Thursday, 30 July 2009

elephant arts

The old Tlon space has become The Elephant Rooms, a venture by Corsica Studios (who are based in Elephant Road). It's loudly trumpeted in this rather patronising interview-based article on Spoonfed, but there's only been that one short exhibition it mentions, until now, as a new one opened today. It's also plugged on the E&C regeneration site here, which also leads to this article in the Guardian ('Elephant and Castle: The UK's coolest music scene? Something funny is cooking in SE17. And we don't mean the dodgy Chinese restaurants by the massive roundabout. Instead, glitch-hop, digi-dubstep, fidget and funky house are on the menu'), which references Corsica Studios in particular, but also links to the 56a Infoshop on Crampton Street and this set of photos on its own website relating to the regeneration, which I'd seen before.

The space a couple along seemed like it might be being set up for something arty too; the Corsica Studios site implies they'll be using more than one empty unit.

Monday, 27 July 2009

golden girl: the divine olivia de havilland

Golden girl: The divine Olivia de Havilland. Olivia de Havilland is the last of the 1930s Hollywood legends. At 93, she tells John Lichfield about how she took on the studio system and won – and why she still adores Errol Flynn
- Guardian, 14 July

lucy mangan

Time is collapsing. I first noticed this when I looked at the on-screen listings for the film Super Troopers a few months ago and was told that it starred "Lynda Carter (Smallville)", then had to go hopping round the room shouting, "Lynda Carter brackets Smallville? Lynda Carter bloody brackets bloody Smallville?! Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman! Lynda Carter dash Wonder Woman!" To add insult to injury, I discovered that she appeared in just one episode of Smallville, in 2007. One two-year-old episode of a current TV show is worth more than three series' sterling and culturally formative work with bulletproof bracelets and golden lasso of truth 30 years ago. Please adjust your scales accordingly.
A few weeks ago, it was the 25th anniversary of Ghostbusters - silver jubilee time for a film that happened, by all internal reckonings, 10 minutes ago. So there is an entire generation out there for whom "Who ya gonna call?" is itself no more than the ghost of a catchphrase. You may as well shout, "Can you hear me, mother?" at them, or mutter about how there were enough said at our Edie's wedding, for all the light of recognition you will see dawning in their eyes.
And then, of course, there is Michael Jackson. Again, vast recalibration operations are required to deal with the fact that there are people mourning him who have no memory of playgrounds, parks and any patch of wasteland with a flat enough surface filled with children trying to learn to moonwalk, trying to capture the extraordinary fluidity of his Thriller moves - to replicate the impossible. I was at primary school when the glorious madness took over - so completely that even my mother's stated dedication before God and Grandma to isolate me from all forms of popular culture that were not centred around the Rovers Return or Al Read was not proof enough against it - but it feels like yesterday.
...
My friend Henry is 87 and - as we collectively concluded at his dinner table last night as he skipped around pouring us each another glass of wine to see us over that tricky midnight hump - has the mental age and attitude of a 14-year-old. Admittedly, that of a 14-year-old from his, rather than from our era, which makes him roughly equivalent to a modern fellow of All Souls, but again, this only goes to bolster the feeling that time is folding in on itself.
And what of me? I am still wearing clothes I bought in 1992, but this, of course, makes me look 106. I was recently asked for ID when buying a bottle of wine in the supermarket, but I am called madam everywhere else, which makes me want to throw away the wine and start drinking neat Botox. And yesterday I scrunched the newspaper into my despairing fist not once but twice. The first was on reading a teacher's account of how her 15-year-old students in Long Island hated Catcher In The Rye. "We all hated Holden," one boy told her. "We just wanted to tell him, 'Shut up and take your Prozac'." The second was when I read an 18-year-old's reaction to watching Springsteen at Glastonbury. "He's so interactive," he said. "It's been a proper experience."
- Lucy Mangan, Guardian, 11 July

the wizard of oz at 70

The Wizard Of Oz at 70: Emma Brockes takes a trip down the Yellow Brick Road to talk to those in the know about the making of a phenomenon
- Guardian, 25 July

