Sunday, 30 April 2006

May "Attitude" - Chris Fountain & Andrew Hayden-Smith

They're having something of an off month for piccies in the latest "Attitude. Cover boy is the actual new face of Calvin Klein (was that just conveniently timed PR fluff Shayne?) - Jamie Dornan, but the moody monochromes he poses for cut him off at the waist and the most you get of him is his bared nipples in one pic. Similarly the pic above accompanies a small interview with "Hollyoaks" idol, Chris Fountain - hardly the best photo I've seen of him either. And in a slightly longer interview with CBBC's chief totty, Andrew Hayden-Smith we're given one head and shoulders photo of him mid-laugh. Thankfully the interview is more rewarding - partly a catch-up a year on from his coming out in "Attitude" itself and partly to promote his return to acting in 2 Cyber episodes of "Doctor Who" (broadcast 13 & 20 May) where it is hinted his character is also gay! AH-S also reveals his type of guy is fellow actor Philip Olivier, coincedentally also now a part of the "Doctor Who" universe thanks to his Big Finish audios as companion Hex (he's on the cover of the latest CD, "The Settling" where the TARDIS crew confront Oliver Cromwell at Drogheda). Ooh, DO get them at the same convention please. The interviewer also reveals some online slash fiction to Andrew, where he gets horned up after a shower with "Neighbours" actor Kyal Marsh - now that's a very nice proposition!

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Stop Press! Lis Sladen on 'Breakfast' 27/4/06

Sarah Jane actress Elizabeth Sladen is putting in another promotional appearance for Saturday's "Doctor Who" episode alongside Dermot and Sian this morning on BBC1.

Retiring newsreader Anna Ford is also guesting on this edition.

Doctor Who - Series 2 - DVD Volume 2

Outpost Gallifrey have the cover of the second DVD release from the new series. Out in the shops on Monday 5 June, it contains the episodes "Tooth and Claw", "School Reunion" and "The Girl in the Fireplace".

The cover for classic series release "Inferno" was also revealed this week.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Doctor Who -"School Reunion" gallery up

A selection of images from episode 3 of the new series are up at the BBC site.

The lovely Lis Sladen was indeed on "Blue Peter" on Monday (screencaps appreciated) with K9, where she was interviewed by the equally lovely Gethin Jones. The latter revealed he'll also appear in the series squeezed into silver armour as a Cyberman! (Matt Baker briefly appeared as himself in last year's "Aliens of London").

Viewers please note "School Reunion" is broadcast at the slightly later time of 7.20pm on BBC1. At least no football over-run risk this time.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Freedom to strip

Proving that I'm not a moralising prude (anyone who knows me will wonder how anyone came to that conclusion) here's my take on a Scottish legislative move I'm uneasy about.

The Scottish Executive has decided they just can't ignore the pernicious evil of 'adult entertainment' as it is practiced in Scotland. Unfortunately, as with all areas of sexual propriety, they seem to be driven by a misplaced piety and (frankly) sexism. Politics treads in this arena with great care - unlike most aspects of life, it's not something where legislators lay their cards on the table - they're not about to come out as 'consumers' of adult entertainment, but they will presume to know what's good for the rest of us in this apparent vacuum of experience.

They have form in this - not long ago they needlessly placed criminal sanctions on anyone photographing people aged 16 and 17 - ie individuals perfectly capable of having sex with anyone they wished or signing up to die for their country - in a way that might be considered 'sexual' (by a random 3rd person). Equally this also theoretically placed a completely unenforceable law on prohibiting such images cropping up in Scotland, even if they are legal in the rest of the UK. You can just see copies of "Nutz" or "Sneak" being stopped at the border. While erroneously invoking the spectre of child porn (erm, 16 year olds?) they've just caused awkwardness and time-wasting completely out of proportion to any 'child protection' this affords.

Not that the male of the species is considered as anything other than sexual predator in either the aforementioned legislation or these recommendations on 'adult entertainment', which might as well have been drawn up by Andrea Dworkin or the Wee Frees. Men do work as performers in 'adult entertainment' but a prize to the first person who can quote where it's acknowledged by the working group. Just goes to prove how considerate and comprehensive their research was.

Please read the piece by Veronica Deneuve at the title link - this woman knows her stuff and is being ignored by the report authors who seem more concerned with what unaffected curtain twitchers might think. I have also placed her blog among my faves.

Matthew Fox - "Lost" RT cover

I was rather taken with this moist photo so I thought I'd share. "Lost" is back for the UK run of it's second series (kicking off with a 2 hour opener) on Tuesday 2 May on C4.

Inspired by "The Trouble With ... Gay Men" (BBC3)

I've tried to wait until seeing the actual programme until making major comment - I know Simon Fanshawe's companion piece for "The Guardian" has generated a lot of heat (and too little light) in the last few days. All the same, this will also be a bit of spleen venting on my own behalf, so not the 'review' I originally intended.

