Monday, January 28, 2008

Patroclus And Mr BC Watch...The Movies


PATROCLUS and MR BC are in bed, squinting at a tiny laptop screen, upon which is playing a video of culty new science-fiction film 'Cloverfield', which an anonymous person has charitably videoed in a cinema (or 'theater', as Americans call them, and let's face it this was probably an American cinema - or 'theater' - as Cloverfield isn't out here yet, or is it, I don't know, I haven't actually been to the cinema since January 2006, because of the fear) and then uploaded to the interwebs for the viewing benefit of the poor deprived citizens of Region Two.

(Once, in my more Web 2.0-enthusiastic days, I wrote a gushing little article about how watching badly pirated torrents in bed on one's laptop was THE GLORIOUS FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT. I now concede that the format may have some flaws.)

Anyhow, we're about 20 minutes in, and our viewing reactions are starting to diverge somewhat:

MR BC: Ooh, wow, look at that.

PATROCLUS: What is it, some sort of monster?

MR BC: It's a giant alien, cool.

PATROCLUS: Pfft. This would never happen in real life.

MR BC: That's why they call it science fictio- oh, never mind.

Monday, January 21, 2008

But What If The Beard Got Stuck In The Photocopier? Health And Safety, You See.

When I was a Very Important Executive, as opposed to the idle layabout that I am now, one of my more dubious management perks was that I would automatically receive all of the CVs sent in by people applying for jobs with us.

Normally I would read through these with a view to reaffirming my own snobby prejudices viz. that the entire country's education system is going to the dogs, with the result that young people these days can barely spell their own names, let alone muster the intellectual nous and wherewithal to, say, write a press release unaided*.

However, despite a frequent lack of grammatical expertise, not to mention a widespread tendency to sprinkle apostrophes where they were not needed while omitting them from places they should have been, most applicants at least managed to put together a fairly robust argument for why they should be considered for the job in question.

Except one.

This was a CV from a jobbing actor who was applying for a position with us - presumably because poncing about pretending to be someone else practising 'the craft' wasn't bringing in enough loot to support day-to-day existence in The World's Most Expensive CityTM.

As well as including a number of moody headshots and listing his screen appearances, the applicant in question also reassured us that among his key skills were the ability to:

a) Adopt a Yorkshire or Birmingham accent upon request


b) Grow a convincing beard in three days.

As these weren't necessarily attributes we were looking for in an office administrator, he didn't get invited in for interview.

I often wonder how things would have turned out if we had given him a job, though. Maybe we could have opened up a lucrative sideline as an undercover detective agency specialising in Northern and Midlands-based cases. Maybe we could have added another trophy to the groaning shelf by spectacularly winning the prestigious All-London Marketing Agency Facial Hair Growing Contest. Maybe we could all have been extras in an episode of Heartbeat. Who knows?

* A prejudice not actually borne out in reality, but that's the lovely thing about prejudices, isn't it - you can just ignore anything that doesn't fit them and only focus on the things that appear to back them up.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Quote Of The Week

The pilot who safely landed the crashed plane at Heathrow yesterday isn't talking to the press, so the BBC went to talk to his neighbour instead. Her reaction:

"Mrs Firminger said she was not surprised Mr Burkill dealt with the situation so well. She said: 'He's absolutely gorgeous. He's all you imagine an airline pilot to be. He's very good looking.'"

If your plane ever gets hi-jacked by Johnny Depp, at least you'll know you're in safe hands.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Evil Facebook Will Destroy Nature, Joy, Liberals, Etc., Says The Guardian

The Facebook backlash is underway in earnest, and speaking as someone who's never liked the site very much - although reports of my alleged 'Facebook suicide' in certain Murdoch-owned media properties last year were somewhat exaggerated - I think it's not a moment too soon.

Over the past few months, Facebook has been accused of many things: of causing people to reveal too much information about themselves, for example, with implications for their careers, university prospects and financial security. It's been accused of unlawful invasion of privacy by revealing what people have bought online. It's been accused of plagiarism, in a lawsuit alleging that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for the site off some bigger boys when he was at Harvard. It has been accused (mainly by me) of making the internet an infinitely duller place, by insisting that people use their real names and only 'socialise' with people they already know.

Facebook has been accused of all these things. But, to my knowledge, it had never been accused of being the cornerstone of a CIA-funded, neo-conservative, libertarian plot to destroy the real world and replace it with a virtual one.

Until I read this article in the Guardian today.

