Sunday, May 31, 2009

Currently listening to Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand"

Guess which current trailer provoked me into listening to this excellent track?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Put on a happy face - thank you in advance BBC2

The recent RSC Hamlet cast to reunite for BBC two recording! Skippety dance!

Frankly, that sends my head to a very happy place because not only will the screening probably draw a significant proportion of those who went to see the play, but also those who missed it.

A dvd release to top things off would make the experience nigh perfect (and I suspect would provide a nice easy Xmas present for many who will need something to balance the Doctor Who departure episodes...)

hat tip to MediumRob for making my day (and probably other people too)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not been well

Sorry folks: I will be back on track at some point this week I hope but I keeled over poorly end of last week and didn't go near a computer until yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) when I charged my iPod.

A plea for forgiveness if I may be so bold?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tearjerkers Meme

Medium Rob knows how to make good memes and this week is tearjerker movies. Where to begin?! Well actually, I've visited this topic back in 2005 in Moments in Movies That Make Me Cry, and apart from 'The Lives of Others' that Marie eloquently writes about, the only other recent-ish movie I can actively recall making me cry was 'Goodbye Lenin' (another German movie).

Still, my problem in recalling titles is probably more to do with faulty recall and a default 'sob' setting in me than any lack of crying from watching stuff. Bought up on Saturday afternoon movies on TV (every one a bucket of tears) and trained in musicals and narrative songs, tears have been almost a way of life for me with popular entertainment. Mum was a weeper and so was I. It took me many years to work out that there even were any Bette Davis movies that didn't make me cry so adapted was I to her appearance symbolising the forthcoming tearfest. And I've frequently not only blubbed my way through movies but also afterwards in recounting movies to others or even reading about them.

Still, perhaps reflecting the nature of Medium Rob's blog and our incapability at sticking to boundaries, the comments at this meme have inevitably wandered into the realm of TV. Once you have that expansion in mind, additions start clocking up fast.

Let us first note that Joss Whedon and the team have caused the drowning of my sofa with my tears on innumerable occasions. Indeed, as regular readers will know, I simply cannot read the TWP synopsis review for the Buffy episode The Prom without bawling, and The Body reduced both me and George to tears just through us talking to each other on the phone about the episode (don't you deny it G!). Don't even get me started on Doyle's departure in S1 of Angel, or the final Fred arc of S5 up to the finale.

Jaradel and Jane Henry amongst others have nailed some of the key Tennant TV blub-moments, but I do think it is worth acknowledging that the man does have an uncanny attraction to/appeal for projects with high emotional factors. And damn, he can make them work and he cries very well himself.

Dickens is likely to bring out the tears (Bleak House? Our Mutual Friend?) and an apt choice of tune is also going to help turning on the waterworks (Bach's Cello in The West Wing?). Whilst I am easily moved though, I was interested to note that Marie spotted a trend in her trigger points to be 'I didn't get to tell him / her in time". Now THAT'S one I can identify with and I'm certainly predicting tears once I catch up with the finale of NCIS this weekend.

Now, I better stop before I start blubbing but if I get home and look at my shelves I'm certain to identify more tear-stained DVD covers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John Barrowman in concert

Oh crikey, how do you possibly try and sum up the experience of seeing John Barrowman in concert? For a start, he's totally nuts, everywhere on TV, and with the best will in the world my music collection doesn't have a great deal in common with his albums. That said, I am my mother's daughter and have an awareness of musical theatre that is rather well-established. Besides, Captain Jack!!!

So I could not help but be enthralled by the whole effect because there is something irrepressible and irresistible about John and his showmanship. He's an old-fashioned, all-singing, all-dancing entertainer with a dash of rude humour to set the whole thing off. He's clearly a performance-addict and adores having the audience eating from the palm of his hand (not literally though because that would be gross).

Reflecting at least a proportion of the audience, my mum, of course, would have loved it - and him. There were also certainly plenty there who appeared set on seducing him across the sexual preference barrier, but I think it's actually more knowing and subtle than that suggests. Sure, there were knickers thrown on stage -- urgh, still warm! -- but isn't this sort of act part of the audience's role in the performance? I think it largely is* and pretty much everyone there knows and understands that role-playing. The audience may whoop and holler in collective sexual excitement at the wriggle of his arse and hips to 'Living la vida loca' but it's understood that he's in a long-term committed relationship with a guy (the incredible Scott who must have the patience and reserve of a saint to act as ballast to the excess energy of JB).

I also know that mum would have loved the range of songs, especially tracks such as "I Know Him So Well" (beautifully dueted with accompanying performer Danny Boys) and the always tear-inducing 'I Won't Send Roses' from Mack and Mabel. (It's the lyrics and the sense of a story narrative in such songs that does me in). And she, like the rest of us, would have been reduced to hysterics at the combination of Scottish jigs and songs like 'Memory' from Cats (to be seen to be believed).

