"an isolated and disturbed childhood"

Reuniting Madonna’s iconic voguing gang of 1990:
"A moving new documentary called ‘Strike A Pose’ reunites Madonna’s estranged ‘Blond Ambition’ dancers twenty-five years on and discovers what’s happened to them since that controversial tour."

Church 'regret' as trainees hold service in gay slang:
"A Church of England theological college has expressed regret after trainee priests held a service in the antiquated gay slang language Polari."

Twitter accounts really are echo chambers, study finds:
"As in ancient human cultures, users of the social media site interact most with those who share their political views, Demos report reveals."

The Last Regeneration... Hello Biscuits & Blisters!
"Well! Look at this! It’s been a long week of designing, redesigning, googling, swearing, coding, and calling on friends for advice, but finally I have a new blog. Ish."

John Hurt: Imagination’s Victim:
"Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1940, John Hurt’s future career was clearly influenced by his mother, who was an amateur actress when she wasn’t busy being an engineer. Sadly, Hurt endured an isolated and disturbed childhood. Despite having a cinema on their doorstep, his parents didn’t allow him to go and watch films, and he was kept away from interacting with local children."

"best enjoyed out of sequence"

Why fret about a female Doctor Who? The true inequality is in the real world:
"A female Time Lord would be an advance. But what women need is a level playing field to begin with, not special favours."

Meet the artist behind Beyonce's pregnancy photo:
"Beyonce's pregnancy announcement portrait is now the most liked Instagram post of all time. But who is the artist behind the image?"

The Unusual Genius of the "Resident Evil" movies:
"The sixth and final chapter in the “Resident Evil” franchise has just come out in theatres, and you may as well start there. The films are best enjoyed out of sequence, with no prior knowledge of the plot. Your bafflement will spice the feast. Who is this woman with the pair of shotguns and the tight pants? What’s this undead beast that wants to eat her face? When did Washington, D.C., get turned to rubble? Be patient, my friend, and nothing much will be explained."

To Truly Learn Something, Study Until You’ve Mastered It — and Then Keep Studying:
"The good news for all the lazy bums among us: On its own, deliberate practice isn’t enough to turn you into an elite performer, whether you’re talking about boosting your athletic prowess or learning to play the violin. It’s a little bit of a weight off: If you’re not at the top of your game, you can blame something other than your own lack of effort."

UK Regions Compared to US States With Similar Population:
"The map above shows the UK’s regions compared to US states with similar populations. Data for the UK comes from the 2011 Census and data for the US comes from the 2010 US Census."

"I would not have expected a Venn diagram"

This is what a feminist T-shirt looks like:
"Street protesters and fashion designers have fallen in step with their slogans. What are they saying?"

Romola Garai takes on aristocratic role in Queen Anne:
"She'll play aristocrat Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, alongside Emma Cunniffe as the queen."

Marvel's Runaways Finds Its Cast:
"The wait is over. Marvel has found their “Runaways.” Marvel Television announced today the first group of young actors has been set for “Marvel’s Runaways,” the highly anticipated project with popular streaming service, Hulu."

Quirky and peculiar: Unusual customs snapped in the '70s by photographer Homer Sykes:
"From gurning and dunting, to skipping and barrel-wrestling - these strange and unusual traditions are marked annually in towns and villages. Forty years ago, in the pre-mobile phone era - when flared trousers and glam-rock ruled - Homer Sykes travelled across the country to capture special moments from these uniquely British celebrations."

The Case for Dungeons & Dragons:
"I was never a Dungeons and Dragons person, but as a nerd, seems like they’ve always been nearby. I would not have expected a Venn diagram overlapping the D&D nerds I know — delightful, gentle weirdos who like elves and other imaginary creatures — with high security prisoners."

"pure speculation"

Olivia Colman is the most likely next Doctor Who – here’s why:
"Guessing the next Doctor is always pure speculation, but there is a pattern in the history of casting the role."

The Sunday Post: 75 Years of Desert Island Discs:
"Among the many long running series which BBC Radio 4 is home to, one of the longest running is Desert Island Discs, which celebrates its 75th birthday today. Created by Roy Plomley in 1941 as a new way of combining interviews with music, it has now clocked up over 3,000 editions. It remains as popular as ever, often creating headlines with high profile ‘castaways’ such as the guest for the current anniversary, footballer David Beckham."

Woman's pet snake got stuck in her gauged earlobe and we're screaming:
"We don't know whether to laugh or cry. Last Monday, Ashley Glawe posted a photo of herself and her pet snake, Bart, on Facebook. Only the snake wasn't in her hands or wrapped around her arms. It was stuck through her gauged earlobe."

