All entries for April 2007

April 29, 2007

Evolution of Doctor Who

Doctor Who
4 out of 5 stars

Right. Yesterday, Evolution of the Daleks was on BBC One. And it’s the first new Doctor Who – hang on, actually, it’s t he first Doctor Who! – I actually disliked. Whatever happened to the clever writing? It is almost as bad as the DJ’s character in Revelation of the Daleks! The bad thing is, it had so much potential, after a brilliant first part (Daleks in Manhattan aka Sec’s in the City), and it simply ruined it. (careful, spoilers may follow… though, I doubt you can actually have this episode any more spoilt than it already was!)
Where do I start? The minor things first (even though they are already quite bad) – how believable is the episode? I’ve read on the forums of Outpost Gallifrey good comments about how the DNA was mistreated all along (concerning this, the shape of Dalek DNA is quite funny!) and not even in a consistent way. He also pointed out the gamma ray supposed to hit New York suddenly, conveniently turned into lightning. As he said, it is still remotely acceptable to change real science; but if you do so, be bloody consistent! Even less believable, Martha’s defense plan: building up this metal construction to electrocute the pigmen. Fair enough, she may have been lucky and lightning strike at the exact right time, but how could she know that before undertaking the task (and wasting people’s strengths)? Also, I’m bloody tired of seeing the Doctor dead and – oh, no, hang on, he wasn’t dead! Wait for it, soon Martha’ll give him some meaningful mouth-to-mouth (fret RTD’s plans!)
Then there was what I resent most about the whole episode – the wasting of an excellent idea, that of the evolved Dalek having good feelings. Admittedly, the way he came to these is far from realistic (especially considering which human was chosen for the hybridation) – BUT once this mistake was made, what harm was there in exploring it for a bit longer? And make Sec’s plan succeed. And have a new deviant strain of Daleks who, still being somewhat ruthless conquerors, are humane? We could even make them meet pure Daleks (with the danger of running into absurd competition, cf. Resurrection of the Daleks) – SO MUCH POTENTIAL! Wasted. And how? By the Cult of Skaro not behaving in a Dalek way, plotting in secrecy against Sec. How un-Dalek-like! A better solution, if RTD had decided not to go with the good Dalek idea, would have been to make Sec double-cross the Doctor and make him help them take over the world. This would have had the advantage of showing a tormented David Tennant – and he’d be pretty good at it!!! Both solutions would have earned the episode its title, but here it was more of an evolutionary deadend! (talking of which, the BBC book Only human is one of the best new books…)
On more positive notes, the acting got a bit better as compared to last week’s (but still not up to Gridlock standards for the supporting cast); Martha’s relationship with the Doctor gets seen from a slightly different angle (good before a Modern Times Earth episode). So, good for that!
I’m not even mentioning the CGI from this episode – nothing can top Gridlock!

However, I can’t bring myself to give a low rating to a Doctor Who review, so I’ll complete this entry with quick mention of the best series start so far!
  • Smith & Jones – see previous entry, very good!
  • The Shakespeare code – I was a bit disappointed, but that’s because I had so big expectations! My main issue with this episode is that it is definitely a fantasy episode desperately trying to be Sci Fi – because that’s what Doctor Who is! But it is clever writing, I loved the quote bits, and (oooh spoiler!) Elisabeth in the end!
  • Gridlockawesome really. Only The Girl in the Fireplace is better, so far. And that’s because it’s in France (grins). No, seriously, good writing, editing, awesome music and CGI. My only disappointment here are the Face of Boe’s prophecy (too expectable) and the Macra (which were a tiny bit useless).
  • Daleks in Manhattan Now that’s what I call a Doctor Who episode! I’m usually not too fond of Dalek episodes, but this one clearly exceeds expectations. Interesting plot (but why pigs?), going back to educational stuff (Hooverville!), overall good sci-fi with potential. Cf. my rant about the second part…

Well, let’s hope next week’s The Lazarus experiment is better! Though I have my doubts, considering Martha’s family seems to be back.

