28 May 2010

The adventurer I wish I was

When I started reading about Everest a couple of years ago I became certain I had missed my calling, that I had been meant to be a mountain climber.

Last year, I read Born to Run which made me want to run ultra-marathons in the Mexican desert (sans los narcoticos).

My life is so much more sedentary than I'd ever imagined. Nevertheless, I get a lot of joy out of living vicariously through the adventures of others.

If there are mountain, valley and sea people, I find myself squarely in the latter section. Even so, I can't even conceive of imitiating Roz Savage who abandoned the rat race long ago and is currently rowing across the Pacific. Here's her inspiring story.

I follow Savage's progress on Facebook and on epictracker.com.

EpicTracker is in its beta phase and dedicated to following intrepid adventurers who want to share extraordinary journeys. Trademarked, EpicTracker is a customisable map that geo-locates adventurers in real-time.

This map below follows Canadian mountain climber Elia Saikaly who at 28,819 feet is currently in sight of the summit of Mount Everest. Maps are easily posted on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Lady Gaga - Telephone "The Dude's Version"

I never know whether I should post spoofs because they do get tiresome. I think this one distinguishes itself on account of its wholesomeness. This world gets far too raw and cynical at times. This spoof is just... sweet.

25 May 2010

Some days you eat the bawr and some days the bawr eats you

Toronto Star reports: "Mauling victim gives chilling account of bear attack
‘He was eating my meat and he was licking the blood and licking himself and just enjoying every bite of it.’"

The guy's fine by the way, and since he's a hunter my take on it is that the bear was entitled.

24 May 2010

Mark Twain autobiography published 100 years after his death

boingboing links to this article from The Independent:

The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

21 May 2010

They Shot the Sheriff: how a great screenplay about Nottingham became the mediocre, 112th Robin Hood movie

"You know that dream come true of having your script sell and get fast tracked and star Russell Crowe and be directed by Ridley Scott? 


William Martell, Robbing the Poor Writer

(Sources for the story come mainly from Robbing the Poor Writer from the blog Sex in a Sub and Vulture Exclusive: How Robin Hood Nearly Destroyed the Russell-Ridley Relationship, from NYmag.com)