This Eye-Popping Grilled Cheese Will Be Your Valentine’s Day Goals:
"Because cheese is the real way to your heart."

‘Serial’ Team Forms Podcast Production Firm, Sets Launch of New Series:
"Serial Productions’ first podcast will be “S-Town,” a nonfiction limited series set in rural Alabama and hosted by longtime “This American Life” producer Brian Reed, with two other series in development. All episodes of “S-Town” will be released simultaneously in March 2017."

Who will be the new Doctor (Who)?

TV For some reason I haven't seen any speculation as to who might be the next Doctor (who) ... on this blog so I think it's high time I made a list. Here are ten actors who'd be amazing choices with a gratuitous video of them doing some acting (because frankly what's the point in me writing a paragraph about their careers because you either know them or you don't and you probably won't read the text anyway). Thanks to @eurovisellie for pointing out #3.

(1) Romola Garai (obvs)

Romola Garai is The Doctor from Stuart Burns on Vimeo.

(2) Hayley Atwell

(3) Phoebe Waller-Bridge

(4) Kate Kennedy

(5) Sacha Dhawan

(6) Zawe Ashton

(7) Catherine Tate

(8) Gina Bellman

(9) Sean Pertwee

(10) Paul McGann

"inestimable value"

Fear and Loathing In La La Land:
"I haven’t seen La La Land yet, but I want to. Trouble is, the word of mouth, glowing reviews, and endless awards have placed it on a pedestal so high I feel the actual experience won’t be able to reach it. The hype is strong with this one. But maybe there’s a way to go in with a clean slate. Maybe there’s a way to slay the hype monster before it can strike."

Miranda July Shares Her Vintage Feminist Film Archive:
"A devotion to women and their complexities is at the heart of all of the creative endeavors undertaken by Miranda July, the artist, writer, filmmaker — and radically motivated movie mogul. The latter gig, begun in 1995, was inspired by the Riot Grrrl scene then raging in Portland, Ore. Frustrated by the casual misogyny of mainstream and indie films, July, who had routinely built communities around herself, launched the feminist video series Big Miss Moviola (later changed to Joanie 4 Jackie); the hope was to offer an antidote to Hollywood’s disinterest in the lives of women, and to open up a dialogue among girls, as music and fanzines were doing in the mid-’90s."

'10 Things That Require Zero Talent' Is a Total Myth:
"I'm sure you've seen the post on LinkedIn or maybe even Facebook or Instagram. The title is, “10 Things that Require Zero Talent,” and your reaction is, “Exactly!”"

What does Loose Women's 'feminist experiment' say about the way female presenters are judged?
"Presenter Nadia Sawalha wore the same top eight times in a row on the ITV show before viewer complaints wore her down."

Packing their talent:
"Exiles from Nazism brought America and Britain something of inestimable value."

Bye then, Peter.

TV There were a few eye brows on Twitter earlier this evening when it was noticed that Radio 2 would be carrying "An Evening With Peter Capaldi" introduced by Jo Whiley. I must confess I didn't listen. I was half way through a Nicholas Sparks adaptation when it started and for the most part I try to avoid pre-publicity before new series in an attempt to keep as spoiler free as possible.

But the whole notion of the programme was interesting.  It's part of a loose series, so it's not a complete set up, but to give the actor two hours of radio felt unusual at this point.  My first thought was that he'd be announcing that he was leaving the programme and sure enough, just before 10pm, social media confirmed as much.  He'll be gone by next Christmas.

The moment when he tells the world is here.  Jo sounds surprised, even though a press release was preprepared.  She doesn't seem like she was expecting the scoop and then goes on to ask the right questions, about the regeneration, why he chose to leave.  In general it sounds like he's had enough of it, in that way that Doctors often do after the now standard three series.

It's not been easy.  Both of his seasons have been a mess, although it has to be said with more hits than misses and never his fault.  He's been a superb Doctor even if the stories being told and the words he's been given to say have been variable.  Perhaps in a few years, once expectations have given way to nostalgia, I'll revisit his era with a kinder heart.

On the upside it means Chibbers can head off into his version with a completely clear creative slate and like RTD and Moffat before make it his own thing.  You never know, it could be good.  And if it isn't we could always protest by turning up at conventions cosplaying his younger self's appearance on Open Air, in a grey suit and lemon tie.

Now we have the joy and wonder of the endless speculation about who's taking over and how they're going to announce it.  Last time there was a whole year between Capaldi being announced and Smith sodding off, but the chances are it's going to be a bit tighter.  After the success of the last announcement, there'll probably be another live show.