April 27, 2007


I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since WiM! I must say I am missing it, even though getting back to Warwick Rev was good. Very good.
But – I hear some of you asking me – what is WiM? And what a strange capitalisation! Well, the weirdness does not stop there: WiM stands for Week in March. But if you can count, you’ll notice it was in April…
Right, now that you’re confused, I’ll try and be clearer about what WiM is. The idea is that all the choirs from the Revelation network join for one week somewhere in the UK. This year, it was Keele, last year Newmarket, there’s been Bangor (yes, in Wales!) Coventry and many others. But one week for what? Have a guess… We’re a choir; therefore we … sing! A lot. In view of a concert at the end of the week.
It is pure madness; since all, or most of us, do not know the songs beforehand; and therefore have an awful lot to do during what they call “rehearsals” (more than four hours a day!) – but YES it DID work and we had enough songs for the concert, and it was purely awesome! Ask the people who were at the concert :) In order for it to work, we had to split the choirs into the Solar half and the Lunar half, with 6 specific songs each, plus 4 joint songs.
But – aims and values the ENVIRONMENT is really important! So we didn’t just sing during the week; it was also the opportunity to meet people from different choirs, and create really nice friendships. So on top of the Solar/Lunar division, we had Bond Groups, designed for that purpose (they had all weird TV-related names – ours was Doctor WiM) with special activities every day: photo-caption challenges, formal dress creation (out of binbags) games with other bond groups etc. On top of that, we had Splinter Groups, which did more than singing for the concert (advertising, dance & drama, band, decoration, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some…).
And, one of the nicest ideas – that of the guardian angels. During that week, you secretly have to look after someone else; and someone looks after you – which translates in nice gifts, and lots of great stuff and fun.
Inconvenients of the week? Well, you might think that, sleeping in a church, you don’t have showers. And it’s true, it is an inconvenient – but services stations have very nice showers so the issue was more to find the time to get there! The other inconvenient, one might say, is that it is very tiring. I had been told, before that week “oh, you don’t want to go to WiM tired”, and had stupidly thought “meh – I can take it”. Big. Mistake. Oh, I could take WiM all right and be in some roughly acceptable shape on the saturday (concert day) BUT it took me over a week to recover after that. Thinking about it, I’m not sure I fully recovered!
The price? 48 quid for the week, and that included food! Hats off to the cooking team (Elliot, Aleks, Rowan) and lots of thanks for their help during WiM!

Of this week I’ll remember – well everyone – but more particularly Ty’s cowcar, Jo’s good mood, Karen Gibson’s TWANG, Simon’s Bible & poker, the peg, Elliot’s lateral thinking, Sam’s funny hat, the cold, ENVIRONMENT (thanks tp and Hannah by the way), tp’s dangerous driving, Tom’s frog, the Ceilidh (might have to write more about that), Joyce’s chilling out. And other things. And everyone, even though you may not be on the list.

Love & Burpees to everyone :-)

April 06, 2007

Smith & Jones

Doctor Who
5 out of 5 stars

Doctor Who is back.

And he’s back with a bang. A loud one with that – in terms of advertisment throughout the media, RT making two collector covers, Starburst, SFX and other magazines making it their front page. So what’s up with John Smith and Martha Jones?
Well lots of potential. That’s the one thing we get from David Tennant’s new sidekick. She is very different from Rose – she won’t follow the Doctor blindly, despite loving him. She is humane, clever, and her family is too big. Martha Jones is, in my opinion, an improvement on Rose Tyler (let alone Donna!) because she will show initiative. Let’s wait and see what happens next!

Spoilers may follow!

Concerning the season-opener itself – one word: awesome. The tie trick can only be described as brilliant – it reminds us of Tennant’s Doctor weirdness and energy from the very first moment we see him – there is no mourning Rose there and you’re left to wonder why until the end. Having an episode on the Moon? Only lets us think that there’ll be more alien episodes, so a good thing.
Judoon? Brilliant – now that’s something that was left unexplored by the new series: sheer amorality as opposed to immorality. For they are doing their work, not looking any further. Intergalactical police, they are not purely evil, they have rules. Plasmavores? well… I still have to watch The Curse of Fenric to compare with other Doctor Who vampires (getting there!) but the straw was silly! The rest was OK, though.
It gave away a lot about Martha, which is what it was supposed to do. My favourite bit is the closing of the eyes. And she remembered the Doctor had two hearts when CPRing. Clever girl!
And the references to Rose – oh great! “Run”, the compensation…
Finally, David Tennant is better than ever (I didn’t think it possible!)

