This week's reading is taken from ...

Sums up a whole country in just four photographs.

The Top Ten Things I Learnt From Going To Sci-Fi Conventions
From Bob Fisher author of Wiffle Lever to Full. One of these days...

Swine flu turns my son into Woody Allen
"When I was in school, I cheated on my metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me."

New Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Movie Trailer
I hate myself for wanting to see this just because of the cast. And Darth. I know it's going to be rubbish.

Adding revolving headlines to the BBC Red Button homepage
I only understand about a quarter of this, but I love that the BBC allows its public face to be so expressively geeky.

Ward & White's Karaoke Circus
Because even those of us who can't sing deserve a decent band too.

Inflatable Enclosures
I always wanted one of these for the garden.

TV Review: News Wipe with Charlie Brooker, *BBC Four*
Mof says everything I would want to about the programme. It has been a revelation and made it near impossible to look at news media now without some kind of cynicism about how much of the truth has been obscured or misreported because of some hidden agenda.

Manchester's Peregrine Falcons are back!
It's Naturewatch without Bill Oddie's sinister innuendo.

BBC2 to position original drama as ‘major event of the week’
After my rant last time we did this, it's great to see the channel's new controller taking the bull by the horns and trying to do something with it. Which she would given that she's the last person who made BBC Four great. Is she the reason they've scheduled a bunch of interesting documentaries in the 7 o'clock slot every night next week?

Famous fans are excited by Angels' comeback
Mark Kermode fulfils his dream of introducing the Comsat Angels.

Faber’s Beckett covers
Wonderful, minimalist designs that attempt to capture what the play write originally wanted.

Blog it!
Flog It! visits Liverpool.

* Take cover: you're about to have a new favourite girlband
Girls Can't Catch -- what !?! Still, Shazney Lewis is writing for them so...

95 Old School Games You Can Still Play Online
Hours of fun for everyone.

Jewel Announces West Coast Tour Supporting Her New Album "Lullaby"
Not for kids actually. "It's all mellow mood music so if you want to come home at night and relax its all really lyric driven," I'm still there.

Geocities: Lessons So Far
Jason Scott's archive team are download and backing up Geocities. Wow. That is a lot of reading.

Possibly the Most Difficult Post I Have Ever Written
As good a piece of writing about dealing with a religion and the sexuality it abhors that I've seen.

The fall and rise and fall and rise and fall
I don't have a problem with remakes. I do have a problem with remakes that aren't clever enough (like BSG) to do something completely different.

Packing Hell
"I don't know when or why, but somewhere in my upbringing it was instilled in me that the highest of all human virtues is traveling light."

5 Things About “Love Actually”
The end of the film is a mess. Jamie (Colin Firth) apparently enters his family’s home after the chart show ends (usually at seven o’clock on a Sunday), and the audience is expected to believe that on Christmas Eve he is able to flag a taxi to the airport, fly to Marseilles, take a taxi to Aurelia’s village, find her house then the restaurant at which she is employed so that he can proposing to her. The Earth being dragged back into orbit in Doctor Who I can accept. But that's just pure fantasy.

Real life Twitter..!
Expect this to be ripped off by a UK sketch show very soon.

10 Worst Countries to be a *Blogger*
More outrages from the unreported world.

And now on BBC1, it’s time to pour another glass of…
I read somewhere else that the BBC have been trying to cancel this for years but are scared of the outrage.

Filling Young Minds
Spot the moment which made me feel like I was about a hundred years old.

What’s the Matter With Margaret?
I'd wondered what happened to the writer-director of You Can Count on Me. Now I know. Post-production hell. Make sure you read the comments too, because they fill in some of the gaps in the story.

Do beautiful 404 error pages still help users?
Not always, but I'd rather that than simply 'page cannot be displayed'. It's instructive to know that the website you're looking at still exists a bit.

Hollywood feels the pinch: Film production at standstill
"In the last few months there have been precisely two big-budget movies shot in Los Angeles - Iron Man II and Tim Burton's new version of Alice in Wonderland - with just six more in the pipeline for the rest of 2009. That compares with 21 major film shoots last year, and 71 in 1996."

A new format war?
It's still hard to believe that in a couple of years my 500gb hard disk is going to look antiquated.

