undyingking: (Default)
Was it just me, or was it really really dreadful?

I haven't read the book – I had long given up on Douglas Adams by that point, after the dire 3rd and even worse 4th Hitchhiker books. So it may be that the TV adaptation was a travesty of its brilliance: let me know what you think. But blimey, it was knuckle-gnawingly poor. It seemed like the cringeworthy pilot for some sitcom that you pray desperately will never get made.

But maybe I'm being unduly harsh?

[Poll #1659249]
undyingking: (Default)
Was it just me, or was it really really dreadful?

I haven't read the book – I had long given up on Douglas Adams by that point, after the dire 3rd and even worse 4th Hitchhiker books. So it may be that the TV adaptation was a travesty of its brilliance: let me know what you think. But blimey, it was knuckle-gnawingly poor. It seemed like the cringeworthy pilot for some sitcom that you pray desperately will never get made.

But maybe I'm being unduly harsh?

[Poll #1659249]

Bish bash

May. 9th, 2010 09:08 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Did anyone else catch the 4-part 'Tutu Talks' on BBC4 the other week? It was a series of round-the-table discussions between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and assorted African academics, journalists, politicians, NGO workers etc, under the following titles (which don't very well reflect the themes of the actual discussions -- the summaries here are better): Is Africa about to become rich? Are women strong enough to lead Africa? Is Africa better off without help from the West? and Is God a help or a hindrance to Africa?

This was quite dull TV in a way, because it was basically just a bunch of people sitting round a table opining, and also they tended to pretty much agree about everything -- the range of viewpoints wasn't very wide. But all the same I found it interesting, because to hear the thoughts and feelings of Africans (black and white) on these issues was rather refreshing: the assumptions, axioms, lines of conclusion etc were sometimes quite different to what I'm used to from the Western point of view.

Most interesting though was Tutu himself (referred to affectionately by the other participants as 'Bish' or 'Arch'), who chaired and guided the conversations. I've always been a great admirer of his, and it was impressive to see his skill at shaping, summarizing, prompting and generally managing the groups -- as well as the humanity and decency that he brought to the whole project. He's nearly 80 now, and I guess it may not be too many years before he's forced to retreat into old age, as Nelson Mandela has. This will be a great loss not just for South Africa.

Bish bash

May. 9th, 2010 09:08 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Did anyone else catch the 4-part 'Tutu Talks' on BBC4 the other week? It was a series of round-the-table discussions between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and assorted African academics, journalists, politicians, NGO workers etc, under the following titles (which don't very well reflect the themes of the actual discussions -- the summaries here are better): Is Africa about to become rich? Are women strong enough to lead Africa? Is Africa better off without help from the West? and Is God a help or a hindrance to Africa?

This was quite dull TV in a way, because it was basically just a bunch of people sitting round a table opining, and also they tended to pretty much agree about everything -- the range of viewpoints wasn't very wide. But all the same I found it interesting, because to hear the thoughts and feelings of Africans (black and white) on these issues was rather refreshing: the assumptions, axioms, lines of conclusion etc were sometimes quite different to what I'm used to from the Western point of view.

Most interesting though was Tutu himself (referred to affectionately by the other participants as 'Bish' or 'Arch'), who chaired and guided the conversations. I've always been a great admirer of his, and it was impressive to see his skill at shaping, summarizing, prompting and generally managing the groups -- as well as the humanity and decency that he brought to the whole project. He's nearly 80 now, and I guess it may not be too many years before he's forced to retreat into old age, as Nelson Mandela has. This will be a great loss not just for South Africa.
undyingking: (Default)
Did anyone see this on Channel 4 last night? I'll try and pick it up on a catch-up service when I have a moment, but this article on the subject by the presenter is interesting reading. Although, being the Telegraph, many of the comments are frankly scary.

I don't know enough genetics to critique her arguments about health benefits, but I'm living proof (or possibly disproof) of the bit about mixed-race people being more attractive ;-)
undyingking: (Default)
The first time I saw Julia McKenzie, I was 15 or so and she was playing Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre. I was sat quite near the front, and when she flung off her mink coat during her big number 'A Person Could Develop a Cold', it made a forceful impression on my youthful mind.

Last night she was playing Miss Marple on TV. From sex symbol to little old lady in what seems like the blink of an eye. How did that happen? I really feel old now.

Any of you had a similarly chilling experience?
undyingking: (Default)
Is anyone else watching The Incredible Human Journey? I'm finding it pretty interesting. Not about two dogs and a cat (or even a human) traipsing across North America, but about the early migrations of the human species. Paleoanthropology is a discipline that has been shaken up so radically in recent years, with the arrival of DNA analysis techniques, that I needed a catch-up to what is now the accepted view.

