I do not have Cancer.

Life After my initial diagnosis of Oral Lichen Planus (visit here for the full horrors) (or not), when it was noted that it could lead to cancer with a one in a thousand chance over ten years, I would be lying if I didn't admit to fixating on that somewhat. More than the fact my tongue has a white streak down the middle or that sometimes it tingles.  However minimal the chances, it's sat at the back of my mind that perhaps, on top of the anxiety and everything else, I'd end up having to deal with yet another huge thing. Not that my immune system mounting an attack against cells of the oral mucous membranes isn't something which won't effect my lifestyle for years to come.

Today was results day and after navigating a minor panic in the waiting room, the assigned dental consultant, who it transpired I went to school with, just like my doctor and the pharmacist I go to, was quick to reveal that my recent biopsy had simply confirmed the initial diagnosis.  He did explain diplomatically that there was the potential for "abnormal cells" to develop in the future but that nothing was evident right now.  He prescribed a phosphate based mouth wash for occasions when my mouth was feeling irregular.  Then after some chit chat about who we remembered from school, which was, as he said, thirty odd years ago, I returned to the wild.

But I still felt discombobulated for much of the rest of the afternoon.  Fortunately I wasn't working, just food shopping.  When you've lived with a thought, however minor, for a while, it takes time to psychologically adjust to the new information.  I'm fine, it's fine.  My body's at war with itself and I'll probably be having appointments on a six monthly basis to check for developments over the least a few years if not longer, but I'm back to the baseline anxiety, the constant background thrum, rather than the expectation that my quality of life is going to be severely limited, at least more than it is now.  Apart from anything else, I'm blogging again and personal blogging at that.  It's 2018 and everything old is new again.

Instant Crema.

Life Something I often mention when describing my anxiety disorder is how I can't drink grapefruit juice, alcohol or caffeine. With grapefruit, it's because it decreases the ability of the gut to process sertraline (or zoloft if you're in the US) my drug of prescription. Alcohol increases the side effects of the drug, such as drowsiness, dizziness and co-ordination problems (some of which I already suffer from). Caffeine's side effects include irregular heartbeat, chronic insomnia, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, fatigue and facial discoloration if too much is taken.  Essentially, you feel like the anxiety increases ten fold.

Caffeine is the worst omission.  Caffeine used to be my pick me up, just as it is for everyone but even before I began the tablets I realised that it was increasing the anxiety symptoms, so I stopped.  Every now and then I'd experiment with drinking some in moderation, even since I've been taking sertraline, and it never goes well, especially the withdrawal symptoms after I've realised it's not doing me any good.  There have been many half jars or bags of coffee which have gone uncompleted, sat in the cupboard on the expectation that I'll be able to go back there again only for them to be disposed of when I finally realise that there's no hope.

Which leaves me with extremely limited options in terms of liquid refreshment.  Soft drinks and fruit juices in general are tricky - too much sugar and a sugar rush can - you guess it ...  So I'm stuck with coarse tasting sugar-free options.  I'll buy a pack of caffeine-free diet coke now and it's fine, but it doesn't taste like coke  One of the most realistic elements of the Channel 4 drama National Treasure is that the protagonist's broken daughter, played Andrea Riseborough indicates that with all the drugs she's taking for her depression and anxiety, she has to "pretty much stick with water" (I'm paraphrasing).  That's an element which is often poorly illustrated in drama.

Which leaves me persevering with decaffeinated teas and coffees.  In my heart of hearts I know they're a sham.  The whole point of caffeine is the lift, the pick me up, but these substances provide neither.  At best they're a different taste in the mouth, but all the while I have to try and block out the knowledge that really they're just hot, brown water in varying degrees of bitterness.  The tea can still be refreshing.  But the coffee is usually a disappointing exercise with all the pleasure of watching a panned and scanned VHS release of the Star Wars "special" editions, the image not just having been chopped off on both sides but visually mutilated.  I mean, yes, it's Star Wars but do you really need to see it like that?

Nevertheless, caffeine free options allow me to at least feel like I'm still part of that society, to visit a coffee shop and sit with other people, enjoy the atmosphere.  Except, and I'm burying the led here, through a series of choices by the coffee companies and shops, those of us who're stuck in this predicament are quietly being discriminated against in various ways.  I appreciate that it's politically dodgy to be throwing the D word around like this, since there are people who are being D worded against much more destructively and structurally within society, but nevertheless, if you're caffeine free, you find yourself being treated differently to other coffee consumers and it's all to do with economies of scale.

First niggle.  The surcharge.  Coffee shops don't sell as much caffeine-free coffee, and it costs more to make, so they'll slap on anywhere between ten or twenty pence onto the price of a cup.  The ground floor cafe at FACT in Liverpool did exactly this last time I was there and Caffe Nero do this too.  While I appreciate its effectively a different substance, if as a consumer you're drinking this sort of because you have to not because you have a choice, even though you do have a choice, you could not drink coffee but you see what I mean, its something else to add to the list of things my anxiety is doing to me or working against me.  Ten or twenty pence isn't a lot of money, but when people who don't have our, or my problems are charged less it's, well it's a bit disappointing.

But then there's the instant coffee problem, the companies who don't provide filtered decaff coffee and instead charge the same price for a watery cup of instant Kenco decaff, because it's always instant Kenco decaff in the little green sachets.  IKEA, Easy Coffee, Virgin Trains and as I discovered this past couple of days, Premier Inn do exactly this and it's galling not least because the Kenco decaff is awful, not just brown, bitter liquid but acid indigestion inducing too.  The argument against is that it would mean having to have another coffee machine filled with decaff beans but if that's the case, simply charge less for the instant coffee, half would be fine.  But don't go to the trouble of advertising the benefits of your caffeinated coffee if you're then going to push this garbage on the rest of us.

Quick sidebar on tea: that's just as rubbish, if not moreso because these companies and indeed almost everywhere else just simply don't have caffeine free black teas.  In most cases they provide a dozen fruit teas, usually Twinings, all of which ultimately taste the same once brewed.  Or Green Teas, which sertaline users are also asked to avoid because "the combination can increase the risk of bleeding".  I've now reached the stage were I simply carry my own tea bags around with me, sparked by attended the Liverpool Biennial press launch and finding no decaff options but hot water.  Which meant I was at least able to have a couple of cups of Earl Grey with my breakfast at the Premiere Inn in Manchester this morning.

But it's not as though there aren't alternatives.  Visiting HOME to see BlackKklansman this lunchtime, I ordered a small coffee and the cafe bar had a grinder on stand-by and produced a very tasty beverage for the same price as the usge.  Starbucks has a whole extra machine in every branch I've visited, even franchises, and again the price is the same and it tastes pretty good if you remember to ask them not to fill the cup to the top.  If it has to be instant, there are better options than Kenco.  I swear by Littles, which both smells and tastes like ground coffee and even has that unicorn of flavoured options.  I took a jar of the Chocolate Caramel with me to Manchester which was a lifesaver in my bedroom, where the tea and coffee making facilities were predictably limited.

If all of this sounds like a self indulgent wallow, which it is, the Mental Health Foundation says that in 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, a statistic which a bit old but pretty startling in a population of just six times that.  A fair percentage of those souls will be on sertraline and in the same predicament as me, not to mention those with other conditions and women in pregnancy, all of us getting the shit end of the stick when it comes to beverages.  I'm not sure what. if anything can be done about this, or indeed if its worth anyone's while trying to change minds.  Business decisions are business decisions, but its a craw sticker for those of us who're on the other end of those business decisions.

Nothing Scarier.

TV  Ever since I heard Jon Pertwee say, “There’s nothing more alarming than coming home and finding a Yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec ..." I've been curious about what it was about the place that made it seem the epitome of the ordinary British location in which the sight of a giant fury robot trying to push through a control sphere would seem out of the ordinary, the jarring mix of the fantastical and parochial.  No Yetis found, but I did buy a copy of Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World in a charity shop on Tooting High Street.

