Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Not The BBC iPlayer, But...

You may already have seen it, but I've recently been playing around with Blinkbox, a site where you can watch a variety of TV shows online, for free.

There seems to be a good mix of shows to see for nowt, including some Troughton Doctor Whos, pretty much all of Big Train and The Young Ones, and a goodly chunk of The League Of Gentlemen and Hustle.

You can see details of the free TV shows here, and they also have free films here.

You have to watch short adverts before the things start, but I guess that's how they fund the site, and I have to say they play much more smoothly than, say, the itvplayer thing, which I always find very bumpy and user-hostile.

Anyway, thought it was worth pointing you towards it - if you're looking for some spooky stuff to watch for Hallowe'en, they have a couple of older scary films and TV shows, which might be of interest.

No connection whatsoever, I just liked the fact they have free streaming of TV shows which I enjoy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

They're Just Like You And Me Really

Spotted at a London Underground station this morning, one of the new posters for Habitat, featuring Helena Christiansen.

The version of the image here is, obviously, much smaller than the one I saw on the wall of the tube station, so you probably won't be able to make out the detail, but on the huge version it was amusing to note that the penultimate book on the table next to her (the slim brown-spined one on top of the larger white tome) appears to be a graphic novel - or, as many of us would call them, 'a comic with cardboard covers'.

Specifically, it seemed to be The Little Man by Chester Brown, a collection of his strips from 1980-1995.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it oddly reassuring to think that, at the end of a day's modelling, Helena likes to sit on a sofa and read about a man sitting round in his pants and listening to the radio and picking his nose.

In a way, it probably provides cosmic balance for all the men who sit round in their pants and look at pictures of models in magazines.

Whoever we are, it seems that we're interested in the lives of others. As Sartre almost put it, "L'interest? C'est les autres".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nine Popular Maxims - Now With Added Experience-Derived Commentary

Better out than in applies to sharing of feelings, not flatulence

If you want to be popular, if you've got it, flaunt it tends to refer to cleavage or a six-pack stomach, not intelligence

Possession is nine-tenths of the law, but if you study it at degree level, don't expect to spend 31 months discussing possession. If that's your bag, you're probably better off doing an exorcism qualification

Revenge is a dish best served cold is most applicable when you're giving your nemesis poisoned gazpacho

Write what you know could be a hindrance if you're a science-fiction (or fantasy) novelist

Charity begins at home, but people who say it don't tend to be charitable at home or elsewhere

Dance as if no-one's watching may get you voted off in week one of Strictly Come Dancing

"It's the exception that proves the rule", when said, usually proves that the speaker doesn't know the origin or true meaning of the phrase

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but not when you're administering insulin to a loved one with diabetes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Judging The Book, Just The Cover

As comic creators go, I have slightly mixed feelings about Chris Ware; I've read his Jimmy Corrigan book a couple of times now, and whilst there's no question at all about Ware's talent, I have to say that the slightly formal and mannered nature of the art rather defused the emotional weight of the work for me. Rather like having a song of heartbreak sung in a voice so pure and on-note that it loses the human element.

That said, he's got a terrific eye for design (and indeed general innovation) in print, as is amply demonstrated by his work for the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine - here's the cover:

Inside, there's a four-page strip by Ware too, which you can read by clicking here. Worth the clickage involved, if only to see that not all comics are men in capes punching each other through walls.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

Originally found on Graham Linehan's blog. Graham knows his comics, as anyone who's ever seen The IT Crowd will know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ironically, It's The Eastern Section Of The US Writers' Guild Doing The Interviewing

I'm currently watching my way through all of The West Wing, and in general it's very good indeed*.

Much of the credit for this, obviously, has to go to writer-creator Aaron Sorkin, and I thought it was worth me pointing you to this link, a 2003 Writer's Guild of America publication featuring a ten-page interview with Mr S, followed by a copy of the pilot script for The West Wing.

By way of taking a look behind the curtain to see how it's done, I'd say it's worth your time.