a day in the life of an old people's home

A day in the life of an old people's home: Most of us will end our lives in an old people's home just like this one. The care is good; the staff are lovely. And yet it's hard not to be shocked by the reality of daily life here
- Guardian, 14 July

politics in the world vs in the church

I remember asking one person with ample experience of politics both in the world and in the church what he thought the difference between the two was. He replied, 'Well, in the world the politics are more honest'. I suppose in the church, even at our very worst, we feel we need at least to pretend to be holy.
- Josh Moody, Letter From America, Evangelicals Now, July 2008

tate britain's latest exhibit - a receipt from morrisons

Tate Britain's latest exhibit - a receipt from Morrisons: Tate Britain is exhibiting a receipt from the supermarket Morrisons that most of us would simply throw in the bin.
The London gallery, which is home to paintings by Turner, Van Dyck and Millais, is exhibiting the grandly titled Monochrome, by artist Ceal Floyer.
It consists of a receipt for 49 items purchased by Miss Floyer at Morrisons for a total of £70.32. All of the items are white, from cotton wool and creme fraiche to pickled eggs and toothpaste.
According to the Tate, the work is a reference "to the tradition and supposed purity of modernist monochromatic painting. A shopping receipt is a visually unimpressive record of a transaction. Displayed on a wall, we are invited to view it in different ways, beyond the act of shopping itself." The Tate will not disclose how much it paid for the work until the publication of its annual report in September, but three years ago the receipt was estimated to be worth £30,000.
Monochrome is on display as part of the Tate's Classified: Contemporary Art exhibition, a collection of the museum's recent acquisitions. Many are being displayed for the first time, including Jake and Dinos Chapman's Chapman Family Collection 2002, a collection of wooden carvings which reference the McDonalds fast food chain. Familiar works in the exhibition include Damien Hirst's Pharmacy, a room installation constructed in 1992.
A spokesman for Morrisons said: "For people interested in picking up replicas of Floyer's estimated £30,000 work, they are available at Morrisons up and down the country for just £70.32."
- Daily Telegraph, 24 June

Sunday, 26 July 2009

murdo mackay

I'm sure I read an article about, or interview with, Murdo Mackay in the West Highland Free Press some time ago, as someone successful with island roots; I wonder if they'll cover his criminal conviction:
Derby County fraud exposes English football's 'fit and proper' test - Guardian, 22 July

Saturday, 25 July 2009

what's trashed at arlington national cemetery

What's trashed at Arlington National Cemetery: Many personal mementos of dead soldiers are being thrown out -- a stark contrast to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Salon, 17 July

sunday ferries in the big issue

There have doubtless been many articles on the beginning of Sunday ferries, most of which I haven't read. This one in the Big Issue of 24 July I saw was pretty good: The great CalMac stramash: How the first Sunday ferry sailing to Lewis felled the last bastion of the Scottish Sabbath, by Adam Forrest

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

private eye

From last time's Private Eye, a cartoon of a human pyramid of prisoners with the man at the top climbing over the wall and one of the others saying to another, 'It's Madoff's idea. When he's over, we all follow him up from the bottom.'

Plus two stories from the Funny Old World section.

Sewing machine hoax hits S Arabia: Saudi police say they are investigating a hoax that has seen people rushing to buy old-fashioned sewing machines for up to $50,000 (£33,500). The Singer sewing machines are said to contain traces of red mercury, a substance that may not exist. But it is widely thought that it can be used to find treasure, ward off evil spirits or even make nuclear bombs. It is believed that tiny amounts can sell for millions of dollars, the Saudi Gazette reported. The paper said that trade in the sewing machines was brisk across the country. Rumours about the sewing machines have been spreading for days by word of mouth and over the internet, it said. These included rumours that foreign experts and companies had been buying up Singers. In Dhulum, it was reported that people had broken into two tailors' shops to steal the machines. In the city of Madina, people were holding mobile phones up to the machines, due to the belief that they could be used to detect the presence of red mercury.
- that's the BBC version. Also versions from the Guardian and the Saudi Gazette.