Some of the pre-emptive criticism I read was from people who didn't seem to realise this was part of a 'challenging the status quo' series with the same three word prefix and others that just knee-jerk reacted to this being a criticism of ALL gay men (I don't feel it was but can see why it was taken that way - 'the gay scene' was the more accurate target). Those who screeched 'homophobia' and "well he's not really gay then" are actually demonstrating that they're part of the problem Fanshawe is highlighting - this did emerge more effectively in the programme, most especially in the completely amoral sauna employee interviewed.

There is no such thing as a 'gay lifestyle'. Knocking what you perceive that to be does not equate to homophobia. Being gay is purely down to who you choose to have sex with. Period. Everything else is ghetto-spin . It's ironic that a scene that exists apparently to support freedom of sexual identity often seems inclined to manufacture 'good little identikit queens' in every other respect. We're just a compliant market profile and we're happy about it. We've lost any sense of purpose now that the important battles appear to have been won. The visibility and promotion for the community as a whole had mutated into visibility and promotion for the individual, our 'outlaw' credentials satisfied by barebacking and crystal meth. It's completely understandable that Fanshawe, a veteran of the gay rights struggles of the 70s and 80s, has a sense of "is this what we fought the war for?".

To me, I think it all comes down to 'convention' and 'fitting in' - the rest of the symptoms which so dismayed Fanshawe are circumstantial to actually being male without the baggage and expectations of heterosexual norms but also without proper role models. On the latter point I'm not sure the programme did itself a favour by having such a short contribution with the best gay role model it could conjure up (Brian Paddick), leaving the arguement for role models to be presented by Kristian Digby.

I don't think you have to be over 40 to realise the 'gay scene' can be just as alienating and limiting as the world outside it. Having possibly rejected the 'straight world' (including family in worst case scenarios) you don't want to burn another set of bridges so settle far too easily for merging yourself into just another, more arcane set of conventions, prejudices, etiquette and expectations. Having done that, there's no more journey - you're on the Circle Line unless you choose to get off the train. Up until recently there was no 'settling down' option clearly labelled, as there is for heterosexual men who face conflict between friends and partner at a certain point in life and have to decide to commit to one or the other. I'm not saying that's ideal either of course, but at least the option presents itself.

Having spent more than 10 years in London between the late 80s and late 90s I certainly sampled 'the scene' but tended to dip in and out rather than becoming a regular. Eventually I came to realise it was specific short-term things I dipped in for (possiblity of casual sex, maybe a favourite male stripper) while trying to blot out the aspects I didn't care for like the tenth-rate drag acts, the drugs, the banal music, the poor choice and poor value of drinks, and the suffocating cigarette smoke. Being a non-smoker and a "Doctor Who" fan I also soon discovered that 'straight' pubs (like Wetherspoons) actually had non-smoking areas and others (like 'The Fitzroy Tavern') held regular DW fan meetings. It soon dawned that I wasn't obliged to be gay man first at all times, and in doing so could always choose between the relative charms of both gay venues and non-gay venues on any given night.

At least I had the choice of going or not (why is the gay scene so concentrated in cosmopolitan conurbations where it's least needed?). Moving back to Scotland it's a whole new ball game - there are only a handful of towns and cities with any gay venues, and despite living so near one of them (Edinburgh) it's just not worth the hassle if you don't have a car, a gay friend with a car or actually live within the city. Being neither of these I don't fancy making special arrangements just to hang around a place that doesn't want me there. I find them just so parochial and judgemental - new faces are either leapt on as 'fresh meat' or given the "we don't like strangers round 'ere" treatment if you don't make the grade. As I've previously stated here, the smoking ban here may lead to a quickening of the culture change needed via an influx of 'too many' new faces at once. There's always a sense too that some of the biggest defenders of the gay scene aren't actually 'out and proud' at all and would blanche at the idea of visiting a 'straight' venue or putting their face on their Gaydar profile - no so much better to be a big fish in a small pond.

Anyway - why do we still have a ring-fenced 'gay scene' anymore? Do some venues even qualify for the tag when you have areas like Canal Street awash with straight 'tourists' on some exotic safari? Would it really matter at all if there were no exclusively gay venues? You can arrange a date on Gaydar and meet anywhere you like. Would it not be better if everywhere was mixed with no preconceptions of who was fancying who and who was 'with' whom - where you actually had to communicate rather than assume? Where you rated the venue purely on what it offered? Where the homophobes and heterophobes could just like it or lump it?

I apply the same logic to this as with my views on faith schools - that ghettoes are divisive, unhealthy all round and need challenging. I didn't agree 100% with Simon Fanshawe last night but he's has a major point that needs addressing and by basically trying to play a bogus victim card and refuse to take on board any criticism we'd not be moving on and evolving as we need to. This is not about moralising - it's about the fact we truly need to get out more - in every sense.

Monday, 24 April 2006

"Torchwood" crews up

As filming approaches on the adult "Doctor Who" spin-off, 2 more members of the team have been cast, according to a BBC press release today.