*I haven't got to the post-Sorkin era yet, so can't voice an opinion on the reported dip in quality once he's gone (though I gather it finds its feet again after a bit).

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Comedy Of Errors Has The Joke Of Two People Looking Like Each Other. Twice.

So I had an idea the other day - yes, yes, I know, it's a real Dear Diary moment, ha de har har - specifically, an idea for a story; I liked the idea, and it seemed to pop into my head fully-formed, and I could see various avenues to it, and how it could be made a bit more real-world than a lot of stories, and I could see myself enjoying writing it, though there was one big hurdle to all this...

It felt like I'd stolen it from somewhere.

Now, I don't know if this is actually the case or not, but the way the idea seemed to (as they say in House) present, with a lot of features already in place, seemed a bit too easy somehow, as if I could only have come up with the notion by nicking it.

Anyway, here's the idea:

Two brothers - identical twins. One of them is murdered, and returns to the other as a ghost - as twins, they always had a strong 'connection', and death doesn't seem to have ended that. The ghost twin helps his living brother look into the circumstances of the murder, and it turns out that in fact the wrong twin was killed, due to the similarity of appearance. In investigating all this, though, the living twin would not find people co-operative and willing to let him in to chat, as so often seems to be the case in such tales, but instead would struggle to get people to talk to him at all, as they're still dealing with their grief. And of course, when he discovers that he was the target, the killer, at much the same time, realises that he hasn't finished the job after
Okay, so a couple of obvious touchstones are Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased) and the comic character Deadman, and there's a wilful element to the 'difficulty of investigation' aspect that clearly comes from me having seen too many episodes of Murder, She Wrote and similar TV shows, as well as a wish to do something crime-based but not with too much of a standard gumshoe element. So it's just a bundle of influences, I guess, but my sneaking feeling that this is a film or book I've previously experienced is enough to put me off writing it at the moment (in any form other than the summary in the paragraph above, I mean).

I spend a lot of time on this blog posting images I feel are similar - some of them clearly intended to be, others mere chance - but I'm equally interested in the similarity of ideas, and the way that two people can come to similar conclusions, or come up with similar notions, by what seems to be pure chance; granted, there are scientists who do work in specific fields with the same aim, which is perhaps more inevitable, and Charles Fort wrote about what I think he called 'Steam-Engine time', which was the idea that certain ideas or inventions have a 'time' when their creation is almost inevitable; being a pretentious sort, I'm rather reminded of the final lines from Yeats's poem The Second Coming, which ask "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

I always marvel at the inventiveness of musicians, apparently able to create new songs from the limited number of musical notes in the octave, and it's often claimed that there are a limited number of stories - the exact number varies, it seems, but it's rarely more than about a dozen - so I guess I shouldn't really be surprised that the ideas which flit across the landscape of my mind sometimes strike me as pleasing, but at the same time as probably being a swipe.

So anyway, I dismissed the twins story idea (well, scribbled it in the notebook and may do something with it in an altered form in the future, but for now that's much the same thing), and didn't really think anything more about it.

Until, over the weekend, when I was out and about, and I saw a pair of identically dressed identical twin girls. And then, less than an hour later, a pair of identically dressed identical twin boys.

Which wasn't creepy in the least. No, not at all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Too Late To Be Cool And Trendy - That's How Cool I Am. Oh Yes.

Take a meme that's already past its best, and a piece of news which nobody really cares about, and combine them, and what do you get ?


Interrupt your favourite website by using this choice application.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

If You're Going To Do Something Of This Nature, I Guess This Is Probably How You Should Go About It

I'm painfully aware that the following is just a promotional thingy for The Beatles Rockband game, something which I have no interest in whatsoever, but I have to say I think this is really quite nicely done:

The Beatles Rockband Intro from Stephane coedel on Vimeo.

If you can ignore the trying-to-flog-you-stuff aspect of it, I think you'll agree that the animation and attention to detail are pretty impressive.

