Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jasper Fforde Interview Part 2

I promised swans and libraries today… and yes, I do deliver, but with an added bonus of Monopoly! Perhaps a tad more random then the color centric part yesterday, I hope it will be equally entertaining… enough of me, you want more of Jasper, and that’s what this post is all about.

Elizabeth: Do you view the lack of a stocked library[1] the most nightmarish aspect of East Carmine, where all they have is the vague memories of what was once there?

Jasper: It’s pretty chilling really, it’s more because they’re worn out than someone’s… oh hang on, they removed them, yes someone’s removing them, haven’t they. Yeah it is a bit chilling and a bit worrying. But I kind of like the idea. Because in my previous books, in the Thursday Next Series, I have a library that contains every single book there is and here I’ve got a library that contains just empty shelves. I was kind of doing a sort of complete turn around there. But I do like the idea of a library, not only without books, but the people still in it. I think this is very telling, for the kind of way in which this society is really breaking down, that they remember the function of the library and that’s what they’re celebrating. Where everything used to be, and what the titles are, but not the form. So they’re not saying, well the books used to say this, they’re saying, the books used to be here. And I think that was maybe a very subtle way in which the society is kind of rotting, and that maybe 200 years ago they used to discuss the books and now they just discuss where they used to be. It’s just another way of adding to the kind of slightly, sort of insidious, kind of nasty, this society is going in a very very bad direction and no one in particular seems to realize.

Elizabeth: Would the librarians kind of being non-functionary, but still having their job, reflect almost what’s happening today with reference librarians being phased out with the internet?

Jasper: Yes, they do seem to be. The whole library issue is a very interesting point and certainly it will be interesting to see where the internet goes as regards reference libraries. But I think the traditional library with librarians and things, that does seem to be slowing down, and I think it does seem to be on the way out. The internet is such easy access to more and more people, the libraries do seem to have perhaps a bit of trouble competing. Unfortunately that adds to the difficulties where people who don’t have internet access and will actually make the whole unonline, the unconnected underclass, even worse, which is a worry, I must say. But the way I look at the internet is one huge library, and I can just log in wherever I want.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I mean, you can even log into remote libraries themselves and see what books they have and everything.

Jasper: Yeah, it’s terrific, libraries are great too, that’s the thing. I love my local library and the librarians and everything. But one does see that it looks like days could be numbered. Who knows how the future is going to turn out?

Elizabeth: Yeah, my mom’s a librarian and they’re trying to decide whether they are even going to upgrade their school, do they want to try to outmode themselves faster?

Jasper: Yeah, I know it’s a hard one. And budgets are tight and libraries have been giving over more and more space to computer terminals for the last ten, fifteen years, and will probably continue to do so. But, I mean, how they evolve, and stay necessary and useful within the next twenty or thirty years is vital. But I think, certainly, that they will have to change in some form if they are to survive.

Elizabeth: Did you conceive of leapbacks[2] as a way to not only keep the people in line but also to make it so your book is not outdated by true future technology? As you said with Bladerunner it depicts the future so well but didn't prefigure cell phones.

Jasper: Yeah, it was. I’m very much of the opinion that the way we run our lives at the moment is based on sort of habit. And really the way that we think, and the way we discuss things, and the way that we look forward to things is very much a sort of fashion, the clothes we wear. And I thought, the way of thinking about things could change dramatically as well in 700 years, and these days we are always looking forward to new technology, you know, we have an expectation of new technology. In Eddie’s world they have an expectation of loosing technology. And how they deal with this is by trying to loophole a way of keeping the technology or taking the technology so you can use it within the parameters of the leapback compliance certificate. So in many ways, the way that they react to technology, is as innovative as the way that we do, and it was just really taking this idea of this endless increase in technology that we have and saying, ok, let’s turn it on it’s head and have a decrease in technology and actually see how people deal with that instead. And it was just a little sort of little fun thing, but again, also, I think, it’s to keep people in check and to keep everyone very localized and not moving around and really trying to keep a lid on society and make it sustain.

Elizabeth: Did you ever have a bad experience with swans?

Jasper: Swans? No, but it’s very funny though because there is always this thing with mothers, I don’t know what it’s like in the states, but here, it’s always “don’t go near a swan, it will break your arm” and I’ve never, ever, heard of anyone having a swan that broke my arm or anyone else’s. I was even on a tour in America, and during the tour I used to say, “Oh, can I just ask a question here, is there anyone here who has either been attacked by a swan or knows anyone who was attacked by a swan?” And of course no one, absolutely not at all. But it is one of those childhood fears that you have, and I thought I’ll use this because we have, in my book, basically four fears which are being stoked up to keep everyone in check. Swans, you know, big danger, and then there’s the night, which is also very frightening if you’re a child, there’s lightning[3], you know, which can come and get you, and that’s very dangerous too, and then there’s the Mildew[4] of course, always hanging around, disease, ready to get you, and the Riffraff, the unknown, sort of lower classes, who clearly don’t know how to brush their hair properly. So, it’s all this sort of manufactured ill, manufactured fears, in which everyone can sort of talk about and say, “oh yes, it’s terrible” without actually really coming into contact with them or understanding exactly what it is. And it’s just a form of social control I think.

Elizabeth: I was actually once attacked by a goose.

Jasper: Oh really! Well, geese, yeah, yeah, I think I’ve been attacked by a goose, yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah, my friends don’t let me live it down, I was feeding it and it got violent[5]

Jasper: Yeah, they do that, they’ve got a bad temper geese.

Elizabeth: With reference to Monopoly, with Laden Parke Laine[6], and the only map left in existence after the "Something That Happened" being a RISK game board, how have board games, in particular Parker Brothers, influenced you?

Jasper: Well, Monoploy influenced me quite a lot when I was younger, cause we used to play a lot. I had two older brothers, and they used to play Monopoly, and I used to come along to make up the numbers and to have someone for them to beat. So I remember beating my brother at Monopoly once, and of course it was one of those wonderful moments in one’s childhood, where suddenly everything’s right with the world and it was wonderful[7]. Course he was a very bad looser, so he took it very very badly and I was starting to win very slowly at first, but then I got, more and more and more and more, until there was this point when he realized that he would never be able to claw back the money I’d earned off of him. And in the end, he just sort of threw the board in the air and scattered all the pieces everywhere and stormed out of the room. But it was a very good moment for me I must say, and it was the same with RISK actually. Beating him at RISK was quite good as well. But, yeah, board games, great fun, cause they’re very family orientated you see, and we used to not watch too much tv and play board games and play cards and stuff. I have great fondness for board games. Scrabble, we play a huge amount of Scrabble in my family. So, you know, we like it.

