Oh folks, hello folks. Tell me your personal canons. What's 100% true for you that isn't supported by the evidence?
Here are mine:
- Season 6B.
- The Romulans' backstory from the Rihannsu novels.
- Elliot Pope is an unreliable narrator, and The Deadly Assassin didn't happen.
- Sito Jaxa survived the events of Lower Decks. She was either on a super-secret mission that even Picard didn't know about, or she was captured by the Cardassians and released after the war.
- John and Nancy totally got together when they grew up. I hope they survived the war.
- The Daleks deployed the [or a] Time Destructor during the early stages of the Time War, which explains why the Doctor lost fifty years off his stated age somewhere between Sylvester McCoy and David Tennant.
- Edward II wasn't killed at Berkeley Castle. He lived afterwards as a hermit in Europe.
- John Harrison was merely the first of the Augments to be woken from cryofreeze when Admiral Marcus found the Botany Bay. With his genetically engineered intellect, he was smart enough to claim to be Khan.
- Fall Out was another drug-induced hallucination, just like Living In Harmony or A, B, & C. Shattered Visage is personal soft canon.
Those are mine. What are yours?
I was amused to learn, now that it's all over, that Our Eck is a big ol' Star Trek fan, specifically of Wrath of Khan. I wish more had been made of this earlier in the campaign.
Full tax-raising power.
No, sir! You have devo-nano!
FULL POWERS, DAMN YOU!
Liking Eck more and more, now that it's all over. The last few days I've just wanted to give him a hug, because I think he needs one. Then there was his principled refusal of any seat in the Lords, and now I find he has impeccable taste in sci-fi. And he's right: if the promised powers are not delivered, we will chase Cameron 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before we give him up. Personally I'm particularly looking forward to the flames bit. I suspect Dishface is so greasy that he would self-ignite.
Back in the day, when I was a unionist, Star Trek featured heavily in what passed for my reasoning—although I didn't understand this about myself until significantly later, after a good deal of introspection. Obviously, went my thinking, the logical end goal of civilization is the United Federation of Planets, and we get there by heading towards global unity not away. For one thing, I later realized, adopting, as a genuine political model, a fictional utopia created by a somewhat mediocre cop-show screenwriter might be seen as impractical; and for another thing, I was goal-seeking using a naive hill-climbing algorithm. For shame, pajh.
A utopia is also an eutopia, of course, but it's telling that Roddenberry's vision is the one that took root inside my head as the default position to aim for. Naive it may be, but goddamn I wouldn't mind living there. I'm not sure if it's the proto-post-scarcity economy or the implicit communism that attracts me so much. Or the green alien babes. No, it's the skants. Definitely the skants.
I love Star Trek to bits, of course, naive as it may be, but these days my politics are much more in line with Babylon 5. I am prepared if necessary to go as far as Blake's 7, but I hope it won't come to that.
Thinking about this as I type, I should probably make a more detailed inspection of Malcolm Hulke's Doctor Who stories before I fasten my colours to any particular allegory, here.
Obviously I'm deeply disappointed with last Thursday's result, but I've decided we may have been foolish to think we could win against the combined forces of ignorance and cowardice, backed by the full might of the British state. We were not foolish to fight. And we will not be foolish to do it all again in a couple of years, with lessons learned and a new generation of engaged citizens on our side. The future is coming, whether it's got green-skinned babes in it or not. That better world we wanted to create?... independence didn't quite work out, but it's still waiting to be created. We'll do it some other way.
The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
I've been investigatin electropop lately, most of the current batch of which appears to be Canadian for some reason. I have no problem with this. At least it's not Canadian hip-hop. Movin on from the Canadian theme before I get myself into trouble, at this stage I feel I should mention CHVRCHES, who claim that their band name is pronounced
churches, but I know better. They are from Glasgow and they are awesome. Particularly the lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, who is cute and elfin and adorable and basically so much the complete opposite of Shirley Manson that she goes round the back of the spectrum and becomes exactly as amazing. Chvrches spell their name with a V so that you can google for them, which you should do immediately if you've not already done so.
I have this 160GB mp3 player to fill up, and it's an actual mp3 player this time, so I can't cheat by includin the complete Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who and all the seasons of Sherlock I haven't watched yet. It's got to be actual music, and even for me there's only so many versions of the Glorious Ninth I need to carry around with me in my pocket. (A post on which is forthcomin; suffice to say I renounce all former allegiances to Karajan.) Somebody on the Twitters recommended the New Order album Power, Corruption & Lies, which I've not actually listened to. When it was released in 1983, my listenin habits were more or less evenly split between Prokoviev and Pinky & Perky. (I was precocious, but I was also three years old.) That I have not got round to it since then is an omission I knew I must rectify forthwith—but, in my defence, do any of you realize how many different versions there are of the Glorious Ninth?
