of that. His chewing was rhythmic, routine, indomitable. And once I'd noticed this, once my eyes fixed on the sight of his jaw shifting left and right, it began to slowly drive me insane.

I was trying to read a newspaper, but simply couldn't concentrate as in my peripheral vision this mouth went round and round in circles. I tried looking away, out of the window, concentrating on this hilarious dissection of The Saturdays in G2, but even when I couldn't see this human act of perpetual motion, I could still irrationally sense it, even hear it, though I suspect that was just my imagination.

Ultimately I spent the rest of the journey home with my right eye shut leaving my left eye free to finish the newspaper and make sure I got off at the correct stop. This is of course insane, but the only way I could think of that didn't broadcast my discomfort. It wasn't his fault he was sitting next to a umbrageous twerp like me.

an even more exciting adventure

Politics I gave Mum a copy of Obama's Dreams From My Father for Christmas. I was hoping to read the book next, but listening to it sounds like an even more exciting adventure [via].

I'm very tempted.

Film Let's just say I'm very tempted. Reminds me of the t-shirts some of the crew wore during the interminable shoot for Titanic: "You Can't Scare Me I Work for James Cameron."

Meanwhile, Zoe offers a defence: "They say judge a person by how they treat their subordinates, and I can tell you, first hand, that Bale treated me –and everyone else on set– with respect, appreciation and gratitude."

And here's the apology: "I was out of order beyond belief. I make no excuses for it. [...] I completely mixed up fact and fiction, I'm half John Connor, I'm half Christian there."

Give generously.

Bus slogan generator [via].

a science fiction show with jokes

TV Andrew offers some useful tips to the production team on the new Red Dwarf as to how to return to the core values of the show. I'm one of the few who thinks the show lost its way somewhat with Season Six which relied to heavily on past glories and tried to be more of a science fiction show with jokes. I remember dreading each new week at the time.

Season Seven worked much better than most give it credit for. It wasn't really the same programme, what with the loss of studio audience, yet it was still very funny with Kochanski reinjecting the element of class politics. The writing was clever, and the performances spot on. Season Eight was a mess what with the attempt to meld the two different approaches and felt wrongly simply. It missed terribly the ever present sense of isolation of previous years.

I'm very much hoping for a return of the character rather than gag based approach, though with all the apparent filming on Coronation Street, that's not looking likely. It'll be interesting to see how much they can really do with just two episodes and (presumably) an even lower budget.

"nuclear" family

Ask Why in (nearly) every sitcom nominally about some kind of "nuclear" family do the children consist of an younger brother and older sister?

neo-[insert older movement]

Architecture National Museums Liverpool have updated the flickr collection for the new Museum of Liverpool at the Pier Head. It really is an extraordinary looking building, which unlike the range of skyscrapers that are due to shoot up along the waterfront has a distinctive look that plays off against the flow of the Mersey's waves.

I know there have been some criticisms of its location, juxtaposed against the Albert Dock on one side and the so-called three graces on the other, but for me, this is exactly what architecture should be doing, each new generation and movement easily identifiable in comparison to what's gone before. If everything is just neo-[insert older movement], art stagnates [via].

a hundred humans

Geography What if there were only a hundred humans? "If we could turn the earth's population into a small community of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have nowadays, it would look something like this." [via]

what an eyesore

Geography Fences are periodically built in Sefton Park for various reasons (road races, circuses, food festivals) which impede passage across the main field to Lark Lane. They're some block-and-mesh -- simple, function and though horrible to look at, always temporary. I certainly wouldn't be happy with anything like this border fence which is being thrown up in El Paso near Annette. I understand why it's there, but I agree with her, what an eyesore. And not particularly environmentally friendly, to boot.

the kind of sitcom I'd ignore

TV Free Agents sounds like exactly the kind of sitcom I'd ignore after reading the Radio Times listing, but this behind the scenes 'expose' lists some of the talent involved and the passion behind the enterprise so I'm firmly nudged in the direction of giving it some time:
"For writer Chris Niel, who is huddled over a giant coffee, this must be very strange. Free Agents grew out of his time as an actors' agent, so on set he has practically been watching the re-enactment of his own life. "My first marriage broke up, and I was working in this place that was almost like an emotional casualty ward," he says. "There was a weird comedy paradox between this ultra-sophisticated and occasionally quite glamorous world, and all these car-crash personal lives."
Nira Park from one of the producers of Spaced and Black Books is working on this and it stars Sharon Horgan. That's pretty convincing, isn't it?