They also carried some samples from the Police Blotter section of the Lake Oswego News, amusing for being so trivial; it looks like the police's record of every incident reported to them, rather than incidents the police consider their business. Here are the blotters for 9 July and 16 July.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

in our time

I went to the Royal Society after In Our Time. I’m chairing a committee which is organising the public events for the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society next year. It is staggering how many institutions, organisations, countries, individuals are happy and eager to take part in what is being proposed. There will be in 2010 an avalanche of celebration. And so there should be. 350 years of one institution devoted to the highest standards in science is unique in the world. The Royal Society had a foreign secretary before this country had a foreign secretary. And that’s just a tiny Trivial Pursuit answer before the rest of it got going.

A curious thing happened, though, at the meeting. A few months ago, when our meetings started at 11.00am, we were pushed to finish by 1.00pm. I put it to the board that if we started at 10.30am it would give us more of a chance to finish the business. So we started at 10.30am. Ever since we have begun at the earlier time, we have finished the meetings before 11.30am, ie: shorter than ever before or ever in the history of this committee.

I asked Martin Rees, Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, to see if he could himself, or one of his Fellows, work out what laws were operating in this regard.

I had the usual honest straw poll in the House of Lords. One Lord came up to me and said, “I have never understood logical positivism.” I waited. He paused. “And after I listened to your programme,” – a convert! – “I still didn’t understand it,” he said.

There are still many honest men among us.

- from Melvyn Bragg's post-show email, the In Our Time episode on logical positivism on Thursday 2 July

'yes - but faster'

Haven't watched the Simpsons for years - the terrestrial ones all seemed to be ones we'd seen before - but noticed recently that some of the C4 episodes listing seemed to be for series we hadn't seen, so started digiboxing them a few weeks ago. Watched the first one just now, and I'd seen it before, but good to see them all again. Homer's changed his name to Max Power: from now on, he says, there are three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way and the Max Power way. Bart: 'Isn't that the wrong way?' Homer: 'Yes - but faster!'

Homer being invited to lunch: 'You like Thai?' 'Tie good. You like shirt?'

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

warning from london bridge history for boris’s living bridge idea

Warning from London Bridge history for Boris’s living bridge idea: This weekend celebrations are being held to mark the 800th anniversary of the completion of the first stone-built London Bridge. But why did the inhabited bridge fall out of favour?
- London SE1, Friday 10 July

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

ian paisley

Never say never: Ian Paisley has shared the top Stormont jobs - and a laugh - with ex-IRA man Martin McGuinness. His lifelong battlecry 'No Surrender' is heard no more. Ian Jack asks him, at 82, has he gone soft?
- Guardian, 1 November 2008

