Tuesday, 30 March 2004

A Post About The Blog

Just to remind myself, and whoever else is looking at this (quite possibly no-one), that I've added links to a few of my favourite places on the web to the grey bar on the right hand side. I've also made a couple of cosmetic changes, but they are barely noticable.

Turning the Tide

Noam Chomsky has a weblog.

Ya Gotta have Faith

The Faith-Based Presidency. Quite a slap down. You can almost feel the writer restraning himself, until the last bit:

Jesus will save George W. Bush, and here's hoping he has some saving left over for the country. We'll need it to get through a second term of George W. Bush.

Blistering Barnacles

Or words to that effect.
Anyway, apparently reading Tintin is almost like being there. Hergé, it seems, didn't just make stuff up, he did research, too.

Saturday, 27 March 2004

Wednesday, 24 March 2004

Value-added

I'm not entirely sure about the Plain English Campaign. Their mission as "an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English" is entirely admirable, but there's a nagging suspicion that they're made-up of the sort of fuddy-duddy language pedants that you'd stop drinking in certain pubs to avoid.

Anyway, they've published a list of irritating and over-used phrases that should be avoided by careful speakers. People really don't like other people saying "at the end of the day", "at this moment in time", "like" and "With all due respect". I can't really argue with any of the other choices, either.

The Guardian uses this as an excuse for a little space filling by cutting and pasting the phrases into a speech by Churchill. It starts off fun but ends up being teeth-grindingly annoying. Perhaps that was the point...

The Dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide...

... Is a very old joke that probably didn't originate on the Internet, but certainly got passed around on there a lot.

Anyway someone in a position to get publicly humiliated by doing something about it was on the verge of doing something about it in California.
The Guardian was there to laugh at them.

Tuesday, 23 March 2004

The Dark Materials debate: life, God, the universe...

In a follow up (first one!) to my previous post on His Dark Materials, here's the transcript of a debate (well, more of a cosy chat really) between Pullman and Williams about, you know, what it's all about. A high point for me was Pullman's pondering on Lethal Jesus:

What fascinates me about the phenomenon, is that churches apparently are spending thousands of pounds buying, block booking tickets and giving them away to atheists in the hope that by seeing someone tortured to death we'll reform.

Monday, 22 March 2004

Jesus Battles Zombies at the U.S. Box Office

Now there's a film I'd pay to see...
The article itself is disappointingly about the weekend Box Office receipts in the US.

Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Point & Clicky goodness

Get over your sadness at the cancellation of Sam & Max 2, by downloading ScummVM and playing a load of old Lucasarts games in a safe windows environments. Also check out the extras for freeware copies of Beneath a Steel Sky and Flight of the Amazon Queen.

Topless Lego!!!

Mature images Legoland builder's inside joke. I'm just disappointed that there's no pictures...

So we can all pretend we're Johnny Depp

Sid Meier is remaking Pirates! No mention whether it might appear on the X-Box, though.

Friday, 12 March 2004

'Thank God I took out the duck scene'

If the title of this Guardian article doesn't get you reading it nothing will.
It's about naughty silent movies, if that helps.

Thursday, 11 March 2004

Detective Work by The Boondocks

US police put hip-hop under surveillance. I'm pretty sure The Boondocks was making fun of this ages ago. I guess it could sort out those who are "Keepin' It Real" from those who are just carefully constructed studio products.

Although when it says:

"They were trained what to look for in the lyrics, what to look for when they go to hip-hop concerts, what radio stations and TV stations to monitor to keep abreast of any rift between these rappers."

You do have to just ruefully shake your head and hope someone has a whisper in the right persons' ear at some point. May be something like "You know Eric Clapton never did actually shoot a sheriff..."

Bombers wreak havoc in Madrid, Americans Rush to Compare it to 9/11

Boing Boing is a blog that I like a lot, but for some reason this got my goat:
As it was here in New York, in Spain everything will now be spoken of in terms of "before March 11," and after.

What's happened is shocking and terrible. Overblown statements like the above somehow manage to achieve the opposite of their intent, though, and belittle what's going on by appearing to resort to pat human responses.
Could just be me, though.

No Need To Blow Your Own Anymore

A trumpet-playing robot has been developed by Toyota.

Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Kill God. Let Them All Sort It Out.

A whole article on His Dark Materials without mentioning just how cool armoured bears are...
It is, though, a look at how the atheism of the book (and now play) may not be all that it seems.

A modern French Christian writer spoke about "purification by atheism" - meaning faith needed to be reminded regularly of the gods in which it should not believe. I think Pullman and Wright do this very effectively for the believer. I hope too that for the non-believing spectator, the question may somehow be raised of what exactly the God is in whom they don't believe.

'Darling boy, call me Larry'

Dennis Quilley, who died last October, looks familiar, but currently I can't place him. However, this article has a very funny anecdote about his time with Olivier and Anthony Hopkins.

In 1972, I was treated to a display of another aspect of Larry's protean personality - his monumental anger. Anthony Hopkins was playing Macbeth, Diana Rigg was Lady Macbeth, and I was playing Banquo. Tony is a wonderful actor - but by his own admission he lacked the mental and emotional stamina needed every night in the theatre. On top of this was his freely admitted over-reliance on the booze to keep him going.

During early rehearsals his Macbeth seemed to be developing well, but at some point he lost it, and on the opening night he was not good. He knew he was not good, and most of the critics agreed with him. On the second night, he arrived in the wings, floating gaily on a bottle or so of vodka, and boomed loudly in that stirring Welsh baritone: "I wish I was a thousand bloody miles away from here, boyo!"

The stage manager's nightly report revealed that the performance lasted 25 minutes longer than usual. During that time, we were at the receiving end of a feast of quite incompatible ingredients: endless pauses; long passages of improvisation (some meaningful, some not); flashes of blazing brilliance and long stretches of the bored, colourless delivery of someone just going through the motions.

This went on for about a week. Then one Tuesday morning, Larry came up to the rehearsal room where we were working on The Cherry Orchard, and beckoned me across to him: "Darling boy, can you play Mackers on Friday?"

"No. Why - what's happened?"

"Tony's fucked off."

"Ah. I see. Well, I'm sure you've spoken to him, but would it help if I rang him and asked if he can hang on until I'm ready?"

He went purple. I thought he was going to have a stroke. Then the voice burst out with all the force of the entire brass section of the London Symphony Orchestra: "Don't go near the fucking phone! I never want to see the little bastard in this building EVER AGAIN!"

First Post

Paul's new blog. It's a pity I never kept the old one up, but there you go...