Saturday, December 17, 2005

rebrand two

SANTA MONICA, Calif. and VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 15
The premier independent filmed entertainment production and distribution studio, Lions Gate, today announced that it has changed its name to "Lionsgate" and unveiled its new logo in kickoff ceremonies at the Lionsgate Screening Room in Santa Monica.

The simplification of the Lions Gate name into the single word "Lionsgate"represents the ongoing unification of the Company's diversified motion picture, television, home entertainment, family entertainment, documentary film, music publishing and video-on-demand businesses into a single, highly recognizable brand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

how men are

interesting survey analysis from Spike TV, an American channel aimed at men

according to research conducted by the upstart male-oriented network Spike TV, which interviewed thousands of young men to determine what that coveted and elusive demographic likes most in its television shows.

Spike found that men responded not only to brave and extremely competent leads but to a menagerie of characters with strikingly antisocial tendencies: Dr. Gregory House, a Vicodin-popping physician on Fox's "House"; Michael Scofield on "Prison Break," who is out to help his brother escape from jail; and Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis on "The Shield," a tough-guy cop who won't hesitate to beat a suspect senseless. Tony Soprano is their patron saint, and like Tony, within the confines of their shows, they are all "good guys."

The code of such characters, said Brent Hoff, 36, a fan of "Lost," is: "Life is hard. Men gotta do what men gotta do, and if some people have to die in the process, so be it."

feeling marginalized yet?

remakes (classics)

From the Film Asylum

Variety reports that Warner Bros. will be releasing the company’s remake of The Wicker Man next year. Written and directed by Neil LaBute, the film stars Nicolas Cage as a sheriff who travels to a remote island in search of his missing daughter. There he discovers that the female residents are part of a cult who engage in strange sexual rituals.Nu Image/Millennium’s Boaz Davidson had this to say about the project:

“Because it was a remake, we spent a lot of time in developing the script. The original movie took place in another time and era, and we wanted to adapt it for a newer audience. So we went through a lot of stages—because it’s kind of a tricky script—working very closely with Neil. This was quite different from his other movies. He’s never done a remake before, and I don’t think that he’s really done a genre movie before, especially anything as scary as this.”

The film will co-stars Ellen Burstyn, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Parker and Frances Conroy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

interesting stats 1

India contributes 28 per cent to the total talent pool of knowledge workers in the world.

But there is a problem

From Hindustan Times

guess the book, if there is one, and more

A narcissistic, self-pitying drug fiend gets a shot at redemption when movie star Jayne Dennis, an old flame, offers to marry him. The deal is that he must now connect with Robby, the son he has shunned for 11 years.

After a young woman loses her job as a radio disc jockey, she meets a stranger who promises her a steady income working for a high-society "escort" service. With thoughts of dodging the repo-man, past due bills, and an impending eviction, the woman decides she has no choice but to plunge into a world where the line that separates sex and money is blurred beyond recognition. But complications arise when she meets the man of her dreams.

A veteran covert operative, who seeks redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and starts to look out for the little guy. He ads in the paper that read simply: "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer." He takes on the cases for little or no money.

Actually, it's often much worse. These stories have all been sold to Hollywood, for this or that. One of these three is a novel, one an old TV series, and the other is just....

All from Scriptsales, the sort of site that makes writers wise up, and dumb down

this is the kind of exchange...

from New York, via London

more tales of early adoption

I spend 10 hours a week in the car. In the morning, I listen to the news. On the way back, I listen to a book. I probably go through about a book a week

Books next.

school's out

15 Indiana colleges have signed on with iParadigms, an Oakland, Calif., company that runs, an Internet service that checks term papers against databases of online resources. Among the universities already using the software are Indiana, Notre Dame and Indiana State.

From the Indiana Star

And just to help

Examples of plagiarism
• Paraphrasing someone else's words too closely.

• Copying from another person's paper.

• Buying, stealing or downloading a paper from a Web site and claiming it as your own.

• Turning in your big sister's paper from last year.

• Using someone else's ideas or materials without acknowledging them or without crediting the other person.

• Cutting and pasting information from a Web site without saying where it came from.

Source: Purdue University Online Writing Lab

always interesting Rushkoff

Indeed, as my lectures bring me from industry to industry, I find myself amazed by just how little fun most people are having. Whether separated from one another by policy, competition, or cubicle, the last thing that seems to occur to people is to have fun together—when it should be the first priority. Instead, managers feel obligated to reign over employees; executives think they must hoodwink their shareholders; sales believe they must strong-arm their clients; and marketers assume they must manipulate the consumer. All for the life-or-death stakes of the next quarterly report.

From Get Back in the Box, Rushkoff's latest

And here's his blog

today's view

Busy weekend, Catskills

a mirror on the west?

Russia begins broadcasting a new 24-hour English language satellite TV news channel on Saturday, aimed at presenting a more positive image of Russia abroad. The channel, which is called Russia Today, can be seen throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. According to its directors, the channel will aim to reflect Russia's position on the main international issues of the day and seek to inform viewers about Russian life.

More here

And here

"When I talk to friends and they say, 'Hey John, what are you doing there? What's with the new project?' I usually describe it in English or in Russian as a propaganda tool for the Russian government," he says.

remakes (headlines)

From Salon

Friday, December 02, 2005

Headless insurgency found in topless war

more on books

I am convinced that we are only one device away from a digital publishing tsunami. Consider what happened when Apple launched the iPod in October of 2001. They provided an end-to-end solution that made downloading music easy, portable, and fun. Now, 30-plus million iPods later, iPods are everywhere.