Sudden thought: is this the first time I've mentioned The Beatles on the blog? Lumme. Anyway, for the record, I think they are really rather good indeed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Calendar I Spotted In A Shop In London This Morning

I almost admire their optimism in leaving it on the rack, but if it hasn't sold yet, I don't know if it ever will.

Don't know if you can make out the grey effect at the top of it, but yes, that is dust.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

(Talking To) My New Pen

Just a couple of things I wanted to share before they fled my mind (for if there's one thing readers of the blog will be all too familiar with, it's that I can't let a thought - no matter how irrelevant and trivial - pass through my mind without sharing it):

THING THE FIRST: In meetings at work, I frequently find that people will do presentations using either papers or slides projected on the wall, and this often seems to be referred to as 'talking to the paper' or 'talking to the presentation'. My natural instinct in such a sentence would be to use the word 'about'.

I only ever hear this in a work context, so it might well be one of those buzz-word type things, but I find it kind of odd, as it suggests someone is, literally, talking to some bits of paper or Powerpoint images projected on a wall. Then again, it does have a faintly Middle English ring about it, like something out of Gawain And The Green Knight, I guess.

"He didde talke to his presentationne, and didde Powerpoint use", as Chaucer wrote in The Project Manager's Tale.

THING THE SECOND: I've recently started using a new pen, and I rather like it. It's a Pilot VPen, and is a strange mix between a fountain pen (it has a nib) and a gel pen (the ink flows smoothly).

It gives a slightly scratchy interaction with the paper, which I actually find slightly satisfying as it proves to me that yes, I actually am writing, but without the hassles of changing the cartridge or carrying round a bottle of ink... but, yes, there's a but. I'm not any kind of scientist, but as the pen is disposable and has loads of working parts, surely it's a nightmare in environmental terms? Can anyone advise?

Or, to put it another way, can anyone talk to this post?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Blatant Than Latent

Fragrances, like many other items, often have to sell themselves on the implied suggestion that they'll make you more sexy.

However, some items I've seen recently seem to have forgotten that the sexual undercurrent, like the scent itself, is probably more effective when it's subtle and yet somehow discernable.

You're probably wondering: What the jiggins is Soanes on about now? Where's his evidence? Well...

Say the name of this one out loud:

That's not a fragrance, that's a blatant sexual offer, surely.

And speaking of blatant -

- come on, that can't be accidental. He wants to be careful not to catch himself on that ring, though.

If this post has offended you, please bear in mind it's the perfume makers who are to blame - they started it. And if the filth quotient of the above is lost on you... well, bless your innocence, it's a rare and precious thing in a bitter and jaded world.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Admission May Connect In Some Way To Me Not Getting Married Until I Was 37 Years Old

As readers with long memories and brain cells to spare may recall, just over a year ago, I got married.

One of the many benefits of this was that I now have (and indeed always wear) a wedding ring - because, obviously, when this cat's on the prowl, the ladies need to be warned that hey, easy, I'm a married man!. Yes, that's definitely the reason. Anyway, bear my be-ringedness in mind while I scoot off at what will appear to be a tangent...

The building where I work in London (which is a very hush-hush-top-secret-oh-all-right-I-admit-it-not-that-big-a-deal-building) has a pass system, as many buildings do nowadays. You use your pass to get in, and on the way out, the method is a bit less hasslesome - on the basis that keeping people out is more important that keeping them in, I guess. So the usual way I leave the building is to press a large button set into a nearby wall, and then open the door.

However, these buttons are usually green (for go, I suppose), and as a pathetic comic reading geek who's aware of the superhero Green Lantern, who recharges his power ring (stop giggling at the back) thus...

... you can probably imagine how I envision myself as I punch the green exit button at work with my left hand.

Several times a day. Smiling to myself every time I do it. Oh yes.

