Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shiny mac update

I'm having lots of fun with my puter - especially the lovely feature of expose which is BRILLIANT for nuts like me who need to see an application at full screen size but can easily lose track of what I've opened in terms of applications.

Am still adjusting to the keyboard - and although my lovely mac OS X Leopard 'Missing Manual' book is fabulously useful - I'm still not quite sussed about keyboard shortcuts. Maybe to do with my shiny apple aluminum keyboard???

I still have to sort out my pictures (safely stored on my external drive from the old machine), and relocate my camera USB cable (fairly important for down/uploading my pics from lovely Chrissie visiting!).

I also have to sort out getting Office mac on the machine - its on the 'TO DO' list when I feel clear and confident what I need to do G! - so that should help fix the word file store I have.

And I really REALLY need to sort those out so that I can work out how to make best use of timevault/external drive storage of my mac version files (though preferably without losing what's already on the external drive in PC format -- not least as the drive could easily accommodate both formats).

In other words: getting there.

'Course, Cloud would argue that hours spent faffing on iTunes and contributing to online forums and reading fiction on line could be more efficiently used sorting these issues but hey. What's a girl to do?!

Julia Williams on To Kill a Mockingbird

Over at Normblog, the series of 'Writer's Choice' continues with Julia Williams writing eloquently on her love for 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Having long been set as a school text, it is perhaps easily forgotten that it is a fabulously elegant piece of prose that can - and does - speak to both young people and adults alike. That it inspired one of the most compelling screen adaptations of a novel just confirms its brilliance.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Slippery Slope to Socialism - too much for the US government...

Cripes, if only it was socialism...

Don't get me wrong: I understand that this is a crappy situation to be in as a taxpayer - bailing out banks for their own screw-ups. But even some staunch free-marketeers have admitted that the alternative to no bail-out may be even worse (and the problem is the whole not-knowingness of it: it may all go belly-up anyway).

It needs fixing. (Hilariously some are actually arguing that it was the high level of regulation on the free market that got the banks into this mess - hell if I know how they get to that conclusion...)

Just how many phone numbers do I have access to in order to enter the CiN competition multiple times?

Excited much?

God, I am so sad..., paying careful attention to T&C

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Student magazines and drinking cultures

I really don't want to feel as if I am lurching into reactionary chuntering, but something struck me today about the way that student magazines and publications continue the established tradition of writing about drinking, drinking cultures and the implicit assumption that the raisonne d'etre of student life is to regularly get utterly hammered.

You see, I do understand that drinking has been a significant part of student life since 4ever, like, but even so it's disturbing to see how much of a dominance the 'pleasures' of getting shit-faced still are in student writing.

Looking at it dispassionately the student population is increasingly diverse. Mature students are not immune to the desire or delights of imbibing but for practical reasons (childcare, part-time study etc) it may not be able to be the same sort of club- and party-orientated consumption of the average 18 year old let loose from home for the first time. International students are another constituent groups for whom the excessive consumption of alcohol may not be a major priority: I'm not saying none of them take it up, but I'd hazard that the influx of Chinese and other Asian students don't fill up A&E on a Friday - or any other night - with bladdered incoherence. And whether Christian or Muslim, I can't imagine that those students coming from strict religious cultures to the UK take up the drinking games in huge numbers. And this is before we get to the UK based students from similarly strict backgrounds. or those who - heaven forfend - just CHOOSE to not get drunk as much as possible as their first action one starting Uni.

So why would student publications continue to not engage and speak to/for such elements of their population? Superficially there is always talk of being inclusive - but when most of your writing emphasises drinking as an assumed activity, wouldn't this alienate many groups from the start?

Why do this?

The Play's the Thing - listening to old tapes of plays

Ah, new technology. It can redeem old technology. How brilliant it that? At present I am indulging in listening (already three times) to the scene where Gloucester (Richard III to be) woos Lady Anne -- it's from a production of a few years ago starring Douglas Henshall in the lead role and Jasmine Hyde as Lady Anne.

