The Snow In The Summer or So-So

08/28/2006 - 09/03/2006

Mon 28 Aug 2006

Elle sank

Team L5 on «Fort Boyard» this week-end. Gawks, they're a bunch of shriekers. Couldn't be louder if they hollered at the top of their lungs. But something else stood out. That Marjorie (left) looks rather familiar, with a dyed-purple fringe and a piercing below her lower lip. Could it be that Melle. Parascandola is, in fact, someone exceptionally cool? Indeed, could Team L5's very moderate success on the programme be Olivier Minne getting his own back? If Dermot Murnaghan has succeeded Angus Deayton as Television's Mr. Six, then Olivier Minne is surely Monsieur Tele Six.

On the BBC, there's been a new comedy sketch show, Little Miss Jocelyn. It stars Jocelyn Jee Esien, and is probably the best one-shot sketch show the Beeb's done in a long time. The businesswoman, a brilliant idea. The traffic warden, excellent. The surgery nurse, there's growth in that character. Some of the skits - the marriage guidance one in particular - went on too long, but the show was funny throughout. Regrettably, it looks like the programme is going to turn into one long stream of catchphrases - This will take a loooooong time and Save yourself! Save yourself! were obvious from the first episode. You can't do much with catchphrases, and ITV's The Sketch Show was right to avoid them in favour of more difficult comedy. That remains the mark by which I'm judging the modern sketch, and Little Miss Jocelyn doesn't quite measure up. Good start, though.

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posted 28 Aug 2006, 16.10 +0100

Two Songs a Week 25 - Derbs

Richard Darbyshire is the next nominee in my Great Composers Of Our Time list. He was, of course, the singer and songwriter for late-80s group Living In A Box, who became famous with their eponymous single in 1987. I'm not entirely sure that it's the ultimate evolution of electronic music, as Ashley Pomeroy argues. Indeed, I'm not entirely convinced that it was the group's biggest hit, at least in this country.

After breaking up the group in the early 90s, Darbyshire had a brief solo career, one album released in 1994 to a very moderate reception. The last we heard of him was when he wrote a potential Song for Europe the other year. It got nowhere, and it's a waste of a perfectly decent writer.

The group's biggest hit, a number 2 from October 1989, is the anthemic Room in your heart. It encapsulates the soul-pop, and adds an unusual sweeping, almost symphonic, sound.

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posted 28 Aug 2006, 18.08 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Tue 29 Aug 2006

"I want to find out not who I am, but who I can be."

A distinct sigh of relief and major hurrah!s for Friend of the Great Northern Line, Desmond's Kitty, who has signed Juan Veesa to her fantasy football team. Nifty little midfielder, very much the definition of a utility player. Nice one, Cyril.

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posted 29 Aug 2006, 18.46 +0100

Not going bang anytime soon
The International Herald Tribune had an article yesterday on the fictitious bomb plot. You can read that article in full, but here are the salient points:

* There was no imminent attack and the plot wasn't near it's final stages.

* The police struck because of fears that other unidentified terrorists might strike in the wake of arrests.

* Two suspects didn't have passports.

* There were no tickets bought or reserved by anyone.

* The police have no idea of any 'target date' for an attack.

* The report of 10 planes is described by police as 'speculative and exaggerated'.

* Officials are unsure if any of the suspects were technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives whilst airborne.

* After Rauf's arrest in Pakistan, John Reid claimed the suspects were contacted with a message saying 'Go now'. A senior official says the message wasn't that explicit.

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posted 29 Aug 2006, 19.15 +0100

Compare and contrast

At the end of this link is the logo for Radio 5, the new Dutch station. On the background of this page is the logo for Channel 5, the British television station which celebrates its tenth birthday next March.

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posted 29 Aug 2006, 19.27 +0100


Wed 30 Aug 2006

Deity news

The GOD Organisation has been receiving a lot of correspondence about this claim, and has put out a press release:

26 August, 2006

Commenting on the reported statements of Katherine Harris that "god is the one who chooses our rulers", the GOD Organisation's duty spokesgod Xpiacoc said,

"Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Looks like K'inich Ahaw, the sun deity for the part of the world, has been beating his drum on Katherine's pretty little head. She knows she should wear a hat to ward off the sun. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that she's been eating some of the corn I used for Humanity v 1.0, but let's not go *there* again.

"Her statement, that we in the GOD Organisation choose the rulers of people is technically true. We know that humans in general, and Katherine in particular, have previously declined to recognise or honour our choices. We have ways of forcing the matter to our way of thinking, as we are all utterly omnipotent."

