Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Urban Legends

“I’m often run into by cyclists on pavements.” What motivates some people to make up stuff like that?
(Paul Thompson @raganello)

Trump has said: ‘I saw 1,000 muslims dancing in Jersey City on the night of 9/11. Many people saw it. I saw it.’ You would have thought some evidence would have emerged. Some shred of evidence. And he says, ‘Oh, no. I know it. It’s true. 100 people called me and said the same thing.’ (Deborah Lipstadt)

The first-person experience is an urban legend template, often found on Facebook. I have heard or read all these.

I look out of my window and see all these vastly obese people.

Look down any British street today ... and you’ll see fat people. (Carol Midgley in the Times)

Apparently Waitrose is preferable to Tescos because you are less likely to bump into “single mothers with large numbers of children with different fathers” and there are “fewer people on obviously bad diets”.

I was going to vote Remain, but I go into the supermarket and the banana is straight. I’m sick of all these silly rules they impose on us. (BBC Question Time)

My corner shop is so full of immigrants I can’t get to the till.

I go into my local Tescos and there are three aisles devoted to Polish food.

I go into Tescos and I see immigrants buying food with vouchers.

My mother goes to the doctor’s and she’s the only white person there.

My Polish grandmother recently told me how Polish immigrants integrated so much better than immigrants today (ie black and brown immigrants) even though every story of hers about growing up is about how they only did Polish things with other Polish people. (Jessica Stone @MediocreFred)

My friend’s granddaughter can’t take bacon-flavoured crisps to school because of all the Muslims.

I go purple faced with rage when people perpetrate one of these 10 grammar errors.

My toddlers are crying because Nickelodeon is off the air for 17 minutes in support of the students protesting about gun control and Paw Patrol is the one show I let them see and I can’t explain it to them. (Twitter, paraphrase)

I’ve been sitting here in the hospital sobbing my heart out for an hour because they said I ought to get my grandchild vaccinated, and it was just so insensitive. (There was a string of these on Facebook, with variations.)

The past is viewed through rose-coloured spectacles.
When I was a child, all schools and Government buildings had a union jack flying outside them, not now.

Schools never shut – I used to walk four miles to school through snowdrifts.

I travelled alone on long train journeys when I was six and I was fine because there weren’t all these paedophiles then.

We all left our doors unlocked and I remember when it was all fields round here. And they didn't have all this innovation when I was young.

More nonsense here.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Received Ideas (in Quotes) 8

The fact is that the vast majority of people are absolutely impervious to facts. Test the average man by asking him to listen to a simple sentence which contains one word with associations to excite his prejudices, fears or passions --- he will fail to understand what you have said and reply by expressing his emotional reaction to the critical word. It was long before I understood this fact of psychology.” (
Aleister Crowley)

Racist and classist grammar was predominantly invented in England in the 1920s for school textbooks.
(via Twitter Sexist perhaps, but racist and classist?)

Twitter: People are so easily offended these days! Atheism is a religion. Won't somebody think of the children? If we come from monkeys why are there still monkeys LOL! Why isn’t there a white history month? You should be worrying about (something completely different). Wake up, sheeple! Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. (Via Alex Andreou of the Guardian)

“This exhibition is about challenging people’s preconceptions” says curator of show about venomous insects at the Natural History Museum, as if he was the first person to think of it.

"Making ends meet" refers to accounting: balancing "end" gains & "end" losses at the end of the year (where "meet" means "equal," not "come together"). (Jason P. Steed ‏@5thCircAppeals Surely ends of a piece of string?)

In the midst of sorrow and loss the symbolism of the weeping willow offered solace and reassurance the dead would rise to heaven as quickly as a willow branch takes root. (Surely the weeping willow is a symbol of mourning because of its drooping branches?)

Hazel nuts were said to have contained so much bite-sized wisdom they became the source of the phrase “in a nutshell.” (via Twitter. It's a metaphor for packing a lot of information into a few words.)

Reading The Old Curiosity Shop last night and noticed Dickens used 'bran-new' which was endnoted with explanation that china used to be packed with unwanted bran, so a fresh bit of china was 'bran-new'. (Claire Cock-Starkey @NonFictioness)

The Hawaiian beachcombers talk about their marbles being from ballast on ships from back in the day. (via FB)

In the late 1700's Sydney's Aboriginal people made stone tools from Thames flint, bought to Australia as ballast on convict ships.

There’s a yarn whereby someone had a load of pyrites, perhaps used as ballast, and had to get rid of it, thus leading to “streets paved with gold” – it was used to make roads.
 (@guessworker It's metaphorical again – it's so easy to make money here it's as if the streets were paved with gold.)

