Tag Archives: Dr Who

An affair here and a marriage there

Bel Ami.

Georges Duroy is a former soldier living in a garret and probably dying of consumption. By chance he bumps into an old comrade-in-arms who helps get him on his feet again.

“Hey, you’re Philip Glenister! You were great in Life on Mars, but that thing about demons? What were you thinking?”

Glenister introduces him to the editor of the newspaper where he works.

“It’s Chief O’Brien from Deep Space Nine. Did you really like Dr Bashir more than your wife?”

Duroy gets some help from Uma Thurman to write his column for the paper while the grown-ups play politics in the background.

Duroy starts having an affair with Clotilde played by Christina Ricci, who is probably old enough to be his older sister.

“Still trying to escape from the Addams Family?”

He then marries Uma Thurman, who’s old enough to be his aunt.

“What the hell is that accent you’re trying to pull off? It’s worse than that of the English agent who was pretending to be a French policeman in ’Allo ’Allo.”

But for Duroy, one older woman isn’t enough. He has to have the clingy Kristin Scott Thomas, who’s old enough to be his mother, and is the boss’s wife.

“You were great in The Mummy.”

“That was The English Patient, you deformed sperm.”

“Yeah, what was the deal with the aberrant stress pattern?”

But having divorced Uma Thurman, he hits on the boss’s daughter, and although he thinks Duroy is an oik, he agrees to the marriage. He has succeeded in climbing the greasy pole.

Django Unchained.

A bounty hunter, Dr King Schawartz, is looking for a black slave who can identify three brothers for him. After an altercation with some slave traders, Schwartz takes on Django as a partner and offers to help him track down and free his wife, Broomhilda von Shaft.

This means getting cosy with M. Candie, who happens to be the current owner of Django’s wife. Her novelty value is that she can speak German. (The film is very long and I either missed or forgot why Schwartz and Django couldn’t just make an offer for her.) They offer an outrageous sum of money for a fighting slave, but as the sale goes through, Candie’s man, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), warns him that the purchase is a ruse. Schwartz kills Candie, but is killed by Candie’s bodyguard. In spite of his heroic defence, Django is captured and hauled off to the mines.

He manages to trick the thick mine employees (including Tarantino playing an Australian for some weird reason) into releasing him and letting him have a gun. Django rides back to the big house where he kills the rest of Candie’s minions before blowing the house up with the traitorous Stephen inside.

In spite of this being a very, very long film (165 minutes) and probably in need of some editing, it didn’t drag. It ranged from the comical such as the lynch mob complaining about the bags they’re wearing to disguise themselves to the gruesome such as the scene in which a runaway slave was torn to pieces by dogs, or the fight-to-the-death for Candie’s amusement.

Tarantino’s films have been a hit-and-miss affair since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but this, I think, is a hit, although viewers will need to get in supplies for a marathon.

Doctor Who.

As the bookies predicted, Peter Capaldi is the new Dr Who. If only he could step out of the TARDIS and fire off a few choice bon mots au Malcolm Tucker.

Actually, has Armando Ianucci ever written an episode of Dr Who? That might be interesting.

Shares in the company

Buy fireworks!

It’s been quite a few years since I was around for the Spring Festival. I’ve largely managed to avoid it by being absent for that particular week, but this year, not knowing that the Festival was in the third week of the winter holiday, I walked straight back into it and its attendant noise and air pollution.

But that was last week, wasn’t it? Fireworks should now be the punctuation which occasionally interrupt the day, shouldn’t they? But it seems not. No day since the official end of the Spring Festival has failed to start with fireworks sooner or later. It’s Monday morning as I type this, and still the fireworks are going off. I know the locals like their fireworks, but the Spring Festival is so last week.

I’m surprised Wuxi doesn’t have record levels of smog with all the smoke which must’ve been pumped into the atmosphere over the past week or so.

Dr Who, Series 6

I bought this when I was in New Zealand because it may not ever appear in the DVD shops here; or it might. This series was about the death of the Doctor and some pseudo-mystical nonsense about the first question, which must never be asked.

The overarching storyline was the child which Rory and Amy had, Melody Pond, who was, in fact, River Song, who was brought up as an assassin with one mission in mind – kill the Doctor. The opening episode started with the Doctor being killed by an astronaut emerging from a lake somewhere in the States, and the rest of the series led back to that point, and included a fake Amy, a fake baby, and Adolf Hitler.

