purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)


Sarah Jane maintains the Dr Who tradition of companions making dubious fashion choices.


I was first amused and then subsequently puzzled by the copyright notice under the picture. This is, after all, a publicity still created with the intention that it would be copied and published by other people.

At any rate, I'm assuming that at this point in the game I'm a) too small a fry a b) people distributing publicity images on the Internet is too common a thing for the BBC to come after me, but I suppose we shall see.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Sunday: Last week ended in Stoke-on-Trent playing Cthulhu (thankfully not into the small hours, but certainly quite late). After a large-ish breakfast we returned to Manchester where I went on a long run and attempted to catch up with my to-do list.

Monday: After my morning run my foot suddenly started hurting - same leg where I pulled a calf muscle a few weeks ago. At the time I was unsure of diagnosis, though I now think I've acquired a mild form of plantar faciitis which afflicts the ligament running along the base of the foot and is a bugbear for runners. Since I wasn't actually planning to run again until Saturday I just left well alone and got on with life which mostly involved failing to write a lecture on Machine Ethics.

Tuesday: Tuesday involved driving to Liverpool in order to deposit miscellaneous lego robot equipment. There was a fair amount of walking up and down stairs, not to mention walking from the university to the nearest street which doesn't have Residents' Only parking. My foot was feeling better, but was still quite painful.

I saw several project students all of whom were well on track for their "bench inspections" next week (my weaker students have become conspicuous by their absence. I'm trying to convince myself this is not my problem). I also discovered that the lecture on Machine Ethics I was trying to write was actually a lecture on Verifying Ethical Autonomous Systems, this actually make life a lot easier.

Wednesday: Flew to Bergen where I was to deliver my freshly written lecture to Matryoshka's Machine Ethics students. The university had booked me into a very nice hotel with complimentary brownies available. I met up with Matryoshka once I arrived and, after a little confusion, in which I stood outside her department texting that I couldn't find it, we went out for dinner.

Thursday: I gave my lecture - well two 45 minute lectures and then left Matryoshka trying to organise her students into project groups. Matryoshka gave me a draft paper on verifying properties of filter bubbles on social media, so I amused myself trying to figure out how to actually do this.

Friday: Matryoshka showed me around Bergen. The weather in Bergen is, I gather, mostly like the weather in Manchester, so we trudged through torrential rain to view various Hanseatic warehouses. We had lunch in a fish restaurant which had been recommended but found it rather disappointing. Then we went up the funicular railway to the top of the hill. As we ascended it started to snow. By the time we got to the top my foot was also complaining. Fortunately Matryoshka had pain killers on her person, so we stopped for coffee and muffins in a souvenir shop while they took effect and then went for a very short walk, admired the views we couldn't see because of the thick cloud cover, and the suddenly archetypal Scandinavian scenery we could see (snow covered paths through coniferous forest). Both of us had extremely cold and wet feet by this point.

We returned to Matryoshka's office where I managed to dry my shoes and socks in front of her heater while we discussed modelling filter bubbles as biological processes (mostly because the tool I was looking at had fairly well defined techniques for modelling biological processes). It seems at least plausible that the opinions on social media platforms could be viewed as biological processes so Matryoshka is going to look to see if this can be justified (beyond it's a cute idea) while I'm going to look at the nitty gritty of building a model.

Then I caught the Flybussen to the airport and came home. By this time the sun was shining brightly, the snow had all melted and Bergen was looking extremely pretty and not at all damp and cold. There will be a Bergen picspam in due course.

Saturday: I spent a lot of yesterday reading up on plantar fasciitis. There are plenty of symptoms I don't have but the pain in my foot has localised to the classic location for the complaint - though when under the influence of ibuprofen its now more a weird slight itch than a pain. Recommendations seemed to be anti-inflamataries (B. recommends continuing to take these for at least a week after I'm pain free), stretching of both calf muscle and plantar ligament, and not running in old shoes. I bought new running shoes a couple of months back, but they exacerbated a bunion I have and so I'd regretfully given them to Barnardos.

