Archive for the ‘55 plus’ Category

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with a groan, a shrug, and a wince, here’s some much needed silliness.

Something a bit different this week; no videos; a couple of other things instead.

Starting with something I came across years ago and – at one point – I had it printed out in Olde English above my desk.

It’s fairly self-explanatory, and I suspect will spark some recognition among anyone who like me thinks one of the essential skills you learn online is to read fluent tyop.

An Owed to the Spelling Checker
I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Be four a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if were lacks or have a laps,
We wood be maid to wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of non am eye a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas.
And why I brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.
—– anon.

And for those who prefer something about pronunciation?

I used to know this by heart, but it’s been a long time since then. Again, it’s anonymous, as far as I know, but worth sticking it here:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead
For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear;
And then there’s dose and rose and lose
Just look them up – and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!
—– anon.

(Feel free to leave a comment below when your tongue has removed itself from the roof of your mouth and unknotted itself.)
 

This next bit has always amused me; as someone who’s met thorugh their career of friends more than a few ‘household names’, this rang so true. If you ignore the names of those in the piece below (an small piece in the Readers’ Questions and Answers slot in The Times), you could be reading about any two people…

Did Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington ever meet?

The fact that they met probably won’t surprise anyone. How they met and what happened might…

Nelson met the future Duke of Wellington in a room of the Colonial Office, where they were both waiting to see Lord Castlereagh. Nelson had no idea that he was talking with somebody of any reputation or importance, although Wellington recognised Nelson. According to Wellington: “He [Nelson] entered at once into conversation with me, if I can call it conversation, for it was almost all on his side and all about himself and, in reality, a style so vain and so silly as to surprise and almost disgust me.”

Nelson then left the room for a moment, apparently to find out who exactly he had been speaking with. When he came back, his manner was totally different. Wellington continued: “His charlatan style had quite vanished . . . and certainly for the last half or three quarters of an hour, I don’t know that I ever had a conversation that interested me more. I saw enough to be satisfied that he was really a very superior man; but certainly a more sudden or complete metamorphosis I never saw.”

And that’s it. No videos this week.

OK, one video, since the latest Star Wars has just been released.

One very silly video.

Enjoy.

‪Darth Vader Feels Blue

See you tomorrow, as we approach the final days of this year, and the final days of this countdown.

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with a groan, a shrug, and a wince, here’s some much needed silliness.

 

Let’s start this week, with some more Road Runner. Enjoy.

 
 
Have some Gary Delaney, because… well, just because.

 
 
if you’ve not seen this before, from Duck Soup, or even if you have…

 
 
Ronnie Barker, with a poor… thingummy.

 
 
Johns Bird and Fortune; the Investment Banker interview

 
 
Mitch Benn has a message for those of you who, at this time of year, drink at the Bar Humbug…

 
 
See you tomorrow, with something else.,

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with a groan, a shrug, and a wince, here’s some much needed silliness.

 

Let’s start this week, with the glory that is What’s Opera, Doc? If you haven’t seen this, you’re in for a treat. If you have, then you know what a treat it is. Enjoy.

 
 
Have some Stewart Francis being daft, just because why not…?

 
 
And here’s some Milton Jones, at the same veune

 
 
Ever ordered a large round of drinks? Yeah, me as well. Ronnie Barker shows us how it’s done.

 
 
Sir Humphrey explains to his minister The Five Standard Excuses in Yes, Minsitsr

 
 
Mitch Benn lays out the rules about celebrating Christmas before December.

 
 
But it is December now…

 
 
See you tomorrow, with something else.,

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with a groan, a shrug, and a wince, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
Let’s start this week with some utter silliness, some unfettered silliness. Have some Road Runner.

 
 
Here’s some Emo Philips, just because why not…?

 
 
And here’s some Steven Wright, for the same reason

 
 
Rare that the opening scene of the first episode of a sitcom tells me I’m going to be hooked. Cheers managed it. Finest sitcom pilot I’ve ever seen.

 
How to keep a clean conscience in government? Sir Humphrey advises how

 
 

Mitch Benn has some advice for American families this week. How to talk to your pro-Trump relatives this Thanksgiving

 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

Yes, it’s Saturday, so a Saturday Smile

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with ‘How the hell do I know?‘, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
Peter Cook, with Experiences Down The Mine. I’d forgotten quite how clever, and good, this is.

 
 
And since we’re back in history, Bob Newhart goes even further back with a call from Sir Walter Raleigh, Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation

 
 
Here’s Rowan Atkinson, with How Shakespeare Should Be Done…

 
 
Want to know why the government will never ban smoking? Yes, Prime Minister explains why…

 
 
Two from Mitch Benn this week.

Mitch’s favourite film was, and indeed is, Blade Runner. Mitch was more than slightly worried about the sequel

 
Then he saw the movie…

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

Oh, it’s Saturday, so it’s a Saturday Smile

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s ‘What’s happening?‘ with ‘How the hell do I know?‘, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
Michael Spicer does ‘The Room Next Door’. Watch the attached and you’ll see what I mean. Gloriously original, and clever as hell.

 
 
Here’s Kate Lucas again, on dating…Not For Me

 
 

Here’s Rowan Atkinson, with The Three Wedding Speeches

 
 

It’s been done before, but here’s Yes, Prime Minister on who reads various newspapers…

 
 

I shouldn’t enjoy this The Blacklist as much as I do.

 
 

Mitch Benn has some advice for you, or rather for those who throw out one particular name for someone they don’t like: Shut Up About Hitler

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

It’s Saturday, so yes, of course it’s a Saturday Smile

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the world has effectively said ‘yeah, we don’t know either, mate’, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
Not the Nine O’Clock News with a possible solution to football hooliganism.

 
 
I’m not sure if I’ve ever put this one up before, but even if I have, definitely worth a rewatch Classes

 
 

Here’s Monty Python, with Michelangelo

 
 

Some Yes, Prime Minister seems appropriate, since we’re all currently ydrowning in opinion polls…

 
 

I wasn’t aware that this was on YouTube, the full things, I mean, but since it is, enjoy.Blackadder: Back and Forth

 
 

A less silly one from Mitch this week, but equally important; I pull this out whenever there’s an election coming up, but it’s always relevant. Don’t be surprised if you see it again. This, from a couple of weeks before the 2017 election. Have you registered to vote? well, you should, shouldn’t they, Mitch?

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

I’m running out of Saturday Smile titles; can you tell?

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the world has effectively said ‘yeah, we don’t know either, mate’, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
This has at least two titles that I’m aware of. I kind of like the album title of Comments Section. Anyway, here’s Kate Lucas.

 
 
The Two Ronnies Nuts, milord

 
 

Here are Stilgoe and Skellern with Mrs Beamish

 
 

Jonathan Lynne and Antony Jay always swore blind they invented things like ‘the standard Foreign Office response to any crisis for Yes, Minister and its sequel. I remain to be convinced.

 
 

Have a Minions mini-movie: Panic In The Mailroom

 
 

I’ve been waiting for this ever since I saw him do it in previews. This week from Mitch Benn, one of my favourites from his Edinburgh show and his new touring show: Ten Songs To Save The World: Moving To Scotland.

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

I know, I know, but I’m running out of Saturday Smile titles; they’re going to get a bit weird, ok?

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the world has effectively said ‘yeah, we don’t know either, mate’, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
This shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does: The Doctor Who Theme if Ennio Morricone had arranged it

 
 
Nor should this Doctor Who/Star Trek mashup: Quantum Breach

 
 

A few months ago, I put up Liz Ryan’s version of Richard Stilgoe’s Joyce The Librarian. Here’s Stilgoe and Skellern with the definitive version.

 
 

This is rather lovely. Eric Idle rewrote his Galaxy song for a BBC2 promo

 
 

If I’d seen this before, I’d completely forgotten it. Here’s a Minions mini, The Competition

 
 

This week’s Mitch Benn, a newer song. I do like it when he has a bit of fun: Let’s Keep Boris There Forever.

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

I know, I know, but I’m running out of Saturday Smile titles; they’re going to. get odd, ok?

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when the world has effectively said ‘yeah, we don’t know either, mate’, here’s some much needed silliness.

 
 
The Two Ronnies as Jehosphat and Jones

 
 
Back in the day, BBC 1 would close down transmission around 1am, with a final few minutes of broadcast. Imagine that, no telly until the following day. Not The Nine O’Clock News, here, with something that will be instantly recognisable to anyone over the age of 40, and entirely unrecognisable to anyone under 35: Closedown

 
 

Armstrong and Miller here, with Wartime pilots

 
 

The wonderful Michael Flanders and Donald Swann with Have Some Madeira M’Dear

 
 

And here’s the wondrous Tom Lehrer with his Masochism Tango

 
 

I put up one YouTube video of one of Mitch’s songs, last week; here’s another. So here’s Mitch Benn, with Sir Ranulph.

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

Housekeeping note: I’ll carry on with the numbering in the titles until Friday, when there’ll be a new numbering system kicking in. Those with memories of three years ago might recall the reason for the new numbering. If not, then you have a nice surprise waiting for you, don’t you?
 


 
The day will surely come when I’m too embarrassed by a Saturday Smile blog entry title to let it go live. As today’s entry title proves, this is not that day.

Long before I started the countdown blogs, every so often, on a Saturday, I’d put up some YouTube videos or some single panel editorial cartoons, or even some ‘funny newspaper headlines’… some silliness, anyway.

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when we look at the world and ask ‘what the f—?’ here’s some more silliness.

 
 
While searching for something else this week, I came across this and it amused me. That’s as good a reason as any to include it here: If Doctor Who had been Remade in America

 
 
Ten years ago, on The Now Show, Marcus Brigstocke lamented that the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the UN Convention on Climate Change was so ludicrous, it was like it’d been designed by Dr Seuss, which gave him an idea…

 
 
Not often she does a flat out comedy song, but this one qualifies; Amanda Palmer and Black Death

 
 
Here’s Phil Pope, at The Distraction Club with his Rhyming Song

 
 
Once upon a time, there was The Ice Bucket Challenge. Everybody did their own video of it; I decided to do something a bit different with mine. Mister Budgie Gets Wet

 
 
Not often I made a YouTube video of one of Mitch’s songs, but when he did one about Michael Gove getting slammed for his ignorance as Education Secretary, I couldn’t resist. So here’s Mitch Benn, with Michael Gove Knows Better.

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

55 plus 55: It’s about time

Posted: 11 October 2019 in 55 plus, writing
Tags: , ,

It’s January 2001. Where’s my fucking jet pack?” — Warren Ellis

Given how many stories in fiction involve time travel, a significant number set in the future, it’s telling how often writers get it wrong. Not ‘slightly off’. Wring. And I’m not even talking about the far future, thousands of years hence. No, we’re equally incompetent about the near future.

Sure, there’s the view that we readers and pedants should stop whining, that point best and most forcibly expressed by people using iPads and mobile phones, evidencing technologies that weren’t even imagined by most of us only a few years ago.

Two things to note there.

“…a few years ago.” It still boggles my mind that the first iPhone was released to the world twelve years ago, that the same week in June 2007 saw the resignation of Tony Blair and the release of the first iPhone.

And, of course: “…most of us…”

Years back, while setting up a new phone and bluetooth headset, something occurred to me out of the blue that, in retrospect, was incredibly obvious:

I could attach a small speaker to the tiny bluetooth device.

Further, my new phone allowed personalised ringtones.

And it had a voice recorder enabling me to record someone announcing their name and the phrase ‘calling budge’… and to use that sound file as a ringtone.

Oh… Oh!

Final step – attach bluetooth device to chest, wait to hear “Fred calling budgie”, tap the device and… Bingo! Star Trek Next Gen communicator.

Yeah, this was in 2006. I know it was then, because several friends, including the Mr Ellis quoted above, pointed me at the time to a hospital in Northern Ireland already trialling something more advanced. I wonder whatever happened to the system? A similar system appears to be more used today in some US hospitals.

But I was unaware of any of that when the bluetooth/speaker/ringtone/chest idea hit me. What about those people who spend their professional life thinking about such things?

Some fiction writers have made the telling of entertaining stories set in the near future their speciality. And guess what: they’re always wrong. That doesn’t make them bad writers though, unless they’re unconvincing in their inaccuracies. (And yes, it’s still just plain weird now that the world of Blade Runner doesn’t appear to have mobile phones.)