There is plenty of evidence for Britain's colonial past on the foreshore, such as this huge lump of coral at Rotherhithe. Used as ballast on ships returning from the West Indies.
(@ThamesDiscovery Possibly, but I doubt ballast stories on principle.)

Here's my favourite thing in Palermo. The kamelaukion with which Honorius III crowned Constance of Aragon as Holy Roman Empress in 1220. Found in her tomb when her coffin was opened in the 18th century. (mym @LiberalDespot)

Edvard Grieg wrote In The Hall of the Mountain King as a satire of terrible music and said he could barely stand to hear it. It is now one of his most played and best remembered pieces. (Quite Interesting @qikipedia)

Peter Lorre liked to claim he hardly knew any English when Hitchcock hired him for The Man Who Knew Too Much, but the wonderfully nuanced line readings he delivers in this film prove he was fibbing. (peterlorrecompanion.com In Fritz Lang's M he plays a sinister character who compulsively whistles In the Hall of the Mountain King.)

My teenage son told me that our insatiable appetite for quinoa has transformed it from a daily staple to an unaffordable luxury in some communities & that I therefore must never buy it... is there any truth to this? (@SnowdenFlood)

Nope. The idea that quinoa is unethical stems from a baseless, scaremongering article from 2013. It ironically has lifted tens of thousands out of poverty. Shows how damaging irresponsible journalism really can be, even years later. Feel free to enjoy it!
(James Wong @Botanygeek)

Putting an onion in your sock will NOT:
1) clean your blood,
2) filter out bacteria,
3) draw chemicals and poisons out of your foot, or
4) make your foot smell better.

More here, and links to the rest.

And if you like this sort of thing, why not read my book, expanded and updated.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Outrageous Excuses 2018

It has been a good year for excuses – so far.

I’m not the same person
I was in a dark place
I’ve said I was sorry
I know I’ve done wrong
I’ve gone into rehab
I stayed a whole week
I’ve entered a program
I’ve wrestled my demons
My life’s back on track
I’ve hired a good lawyer
My industry needs me
Redemption is possible
Don’t you believe?

It wasn’t me, it was the drink
You know I’d never hurt you
I only want the best for you
All I’ve ever done is for you
I snapped
My boss had a go at me
If you didn’t keep winding me up, it wouldn’t happen.
I love you so much. I don’t need anyone else.
You don’t need someone else.
(Coercive Control @CCCBurySt Ed replies)

"I'm a different person now from when I sent that abusive Tweet". This defence won't stand up in a court of law, neither will "It's all the victim's fault." We punish perpetrators, not victims.

Sexist tweets “are not a true and genuine reflection of either my character or beliefs. I had to apologise because I looked at the words I used and I didn't like them myself. They are not a reflection of my true character and they do not reflect the way that I was brought up by my parents.” New manager of the women’s England football team.

Making excuses for someone else: I understand that his depression manifests as anger, he always had a temper, the devil made him do it.

Backtracking: I didn’t spike a vegan’s food, as I claimed in an earlier tweet, I just served her a pizza with mozzarella on it blah blah.

Monroe Bergdorf says her abusive comments were “taken out of context”. I wonder if people think "context" means "situation in which I said these things"? I mean, "I was just emailing a friend", "It was a private text", "It was only a tweet". Perhaps they think it means "taken out of the private realm into the public realm"? But "taken out of context" means textual context, in which the surrounding text will change the meaning of the offending words, as in "religion... is the opium of the people" (Karl Marx), or "the poor are always with you" (Jesus). 

The lastest Tube bomber is saying he came to the UK because he wanted to be a wildlife photographer, and he planted the bomb because he liked the idea of being a fugitive chased by Interpol. (March 13, 2018)

Huge mistake, moment of madness, stain on my character. Not something I’ve ever done before, or will ever do again. (Says the footballer who spat at a 14-year-old girl, and was caught on camera, March 2018.)

Florida Teacher claims racist podcast was “political satire”. (@JoeMyGod)

“I don't know how that got there,” teen tells cops as they find 8” knife down his trousers in Shoreditch search (Hackney Gazette)

Daniel Handler “just has a potty mouth”.
"But he didn't mean that!"
"But that didn't offend ME."

This morning I met two men cutting down trees "because druggies hide behind them and shoot up". (@GeorgeMonbiot)

Alex Jones of Infowars is just a “performance artist” playing “a character” says his divorce lawyer.

Oh dear Henry Bolton busily insisting his lady friend’s messages were doctored. Like those people who are always hacked when they tweet pictures of their pudenda. (Matt W @Clavdivs1)
When pressed ... he clarified SOME were doctored SOMEWHAT. (Jo Phillips @joglasg)

Paul Townsley, who hit a woman when protesters surrounded Jacob Rees-Mogg, was snapped dressed in Nazi uniform. He “dressed up for a family do. He is a good man and a lot of people would support that”, said Mrs Townsley, quoted in the Times.