So far I've always purchased running shoes on a "cheap pair from Decathlon" basis but if I was going to have trouble with my feet it seemed like it might be time to get a more expensive pair from a specialised running place that did gait analysis. Googling gait analysis rather suggested it was a pointless exercise as done in running shops but B. persuaded me that even if it was pseudo-science I would probably still get a better pair of shoes from a place that offered the service. I was having a bit of a self-confidence crisis by this point - partly because I was anxious about buying an expensive pair of shoes that I might end up not using and giving to charity - so B kindly drove me to a running shop and stood around looking supportive while the (I presume) Saturday Girl analysed my gait ("looks all right") and very diffidently offered me some shoes which I purchased (they cost at least twice as much as any shoes I've had previously so I do hope they don't do terrible things to the bunion). I also set up a revised and much reduced training schedule for the half marathon at the end of May, based on various online offerings all of which involved far less running than I had been doing (B. is unaccountably smug about this for some reason). So we'll see how it all goes.

Since I was in a specialist running shop and spending silly money on trainers, I also spent £10 on a "pediroller", a kind of stiff foam roller for massaging the underside of the foot. I'm very pleased with this. It's a very pleasant sensation, though I've no idea if its actually doing any good, but it's quite tempting just to sit at my desk rolling my foot backwards and forwards on it all the time.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)




The Pit is widely regarded as the worst of the Virgin New Adventures novels. I only have dim memories of the one time I read and I recall mostly being a bit bemused and feeling that William Blake was underused. I recently listened to the Doctor Who Bookclub podcast discuss the book and they certainly didn't like it much. Their final conclusion was that there were some potentially interesting ideas in there, but that the execution failed to explore them in a way that brought anything much to life, and the structure meant the whole story ultimately felt rather pointless with the Doctor, Benny and Blake making no real impact on the events.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)


By, I believe, Shaun Young.


Channel D was a tele-fantasy fanzine that ran for several years in the late 1980s. I've no idea quite why I started buying it, I vaguely recall there was a specific reason and I think it was produced by the set of Dr Who fans that included Paul Cornell at the time but I wouldn't want to swear to this. I have about 4 years' worth of issues and even had some Robin of Sherwood fanfiction published in it.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Having just visiting [livejournal.com profile] firin in Pennsylvania I went looking for early photos of her. The earliest ones I seem to have are of the 1990 Arthurian Pilgrimmage weekend to Dorset. This is her being sacrificed by Lady Enide, with a stick.



She doesn't look too worried about this.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
"This is a story from the 1980s with `Time' in the title. That's always a bad sign," I told Tame Layman as we put this one on.

It is, frankly, pretty poor. Time and the Rani forms the most obvious point of comparison since we watched that not so long ago on the Randomiser. I would be tempted to say that Time and the Rani at least has some good bits - there is at least one nice special effect, some thought has gone into creating the alien race, Kate O'Mara impersonating Bonnie Langford is fun - but it also has some pretty egregiously bad bits - the brain, anything purporting to be science. Timelash is basically just rather tired and sub-standard throughout. I don't think anything in it rises to the standard of good and though it teeters on the brink of embarrassingly bad occasionally (the climb down into the Timelash) I don't think it quite hits the depths of Time and the Rani. If I had to choose one to be consigned to fires of destruction never to be seen again by anyone I'd probably sacrifice Timelash if only because Time and the Rani features a regeneration and a returning villain and a few fun bits. On the other hand, if I was forced to pick one to have to watch again I'd probably also pick Timelash on the grounds that at least one can mostly just let it wash over you while Time and the Rani demands a sort of horrified attention.

I'm not quite sure what else to say about this. The acting is uniformly lacklustre, including from Paul Darrow who seems to be sleep-walking his way through some Avon-inspired type-casting. Lots about it doesn't really make sense, not at the level of gigantic plot holes but more just at the level of a script that is just going through the motions without wanting to think particularly about why anyone would behave in a particular way, or how a "Timelash" might fictionally work, or what H. G. Wells might actually be like. It doesn't help that a number of behind the scenes issues led to part 2 under-running and the hasty insertion of extra padding in the form of an extended Tardis scene.

I've been doing a bit of googling and seeing a lot of people claiming that Timelash isn't as bad as its reputation and despite the fact it is mostly not cringingly embarrassing (for a value of cringingly embarrassing calibrated to someone who likes 1970s British SF TV) I'm inclined to think it is actually that bad. Because, at the end of the day, it is boringly dull with nothing to recommend it.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)




