Tuesday, 17 March 2009


1x06 One Day a Lemming Will Fly Part 1
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Lark Rise to Candleford
2x10 Episode 10
Oh my, Lark Rise appears to have turned into a broad sitcom! (I'm sure some would argue it always was.) It also seems to run out of story about three-quarters of the way through, which is a shame.
More of a shame, however, as the "Next Time" trailer, apparently giving away all of the twists in next week's episode. That's just stupidity.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
Chapter Three: VI (p.221-228, 242-246)
Chapter Three: VIII (p.261-262)
More re-reading. I was meant to be looking at the section on the Ballad again, but got distracted by these bits on the Villanelle, Ballade and Cento. It's all brilliantly written, of course, and very engaging.
I should really be a good boy and return to reading it in order too.

Watchmen: Portraits by Clay Enos
See here for me thoughts on this book.


The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand & Eavan Boland
The Ballad (p.73-98)
Having settled on the Ballad as the form for me, I'm now trying to read some and get an idea of how to do it well. Or an idea of what to write about. And so I've re-read this section of Making of a Poem, which features several good examples. However, most of them are rather old and consequently perhaps not the best guideline for modern work.


Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places) by Nightwish
See here for my thoughts on this album.

Listening to Made in Hong Kong set me off listening to a few other Nightwish things, some of which I'd bought but not yet listened to. Normally I wouldn't mention most of these, but I had the following to say...

Dark Passion Play by Nightwish
The album from which all of Made in Hong Kong's live tracks are taken. This is the first time I've listened to it for a while. It's not quite as good as Once, the band's absolute high point in my opinion, but it's a good effort nonetheless. Most importantly, as the first album after the departure of original lead vocalist Tarja Turunen it shows definitively that Nightwish can go on successfully without her.

The Islander (single) by Nightwish
The Islander is one of my favourite tracks on Dark Passion Play, with a nice folkish vibe to it. Here it's accompanied by an instrumental version of Escapist, a track included as a B-side on the Bye Bye Beautiful single and as a bonus track on Made in Hong Kong. This instrumental is great, I think.
Also included is an orchestral version of album-closer Meadows of Heaven. A grand, 7-minute, orchestra-led epic, Meadows of Heaven works brilliantly like this -- not perfectly, as the guitars and so forth are missing, but better than the orchestral version of Ghost Love Score, another brilliant orchestra-led track (from the previous album) which featured guitars so integrally it fails without them.


24 movie heading to Europe? by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
Not really news -- as long as there's been discussion of a 24 movie it's been mooted that London wold be the setting -- but the concept of Jack being able to traverse Europe within the timespan is quite a neat one. On the other hand, it's still not a concept that really works as a movie. You either do it as two hours of real time, which isn't "24", or do the producers' oft-discussed method, where one hour of the film covers 23 hours and the final hour is real time -- which is just an ordinary thriller with a clock pointing the timings out to you. But hey, we'll see -- they might not even make it yet.

David Chase cuts Ribbon at HBO by Michael Schneider
(from Variety)
This series sounds great. And if they can pull it off, it will be.

Five Favorite Films with Alex Proyas by Jen Yamato
(from Rotten Tomatoes)
Not quite as good as Danny Boyle's from a few weeks back, but Proyas is a good filmmaker (Dark City is underrated and I, Robot isn't anything like as bad as some would have us believe) and his choices and interview are interesting.

Radio 4 ditches last remaining children's series by Ben Dowell
(from guardian.co.uk)
"Go4it [the cancelled series] sometimes registered zero listeners from its target four-to-14 age range, with an average of about 20,000 listeners in that age bracket tuning in. The average age of its 450,000 listeners was between 52 and 55." It's a shame really, but also, it must be said, quite funny.

Way Cooler Than Anything In Either Alien Vs. Predator Film... by Merrick
(from Ain't It Cool News)
Amusing indeed.

Watchmen: Portraits

by Clay Enos

I only had a relatively fast look through this beautifully huge volume, but it was enough to garner the following thoughts:

The format, blurb and price give away the truth: this isn't really a Watchmen tie-in book, it's a book of photography -- portraiture, to be precise -- that happens to be about Watchmen. It's the visual-arts equivalent of poetry, where each unexplained image is designed to be perused slowly for its own beauty and its placement in relation to the other images, not rushed over in pursuit of an overall narrative. It is, if you will, an Art of the Film book taken to its furthest extreme.

However many times you've seen the film -- and, for some people, that's already a bizarrely large number -- there will still be far more faces here you don't recognise than those you do. For example, in amongst the previously faceless punks, prostitutes, protestors, prisoners, politicians and pedestrians there is only one shot of Nite Owl II and not even that many of Dan Dreiberg or a CGI Dr Manhattan.

This isn't about the film, it's about the people, and the art.

Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places) by Nightwish

Nightwish's latest is a live CD (plus documentary DVD), including a variety of tracks from their most recent album as performed on their most recent tour. The selections are, shall we say, interesting -- as well as the singles (Bye Bye Beautiful, Amaranth) and centrepiece track (The Poet and the Pendulum) they offer up a couple of songs I can't even remember. In fact, a glance at my iTunes playcounts reveals I've only listened to them twice, as opposed to the decent double-figures of some tracks not included here. It's a shame, to say the least.

Arguably the most notable omission is Eva, which was the first single released featuring the group's new frontwoman, Anette Olzon. Talking of Olzon, while she was fine on the album she seems a bit weak live, leaving a few songs sounding decent but not as good as their studio counterparts. Those with male lead vocalists, or instrumental track Last of the Wilds, seem to transfer best.

The album is pushed up to 66-minute running time by the inclusion of some B-sides (and one new demo version). A nice inclusion for some, I'm sure, but in the days when individual tracks are easily acquired by digital download, any band/company which does this begins to seem a tad greedy, as fans will surely have got hold of these tracks already (I know I had). To be fair, it does no harm them being there if the alternative was blank space, but equally it could've been used for some more live cuts.

The Pope wants Africans to die of AIDS

Pope says condoms are not the solution to Aids - they make it worse by Richard Owen
(from Times Online)

The Pope courted further controversy on his first trip to Africa today by declaring that condoms were not a solution to the Aids epidemic – but were instead part of the problem.

Yeah, helpful.