Hey, I'm just being honest with you. And anyway, they're talking about a Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds, so the character'll probably be like Iron Man in a couple of years. Lunchboxes and pyjamas for the kids, you wait and see... and probably in adult sizes for people like me too, let's face it. The emotionally and intellectually stunted male is a sizable market. In every sense.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This One's For Those Of You Who Were Tiring Of Posts Featuring Pictures And A Handful Of Words From Me Saying 'Hey, Don't These Look A Bit Alike?'

As you've probably seen, a handful of days after the pop singer Stephen Gately died, and even after the coroner had pronounced his sudden death to have been the result of natural causes, the ever-humane Daily Mail printed a column by Jan Moir which had the suspicious whiff of homophobia about it, suggesting Gatey's lifestyle may have been responsible for his death. Classy.

The article has, I gather led to a record number of complaints being made to the Press Complaints Commission - there's a good summary of the series of events here. And though I usually try to avoid writing about topical events too often here on't blog (due to the fact that, all too often, far wittier folks tend to get there before me), I had a few thoughts (on the subject, not in total in my life) which I wanted to share...

Firstly, and because it's always fun to make this clear, I think the Daily Mail is a criminal waste of newsprint; its obsession with house prices and immigrants and cancer make it frankly laughable, and it would be a joke if it wasn't for the fact that so many people seem to take its contents seriously. The paper's aimed at a weird audience, one who believes that young people nowadays are all promiscuous and whorish, but who simultaneously like lots of pictures of Charlotte Church or Cheryl Cole in low-cut dresses in their newspapers. Lord only knows what kind of demographic this is, but they clearly keep on buying the grotty little rag.

Given that the Mail's never been that keen on gay people or their lifestyles, it's probably inevitable that they ran a column in the usual post hoc ergo propter hoc style about Stephen Gately: he was gay, he died suddenly, and therefore his premature death was caused by being gay. Sure, they didn't run a 'being white and female makes you die in a car crash' story when the Princess of Wales died, but of course a picture of Diana on the front page was always a good way to boost circulation, and besides 'white and female' is a substantial chunk of their target readership. I think it's fair to say that they're not keen to court gay readers - though in terms of appealing to the dead, a large number of their readers are probably nearer the grave than the womb, and many of their younger readers may not trouble the EEG machine overmuch.

You may well be wondering why I haven't linked to the article yet, to let you good people make up your own mind about whether it's offensive or not; well, fear not, I'm about to, but I wanted to highlight the way that, once they started getting complaints about the article, the Mail tried to rewrite things so that they didn't look as bad - remember how Russell Brand (and we'll get back to him later) pointed out that the Mail, which had been so critical of him and Jonathan Ross, had, after all, supported Mosely and the Blackshirts, and asked which was worse? The Mail tried to ignore this remark, despite it being an established fact about the paper's history, and in a not-entirely dissimilar way, once they realised that they had a PR problem on their hands with the Moir article, they changed the title of it on their website. Oh the bravery.

So, having originally titled the column "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death", the Mail proudly and heroically renamed it "A strange, lonely and troubling death . . .", and indeed that's the title which now sits atop the page - have a look here. The courage of their convictions is so impressive.

And so there was a fuss - to my delight, catalysed by openly gay folks such as Stephen Fry and Derren Brown - and a semi-reaction from Jan Moir saying that the response had been "clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign ", with lots of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission (as well as people publishing Moir's home address online, which I do feel is going too far). And the Mail is now in an interesting position, because a year ago this week, the paper was very much at the front of the placard-bearing crowd objecting to the phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to Andrew Sachs. So, in the face of a similarly orchestrated campaign of complaint, how will they react?

By analogy with the Ross-Brand-Sachs affair, the writer should resign and the sub-editor and editor should be sacked, though I doubt this'll happen; as many people found during World War II when publications had to be recycled as lavatory paper, when it comes to newspapers, the shit just doesn't stick. The Sun may have accused football supporters of raiding the pockets of the dead at Hillsborough (see picture), the Scottish Sunday Express may have written about the frankly teenage lives of teenage survivors of the Dunblane massacre, and every single paper in the world may have been implicated in Charles Spencer's impassioned eulogy for his sister, but the last place you're likely to see these things reported - let alone discussed - is, it seems, a newspaper. Which makes me wonder if newspapers are necessarily in much of a position to criticise when MPs circle the wagons and try to protect themselves (or each other) from criticism or revelations about their lives.