They are Burn Gorman (best known for "Bleak House") and Naoko Mori (best known for "Absolutely Fabulous" but reprising a character from last year's "Doctor Who").

It's shaping up rather well I think.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Doctor Who - Tooth and Claw (9/10)

Russell can do trad when he feels like it.

"Tooth and Claw" stylishly got the set-up out of the way in an action-packed pre-credit sequence and confined most of the whimsy to early scenes - this was a good old 'base under seige' situation with fan-friendly Victorian-Gothic trappings. A lot of the criticisms of episode one (where whimsy hovered throughout) really can't be fired at "Tooth and Claw", unless you're a miffed Royalist. If anything was lacking it was with some of the CGI werewolf stuff, even though I realise the trouble they went to with it. At times it did look like a real living creature, but the motion scenes didn't quite convince (a problem they had with the improbably athletic Slitheen last series).

Personally I was also pleased that "The Sun" hadn't quite given everything away, as feared. The tabloid had flagged up the Koh-I-Noor diamond and the 'telescope' as the elements which combined to 'drown' the alien werewolf in moonlight, but I was unaware this was the 'trap within a trap' engineered by the late duo of Prince Albert and Sir Robert's father. I was particularly impressed with the second 'twist' in the tale (the first being Queen Victoria's wolf bite) where the Queen unexpectedly turns on the Doctor and Rose and banishes them from 'her world'. I'm sure there's something in all that I'm not quite getting, but that's intrigue for you. In possibly a third twist it is then Queen Victoria not Harriet Jones who sets up the Torchwood Institute - to keep the Doctor away! I'm so pleased those surprises were kept from me. Is Torchwood this year's theme or is it the secret the Face of Boe has so far only teased us with?

Very little plotholes to speak of (RTD's weakness) despite rather a lot going on. If I was being really picky, the backstory, motivation and culture of the monks and their very patient wolf was sketchy and had to be taken at face value. There had been actual Scottish monarchs since the alien arrived in the 16th century and who was ultimately in charge, given that the monks appeared to have trained the creature with a mistletoe aversion ? Anyway - it was worth it for the martial arts set-piece at the story's outset, and I thought the skinhead ninja monks were very sexy ...

In contrast, Queen Victoria was well served - her steely character and the real contemporaneous assassination attempts were skillfully woven into the plot - even the ungrateful act at the episode's end could be a result of the wolf taint. Line of the episode for me was "The correct form of address is Your Majesty" as Victoria fired her pistol at head villain, Father Angelo. I must add that Pauline Collins was magnificent in the role - one she's actually a few years too old to play! Not many other guest players got too much screen time, except perhaps Derek Riddell as the ultimately heroic Sir Robert.

One other nice touch was the brief continuation of the "Bad Wolf" theme - it begged to be addressed here and it was - in a spooky conversation between 'The Host" and Rose that harked back to events in "Parting of the Ways".

Praise again to Euros Lyn, whose efforts on 2 episodes last year seemed rather overlooked in favour of later Joe Ahearne and James Hawes' episodes. I think he's up there with the best directors who manage to create beauty and atmosphere as well as tension. This year the lovely Euros has 3 period pieces (and a 2012) - ironic for someone who looks like an overgrown skaterboi!

To keep it 'pure' I'm purposely authoring my reviews without seeing or hearing others' views, and after only one viewing. I may add something extra after the Sunday BBC3 repeat. So it's a 9 from me - equal with 2005's "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" and "The Christmas Invasion". For those who really can't stand RTD's episodes this was the last of six consecutive contributions, with 8 weeks to go until the next one in June.

I also wonder how many people spotted the TARDIS hadn't really moved since last week - the same windswept Gower location was used (in the same week of September) for both exteriors.

Outpost Gallifrey Episode Guide entry (with screengrabs)

Screengrabs used here by Bunnyp00

Friday, 21 April 2006

My Spring itinerary

For those interested I'll be on a couple of jaunts during May. From the 6th to the 13th I'm in Benderloch (near Oban) hoping for the same glorious weather as last year's trip.

Also, from the 19th to the 22nd I'm down in Manchester for a meet-up with a group of pals - there's even been talk of a Eurovision barbecue!

Doctor Who - DWM Issue 369 cover

I don't normally put the Monthly covers up but I'm just so fond of these classic companions (who reappear in the new series on 29 April in "School Reunion") that it just had to be. Both Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) and John Leeson (K9) are also guesting on next Monday's "Blue Peter" to preview the episode.

Cricket Totty - Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff

Thought this was a cute pic of the lovely chunky Freddie (Cricket's blond totty against David Beckham for soccer and Johnny Wilkinson for rugby) though not the infamous one where "The Sun" felt obliged to airbrush out what they felt was an erection on the pitch.

Apparently done to trumpet Sky Sports transmitting the three England tests against Sri Lanka (May), Pakistan (July) and Australia (November),

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Doctor Who - "Tooth and Claw" gallery up

A gallery of official pics from episode 2 of the new series is now up at the BBC's official site, bristling with ninja monks, Queen Victoria, a very big telescope and ... the werewolf.