The presenter, Dr Alice Roberts, is excellent, and also has a lovely accent. (Close your eyes and it could almost be [livejournal.com profile] floralaetifica talking.) She mingles knowing her stuff with enthusiasm and clear explanation. The show has a bit too much "here I am, doing something only vaguely related to the subject but it looks exciting on camera", but that's modern documentaries for you I guess.

I just watched the Asia one, and was susprised and somewhat horrified by what I learnt about the Chinese ethnic origin modern-myth. I knew that the Chinese, according to the cliched image,  traditionally viewed themselves as superior to other races, but I hadn't realized that they'd worked up and sanctioned an evolutionary backstory to it. According to the programme, the official line is that they evolved separately from local Chinese Homo erectus, rather than descending from the results of such evolution in the African Rift Valley like the rest of humanity. And this is actually taught in Chinese schools as being correct biology.

Dr Roberts examined the "evidence" for this theory warily but politely, and then went on to talk to an admirably open-minded Chinese researcher who'd recently done a DNA analysis that (to his surprise) rubbished the idea. But I wonder how long it will take before they change what they teach in schools? As politically-driven scientific absurdity goes, this must be up there with Lysenkoism, although at least nobody's starved because of it.
undyingking: (Default)
I had a very early start to today, so need to restore some sanity by closing a few tabs on things that have interested me lately.
  • Million Dollar Babies -- art made by collaging cut-up dollar bills. But much better than that description sounds -- you can click through the several pieces using the discreet Next button.
    "I love all the process. For some of the collages we track how many scraps of paper are glued down. I see that sort of accounting as an interesting extension of the material. When “Liberty” is complete, for example, we’ll be able give statistics on each of her 13 panels individually, and also say that the whole thing took 1234 bills cut into 54,234 pieces, or whatever, and here’s all the scraps we didn’t use."
  • Pokemon Explained -- a terrific article explaining how the majority of the Pokemon TV show makes more sense if one realizes that Ash's bike crash put him into a coma, and the subsequent episodes are a dream. Sadly I suspect this will mean anything only to about one person reading my LJ -- but it really is a work of warped genius, believe me.
    "It also explains how a child can go off on his own into a world full of dangerous and untamed animals, and why town has the same police officer and every Pokemon centre has the exact same nurse. Joy and Jenny he knew from his hometown, and they act as a safety net or anchor, allowing him to feel safe no matter where he goes. Joy and Jenny represent stability. The professors represent Ash’s ideals, which is why Gary became a professor. The fantasy also explains why every time he enters a new region, virtually no one has heard of him, despite his conquests."
  • Bible Diagrams is another work of genius, although slightly more mainstream. It's a collection of diagrams showing a wide assortment of data from the Bible. Here's one about the chronology of the books of the Old Testament, for example. The best thing is puzzling out, for each new diagram, what on earth the symbol convention is. More by the same author on other subjects, such as Star Wars.
    "Author's note: It is a major challenge to present material that does not offend one group or another. Not only is there the division between the traditionalist and non-traditionalist, but among the historians there are competing viewpoints as to the dating or historicity of events. This website tries to include as many perspectives as possible so that they can be compared with each other; no viewpoint should be considered to be preferred in the diagrams."
  • The League of Movable Type -- at the moment web fonts aren't supported in any significant way, but who knows what the future may bring. Flaminia is quite interesting in its own right as a basis for sign-reading experiments.
    "We're not asking type designers and type foundries to sacrifice profit, we're asking them to contribute to a greater cause, to create a community where we not only have a high design standard for print and web alike, but also a community where we're able to share our creations, knowledge, and expertise with our peers and the world."
  • OECD Regional Statistics -- a terrific resource for charting various social and economic indicators across the OECD countries, at a large or small regional level. OK, maybe I'm one of only about ten people in the world who would be excited by this... I could easily waste hours on this site.
    "Regions in OECD countries are classified on two territorial levels to facilitate greater comparability of regions at the same territorial level. The lower level (TL3) consists of 1 681 small regions. All the regions are defined within national borders and in most of the cases correspond to administrative regions."
undyingking: (Default)
Just learnt from [livejournal.com profile] vicarage that Oliver Postgate has died.

