Sunday, 19 September 2010

Accelerating towards Adulthood

So I'm nearly 30.

Yes, that's right dear reader, I know that this information is shocking to you, but I am nearly 30 - the age when I'm supposed to be grown up, and sensible, and stuff.


But seriously, whilst having a conversation with the lady in my life the other day, after I'd made several self deprecating age-related jokes, she asked me the following:

"Are you really worried about turning thirty?"

My answer? "No."

Which is true. I mean, the fact that I am heading into the strange world of middle-age (although according to Wikipedia, I'm either five or ten years away from that yet, but I digress) does make me think about my life, what I've achieved, where I am, where I'm going. But do you know what? I'm happy with it.

But since it is a time for self-reflection and consideration, I'm going to try (the important word here being "try") to write a few blogs about this oncoming milestone.

I've never been one of those people who made a list of "things to do before I'm 30", and, although I certainly had ideas for what I wanted to achieve in the next ten years when I turned 20, these things change. However, people who publish these lists seem to assume that everyone wants to do, or should have done, the things they suggest. As such, they're all pretty vague. So, in the nature of well-balanced journalism and not, you know, just picking something to randomly ridicule (honest), I've discovered that Hallmark is not just a company who produces crap cards and a crap TV channel, but also this crap list as well. Shall we see what I've accomplished, and what I need to do in the next month and a bit?

Attempt to Moonwalk across the dancefloor in a crowded nightclub

I'm not a big fan of nightclubs. Or crowds. So no. I've tried to do it drunkenly in a kitchen if that counts... (it did not go well..)

Dance all night and get home when it's light!

Replace 'Dance' with 'Drink' and I've done it. Many times.

Realise that you still don't know what you want to do when you grow up

Yeah. This is true. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. But I don't care much about rushing the discovery of it either.

Audition for a reality show, regardless of your ability or reputation

Sadly, I have done this. I sent in an audition tape for Big Brother 2. Sad times. In my defence, I was drunk at the time...

Purchase a ridiculously expensive and totally 'unpractical' pair of shoes - Just because!

Is this list for women? I don't tend to purchase shoes that are either expensive or unpractical. I just have three pairs of shoes. Boots, posh shoes, trainers.

Go to work in your 'night before' clothes at least once

Done it. Many times.

Realise finally that you'll always feel like a 5 year old inside - no-one ever grows up!

I'm not a 5 year old inside. I'm at least 13....

Blag your way into the VIP area!

Define blag.... I've been in many, but traditionally whilst working....

Spend a night in a haunted house, with friends and torches

OK, this is impossible, because ghosts don't exist. So I can't go to a haunted house in the first place. Damn you Hallmark, making up even more crap.

Recreate a scene from a famous film!

I've done this. More than once I'm sure.

Do something your Mum says you'll regret - then not regret it

I've lost count of the number of times I've done this...

Make a spontaneous purchase, something indulgent, expensive and gorgeous for yourself no worries.

Yup. But that could be to do with the fact I'm not great with money.

Invent a 7 day weekend! With continuous Friday Feeling

I'm sorry, this I don't understand. How can I invent a 7 day weekend? Does it mean just spend a week living like every day is a weekend? Well I've done that, it's called a holiday... dumbasses.

Drink a Manhattan cocktail in Manhattan!

Not happened. Not likely to either.

Take part in a midnight marathon

Yes, because if I'm going to run 26 miles at my current fitness level, the best time to do it is in the dark so I can't see where I'm going....

Have the guts to start my own business

I've had the guts many times. The money? That's a different story...

Sing your heart out in a different language. Very liberating!

Done it many times. Prefer singing in English though.

Learn to Salsa!

Have you SEEN me dance?

Zorbing down a steep hill! So much fun...if you’re not sick!

Love to do it. It's expensive though...

Find the perfect little black dress!

OK, nowhere in this list does it say it's for women. Does that mean men are looking for the perfect little black dress as well? Was there a memo no-one gave me?

Sleep under the stars

Why? It's cramped... oh that says STARS. My bad. Yeah, I agree with this, do it. It's peaceful. And fun.

See in the New Year in a foreign city

Why? I like to see in the New Year with people I know and like. I can't afford to take all of them to a foreign city too! I saw the New Year in in Southampton this year, does that count?

Resist everything except temptation

What the FUCK does this even mean??

Wave your Union Jack at the last night of the Proms!

Done it. Well, waved it at the TV anyway

Set a Guinness World Record

I tried to do this once, and set the world record for eating bananas. I failed.

Learning to sing just one karaoke song...well!

I can sing many karaoke songs :) Whether I do them well, that's a question for the audience surely?

Get your kicks on Route 66!

Why would a road give me kicks?

Do the Conga!

Yes, I have been drunk at a party before. Ergo this has been done.

Find something you are really good at and make your mark on the world!

Yeah OK, way to ramp up the expectations here. All the other things have been fairly easy to do, but this? Define 'really good'? Define 'make your mark'? Are you telling me that if by thirty I haven't written a famous symphony, or had a hit single, or cured cancer, or been awarded a nobel prize, then I should give up? Fuck you Hallmark.

Do one thing that actually terrifies you!

Done that. A lot. I don't recommend it. Don't believe the psychiatrists. 90% of the time, if you do something you're terrified of, it'll just make you more terrified!

So to be clear, I've done about half of those. So am I about to rush out and buy a little black dress, some impractical shoes, discover a 7 day weekend, set a World Record and then Moonwalk across a crowded dancefloor?

Surprisingly, no, I'm not.

Alright then Mr Sarcastic Bastard, I hear you all shout, so what advice do you give? What would you say that people should do before they're thirty?

My answer? Whatever makes you happy. Simple. I mean if you look at my list of things I'm proud that I've done in the last nearly-thirty years, there's a wide variety of stuff. Yes there's my creative side, I've written plays, pantomimes, musicals, stories, songs, films and even a novel, and performed on stage as everything from a plant to a woman, but there's the other things too. I've seen my big sister get married, gained some of the best friends a guy could have, and, most notably (and recently), I've moved in with the most gorgeous girl I've ever known.

Middle age? Pah. I'm not even half-way through (hopefully - barring accidents). Bring it on.

POSTSCRIPT - If you want to support Brawny's creative side, then go and see Maverick's production of "The Cursed Treasure of Barbarous Bill" - his latest play, performed with two other one-act plays in St Clement's Hall, Parkstone on 28th-30th October 2010.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Driving me Crazy...

So, after my points I made in my previous blog as far as reasons why I wouldn't be writing blogs more often, I find myself procrastinating with a blog entry. Oh well, such is life.

So, the other day at work, I was browsing the Daily Echo (as it's sold in the canteen, and therefore it's the closest thing to read) and I noticed another in a long line of stories regarding speed cameras and how good/bad they were. There's been a few of them recently, whether it be the announcement that the Wessex Way 40mph limit is continuing, the justification for said announcement after outcry from the common man, the discovery of how much money the Holes Bay camera made in a year, and the question over whether they'll all be shut down.

But I'm not commenting on these as specific stories. Yes, I drive down the Wessex Way to work every day, and yes I wish the speed limit was back to 50 along there (and those of you who read this who are not from Poole/Bournemouth, I'm sorry, you won't have a clue what I'm on about!) but the biggest issue is that it's extremely hard to argue for a raised speed limit.