The covers of the New Adventures novels were often rather pedestrian, even when they managed to get the human figures anatomically correct and in proportion (which was not always the case). This cover, by Jeff Cummins, is therefore among the more striking and accomplished. It is also, as it happens, one of my favourite books in the range.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Model-Checking for Analysis of Information Leakage in Social Networks has been accepted into the post-proceedings volume of the conference it was given at. The acceptance is notable, in particular, for the referees' comments which amount in all cases to "have dealt with previous comments more than sufficiently, nothing more to do" which is good in the light of how much time I don't have between now and the camera ready deadline.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
Following the comparative success of Vengeance on Varos, Mindwarp by the same writer was one of the more eagerly anticipated stories of Doctor Who's troubled 23rd season though Robert Holmes' final episode (part 1 of the ill-fated Ultimate Foe) was probably more eagerly anticipated. Watching Mindwarp one feels that it had the potential to be as good as Vengeance on Varos but is fatally undermined by both the constricting ongoing story of Trial of a Time Lord and by a general sense of mild incompetence, mostly on the part of the director though, as with much 1980s Who, there is a fair amount of rather lacklustre acting on display as well.

When I first saw Mindwarp I recall thinking that Brian Blessed was sadly wasted in his role as Yrcanos. I'd recently seen him in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V so knew him capable of being, if required, not quite so full on Brian Blessed. Rewatching now, Brian Blessed was definitely one of the best things in Mindwarp. He's clearly having fun and at least we were smiling whenever he was on the screen.

Frustratingly the ongoing story arc of the Doctor's trial condemns this particular segment to a section where doubts are supposed to be growing about the veracity of the material on display. We are essentially told that all the events unfolding on Thoros Beta are being conveyed to us via an unreliable narrator. The Doctor states that events proceeded broadly as depicted but that the emphasis was different. In the hands of a better director this could probably have been made to work, but as it stands the story is frustratingly confusing: relationships may or may not be as the appear on screen, events may or may not have happened for reasons which may or may not be those stated. I've nothing against unreliable narrators per se, but I think Mindwarp demonstrates that you need to work hard to pull them off in a way that doesn't make the result look like something of a confusing mess.

The (as far as one can tell largely one-sided) relationship between Yrcanos and Peri is bizarre as well. It must be said that poor Peri was often saddled with the role of random object of affection/lust for some passing character or villain (we were to watch Timelash next), more so than many companions and I'm sure whole essays could be written on why this particular companion at this particular point in the show's history keeps encountering this trope. In this case though I think we are supposed to believe the feeling is mutual, even though Nicola Bryant conveys nothing more than a kind of indulgent friendly feeling towards Yrcanos. I deduce this because her death at the end of Mindwarp is retconned (I would say unnecessarily) into marriage to Yrcanos six episodes later (in the novelisation it is even more bizarrely retconned into marriage to Yrcanos who is then transported to Earth by the Time Lords where he embarks upon a successful career as a pro-wrestler with Peri as his manager) and one assumes one is supposed to view this as a happy ending - as opposed to a companion being abandoned and forced by circumstances into marriage. Of course one can handwave the lack of apparent affection by invoking the unreliable narrator, but it is ultimately odd and frustrating.

Beyond that there is a lot of running around and capture-escape in this story, rendered more confusing and apparently pointless by the interruptions of the trial in which the Doctor insists the material is being manipulated. An attempt to portray a planet in which not everyone is white is undermined by the fact that all the non-white characters are slaves or servants and very much secondary to the main cast. Patrick Ryecart as Crozier is working hard to inject some depth into his role but is undermined in part by being a less sympathetic character than the Governor in Vengeance on Varos and, to be honest, by a decision to depict this world, not with the grimness of Varos, but as a dayglo confection of pink and orange. Sil is reduced more or less to being a comedy henchman. Kiv, Sil's superior is potentially more interesting (and marks the start of Christopher Ryan's career as Doctor Who villains in latex masks) but it seems unnecessary to suddenly sideline a successful character by introducing his superior.

To be honest, despite my complaints, Mindwarp isn't that bad but one feels it was very nearly good and somehow misses it mostly by just not having a good enough grip on tone and a clear enough idea how to convey the ambiguity over the gap between what we see and what actually happened.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
The Randomizer suggested we watch The Faceless Ones but, when I put it on, Tame Layman claimed to have seen it. I'm fairly sure he's actually only seen the two episodes that exist, and those many years ago, but he was adamant. We've been gradually collecting exceptions to the Randomiser. The project is now to watch all of Doctor Who in random order except NuWho, anything seen in the previous five years and The Faceless Ones. I may try to sneak The Faceless Ones back in at the end.

Anyway, the Randomiser next offered up The Invasion. I had bought the version of The Invasion with animations replacing the two missing episodes some time ago (more than five years, I was fairly sure) and we had watched it so I took the precaution of mentioning this in advance to Tame Layman who then didn't veto it.