Although he mostly plays it as 'English', the further into this scene he gets, the more frequently the accent slides forth (which certainly works for me).


Merlin - magical

Oh I am such a sucker for swash and buckle - truly I am my mother's daughter. So you can imagine that I was well reliving the past watching Merlin last night which has just finished its second episode. Yes, they have ALREADY started bumping it around the schedules but I do truly like it!

Yes, it is VERY silly, and yes they have taken horrific liberties with the 'text': but if it is fun I (almost, mostly) do not care enough to complain. I grew up on TH White, and Morte D'Arthur, and, yes, Richard Harris in Camelot. What can I say? I'm at least prepared for texts to take some liberties as long as they convince me of the narrative's internal coherence.

This will certainly keep me amused for the next few weeks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What are you doing here, there and everywhere: A Doctor Who compendium

Brilliant tip off from the comments over at Medium Rob's place (ta Electric Dragon) to direct me to this brilliant bit of YouTube editorial genius pulling together variations on this phrase from the full decades of Doctor Who.


Leaning towards the DVDs as we reach the end of the week

Oh bloody hell: the BBC for all its trailers doesn't seem to know what to do with its own product does it when it can't keep Merlin in the remotely same slot for its first two weeks. Bah.

I'm stockpiling DVDs like fury at the mo - I'm actually probably about a months worth of watching behind on what we currently have and now Cloud has declared a need to see The Sweet Smell of Success again. The backlog grows.

Still, after this week at work - computers being generally bloody useless at every turn - its nice to get home and acquaint myself with my lovely mac again.

And listening to iTunes just makes me so happy.

Right, off to decide whether tomorrow is a decorating day. And have some late food - leek and potato gratin.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Regional TV and Local TV: the impossibility of getting it right on commercial broadcasting

Don't get me wrong: I think it sucks that ITV is intending - with permission - to scale back its regional Public Service Broadcasting obligations. [Of course its a moot point how many people watch the commercial TV equivalent of the various BBC regional broadcast news but still...]

Nevertheless, whilst I sympathise with audiences for being offered increasingly less than local TV news from the commercial companies, there are core problems with ever getting this sort of thing balanced -- especially once cost issues are factored in.

Because for a location population, news is scarcely ever local enough, whilst from a practical and fiscal perspective the very best that can be offered has to be regional. The clue is in the language: the latter is inevitably broader in terms of geography; the former may not be driven by population numbers.*

I still recall the old ATV midlands region - covering everything from Shropshire to Stoke, Oxford to Peterborough, Skegness to Gloucester. Birmingham and Nottingham tended to dominate, but what a woolly nonsense it was to try and cover such an area in one bulletin. Thing is though, that for many people even the current - and generally rather more focused - BBC news regions aren't local enough. I'm not saying that there would be much to fill many bulletins if north Nottinghamshire had its own broadcasts, but there is certainly a temptation - and probably evidence - to believe that audiences there are mentally switched off by what's going on in Lincolnshire or the ends of Leicestershire and Rutland. And East Midlands TV is hardly a massive regional area - geographically or in terms of population.

So poor old Borders and Tyne Tees being lumped together. That's virtually a return to the worst days ATV midlands days, and then some. But in cost terms, it's increasingly a struggle for commercial TV to justify the costs of its public service remits. Solutions to maintain what is currently provided - scarcely great but at least something - will continue to be costly. And in the end ploughing more money in would probably mean indirect public subsidy for commercial profit-making** bodies.

Now where are we hearing that sort of activity at the moment?

*For better or for worse, London is an almost impossible area to cover: as the capital of England many things whose equivalent elsewhere in the country would only have local effects/significance, in London take on national significance in terms of impact -- e.g. tube/local rail network strikes.

** Arguably though the commercial broadcasters are not making any profits at the moment...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'd forgotten how much I missed Sorkin's West Wing

Sheesh, reading this just makes me want to go back and start rewatching The West Wing all over again.

