Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Googling Who

One thing that just struck me is that the Doctor Who author who's going to get the most publicity from 'Rose' is Kate Orman - googling 'Doctor Blue Box' as Rose (almost) did throws up a pile of links to Kate's book of the same name.
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Monday, March 28, 2005

He's Back - no, really, this time he is...

And so it wasn't as poor as I feared, nor as brilliant as I hoped, but definitely leaning towards the side of the good. This is particularly true after watching it a second time just now, a day or so after the first viewing, and after I've allowed my more fan-boy reactions to give way to slightly more sensible thought.

Worst thing out of the way first - the whole wheelie bin thing. I have every sympathy with the reason for having a wheelie bin swallow someone and burp afterwards - it provdes big laughs for the watching 8 year olds. I also have no problem with Rose not spotting Mickey had been nabbed by the Nestene - for 26 years Dr Who required far greater stupidity from far more intelligent people on a regular basis, so long as it suited the plot. But unfortunately, it just looked crap and not the level of special effects I'd been expecting. The CGI was especially obvious during the portion when Mickey had his back to the bin and his hands in the air, but in general it all just looked rubbish.

Second bad thing, second - the incidental music. Actually, the entire opening segment played to a pastiche of the Mission:Impossible theme just seemed very old fashioned and dull to me, but the incidental music throughout was frankly misjudged and added nothing to the drama. Added to that the sound levels at the end in the presence of the Nestene were a bit off andf I couldn't tell what the Doctor was saying on several occasions.

All the great stuff, now.

Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper - Marvellous. Eccleston pinned his Doctor down in the space of two scenes and Piper can actually act.

The writing - Loads of great moments for all concerned. Rose entering the TARDIS for the first time; the Doctor not bothering to go all techno-babble when asked how things work ('you wouldn't understand' is all we need to hear); Eccelston's little look in the mirror and comment about his ears; the hurt look on the Doctor's face when he thinks Rose isn't going with him; the lovely Faction Paradox sound of the Shadow Proclamations; Clive's wife getting a a dig in at fanboys and - best of all - the Doctor's beaming pride in his TARDIS ('it's a disguise') and Rose's incredibly happy look as she runs towards the Doctor at the end. And that's not them all - this 44 minute bit of Who has more wonderful writing moments than all the Baker/McCoy years combined.

And finally, the plot - I know this sounds a bit silly, given that everyone has bemoaned the lack of plot in this first outing, but I loved the fact that old-time fans of the series would recignise Rose for what it was - the last episode of a four parter. It doesn't need a plot as such - all the plot bit went on before we started watching and all that's left is the mopping up. The Doctor confronts the baddie, gets in a spot of trouble and then gets out of it again, destroying the baddie on the way. They maybe can't do that for every episode, but it worked beautiflly here.

I still don't like the TARDIS interior set, mind (well it wouldn't do for any Who fan to
be that positive...
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Saturday, March 26, 2005

This is *so* exciting

Having remained only quietly excited by the new series of Doctor Who until now, I'm afraid that I have succumbed to a level of anticipation only previously seen at the births of my children and the time Santa was bringing me a telescope when I was seven.

And so, in spite of the fact that I think the aliens look like evil muppets, the TARDIS interior resembles something rather scruffy from an achingly earnest Russian sf film, that I'm not overly keen on the work of most of the writers and Eccleston and Russell T Davies constantly say exactly what I don't want to hear about the show, I have just agreed that J can spend tens of thousands of pounds extending our kitchen about a mile into the back garden in return for her taking the kids out between 7.00 and 7.45pm for the next thirteen Saturday evenings.

Because when all's said and done, I'm actually expecting to be enormously pleasantly surprised by it all, for everything to work in spite of my reservations and - most importantly of all - I just can't see how the first new cliffhanger in 16 years can fail to be, well, wonderful.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Like some kind of pervert photfit

It's just been pointed out to me that the fact that my blog username is ostensibly that of a girl called Iris is, well, a bit dodgy. This is particularly the case, apparently, as I am not in fact a young girl who likes kittens and ponies but a receeding-hairlined, spectacle-wearing 35 year old man who collects Doctor Who books and thinks When the Boat Comes In constitutes great TV. If only I was a long-distance lorry driver or a member of the US Army I would, I'm told, be a poster-boy for internet grooming.

Mybe I should change my username to Big Bad Hank or something...

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Andre Norton, 1912-2005

Andre Norton was, so far as I can remember, the first sf/fantasy writer I ever read. Aged about 7, I think, I can distinctly recall going to the mobile library and discovering to my horror that I'd read all of Willard Price's Adventure books and, therefore, had to find something new. Luckily, they had copies of each of Norton's Solar Queen books, and so - starting with Sargasso of Space - I read everything I could find by Ms Norton over the next year or so. And I'm still reading sf and fantasy today.

I haven't read any of the Solar Queen books since I was about 10 but from memory I suspect that they won't hold up so well reading them now, as an adult, as things like Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy or Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.

