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Messages - HtoHe

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The Coffee Bar / Re: The Waffle Thread
« on: August 23, 2014, 11:36:39 am »
I picked up Series 6 of Mitchell and Webb’s Peep Show in the 2nd hand shop the other day.  As is usual with sitcoms that go beyond the magic 3rd series it’s wearing a bit thin by Series 6 but still better than most.  The great thing about this dvd is that among the ‘extras’ is a feature called If peep show was filmed before a live studio audience .  For those who don’t know, Peep Show is one of the sitcoms that, notably, has no ‘laugh track’.  Seeing the familiar scenes interrupted by bursts of manic chortling is quite an experience. I don’t know how they did it – presumably by adding laughter from the track of another sitcom that was filmed before a live studio audience – so can’t tell how fair a comparison it is; but I know which I prefer!  Does anyone else find the almost staccato bursts of laughter in Dead Ringers one of the few negatives about the show?

The Coffee Bar / Re: What has made you smile today?
« on: August 20, 2014, 08:46:25 pm »
Yet again I found myself thinking Debenhams’ merchandisers aint what they used to be.  I can’t remember if I mentioned my last little smile in the Liverpool store when I found a sweater on the bargain rail marked ‘100% off’.  It took a while before I could find someone who could see how absurd that was.  The first person I spoke to seriously thought 100% off was the same as half price and clung to this opinion even when I asked ‘what’s 50% off, then?’ (that’s half price too, they said).  Talking of ‘Half Price’ Debenham’s has succumbed to the common fashion for labelling racks ‘up to Half Price’ when they mean no less than half price.  Nobody even notices that any more.  What I did notice today was a multi-pack of men’s socks discounted as defective.  The defect was duly marked on the tag – one pair of the three was missing – but, again, the first person I spoke to didn’t see why I thought ‘20% off’ was a pretty poor bargain. I have to feel for the poor merchandisers in an age where no day ever seems to be a normal one and they have to keep re-tagging things in line with the latest ‘Sale’ offers; but failure to understand why it's no good knocking 20% off the original price of a product that has over 33% missing is rather poor.

The Coffee Bar / Re: Youtube
« on: August 18, 2014, 08:45:25 pm »
Looking up Bobby’s Girl for my Great Feminist Anthems project I was rather surprised to learn that Susan Maughan’s version was not the original – that honour goes to someone called Marcie Blane.  I think Miss Brodie should be told!

(don’t click if you’re allergic to cringing)

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: August 18, 2014, 08:38:52 pm »
'UKIP person says something offensive' is hardly even news these days; but I was struck by the statement that ‘"ting tong" in Thai meant that a person was mad’.

If that’s the case perhaps someone should tell Lucas and Walliams because one of the less savoury of the Little Britain running gags just got even more offensive.

Come to think of it, why does the BBC not mention this in the story about Ms Atkinson?   Surely it’s extremely likely she got the term from the sketch show.  Could it be that they didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that Little Britain is a BBC product?

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Waffle Thread
« on: August 17, 2014, 09:48:40 pm »
I suppose if books are being used to teach English there is some advantage in having many copies of the same title – it’s just a pity it might have to be something like The da Vinci Code.  Yesterday wasn’t the first time I’d noticed that some charity shops’ book stock consists almost exclusively of trash.  I wonder sometimes whether there isn’t a sort of one way traffic with people buying a book at the airport. dumping it at the local charity shop when the holiday is over and very few people even considering buying this kind of book in the charity shop.  I popped in to the aforementioned Bold St shop today and the stock of FsoG had increased to five!  I was tempted to ask the staff if that was the four I’d seen earlier plus one or if they had, for example, sold two but acquired three!  Adding to the problem, I fear, is the rise of ‘specialist’ charity bookshops which probably siphon off the good stuff on the instructions of their experts and leave the poor local shops with the rubbish.  This is bad enough for the local shops but for ordinary second hand bookshops it can be a death sentence.  Old established shops like Henry Bohn in Liverpool still manage to sell decent books at prices comparable to  those of Oxfam’s specialist outlet but it must be a real struggle to compete with a rival who pays nothing for stock, very little in wages and discounted rent.

