Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Gorillas in the Mist was a big Hollywood hit which centred on the true story of an American biologist campaigning against the poaching of Rwandan gorillas. And she was right to do so. Surely there is a better way of cooking them?
Some sequels would be cheaper to make if they were shot closer to home. A UK-funded follow-up to The Manchurian Candidate might therefore locate to Manchester, instead of carting all the film equipment, actors, crew etc. to northern China. Title: ‘The Mancunian Candidate’.If you’re a film company looking for cheaper, as in less classy, then look no further than following up on ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. Think a military man of the lowest rank, somebody like a soldier in the amateur set-up, the Territorial Army. Then think how far this type could divert from the notion of chivalrous. Thus, the sequel to ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ – ‘A T.A. Reservist and a Tit’.
Friday, 25 November 2011
Before photography, visual records of historical events could be covered by a tapestry. Perhaps the most celebrated, is the Bayeux Tapestry, knocked up to chronicle the shenanigans leading up to the Battle of Hastings.
Similar to photography, where it’s been possible to airbrush people from history, tapestry makers have been able to unpick people from history. But the similarities don’t stop there. The Bayeux Tapestry is a kind of haberdasher’s documentary. In one scene, we see someone doing that thing you do when you want to be hilarious and original at the same time by posing for a shot with two fingers behind somebody else’s head (fig. 1a). There he is, Herbert of Bosham, or somebody doing the very same thing to somebody else like the Venerable Bede (fig. 1b).
In another scene we see a photo finish (fig. 2), though it appears fairly clear which horse has won. Certainly in this day and age, a confident call at the stewards' enquiry.
The paparazzi of course would have been quite different. Gaggles of seamstresses at the ready outside the abbey ready to stitch at the drop of a hat the Archbishop of Canterbury staggering out after a night on the Communion plonk. But then, skip a few scenes and we’re again struck by the similarities between photography and tapestry. We see Harold of England with an arrow jammed in his socket (fig. 3). Obviously sewn later on in the battle after nightfall. A clear case of red-eye.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Apartheid is neither dead or buried. Those cafes that price their wares at higher Eat In prices than the Take Away are offering a platform to the patron who can laugh in the face of the Taker Away-er who doesn’t feel like he can justify forking out the extra to sit down and consume. Have those cafes not learnt anything from what happened in South Africa? About Nelson Mandela? The Spice Girls who met him and urged Mandela to never lose sight, after 27 years’ incarceration, of the struggle for girl power (see clip, below)?
The Eater In-er is in effect paying the higher tariff to rent, to linger at a property i.e. the café premises. It is perhaps the cheapest shot they can muster if they want to lord it over another claiming that technically speaking they have a very temporary and infrequent second-home every time they fork out for Eat In.
The business of what time you have bought through eating in has until now been an inexact science. But we forget that there are such things as charts. We can draw a up a chart that would tell us exactly where we stand, or in this instance, sit. The sandwich hand could then consult it. ‘What’s the Eat In mark up on the Take Away price on an Eccles Cake and how much time will that allow rent on the table?’ they might ask themselves. Scan the chart. 8 minutes, 47 seconds. The sandwich hand can act on the example of the pub barman at chucking out time. Seven minutes, 47 seconds into the customer’s Eccles Cake and the hand can announce: ‘Can you please think about eating up now, sir? We’ve got to be out of here in a minute,’ and perhaps back up the you’re-not-welcome-anymore message by using the publican’s well tried-and-trusted method of turning upside down a chair and plonking it on top of your table.It’s very possible that the Eater-In-er might counteract the request to move on by ordering another slice of carrot cake and keep doing so, each time his time has run down, rather like sticking another 50p in the electricity meter every time the power conks out. But there are those who will bravely defy and challenge the system, the Mandelas of this world. Brazenly opting to pay the Take Away price for their items, the rebel might then consume their panini and skinny latte on the threshold, thus almost eating in for the take-away price. Or they might start savaging their BLT as they head for the exit, technically eating most of it on the premises without paying the Eating-In tariff. And through them, one day eating in will be the same as taking away. Oh, and we will have girl power as well.
Thursday, 17 November 2011
You can’t respect or trust the film recommendations of video store employees (VSEs) unless there is within the store a distinct whiff of socks. It has long been argued that there are two sides of the brain, one side used for creative thought, the other for logic… or is that the other way round? Is the other side for creativity and something else...? Anyway, we’re either good at one or the other way of thinking. Similarly, VSEs have a capacity for film dissertation over foot hygiene. One side of their brain makes poignant remarks about the use of mise en scene in the Manchurian Candidate, the other says I don’t have to wash these socks tonight; I’ve only worn them three days in a row.
However, there has to be a fine balance. What is the acceptable level of cheesiness in a video store? Borrow from the colour coding system used to rate threats to national security. Red would have to be a state where you’re mistaken for walking into a cheesemongers (especially if you are lead in blindfolded). Amber, would be about right, a level at which the VSEs sock wearage puts them in slight jeopardy of contracting athletes’ foot.
Of course, any strategy is open to abuse. Be vigilant when visiting your video store that the VSEs are masking sock hygiene by secreting Stilton in shop niches, using a kind of system of savoury ‘joss stick-ing’. Usually joss sticks are called things like Cinnamon, Cardamom or Juniper, the names of children whose parents have bought a house in a Stoke Newington school catchment area.
