See what Care Bear you are.
DVD Warner Home Video in Australia loses important court case in which they were accused of price fixing of Rental DVDs, in which sell-thru discs could not offered for rental, and the cost price of rental discs to the stores would increase two-fold. Fascinating look at the machinations of the entertainment industry.
Law LawGirl interviews musicians about Napster. Stifling of vital communication tool?
Music Hear'Say hold auditions for new member. Kym Marsh was always the odd link. Perhaps someone from the band currently without a name will defect.
Film Two critics from Bangkok make their own film to see what it's like: "``We're not planning this. Everybody just has this thought about making films at the same time,'' says Prapaipan of her fellow critics-turned-auteurs. ``It shows that this is a high time for Thai movies. People who have ideas can find the way to bring them on screen. The door has really opened now.''
Geography Rebuff to the popular theory that the Earth is round.
Books Philip Pullman wins Whitbread prize. Underdog finally gets recognition.
The Trains Able to get to work and back again. Felt like a normal day but for the emptiness of the trains that were running. Everyone had made other arrangements even when they could have go on the rails.
Blog! Falling Off ...
Travel The Apartheid Museum in Johannesberg is an interesting demonstration of how a country copes with it's recent history.
TV Soap at a Crossroads. Increase ratings or face cancellation. ITV never really onto a winner commissioning a soap no one wanted to see... give me Night & Day any day or night ...
Greetings Happy Burns Night everyone! Ate haggis with tatty and neaps. Listened to bagpipes.
Speedylistless All of this weblog's meaty goodness in one bite sized chunk, for the reader on the move...
Dating New Woman magazine flows out hints and tips on how to become the perfect woman to snag the man you want. As you would expect, male stereotyping abounds, and although I'm sure it's meant to be tongue in cheek, some of the suggestions bare closer scrutiny.

In the section entitled "Bluff your way as a film buff" we have: "The bloke you're after is a film freak. But you can't tell your Kevin Spacey from your Kevin Costner. So, to fool him into thinking you know everything there is to know about films ever, buy The Godfather Parts One and Two, and The Star Wars Trilogy (but not The Phantom Menace because it's rubbish) and learn them inside out." Apart from objecting to the label 'film freak' (surely no way to attract one if you want one), in my experience ask a girl which of the sacred trilogy they really like they'll always answer Jedi. Why? The Ewoks. And would a laygirl really understand how wrong it is that Greedo shoots first now?

In the section entitled "He's a car freak": "The bloke you want to impress is a car freak and would be wowed by a bird who knows how to fiddle around under the bonnet. So register yourself for car maintenance classes pronto - and it won't just be handy for pulling - you'll now know what to do with a dipstick for the rest of your life." I've always thought that the best way to attract men was not to know a thing about cars so that they could be needlessly impressive when they get them running again.

And finally in "Impress a boffin": "Appear cool and aloof by smiling mysteriously if you're not exactly sure what you should be saying. If someone asks your opinion on a certain subject, smile in a 'thinking really deeply' way and say 'now - that's going to take a LOT of thought…I'm going to have to sleep on it…' " Like attract like. Max Von Sydow and Barbara Hershey were never going to live happily ever after in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' ("Imagine the kind of mind that enjoys wrestling...") I've always found that girls who are really impressed with my mind want help with their homework more than a date. Oh the cynicism.

But it's all tongue in cheek and the final suggestion is truer than all (no, not "No man? Try tantric sex.").

Just be yourself.
Travel Speaking of branding, British Midland has released the name of their new no-frills airline service. It is to be call 'bmibaby'. Somebody there has a sense of humour. [from travelnews]

