Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Googlism: I'm 76 don't you know...

Hilarious and unnerving.

Weight

Those of you have known and met me might wonder why the topic of weight would be on my mind. Lovely Jo Salmon is busy celebrating (and quite rightly) her hard work and acheivement at losing over 2 stone since she joined WeightWatchers. It's hardly likely I would need to lose two stone since that would take me to catwalk model twig slenderness, but nevertheless I am aware that I'm not as lithe as I used to be.

The thing is, I luuurrve food. I eat loads - in fact my appetite is legendary. I would be rich if I had a quid for everytime someone has said "where does she put it all?" and me replying "there's a photo in the attic that looks enormous" (here for the reference if you don't get it). But something is clearly a-wry with our eating habits as neither me or Cloud are getting slimmer as the years pass.

We eat breakfast - at least a toasted teacake with extra sultanas or some cereal (I don't like museli though folks). We've had only skimmed milk for around 2-3 years now.

I always have lunch (or at least as often as I can) and have at least a sandwich or a baguette - often on wholegrain bread. The smaller the sarnie, the more likely I will be rumbling before 7pm and getting increasingly needy of food cooking as soon as we get in. I will often try to have fruit, although this can result in a case of carrying an item around in a bag until it has gone off. Cloud at least always has some fruit (though I think he sometimes falls back on the staple carb rush of crisps). UPDATE: I hereby publicly apologise for this defamation of character. Cloud's legal opinion is that he has never done this and only eats crisps on very rare occasions with me at home... I defer to his judgement (though I think 'never' may be overstating somewhat...)

By early evening, I at least am getting hungry again. We usually eat somewhere between 7 and 9pm. Yes, I know that lateness probably doesn't help but we don't always get in till just before then. I hate cooking and freezing stuff (I don't really understand how it works to be truthful and once I have cooked, I want to eat. Several recipes we follow say 'suitable for 4 persons'. Ahem. Or two greedy pigs.) We don't have a microwave (no space and I don't really like them). Besides, when do I get time to cook multiple worth of meals? I'd need to buy humungous Italien family sized pans to satisfy us and make it workable for freezing even IF I understood it better.

Additionally, we probably only have take-away once every 3-5 weeks. We rarely have pizza more often than once every couple of weeks and often longer apart than that (though it is a handy freezer staple to have with our own garlic mushroom recipe). Fizzy drinks probably cross our lips no more than a handful of times over a year. We scarcely have puddings (usually too full) and if we do, we have usually had less to eat in the main course (say, just some steamed veg on its own) or we have guests and the amount gets shared more. I do like a cooked breakfast - or more realistically 'brunch' - at the weekend. But when we do, we rarely eat again before evening.

What I will admit is that we eat A LOT of pasta. We usually make our own 'sauce' for this since I don't like the processed food issues and preservatives in pre-done ones (herbs plus a tin of toms - or often just a half tin - plus a selection of a couple of ingrediants from a a list such as onions/shallots/mushrooms/leeks/beans).

So where are we going wrong? Is it just volume - 'cos the problem with cutting down is I just get cranky and hungry (and that is never good). We eat pretty healthily and hardly ever eat processed food. So what should we do? If we try and eat smaller portions, all that happens is that I will end up making my remarks of "Neil, you're not going to believe this but I'm hungry again" even more often. By comparison to a few years ago, we DO eat less and more healthy items as well. And the fact that I know that I'm not 'fat' almost doesn't help: there's just no way we could do with cooking separate meals each night.

So, with those difficulties noted, any advice gratefully received!

My birthdate: a little bit wrong and a little bit right

Your Birthdate: October 10

Independent and dominant, you tend to be the alpha dog in most situations.
You're very confident, and hardly anything ever shakes you.
Mundane tasks tend to drain you - you prefer to be making great plans.
You are quite original. When people don't "get" you, it bothers you a lot.

Your strength: Your ability to gain respect

Your weakness: Caring too much what others think

Your power color: Orange-red

Your power symbol: Letter X

Your power month: October


Okay, points one and two in the top bit seem all wrong somehow, especially two as it seems to directly contradict the 'weakness' in the lower section (which I admit is scarily true).

And you?

Hat tip to Gert.

Hypnotism of the email header

Try reading this. It's funny, provocative and not a little hypnotic.

Russell T Davies' faith and optimism: a defence and discussion

Not mine, if you thought I could do such a thing, but a finely articulate argument and analysis from Phil over at Actually Existing. Phil admits that Torchwood is tosh (and by Medium Rob's scarcely spoilering review, episode three travels further down this line) but Phil provides a wonderful discussion of the core features of RTD's work that make it both appealing and dictate its focus. I'll let you read it for yourself, but it is one of the clearest pieces I've read on why some find RTD's work difficult to appreciate.

For me, I guess that I have a certain sympathy with the three core concerns, albeit that I can equally be enthralled by darkness, wickedness and internal character believability. Sometimes that's IS what I want, but lightness too has its place and it is nice to see it so well explained by Phil in his post.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Five years of Troubled Diva

Hip Hip HOORAY!!! Well done Mike for entertaining us so well over the years. A relative latecfomer though I am, its nice to read a Nottingham-based blogger and there is so much on your site that I always find something new to read, even if its something from the archives!

Will I still be doing this when my 5 years comes around (it will be Sept 2009... that seems a long way off...)?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shuffle a life: aka the iTunes "Lost in Music #2" post

Courtesy of Darren, I couldn't resist this (despite my blogger probs).

If you reached the top of Mount Everest, you would shout:
'Love will tear us apart' (Susanna and the Magical Orchestra)

The next time you stand up in front of a group of people, you'll say:
'Not a Second Time' (The Beatles)

Your favorite thing to say when drunk is:
'Punk Love' (The Magnetic Fields)

Your message to the world:
'How Was it for You?' (James)

When you think of your best friend you think:
'One Love' (Massive Attack)

Your deepest secret:
'Birdies' (Pere Ubu)

Your innermost desire:
'Reality' (Adriana Evans)

Your oldest memory makes you think:
'Solitude' (Saloon)

Somewhere in your wedding vows, you should have included:
'Japanese Meets Chinese in the USA' (Electric Eel Shock)

On your deathbed, you'll whisper:
'Sahar Dagi' (Replikas)

Your friends say behind your back:
'You Got that Uh Uh' (The Banana Erectors)

You say behind your friends' back:
'Take the Fifth' (Spoon)

Your opinion of Blogging:
'The Great Beyond' (REM)

When you wake up in the morning, you mutter:
'The King of Rock 'n' Roll' (Prefab Sprout)

If you found yourself lost on a desert island, you'd yell:
'Turpentine' (David Thomas and the Foreigners)

Right now, your feelings are:
'Razzmatazz' (Pulp)

What's your excuse for reposting this music survey?:
'Roadrunner' (Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers)

Your life's soundtrack:
'Ubique Media Deamon' (Einsturzende Neubauten)

The day you fell in love was the day that:
'What's the Word' (We Are Scientists)

You Scream During Sex:
'In my Dreams' (Thomas Truax)

Your farewell message to the readers of this music survey:
'Just in Time' (Nina Simone)


Well, some of the answers could have been much worse...