Elizabeth: Yeah, Scrabble was never a favorite, I’m not very good at spelling[8].

Jasper: Yeah no? Oh, ok.

Elizabeth: Thursday Next is very obviously a kind of parallel world to ours, but is Shades of Grey maybe a possible future?

Jasper:Yes, I think that was very much the case, I was really trying to get away from the Thursday world as much as possible so I didn’t want it to be a parallel world. I thought, let’s actually create one that was maybe seven or eight hundred years in the future, or a possible a future. So yes, I was really trying to distance myself from Thursday and everything.

Elizabeth: When writing Eddie, did you try to visualize the world as he'd see it with only shades of red?

Jasper: Yeah, there’s a sequence where he’s looking out of the window and he’s looking at the red flowers cause he’s bored of staring at the grey, cause it just becomes a grey mass as it moves past, and he’s looking for these little tiny little flecks of red, and then I think I describe how he moves through the summer on a sort of seasonal bloom and you take the early bloomers in the beginning of the season, and you’d watch them, and then slowly you’d go through the poppies and the sorrels and the pink campions, until season end, when you didn’t really get much at all. So every now and again I’d think how does Eddie see this, but it’s a hard one to visualize I have to say. But it’s much easier when you get a photograph and then actually desaturate all the colors apart from red and then you get a very clear idea. It also makes you realize that grass is actually yellow, which I never realized until I started mucking around with it. Grass is not really green at all, it’s mostly yellow.

Elizabeth: At least the yellows[9] will be happy then.

Jasper: Yeah, absolutely. They will, they certainly will.

Elizabeth: While several of the more menacing inhabitants are more conventional, with, evil plants, killer swans, and the lightning, I think the most sinister thing is Perpetulite Roads[10]. What made you decide to take something so mundane and make it so menacing?

Jasper: Well, I think that’s the fun of drama, and that’s always the chance of good drama, when you take something very very mundane, and then you make that frightening, or you make it a point of reference. And I just like Perpetulite, I think it’s brilliant. And I was sort of sitting down about six months before the book was finished and I was trying to think up future technologies, and that’s a hard one, cause you really have to think of things which are really not thought about at all, and your self cleaning windows, you know, that’s fine, someone could figure that out, I’m sure they have already, but I thought a building material that was made of a sort of organic plastoid, that actually just sucked all the nutrients out of the surrounding soil that it needs to maintain itself. And I thought this would be a fantastic building material. And really it would start as like a little brickette, wouldn’t it, and you’d just sort of add some water to it and it would start to grow. But the notion that roads are still dangerous, even when there’s no cars or people, I think also has a little sort of satirical edge to it, that you can be killed on the road by the road itself. Not just by a car or driving too fast or a drunken driver or anything else, the road itself will actually kill you. But it’s just a nice, sort of, slightly horrible notion, being eaten alive by something that really has no personality at all, it just wants to be a road.

Elizabeth: Plus, it would just be so useful, even if it was dangerous. I mean, cause we had 18” of snow here last week.

Jasper: Yeah, there you are, you should have some Perpetulite! Cause, you see, Perpetulaite actually generates heat. You can set how warm you want it and there’s never any ice on the road. When people still lived in Eddie’s world and had cars[11], or what might have passed for a car, Perpetulite would have been fantastically useful, never an icy road, the white lines would have illuminated themselves, and it would also have transmitted the power to your car. So it would have been fantastic and perfectly smooth, perfectly flat, no road works, nothing, it would have been great.

Elizabeth: Probably cut down on deer running across your path too, cause it would just eat them.

Jasper: Perpetulite, in it’s proper state would actually sense a deer or something that was actually on the road and then it would put white warning signs up ahead to drivers. Or it could even slow your car down ahead of time. Perpetulite would be the most brilliant of road surfaces ever. There would be hardly any accidents at all. But I love the sort of unintended consequences of wonderful technology and the fact that it’s still there and you can’t get ride of it and it’s seven hundred years later and now it’s starting to eat the inhabitants cause it’s getting hungry. I think it’s wonderful how humans leave their technology around and it starts doing nasty things in a hundred years time, like all those nuclear reactors which have been dumped in the Baring Sea and all that sort of stuff. It’s wonderful technology, but, years from now it’s just going to cause trouble. So I think it’s a bit of that.

Elizabeth: Is this going to be a set trilogy? Or are you thinking of going beyond the three books?

Jasper: Um, I don’t know. I mean it will be interesting to see how we go with number two. I mean, certainly there’s a good number two in it, whether I can stretch that to three or four our more, I’m not sure. The world is still quite large and unexplored, we’ve only really seen two inhabited villages[12] and two uninhabited villages[13], and we haven’t really seen what happened at High Saffron, and we know there’s a huge library[14] at High Saffron, which will have, one presumes, a lot of answers. So there’s an awful lot to be explored and there’s an awful lot of unexplained stuff and a lot for Eddie and Jane to do, even if they can do it in their own lifetime. So yes, but it really depends on how it’s received, and how number two looks and what else I’m writing at the time.

Elizabeth: Well, I hope its received well cause I really enjoyed it a lot.

Jasper: Oh, good.

Elizabeth: Have you actually started working on the next one or…

Jasper: No, I’m working on Thursday Next six[15] at the moment.

Jasper: Well a year’s time.

Elizabeth: Well thank you so much for this interview, I don’t want to take any more of your time.

Jasper: Oh, no, that’s quite alright.

Elizabeth: I’m actually going to be coming to your Skokie event[16].

Jasper:Oh good.

Elizabeth: And have you ever been to the Midwest in winter?

Jasper: Midwest in winter? No, I don’t… think I, hang on, Midwest in winter, well, no, what do you call the Midwest? Minneapolis isn’t the Midwest is it?

Elizabeth: Technically it is I think.

Jasper: Oh, ok, then I have. With, all your like heaps of snow and stuff. I think the first three books I did I was on a winter tour.

Elizabeth: Yeah, we get lots of snow. We’re getting more than what was expected[17].

Jasper: Yeah, I know, I love it. And it’s wonderful, cause we don’t have snow in the UK like that.

Elizabeth: Yeah, it was quite shocking to have last week where all of a sudden we had, you know, two feet of snow and no power.

Jasper: Oh, well ok, no, that snow’s not so much fun.

Elizabeth: Thank you so much and I’ll see you in January.

Jasper: Ok, brilliant.


Jasper: Right, thanks, bye.

