Saturday Waffling (October 26th, 2013)

(35 comments)

I am on vacation, which is (I assume) quite lovely. I say "I assume" because I'm queuing this up as part of my commitment to not actually doing any work on my vacation, which is a novel concept that I feel like experimenting with. (Spoiler: I'm going to fail, since I'm checking the proof copy of A Golden Thread and still actually have to write Tuesday's post because I'm an idiot and forgot)

In the spirit of my not doing any work, I encourage you to come up with interesting conversations all on your own, without any prompt on my part, thus giving me entertaining things to read on my phone while I nervously attempt to deal with the fact that I'm outside and there's sunlight, which is not the sort of situation I am generally well-suited to.

Comments

wumbo 3 years, 10 months ago

What does everyone think of Russell Brand's interview on Newsnight? I think he's dead on. http://youtu.be/3YR4CseY9pk

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The Upright Man 3 years, 10 months ago

Brand is a very clever man, and I'm happy that he's been able to re-invent himself from sex/drug/fame-addicted TV show host to politically-savvy comic. However I still think all he's doing is just Saying Words Out Of His Mouth.

For real political comedy, I'd always side with Stewart Lee or Mark Thomas or Rob Newman, et al. Yes, I know they all do it differently to Brand but they also have substance.

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

I was going to post about the Russel Brand interview but I'm not surprised I was beaten to it. I loved it to death when I first saw it but after prolonged internet debate am now not so sure. If he is advocating just not voting or apathy as a solution then he is wrong and dishonourong those who fought for the right to vote. If however, and I suspect this is more likely, he is advocating the idea that expecting the act of voting itself to change things and just sit around waiting for it to happen is wrong headed then I'm with him all the way. For this Anarcho Marxist critique to appear on a major BBC news programme is extraordinary and a credit to Brands ongoing attempt to manoeuvre his profile from gobby comic to cultural icon. It is an impassioned and animated performance advocating revolution as a catalyst for material social progress and as such should be viewed by all the readers of this blog. Not least because Russel Brand would make a fantastic Doctor. Discuss.

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Arresi 3 years, 10 months ago

Well, that was a trainwreck of an interview, wasn't it? Nothing like two people talking past each other, one focused on nonsensical trivialities in the guise of encouraging civic behavior and the other focused on passionately tearing down other people's work while acting like he's taking a principled moral stance.

If I understood all that, Brand wants people to change the government and economic system, without actually participating in politics or supporting capitalist corporation. This apparently includes voting, but not running a political magazine. But he's apparently a bit squeamish about the death-tolls and increased suffering associated with actual revolutions. And he's apparently not a believer in the let it all fall and rise up out of the post-apocalyptic ashes plan. So, what, he's the liberal version of the Tea Party?

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sleepyscholar 3 years, 10 months ago

Though memorably Chris Morris (another name for your list) described Mark Thomas, rather accurately, as a guy who "bullied secretaries".

What Brand has over the other comedians you mention, and even Morris, is his profile. He's sufficiently successful in Hollywood that the words out of his mouth can actually have more impact.

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Triturus 3 years, 10 months ago

It's a great interview. It's very easy to be cynical about comedians dipping their toes into political waters, but I thought he got his point across very well. Also he made Paxman look like Bill Grundy, so that's another point in his favour. Paxman seemed to spend most of the interview banging on about voting and not taking Brand seriously enough, and he got his bum bitten clean off for it, which was quite delightful to watch.

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wumbo 3 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, I think Brand's arguing it's the politicians who're dishonouring those who fought for the right to vote - presenting us a choice between two wings of the Business Party, getting into bed with old power and doing what they can to crush any viable alternative.

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Daibhid C 3 years, 10 months ago

For some reason, I get irrationally annoyed with Russell Brand before he even has a chance to say anything, so I haven't heard the interview, and therefore (and this is an interesting idea that I think newspaper columnists should take on board) don't have an opinion on it.

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Stephen Jeffers 3 years, 10 months ago

"For this Anarcho Marxist critique to appear on a major BBC news programme is extraordinary"

It's really not, though. The BBC, Newsnight and Paxman do talk to people of all stripes. Here's Paxman not letting Ann Coulter get away with the shit she is in America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aiHbUplz3k

I saw the Brand thing and saw the same thing as that - Paxman successfully calling a performer on his vapid beliefs, Brand reacting defensively with the Howl Of The Internet 'I'm entitled to my opinion', but when challenged his position turns out to be as deep as a kiddy's paddling pool.

