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Sunday, 29 January 2012

BANGKOK

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29 January

Bruce and Nancy go kicking old kettles - that's what I told my friend when he wanted to say that writing 'lol' means 'laugh out loud', to which my retort is Lizards over London:

Perhaps some prophetic vision of the impeding* Games in London...?


End-notes

* Unweisely (?), there are some who would write 'upcoming' instead. And it seems, on revisiting this posting, that I have left an 'n' out somewhere, but maybe these Games will just be a hindrance.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

A short review of whisky

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29 January

Not in general, but a 16yo single malt*, which - for sport - I shall not name.

It has never been a great dram in my opinion, but I do still have a fondness for where it comes from, and from having it on board early on in my Scottish travels** (as the bottle lends itself to stowing away), and before I knew that place (and others and their scotch):


Here, where the human population is significantly outnubered by that of the fauna, one is two ferries from anywhere, and with a capital (where the distillery is, together with a small shop and the hotel, with its lively public bar and nice restaurant) that you can drive through in not much more than thirty seconds, I have twice stayed the night, and neither time did I have the inclination to do the morning distillery tour.

What the box (not a tube, in this case) told me, on the top and front, was that this one is dedicated to the inhabitants, and is 'rich and full-bodied' (on tasting, it was not, no more than the 10yo).

Drowning my sorrows later at spending £20 on the unremarkable (and, then, with the same distillery when I last did so on a dubious recommendation, at least I got a full bottle - 70cl - for only £2 to 3 more than this one, with its claims), I studied the piece of marketing that the box is:

* Well, there is the burnished bronze printing, including a special emblem, with which the photograph of what I take to be that place is overlaid - very classy!

* Then, along with that emblem and the attribution to the locals, the assertion that they 'are drawn to it above all others' - not at that price, I'll warrant (and there are, as I have said, very few people there)!

* Then, for all that the wording
in the text above says, and also that a mathematical diagram puts it into a quadrant that denotes 'unpeated' and 'heavy / rich', another description states:

It's a subtle malt - unassuming, understated yet intriguing. Qualities often attributed to the [regional name for the locals] themselves.


Or what they meant was:

It tastes pretty much the same as the (supposedly contrasting) 'light / delicate' 10yo, but we're charging more!


End-notes

* I am glad that I only bought a half-bottle - 35cl - as a friend, who's in the trade, told me afterwards that he agrees that there is nothing special about it, even if it has been 'Nurtured for sixteen long years'. Sure they had some craic determining the wording on this box!

** It was also where I first learnt, from reading it in German on the box (it was not there in English), about adding caramel to malt whisky, which some say is fine and just evens out variations in colour (but caramel, of all things! how can that not affect the taste?), but others say imparts one that was not there - and some whiskies are sold on that feature (this one used to be - hence the bronze printing on the box ).


Friday, 27 January 2012

My mate, Damon Hoban!

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28 January

Damon gets really good things posted, such as:

Damon and Elena also both accept people for who they are in spite of everything. They both love unconditionally. WE NEED MORE DELENA*


The same person said:

I believe that Damon can bring the old Elena to life, the girl who had fun and just lived life.. WE NEED MORE DELENA


Well, this Damon is one helluva guy!


End-notes

I don't know - and I'm not going to find out (if I can help it) - what Delena is, but I am reminded of:

* A girl whom I once knew, who was clearly named after half each of her parents, Dennis and Anita

* The celebrated home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford - Pickfair (why not Fordbanks, or Fairford, with its air-shows, or Doumar?)

* Someone (maybe not the owner) who had called a house Nibynool (and, likewise, someone whose e-mail began werdna)


Jack Gordon and Lydia Wilson did an especially good job to-night (1)

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28 January

This was in Cheek by Jowl's production of the one that - if at all - we have all heard of, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, but, having now done a little reading, it seems that there are other plays of John Ford's that not only merit a read (on my part), but being performed (or, if they are, looked out for in production).

I had already been encouraged by Jack's excellent rendering of the verse (and also that of Lydia*, yet though - as is in his case - her diction was impeccable, her approach to the metre was less mellifluous, deliberately, I would guess, and she used her own, more-measured delivery), plus wanting to find out how one continuous show of 110 minutes had been made of the text, to seek it out. Now, I know to find either a collection of Ford's plays, or, at least, editions of the other three mentioned by my source (The Literary History of England (ed. Baugh)). (The programme guides me to two editions of the present play, but I don't want to buy, unless I can do so cheaply**.)

The pace and innovation of this performance were always just about right, my only feeling where it could have been a little tighter - since we moved between scenes near seemlessly, and the blocking and staging were very well worked out - being, as I recollect, the key scene between Hippolita and Soranzo, and just before: it could have been a deliberate point of judgement to let up then (or whenever exactly I am trying to remember was), but, if so, it would not have hurt for being done a fraction less.

All sorts of echoes, from the posters on the wall of what - at times - is Annabella's bedroom to the visual parodies of religious and other scenes, so there will be more postings (soon)...


End-notes

* Whom I have hitherto wrongly called Watson, when she is Lydia Wilson. Apologies!

** A copy has now arrived, so I hope to look out some soaring examples of verse, although that inevitably means my least-favourite thing: transcribing passages from a book that will not lie flat. (Saying that, I can probably cheat by finding a fairly plain text of a suitable passage to cut and paste, and then edit accordingly.)



Kelly Brook shows us her coconuts! (according to AOL®)

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28 January

So what can that possibly be about?

Well, she is not alone in liking the beach, possibly the tropics (possibly being photographed there*), and then there's this BFG / BGT / GMT business to promote...

So what are the chances of a Hawaiian look, rather than her collection of prized shells garnered from pleasure-beaches from Margate to Skegness, Blackpool to Minehead?

Going to the page, and below a photograph of Kelly** (holding an unhusked coonut - I take it to be such, rather than a partly damaged elephant's testicle) is:

Mostly we are posting this picture of Kelly Brook because we wanted to use the coconuts headline. It's very classy reporting but y'know what? Kelly is lovely (we met her at London Fashion Week), her bikini is lovely, and we wish we were on holiday instead of typing at our desks while a pigeon with a bad attitude watches us through the window.


So, highly informative! - I liked the pigeon's eye view best (in fact, I met the pigeon, also at London Fashion Week, and got all the gossip)...


End-notes

* It seems that the Hindustan Times may know more than most, apparently describing Kelly as 'the ideal travel companion for guys'.

** Meanwhile, Wikipedia®'s entry appears to err on the side of caution, telling us that she ' is an English model, actress, entrepreneur, television presenter and Playboy model'.

