Saturday, 31 March 2012

A Pile of Poems

For the poetry module of my creative writing course we had to submit a mini-collection of our own poems for assessment. So, while compiling them, I thought I'd show my avid blogollowers (no, I don't think it will catch on either) a mini-collection of my poetry mini-collection. Hope you like them. Any feedback would of course be greatly appreciated.

The Man in the Mirror

The Mirror hangs on the wall
Above the fireplace

Ornate and oblong with golden frame
And decorative jewels

This attic room is layered in the dust of ages
But not the mirror

I am fascinated by it
Without knowing why

When I turn my head to look away
I get my answer

The Man in the Mirror
He doesn’t move an inch

The Blackbird

The blackbird sits on the gravestone
With eyes alert
Protector of the Dead
Or searching for bread crumbs

The Guard
My place is in the corner of the gallery
I am the first to see the visitors as they arrive
They never give me more than a glance
I see them peering at each artwork
With either intellectual passion or faux interest
I am alone with the pieces during the quiet of the night
I sometimes think the painted, sculpted eyes will move
But I know it is impossible
I have been trying to for years
And damn this nagging itch I can’t reach!

The above are all free-verse poems as we mainly focussed on modern poetry but anyone who likes their poetry to rhyme I hope you enjoy this one:

A Sonnet in Scarlet
Eighteen Ninety Five, London laced with fog
An impossible crime in a locked room
Is made, seen by no one caught in the smog
Lestrade will be lost, no solution looms
And, what’s more, a strange cipher by his side
Is this the work of James Moriarty,
A name which makes policemen run and hide?
I’m at the scene but have a friend with me
Domed head, drawn face, deerstalker and clay pipe
He’s mastered the science of deduction
His calculating mind is always ripe
But drug habits cause his self-destruction
The best and wisest man whom ever lived
Sherlock Holmes, the World’s Greatest Detective

And, finally, for those who like experimental poetry, here's one made from cut-and-pasting (yup, really). I had two newspaper articles and alternately used a phrase from each article to form the lines of this poem:

News of the Day
Officials insist
The collsions created
Were not reckless
Particle physicists are
Creating widespread shortages
In supersymetry
The political storm
Transmits the weak nuclear force
Potentially jeopardizing safety
The like would be a serious headache
Forget the rules
The lack of imminent threat
In two dimensional layers
Would be awkward and perverse

Aaaaand, for those of you who don't like poetry at all you may be consoled with the fact this will probably be the last poetry post on this blog for a while -if ever - as I don't plan on doing the form again in my university course.
Happy times and places; see you in April, folks!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

A blog post for 'Buffy'

I realise I'm about ten years behind the rest of the world when I say this but I'll go ahead with it anyway..I've only just started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I literally hadn't seen an episode before last month.
It's strange that I haven't before now since some of my favourite shows are series that mix the extraordinary with the ordinary e.g. Doctor Who, Torchwood, Being Human, even Sherlock, I'd say. I also knew of the impact Buffy had on those shows - Russel T Davies is a huge Buffy fan and now having seen it I can see the influence on his Doctor Who and in particular Torchwood - yet I just had never got round to sitting down and watching it. However, over the Christmas break, I caught an episode on SyFy, the one where there's no dialogue (Buffy fans among you may know the title) and decided it looked like a quirky, fun series and made a note to myself: 'you know, I should watch more of these.'
And I did. Since then I've watched Season One and I've nearly completed Season Two and I have to say I'm having a whale of a time.
Season One is a little ropey and inconsistent, I'll admit, but it significantly held my interest and liked the lead characters straight away. Sarah Michelle Gellar is of course great in the lead while I really like Alyson Hannigan's Willow and Nicholas Brendan as Xander. Oh, and Anthony Head as Giles is fun too. Even Angel's not too bad even if even if I do keep thinking 'Ah, so that's who Edward Cullen's based on.'
Season Two is a whole lot better though, I feel. The momentum is cranked up and the main cast has swelled - in a good way (there must be about ten lead charcters by mid season two). Spike and Drusilla I'm fond of as the Big Bads (I believe that's the term) plus it gets even better when Angel goes bad, giving David Boreanez a chance to do some evil.
I realise I've got a long way to go til the end of the series and probably a few months of viewing but I'm enjoying mysefl doing so. With the lack of any Doctor Who on TV over the spring and summer, it's nice to have a great show to look forward to watching.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Doctor's New Girl

I refrained from using it as the title of this piece, so indulge me now as I ask; Who's this girl?

