Not Christmas Links #13


"Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been terminated after 13 years, a California court has determined." 

"They’re not all musicals in the conventional sense, but all enrich the cinematic experience of song and dance." 

"The Beatles' suits, Bill Shankly's overcoat and an outfit worn by Killing Eve's Jodie Comer are to go on show at the reopening of a gallery celebrating Liverpool's cultural impact."

"The colossal mirrored bowl of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen costs a fortune to clean and has upset a neighbouring hospital. So how are locals finding it?"

"As mandates spread, anti-vaccine groups have been trafficking in pseudoscience treatments meant to remove or counteract the vaccines. Experts say it's like trying to "unring a bell.""

Not Christmas Links #12.

Who were the Nasca?
"Thriving in one of the most arid regions in the world, the Nasca lived on the southern coast of modern-day Peru for around 850 years until AD 650. Peru exhibition curator Cecilia Pardo-Grau introduces their culture, including the colourful pottery, textiles and stunning Nasca Lines they’re known for."

"Estelle Atkinson and Rosa Chalfen report."

"Paul Thomas Anderson, chronicler of the dark heart of America in films like “There Will Be Blood” and parties that stretch to near dawn in “Boogie Nights,” is a morning person."

"The story of Ewan Forbes shows how trans people were able to enjoy equality – until it was quietly removed to protect male rights of succession."

"This new version of Taylor Swift’s greatest album is 30 tracks–the original 16-song ‘Red’ tricked out with B-sides and vault outtakes, all redone with more boom and detail in the production."

Not Christmas Links #11

"A previously unheard song featuring two of The Beatles at the height of their fame has been given its world premiere after being rediscovered in a loft."

"After a two-year revamp, this extraordinary collection is back – in a brighter, roomier, friendlier space. The Old Masters have never looked so magnificent."

"On ‘on background’"

"Ruth Negga shines in Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of the Nella Larsen novel."

Not Christmas Links #10

Thoughts on…Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks (1967 and 2021):
"I made a conscious decision about three decades ago to try and not find out much about the missing Doctor Who stories on the grounds that it would be great if they turned up and I could watch them as new."

"Soon after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, senior leaders of the National Rifle Association huddled on a conference call to consider canceling their annual convention, scheduled just days later and a few miles away."

[Editor's note: this Spotify playlist is completely mislabelled.  The subheading says, "Embrace your secret favorites" even though it includes such things as Dancing Queen, I Will Survive and Mr. Blue Sky.  It's the track listing for most Bauer Radio stations.]

"The Wellington-based studio built characters and scenes for films including Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Wonder Woman and Planet of the Apes."

"An original Apple computer built by firm co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976 has fetched $400,000 (£294,990) at auction in the US."

Not Christmas Links #9

The BBC and The Times are accused of stoking a 'moral panic' against the trans community:
"Freddy McConnell and India Willoughby spoke to Insider about their experience of transphobia in the UK press."

"This research project brings together data that helps us to understand and acknowledge the role that slavery has had in the history of the National Gallery."

"When it was built in 1972, it was the capital’s only example of the metabolism architectural movement – but time has caught up with the structure."

"Former Quantum Leap star Dean Stockwell, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor whose career on stage, in film and TV spanned more than 70 years, passed away in the early morning of November 7."

Not Christmas Links #8

"Steve Goldman’s first rule is ‘it has to make me laugh’, and he is sharing the fun with public in Huddersfield."

"Normally a one-stop journey lies within one zone so costs a minimum amount. Certain boundary stations are officially in two zones so it doesn't matter which direction you go, it's still a one-zone journey. But where adjacent stations lie either side of a zone boundary your one-stop trip has to pass through both so will cost more."

"13 Fan-Favorite Marvel movies will be available to watch at home in IMAX’s Expanded Aspect Ratio for the first time ever on Disney+ Day."

"Cigarette packs and film boxes from the 1930 and 40s have been found alongside old coins and 'reserved' signs at Leeds' Hyde Park Picture House."

"Director Chloé Zhao talks about entering the cosmic side of the MCU and breaks down how the Eternals post-credit scene came together."

War of the Sontarans.

TV Goddammit, that was ruddy delightful. In this concluding episodes, Chibbers finally seems to know what to do with his era of Doctor Who and has turned out another propulsive, rich episode chock full of spectacle, rich characterisation and honestly just fun.  If only in the past couple of seasons he'd been able to tap into the impressive writing ability on show here rather than the RTD-lite approach which blighted so much of the past couple of seasons (I refer you to the inevitable for reasons if you have a spare five and a quarter hours).  Honestly, this is great.

This is also long.  Until recently, an hour long episode was considered special and even called a special, but here we are on episode two of Doctor Who's Flux, after a fifty minute opener and a whole hour to play about with, the BBC One schedulers taking it in their stride.  Perhaps there's a shorter "international" edit of the kind which used to be prepared for the likes of Spooks and the Upstairs Downstairs revival (some of which are still bouncing around on Netflix) but I'm not sure what you could possibly cut out.

After the initial cliffhanger resolution, the story bifurcates into three different eras and we're back to the classic model of splitting the Doctor and her companions so they can cover more story ground.  The Chibnall era has tended to keep the fam together in a given situation which has led to some scenes feeling crowded with the companions barely getting a word in, and nothing much character defining.  Not so here.  Both the Doctor and Yaz benefit from their dislocation from each other, are much more clearly defined.

