especially on Today

Politics Chris Addison in The New Statesman says that both politicians and the news media should leave satire to the satirists:
"The reporting of politics on television and radio in this country is itself turning into a joke. It doesn't help that most TV bulletins give the impression that those involved have misunderstood The Day Today and taken it to be some sort of training video. The reporting is overlaid with a patina of knowing, matey awfulness, and every report seems to start from the standpoint that all the politicians involved are foolish and the reporter could have told them it would end up this way."
I stopped watching television news on purpose a couple of years ago in favour of Radio 4. Sometimes it can be capable of the crassness that Addision is describing (especially on Today), but most often its just the facts attitude is refreshing.

On Friday night, PM dedicated its first fifteen minutes to describe the results of the latest Potters Bar enquiry, unpicking the implications and speaking to interested parties, sensitively and without a hint of sensationalism. It's still available on the iPlayer and well worth a listen as a good demonstration of how broadcast news should be done.


Theatre Woody Allen's full length plays have finally been translated -- into Iranian:
"The plays ‘Play it again, Sam’ and ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ written by Woody Allen and translated by Behrang Rajabi are published by Cheshmeh publications in 2000 copies and price of 3500 Tomans."
To be honest that press release is worth reading because its quite some time since I've seen anything which has to explain who Woody is and to see what's left in and out.


History Reading the Writing on Pompeii’s Walls at the Smithsonian. It's the Roman twitter:
"Rebecca Benefiel stepped into the tiny dark room on the first floor of the House of Maius Castricius. Mosquitoes whined. Huge moths flapped around her head. And – much higher on the ick meter—her flashlight revealed a desiccated corpse that looked as if it was struggling to rise from the floor. Nonetheless, she moved closer to the walls and searched for aberrations in the stucco. She soon found what she was looking for: a string of names and a cluster of numbers, part of the vibrant graffiti chitchat carried on by the citizens of Pompeii ..."
Translation: "RT: @judianreg Thenacuth'th Oediputh #pilatethplayth"

the argument fits here too.

Books In Defense of Amazon:
This isn’t the case with Amazon. Before it appeared on the scene, if you lived in a part of the country that happened not to be served by a great independent bookstore, you were out of luck when it came to getting books other than bestsellers. As a child growing up in suburban Baltimore—not exactly a backwater!—I felt keenly the lack of ready access to the books that I wanted. (Remember the joke of a selection at your local mall’s Waldenbooks?) And with the quirkier independents—such as the great Louie’s to which I paid tribute above—you were at the mercy of the owner’s idiosyncrasies, which meant that you might find shelves stocked with contemporary poetry but nothing by, say, Tolstoy.
This is a US article but the argument fits here too. Arguably Borders UK went out of business because they reduced their selection, removing one of their main selling points. Waterstones isn't looking pleased for some of the same reasons (not least changing the branch to branch individual buying process in favour central warehousing).

Amazon stock almost everything, and if they don't have it, one of the indies who are selling through their website will. I also like that about Amazon. It supports independent retailers by providing them with an infrastructure to offer their wares. And cheaper, although clearly that helps us rather than them.

I've also seen people criticising Lovefilm lately for putting the high street video rental shops out of business. But I don't see Blockbuster or the majority of those indies stocking the Tommy Trinder or Bunuel films I received this week; along with cheaper retail dvds, viewers seem to be happy to sacrifice immediate choice for selection and price. Or at least I am.

That cannot be a coincidence.

Film Music Honestly, it's not just that Hans Zimmer based most of the musical score to Inception on “Non, je ne Regrette Rien” which punctuates the film in its own right ...

It's that Chris Nolan also hired Marion Cotillard who was the lead in the Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie En Rose, to play Leo's girlfriend. That cannot be a coincidence. But which came first, the casting or the song? Oh, the academic essays which will be written about this film ...

'My Hamlet'

Linda Marlowe, who appeared as Gertrude in the infamous Berkoff Hamlet was on Radio 4's Midweek yesterday morning because ...
"Her latest show is 'My Hamlet' which she is performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It consists of Linda, Shakespeare's greatest text and six brilliant puppeteers from Fingers Theatre, Georgia. She plays Sarah, a cleaner who finds herself playing the actor's definitive role, as a company of puppets come to life around her."
Should be available to listen here for the next six(ish) days. There is also a podcast.

aren't we all

Blog! One time Heardsaid contributor (aren't we all) and friend of the blog Tom Reynolds has quit his job as an ambulance man and will now be blogging under his real name Brian Kellett:
"As for this blog... well... I'm unsure of what form it's going to take in the future. WIll I be still writing about ambulance stuff? Will I be documenting my journey into urgent care? Will I just natter about whatever interests me at that moment in time? I'm not quite sure. Certainly I'm not going to stop writing and in fact, later today, I'm heading into town to have drinks and a chat with a friend about something we are planning together.

So I'll keep blogging, but I'll no longer be the 'ambulance blogger', I'll be 'that annoyingly nerdy blogger', which I think puts me in good company."
Good luck, Brian.


