Posts from 18th April 2006

Apr 06

Use Other Review Cliches Please

Do You SeePost a comment • 213 views

In nearly every review of the Dardennes typically fantastic movie L’Enfant there has been a bit of gleeful tongue in cheek theorising about who the titular child really is. Whilst the plot, about two teenagers having a baby clearly has a baby in it, the reviews tend to think that it is clever to consider the immature father as the real child of the piece.


Instead tell people that rather than a gritty Euro borefest, L’Enfant is both really well characterised, really compelling and actually quite exciting! That will get bums on seats (it pisses over Cache – put it like that).

Bean History

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 433 views

Open2 sheds some light: in response to Pete’s musings, I immediately thought that the beans/UK craze might be a first world war thing – tinned rations at the front, shared experience of hardship, a generation shaped ect ect.

But no – though introduced to the UK at around the turn of the 19th century, Heinz didn’t start making beans here until the 20s (and for most of the bean’s history in Britain, Heinz enjoyed a virtual monopoly).

The turning point seems to have been World War II, when GIs gave the baked bean some exotic elan, and then I suspect a big surge in the 1950s for two reasons:

– affluent society and changing lifestyles leading to more demand for convenience food.
– increased popularity of cafes – this is where the bean will have come into its own as a snack and as part of the breakfast.

In the broader history of the GBB I’d posit a shift away from the GBB in the early 20th century containing kippers and so on – an aspirational meal served up at home, ideally by a Jeeves-ish figure – and towards the GBB as we know it now, a comfort meal with the emphasis firmly on “what comes well out of a frying pan”. The bean may be the axis on which this change pivots.

“Looney Tunes Cup”

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,913 views

Not an official World Cup licence holder? Would like to join in with the fun/jump on the footballing bandwagon to get added sales anyway? Why not have a football theme anyway – you don’t need to say the words World Cup.

And therefore we get the PEZ Looney Tunes Cup: which is as expected Looney Tunes/Football themed Pez dispensers. The ball shaped ones are particularly disappointing, and I have a Tweety Pie one. (There is no better picture availible on the web yet, as these go on sale in May – still you also get an idea of the entire 2006 range).

My Mini-Me

TMFDPost a comment • 336 views

Football Manager 2006 comes equipped with a very large and memory-consuming data editor. Ostensibly this is so you can tweak stats and update your teams with new transfers, managerial changes etc. in advance of the next upgrade. You can also add entirely new players in, and I’m sure most players start by loading this feature and putting themselves in the game.

I was no different – except that the very idea of me playing football went well beyond laughable several decades ago, Crafting “Tom Ewing” of Leatherhead FC was still my way of getting to grips with the data editor – good on-the-job training as the help file refused to load. I tried to imagine a more athletic version of me, and what my strengths and weaknesses as a player might be. I always was picked for defense, so I made him a defender, left-sided cos I’m left handed, reliant more on brain and bulk than on pace or skill – since I thought that this idealised sporty me might have become quite fit and strong, whereas in no parallel universe would I have become fast. It was an enjoyable bit of mental exercise, a harmless trip into the counterfactuals of ones own life.

I then sorted out his club and player likes and dislikes, and turned to his abilities and potential. I kept the stats low, envisaging a clogging lower-league career for my alter ego. Next was current ability – I gave him a low rating, and then ‘potential’ – from “-10 to 200”. Realism took hold again, and I slotted in -10: even as a fictional footballer, I was going nowhere.

Except I didn’t realise, because I hadn’t used the data editor before, that the numbers “0-200” on this stat refer to definite potential, and “-10 to -1” mean “randomise it”, with the lower the negative stat the higher the likely potential. “-10”, in other words, is incredible raw talent.

So young Tom Ewing, while still not the fastest, has blossomed over 6 fictional seasons into an “England U21 starlet”, with Spurs and Arsenal battling for his signature. It started reasonably enough, with a spell in Doncaster Reserves, but he’s now worth several million. The occasional news updates on his progress feel quite embarrassing – I feel like Roy of the Rovers dreams have been thrust unwanted upon me (though I’m not so embarassed as to take him off my ‘shortlist’ and stop monitoring his progress). Worse, I sneakily feel as if I’m cheating by having him in the game, even though he’s never played in any of my teams or even against one. Next time I start a game I’ll have a poke in the data editor and reset young Tom to a more reasonable level – but for now I’ll guiltily enjoy his apparently unstoppable footballing progress.

Food History Month

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,666 views

Yes, yes Food Science Day – a rip-roaring success last year and to be repeated this summer. But whilst the science helps us understand how food works, sometimes one needs an understanding of the cultural history of food to understand some of its effects. And so I propose May to be Food History Month.

What kind of questions? Well take this conundrum which came up the other day in the pub. The Great British Breakfast. We tried to narrow down the key ingredients (and yes, fried slice AND toast on the side made the cut). And it was pretty unanimously agreed that baked beans are definitely in the standard GBB. But we were a bit more torn on the ur-GBB, probably a Victorian invention. We did not believe that the British love affair with beans goes back that far. And hence for Food History Month we will try and conjure up a definitive history of the GBB, in particular identify the point when beans became a part of it.

Feel free to suggest other food history for us to investigate too.

Walk Away

TMFDPost a comment • 484 views

Things are getting tight down at the bottom of League Two (nee Division Three* nee Division Four). Having plummeted down there in the last few months, my team Barnet are bobbling just above the two team relegation zone. One win and one loss over Easter weekend places them back in fourth from bottom, but as a glimpse at the table will show there are almost eight teams in with a chance of going down. Propping up the table, slightly adrift, is Torquay – Barnet’s previous nemesis who sent us down in 2000. Which is why I don’t trust them being down there and want at least a couple of teams as a security blanket.

I particularly don’t trust as they have got a new manager, and new managers can often turn things around albeit briefly. Briefly is all it will take down there. Anyway, a quote from Ian Atkins new Torquay manager: “If someone gets shot in the street, do you help them or do you walk away and take the easy option?” My advice: walk away Ian, walk away.

*Amusing to see that from a URL perspective the BBC still think of League Two as Division Three!

Frank Miller Back On Track?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 734 views

All-Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder was DC Comics attempt at making a Batman comic that unites the best and most iconic talent doing stories which you did not need thirty years of continuity to understand. In Frank Miller they had the best selling and most respected Batman writer. No matter that the last time he wrote Batman (The Dark KNight Strikes Back) it was an incoherent mess. Give him the freedom and he can still write entertaining tales.

There may be some internal story reason for ASBARTBW (handy acronymn) going so much off the rails already, but as the series continues it is getting increasingly unlikely. The first episode was solid, albeit showing more sex for Alfred than usual. The second episode, Batman kidnaps Dick Grayson and is borderline abusive to him for the entire comic. The third one however seemed to almost forget the titular characters to do an origin of his version of minor hero Black Canary who whilst not being titular certainly had plenty of tits. People who weren’t bemused by Bruce Wayne saying “I’m the goddamn Batman” were a bit confused by the lack of Batman and Robin, and instead a buxom blonde vigilante who for some reason also wore a mask while she was working as a barmaid.

Anyway, anyone confused will I am sure be reassured by this Miller penned cover of issue 5, which appears to feature solely Wonder Woman’s bum.