Tooting Bec itself is indeed deeply average with shopping streets leading off from an intersection where the tube station has been built, in the configuration just as described by Reyner Banham in his 1964 history of the commuter belt, A City Crowned With Green (which is on the iplayer here). One street which heads of towards "main" Tooting is populated with Asian shops, another is filled with hipster cafes and another leads to a giant Argos and Tesco Express.  In other words, Jon knew exactly what he was doing when he chose this place for his oft repeated phrase.

In case you're wondering, I did indeed go to the toilet in Tooting Bec.  I was bursting having held on since a preceding saunter around Clapham.  Obviously Jon was referring to someone's own toilet, an escapade I couldn't simulate, but I did find a welcoming pub.  Fortunately, the Great Intelligence was not hiding a minion in the stall.  But I did feel somewhat attacked because there wasn't any toilet paper once I'd completed my mission.  Fortunately I had some wet wipes with me, the real world equivalent of a sonic screwdriver, so I was OK.  On the way out, I discretely mentioned the lack of the paper at the bar.  What a hero.

"Oh my goodness!"

Life I was nearly knocked over this morning.

Close to work there's a box junction with a zebra crossing on each side. It was raining so I had my hood up, I was listening to Rachel Maddow's podcast and looking up the lights were red, the man was green so I began walking.

Not out of nowhere, because it never is, it's always from somewhere, I felt something graze my chest and an explanation, "Oh my goodness!"

Turning, I saw a cyclist racing forward down the road. He turned his head and gave me a dirty look before continuing his way.

The anxiety descended once I'd reached the other side of the road. Before then I might have shouted after him, "The lights were red, ." Before that I probably gave him the automatic British apology.

There's no doubt in my mind I was in the right.  He'd run the light, unlike the many cars stacked up at the junction.  The lights were red, the man was green.

Plus he wasn't wearing a helmet, or any kind of protection, just jeans and a pullover and with that velocity, in the reality were he did crash into me, a serious injury probably ensued.  Except in the reality where miraculously no injury occurred because there are infinite realities and every possibility imaginable.

In this reality, I'm sure that he was litigating all of this himself and the reasons I was in the wrong.  I didn't look left and right before I crossing, not paying attention to where I was walking, neither of which I deny not that either should have mattered given that he was the one who ran the red light.

But I did love that his key expression of surprise was "Oh my goodness!"  Having attempted quite unsuccessfully not to swear lately, he at least has my admiration for that.

By the time I reached work, my anxiety had mellowed again, which isn't to say I didn't relish telling the first work colleagues I saw about all of the above.

“I cannot tell you how ashamed I am”

About Yes. Indeed. You have me Clickhole:
“I cannot tell you how ashamed I am,” Tafferty wrote in the latest entry on his blog, The Tafferty Take, where he writes about a variety of subjects for an audience consisting of mostly friends and family. “People were counting on me to inform them about my favourite hiking trails in the area and how Liz is doing at her new job, and I let them down. There is no excuse for what I’ve done.”
As you will have noticed I've managed to post every day since Saturday.  I'll beat this yet [via].

Sunday Girl.

TV As you will have heard, Doctor Who is shifting to Sunday nights this year, beginning on the 7th October, in about a month. Let's talk about the Pros and Cons.


- Avoids the Strictly Come Dancing vortex of variable time slots as the dance contest contracts, five or ten minutes for each contestant who leaves in a given week, so Jodie's first year won't have to cope with being broadcast perilously close to the watershed as happened in Pete's opening season.

- People are more likely to be watching television on a Sunday night. Between Countryfile, the Antiques Roadshow and the 9pm drama slot, Sunday night has become a big ratings evening which also gives Doctor Who a much better chance of retaining the same weekly timeslot, 7pm with any luck, so people will know where to look.

- It's as brave a move as introducing Who to Saturdays back in 2005.  For a while that heralded other dramas in the same timeslot, Robin Hood and Merlin of a similar ilk, although it's been somewhat marooned since then.  Shifting to Sunday brings back an early evening drama timeslot which hasn't been in place for ages.


- Doctor Who has been Saturday night for so many years that it might be tricky for some people to adjust.  I mean apart from when it was mid-week during the Davison years when it actually received some of its highest ratings. Oh.

- We usually have a roast on a Sunday night.  No roasts for ten weeks if I want to keep with the transmission time.

- Having to write the reviews on a Sunday night.  My Sunday night reviews are almost always rubbish.

So really there isn't a downside to this.  Shrug.  Now can we please have a timeslot?

Things We Lost In The Fire.

Museums The Atlantic offers examples of the artifacts which will have been destroyed in the fire at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. It's heartbreaking:
"The museum also was home to an irreplaceable collection of pterosaurs—flying reptiles that soared over the dinosaurs’ heads. Brazil was something of a “heaven for pterosaurs,” and the discovery of spectacular creatures like Tapejara, Tupandactylus, and Tupuxuara, with their marvelously complete skeletons and improbably ornate crests, helped to reshape our understanding of these animals. “We may have lost dozens of the best preserved pterosaurs in the world,” said paleontologist Mark Witton. “There really is no collection comparable ... We find them elsewhere in the world, but the quality of the Brazilian material is remarkable.”"
The effect the destruction of this number of holotypes to research and history is incalculable.  What this underscores for me is how we much we still treat the museums of the world as independent bodies at the mercy of their own governments rather than as one entire global collection. 

If the Brazillian government were unwilling to fund the site properly it should have been the responsibility of other museums with larger pockets and philanthropists to carry out the necessary work in order to prevent this kind of tragedy.

The Such Stuff Podcast.

Shakespeare Shakespeare's Globe has launched a fortnightly podcast about his works and how they're tackling the plays with behind the scenes interviews around various themes. This isn't a side project - its being produced in conjunction with Globe Education and artistic director Michelle Terry is participating. Here's the first episode synopsis:
Episode 1: The Missing Women
In the first ever episode of Such Stuff we’ll be asking: why is it so important to reclaim the untold stories of women from history?

Emilia Bassano was a poet, writer, feminist and contemporary of Shakespeare, and until recently, her contribution to the literary canon was largely forgotten. Now she is the subject of a new play, Emilia, and the Emilias that appear throughout Shakespeare’s work have underpinned the entire summer season.

Is she the dark lady of the sonnets? Was she the inspiration for the Emilias in Othello and The Winter’s Tale? We explore what we do and don’t know about the real Emilia Bassano with Research Fellow Dr Will Tosh and go behind the scenes with writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and director Nicole Charles on new play Emilia, which takes an imaginative leap from the evidence of her life and tells an extraordinary story.

We’ll also be taking a look at imbalances off of our stages, and speaking to Emma Caplan of Band of Mothers about the missing women in our workforces.

And finally, Kate Pankhurst, author of bestselling Fantastically Great Women Who Made History, chats to us about why young children - girls and boys! - need more stories of women from history.
There's a genuine sense now that the Globe has regained its sense of purpose and returned to its earlier mission statements.

It's Good To Talk.

Life Back in February 2009, when Twitter was civil, everyone pretty much agreed on things and people actually didn't mind meeting each other in public, the first Twestival was organised at the Leaf Cafe on Parliament Street in Liverpool. I posted a full report back then and the key theme was that, with the exception of people who came as a group of work colleagues, it was an opportunity for a group of near total strangers to natter awkwardly with each other and perhaps make some friends.  What made all this easier was that we had a commonality, a social network, which meant we at least had an opening topic.

The Guardian reports that in Vienna and some other places, events are being organised in which the only commonality seems to be that they're all human beings. Coffeehouse Conversations, which sounds like a mid-noughties PBS podcast, offers the chance for a group of locals and some "outsiders" (holiday makers and the like) to meet and have intimate conversations for two hours in the hopes of fostering understanding between people from different backgrounds:
"Since March 2013 Quinn has hosted a monthly meetup at a coffeehouse in the city, pairing residents and outsiders for an evening of traditional food, drink and challenging one-on-one conversation. The premise is like speed dating, except participants spend the whole two hours with the same person, forcing them to push past small talk, and there’s no explicit matchmaking intent – though, Quinn says, it has resulted in three marriages."
What attracts me to this model is that the conversations are between two people. I'm impossibly bad in group situations, usually quiet and watching rather than participating. I much prefer one-to-one situations, especially when there isn't an motive other than to just talk. 