Blogger and passing stories

JJ tells a good tale of incoming (or departing?) rats.

If Blogger ever decides to play ball this will actually appear on this site as a post. But I've been blogging for an hour now and NOTHING has yet accurately uploaded.

ARSE.

All things considered that's pretty un-nerdy

I am nerdier than 77% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
Pah.

Mind, then again I haven't studied science or maths since school (aged 16).

Maxing out on Bob's wisdom

This is just a taster from a latest Maximum Bob post.
We’re all familiar with the idea that there are only 8 plots (or is it 11?) in literature. Again, these are ways of loosely fitting any narrative into a particular mould. But the real interest in films (and books) is not in that they can be made to fit a mould, but in the way they’re made or written: the language used (including types of camera shot, lighting, movement etc), the characters (or the actors playing the roles), the dialogue, and the ways in which it all fits together (the editing, the sound, the music). If you concentrate solely on the mould (perhaps because you don’t feel very confident with the technical stuff), you just end up with something that’s more descriptive than analytical. You’re just re-telling the plot in another form of words. And the plot of a film is only a very minor part of it - and certainly not the part that makes it good or bad.
Just brilliant...

Holbein as reviewed by Stu_n

Excellent review by Stu_n over at his livejournal site about the Holbein exhibition at Tate Britain. I'm hoping to be in London before Xmas but whether I will get chance to see this particular show is debateable, but this review certainly encourages me to consider it!

Going back to my roots

Oh blimey. There is something about having a scanner that brings out the nostalgic in me.
Rullsenberg at Berridge Road Infants School
Blimey. Cop them clothes! And I'm pretty pleased to see that even then I had purple legs!

Friday, October 27, 2006

For typographic fiends everywhere

A truly awesome demonstration of why certain fonts work better than others from our new teacher maximumBob.

Great stuff.

Six words

Rather apt really, given how this person connects to a narrative from six words, but I have had much amusement from Marie's contribution to the six word story concept as passed on by MediumRob from the ever wonderful Neil Gaiman.

My only remark is that surely the name 'Marie' could interchange... (though I suspect not if she has anything to do with controlling the story!)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My name...

Via Jo.


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere is:
1
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



And I know exactly who she is! She used to play football for her university team. As there are no longer any net refs to her, I'm assuming she's left now and has a super job earning more money than me.

Well, it's pretty likely!

Oooooh, Primeval....

Sorry, getting MORE excited now.

News is out there regarding a 'making of' documentary we can look forward to. And through Bloglines I saw a link from this forum to a rather neat 'promo poster' image mentioned on Simon Cooper's post.

Now, it's hard to track back to the image's original location, though the root address (http://www.hammerbooks.net) suggests that it traces to Jon Older's Hammer fan site here. Jon Older, for the observant amongst you, has previously worked on Dr Who but is now principally on my radar as Assistant Director on Primeval.

So the question is this: is this what the promo poster will look like? (I want one anyway! And certainly if it looks as good as that!) Is the image a fan's eye view of what it MAY look like as a promo? Either way, it's a stunning looking image...

Dr Who Meme

Lovely Rob Buckley has got a fun Dr Who Meme which is mutating already.

...And yes, I really SHOULD have had "The Girl in the Fireplace"...

The Joys of Admin (thanks Lisette!)

I know this sort of thing gets well circulated, but really this was a tonic of wry laughter this morning. Thanks HL!

1. Never give me work in the morning. Always wait until 4:00 and then bring it to me. The challenge of a deadline is refreshing.

2. If it's really a rush job, run in and interrupt me every 10 minutes to inquire how it's going. That helps. Even better, hover behind me, and advise me at every keystroke.

3. Always leave without telling anyone where you're going. It gives me a chance to be creative when someone asks where you are.

4. If my arms are full of papers, boxes, or supplies, don't open the door for me. I need to learn how to function as a paraplegic and opening doors with no arms is good training in case I should ever be injured and lose all use of my limbs.

5. If you give me more than one job to do, don't tell me which is a priority. I am psychic.

6. Do your best to keep me late. I adore this place and really have nowhere to go or anything to do. I have no life beyond work.

7. If a job I do pleases you, keep it a secret. If that gets out, it could mean a promotion.

8. If you don't like my work, tell everyone. I like my name to be popular in conversations. I was born to be whipped.

9. If you have special instructions for a job, don't write them down. In fact, save them until the job is almost done. No use confusing me with useful information.

10. Never introduce me to the people you're with. I have no right to know anything. In the corporate food chain, I am plankton. When you refer to them later, my shrewd deductions will identify them.

11. Be nice to me only when the job I'm doing for you could really change your life and send you straight to manager's hell.

12. Tell me all your little problems. No one else has any and it's nice to know someone is less fortunate. I especially like the story about having to pay so many taxes on the bonus check you received for being such a good manager.

13. Wait until my yearly review and THEN tell me what my goals SHOULD have been. Give me a mediocre performance rating with a cost of living increase. I'm not here for the money anyway.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Musicals! Get in your musicals!

I bit the bullet and sent in the following to Norm as my musicals selection. You should send yours in too!

Singin' in the Rain
The Glums (aka Les Miserables)
Wizard of Oz
My Fair Lady
High Society
Arse. I really should have put in Buffy: "Once More with Feeling".

Then again, I probably would have been the only person to suggest that.

Norm: if it gets to the wire and Buffy is in the shortlist, can you recount my vote for The Wizard of Oz as being for Buffy?

No?

Oh well. You all know what a Buffy freak I am. I guess it doesn't need to be proven in a public vote...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

These are the kind of comments box exchanges that make Struggling Author THE place to go

... and the place to be frustrated that haloscan eats them when they get archived.

Following Marie's complaint about her erratic boiler system, Stu_n decided that what she really needed was just some cheering up. And cue citation:

I walked right past that DT near Oxford Circus today.

He isn't half skinny. And those glasses he wears as the Doc? Model's own.
Stu_n | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 7:36 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!

Has he got rid of the beard yet?

