Sunday, April 30, 2006

Taking a stand: The Euston Manifesto

I don't do this sort of thing lightly, partly because it isn't in the nature of this blog to be a significant forum on political issues (though I refuse to let that stop me having occasional bursts of indignation on political matters). But I've spent a good while now letting the debates and ambivalences about The Euston Manifesto sink in and I've decided that the reasons against me signing are not as compelling as those for. I don't think we've got time to wait around for the perfect political manifesto, and I really do not feel I can write one myself. So I'm signing this one because it's as close as I'm going to get in this lifetime to something I believe in.

And because debate about these things is sure as hell worth having and preserving as a fundamental demonstration of our democratic freedom.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hmm... that speech sounds familiar...

Little fat kid becomes a hero = Russell T. Davies' dream

Multiple viewings of the Buffy/Angel thwarted love arc = Russell T/ Davies' favourite TV

Sarah-Jane Smith = Russell T. Davies' generation of Doctor Who watching

Yep. Check, check and check.

Bloody hell that was good.

A bed full of books

We've just moved the contents of two large bookcases in preparation for the mythical builder coming on Tuesday, next week, some time before the end of the year, next year, before TEOTWAWKI...

... and with the shelves neatly laid out on the bed it looked rather magnificent.

Photograph by Cloudy Neil: a bed full of fiction books

Guy Delisle: Pyongyang - A Journey in North Korea

Cloudy Neil got this excellent graphic novel last week whilst I was away in Canterbury.

He's gonna hate me for doing this, but I have just read it ahead of him. And it's excellent.

It's about a French Canadian animator and his stay in North Korea.

It's also a graphic novel, and a bloody good one too.

Go buy it (perhaps from here).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

How to see your town differently

Walk with someone you care about deeply, with eyes more open than ever before, avoiding the bits that you know will not show it in its best light.

And truly it WILL be beautiful.

Wish I lived in London...?


Thanks to those great sources of information, I can seeth about the impossibility of getting to London and back on a working night.

Hurumph. Mind, by the time any such announcement is made, I'd suspect that getting through to the box-office would be a little challenging.


If someone goes can they tell us all about it?

Of all the comments on the Prescott farce...

... Marie of course gets out one of the best. A fine treatise on ugliness, sexual appeal and nightmares.

Warning: you may not ever sleep again after reading her remarks on a certain tennis player...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The bad animal

John presents a couple of examples to almost make you despair of humanity.

Thankfully he has also given us another shot of the wonderful bookcases he has (full of even more wonderful books).


Talk about backing yourself into a corner.

On my first full day back I had a staff meeting and ended up volunteering myself to write a second draft of a VERY important document (I know I've mentioned it off-blog to some of you, but suffice to say it could be have a national implication for us).

So on top of my usual workload and return from vacation, I've been slogging in extra hours trying to track down statistics, rephrase and edit my bosses writing for her, and please all elements of our complex department about their role in the document. So "PHEW" is the word, as I have now handed it off to my boss to work on tonight since it has to be submitted very soon.

Why exactly, in the face of the silence of others, is it always me who gallantly puts herself forward to assist? Am I genetically programmed to be over-committed? (And yet still feel like I don't work half as hard as I should be doing...?)

No answers on postcards please, but if you can send round Dougie or David (T that is; too many Davids on the scene) to provide a comforting hug I'd be awful grateful. Since Cloudy Neil is on a training course at Hinkley each day this week, I'm many more hours from getting a comforting hug from him, so something to tide me over would be very nice...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why "Tooth and Claw" was a very 'phwoar' episode of Doctor Who

I could list some of the reasons Rob Buckley gave for why it was just a great episode of classic Who-ness, but in terms of the 'phwoar' factor it had to be glorious ease with which Tennant both suitably adopted and then slid out of using his Scottish voice.

I mean, I do understand completely why they didn't go with him using his native accent throughout the series, but there is just something lush about his speech patterns. And it was SOOO well done how he switched from one to another.


And next week of course we have 'Giles', Sarh-Jane Smith AND K-9. Almost makes it worth having to strip a room this weekend ready for the new bathroom being built (it will be sometime before installation!)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Home (at last!)

Canterbury Kent (as opposed to NZ): another BAAS conference over. Phew. Finally finished faffing with the paper and delivered it okay (despite technical difficulties with videos and OHPs etc...)

