Monday, February 27, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck: review

I've been both a bit poorly, and tired, and busy making CDs for people (not mutually exclusive factors): this combined with NTHell's lack of internet yesterday till around 5pm has meant I'm only just now getting around to giving you some feedback on the film we saw on Friday night: Good Night, and Good Luck.

Apart from always feeling a slight grumble at seeing the logo of Warner Independent Pictures (Cloud remarked "independent of what?"), it was a real pleasure to see this thoughtful and beautiful film. Despite viewing it at the local city centre multiscreen cinema - home to copious stinky popcorn and yaddering folk with their mobiles left on - the screening was well populated by an audience that clearly wanted to take in the film. Dialogue could be heard at all times, everyone seemed attentive, and there was a nice sense of collective exhalation of pleasure at the end: satisfaction.

David Strathairn - ah, how we love his name - as pretty much every review has acknowledged, blows the screen away with his subtle inhabitation of the Murrow character. A raised eyebrow, a sigh, a glance of desperation: all are handled with the confidence born of an actor used to conveying three-dimensional characters, led by a director with vision. Strathairn, a long-time collaborator with John Sayles, here suggests that George Clooney has great potential behind the screen, judging by how well Clooney brings this project together (as if his debut didn't already suggest possibility: I was rather fond of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and not just for Sam Rockwell, whom I have mentioned before). Anyway, let's just say that the acting is top-notch.

Yes, you could say that especially at the end, the message was rather troweled on for the audience regarding the media. But I rather like messages being re-affirmed. Perhaps most of the audience enticed to see Good Night and Good Luck already knows the story of the period, but when told as well as this - and with such utterly stunning black and white cinematography - you have to cry out "say it again". Worth seeing: in any other year Strathairn would rightly walk away with gongs galore. Sadly, this year against the competition in his field, he may have to settle for a few more minor awards. He may not be an unknown, but he's surely under-rated. A lovely performance in a very worthwhile film.

Busy, yet prolific, and still grammatically interesting

Norm manages to do three things in one post.

Cloudy does the Z thing

As if he doesn't already have enough words in his head, he's now acquiring more words to use in everyday conversation...

Rabbits or lego?

Which do you think is most freaky?

Rabbits (latest tip: Rosby)

Lego "Brokeback Mountain": (Virtual Stoa via Cloud's recommendation)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Poor Daniel Craig

It seems almost a daily occurance that Rob Buckley brings us another tale of disaster from the Casino Royale set: latest one is Craig can't drive a manual car (only an automatic), so production of the Bond latest gets halted whilst he learns. I say: they didn't bother to ask?


BTW Rob's stories mostly seem to come via Digital Spy, so for those wanting daily laughs for Pierce Brosnan getting out while he can, drop by there.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Our first steps into a new age: digital camera is us

Gulp. Very scary. But also exciting. Try these: you may like them.

First up: me, with a backdrop of assorted books and CDs

This next one shows off a fetching 1905 fireplace with tiling.

And finally - though I now realised I should have edited the wires out of the picture, is a photograph of one of the most favourite things I own (if I was just on about a "favourite person" that would have to be Cloud, of course ... but in his absence...)

So, we enter the digital age: be afraid, be very afraid (that's a message to ourselves as much as anything else...)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Marie ends my week with a big giggle

I'm off to see GN&GL tonight. But this is a gem...
If I should die before I wake, I leave all my wordly goods to a research institute for the common cold, and my body to DT - for which no doubt he will be very grateful. (Doorbell rings. "Hello, Mr Tennant? We have a parcel for you down here. Too large to fit through the letterbox. Please come and sign for it." "What is it?" "It's a corpse. Pretty girl. Blocked nose." "Woo-hoo!")

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How Jane had her day made, drew in Duff comments and sparked discussion on morality and God

Wow: all that from one remark about how she was asked to be godmother to a child.

Oh yes: whilst I think about how Jane got duffered it occurred to me that in previous posts and comments I have referred to said Duff as Duffman. As Cloud rightly pointed out to me, this may have placed me in an awkward legal position with the legitimate holder of the Duffman title for slanderous association and maligning of his character. I hereby apologise profusely to the rightful heir of the Duffman name and will henceforth find a new moniker for our habitual commentator.

Get some Buffy Studies into your life

You know what, I just love reading this stuff: it's like the best combination of intellectual activity and fun I can imagine.

Reminds me of these exchanges from the maligned, but also glorious, Season 4 of Buffy*

BUFFY: [sighing] Anything?
WILLOW: Ah! 'Introduction to the Modern Novel.' "A survey study of twentieth century novelists." Open to freshmen, you might like that.
BUFFY: 'Introduction to the Modern Novel?' I'm guessing I'd probably have to read the modern novel.
WILLOW: Maybe more than one.
BUFFY: I like books. I just don't want to take on too much. Do they have an introduction to the modern blurb?


