Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spotify mixing and listening to music online

For a variety of reasons, connecting my pod to my computer and updating my Last Fm has been poorly managed of late; moreover, I haven't been listening to music much on the computer (and I can't seem to get last fm to auto-log-in each time I switch on the computer anyway).

Hence my Last fm profile looks woefully outdated to my listening habits and I can't imagine Spotify - if I got it - would manage much better.

Still, doesn't mean I can't get some sense of how Spotify culd keep broadening my musical horizons if the Spotiseek system of mix-tape lists is anything to go by.

Skuds seems impressed as well.

The end of Upshares on BBC Radio 4

I'd always enjoyed the business news slot with Nils Blythe and Eddie Mair on the BBC Radio 4 PM programe.

But when they sought a name for the slot and acquired the moniker 'Upshares, Downshares' (in honour of the esteemed British TV series), little did they anticipate what they would spawn. It was a regular feature of my journey home from work, marking I had left more or less on time (a major point). It almost makes it a shame that with the recession 'officially' over the 'Upshares' slot has come to an end ...

However, the history of 'Upshares' - and most importantly the music that it acquired - can be accessed in all its glory at the PM Blog.

Best of all, listen to the 'Theramin version in the style of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop' and spot why that especially made me smile!

They're asking for donations to Children in Need from those enjoying the music.

Monday, January 25, 2010

In Memory: Widge the cat 1994-2010

I know it is the logic of life that nothing lives for ever. But it doesn't mean it hurts less. Thursday night, our beloved cat Widge (initially named Minnie [the Minx] for her fur-raised, teeth-showing animosity to humanity) was sat on our laps - snuggling, purring, contented. Over the years we had loved her into loving us, as much as a cat ever can on their terms.

We'll miss having her around.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nottingham power cut

This would explain why one of my students came in completely confused why the power in her student house had completely gone (it wasn't 'someone forgot to pay the bill').

Apparently the sub-station blew up.

{Note: examples of Nottingham 'humour' in the comments at ThisIsNottingham article on the power outage ...}

BTW - not affected here.

Decisions, decisions: Airbrushed Cameron

Genius range of posters at

I'm just not going to dirty my blogsite with his airbrushed face.

Go have a laugh and then work out what the F you are going to personally do to try and make sure these destructive airbrushed ****s don't get in to power this year (or any other year).

Hat tip to Mars Hill because I'm clearly some weeks behind the times on finding out about such things myself.

As far as things stand, regardless of everything that has happened since 1997, I'm with David Tennant. I cannot, could never, bring myself to vote Conservative.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Norm talks about distinguishing between reading and re-reading, with a view to praising the experience of reading as an act (taking Nabakov somewhat to task).

Given the Rullsenberg / Cloud household acquires books at a ridiculous rate - far faster than we can manage reading them, though we read voraciously as well - I have to be in favour of reading new things, even as I often go back and re-read old favourites.

I'm still chuckling at David Tennant's explanation for selecting "A la recherche du temps perdu" as his Desert Island book: if he's on the island too long, will he start re-reading it I wonder?!

All change - blog format changes

To cheer me up - stupid trapped nerve seemed to ease Sunday to yesterday, only to snap back on me last night - I've done a site revamp.

So farewell the long detailed list I originally proposed for Rullsenberg Rules:
For random discussion of things --- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, Green Wing, Spaced, The X-Files, Peggy Guggenheim, Douglas Henshall, David Tennant, New York, graphic novels, Pulp and all manner of assorted filmic, musical and literary goodies.
These thoughts and interests are all still true, but a more general summary I felt was more accurate.

Same as usual I suspect in terms of content, but let's see how it goes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on top TV: the Guardian Top 50 TV drama shows and missing hobby-horse choices

Earlier in the week, the Guardian TV Club provided its list of the Top 50 TV drama shows of all time.

