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So, apparently, it's cold here. No one's mentioned the snow all week, and certainly there haven't been hours and hours of news coverage of Hampshire's impression of Hoth as though this white stuff coating the ground was an entirely new phenomenon and nothing else was happening in the rest of the world. There haven't been any sneering articles about "so much much for global warming" and the Fellow At Work Who Knows About This Stuff did not roll his eyes and say "ONE IS CLIMATE, THE OTHER IS FUCKING WEATHER". (He didn't say it in caps, by the way). Nor have there been hysterical articles about how the Gulf Stream is veering away and the Atlantic conveyor is about to switch off. Haven't seen any of those.

Oh, and as usual, dear.

If you haven't seen Nasa's amazing picture of Britain sheeted in white, it's worth a look.

I almost forgot: we were looking for interesting ways of illustrating the spread of the snow across Britain and S. mentioned the Trendsmap (http://trendsmap.com/), which takes Twitters from across the country and shows which terms are trending in which places, with the words rendered in proportion to their usage. So we screengrabbed it and sent it through the usual procedures to clean it up. Sure enough, there was a spread of words across the country, from snow, deep, blizzards in the north to freezing and forecast in the south that reflected the way the weather was working. Pretty interesting.

However, I have been in this game for more than ten years now, and am wise to about 70% of the ways we get tripped up (the rest end up in the corrections file), so I blew up the map to a large size, got indesign to render it at high-quality and examined the tweets for rudeness. Zoom 200% is your friend, mes braves.

Now that Torchwood is finished, it's probably the last time I will ever get to say out loud, in a crowded office: "There is a giant penis over Cardiff".

Also, one of the trending words over Glasgow? "C**t". Oh, regions, so *uncouth*!

We didn't use the map. *g*

[ETA: I just looked at tonight's trends. It is mostly wall-to-wall "Freezing" and "mankini", with a smattering of "sisqo" and "Ivana Trump", which means that everyone is tweeting about Celebrity Big Brother. However, there is a small "penis" over Ashbourne. Stay classy, Derbyshire.]

I have taken next week off work. I've bought enough food that I don't have to go out until next week, I have the last bit of a Spooks rewatch planned and lizbee was posting about Press Gang and now I'd like to rewatch that.

I also have enough milk that I drink cups of tea all day.

Until I was 16 years old, I wasn't allowed to drink either tea or coffee by my dad (No, I don't know either). It was part of the same strange continuum of bizarre and arbitrary edicts that meant I had to eat sandwiches with a knife and fork and ensure that all power cords were clean. I didn't really drink tea until I went to university and even then I drank so much fruit tea that one sniff of blackcurrant transports me back to a land of joss sticks, seven-hour conversations and endless playing of Screamadelica (now immortalised as a postage stamp!).

But somehow, since I started work at the [redacted], tea has become an essential ritual of the day. We get free tea and coffee from the replicators in the middle of the office, so every couple of hours, someone will gather up all the manky tea cups and refill them with No 7 from the machine. We all drink builder's tea as well.

There's that joke from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?" Funny because it's true, I think, even now when there are two Starbucks for every amoeba in Thames Water's systems. But even tea isn't enough to ameliorate how fed up I am with work just now, so I am taking this week off.


I've been rewatching early episodes of Spooks just for old times' sake. It was supposed to be a Harry and Ruth rewatch but I ended up starting from the beginning. It really was very good for four or five seasons there.

I'd forgotten how good Matthew MacFadyen was -- there was a kind of icy practicality that made his crack-up all the more affecting -- but what really surprised me was how much I loved Danny and then Zaf on this go-round, for different reasons. I liked Danny's insouciance and its accompanying moodiness, and how much he was really the heart of the Tom-Zoe-Danny team. I'd also forgotten how much fun Zaf was. He was sarky, charming and competent and had excellent chemistry with almost every other character. It made his eventual useless exit seem even more useless though I understand there were reasons he was written out in that way.

What also strikes you as you watch it is how very little any sort of family intrudes on the show. It's all about the workplace, and while that suits the job that the characters are doing, I was surprised that in eight series they've rarely done storylines about the families of the MI5 officers, and then usually when both partners were in the service.

Some of the writing, particularly in seasons two to four, when they were really hitting their stride, is excellent and the rewatch has pointed up how much the style of writing has changed. Leaving aside season six and its abysmal anti-American arc, useless departure of Zaf and Ros and histrionic love affair, the writing in later seasons has been tighter and action-oriented, ruthlessly streamlined and reminiscent of great US procedurals at its best.

The trade-off for that has been that outside the grid characters (and sometimes including them -- Ben for example, who was simply there to chase people) there have been none of the lovely and strange character moments and memorable one or two-shot antagonists, no one to compare to Jules Siviter or Oliver Mace, for example. It's very efficient and exciting drama but there's less to repay close watching.

The last episode I watched was the lunatic season four finale, which dealt with the death of Princess Diana. It was immensely watchable for Lindsay Duncan alone, and absurdly entertaining but several of the leads were out of character, some of the dialogue was operatic and the plot part of it was pretty stupid. I did wonder how they could have thought it was a good idea, then I saw that it was a Howard Brenton script, and that explained why it got made. Next up: the season five opener, which has one of the finest holy shit moments in a show which has made them its speciality.

And finally, so that this post is not entirely a waste of valuable electrons, links:

Being Human is back on Sunday, on BBC3. The main cast of three has a fourth regular, there's a new antagonist, and I for one am really looking forward to it. I think it was my favourite show of last year. I ended up very much liking Misfits in the end, though its many fails should be acknowledged, but I thought Being Human was better all-round. Last year, the Being Human blog was also a treasure trove of clips, trailers, interviews and prequels and, splendidly, posted links to where you could watch the show online before its first airing. It is here.

A Guardian blog on the five reasons why it was essential viewing devolved into a flamewar over whether it could be a British show when two of the four regulars are Irish.

• Johann Hari thinks the British attitude to work stinks and we should all work less (i'm doing my bit, mate)

• Via HolyMoly, The Doctor's Facebook page. I laughed, particularly at "The Doctor became a fan of … legs" but I am easy like that.

Comments

infinitemonkeys
Jan. 9th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
I think your work days are more full of hassle than mine and they're certainly more full of whirlwind travel and responsibility, so best of luck with restraining the huge urge to punch someone in the head, and I wish for you that February comes quicker than Martini-poisoning.