Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Unexpected Benefits of Buying a Magazine You've Already Read

I bought the current issue of Private Eye (20th Jan - 2nd Feb), despite already having read it at my parents' house. Yes, it was a foolish mistake; a mistake, furthermore, that has cost me £1.40. However, this £1.40 was worthwhile in order to demonstrate the old 'a week is a long time in politics' truism. On page 8, following a long series of allegations about the drinking, lying, and sexual habits of leading Lib Dems comes the following:

"There are no drinking and shagging stories about Mark Oaten, MP for Winchester and one of the serious candidates for the leadership of the Lib-Dems (if that's not a contradiction in terms)."


Unless I'm being incredibly naive, and this is the Eye being knowing and suggestive, and using innuendo to such a high degree that it's all but invisible, but that's hardly their style. They normally just publish it, with as much detail, hearsay and cruelty as they can squeeze in.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Armando Iannucci; Time Out Rate-Hate System

I bring exciting news for those of you who have been ignoring the back page of the new smaller-but-fatter The Observer recently. I accidently caught sight of the back page of the news section in a mirror yesterday, and discovered to my great joy that it had on it a column by Armando Iannucci, about whom the internet will probably tell you a lot. They've been very funny, and if like me you have a mortal fear of the back page of a newspaper that doesn't contain either pictures of Sven or adverts, then you can avoid confronting your fears by looking here, here, here, and also here. Great.

Now, those of you who live in London will no doubt be aware that Time Out hates everything. Be it plays, art, books, music (in single, album or live format) or films, they think it's beneath them to show any sign of enjoyment. They've even invented a ratings scheme specially to systematise their disdain. They mark everything out of stars, which is conventional enough, but not five stars, oh no, they mark things out of six stars. This allows them to have the unattainable sixth star sitting there blankly at the end of the row, its very existance mocking all forms of artistic endeavour. Honestly, they had a meeting about this; just look at the minutes below:

1 Apologies (none given)
2 Belittling the Arts (6-star rating system to be implemented, mwhahahaha)
3 Wasting Perfectly Good Ink on that Knobshine Christian Subnormal with the Megaphone at Oxford Circus (motion passed: full steam ahead, cap'n)
4 Off down the pub then everyone? (motion pashed)

However, they've only gone and given a film six stars in the last issue, haven't they? You'd think this would undermine my argument, wouldn't you? It doesn't, because they felt that they had to point out the rarity of the award by putting '(six stars)' in words after the six stars themselves. It was probably not an event for which they'd planned.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Knee and a Chilling Encounter with a German

I've just got back from the doctor's after going to get my knee checked out. This gave me the dilemma of what to call the thing that I have. It's not really a cut. But then again it's not really a graze. I'd like to call it an abrasion, but I suspect that's just a term I've made up, so I'd feel embarassed saying it to someone who spent seven years learning terms for injuries. The best I could come up with is 'wound', but it sounds so grand and imposing I'd feel like I was cheating by using it. I guess I associate wounds with swordfights and gunshots and knifefights and the First World War. My tactic therefore, in order to determine what to call it, was to go in to the doctor and show them, and let them call it what they will. This involved mumbling when it came to the mentioning the cut/wound/abrasion/whatever and talking loosely about 'infections' and 'pus'. 'Shall I show you?', I asked, dropping my trousers. To cut a long story short, the doctor, without prompting, referred to it as a wound, as later did the nurse. Result!

They've put me on some antibiotics, which is embarassing to have shouted by the pharmacist in front of the whole shop. It's not for the clap, people, it's for my knee. My wound. Do you want to see it? Eh?

Just had a student come in, and after a brief discussion about a topic of little interest to even the two people in the discussion, let alone you at home, she said, in her strong German accent, "Now that you are here, you will have to suffer". Hmm, it's looks sinister written down, and now, thinking back, it sounded just as sinister when it was said. Brr. I'm not even sure it was down to the common view that everything sounds more menacing when issued in a German accent. I'm sure that the phrase, "Now that you are here, you will have to suffer", would sound just as blood-curdling if it were in a comic Mexican accent by a short fellow in a sombrero sitting the wrong way round on a donkey.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sir, would You Mind Telling Me What You Were Doing Between the Hours of 12 and 6pm on Tuesday 14th March, 1972?