From a publisher too, called Michael Hyatt

before google there was gutenberg

In a typical week, there are at least a million downloads. We get a lot of Thackeray downloads, a lot of James Joyce, a lot of Dickens. "Pride and Prejudice" is always up there. Sherlock Holmes is always up there. … There are always some you don't expect, like "Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the Renaissance Period" by Paul Lacroix. …We also have reference material, which most people probably wouldn't think of - like Roget's Thesaurus. Plus, the Koran, along with the Bible.

Project Gutenberg founder Michael Hart interviewed in the WSJ

another journalist

BEIRUT, Lebanon Dec 12, 2005 — A prominent anti-Syrian journalist and lawmaker was killed by a car bomb Monday, a day after returning from France, where he had been staying periodically for fear of assassination.

From AP

book with booze, or booze with book?

A bonsai of sighs?

But what's most striking is the extra mini-cover that conceals the lower 1/4 of the book. It's an advertisement for a green drink you get from a plastic bottle that gives one, if I'm reading the marketing correctly, enlightenment. Witness:

Now, maybe my cultural radar is all whacked, and perhaps I'm having a Koontz moment, but if you look at this gentleman's collar, does he not look like a Buddhist monk? And that expression--is he not in the later stages of enlightenment, staring directly into nirvana?

forget spying, this is affair land

A services offering Mission Impossible-style text messages that "self-destruct" after they have been read has been launched.

From a British company, via

Staellium said it has already had interest from financial services companies, the Ministry of Defence and celebrity agents.

now reading 1

The Last Thing He Wanted
Joan Didion

Safety is to be found only in swimming
pools and air-conditioned rooms.

"Some real things have happened lately.
For a while we felt rich and then we didn't. For
a while we thought time was money, find the time
and the money comes with it."

A decade old, but right on the money when it
comes to crime, politics and identity.

It might be compared to The Tailor of Panama.
Better though

rooms with a view 7

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless

Philip Larkin

theatre plus politics = discomfort

The world premiere in London of Peace Mom, a new play by Dario Fo, the 79-year-old Nobel laureate, based on the writings of Cindy Sheehan brought this reponse from the Guardian.

Filing into the chilly school hall, with its rows of austere polypropylene chairs and a pair of flaccid white balloons hanging glumly from a rafter, one was reminded of Linda in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love: "The worst of being a Communist is that the parties you may go to are awfully funny and touching, but not very gay, and they're always in such gloomy places."

And the Dolby sound?


the return of the stakeholder...

From new Conservative Leader, David Cameron, in Leeds today.

From now on, Conservative-held and target seats will be expected to involve non-party members in their choice of candidates. I don't want to be too prescriptive about how constituencies do this. So we will be offering them a choice.

Option one is for constituencies to set up a panel of local community stakeholders, for example members of local voluntary groups, GPs, school governors and head teachers, local business leaders, and local police officers.

These community panels will interview the candidates from the priority list chosen by the local association, and will report to the association on the relative strengths of each candidate.

New Labour buzzword circa 1995.

history lessons 1

The Democratic Party and the endeavor of writing American history have a problem in common.

From Slate.

In a recent article, "Reconsidering Bush's Ancestors," published in the New York Times Magazine, [Sean] Wilentz makes explicit the implicit politics of his historical interpretation. Reading history backward, he defines today's Republicans as the direct descendants of the now long-forgotten Whig Party of the 1830s and 1840s. The alternative to the Democrats in the years before the Civil War and the creation of the Republican Party, the Whigs—like today's GOP—clashed sharply with the Democrats on both the size of government and the shape of American foreign policy. For Wilentz, "the blend of businessmen's aversion to government regulation, down-home cultural populism and Christian moralism that sustains today's" Bush Republicans is but a continuation of the political formulas first laid out by the Whigs.

metamorph 1

Church creative director Mike Robertson describes the goals as "radical" and "audacious," a set of initiatives that will use storefront satellite spaces, artistic events and small groups to foster relationships with the unchurched and establish Riverbend as an integral part of Austin.

"I want to get out in the community because of the hope we have to offer," says Carlton Dillard, associate pastor of creative arts. "In the culture we live in, I firmly believe a lot of folks won't come into the four walls of the church."

From Austin

Riverbend leaders are planning a 40-day vision kickoff in January with billboards, bumper stickers and T-shirts promoting the efforts and the new church logo.

after the jump, rebrands 3

A competition has been launched in Australia to find a new way of describing kangaroo meat.

Organisers want to find a name less offensive to diners sensitive about eating a national symbol.


today's view

I've come to the conclusion that what's inside a person
doesn't count because nobody can see it


rebrands 2

Liberace is not only a Las Vegas legend: his humour and rightful title as the original king of bling place him squarely in 21st-century pop culture. Replace macho men with Liberace to pitch beer and a marketer has struck a demographic goldmine.

Icons to sell things?


Einstein was one of the first "celebrities" to use his fame for social good. Marketers have a rich cultural and social legacy to draw upon.

well maybe a little trend

Retro invites us to curb—nay, nail firmly to the ground—every sophisticated, urban, cosmopolitan impulse we have. Retro food delights with its anachronistic humour. It reminds us of Aunt Mabel, polyester, poodle skirts, and fake blue Christmas trees. It works because it strokes the bones of humour. And Lord knows, where is the humour in food anymore?