Reading about the new Robin Hood, I was introduced to a supposedly whiz-kids team of writers called Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. And Reiff is said to have studied medieval history. But this is Hollywood (dreamland) reported by the press (fantasy land) and “having studied mediaeval history” at an American college could mean a Friday afternoon elective. So I imdb-ed them and these praised writers have given the world Kung Fu Panda, Sleeper Cell and M.K.3 (yeah, I had to look it up, Mortal Kombat 3) amongst other "achievements". Obviously, being a successful Hollywood writer isn’t the same as being a successful fiction writer. It’s not just about the money your films have grossed. No one expects you to bat one thousand, or five hundred, or three hundred when it comes to film (which might begin to explain why everybody and their dog wants to work in film), but it seems that to survive at all and to be working year after year is itself a proof of success.
Ironically, it is the flashier writers who seem to have undone what everyone says was a masterpiece of a script. With Brian Helgeland we’re really talking big guns here. His credits include L.A. Confidential, A Knight's Tale, and Mystic River. Then there’s also Paul Webb whose films all seem to be in development, but that includes Steven Spielberg’s film about Abraham Lincoln. And then there’s the great playwright Tom Stoppard who need not be imdb-ed. Shakespeare in Love, enough said. What is fantastic about this is not the long list of writers, that happens a lot in Hollywood, but the list of writers which Hollywood considers “top shelf”. Helgeland was hired to rewrite the script twice. The total spent on writers for this film is said to be in the neighbourhood of seven million dollars.
That need not be a staggering number when the budget of Robin Hood is estimated somewhere between 250 and 300 hundred million dollars. But this is Hollywood and as my favourite book about Tinsel Town says, “writers and actresses are the niggers of Hollywood” (Julia Phillips, You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again).
So, Robin Hood opened last week, a year late and to lukewarm reviews. The film reunites Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, who worked together on one of the great movie successes of the last decade, Gladiator and one that should be known as a commendable cinematic achievement of the last decade, Master and Commander.
But it all started with two young writers and a script — one which all major studios and producers passed on. Who wants to make the 112th Robin Hood, right? But Reiff and Voris had an interesting twist on it which I love on the face of it and would have bought (I should be a Hollywood producer!): what if this was the story of the sheriff of Nottingham, a cop who is just doing is job? “What if Robin Hood was the jerk?”, writes Claude Brodesser-Akner for New York Magazine.
Nice idea, because I find it dovetails nicely with the last memorable Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner, in which the real hero was Alan Rickman as Nottingham who walked away with the movie, those over 35 will remember. And the product of Voris and Reiff’s labour was Nottingham, a fun, by all accounts (mind you, Hollywood accounts), fantastic screenplay that sparked into a bidding war and finally sold for one million dollars (adding five hundred grand if the movie gets made). Opie got the rights and one of the biggest Hollywood stars of our time (don’t ask me why, ok, I sort of get it), Russell Crowe swiftly got on board.
And then they brought in Ridley Scott and everybody, including the critical sources used for this blog seems to think this was the cherry on the sundae and I’m, like, wait, what????
Ok, let’s back up a bit. These are the guys (Reiff, Voris) who penned Kung Fu Panda write a fun screenplay centred around the sheriff of Nottingham and you give it to Ridley Scott? Ok, how does Scott in any way equal fun? Does it rain a lot in Sherwood Forest? I know this is England but this is Ridley Scott and I’m telling you this isn’t going to be fun, and there isn’t going to be any sun. Scott restrained himself with Thelma and Louise (set in the American desert) but I wouldn’t be surprised if in Robin Hood, which is a sort of a prequel and please, Hollywood gods, bin the sequel or... what’s between a prequel and a sequel, a quel?... just can it already... anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rains in Ridley Scott’s thirteenth century Middle-East whilst Robin Hood is fighting in the crusades. 
Because Ridley Scott didn’t like Nottingham. According to Martell in his excellent blog Sex in a Sub, Scott became obsessed with archery and wanted to make a film about archery. But this is a fun script about Nottingham.
And then he hired Helgeland and it became a script about Nottingham and Robin Hood. And at some point, with one of the writers, it became about Nottingham and Robin Hood as alter egos.  But this is meant to be a fun script about Nottingham as a good guy and Robin as the bad guy.
Hold on, why not this, why not have Nottingham and Robin Hood be the same person! I kid you not.
And then Nottingham recedes and all but disappears. The film becomes Robin Hood. As if we needed it. Two-hundred and fifty million dollars later, a year too late, a friendship that suffered greatly (Crowe-Scott, like we care), and wound up with a schizophrenic script. A half dozen writers later and Robin Hood comes across as a character with multiple-personality disorder, writes Brodesser-Akner. Enter Stoppard, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, on set to rewrite as they go along and make Crowe’s “voice” more uniform.  
Aside: Crowe’s accent is the subject of derision here, as was Costner’s but that doesn’t bother me. This is Robin Hood and, sorry to sound like a broken record, but it’s meant to be fun. Of course, accent and schizophrenia are two different things.
