Saturday, August 02, 2003

Surely there should be nine billion?

344 reasons for the existence of god, via Hot Buttered Death (which isn't one of them, as far as I can see).

The web's favourite colour... green apparently. (via Burnt Toast)

Robbie Williams causes road chaos

Well, not just him...trying to get 125,000 people into Knebworth on a Friday night might have caused some of it. One of the main courses the media aren't reporting (at the time I write this, anyway) is that a lot of people were turning up without tickets, and there was no way of getting them (sold out, no touts in Knebworth etc) so they were bocking up part of the road as they tried to leave the site, resulting in the sort of chaos that meant some people didn't get in, and others didn't get away till almost 6am.

More SNP bickering

If you're in search of something interesting, just look at Scottish politics. There always seems to be something worth writing about. Today, it's the revelation that an MSP is taking legal advice as to whether he should sue his colleagues over rumours that he's behind a leadership challenge. You know, if other parties had followed this example years ago we could have had some interesting court cases: Portillo vs Major, Thatcher vs Heseltine, Owen vs Jenkins, Blair vs Brown...

Onion spin

It's one of those things that's not really important, but now the thought is stuck in my head, so I guess I should share it with the rest of you. Is this Onion article a good or bad thing for John Kerry's US Presidential campaign? One would think that having your campign featured in a not-entirely serious way in The Onion isn't a good thing, but is the fact that they chose to do the article on Kerry, rather than Gephardt, Lieberman, Dean, Edwards etc a sign that they figured Kerry is the best known of the Democratic candidates? While the joke might have worked better with other candidates (personally, it seems like it would have been better targeted at John 'did I mention I'm young and Southern?' Edwards) the writers of it could have chosen Kerry because they reckon he's the Democratic candidate people are most likely to have heard of. Or is my brain just melting in the middle of an extra-long night shift?

But if you need an excuse to visit John Kerry's campaign website, how does the chance to win a day campaigning with John Kerry grab you?

Summer reading

I'm sure we can all think of someone who would enjoy reading this book:
The future is distant 1992, and everything's gone to hell in a handbasket since the female coup (often for reasons that are not immediately apparent: for example, I cannot understand why a drop in industrial production to virtually zero should have caused devastating global pollution). Men are a subjugate species; they have their uses, but not many of them, and are expected to be self-effacing and subservient at all times. Jackbooted butch dyke security troops are everywhere. Heterosexual sex is prohibited except by special permit.

Husky hetero Keith Montalvo has sex with a like-minded colleague, and their crime is discovered. She's in hot water, but he's in serious trouble. He goes on the run, hides in the New York subway, encounters and joins the underground (literally) resistance -- which is composed of both men and women seeking not a return to male dominance but the establishment of equality of the sexes -- is recruited, engages in guerrilla warfare, is captured, tortured and sentenced to execution, and is unofficially reprieved at the last moment when the Mayor of New York realizes he is her long-abandoned son and goes to the guillotine in his place.
I'm sure Mel Gibson's already bought the movie rights.

Candidates, we got candidates, all sorts of candidates

Just to keep the interest of the voters of California aroused, as well as the candidate who's financing her campaign by selling thongs, they've now got Larry Flynt, a man not known for encouraging people to wear thongs. Or anything else for that matter. (via Eschaton)

It just needs the Californian equivalent of Screaming Lord Sutch to enter the race and they'll have a complete field of candidates.

Friday, August 01, 2003

From Elgar to Hardy?

Isaac, Silas, Jody and now Henry. Is Dave Jones signing players to give Wolves a chance in the Premiership, or just trying to recreate a Thomas Hardy novel in the Black Country? Unfortunately, Steffen and Oleg don't really fit in with this theory, though maybe he's trying to also get the characters for a comparison novel set somewhere in Northern Europe

A truly scary Arnie

At the end of his review of Terminator 3 (a film which all the reviews seem to agree is deeply underwhelming, and having learnt from my Matrix Reloaded experience I doubt I'll be going to see), Peter Bradshaw makes one of those flippant suggestions that's actually rather interesting:
As for Schwarzenegger himself, Emma Thompson was once jeered for saying his face looked simultaneously classic and compellingly modern. But it's true. What he should do now is a movie in his native tongue. Imagine Arnie shouting at someone in German. More scary, more potent, than anything Stan Winston's FX team could dream up.