It does though remind me of the reply the great and magnificent science explainer-to-the-masses, James Burke, gave when asked why he concentrated on the past, rarely turning his attention to the consequences, connections and threads of the future.

“Why don’t I predict the future? I like to be right.”

Writers have been trying to predict the future in fiction via the means of “falling asleep for decades or longer”, or via “visits to the gods”, for thousands of years; the Japanese legend Urashima Tarōut dates from the eight century. And the absolute certainty that it’s guesswork of the most desperate type ain’t stopping us yet.

When I was a financial director, I used to tell my CEO that as a business, trading internationally, we should be able to produce a very good estimate of incomings and outgoings, or out business, for the next six months. between six months and eighteen months? Yeah, a pretty good guess can be made; some estimates will be right, some wrong, but neither will be hugely out. More than eighteen months? It’s crystal ball gazing, depending on so much that no one can realistically forecast: exchange rates; interest rates; tax rates; staffing; whether our counterparts in other countries do well, or badly; political stability, or otherwise…

And anything beyond three years? You might as well toss a coin.

There’s a tale told about the post-war aftermath of the late 1940s and early 1950s. I’ve no idea whether or not it’s true, but if apocryphal, it’s one of those stories that should be true.

The story is this: either President Truman or President Eisenhower (the story varies as these things tend to) gets the biggest brains in America to the White House; scientists, philosophers, and the like.

Their task is to predict for the president and his successors what will be the biggest challenges facing America through to the end of the 20th century.

And – so the story goes – turns out they were right on some things and wrong on others, astonishingly wrong on others.

They suggested that hypersonic aircraft would take passengers to Australia in two hours. But manned space travel wasn’t even seriously considered. Satellites might be possible, they apparently advised, but they would have very short lives, hence prohibitively expensive.

They’re supposed to have predicted the huge increases in cancers, but epidemics and AIDS didn’t even occur to them; neither did the huge increase in heart disease. They apparently predicted the acceptance by the masses of automation, and the massive increase in personal communication, but of course, it would be by telex.

(Burke mentions this in his book The Day The Universe Changed, about how any predictions, any understanding, relies upon the paradigms of the day; when the paradigm changes, so does everything else relying upon it. As an example, if you think that space is made of eggs, you design your instruments to search for omelettes. And if you don’t find them? instrument failure.)

Maybe those apocryphal Good and Great in the White House should have read Edwin Reynolds, who wrote in the Milwaukee Sentinel, Dec. 30, 1900:

“We may be able to carry apparatus on our persons which will enable us to communicate with another person similarly equipped, anywhere on earth, without the intervention of wires. We may be able to see persons at long distances as well as to talk with them.”

Teddy Roosevelt1901. A great year. Baseball’s American League declared itself a Major League, Clark Gable was born, and Teddy Roosevelt became President. And like their descendants 100 years later, newspapers and folks in general were debating the new century and what was likely to happen during it.

The Daily Register, in Mobile, Alabama lamented in 1901 that while it had been long predicted that man would learn to fly,

“he has not made any striking advance in the direction of his hopes…. Possibly, the 100 years of experiment teach us that we will never fly in the air as do the birds, or, if we do so, it will be merely for the pleasure of the thing.”

And the Chicago Tribune in the same year wrote

“The purely material may claim less attention and (greedily pursued riches) come to be less regarded.”

Ah, if only, eh?

In more recent times, the dystopic far future has been the predicted norm, while the near future has usually been portrayed as identical to the present, amended merely by slight advances in the field of technology.

Yet the experience of only the past few years suggests that, like those scientists at the White House, we don’t have a fucking clue what’s coming our way or how it’s going to affect us.

And in general, comics’ writers seem to acknowledge this by sticking technology in their stories that can’t exist yet, or won’t be commonly available for decades.

But they still get it wrong.

OK, we don’t have a Lex Luthor, a Tony Stark, a Shuri, a Riri Williams, a Reed Richards, an Angela Spica, or even a Bruce Wayne, though the latter would – as Bob Ingersoll pointed out some years ago – be in jail for breach of fiduciary duty to WayneTech stockholders.

The writers are not just wrong in the inventions and advances they predict, but in ignoring their larger effect upon society.

If we did have such men and women and their inventions, there’s no way the social environment of the richer nations would be remotely comparable to their current analogues in our world.

The 2008 Presidential election was the first to take place in the era of YouTube. Can anyone seriously argue the election process hasn’t changed markedly the past dozen years because of the availability of YouTube, instant video via smartphones and the like?

Alan Moore – in, of course, WATCHMEN – made it crystal clear that the new engines created by Doctor Manhattan had destroyed the old motor vehicle industry. That’s one of the few ‘wider implication’ stories, and it’s presented almost as a throwaway scene, something that of course would happen.

Does anyone think that the inventions created by Stark, Shuri, Richards, et al wouldn’t be available online? Hell, I could download 3D designs now. Notwithstanding the 1951 satire, The Man In The White Suit, what would clothes made of unstable molecules actually do to the fabric manufacturing industry? How would commercial aircraft design differ, with the existence of Quinjets and Fantasticars?

And why should it stop there? Back to James Burke, who at a Q&A session at the Royal Institution a few years back broke his self-imposed rule and predicted that nanotech ‘makers’, right out of TRANSMETROPOLITAN, would be available inside thirty years. And yes, they’d be phenomenally expensive… to start with. Until someone uploads the design specs to the internet. And within a decade after that, they’d be cheaper, a lot cheaper. Thing is – again, harking back to the social implications – economics and politics is, in a major part, the allocation of scare resources. What happens to politics and economics in the absence of scarcity?

There’s an online version of his talk available: I’d recommend it to everyone, without hesitation: Admiral Shovel and the Toilet Roll.

The responsibility of any storyteller is simply that – to tell entertaining stories. They owe no loyalty to their ‘fans’ (c.f. Neil Gaimain’s blog entry ‘George R R Martin is not your bitch‘) but only to their contracts, and the person they look at in the mirror: to deliver the best written stories they can.

But while any fiction requires suspension of disbelief, it surely has to maintain an internal integrity; ignoring the social and cultural implications of near future inventions – accurate or otherwise – serves no one in the longer term, least of all the reader.
 
 
The usual ‘something silly’ tomorrow; after this week, I suspect we need it even more than usual.

55 plus 54: I still got nothing

Posted: 10 October 2019 in 55 plus

Yesterday’s post, in which I freely admitted that I had nothing of any real value to say after the horrible events in Germany, wasn’t so much a howl of despair as a whinge of… whinge-iness.

But Germany hit me harder than I’d expected, and I was a mess yesterday. It’s not the first time a synagogue has been attacked, nor the first time people have died as a result.

But much like the attack on a Jewish community centre that occurred while a brit milah was taking place, this attack taking place on Yom Kippur hurt.

It was deliberate, by an antisemite, holocaust denier. And it was deliberately on Yom Kippur. That fucking hurts.

So, today, some stuff that doesn’t hurt.

Not silliness, no. That I save for the Saturday Smiles. Besides, it would seem… disrespectful, you know?

So, some nice stuff. Some stuff that just… doesn’t hurt.
 
 
A lovely clip from a Roddy McDowell interview, about working with Elizabeth Taylor, among others

 
 

Robin Ince, on the woodland adventures of a father and son

 
 
A lovely fan animation: Dr Who running through time and space


 
 

And one final, very sweet, moment from Sesame Street

 
 
Something else tomorrow, probably.

I was going to do a housekeeping note, but this whole thing is a housekeeping note.

I was going to do an ‘it’s Yom Kippur, so just fast well, everyone who’s fasting, and I’ll see you tomorrow.’

Then I was going to do a post about nothing much, another odds and sods post, but I didn’t.

I was going to do several things, and maybe comment on what objectively is an entirely trivial thing that’s occurred in the UK, but has fascinated most people, including me, this morning.

But then…

But then…

This happened: Germany: two killed in Halle attack. Bild reporting it was outside a synagogue, and a grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery.

And I got nothing.

Oh, I could write plenty on it, but nothing that others couldn’t write better and with more skill and depth.

I could write about how to give in to fear and anger is to give them what they want, but that’d be pompous at best, and hypocritical at worst. For my only reactions are shaking, and a physical ache; my foot was hurting like hell, and I’ve no idea whether it was made worse by it or whether I was just more aware of it. It’s hurting even more now, because I just had a hard, deliberately hard, half hour walk on it. I’ll pay for it later, but it’ll be worth it.

That’s not true, by the way; they weren’t my only reactions. I’m also scared, genuinely, wondering ‘where next?’ and ‘when next?’

And ‘when here?’

And yet some people still suggest synagogues don’t ‘need’ security, that Jewish schools don’t need security.

So, no matter what I was going to write about my fury, my fear, my guts churning, it wouldn’t be enough; it wouldn’t be good enough. It wouldn’t achieve anything beyond writing from anger or writing in fear, neither of which are a particularly good thing for me, or anyone else reading it.

Instead, something else.

Fifteen years or so ago, I pitched a dozen or so stories to Marvel, one of which was bought, written by me, drawn by superb artists, and saw print in X-Men Unlimited, my only Marvel work.

One of the other story pitches, one that never saw print, took place on Yom Kippur, and deals with an… attack, but not one like today’s. Well, not quite.

For no reasons other than it’s Yom Kippur, here it is, in pitch format (links for the non-comics readers). Sixteen years old, and I still like it, and it’s a huge regret that it never had the opportunity to see print as it should have.

 


 
FOR THE SINS WE COMMIT…

Kitty Pryde prepares for Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement) and attends a local synagogue. She stops short as she sees a huge man walk into the temple and then he turns, greeting her with a broad smile. It’s Leonard ‘Doc’ Samson.

As they leave the temple that evening, Samson is attacked by the Abomination. Samson is weakened from having fasted all day… something the Abomination was counting on. (Only makes sense to me that even with his gamma irradiated body, he’d need more sustenance than a normal person to function, and that fasting for 25 hours would leave him weak; it would be at least 12 hours’ fasting by the time this story commences).

Kitty steps in and phases the Abomination, his fist passing through Samson, but her own fasting doesn’t allow her to hold him for more than a moment. It’s enough though, since the disorientation from being phased leaves The Abomination staggered, woozy, allowing Samson to finish him off with one hard accurate powerful punch.

Samson is enraged about being attacked on the holiest day of the Jewish year and is about to let a ‘head taking off’ punch go at the now unconscious villain… when Kitty Pryde halts him by uttering one of the prayers from the Yom Kippur service, asking forgiveness for the sins committed in rage…

Final panels: SHIELD taking Abomination away; Samson thanking Kitty; Nick Fury wishing them well over the fast; Kitty and Samson entering the synagogue, greeting someone out of shot, (obviously Ben Grimm.)

© Lee Barnett, 2003
 


 
Something else, tomorrow, when hopefully, I’m more together.

I’m going to keep going with the ‘stories from the vaults on Tuesday’ posts. People seem to like them, and with around 700 of the buggers in the vaults, I doubt I’ll run short for a while.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I’ve put some clever stories up in the past, some horror tales, some sweet and loving, and some where I hope you can find some suspense.

Here, however, are two very silly stories, two absurd tales. I thoroughly enjoyed writing both.

I hope you enjoy reading both as well…


Title: What Love Means Today
Word: sangfroid
Challenger: Douglas Townsend
Length: 200 words exactly

The official representative of the state looked at the two of them. He smiled as he saw her nervously giggle at something the man had said, and then with delight saw her start to colour slightly. The young man responded by running a finger around his collar.

The representative always enjoyed it when they were so obviously ready and willing to commit themselves.

The mothers were busily chatting and surreptitiously eyeing each other’s dresses. There was a moment shortly after meeting, he knew, when they each decided who was the better dressed. And what was more, both of them would reach the same decision. Ah yes, there it was.

He saw the young man’s father pacing nervously, and on the other side of the room, the younger woman’s father looking without a care in the world, exhibiting a sense of sangfroid that would do credit to anyone.

He called them all together, and asked each of the younger people whether they were sure of their choices. They looked at each other, then at their parents, then together announced in the affirmative.

And as the parents pulled their sidearms, the representative of the state gave his blessing to the forthcoming feud.