Victoria Raimes: Twitter craze is going down a tweet
For the headline.

I'm a terrible human being. I have punched my mum in the face - metaphorically, that is. I have left home
For the comments. Congratulations to The Guardian for nurturing new talent, even if putting Tom in Charlie Brooker's slot is akin to throwing him to the lions.

geocities rescue


We recently got on-digital.

Yes - we're the one.

We almost didn't. When I went into the local Dixons to hire, the sale person was all too quick to tell us to get Sky 'Because its better". But we didn't want Sky, and not just because of the whole Rupert Murdock ownership conscience. You see we live atop a high rise and in strong winds, saucer sightings are sure to increase. So is Sky better, or is on-digital, though not necessarily cheaper, simply better for your health? Let's look at the evidence, channel-by-channel.

NB: Even though our set is an 'ordinary' shape we've set the thing to 'widescreen' ratio - out of curiosity. So now you know.

BBC One / BBC Two/ ITV / Channel 4 There is something initially quite disconcerting about watching regular television in widescreen. For a start, there is all the extra space for everyone to move. But more than that it's impossible not to mentally work out how the full screen picture would look. Is it actually better - well yes - to a point. Study based dramas and soaps don't actually look any more like film, and sitcom especially tends to look plain wrong. News programming becomes necessarily more cinematic and so more dramatic, although the weather maps are even smaller.

ITV2 is something of a televisual ghetto for US programming. Letterman is shown here a night after the states, and there are stripped re-runs of 'Northern Exposure'. 'Townies' an ensemble sitcom set in the big city - a sort of blue collar 'Friends' featuring Molly Ringwald and a pre-Dhama Jenna Elfman - pretty funny, even if some characters don't have much to do; 'Sheena' - Gena Lee Nolan trades in her bathing suit for a leopard skin bikini - not exactly Buffy; 'Felicity', basically 'Dawson's Creek' in college, if grungier and with more of a 'My So-Called Life' view on life - one the Channel 4 imports that got away. As a channel, lack cohesion. We like that they show youth shows and the like, but seems like an excuse to have an extra digital channel just in case. SKY viewers not missing too much.

Channel 5 is missing from our programme list. Not in the right area. A good thing? Discuss.

BBC Choice is an excuse to re-run BBC programming and like ITV2 seems to be an excuse to have an extra digital channel just in case. Runs the same CBBC programming all day - so back-to-back episiodes of The Tweenies, Teletubbies, Chucklevision and Pigeon Street of all things ('One looks up, one looks down').

BBC News 24 could do with letting its hair down a bit - the only newsreaders who seem to have a personality are on in the middle of the night, perhaps because no one is watching, so who cares. Good for spotting Radio Five presenters getting in some TV experience (cat in headlights doesn't even begin to describe Five Live lynchpin Ian Paine's appearance the other day) and washed-up BBC One newscasters (Andrew Harvey, Philip Hayton).

BBC Parliament offers a blank screen, some text and politicians direct from the commons. Who other than politicians and broadcasters would watch?

E4 currently showing near 24 hour coverage of Big Brother. Much has already been written about this, but it really has to be seen to be believed. Probably the most banal programme ever created (even more so than the 'Open Door' tree incident - ask your Dad), wrings excitement from whether someone will have tea or coffee. Trouble is, its so damn compelling. Sat today watching the housemates piling up sugar cubes into towers and trying to work out the best technique. Perhaps of most interest to fans if only to see how biased the highlights show on Channel 4 actually is. What of the rest? Good to see 'The West Wing' early - and 'The Priory Clinic' has the distinction of being funnier than the main show.

Sky One is a good place to go if you like 'The Simpsons' and 'Star Trek'. For the rest of us we have early showings of Buffy, Angel and Roswell. Like ITV2, difficult to pin down as a channel, attempts at homegrown programming just seeming inferior to everyone else.

Granada Plus seems to think that we want to watch re-runs of Miami Vice and Kojak every night. They'd be wrong. Odd seeing Taggart from when the title actually meant something.

MTV seems a poor relation to its US cousin. Surely Mike Nesmith never wanted us to sit through 'Lady Marmalade' on such heavy rotation? And although we like some R&B, there is other music around.