Even so, I think I'll see if I can't pick up a copy on ebay and give them another read.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Finished Reading V

King Rat - China Mieville

Wonderfully evocative tale of a man who discovers his mother is Queen of the Rats and that the Ratcatcher is stalking him through London's underworld. Funnily enough, this is a different kind of book to the similarly plotted Pratchett novel 'The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents' or the Disney cartoon , 'Home on the Range'.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

'Take some sticky backed plastic'

Just been reading the excellent About Time 4, a guide to Doctor Who and was shocked to discover in it that the 'sticky backed plastic' mentioned all the time in 70s Blue Peter is not, as I've alway assumed, a special version of that doublesided sticky velcro stuff that you peel paper off each side of to get two things to stick, but plain and simple Sellotape (God, that's an overly long sentence).

I now feel a little stupid for never having figured that out before, but I'm comforted by the fact that it proves that Doctor Who can still be educational...

[LATER]

And now I feel even more stupid for believing those clowns Miles and Wood, authors of About Time. It turns out that sticky-backed plastic is exactly what I thought it was and has nothing to do with Sellotape which, now that I think about it, wasn't the type of thing used in Blue Peter. Thanks to Scott for pointing that out.
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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Referees 'a bit biased' shock!

Hearts call for penalty inquiry

Well it's about time that someone did this, but I can't help wishing it hadn't been my team, Hearts.

Briefly Hearts were playing (and out playing) Rangers and - with a minute to go - drawing 1-1, which was a fairly major blow to Rangers' title aspirations. The linesman then called for a penalty against Hearts which no-one else in the entire ground (including the Rangers players) saw and which TV replays show conclusively could not have taken place as he claimed - final result 2-1 to Rangers.

At best, this was yet another bad decision by a Scottish official and yet another bad decision which benefited one half of the Old Firm. At worst - and more likely IMHO after 30 years of watching Scottish football - it was a deliberate attempt to benefit Rangers by a dishonest and biased official.

There won't be an enquiry, because the press and SFA in Scotland is run almost wholly by a west coast mafia who would take the side of an Old Firm team over the rest of Scottish football any day. In the end, all that happens is that the likes of the Daily Record and the other Glasgow-based papers will lambast Hearts for even suggesting offical bias and Hearts will be accused of bringing the game into disrepute - and this in spite of the fact that you'd be hard-pushed to find a non-Old Firm supporter who doesn't know that officials give the Old Firm an unfair advantage. For some reason it's thought better that we have a corrupt officialdom than someone rocks the boat and tries to chnage that inequality.

Is it any wonder that everyone thinks our game is a joke?

+++UPDATE+++

"[T]he same official was involved when Rangers beat Celtic 1-0 five years ago after he disallowed a "goal" by Mark Viduka...

His case was not aided when it emerged yesterday that the policeman, who is based in Govan, received a mock commendation from his police colleagues, reading: "The Chief Constable Highly Commends Constable Andrew Davis Reg No. 290368. Whilst off duty and in uniform, for showing presence of mind in extreme circumstances whereby he got it right up the Celtic by disallowing Big Viduka when he tried it on with that ‘Arm of God’ stuff, thereby endangering his double-glazing and his life. It concluded in capital letters: "WELL DONE!"


(from the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, 6 March 2005)

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Finished Reading IV

Ishmael - Barbara Hambly

The plot's a cliche even in terms of Star Trek (it's basically a slight re-working of Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever) but the author cheerfully makes it clear that she knows that and turns out a very enjoyable TOS romp which - for once - actually seems like it might have fitted nicely into the TV series. Cameos by the Second and Fourth Doctors and an oblique reference to the Time Lords gain the book a few extra brownie points.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Scottish Beer and Japanese Pop

Out for a few pints last night but unfortunately the pub we always meet in was playing host to some sort of local Battle of the Loud and Crappy Death Metal Bands and - not having a taste for songs called things like 'Reek of Rotting Flesh' and 'Festival of Flies' - we had a quick pint then headed out the door, seeking pastures new.

I'm not sure if it's a sign of our growing maturity and discernment or simply that at 35 we need a comfy seat and a decent pint more than anything else, but we found ourselves acting exactly the same as we had when we were 16 and looking for a pub. Every pub we walked past was either too busy, too noisy or too bright - the first and third of which reasons were exactly the same as caused us to walk by whilst under-age and looking for somewhere likely to serve us.

In the end and as is often the case, we eventually found ourselves in the excellent Guildford Arms (for those who know Edinburgh, this is just round the corner from the Burger King at the east end of Princes Street). What's nice about this pub is they offer you a sample of all their beers (not common in Scotland) and have a good range of guest ales. I had the Harviestoun's Bitter and Twisted which was very pleasant.

As an added bonus, Dave gave me a pile of Japanese music cds before we went home. I listened to the first one this morning in the car by a band called Yura Yura Teikoku. The album only lasts half an hour or so but it's great spiky pop with a slight psychedelic tinge sung in Japanese (except track 2 which sounds like an oriental Gang of Four singing lyrics in English written by Pete Waterman).

Good night all round...

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