WILLOW: ... Wait! 'Images of Pop Culture.' This is good. T-They watch movies, T-TV shows, even commercials.
BUFFY: For credit?
WILLOW: Heh. Isn't college cool?

* I say maligned and glorious since the accepted wisdom is that whilst the season itself had many disappointment (the whole Initiative/Adam arc?) and some far from brilliant epsiodes (Beer Bad? Where the Wild Things are? - neither appalling but much worse than they should be and well below the usual quality control level of Buffy), Season 4 also had some of the very best stand alone episodes. Not least of all, Hush and Restless.

Rob's Muick pics

For those wanting more of the Scottish landscape, check out Rob's recent post on his latest walk near Ballater.

Working life is just a load of Dilberts

Rob has the most hilarious - and yet simultaneously saddening - post on a recent competition for Dilbertisms from the workplace.

Ah, the joys of the workplace. Bosses who ask if you'll be taking the whole day off to go to the funeral of one of your closest and limited number of relations. Bosses who berate you for asking about something where the answer revealed that the matter was more personal than business-related ("what? I was supposed to know this in advance so I didn't ask the question?") Bosses who complain that you didn't bother to turn up to a meeting that they never put into your diary and didn't clarify with you was going to take place.

My latest one is that the office next door to me is having the Estates Office come in to convert the space into two smaller offices. This is BUILDING work: drilling, hammering, bringing in materials. The office next to me (like mine) is off a small vestibule space - with a fire door - and both rooms are already difficult to access. I run individual appointments of a confidential nature, often with students in distress. A quiet space is important. How do I know about this building work? Because I overheard the estates staff discussing what they could/could not do to split the office into two rooms. Has ANYONE officially mentioned this to me - even out of courtesy for the possible disruption this will cause? No... don't be so bloody stupid. It's already a couple of weeks since I first saw/ heard the builders when passing through to my office: I thought I would give the staff involved in this project at least some time to mention it to me as I wasn't sure how definite the project was. But it turns out that is a very definite project, according to one of the administrative staff who works on reception: the project is already some months into the process of planning and agreement, yet still I remain a mushroom.* To say I'm not best chuffed would be an understatement. Petty I know, but I think at least a mention would have been nice (BTW I know that the staff involved probably don't know that I even have an inkling about it since when I overheard things only the builders saw me passing... oh yeah, and a truly dippy member of staff on the team concerned who probably scarcely realised that she had made eye-contact with me. Grumble, grumble.)

*stuck in the dark with shit shovelled onto me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You can download Laura Cantrell singing with Ballboy "I lost you (But I Found Country Music)"

Strolling the net, I found that Laura Cantrell's own site let's you download this for your listening pleasure: it's her wonderful duet with Gordon McIntire of the Scottish band Ballboy singing the Ballboy track "I Lost You (But I Found Country Music).

A brilliant song made even more glorious by the lovely Ms Cantrell.

That forthcoming production of "His Dark Materials" outside London

Anna's involved so I think we should promote this as widely as we can!


Ever felt that you only opened your mouth to change feet?

Think how Jane's line manager felt...

Paul Lewis

Hmmm... much debate in the Guardian of late (scroll here and here) about the numbers of people called Paul Lewis in the world/UK.

Funny because I actually know the best Paul Lewis there can be: my former tutor from Wolverhampton University, who supported me with great affection and encouragement throughout my studies - not just at Wolverhampton but beyond as well. For the ability to boost any ego, entertain and enlighten, and make the best fairy cards in the country, I proclaim that my Paul Lewis is by far the best there could be.

Houses can be fabulous, a work in progress, and a future dream

One thing I have neglected to publicly mention following the Manchester Blogmeet was just how stunning and beautiful Clare's house was**: this is thrown into sharp relief by chez Rullsenberg and Cloud which, at best, could be called a future dream or a (potential) work in progress. I say potential because we are so inept at getting things done and organised that at this rate we will have paid off the mortgage before the damn work is finished on it.

We need to (in no particular order - though we are aware that you install a new bathroom upstairs before demolishing the old one downstairs to extend the kitchen
  • chimney stacks and repairs gaps in walls / install airbricks

  • bathroom upstairs should come before tearing out the old one)

  • replaster the house, and add/improve damp-proof

  • scrub up the old tiled hallway floor (still some traces of sticky tape from the scarilege of the old owners having a carpet down...