British Eurosport like things that move fast. Cars. Motorbikes. Superbikes. Slow down.

Carlton Cinema feels like the old BBC2 strand, Moviedrome, a veritable Scorsese wetdream. Pity the Nine O'clock 'recent' films aren't up to much. Does anyone really want to see tonight's offering 'Men at Work' - the Emilio Estevez / Charlie Sheen 'comedy'? Currently running a Russell Crowe season - seemingly his entire back catalogue from before LA Confidential.

Discovery Kids - science shows for American kids. Johnny Ball not in sight.

Discovery Wings. Someone at on digital must be an aviation fan, because rather than offering THE Discovery channel, we have this. Some good space documentaries however.

Granada Breeze for all your daytime TV needs. 'This Morning' for hours on end.

Granada Men & Motors or rather Discovery Cars and free porn.

PLAY uk is what I was expecting from MTV. Pop videos for hours on end. Inconsistent re-runs of BBC shows (how?). Home grown comedy includes Pop Profiles in which Jamie Theakston (the busiest presenter on TV) interviews George Doors in a variety of guises (ABBA, Bucks Fizz, Steps).

Taste CFN or what the chefs off-of Ready Steady Cook do instead. Wall to wall food programmes. And they aren't kidding. Even more fun for spotting old BBC kids presenters (Mark Curry, Debbie Greenwood, Paul Coya). Features one of the dullest game shows in existence, a 'general knowledge' quiz about food with the scouser from the Holiday programmes who thinks he's Craig Charles. Features contestants 'Wipeout' would reject. Also has panel game with Paul 'I'll do anything' Ross. Typical guests - Floella Benjamin, Geoff Capes, Jim Bowen.

UK Gold was my actual reason for getting this whole thing. Doctor Who, you see. Pity about all that comedy. Do we really need to see that same episode of 'My Hero' the Ardal O'Hanlan sitcom so many times?

Cartoon Network. Johnny Bravo, we salute you.

UK Style / UK Horizons - three days of one, four days the other. For fans of make-over shows and docusoaps. Strangely compelling.

Nickelodeon, Goody. Rugrats. We like Alex Mac though.

Paramount Comedy Channel reruns of Frasier, Taxi and Cheers. Ten year old episodes of Drop The Dead Donkey. Whose Line is it Anyway with John Sessions pretending to be Dylan Thomas all the time. Timeless.

well being, at the end of the dial and watching it you feels like the end of your life. The production values of a shopping channel, despite the face they aren't actually selling you anything. Call in if you have an ailment and want advice on treatment. I thought that was what the NHS hotline was for . . .

So is on digital worth it? For me certainly (weekly Who) and it is nice to see imports months ahead of schedule. And if you are at all interested in food, there is always something on. But on-digital's lack of success is easily attributable. Inconsistencies, such as channels with a very narrow focus (airplanes, health) coupled with odd scheduling (UK Style / UK Horizon) can make for some confusion. And the price. The various film channels (unreviewed) are available, but cost an extra £21 - not terribly competitive in comparison with those men with dishes. Close call, then. ****

geocities rescue: introduction

TV As you might have heard, Geocities was put on life support recently and you'll remember, the ur-version of this blog was at said free web hosting company, as a series of static pages. The full story was revealed at the fifth anniversary.

Over the years, I've reposted some of the content on here in various guises, but I'd like to make sure everything has been replicated so in the coming months, in the midst of everything else, I'm going to post whatever hasn't been yet, warts, typos and all. It's not great literature. Some of it's appalling. But I'm a bit of a hoarder, and it would a shame to lose this bit of the site's history.

The story has been repeated many times

Film Like Waltzes from Vienna, Hitchcock's Young and Innocent is something of a surprise considering its reputation. Perhaps the reason it’s rarely talked of glowingly is because of the politically incorrect final sequence which features a jazz band in black face and though that’s a distraction it doesn’t take away from a chaser that is just as impressive as The 39 Steps. Imagine The Bourne Identity premade as an Ealing Comedy with some Capraesque screwball comedy and you’re only half describing how entertaining this story of a man falsely accused of murder chasing across country with the daughter of the chief of police.

