Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I haven't posted for some time, I'm not sure why. The blog muse is a fickle creature, and it isn't as if there hasn't been stuff for me to post about. I did a quick search the other day to confirm I never mentioned the trifling matter of Monty, our prized boxer dog (former pup, now deadly behemoth) being found with his little mate Chester throwing an Eastern Brown snake between them up the hill. And then, when being called, failing to catch the EB, getting bitten by it and very nearly dying. As the EB is the second deadliest snake in the world.
Nor did I chronicle that same EB coming back to terrorise our house like the dude Ed Harris played in A History of Violence by appearing in the rose garden, the retaining hall, the chook house and near the water tank until we forcefully evicted it. FROM THIS MORTAL COIL!
It has been Christmas, though, which is generally a notable time of year. I was thinking about it again when my brother casually mentioned that Tony Martin has two books out and my dad expressed amazement at this revelation, causing me to irritably point out that not only do we have one of them, I bought it as a Christmas gift last year that he never even looked at. He was disbelieving until I rooted the book of the most unreachable area of the coffee table, behind the National Geographics and buried under cheap, musty paperbacks liberated from the second-hand shop in town. He's since been reading it through and pissing himself laughing at the incredibly nerdy childhood antics of everyone's favourite ex-pat Kiwi comedian not named Cal Wilson, and I've been the getting the latest ever satisfaction from a present that has been enjoyed.
The haul for myself this year was quite good, as my brother and his semi-defacto-possibly-fiance girlfriend went on a bit of a present shopping spree. No extra gig of memory, but that's cool I let it slide y'all. I have *drum roll*
A mobile phone, as the course of this year revealed it could actually be useful for me and there are circumstances where more than one of us are out of the house and so the family one doesn't quite cut it.
Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Siege and Battleflag - two books so well chosen you'd have thought that I was actually there with mum in Borders pointing out the two that she'd need to get me at her request.
A copy of Rome: Total War as an early present, from a close friend now working at EB (Electronics Boutique, not the Eastern Brown snake shop) looking for any games marked well below $20 that would cost him about 10 dollars with his staff discount which I also picked out, given that Ricky Ponting's International Cricket 2005 was slightly too expensive (WHY does it always cost more than 2007???) Having played the game briefly I need to say it is fun and engenders feelings of megalomania in those who play it, as all strategy games should.
Two seasons of Scrubs on DVD which is kind of interesting as I borrowed all the discs from fellow student Nadia this year and watched through them, but the show is of so high a quality this could in no way danger the enjoyement that can be reaped from them. In fact, it's slightly embarassing that I came to the show so late (in it's sixth year!) because my viewing habits were so dependant on what my parents wanted to watch throughout high school. God bless Torrents.
Nothing Doctor Who related which was a minor surprise, but cool with me.
A watch, one of those presents that made me stunned by the keen abilities of others to pick up what a good gift would be. When cleaning up the 'other' house on our property - the temporary shack we lived in for, ooh, 16 years while the 'real' house was being built (for about 12 of those years only in theory) I found my old watch which I really liked. It had buckets of sentimental value as it was a present from my now-deceased grandfather, beautifully engraved and has a lovely leather band that fits perfectly. Unfortunately, it's quite cheap and basically stopped completely, needing to be fixed, every fucking time it rained. When I found it, I casually remarked how much I liked having a watch to check up on and before you know it I've got a genuinely classy one. Boss.
A box of Junior Mints, though one was given to everyone in the household by my brother because he has a source and we're all a bunch of hopeless Seinfeld fanboys essnetially. There are episodes I can probably quote in their entirety if I was to try.
A box of Lynx deodorant and shower gel and this one seems to be an annual gift from the pseudo sister-in-law, the obvious implication being that I have truly offensive BO and need to get something done about it. I feel half like taking offence at it, but if I did then I wouldn't get any more free cosmetics and as is, thanks to my Scottish-inherited Hyper Frugality I can make one of those deodorant cans last more than a year. Before long I'll be set for life. (Seriously, there's more in a can of deodorant than most people realise)
A USB flash drive which is completely unexciting, but handy because I lost my old one and I'm not even sure how I did it or if it had any precious porn on it at the time.
The Chaser Annual, which I'd forgotten about until I just saw it - I should check that out. On the subject of the Chaser, and though this is something I have been advised about saying by absolutely everyone I have said it to, I think the Cancer Kids sketch was just plain funny. I maintain that. No, not the 'Why go to all that effort, when they're just going to die anyway' line, but before that when we see a very eager Andrew saying "So, I understand you wanted to meet Zac Efron, is that right? Well.. how about this stick instead?" That fucking killed me. Even typing it just then I had a big smile on my face.
Come to think of it, I don't even know if I posted anything about that. I thought the media beat-up was completely ludicrous, and vindicating wack-job women who are apparently capable of getting so outraged by TV shows that they say they lose their breath and claim to suffer the symptoms of a heart attack isn't giving them any credibility in my book. As has been said, if you concern yourself with the most sensitive people that's where censorship starts. If you were to just ask people on the street, then you'd get a more logical answer.
Those people did answer, and so ultimately the skit crossed the line (whilst still being HILARIOUS) and they didn't cross the line again. Whilst still being HILARIOUS. I didn't think the nutjobs needed such a thorough airing, including whichever AM shockjock it was offering a prize for anyone who could get him the Chaser's home addresses, a 'brainsnap' somewhere in the vicinity of Alan Jones' "Let's Break Australia's Record for Race Riots This Sunday!" promotion.
So that's Christmas covered somewhere in that rant.
I've recently gotten the image of a racist-cum-neo Nazi, ironically on purely racist grounds as a fellow library student, I might just name Ashley Kasturnen who I got on fairly well with enjoyed starting arguments with me on entirely baseless terms. Because he's half-Turkish or round-a-bouts, so visibly either foreign-ish OR a guy with a bit of a tan he infrequently decided to identify as black, and claim that I was racist for any comment about any culture, because I'm pale and have blond hair.