And I *really* like the detail about the glasses. I won't be able to sleep tonight.
strugglingauthor | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 8:22 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He has indeed had a shave. In fact, he looked in full-on Doctor mode except, y'know, wearing his own clothes.
Stu_n | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 8:59 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I want to live in London!
I'm coming down this week - perhaps I will see him!
How exciting!
Cx
Caroline | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 9:07 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My boiler keeps randomly turning itself off. So I wake up in the morning to a freezing flat and no hot water. And lots of swearing in the shower. I've taken to waking up 2 hours early just to check it's on. It's not natural.

I've seen lots of celebs living in London, it's true. Not DT though. If I ever do, then I'll subtly knock him out with a swift, but non lethal, blow to the temple, and deliver him to your door. No! Even better. I'll ring you up, and you can "fight me off" and save him. Or something. With hilarious consequences.

I think I'm still drunk from last night.
Del | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 10:00 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"a swift, but non lethal blow"... I can't see that going at all wrong.
strugglingauthor | Homepage | 10.20.06 - 11:45 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Can I call you as a witness for the defence?
Del | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 12:55 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sure, because once you've killed David Tennant, I'm going to be *so* sympathetic to your cause. Even if you did do it for me... bless...
strugglingauthor | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 9:57 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hahaha! That'd be such a wonderful psycho moment. Me standing there, covered in blood, Dr Who no longer for this world, and me falling to my knees, wailing "BUT I DID IT FOR YOOOOU!!!"

Happy days. I should just state for the record that I won't actually be attacking David Tennant. If I did bump into him, I'd be too busy pumping him for Billie's phone number.
Del | Homepage | 10.22.06 - 10:33 am | #
A few points: Stu_n needs to be thinking of his readers when he next sees DT in the street. We want a full wardrobe report* - even though the glasses detail was adorably great. And Del might need to refine his desire to please Marie by clocking celebs out for the count, but I suspect that several may be wanting to share that Billie Piper phone number. Caroline: let me just say, I'm in agreement!

* Note: Some may have disliked THAT floral shirt as worn in the first David and Freema first shoot, but I was rather fond of its excess. Nice to read in the current edition of Dr Who magazine that David defended it! Hurrah for OTT shirts!

Review: The Cryptogram at Donmar Warehouse 21 October 2006

Reviews (scroll for list) have been pretty darn fine this past week for this new production, with much praise heaped on Oliver Cooper-Smith, one of three boys playing the central role: arguably the most demanding part in this three-handed play. Of course, these reviews are based on the Press Night performance, so I do hope that amongst that adulation, fair appreciation is also given to the other two boys who take on the arduous and exhausting role of John, the child whose inabilty to sleep creates the heart of the play.

For the performance on Saturday, Adam Brown took this role and ably added his anxious, wide-eyed take to the character. With many long speeches and Mamet's usual elliptical, reiterative dialogue throughout to contend with, it takes supreme attention to manage to invest the part of John with the right proportions of childish frustration and growing - almost adult - comprehension at the destruction around him. That he does this deserves full credit that should not be subsumed by the Press's attention to the one performance they saw (if I could I would head back to see it again, not least to try and see each of the different young male lead performances).

The story itself it short, but by no means slight: as dense as any Mamet work is, it seems to skirt around itself whilst also managing to throw several knockout punches in its developing narrative. Essentially it is a tale set in 1959 of a mother (Donny - played by Kim Cattrell), her son John, and her 'friend' - I use the term loosely - Del (Douglas Henshall, more on whom later...). John cannot sleep. He is expecting to take a trip to 'the cabin' with his father Robert. To say the trip doesn't happen scarcely gets close to capturing how events progress.

I actually don't want to say too much about the narrative of the play, partly because of its brevity (just 3 acts across 65 uninterrupted minutes of performance), but also because the narrative deserves to be soaked in and considered rather than neatly encapsulated. I suspect summing it up both diminishes and complicates the narrative. But it probably helps to know that that mother's first key act is off-stage (the breaking of a teapot) and by the end of the play far more things - both physical and emotional - are broken in her life. Cattrell was astonishingly good. This probably won't come as a surprise to the more observant afficiandos of 'Sex and the City'. There, when allowed, the character of Samantha was always far more complex and conflicted than her media-portrayed sexpot summary allowed casual viewers to believe. Given the right parts, I think she will establish herself as admirably on the London stage as she has done elsewhere. Her gradual destruction, the collapse of her 50s housewife facade, was excellent.

I've already mentioned the strong performance of Adam Brown as John, a role that truly is central to this short play. So I guess I need to get to writing to about Douglas Henshall, who, let's face it was the key reason - the only reason - I dragged myself down to London. I would love to say that I am addicted to seeing plays, and that I go to the theatre often. But the truth is I don't, although I know I should, and it often takes the lure of someone I really enjoy seeing to get me there. I wish in some ways that wasn't true, but there it is. I went because I would - as Cloud ably teased me yesterday - pay to see Henshall read the phone book...

...cue drifting daydream into hearing his Scottish tones twirl a range of numbers and names...





...and I'm back.

That proviso made, what is really the point is that Henshall is undeniably a bloody fine actor. He always brings such conviction and passion to his performances that he cuts a mesmerising figure on the stage. Even here, where - by his own admission - Mamet's style demands that an actor has little "scope for interpretation", he creates an emotional intensity that draws you in. That his seemingly charming and affectionate character proves ultimately to be so duplicituous, even manipulative, consequently hits the audience even harder than it perhaps otherwise would do so. He is also exceptionally good at handling humour, although given the roles for which he has become best known for that's perhaps less surprising than it feels. Despite the eventual bleakness, the early scenes of The Cryptogram call for some deft and teasing interactions with John and Donny by Del and Henshall brings mischievous conviction to his performance of these. There's often been an undercurrent of wry wit to his chosen roles, and it's good to see that re-emerge here alongside the aching tragedy that he handles so beautifully in all his work.

Of course, Henshall is no stranger to Mamet's work, having drawn excellent notices for his performance of the role of Teach in American Buffalo back in 1997. But it was another five years after that role before he returned to the stage for the Stoppard trilogy, The Coast of Utopia. It's pleasing that since he made that return, we've been able to see him on stage more regularly, especially as theatre is a medium that flatters his talents just as admirably as any other: and of course has the added bonus of allowing you to see him in the round as it were. And whilst I realise you may spot my bias, seriously, the guy works well in any medium. Thoroughly deserving of repeats, two personal favourites of mine have been his radio performances as David in The Long Farewell - a play that never fails to bring me to tears - and as Christopher Brookmyre's flawed hero Jack Parlabane in the hysterical Bampot Central. Sigh.