Well, there you have it! I'm obviously indebted to Jasper for doing the interview, but also thanks go out to Sonya Cheuse at Viking for sending me the book and offering me the chance of an interview. Really big thanks go out to Meredith Burks who set up the interview and was there to answer any questions I had in advance. And a final shout out to whichwaydidshego, a Fforde friend, who had the wonderful idea of footnotes, to aid the reader and also to add that little bit of Nextian logic to the interview. I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope to see some of you in Skokie in a week!

[1] In Eddie’s world books are no longer around, hence the lure of High Saffron, because of the rumors of a grand library, despite the whole, no one’s ever come back...

[2] Leapbacks are edicts from the Colortocracy where every year there is a list of technologies that are removed. Books, trains, phones, televisions, etc, have all been banned. The only way to keep technology is to find a loophole. For example, they outlawed trains, not a train. So, since the singular is different from the plural, Chromotacia has A Train.
[3] Ball lightning that seems to have uncanny homing abilities.
[4] The only real health risk in Eddie’s world, once you get it you’re a goner, only hours left culminating in a violent death.
[5] This happened over 13 years ago and still they can’t let it go!
[6] Park Lane being Boardwalk to us Americans, so it’s to “Land On Boardwalk.”
[7] I could tell in his voice what a happy memory defeating his brother was. Sibling rivalry, never out of fashion or out of mind!
[8] You have spell-check to thank for the legibility of this blog! Ironically I can easily see spelling errors…
[9] The more pugnacious of the colors, the yellows are authoritarian asses, especially in East Carmine.
[10] An Organoplastoid self-maintaining building compound, used mostly for roads before the “Something that Happened”, and now, although barely used, is still there. Intelligent and with a powerful memory, Perpetulite draws organic nutrients from the air and soil to maintain its rigid agenda, even if that nutrient source happens to be you.
[11] Cars were eliminated in previous leapback years, so most towns have one or two cars for emergencies.
[12] Vermillion, home of the last rabbit, and East Carmine, home of the Chair census.
[13] Rusty Hill, where everyone died of the Mildew, and High Saffron, where no one has ever returned from.
[14] See 1.
[15] One of Our Thursday’s is Missing, "...Continuing the story from where "First Among Sequels" left off, Jurisfiction has serious problems: With a Serial Killer on the loose, Speedy Muffler declaring all-out Genre war and aggressive book-pulpers threatening to turn entire libraries into MDF self-assembly furniture, only ace book-jumper Thursday Next can save the day. But where is she? Last seen investigating the theoretical Dark Reading Matter, the place - where it is conjectured - erased and forgotten books end up, Thursday is nowhere to be found. With time running out, Jurisfiction decides that you need a Thursday to find a Thursday, so they persuade Thursday5, comfortably getting to grips with the hastily rewritten TN series, to look for the real Thursday in the one region she fears more than anything else - A place of chaos, unpredictability and unresolved plot lines: The Real World...."
[16] I know I’m the real reason you’d be going to the event right? No… ok… but email me if you are thinking of going because I’d love to see you there!
[17] And note, this was BEFORE the really bad blizzard of last week!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jasper Fforde Interview Part 1

At the end of November I was contacted by the publicity manager at Viking about my request for a copy of the new Jasper Fforde book, Shades of Grey. Needless to say, what has transpired since has not only been unprecedentedly awesome, making Viking my new bff, but is also how this post came into being. You see… they offered me an interview! How cool is that!?! Not only did they send me this book, which was amazingly awesome and original and funny (my review), but then they asked if I’d like to talk to the man whose brain is capable of writing such prose. Of course I jumped at the chance… well, danced more like… even if this was something that had me nervous as to how horrid I think my voice sounds to what if this brilliant person thinks I’m a dolt, I had to do it. There wasn’t any ifs, ands, or buts, this was for me. So I spent the days leading up to the early morning hours of December the 18th (Wales is six hours ahead) swotting up on my Fforde knowledge and trying to craft some interesting questions… did you know there are over 500 questions that he has cataloged on his site that he’s been asked?!? That was a lot of cramming I must say. What follows is, I hope, a funny and interesting interview that sheds light onto this creative author and his wonderful new book, Shades of Grey. (To help those who are less freakishly color knowledgeable, the footnoterphone has agreed to make an appearance, and I also promise there will be no undedicated dialogue traps).

Man who turns out to be Jasper: It is, yes, that’s me.

Nervous interviewer, who will be referred to as Elizabeth from now on: Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I’m calling from Strange & Random Happenstance, we have an interview (internal dialogue, god I hate my own voice.)

Elizabeth: Yeah, I was kind of watching the clock here.

Jasper: Little laugh

Elizabeth: Um, well can I get right to it?

Jasper: Yeah, absolutely.

Elizabeth:Ok, I just loved your new book.

Jasper: Oh, thank you.

Elizabeth: It was really just so fascinating, I’m a graphic designer by trade so I really related to a lot of the stuff in it.

Jasper: Ok, oh good.

Elizabeth: My first question is was Shades of Grey written with artists and graphic designers in mind?

Jasper: It’s interesting that you should say that actually, just this moment I downloaded an animated sort of commercial[1] that Hodder[2] have done for me here in the UK and of course graphic designers are suddenly going, oh great, we’ve got colors, we’ve got things changing colors, we’ve got some things in colors and some things not in colors and feed pipes that lead to colors and you can follow the color along a feed pipe and then it makes a flower green or blue or whatever. I’ve just received it and we’ve been looking at it and we both love it and it does seems a bit as though it is a gift to graphic designers doesn’t it?

Elizabeth: I’ve told a few people just of the RGB to CMYK[3] update and they just love that joke.

Jasper: Yeah, well I thought all you people who actually know about color, color models, might actually appreciate that kind of stuff. Cause most people don’t you see.

Elizabeth: I just thought it was just great. How much research did you go into in color theory for this book, seeing as you know many concepts are familiar to people who've studied color, like Munsell[4] and the Ishihara[5] being the color blindness test?

Jasper: I did enough to make me appear as though I probably knew more than I did. Color is a really tricky thing to get your head round. And even the notion that the color you see on your tv is completely separate to the color that is printed out by your printer[6]. And when I was first researching color I suddenly realized the immense complexity of a program that would allow you to view what you view on your screen to actually come out in a printer roughly the same color. And people take that sort of stuff for granted and I suddenly realized, oh my goodness, this is actually monstrously complicated. And even if you talk about subtractive or additive[7] it’s a sort of major deal. But I’m interested about everything really, so as soon as I have to research a new field I always sort of throw myself into it a bit and think, well ok, there’s got to be real experts out there so lets just chuck in a few little gags, you know, that they’ll pick up and enjoy.

Elizabeth: Yeah for my digital photography class that I took we had a seven-hour lecture on just the basics of monitor to printer.

Jasper: Yeah.