It was a story on an epic scale, and yet the episodes felt a little same-y in that the Doctor would waltz in (capering), wave his sonic screwdriver around, babble, and the problem was solved. The solution was often deeply contrived and seldom seemed to require any real effort to achieve. The stories seem to have got a little too formulaic and phoned-in.

Musical dusting.

I’ve continued editing the details of all of my music as I try to bring some uniformity to my collection. There are still quirks which I don’t fully understand such as some details being partly omitted, or there being extra details, or WMP and Explorer don’t agree with each other.

My most recent purchases were Purcell, Complete Sonatas of Three & Four Parts, Pavans by the Purcell Quartet, and For His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts played by, er, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts. I already had Purcell’s Three-Part Sonatas, but it was impossible to get the Four-Part ones without buy the former again.

I quite like Renaissance and Baroque trumpet (brass) music probably because of its mellifluous vocal quality. I don’t have a lot of it, or may have more than I realise, especially where the trumpet isn’t the main instrument in a piece of work.

However, it’s time for some more Heinz Ignaz Franz von Biber, who was a 17th century German composer roughly contemporary with Danish composer, Dieterich Buxtehude. I have Mensa Sonora, some trumpet music, and a Requiem, but not the Rosary Sonatas, Sonatae tam aris quam aulis serventes, or Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa. It’s also a good time to buy because the exchange rate is quite favourable again.

A ripping holiday

Get ’em before they rot.

I had meant to keep the blog updated with my antics in New Zealand, but I just never got round to it.

The trip went smoothly, although I noted that instead of heading south from Shanghai, we headed east towards Korea and Japan and were obviously skirting the Diaoyu Islands. I had no problems being on time for the 9.00am flight to Christchurch, which was delayed because some Chinese person had missed the flight and they had to remove their bags.

The weather for the first week was brilliant once any morning cloud had dissipated. The skies were blue, the air was clear, and there was none of that carcinogenic haze which plagues China.

I got on with re-ripping all of my CDs at 320Kbps, which also meant editing them yet again, and in the end, to speed things up, I scanned album art where it was missing and track information where it was wrong or wanting. I could probably have scanned the CDs at the higher rate the first time, but I was unaware of such things.

I learnt that The Genteel Companion by Richard Harvey has now deteriorated so much that the final track can no longer be ripped, and even on my Dad’s CD player, the flaws are now audible. After some research on the matter, I find that the flaws in the CD are a consequence of ageing, although my oldest CD, which is about 30 years old, is still fine. Nonetheless, there may come a day when the CDs can neither be ripped nor played.

We went to Blenheim for a few days, where the weather remained clement. We stopped off at a seal colony near Kaikoura and watched the pups lolling around on the rocks.

In Blenheim, we went to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. At the moment, this covers machines from World War I, but will be expanding into the period between the wars and World War II. The museum contains some original planes (a 1913 Caproni CA 22) as well as working replicas such as a flight of Fokker Dr.1s (the triplane flown by Baron von Richthofen). Sir Peter “Hobbit” Jackson and companies he is involved with are responsible for the outstanding displays, which include a plane which has crashed in a tree, and the aftermath of the death of the Red Baron as souvenir hunters swarmed around the plane.

We also had a trip from Havelock out on the Greenshell Mussel Cruise. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to sea (if you count trips across Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong), and we had a very pleasant afternoon sailing out to a mussel farm. We got a lecture on mussel farming from the master of the boat, who explained the whole process of keeping the mussel gene pool chlorinated and getting them to grow on the lines which hang from the floats, each of which carries a tonne of mussels. After that, we ate mussels and drank wine before returning to Havelock.

The start of the following week saw autumn getting in some early practice. The weather turned grey, wet, and cold – colder than Chengdu, and only marginally better than Wuxi. It did eventually improve, and was turning rather nice again by the time I had to leave.

My Mum and Dad have acquired some monarch butterfly caterpillars from an unknown source. Monarchs have been quite rare, and the swan plants had about thirteen caterpillars altogether. The biggest of them have just started pupating, and the smaller ones should be ready to start in the next week or so.

This ended up being a clothes buying holiday with the acquisition of new shirts, a new pair of pyjamas, and a couple of new singlets. I looked for shoes, but couldn’t find anything quite right and think that I need to leave such matters for Hong Kong.

I did buy the 6th series of Dr Who, and the first part of the 7th. On my next visit to a DVD shop here, I’ll probably find both, but it’s too much of a lottery.

