Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Glutton for pun-ishment

The BBC is namedropping me like crazy. But when your puns are this good, how could they not?


On a roll

Schadenfreude

One of my contemporaries from school became a professional rugby player. One became a model. One became a poet. One became an actor.

Now I have another to add to the list: one has become a 'sleazy love rat'. I know this because I read it in The Sun newspaper. I had quite angry feelings about this guy at school, so it's rather gratifying to hear that he's been ridiculed by thousands of people online and in Britain's biggest selling newspaper. I didn't think there was such a thing as 'comeuppance' in real life.

Read all about it

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grade Expectations

A lot of news words have been thrown today at Michael Grade's 'dramatic defection' from the BBC to ITV. It seems to be another one of those occasions when the media community bangs on about a story that interests them, with little regard for whether any of the non-media freaks - who do exist! - actually care.

It all reminds me a bit of a stupid News in Brief I wrote for our class newspaper The Goldmine back at Hack School. [The sound of shoehorning can be heard.]

Media 'too self-referential', say media
The media is too self-referential, according to an article published in The Telegraph on Wednesday. Media insiders told The Goldmine that the media had gone too far: "There are a ridiculously high number of media news stories about the media in the media," said one. The media reported itself to be unhappy about the comments.

There is one thing that earns Grade an A+ though. When it started back in 1986, Neighbours was originally only shown in the afternoon, but according to legend it was Grade (BBC Controller at the time) who got the Aussie soap its 5.35pm repeat, thanks to his daughter's annoyance about constantly missing it because of school. And it's kept that glorious not-afternoon-not-evening slot since 1988. Now at ITV, 'the Gradester', as no one calls him, is reportedly set to get a £1m a year salary. That's a fucking steal.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pun of the week

The Mirror publishes new computer images showing unborn animals:

Womb with a zoo



More puns

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cool down

I've been catching up on the NME a bit today. The music paper published their annual Cool List this week, which, as you've probably guessed, names their top 50 coolest pop stars.

The list puts the rather obscure Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, at No.1. When asked for her definition of cool, she says: "Anything that's not cool is cool." Ah, the neverending cool-not cool paradox: messing with cerebral rockstars' heads since 1957. But what's this? Jump back a couple of issues to November 4, and you'll find the mag's Long Blondes' album review confidently proclaiming:
Only a fool would argue that [Long Blondes singer Kate] Jackson - smart, sexy and chic - isn't the coolest pop star around right now. And if they did, she'd eat them for breakfast.

Looks like Jackson, who finds herself at No.7, will be heading over to NME Towers to do some breakfast-time fool-eating.


Behind NME lines

Friday, November 24, 2006

Well aisle be damned

Bit of a shock today: I got an email from a good friend of mine telling me he had got married. Admittedly, I haven't seen in a while (five months?), but still…

I responded immediately, possibly in the process forgetting to congratulate him. He replied to the news that my girlfriend was now living in the same city as me with a couple of excellent lines which reminded me why I like the old scoundrel so much. They are below.
"She may well close down whatever Batchelor’s Hall that you are keeping at present and throw out all of your catamites and gouty port bottles. Alas, this has certainly happened to this young squire."

Those are the headlines. God I wish they weren't

Probably not massively exciting if you don't know him, but I've obtained a clip of my friend Tadich screen-testing for a newsreading job. Worth watching to the end, if only for the climactic paper shuffling.



A previous attempt at 'video blogging'

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Investigating Infantjoy

Click here for reviewWhat's that? You're interested in reading an album review of With by electronica duo Infantjoy? I've got just the thing for you.

[And before you say it, yeah, I know, they really need a style guide.]


More reviews I wrote using
various combinations of words

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lessons learnt from... Casino Royale

If poisoned, reach for salt cellar, water and home defibrillator.


More lessons learnt

John Cage

Today is No Music Day, according to ex-KLF man Bill Drummond. November 21, he says, should be a day where we avoid listening to music and instead think about what we want from it. As Drummond is both crazy and wise, I decide to do his bidding, to see what will happen.

