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|Friday, September 23rd, 2011|
So we're nearly done with a lot of things - summer is over, Torchwood is done (on a number of levels) and there's just two episodes left of Who. Things seem to be shifting in my personal life as well - hopefully for the better. So I just wanted to put down a few random thoughts and bits while they occurred to me.
Telly: At the moment, I'm gripped by Forbrydelsen (The Killing
), a show from Denmark that is just packed with intrigue, suspense, politics and suspicion. There's always a thrill when you watch something that genuinely feels different and of a high quality at the same time. Yes, it's a murder mystery but it also shows how grief and loss can shatter even the closest of families. You naturally like the parents of the murdered girl without the show ever doing any "Look how likeable this couple is" scenes and it's heartbreaking to watch their relationship slowly crack, splinter and shatter as the consequences of Nanna's death grow. It's also great to have a strong female lead without any direct discussion of her gender. I'm on the 14th episode of 20 and I have to fight the urge to watch all the remaining episodes in one big gulp. There's a US remake but how often do those words end well? That neatly segues into Torchwood: Miracle Day ending well. Or rather, not ending well. A curate's egg of a show but it is notable that the good parts were those already in place - Jack, Gwen and the base in Wales. The rest of it ranged from fun but atonal (Q!) to the downright abysmal: Rex.
I'm not sure what RTD was thinking when he made the new American lead quite so unlikeable. It certainly didn't help that he was arrogant and stupid to boot. Esther wasn't much better for the first eight episodes so they gave her a complete personality transfer for episodes 9/10. But the ultimate sin of T:MD was that it was dull. Stupid, nonsensical, absurd, cheap looking - all qualities I can readily forgive but not dullness. I guess we must put Children of Earth down as an odd blip rather than the natural progression of the series. Pity.
Books: I have ploughed through a fair amount over the last few weeks, including the last book Dick Francis wrote or co-wrote, though it apparently won't be the last Dick Francis book - he's now a brand so they'll stick his name on the cover in big letters and get his son to write it. We'll see how well that works. Someone gave me a Josephine Tay book and I really enjoyed that so I'm going to track down some more. Meanwhile, one of my major literary quests had a huge boost - despite P G Wodehouse
's continued popularity, it's actually quite hard to get hold of his works. Arrow Books recently did a nice re-issue of many of his most regarded works but only as a limited release and at quite a high price tag. A few days ago I was in London and spotted a couple in a discount shop window so I went in and discovered shelves of them at less than three pound a pop. Nice. Of course, I'm going to have to have an online list of those I currently own so I don't double buy any.
Personal stuff: We had Helen's sister down for a visit which was lovely. We met her in London and went around the V&A Museum - gorgeous place but Helen in particular wanted to see their new exhibit: Power of Making
. Really fascinating stuff there from bicycles made entirely from nylon or wood (though would you want to ride something called the Splinterbike?) to a life size crocheted bear. If you happen to be in London, go see (it's free too!). Wedding fever has finally died out over here so I'm mostly enjoying quiet weekends with the freedom to plot as I see fit. I'm hoping to go see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy very soon too - there's only a few films my mother will watch so we tend to go with my parents to them.
Right, as the man said, back to the world of dreams.
|Monday, August 22nd, 2011|
Okay, had a couple of weeks that were definitely blog worthy so what the crikey. We start... in a small chinese restaurant that is hosting a charity dinner. It had been organised by a client of ours and was fundraising for a local hospice. I took Helen along and we were served huge amounts of food and chatted very amiably to the people around us. About halfway through they came round with raffle tickets and as my boss had paid for the meal, I thought I'd splash out and get a good number of strips, half to me, half to Helen. My firm had also donated a prize of a webcam/USB hub though that was outshone a bit by the bigger prizes including crates of champagne, signed football memorabilia and holiday accomodation in the Caribbean. Later on the draw occurs, with tickets being drawn then the winner drawing from a separate bowl to determine which prize they should get. Helen has had a lot of luck with raffles recently (despite previously protesting her absence of good fortune) and sure enough, one of her numbers came up. As I was nearer, I drew the choice of prize and it was... the webcam set. Boh! Cue much laughter and me retreating to my seat looking slightly sheepish.