Reference is most often made to a climactic crane shot, the nature of which would give away the ending but I can say that Nova Pilbeam is adorable as the daughter (and you don’t get names like that any more unless they’re the daughter of a rockstar), her wide-eyes drawing the viewer towards the most important elements of each scene as much as the camera and Gerald Savory’s dialogue is structurally very similar to Robert Riskin’s in It Happened One Night, the slow development of a dysfunctional bond between her and the accused similar to the trust that develops between Gable and Colbert’s characters in that early screwball.

Next to The 39 Steps, Hitch’s most famous work of the period is The Lady Vanishes which someone I know ranks as her favourite film and it’s easy to see why with its vivid characterisation, tense plotting and wacked out unexpected climax. Hitch could have simply made all of the inhabitants of the hotel faintly suspicious as they deny having seen the old dear that Margaret Lockwood claims has gone missing, but instead he reveals their reasons, unfolding the rather British view of the world that Douglas Adams describes in one of his books as the Someone Else’s Problem Effect, then showing the results of their selfishness.

The story has been repeated many times, both in direct remakes and the likes of Flightplan or Changling, the element of a woman trying to convince people that she’s not going insane. In The Lady Vanishes, you're always pointing at the screen when a clue or something that proves that Lockwood’s character wasn’t seeing things hoves into view only to be snatched away before it can make a difference. But once those surprises have drifted away on repeat viewings it’s the other furniture that make it worth a repeat viewing, such as the loveable interplay between the cricket loving Caldicott and Charters who would later be resurrected in a series by the writers and actors like some 1940s Jay and Silent Bob, inserted to reflect on events, ultimately turning up as retirees for a television series in the mid-1980s (played by someone else).

Jamaica Inn is a bit of a retrograde step, recalling the murky direction of his British International Pictures and it’s clear that he’s wasn’t sure how to handle the material and so took his cues from Charles Laughton who doesn’t have much of an idea either. There’s nothing especially wrong with the performances, but the screenplay lacks any of the charm of his preceding six thrillers, and Hitch would later reflect that if he was making this adaptation again he’d keep the reveal of Laughton’s dual nature as lawman and pirate until way into the picture. He’s attempting his usual trick of creating tension by offering the audience more information about the situation than the main character is aware of, but it unbalances the story to have Laughton overpowering presence in almost every scene when it’s Maureen O'Hara’s tragic figure who requires our sympathy.

during the off season

TV Saturday night's have lately been shot through with a mix of dislocation and aimlessness, and general feeling of something gone astray. For the past few weeks, I've reached the end of the working day and wondered what I'd be doing with the evening, nothing planned and not much to get me motivated. It wasn't until last Saturday at about four o'clock I realised what was missing.

Doctor Who isn't on this year. Just as you'll often wake up at the right time even though you forgot to set your alarm clock and especially when you'd promised yourself a good lie in, I've become so accustomed to the show being on each Saturday in this portion of the year that I can feel its absence emotionally. It wasn't just the programme you see, there was the making of, the commentary, and the writing of the review.

This is madness and a bit sad (a bit?), though when I explained as much to a suitably disturbed looking co-worker, she pointed out that the symptoms weren't unlike a football supporter during the off season, which I like. Having gotten used to a particular leisure routine everything's been blown asunder. Which makes Torchwood the equivalent of a mid-week game, I suppose, and the upcoming five parter, the World Cup.

Which means you have to get your fix where you can. Football fans have the Italian League and we have the audios, Doctor Who Magazine and as it turns out Dickenson's Real Deal which this afternoon featured as a contestant Scotland's Anne-Marie, who's a dead ringer for Billie Piper. Let's give her some of Rose's dialogue and see what happens:

"You're all the same. Give a man a plastic hand... "

"Blimey, you can smell the testosterone."

"You told me nothing could get through those doors."

It's uncanny.

Does anyone know what this tune is?

Music A tune has been rattling around my brain for hours but I can't put my finger on what it is. Here's my attempt at singing it. Does anyone have any ideas?

Press play now ...


It's from Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to Terrance Malick's film Days of Heaven:

Not bad. I worked it out on my way to work today. I remembered this shot of Richard Gear attop a train:

And though they don't appear together in the actual film, I think, they do during the documentary about cinematogaphy Visions of Light, which draws much of its music from Morricone's themes for Terrance Malick's film.