The list in full - with my own notes on whether I watched it [avidly, inconsistently], can recall it being on TV, haven't yet got around to it, or wouldn't really be bothered:

1. The Sopranos - watched, fairly consistently, til C4 started mucking around with the schedules and channels
2. Brideshead Revisited - barely recalled if I am honest
3. Our Friends in the North - avidly consumed and vividly stuck in my memory
4. Mad Men - *whistles* erm, haven't got around to this yet, for shame!
5. A Very Peculiar Practice - recalled as weird and grown-up
6. Talking Heads - watched some, but at the time felt to be an acquired taste. I think I needed to be older to appreciate
7. The Singing Detective - recognised it as important but didn't watch
8. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit - watched
9. State of Play - gripped from start to (rather disappointing) finish. Since it stars the god-like Bill Nighy, it could do no wrong
10. Boys From the Blackstuff - recalled but unsure how much I watched it at the time
11. The West Wing - duh. Addicted. But C4 did nothing to help with its scheduling.
12. Twin Peaks - watched seasons 1 with Neil, lost the plot in s2 (rather like those making it)
13. Queer as Folk - I knew it was on, and have since seen lots of bits of the episodes, but for shame I still haven't watched the whole thing.
14. The Wire - it is an acquired taste, and probably one worth acquiring. Undoubtedly brilliant, ruined only slightly by the adulation heaped upon it.
15. Six Feet Under - again, ruined by C4 scheduling. Great whilst I watched it, but didn't pursue.
16. How Do You Want Me? - erm... great cast, but I'm not aware I ever watched this
17. Smiley's People - didn't knowingly watch this
18. House of Cards - addicted to all three series. I couldn't possibly comment any further.
19. Prime Suspect - interestingly the first and I think third series (with Peter Capaldi in a significant role) are the ones that have stayed with me most.
20. Bodies - I know many who loved this, but I never got into it. (see below for one reason why)
21. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - I think I watched it, but it hasn't stuck in my memory
22. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - I have a deep awareness of every episode which over-steps nerdy.
23. Cracker - Gripping and uncomfortable viewing at times, but
24. Pennies From Heaven - I was a bit too young to be watching, so just awareness at the time.
25. Battlestar Galactica - though the original version has its addicts, the new version hit a whole new level of awesome. Still rate the mini-series which preceded the series proper as some of the best TV ever. I haven't worked my way through the final season yet though.
26. Coronation Street - never really a soap fan, but had passages where I watched regularly.
27. The Jewel in the Crown - watched, with my parents
28. The Monocled Mutineer - half watched. Knew it was important
29. Clocking Off - watched the first series, and then lost track.
30. Inspector Morse - I must have seen all of them, yes?
31. This Life - Neil got me into this and we were slightly ahead of the repeats curve before everyone got one board with the show. It still tears my gut to recall Milly's furious punch on which the show ended.
32. Band of Brothers - never watched it, never felt a need to watch.
33. Hill Street Blues - addicted as I grew up.
34. The Prisoner - watched on DVD. Insane stuff - in a good way. I think.
35. St Elsewhere - Dipped in an out.
36. The L Word - never watched it and despite friends attempts to pull me in, I actually don't think I'm that bothered.
37. The Shield - Rev/Views may fall out with me for not having watched this avidly. I've caught some parts of some series (mostly with Forest Whittaker) but it didn't stick with me across the scheduling.
38. Brookside - never a fan, but occasional bits caught over the years. I recognise its importance.
39. 24 - series one, a work of astonishing invention. s2, a little more. S3 onwards, no Sky TV. Are there enough hours in the year to work through this many box-sets?
40. The Twilight Zone - of its time, a classic. Some of them STILL give the heebees.
41. Pride and Prejudice - I didn't watch this at the time, but somehow feel I have watched it since. A frothy reinvention of a classic.
42. Red Riding - bleak, bleak and more bleak. A difficult one to enjoy re-watching.
43. Oz - important, dark, violent. Should have watched it, but haven't.
44. The Street - erm, haven't actually watched it
45. The X-Files - I've mostly lost heart with such conspiracy-theory nonsense but it remains utterly watchable and was genius in its time (til Chris Carter got an 'its-all-about-God'-complex)
46. Bleak House - Loved it. one of the best recent Dickens adaptations for sure.
47. The Sweeney - watched it, even though it was 'naughty', whenever I could. Ground-breaking in its day, but Life and Mars highlighted how far we have come from those days
48. EastEnders - really? maybe I just don't watch soaps enough (at all these days) to get the importance
49. Shameless - tried to watch it, hated it with a fiery passion.
50. Grange Hill - important in its day, whenever that was. I watched it through school for sure.