To play with the idea I often made some genuinely insensitive comments, albeit facetiously. This backfired a little when I put a swag of amusing errata from my harddrive onto a disc for another classmate, and happened to choose a little video some people online operating under the name 'The Whitest Kids' entitled 'The Hitler Rap'. No, it is exactly what it sounds like. When she watched this one in the middle of class some people interpreted this in certain ways..
Now I'm feeling especially awkward as I'm using all the multi-billion dollar power of Google to try and find out whether cricketer Nathan Hauritz is Jewish. I know, there is no savoury reason to want to know this! Well.. except one, kind of, as I read somewhere before that he was and I've casually described him to other people as "the world's greatest Jewish off-spinner" because it is a sport decidedly seen as non-Jewish if only explicitly. But then I tried to remember where the hell I'd read this because I've seen it nowhere else since.
The answer - possibly my own mind. The most helpful match (and that is VERY relative) I came up with is a thread called 'Jewish Current XI' at site named "Sport Taco'.
Darren Lehmann (c)
Chris Nevin (wk)
They could beat many of the Test teams.
This response, incidentally, wins the award for Jared's Christmas Spirit Post of the Year:
Presumably by occupying the pitch, and then shooting the opposition players on suspicion of wanting to come on the pitch and attack them. Now go away, you nasty little bigot.
I doubt Lehmann, Oram or Hauritz would endorse such behaviour, being fine upstanding players but I can imagine Flintoff endorsing it. At any rate, no proof was offered and the general consensus was that the thread was a rather racist presumption that everybody with, erm, Jewishesque names was the real Dradl, when they might just be a bunch of Alan Aldas. Hmm, how could I put that in as tactful a way as possible?
have you been looking in the players showers after the game, I wonder
Thank you, person from that thread. Some more fine work. If nothing else the 'research' made me feel less racist.
Now, turned to Wikipedia and NM Hauritz is not listed in their section of "Jewish cricketers" a very helpful category. As Wikipedia is the repository of all knowledge I'm taking this as wrote that I was completely wrong about our beloved offie and hope no offense is to be caused (HAHAHAHA!) by this little piece.
How did this even spring to my mind? Because Hauritz kicked arse by taking FIVE MOTHERFUCKING WICKETS against Pakistan awww yeah!
Yes, there's a new Doctor Who story out there. Of course I haven't seen it yet - I don't have any bloody broadband. I have no options here! I just need to sit here, unquiet and slowly going mad in the gloom while the 'net just EXPLODES. I already know too much - the Master's in it, Donna's in it... the mother from Ab Fab is in it! I think.
Yes, that is too much for me, I am not a Doctor Who Mag guy.
Everything I've heard though suggests to me that I'm not going to like this episode at all. Everytime RTD has planned a story with a raft of elements from the past, often not actually from the past at all but really self-indulgent and recursive obsessing over his own small patch of the canon, the result has ranged from underwhelming to complete shite - with The New Doctor at the underwhelming end of the scale and Journey to Stolen Earth of Donna gets Fucked Over on the obvious end.
Similarly, everytime RTD does a big "This plot has ended. It's ended!" moment and then goes back on it, I've been similarly unimpressed. I didn't even like Rose's exit in Doomsday to begin with, but at least it had finality. The comeback in TSE was limp and shallow, and not even terriby interesting, if anything forcing the Doctor to go backwards a bit in terms of character development.
Likewise the Daleks have gone through a series of fairly impressive diminishing returns to the point I think they are hands-down the most boring enemy in the show, taking the role of Batman in internet nerd talk. (That's a good question, though - who wins a fight between Batman and the Daleks? Kleenex sales?) And I guess similarly if it was possible for the Cyberman to be less Cyberman-ly than in AOG they managed it when they appointed some random feminzai as their God and found she kicked their arses.
Did I rant about that, by the way? Okay, I can understand Daleks beating Cybermen. I don't like it but it's definitely understandable. But random chicks in the 19th Century played by an actress so hammy she'd give a Rabbi a heart attack smacking them down and making them her bitch? Come the fuck on. To come back from this The Cybermen need to win. They need to royally kick arse on the Doctor. Earthshock II. Followed by Earthshock III and IV before the Doctor can finally get one over them in the season finale. Then they might have some credibility again after this fucking debacle. God, as if Silver Nemesis wasn't bad enough!
Ahem, what I was getting at is that RTD bringing back stuff that he has killed and buried and napalmed the grave off has not gone well and I'm expecting it to be worse when Donna comes back. Even if it's just dream sequence, there'll still be the baggage and I'm hearing everyone else is coming back too... god damn.
The closest template I have is The Stolen Earth, the other time that RTD's combined "modern Five Doctors" with "event bigness special!" and dear God was that one of the many contenders for 'worst story ever' we've had served up in a short period. Bad Wolf and Last of the Time Lords showed that he can write good finales, without even being ludicrously mind-bendingly massive, but when he feels the need to start a whirlpool of recurring figures joining the Doctor left-right-and-centre everything goes to pot. This is Tennant's story, and even though all we've had as a sign of what's to come is a solitary Ood, I doubt it will be terribly low key.
The irony is that I'm writing speculation for it at a time when everybody else has stopped because they've seen the bloody thing. Interestingly somebody I know seemingly deleted their review after I changed my status on Facebook threatening death to anyone who gave me spoilers. It's okay, Ewen, I saw the massive spoiler warning in red font you made.
Now... when the hell am I going to be able to get a copy? Been waiting for contact with my source for a couple of days now...
Phew, nearly forgot to delete all those "Is Hauritz Jewish" searches from Internet Explorer's history..
It may also be possible that I've grown out of Ben Chatham. Or the stories are becoming increasingly more childish.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
No, I am already wearing my coat.