Rob Porter’s explanation for how his first wife ended up with a black eye: “They were arguing over a vase, which struck her.”

Ian Duncan Smith on the leaked economic impact report: "It was deliberately leaked because it gives a bad view, therefore we should put it to one side and just forget about it." (Not so much an excuse, more “Everything is all right really because reasons, we may have hit an iceberg but we should look on the bright side.”)

It is acceptable for some people, possessed of certain kinds of exceptional character, to behave in certain ways that for most people would be unacceptable since regarded as rude, intrusive or even immoral. (@johnmilbank3)

GP who's retired to France voted leave for his grandchildren, knowing it would make us poorer but we're a great trading nation and have been for centuries. And we discovered "the Internet".

Oxfam chief says backlash against sex scandal is an “overreaction”. The charity allowed the worker to resign rather than sacking him "because a scandal would undermine our wonderful work". (Paraphrase.)

How A Public Role Controversy Unfolds, in Six Parts

1. "I have many inflammatory opinions."
2. "I am delighted to take up this new role which is in no way incompatible with my inflammatory opinions."
3. "I am sorry for the inflammatory opinions I held years ago. I was a different person then."
4. "Yes, I also expressed several inflammatory opinions last week, but these have been misrepresented. When I said everybody except people like me is evil and should be destroyed this is a complex and nuanced view that has been twisted by people who aren't like me to make me look bad."
5. "If you didn't keep telling people about all the inflammatory opinions I have expressed there wouldn't be a problem here."
6. "With great regret I am giving up this role, at which I would have been brilliant, because this controversy has become a distraction from the matter at hand - and it's everybody's fault but mine. I hope you're happy with depriving those who need them of my help and insight." (David Bennun)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Jobs You Never Knew Existed (in Quotes) 2

Modelling agencies told me they're increasingly staffing secret "atmosphere models" for parties in an industry dominated by men (the tech industry).

An entire industry of “reputation management” companies exists which businesses can hire to create highly believable fake reviews, “fix” their reputation if they’ve received bad reviews, or sabotage their competitors. (medium.com)

Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, the food blogger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day “cleanse” programme – a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

Harold Camping is notable for issuing multiple failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations. (Wikipedia)

These young bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, Snapchatters - one gathers that they make a fortune by linking up with fashion houses who pay them to push goods, or they are given their own line of clothes or accessories. (Moira Redmond)

"What did you do in the content wars, grandad?" 
"I was an 'influencer', my boy, I pretended to really love things so brands would pay me." (Mic Wright ‏@brokenbottleboy)

Horses can help people with physical issues, speech problems, behavioural issues, emotional problems, and other disabilities. (equineassistedpsychotherapy.co.uk)

Mario Taddei makes his living making the inventions designed by Leonardo da Vinci. (Discovery)

We found a growing industry of “funsultants” offering advice on how to make workforces more positive. (Guardian Dec 2016)

People can say, with a straight face, that they're a "preschool consultant," or that they do "nanny surveillance" or "closet organization". (brickunderground.com)

Nanoco is the world's leading manufacturer of cadmium-free quantum dots.

He was part of the East Sussex hiphop scene and also put in the hours as a blues singer: neither field is known for producing the stars of tomorrow. At some point he must have bitten the bullet and thought: I could spend the next decade singing for the same ten blokes in the back room of the Prince Albert or I could compromise a bit and see where a major label could take me. (Will Hodgkinson on Rag’n’Bone Man)

Found the website of a clothing co. that makes made-to-measure 10th Dr brown pinstripe suits. Damn. Something else to consider saving for... (‏@LindenG)

Human geographer, transport mathematician, shopping historian. (Nancy Banks Smith in The Guardian Aug 23 07)

Master dinosaur builder. (Aart Walen)

More here.

Epithets 3

Classical poets like Homer referred to cow-eyed Hera, faithful Achates, pious Aeneas, rosy-fingered dawn, swift-footed Achilles, the wine-dark sea, all-powerful Kronos (Time), wind-footed Iris (the rainbow). Apollo (the sun-god) was known as “destroyer of mice”. Do "Homeric epithets" still exist? Who are the Dynamic Duo, the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader? The Iron Lady, Il Duce, the Bard, the Fab Four, the Swan of Avon? (Wikipedia says this is antonomasia.)

If you're looking for a role in life, this list may give you some ideas.

[Mr Quayle was] train-bearer and organ-blower to a whole procession of people.” (Charles Dickens, Bleak House Mr Quayle’s friends are all do-gooders, and this is his role. (Heroine Esther realised that “it was Mr. Quayle's mission to be in ecstasies with everybody else's mission and that it was the most popular mission of all”.)