  • install a bathroom upstairs (currently it is directly off the kitchen downstairs)

  • fix the door of the upstairs toilet

  • replace the large radiator in the back bedroom with a smaller one...
    ... because when the new bathroom goes in it will otherwise be partly in two rooms (and therefore once the bathroom-room is built into part of the back bedroom space we will also need a new radiator installing so BOTH rooms have heat)

  • repair roof gaps to prevent birds entering

  • fix loft to become another bedroom space or at least suitable storage space(currently unused and when the bathroom goes into part of the currently huge old back bedroom we will lose a lot of space)

  • once bathroom upstairs, knock the kitchen through the old bathroom to create an extended kitchen - with new windows, roof, door, eating space, laundry space

  • new kitchen installed: current one was fitted onto the old original shelves of the house

  • raise the floor level in the pantry to reduce damp problems

  • decorate

I could think of many other more minor tasks, but this should give you some sense of the scale of task ahead of us to get anywhere close to the beauty that Clare's house now has.

One day...

** the link was a bit fuddled as at 1.30pm 22/2/06...

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Trawling the archive: a shout-out to Dave from Ohio and DC in Poland

    I've just had a really great anonymous message left on an ancient blog post of mine (from Feb 9th last year).
    Pretty amazing I stumbled upon your blog, because I was Googling for precisely that song because it's been haunting me for about a decade now. Someone put that song on a comp that I borrowed, then failed to return, then lost track of the person (I fully intended to return it; but I think they had all the stuff that was on the tape, so I don't feel too bad). The comp tape had no track listings whatsoever, so I only could recognize the old Sebadoh stuff, but THIS song has really stuck with me - now I can finally track it down - THANKS!!!

    -Dave (from Ohio & DC), in Poland
    Now THAT'S the sort of thing that makes doing this worthwhile! Dave, if you're out there, I am thrilled to have been of service!

    Although.... dammit, it's just reminded me that this track ISN'T (yet) on the next compilation I am putting together. Must rectify that!

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Picture Post 3: George's view from Sgor Gaoith to Gleann Einich

    Has Scotland had a bit of snow in the last few months perhaps?

    I love getting these pictures because it gives me such a thrill to know that someone I know has actually been there taking these images!

    Picture Post 2: George's descent from Carn Ban Mor

    Though it's definitely less clear coming down (that snow looks pretty deep!)

    Picture Post: George's ascent of Carn Ban Mor

    Doesn't it just make you long to be there?

    On compilations

    Those of you spotting Clare's remark below may wonder what she's on about: it's actually in reference to the compilation I put together in about 20 mins just as Cloud and I were about to leave the house for the Manchester Blogmeet. The track raved about is Regina Spektor's glorious "Us" and it is indeed contagious!

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Mark Kermode reduces me to aching hysterics

    I really must learn to prepare myself more when I listen to Mark Kermode's film reviews (I've now subscribed to it as a podcast which seems a lot easier than remembering to go to FiveLive and less trouble to download (is this a subtle ploy to up their podcast rating?)

    Anyway, I've just about recovered from Kermode complaining about a lack of awareness of gay/queer theory for defining cheesecake:

    I can't even type this without laughing.

    Sidebar addition: Paul Fuzz on Beatles-related stuff

    Paul Fuzz, despite endangering himself by criticising Pulp in an earlier comment, has nevertheless set up a very interesting blog himself after months of entertaining and often lengthy comments at places such as the lovely Anna's blog.

    Anyway, I just had to link to this gem about an anti-Beatles text from 1965. In a pamphlet entitled 'Communism, Hypnotism And The Beatles', the Reverend David A. Noebel apparently tried to make a case for the Beatles being part of a mass communist conspiracy. Rightly, Fuzz ends his post thus:
    "I give the right-on Rev Noebel a fruit & nut bar rating of: 8
    Welcome to the blogroll Paul.

    Know Your Deaths: the JustJane Quiz

    Jane's doing the Village Quiz again, so this time its 16 deaths from 2005 to identify. This reminds me that at the New Year party we attended at our neighbours we had a similar quiz, having to identify photographs of dead people and their age. I bet I still get most of these wrong.

    Hmmm... I was one year wrong on Q.1, and missed off Q4, 10 and 16.

    Otherwise okay... obviously remembered more than I thought from New Year!


    I'm a real nut for cute animal pics, so I was grinning happily at the TV coverage last night of the Panda nursery. So much so that I searched for some cute pics and found some here.

    Marie spots the minor flaw in Rosby's genius plot to garner comments

    Marie is clearly so much smarter than me. So bowled over was I by the hilarious imaginings of la Rosby that I completely missed the key point. It took Marie to point out the obvious flaw:
    In order to get me to comment, you threaten me with the suggestion that if I *don't*, you will steal David Tennant and get him to smile at me. And this is supposed to make me comment?