Yesterday.. I watched The Love Guru. To try and explain this I had actually ran out of things to watch. No new Stargate Universe, no new Office, no American Dad, Cleveland Show, Family Guy, no Doctor Who or Torchwood of course, not even a Fringe. There were 5 odd episodes of the new Dollhouse but FUCK THAT (they're in the mail, enjoy Ewen!) so I looked around at weird things my brother decided to give me that I never checked out.
I guess he decided to give TLG because I laughed at a lot of the jokes in Goldmember. I'm the only person I know who actually did this, due to the fact that I'm also the only person I know who didn't watch the first two movies and thus was actually seeing the jokes for the first time. This was fairly misjudged.
When you see it's article in Wikipedia is filed under the category "Films regarded the worst ever" be assured this is not without reason. Okay, it cannot seriously compete with Manos: The Hands of Fate or Cesar Romero's The Lost Continent or any other film featured on MST3K, but this film is very definitely BAD with capital everything. It can even be physically sickening, due to the horrendous physical ugliness of Mike Myer's character, and moments such as Ben Kingsley pissing into a bucket, Myer's manservant helping him floss his arse, endless jokes from Myers about incontinence, two elephants humping for vague reasons and Myers shoving his head up his own arse as part of his morning exercise regimen.
I can recommend the film as a masterclass in what not to do in a comedy, however. Clearly some of them are not as obvious as you would think - for example, casting a beautiful woman who cannot act in place of a comedienne as the female lead. Or, say, having the main character endlessly torment and beat the shit out of a midget character and expect audience support for no real reason. Or having the main character make cheesy, unfunny jokes endlessly - then compounding this by having him laugh hysterically at himself for 15 seconds while other characters look off-screen, as if pondering whether this is actually a take.
There are good points in the film - as mentioned Sir Ben Kingsley features (Christ knows why) and manages to make disgusting scenes amusing through sheer force of supernatural Hinduistic will. Stephen Colbert and John Oliver are also brilliant comedians, though can't quite manage the same feat - Colbert is the funniest character in the film, though amazingly at the same time the least subtle, as an insane hockey commentator with zero attention span and a drug habit he talks about a lot. The big problem with his scenes is that of everything else in the film - as soon as a halfway clever joke is made, this is then re-explained to the audience. Because of this 'outright contempt' method of storytelling the main plot takes around 20 minutes to be established.
The amazing thing is that people have complained about the Wayne's World reference in the film reminding them of much, much better work of Myers'. Considering that I consider WW to be the absolute worst comedy I have ever seen, and that then people who consider THAT some sort of twisted pinnacle are saying this film is shit.. is probably an indication of how bad it is. (Bear in mind, that if you remove every scene not featuring Mike Myers, this film is definitely worse - it's only tangential elements that lift it up)
Probably the saddest aspect is that Mike Myers spent five years forgoing work to try and 'perfect' the character of Guru Pitka. To know that you're seeing FIVE YEARS of somebody's life up on screen in this cinematical shit storm is absolutely tragic. You expect more than some lame Indian-English puns and a bucketload of cock and turd gags from, to put it again in perspective, 1, 826 DAYS of thought.
... yeah, I know, what have I done in that time...
The issue of videogames not having an R18+ rating in Australia has actually gotten big enough to be featured on ABC news. I am amazed, but when it became clear that current policy is blocking the latest Alien Versus Predator game, this makes sense. This country stands to lose a lot of money from this...
Most opposition comes from the South Australian attorney general.. who I think is Michael Atkinson but I can't remember. His arguments are fairly odd, generally of vague notions about protecting children. This is something I feel strongly about, because this is about choice. With the internet, all these choices are available. Yes, Postal 2 is banned in Australia. But I could easily download it, play it, and suck my trousers while laughing at the sight of P-man burning and pissing on terrorists on his way to buy some milk at the store. So can (and do) kids under 18.
I guess the issue is a lack of faith in videogame stores to make any effort to actually enforce the rating. They could possibly have a point, but I fail to see this as an insurmountable issue. It's a retail job, they get taught a new procedure and then they do it. It's not rocket surgery!
The story provoked an odd reaction from my dad, though, who scoffed at the 'fucking losers' who were gamers in their 30s. Showing a bit of a lack of sensitivity towards myself, I thought...
New Tales of Monkey Island is out I am so thrilled!!!!
On a podcast I just listened to a noted Canadian homosexual (he actually is homosexual, I'm not passive agressively gay-bashing for a change) called Malcolm Ingram was incredibly insistent that Kurt Russell is not a movie star because a film was never marketed off him specifically.
Man... what the fuck? Breakdown, Overboard, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York... for a moment I was thinking maybe he was saying in the pantheon of Hollywood he wasn't a big enough star, then he compares him unfavourably to Val Kilmer.. Val Kilmer???
I talk a lot of movie talk and the name Val Kilmer has never, NEVER come up when I've talked actors to people. Off the top of my head I can't name a single film he was in, except I keep thinking he was one of the screen Batmans... (Actually... he may be the Tim Burton one.. no, wait, that was Michael Keaton! Should probably google this soon..)
But Kurt Russell? He may not be the bomb but he is definitely in the vicinity.
It made me curious, though - is that what makes a specific 'star', being a cog in the meaningless Hollywood money mill... or is it being an actor that people actually talk fondly about? By the latter standard Bruce Campbell and Adam West are probably bigger stars than Jessica Alba and Shia LeBioeuf (how the FUCK is that name spelt, really? I know that's wrong but that's all I know..) and in my books that's no bad thing..
A big surprise for me has been that the new series of Scrubs is, thus far, really good. Okay, there have only been two episodes but they've been good. The torch is being passed on to a new generation, and there's been enough wackiness to distract you from the odd premise (the hospital is now on a med-school campus! .. does it really work like that?) and the new cast of characters are promises, even if seemingly slightly vanilla compared to the old. That said, Turk and Cox are clearly there to stay, with the latter very much fulfilling the same much loved role of HATING EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING.
