"I'd generally lost interest"

TV  Oh Dawson's Creek.  If you'd all been here for the germination of this blog you would have enjoyed my love hate relationship with this My So-Called Life placebo.  I might have been fan enough to write this rather epic piece of crossover fiction but as the years went by, well ...  Here's me venting back in 2004 about the opening episode of the sixth season:
"But the problem is that the show has said everything it can about the subjects it's trotting out. I've an idea of the upcoming plotlines and they really feel like reruns of old stories. The very English waitress and musician Emma Jones could have been an interesting character if she hadn't stolen her accent from the potentials in the last season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, but she's another Gretchen or Amy, someone to buzz around the main characters, create complications, let Pacey save her (possibly), then buzz off again. It's tired and tiring."
Probably due to scheduling and how my consumption of television has changed there are few shows I can become quite as passionate about. Fringe certainly, but one of the results of having to watch such things via the boxset is that your critical faculties find it almost impossible to consider each episode individually and rather judge a series as a whole.

Anyway, Entertainment Weekly have decided to dredge up the past with a short interview with Creek creator Kevin Williamson about the show's central love triangle and how he finally chose who would end up with whom:
"Originally, I really was going to go down that Dawson and Joey route and something didn’t feel right about it. One of the reasons I wanted to write Dawson’s Creek to begin with was to write my version of the teen drama. Back in the’90s when everyone was doing that whole self-aware thing, I was very aware of 90210. The characters in my show were very aware of 90210. They referenced it. They talked about it. This show was supposed to be the spin of the teen drama and if Dawson and Joey had ended up together, that wouldn’t have been the spin."
Having missed much of Season Five due to weird scheduling and a sense that the show had drifted from its original much smarter roots into becoming a more generic relationship show with product placement (the episode set at a No Doubt concert which seemed to consist of mostly the No Doubt concert a particular low), I'd generally lost interest in the story by the end.

I remember being especially angry about the treatment of Michelle Williams's character Jen who was essentially treated as the tragedy magnet in the final episode, her ultimate destination lacking the subtlety that Joss Whedon and his cohorts bring to such things (is it weird I'm trying not to spoil an eight year old television episode?).  In what should have been a celebration, Williams was essentially called upon to cry for two hours.


Beverages Bloomberg has a useful piece about why Starbucks hasn't opened in Italy and the country's coffee culture in general:
"The cafe’s owner, Orlando Chiari, a 78-year-old former stock exchange worker, has the mobile phone numbers of top executives at Italy’s most important coffee companies and the confidence to dial them in the middle of an interview. But when I ask him if he’s ever visited one of the Seattle-based chain’s locations, he answers me with an empty look.

“Starbush?” he says. “No. I’ve never even heard of it.”

It takes a couple of beats to realize he isn’t joking. When the concept is explained, he says, “Interesting. But does it exist in Italy?”"
Essentially its about perception. Starbucks consider themselves (in general) as somewhere for people to meet and hang out, whereas in the boot of Europe there's more of a connoisseurship.

"IDW are to publish a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series"

Comics  Well, well.  IDW who currently have the US rights to produce both Doctor Who and Star Trek comics have had an idea:
"Bleeding Cool has squirrelled out news of an upcoming crossover that might send certain minds reeling. That in May, IDW are to publish a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series. Featuring The Doctor, Rory, Amy, Captain Picard, Worf, Data, Geordie LaForge, Deanna Troy, Will Riker and the rest. And that this art, featuring the Doctor, Rory and Amy on the bridge of the Enterprise is a cover that will be used in the series."
And oh what artwork.

Of course it was once the dream of Russell T Davies to run a television crossover, which would have been with the Enterprise crew, but this makes more sense, especially in terms of mixing the more iconic characters.  Perhaps if it's a success, they could have a series of stories featuring the TARDIS bouncing around the Trek Universe for a while much as they have in the Whoniverse.

What'll be interesting is how the writers, assuming they care about such things, will deal with the fact that Star Trek has been long established as a television series in the Doctor Who universe (see this Memory Alpha entry).  Not to mention if we're walking in that direction, how as far as the Trek universe is concerned this definitely won't be canon, but in the Doctor Who universe it's in the air and probably is.

Nevertheless, I'm excited.  Squee squared [via].