We are told we needed this new Robin Hood because this one’s gritty. Well, even though Errol Flynn’s version was positively gay, it was good, which is all that counts. And although the world didn’t need Prince of Thieves, it was indeed, gritty. As Martell writes “Oh, they say it’s [Scott’s Robin Hood] gritty. But the Costner version was gritty for its time - remember? He wore leather instead of tights and there was more realistic violence and Sherwood Forest was muddy and... well, it was gritty.” There was mud! Actual grit!
And I want to touch on this idea that pervades film and television these days and for which Ridley Scott may be partly responsible, after all both Alien and Blade Runner influenced our culture across media. I believe sections of television and film have for a couple of decades now, been trying to attain a higher form of credibility under the guises of gloom and grit. There is no competing with Europeans in terms of psychological complexity, although The Wire is as psychologically complex and engrossing as European television is at it’s best (Fanny and Alexander and a LOT of British television) and Americans who work for the screen are right not to want to emulate a complexity which only a sliver of the American audience might be interested in. And I think we can all be happy American filmmakers are not exploring this side of the pond’s ability to reproduce the Last Tango in Paris en masse. But does this emo stuff really do the trick? All torment, all the time. I don’t plan on seeing Robin Hood, but, let me tell you for sure, Crowe’s Robin is a tormented man. I read about it. He’s tormented about the fairness for the crusades, for Christ’s sake! 
I've seen Alien and Blade Runner so many times, I shan’t ever see them again but I am grateful both exist as works of art. This “trend” isn’t Scott’s fault. The problem is to seek to apply to a form of story-telling, across each form of story telling. Torment is easy and because it is easy it should be handled with care by the best only and, most importantly, it should be used sparingly.
But no. We have wall to wall vampires now and the next phase is angels and demons, i.e. fallen “tormented” angels!!!! And vampires are easy. Half dead, they are the definition of torment, although, originally, they were just mean beasts. I’m with Tarantino who, fighting the good fight, said he made From Dusk ‘Til Dawn that he wanted to bust this Anne Rice idea that vampires have a soul with potential for good. And, like Scott, it may be true that Rice has a lot to answer for. 
The public has reacted positively to what I’ll call the emo trend because it is self-serving. I am sorrow. From Buffy, to the X-Files, to Dark City, The Matrix, all of scifi is emo now. Thank God for lights in the dark, like Galaxy Quest. I mean how much fun was that? And now it’s adventure stories like 300, Gladiator, King Arthur, and now they killed Nottingham and gave Robin Hood a morose stare. Thank you Ridley.
We can all be happy with the idea that film is a director’s medium I think, but, from the start, this means striking a fine balance. After all, the writer is the ultimate creator here. What the director does is to superimpose his creative input upon another creation. This might work better in the theatre where the playwright has input on casting and directing but this is unheard of in film. There is a merging of creation if you will. But if you’ve read a bit about film, you’ll know that, these days, the director possesses much of the power. In the old days, producers reigned — remember the story about the long line up of directors who were fired and hired to direct Gone with the Wind? Today the fear is that if a director were to be fired, no other director would touch it.  
In his blog, Martell suggests this isn’t just about ego. Actually, Martell has another interesting explanation. As a writer it is a self-serving explanation, but it is, I suspect, at least partly true.
“I think part of the 'director’s stamp' thing is that many directors have no idea what they are doing and can not use their visual style / directorial style to 'put their stamp on it' so they mess with the story (the writer’s job) [...] even with the experiments, you can tell a Hitchcock film from directing style from a handful of shots. No need to know what the story is. Same thing with Nick Roeg. Same thing with Don Siegel. Same with Orson Welles. Same with Kubrick. Same with Kurosawa. Same with Bergman - even though his stories are often very different, his directing style is his own. It’s when you have a director who doesn’t know how to do his job that he starts messing with yours.”
This makes a lot of sense to me. Some directors gleefully admit that all they do is get a bunch of people together and say “action” and although we know there is a lot more to directing than that, there is also a bit of truth to it. Being a decent director seems to be within reach, being a great director is a thing seldom seen. It’s the same with photography. It’s not so difficult to develop a photographic eye and with the digital revolution, at times  it’s become impossible to discern an amateur from a professional photographer. Having your own vision as a photographer and being able to put a stamp on it is a thing of beauty but very rare. How many such photographers per generation? A handful, I’d say.
So, if lots of rain and gloom is Ridley Scott’s stamp, why was he given a fun screenplay about a jaunty, delightful myth? And why did he accept to do it? Another very human, understandable idea, is the idea that comedy does not grant the same honours as tragedy and that Scott wants to be taken seriously. A Knight’s Tale, Galaxy Quest, such movies never make it to the Academy Awards in major categories. Rainy does. The problem with Scott making Robin Hood is that Nottingham is gone forever. That original script will never be made. It’s been paid for, it’s been transformed beyond recognition, but it’s been made. 
And was that Kung Fu Panda (oh, sorry, mediaeval history scholar) writers script all that it was cracked up to be? Hollywood is about myth-making and it’s scribblers, fictional and journalistic are both interested and vested in spinning us a tale. 
Hey, it’s a crappy movie but we still got you a good story out of it.