TV Remember this?
To: Licensing and Creative, Pyramid International (official licensees for Doctor Who posters)


While your Doctor Who character posters are very exciting, some of us fans and kids and fans who are kids and fans who have kids always love something interactive. It's why we purchase the Sonic Screwdrivers and standees in our droves.

Why not produce a poster of the crack in Amy Pond's wall when she was seven years old?
Well, ha!
At: Forbidden Planet.

Doctor Who
Poster: Crack In Time

"Oh dear - have you got a scary crack on your bedroom wall? Who knows what that could lead to?

Straight from the new series of Doctor Who a crack in the fabric of the universe all ready to hang about your home!

Poster measures 11.75" x 36"."
A couple of problems. The logo works against authenticity and it's the open shiny shiny crack from (I think) the Byzantium rather than something which will blend in.

But still look!


aren't there a lot of men?

Film You've probably seen this already, but just in case ...

To endorse the crowd, "woop" and "yeah"!

Except, my first reaction was: aren't there a lot of men?

Traditionally, The Avengers has been a predominantly male superhero team but even in the comics, The Wasp was a founding member. As you'd expect, the wikipedia has a list of members and I think I can see what the problem is. Here's a complete list of female teamsters from across the years from the various flavours of The Avengers:

The Wasp
Scarlet Witch
Ms. Marvel
Captain Marvel
Invisible Woman
Sharon Carter
Moira Brandon

Some of those will be tied up in the Fox X-Men license which I think includes any of the mutants in the Marvelverse (that's Scarlet Witch done for) and similar movie deals (Spiderwoman?). Others because they're part of a property that could be sold on-mass like The Inhumans. But mostly it's because outside of comics circles they're so horrendously obscure.

The only names that really have a cache are Firestar because of the Saturday morning cartoon and She-Hulk and it's unlikely that she'd be included in a film with her more famous cousin without the huge mass of baggage. Oh and Invisible Woman but that would be too weird.

It's a few years since I was really absorbed in Marvel Comics, but I can't think of another proper a-list female Marvel Comics character who isn't a derivation of an existing male character or depends on a super hero team for her existence. I even asked twitter and nothing quite fitted the bill.

Black Widow seems to be in this because Marvel consciously "introduced" her in Iron Man 2 and that might have worked for others from that list, The Wasp for example. But perhaps her non-appearance is because of the potential Ant-Man film, what with their continuity being linked together.

In other words the reason The Avengers is a men's room is not necessarily the film maker's fault. There just aren't enough female a-listers to go around. Which is a pity because Dichen Lachman would make an excellent Mantis. Or Emily Brunt as Hellcat. Or Ali Larter as Ms. Marvel. I'll stop.

Updated later in the day: Or not. A trailer has been released for a new cartoon series, which features the movie line-up plus Ant Man and The Wasp.

Ron Livingston and Michelle Monaghan had best keep their diaries clear.

how they're photographed

Music Conclusive proof that Zooey Deschanel only looks like Katy Perry depending on how they're photographed, which is not standing next to one another. Probably the most sought after pop culture photo since this.  Your next mission, paps, is Alex Jones and Christine Bleakley together.

the Eighth Doctor finally

TV As you've probably heard a dozen or so people suggest already, Moffat and Gatiss's new Sherlock is blistering entertainment, funny and enthralling (and great to see the later cantankerous version of the Eighth Doctor finally getting a tv series albeit called something else and not played by Paul McGann but you can't have everything). Gatiss offers some commentary:
"It didn't take long, though, for us both to shyly admit that our favourite versions of the oft-told tales were the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films of the 1930s and 1940s. Particularly the ones where they brought them up to date.

This may sound like heresy but really it isn't. Although Steven and I are second to none in loving the flaring gas-lit atmosphere of a lovely old London, it felt as though Sherlock Holmes had become all about the trappings and not the characters.

Also, the original stories are models of their kind. Incredibly modern, dialogue-driven, fast paced and short! What better way to get back to the roots of these fantastic creations than to make Holmes and Watson living, breathing, modern men just as they had been originally?"

Doctor Who Prom 2010.

TV Listening to a Doctor Who Prom on the radio should be a miserable experience for most fans simply because we’re not there and we can't see what we're missing. When the audience are reacting to whatever’s happening in the Royal Albert Hall, it’s not until the end of a piece that (in this case) presenter Petroc Trelawny explains that the eleven rhythmic applauses are for the video appearances of each of the different incarnations of the Doctor, so we should be disappointed that we couldn’t quite rightly cheer for Paul McGann at the correct moment (or whichever Doctor is wrongly your favourite).

Yet, Karen’s funny introductions in which she seemed be surprised by the sound of her own voice, Arthur's astonishment at the scale of the auditorium, the weight of the orchestral and choral sound and the infectious atmosphere in the hall were just enough to transport at least my thoughts to my imagined favourite spot just in front of the stage (which I hear in reality isn’t acoustically the best place to stand but it's my imagination so for me it is). Someone else from this parish was actually in the hall tonight (and will be again tomorrow lunch time) and may write about the experience so I don't really want to steal his thunder. But I did at least want to say, as Karen might, wasn't that, well, amazing?