FOOTNOTE: Take a look at legendary film buff Mark Cousins’ clip, below – a treatment on video bloopers. He’s so passionate about film, you can almost smell the foot halitosis.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Monday, 14 November 2011
Football is a simple game. The club with the wealthiest backer buys the best players to buy the league title. The top football clubs have owners made wealthy on oil (Manchester City and Chelsea), steel (QPR), and interestingly, the 1970’s detective show Starsky and Hutch (Manchester United). It was the latter team’s American owner, Mr Glazer who starred in the show fighting crime in a very big cardigan (see clip).
The oligarch owners are becoming increasingly unpopular with their teams’ fans, accused of putting business interests above passion for the club. But Mr Glazer, for one, flies to Manchester at least more than never each season to watch his investment play. This is him talking to another executive in the hospitality suite:
‘Are we City or United? Which colour we playin’ in? Are we the yellows? Don’t tell me we’re the yellows. Look, there’s two of those guys getting’ nothin’ of the ball out on the wing – it’s the wing ain’t it, right up the sides? I know some of this stuff. Then there’s that other guy just running around, might as well just be a spectator for all he’s contributed.’
‘They’re the officials, sir,’ says the colleague.
‘You mean all those other guys ain’t registered to play? What the hell’s goin’ on?’
‘I’ll find out, sir. Cold tonight, Mr Glazer?’
‘You should get yourself one of these cardigans.’
Really, football fans should adapt to the reality of the modern game, starting with the chants. “One nil to the Arsenal” could be substituted for “73.4 million in after tax profits for the Arsenal”; “You’re going home in a fucking ambulance,” made more poignant by QPR fans with, “You’re going home in a fucking ambulance manufactured from the sheet metal produced at our owner’s steel plants.”
Fans should embrace the commodity billionaires. The South Pacific island of Nauru was made famously rich from mining its rich deposits of guano, bird droppings. If you’re an Accrington Stanley fan and you find out the other one is the guano magnate of Nauru, you’re hardly going to turn down any offers to buy the club. And then, when the opposition supporters chant “You’re shit and you know you are,” it’s time at last to take a special kind of pride.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Not so far back in history, saying you were working online meant you were a knicker thief. Now working online can still mean you’re taking off knickers but not necessarily from a clothes line and you’re a lady charging for the service at a premium telephone rate on the internet.
As far as we know the knickers removal sees the lady reunited with the garment so in this instance theft is uncorroborated. And we assume the knickers belonged to her in the first instance.
A lot of research has been done into this sort of thing, accidentally. Often we may be taken to the wrong website when we use a search engine. We may, for instance wish to see listed pop groups comprising six members. We type in ‘sextet’, we make the mistake of typing only the first three letters before hitting the return key and up comes some unforgivable choices. There are ladies, for instance, sitting around in their knickers and brassieres asking you to pay some money to talk about clothes choices. Should we keep them on, take them off, or given the latter, when? It’s the sort of thing that even Gok Wan would probably be tempted to engage in (see below, for Gok Wan’s insights).
And that’s worth mentioning to your wife when she confuses ‘caught in the act’ with legitimate research.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Monday, 7 November 2011
The very first mission to Mars was completed in 2011, simulated in a space module parked up for 18 months in a Moscow research centre’s car park. Sceptics question the validity of the virtual voyage. But virtual is the new reality (isn’t it?).
|Neil Armstrong comments: 'This mission is one small step for man, a slight shuffle for mankind.'|
This was a well thought-out project, besides. Remember, the first space missions sent dogs up first to see how they liked it. Whereas, the Mars team knew that they could dispense with the preliminary canine trials because they already had good data on how dogs fare in car parks and how important it is to leave a crack in the passenger seat window.
Of course, a real flight would challenge the static cosmonauts way more, sceptics say. They’re not going to face the angst of falling chronically ill a million miles from an A&E, for instance. But they do run the very real danger of running down their parking ticket, of their module being clamped, or worse, towed away and compounded. Most of their communications back ‘home’ are also going to be strained. They’d be of the nature of constantly testing relationships with relatives and friends asking them if they could do them a massive favour and just go down to the car park with some coins, see if they need to stick a bit more in the meter.
So worthwhile or not? Once the dust has settled and the data collected and analysed, we will be able to find out approximately what it will be like to park on Mars.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Potential going unheeded happens a lot in human society. But there have been some notable trailblazers. Peter Stringfellow could see that ladies with big knockers would struggle to make it in areas of work such as deep sea diving.
‘By ‘eck, you’ll never sink with those buoyancy floats, loove’, he would say compassionately, and ‘What are you like swinging round a pole?’
‘You mean like being a fireman?’ the top-heavy interviewee would reply.
‘Like being a fireman. Aye. They need to ‘ave big chests an’ all.’
Peter Stringfellow didn’t write those ladies off – he saw some potential. He saw the good in inept lady deep sea divers.
Similarly, Steve Jobs, the man behind Apple computers was written off early on in life because he was dyslexic. Traditionally, dyslexics were used for writing signs for greengrocers, like ‘Tomato’s’. But Jobs started up a fledgling computer business called ‘Apel’ which he later spell-checked and the rest is history. Steve Jobs succeeded despite his dyslexia and became the legendary creator of the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone and the iMac. A fitting epitaph might be: ‘Steve Jobs iRP’.