TV "I'm in my wedding dress. It doesn't have pockets. Who has pockets? Have you ever seen a bride with pockets? When I went to my fitting at Chez Alison, the one thing I forgot to say is give me pockets!" -- Donna Noble, "Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride

This seems immensely practical, especially since it gives you somewhere to put your hands, keep some tissues, hand wipes or even a phone, which is what the Doctor's asking her about when she gives him this rant.

"The legendary Lucie Miller - chav extraordinaire"

Audio Well, yes, I was half right.

Lucie Miller returns!

Set during the original run, it's a boxed set of four new adventures with some of the best writers from that series returning:

The Dalek Trap by Nicholas Briggs
The Revolution Game by Alice Cavender
The House on the Edge of Chaos by Eddie Robson
Island of the Fendahl by Alan Barnes

As Scott Handcock points out, Big Finish spends much of its time slotting new adventures in for old Doctor/Companion pairings, so why not within its own continuity?  Wow.

August is Gone.

About New month, new logo bar and so for fans of Scandipop, its ...

Petra Marklund, better known as September.

She reached no 5 in the UK Pop Charts in 2008 with Cry for You:

The Other Side of the Wind.

Film This is an incredibly significant moment. When it was announced that Netflix would be funding the completion of the final film by Orson Welles, something he was unable to achieve himself during his own lifetime, I was very excited but cautious. Welles projects have been notorious in the torture with which they come to fruition and The Other Side of the Wind seemed like a pipedream.

Here it is, the first trailer and it looks magnificent. If the editing of the trailer is a guide, it's very much akin to late era Welles, especially F For Fake. Hopefully the good will can stretch to finishing some of his other projects especially The Deep which seems to have been incredibly close to completion from what I've read. 

And apart from all this, its simply going to pop up on the internet on the 2nd November to watch, no tortuous hope that it'll receive a UK cinema release or buying a blu-ray from the US hoping it'll be multi-region.  I suppose the big irony is that it seems like a picture all about film as a celluloid medium yet its delivery will by anything but.

What does someone on your street think about something?

Online I've long known that it's possible to use a wildcard search on Tweetdeck to fill a column with a stream of everything on Twitter at a given moment or at least as much as the API can handle to update with. But only today did I notice that you can combine this with a location search to essentially see what people are tweeting in your local area, as close as a 100m.

Within the "location" box you can search for your own city or locale.  When the map shifts close, change the radio to 100m and then shift the map to where you live and click.  The circle shifts to exactly where you live.  Change the radius to 1km and you have a stream of tweets from people who have their location turned on.

For my part that just means people visiting Sefton Park which could be exciting on an event day.  But I've increased the radius to 10km and turned on "verified users only" to limit things a bit which means I have a constantly updating news wire about Liverpool and a few of the surrounding areas.  Which isn't to say that opening it up to anyone isn't an entertaining free for all.

There are probably journalistically useful ways of utilising this.  If there's a major event happening you could choose the locale then narrow the radius until you're very close, so long as you have a rough idea of the area and patience with the map as it floats around in the tiny window.  Eurovision night should be a hoot ...

"You think you're so big, don't you? Messing with our heads."

Audio Recently on Twitter:

On the left it's definitely Paul McGann with his Holby City hair:

On the right?  Bit harder but I think, based on the chin, that it's India Fisher:

With her hair tied up.

Which means Eighth and Charley are back together. Or they were simply in the vicinity during the recording of this and Nick's being playful.

But if it is 8th+C I'd happy if its either during the first two seasons or post The Girl Who Never Was, re-united but carrying baggage, still seeking adventure.

Bookmarks Clearing House #1

Life After an import catastrophe, my Chrome browser's now filled with bookmarks to lots of old things which have collected in my Google profile over the years. Since I don't really want to keep them clogging things up, I'm going to link to the more useful, interesting websites here. You might like them too.

YouTube TV.
What's sometimes called the "leanback" version, this is the page your TV or streamer box accesses when you hit the YouTube app. I found it when I had an old Sony Google TV box which was the precursor to Roku or Kindle Fire and whose web browser reacted to the user agent for a "TV" version of a website rather like mobile websites.

How to Turn YouTube Channels into Subscribable Podcasts:
Or more importantly a work around for those of us who YouTube having RSS feeds.

Train Times
A simply, slightly technique but ultimately very clear mash-up of National Rail's time table information. Includes live tube map.

Media History Digital Library
"A free online resource, featuring millions of pages of books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound."

Searches for typos on eBay based on the search terms you give it, in case there's anything which is being ignored because the person listing wasn't watching what they were doing. Example.

Like A Rolling Stone.
Interactive pop video which is just as hysterical now as when it was first uploaded.

The new Cineworld in Speke is open.

Film  Back when I saw more films at the actual cinema rather than on my largish tv at home, I'd often travel out to far flung multiplexes like the Showcase on East Lancs Road or the Odeon at Switch Island.  With just a five screener on Lime Street and the 051 art house, some films simply weren't delivered into the city centre and I really disliked the tired old screen house at Edge Lane which seemed to be in managed decline from the moment it opened as the MGM, through Virgin and finally as a Cineworld.  That last film I saw there was Snakes on a Place which I chose deliberately because I knew the experience was going to be as potentially awful as the film itself.  Sure enough a group of teenagers chatted through the whole thing, the seat was uncomfortably rigid and the print, still on celluloid, looked like a car had driven over it.  That's now been closed make way for a newer model as part of a new development and we'll see how that goes.

But it was with some excitement and trepidation this morning I took what for me was an old school longish bus ride to a multiplex, the new Cineworld at the New Mersey Retail Park.  Having a cinema on this site has been long promised - there were rumours as far back as when I lived in the area and now, finally, after the demolition of a massive Currys, here it is with its generic architecture and identikit eating choices, the film going equivalent of a fast food restaurant.  Which sounds like a criticism, but after all of the recent debarkles at FACT's Picturehouse were presenting a film has become an inconsistent challenge, it's quite the pleasure to turn up somewhere, pay for a ticket, buy some refreshment and be able to sit with a film for a couple of hours without any major hassles and with a toilet within spitting distance of the screen and not on a completely different floor unless you want to feel guilty for using the designated disabled WC (as is the case at FACT).

Having only been open a couple of weeks, the Cineworld Speke still has that plastic scented freshness which you wish cinemas could retain.  At the front of the building is a Starbucks although its a franchise owned by Cineworld so won't accept the chain's payment card.  But its nice to even have a Starbucks back at New Mersey Retail Park after the one inside the Borders closed.  As you can see from the photo there are also multiple restaurants on site which I presume will also be franchises - is that how this works?  Honestly, none of this is something I'd ever expect to even be in Speke, especially when I was living there.  Back then the height of excitement was when Iceland opened in the Parade or when the EU's cheese mountain was distributed in massive chunks through the local community centre.  That was the first time I'd seen so much cheddar in one place.  Plus our closest cinema was the Woolton Picture House, but that's another story.

The box office is upstairs.  It's about as you'd expect for a multiplex box office in 2018, a confection stand which also just happens to sell tickets, although there are self service machines across the foyer.  One innovation is the ability to choose a designated seat from a tough screen attached to the till, although without much indication of how big the screen and the placement of the chairs, at this point selecting A6 was pure guesswork.  The ticket was cheaper than expected, £7.70 (with a concession), which considering that an average price about twenty years ago for a matinee was about £3 isn't that much of a mark-up.  Screens with innovations (gimmicks) like ScreenX (another attempt at Cinerama) or SuperScreen (an image that sits floor to ceiling) are more expensive.  Threed is mentioned everywhere but I can't remember seeing a film which actually required glasses.  It looks fun, if disorientating.