A few more tickets are drawn and then once again Helen has a number called. This time she draws the prize and gets a crate of wine. Given that we'd already had a prize, we distributed the bottles among the others on the table (about a dozen or so) and remark on our good fortune. But then one of mine is pulled out and I once again make my way to the prize bowl. The ticket is number one and even before our hostess announced it, I'd guessed what it was - a week in Antigua at the St James's Club
. All we need to pay for is the flight over and everything else from food to activities is bundled in. Helen didn't stop squeeing for hours and I must admit I spent quite a long time cooing over pictures of the sandy beaches and pools. Strangely an old friend of mine stayed in Antigua for a long time and I have a distant recollection that it was at the St James's Club he was docked. Or used for the internet. Antigua was (and I think still is) a major location for offshore servers so it was perfectly reasonable to go there for business purposes. *suddenly has doubts*
Also... it was my birthday and I received two rather marvellous gifts. First to come was from the wonderful Embers who got me some lovely bits from the Discworld, including a tea towel with prices for rat ("Ever tried a rat without ketchup?") and badges, as ever coming in an parcel expertly wrapped and decorated. Then I went out for a meal and discovered that Helen had carefully organised with all those who normally give me a present to chip in and get me ... the Widowmaker! Well, the iPad 2 to use its technical name but given that it was likely to replace any form of conversation with Helen, she thought she'd claim naming rights. It's not something I would have bought for myself but it's just so lovely and useful and fun and smooth and eye-catching... Very nice. Actually, it's one of the slightly selfish disappointments that a lot of the things that made me a techno-whizz have become boringly mainstream. I was downloading episodes of Buffy back in the last century but now you can't even claim any kudos for getting episodes from the US the following day uncut and in HD. The iPad 2 should be a device of infinite mystery that you're carrying around with you and yet it's now so commonplace. *sigh*
Next - my sister's wedding day. My sister has been going out with the same guy for oh so many years and last year, while on top of a very tall mountain, he popped the question (with the ring tab from a plastic bottle) and a mere six months later (with the barest minimum of run-up), they got married. Well, technically they got married twice - once at a civil ceremony at a local venue and the next time at our family home with loads of friends and family. It was a really beautiful day, the sun was shining, it was all rather marvellous. The other great thing was my brother, his wife and their two kids were there as well. I don't get to see them very often as they live in Sydney so any chance of bonding with them must be taken although it's not without its cost. I once ran the Great North Run
, 13 miles of hills and the pain I felt after that was nothing compared to the creaking of my body after playing with James for the day. He also paid me the greatest compliment a child can - they were going off to Disneyland Paris then we'd meet them afterwards in Tours a few days later. When informed that he was leaving us behind to go to Disney, his face fell and he said "When will Disney be over?"
Still, they had a good time and before we met them again, so did we, taking the EuroStar into Paris and then walking around the city before taking a leisurely train down to Tours. We had a week in a small villa, spending huge amounts of time in the pool - James is quite the water baby and managed to tire out his parents, Helen and I, both sets of grandparents and the family in the villa next door. What did he want to do the next day? "Can we spend even longer in the pool tomorrow?" Sad to see them go of course but hopefully it helped remind them both that they had a bona fide aunt and uncle in the UK.
Finally we returned home, picked up Faran from the cattery (only moderately disgruntled with us) and then headed into London and the BFI
to see a special preview of Let's Kill Hitler
! The episode itself is terrific (at least I thought so at the time - it is possible to be swept away with an audience but yeah, I laughed a lot) and then afterwards they had a Q&A with Steven Moffat, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville (who is a master at dead pan faux offence). If they did a cinema screening of each episode, I'd be up for that - there's always a bit more of an atmosphere when there's people around you.
So yes, I've been busy the last month or so - I suspect things should calm down a bit now, bit of quiet time. Still, new Who from Saturday (or rather Saturday week in my case) plus the eternal hope that Torchwood will pick up and they're finally getting around to showing season 4 of Burn Notice in the UK. As the man said, be seeing you. Current Mood: Jovial
|Thursday, April 28th, 2011|
|It's in my head!
I know what I want to do with the Who blog and how it should work. I just need to find time enough to do it!