    Clearly even mention of the smile is enough to cause delirium and idiocy in me...

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    How embarrassing...

    Ah, don't you just want to know how useful education can be...?

    Over at Cloud's place, you can read about our latest misfortune in practical tips for living.

    It may also be worth adding that at one stage we almost had to return a glue stick to WHSmith's as we were incapable of working out how to get the glue out of it. I seem to recall we ended up cutting into the spongy surface from which one is meant to squeeze the glue before we sussed out how to do it. Sadly, this was not before we had telephoned WHSmith's for advice...

    Still blushing...

    We salute the genius imagination of Rosby

    Seriously, I was giggling hysterically at the computer on reading this.

    Maybe you have to be one of the participating characters to really get it - ahem, I am honoured to be there - but man, this gal can make me laugh so loudly!

    There's a job in scriptwriting with RTD ahead for this one.

    Oh yeah, and this is a warning to make sure we regularly comment over at her place and it certainly works!

    TV theme: House

    Theme in two senses: this is the second post on TV today, and I also wanted to comment on the theme music for House, Hugh Laurie's excellent show being broadcast on Five in the UK.

    I'm already a bit grumbly because House series two - no longer House, M.D. - has stuck with a change of theme music rather similar to the change that temporarily cursed Law & Order: Criminal Intent back in its second season. But it seems there is more to this than meets the ear. According to the Wiki entry on the programme, the theme music in the US is actually the lovely Massive Attack tune "Teardrop":
    The opening theme is "Teardrop" by Massive Attack, although due to rights and licensing issues this music is not used for the show in Australia, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand and Latin America which instead use a piece of music named "House", written specifically for the show. "Teardrop" itself does have lyrics, however for the opening credits only the beginning section of the song is used, which contains no lyrics.
    Well, I HAD spotted its similarity in the first season music, so maybe for THIS season, the UK music has to be more obviously different from the original Massive Attack song. I understand that rights and ownership issues can vary a lot, but I'm interested in why it changed more dramatically in this second season. Did we get the first season's US music snippets (actually from "Teardrop") and it's had to be altered?

    Gentle comedy

    You know what, I rather like the good-hearted nature of My Name is Earl. I know I've mentioned before how I enjoyed it, but it is so sweet-natured at heart that I really just wanted to say it again.

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    C&V's got a problem with James Blunt

    The damn song may be catchy, and it may have unlimited potential for taking the piss, but sadly it's also hard to get out of your head and C&V is finding himself caught between liking and not liking and being embarrassed.
    I don't like it, in fact. So I can't be ashamed of liking it. But at the same time, if I did like I wouldn't be ashamed of liking it. So I am not ashamed about not not liking it and nor am I ashamed about not liking liking it. Or something.

    I might just start telling people I do like it. In fact, perhaps I have liked it all along and have been internalising my shame by means of turning it into a comedy high pitched version which makes me sing the proper version which when other people hear it makes them ask me about it so I have to talk about James Blunt even though I didn't think I wanted to but secretly did.

    Am I in love with James Blunt?
    Ah, bless: the torture that is James Blunt takes another victim!

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Joe's "bit of a song"

    JoeinVegas raised a really great point, that sometimes we not only like songs but like specific bits of songs.

    Hmm... Well, I'm a sucker for any laughter on tracks (generally unintentional), so I would heartily agree with the Janis Joplin chuckle. I would also proffer the more bittersweet laugh in "Fighting Talk" by Everything But The Girl; and a track from the third Lloyd Cole album, Mainstream (I think "Sean Penn Blues") that also features a chuckle inbetween the verses.

    For other classic bits you have to have that wonderful feedback sound at the start of "I Feel Fine" by The Beatles. And I know I keep harping on, but the final harmony at the end of the Beeb version of "To Know Her is To Love Her" by The Beatles always melts my heart.

    I also have a profound love for the live version of "Common People" by Pulp that was recorded at Glastonbury '95 (on the Mishapes version of the Mishapes/Sorted for E's and Whizz single): not least because of the way Jarvis exhorts the band to "take it down" - first saying it quietly, and then, when they clearly haven't obeyed, he makes it a real instruction. Oooh, makes me go all dithery!

    What else? Anything where strings sweep in, especially in pop. That definitely means the entry of the cello to Michael Andrews' version of "Mad World" from the Donnie Darko soundtrack. Gratuitous use of strings? I'm there for it.