The Invasion is remarkably watchable given it is one of the longest Doctor Who stories out there and, as a result, features even more random and somewhat pointless capture escape than normal.

It is definitely helped by featuring one of the better Tardis teams. Although Wendy Padbury has complained that Zoe Herriot, having started out well, was rapidly reduced to just another screaming girly I think the character is generally pretty well-served and definitely fares better than either Deborah Watling's Victoria or Anneke Wills' Polly. While still sometimes constrained by a tendency to be placed in a damsel in distress role, Zoe is generally proactive, competent and often gets to show off her mathematical skills (as she does here - confusing computer receptionists and calculating missile trajectories).

The Brigadier and UNIT, in its first appearance, also work very well. The Brigadier has yet to be reduced to the kind of buffoon who refuses to believe he is on an alien planet and is, in fact, remarkably helpful and supportive of the Doctor throughout. This gives the whole story the feel of military versus aliens which is both nostaligically reminiscent of much 1960s sci-fi fare and refreshing for Doctor Who in which the military are often one of the obstacles to be overcome.

Kevin Stoney's Tobias Vaughn is a triumph as a villain. In particular, it is refreshing to see a villain who is under no illusions about his likely fate once the Cybermen take over and part of the reason I think the story fares so well over its extended length is that it effectively portrays the interaction of three factions at work, rather than two.

We spent quite a while discussing the animation. I felt it was broadly similiar in both style and quality to that in the recent Power of the Daleks release while Tame Layman preferred it. I think it certainly helped that there were live episodes in between the animated ones which helped ground the characters out better in existing performances.

Frankly this is a pretty good chunk of 1960s Doctor Who and certainly much better than it has any right to be lasting, as it does, for eight episodes.
purplecat: (books)
Reading: When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time by Michael Benton. This was recommended as part of The Primeval Writer's Bookshelf on [livejournal.com profile] primeval_denial. I'm only two chapters in so at the moment it's mostly doing a quick history of paleontology.

Listening: I listened to an episode of Doctor Who: The Writer's Room which I discovered via The Doctor Who bookclub. The idea is to look at the writing on Doctor Who. This particular episode was on Terry Nation and was focusing on his two non-Dalek stories. Although the writing was discussed it was a lot closer to a more generic episode discussion than I expected. Still, I've downloaded the next and we shall see.

Watching: We watched Persuasion last night on the grounds it was Valentine's Day. I had forgotten (or not noticed) how often this story involves two characters involved in some interaction which is causing other characters to map the outcome onto their own thoughts about their own affairs. This made the experience a little exhausting since G. kept needing all the nuances explained to her.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
One of B's PhD students has just won the BBC Wildlife Magazine Blogger of the Year. This came as something of a surprise to B. who wasn't aware she blogged, though it has not prevented him heading out for celebratory drinks with her (where he is as I type).

The blog is Stripy Tapir and, among other things, features some stunning photographs which might be of interest to one of the younger [livejournal.com profile] kargicq's.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Back to End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. This continues to be an intriguing mixture of mystery novel and end-of-the-time surreality though I'm concerned by [livejournal.com profile] a_cubed assertion that ultimately it all fails to gel. Still, enjoying it so far.

Listenining I've minorly injured my leg which has put a hold on my running listening. The last thing I listened to was a slightly defensive history of African Art on "Stuff you missed in history" - I felt this would have worked better with a) an actual focus on the history of African Art and/or and explicit acknowledgement that more African voices would have been valuable.

Watching: Doctor Who, Mindwarp. Hmm.... more on this anon.

Linky Links

Feb. 7th, 2017 08:23 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
deborah | Information literacy: No, Trump did not craft White House policy that "women dress like women"

I said in my last link roundup that I was finding it very difficult to judge which of Trump's actions were genuinely exceptional and worrying and which were business as normal for a Republication President. This kind of thing is part of the problem. There are far too many people in my filter bubble that share stuff like this without due diligence even while complaining about fake news in almost the same breath.

- - - - -

Did Neil Gorsuch Found a High School 'Fascism Forever' Club? : snopes.com

No.

More of the same.

- - - - -

Yes, I know the Trump administration are telling mind-boggling whoppers, but where I tend to hang out on the Internet those get shredded in minutes while this kind of stuff slips through.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)



The Dalek Emperor is perturbed to discover his orders are being questioned. *Resists temptation to make a Donald Trump joke*

Profile

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
purplecat

March 2017

S M T W T F S
   1234
5678 910 11
121314151617 18
192021222324 25
26 2728293031 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags