Casablanca Wars.

Film This is really rather brilliant. Kitbashed notices that Star Wars is heavily influenced by Casablanca:
"Moreover much of Han Solo’s character, who isn’t in this for your revolution, comes straight out of Rick Blaine as played by Humphrey Bogart, who sticks his neck out for nobody. Much in the way that Han Solo is ready to take off with his reward as the rebel alliance launches their desperate attack on the looming Deathstar. Prior to owning the Caf√© Am√©ricain, Rick smuggled guns, and was well paid, just as Solo smuggles whatever it is he dumps at the first sign of imperial trouble. He even adopted Rick’s use of the word ‘kid’. While the characters are hardly carbon copies of one another, Harrison Ford brings much of the same cool demeanor and cynicism to Han Solo. And in the end, both Han and Rick turn out to have a heart of gold."
Not just Star Wars. As The Raider.net notices, George Lucas made it part of the Indiana Jones mix too.

R101.

Aviation By its nature there has been plenty of scrutiny in regards to the R101 disaster with thousands of sources online. The references on the Wikipedia page are a good place to start, which uncludes a link to the official report into the disaster.

The Airship Heritage Trust has a technical explanation for what happened.

In 2009, the original hangars created to house the R101 were put up for sale.

YouTube's BFI channel has a short silent film about the airship's London visit:



There's also this amateur documentary about the sequence of events:



And perhaps most poignantly, a memorial service held in 2010 on the 80th anniversary of the crash.



That anniversary was also marked by an exhibition.

Have you been watching the World Athletics Championship in Moscow?

Sport Have you been watching the World Athletics Championship in Moscow? I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't. As far as I can see barely anyone is. Of course, my window onto "everyone" is my twitter timeline, but that always seems to be a good gage as to what people in general, albeit the kinds of people I'm interested in are interested in. When Paxman's beard happened, that was a focal point, that was talked about. During the athletics, barely anyone has said a thing about anything.

The mood was set on the opening day of competition when the BBC failed to run the opening ceremony. Now, having seen the thing with its coloured balls covered in chemical formulae and a giant inflatable Battleship Potemkin, I can see why. They probably saw the rehearsal and balked at running it instead of the muppet gameshow they'd spent the past week trailing. But it's non-appearance barely registered a murmur amongst a Twitterati who were more interested in talking about other things. Even my own early protest provoked little reaction.

It's been the same since. While I haven't missed a minute of the action, my eye has been glancing a Tweetdeck and the reaction has been the exact opposite of the Olympics despite the blanket coverage. Arguably both Mo Farah and Christine Ohoragu offered even more epic, more exciting performances than last year but no one with my limited online sphere was watching, even taking into account the people in work and fighting to get home from work, that sort of thing.

Why would this be? The timings? Do people lose interest if something isn't in prime time in the UK? Have they been watching but not tweeting about the thing? Is this an early protest because Russia? Fatigue?  A sense of well, we did the Olympics so we've sort of done sport for now?  Photos of our champions have appeared on newspaper front covers so clearly someone's taking an interest, I just think it's interesting that it hasn't provoked the same reaction amongst the people who tend to get excited about this.  Well?

He's back and it's about thirty-three pounds.

Audio If today's post about Doctor Who's Storm Warning has peaked your interest, you might like to know that both of the Eighth Doctor's classic first two seasons have now been heavily discounted by Big Finish permanently to £2.99 each for download. Here's a list for convenience:

Season One:

Storm Warning
Sword of Orion
The Stones of Blood
Minuet in Hell

Season Two:

Invaders from Mars
The Chimes of Midnight
Seasons of Fear
Embrace The Darkness
The Time of the Daleks
Neverland

Season Three

Zagreus

... and then we're back up to full price again, barring the odd sale.  But £33 pounds for the above still ranks as a massive bargain, especially since many of us bought them for £13.99 each originally.

If you need some convincing, most of them were authored by writers who would go on to work on the new series, and there are some stone cold classics in there (The Chimes of Midnight, especially).

