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louisedennis
Model-Checking for Analysis of Information Leakage in Social Networks has been accepted into the post-proceedings volume of the conference it was given at. The acceptance is notable, in particular, for the referees' comments which amount in all cases to "have dealt with previous comments more than sufficiently, nothing more to do" which is good in the light of how much time I don't have between now and the camera ready deadline.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/239292.html.
 
 
louisedennis
23 February 2017 @ 08:07 pm




Lady Laurel (centre) had a book published this week.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/238973.html.
 
 
louisedennis
22 February 2017 @ 08:51 pm
Following the comparative success of Vengeance on Varos, Mindwarp by the same writer was one of the more eagerly anticipated stories of Doctor Who's troubled 23rd season though Robert Holmes' final episode (part 1 of the ill-fated Ultimate Foe) was probably more eagerly anticipated. Watching Mindwarp one feels that it had the potential to be as good as Vengeance on Varos but is fatally undermined by both the constricting ongoing story of Trial of a Time Lord and by a general sense of mild incompetence, mostly on the part of the director though, as with much 1980s Who, there is a fair amount of rather lacklustre acting on display as well.

When I first saw Mindwarp I recall thinking that Brian Blessed was sadly wasted in his role as Yrcanos. I'd recently seen him in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V so knew him capable of being, if required, not quite so full on Brian Blessed. Rewatching now, Brian Blessed was definitely one of the best things in Mindwarp. He's clearly having fun and at least we were smiling whenever he was on the screen.

Frustratingly the ongoing story arc of the Doctor's trial condemns this particular segment to a section where doubts are supposed to be growing about the veracity of the material on display. We are essentially told that all the events unfolding on Thoros Beta are being conveyed to us via an unreliable narrator. The Doctor states that events proceeded broadly as depicted but that the emphasis was different. In the hands of a better director this could probably have been made to work, but as it stands the story is frustratingly confusing: relationships may or may not be as the appear on screen, events may or may not have happened for reasons which may or may not be those stated. I've nothing against unreliable narrators per se, but I think Mindwarp demonstrates that you need to work hard to pull them off in a way that doesn't make the result look like something of a confusing mess.

The (as far as one can tell largely one-sided) relationship between Yrcanos and Peri is bizarre as well. It must be said that poor Peri was often saddled with the role of random object of affection/lust for some passing character or villain (we were to watch Timelash next), more so than many companions and I'm sure whole essays could be written on why this particular companion at this particular point in the show's history keeps encountering this trope. In this case though I think we are supposed to believe the feeling is mutual, even though Nicola Bryant conveys nothing more than a kind of indulgent friendly feeling towards Yrcanos. I deduce this because her death at the end of Mindwarp is retconned (I would say unnecessarily) into marriage to Yrcanos six episodes later (in the novelisation it is even more bizarrely retconned into marriage to Yrcanos who is then transported to Earth by the Time Lords where he embarks upon a successful career as a pro-wrestler with Peri as his manager) and one assumes one is supposed to view this as a happy ending - as opposed to a companion being abandoned and forced by circumstances into marriage. Of course one can handwave the lack of apparent affection by invoking the unreliable narrator, but it is ultimately odd and frustrating.

Beyond that there is a lot of running around and capture-escape in this story, rendered more confusing and apparently pointless by the interruptions of the trial in which the Doctor insists the material is being manipulated. An attempt to portray a planet in which not everyone is white is undermined by the fact that all the non-white characters are slaves or servants and very much secondary to the main cast. Patrick Ryecart as Crozier is working hard to inject some depth into his role but is undermined in part by being a less sympathetic character than the Governor in Vengeance on Varos and, to be honest, by a decision to depict this world, not with the grimness of Varos, but as a dayglo confection of pink and orange. Sil is reduced more or less to being a comedy henchman. Kiv, Sil's superior is potentially more interesting (and marks the start of Christopher Ryan's career as Doctor Who villains in latex masks) but it seems unnecessary to suddenly sideline a successful character by introducing his superior.

To be honest, despite my complaints, Mindwarp isn't that bad but one feels it was very nearly good and somehow misses it mostly by just not having a good enough grip on tone and a clear enough idea how to convey the ambiguity over the gap between what we see and what actually happened.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/238809.html.
 
 
louisedennis
21 February 2017 @ 08:28 pm
The Randomizer suggested we watch The Faceless Ones but, when I put it on, Tame Layman claimed to have seen it. I'm fairly sure he's actually only seen the two episodes that exist, and those many years ago, but he was adamant. We've been gradually collecting exceptions to the Randomiser. The project is now to watch all of Doctor Who in random order except NuWho, anything seen in the previous five years and The Faceless Ones. I may try to sneak The Faceless Ones back in at the end.