Because if you argue for a raised speed limit, then you are effectively arguing that it doesn't matter if more people die. Because it can be proved that speed kills. So therefore it's an impossible situation to be in, as shown with the following mathematical equation.

Desire for Higher Speed Limits = CHILD MURDERER!

But do you know what? I don't think that's always true. Let's take the Wessex Way as an example for a moment (and for those of you who don't know it, it's a long, mostly straight dual carriageway, which used to be 50mph all the way along, and now one section of it is 40mph). It's got some short slip roads leading onto it, and therefore I don't think it should be over 50, but other than that there's no pedestrians and therefore I don't see the reasoning for the 40mph limit.

Currently the justification (as listed in one of the articles I linked earlier) states that "between 2004 and 2008, there were an average of 2.4 accidents and 3.3 casualties a month. But between February and May this year, this reduced to an average of 1.5 accidents and 2 casualties – a drop of 37.5 per cent and 39.4 per cent respectively. "

Yes, that looks like an awful lot in the percentage statistics, but in real life that's a drop of 0.9 accidents per month. That's less than one. And that's ignoring the most important issue here, which is that you cannot compare an average gained over four years (which includes time before the alterations were made to the laning etc near the Frizzel end) to an average gained over 3 months. One wonders why they didn't compare a specific February to May section of their statistics to the ones they have gathered. And I suspect that it's because they would have shown bugger all difference.

But enough of that, I know what you're all after. So here it is. Brawny's sarcastic-yet-vaguely-sensible suggestions for how to overhaul our roads.

1) Increase the national speed limit.
Increase it to 100mph. The national limit of 70mph was established in 1965. There weren't many road cars that could drive faster than that in 1965! Everyone speeds on Motorways anyway - and while I don't know the statistics for them (mainly because I can't find them) I wouldn't imagine the fatality rates for driving at 100mph in modern vehicles are much worse than driving at 70.

2) Motorcycle lanes.
I would say this, because I'm a motorcyclist. But it'd be really handy.

3) Strict limits in built up/urban areas.
As much as it pains me to say it (and I hate driving at 20mph as much as the next motorist) but built up and urban areas are higher risk when it comes to driving, due to those irritating-but-not-going-anywhere-soon pedestrians. So keep strict limits. Cameras by schools etc is fine, and indeed I can see as a very good idea.

4) Have a long look at all roads to evaluate speed limits.
This is where all the Wessex Way moaning from earlier fits in. Just look at roads with a sensible eye to gauge the speed it should be. And don't let panicking over-reactionaries make you slow it down.

5) Stop assuming all drivers want to speed.
I hate this assumption. It happens even more with me, since I'm a motorcyclist, have long hair and am still (relatively) young. (Yes, I know I'm turning 30 this year, but I'm still young. Dammit.) People therefore assume I want to ride everywhere at 120mph. Not true. I just want to feel like I'm getting somewhere in the manner that combines the quickest with the safest. And most of the time that works. If we raised the national speed limit and re-evaluated speeds on all the roads, then maybe we'd all get where we are going as quickly and safely as possible.

Oh and I almost forgot...
6) Ban BMW drivers. You know it makes sense.

So what do you think? How would you improve our roads? Send an e-mail to

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Time has passed....

I know, I know, what you're all waiting for is for me to supply you with my now month-overdue Dr Who Finale reviews, right?

Well tough. Too much time has passed now, and I'm not going back to do them now, so suffice it to say that I enjoyed the finale a great deal, and I would have rated both parts as 9/10. So there.

Moving on, I know what you're all thinking, you're thinking "I haven't heard much from Brawny in a while, is he dead?" Well no, I'm not dead (but thanks for your concern!) I've just been busy. As most of you are probably aware, I finally made the big move back to Poole, and since then I've started a new job, moved into a new flat with the ever gorgeous Neety, two turtles, ten games consoles (not including handhelds) and have been generally rather busy. So sorry for that.

Now I am aware that this ought to be the point where I promise to write more, but I'm not going to say that, as now that I don't have access to this at work every day, so I can't write when I'm bored at work, then my posts are probably going to decrease in relation to the number I used to write. I'd like to pretend that less quantity will mean more quality, but this probably isn't the case either. I'm not going to drastically change what I write about or the style of my writing, so the best promise I can make is that you will get less of the same.

But that's still better than no bread, right?

Also, my writing is being taken up with a one act play that's been commissioned and I need to have written by the end of the month, a novel that I'm determined to finish the rewrite on so that I can sell it to you, the idiotic enthusiastic members of my fanbase through the wonders of Createspace and Amazon (So I may sell, what, three copies?), I have several half finished scripts on my computer I need to finish and I also intend to write and record an album that'll be avaliable on iTunes and Spotify by the end of the year.

Do I expect to make any money from this? No. But as I am turning 30 I've decided that its better to make my stuff avaliable, rather than keep it hidden on my hard drive, so there we go.

Anyway, I have to go now, because I do have a dinner to make (mmm, Steak and Mash), some Kingdom Hearts walkthrough to read to Neety when she gets stuck (Throw Fire at the Pillar!) and later on, some DVDs to watch (movie night with the Neet, YAY!).

But fear not! Brawny ramblings will return, in fact, there are a couple already half-written. So keep an eye on this, I'll write soon, I promise. But for now, just go about your daily business.

For now....

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Lodger (5.11)


In Which: The Doctor attempts to pass himself off as a normal human being, while Amy is stuck in the TARDIS...

What did I think?: Strangely (being as I have an irrational hatred of James Corden) I really enjoyed this episode. To me it felt like it was something different, while still being Doctor Who. I think, on the whole, I enjoyed it more than last weeks episode, but I wouldn't say it was better necessarily.

It's strange that this series has effectively delivered a companion-lite episode, for the first time in three full seasons that one hasn't been needed! (For those of you who don't understand this statement, allow me to explain. Due to the fact that the filming periods for Series' 2, 3 and 4 contained 14 episodes (including the Christmas Special each year) and they were the same amount of time as for 13 episodes, then each year had a "Doctor and Companion-Lite" episode, so that the actors were able to shoot a different episode at the same time. Series 2's was the infamous "Love and Monsters", Series 3 had "Blink" and Series 4 gave us a Doctor-Lite episode in "Turn Left" and a Companion-Lite episode in "Midnight"). However, Amy's sidelining here was good, allowing the Doctor to shine in what almost felt like a buddy-comedy episode, with him and James Cordon's Craig.

Just to be clear - even though I am filled with irrational Corden-hatred, I thought he was quite good in this, and the relationship between Craig and Sophie was well-played, understated yet believable. Plus, the fat man got the girl, which always gets a cheer from me, as I am a fat man!

The more I think back on it, the more I loved this episode. So much stuff was pitch perfect and with this and Vincent and the Doctor, I'm finally starting to feel that the Eleventh Doctor (incidentally, how cool was it that he finally confirmed, on screen and in dialogue that he was the eleventh? That's never happened in NuWho) is settling in and that scripts are tailored to him, the last of the Tennant-isms having finally departed.

And the time machine at the end was brilliant. "Someone's attempt to build a TARDIS" - I know we'll probably never refer to the mysterious person/race's attempt to build it again - but one wonders what civilisation has enough knowledge about TARDISes (Yes I know that plural looks weird, but that's because TARDIS is an acronym and you shouldn't pluralise acronyms. If it was a word would the plural be Tardii? Don't know...) to try and build their own equivalent time machine. Or maybe he just meant it in a general "complicated time/space travel ship" generalisation, rather than a specific TARDIS.

