"I stooped to pick a buttercup. Why people leave buttocks lying around, I've no idea." -- Steven, "A Bit of Fry & Laurie"
“Have you. Have you indeed. Indeedy.”
“It’s very funny.”
”They look very young. Very young. Indeed.”
“Well it was the late eighties.”
“Ah, the Eighties. Do you know I used to have a pink shirt.”
“Did you, Jeremy.”
“My name’s not Jeremy.”
“Warmer. No, but it is hilarious and hasn’t date. At all.”
”No. At all.”
”Oh ha ha ha ha.”
”Why hasn’t it dated, Alan?”
”No, still wrong. Well it’s because they use very few contemporary references and hardly ever as the crux of the joke.”
”Like Ricky Gervais?”
”No. Often they also seem rather prescient.”
”Well, at one point, Fry gives a satirical piece to camera as a politician which could as well be a speech from last week in which Gordon Brown or some other minister outline the current ills of the world.”
”Could that just be the comedian’s touching on perennial social problems and inadequacies of a government state?”
”Look, is this review going to carry on like this. I mean it’s a half decent idea to use this dialogue instead of proper paragraphs, but if the intention is for you to sound like Mr. Fry and myself as Mr. Laurie, it’s clearly failing because this bit sounds like it should be spoken like you, though less erudite.”
”True. But what you’ve touched upon is the other innovation – the generally fractured nature of their sketch comedy.”
”It isn’t often that their material reaches a purposefully satisfactory conclusion. Like the Pythons they’re experimenting with the format, often interrupting a sketch before the end, either themselves in order to criticise their own words to camera or each other or through some outside influence. In one episode, an audience member starts threatening them with legal action for plagiarising his writing and it’s done well enough, at least at first, that you’re not sure if its something which actually happened on the day. Is that a long enough paragraph for you?”
”Better. Much better, Nigel.”
”It doesn’t all work. The Control and Tony spy characters haven’t quite warmed up yet and the vox pops which appear between sketch don’t go anywhere after the initial flurry and end up only being fitfully funny. But it’s just particularly refreshing to see comedy that doesn’t talk down to the viewer and assumes a certain level of intelligence.”
”So you’d recommend it then would you?”
”Well that is your name then?”
”That’s not very funny.”
”Well we’re not real comedians, and neither is the person typing this into his computer. Depending upon your point of view…”
Roger Woods is on now talk about his first season and Christine Brewer -- that returns some of the balance and Brewer's always good value -- especially tonight since she's a last minute replacement and apparently flew in from Chicago last night. I don't like that set though; it divorces the viewer away from the atmosphere of the hall at vital moments, it loses some of the sense of the time between pieces when all the promenaders can do is stand and stare. I've been flicking into the Radio 3 coverage where oddly, your imagination can fill in the blanks -- I imagine the presenters are huddled around a microphone near the stage. But here I am again. My heart stopped during the title music and through the opening Strauss. I'm looking again through the Prom programme and wondering why I wouldn't listen to most of. I hope the second half will be as good as the first.
Pretty much sums up my day Superlambanana hunting in north Liverpool. Fizz was supposed to be on Carr Lane near the Cobolt Housing offices. It had been there for just a couple of days from deployment before being vandalised, so it was moved to Fazakerley Library , at the top of the steps. Another bus ride and longish walk up Longmoor Lane and this is what I found, since it had subsequently been stolen. It wasn't the only one. Stanley Park's lamb may be outside the Liver Buildings now, but the piece from Cider Road has gone completely. This I've only found out by visiting the spots after hours of jumping on and off buses. At least it didn't rain.
The official map is poorly designed, especially if you're trying to find these things on foot and public transport, which is all of the reason why I abandoned the attempt to see them all in numerical order. Despite planning ahead, I spent most of the day asking directions from bus drivers with faulty route knowledge, housing office receptionists, contractors, veterinary surgeons, bank clerks, librarians, police and people in the street for the locations which often didn't correspond to the picture. All too often I'd find myself waiting at a bus stop whose timetable had been wrecked, hoping that some bus I'd been told was going in my direction might come and then hoping that it did in fact go in my direction. Often, it didn't.
Still, despite all of that, I had a ball. I might bitch and wail about the ingrate vandals ruining the fun and my aching joints, but I did visit both football grounds (Goodison for the first time since 1984 and Anfield for the first time ever), Aintree Hospital and all kinds of areas I'd previously only heard talk of but never seen. Districts like Clubmoor, I can now put an image too. And there was still a sense of achievement when I finally found one of the lambs, paradoxically even if it wasn't there, simply because for someone with a reputation for having no sense of dimension and doesn't know north Liverpool at all, I'd still been able to find it on a map. No matter how misleading it might be.