    Crescendos also get me in the zone of joy: there's a crackingly prog-rock bit in Orbital's "The Box" (1996 single - I think it's the third section) where it goes very quiet and tinkly - hey, check out my musicological language! - and then very loud, almost like a church organ crashing in. Oh, and talking of organs and crescendos, GodSpeedYouBlackEmperor are the Gods of crescendo.

    Better get off. I may try and link these but Cloud calls me for my tea!

    The final word and pictures on the Manchester Blogmeet

    EineKleineRob finally persuades Blogger to give up the fight against his images and text and let him post a glorious review of the Manchester Blogmeet.

    For fans of the stripes, there is a lot to see!

    For those not, just revel in Rob's witty writing and complimentary comments!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Buy this book! Clare Sudbery's "The Dying of Delight"

    Buy it! Buy it! Buy it from Clare! Buy it from wherever you can!

    Sadly it seems that Diva are going out of business. What a shame.

    But you can still buy copies of this wonderful, surreal, witty, heart-breaking narrative of growing up, sexual identity, family life and sanity.

    Go on, contact Clare and get your copy.

    What I am currently listening to

    Tonight whilst working - yes, WORKING - I am mostly listening to the free disk from Mojo with covers of Ray Davies/The Kinks: fine wordsmithery and tracks reinterpreted.

    I've also been listening to the new Word magazine compilation, which is also full of covers: there's a laid-back version of the classic Buckley Snr track "Song to the Siren", so beautifully recorded by This Mortal Coil; there's also a rather nice version of the Travelling Wilburys song "Handle with Care" that opened their first album (the original of which I loved for how it drew out George Harrison's Liverpool accent on "care" by instead singing "cur").

    Post Valentine treat

    You know you want to watch this doncha?

    Ah go on...

    (Hat Tip to the genies at this site)

    24 is Flash Gordon


    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Concern for Clooney

    Marie is worried...

    Abby's Bonkworld: The Amazing Dostoevsky Machine

    Like Chern Jie, I was intrigued by the non-blogging status of Abby who was at the Manchester blogmeet. Mostly because it seemed she actually WAS foing something in the internet world that was a lot more proactive/interactive than your average website.

    This gem comes from Bonkworld and totally transforms Russian novel syndrome (aka keeping track of all the names!).

    Cloud beat me to the Smiths quote

    After posting last night on the (possible) demise of this cemetary, I thought all night about adding a comment or link to it citing from Cemetary Gates...

    ... only to find Cloud added it himself!


    Good post though.

    Since Cloud mentions our trip to Montparnasse, I cannot help but add a note about my favourite grave there: Man Ray. There is a bit here about him and there is a lovely photograph of the grave that so captivated me. Great shot by Chad D. Schrankler.

    I just loved the epitaph: "Unconcerned but not indifferent".

    Me and Dipsy Sudbery

    That's a reference to the lovely lovely Dipsy dog Sudbery pictured with me over at EineKleineRob. Now Rob is currently experiencing technical difficulties with uploading his pictures from the complete blogmeet, but the two shots he has of Dipsy (including one with me) are just really sweet.

    Okay, so she may have tried to beg our sarnies off us with the sighing-head-on-lap technique but she was so affectionate it was hard not to be taken in. She was obviously the perfect dog, 'cos even our cat didn't complain about her when I got home (usually the cat takes umbrage at the mere whiff of another creature on my person).

    What exactly IS a blogmeet? More questions than answers

    Not just because Rosby reasonably asked the question, but also because the idea of what a blogmeet is or should be was raised both on Saturday and since in comments on this blog and via emails to me.

    So, first things first:

    What is a Blogmeet?
    a gathering together of bloggers; you know, MEETING some place or other in the flesh, face-to-face as opposed to behind their blogger identity masks (NB this can be subverted if you have [a] never posted a picture of yourself [b] not used your 'real' name and / or [c] want to confuse people by claiming to be someone else. I can say that all three can be used to success should you so desire...)

    What should a blogmeet be (about?)?
    more difficult... should it be informal and chatty, conversational and potentially disparate? The Manchester blogmeet took place in an open bar and a public space, which meant collecting people within earshot of each other was quite a challenge and inevitably everyone split off into smaller groups and moved around to talk to others as they felt appropriate. Would a space with a central table have been better, to get everyone around it talking to everyone? Would an agenda help? Should there be tasks? Or opportunities to try new things (technology demonstrations?) Or questions to debate?

    What should happen at a blogmeet?
    related to the above question. Some commentators were outraged that there was so much tea-drinking at the Manchester blogmeet (the implication being there should be more alcohol). Manchester was gloriously informal - a chance to meet and chat, not necessarily about blogging, and to find out more about the people behind the blognames. Some have indicated they wanted to have more structure to any such meeting: some goals or objectives, or just even some questions to discuss (see above).

