Monthly Archives: December 2011

BBC’s ‘Women of the Year’ list – WTF?

Meet the twelfth most significant woman of 2011...

It’s enough to make you wonder if the BBC are engaging in license fee funded trolling.

Not content with presiding over the recent Sports Personality of the Year debacle, which saw a grand total of no women being deemed worthy of nomination for the award, the dear old Beeb have now presented us with a list of the twelve most significant women of the 2011, which somehow includes Tian Tian, a giant Panda.

As I said, trolling.

If we’re now nominating female animals for this award, how about nominating fictional characters, too?  Kelly from “Misfits” – she’s a great role model for young women  (she’s a bloody rocket scientist, after all).

Okay, let’s not go with fictional women – and give the BBC ideas for next year’s list.  If we’re going to talk about young British women succeeding on the global stage, why not talk about the likes of Jessie J.?  I can personally take or leave her music, but she’s doing big things, writing and producing her own music, and somehow become a fashion icon into the bargain.

The Guardian are predictably pissed off at this apparent face-palm moment on the BBC’s website but there seems to be some question as to who actually signed off on this list – a writer is credited but denies responsibility for the content of the list, stating that he merely wrote up the selections of editors.

It just seems like the kind of avoidable, faintly stupid idea that should have been culled long before it ever saw publication – is everybody at the BBC’s web editorial department hibernating at the moment?

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A movie pirate’s top ten.

Over at Gawker, they’re reporting on upstanding, reputable news site Torrent Freak’s list of the top ten most downloaded movies of the year and there’s a few surprises to be had.

There’s no place for titles like “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2”, no “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, no “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” – the top three titles are “Fast Five”, “The Hangover Part 2” and “Thor” – a selection of sequels and a comic book movie leading the chart.

A movie pirate, yesterday...

Such snarking aside, it’s intriguing to see that outlaw heist hit, “Fast Five” topped the list and still managed to be the highest grossing entry in the series by some distance (easily a quarter-mile or so).  It doesn’t appear to follow that the most torrented movies of the year are ones which experience torrid times at the global box office, as the top three were all sizeable hits.

Further down the list, though, we’ve got a franchise wannabe in the form of “I Am Number Four” – that film ended up grossing a middling $55 million at the US box office and a further $89 million worldwide.  Not exactly numbers to be sniffed at but not the sort of figures which justify an ongoing franchise – and I’m sure that the producers of the movie must look at the presence of their film on this list and wonder if some of those downloading the film might have liked to drop a couple of pounds, dollars, euros or the like on a rental to pay them back a bit?

I know, I know – the deranged logic of a clueless blogger.  My bad.

 

 

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Fluffrick’s iPod Shuffle Follies

It’s one of those posts that I’ve meant to do for a while and never got around to doing – partly because it’s indulgent even for a blogger and partly because it risks exposing even more of my arguably questionable musical taste than I do during the regular course of my online writing.

Simply put – hit ‘shuffle’ on your iPod (other MP3 players are, of course, available) and see which unexpected joys present themselves.

Paramore - the trio years.

1) “Playing God” – Paramore (from “Brand New Eyes”).  Probably not my favourite song from this record – I’m quite partial to a bit of “Brick by Boring Brick” and “The Only Exception”.

Feeder - the street corner years.

2) “Just The Way I’m Feeling” – Feeder (from “The Singles”).  It’s okay – again, not my favourite Feeder song.  Where’s “Come Back Around” when you need it?

Gama Bomb - the Battle Jacket years.

3) “New Eliminators of Atlantis B.C.” – Gama Bomb (from “Tales From The Grave In Space”).  Two minutes and sixteen seconds of glorious, tongue-in-cheek NuThrash from Northern Ireland’s finest exponents of the genre.

Trivium - the 'standing around moodily in B&W' years...

4)“In Waves” – Trivium (from “In Waves”). Music which actually came out this year – surely some mistake.  The NWOAHM noiseniks crash back in with expansive, forward-looking, widescreen metal shenanigans.

Yellowcard - the 'defies captioning' years.

5)“For You And Your Denial” – Yellowcard (from “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes”).  From the pre-eminent masters of violin-assisted punk-pop tunefulness and their latest album.  Anecdotally, a great tune to listen to when you’re on the tram on the way back from Sheffield’s Cineworld multiplex and trying to block out the 14-year-old gangsta seated across from you who has seen “Scarface” one too many times.

What larks – anything untoward popping up on your playlists of late?

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When Customer Service Goes Wrong 2: Electric Boogaloo

Earlier in the year I told you about the Australian shop who chose to insult and belittle potential customers rather than assist them and encourage them to, you know, buy stuff.  We laughed about it and thought that nothing could top such an example of retail stupidity.

A concept apparently alien to shops these days...

Oh, how wrong we were.

Penny Arcade today runs down the sad tale of PA reader Dave and his travails with the PR representative for the Avenger video game controller company.

Not only does the PR guy – who might want to look for an alternate line of work, as his unique gifts don’t appear to fit with his current vocation – diss his customer’s legitimate complaint about a lack of contact and updates on his long-delayed order but he then rounds on PA when they tell him that his crappy attitude means that his outfit is not welcome at future PAX events.  Hilarity ensues.

In this perilous economy should companies really be acting in such a customer-alienating way?  Especially when your e-mail conversation is going to end up online on a site patronised largely by the client base that you which to attract?

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Hell freezes over – Van Halen to release album and tour in 2012.

Twiddly, with a hint of widdly.

Barring last-minute splits, spontaneous combustion or a rift in the space-time continuum, the unlikely has happened – not only have Van Halen announced a 2012 tour but an album is due, too (the first not on the Warner Brothers label since their 1978 debut).