As with the Trafigura situation last week, the newspapers were rather trumped by the internet, as people broke the ludicrous injunction via e-mails, blogs and Twitter, and the same approach has been taken in relation to the complaints about the Gately article (which I think is perfectly fair; I just wish that similarly well-orchestrated campaigns could be run about so many of their other articles). It makes me wonder if the 'decline in respect for authority' which the Mail and other papers lament is in some way directly related to the rise of communication technology - it must have been much easier to hide some wrongdoing in the days when people didn't have telephones to share things they'd heard about (let alone e-mail), and perhaps that lack of evidence of naughtiness in authority was somehow the foundation for the much-vaunted respect that people 'used to have'? Just a thought, but it certainly can't help that when something dodgy's going on in high places, people can have the details within minutes, and pass them on just as quickly.

I wouldn't want to go so far as to suggest that the internet and 3G and the like will directly replace or remove traditional print journalism, but they're clearly having an effect on the way people gain information about the world about them; newspapers have already found their 'source of news' role reduced by the rise of constantly-updated TV and online news, and if the 'campaigning' role is also usurped, is there much left? As Clay Shirky noted back in March,"'You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!' has never been much of a business model", and as we seem to be gradually feeling our way towards some new and as yet uncertain model of newsgathering and reporting, I do think that a lot of papers are going to be shouting that, and sooner rather than later.

In the case of the Mail, though, I'm kind of torn; in moral terms, it's a festering boil in the bumcleft of humanity, but if it goes bankrupt actual real people with families would lose their livelihoods, and as much as I dislike the way they choose to spend their time, a part of me recognises that they're still people.

Then again, I like to think the recognition that people can think differently from me and not have to suffer for it means I'll never be asked to write for the Daily Mail.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is There A Psychological Condition Which Involves One Seeing Things As Similar All The Time?

If so, I think we can cheerfully label me a sufferer.

Though it does generate material, howsoever questionable.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From A Poster On London Transport Urging People To Be Pro, As Opposed To Anti, Social

I wasn't too taken with his information films for the Inland Revenue, but I hadn't realised that Adam Hart Davis was such a social miscreant.

Still, good to see he's working on his issues.

Friday, October 16, 2009

They Also Serve Who Only Sit And Type

What's that you say? Hmm?

Oh, you say your week won't be complete unless you can see a picture of Brian and Stewie from Family Guy drawn into a field, and viewed from above?

Luckily for you, your wish is my command.

And if you'll forgive me, I have to go and polish the coal scuttle.*

*Not a euphemism, you filthy beast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rather Like That Irish Singer Shane MacGowan (Born 1957 In Kent)

For reasons I really don't need to get into, I'm currently working on a 60-minute biopic of singer Chris de Burgh.

I don't know about you, but I kind of thought I knew everything there was to know about him; the early years, The Lady In Red, the affair with the nanny, the angry letter to the Irish Times, and all that, but I'm finding that the more I read about him, the more of an enigma the man turns out to be.

Take, for example, the opening line of the Wikipedia page for Chris:

"Chris de Burgh (born Christopher John Davison on 15 October 1948) is an Argentinian-born Irish singer-songwriter..."
I'm starting to think I may need more than 60 minutes. I tell you, the man's a mystery... wrapped in a thriller.

Curled up inside a romance.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Nearly Didn't Hear About This

It seems that, contrary to years of process and legal precedent, The Guardian newspaper was - until a couple of hours ago - blocked from reporting on Parliamentary proceedings.

Just to add to the rather cloak-and-dagger nature of things, the paper was also been told not to say what they've been prevented from talking about. I seem to recall the Spycatcher affair took a similar turn, with the media at one stage not allowed to mention the name of the author of the banned book... and we all know how well that turned out.

