Fran Giffard's A Parliament of Drawings.

Plug! As some of you know, I tend to get dozens of PR emails a day most of which are obviously from people who've simply added me to a list and haven't bothered to check the blog to see what it's actually about. Every now and then someone obviously has, like Fran, and I always make a point of posting them. As she surmises I won't be able to make her private view, but perhaps you will:
Dear Stuart,

My name is Fran Giffard and I am an artist. I graduated from Camberwell College of Art where I studied drawings in 2010. I have a solo exhibition opening on the 20th of June, called A Parliament of Drawings. I will be exhibiting at Northcote Gallery, 253 King's Road. I would like to invite you to the private view, on the evening of the 20th. I realise you are in Liverpool, but I wanted to send you an invitation just in case you were in London. If you would be able to mention my exhibition in your blog, I would be most grateful. If you know anyone who might like my work, please extend to them my invitation.

All details are in the invitation and artist statement below.

All the best


Artist Statement - A Parliament of Drawings

Artist Fran Giffard has long been captivated by the intricate beauty of natural illustrations, and over the last two years she has begun to amass an incredible body of ornithology-inspired artwork. Fran started to work directly into her personal Moleskine diaries using aquarelle, gouache and graphite pencil, capturing the wonder of exotic and more commonplace birds. The result is a vivid collection of work with an intriguing personal slant. A Parliament of Drawings exhibits Fran's Moleskine drawings, along with her latest collections of Blossom and Ring drawings. There is an emphasis on numbers and ornithological collective nouns throughout the exhibition.
I should add that I like what's here, especially the Chaucerian reference.

Dream a Little Dream for Me.

TV In the week, the ATX TV Festival 2013 celebrated My So-Called Life with a reunion. Not everybody, but creator Winnie Holzman, Devon Gummersall (Brian Krakow), Devon Odessa (Sharon Cherski), Wilson Cruz (Ricky Vasquez), and Bess Armstrong (Patty Chase) all turned up. Yahoo! TV has a lengthy article about the Q&A:
"Other than looks, though, the cast agrees that little has changed since the show was on the air for its brief 19-episode run. They'd all have mobile phones, but the stories would remain the same.

"In our hearts and souls, one generation is not that different from another," Holzman said. "It's just the trappings that change."

"The writing was so good and the story, the challenges that the characters were dealing with were timeless things," Gummersall agreed. "It could be pretty much the same now, or it could've taken place at a time earlier."
Most of the cast have stayed in touch. Claire Danes was attending thanksgiving at Bess Armstrong's house until a few years ago. Austin Monthly collates some of the other nuggests:
"At the end of the panel, which like the series was cancelled-too-soon, Ross asked the cast where they saw their characters today. Gummersall said he could see Brian Krakow inventing something very lucrative, like Facebook. Cruz believes Ricky would have gotten “the hell out of there” and gone to New York, where he would have become a successful fashion designer. The best line came from Holzman: “Angela grew up and joined the CIA.”

Flatline doesn't.

Music This says it all, really:

I don't want to listen to it too much so that I can enjoy the whole thing properly when it's released so I'll offer a proper review then.  It's miracles like this reunion which make we wonder if it is possible that half of Doctor Who's missing episodes have been found in Africa, that stranger things have happened.  But so far this doesn't seem like another All Saints-style fiasco.

WHO 50: 1992:
Doctor Who Yearbook 1993.

TV Even though I watched Doctor Who right through to Survival, I didn’t really notice it being cancelled (if we can still call it that now). Search Out Space was never on my radar and I didn't see it until the dvd release.

Doctor Who was always just something else to watch, part of diet of programming which included Thundercats and latterly Transformers, though it was really the British run of the comic which sparked my interest, the Simon Furman material (which meant the closest I probably got to reading a Doctor Who story in that period was one of the reprints of the Death's Head story, The Crossroads of Time).

I didn’t mourn. It was on. Then it wasn’t. The long history of the show, even though it had always been there, didn’t much occur to me, as I awaited the television broadcast of Star Trek: The Next Generation having already hired the rental compilations from Video City in Garston and watched a friend's tapes of the original series / classic series / Trek Prime / whatever Paramount are calling it this month.

I did borrow some Doctor Who videos from another friend including aforementioned The Tom Baker Years, City of Death, Castrovalva that sort of thing. He was a big fan of Tom and Peter. But again this was more as part of diet of other television of a certain type. He leant me his Blackadder collection too.

Which is why last week’s entry about Timewyrm: Genesys was a guest post. In 1991, the Virgin New Adventures simply weren’t on my radar.  Filling my hands, eyes and mind were the Pocket Books Star Trek novels (reprinted in the UK by Titan) and collecting every issue of Marvel UK's weird reprint comic (which married DC originated material with articles from Starlog).

