Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve submitted an entry. Let me state first and foremost that it’s not due to the mad Christmas panic business. I do not celebrate the festival and so I’ve not had to worry about going even deeper in debt whilst looking to give to others. Rather it’s just been one of those times where we as a family have been busy looking after the house in preparation for this week’s special guests … but I’ll wait for later on to let you in on who they are. It is confirmed that they will be here soon and so maybe at least one of them can come and say hello to y’all.

Baby Blues

On Sunday my friend celebrated the birthday of his son. As in for real, this ain’t no spiritual gimmick, it’s serious, my mate Kevin has a son named Tamir who was born on December 25th. Now if that doesn’t give a legitimate reason to celebrate the ACTUAL day someone was born then someone somewhere is desperately wrong. Anyhow, as a father himself, Kevin was relaying the good news that the older these children get the more fussy they become. As I expressed the fact that my daughter would be one year old on Thursday he said it must have felt like 2 weeks. I told him that it felt more like 365 days. It’s been a really gruelling experience this year – changing her when she wets herself, feeding her, playing with her, encouraging her in standing, slapping her when she misbehaves … and that’s just the wife!!

The New Doctor

Also on Sunday the BBC broadcast their Doctor Who Christmas Special marking the debut of David Tennant in the lead role. They’ve been hyping the Christmas Invasion for a week or two now with trailers, in which case if people were hung up on the hype they would have been slightly disappointed. Thankfully I never bought into the hype and so was happy to take the episode on its own merits. In essence this was a typical earth-in-danger-from-alien-invasion and it needs the doctor’s intervention. The difference here is that because it’s a new doctor we’re not sure what will happen. The story wasn’t that original but it did introduce earth’s developing response to alien threat through Project Torchwood as employed by the new PM Harriet Jones.

A 21st Century audience is unused to a new doctor and its regeneration issues, so they covered the usual instability issues fairly well. I’m not too concerned about the characterisation of the new doctor as I realise that it takes a while for a new character to settle. The first impression of Tennant is favourable. It’s a bit like my first positive response to the Eccleston portrayal – this doctor has bounce, vitality and a good sense of humour. I was also very impressed by the performance of Harriet Jones, the recurring gag about her identifying herself was well played out.

There were some cheesy moments highlighted at the start with the cliché of Rose’s mum asking doctor who? The cheese factor culminated in the group hug for the conquering doctor as he returned to earth. I feel the cheese factor was overplayed a bit, but that’s family television.

On the positive side it was a safe debut for the new doctor in a solid story. A really snazzy bit was the Luke Skywalker gig where the doctor has an arm chopped off, but gets to regenerate it there and then. The ‘no second chances’ line as he offs his opponent was also good. The use of Torchwood at the end and the ‘downfall’ of the PM in six words was cleverly done. One concern I do have is the continued role of Rose Tyler. More than almost any other companion before her, Rose has a strong emotional link to the doctor. As the last series progressed this bong became more set leading up to the emotional farewell. I feel that this ploy has only been effective to a point. Hopefully the independent lone time wanderer aspect of the doctor can come to the fore in the upcoming series. I also truly hope that they will take strides to clearly define the new doctor as a separate one to his predecessors.

Overall, however, it was worth catching the debut performance and I’d look forward to catching some episodes when they come out in the Spring.

While I Was Shopping

How many men know that shopping is actually a woman’s way of saying that she owns the purse strings no matter what you buy? I only liked shopping when I was growing up because of the chance to get a doughnut or other goodie on the trip. Other than that, shopping sucked. When I was at university I learned to appreciate grocery shopping a bit more, and really get to grips with shopping for books, comics, magazines, CD’s and DVD’s. Yet even then I found it a bit of a drag.

You can imagine then the chagrin that slapped me upside the head when I hooked up for life with the wife. To be fair, the good woman is not a typical shop-a-holic, she’s more necessity driven than one to spend HOURS in stores. Still, with a family to shop for, grocery shopping becomes even more onerous. Indeed it’s a good thing I love me wife or that whole thing could really cause mental and physical pain.

