Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rage against the Luddites

I’m trying very hard to stick to the “if you haven’t got anything good to say, don’t say anything” maxim, but every once in a while, something has to give.

Russel T. Davies has, in his most recent Radio Times interview, opted to say one of the more crass things I’ve ever heard come out of the mouth of a human. While talking about Daleks being created in a genetic experiment (which, apparently makes them brilliant geneticists - just like Frankenstein’s monster was adept at lobbing together body parts to make pals...), he then goes on to say, “And in an age of GM crops and DNA experiments, that strikes a chord with all of us. I think we’re all slightly afraid of all this stem-cell research.”

Now, I’ll put up with so much before I snap, and this has done it for me.

From the above quote, RTD obviously doesn’t know what the purpose or methodology of stem-cell research is, what its ultimate benefits could be, or how genetics works. More importantly, ill-informed commenting in a public arena and potentially swaying the opinions of people by making such daft statements is what drove research back about ten years in the US.

Go tell Michael J. Fox, any Parkinson’s sufferer or anyone who’s had loss of function as the result of a spinal cord trauma that people should be scared of stem-cell research. Thanks a bunch, RTD.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Five of your Earth goals

The svelte and delectable Emily tagged me with a meme of my Five Goals.

So here we go:

1) Write and record an album of material I’m proud of. Not much of a request, eh? Hehehe... All of the things I’ve recorded across the eleventy-billion years of my life, whether with a band or as a solo artist, have always seemed a little not quite finished. Or at least, not as complete as I’d like. Any musos reading this will be rolling their eyes, knowing that one is never, ever satisfied with the finished product. Ah, but I didn’t say satisfied, did I? Just something to be proud of, before my left hand stops working for good and I’m unable to walk unaided. That would be nice, thankyouverymuchindeed.

2) Get my studio built. This kind of goes hand in hand with the next point, but as I have a 50-metre (150ft, for all the flat-earthers out there) back garden with an invitingly empty far end, coupled with a house with far too many computers, guitars, keyboards and other electronica crammed into it, I really ought to sort out my creative workspace and get a studio built. I'll probably be having one of these, should the finances work out. At least it should be easier to assemble than the shed, which took so much jiggling and botching it was unbelievable (big shout-outs to those who put the damn thing up - GD & Jos!).

3) Pay off my debt. I have far, far too much credit card debt dragging along behind me. Really quite horrible amounts. :-( So, across the next few years (yes, it really will take that long) I aim to reduce it to much more manageable levels, if not rid myself of it entirely. As the business is taking off again, that may not be too much of a stretch.

4) Stop being scared. Emily also had this in her version of these answers. I also have a propensity for backing out of difficult situations, presumably based on a fear of fucking up. Even though I’m an outgoing, gregarious type generally, I have black periods where I just can’t get moving at all and fail to see why anyone would be interested in what I have to say, or what I can do. This obviously becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Still, in reference to Emily’s post, I could always, always take out a clown if it got remotely threatening. I’m a mean motherfucker when I get shirty. ;-)

5) Get fitter. Passing forty hasn’t necessarily left me in a heap of extreme unfitness on the floor, unable to move, but it certainly has gracelessly pointed out a few of the things I don’t seem to be able to do of late. Not that this is irredeemably lost, just that I need to actually do something about it. I couldn’t give less of a shit about grey hair and wrinkles, I just don’t feel like carking it just yet.

And there you have it. Onto tagging others, here are some carefully selected victims...
Good Dog
Brian Sibley
Will Dixon
Alex Crouzen

So, go to it, my army of robot warriors! Conquer the world with your goal-tastic goodness!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Left wanting more

Hi all,

In a brief hiatus from twanging geetars and noodling about on the ol’ joanna in search of something less clichéd than I usually produce...