"Strawberry Shortcake Goes to Space"

TV Cat Valente notices a few omissions in the Star Trek universe:
"Like many, I've been slowly rewatching Deep Space Nine ever since it popped up on Netflix. It's been fascinating. On the one hand: Oh 90s! YOU WERE THE BEST! With your adorable WE ARE SO DARK plots that seem like Strawberry Shortcake Goes to Space by today's standards. On the other, in many ways 2012 has already overtaken DS9 as The Future goes, barring, of course, space travel and replicators. Culturally, though, we've zoomed right past the 24th century by the second decade of the 21st.

I've been struck particularly by two things missing from the DS9 universe--one unpredictable in the 1993-99 span of the series, and one predictable but unattractive from the creators' standpoint.

"Nobody uses social media, and nobody wastes time."
On the second point, one of the more marvellous elements of Doctor Who is that despite the fact the Doctor and his companions have a time machine and could go live in any period in history, they still spend a surprising amount of time in the TARDIS, still call it their home. In classic episodes, much time was spent playing chess or more bizarrely eating sandwiches when the best chefs are always just on the threshold [via].

"fancypants director for a movie"

Film The Guardian has a nice interview with Ethan Hawke. Here's the ending, which talks about the Before clamour:
"I end the interview the way everybody ends their meetings with Hawke, by telling him what they should do with the third Before Sunrise film, currently at the planning stage. Everyone does this, apparently: journalists, fans, directors, strangers.

"I'll go meet some fancypants director for a movie. They'll go, 'Oh this guy wants to meet you for this, that, the other.' I go, 'OK, I'll meet the guy.' We start talking about their film for a bit and then they go: 'I know what the third film should be.' And then he tells me. It's flattering, but we have to just tune it out and figure out what we want to say."

What does he want to say? "One of the things I want to get into the film is an acknowledgement of – and this is everybody's struggle – how do you keep your innocence alive? How do you keep your sense of romance alive, your sense of joy alive? But match it with realism, to get rid of all the fake naivety. To see the world for what it is. It's a very difficult aspect of life. What do you do?"
Here's another one.  They're in Finland and have become snowed in at a cabin ...

Demons Never Die on dvd

Competition A public relations person for the film Demons Never Die has been in touch and agreed to offer some dvd copies as competition prizes.  Firstly, here's the synopsis ...
When London detectives Bates and Mason (TopBoy's Ashley Walters and Reggie Yates) are sent to investigate a series of deaths at a local high school, they soon focus on a teenage gang with a dark secret.

Led by misfit Archie (Robert Sheehan, Killing Bono, Misfits) and school psycho Kenny (Jason Maza, Rise of the Footsoldier) each member is battling their own inner demons - victims of violence, bullying, disorders and prejudice. These motives give each a reason to kill and a reason to die.

Written and directed by Arjun Rose and executively produced by Golden Globe winner Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire), Demons Never Die follows the lives of eight very different individuals, who come together to form an unlikely friendship.
Here's a picture of the dvd box ...

... and here's the question which could win you a copy ...

Who's in it from Doctor Who?

[Hint: I'll take either answer.]

... entries in an email to feelinglistless@btopenworld.com with "Demons Never Die" in the subject bar please.

Closing date Wednesday 15th February 2012.


Justin Richards’s The Renaissance Man

Audio Having established the loose linking element for this series of Fourth Doctor audios, Big Finish now confront the tutelage of Leela head-on with a story about the nature of knowledge, except ironically, it’s important to begin listening without much in the way of fore-knowledge. This will be one of those reviews which is thin on detail. There’ll be little talk about the story and only vague references to the themes. In fact, and I used the word “fact” advisedly, you might even want to skip this altogether and just take my usual recommendation and listen for yourself.

What can be said? Well, for one thing at least, this is another month, another mysterious manor. Justin Richards’s The Renaissance Man has the TARDIS pitch up in a woodland area in a quiet village were reality isn’t all its cracked up to be and indeed cracking into splinters. Like Lost Story, The Foe from the Future, the manor is owned by an inexplicable aristocrat and before long characters who are becoming fast friends suddenly seem to lose all memory of the Fourth Doctor and Leela, who then have to make their acquaintance again.

As Richards’s script explains internally, it’s all about context and in both cases the clue is in the title. Where Foe brought mayhem from the future, this is a much less pacey, more character driven study on the nature of knowledge, if it’s possible like those polymaths of the medieval period onwards to know everything. Is that too much? Not sure. Let’s move on.  No can’t talk about that. No can’t talk about that either. No wonder Doctor Who Magazine waits a month or so before printing their reviews. But in this case a bit of knowledge does go a bit too long a way.