The melody for this is very much like opening few bars Medieval composer Jacque Arcadelt's Ave Maria [spotify] [youtube] which is what I was listening to last night and set me off.

The stuff I have rattling about in my head...

Heroes is taking a break

TV Just noticed via my PVR's EPG -- Heroes is taking a break next week due to the Snooker World Championship. The knock on effect of which being that those of us who've been watching a week ahead on BBC Three might have to wait three weeks for the finale (assuming they follow the usual pattern of only showing it on BBC Two). I know that we've been spoilt so far in receiving the series only a week behind its US premiere, but this does remind me of the old days when you had to keep an eye on the schedule during the summer months in case you missed the random transmissions of Star Trek between football, rugby and oh yes, snooker.

It's a particular shame because the upturn in quality since Bryan Fuller returned as been marked and very pleasing and one of those rare occasion when a series can be seen to appreciably and positively change when a different mind is working behind the scenes.* There are the same characters, same settings, similar storyline, but the quality of the writing has improved, with a marked increase in philosophical depth to the text, more character dimension, more interesting shooting and editing and a return to the extraordinary images of the first series (though admittedly on what's obviously a smaller budget). I can't wait to see what he does when faced with plotting a whole new chapter instead of simply finishing off someone else's misfire.

* Previous examples include Michael Pillar taking over at Star Trek: The Next Generation in Season Three and the 'I can't believe it's not Sorkin' episodes of The West Wing by Deborah Cahn, Eli Attie and Peter Noah (from seasons six and seven). Though I still haven't forgiven any of them for what they did to Toby.

the alternative ending for Life On Mars UK

TV Wow, I can't believe this has leaked. It's the alternative ending for Life On Mars UK.

You can see why it was changed ...


Medicine Given that people that many more people than usual seem to be suffering from hay-fever this year (including me) and the pandemic alert level has been raised as swine flu hits Britain I really wouldn't want to be a GP today. Or work at a chemist. Or at NHS Direct.

Hay fever symptoms:

# Repeated sneezing attacks
# Runny or itchy nose
# Itchy or watery eyes
# Itchy throat, palate and ears
# Loss of concentration
# General feeling of being unwell (hence 'fever')

Swine flu symptoms:

# fever
# cough
# sore throat
# body aches
# headache
# chills
# fatigue

This can't go well.

this week's popular music

  • Right, let's review this week's popular music, according to Radio 1 until I can't stand it any more. Engage Spotify...

  • Yes, I can't understand why Tynchy Stryder is at number one, either. Ironic. Weren't the London Boys doing this kind of thing 15 years ago?
  • Genuinely like La Roux especially the bit which sounds like it was sampled from the loading music of a Commodore 64c cassette game.
  • Calvin Harris is not on Spotify. I am alone.
  • If La Roux is a Commodore 64c, does that make Lady Gaga a Sinclair Spectrum+? Who'll turn out to be an Amstrad CPC?
  • Eminem sounds like it'd be cutting edge about 5 years ago. Which it was. Boils down to being Vogue-like list of celebrities as rap. Um.
  • Still haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire (I know!) I hope it's better than the Pussycat Dolls which samples from it. I miss Cornershop.
  • Oh, so Ciara rhymes with Sierra not Kiora! At least I've learnt something from this pile of doo-doo. All of this music sounds the same.
  • Isn't the CO2 advert on Spotify a massive rip-off of an Armstrong and Millar sketch? Can they sue?
  • Not the best song on I Am Sasha Frieze. I wish Beyonce would choose one thing and stick with it.
  • Wow, a track from an album I own. I love Lily Allen. Not one iota of this is misjudged & as a chorus can properly sing along to. Wow.
  • The Noisette's sounds like the best Eurovision track we never had. Not that we'd win either way.
  • I wonder if Metro Station have also been impacted by the pulling up of the tram network in Manchester. Sounds it.
  • I can't stand any more of this. I'm off to watch a Claude Chabrol film and eat some brioche to reaffirm my elitist credentials.
  • crossover potential

  • Ham Life: The Now Show, 23 April 2009
  • On the spot review of Friday's show. Includes photographs for the curious. It's still available on iplayer and as a podcast and features a rather brilliant cameo from some comedy royalty.

