In Memory of Alan Turing

September 17, 2009

Since I still haven’t finished setting up the Almost Fabulous site, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at this week’s tribute to Alan Turing. You can find the audio version (complete with bonus jokes!) in episode 11 of the radio show, downloadable from iTunes or direct from here.

alan turing

When we started the Almost Fabulous project, all those years ago, our goal was to bring attention and love to those potential queer icons who had been left out in the cold. At that time I considered including mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing, but decided he was already a well-known and celebrated figure. After all, he has been the subject of award-winning plays and documentaries, and in 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

But since the comments of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put Turing back in the media this month, I thought it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with this extraordinary gay man.

In the 1930s Turing was a mathematician working at Cambridge and later Princeton University, working on algorithms, theories of computation and – like any uni student – building simple electro-mechanical binary multipliers. Little did he know that years later his work would lead to the personal computer and the most efficient porn delivery system the world has ever known.

But as important as his work on computers is – and seriously, without him we wouldn’t be able to watch footage of cats on treadmills on YouTube, so for that alone, Mr Turing, we salute you – it’s his work during World War II that makes him a bona-fide hero.

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Interview: Robb Reiner from Anvil

September 14, 2009


Australian cinema-goers have their chance this month to enjoy the glory of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. This documentary follows veteran heavy metal band Anvil as they attempt to bring their sound to the masses. Glibly described as “a real life Spinal Tap”, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil is an exploration of the glory of music, and is full of heart. And hair. John talked to Robb Reiner (not that Rob Reiner), the drummer of Anvil, about fame, ambition and music.

You’re travelling the world, you’re supporting AC/DC, your albums are being re-released, all effectively on the back of a documentary about how you’re not successful. Is that ironic?

Well, it’s ironic that we have been successful in my point of view, the fact that we’ve recorded 13 albums and we’ve been touring for 30 years. But mainstream success is what’s now coming about. It’s a great thing, the movie shows the truth, it tells the story, people are engaging and it’s a great thing.

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List-mania: Observer Film Quarterly

September 11, 2009

On the radio show today, Glenn and I discussed the Observer Film Quarterly’s recent list of the top 25 British films from the last 25 years. Here is the list:

  • 1. Trainspotting (1996)
  • 2. Withnail and I (1987)
  • 3. Secrets & Lies (1996)
  • 4. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)
  • 5. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
  • 6. Nil By Mouth (1997)
  • 7. Sexy Beast (2000)
  • 8. Ratcatcher (1999)
  • 9. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  • 10. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
  • 11. Touching the Void (2003)
  • 12. Hope and Glory (1987)
  • 13. Control (2007)
  • 14. Naked (1993)
  • 15. Under the Skin (1997)
  • 16. Hunger (2008)
  • 17. This Is England (2006)
  • 18. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  • 19. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
  • 20. Red Road (2006)
  • 21. Riff-Raff (1991)
  • 22. Man On Wire (2008)
  • 23. My Summer of Love (2004)
  • 24. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
  • 25. The English Patient (1996)

Having done no actual research, we said the list felt a bit like it was thrown together by some people in the office, effectively “here are 25 films we can think of”.

Turns out that’s about right – according to The Observer “we asked more than 60 experts – directors, screenwriters, actors, critics – and a few smart “outsiders” (novelist Jonathan Coe, for instance; musician Nitin Sawhney) to name their top 10 British films since 1984″.

So there you go.