And the ending, with Amy finding the ring? What a perfect moment. (I did worry she'd find it and do the sitcom-plotline of thinking he was going to propose to her - but I'm glad that hasn't happened!)

Is it just me, however, or does it feel a little weird having these two character-based single episodes next to each other? I understand why - they need to distance themselves from the cracks/Rory events of Cold Blood by a couple of episodes before the finale (Where the cracks will re-appear, and I'm thinking maybe Rory will too...) but it seems like they could have swapped one of these with something earlier in the season maybe... but I don't know.

The Good: Performances. The believable romance. CG was nice and minimal. The new Time Machine set was lovely.

The Bad: Cordon did a few times resort to his "I'm a large laddish bloke" acting as a default. Slightly strange scheduling of these two episodes next to each other...

Conclusion: 9/10

Next Week: The Pandorica Opens... (I don't know what it is, or what happens when it opens, but it sure sounds exciting!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor (5.10)

I know, I know, I'm posting this review the day before the next episode. Sue me, I've been busy!


In Which: The Doctor and Amy spy a monster in a Van Gogh painting, and go and visit the man himself to find out what's going on

What did I think?: This was a strange episode. Not so much a normal Dr Who episode as a character study of Vincent Van Gogh. It had heart, and pathos, and felt like it belonged in an entirely different series. This is not a complaint, as I thought it was a good episode, but it did feel slightly out of place.

Tony Curran was a magnificent Van Gogh, and the whole atmosphere of the episode was superb. Van Gogh's depression was mentioned (in as much as something like that can be in a family show like Dr Who), and all of the character interaction was wonderful.

But what of the plot? Sadly, I didn't find it that interesting. In a way, I would have preferred the whole episode to be about the Doctor, Amy and Vincent, without the invisible monster at all.

Yes that's right, I said invisible monster. The budget cuts raise their head again - although it did work quite well. The problem was, the monster felt like it was from a completely different episode. I understand that they needed a plot for Van Gogh to work against, and to triumph (even if, as it was discovered at the end of the episode, the triumph was temporary), allowing him a little moment of happiness.

But this is a minor niggle. It was a good episode. Bill Nighy was seven shades of awesome (as one would expect from Bill Nighy) and Matt Smith shined in this episode, once again as the Doctor who doesn't know the answer to everything - most notably in this case, how to help Vincent.

The ending was, as has become traditional this series, superb. And the moment where Van Gogh is standing in an exhibition of his own work and is overwhelmed was brilliantly shot. The Doctor is obviously still struggling to keep the Rory information from Amy, although Vincent can see she's lost someone - which confuses Amy.

The Good: Performances and character work - all excellent.

The Bad: The Monster story felt sort of tacked-on, and I do wonder if the whole script could have been done without it.

Conclusion: 8/10

Thursday, 3 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Cold Blood (5.9)

Again, I'm aware that this review is really late - and I have no defence beyond the fact that I'm moving this weekend and I haven't had any time to just sit down and write a review!! So it's going to be quite a short one again, sorry about that (or, if you prefer my short reviews, you're welcome!)


In Which: The Silurians get mad, the Doctor attempts to broker a peace deal, and particularly harrowing and dramatic stuff happens at the end.

What did I think?: Hooray! This lived up to the promise of last weeks part one, and continued to be a good old-fashioned Whovian runaround. However, the bit everyone is going to want to talk about is the last ten minutes, which I will get to, so be patient!

The majority of the episode was, I felt, a suitably good ending to the previous weeks episode. We got some negotiations over the future of planet Earth, Amy actually doing stuff again (although how did she manage to pickpocket that Silurian doctor? Her hands were nowhere near his pocket!) and, in a nice touch, the Doctor going back to one of his traits on classic Who, which was taking a character from the story, and leaving them somewhere else to where they had started. In this case, leaving Nasreen and Tony to hibernate with the Silurians. (Which reminds me, aren't the rest of the Silurians gonna be pissed off when they discover a pair of "apes" in their city?)

The Silurians actually had a plan, which makes a change, and also, they weren't all of the same mind. They were a proper functioning society (that granted, we only ever saw small pieces of) and therefore they argued, disagreed and had different opinions to each other. Which was nice, and again a feature of Classic Who.

And then we get to the end. Oh Rory. After doing sterling work this episode (not quite as much as last episode, but still, the moments where they are deciding what to do with the dead Silurian was a masterclass from Arthur Darvill), then Rory takes an energy blast for the Doctor. And dies.

Yes, again. He died in Amy's Choice (in the dream) and now he dies here. And the heartbreaking thing? A crack eats him, and Amy consequently (in some fantastically acted moments) forgets him. Leaving the Doctor carrying one more burden. But, we're not done yet. Because what did the Doctor pull out of the crack? A piece of Shrapnel.


Does the TARDIS cause the cracks? Is that what explodes? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.

And if, as I suspect, we're going to see the things that have entered the crack in the last two episodes, then how is Rory going to play into that? Since he was dead before the Crack even ate him?

The Good: It's become a cliche to say this, but the performances. The Old-School feel of the episode. Aliens with opinions. The last ten minutes.

The Bad: Just the little inconsistencies like Amy's pickpocketing skills. Oh and the annoying military Silurian who was the sister of the other Silurian so that they could use the same makeup...

Conclusion: 9/10 - Next week - Van Gogh!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Hungry Earth (5.8)

Sorry this review's both late and short... my bad :P Too busy packing!


In Which: The Doctor, Amy and Rory turn up at a mining facility in 2020 who are drilling down further than man has ever drilled before... But something's drilling back up towards them!

What did I think?: Could this episode have been anymore old-school-Who if it had tried? And I mean that in a good way. A small cast, a returning enemy (who, granted, look completely different to how they used to look, but enemies on Dr Who do that on a remarkably regular basis), a companion separated and imprisoned... the list goes on.

Firstly, can I say that the team of Doctor, Rory and Amy seems to be working incredibly well, at least in my eyes, but then I've always preferred three-man TARDIS-teams.

Guest stars this week did a wonderful job, and special credit goes out to the child actor for not being annoying like, well, most other child actors. (For an example see the kids who played young Jacob and MIB in LOST).

So the earth is eating people having been bio-programmed by the Silurians? I buy that, and it leads to creepy images of people being "eaten" by the earth, including, (shock, horror) Amy! But it turns out they haven't been killed, merely captured for some, as yet undetermined purpose.

Loved the "dome" over the village when the Silurians attacked, and loved Rory and The Doctor bundling their captive into the meals on wheels van. Oh, and the Silurian makeup was superb!

Obviously, a lot of this episode was setup for next weeks resolution, so it was the little elements that stood out for me. The Silurian predicting her death at the hands of one of the three characters facing her (Rory, Tony and Ambrose) , Nasreen entering the TARDIS and being overawed and excited, and, of course, the Silurian City reveal at the end of the episode...

It all looks like it's leading up to excitement, which is good.

Obviously, it wasn't all perfect, the "10 years hence Rory and Amy" I'm starting to wonder whether it's a plot point or just a joke, and the silly reason for Rory to split up from the other two at the beginning (putting the ring in the TARDIS) could have been better thought through. Also, I'm sad that the scene that was shown (mostly) in Dr Who Confidential was cut, as it looked to be some nice character banter between The Doctor and Amy.