TV Channel Four have rolled out 'Smallville' pretty quickly after the US debut. Nope, haven't seen it, although perhaps I should be making the most of it, because good new US imports are going to be low on the ground if this Newsweek article is anything to go by. It doesn't pull any punches, especially in regards to one of our own exports, 'Who wants to be a Millionare': "Now ABC says it might not even bring Regis (Philbin)’s game show back for a third season. That’s an extraordinary jackknife for a program that reportedly helped its network generate $1 billion just two years ago. It’s not altogether surprising, given that brain-dead ABC—which hasn’t launched a real hit since “Dharma and Greg”—milked the program for every penny by airing it four times a week. This is a shameful way to run a network, and a rotten thing to do to a good show."
Commerce I actually let out a yelp of pleasure when I found out that Amazon had turned a 'small profit' finally. There are very few brands I'm loyal to (I can think of only Coke and The Guardian as the other two) and I was a bit worried that the retailer would never pull themselves out of the red. I dread to think what would happen if I had to go back to the old method of getting old or obscure books (going into Waterstones, asking at the counter, hoping it's on the computer, filling in a postcard, waiting six weeks to find out it's been taken out of print).
Elsewhere... Following on from the Blog! entry on Monday I've been invited to contribute my dreams to 'Soul Illustrations'. My first entry is here. I'll try to drop something off there once a week (or whenever I remember my dreams, obviously) so you'll have to keep checking there now if you want another piece of me...


You're not George Martin, or even Yoko Ono. You've probably never belonged to any boy band, and though the spirit of the Beatles may be in you, you're not sex-obsessed John, nor self-obsessed Paul, nor inner-self-obsessed George, nor smiling Ringo. So what are you, then?

WEIRD. You're weird. We have no idea who you are or what you look like or why you took this quiz, but one thing we CAN tell you, there's a 10% chance that you're gay and over a 50% chance that you're female. Right now, you're reading words off a computer screen, and that's about all the accurate information we can give you today.

Take the Which Beatle Are You? Quiz.
Film Last night I watched the greatest film ever made. Not 'Lord of the Rings' but the story of the fall of apartheid in South Africa through it's architects 'Mandela and de Klerk'. This is one of those films which seems impossible in the real world and yet there it was unfolding on screen. Directed briskly by Joseph 'Jaws: The Revenge' Sargent, this is a film which proves that sometimes your success is in the casting. I wonder how Mandela felt when he found out Sydney Poitier had played him in a film. And opposite Michael Caine as de Klerk. Both prove they can turn even the most simplistic of scripts into gold. While it's hard to swallow that the meetings between these two people were conducted in quite the way they appear on film, these few scenes allow the actors to show the mastery of their craft. The only distraction being Caine's bald head, the join between his forehead and his paite always in view. All I need to see now is the biopic of Kofi Annan featuring Morgan Freeman and I'll be happy. [trailer]
Blog! And so to the fictional. Jamie's Way is a web-only teen drama produced out of Baltimore and to fill the gaps between episodes, the writers have begun a weblog to cover the distance between episodes. The staggering thing about 'The Joys of Being Jamie' is realism. Without all of the links back to the drama's own website this could be the musings of a real teenager. The only give away is that the entries are too personal -- in the average blog the writer doesn't often write about their true feelings lest they be read by someone involved. But here we have declarations of love and descriptions of classroom in-fighting. The quote on the front page is authentic though: "..Follow me as I search for myself, as I search for my way... Follow me as I find my WAY.." Theme song?

Books Calling a book that was always going to generate both publicity and controversy. For the author, Randall Kennedy, it's just a matter of context. [Atlantic Unbound]
Art A woman with a digital camera approaches people in the street and asks them for a kiss. This sounds like a ploy from Dom Joly's 'Trigger Happy TV' but is in fact the video art at the cornerstone of Melanie Manchot's exhibition 'Love is a Stranger' It's a wonderfully strange work. Our view is from a point somewhere in the centre of her chest (presumably the camera is hidden) so in reality all we are seeing is very good views of people's necks if they kiss -- but we also see the rejections -- the looks of horror that this strange woman would ask such a question. It's also terribly voyeristic, we see which kinds of people give a peck on the cheek and who gives her a full on snog. One of those piece which is endlessly watchable, nuances revealed with each repeated turn of the video. At The Cornerhouse, Manchester until 24 February [images; Google for more information]
Reader's Letters On Monday I received my strangest ever email, which I will offer unedited, with his emphasis: "Hi, my name is Antonio Zavaleta, I´m 17, live in Lima, PerĂº, well, the reason I contacted you is that you like that "As If" Show also, cos I really enjoy it too. Well, I wanted to know if it could be possible, you know, that you could have the address of the website - the official one or another - of that show, cos I´m killing myself here, in a chair, trying to find it, you know....well, I hope your answer..." I think what prompted the email was my review here on the IMDb (it's at the bottom of, yes, the front page, yes with bizarre punctuation and typos). So many questions. This Channel Four teen show is actually being watched in Peru apparently, which demonstrates international sales to their full effect -- goodness know what they make of all the distinctly British references, and Sooz for that matter. Just so that Antonio doesn't kill himself I should point out that the official site is here, although it isn't terribly impressive.

