Noise to Signal

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February 2009

Noise To Signal's Infinite Playlist #1 : Apocalypse Please / 27.02.09

Welcome to a new regular* feature, in which every couple of weeks we post a playlist of ten songs on a particular theme for you to feast your ears upon. We’ll give you links and details on where the songs come from, so you can track them down and get hold of ‘em - and if you’re a Spotify user, you can even click straight through to listen. But unlike other NTS features, this one isn’t just reliant upon you reading (and, er, listening) - we’ve gone mad with power, like that Albert Schweitzer guy, and we want your input.

While we’ll be starting off with playlists compiled by site writers, we’d also like to open it up for our loyal readers to contribute. So if you can come up with ten songs, of any genre or style, linked by any kind of theme (loose or tight), or simply ten tracks you’re particularly digging at the moment, we’ll put them together and use them. So get thinking, and fire off your suggestions to! And, of course, if you simply want to discuss the playlists that we post - especially if you’ve got BETTER song suggestions than we come up with - then the comment threads await your thoughts.

We kick off this week with a list of songs themed around the end of the world

A Matter for the Public Record / 26.02.09

Whilst other people ponder the intelligent questions about Margaret, BBC TWO/HD’s drama about Thatcher’s fall from power, I’m here to debate the frivolities. Such as: is the House of Commons set used in the programme the longest-serving set in UK television history?

Tonight we present a new miracle of electricity... / 26.02.09


...and yet undeniably creepy.

Quake Live / 25.02.09

Oh, yes. Lovely stuff.

Haven’t had a chance to give it a whirl yet, but will be doing so VERY SOON. If it works well, it’s an amazing testament to how far browser-based gaming has come, considering the game was absolutely cutting-edge less than ten years ago - but then, you only have to look at the likes of Football Manage Live to see how well games with a relatively small (if any) client download that then then be played anywhere, entirely over the net, can work.

My only question is… when do we get a Quake II version? Or hell, a DOOM one?

To Fight the Unbeatable Foe / 24.02.09

Earlier today, neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield used her seat in the Lords to mount an attack on “our culture in screen technologies”, claiming that such creations are responsible for a considerable number of social evils, from the risk in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to cancer. It’s tempting to simply dismiss such a view as those of a luddite, but it’s tricky to find a balance to avoid manifesting the supposed faults Greenfield cites.

Sue me, sue me, what can you do me? / 19.02.09

So those rumours about an older companion in one of the Who specials were true. Lindsay Duncan, 58, has been cast as Adelaide in the second of the upcoming specials.

Marvellous, frankly. I’m all for shuffling about the companion dynamics, and RTD - non-stupid that he is - is clearly mindful of the popularity of Evelyn Smythe. I’d like to think that in the third one we might get a male/female pairing, or a robot, or an alien, or a talking penguin, but we also know that he’ll probably be on his own for at least one of them - and it can’t be the fourth, because he can’t be on his own when he regenerates. So I’m laying bets now that there’ll be no proper companion for the third, and Martha (and possibly Mickey and/or Jack) will be back for the fourth. You heard it here first.

Pirate Johnnie Walker / 18.02.09

Being jingle geeks, John and I do a lot of complaining about the bland sound of radio today. It probably won’t surprise you that we love the sound of the ‘Pirate’ stations of the Sixties, but it may well surprise you that Radio 2 have let the one-time star of Radio Caroline, Johnnie Walker, take over the airwaves yet again with his very own pirate station. Although Johnnie has had a long career with the station, this isn’t simply another ‘Sounds of the Sixties’ (as Brian Matthew does that very well indeed on Radio 2); Johnny pretends that he really is a pirate station bobbing about on the waves, enjoying the indulgence of the BBC, with most of the music being provided from his private collection of vinyl. To top it all off, you can only get in touch with Johnny by postcard or letter!

Simpsons Staff Commit Crime Against Humanity / 16.02.09

Seriously, I think they should be taken to The Hague for this :

Okay, I know that switching the show to HD means that a new title sequence is necessary. But did they have to do such a completely rotten job? I mean, is Mr Burns really a less important character than Disco Stu, the Texan oil baron and the crazy cat lady?

Still, at least this means there's no longer any pretence that it's still the same show.

Get Real / 05.02.09

It’s 1998. My childhood friend is visiting me at Manchester, where I’m studying. We’re at the cinema near Manchester Victoria station, trying to decide what to watch. We like the look of some film called ‘Get Real’. As the film progresses, we become dimly aware that we recognise most of the locations used, and, to our surprise, realise it’s being filmed in Basingstoke, where we both grew up. We enjoy the film, but are mainly amused by the location. According to the BFI, we’d just watched ‘a defining moment in British gay cinema’, and they’re showing it on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 of February. I’d recommend giving it a try, if only for the fact that you don’t get many films set in middling Hampshire towns, and that it’s actually pretty good.

Def., For Sure / 04.02.09

Tomorrow’s issue of Doctor Who Magazine includes the announcement that this year’s Easter special will see the series upgraded to High Definition. What makes this surprising is the about-face it represents towards the creators’ previous opinions. Like the production team of every other TV fantasy programme, Russell T Davies & Co have always been at pains to remind us that their creation is “the most difficult show to make”, and previous interview comments were pretty categorical that HD Who wasn’t practical politics. The “bedding in” of the technology on Torchwood suggests that this has been planned for some time, although it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that that James Strong has been appointed director purely on the strength of his HD experience.

There’s been a bit of speculation that this will see a new console room in order to stand up to the scrutiny of a sharper picture, but this seems rather unlikely. If there was every something to be left as a means of ringing in the Moffat era, it’s the change of “desktop wallpaper”…

"Live from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, it's... a not very funny sketch show!" / 04.02.09

Having had it vehemently recommended to me by Cappsy and Andrew (among others), I recently stuck the entire series of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on my spangly new Lovefilm list - and it took watching only two discs for me to promptly take it off my Lovefilm list, because I was sufficiently hooked to shell out eleven quid and buy the boxset from Amazon. I’m about halfway through the series now, and still enjoying it a lot, but one thing in particular does strike me as being a bit wrong with it.

The titular show-within-a-show, Studio 60 itself, just isn’t that funny.

It Sticks Out Half A Mile / 03.02.09

A Dad’s Army radio sequel, the pilot of which was never transmitted, due to Arthur Lowe’s death soon after recording in 1981. Coo! It’s only on the BBC iPlayer until 6pm tonight (sorry), but is interesting listening. However! The rest of the eventual series, broadcast originally in 1983, will be broadcast soon on BBC7.

God, I love the BBC iPlayer AND BBC7.

Your chance to examine Matt Smith / 02.02.09

Just a quick heads up to everyone who fancies seeing just how choppy Matt Smith’s acting chops actually are. He will be appearing in the three part BBC drama Moses Jones, starting tonight (Monday 2nd February) at 21:00 on BBC2.

Having seen his turn in 2007’s Party Animals, I’m pretty convinced he’s a great actor, but I’m certainly looking forward to this opportunity to see more recent co-starring work.