Delving further, though:

1. Does Kelly (née Kelly Ann Parsons - any connection with Nicholas?) fill in her census form that way (OK, the chauffeur does it), considering herself 'English' (even if she is), rather than British (even if she is)?

2. In what order do these attributes, achievements or activities appear? - it might seem chronological, but I am less sure, and in what sense do they distinguish her from, say, Linda Lusardi (although the latter is patron of a refuge for orphaned oysters, it must be remembered, as, properly, Wikipedia® records in her entry)? Or does starring in pantomime - and even Emmerdale - constitute a divide?***

3. Does once a 'Playboy model', always a 'Playboy model' apply? Would it still be the case twenty years hence, even if she did not appear in the publication in-between, or does it - any time - become 'and has appeared in Playboy [as a model]'?

4. Plus, aren't we over looking a few things? To name but a few:

* Justice of the Peace

* Piano-tuner

* Auxiliary fire-fighter

* Mother of the Bennett daughters from Pride and Prejudice (because Mrs Bennett was busy, writing her biography of Jane Austen)

* Carpet-layer


*** I do not know about the Playboy part (as the writing is not of the best, and Linda has always been disappointed by its attempts at interviews with Woody Allen). However, Linda has a thriving business, which she started herself ten years ago, where pubs - if any can still be found, and ones where people play not just games, but card-games - are offered a replacement pack of cards, because it is impossible to play properly when everyone knows that the one with the missing corner is the King of Diamonds.


Self-parking garages at Writer's Rest

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27 January

There's a discussion going on about cars that drive themselves (that age-old dream - of some, anyway!).

I have just posted this comment in a 'spin-off thread'* to the original posting:



Hmm. I'm not sure that this concept is a new one - if I am not raving, it originated in Japan (probably Tokyo), where, clearly, efficient use of the available space is of paramount importance. (It may be now in West Hollywood.)

In essence, I think that it is little more than a giant car-transporter (those huge things on the roads that look so dangerous on so many counts:

* What if the cars touch (in varying degrees of touching from a knock to a squash)?;

* What if the whole thing falls over?;

* What if a car - as in the films - tumbles off the back and into one's path, and would one's reactions be good enough?.


Self-parking garages are a mechanization of using storage space, as I recall, a bit like the capsule hotel - you get a bed for the night, but it's cheap and basic, as you're occupying a space not much larger than a coffin!

I believe that, with the self-parking concept, you leave the garage with fitting your car into the space available, rather than driving around and around a car-park, where a large surface-area is, of course, wasted in this search by providing the route for the cars to get around, and from floor to floor.

I think that it's computer-controlled mechanization, in fact, with hydraulics, sensors, etc. If I'm right, it's little different from the technology that we have already taken for granted with robots building vehicles for us in car-plants:

There's a very atmospheric scene in such a plant in
The Hunter (2010) (write-up on my blog**, and the Cambridge Film Festival web-site), where Ali (writer / director / actor Rafi Pitts), who is a security guard on night duties, makes a patrol. There is no one around, but the robots are busy welding and the like.


Full blog at
http://writersrest.com/2012/01/24/let-the-robot-drive/#comment-1108


End-notes

* Some such...

** Postings at:
The Hunter re-emerges and Back to The Hunter.


Cher not dead (according to Yahoo!)

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27 January

Well, I know that using that qualification to the title, to give the source, makes it sound as though there is some doubt about 'the message'...

But I can state that I have no reason to think that Cher is dead, so why - maybe in some metaphorical sense? - I need to be told otherwise in this so-called 'Trending' feature at the top of the Yahoo! e-mail inbox is beyond me!

Think what one may of Celine Dion (and, sadly, I don't like something in the quality of her voice), I am reminded of seeing a headline to a newspaper (or magazine) in a French channel port, many years ago, which promised a report on 'her incredible suicide'.

It was merely, though, a 'career suicide', where the publication was putting the case for (or against) some decision - becoming an astronaut, or following Glenda Jackson into Parliament - that might have been thought to be the death of her work as a singer. A pretty far-fetched suicide, and that could have been at least 15 years ago, so Yahoo! has some catching up to do!

What about?:

Trending: Winston Churchill


Leading to a report that scientists in Taiwan, who stole tissue samples from a laboratory in the University of Oxford, are trying to clone his brain...


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Helium Kid splits up from Dolphin

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27 January

There seems to be a fair bit of Internet reporting of this divorce at the moment (whether there is any interest, I do not know, and have followed none of the 'links'*): I had heard of one party (and even heard some music some time), but the other, patent anagram Heidi Klum**, was a bit of a mystery:

Not now - and there she has the advantage over me, because, to judge from the 'thumbnails' (do we get this jargon from photography?), she bears a resemblance to a friend's wife, and he is not in the music business, whereas I do not. (The page of search-results also called her 'mother-of-four' Klum.)

In her youth (if she went by anything resembling that name), did peers jeer at her with Hi, mule kid!, approach with Hi! Like mud?, with mud-pies at the ready, or, with Hi! Milk due!, dive on her breasts?

Or did they keep invoking that device of incoherence, whenever it was sticky, and exclaim Oh, it's - like - humid...?***


End-notes

* I imagine that we have this terminology from the people of the time in universities in the States who made connections between their computers, although some will see it as more, at that stage, to do with the US military.

** Yahoo! also wants to lure me into finding out about another woman, a red ranch serf who goes under the name Crash Redfern (loads of 'em in the LA phone-book, beloved of Woody...).

*** Of course, it's quite possible that none of this happened, not even in vivid, frightening dreams, and that she wowed her contemporaries with her nascent skills as a [whatever she's famous for - to be completed, NB not mother of four at that stage].


The Future or How do you choose a satisying film? (Part 3)

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26 January

A contact in the film world and I are agreed about Peter Bradshaw (we both experienced the so-called Tartan Error, I mean Terror, event at last year's Festival -
http://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk/films/2011/the-tartan-terror-hamish-mcalpine-in-conversation/ - and both walked out): Bradshaw has, perhaps not single handedly, talked up The Artist into a frenzy of screenings to cope with the demand.

Rule of thumb, then:

Bradshaw commends, run the other way! - fast: since you can run, but you can't hide, etc.


Not that it was at all excessive to say that he couldn't wait until he could see it again, but it adds a certain punch to the poster - and, in whomever's eyes, though it's only January (unless the person or organ meant December), it's 'film of the year'. A huge debate could ensue about whether critics 'talk things up', and, if so, why, but it won't...