Extracts:
The picture of him as Northern Ireland's new first minister with Martin McGuinness, formerly of the IRA, as his deputy, an unlikely partnership of bitter enemies, laughing fit to bust - it must have surprised and upset some of his supporters?
He laughed. "Oh, I'm sure it did. I said to one of them one day, 'Do you want me to go about with a long face? Far better to have McGuinness chuckling and going about his business in a democratic way than having him as the head of the IRA killing people.' "
...
The state Paisley served as first minister is only a little older than he is, and it has never been secure. He remembered that one night his father had been taken off his motorbike by the IRA and put against a wall to be shot. "And there was this Roman Catholic man who came and spoke to them and said this man's a minister and his wife's just given birth to a baby boy. And he said you can take this man's life but his blood will be on you for ever. So they let my father off with a strong warning that he tell nobody. And he didn't because he was a wise man." He finished the story, laughing. "The baby boy was me. So you could really say I was rescued from the jaws of the IRA that early."
...
"You never had any doubts?"
"I would doubt the man that never doubted."
...
Would he go to the cinema now? "No." Had he ever been to a cinema? "Oh yes, I have." He was beaming. "The first time I went to the cinema was to see a picture of Oliver Cromwell." That would be the one with Richard Harris and Alec Guinness? "That's right. It was very enjoyable." Oliver Cromwell came out in 1970. Ian Paisley was at least 44 before he sat in a darkened hall looking up at a screen - one of the great universal experiences of the 20th century - and he has rarely, if ever, repeated it.
...
Recently on official business in Dublin, he'd been taken around Trinity College's library (which holds the Book Of Kells) by the university's provost. Did they have all 22 volumes of the work of Archbishop Usher, the first Protestant archbishop of Ireland? No, the provost said, only two of the 22 were held by the library. Ah, but Paisley had the full set! He told the story proudly but charmingly.
"So you're going to donate your full edition to Trinity College?"
"No, I am not!"
...
"Was Thatcher attractive to you?" (After the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, he'd led his congregation in a prayer asking God to take vengeance on "this wicked, treacherous, lying woman".)
"Margaret? I got on well with Margaret." He told a story of how he'd made her nearly smash a Downing Street chair with temper one night. "Things were very rough over here and she'd come in from a long debate in the House. Her hair had got the worse for wear in the day and she was wretched looking. She pulled her chair up to the fire and she kicked off her shoes, one to one corner, the other to the other, and she said, 'Ian, what do you want?' "
It was a vivid picture. "And oh, I was seething mad about a lot of things - people were shot dead night after night and I was very angry. And she lost her head and she brought her fist down on the chair's arm and nearly broke it." Paisley reprimanded her that prime ministers should not lose their tempers. Thatcher shouted that he shouldn't dare speak to her like that. Eventually she calmed down and, according to Paisley, asked his forgiveness. "I told her, 'I'm a Christian, prime minister, and I'm glad to forgive you.'
"She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Oh aye, Margaret Thatcher was a good woman. I believe she was sincere and honourable, but of course at night she was sore on the bottle, very sore on the bottle. I have seen her almost drunk, aye. She must have a very good constitution."

daniel radcliffe on poetry

Dan the man: He was a boy wizard at 11, and eight years later Daniel Radcliffe has left home, found a girlfriend and grown up. With the new Harry Potter film out this month, he talks to Craig McLean about poetry, politics and looking good in eye make-up ...
- Guardian, 4 July

Extract:
He's published some poems under a pen name, and although he doesn't tell me what it is, he provides so many clues even Dobby the house-elf could solve it. It seems to be Jacob Gershon: Jacob is his middle name, Gershon the Jewish version of Gresham, his mother's anglicised maiden name. Modern poetry and free verse "irritates me", he says. "I love people like Simon Armitage. He has such an immaculate grasp of metre and rhyme, if he wanted to do poems like that, he could. But sometimes free verse, for me, is for people who can't do structure. And when I don't write in form and metre, I become unbearably self-indulgent. It's what Robert Frost said: free verse is like playing tennis with the net down."

buzz aldrin and faith, and neil armstrong

The man who fell to earth: Forty years ago Buzz Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon. He was there for two and a half hours, but the breakdown which followed lasted a decade. He tells Stephen Moss how he has finally managed to fill the space left by space
- Guardian, 4 July

Extract:
The key thing when interviewing Aldrin is not to get too technical. He is a man who would happily fill the entire hour with a discussion of docking manoeuvres. I also make the mistake of mentioning God - he secretly took communion moments after the module landed on the moon ("My soul didn't belong to Nasa," he says) - and he gives me an impenetrable 10-minute explanation of the evolution of his faith. He is nothing if not systematic, which is great for the meticulous planning of moon landings, less good for quick life surveys. But get him off technicalities and AA-style moral lessons, and he is far more articulate and engaging than most interviewers would have you believe.
...
Whatever happened to Neil Armstrong?
Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, is intensely private and, in the eyes of the media, unforgivably normal. He is the JD Salinger of space exploration: the super-celebrity who shuns publicity. Having uttered the immortal line, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind," he hasn't felt the need to say anything significant since.
It was thought that Buzz Aldrin, as pilot of the lunar module, would be first out, but according to James Hansen's biography of Armstrong, existing practice was overturned because Nasa chiefs realised the first man on the moon would have to bear the burden of fame for a lifetime and preferred the undemonstrative, ego-free Armstrong.
He retired from Nasa in 1971 to become professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he remained until 1979. Since then he has held numerous corporate directorships and, uncharacteristically, appeared in an ad campaign for Chrysler (reportedly to help the ailing firm, rather than for the cash). He lives with his second wife on a farm in southern Ohio, suspicious of fans and autograph hunters since discovering in 2005 that his barber had sold some of his hair to a collector for $3,000.