Elizabeth: I mean that doesn’t even scratch the surface at all

Jasper: Yeah, I know, it’s all completely different. And for awhile I’m sure everybody in the class is starring there a bit sort of confused and then after awhile you suddenly start realizing and there’d be this nodding of the heads as you suddenly click as to just how bizarre color is.

Elizabeth: Especially when you think of the fact that color is really a perception of the mind, that paints and dyes are just what is there for the brain to interpret as color.

Jasper: Hmm, oh yeah, color has no color. There is no color in real life. Color is entirely something that we’ve made up.

Elizabeth: It’s just brain functions that create it, it’s just unbelievable.

Jasper: Yeah, color is a function of the brain and the brain alone, and that’s what I think one of my stopping off points, or the jumping off points rather for the whole book. It was that notion when someone told me years ago what color is, what red actually means, and it’s merely a sensation. And the fact that we’d probably never ever be able to even find out what red actually is. It is actually completely in the brain. Color is a wonderful sort of thought really, that it’s there and it’s real and it’s tangible and yes of course it’s red and there it is but, no, it’s not, it’s just in your head.

Elizabeth: One of my friends is colorblind and he’s the best painter I’ve ever seen, colorwise, and he’s just doing it how he’s been taught how to paint, taught what the colors are.

Jasper: I had to speak to people who had color blindness as well to see their perceptions of color and everything. It was fascinating I must say.

Elizabeth: The next question I have is, your books are very graphically branded with National Color[8], The Cheese Enforcement Agency[9] and Goliath[10] and others all having logos giving them a more real presence. When did you decide to do this?

Jasper: I think it was quite early on. The first website we wrote was and that was really to give a sort of visual feel to the book, and I think what I was trying to do was to spread out from the edges of the book and say, no we can actually give it an edge of reality by actually creating this sort of slightly visual world with the logos and all that sort of nonsense. I thought it was fun, actually, at the time, and that’s really the reason I did it. But we do live in a very visual, iconic, logo driven world. I think it does give people a sort of routing in reality to the series. Also, I usually put satire in my books, for two reasons, first of all it’s quite fun, and it’s amusing, but secondly it’s because it makes the books very recognizable as something that happens in the real world. It seems very familiar and I think it’s the same when you create logos for companies in my books, it just makes them seem that much more sort of real and familiar. But I think really it’s just a way of expanding beyond the cover of the book to try and make it more real.

Elizabeth: I just think it’s great, even the letters I got from Viking here in the US, they had the little National Color Logo up in the corner, it was just great.

Jasper: Oh good. What I did is, I had that logo made up about a year ago, the little splashy paint logo which I love, and I actually I had it embroidered on the back of a bomber jacket, I’m going to put that up on the website quite soon. But quite early on I sent it to Hodder and Viking and I said this is the logo that’s going to be used in the book. I’m going to use this in merchandising and on the website and everything, so wherever you can use it, like pop it in as well, and then it just makes everything real. Cause what happens often is that the designers for the publishers have a very different idea as to how things look than I do. And I thought, well if I can get Viking and Hodder and me all together with at least some aspects of it, then we can be this sort of united front and don’t give such a disjointed view of the visual impact of the world. So quite early on I had that logo designed and I said to them, right, the type script we’re going to use is Berlin Sans, which I really really like, and could you do this, this, this and this. And, you know, they don’t do it all, but every now and again it sneaks in. I do just think that it makes it just that much more real and interesting, and, I don’t know, I just like it.

Elizabeth: Well it creates a nice continuity with the font choice and the logo choice. My next question is, if each village has a Vermeer[11], there must not be many villages within this society, with only about 31 paintings attributed to him?

Jasper: Yeah, does it say, I don’t think everyone has a Vermeer[12].

Elizabeth: It said like almost every town had a Vermeer.

Jasper: Oh right, or maybe it’s meant to refer to a painting.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I mean, it makes sense it would be a painting.

Jasper:Yeah, I think that might have been a syntax error, on my behalf[13]. I think what I meant was that everybody had at least one half decent painting. There wouldn’t be enough Vermeers to go around would there?

Elizabeth: No, I was thinking that would make a very small post apocalyptic society.

Jasper: It would. But they might not know it though would they? There’s so little movement between villages.

Elizabeth: Yeah, you get a few names, probably, what ten names for cities, so you’re not sure exactly how big.

Jasper: So we don’t really know how many people there are.

Elizabeth: The color system is like a distinct Caste System[14], from purple leaders to blue teachers, what color do you think you would be in this society?

Jasper: Oh, a writer/entertainer I think came out as orange. I don’t know whether it’s in the final book[15], but I think on the train, there’s a couple of oranges who are sort of traveling players, who do training plays, a bit like training films. And I think they’re oranges and they’re in the wrong place in the carriage and everyone gets very upset about it cause it upsets the sort of natural order and everyone is sort of flustering. So I think I’d definitely be in the orange category, which everyone would kind of ignore, because they’re certainly not going to be purple and they’re kinda sort of half yellow, but not, and they’re sort of red and at the bottom. And they come out quite well actually, because they’re sort of like the greens, they’re half and half, they consist of lower colors, even though they’re sort of higher than the red. So I think I’d probably I’d end up being an orange.

Elizabeth: What do you think would happen if complimentary[16]colors bred? Would it be more of a dilution to grey or perhaps could they view even more of the color spectrum and thus pose a threat to the Colortocracy[17]?

Jasper: Well it certainly sounds like there’s something going on. I’m not quite sure exactly what. But it’s been enshrined in rule and I think there’s a reason for most rules, so I think we might assume that something threatening could come from that union.

Elizabeth: So Jane and Eddie would be even more of a threat then?

Jasper: Yes, could be, but the interesting thing is, if you do start mixing complimentaries, you get a very strange color. You don’t really get a color at all, I mean what is brown but the brain saying, “nope, don’t know, sorry, can’t figure it out.” So, I don’t know quite what’s going to happen if that does come to pass, but it seems such a taboo, a terrible thing, that I don’t think anyone would try it.

Now ends the color centric part of our talk, appropriate for a book so wonderful coated in color. Stop by tomorrow when libraries and killer swans are topics of the day!