Now, when you see the words 'CIA-funded', 'neo-conservative' and 'plot' in the same place, it's usually in the kind of loony rant that claims that G. W. Bush orchestrated the Sep. 11 attacks, or that Donald Rumsfeld is hiding a load of oil in his back garden until everyone else's runs out and he can TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

But even the wildest conspiracy theories about Bush and his cronies are trivial compared with what Facebook is allegedly up to. Get this:

" his own admission, [Facebook board member Peter] Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls "nature", and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook."

Crikey. 'Destroy nature', eh? I don't think there's anything casual about the use of the phrase 'the rise of Facebook' there, either. It's meant to call to mind the phrase 'the rise of Fascism'. Facebook isn't a social-networking site, according to the Guardian; it's a giant, ultra-right-wing experiment in mind control, and we're submitting ourselves to it willingly.

If we don't do something about it quick - the journalist suggests reading Keats's Endymion, but don't do that; it will only serve to reinforce Facebook's evil premise that people are only too happy to do whatever they see other people doing - soon the ultra-capitalist libertarians will have lured the entire planet into their virtual world, where Nature doesn't exist, people and their relationships are merely tools to be exploited for material gain, and profit is the only motive.

Sound familiar? I can't decide if it's Brave New World or Bioshock. Either way, it doesn't make Facebook sound very nice, does it? Looks like those of us who stuck with blogging were right all along.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Renaissance Historians: Your Help Needed

Flicking through the Christmas double-bill issue of the Economist, I happened upon an article about the social history of kitchens (which is the kind of thing that passes for light-hearted Christmas entertainment in that magazine, bless its highbrow little heart).

There was some talk in the article about the fact that Henry VIII had had 55 separate kitchens at Hampton Court, including a ewery, a buttery, a victualling room, and a chaundry.

I'm now deeply intrigued as to what a 'chaundry' might have been. Does anyone know? In applying all my comparative linguistical knowledge to the word, I can only infer that it refers to meat preparation of some kind (French: chair = flesh, Italian: carne = meat), but beyond that I'm at a loss.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What Not To Wear

I have a spiffy* new drab-coloured knitted woollen dress thing, which I am very pleased with as I got it in the Monsoon sale for a mere twenty-five pounds. As it was in the sale I can only assume that drab knitted woollen dresses are now hopelessly unfashionable, which suits me fine, as 'hopelessly unfashionable' is my signature look and I am sticking to it.

(I have, for example, chosen to ignore the persistent skinny jeans and boots-on-the-outside trend, and blithely continue to wear bootcut jeans with nary a thought for what whatsername Carter-whatsit might have to say on the matter. Whatsername Carter-whatsit will get her comeuppances when the horrid skinny-jeans and boots-on-the-outside trend finally goes away and I will turn out to have been deeply stylish all along.)

Anyway, this morning I thought I would début this new dress to the world by wearing it to one of the West Country's hippest hangouts, viz. Costa Coffee in Falmouth High Street**. With some black opaque tights and black knee-length boots it would look quite the thing, I thought. Thus attired, I descended to the living room and declared myself ready to venture forth into Society.

'Oughtn't you to put some trousers on first?' asked Mr BC, mildly.


* Sorry, I've been reading P.G. Wodehouse.

** Which isn't actually its name at all.

Friday, January 04, 2008

We Didn't Meet Any Heptagamists, Though


PATROCLUS and MR BC are walking along the beach with S., Patroclus's old friend from university, and his boyfriend, R., after a long, decadent lunch and a lot of reminiscing and catching up.

S. pauses to light a cigarette.

ME: I miss cigarettes.


ME: Cigarettes were my only friends.

S.: What! I'm your friend! What makes you say that?

ME: I'm not sure why I said that.


ME: That's like saying I like to watch my friends die.


ME: I like to set fire to them, and watch them die slowly in front of my face.


ME: Knowing that they dedicated the whole of their short little lives to my pleasure.

We finish the rest of the walk in silence.

UPDATE: I'm not sure this was the sort of post Fat Roland had in mind when he said I 'bring a beautiful humanity to the blogocube'.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's Half-Hearted New Year Listmania!

Unlikely Imagery Employed By Popular Musicians To Create A Sexually-Charged Atmosphere:

1. Aphids.

"The aphids swarm up in the drifting haze..."

Duran Duran - The Chauffeur (mp4)

(When I was 17, I thought this was the sexiest song I had ever heard. Now it sounds like it was written by Simon le Bon mixing up the 'Poetry' and 'Erotic' fridge magnets and throwing them at the Smeg door.)

2. Listerine.

"Use me like Listerine, keeping your breath fresher..."

Lovage - Book Of The Month (mp3)

(I'm 37 now and I think this is the sexiest song I have ever heard. Clearly I don't learn. Also, I hate the word 'sexy'.)