Perhaps what is most important is that, if you are prepared to ride the wave of the occasion, seeing John Barrowman in performance is hugely good fun. Laughter, tears, dancing in abundance, audience participation (we were - eventually - better than Sheffield) and a great sense that the whole place left with a silly smile on its face.

I may need to have an infusion of indie pop, post-rock and avant-garde noise to cleanse my musical credibility with certain people, but I refuse to deny that I had a fabulous evening. All in all, hilarious fun. Recommended.

Deliberately NOT cross-posted to Music is our Hot, Hot Sex!

*I'm not saying there are no misguided fans who feel that at heart he has great potential for a straight het relationship, but just that there is a difference between fantasy, projection and understanding reality that the significant majority of fans understand. Indeed, as someone so Out he may as well be in space, what is interesting is how so many of the audience are utterly accepting and charmed by his gay sexuality. And I don't mean from a kind of fag-hag perspective either.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cruise of the Gods - why did it take us so long to watch this?

Cruise of the Gods originally aired back at Xmas 2002, with a DVD release the following year.

How did we miss that?

We meant to watch it; we've meant to watch it on re-runs: yet somehow we kept missing it. As the years passed, its potential amusement quotient rose in direct proportion to the number of DVD boxsets I purchased and the range of academic research / fan-fiction I was reading. And I really should have taken my reading 'Wiffle Lever to Full' as a sign to watch Cruise of the Gods immediately.

I failed.

But, many things will arrive at their appropriate destination eventually and so it was that last night we watched Brydon and Coogan and Corden et al bring all-too-deftly to screen some of the excruciatingly familiar tropes of (sci-fi/cult TV/cult movie) fandom such as:

  • banal questioning of guests
  • costume wearing
  • attention to detail by fans beyond that of even most methodical continuity checking of writers, actors, directors etc.
It was all done with incredible affection though - or at least I felt so - and as such it made us laugh and appreciate its targets all the more.

And, despite the fact that no doubt 'Children of Castor' was rubbish, I couldn't help wanting to have watched more of it. Which probably says everything about me you need to know.

Boots Cajun Chicken Wrap

Clearly I was the only person in the country eating these from Boots. Boo hiss.


Thank you for contacting us about our Cajun Chicken Wrap.

I'm sorry to hear it's been difficult to find this product in your local store. I have spoken to our product team and they have confirmed that the Cajun Chicken Wrap has now been discontinued.

We are always reviewing our products to make sure we're selling those that our customers want to buy. We will only ever discontinue items to introduce a new and improved range or if the products have not sold as well as expected.

I appreciate this is disappointing for you and I have forwarded a copy of your letter/email to the product team. They have reassured me they will consider your feedback during their next product review.

We no longer have any stock remaining in our stores or main warehouse. If you speak to one of our people next time you're shopping, they may be able to recommend a suitable alternative.

Thank you again for contacting us. If you have any further questions please contact me personally on the number below.

Kind Regards,
Well, at least I have a 'named contact' to moan at about this, but even so, they really were the best providers of a cajun chicken wrap. Darn!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Meme of myself 2009

Adapted from Persephone's recent and wonderful post.

1. Are you a male or female? Female, but happy to be one of the boys.

2. Describe yourself. Wage slave with a conscience, trying to make life better. Instinctively behaving like the teenage girl I never really was first time around. Imagines herself as a grande dame de lettres of the 1930s (I do have the odd frock suitable for this role)

3. How do you feel about yourself? Frequently bewildered

4. Describe your parents. I've written about my parents before. But describing them?

My dad was a talented man who hardly got the chance to show his skills: he was a significantly talented linguist in his youth who worked for most of my childhood as a bus driver (where perhaps he did at least get to translate the various curses of late night passengers). He was intelligent, fierce in his opinions (he loathed Ian Paisley with a passion that bordered on hysteria) and he loved light operetta and Jim Reeves (I have not taken on these 'pleasures'). He became a born-again Christian when he was a POW in the UK, married and divorced (not my mum), left the church, and finally returned to his faith with zeal as I passed into secondary education c.12 years old. Although I grew up as 'daddy's girl', his deteriorating health took him away from me in every sense. I kinda wish I had loved him better, but mostly I wish I had known him as a younger man both before and after his conversion,

My mother grew up loving history and literature and passed that passion on to me. She was tall, grew up a tomboy, and despite everything never failed to encourage me to enjoy life and do the things that mattered to me. Housework and tidiness were never high on her priorities (a trait I inherited, sometimes to my frustration) and though she improved over the years it was telling that she - like me some 30+ years later - was reprimanded in school for her appallingly limited needlework skills and inattentiveness in sewing class. I loved watching movies with her as a child and getting hooked on series such as The Aphrodite Inheritance and The Sandbaggers. I miss her more than words can express, not least for being the sort who would call me up to say when Jarvis Cocker were on TV.