Music Tori Amos has worked with Neil Gaiman on her new album and tour: "We have umm…we have, I think a creative relationship - for whatever reason it's based on…hmm, brutal honesty…with a spoonful of sugar. We would rather hear it from each other, rather that the scabs were picked open by one another than to have it done by the New York Times. Anything that they're going to say he's already told me. We've covered all the angles of every argument beforehand, and we know what's coming." [from Vox interview; original editorial here]
On The Fly The show is drawing to a close. I'll be back again tomorrow I think for the George Harrison tribute.

Law A growing trend in Samoa is the theft of belongings to be sold to shops, affording us this banal article from The Samoa Observer looking at the details of this pawn industry: "At the bottom of each form the customer must declare lawful ownership of goods they bring. "We cannot help it if people lie to us," Mr. Russo said. "But in keeping personal details we can identify people who may have brought stolen items."

Education One of my golden school moments was during a Physics class when the teacher was reading out the answers to a homework he had set a week before. We'd all puzzled over one particular question which made no sense and when the teacher read out the answer it just seemed wrong somehow -- but he tried to gloss over it, until my friend Richard, got up, walked to the front of the class and took it upon himself to prove how it was wrong on the blackboard, offering the correct answer... I'm reminded of this after the recent story of the exam paper with an incorrect question on it. It now seems that the examination board knew about the mistake even before the students sat down (a class in Hong Kong had sat the exam a full eight hours earlier) but did nothing about it. Richard has gone on to pastures new (well Leeds) but his spirit remains in these chaps who saw the error straight away: "Amit said the mistake had affected his concentration and he might miss the grades he needed to study medicine at university. "The calculations I was doing I kept getting wrong and I did not know why," he said. "First I thought that it was just basic arithmetic - but then, when I looked at it, the numbers had been written wrongly." Adam said they both felt they could have done better on the paper, had it not been for the mistake. "My friend had referred back to the question book and answer book, and had used a mixture of the correct and incorrect figures, thus wasting time," he said." It's all very well saying that the papers will be marked without this question, but it's clear that the rest of the paper will have been ruined all of those taking them because they will have spent the rest of the time worrying about that one answer, especially maths kids who are notorious perfectionists.

People For international readers who will have missed it. Mariella Frostrup, British entertainment journalist went to interview George Clooney on the set of his directorial debut 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind', a biopic of Chuck Norris (yes really). She figured it would be a long wait for a few days and then a quick interview when he could find the time. He didn't leave her alone for five days, presenting her with everything from the script for Stephen Soderberg's next movie 'Solaris' (guess George'll be in that one) to the dailies from his own film. The whole article, in which Frostrup all but makes a marriage proposal is summed up in one image: "I sit on the sofa. George disconcertingly lies at my feet. Having watched him at work for two days I'm amazed at the slight regard he pays his status."

Kids And finally, now that The X-Files is winding up, let's not forget there is always Gladys The Travelling Cow.
Fashion The industry no longer wants models apparently -- at least not in the traditional sense. In The Anti-Model Movement, there way is being cleared for unknown girls and non-models to be the faces of designers, the idea being that if you've a professional in your blouse, their posture is too perfect, the clothes don't have a chance to breath: "But the taming of the supermodel has created a new problem: namely the availability of faces and forces hot enough to keep us buying those jeans and those T-shirts and those sunglasses. So what options emerge? Movie and music stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Foxxy Brown. And Calvin Klein, ever on the hilt of hip has gone there in the biggest way to date. (On New York's ever buzzing Houston Street, Foxxy Brown's CK poster is seven stories tall occupying the very spot that Kate used to rule)."
On The Fly Since Bartok, we've had Edith Piathe. This is more like it. Although I could do with hearing more of the presenter's voice. We like that. A lot.

Reader's Letter I'm really touched and heartened by this message from Matt regarding a recent post about the nature of blogging: "Don't stop doing your blog please - not altogether anyway. I guess it must be hard coming up with new stuff all the time - I know could never do it - so if you wanna post stuff less often, fair enough. Don't stop though, you're the only person I know who's got their own site and keeps it up-to-date. Everytime I've read your blog I've found it entertaining (even if sometimes I find some of the things you come out with are a bit bizarre!)." Just for you then...
Music Watching Pop Idol for the first and last time the other night (awful, just awful -- I hope Darius bloody wins just to demonstrate what a pointless exercise the whole thing is) I was reminded once again of the fragility of the music industry and how really anyone with a bit of talent could have a go (yes that means you Babybird). Which is why I can't help but smirk that Jonathan Maitland, the consumer rights journalist (pre-Campbell watchdog) has had a song shortlisted for The Eurovision Song Contest. Neither can he: "I certainly get more enjoyment from playing in a band than I do from TV. Unfortunately I am a crap musician and don't think a career in pop is likely."
On The Fly Back to Radio Three again with a twenty-minute piece of classical music, which I'm sure I could hear any other time of the day. I was promised music from Bali...
Blog! Writing about my dreams here has gotten me into all sorts of trouble, so what it must be like for contributors to 'Soul Illustrations', I'm not sure. It's a collaborative project for writers to drop in now and then to write about the last dream they remembered. Most are quite personal and all are enthralling. I'm hoping to license the latest post, by Shauna Scott for every screenplay I ever write: "I dreamt up a storm last night, but they were all so morphed together the only one I could remember was the last one. It was very sexy, I awoke with my night shirt up around my neck, me on my tummy and a pillow between my legs..."
On The Fly 'The Clangers' is still on -- it's the most spare, beautiful, fulfilling piece of radio I've ever heard.
Rings There is rumoured six-hour version of Easy Rider knocking about somewhere which features endless scenes of motorbikes and deserts. While this is an extreme case I do love directors cuts. I must be the only person on the planet who thing Terminator 2 was greatly improves by the new scenes of John Conner bonding with Arnie. And now I hear there is to be a four hour cut of Fellowship of the Rings on DVD. I always knew there was something missing... [via desultory engine]
On The Fly We've already had Peruvian music, organ music, Jazz and now the soundtrack to an episode of 'The Clangers' -- this is great.
Photography It occured to me again the other day as I watched the clean up operation still taking place in New York, that the reason this attack affected everyone on such an emotional level was because we could see it happen so vividly. In most disasters all we see is the aftermath -- the sunken boat, the crashed plane, the train collision. These all occur in anonymous places and if amateur footage appears its usually blurry and difficult to follow. But we could watch these buildings fall because as well as being offices, they were tourist attractions (and still are it appears). So now that we've seen news footage, and amateur footage -- how does the artistic photographer deal with the event?

Mark Hunt is one of the few photographers allowed back into the seclusion zone and is seeing it through the eyes of someone who trying to capture the moments on an emotional level, not to sell to the media but so that future generations don't forget. As Dorothy Ho writes for Photo District News: "Hunt photographed at 100 Church Street, just beside the fallen WTC 7. Inside, he shot a poignant image of a calendar, left open at September 11. The same desk is shown again, this time it’s whistle-clean. Hunt’s images are simply framed, revealing the story of the damage and the efforts of individuals tasked with bringing things "back to normal." Hunt's own perspective appears at his own website, and there is an archive of some of the images demonstrating that new hole in the skyline of New York.
On The Fly I've always thought there was room for a radio station without musical barriers -- which didn't see a difference between Jazz, Classical, Rock or Pop, which only had a belief in Music as a whole, which only wanted to bring the best to it's audience. Perhaps in the future in digital radio I'll see this happen, but for now I think I've found a close approximation. 'Late Junction' on Radio Three, a world music programme boasts on it's home page a: " laid-back, esoteric mix of music from across the globe, ranging from Mali to Bali, and from medieval chant to 21st-century electronica." This sort of randomness sounds like exactly the sort of thing I've been looking for and I'm tuning in for the first time tonight -- drawn finally by the chance to hear Act One of 'The Clanger's Opera'. Currently waiting for it to start...