By 1992, I was well into my Star Trek t-shirt wearing phase, my favourite being the white one with The Next Generation logo across it and a rubber comm badge printed at breast height for role-play fun. The key topic of discussion at school was starship security and the practicalities of the warp drive and who was fitter, Councillor Troi or Doctor Crusher.  My secret obsession was with Salia, the future ruler and dauphin of Daled IV. Oh yes.

I didn’t know of the existence of the Doctor Who Yearbook 1993. I didn’t read the New Adventures from this year including the format flexing Transit or Bernice Summerfield’s debut in Love & War or any of the reference books published in 1992 or watch the BBV spin-off Summoned by Shadows.

I still haven’t. With so much other stuff to catch-up on and with prices sky-rocketing for this twenty-year old gear, it’s not been a priority, which is why I'm in no position to offer a critique of the annual’s many Brief Encounter entries, written by some of the franchise’s great stalwarts and some others. I don't think I even own a copy.  Whatever happened to Karen Dunn, anyway?

My lack of Whodom was such that by the following year, I’d even sold off, on a pre-college flea market stall, whatever bits of Who merchandise I’d been given as a child, including a 1968 Troughton era annual, wondering at the moment of transaction why these two blokes seemed so happy at having purchased it for one pound (I know! I KNOW!).

I’m here now, somehow, wondering what possessed me to let go of such treasures and over half way through this project (and wondering what possessed me). Glancing forward I can’t see any other gaps thanks to some retrospective catch-up, but I thought it important to notice that at a certain point I was very much a not-we and now I’m not a not-we but a we again.


Life How poverty might change the brain:
"Volunteers gave saliva samples so that researchers could analyze it for the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers found that cortisol reactivity was related to parental responsivity, and the less parental responsivity, the less of a normal stress response the volunteers had.
"You might say, 'Well, of course life is more stressful in lower socioeconomic strata,' " she said. "But the degree of magnitude of the stress that they live with is just unbelievable."
Such research points to the idea that stress leads to a stunting of brain development in children of low socioeconomic backgrounds. It is unknown whether that stunting can be reversed, but you shouldn't assume that it's unchangeable, Farah said."


Nature  The Robo Raven Is So Lifelike, It Fools Birdbrains:
"We've been trying to create robots that mimic natural bird-flight for years, but they've only ever achieved a crude imitation. This is largely because, unlike the robots, real birds can move their wings independently. But now, a research team from the Maryland Robotics Center has created the Robo Crow, a mechanical flyer so biologically accurate that hawks keep hunting (and dive bombing) the prototypes."
Dove builds nest in Southend traffic lights:
"A dove has built its nest in front of the red traffic light at a roundabout in Essex. The bird moved into its new home at Cuckoo Corner in Southend, despite the lights having anti-bird spikes fitted. The RSPB said the collared dove was facing traffic coming from Priory Crescent and the light would provide heat."

LOVEFiLM closing.

TV Tech Crunch reports:
"According to local press, LOVEFiLM Sweden sent emails to users alerting them of the service’s planned shutdown there. It will cease services and begin shutting down its website within the next 30 days, and has asked users to return DVDs."
Lovefilm's closing in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, which is worrying to say the least. Like the Greek government closing their version of the BBC, it's one of those stories which looks like something which couldn't happen here until you remember that nothing lasts forever. I imagine there's someone just like me in Sweden right now wondering how the hell they'll cope, just as I'll wonder the same thing should the worst ever happen.

Once Rory's at the Tonys.

Music Is this the first time an ex-Doctor Who companion's sung at the Tony Awards?

Here's the complete obligatory out of focus iPhone version. Wow, Arthur, congratulations.

Jonathan Morris’s Phantoms of the Deep.

Audio Turns out I’m slight behind in reviewing this series of Tom Baker stories by at least a month, but oddly for what’s supposed to be an instantaneous medium, it’s quite nice to follow something akin to Doctor Who Magazine’s publication schedule, especially since there can sadly only ever be a finite number of these adventures for the Fourth Doctor and the first Romana now and it seems a shame to blast through them. So I’ll talk about this month’s release The Dalek Contract in a little while, if that’s ok. Not that there’s much that you can do if it isn’t.

Release date related issues are pertinent to Jonathan Morris’s Phantoms of the Deep, a story set partially on a submarine which despite having been recorded a few years in advance found itself coincidentally joining the canon just a couple of weeks after the television series broadcast Cold War another story set on a submarine. It’s to Doctor Who’s credit that they both manage to tell completely different stories, with different sets of character types and no sense of déjà vu so we’re not left trying to decide which is our favourite of the “submarine” stories.