© Lee Barnett, 2008


Title: Gargoyles, Grotesques and Glad-Rags
Word: taboo
Challenger: Bevis Musson
Length: 200 words exactly

He paused for a moment, entirely at a loss as to how to respond when he heard the handle on the heavy oak door twist with the inevitable creaking sound, remembered from childhood.

The door opening saved Arnoth from having to answer the marriage proposal as his father entered, absent-mindedly scratching the suppurating sore on his arm and whistling a popular song, a painful sound.

“Ah,” his father said, seeing Arnoth and the strange individual, only at that moment becoming aware of their being there and also that he’d interrupted them.

There was an awkward silence, broached after a minute or so by the creature coughing, an astonishingly quiet sound given its bulk.

“Father…” began Arnoth, in a vague attempt to explain the presence of the immortal being made from living stone, but his father merely waved his hand in an offhand manner, far more concerned about the obvious social faux pas taking place.

Arnoth looked at his love, dressed in the flowing golden ballgown, and then at his father, identically dressed, a social taboo of great embarrassment.

Arnoth wondered which of them would volunteer to change clothes first, and uttered a silent prayer that it would be his father…

© Lee Barnett, 2007

And here’s an extra special treat. After I wrote the story above, the person for whom I wrote the story, artist Bevis Musson, turned his considerable skill to the story, and created the art below.

(It’s one of my great regrets that he and I never got to work on a planned project we had, an original graphic novel that I keep promising myself I’ll return to sooner or later.)


Something else tomorrow…

55 plus 51: Odds and sods

Posted: 7 October 2019 in 55 plus
Tags: ,

Housekeeping: we’re now approaching the ‘time limit’ I set for myself to keep the ’55 minus/plus’ going, ’55 plus 55′. I’m genuinely unsure whether to drop it, and a bit scared – I’ll admit – that if I don’t have a daily countdown/up to use, I’ll skip a few days, and a few days more and then a few days more.

I don’t know what the answer is, but it does seem a bit silly to continue the numbering after 55 plus 55.

I don’t know. I’ll have a ponder.


Anyway, hello.

Not a long entry today, but an entry nonetheless. A mixture of odds and sods stuff. Something about London, something about the time of year, and something about the time of year. Yes, the repetition is deliberate.
 


 
I mentioned when I was in Edinburgh that I had a few favourite places at which to drink coffee. Whether it’s because I’m used to London, and I’ve had coffee at some many places, I don’t know, but I don’t really have a favourite place in London. At least not to drink coffee.

I have favourite places, but they tend not to be related to the consumption of coffee. And, let’s leave ‘friends’ homes’ out of it as well; it’d be unfair to them.

But here are three places I like in London, just for the hell of it.

Richmond Town Centre: Not a huge surprise, given that I lived there for so long, but yeah, I like Richmond as a place. Nice shops, it never seems too busy, and it has Richmond Green just off to one side of it. And I do like Richmond Green. Perfect place in the summer to spend some hours listening to music, or a podcast, laying on the grass, letting the world go by for a while. And, a nice place to write, surrounded by families enjoying themselves, children laughing, and just for s short while, you can forget the troubles of the world.

(I’d say Richmond Park is also ideal for letting the world go by, but you do tend to interrupted by deer every so often. Yes, honestly.)

Outside summer, the green and the park are less… inviting, I’ll be honest. I mean, it’s not that I don’t like autumn or winter, both places are distinctly less nice during the season. Colourful, sure. As nice? No.

OK, maybe a town centre is too big a thing to truly like.

How about a street? Regent Street, say, in Central London. The office of one of. my first jobs in London was in Regent Street and I kind of liked the street stratigraphy from the start. Not so much for the street itself but everything that was two minutes’ walk from it. I mean, ok, you have decent shops in Regent Street, yes. But most of them are far too expensive for me, or for my tastes, anyway. I’m quite happy with a nice warm overcoat; I don’t need one that costs £500. But at one end, you have the BBC, at the other Piccadilly Circus. Off to one side, you have Carnaby Street – not the fashion centre it once was, but still fun to wander through; off to the other, you have… wel, not mush. Some nice squares. You also have Oxford Street cutting across it with no embarrassment whatsoever. And you have Hamleys, half way down. Again, not the icon it once was, not even the icon of Regent Street (I suspect that’s the Apple Store, these days). And five minutes from Oxford Circus Tube, you have the third of my favourites… and after a town centre and a street, let’s take it smaller, much smaller, a room in fact.

The Phoenix Public House. Well, to be precise, downstairs at the Phoenix, where you have a comedy club cum dance area. Now, fair enough, it’s rare that it’s both at the same time, and with my views on my dancing, you can be forgiven for immediately knowing it’s the comedy that attracts me.

Once a month, first Tuesday of every month usually, The Distraction Club takes place there. And you know – or should know – how much I love that evening. Three hours, or near about, of musical comedy, however you wish – or the comedians wish – to define that. And every Monday, well nearly every Monday anyway, you have Old Rope, an evening when comedians old and new, famous and just starting out, try out new material. Dirt cheap prices, and you’ll get a load of comedy you will enjoy. Some you won’t, but that’s cool, that’s what the evening’s for. And especially when it’s helmed by Tiff Stevenson, you’re in for a fun evening.
 


 
It’s October, which means it’s chilly, and rainy, and the kids have gone back to school, and everyone is just waiting for the end of the month, and then the end of November, so they can start enjoying the Christmas season. That’s the rules,: no christmas celebrations before 1st December, nothing but Christmas celebrations after 1st December.

But yeah, it’s chilly, and rainy.

Have some pictures.


 


 


 


 


 
Oh, sometimes, though, if you’re lucky, you get a lovely bit of weather…
 

 


 

It’s also the time of year – see, I told you the repetition was deliberate – when it’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement.

It’s been a while since I’ve regularly celebrated and/or observed either, and indeed, regularly celebrated or observed any Jewish traditions other than yahrzeit for my late brother and father.

I’m not entirely sure why. And I’m not entirely sure I want to know why.

But then again, given that I’m genuinely interested in knowing why I do stuff, and why I don’t do stuff, you’d kind of think that I’d want to know.

Maybe a longer post on this is required. Maybe.

Yeah. Maybe.
 
 
The usual Tuesday tomorrow. And, hopefully, something more entertaining.

As part of my ‘hey, I finished the #55minus, so I can occasionally just stick something up here for the hell of it’, another set of questions and answers that I answered long ago on LiveJournal but would answer almost entirely differently now…

Here’s some questions and answers, from Eh to Zed…

THE LETTER A:
Are you Available? It depends on what you want. To chat, usually. To meet, occasionally. To vent, mostly. To go out and have a fun time? Rarely.
What is your Age? 55. This should not come as a susprise.
What Annoys you? Intolerance, hypocrisy, me, stupidity, self-delusion, gullibility, lack of intellectual curiousity, lazy thinking, lazy writing… oh, so many, many things.

THE LETTER B:
Do you live in a Big place? Location? Sure. I live in London. Residence? No, I live in a small flat.
When is your Birthday? 17th August. Every year, funnily enough. Well, ok, every year since 1964.
Does Beauty matter? Always; there’s not enough beauty in the world, but it’s there if you look for it.

THE LETTER C:
Which Car would you own, if money was no object? Had to think about this one, because I’ve never really been what you’d call a ‘motorhead’, but then I realised that I’d love to drive any of the following: Aston Martin DBS, Ferrari Dino, Jensen Interceptor, Morgan. Though if money was no object, I’d be quite happy with a little runaround. I miss not having a car, I’ll be honest
Who’s your Crush? No-one that I’d be happy acknowledging, let alone admitting publicly.
When was the last time you Cried? Because I was hurt emotionally? A very long time ago. From sadness, a few months back, watching the news. From pysical pain, last week.

THE LETTER D:
Do you Daydream? Not really, no.
What’s your favourite kind of Dog? A Australian Labradoodle named Rowlf, who belongs to/lives with my closest friends. I’m not really a pet person, until/unless I get to ‘know’ them, and sometimes not even then.
What’s your favourite Day, of the week? Don’t have one, really. Any day I get to see my lad, I guess.

THE LETTER E:
How do you like your Eggs? Scrambled or with cheese in an omelette.
Have you ever been in the Emergency room? Oh yes, most recently within the past month or so.
What’s the Easiest thing ever for you to do? Think. That’s not always a good thing.

THE LETTER F:
Have you ever Flown in a plane? A few times, yes. Not for some years, though. Which reminds me, my passport’s probably up for renewal in the next year or so. For the first time, I’m not entirely sure I’ll renew it. I mean, I should, I might need it, but it’s a cost I could do without.
Friends or Family? With the notable exception of Phil, the latter, every bloody day of the week. I’m not close to my family, the people I grew up with, for various reasons. I don’t wish them ill, genuinely, but everyone’s better off if we do not encounter each other again. Ever.
Have you ever used a Foghorn? No, but there seems something fundamentally wrong in not having done so.

THE LETTER G:
Do you chew Gum? Very, very rarely.
Are you a Giver or a taker? Quite probably.
Do you like Gummy candies? No.

THE LETTER H:
How are you? Irritated at such a stupid question. I’ve never forgotten the definition of a bore as being someone who, when you ask them how they are… tells you.
What’s your Height? Six foot.
What colour is your Hair? Grey/white with the occasional strang of what’s left of my brown hair.

THE LETTER I:
What’s your favourite Ice cream? Banana. (Used to love melon flavour, but haven’t seen it in years.)
Have you ever Ice skated? Once, wrenched my knee and swore never to do it again…
Would you live in an Igloo for a bet? Not even if it would solve world hunger.

THE LETTER J:
What’s your favourite flavour Jelly/Jam? Strawberry. Every time. I had a stay in hospital a few years back. The only edible thing I ate while there was strawberry jam on toast. (Wow, haven’t thought of that in ages…)
Have you ever heard a really hilarious Joke? Yes, several that have had me literally crying with laughter.
Do you wear Jewellery? Yes, a thin gold chain with an equally gold Star of David (a 21st birthday present). I used to wear a wedding ring; every so often, I’ll catch sight of my left hand and it’ll take a second to realise what’s ‘missing’.

THE LETTER K:
Who do you want to Kill? Right now? No-one, but ask me again another time.
Do you want Kids? I’ve got one, thanks: a pretty amazing son named Philip. No intention of ever having another. (It’d be unfair for me – to the mother and child – to have another. Odds are I’d be dead before the kid was out of his or her 20s.)
Where did you have Kindergarten? Nursery? Luton.

THE LETTER L:
Are you Laid back? Sometimes.
Do you Lie? Sometimes. (See immediately above)
Have you ever been to London? It’s been known. Well, that’s obviously silly. So, instead, let’s go with:
Have you ever been to Los Angeles? Yes, spent part of my honeymoon with Laura there. Loved the place.

THE LETTER M:
What’s your favourite Movie? I bloody hate this question… I couldn’t narrow it down to one, so let’s go for one I can watch repeatedly: The Lion In Winter.
Do you still watch Disney Movies? Some of them, sure.
What type of Music you listen to? A very eclectic mix, everything from hard rock to ‘easy listening’, from muscial comedy to Clannad, from Glen Miller to Glenn Frey, from musical soundtracks to Chris De Burgh.

THE LETTER N:
Do you have a Nickname? Heh.
Favourite Number? 1729. For the obvious reason.
Do you prefer Night over day, or day over Night? The former, definitely. Always been more of a night owl.

THE LETTER O:
What’s your One wish? For Philip to be happy.
Are you an Only child? No, I’ve a younger brother, though we’re not in touch, and had an older brother.
Do you wish this was Over? Not particularly. And not as much as anyone reading.

THE LETTER P:
What one fear are you most Paranoid about? I have my fears, but none that I’m paranoid about. My paranoias are old enemies, I’m resigned to them now.
Do you love the colour Pink? No, not at all. My only even faint liking for it was that it occasioned a nice story I wrote for the daughter of close friends; she loved the colour pink, and asked me for a story for her birthday, about the colour pink. So I wrote one for her.
Are you a Perfectionist? When I had a day job, about work, yes. Outside that, not really. By inclination and training, I like accuracy and it’s probably why I have so many problems with those in the real world who treat both accuracy and the correct use of information as disposable when inconvenient.