Warning.  I introduced these to a friend a couple of years ago and she became addicted to Big Finish, I think.  They can do that to you.

Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The Fourth Doctor.

WHO 50: 2001:
Storm Warning.



Audio Here we are then. This is it. The moment I became a Doctor Who fan again.

There’d been plenty of building up, the visit to the exhibition in Llangollen, watching old episodes recorded from UK Gold by my Auntie, starting to buy Doctor Who Magazine, reading the odd novel, listening to the odd audio, but Storm Warning was the moment when all of this switched from passing interest to an obsession which would eventually lead me to writing all of this in the anniversary year.

But curiously, it happened earlier than the commercial release of the story.

On the cover of Doctor Who Magazine 300 was a special cover disc containing a new Big Finish story, Last of the Titans starring Sylv and a preview version of Storm Warning.

I was already excited having followed the period leading up to the release in the magazine but not really knowing what to expect.

But I was torn. Did I want to listen to this knowing I’d probably buy the commercial disc anyway? Didn’t I just want to hear the whole thing in one go?

That lasted about three seconds once I had the thing in my hands.

I was at home alone that day, I remember. Sunny day, the flat was bathed in light through all the windows, in my imagination, like the opening moments of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We didn’t have a cd player in the living room, so I carried one in from the balcony, and sat it on the floor.

CD in. Pressed play.

The sound of the TARDIS then brilliantly Paul McGann right up front, no beating around the bush, holding him back during some scene setting elsewhere as is so often the case with classic Who. Paul McGann is the Doctor and here he is in the TARDIS.

“TARDIS manual, TARDIS manual, TARDIS manual. Not here are you?”

He’s in the library looking for a book and dives straight into reading through the various books he finds and he’s already fantastic, writer Alan Barnes’s script already smirking away as it references Byron (which was a touchstone for describing the incarnation when the TV movie was first broadcast) and the night when all those horror stories were apparently created (a story which would later be told in prequel).

The approach is an exact opposite of what you might expect for introducing a new Doctor, where the companion’s always up front as the viewpoint character. Except this isn’t a new Doctor. He’s already been knocking about in the franchise for four or five years in comics and novels. Fans know who he is. Sort of.

But I didn’t. Not really. I read some of the comics. Might I have read the odd book, but he was still a bit of a stranger.

Yet, here he was, burning as bright as the sun, if someone’s able to burn bright in audio.

So the episode continues, through an encounter with monsters from the time vortex, to the introduction of the story’s scenario the maiden voyage of the airship R101 (accompanied by Alistair Lock’s bombast soundtrack), the first visit with the story’s supporting characters, the Captain and crew of the ship including Tamworth played by Blake’s 7’s Gareth Thomas along with some suspicion that there’s more to this journey than meets the ears and then by track three we’re back with the Doctor again.

Structurally, it’s a straight down the line bit of classic Who. It’s not attempting to do anything that extraordinarily different, no great paradigm shift.

Not that I knew that then. Everything, everything, seemed fresh, new and well, new. Even by track three, it felt like after over a decade, despite all the Big Finish releases in the mean time, it felt like Doctor Who was back.

The Doctor manages to escape. All the while he’s talking variously to the TARDIS, the Vortisaurs but mainly himself, though in that way in which its obvious he’s really talking to us, and Barnes’s writing is essentially reintroducing this Doctor to us, as though during these opening scenes we’re the companion.

Then moments later she’s there.

It’s Charley, Charlotte Elspeth Pollard, working that other great audio device of writing in her diary, or memoirs.

It’s India Fisher, long before Masterchef made her voice synonymous with other things, giving a remarkably assured performance, the writing again already sketching in all we need to know about her.

Edwardian adventuress who’s so adventuress she’s unafraid to pretend to be a boy in order work on this airship.

It’s one of the best companion introductions ever and arguably an influence of The Snowmen's Clara’s later, with its dual identities.