The screens are arranged around a central waiting area rather than the corridor system you see elsewhere.  I didn't dawdle, I was already running late after the bus was late.  Screen 9 has stadium seating reaching pretty well backwards to the ceiling with a large fixed screen.  Oddly, the seat arrangement didn't match the map I'd been shown at the ticket buying stage, so I pretty much sat anywhere, which was three seats back from the front.  This was confusing enough that all of the audience members, both of us, went out and checked we were in the right screen.  Annoyingly, the stairs are almost directly in front of the screen so its impossible to sit centrally which somewhat makes sense in a massive screen, but in a smaller unit like this means that everyone is at an angle.  The seats have a PCV covering and recline with cupholders directly in the armrests.  You're glazing over, I can tell.  For some of you, this is a typical cinema going experience, but let me enjoy the novelty. 

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is stunning and like every installment since M:I III renders the James Bond franchise irrelevant without some new innovation (which I still think should be to start again with faithful period adaptations in the correct sequence beginning with Casino Royale again).  It's not so much that the action sequences as concepts are new, it's the way their shot, with Tom Cruise quite clearly doing all of the wackier stunts himself creating a jaw-dropping level of verisimilitude.  That earlier film is still my favourite (its funnier), but it's incredible that this is a franchise which began twenty-two years ago is still as kinetic as this without feeling the need to reboot.  Can we please have a White Widow vs Ilsa spin-off?  There seems to be a homage to the music in Star Trek's Arena in one of the sequences.  Its also hilarious that Cavill could quite easily have worn a prosthetic moustache until it grew back but the filmmakers seem to have forced DC/WB into a corner for shits and giggles, ruining Justice League through CGI lip distraction because they could. 

Speaking of distractions, within seconds of the film starting, I became aware of a screen like on the right edge of the screen.  Unlike FACT with its large screen interfering fire exit lights, Cineworld have gone with a more subtle square of red LEDs which presumably change in the case of an emergency.  Next to this is a green light which flashed on and off intermittently through the entire film, which was particularly distracting during the darker sequences.  None of this managed to spoil the film, but you can bet I advised the cinema management on the way out.  Also about the square box of light reflecting from the window in the projection box at the top of the screen.  The manager said he'd noticed the latter at least and would have someone look at the former.  Neither of these irritants were enough to spoil the film which is presumably another measure of how exciting the film is.  If it had been a wash, I probably would have sat watching that green light flicker off and on and off again.

Afterwards I had planned to see something else, but the waits were too long for anything I would potentially be interested in seeing and with M:I VII having a duration of two and half hours there's only so much time my old eyes can spend in front of a screen these days (I'm 43).  That I was contemplating such is quite the thing and you're as surprised as I am.  It doesn't take much for me to reject a cinema but this experience was good enough that if these is another film I'd consider watching in the future that I'd probably travel out to Speke instead of the city centre.  However passionless multiplexes are, there was an effortless to the experience.  Plus having screenings which begin this early feels incredibly civilized.  You can see a film and then have the rest of the day to play about with, which is the jam.  I'll report back when I've had a chance to have the ScreenX experience.  It might just enough to get me to see Aquaman at the cinema.

Fans, eh?

TV At what point did you decide that you were a Doctor Who fan with a capital F? This question won't necessarily be relevant to everyone reading this, although given that I have some clue as to this blog's constituency or at least the three people who've been sticking with it during the silence (Hello Twitter followers), it's perhaps not entirely off piste. Go on, when? If asked, I always give the answer that it's when the Eighth Doctor met Charley in Storm Warning, which allows me to bore people off about how good the Big Finish audios are.  But in truth it had been brewing for a while between visiting the exhibition at the Dapol Factory in Llangollen and then watching or listening to as much material as was available between UK Gold recordings by a relative and borrowing BBC audio books from Liverpool libraries.  Pop culture fandom is really something which creeps up on you, something speaks to you about it which makes you then in turn want to talk about it with other people.

Doctor Who's fandom was impossible to miss as a concept, partly because it seemed like a logical  progression given both Star Wars and Star Trek had them too, but it was really in the pages of the party circular that the extent of it, the mass, became most obvious, not to mention subsequently the web, notably Outpost Gallifrey (ask your Dad).  But it's not until reading Paul Cornell's anthology of fanzine extracts, Licence Denied that I really understood the longevity and depth of it.  Suddenly I realised that the authors of all those books I'd glanced at in Waterstones and even bought, weren't just for hire but had long been fanatics of the series.  The acknowledgements page alone is a who's question mark cover tank-top of everyone you probably follow on social media.  My key take away, other than that Graham Williams the producer of some of my favourite stories was hated in the late 70s, was that these were my people and still are.

Which is why the new Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition, The World of Doctor Who, is such a joy.  Effectively an update of the Cornell book, twenty years on with less in-jokes and inevitably a greater sense of optimism, it charts the chronology of TARDIS followers from the 60s through to the present day, stopping off in between to provide potted histories of conventions, fanzines and fan productions (licenced and otherwise) usually with the kinds of technical details about organisation, production and distribution that we adore.  Given that I missed almost all of this before the pre-internet 00s, all kinds of mini-controversies are finally explained -- Ben Cook's interview with Keith Miller cheerfully watching water flow under the proverbial until it flows into a valley drawn on pavement of London's South Bank.  It also says something about this longevity that contributors to Paul's book also turn up here in a paid gig.

It's also a reminder that fans, especially of a programme with this longevity and who are the reason it literally still exists, have always had a sense of entitlement.  For some this manifested itself in them actually taking control of the series, of the narrative, and for others it's been to scream at those same people for not making the version which is in their heads.  There's a brill cutting from Doctor Who Bulletin in which Ian Levine remonstrates about the state of the show in the latter parts of the JNT era, despite the fact he was a "consultant" only a couple of years before.  Seeing some of this writing, I've wondered if my own caustic reviews, especially of Capaldi episodes don't have a similar invective tone.  But even if that's true, for the most part its because I want the series to be the best it can be and keep to its core philosophies.  Well that and trying to be funny even if that's an endeavour for which I rarely succeed.

The closest I ever got to writing for a fanzine was Behind The Sofa, the group blog which ran for five years in the last decade (yes, sorry, BTS died eight whole years ago) otherwise I've generally squeed all over this place. I've always been slightly (slightly?) reticent about networking with other fans offline.  Despite what everyone says, I'm especially scared about attending a convention in case seeing or meeting stars or creators of the show compromises what's otherwise been a relatively solitary relationship between me and the show.  If someone has an off-day, I'd be afraid that it'd change how I enjoy the text.  But this magazine's made me wonder - would it be so bad to be able to go to a place and meet people who actually share my interests, where I'd have something in common with everyone there and actually understand the reference?  Would I have to cosplay, or would a Clayton Hickman t-shirt do the trick?

This special is a reminder that despite also enjoying film and considering myself a Shakespeare "fan", this silly old series is the one thing I can't stop returning to.  Apart from it being amazing even when it's rubbish, the stuff of it, the everything, the immensity, that it has all of these facets, that you can love all of it and some of it and yet still consider yourself part of the tribe and that its originating "studio" only partially has any control over this is what makes it pretty unique.  That's why when older fans lose their temper about the youngsters (or whatever patronising phrase they've chosen this week) not really understanding what the show is about or its history, it's a collective act of amnesia of how they originally approached the series.  Those youngster are the franchise's future and the reason why it'll still be going after we've all had our ashes scattered from a TARDIS shaped urn at Wooky Hollow.  If the show has to have taught us anything, it's that embrace change protects its future.


Social Media For a few weeks now, since buying this new(ish) PC, with its ability to run more than the basic columns in Tweetdeck, I've been pondering how I can set up a column which just features Tweets from users with a particular keyword or search term in their username.

In other words, have something which features all the BBC accounts without actually having to laboriously maintain a list or follow the corporation's own infrequently updated lists.

After much headscratching and googling I've found this:


And then applying a "verified user" filter on the column.

This is by no means exactly what I wanted. It only features links back to the website, not the general chatter I was hoping for.