The baptist god was unavailable for comment, as she was conducting a swimming lesson.

-- ENDS --

Contact: Xpiacoc - pray 04-33-29, or run up the temples in Mexico.
Baptist god - pray 08-16-33, or messages in bottles c/o The Neptune Post Office.
Press office - pray 10-10-10
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posted 30 Aug 2006, 19.10 +0100

Brem or No Brem

In which Kieron Gillan, always first to the hits, proposes his Top 40 of 2005. What a genius idea.

Of course, we're all going to have our opinions - 40 is far too low, 20 has just grown and grown since its first release. Apology accepted for 19. 14 deserves another airing, 8 has benefitted from the eight-month delay between listing and write-up.

The first sentence of 17 is the single most insightful point anyone has ever made about popular music. Ever. Including - nay, especially - me. And this is why Kieron is such a worthwhile read. And a comic writer, too.

In other pop news, I am not Pete Doherty, says someone we wouldn't know from Adam. No, Mr. Doherty is busy hanging around with Marjorie and the rest of the L5 girl gang.

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posted 30 Aug 2006, 19.15 +0100

Isn't Google wonderful?

24×0 support! No wireless access! Private data read by others! Ads inside applications! No uptime guarantee! Ben Metcalfe quotes a tongue-in-cheek press release, but it does raise genuine questions. Should the world be trusting everything to G****e, the world's largest advertising agency? When responding, remember that all the criticisms above are valid and accurate, if a little over-the-top.

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posted 30 Aug 2006, 19.50 +0100

Intellectual| Shilling

Thu 31 Aug 2006

Two Songs a Week 26 - Take Amy

It is remarkable that Quirks should leave a comment all about the goodliness and high quality of Amy Studt. Especially when I'd previously decided that 2SW:26 would be about the best singer to come out of Bournemouth in many a year.

Amy Studt appeared on the scene in the summer of 2002, when the charts were clogged up with the detritus from Pop Idle I. (Remember Sarah Whatmore? Exactly.) The lead-off single Just a little girl was something a bit different, borrowing the quiet-verse-shouty-chorus concept from grunge. The song was a moderate hit, selling into the top 20 here for a couple of weeks, but garnering airplay into the autumn.

At the time, Studt was managed by Simon Fuller, a man who built his career by rarely making an error. In this case, Fuller ballsed it up bigtime. Second single Misfit didn't emerge until summer 2003, by which time the public had been captivated by Napanee's golden girl Avril Lavigne. Studt more than held her own here, drawing on the pen of Karen Poole (qv) for an outsider's take on an English high school. It was thoroughly refreshing to hear of something other than the clichés of the Yank culture, though the video pandered to this imperialist tendency.

Under the thumb followed its predecessor into the top ten, but then followed another grave error from the Fuller-meister. Rather than releasing any of the half-dozen decent songs on the album - including work from Cathy Dennis (qv) and Gary Barlow - the fourth single would be an unnecessary cover of All I wanna do. The phrase, "We had enough of this first time around," sprung to mind. It just missed the top 20 in the new year lull at the start of 2004, and Studt was dropped about ten minutes later. A shame: her career failure was almost totally from management errors.

Still, we can remember the good songs. The album, False Smiles seems to be featuring in many a sale for about four quid. One of the great songs not included, and thrown away on a b-side, is Queen A, so much of a sister song to Misfit that it turned up on the same cd single.

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posted 31 Aug 2006, 18.41 +0100

Two Songs a Week
All politicians are liars

In Iain Dale's comments, an ex-BBC staffer recounts what it's like to interview certain leading politicians.

Prescott - got angry at a whim, his staff were petrified of him
John Reid - just vile and attacked journo rather answer an honest question
Blair - slimy and his staff repugnant
Brown - we never ever saw him in the regions
Milburn - happier talking to a blonde
Byers - under rated and frequently honest which surprised me
Blunkett - his staff had a real thing of us not filming him putting the harness on his dog (they would surround him during this action)
Beckett - what's the point

Another week, another vanity party. This time, it's former Scottish Socialist Party leader the tee-total and faithful to his wife Tommy Sheridan, who has set up shop. Welcome, Sheridality.

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posted 31 Aug 2006, 18.58 +0100


Fri 01 Sep 2006

Voi perkele!

Language Log on how to swear in Finnish. We're not talking about singing Lapponia, either.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, look around you. It's elementary.

Further proof that Konnie Huq is the new Valerie Singleton comes with news that she'll be presenting documentaries for the Asian Network. Annoyingly, the reports will air at 6.30 on a Monday evening, opposite Huq's main job, Blue Peter. Still, there's always Listen Again...