I’ve also managed to solve the speaker dock problem by chance. Mum has a Sony speaker dock which she can use to recharge and listen to music on her Walkman. I’ve had my Walkman connected to speakers via a cable, but have had to resort to charging the device every so often (typically at awkward moments). I bought a USB plug so that I wouldn’t lose one of the ports of my USB hub (and I’ve never been keen on using my laptop as a source of power for other devices). I’ve found that while I’m recharging my Walkman, I can still use it, which means that I’ve got the equivalent of a speaker dock without enjoying the expense of one.

The flight back to China was sufficiently empty for me to have a whole row to myself, although the arm rests didn’t go all the way up and the attachments for the seatbelts jammed into me at times.

Back here, I took the offer of a private car or would’ve been stuck at Pudong till 11.20am, and not home much before 2.00pm. It’s bad enough having to wait until around 10.00am, but would’ve been a nightmare after a twelve-hour flight to have been stuck at Pudong for about 5½ hours. I had thought the week of the Spring Festival was the second week of the holiday. If I’d known that New Year’s Day was Sunday, I perhaps would’ve returned home today instead.

And the roads are paved with supercars

Latest sightings.

A few days ago, it was a silver Ferrari F430. Today, the first sighting was a red Ferrari 599 at the car washing place. The second sighting was on the way home from Carrefour, this time a yellow car, which I thought was the yellow F430 I’ve seen a few times, but I then realised it was a Lamborghini Gallardo. It must’ve turned off somewhere because I was expecting to see it pass me by and never did.

Mind you, what’s the point of cars like these in the Empire, a place where sluggishness and torpidity are the custom?

Speaking of sluggish and torpid, I’ve been landed with the reference for one of the most sluggish and torpid students in our programme, who is one of the unholy triumvirate. I was hoping to grab him today after class to see if I could get enough sense out of him to make the survey he completed a less comic and less foolish masterpiece, but he was, as usual, absent. I have no idea what I might say about this nitwit because there is nothing good to say about him unless it’s “His frequent absence from class has been most welcome”.

The sudden and unexpected news from the world of entertainment is the death from cancer of Elisabeth Sladen, who played the part of Sarah Jane Smith in Dr Who way back in the 70s, and then reappeared in the new version before getting a spin-off series.

I’ve been messing about with Font Creator again, having learnt a lesson or two from my first effort. I really need some sort of writing tablet since using a mouse to draw glyphs in PaintShop Pro is a wonky, wobbly business at best. However, I’ve tried using a thicker brush (50×25 units), which produces much more legible strokes in a 12pt font, and I’ve added guidelines to my canvas to try and make the glyphs more uniform. My natural tendency is to produce broad letter shapes, but I ought to fiddle with the guidelines to try squarer and more portrait-style glyphs.

I also learnt a little bit more about creating composite characters because in my world, a 26-letter alphabet just isn’t enough.

I’ve also found that it’s better to use Windows to install fonts because Font Creator seems prone to tantrums (it’s also quite slow), and it isn’t really inspiring to have it suggested, among other things, that if you can’t install a font, you should restart your computer. Nonetheless, font creation is an enjoyable pastime if you like mucking around with the shapes of letters or even just seeing your own handwriting on a computer screen.

(Cross-posted from Green Bamboo LJ.)

The clock says it’s 6am

But my body says it’s 1pm.

I woke up at 6am this morning, which being 1pm China time meant that I was tired enough to roll over and go back to sleep. Instead, I went online and watched the final episode of the fourth series of Dr Who before having breakfast. I’ll watch the rest while I’m here. It was very much an episode in which things got rounded off. Rose got a Doctor of a sort (which would make the girls in Class 6 go “Aaah!”); Donna got to be a Time Lord and kind of saved the day, but had her mind wiped; and the Doctor departed on his own. The Christmas ep. is going to be about the Cybermen. Will it be the traditional Christmas turkey?

Did some shopping after breakfast. Bought the paper. The Observer is now £1.90. I wonder how much The Guardian costs these days. 70p or 80p? Anyway, it’s nice to be able to buy an actual 3D newspaper for once.

After six years in China and in spite of numerous visits to Hong Kong, I’m looking all directions when I cross the road because I’m not quite sure where traffic might be coming from. I’d also forgotten that in the UK drivers actually stop at pedestrian crossings. It took me a moment to realise that one motorist wasn’t going to sail through the crossing, which is what they do in China, and actually let me cross.

I went into town after lunch to do a very quick recon of the bookshops up Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street. I’ll return to them in earnest when I get my Switch card, but I may do most of my shopping via Amazon UK. I did notice that more than one bookshop had displays of books specifically about China. Blackwells seemed to be promoting one on human rights that seems to have been published after that little squabble in the province next door to Sichuan. Probably the content of the book is the usual thing and says nothing we haven’t heard before.