The Good: Most of it. Felt very old-Who, which I liked as a change, performances suitably brilliant as always, loved the Silurian make-up.

The Bad: A bit slow (But I can forgive that as it's a Part One), Rory getting split off from the others early on was very contrived, and I almost felt that we shouldn't have seen any shots of Amy after she was captured, because we didn't learn much, and it would have sustained the question of if she was OK...

Conclusion: 8/10

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

REVIEW: Dr Who - Amy's Choice (5.7)

Firstly, let me apologise for not having posted anything here for a week or so, I have been significantly lacking in free time!

And now, on with the meat and substance of this post.


In Which: The Doctor visits Rory and Amy five years after they've left the TARDIS, and Amy's pregnant. But then all three of them wake up on the TARDIS...

What did I think: Well, this was new. An episode of Dr Who that managed to take the standard Dr Who formula and feel significantly different. And to me, it highlighted the biggest (and I would say best) difference between this era and the David Tennant era. It took the Doctor most of the episode to figure out what was going on. So rather than feel we were along for a ride with a man who knew what to do, we were all on a sort of creepy wander through a strange and curious adventure.

And, more to the point, it managed to give us a resolution on the Amy/Rory/Doctor triangle much quicker than I thought we would get one (I thought it'd go on for the whole series), which I wholeheartedly embrace.

Speaking of Rory, he continues to grow and slowly become the companion that he is capable of being, much like Mickey did in Series 1/2, and I like that - one of the many reasons I like multi-companion teams is that there is room for growth and banter and all that good stuff...

The Dream Lord was fantastic, his flickering in and out, his jumping around, and his extremely creepy edge he gave to the dialogue. And, while we're on that subject, the dialogue was pretty damn impressive too. Full marks to Simon Nye, who managed to write a self-contained, well thought out, witty, banter-fuelled and scary episode.

My biggest complaint, in a way, was the two stories - because as fun and a shock it was to see Amy pregnant and Rory with a ponytail, the fact that the earth-based half of the story was set five years hence did kind of tell me that one wouldn't be real. (Although the reveal that both were dreams was fun, but at the same time, perfectly logical). However, I LOVED the nasty old people, as well as the idea of the TARDIS drifting into a 'cold star'.

But the best thing about this episode was the fact we finally got some development of Amy. This is an area a lot of people (and yes, I'm talking about those weird online forum-goers like me again) have been moaning about for ages - that she's one-dimensional. Which has, to my mind, made sense. She's rushed from adventure to adventure trying (as Rory said in the last episode) to impress the Doctor. This is the first time an adventure has had a major impact on her, and to see her have such a human reaction to that was heartwarming.

And the ending, where we have a "it was a dream" explanation. I should hate it, but I really didn't. :)

So now we have a happy, excitable, three person TARDIS team! It's great, but I have a feeling it'll be like an Eastenders marriage, it won't last long and will end in either death, drugs, jail or someone getting an a taxi and leaving forever....

I hope I'm wrong...

(But I bet I'm not!)

The Good: Performances across the board. The balancing of the Rory/Amy/Doctor story with the life-threatening stories. Toby Jones was brilliant as the Dream Lord.

The Bad: I never believed that the Leadworth-world was real, which kind of diminished the threat slightly...

Conclusion: 9/10 - Still very high quality!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Doctor Who - The Vampires of Venice (5.6)


In Which: The Doctor decides to take Amy and Rory on a trip together as a wedding gift in order to help solidify their relationship. So they end up in Venice and promptly run into some pointy-teethed minions of evil. Or are they what they seem?

What did I think?: I loved this episode. From start to finish. And I think the opening of it (and therefore the motivation for the characters to be there (i.e. The Doctor and Amy's kiss in the bedroom)) beautifully paid off the end of the previous episode.

And I loved that the thread ran all the way through it, rather than have Amy completely forget about the Doctor's fanciableness (is that a word?), we got lots of jokes and awkward conversational snippets about it, so that by the end of the episode, you believe that she really wants Rory again, hence the invitation to travel.

Meanwhile, this felt like a nice romp through 16th century Venice (well realised by using a small Croatian village) with everything you'd (or at least I'd) want from a Doctor Who episode.

Compelling villains? Check - OK, Francesco was a bit of a pantomime villain, but Rosanna had a reason for doing what she was doing, rather than just being after power or money, or just being inherently evil, which is always nice.

Companions stepping up? Check - Rory was the big surprise of the episode for me, as I actually found myself warming to him, and am glad he's joining the TARDIS crew, mostly because we now seem to have (mostly) dealt with Amy's fancying of the Doctor, which will surely lessen now that Rory is around

A myth explained in an all new and bizarre Dr-Who-Esque fashion? Check - Vampires that are actually alien fish-type-beings who, being fish, don't like sunlight, but who hide using a Perception filter, which therefore explains why they don't appear in mirrors? Genius.

An alien device powered by a small metal flip-switch? Check - I laughed so hard when that happened. They build the secondary device on top of the tower and it's turned on and off with a tiny switch. And people complained about this fact online - what do you use that you DON'T turn on and off with a switch??

A comedy sword fight? Check - Who didn't love it when Rory attempt to show off with the broom before the fight started, and then later on when he tried to stab Francesco with the bristly end... brilliant.

Reference to the season-long arc? Check - The 'Vampires' came through a crack, to escape the silence... the silence itself occurring again at the end of the episode...

And of course - the funny moments? Check - Including some brilliant ones such as: "It'd never work, I'm a Time Lord, you're a big fish. Think of the Children", Rory and the Doctor's discussion about him kissing Amy while they are breaking in;
"What's there between you and Amy? You said she kissed you!"
"Now? You want to know now?!"
"I have a right to know. We're getting married in 430 years!"
And of course, the brilliant moment where the Doctor reaches for his psychic paper, and instead reveals his library card. With a photo of the first Doctor on it.

In fact, my only minor gripe with the episode was the editing once they had reached the climax, with Rory and Amy ripping out the insides of the chair and the Doctor chasing the cables - the editing following the Doctor felt a bit choppy to me, almost as if they were cutting down to the second to stop the episode over-running, and it just felt incongruous. But this is a minor complaint.

So where do we go from here? The trailer for next weeks - Amy's Choice - seems very intriguing and new, and I can't wait.

The Good: Pretty much everything. Rory was the standout in this, but both The Doctor and Amy continue to impress. The Sword Fight. The gentle build up of the crack/silence tension...

The Bad: Some slightly strange editing choices. Also, a little dodgy CGI (the Doctor climbing the tower)

Conclusion: 9/10. More like this please!

Friday, 7 May 2010

The News on Friday

In a bit of light Friday banter (and get me, I'm writing a blog on a Friday, that almost never happens!) I saw a couple of news stories earlier that I felt were just dying to be written about....

First up - Russian abducted by Aliens? MP demands investigation....

Is it just me, or does this feel like the beginning of a science fiction blockbuster? Eccentric man (who happens to be a local Russian president, the leader of the southern region of Kalmykia) claims in TV interview to have been abducted by aliens. MP demands investigation...

If it was a blockbuster film then the story would progress as follows. The local president would be questioned, just as the aliens invade, and the MP would lead the people in fighting them off. (Also, if it was a blockbuster film, it wouldn't be set in Russia...)

