Tuesday, February 27, 2007

LINKS: The Uses Of Literacy, and Its Dangers*

  1. As many of you may know, when I was a teenager I had a Saturday job in Waterstones (well, Sherratt & Hughes, but nowadays they’re known as Waterstones). Obviously, as I like books and reading, it was an ideal job for me, and it gave me the opportunity to read the back covers of many classics and then pretend I’d read the books themselves, all the better to cultivate an air of sophistication and get the right sort of friends. Now, it seems, an enterprising chap has written a book that helps you feign a knowledge of great literature. Likely to be pretty popular in that it’ll save lots of people from wasting time reading things which they’d otherwise turn up their noses at, I’d imagine.
  2. As many of you may know, when I was a teenager I read a lot of graphic novels (well, comics, but nowadays they’re more commonly known as graphic novels). Obviously, I read books as well, but it gave me the opportunity to stay indoors and away from sunlight, all the better to cultivate an air of putrefaction and gather a limited number of friends. Now, it seems, an enterprising firm has created a range of scents that help comic readers feign a knowledge of soap and water. Likely to be pretty popular in that it’ll save lots of people from wasting time washing in order to prevent themselves becoming someone who everyone would otherwise turn up their noses at, I’d imagine.

*Apologies to Richard Hoggart

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hand in Glove

Now, it might just be my childish way of thinking, but is it really appropriate that this alley is right next door to a large building owned by HM Customs and Excise?

LINK: You go, boy!

I strongly recommend you read this article. Wonder if she’ll sue?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Marathon Man

What's that, to the left? Why, if it isn't a picture of me running a half-marathon last year. What's that you say? Half-marathons are easy? Well, funny you should say that...

I'm running the London Marathon on April 22 this year, in aid of Phoenix Futures, the people for whom I've previously walked on hot coals and glass (yes, yes, I know). They've very kindly given me one of their few 'golden ticket' places, so I want to repay their kindness by getting them lots of lovely money to help them with their good work.

So if you can help, I'd be very grateful indeed. You can sponsor or donate online here, which is totally secure and safe, and you can give even more with the magical Gift Aid tax-thing.

If you have any questions at all, please drop me a line at therunningman@johnsoanes.co.uk - and yes, if you want to come along and cheer or jeer, you can do that..

I'll be referring to this a LOT in the next couple of months, as I really want to reach (if not exceed) the target I've set, so don't be at all surprised if this isn't the last blog entry on this. I'll add a link in the column to the right as well, and indeed I may be adding some kind of totaliser-gadget to this page as well, so we can see how much money has been pledged, like the Blue Peter appeals which they used to do when I was young (and still do, I think).

Anyway, please sponsor or donate if you can. I promise all of the money goes to a worthwhile cause - I've been lucky enough to meet one of the people who Phoenix have helped, and even to a hardened cynic like me, it was incredible to see how pleased he was that his life had changed, and that instead of the drugs ruling his life, that he was now back in control of his life, and proud of the direction he was heading.

So please help if you can. Thanks!

Stray Thoughts I Taw A Puddy Tat

  1. Rather alarmingly, I heard someone on TV the other day saying she was a 'would-be WAG' (that's Wife and Girlfriend, for those of you who - rightly enough - don't want to start using journalistese in conversation). So her aim in life was to be the wife or girlfriend (I can see why that acronym's never caught on), presumably of a footballer or someone in a similar financial position to give her money to spend on clothes and shoes and so on. I say that this is alarming because ... well, surely it isn't a good thing that people are actively planning to be a hanger-on to someone else this way? Is this any kind of goal to have? It sounds much more like a Plan B (well, one would hope Z, really), to resort to only once you've actually made an effort to achieve something with your life in your own right, as opposed to just going "ah well, I'll let someone else give me money in exchange for..." well, exactly. It's the thin end of a wedge which makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
  2. Recent experiences have suggested to me that Myspace and the like can become horribly incestuous 'environments', and in some cases can become a bit too much like a substitute for a phone call or a meet-up with a cup of tea. Oh, I'm not kidding, some people can get seriously daft about it all. And this chap appears to have reached a similar conclusion, really...
  3. Really enjoyed the mixing on DJ Food's "Raiding The 20th Century", which is an hour-long music mix containing some frankly unlikely merging of well-known tracks, linked by commentary from Paul Morley (who coined the title in the early 80s as a project for he and Trevor Horn to work on - sadly, it never came to anything). But it's a fascinating item, especially the Nirvana-Destiny's Child mash-up (as I believe the young people call such a thing). You can find it at a variety of places on the interweb to download as an mp3 - here's where I downloaded it, though a quick Google will show you other places. I strongly recommend that you give it a listen - it's fun, but also feels a bit like a historical document...
  4. Oh look, the first letter of the preceding paragraphs gives us the three Rs - who said that my blog wasn't educational?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