I’m not sure how to feel about this – when long-time bassist Michael Anthony left and was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang, I couldn’t help but feel that a large part of the sound of the band went with him.  He wasn’t just a bassist but an instantly recognizable backing vocalist and the loss to their sound is an appreciable one.  I know that there are ways around that kind of thing in these heady technological days (backing tracks are wonderful things) but when the guy who’s been there since the Seventies isn’t there – well, it just gives me pause, to be honest.

Blabbermouth has more – including a video trailer which suggests that US tickets will be on sale from January 10.  Whether that means that shows in the rest of the world will follow is anybody’s guess (mine is – the alternate future of “Back to the Future 2” is likely to arrive before the Van Halen family and Diamond Dave show up in the UK).

 

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“Doctor Who” – trees, Mums, space marines. Oh my!

The Doctor saves Christmas...again.

Nobody wants a long “Doctor Who” review to read at Christmas – you’ve got left-over turkey to finesse into new and terrifying culinary forms (or, like me, the veggie alternative – sprout surprise a-go-go!) and post-Christmas sales to hunt bargains in.  Time is tight – even when you’ve got more of it than usual.

So, I’m going to try to keep my thoughts on the special episode short and devoid of annoying,over-entitled, sub-grad school bobbins, if that’s okay with you.  Cool.

This year’s “Who” saw the Doctor paying back a favour and getting into all kinds of ecological bother quite by chance – his efforts to give a grieving widow and her children a magical Christmas being upended by a case of mass planetary asset stripping.

The first thing to say about the episode is that the distinct Narnia vibe you might have gleaned from the promotional pictures before the episode aired was barely present in the televised episode.  Once we went through the Doctor’s magical Christmas portal – no sniggering, internet pervs – everything on the other side was a bit snowy, wintry and fantastical, but there wasn’t even so much as a hint of C.S. Lewis-style, unsubtle Christian allegory.

The story itself was fairly straightforward fare – Moffat didn’t take the opportunity to mess with the minds of Christmas telly viewers too much – and that was probably the right choice.  After a day spent cooking, unwrapping gifts, cleaning up the detritus of the big meal and trying not to lapse into a gravy-induced coma, I’m hard-pressed to imagine the all-important mainstream audience for this episode handling anything more complex than what was offered – and what was offered was just fine.

If you want a job doing properly, ask your Mum to do it...

Matt Smith was reliably excellent throughout, going from goofy alien clown at the beginning of the story to the ancient, all-knowing Timelord we know and delight in through the middle of the episode to imploring, oddly human picture of desperation as he exhorted Clare Skinner’s grieving mum to pilot her family home during the events of the climax.  It was a tour de force for him – and I find myself dreading the day that he leaves.

The rest of the cast was fine – I’ve not seen Claire Skinner in much else (I don’t watch her show “Outnumbered” and vaguely remember her from a Mike Leigh film back in the Nineties – apparently, she was also in “Sleepy Hollow”) but she did good work here, managing to embody motherly concern for her kids, suppressed, stiff upper lip shock at the apparent loss of her husband (Alexander Armstrong) and initial mistrust of the strange lanky caretaker leading her family astray.  She had a pivotal but in some thankless role – being the sensible adult who tries to stop the Doctor from doing the things that we want him to do – but held the centre of the story together, even during the odd lull.

Speaking of which, if anything disappointed in the episode, it was the appearance of Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir – or should I say, the way in which they were utilised.

I suppose that you don’t want your guest appearances to upstage the main actors in the piece, but it seems odd to me that such prominent comic actors were given roles which gave them so little to do and barely any funny material to work with.  There was a neat juxtaposition between their futuristic battle armour – part Master Chief, part Warhammer 40K space marine – and the woodland ranger responsibilities that their characters actually had, but their appearances were so brief as to make little if any impression.

Bill Bailey’s funny – give him a chance to prove it!

I feel that the core story and the reason that everybody was on the planet ultimately didn’t make a whole heap of sense – it was certainly more dealing with the ’emotional relationship fantasy’ side of recent “Doctor Who” than anything else – but I didn’t mind it particularly.  There were plot holes that you could have driven a transformed Optimus Prime through – what happened to the bomber crew when Madge dragged them home through the vortex – but I doubt that the non-Whovian audience cared too much for that.

This was a warm, family friendly tale about Christmas, snow, trees, baubles, family, togetherness and the horror of being alone at this time of year – the Doctor, being the ultimate outsider, got to reunite with the closest thing to a family he has in the closing moments of the episode.  It was sweet, underplayed and got Team Pond-Williams on-screen in a most welcome way.  Probably my favourite bit of the whole hour, to be honest.

Ranking things doesn’t really sit well with me – who really cares whether an episode is a place higher than another episode in an entirely arbitrary list? – but I have to say that I enjoyed last year’s Christmas episode a bit more.  And that had Katherine Jenkins in it, whose music I can’t abide.  This wasn’t by any means a disaster of an episode but it didn’t manage to fully hold my attention all the way through.

I’d be interested to see what next year brings us – would it be insanity to hope for a truly creepy festive ghost story from the pen of Moffat?

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Season’s Geekings

Give the gift of Carbonite Smuggler this Christmas...

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday entirely, I hope that your celebration, whatever form it takes, is peaceful, happy and gives you time to reflect on the year gone and the year to come.

Thank you for reading this blog throughout 2012 – I’ll be flinging uniquely stunning and revelatory content at your eye channels throughout the rest of the holidays (at least some of which won’t be reviews of nineties action flicks and terrible metal bands new albums), so check back and see what’s going on.

 

 

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