The Lost World of Friese-Greene

I think I’ll add Dan Cruickshank to my list of favourite TV presenters. As with Michael Palin or David Attenborough, he seems to have an enthusiasm for his subject which makes his programmes very entertaining. They also have the same scope.

Last night he was presenting a programme on a man who made one of the first ever travel documentaries; what made it so special is it was filmed in rudimentary colour. While we probably cannot derive much new information from these 80 year old films – their scope is too narrow to say anything important – they offer insight into people’s relationship to the camera. Then cameras were new, novel. Thus in their reactions to the camera we see their reactions to the modern world – a rapidly changing world. Thus in this film we see people on the verge of modernity, which is what makes this programme fascinating.

I also like the comparisons Crookshank makes. It’s interesting to note how much and how little things have changed. The world is at once eternal and ever changing, a fact which this programme makes clear. It’s just a shame I’ll be at uni when the remaining episodes are aired.




I was reading the culture section of the Sunday times this morning. It’s review of Saturday’s episode of Dr. Who mentioned something called Torchwood. I just googled that title, and it seems Torchwood is a Dr Who Spin-off.

Now, I have nothing against sequels or spin offs. After all, star trek’s numerous spin-offs were very enjoyable, often bettering the original. I need hardly remind you, too, that my favourite book (well, one of them), the Lord of the Rings, is a sequel to the Hobbit. Therefore I see nothing wrong with such things.

However, I do not feel that captain Jack is a strong enough character to hold his own show. He just seemed to me to be a third unnecessary main character; the sort of character who had a few lines but you do not really notice. I could be wrong, and perhaps he cold be fleshed out in his own show.

It also raises the question of whether the universe Dr Who inhabits can cope. Dr Who has always been about a single, central figure, and the programmes have always focalised upon that figure. We can compare this with, say, star trek TOS, which had its focus upon a ship and it’s crew, allowing one to conjecture the existence of a bigger fleet. Thus, when the time came, viewers could accept the existence of other crews existing in other parts of the same universe. This universe, moreover, was very detailed – we knew, say, that the Klingons are a warrior race from Qo’nos – and with this detail star trek’s writers could tie each incarnation together. Dr. who differs from this because it is too vast, too sprawling: the Doctor has visited numerous times and places; indeed the very nature of the doctor is that he is a traveller. Apart from the Daleks and Cyber Men, nothing seems particularly fixed in his world.

This may be a problem for Torchwood. Unlike the original, they will have to fix it in a time and place, which, according to this , is Cardiff. The question is, does the universe created in the original have the integrity to support a spin-off. Dr Who was very fantastical, and it seems that this series would strive to be more serious. Can the universe adapt?

I am not sure it can. Dr Who was kitsch, loved for it’s dodgy plots and even dodgier scenery. It was science fantasy, not science fiction, and this new series wants to jump genres. This leap is, arguably, bigger than that taken between TOS and TNG, as the concepts behind the two were not all that different. I think this is a bad idea on the part of the beeb, but only time, and ratings figures, will tell.

west wing (kinda)

It seems my rationale for disliking the Americans breaks down when it comes to television and films. Each time I watch the West Wing, I find it harder and harder to condemn them all as stupid, for I maintain that programme to be the most intelligent drama on TV today. How can they all be stupid when they can make such programmes? Then I remember that only half of them are stupid.

Seriously, though: I do not hate America: I have spent four happy holidays there; one of my favourite authors was born just outside Chicago; Americans have pioneered many sciences. Yet the yanks just seem so arrogant – to them, they single-headedly won the second world war; they claim every cool invention as their own, including the internet; they also think that democracy was their invention. It also really peeves me to see how unwilling they are to see things from other point’s of view. For example, I get angry when I see thisguy slagging off Islam.

I must remember, however, that it isn’t just the Americans. There are bad eggs in every batch; think BNP, think Le Penn. The moment I condemn the whole of America for the actions of their government and the ratings on a few blogs, I become ass bad as them. I think everyone must keep things in perspective, and try to look at things from every side, which is, I think, what the people I get so angry with refuse to do.

Paradoxically, this is why I think blogs like Grouchy old Cripple are good, for, although I hate most of their content, their point of view is as valid as anyone else’s. objectivity, I have realised, is a myth, as there is always more than two ways of looking at things. There is no truth, only debate. Even scientists ever conclude things absolutely, but always leave room for more evidence.

I’m afraid this entry has developed into a chain of thought. It started off as a piece on the west wing, but just as last night’s programme went into the debate over abortion, it showed us how complex everything is. It reminded me of the simple truth that nothing is ever simple. Great TV should always have the power to make you think.


Although it isn’t yet the headline story in most news programmes, I’m becoming more and more concerned with the situation with regard to Iran. To be honest, I find their statement that they want to make nuclear energy only dubious: if the wanted energy, why not use solar? Iran is a sunny place after all, and it wouldn’t piss so many people off. Thus, I think they are indeed after nuclear weapons.

However, having said that, so what? Britain, the states, France china and Russia have the bomb, but nobody is worried. Where is it written that only we should have the bomb. Alright, Iran is under an oppressive regime, but I might remind you that the only country ever to use such weapons was a democracy; one which recently suggested it might use them again. If the states has nukes, why shouldn’t the Iranians?

Ok, I haven’t gone completely nuts, but there are principals here to stick by. Which is more worrying: a country which has recently declared two wars, is lead by a religious zealot and where execution is still legal having the bomb, or Iran?

