"very bored people"

Winston Churchill’s essay on alien life found:
"Winston Churchill’s essay Are We Alone in the Universe? was penned the year before he became prime minister, and reveals his keen interest in science."

First major exhibition by comic book artist John Higgins to open at VG&M:
"The first major retrospective of the work of Liverpool-born artist John Higgins, who found global success as a comic book artist and writer for 2000AD, DC and Marvel, is to be exhibited at the University’s Victoria Gallery & Museum." [via, via]

These 12 websites from the 90s show how useless the early internet was:
"A website. Literally, a website dedicated to the letter ‘A’"

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who & Sherlock:
“I’m sure I’ll miss it for the rest of my life,” he laments, “and reminisce to very bored people about how I used to be something, I used to matter, then sob on their shoulder and get kicked out the pub.”

10 most influential personal computers:
"Machines that helped transform the way we work and play, from big beige boxes to laptop-tablet hybrids."

Actually, Love, No.

Film Right then, let's address. As you will have seen and was reported to me by a few concerned citizens through social media, Comic Relief has announced that its mentor Richard Curtis has decided to produce a ten minute sequel to the worst film of all time for the televisual fundraiser.
As per Buzzfeed
(and a hundred other news organisations looking to do something other than report on the end of civilisation as we know it) (yes, I appreciate the irony), shooting begins today.

The Red Nose Day website has the press release which has notion of what it'll be and lists who the returning cast is:
"Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Rowan Atkinson will be stepping back into their iconic roles, alongside fellow cast members Martine McCutcheon, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lucia Moniz, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Bill Nighy and Marcus Brigstocke."
Buzzfeed has some pictures of these people in case you'd forgotten who they are.

Here is my luke warm take:

(1) Neither Emma Thompson or Laura Linney are returning it seems so we won't discover if the two main female characters from the first film had happy endings in the end after all.

(2) What will the tone be? Is it going to be shot in the same style and potentially act as a thirteen years later epilogue to the original affair or are they simply going to shoot the thing like a single camera sitcom with everyone in the same room and take the piss out of themselves. At least the first option would have some integrity.

(3) Marcus Brigstocke's expanded role suggests his scenes will be with Bill Nighy subbing in for Gregor Fisher in his story.

(4) Stalker Mark is back to menace Peter and Juliet. If it's in homage to the original ending (and let's face it ...) that'll make him not just even creepier but probably a police matter.

(5) No Martin Freeman and Joanna Page.

(6) No Kris Marshall either so we should be thankful for small mercies.

(7) Of course its entirely possible that anyone missing from the list will appear in a suprise cameo.

(8) Yes I'll watch it. You never know it could be good.

(9) At least it isn't a Class minisode.

(10) I'm going to be writing a review, aren't I?

Is charity an excuse for any of this?  Don't answer that.