20 May 2010

£50,000 pensioners' playground opens in Hyde Park

Ok we need to have one of those here by the time I'm old


19 May 2010


One of the silliest quotes we've ever seen, and WTF does it mean? 

Then again, Jackie O, despite her style, never struck us as particularly intelligent.

The Last Days of Facebook

There's a real push against Zuckerberg these days. Enough is enough, it's time for an open source alternative, as Wired writes.

You probably know this already but it is useful to remember:

Facebook went back on its privacy terms and made much of your profile public by default. Then you had to go a figure out a complicated system to adjust privacy settings.

If you write words that correspond to a page, say "Donald Trump", you'll show up on the "Donald Trump" page.

Your photo, friends list, profile, pages are not private

If your friends fill out those name your five favourite beverages polls, they can collect information about you, a third-party.

Every single photo you've ever posted is owned by Facebook forever. Every application you've joined can continue gathering information about you. Not only does Facebook own your data but their terms of service say they can terminate your account if you don't keep it up-to-date, as stated in an article on The Best Article Every Day.

And even if you trust Facebook and all the application developers the "like" button makes it easy for spammers to access your info.

Diaspora is open source and upon us. Not putting to much stock into it but either way, I'll be happy to leave Facebook. Right now, Facebook is like meeting up with friends in a mobbed up cesspool with nowhere else to go.

17 May 2010

We demonstrate the ability to adversarially control a wide range of automotive functions

From New York Times via Boing Boing:
Automobiles, which will be increasingly connected to the Internet in the near future, could be vulnerable to hackers just as computers are now, two teams of computer scientists are warning in a paper to be presented next week.

The scientists say that they were able to remotely control braking and other functions, and that the car industry was running the risk of repeating the security mistakes of the PC industry.

13 May 2010

US troops in Iraq/Afghanistan homoeroticism

Supposedly straight US troops in Iraq showing what things are going to be like when "don't ask don't tell" is history. To the tune of Ke$ha's Blah blah blah

(Can I just say I'm almost a Ke$ha fan? LOVE the way she's corrupting teenage girls every where — her target audience is definitely the under sixteens. Check out Tik Tok. Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, Ke$ha!!!! )

The Lady Gaga Telephone remake is ok if way too butch

Social Not-working

Short post on Creditbloggers about sharing too much information.


12 May 2010

Busy Straight Men

Sean Hayes is playing a straight man on Broadway and a Newsweek critic (Ramin Setoodeh) is getting hell for saying gay man shouldn't play straight role. Sean Hayes is currently playing the role of a straight man in the Broadway production of Promises, Promises.

Surely the main problem here is that Hayes remains closely identified with his role in Will & Grace, the same way Christopher Walken is identified with psychopath. This may be the only reason why it's difficult to imagine Hayes doing anything else. This isn't about gay-ety. Hayes couldn't play Terminator any more than Linda Hunt could pull off a femme fatale. This is about an actor's range.

If this (openly gay) Newsweek critic's wish were to come true, the remaining ten straight theatre actors out there are going to be sure busy.

[reported by the Toronto Star]

09 May 2010

Undeath in Venice

Doctor Who recap: episode 506 "Vampires in Venice"

This is a one off since I think I have one about only one Tweep who might be interested in this. I just felt like trying my hand at this wondrous art form spawned by the internet age: the TV recap.

