Posts from 7th April 2007

Apr 07

agatha on-screen

Do You See + FT6 comments • 711 views

marplesemi-watching the endless marple on TV this weekend, i began to put together a theory of what film and television get wrong about christie (in line, anyway, with what i’ve got from the admittedly slightly skewed selection i’ve read so far): it boils down to a fossilisation of the jazz age, i think (which started with a trend-setting 70s version of the great gatsby)… in the books, this element is a kind of chaotic quasi-teen energy of the now, not necessarily accurately observed in regard to detail, but enjoyed and deployed for flow and larks, and what i’ve been calling AC’s war against seriousness

on-screen today it seems to turn to a combo of frozen fogeyism (everyone is played with “that” kind of accent, except for a few yokelish country-folk*) and ultra-researched art deco decor — worst of all there’s sometimes a kind of “in-quotes” attitude towards the material AND the times which really misses the point

of course this kind of fossilisation of the pop-cult passions of times gone by is more normal than not — it’s kind of an iron law that the more exuberantly rule-busting the fad was, the more obsessively rigid and pompous its archive-retrieval — but it’s exactly this iron law i was so surprised to find christie casually and cheerfully breaking; her writing is quite un-arch and anti-nostalgic (maybe this changes in the later stuff — i haven’t got beyond 1941)

(ok i’m tired from work and preoccupied with various admin things so i’m not analysing very cogently, maybe; and i haven’t been taking notes**: i just want to get something down while i had it in mind)

*haha including JACK DAVENPORT in one particularly dim bit of casting
**a note i did take: dear god harry enfield is a terrible actor when he does “non-comedy” roles

The 11th Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group: Raw Results

FT19 comments • 1,048 views

I promised the results would be up on Saturday, and here they are. Detailed scores, instant reviews, correlations and clusters, and implications all to follow.

This is from 39 votes – 32 present at Poptimism yesterday, 7 “postal”. The last of whose votes swapped the top two positions, so it was pretty tight, though it was clear early on that those were the only two tracks in with a chance of winning. A low-scoring Focus Group in general this, but it’s very good to be back: expect us to keep this fast format in the future.

And without further ado – the rankings:


TAKE THE BRAIN: we explore and support the concept of STUPID CHESS

FT + TMFD31 comments • 11,391 views

smessi. “take the brain” was aggressively marketed in 1970, with ads which mainly (as i recall) featured kids yelling “TAKE THE BRAIN!!” in a “crazy” way, and the pieces being wackily wiggled at the camera. I wz a sucker for EVERY boardgame and fell for this. It was not a hit in the family — I don’t actually recall EVER playing it (however see point ix)
ii. it is a highly simplifed chess — the board is seven squares across to eight deep; each side has in effect a king (the brain), four queens and seven pawns (which become “queens” if they reach the eight rank)
iii. but unlike chess, the board is not uniform — click on the image to see how each square is marked with the directions a piece is allowed to go