Consider the homely Jell-O salad. Now there is a creation bent on amusement. The thing moves. It jiggles. It attempts to ensconce earthy vegetables in sugary gelatinous suspension. There is nothing serious about a Jell-O salad. To serve one, in this day and age, is to keep one’s tongue planted firmly in one’s cheek.

Live from Vancouver.

As it were.

a trend?

Not really

When it comes to collecting retro holiday decorations, one buzz word could be the one whispered into the ear of a confused young man in "The Graduate" - plastics.

From Herald Today

remakes (news)

During the holiday season, moviegoers can catch remakes of films like "Fun with Dick and Jane," "King Kong" and "Pride and Prejudice." Now, fans of the small screen can watch a remake too, of a television commercial widely considered one of the funniest ever made.


Bayer and its agency, BBDO Worldwide, have re-created a 1972 spot for Alka-Seltzer known as "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing," for the plaintive cry from a gourmand husband that opens the commercial. The phrase, and a variant, "The whole thing," went on to enter the baby-boomer vernacular.


A campaign in early 2006 will include packages of Alka-Seltzer with a "retro" design

From the New York Times

Integrity too

Stars and Stripes is a daily newspaper published for the U.S. military, DoD civilians, contractors, and their families. Unique among the many military publications, Stars and Stripes operates as a First Amendment newspaper, free of control and censorship. We have published continuously in Europe since 1942, where readers currently number around 80,000. We serve about 60,000 readers in the Pacific, where we have published a daily paper since 1945.*

Stars and Stripes maintains news bureaus in Europe, Pacific and the Middle East to provide first-hand reporting on events in those theaters. In addition to news and sports, our daily paper contains all the elements of the hometown paper our service members left behind, from "Dear Abby" to coupons, comics and crossword puzzles. In all, we publish five editions: Mideast, Europe, Japan, Korea and Okinawa.

From Stars and Stripes Saturday:

Iraq's National Integrity Day suggests new era after years of corruption

By Anita Powell, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, December 10, 2005

BAGHDAD — After decades of being forced to celebrate a deeply corrupt regime, national officials have declared a new national observance: National Integrity Day.

As the name suggests, the holiday, set for Dec. 9, celebrates integrity but also the achievements of the Iraq Commission on Public Integrity, an independent government organization that seeks out and investigates government corruption.

National officials ushered in the new holiday Thursday with a lively celebration at the Baghdad Convention Center, a place once off-limits to all but Saddam Hussein’s closest cronies.

make a political film...

...and in Hungary.

And trouble starts:

"Jews pioneered Hollywood. If, as our enemies say, we own Hollywood, well, here's the plot twist - we have lost Hollywood, and we have lost Spielberg. Spielberg is no friend of Israel. Spielberg is no friend of truth. His Munich may just as well have been scripted by George Galloway."

Jack Engelhard, the author of the best-selling novel and film, Indecent Proposal, on the Tel-Aviv-based website,

From The Guardian

harry flashman and margaret thatcher? no?

But there is a connection between Flashman and Thatcher, and it may surprise you to learn that the connection is me. Here, I think, is how it came about.

In the summer of 1982, when Margaret Thatcher had been in power three years, I wrote a review of the then latest Flashman novel, Flashman and the Redskins, for the weekly journal New Society - now, alas no more.

In it, I pointed out that one of the explanations for the appeal of the Flashman books was that they subverted 19th-century pretensions in our own day as successfully as Lytton Strachey had subverted them in his time with Eminent Victorians, published in 1918.

Ah hun.


In depicting the 19th Century in this way, I suggested the Flashman saga "took the lid off Victorian values", and it was under that very headline that the review was eventually run.

A few weeks afterwards, I received a letter from Matthew Parris, who told me that Margaret Thatcher had greatly enjoyed reading my essay. Six months later, in January 1983, she began talking publicly and admiringly about Victorian values, and about what she meant by them, and she continued to do so until the general election that was held in May of that year, which, of course, she triumphantly won.

And they say there are no political novelists any more.

palimpsest or grand tour? 1

London was a frequent starting point for Grand Tourists, and Paris a compulsory destination; many traveled to the Netherlands, some to Switzerland and Germany, and a very few adventurers to Spain, Greece, or Turkey. The essential place to visit, however, was Italy.

From the Metropolitan Museum

The Grand Tourist was typically a young man with a thorough grounding in Greek and Latin literature as well as some leisure time, some means, and some interest in art.

London: Art collector Charles Saatchi's new London gallery will open with Tessa Farmer's "Swarm" -- an exhibit of miniature skeletons and dead insects.

The fake tiny human skeletons sitting on the back of a dead dragonfly will hang from the ceiling of Saatchi's new gallery at the Duke of York headquarters building.

Farmer, 27, uses tree roots to make the skeletons of her "evil fairies," which have wings along with three fingers and four toes each.

Paris: is buzzing

It was 25 years ago that Mr. Paucton got the idea of keeping bees on the roof of the Opera, where he worked in props, after talking to a member of the in-house fire brigade who was raising fish in the basement (don't ask ...).

Rome: Tomb Raider not a computer game.