Also despite plans to the contrary due to jet-lag I did NOT manage to keep to the no/limited alcohol rule. So spectacularly badly did I break this that, within 30 mins of finding out my lovely colleague and fellow-BAAS junkie Annie was in the next room to me, we were in the bar and drinking wine. It was an odd conference (I'm not about to make the mistake of last year in providing any details of the papers here - and you've already had the conference panel list anyway), but its always good fun to see academics dancing, especially when you are safely in the bar able to mock them with abandon.

Anyway, a good time was had by all/most. And we avoided at least one major incident by strategic relocation of our gang out of range of potential conflict (NB it is never good to have fiesty feminists seated near lecherous lothario male academics who are busy pawing at colluding young female academics and gawping down their cleavage. It creates just a little tension! If you're going to engage in conference flirtation or liaison, at least have the good grace to have some taste in your chosen conference compadre...) And with bar-vaulting, repeated discussion of favourite films, and the inaugural BAAS conference paper of my colleague, it was a memorable conference in lots of ways. At times surreal (drunkenly group listening to an i-Pod: note, we did not have speakers...) we made full use of the kitchenette areas to continue drink and conversation till approximately 2am each night. What more can you ask for!!!

And, you gotta love an occasion where on the opening night you can spend an hour in the company of one of our most lovely BAAS members delivering an inciteful and informative paper on Depression-era songs and Woody Guthrie that included some wonderful performances of said songs. Of course, this meant he wasn't just hawking a suitcase home with him afterwards, but also a fiddle, banjo and guitar. But man it was worth it! Go Will!

So, now I am home.

And what do I find Cloud has bought me? The Doctor Who Adventures magazine. Because I am of course 10 years old (NB anyone who has actually seen the DT sticker with it and the second listed caption sticker next to it will understand my gritted teeth glare at Cloud's over-perceptive imagination for getting it for me...)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stripes missing?

The problem with being the photographer is that you rarely get in front of the camera...

Apologies. But hope this gives a little taster.

Photo by Rullsenberg: Lisa in stripey socks in Christchurch

Right, I'm off to Canterbury - that's not the plains of New Zealand, but the south east of England. See ya Sunday or Monday folks.

(Anna: urgent information and gossip and thoughts of yours are more than welcome to be added in my absence!)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Identity Crisis: It seems I'm actually Dawn...

Thanks to Jo Salmon, I'm now having a real identity crisis about my alter ego Rullsenberg (who, of course, you know is the wonderful Willow). Still, looking at these figures - and ignoring what a whine-fest the Dawn character was in her initial stages - I guess I can live with the results...
Dawn Summers
54% amorality, 72% passion, 63% spirituality, 81% selflessness

Dawn is a person driven by her love for her friends and her desire to make a difference. Perhaps you are, too. You're willing to do whatever is necessary to do what is right for those you care about, and sometimes this can get you in a little bit of trouble.

Most of all, however, you have a heart of gold.


...especially wearing those leather trousers eh...?!

You can take the test here.

Apparently it's someone's birthday today


What never fails to make me laugh though is that this image now comes top of the google image search...

Wonder why?

David Tennant as Jimmy Porter with Kelly Reilly as Allison Porter in

Right, that's me for a while... I must get on and 'finish' my BAAS paper...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another blogroll addition: Jo Salmon

I can't think why it has taken me so long to do this, since the lovely Jo has commented here before, but prompted by her Easter visit to my site I'm adding her to the rollcall.

The likelihood she needs the publicity to be gained via me is small, but she's always a good read (and has a gloriously eclectic library as well!)

Pots and kettles

Sight and Sound (not exactly forthcoming on its web version) this month - that is for the May 2006 issue - carries a review of the film Firewall, starring Harrison Ford.

It carries this priceless line:
"The tone is set in an early scene which establishes that Harrison Ford, sporting a seriously poor haircut, is in charge of computer security at a Seattle bank..."
Now you may not think this a particularly stunningly amusing line. Until you realise that in talking about Ford's haircut you are actually being told this by a man who wears THIS haircut *


* term used in its loosest sense.

Normblog's poll: the state of names and the songs of the states

Norm has had a lovely idea for a post/poll but in my current exhausted condition I can't really do justice to it. So instead here is a quote from it:
So what I'm asking you for is your favourite names of the states of the US. That is different from your favourite states. You have five votes each, to distribute to the names of five US states. No need to rank them. And with your entry I'm asking that you submit one song lyric that includes the name of one your chosen states.
With Sufjan Stevens in mind, this has to be a good thing to come back to when I'm more coherent coherant able to write...