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends. There's a reason they're ex's.

6. Describe your current boy/girl situation. My much beloved Cloud (Neil) is more infinitely patient with my failings than I can believe is reasonable of a human being. 19 years together come August 2009.

7. Describe your current location. The 'teenagers' room, aka my study. Posters on the wall, itunes playing, reading blogs, laundry drying on the radiator. Yep, teenager.

8. Describe where you want to be. Happy right here, though wish I had more paid holiday from work (and I get a good deal - what can I say? I'm greedy)

9. Your best friend(s) know too much shit on me for the possibility of falling out to be anything other than a nightmare (I hope)

10. Your favourite colour - red, or blue, or purple.

11. You know that friendship is more powerful than anything, and that you should "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)

12. If your life were a television show what would it be called? It's Just my Imagination

13. What is life to you? valuable, and more precious when shared with people around me

14. What is the best advice you have to give? "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blog Housekeeping

Just been trying to do a tidy on my blog sidebars. I have still at the moment kept the list of blogs read as a separate item but this may vanish soon.

One or two issues though with reading lists and sidebars of blogs at the mo:
  1. Some blogs do not seem to have feeds.  I'm reluctant to shift them off my reading list completely as its becoming increasingly the way I update myself on blog writers.  Hmm...
  2. Some have been moved into the 'hiatus' list at the bottom of the sidebar.  This isn't ideal but some blogs have been resting for more time than others and some look more likely to disappear or not be restarted.
  3. I've now added 46 blogs to the automatic 'blogs I read' list - these have come mostly from ones I regularly read, ones that have been on my list and/or are ones I follow.  To allow for some circulation of names, I've told it to currently show just the 25 most recently updated.  If you're not writing, then that doesn't mean I don't love ya, but I won't be getting a prompt to visit.

Shout up folks if you think you're being neglected. I'll do my best.

Earworms on the loose - the 2009 May selection

I had a bit of a run at the earworm thing over at Swiss Toni's last spring, and so I point you towards this new set of earworms from my own poor self.

Sorry about one of them: you can guess which one...

Cross-posted to Music is Our Hot, Hot Sex

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Did you... like my flowers?" - a missing TV moment

I have been duly chastised by Chrissie this morning for having failed to include perhaps THE most favourite and treasured of my TV moments. Its one I am sure I have mentioned before (I may have to check how often or if its just been referenced in email exchanges), since it involves Dougie Henshall. I hadn't forgotten it - it was just it seemed so obvious and very me that I wasn't sure airing it again was reasonable.

Anyway, it comes from episode 3 of Psychos, when Dr. Danny Nash sweeps 'Katekins' off her feet in the staff room as he's manically dancing and asks her 'did you like my flowers?' (she'd mistakenly thought they were from her incredibly staid boyfriend). It was probably THE moment which totally turned my head and stomach for the conviction of Henshall's acting, and remembering it makes me weep all the more for the absence of a DVD release of the series.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Favourite TV moments: MediumRob's weekly meme

MediumRob's weekly meme this week asks for 'favourite TV moment'. Well, that's not at all difficult to decide upon. And though Stu ran off with some of my favourites before I even found the meme, I'll try and conjure some thoughts:
  • The Labour 1997 election victory (and being optimistic enough to hope that it would mean better things ahead: sigh. Not quite everything we wanted...)
  • The punch at the end of 'This Life' (still gives me a thrill)
  • The Doctor saying 'wish me luck' when he goes back through the fireplace and Madame de P saying 'no' - The Girl in the Fireplace (guts me every time)
  • When Skye and the Doctor change synchronisation - Midnight (shudder)
  • [PLEASE NOTE: I'm stopping there because even though I could come up with a long list of DW choices, not least from recent years, it seems unfair to do so]
  • The scene of Harry Perkins onscreen resignation not quite going as the establishment intended - A Very British Coup (just thoroughly brilliant TV)
  • The 'its the devil!' scene on the Blackpool tram in 'Funland' (for making cloven hooves seem so hilarious)
  • The dance-off to "These Boots are Made for walking" - Blackpool! (for putting two of my favourite actors in the same frame: an action not topped by The Next Doctor)
  • The upright tax man Shaun losing his moral compass in the travel agency in 'Our Friends in the South' aka 'Holding On' (David Morrissey's face as he falls for the hapless sales girl in the travel shop is priceless)
  • Josh Lyman's 'secret plan to fight inflation' discussion with the White House Press room- Celestial Navigation (priceless hilarity in a gem of an episode)
  • Giles' returning to slap down Dark Willow: "I'd like to test that theory" - Two to Go (not least because they'd kept the return out of admitted pre-blogs-go-stratospheric net world)
  • Spike's hair-focused analysis of Angel - In the Dark (just hysterically funny)
  • [Please note: I could have had a lot of Buffy/Angel moments and that is before we get to Firefly]
  • The shocking end of season One of 'The Sandbaggers' (still amazes me after all these years - my mum and I sat open mouthed)
  • The explanation of family history and a photograph at the end of 'Shooting the Past' (because as a photography fan who loves stories it makes me fuzz with glee)
  • The scene with the depressed priest in 'Father Ted' where the "Theme from Shaft" transforms his demeanor, only for Radiohead to bring him down again
So that's my list. I better stop there or I will be thinking 'oh that was great!' for the rest of the night...