"This is one of the most brutalized digs in Italy. The tomb raiders are here almost every day," he said, looking across the arid site in the Puglia region in Italy‘s heel.

rooms with a view 6

Then I see a fair-haired, dark-eyed lady
In old-fashioned costume, at a tall window
Whom perhaps I have already seen somewhere
In another life. .. and whom I remember!

Gerard de Nerval

life after politics 1

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder landed a job Friday as board chairman for a Russian-German gas pipeline that he championed while in office, a post that deepens his already close relationship with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

From the Washington Post

A Gazprom official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the job was not a quid pro quo. "This position is not related to any kind of favor on our part," the official said, saying that Schroeder was such an important figure that he was never going to have trouble finding a job.

rebrands 1

Indian Airlines

"The name has been changed to `Indian'. Signifying continuity with change, the new look communicates a bold, striking, progressive and distinctive image for the airline,"

from Chennai Online

Putting the wheel of Sun temple at Konark on the body of aircraft, symbolising timeless motion, Indian Airlines today changed its half-a-century old name and identity

remakes, surely 7

Made in 1945, this love story, half myth, half documentary is technically "propaganda" as it was made under the aegis of Winston Churchill's wartime Ministry of Information. (He usually hated Powell and Presburger's war films, particularly A Canterbury Tale). It was supposed to make us rejoice in Britishness. Instead we rejoice in the power of great film making.

A point of trivia: the key sequence of I Know Where I'm Going takes place close to the Corryvreckan, a lethal whirlpool. This can be seen from the top of the island of Jura, where of course

dvds: the future of politics

"Films are far better at bringing people together than elections, which people approach like medicine," Werbach said on the phone from his San Francisco office. "Instead of being preachy and didactic, however, they must, first of all, be entertaining."

from the Charlotte Observer

DVDs, it appears, are:

"regarded as a way of sidestepping a risk-averse Hollywood establishment and getting the message out."

death to spies, I guess

Palo Alto-based SRI International Inc. has won a $8.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help develop the next-generation language translation software that can quickly and accurately translate and sort print, radio and television programs coming from the Middle East and China into useful data for the various American intelligence agencies.

From the Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal

I wonder what the software will make of the programs written by the Lincoln Group?

or Lost in the Translations

santa in Arabic means wart, arse in Turkish means violin bow, and purr in Scottish Gaelic means to headbutt.

From the Sydney Morning Herald's review and author profile of The Meaning of Tingo.

The Meaning of Tingo, which is shaping up to be this year's essential stocking filler. It's brilliant in its simplicity, being nothing more than a collection of odd and interesting words from around the world, such as gorrero (Spanish, Central America) meaning a person who always allows others to pay, or pu'ukaula (Hawaiian) meaning to set up one's wife as a stake in gambling, or koro (Japanese) the hysterical belief that one's penis is shrinking into one's body.

remakes, surely (Lost in Translation)

Beijing - An extract from a speech by US President George W Bush is being used by authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing to test the English of leading officials in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, state media said on Sunday.

From News 24

"This exam tests not only the language level but also everyone's international perspective," said Zhang Tiedao, deputy director of the city's research department into science and education.

after the world cup draw, the useful phrases

The British embassy in Germany has launched a new website for the 2006 World Cup that includes translations of football phrases such as "he was sick as a parrot" for English fans travelling to the tournament next summer.

From Reuters.

Some of the translated phrases include "Ihm war kotzuebel" (He was sick as a parrot), "Er kotzte wie ein Reiher" (He puked his guts up) and "Wembley-tor" (Wembley goal), which refers to the controversial 1966 World Cup final extra time goal by Geoff Hurst when England beat West Germany.

What about other newspapers?

At the San Francisco Chronicle, there are problems

As more consumers get their news from electronic sources and advertising follows them, analysts warn that newspapers elsewhere — already losing an average of more than 2% of their subscribers yearly — might join the Chronicle in a steepening fall.

remakes, surely 6

the Latists 4


September 12th Lunchtime
Flintoff Doubtful for Australian Tour

SMS from Pa: r u rn L-dn m-thon ths yr 2?

Thumbs were too tired to respond. Shut down computer and tried tack two. See, if the Reading Room of the British Library wasn’t quite Club Shag on a Friday night, there still were – wait for it – three love-potential cafes around here: first floor, second floor and in the courtyard. All of them brimming with forlorn single-seater Acko-Tot.

But which to choose?

In the end I went upstairs: there’s a terrace outside for the post-wholemeal-nosh smokes. In the queue for the till I bumped into a legging’d-up honey in all-black carrying a copy of the New York Review of Books.

“I didn’t know they still read in America,” I said, hoping fashionable anti-Americanism would play well here.
She had to be American, of course. She looked at my tray with its thin ham sandwich (low fat, natch) and the crumble and custard.
“Bread usually signifies sexual frustration,” she said in a Warhol monotone. “Meat suggests anger, and custard that you are in need of comfort.”
“Really?” This was sounding good.
“So I suggest you go and rub yourself against someone closer to your own age. I do believe Agatha Christie is dead though. Germaine Greer comes in once a week. Thursdays I think.”
“That will be eight pounds and eighty two pence,” said a Kleb-faced cashier in a low Balkan drawl.
For a sandwich and crumble?
I got out my shiny vampire credit card – it never knows if it is alive or dead – and fingered a PIN number.
It’s definitely downstairs for tea.
Then I paid with cash.
From behind me I heard Warhol girl grouching. “I so hate cheap men, don’t you?”
Ms. Cash-Register Milosevic didn’t seem to disagree.