“Offcuts of the New Left who originally met up at the Partisan Coffee House, but were in reality, rather than political activists or academic theorists, more the hefty drinkers, convivialists, half-forgotten artists and writers, or never to be known thinkers, working their way looking forward but stepping backwards to oblivion... ageing into a repetitive narrative and early death... a merry-go-round of ageing drunks with and without a ruined talent.” (Novelist Jenny Diski on the 60s denizens of Fitzrovia)

Elizabeth Taylor’s husband Eddie Fisher "dwindled into being her factotum, flourishing the onyx cigarette lighter, whistling for the limo".

There were a fair number of failure models on view: the drunk, the incompetent, the placemen and the pompous. (Julian Barnes Guardian July 2013)

ageing enfant terrible

attack dog

back-seat driver (micro-manager)
bellowing know-nothings (Owen Hatherley on planners who raze all 60s buildings)

co-op types
 (The entire class was full of co-op types, vegetarians in overalls and tie-dyed T-shirts. Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot)

daft ha’porth
(Matthew Sweet on hobbits and dwarves)
drama llama
drugstore cowboy
empty suits in seats of power (@davidhuyssen)
fading matinee idol

fang bangers
(fans of Twilight, True Blood etc)
feinshmekers (connoisseurs)
femme fatale
foot soldier
fortune hunter

gurt jobbernowl
gym buddy


intellectual yet idiot (All the right/left’s intellectuals are IYIs, depending on which side you are on.)

keyboard warrior 
lame duck
man of mystery

Mansplainer, whitesplainer, pagansplainer, instant expert who has been to one workshop

Monday-morning quarterback
my pet failure
nicknacketerian (collector or trader of bric-a-brac)
office spy
partner in crime
reality nobodies (Richie Brown/@whiffytidings)

shabby genteel

shadow spokesthing (David Aaronovitch)
Sieg-heiling tossweebles (@Gaipajama on UKIP)
mall goth
social climber
sore loser
stragglers (from a previous decade or the one before that)
Sunday painter

taxi-to-table breed
(in New York) (Times Sept 2015 on women who ostentatiously don’t wear tights – with their high heels - in winter.)

tennis nut
the crunchy-granola set (jezebel.com)

the poor-little-me type
(Agatha Christie. She points out that you can play this role even when medium-sized.)

useful idiot
What happened to “rock liggers”? They were people who turned up to press events for the free food and drink, or to mingle with people on the scene, without actually playing in a band or even being a driver or roadie or PR person or stylist or...

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Syndromes We Don't Have a Name For 5

Baby Duck Syndrome:
Users believing that the first software product they use is how all software should work from then on. Whatever's familiar, no matter how difficult, is going to be what that user wants to stay with forever. From baby ducks (and other fowl) imprinting on whatever they see first after hatching and considering that object to be their mother, even if it's a human or an inanimate object. (everything2.com)

Vision but no Strategy: This is very good news for all of us who want vision injected into the Brexit process. (Tim Montgomerie @montie)

This, in a nutshell, is the problem with Brexiteers. Every single one of them wants to talk about 'vision'. None wants to address detail. There is absolutely no shortage of vision. They're all ladling it out, because that's an awful lot easier than making sure planes can fly. All they've done is talk about what the glorious future will look like. None wants the boring hard work of actually making it happen. (@mrdavidwhitley)

Days of Future Past: Once upon a time teleworking was the future. (BBC Online)
I have serious rescuer tendencies. (slate.com)
Becoming the Mask (TV Tropes Live your life as if you were undercover.)

Former top dogs were now second-class citizens. (Sudeten Germans post the Hapsburg empire, which they ran.)

Daily reminder that capitalism will co-opt counterculture and sell it to you... (Counterpunch, with a pic of an army surplus hoodie covered with “hand-drawn” slogans. Links to marketing hipness, in the process making it mainstream, so there’s nothing left to sell.)

The Poetry Society, which precisely because it was a backwater was a viper’s nest of invidiousness and intrigue. (NYT)
Family dynamics where one person dictates everyone else’s behavior because everyone else is terrified of setting them off on another one of their “adult temper tantrums”. (slate.com Actor Charles Laughton used to throw a huge tantrum early on in a production and then was as nice as pie – but everybody treated him with terrified deference in case he did it again.)