I’ve been swimming about in Life On Mars from Kudos. The debonair and erudite Dog of Goodness has a quote from Caitlin Moran about the finale of series two, where she’d claimed that there was both an ending for stupid people and one for clever people. I’m obviously nowhere near as clever as I’d like to have you all believe, as I’d only spotted the one for stupid people. There are spoilers ahead, for those of you who haven’t yet seen the finale...

I’d recorded the Life On Mars episode as it loses out in my book to CSI, which was on at the same time. Funnily enough, before seeing the LoM finale yesterday, I felt let down by the CSI episode (the one with Ned Beatty as a serial-killing dentist and Grissom off holidaying somewhere with less of a daily body-count...) as it seemed just a little too pat. Things fell into place in a manner that doesn’t usually happen in a CSI episode, even the ones where they’re gusting on at length about their innermost feelings and such. It was the sort of episode where, as the credits start to roll, you look at each other with a faintly bemused air of betrayal, a raised eyebrow and an ‘eh?’. Not one where you really go all Charlie Brooker, spitting blood at the screen and wanting to have the writers hung, drawn and chucked in a blender, but just leaving you with a vague sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction. And gloom.

It’s rather like going back to your favourite curry house, which you haven’t been to for months, anticipating a repeat of your last meal there (which was amazing) and finding out that, though the menu is the same, the kitchen staff have changed. The long-awaited meal arrives and, though it’s good, it just doesn’t quite do it for you. In the non-biblical sense, of course. Hem-hem...

Back to Life On Mars. A series storyline that dodged about nicely, never quite letting you know how it might resolve. A solid ensemble cast that, once I’d got over the sometimes shoddy representation of the 1970s (as it’s supposed to be in his head, it could indeed be as clichéd as it came across, with all the anachronisms flying about too), offered many touching moments of emotional depth that the writers could easily have abandoned in their rush to be all, you know, ’70s, maaan. The central character of Sam Tyler, a modern police officer somehow thrown back from the present day to the Manchester of 1973 is your fairly typical ‘fish out of water’, but with many worthy and well-developed traits as well as the obvious quest to find out how to get back to the present day.

Many pundits seemed to be harping on about the Big Question™ being whether 1973 was all in Sam’s head as he was in a coma in 2006, or whether he’d dreamed the future (startlingly accurately, as it happens, and not at all like the visions of the future we were sold in the ’70s) and was in fact from 1973 after all.

Umm, unless I missed a meeting, he was definitely from the 2006/7 era and the Big Question™ was whether he was imagining it all, or had actually somehow gone back in time. Theories abounded here at the Tower. Many of them related to Sam’s eventual return to the present day and what he might do when he did (that aspect of the storyline seeming to be a given). Would he search the records of the police force, and discover that the characters he dreamt up actually existed? Would he then try to track them down? Wouldn’t there be more in terms of drama and rug-pulling from beneath the audience in having him actually travel in time? There wouldn’t necessarily need to be an explanation of how (in fact, that might well prove ruinous), just close the episode with some lovely ‘oh wow’ sort of stuff.

So, even though Sam has arrived back in the present day and many of the odd names and references have now been explained - Hyde 2612 being his hospital room number, etc, etc. - having him actually discover an old photo with him and the team in it, or that Gene Hunt existed, or even something as murky as all the records from that era having been lost in a fire, but someone dimly remembering something that places him back then, would surely have been a more satisfactory (though wonderfully frustrating!) conclusion to the series.

I don’t know if I wasn’t paying enough attention (unlikely), but having the 1970s being purely a fiction created during the coma, the present day as dry and stultifying, and Sam’s eventual decision to kill himself to ‘return to the dream’ seemed like one of those ideas you have right at the start of the session, long before you come up with something a little less simplistic. Not that the episode was in any way simple. It nipped around like a demented thing, just about managing to hold on to the plot, before seemingly fizzling out and leaving the viewer with the same vague feeling of having been ever-so-slightly cheated.

Pity. I started to get quite into it by the end.