I will say that it’s a very clever spin on a well loved 60s tv story, but I can’t in all conscience tell you which one I have in mind. It’s also clearly inspired by a real life discussion of a portion of online culture but again, well, I’m tying myself in knots aren’t I? It’s a surprise that the two concepts haven’t been brought together. Not that you’ll know which two until you listen. If you don’t mind being spoiled, you could always email me. I’m available at the usual address. I wonder if this conundrum is what Justin Richards wanted.

I think I’m on safe ground with the music, in which Jamie Robertson gives us a brilliant full on Dudley Simpson pastiche, and the performances. Tom and Louise are well into their stride now, the former offering some manic brilliance in a bit with a dog, the latter taking great pleasure in having to repeat that she’s a “warrior of the Sevateem” as though it’s her surname, including one occasion when it might as well be. Having been writing Doctor Who stories since the mid-90s, Richards gives both some tonally perfect material to work from.

The Renaissance Man also has a solid guest cast top-lined by Ian “Churchill” McNeice. Anyone who’s seen his early work on the film Voice Over will recognise some of 'Fats' Bannerman’s melodrama in his turn as Harcourt the apparent owner of the manor. He’s joined by Foyle’s War’s Anthony Howell in the significant role of Edward who with the rest of the cast … no I can’t talk about that either, except to say it makes a specific virtue of one of the limitations of Big Finish’s smaller casting requirements.  Whatever that could mean.

All up to the usual standards then, with director Ken Bentley and Robertson making some interesting choices with the sound design, the nature of which, well you get the idea, even if you can’t because you don’t know anything. If I’ve a quibble it might be that there’s not quite enough story to go round which is odd for an hour’s worth of drama, but it’s perhaps in period for a 70s pastiche that there should be some running around, some slapstick and especially some room for Tom to make a few good speeches. 

Well, that was a waste of time wasn’t it?

Doctor Who: The Renaissance from Big Finish is released 29th February 2012. Review copy supplied.

“Kuroge Wagyu”

Food The Eataku food blog wonders if its found the greatest burger in the world. In Tokyo:
"Blacows is a no-nonsense burger place. Owned and run by a butcher, it stakes it reputation on the superior quality of its meat. It prides itself on using only “Kuroge Wagyu”, or “Black-haired Japanese beef”. And that’s where the place gets i’s name from: “Black” + “Cow” = “Blacow”.

The first thing you see when you walk up to the door is a chalkboard that tells you what cuts of beef they’re using that day, where that beef came from, the exact number of the cow they bought it from, and the grade, usually always A5."
Watch out for the in-house butcher [via].

Unfortunately, what I thought was the best burger in the world, was made by a restaurant in Shrewsbury which is no longer there.

"glass fronted meeting rooms"

TV Ariel Letters took a break over the past few months because BBC staff stopped sending them anything. The venerable internal magazine moved to digital-only publishing which sent it off the employee radar but happily it's back and the cup runneth over. Steve Blears of Radio 5 live asks:
"Can a member of BBC staff be sacked for not having a TV licence or for having sex on the premises?"
To which Rachel Currie director of Employment BBC People replies:
"We are less sure that there was ever a 'Sex on the Premises' policy. I would have thought our new open plan offices and glass fronted meeting rooms would be a sufficient deterrent these days for all but the most adventurous."
Or as the other Ariel suggests in The Tempest, "I will be correspondent to command, And do my spriting gently."

"new type of sugar packet"

Food Yesterday, President Obama hosted a Science Fair at the White House. Here are his remarks and he makes a point towards the end of asking the press to give it some attention. So I thought I would, and in particular this innovation:
"Some of you, that means developing new products that will change the way we live. So Hayley Hoverter -- where’s Hayley? There she is, right over here -- invented a new type of sugar packet that dissolves in hot water. It’s flavorless, it’s colorless, and potentially could save up to 2 million pounds of trash each year -- and that’s just at Starbucks. (Laughter.) So MasterCard has already awarded her $10,000 to help turn her idea into a business."
And here she is talking about the product at TEDx:

My first reaction was "sugarcubes?" but on reflection this is presumably cleaner, works inside the comfort zone of the average consumer and might have other practical applications.

"You must be one of those rare individuals whose nerve endings don't register pain."