At the time, I’m not sure I knew she was going to be the companion, but I remember thinking at the time I hoped she would be. It’s still one of the best introduction the franchise has ever seen and for one of the franchise’s best companion. She’s still my favourite.

More plot with the crew of the R101, which I wonder how many listeners really paid attention to first time around, the Doctor lands, investigates the area, decides on a plan, Charley’s unmasked and …

… then I became a Doctor Who fan.

The Doctor’s expostulating, Charley’s running away, they bump into each other … and …

… then I became a Doctor Who fan.

It’s the meet cute. Charley running, the Doctor notices she’s in trouble, they hide, her pursuer disappears and then they make the introductions. The Doctor’s all “I’ve met Lenin”, Charley’s all “I do declare, you many just be the oddest man I’ve ever met” and there’s instant chemistry, the Doctor says “I’m the Doctor by the way”, Charley says, “I’m Charlotte, Charlotte Pollard, Charley to my friends.”, the Doctor replies, “Charley it is then” before continuing, “I tell you, I tell you what, shall we explore?”

And my fate was sealed.

It’s difficult to exactly say why. But there was something about their chemistry, the way it was written, the whole sense of the screwball comedy dialogue which I hadn’t really heard before in the show in quite that way, a little bit in the Tom Baker era especially when written by Douglas Adams.

Something about that the instant friendship, a wish perhaps that such things were as easy in real life. That you could meet someone who’d instant get you and you’d be friends within moments. The ease of the performances. But otherwise I don’t know. It was just sort of all there, the whole of everything, in just a few lines of dialogue.

I knew, at least, I wanted to listen to these characters in the ensuing adventures, handily trailed on the disc once the episode had ended.

Luckily, once I bought Storm Warning, it fulfilled its promise (the roaring scene!) (the intrigue) and I didn’t look back, much.

Looking back, I think I was potentially mostly a fan of these audios firstly but thanks to the brevity of the series leading to starvation, Doctor Who Magazine, cheap VHS copies of the classic series at Music Zone and car boot sales and all the other sources that suddenly present themselves when you do become obsessive about something which you’d thought previously to be relatively rare, I began the plunge into the bottomless expanse of adventures.

Storm Warning, and that moment in Storm Warning aren’t everything. There’s something about the random nature of the stories, the potential for anything to happen, the writing, the wit when Who’s at its most wittiest, the fact that it is one character without a finite number of stories authored by hundreds of writers all with their own interpretation.  Plus the sense of community which surrounds it, the in-jokes, the fact that you’re not so much a fan of Doctor Who, you live it, and in that it's collectively sustained.

In other words, what Capaldi said.

Perhaps if the show itself hadn’t returned in 2005 I might have moved on to something else by now, put away childish things. But it continues and I’m here with it. For now, still.

“This way, do you think?”

Do You Love Anyone Enough?

Nature Sad news. Rolo the 'dog sheep' famous for her herding skills has died:
"A sheep who gained international fame for her dog-like performing skills has died despite efforts to save her.

"Rolo rose to stardom in 2006 after Emlyn Roberts tapped into her talents and started taking her to local shows to herd ducks.

"Mr Roberts said the death last month had left him devastated as Rolo, eight, was like one of the family."

In Praise of Adric.

TV And so my anniversary watch through all of Doctor Who nearly reaches the end of the fourth Doctor era. Tomorrow, Logopolis. Today, The Keeper of Traken and a real surprise. Even having seen the story a few times before in relative isolation, on VHS, as part of that transitional dvd boxed set, what I hadn't noticed is just how incorrect one of the series great reputation misnomers actually is.

Reputationally, Adric as played by Matthew Waterhouse is a terrible, terrible character, and in truth some way into the Davison era he does fulfill that criteria, especially when he's turning against his team mates and acting like a smart arse.

But early on, when twinned with the Fourth Doctor, he's actually really rather good and more importantly, Waterhouse isn't awful and against expectations and despite the supposed problems off screen, has some really quite useful chemistry with Tom.