The episode begins in 16th century Venice with the wonderful actress Helen McCrory sitting in a regal chair, regal dress and throughout the scene, all I want to look at is the ruff on her dress. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think it is called a ruff although not your typical one. It's cut out at the front and taking a flat and fan-like shape behind the head. Elizabeth I sports one in the "The Ditchley Portrait", the one where she's stepping on a map of the British Isles. McCrory's ruff has gigantic pearls wrought in a sumptuous, intricate peacock tail motif seemingly made of gold thread and/or mesh.

Wow. Except her exceptional dress is a con (in olden days, peeps had to dress according to their rank) she's turns to be some kind of headmistress who runs a school. People refer to her simply as Signora. Huh. The headmistress' outer appearance turns out to be deceiving in another way, but I'm getting a head of myself here.

Seeking admittance into her school is the daughter (Isabella) of a boat-builder who makes the case for his seventeen year-old. A school that admits girls at seventeenth in 1580 Venice? I smell a fish already. Both characters are played by black actors. I'm all for blind casting but that seems a bit contrived having both the father and daughter be of the same race. Semi-blind casting? No biggie. Just saying.

The school, says the boat builder, offers a chance for betterment and "escape". Escape? What a peculiar choice of word. The only school I know that offers escape is Hogwarts which is all well and good but the escapism comes from wizardry and we don't think that's what the boat builder wants for his daughter. Of course we Whovians know that nothing is what is seems and this is most probably an escape from poverty right into the jowls of hell.

The daughter, however, is not an avid watcher of the Doctor Who series and full to the brim with girlish glee at the Signora's decision after a very shoddy application process. Basically, she just said ok. The father is a bit taken aback by this but doesn't resist too much when he's whisked away. The mother promptly offers Isabella to her son and although we know already these are the baddies, I really wish casting had opted for a more attractive ravisher. Good or bad, young male vampires these days are hot and sexy. Our Nosferatu days are long gone. We're used to shaggable vamps and we're not going back. We certainly want nothing to do with spotty and scrawny biters. Oh, did I forget to say they're vampires? They're vampires. Or are they?

When Isabella sees the son's fangs, she screams, a scream that fades into Rory's scream in the next scene. He's leaving a phone message for Rory. We met Rory in Amy's first appearance. He's Amy's fiancee.

"I haven't told you I love you in seven hours" Rory screams to Amy's answer machine.

(Aside on answer machines: Am I the only one who's noticed that answer machines have anachronistically persisted on screen whilst they have long disappeared here? Or maybe they still have them in the UK? I understand it's a convenient tool for writers to pass on info to the audience but this is getting to be a bit of a cheap trick).

Good info compression, we're back on Earth, in the present and Rory doesn't even know Amy's gone and still thinks they're getting married. The epi's just humming along. Rory's scream melded with Isabella's scream might prove to foreshadow what's in store for Rory. I mean, he's being set up for one hell of an awakening, isn't he? Poor Rory with his red shirt, a photo of Rory and his bride-to-be inside a heart, Amy making another one of her adorable goofy faces at the front of it.

(Aside on Amy Pond's face on the tee: It's an incredibly goofy face. She has a range of goofy faces and although one cannot say for sure, it is far too early, there's something about about Amy's goofiness that tells me we won't grow weary of it.)

This is Rory's stag do and it's a bit of a sad. There a mix of young men wearing the red t-shirt with picture in the front and the words Rory's stag on the back, and older men with the stag t-shirt, all crammed in a pub. It seems like a rather tame affair. No Vegas-style suite with hoards of strippers and prostitutes, no beer funnelling. No one appears dangerously or embarrassingly intoxicated. Different side of the pond, different customs I guess. Still, not much of a send off.

Oh wait, there's a stripper cake. Of course, the Doctor who springs out of it. Hello Rory, he says. He mentions a girl outside in a bikini and could someone let her in and get her a jumper, Lucy, lovely girl, diabetic. The "diabetic" works on many levels. It alludes to a lurid off-screen convo between the girl and the Doctor. One can imagine and giggle. It also informs on the tweed. This Doctor's tweed is not just a fashion statement, it's who he is. A bit of an old fogey. It also confirms his Assburger tendencies. A human being more likely to introduce himself by saying, "Hi, my name is Tom, I'm a builder" whereas few would say, "Hi, my name is Tom, I did laundry yesterday". All things being equal, the Doctor would tell you about how he separates his whites. Not criticising, just describing how I see him.