What I saw and did on my holidays

Coming back to grey grainy England, the first thing I think of is just how spectacularly bright the landscape of New Zealand is on the eye. It is just dazzling. And although our first couple of days were also quite grey, by just a few days in it was almost consistently bright and sunny. It's like the spectrum of colours just got turned up to 11.

Photo taken by Rullsenberg: The view from Hilltop to Akaroa bay, South Island, New Zealand

This is the view from Hilltop to the town of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula just beyond Christchurch (a frighteningly twisty road to get to it mind... you can see that it was a volcano originally when you look at the geography of the area! [try Google Earth])

We spent much of our time with Cloudy's family who live in a picturesque village called Oxford. For that alone, it was a great trip: being separated by continents (plural) it was so wonderful just to see them, even if having a 9 year old girl riding piggyback on him was probably not top of Cloud's list of things to do less than 12 hours after landing from 30 hours worth of travel! We went to the A&P show in Oxford to see sheep-shearing and other assorted Agricultural and Pastoral activities. We spent time in Christchurch and wandering the visual delights of Hagley Park (some of the time in Christchurch was sadly enforced by Neil's dad being poorly, but we would have gone there anyway).

We took the TranzScenic train across to Greymouth on the west coast: the journey there was indescribably beautiful.

Photo by Rullsenberg: view from the TranzScenic train

However, Greymouth is exactly that (grey) as it overlooks the Tasman sea. Still dramatic though.

Photo by Rullsenberg: the Tasman Sea at Greymouth, South Island New Zealand

Whilst over there we also visited Shantytown courtesy of Kea Tours and the lovely Helen for a taste of the gold-mining era that shaped the west coast of South Island. On the way we took a drive through both the original bush and reforested areas around Greymouth, but at Shantytown the biggest laugh was doing this.

Photo taken on behalf of Rullsenberg: a bar-girl and her boss (aka Rullsenberg and Cloud dressing up in Shantytown, New Zealand)

Of course, coming all the way to NZ we had to go to the beach. For us this was the lovely Woodend beach, just 40 minutes drive from Oxford. Wow. Coming up from the trees to see the Pacific Ocean (or the Specific as I kept calling it) was so thrilling.

Photo by Rullsenberg: view to Woodend Beach, New Zealand

Photo by Rullsenberg: Woodend Beach, the Pacific Ocean

Still, pretty much all that got knocked into the proverbial cocked-hat by our final big trip of the vacation: a visit to the central parts of South Island to see Lake Tekapo,

Photo by Rullsenberg: Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

(And can I also recommend the stunning Tekapo House for accommodation? A view to the Lake and a welcome that makes you wish home was like that).

and on to Lake Pukaki

Photo by Rullsenberg: Cloud at Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Photo by Cloud: Lisa Rullsenberg at Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Photo by Rullsenberg on the move: Lake Pukaki, New Zealand (and yes, the water is that blue - it's from the glaciers and this is a PhotoShop-free zone!)

before going on up towards Mount Cook amidst the Southern Alps. Chuffing breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains, with a blue sky with spectacular clouds to end all blue skies with spectacular clouds.

Photo by Rullsenberg: clouds and blue skies on the way to Mount Cook, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Photo by Rullsenberg: clouds over the Southern Alps, New Zealand

Next time we go, we're definitely getting up close to some of the glaciers.

Taking into account the exchange rate was well in our favour, we also ate very very well indeed. There must be some bloody good catering colleges in NZ 'cos the food was all round very good to mouth-wateringly memorable: Dooberry's in Akaroa was a particular highlight, but Canterbury House and Le Bon Bolli were also great, as was the exceptionally close-to-home Cafe 51 in Oxford itself.

So, did we have a good time? You betcha. Will we go back? Ditto.

What I watched on my holidays

You have to smile at the aptness of New Zealand TV scheduling that they would show this whilst I'm over there.

The grin on my fac was almost as priceless as the laughter of Cloud at my pleasure!

Just for Just Jane

When I checked in on the blog world whilst over in New Zealand (just the once I managed, sorry about that folks) I made a real hash of things. I didn't email everyone I should have or wanted to; I didn't even get to check up on all my blog friends sites.

So it was only when I got back to the computer today that I found that Jane has been having a really rough time of things. So I just wanted to send out a big bloglike hug to her, an apology for not making a better job of checking in whilst away, and an encouragement to say keep on keeping on gal 'cos we love your writing so much!

