Friday, December 26, 2008

Dr Who The Next Doctor

Well, it wouldn't be Christmas without The Doctor, would it? In this years Dr Who Christmas Special we find The Doctor in London in 1951-a pretty dull year where nothing much happened. Except that the Doctor, of course, never lands in dull places where nothing happens.

This was a good episode. I liked the idea of David Tennant meeting his new self in the person of David Morrissey. The Next Doctor had more of an Old Doctor feel to him, as he kind of reminds me of both John Pertwee and Peter Davidson. Of course, all you really need to be The Doctor is a lot of self confidence in the face of hopeless situations. I was also happy to see one of my favorite actresses, Dervla Kirwan, playing the part of a villain. Oh Assumpta, how could you?

I was a bit surprised to see The Eighth Doctor in a flashback of all the old Doctors. Doctor Who, like many other interesting Science Fiction programs, had a chance of being a success on the American FOX network-the same chance that a snowball has in hell. FOX is notorious for airing new shows out of sequence or delaying thier airing because of sporting events, or just waiting so long to air them that everyone involved has moved on to something else. There was one episode of Doctor Who which featured The Eighth Doctor, but he seems to have had a great afterlife in comics, books, and the hearts and minds of fans.

Steampunk is one of my favorite bits of silliness. The main idea is what if Victorians invented say, cell phones, what would they look like? Knowing the Victorian love of intricate detail and the primitive state of Victorian technology, they would be both beautiful and clunky. The Wild Wild West was steampunk in that our old west heroes had all kinds of modern era gadgets. Spock made a steampunk TV in the best Star Trek episode ever, City on The Edge of Forever. Lots of people now make and sell their Steampunk jewelry and technology. The Golden Compass is filled with steampunk.

The big finish of The Next Doctor has our hero fighting a Cyber King-a dreadnought class Cyberman battleship-only it was made using 1851 London materials and techonlogy. So it is a giant steam powered Cyberman complete with glowing red eyes and giant gears and pulleys. This is a brilliant bit of steampunk which actually steams.

It would have been fun to see a Steampunk Dalek, as that is one of the first steampunk things I really noticed online. Well, maybe next Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

London Weather Thoughts

Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.

It has been cold here in Texas the past few days. Well, around 14 degrees °C. That's pretty cold for me. I went to London once in May and it was pretty nice. We took a side trip up to Inverness to see Loch Ness and look for Nessy. It was bloody cold there. We went on a bus tour of the Battlefield of Culloden and all we saw where the fogged up windows of the bus, as no one on the tour wanted to venture topside to see what the guide was talking about. It was also raining. Had a great time though.

A quick Google for London Weather tells me that is 50°F (10°C) at the moment-not too bad, right about where I like it actually. We spent a lot of time walking on London, so the weather is kind of a big deal. Those Tube Stations are always just a little bit farther away than you expect them to be. It's always fun to window shop in Camden Town and Portabella Road. All the touristy stuff that I like seem to have a lot of outdoor components. There's a reason Dr Who wore that big coat and 28 foot long scarf. It can be pretty cold once in a while in London.

Monday, December 15, 2008

London's Best Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding is the dessert traditionally served on Christmas day. It has its origins in England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding, though this can also refer to other kinds of boiled pudding involving a lot of dried fruit.-Wikipedia

What makes for a great Christmas Pudding? That's a matter of taste, of course. Christmas Puddings have made notable appearances in a couple of my favorite shows. Bob Cratchit is scandalized at how much a Christmas Pudding cost in Scrooge and The Vicar of Dibley has to eat way too much Christmas Pudding as she eats her way across Dibley.

London Christmas puddings

Harrods Christmas Limited Edition Pudding (£49.95)

Harrods only made 300 limited edition Christmas puddings, so they could put extra special attention into making them perfect. Filled with Harrod's own oak-cask brandy, each pudding contains 6 silver coins and comes in an individually numbered ceramic bowl. Presented in a velvet gift box.