In the olden days, before Twitter turned off that bit of their API, I would have been able to feed this search into ITTT but this will do for now.  Plus it has the flexibility to allow for:


And to combine them:

(link:*bbc.co.uk*) OR (link:*theguardian.com*)

So could could have a film column:

(link:*variety.com*) OR (link:*hollywoodreporter.com*) OR (link:*www.empireonline.com*) OR (about a hundred other things)

All of which also has the benefit of including users other than those connected with the magazines so that if a link is a especially popular it'll bubble up more often than it might from just the originating feed. 

A Complaint Letter To Picturehouse Cinemas.

Film The following tells much of the story. What I didn't include, in order to stay on topic, was the appalling sound quality. Only the speakers behind the screen seemed to be in use and often muffled.

This afternoon I saw the lunchtime (12:45pm) showing of The Antman and the Wasp at your Picturehouse at FACT. After the adverts, the film began to start and began projecting in 'scope across the middle of the 1.85:1 screen which had already been set up for the adverts, looking pretty much as it does on a home television with black bars across the top and bottom of the screen. Initially I thought this was an affectation and that, rather like Galaxy Quest for example, once the film started the image would increase to fill the screen.

It did not. The whole film played this way. At this stage I didn't know that the director had chosen to make the film in 'scope - the first film was in 1.85:1, so I thought perhaps matt blinds had been left on the projector and the image was being cropped - so I began considering whether to miss some of the film and run out and report it which was at the back of my mind through almost the whole film, whether I was seeing the whole image, guaging if the tops of heads were cropped. Once you have a thought like that it just *lingers*. So that rather took my out of the film.

​Checking afterwards, the IMDb revealed that it was indeed made in 2.39:1 so it had been projected incorrectly. I was a bit cross to be honest. Projecting in this way also meant that the emergency exit sign which is right next to the screen reflected across the surface screwing up the blacks in the image making some scenes look especially difficult to watch. It's less noticable when the screen has an image across the whole thing, but in this instance again, it was really, yes, distracting and damaging enough that it looked better when the house lights were up over the credits.

I spoke to the cinema manager and she explained that it was a fault with the projector which they've been reporting to you at head office for over eighteen months - something to do with the lense not being able to interpret the DCPs they're being sent properly. So that's eighteen months of people like me having to pay full price to watch films with inferior picture to quality, which is quite frankly rubbish, especially for a company which used to put cinema and the quality of how cinema is presented above all other concerns.

The manager said that its got to the point were they're now asking customers to email their complaints to head office because they're not getting any help directly. This should not be the case. I should not have to send this email. You should be listening to your cinema managers and providing whatever help they need to offer the best product to their customers. MARVEL films are my special treat and your inaction on this issue all but ruined this one.

Take care,

Update! 7/9/2018 I've had a reply:
Dear Stuart

Thank you for your email and your feedback. We appreciate all feedback as it helps us know how to improve the customer experience.

I am sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your visit. The issue with the projection has been unfortunately a problem for the FACT Liverpool site for about 8 weeks, instead of 18 months as you may have misheard. They are working with the temporary solutions they have, and are understandably keen to get back to the correct projections, as are we all. We are organising the parts and engineering required, and we appreciate your patience while these works are underway.

Kind regards,

[Some person]
Picturehouse Customer Care Team Leader
I've since been back in touch with Picturehouse at FACT - apparently it could have been 18 weeks [shrug emoji]. The relevant parts have finally arrived from the US and they should be installed shortly. Stand down everyone, stand down.

Bye Bye July.

About It's that time again, new month, new picture at the top of the blog. Look ...

It's Pernilla August who played Shmi in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menance.

Every theatrical release reviewed in Sight and Sound & The Monthly Film Bulletin. Ever.

Film Soon. But not yet, I'll let you know.

After noodling about with spreadsheets and the list on Letterboxd, a month ago I set up a central watch list on the IMDb to consult rather than having selections strewn across the various streaming services. With the help of JustWatch, that means that the service itself becomes secondary to the text/artwork/result of the entertainment media conglomerate's mode of production that looks good.

That led to the inevitable question of what?  After attempting to use Rotten Tomatoes aggregator as a guide and only watching anything which has a score of more than 70%, which led to me watching too many very good films, which seems like a blessing, but just like my anxiety tablets this generally pleasant mood all of the time, it left me with nothing to kick against.

Which led to a realisation the better option was to  work through everything theatrically released in the UK and then pick and choose what looks good.  In other words, what most people do.  But with my project led brain, it seemed best to be systematic about this.  The best way to cover the variety of releases was to look at the deep pile of Sight and Sound Magazines under my desk.

Then taking out a subscription to give me access to the digital archive of every issues so that said pile can remain undisturbed.  Much easier to work from a scan anyway and in any case, the collection only really stretches back to the early 00s.  Now I'm putting this on a screen it looks completely mad.  I'll never watch all of these films.  Gah.
So the reason for my absense from here, other than going through one of the periods of living up to its title, is creating playlists containing every film which has been reviewed in a year's worth of Sight and Sound Magazine.  Essentially, volunarily submitting to a data input role.  The monotony is surprisingly theraputic.  Zen-like.

After each year, that content has been transfered to my watchlist, which is sorted by release date going backwards.  Except, "fun fact", on the website that's the international release date.  You can only see the UK release date order on the app.  Although that would have been my preference, with nearly seven thousand items already in the watchlist, the app just crashes, so website it is.

Sight and Sound 2011

Sight and Sound 2012

Sight and Sound 2013

Sight and Sound 2014

Sight and Sound 2015

Sight and Sound 2016

Sight and Sound 2017

Sight and Sound 2018 (so far!)

My tollerance is about six months/issues per night although hopefully that'll get longer as the number of releases/reviews decreases going backwards.  There didn't seem to be as many films released even in the last decade let alone the nineties, although it's also possible that most of them were only receiving a London release (as plenty of newer films still do).

Something to be aware of is that this won't necessarily be the films that actually received their theatrical release in those years.  The vagueries of publishing mean that the January issue will have reviews for film released in the preceeding December.  It's a bit smushy.  There have also been occasions when I've come across a film which isn't on the IMDb and submitted a basic update.

Eventually the plan, as the post title suggests is to create a single playlist containing everything reviewed across both titles.  The Monthly Film Bulletin ran the complete film round-up until the two titles merged in the 90s with Sight and Sound only covering a few key titles when it was still just a quartly publication. 

Given that the remit of both periodicals has been to keep a record of every film released in the UK each month, that should mean that there'll then be a big long list of every film theatrically released in the UK stretching back to 1934 somewhere online.  I'm not sure of what use this will be although I imagine the downloadable database will be handy for someone.

Of course, when I get to the other end of these publications, I'll look at the chasm of time between 1934 and the start of the film business and want to fill in that gap somehow.  But we'll see.  Like I said, having written all of this down (if you see what I mean), it looks like an impossible task.  But I like a challenge ...

All of this is new to me.

TV And there we have it. Proper footage of Jodie doing her thing and she's just, isn't she? The way she moves, the accent, the sheer joy of it from the off. She is the Doctor and we like it very much indeed.  It's a reminder of what Doctor Who is, feels like a Doctor Who trailer but ...

Something which was lost in between the folds of Capaldi's attack eyebrows and the shadows which seemed to stretch across every scene of his era was that this show is at its best when it's fun, the darkness acting as a seasoning rather than the whole dish.

There's a giddiness here in the few fragments we see of her in action of a kind not highlighted since early in the Matt Smith era, with its sense of adventure, its "All of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will.  Where do you wanna start?"

More's to the point we still know barely anything about the characters or the situations apart from what's been revealed elsewhere - Chibbers says no Daleks for this year or two parters which are both blessings.  Anyway, I'm off to watch it another 53 times anyway.

Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.

TV Oh my goodness, this trailer has me gasping, absolutely gasping and laughing and cheering and oh my goodness.