So yay! to Doctor Who’s new season – I cannot wait till The Shakespeare Code


4 out of 5 stars

Most of you must have seen posters for 300, the new adaptation from graphic novels by Frank Miller. The latter is most famously known for Sin City, which apparently was co-produced by the producer of 300. So – same people, same result? Hardly so.
Both movies have things in common – the uberuse (?) of special effects, violence and blood, and a somewhat clichéd American hero, doing things no matter what with brute force. They are both original works, standing out from whatever you can see in cinemas.
But 300 is different. It is not about bestiality/crime/revenge. It is about defending the people of Sparta. Oh yes, in case you didn’t know, it is held in ancient Greece. It tells of the heroic battle between 300 men from Sparta and millions of Persians come to conquer Greece. And that’s it. One big battle, with a plot that, in conventional movies, would barely hold 30 minutes. But here it is, holding for just under two hours. And tell you what? You don’t get bored.
Some critics I have read (surely the Coventry Observer is not the best reference, but hey) complain about graphical attacks, and the director using every CGI effect he can find. This is, I think, unfair. Graphical effects are present throughout the movie, and make it original – make it beautiful and enjoyable. At times you wonder whether it’s a painting from the Renaissance (ok, I exaggerate, but you get the point). It is pushing the reality towards the myth (and truly it is a myth), and filming it accordingly.
Six-packs seem to much? Well, it’s mythological, heroes are perfect, traitors are ugly, semigods have weird attributes…
So well done to the director for making this a consistent movie.
But, folks, if you don’t like battle scenes, don’t go to 300, because that’s what it is!

Warwick Revelation rock–gospel choir

Aaah, but this whole set of new entries could not be complete if I didn’t mention Revelation! This is the best thing that has happened to me this term. I have said before RAG was the best society ever, and I hold on to that insofar as RAG has allowed me to do more stuff than I could ever have done on my own (aaah the raids). However, Revelation is ex aequo with RAG for different reasons – mostly because it is welcoming, energising, focused and friendly. It is a personal, interior development that it nurtures, rather than “doing stuff” (like RAG)
How did I end up in a gospel choir? Surprising as this may sound for the people who know me, the story is – for once – simple. Before Christmas, my good friend Casper told me “he was going to sing tonight” and asked if I was going to see him. End of term, a monday, not much to do – might as well! And the concert was, by all standards, awesome! One could feel the Revvers enjoyed singing. So yeah, after the concert, I was waiting for my bus with Casper – and that’s how the idea of joining came to mind. On the first tuesday of term, I was in the Chapaincy – Jason, the then president, welcomed me very kindly and off we went for a rehearsal. Other tenor/bases, especially Thor & Rich, helped me out, since I didn’t know any of the songs – and tell you what, that’s what’s so great about Rev. The way you feel during rehearsals.
You feel that you belong, even if you’re a total newbie. You feel that the others enjoy singing, and end up enjoying it a whole lot more than you thought was possible yourself. And the social side is awesome.
The whole term built up to the concert in Coventry, which was the evening I had most fun in thus far. Before the concert, we went on RaW, the student radio, we also did some busking on the Piaza:

And after the concert, I went to DM Severance at the Student Cinema, so that was quite a busy night!
The next tuesday, we had a special rehearsal – Cabaret night, with acts from various people from Rev, followed by a night in Westwood Church. Awesome. Really. And now, tomorrow saturday, I am going to Newcastle(-under-Lyme) for one entire week of Revness, with Rev choirs from all around the UK. This is going to be fantastic! The concert, the culminating point of the week, will be next saturday. I can hardly wait – to give you an idea of how excited I am, this week will make me miss two Doctor Who episodes – and I don’t mind!!!!
This entry is also to thank from the bottom of my heart all the people in Rev, for being so great. I believe and hope I am going to keep in touch with most of you.