I loved the vaguely comic-strip montage I've reproduced above.

The Linklog

I've added a 'linklog' at the right-hand column as fom today. Just to explain, it lists an updated list of usually news links I've felt worthy of note if not maybe worth an immediate post of their own. Only the 20 latest will display at any time. The smaller text under the title link are my own comments on the topic.

Check them out!

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

BBC wages revealed

The top 10 salaries in full (I dunno who John Smith is either):

1. Terry Wogan (R2) £800,000 2. Chris Moyles (R1) £630,000 3. Chris Evans (R2) £540,000 4. Jonathan Ross (R2) £530,000 5. Mark Thompson (DG) £459,000 6. Mark Byford (Dep DG) £457,000 7. Steve Wright (R2) £440,000 8. John Smith £387,000 9. Ross Kemp (Eastenders)£380,000 10. June Brown (Eastenders) £370,000

( with thanks to "The Guardian" )

In fact Jeremy Paxman gets more than any of these, with a combined salary for "Newsnight" and "University Challenge" of over £1m. Dunno how "The Guardian" missed that.

Interesting to see how colleagues feel about all this - I'm not really too surprised or horrified at the sums when you consider those in football - as I read that 4-days-a-week Mark Radcliffe earns £4000 more at R2 than 5-days-a-week veteran Ken Bruce. That must hurt. And it will be interesting to see whether Chris Evans remuneration is for his new (and controversial) drivetime slot or his previous once-a-week show.

The next format war: HD DVD v Blu-Ray

It's VHS v Betamax all over again, as the first of the formats (HD DVD) hits the shelves today.

For the record, my weight is behind Blu-Ray, due to the industry names attached, though it's anyone's guess who will win. As the VHS victory proved, it's not always the better format.

Butlers in the Buff ... in Scotland

From last Sundays "News of the World", evidence that the "Butlers in the Buff" service has crossed the border. The 21 year olds interviewed in the piece - Chris Hogg and James Gilberton - were both students at Scottish universities, and getting paid £20 an hour for their trouble.

Incidentally, the company also cater for gay customers ...

Tennis totty - Colin Fleming

Noticed this one from last week's Edinburgh Evening News - Linlithgow-based tennis player Colin Fleming, a 21 year old with sights on Wimbledon 2006. Wouldn't mind seeing more of him ...

"Prison Break" beef

A couple more scans I've had since January (though I've still yet to catch the actual programme on Five) are Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell who play the buff brothers at the centre of things.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Doctor Who: New Earth (8/10)

A review by the artist previously known (on Outpost Gallifrey) as Cobalt ...

Obviously this contains many spoilers if you've yet to watch the episode - you have been warned!

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by this one given some of the press reactions at last month's screening, and there has been some truth in the adage that Russell T Davies' own scripts for the series are among the weakest, certainly in plotting (though that is as much to do with the strength of the rest). However, apart from the fairly unnecessary farewell scene in the pre-credits sequence I was thoroughly entertained and thrilled by the 'white-knuckle ride' the continuity announcer promised.

I think we all knew about the return of the 'bitchy trampoline', Lady Cassandra and I for one was not hugely surprised to see Zoe Wannamaker eventually swan around in person this time. The twist here was that she was not the villain of the piece, more of a distraction for the Doctor as she possessed Rose's body for a large part of proceedings. When Rose first encounters 'the last human' this time she's in the basement, playing back past glories on an old-fashioned film projector a la Norma Desmond. Cassandra got all the best lines but they were spread between several actors as the body swapping went manic later on. David Tennant particularly relished his 'Cassandra moments' ("Two hearts! Oh baby, I'm beating out a samba!", "So many parts ... and hardly used!") Importantly, the briefest swap - into the body of a zombie 'lab rat', finally affected Cassandra's unhealthy obsession with staying alive at whatever cost, mirroring a theme of the episode.

The latter scenes where Cassandra has been persuaded to make a very final body-swap into her dying acolyte, Chip (Sean Gallagher) and the Doctor transports her back to a nightclub for 'her finest hour' (as Debbie Harry might vocalise) were moving. The much younger and much more human (in every sense) Cassandra is paid the very compliment she later recalls so warmly by her future self in 'Chip' form . 'Chip' then abruptly collapses and dies, cradled in the arms of 'Cassandra the younger' who is now pleading for medical help for the stranger. The more you think about it the more poetic her fate becomes.

