"It will remain for British authorities"

Journalism Carl Bernstein looks for Watergate comparisons in the #notw scandal:
"The circumstances of the alleged lawbreaking within News Corp. suggest more than a passing resemblance to Richard Nixon presiding over a criminal conspiracy in which he insulated himself from specific knowledge of numerous individual criminal acts while being himself responsible for and authorizing general policies that routinely resulted in lawbreaking and unconstitutional conduct. Not to mention his role in the cover-up. It will remain for British authorities and, presumably, disgusted and/or legally squeezed News Corp. executives and editors to reveal exactly where the rot came from at News of the World, and whether Rupert Murdoch enabled, approved, or opposed the obvious corruption that infected his underlings."
Sadly he misses the clearest comparison from his end. Nick Davies's dogged investigation at The Guardian, an investigation almost entirely unreported by the rest of the press up until this week when it's being publically praised by actors, politicians and fellow journalists mirrors Woodstein's own Watergate investigation which was considered equally eccentric at the time. I like to imagine Alan Rusbridger giving Davies a pep talk similar to the one Jason Robards as Post editor Ben Bradlee gives the fictional version of them at the end of All The President's Men.
Ben Bradlee: You know the results of the latest Gallup Poll? Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a shit. You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up... 15 minutes. Then get your asses back in gear. We're under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there. Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I'm going to get mad. Goodnight.
Here's Davies talking about the story, which includes a rather startling section about David Cameron and George Osborne which I've not seen elsewhere:

"my full name, Sarah Palin"

Politics Time Magazine meets another Sarah Palin, a 20-year-old University of Texas at Austin junior:
"How often do people mention Palin to you?
Ever since 2008, all my friends have called me by my full name, Sarah Palin. I rarely get called just Sarah. Every time she opens her mouth, I get attention. And now everyone's making the same joke — asking me if I'm going to run in 2012. I'm like, Wow, that's really original. I definitely haven't heard that one before."
I went to post-graduate college with an Emma Thompson who was funny about it and a David Dickinson who seemed oblivious.

"a salacious rag"

Journalism Worth linking what with current events (see my Twitter feed for up to the minute vitriol and invective), Adam Curtis on the rise of Rupert Murdoch or as he describes it 'A Portrait of Satan':
"The News of the World was a salacious rag, but it was run by Sir William Carr who was a member of an old establishment family. He had already received a hostile bid from the publisher Robert Maxwell. Carr hated Maxwell because he was not British (he was Czech).

Then Murdoch arrived. He wasn't British either, but he told Sir William he would buy the paper but they would run it jointly together.

Maxwell warned Sir William not to trust Murdoch. He told him - "You will be out before your feet touch the ground".

Sir William replied - "Bob, Rupert is a gentleman"

But Lady Carr began to worry. She took Rupert Murdoch out to lunch in Mayfair. She reported that he had little small talk, no sense of humour and that he had lit up a cigar before the first course.
Brian May was asked for his commentary on the closure of The News of the World during The One Show earlier. He said, I'm paraphrasing, "They put a camera through Freddy's toilet window when he was dying (of AIDS).  So I have no sympathy for them."

as with the previous series

Radio As you might know, there'll be more radio Torchwood broadcast next week in the run up to the opening UK broadcast of Miracle Day on Thursday. You might also like to know that as with the previous series, there will be podcasts for people who're at work or want to save themselves some pennies on the inevitable later commercial release.

You can sign up to the podcasts here.

"tweet about lunch"

Social Networking Grace Dent's 100 things about me and Twitter most of which are universally applicable:
"45. I bloody love Twitter "pun" games. I'll play them until the bitter end, when my puns need brackets to explain and no one replies.

46. I get arsey when non-Twitter people say Twitter is just people discussing their breakfasts. Only an idiot tweets their breakfast.

47. I do sometimes tweet about lunch.

48. Twitter has made me seriously wonder if chronic pedantry is a social illness. People are crucified by their need to correct commas.

49. I think if you cancel an appointment with me due to being busy or ill you should have the common sense to stop fucking tweeting.

50. I believe 3,000 followers is the point at which lots of tweeters start behaving like utter maniacs. "3,000 follower syndrome" is a worrying medical condition.
101.  Don't joint Twitter unless you have a lot of faith in your internal-censor.