Do you know how expensive Pizza Express is? Not so bad, right? Place to catch a bite on those non business-lunch days. One American Hot, carafe of rot-wein and a spresso mouthwash to finish and it’s twenty quid max.

62% of all Pizza Express home deliveries are repeat orders, according to its website.
But when your beloved children Glenn and Jem go off to study Media (or forgodsakes Landscape Gardening) at the University of Brighton you don’t expect them to dine on Pizza Diavolo and five Peronis every bloody night in their first week.

The Vampire had been bled for £287 in precisely seven days. Don’t they have a student canteen down there? Fresher’s Weeks? Sponsored parties to meet people? Christian Union handouts? MacDonalds vouchers?

That card was for emergencies, not extra chillis on the bleedin’ side.
I guess I have the worst divorce lawyer in Britain.

I put the vampire bill away and went back to Chapter One: Art School and Early Beginnings.

No joy there still.

At the next desk a gray haired man – don’t they know about, it has 1080 shades for sale on its website for god’s sake (including ammonia-free colour for those allergic to ammonia): we did their online mailshots last year – is reading from Dislexia in a Non Dislexian World.

Well, I assume he is reading. He’s writing a lot of notes down.

I’m angry now. Anyway, wasn’t that a Police song?

I just can’t start on this book. I need stimulation. I threw a few starry-eyed surprise glances around at varied studious Acko-tot but as usual nothing was doing.
I went for a walk to buy some smokes.

“Hi Pa,” I shouted at the front door. There was no reply.
Downstairs in the kitchen there were signs of life: two empty bottles of Prosecco, an artichoke heart given the works, hot lemony butter drippings all over the table. Upstairs somewhere I could hear Astrid Gilberto singing about something light and flighty and flying down to Rio. Then there was laughter. Multiple laughter.
From the bedroom.
Pa’s bedroom.
I went off to see Magda and bought my third half-pack of Marlbies for the day.
“Still dreaming of the eighties?” she asked.
“Something like that,” I said. Behind her on the till is an unopened copy of the Daily Mail. Above its masthead is a cut-out picture of Elspeth. Exclusive extracts from I Married a Mini Monster continued.
It’s just because she’s a children’s author. People think she’s the Virgin Mary. Unlike Bloody Mary who’s taking one for the team right now with Pa.

I gave them another hour by slipping into the Comely Vice Admiral’s Daughter for a pride of gins. As usual the Iron Curtain was well represented, so I stuck to the West Berlin side of the bar and read the Standard pretending to be Harry Palmer.
Elsepth is on Newsnight.
Oh please.

The Tommy-Lee and Pammy for the Saga Nation have made it back downstairs it seems when I get back. I can smell cooking.
I just hope they’re not watching their own home videos.
Brace myself for Bloody Mary.
Only it’s not Bloody Mary.
It’s what the Hu*h Gr**T? Karen.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Henry.”
Who the hell is Karen?
“The Prodigal,” Pa said. “I told you all about him.”
Karen is in the 40-60 slot, another Blonde Da Vinci Code as far as I can work out. She gave me a crisp JFK immigration official stare.
“Did you come back earlier?” Pa said.
“Just got in. What’ve you been up to today?”
“Charity work,” Karen said, smiling. “Michael’s been helping me with my earthquakes.”
Pa sat down rather too smugly. “Karen works for an NGO.”

“I’m beat,” I said half a squirming love-dove hour later. “See you guys in the morning.”
“Nice meeting you, Henry,” Karen said.
At least she doesn’t look like a Daily Mail reader.
“It’s a quarter to nine,” Pa said.
“Writing’s tiring,” I replied. There had been enough collateral damage for one day.
“You’ll miss Newsnight,” Karen said, and Pa did his best not to smile.

9% of viewers 18-30 watch the BBC online.

l'esprit nouveau

This comes from the 1917 essay, The New Spirit and the Poets
(L'Esprit Nouveau et les Poëtes)

It would be strange, during an epoch when the absolutely most popular artform, cinema, is a picture-book, if the poets did not try to create images for the thoughtful and more sophisticated souls, who will not be content with the filmmakers' clumsy imagination. The movies will get more sophisticated, and one can foresee the day when the phonograph and the cinema will be the only recording techniques in use, and poets may revel in a liberty hitherto unknown.

Its author was the French, Italian, Polish poet, Guillaume Apollinaire

He too, was never quite sure of his identity.

So where are the poets?
And where is the liberty?

remakes, surely 5

spin on a costly propaganda slip up

The practical problem with such schemes—as any historian of the Cold War might have told the Bush administration’s eager beavers—is their inevitable exposure. That’s what happened decades ago, when C.I.A.-financed journalists and publications were exposed at home and abroad. Certainly that was the predictable conclusion of this misadventure, too, which relied rather heavily on the tradecraft of inexperienced and arrogant young Republican boobs at an outfit called the Lincoln Group

Full story

And this is from the Lincoln group website. No really it is:
A Case Study in Flexibility

Lincoln Group designed and produced tens of thousands of water bottles with custom messages for the Marine Corps during a dangerous conflict. The water bottles and their messages were produced locally and distributed throughout two major metropolitan areas in support of Coalition forces. These messages, written on the labels of the water bottles, promoted friendly discourse and encouraged religious pilgrims to call a phone number imprinted on the bottle in the event they noticed insurgent or criminal activity in their area.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

room with a view 5

And if this old world starts a
Getting you down
There’s room enough for two
Up on the roof...

nomads in flight, it just gets better

What is integrity in Texan?

linquistic integrity...