Only in such places can you find the comic stylings of reviewer Karl Lankford. On the £15,000 Dental Assisting: Licensing:
"15k to learn how to put things into someones mouth. I know a woman who could teach that for less than £50."Can we potentially spend ten thousand on a poster (what is a Pep10 anyway and why would I want to exchange it?). Take a look at all 237 pages of An Assessment for Current and Future Requirements in The Industrial Cheese Market in Europe at nearly £9,000. Can a hundred dvds ever be worth £6,462.50? A CD-Rom £6,785.62? £6000 for a book about Sumo that's so big it requires its own table legs? Well, yes, to that one.
Only in music do some prices seem reasonable. Who wouldn't want to offer two thousand pounds for a 12" vinyl of Transamazonia by Shamen. Me? I'd rather spend nearly sixty grand on something which sounds like a part for The Terminator but is actually a plasma screen or twenty on a paper shredder. I might finally get around to shredding my bank statements so that I can keep deluding myself on my financial situation.
William Shatner Two Pack dvd featuring the classic Spplat Attack and Mind Meld (also starring Leonard Nimoy) -- £699.99
Three Little Pigs -- £710.66
Region one copy of Riverdance and Les Miserables: Live in NYC -- £565.37
The World's Greatest Animation -- £554.85 (It would have to be)
Hallmark Home Entertainment Classic DVD Collection I -- £435.76
ECW - It Ain't Seinfeld -- £464.90
... plus postage and packing.
The slot lasted all of a year. After a few months, news of the athletes became scarce and unreported and though I tried to keep interest, another phenomena developed in that every time I would post something about them on the blog, the next time I looked at the news feeds, one of my 'ones to watch' had befallen some misfortune – an injury, a sponsor dropping out, a poor performance even in a championship where they were supposed to be the favourite. I’m not really a suspicious person – apart from not cutting my toe-nails on a Sunday – and I knew that my meanderings here could not really be the kiss of death. But it was terribly dispiriting to see these men and women I’d had sure high hopes for crashing out.
Team GB for the Beijing Olympics was announced today. It seems right then that I should look again at this list, see who made the team in the end and try to find out what happened since 2002 for those unfortunate enough not to have to sit through another opening ceremony. The original biographies are here:
Michelle Dillon Triathlon
In Athens: 6th place, Women's Triathlon
Not selected due to injury. It seems she’s been out for much of the season. On her weblog she talked about hopes for making the qualifying race, but sickness in the end kept her away from the start line though she was there to help coach the other athletes. In her last post, she explained that she’s been plagued by these injuries all through her life and that it’s one of the reasons why she took up Triathlon in the first place to help spread the stresses..
Matthew Elias Athletics
In Athens: 5th place, anchor leg, Men's 4x400m
Not selected. Though I can’t quite work out what happened. He was competing for Wales as late as March 2006 but wasn’t at the trials last week. Did he retire?
James Goddard Swimming
In Athens: 4th place, Men's 200m Backstroke
He’ll be there! Competing in the 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley. At the trials in Sheffield, James set a Commonwealth record for the 200m individual medley making him second in the world this year and fourth on the all time list – though he was pipped in both by Gregor Tait. But doesn’t Mr. Goddard look like a medal hope? [new biography]
Laurence Godfrey Archery
In Athens: 4th place, 70m Archery
Larry's been selected too after qualifying at the World Championships last year [new biography].
Lucy Hardy Canoing
In Athens: 7th place, Women's K1 500m
Will be taking part in her second Olympic games and she's been married in the meantime. She's been on excellent form having won Gold at the European Championships in Milan this May.
Abi Oyepitan Athletics
In Athens: 7th place, Women's 200m final / 5th place, 100m semi-final
Hasn't qualified. Dogged by injury, she didn't ever really return to the form which took her into the Olympic final. She was at the trials at the weekend and though Abi came second in her 100m heat, she was fourth in the semi and ultimately came seventh in the final which wasn't enough with only one place available. I actually watched the race and though she began strong, she fell backwards pretty quickly. It was sad.
I'll try to keep you up to date on the progress of James, Larry and Lucy. We'll see if they manage to reach the medal rostrum this time.
The reason I read most reviewers, on and off line, is because of their writing style: wit or insight or both. I'd also say that though having thirty years of experience seeing a particular art form is bonus for some writers, too often you can detect that it has made them jaded to new material because it can never live up to the magical version of a production they worshiped in the 70s.
Fresh minds bring new perspectives. Plus, without naming names, there are some professional critics who are clearly working too hard and their approach has suffering. A plot synopsis clearly rewritten from a press release followed by something in relation to "It's less enjoyable than the first one" says nothing to me. More personality please.
Because historically, audiences assume that 'blockbuster' movies which receive less promotion than they expect, it's assumed, must be rubbish because the studio doesn't have enough confidence in them to advertise. So even when the studio knows it has a turkey on its hands it'll spend millions on selling it to try and claw back some of the budget (which is why all too often these turkeys lose so much money), and if it's a film they really love, in other words The Dark Knight, they'll spend even more.