Within two days, there was a piece following up the list acknowledging the vociferous complaints regarding omissions: for example, how could a list of top TV miss out Deadwood?

Missing shows and personal hobby-horses
Whatever criteria you use to create a Top 50 TV drama shows of all time - e.g. influential, ground-breaking, popular - to have a top FIFTY and have no sight of Doctor Who seems to be rather missing some kind of pretty crucial point. Perhaps they couldn't get past the idea that it was something other than drama as a genre, but that's just weak as an argument.

We'll let it go because otherwise we would be here moaning a very long time.

Amongst those the Guardian acknowledged (in responding to its readers' comments) were the following:
Edge of Darkness
I, Claudius

...and in brief:
Northern Exposure
Holding on
Homicide: Life on the Street

So what of the missing treats? From personal viewing, I'd definitely hold up Edge of Darkness from those first missing items - and I'd support the others as reasonable inclusions. Of the latter six though, I'm more ambivalent: GBH, possibly; Homicide - Life on the Street, certainly. And from a personal taste, Northern Exposure (especially its early series) and Holding On (even if it was 'Our Friends in the South') are worthy of places.

Here are just a few items I think are missing (*beware of possible spoilers on links*):
The Beiderbecke Affair - the trilogy if I can, though the first was the most wonderful
Cardiac Arrest - a show so brilliant it meant I always felt Bodies was a shallow follow-on
Casanova - perhaps the most perfect candy-box piece of funny emotional drama that RTD has produced.
ER - in its own way just as important as M*A*S*H* (also excluded) or St Elsewhere
The Kingdom - the Danish TV series. BONKERS stuff.
Life on Mars - for bringing us Gene Hunt.
The Sandbaggers - political and savvy. Great characters.
Spiral - we'll try and avoid getting into the UK/US-centric nature of the list, but it really did need to reflect a broader televisual world
Takin' Over the Asylum - funny and dark; the Psychos of its day.
Tutti Frutti - still brilliant after all this time. Great music.
A Very British Coup - thrilling stuff; the PM Broadcast when he goes off-script still makes me squeal with delight.

I'll also acknowledge some very much personal choices like Funland, NCIS, Middlemarch, Our Mutual Friend, and The Vice. Being Human will definitely make a future list I'm sure. And I'm personally deciding to treat the inclusion of 'Buffy' in the mainlist as the Whedonverse as a whole: Angel was certainly worthy of its own inclusion in my books, but I can understand its spin-off status. Firefly and Dollhouse are worthy as occasionally successful incarnations of Whedon's brilliant mind.

Any other thoughts people? I've probably missed a lot of gems, especially from pre-1980 and across the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trapped sciatic nerve


Flying can sometimes be the thing that tips your body's sedentary work/lifestyle over the edge.

Living on a hill that is also a school route does also not help in winter (icy paths from 'wheeeeeeeeeee' skidding school children). Heck, the hill is enough to throw out most recommended excercise processes - unless sliding for 10 mins up/down the hill till you reach flatter ground where you can THEN (just about) exercise from sounds reasonable.

Sorry. I'm just grumbling. I need to more exercise; I'm aching whether stood, sat or laying down, and work involves mostly sitting talking with people.

Mumble, mumble. Grumble, grumble. I really should not feel sorry for myself. Please ignore me. The iPlayer defying us trying to watch Being Human last night did not help.