Indeed, "rendition" has some way to go before its definition becomes as elastic as that of "freedom" now is.

Always reliable

english teeth

Man in New York Times doesn't make obvious joke. Why?

remakes, surely? 4

today's view

Dec 12, 2005

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of
the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering

Saint Augustine

Is this why there is a slump?

"Art invariably grows out of a period when, in general, the artist admires his own nation and wants to win its approval. . . . The greatest grow out of these periods as the tall heads of the crop."

Scott Fitzgerald on Art and Patriotism

rooms with a view 4

But look at us now, quit driving,
some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
Just look at us now, start counting,
what adds up the way it did when we were young?
Look at us now, quit driving,
some things hurt much more than cars and girls

We're after the same rainbow's end -
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend

best fiction, 2005


web search, word of the year


...this year, the true meaning of integrity seemed to be of extraordinary concern. About 200,000 people sought its definition online.

remakes, surely? 3

the Latists 3

September 11th. Morning
England 290 for nine. (Flintoff 93 n.o)

I do like the tube – we worked quite extensively with London Underground for a while in the early pre Ken-Tsar nineties on one of those extensions to nowhere that took forever to build – but ever since that bombing I’ve been more taken with buses, truth be told. And from Bottenham to Euston is only about an hour and twenty minutes. It’s like traveling from London to Paris on BA, minus the taxis and the duty-free frisking.

In fact all I had to do this morning was climb over the back fence, shew away a fox cub, steal down the Terry’s side alley, double back to the high street and stand waiting with my hoodie on until the number 69 arrived.
And I must say for once Pa was spot on.

Not only is the British Library free, once you’ve paid a steep tenner to get a pass, but the tottie is quite spectacular. I mean it’s like being in the library of some Swiss finishing school except that old people – and me – can justifiably sit around staring into space and fiddling with their laptops and breathing heavily.
And opposite me?

Oh, only wife four: abso-lutelement.

I began to type. Chapter One: Art School and Early Beginnings.
On the Pod Hard-Fi were singing Living for the Weekend.
Great band.

The other great thing about this library even if it isn’t the most creatively inspiring of places is the books. It may well be that all the tottie in here already has a boyfriend – or a girlfriend from the looks I’ve been getting this morning – but there is this great added bonus. Stuff to read.
I’m inspired.

I began to type again. (The first document got binned somehow when I forgot to plug into the mains). Chapter One: Art School and Early Beginnings.
In the Bookseller it says that 63% of book buyers would consider a biography only if the author is on television.

Pa had cooked lentil risotto with parmesan and carrot juice when I got back via the Terry’s alley. And rain had blighted any hopes for a result in the last Test Match. Can’t decide which is the worse news.
“The good news,” Pa said, “is that Charlton are playing Wigan on Sky 2.”
I’ve always hated football. It is another of our discussion points.
See dad is pure grammar school, scholarships – almost an Oxford blue at centre half in the 1950/51 season, and all that. Me, I’m minor public school, second fifteen, art school, sniffin’ about…agency runner…got lucky with marketing computers…does that make sense?

It will do in time.

Ok, this the way he tells it, the old-school way: his education was free. It was broad and thorough and set him up for a balanced life caring and sharing and voting Labour come what may. Even when Labour is actually Tory, minus the foxes and flaggelants (though Blunkett is doing sterling work, don’t you think?). My education was patchy, narrow-minded, expensive and turned me into what pa still insists when he’s one-or-two-under is the Über Thatcher Kinder.
I mean I didn’t even vote for her the first time.

“Great,” I said – for I want as few stressful moments at home as are absolutely necessary.
“I thought you hated football.”
“Grown to love it, since Sky.”
“How’s Mary?” I said.
“I don’t know,” Pa growled. “She’s not my girlfriend.”
“I didn’t say she was.”

Since Ma died I’ve become aware that Pa has a lot of lady friends. I mean not one or two but several. I can’t say I get on with them so well.

It must be me: Even Snow-Queen Elspeth who obviously was hot against all age-gap relationships, especially mine, excepted Pa from all criticism.

“How was the writing?” Pa said, flipping to a programme about another mysterious disappearance in Australia. Frankly if Australia disappeared completely I wouldn’t be so unhappy. The footie was still twenty minutes away.
“Oh, pretty good. Starting with my youth.”
“What you can remember of it.”
“Yah, what I can remember of it.”
“So can I read it?”
“Not yet, pa. Not yet.”
“There was a woman outside here all day.”
“And you didn’t talk to her, did you?”
“Only for five minutes.”

Dreamt I was in Cuba. I’m sitting at a bar in Havana drinking cuba-libres a mucho and across the way there’s some saucy Shakira just looking for trouble. Trouble is I’m reading Ronald Reagen’s autobiography for some reason and the next thing I know a bunch of stubbly Ché Guveras are interrogating me, whipping me with copies of the Daily Mail.
“Who was it?” They kept asking. “Charlton or Wigan?”