The Observer actually has a double-page spread about life in modern Yan’an where Mao set up shop after the Long March.

Catherine Bennett displays a whole article of reasons why amateurs should leave observations on language to the professionals. It’s not even worth the effort of a detailed dissection. Besides, I’m on holiday and feeling indolent.

Actually, I’m feeling fat. The enticements of salt and vinegar crisps and cheese were too much for me today and I succumbed. When I get home, I’m going to need to go on my adventures every day to see off the indulgences of the next couple of weeks.

Darling, there you are!

Loved you in black curtains.

Noting that Class 16 are soon going to be out of Dr Who, I thought I might see what was available in the world of Dr Who fanfic, and found A Teaspoon and an Open Mind. I must admit that I tend to be a little scep­tical about fanfic. I’ve seen a few instances of it in the past which seem to revolve around people writing themselves into their favourite TV series.

“Who are you?” said the Doctor, “and how did you get on board the TARDIS?”
“I wrote myself in,” said Mr Bamboo.
“Oh.” The Doctor’s response was typically indifferent to the unexpected. “And your answer to the first question?”
“Mr Bamboo.”
“Bamboo, eh? Can you burn?”
“I’m not made of bamboo. It’s a pseudonym.”
“Like an alibi.”
“No, that’s an excuse you have for being somewhere at the time when some crime was perpetrated.”
“Great.” The Doctor sounded exasperated. “Trust the one person in the universe who’s brainier than me to write his way into the TARDIS.”

I think you get the idea.

I should mention one of the first stories I perused, A Very Civil Partnership. Brief and amusing. I note that most of the stories currently being featured are marked “Adult”. The site probably has a mass of stories which connive to get the Doctor and, well, nearly anyone into bed. Wouldn’t be surprised if there’s quite a bit of slash fiction.

“Bet there’s a lot you can do with a sucker, if you know what I mean,” said the Doctor admiring the dalek’s arm, stiff and extended.
“Baby!” croaked the dalek, “I am hot for you. Guess where my stick gun goes.”
The door suddenly burst open and in walked a cyberman who, if his face had not been metal, would have been in tumult, not knowing whether to look aghast or furious.
“What are you doing? I thought you loved me.”
“I do!” The dalek’s head whirled round. “I was just interrogating the prisoner.”
“That doesn’t look like interrogating to me.”
“I’ll just leave you girls to bitch it out, shall I?” said the Doctor.

I think you get the idea again.

And he will play


According to a report in the New Humanist editor’s blog (blogspot; possibly viewable; possibly not), Richard Dawkins is going to make a guest appearance in Dr Who (Dawkins to appear in Dr Who). The entry wonders what part he might play. I’d be tempted to have him play God and wander around saying things like “I keep telling the Pope I don’t exist, but he just doesn’t believe me.” On the other hand, perhaps he could be struck down.

“So God killed him?” said Rose peering at the arms and legs sticking out from under the pile of books.
“Well, not exactly,” said the Doctor, “what with God not existing. No, God didn’t kill him, but rather the idea of God.”
“The idea?”
“Yeah, this huge pile of Bibles fell on him. Ironic, eh?”
“Yeah,” said Rose doubtfully. “Just wondering, Doctor, but just who was Richard Dawkins again?”

[30.08.14. Dawkins did make some sort of appearance in Dr Who, but it was so fleeting that I’d forgotten he’d even made an appearance.]

Riot control

Don’t touch the remote!

While Class 6 got all huffy about being shown another episode of Dr Who the other day, Class 16 just couldn’t get enough of it this afternoon. I was showing them the first episode of Aliens of London which was just approaching its end when the bell rang. I picked up the remote. You should’ve heard the shriek (remember, of course, that Class 16 is mostly female). Then the episode really did reach its end a few minutes later. When I stopped the DVD, there was an even louder shriek and demands to continue viewing. I had to explain that the second half of the story was on another disc here at home and they reluctantly trooped out of the room.

But you know what I’m doing tomorrow: if it’s not being lynched by a mob of irate 16-year-old Chinese school girls, then it’s showing the second episode of the story.

[31.08.14. And having edited the markup, and having edited the tags for this rather trivial entry, I’m off to the BBC website to see if I can watch the second episode of Peter Capaldi’s tenure in the TARDIS.]

I played it on my TV

Dr Who, Series 3.