I'd urge you to see the production if you can, but given it's at the Donmar - a beautifully tiny theatre - getting tickets may prove tricky. Still, if you get the chance I would urge you to try. Josie Rourke's direction is wonderful and the intimacy of the theatre brilliantly captures the growing claustrophobia of the story. Three cheers too to the lighting crew, who do a great job of managing that intimacy. I was seated on the front row of the balcony and that gave a great view of proceedings, but you're going to get a good view anywhere in that environment. Although I would say that I intentionally avoided going for a downstairs seat on the ground of it proving too much of a temptation for my fast-beating heart... and Cloud's prods at my transfixion were bad enough anyway...

Review: The Tiny and Camera Obscura at The Social 20 October 2006

First, an apology. It was only afterwards that I realised I HAD spotted Mike from Troubled Diva but hadn't properly associated the physical being with his onscreen image. Probably not helped by the fact that I was basing it largely on his video-podcast (or Trodicast TM). Can I just say, the video does not do justice to his handsome visage and demeanor? Poor bloke; I did keep glancing over at what I now am convinced were Mike and K but neither my recognition skills nor my gumption were sufficient to convince me till afterwards that it really was them. Doh.*

That apology though probably DOES need some clarifying as I don't want to come across as a total idiot (though I often can be). Let me explain to those unaware that The Social in Nottingham is VERY VERY small. I mean, like, TINY. Okay, I was wearing stripey socks but I think I would have needed to be about 8 foot tall with a big sign saying "stripey Rullsenberg here" over my head AND disproportionately long legs. To say it was packed would be an understatement. By Camera Obscura's own admission we all looked "uncomfortable". You ain't kidding. They also said it was probably hotter in there than it had been "Texas, no, actually Tuscon Arizona". Thanks. We all felt a lot cooler (intellectually) for know that if not (physically) cooler!

Seriously though, it was MEGA hot and since, as is often the case at gigs, no one forces a policy of majorly tall people must stand nearer the back and let short girlies and boys get closer to actually, like, SEE SOMETHING, it was also something of an obscured vision-fest. A shame, as I rather love looking at the earnestly luscious Carey, but she was severely buried behind the speakers and her keyboards. Still, I did get to see her afterwards as I went to buy The Tiny CD and persuaded passing Camera Obscura fans of the virtues of the yellow "Let's Get Out of This Country" T-shirt.

Anyway! To the matter in hand.

Support was ably provided by The Tiny. Ah, they were lovely. Theramins, strings, and ethereal vocals. Wonderful stuff. Ellekari, Leo and Johan brought together some eclectic sounds and seduced the audience beautifully. Incredibly they had no where to stay in Nottingham (it was the final night of the tour), but as soon as sweet Ellekari mentioned this, they were inundated with offers: something these Swedes were clearly taken aback by!

Still, given that we were stuck towards the back of the venue for the support act, there was far too much ambient noise and conversation going on as people moved to and fro through the heaving crowds to the bar. So when The Tiny finished their set, we ploughed forward to stake a claim towards the rear/middle of the in-front of stage 'space'. Although far too many tall blokes still insisted on trying to get in front of us, it was reasonably okay there, and at least I could see Tracyanne.

By the time the intro song of "Stand By Your Man" blasted through the sound system to announce the imminent arrival of the band, everyone was well stoked up and it was about 9.50pm. Yes, yes George, I know that in Scotland you're lucky if the first of two support acts has started by then, but this is England. Grrr. Still, it heralded the start of a great set full of new stuff - a majority of the new album - and some old stuff. There was some great banter (including Kenny telling the tale of TracyaAnne confusing Gothenburg with the home of Batman: "but of course everyone knows that's where Spideman comes from..."), some sweet announcements (Nigel is about to become a dad for the first time so will be taking some time away from the band - cue huge cheers), and of course the usual apologies about the equipment and being prepared ("most of us haven't got set lists!"). There were several reminiscences of previous performances in Nottingham - why couldn't they have had either the Rescue Rooms or Rock City?! They would have easily sold one of those out! - including fond thanks to one girl from the front of the audience who, at the last Nottingham gig, had rescued TracyAnne's dying vocal ability due to illness by gamely getting up to sing as subsitute vocalist on "Eighties Fan". Blimey.

So, all in all it was a cracking gig. Fey Scottish pop they may be, but they are a wonderful live band as well. And it was nice to see them with their own instruments!

* Just had horrid thought. I really hope that at least my retrospective recognition was correct or else I kept glancing at some random blokes and have misidentified completely our very own Troubled Diva....

Blog meetings: official and unofficial

Yesterday, as hinted at by JJ here, Cloud and me met up with the ever lovely Reidski and JJ. As before it was an absolute joy full of laughter, bad jokes, musical discussions and general delight. As truly one of the success stories of blogging, seeing them really warms your soul. Oooh, I feel all gushy!

Anyway, looking at my diary (pah, I'm still bloody rubbish at using one properly), I see there are a few more upcoming and more formal get togethers of blog persons and it reminds me that I was originally going to try and organise something here in Nottingham at some point.

Given my limited capacity for giving beds (we can barely find our own in the mess that is this house) I don't want to put out a call and then leave people stranded. I'm also acutely aware that given our lovely Nottingham city centre, folks probably DON'T want to be battling with the beauties of ladsabouttown and henpartyrabbitearedgalsinmatchingtshirts.

So, if anyone IS still in favour of some kind of blog meet in the middle of the country, would it be worth us meeting somewhere near to the station initially and then trooping across town to the more enjoyable pleasures of the Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road? Does anyone have any better suggestions? Does anyone have any ideas about a date? Pre Xmas may now be a bit tight and people may be under pressure for other types of friendly socialising, but sometime in January 2007 may be worth considering?

Let me know...

Anna reviews a play

Regular readers here will know and appreciate Anna's keen eye for commenting on plays, especially the gems at the Sheffield theatres. She comes up trumps again with a very fresh and insightful review of The Caretaker. Whilst commentators being willfully ignorant can piss me off, what annoys me most is when they behave as if they DO know everything, but clearly don't. Anna refreshingly acknowledges her lack of awareness of Pinter's "classic" play and writes her review without exhaustingly having approached Wiki etc for thorough historical and storyline context. What a great move. I'm a lot more ignorant than I'm often taken for, and if put on the spot would equally have had to admit to gross ignorance of Pinter's work beyond knowing the title. Additionally, given the elliptical nature of certain playwright's works, I'm not sure I would have even been certain it was about or featured a caretaker.

So Anna's review was great to read because it cut to the heart of communicating what she perceived from the work and paid full attention to the participants of it. Go and enjoy, as usual.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Check out the gallery

The Cryptogram: Reviews are great, the play is short, and the photographs are fabulous...