WSC this term

Writing about web page

End of term also meant end of WSC – or Warwick Student Cinema – for about five weeks and a bit. Or at least I thought it did (aaah, outside-term socials!)
Anyways, looking back – term 2 has WSC all over it for me.
I just want to use this opportunity for a hats off to everyone, Jimmy C. not least for his brilliant schedule. I mean, we’ve seen quality movies, such as Pan’s Labyrinth (review below), The Prestige – my favourite movie so far this year, Little Miss Sunshine, and I’ve been introduced to University Challenge via Starter for Ten. More importantly, I’ve seen movies I would not have watched, had I not been in the Student Cinema – Breaking and Entering, for instance, or bits of Flushed Away. No, really well done for the choice of films.
Well done to the projectionists as well – nearly no problems this term – and to the Front of House team, who managed to get used to high viewing figures – a sell-out even for Casino Royale!
Looking back on relatively low figures from term 1, term 2 looks like an awesome achievement – so big in fact one may wonder how it could get better? But it can. Just look at next term’s schedule: The Illusionist, Babel, Hot Fuzz, Notes on a Scandal Stranger than fiction The science of sleep, etc. etc. Ooooh I can’t wait for term 3!

What WSC meant, personally, was quite a lot as well this term: Qualification on Pulp Fiction, meeting friends, training some people, taking on some responsibilities, and being at an Allnighter. Nothing could have given me more experience.
I’ll finish on this:

Long live the Student Cinema!

Amsterdam baby

Amsterdam was purely awesome. The hitching as well – nice and smooth. The ferry on the way there was OK. The ferry on the way back… but I get ahead of myself.
RAG craziness happened to me once more, possibly for the last time, when, right after the end of term, when I hitched to Amsterdam, in support of Comic Relief – now for the non-British people like myself who may not have heard of it, it is the biggest charity event in the UK, a bit like the French Téléthon – and the charity itself is associated with the BBC and fights against poverty. Now they have a symbol, the Red Nose (which came this year with fairly traded white chocolate with pictures of Wallace & Gromit or Doctor Who or a Cyberman), and these could be seen all over the place, in Oxfam, Sainsbury’s, etc.
The Noses being available in Oxfam plays a big role in the hitch. Indeed, the hitch took place two days after Comic Relief Day, so, in Oxfam, we couldn’t use our display board any longer. Which made it available for me and my lovely hitching partner Ellie to cut our hitching signs in. In the end, they were better-looking, bigger and stronger than my Dublin sandwich boards. The other good thing about working at Oxfam is that we have a laminator there, so we could have laminated parts on our signs, where we could update the directions! Here’s a picture of us in Newcastle(-upon-Tyne), so you can see our beautiful signs! The person on the left is Yen, with whom we travelled from Leicester to Newcastle.

Right, so how did the actual hitch happen? Well, same as for Dublin, we had a ferry to catch, so that meant getting up early (yuck) and starting hitching at abaout 5 in the morning… Problem is, there are works on the A45. Problem is, that implies not so many people will pull over, especially so early in the morning. So after about two hours, the safety car called us and took us to the Leicester forest services (blue on the map below). There, we hadn’t even put our signs out, we meet co-hitchers who happen to have spare spaces in their cars, all the way up to Newcastle! We happily accept, and jump in the back on the van (wooden benches, no safety belt… oh Chris if you had known that at the time you’d have had a heart attack!) and on we drive. Towards the ent of the journey, there is a real ful-scale blizzard with snow and wind and all; quite impressive but our driver’s a good one. We even get to see the Angel of the North (but the picture was taken by Ellie’s camera, not mine, so it’s not here yet…). He drops us off in the suburbs of Newcastle, it’s about eleven in the morning and the ferry leaves at five! We’re the first! (Yay!) Yen, who was with Ian the hitcher with spare space, wants to go to church (it is sunday after all), but we cannot leave her on her own (Chris already has a heart attack from our ride, remember? Let’s not damage his heart more…) so I go to the mass with her – to be honest this was not the most thrilling bit of the hitch – interesting though. And in the end, she gets a hitch off the father, who drives us nicely to the ferry, and when he drops us off, he gives us 20 pounds (for charity, I would tend to suppose). Now – this does not top the other group of four off – who got 20 quid “to have a beer” on the driver… Anyways, all of us are there, ready and happy to spend some time in the pub before leaving. No karaoke this time, but still some fun. Here’s the map:

We go to the terminal, and up on the ferry. I give Chris another fright by telling him “Passport? No, I have no passport” (Identity Card is enough for us Frenchies!), and off we go for 14 hours of sea-travel. Which is not too bad, given we have cabins (paid for by ourselves, the actual hitch was only up to Newcastle). A couple of pictures from the ferry:

Arriving in Amsterdam, going to the hotel, it’s about 10 in the morning, and we’re ready for a nice day. With Yen, we decide to go have a biking tour. It turned out to be quite interesting, even though it was not dealing with Amsterdam itself so much – we went to a windmill and a cheese farm. During that tour, I had a puncture (pictured below: the guide fixing it). But it was mostly fun, and now I know what it feels like to bike in Amsterdam. Which is not as nice as to bike in France, given that there’s more bike traffic!