[2] Jasper’s British publishers.
[3] RGB is the Red, Green, Blue additive color model primarily used for televisions and video screens. CMYK is the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black subtractive color model primarily used in the printing process. They are the crux of what graphic designers do on a daily basis.
[4] Albert H. Munsell, in the early 1900s created a 3-D model of a color space, separating color into hue, value (lightness) and chroma (color purity), or as used in the book, hue, saturation, brightness (HSB). Munsell and his color space are still used and taught to this day.
[5] A test for red/green color blindness, named after Doctor Ishihara, who designed it in 1917.
[6] RGB vs. CMYK
[7] Subtractive is mixing of paints and dyes to create colors utilizing CMYK. In Subtractive mixing, all colors together “in essence” are black, in reality it’s an icky brown. Additive is mixing colors of light utilizing RGB. In Additive mixing, all colors together are white.
[8] National Color is the body who look after the collection of scrap color and the manufacture of universally visible colors in Shades of Grey.
[9] Division of SpecOps (SpecOps-31) formed as a result of the growing illegal Cheese Smuggling Industry that arose as a result of the "Cheese levy".
[10] Rebuilt England after the War, but not without their own agenda.

[11] Johannes Vermeer, famous painter of The Girl with the Pearl Earring and others. So few pieces remain that if one were ever found it’s worth would be astronomical.
[12] I know I read this somewhere not in the book, because I wouldn’t make it up… truthfully…
[13] Not his error, but an error in a press release… I swear I read it somewhere… if only I could find it again then I’d not feel as if my mind is slipping away.
[14] Fundamental scale of basic colors, with red as the lowest on the color spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
[15] It is.
[16] Colors opposite on a color wheel, red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow are all complimentary colors.
[17] The "benevolent" government in Eddie's world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review - Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde
Published by: Viking
Book Provided by Viking
Publication Date: December 29th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 390 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Edward Russett lives in a very organized and hierarchical society. What color you can see is everything, creating color castes, from the regal purples to the proletarian greys. Eddie is a red living in a green world. Eddie has upset the balance of good behavior and polity by playing a prank on a purple, Bertie Magenta, son of Jade-under-Lime's purple prefect. But he also has dangerous notions on how to improve queuing. To atone for his error and gain some humility he is being sent to the fringes of polite society to conduct a pointless chair census. His father, a Swatchman, who is, for all intents and purposes, a doctor, is accompanying him to East Carmine, to fill in for their recently deceased Swatchman, Robin Ochre. Little does Eddie realize what is about to happen to him could change everything. At a stop over at Vermillion on the way to East Carmine, Eddie fails to see the last rabbit, but saves a grey illegally wrongspotting as a purple and is accosted by a girl with a very retrousse nose who is unaccountably rude and in danger of being sent to reboot to learn some manners. Eddie can't help being intrigued. On the train ride to their final destination Eddie is bullied around by a green and then befriends a yellow, Travis Canary, on the run from reboot and offering hits of lime, the best euphoric color. But he has not had his last run in with nasty types, the yellow working the train station, Bunty McMustard, is just the first in a nasty streak of yellow that runs through the red streets of East Carmine.

Nothing interesting happens in East Carmine, so a new Swatchman and his son sure cause a lot of excitement. From Eddie's new best friend, the shyster Tommo, trying to place him in the "reds" marriage market, to the prefects demanding respect and Eddie's return ticket to Jade-under-Lime, to a green Lincoln swatch illegal drugs market, to suspicions of the old Swatchman being murdered, to the mysterious naked man who lives in his house that no one can openly admit to seeing, to the new surly maid, who happens to be Jane, the girl with the retrousse nose, his arrival has caused an avalanche of excitement to this small border town. But will Eddie, with his unwelcome queuing suggestions, be able to stay out of trouble? Can he avoid the everyday dangers of lightning, man-eating Yatveo plants and swans, while staying on the right side of Tommo and the yellow prefects son Courtland Gamboge? Plus what if he decides to abandon his half promise to the bitchy princess Constance Oxblood back home and make a go of it with Jane? That's if she doesn't kill him first...

But fate seems to have a plan... and it hinges on Eddie's insatiable and unsuitable curiosity. Eddie won't let go of the wrongspotting grey from Vermillion. As he starts to investigate, his life becomes more and more a target for danger. From Yatveos to Courtland to Jane, he is not safe. But on an expedition to Rusty Hill, the town abandoned due to the Mildew outbreak that killed the entire populace, Eddie starts to learn the world is not as it seems. Behind the veneer of order and manners, there may be a darker agenda and secrets of the past, before "The Something That Happened", that the Colortocracy doesn't what the people to know about. And the appearance of a National Color representative, Matthew Gloss, might be more than just as an examiner for the Ishihara that the 21 year olds will be taking for their final color placements, Eddie among them. But after a fateful game of Hockyball, Eddie is branded a liar and agrees to head an expedition to High Saffron... a place where no one has ever returned from. But even if Eddie returns, his future seems bleak, and the toppling of a corrupt government, nigh on impossible, unless he has Jane by his side.

The first book in a new series from Jasper Fforde, the author of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime Series, is sure to be another hit. From the man who created a world where characters in books police their own plots, we are treated to another inventive story, this time centering on color. If you strip away all the color theory and color related aspects, you are left with a very basic, but solid, post apocalyptic, post something that happened world, akin to the best dystopian novels, the likes of Orwell's 1984. An evil, unseen government is trying to keep their people in line by separation, isolation, ignorance and strict rules enforced by fear, even if the rules are more geared toward maintaining politeness than anything else. Enter plucky and likable Eddie, who has notions above his station and falls for a girl who hates his guts all the while butting heads with the local authorities and asking a few too many questions. While I'd read and like a book like that, it's all the levels Fforde places on top of this simple structure that make this book memorable and one of the best books I've read this past year. Of course, being in the arts, I could have a bias for color theory based jokes, but even with just a simple grasp of color gleaned from your box of Crayola's as a kid, will make this book that much more multilayered and enjoyable.

The color jokes run the gamut from the dictator's, I mean leader's, name being Munsell, the creator of the first workable and adapted color theory with the naming of hue, value and chroma, to the test for their color placement, the Ishihara, being the test for color blindness in our world. But it's not just these, or the jokes of color pipes being upgraded from RGB to CMYK, sure to send any graphic designer into fits of hysterical laughter, but the way Fforde seamlessly integrates it into the plot and has color as the lynch pin of this society. Plus just the thought of how color has become so dominate a force is intriguing. How humans have somehow evolved so that they can only see specific color frequencies and have lost the ability to have their pupils dilate is something I hope will be answered in the next book in this series. I wonder if something happened to human's brains so that color, which is a function of our brains and technically doesn't exist without the brain interpreting the data objects send, can't be properly processed. It's an interesting dilemma and I really look forward to finding out what Fforde's explanation for this phenomenon is.