Woke in a sweat at day-break and for unfathomable reasons went for a run on Bottenham Heath. Pulled a muscle on the boarders of Wandworth high street. Limped to newsagents to buy the new GQ, Details and Dazed and Confused.

Never got beyond the already low pile of Daily Mails.

What a total Gr***ting Bitch.
And what is Pa doing saying she was a wonderful wife and mother?
“What’s wrong?” I heard some female voice. Turning I saw Bloody Mary.
“What?” I said.
“You’re crying,” she said.
“Groin strain,” I said. “Practicing for the London Marathon.”
53% of Brits do not exercise enough, says The Times.

rooms with a view 3

The source of the Danube

NOT, like his great Compeers, indignantly
Doth DANUBE spring to life! The wandering Stream
(Who loves the Cross, yet to the Crescent's gleam
Unfolds a willing breast) with infant glee
Slips from his prison walls: and Fancy, free
To follow in his track of silver light,
Mounts on rapt wing, and with a moment's flight
Hath reached the encincture of that gloomy sea
Whose waves the Orphean lyre forbade to meet
In conflict; whose rough winds forgot their jars
To waft the heroic progeny of Greece;
When the first Ship sailed for the Golden Fleece -
ARGO - exalted for that daring feat
To fix in heaven her shape distinct with stars

William Wordsworth

first book, 1968

It was called The Best of All Worlds
And wasn't by Voltaire

remakes, surely? 2

the new "new" journalism

From today's New York Times
In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group's radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.

Getting it right, post Judith?

The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call "truthful messages" to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.

Or from analogue days?

The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call, clear and beautiful, floated into the stagnant air. The voice continued raspingly:

'Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the newsflash -'

Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty.

Getting it close in 1949 here?

time for remakes, surely?

rooms with a view 2

in those sad and bright moments, when you or someone else
stand by the window, where the distant horizons, green,
look into your unconcealable soul – looking back at ourselves we see
geese and meadows, horses, wagons by the cottage and the wind mill

Vytautas Bložė
Two Greetings

When I was crossing the border into Canada,
they asked if I had any firearms with me.
I said, "Well, what do you need?"

Steven Wright

today's view

Dec 11, 2005 Europe

christmas reads

For those longer trips

The Poet Game Salar Abdoh
Opium Salar Abdoh
Le Grand Meaulnes Henri Alain-Fournier
The Third Woman Mark Burnell
36 Yalta Boulevard Olen Steinhauer
The Man Without
Robert Musil
The City of
Falling Angels
John Berendt


Always useful
Good to know there's a theory behind all this.
Plausible deniability is the term given to the creation of loose and informal chains of command in government, which allow controversial instructions given by high-ranking officials to be denied if they become public.

lingua nomad


...some agencies, such as the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Department of State, are increasingly using automated translation software. The FBI Languages Services Section, for example, has built the Law Enforcement & Intelligence Agency Linguistic Access System (LEILA). This is now operated by the National Virtual Translation Center. LEILA provides a web interface to a comprehensive database of language specialists, including detailed information about language skills and experience. Furthermore, LEILA is accessed by a number of law enforcement, intelligence, homeland security and defense agencies. Such agencies include the DEA, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS) and the CIA.

the Latists 2


September 10th. Late Sunday lunchtime
England 157 for three.

Bottenham is in London’s hammy basin – it’s not quite Clapham, not exactly Balham, and certainly not Streatham (and nowhere near Ham itself: that’s the bloody countryside in my book). It has a forest of Edwardian terraced houses that have filled slowly but surely with a cast of the usual smug sarf suspects. They all work in the law and the media and IT; often all three at once, it seems to me. Sneak through any window and you’ll see swathes of Billy storage solutions from Ikea and framed Damian Hirst prints from Tate Modern; well read job-sections from the super-soaraway newly compact Guardian peek out from the top of the midget front garden wheelie-bins where they nestle with walls of weight-watcher frozens and vineyards of empty Shiraz bottles.

Pa has had his place for almost half a century, he and ma bought it when he took up his first practice in Mitchum. 47 Parkinson Villas: four floors of south London quiet. For almost all that time the place was a messy survey of our teenager years, then Ma died and Pa started reading too many copies of Wallpaper magazine thanks to the wife of someone he goes wine tasting with in Italy.
There are many new plans now, and the model railway mags are long gone.
And I was thinking of selling them on e-Bay. It’s not like I’m cash-abundant these days.

Felicity and I grew up here, when things were a little different. Of course we both got away as soon as we could: me north to the tender pastures of Highbury fields; Flicks even further to Cairo and all that…

These days Bottenham high street is full – but not so full – with all-night Tesco metros and franchised coffee houses and designer bathroom stores, though the average person actually walking around (this is the edge of People Carrier Country, after all) is as likely to be talking about family back in Gdansk as they are the rain that prevented more than a session being completed yesterday at Old Trafford.

I’ve made friends with young Magda, from Lodz, who works in the Threshers offie by the job centre. She has a boyfriend in the construction business over in Ealing and likes going dancing in Soho at the weekend. I tell her about my old offices on Wardour street and she smiles, as though the eighties is a long time ago.
£2.87 for ten Marlbie Lights. Holy mother…

As – newly discovered this morning after church (kitchen table readings from AA Gill and Michael Winner in Pa’s Sunday Times, not the old King James favourites about hell and redemption) – the horsey Mary can’t abide smokers I’ve taken the opportunity of the break between the duck in cider with celeriac dumplings and the pomegranate moose with lemon sorbet to cadge a half pack from Magda. If I walk home slowly enough I might get two down before battle re-commences. And if we’re really lucky the sun will come out in Manchester and we can booze away the afternoon in silent contemplation watching Freddie and Inzamam on Sky.