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posted 01 Sep 2006, 19.48 +0100

Bragg -v- MTV

Billy Bragg finds that Viacom's cheap new programming MTV Flux steals people's music for no return at all. MTV claims that this is incorrect, and the creator retains rights, but it's not at all clear if the creator can demand that MTV stop showing their work. For that reason, we cannot endorse the Multiple Theft Vehicle, because it is Fluxedup.

The industry types at Record of the Day disagree, as is their right. Doesn't mean they're right.

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posted 01 Sep 2006, 20.20 +0100


Sun 03 Sep 2006

John Reid's hundred days are up

Shortly after assuming office, interior minister John Reid called his department "not fit for purpose", and gave himself 100 days to make people safer. That deadline expired on Friday. Has Mr Reid met any of the tests I proposed at the time?

* I am afraid that the police and the secret service are a law unto themselves, and there are no adequate checks and balances into their actions. Will you bring the police closer to the public by cancelling your predecessor's proposed force mergers? Will you allow us free and unfettered oversight of MI5 and MI6? Will you allow someone independent of the judicial system to investigate the allegations of extra-ordinary rendition?

The force mergers have been cancelled. There has been no action on the other points.

* I am unsettled by the government's persistent attacks on civil liberties and the primacy of parliament. Will you commit yourself and your government to upholding the entirity of the European Declaration of Human Rights, and abolish a predecessor's derogation from some articles? Will you repeal the sections of the Serious Crime Act 2005 relating to protests around parliament? Will you withdraw the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill now, so that we don't have to pursue the case through the courts.

None of this has come to pass.

* I am unhappy that the department looks like it is over-reaching itself; it has recently admitted errors in the criminal records screening process. It has recently committed itself to building a biometric database of everyone in the country, for which no tolerance of error will be acceptable, a task that appears far beyond the capabilities of the ministry at present. Will you suspend all pursuit of this aim until such time as all branches of the ministry are capable of completing its existing tasks without a single error for a full year?

Nor this; indeed, the interior ministry has pressed ahead with its ill-formed plans.

* I am insecure because I don't know what the government and its agencies are doing. Will you promise, once the legal proceedings have finished, to review the Kratos guidelines and confirm whether the police do have a shoot-to-kill policy? Will you commence a full public inquiry into the London bombings of last July?

The criminal legal proceedings have now finished, though there is still a civil action to be defended. There is no inquiry.

* I am unsettled by the constant changes within the Interior Ministry. Will you write a resignation letter, post-dated to 1 September, to be activated if you have failed to achieve all of these aims? For if any of these matters are not resolved, I shall not feel safer, and - by your own admission - you shall have failed in your aims.

There was no post-dated resignation letter, but I do not feel safer, not least because Mr Reid has pulled the UK out of air travel conventions - and failed to explain his reasoning at all. John Reid is, therefore, a complete and utter failure, and it is time for him to resign.

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posted 03 Sep 2006, 13.54 +0100

The news to-day. Hoo boy.

In the papers to-day: Armando Iannucci reveals Tony Blair's plan to expand the year to 68 months. And Patience Wheatcroft reckons the supercasino is a stitch-up and it's going to the Millennium Doom. Dr Fox says that Turkey should join the EU, Peter Taylor wonders why the west won't talk to al-Qaeda. The Sindie says that Blair will be served notice to quit by his cabinet next week. And in the tabloids, more lies.

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posted 03 Sep 2006, 14.28 +0100

Music in week 35

The artist airplay list.

1. 5 kasabian   8
2. 2 pink   7
3. 4 lily allen   6
4. - thom yorke   5
5. - arctic monkeys   5
6. 6 nelly furtardo   4
7. 7 kelly clarkson   4
8. 9 feeling   4
9. - kooks   4
10 - shakira   4

The changes this week come in France, where Mylene Farmer's Peut-être toi comes straight in at number 3, and Bob Sinclar puts Rock this party in to 5. Not much else happening out there, though we're pleased to see Marion Raven - formerly of M2M - teaming up with Meat Loaf on It's all coming back to me now, top 20 in Norway.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 16 Pink - Who knew?
 19 re Lostprophets - Rooftops
*18 20 Nadiya - Roc
 17 11 Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
*16 17 Cascada - Everytime we touch
*15 NE Iron Maiden - Reincarnation Benjamin Breeg
*14 NE Arctic Monkeys - Leave before the lights
 13 12 Clitring Aguilera - Aintnootherman
*12 NE Snow Patrol - Chasing cars
 11 15 Plage - Coup de boule
 10  9 Feeling - Fill my little world
  9  8 Rhianna - Unfaithful
  8 14 Kooks - She moves in her own way
  7  4 Automatic - Monster
* 6  6 Basshunter - Boten Anna
  5  5 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
  4  3 Lily Allen - Smile
* 3  7 Kasabian - Empire
  2  2 Shakira - Hips don't lie
* 1  1 Nelly Furtado - Maneater

Iron Maiden and Arctic Monkeys are two very distinct faces of British rock. Snow Patrol is just shite.