Stargate Universe needs props. I've been surprised that I've actually enjoyed it more, not less, when I have re-watched it. I like every character. That probably isn't a big deal to most people, but I hate EVERYONE. I even hate you. (Not really. OR IS IT? I'm an enigma. Don't fuck with me) The writers kept a step ahead of me, by taking the two characters I took issue with and fixing them up - for the record, Scott and TJ. One was too perfect, the other a cardboard cutout. That has been dealt with neatly.
The show brings me some contact-angst though, in the love triangle. Eli Wallace, resident plump, though charismatic, geek clearly won't be able to get with the cute Chloe Armstrong, especially now she's banging Scott as though he somehow brough a year's supply of condoms through the Stargate, and I empathise with this so much due to my past as the fat guy of my high school. Borders on cynical on the part of the writers that...
Batman Forever, of course! I kept thinking that was the George Clooney one, but of course that was Batman and Robin - incidentally the most popular outing of the characters ever.
The clear thing is that the line-up must change before the next Test. And on cue the selectors have confidently announced that they will do nothing.
For the record... actually I don't know what my team would look like. But hey, I'll pull names out of a hat!
1. Shane Watson
2. Chris Rogers
3. Ricky Ponting
4. Cameron White
5. David Hussey
6. Andrew MacDonald
7. Tim Paine
8. Mitchell Johnson
9. Nathan Hauritz
10. Stuart Clark
11. Doug Bollinger
Yes, that's right, tree-huggers! I KEPT Watson at the top of the order!
I'll keep that run-down out in fairlytale land where it belongs, though, and focus on the real bane of the lineup - Michael Hussey. The favourite batsman of every bowler in the planet for making them look good. This pale, sun-screen soaked dorky bundle of nerves flinches at every ball, waves his bat around like a maniac and - regardless of where the hell the ball goes - jumps a metre out of his crease every single time, often while yelling "NOOOOOOOOO!". Mixed messages are his speciality. On top of all this he dishes out laughably inaccurate weather forecasts on the ABC every night..
Co-incidence? There is no such thing..
Clearly this proboscally-overendowed 34-year-old n00b has to go - it's a long time since his prime, in the days when his postman father threw rocks at him as he defended himself with a piece of pailing-fence cut off. (Seriously, this did happen - interestingly not as a sinister case of domestic childhood abuse but actually his dad training up for the post office's annual match. What a wonderous place WA must have been in the late 70s...)
The question is, who to replace him? Well, that mystery's already solved if you read my above list - kinda - in the big-hitting part-time leggie, the mysteriously crab-eyed and aryan Cameron White..
Or, to be more racially-minded, this random black guy apparently also named Cameron White..
God bless Google Image Search for it's abilty to uncover fresh talent. This whole post will also be unintelligible if any of these links break....
However, when I put the question to my dad who should take Hussey's place in the side, he had a much more interesting and unexpected answer....
Australia's secret weapon?
On the face of it, this may seem a big ask. I admit, the stats are not terrific..
But he was a fiercely competetive club cricketer, regaling me with dozens of tales of his time at the creases. A strong all-rounder, fielding in slips, covers, the outfield and a frequent keeper as well as bowling both off-break and express and an aggressive wielder of the bat. I don't know if there's any chance of him meeting Mike Hussey's average of 35 for the series so far (his high score was 45*) but there's no doubt he could score such runs at a Strike Rate well above Hussey's one run per 5 balls. Plus he'd be able to cover for the team's many other deficiencies, providing a wide range of options. 5 man pace attack? Boom, you've got it. Spinners at both ends? Ditto. Haddin wants a bowl? Pass PW Hansen the gloves. Wrist spin? Ehhh... he'll give it a go. Don't expect magic - he's no Simon Katich.
He never made a five-for, sadly, but assures me he would have if only the fielders were any good, and his career was checquered in history - his claim to fame is both being present at possibly the only ever fist fight in a cricket match, and not being hauled to a NSW cricket tribunal to explain his actions. (He was the umpire of the match, forced by circumstance to adjudge an LB decision against a team mate which lead to a king hit. You can work out the rest, I am sure..)
In a team of the walking dead that Australia's using now, he's also a good candidate to avoid injury. When a Sydney knee specialist who worked with all the rugby league stars of the day cut him open he announced my dad had officially the worst knee-joints he had ever seen, and that he'd be in a wheel chair in eight year's time. That was nearly twenty years ago - it takes some serious injuries to bring this guy down.
You know it makes sense, Cricket Australia.
My dad also wants to throw down on Tony Abbott and meet him in the boxing ring, Uwe Boll style. I've got his back on that one.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Major George Johnston surveyed the ranks - if they could be called that. The ragged figures were stretched unevenly over the hillock, clutching to the dubious chunk of high ground as if it would give them strength. But the Major had seen these sorties before, against his tussles with the weaker French colonial forces, and knew how such a force would fight when the redcoats marched in. That wasn't his problem, though, and for a moment his lined face took on a grimace as he thought about the carnage he would soon need to unleash.
At the moment, however, he was exposed. He glanced over his soldier, to the hill behind, but it was still naked - naught but the dry, dusty and dead earth that this awful land seemed to breed. At the edge of hearing he thought he could detect the beat of the drums - but this told him nothing. The crack of musketry had eaten away at his hearing and now he couldn't even judge how far artillery was. He guessed the men were some five minutes away...
"They'll be here soon, sir." Trooper Tufnell said, sensing his anxiety. Tufnell was well spoken, polite, and honest - a nice man but a terrible soldier. Without his letters he could never make an officer but he could handle a horse, so he rode alongside Johnston and often ahead as a scout, and now held the white flag aloft on a hefty pike, which still had it's rusty iron head nailed to its tip.