David Foster Wallace has Brand covered:

http://alexlikestowrite.tumblr.com/post/35084086615/ifyoudontvote

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Spacewarp 3 years, 10 months ago

I've always thought Russell Brand similar to David Beckham in one big respect. They look absolutely fantastic...until they open their mouths. In Brand's case his accent just punctures his persona for me, because it's such a terrible Essex twang, and I grew up in the same town as him (Grays) surrounded by it.

It did make me think the other day though, during his marriage to Katy Perry, did he ever take her back to meet his folks? The thought of Katy Perry walking through Grays Town Centre...the mind boggles.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 10 months ago

When someone starts using the phrase "destroying the planet" over and over, I stop listening. He's an arse and he doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. Mind you Paxman's no better here, continually asking Brand why someone who doesn't vote should be qualified to talk about politics. That doesn't even deserve a response.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 10 months ago

I haven't seen the interview. But I'm a big fan of building the new society by ignoring and bypassing the existing political structure rather than trying to take that structure over in either the electoral/voting method or the violent-revolution method. Happily, anarchism is the only political philosophy that doesn't require taking over the existing power structure in order to succeed.

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

You should definitely watch it then. His views are simplistic and his demands are exhaustive. I love the way he just refuses to acknowledge Paxman's world view or play the usual confrontational interview games thus wrong footing Paxman and by association the establishment at every turn. My favourite response to yet another attempt to put him on the spot and force a world saving strategy out of him - 'I don't know I was a bit too busy being a drug addict at the time'.

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

Ah the English oppression by self-hate syndrome. We must be the only country in the world whose working class are actually ashamed of the sound of our own voices.

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Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 10 months ago

A fantastic look at the recovered "Enemy of the World", inspired and influenced by Phil's own take on it: http://www.avclub.com/articles/enemy-of-the-world,104385/ :-)

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Ed Azad 3 years, 10 months ago

They used to ask Chomsky that constantly. "What's your utopia?" "What's your plan?" He just responded there was no plan, that you just have to organize until you have a coherent platform, and that anyone who offers a plan is a snake-oil salesman. After all, the right usually wins in the end because their beliefs are coherent and simple.

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Stephen Jeffers 3 years, 10 months ago

"After all, the right usually wins in the end because their beliefs are coherent and simple."

Capitalism usually wins because it comes up with a mechanism that gives people an incentive to provide a society with food and security.

There's a particular type of anarcho-liberalism that appeals to celebrities who've fluked success. Russell Brand is where he is because some TV producer liked his silly hair. Or, I suppose, because millions of people have each directly and indirectly given him a tiny amount of the money they've earned doing actual work. This is a system that requires lots of saps and one Russell Brand, not one that would sustain lots of Russell Brands.

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Cleofis 3 years, 10 months ago

So, how about that "The Light At The End"? Preeeeetty underwhelming, not gonna lie, getting the classic Doctors all together notwithstanding. Although thinking on it now I'm not sure I expected much anyway.

On a random aside, I just got a PS Vita the other day and already adore it. Aside for my now having a portable Metal Gear Solid and Persona machine, it comes as close to my platonic ideal of a handheld system as we've yet to come (wherein it's literally just a portable Playstation I can play PS1/PS2 games on, in addition to the handheld titles). Gravity Rush in particular I've fallen in love with, and would highly recommend.

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Ed Azad 3 years, 10 months ago

I'll agree with that. Capitalism, for all its defects and near-obsolescence, has done more for social democracy. Because a free market can't discriminate. What the far right is campaigning for -- and for the most part, already enjoy -- is socialism for the rich. (Or wingnut welfare) So, off we go. Rolling back the clock to a time of race-baiting and paranoid politics, even though it's detrimental to the economy. Because the Tea Party isn't interested in money.

I don't think Russel has crossed to being a "useful idiot" or "tool" yet. He's not dumb. He knows what happens to Abbie Hoffman types who burn themselves on television trying to "WAKE people up." They burn out. I like his aloofness and acknowledgment of his own absurd fame. Nothing wears out my patience in a recession than the media (and especially musicians) carrying on as usual, evangelizing the same old consumerism and glam excess when their listeners don't have clean shoes to wear.