Please, please, please let it be a woman.  Please.  Assuming Romola Garai isn't interested (and why wouldn't she be?) Hayley Atwell's said she wants to do it and is available again now that her latest US series has been cancelled.  Zawe Ashton's probably available too.  It'd be nice to have someone young if only as a contrast to Capaldi and also to shake up the dynamic.

Unless they bring Paul McGann back.  As The Day of the Doctor shows, it's entirely possible for him to return to some old faces.  I'm sure he'd be up for it.  The problem is he wouldn't be the eighth Doctor.  He'd be fifteenth.  Which isn't the same.  Yes fifteenth.  I'll have none of your War Doctor and 10.2 don't count.

Bye then, Peter.  It's been a time.

My Favourite Film of 1914.

Film Back to animation, and even further in time to Gertie The Dinosaur, Winsor McCay's thrilling animated short in which he attempted and succeeded through a series of drawings to recreate what he thought a Brontosaurus must have been like and getting the beast to perform for the camera. The Wikipedia has an incredibly detailed production history for the film and the fascinating release.

A vaudeville man, McCay effectively achieved the same showmanship as Hammond in Jurassic Park, but utilising a technology which is a distant forerunner to how the dinosaurs were partly created for the Spielberg film.  While project the film before the audience, he'd interact with the animation, coaxing Gertie to do tricks much as a circus trainer might.

You can see how this would work from the intertitles in the later theatrical release version.  He'd ask the animal to raise its left and right leg, to eat some fruit and so forth and eventually take a bough.  The animation falls into some repetition here and there presumably to cover audience reaction and allow for some verisimilitude in the performer's improvisation.

Over a hundred years later the effect is being somewhat recreated through Walking With Dinosaurs Live with another human introducing big beasts, albeit animatronic and with a more palaeontological approach.  But its just the same sort of showmanship and with the same motivation to engender a sense of wonder amongst those watching.

"the sinister implications of surveillance"

From Joni Mitchell to Laura Marling: how female troubadours changed music:
"Singing about drugs, politics and disappointment was once seen as a male pursuit – and almost half a century after female artists began to defy convention, many are still trying break the mould."

Celebration of women filmmakers triggers heated debate among Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams and Shirley MacLaine:
"Is your coat wool?” Alfre Woodard asked as she sat at a long, flower-filled table draped with purple paisley Italian linen. “I’m allergic to wool. I can never wear anything nice.”

A Dizzying Tour of London:

"Aerial photographer Jason Hawkes has seen London from just about every angle. For the last 20 years, he’s been photographing Great Britain’s capital from an AS355 twin-engine helicopter, capturing the cityscape from as low as 450 feet to as high as 3,000 feet."

The Invisible City: The Cinema Of Surveillance:
"In this essay commissioned by Heart of Glass, Laura Robertson considers what cinema has to teach us about the sinister implications of surveillance in domestic and corporate life. What is our awareness and understanding of surveillance today? And have our attitudes towards it changed at all since the 1950s?"

19 Starbucks Meals From Around The World:
"America really needs to step up its croissant game."

"our evolution was just beginning"

The (Real) Story of the White House and the Big Block of Cheese:
"It turns out, however, that the Big Block of Cheese, this most American of American cheeses, is misunderstood—as a piece of history, as a piece of pop culture, as a piece of dairy. Jackson, who one historian notes "didn't think he should be guided by public opinion," offered the cheese to the public not so much in a spirit of open conversation as in one of desperation. Nor was he the first chief executive to receive an enormous cheese as a gesture of the relationship between the president and the people. The Big Block of Cheese was, more than anything else—perhaps just as it is today—a political tool, earnest and cynical in equal measure."

Watch Margot Robbie, John Cho, and More Stars Read Powerful Stories from Refugees:
"Anna Camp, Minnie Driver, Gael Garcia Bernal, and more share the stories of people in refugee camps, for Oxfam’s “I Hear You” campaign."

How Arrival’s Designers Crafted a Mesmerizing Alien Alphabet:
"Arrival is, to be sure, an alien flick. But under that sci-fi veneer is a film about communication, and the effort required to understand someone (or, in this case, something) who looks and speaks differently than you do."

Watch four alien worlds orbit a distant star:
"Star HR 8799 was born about the same time as humanity's ancestors — 60 million years ago, after the dinosaurs went extinct and the age of animals that would lead to our evolution was just beginning here on Earth. It's 129 light years away from us, tucked toward the front legs of the constellation Pegasus. It's so close and so brilliant (five times brighter than our own sun) that on a clear night it can easily be spotted by the naked eye."

You, Too, Will Love Big Brother: A Life Of Reading And Rereading '1984':
"It was a bright hot day in June. Or possibly July. And the clocks almost certainly weren't striking thirteen, because they don't do that in this country."