I may already have said so, but - and admittedly out of context, as pure music, as which (for me) it failed (the Birdy album, which I revisited last night, did not) - I heard a number from The Artist, played on Radio 3 last week, and was not just a little (probably, 'take it or leave it' territory), but deeply unimpressed: I should check, as I didn't register at the details, who wrote the score**.


The inverse of the law (Bradshaw despises, sell your home to get a ticket) doesn't follow, but Physics tells us that it is unlikely to, quite apart from Logic and its famous 'excluded middle'***.


For those who can bear more, there is now more at Part 4 (and the promise that Part 5 will be the end of it!)...


End-notes

* I have since revisited the Growing Up album, and other numbers from when Gabriel's were PG1 to PG4 (although PG1, despite the infectious Solsbury Hill, is not one that I want to have as a CD), via the DVD of the Growing Up tour, and will have more to say...

** Courtesy of that noble (if not infallible) resource
IMDb, I can report that it was one Ludovic Bourse (more at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0099753/), whose credentials, somehow, don't - on the basis of past film-work - compellingly strike me****.

*** Kelly Brook®, allegedly, has things to share about how to exclude that pesky middle, but, if so, she can start her own blog! (Having said that, if she were to drop me a line about Bird's use of the diminished seventh (or, even the Dorian mode), I'd make time to read it.)

**** Some, probably redundantly, would have finished that phrase with 'as impressive'...


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pregnant Amanda Holden has been admitted to hospital (according to Yahoo!®) (2)

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26 January

Now it's:

Demi Moore rushed to hospital*

According to AOL® (but presumably not the same hospital - although, for things of a more psychological nature in the UK, the types of Holden and Moore were once thought to favour recuperating in The Nunnery (or whatever that place was called))

That said (whatever it was), I am fairly sure that there might have been some 'story' about Moore being pregnant, too - someone, at any rate, in that sort of league:


No, I do tell a lie, it was some postulation to that effect about darling Jennifer Aniston (who, unless she cultivated it (and even then), must want to vomit about being called Jen all the time).

As to Moore's fecundity, fertility or carrying - now or at any time - of foetuses, I am quite ignorant! (As who is not?, some would say.)


* I have since found her described as 'the raven-haired beauty' (in the NY Daily News), but, in the same article on the Internet (and very pleasingly, I am sure), also as 'the child of two alcoholics [...] whisked to a nearby hospital'.


It appears, at least, that she does have have a 23-year-old daughter, who 'rushed' there, and was 'photographed looking visibly distraught' - presumably, if she had been looking invisibly distraught, the poor photographers would have had a problem (and would have had to leave it to the named Frank Digiacomo and Nancy Dillon to spin the line of 'putting a brave face on it, but she must have been worried').

I imagine that it is also to be supposed that she was not playing some role of appearing what, in fact, she was not, viz.distraught.



Blogging is infectious

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26 January

I have mentioned Writer's Rest already.

Time does not permit a link to those postings to this blog, but here is my latest comment in the debate on cars that drive themselves:

I’m not sure that it is that [sc. that technology fails, because it is only as good as its human designers]:

Someone might be able to say what it is that makes my PC sometimes crash or go into a loop, and I’m not convinced that it is (directly) attributable to having been designed by human-beings – computer systems do just fail in ways that, as far as I am aware, are not predictable.

(Or, maybe, not worth predicting at the cost that would be attached: there’s always a cost, just as, if the maker of the PC, laptop or BlackBerry has skimped, we pay the price as the person using it, especially if we do not lose the simple time to try again, but data, or the chance to bid for that item at the last moment on eBay – the small fatalist in me then invokes You weren’t meant to win it?.)

After all, I believe both that the Apollo missions ran the flight software in multiple parallel because of this very problem, and that, because I understand jumbos that take off and land themselves have the same ‘redundancy’ with which we are, maybe, more familiar from the 32x oversampling of our CD-player (which still fails, but maybe for other reasons, such as a dirty lens), the problem is inherent and has not been solved.

Except by the very simple expedient of rebooting, and hoping that you can carry on, with whatever autosave routine was invoked in those crucial closing nanoseconds…


More available at Writer's Rest...


The Future or How do you choose a satisying film? (Part 2)

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26 January

Take Birdy (1984), for instance. What decided me to see it, when it was released?

* Well, it had not been created then, so it was not the phenomenon of Nicholas Cage. (For some, it might even have started with cult film Rumble Fish (1984), for others, maybe, with - also from that year of release - The Cotton Club.)

* For me, it also was not knowing of the actor playing Birdy, Matthew Modine (born in 1959, and so older than Cage, although their film careers have run in parallel). Amongst the things that one knows Modine's acting from, he has also appeared in shorts such as:

§ Jesus was a Commie (2011) - perhaps balancing up playing Jesus in Mary (2005), which, although it looks crazy, perhaps isn't that interesting, and anyway passed me by.

§ Santa, the Fascist Years (2008)*

§ I Think I Thought (2008)


* Alan Parker's work, on the other hand, one already had reason to respect and expect things from (e.g. Bugsy Malone (1976) and Midnight Express (1978)).

* I am sure, also, that Peter Gabriel, who produced the music, was already in my consciousness - in my opinion, the CD of the soundtrack (even if one knows nothing about the film) is a worthwhile Gabriel album in its own right, well worth taking a chance on if found somewhere (which I never have, since buying my copy, and I have no idea of availability / price).

For the film itself, along with the flight sequences, it is truly remarkable!

* The album's insert has an image that I believe to be a still from the film - disturbing, haunting, as the film poster itself was.

* And last, by no means (as one has to say) least, would have been that write-up of around 140 words, on the basis of skim-reading which I have almost exclusively decided what to watch in the independent cinema world for the last eight years.


That had, for a long while, been my practice, prior to the days of seeing Kevin Spacey talk on t.v. about K-PAX (2001), I think both Matt Damon** and Ben Afleck Good Will Hunting (1997), and Geoffrey Rush Shine (1996) - none of which, I have to say, I even slightly regret having seen.

Possibly it was the trailer that led me up the garden path in those days (a bit like the film's pig), but, in any event, I was not spared Michael Palin and co. in what I found the disappointingly dire A Private Function (1984).


But there are write-ups in which one can have (or feel) confidence, and there is the one (from a local free paper) from which I quote a few choice phrases (or, in one case, whole sentences). (I don't need to identify the film, which becomes strikingly obvious - even if some of the things written didn't occur to the writer - or compiler - as such to the reader.)

in 1979, grocer's daughter Thatcher became the UK's first - and to date only - female prime minister

the film focuses on Thatcher's rise to power, right through to the present day

There are, however, a few flaws. The story contains a few boring scenes and the flashback sequences are a little muddled in places.

A great back-up cast includes Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent [etc.]