The relationship is one of tutor and student, a return in some respects to the Leela years, but the Doctor knows that Adric is something of a genius and actively engages him and asks for his second opinion and not always because he knows the answer himself. On a couple of occasions, for example in relation to the source (you'll have to watch the story to understand what that means), Adric provides some useful inspiration.

I know!  I know!  Imagine my surprise given how Adric's become a byword for how not to do a companion and the key element in the argument against then producer John Nathan Turner, at least terms of what was on screen.

Since Adric's more of a guest character in Full Circle, barely meets Tom in State of Decay and spends most of Warrior's Gate wandering the void or getting up Lalla, sorry, Romana's nose, his only real stories with Fourth of Traken and Logopolis.

In such situations, the spin-off materials from the wilderness years and onwards usually flowed in desperate to create new stories.  As I've discussed during Who 50, that certainly happened for the Fifth Doctor and Peri, whose own on screen collaboration similarly only lasted about a story and a half.

There are a few E-Space set Companion Chronicles from Big Finish with Romana II & K9 also on board, but presumably because of his reputation and for reasons of commerciality and writers being interested in producing material to fill the gap between Traken and Logopolis, there's practically nothing that's been officially licensed.  A contemporary annual containing five short stories and a short trip.  No Virgin Missing Adventures, no BBC Past Doctor novels.  Even Dodo's had more appearances.

Now that Big Finish have revealed Waterhouse's participation in some Fifth Doctor stories, now that everyone's older and wiser, what do you think are the chances that he and Tom will gather again for a season of stories?  Or that a well known author will look at what's missing and decide to write one of those BBC eBooks.  Come on Jenny Colgan, you know you want to...

Please Shut the Gate.

Space A lot of people are game for a one-way ticket to Mars — more than 100,000 of them:
"Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that’s offering one-way tickets to the red planet, appears to have hit a milestone. Back in April, when the project first began accepting applications from the general public, we asked whether anyone would be willing to take them up on the offer. Apparently, more than 100,000 people would. That’s right, more than 100,000 people have applied to take a one-way trip to Mars."
Let's hope at least some of them are poets.

Jennifer Lawrence's Vogue Cover.



Fashion The full article is here. I'm watching the athletics so haven't had a chance to read it yes, but here's a choice quote:
It’s not a secret that the Internet has created a new, more hellish reality for actors, partly because everyone is paparazzi now—e.g., the woman sitting next to us. Before you cue the tiny violins, Lawrence does have a point: “If I were just your average 23-year-old girl,” she says, “and I called the police to say that there were strange men sleeping on my lawn and following me to Starbucks, they would leap into action. But because I am a famous person, well, sorry, ma’am, there’s nothing we can do. It makes no sense.” What really gets to her is when people say, “You have to make peace with it.” “I am just not OK with it,” she says. “It’s as simple as that. I am just a normal girl and a human being, and I haven’t been in this long enough to feel like this is my new normal. I’m not going to find peace with it.”

The Longest Story in the World.

Words Or rather the longest joke ...
"So, there's a man crawling through the desert.

"He'd decided to try his SUV in a little bit of cross-country travel, had great fun zooming over the badlands and through the sand, got lost, hit a big rock, and then he couldn't get it started again. There were no cell phone towers anywhere near, so his cell phone was useless. He had no family, his parents had died a few years before in an auto accident, and his few friends had no idea he was out here...."

Shakespeare's Spanish Tragedy.

Theatre Scholarship moves on again. The New York Times reports that further proof has been found or at least suggested that some of the additional passages in The Spanish Tragedy were by Shakespeare:
" ... a professor at the University of Texas says he has found something closer to definitive proof using a more old-fashioned method: analyzing Shakespeare’s messy handwriting.

"In a terse four-page paper, to be published in the September issue of the journal Notes and Queries, Douglas Bruster argues that various idiosyncratic features of the Additional Passages — including some awkward lines that have struck some doubters as distinctly sub-Shakespearean — may be explained as print shop misreadings of Shakespeare’s penmanship.