LA FROMAGERIE Christmas Puddings £17.00 6 - 8 servings
Made exclusively for LA FROMAGERIE to a traditional recipe, it is brimming with dried fruits including Agen Prunes, Lexia Raisins, Stout, Brandy and lots of spice. Pour over brandy, ignite and enjoy with lots of fresh cream or brandy butter. N.B May contain traces of nuts.

Selfridges Ultimate Christmas Hamper (£69.99)

Embrace the festive season with vigour this year with the mini Christmas collection in this Christmas Hamper. As a bonus, each Selfridges hamper features a festive yellow cracker, which gives you a chance to win an Anya Hindmarch handbag! Includes Selfridges Christmas pudding 450g.

Waitrose Christmas Puddings (£12.99)

Waitrose Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding is topped with glistening pecans, brandy-soaked cherries and strips of orange peel, you do not need a jolly sprig of holly to make this pudding look good. The website lists 25 different Christmas Puddings, while supplies last.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Heritage Christmas Pudding (£9.99, 454g)

Made with vine fruits, cherries, ale and sherry, with a festive touch of spice. Comes in a bowl with muslin and a threepenny bit. The traditional recipe comes with a traditional tale – the 13 ingredients represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. On the same page is a cranberry jelly and a sherry trifle. Makes me think of London.

Tesco Finest Vintage Christmas Pudding (£11.99)

A few years ago there was a taste test in which Tesco's Christmas Pudding beat out 13 other puddings from more upscale shops. The people have spoken, this is London's Best Christmas Pudding. This is a lovely moist pudding, soaked in sherry and cognac.

Marks & Spencer Christmas Pudding (£7.99, 907g)

One of the rare puddings made with beef suet (most shop-bought versions are vegetarian), this is one for those who like their pudding glossy, sticky and dense. The traditional dark appearance has an edge of bitterness from stout and treacle. High on booze, it still has other interesting tastes coming through.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scrooge-Christmas in London

There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not here any more.
-The Ghost of Christmas Present

My favorite Christmas movie is Scrooge starring Albert Finny. This is a musical with a number of great songs and lots of silliness mixed in with the story of that old miser Ebeneezer Scrooge and three ghosts that haunt him into goodness.

Made in 1970 Scrooge was a bit past the musical heyday of 1950s, but it is still a great film. A brilliant supporting cast includes Edith Evans, Kenneth More, Anton Rodgers, and Alec Gunness. I love the melancholy feeling of Albert Finny and his one true love that he lost to his love of money.

There is a great song called Thank You Very Much in which the entire city of London seems to be celebrating the death of the wicked old Scrooge. There is also the sad and hopeful Happiness sung by Scrooge's one true love, though Scrooge is too blind to see the truth until he is brought back to the past. I also like the happy and fun December The 25th.

I've watched Scrooge every year for several years now. One of the keys to falling in love with any musical is hearing the songs over and over again. Maybe Scrooge is not up there with My Fair Lady or Camelot, but I like it. If you haven't seen, you should really give it a look.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bath A London Side Trip

I stopped in Bath on the way to Stonehenge and spent most of my short time there in the Roman Baths. This is wonderful place with a really old world feel to it. This is a World Heritage Site. Around Britain's only hot spring, the Romans built a magnificent temple and bathing complex that still flows with natural hot water. See the water's source and walk where Romans walked on the ancient stone pavements. This is a great place to take photos, but I had a hard time getting shots without other Tourists in them.

Jane Austin was fond of Bath and set two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in Bath and made the city her home from 1801 to 1806. In Northanger Abbey Jane writes; 'They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; - her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already'.
Jane Austin's Bath is well remembered in the Bath of today.

No visit to Bath is complete without a trip to the oldest house in Bath (c.1483). Centrally located and home of the world famous Sally Lunn Bun (exceptionally light semi sweet bread) and now a living museum where visitors can experience a taste of Bath just a few minutes from the Abbey.

The Bath Abby itself is a very interesting place, with a series of angels crawling up and down Jacob's Ladder on the front of the building. An Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church dating from 757, pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England soon after 1066. The present Abbey church founded in 1499, ruined after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII, was completed in 1611.

Bath is a great place to visit, if you can tear yourself away from London.