But, as with any post apocalyptic society or even parallel society, it's the mystery of how our world became this world. Trying to work out exactly how things evolved, and not just the physical changes, but other more significant ones. Like how did swans become large and such a danger? Why is there such a fear of lightning? Who knew rhododendrons would be such a threat? Also the little jokes where we know what things were, but that they have morphed into something totally different, like the titles of the mandatory musical theater adaptations being slightly off kilter... "Red Side Story" anyone? Or how they assume the RISK board game is not only a map of how the earth was, but of the color distribution of the inhabitants. Then of course you encounter the deeper mysteries of the plot that keep you reading late into the night. What really happened to Robin Ochre? What does reboot really entail? Because if someone told me they were sending me on the night train to Emerald City, I know I'd be nervous. Also the discovery of what is really going on with Mildew and the still looming question of what about the spoons makes me content but at the same time desperately wanting the next volume. I can not wait for the next installment, and if it lives up to this first book, it will be well worth the wait... even if I'd prefer not to wait.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday Tomorrow and a Fforde Week in Store!

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde
Published by: Viking Adult
Publication Date: December 29th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the bestselling author of Thursday Next—a brilliant new novel about a world where social order and destiny are dictated by the colors you can see .

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey."

This book was quite literally awesome! One of the top books I've read this year, so be sure to check it out, you will not regret it. Don't believe me just saying it's awesome? Well... my review will be up tomorrow and then there's a little surprise to hopefully sway you if my words can't. Because not only does Jasper Fforde, renowned for his Thursday Next books, have a great book coming out launching a new series, but he'll be stopping by my blog! Or more precisely, his words will be (if my words can't sway, surely the author's can), seeing as I chatted on the phone with him the other day to get to the heart of color and the world he has created... or at least that's what I hope I did... there's a funny bit about a goose attack and a game of Monopoly if you stop by later in the week. Also he'll be touring to promote the book, and us Americans have to get out and show him a) how much we love him and the book and b) how cool is it we got the book released before the UK! He's also braving the Midwest for you, so go buy the book and listen to a great talk! I'll be at his talk in Skokie, so come along and say hi to me at least! Plus, I'm contemplating a little giveaway to mark the occasion... also, seeing as I just realized, this is my 200th post!

Author tour:
Monday, January 4th - BARNES & NOBLE, Lincoln Centre, NY - 7.30pm

Tuesday, January 5th - PARTNERS & CRIME, Greenwich Ave, NY - 7pm

Wednesday, January 6th - BORDERS, Rochester Hills, MI - 7pm

Thursday, January 7th - BARNES & NOBLE, Skokie, Chicago, IL - 7.30pm

Friday, January 8th - THIRD PLACE BOOKS, Lake Forest Park, WA - 6.30pm

Saturday, January 9th - M IS FOR MYSTERY, San Mateo, CA - 2pm

Sunday, January 10th - CAPITOLA BOOK CAFE, Capitola, CA - 5.30pm

Monday, January 11th - VROMAN'S BOOKSTORE, @All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA - TBA

Tuesday, January 12th - BORDERS BOOKS & MUSIC, Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA - 7pm

Wednesday, January 13th - BOOKWORKS, Albuquerque, NM - TBA

Thursday, January 14th - BOOKS & BOOKS, Coral Gables, FL - 8pm

Friday, January 15th - BARNES & NOBLE, Buckhead Atlanta, GA - 7.30pm

And then he flees our shores for even more PR overseas!

The Bronte Sisters: Three Novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey by Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte
Published by: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: December 29th, 2009
Format: Paperback, 672 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The most cherished novel from each of England's talented sisters, in one gorgeously packaged volume

The Brontë family was a literary phenomenon unequalled before or since. Both Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights have won lofty places in the pantheon and stirred the romantic sensibilities of generations of readers. For the first time ever, Penguin Classics unites these two enduring favorites with the lesser known but no less powerful work by their youngest sister, Anne. Drawn from Anne's own experiences as a governess, Agnes Grey offers a compelling view of Victorian chauvinism and materialism. Its inclusion makes The Brontë Sisters a must-have volume for anyone fascinated by this singularly talented family."

I know you all probably have tones of editions of the Brontes... and I'm not such a fan of omnibus editions, because they do tend to get unweildy... but look at that goregous cover! Too pretty... must resist... hopeless... it's like my Kryptonite!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pink Carnation Spotlight: James Purefoy (Lord Vaughn)

Now to that most surly of men... is he good... is he bad... do we really care? Bring on Lord Vaughn!

Name: James Purefoy

Dream Character Casting for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: Sebastian, Lord Vaughn

First Impression: Mansfield Park... why did they have to kill him!?! WHY! Just... oh, I can't get started on how I hate this film again... one of the reasons? James Purefoy dies!

Why they'd be the perfect actor for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: Could there be another actor out there who can do haughty humor while looking drop dead sexy? Plus did you see how great he looks in Regency clothes?

Lasting Impression: A Knight's Tale, so cute as the King... he was the King right? Prince? Whatever, he was cool while wearing hot furs, the plot, eh, not so important.

What else you've seen them in: Ah... Rome anyone? Also... you really see all of him if you get my drift. From films to television, he's willing to star in and easily adapts from Bronte to Austen, from Cambridge to Comics... He's not one of those stars, who once they hit the big screen, won't go back to the small. Personally I'll watch him in anything, from Solomon Kane to The Philanthropist... of course that was sadly canceled.

Can't believe it's them: Bedrooms and Hallways... just watch it and see. Plus a whole new way that Margaret Thatcher has been debased in the popular media, and rightfully so.

Wish they hadn't: Left V for Vendetta, I love this movie, but his voice and body over Hugo Weavings, yes please, any day! But there's more, I have many Purefoy regrets... WHY did he do that awful Mansfield Park and WHY did he do Maybe Baby!?!? But then again, an actor so prolific, is bound to do crap every once in awhile... like that atrocious Vanity Fair... did they understand Becky is supposed to be unlikable!?!

Bio: James is one of those actors who, after the first time you see them, you know you have to see more. You in fact get very angry when watching A Dance to the Music of Time, because for some reason the final episode recast him, and you're not having any of that, thank you! Sorry, personal grievance there... I have some issues to deal with.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Doctor Who - The End of Time Part 1

You'd think that Russell T. Davies would really have tried to write the best possible ending for David Tennant... well, you'd think that... but if part one is anything to go by, I'm not sure that he can pull it all together. For those who watched it last night, or for those who will be watching it shortly stateside (it airs tonight), I will be very interested to see what you think. I was thoroughly unimpressed. There were moments when it was perfect, but these were fleeting and we were left with something that was just too much.

Coming up in the next paragraph, as River Song would say: "Spoilers!"

