Worst Canvassing Experience Meme

Stephen Tall has tagged me in this week’s LDV Weekend Meme, about canvassing experiences. Here goes:

Most Angry

I think that probably has to go to the woman I delivered a leaflet to in Thame, as part of the Henley by-election precipitated by Boris Johnson’s quitting as an MP. It doesn’t technically count as canvassing, but it’s easily the angriest reaction I’ve had: Scarcely had I withdrawn my hand from the letterbox on the front door, when I heard an incensed, and nigh on incomprehensible, scream to the effect that they did not appreciate my being in their vicinity, swiftly followed by something about the size and weight of a boot being flung at the door from inside. I flinched slightly, and looked around for any clue as to what I might have done to upset this person, but answer came there none. I moved swiftly on, slightly comforted by the sympathetic look from the next door neighbour.

Most Bemusing

The ones who say, in the wake of the expenses scandal, that they aren’t voting, seeming to think this is going to do something to clean up Westminster. I could ask them to talk me through how not bothering to distinguish between good and bad politicians is going to make any of the good ones try harder to clean up the system. I could ask them how they think a crisis of politicians being out of touch with the voters is helped by said voters not even trying to be heard. I could ask them whether they think the people who fought in the civil war, or were part of the suffragette movement, sat around whingeing that they didn’t feel “engaged” and declaring that they were simply going to sit at home and sulk until such time as they got what they wanted. But of course, it’s not really worth it, and I have to be civil and polite to them. Ultimately, I usually just come away feeling that I am simply on a different planet to these people.

Most Depressing

A tie. The obvious answer would be the guy we spoke to a week or two ago, who sounded for all the world like a talking BNP leaflet. I was faintly amused when, mid rant about bending over backwards for Islam / it’s a Christian country / etc, my colleague asked said gent whether in fact he went to Church. The answer, you will all be shocked to discover, was no, but he had “Christian views”. No, I don’t know what that means, either.

But I think probably, I have found the most depressing thing to be those who don’t vote; who say, without a hint of embarrasment or apology, that they “aren’t interested in politics”, who seem to see nothing wrong with abdicating their responsibility as citizens to take even the vaguest interest, as Mark points out, for a couple of hours every couple of years. The imperative to be generally polite to people has been most tested, I would say, in the face of such feckless eejits. I really would rather they told me they were voting Tory, or whatever.

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Characters/Letters Meme

Picked this up from Jennie. Rules as follows:

1. Comment on this post.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Think of 5 fictional characters whose names begin with that letter and post their names and your comments on these characters in your LJ.

Anyhoo, my letter was B, so these were what came to mind:

Bernice Summerfield – Dr Who companion through much of the NAs, which I am trying to read in order at the moment (and have been doing since forever, tbh). Not yet managed to quite “get” the high levels of affection for the character, to be honest.

Bilal – Exxilon from Death to the Daleks. Don’t really know why this occured to me, other than that he’s quite sweet. (Don’t worry, won’t all be Whovian).

Aww.

Bloody Stupid Johnson – Terry Pratchett’s carnival-hall-of-mirrors reflection of Capability Brown. A great archetype.

The Black Man – enigmatic seller of illicit materials from This Town Will Never Let Us Go (and also a cameo in Alien Bodies?). One of the more effective bits of the book, for me.

Big Brother – Orwell’s enduring anthropomorphic vision of an overbearing state. Inevitably always quoted by people making points about something or other, but not always the most relevant dystopia.

So, anyone want a letter?

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Best Posts Meme

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An End of Season Dr Who / LM / LDB Meme. (Yes we must.)

Well, RTD has just rather publicly gotten himself over his Doctor/Rose dyad with a massive, turgid two-parter. Thank goodness for that.

Meanwhile, Loz Miles is positively inviting us to pile in on his agenda for discussion on the future of the programme:

The following 25-point programme may not be a way of guaranteeing that Doctor Who is great – only a competent scriptwriting team could ensure that, and in the Age of Chibnall, even competence is a precious commodity – but it would at least give the series a chance to escape its current rut of showbiz fan-fic and computer-generated slurry. Tick the ones you agree with, and if you tick all 25, then I’m available for a September wedding.