    Ultimately, it should be up to the bloggers themselves to decide on what form and content a blogmeet should have. Perhaps, we need different types of blogmeets for different purposes? There is a place for the social meeting - quite like Manchester, though that isn't to say that issues were not discussed, it was just not formally part of the proceedings. Perhaps there also needs to be a place for more structured meetings, with topics, issues or specific debates in mind.

    You decide.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Spinneyhead's massive Manchester blogmeet pic

    Here, for all your delectation...

    Forthcoming London blogmeet - Friday 17th Feb

    Organised by Bloggers4Labour.

    Go check it out! If it anything like as nice as the Manchester one was this weekend it will be great!

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Snow in Brooklyn!

    Sorry, am on a roll now... Brooklyn in the snow

    Snow in Times Square Feb 12 2006

    Cloud just called up stairs while cooking me some tea and said "search for pictures of New York". Turns out that it's snowing according to the webcam. So above is a snap from that to show that yes, it is snowing in Times Square!

    That Blogmeet in Manchester

    ... was such a success that I'm considering organising one for the autumn in Nottingham...

    So book some time in September in your calendars and start arguing for your preferred dates of choice.

    Anyway, it was TRULY wonderful. I didn't even get chance to talk to many people, but a jolly good natter was had by all. Cloud took a list of those present which you can find over at his place.

    For a fabulous review and great pics the best place to visit would be Chern Jie's "Break of Information Overload". For those who like my stripes, you'll get an overload of those there as well!

    I guess one of the biggest thank you's has to go to Clare, who was not only a wonderful hostess, but went to all the trouble of investigating places for chatting and cake and of course the amazing Efe's Restaurant (Cloud and I had been there many times years ago and the food was just as brill and inexpensive). Getting to meet her and Ally and Felix (and Dipsy) was like a crowning glow to the weekend.

    Course, we got home utterly knackered - 2am chatting with great music has that effect even without the whisky! - and fit only to eat a second breakfast/brunch and collapse to watch Spartacus. Hence the delay on posting.

    But it was great and we had a fab time. And we got to meet Norm!

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    On ageing and the female body

    Wonderful post over at Shakespeare's Sister from the pen of litbrit.

    Can't say more than that: its beautifully eloquent and heartfelt.

    Darren is back

    He's apologising, he's linking, he and Reidski are still niggling each other, and...

    ...guess what? It's nice to have Darren back.

    Need to repair links and amend sidebar

    All manner of stuff coming to light if I look too deeply at my sidebars so before someone says "your links are broken", I am onto it but I need to update these at home rather than after hours in the office (blogger seems to crash more at uni).

    If its this much work to keep up a small blog, how those of you with longer blogrolls manage it is beyond me. Kudos!

    I feel like a Leeds postcard

    It could be this one...

    Or it could be this one...

    But I definitely feel like this one...

    Christine Hankinson and co hit the mark...

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Cartoons versus Animation: Comics versus Graphic Novels

    Is there a difference? Skuds thinks so, and I'm inclined to agree with him on that (though not on the issue of anything possibly being more irritating than Jimmy-ass-wipe-misogynistic-racist-not-at-all-ironic-I-want-him-off-my-TV-screen-forever-Carr).

    Still, having vented that, it also got me thinking about the 'divide' or competing definitions for comics/graphic novels. As a fan of such materials, I get frustrated by both the ongoing sniffiness about "comics" not being worthwhile literate/visual products in their own right, and the pretentious categorisation some use to separate "graphic novels" as higher literary/art forms than comics. For anyone who has read such works as Gaiman's Sandman and his other works, Preacher, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, anything by Daniel Clowes, Jason Lute's Berlin, Persepholis, Cerebus, Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Bitchy Bitch, Art Spiegelman's Maus, all the classic DC and Marvel superhero material, Akira, Moore's From Hell... I'm getting breathless and I can't even begin to link to all of these... Anyway, what I'm saying is, "how the hell can you separate these categories": surely good stuff is good stuff?

    If only Freeview worked for me...

    More 4
    now Film Four...

    I know it sounds mad but would having a better rooftop arial help? (or am I on about the washing powder...?)

    Pulp discography

    I actually know people who own large numbers of these items. I own a few. I haven't been to a record fair in years (having gotten fed up with poor counterfeit goods). Promos, foreign versions, even live goodies: yes, yes, and yes. But counterfeit just makes me go cranky.

    Doctor Who Script Book

    I'm now at the point where the next episode to read in my new big book is the double episode "The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances"...

    Can I admit I am actually quite scared of reading the damn things...!

    Cloud, if you add a comment saying "mummy" I will do damage...

