Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Wednesday 30th April 2003

Published today is the Broadcasting Standards Commission's latest bulletin - it doesn't sound like the most fascinating document in the world, but I like to browse through it - some of the things people complain about are laughable: I am convinced that there are people out there who desperately want to be outraged and offended - they travel the airwaves rejoicing once they find a muttered four-letter word or catch a flash of nipple or a bit of good natured innuendo. For example, one complaint, not upheld, related to the use of excessive nudity on the Adult Channel's Freeview.

I wonder what the complainant expected to see on the Adult channel. Perhaps an insightful documentary about that curious species, the Older Human. Maybe a frank and in depth discussion about chess (with the panelists concluding by giving each other a good chessing) - I remember at the department store in which I used to work there was a department called Adult Games, full of Scrabble, Chess, Backgammon and so on - so disappointing for a young sales assistant.

It's annoying to see some complaints upheld, especially when only one, of hundreds of thousands of viewers, has complained. For example in the bulletin a complaint about Electric 6's music video to Danger! High Voltage has been upheld after one viewer complained about sexually explicit content. The bulletin describes the action in the video:

"...two characters in a country house setting expressed their growing sexual desire, visibly cued by the use of illuminated lights around their breast and/or genital area".

The Standards panel dealing with the complaint recognised that the video was supposed to be "ludicrous" but in the end decided that "the level of sexual explicitness had exceeded acceptable limits for broadcast in the early evening on an open access channel."

What a load of bollocks. While there are some perfectly understandable complaints dotted around in the bulletin most of the complaints highlight that there still exists in this country pockets of the trivially offended, still wading in the mire of absurd Victorian morals, that would be risible if they weren't so self-righteously destructive. Personally I reckon the more filth and bad language on the telly the better. There's always the remote control - if people have the ability to get out their letter writing kit to vomit their outrage to the BSC regarding a homosexual kiss or dramatised blood soaked murder surely it would be much easier to simply turn over, or turn off.

18 - posted at 10:30:47
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Friday 25th April 2003

To the theatre last night for the first time in ages, to see Pretending to be me before it closes (on Saturday). It was excellent - completely engaging. Tom Courtney's acting was infallible and I was fooled at times into thinking there was, at least a version of, Philip Larkin on stage. As someone who first enjoyed (if that is the right word) Larkin's poetry when studying it for A-Levels, it was a chance to stretch back to the time when I did actually read poetry - as opposed to the more common self-improving ordeal I put myself through these days when feeling especially self-righteous. This involves picking up an un-thumbed copy of works by a poet I don't like (purchased while at University to make my bookshelves look more impressive) and, with sweaty palms and a creased brow, attempting to finish a long poem without panicking or completely losing the thread. I left the theatre last night with a renewed poetic vigour, determined only to re-discover reading poetry for enjoyment. After all, I recently finished reading Possession by A.S. Byatt, a novel containing pages of long and fairly self-indulgent poems imitating Victorian poetry (in between an intriguing story - I'd recommend the book if only for the last 150 pages) and, after reading four or five of these poems, I decided simply to skip them, a nice bit of dumbing down that left me simpler and happier.

Speaking of how one reads poetry, I like Larkin's comment about 'extra-curricular knowledge', repeated in the play last night - He condemns "Poetry that can't be understood without footnotes: "See the picture 'A dog buried in the sand' among the Black Paintings of Goya in the Prado." Why the fucking hell should I?" He's got a point.

17 - posted at 06:46:22
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Al sent me a the link to this news story about children - under 16s being kept in Camp X Ray by the Americans. If the children detained are anything like the little bastards who hang around my estate it's the best place for them, if you ask me.

16 - posted at 06:39:32
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Tuesday 22nd April 2003

On the 10th April I said I had trouble believing a certain web page was genuine. That's because it isn't - thanks to Tom Watson MP for gently putting me straight:

" "WATSON, Tom" wrote:

It's a spoof. Relax. Not even an MP could do something as dire as my teens section with a straight face.

Tom "

Ah well, once again I fall victim to my own naivety (see my belief in the Law hoaxes below). Having a quick browse around the rest of Tom's site, despite any rash generalisations about MPs I may choose to make in the future, I found it very engaging and picked up a link for this news story debating who has the best beard. While it intrigues me that the Beard Liberation Front appear to go for beards of the ginger variety I think some consideration should have gone to Brian Blessed, surely a candidate, along with Rasputin and Moses, for Best Beard Wearer of all time. However the BLF have given extra marks for being an anti-war beard wearer, and I have no idea of Mr Blessed's politics in that respect.

If your beard curiosity is not sated by learning about the BLF, this quiz is a good challenge for the first day back after Easter. Well, it beats struggling with EC Merger Control Regulations anyway.