I will leave LM to explain himself on each of the points, there’s no point reproducing the whole lot here, but here are the 25 headings, along with my own thoughts (you can skip this if you’re pushed for time), and a score from 1 to “Yes! Yes! Just… YES.” (4, so that they will add up to a neat percentage).

I do hope I’m not getting married in September…

1. A companion who isn’t from the early twenty-first century.
Yeah, this would be nice. I’m not sure it’s a priority, though. Plus, if that moment in Planet of the Ood that pissed Larry off so much (you know; where the Doctor apologised for questioning sweat shops) had been with a companion who wasn’t from our times, there would have been no question of tieing the ethical issue back to our world in such a direct way in the first place, regardless of the apology.
2/4

2. A companion who’s played by a proper actress.
Yup. Not only on the basis of the quality of the acting, but if the show lets itself be judged on the star names it attracts, then it hands the press a stick to beat it with as soon as it doesn’t find a big name who wants to be a companion for a series.
4/4

3. We don’t necessarily need a single companion.
Not convinced. This seems to be based on Larry accepting that the programme needs UST, but wanting it not to involve the Doctor. The latter I can get on board with, but the former is not really a position I accept. You could have some occasional UST, where necessary, with a character specific to the story, or if you want something ongoing then a recurring character (maybe instead of the fretful-mother-and-accoutrements). A whole season of it between companions might get just as tedious as what we’ve had so far.
1/4

4. No more affairs for the Doctor.
Yup.
4/4

5. A less sexy, less athletic Doctor.
Yes, but not too worried about this. At the very least, a Doctor who stops making knowing little smuggeries like “I don’t want to regenerate; I mean.. look at me!”.
2/4

6. No spurious super-powers.
Yes.
4/4

7. The Doctor shouldn’t know everything.
Completely agree with what Larry says here about the spirit of the programme being discovery alongside the characters, not infodumping.
5/4

8. The Doctor shouldn’t be perfect.
I think, to be fair, RTD understands this point, and allowed Davros to make some relatively telling criticisms of the Doctor’s moral character in the finale. But I would agree that the idolising of the Doctor by Moff has been tedious.
3/4

9. The Doctor’s presence should never, ever be the solution.
Hmm. In many ways, it can be argued that the series has always presented the Doctor’s presence as being the crucial factor, but the difference was that he still had to do something, rather than simply be the Doctor. I think the point is that many scripts aren’t making much effort to make the solutions interesting, because they aren’t really interested in them.
4/4

10. No technobabble.
Meh. The show has always had technobabble, and Loz even admits that some stories (he cites The Pirate Planet) have done it in a dramatically satisfying way. I think perhaps technobabble is a straw man here. Although it has to be said that the fetishisation of technobabble we saw in Journey’s End with the DoctorDonna was silly.
0/4

11. Absolutely no “magic wand” technology.
Essentially the same point as the technobabble point, but better expressed.
3/4

12. Please, in the name of God, less stories set on modern-day Earth.
Yes.
4/4

13. No more alien invasions.
Certainly fewer, they lead to some pretty uninteresting runarounds.
3/4

14. Stop wasting money on “big”.
Sometimes. I think at the end of the season it’s fair enough wanting “big”, but if you’re going to do it, do it well. The exploding Daleks and saucers at the end of last night’s episode looked seriously budget, to my eye. I’d certainly apply this rule to the big empty first-two-parter-of-the-seasons, though; the best one so far was Daleks in Manhattan, and that wasn’t great. I’d rather have a couple more cheapo Midnight type things spread throughout the season.
2/4