andrew adonis and faith

'I sense a mood of optimism and real excitement': The six years he spent in a children's home shaped his education policy. It may also explain why the transport minister Andrew Adonis is still brimming with enthusiasm for his new job, despite the collapse of National Express
- Guardian, 4 July

Extract:
Kingham Hill must have been a transforming experience? "Yes, six years in a children's home made quite a big impression on me as well. Oxford did too. Oxford gave me the self-confidence that I could go into politics and hold my own with people who'd been to the great public schools ... and all that."

But it was the school that turned him into a Christian, which he still is - perhaps a rarity amongst British politicians who, when asked the question "are you ...?", will give the direct answer, "yes".

He and his wife (a marketing executive with Procter & Gamble) are active members of their local Anglican church in Islington. "It's what gave me a passion for good schools, the ones that focus on helping the individual whatever their talent. They do more to make the world a better place than anything else. And the commitment of the church to education in this country has been overwhelmingly positive."

When his two children leave their state primary they'll enrol at Islington's first city academy - sponsored by the Church of England - where his wife is a governor. He likes to see it as proving the worth of his earlier work with Blair. "Islington used to be a by-word for educational disaster. A generation ago, people like me would have been trying to get our children out, and they're now very happy indeed to send them to local secondary schools. It tells you how much has improved."

I would say this is an optimistic view, not borne out in conversations with too many Islington parents, but Adonis is a glass half-full kind of person, with a lot of the aesthetic optimist in him. He isn't - pace Islington - easily accused of hypocrisy. "I've always taken the view that you've got to practice what you preach. You cannot be passionate about state education unless you use it, you cannot be passionate about public transport unless it's an important part of your life," he says.

listed londoner questions

These are the fifteen Listed Londoner questions from the Robert Elms programme on BBC London radio. I'll answer them someday; I've mentally answered some of them while listening to the feature on the programme (and now the podcast, which I've just discovered). As opposed to answered mentally.

1) What's your favourite neighbourhood?
2) What's your favourite building?
3) What's your most hated building?
4) What’s the best view in London?
5) What's your favourite open space?
6) What's the most interesting shop?
7) What's your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
8) What's been your most memorable night out in London?
9) How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London?
10) Where would you take someone visiting from out of town?
11) What's the worst journey you've had to make in London?
12) What's your personal London landmark?
13) Who's your favourite fictional Londoner?
14) What's your favourite London film, book or documentary?
15) If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

death in the stocks

Today finished Death In The Stocks by Georgette Heyer - nice light detective novel, with light banter from the toffs who treat the whole thing as a game and the policeman as an inconvenience, while the policemen treat the toffs not subserviently but with a mostly amused tolerance. As often, as much an insight into the society of the day as a detective story - I think you can learn more about a society from its light literature rather than those novels which purport to be primarily about the contemporary society.

Some links. Amazon.com customer reviews. An extract on georgette-heyer.com. The Fantastic Fiction page (a secondhand book aggregator, but often brings up a nice range of covers). Amazon.co.uk page.

I shall have to make a list to keep track of which I've read.

radio times film facts - straight story and ai

The Radio Times film previews section often has interesting little facts about one film per day. Of the main actor in The Straight Story, they said 'Former stuntman Richard Farnsworth said his proudest achievement as an actor was to have never sworn in a movie.' According to Wikipedia, his film career began in 1937, and that he died at his own hand the year after The Straight Story.