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Waffle Thread
« on: August 16, 2014, 09:22:43 pm »
Two very different experiences browsing second hand books today.  I was lucky enough to be in Liverpool when the (monthly?) book fair was on at the Bluecoat.  I got MacNeice (ed Auden),  Selected Poems; O’Casey, Collected Plays Vol 1 (including the ‘Dublin’ trilogy); and Paglia, Sexual Personae for a total of £6.  When I got home I looked in at a local charity shop advertising ‘All books £1 – buy one, get one free’ and found that of the thousands of books on the shelves there was only one I’d remotely consider buying – and that was a volume of DH Lawrence novels, all of which I already own.  I noticed, though, that there was an extraordinary number of copies of The da Vinci Code.  I counted seven – which easily beats the four copies of Filthy Shades of Grey I once saw in a Bold St charity shop.  I gave a donation as a token of relief at not having to read any of these things; but I couldn’t help wondering how long it takes for such shops to be so beset with unsaleable dross that they have to consider throwing them away.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Lauren Bacall (1925- 2014)
« on: August 15, 2014, 04:11:38 pm »
aaargghh   Radio 4's obit programme, Last Word, just referred to her debut film as To Have and to Hold.  Does nobody check this stuff?

There's also an item in the programme about Peter Sculthorpe if anyone's interested.  Today is the first broadcast of this programme (repeat Sunday at 2030) so it probably won't be on the i-player yet but the Sculthorpe piece hasn't, as I type, yet come up.

Proms / Radio Times
« on: August 14, 2014, 09:07:46 pm »
The RT has taken to using the same text for all broadcasts of a concert without taking the elementary precaution of ensuring the content fits all cases.  Tonight is at least the third time I've seen a live broadcast described as 'Another chance to hear....'

It's very sloppy and there must be a danger that people skimming the listings will overlook a live concert thinking it's a repeat.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Lauren Bacall (1925- 2014)
« on: August 13, 2014, 03:12:53 pm »
What sad news – and straight after the Robin Williams tragedy, too.  Bacall was more my parents’ generation than mine – she made lots of films in my lifetime but none of them came near Key Largo, The Big Sleep etc, made before I was born – and was definitely the most impressive of my father’s pin-ups (no offence, but I could never take Betty Grable, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth and others anywhere near as seriously).  I don’t know that much about her life but I like the fact that she turned down roles she didn’t want and insisted on being her own person (‘widow is not a profession’).  At her best she is a dazzling presence on the big screen and I think you’re very lucky to have met her in person, Stanley.


The IT Helpdesk. / Re: Fundamental USB vulnerability uncovered.
« on: August 12, 2014, 08:50:30 pm »
Yes, thanks Bryn.  I've passed it on to the techies at our HO, though how much heed they'll pay heaven only knows.  I'm pretty much at their mercy because I have to bring my work files to HO once a month and this involves plugging my memory stick into a work station that has had any number of other usb devices plugged into it.  I suppose I could buy a new stick for each trip* and send what few new files I create while I'm at HO by emailing them to myself rather than saving them back to the portable device; but it seems a complicated strategy.  Fortunately, I'm not in the habit of using my memory stick anywhere other than at home or at HO so at least if something does go wrong the company (which pays for my machine anyway) can't blame me! 

*though I see the more paranoid voices in the comment thread believe the malware comes from the factory anyway so even a new stick isn't fireproof.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: August 12, 2014, 01:19:13 pm »
Anyone know how the enquiry (a new head to which May said she would appoint without delay) is progressing?

I've no idea - but it doesn't particularly surprise me that a politician has been quicker to promise than to deliver.  I'm still of the opinion that an enquiry that lacks credibility for the very people it is meant to benefit is worse than no enquiry at all.  And EBS herself seemed to acknowledge that much when she announced her withdrawal.

On a very tangentially related news issue, I found it quite bizarre, on reading the story about the death of Robin Williams, to see that the list of links to 'most popular' items on that page has the item from 2011 about Jimmy Savile's death at number 4.

I haven't noticed this link before.  Why is it suddenly one of the most popular items - or is it always a must-read in the US/Canada section of the BBC news?  The comments thread is a bit of a revelation - full of deleted posts with, ironically, many of the surviving posts telling the authors of the deleted posts 'if you have nothing good to say, say nothing'.  With hindsight it makes very strange reading.

It seems to have worked its way out of the rankings by now but the Daily Wail - not known for missing opportunities to be outraged - took a shot of the website when the link was at no 2

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: August 09, 2014, 12:54:15 pm »
I’m in two minds about this, Mort.  I used to work nearby (well, Haverstock Hill) and often passed the crossing without noticing any disruption, too.  But that was in the days before the neurotic need arose to photograph everything rather than just experience it.  At first I thought this was going to be another selfish motorist story – how dare these pedestrians expect us to stop at a zebra crossing – but the picture of the guy standing in the middle of the road, well clear of the crossing markings made me think again.  It reminded me of my trip to Dallas where, from the window of the famous book depository, I could see tourists walking into the midst of heavy traffic on Elm Street to take photgraphs and have pictures taken of them.