Fortunately, early this afternoon - just in time, one might say - the lawyers responsible for the injunction (perennial Private Eye favourites Carter-Ruck) dropped the claim, leaving the paper free to report the item in question, which I'll reprint here, mainly because I can:

Labour MP Paul Farrelly intends to "ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura."
So, Carter-Ruck had issued an injunction to prevent a paper reporting a question about an injunction? Crikey, that kind of activity certainly strays close to the zone known as self-parody.

Facetiousness aside, this was a strange legal move, and one which - temporarily - went against freedom of speech issues which had been in place for centuries (and had been, in legal terms, recently* ruled upon by Lord Denning) stating that whatever's said in Parliament can be reported without it potentially being seen as contempt of court. The opposite of Las Vegas, one might say.

Anyway, I thought this was worthy of drawing to your attention as a freedom of the press issue; I hold no brief for The Guardian, and approach their work with much the same narrowed-eye cynicism as I do most of the newspapers, but I think it's getting to a pretty sorry state of affairs when a law firm can take out (and, in the first instance at least, obtain) a gagging order to prevent the centuries-established reporting of a parliamentary question, especially one about a gagging order.

*By which, of course, I mean over 20 years ago.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Simon, You Can Have This Format Idea For A Fiver. Oh, All Right, A Quid.

I see that Saturday's edition of singing talent show The X-Factor featured a guest appearance by Robbie Williams. And previous episodes have featured appearances by Mariah Carey and Beyonce, with the inevitable ratings-grabbing results.

And a notion occurred to me. One which, I think, might have what the folks in the idea biz call 'legs'.

Here it is: instead of going through the hassle of hosting regional singing heats, hiring limos and hotel rooms for judges, hiring venues and risking getting into legal trouble by utilising telephone voting for the final rounds, and then the fuss of recording the first album by the winner and promoting it... instead of all that, why not just get established singers to come onto a TV show?

You could make sure that the format works by only selecting popular singers (or even groups), and maybe link their appearance on the show to their relative popularity in some way; maybe using some quantifiable sales thing like how many CDs or downloads they'd sold that week? You could even structure the show with a crescendo aspect, so the most popular singer or band that week plays at the end - saving the biggest star until last, as it were.

Obviously, there are a couple of less positive aspects to this - there'd be less need to use Craig Armstrong's Film Works 1995-2005 CD for all of the linky bits*, and you'd probably have to make the show a bit shorter (maybe 30 minutes instead of 90 minutes) - but I reckon that you could probably get a pretty good audience with a show like this.

Offhand, I'm not wedded to any ideas of what we'd call such a show, but you want it to be snappy and appealing that sums it up in a few words - maybe something like Hottest Of The Hits? I'm not sure, I'm just spitballing here.

Anyway, if you have an 'in' with any TV production people, feel free to float this idea, and see what they think. I know it sounds simple, but often those ideas have the broadest appeal.

*This is a downside as I think Mr Armstrong is a very talented composer, and I want him to be receive the royalties for his work being used. Because week after week after week after week, his music is used.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Their Sublime To My Ridiculous

Something I didn't mention in my write-up about the classical music concert on Friday night was that, as the performance of Strauss's Four Last Songs came to an end, I became completely convinced that, were I to nick the conductor's sheet music as an avid fan might steal a band's set list, it would look something like this:

I know: I'm an idiot. I don't deserve culture, do I?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Which I Demonstrate, Once Again, My Pretentious Ways

Last night I went with my Dad to see a performance of some classical music at the Barbican here in London.

It was a good mixed bill - a bit of Strauss for me, a bit of Mahler for Dad, and some stuff by a chap called Martinu which neither of us were familiar with. And as you can see from the picture here, we got pretty good seats for our £8.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun - particularly the final bit of Strauss, which often sounds like the soundtrack to a cartoon - and lo and behold, the BBC have made it available to listen to via the iPlayer, and you can do so here.