Practice what you preach?

Dying is easy, comedy is hard

Oh look, the 'comedy terrorist''s Edinburgh show is on course to be a big flop, and he can go back to the obscurity he deserves. He's still got one last piece of press to earn, though - when someone dressed as Prince William runs on stage and gives him a big kiss. The only question is whether that will be a setup, or jjust someone trying to promote their own show...and then the cycle will go on and on and on...

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Return of the Morris

Channel 4 showed Chris Morris My Wrongs #8245-8249 and 117 last night. I'm not normally a fan of short films, but it was pretty good, mainly because it was more like an extended scene from Jam than a regular short film with all the pretentiousness that can sometimes imply.

But, it seems that Morris is working on a new TV series and has delivered a pilot to Channel 4, which is cause for celebration amongst us Morris fans and probably also for the editorial writers of the Daily Mail as it gives them something to fulminate about. The thesauruses are probably already being searched for new variants of 'sick' and 'sordid' to describe it - after they've watched it several times and taken detailed notes just to be sure how 'evil' it is, of course.

As Morris is working with Charlie Brooker (the creator of TV Go Home) on the new project, there have been rumours that there have been rumours that it's going to be a series featuring Nathan Barley. However, in a strangely Morrisonian twist, there are also rumours that these rumours were started by Morris himself.

Personally, I doubt that it is a Barley series. While there's no doubt the shock value of making a TV series about a character whose life was depicted in TV Go Home under the series title 'Cunt', just taking the piss our of a bunch of 'new media' morons from Hoxton is the sort of thing that would get a throwaway line or two in a Morris production, not an entire series. I think it might well be quite an angry series, given that he's working with Charlie Brooker (whose vitriolic Screen Burn column in The Guardian Guide each week is one of my favourite reads of the week) and that Morris' last work was the Smoke Hammer website.

Part of me is wondering 'what if Chris Morris had a blog?', though if he did, I doubt it would be under his own name and would probably be an attempt to cause controversy through a strange persona who'd regularly post items designed solely to cause maximum anger and outrage amongst other people while he sat back and watched them implode in a cloud of self-referential and cross-linked anger. So, no difference to what normally happens in blogging then.


Via Tom Watson, it seems that the Press Complaints Commission have received a record number of complaints so far this year. Still, they're obviously not overworked, as they still have the time to investigate newspapers when they haven't received a complaint, even when a whole range of newspaper editors think it's a foolish decision.

Staistics and the new Essex

David McKie's Elsewhere column in today's Guardian is a nice explanation of how to mislead with statistics, including one of my favourites:
Even more than your average mathematician, Singh has a mean line in jokey facts about averages. Take for instance, he said, the average number of legs in the population. One person in 2,000 has only one leg. That means that the number of legs per person averages out at 1.9995; ergo, most people in Britain have more than the average number of legs.
Incidentally, does anyone remember a column McKie wrote a few years ago proposing that Essex be split into two counties? If I remember correctly, he suggested the A12 as a rough dividing line with 'Old Essex' (Saffron Walden, Braintree, Colchester etc) getting to keep the name Essex and the southern part (Basildon, Brentwood, Billericay, Southend etc) being renamed 'Gormandy' (after Teresa Gorman). The Guardian's online archives don't seem to go far enough back to include it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Student politics

Unsurprisingly, Vivienne's What Kind of Student Politician Are You? quiz worked out that I'm a Lib Dem, and with a strange kind of synchronicity it allows me to recommend the film I watched last night - Election. Not only is it a good film in itself, but I'm sure anyone who's been involved in student politics will feel that painful tug of recognition in seeing some of the characters and scenes. Having also been involved in organising and running elections when I worked for a Student Union, I felt a lot of sympathy for Jim, Matthew Broderick's character.

Bewildered German tourists

This article by Jay Rayner on the British restaurant industry is quite interesting and a good overview of the successes and failures in it, but one thing in it really caught my eye. Apparently, one of the pub chains offers on its menu a 'thai vegetarian schnitzel', which to me sounds like the sort of food created by some demented robotic chef.