Lack of energy alone at this moment prevents me from scorning the infelicities, but:

Would you want to trust this 'review' to guide you on your way, either into the auditorium with Meryl, or off to catch Luc Besson's The Lady (2011)?


And we're not done with how The Future (2011) was falsely set up, or what one might make of this new Thatcher voice - concerning which Part 3 might have things to say...


End-notes

* Why am I, for some reason, reminded of the notorious home-movies for the private consumption of a certain Disney?


** Of whom, of course, more elsewhere at 'You're now as famous as Matt Damon!', and even New allegations: Matt Damon opens my post, which have now become compulsory reading in the blog world (and, no, I won't be calling it the blogosphere - in my lifetime).


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tired old nag of a film (2)

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25 January

And the amazing thing is that Peter Mullan (who could have done with being given a lot more to do in Trainspotting (1996) than the role of Mother Superior) is in this opus:

Some may not know his name, though - whatever one thinks of its ruling idea - he added immensely (as did his opposite number, Olivia Colman) to Paddy Considine's conception of Tyrannosaur (2011), but, for me, this is almost as incongruous as realizing that Robert De Niro really was playing the part of Tuttle in Brazil (1985)*!


* I haven't seen it since, and should, as it is a great film - than which many a Gilliam production is a pale (or very pale) lamp**.

I also must have known at the time, but I have just been reminded, that he had the great Tom Stoppard alongside to temper his inclinations on the writing side - I wonder if anything reveals how those two got on (other than in the finished film)...

Interesting also, I think, that Terry Jones was accepted as the director of the Python films (more or less, give or take a few grumbles about his perfectionism regarding certain aspects of a take, whilst ignoring what others sometimes thought more significant). Which could have been because Gilliam was in so many ways in a different relation to the others or that he simply had not developed in that way - not, at any rate, until his contribution to The Meaning of Life (1983).


** And I do not know whether I am being unfair to Gilliam for his direction, or to Robin Williams for that certain worthiness that he seems to have in all his acting (or to both), but The Fisher King (1991), for whatever it could have been without, sadly gave rise to a feeling akin to having gorged on too many Easter eggs (when that time of the year, marking Christ's death, necessarily had a highly chocolatey character, such that one could easily do it)!


After Martin in Leonard's shoes... (2)

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25 January

It seems that Bill's former co-star, Tamsin Greig, is not only sick of being that famous spelling mistake Tasmin, but also loves the Queenie idea, and has hopes of getting him into a dress.

However, she has only told him, dear innocent child that she is, that he will look as good as this - which is bound to frighten him, poor jittery thing that he is!




Pregnant Amanda Holden has been admitted to hospital (according to Yahoo!®) (1)

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25 January

And what did they do with the other - non-pregnant - Holden?

Take her down to Mecca® Bingo for a good night out, no doubt, and afterwards chips with curry sauce and a portion of mushy peas on the side - she's worth it!

(And, of course, that would be cheating all the UK's other Amanda Holdens, I hasten to add, some of whom may also be pregnant...)

And, then, what about Demi Moore®?


PS Lenny Henry® won at ludo three nights ago, but sources close to David Cameron® say that 'he has a funny way of shaking that usually gets him a six'. (That may be Cameron or Henry - we couldn't tell.)


Kelly Brook® - so I'm told - does a nice line in calendars

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24 January

For better or worse, there are Wikipedia® web-pages that set about 'disambiguation', and this posting's title needs that:

(a) We are not talking about Kelly sitting down (or even standing up) with some scissors, card, glue, and a few copies of Vogue to flick through for inspiration (could be Monty Don, appearing nude in Gardener's World amongst the begonias, for all that it matters - except, probably, to said Monty (because that would not be his type of flower of choice with which to romp));

(b) Or even uploading some holiday snaps, pictures of the cat, snowmen on the green, some glitzy party, etc., to one of these web-sites that charges a bob or two to turn them into your very own calendar (although, of course, she may do that, at her peril, unless she thoughtfully dubs heself Urbiz Veran in details of the person placing the order);

(c) She also does not (to my knowledge) have a stall 'down Camden Lock' (or any other such stall), where she can do you 'two for a tenner' on certain celebrities posing 12 (or 15) times to take you through the year, BUT we're getting dangerously close!


To say any more would be invidious, and also make envious an obviously not envious Amanda Holden®, but I am led to believe that interrogating the Internet (or even Internet selling web-sites) with a simple search-string such as 'Kelly calendar' tells one all that one wishes to know...


Kelly Brook® irradiated my toaster - again!

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24 January

Well, no, she didn't actually - it was Amanda Holden® the first time, then Keeley Hazell®.

No, wait a minute - it was Keeley both times, as she hadn't got it quite right the first time*!


Sorry, I haven't got this business of being a publicist right yet! Despite having a huge chart set up, on which I try to keep track of 'the stories', I keep coming a cropper as to who said what and when, Miss Marple!

And this despite the fact that my lovely chart resembles something out of one of these t.v. murder mysteries (usually, anyway - toaster crime isn't big in detective fiction of any kind, as far as I am aware), where they map the suspects and what they did and said with mug-shots, artfully deployed pieces of wool, etc.

Whatever mine resembles, I just haven't the organizational technique, so maybe I need to employ some skills from Cracker and get Robbie onto it (if he isn't still being all Hagrid all over the place, that is...). Then, again, mebbe (as Hagrid would say) we could call a truce - just start telling the truth once more?


* Something similar to what the Scots (like to) say about why Irish (i.e. whiksey, I mean whiskey) is triple distilled, and Scotch (NB only usually) only twice.


My phone 'doesn't do trashy'

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24 January

No, I don't know what that phrase means either* (but it doubtless has at least one dubious import, in the right place at the right time...)!

What I meant, by catching (or trying to catch) the attention with that heading is that the phone knows 'trash' - we are talking, here, that language PT, or Predictive Text - but, if I try going further, with that terminal 'y', the wave-front of the word breaks down**.


The result:

Upbriz


Two possibilities occur to me, both of which I shall disprove (but maybe not now):

(1) This 'word', and I cannot see that it is the beginning of anything (a Chinese musical instrument, maybe, about which I might have to send a text-message some day?), could have been loaded into the standard dictionary*** for every Nokia® of its kind.

Perhaps it was deemed that the key-combination that would have given 'trashy' was too trashy (the word isn't even there as a second choice), and needed some class - with 'Upbriz' (forgive me if it is a leading name, such as Prada®, but I don't think so).


(2) By mistake (or - in a fit of utter insanity - troubling to do so), I have saved this combination of letters into my customized add-on to this 'dictionary'.