8.45am: I leave home without my iPod, and as I walk the usual route to the tube, find myself unable to think in a straight line. Bits of songs keep coming on in my head and interrupting my chain of thought. The main one is Johnny Cash's cover of I'm Free From the Chain Gang Now: "For years I was known by a number / That I kept my mind is a wonder…" My brain is overcompensating horribly for the lack of melodic input. Too much music has broken my internal monologue. Now it sounds like a gaggle of deranged geese at a funfair.
Symptom: broken brain
Cause: music

11am: At work, the sound of Badly Drawn Boy's The Shining drifts over from someone's computer, and my hungry ears strain for it, before I realise that this is forbidden fruit. I close my mind.
Symptom: avarice
Cause: music

3pm: There is a moment of broken computer-related stress when I instinctively reach for my iPod, as I would reach for a cigarette in an awkward moment in the pub, or as I would reach for my piece when some lowdown hater disrespects one of my homies. But it is not there.
Symptom: addiction
Cause: music

5.10pm: I don't normally listen to music on the Underground – I drape my earphones over my right shoulder and around my neck, so they form a weird exterior vein that joins my upper body to my right hand trouser pocket. But without them I'm beginning to feel a new freedom.
Symptom: sense of freedom
Cause: lack of music

5.15pm: We stop at Baker Street and an unwashed man with his headphones turned up very loud gets on. His music clashes with the music coming from the headphones of the woman sitting behind me. I feel like a broken radio. I look out the window. A cartoon girl wearing headphones looks at me from a poster on the wall, a large smile on her face. The train starts moving. The next poster advertises a CD called Choral Classics. The next is for The Phantom of the Opera.
Symptom: paranoia
Cause: music

5.40pm: On the walk home, Boom by Akira the Don ft Bashy comes on in my head. "Everyday there's a riot up at E10," sings Bashy, over and over again. Then Mama Cass comes on: "You've got to… Play your own kind of music / Sing your own special song." I start thinking about the the great director Robert Altman, who has recently died. Echo and the Bunnymen's mid-90s comeback single Nothing Lasts Forever comes on in my head. I start thinking about Nashville, Altman's best film, which is, of course, focused around the country music scene.
Symptom: obsession
Cause: music

5.45pm: I get home and resist the temptation to put on the hi-fi as I take my hat scarf coat off. I go to the toilet and resist the temptation to whistle while I'm pissing. I go into the kitchen and resist the temptation to put on the radio while I make tea. Then I resist the temptation to hum. Then I resist the temptation to put the television on, as most programmes will have soundtracks. I switch the computer on – does the Windows start up noise count as music? I put my hands over my ears. I resist the temptation to start up iTunes. The internet isn't working – NTL should've fixed it days ago. I can't phone them though, because they'll put me on hold, which will involve listening to music. I look at the West Wing DVDs lying on the floor and think of the theme tune. I look at my guitar, which I'm now not allowed to play.
Symptom: cabin fever
Cause: music

6.25pm: I eat a Twix. It is delicious. "Things will be back to normal soon," I think, eyeing the CD rack.

Conclusion
Diagnosis: Music is evil and must be stopped
Cure: Twix bars


Another day dissected

Monday, November 20, 2006

Playing the game

Went to see a stage version of John Buchan's thrice-filmed The 39 Steps in the West End on Friday. The prodution was a lot of silly fun, and, with just four actors playing over 150 characters, also impressively professional. I think the word 'Pythonesque' has probably been devalued through overuse, so let's just say it was highly Pythonian.

Great opening too, as the hero Richard Hannay (played as a hammy "I say!" type English gent by Charles Edwards), ponders what to do with his evening. Trying to conceive of a "mindless and trivial" diversion, he suddenly announces "I know, a West End play!"

Reading up beforehand, I noticed a rather striking quote about the play on a ticket booking website:

"Exactly the thing the West End has been waiting for" The Observer

Erm, not quite. Thanks to The Guardian's liberal online archiving policy, it's quite easy to dig up the original review, which says this:

"It is its own strange small thing. Which could be exactly the thing the West End has been waiting for."

Sneaky. But then again, if the posters screamed "ITS OWN STRANGE SMALL THING", people probably wouldn't go and see it. Actually they probably would. People are idiots.


How journalism works

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More things to do. Stop saying I don't treat you nice

Do some free work for impoverished company Google. It's for the good of mankind! Play

Get up to date with Bathmatwatch; I've checked, and it's the best thing on the internet right now. Read

The unbelievably great band I saw on Tuesday. Listen

Sick of Borat? Here's some more. Watch

Search party

I know this is hopelessly unoriginal and I've done it before, but check out the search phrases that are sending people to this blog wot you're standing on. The world's gone mad!

  • similes on steve Irwin
  • chocolate covered heroin
  • funny boiler
  • russell brand polystyrene
  • "hip hop hip to the hippy"
  • goose thai
  • video agadir scandal
  • the biggest black box in existence. The website, which you realise is pretty good once you're in
  • flats tetralogy


ADDENDUM 17/11/06: send sms rice boiler

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rolling with the puns

My tireless campaigning in the world of puns has been recognised once more. Wooooooooo.


