Sunday, 29 November 2009

These dreams...

These dreams, go on when I close my eyes.
Every second of the night,
I live another life.

These dreams, that sleep when it's cold outside.
Every moment I'm awake,
The further I'm away.

Remember THAT one folks? I can't help but refer back to Heart's fabulously cheesy ballad, cos last night I had a very bizarre dream. Or more like nightmare.

I dreamt I was on a passenger train with a friend. I was looking out of the window and we were going past fields. In the fields stood a large number of stone monoliths of different designs. Some were cross shaped like Christ's crucifix. Others resembled the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some were like the stones from The Stones of Blood. Whatever their shape, they were all tall, imposing and sinister-looking and I remember experiencing a feeling of real dread when I looked at them.

The next thing I knew, the stones were all standing inside the passenger carriage. Lining the aisle; surrounding the seats; up close and very personal (well, as personal as something made out of stone can be). The closeness of their proximity was totally unnerving and I knew they were coming to get me and my friend. I told him to close his eyes and I did the same. I told him to pray with all his might - together we would will the stones to go away but we really had to concentrate hard to achieve this. After a few seconds I opened my eyes (in the dream that is) and to my relief, all of the stones had vanished. Then I woke up for real.

Ugggh!! As you might imagine, I didn't really like that dream very much. Perhaps it was brought on by re-watching Blink last week. Or of course, like so many dreams/nightmares, it probably had some deeper, more profound significance. I'm still trying to work out what.

What have been some of your most scary or significant dreams?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Another question from the Cheeser

Q: Why are these two still active contestants on "X Factor", whilst other (arguably much more talented) artists have fallen by the wayside?

A: Because the nation loves a tacky novelty act who can put on a variety of silly (but entertaining) styles and performances e.g. Ghosbusters, Wham. The fact that John and Edward (very traditional English names) can't sing for toffee is a mere footnote to their camp brilliance. *

And what's your response, my lovely jubblies??

* Actually that's only the partial truth. "Camp brilliance" is a rather charitable comment to make, I feel...

Question from the Cheeser

Q: Could John Barrowman have come up with anything less cliched, stereotypical and obvious by way of a title for his new autobiography???

A: No.

What do you lot reckon??

Saturday, 21 November 2009

"The Chock-Loads of Bras"....

....rhymes with "The Waters of Mars". But thankfully the producers went for the latter, rather than former, story title for the recently broadcast Dr Who special. Actually I'm not so sure the former would be so bad. They could always write a story in which the Dr is revisited by all his ex female assistants, all wearing bikinis and/or underwear - Tegan Jovanka in matching mauve bra and knickers (to compliment her air stewardess outfit of course); Jo Grant in flowery/hippy 1970s bra and panties; Victoria Waterfield in a lacy Victorian corset and pantaloons and Peri Brown in ... a bikini, which was pretty much what she really wore during the whole of her Dr Who tenure anyhow .... It would work, wouldn't it?

Maybe I'm going off on a slight tangent here.

The real point of this post is to offer my ruminations on the aforementioned DW Special "The Waters of Mars", shown last weekend. I watched it on the day of broadcast and again last night, accompanied by a few glasses of the old vino, on BBC iPlayer. First time round I thought it was good but not great, however the second time viewing convinced me that it was, in fact, VERY good indeed (and it wasn't just the wine that converted me).

Much, much, better than the somewhat corny "Planet of The Dead" (London bus gets transported to alien planet with Zoe Slater in a leather catsuit) or pedestrian, obvious kiddie-pleaser "The Next Doctor" (Cybermen, David Morrisey and Dervla Kirwan in Victorian-set tale). I was starting to get worried. A downward trend seemed to have occurred in the Wonderful World of Who.

However, "The Waters of Mars" was worlds apart in terms of story writing, style and overall quality. Unlike the previous DW specials, this one felt much more adult, whilst still possessing enough qualities to appeal to the younger viewers. AND it was proper sci-fi with a futuristic space base, just like Moonbase Alpha.