Now, I rarely go into the sort of pubs that offer Ye Olde Traditional Brewers Tavern Fayre type food, so is there anyone out there who has ever seen this on a menu, or even tasted it and lived to tell the tale?

California Voting

I've been thinking about this recall election in California. Given the sheer number of candidates there seem likely to be, might one of the consequences be that the Governor doesn't get recalled? Voters could well just think that it's either too hard to choose a candidate from such a long list, or that if they do recall Davis they could end up with a complete nutcase replacing him (and there are likely to be candidates in there who would make Hartlepool electing H'Angus The Monkey a perfectly normal election) that they'll just decide to stick with what they've got?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The power of the white rose

Just to follow on from the post below, it appears that Michael Vaughan will be the first Yorkshire player to captain England since Geoff Boycott (at least according to the list of captains I found here) and the first to be permanent captain since Ray Illingworth (if I remember rightly, Boycott was only captain because Brearley was out injured).

So, should England now go on to new levels of success there'll be lots of noises from Leeds about how it's because there's a Yorkshireman in charge...and if Vaughan flops as captain, they'll no doubt remind us all that he was actually born in Manchester.

Now that was a surprise

Nasser Hussain quits as England cricket captain. It's sad to see him go, but maybe he's right and it's time for someone from the new generation of players to take charge. It's interesting that Vaughan's accession to the captaincy comes in a very similar manner to Hussain's four years ago - following on from a poor World Cup campiagn, the captain's style seen as too domineering, a perceived age gap between the captain and the rest of the squad - it's strange how these things repeat themselves.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Disturbing search request? Or just weird?

Today, I had a visitor come to this site who was looking for the Michael Ancram appreciation society.

Alternate polling watch

Just looking at the latest state of the politics market at IG Sport and there's been very little change in their spreads over the last month, despite all the various polls and commotion in the political world. They still have Labour on a 345-355 seat spread, Conservatives have gone up slightly to 205-215 and Lib Dems are down slightly to 66-70. So, those who think that we are seeing the end of this Government beginning ought to get in there and get in on the action now...there's quite a large profit to be made selling Labour and buying Tories should Labour lose the next election.

In more conventional betting, William Hill have Labour at 2/9, Conservatives at 3/1 and Lib Dems at 50/1 to have the most seats at the next election.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

A whole world of ideas

Well, as some of you may well have predicted, we didn't finish writing the entire script in a weekend, but we've managed to fix the basic outline of it and get started. And while we talked about writing the whole thing in a weekend, I don't think either of us really expected to get the whole thing completed so we're happy with what we've done so far and we've got the foundations in place for getting the rest of it done in a reasonable time. One thing you forget is that coming up with comedic ideas can be easy, but actually getting them onto paper is hard - especially in script form where you're very conscious of the the space and time limitations you're working within.

I'd tell you what the script is actually about, but I'm excessively paranoid about someone stealing the idea. Not that I think it's likely, but until it's actually completed, I'm worried about someone who can write faster than us taking it and completing a script on the same idea before we do and getting to agents etc before us with it.

If anyone reading this is interested in scriptwriting, I recommend taking a look at Wordplay which is one of the best sources of screenwriting advice I've seen - it's been a lot more helpful to me than any of the books on scriptwriting (except perhaps Straczynski's Complete Book of Scriptwriting) mainly because, unlike most of the people who write these guides, the two guys who write it are actually working scriptwriters in Hollywood. And it's free as well.

But, there's one idea I am going to share with the world (or the miniscule fraction of it that reads this, anyway) - how to choose the contestants for next year's Big Brother. Should anyone from Endemol happen to read this then please feel free to use it (as long as I'm credited) and get in touch to ask me about my other ideas.

What I think they should do is this: on the first night send only six contestants into the house. Then, over the next six days send in the other six one at a time, letting the public choose who goes in - each day, put two or three people up in a phone vote and whoever gets the most votes goes in. First, it gives the viewers a greater stake in the show if they feel they've chosen at least some of the contestants and second, it'll make for an interesting view of group dynamics. We've seen before how new contestants can shake up the group and adding a new person every day for a week means that things will be constantly changing as the new people bring out different sides to the people who are already in there.

Oh, and replace Davina McCall with Dermot O'Leary, who's a lot funnier and doesn't feel the need to continually shout everything he has to say. But I'm not the first person to suggest that.