Do you remember the first time?
More puns

Unstable

My attempts to cut down on smoking are going pretty well, apart from the 21 I had on Saturday night. I hope I don't get 'ironic lung cancer' though. That's the one where you give up cigarettes, but get cancer anyway, even though all your friends are hardcore smokers and in perfect health.

Sometimes I think the world is constantly devising methods to get us to die (global warming, leukaemia, knifings) and we're not really living, just constantly dodging death. But those kind of thoughts are stressful and dark, and the worry is likely to kill you.

I can't hope for a noble or honourable death – that kind of demise has been denied to my generation by the invention of nuclear warheads and life-support machines. But I wouldn't mind going like Desert Orchid, the famous British racehorse who snuffed it on Monday.

"There was no stress, he departed from this world with dignity and no fuss," said his former trainer. "He did his dying in the same individual way that he did his living. It was time to go."

Although if I die in a stable aged 27, I think I could justifiably feel a little bit cheated.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dan pan

Things for you to say about the new James Bond, Daniel Craig:

"I preferred his early, arty stuff."

"He was far better in Our Friends in the North."

"For me, Enduring Love was his peak."

"His performance in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was sublime, far better than this 'Bond' nonsense."

The three ages of celebrity

1. Post-Madonna

2. Madonna

3. Prima Donna

Monday, November 13, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ghostsign of the times

Girlfriend's housemate's boyfriend, aka Ghostsign Sam, got some pics published in Time Out this week, as part of an article entitled Disappearing London.

Sam's been collecting pictures in London of 'ghost signs', with the noble intention of writing a book. Ghost signs, by the way, are those old skool style fading adverts you occasionally see on walls above shops (move your eyes leftwards for one of Sam's), reminders of an era when there were shops that weren't either Starbucks or Tescos. No, I didn't realise there was such a time either, but I've been assured there was.

Anyway, if you know the location of any good ghost signs or have a photo of your own that he could publish, drop Sam an email at ghostsigns@gmail.com. If your picture doesn't look like a piece of crap, you could be featured in his book!


Read the Time Out article

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Things to do. Don't say I don't treat you nice

More addictive than chocolate-coated heroin. Play

Record sleeves fight each other. Watch

Edmund writes about US elections and radiators. Read

The band I went to see last night. Listen

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stern reprimand

Tonight I was supposed to go to a lecture at LSE with one of my right-on "let's change the world" vegetarian friends and Sarah, who come to think of it, is also a vegetarian and quite right-on. I'm not right-on. I'm wrong-on. Or a wrong 'un. Or right-off. Luckily I'm not wrong-off, that would be disastrous.

I'd mentioned my plans to Darren at work earlier in the day.
"What's the lecture?" he asked.
"Er, that Stern guy," I said.
At first he thought I was going to see Howard Stern, the US shock jock. But I meant Sir Nicholas Stern, he of The Stern Report (aka The Review of the Economics of Climate Change). We briefly reflected on the comic possibilities of an attendee expecting an hour of Howard wackiness and instead getting the studied sternness of Sir Nicholas.

Anyway, when we arrived at LSE this evening, disaster struck: the queue was massive and we couldn't get in. My right-on friend got there early and still didn't get to see it properly - she ended up watching the thing on video link-up in an adjacent lecture hall. I was annoyed about missing it. And for some reason, my annoyance was directed straight at Sir Nicholas Stern.

Me and Sarah wondered what we could do instead. I started fantasising about buying a massive gas-guzzling 4x4 and driving it around for the duration of the lecture picking off passing polar bears with an ivory-handle machine gun, before smashing the car into a rainforest and shouting, "FUCK YOU STERN! THIS'LL TEACH YOU TO DO YOUR TALKS IN UNDERSIZED LECTURE THEATRES!"


The Stern Report

Monday, November 06, 2006

Swing factor

So despite his recently-acquired dead man walking status, Saddam goes back to court tomorrow to be tried for more crimes against humanity. This time, he's charged with the killing of up to 100,000 Iraqi Kurds during his al-Anfal campaign.

Strangely though, there seems to be some uncertainty about whether the second part of the trial will completed. If the former dictator's appeal to a nine-judge chamber fails (count on it), then according to law, he must be executed within 30 days, which may not be enough time to finish the second trial. Leaving the Kurds - the ones that are left - with no closure on the events of 1988. Or is Saddam's death enough?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Who nose?

Is there such thing as a small nose? People with 'big noses' and 'normal noses' are easy to identify, but I've never pointed at anyone and said, "Hey, what a tiny nose that person has."

When I put this to an audience in the pub last night, there was scepticism. So I challenged those assembled to point out any nearby drinkers with undersize probosces. Ghostsign Sam nominated someone, but I vetoed it immediately because the person in question was small themselves, and so the nose appeared normal.

