Posts from 28th October 2005

Oct 05

Annals of Dead Media

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 223 views

I just read that the first ever “op ed page” appeared in the New York Times in 1970 (21 September) — “op ed” as in space handed over to rival blowhards, to counter the editorial pages (which are as old as newspapers themselves) (indeed, editorials pre-date the rather recent idea of merely neutral fact-gathering)

so is this just a US fact? hard to recall nowadays, but until 1966, the (London) Times didn’t have any actual news — let alone headlines — on the front page, just small ads of interest to the upper upper!!

i love technical stuff like this, the evolution of the presentation of information (and implicit politics of same): the most natural conclusion being that the NYT wz meekly responding to the aggressive Nixonian claim that it represented the “Eastern Media Establishment” (rather than eg the “Silent Majority”)… but maybe there wz another (better) reason

UPDATE: speaking of the evolution of the presentation of information, and what gets put on newspaper frontpages these days (via hullaballoo):

WTF Did Wedding DJs play before 1978?

FT + New York London Paris Munich5 comments • 614 views

1978 hits include:

– Youre The One That I Want (& all other Grease)
– Take a Chance on Me
– Wuthering Heights
– 3 Times A Lady
– Rivers Of Babylon


Nelson Mandela Foreskin Watch

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 626 views

Do you know you are famous when

a) They make a comic book of your life?


b) Said comicbook is so detailed it depicts your circumcision?

The Perfect Movie

Do You SeePost a comment • 512 views

Perfection is a different quality from excellence. I need to make this clear before I start talking about Sky High. What I am talking about, with regards to perfection here, is the idea that there is no conceivable way that the final film could have better fulfilled the terms of the films pitch. This does not mean that the film could not be better, or even that a better film could be made of the same material. Rather that if the pitch was “high school comedy set in a superhero high school”, then Sky High is exactly the film you would imagine. Every high school cliche is present and correct, and every aspect has been refracted through its high concept to work.

The nearest film I can think of to this kind of perfection is Galaxy Quest: whose pitch “what if the cast of Star Trek were actually sent into space to fight an interstellar war” manages to happily fulfill the criteria. The quirks of both films are inherent in their high concept, the success lies into how the films twist around their self identified conventions. Indeed you can admire to such an extent the neat dovetailing of superhero and high school so much you wonder why it has not been done before. (And smartarse I know it has – but was the X-Men like any school you went to? But never with the emphasis on High School, and never as well.)

I struggled with the high school genre when talking about Mean Girls, and certainly the high school movie shorthand is all over Sky High. Again, like Mean Girls, the film is aimed at pre-high schoolers, but this is a very family friendly kids film. Indeed you walk away thinking that you have seen the ultimate in pre-packaged studio product (next to impossible to find these days) before you realise that actual Sky High is actually a very unusual High School comedy. Not because of the superhero dressing. But rather that the lead character is male.

What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,746 views

The Jimmy Castor Bunch – “Troglodyte”

I can’t remember who introduced me to this song – Mike Daddino, most likely! – but it’s been a perennial playlist favourite ever since. It’s outrageously simple – lecherous caveman monologue, driving groove – but effective and leaves you wanting a lot more. I can’t believe I hadn’t played it out before the last Poptimism, but I hadn’t, and when I did I was gratified at the ‘wtf’ reaction. Yours now to hear and enjoy – all together now, “CAVEmen…caveWOMEN….TROGlodytes!”

(Several more sounds to be found, as ever, on top LJ community Poptimists)

The FT Top 23 STRANGE PHENOMENA: No.10 “B’aint”

Blog 7Post a comment • 260 views

It was a dark, stormy night and as we tried to get home we hit a nasty bump in the road. My girlfriend, who was driving, thought she had run over a dog so stopped the car. We got out, but there was nothing there. However when we got back in the car, it refused to start. It was late, and a wet mist was rolling in. In the end I agreed to go and see if I could find some help. Walking up the road, for about ten minutes the fog was almost impossible to see through, and I barely saw the sign to the Old Manor House. I wandered up the drive with its perfectly kept lawns and rang at the door. Almost instantly a man with a white cane came to the door. I explained my predicament and he told me that at midnight the 77a bus went down the end of his road. He also asked if I had seen his dog, which unfortunately I hadn’t. I went and fetch my girlfriend and we caught the midnight bus, which was, apart from us, empty and very cold: we thought the heating must be broken.

The next morning we went to a local garage where a mechanic took us out to the car and fixed it as we told him of our good fortune the night before. He looked incredulously at us, as he told us that old Blind Tom had lost his dog, run over at this very spot, and then accidentally burnt down the manor. With no stop to serve, the bus no longer ran on this route. In his precise words: “There b’aint be no 77a bus round here for 40 year.”

What is spooky about the story as summarised above? Is it that the person (Blind Tom), place (the Old Manor House) or phenomena (77a Bus) that you encountered the night before no longer exists, though you swear it was real? Or is it that the person who is telling you that “there b’aint be no Blind Tom/Old Manor House/77a Bus here for 40 year” always speaks with a west country bumpkin accent, and in a manner suggesting that they have walked right out of a Thomas Hardy novel?

It is clearly the latter, and I would even venture to suggest that such “B’ainters” (as they will now be dubbed) are integral parts of the stories they conclude. I am not suggesting they make them up, or even mock up the meetings Scooby Doo style. But rather they are sent as temporal custodians of spooky sites, to deter serious investigation. The addition of a B’ainter at the end of the story makes it all quite quaint and twee, and distracts attention from the real, actual spooky happenings in the tale.

It is clear that such guardians jobs are to make sure that the average person never discovers the secrets of such ghost stories, to distract away from the unpalatable hell of haunting which may face us all. All with that one word: B’aint. A word with no logical derivation: uniquely chosen by this ancient order to put off the curious. A magic word some say, and how unexplainable is that?

Marketing Science

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 988 views

Regular readers of Freaky Trigger will know that we’re sceptical about blaming all kinds of ills on ‘marketing’, because most marketers are rubbish bunglers and the whole thing tends to be based on very shaky statistics and assumptions. However, occasionally a neat factoid that proves the hand-wringers right.

In this case it’s that toothbrushes are getting longer. Why is this? Not for medical reasons. A sharp-eyed marketer noticed that most people squeeze toothpaste out to fit the brush, therefore longer brushes = more toothpaste used per day = more toothpaste sold. Diabolical!