I'm trying not to get too wound up

Life Sigh, there are plenty of things I could say about the present big story, and have said via the Twitter feed, but I'm trying not to get too wound up, trying to calm down, trying not become too self righteous about something I don't have any control over even though I know that it effects just about everything that happens in this country, via its political connections.

So instead I thought I'd show this nice photo of a rainbow I took earlier during a hail storm. That's a hail storm.  In July. Goodness.

Rainbow crosses the road.

I've never been this close to a rainbow before, especially never looked down on one, like standing in the middle of a lens flair or a soap bubble. The coloured halo also seemed to be moving closer, at least until it dissipated.

"white polka dots"

TV While the Murdoch empire stops me from seeing Kate Winslet in Todd Haynes's Mildred Pierce until the dvd release in six months, I can at least gawp at the clothes:
"When we first meet Mildred she is baking in a dark blue housedress with white polka dots worn beneath a gingham check pinafore. As presentable as Mildred may appear to our eyes, she would never have dreamed of leaving the house in this ensemble. Despite limited means this was still a period of formality. Even Mildred’s neighbour, Lucy Gessler (Melissa Leo), dons an upturned brim cloche before strolling across her garden to snoop."
They're also used to good effect on the cover of this month's Sight and Sound Magazine which has an excellent piece inside comparing the new mini-series and its approach to adapting the James M. Cain novel in comparison to Michael Curtiz's 1945 film, the shift in genre away from noir.

August 2011 cover

"shots needed"

Film Kim Newman reviews Transformers 3:
"There ought to be a way to make a live-action film about giant shapeshifting robots that’s either a) fun or b) awesome or preferably c) both. After three tries, it’s blatantly evident that Bay can only just about manage b) long enough to provide the shots needed to cut into a trailer."
There was. It's called Transformers: The Movie. "One shall staaand. One shall faaallll."

"Effing scary, but fine."

Life Inspired by TV Cream who have posted their first attempt at creating a television listing, I thought I would publish this early attempt at blogging. Actually it's the text from a letter I wrote from university to an old school friend in February 1994 when I was nineteen years old.  Written originally on a PC and printed out (I must have produced two copies), a print out which I've now just sat and typed back in again having found it recently.  Which rather demonstrates the resilience of paper as a storage medium over digital.

But it has all of the hallmarks of this blog with embarrassing stories and reviews (one of which, for the film Like Water For Chocolate is essentially just a synopsis of the plot so if you haven't seen it yet, and I recommend you do, I'd skip that whole paragraph).  Plus note I didn't see fit to ask my friend how he was or reply to anything in the letter he must has sent me first.  Some of it is quite poignant, some of it I'd entirely forgotten and would be a odd precursor of things to come and some of it is just ...


Dear [name withheld],

Tired. Stretch. Barf.

Sorry, but that's my attempt at reactive poetry. I know it isn't that good, but I was looking for a way to start this letter. I know its taken me a while to write but you know how it is - things to do, places to go, people to see (rubs chin with tips of his fingers).

There was a massive fun fair in town, and after dropping a video off at the city site library I decided to go on. Big mistake. The first couple of rides were fine. Effing scary, but fine. But the second two. Now, I've never chucked my lunch (and isn't that a nice turn of phrase?) before on rides, mostly because it isn't usual for me to go on them. But this particular one was a doozy. It not only span you round by an axle, but each axle had four cars on it which span also - so you are spinning in two different directions at once - thus was too much. I don't think I hit anyone.

But after this I got the bus home - big mistake number two. We are going out of town and next to the uni and this guy from our hall and his girlfriend get on. As the bus pulls out, my tummy decides it has had enough. I open the window and fountain appears from my mouth, hitting a passing sports car. Eventually I have to rush off the bus and throw into a bush. I am now known in the hall as "Spuey" (so funny I nearly top myself).

The girl situation is the same as usual (that bad eh?). A mixture of unavailable and unusual. There is one girl - Katrine. She seems to the think the same way I do. ('We dream the same, dream we want the same things -- ooh!"). Thing is, she's French. But having said that we don't seem to have any problem communicating. Like me, she can think of a lot of things to do other than drinking, like just talking with friends, making food, reading and watching movies. I just know she's got a boyfriend in France. Having said that, she did say I was probably the only English person who talks to her so I guess this is in my favour.