LINKS: Bill Hicks was right about Marketing and Advertising, it seems

It’s about time for this, quite frankly. Only a slightly more dubious qualification than those ‘MAs’ which people at Oxford and Cambridge get given as a matter of course and with no further study, to my mind, but of course I’m an academic snob. Though I prefer to call it ‘maintaining standards’.

And though this is rather old, it’s a startling and appalling insight into the methods and sometimes the depths that firms will go to in order to ‘build brands’ (read: flog stuff).

Friday, February 09, 2007

My Silly Feelings For Snow*

As London recovers from a fall of frozen water from the sky, bizarre and never seen before in the month of February, and the transport systems react with dismay and amazement, I can't help but be reminded of the famous(ish) letter which W.S.Gilbert (of '... and Sullivan' fame) wrote to the Times of 28 September 1897.

To see what I mean, merely imagine every reference to 'Saturday' to be a reference to snow in the following:

"In the face of Saturday the officials of the company stand helpless and appalled. This day, which recurs at stated and well-ascertained intervals, is treated as a phenomenon entirely outside the ordinary operations of nature, and, as a consequence, no attempt whatever is made to grapple with its inherent difficulties.
To the question, "What has caused the train to be so late?" the officials reply, "It is Saturday"--as who should say, "It is an earthquake."

... over a century has passed, and it appears the situation has, like the trains themselves, hardly moved forward a great deal.

*Apologies to Peter Hoeg

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and...

This claim was on the packet of some printable labels I was using at work the other day.

How do they know? I mean, unless they're giving away half a free arm with the labels, how on earth could this statistic be even remotely verifiable?

Stray Thoughts, eh ? What are ya, some kinda wise guy?

1. If I told you - and I honestly could - that I'd recently found myself typing the word 'thoguth' a lot, you could reasonably think that I was working on a short story set in H.P.Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The truth is more mundane; my hands appear to have forgotten how to type the word 'thought'.

2. I'm not proud of it in any way, but I have become almost addicted to watching trash like X-Factor and American Idol. Like many people, I'm not interested in the final outcome, as I don't need any more cabaret-level cover-singing six-months-and-then-gone singers in my life (Sneddon, Parks, Ward, and so on). What I do need more of, though, is the insane and untalented ones, where the people seem to be powered solely by delusion and uncritical family support. Oh, and the dignity-free folks who beg for a chance when they have all the singing ability of a slightly wet flannel. That, my friends, is what I like to see... which sits, I know, very badly with my wish for people to be vetted for talent BEFORE they make it onto the screen. However, I think the comedy value of it may be the exceptional factor (see what I did there?) here.

3. This suggests a remake where the point's once again being well and truly missed, rather like the recent abortive Coupling USA-stylee, and even moreso the two tries in the USA to remake Fawlty Towers, one of which removed the character of Basil. No, seriously.

4. It's just over a week to Valentine's Day, so if there's someone you'd like to send something to, this is a good time to start thinking about it. You could, of course, wait until the morning of the day itself, and then run round like an anniversary-forgetting-husband in a 1970s sitcom, but unless you're actually going to have music and a laugh track accompanying your actions, it's probably not such a good idea.

5. The link will follow soon so you can sponsor me, but just to confirm for those of you who've asked, yes, I am in training for the Marathon. I've eschewed Diet Coke since the start of the year, and I'll be giving up chocolate, in all its forms, for Lent. Not for religious reasons, but simply calorific ones. Granted, giving it up may well lead me to be found shaking and cold-sweating in an alley, but I think my waistline and my running feet will thank me for it, even if my serotonin levels do drop in a scary way.

6. Sherlock Soanes Dept: whilst I didn't blog about it at the time as I only intermittently put comic stuff here, I can honestly say that, in relation to DC Comics' 52, I guessed who Supernova was a couple of weeks after he was first introduced. No, really, hand on heart I did - in the same way that I guessed Judge Dredd was The Dead Man back in 1989 or so. Mind you, I didn't guess who was behind it all in Watchmen, so maybe my comic detection powers only apply to weekly publications.