Another very self-indulgent post from me, I fear, but on the other hand this'll provide evidence to both my wife and my mother that Dad and I really were at the concert as promised, and not at a lap-dancing club.

Though Dad did joke about going on to one afterwards. At least, I think he was joking...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Free Copy Of The Bookseller

Well, kind of.

In the light of the current post service strikes, publishing industry magazine The Bookseller has decided to go all high-tech to get round the non-delivery problem, and so has made the latest issue (cover-dated today) available online.

You can read it on your screen, or download it as a PDF, by clicking here.

So, don't go sayin I never gives you nuffink never not ever, awright?

I do apologise, I think living in London's East End is starting to get to me.

I'm assuming they don't make it available this way every week, mind. And as we all know, when I make an assumption, I make an ass of you and umption... hmm, that's not right, is it?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Does It Come In Black?"

So, Amazon have announced that their Kindle device will be available in an international form from 19 October. Which intrigues me.

I'm currently looking into the possibility of an e-reader for some hefty reference items I have in PDF, and the Kindle seems quite appealing, as it takes PDFs and allows you to annotate items (including, unless you can inform me otherwise PDFs), so that sounds about right. And the price is lower than the Sony ones I'd been mulling over and the like.

However, whilst carrying round something small and light is obviously more appealing than lugging round a big printed document, or reading a PDF off a screen (I often feel as if I spend about 90% of my waking hours in front of a screen of some sort or other), I'm slightly wary of getting dead-ended into a bit of tech that doesn't last for a good number of years; I still think MiniDiscs are a terrific format, and they were super-useful when I was producing a hospital radio show every week, but now I can only use the MiniDisc recorder for a handful of purposes, and so it languishes in a drawer next to my AAC-format Sony music player.

So I'm not keen to go spending a three-digit sum on something which may prove to be something of a technological dead-end, and I have other reservations - there's a whole DRM hoo-hah about books which you can buy for it, and Amazon recently had to undergo the irony of removing copies of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four from users' Kindles. Then again, given the name of the device, it's probably fortunate that it wasn't Fahrenheit 451.

I guess I'll wait until the devices actually start arriving in the UK before I throw my hat (a hat full of money) into the ring, and see if there are positive reviews; I like the idea of wirelessly buying books and magazines, sure, but I don't want to end up with a bit of kit that's duff sooner rather than later.

And besides, to answer my own question, no, it's not available in black. Tch.

If any of you good folks have strong opinions about this subject (and to short-cut the usual comment, no I see it as supplementary to my bookshelf, not replacing it), or experience of using a reading doohickey of this type, please share in the Comments, eh? As is so often the case, I'm just learning my way around the topic, and informed input is always welcome.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Feed Me! Feed Me All Night Long!" (Song From Little Photoshop Of Horrors)

This makes me laugh, so I thought I'd share.

The story so far: Ralph Lauren put out an ad which is insanely over-photoshopped (either that, or they're employing models who haven't eaten in weeks), and people on the internet rightly took the michael... so Lauren issued a legalese notice, claiming that the use of their very silly image constituted copyright infringement.

So, of course the website removed the image, and apologised. Ah, all right, ya got me - they're doing nothing of the sort, and more power to them.

And yes, you can see the image in question via that link. I'm not including it here because I want to encourage you to follow the link, and enjoy their sarcastic tone.

Besides, the picture in question really freaks me out. I don't want it on my blog.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If You Only Read One Thing On The Internet Today... Well, You've Wasted That Allowance Reading This. What Were You Thinking?

Yes, many other people on t'interweb have linked to it already, but there's a reason for that: it's very honest and sensible and true and many, many other positive adjectives.

Michelle Lipton writes about the path of the freelance writer, and I recommend you read what she has to say.

That's it; anything else I might say will - and I have simply no idea why - look facile and shallow in comparison.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Virgin's First Time

And welcome to all of you who've come here via a search engine; prepare for disappointment.