Anyway, the Randomiser next offered up The Invasion. I had bought the version of The Invasion with animations replacing the two missing episodes some time ago (more than five years, I was fairly sure) and we had watched it so I took the precaution of mentioning this in advance to Tame Layman who then didn't veto it.

The Invasion is remarkably watchable given it is one of the longest Doctor Who stories out there and, as a result, features even more random and somewhat pointless capture escape than normal.

It is definitely helped by featuring one of the better Tardis teams. Although Wendy Padbury has complained that Zoe Herriot, having started out well, was rapidly reduced to just another screaming girly I think the character is generally pretty well-served and definitely fares better than either Deborah Watling's Victoria or Anneke Wills' Polly. While still sometimes constrained by a tendency to be placed in a damsel in distress role, Zoe is generally proactive, competent and often gets to show off her mathematical skills (as she does here - confusing computer receptionists and calculating missile trajectories).

The Brigadier and UNIT, in its first appearance, also work very well. The Brigadier has yet to be reduced to the kind of buffoon who refuses to believe he is on an alien planet and is, in fact, remarkably helpful and supportive of the Doctor throughout. This gives the whole story the feel of military versus aliens which is both nostaligically reminiscent of much 1960s sci-fi fare and refreshing for Doctor Who in which the military are often one of the obstacles to be overcome.

Kevin Stoney's Tobias Vaughn is a triumph as a villain. In particular, it is refreshing to see a villain who is under no illusions about his likely fate once the Cybermen take over and part of the reason I think the story fares so well over its extended length is that it effectively portrays the interaction of three factions at work, rather than two.

We spent quite a while discussing the animation. I felt it was broadly similiar in both style and quality to that in the recent Power of the Daleks release while Tame Layman preferred it. I think it certainly helped that there were live episodes in between the animated ones which helped ground the characters out better in existing performances.

Frankly this is a pretty good chunk of 1960s Doctor Who and certainly much better than it has any right to be lasting, as it does, for eight episodes.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/238391.html.
 
 
louisedennis
20 February 2017 @ 05:35 pm


On the request of one of my father's carers


This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/238152.html.
 
 
louisedennis
15 February 2017 @ 08:28 pm
Reading: When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time by Michael Benton. This was recommended as part of The Primeval Writer's Bookshelf on primeval_denial. I'm only two chapters in so at the moment it's mostly doing a quick history of paleontology.

Listening: I listened to an episode of Doctor Who: The Writer's Room which I discovered via The Doctor Who bookclub. The idea is to look at the writing on Doctor Who. This particular episode was on Terry Nation and was focusing on his two non-Dalek stories. Although the writing was discussed it was a lot closer to a more generic episode discussion than I expected. Still, I've downloaded the next and we shall see.

Watching: We watched Persuasion last night on the grounds it was Valentine's Day. I had forgotten (or not noticed) how often this story involves two characters involved in some interaction which is causing other characters to map the outcome onto their own thoughts about their own affairs. This made the experience a little exhausting since G. kept needing all the nuances explained to her.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/237578.html.
 
 
louisedennis
13 February 2017 @ 08:29 pm




This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/237493.html.
 
 
 
louisedennis
10 February 2017 @ 06:54 pm
One of B's PhD students has just won the BBC Wildlife Magazine Blogger of the Year. This came as something of a surprise to B. who wasn't aware she blogged, though it has not prevented him heading out for celebratory drinks with her (where he is as I type).

The blog is Stripy Tapir and, among other things, features some stunning photographs which might be of interest to one of the younger kargicq's.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/236693.html.
 
 
louisedennis
08 February 2017 @ 09:09 pm
Reading: Back to End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. This continues to be an intriguing mixture of mystery novel and end-of-the-time surreality though I'm concerned by a_cubed assertion that ultimately it all fails to gel. Still, enjoying it so far.

Listenining I've minorly injured my leg which has put a hold on my running listening. The last thing I listened to was a slightly defensive history of African Art on "Stuff you missed in history" - I felt this would have worked better with a) an actual focus on the history of African Art and/or and explicit acknowledgement that more African voices would have been valuable.

Watching: Doctor Who, Mindwarp. Hmm.... more on this anon.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/236178.html.