But what's great about this is that it's real, and the MP has some very real concerns.

"MP Andre Lebedev is not just asking whether Mr Ilyumzhinov is fit to govern. He is also concerned that, if he was abducted, he may have revealed details about his job and state secrets...(he) asks if there are official guidelines for what government officials should do if contacted by aliens, especially if those officials have access to state secrets."

Yeah, because aliens are interested in Russia's state secrets, obviously. You'd understand his point if it was a very sensible person claiming to have been abducted, but let's look at Mr Ilyumzhinov's credentials...

"He has been president of Kalmykia, a small Buddhist region of Russia which lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea, for 17 years. The millionaire former businessman has a reputation as an eccentric character. As president of the World Chess Federation, he has spent tens of millions of dollars turning the impoverished republic into a mecca for chess players - building an entire village to host international tournaments. "

So basically, he's the president of Chessville, Russia??? I'm fairly sure that, what with him being a weirdo to start with, the aliens probably didn't exist...

Or they have some mechanism to only target people that the rest of the world won't believe, and they are right now monitoring the internet, reading this blog, and smiling because they know their secret remains safe....

OK. I'm not gonna believe it, unless the aliens invade, in which case I'm heading for Chessvile, anyone else coming? You're all invited. Except this guy.

Yes, this is Brawny's second crazy news story of the day (did you like my exceedingly unsubtle link between the two? It's the best I could do, I'm tired...) and I can't possibly describe it in a funnier way than the opening two paragraphs of the Sun article, so I'm just going to paste that here :

"Greying Peter Trigger, 60, was given a five year ASBO in December 2008 after loitering outside a primary school wearing a Britney Spears-style outfit of grey skirt, white blouse, burgundy tie, grey ankle socks and a blue cap.

He is banned from wearing a skirt or showing bare legs on a school day between 8.30am and 10am and 2.45pm and 4pm.

That's right. A 60 year old man is banned from wearing a skirt or showing his bare legs on a schoolday. I'm not sure what else I need to write here to make it funny. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't need a lot of comments from me...although, what with it being the Sun, and the article being about him breaching the ASBO, shouldn't the headline have been "Oops, he did it again!"?

Except he didn't do it again. The article itself says "He paraded in front of Mary and Philip Copping, who live opposite, while wearing a mini-skirt before repeatedly bending over in front them with his back turned. "

*Shudders* Ignore that mental image and read the next sentence...

"The couple were getting into Mr Copping's van to go to work at 7.25am when he approached, the court was told. "

7.25am. That's before 8.30am. Therefore surely he's not in breach of his ASBO? Especially since it was initially put into place due to him freaking out schoolchildren, hence the timings and schoolday specifications. When it was initially imposed "Northampton Borough Council said he was entitled to wear whatever he wanted, but not if it caused "alarm or distress" to the public."

So we're allowed to express ourselves freely, as long as we don't alarm or distress people? Is it just me, or are our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression slowly being whittled away, made so that we can do whatever we want as long as it is determined to be "normal"?

Serious thoughts there, from a ridiculous story, but they lead to this third and much more serious story that genuinely splits my opinion, as it's a case of my personal principles and dislikes clashing.

This is the story of Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher, who was arrested for saying that homosexuality was a sin in a public place. (I realise that sentence is unclear, I mean he said it in a public place, not that he was saying homosexuality is only a sin in public...) And this is where my conflicting opinions come into play.

On the one hand, I think it's disgraceful in this day and age that people should believe that any form of sexuality is wrong.

However, I also don't agree with the arresting of someone for expressing an opinion.

I believe in free speech and tolerance for all religious and personal beliefs, no matter how stupid or idiotic I personally think they are. And as the article itself says "The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Workington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God. "

That to me sounds like a private conversation between two people. Did the passing shopper feel harassed? Did Mr McAlpine yell the information? Well.. not really.

"Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.(..) Mr McAlpine was handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments or offering a “ticket to heaven” with a church colleague on April 20, when a woman came up and engaged him in a debate about his faith. During the exchange, he says he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness.

After the woman walked away, she was approached by a PCSO who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to Mr McAlpine and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language.

The street preacher said he told the PCSO: “I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator”.

He claims that the PCSO then said he was homosexual and identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police. Mr McAlpine replied: “It’s still a sin.”

The preacher then began a 20 minute sermon, in which he says he mentioned drunkenness and adultery, but not homosexuality. Three regular uniformed police officers arrived during the address, arrested Mr McAlpine and put him in the back of a police van. "

My biggest problem with this is that, if he said it loudly enough to be charged under the Public Order act then why on earth didn't the PCSO attempt to arrest him before his sermon, or prevent him from giving the sermon whilst waiting for backup? It does seem that the PCSO may have pushed harder for the man to be arrested, due to his own sexuality.

Which I can understand. If I was a policeman and someone told me that it was a sin to be fat (That's not anyone's religious belief as far as I know, but just an example that could apply to me) then I'd be annoyed and I'd take it personally. But I'd like to think I wouldn't abuse my powers to then arrest the offending man.

Now if, in his sermon, he'd started preaching about how we should kill all the gays, then they'd have a point. But he didn't.

In conclusion, I think I'd much rather that we had complete freedom of speech, and we have to occasionally listen to religious nutjobs, than allowing the Police to arrest us over quietly discussing our opinions.

That's all for now. Brawny signing off.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Fever and how to cure it.

So, the day is upon us. It's election day. Everyone rejoice!

*Listens to the complete lack of rejoicing*

That's right people, it's election day. And, for the first time in, oh maybe ten years or so, I am actually voting. But this blog isn't about me, it's about two other types of people.

Type 1: The self-righteous Voter

This is the person who goes to vote before badgering you, asking who you're voting for, why, when you're going to do it, and using that immortal phrase (which belongs in the pantheon of "Phrases Brawny hates") "If you don't vote, then you can't complain about the state of the country". Bollocks. Yes you can. You can complain as much as you like.

Now the obvious enemy of the Self-Righteous voter is this man (or woman - I'm not sexist)

Type 2: The Apathetic Non-Voter

This is the person who won't go and vote, usually for one of the following reasons:
I don't know enough about it
I've read the manifesto's and it doesn't make a difference
It's just going to be as bad whoever gets in.

Now most of you, I expect, are waiting for me to start complaining about this person. But I won't. Because I was one of them (and still am partially, I'm voting this time because there are specific things I would like to happen, but if there weren't I'd still be this guy). And let me tell you why. It's not because I'm lazy (although I can be), it's because I genuinely don't believe most things would be solved in a change of government. I use the following as my reasoning:

1) Every party lies during campaigns - they therefore won't enact at least 50% of their policies even if they get elected
2) There are things outside the control of politicians and the government - the financial situation we are currently in would, for example, have happened under any government, because until it happened we wouldn't have prevented it!

The next most common thing I used to hear was "Well why not go and spoil your ballot in protest?". Because it's not really a protest. I admire the gesture but the problem is (and I'm going to simplify slightly here) the results we see of voting ballots reported in the news will be as follows:

Labour - a%
Conservative - b%
Liberal Democrats - c%
Others - d%
Spoilt papers - e%

The problem is that no-one knows how many of those papers were spoilt out of protest, as opposed to the ones that are spoilt because stupid people don't understand how to draw an X.