"I'm sure they'll make good pace, Tufnell... but I'm worried for us." Johnston's eyes scanned the hill again. A little over two hundred men. He had twenty-eight men he knew would fight well marching behind.. and fifty-one militiamen behind them, who probably wouldn't. It wasn't a force that would impress the rebels at all, especially now that the dust kicked up over their harried night march smeared their redcoats - they looked barely more impressive than the damned rebels. And with a weak-looking force at his backs, the rebels would feel strong... and they could well do something stupid.
"It ain't drawing them, sir..." said Tufnell pointedly, nodding towards the flag. And he was right. The rebels had turned and looked to start marching again. And if they reached the Hawkesbury there was nothing that could be done. Now Major Johnston needed to be a bastard...
"If Mohammed won't go to the mountain..."
"Are we attacking?" The lad sounded horrified and scared, but spurred his horse forward regardless.
"Of course not!" The rebuke had a strangely hollow sound to it "We're under a flag of truce, ain't we?"
Tufnell nervously looked across and saw the Major stealthily slip his flintlock out of his belt, but opted to say nothing as they rode to the rebel lines. A halt was called in an Irish brogue, and all ranks turned quickly - so quickly that one man in the rear ranks pulled his trigger by mistake and one of the apparent leaders had to roar like a bear for them to hold fire. Tufnell's heart was in his throat, as rebels seemed a pin-drop away from a full volley at the pair of them, and with two hundred musket balls in the air, surely one would need to hit them...
"Parley!" shouted Johnston "Parley!"
Glances were exchanged, but none of the rebels moved forward. Tufnell and Johnston, however, will still riding forward. Soon they'd be in pistol shot, a voice cried in the youth's mind...
"How long would you say till our boys come 'round the hill, Trooper?" asked Johnston with a calmness he couldn't possibly feel. Tufnell's mind reeled at the interruption, and he realised that Johnston had slowed to a very slow trot.
"Erm... I'd guess a minute now, sir." He could hear the drums very clearly now.
"That's good, Tufnell. You're a good guess-maker. You're going to need to be good at something else."
"Think you can swing that pikestaff?" Tufnell's eyes widened in shock at what he was being asked to do, but Johnston held up a hand placatingly, a sympathetic look shining through his blue eyes "No, I don't want you to kill anyone. Not here. Just.. teach them a lesson."
Tufnell saw that Johnstone was just as uncomfortable as he himself was with the situation and so nodded. If it wasn't killing under a flag of truce, than he guessed that would be okay...
The Major called a halt. They were now only eight or so yards away from the rebel line. Tufnell could count the stains on their trousers, he could smell the sweat and the saltpetre now...
"Gentlemen, I call a parley," said Johnston, in a clear, ringing, and above all innocent voice. "Is there any of you with authority? Come forward, I beg of you!"
The drums were close now, but still not over the ridge...
Two of the rebels came forward to the horses, they walked slowly but, as a sign of faith, slung their muskets over their shoulders. It was a cold morning but they had little to wear, thin, cheap coats over ragged moth-bitten flannel shirts and grimy canvas trousers. Their faces were indeterminant, hidden by ragged beards and layers of grime. One of the men had no boots, Tufnell saw, and for a moment felt sad for his enemy, as he knew that The Major had crushed the French in his day and these convict rebels would go the same way in a matter of minutes now.
"What do ya want?" was the curt demand of the apparent rebel leader, speaking with a thick Irish accent.
"Your immediate and unconditional surrender. I am not without influence with Governor King, so there may be leniency, and we need men so your fellows shall be safe. It is in neither of our interests to fight here today."
"We're here to get rid of people like you!" The man shouted, and his spittle flecked over the Major's fine red jacket. Johnston was unflinching.
"You don't have much time left for that surrender. Over that hill there, any second now, shall come 80 armed men who have marched through the night for a battle," Johnston's eyes shone with passion and Tufnell saw he truly did not want to fight "They are men who would march through Hades for a chance to kill an Irishmen and by God once this battle begins I don't know if I have the power to stop it. Give me your surrender now!"
Whether he could have our would have was uncertain, as at that moment the New South Wales Corps. finally rounded the hill. As the Major had ordered, the redcoats all marched in a direct line ahead of the militiamen, in two ranks of fourteen, to give the impression of a mighty column rather than a tiny warband. The rebel's face either hardened or grimaced at the sight, but Tufnell could not be sure as his heavy face surrendered little insight. What he did see, though, were the rebel ranks, as one, raising their guns to aim at the approaching column, even though they were well out of range. And, at that moment, he felt a terrible dread. He knew exactly what the Major had planned.
"Mr Tufnell," Johnston said softly "If you will oblige me..."
I remember at the time liking the atmosphere I'd set up...
Once again, I have waited too long. Knowing that the BBC had an avenue for open submissions I didn't put aside the time I should have to finish a script I was writing that was as damn close to anything I've ever written in the first place. Now submissions are open... for British residents only. If I ever get a script made it isn't going to be courtesy of them, and now it's looking unlikely that it's ever going to happen. I really could have done without another reason to feel like my life has been a misguided waste of time.
All I've ever wanted to do is work in a creative field. Nobody has ever wanted me to. Not my teachers, not my family, maybe one of my friends and the rest thought I was just a fucking weirdo. So nobody has ever given me any helpful advice and I've just been pushed along inevitably towards a completely beige and fucking boring existence in the lower-middle-class circle of hell. I've spent a couple of years smiling and lying through my teeth that I'll be happy in I.T, happy in a library - well I won't. Not least because I'll hate the work, but also because of the fact that I'm apparently unable to get any job in the first place.
Screw that, I can't even get a Tax File number. They give everyone in school one except me, and then everywhere I go that's meant to stock a form for them I can't even get one. Rejected by fate and the NSW state government alike.