Still hiding from the Black Guardian, the TARDIS sinks itself in the depths of the Earth’s ocean in the Mariana Trench, and as usual because it’s a surprisingly small galaxy, they’re visited by an deep sea exploratory vehicle with the usual questions about what they’re doing there which before they can be answered are quickly superseded by some other questions about why there are super-intelligent squid warning them off their land, an ancient submarine, and a general sense that there’s something in the deep which as curious about them as they are about its habitat.

Listeners with even longer memories than last month will notice that all of this is at least superficially similar to the radio Torchwood episode Submission, which also had sea creatures in the Mariana Trench and with which it also shares the sense of dipping into the unknown, of the darkness, of humanity realising that there are just as many mysteries in its own oceans as in the galaxies overhead. More than usual we’re listening intently to the exposition of the characters as they conjure the world, their words mirroring the glimpses of abstract object hidden in the watery shadows.

As such this is a deliberately more sober entry than Morris’s first story for this series The Auntie Matter, toning down his Adamsalike tendencies, not that they’re turned off completely, what with all the hyper intelligent sea life swimming about. There are moments when the Doctor is genuinely frightened and Tom’s given the opportunity to play this little heard side of his incarnation, who on television at least, tended to joke his way through anything, even when he was being electrocuted and threatened or his companions were experiencing the same treatment.

Along with some Big Finish regulars who’re predictably well chosen by director Ken Bentley, the headline casting this time is the Borg Queen herself, Alice Krige. Her performance is impeccable as she takes full advantage of her character’s development which through Morris’s clever writing only really makes sense after the play is completed, this being a sentence which also only make sense once you’ve listened to the story too. That’s something this story does have over Cold War, where David Warner’s parallel scientist's motivations were never fully explained.

Jamie Robertson’s sound design atmospherically conjures the noisy emptiness ocean, his spot music sounding like a Dudley Simpson composition given some Murray Gold bells and guitars. K9’s back too, though his voice has been treated with a strange crackle, perhaps to indicate the recent repair cycle. Another strength of the story is that it also finds something especially interesting for the tin dog to do in a way which glances forwards to some of his previously released Big Finish adventures, especially the Gallifrey spin-off series in its early days.

If Phantoms of the Deep doesn’t quite have the buzz of some of Jonathan Morris’s best stories, his novels Touched by an Angel and The Tomorrow Windows, and indeed The Auntie Matter which are still some of his masterworks, it’s probably not trying to be. With writers this prolific, there must be a drive towards stretching themselves into unexplored areas, different styles of writing, and that’s all to the good. It’s certainly set me up nicely for his Destiny of the Doctor story Babblesphere, which was out two months ago and I’ll which probably be getting around to in July.  At this rate.

Girls: Season 38.

TV Girls: Season 38. Oh fuck it, I'll just embed the video:

Just one perceptive casting decision after another ...


Theatre As part of its Tony Awards coverage, The New York Times arranged for some of the nominees to recreate some of the songs in public places. The results are lovely. Here's Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes singing part of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella in Central Park.

The rest are here, including Kinky Boots and Chaplin. My takeaway from stumbling over the Tonys this year is that most if not all new shows are based on films. It's amazing no one's turned The Breakfast Club into a musical yet.

"I'm the brain!"
"I'm the athlete!"
"I'm the basket case."
"Aaannnddd IIIII'mmmm tthhhheee priiinceeesssss ...."
"Annnd IIII'mmm thhheeee crimmmiinnnaaalll!"
"Basket case!"
"Thhhheeee BBBreeeeaaaakffffaaaaastttt Ccccllllluuuuuubbbb!"


It'd run for years.

George Lucas on Doctor Who. In 1993.

TV Here's a turn up. From 1993. George Lucas (that George Lucas?) (probably not) (sorry) in The Spectator on the BBC celebrating Doctor Who in 1993 despite having cancelled it:
"Hence the BBC is holding birthday celebrations for a programme that does not exist, yet is still so rampantly popular that the BBC has made profits of £20 million from secondary sales and each new video of old Dr Who programmes is an immediate hit. In an age sadly short of heroes, it is strange to see so successful a show disappear. In an era of vicious American Terminators the loss of Dr Who removes a particularly comforting item of British cultural furniture from an ever barer national living- room. From across the Atlantic comes word that Steven Spielberg is talking to the BBC about a Dr Who film project. But many believe an American portrayal of such a uniquely British role would be more distressing than its current state of limbo. And why can't the BBC simply do it themselves, in the format that has already been so enduring and successful?"
And eventually ...

About Chagall.

Art  Following my visit to Tate Liverpool to see the Chagall show, I decided to see what there was online for me to listen to and watch about the artist.  I've gathered what I've found below and will update if I find anything else.

Chagall Painting found, NPR's All Things Considered.
"An undeliverable package opened at a mail recovery center in Kansas turned out to contain a painting that could be a stolen masterpiece. "Over Vitebsk," painted by Marc Chagall in 1914, was taken from New York's Jewish Museum last June. Robert Siegel talks with Elisabeth Batchelor, director of conservation and collections management at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, who has been evaluating the painting."