As the narrator's voice comes up, we learn that it is the last days of the human race... but The Doctor is not there, he has been delaying meeting the Ood and by the time he arrives, it might be too late, the nightmares that people can't remember are of The Master, he is returning. But Donna's grandfather, Wilf, is on Earth and he remembers that which others cannot, he is also seeing visiosn of a lady telling him what is to come. Wilf sends out a reconnaissance mission of randy geriatrics and they discover The Doctor moments after he lands and has had his first encounter with The Master. The Doctor unburdens himself to Wilf as Wilf begs to get Donna back to what she was... but that's not possible, she'll have to make due with her new fiance and just getting by. The Doctor and The Master have yet another showdown and then mysterious forces, controlled by an eccentric daughter dotting billionaire, capture The Master and all hell breaks loose due to the technology that the billionaire, Joshua Naismith, scavenged from the ruins of Torchwood. As part one reaches it's climax, as one viewer commented, was the whole episode just written for the one groan inducing joke about the "Master Race?"

This episode just had too much of Russell T. Davies trying to be the biggest and best sci-fi show there is. And you know what? Taking bites and pieces from every other show and badly integrating it into your own do not a successful hour of television make. I have several big gripes, the main one being, Russell apparently thinks Doctor Who is now Heroes. First off, Heroes had maybe one good season and is facing cancellation on a daily basis, so why'd he think it was a good idea to emulate it? The narration is a little nod, but when did The Master go all mutant x on us? The episode is more like some really lame origins comic for how The Master was reborn and developed superhuman powers... even if he wasn't really human to begin with. He can now FLY! And shoot lightning out of his hands! How Awesome... wait... I mean LAME! I love that they obviously didn't reign John Simm in at all, he's brilliantly over the top and ravenous to boot, plus the blonde hair, loving it! But his performance is what makes The Master work, not the special effects and flying and lasers, it's his terrifying screams of "Dinner Time" and his lament about the sound of drums and his interaction with David Tennant that ground this high flying baddie.

Then I have guest star gripes... mainly due to the fact that they hired some of my most hated British character actors ever. Joshua Naismith is none other than David Harewood, Friar Tuck from season three of Robin Hood, otherwise known to me as the reason Robin Hood was shuffled into a quick cancellation grave due to his overacting and overbearing attitude to all of Robin Hood's men. Superiority complex much? Plus, he's more than just a little creepy with his daughter, who can't act at all, don't believe, watch the Confidential. But more importantly, Addams, played by Sinead Keenan. Sinead is most known for being George's girlfriend, and also a doctor, on Being Human. There's something about her that I just hate. I have a nickname, it's Piggy. Yes it might be mean, but she can't act and the only hope I have for season two of Being Human is that she dies during the transformation the first time she wolfs out. Her appearance on Doctor Who was not a welcome surprise.

But what got me most of all is that this was so timely. It was of our time! Doctor Who usually strives for ambiguity and has their own heads of state or vague references to presidents and leaders elect. But not this time. It was Barack Obama this and Barack Obama that. It not only took you out of the world of Doctor Who, but it also lacked credulity. When was the last time a President did a big speech about how they're magically going to fix the economy on Christmas? As Russell said, they took a risk with this and they hoped that the recession would still be around. Personally I think you took a risk of destroying the fabric of the show. Where Torchwood could conceivably do this better than Doctor Who, they didn't throw out political names left and right when the children of the earth were at stack, so why did Davies do it now?

Overall this episode displays one thing... it's good we're getting ride of Russell T. Davies. He has a love of bringing villains back again and again, and a tendency to make "specials" bloated and unwieldy, and in the long run, boring. Though I will say this, he has surrounded himself with the talent that tried to make the best of a bad script, and occasionally they succeeded. John Simm gave some of his best as a hungry hoodie in the wasteland and the scene where David Tennant told Wilf he was going to die, I don't think David had to act those tears, it is heart wrenching. So for a few scenes it was worth it, but as to the finale... I hope Russell delivers, I really hope that this underwhelming first chapter was a way to lower our expectations in order to then blow us away... but I have a feeling it wasn't. Also on a final note... true Doctor Who fans know that the Timelords and The Doctor have never seen eye to eye and that they're kind of bureaucratic baddies, we did not need to be told this Russell, plus, when the scene ends up looking eerily similar to the galactic senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels, you better hope you didn't jump the shark like Lucas did.

Pink Carnation Spotlight: Natalie Dormer (Mary Alsworthy)

We now move to one of my most favorite books in Lauren's Pink Carnation series... The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. Notable to me for the wonderfully snarky couple of Mary and Vaughn. They are too perfect for each other and too above the rest of the rabble to notice those lesser men and women who get inveigled in the spy game.

Name: Natalie Dormer

Dream Character Casting for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: Mary Alsworthy

First Impression: As that little upstart, Anne Boleyn on The Tudors, trying to mess with Natalie from The Commitments.

Why they'd be the perfect actor for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: Just look at her! I mean, she is totally the character of Mary. Can't you see her and Vaughn snidely commenting on those around them with an arc smile?

Lasting Impression: She stared in one of the only good episodes of Marple since Geraldine McEwan was booted... I miss Geraldine, but Natalie did a great job as a psycho.

What else you've seen them in: Most known for playing Anne Boleyn in The Tudors, I think she'll now have a bit more free time, now that she's all headless. She was also on an episode of Rebus, but seeing as it was post John Hannah, I haven't seen it. I'm sorry, that was so John Hannah's show!

Can't believe it's them: Casanova... the Heath Ledger version, not the David Tennant version. Otherwise known as, I'm not surprised I missed her because this movie bored me to death and have an apparent mental block to all things dealing with this film.

Wish they hadn't: Gone blond... tough I think she might be blond and gone black for The Tudors... but still, she looks better with black hair... hence why she's perfect for Mary.

Bio: Despite detractors, I think she was awesome as Anne Boleyn, and think that we are just beginning to see what she's capable of!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Christmasy Doctor

So tomorrow's the day! Yes, it's Christmas you say! Well... yes it is, but more importantly... Doctor Who! The penultimate episode of the 10th Doctor. Ah, such a great, yet bittersweet, Christmas gift... if only I didn't have to wait till the first for part two.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donald Pickering 1933-2009

While trolling the web for Doctor Who gossip, I learned of the passing of a true great British Television star, Donald Pickering, who for me, was the first actor to magnificantly play Dolly Longstaffe. If it wasn't for him and his work on The Pallisers, I don't think there ever could have been a Richard Cant in The Way We Live Now... Here's to a great man! From Jackanory to The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Who, The House of Eliott to Victoria & Albert, not a decade has passed in the last 60 years where he wasn't seen on some of the best BBC productions ever made. He will be missed.

More Dibley for the Holidays!