The Oxford Paragraphs:
Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights

Books Piecing my way through the narrative fog of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights with its many layers of narrators, I was reminded of the found footage genre of films, in which the viewer’s entire understanding of the story is whatever is visually made apparent to them through the first person gaze of the whoever’s holding the camera in the fictional world and then the film’s editor, a figure who sits between that world and our reality. Everything we know about the love story is filtered through the recollections of Lockwood and Nelly and others, characters who Bronte employs to imply that Heathcliffe and Cathy and their decedents exist in a subjectively cruel, sadistic place cut off from a more benign reality. All are apparently reliable narrators, but throughout I couldn’t help a nagging suspicion, and that like The Blair Witch Project et al, there are multiple layers of fiction at play.

Competition: Dean Koontz: The Answer

Books  The Koontz competition is now closed and the winner has been contacted.  That question again:

What do Dean Koontz and Doctor Who legend Terrance Dicks have in common?

and the answer:

They both wrote books called Star Quest.

Spidey is duking it out

Film On this Dickensian anniversary, let's look at ...

That's the Spider-man I know. That's the Spider-man I grew up with.

The problem I always had with the Sam Raimi films was that the structure of the first film, which tossed aside the high school period as quickly as possible so that they could have Peter at the Daily Bugle didn't leave much room for us to simply see him at his job. Both of them. That was fixed somewhat in the second film but all three missed on significant point.

Spider-man is funny.

In the comics and the various cartoons whenever Spidey is duking it out with Doc Ock or the Goblin or whoever, he's forever cracking jokes. Sometimes they're corny, and sometimes he's using them as defence mechanism against whatever pain is being inflicted on him physically or emotionally, but there are often speech bubbles filled with humour, sarcasm and irony.

For just a moment, in the back of the car, talking the car thief, "You serious think I'm a cop ..." he becomes the man from the comics. There's a petulance to the playing, but it's there.

The Raimi films rarely had a line like that.  You couldn't even imagine Tobey Maguire playing that line.  The script and his performance were too understated.

The rest looks like it's throwing out the Donner Superman influences in favour of the Nolan Batman. But apart from that?

That's the Spider-man I know.

"pull a Wedge Antilles"

Film How does one review this "Officially Licensed Star Wars Luke Skywalker Ceremonial Jacket with Medal Of Yavin"? How about:
"Geez, again I have to be berated by this jacket? I mean c'mon, the kid had a wide open shot....who couldn't have made that?!? I have a little bit of equipment malfunction and have to pull out, and this kid goes on to be the Rebellion's superstar. Did anyone realize he's family with the enemy?!? And he's still your poster child? Hmmph....And another thing, I'm tired of all of these jokes at my expense, just because I had to pull out of my treacherous Death Star run. Can't make it with your lady? "Oh, he must've pulled a Wedge Antilles." The Projector is not working for your knockout presentation on torpon torpedo topology? "Hey, way to go! You pulled a Wedge Antilles!" Crash to your death at the Death Star just because of some flimsy stabilizer? "I could've made it back to Yavin, but, you know, didn't want to pull a Wedge Antilles....YEOOOUUUUUCCCCCHHHH!!!" So spare me your "officially licensed" ceremonial jacket and Yavin Medal, some of us are emotionally invested! And yes, I will refrain from "pulling a Wedge Antilles" and actually submit this review!"
More Impressively Sarcastic Amazon Product Reviews here.  This isn't a Robot Chicken quote is it?

"a distribution network more akin to gas or electricity"

Art Vicken Parsons and Antony Gormley talk about making their seminal installation, Bed:
"I used Mother's Pride because it was a food furthest from the field, part of a distribution network more akin to gas or electricity. It had nothing to do with mothers and very little to do with pride. Each slice was exactly 6mm thick and I cut it with a marquetry saw before deciding this was ridiculous, and that I should be using my teeth."
Now, I'm off to make some toast.

a mix of every RSS feed offered by all the sites on popurls

About popurls is a single page, convenient aggregator for content/news from across the web.

In an effort to widen my sources but limit the number of times I read the same story which happens a lot through Google News searches I wondered if it would be possible to create a mass RSS feed using all of the sources on popurls.

Firstly, I Asked Metafiter, and although someone marked the question as a favourite, no one had an answer.

Not wanting to be beaten, I've just spent the past couple of hours (couple?) putting together a Yahoo Pipe. Here it is:


That's a mix of every RSS feed offered by all the sites on popurls (without polling popurls itself).

I expect I'll find some use for it.

Microsoft Desk Clock

Owner's name obscured for security reasons. It wasn't me. Bought at a flea market in the late 90s.