I watched to the end of the third series of Dr Who last night. Martha Jones or Rose Tyler? Or was the Doctor going to have more nubile totty fluttering around him yet remain oblivious to it. There seems to have been an attempt to move the series away from the old days where no one really said anything about a single man cohabiting in a spaceship with an attractive young woman. At the same time, the whole relationship between the Doctor and Martha was left on simmer. After all, this isn’t really a series that’s principally about relationships.

The Daleks made an appearance, this time in New York on the occasion of the completion of the Empire State Building. It was really background to the original Dalek story from the first series.

Dalek#1: I know we usually just exterminate stuff, but I have to admit Broadway musicals give me motivation.
Dalek#2: I know what you mean. Only a truly evil species could call this entertainment.

The Doctor became human to escape some intergalactic hunters called the Family. That was a bit of a Star Trek episode where the main character gets to do something he wouldn’t normally do. In this case, the Doctor got married, had children, and died of old age.

An interesting alternative episode had other characters playing the main part as the Doctor got them to rescue him and Martha from 1969.

The Master also reappeared and turned into an extreme parody of Tony Blair. I must admit that I prefer the original Master played by Roger Delgardo back in the 70s (elegant and evil), although Anthony Ainley did a reasonable job when he took over the role. This new Master was too buffoonish to be taken seriously.

Overall, the series was good rather than bad or ugly. One annoyingly repetitious phrase was about this species or that being “older than the universe”. Perhaps used once, such a ridiculous utterance might’ve been forgivable, but it got said several times, which diminished what little value it had.


What are they going to report now?

Reports on the inquest into the death of Annie Pang Chor-ying have become a regular feature of the South China Morning Post recently. But alas, the inquest has come to an end. Annie Pang was a model with a rather screwed up life. She died in July 1995 of an unknown cause. Her body wasn’t found until 1999. She was known to be into drugs and gambling, and had tried to commit suicide.

What gets me about the whole case, is that she could’ve been dead for so without anyone wondering what’d happened to her. Her sugar daddy, John Fang Meng-sang, doesn’t appear to have asked any questions, although he did go to the flat where he completely missed seeing the body. I can only think the flat was a pigsty.

Where do pedestrians go?

They’re doing roadworks on the main street of Changzhou and have fenced off quite a large area. If you’re on the north side of the road, you can get around them without too much grief, but the south side is basically blocked off. The quickest way to get along the road is to walk along the road between the cars and the ubiquitous blue fencing. But in the great Traffic Hierarchy in China, pedestrians are ranked somewhere below rancid pond scum, hence no provision is made for them.

[25.07.13. Seven years later in Wuxi, much the same is happening because of the construction of a Metro system in the centre of the city. Pedestrians can only walk along the outside of a wall fencing off the building site as cars, electric scooters, and cyclists try to get by. In addition, there are large potholes in the temporary road surface which has been in place for the past three (?) years, and as I’m not as insensible to these things as the Chinese, I have to manoeuvre round them and avoid the other idiots on the road.]

Give it time.

I went into the DVD shop near the Changzhou Grand to find that they had the first series of the most recent Dr Who. I’d bought the first two DVDs while I was home last summer. I saw the series in a Tardis-shaped box on sale in HMV in Hong Kong, but it was bulky and cost HK$1960. Anyway, it’s saved me a bunch of money.

[25.07.13. Great entry, Mr Bamboo. History will be grateful to you for recording this.]

The Wild East.

From the few Hong Kong films I’ve seen, I’d have to conclude that there are gun battles in the streets every day of the week. This came true just recently with the shooting of two policemen on Canton Road near Austin Road. This is just north of Harbour City.

The whole business could be a bad Hong Kong film. Two policemen are ambushed by an off-duty colleague who shoots them with a handgun that was stolen five years earlier and had already been used in one murder. They take down their attacker, but the dead policeman’s gun ends up back in its holster. All very mysterious.

This is logical?

Sudoku is meant to be about logical deduction. I do the Post’s sudoku when I get a copy of the paper. The first one I tried was a five star puzzle I did in about twenty minutes on the train back from Suzhou. Most of the hard sudoku puzzles I’ve encountered seem to follow a common pattern of paired numbers so that you know two squares in a box, or on a line or column are limited to those numbers. The process of solving such puzzles is slow rather than hard.

Last Saturday’s puzzle absolutely defeated me because after getting about five numbers there were no further moves without guessing. I checked the puzzle in a sudoku program I have. It got as far as I had, and then said there were no more moves available without guessing.

I’m not sure that that makes for good sudoku because there should be a logical sequence of steps to follow. Guessing shouldn’t be part of it.