Arthur Marwick

I can't believe I missed seeing the obit for Arthur Marwick, but Cloudy Neil has just sent me this little gem from it:

...Arthur became from his undergraduate days at Edinburgh University, a sort of puritan cavalier; immersed in work which he took very seriously, until, his stint in library or archive over, he would sally forth in search of drink and women.
I fondly remember being on an Open University Summer School, where in the past Marwick's behaviour had become legendary. We were looking at Victorian narrative painting, and a Victorian painting depicting Viking soldiers about to enter a house was put up on the slide projector. Barring the absence of a cravat and modern dress, the moustache and pose were pure Marwick and the collected students fell around laughing at their recognition with scarcely any prompting from the sly tutor who chose the image...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

After Marie's public service announcement...

Marie made a P.S.A. yesterday:
[public service announcement]

If you texted me today, can you please resend the message, as I may have inadvertantly deleted the text without reading it? This particularly applies if it was Daniel Craig with a proposal of marriage.

[/public service announcement]
In the interests of clarification of course, I had to add this:

Does that mean if it was DT you don't mind having deleted it? In future could you consider forwarding to me? happy to take him off your hands...
Rullsenberg | Homepage | 10.17.06 - 1:28 pm | #
To which Marie kindly added:
I like to keep both crushes alive. Keeps them on their toes. In the same way that Tennant and Henshall get to fight over you. It really is best for everyone.
strugglingauthor | Homepage | 10.17.06 - 2:03 pm | #
As the saying goes: BWAH!!!

Argh - history might matter but it would be nice if I had the time to notice!

Today is the 'average everyday write a dairy' day for History Matters.

I intend to write one. Whether the server survives everyone trying to upload is another matter. My main problem will be getting time to write it up!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sweet Marie

After Rosby provided yet more hilarity (catch it here while you can and here when you can't), Marie updated us with this and this:

Dreamt about that lovely David Tennant last night. Aaaaaah. He was singing backing vocals for Van Morrison. Of course. He's a multi-talented man our David, but I do worry about my subconscious sometimes.

Hey where did you go
When the Slitheen came?
Off in your Tardis
Playing a new game
Spinning round the planets, laughing
Standing on the galaxy's edge
Being possessed by alien lifeforms
Kicking crap out of Daleks, oh
With Who, my brown eyed boy
Who, my-y brown eyed boy.

Do you remember when we used to sing:
dum-dee dum dum dum dum-dee dum dum dum dum-dee dum dum dum
oo-EE-ooooo EEEEEEE-ooooo
wah wah waaah wah wah waaah...
(dum-dee dum dum dum dum-dee dum dum dum dum-dee)
oo-EE-ooooo...


Sorry, I think I changed songs there. God I miss Doctor Who.

Now, who's going to buy her that Doctor Who doll with the sonic screwdriver?

More to the point when am I going to face up to the fact that Neil WILL break me down into admitting that I really really want one of these myself....

Two corking posts at Actually Existing

Guess where I started with even trying to catch up on blogs?

Nevertheless, Phil has two excellent - and for me highly enjoyable - posts I would like to direct you to (of course he has loads more as well, but these two, at the top of the blog, caught my eye and imagination).

The first caught my eye because it's about C.S. Lewis's Narnia and the troublesome place of Susan. I grew up on the Narnia books, though it took me several years of reading to figure it was an analogy for Christianity. For while that was key to my on-going interest; then it became a key reason for my difficulty with the books. I'm pretty well versed in knowing about theology and scripture (dad used to preach in the Market Square in his younger days) but my 'beliefs' such as they are belong more in the Pullman camp.

The second caught my eye because I remain a huge fan of the work of Whedon. I loved Serenity and hadn't seen Firefly before I ran with glee to the cinema. So it was interesting to read the opinions of someone who has only seen the film and felt (if critically) largely positive. If you haven't seen it, I would say it is well worth seeing and is now cheaply available on DVD. You can pick the Firefly series up as well for not much more and I'd recommend that too. You can watch one without the other - despite what Phil seems to imply - but you will have added fun watching the two in whichever order you please.

Enjoy!

Sounds from a Suburb

Thanks to Col, I've discovered the wonderful Sound of the Suburbs site from over in France which is just lovely to read and even better to listen to!

For redirection to all manner of musical gems and anecdotes, it's a great place to visit!

iTunes meme, shamelessly nicked

Ta to Jim and Darren for inspiring me to do this!

Total Songs

6398 songs, 28.63 GB

Sorted by Song Title

First: '64 AKA Go - Lemon Jelly

Last: Zuckendes Fleisch - Einst├╝rzende Neubauten

Sorted by Artist

First: 1-Speed Bike - Seattle/Washington/Prague/00/68 Chicago/Nixon/Reagan Circle-Fighting Machine

Last: ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man

Sorted by Album

First: The Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir - "This Is Our Punk Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing (first track = "Sow Some Lonesome Corner So many Flowers Bloom")

Last: Various artists - Zentertainment 2006 (final track = "Walk A Mile [Tiga remix edit]" by Coldcut)

Please bear in mind that the stereo is the main way in which we play things in our house still, so this probably tells you more about what goes on when I'm on my computer!

Ten Most Played Songs

1. A Long Time Ago - David Ford (12 plays)
=2. 13 Angels Standing Guard 'round the Side of Your Bed - A Silver Mount Zion (9 plays)
=2. Something's Going To Happen Soon - Ballboy (9 plays)
=2. Us - Regina Spektor (9 plays)
=5. They'll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day - Ballboy (8 plays)
=5. It Dawned On Me - Calla (8 plays)
=5. 100,000 Fireflies - The Magnetic Fields (8 plays)
=5. Give Me Back My Dreams - Sally Timms [The Sixths, aka Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields] (8 plays)
=9. The Matter [Of Our Discussion] - Boom Bip, featuring Nina Nastassia (7 plays)
=9. Pull The Wires From The Wall - The Delgados (7 plays)

Ten Most Recently Played

Rhine & Courtesan - Rachel's
Besame Mucho - Dan Sartain
Green Pastures - Anonymous 4, Darol Anger, Mike Marschall
Parting Friends/Wayfaring Stranger - Anonymous 4, Darol Anger, Mike Marschall
You Fair & Pretty Ladies - Anonymous 4, Darol Anger, Mike Marschall
Beloved - Hannah Marcus
Looking for Space - Hannah Marcus
State of the union - David Ford
What would you have me do - David Ford
A Long Time Ago - David Ford

Find 'sex' - how many songs show up?

11 (but there's a lot of repetition here!)