    That goes for the rest of you...

    I'm shuddering even now.

    I hate these adverts

    Peugot, Jaguar, Gilette... yep, these and many more are PANTS and OFFENSIVE.

    ...and yes I am shouting.

    They're not ironic; nor can they appeal solely for their lush photography.


    Don't ya know Time-Travel is all the rage...

    This news dated 3 Feb, found via the usual reliable source (5 Feb), is both thrilling and disturbing.

    Thrilling, 'cos, well... you know, I love my Scottish boys and this one had me first (that isn't meant to be... oh heck, what I mean is... I liked him first). Anyway, it is a little thrilling because it's like some weird kind of time-looping overlap between him and the current DW. And I love to see good people getting work.

    But it is also deeply disturbing because I hate that TV has to jump the bandwagon, mostly because such stuff ends up being second-rate (and lord knows neither deserves that). Part of me just wants to scream "NOOOO!!!!" and plead waiting for something else, better, more deserving to come along.

    Will I watch it if this goes ahead as discussed in the Mirror? 'Course I bloody well will!

    Did I say how excited I am about Saturday?

    I am so excited about going to the blogmeet! I am plotting the clothes to pack and wear, wishing I already owned a digital camera to be able to take shots and see them on the day, and steeling myself for the hairdying (yes, I know I should have done this ages ago but it will at least be more red if I do it closer to the day).


    And stripes... I will be wearing stripes...

    Blog of the day: Anna's place

    Ah, the lovely Anna! Just reaching the 100 post mark having spoken with wit and enthusiasm about so many cultural icons and topics close to my own heart (not least of course a certain sci-fi programme...)

    Here she raises the question of scottish accents. Cannot think why that is a topic that appeals to me: no sirree.

    It can even make me forgive her for watching This Morning. Hmm... if anything gives away that she is a student...

    Forest footballers

    Earlier this week, Cloud was at the Nottingham Forest ground for a meeting (the Council buildings are just across the road from the City Ground). Anyway, he reported that whilst over there a number of the Forest players were arriving - for training he assumed. Apart from one player who drove a BMW (I think), everyone turned up in sponsored Golf cars. And pretty much all of them carried nothing more weighty than a titchy Louis Vuiton toiletries bag (possibly this one?).

    Presumably, any 'golden boots' of Forest are too valuable to be allowed out of the grounds with the footballers.

    Cloud's description of them was simple: "poseurs". Frankly, for a team who is still someway off the pace for making the playoffs to return to the second division, it's just bonkers to be this precious about themselves. And sorry, I'm not buying any of this facile 'Championship' nonsense: they are currently in the third division of English football whatever they want to call it.

    David Lavery moves to Brunel University

    Lavery, for those who do not read Slayage on a regular basis, is currently Professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University. Come September 2006, he will become Chair of Film and TV at Brunel University.

    For some reason, it greatly pleases me to think of one of the chieftains of popular television analysis coming to the UK.


    Me, that is...

    I wanted to apologise for not being around as much as I like to be in the hope it will spark me into being prolific. It may work....

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Sci-Fi Citations

    Browsing the Beeb's website for Balderdash and Piffle, I came across this link which is just fabulous! If you have a geeky desire to explore the origins of sci-fi terminology then this is the site for you. If you can dredge from your reading knowledge antedating information on terms used, then you will be much valued by this site and by extension the Oxford English Dictionary.

    Go on: you always wanted to be an etymologist...

    Patient care

    Marie makes a cracking point.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Blake Ritson in The Romantics

    Before the joyful return of slick nonsense TV (that's CSI:NY, now having fully abandoned its muted pallette of old, plus wonderful L&O:CI with Private Pyle), we caught most of the final episode of The Romantics. Constant interjections of dog-chewing-wasp-faced Peter Ackroyd aside - has he got one of those deals like Alan Yentob that demand he has to be gratuitously in almost every shot? - it was worth watching, albeit very flawed in its telling of the Romantic period.

    It was watchable despite the absence of David Tennant (obviously just the one day off from Doctor Who then), not least because Cloud and I came to the same conclusion about one of the performers: namely, Blake Ritson.

    Ritson played PB Shelley (scroll cast list). Watching him, I felt this strange sensation that his features were rather graphic: that is, rather like looking at a graphic novel piece of art work. I was thinking this idea through, when Cloud interrupted:
    "You know, if ever they were looking for someone to play The Sandman, he'd be right for it"
    My God! He was right. And though it is hard to put my finger on exactly which of the many illustrated incarnations of Gaiman's character Ritson most resembles - this, from the most recent collection, although beyond the canonical 10 volumes, catches something of Ritson's inhabiting of the character - there is definitely something there. Maybe it's the hair, perhaps the straightness of his nose, the angularity of his features as they were photographed for The Romantics: but there is something in his look that reminds me of Dream.