I doubt you're hearing it first from me, but as a Doctor Who fan (oh, you didn't know? Gee, sorry you had to find out like this) with a blog I have to mention it.
Yesterday, 25-year old Jenna-Louise Coleman was announced as the new Doctor Who companion! We've all known Amy and Rory's time in the TARDIS was coming to an end (well, it sort of has already...) for ages but now we finally know their successor. Coleman, although not a household name, is not as unknown as Matt, Karen and Arthur were when they formed the new TARDIS crew in 2010. She was a lead in ITV soap Emmerdale and BBC school drama Waterloo Road as well as playing a majo role in the new high-profile series on the sinking of the Titanic. We've been given nothing of her character at the moment, apart from this cryptic snippet from show-runner the Moff:

"It's not often the Doctor meets someone who can talk even faster than he does, but it's about to happen. Jenna is going to lead him his merriest dance yet. And that's all you're getting for now. Who she's playing, how the Doctor meets her, and even where he finds her, are all part of one of the biggest mysteries the Time Lord ever encounters. Even by the Doctor's standards, this isn't your usual boy meets girl."

And that's not all. Having starved us for months, the world was inundated with Who news yesterday. Which I'll take you through now, cos I'm just that kind.
Firstly, episode-wise, it has been revealed we will have just six episodes of Doctor Who this year. Five as part of the series - with the fifth episode being Amy and Rory's last - and a Christmas special which will be Jenna's debut. This might not seem a lot but in 2013 we are promised the other eight episodes of Series Seven and presumably the entire Series Eight! So we'll have to get through this year on a diet and then we can feast!
Also, if anything else was needed to get the world's Whovians in a quiver, we've been told that the Weeping Angels will return - in Amy and Rory's final episode! Could they...? You don't think that...? Mr Moffat was suitably on hand to calm fans when he said:

"Not everyone gets out alive. And I mean it this time!"

As comforting as ever! And not only that, we've been promised the Daleks WILL be back this year - which will please the pepper-pot killing machine lover in all of us!

So Jenna-Louise Coleman? Many a fan is, as always, complaining at her appointment for a variety of reasons or moaning that the show will never be the same again when Amy and Rory leave - but I say 'deal with it.' Doctor Who is all about embracing change, and although tis true I adore the Ponds and they will be hard to beat I welcome Jenna with metaphorically open metaphorical arms; I have utter faith in the production team that they have chosen the best girl for the job.

Now, I guess the only thing to say is...

*Warning: artwork not my own. I wish but 'fraid not.*

Saturday, 10 March 2012

DW50 Countdown: The Second Doctor (Part Two)

Continuing my mission to watch a story of each Doctor's that is not seen as a classic (my aim being to still prove it's still excellent viewing), this week I sat down to watch 1966's 'The Faceless Ones' starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor.  Get ready, people, we're off to the airport!

Having watched companions Ben and Polly's introductory story last month, when searching for a Second Doctor story to review this one I thought it only fitting I chose their final adventure. I also had little knowledge of the serial and so could enjoy watching a Doctor Who and not know what's going to happen. I'm pleased to tell you now it didn't disappoint, being far more atmospheric, pacy and intriguing than 'The War Machines' which, if you read my review, you'll know I rather liked.