The Doctor wastes no time in demonstrating further Assburger Syndrome tendencies. Previous doctors (granted, I only know 9, 10 and 11) would choose to disregard social graces but this one seems oblivious to some details of human niceties and propriety. Or is it more that this Doctor tries things out, senses when his pronouncements provoke awkwardness and then edits and adjusts? We all remember his triumphant "Who the man?" which bombed catastrophically and which he swiftly followed up with something like, "I will never say that again." This time, the Doctor tests a Amy-kissed-me-and-she's-a-great-kisser-you're-a-lucky-lad line in front of the groom and his friend. He backtracks: "Funny how you can say something in your head and it sound fine...". Uh, no Doctor, with that one, I can't imagine how it would ever sound fine...

(Aside on Asperger Syndrome: no offence meant to Asperger sufferers and the people who love them. I understand that Asperger exists and it is serious. Assburger refers to geek mannerisms meant to imitate Asperger's as a means of excusing asocial, awkward behaviour.)

Opening credits: "Vampires of Venice" written by Toby Whitehouse

Ah, Toby. We love you.

Speaking of testing, this experimentation into recaping is going no where fast, let me pick up the pace..

The Doctor troublesome reaction to Amy's advances (not because he's not into Amy but because he seems thoroughly terrified by the idea of any intimacy whatsoever — what's the point of travelling the universe for over nine hundred if you're not going to get a little something-something once in a while?) translates here into over-abundant enthusiasm for the coming nuptials.

Rory is cranky even as he explores the TARDIS. He's being reading up and figures there's a different dimension inside the police box. The Doctor feels robbed: "I like it better when people say it's bigger on the inside. I always look forward to that." It's the small things in life that makes it all worth while for the Doctor.

As a wedding gift, the Doctor offers the couple a romantic getaway: 16th century Venice.

Not much rapid-fire rambling this week, just the Doctor bragging about past Venetian experiences: we learn the Doctor owes Casanova a chicken. Cute.

So, here we are in Venice and Rory is being a complete sour puss about it. Because, of course, we all want our funny uncle to accompany us on our pre-nuptial honeymoon. I'm with Rory. I mean, according to the psychic ID, poor Rory is Amy's eunuch for heaven's sakes.

The trio must show their papers before entering the city which has been closed to all who aren't bona fide. The Signora has spread rumours of a great plague outside Venice and the city must remain insulated says the guard. The Doctor shows his psychic ID. For no reason I can explain, I'm always excited when the psychic ID turns up. I'm totally envious and I want pyschic ID. Even more than a TARDIS. Until Sarah Palin becomes leader of the free world that is.

The Doctor is suspicious at these cautionary measures. They are confirmed seconds later as the boat builder is banging at the gates of the Signora's house, yelling "Isabella" and thrusting his body against armed guards. We've seen characters do this on screen a million times. It never works and they never learn. And what exactly gives rise to his suspicions? Oh yeah, boat builder manages to see fangs protruding out of one of the school girl's mouth and Isabella doesn't recognise him.

The Doctor runs off to interrogate the boat builder.

Aside about the unprotective Doctor: in four seasons, I don't remember Eccleston or Tennant taking off on their companions as often as Smith has done in five episodes. Ok. I'm exaggerating, but not by much.

Within minutes, our three friends are each on their on, following vampires, vampires bumping into them. Just before they split up, Amy suggest she and Rory should pretend this is a date. Amy wants the Doctor, Amy wants Rory. Floosy. Don't believe me? Keep reading.

As they reunite, the Doctor and Amy jump up and down with glee. Is there anybody left in this world who isn't head over heels over vampires except for werewolves and born-again Christians? Rory and me, apparently.