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Nick Smale 3 years, 10 months ago

I've always thought Russell Brand similar to David Beckham in one big respect. They look absolutely fantastic...until they open their mouths.

You probably have to have lived in the south east to think this. I'm as perceptive (and no doubt judgemental) about the accents I'm familiar with (south west and north west mostly) as any Englishman, however Brand and Beckham just sound "London-y" to me; I know that by sound alone I'd struggle to place them on a social spectrum amongst other London-y sounding people like Boris Johnson, Jamie Oliver or the cast of East Enders...

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Bennett 3 years, 10 months ago

I was surprised that The Light at the End wasn't the major topic of this week's waffle.

For me it ticked all the right boxes, but was also clearly a box-ticking exercise. Which it sort of had to be. And it surpassed the expectations I had following Briggs' last major work, Dark Eyes (having a satisfying conclusion helped, for one).

Glad I bought it. Enjoyed listening to it. Will listen to it again. But I also think it's the most compelling argument yet for the tack The Day of the Doctor appears to be taking. (Though Briggs states in an interview with Radio Free Skaro that Moffat expressed his envy of being able to have the classic Doctors in leading roles, and depicted as they were decades ago).

...and call me insane, but I think I actually prefer Zagreus.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 10 months ago

Ah no I don't hate my accent. I'm quite proud of it, to such an extent that after 30 years in the East Midlands I've still got it. But I do think it sounds horrible on anyone else but me.

Beckham has grown into a stunningly attractive man, reminscent of a young Clint Eastwood, while Brand looks the very epitome of a tragically Christ-like early 70s rock star. But their voices don't fit what they look like. Beckham in particular opens his mouth and instead of the throaty bass you would expect, you get someone who sounds like Joe Pasquale.

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J Mairs 3 years, 10 months ago

You're not insane. I prefer Zagreus as well, and The Light at the End was pretty underwhelming. I listened to the first half and sure didn't rush back for the second.

It helps that Zagreus is a better story rather than a case of given the crowd what they want. ;)

That said, when I did like their use of the first three Doctors - despite not being able to distinguish one from the other most of the time!

That said, it's not a bad story and I'm glad it exists. It follows in the vein of The Five Doctors, of being a big celebration with an excuse plot than, say The Three Doctors.

Now... roll of The Day of the Doctor.

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prandeamus 3 years, 10 months ago

Well, since we can discuss anything, here's an exercise in memory and, perhaps child psychology for you, with a "Who" slant. I turned 50 this year, just a few months ahead of the programme itself (June, since you ask, but it's too late to send a card now)

Anyway, Doctor Who was in the background for most of my childhood. I have no recollection of seeing Hartnell, but I have a few patchy memories of seeing Troughton. Until recently, the first "Who" memories I can clearly identify in hindsight were from "The War Games".

But I've been thinking about an earlier memory of seeing a Dalek, and the deathless phrase "go-back-to-your-room-vic-to-ri-a". And a similar memory of my own father saying with mock excitement that the Doctor was working for the Daleks. Only recently the penny has dropped. This must have been "Evil of the Daleks", broadcast first in 67 and then again as a repeat in 68 (starting on my fifth birthday!).

So, it looks like this is one of my earliest dateable memories. Unless it was repeated after 68 or that clip was re-used. The memory, as has been said before, cheats.

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elvwood 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm jealous. I turn 50 next year, and I missed both those broadcasts because I started watching sometime during season 5 - either The Abominable Snowmen or The Ice Warriors, I think - but got too scared during Fury from the Deep (the cliffhanger when foam poured down on Victoria) and stopped watching until Spearhead. I loved the Daleks, too!

Still, congratulations on hunting down that (probable) memory!

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elvwood 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm trying to put off listening, at least until November. I'm anticipating a celebratory piece of fluff rather than anything significant plotwise, so hopefully I won't be disappointed by the lack of the latter. We'll see.

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Bob Dillon 3 years, 10 months ago

I didn''t get into Dr who until the gap just before McCoy, ( I was about 11 at the time). My interest was piqued by a copy the Power of Kroll I found lying on the library floor. I picked it up, and was hooked, and was very happy to hear it was comming back.