As I say, I can offer a proof against both hypotheses - and I can identify no others - but, for technical reasons, not very soon, unless there's a great demand for it!


End-notes:

* Though Trashy McAlister might (when not flicking through her rare copy of Homer's Arctic Lay)...

** According to Michael Frayn (whom we worship after Copenhagen and then Spies), Werner Heisenberg would know what I'm taking about.

*** By the way, I thought that that word denoted something that tells you what a word means, or its translation into another language - this is just a glorified list, Nokia®!


Monday, 23 January 2012

Looking forward to this year's Festival...

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23 January

I have been repaid, by a little visit to the Festival web-site, to learn from a recent bulletin that admissions were 20% up at last year's Festival, which can't be bad in these lean times (I hope that I didn't distort the figures too much by my own attendances - no, that would be ridiculous, even with an auditorium of the size of Screen 3, so no pats on the back for me!).

Read a little more here:

http://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk/news/2012/01/16/2011-admissions-up-2012-onwards-march/


Plus, whilst you're there, a good thing to look at is 'Movies at the Mansion'. OK, Wrest Park (near Silsoe, in Bedfordshire - a property maintained by English Heritage) isn't usually called a mansion (although it may be one), but it's pretty grand, so who cares?!


What matters is that it's an interesting idea to screen some films there (and the grounds are intriguing, too, with follies aplenty):

http://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk/movies-at-the-mansion/


Peter Bradshaw dismounts from War Horse

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23 January

Why quite at such length (six full paragraphs on 12 January), as some of Bradshaw's reviewing is distinctly on the 170-word side (OK, I am talking about the brevity with which, in comparison, he wrote - allegedly - dismissively about Sarah's Key!), for something that he really didn't like and gave two stars to, I do not know...

However, Bradshaw has done a decent job of demolishing Hobby Horse, I mean War Horse (whilst acknowledging what was good about The National Theatre production):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jan/12/war-horse-spielberg-film-review


Veran's odd approach to chicken (2)

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23 August

For the record (though somehow we are already in summer, following the last Futile Bulletin):

* They are chicken nuggets - devotees can doubtless explain what they have (or lack) that distinguishes them from 'dippers' (and the like)

* Strictly as a layman, and never having considered the question before, how a disc-shaped item can be a 'nugget' now escapes me, but perhaps it is too late to challenge this convention

* I have looked at a packet: below the stated 23 appears 'APPROX.' - which prevents me complaining, because, when I opened it, there were 28

* If it had been 53, maybe I'd have more of an argument about surface-area, and whether it would mean a disproportionate amount more (or less) coating

* At any rate, all of this aside, the packet is sold by mass - its contents are 450g, however many or few of these alleged nuggets there are

* And, quite frankly, the only thing of which they taste is the coating!

* Unless I should take some delight in the visual appearance of the chicken (in a sandwich between one side and the other), the only sensation (they make no noise, and let's pass over the cooking smell) is of something that is hot and can be chewed, coupled with the crisp[i]ness of the outside

* Perhaps those devotees can tell me that this is all bound up in the usual expectations of the word 'nuggets', so more fool me...


PS The packet that the nuggets came in* not only shows that they can be beautifully served by tipping them into a deep white ceramic bowl (cunningly accompanied, in a matching ramekin, by what only looks like a portion of strawberry mousse caked in that quick-setting gel so beloved of those, such as my mother, who used to render bought sponge flans fruit laden with something highly processed from a tin), but assure me that the largely bland product has been 'made with 100% chicken breast'.

Damn, could have sworn it was (a) turkey!


* At around 1mm in thickness (designed, doubtless, to keep in that gorgeous chicken flavour that I so signally failed to detect - or, probably, to stop the 23 items cascading all over Veran's freezers so often), the packets have a much higher specification than the free shopping bags (which are so keen to biodegrade - and earn green credibility - that they have started before you come to use them), but then these terms 'supply side' and 'demand side' do have a meaning.


Eric Morecambe and the evils of e-mail (1)

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23 January

In the days of love letters, being given them back was an unavoidable, physical demonstration of the desire for separation, of severance*.

Hard to think what the e-mail equivalent is (especially for those who have what I view as a mania for purging their inbox, and keep virtually nothing anyway, as they have already done it). Equally hard to conceive of what asking for something 'by return' means, as against with an item of correspondence received in the post.

Which brings us on to Eric, who, as a set-piece (turn, party-piece, trick, etc.), used to throw (or, maybe, feign to throw) something into the air, which he would then catch in the large, invariably brown, paper-bag - with a sort of 'plop', as the bag received it.


A metaphor, in our minds, for what (for it was magical in its way, every time)?:

* Capturing what can't otherwise be seen (cloud-chambers and particle-colliders)?

* Hans Christian Andersen and his little tale (lovingly told by the
University of Southern Denmark)?

* Hamlet on the limits of Horatio's 'philosophy'?

* Or what about this: how can you see the tears shed when a letter was written and which smudged the ink, or the sweat of Beethoven's effort of composition, if it's, respectively, actually an e-mail or a page of a score, printed from an inbox or a web-page?


And the evils (which I am in no way laying at Eric's door)?

1. Well, how many times have you turned out to have imagined that you replied to an e-mail, when you must merely have run through, in your mind, what you would say, when you had the chance - and maybe even fondly hoped to jog your memory, by marking the message as 'unread'? Which is more real: Eric's stone (or whatever it is) or the imagined reply?

Contrast the entirely fictional reply with writing a letter (by hand, or typing it - and, if not using an actual typewriter, then printing it), signing it, addressing the envelope, sealing the letter inside, affixing a stamp (maybe having to buy one first, and wince at the price), and going to a postbox (maybe even having to find one first) where you post it - rather hard to have a false memory about all that, though, I will grant you, if the item cannot be posted (for want of a stamp, a postbox, or even the address), it can lurk in the car or a jacket pocket, where it was put in the hope of making it into the post some time soon...