The Clone Wars is back !?! They're completing the series properly with the mythic Mandalore storyline? How are they going to take Rebels into account? Will we see the much talked about plan of having Asoka endure the massacre at the Jedi Temple, watching her old mentor's descent into the dark side?  The lusciously letterbox, the painterly animation, oh bliss.  Just bliss.  Anyway, having got that out of the way, I'll talk about the other thing in another post because it seems unfair to stick it under here.  Blimey.

"Hey Jodie..."

TV If nothing else, putting this teaser on during the World Cup half time meant that we all received an education in the intricacies of the handball rule from a bespecled Gary Linekar, the moment he placed the glasses on his nose surely a reference to similar moments for the fifth and tenth Doctors.  Clearly based on those rules it wasn't a penalty but since England aren't in the final I couldn't care either way.

First reaction?  Honestly?  "Is that it?"

On seeing it again, wow that's just the sort of integrated marketing of which the BBC should be rightly proud.  Rather than, as happened with the Bill reveal during Match of the Day, it was an alien thing dropped in amongst the football, this actually seemlessly fits in everything that surrounds it, including footage of a Garyscussion in which Sheerer and Ferdinand's words have a double meaning.

If it's a reflection of the ensuing series, we're returning to the urban series of the Davies era,with the look of the trailer strongly reminiscent of those British films set within big cities, Late Night Shopping, Wonderland or Dirty Pretty Things, companions in the mode of Rose, Martha or Donna rather than Amy or Rory. Bill was somewhere in the middle.

Why The Beano Summer Special from 1981?  It's the issue Eleventh is seen reading at the opening of The Rings of Arkanoid (or however they spelt it):

So it was whatever they had in the prop store. The Beano were so impressed with that cameo, they reprinted it as part of a Doctor Who special.

And there at the end, there she is:

For the past couple of days I've been in a bit of an anxiety bubble and what broke me out of it, apart from some buttered toast and the final two episodes of The Ark in Space was knowing that this glimpse would be coming. I was a bit harsh (a bit?) when Chris C was announced as the new showrunner, but the fact that he seems that got the casting of the key role so spectacularly right from what we've seen so far means I'm as excited about this new series now as I've ever been.

It's comin', oh it's a comin'.

June Over.

About Happy Fourth of July if this something you're celebrating. June's over and so here are with a new title bar for the blog. It is, quite predictably ...

Miranda July

Here We Go Again.

Music Sorry, not sorry for the Doctor Who reference, but it's to one of my other loves I'm referring.

In a recent interview for a podcast I've never a heard of but fortunately transcribed by the Official Chart Company's website, Siobhan's talked about the group still in the process of recording music. But they're in no hurry to release anything:
"We're all in our early thirties now so it doesn't really matter when we release this record," she explained. "To us, it will happen. If it takes longer, that doesn't mean we'll suddenly think we don't want to do this anymore. We got together 20 years ago... and when we sing now it feels just as magical - even more so. That's really special... this is a natural connection that we have."
Which at this point makes it sound like one of Ian Levine's private projects, although to be fair she does say "major legal implications" have stalled the comeback, which either means they're still trying to get the Sugababes name back or a record company's being obstructive or some such.

But judging by the rest of it, everyone is getting along fine and honestly I'm happier about that than about them releasing new music.  Grudges can be toxic and its good to hear they really have put it all behind them.

Now, here's a Dutch bloke in a balaclava singing Overload:

Do you like our owl?

TV The BBC's Computer Literacy Project wasn't something which really effected me at school. Although I would have been just in the right place chronologically for it, my Junior school didn't even own a computer, I don't think, and although the secondary school did have a BBC Micro in the physics lab, our computer room was first filled with Research Machines 380Z and when it finally had an upgrade and dozen Acorn Achemedes.

But at home, I didn't miss a programme, especially Micro Live which I remember vividly seeing amongst Play Chess and various Open University programmes (which I barely understood but liked the colours of the science experiments). It's Fred Harris voice which resonates now as he calmly explained how easy it was to use a computer and how we shouldn't be scared of them. Thinking back now, it's possible it was my interest in these which led my parents to give me an Acorn Electron, my first computer.

Now, as part of the Taster series, the BBC have uploaded an entire archive of programmes and related documents from across the projects ten year history, including the whole of Micro Live, Micro File and their earlier iterations. They've also included an emulated archive of the hundred and sixty on BBC Micro programmes featured across the programmes, which is something even viewers wouldn't have had easy access to thirty years ago. Yes, thirty years. My god.

Here's a very long press release explaining how the project happened and why its being resurrected and here's a blog post about designing the website. Hopefully it'll be online longer than the three month window its currently been given.

Here are some of my highlights:

Douglas Adams interview about the game version of Hitchhikers from Micro Live.

A visit to the EPCOT Centre.

John Humphries takes a word processing challenge.

Motion Control in Hollywood movies with behind the scenes material for 2010 and The Last Starfighter.  Features bonus Leslie Judd.

Brian Jacks reveals which micro he bought for himself and his family.

Paul Daniels explains his experiences with home computers and at programming.

Some software:

This animated Owl which was the symbol of the project. Few people remember just how difficult it was to do this kind of moving imagine on a machine with less memory than it takes to power one pixel on a smart phone.

Snapper which I was the first game I became addicted to, but not as much as my Dad who would be regularly up until two in the evening playing this and Chuckie Egg. Included with a box of titles in the original release of the Electron.

A really ambitious version of Space Invaders, with fast moving graphics and a steep difficultly curve.

Obligatory "new" computer post.

Life Let's mark time again. For the past eight months, after my last desktop conked, I've been persevering with a laptop connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, which long term readers around these parts will know has happened before. At least a years worth of the RTD era of Doctor Who was tapped into a old school Compaq netbook with an Atom processor running XP, not to mention much of one of the annual reviews.

Anyway, that trusty Fujitsu was becoming increasingly slow and even a slight memory boost, double the 4gb, was only a temporary fix.  Computers just get old and this was taking three or four minutes to start up and keeling over with more than five or six tabs open on Chrome.  Spotify was slow enough to be unusable to the point that I unsubscribed and moved over the Amazon Music (not that I'm in a hurry to switch back).  Time and tide.

This is now being typed into a HP Elite 8300 SFF Quad Core i5-3470 3.20GHz with 8GB of memory and a 256 GB solid state hard drive (my primary storage is a connected external disc).  Despite being (a) refurbished and (b) being originally manufactured in 2012, it's the fastest machine I've ever used.  Thanks to the SSD, start up takes seconds as does shut down and apps load almost instantaneously.  Web pages appear super fast.

There's nothing more to it than that, there isn't some amazing story here, other than that buying refurbished hasn't so far been the disaster that some sites suggested it might be.  The label on the top says Windows 7 but it's running Windows 10, but other than that it feels brand new.  About the only upgrade I'm considering is an extra graphics card but frankly since I don't play new games, I can't yet see what the benefits would be.  Chuckie Egg plays perfectly fine.

Rise of the Lichens.

Life  Turns out for forty-three years I've been carrying a genetic disorder. In about March I noticed a white mark running down the middle of my tongue and that food tasted weird. A pharmacist thought it might have been just that I'd scalded my tongue, but after seeing the dentist for my regular check-up I was referred up the dental hospital.

The appointment was yesterday. After ninety minutes of interrogation and prodding about in here by some dental students and their lecturer, at one point involving an actual ruler to measure the length of some of the more obvious white patches in my gum, I was told that I wasn't treatable.  I have Oral Lichen Planus, an auto-immune disorder caused by the body being at war with itself. 

Aesthetically its about as bad as it can get.  I strenuously suggest you don't look at this Google image search which is filled with cases far worse than mine.  You looked, didn't you.  Well, it's you're own fault and Nick Ross isn't going to save you this time.  It looks a bit like Oral Thrush, but whereas that can be fixed with some anti-fungal gel, this is just something you have to live with.

Apparently it could clear itself up in a couple of years.  Or never go away - some patients have had it for decades.  But it shouldn't be effecting taste, so I'm also visiting the hospital for a blood test to check for a zinc deficiency and biopsy out of an abundance of caution that it's not something more serious.  There is a cancer risk, 1% in ten years or some such.