The opening moments must be some of the most dynamic of the 'classic' series - the TARDIS materialising on a airport runway, directly in the way of an oncoming jet! It's a great start which throws into the action straight away; rather than a slow exploration of their surroundings the TARDIS team have to run for their lives within seconds of arriving. Perfect!
As with 'The War Machines', this story has a mundane setting but which it makes fantastically unfamiliar. That's right, our heroes are at Gatwick Airport where shortly after escaping the jet plane, split up and discover the existence of a dead body in one of the hangars. What does this have to do with Chameleon Tours, an airline that offers cheap flights across Europe to young people? Ten minutes in and we already have a mystery to sink our teeth into.

As you may have noticed, I highly praise the story telling of these episodes. The plot steadily builds across all six episodes, helped by some great cliffhangers. Polly seemingly forgotten the Doctor and Jamie at the end of Part One is possibly my favourite but other greats include the reveal of the hideous Chameleon creatures themselves in Part Two and the Chameleon Tours plane's ascent to space closing Part Four. It's genuinely creepy, too. Although basically a rendition of the well-known 'Invasion of the Body-Snatchers' plot, it makes for an uneasy feeling for the character and as a viewer: you don't know if the character you're watching is an alien or not.

However, what makes this story extra special though is it's strong characters. The guest characters of the airport staff are all likeable, notable examples being Jean the secretary (played by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch's mum, Wanda Ventham - yes, they have to have odd names in his family) and the stuffy Commandant, who goes from believing the Doctor mad to trusting him entirely.
The Doctor and Jamie are at the heart of this adventure, the writer's obviously knowing they had a great partnership on their hands, and both come off well. 18th century-er Jamie's confusion at 'flying beasties' in the sky at the start is endearing and he even gets a love interest sub-plot in Samantha, a feisty scouse girl, also well-played by future Queen Victoria Pauline Collins. The pair hit it off straight away - I think she likes the rather revealing kilt - and even share a snog half-way through. Given this much character development (I can't remember many companions having relationships like this) it's a surprise she doesn't stay on as a companion but she's a fun character while she lasts anyway.
Of course, Troughton is as ever on top form, his playful buffoonery and dislike of authority come through straight away - now stalwart traits of our hero, they were making some of their early appearances here. He also gets to play trickster when sparking the Chameleons off each other in the later episodes to cause friction. It's this juxtaposing of his clownish nature and cunning wiles that make Troughton the great Doctor he is.
On the other hand, there's a big downside with how Ben and Polly are dealt with. After getting caught up with the Chameleons in Part Two we don't see either again until Part Six. Having two of your lead characters, especially in their final story, packed off screen for several episodes is never a plus but it is sort of compensated by their touching farewell scene. Having finally got back together, Ben and Polly realise that it's the very day they first left with the Doctor, like they've never been away at all. Overcome with homesickness knowing they're back where they belong they make their tearful goodbyes. The Doctor's melancholy last words to them -'You've found your home. I never got back to mine'- would have been an excellent reminder for audiences at the time that the Doctor was still a mystery and still gives a tingly feeling when heard today.

Overall, a terrific Doctor Who story of which it's largest downfall is not at all it's own fault; the footage of all but Parts One and Three have been lost for decades, leaving just the audios. Although with the aid of many screen shots and subtitled descriptions they can't hope to evoke the feel of watching the full thing. However, with the discovery of two presumed lost forever episodes last November, who knows what may be found in the future. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

DW50 Countdown - The Second Doctor (Part One)

As Doctor Who's half-centenary is fast approaching like a police box hurtling through the Time vortex I'm dedicating a blog post to each Doctor every month. So, who's it now? Oh my giddy aunt - it's the Second Doctor!

'There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.'
                                                 The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)

Being a new Doctor Who, following on from another actor who has entertained childen and adults alike, will always be an incredibly tough job -  just think how nervous Matt Smith must have been taking over from the widely worshipped David Tennant - so imagine how difficult it must have been for Patrick Troughton to win over the audiences as the first new actor to take on the role, when he replaced Hartnell in 1966. The shock on the faces of Ben and Polly who witness The Doctor regenerate for the very first time at the end of his very first adventure with the Cybermen (sadly all but the final moments of such a landmark story have been lost) must have been echoed on that of viewers up and down the country. The Doctor could change his whole appearance. The show would never be the same again.

