Posts from 24th October 2003

Oct 03


Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 1,044 views

APPLE CRISPS 2! Or more accurately: Apple flavoured crisps.

The M&S crisp range has recently undergone an overhaul and in doing so has broken the cardinal rule of crisp packet design: different flavour = different coloured packet. I’d noted the change but didn’t immediately register the implications of this crime against crisp identification. It was only when I got back to the office with my lunch last Tuesday that the full horror sank in.

I had accidentally bought a packet of Apple, Sage and Thyme flavoured crisps.

After getting over my initial shock that someone could have devised such an abomination, I came to the conclusion that it would be a serious dereliction of duty to the publog public to not sample them. So I opened the packet, and dived in.

Much to my surprise, they were perfectly edible. This was largely because someone seemed to have neglected to put any apple flavouring in. What was left was a vaguely authentic sage/thyme combination, a bit like the Seabrooks Garlic and Herb flavour minus the garlic.

This left me wondering why on earth they are being marketed as tasting of apple. I know the British public has a seemingly inexhaustable desire for novelty crisp varieties, but if you really wanted to push the flavour envelope into the fruit department surely strawberry would be the logical choice?

Jesus – struck by lightning – God dropping hints.

Do You SeePost a comment • 396 views

Jesus – struck by lightning – God dropping hints. If anything it mught just be that God, like the rest of us, is already bored with Mel Gibsons version of the Passion, with its po-face Latin and Aramaic script and its dedication to representing some mystery event AS IT REALLY HAPPENED. Based on the journalistic texts written three hundred years after the event. Hence not strictly fitting NUJ guidelines on good journalistic practice.

I advise whoever is most likely to be playing God at the moment (probably not Chuck Heston, and Alanis Morrisette dropped the ball some time ago) that they aim at Gibson rather than the the lighting grip and the actor next time.

Barefoot Cheek

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 251 views

Barefoot Cheek in the Barefoot Doctor’s face
This was mentioned in Private Eye and has just been linked in NTK too. It’s an open forum of questions for the Observer’s whacky columnist. Quote: “i poetically call myself a barefoot doctor”. Not only is he (whisper) not actually a doctor, but also rarely is he barefoot ‘ the feet on the cover of his recent book aren’t even his.

The fact that he keeps up the sensible answers to the righteous outrage of those grounded in reality, plus the full-tilt taking the piss, makes for very funny reading.

ANNE SHELTON – “Lay Down Your Arms”

Popular13 comments • 3,370 views

#50, 21st September 1956

Straight-backed and strident march ordering a returning soldier back to his lovin’ duties with Anne. A shoo-in for No.1 in 1946 I’d have thought, but ten years later it sticks out like a teddy boy in a bearskin hat. (More anachronism fun with the lyrics too – “A girl who loves a soldier is either sad or gay”! Hur hur.) Shelton sounds bossily prim on the verses and downright scary on the chorus – rarely has demob seemed so unappealing. For all that “Lay Down Your Arms” has a brash charm – if there were any more songs like this on the list I’d probably despise it; as it is curio value wins out.

DORIS DAY – “Que Sera, Sera”

Popular19 comments • 3,039 views

#49, 10th August 1956

“Que Sera, Sera” is a slippery little song – its fresh optimism seems to conceal something a shade darker (the sentiment could as easily front a glum shrug as a carefree grin), but in the lyric only good things do seem to happen, so any fatalism you find is of the chirpy variety. It’ll all work out in the long run! In the real world such homilies might be dangerous, or at least an excuse to sit on one’s arse all day (as if I needed one). But pop music, thankfully, is not the real world.

Doris Day treats “Que Sera, Sera” as quite the happiest song ever written – a “Favourite Things” of predestiny and human impotence. She carries the arrangement along with her – the music-box tinkling behind the “Now I have children of my own'” verse just an extra tier in a wedding-cake production. And of course the chorus is indelible. The result is that rare thing, a pop song trying to sound less deep than it is.

A Reader’s Life

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 259 views

A Reader’s Life: straightforward and cleanly designed weblog detailing an individual’s reading, with commentary. Noted in passing on my way to writing another Blog entry, so I have no idea how good the site is, but I like the idea.

