Saturday, 7 August 2010

private eye number crunching

11: People killed in accident on oil rig leased by British company BP, resulting in four presidential visits, a $1.6bn clean-up and the establishment of $20bn compensation fund in two months
15,000+: People killed in accident at Bhopal plant owned by American company Union Carbide, resulting in 0 presidential visits, no clean-up and $470m compensation in 25 years

$20bn: Compensation fund demanded from BP by American government for victims of oil spill
$7bn: Compensation paid out by American government to families of victims of 9/11

$2.6bn: Dividend from BP, now cancelled as a result of political pressure following accident on rig leased by company
$1bn: Dividend to be paid out to shareholders by Transocean, owners and operators of the rig, approved a month after the accident

$20bn: Compensation fund set up by BP for US victims of oil spill in Gulf of Mexico last week
$45m: Compensation paid out by oil firm Trafigura to 30,000 victims of dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast after four year legal battle

- Number crunching in Private Eye, 25 June

the protestant succession

Might just have picked up on this because I saw Henry VIII yesterday. Donnie Foot often has things worth noting in his column but usually too long to note. One of the things I like about the Free Press is that they will have columns by Donnie Foot and Brian Wilson taking completely different positions on the same issue, but never just for 'provocative columnist' effect, rather their own well-expressed and sincerely held positions. This week, 16 July, their shared theme was the Protestant Succession. Extract from Footnotes:

There is nothing complicated about the law itself. It simply states that no Roman Catholic, and no one married to a Roman Catholic, can be Queen or King of the United Kingdom. This law was passed at the end of the 17th century after the nation's bitter experience of government by the closet Catholic, Charles II, and the very overt Catholic, James II (James VII of Sotland). The detestation of both men ran deep and strong.
They had ignited a holocaust of terror against Dissenters in England and Pesbyterians in Scotland. Charles had added to this the crime of perjury, signing the National Covenant to secure coronation as King of Scotland in 1651 and then, when he became King of England in 1660, turning ferociously against all it stood for. James for his part had shown a marked inclination to invoke the help of the Catholic powers, especially France, to advance his own interests: a tendency continued by his descendants, the Old Pretender and the Young Pretender.
... The ban against Roman Catholics occupying the Throne was not the work of bigoted Presbyterians. Like the whole so-called Glorious Revolution which brought William of Orange to Britain in 1688, it was the work of those London circles illuminated by the philosopher, John Locke. Locke was firmly convinced that the first loyalty of a Roman Catholic would always be to a foreign power, namely, the Vatican: a power not only spiritual but temporal, heavily and skilfully involved in international diplomacy, and as determined to secure its own political ends as any state on earth.

I've been good to you, sexy sadie, this boy

An article in Word referred to Sexy Sadie being based on Smokey Robinson's I've Been Good To You. Here is the latter on Youtube. Not that strong a link, except thematically a little, and the first couplet, 'Look what you've done, you've made a fool out of someone'. As the comments note, there's also a chord progression similarity to This Boy, but it's hardly an unusual chord sequence.


Heard an interesting R4 documentary a while ago, via a podcast, about the art of making film trailers. I hadn't realised - though it may be different now - that the trailers weren't made by the filmmakers but by a little trailer-making company in London. Also, the famous title sequence image of James Bond being seen as if down the barrel of a gun wasn't originally in the film but was created by the man who made the trailer, who had the foresight to copyright it.

Friday, 6 August 2010

henry viii

I saw my second-last canonical Shakespeare this afternoon, a 2pm matinee of Henry VIII at Shakespeare's Globe.I was standing, as often, and there was less space than usual and especially less leaning space, because they extended the stage and had lots of steps - a little annoying, actually, downgrading the yard to just an extension of the wings, creating extra access points.

I enjoyed it very well; I don't know why it's so little performed, it was certainly more enjoyable than some others I've seen. I guess there is less action, more scenes with characters telling others about some event that happened off stage, and more set pieces of court and pageant. There's a good part for Queen Catherine of Aragon, and she (Kate Duchene) was the stand-out actor I thought. I don't think I recognised her; I recognised quite a few of the others, although not form anything in particular expect for one chap (Colin Hurley) I knew from the Factory productions of Hamlet. The most well-known actor in it was Miranda Raison, playing Anne Boleyn, who's been in a couple of recent tv series which I haven't seen; she certainly appeared more striking than the other ladies in waiting, but perhaps only because she was better dressed and made up than them which was a bit of a cheat. Henry looked like a cross between Orson Welles, Jonathan Frakes and Charlie Higson.

Reviews (more blogs coming up now in a search for reviews and I'm including some from the top of the search; also of course now there's the Times paywall). Telegraph. Independent. Guardian. What's On Stage. IndieLondon. Evening Standard. Ah, The Times ('archive'). The Stage. Music OMH. London Theatre Blog. There Ought To Be Clowns blog. Mark Ronan's Theatre Reviews. Londonist. The Bardathon blog.

A number of them, of course, mention that it was during a performance of this play that the original Globe burned down, and also that it was probably written in collaboration with John Fletcher. One review reminded me that for the first while I half expected the Queen to be squeezed out of her top, so tight and overflowingly upwards was her bosom squeezed; maybe this was alarmingly authentic. Some reviews didn't like her performance at all, some barely mentioned it, some liked it as I did.

So, bring on King John. Somebody.

david bowie and sgt pepper

David Bowie's eponymous debut album was released on the same day as Sgt Pepper, 1 June 1967.

not the nine o clock news

Watched an interesting documentary about Not The Nine O'Clock News recently. Of course from the days when a series had a much greater impact becasue there were only three channels. Most interesting thing learned was how Rowan Atkinson had been signed up with a ruthless agent before he'd even graduated, and how they'd hoped it was going to be a series of his own rather than a team, and how they told the others there wasn't going to be another series at the end of the last one because Rowan was a first division talent and the others were second division talents, so he'd be going his own way. Ruthless ambition.

The Oxbridge comedy mafia still persists, which is a bit annoying. Even supposing it is the cleverest students who go to these places, there's no reason to believe they should be so disproportionately funnier than the rest of the population, student or otherwise.