I wasn't expecting this to affect me so much. But I feel like I'm writing an obituary for myself. I pinned hopes on writing a script good enough to sell. To getting contacts from there, moving to England where there's work and carving out a living. I didn't realise what a small brand of hope I was relying on from the offset, for what should be easily attainable for most people but for me was an outlandish and fantastical dream. You can bet Bob Holmes didn't dream of becoming a script editor for a saturday teatime sci-fi so he could die a day or so after a talentless hack told him he couldn't write for shit, but even to have the oppurtunity was all I've wanted in life and I haven't even realised it.
Hopefully the new Scrubs will cheer me up so I can go back to living my life in a disgusting and terrible state of denial.
Apologies, this was meant to be a funny post.
NB: Actually, writing that out was kind of like an exorcism. Just ten minutes later and I feel a lot better. Christ I'm a mercurial fucker.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Been slow off the mark with this one, that's for sure. Got the episode last week or some such time, but I've been too bloody tired to watch it past the fifteen minute mark... finally watched it last night, my mum having the unusual honour (for her) of sharing the burst of a new episode cherry. Hopefully that's the worst metaphor I've ever attempted.
What did I think of Waters of Mars? Tremendously underwhelmed would be a neat summary of my thoughts. Again, it faces an uphill battle because this is the terrible gap year we're in the middle of - stories that are primarily arc-driven don't have any context to fall back on, and this is very much an arc storyline. There is scarcely any plot at all to the episode, with only the faintest glimmer of a story.
There is a virus in the water. It is evil and it wants Earth. It turns people into zombies. Really, these are just bullet points and I guess in a way it's reminiscent of Inferno and the way it shoved zombies in when they realised the story needed a bit more tension. The episode is concerned with the well established drama of the future historical, where the Doctor knows the outcome and his duty not to change it. In a way this is much the same as the drama in umpteen William Hartnell stories, so there's some interest there in the constants in the show - is this really so different, for example, from The Aztecs?
Probably not, but I know I felt like I had watched a full story at the end of The Terror of Tlotoxl (best villainous name ever, btw) and the resounding feeling I was left with at the end of the latest special was that I'd seen one stepping stone to the end of Dave Tennant, almost like part three of a reeeeally strange four parter. In a way I feel like I'm not really qualified to offer an opinion until I've seen... erm, The Death of Time? I really haven't been following this well...
Many of my issues are with the entrenched formulaicness of the New Series, forumla being something I find tiresome at the best of times (I've known to get near-violently irritated by recaps and how LCD-pitched they often are) and this is one of the points I will gladly side cautiously by Mad Larry upon, at least briefly. The cold open is especially dull, achieving nothing, as often is the case that has not already known by anyone interested (or even not that interested, such as myself) nor even anything that isn't explained expressly directly on the episode proper starts. For myself, I would have liked a Troughton style opening where we just see things from the base perspective, Seeds of Death-style and Gadget shows up with the Doctor two-three minutes in. Build up the setting.
Of course, this approach wasn't taken due to the fact that the setting isn't particularly relevant as once again this is entirely a character-driven adventure. And by that I mean a two-character piece - Adelaide and the Doctor. Why? Because we need two stars to get billing for the show, and unless their roles are actually big enough agents won't be happy. But ask why to that - why the hell does it matter? Yes, it's format but so frigging what? Ignore it.
It is quite interesting that effect of having the Doctor's face appearing out of the timestream credits was dismissed as redundant - somebody stated that the audience should know what the main character looks like and the effect was something of a dumbing down to begin with. And yet nothing seen as negative about having the actor's name, in ludicrously large font, spinning alongside the TARDIS until it fills our screens. Truly, this was the point where the show advertised that it was to be Doctor Who Suprasized, and yet I never noticed it until recently.
The plot thus gets drawn into this vacuum of +10 vacuosity - we need a headline 'performer' alongside David Tennat, and it needs to be a female, and she needs a juicy chunk of the story to justify such auspicious creditation. So Adelaide gets her role inflated as the Doctor's childhood hero and the Daleks' chosen-one-by-proxy to the point she hogs all screentime and we don't get to know anyone else in the base. It's an odd conundrum - being billed so high she's a dead certainty to be alive until the credits, but because of her position we don't really get to know much about any of the other Bowies so we (I speak for myself, obviously - I guess I use the 'royal' we beloved by online dickheads..) don't care much about what happens to them.
Good stories can pull this off - I'm not sure that this one quite gelled. A big part of it is probably that Adelaide isn't a terribly sympathetic character, given that she just plain isn't that likeable. Whether it's performance, writing or direction I do not know, but Addie is a very abrasive, short-tempered woman who does not seem even that competent a commander in the first place. So un-Doctorly is her portrayal in various ways that it stretches credibility that the Doctor should not be even a little disillusioned upon meeting her.
The key moment of bonding, where the Doctor says "When you didn't shoot him... I loved you" especially seems forced, because of the simple fact she does not seem close to hesitating before the Doctor pleads with her not to shoot. In my eyes it made the Doctor look like a bit of an emo, trying to put significance into the smallest of moments of humanity - if you're generous I guess it could be read as denial on his part that Adelaide is not the woman he imagined to be her and is, in fact, his enemy in this story.
If the awkwardness is deliberate, I guess they did a good job because it's completely impossible to warm to Adelaide. Even when she rightfully points out what the Doctor has done, she does so on the odd platform guest characters have done in the show recently - talking down to the interstellar being who could destroy them with a blink of the eyelid for all they know. Why IS this so common, any ideas? Although she is right, and is actually advocating the same morals that the Doctor has for decades she still doesn't do so in any way to garner sympathy, not the least for the apparent hypocrisy of the polar shift of her viewpoint on what the Doctor needs to do. (Most likely she has accepted her death - but this idea isn't communicated terribly well)
With such shortcomings in what is essentially the A-plot of the episode, you'd expect the rest of the story to be without fault. Sadly, there are plenty of cracks that show through. The makers cannot bear to sit on their hands for a second, as depressingly show by a full orchestra 'action' track blaring every single time anyone gets out of their chair and runs a short distance.
