Posts from 3rd September 2004

Sep 04


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 167 views


probably there’s other mainstream American Style Bigwigs caved before wolcott – ex of the village voice years back, then of vanity fair, more recently also the new yorker – but he crystallises the coming problem pretty well, of writers whose shtick centres on the crafted sentence, the elegant appercu which skips you (mostly) over threatening glib mannered shallows into – he hopes – insight (the bad end of it being anthony lane probably, the best being maybe tom carson); the coming problem being how can writers of this type possibly operate at any intensity or useful volume in a format which is (surely?) by def much more quizzical and improvised much less lovingly carpentered for the ages? i don’t mean there aren’t careful or stylish or lapidary writers in blogs, but i do mean that the economy of attentiveness, speed and self-affirmed authority is just (ever so subtly?) different, and someone like wolcott (in his normal voice, which he developed in paperprint) reads forced in electroprint, except can he (afford to) adapt that voice accordingly?

writerly vanity being what it is – THOSE IDIOT SUB EDITORS RUINED MY JOKE etc etc – the attraction of weblogs for professional journalists, critics and commentators is fairly obvious, but who is actually going to be GOOD at it? more interesting question perhaps: who do we think – that we like or anyway tolerate on paper – is going to be unbearable?

(ps is it just my browser or is wolcott’s pagedesign all over the place?)

[UPDATE: strangely relevant report]

‘Greatest’ ‘Greatest Chatshow Moments’ ‘Moments’

Do You SeePost a comment • 340 views

‘Greatest’ ‘Greatest Chatshow Moments’ ‘Moments’

1) The camera was on the presenter from the start but took about a minute to inch slowly forward enough so we could actually see her face properly, revealing it to be…

2) Quasi-famous star-adultering Rebecca Loos. Perhaps we get what we deserve for watching this tripe but really, what on earth is this woman doing on TV at all let alone presenting a show. I expect these kind of cynical nudge-wink tactics from Channel 4 but not the fine broadcasting network and upholder of all that is pure and wealthy in televisual spirit that is Five. Anyway, of course, she was bad. REALLY bad. But this was to be expected by everyone so it’s OK right? No.

3) Loos introducing her own appearance on the interview she gave to some woman on…Five during the time of the star-adultering. A bit like looking at a mirror opposite another mirror. Except not fun.

4) Gyles Brandreth and Brian Sewell lowering themselves, if that were possible, by joining in the pundit fun. I was relatively impressed by the range of pundits though (Serge Gainsbourg’s biographer!)

5) Okay there were actually some great clips in amongst the ones we’ve seen a gazillion times already (hello Bill Grundy, Shabba Ranks, Myleene Klass) – nice to see Paul Morley looking like the World’s Worst Dressed Man on the ‘guy who would later become the World’s Worst Dressed Man’s show all those years ago (One Hour With Jonathan Ross), David Icke not saying ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday…’ and best of all Peter Cook’s fabulous turns on the Clive Anderson show back in the mid 90s. Just about worth all the other dreadful gubbins.

6) David Schneider confusing Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Parridge with something that was actually real.

7) Not being able to figure out what was going to be number one…

8) Remembering this was a ‘public vote’ and that the nation has the collective memory of a lobotomised goldfish…so Hello Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Again.

9) Feeling as if I’d been caught masturbating by my own mother when the credits rolled, such was the shame. Would’ve been better off watching Laid Bare on Bravo or something…for the first time, you understand…

10) No really, this is horrible. Rebecca Loos! She could show Richard Blackwood a thing or two with an autocue but this felt too much like Five punching you in the face then holding up a mirror singing that new Alcazar song in a horrendously off-key falsetto. Stop the planet of the instant nostalgia-obssessed list fetishists, even I want to get off now… Oh but wait, it’s Greatest Soap Moments tonight with Mike Reid. Maybe just one more then…

Olympic Avoidance Log: Paula Radcliffe

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 374 views

Now I know that Paula Radcliffe is not in herself an Olympic event, though the amount of accidental P.R. news I stumbled across puts a lie to this. She got more coverage than any of our winners, and the 10,000 metres (surely one of the dullest races ever invented) seemed predicated wholly on whether Paula would run. I would not have been surprised if the event had been cancelled if she didn’t. Still like the marathon Paula started, worked out at one point that she was not going to win, and then stopped. Since her husband is her coach, this could be the most overt divorce attempt ever seen on British television. But winning isn’t everything, finishing is also important. Luckily her withdrawal allowed me to turn it over.