THE LETTER Q:
Are you Quick to fall in love or lust? ‘Love [or lust] at first sight’ type thing? No. Only ever happened a couple of times, and that immediacy was never a good thing in the long run. For me, or for them.
Do you enjoy pub Quizzes? On occasion, yeah. Not as a regular thing, though.
Have you ever rode a Quad-bike? No, but I think it’d be fun to try.

THE LETTER R:
Do you think you’re always Right? Lord no – I’ve made so many mistakes it’s incredible. But once I’ve made my mind up on something, it takes a lot to change my mind. Unless it’s on a matter of fact. When I’m shown that I had a fact wrong, I’ll hold my hand up to it without protest.
Do you watch Reality TV? I loathe so called reality television with a passion that is terrifying to imagine. It’s the one genre of tv (as opposed to individual shows in a genre) I intensely dislike.
What’s a good Reason to cry? There are very few bad reasons.

LETTER S:
Do you prefer Sun or rain? Light rain.
Do you like Snow? Yes, but I hate slush.
What’s your favourite Season? A cool, but not bitingly cold, spring or autumn.

THE LETTER T:
What Time is it? Oh look at what time it was posted and then knock off a couple of minutes.
What Time did you wake up? Just after half-six this morning.
When was the last time you slept in a Tent? I don’t think I’ve ever slept in a tent.

THE LETTER U:
Do you own an Umbrella? Actually, I don’t think I do, any more. I had one, but lost it in Edinburgh last year, and haven’t replaced it.
Can you ride a Unicycle? No, not at all.
Have you ever said someone was Ugly? Usually the bloke in the mirror.

THE LETTER V:
What’s the worst Veggie? Brussels
Where do you want to go on Vacation? Again, money no object? New York, Bermuda, Antigua, Sydney, Skye, Edinburgh outside the Fringe.
Where was your last family Vacation to? I genuinely can’t remember. Haven’t taken a ‘family holiday’ in the past 20 years, unless you include taking Phil to comic cons, and even that you’re talking almost a decade or so back .

THE LETTER W:
What’s your Worst habit? Way, way too many to mention here.
Where do you live? Abbey Road, about ¼ mile from the studios.
Who’s your hero? I don’t have one.

THE LETTER X:
Have you ever had an X-ray? Lots of them.
How old were you when you first saw an X-rated movie? 15 or 16, I guess? No idea.
Favourite Xenomorph movie? Aliens. Much preferred it to the original, or the other sequels, despite its admitted faults.

THE LETTER Y:
Would you be friends with You? I doubt it, hugely.
What Year would you time travel to if you could? Temporarily? 2044. I think 25 years in the future is near enough that I wouldn’t suffer from much culture shock, but would still have enough of a ‘wow’ factor for me.
What’s advice would you give Younger You? How much younger? Teenage me? You WILL have sex at some point, I promise. Married me? Enjoy being married, while it lasts. Because it won’t. Me of a decade back? It’s ok to lean on others. Plenty of advice I’d give, but younger me would never believe Older me. because I wouldn’t believe Older me if he came back and gave me advice now.

THE LETTER Z:
What’s your Zodiac sign? Leo, but it’s utter bullshit.
Do you believe in the Zodiac? Of course not; it’s utter bullshit.
What’s your favourite Zoo animal? Not a huge fan of zoos.
 
 
OK, something more substantial tomorrow. Probably.

Yes, OK, even I’ll admit to a wince when I typed the title of this one…

Long before I started the countdown blogs, every so often, on a Saturday, I’d put up some YouTube videos or some single panel editorial cartoons, or even some ‘funny newspaper headlines’… some silliness, anyway.

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after yet another week when we look at the world and ask ‘what the f—?’ here’s some more silliness.

 
 
For no reason other than it came up in conversation this week… Not The Nine O’Clock News: Union Negotiation

 
 
Always surprises me how few people know that The Four Yorkshiremen sketch long pre-dated Monty Python and was originally from At last, the 1948 Show.

 
 
Ronnie Barker loved language; here’s his Cockney Rhyming Slang sermon

 
 
One of the all time classic examples of what can be done with a standard cartoon format Duck Amuck

 
 
And if we’re talking about classics, here’s Abbott and Costello: Who’s On First…?

 
 
And if we are talking about classics, I suppose it’s imposible not to have this on here: Victoria Wood, with The Saga of Barry and Freda. This is the original performace, I believe.

 
 

And from Mitch Benn, this week, if Dogs Ruled The World.

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

Housekeeping: Got caught up with a load of tech stuff yesterday – all too complicated and boring to go into here, and would involve lots of whinging – so skipped posting yesterday. The tech issues – and my irritation – have both continued today, so I’m pulling out an ‘in case of emergency, break glass’ post.
 


 
Maybe because I’m getting older, maybe because I tend to like being in structured environments, but I like knowing what ‘the rules’ are. And having those rules applied fairly, sensibly and rationally.

Possibly, that explains why I always so enjoyed both Warren Ellis’s various Forums over the year – The warren Ellis Forum, The Engine, and Whitechapel – and what was my online ‘home’ for the first few years of my online life: CompuServe’s Comics/Animations Forum. You knew the rules, you saw them applied fairly, and I liked that.

I also liked the community that built up there. I wrote in detail about why I liked those place here.

I also like traditions, the ‘it’s May, so it’s…’, or it’s “February, so it’s…”

And even leaving aside the birthdays thing, my own year these days tends to have four of those:

  • if it’s January, then it’s this

  • if it’s February, then it’s this

  • if it’s August, then it’s this

  • if it’s the end of November, it’s this

One tradition that stretches back to CompuServe’s Comics/Animations Forum, which I haven’t done since I left the Forum, is the ‘draft’. For a start, the sports ‘draft’ is, if not uniquely American, very much not a UK thing. We don’t do it over here. So I was fascinated at first and then faintly bemused by the whole concept thereafter.

But the Comics/Animation Forum ran a draft, every April, a couple of ‘drafts’ in fact, to coincide with the start of the Baseball season over the pond.

The idea was fairly simple: everyone got to select ten heroes (and then, in a second draft, ten villains) that fit a theme that you’ve chosen, but have not disclosed. You pick one hero a day, but if someone else has beaten you to it, tough, you have to choose another one.

Digging out from old notes, here were the rules for the 2002 Drafts.
 

Rules for 2002 drafts

It’s time once again for the Annual Super-hero Draft.

Usual rules in effect: You are drafting a team of super-heroes (along the lines of a Rotisserie Baseball league). There will be 10 rounds (hence 10 heroes), one per day.

In fairness to those with limited access, rounds will only take place on weekdays and will be posted at roughly 10am East Coast time, my access permitting.

If you miss any round you can catch up by posting more than one pick at once.

Characters will be drafted on a first-come-first-served basis.

No duplicates are allowed (parallel universe versions are duplicates, successors are not—even where they started out parallel and became successors by retcon).

You may release already drafted characters at any time, at which point they become fair game.

The heroes draft much contain heroes, the villain draft must contain villains. This is the superhero draft; so try to keep it to superheroes. If someone wants to run a “really cool anti-heroes” draft or a “real world heroic people” draft, go right ahead.

If a team misses five rounds in a row without notifying the Commissioner, he will presume that the team has dropped out, and the team-members will be released.

The Commissioner’s decisions may be appealed once. If you disagree with a ruling, you may state your case and the Commissioner may reconsider, but he will not be drawn into an argument…final rulings are just that.

The Commissioner

 
What sort of themes did people come up with? Well, over the years there were themes such as “heroes that started out as villains”, “second generation heroes”, “heroes that wear flags as part of their costumes”, “villains that are relatives of heroes”, etc.

Now I’m not a sporty person, but this seemed fun and silly, and needed some thought if you wanted to do it properly… so I took part most years.

Here’s some I did over the years: Obviously, I’m revealing the theme upfront here – in the originals, I only revealed at the end, as the format required. So what follows below is effectively the final reveal.
 


 

OK, you can call Team Budgie’s drafts this year Small Heroes, since they’re named for the “Rabbi” David Small books by Harry Kemmelman.

  • The first novel is entitled “Friday the Rabbi Slept Late”, so I drafted The Sleeper.
  • As I said when picking my second round draft, Wally West (The Flash) at one time needed food and calories all the time because his metabolism burned them up so fast. That seemed to fit with the second in the series, “Saturday The Rabbi went Hungry”.
  • The third novel was “Sunday The Rabbi stayed home”. Who feels “more at home” every day of his life than The Human Target?
  • The fourth novel caused me some problems. I couldn’t see anyone that fitted “Monday The Rabbi Took Off” until as I said, I realised that Superman was available.
  • I originally tagged Wolverine for my fifth pick, “Tuesday The Rabbi Saw Red”, as in “seeing red”, i.e. being angry. Once that idea had bitten the dust, I realised that Cyclops was an even better choice, since he quite literally “sees red”.
  • My sixth pick was easy. “Wednesday The Rabbi Got Wet”. Does anyone need to know why I chose Fathom from the Elementals?
  • “Thursday The Rabbi Walked Out”. Well, so did The Envoy (David Harstein) walking out on The Four Aces in the Wild Cards Universe, not reappearing for 30 years and even then, under a fake identity. He was my seventh round pick.
  • Now things got a tad harder. My eighth round pick had to link to “Someday The Rabbi Will Leave”. Who leaves more often than Access, crossing between the DC and Marvel Universes like we cross the road?
  • The ninth round drove me nuts until I remembered the ultimate scene from CAMELOT 3000. Then Sir Percival became the obvious link to “One Fine Day The Rabbi Bought A Cross.
  • My final draft pick had to link to “The Day The Rabbi Resigned”. I couldn’t really think of anyone that was an “obvious” pick, until I realised that the new Robin (Tim Drake) has a new costume, complete with a new design of the letter ‘R’ on his costume. If that’s not a ‘re-sign’-ing matter, I don’t know what is…

I thangew.

Or another year:

  • Wally West, as The Flash dashes around everywhere: Dasher
  • Barry Allen was the fastest man alive, someone who knew how to do a Quick-Step: Dancer
  • Venus is a goddess of love: Cupid
  • And Luke Cage‘s “Sweet Christmas!” gives us: Father Christmas
  • There you go, people, Santa and his Reindeer.

When it came to the villains that year, by the way, I cheated… and used the same theme. Of course I cheated – they’ve villains!

  • Spiral, from the X-Men, did her magic by dancing: Dancer
  • From Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, Thunderhead: Donner (or Donder)
  • Electro is as close to Lightning as I could get: Blitzen
  • The Purple Man. OK, purple is close to red. I’m colour blind. Sue me: Rudolph
  • And it has to be the Grinch who is the counterpart to: Father Christmas
  • There you go, people, Santa and his Reindeer… again.

In other years, I used the titles of Sandman collections, the titles of the events in the Decathalon, the Bill of Rights, even the first ten verses of Genesis, Chapter One…

So why am I boring you with this? telling you about this?

Because on a day when I’m pissed of about tech, and with myself over not being able to get it working properly, I don’t think it does any harm to miss the silliness of such things, the community that both thought this was fun, and took part, and also admired the thought put into something entirely silly.

So, yeah, basically I miss CompuServe.
 
 
More silliness tomorrow, since it’ll be Saturday.

Well, that was fun…

It’d been ages since I’d done one of these, and seeing various friends do it, and my missing #ThisIsMyJam, I figured why not.

The rules were simple.

Basically, this:

So, since it’s kind of nice to have a permanent record of such things, this is what I chose:

DAY 01: A song with a colour in the title.

Plenty there could be, but this is the song that immediately sprung to mind.

Paint It Black | The Rolling Stones.


 


 

DAY 02: A song you like with a number in the title

Well, it’s repeated but it’s a single number.

Officially entitled “Win 1 Lose 1” | Mitch Benn


 


 

DAY 03: A Song that reminds you of summertime

Yeah, this… one of my favourite songs anyway. Was going to save this for later, but… naah.

Walking On Sunshine | Katrina and The Waves

 


 
DAY 04: A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

A hard one. Because of painful memories? Or someone I occasionally & unexpectedly remember, and it always throws me, a lot.

For all sorts of reasons, though:

I Can Dream | Skunk Anansie

 


 
DAY 05: A song that needs to be played loud

What else?

Shout | Lulu

 


 
DAY 06: A song that makes you want to dance

OK, that’s just not fair. I mean, I don’t dance. At all. I just don’t.

