Monday, 20 August 2018

And Another Thing.

What a mad folly it must have seemed to dare to continue with series of books whose every aspect, every expression of singularity, is totally inseparable from the man who wrote them. Douglas Adams  mad universe which proved to be prophetic in a completely inaccurate way. Like only a proper fortune teller could have done. Anyone can be wrong. It takes gradations of genius to get things so wrong they almost seem plausible.That is were people like Douglas Adams come in. This very notion made me wonder if Irish writer Eoin Colfer might be too good to jemmy himself into the arrow niche of scientific savant and humorous storyteller or does he take himself as seriously as say Philip Pullman who seems to treat humor like the last caravan park at the end of the universe. I am pleased to say he is not, which in this case is all he needs to slip into a pair of Zaphod's cast of  silver moon boots (Which almost no one can wear with the necessary degree of aplomb.)
              Most of the old familiar names and faces have come back for another extraordinary get together. Fate,destiny and bizarre experience has not taught them this is a situation best avoided if one longs for a quiet life. So hello once again to Arthur and Ford, Trillian and Zaphod Beedlebox once again. Writer Eoin Colfer is particularly good at tapping into the Zaphod in Zaphod. Oh yes, he puts the Beedle into Beedlebrox. There are also a number of unemployed Gods knocking around the edges of this story. One of the draw backs to being a God in this scenario being the fact they become diminished the moment they become an entry in that extraordinary book The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Universe.Certain professions require a degree of mystique and nothing diminishes mystique quite like flat notation for easy access.
                 Almost every adaption of Hitch Hikers Guide to The galaxy and its sequels have something in them that extends and cements Douglas Adams creations in the crowded jumble of the shared cultural zeitgeist. Now that notion extends to the work not written by the man himself although many probably, and quite reasonably, feel that the work should have come to an end with Douglas Adams departure from the stage. I think that while some people choose to believe that sacred cows must be left untouched I see no harm in taking them for a wee walk every now and then. If for no other reason than to prevent them becoming stiff and tired.
                  Some familiar aliens return also but then every one in a Hitch Hikers novel is an alien but there  is no need to panic (Ahem.) its nothing a well seasoned traveler cannot cope with. Just make sure you remember to bring your towel with you.

                                                    Neither of these iterations of Marvin
                                                            appear in Another Thing,
                                                              him being quite dead.
                                                     That is not a spoiler by the way, more
                                                         a fervent wish on Marvin's part.


Good Bye To Berlin.

Had a bit of a Christopher Isherwood double whammy ( oh er Vicar!). Read the book and watched the DVD of the BBC adaption. The book was no where near as eye brow raising or even provocative as I had been lead to believe ( a common enough experience for anyone raised an Irish Catholic I suppose.). I found it quite touching in a cranky sort of fashion and liked the Germanic kitchen sink decadence, An age of horrors was awakening all about the main characters but all seemed oblivious in their quest for their own personal slice of heaven, mostly to be found in the perfectly formed arms of German rent. It is beautifully realised in the BBC adaption of the novel, with the smoke filled shadowy beer cellars all lovingly homo erotically lit and filled with German beef cake in its prime, all sexily displaying their wares in tight white vests and snug braces...phew, I will have some of that, please.
           I almost did actually. They filmed this adaption of Isherwood's novel in Belfast. Transforming, very cleverly, Belfast city center streets into those of  early thirties Berlin. It was most impressive to see some of those run down back streets morph into another age, another locale with a bit of clever dressing and a few strategically placed flags and street furniture. I was on my way into work one sunday morning and was politely redirected down an alleyway as my normal route was straight through where they were shooting. As I dandered down this cobbly alley way I was stunned to see a group of extras in a parked German lorry all sitting around chatting and smoking. They were all Nazi brown shirts but they were also exceptionally handsome men. There was something undeniably homo erotic about the scene. They did not hire a bunch of knuckle draggers or obviously thuggish types, there was definately something more at play here and I decided they must have very cleverly picked a cast which showed the attraction of evil. How a beautiful male form could cloak a heart as black as smoldering Stygian coal. I think this movie was directed by the same person who directed the Paul McGann Doctor Who movie from the mid nineties. And his version of The Master was striking and cloaked in a majestic elegance. Evil is never more dangerous than when it comes  disguised as a thing to admire or aspire towards.
            That was quite a break through year for Matt Smith. He was about to dazzle us all with his turn as The Doctor in that magnificent first season of his. I did over hear two people discussing seeing it shortly after it was broadcast and one was expressing his shock at seeing "The Doctor"indulging in man on man action. Not just that he was indulging in the beastliness of human relations but the shock of his gender preference. As though that was not Christopher Isherwood but the eleventh incarnation of their favorite time-lord. More Goodbye To Galifrey than Good Bye to Berlin. This poor chap aside I do hope This adaption encouraged a few people to give the Christopher Isherwood story a view as its subject matter perhaps fell outside their usual comfort zone.
             Where nearly all the interesting things in this world are to be found.

