Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Lava lump

This week's episode of Doctor Who looked good in previews, but I can't say I wasn't nervous about the writer of the LOLracism episode of Sherlock returning to Who.

"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" by Steve Thompson, directed by Mat King. Spoilers under the cut.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Book review: Paper Towns

Some of my Twitter friends have been absolutely raving about John Green's books for long enough that I wanted to see what the fuss was about, so I went for the sensible option of sampling the cheapest one I found. Paper Towns is a coming-of-age story set in Florida, in the couple of weeks leading up to high school graduation. Q and his friends are neither the most popular nor the least popular kids in school, geeky but not entirely lacking in social skills. When Q's next-door neighbour Margo, whom he's been in love with since they were children, disappears seemingly leaving a trail of clues behind her, they decide to try and interpret them, culminating in a road trip to find her, whether she be alive or dead.

There's a bit of the feel of a modern-day The Body/Stand By Me to Paper Towns, although the teenagers have mobile phones and some of the plot revolves around an unreliable online resource that totally isn't a Wikipedia spoof *cough* they still have to do most of their investigating through legwork and getting to know the more obscure corners of their state. The book's message that to some extent we all make fictionalised versions of the people around us, all different from each other and from the reality, is rather overstated by the end of the novel but overall it's a very sweet and well-written story.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dick Twittington 6: A dozen middle-aged belly dancers

This week on my Twitter feed, I see a play that makes me a bit paranoid about my choice of seat on the bus, while Stratford-upon-Avon celebrates Shakespeare's birthday creatively.

I hadn't seen the RSC As You Like It trailer. Definitely a hippie festival vibe then. Could be interesting.
4:43 PM - 17 Apr 13

The NT shop's selling Curious Incident T-shirts that say "I find people confusing." Can't say I'm not tempted.
7:21 PM - 17 Apr 13

I can't decide what I think of this #intervaltweets
8:53 PM - 17 Apr 13

Sunday, 21 April 2013

(Doctor) Who you gonna call?

Once again this week I wasn't actually in front of my TV while Doctor Who was on, so I had Twitter to spoil me on what the general reaction would be like. Which means I knew going in that it was completely irrelevant what I or anyone else thought of "Hide" as it will go down in history as the episode where Matt Smith mispronounces "Metebilis III." Twice. And the fans of the classic series weren't pleased. And... really, wasn't there anyone on set who could tell him how it was pronounced? I was imagine there's one or two Doctor Who geeks working on, you know, Doctor Who. Ooh, you see now I'm going to be imagining scenarios where all the crew hate Matt Smith and let him walk straight into the ire of the fanboys. Twice.

"Hide" by Neil Cross, directed by Jamie Payne. Spoilers under the cut.

Book review: Fold

I don't have any interest in poker or really know much about it but it can provide an interesting metaphor for men's relationships (I love Dealer's Choice) so I gave Tom Campbell's Fold a go when it was a kindle special offer. It follows a year of a monthly poker game between five men ("friends" would be pushing it as they all seem to actively dislike each other) and the tensions between them, gradually trying to build up a picture of the different reasons each of them keeps coming back to the game. Although technically the narrative takes the point of view of all five players at different times, it predominantly focuses on Nick, the bitter loser in the group, and his attempts to take down Doug, the aggressive alpha-male winner, starting by undermining Doug's intelligence and building up to the point of drugging him and trying to seduce his wife.

It's a pretty quick read and the story is interestingly told with some nice character progression but the fact that all the characters are so deeply unsympathetic meant it wasn't a novel I was always that keen to get back into once I'd put it down.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dick Twittington 5: The brief moment of sunshine

This week on my Twitter feed, the Twitter theatricals try to guess the new Artistic Director of the National Theatre, so quite a few tweets to ignore if you're not fixated with London theatre. Of course "quite a few tweets to ignore" describes my feed at the best of times.