So here’s one I did dance to, and still love: Laura and I started our marriage to it.

When You Tell Me That You Love Me | Diana Ross

 


 
DAY 07: A song to drive to

Hmm. Could be loads, depending on my mood. And usually, it’d be an audiobook anyway.

But let’s go for this one, always a good one to belt out loud in the car.

The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) | Cher

 


 
DAY 08: a song about drugs or alcohol

Ok, one song jumps to the fore and, while this is far from the best version, you can never go wrong with The Muppets, esp with Peter Sellers as a guest.

Cigarettes and Whiskey

 


 
DAY 09: a song that makes me happy

My late brother sang and played the guitar, with more enthusiasm than talent, but he did singalongs with his 2 yngr brothers. Here’s one he liked playing, a lot.

Help Me Make It through the Night | Kristofferson/Coolidge

 


 
DAY 10: a song that makes you sad

Any songs that qualify are ones that remind me of a rough, or bad, time. Or at least just a rough time in my head, in my soul.

So, no details, but… yeah.

Alone Again (Naturally) | Gilbert O’Sullivan

 


 
DAY 11: a song you never get tired of

Kind of implies a long-loved song, a very long loved song. So something from way back.

Here’s something I’ve loved since the moment I heard it.

Georgy Girl | The Seekers

 


 
DAY 12: a song from your pre-teen days

Well, could be anything from pre-1977, but I’ll take this from 1969, which I remember falling in love with as a song the moment I heard it.

It’s Getting Better | Cass Elliot

 


 
DAY 13: a song you like from the 70s

Despite being destroyed by so many keyboard players over the decades, the original from 1973 still holds up for me.

Piano Man | Billy Joel

 


 
DAY 14: a song you’d love to have played at your wedding

Hmm. Two problems with this: (1) I’m NEVER getting married again, (2) I already had what my ex-wife and I opened the dancing to as Day 06.

But here’s one for you.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face | Roberta Flack

 


 
DAY 15: a song you like that’s a cover by another artist

Plenty to choose from, because oft times I prefer the cover to the original.

Here’s one of them I really like.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside | Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews

 


 
DAY 16: a song that’s a classic favourite

I… have… no… idea… what… that… means…

Genuinely.

A song that everyone likes? One that’s regarded by most people as a fantastic song? “Happy birthday”?

#sigh

OK…

Mad About The Boy | Dinah Washington

 


 
DAY 17: a song you’d sing with someone on karaoke

Y’see, I’m worried, terrified, that if I say ANYTHING, Kirsty Newton will drag me up on stage for Kirsty’s Singalong when it restarts.

But OK:

Well, Did You Evah? | Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra

 


 
DAY 18: a song from the year you were born

OK, well, I’m lucky here. 1964 was a pretty good year for music.

Let’s go for a singalong one.

I’m Into Something Good | Herman’s Hermits

 


 
DAY 19: a song that makes you think about life

Most of the songs that I thought of were, frankly, too dark.

And then there’s this. I was going to go for the classic Jim Croce version, but no. This is too good not to include.

Time In A Bottle | Muppets

 


 
DAY 20: a song that has many meanings to you

OK.

This is a song that qualifies. And no, you probably don’t know most of the meanings it has for me.

Always On My Mind | Willie Nelson

 


 
DAY 21: a song you like with a person’s name in the title

So many it could have been, but I do like this one… especially the sheer fun they’re having performing together.

Rosetta | Alan Price and Georgie Fame

 


 
DAY 22: a song that moves you forward

‘Moves you forward’? I’m taking that as something I enjoy – when the foot allows – walking to.

Not a ‘song’ strictly speaking, but it’s my list. So there.

The Opening Theme from SHAFT | Isaac Hayes

 


 
DAY 23: a song you think everyone should listen to

Easy choice here, seriously… So bloody easy.

Alternative Right | Mitch Benn

 


 
DAY 24: a song by a band you wish were still together

Oh, easy.

The Philosophers’ Song | Monty Python

 


 
DAY 25: a song you like by an artist no longer living

Possibly my favourite of her songs, and I’m still upset she’s no longer around. And every so often, it hits again.

Things Would Never Have Worked | Victoria Wood

(Song starts about a minute in)

 


 
DAY 26: a song that makes you want to fall in love

I’ve tried not to cheat with this. BUT I’ve genuinely no wish to ever fall in love again, nor have anyone fall for me.

So, I’m cheating.

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ | Long John Baldry and Kathi McDonald

 


 
DAY 27: a song that breaks your heart

Every bloody time. (Although Jess Robinson’s version of this, impersonating O’Connor, also breaks my heart every bloody time as well.)

Nothing Compares 2U | Sinéad O’Connor

 


 
DAY 28: a song by an artist whose voice you love

Definitely one of those “heard one song by this artist, and immediately wanted to listen to everything she’s ever sung”.

A Night Like This | Caro Emerald

 


 
DAY 29: a song you remember from your childhood

Here’s something from February 1973, when I was eight, so I’m pretty sure it qualifies.

Avenues and Alleyways | Tony Christie

 


 
DAY 30: a song that reminds you of yourself

For so many reasons, it’s got to be something by my mate Mitch.

And this definitely applies, even it it’s SO inappropriately early, he definitely won’t like me using it.

Christmas Whether You Like It Or Not | Mitch Benn

 


 

Well, that was fun… A friend of mine, Al Kennedy, created a follow up, another 30 days… so you can either follow my choices, usually posted about 6pm UK time, on Twitter at @budgie, or wait a month and see what I picked…

 
 

Meanwhile, something else tomorrow…

I’m going to keep going with the ‘stories from the vaults on Tuesday’ posts. People seem to like them, and with around 700 of the buggers in the vaults, I doubt I’ll run short for a while.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word asked for, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

Whenever I wrote the stories, I had a backstory in my head, what happened before, what happened next, who the characters are. The backstories aren’t necessary to write – if I’ve written the story well – to understand the story, but they’re there, in my head, so I have the characters nailed.

Rarely, only very occasionally, someone would ask what the backstory was. I was always happy to tell them, but those asking sometimes regretted asking.

One of these, I was asked about. You may guess which one; I won’t confirm.

(The second of these tales, by the way, was one of the only stories where someone used the same word as the title and the word to use. An interesting anomaly.)

I hope you enjoy both of them…

(Note: [via Livejournal] as the challenger merely means it was from a no longer current Livejournal user])


Title: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
Word: oddity
Challenger: [Livejournal]
Length: 200 words exactly

I could have, you know. On another day, maybe even I would have.

Maybe.

Three years later, and I can’t get him out of my head.

From that first day in the student refectory, queuing up with people I barely knew, soaking in the sounds.

And there he was. Sitting alone, reading a novel; a shocking neon yellow cover with crimson lettering, an oddity among the conservatively coloured and labelled text books others had.

I’d noticed the book before I had looked at the person holding it. I saw eyes narrowed in concentration, the face betraying someone on the edge of adulthood; features still acknowledging their heredity.

He shut the novel and stretched his long arms out, yawning. Then he stood, placed the book in his bag, and aimed himself at the exit.

As he passed, he gave a cursory look in my direction and continued past.

He stopped at the door, then turned and gave me a dazzling smile…

“I could have, you know. Maybe even I would have… Maybe.”

“What’s that, babe?” he asks sleepily, stirring next to me in bed. I stare at him for a long moment, thinking that I could have ignored him that day…

© Lee Barnett, 2005


Title: Cold
Word:
cold
Challenger: Del
Length: 200 words exactly

I’d been searching for her for three years when the telephone call came.

The ringing interrupted my shower and I turned the water off, grabbing for a towel as I stumbled through the room, drying myself as I went towards the telephone. My hand stabbed out and I pulled the receiver to my ear.

“Charlie?” came a voice I knew so well, moments before I could greet the caller.

“It’s me,” she said, unnecessarily. As if I could forget the gentleness of her dulcet tones. The voice continued, “I’m safe.”

Three years of not knowing, three years of wondering. Three years of hunger for her.

“I… I…” I stumbled over the words in surprise. All my plans, all my carefully worked out speeches. Gone, like they’d never existed, never been planned through the empty nights.

“Don’t try to find me,” she said. “I’m safe… at last. Safe from you.”

“Lisa, don’t go!” I cried, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again.”

“Once was enough,” she said, sadness suffusing her words.

The phone went dead. It was cold in my hands.

Cold.

Like a children’s game of hide and seek, I felt further away from her than ever.

© Lee Barnett, 2005


 
 
Something else tomorrow…

Small amusement to start today’s entry. One of the things I like about iOS, have liked since the very first iteration of it is keyboard shortcuts. They’re basically a way of typing a combination of letters which will then automatically resolve into a pre-written word, phrase or sentence. I have a few, but the three I’d always recommend to set up are: your email address, your phone number and… well, I’ll come on to that in a ducking minute, ok?

Being able to type ‘bbbb’ and have ‘budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk’ automagically appear saves so much bloody time, I tell you.

I set up ‘::’ (two colons) as a shortcut for my mobile phone number and ’44:’ as the same number but in ‘international format’. Which is fine and dandy… right up until you need to type “55 plus 44:’ as the title of a blog entry. Heh.

Oh, and the third? Since I rarely need to type the word ‘ducking’, I set it so if I do type the word ‘ducking’, it resolves instantly to ‘fucking’. Which is great until I sent a tweet during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions asserting that ‘David Cameron was fucking the question’. Which may well have equally accurate, now I come to think of it…

Anyway, all that is what occurred to me just now as I started today’s entry.

(Thanks for the private messages I received regarding yesterday’s entry, by the way. A more personal post than many, I was genuinely unsure of the wisdom of posting it. I’m glad that, so far, I’ve not regretted doing so.)

So, what’s new today? Or rather, about what can I write?

How about stupidity? Not mine for once, but politicians’. It’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks, since I heard the redoubtable lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green (who you may remember from the Twitter Joke Trial if for no other reason) comment a couple of weeks ago that the mark of Boris Johnson’s government has been its complete stupidity and incompetence in its attempts to prorogue parliament. It’s a fair comment. One can argue the toss over whether we have the worst politicians in generations, but, surely, one cannot argue against the position that we have the most incompetent?

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but I remember then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s budget in 2012. In that election, you may or may not recall, the Conservative/Lib Dem government reduced the top rate of income tax from the rate it had been at for a couple of years – 50% – to 45%, the rate it remains at today.

Now, despite the rate only having been at 50% for a couple of years, one of the last things Alastair Darling did as a Labour Chancellor, it was seen at the time, widely seen, as Osborne giving the rich a tax break, while stinging the poor. It was also perceived as making a nonsense – maybe fairer to say, making yet more nonsense – of the government’s claimed ‘we’re all in it together’.

Osborne claimed at the time that the additional tax rate brought in hardly anything (arguments in favour of, and against, this claim vary in both detail and credibility).

But I remember observing to a friend at the time that had Osborne said ‘in the next five fiscal years, we will reduce the higher rate of taxation by one percentage point in each fiscal year‘, he’d have almost certainly gotten away with it.

A reduction of one percentage point per annum? Yeah, there was so much else wrong with that 2012 budget (the ‘omnishambles budget’ as it became known) that I thought at the time, and still think, that it would have been relegated so far down the list of problems people had with the budget that it would have been at the end of page 37. As a footnote.

But Osborne wanted the appearance of something big – yes, appearance; he said the tax rate didn’t bring in much, remember? So he wasn’t giving much back at all – while risking, and then achieving lousy headlines and a gift to Labour.

Over the Atlantic, we had “stupid Watergate”, as John Oliver dubbed it (Watergate, if everyone involved had been a fucking idiot), and we now have Even Stupider Watergate… Trump et al couldn’t have been more incompetent in what they’ve done, how they did it, how they attepted to cover it up, and how they tried to cover up the cover up, if they’d gone out of their way to do all four.

And then there’s Boris Johnson, whose government’s incompetence in the attempt to prorogue parliament led the Supreme Court to conclude – 11 to nil – that not only was there not a good reason to prorogue parliament for five weeks, but that there was no reason at all other than to frustrate parliament.