And of AI: Artificial Intelligence, they say 'Original director Stanley Kubrick delayed making the film until the android child could be played by an actual robot. He died in 1999.'

pr and prejudice: why rape story erred

PR and prejudice: why rape story erred
- another fine Bad Science column from Ben Goldacre in the Guardian, 4 July

Extracts:
There is nothing like science for giving that objective, white-coat flavoured legitimacy to your prejudices, so it must have been a great day for Telegraph readers when they came across the headline: "Women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists."
...
I rang Sophia Shaw at the University of Leicester. She was surprised to have been presented as an expert scientist on the pages of the Daily Telegraph, as she is an MSc student, and this was her dissertation project. Also it was not finished. "My findings are very preliminary," she said.
...
But more than that, she told me, every single one of the first four statements made by the Telegraph was an unambiguous, incorrect, misrepresentation of her findings.
Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped? "This is completely inaccurate," Shaw said. "We found no difference whatsoever. The alcohol thing is also completely wrong: if anything, we found that men reported they were willing to go further with women who are completely sober."
And what about the Telegraph's next claim, or rather, the paper's reassuringly objective assertion, that it is scientists who claim that women who dress provocatively are more likely to be raped?
"We have found that people will go slightly further with women who are provocatively dressed, but this result is not statistically significant. Basically you can't say that's an effect, it could easily be the play of chance. I told the journalist it isn't one of our main findings, you can't say that. It's not significant, which is why we're not reporting it in our main analysis."
So who do we blame for this story, and what do we do about it?
Shaw said: "When I saw the article my heart sank, and it made me really angry, given how sensitive this subject is. To be making claims like the Telegraph did, in my name, places all the blame on women, which is not what we were doing at all. I just felt really angry about how wrong they'd got this study."
Since I started sniffing around, and since Shaw's complaint, the Telegraph has quietly changed the online copy of the article, although there has been no formal correction, and in any case, it remains inaccurate.
But there is a second, less obvious problem. Repeatedly, unpublished work, often of a highly speculative and eye-catching nature, is shepherded into newspapers by the press officers of the British Psychological Society, and other organisations.
A rash of news coverage and popular speculation ensues, in a situation where no one can read the academic work. In this case I could only get to the reality of what was measured, and how, by personally tracking down and speaking to an MSc student about her dissertation on the phone. In any situation this type of coverage would be ridiculous, but with a sensitive subject such as rape, it is blind, irresponsible foolishness.

Later:
Telegraph apologises for stating women who drink are more likely to be raped: Newspaper reported the opposite of findings in research study
- Guardian, 15 July

Friday, 3 July 2009

hamlet - jude law

On Tuesday I went to see Hamlet at the Wyndham's Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse production with Jude Law. It was a hot day and evening, so it was a bit soporific even though there was air-conditioning, and I was flagging a bit near the end. Not much leg-room, and I and the folks beside me were glad the four folk in front of us didn't come back for the second half as we could put our feet up on the back of the seats in front of us or dangle them over. A lot of younger folk there, student age I guess, and a rapturous reception at the end. It was fine, not worth the rapture though, and no especially remarkable performances. Jude Law was fine. Penelope Wilton was rather characterless as Gertrude; more of an older mum than a passionate wife, as most of them have been that I've seen lately.

Reviews. BBC. Daily Telegraph. Daily Mail. Evening Standard (says Gertrude is 'dowdy', which is bang on; also says sexuality of Ophelia's madness underplayed, though I thought that was a refreshing change). Independent preview. Observer (conversely thinks Gertrude's the best thing in it). Guardian review overview. The London Paper. West End Whingers. Guardian (he like me appreciates Ophelia's understated madness, and unlike me another fan of Gertrude - of course I often suspect I'm missing a lot of subtleties from my far-back seats at the theatre). Times. Independent. What's On Stage. Evening Standard photos. Spectator blog. Rad Reviewer blog (in what appears to be their first blog entry). Sunday Times (whch asks the obvious when you think about it question of why we like Hamlet when he actually behaves quite unpleasantly - you could make him a very unsympathetic character).

As one of the reviews at least says, it was quite a humourless Hamlet, apart from the usual Polonius-related laughs. Nice to have a bit of snow in one scene. A dark set and dark costumes.