Friday, January 08, 2010

"I don't want to go" - oh honey, we understand...: Inevitably Spoilery Thoughts on the Ends of Time, the Tenth Doctor and the RTD era

After the zzzzzzzzzzz state of Wednesday evening, and waking up at 5am yesterday (Thursday - yes, reassuring myself of the day is still an issue), I really wasn't hopeful that I'd be up to watching The End of Time before the weekend. However, after dinner last night I felt the need and so after seeing Helen Lisette and catching up with her I settled down with the cat to watch the Tenth Doctor's finale. Cloud was busy balancing his bank account post-holiday, but happily has declared he "wants to watch it" and so will sit beside me this weekend for a re-run.

On which note, pre-DVD box set release on Monday, all praise to the power of HLW for her magnificent efforts on DVD recording which I believe captured pretty much ALL the Tennant-related appearances over Xmas and the New year. Needless to say, haven't watched everything yet!

**SPOILERS** (for whichever regions of the world have not yet had screenings/downloaded the 2009 specials)

I am however assuming that unless you have been living in a cave you are aware that David Tennant was leaving the role. Sorry if that's spoilered you on that front.

Things I liked (I'll save remarks on Tennant til later in this post)

  • Bernard Cribbens - just bloody brilliant. I mean, I can hardly think of a scene he did in these two episodes that I didn't like; hell, feel utterly wrung out by I'd say. A man of genius performing talent.
  • Catherine Tate - the ending Donna Noble was given in Journey's End divided people terribly. I still feel horribly ambivalent, but understand that her 'death', the death of what she had enjoyed, become, was heartbreaking in a way that a physical death may not have been. And that there would be minor echoes fluttering away inside her as shown here was wonderful to see: the fail-safe protection worked for me.
  • Companion farewells - okay, I'm gonna start losing it again if I think too hard on those, even though I suspect some felt this dragged on too long [I didn't btw]. I'd totally managed to avoid knowing who was in these eps and almost squealed when funky fighting Marfa showed up with Mickey (awh, at last she got rid of the invisible fiance of invisibleness!). Then I felt the prick of tears when Sarah Jane's face fell when she realised this was going to be the last time she saw (this) Doctor [brilliantly done btw: props to Lis Sladen for capturing so much in a slight droop of her mouth]. Captain Jack got a typically Mos Eisley Cantina scene, hooking him up with recuperated Midshipman Alonso [Torchwood recruit? can Tovey handle TWO series!?]: this was perhaps the only reunion/farewell I wasn't sure worked, which did make me feel frustrated. But then Jack did end up in a helluva bad place emotionally by end of Children of Earth, and perhaps the Doctor giving Jack some companionship was a fitting end to their connection. And then there was Joan Redfern's descendant doing the book signing based on the preserved Journal of Impossible Things and I sobbed loudly (especially at the Verity Newman credit). And the Doctor makes his promised final visit to the Noble family, ensuring the newly-weds financial stability with a lottery ticket. He then 'goes back to the start', to New Year 2005, to wish Billie Piper and her still-not-quite-settled-in-teeth a 'great year'. Was it really only Spring 2005 when all this kicked off? Oh, all the things that have happened since then...

Things I liked less / this year RTD has mostly been watching...

  • Masters, Masters everywhere, with jet-pack leaping capabilities - dude, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions SUCKED big time. There was possibly one 90-minute long, perhaps three-quarters-of-a-brilliant movie to be constructed from those two overblown sequels. And as much as I like John Simm, his bleach-cut hoodie-look and mania was just a TAD overblown . Much like the Matrix sequels. (I'm restraining here: I suspect others will have been much more vociferous in their reactions!)
  • The Stargate thingummy mending machine - let me state that I liked Stargate (the movie) an awful lot [James Spader... floppy hair... drool] and I liked Stargate SG-1 (TV show) a great deal. I liked the effects here. But it was a bit 'WTF?' for me.
  • Timelords - I thought they were dead? Not time-locked. *shrug* I don't get it.
  • The Doctor's rant before he takes over the radiation chamber from Wilf about 'his importance'. Shades of 'Waters of Mars' but not handled nearly as well.
  • Running - I know that historically there has always been a lot of running about in DW, but teeth-gritting running can be overdone.
  • Info-dumping flashbacks - respect your audience. Anyone likely to be turning in for these finales probably DIDN'T need all the Master-related back history from S3. But this could just be my over-attentive awareness of the show and subsequent annoyance showing through.
  • Music - oh dear. It did get a bit heavy-handed for me by the end.