And again, I’m struck by the incompetence and stupidity whereby had Johnson had gone for a three week recess and then a prorogation for a week or so, he’d have gotten the same effect he ostensibly¹ wanted: party conferences, no scrutiny in the chamber itself, no PMQs, and a Queen’s Speech into the bargain…

(¹I say ostensible because I’m not at all sure that that’s what he did want; I remember that the day after parliament had the prorogation-that-never-was, Johnson was due to face the Select Committee made up of all the Select Committee chairs… an appointment that prorogation made moot.)

Instead, he went for the big gesture, in which he’d effectively gain little, but risk everything… and it blew back on him, like a well-deserved bucket of shit.

Johnson continued his lack of competence, following half a dozen votes in parliament, of which he lost every one, not a single civil servant nor minister of the crown providing a witness statement – due to dangers of perjury, being slapped down hard by the Speaker of the House of Commons, by MPs, by the Scottish Court of Sessions and the bloody UK Supreme Court.

David Allen Green said, a couple of weeks ago:

It’s an observation I’d not considered before; now it’s one I won’t forget.

Y’know, I miss when politics was efficient, when politics was boring, was predictable, was… forecastable, with a reasonable degree of success.

I also wonder when was the last time that anyone could predict, say, the next 6 months in world politics with any reasonable chance of being correct. I’m not talking about individual events, here and there, but the major events, who would win elections, how politicians would ‘do’, etc. I mean, lots of people thought Trump would fuck it up, but surely they didn’t see scandal after scandal and fuckup after fuckup to this extent?

I reckon mid- to late-2015 was the last time.

Say August 2015.

I think late-2015 was when even (especially?) knowledgable folks went “Well, I dunno…”

You know what? I think I’ll stick with my own observation made since late 2016, but semi-regularly since then:

 
 
It’s Tuesday tomorrow, so the usual then…

This is being written on Sunday afternoon, and as soon as it’s done, I’ll post it.

I had no plans to write it, but I didn’t want to skip another day, and I’m not feeling that great, so you get this, a more personal thing than I’d usually write, and I may delete it afterwards.
 


 

The following has been quoted any number of times over the years, but there’s a certain fundamental truth to the opening to L P Hartley’s novel The Go Between:
 

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

 
Not only for the obvious reason: different mores, different cultures, different conventions, hell, different laws, but there’s a more personal aspect to it.

There’s also an element of, if I may adapt the lines:
 

The past was a foreign country; we did things differently there.

 
Of course, the reason we did things differently back then is because we were different then. I’ve different tastes now, different experiences; I’ve different ways of looking at the world. In the intervening years, the passing decades, I’ve hopefully matured… without necessarily having ‘grown up’ too much.

I recall being both in general less confident in meeting strangers, but on occasion, in the specifics, more confident. I recall knowing so much less, but thinking I knew so much more.

I remember being struck dumb by some women in my life, utterly thunderstruck, and wholly ‘lost’ in their presence. It’s been a very long time since that’s happened, and I’m genuinely unsure whether that’s a bad thing. Or a good thing. Or whether it means any damn thing at all.

Yes, of course there are some women I know who blow me away with their strength, their personalities. I don’t mean ‘scare’ me with their personalities, although that’s occasionally happened. I mean women who so impress with their personality, their talent, their strength that I’m genuinely in awe of them.

But being ‘lost’ in them… much as I can get ‘lost’ in a gorgeous pair of eyes; no, it’s been a very long time.

Back in the past, I could handle some stuff, some substances, that I know I couldn’t now. (And yes, I know that for a fact; the last time I imbibed something that was, let us say, less than legal, yeah, it didn’t go well. I wasn’t in danger or anything, but yes, I had a bad reaction and there was no reason other than lack of experience, and surfeit of age. My time of smoking anything, let alone that, is now well in the past.)

I’ve mentioned before, well, alluded to anyway, that I’ve had some mental health issues the past few years. It’s impossible, obviously, to know not whether that’s had an effect on the less attractive, the less helpful, facets of how I am now… but how much an effect it’s had. In all honesty, I think it’s probably merely enhanced those facets, stripped away some of the social cover that’s necessary – I use the word advisedly – to operate in any social way.

I mean, a friend more than a decade ago said that I’m ‘dangerously content’ in my own company, and certainly, the past few years, I’d have to be a fool not to acknowledge the central truth of the observation. Most of the time, at least. Occasionally, one in a while, it’s untrue, and it bites, hard. But for most of the time, for almost all of the time, it’s accurate.

Mind you, he could have said it two decades’ ago and it would still have been mostly true, although of course, twenty years’ ago I was married with an infant child.

The marriage ended in fact in 2005, and in name in 2015, four years ago. Laura and I never had a reason to get divorced before then, and we never really had a reason to formalise it then but there was no reason not to, either, our son being over 18 by then.

But since then, I’m always been mostly comfortable in the company of a small group, a very small group, of friends, I’m more comfortable when in the company of no more than four or five people. Any more than that and I start to get itchy, edgy… uncomfortable.

And in a group of a dozen, a couple of dozen? No. I tolerate it about as much as they tolerate me.

(Oddly, and I’ve never figured out why, I’m more ok in a large crowd when I don’t know more than a very few people. In part, I guess, because I can keep myself to myself; I’m not obliged to be social in a way I kind of have to be when it’s two dozen people I know, friends or otherwise. But, hey, pop psychology is stupid at best and dangerous at worst, especially when applied to one’s self, so who the hell knows?)

What’s brought on this less than attractive self-reflection is one of those confluence of events, one of those sets of coincidences that occur every so often: I’ve watched a half dozen tv shows, dramas, this week where one character or another had been undergoing psychiatric care, or rehab, or some form of care anyway, where/because they feel useless or bad, or depressed.

Obviously, it’s television drama, so I’m not expecting there to be documentary levels of veracity and truth and accuracy any more than the movie The Accountant was documentary-like in the skills your average auditor possesses. But in every case, or nearly anyway, the ‘patient’ (for want of a better word) was told ‘you have a right to be happy’ or ‘you deserve to be happy’ or even ‘you should want to be happy’.

And I imagine me being told those, and me not understanding it. At all. And even more, somehow me being at fault for being the one who doesn’t understand.

A right to be happy? Deserve to be happy? I find it impossible to comprehend either as a concept. (Not quite true; I find it easy to imagine in fiction, and impossible in ‘real life’.)

The desire for it, I get, kind of. But not really. I understand the ‘desire’ bit, not the ‘desire to be happy‘ bit, as if it’s something that’s in your control, as if desire = effort = achievement. Or even desire must lead to effort… which must lead to achievement.

Did I understand any of them at some point, though? Back in the past, back when ‘I’ did things differently? I don’t know.

And that’s something I’m once again unsure whether it’d be a good thing to know.
 
 
Something else tomorrow, something hopefully less self-serving, less introspective, and substantially more fun.

No desperation with the titles of these Saturday posts. not in the least…

Long before I started the countdown blogs, every so often, on a Saturday, I’d put up some YouTube videos or some single panel editorial cartoons, or even some ‘funny newspaper headlines’… some silliness, anyway.

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

And after the week we’ve all had, we deserve much silliness; so here’s some more bits of silliness.

 

 
 
With the long and detailed Brexit court case we’ve just had in the UK Supreme Court, this seems entirely apposite. Not The Nine O’Clock News: Aleebee

 
 
As I get older and find myself occasionally reaching for the right word in conversation, I have more sympathy with Bert and Charlie as portrayed by The Two Ronnies.

 
 
When I was at school, corporal punishment was still allowed. I was never caned, but was threatened with it on one occasion, for some minor offence. (As far as I’m aware, my headmaster never actually caned anyone, but threatened it on regular occasions.) Anyway, here’s Roman Atkinson and Angus Deaton with Fatal Beatings

 
 
Dunno about a smile, but this is always worth watching. (And no, for the gullible among you, this isn’t something anyone actually made from farm equipment. Animusic

 
 
Victoria Wood was an utter genius, who died long before her time. So many songs of hers that I love. This one, however, may be my favourite: Things Would Never Have Worked

 
 

Mitch Benn, on the welcome and delightful disintegration into meaninglessness of UKIP. It’s quite sweary, as, of course, it should be. And though written before the Brexit Party’s creation, warns about it….

 
 

See you tomorrow, with something else.

55 plus 40: Keepers

Posted: 26 September 2019 in 55 plus, internet, social media
Tags: , ,

I got snowed under with something else today, and need to pop into the Apple Store this afternoon for an appointment. (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my iPhone XR but I’m getting it checked out just in case.)

So, here’s some stuff from my ‘Keepers’ photo album, with no context at all. I’ve somehow got hundreds of odd pics, some I’ve taken, odd stuff from the internet I’ve collected.

Here’s just a tiny sample.

Something else tomorrow.

Enjoy.


 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

  


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

55 plus 39: Slices of time

Posted: 25 September 2019 in 55 plus
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately, What with the week long run of Doctor Who related posts, and then a couple of ‘stories from the vaults’ yesterday specifically on the subject of ‘time’.

And I may complete this week’s posts with another couple of posts about ‘time’ or Doctor Who and then put the subject to bed for a bit.

But since I have been thinking about time, I also wondered what I’d have been writing about had I been blogging for the past ten years on this day.

Well, I wasn’t blogging on this day each of the past ten years, but I was probably on twitter.

So let’s take a look at what I was blogging about or tweeting about on this day back through the years.

(Note, if I didn’t actually tweet on the day, I’ll take the closest day I can find, ok? OK.)

So

…25th September 2009:

Well, the 26th to be precise. I chose this one because it’s a never ending ‘huh, I wonder…’ for me. Back then, I was on LiveJournal, running a thing I called budgie’s squawks, and I had something like 300 people following the blog; ‘friends’ in the terminology LiveJournal used. And, like many, most of them didn’t comment on the blog posts. OK, far more commented than comment here – not complaining, but it’s rare if I get any comments, let alone from multiple commenters.

But I’d often get comments on Livejournal… from the same couple of dozen people, so I asked, in that entry:
 

This is for people who don’t or at least only rarely comment in reply to entries.

Who are you…?

I’m curious.

(Also wondering who’s actually reading this blog, as opposed to who can read it.)

 
And I got responses; some folks were ‘hey, you remember me?’ and some were ‘I’m reading, but I never comment’.

It did the trick; people commented more often afterwards.

Ah, how times change.

25th September 2010:

I was in the middle of a long fast fiction challenge run: 150 stories in 150 days, one per day. no matter what, I would write one a day. Whether that story was written at 8 in the morning or half-eleven at night. One a day.

I was broken by the end of the run; hell, I was probably broken two-thirds of the way through it. But it remains one of the best writing things I’ve ever done. And I’m very proud of most of the stories in the run. This one? Well, I don’t know. Reading it now, it works as a story, and it’s a nice dark twist at the end, but I think I’d write it differently now, with less telegraphing – to me, anyway – of the eventual ending, in every sense of the word.

25th September 2011:

I’d finished the LiveJournal blog a month earlier; it wasn’t doing what I wanted any more, wasn’t giving me what I wanted any more, and a few things inside LiveJournal were beginning to concern me. I wasn’t so much taking a long break from blogging for a while – I’d done that earlier in the year, and it was the first seriously long break I’d taken from blogging since 2003 – but a new start was much needed, in tone, and in content.

So I kicked off this place on 1st October 2011.

And I said Hello, did a brief introduction, and moved on…

25th September 2012:

Took a much required break from social media and blogging from late August until mid October. (Main reason, though not the sole one, was because I was in the middle of a pretty comprehensive breakdown, was in hospital, and then back at the flat but still very, very not… right.)

So you get this, the last post I wrote before I took the break.

It was something I used to do on LiveJournal and tried a few times here but it never quite worked here; I think it needed the ‘community’ LiveJournal encouraged and wordpress never quite did in the same way. It was a ‘teach me something’.

To be more precise, it was me saying, and I’m going to reproduce the post because I really wish it had worked on the couple of times I tried it here:
 

Some years ago, there was a series of guide books to software entitled Tips, Tricks and Traps. Written distinctly with tongue firmly in cheek, the books purported to be merely a guide to the very important, nay vital things you needed to know in order to use a specific piece of software. Of course, the books were nothing of the sort – they covered everything from the very basic to the quite advanced.