I know a lot of the regular audience for the blog are involved in writing, though I don't know how many of you, like me, run; anyway, this is one of those occasional posts about running.

The London Marathon has, for a number of years, been officially known as the Flora London Marathon (though it was rarely spoken of as such), because of the sponsorship provided by a leading spreadable product. Prior to that, if memory serves, it was sponsored by Mars, the ever-popular chocolate bar. Nothing, it seems, symbolises health and a stern training regime so much as sponsorship from a foodstuff containing a proportion of fat.

That used to be the case, anyway. As you can see from the logo, and may have inferred from the Google-baiting title of this post, the 2010 London Marathon is being sponsored by Virgin - a firm whose interests are strangely scattered, from credit cards to cola. No, I don't quite understand it either.

Anyway, if you've applied for a place in the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, the decisions are apparently in the post. However, since the UK postal service is currently being affected by strikes (many people have inevitably noted that it's hard to tell the difference), the mailout of the YES and NO notifications has been a bit delayed. But Virgin will apparently be e-mailing people this afternoon to let them know.

If you don't get a place in the ballot (which is the scheme whereby enter a lottery-style system to see if you get a place, and then pay for it), there'll of course be a vast number of charity places available; those of you with unnervingly long memories may remember that I ran in the 2007 London Marathon for just such a charity.

For reasons which kind of escape me in the cold (well, currently more like grey) light of day, I've entered the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, and so I should be receiving an e-mail today to let me know if I've got a place. If I haven't - and I think the odds are pretty slim - then I have, for the sake of my own sanity, vowed not to see about a charity place; in all honesty, the hassle of trying to make sure I reached the target for sponsorship was more of a burden than the physical act of training for, and running, the marathon. So I won't be doing that again.

No, definitely not. Uh-uh, nosiree. Not doing that again.

Oh no, I'm "protesting too much", aren't I? Uh oh...

EDITED at 3.58pm to say: Just had the e-mail to say I didn't get in through the ballot. And that, as I say, means I won't be pursuing any other means of getting a place. That's what I said, and as we all know, what I say goes. Granted, it usually 'goes' by the by within minutes, but let's try for some kind of certainty for once...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The 24 Hour Book Challenge

Just wrapping up in sunny South London is the 24 Hour Book Challenge.

It started yesterday, and a group of writers have been working on a book based around a group of city centre allotments - having started the writing at 10am yesterday and finished it at 10am this morning, a group of volunteers is currently knocking it into printworthy shape and it'll be on sale as of tomorrow. Follow the above link for more details of what sounds to me like a rather interesting challenge.

On the subject of novels written in a brief time - and unlike the above, you can get involved - it's just under a month until the start of 2009's National Novel Writing Month. I don't think I'm eligible to take part as I've already started my book, but are any of you good people intending to have a go?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

And They Said It Wouldn't Last

To commemorate my 1001st blog post, I commissioned a pair of special numerically-themed spectacles from noted stylist and creator, Mrs MyWife. Here be the results:

As you can see, they're positively Elton Johnesque, so I intend to spend the rest of the day celebrating as Mr Dwight might (though with fewer tantrums and outbursts, of course).

Thank you for your continued audienceship, especially in the face of ridiculously self-indulgent posts like this one.

Friday, October 02, 2009

To Punish My Sanctimony, There's Probably A Typo Somewhere In This Post...

Remember, if you're going to protest about something - hell, if you're going to say anything at all - you'll make your point far more effectively if people don't need to spend time decoding what you're driving at.

Proof can be found, in appalling abundance, here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Silly Mount Everest Sketch

As I have an interest in the work of David Cross and in Mount Everest, I was rather amused to find this; I feel it kind of tapers off a bit towards the end (probably an inevitable result of it being sliced from an episode of Mr Show, where I gather the sketches were interlinked), but I like the way the father's reaction rather echoes that of the audience.

It is, of course, just plain silly as well, which I always approve of (remember, kids: silly = good, stupid = bad).

But enough introduction, on with the (Mr) Show...