If there was an option for "None of the above" on the ballot paper, then I would have voted every time I had the chance in the eleven years I've been eligible. But there isn't.

So this blog is a message of solidarity to those people who are not voting today (Unless you're a voter who's too lazy to get out of bed. Then you're just lazy.) Vote if you want to. Vote if there's a reason to. But if you genuinely don't believe you know enough or don't want any of the parties to get in, then why bother going down and scribbling on your paper? Is it worth it? Find a different way to make your statement...

And don't let those pushy voting bastards tell you "You're not allowed to complain." Complain all you damn well want.

P.S. At work there is a mock election going on today, and students have been representing the parties. They were all supposed to come to me to record announcements for each individual party, and I found the results kind of mirrored certain stereotypes of the parties:

The Lib Dems - The delegated representative turned up on time, was very polite, and recorded a nice little message directly relating to their policies. Unfortunately it was delivered in a dull, monotonic fashion, and no-one would have listened to it.

Labour - Four of them turned up half an hour late, argued over what the recording should sound like and then recorded something that was all style and no substance.

Conservative - Just didn't bother to turn up.

I'm not passing judgement, but I did find it funny - especially when the eventual decision was made that the announcements would not be going out on the tannoy, therefore allowing the Conservatives to have gone home early the day we recorded and still not lost any ground....

P.P.S. If anyone can figure out what my title is a reference to, they get a brownie point. (Which isn't a sharpened 8 year old girl...)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

REVIEW - Doctor Who: Flesh and Stone (5.5)

It's Monday, (or at least it was when I started this review, now it's Tuesday (In fact, according to the top of this blog post it's last Saturday! My Time Travel research must be going better than I thought (Or I made notes on Saturday and forgot to update the date of the blog. Never mind. ))) and it's time for....


In Which: The Doctor, Amy and River (along with cannon fodder and "Important Guest Star who will die dramatically mid-episode") continue to flee from the Angels, before getting rudely interrupted by the return of a different plot device...

What did I think?: I liked it. (Oh what a shocker, I hear you all say, well tough. If you wanted a negative review of Dr Who, look around the net, there's plenty you can find.) I thought it was much better than last weeks, and in fact it would bring up last weeks score if I re-reviewed it now, since a lot of last weeks episode was direct setup for things in this one.

The realisation that Amy had been infected by an angel was brilliant, and the effect of the angel in here eye was superb, although one thing is that the Doctor does seem to be quite happy to leave Amy alone in every episode... but nevertheless, it was good.

And then, in the biggest shock of Nu-Who in a long time, we got direct interaction with the series arc plot in episode 5! Rather than the RTD method of hints building up until episode 12/13, where it'd be revealed, Moffat's gone for allowing us to find out slightly more about the crack in this episode, and this reveal seems to have a significant effect on the Doctor's motivations, and also will now (I expect, although I don't know) form the basis for the rest of the series.

My biggest disappointment with this episode was, in many ways, the Angels. Because the rules for them seemed to bend depending on what was happening. Previously we've been told that if you stop looking at you they can move fast... so when Amy was in the forest and unable to look at them why were they still or moving slowly? And the whole "walk as if you can see" thing? Surely if they have a quantum-locked physiology, then it's nothing to do with whether they think they are being observed, but it's do with the actual act of observation? And if that's the case how come they didn't just kill her straightaway?

And also, why did they kill people anyway? Why didn't they just send them through time the way they used to?

AND, why, when Amy can't open her eyes for a second, does she open them for significantly longer than that? (And no, it wasn't for dramatic tension, it wasn't an 'extended second' where only a second passed for her and more for us - because she SPOKE while her eyes were open!) This annoyed me, because it could have so easily been dealt with - either by giving her 2 or 3 seconds left, or by literally having her open her eyes and then shut them again, before speaking!

But these are nit-picks. The killing of Father Octavian was brilliant, leaving the Doctor facing someone he already knew had died, and knowing there was nothing he could do. Which lead us to AngryDoctor! Who was quite scarily angry... Matt Smith has a dramatic range, and he likes to show it. Which suits me fine - the Doctor is not human, and that's showing now, much more than it did with David Tennant. (Don't get me wrong, I loved David Tennant's Doctor, but he was nowhere near the alien that Matt Smith is becoming). Also, when Amy was first counting down, and he was telling her to stop whining so he could think? Brilliant.

And then, after a few hints from River Song, we get to the ending. The one that caused certain areas of the internet (yes, I'm talking about you Gallifrey Base). The ending where Amy tried to bed the Doctor.

You know what? I liked it. There are arguments that it was out of character for Amy, to which I have one resounding defence.


(I apologise for my French. (And where does that saying come from anyway? Swear words aren't French...))

She's lusted after him since he arrived (the second time, when she was of a suitable age) and of course he's disturbed - for several reasons! Number One - He met her as a 7 year old girl, about a week ago (in his timeline), Number Two - He's an alien, she's a Human, Number Three - the age difference thing, Number Four - She's engaged!

There's currently a rumour doing the rounds that she is mind-controlled, or possessed, and that's why the Doctor was so jittery. I hope that's not true. We've finally got a different type of Dr/Companion relationship, and people are moaning???

Besides, the reason he is so jittery is because he's discovered that something that happens that day, probably involving Amy, is causing the cracks in time and space... that'd freak any man out.

If Dr Who was an American series, this episode would have been what they term the mid-season break, where they stop showing new episodes for weeks. It moved everything on, and added a sense of urgency to the series, which I loved.

And for a bonus point, who noticed the moment which is either a massive continuity flaw or a subtle hint for the future? Were there TWO Doctors in the forest? Because he lost his jacket (very obviously), then after he left Amy with River... when he came back at the end of that scene, telling Amy to remember? He was wearing his jacket... and had come from a slightly different direction.

Next time we saw him? No jacket. Makes you wonder.... maybe we're going to get a point where the Doctor is travelling back through his adventures in the finale?

The Good: Nearly everything. Even River Song didn't annoy me much at all.

The Bad: Apart from the Amy-eyes-open for way longer than a second? Probably just the fact the rules about the Angels seemed to shift and change slightly...

Conclusion - 9/10. One of the Best so far...

Friday, 30 April 2010


So, after months of avoiding re-writing, followed by a few weeks of actually doing it, I finally sent off for a proof copy of my novel "Tempus Fugit (Or, 'How many time travellers does it take to break the continuum?')"

Well, it's here. Want to see? Here's some photos...

It's great having a copy of it as a REAL book! (Granted, it's not real in the sense that I haven't put it up for sale, and I'm not making any money, and I keep finding mistakes in it... but still, it's great!)
Also, for those of you who haven't heard, I'm moving back to Poole! Sadly, this may mean my blog suffers a little as I won't have time to kill at work anymore... but I promise to try and keep you involved in my life, and to continue my strange and bizarre posts.
But for now, let's all just smile and be happy.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

REVIEW - Doctor Who: The Time of Angels (5.4)

OK, I apologise in advance for this review, as it's late, and it won't be as long or in-depth as my others, as I watched the episode days ago....

(Oh, and you may also have noticed that I've reverted back to the series numbering being Series 5, as the artwork for the first DVD has been released which says Series 5, so the BBC is obviously ignoring it's own previous statement)

So here, for your delectation, is my review


In Which: River Song turns up again, and brings the Doctor and Amy to a planet in pursuit of a Weeping Angel...