2. Oh, and there's the over-hasty response (hard to be hasty with the process outlined above and do what some call 'fire-fighting'!);

3. There's sending your e-mail to the wrong person (and letters, too, can be switched, in error, between a pair of more of intended recipients);

4. Including to yourself, if you find a message of your own to which there has appeared no response (the other extreme - the message comes back straightaway and it's horrible, or you wait in vain for it), and, instead of pressing the 'forward' button, the 'reply' button is pressed, so it later shows up in your inbox, if you start some other task;

5. And those missing replies - did your message ever reach the addressee, or did his or hers not reach you (mimicking the post)?;

6. Unless you attach the intended document(s) at the time when you write about them, false memory is all too possible about that (but my 'send' function has the trick of spotting the words 'attach' or 'attachment', and prompts me as to whether I intended to send a message with no attachment) - but one can, just about, manage to post an empty envelope;

7. The attachment that you cannot open (either because it shows as one, but doesn't seem to be there, or because, say, it has a DOCX file-extension, and you don't have that version of WOrd) has, as far as I can see, no equivalent with the physical posting of a document;

8. Nor has pressing the button to send your message and then seeing a howler, which can't be corrected (although one can, for other reasons, have just posted something, and wish that one had long arms, or the postbox a backlog of letters, so that it can be retrieved);

9. Not everyone likes spam, but I find some of the gambits that the senders dream up to make me interested quite entertaining, and, for those who are prudish, junk mail has no equivalent;
10. Finally, back to missing messages, the one that 'gets delayed' and so you only see news of a good concert (or training course - whatever the event may be) when it is too late to do anything about it - or there is just so much in the inbox that, although it was there all along, it got overlooked.


QED


[Continued, in a way, at: http://unofficialcambridgefilmfestival.blogspot.com/2012/02/eric-morecambe-and-evils-of-e-mail-2.html]



End-notes


* As Eric retorted in that crazy Egyptian skit (I think that it was Glenda Jackson as Cleopatra) to Ernie's question 'Have you got the scrolls?', 'No, I always walk like that!'.


STOP PRESS - Google® reveals the truth about Veran!

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23 January

A certain synergy in how this theme, and that of Resident Evil (2002), are coming together...

Find more, and meet the Sorceress of Shadows, at:

http://www.zeldawiki.org/Veran


All that we need is Awld Worrisome Thompson's involvement (Treatment for Worrall Thompson) to make our joy complete!


Tell your friends about your listing

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23 January

This, at any rate, is what one place for hoping to dispose of items (maybe even at a profit) urges on its sellers:

Yes, it's that old Arsebook thing again (and / or whether I should want to tweet about it)!


If it stopped to think about it, is this forum for facilitating selling - seen, one must understand, not from the viewpoint of the corporate or business supplier, but that of the individual - actually trying to do itself out of the tidy fees (plus that VAT thing) that it charges on every transaction?


Follow me, if you will:

1. I have just acquired a very nice copy of, say, Rats of the Twenty-First Century, whose photographs I have carefully flicked through (if one isn't at odds with the other). But I never intended to keep it - my BlackBerry® told me, when I found the book on sale, that it is worth 4 to 5 times what I was being asked to pay for it.

2. Amongst other things already there, I duly list it on the web-site. I even stop to rub my hands in glee, not only at the potential profit on the deal, but at actually being able to make on the flat-rate allowance for postage: because the book is slim (and even not too heavy), it will go as a so-called 'large letter'*.

3. The web-site confirms that I have done so, and then makes this anarchic suggestion: Tell your friends about your listing. (It also does so when I have just placed an order - brilliant surprise, it must be said, if I have just bought it for a friend, who will then see that I have done so!)

4. OK, so I tweet about it and / or put it on my wall (as I understand the practice to be), and all my merry friends, followers and fans (as the case may be) are instantly bothered with tidings of this trivial happening.

5. Except what if Dave, until now, has unsuccessfully been looking for this item (or any suitable item) for his mate Dan's 'big birthday'**?

6. Now, I have something that Dave wants, but Dave and I are reasonable blokes (they do exist), and he knows that, albeit for a quick disposal, I would be losing a lot to give it to him at cost; I, at the same time, know how much, one way or another (i.e. postage, fees, and VAT), will inevitably come off the price at which I have competitively pitched my copy of Rats.

7. So Dave and I will, of course, try to work out an exchange: to have Rats, he will reimburse me what I paid for it (or more, if he wants), and also give me - then or at some other time - his time in painting the fence, stroking the cat (probably pet-sitting), or something else that he can supply to make good as much of my net loss of profit as I am inclined to recover.

8. Dave's happy, I'm happy, and I take the item out of my listing.



No fees or charges paid, though, so maybe someone - who unwisely suggested the whole thing - should be unhappy? Or is it all in the spirit of altruistic love and friendship that is behind all this social networking?!

QED


* How many real letters, as thick as 2.45cm, have you ever had?! (Were they not actually DVDs, to add to your burgeoning collection of 'The Desirable but Unwatched'?)


** How are some birthdays larger than others, and in what does the greater size both consist and evidence itself?

I believe that there may be a circularity, in that one can deduce that the birthday is 'a big one' only by how much fuss people make about it - otherwise, it seems exactly like any other one.


The Future or How do you choose a satisying film? (Part 1)

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23 January

* Contains spoilers *

For sure, there's no easy way to do it, when:

* It can be hard to avoid trailers totally, which - whoever makes the things - dish up (as Percy Grainger described his arrangements of Bach) bits of the film (and maybe even bits that don't make it to the version that goes on general release and which you will see) in an often unrepresentative way*;

* The man who can make Midnight in Paris (2011), no great masterpiece though it actually is**, can also produce Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), where, I believe, the point of interest is not Vicky or Cristina (whichever is which) and what they get up to, but very nearly the third named, if it weren't for the performance from Ms Cruz;

* Likewise, we were given Pan's Labyrinth (2006) by the director who followed it up with (?!) Don't be Afraid of the Dark (2010);

* Not knowing Luc Besson's canon that well (except Subway (1985) [and also The Fifth Element (1997)]), but being well aware that it was not that / either type of film, The Lady (2011) still wasn't what I expected at all in the wake of 2010's Festival opener (which said a lot, but probably not too much, in its title), The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)***;

* Even the publicity image used for The Future (2011), of much of the top half of Miranda July protruding diagonally from a sash-window (and dressed in a frilly white(ish) dress with black features), is a striking one. However, it actually captures a moment, for me, of utter inconsequence (save to demonstrate a write-up's description of audiences finding her work / acting either 'kooky or cute')****.


Which leads us, neatly or otherwise, on to Part 2 - to be found at The Future or How do you choose a satisying film? (Part 2)...



End-notes

* Trailers often enough create a longing to see where that moment fits in, what happens next, when it turns out not to be that interesting. (And, of course, they (distributors, directors, whoever) know that it's not that interesting, but they show it to you out of context to create an appetite that they know that they cannot satisfy.)


** Review to come, some time: it was started in the third week of its run, and unnecessarily long delayed, although oft picked at in the meantime.


*** Call it versatility (DVD, again), I guess, which is what one gets in the range of Woody Allen's work, from mock-documentary Zelig (1983) about Leonard Zelig, 'the human chameleon', to a fraught, but chilling, drama in Interiors (1978).