Sex is Boring - Ballboy (from A Guide to the Daylight Hours)
Sex is Boring (acoustic version) - Ballboy (from Club Anthems 2001)
Sheffield: Sex City - Pulp (from Babies EP release)
Sheffield: Sex City - Pulp (from Intro: The Gift Recordings)
Sheffield: Sex City (instrumental) - Pulp
Wet Sex Anaesthetic - Nought (from Buffalo Bar Presents Sound Issues Vol.1)
Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll - Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Sex Machine - The Flying Lizards (from Rough Trade Post Punk Vol 1)
A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy [redone version] - Momus (from Slender Sherbet: NOTE this is a really really rubbish version but you can't get the original for love nor money and we only have it on vinyl!!!)
Sex - The Pipettes (from a sampler CD)
Sex and Mayhem - Devastations (from a sampler CD)

Reminder established from this: I still haven't loaded up 'Don't Try This at Home' with the excellent 'Sexuality' by Billy Bragg!

Find 'death' - how many songs show up?

10

Death Goes To The Disco - Pulp
22: The Death Of All Romance - The Dears
Death II - Pulp
The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure - The Magnetic Fields
Clubbed to Death - Rob D (from The Matrix)
Time And Death Invading The Arcadian Scene - The Death of Rosa Luxembourg
Death Smiles at us All - Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard (from Gladiator)
The Black Angel's Death Song - The Velvet Underground and Nico
Death Of A Tune - The Hidden Cameras
Death or Glory - Jesse Malin

Find 'love' - how many songs show up?

203. The top 10 rated songs are:

Past Lovers - Ballboy
Labelled with Love - Squeeze
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Susanna and the Magical Orchestra
To Know Her is To Love Her - The Beatles (live at the BBC)
Is This What They Used to Call Love? - The Magnetic Fields
To Bring You My Love - PJ Harvey
Love's Almighty - Telepopmusik
The Night You Murdered Love - ABC
A Lover Sings - Billy Bragg
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Bob Dylan

Find 'war' - how many songs show up?

13 (excluding those where war is just part of a standard word)

The War - Bill Hicks (spoken word stuff counts yeah?)
Between the Wars - Billy Bragg
Masters of War (Live) - Bob Dylan
Blood on Blood War - Cappadonna
War - Carla Whitney
Details of the War - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
War and Peace - Gilad Atzmon
What Do We Want? (We Don't Want No War) - Hondo
Postwar Glamour Girls - John Cooper Clarke
Girl in the War - Josh Ritter
The War is Over - Phil Ochs
We All Said Stop the War - Robb Johnson
The Riflemen of War - Seth Lakeman


Find 'peace' - how many songs show up?

7

War and Peace - Gilad Atzmon
Security and Peace - Superqueens
Peace in Our Time - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Peace in Our Time (demo) - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
We Want Peace - Hermione
No Justice, No Peace - Robb Johnson
Rest in Peace - Spike (from Buffy "Once More, With Feeling")

Find 'rain' - how many songs show up?

22 - 10 randomly selected

Why does it always rain on me? - Travis
Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall - Simon and Garfunkel
She talks to Rainbows - The Ramones
Black Rain - David Thomas and the Foreigners
Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Paint a Rainbow - My Bloody Valentine
In the Rain - The June Brides
A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall (Live) - Bob Dylan
Rain Down Blues - Big MayBelle
Dry the Rain - The Beta Band

Find 'sun' - how many songs show up?

58 - 10 top rated

When the Sun Goes Down - Artic Monkeys
Leave The Earth Behind You And Take A Walk Into The Sunshine - Ballboy
Sunshine on Leith - The Proclaimers
Another Sunny Day - Belle and Sebastian
The Warmth of the Sun - Brian Wilson
Warm and Sunny Days - The Dears
Fades the Sun - Duke Spirit
Sunrise - Pulp
Burnt by the Sun - Sophie Solomon (with Richard Hawley)
Blister in the Sun - The Wannadies

Find 'socialist', 'communist' or 'anarchist' - how many songs show up?

2

Cocaine Socialism - Pulp
Anarchy in the UK - The Sex Pistols

Opening Lines: coming to an end with a prize?

I've been finding that health, work and house-pressures have been taking their toll on me of late. Compounding these has been my guilt over the issue of what to do about my 'commitment' to providing opening lines for you.

So here's the thing.

I'm going to do a final 25 lines post sometime before the end of the year.

Everyone who has got one line or more right, whether from a daily or a collection post, can - if they want - receive a compilation 'prize' relating to the songs used in the posts.

So that's an incentive for you all; or maybe not??!! It kinda depends on your choice and your taste!

Been my thought for some time...

"IS IT possible that the nation's most popular TV faces in 2007 will be two dashingly handsome actors from Renfrewshire? The place of Paisley's David Tennant is already secured as everybody's favourite Dr Who. Now lining up to win a similar number of hearts is Douglas Henshall, the 40-year-old star of Lipstick On Your Collar, This Year's Love and The Lawless Heart, who's from neighbouring Barrhead."
Nice to see this sort of statement in print, but a little behind my declarations on this topic!

Tagged for a 23rd page

From Moo

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag five people


Hmmm... not trying to be difficult but my computer desk is sat in front of a range of language, study and organisational advice books, by a case of political history books, and with all the fiction on the shelf out on the landing. With 3000-ish books you would think I could come up with something better than this example, but if I was to avoid the 'cool' and 'intellectual' I wouldn't end up with anything much better!

So I give you...

Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
p.23 - sentence five

"And what did you do about it? Unless you wrote it down and put it in a trusted 'bucket' that you know you'll review appropriately sometime soon, more than likely you worried about it. Not the most effective behaviour: no progress was made, and the tension was increased."

Wow. That's erm, quite profound. Also not a little dull. But probably very apt as I have been trying to clear some space in the ongoing chaos that is our house with endless plimbers and builders etc visiting!

Cheers Moo!

Since I've already done similar things to this I will however have to forego tagging and just shout 'WILL FIVE PEOPLE PLEASE DO THIS!!!!'

There, that feels better already.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It wasn't me...

Ahem.

The Sun: "David Can't Bare The Hassle"

October 12, 2006

DOCTOR Who star David Tennant has been hassled for his autograph — while NAKED at the gym.

The actor, 35, complained he was “all pink and bedraggled” after a workout when a fan came up to him.

He said: “I was b******-naked. It’s inappropriate!”
All I can say is, he was NAKED and all you did was ask for his autograph? What is wrong with you people?

Tell Norm your favourite musicals

Go on, you know you want to!

Your top five musicals are the latest Normblog poll. Contact him via his site: there is a link there.

My first thoughts are these but I'm going to refine before emailing saintly Norm:

Singin' in the Rain: just perfect. Top of any list, whatever is permitted.
Les Miserables (aka The Glums): cheesy, but I do love it.
Wizard of Oz: still cannot accurately sing the words, but a standby from my childhood.