"Just another story"

And speaking of the Stone Roses, there was a lovely little anecdote from ex-Roses singer Ian Brown, speaking about The Clash, in last week's Observer. Here it is:

I was at the recording of Bankrobber. Me and my mate Pete Garner were walking down Granby Road in the middle of Manchester one day and we could hear these drums coming through the walls. Pete was a proper Clash fan and he was convinced it was them. Then Topper Headon walks out on to the street right in front of us!

He invited us downstairs into the studio to see what was going on. Mikey Dread was there and we got chatting. They were dead cool. Joe Strummer was sitting in the corner with a big, wide-brimmed hat on beneath this big grandfather clock, clicking his fingers in time to it. Paul Simonon asked us what our favourite film was and then said [affects authentic west London drawl]: 'Mine's Death Race 2000!' Funny, the things you remember. Afterwards, we showed Johnny Green, their tour manager, the way to the record shop and he bought two copies of London Calling - one for each of us. I'll never forget it.

Full article

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Jackson Five

I've always loved the line in that Stone Roses song that goes, "Yeah, she looks like a painting - Jackson Pollock's Number 5". Now, instead of being a clever cliche-twisting quip, it's got a whole new meaning: something like "she looks like a million dollars". Or, more accurately, $140m.


Going Down lyrics

Lessons learned from... Red Road

CCTV and stalking are key parts of the grieving process.


Other lessons I've learnt from films

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vexed in the City

I'm in an Ethiopian restaurant with Sarah, who's just moved down to London from Manchester. It's a great place, but I think the waitress has taken a dislike to me, because I hesitated before ordering and so inadvertantly prompted her to make a suggestion, which I then ignored as it involved pumpkin sauce. Which I can't imagine being very nice.

Sarah starts telling me how watching The Paul O'Grady Show feels wrong in London because the presenter's so northern. Apparently Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall was on it the other day, promoting her new book, Being a Girl.

"That's not a great title, is it?" I say. Then I have an amazing idea. "Let's try and think up titles for a Kim Cattrall autobiography!"

Sarah doesn't look overexcited. I pause. If I think of a really good one, maybe she'll appreciate how fun this game is going to be. "Lateral Cattrall!" I shout. She smiles, slightly.

I pause. More. "Lucky Kim!" I yell. The response is underwhelming. "Like Lucky Jim, see? Only with Kim."

I can do better, I know it. "The Secret of Kim?" I suggest. Probably no one remembers mouse-animation film The Secret of Nimh, so this isn't a great one.

"Kims O'Clock!" Brilliant. Both cheeky and silly, but with an added touch of class. But Sarah only smiles slightly.

"Kim City! Tiger Kim? Er, Kim and Vigour! Are you not liking these?" I ask, a bit worried.

"I didn't really understand them, I'm afraid," she says kindly.

"Oh," I say. I am a bit disappointed. There's a few moments of silence. But I have one more up my sleeve. "The Cattrall That Got the Cream!" I say, with a flourish. She laughs.

"I get that one," she says. I am happy.


Who the hell's Kim Cattrall?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ttlly gr8 txts

Two text messages I've very much enjoyed in the last 24 hours.

1. From housemate Jamie, yesterday evening:
"Dude - your pic on p.45 of this week's NME"

2. From India Chris, this morning:
"Sitting at home with a cold feeling sorry for myself until I realised that I can now do a great Dwayne Bensey impression. I now don't want to get better."


An amazing factoid about text messages

Express yourself

The World's Greatest Newspaper (The Daily Express, natch) has an awesome front page today: "NOW CAMILLA HIDES POPPY | She IS wearing one, but you can't see it under Muslim scarf".

But why? Well, the splash nicely plays upon both the readership's anti-Islamic feeling and their World War 1 nostalgia, and rolls it all up into a Royal family 'story' which none of the other papers think is worth covering. Most cunningly of all, because it's critical of Camilla, it's also an implied Diana story.

And look at that headline wording: what do they mean by 'now'? Ostensibly it's the fact that the Duchess forgot to wear a poppy earlier in the week. But it also means: first she had the gall to marry the future King of England while Diana's corpse was warm, now this.


Front page here

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wimbo pics

Some more Wimborne weekend pictures, from the gloomy to the uplifting to the dour.

Glum angelsCheer up, gloomy angels!


Hello sky, hello butterflyHello plant, hello sky, hello butterfly!


Good ol' Wimborne MinsterWimborne Minster, glowering

Separated at birth

One's a grumpy bastard, one's a grumpy bastard, and the other you probably haven't heard of. Uncanny.



More slightly dubious lookalikes