PS I've just been reading Phil's post on the song "Loss" by Mull Historical Society and it seemed very apt to apend a link here.

The new series of...?

Oh come on people; you didn't really think I would come back and NOT mention all the hoopla about the new Doctor Who series did you? But then again Anna has made such a good job of commenting...?

Ah well, here goes.

Given that I spent some very very VERY bad hours travelling on the Long Good Friday and had only gotten back to my house about 2.5 hours before the new series started, I think I did very well to even be conscious for the new series starting (it was more than Cloud managed, although in his defence he did noddingly keep waking up and saying "you are recording this aren't you?" ... further proof, if any were needed, that he really wasn't in the land of the living but a nice chance to say "yes, I will happily re-watch this again with you when jetlag has left the building")


I did watch "New Earth" and I have to say that Anna was totally right to say it felt like a mid-season episode (can I say add that some elements felt as if RTD had been watching "The Doctor Dances" on repeat and had absorbed a good deal of what worked from that and drawn it into his own writing?). So it was good but not fantastic; well, it was obviously considerably more fantastic than most stuff on TV, but like Brooker said in the Guardian (again, Anna got in ahead of me - humph, and here was me making the effort to make CB the first thing I read on the train home to Nottingham) it just wasn't up to what we wanted.

Still, there were several flashes of le Tennant ruffling, there was the whole getting wet thang (was it just me who longed for some shower gel and joining in?) and the Jarvis specs came out again. Sigh. Who am I kidding... I STILL loved it, flaws and all. Welcome back Doctor...

The first of (many?) updates

Ardeelee has moved on!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Guess who's back?

Yes, it is me! I am severely jet-lagged but gleeful from watching Doctor Who.

I'll catch you all later this weekend!

Thanks to Anna, who has kept you all so well entertained in my absence. You do want me back, right?!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Which celebrity do you not want to meet?

Because if you did, and you didn't get on, you'd be devastated. That's last Friday's Question of the Day over at Shakespeare's Sister, and it's a good one. As I couldn't find any comments from Rullsenberg Rules regulars, I thought I'd flag it up over here.

For me, the obvious one is Ben Folds. If he turned out to be a complete idiot I'd be pretty gutted. However, the fear is not in me so much that I don't want to meet him. He doesn't get away that easy.

Over to you...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Planet Earth

It was great wasn't it? Or was it? There's been a mini-backlash inflicted on this series, and I've got to say I'm not surprised. There were, of course, some wonderful sequences - the 'chandelier ballroom', that snow leopard chase, lions looking very out of place as they traipsed across a desert - but in between it all felt a bit pedestrian, as if trekking across Mongolia, or pot-holing for a week was too much for them, the wimps, and they didn't have any energy left for the other half hour of the programme. Ok, that's a tad harsh, but you see what I mean. As Sam Wollaston pointed out today, it was the commentary which let it down most often (though I doubt this is all down to David Attenborough, as Sam insists), peppered as it was with natural history cliches. I actually had a bet with my dad before Sunday's show aired to see who could get closest to guessing how minutes into the programme it would be before David asserted something along the lines of "Now this desert may look inhospitable, but actually it's teeming with life!". It was the first thing he said. Oh dear. Later, when the rains came, dad suggested it was only a matter of time before the phrase 'burst into life' came along. He was so right.

To pick holes in this undeniably brilliant series is picky to say the least but, let's face it, dear fellow bloggers, this is what we do. :)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Oh My God! I can't believe it! I've NEVER been this far away from home!

The Kaiser Chiefs got it right! (And the day that Cloud gets the lyrics right, there'll probably be a parade... 76 bloody trombones... At one point the line had more in common with Victor Meldrew: "Oh my god, I don't believe it...")

Yes, folks, it is moi, your absent hostess on the other side of the world.

Just dropped in to plough through all the comments that Anna's lovely posts have generated and cheer that indeed the lovely David has smiled on my schedule by putting the new series of Who on hold till the day of my return. Now I just have to get back on time and stay awake till 7.45pm (assuming 45 min episodes...) Sigh...

Anyway, just to say, thanks for all the wishes for a good holiday - the weather is erratic but we're fine and enjoying the break.

If I don't get back to post again before the return, it only remains for me to say I hope you're all saving the magazines and newspapers for me, recording anything on in my absence ("Ready, Steady, Cook" anyone???!!) and enjoying your alternative and stunningly excellent hostess Anna.