It soon became clear he had changed his personality too. Doctor Two was a very different character from Hartnell's Doctor - a kind of 'space hobo' rather than an Edwardian gentlemen - but equally as loveable. He was certainly more in on the action than his predecessor ever was, obviously loving getting into scrapes with his friends. The Second Doctor's adventures don't just happen around him he is thoroughly involved - even being the cause occasionally such as the notorious scene in Tomb of the Cybermen when the Doctor pulls the levers that open said tombs. Despite his reputation as a clown, though, Doctor Two has a real dark and cunning aspect to his personality that is always bubbling underneath the bumbling exterior. Villains of the universe, irk this man at your own peril.

The Second Doctor is also better at keeping friends, having far fewer companions than Hartnell. He inherited Ben and Polly for a while before being joined by prim and proper Victorian girl, er, Victoria and later space-age science genius Zoe. But this Doctor's greatest friend is cetainly Jamie McCrimmon.  The young Scottish highlander constantly attired in his kilt stayed with the Doctor through nearly all his adventures before being forced to leave him by the Time Lords who subsequently banished the Doctor to Earth and changed his appearance...

Overall, Patrick Troughton's witty, funny, dark, reckless and hugely endearing portrayal of the Doctor left ripples throughout the history of the show, affecting the perfomance of every Doctor after him. So much so that many see him as the first 'proper' Doctor - we definitely have Troughton to thank for so many of the characteristics we associate with the Doctor nowadays; the buffoonery hiding a brilliant, calculating mind, the scruffy appearance, the often reckless behaviour even each Doctor's penchant for having favourite phrases (Troughton is often heard calling ''when I say 'run', run!''). It is a credit to his reliably fine performances that he is now so many's favourite Doctor.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Vids of the Month!

Yes, it's that special time again!

It's time to drop everything and watch some youtube videos (like you weren't doing that already)!

It's time... for VIDS OF THE MONTH!

*Cheap gameshow music*

Yes, ladies and gentlemen we have a great collection of short videos for you to enjoy today. Let's start the countdown!


For a long-term Simpsons fan and childhood Muppet fan, this segment from a Simpsons Christmas special from a couple of years ago meant lots of laughs. I think it's a good example of how, in my opinion, the Simpsons is still just as funny as it used to be - I'll always prefer it to Family Guy. Warning: contains Katy Perry.


A fun scene for you all that was posted on the Being Human website showing Tom the werewolf telling a pro-wolf version of the fairy tale to baby Eve. Aw


I just had to include a scene from Sherlock. From the opening of Series One finale 'The Great Game' this is one of my favourite moments from the whole series. It shows no matter where you dip into the show the characters of Sherlock and John and their relationship come through; the careless, lazy but brilliant detective and his put-upon everyman best friend. I particularly like the bit where Sherlock virtually insults John and then seems suprised and a little hurt when he walks out. A cracker. 


As this blockbuster behemoth is being released soon, I thought I'd post the trailer here. Bound to have comc book fans across the world salivating for the duration of the film, it will famously bring the majority of Marvel's superheroes together in one film. I myself am not overly eagerly awaiting its release - Spiderman, the only Marvel superhero I particularly like is absent from the film - but it is written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon who will surely make a good job of it.


Here is something a lot more up my street. While he was still working at Disney in the 80s, Tim Burton made this short film of a boy who prefers spending time wallowing in his macabre imagination than play with other children out in the sunshine. It's pure Burton gold from when he was still new and fresh and Vincent Price's narration gives it exactly the right tone. Magic.

That's your lot for this month. Tune in again soon for more Youtube raidings! Guh'night!
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