The episode contains more of the infamous 'running down corridors' padding in proportion to its total runtime, I'd wager, than any classic episode. (Planet of Spiders episode 2 does not count!) And why wouldn't Andy report a broken water filter to the commander - surely they have a system for that? At least use another fucking tap! Similarly odd to note Daleks can now apparently gaze through the Time vortex (despite only having used a time machine once, and pretty bloody badly at that, in a story everyone tries to forget) and one decides to spare Adelaide so as note to upset the balance of the space-time continuum... during a plan to BLOW UP THE UNIVERSE! Don't you think THAT'S going to upset any balances you plunger-faced retards?
This episode also contains the worst science I've seen in Doctor Who. Water hitting a steel wall is able to shortcircuit electronics on the other side. Even though every kilo taken into space is a logistical nightmare future-NASA have decided the base needs to have ludicrously large aircraft-hanger-sized corridors so the crew will 'stay fit' (as opposed to, say, exercise bikes) And, bafflingly, the sonic screwdriver is now able to generate out of thin air a jet-fuelled combustion engine onto an electronic device, hardwire the engine into the systems and throttle in. WHAT SETTING IS THAT???
I really preferred the sonic screwdriver before he started buying from Ollivanders.
To give it it's dues the story has its fair share of creepy moments. The one-by-one deaths of the crewmembers at the hands of the relentless and unstoppable zombies is very effective and well-shot, likewise the build-up to Maggie's transformation and the moment when Andy and Tarak take to the roof. A good highlight is the scene where Adelaide threatens to kill the Doctor in the airlock, as the audience, unlike our hero, finds the threat very credible (even though he obviously can't die... yet).
One of my favourite aspects was actually one of the smallest and most subtle - the craggy, stone-like transformation of the lower-face the virus causes bears a strong resemblence to the mighty Ice Warriors, and is doubtlessly not coincidence. Could they be set for a return? Well, they've brought back everything else 'cept the Yeti and I doubt they're the next cab off the rank.
The only point where the creepy atmosphere was strongly undermined was when Andy is discovered infecting Tarak. Not because it isn't disturbing, but because it reminded me instantly of the disgusting scene in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace where Rich Dagless MD discovers Matt Berry receiving a golden shower from Noel Fielding in a monkey suit. Apologies if I have now destroyed this moment for everyone else.
Props need to go to the cast as well - they are all very good in their roles in spite of the dearth of characterisation. They may have even got a genuine Australian, I say in a moment of insanity, because his voice is far more convincing than any other I've heard on British telly. I especially enjoyed the way the show seemed to go out of it's way to smack down Lawrence Miles' predictions, with the German chick actually being the most sensitive of the crew, choosing to watch a video of her [kid sister? Some young relative...] at the moment of her death, as opposed to the 'ice maiden' he so confidentally called.
An interesting sidenote for a story that seems designed to pillory the Doctor - the fuss he makes over ...erm, the Chinese girl's age comes across as somewhat hypocritical/creepy given that Roman is actually two years younger than her and doesn't get any mention. Okay, it could be because Roman is, quite simply, a dick but I got a definite vibe they're suggesting the Doctor has an unseemly obsession with pretty, twenty-something girls getting out of scrapes okay. I still like to think of the Doctor as altruistic in such matters, but the tabloid view of him as a millenia-old lusty perv seems to be infiltrating the canon slowly and surely.
Maybe we can put it down to Tenner being an unusually hormonal regeneration?
Now, here's the result of my attempt to watch the show and comment at the same time when deathly tired..
What the hell is with the Flashback... to a webpage? Are we seriously to believe that the Doctor first learnt about the Mars expeditions from BBC news, and this is the image that stuck in his memory? ... oh apparently he got all his information on them from here. Maybe we can take it that after the 5th Doctor had a very dull encounter with a band of astronauts landing on Mars in ... he decided Mars was far too boring to waste any more time on so just Googled the relevant details.
Incidentally, seeing as the Doctor clearly piloted the TARDIS here it's odd he doesn't know the year, seeing as one of his most favourite habits in recent times is striding out the doors and proudly announcing where exactly he has landed.
Fascinating to read that South Australia of all places, will have the infrastructure, industry and university base to put Australia on the map in the space race of the future...
I'd have to be a bit hypocritical to complain about that, though, considering that one of my pet peeves of fiction involving Aussies is that the birthplace of characters is almost always Sydney, as writers apparently can't be arsed to get up and look at an atlas. This reached, for me, a height in Star Cops, not the most politically open-minded, generous or well-researched show for depicting non-English peoples (Italian cops dress like the Mario Bros and plant pornography in your hotel rooms!) , wherein not only was the absurdly named Pal Kenzie born and raised in Sydney, but so too was the only other Australian character to ever appear on the show. Given the fact that the other was a woman from a dynastical Italian family notorious in the criminal underworld, you'd think Melbourne would make a lot more sense.
The polar opposite of this effect, getting bonus points from me, is Detective Robert Goren's nemesis Nicole Sullivan (?) in Law & Order: Criminal Intent who was born in Bendigo. Yes! Not even one of the seven capital cities! Or Newcastle! An actual town!
Adelaide Brooke's entry is less interesting in terms of conversational segues, aside from a spelling error certainly placed their to show that the de-evolution of journalists into base creatures with no knowledge of spelling, grammar or sentence construction shall doubtless continue at it's horrific pace. (Now all I need is Alan Stevens to quote every spelling error in this post and call my a hypocrite..)