David Tennant: from (The Pudsey Cut-Away and) The Christmas Invasion to The End of Time

I haven't yet had chance to read the no-doubt lavish attention to details and the emotional outpouring of reactions regarding Tennant's departure. So excuse me if I end up repeating or echoing any of the remarks and paeans to his performance as the Tenth Doctor. Has it been good? Did he get 'a good ending'?

Yes, I believe so, yes. I'll invoke for the umpteenth time Emily's open letter to David Tennant from August 2006 for how wonderful his rising star ascendancy has been, with added direction to his magnificent turn as Hamlet (and as Berowne) to remind people that he remains a wonderful actor. Not every episode of Doctor Who since his arrival in has deserved the talent he brought to the screen, but he has never been less than capable of showing his great depth as an actor and ability to turn his emotions on a sixpence.

Since his first exciting, giddying appearance in the brief post-'The Parting of the Ways' Children in Need mini-episode, Tennant has delighted and thrilled as the Tenth Doctor. Heck, he hardly appears in The Christmas Invasion but when he does he enchants the screen. Mercurial, driven by emotions, passionate, funny: in of themselves none of these characteristics were necessarily uncharted territory for The Doctor. But to bring them all together - AND to be SO sexy, SO often: that was new. The First Time-Phwoard indeed. But without his performance skills, all that quirkily appealing sexiness would have been as nothing.

Tennant brought in a new audience for Doctor Who; something that disturbed some of the old guard fans of the series who disliked the direction the show was taking in hinting at sexuality and human emotions. Pah. Sure, some of those who came for la Tennant will abandon the show now he's gone (btw did the Virgin catch-up BBC iPlayer actually call him La David Tennant in its preview screen or did I imagine that?!) I'll be sad if the audience figures plummet too much for Matt Smith's turn [first thoughts on his brief appearance at the end of this post], but there has always been some fluctuation with new Doctors arriving and departing. And for a significant number of those who were drawn to DW by Tennant's arrival, it became a gateway to (re-)familiarising themselves with the older stories.

So how did The End of Time treat Tennant? Pretty well I thought. When I first saw the trailer sequence from episode one on CIN night I squirmed in my sofa, unsure how I felt about the tone and its frivolity. Seeing it in context somehow actually made it work better, its jarring devil-may-care Doctor and his disoncerted shift to seeing something wrong with the Oods' progress making more sense on second viewing. But this was a rare moment of discordance and mostly, perhaps apart from the rant before saving Wilf, Tennant's performance worked really well.

Whilst the 'strapped to a chair, bound and gagged' scene* drew the clearest influence from Tennant's Hamlet, certain tones, delivery of lines echoed elements of his bravura performance as the Danish Prince. This was, obviously, a good thing and was best shown in many of his scenes with Wilf, reflecting on age, death and the nature of mortality for a Time Lord. The scene in the cafe - brilliant. Ten's choking tears were beautifully done. His anguish, his refusal/taking of the gun on the Vinvocci spaceship - brilliant: "I'd be proud if you were my dad".

There were also wonderful flashes of his wit and ability to shift gear to delight: the move from "angst to smugness (and the little wink) sent me into raptures at home" -- I quote Helen Lisette because she utterly nails my exact emotions at that point. How he managed to convey so much from his scarcely visible face was breathtaking.

And when Ten finally, staggeringly, falls into the TARDIS and the warm glow takes over his body, I suspect a large number of viewers answered with heartfelt chokes the line of "I don't want to go". Yes, I did say out loud 'awh honey, we don't want you to go either'.

