Monday, May 29, 2006

Doctor's Decline?

Hate to be so negative about what has become one of my favourite TV shows but immediately after watching Dr Who this week I was worried. Worried that it’s fast becoming stale and de-evolving into ‘Dr-using-villain’s-technology-to-triumph-show-of-the-week’. Last week’s finale & this weeks were just too similar. Both had transmitters, both had heights. Last week the Doctor used a Samsung and convenient docking station this week he used scratch-built gadgetry and a convenient transmitter.

When thinking about it wasn’t that sort of his plan in ‘The Parting of Ways’ too? Then in ‘New Earth’ it was a similar resolution and even ‘Tooth & Claw’ too. It’s all getting a bit samey. Even the Sycorax are at the ‘transmitting’ game with their blood control.

Then there’s the Sonic Screwdriver..A fascinating gadget and could be explored wonderfully but I fear it’s being used lazily and far too much.

The concept of The Idiot’s Lantern was genius. The first 10 minutes had me completely intrigued and I loved the faceless victims – classic Who and genuinely chilling for the kids.

The plus points were, Maureen Lipman and I felt Parker from Thunderbirds was great as Magpie. The dad was poor - he was over acting like he was fresh out of drama school.

The viewers were definitely being talked down to in this episode. ‘Oh Doctor why are there so many aerials… etc’ That line was so forced. While I believe they are developing Rose’s character well this sudden leap in observation and knowledge just didn’t seem right.

Also if The Wire was devouring its prey how come they were stored in Magpie's TVs?

This episode could have been so, so good but it’s fuzzy logic and now clich├ęd ending means it got a poor reception from me…

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Eye Eye

Big Brother 6. I hated it. Kemal & Makosi irritated me so much I wanted to grap something pointy and shove it into the television. Instead I chose the far cheaper option of turning it off. For the first time since Big Bro began I ignored it.

I have decided to give Big Brother a second chance with BB7. With the World Cup fast approaching I needed something to keep me sane and distract me from my hatred of football. So far I’m pleased to say I’m enjoying BB. Ok, ok Shahbaz was extremely irritating but in a different way to the demon spawn of last year. He was watchable. You wanted to gasp in amazement at what he did next. I’ll admit part of me is upset he’s gone.

There’s no mourning of Dawn or Bonnaaaaah though. They contributed nothing to the house and it seems the public have finally learnt to vote out the boring ones.

There is, however, a cloud on the horizon. Big Brother is planning to introduce new housemates on Monday night. Internet scuttlebutt insists these two entities are going to be past housemates. While part of me would love to see Jade or Jon Tickle given a second run part of me fears it’ll be the two I detested last year. Please let’s have someone new and interesting otherwise the off switch may just have to be hit once more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dear Local MP

Next time you visit a bar can you please behave like a civil human being. You are, believe it or not, a mere mortal just like me, the staff and your constituents.

Next time you visit a bar to find the kitchen closed why don’t you politely inquire as to why the kitchen is closed rather than make a show in front of your cronies demanding that it is ‘outrageous and preposterous.’ Don’t grill the staff and speaking to them arrogantly demanding to know why your tubby belly can’t be filled further. They we’re actually doing a fine job considering they were a man down on a very busy shift.

Also once again I remind you that when you are in a bar, as far as I’m concerned you are no more important than any other customer so don’t make such a show of huffing and puffing when staff ignore you to serve another customer who was actually at the bar first.

Perhaps if your performance record was more impressive I’d be keener to suck up to you hissy-fits in future however as all you seem to care about is getting your blotchy red face in the local paper every week or drinking Gilbies Hereford dry then as far as I’m concerned you are nobody.

Thanks for providing me some entertainment today. I never thought someone so average could be that far up their own arse. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good luck Hereford United!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Newsagent Nerves.

I slowly shuffled up to the newsagents counter. My nerves peaked as I stepped closer and saw it was an attractive young girl serving. I’d kind of hoped it would be a man – at least he’d better understand my need for the material I was about to purchase. The fact I could see it’s garish cover nestling on the shelf behind her only made this harder.

I felt a bead of sweat on my brow and my throat tighten as I stood up to the counter. A young mum and her son walked past. I paused for an instant, not wanting to embarrass myself as I purchased this ‘dirty’ material.

“Hi.” I stammered, trying to avoid eye contact. “Can I take this please?” I placed the respectable magazine on the counter. By buying that as well I hoped it would distract her from my next purchase. “Oh and can I take a packet of Doctor Who stickers please…. Um, actually, make it five packets.”

There. I did it. She smiled sweetly and dealt out the small packets and I quickly hustled out of the shop. I hoped she thought I’d be buying them for a son or nephew then I realised that by also purchasing ‘Battlestar Galactica Magazine’ in the same transaction that I was obviously a geeky science fiction fan.

Ok, ok. I’m 26 years old and I’m collecting Doctor Who stickers. It’s tragic isn’t it? But I confess there was still that twinge of excitement when I ripped open the packet and found I had a foil sticker – not any foil either. It was one of a Dalek! There was the bitter sting of disappointment when I found I had quite a number of swaps too.

It’s been well over a decade since I last collected stickers. I think the last time I did this was for Star Wars Tazos – but at least you had to buy crisps for those – it wasn’t painfully obvious I was actually collecting them. I never intended to collect the Doctor Who album, it’s the Radio Times’ fault. They gave away a book for free.