Several people/sites have emailed or linked to the New York Times piece over the last day or so, including Mars Hill, but it really is worth reading. Here's a couple of tasters of both wit and fury:


BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.


OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!
Drag out the DVDs folks, and if you're able to have any impact on the US election, then at least be active.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Think I have sorted out my iTunes and iPod

Okay, so I lost all the history of plays and ratings (sniff) and I have had to reconstruct the playlists (mostly easy, though some will need re-entering). But, barring some tunes shared by the George, it all seems to want to play on the iPod and I have managed to authorise this computer so that's good.

'Course, it would have been better to be able to deauthorise the old one first but since it died there wasn't much could be done about that.

Have been rediscovering some music via it as well. Lovely stuff!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The sound of conversation

All over the country for the next few days (weeks?) there will be three questions echoing around:

What A levels did you do?

Where are you from?

What course are you doing?


Sorry about the interruption - been having fun!

Ah, my mid-week has given me just about the best possible fun this gal could ask for. Hot on the heels on a sneaky visit to my friend Chrissie last month, she's been up to visit me and we had the most giddy approx. 27 hours you could ask for. Music, gratuitous dvd watching, food, a coven meeting (Helen Lisette joined us for a couple of hours) and mucho, MUCHO conversation! In fact to try and squeeze in as much chatter as we could we even did the whole slumber party thing so we could chatter till 3am! [The alternative was me disturbing the very tolerant Neil] And on her departure I picked up my lovely copy of the 400th issue of Doctor Who magazine! [and made sure sure H had hers and got one to post to C]

It's a pity real life has to intervene back again - for all of us. Hey ho. Here's to an improvement reflecting the delight we had on Wed/Thurs. Heck knows we deserve it.

And on a practical note, I didn't get online yesterday as I was painting the bathroom!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The break before the storm --

Next week sees the multitudes arriving. Yes folks, the new Uni term starts on Monday for me with bumper loads of workshops, lots of new students, efforts to be in several locations simultaneously and the prospect of the days getting shorter very quickly.

At least we have Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost to look forward to - from Monday I will be counting the days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Douglas Henshall and Kate Ashfield

It's always a pleasure to find that Douglas Henshall's busy: for years those of us who loved his work grabbed at the relatively rare opportunities we got to see his acting; things now are by comparatively easy as he seems to be keep much more active mixing both stage, film and TV work (I'd like him to do a few more radio pieces: Fragile was a wonderful piece).

Anyway, all this is by way of saying that he's currently busy filming Collision for ITV at the moment with Kate Ashfield.

Ah, Kate Ashfield: let's hope she can avoid doing too much of the "WHAAAAAAT?!" screeching that once dogged my comments on her work. She certainly gets to act with some prime people...


I grew up to be a bibliophibian. There won't be another generation of them from me, unless you count how I urge my students to read...

Hat tip to EineKleineRob.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Did I ever do a listing for the Shufflethon collection done last year?

I can't recall if I did this as a list or not anywhere so here goes:

Home Taping's Killing Music - Misty's Big Adventure
Don't Blink [soundclip]
Sing Songs Along - Tilly and the Wall
Don't Let Him Waste Your Time - Jarvis
Tarmac - Hazeldine
Last of the Timelords [soundclip]
Silent All These Years - Fay Wong
As You Turn to Go - The 6ths featuring Momus
Shining Citadel [soundclip]
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Susanna and the Magical Orchestra
Are 'Friends' Electric - An Pierle
Captain: Doctor [Soundclip]
Frontline - Captain
Reverse the polarity [soundclip]
Startup Chime - Ladytron
Rat Poison - Superqueens
Salamandrina - Einsturzende Neubauten
Scooby's House [soundclip]
Bohemian Rhapsody - Cud
They'll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day - Ballboy
Fire and Ice - Tim [soundclip]
The matter (of Our Discussion) - Boom Bip featuring Nina Nastasia
Hackensack - Fountains of Wayne
Am I Ginger? [soundclip]
Lady's Leg Licked - Wevie Stonder
Two Hearts [soundclip]
Dream a Little Dream of me - The mamas and the papas
So Many Things - Francois Hardy
Beautiful - James Blunt vs Malcolm Goldie
TARDIS [soundclip]

Hmmm. That's rather interesting as it seems that there is considerable overlap with my most played tracks there. A representative selection as well as one for a gift?