His work will need no introduction to those of you who are Brits of +/- 15 years or so of my age, because it played a large and benevolent part in shaping our childhoods. Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss and the Clangers -- any one of them would have made him and the rest of the Smallfilms team immortal. What's nice about them, looking back, is the slightly sinister / disturbing undertone that each show had, plugging in nicely to the childhood sense of dangerous excitement. From the frankly scary Pogles' Wood, through the grim, depressing Noggin, the isolated nihilism of the Clangers up to the solipsistic Bagpuss, Postgate played on our emotions and developing minds like a master -- avoiding the happy smiley resolutions that most kids' TV clings to, but still managing to come away from each episode with something gained. But of course it's the brilliance of the conception of characters and settings that captured the imagination so vividly in the first place. We won't see his like again, I don't suppose.
undyingking: (Default)
I thought this clip from a German TV show was very funny. It explains the setup right at the beginning, so no harm doing so here: a cloakroom with a mirror, except it isn't a mirror, it's plain glass with an exact mockup behind it, and a set of well-choreographed identical twins. It's the way they all plaintively say things like "Sehen Sie mich im Spiegel?"... and the woman with the glasses who eventually concludes that she must come from another planet. Good thing there's no-one else working in my office.

Ah well, it's nearly time for a coffee.
undyingking: (Default)
And why? )
undyingking: (Default)
Did I really hear this last night, or was it a glorious dream?

Meira hoofs over the bar in the dying moments.
Lawrenson: Don't give up the day job, Fernando.
Motty: He can hear the drums, Fernando, in a minute -- they're going out!

I very much like the idea of Motty being a closet Abba devotee, sweating inside his sheepskin. In fact, why not remake Abba: The Movie with him in the Lou Carpenter bodyguard role?
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone recall an old (c. 1996?) Rory Bremner item in which the Queen's inner thoughts were set to the music of Bohemian Rhapsody? I can only remember a couple of lines. "Camilla, no! We will not let him go" was one, but the one which stuck firmest in my tiny mind was the excellent "She's so louche, she's so louche, she could screw a whole quango." You probably couldn't get away with saying that sort of thing about Princess Di these days... Curiously, the Interweb seems not to have heard of it. How suspicious is that?

One of you must surely remember it, and can put me out of my misery by quoting at length?
undyingking: (Default)
There's a pub up the road, The Blooming Fuchsia, that I only go to for important football matches, ie. those involving West Ham in a position of some hope / peril. There are many much nicer pubs nearby, but they don't have football, so the Fuchsia it is. There's usually a dozen or so West Ham fams in there for the games (many of whom are Sikhs, for some reason). It's become a lucky pub, because so far they've always won when I've watched it there -- most importantly, last year's promotion playoff final and yesterday's FA Cup semifinal. I'm a bit alarmed by this development, because it means for them to keep winning I now have to keep on going to the Fuchsia. It's all too easy for these jinx tokens to leap into your life. I'm not really expecting them to beat Liverpool in the final, so maybe watching it at the Fuchsia instead of at home would be a good way to kill the jinx. On the other hand, what if they were to win? -- then I'd have to go there for all England's World Cup games as well, and it's not actually very handy for our new house. How much more difficult could my life be?

Do you have any supporting-team-related superstitions, lucky socks and the like? -- or am I the only one still childish enough to?
undyingking: (Default)
Hope you're having a good one wherever you are old chum!

Cambridge )

Narnia )

TV comedy )

Faking It

Dec. 26th, 2005 10:54 am
undyingking: (Default)
Apols if someone posted this while I was away, but in case not, the edition of Faking It featuring Kate known to many of you is on Thursday 29th December, 1015-1135, Channel 4.

As the Radio Times kindly puts it: "Crippled by self-doubt? Blocked by inner walls? Then you'll be able to relate to Kate Harding, a sweet, shy young woman whose first instinct in company is to curl into a ball, often in tears..."

Which suggests to me that K will be faking it on more than one level ;-)
undyingking: (Default)
If you're the same sort of age as me, you might have fond memories of the TV show Soap, which was shown over here late at night when I was an impressionable teen. It was a parody / satirical soap opera which launched the career of Billy Crystal, among others. I can still 20-odd years later clearly visualize scenes which I found hysterically funny.

Anyway, I've not watched it at all since then, but the whole four seasons of it has fairly recently come out on DVD. So the question is: is it going to be worth watching, or will it be horribly dated? I really don't want a sort of Monty Python experience where it turns out the good bits were only ten minutes out of each episode, and the rest is unbearably cringeworthy. Given everything that's happened on TV since, will Soap look tired, tame, weak, limp and passé?

I hope not, but I don't dare put it directly to the test -- it might destroy too many of my happy memories. So instead I ask you, the great LJ public -- did you ever watch Soap? did you think it was any good at the time? -- have you watched it again more recently? if so, was it any good then? -- if not, would you expect it to be?

Extras

Jul. 29th, 2005 04:11 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Anyone else watching the new Ricky Gervais show Extras, on BBC2 Thursdays at 9?

If not, you might not be interested in my thoughts about it so far. )

Already liking / loathing it? I'll probably watch it to the end of the run (6 episodes I think), there's enough funny lines to make it worth sitting in front of, but not at the moment looking like a comedy classic AFAIAC.

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