Doubles down on her prejudice when called out. (slate.com)

Old-timer tries to be a giddy girly girl – for 22 years. (Cruel 19th century joke)

There are two things about psychopaths like him which are worth knowing. One is that they don’t have any friends. The other thing is that they don’t seem to do anything. If you get these two things together, look out.
(Elizabeth Jane Howard)

Most cargo cults in the South Sea died out fairly quickly because no cargo arrived: it was really hard to continue fooling themselves. (David Didau)

The feud consumes their lives and irrevocably damages their careers. (Greatest Mysteries)

I just checked out a new coffee shop. At the register, there's a sign that says there's no wi-fi so that customers "make a friend." It worked! My new friend is a different coffee shop. (@legogradstudent)

Once folk believe one daft thing, they can be encouraged to swallow a different daft thing. (@EUtopean And vice versa. Get a cult member/conspiracy theorist to doubt one thing about their complicated worldview and the whole house of cards comes down.)

“Oh sorry, we wouldn't have tried to bully and intimidate you if we realised you were middle class and articulate." (via Twitter)

Get your foot in the door just as it’s closing. Take up new fad just as the cool people drop it.
Have long-term plans, then realise the moment has passed. 
Plan to jump on a bandwagon, and then realise it passed years ago.
Crazy Optimism:
Urging the restoration of  Brighton’s burned-out pier as the charred skeleton collapses into the stormy waves of the English Channel.

The End of the World Has Been Postponed: Instantly coming up with a reason why the world didn’t end when you said it would, and why it will end on the new date you now put forward. (Rinse, repeat.)

Time for Violin Practice: Tendency of adults to force children to do something difficult, unpleasant and probably pointless, like learning Chinese. Or practising the violin when they have no musical talent and will never even be able to give a decent rendition of Greensleeves. Continue this for about ten years. The child then gives up lessons, puts away the violin and never touches a musical instrument for the rest of its life. The only thing that has been achieved is suffering and time-wasting for the child, but maybe this was the object. It scrapes at the violin, under duress, but at least it isn’t playing computer games.

Jeremiads: “The English language will soon be extinct” etc etc blah blah. (Jeremiah was always prophesying doom.)

We're All Doomed:
Academic or novelist rants about how some technological innovation (biros, Twitter, word processors, semaphore) is going to destroy novel-writing, letter-writing, conversation, civilisation, life itself etc many years after everyone else has accepted Twitter and it is such a part of people’s lives that nobody notices it any more.

Recency Illusion: Thinking this Thing has never happened before, even if it has happened every year for the past 30.

Civilisation flourishes for 1,000 years in a remote location. Then abruptly the city is deserted and elaborate temples, palaces, sculptures are left to the desert sands/jungle.

In a word:Foot-dragging: What happened when computers were first introduced into offices.
Worthy: 80s political cabaret.

The British way: Don't ask for help, when none is offered say "Thank you very much!" sarcastically, then complain, while congratulating yourself on your directness.

The Grass Is Greener: They do these things so much better in…

Flat Earthery is the new Alien Abduction: Youtube videos, lectures, conventions, followers, buy my book/DVD. Same template as Puritanism, Mormonism, Christian Science, revivalism, New Thought, fundamentalism, the End of the World is Nigh.

Hunger Games: Inviting people to dinner, or to stay, and never giving them quite enough to eat, or making them wait until 10pm.

Complain Brits won't eat free fungi.
Tell them how to find it.
Ccomplain there's no free fungi left because the Brits have eaten it all.

Entire academic department studies the way people’s minds are warped by capitalism and “false consciousness” but no plans are made to do anything about it. The academics' minds are never so warped, of course.

Free Will: Explaining at length that Man has free will – and then letting determinism in again by the back door. Claiming that we don’t have free will and then living as if we did.

Public Sculpture: Amazing persistence of councils in commissioning and erecting ghastly humanoid sculptures that are immediately called “Slag Alice”, “The Tart with the Cart” etc.

Mole Man I: I Impulse to dig amateur tunnels, like the duke who built a ballroom under a lake. Links to the male impulse to do something dangerous, time-consuming and expensive, especially if it involves competitive equipment buying.

Mole Man II: Infiltrate a protest group and incite it to break the law so you can crush it.

Temporal parochialism: Ice Age people had “modern minds like our own”.

A fading beauty clinging to the remnants of a career.

Tendency of peasants to wear traditional costume with huge starched headdresses and a lot of labour-intensive lace and embroidery (adding value to cheap materials).

Mirror, Mirror: Inability to see that your vast wig makes you look like an alien.

Thinking your friends are more important than they are.

Writing poetry even though you haven’t read any since school, and don’t see what’s wrong with non-scanning doggerel full of “e’en” and “o’er the lea”. Or rhyming doggerel full of "to the seaside we did go".

Meek, mild-mannered man who never harms a fly tells you quite seriously that the only solution to the world’s problems is to wipe out 90% of the population, giving detailed plans for infectious plagues, nuking volcanoes etc.