Some Spotify tips.

Music Spotify isn't very good at suggesting new music listening ideas yet. There are playlists and what have you but they only really tease out variations on the kind of thing you like, which doesn't really work if you tend to like everything. Here are some of the methods I've been using to find the surprising and unusual. Some Spotify tips.

Subscribe to music blogs and news feeds. As I said in my original article, Spotify adds an interactive option to reading about music on and off line -- you can now listen to it at the same time and unlike many of the services I talk about below, you're more likely to find ideas related to genres other than rock.

At lunch time today, The Guardian published this article about The Black Keys. Sure enough, here they are on Spotify. In the past I would have seen a post like that but might not have gone out of my way to hear the work itself. But I was listening to their new album in seconds. It's really rather good, even if or because the lead singer sounds a bit like Bono. It doesn't always work -- there's often a delay before new albums appear, so no The Airborne Toxic Event yet.

The Spotify Blog is much the same thing, but indicates when new music has definitely been uploaded and links directly to the album using a Spotify URL. Also, has links to other useful sources including Add To Spotify, a Digg-style suggestion engine reminding the creators of the application about omissions to their database and has a 'fixed page' for when a gap has been filled. Hello, the Sugababes's first and best album, One Touch, which has finally appeared.

This Twitter search for 'spotify' is often filled with people looking for invites and mentioning they've discovered the application. But keep an eye on the page and after a while you begin to notice users recommending music that they like and sometimes, musicians with Twitter feeds pointing to their albums, which is how I discovered Sofia Talvik's beautiful Blue Moon.

If you have a Twitter client, this becomes even easier and more social.

Tweetdeck has an option to set up a column based on a particular keyword search which then updates whenever it's mentioned somewhere in the network. This afternoon I added a search column for Spotify and watched the reviews and links flow upwards, even helping a new user to get to grips with the in-application recommendation engine. If it hadn't been for this I would never have heard Go Go Ninja Dinosaur and my day would have been a fraction less joyful.

As for playlists, Topsify generates links to various music charts which is like listening to a commercial radio station without the distraction of DJs. Listiply, Spotify Lists, Spotify Playlists and Spotylist collect user generated playlists which is about as hit and miss as you'd expect but there's often something good. Google Blog Search is similarly useful.

And don't forget the feeling listless soundtrack, my own playlist which I'm still constantly updating with new discoveries.

It's cheaper to sleep these days than sit down.

At least I was right about that one thing.

Film I've been quite reticent about seeing Jake Paltrow's The Good Night and not simply because, despite the cast, it slipped out into the cinema's largely unheralded and limped onto dvd without much fanfare. Lovefilm even sent a copy which was returned unwatched. It's because I horrible feeling it was all too similar to a script I'd written, to the extent that when I read about it's imminence this time last year, I posted said script on here for people to compare and contrast. You can skim that here, should you want to, along with an explanation as to why I wrote it and what's wrong with it.

Having finally watched Paltrow's film this evening, I can breath a sigh of relief. It's nothing like my script. Also, it's not very good. Pete from Freaky Trigger called it his worst film of 2008 which is a bit harsh. It's not that bad. The performances are good, even if Penelope Cruz seems to have been hired because the director's seen Vanilla Sky/Abre los Ojos and knows how exotic she can be in a dream world. It could potentially have some interesting things to say about dreams and fantasies can interfere with the process of dealing with everyday responsibilities and making the most of what you have. It's probably just that I look at Paltrow's film, the talent involved, and wonder why it doesn't aspire to be something deeper. Perhaps there were production problems, particularly at the editing stage.