They all ended up with three ‘lists of ten things’, which were essential reading. The first was “Ten Things you really do need to know”; the second was “Ten Things that it’s very helpful to be able to do”. The last was the genius bit: “Ten Things you’ll need beer for,” the idea being that with these things, it took too much time to learn how to do them, so it would be much easier to go to someone who really knew the software and say to them: “if I buy you beer, will you please do this for me?”

Now, I have no beer, but I sometimes get incredibly envious of the skills possessed by other people.

Time to address that envy, I think.

Teach me one thing about your job, or a skill you possess, something that the odds are that I don’t know. (Note, I’m not asking what skills you possess – I’m requesting that you teach me something about that skill…)

You want examples? OK, well, say you spend your professional life writing. Then tell me how you get over ‘writer’s block’. Or if you can touch type, what’s the hardest word to type, and how do you remember it? You’re a whiz at teaching others mnemonics? Then teach me some. Or if you write gags, how do you know what’s funny and what’s not? Or if you write web pages, did I know that by sticking <b> and </b> around a word, I’ll make it appear emboldened? (Well, “yes“, is the obvious answer to that one…)

Other examples people have taught me over the years include:
– how to feed a cat a tablet
– a sommelier explaining how he decides the description of a wine
– the key to cleaning up images for icons
– how to breed fruit flies
– the best way to corner at speed
– a teacher taking me step by step through the process of the “you’re about to be in trouble” stare
– how to design a room
– the placement of word balloons
– how to learn a really difficult piece of music
– to create a genuinely blind hem on a satin bridal gown or other formal outfit
– how to calculate the flow of bubble bath when you bathe
– how a cover teacher knows your name in class (when you don’t think they do)

Go on then – teach me something about your job, or a skill you possess.

 
But as I say, it never quite worked in the same way.

Ah well, moving on, and closer…

25th September 2013:

Have a tweet.

Ah, the missions.

I used to hand out missions on Twitter before I went to bed.

I should get back to that at some point, I guess.

25th September 2014:

Have another tweet:

No comment on that, other than that I still have them around in Dropbox, filed somewhere or other.

Anyway, moving on…

25th September 2015:

Hmm. congratulations, mr corbyn… and goodbye . No surprise that my twitter account and, occasionally, the blog became substantially more political and angry from this point on. I’ve written here and elsewhere what changed. No need to go into it in this entry. But yeah, things took a darker, and certainly less pleasant, tone.

25th September 2016:

We’re back to Twitter for the rest, I’m afraid and I didn’t blog in September 2016, and then took 2017, 2018 and most of 2019 off from blogging before returning in June 2019 for the ’55 minus’ run which extended into the ’55 plus’ run you’re now reading.

Erm, see what I meant earlier?

Let’s skip forward a year.

25th September 2017:

Oh, come on…

Maybe last year?

25th September 2018:

OK, yeah, that’s more like the me everyone knows, at least.

And now we’re at 25th September 2019:

Well, there’s this blog entry
 
 
Something else tomorrow…

I’m going to keep going with the ‘stories from the vaults on Tuesday’ posts. People seem to like them, and with around 700 of the buggers in the vaults, I doubt I’ll run short for a while.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

In keeping with the recent posts on this blog, here are two very different stories about time.

I hope you enjoy both of them…

(Note: [via Livejournal] as the challenger merely means it was from a no longer current Livejournal user])


Title: The Space Time Continuum
Word: cheesy
Challenger: Mary Picken
Length: 200 words exactly

As we consumed the cheesy nibbles, I grinned at the others.

Abraham was the oldest of the group. He was the earliest time traveller known, although it’s possible that there were others that we’d not yet met, not at this stage in our lifelines.

Tenses could get confused when dealing with time travel, let alone adding in the factor of alien races.

Take Zs3q⁴. Passing for human, just about, this was the second and sixth time we’d met: the sixth time I’d met her, but only the second time she’d met me. I knew that the next time she saw me, she’d have a new hairstyle, bright pink, and I’d be surprised at it. And she’d be astonished that I was surprised since it was, apparently, my idea. I was wondering at what point in this meeting I’d say something that acted as a catalyst.

We were sat in late twentieth Century New York, listening to music that to me was ancient, at least fifty years old. But Charley, used to the crooners of the 1950s, well, he kept complaining that you couldn’t hear the words.

I couldn’t wait to introduce him to the really quaint stuff, like punk rock.

© Lee Barnett, 2006


Title: See The Future
Word:
precisely
Challenger: [Livejournal]
Length: 200 words exactly

Two seconds old: the cry breaks the silence in the delivery room; I stare down at my son, this brand new person who has changed everything. The world is a different place.

Two days old: I look in the crib at him as he sleeps, and fill with pride as I see his chest swell, and then deflate, over and over.

Two weeks old: he’s bigger, but otherwise the same. I feel puzzled somehow, as if something more should be happening. He lifts his head briefly as if in reply.

Two months old: He smiles at me with precisely the same toothless grin as yesterday. Every other child, it might be gas, but he recognizes me. Of course he does.

Two years old: When the hell did he learn to run so fast? And who’s been giving him climbing lessons? I swear, if I have to get him down from the living room table one more time…

Two decades old: And he’s telling me I don’t understand – I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young.
 


 
Two hours old: I stare at my grandchild in disbelief, this brand new person who has changed everything. The world is a different place.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


 
 
Something else tomorrow…

(Previously: part 1; part 2; part 3, part 4.)

As you really should have expected by now, this final post in this series on Doctor Who left far too much to sensibly write about in a single post, so a longer one today… and one additional post on Wednesday that’s not about the individual Doctors, so not really part of this run. Another ‘½’ post, if you will.

The Twelfth (?) Doctor – Peter Capaldi
Twelfth Doctor - Peter CapaldiSometimes, in the course of a long running drama, whether it’s told in comics, on movies, or on television, the continuity gets a bit wobbly. Whether or not that bothers you is a personal thing. Me? I’m less worried about the strict following of continuity until or unless it affects a story or a thing that I particularly like. Yes, it’s’ entirely arbitrary and perhaps a bit hypocritical, but hey ho.

An inevitable consequence of the wobbly continuity though is when a writer puts something in that then becomes rigid, an unshakeable part of the series long storyline… which buggers it up for future writers.

There’s no way, when the writers of The Deadly Assassin stuck in the rule that Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, that they ever expected Doctor Who to last long enough to ever need number twelve. And, in a way, they were right, as the series ended in 1986. Before, well, you know.

And that’s leaving aside whether it was thirteen lives or just twelve.

But in strict continuity, you already had a problem: Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker, Davison, Baker, McCoy, McGann, Eccleston, Hurt, Tennant, Tennant again (don’t ask) Smith: no more regenerations left.

So how could you have another Doctor? It meant that when Peter Capaldi was cast, everyone knew the writers would have to come up with something. And they did, nicking an old throwaway idea from way back, that the Time Lords could grant a new regeneration cycle, as they had once done for the Master.

So, is he the twelfth or the thirteenth? (Well, before you say it’s an obvious answer, how many Presidents of the United States have their been? everyone regards Trump as the forty-fifth president… but Grover Cleveland was President twice, separated by Benjamin Harrison and is counted twice, as the 2nd and the 24th Presidents…)

It’s a moot point; he’s The Doctor, just as Daniel Craig is James Bond, not the [insert whatever the hell number he is}-th Bond

Huh; that got away from me a bit. Anyways, as it’s useful to say in such circumstances, Capaldi was the Doctor. Back to the older character, back to being very alien, back to being torn between admiration for the human race and disgust at it. But still, very much Earth’s protector. I said yesterday that i had no idea what kind of Doctor he’d be, and that after the first few episodes, I still didn’t.

A brave move by the producers and writers to treat the first of his seasons as very much a ‘let’s try him out, take him for a spin, see what we end up with’.

The problem was that by the end of the first season, we still didn’t know. Capaldi’s Doctor – and I loved his portrayal in the role -never quite settled into a character you could sum up in the same way you could with previous incarnations. The Doctor could be silly, funny, furious, sensible, irrational… whatever the story demanded, and the character was made to fit into that.

It never quite worked; you didn’t know which Doctor you’d be getting… right up until the final season when he began to come into focus a bit: fiercely intelligent, utterly ruthless, selfish – oh, extraordinarily so – arrogant, but once he’d decided he was ‘right’, then he’d fight hell itself for the cause.

To steal a line, nothing so became him as the manger of his leaving.

I was sorry to see Capaldi’s Doctor go; I’d have liked to have seen far more of this darker, more manipulative, more secretive Doctor. But that’s just me, and as I said about Eccleston, when an actor wants to go, it’s probably for the best.

But before he left, the wonder, the joy, the sheer fun of Twice Upon A Time, with the return of the First Doctor, in a cracking story, bubbling with fun, with a horrible dark subplot running through it.

Some additional bullet points.

  1. I loved how they tied up the River Song story; the Christmas Special was fun, and celebratory and just a little bit sad at the end. A perfect christmas special.

  2. I wasn’t sorry to see Clara go, although I utterly loved Masie Williams’ guest spots in the season.

  3. Missy was fun, and dangerous and it was great having her as a character in the show. (I guessed who she was precisely ten seconds before the reveal, which is of course the perfect time to guess a plot twist.) And thank you thank you thank you for finally giving us a multi-Master story. It’s been needed for far too long.

  4. I was a huge fan of Nardol in the series. A good foil for the Doctor, and the implication that he’s been the Doctor’s companion for a very, very long time before we meet him again.

  5. I liked Bill, a lot, but feel that she was wasted in the stories that season. Terrible ostensible end, in every sense, to her story, and I hope we see her again at some point.

The Current Doctor – Jodie Whittaker
Current Doctor - Jodie WhittakerYeah, I’m sticking with my earlier point. No need for the numbers right now. So, apparently some people had an issue with a woman being cast? Idiots. The concept that a Time Lord can be either man or woman after regeneration had been set ages again in the series, and made explicit during both Matt Smith’s run and in Capaldi’s. Was it ‘time’ for The Doctor to be a woman? Dunno, to be honest.

Was I pleased that the Doctor was a woman this time? Kind of, to be honest, but more pleased at who was cast. I was aware of Whittaker both from Broadhurst – in which she acted with… you were expecting me to say David Tennant, weren’t you? Weren’t you? well, yes, ok, she acted with Tennant but also – more interesting to me – she was married to Andrew Buchan, the same Andrew Buchan who played Matt Smith’s brother in Political Animals. That pleased me enormously for no reason whatsoever.

(I was also delighted by the casting of Bradley Walsh. I’d been a fan of him as an actor since Law & Order: UK where he took the ‘Lennie Briscoe’ role and absolutely nailed it.)

I was ok about the introductory episode. Seemed too little about The Doctor and too much about everything else, but I never once doubted her as The Doctor, and I did like the whole ‘creating a sonic screwdriver from scratch’.

As for the rest of her first season, I give it an 8. Out of 10. No, I didn’t like 8 of the episodes but I don’t expect to like every episode. For every episode I loved (The Ghost Monument, Demons Of The Punjab) there was an episode I really didn’t like (Kerblam!, the Witchfinders). BUT, more importantly, I liked her in the role, never once doubted – once the initial surprise you get with any new Doctor had passed -that she was, that she is, the Doctor. She didn’t’ need to tell me she was the Doctor. She showed me.

If only the writers had had her confidence. If there’s one problem with thsis year’s run, it’s not the actors, nor the characters, nor the casting. definitely not the set designs. (I’m not a fan of the new TARDIS interior, but it’s solely personal choice; theres notthing objectively ‘wrong’ with it.) But my heavens the writers think the audience are thick: there’s so much infodump, so much

“Doctor, what is this?”

“What, this?”

“Yes, this!”

“Ah, this. Well this is [infodump] and the reason it’s important is [infodump] because [infodump]”

“But wait, Doctor!”

“What?”

“Look at THIS, Doctor!”

“Look at THAT?”

etc, etc.

So, yeah, I like this Doctor; I just hope they give her better scripted and dialogued stories next year.

(Oh, and I bloody love her outfit.)

So, that’s it, all the Doctors? Hardly…

The Movie Doctor – Peter Cushing
Movie Doctor - Peter CushingI’ve got a soft spot for the movies’ Doctor, played by Peter Cushing. Completely different form the versions, which is just as it should be, I like the acting in the movies, I like the stars, and I like the comedy relief with both Roy Castle and Bernard Cribbins, the latter reasonably more so than the former. (And yes, I love that they got Cribbins into Tennant’s run, as – admittedly sadly – another character.) But there’s little to dislike about the movies. So I don’t dislike them.