Being mean-spirited about absolutely anything and everything – especially on social media. (Which has given these people a wider audience and don’t they just love it.)

Sending 100 abusive emails and FB posts to a total stranger.

Pointless Answer: Rearranging the top layer of the dishwasher several times just so that you can cram one more cup into it. Being convinced that your way of stacking the dishwasher is the only way.

Policing other people’s inner lives. Particularly large groups of people, like “the young”, or “the masses”.

You break up, but you make sure your ex doesn’t find anyone else by staying in contact, being kind and friendly, lending her books, fixing her washing-machine, feeding her crumbs of affection.

Interrupting and distracting someone who is concentrating, or working from home.

Telling atheists what atheism really is, while defining it out of existence.

More here, and the links to the rest.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Found Haiku 19

Offer readers a chair,
Then pull it away. Haiku
Too, need a punchline.

Somewhere down the road 
A child is practising the recorder; 
Or possibly an owl lies dying.
Lee Jackson‏ @VictorianLondon

At Glen Isle everything is covered in thick moss, 
The standing trees, the dead trees and the path itself. 
The moss, and my beard, drips from the fine mist 
Densely hanging in the air.
Quintin Lake

By the river, teasel heads. 
And Hambrook Marshes looking like 
A Bewick Wood engraving.

Bamburgh beach. A fantastic 
Long stretch of wonderful sand. 
Often too cold to stand still.

Driving back home from work 
I found myself briefly inside 
A charm of goldfinches.
Kate Long @volewriter

A misty, frosty
Morning with a little pink moon
Sailing across the sky.

The wild swans are coming back onto the Levels, 
And the winter wheat is hazing the fields with a faint greenness. 
And we met some anxious red bullocks.

There's always a lovely stillness to central London 
On Christmas day. Like the sound 
Of something somewhere not humming.

Driving away from Christmas rehearsals,
From our window we saw 15 men with guns 
Shoot terrified pheasants from the sky. 
I saw four drop in agony. 
Apparently those dudes pay £15,000 each to do that. 
Driving off we could hear the survivors calling for the dead.

Once again, on some muddy building site 
In a rain-swept icy domain. 
Covered with splashes of muddy cold slime.
Elwyn York

I'm in bed drinking tea.
I have put my arms in my dressing gown 
Back-to-front outside the duvet, 
Like a warming strait jacket

Do you take Monopoly money?
Only if I can be the dog.
OK yes you can. I’ll be the hat.
via FB

Snow is general all over Ascot. 
It is falling on every part of the dark Ascot racecourse, 
On the treeless Heath, falling softly upon the House of Adam.
Adam Roberts‏ @arrroberts

I learnt to play the harmonica whilst driving. 
On an autobahn.
Steering with my knees.
It was the early 1980s. 
I’m sorry now.
Katherine O'Donnell 

Sleepless night spent reading 
Of far-off places, listening to the sound 
Of rain on the window.
Darran Anderson‏ @Oniropolis

Old radio shows last week:
Michael O’Brien

English folklore told of seven whistlers, 
Leaders of a night-flying flock, 
Spirits of unhappy souls.
Jess Pagan‏ @paganpages

The sky has turned milky coffee 
And the sun is having a hard time. 
Dragons have been heard and mysterious riders 
Have been spotted on the Walworth Road.
It is now as dark as dusk here, 
Big black clouds obscure the sun. 
There is an eldritch odour to the air.

Sitting in the Moon and Sixpence 
Watching massive containers 
Ploughing up and down the brown churn 
Of the Bristol Channel. Wales kidnapped by rain.

Preparing the balcony for autumn. 
Enjoying the last colours with the backdrop 
Of rising fog and falling drizzle.

Destroying Angel. 
Isn't she pretty? Note the 
White skirt round the stem.
And the bulbous base, 
not clear in this picture. 
Don't think of trying it.

There are hidden histories 
Few people know about and 
There is always magic afoot.

Just watched a raven 
veer over the shore towards the cliffs 
and hang, unmoving, on an updraft.

We rose at 5 a.m. 
And went out into the orchard 
To look for the Perseids, 
But only the brightest stars were visible 
Due to an early mist 
(Except, oddly, for the Pleiades). 
It already feels like autumn here.
Lynn says these shooting stars 
Are called the Tears of St Lawrence, 
Which I did not know.
Clear dawn after yesterday. 
Blue skies with brown orange in the distance. 
Wales on the weekend?

Vast cloud dropping from 
The tip of the troposphere. Many miles down.
In the evening colours with half moon.

Expelling a large dragonfly
That followed us into the house 
Out of the thunderstorm.