It's precisely the lucid dreaming aspect that doesn't really work; the film is at its best when Martin Freeman's arguing with Simon Pegg about his womanising tendencies or dealing with the break-up of his relationship with Gwyneth. Whenever the dream material, including the connected conversations with Danny De Vito hove in, they feel bolted on, and often you're waiting for these sequences to end so that the 'proper' story can progress. There's nothing in these which couldn't have been accomplished just as well with Freeman meeting Cruz in a bar and him having a remarkable but clandestine relationship with her.

My script, for all of its flaws (too much going on, too much narrative, Debbie Gibson lyrics) is just about the dreams. It mirrors some aspects of The Good Night; the fact that having entered this dream world, the real version suffers because it simply can't compare. When my protagonist meets the real version of his girlfriend from the dreamworld, she's nothing like the 'fantasy' and they don't get along. Nice Imagination ends in some kind of tragedy and with hope, though unlike The Good Night it's generally without the shock value and more like a natural progression and nothing like either the aforementioned Cruise meets Cruz vehicle or Life on Mars.

The key difference is that I actually try to do something with lucid dreaming (even if I didn't know that's what it was called then), taking it into the fantasy genre by having all of the characters linked together through some kind network of the subconscious in which they're all sharing this dream world, a kind of Second Life of the mind. When he meets real Sophie (who doesn't know about the dream Sophie because she doesn't remember her dreams), they form a relationship and what I should have realised at the time of writing is that the really interesting element is this idea of a man two timing with essentially the same woman in two different planes of existence, with the dream Sophie leaving him when she realises, underscoring that you can have the real thing or the fantasy but not both.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this. I don't have much of a plan to do anything with my script, or the idea. It feels old fashioned now, like a accessible tv Charlie Kauffman with elements of everything from Sliding Doors to The Matrix to Steven Moffat's Doctor Who. It was written in a hurry for a competition which was looking for something more realistic, presumably with more shouting and with pavements rather than orchards. My dialogue is stilted and everyone sounds the same and I know I lack the emotional maturity particularly in matters of the heart to be able to pitch the central relationship so that it has a core reality reality rather than some piece of wish fulfilment.

I'm very pleased that Mary liked it, whoever she is/you are. Also, one of the conceits of my script was that the real world would be shot on 16mm or the footage would be treated to give it a grainy documentary look and would seem washed out and Jason's dreams would be in glorious, slightly over exposed 35mm so that the colours popped out. When I brought it up at the opening meeting for the competition I was told it would be a waste of time because it wouldn't work on a television screen. Paltrow uses a similar technique in The Good Night and in fact it really does work. In fact, it looks amazing. At least I was right about that one thing.

I swore at the television. Loudly.

Life The snow is drifting in Liverpool now, as thick I've seen since we moved to Sefton Park in the early nineties. We've often referred to there being a white out here when just frost has blanketed the land. Now, looking out across the field it's almost impossible to see anything, only the silhouettes of kids and parents playing, though slowly they're disappearing too.

At about two o'clock this afternoon, just as I was getting ready to go out and buy a newspaper, I swore at the television. Loudly. In fact, I used the words fuck and off. A report about the weather had appeared on BBC News. During a montage of vox pop interviews recorded during rush hour this morning, a snow-swept man was shown standing in front of a London tube station said: "The roads haven't been gritted," he said "You can't get about... it's like we're living in a third world country."

I hate vox pops at the worst of times. In select circumstances, admittedly, they can offer a valuable eye witness account, even with the prevalence of camera phones whipped out of pockets at the merest hint of something newsworthy happening. But more often than not, they're verbal noise, ill informed filler material when a report is running short in which a member of the public finds themselves desperately try to say something intelligent when a camera or microphone or both has been shoved under their nose.

Which is why I know our friend didn't think his language was as offensive as all that. He was obviously very unhappy that the snow had brought the city to a standstill and disrupted his routine. True it can snow in third world countries, but he's referring to our infrastructure not being able to cope with the influx of weather which is a bit different to not having access to running water. Ever.

As Rob says, our country is unused to these conditions, we don't have the infrastructure because its such an uncommon scenario these days. Having worked for a council, I know how difficult it can be to grit an entire area, and because you don't have the staff or vehicles, you have to pick and choose where you're going to attend and someone will always be disappointed.

So let's just enjoy it while it's here, shall we, and not lose our temper about it. And yes, I do appreciate the irony of me saying that.