I really think another war is coming.

pcc problems

My parents are home, and Luke has had to go back to Manchester. It’s a shame because I enjoy his company, and I’m sure mum and dad would have liked him to stay here a while, but I think he needed too get on with work. Because he went, I’ve had to revert to my older pc – the new one needed to be packed and ready to go back to university. For some reason, this pc claims it is 00.03, although it is about quarter to 6; I do not have access rights to change the clock. Because of this, I can’t get on to msn network – my prime means of communication with my friends. Indeed, I do not know if I can post to my blog, so this post should test that. If it works, I plan to say something about Iran soon: I feel a war coming.

tiger woods is a spaz

It has been reported on ouch and elsewhere that golfer Tiger Woods said he thought he played like a spaz after loosing the recent open. The question I have now is, should I be offended? Indeed, I refer too myself as a spaz all the time – many disabled people do. Like crip, it is a word we claimed back for ourselves, and now it carries connotations of fraternity, the idea that we face a common struggle, etc.

However, for a non-crip to use it is different. As the article linked to above makes clear, it is rather like the N-word for black people, and the word Queer. Only certain people can use it. I still regard the word spaz as a term of abuse in some instances, and therefore am offended. The inability to knock a small ball into a hole with a stick does not mean you have cp.


It’s funny how problems can occur to you in dreams, or in REM-like, half asleep states. Last night I was struck with a moment of paranoia: it’s unlikely ever to happen, but what if I am ever arrested by the police and do not have access to my lightwriter? Now, I haven’t done anything that the police would want me for (to my knowledge anyway) but this raises quite a serious issue. How would I communicate with them? How do I tell them who I am? How do I tell them I do not have learning difficulties? Do I tap out the primes on the table or what.

Joking aside, this is of quite some importance to me. To my knowledge, the right to a communication aid is not guaranteed by law; hence those who do not get communication aids are virtually defenceless. Presumably, policemen, upon arrest, would deprive someone of their VOCA, not knowing what it was. In such a position, such a person would be defenceless.

Given that we crips are no less capable of criminality than anyone else, I think police should be trained about VOCAs. Moreover, it should be illegal to deprive anyone of such a device, and that access to this equipment should be guaranteed by law. This would maintain everyone’s basic human right to speech.

You can’t cross the andes in a party frock

It’s not that I’m worried about it, just puzzled, and as usual I think writing about it would sort it out in my head. There appears to be two spheres of my life, my two greet interests which are almost polar opposites. On the one side, I fancy myself as an explorer: I am captivated by stories of exploration and adventure – of how cook sailed into the unknown aboard Endeavour; I love seeing the natural beauty within David Attenborough’s programmes; I love to explore the world with Michael Palin. Fictionally, my heroes include James Bond and Jean-luc Picard; I love the suave sophistication of bond, how he always wins the day without a mark on his tuxedo. I love how Picard is a captain from the finest tradition of naval and dramatic history – well rounded, slightly reserved, yet flawed.

All these men get to see exotic places; they are all explorers. They are also very masculine, especially Bond who is quite a misogynist. I have this great wanderlust, this great desire to follow my heroes into the unknown – I want to sail thee seas in a sailing ship, I want to see the great barrier reef, I want to climb the Andes and the Himalayas, I want to sail down the Nile and see the tombs of the kings. While in no way do I think these male-only provinces, they are incredibly masculine things to do, and this raises my curiosity.

In other areas of my life, I desire the feminine. I relax by pulling on the trappings of femininity, or rather what I see as them. I love to pull on my leotards and tights; I love to co-ordinate my outfits; recently I bought an adorable blue party frock with a white trim from a charity store, and now want petticoats for it. I love the feeling of being zipped into it. I know it’s illogical – going to the loo in such a garment is a nightmare, especially for me – and I recognise that many see it as perverted. I just find it makes me happy, and see no harm in it. I might add that it’s important to me to keep these two spheres separate – I dislike, for example, wearing girl’s underwear under a suit, something very masculine.

Yet how do I square these two parts of me? Palin and Attenborough wear shirts and chinos when presenting, not tutus. How can I make sense of these two opposite sides? After all, it would not be wise to climb mountains in, say, pink fishnet tights and a ra ra skirt. As I say, I’m not worried about this per se – I do not lie awake at night questioning why I am how I am – but it strikes me as more than a little paradoxical. It seems that, just as I want to explore the earth, part f me wants to explore the feminine.

I do knot know the solution. Indeed, do I need to solve it? I think not, as long as it’s harmless. I admit it’s a sort of fetish, but I see no harm in being open about such things, lest we all become incredibly repressed. I also hope that I am not thought of any differently for being open about these things.

slobfest day 2

Luke, my bro, has sated that every time he comes home he regresses to the state of a five year old. As such, when he’s home he can never do the work he intends to do. This is true for me too: I am always more productive at college than I am at home, although this week has been moderately good in terms of output. It’s just that home is so comfortable: we’ve been watching star trek episodes several at a time, eating when we want, generally having fun and forgetting about university. Thus, home is both good and bad. Mind you, my mood may change when Luke starts quoting rainman.

lukes home!

It’s been quite a cool day. My parents are away, so my brother is home to ”look after” me. I love it when he comes home to forfil this function – for one he’s quite a good cook, so I eat well. Tonight we are having spag bog, which, with any luck will be accompanied by beer.

Last time he came he read the latest Harry potter to me in one weekend. Today we watched star trek episodes for about 5 hours. Having finished the first draft of my essay this morning, I expect this weekend will be quite a good one.