Listenin then, at last, to Power, Corruption & Lies, three or four tracks reminded me of That Goddamn American Express Advert that I remember seeing once. And then, finally, it arrived in my ears as some part of me knew it would: Blue Monday, the biggest-selling 12" single of all time.
Of course I knew it already. And, because I was cursèd to grow up in the nineties, I knew it already chiefly because of this:
Even back then I was aware that this was possibly the worst advert of all time. I envisioned a cadre of corpulent besuited bastards, cocaine-crazy and caffeinated, masturbatorily manifesting moronic muppetry, thuswise: it's time for an EMERGENCY MARKETING MEETING!
INT. DAY. The MID-NINETIES. Opulent CORPORATE BOARDROOM
(PROPS DEPARTMENT: please make sure there is a RED STAPLER somewhere in shot)
TWAT #ONE is agitatedly pointin a STICK at a FLIPCHART that has some damn GRAPH on it.
Okay, we're the wealthiest and most expensive credit card company on the planet, we own all the money in the world, and each of us has a secondary personal Learjet just so we can ship around the team of flunkies required to wax our primary Learjets, but but we need more. More... flirting?... sorry, that's a whole different advert that hasn't been made yet, with subtler humour than this scene. Anyway. I understand there's an entire new generation of suckers who have money. So: who knows anything about this "youth demographic"?
Well, from what I've read in the newspapers, the Youth Demographic really do like their "music with a repetitive beat".
Excellent. Let's have some of that. Anyone else?
They like... skydiving?
Brilliant. Throw that in there. What else?
I heard that they really like skin-tight black PVC trenchcoats.
Who doesn't? You're fired. Next!
[VO] prolonged nasal SNORTING noise
TWAT #FIVE looks up from the table, takes a moment to orient himself
They like... geishas pulling stupid faces?
Give that man some stock options.
~ FIN ~
I have always said that I hated the bloody Nineties: the decade of Westlife and the Vengaboys and Columbine and backwards jeans and Global Hypercolor and pastels and plaid and the Bosnian genocide and the Doctor Who Movie. But! (Even before you start: that was a preemptive
but.) To be fair to the nineties, we also had Dark Season (so much pastel! and Jacqueline Pearce!) and Knightmare and Animaniacs and Way Out West and Portishead and we had both Ren and Stimpy simultaneously.
I've made my peace with the nineties.
After all, if we're considrin solely the restricted subset of credit card advertizin, then it could be so very, very much worse.
Last week I attended the preview screening of the new Doctor Who episode. In front of a packed theatre at the Filmhouse, The Moff Himself got everyone to promise not to release any spoilers.
After the episode, everyone said
Well, obviously you all see now why we specifically asked you not to give out spoilers, because mumble. I had no clue what they were talking about, sat there with a blank look on my face:
I am now apparently so unspoilered that I can't even be spoilered for spoilers. Thus have I reached levels of fandom previously attained only by Ian Levine.
Of the new episode I shall say only this: you guys are going to love tonight. SO MUCH.
After the episode there was a Q&A session with the Moff. All of the fatter, sweatier types of nerd in the room—of which there were many, and I say this with love—had clearly been researching and honing their question for the last several weeks. Most of the questions involved phrases like
character archetype and
And then there was the eight-year-old girl in the pink top, whose question was:
Do Cybermen go rusty in the rain?
For those of you who are interested, Word of God on this pressing matter is as follows: no they don't, they're plastic. Everything has to be waterproofed; it's Wales. Anyway, no. Oh wait, there was the rusty one in The Pandorica Opens, and I wrote that, I should know better. So, yes.
Go now and be enlightened.
2011 started badly—now I can't even remember what I was complaining about then—and got worse. Eventually I seem to have ended the year in a stronger position than when I started, although I'm not entirely sure how. In 2012 I hope to continue the general upwards trend with rather less of the wading through shit.
The news was interesting, wasn't it? Better men than I have already written screeds about that, so I won't. I've not even got around to watching 2011 Wipe yet.
I've not even got around to watching all of Doctor Who yet. Like I said, it's been a bad year. I plan to fix that in 2012, and to watch the new Sherlock, too. (A review I just read says that the Moriarty-bomb cliffhanger is
resolved in a frankly ridiculous manner—LA! LA! NOT LISTENING! It's going to be awesome.)
A very happy arbitrary rollover to all.
Goddammit. Some bastard told me that the Comic Relief Doctor Who thing this year was a trailer for the new series, so, fearing spoilers, I didn't watch it. Apparently I was lied to. Or maybe I was thinking of the Children in Need thing instead. Damn.
I realise I'm probably the last to the party on this one, but that just makes me cool, like bow ties. Last to the party like the last of the Time Lords, only with less total command of time and space and more Youtube videos.