PS update to include perhaps my MOST favourite, which I really should have included despite its obviousness....

Fashion alert: Lisa's new red coat

Some of you may remember that the recent visit to London turned up some nice fashion gems for me.  So here is me in my delicious new red suede coat.

Photo by Cloud: Rullsenberg in red suede coat

Belated London pictures

Photo by Rullsenberg: Houses of Parliament, London at night
Back at the end of March, Cloud and I went to London and had our usual lovely time wandering around and checking out museums and shops and generally enjoying ourselves.

Photo by Rullsenberg: from Tate Modern
Despite expectations of constant rain, the weather was generally okay and we gathered some very attractive night and day shots of London.

Photo by Rullsenberg: Lloyds Building by night
Photo by Rullsenberg: St Paul's by night
Photo by Cloud: Rullsenberg in Trafalgar Square
Yes, that is me wearing a nifty trilby style hat (its purple).

Nottingham's tram - past, present and future

Nottingham tram is 5 years old.

In 2002, when I was busy making multiple visits to London to see The Coast of Utopia at the National Theatre, I came back from one trip eager to complete my film and get the photographs developed. (Yes, these were pre-digital days for me).

To fill the film I took a large number of shots of the redevelopment of the city centre and the significant road upheaval generated by the coming of the first new tram in decades.

Many were skeptical or disapproving of the development: unsurprisingly, many of those most antagonistic were those who lived close to the scheduled route that inevitably passed close by to some areas of housing. And undeniably the disruption of the tram line being installed was considerable - and, of course, it over-ran.

But five years on, it's hard to imagine Nottingham without it. The speed and convenience it offers from early morning til late is fabulous. Parking is free at the sites and ticket prices are simple and comparable to bus fares (whilst offering routes much quicker).

Sure, there are problems. Not least are the problems of getting this network to be joined up with other aspects of the local transport network - whilst you can get bus/tram tickets, and the current line goes directly to the train station (with an easy walk inside), the single line route fails to address the broader city-wide issues of accessing the city centre, let alone the fact that to the south of the city many residents fall into the county bus provision and so struggle to make city bus company connections.

Which brings me to the future of the tram.

Yes, these developments are expensive - both in the short term and to a certain extent in the long term. But they are important and sadly I don't agree that simply adding bus routes is the way to go (for a start, I really don't want to be adding big bus pollution to the city's roads).

Still, the nay-sayers are currently getting a lot of attention, not least because the Tories see scrapping the tram a vote winning way of lopping some money of expenditure. This will be, frankly, a disaster (and I don't say that just because the planned extension of the route will come close enough to where we live to benefit from this additional travel option: given how long these things take, I'm unlikely to see much benefit for me anyway).

The new tram routes will allow for a much more connected provision to the south of the county and city area. I can't really see what the major savings will be. But then again the Tories are keen to be seen saving money and it's a high profile Labour-supported project... I guess for them it makes 'sense' to cut the project off...

Bromley House - discussed on BBC East Midlands Today

Bromley House - a place I love but which I sadly get much less time to enjoy than I would like - recently garnered an extended feature looking at this hidden gem Library on our local news programme.

It's a fine reminder of why I love this location and why it is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city.

Shame that the town planners do not seem to appreciate this quite as much as they should (with redevelopment plans for the surrounding locations having threatened the sanctity for several years now). Still, keep fighting...

Fashion and Subways in New York: a tale of Marie

Marie is newly returned from New York, but if you'd like to have an enjoyable read about fashion issues then her recent posts on wardrobe dilemmas and successes are a very fine place to start. And if you have ever navigated the New York subway and felt torn between delight and frustration, then she has words to amuse you too.

Welcome back btw!