    Somebody cast him...

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Searches are disturbing

    On my Sitemeter I spotted a visitor from Poland. How did they get to me? Searched for cute+man on google. That brings me up as the fourth site on the results list (27,800,00 results!) with this. Fine, but given the top result one kind of imagines that finding my reference was not quite what they wanted...

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Communication and knowledge are amazing things

    Can I ask you Jane, did your head hurt after having this conversation? Did you also find a head-shaped dent in the nearest wall?

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Beatles albums

    As a long-term Beatles fan, I could hardly keep my mits off this from HolyHosesRob and picked up by others including the lovely Anna (who is just keeping on the right side of insanity-inducing rage about the position of Artic Monkeys in the NME best albums of all time poll).

    Anyway, from me, an ordering of Beatles albums, which was tougher than I thought it would be:

    1. help! - weird choice for many but it was probably one of the first I bought after they screened the film on the day that Lennon died (or it was at least screened that weekend). Great pop tunes, with lennon at his faux-Dylanesque best. "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" is just harmonies in heaven! "I've just seen a face" is so fast-paced its breathlessness is intoxicating. And "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (I loved that track!) still knocks me out.

    2. beatles for sale - gems a plenty (I practically wore out "Words of Love" even)

    3. rubber soul - as an album it just hung together so beautifully in my mind "In My Life"? "Norwegian Wood?" "Girl"? great stuff. Also the first album of theirs I could truly strum along to... get those chord changes in...

    4. white album - for years I thought there was a great single album fighting to get out of the double-horror show of this collection. I've warmed more to the diversity of its clattering tastes and directions. "I will" to "Julia", "while my guitar..." to "Happiness is warm gun" "sexy sadie to helter skelter": every track takes you in a weird direction either in style or tone. Duff tracks too, but the sound quality is fab

    5. Beatles at the Beeb - some gems here and much better recordings than the Decca auditions and the messy flawed chaos of the Hamburg tapes (both released by so many distributors in such variable quality releases I can't bring myself to list them here). But the Beeb tapes are delightful: and for the husky harmonies on "to know here is to love her"... just to die for.

    6. the hollywood bowl - the noise and recording are, well, chaotic, but it is perhaps the best record of them live in their heyday we could hope for.

    7. revolver - some grotty fillers ("Dr Robert"!?) and finally I can admit that "Tomorrow Never Knows" may be advancing the technological experimentation of music but its not very interesting or pleasant! But quality shows and for overall feel I do love it, especially given that the same period also gave us the double-sided "Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane".

    8. a hard day's night - it sounds... tinny? sorry... some great pop tracks here and the twelve-string really works well: "If I Fell" and "You Can't Do That" still shiver me though. the film is still a joy

    9. let it be - now the film and the album together (both versions), THAT shows what a difference production makes. I love Spector but the warbling on "Long and Winding Road" was unforgivable. As was the change of guitar solo on Let it Be...

    10. abbey road - a mess, but redeemed by the noise that I loved from "I want you" and the overall soundscape effect

    11. sgt pepper - "she's leaving home" and "day in a life" retrieve it from even lower down

    12. please please me - rough, some would say not rough enough by comparison to the energy of the beatles live in the cavern, or hamburg (but not captured by the hampburg tapes either, done as they were at the dog-end days of their hamburg trips). but it has "I Saw her Standing There" and the sublime "Twist and Shout"

    13. with the beatles - some really scrappy songs and recordings on this, though I was quite fond of lennon's croaky on "you really got a hold on me"

    14. magical mystery tour - a mess, mess, mess

    15. yellow submarine - scarcely a Beatles album, and even lesser than the last one

    Excuse lack of caps, mistyping and all manner of poor phrasing. Really though, this was way harder than I would have liked.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    I should know better than to even think about reading NME lists

    Found this on "She had a Thirst for Knowledge" - newly added blog to the sidebar. The NME has done one of its usual lists of the 100 best albums (scroll to 2006 list) and it inspires more confusion than anything else: I mean, I know the majesterial "The Queen is Dead" is in at 2, but "Strangways Here We Come" at 19? Huh?! Oasis STILL making the list? "Never Mind the Bollocks" at 4? More like "never mind this bollocks"...

    I just about forgive them for at least having Pulp in at 7...

    Clare in the Community: February 1st 2006

    Check out the Clare cartoon for today February 1st (this link may change over time: hence the reference to the date ).

    Cloud feels this is most appropriate for me!