There. Now Amy has fantastic legs in canon and there's nothing you can do about it. (You know who you are.) And let's note that fantastic legs are established, in canon, not necessarily to be a good thing: in fact, in certain circumstances, can lead to totally-wrong big-emergency universe-goes-bang-in-five-minutes. That's almost philosophical. I've known legs like that in my time.
Doctor Who: addressing the important issues since 1963.
Life is currently an unending, relentless nightmare, but I have
701 Greatest Hits of the 1980s on
.flac and you, dear reader, and the rest of the benighted universe that spawned you can kindly fuck off and leave me to it for an evening.
I'm currently up to B. And this one has Bonnie Tyler.
(I'm amused that I go into a directory marked
701 greatest 1980's music hit Singles and think, ooh, what should I listen to next, so I hit double-tab to bring up autocomplete and the computer asks me if I want it to
Display all 699 possibilities? I'm glad that penelope has my back. BitTorrent, you have failed me for the last time.)
(It has Bonnie, but there's no sign of Video Killed the Radio Star. And they have the wrong Spandau Ballet track, but so does everyone, and one can't have everything.)
Also: The Doctor's Wife. OHMYGOD YES.
I suddenly find myself unable to continue ignoring the royal wedding. It's got Daleks in it.
A royal wedding street party with a difference will see a Dalek serve up trays of drinks and snacks to guests on Friday - presumably with cries of 'Extermi-Cake'.
WOULD YOU CARE FOR A PLAS-TIC CUP OF LUKE-WARM CHE-RRY-ADE. Although, the more I think about it, the more this starts to make sense. What better way to celebrate a great British institution than with a terrifying symbol of imperialistic aggression? Particularly, one that some bloke from the Home Counties has spent a week painting red, white and blue?
I am no stranger to those odd periods of mass hysteria that we're all subjected to on occasion. When Diana died I bought Candle in the Wind twice. I saw Titanic three times in the cinema (and each time, because it is a four-hour-long behemoth, I had to go to the loo just before Kate Winslet gets nekkid.) We're all allowed to get emotional beyond the bounds of reason now and then, especially if we blog self-deprecatingly about it years later. But this one just seems supremely pointless. Two people I don't care about are performing a ceremony I don't care about. I'm not invited. I don't get any of the cake. I am unsure what, as a nation, we all gain by waving flags to solemnize the fact that, according to a book most of us haven't read, two young people are now permitted to fuck.
I shall be at work tomorrow. Although I might take the opportunity to have an excuse to rewatch The Princess Bride.
A post about the new Doctor Who is coming, I promise. In the meantime I'd like to talk about some old Doctor Who. And the Beach Boys. And the Archbishop of Canterbury. But mostly I'll be focusing on Doctor Who. All will become clear. I hope.
Some time ago a good friend left me a copy of some music by a band known as The Pixies, a Boston-based alt-rock ensemble, to which I've only just now got around to listening. They sound like this. They produced this in the distant past year 1990:
Listen ye and be amazed. (It's quite good.) Specif, listen and note ye how similar it is to this, of which it is a direct cover version:
( In which there are further embedded media )
Bear with me and try, if you can, to ignore the brass line from All the Strange, Strange Creatures. The bassline is identical. I only noticed when Murray provided a version without the brass line in it during the first episode of Season 5. It's right after Eleven tells Patrick Moore to pay attention, when Rory and Amy are driving the Mini to the Hospital (00:40:15). I once wrote fanmail to Murray Gold and asked him if this was an unconscious ripoff or a deliberate homage. I'm beginning to realise why he never replied.
I understand that there are eight notes and that, as a result, there are a finite number of permutations to which one can subject those eight notes. But I must be forgiven if I am occasionally suspicious.
While we're on the subject of cultural homages—because I'm sure that's what these are—let's just observe that Paradise Towers was a total ripoff of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise. I'm not judging. I'm just saying.
Apparently this weekend was the anniversary of some fictional (and highly unlikely) thing that didn't happen to a bloke who probably never existed, involving a story during which he was crucified and then entombed in a chocolate egg from which he escaped on the third day, or something. Apparently on these occasions the Archbishop of Canterbury is obliged to give a speech of some kind. Apparently, according to what I can tell from BBC news (about 01:07 in), the Archbish makes reference to popular culture.
It's probably unseemly to involuntarily shout
woo! from the congregation while the Archbish is giving his address. So it's probably a good thing that I was only watching the BBC stream. Nonetheless it's good to know that the cultural information flow goes both ways.
Frankly, we've always known that Rowan Williams was a leftie Who-fancying nerd. His problem is that, as chief spokesperson for a monolithic, regressive, medieval, omnipervasive, misogynistic, homophobic, repressive, anachronistic, capricious, conservative, disingenuous, perfidious organization, he's never been allowed to say so.