Best thing about N Greenwich station: The different *feel* to the crowd each night depending on who's playing the O2. Tonight: Meat Loaf.
7:18 PM - 10 Apr 13

"Please be aware this show contains low level lighting." Well DUH, it's a Katie Mitchell show.
7:38 PM - 10 Apr 13

St. John's Wood (or Sinjon's Wood if you're posh.)
11:06 PM - 10 Apr 13

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Hunt for Blue October

I do like the title "Cold War." I like that it's a metaphorical title because it features the return of the Ice Warriors (or one of them at least,) while at the same time being painfully literal as it plonks the Doctor and Clara on a Russian nuclear submarine in 1983.

"Cold War" by Mark Gatiss, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers under the cut.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Book review: Whispers Underground

The "Rivers of London" series of supernatural crime novels by Ben Aaronovitch continues to be entertaining; having built stories first around the smaller rivers connected to the Thames (whose anthropomorphic incarnations continue to be recurring characters) and the Soho jazz scene, the third book takes DC Peter Grant to the London Underground, where an American student has been murdered.

I was a bit worried that Whispers Underground would create a supernatural underworld in the Tube that would be too similar to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but it turns out to be a much more recognisable world than that, with the action soon moving away from the tracks to the sewers and then an entirely different kind of underground subculture. If anything I would have preferred it if the story had stuck closer to the Tube itself as it's an old network with a lot of quirks and plenty of scope to be given spooky twists, but for the most part this is a more generalised subterranean London, the specific references to the Tube ending up confined to the station names that provide the chapter headings (I do like that they end up at Mornington Crescent for the final chapter.)

How it all fits into the initial mystery plot does seem to get a bit vague in the third quarter of the novel but Aaronovitch does pull it all back together in the end, and this was another enjoyable read.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Dick Twittington 4: Danny's hairy arms

This week on my Twitter feed was, like most people's Twitter feeds, dominated by Thatcher's death and the wildly varied responses to it. But I also found time to discuss the equally harrowing matter of the new series of The Voice. And my job search continues to be frustratingly fruitless...

Bruno Mars is an abomination. Not apropos anything, it just bears mentioning now and then.
10:05 AM - 3 Apr 13

When did "customer service" become a euphemism for glorified chugging?A job interview that wasn't a waste of time would be a nice change ta.
2:45 PM - 3 Apr 13

Victoria. Um, something a bit rude seems to be going on in the middle there.
6:08 PM - 3 Apr 13

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Leaf it mate, he's not worth it

So this Neil Cross bloke is going to be the saviour of Doctor Who? Apparently he done invented Luther but I don't watch it so I couldn't vouch for that. Anyway, any potential future showrunner who isn't Chibnall-shaped has to be something to cling on to. I don't think I could handle it if Doctor Who was forever at risk of "oh, did I not mention Will Mellor can see dead people?" being a thing. I mean, whatever, whoever replaces The Moff when he leaves will be fine I'm sure *cough* Whithouse is now available *cough*


"The Rings of Akhaten" by Neil Cross, directed by Farren Blackburn. Spoilers under the cut.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

On a Clara day you can see forever

I can pretty much guarantee nowadays that if I don't watch a new Doctor Who episode "live" as it goes out, by the time I catch up Twitter will have informed me that it was both the best episode EVAR and the worst. Maybe we should just accept that the old "you can't please all the people all the time" adage applies with a vengeance, even to national treasures like Doctor Who. Right then, we're back with the second half of the 50th anniversary series, except the actual anniversary episode won't air until November, and I'm not entirely sure splitting it up into a fractured mess has really worked and etc. This year is basically going to be remembered like the year of "specials" that ended David Tennant's run, but with the specials all clumped together weirdly, isn't it? Anyway the "mini-movie" idea for the series is still going, complete with movie posters, and the idea behind "The Bells of Saint John" was apparently that this would be the Bond movie of the series.

"The Bells of Saint John" by Steven Moffat, directed by Colm McCarthy. Spoilers under the cut.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Dick Twittington 3: *Apprentice style*

This week on my Twitter feed my bus journeys seem to feature "colourful" characters as a matter of course.

I love when a pigeon waddles desperately out of the way of a car. You can fly, you thick bastard!
9:24 AM - 27 Mar 13

For GCSE, spellcheck suggests GEESE.
10:30 PM - 27 Mar 13

Pretty sure I'm the only person in the country watching Anna & Katy. Which is a shame.
12:37 PM - 28 Mar 13