But that was the B plot - the chief peril was that created in the luxury hospital by the feline Sisters of Plenitude. Their claim was that they could cure everything - even the Doctor is initially amazed at the efficacy of their treatments - but they have done so by breeding 'human meat' in countless 'cells' beneath the facility, regularly infected with every disease, and ruthlessly incinerated at first sign of consciousness. When Cassandra's attempt to blackmail the Sisters fails she and Chip liberate all the lab specimens as "Plan B", clumsily forgetting their touch is fatal. As she is 'renting out' Rose at the time, the Doctor has to rescue her from the released 'zombie hordes' while the hospital is quarantined from nearby New New York. Here's where the moral of the story comes to the fore, as these zombies are monstrous metaphors for the lab animals we humans currently breed and use for medical science. Though it's never directly stated I think RTD's message is that we should be as morally disgusted with that practice as the Doctor is here. My views differ. The solution involved a auto-disinfecting lift (MRSA plagued hospitals please note) and a swashbuckling Doctor brandishing a multi-coloured cocktail of drip bags, possibly a bit similar in it's immediate success to that seen in "The Doctor Dances" last season. Ah, what did become of nanogene technology by the year 5 billion?

Then there was the promise of a season plot-arc opening with the presence of another Platform One alumni - the Face of Boe. The only patient the Sisters couldn't cure (Boe had a terminal case of age) also spoke for the first time, though technically it was telepathy. Alas, the message he had to pass on was that he'd basically pass it on later "Textbook enigmatic" as the Doctor so rightly put it as FoB dematerialised.

I can really only pick small holes in this one like the ropey effects on when the Sisters got poxed and the cheesy NNYPD bust so I nearly gave a 9 out of 10, but suspected that might just be euphoria at having the show back. It just so tickled my fancy last night. Only one viewing so far though.

8m viewers!

Screencaps by Bunnyp00

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Doctor Who - the wait is almost over!

Only hours to go now until series 2 gets underway for 13 weeks - my recent illness has subdued my more demonstrative enthusiasm, but I assure you it's there. It was a lovely surprise on Thursday evening to find BBC Digital (Freeview 302) looping a 3 minute extended trailer, featuring tantalising clips from the majority of the new episodes. I kept it going for half an hour so I'm probably word perfect on it now. It looked stunning, though one clip underlined a worrying habit of returning to the same time periods rather too often. Surprisingly I've not seen screencaps of this or the more trad BBC trailer on the net as yet.

Shall return later with my review of episode 1 -"New Earth".

BBC3's Manchester Passion

Having been infuriated yesterday that my bank unusually closed for Easter Friday and thus left me broke until Tuesday (thanks Clydesdale - revenge is going to be even sweeter) I was probably even less sympathetic than usual to any Easter 'message'.

Anyway, after a large dose of "Sahara" repeats on UKTV History I switched to BBC3 for "The Manchester Passion", where Jesus' last 24 hours was set to "Manchester hits" of recent decades live in the city centre on a Friday night! I'm an atheist but familiar from primary school days with the plot and vaguely aware of the "passion play" concept which has already taken various forms. Of these forms this was always going to be the most risky and ambitious I'd heard - in fact I initially thought it was a joke when I heard of the plans a few months back. But "well-played" I'd say on evidence of last night - it struck exactly the right balance between respect for the source and the faith while adding appropriate layers of contemporary relevance, inclusivity and even humour (the orchestra all wore boxy white trainers while the burger bar which catered their "Last Supper" was tended by a guy engrossed in "The Da Vinci Code"). There was also a touch of irony in the fact that the only cast member who was actually from a hit act was Tim Booth of James, playing Judas (but looking like Emperor Ming) - he was left offstage while Jesus and his remaining disciples sang the anthemic "Sit Down". Some of the chosen songs I felt went a bit flat when stripped of their normal context ("Cast No Shadow" was just dull and repetitive) or had a rather tenuous Manchester link ("Angels" obviously fitted magnificently but even if Take That could be considered a Manchester band, Robbie Williams the solo artist is from Stoke-on-Trent). Also the song lyrics popped on and off-screen at random, which was annoying. Altogether more hits than misses though - Keith Allen was an engaging and challenging host who metamorphosed into a sharp-suited Pilate for the latter stages and in a final twist merged the two roles as he closed the 'scripted' show with thank yous only to be upstaged by the resurrected Jesus, who was picked out in white light under the clock of the Town Hall singing (of course) "I am the Resurrection". And the gimmick of having the 'players' reach the Albert Square stage from one end of the city centre - Cathedral Square - while a giant illuminated crucifix was carried through streets from another end - Chorlton Street - was rather clever. The metaphor of Jesus as generic rebel against prevailing authority was underlined too, notably being brought before Pilate in orange overalls. I should mention too the brilliant central performance by Darren Morfitt, though his accent veered a little north-east of Manchester at times.

Here's a rather good review in "The Guardian".

Bad Loser

There's a certain type of politician that seems to be gaining prominence on the world stage. They're not related by creed, ideology or anything logical like that - all they are are populist grandstanders bluntly telling the people what they want to hear, especially if it upsets those outwith their electorate or fiefdom, but all the while following their own selfish agendas. To me they act like big kids who want all the toys and refuse to give them back. Whatever can be said of Bush and Blair (and I could say a lot) they haven't quite hit that low watermark yet, whereas the deposed Saddam still talks the talk from the dock. The other most abominable current examples are Mugabe in Zimbabwe and "Ach -Ma-Dinner-Jacket" in Iran (and I have increasing reservations about Hugo Chavez), neither of whom seem to be going away any time soon. Thankfully another chronic case looks on the way out, but in a typically inelegant fashion. I speak of that fine, upstanding and not-at-all-criminal-oh-no Silvio Berlusconi. If you crossed Rupert Murdoch with one of the dodgier members of UKIP you might be close to a UK version. I've never seen a more textbook example of the term 'bad loser'.