Chagall's Ode To Chicago Is Brightly Back, Weekend Edition Saturday.
"Marc Chagall's America Windows is a love letter cast in stained glass. The great modern artist created it in his own hand to honor Chicago, America's bicentennial and Mayor Richard J. Daley, who died in December 1976. Host Scott Simon talks with curator Stephanie D'Alessandro about the piece, newly cleaned, restored and put back on display in the Art Institute of Chicago."

Start the Week: 20/10/2008, Radio 4
"JACKIE WULLSCHLAGER is chief arts editor of the Financial Times. She explores the life of the painter Chagall, arguing that his role in the Modernist movement has long been underestimated. She describes how his life in exile from his native Russia affected his painting. Her biography Chagall: Love and Exile is published by Allen Lane and it is Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 27 October."

The Leonardo Detectives, Radio 4
"Rachel Campbell-Johnston learns how the great and the good of the art world came to accept that a damaged and previously forgotten painting of Jesus Christ was the work of Leonardo. She hears the story of an Italian art restorer who is convinced that a Jesuit Seminary House in Oxford is home to an unknown painting by Michelangelo. She also meets the retired plumber from East Sussex with a photographic memory who, after first discovering a lost sculpture by Thomas Banks is now convinced that he has an unknown painting by Marc Chagall."

I and the Village at MOMA.
Audio guide.

"All You Need Is LOVE: From Chagall to Kusama and Hatsune Miku" at the Mori Art Museum.
Audio guide.

Marc Chagall and his Times from Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Audio guide.

Jewish Theater Through the Eyes of Chagall.
"Mel Gordon, professor of theater at UC Berkeley, discussed how the Russian Jewish theater adopted Chagalls vision - literally and figuratively - for its groundbreaking productions."

Art Alive 2012: Floral Lecture with Bella Meyer
"Flower Bouquets in the Work of Marc Chagall, A personal take by his granddaughter, Bella Meyer"

Matisse & Chagall with Craig Hamilton Arnold at Fresno Met Museum
"Craig Hamilton Arnold recently gave a lecture for L' Alliance Francaise at the Fresno Met Museum on the Met's current Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall exhibitions."

Authors@Google: Jonathan Wilson
"Jonathan Wilson discusses his book "Marc Chagall" as part of the Authors@Google series."

Debra Messing's Face.

Theatre Watch this:

My reaction? Debra Messing's face pretty much sums it up:

How did he do it? How did he?

Mutter's Spiral.

Orwell Amazing spot from Gawker. Adam Hart-Davis took the photograph on the PRISM logo:
"As anyone who's looked at the PRISM PowerPoint presentation can tell you, NSA doesn't have much in the way of design sense. They apparently don't have much of a budget, either, given that they seem to have stumbled on Hart-Davis' prism photo—offered for free, at low resolution, along with other science-related photos—and decided it was good enough for their uses. (The photo had previously been described as "clip art.")"
And so the story becomes stranger and stranger.

My Blue Jumper.

Life Imagine my surprise while watching Colin Paterson's piece about the Chagall exhibition at the Tate from North West Tonight.  Yes, that's me.  Yes, that's my blue jumper.  No, I wasn't the only person at the press view.


Film Ethan Hawke spoke to Reddit the other day and I think surprised many users with his openness. Here's a sample answer about how he's perceived in public:
"I don't want to say. You know, the things that we want to change about our lives are things we don't want everybody to know, and one of the most difficult things for me was having to learn in front of the public that having a reputation is a double-edged sword. It prevents me from making a first impression. I feel like I haven't made a first impression on anyone in 20 years. There are many things about my life and my behavior that I wish I could change, situations I wish I could have handled better, relationships I could have healed, but unfortunately the earth seems to turn one way and all we can do is try to learn."
Which feeds somewhat back into the link I posted yesterday from Lis. Many of us are in Hawke's position. Our online selves create a particular impression good or bad which means we do meet people who've previously met us online, what they have isn't a first impression, they already have some idea of what we'll be like, just as most of us might think that Hawke is probably pretty similar to Jesse from the walking and talking films.  But we never are.  We can't be.

Updated! Hawke's also given a superb interview to The Observer. Here's his James Franco story:
"I ask Hawke how well he knows James Franco. I've always liked to imagine him as a mentor to the younger actor – two writers and polymaths, both seeking some sort of inner truth of themselves and the world around them. "I had a very surreal experience once," Hawke replies. "I was walking on Sunset Boulevard under this giant billboard of James Franco – it was like this Calvin Klein ad or something – and then he walked out from underneath it. And I thought: man this fucking guy is everywhere." It was, Hawke says, the only time the two have ever met; he adds, unexpectedly: "He seems much more confident than I ever was."