Just in case you need an alibi to cover you for a particularly grisly murder committed between the hours of 12 and 6pm on Tuesday 14th March, 1972 and the police have just caught up with you, tell them that you were present at the recording of 'Would You Believe' from Roxy Music's debut album, helping Bryan Ferry in the studio, setting the mic levels and so forth, and bringing cups of tea (Brian Eno took his like a bloody builder, and wouldn't touch it until it had stewed for a good 10 minutes). This will get you off the crime. It was a long time ago; I'll let you off. Just make sure not to kill anyone again, and for god's sake if you have to: don't take their feet as trophies. The police only had to look on your mantelpiece.

This is the kind of drivel you think about when the last two pages you looked at on the internet were an absurdly detailed history of Roxy Music by the guitarist with too much time on his hands Phil Manznera and the Hansard reporting of a debate in the House of Lords about whether there should be a statue of limitations on genocide when considering the International Criminal Court Bill back in April 2001, prior to ratifying the statute of the International Criminal Court. Stupid internet, thinks it knows everything.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pictures of Prostitutes, the Golden Globes and Odd Newsagents

Sky NewsBBC.co.ukThe GuardianITNThe TimesThe TimesThe MirrorInteresting to see various news sites' use of stock photos to illustrate the government's about-face on legalised red light districts. Prostitutes' legs are a big favourite amongst e-Fleet Street picture editors. Bonus points for the Times for their almost arty photo of a handwritten sign saying 'model'. Question marks awarded to the Mirror (last photo) for what appears to be a picture of a woman getting into her car. Whore!

The story is either reported as a 'Crackdown on Kerb-Crawlers' or 'Mini Brothels Made Legal', depending on whether you're a glass half-full sort of person or not.

What the hell, exactly, is a Golden Globe? Why are we being told about them? Are they like a pre-season friendly match before the Oscars? The equivalent of an ITV awards ceremony where Emmerdale actually wins awards? Gah.
While thinking about newspaper headlines, there's a shop near where I work that has a local paper headline board outside the shop. It's carefully put outside every day, but the headline hasn't changed in months. I must go in and ask them whether there's any personal reason the shopkeeper wants everyone to see the headline 'Love Rat Strangles Girlfriend With Flex' at the expense of all newer news. Is it the extraneous detail in the headline he so loves? I'm surprised he hasn't added his own punctuation - 'Love Rat Strangles Girlfriend (With Flex!)'. Weirdo. That's the last time I buy a Kit Kat Chunky in there, I'm telling you.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy New Year

Yes, happy new year. Sorry to come across like a rejected Seinfeld episode idea, but I'm fed up of saying 'happy new year' to people. It's not so much the enforced conviviality as that you have to remember whether or not you've seen that particular person since December 31st 2005. It's considered, for some reason, terribly bad form to wish someone a happy new year twice. What I want to know is: what is the statute of limitations on wishing people happy new year? At what point is it socially acceptable to not wish someone a new year? Surely there can't be too many people unaware that it's now 2006? Me pointing it out would surely be unnecessary, wouldn't it?

I've still got my limp, but it's on the way out. I don't think I got enough respect for my limp. They don't come naturally. You've got work out exactly how best to limp in order to fulfil the triplet aims of minimising pain, maximising mobility and looking cool. It's a real shame more people didn't stop me in the street and say, cool limp - would you mind showing me how you do it? I'd've obliged.
Just been to a clothes shop, bought some trainers in the sale (inevitably brown), and noted that they had lots and lots of bizarrely oversized watches on sale. Huge. Far too big for the average wrist. Faces about 8cm across. It's like Flavor Flav designed them. I wanted to ask them in the shop, but felt it would open me up to accusations of uncool, so I left it hanging. Boo.