100 Things About Me, Version 3.0

01 The first book I remember being read to me as a kid was The Midnight Folk by John Masefield.
02 My favourite time of day is the night.
03 I've stopped biting my nails.
04 For various reasons I can't drink either alcohol or caffeine. Fortunately, I've discovered Rooibus tea.
05 I'm disappointed if I haven't done at least one new thing each day.
06 I have hazel eyes.
07 I'm a bit of a loner.
08 My birthday is 31st October which makes me a ...
09 ... Scorpio. And everything you're heard is true. Even though I don't believe in any of that.
10 I don't wear jewellery. It just looks wrong.
11 My Dad is a retired watch maker and can always tell the time off the top of his head. I can as well, but I always seem to be five minutes out...
12 My five favourite films are When Harry Met Sally, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Seventh Seal, In The Bleak Midwinter and Star Wars. Some of those always change.
13 I'm happy if you're happy.
14 I don't smoke.
15 If I see people holding a map and looking bewildered in the street, I always stop and ask if they need directions. In Liverpool. I haven't a clue about anywhere else.
16 I can't say 'Honey'.
17 My keyring still has a key to every house I've ever lived in on it (except for the ones I've had to give back) and key fobs in the shape of the TARDIS and the Eiffel Tower. I carry the Doctor Who story City of Death around with me.
18 I have two hundred and eighty eight friends on Facebook. I’ve even met some of them.
19 I've never been further from marrying anyone than I am right now.
20 I don't own a smart phone. I have a Samsung "burner" and an ipod so that my web addiction has to take a rest whenever there isn't a wifi signal.
21 I've almost completely stopped going to the cinema. The prices. The audiences. The quality of the films.
22 The first poem I ever wrote was about a MouseSnail. I still don't know what one of those is. But in my young head it could swing through trees.
23 I haven't seen the girl I had my first kiss with since two minutes after it happened.
24 Four things I'd eat on the last day of your life: Fish and chips; Spaghetti Bolognese; Christmas Steak; Tesco Chicken Korma.
25 I'm not religious in the slightest but still awed by cathedraks.
26 I studied Information Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University which makes me a qualified librarian.
27 Some personal philosophies, beginning with: 'Wherever you go, there you are.'
28 'This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received actual instructions on where to go and what to do.'
29 'Be yourself. No matter where you go.'
30 'Time is a great dealer.'
31 'I can't hurt to help.'
32 'But sometimes it can hurt to help.'
33 I didn't hear Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven until the age of 28.
34 Even at my age, our small family still shares as many presents as we did when I was a child.
35 I took part in One and Other, Anthony Gormley's contribution to the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
36 My writing is always better when I'm working from someone else’s ideas. I'm not really that imaginative. I don’t think.
37 I can recited the whole of the first episode of ‘Friends‘. Still can't get REM's ‘It's the end of the world..’. Yet. But I can talk my way through Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘That Day’
38 I've visited every major public art collection in the north-west of England.
39 The first film to make me puke was ‘Annie’ (I was in a theatre in the bottom of an Isle of Man ferry in particularly choppy waters). The second was ‘Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan’. The third was ‘Switchblade Romance’
40 I spent a year commuting to Manchester University for an MA Screen Studies course. I miss the reading time on the train.
41 Wendy & Lisa's Closing of the Year always makes me cry. So does Nizpoli's The JCB Song.
42 My first teenage crush was with an older girl from a different school and I'd get the bus one stop to outside my school so that I could smile and wave at her each day and she'd smile back.
43 I have the same name as the big bad demon in the 'Hell's Bells' episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
44 My favourite colour is electric pink.
45 I have a leaving card from a job and I can't for the life of me remember who any of the people were and what the job was.
46 There's no justification for ignorance, racism, homophobia, sexism or misogyny. If you think there is, you're a bad person too.
47 I once owned a rabbit called Dunk after the character from the Wheetabix commercials.
48 My first job was at The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.
49 One of the best jobs I've ever had was volunteering in the Media Centre at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. For some reason I cared more for it than for jobs I've actually been paid for.
50 For a time my voice was used on Liverpool City Council's automated telephone system. It's my voice you would have heard if you were paying a parking ticket. Sorry.
51 No 42 nearly said "I never can get the hang of Thursdays", until I thought of something else.
52 Love Actually is rubbish.