Friday, 14 April 2006

The Lure of the Swiss ...?

I can think of at least 3 obvious flaws in this rather naff promotion:
  1. Doesn't Switzerland have a football team? And have they not qualified?
  2. Not only girls are immune to the charms of the World Cup (and some girls love it)
  3. It's not only girls that might be interested in 'Swiss hunks"
I remember World Cup 1998 being the worst example of this half-baked sexist thinking, when those of us who didn't want wall-to-wall football on our telly or down the pub thought "Hey, let's go to the cinema" only to find all the summer blockbusters had been hastily put back until after the competition ("The X Files", "Lost in Space" and "Godzilla" included) so that there was just chick flicks on offer. I had hoped this mistake had been learnt from but maybe the Swiss are a bit slow.

The dreaded Lurgey!

I should have been a bit more active over the past few days but I've been struck by the rather nasty cold that's been going about. It was difficult to concentrate between the coughs and sneezes and headaches. I even had to take Wednesday and Thursday off work, which is very rare for me these days.

Hopefully I think today might be the turning point as I've actually managed to cough up something suitably nasty coloured and my sinuses seem to be drying out. Had two rather uncomfortable nights too - shivering with cold on Thursday morning and only last night burning up with something that gave my mind a scary workout. It completely warped my sense of time - having gone to bed at 9.30 I suffered intense illogical onslaught (completely random words kept forming in my head and I kept giving myself absurd mental exercises - every time I let my eyes shut, my mind was asking me to guess the shape of my thoughts and other such bollocks) so was glad to be woken from it. I looked for the clock, assuming it was around 5am. It was 10pm! Tried to get off again and next time I 'woke up' I felt it must surely now be at least 4am - it was exactly midnight. I was in a sweat and my head was still buzzing. So I gave up and came downstairs to make some coffee and catch some TV for a couple of hours. I took a paracetemol and went back to bed, but I left the radio on as a 'legitimate' distraction just in case. Glad to report that I woke up at 8-ish this morning after nearly 5 hours normal sleep.

If I am getting better today then at least it's timely for the Easter break. Especially as Spring seems to have kicked in at last. In fact I was lying flat out on the lounge carpet for around an hour sunbathing yesterday, something that may have contributed to my 'fever' last night.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

"Doctor Who" - mega "Radio Times" cover!

As promised we get another special RT cover to kick off the second series - the first new series cover to actually feature any people!

Click the title link to see the full fold-out glory!

Also check to get a backstage view of the cover shot being made. And if you ever wondered how mant people you can squeeeze into the TARDIS - this photo says 147 cast and crew!

For the wary, I should say RT is fairly short on spoilers - certainly of the picture variety. But if you didn't know the 'baddies' in any of the episodes then steer clear of even the full cover.

Shayne Ward in his pants ...

Last year's "X Factor" winner (I can't go near anything with Miss Cowell in it) and thief of the No1 Christmas single (it should have been "The JCB Song") has apparently landed a job modelling for Calvin Klein. He'll be following names such as Mark Wahlberg, Travis Fimmel and Freddie Ljungberg who have also dropped 'em for the underwear label. God knows how he's known outside the UK mind!

So, no scans as yet to bring you. Though I avoid his singing, this is a much more suitable career path for the rather comely Mancunian I think.


Saturday, 8 April 2006

England's Rugby Gladiators

Kicking off a bit of a catch-up period with my scans. This rather unseasonal lot springs from late January and the start of this year's Six Nations tournament. Below is the main pic featuring all 8 of the chosen 'gladiator models' from the 29 Jan edition of the "Mail on Sunday"s "Live" magazine supplement.

Rather than clog up the page with all the scans, here's a clickable breakdown:
Main pic left panel (Josh Lewsey, Harry Ellis, Danny Grewcock & Pat Sanderson)
Main pic right panel (Mike Tindall, Olly Barkley, Lewis Moody & Mark Cueto)
Olly Barkley, Mike Tindall, Josh Lewsey 1 (cover)

Olly Barkley, Mike Tindall, Josh Lewsey 2
Pat Sanderson & Danny Grewcock
Harry Ellis
Mark Cueto
Lewis Moody

Friday, 7 April 2006

Doctor Who in Glasgow etc

I opened the papers this morning to find that, after Bird Flu, the other subject consistently splashed on was "Doctor Who" - episode 2 of the new season, to be specific. There were 2-page colour spreads in "The Sun", "Daily Record"and "The Scotsman" for starters!