Just to prove that film and TV are better than science

Do You SeePost a comment • 283 views

Just to prove that film and TV are better than science, our sister blog Proven By Science has been taken over by Do You See related topics. First Alan tells us of the fantastic new Look Around You DVD, whilst I get radical with the 1913 leaps in science in Traffic In Souls.

Look Around You

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 804 views

Look Around You‘s Periodic Table [ed: updated link]
Only feeling a bit miffed, cos I did something like this some years ago myself. When you find yourself bored editing a science textbook, have access to Adobe Illustrator and an EPS of the periodic table, the product is inevitable really. Anyway, they have a DVD coming out soon, hooray. (Note to self, get DVD player for Xmas)

“Each ‘DVD’ measures approximately 70 inches in diameter and weighs around 600 kilogrammes” – from the site

Made up elements also came up when sitting bemused at the fantastic nonsense you get in the starting credits of Sapphire and Steel. “Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life.” rumbles the god-like narrator, “Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.” OK, FIVE* of those actually are elements, but, sad man that I am, watching these shows, I’d be shouting out “Perspex, Lard, Wheat, Toothpaste. Perspex and Lard have been assigned.”

*edit, not four. (as any fule can see)


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 642 views

APPLE CRISPS! These I believe have long been the staple of health food shops, but yesterday one of our supplies gave me a pack for potentially stocking in our shop. They are odd no mistake. Less, erm, crisp than a potato crisp, yes definately giving a crunch. A sweet crunch none the less. In crinkle cut form, and with appealing red rims where the skin was – and a hole in the middle where the core was. From a marketing perspective I would big up the hole more, in texture and shape they are not a million miles away from a crinkle cut Disco. That tastes of apple.

They are very moreish once you have got your head around the apple/crisp puzzler. However what interested me most was that the packed contained the goodness of five apples. Dried. Reading the copy nmy carton of apple juice this morning a similar claim was made. All the goodness of five apples. Which raises two questions:
a) Where does the goodness reside? In the flesh or the juice? Surely you can’t have it both ways.
b) If I poured a litre of this apple juice in the packet of apple crisps and shook it up a bit, would I have the equivalent of five apples. Or a pappy mess?

Inspired by tipsiness

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 167 views

Inspired by tipsiness and a number of ILE threads I took advantage of Fopp’s ‘SF Masterworks’ remainder sale and snapped up a few sci-fi novels. The first of these, THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester, I wolfed down overnight. It reminded me of why I used to like reading sci-fi so much when I was a teenager – it was quick, easy, packed with ideas and incident, and kept the attention to the last page. It also reminded me of why I stopped reading it: the male characters were wooden, the female characters atrocious, every single ‘love scene’ is a variant on “I hate you!”/”I hate you too!”/They fell together in passion. JUST GIVE US THE SPACE WAR ACTION ALFRED!

Unfortunately – and this is also the reason the book is nominated as a sci-fi classic – it becomes clear that the anti-hero’s ‘character development’ is the main point of the story. Neil Gaiman in his introduction certainly thinks so, and seems very impressed by Gully Foyle’s journey from brutish man-animal to conscience-stricken spokesman for humanity. I was not impressed. Foyle is set up from the first chapter as a space-opera superhuman – strong, ruthless, amoral and driven by revenge. He is an unbelievable character and the reader accepts him as such. For Bester to then try to strip him of his unbelievability is a mistake – to call it character development is a con. It’s more like Pinocchio becoming a real boy – a change of being, not of character.

(You can see why it appeals to Gaiman, though. His generation of comics writers specialised in taking cartoon characters and treating them ‘realistically’ – a similar cheat where the contrast between before and after creates an illusion of depth.)

The book’s 1956 origins were also very apparent (and not just in the sexual politics) – you get used to little anachronisms like a 25th century society still using 50s typesetting devices, but one particular plot point seemed very curious now. The hero is tattooed on his face, with results so horrifying that everyone who sees him screams and is instantly repulsed. In 1956, facial tattoos must have been almost unthinkable in mainstream society – now the face as described would barely raise an eyebrow, even if Gully Foyle would probably not find a bank job. The cover of the book makes him look like a chubbier Darth Maul.

For all this it’s still a solid, entertainingly nasty romp and I’d recommend it for a train journey.