A comment on the West End Whingers blog: To quote Derek Nimmo: There was a production of Hamlet at the Old Vic in the 50s, in which the part of Gertrude was played by Fay Compton (the Burton production). She hadn’t done much Shakespeare, in fact she’d spent much of her career in a succession of light comedies in the West End. Understandably she was rather nervous on the first night. She got as far as the closet scene with Hamlet, and when she came to the line “Thou hast thy father much offended” her mind went a complete blank. But she did quickly come up with “You’ve upset your father dreadfully”.

And another: Also, “he does a lot of hand acting” – indeed, seldom can Hamlet’s injunction to the players “do not saw the air too much with your hand” have been so laced with dramatic irony. And you’ll never get a better gravedigger scene than Sam West’s a few years ago in Stratford (alas, it had been cut by the time it came to London), when immediately after the Yorick speech he turned to the younger gravedigger, uttered the one-word (textually interpolated) question, “Skullruggery?” and they started practising passes with the skull. Put me in mind of the Dave Allen sketch where after “Alas, poor Yorick; I knew him, Horatio…” Hamlet starts drinking a glass of water and then the skull ventriloquially begins to speak, “To gee or not to gee…”

Guardian Lost In Showbiz entry on Jude Law's PR trying to get a negative article removed, with interesting comments from some participants in the story.

Guardian interview with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ophelia, who I hadn't realised I'd seen in Bonekickers.

Daily Telegraph interview-based article. Extract: CS Is Hamlet mad or is he merely adopting an “antic disposition”? JL I think that the madness of Ophelia is important. It is as if Shakespeare wanted to show what madness is really like, in comparison to Hamlet’s feigned madness. But I think there is a moment after Polonius’s death when Hamlet does come close to madness himself. But he is also the wisest, sanest man in the play.

Had a quick look for other Hamlet-related anecdotes, inspired by the two in the WEW comments, and just found this Michael Gambon story from an Independent radio review column. I actually heard some of the programme, about the early days of the National Theatre, and remember that Michael Gambon said he didn't know why he'd been summoned to the great man's dressing room and hoped it meant some actorly advancement:
Gambon seems like he ought to be raising hell with Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole in the back room of some smoky Dublin pub. And he has a worthy O'Toole anecdote: the elder actor played Hamlet in '63, Gambon a supporting role. One night, he told Macgregor, he was summoned to the star's dressing room. "He said, 'Are you the one who pulls me out of the grave in the Yorick scene?' And I said yes. And he said, 'Don't pull so bloody hard. You're hurting me.'"

web site story, and other video clips

Via the Empire email, something from the College Humor website, which I've never come across before: Web Site Story, a musical tale of internet dating in the style of West Side Story, which is rather good.

Browsed there a while and also saw David After Dentist, a clip of a young boy a bit spaced out after the pain medicine. Freestyle Rap Battle Translated was also quite entertaining.

The Empire email also directed me to the Youtube clip of John Hodgman at the Radio & TV correspondents dinner.

london underground drivers comedy announcements

London Underground drivers comedy announcements: From public humiliation to surrealist humour, via audience participation and underground singalongs, the Tube driver is one of London's finest, yet most unsung, sources of entertainment. Here we choose some of our favourite moments
- The London Paper, 29 June. Annoyingly they have done each one as a slow-loading image on a separate page.

drivers to quote gandhi on tube

Drivers to quote Gandhi on Tube: The words of Gandhi, Einstein, Jean Paul Sartre and other great thinkers are to be quoted in service announcements on London's Underground. Transport for London has commissioned Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to compile a list of bon mots to be used by Tube drivers. Among the quotes on offer will be Gandhi's, "there is more to life than increasing its speed". Deller hopes they will make commuters' journeys a bit more thought provoking.
- BBC, 25 June

Thursday, 2 July 2009

technical proposal and budget proposal

OUTRAGED LETTERS. _Jordin Kare_ on sf grant proposals (_A263_): 'For the decade or so during which I was a freelance rocket scientist ("Will design satellites for food") I would often appear on SF convention panels surrounded by authors. When asked to introduce myself, I would explain that I, too, wrote both science fiction and fantasy, with the science fiction generally being titled "Technical Proposal" and the fantasy titled "Budget Proposal".'
- from July Ansible