This was down to a special screening of "Tooth and Claw" held at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow yesterday with David Tennant, Billie Piper and Russell T Davies attending. Why wasn't I invited? I'm unsure whether every episode this year will be previewed like this, though it's more likely it was to keep the tartan media on side for an episode set (but NOT filmed) in Scotland. If they're off at some secondary school next week for a "School Reunion" screening, then it's the former.

Unfortunately for some, the coverage is heavy on spoilers and photos- in fact "The Sun" virtually gives the entire plot away (as far as I know). Fortunately, the reviews are very good if slightly concerned with the 'darkness' of this one.

At least my bafflement at the incongruity and relative scruffiness of both the Doctor and Rose's costumes in this Victorian episode has been banished.

Here are the available internet links - beware that some will expire :
The Herald
The Scotsman
Daily Record
Glasgow Evening Times

Meanwhile, there's been several other developments and announcements recently. Most notably are the 'TARDISodes', which are specially produced 'prologue' pieces (as opposed to trailers) lasting a minute each and can be downloaded free to mobile phones. The first one, for "New Earth", is already available, while the rest will follow on prior to each episode in the run.

While this coming Sunday (the 9th) BBC3 has a special "Doctor Who Night" lined up complete with a brand new "Doctor Who Confidential" documentary. Series 1 and "The Christmas Invasion" will also get a repeat run during the 'countdown' week.

But that's STILL not all - "Totally Doctor Who" is another new development for series 2. It's a CBBC production aimed at giving younger fans a glimpse of the next episode. Barney Harwood presents.

It's also been announced that the first two episodes at least will go out at the slightly later time of 7.15pm on BBC One.

The New Financial Year: Year Zero

I'm hoping Spring is to herald a fresh start for many things - I started the blog last month and this week got my mobile phone working again, but most radically I'm about to join the growing percentage of the populus declaring personal bankruptcy.

This option to resolve my chronically woeful finances (termed 'sequestration' up here I believe) has bobbed on the horizon before, when I've attempted less drastic measures but they ultimately failed too.

I'm sure many would think as I did - "that's the coward's way out" and "he's hardly on the breadline is he?" but I've finally realised that firstly, that's really not relevant and, secondly, my piece of mind (and that of my exasperated family and friends) deserves it.

My 'life' has slowly degraded through lack of cash, so that even buying a CD is a possibly once-a-month indulgence and I really have to wear my one pair of shoes until they fall apart. My food is largely out of ready-meal packets supplemented only by 'pasta and sauce' combos and the occasional 'event' of a casserole. I get asked where I'm going my holidays and I have to say 'home' except for when my Dad invites me to freeload along to Oban or Nairn. One friend in particular has an annoying habit of asking 'are you going to buy that?' whenever I merely nod approval of a product or release, placing an extra dollop of consumer pressure on me. And that's the friend I see most often. Often itself means approximately once a month - the rest of my friends may have to wait months or years to catch me in person as I can't justify the travel costs to myself. Also it's my pensioner Dad who is often left picking up my slack when my balance turns red every month and that's not fair.

I have some fears about all this but the option actually now seems like grasping the nettle. It means I'm poison as far as an credit goes for 3 years (I think), but that's my current situation anyway. I don't own a house or car and my most obvious physical 'asset' is a 6 year old iMac which is probably worth peanuts now. Actually it's the less tangible assets I have that have been subjugated and frustrated in the past few years, most notably the photography sideline which has been deprived of capital despite bags of enthusiasm on my part and widespread appreciation from others. During the lean years it's just not possible to build up a steady body of work - a critical mass of a portfolio. In future I may even be able to get another website going and actually PAY models!

Another three points to put this in context: I've not got a passport, my last dental appointment was in 1995 and my specs (which now regularly fall off my face) date from 1997.


Goodbye Metrosexuals, hello Ubersexuals and Heteropolitans!

And homosexuality is meant to be confusing? Don't worry Gavin, I still fancy you.

Dunfermline in April

These were taken yesterday, on a gloriously sunny but effin' freezing evening in the town. Mostly taken around the Abbey, though the last is of the Glen Gates at dusk.
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Thursday, 6 April 2006

Camp up your Day!

I really had to contribute to sharing this further (click post title). Found via Scott-o-Rama.

What do you get if you add a hint of Chippendales, a pinch of "Brokeback Mountain" and a large dollop of ice-skating?

Be sure to stay for the punchline at the very end ...

Playgay in the UK?

Just as Apple announces Boot Camp is to run Windows XP on MacOSX machines, it appears others are 'embracing the enemy' too. Hugh Hefner's daughter is eying up the British pink pound. I'm agog with anticipation!

A further thought - they might do well to start by buying up current 'brands' like the lacklustre Millivres/Prowler operation or Northern & Shell's extortionate (£4.99 per night plus £10 set up fee!) Gay TV. Or both?


Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Bird Flu hits UK ... in Fife

News is coming through that tests on a dead swan have tested positive for bird-flu (tho not confirmed yet as the H5N1 strain) and it's in Fife. They'll only say it's in Sir Menzies Campbell's consituency so far (the complete opposite end of Fife from me).