To the tune of Eastenders:
Holidays in Stoke-on-Trent 
Fist fights in the rain
Or watching a swan die.
Regular Frog‏ @FrogCroakley

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Inspirational Quotes 93

He's such a nice man, he's a good person, it was out of character, it was an isolated incident, he does a lot of work for charity...
Abusive men have many years of experience conning and convincing not only their victims, but friends, family, teachers, childcare workers and health professionals. (Guardian Dec 2015)

Previous convictions are, in practice, such a good indicator of guilt
that, in the jury's thinking, they're likely to swamp other considerations. (WS)

The idea that the prominent should be treated specially and be apologised to for being arrested allowed Jimmy Savile to escape. (Noel McGivern ‏@Good_Beard)

Partners who go in for “low-level sniping” are more likely to break up. (Times 2015)

Tom Attenborough was three weeks into his first term at university when he saw his childhood ambition [to be an actor] turn to dust...The rest of the cast were talented, too. In fact, he soon realised that they were far too talented. All of a sudden, he was out of his league. “I just realised I wasn’t very good.” (Times 2016)

Holly Woodlawn had not managed to parlay her downtown credentials into a full-blown career the way other Factory people had... People lived by any number of schemes and scams. Most of those people were living on welfare... (Observer magazine Jan 2016 suggests some alternative career paths)

My Generation-X contemporaries thought for a while that we could make a living telling each other stories of groovy modern alienation and ennui. In the end, it turned out only Douglas Coupland could do this. Personally, I thought I could run photography galleries. (Daily Telegraph Dec 2015)

"There is a school of writing which is obsessed with style, and they have a few friends who feel as they do. I think they are much too conscious of hierarchy.” She also says the literary scene has got “too pompous” and that Martin thinks himself a “grand old man of letters”. (Elizabeth Jane Howard on her stepson Martin Amis)

Doris [Lessing, her foster mother] thought me older, perfectly able to cope with the world... A nice study group seemed just the thing. In the druggy world, I was part of something, really for the first time. [She got a job as a secretary.] Deference didn’t work for me... or having to pretend that I had a full day’s work, when actually it could all be done in two hours and the rest of the day had to be spent pretending to be busy. (Jenny Diski)

To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less. (Oscar Wilde)

Insecure bosses less likely to employ handsome men:
Most studies show that good-looking men get better jobs and higher salaries. “Such men generally do better in life, being treated better everywhere from restaurants to work.” (Times Dec 2015)

BE YOURSELF Your daughter needs to learn how to operate within the parameters of normal expectation [and write that thankyou letter]. (Mariella Frostrup)

"If you wish to inquire about anything, do not do it by asking a question; but introduce the subject, and give the person an opportunity of saying as much as he finds it agreeable to impart. Do not even say, 'How is your brother today?' but 'I hope your brother is quite well.'” (Early 19th century etiquette book)

Those who behave rudely in the workplace experience stronger social support, which probably makes them less afraid of negative reactions to their behaviour from managers. (Eva Torkelson, Times Dec 2015) She says negative behaviour in the workplace spreads as people imitate each other (and cruel banter may make you more popular).

Always upsetting reading about the search for an autism 'cure'. 
That would be pretty much everyone in science, tech & engineering gone. (James Wong ‏@Botanygeek)

Just noticed how often mental health services are like Giles in Buffy S6: "I don't want to disempower u so will leave u to face apocalypse on your own". (@TheBeetleBox)

Mindfulness, i.e. a conditioning technique designed to help you accept unacceptable situations with a beatific smile. (@AlexPaknadel)

Wonder how many times people think someone is being rude or anti-social when really they are being anxious? (@matthaig1)

Most cargo cults in the South Sea died out fairly quickly because no cargo arrived: it was really hard to continue fooling themselves. (David Didau)

Lack real intelligence? Compensate with multiple intelligence! Always in psychology textbooks, because any comforting notion deserves mention. (James Thompson ‏@JamesPsychol)

I went with my children to Nando’s and they took on that air of importance that people have when they are introducing you to a ritual that they have mastered and you have not. (Daniel Finkelstein)

The one thing people on either side of the political spectrum all agree on is that the BBC is terribly biased against them. (Sam MacGregor ‏@samjustsamyeah)

I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books. (C.S. Lewis)

It’s safe to say I didn’t have a very good experience with the NHS. I was told no one would ever love me and I would be neither man nor woman. (Transgender woman who is training to be a ballet dancer, Times Feb 2016)

Nicola reminded me how she had first been to our family home as a 14-year-old schoolfriend in 1978. How, in a much colder, more uptight, less accepting time, our house had been a friendly, welcoming, tolerant place, full of fun and chat and debate among all manner of visitors. (Robert Crampton 2016 on the Good Old Days)

Loving the book "Party Animals" by @DAaronovitch. Turns out a communist upbringing is so like a Jehovahs Witness's. (@Tamethyst1)

Top tip: just because you aren’t ‘outraged’ by something, it doesn’t mean that anyone else’s outrage is false (faux, if you must). (@PaulbernalUK)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Neologisms 19

privately educated mediocrities (Matthew Sweet)
crudifying (HP)
cultural taxidermy

electric vomiting (EK on thrash metal)
She’s about to get on my last nerve! (MI)
Critically speaking, I’m an onion in the petunia patch.
They’re not picking up their end of the plank.

