Posts from March 2009

Mar 09

Me Hearties

Blog 7 + FT + Proven By SciencePost a comment • 155 views

As you might or might not know, I have another blog which focuses mostly on market research, social media and speculation about how the two fit together.

I’ve been really enjoying writing for it lately, and I think it’s got rather good. I try to do stuff that’s interesting whether or not you’re in the marketing loop. Some posts, I admit, are craven attempts to write in the punchily stupid style favoured by the modern business dude, but some of them I’m pleased with. Here’s a little digest of the best recent Blackbeard stuff:

Humanists and determinists battle for the soul of research.
The Twitterphant in the room
The “Bulworth Effect” and the limits of representativeness.
What we used to believe vs what we now believe about teh internets (this is part of a series called “Digital Colonists”)

Format swap: Heston’s Feasts versus Big Cook Little Cook

FT/Post a comment • 1,783 views

I’ve noticed many people saying the only thing wrong about the crazy world of the Heston’s Feasts series has been the celeb diners making their inane comments. So yes, the format is great — a talented man’s fabulous cooking inspired by myth, fable and history — but the guests he’s cooking for are (mostly) rubbish.

I’ve not, so far, seen people making the complementary complaint about cBeebies ‘Big Cook, Little Cook’. A long description of the show can be found on an old post on Richard Herring’s blog, but in short the eponymous cooks have to cook for a character from nursery rhymes or fairy tales (Snow White, Old Macdonald). The problem is that as a show meant to inspire children to cook, the options are limited to recipes involving mashing together cottage cheese, crushed up crackers, toast and food colouring, with specially shaped-cutters (stars, fish, etc) to theme it up a bit.


Mar 09

SF Writers: Stanislaw Lem

The Brown Wedge7 comments • 438 views

Lem was a Polish SF writer, occupying a strange place within the genre. He despised most SF (Dick was the only American SF writer he admired – an opinion that was not remotely reciprocated) for its vacuity and shallowness, which accurately implies the seriousness and philosophical bent of his own work.

His most famous novel is Solaris, made into a great film (the Tarkovsky version is my favourite science fiction movie) and later a decent one. It concerns a first contact with aliens: the distinct idea behind most of Lem’s several approaches to this standard SF trope is that Lem believed communication with an alien mind, or comprehension of it, would be all but impossible.


Freaky Trigger and the Lollards of Pop – Series 3, Week 3

Lollards Podcast2 comments • 230 views

Apologies for the late arrival of this podcast, technical difficulties combined with having to run it past the Lord Chamberlain delayed the posting.

Tom Ewing, Anna Fielding, Mark Sinker and Pete Baran talk about eyes, lies, Google Street View, elephants in the room and the five blind boys of Alabama called Moe, was Walt Disney a furry, would you fancy Bugs Bunny, why Billy Idol is better than Paul Anka and still have time to talk about sleeve notes and have a WORLD EXCLUSIVE from St Etienne (which we proceed to pretty much talk over – sorry).

So nonsense basically, and much misinformation presented as fact as ever. Please feel free to correct us below in the comments.

The Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 30. White Town – “Your Woman”

FT/7 comments • 1,509 views

I think this is the last track I made go to number one.

Sorry, I’ll clarify that before hubris catches up with me. Your Woman, by White Town (or officially the Abort, Retry, Fail?_ EP) is the last single I bought which, in the week I bought it, went to number one. There aren’t many of these in my record collection at all, my single buying habits going from a slight ripple in the early eighties of pop, then album buying (singles were a waste of money) and then buying indie, and then dance singles to DJ with. Both genres rarely got to number one, I have Blur’s Country House and the odd KLF number one. But the charts we desperately important to me in the nineties, where every extra place you could bump Common People up by made the week so much better. We would probably have imploded if Pulp had actually gone to number one.


Everything I Know About Social Media I Learned From The Mighty Tharg

FT3 comments • 464 views

(This is the text of a five minute talk I gave at the Market Research Society’s Research 2009 conference, on 24/3/09. I was allowed 1 slide, and naturally selected a large scale reproduction of the cover of Prog 93 (see below))

Who is the Mighty Tharg? He’s the alien editor of 2000AD, the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for the last 32 years. And when it comes to social media, quite simply he taught me all I know.