Since at least the 1970s, the Doctor has been swanning out of police boxen and teaching people that they were actually lefties all along. It's good to know that he's managed it with the Archbish. of Cantab. as well. As always: the Doctor shows the way.
This weekend I'm off to see Brand New Yes, Prime Minister at the King's Theatre. Nigel Hawthorne being sadly unavailable, Sir Humphrey is being played by Simon Williams. As you all know, Simon Williams played Group Captain ‘Chunky’ Gilmore (although why his men call him Chunky I don't know) in Remembrance of the Daleks. So, in preparation, tonight has been Remembrance-fest here at Apocalypse Laboratories. I can confirm that Simon Williams is likely to be a bloody brilliant Sir Humphrey. I'll let you know for certain after Saturday.
Remembrance was also the last of Michael Sheard's six appearances on Doctor Who. By this point he'd been in basically everything that's ever been filmed. Brilliant actor and, so I gather, a thoroughly decent bloke.
You all remember the creepy girl who, it turns out, was operating the Renegade Dalek Faction battle computer all along:
She's the one on the right.
There's something we've been missing here, and it's more important than Dalek invasion fleets imperilling 1960s London. Witness:
Dalek Battle Computer
The conspiracy goes deeper. Clearly, when the Black Stig fell off that aircraft carrier and was replaced, the new Stig came from the Imperial Dalek Faction. The colours tell you everything you need to know.
It turns out that the Beeb already had this idea. They tried to warn us.
I'd review Remembrance properly but, basically: Ace beats a Dalek to death with a superpowered baseball bat. What else is there to say?
Welp, 2011 is two weeks old now, and thus far I am significantly less than impressed. I'm putting you on notice, 2011. You've got fifty more weeks to pull your socks up or else... or else.
That said, this morning was rather fun. I attended an accent workshop at the Lyceum Theatre, based on their current production of A View From The Bridge. I saw A View From The Bridge once, many years ago, while I was still in school. I was far too naive to pick up on any of the subtext and recall very little except people shouting
I took the sheets offa my bed for you over and over again. Fifteen years on, having actually had opportunity to look at a couple of pages of the script, what strikes me is Miller's stunning ability to use voice to draw his characters. In paragraph two on page one, Alfieri says that he's an Italian-American immigrant, Brooklynite, came from Sicily aged 25 and educated at law school. By the time he tells you all that, you already know, just based on the way he uses language. It leaps off the page at you.
Miller is a fucking genius. I'd give both nuts to write like that. And he married Marilyn Monroe, too. Bastard.
Accents: the first thing you do with an accent is work out where it comes from in the mouth. The Scots accent is quite far back in the throat. Mississippi-type
ah do declay-uh voices are very high up in the roof of the mouth; Liverpudlian likewise. The Brooklyn accent is so far forward that it's dripping off the front of your bottom lip like leaden drool. I nearly dislocated my jaw getting it right.
I neeyuhly dislowcaded my jawuh is a fun phrase to say in Brooklynese. Saying it just now, I nearly dislocated it again. I've invented physical onomatopoeia and, with it, an excellent name for a rock band.)
I was doing fine until about halfway through the session, when the bloody dire Daleks Take Manhattan jumped into my head and wouldn't leave. The whiny nasal showgirl woman kept repeating
Laslow on a loop in my mind. To compensate I dropped the pitch of my voice, so my own version of Brooklynese sounds like a more thuggish version of Mistuh Diagoras.
Two hours work, and now I can say
cawffee correctly. And I have an urge to watch Goodfellas tonight.
Apparently they're remaking The Day of the Triffids. I loved the book: I remember reading it on my way home from school. That wouldn't be a particularly interesting story, but I cycled.
The franchise is rather beloved across the pond, witters patronizing Yank David Ehrlich,
and maybe the closest thing the British have to a genuinely iconic monster. I'm not so sure about that. We've got Daleks and Cybermen. We've got Sontarans, Haemovores, Silurians, Sea Devils, Rutans, Terileptils, and the Nestene Consciousness. I could go on for some time in this vein, from Autons to Zygons, so perhaps I should move on.
The British need a mobile nettle as their
iconic monster? We've got Mr Hyde. We've got freaking Dracula. (Okay, Bram Stoker was Irish. It's close.) And we gave the world Margaret Thatcher. We're doing pretty well for monsters.
The 1962 movie took huge liberties with the book and is notable only for having Janette Scott in it, whom, it should be noted, I really got hot when I saw. Based on the trailer, though, it seems that all she gets to do is swoon over Howard Keel. I think I can safely give that a miss.
I'm off to watch the 1981 BBC adaptation again. There are two seconds of sub-par special effects and one bad hairstyle, but apart from that, it's pretty much perfect.