*grumbles about lack of temporal inversion devices in local Sainsburys*
|Tuesday, April 12th, 2011|
|On Series 6. Or Two. Or Fnarg +1. Or 32.
So we are but a fortnight away from the new series of Who and I'm in the mood to use my blog as an outlet to respond to it.
First up, I know very little of what is in the series. I've stayed spoiler free, I only watched the trailer released last Christmas once and the rest I've just picked up in teeny tiny flashes here and there (the front cover of Doctor Who Magazine has a rather big spoiler for the Premiere but that's about it).
Second, I'm already grumbling. They've scheduled the first episode at... 6pm. Yes, at a time when the weather is turning sunny, the clocks have gone forward, they're talking about this as the scariest series, they've scheduled it like a late afternoon show. Grrr. What's worse is they've done this to promote yet another terrible reality dancing show that has been dying in the ratings like Kenny from South Park wearing a red Star Trek uniform in an episode of something Joss wrote while in a murderous mood. So a lot.
Third, I'm wondering if I can do any video bits - I've got a YouTube account and while it has the grand sum of one video on it (from the Sarah Jane/Who crossover premiere in London), I've wanted to do more for a while. It's time I put my creative side back into gear.
Okay, so this is really a heads-up and a self-encourager - New Who Stu blogging to come. Woot.
|Sunday, August 15th, 2010|
|Long Road to the Lizard
It's summer and that normally means I flee somewhere - the US is my place of choice but I've done Scotland, Australia, Hong Kong and a few other places. However this year is different - I have responsibilities in the shape of Helen and Faran (my efforts to combine them into one responsibility entitled Faren or Helan have been met by baleful glares from both parties). Faran really did not care for the cattery we left her in at the start of the year and travelling further afield didn't seem to be an option. I was vaguely minded towards a staycation but I'm pretty sure I'd almost inevitably be sucked back into the office for at least one of the days which rather defies the point of a holiday.
So Helen went online and did some research and found this holiday home in Cornwall, near Bodmin. I managed to complete work successfully on Friday (no mean feat as it happens) and at about 11 o'clock on Saturday morning, a mere 30 minutes behind schedule, we were off. Now about 25 years ago, there was an episode of Fawlty Towers where an American visits and complains that he could find the freeway so he took the backroad called the M4. I'd love to assure you that this has all changed but no - the M4 is as good as it gets for getting to the South West. Except that day it wasn't - all along the M25 there were electronic noticeboards advising us of severe delays on the M4 because of a lorry turning over. So we switched to our back-up route, the A303. The trouble is, that's what everyone else who was driving to Cornwall did so our 5 and a bit hour journey slowly turned into a 9 and a bit hour journey.
Now I try not to be a grumpy car driver even during enlongated trips but this time we were provided with additional benefits for our prolonged route. There must have been some sort of car event nearby as we saw two dozen top quality sports cars going in the other direction. Plus there was the moment when we crested over the hill and, without any fanfare or notice, there was Stonehenge. It would probably drive those who put up "World's Biggest Bullock Statue 50/30/20/10/5/3/2/1 Miles Ahead!" signs on freeways a little bit crazy - one of Britain's great wonders and all it had was a sign that virtually shrugged towards Stonehenge like a disaffected teen. We also passed Wookey Hole which is a series of caves that I visited nearly twenty years ago and also where they filmed the classic Tom Baker story Revenge of the Cybermen. In any case, there were points of interest on the ride, even if by hour 7 I was more than ready to be in Bodmin.
Our ETA felt like a file copy in Windows where the progress bar slowly moves along while the time remaining bar keeps getting longer. The weirdest part came when we had been stuck behind at least 100 cars or so, we turned around a few corners on this single lane road with no major turn-offs and suddenly there was only a handful of cars in front of us, the others having melted into the tarmac. Possibly. After a brief encounter down the wrong country lane with the two worst guard dogs ever, we finally arrived and were shown in. It's very nice, newly built and both the owners and the guests who showed us where we should be were all very friendly. Out back there are two goats, many chickens, a couple of geese and a duck who appears to think he is also a goose. Naturally Faran's response to all this (and being locked up for 9 hours) has been to hide under the duvet.
