Posts from 3rd November 2004

3
Nov 04

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

The Brown Wedge1 comment • 227 views

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

This must be the most obscure highly canonical novel. Or maybe just the most obscure such that I knew about – at least, since that poll of living Nobel laureates voting for the greatest books ever, which must qualify something as canonical. This was on there, and then I saw it in a charity shop, so thought I’d try it.

It’s almost 1,000 small print pages, a realistic tale of a woman in 14th century Norway, written in the 1920s, and in a style (translated obviously, so I don’t know how this reflects the original) like 17th to 18th Century English. I guess it’s a rich time to examine, with Christianity having only partial overcome older superstitions, so the people go to church but believe in elves and magic, even though there is no evidence of anything of the sort (yes, ditto Christianity, of course), but that’s not necessarily of great interest to me. Nor is medieval historical accuracy, though I don’t doubt this is full of that (the notes make that pretty clear). I do like getting to know very different lives, but I think what kept me reading, which did feel like hard work at times, was the titular character. She doesn’t make a fast impact, but the character gradually accretes into something substantial and strong and memorable, from her childhood to the end.

But it’s basically a historical family saga, light on action, not something I’d recommend anyone else reading for fun, and the constant reference to any young woman or girl as a ‘little maid’ made me cringe. We all know that being Scandinavian gives you a big edge in the Nobel stakes, and while I can see this being a major and important novel in that part of the world, I couldn’t really regard it as one of the world’s great books, personally.

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER 3: David Dimbleby Has The Attention Span Of A Gnat

Do You SeePost a comment • 233 views

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER

3: David Dimbleby Has The Attention Span Of A Gnat

This is all very BBC-centric I know, but after spending quite some time watching ITV calling it for Kerry against mounting evidence, it was always nice to go over to the gadfly BBC whose inability to fill airtime between results was partially due to Dimblebore’s inability to stick to any topic. In particular whenever he interviewed someone on his TV screen (Simon Schama springs to mind) he would get distracted by something from the gallery in his earpiece, interrupt the interview for NO NEW NEWS and never get back to them. He pretended on at least three occasions to have lost the sound just so he did not need to continue a conversation.

Almost rescued by the interview with Don King (!!!). King was trying to explain that he did not understand the assumption that the black vote was Democrat vote. Dimbleby manfully suggested that whilst Don was a black man, perhaps he was not a representative one.

Dem Bones Dem Bones

Blog 7Post a comment • 234 views

Dem Bones Dem Bones

Channel 4 to show footage of decomposing body – should be gruesomely intriguing.

WE KILLED THE QUIZ

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 272 views

WE KILLED THE QUIZ

So a couple of weeks ago I remarked on our success finally at a pub quiz, at The Old Dairy. It had been a little bit unsatisfactory though (as Ben outlines here) so we wanted to go back and win again to make it official. So we turned up, without our galloon of beer token (forgetten!) and settled down to wait.

The quiz started late due to Chamions League footie last time so at 10 when nothing had been said we were not too fussed. However after a check at the bar it turned out that the quiz had been put to the sword and no longer occupied its slot on the Tuesday. It turned out that our previous unsatisfactory win had been the last.

This was a let down, as was the complete lack of bitter on tap (they had been scurrying into the cellar all night to pour it straight fromt he barrel earlier and had probably given up the ghost). Unsated, we crossed the road to the Larrick (nasty pine pub) and played “read out the sex scenes in bonkbusters”, which was not quite as much fun. Though we did get to picture a man making love to the heroine supporting himself by only (so it seemed from the explaination) only by his chin on the ladies forehead.

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER

Do You SeePost a comment • 218 views

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER

2: “Apparently they’re still voting in Ohio”

Anothe BBC favourite this, when things got a bit quiet they flashed over the the journo with the lime green jacket on in Ohio who told us that “apparently they’re still voting in Ohio”.

This was fine at 1am. It was interesting at 2am. It was extraordinary at 3am.

It was fucking unbelieveable at 5am. Esepcailly when they showed “live footage” of the still long queues in Columbus. It was light. It was almost midnight and yet it was as bright as day. Suddenly the still voting story appeared to be a BBC fraud yet again to have something to talk about.

Of course they did not have this problem on ITN News channel where they had to spend three hours trying to claw back from the prediction at 2am that Kerry would get 310 electoral college votes.

Did you miss

TMFD1 comment • 1,076 views

Did you miss this game?

Then you missed possibly the game of the season, amazing stuff, end to end at such a fast pace it made a typical premiership game look like a 7 inch single playing at 33 & 1/3. And to cap it all, a fantastic winning goal by the buck-toothed wonder that is Ronaldinho.

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER 1: In Lieu Of Anything Happening The BBC Became Convinced It Would Be A Draw

Do You SeePost a comment • 297 views

TRIVIAL THINGS NOTICED BY A DEPRESSED ALL NIGHT US ELECTION WATCHER

1: In Lieu Of Anything Happening The BBC Became Convinced It Would Be A Draw

About three am GMT, when no new results had come in for about an hour and the various TV panels were clutching at straws at stuff to talk about, the BBC’s chief psephologist suddenly came up with a beezer mathematical wheeze. Based on a fair number of states going a particular(ly unlikely) way, it would be a draw.

Cue Peter Snow then using this model for the next three hours.

Much exciting discussion followed about what would happen (answer, Bush would win). David Dimbleby could not get this scenario out of his head, perhaps due to the British sporting love of a score draw. Even when the wrong results came in the draw scenario kept being brought up EVEN THOUGH IT DID NOT MATTER AND WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Still at least they did not call the whole thing for Kerry at 2am like the idiots over on the ITV News Channel (more of which later).

What Just Happened

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 215 views

What Just Happened

As with any election, the noble art of market research has taken a knocking. The nationwide US polls were wrong and the exit polls were even more wrong (sadly not wrong in the ways most – all? – of this site’s readers and writers would have hoped for).

Removing my bitter, disappointed world citizen’s hat and just wearing my professional opinion seeker’s hat, what it reminds me of is the Tory election grab of ’92, the one that really sounded the knell for polling-as-holy-writ in this country. A proportion of Tory voters back then had either lied to the pollsters or had avoided them – the theory was that this was because it was shameful to vote for the selfish right-wing party and people wouldn’t want to admit that. This has been factored in to every UK poll since.

I don’t think it’s the political stance that created the lying/avoidance, though. I think it’s something that happens to polls in elections – like that one, like this one – when fear is used as a primary motivator. Fear is a hugely powerful motivating force and when the fears aren’t seen as credible (eg the Conservative ‘Demon Eyes’ campaign of 1997 – though revive that poster now with GWB’s eyes poking through behind Blair’s and maybe you have a point for next May – but I digress) huge embarrassment and backlash results. But if the fear is seen as credible – Labour will take all your money; vote Democrat and the terrorists will win – then in the privacy of the voting booth it can take hold of an undecided mind. But outside, when the clipboard guy approaches or the phone rings…? Well, nobody wants to admit to being scared.