15 - posted at 05:06:45
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Monday 21st April 2003

Disaster! Paramount appear to have stopped showing Seinfeld every day at 9:30pm. I am at a loss at what to do - would you believe that often I would spend the whole day looking forward to that 30 minute window in my life? I don't think even the repeats of This Life on BBC2 can make up for this. The Simpsons is always on before I get back from work, and watching anything else is, much of the time, akin to repeatedly stabbing a rusty compass in my eyes. I may be forced to do what those unwashed children always suggested in the Why Don't You? theme tune (surprisingly I can't find a single link to that show)- meanwhile, however, I'll be encouraging others to sign the Seinfeld online petition.

14 - posted at 12:49:31
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Friday 11th April 2003

As, like most pages on the internet which serve no purpose, this little corner of Paste is an egotistical and self-centred (stop me if I'm being tautologous) exercise, I propose to start building up a little gallery of people with my name (yes, this idea is completely unoriginal and passe, but godammit, so am I most of the time). The first guy is a dead US general from the Civil War.

Robert Allen, US General

He was born in 1811 and died in 1886. He fought in the Mexican War and then was a Union quartermaster in the American Civil War, apparently.

13 - posted at 07:04:35
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Thursday 10th April 2003

I'm having trouble believing this is genuine. Stop Press, members of parliament are 'cool', 'down with the kids' and very very 'patronising'.

12 - posted at 10:35:59
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Wednesday 9th April 2003

On Saturday I went to London Zoo with Claire and Jim. The last time I visited was years ago but recently have done 'the Scotsman's Zoo', which consists of wandering around the fence peering at what can be seen from Regent's Park - it's not bad actually - Camels, Bongos, Wolves and, um, Cows are all visible for free. But of course, it's only when you pay you 12 to get in that you can see the monkeys - and it's them that people seem to be obsessed with these days - whether its Satanic looking midget primates, stealing food from each other and persecuting birds trapped in their cage, Chimps wanking, Tamarins picking their nose or Orang-Utangs baring their arse at you to make you go away (actually this happened to me at Dublin zoo, rather than London) monkeys (and by that inaccurate description I mean the whole gamut of primates, apes etc) are always the crowd puller.

And my favourite discovery on Saturday was a kind of monkey called a potto. These live in the bunker under some monkeys and rats called 'Moonlight World', which contains nocturnal animals, and is just slightly too dark inside. I knocked over a couple of children in there - not because I couldn't see them, but it was a good excuse. The Potto are nocturnal, furry strange bush baby type creatures, small with cartoon-cute faces and disproportionately long and skinny limbs. They move very slowly and gracefully and when clambering over each other they appear to be engaging in some slow motion capoeira, except not as wanky. There was one hanging upside down behind the glass, that unfurled itself, until its whole body was dangling from the roof, like a bat. Then, liked a stoned, but proficient, acrobat it spread each limb out in turn, stretching and turning, as though moving underwater. Finally after it had finshed doing this, it brought its whole body up again into a furry ball, still hanging from the roof.

My perennial favourites - apart from the urang-utans - were also in residence: Two beautiful tigers, but miserably imprisoned, and the penguins. The zoo however, seemed a bit tired - it lacked a certain buzz, despite the hoardes of ill-mannered and care-free children, whoses parents did not appear to mind as they dropped litter on the floor, feet away from rubbish bins or banged impatiently on the glass of whatever animal's attention they demanded. And the aforesaid tigers, other big cats and large animals are a depressing sight in their glum enclosures.

One of the things the zoo is lacking are elephants, removed recently after a keeper was crushed by one. That and that they don't have enough room for them - which, although I missed the grey leg-faced men, I found quite reassuring.

11 - posted at 08:41:17
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Monday 7th April 2003

The dodgy major, his coldly calculating wife and the smug but sickly university lecturer have been found guilty of cheating on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' The script at the above link makes amusing reading, but makes me wonder about how vulnerable TV quizzes are to cheats and how many people have got away with it in the past. Coughing is surely too obvious for anyone to successfully get away with - as perhaps shown by the Ingram conviction. Would it have been subtler if the accomplice, supposing he was facing the contestant, worked out a gesture for each question? So for example on question 1, when Tarrant ran through the options, the accomplice could scratch his head at the correct option. For question 2, he could cross his arms, for 3, tug his left earlobe etc. The contestant could indicate he had seen the gesture by mirroring it. Perhaps this would fall foul of studio lights blinding the contestants, but I can imagine such a system working in other shows. There is an entertaining Tales of the Unexpected story by Roald Dahl called "My Lady Love My Dove" which contains a devious but fairly simple method by which one can cheat at Bridge.

Of course, myself, I would never cheat, except in tedious computer games, which are much more fun once you're invulnerable, so you can for example, drive around London on the rampage at your leisure (even The Getaway gets dull after a while) - otherwise my experience of cheating consists of taking advantage of the youth of my sister in a game of Happy Families. She must have been about 5, I was 7 - she hadn't grasped the fact the that if only two people play Happy Families it is clear which cards the other player has. I always insisted on having first go and always cleaned up.

10 - posted at 10:48:07
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Wednesday 2nd April 2003

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9 - posted at 08:54:08
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8 - posted at 07:28:10
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