DoctorVee (in Kirkcaldy) has a philosophical view on this

Update 1409 BST 6 April 06:

H5N1 now confirmed on BBC News 24 as the media scrum descends on Cellardyke. However, while Tony Blair fielded questions on this from Irish journos at a press conference on the future of the NI Assembly and the SNP are ranting that Jack McConnell must return forthwith from 'Tartan Day' to deal with the situation, most are taking a cautious rather than alarmist approach (even if some think the whole disease is a media construct). This may change if 2 dead swans found today in a Glasgow park also prove to have expired the same way.

I certainly won't stop eating chicken or eggs or suchlike, and would urge everyone to take this sane approach. Waitrose please note. H5N1 has been present in Scotland before and was eradicated then.


Nina Simone - new Groovefinder remix single

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Heard this just as I woke up this morning and was rather impressed, tho I didn't recognise the track until the Nina Simone vocals kicked in. It's quite a different treatment.

Apparently it's from a Muller commercial and smooths the way for a new 'greatest hits' compilation (featuring this remix) later this month. Here's the ad for it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Jody Latham in "The Street"

"Shameless" viewers (or Cosmo readers) may already be aware of the charms of young actor Jody Latham, but his latest role sees him rigged out in footy kit, looking even more scrumptious. This scan comes from the "Radio Times" article which introduces a new BBC One drama, "The Street" (not to be confused with the Coronation variety). It's the latest output from the acclaimed Jimmy McGovern and starts (even in Scotland!) on Thursday 13 April.
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That'll Teach 'Em - Series 3

There's always a whiff of fetish about this series (possibly why it appeals) which returns for a third run on Channel 4 tonight. Unlike the ITV series "(Bad) Lads Army" which it so obviously inspired (same stable) there is a bit more of an educational and experimental angle here, though the producers are having some fun with the themes and stereotypes too.

Having dipped into 1960s grammar schools last time, the show returns to the 1950s once more but this time splits the boys from the girls, to see the effect of a single-sex education. Dunno if they'll deal with the issue of actual sexuality - the hunch is that the lack of distraction from the opposite sex increases academic achievement (esp for boys) but if you were gay, that would surely cancel out?

Anyway, the wacky Simon Warr is back - now promoted to Headmaster - so it's bound to be high on ham.

The Smoking Ban 2

I've had the chance to visit both gay and 'str8' pubs in Glasgow, Dunfermline and Edinburgh now.

One thing is for sure - the ban on smoking has not emptied them. I was in Lloyds at the Omni Centre yesterday evening and for the first time ever I couldn't find a seat!This was around 6pm on a Monday. Even more bizarre was that the smoking area outside was largely empty for much of the time, even on a sunny April day.

The exception may be the gay pubs and clubs. I went straight on to 'Planet Out' and found myself rattling around with about half a dozen people (that included the barman). On the upside, I got cruised twice during my short stay - that almost NEVER happens! Again some gay non-smokers are setting foot in these places for the first time now that the smoke has cleared.

This may all be a novelty effect in the early weeks and will settle again. However if the increase in demand I saw at Lloyds continues, the hospitality industry is going to have to consider increasing capacity

Monday, 3 April 2006

The Return of Robin Hood

The BBC has unveiled their new Robin Hood as filming begins in Budapest.

The lead actor is Jonas Armstrong (from "Teachers" and "Ghost Squad"), with Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

It will play for 13 episodes in the "Doctor Who" slot on Saturday nights in the autumn.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

More "Doctor Who" totty - Tom MacRae

Looking cute enough to go before the cameras himself this is whizzkid scripter Tom MacRae who has written the key 2-parter in Season 2 which re-introduces the Cybermen (due to air in the UK on 13/20 May).

Tom is only 26 but has also written for "Mile High", "As If", "No Angels", "Marple", "Mayo" and the Paris Hilton movie "Nine Lives". He's also got a children's book out called "The Opposite".

The photo comes from the newly out "Doctor Who Magazine", issue 368, where Tom is interviewed.

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April "Attitude" - Freddie & Eddie

Presenting a couple of lovely scans from the latest issue.

Arsenal's model player, Freddie Ljungberg is the cover star and in the accompanying interview he tackles the rumours over his sexuality head on (he's not).

There's also a list of "The Top 10 Hottest Football Studs" with added 'nicknames' for each, namely

1 - Freddie Ljungberg ("the model")
2 - Joe Cole ("the porn star")
3 - Steven Gerrard ("the body")
4 - Cristiano Ronaldo ("the twink")
5 - Ashley Cole ("the enigma")
6 - David Bentley ("the scally")
7 - David Beckham ("the metrosexual")
8 - Alan Smith ("the pretty boy")
9 - Cesc Fabregas ("the latino lovely")
10 - James McFadden ("the rough trade")
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And here is gorgeous 19 year old French actor Edouard Collin, who stars as a horny gay teenager opposite Jean Marc Barr in the new film "Cockles and Muscles" in cinemas here from 14 April (probably not at your local multiplex mind you)
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