Posts from 16th May 2005

May 05

Two Mug Fannydangle

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 585 views

In my many years of drinking and brewing tea I have occasionally been accused of fussiness. I admit that there is probably some truth in this accusation. I am rather fond of the warming of pots. I do dislike the misordering of mug filling. Hell, I’ve even been known to complain about the quality of water. But in the pernickity tea making stakes I’ve got nothing on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

So Long And Thanks For Michael Fish*

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 360 views

Is this a science post at all? BBC Weather is ditching its own familiar symbols for super-graphics which make britain look less green. The second controversial BBC weather story in two months, what is the world coming to.

This is clearly a science issue because part many peoples problems with science is that it is often poorly communicated. The old BBC weather symbols, with the arbitrary size and somewhat confusing divisions (my favourite was the dark cloud with rain AND sun = we don’t know) was not exactly scientific. Thoight the demands to go to centifgarde in the 1980’s was a positive step, soon all forecasts will be in Kelvin. But we knew what the symbols meant (ie we don’t know).

Is weather forecasting scientific anyway? Or is it just meteorological astrology?

*Has it come to this. Me stealing a joke from a BBC Talking Point thread.

Playing the game

TMFDPost a comment • 313 views

“I’ll get some stick over this” smugs Frank Kane over his provocative “harsh realities” in yesterday’s Observer. Will any suckers bite? Chomp, chomp.

Passing over the half-truths (he should read the chapter in here about Louis Edwards’s acquisition of Manchester United) I couldn’t help but gag on his Pangloss impression:

“Glazer’s audacious move is the start of the second revolution in British football – after the setting up of the Premier League – but it will be much more traumatic and long-lasting. At the end of the day, it will be good for the game, and for business.”

He’s likely right about the second revolution in English football, and if so it certainly will be traumatic. But his airy assumption that breaking apart collective bargaining will be “for the good of the game” beggars belief. Maybe there’s a case to be made, and if there is I’d like to hear it. Kane’s assertion is empty and crass.

The foundation of the Premiership has brought some good things to the game but the FA’s inability to manage the power of the larger clubs has brought huge problems, which I won’t rehearse here because they’re obvious but which you can read lots more about if you’d like. If the clubs, inspired by Glazer, are to smash apart any last vestige of distributing TV money then we can only assume they will happily keep making things worse, as long as the mony keeps growing. At present, the only benefits suggested are mainly flowing in the direction of the Glazers.

It’s tempting (especially if you support a financially-knackered tiny club, as I do) to pay no attantion to the Glazer take-over at Man U: this die was perhaps cast the day they converted to PLC status to raise money to build a new stand, and it seems entirely possible to me that Manchester United aree about to embark on yet another era of on-field success. But I don’t want English football to be ripped apart again, its hierarchies to be stretched further, and ever more painfully. Bless the Manchester United fans who feel the same way.

Enraged, I had to write.

Silent but deadly

Do You SeePost a comment • 467 views

What better ways are there to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May than ensconced in a dark concrete sub-basement watching a silent film from 1926?*

After a rather too large lunch, hoofing it around the renownedly maze-like Barbican Centre trying to find the appropriate place to pick up our tickets for Flesh and the Devil was a little taxing, not to say sweaty. However, tickets clenched in greasy palm and garlic breath projecting around us, we took our (very comfortable) seats in the auditorium and eagerly anticipated the film. If one is not a fan of the common cinema advert genus, the Barbican is ideal, because as a proper art venue it of course has no truck with any of that commercial nonsense.

The besuited pianist (live accompaniment – classy!) took his place, flicked a switch to start the movie and tinkled away for the next two hours, splendidly nuancing Greta Garbo’s slinkiness and undercutting the pomp of the male leads. It’s a smashing piece of entertainment, with all the gesticulation you expect and need from a silent drama, but also some surprisingly naturalistic acting, and Garbo is mesmerising and repellent in equal measure as the needy (and greedy) socialite ruining men’s lives for kicks (and cash) in German high society between the wars. There’s some excellent barely-repressed homo-erotic stuff about brotherly love in there to boot, and the pointy-castle matte paintings are a bit of a treat.

It was a pleasure to experience such a great silent classic on the big screen, and also to be a member of one of the most callous audiences of all time: we all giggled furiously while poor Greta slid beneath the icy covering of a lake to drown after finally repenting of her wicked ways. All in all, an excellent alternative to enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

*merely rhetorical, pls do not answer kthxbye

Who Is The Good Woman?

Do You SeePost a comment • 360 views

Is it
a) Scarlett Johansson playing this films version of Lady Windemere? She gets to do all the emoting in the film, and being a naive young lass does not get to spout any of the Wildean epigrams which the film otherwise stuff into the gaps like an overfull sofa.


b) Helen Hunt playing Mrs Erlynne, the forty-something temptress with a secret. The secret being she does not have the delivery to spout the Wildean epigrams and her voice is annoyingly too high as well.

Answer: It would have to be a): though if Tom Wilkinson could be called an honorary woman he would walk away with this title in much the same way he completely steals the film.

“Is there life on Mars? Is there life in Peckham?”

Do You See1 comment • 802 views

There have been a few grumbles that this Doctor Who series seemingly refuses to leave Earth. Where are the alien worlds and cultures, fans cry? Good riddance to them, for now at least. I’ll admit I’m curious as to how the new production is going to simulate an alien world – CGI may have moved on in leaps and bounds but quarries are eternal – but what I love about this series is how it fantasticalises the familiar. This series is generally suburban, yes, and it’s a suburbia that’s forever under threat – by time travellers, Slitheen, Reapers, etc. And that means that the real suburbia suddenly looks like somewhere something fantastic might happen. That’s a gift to a child’s imagination worth a lot more than a bogus studio jungle, I think. Compare the Harry Potter series, where suburbia is explicitly and entirely boring, something to be subverted and escaped: the real action is always at exotic Hogwarts. Doctor Who used to be like that too, sometimes: the humanising and exoticising of the ordinary is one of this series’ great breaks with the past.

Rat Kebab and Maggot Pie

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 391 views

New mammal found on food stall. – tragicomic tale of scientific discovery. The final paragraph raises an eyebrow though – the bumblebee bat??

Further quirky action – insect restaurant in Germany – website here, not prioritising the maggots.

Guru Josh – Infinity

FT + New York London Paris Munich5 comments • 655 views

Guru Josh – Infinity

If you export the sun-drenched Balearic vibe back to generally un-blissed Britain, you’re going to get things like this: cardboard uplift, a huckster’s take on youth revolution. Guru Josh queered his career by admitting, a handful of months before Thatcher went, that he was a Tory. His hubris and ham-fistedness would have had the same effect anyhow: “1990s – time for the guru” he growls, revealing that he doesn’t actually know how to pronounce his own name.

So it’s rubbish, right? Well, no, it’s a good example of how something that entirely fails at being one thing – a credible house record – can succeed at being something else, trend-snaffling bubblegum. The spiralling italo piano and keening ‘ambient house’ melody sound like they’ve wandered in from two different records (one of which is “Pacific State”) but Josh’s absurd showmanship makes the whole thing just about work. Shortly afterwards he vanished entirely, though a delicious rumour held that a mid-90s John Peel Festive 50 favourite was in fact the work of none other than The Guru.