The UK singles, now as as-live notes from the Top 40 show. JK and Joel are rubbish.
Muse at 38 is another four-minute anthem. Like it.
Bert Bills is also rubbish, and 30 on downloads.
Number 29 is a rather fantastic sing-a-long song, and Little Man Tate have the Highest Proper New Entry.
Basement Jaxx still haven't split, and have a number 27 hit to boot.
Rather pleased to see that, even after physical release, Sandi Thom only has the one top 20 hit - the second single from pop's Kaycee Nicole only makes 22.
Cor, Kasabian won't leave the top 20 - such are the benefits of a) having a grower as your first single, and b) not playing it on the radio until it's in the shops.
Twit and Twitter are giving away tickets to the Merc prize. Who cares about that any more?
Much as we like Nelly Furtado being foxy, we do rather think that she's blowing away her Radio 2 audience with every release. Can't quite see Ken Bruce playing this one.
Feeling miss the top 10 with their Cliff Richard sound-a-like.
Pink's also short of the top 10. Not only is she breaking every copyright rule in the book, she's also a wanker.
Fratellis all the way up to 5, a good surprise.
The so over-hyped it hurts Scissor Sisters are number 4 on downloads. Makes Twit and Twitter sound interesting.
Bouncey No-brain is down to 3...
Shakira's still in the top 2 at 2, so Justin Trousersnake takes the top spot. Rejoice, all ye fans, and wake me up if he ever records a proper song.

Below the 40, it's good to see Lemar coming so close - at least there's one proper star left from the Academy. Note the very lax sales around number 40 this week, and the new-single-bounce for old releases from Muse and the Fratellis. Haven't seen that last phenomenon in years.

On the albums front, Kasabian's album, also called Empire, takes the top spot. Two other contenders for Best Newcomer awards, Bob Dylan and Iron Maiden, also place in the top five; Muse and Nelly F climb back into the top 10. Cassie and Maria Lawson are somewhat lower, while Stacie Orrico and the Sunshine Underground benefit from soft releases. Not sure about Motorhead's appearance, but that's nothing new.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 2  2 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 5 35 Fratellis - Chelsea dagger
11 28 Pink - You and your hand
12 24 Feeling - Never be lonely
14  8 Arctic Monkeys
  - Leave before the lights come on
15 ** Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
19 15 Kasabian - Empire
21 18 Lily Allen - Smile
23 11 Matt Willis - Hey kid
26 25 Kooks - She moves in her own way
29 NE Little Man Tate - House party at Boothy's
33 30 Lazy B - Underwear goes inside the pants
36 43 Pink - Who knew?
38 ** Muse - Starlight
41 ** Lemar - It's not that easy
42 40 View - Wasted little deejays
43 45 Feeling - Fill my little world
51 58 Kooks - Naive
54 17 Morrissey - In the future when all's well
55 23 Thom Yorke - Harrowdown hill
56 70 Muse - Supermassive black hole
63 48 Orson - Happiness
66 56 McFly - Please please
71 49 Mousse T / Dandy Warhols -
  - Horny as a dandy
75 re Fratellis - Henrietta

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posted 03 Sep 2006, 19.38 +0100

Weather in week 35

Another unsettled week, with showers on and off during Monday and Tuesday, and longer periods of rain in the early hours of Friday and during Saturday.

28 Mo sun, showers        10/19, 2.5
29 Tu sun, showers         9/17,12.5
30 We sunny spells         9/19
31 Th cloud               15/21
01 Fr rain to sun         14/23, 3.0
02 Sa rain                13/18, 7.5
03 Su sun, windy          18/24, 0.5

Eight degree cooling days this week, the summer's total moves to 320. The last three years: 214/237 last year, 173/184 in 2004, and 272/310 in 2003. The corresponding week has never been warm in the past three years. The August rainfall total was 88.5mm, above the 73mm average. September, of course, has totalled 11mm so far.

Next week will see much more settled weather, and a day or two of positively warm sunshine. Some rain is possible midweek, and temperatures will tail off towards the week-end.

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posted 03 Sep 2006, 19.41 +0100


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