“What we’ve got here isn’t bad writing, but bad handwriting,” Mr. Bruster said in a telephone interview."
Eric Rasmussen and Jonathan Bate are enough convinced that they're including it in their upcoming collection of Shakespeare collaborations for the RSC (though that does include some of the apocrypha for reasons of dismissal it seems). Perhaps the Arden will be shifting series should their edition be reprinted...

Shakespeare's Spanish Tragedy.

Scholarship moves on again. The New York Times reports that further proof has been found or at least suggested that some of the additional passages in The Spanish Tragedy were by Shakespeare:
" ... a professor at the University of Texas says he has found something closer to definitive proof using a more old-fashioned method: analyzing Shakespeare’s messy handwriting.

"In a terse four-page paper, to be published in the September issue of the journal Notes and Queries, Douglas Bruster argues that various idiosyncratic features of the Additional Passages — including some awkward lines that have struck some doubters as distinctly sub-Shakespearean — may be explained as print shop misreadings of Shakespeare’s penmanship.

“What we’ve got here isn’t bad writing, but bad handwriting,” Mr. Bruster said in a telephone interview."
Eric Rasmussen and Jonathan Bate are enough convinced that they're including it in their upcoming collection of Shakespeare collaborations for the RSC (though that does include some of the apocrypha for reasons of dismissal it seems). Perhaps the Arden will be shifting series should their edition be reprinted...

Spored.



Books Find above the customary author interview/hostage video for the new Puffin Doctor Who ebook release, with Alex Scarrow talking about his Eighth Doctor story, Spore. For anyone with even a passing knowledge of the wilderness years, it's curious document as Scarrow repeats his suggestion that the reason he chose to write for the Eighth Doctor because "we haven't seen much of him and because it would give me more wiggle room to come up with more character, to put more flesh on those bones."

What we could ask is what his research consisted of, because googling Eighth Doctor brings us to the Wikipedia page and the TARDIS datacore pages both of which are full of the mythology. So either he doesn't know this stuff exists for whatever reason or has been told to deny its existence because of licensing issues and because the presumed target audience of the the ebooks which presumably skews lower than the age range Alien Bodies or Scherzo are aimed at.

Much of the rest is clips from the TV movie and Scarrow explaining his creative choices in a way which is probably best left skipped until after reading the story, that is until the bizarre moment at the end when he seems to also not have noticed the existence of The Deadly Assassin, The Five Doctors or Arc of Infinity, let alone Neverland, Lungbarrow or Gridlock as he says we've never learnt his name (Theta Sigma), who is family were (Susan), what it was like to live on Gallifrey, what there whole culture is like (see above).

Bless.  As I've said before, I'll reserve judgement until I've read it and that's probably fine.  For all we know it could be a massive bluff and within its electronic pages there are references to the Faction Paradox, Divergent Universe and Destrii.  But it is a shame that somewhat as expected someone who isn't so obviously a fan of this version of the character is writing it rather than someone who seems, judging by this video, to be treating it as more of an intellectual exercise.  I'll let you know.

The Queen of Eros.

The Not-So-Sinister Sponge.

Food Simplistic in design but voluminous in its content, The Food Timeline is everything you'd seemingly ever need to know about any food. The cake page is a particularly expressive example, with history recipes and trivia from a range of sources. Example: Why are cakes round?
"Excellent question! Food historians offer several theories. Each depends upon period, culture and cuisine. Generally, the round cakes we know today descended from ancient bread. Ancient breads and cakes were made by hand. They were typically fashioned into round balls and baked on hearthstones or in low, shallow pans. These products naturally relaxed into rounded shapes. By the 17th century, cake hoops (fashioned from metal or wood) were placed on flat pans to effect the shape. As time progressed, baking pans in various shapes and sizes, became readily available to the general public. Moulded cakes (and fancy ices) reached their zenith in Victorian times."
The best way to read these pages would presumably be on a Kindle - they're certainly formatted for easy conversion.