If not, I fear Mary is very keen to talk about Elspeth. One more glass of Argentinean white and she’ll lose – like she has so many – her inhibitions. I shuffled the Pod and got Razorlight singing Somewhere Else.

I really really wish I was, Sum Where Else…

Great band.

14% of kids between 13 and 18 have had sex with more than one person at the same time, according to a survey in The Sun.

The covers came out at two-twelve Pa said when I got back, checking on his retirement watch. I thought with the absence of play about a tactical retreat to my room – but at 50 years old this looks a little surly and teenage. A few tips of cognac hit my espresso and I waited.

“So Henry, Michael tells me you are writing?” Mary leant away as I turned, her nose doing one of those Bewitched unpleasantnesses.
Must be fag-breath.
“Yes Mary.”
“Is it a thriller? Like some of those books in your room?” When she asks a question Mary has all the charm of a special advisor to Tony Blair on Question Time. She’s of that indeterminate age between 40 and 60 that to be honest I have never truly – other obviously than when marketing to them – understood.

Call me superficial. I’ve known worse.

“No, no. It’s a business book, about my career in advertising.”
Mary takes a sip of wine. Always in my experience of these kinds of exchange a worrying sign. “I thought that was all over now?”

It is at time like this that I wish we had a butler who could be summoned by hand-bell and serve the port and discretely but definitively change the topic of conversation.

“It’s like acting,” I said. “Right now I’m just resting. Between parts.”
Wrong thing to say.
“I expect parts of the female population of London will be pleased.” Mary said. “Well, the younger ones, anyway. The personal assistants.”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you read, Mary. Particularly in the Daily Mail.”
“I’m sorry?” Mary is now the most perplexed person north of Putney. We’re not going to be friends – this I know.

“How was Kerry? Find any bargains?” Pa said, smoothly enough, just a hint of his famous GPA revealed. (That’s his Doctor’s Abruptness, the kind that kills off – as it were – too many intrusive questions about alternative medicines and legal ramifications).

And so Mary told us the tall tale of Kelvin and the tallboy and the amusing incident of the Italian lamp from Donegal. She has a small antique shop on the Wandsworth High road. And we must visit.

“I say,” she said a year or so later. “That’s a good shot.”

England’s cricket team was somehow back on the pitch and seven down and in the gloom that was not quite bad enough to end play for the day Freddie F was involved in a belligerent rearguard action with a young wicketkeeper from Northants.
“Anyway,” Mary said. “Good luck with your book. I suppose you must be hoping for sales like Elspeth’s?”

If I sell one tenth of what she’s shifting I’ll be happy.

“I knew you’d like Mary,” Pa said sitting back into his rocking chair. And before I have time to confirm or deny he’s found one those high 500 satellite channels where everything is outdoors, and kayaks and over-bright polyester trousers feature heavily.
“It’s about the third attempt on Annapurna 2,” Pa said. “Famous.”
Pa still climbs.

I went back to kitchen and made vague shamanic gestures at the sink. When that failed to achieve the desired effect I poured myself another cognac and stepped out into the garden for my last Marlbie of the day. Down by the hydrangeas a fox was making mincemeat of small bird, genus unknown. I noted its twilight colours: I need all the conversational gambits I can find if I’m going to keep Pa – and Bloody Mary – off my back.

My mobile rang. For a change I answered it.

“This is Katy Harms, from the Daily Mail. We’re just doing a follow up to your ex wife’s serialization. There’s been a marvelous response to it.”

The next morning I read that I was unavailable for comment.
And there was a young woman waiting on our doorstep to help remedy this fact.

last christmas

Christmas is a time when you get homesick
- even when you're home

Carol Nelson

a christmas playlist

Mexico The King of France
Better Big Strides
Biology Girls Aloud
Arabesque Henry Mancini
Avalon Juliet
Miles Away Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mary Mary Superthriller
Obsessions Suede
Fake Tales
of San
Arctic Monkeys
Go ask
Burt Bacharach
Somewhere Else Razorlight
It hurts me so Jay-Jay Johanson
Cucurrucucu Paloma Caetano Veloso

rooms with a view

It's time to end my holiday and bid the country a hasty farewell.
So on this gray and melancholy day, I'll move to a Manhattan hotel.
I'll dispose of my rose-colored chattels and prepare for my share of adventures and battles,
Here on the twenty-seventh floor looking down on the city I hate and adore!
Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first-nighting.
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel; they're making me feel I'm home.
It's autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love. Autumn in New
York is often mingled with pain.
Dreamers with empty hands may sigh for exotic lands;
it's autumn in New York;
it's good to live again.

Vernon Duke
Autumn in New York

Soldiers, what finer worth
there upon this earth
than the borderlands can show?

Balassi Balint
Soliders' Song

home once

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant,
who finds peace in his home


The illiterate of the future will be the person
ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen


rich history

false history gets made all day, any day,
the truth of the new is never on the news
Adrienne Rich