Another Snow Day.

Another Snow Day., originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

'wifey material'

Blog! Team GB track star Tasha Danvers quite properly gives what for to some bloke for his 'manual' on 'wifey material':
"Learn how to to open door and pull out chairs every once in a while. I know it's so foreign to you but a real hubby knows how to act. And when he's dating you he actually calls to see if you got home safe. He'll drive everyone in a while, instead of putting his seat way back chillin while you're trying to figure out where the restaurant is. A real hubby won't try to get you between the sheets before he's even taken you out to eat."
This is the original specimen. I guess he's joking ... at least I hope he is ...

She gives good hugs.

Meme [via]

When was the last time you splurged on a gift for yourself?
The DVD/PVR recorder was a pretty big purchase. It's fine, by the way, though the Freeview/DVB did crash the other day which is ... worrying. Though since every Freeview box I've ever had has crashed at some point I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

Have you ever bought yourself a gift for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, a birthday or any other occasion and then wrapped it up and pretended it was from someone else?
Nooo... thank goodness.

Have you ever sent yourself flowers, chocolates or anything else to your place of employment so it seemed as if someone else were sending you a gift?
Nooo.... thank goodness.

How often do you text message?
Hardly at all. Usually only to make appointments/for going out. I reply to more than I send.

Is there someone you’d like to fix things with?
Do you want the list? Though in truth I think it's probably just paranoia.

Are there any previous relationships you wish could have lasted longer?
Nope. Though there's an answer I could give but won't. It's a thing.

When do you blow out the candles?

Do you give out second chances too easily?
No. But I tend to be a fairly good judge of character so it doesn't tend to get that far.

What’s the next big decision you will have to make?
What to do when I get up tomorrow.

If you could cuddle with anyone right now, who would you pick, and why?
My friend Leo. She gives good hugs.

Who is probably talking a load of crap about you right now?
No one's even talking about me right now anyway I suspect.

Who was the last person to REALLY piss you off?
No one you'd know.

Would you ever want to be a supermodel?
Male or female?

Do you know what you will wear tomorrow?
Sadly, I do. Some things don't change.

Your motivation for tomorrow?
I refer the right honourable internet to the answer I gave some moments ago.

What is the last thing you put your lips against?
A glass of orange juice.

Have you ever gone two or more days without changing your underwear?
No. That I know of.

Have you ever accidently eaten an insect?
I always suspect that I have.

What serial killer do you find most disturbing?
The irrational kind.

Are you ever purposely irritating?
Gosh, yes. But only if someone's being particularly irrating too in the first place.

Are you cheating on your significant other right now?
What significant other?

Are you contemplating cheating on your significant other right now?
How significant.

When was the last time you sat down and watched kiddie cartoons?
Transformers: The Movie ...

Do you sleep with one leg out from the covers?
Not on purpose.

Do you have any text messages that you would be embarrassed to let your mom read?
No. That's sad, isn't it?

How old would you be when you finally have kids/ or next kids?
There's a whole adventure which needs to happen before that becomes a possiblity.

Have you ever thought about converting to a new religion?
I think we've already discussed that I dabbled with Christianity in my early teens but ultimately decided that a belief system developed by man can never provide all the answers.

Do you know anyone with the same first name as you?
Not right now.

When was the last time you went to church?
To watch a good friend get married at the turn of the century.

Would you rather eat a Milky Way or eat a Twix? Double Decker.

Do you like that new shoe smell?

Do you like the taste of licorice?

Did you ever flip out on a teacher and walk out of a class?
Don't know. No. Um. No.

If you were to compare your real family to a TV family, which one would they closely resemble?
Quantum Leap.

What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Don't talk about work. Ever.

What imaginary pet would you love to own?

What was your favorite book as a child?
The Midnight Folk by John Masefiend

Out of all the cars you owned which one was your favorite?
Can't drive.

What is the coldest place/state that you ever visited?

As a child did you ever walk to school or carry your lunch?
Yes to both. Until secondary school.

Ever rode in a hot air balloon?
No. But I'd like to.

Have you ever fainted?
Full story..

What is your favorite quote?
"Wherever you go, there you are..."