What did I think: I'm not sure. I liked it - I found it entertaining, and the opening segment with River Song leaving a message in Old High Galifreyan across 12,000 years so that the Doctor would be there in time to pick her up was very well done.

But, a lot of the rest of the episode felt more pedestrian to me. And interestingly, looking around at other internet-based reviews, that seems to be a good thing for most people, but I like my Doctor Who with a degree of stupid insanity in it... Multi-Coloured Daleks? Love them. A giant Star-Whale? Fantastic. Spitfires in Space? Well, you all know how much I loved that (and if you don't know, check out my previous review.) But with this episode, it suffered a little from being Part One of a two-parter, all setup and no action.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, and there were some fabulously brilliant sections, including Amy vs. The VHS Angel (I don't care how River Song described it - that footage looked as if it had been recorded on VHS, right down to the jump as it looped) which was brilliantly suspenseful, the realisation that all the statues were angels, the creepy thing that is happening to Amy with the dust and her 'stone' hand, and the cliffhanger - which was brilliant in the way that usually the cliffhanger shows everyone not knowing what to do, whereas this was the Doctor enacting his plan....

But I just kept seeing niggles and plot holes in this, which I can usually look past, but for some reason I couldn't. The Sonic Screwdriver couldn't get into the shuttle because it was, all of a sudden, deadlocked? By who, the angel? How did the angel modify the locks WHILE coming out of the TV?

The statues are all Angels? That's creepy, sure.. and the reveal was great (the conversation about the inhabitants of the planet having two heads), and I know they were all dying Angels... but given ALL those statues, no-one was keeping an eye on them all, so why hadn't they started moving BEFORE our heroes realised what was going on?

I loved the way the angels used the dead soldier to communicate, although it remains to be seen why they bothered, if all they wanted to do was kill everyone...

And River Song. Where do I start? I've never known a character that is both brilliant and hideously irritating at the same time before... She's smug, and annoying, and that's OK. It's when she tries to be nice (either to Amy or the Doctor) that I don't really buy it... that may be the acting, or the writing, or the direction, but I just don't know....

Still, I'm looking forward to next week, notably because we seem to get some forward movement regarding the cracks we've been seeing, and I want to see how the rest of the Angels story plays out.

The Good: I know I've said it every review, but Matt and Karen are owning their parts every week, and this week I shall also put in a shout-out for the guy who played Scared Bob, who I thought was brilliant... The Weeping Angels are still creepy, the one on video was downright scary, and the banter between River, Amy and the Doctor was fabulous.

The Bad: Something about this just felt... pedestrian. Normal. Boring. There was no crazy reveal, no outrageous plan... I dunno, maybe watching the second part will resolve this for me. Plus I STILL don't know if I like River Song...

Conclusion: 7.5/10 - Weakest one of the series for me... but still better than 99% of TV!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Brawny (almost) gets political!

I'm not the most political person in the world. I'm not the least political either, but I'm certainly much closer to that end of the scale. I have a general sense of apathy about politics, which I have noticed has been spreading across the country these last few years.

Until now.

Because now, shock horror, we got to see the leaders of the three main parties talking. About their policies. On TV. And suddenly, everyone cares.

Which is probably good, since whoever we pick is going to run the country....

But anyway - the upshot of the leader debates (certainly the first one) appears to be that all of a sudden people have remembered that the Liberal Democrats exist - which is all good, as personally I agree with more of what they say than the other two (plus they are unsullied by the "They promise a lot now, but look at what happens when they get into power" mentality as they've never got into power...). This has, however led to confusion in the tabloid press (all of whom had backed either Conservative or Labour to the hilt) and in their confusion, the majority of them are thrashing out against Nick Clegg... but this is the best one.

Yes, once again, we're going to talk about a ridiculous Daily Mail article! Let me hear you say yeah! (Listens expectantly. Surprisingly hears a yeah. Decides I'm going insane. Debates calling a doctor. Decides against it. Carries on.)

Yes, it's the article that reckons Nick Clegg is a Nazi (although on reading it today, they've updated it to add a quote from him at the top basically ridiculing their story.) and that he has been involved in lots of unsavoury goings on and is generally the wrong man for the job.

Shall we have a look at the specifics of the article? (Hears that voice again, this time saying "Yes Brawny, let's!" Books a doctors appointment while typing.)

"The passionately pro-Europe Mr Clegg revealed his views on World War II in an article for the Guardian newspaper in 2002. ‘Watching Germany rise from its knees after the war and become a vastly more prosperous nation has not been easy on the febrile British psyche,’ Mr Clegg wrote, before attacking Britain’s approach to the war. ‘All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still...A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place.’"

Now, this seems a little strange as a quote, until you read the entire guardian article which is well-written, well-argued and showcases a lot of very good points (in my opinion). However, if you're offended by reading the complete article, then fine. Surely the Mail would get someone like that to respond to it? Well they went one better, didn't they, they got the grandson of Winston Churchill! Minor detail is? Well, I'll let you read the excerpt and realise what might colour his opinion slightly...

"Tory MP Nicholas Soames, grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, said: ‘These views will disgust people the length and breadth of the country. They show that Nick Clegg is unfit to lead his party, let alone the country."

Yes he's a Tory MP. So basically the Tories are against Nick Clegg? What a shocker! What's more disturbing though, is what appears to be a throwaway line in the article that says "Ironically, his mother was interned by the Japanese during the war."

Is it just me, or does that line basically say "Mr Clegg, how dare you be all Nazi-like and stuff when your mum was held prisoner by people who weren't the Nazis but were sort of like them during the same war we fought the Nazis in?"

Balanced journalism my arse.

As well as the Nazi accusation, the other accusations made in the article include that he is facing "damaging questions" over money being paid directly to him (which, if you look at the information, was properly declared and used to pay for a member of staff), that he will face tough questions over his pro-Europe stance (but doesn't specify anything more) and that he performed a U-turn, "suggesting he would not ask for him (Gordon Brown) to quit as the price for Lib Dem support in a coalition. Only yesterday he called Mr Brown a 'desperate man' who should not be allowed to stay as a 'squatter' in Downing Street but today he indicated voting reform was more important. 'His record shows he is very much part of the problem, not the solution. But it is not my job to decide who every party has as their leader,' he told the Independent."

I'm fairly sure it can't be considered a U-turn if he didn't say that he wouldn't consider a coalition with Brown. Which he didn't. He apparently "indicated" it. Which intrigues me. Does he have little flashing indicator lights that, instead of showing when he's turning left or right actually tell you what he's thinking?

No. He doesn't. For he is not Nick Clegg; half-man half-bizarre machine, he is Nick Clegg; The man who seems sane in comparison with the other two.

Can the Lib Dems win? I don't know. As I said at the start of this, I don't know much about politics. If they do win will they abandon the majority of their promises? Probably, they're politicians. But you have to wonder - surely they'd be better than the other two idiots?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Genre Struggle

I have some good news for you, oh blog readers... I have finished my novel!

Yes - Tempus Fugit (Or, 'How many Time-Travellers does it take to break the Continuum?) is finished and I am waiting for my free Createspace proof copy (yet another advantage of doing NaNoWriMo). And before anyone asks, no I haven't decided if I'll make it available to the public to buy yet...