After that, me and Yen visit Amsterdam a bit (including the flower market, which is not that big), eat some poffertjes, or Dutch pancakes – awesome! Then we go back to the hotel, meet the others and have dinner, and we have the detour through the Red-Lights District (pictured below) and spend the night in a pub. Me and Ellie are tired so we end up leaving sooner for the hotel. The following day, I go on my own to the Van Gogh Museum – which is definitely worth the admission fee. Two hours there are filled easily, and it’s soon time to leave to catch the ferry back. Everybody’s had fun, most have been to the sex museum and the Heineken brewery (classic!) and everybody’s tired but happy.

The ferry back is the opposite of the ferry on the way to Amsterdam. Called the King of Scandinavia instead of the Queen of Scandinavia, it does not have a swimming pool or a sauna, and the sea is.. far… far… rougher than it was on the way to Dam. Force nine winds. We are sick. Well I am, and most people I’ve talked to as well. 14 hours of something that can not be called lulling anymore. I hardly sleep, use sickbags, and cannot eat. On top of all, we have to find a hitch back, preferably off the ferry. But – people are not stupid, and when they’re taking the ferry to Newcastle (and not to Hull), they’re going North, not South. Scotland, not the Midlands. Despite the help of a translator, we find nobody. So we’re stranded in Newcastle. Or are we?
From Washington services, we directly find a hitch off a lorry, all the way to Sheffield! The driver, Rob, is a nice chap, he’s flying planes on his free time, and owns the lorry, wants to leave Britain for Spain later. He drops us off right after Sheffield (in green on the map), from where, without even having to wait (I was going into the little shop to buy some lunch), a Coventrian (is that the word?) offers us a lift! Straight to our home!
So yeah, it was a nice trip, but I doubt easier hitches can ever happen!
In the end, I raised 100£ sponsorship for Comic Relief (which I still need to collect…)
A couple more photos from Amsterdam:

RAG Stuff

As you may have noticed, this blog has not been (quite) updated over the past, what, nearly two months. Obviously, my life has not stopped – rather the contrary. It’s all been taken up by, well, WSC RAG and Rev. And Oxfam to a lesser degree. So there’s lots to catch up on!
So – yeah – RAG! Best society on campus. Probably. Well – that’s not what Socs Fed said (they elected People & Planet, with reason – they did an amazing job this year); but RAG won best non-social event for RAG Week! Which reminds me I still need to upload these pictures. Back to the point, RAG is going on buzzing with activity, raids, hitches, sponsored stuff. All for charity! Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to make two raids this term, one to York, one to Sheffield (long live the North! it’s awesome up there) – I’ve already described them in previous entries. I missed out on Brum (being sick) Cardiff (due to Allnighter) and Leeds (I don’t remember the reason here. But there was one). Seemingly, Cardiff was rainy – but I still want to go to Doctor Who’s territory!
Moving on. After the raids, I did two more RAG things:

  • A sponsored famine. Well that’s quite a big word for a 24 hour fast. Still, there was a point to it insofar as I managed to raise 50 pounds for World Vision. World Vision is a charity that supports development and work both in the UK and overseas. In that respect, they are somehow the likes of Oxfam – they even have something like Unwrapped; however there are some differences. The most important one is that World Vision is Christian-based – this is, however, of little consequence since they are not proselytic and give support no matter what your confession is. More information on their website
    The way it went: on a friday, I started the fast at 3pm (well, more like half two) and it went on well. That night, I was DMing a show at the student cinema – and our then relatively-new-steward, Tom, offered me a sweet. Caught up in the events surrounding me, I didn’t think, and took it – until Matt pointed out that I probably shouldn’t. I thought something that would breach terms of use if I wrote it here, and spat the sweet out – but it was too late; and I prolonged my fast for another twenty-four hours. Whoch I went through painlessly this time (despite people offering me tea…). Quite fortunately, the following night, I was at a friend’s, where the family cooks very well :-) and I ate well and the fast was over :)
  • A hitch to Amsterdam. However, this deserves another entry, so read on!

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