Friday, and I've got my tux. This is quite possibly the most expensive night out of my life. £56 for the tux. £23 for the ticket, and I guess £10 for the night. This had better be worth it (it probably won't).

I've been seeing some really nice movies lately. "Like Water for Chocolate" for example, a Brazilian movie about a girl who has to battle against family tradition. Every youngest girl like her must never marry and look after the mother. The Story is very tragic in nature, as everyone slowly dies, but with a slightly quirky sense of humour. The real shock being at the end when she and her once intended husband finally get together to make love, and its so food her ides in her arms and in the style of R+J she commits suicide so that they can be together eternally.

I also sat through "The Three Musketeers" a film which was such a wasted opportunity. I smell an overzealous editor, with a knack of getting rid of much of a film's character content in favour of swashing the buckle. That said, Chris O'Donnell isn't a bad Dartanion (despire being a French man with an American accent), and there are some nice one-liners from the barely sketched in Porthos and Aromis.

I've also been watching loads of Woody Allen movies lately, and I think they've been having a strange effect on me. At the weekend I bought a rye loaf, and nearly got some bagels -- this could be N.E. fever, but I started to read leaflets about stress and depression and say things like "Eat something". And my wearing my jacket more often.

Speaking on Northern Exposure, it's back on again on Mondays at 10pm. So there isn't a bad week on TV -- NE on Monday, Quantum Leap on Tuesday, Star Trek (for now) on Wednesday, Red Dwarf on Fridays and the New Adventures of Superman on Saturday (if you haven't seen it yet, I strongly recommend it -- it's kind of a cross between the movies (action) Northern Exposure (character development) and a hint of Moonlight (general weirdness)].

Its hit dinnertime and I'm hungry, and there are probably people waiting with more important things to do with computers, so this is Stuey signing off. Hailing frequencies closed.


Ensign Stuart I. Burns
Starfleet Academy Library Cadet.


as Paul Morley would rave later

Meme I reveal when I got it wrong (inspired by):

Fiercely loyal to the original line up of the Sugababes and Siobhán Donaghy in particular, I attended the next album, Angels With Dirty Faces, the first with Heidi Range, with caution, and hated it, the vocal harmony which had made One Touch sound so unusual completely gone. But I saw the error of my ways fairly quickly. There are some duff tracks, Just Don't Need This a warning of the rubbish that was to come later, but as Paul Morley would rave later, track one, Freak Like Me is one of the best pop records of all time, a post-modern fusion of Adina Howard and Gary Newman.

For nearly a decade, I'd decided Curse of the Jade Scorpion was a low point in Woody Allen's career but as I outlined whilst watching his entire career in order, that opinion changed to "I found it really very engaging indeed", which is quite something for me. It's rare that my initial reaction to a film will change much in the intervening years and most often from positive to negative rather than in the other direction.

I'm so poorly read and the books I have read have been within such a narrow wavelength that I can't really comment on anything for the purposes of this exercise other than to say that my teenage brain didn't have the capacity to really appreciate Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse when I was forced to study it for A-Level and it wasn't until years later I understood the capacity of stream of consciousness to mimic the kinds of random thoughts we carry with us in every given situation.

I nurtured a passionate hatred for King Lear over many years but then saw a recording of a Shakespeare production in Central Park with James Earl Jones in the title role and finally realised what others found so profound (if you're not careful old age is index linked to a loss in dignity and your kids will never treat you with the respect you think you deserve) which went some way to showing that our impression of some plays, whoever the author might be, is always affected by the quality of the version we're subjected to.

Much like film, my initial reaction to television series and television people doesn't tend to change that much and when it does, it's because, at least in terms of long running series, the quality of the programme making has improved (see most of the Star Trek spin-offs in later series) (most) (not Voyager obviously). But to take a site-specific example, what I saw of Fawlty Towers years ago bored me senseless. Now having watched it again on dvd, I realise its genius. You have to be old enough to understand Basil's desperation and temper, I think.


Film Roger Ebert reviews Transformers 3:
"...is a visually ugly film with an incoherent plot, wooden characters and inane dialog. It provided me with one of the more unpleasant experiences I've had at the movies. [...] Note: Bay is said to have tried to improve the characteristic light level of 3D. In my screening, it was as dim as usual. "
The death of narrative cinema continues unabated.