Tomorrow I will go through it all again. The nerves as I go into the newsagents. I have a plan though. Tomorrow I will buy a copy of The Times too – she’ll never know the stickers are for me then.

Well. I hope not.

PS – Don’t suppose you’ve got number 143 have you?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Watching The World Go By

When I was a child someone told me something that was quite prolific. They told me that if you just sit in one public space for a while sooner or later someone you know will walk past.

That person was Dr Ray Stantz in an episode of The Real Ghostbusters. Possibly not a source noted for such great observations on life but that quote has stuck with me ever since.

It is amazing though that out of 6 billion possible people in the world whenever you go on holiday, no matter how far flung the destination you always seem to bump into somebody you know.

Yesterday I was in Cheltenham. I spent three years of my life there whilst at uni and while sipping at a Starbucks I tested out Dr Stantz’s theory.

The odds were against me from the start, Cheltenham isn’t my hometown. Most of the people I befriended whilst there were also from different locations and have all moved on. Cheltenham is bigger than Hereford so with more people it’s less likely I’d know random strangers.

Whilst sitting by the fountain outside Starbucks in the gorgeous sunshine I was quite pleased to discover Stantz was correct.

First up was a girl I’d worked with in Hereford a few years back – before uni. The odds of that were immense because she was also on a day trip to Cheltenham.

Second up was the University president when I was there. He sauntered past on the far side of the street. Bringing back happy memories of drunken adventures with him in London.

Third was a disabled girl who was always in Park Bar at Cheltenham.

Finally one of the children I had taught whilst doing teacher training in Chelt skipped past though she did look considerably more grown up only highlighting that its been some time since university.

Still it was good to know that Dr Stantz hadn’t let me down.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm about to leave for my first ever 'Stag Weekend'. The groom is putting on a BBQ tonight, paintball and booze tomorrow.

It's going to messy.


Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

RIP

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they, themselves, failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student - but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Supermen Return

2006 sees the return of the two greatest ever superheroes to the big screen. In July America’s favourite son in the form of Superman while November welcomes James Bond – the UK’s ‘superhero’ back into cinemas.

I can’t wait.

For a while superhero films languished as absurd over the top films. Laughed at by films fans and mourned by comic book fans. Tim Burton’s Batman of the late 80s/early 90s was a step in the right direction but it was still over shadowed by the camp 60s TV show. Joel Schumaker of course took it completely down the wrong path.

Thankfully in 2002 Spiderman came to the screen and showed the world how comic book movies should be done. Gone were the day-glo colours and 2D characters this was a superhero film you could actually believe in. Xmen too have managed to ground themselves despite being slightly more fantastical.

Last year came possibly my favourite film of recent years. Batman Begins. A truly awesome film which rightly devoted much of its screen time to character building rather than ridiculous super villain plots. We finally saw the Dark Knight as he should always have been portrayed. A hero who is actually just as troubled as the villains thanks to his struggle with duel identity and the murder of his parents.

Superman lacks the psychological struggle of Batman & Spiderman which is why I’m slightly concerned that it won’t have much more to say than the excellent 1979 original. The trailer looks superb but somehow I feel it’ll be a return to superbattles and superficial adventures that Batman & Spiderman successfully avoid. I’m hoping Brian Singer manages to add the emotional element that modern movie audiences demand. The same goes for Casino Royale in November. Die Another Die was awful. Far too over the top with no grounding in reality. Anybody can do a no brains action film – it’s the intelligence and cunning that set used to set Bond far apart from the others. Die Another Day was nothing more than bums-on-seats popcorn fodder. Please let Casino Royale show some depth to Bond. Ditch his reliance on gadgets and luck and bring back the wit and intelligence of the Connery era.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Technological Slowdown?

We live in age of gadgetry. iPods, Digital Cameras, PDAs, flash storage and more. While this is impressive it’s all about miniaturisation and refinement of already existing technology. What’s happened to the progress of science? Think about it – when was the last truly earth shattering invention? You know, something that really changed life and aided humanity?

Cars while they’re more aerodynamic and efficient the principle is still basically the same as Henry Ford’s model T. Trains have remained unchanged since the steam to diesel revolution. Computer’s have been around since the 40s (in a very basic form) and while today’s PCs are amazingly powerful they are just refined and developed versions of technology that was created decades ago.

Has our capacity for invention disappeared? There’s been nothing new in the kitchen since the microwave. (The George Forman Grill isn’t that special!) Healthcare is still largely based on antibiotics developed in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. And long distance travel is still based on the Jumbo Jets that crept into service 30 odd years ago.

So where have all the inventions gone? Where are the flying cars and the robotic house cleaners? Why does it now, on average take longer to get to London that it did 30 years ago? Where are the amazing new health drugs and procedures? Why haven’t we gone back to the moon or beyond?

I genuinely believe our technological age isn’t as wonderful as we’re lead to believe. I love my iPod but it seems, that sadly, it’s the only invention that will define my generation.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Clarke Sacked

Just minutes ago the sacking of Charles Clarke was announced. Also Just minutes ago I also decided I will not support Labour until a serious rethink on their policies take place.

If he’d have been sacked after the scandal that over a thousand potential criminals had been released I would have been happy.

I would have been happier still if Clarke was sacked when he made the disgusting comment that this blunder was ‘not as serious as 7/7’.

But no. He was sacked after Labour had a disastrous time at the local elections loosing many votes to the Tories.

This, to me, proves one thing. The current Labour administration cares more about popularity than it does integrity. Is that the mindset that should be running the country?

Thursday, May 04, 2006