The RTD era

All series inevitably reflect their time, the social attitudes, the limitations/possibilities of effects and demands of audiences and channels: so these episodes written under the controlling vision of RTD - with many BY him - reflect our times. The kitchen sink - sometimes multiple kitchen sinks - were scattered across the visual landscape of Doctor Who, and like a small child picking at scabs, sometimes he just couldn't let something go. Over-written, overblown - yes, they could be that under his aegis.

But overall I'm thankful: thankful he brought back this show I had loved and wanted to love again. He brought others along for the ride too - new fans, new types of fans, new ways of thinking about fans - and it WAS good. It wasn't always perfect. It wasn't always what fans wanted (old or new fans), but it was a wonderful journey, vibrant and reflective of its time and at its best it dazzled.

And the future? Well, as my newly picked up copy of Doctor Who magazine makes visually explicit, it is a new era. A new Doctor. A new point of view. I did chuckle at Smith's floppy hair-tugging worried shriek of "I'm a girl!" which gives me hope for an entertaining ride later this year. Will Smith be able to supplant Tennant as 'my Doctor'? Not a hope. But then - in a totally different way - I never expected Tom Baker to be replaced as the Doctor with whom I most identified and who was conjured to mind on thinking of the show. But like others I don't think that this young a Doctor will be able to stir the frisson of sexual delight that Tennant achieved. Will I still watch? - of course I shall, and I wish Moffatt and the team all the best in convincing a new generation of fans to follow the Doctor across the stars.

* Please do not talk to me about how the sight of Tennant strapped down made me squirm (**fans self rapidly**)

Further notes - other reviews (added 11 Jan 2009)

Anna Waits - says a farewell to Ten/Tennant

Behind the Sofa -- Tom Dickinson writing such an impassioned review challenges Stuart Ian Burns as my favourite Doctor Who reviewer on BTS (because I have to hat-tip a writer who so unashamedly stands his ground as a 2007-to date fan of the series)

Medium Rob - acknowledges the nonsense with knobs on of the finale with the best chorus line ever "That's all forgotten now, because we're on another story."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dropping approximately 30 degrees...

Woo! When we landed yesterday, temperatures had hit the dizzy heights of 1 degree Celsius!


We left London in a blizzard. Looking at the BBC pictures of the UK snowfall, I long for the warmth of our holiday weather (though currently our destinations, apart from LA, are experiencing mostly rainfall).

The cat has just about forgiven us for leaving her in the capable caring hands of Helen and our neighbours (despite her ravaging them in our absence).

And I still haven't watched Dr. Who - so keep your comments spoiler free til I let you know I've watched em!

I need my attention to be a little more focused before doing battle with RTD's finales for Ten.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The long Monday - 4th Jan 2010

Today is the longest day.

No, really it is.

It's 45 hours long.

We spend 23 of them in New Zealand (sadly a lot of the afternoon and evening in airports - first Christchurch and then Auckland).

We then fly for approximately 12 hours (it could be as long as 13).

We land at Los Angelese around 2pm --- on the same day 4th January 2010.

So we then have the remaining 10 hours in the USA.


All being well, Santa Monica tonight.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Walking (and sitting) in Oxford, South Island New Zealand - 3rd Jan 2010

Rullsenberg sitting in Oxford
Rullsenberg sitting on another Oxford seat

Farmer's market day and (as it is the first Sunday of the month) also Craft market day in Oxford. Perfect for a blowy walk as the sun pops in and out. I'm going to miss this warmth and sunlight!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mona Vale and a Gondola ride with the family - Jan 2nd 2010

Mona Vale Christchurch, NZ
View from the Gondola at Christchurch towards New Brighton Pier

We had morning tea at lovely Mona Vale and then the family all drove over to the Gondola so that Neil's mum could finally get a ride up and see over Christchurch and the volanic bays of the Banks peninsula towards Lyttleton and Diamond Harbour and out across the east beaches of Christchurch.

A most lovely morning and lunchtime.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The downside of starting 2010 with 33 degrees of heat

... is that we know we will soon be coming home to temperatures approximately 30 degrees lower than this!

Ah well, at least we ended New Year's Day 2010 on a glorious dramatic sunset.

Rata Street Sunset Jan 1st 2010