Joseph Grimaldi. Loud, Mad, Hysterical To Know.

Talk about yer tears of a clown? Read this very detailed and engaging biography of Joseph Grimaldi, the father of modern clowning, or at the very least the pioneer of so many aspects of what we take to be the trappings of clowndom, te white face, the baggy pants etc. He was also one o he earliest examples of cross over celebrity. A man not only entertained the common masses with his act performed many times over the course of a working day and night but he also entertained the hoi poloi in a previously unthinkable social aspect, humor being a great leveller even among pretentious notions such as class distinctions. This was an entertainer who could count as a friend and admirer Lord Byron himself. No small thing thing in any era, never mind one with the iron clad social restraints of the Regency Era. You generally stayed what you were born til the day you died.
           Joseph Grimaldi performed on stage from a very early age, driven there by the pushiest of show biz parents. Beginning as Little Clown when he made his debut on the stage of Drury Lane in 1780 he went on to pursue a hard working life performing his act to rapturous acclaim, beloved by generations. The wear and tear of such a life left him riddled with ill health by the time he reached old age. During his final performance he was unable to even stand in order to bid his many fans good bye, doing it from a supporting chair. A sad end to a tough career. If it could even have been said to end there as he had another few years of penury and poverty to endure. He would be carried on a friends back to the local tavern where he would talk and amuse drinkers for more of the same. In the age of Mothers Ruin, gin could be the closest thing to a safety net, if not a sanity net, one could get entangled in, while drinking to oblivion, escaping the now and the then through inebriation. Life was hard all round in those far off days but as always especially so for those at the bottom of the ladder.
              After his death it was non other than a young Charles Dickens who was first to assemble a biography of Thomas Grimaldi which to the author's surprise sold quite well. Dickens had seen the great clown perform when he was a boy( Dickens that is, not Grimaldi.) and had this to say; To those who never saw him, description is fruitless, to those who have, no praise comes up to their appreciation of him. We therefore shake our heads and say "Ah,you should have seen Grimaldi."
              Hmmm that Charles Dickens. He certainly knew how to string a few words together in something close to a linear fashion and imbue them with meaning.
              All clowning not withstanding this is a great biography.

Brilliant.

You just know its real when you see The Doctor and the first Radio Times cover proper. It calls out for that big word The Tardis struggled so heart-breakingly to find. And I believe the word was..
                                                              "Hello."

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Dalek In Ann Street.



           And so The Dalek invasion of Earth begins. Step by step and one shopping center at a                          time. Can even a race of genocidal xenophobic mass murdering aliens handle Belfast City 
          center in July? Perhaps, as long as they remember to bring their own plastic bags.Even
           they agree that while five pence a bag will not break the bank it is just enough to irritate.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Clanger Homeworld.



Oh My Giddy Aunt! The Master has made it to The Clanger Home-world. Lured there by the rumoured restorative capabilities of The Soup Dragon's fabled broth. Similar to the Golden Fleece as sought by Jason and his Argonauts or the Elixir of The Sisterhood Of Karn. The Master had intended to use it to increase his regenerative abilities way beyond the thirteen lives granted to a Time-lord, such was his wily intent. A self serving Galifreyan scoundrel and Jackanape hell bent on living forever. Or at least as close to that as he could manage. Yet things did not quite go as he had planned...The Best Laid Schemes O Mice And Men And Galifreyans/ Gang Aft A-Gley..as they say..

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Master Meets The Clangers.

There is a moment in the Doctor Who story The Sea-Devils when an imprisoned master is watching a very seventies telly, specifically an episode of The Clangers, believing it to be a documentary on a funny alien species. He is genuinely disapointed to discover they are in fact just a children's television creation. It was one of those meta moments that Doctor Who was capable of delivering in a way few shows before or since have done. And it was also an example of why Roger Delgado's interpretation of The Master was so beloved even though he could be terrifying and utterly untrustworthy.
            A meta moment when Peter Firman strayed into the world of Doctor Who. Happy Days.