First off, the story, whilst not mind-blowingly complex, was still an interesting one. A group of pioneering humans have set up the first ever manned base on the solar system world of Mars, but then fall prey, one by one, to a nasty virus contained within the planet's water. The transformation of the humans into raving, craggy-faced loony monsters was not only a masterpiece of make-up, they also looked genuinely scary....and the spitting out water bits (or should I say spitting out waterfalls) has never made something so innocuous as H2O look so horrid. Not to mention deadly (one drop, like the one that fell on Roman, was all it took to cause a fatal transformation).

Once the Dr and the Mars crew had clocked that Mars wasn't the best place to hang out, the story did kind of reduce into a "let's all get off the planet before we die" type situation, reminiscent of "Alien" or any 1970s disaster movie. However there was still room for plenty of decent character interaction and dramatic moments. In terms of performances, Lindsay Duncan put in a sterling showing as Captain Adelaide Brooke and made for the best "companion" in a long time (well she wasn't really a companion was she?) Lindsay D brought a brittle realism to the role and unlike the previously stereotypical, upper class Lady Whats-her-face of "Planet of the Dead" and the black girl who didn't do very much at all in "The Next Doctor", Adelaide seemed much more credible and real; a hardened-by-experience commander on an alien world. (Much better than Cindy-in-space Michelle Collins in "42", too). The back story bit when Adelaide describes seeing the Dalek through her bedroom window, which then flies off was cool ... and as the Dr astutely mentions later on, the sparing of her life could have meant that the Dalek foresaw that she was doomed to die later on in life.

The revelation that Adelaide and the rest of her team were all going to die gave added weight to the drama, not to mention Adelaide's conviction that she had to accept her fate - for me, this was where things fell down a little though. Would she really have been so ready to accept the word of a total stranger that 21st November 2059 was the day she was going to die? What evidence did she have to go on, apart from the word of the Doc? This flaw aside, Linday D and David T sparked off one another very well and the penultimate scene in the snow back on Earth made for difficult, disturbing viewing: "The Time Lord Victorious is wrong!". More on that in a bit.

David Tennant gave, what was for me, one of his best ever performances. By turns humorous, witty, concerned, deciding to let history run its course, then realising that he couldn't after all, hell-bent on saving the remaining homo sapppy-ones, foolishly arrogant and finally remorseful and regretful, the Dr ran the whole gamut of emotions in this story. I might not be one of DT's biggest fans but he can do drama very well when he wants to. The scenes in the second half of the story when the Mars team were running around trying to escape from the base/planet, whilst the Dr stood outside in his spacesuit, listening to their frantic dialogue were very well done, mainly due to some great facial acting from DT looking haunted and troubled, constrained by his own inertia. And then the scene back on Earth with Adelaide, in which he starts to brag about how he could do anything, whilst having to deal with her scorn - followed by shock, disbelief and belief when Adelaide shoots herself and he's confronted by the vision of an Ood (reminded me of Banquo's ghost in Macbeth or the ghost of Hamlet's Dad in Hamlet) gave DT the opportunity to play it to the max. It's the eyes that do it - if you watch carefully in the bit when he's mouthing off to Adelaide about being the "Time Lord Victorious", whilst the Doc's words and manner seem to indicate confidence, his eyes say otherwise - there's an uncertainty undercutting all of that bravado. Thinking about it, you can't blame the Dr for snapping and refusing to obey the laws of time yet again. Especially if saving people's lives comes into the equation? But the arrogance that the Doc showed as a result of this was unnerving, and that's what made the whole thing so much more interesting - playing God comes at a price. The very final scene with the Dr in the TARDIS, listening to the sound of the cloister bell, and then defiantly declaring "No!" and setting the controls to take him somewhere else was a great cliffhanger. What will happen next?

Getting back to the rest of the story, the supporting characters were all decent enough, having enough personality without taking over the narrative. Peter "Neighbours" O'Brien was suitably grizzled as Ed Gold and the rest of the team were a (perhaps self-consciously tokenistic?) cross section of people from different races and cultures.

There was some great dialogue on display, another aspect that set "Waters of Mars" above the previous episodes. For instance:

Adelaide: State your name, rank and intention.