The promised Crimean war scenes are suitably spectacular, with a top down viewpoint of  rival arms clashing into each other in a way which makes you wish the BBC would license someone to produce a real-time strategy game which allows you to pit various Who races against one another and historical armies (hopefully with less one sided outcomes than here).  One professional reviewer labels this conflict "anaemic" (despite acknowledging the timeslot).  Exceptthe point of the thing is to show the result, hundreds of pointless deaths, not some YA Battle of the Bastards.

This isn't the Doctor's first encounter with Mary Seacole.  Perhaps as a result of time being out of joint, neither of them remember the events of the Twelfth Doctor's visit to the British Hotel as described in Big Finish's The Charge of the Night Brigade by David Llewellyn.  Interestingly, that was released in February last year, eight months before shooting began on this season.  Did that inspire this?  Great minds?  Or did whoever's covering branding now not let Big Finish know about all her appearance here?  I'm always fascinated as to how these things work.

If the Chibnall era has been excellent at something, it's in its representation of female scientists and Seacole is another example. Played by Sara Powell, Big Finish veteran (but isn't every actor these days?), she takes everything which should be beyond her understanding in her stride, even when led onto her first alien spacecraft albeit having already accepted the existence of aliens, then having already conquered half of the planet.  For all the substitution of a sick Sontaran, the script is able to illustrate her obligation to preserve all life.

Which contrasts with the Liverpool scenes, were many, many Sontarans meet a warrior's death.  Any of my reservations about John Bishop have melted away.  he's great.  These regular returns to my locality are just hilarious, and particularly this evening as we see Liverpool city centre (Liverpool city centre!) infested with tater technology, Sontaran banners unfurling on the Liver Buildings.  The explanation for how Dan's father learnt how to dismantle the alien thanks to a discovery by a pissed-up gentleman from Birkenhead gave me a good solid belly laugh.

Managing these tonal shifts is at the core of Doctor Who's DNA.  One minute were watching the massacre of an army due to their leader's misguided patriotism, on the other a bewildered Liverpudlian attempting to destroy an entire Sontaran invasion fleet with a wok (because a frying pan would be less funny somehow?) aided by a humanoid terrier with loyalty issues.  Remember when we all laughed at the photo of the Karvanista?  He's become one of the franchises best characters in a long time.

Meanwhile Yaz meets a few of the characters we were introduced to last week in a heretofore unknown place which seems to act as a kind of surge protector for the time stream.  Why did she end up there and not Sheffield?  This is something which otherwise seemed to be the job of the Matrix on Gallifrey, but with that decimated by the Master, perhaps this popped into existence to act as an alternative.  The Doctor's never 'eard of it and I'm hoping a clearly explanation of what it is will be forthcoming next week.  

The idea of the lone companion using the Doctor's example when they themselves are in danger resonates with me, especially now.  When Mum died, and many of you will have sadly had a similar experience with this, there was a lot of administration to take care of, from the funeral to the organising the death certificate to wills to cancelling her various accounts and cards and throughout, after watching her deal with such things for decades, I always asked, "What would Mum do?" and took strength from that.  Honestly she was amazing, right up until her final moments.

Mum also told me not to dwell, so I won't.  But when the Fraction Pillarbox belittled Yaz for taking a similar strength from her friend, it cut me to the core.  Up until now, this era's mostly been to me about surface elements and deconstruction, but now it's actually making me feel in a way it hasn't before, despite the tragedy on show.  Perhaps if, god forbid, I'd gone through this experience sooner, Grace's death would have affected me more, but there's something more insidious about watching the pre-meditated psychological damage on Yaz.  Bullying essentially.

Another strong cliff hanger this week albeit of the transmogrification variety, a "Donna Noble has been Saved" or Peri's bald now and English.    We still don't really know what the Flux really is or what Swarm and Azure want exactly, although they both also have the names of cloud computing services (here and here) so perhaps they're simply looking for somewhere secure to store a back-up of their corporate data given the end of the universe and wotnot.

Just another four episodes left.  Can Chibbers sustain things through to the 5th December?  The fact that I'm interested enough to review these episodes suggests there's more to chew on than before but does he have a proper ending?   In the week, I tweeted that this might end up looking like a group of scripts originally prepared for a longer season but with what amounted to TARDISodes tenuously threaded through them but this second chapter suggest Flux is going to be far more intricate than that.  Phew.

Not Christmas Links #7

Bothy culture: a tour of the Highlands’ sustainable sanctuaries:
"Scotland’s newly reopened mountain bothies are shining examples of sustainable tourism. Our photographer takes us on a guided tour."

"What happens when a real-life global disaster strikes while you’re making a post-apocalyptic film?"

"Tickets have gone on sale for the brand new music festival which will see acts like Years & Years, Becky Hill and Joesef take to the stage – so just Push The Button."

"A subtle sylvan celebration of how our hurts and our healings shape the singular beauty of our character."

"Men tended to report more than women, and overwhelmingly so at the wire outlets. The exceptions to this trend were, HuffPost, and Vox."