So far, we've only had a brief poke around the countryside around us but it is quite beautiful - and changeable to boot. We were driving through positively torrential rain, went under a bridge and then it not only stopped raining the other side but there was bright sunshine to boot. Helen has been busily filling in the map with places we shall visit - the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Jamaica Inn being the two that I recognise. Plants, scones (with no fruit in them) and sea air await us - wish you were here!
|Monday, June 28th, 2010|
|If there be tears...
They are not for England, at least not the England football team. The way in which we lost was the worst part although the players afterwards trying to insist that they'd played well in our worst ever World Cup defeat was a close second. Ho hum. I'm supporting Japan now as they play intelligently, courageously and with great resilience. Plus they can't half knock in a good free kick
when they try.
Elsewhere The Big Bang happened and those of you who've seen it will know how great it was. And if further proof was needed that Doctor Who is the new Rock'n'Roll...
In more me-based news, I'm currently gearing up for my local tennis matches - playing at home against my father was more tiring than I'd like so it's back down to the gym with me I'm afraid. Also I'm getting more and more tempted to get a BBQ set as we've had quite a few lovely grilled meals elsewhere already so it could be nice to have such things on tap.
Oh and this is just sweet:
|Thursday, June 24th, 2010|
|Rock Star Stupidity
Why is it rock stars can't help but do dumb things like getting into staring contests? Always the drummers too. Hmph.
Phew. The England match took place while I was in the office so I had to put up with it being streamed in over iPlayer - unfortunately a few million other people had the same idea so the service was a wee bit patchy. 93 minutes of unrelenting tension, willing the team on. Mind you, I think the Americans had it harder, watching attack after attack fail, knowing that they really needed a goal to get through and then finally it happened for them. Deserved too - a draw was fair against England but they should have completed their comeback against Slovenia.
Germany await us next but despite our history against them, I think we're more than a match - they've a young team but perhaps not quite as talented as they once were. We shall see on Sunday. Of course, this does leave Saturday free for watching The Big Bang. I can't reveal too much as some of you haven't seen The Pandorica Opens yet but you might remember previous episode 12 cliffhangers; from Bad Wolf
("Rose, I'm coming to get you!", Army of Ghosts
! But wait, Daleks too!), The Sounds of Drums
(He's old! They're captured! She flees - but she'll be back!) and The Stolen Earth
("I'm regenerating"!!!) - this follows in such noble footsteps easily.
All that plus a village fete, a spot of tennis, hosting a meal myself and maybe more. Busy but fun I hope.
|Friday, June 18th, 2010|
|Right, you rootin' tootin' varmit... Draw!
There are draws and there are draws. Score in the first five minutes, concede the softest of goals and it feels like a loss. Concede two but fight back level and have a winner dubiously ruled out and it feels like a moral victory. Play a dirge of a match
that lacks any sense of passion, quality or skill and it feels like you lost 0-0.
So technically, morally and numerically, the US
should feel better about their World Cup than England. Because right now, most people here are fuming, dejected or, at best, relieved that we weren't playing against a half-decent team who would have pulled us to shreds. Or made us up our game. Who knows?
Anyway, the rest of the tournament has sprung to life so I'm not going to sulk over England's poor showing for too long. Perhaps some videogame ultraviolence will relieve the pressure. Did you see the Nintendo trailer for the 3DS
? It looks stunning and left Sony and Microsoft flapping about, trying to look as though they're the future when all they're doing is marginally improved versions of what Nintendo did nearly four years ago now.
|Thursday, June 17th, 2010|
|Brought to Book
Oops. I set up a Facebook account ages ago, purely to see the pictures uploaded of my nephew there. Helen added me as a friend and then as boyfriend which I accepted a mere three years later. However, when I created the account, the idea was that it wouldn't be linked to me (Helen again blowing that one out of the water) so I used a dummy name (Simon Who - aha) and a dud email account and... a dud birthday. I logged back in to see a video I knew about and discovered that a few weeks ago, lots of kind people had left me birthday greetings which were met with resounding silence. Sorry guys and ladies, the big day is actually on the 22nd of July but I'll accumulate any good wishes sent then into my pile for next month.
I'm also feeling nostalgic for old forums - my regular Doctor Who forum is currently down and I deleted Fireflyfans.net from my favourites a while back when there was virtually no-one there I remembered and the vast majority of threads were started by lunatic conspiracy theorists. Freedom of speech is all well and good but sometimes a private forum needs to set some rules to ensure that the place doesn't descend into chaos, flame wars and general inhospitality.