I liked the link to the ‘wrong Abbey Road’ story.   To think people travel thousands of miles but don’t bother to find out which particular Abbey Road is the famous one.

Give My Regards to Broad Street must cause all sorts of problems – especially as McCartney’s Broad Street is the one near Liverpool Street and many tourists confuse Liverpool Street with Liverpool and go there expecting to find The Cavern!

Radio / Dead Ringers - Radio 4 Wednesdays 1830
« on: August 06, 2014, 08:11:34 pm »
The new series of Dead Ringers – back in its Radio 4 home after a long and, to me, disappointing exile on TV – is settling in nicely.  Tonight’s episode 2 was, to my ears, up there with best programmes of its heyday.  The idea of the new Mitchells (David and Victoria Coren-Mitchell) at the Queen Vic had me spluttering with mirth.  And the Neil Nunes character looks like replacing Brian Perkins as ‘The Daddy’.

Well worth catching.

Theatre / Re: Great Britain - Lyttelton Theatre
« on: August 06, 2014, 07:54:08 pm »
When Billie Piper was addressing the audience, as she did in that final comment, I don't think she was being the author's mouthpiece.  She was expressing the character.

Well, the only way the author can convey views is through characters – and this particular view was expressed, as you say, by addressing the audience directly rather than as dialogue.  And, of course, the author can convey different, or even diametrically opposite, points of view without necessarily favouring one or the other.  In the end what matters is that the point is, to say the very least, one that can be argued convincingly.

You said her movements were limited.  I see what you meant, but it was a limited character, wasn't it?  Despite her energy and intelligence, she was shallow and very selfish.

I didn’t have a big problem with Ms Piper – at least not as big a problem as I had with her in The Effect.  I just thought her delivery and mannerisms were rather stilted.  It didn’t really spoil The Effect because I didn’t think that was much of a play anyway; and it certainly didn’t spoil Great Britain because the play didn’t really call for great subtlety; but I’ve now seen her twice and am yet to be convinced that she’s any more than competent.  A friend asked who I thought might have done a better job and, off the top of my head, I came up with Olivia Poulet, Olivia Colman, Olivia de Haviland and the ubiquitous Sheridan Smith.

Theatre / Re: Great Britain - Lyttelton Theatre
« on: August 06, 2014, 03:38:31 pm »
You're not the only person to mention the play's darker side, Don B.  I’m no expert on his work but I’ve noticed that Richard Bean is fond of dropping quite serious issues into his comedies.  One Man, Two Guvnors is an exception but The Heretic (a ‘black comedy’ which is so broad it descends into farce at times) includes a lot of complex stuff about the global warming debate and the lengths people will go to if they’re convinced they’re right.  And The Big Fellah has IRA activists in New York condemning Islamists as disgusting terrorists with a degree of hypocrisy that is both hilarious and chilling.  In Great Britain, for all the merciless lampooning of the police, politicians and press, the public itself is not let off the hook.  In fact I felt at times like shouting out ‘not guilty’ when one or other of the characters pointed out the hypocrisy of the public (represented here by the audience) without whose prurience, for example, the press would have had no reason to bug people’s phones.  But, while it’s true that I, as an individual, am not part of the market for celebrity tittle-tattle, the point is well made that people must have known that the gossip columns were not filled purely by obtaining information in an ethical way.  Indeed, the play ends with a (not entirely invalid) claim that our supposedly moral outrage has more to do with the outcome of a person’s behaviour rather than the behaviour itself.  I won’t go into too much detail, but the point being made was that if illegal phone hacking had led to the prevention of a crime or the apprehension of a criminal the hackers would have been heroes rather than villains despite the fact that their actual conduct was precisely the same.  I don’t think it’s altogether a bad thing that the play prompts a little depression along with the laughs.  My mind went back to the suicides in the play when I read about the acquittal of Tulisa Contostavlos the other day.  It seems this young woman seriously considered killing herself because of an aggressive ‘sting’ campaign mounted against her by a journalist in search of a cheap shock story.  I don’t even know who she is but I find it quite depressing that she might have died – or indeed that the person who arranged the ‘sting’ might end up in jail – to satisfy a pathological appetite for gossip like this.

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