**** Except that, for what one could loosely call The Future's plot, it is part of the zany way in which (as writer) July chooses to set her character up with another man: he is being asked to say whether he can hear the shout that she is making - or about to make, or has just made - from said window, although, from what he has already told her (us) about where he is in LA, he is almost assuredly out of earshot.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Veran's odd approach to chicken (1)

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23 January

So it seems to me - and, no (following
Every Veran helps), I am not always shopping there, just that there is nowhere else (near) to do so after midnight on a Sunday night!

I have bought a pack (in fact, two packs) of chicken nuggets (or pieces, or dippers - some agglutinations, at any rate, in breadcrumbs of fragments left over from whatever gruesome process of 'waste not, want not' our modern food ('food'?) nowadays goes through), and that is just my point:

For I am boldly told that I am purchasing exactly twenty-three of these chicken bites, when I could have sworn that twenty-four was more usual.


At the same time, most bottles of beer (in Veran) are up tenpence (to £1.99, and may be 550ml, or just 500ml - in either case, not a full pint), and the cat, thinking herself addicted to milk with a special formulation for her kind, may have to forgo it, as, even with the better way of buying it (as a three, rather than individual little bottles), it is still 20% more in price than a fortnight ago.

And yet shoppers will, maybe, prove easily spooked by other things than price - being told that my frozen pack of baby kievs contains 15 may seem fine, whereas 19 (one short of a favoured multiple of 10) might not: I stress that I have not seen that product advertised in that quantity, but it does not inconceivable, when I have just bought one short of two dozen of these nuggets (well, with both backs, 46).

Will the packs of sausage rolls (to cook from frozen) be following suit? - or have they already done so? And if enough consumers do react badly to odd numbers (or certain ones), as against even ones, why would that be?

Is some bias or prejudice built into our numerological world-view, as, surely, even the roulette tables ask us to bet on the difference? And an odd whole number, when squared (or cubed), stubbornly preserves its oddness...


After Martin in Leonard's shoes... (1)

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23 January

Fascinated by Martin Clunes taking the lead in remaking Reggie Perrin (i.e. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin), I have conceived a project where he would re-create the role of Edmund in Blackadder the Second. (It may, for the sake of completeness, be released in the boxed set, but who gives a hang about The Black Adder? – after that, it’s a miracle that we ever got the BBC fund any other series!)


The supporting cast is as follows:

Percy – Neil Morrissey*
Baldrick – Bob Mortimer
Melchett – Paul Merton
Nursie – Jo Brand
Flashheart – Vic Reeves


Yes, you have spotted an important omission – I just cannot cast anyone better to play Queenie than the original Miranda Richardson (and don't even try suggesting that other Miranda!).

And so the whole plan may fail (unless I persuade Bill Bailey that he does look good in a frock)…


* My first instinct had been - for some reason - Dylan Moran, but Clunes' old on-screen flatmate seemed a better proposition: not that I'm typecasting.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Woody, the alleged Augustan

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21 January

His first new humour collection in over 25 years

So says the front of the dust-jacket of Mere Anarchy, but it might have done better to say:

His first new prose collection in over 25 years



This eulogy (taken from the inside of the jacket) by The Daily Telegraph is pretty far fetched:

If Allen had lived in Augustan England[,] scholars would now be considering him alongside Dyden, Pope and Swift.

So, John Dyden (1631 - 1700) was a poet (but also a dramatist, critic, and translator of Virgil), Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744) was another poet, and also made and published translations of the classics (as well as making an edition of Shakespeare's works), and Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), although he was a poet, is best remembered for his prose satires, his political pamphleteering, and his essays (e.g. A Modest Proposal).


Am I alone in missing where Allen would obviously have fitted in, when all three are poets (whereas I have never, to my knowledge, seen any poem of Allen's), and Dyden was even Poet Laureate, with Pope (when in fashion) celebrated in society for his verse?

This Augustan period, even if scholars did agree about its duration (Pope had no opportunity to know Dryden, because of their dates), strikes me as a time not obviously suited to Allen's humour and insights - and they certainly do not, by and large, come out in the eighteen allegedly 'witty, wild and intelligent pieces' that the dust-jacket claims describes the contents of Mere Anarchy.

And why, when he is such a successful film director, who has given the world wonders enough, does such an assertion need making about Allen?

The quality of that directorial work far exceeds that of the best of these pieces!


Trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution

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22 January

* Contains spoilers *

Oh no, what should have been the response to the first film, the audience retribution of avoiding any more of it, has become a self-fulfilling title for film no. 5!

After I had caught up with the original film, I took the trouble to hear these people (Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, and their co-stars, plus the writer, producers, set and costume designer, Marilyn Manson and his collaborator on the score, etc.) talk up what didn't need it, as I'd already got the DVD by then, and had seen the fruit of their labour**.

(But it's not a Digital Versatile Disc for nothing - why do we have to have its versatility (it makes a great frisbee, too?) hidden in the acronym DVD, when most people reasonably imagine it to stand for 'Video' anyway?: or is the the videodisc still a patented, if aged, format?)

The only truth in any of it was - although (for someone with no knowledge of the pre-existing videogame) it was fascinating to hear how they had tried to replicate its cult world in order not to disappoint the potential fan-base - when Jovovich, as some might say, cut to the chase and said how great it was, because you could watch her half-naked in a mini-dress, much of the time soaking wet, too.

She went on to stress how important it was to be able to see her legs in the action scenes, and, true enough, we did see her break the neck of one of the living dead between her naked thighs. Probably all of this and the origin in the game explain her costume, as little suitable as Lara Croft's is as a tomb-raider, but I still do not know what it was meant to be:

Boots, for sure; then the mini-dress, with a hem on the slant; and then what covers Jovovich's modesty - at least for the majority of the film - in the form of some sort of pair of shorts. But why does the shorts' purple colour have to be so at variance, such a clash, with the bright red of the dress (don't ask me about scarlet or crimson - I haven't a clue)?

What woman, after all, seeing that outfit laid out on a bed and not knowing who she is or how she got there (just that she appears to have been showering and taken a fall), would think 'Oh, perfect - I'll wear that!', rather than 'By all means revealing, but why reveal these purple shorts?'?

Still, the video-game designers, probably 11-year-olds, covertly working on the first version at home after school, and being paid peanuts for their piecework, may not have had much visual sense, or have been under the direction of somebody with some form of colour-blindness, unable to tell that the shorts and dress, which were intended to be co-ordinated, were not in the work supplied to him / her...