The weather here is beautiful which makes it all the sadder that I'm avidly watching the World Cup. Thankfully only another two matches to miss because of that pesky work thing and of course, having gotten the nervy opening matches out of the way, we're into the really big games. It does look like South Africa are about to exit the competition but I'd gladly trade that for those damn horns being kicked out. The World Cup should be a celebration of every country's atmosphere and instead South Africa have drowned everything else out with a wail. It's their tournament, they're perfectly entitled to do so but after putting so much effort and capital and money into getting the tournament there, it's a shame that the memory is going to be that the thing was ruined by plastic horns.
|Friday, June 11th, 2010|
The World Cup 2010. I'm not quite where the idea that geeks can't be sports fans came from but there's plenty of us passionate about both. I've been doing my studying in the run up to the competition and now feel I can tell my Shane Smeltzs apart from my Eyong Enohs. Being an England fan is quite like being a Liverpool fan - you sort of know that you're not destined for the top and yet you still believe it could happen for you if the stars align.
Three Lions was a huge hit back in 1996, much like any other song, because it was catchy and truthful - we all knew the pain of supporting England, thirty years of hurt and yet the hope... John Cleese wrote himself a wonderful line in Clockwise: "It's not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand." If we were a side whose ambition was limited to maybe making it out of the group then we'd have three matches ahead and anything else is a bonus. Instead our team, ranked 8th in the world, are burdened with the ambition of winning the thing. Realistically we should make the quarter finals and that's it. And yet... the hope...
There will be heroes, there will be villains. There may even be tears. Really, what I want is for it to be remembered as a great competition and only for what happens on the pitch - the people in South Africa seem very geared up for this and I hope it's everything they could want.
Kick off in one hour. Here we go!
|Tuesday, June 8th, 2010|
|Hard to do
Look, don't judge me. No-one enjoys a break-up. And yes, the things that were good are still good - I'm not denying that. It's just that, like a lot of men, I have a wandering eye and there's a younger, thinner model ready to take the place of my current one: brighter too, plus a much improved battery life. It's not that I don't enjoy running my fingers over you anymore, it's just that we've had our time together and we both need to move on; me with the iPhone 4, you to the O2 Recycling Centre. You'll meet someone new, I promise.
I'll always treasure our time together and we'll always have our trip round the world. Always. So goodbye, farewell and thank you - My wonderful Uber Precious.
|Wednesday, February 17th, 2010|
|Deary, deary, deary
Doubtlessly, countless people across the UK are blogging in an ironic manner that Doug Stanhope ruined Newswipe in the hope that someone connected to the show will be searching on Google for those particular key phrases: "Doug Stanhope" and "ruined Newswipe".
Well, I have a bit more integrity than that and so I hereby pledge not to do a blog about Doug Stanhope ruining Newswipe.
Of course, if we were talking about Tim Key...
|Friday, January 1st, 2010|
|Saturday, December 19th, 2009|
|Wednesday, November 25th, 2009|
|Tuesday, November 24th, 2009|
- 15:10 Things that throw me - Britney Spears has two Greatest Hits albums. Count 'em, two. #
|Friday, November 20th, 2009|
|Thursday, November 19th, 2009|
- 09:21 Saw Terry Pratchett's Nation at the National Theatre last night - wonderful production and very charismatic leading pair. Go see if you can. #
- 15:15 As @nationaltheatre retweeted my Nation review, I'll plug WarHorse which I saw last month - stunning, engrossing, wonderful theatre. Go see! #
|Wednesday, November 18th, 2009|
- 12:14 @Glinner "Down with this sort of thing!" "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" "Throw him into the pit of ice!" Whichever one suits. #
- 15:13 They've (sort of) simulated a cat's brain. tinyurl.com/y93k6od Insert your own jokes here. #
- 16:21 Faithful readers, all I ask for Christmas is a bottle of blended malts; this particular bottle actually tinyurl.com/yfuab27 #
- 19:30 Just went up in a lift with Ronnie Corbett - actually taller than you might expect. Weird. Was it all a lie? #