I also thought of these which I may want in a top five but wasn't sure if they would count:

Porgy and Bess: is it too operatic?
Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: likewise? (I saw it a few years ago and it knocked my socks off - an amazing piece of musical theatre)
Buffy - Once More With Feeling: TV episode length musical? Can that count?

I'll think this over more 'cos I'm thinking of new possibilities every time I type!

Hitchcock

Via Norm, I found this little gem of a site as discovered by BlognorRegis.

But what I want to know is how come this particular site hasn't found a still of the famous through-the-window scene from Rope showing the famous Hitchcock neon silhouette?

Torchwood on BBC2 - hurrah!

Seen the trailers (loved btw) and mucho relieved to hear I do not have to fight with the concept of new aerials and the dreaded Freeview to be able to see upcoming Who spin-off, Torchwood.

Result!

10 things - telling you a lot about a good lesson

Maximum Bob is fast turning into your veritable online tutor in all things media. This latest one, on the under-rated "10 things I hate about you", is a fine example of his work and ability to explain clearly and effectively.

It's like doing one of those adult education classes that the emphasis on assessments has made impossible to run. I SOOOOO want to be in his class! Or at least a distance learner (which I suppose reading his lesson plans online I am...)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Coventry embraced Satanism?

Poor Mr Worle. This is what happens when you leave the safety of the 'godless' folk of Coventry for the wilds of Somerset...

UPDATE: As CloudyNeil points out, it is in fact Mr Jones of Worle, Somerset. Oops.

Robin Hood Studies

Priceless. This gem from the Nottingham Evening Post (accessible via here):

YOU HAVE SEEN THE TV SHOW ...NOW DO THE DEGREE

ALISTAIR HARRIS

12:00 - 10 October 2006

A Post-graduate course has been set up in Robin Hood studies at the University of Nottingham.

It is the world's first master's degree course to investigate the truth behind Nottingham's most famous legend.

Academics will have access to 600-year-old manuscripts at the university's school of history to investigate the story.

The course starts next year and should cost about £2,930 - the same as most of the university's history MAs for 2007-08.

Dr Rob Lutton, lecturer in medieval history and pathway leader in Robin Hood studies, said: "The new MA in Robin Hood studies at Nottingham is an exciting opportunity for anyone with an interest in the origins and development of England's most enduring legendary figure to ask searching questions about the relationships between popular culture and history."

The course will involve stories, songs, plays and literature from the 16th and 17th Centuries, and will examine the wider historical context of the medieval Robin Hood stories.

Students will also look at claims by Nottingham, Doncaster and Wales that they are the real home of the historical Robin. They will look at modern manifestations of the hero - including romantic novels and Robin's latest BBC incarnation.

Dr Colin Heywood, head of the school of history, said: "The University of Nottingham has a long tradition of researching late 12th-century society in England and Normandy, making it the perfect environment for students to understand the context for the Robin Hood legends. Those taking the course will look at the wider social and cultural perspectives on the subject, using 600-year-old manuscripts as their source material."

A university spokeswoman said: "Postgraduate qualifications like this are a good grounding for careers in historical research and teaching.

"They compliment undergraduate qualifications and allow students to gain extra knowledge in their chosen subject as well as adding to their research experience and building their confidence."

But a modern-day Robin Hood might look for a different sort of MA course.

"If Robin Hood were operating in Sherwood Forest today, he might choose a bigger target than the sheriff," the university spokeswoman added.

"Battling social injustice would still play a big part, so he might sign up to a course at the university's new centre for the study of social and global justice. The MA in social and global justice includes modules on international relations, war crimes, justice beyond borders and democracy and democratisation."

She suggested Robin might enjoy an MA in international security and terrorism or an MBA in corporate social responsibility at the universtity's business school.


All spellings left as they were... Cloud's favourite paragraph highlighted.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Arse

What is it with this week? Now this is quitting.

I hope they at least keep the archive (which is fun to read).

Opening Line: 10 October 2006

"You know it doesnt make much sense, there ought to be a law against, anyone who takes offense"


Straightforward really...

UPDATE: congrats to EineKleine Rob!!! Yeah!!!

Birthday

It was Kirsty MacColl's birthday.

It is Harold Pinter's.

It was Gaicometti's birthday.

It is Bradley Whitford's birthday (though I always think of him as Josh Lyman).

It was Thelonius Monk's birthday.

And I am the same age as Tony Adams.

Happy birthday to me...

It's World Mental Health Day

How apt that it is World Mental Health Day today.

According to wikipedia October 10 also marks the following:
1908 - Baseball Writers Association forms.
1938 - World War II: The Munich Agreement cedes the Sudetenland to Germany.
1966 - Simon and Garfunkel release the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (even more important!)
2005 - Most Aardman Animations props are melted in a warehouse fire. Props from Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit are destroyed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cryptogram preview

You see, if I do not check online regularly I could end up missing a good notice like this...

Note to self: don't let checks get left!

Weekend blog silence and activities...

Sorry about that folks. This blog appears to have turned into one long apology of late.

Must do better.

Had a nice day out in Nottingham on Saturday, had a meal at our lovely fav restaurant Gusto in Hockley/market area, and Neil bought a load of CDs etc (birthday treats) including the wonderful Dan Sartain.

Normal busines resumming at some point. Honest.

Friday, October 06, 2006

You see THIS is what happens when you do not check friends' blogs...

How did I manage to miss this?

I'm beginning to feel like I exist within exhaulted company, what with already being a supporter of the lovely Clare (second book forthcoming) and now the lovely Marie. Mind it's good to know that Marie still has her unerring sense of humour and mis-identification.

She is, however, thinking about the impact of the blog...

And managing to have the kind of life experiences that just call for a writer to be there to wittily tell us about them later...

But with remarks such as this one reported here, we all know she's heading up and up.

Makes me proud to be a blogger!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Opening Line: 5 October 2006

Sheesh, I'd almost forgot how much I liked this album.


"Fragile, like a baby in your arms"

Artiste? Song?

UPDATE: Mucho apologies to Stu_n for not earlier crediting his knowledge of Depeche Mode. But glad to see I'm not alone in recalling their work...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Apologies for a lack of blog visitations

Things have been very hectic at this end, and my time for checking stuff has been very limited. I know I have been neglecting you all (I dare not even think how much bloglines has accumulated for me...) and I am missing finding out what everyone is up to.

If you can bear with me that would be grand folks. I'll try and pop around to all your places at the weekend - subject to requirements of the garden and the house. With the bathroom refit in sight - though as they said in Gladiator "but not yet, not yet" - we're still effectively one very large room down in our abode for storage. This means what was a full house, is (still, currently) a very full house spread over one large room less. It's cramped, chaotic and cluttered. We're eBay numbskulls as well, so without assistance and planning in using that we can't even just decide to make some money by clearing stuff out to hapless folk eBay users.