* The beloved term 'theatrical trailer', as if we might be mistaking it for where Jovovich has been hanging out between takes! Fatally, she is married to the director, so she might be playing this role for the rest of her natural (as Anderson is also the writer, and, having been seen enthusing at length about his creation, convinces that he could easily generate another 23 screenplays!)...


** Perhaps they believe that there is still a rental market, for those not patient enough to wait for the item to stabilize to buy at a decent price - or perhaps they honestly believe that anyone watches the extras first, which (apart from the trailer*, which they didn't watch on the DVD) nobody does - or, more likely to be near the truth still, they make these featurettes to boost morale so the crew don't instead think 'Oh, God - another day of this mindless script!'.


Supposedly, Holden makes 'brainless' dig at Brook

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22 January



Nothing nicer than a link so entitled under a picture of the two ladies, smiling nicely enough together - shark-fins, the phantom menace beneath the unruffled surface...

I blogged yesterday (Allegedly, Katy Perry unfollows Russell) tangentially to a so-called story about so-called celebrities. What now has to be asked is:

If Amanda Holden actually had to make some public pronouncement that damns Kelly Brook (rather than, more easily, just allowing it to be put about that she did), who actually believes that said Kelly did not license her to do so, because it is part of some agreed way of trying to boost what they are now calling BGT (and / or their own presence* and careers)?


It would, at the very least, invite AOL users, about to sign in to get e-mail (which is where I saw it, and actually, for a change, knew who both people were), to take a look at what it's all about, and so show Huffington Post attracting readers into the bargain...

And 'BGT'? Doesn't that sound like a reworking of Roald Dahl and his BFG - or a beverage made out of three men who sang (probably still do) with high-pitched voices?

Or maybe the modern attention-span is so short that, just as British Oxygen Corporation thought plain BOC more sexy back in the 1980s (and, after all, they did capture and, under pressure, liquidize many other gases - still do), Britain's Got Talent had too many potential viewers glazing over.

Personally, I don't think it's that at all: all along, the programme has been open to misinterpretation between couples shouting out its name to each other as to what's on, but only now has research revealed the crucial and damaging mishearing, leading to the hostile response:

Oh, I know well enough this country's got that bastard - that's why I'd emigrate, if I could, to get away from his bloody millionaire suspense!'


* Why is it always 'media presence', when doesn't 'presence' say it all, when it is self evident that these people are present - or invisible - to the public?


Merry birthday ! (2)

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21 January

I have looked out Sir Gawain, and, after it opens vividly with lines describing the sacked Troy*, it goes on to some schoolboy history about how one of the heroes' descendants, after they had dispersed with Troy in ruins and cinders, went on to found Britain** (named after him, Brutus, grandson of Æneas) the key words being underlined in the text (which is in Middle English):


And fer over the French flod Felix Brutus
On many bonkkes full brode
Bretayn he settles with wynne,

Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi sythes has wont therinne,
And oft bothe blysses and blunder
Ful skete has skyfted synne.


(lines 1319)


(All terribly hard to learn (and forgotten now), but, for my degree and in alleged proof that we could translate from Middle English, I had to be able to render in modern English any passage from Gawain's first Book, and from a specified Book from each of Langland's Piers Plowman and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde no one knows who wrote Gawain, but it was then believed that it was the same poet who wrote Patience and Pearl (not to mention the snappily named Cleanness***, with all of which it appears in my edition.)

So, after the noble lineage of Britain's founder has been established, we go on, before the introduction of Arthur and his court at the end of the introduction, with a rather worrying couplet (lines 2122) unless you are a football thug that, and I spare presenting a chunk of the original just now, tell how bold men were bred there (fair enough so far), but who loved fighting (baret that lofden) and made mischief (tene that wroghten) in many a troubled time. (It's just a guess, as it's a long time ago that I looked at this, but I doubt that 'mischief' has quite the right ring for that phrase.)

We have men who brawl and cause trouble, and then we have Arthur, in all the nobility of his person and of his court (lines 2329). It is a time of marvels, and of stories long told with lel letteres loken (line 35), linked with true letters, as are the unmistakeable 'l' sounds of that phrase in this alliterative verse.

And then the story proper opens with these lines (in which I have highlighted the words that we can still easily recognize to-day, even if a line like the fifth might leave us cold apart from spotting that the knights are doing something 'full many times'):


This kyng lay at Camylot upon Krystmasse
With mony luflych
lorde, ledes of the best,
Rekenly of
the Rounde Table alle tho rich brether,
With rych revel oryght and rechles merthes.
They tournayed tulkes by tymes ful mony,
Justed ful jolilé thise gentyle knightes,
Sythen kayred
to the court, caroles to make.
For ther
the fest was ilyche ful fiften dayes,
With alle the mete and the mirthe that men couthe avyse[...]

(lines 3745)


If you have ever seen the Douglas Fairbanks' take on Robin Hood, as I did at the Film Festival in September (in the magnficent setting of The Great Hall of Trinity College and with Neil Brand's and his percussionist colleague's performance of his score for it for a solid two hours), then you may have a sense of the sort of tradition from which he got that notion of what the court of Richard I might have been like, with jousting and merry-making.

Which brings us on to this word 'mirth', which is there twice (once in a variant form) in this Christmas scene, with Christmas itself, it is to be noticed, not lasting twelve days, but fifteen. All that memorizing means that I had remembered something right, and the way that the word is used (certainly the second time) does suggest a richer meaning for the word than we have for it.

C. T. Onions, in The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology that he edited (my copy is from 1966), tells us that the word is from Old English, and gives a meaning, for the 13th century, of 'joy, happiness OE; rejoicing, gaiety'. The word has, then, already started to divide between what the Sussex Carol means by it (the first meaning), and a usage in the 14th century, 'gaiety of mind; diversion, sport'.

I should check when Gawain is generally dated to, but have gone on longer than I intended that, and Onions referring me to what he says about the word 'merry', must wait for a later time. (Suffice to say that he gives an Old English sense (noted as obsolete) of 'pleasing, agreeable', and says that, in the phrase 'merry England', it was 'later apprehended as "joyous"'.)


End-notes

* The opening lines of Gawain:

Sithen the sege and the assaut was sesed at Troye,
The borgh brittened and brent to brondes and askes


(lines 12)


I seem to remember being told that it is thought that the choice of alliteration with the word 'brittened' is deliberately meant to anticipate, in sound, where the narrative is going next.


** A sop to the historians and others who claim that Britain was a political invention of the Acts of Union, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that willy nilly brought the Scots and then the Irish under the uneasy yoke of the English Parliament ?

*** Cleanliness is always said to be next to Godliness, but only in the [possessive adjective of the nationality to be spited] dictionary.