53 I always wear odd socks. If it's job interview this differences can be very subtle. I once wrote a manifesto for odd socks wearers on a post-it note. I don't have this any longer.
54 Last winter this spread to my hands. I've been wearing odd coloured gloves.
55 The first holiday I remember is a wet week in Polperro.
56 The one thing I always remember about my Eighteenth Birthday is faux-Russian dancing with a girl I'd had a crush on for years to the dance version of the Tetris music by Dr. Spin. At that same party someone tried to request The Smith's Girlfriend in a Coma.
57 If I could live anywhere in the world it would be New York.
58 Anywhere in the UK, it would be Edinburgh.
59 Anywhere in England it would be London.
60 Anywhere in Liverpool it would be the city centre.
61 I didn't drink alcohol until the age of 20. My first drink was a bottle of Carlsberg at a Jazz Festival in Leeds.
62 Before my hernia operation I was told to lose weight. I lost five stone. I've since lost more. Some people don't recognise me.
63 I probably know more about the mechanics of US politics than the UK. At this point in time I'm glad of it.
64 My favourite play by Shakespeare is Measure for Measure. Unlike most of everything else, the ending isn't certain and takes an unexpected turn, a bit like life. My second is Hamlet, for obvious reasons.
65 I only ever need six hours sleep. If I get any more, I feel sleepy for the rest of the day.
66 I'm a pretty fast five finger typist. I can touch type just about.
67 I'm in all the crowd scenes at the end of the film There's Only One Jimmy Grimble.
68 We have a real Christmas tree every year.
69 I've never taken drugs.
70 At various times I've owned or borrowed an Acorn Electron, Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum+, Acorn A3000, Camputer Lynx, N64, Nintendo Gameboy, 286, 386, 486 Pentium etc, Sega Master System, Sony Playstation.
71 The little finger on my left hand is much smaller than on my right. It's like Danny DeVito to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins.
72 The first weblog I ever read was Rebbeca's Pocket. It took me a while to notice other people were doing the same thing.
73 My favour Doctor is Paul McGann.
74 The bell alarm clock I received for my 18th birthday still works. I only ever replace anything when it breaks.
75 I still hate computers. It's pity they can be so damn useful. We can't live without them now.
76 My last holiday was to Stratford Upon Avon in 2009. Not really being able to afford to go away, I'm currently having a monthly day in London.
77 I don't tend to favour a particular period of art, but I'm more impressed if the artist has technically put the work in.
78 When I was kid, I wanted to grow up to be Zoologist. Then I saw a documentary in which an animal was put down and I cried for days and gave up that ambition.
79 I've never been very good at science or learning languages.
80 I tend to know a little about everything. Sometimes. It depends.
81 My handwriting is atrocious due to years of typing everything.
82 I have no interest in football. I fell out of love after crying for hours when Man U beat Everton in the FA Cup Final.
83 I voted Green in the last election, but I'm considering the Lib Dems again. I'd be a Democrat if I was from the States.
84 I have no tattoos.
85 I've never stolen anything from a shop.
86 I was once at The Albert Dock in Liverpool with a friend and momentarily distracted Alan Bennett by doing Beavis and Butt-head impressions.
87 The first time my name appeared in print was because I won a "Be an Interplanetary Spy" book from Secret Wars comic.
88 The only time I visited a magazine office was Zzap! 64 in Ludlow. It was very small and similar to a telesales place I worked at for a week on very low wages.
89 I always include my middle name because I'm the only Stuart Ian Burns around. It gives me some measure of anonymity online as well as none at all.
90 There are very few famous people I'd want to meet. Never meet your heroes, they're likely to disappoint you.
91 I'm a very slow reader which means I have to really commit myself to a book. I don't read a lot of books.
92 I once called up a radio station in the middle of the night to make the important point that Harry Enfied isn't that funny. I wasn't drunk. IN 2007 I asked a question on the Radio Four programme, 'Any Questions?'
93 I once walked through a Macdonalds drive-in to get a burger with the cars. I wasn't drunk. I just didn't realise there was a pedestrian bit.
94 I don't need to get drunk to do weird things.
95 When I was training for a job once, I had to say three things only one of which was the truth. I said I'd had an album out, I'd had a book published and that I was in a film. They all thought it was the book, which is quite flattering.
96 I've now been in the same job of ten years.
97 My favourite podcasts are This American Life, Wittertainment and FiveThirtyEight.
98 My favourite superhero is Spider-man.
99 I had a nursery teacher called Mrs Kilgallen. She used to call me the banana boy because I used to eat banana butties for lunch every day.
100 I've left some really embarrassing stuff out of this list (and arguably left some really embarrassing stuff in).