And so, my brain is naturally moving on to what my next project is going to be. (Because, while I like to think that I can multi-task, once I start properly working on a project everything tends to relate to that...)

And I'm not sure what to do. I've got a one-act play I'd quite like to write, which I may do next as I don't think it'll take me too long (certainly not for a first draft anyway), but I think what I'd really like to do next is go back to my roots a bit, and write an album - especially now I've discovered Routenote, with whom I'd be able to put the album on iTunes / Spotify / Other digital download services, so that everyone could enjoy it. (And just to be clear, I don't expect to make any money out of it at all, but imagine being able to say "My album is on iTunes". That's the sort of thing I've dreamed of since I was a kid (although iTunes didn't exist then, but you know what I mean)). However, while thinking about this, I've started to worry about genre.

This worry never occurs with anything else. Partly because scripts and novels don't have such rigid genres as music, but also because a novel or a script is a single entity, whereas an album is a selection of individual songs. And I like to write a wide selection of songs. Therefore, for my first full solo album, should I concentrate on one genre, or purposefully make a genre-transcending album ranging from Metal to piano instrumentals? Or should I just stop worrying about it and just write what I feel I want to write?

The other thing that puts me off about this is that I'm not a particularly good lyricist. Firstly, a lot of my lyrics are just jokes (which is fine, I'm not complaining about that), but also I have a paranoid fear that people assume whatever I'm writing is true. I never feel like that with script or stories, but with music people make the assumption that the singer/songwriter is talking about themselves and their own life, and that idea tends to crowd my brain and make me worry about what I'm writing.

So what do you, my adoring public (and I use the word adoring in the loosest possible sense) think? Should I just write whatever I feel like? Or should I consider the album as a whole and tailor the songs to one specific feel?

I'm genuinely interested in your answers, so please don't stay quiet! By all means if you want to be anonymous, then do, but post your answers if you have any. :)


Monday, 19 April 2010

REVIEW - Doctor Who - Victory of the Daleks (1.3)

So it's a Monday, and without further ado....


In which: The Doctor and Amy travel back to WWII and discover that Churchill has a brand new weapon that could win him the war. They are the Ironsides, as invented by Professor Bracewell, metal machines with powerful weaponry. Except they are a kind of pepperpot shape, glide along the floor and have a sucker sticking out the front of them... yes, it's the Daleks.

What did I think?: I know this is a common theme for these reviews, but I liked it. Although it would appear that I am much more alone on this than on previous episodes as a lot of people, both in real life and on Gallifrey Base (Not that I'm saying that people on there aren't real, but you know what I mean) appear to have significant complaints about this episode.

But not me.

Come on, how can you not love an episode that contains *deep breath* Daleks, Churchill, Spitfires in space, The Doctor uppercuting a professor, NEW Daleks, an android and so much more...

Let's start at the beginning. The first ten or fifteen minutes are brilliant, atmospheric and just plain confusing as you get the Daleks moving around, being nice, obeying orders... and bringing cups of tea.

You see? That's brilliance, right there. But more than that, once the Daleks deception is exposed, then their plan seems, to quote the Middleman "Sheer Elegance in its simplicity". OK, so it's not quite THAT simple, but it's as follows:

After the events of Journey's End (in which all the Daleks in the universe were destroyed for at least the third time in four years), one ship escaped (as usual) and that's the ship that ends up there in WWII. The Daleks on board found a progenitor (Spelling? Anyone?) which makes more Daleks, but since it only makes true Daleks, and the Daleks from Journey's End are rush jobs made by Davros, it won't recognise them. So it won't work unless someone proves they are the Daleks. So they built Bracewell as a robot, so he could pretend to have invented the Daleks, so that Churchill would ring the Doctor, so when the Doctor announces loudly "You are the Daleks and I am the Doctor" this testimony allows the progenitor to work and start spitting out new Daleks...

(Wow, I didn't realise how many times I used the word Dalek in the above paragraph until I spellchecked it... incidentally, why doesn't Blogger's spellchecker recognise Dalek? It must surely be a real word by now...)

Wow, that's complicated. At least it's complicated when you try and boil it down to one paragraph. But it is a nice change for the Daleks initial plan when they realise they're down to just a few left is NOT to try and invade/destroy a planet/the universe, but instead to make more Daleks. And the best thing about this?




The Daleks win.

Well, mostly.

They survive, which in NuWho is a HUGE leap forward. At last we no longer have to spend the beginning of every Dalek episode going "But you were all dead? How did you survive??". They survive because they make the Doctor choose between saving Earth or destroying their ship. And the Doctor, of course, chooses Earth.

In this brief outline I am, of course, not doing justice to some of the other fine areas of the episode, such as Spitfires dogfighting with a Dalek ship in outer space!! Which was great.

Now, I'm going to address some of the criticisms I have heard about this episode...

The New Multi-Coloured Daleks are rubbish and plasticky - Yeah, they look different. But the more I look at them, the more I've decided I like them. They lend an air of variety to the Dalek race, and the fact that they have different job titles means that we can see an expansion and evolution of the Dalek race. Plus, hopefully, they'll never be stupid enough to all end up in the same place so they can be wiped out again...

The WWAF who's boyfriend/husband was killed was pointless - Yes, she was, if you expected her to be a subplot. But to symbolise the carnage that was going on as the war continued, to show that the Daleks weren't the only enemy? In that instance it worked. (I grant you, it was a little underwritten/heavy handed, but there you go). Plus she was only onscreen for about 3 minutes, so why focus so much on her?

How did they talk Bracewell out of exploding? This is the thing that's annoyed me the most. People complaining how the way the Doctor and Amy talked Bracewell out of going bang was 'unrealistic.' Unrealistic? Excuse me? By that point we've gone through Spitfires in space, Daleks, and god knows how much other unrealistic stuff, not forgetting the fact the whole show is based around the 'unrealistic' premise of a time-travelling alien who's spaceship looks like a 60's London police box! Gain a little perspective! Since we don't understand the bionics/electronics of creating the perfectly functioning human robot, it's hard to judge. I thought that since he had human memories and human instincts that he was able to calm himself down, and by doing that and embracing his humanity (and therefore his lust for life), he was able to control his robotic/electronic safeguards and they stopped the bomb.

How did they get the gravity shields on the Spitfires in time?
Dramatic Necessity.

The characterisation of the Doctor and Amy seems dull and uninteresting
Hi, here's a crazy pill, but no more for you, you've already had enough. Dull and uninteresting? We've got a Doctor who has such violent mood swings that he's almost as bad as the sixth Doctor, and a companion who has a complete love for him because she's dreamed about him for 14 years!

I could go on complaining about people who complain, but I won't because I'm better than that.

Also - Amy doesn't remember the Daleks? Has this got anything to do with the mysterious cracks? (I know what my money's on...)

The Good: Have I mentioned Spitfires in space?? :P The acting continues to be stellar, with Matt, Karen, Ian McNeice as Churchill and Bill Patterson as Bracewell all being superb. The new Daleks winning, which means that we can have new Dalek stories in future - and their new ranks allowing for a Dalek society to grow again.

The Bad: Yes, the new Daleks are slightly plastic-looking, and the Eleventh Doctor does seem to be developing a preference for leaving his companion behind (can you develop a preference over only two shows? Not sure...)


Next Week: The return of the character I've had the most ambivalence about in the whole of NuWho - River Song...