But the general message was that this is nothing to worry about which is useful considering my other condition where that's the last thing on my mind.  The shift up 100mg seems to be working well and the side effects have subsided again.  Yesterday morning I felt nervous before the appointment, but what I like to call "proper" anxiety, the kind which subsides when you know you're going to be ok.

Basmati Brie.

Film The other day I renewed my NOWtv Sky Cinema package because (a) there was a three months for ten pounds offer which is extremely cheap (b) the whole thing will be owned by someone other than Murdoch in the next couple of months anyway and (c) it meant I could finally watch Bismati Blues, the Brie Larson starring romcom which managed to dodge both a theatrical and home release in the UK despite having an oscar winning star.

You might remember the trailer from last year.  It's the one which looked like a right up dated white saviour film in which Brie Larson seems to pop up in India to fight for the local "peasants" against an evil conglomerate surrounded by stereotypes and racist portrayals.  It was suggested by some that it had been dredged up from Larson's past, an early film made before her career properly coagulated as a cash grab from a production company which was trying to cash in on some old turkey.

Except, as this very good interview with the filmmakers from Vulture explains although you could argue about how successfully India is portrayed in the film (this Hindustan Times review is scathing) Brie participation is rather more complex.  Unlike this Variety review which suggests she began shooting before Short Term 12 put her on the map, Larson had actually completed shooting on that before she joined Basmati Blues (with shooting taking place during the gap before ST12 was released properly at cinemas).

But that's when it gets interesting.  That initial shoot was a washout: monsoon season descended destroying sets and leading to cast and crew being evacuated.  Not enough footage was shot and when what they'd manage to record had been assembled it was far from a completed film.  But they'd run out of money, despite the whole thing being bank rolled by George Soros's nephew.  Seriously, the films weird, but the production process is somehow weirder.

So they bided their time and eventually having added some SFX to what they had, they convinced the financiers to give them some more money to go in an shoot enough material to complete the footage:
"By the time reshoots began in 2015, nearly all of the crewmembers, Indian and American, returned. Larson did too, even though by this point she had already shot Room, the movie that would win her the Oscar, and there was nothing in her contract that said she had to come back. Had the actress wanted Basmati Blues to stay hidden forever, she could have easily let it. That she didn’t is perhaps proof she really did care about the movie’s message."
So yes, contrary to every review you've probably seen, Larson cared about this project enough that she returned to complete reshoots after Room (which also makes me wonder exactly which footage is from which shooting period).  Which just goes to show that with filmmaking assuming a thing does not necessarily mean its true and some film reviewers need to do more research.   No one knows anything.

But what of the film?  It's bonkers.  Going in, I had no idea it was a musical (the trailer's a bit vague on that point) so imagine my delight when Brie began singing in the opening the scene and I remained gobsmacked for the rest of the duration.  It's rubbish, of course, and the charges of racist stereotyping aren't entirely wrong headed, it does have a shout out to Gurinder Chadha at one point).

Mostly because of Larson, you do end up just going with it in the end.  Any film which drops in a Busby Berkley inspired number starring Donald Sutherland and Tyne Daley has to at least be hate watched.  It also has Scott Bakula who eventually leads a giant song and dance number, a section which I'm guess has to have been shot in 2015 while is was on a break from one of those acronym shows.

Despite what the trailer suggests, it's almost the exact opposite of a white saviour film. She's in India to destroy the welfare of the local rice farming community on behalf of a multinational conglomerate by selling them sterile seeds.  As the filmmakers themselves admit, they were naive when writing the ending (most of which is in the trailer) but it is ultimate the Indian characters who save themselves and anything she does is by way of correcting her own horrendous mistake.

Overall it's worth seeing for Brie who belts out what are pretty good old school tunes (I've been listening to the soundtrack a lot since) even if the book doesn't quite hold together.  Larson's next seen in her directorial debut, Unicorn Store, which emerges in the UK at the end of this month and then it's Captain Marvel next year.  Hopefully playing a superhero doesn't mean she's completely given up on weirdy indie projects completely.

Powell Estate 2005.

TV Almost as though it was planned that way while classic Who propels along on Twitch (they grappling with The Gunfighters right now), the BBC have uploaded the whole of Doctor Who since 2005 onto the iPlayer with an expiry of about six months. There are some gaps - none of the animated series or crossovers with other shows - but nevertheless we're now in a situation where its possible to watch both televisual epocs for free.  The show has never been this accessible before.

In the half hour before I have to go to bed, I think I'll try and choose my favourite stories from the revival period, roughly one per season, with a link back to my original review and the opening paragraph of each just to bulk this out a bit.  Yes, new readers I have reviewed every episode since the show returned and much more beside.  Yes kids, that was my review of Blink.  It made sense that night if you'd watched Doctor Who Confidential (ask your parents).

"The downloadable screensaver from the official website which until seven o'clock tonight has been counting down until the start of the new series of Doctor Who now simply says 'The Invasion Begins...' Somehow I don't think it means the brief sound bleed of Graham Norton creeping in from BBC3 just as new companion Rose was being menaced for the first time by the Autons (who oddly weren't named this time out). It was an own goal from the BBC on what is one of the most important broadcasting nights of the year. But you know what I'm willing to forgive them."

School Reunion:
"A photograph appeared in both Radio Times and Doctor Who Magazine of The Doctor embracing Sarah Jane Smith and to meet it felt like for the first time the old and new shows were joining together, that the past and present would finally become one continuity, with new fans and viewers being given a reason to revisit those old stories. It felt right. It felt good. Then I saw tonight's episode and I still can't believe just how right, and how good, this adventure would be."

"Sorry Mr Tennant, I don't actually have first memory of Doctor Who. Actually I generally draw a blank on whole sections of my childhood and I have a horrible feeling that like the shadows that follow Jim Carrey about during the eternal sunshine of his spotless mind every now and then whole decades are doomed to become blurry, only memorable through the application of my videos of the 'I Love...' series of the early naughties. Who knows, in about ten years time I might look back at this review and ponder exactly where it came from."

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead:
"Blimey. Last week’s strategic announcement that the writer of this episode Stephen Moffat would be taking over the stewardship of the franchise was perfectly timed to keep the series in the public mindscape during the Eurovision stink and add to our expectations for his next story. All eyes would be on this opening episode, perhaps with some viewers not wanting to watch the dancers, acrobats and jugglers on the other side tuning in to see how good a writer this new producer is. It’s a disappointment to report then that at just the moment when the franchise had to produce one of its best stories ever we were presented with Moffat’s worst script, a cloggy, poorly written disappointing dirge that all seemed to take place in the same room, lacked mystery or excitement and frankly if any of his writing for the fifth series is this bad then there’s unlikely to be a sixth."

Planet of the Dead:
"Now that the Doctor Who Forum becomes a members only club after a ‘major event’ like the broadcasting of a new episode, I decided to search Twitter to find out what other people thought of Planet of the Dead. Unsurprisingly, even though a percentage of twittererers are the 'not we' or 'casuals', the comments are much the same a mix of ‘it was the shits’ and ‘it was shit’ along with people wanting to communicate the fact they recorded it/forgot it was on and that Russell T Davies is rubbish/God that David Tennant should/shouldn’t be going and that Michelle Ryan is well fit/too posh (I’m paraphrasing). In fact the only different I can see between Twitter and the discussion board formerly known as Outpost Gallifrey is that people tend to use their own faces as their avatars rather than a shot of Beacon Alpha Four and no one’s asked in which year it was set and the UNIT Dating implications."