15. Less CGI monsters.
Maybe. I don’t really mind them, they’re a standard these days, and people, rightly or wrongly, think other forms of effect work look silly. I do think it would be nice to have more of a concept behind the monsters. Doctor Who monsters are always supposed to have some sort of “point”, to my mind – this is what has generally set it apart from stuff like Star Trek, with its ersatz alien “cultures”. Doesn’t really matter if the “point” is an aesthetic one or a more ideological one, or if the point is their environment more than the monster itself (Daleks = Nazis, The Master = Polar Opposite to The Doctor, Monsters of Greatest Show in the Galaxy = things that are creepy about a Circus, etc.). The worst thing, then, to do to a monster is to completely divorce them from their “point”, so that they might as well be any old thing. The example this series was the Sontarans, a physical monster, not a CG one, so… I think Loz may have let his dislike of the ubiquity of CGI cloud his diagnosis of a cause for the symptoms he has correctly identified.
1/4

16. Stop making straight-to-video horror movies with all the horror taken out.
Loz hasn’t really completely explained what he means by this, since he admits that Hammer Horror -> Talons of Weng Chiang worked, but what I gather from what he’s written is the following guiding principle: If you’re going to lift a movie trope, lift one which survives the transition. Talons works because the BBC could do most of what made Hammer good, but Lazarus Experiment doesn’t, because what makes the films which influenced it good cannot be transmitted at 7pm on a Saturday. I suspect I may be making my own point out of Loz’s components, but… it’s the only one I can find in there (unless he just means that the films they are copying nowadays are rubbish ones, which isn’t a very interesting point).
2/4

17. We need writers who can write, not just directors who can direct.
Yes, but I would add to this that there are some writers who can write: RTD when he stears clear of the finales, Moff when he’s not celebrating himself / just winding up fans who don’t like the idea of the Doctor “dancing”, Matt Jones to some extent, Paul Cornell, Rob Shearman.
3/4

18. I should obviously be hired as a writer.
I’d like to see it, but suspect it would be vetted heavily by Moff, and I doubt Loz could cope.
3/4

19. Make sure you hire the right “cult” comic-book author.
Agree with the comments recommending Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, though I don’t share LM’s complete aversion to Gaiman.
2/4

20. We need one – just one – proper historical story.
Yeah, might be nice.
3/4

21. Historical stories that are actually about the era in question.
Certainly, though more than this I would have pushed Loz’s other objection to the current historicals: the slavishly followed dogma that each and every famous historical figure was “a genius”, “brilliant”, “the best X ever”, etc., and furthermore that the episode needs to spend 20% of its running time impressing this upon us. In this sense, at least, Girl in the Fireplace was preferable – as an “Oddball Historical”, rather than as a “Doctor Weepie”.
2/4

22. Monsters that fit the story.
I made the jump to this point a bit early, under the point about CGI, so I will agree with it here.
3/4

23. Enough of the Daleks.
I dunno. A finale every two seasons, say, would be tolerable, but only if they have something fresh to do with them. I would certainly like to see the crash-bang-wallop Dalek Epics rested for a while.
3/4

24. Say no to story arcs.
Hmm. I appreciate what Loz says about the finale enslaving the rest of the season to some extent, but I still think it’s nice to have a payoff for following the whole series, something a bit more than the first couple of seasons’ code words. I couldn’t say this season’s arc bothered me, if you ignore the fervent fan speculation about it (which you will never stop) and just look at the actual episodes.
1/4

25. Less Confidential, more Totally.
Not bothered, suspect this is only on Loz’s list out of Moff-aversion.
0/4

So my total agreement with Loz here is… 64%.

Now, people who are to be made tediously to do this: anyone who wants to, really, but I’m guessing Daddies Richard and Alex, Jennie and Matt, Will, and anyone who I’ve forgotten.

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Book Meme

Jennie has done this, so I thought I would, since I haven’t written about much rececntly (yes, Heinz should be ashamed of themselves, but I couldn’t be arsed to write about it).

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.”

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

It would appear off the back of this that I am some kind of awful literary mysogynist, for which I can only:

1. Apologise
2. Urge more women to write fiction I might want to read.
3. Urge the Big Read to include the Faction Paradox novels and non-fiction on this list, so that I wouldn’t be such an awful git.

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