Ther have been various attempts to put the movies – and the Cushing Doctor -into continuity, without breaking the tv continuity, and it’s always been done thourgh love for, and enjoyment of, the movies. Steven Moffat put him into one of the recent novelisations, suggesting that the movies were of the Doctor’s adventures and the Doctor even lent him his coat. Tony Lee went another direction, suggesting he was a separate character inspired by the Doctor. Both work for me.

The other Doctors

The Curse of Fatal Death
Curse of Fatal DeathI put the video into Saturday’s Smile and there’s nothing to say about it other than it’s enormous fun and I recommend rewatching on a regular basis just for twenty minutes of quiet enjoyment. As with the movies, I don’t care that they’re ‘out of continuity’; they’re fun.

And Jonathan Price is a superb Master, just superb. Add in the sheer fun everyone’s having playing their roles, the in-jokes for the fans of the show, the delightfully nonsensical playing with time travel, it’s a joy from start to finish.

Scream Of the Shalka – Richard E Grant
Shalka Doctor - Richard E GrantNever got around to watching it, I’m afraid, not in full. But the parts I saw? I didn’t enjoy them at all. Which is probably why I’ve never made an effort to see the rest of it. I kind of liked the idea and the design of the Doctor, but everything else? No. Sorry. The dialogue – again, that I heard, anyway – was hokey, the designs other than the Doctor weren’t to my taste and the.. just the whole thing, No.

Just… no.

So, moving on.

Unbound
Third Dictor, Unboiund - David WarnerFrom 2003 to 2008, Big Finish made a series of Doctor Who Unbound, in which they reasonable asked What If…? And had some fun with changing some continuity. They were all pretty good, but David Warner as an alternative Third Doctor was fat out fantastic, and Michael Jayston as The Valayard (again) was just wonderful. I recommend them without hesitation.

Anyway, to reward you for making it through it all today, here are two videos.

To start with, a new way for the TARDIS to dematerialise and materialise… I love this concept…

And the opening sequences to Doctor Who through the years.

Anyway, something else, finally, tomorrow.

(Previously: part 1; part 2; part 3.)

OK, so a couple of weeks after Christopher Eccleston landed the role of the Ninth Doctor, it was revealed – by exactly who and for what reasons remain a matter of controversy – that he was only doing one season of the show, and would regenerate in the final episode. I didn’t have as big a problem with this as many. Eccleston did what he needed to in the role, re-introduced the character to the audience, introduced the Doctor to a new audience, and supplied a hell of a lot of the series mythos to both of them. I would have preferred to see more stories with this oh-so-damaged Doctor, but it was Eccleston’s call to do only one set of stories, effectively an origin story for the Doctor, and I’m ok with the actor leaving at a time of his choosing.

The Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
Tenth Doctor - David TennantI’m not sure I was that aware of Tennant before he landed the role. Oh, I’m pretty sure I’d seen him here and there, but my usual attitude of ‘well, let’s see him in the role first’ applied. And my heavens did he land it. His first appearance in the closing seconds of the final episode of Eccleston’s run made an instant impression, a very different impression to Eccleston. The ‘new teeth, weird’ line was beautifully written and cleverly delivered.

And, smartly, BBC chose to do a special five minute insert into Children In Need that year showing what happened immediately after the regeneration. But – to be brutally honest – it was entirely unneccessary bit; the Christmas Special showed what was necessary. This was an entirely different Doctor, and oh boy, was he – and the writer – eager to show it. Once they’d been through the ‘he needs to sleep for a bit’ and he was back, with a great entrance, they showed him charming, silly… and utterly ruthless.

Have to say, I really wish they’d have explored more of that, the utterly ruthless bit, because they really, really didn’t.

Tennant is for many their equivalent of the generation after me’s Tom Baker. The Doctor, the best there’s ever been, the best there ever will be. And I’m the exception because I really dont think he was. Great stories, fantastic effects, and some great personal interactions, some great dialogue.

But Russell T Davies really, really wanted him to be ‘sexy’, and to be fair, for a lot of the audience he was, but the very deliberate sub-plot that ran through Tennant’s run of

Rose – hopelessly in love with him, and he starts to fall for her

Martha – in love with him, and he is entirely oblivious

Then Rose comes back and she loves him and he loves her and then whoopee, there’s another Doctor so he and Rose can live happily ever after…

No. Just… no.

Once you remove the love story, and remember he’s almost a thousand years old, there were some genuinely great stories in Tennant’s run. Very clever sf concepts explored, the return of genuine absurdity to the show, which was arguably needed, and his almost patronising air of ‘the human race are very talented pets, and you sometimes need looking after’ which the Doctor always needs to remind the audience that he’s, y’know, an alien.

And we got loads of new aliens, and new civilisations, new cultures. That was nice. And we had the return of The Master, genius casting with both Derek Jacobi and especially John Simm.

And Steven Moffat had two superb stories playing with the idea of the Doctor being a time traveller so meeting people in the wrong order. In Blink, adapted from a prose story he wrote for The Doctor Who Annual, we meet Sally Sparrow (an episode-stealing performance by Carey Mulligan), and then he introduced River Song in a glorious story that finally did what I’d been wondering for years: if he’s a time traveller, sooner or later he’s going to meet someone who knows his later regenerations, and someone who knows stuff about the Doctor that he doesn’t know.

And then they sucker punched the audience with The Next Doctor, by asking ‘ok, we’ve seen the Doctor meet his past selves before, what happens when he meets his future self…?’ Beautifully done. Clever episode, smartly done.

So, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Tennant’s run enormously, but it was just another run in the show, not The Way It Must Or Even Should Be Always Done.

After five years, Tennant decided to leave the role. It was probably the right decision and the writing on the final few shows, including the return of the Time Lords, returned the character to Big Stories. There were problems with the final story itself, plot holes you could drive a flock of TARDISes through, and John Simm’s final – for the moment – appearance wasn’t that great, to be honest.

(Unlike many, I really didn’t object to the final 20 minutes, when the Doctor went on a ‘tour’ to see what his companions were up to. I kind of liked it, to be honest. I wanted to see what they were up to, as well.)

I didn’t even mind the ‘I don’t want to go’ line as he regenerated. Seemed perfectly in keeping with the character, and a reminder to the audience both that each regeneration matters, but so does the next one.

So, anyway, he left…

The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
Eleventh Doctor - Matt SmithWhen they announced Matt Smith as the new Doctor, the almost universal reaction was ‘Who?’

I mean, that was my reaction as well, kind of. I only knew two Matt Smiths. One was an editor of 2000AD and I was pretty sure it wasn’t him. The other was a young actor who was superb in the tv drama Political Animals about lobbying in UK politics.

And surely it wasn’t him? I mean, he was so young and… oh… I see.

The moment I realised it was him, I got very interested in the idea of this very old time travelling alien in this very young-appearing body. I wondered how far they’d take that. As it turned out, not as far as I’d have liked, but yeah, they played with it a bit.

And they fairly quickly turned the ‘companion fancies the Doctor’ on its head by making Amy (and then Rory) a couple, the first time there’d been a couple on board as companions since… maybe Patrick Troughton’s era (the second) Doctor? (Yes, they had Mickey Smith on board with Tennant, at the same time as Rose, but Rose and Mickey weren’t a couple by then.)

I liked the new dynamic, a lot. I liked Amy as a character and I liked Rory as a character, and especially that we were finally back to the Doctor liked these people and regarded it as his responsibility to keep them safe… well, not as safe as possible, but at least to bring them home alive.

I even liked the while River Song storyline, and the ‘mystery’ and the resolution.

I think there were a couple of episodes in the Doctor/Amy/Rory run I didn’t like, but that was about it. It was back to must-watch tv for me, with clever plots, an engaging character, and smart, sensible companions who got completely out of their depth on a regular basis.

And then there was Clara. And we went straight back to the ‘I’m not saying he’s my fella, but he’s my fella’ stuff.

Yeah, wasn’t impressed by that at all. And though there were some fun episodes, I started to wonder…

But the 50th Anniversary was coming up. And all sorts of rumours started doing the rounds. A multi-Doctor story? a multi-Master story? Getting all the NuWho Doctors back? Including Chris Eccleston? A Doctor we’d never seen before? Maybe the return of a classic Doctor, or a classic villain?

What we got was first The Name of The Doctor, then The Night of the Doctor (referenced the other day), and The Time of the Doctor. And inbetween Night and Time, we got The Day of the Doctor, a multi-Doctor episode bringing back Tennant’s Doctor, UNIT, the Zygons, the Great Time Warand a new Doctor we’d not seen beforethe War Doctor, the Doctor who’d fought in The Great Time War. We saw the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration, and why it happened, who came out the other end, and why.

And they got John Hurt to play the role. Fuck me, that was brilliant casting.

As a 50th Anniversary celebration and a gift for the fans of the show, it couldn’t have been better, or done better… Clever, funny, smart, serious.

Three more points to make about Smith’s tenure:

  1. The first story was the best ‘first story of a doctor’ I’ve seen thus far. Clever, great dialogue, great baddie, fantastic introduction to the ‘new’ Doctor, and a decent introduction to the new companion(s). And had the best ‘new clothes, I’m the Doctor’ bit as well.

  2. There’s one episode that’s extra special to me for all sorts of reasons, and I’ll probably mention that one tomorrow…

  3. The ‘regeneration into Capaldi’ sequence was, I have to acknowledge, pretty ropey. Good speech, but that was pretty much the only good bit about it.

The War Doctor – John Hurt
War Doctor - John HurtOf course the War Doctor has now appeared in several books, several comic books, some audio productions… but with the exception of the comics, I haven’t seen any. I kind of want to read the books, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

I liked the character as he was shown in the 50th anniversary special, a story of redemption and of yearning. I’ve not much else to say other than I loved Hurt in the role. Not a line wasted, nor a glance.

You could, for the first time, understand. Just why Eccleston’s portrayal was so haunted, and why the survivor’s guilt, and arguably the death wish, was so bloody strong.

Yeah, I really should read the books, now.

The Twelfth Doctor – Peter Capaldi
OK, so when they announced Peter Capaldi would be taking over from Matt Smith, I didn’t know what the hell to think. I was very grateful for once that my usual ‘ok, I’ll wait to see how he is in the role’ applied, because although I was very aware of his skill as an actor, I certainly wasn’t that familiar that I knew what sort of Doctor he’d be.

And even after the first couple fo episodes, I still didn’t. And I’ll say why tomorrow.

Part 5 tomorrow.

Figured, given the various times people read this blog, and the various time zones they’re in, it was only fair to give people a multiple-choice option.

Nothing at all to do with the specific subject matter of this Saturday Smile and that it’s a wince inducing reference to Doctor Who or anything…

Long before I started the countdown blogs, every so often, on a Saturday, I’d put up some YouTube videos or some single panel editorial cartoons, or even some ‘funny newspaper headlines’… some silliness, anyway.

Silliness, even in the roughest of times, the worst of days, is never unimportant. Indeed, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity.

But yeah, if you’ve paid attention, you’ll have seen that I’m in the middle of doing a run of posts on Doctor Who, so I thought, what would be more fitting than to include – as part of the Saturday Smile that falls within the middle – some Doctor Who related silliness? Especially since Doctor Who is and should always be on Saturday evening.

So here’s some Doctor Who related silliness.

 
 
When Doctor Who returned in 2005, after a nineteen year absence from the television screens, other than the movie, Mitch Benn was ready. So, so ready, in fact that he had a warning for friends and family…

 
 
 
 
Now, lets be fair, I doubt there’s anyone who’s both a) reading this, and b) hasn’t ever seen this before, but this is always worth a rewatch: Comic Relief does Doctor Who

 
 
And since I repeated the previous one, I’m going to repeat this as well… this glorious piece of wonder is beautifully executed: Celebrating 50 Years of American Doctor Who

 
 
erm… There are no words.

 
 
So, Moving Right Along

 
 
Oh, It’s Bigger On The Inside

 
 
To finish off, Mitch Benn, once wrote a song entitled Be My Doctor Who Girl

 
 
But of course, he updated it for 2018:

 
 
See you tomorrow, with more proper (?) Doctor Who stuff.