“Oh, the squirrel-manity!”

There’s one thing you can guarantee about an Eddie Izzard gig… that there will be a wide selection of animals exclaiming about some issue affecting their lives, oh and a healthy dose of history. Guess what – he still delivers all that, and much more, but what’s missing is his usual choice of sparkly clothing. For some reason, Mr Izzard is now cutting a suave figure in jeans, white shirt and a long backed jacket for his Stripped tour in London. This shouldn’t come as such a surprise, since last time we saw him in Montreal he was wearing much the same, but tonight was a much, much better show. Tighter, more laughs, and more cute animals complaining about over-crowding on the ark.

Stripped is standard Eddie fare, ramblingly hilarious discursions on how the world can be put to rights, how cool iPhones are and how giraffes hide. What’s good to see is that after so long punting the LA stand-up scene, he seems very happy to be back on home ground. The jokes seem more relevant to a UK audience, although at times the American references passed most of the audience by. That said, the audience didn’t seem to mind – and that audience included random celebrity attendees Lenny Henry & Dawn French.

So another big thanks to Mr Izzard for another splendid night, and to those of you who don’t have tickets – get your arses down to the returns queue like we did and keep your fingers crossed! It’s worth the wait.

The Unofficial History of the Milliways Adventure

Many, many years ago Douglas Adams got together with Infocom to produce the remarkably successful Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy game. Then, being Douglas, he got bored before the sequel was written. Now you can find out some of what happened behind the scenes that meant that Milliways was never released. Fascinating stuff.

Letting the Days Go By

I’m in a total Talking Heads fest right now. It’s funny really, as I was never a big fan of their hits back when they came out, now after some water under the bridge I’ve realised quite how outstanding they were and how much they’ve influenced modern bands. That and lead singer David Byrne was one of my more regular celeb spots back in New York, striding purposefully around the East Village with his spiky gray hair.

Neil Gaiman n the Gender of Books

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and also a prolific blogger. Not only do we get a glimpse into his alternatingly calm then hectic life, but he also takes the time to write essays on how his stories are formed. One of these is on the subject of what gender your story has, and it’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in the art of story telling.

Richard Feynman, Interview with a Genius

Richard Feynman is one of the geniuses of the 20th century, not only winning the Nobel prize for Physics, but also for being able to explain complex physics theories in a manner that even dumb Physics degree students (like me) can understand. Feynman was also involved with developing the bomb at Los Alamos that later went on to destroy Hiroshima, and hearing him talk of his and everyone’s elses’ reaction at the time is somewhat chilling.

This video is only part one of six, all of which should should up in the related videos if you go direct to youTube.

Terry Gilliam’s Latest Film to Continue?

Following on from Heath Ledger’s unfortunate, accidental death the filming of Terry Gilliam’s latest epic was put on hold. With one of his lead actors dead, Gilliam and the rest of The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus team were faced with an awkward and probably uncomfortable decision – stop the film entirely, or find some other way to do it without Ledger, perhaps using computer animation or a new actor.

Well, according to the BBC they’ve decided to push on with a typically Gilliamesque solution. Ledger’s character will be played by not one, but three of the most outstanding actors in film today – Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law! Depp comes as no surprise, as he and Gilliam work together regularly, but the other two are somewhat from left field. As a Gilliam fan I’ll be waiting to see how he pulls this together, and as a fan of Heath Ledger’s work it’s great to know that his final legacy will make it to the screen with such a ‘supporting’ cast paying tribute to him along the way.

We Heart Beautiful Katamari (Old Skool)

Since both M and I are addicted to ‘We Heart Katamari’, the genius, bizarre game that involves rolling stuff up into a ball (like food, toys, people, countries and so on) we finally bit the bullet and retro-graded to buy the original – Katamari Damacy. So apologies to anyone who expected to see us this weekend.

The original Katamari outing is, strangely enough, almost identical to its sequel. You have the enigmatic/mentally deranged King of All Cosmos giving quests to his son the Prince to restore all the stars to the sky, after an apparent drunk driving accident caused them all to be knocked down. You have the wonderful techno-jazz sound-a-like songs. You have cows and bears that really p*ss you off. You have confusing instructions that make no sense. And, of course, you have to roll. Where the game differs is, unsurprisingly, in the handling of the Katamari, the round ball you use to roll everything up. The game mechanics obviously haven’t been as smoothed off as they are in the sequel – so you sometimes find yourself frustrated/confused/shouting about a situation where the katamari is stuck for no reason, or loses a pile of collected items from a very very slow collision, or just won’t get out of a corner – plus the game designers hadn’t yet implemented the ability to see through walls when they get in the way so sometimes you can’t see where you are… Of course all of this is due to us being used to the sequel, and once you learn to forget the other mechanics the fun is still all there, and that’s the important thing. Really.

The only bad news in all this is that the latest Katamari game – Beautiful Katamari – is only currently out on XBox 360. Dammit! There is a rumour about a Wii version, but who needs yet another reason to yearn for a Wii? Please send answers written on a Nintendo Wii to the usual address.

More Gaiman Stuff in the Works

After many years of wishing everyone would hurry up and put Neil Gaiman’s excellent Sandman books out there as a movie, I’ve now decided that it would probably just upset me and most other folks who have their own Sandman vision in their heads. It’s funny how with books you’d expect this concern, but with Sandman being a comic you might think they’d be no issues – but having seen a few comic conversions recently I’ve realised how much editing they’d have to do and the story is the thing. So I’m happy not to hear of any Sandman movie news. Ever.

That said I’m always happy to hear of more Gaiman related movie news when I’m not so emotionally invested in the books. I loved Stardust, I’m much more tempted to go see Beowulf now I’ve found out Gaiman worked on the script and soon we can see Coraline – an adaptation of one of his wonderful children’s books.

What I’d really love to see out of Sandman is a stand-alone movie, penned by Gaiman and using the characters without impacting the main storyline. That would be awesome.

Colbert back on the Air

Even though the writer’s strike is still on the ever awesome Colbert Report, along with other less wonderful daily shows (sorry Sandra), is back on the air. Woo! Of course now that I’m living in Montreal without cable I have no way of knowing how amazing Stephen is being without a script… unless of course there was some kind of way to see him on the internet or something… Nah. That would never happen because that’s why the writer’s are striking… Oh wait.

And that was a standing ovation of over two minutes… only slightly spoilt by the geeky overweight guy saying ‘I love you, Stephen!’ at the end. We get it. We all love him. He knows, we don’t need to tell him. Doi.

The Song Remained the Same (Led Zeppelin in Concert)

Well Led Zeppelin have just finished their one-off gig at the O2 arena in London. From the Radio 6 broadcast I’m listening to the set list was full of classic Zeppelin tracks – Song Remains the Same, Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven all featured. Hopefully soon someone will put some bootleg tracks up and we can all have a jolly good listen to find out how the old rock fogeys have held up. Some of us can’t afford £86,000 for a pair of touted tickets y’know.

In related news, the Vicar owner of Bron-Y-Aur, the small cottage in Wales near Machynlleth, has asked that Led Zeppelin fans refrain from doing the pilgrimage to his remote home. Back in my young student days in Birmingham I made that trip as part of an ill fated camping weekend. I hadn’t planned on it being a special visit, but as soon as I saw that cottage named on the Ordnance Survey map I had to go. It was dusk when I got there, so I snapped a photo of the wonderfully atmospheric, tree covered driveway then went home – happy to see the place where Page & Plant had spent a weekend creating some amazing songs.