All three head to visit the boat builder who today would be arrested under whatever anti-terrorism legislation they have in Italy now. Whilst building war ships the man has amassed dozens of barrels of gun powder. Think about it. Unless you were some kind of sicko, wouldn't nick you the barrels of grog rations instead? Weirdo alert! And the Doctor agrees, "most people steal stationary from where their work."

Again, the Doctor is going to put Amy in the line of fire. He's doesn't like gun powder. Uh-huh. Nice try Toby. What, you think we haven't read our Chekov? If barrels of gun powder show up in the first act.... right... in the mean time, the Doctor is going to seek admission for Amy into the school, pretending Amy is his daughter ."Your daughter... you look about nine!" She wants the Doctor to say he's her fiancee (which makes no sense really, why would he send her to the school then?) but since the Doctor has already been seen by the vampires (he encountered them when they split up), it is decided Rory should go. Rory wants to say he's Amy's fiancee but Amy tells him he'll be her brother and she rubs his hair like he's a dog or something. And Rory is emasculated again.

The whole episode is well-written but this bit made me laugh out loud. As with everything written for the screen, it's all in the execution and Arthur Darvill (Rory) is spot on here. So Rory (with Amy, both in 1580 Venetian gear) to the Signora:

"So basically both of our parents are dead from getting the plague." The "so basically" resounds with contemporariness. Very funny under the circs.

"I'm a gondolier... driver..." Perfect pacing.

"So money's a bit tight. So having my sister going to your school for special people..." Does he means special needs school? LOL!

"...would be brilliant." Tee hee.

The Singora isn't stupid, she tells her servant: "Explain yourself. Why have you brought me this imbecile?" The servant explains they came with a reference letter from the Queen of Sweden. The Signora is suddenly delighted. Considering her plans and the fact that she took in a boat builder's daughter which does she now care about rank?

Oh dear... are you still reading this? I'm only one quarter of the way in. Better wrap this up. 

The vampires are insect-like aliens facing instinction. The further visual con is that the Signora and her son hide their true form by wearing a gizmo that manipulates brain waves. The Signora has ten thousand alien sons waiting under the waters of Venice. The schoolgirls are food/mates (?)

The aliens are afraid of the Doctor's Jedi sword. I didn't even know he had one.

The Doctor and the Signora have a supposedly touching convo about extinction and the Doctor seems compassionate but he gets very stroppy the minute he realises the Signora doesn't remember the name of the boat builder's daughter, Isabella. Yup, that's the real cause for outrage.

I mean, is he just the most fickle man sometimes?

The boat builder and Isabella don't make it. He's kills himself and a bunch of vamp-like schoolgirls by deliberately setting off the gun powder.

The Doctor and Rory have their chat about the kiss. "I'd like to now," says Rory "I'm getting married in four hundred and thirty years." The Doctor says "She kissed me because I was there" which I don't understand how that could be construed as reassuring. 

After what happened to Rose and Donna, it is an understatement to say that the Tenth Doctor was tormented by guilt in his relationships with his companions and Rory is laying out the ground work for the Eleventh. He accuses the Doctor of making people want to impress him: "You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around". That one hurt.

Rory has his moment, diverts the Signora's son away from Amy by insulting his mother. "Did you say something about mummy?" You gotta hand it to him, doesn't take long for Rory to suss things up and go for the weak spot. Amy finally kills the son who explodes into a pile of ash just the like the vampires we've seen on tv and film in the last few years.

In the end, the aliens are defeated (duh), they need water to survive, that's what they take from humans, not blood, water. The Signora has a weather tampering device which bring is to shower rain over Venice but the Doctor switches it off. 

Our trio toddles off to the TARDIS for more adventures. Amy is the happy queen bee of that threesome, "Look at this. Got my space ship. Got my boys. My work here is done." She owns them.

Very good episode. It ends on a familiar note of foreboding about the end... end of all things. Always with the foreboding. Why must a dark cloud follow the Doctor and his audience wherever they go? This is our new Doctor. Can we just have a bit of pure, unadulterated fun for a while please?