"sing the praise of its serviceability"

Here's What TfL Learned From Tracking Your Phone On the Tube:
"At the end of last year, between 21st November and 19th December, Transport for London carried out an intriguing trial: It was going to track your phone on the London Underground."

The Manhattan Bridge Is Not Romantic. But It’s Nice.
"The Manhattan Bridge is no double rainbow. Its color spectrum runs from rust to vomit-in-the-sea blue. There are no ceremonial walks across the Manhattan. Known as the “Rodney Dangerfield of New York City bridges,” it couldn’t even get respect for its 100-year anniversary, just a simple toast. But as someone who lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan I’m ready to sing the praise of its serviceability. It’s the main vein into the city that sees more than 450,000 commuters every weekday, and the bicyclist’s preferred path."

Is Hooters as delicious as it is demeaning?
"The one time I suggested to my wife that we visit Hooters for some wings, she looked at me like I had sworn in church. She would never step foot in that den of smut, not in a thousand years. For me, it was all about the Buffalo-style fried chicken wings, which I found delicious. But it was a hard sell convincing her I was indifferent to the waitresses in skimpy outfits, sort of like saying I read Playboy solely for the articles (which I do, for real)."

My Baftas adventure: Dev Patel, liquid diabetes and clapping injuries:
"All the stars were at the awards ceremony. And so was our columnist, stuffing his face with weird food and applauding everything from duff skits to political point-scoring."

Doctor Who: 10 Years of the Companion Chronicles:
"Big Finish kept the flame of Doctor Who alive through the lean years between the Paul McGann TV Movie and Russell T Davies' reboot of the ongoing series in 2006. The team have continued to expand the Doctor Who universe with new tales starring the Doctors and his many companions. James Cooray Smith selects 10 highlights from 10 years of the Doctor's Companion Chronicles..."

"charming tales have lived on"

LA LA LAND: Singin’ in the sun:
"In our Film Studies program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, one of our aims is to integrate critical analysis of movies with a study of film history. Sometimes that means researching how conditions in the film industry shape and are shaped by the creative choices made by filmmakers. We also study how filmmakers draw on artistic norms, old or recent, in making new films. This effort to put films into wider historical contexts is something that you don’t get in your usual movie review."

Kirk Douglas: ‘I never thought I’d live to 100. That’s shocked me’
"He uses a walker, and a stroke has affected his speech, but the old charm is still there as the actor recalls his old Hollywood friends Burt Lancaster and John Wayne – and how he was never really a tough guy."

Bagpuss and Co.
"Bagpuss is one of those series that holds a special place in many people’s memories. First transmitted on BBC1 today in 1974, only 13 episodes were made, but the simple and charming tales have lived on - partly thanks to their being regularly repeated on the BBC for many years, then finding new life on other channels, and being released on VHS and DVD. But there is an essential eccentric warmth about the series that accounts for the affection in which it is held."

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?
"There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?"

Obscure Gems Revisited:
"Larger than Life is, essentially, the same story as Rain Man. A cynical, materialistic character learns that his father has died but that to collect his inheritance he has to undertake a road trip accompanied by a beloved associate of his dead dad. The travelling companion is difficult to control, but during the trials he endures alongside him, the protagonist learns to be a better man. Except instead of Tom Cruise, you get Bill Murray; and instead of an autistic savant, you get an elephant. In what way is that not instantly superior?" [via]

My Favourite Film of 1912.

Film The Titanic disaster is one of those historical events which has been told and retold so often across the past century, mythologised and fictionalised, that it's easily forgotten that the ship itself and its crew, before and after the voyage were captured on silent film cameras, it's possible to see the reality of some of these events. But here we again with Pathe news and as they describe, genuine footage:

However counterproductive the transfer is shocking and the choice of some mournful Moonlight Sonata is still not enough to detract from the magic of this visual record. Mainly we're forced to confront the aftermath, the long journey home of the survivors, those waiting for news outside the White Star Line offices in New York in the time before even radio broadcasts when the only way to receive up to the minute information was to turn up in person.