We usually just give it to Oxfam. I think they're still grateful: either that or they're really good at acting happy to see us when we poll up with bootfuls of books etc... Yes, despite the laden shelves, we have and do regularly get rid of books. You'd hardly tell though...

Still, as I say, at the moment it's all rather bedlam here. We can't get proper storage into our (now smaller) back bedroom until the water tank is moved and the chimney breast damp is sorted. And that still doesn't resolve the issue of there being considerably less space anyway. So checking my blog pals is tricky at present. I will get to you, honest!

Of course, I could just have used my time better checking you as opposed to apologising here. I feel a Clare-like bit of self-analysis is taking place...

Cheers people, be with you shortly!

Opening Line: 4 October 2006

"And I'd tear out the pages, that I've got in these books"


Artiste? Song?

I still have a copy of their first album on cassette (not much use to me without a player for it, but still...)

UPDATE: Wozza gets with no cheating or even checking his record collection! Huzzah!

Belatedly I get around to the banned books

Courtesy of a prompt to visit Buffy (not that one, this one!), I had a read through of her excellent post - and comments - on the banned and challenged books list. Okay, so Banned Books Week was LAST week, but hey, I've been busy!

Reading further of Buffy's list, it does seem that I own or have read a large number of them - that would explain why I am so damaged and left-wing in my views?! But seriously, reading the ALA's lists for the period 1990-2000, its actually quite scary what people will complain about.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (I remember reading that as a child
and wonder why I don't still have it...)
Native Son by Richard Wright
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Have a look at the list yourself...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tachyon TV

I sometimes feel like the odd girl at a party of blokes when I drop in on the Behind the Sofa team, especially when I listen to their podcasts. But they are witty, irreverent and sharp in their commentary. And if you only catch the Tachyon TV podcast theme (which is a bundle of genius hilarity in itself), and don't carry on listening further, then you're missing out on one of the funniest set of podcasts available to those fond of science fiction TV and scathing humour.

Altogether now:

"Podcast, another Tachyon TV podcast, the only one recorded in a caravan, with people making tea and barking dogs for free, ruff, ruff..."

Opening Line: 3 October 2006

A sweet voice to brighten my day:

"Well, they're strollin' in the gloamin'..."


Artiste? Song?

UPDATE: George gleefully gets this!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Opening Line: 2 October 2006

"Oh let the sun beat down upon my face"


Ooooh - just toooooo easy!


Artiste and song please. I'll do some better updates when things are less hectic on the work and home front (it's my worst time of year for getting above the waterline of stress so be patient with me).

UPDATE: Wozza is WELL on the ball with getting this one...

New DVD release

I am unsurprisingly rather keen to follow up on this news from here:

October 2nd 2006
Down Among the Big Boys (1993) starring Billy Connolly, Douglas Henshall and Ashley Jensen was released on DVD on Monday 25th September. See DVD cover here.
Copies seem difficult to get hold of at the moment and aren't available at every online DVD store.


Hmmm... now where CAN I guarantee to get hold of this

Happy birthday to ya, happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The History Boys at Warwick Arts Centre

For a variety of reasons, we couldn't make it to the Nottingham performances of Bennett's 2004 National Theatre smash-hit. So it was lucky that we had friends who got us tickets for the Warwick Arts Centre performances for the next week on in the tour. It was certainly worthwhile...

So far, The History Boys has taken the London stage by storm, gone down exceptionally well in NYC and with plenty of enthusiastic reviews is taking pretty full houses all round the country in the current tour. A radio broadcast (and CD version) of the play has been done. And the barely altered film version is imminent in the cinema.

So is it any good?

Well, it IS a play of two halves. The first half is so astonishingly good - witty, sharp, moving and bristling with great lines - that it is mostly this brilliance that makes the second half seem so much more pedestrian. Partly, the derives from the apparant need to offer a considerable amount of resolution, but also to drive the plot in melodramatic directions. It is still great entertainment, and head and shoulders above a lot of recent theatre, but the second half just cannot scale the heights achieved by the opening half. The narrative arc (sympathy, revelation, destruction) somewhat undermines the range of ideas and contradictions that make the opening so stunning.

That said, it is both a wonderful play and a wonderful production. Bennett is one of those playwrights who can charm and delight often prissy middle-class audiences into gleeful unblinking delight at his writing, even when it includes some BBC-warning-"VERYstronglanguage"-speeches. (The 60-something gran who swapped seats with her grandson to sit next to us seemed far less put out by the littering of f- and c-words than she was by the nearby braying hooray Henrietta's whooping cheers* for the final applause and bows).

After such an astonishing original cast - Griffiths and De La Tour - casting can prove crucial in convincing an audience. Not only do you have to find some sympathy with the 'fiddling' Hector (ably played by Stephen Moore, a familiar British TV and theatre actor), but you also have to believe in the boys themselves. I never expected anything less than a great performance from Thomas Morrison as Scripps (played with a similar kind of watchful youthful pleasure and anguish as he bought to his role as Danny Holden), but Stephen Webb was just heart-breaking as Posner. Deliciously camp but utterly believable in his behaviour, his doomed adoration of the fey, fickle and self-awaredly 'handsome' Daykin (Ben Barnes) is beautifully conveyed: both were well praised in the review of the Nottingham performances. I would also dare to say that although I have only seen stills from the original cast production, Barnes was a far more 'pretty boy' Daykin than Dominic Cooper, who has far more 'rough edges' in his physical portrayal.

With its eclectic enthusiasm for culture over formal, quantifiably assessable education-as-(one bloody)-qualification (after another), the play taps into all manner of pet hobby-horses for Guardian and Independent readers. However, in placing the flawed, and potentially to some minds dangerous, Hector as our first rock of sympathy and appeal, Bennett challenges us to look beyond simple explanations and definitions. If you haven't seen the play yet, try and do so. If not, get to see the film. But keep an eye out for the progress of the cast of boys: I hope, and trust, they will go on to some great things in the future.



* Seriously, I think she'd been watching some overdose of 1930s cowboy-'n'-injun films, such was the stunning awfulness of her hollering whoops. If she'd have sat next to me, I'd have been tempted to gag her.

Opening Line: 1 October 2006

Zounds! It is October already (mind, given last week I may not last till Christmas - exhaustion already setting in...)

Anyway, new month and here's another line for you.

"Once I lived a life of a millionaire, spending all my money and I didn't care"


Artiste? Song? (The latter may be easier than the former, but kudos if you get the artiste right!)

UPDATE: Congrats to Joe for coming up with a suitable answer!