This trend seems more than worrying. When you realise you won’t win, you give up. It happened with the US 4×400 women’s team in the heats too, which if you thnk about it is the kind of distance over which you might be able to make it up. The change-over second to third was fluffed, but they did not exit the box. But third runner gave up. Possibly started crying (as this is de regieur when you fuck up to make it look like it isn?t your fault).

But, yes, from this you can assume that I saw about fifteen minutes of Olympics to make these notes. Its all getting a bit tight.


New Scientist answers crucial question

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 306 views

New Scientist answers crucial question
Finally tackling the urban (?rural) myth that is the great green potato debate. The philosophy of which was discussed earlier here. Is this the definitive answer and does this justify green potato-ism? Arguably not unless you are 2kg bag guzzling kind of person.

Why do people do those lists on Amazon.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 380 views

Why do people do those lists on Amazon. You know the ones: Ten Great Reads, Ten Books Worth The Wait. I guess there is a degree of vanity involved, and what is the web if not the home of vanity publishing.

Nevertheless how about this for a list. Great Stories With Great Book Covers. Not only is the list a remarkably pointless affair, but the covers are not even that good. There are probably better covers even in their genres. Bizarre.

Olympic Avoidance Log: Women’s Football

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 441 views

Thursday 26th August

This missive was written in my parents place in Spain, and for suspense value, shall let out on a day by day basis. My parents like the Olympics. It is hence much harder to avoid, as they have the power over the TV remote. Nevertheless I do my best with skulking off, and avoiding all but what I have to sit through to look like I am being dutiful. That is still more than I would like.

I caught about five minutes of the Sweden vs Germany women’s football game. Football still seems out of place in the Olympics, even if it is LadyFoot. They have their own World Cup that, even if it does not get the kind of coverage men’s football gets, it is still more than Yngling gets any other time. (By the way, whilst I saw none of it, isn?t Yngling the Scrabble word of 2004? Even if the Microsoft spellcheck does not know it.) All the usual women’s football comments applied, slower, more tactical, deliberate, half of them couldn’t pass for toffee. It is also clear that mens football commentators, even if they are enlightened (or think they are) like Barry Davies, should not commentate of Women’s Football. The pace of the game is slower, the pace of the commentary should be slower too. And you keep catching Barry not being sexist, and so pleased with himself that he comes off as being sexist again. A slow three minutes.


It’s funny

Blog 7Post a comment • 497 views

It’s funny that Tom’s travel writing malaise inspired this month’s Blog 7 theme, because my love of travel writing is precisely what piqued my interest in the blog. That’s not to say that I disagree that the “travel writing” shelves at most book stores are pretty dire– for every Bruce Chatwin, there are ten Sarah Turnbulls. But the best travel writers are able to combine narrative with history, sociology and politics better than any other genre I can think of. Patrick Marnham’s “In Search of Amin” from Granta, for example, is scary and hillarious while offering more insight into Idi Amin’s Uganda than a dry history ever could alone.

But dry travel writing is a lot of fun as well! Jan Morris is hardly the world’s most exciting transsexual, but she still paints a hell of a picture of the world in Among The Cities using straight description (no pun intended) and history. Her detailed book on Sydney is fascinating, especially when read next to her less than flattering pieces on the city from 1954 and 1982.

V.S Naipaul used the genre for his hateful screeds Among The Believers and An Area of Darkness. Paul Theroux often shared his old friend’s disdain for the places he travelled, most satisfyingly in Kingdom By The Sea. Theroux’s curmudgeonliness works best in this take on the English seaside.