Hmm, Yuri's entry seems to mildly suggest that systems in Russia haven't changed much since Europe thawed, which may not actually be far from the truth. Perhaps I should have asked that Russian girl in my IT class whether you can become an astronaut by dealing with your boss's STDs on the sly. She could have taken that as me asking advice for my own career, though, which could have been slightly embarassing.
The timeline here outright states that Australia was the fourth nation to launch a satellite... I need to Google this shit. Obviously there's Sputnik and whatever Von Braun's weak-ass response to that Korolev magic was... but then what? I'm not sure if we move in to fiction or not at this point - we know England has a space program from Ambassadors of Death, Steffi's BBC obituary says that Germany is a major player in moon landings, and in the real world India and China are shaping up to be heavyweights.
Incidentally, this episode seems geared to rejuvenate interest in space travel... that could change when bodies start piling up though..
Okay, Roman's profile is complete bullshit. Nobody with his M.O would make the mission - setting aside the obvious fact that he does not currently appear to be a boy genius grown up (I guess the standard has slipped since Luke Rattigan..) For a junior technician guy they wouldn't be looking at a pampered genius like him, but the traditional astro/cosmonaut mould of a young but experienced military test pilot - they have excellent physical fitness, buckets of training, know to obey orders and a higher-than-average grade of technical knowledge and skills. Seeing as most of the crew have been detailed as academic specialists with 'basic training' it would only make sense to have somebody with such a profile on the team - in real life such a person would probably be commanding the mission as well.
For that matter, the commander probably shoud be an American, given the fact that the mission is stated as being launched from Houston (Or command being in Houston, at any rate, so launched from Florida in all probability) - unless we're to assume Britain is actually at the point now where it bosses America around. Suppose that isn't too unlikely seeing as all Doctor Who writers share this image of the future as their wet dream and work it into scripts as often as possible. (Isn't it weird that all of the PMs have shown borderline hostility in their dealings with the Americans? But then they've all turned out to be evil. Mixed messages, I feel..)
"You're only 27 years old..."
...and Roman was even younger. Did the Doctor think he was an arsehole?
Heh, and the Doctor gets smacked down right away. "Yes, I established that everyone knows who we are in a throwaway line a moment ago, weren't you fucking listening?"
I was about to write that the other two didn't deserve a Wikipedia entry to flash up on screen, but they proved me wrong once more. Good to see ANOTHER crash into the date of death, in case you were mad enough to think that SOMEBODY might live out the day. Everybody dies, mate, EVERYBODY DIES!!!
Blimey, Andrew Stone's backstory is a bit much. It's possible to be really good at growing crops without being the offspring of a hippy commune, surely?
Wooo! K9 reference!
Simultaneously showing the bad sign of the Doctor, in the middle of a speech dissing robots as man's desire to create creatures that they can willfully dominate for their own amusement, he's called on it AND DOESN'T EVEN CARE! This must be the evil Doctor I've heard so much about! Dear God!
..or it could be just a throw-away comic moment.
To sum it all up.... yeeees the Doctor goes power-mad... but WHAT happens in Part 2?
I keep forgetting if I rate episodes or not. Anyway, this gets a 6/10 . So far, this year's has been all filler, no killer. But what's around the horizon???
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
ME: Oh, yeah, I finally saw Waters of Mars.
FRIEND: You did? What did you think?
ME: Not that impressed.
ME: It was alright, but didn't do anything special. Too much of a character piece.
(The VILLAINOUS AK emerges on the scene)
AK: Hey there.
FRIEND: Jared was dissing Waters of Mars!
ME: Yeah. I was a little disappointed.
AK: Oh, Jared, what's your problem now! By all means go and murder Steven Moffat and take over the show, make your own Colin Baker-style stories, wouldn't that make you happy? Wouldn't make things better?
ME: Why would I murder Steven Moffat? He isn't running the show.
AK: Yes he is!
ME: I know he's taking over but he isn't at the moment.
AK: Russell T. Davies has finished his episodes and Steven Moffat is now the producer.
ME: The one I watched clearly said "by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford"
AK: Yes, but Steven Moffat is the producer.
ME: He was not credited as producer of that episode.
AK: Steven Moffat is the producer - look it up online.
ME: He had no responsibility at all for the episode I'm talking about, though - and it was made before he became producer.
AK: Why are you trying to correct me? Everyone knows he's producer!
ME: I'm just saying that the logic doesn't follow through.
AK: You always have to be right, don't you? Always! Well you're wrong, Steven Moffat is the producer of Doctor Who!!
ME: I didn't even argue that.
AK: YOU'RE ARGUING RIGHT NOW!
ME: My argument was never on that point. I just said he had nothing to do with that episode.
AK: YOU CAN'T ADMIT YOU'RE WRONG, CAN YOU?!
ME: So it wouldn't make sense for me to murder him.
AK: THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! I SHALL KILL YOUR FIRST BORN!
ME: If I was going to murder anyone, it would be Phil Ford.
AK: THE PATH TO HADES SHALL BE PAVED IN YOUR BLOOD, AND THOSE OF ALL YOU HAVE EVER LOVED!
ME: You might have expected me to say RTD, but firstly he's contributed a lot to TV, is very talented and generally I like him and also I don't think he wrote much of the episode judging by the finished result.
AK: THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THE TORTURE YOU SHALL SUFFER AT MY HANDS, LEST YOU ADMIT GRAND MOFF TARKIN IS THE ONE WITH WHOM YOUR IRE IS BOUND IN SINFUL POLYGAMY!
ME: Yeah, but still, he didn't have anything to do with the episode. Which, by the way, was not homicide-inducingly bad unlike, say, The Lazarus Experiment.
AK: Hey, now you're bagging my favourite episode. You're a bum!
FRIEND: That was an unecessary escalation!
(All laugh. Freeze frame to credits)
The actual argument may have been more heated on the part of The Villainous AK.