The Dr: The Dr. Dr. Fun.

(Think about it).


The Dr: I hate funny robots.

(Well "Gadget" was kind of annoying. Not exactly funny, though).

The episode also boasted some excellent and expansive sets - the base control room and the huge garden contained under the Dome for instance (actually the latter was apparently filmed in the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, so wasn't a set after all). Proper-looking sci-fi. Okay, so the Mars planetscape bits were a bit obviously CGI in places but still quite impressive and panoramic.

And that's about it - as said, the best DW in quite some time.

And we got an intriguing trailer for the Xmas 2-parter at the end!

But guess what? I'm going to be in Brazil when it's broadcast!! So I've just GOT to get someone to record it for me... Any takers, out there, my lovelies??

The Cheeser's Choice: Shakira and Cheryl Cole

Recently I have been mostly listening to....

Shakira. Shakira. Shakira. (Not 3 times ... ) Have just downloaded her "She Wolf" album and actually quite like it. Okay, it's a bit stereotypically Latino and I know that the hip-wiggling one is considered corny in some quarters ... I can see why. To be honest the only real song that's grabbed me thus far is the title track which has a cool retro feel to it, some funky, clipped guitar and a sultry vocal from the Columbian one (ironically though, I don't like the vocal bit on the chorus which makes Mistress Shakira sound like a high-pitched toddler). I can't stop playing this one.

Cheryl Cole's debut album, 3 Words. Again, the Girls-Aloud-X-Factor-bouncer-bashing one has her detractors. One thing I'll concede: she hasn't got a great voice and the likelihood is that it's been put through a machine on the album in order to pass muster. Although I do think the album cover (above) is pretty stunning - Ms C is definitely one attractive lady, even if she sometimes acts like she knows it rather too much. I really like "Fight For This Love" too and the recent performance on X Factor was ace. And the rest of Chezzer's new album is surprisingly good - title track "3 Words" has a subtle, building insistency, "Parachute" an elegant, waltzy feel (even if it is in 4/4 time), "Make Me Cry" is disco-funk, "Stand Up" is the track most akin to Girls Aloud and most of the remaining tracks manage to cut the mustard as well. Decent pop music that rewards more than one listen. Not the BEST pop music in the universe, mind, but still worthy of your attention.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Boozin' and boogying... what I was doing last night, down one of my favourite bars, called Escape (snapshot above). After the week I'd had, a night out was definitely needed. Am feeling slightly fragile today but it was worth it!!

I've been frequenting the place for years, in fact my hubbie was the one to introduce me to Escape, if memory serves correctly. And here's why I like it:

- It's very central, in the centre of buzzy / trendy / gay-mecca Soho - but fortunately, unlike other "swank" establishments in the same district, it doesn't attract too many of the "I'm so cool, rich and trendy I'm up my own a*se" types. The clientele there are pretty laid back and friendly and every time me and Gustavo have been, we've ended up having conversations with complete and utter strangers (who we usually never see again, but it's better than sitting there all night with no one to talk to and adds to the enjoyment - I'm a social butterfly really.)

- It's small and intimate - some people are fond of huge, sprawling night clubs but Escape is basically just one (fairly small-sized) room. Sounds like a nightmare to some and admittedly it does get packed when at total capacity, but I really like the cosiness of the place. In fact the size is probably what creates the friendlier atmosphere.

- They play a fab mix of music, both modern and retro. Sample songs last night included: "She Wolf" - Shakira, "Voulez Vous" - ABBA, "I Gotta Feeling" - David Guetta, "Ma Baker" - Boney M, "Like A Virgin" - Madonna, "Poker Face" - Lady Gaga, "Jump" - Pointer Sisters, etc. Sometimes they show videos which play a camp counterpart to the songs, even though they're something totally different e.g. clips of Alexis and Krystle from Dynasty engaging in catfights. Hilarious!!