The Eleventh Hour:
"When Steven Moffat’s stewardship of Doctor Who began in earnest there was a moment when he had to sit down and ask David Tennant if he wanted to continue. There was a moment, just a moment mind you, when Tennant’s mind must have raced with the possibilities. Another year. Just one more year. Maybe two. "

The Doctor's Wife:
"We’ve always suspected it and now Neil Gaiman has provided a confirmation. Over the years, over its forty-seven years, Doctor Who has invented itself and reinvented itself, its premise, bolting on new mythology, discarded other pieces that have stopped working, just like the characters of Auntie and Uncle in The Doctor’s Wife in fact, and more often than not it’s changed our perception of the stories which have gone before. It’s impossible to watch the sixties episode now without thinking of the Doctor as a Time Lord, the Meddling Monk too, even though the word wasn’t even uttered for six years. Similarly ever since the TV movie we’ve all had that nagging doubt about his parentage."

"Who in the what now with that pronunciation of Metebelis III? Really Matt Smith? Really? Though to be fair it’s not necessarily his fault. With his Troughton fixation he’s probably not seen The Green Death or Planet of the Spiders but no one else on the production has an excuse, especially the usually meticulous Steven Moffat who must have sat through the episode a couple of times before broadcast. Given that this was the first episode recorded of a very long shooting schedule, how could there not have been a moment during the ADR session when Matt was asked to pronounce it properly. Or is this Steven’s attempt at creating a new potato/patato or more accurately Uranus/Uranus for the Whoniverse?"

The Day of the Doctor:
"Right then here we are. It’s the evening after the night before, Adele’s on, and I really don’t want to be here, which I appreciate isn’t the best way to start any review, but when it’s a review you really don’t want to write, it’s probably perfect. You know when … I mean when … well … there we are. See, can’t even get my words out. But yes, if ever there was a time when I didn’t want to be sitting at a keyboard tapping away it would be now. There are certain moments in a fans life when they’re facing up to the fact that having made a promise earlier in their life, they want to do everything in their power to break it. So when I promised myself of all people that I’d review my way through all broadcast nuWho (and it’s spin offs), you know as a bit of a challenged, I’d be faced with something as patently unreviewable as The Day of the Doctor."

Robot of Sherwood:
"Just over ten years ago, your writer, not longer after watching the director’s cut of A Californian Archer in the Sheriff's Court decided to visit Nottingham and “do the Robin Hood” thing. Even on the six hour train journey down, or down and across, a bit, he didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect other than to see perhaps the castle. Thanks to the sheer longevity of this blog you can read about the whole thing here (I’ve now been writing this for a third of my life) including the visit to said castle where, after some haggling over guide books and what was their lack of interest in selling me one, the clerk behind the counter informed me that Robin Hood didn’t exist. "

Heaven Sent:
"He’s not is he? Is he? Since 1996, many is the spin-off story written to account for the Eighth Doctor’s “joke” about being half-human on his mother’s side and here we are in 2015 on the cusp of a massive episode about the Doctor returning to his home planet and having revealed that it’s not in fact the Daleks with which a Time Lord has been hybridised but some other warrior race and since it is apparently the Doctor who is the hybrid, well there can be only one answer to that conundrum."

The Empress of Mars:
"Good evening ladies and other genders, I give you my favourite episode of the series so far. No purportedly clever opening paragraph here, no wandering off into some personal blogging cul-de-sac in an attempt to put off the inevitable shrugs and sighs, The Empress of Mars is a winner, baby, and that's the truth (that's the truth). Woo-hoo. If this is Mark Gatiss's last episode for the television series (not that there's any indication of that), it's a pretty good summation of his favourite tropes and ideas, a televisual Last of the Gaderine so authentically Who that it demonstrates once again that for all Steven Moffat's reliance on showrunners nervously turning out a first Who script which in the end feels like the work of someone who only thinks they know the franchise, it's no replacement for someone who has it running through their creative veins and written more stories about the Doctor than anyone else this series."

You May Leave.

About Another month, so another new blog banner. Make way for ...

June Thorburn

... a character actress who worked mainly in the 1940s and 1950s, but whose life was tragically cut short in a plane crash in the 1960s [wikipedia].

London 1965.

TV Back in the Wilderness years when I became a Doctor Who fan, the ability to access old episodes fell between sell-thru VHSes when I could afford them, loans from friends and the off-air recordings from UK Gold my Auntie was good enough to capture. My first purchase was The Keeper of Traken at the exhibition in the Dapol factory in Llangollen. Although I managed to snag and watch a fair amount of the television series, it wasn't until the dvd releases that I really began to collect them. Even then it took until 2013 when I watched the whole of the series in one go, did the pilgrimage, that I finally saw Terror of the Zygons and listened to a number of the missing episodes for the first time.

Imagine my surprise and curiosity that right now, as I type, the gaming website Twitch is streaming almost the whole of Doctor Who in a marathon series of broadcasts for the next few months, barring orphan episodes and curiously the Dalek stories from the 1980s.  As I type, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is playing at the moment, Susan and David diffusing a bomb.  I didn't see television's Dalek Invasion of Earth until the DVD release (although the film version was well known to me) yet here it is streaming for anyone who's interested and even on a television if you have the wherewithal to cast the stream to a Chromecast or what have you.  If this had been available when I was first becoming a fan, I expect I'd be watching all night.

But for us old schoolers (I've been at this since the 1990s so I can't deny it any more), the real curiosity is the chat stream which runs up the side of the browser window which allows the up to eleven thousand viewers to comment on what they're watching, and its here we can see young fans, perhaps whose only exposure is the revival seeing these Hartnell stories for the first time.  Now I don't really understand live tweeting a drama when it's the first time you've seen it, but you know kids but what's here is fascinating as they notice most of the things which have been in-jokes for years or ask questions about who everyone is and best of all, create new memes which would never have occurred to us before.

Example: between episodes, Twitch are running a trailer for the particular era being shown and at the moment that includes a clip from The Chase of the school teachers  finally making their way home and Ian's exclamation, "Its London 1965!" and ever since the chat box has been filled with commenters repeating the phrase or versions of it.  But the love for Ian and Babs has been charming.  Even before The Daleks/The Mutants/The Dead Planet or whatever had completed broadcast, they'd already begun 'shipping them.  They really love Barbara.  They'll be crushed when she's gone some time in the next couple of days given the relentless nature of these broadcasts.  But it does suck you in.  Despite having a mountain of Big Finish to catch up on, and everything else, I'm really tempted to watch all of this again.

Watching these comments is addictive and it's a draw just to see what they make of the various reveals and cliffhangers (assuming someone doesn't come in and spoil everything).  The Rescue's playing later and I'm half tempted to stay up just to see what they make of Koquillian.  How many will have been indoctrinated enough so that when Sixy strangles Peri it'll be treated with the correct level of revulsion?  Or will they, like much of the contemporary tv audience become bored by then and moved on to something else with just a hardcore couple of thousand still tuning in? Oh sorry, Ian's just encountered a slither which has led to this comment: "Brain it with a rock like the Doc did the cavemen, Ian!"  Lest we forget that Hartnell's Doctor was a dodgy old soul at the beginning.

The nature of fandom has regenerated.  The recent idiotic criticism of the changes in Doctor Who Magazine to skew their coverage towards the new crop of fans with cosplay tips and a younger Time Team ignores the fact that this is a family show and more than that, if it spends its time trying to cater for older fans rather than embracing inclusivity, it'll kill the thing stone dead, just as it did in the mid-80s.  We might not quite understand what's happening in that chat box, what the thing is with the avatar faces or the capital Fs or why London 1965 has become such a popular thing to repeat but that's ok.  We have the eyepatch joke, the toilet in Tooting Beck, the lightbulb, "No, no, not the mind probe" and whatever the illustrators were snorting during the production of the 1977 annual.

Of course, a dozen thousand people watching a live stream won't necessarily have a huge cultural impact but it will surely make memories.  Instead of "Do you remember sitting around in that tent at Longleat watching a tenth generation copy of The Horns of Nimon", it'll be, "Remember when Twitch streamed all those Doctor Who stories for free"?  The fact that these fifty year old shows are attracting an audience is nothing short of miraculous and apart from anything else, it's giving these young viewers an education in the history of television.  Perhaps some of them will move on to finding out how the episodes were made and which will spur them to go into working in television themselves.  What Twitch is doing right now is a precious gift and we should all be grateful.