Then years later I decoded a recurring image which of someone lying on a peice of grass with weird people looking on as being Tom regeneratign into Peter, which at 4years is probably my earliest memory

Bob

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Daibhid C 3 years, 10 months ago

My earliest clear DW memory is Nyssa and Tegan getting de-aged in Mawdryn Undead when I was seven. But I definitely knew who the Doctor was, and that he used to have curly hair and a robot dog.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 10 months ago

My earliest memory is of them slapping a tea tray over a hole in the wall, followed by a Cybermen trying to stop foam pouring out of his chest-unit, so I guess The Moonbase was my first definite Who story. I've dined out on that a few times, along with having seen Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979.

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ferret 3 years, 10 months ago

That's a great write-up. AV Club's classic Doctor Who reviews is how I discovered TARDIS Eruditorium, in their review of "The Mind Robber": http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-mind-robber,59816/

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Ross 3 years, 10 months ago

Hm. My earliest coherent Doctor Who memory is Time and the Rani, but I have earlier, less clear ones. The thing I think of as my first memory is fairly nonsensical, an elision of Terminus and Warrior's Gate.

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benny whitehead 3 years, 10 months ago

Alpha Centuri in The Curse of Peladon. Scared theliving daylights out of me. Must have been 4 years old.

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ferret 3 years, 10 months ago

I'd definitely seen more leading up to it as my older sister was nuts for Doctor Who, but my earliest memory would be at 3 and a half years old watching Logopolis when the Doctor fell to his death. I remember being appalled: you can't kill the hero, that's not how TV works!

Imagine how hard my jaw hit the floor...

My second memory came 9 months later, on holiday somewhere cold and grim (it was November), as we turned on the TV in our caravan for the first time as my sister somehow knew Doctor Who would be on. I was a bit disappointed at first: the reception seemed pretty poor as the picture quality was terrible, and worse still we'd been saddled with a black and white TV.

I could only tell it was Doctor Who because there in the gloom was a policeman walking past the TARDIS, which oddly had a white circle sticker on one door. It was the 1981 repeat of An Unearthly Child.

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Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 10 months ago

Same here, actually! Christopher Bahn really is a great reviewer, isn't he? :-)

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Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 10 months ago

"I could only tell it was Doctor Who because there in the gloom was a policeman walking past the TARDIS, which oddly had a white circle sticker on one door. It was the 1981 repeat of An Unearthly Child."

...damn; it's almost magical, the way you describe it. :-)

My first Who memory was much more recent than any of yours. I'd first read about it in a little two-page blurb from an old Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, written in the early '90s but republished enough time after that the copy I had was much newer than that. It seemingly only covered as far as the Pertwee years, because it mentioned that the Ice Warriors were the only Who monsters (of which they had a list of three or four, I think) to turn good.

That must've been 2001, 2002; sometime during the Dark Years. I hadn't an inkling it'd ever been cancelled, or even was to be brought back; it was just something I'd read in a book.

About five or perhaps more years later, my family had gone on vacation to Virginia for a week or so in the summer. I was watching TV idly in the middle of the day at this Virginian resort (I don't remember why), and I somehow landed on the then-Sci Fi Channel. They were showing this strange show... a spaceship had just crashed into Big Ben, and a man in a leather jacket and shaved head was telling a blonde girl that the world now knew about aliens.

I then remember seeing surgery on a strange pig-thing, which the shaved-headed man attempted to befriend, before it was shot down and he scolded the shooters. There was discussion about how it was a fake alien, and then a bunch of fat people started to unzip their foreheads...

In retrospect, I know it was "Aliens of London", and I know it's terrible in retrospect, but... I sat entranced. I kept watching until the end of "World War Three", I think, wondering what was going to happen next.

I don't remember watching anything more of Who on that day, or even years after, but I was impressed enough that bits from that serial still linger in my mind from time to time.

Finally, around 2009 or so, my family got an expanded digital cable package with (I think) a new widescreen TV. One of the channels on that package was (what else?) BBC America. I was on a James Bond fan forum at that time, and a number of fellow fans were talking about how David Tennant was leaving Doctor Who and how Timothy Dalton was guest-starring in his last episode. I was intrigued enough by this to watch Planet of the Dead a week or so before BBC America premiered "The Waters of Mars". It got me, but it wasn't until I saw "The Unicorn and the Wasp" and what I now believe to have been an edited compendium edition of the Library two-parter that I knew.

From that point on... I started DEVOURING Who. I was hooked. :-)

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