Tony Horwitz usually finds a middle ground between the “travel teaches me about the world” and “travel teaches me about me” schools of thought. In that way, I guess, he’s like Bill Bryson without the cornball schtick. One For The Road, in which Horwitz hitchhikes around the Australian outback, is his best pure travel novel. But Confederates in the Attic is his most complete work. Horwitz uses travel, both through Southern capitals and with a band of Civil War reenactors, to articulate the last effects of the War on America’s south. The travel narrative fleshes out what would otherwise be a fairly mundane theme.

A quick glance at the authors I’ve mentioned pretty clearly illustrates the genre’s biggest shortcoming–travel writing is largely written and read by a pretty limited group of people; those who can afford to travel (and more often than not, contribute to Granta). Paul Theroux will never be able to tell me as much about Nigeria as Amos Tutoula. But the fact that the genre is limited hardly means it’s useless. Travel writing works best within the context of more knowledgeable sources. Half the fun in reading about a neophyte’s travels is revelling in the mistakes and predjudices.

Day of Scooby!!

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,444 views

Day of Scooby!!

So I was channel flicking last night when I saw Scooby’s All Star Laffalympics was on Boomerang. Now, this programme has been discussed (along with animalympics of course) quite a lot recently, so I was keen to see how it stood up. Of course, as with all late 70s/early 80s hanna barbera the animation was shoddy as hell, but what I found most odd was the fact that the episode was set in BAGDHAD with lots of happy smiling iraqis judging the competitions (magic carpet flying and indian rope trick climbing as it goes). What I had forgotten about the show was quite how many Z-list characters were in laffalympics. The Dalton Brothers? Blue Falcon?? Captain Caveman didn’t even get a look in, although the Scoobie-Doobies did win out over the Yogi-Yahooies and the Really Rottens in the end, which is good as they were the ones I always supported as a child (my sister was pro-yogi). All sorts of scooby-related episodes here (it looks like the movie you saw wasn’t the most obscure either, Pete)

Dorian Lynskey takes aim at Goldie Lookin’ Chain

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 301 views

Dorian Lynskey takes aim at Goldie Lookin’ Chain: I generally think that GLC are harmless shite, Lynskey identifies a more sinister agenda among their fans, of mocking hip-hop via laughing at people who do it badly. This is a bit over the top – yes I’m sure most of the people buying GLC are not regular hip-hop buyers, but my guess is that they’re used to its being around, they don’t dislike it, they’ll have a dance to “Jump Around” or whatever if the opportunity arises. In that sense the band are like The Darkness, who appeal to people fond of the idea of rock but a bit bored by the reality.

GLC get one star, but one record comes off worse in the Guardian this week and nets a rare no-star write up. That album being? Big and Rich.

Sun protection factor 35.

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 258 views

Sun protection factor 35. You don’t get “sun block” anymore, apaprently our sun is TOO POWERFUL TO BE STOPPED. You get stuff like Soltan’s SPF 35 instead, and its copious warnings on the back about how actually it won’t work if:
a) You get slightly wet
b) You sweat
c) You leave it on more than an hour
d) You have just put it on.
e) You have somehow trasported yourself to Mercury and you are on the sunny side(it does not say that, but in this litigous world they really should).

I remember the good old day when Amber Solaire used to make SPF 0.5, some sort of basting oil which would actually get you a tan twice as fast. SPF 35 causes the sun to brown you 35 times slower than Yellow Face himself, apparently. I like to think it sets up a time dilation effect near your skin (slowing down the signs of aging) but truth be told you would be just as well off covering your skin with cement or – how’s this – a T-Shirt.

I have a bottle of SPF 8 as well, which is ideal for the first few days of your holiday apparently. I was going to try a comparison test between the two creams, and perhaps develop a nice little two tone tan. But then I went in the pool, got a bit of sunburn on my shoulders and being the Marie Curie of sunlight seemed less attractive.