  • This kind of thing seems to have increasingly seeped into what's supposed to be tv news programming. One of these days, we great unwashed will be asked for our opinion on a topic and actually have something interesting to say. Though I secretly expect that the really impressive stuff is left on the computer and it's the bland comments, unlikely to offend anyone which are actually read out on air.

  • For Sale Ad Fail
  • See above.

  • Warner Music representative creates firestorm by suggesting tweep steal music and download it to his "brat blog" after he complained it was impossible to buy
  • Customer service fail, especially since Warner Music don't have been asked directly for their opinion in the first place. I recently asked Spotify by Madeleine Peyroux's album Bare Bones isn't with them yet, but haven't got a reply. Perhaps that's the better policy.

  • Two women in a room.
  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor has a new collaboration coming out. Sounds like early naughties retro. See if you can spot her vocal buried in the mix.

  • The Play’s The Thing - An Easy Guide To Liking Shakespeare Onscreen
  • Pretty good survey which covers all the bases and even mentions Julie Taymor's Titus. To the list I'd add My Kingdom, which is King Lear in Liverpool gangland and the most recent A Midsummer Night's Dream, the one with Kevin Kline as Bottom and Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania. It's an underrated piece of magic.

  • Schwarzenegger Approves Virtual Version of Himself for Terminator Salvation
  • "You're not sending me to the cooler..."

  • BBC2: 45 years of contrast
  • I keep meaning to write my long post about what's gone wrong with BBC Two though it largely amounts to some numptiness about it almost completely losing its identity, having become the scheduling dumping ground for programmes which don't seem quite right on any of the BBC's other stations or for rerunning shows that do. Oh and not being able to do much as their successes are poached to put up on the main channel more often than not because they probably should have been there in the first place.

  • Scheduling Radio 4
  • It should be as distinctive as Radio Four. You should be able to look at one of its programmes and say 'That's very BBC2" but even with some of their drama output I'm not sure that you can. In this post at their blog, they show that the key to their success is varying the theme with banded programming expectations.

  • Color, shape, movement . . . and talk
  • The legacy of Saul Bass.

  • Royal Mint Launches 2012 Olympics Coin
  • Proof that the logo still looks horrible even when painted onto a five pound coin.

  • Measure for Measure is a Jacobean play
  • What looks to be the whole of the general introduction to the Oxford edition of my joint favourite Shakespeare masterpiece and given the news which is coming out of Pakistan recently in relation to the Taliban, a play that is as relevant as ever.

  • Newman, Hoffman, Redford and me
  • Largely a York Notes version of Adventures in the Screen Trade though there's an interesting bit of gossip: Slumdog Millionaire nearly went straight to dvd. Which just confirms that no one knows anything, especially these days.

  • Know Your Meme: Jean-Luc Picard
  • "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra."

  • '*Star Wars*' fan boldy goes in search of the 'Star...
  • Star Wars fan watches the ten Star Trek films all together. Has most of the same opinions about them as the rest of us. Especially about The Final Frontier. "What does God need with a starship?" etc.

  • Why '*Star Wars*' fans will love new 'Trek'
  • "Hayden Christensen Isn't In It: 'Nuff said."

  • Poles
  • "I have this fear of telegraph poles, and I’ve been planning out a short story based on it, but I thought that in the mean time I’d tell you all about my actual fear, and how it came about."

  • Republican Congressperson Totally Pwns Secretary of...
  • Ignorance is bliss. Unless you're representing a congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in which case it's criminal.

  • LOST RECAP RECAP: Confusing Things Happen, and It...
  • Man reads out someone else's blog posts about Lost claiming they're his own. Is found out. Seems to go into hiding, whilst some of his fans mount a defence suggesting that since the person he ripped off was writing about someone else's tv show and using some of their material in the process, she's as guilty as he is of plagiarism, thereby illustrating they've not sure of the difference between plagiarism and fair use.

  • Sugacoobs: Cinemas closed for winter on Nat's new...
  • Review of Natalie Imruglia's new film. Suggests crossover potential.

  • ESC Radio is non-stop sound of Eurovision
  • We're going to lose. Again. We were similarly robbed in 2001:


    Rainbow!, originally uploaded by feelinglistless.