- It's a gay bar!! Gay bar!! Gay bar!! Which is obviously a good thing for me and others. However it still attracts a very mixed crowd i.e. quite a lot of straight people, many of whom are women. And why not?? Last night we befriended a trio of ladies from North London who were GREAT fun and FANTASTIC dancers - in an indie, quirky sort of way. I even took one of the girl's numbers and suggested meeting up again (gosh, people WILL talk). I've never been much of a fan of male-only establishments and it can sometimes create a bad atmosphere - very testosterone-charged, macho and unfriendly with chock loads of posey gay men all vying and competing for attention. It sounds like a cliche but I love having women around me, not just gay boys! And if we really are moving towards an equal, diverse and accepting society, all people should be able to frequent the same places I think. Okay, so you get the occasionally homophobic types who want to come and "laugh at the gays", well yeah, they should be barred. But as long as people have the right attitude and beliefs, why shouldn't they be there??

Anyways. I did have a good time and now I shall go and nurse my hangover. (Actually I've got a ton of marking to do, noooooooo!! Fortunately I have Dr Who to look forward to later on, some light at the end of the (time?) tunnel). Hope your respective weekends have been going well, my fruities.

One final question: What's YOUR favourite watering hole? Where is it? What's good about it? (Er, that's more than one question). The Cheeser wants to know! Answers on a comment please....

And you know what? Looking back at the title of this post, I STILL don't know if that's the correct spelling of "boogie" with "ing" at the end. Anyone got any ideas about that one?!

Tatty Bye....

OC xx

It's tonight!!

7pm this evening!!

Can't wait.

Can you?

Friday, 6 November 2009

And just because... (again)

Who knew the Daleks did Benny Hill?? Davros' Angels??!

It's coming back....!!

It's been so bloody long, I've actually forgotten what Dr Who is.

I wasn't that enamoured with "Planet of the Dead" (the last DW Special offering - God, it seems like decades since that one was on) but "The Waters of Mars" is looking a whole lot more promising. And posh bird and classy actress Lindsay Duncan is onboard this time. All sounds good.

Then we've only got to wait until Xmas a for a masterly two-parter and the departure of one David Tennant / arrival of a certain Matt Smith!

ETA for "The Waters of Mars": Sunday 15 November, BBC1. Yaaay!!

All the world's a stage

...And all the men and women merely players...

As Shakespeare once wrote.

Do you not agree, my lovelies?

Talking of which, the other night I went to ... the theatre!! For the first in what seemed like a very long time. Well I did take my A level students to the Globe a few weeks ago which was fun, but that was more educational and we didn't actually see a performance ...

Anyway the play in question was The Comedians by Trevor Griffiths. on at the Lyric in Hammersmith. Great theatre with an alternative style, decently-priced tickets, lovely food in the caff, but awful trying to negotiate a car round Hammersmith (I ended up on the way to Heathrow thanks to the nightmare one-way system). Anyway, that's besides the point. The play, as it turned out was pretty good, starring none other than Matthew Kelly, who certainly proved his acting credentials in this, being miles away from his zany "Game For a Laff" persona of yonder: Reece Sheersmith from "The League of Gentlemen" and former "Comic Strip Presents" star Keith Allen, who I haven't seen in anything for yonks and is now looking considerably older. The plot concerns six trainee stand-up comics due to take to the stage for the first time - assembling in a school classroom after hours and presided over by "coach" Matthew K; in the following act they then all do their "stint" on stage; then there's a post-performance reunion back in the school with the best comedians being offered contracts. It was very well-observed and performed - but contrary to expectations probably brought on by the title, not all about comedy. There's one particular bit I won't say too much about, but which involves the chap in the picture above - his "comic act" is the total reverse, being deeply (and I mean deeply) disturbing, uncomfortable, yet somehow rivetting, viewing. But as the friend who accompanied me to the play commented so accurately, the story shows the price you have to pay if you choose to live by your own standards rather than by those of society - that is to say, it's the two comedians who both perform to the lowest denominator who end up the 'winners' and the other, less "conventional" comics achieve nothing. Sod's law eh?

Anyway I won't say any more, but it's one worth seeing. And I really should be like fellow bloggers Nora and Alan and go the theatre more often. Or maybe just get out more, full stop!