This was also a fascinating first chance to hear the imaginarium of Murray Gold (orchestrated by Ben Foster) largely without the dialogue on top. First impressions in the prologue and The Mad Man with a Box were that in keeping with Moffat’s scripts, Gold had embraced the infantile qualities of the premise of the series by shifting from the ethereal qualities of “Flavia” to the kinds of der-der-der-dum-da-dum vocals that a child (and some adults) might use to interpret the music, essentially giving them something to sing along to. As the concert progressed, Gold was keen to demonstrate that although this is a new series with new themes, the range and ability he established in the previous era was still in effect.

This Is The Doctor, what we heard of it under being drowned out by the dialogue (for a chance – it's usually the other way round) in contrast to the Tenth Doctor's angsty theme, is broad and rhythmic with an added, strident level of heroism that suggests the character has moved on from the underlying tragedy of the first two incarnations of the new era. Battle in the Skies (Daleks vs Spitfires) may have lacked the raw vocal distinctiveness of the The Dark and Endless Dalek night, but the meddly Liz, Lizards, Vampires and Vincent better demonstrated the range of sounds that the composer has to produce across the series, the final section perfectly capturing the melancholic state of the painter.

Perhaps inevitably my favourite tune of the night was Amy, which keys in nicely to the slightly madcap elements of the character’s personality but also includes some evident discord because her life doesn’t make sense. Murray’s companion compositions have been a mix of tragic (Rose), plaintive (Martha and Rose) and screwball (Donna) and in Amy he finds something rather more magical, perhaps because it has to cover the span of a longer life, and so has to fit both the child like wonder of Amelia and the bright young yet cynical thing she’s become.

Another gift at the close of the concert was the latest version of the Doctor Who theme, and for the first time in general public (after a couple of tantalising hints at the stuttery end of the credits sequences in the Doctor Who PC games) the middle eighth which is the moment when this rendition suddenly makes sense as the choir crashes in. I still live in hope that Moffat will have a change of heart and make good on his praise for the Delia Derbyshire arrangement and use the thing in the next series, but after hearing Murray's latest version tonight I’m oddly less hostile towards it. The graphics still look horrendous though.

Amid Murray Gold’s gold, the classical, some would say archival music was well chosen: the incessant, metrical sound of John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine brought to mind the ticking of a clock; Walton’s busy Portsmouth Point Overture suggested the bustle of a space port; Wagner’s repeating Die Walküre (which I made some good jokes about last time); Orff’s O Fortuna, the certain inspiration for much of Murray’s choral work and Holst’s Mars from The Planets the certain inspiration for much of the music in the Star Trek films, almost unlistenable now without imagining Picard growling “The line must be drawn here!” just as the Enterprise shatters into a thousand tiny pieces.

During the interval in 2008, the BBC controversially commissioned science fiction writer Justina Robson to provide an audio essay on the programme which quickly descended into a bonkers evisceration of the sexual politics of the show. This time, much more in keeping with the mood of the concert, Matthew Sweet offered a pleasant and intelligent short history of the score music in the classic series from An Unearthly Child through to the unearthly noise of Keff McCulloch which 2Entertain would do well to snap up and put out as an extra on one of their future releases.

All of the composers interviewed were on good form and although some of the stories were well worn (Dudley Simpson biking over the pages days before transmission), it was interesting to hear how their experiences and the demands placed upon them by successive producers were very similar across the forty years, assuming that if the video wasn't of the standard they'd hoped, the music would be able to somehow pull it together. That it did, is a testament to their creativity and like Sweet, I too sometimes whistle City of Death out in the world, and even did it in Paris. But that's a story for another time.

Back in the Albert, any disappointment about the audience’s genuine sympathy for the exterminated Daleks before the interval (has it come to this?) quickly dissipated in the face of Matt Smith’s lively and mostly live turn as the Doctor. In an interview at the back of this month’s Doctor Who Magazine, the actor suggests, going into the next series, that he has a better handle on how to play the character and that was certainly on display here as he navigated a mix of improv and script with a volunteer from the audience. Smith is able to fully inhabit the Doctor now and it seems to be because he’s realised that the best way to make him convincing is to simply be himself (unless he was simply being himself tonight and so therefore he was the Doctor – there’s a brain teaser).

Music of the Spheres succeeded because of its evocation the beauty of classical music through a rather gorgeous speech; whatever this was called simply brought the magic of the show right into the auditorium. We weren’t given an indication on the radio as to the age of this small boy, but surely the experience of interacting with a fictional character will have interesting repercussions for his future psychological development. Let’s hope for the sake of his parents he doesn’t spend the next decade or so obsessing about this mysterious imaginary friend from his past who he helped save half of London, but then, unlike Amy, but like the rest of us, he can keep in touch with his friend’s adventures. And how they sound.

Next: Dvořák's Slavonic Dance in E minor Op.72 No.2