The brand values of Tharg and his comic can be summed up in a single phrase: thrill power. For our purposes it can be simply defined as “that which is almost unbearably exciting to a 10 year old boy”. Everything in the world of thrill-power is turned up to 11, like this legendary cover from the man-versus-dinosaur series Flesh II, which I consider to be the most exciting artwork of the 20th Century.


Mar 09

Dr.Quack’s DUCK review

FT2 comments • 325 views

I see a book has been published on DUCK. (Victoria de Rijke, Reaktion Books, 2008). My subject. No-one asked me, but I certainly have an opinion.

Well, my ducks, it could be so much braver, so much more than the sum of its careful, scholarly parts. I should explain at this point that I offered my expertise at several early draft stages and though Dr. de Rijke originally gave me the right to reply in the early versions, any improvements I made have been firmly ironed out, by the Great Editing Machine, no doubt. Truth be told, it should either have been a debate between us, or, still better, I should have written all of it.


How Queen Victoria Used To Live

FT4 comments • 255 views

Maybe it was Emily Blunt’s big stamp head on the side of all the buses in London that made me want to see The Young Victoria. Maybe it was the surprising use of the definite article in the title. Whatever I went to see the costume and facial hair drama and got a definite whiff of How We Used To Live about it. In many ways it reminded me of a modern day How We Used To Live about me in the early eighties watching a How We Used To Live about Queen Victoria. Because for all its half hearted stabs at drama, The Young Victoria both desires and is destined to end up in the classroom, probably after yet another history syllabus revision which stresses learning about Kings & Queens rather than empathising with smallholding farmers. (One assumes this would be a Tory revision.)

Its a staid, PG affair which would have many uses in the classroom – not just in history. It would be invaluable in a needlework or dressmaking class. There are integral art lessons involved, as Victoria of tries and fails to paint a still life of her unstill doggie.


Mar 09

The Mood is Wrong, the Song is Right

FT27 comments • 735 views

I find it interesting when a song has an “actual” meaning completely other than that which it has for a particular person. The most obvious examples of this are all the songs like ‘Angels’ or ‘Perfect Day,’ ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ ‘Eternal Flame’ etc. which get played at weddings despite they’re about drugs and/or one night stands and/orSinead O’Connor’s dead mum but radio segments where listeners can call in with a story and get “their song” played demonstrate that this isn’t isolated to soppy balladry and indeed, for every song there is someone, somewhere, misinterpreting it, probably to the chagrin of others.

I don’t get particularly annoyed by people “misinterpreting” songs (instead, I get annoyed at them using rubbish and generic songs at their weddings) since surely they mean whatever you think they mean, etc. but I do, as I said, find it interesting. Partly, probably, in a completely vain way because I’ve realised as I’ve got older there are a hell of a lot of songs I heard as a child and completely misunderstood. For instance: ‘Rock The Casbah’ is not quite the same as ‘Kajagoogoo’ in the ‘senseless party songs’ stakes and ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ is not actually about an actual tiger, not to mention all the countless song’s I’ve had the “hang on a minute, this is about shagging!” shock moment about. 


Revival Of Movie Series Fails To Recreate Confessions Movie Magic

FT3 comments • 874 views

The “Confessions” Movie sequence has to be one of the most schizophrenic (non-medical usage) of the movie sequences out there. As such the films have run the gamut of movie stylings from bawdy sex comedy to rom-com via spy and teen movies. However only one of them has been highlighted as the symptom of the complete downfall of western civilization. Here is a quick run-down of the eight fot you, which one was said to be a sign of the end times?

Confessions Of A Window Cleaner (1974) Robin Askwith plays a clumsy ugly window cleaner who infeasibly has lots of sex and gets into surprising situations with housewives.

Confessions Of A Pop Performer (1975) Robin Askwith plays a clumsy ugly minor pop star who infeasibly has lots of sex and gets into surprising situations with screaming pop fans (perhaps screaming because he is so ugly). Remade as Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe.