About Incidentally, if anyone has an web based ideas for celebrating this blog's seventh birthday at the end of the month, do leave a comment. For example, if any new or old readers have a question they've been dying to ask...
Marketing This Wired article about the somewhat admirable Julia Allison reminds that about five years ago I considered strategies for publicising this blog. I thought of cards in windows, flyposting, almost had a t-shirt printed up. I eventually took out a text ad at Metafilter and watched the hits trickle in. In the end I realised I wasn't entirely sure what I was publicising, since I don't put as much of my life up here as Allison does, and after nearly seven years still haven't quite decided what the blog is about. Minute that happens though, I'll be round to the printers.

"I stooped to pick a buttercup. Why people leave buttocks lying around, I've no idea." -- Steven, "A Bit of Fry & Laurie"

TV “I’ve been watching the first series of 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.”
”How tall?”
”How tall?”
”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?”
”Harry Hill?”
”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?”
”Possibly, possibly.”
”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.”
“Go on.”
”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…”
TV The First Interval of the Proms and the coverage seems have turned into a clone of The One Show with Charles Hazlewood and Suzy Klien interviewing Deborah Meaden about Dragon's Den, complete with a clip. Now there's a trailer for a reality tv series in which the likes of Jane Asher, Bradley Walsh and Goldie are going to be conducting. This seems to be a very Classic FM approach to the music, in which to an extent the music is beside the point. Which is unfair of course, because of the wonderful moment when Hazlewood and Klien essentially gave Meaden a lecture about Mozart, she sitting slightly stunned and unable to contribute and because the music, the Strauss and Mozart were so exquisite and exquisitely played that they don't necessarily need an explanation.

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.
Music Here's something you don't see every day -- my university tutor David, the man who marked my dissertation, on the BBC's PM blog. He's been put in charge of looking through an archive of tapes from Delia Derbyshire's loft, she being the lady who arranged and recorded the original and best version of the Doctor Who theme. As a lifelong Who fan and sound expert, I can't think of a better man for the job.
TV A script review of the Battlestar Galactica preview Caprica. It's very positive though it does seem to compare the show to The Thorn Birds.

WER The Fuck is Fizz

WER The Fuck is Fizz, originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

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.

Expect more stories when I've uploaded the photos...
Namesake I've not found one of these in quite a while. Burford Priory in Oxfordshire is up for sale, and look who's currently living there: "This has been a long and careful decision for our community to make,” says their leader, Abbot Stuart Burns, who, with his grey beard, traditional hooded robes and wooden cross about his neck, seems a figure from the Middle Ages. “But the decision marks a new chapter in our history, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our new home in the near future."
Commerce Further up in Amazon's equivalent of the Tyrell Corporation there are also some really, really expensive books, whole libraries (ring bound), and actually sold by Amazon this time. And they're so confident in items such as the Media Asset Library, at some eighty grand, that they don't feel the need to have a picture or list the contents. Amazing.

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.
Commerce There are some very expensive bargains at Amazon, especially in the New or Used section.

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 Road To Beijing: Team GB announced

Sport Readers with long memories will remember that at the close of the Athens Olympics, I began a series for the blog in which I promised to follow the progress of six athletes in a range of disciplines in the preparations for the next games in 2008. Many had just lost out on medals or had been the best British athlete in an overwhelming field. As I said at the time: “I've tried to choose people who have a spark of potential that spirit of 'do better', and who also engender that feeling in their audience. And I have faith that all of them have the potential to win a medal in four years time and I hope it's going to be an exciting and fun time watching their progress.”

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.
TV You might remember last week I caused something of shit-storm at Behind The Sofa with my review of last week's Doctor Who which some readers misconstrued as a suggestion that they weren't fan enough because they didn't enjoy it as much as I did. Which it wasn't. Some of it had to do with a desperate analogy I made related to Christmas and not being able to get along with people who don't celebrate the holiday. Well, fellow poster JoAnne's been so incensed, she's written her own version to top her review, and its hilarious. I've never had anything I've written parodied before and I'm glad it was done this mercilessly.

Fresh minds bring new perspectives.

Journalism I once thought I could make a living from being a critic. I had second thoughts. Here's (to an extent) why. The other reason, of course being, who'd pay me for this? Best story in Jay Raynor's piece? The time when Warner Brothers gathered a preview audience who were expecting to see The Matrix and showed them Wild Wild West.

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.
Music Rather good interview with Carli Bruni from The Times (of all places): “I must tell you that I adore the British, because they’re eccentric, they’re very traditional and at the same time they’re very original. The British are very special: you can see it in their art, their films, their poetry. For example, the protocol of the royal family is fantastic – it’s very rigid and at the same time it’s very calm. The royal family make being with them very easy because they are so considerate; they talk to you with huge kindness. The Queen and Prince Philip spoke perfect French, they explained everything about Windsor, the history of the castle, what the coats of arms on the walls were, why some had been painted in white – it was because the nobles were traitors.” The Duke of Edinburgh proved an attentive host. “Prince Philip showed us to our bedroom. He told us it was the room in which his mother and his grandmother were born. All these things were fascinating. They made the protocol much lighter to bear, and they helped me to enter their lives.”
Food Chez Pim on the best croissant in Paris: "The I heard footsteps behind me, it's the guy in chef's white returning from his delivery run. "Can I help you?", he asked. I said of course, and told him I came all the way for the best croissant in Paris. But I didn't see any, I protested, getting a little agitated. He smiled, a zen, no-worries-all-is-well-in-the-world sort of smile, and walked behind the counter and into the back. He returned a mere moment later, heady scents rushed before him, with a tray full of croissants, so fresh out of the oven it left a faint trail of vapor behind. Now that's what I came out here for, I thought."
Film From Cinematical: Why Do Studios Heavily Promote Films That Don't Need Promotion?

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.