What were my top played tunes on iTunes before I moved?

As I'm probably about to lose my records of ratings etc I thought I would make a note of the top 25 played tracks from my iPod before I try and synch them (and probably find it loses everything!)

As You Turn to Go - The 6ths featuring Momus (aka Stephin Merritt - aka Magnetic Fields)
The Matter (Of Our Discussion) - Boom Bip featuring Nina Nastasia
A Long Time Ago - David Ford
Tarmac - Hazeldine
Tardis soundclip
Drama Queens - Dan Sartain
Don't Blink - The Doctor [soundclip]
Last of the Timelords - The Doctor [soundclip]
Bohemian Rhapsody - Cud [Cover of Queen]
Scooby's House - Larry Nightingale [soundclip from Blink]
Us - Regina Spektor
100,000 Fireflies - The Magnetic Fields featuring Susan Anway
They'll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day - Ballboy
Pull the Wires From the Wall - The Delgados
Two Hearts - The Doctor [soundclip]
Silent All These Years - Fay Wong [cover of Tori Amos]
1 - Joy Zipper
Sing Songs Along - Tilly and the Wall
John Smith was... - The Doctor [soundclip from Human Nature]
This Watch is me - The Doctor
About Today - The National
It Dawned on Me - Calla
Gallifrey - The Doctor [soundclip]
Reverse the Polarity - The Doctor [soundclip]
13 Angels Standing Guard 'round The Side of Your Bed - A Silver Mount Zion

I can explain the soundclips from me putting together various playlists featuring selected soundclips from the lovely Doctor Who series! But otherwise I'm struck by the largely melancholic tone of many of the tracks. Still at least there are some upbeats in there (in music if not lyrics)

I think I am back - but give me a little time...

Hurrah! I have music playing on my shiny new mac!

And breathe.

I am however a bit cross I couldn't save all my info (ratings etc) and that some duplicate stuff seems to have dragged itself into my music folders. I think I can sort those. I hope.

In the meantime I may do some history posts to save some info for myself.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Shiny shiny mac mini

It's SO shiny!

OMG. It is SO shiny!

Okay, this is a bit freaky but I have a computer again! Not sure how I will get fully back up and running - what with the chaos my house is in and the need to sort out my external drive etc to transfer files.... but... OMG! Shiny shiny!

I need to calm down.

George, Marie: I am TOTALLY blaming you for this!

BTW anyone spot that those last gasp Hamlet in London tickets went a bit quick? Am amazed it last 3 hours frankly.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm not blog-dead yet

Still here. Still computer-less.


Still, on upside have had various friends see Hamlet and report back very favourably; the world has not ended (yet?); the weekly short interviews with Dougie Henshall for Primeval are delicious (and his efforts to mask any extreme Scottish accent for the benefit of the BBC America viewers seems to be diminishing week by week); Aberdeen was - mostly - sunny (sorry George and Sonia, it's the impact we have!) and thoroughly enjoyable with much music and food and movie fun; and....

...well, shucks, I think I'm missing blogging. I'm certainly missing you guys out there. And communicating eclectic post topics to ya'll. But I'm in a real quandry about what to do with replacing the computer: my (limited) use of Vista has made me want to tear my head off; I can't really afford an apple mac - or the long wait to get one because of the extra cost; and I have hardly begun to face up to the consequences of my non-full backup with re-setting up on ANY system... meh and MEH.

I miss you guys.

On the other hand I have just managed to reach the end of S2 of Battlestar Galactica (new version). Yes, late I know. But the plan is to catch up in time for the release of s4 on dvd (I have s3 still to watch).

Life goes on. 37 more sleeps till Stratford...