Ok, so strictly speaking these don't have much to do with Christmas... BUT! They are from Vicar of Dibley Christmas episodes... so technically they fit the theme of this week, but more I'm embracing the all out humor and hilarity that is Dawn French. These two scenes, could perhaps be her funniest scenes as Geraldine... for the funniest episode, see today's first post!

The Christmas Lunch Incident

This is, without a doubt, the funniest Christmas episode of any tv show ever. I dare you to find funnier... personally I do not think it's possible. Part three contains the sprout eating competition! Merry Christmas and enjoy a Christmas feast with the Vicar of Dibley!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Guild Sells Out for Christmas

For fans of The Guild and those who turn a sceptical eye to the consumer riddled aquisition obsessed holiday Christmas has become, you might want to turn your eye to this. A wonderful parody of Christmas commercials, as well as a nod to toys of old... don't they have a He-Men, Castle Greyskull feel? Warning, these commercials aren't for kiddies! Enjoy and happy holidays!

Codex - Stop shaking me, I think I'm going to vomit!


Vork - Ando and a DeLorean... perfect!



Clara - Beer foamy!

More Guild for Christmas

For those who are fans of The Guild, or even those who are fans of the bastardization of Christmas tunes... a little cheer for you holidays, unless you're Vork...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Return to Cranford

Well, last night Cranford returned to the BBC airwaves after two years absence. There were many familiar faces, many new faces, and a few faces that were new replacing faces that were old. Yes, that's right, there's been that horror of horrors... RECASTING! Within the first five minutes of the show all hopes of it being truly wonderful were dashed by Martin Shaw not returning as Miss Matty's brother Peter. Nicholas Le Prevost, most noted for being conned out of money for a new window by Geraldine, on the Vicar of Dibley (at least to me), has flamboyantly stepped up to fill Martin Shaw's shoes. The real question is why they needed to be filled in the first place!?! If you can't get the original actor, you work around it, not recast! Anything but recast, because this breaks the reality that the show as created. Aside from that there is much of what we expect from Cranford, giddy, hyper concerned women running through streets and then death. Because nothing says Cranford like a side of a dead main character. In fact, I think they might be trying to break the record established in the first series of a main character kicking it an episode. We've already had three! They really are at the point of having to introduce characters just so they have enough people to put in jeopardy and then kill. I'm not going to spoil it by saying who it is, but one of them was obvious, seeing as the cast member concerned is a regular on another BBC drama and I'm sure they could not have been spared longer. Why couldn't they have done this with Peter? Better to kill them off then to recast any day.

But life continues on much as it always does in Cranford, it's been two years since Deborah died and Maddie's life is settled with Jem and Martha and their little daughter. But of course, time is moving, the railroad is getting closer and things change. New faces are there in the form of the Bells, a grieving family, and the Buxtons, a family returned to Cranford after many years. Mrs. Bell is a nasty overbearing bitch from hell played by Lesley Sharp, who was terrifying on the Doctor Who episode "Midnight". Mr. Buxton is a short tempered, ill humored man played by Jonathan Pryce. Apparently overbearing parents are two for the price of one in Cranford this season. There is also the concern of Septimus... who for once shows up, being even more of a shit that I thought possible, I wanted to enter my television and throttle him, with an effeminate Italian in tow. The only surmise I can make is that this man is Septimus' lover, though it's never stated, and perhaps, the real reason for his stay abroad. The only saving graces of this episode was a parrot and Miss Galindo. By removing Doctor Harrison, who's departure is not explained, other than the fact they probably can't afford the actor anymore, they removed a sort of central figure the women could flutter around. Miss Matty, who, while central in the first season, had a counterpoint with Doctor Harrison. There is no counterpoint and it seems to be flailing a bit. Of course this could all change once I rewatch, rewatching really helps to hone your opinions. Or Tim Curry's arrival next week could also change everything. Overall I would say, mild disappointment and a sense of unmet expectations, but I still hope. But I should say, that my first reaction to Cranford two years ago was about the same, I can't seem to reconcile the inconsequentially and broad humor with the desire to kill off major characters every episode, lest we forget Walter... I would almost say Cranford is bipolar. But I didn't know that going in originally and this time I was prepared... but I was still let down.

Winner of Thumb Flagging Announced!

Well, it's a week to give thanks and presents! So who was the winner of the lovely signed edition of Thumb Flagging? Drum-roll please! They'd love to go to 7-11 on the concrete diva.... so let's hear it for.... Callie!

Thank you all for entering, and even if you didn't win, I hope you pick up this great read for the holidays, or any time really! Have a wonderful week and a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pink Carnation Spotlight: Jamie Bamber (Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe)

Now to Letty's better half... or is that the other way around? Geoff has to brood about it a bit and be conflicted as to what's good for him. Maybe he'll write a poem...

Name: Jamie Bamber

Dream Character Casting for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe

First Impression: Daniel Deronda, I think... or it could have been Hornblower, I was watching both around the same time, and he's cute and little in both, one looking more like a goat with the little beard. Plus in both he's eclipsed by either Hugh or Ioan, so you don't notice him so much at first.

Why they'd be the perfect actor for the Lauren Willig Miniseries: He's so good at doing hot and tormented, just look at his portrayal of Apollo on BSG!

Lasting Impression: Battlestar Galactica made me stop referring to him as Archie, such a funny name, yet with such a tragic end... Funnily enough I remember I was pissed I had to go to Chicago in the middle of watching his final episode so I had to wait two days to find out what happened!

What else you've seen them in: From starting out as minor or supporting characters in a slew of BBC miniseries from Lady Audley's Secret to Poirot to Daniel Deronda to Hornblower, when he was cast as Lee Adama in Battlestar Galactica he acquired a major fan following. Just try to find his early pictures in a google search! You mainly find his naked Peta shoot or the towel scene from BSG... you all know the one!

Can't believe it's them: Scarlet Pimpernel! Full posterior shot, who knew it would start a trend? Plus the episode after his untimely death has a young James Callis, aka Baltar from BSG.

Wish they hadn't: Gone fat for Battlestar... ok, ok, it was makeup, but hard to shake the image. In all seriousness... Cold Case, so tacky to go from big series regular to guest star on bad Sunday night procedural in the same week, tied with Lady Audeley's Secret, which was beyond boring, but wait, he was also on Ghost Whisperer... gosh, too many to choose from. Jamie, stop doing lame cameos, unless it's a Joss Whedon show and he wants you to fight Helo.

Bio: Lets hope he keeps doing great television, currently a regular on the British version of Law & Order, he really needs another ensemble show to shine... or perhaps it's time for him to step up to leading man... I know many who would follow Captain Apollo... it has such a nice ring to it.

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