This, however, is a story of how enduring painful things can bring pleasure eventually. So on Thursday, we went shopping for the month as usual. On this occasion the whole family took the trip. The bonus of this was that it meant that Kevaughn could push the trolley, leaving me to hang about the more favourable areas of the store, i.e. books, comics, magazines, CD’s and DVD’s. Now although I consider myself to be a solid Stevie Wonder, I’ve been slow on the uptake with his new album. Indeed it’s been out for a fair few months now and I had not acquired it, thus leaving me completely out of sync with the members of the yahoo group. So you can imagine the joy that filled my soul when the Family Treasurer, aka the wife allowed the budget to stretch to include the purchase of the album. Sweet! And as for the album itself … well you’ll just have to wait for the review!!

What You Reading, Christopher?

As well as reviewing CD’s, it kinda makes sense, being the reader that I am to review some of the reading material that passes through me hands. Now I am a library connoisseur, so rather than accumulate a collection of acquired items, I accumulate a collection of library fines based on getting a large number of books and taking my own sweet time to get through them, sometimes overlooking the small matter of renewing them. Indeed this is a condition I developed whilst growing up. Indeed such were the fines I racked up my dear mother must have financially kept them in business.

Anyhow, I’m not the sort to just read one book at a time, I’ll tend to have a few going at the same time. Currently I’m making my way through Hip Hop America by Nelson George. It’s an interesting documenting of the development of the cultural phenomenon by a writer who closely monitored it from its beginnings to the ‘relative’ present. One thing about the writing is that I was rather intrigued by the kind of defence of a view of the ‘black’ experience that at times is at odds with my moral base, i.e. the promoting of pride and the individualistic nature of the enterprise. What’s also clear through the reading of this book is that it’s difficult to find anything good about Hip Hop other than making people rich. I mean, just because your life has been tough and as a result you’re a victim of society, doesn’t excuse revelling in it and making money out of it. I’m 90% through the book – it’s not a long book at all – and for anyone interested in the many facets of the genre it’s well worth the read.

Who Let The Dogs In by Molly Ivins is a kind of anthology of the writer’s works over the years. For anyone new to Ivins, she’s a liberal American – liberal in the American tradition of the word, so tending to favour a more open attitude to issues of federal involvement, sexuality and supporting the minority interests. Liberals are opposed to the basic ideals of the republicans particularly in terms of their links with business interests and crushing of any welfare support. It’s a very rough definition, but live with it. I had read her book Bushwhacked which took a chunk out of the current president highlighting the damage his policies have wreaked on the country. It’s humorous and has good insight into that perspective of how politics has moved over the last 25 years. As you’d expect the Bushes don’t come out looking good and Clinton comes out looking almost like a saint comparatively. I’m roughly 68% through the book and so far it’s well worth the borrowing!

Ain’t It Cool News an autobiography by Harry Knowles is the final book that I’m making my way through. As you may know, he’s the dude who revolutionised movie news with his ‘insider’ take on the latest developments in Hollywood on his website. I have not checked his website and took up the book on interest. He’s a passionate, articulate writer and I like that. His obsession with the movie industry is undeniable, his desire for the best in the business can be somewhat infectious, as it should be or else I wouldn’t give the book the time of day that it’s getting. His style is also very personal, there’s no sense of someone who graduated from university and been well-worn in the writing business. It’s very fresh, style-wise, maybe a bit over-verbose at times, but what kind of criticism is that coming from me? I’m always perplexed, though, as to why people write autobiographies before they’re 40? Is that really a life lived? Anyhow, we never know when the 15 minutes are done, so you might as well get it all done and dusted while you’re ‘hot’.

The benchmark of great book, however, is whether or not I would buy it. The purchase of the book suggests a significant interest in the subject matter and a willingness to invest my time in it and perhaps read it again on another occasion. These three books are interesting, but not that compelling for me to slap it in me collection.

Year Ending

One of the beautiful things about this time of year is that offers an opportunity to reflect on a set period of time and see where I was and where I am now. It obviously also offers a chance to dedicate the mind and will to where to go next, hence the scripture verse. One thing I will say I’ve learnt from this year is that if ever I need to be sensitive to the guidance of my Father it’s now.

Some things to look forward to in upcoming blogs

· Da Man CD’s Top Five Friends of the Year
· What Are My Tricks For 2006?
· The review of Stevie Wonder’s A Time To Love

That’s your lot for today, the house is buzzing in anticipation of the special guests, either that or it’s buzzing because Kevaughn has left the skipping CD on repeat again. Hold on a minute … [cue slap upside the head to Kevaughn] nope it’s the anticipation for the special guests.

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