I’m greener than the Hulk
(with envy).
I got phoned by the head honcho with his hair on fire.
Poser Nostra (from Conservative Woman)
Conseillers de l'ombre (Marine Le Pen has "shadowy counsellors".)

A moron of the first water
He was so cross he was dancing the berserker.Defence officials were summoned to the chief for a “chest-poking”.
The nervous meowing of Early Music on Radio 3. (CB)

South London suburb currently being throttled by turbo-gentrification (theguyliner.com)

parodistique, abracadabrant, hexagonal, polar (A “hexagonal” novel is a French novel – look at the map, the country is hexagonal, sort of… And a "polar" is a roman policier.)

I enjoy looking around a coffee shop at the ppl. What’re they thinking? Some look ready to cash their chips in, others are animated. And some are eating Bakewell slices with all the finesse of cement mixers. (@Archangel_One)

This lot would be trying to march on Berlin with a plastic fork while simultaneously offering Hitler Scotland in exchange for peace. (Alex Harrowell‏ @yorksranter)

Professor Helen King, who took apart such claims in the academic equivalent of a Vulcan death grip… (Whores of Yore)

Congrats to synthbod gothgod industrial noisenik Gary Numan on his 800th gig. (Rupert Goodwins‏ @rupertg)

Nature red in mandible and pincer! (of a giant crab eating a bird) (@theAliceRoberts)

Twitter is the world’s cheapest focus group. (Andy Bodle)

I’ll need to Corbyn your drainpipe a bit.’ - a builder earlier today, meaning ‘move to the left’. (@PadraigBelton)

Turned on the telly to find a half hr infomercial for a microwave gadget. Am horrified yet awed by the general air of smiley halfwittedness. At opp end of spectrum, started watching film that sounded vaguely intriguing only to find in first 3 mins it was terrible art-school toss. (@lucyfishwife)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Bathos 6

Bathos – expect the unexpected. Confucius started it with his famous saying: "There is no spectacle more agreeable than to observe an old friend fall from a roof-top." 

I had a time machine soon.
Hit the nail right on the thumb.
It works in practice, but will it work in theory?
She plumbed the shallows.
If you aren't happy with what you have, be thankful for what you escaped.
It looks hauntingly unfamiliar
. (FE)

Opening this box will result in death by electrocution and a £20 fine.
When they think you're being deep, don't open your mouth until their cheques have cleared.
Learn to laugh at yourself – we have!
Good luck, young man, you have a great future behind you.
Thank you for your support – I shall always wear it. (Old joke.)

For those not blessed with knowledge of pre-decimal currency, sixpence is about half an inch. (FB)
I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be. (Joan Didion)

The thing about Wagner is, however much of it may be lost on the listener, there's always plenty more left. (RI)

Folklore facts – Demons make excellent chefs. Most folklore facts were made up, this one is not an exception. (Thomas Brown‏ @GothicalTomB)

It thrived for a short period until public high schools became more popular, offering the same education for the low price of zero dollars. (Atlas Obscura)

Just caught up with the famous Katie H piece. Whatever you think of her views you have to admit that the woman writes unbelievably badly. (@DAaronovitch)

Communism is good in theory, but in practice it usually just ends up being destroyed in a military coup financed by the CIA. (Existential Comics ‏@existentialcoms)

Remember, kids: A-levels aren't the be all and end all to succeeding in life. You need to be skinny and good looking too. (Jason‏ @NickMotown)

Rumours that the Flat Earth Society once announced it had members all around the globe are sure to have been exaggerated. (Guardian)

I’m going to sing a duet with Elaine Paige. It’ll be a career highlight for one of us! (Julian Clary)

Punshon’s books have, until recently, passed out of print and remained there.

I have no wish to be published and, if any publishers read these stories, that wish will almost certainly be granted. (BH)

His books never failed to disappoint.

Three boos, by the way, to Frank Muir for failing to include even a snippet from [Ernest Bramah’s Kai Lung stories] in his otherwise dreadfully exhaustive The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose. (Dave Langford)

Remember kids, if you follow your dreams anything can happen. Just as long as your dream is to be as useful as possible to the bourgeoisie, so they pay you a bit better. (@existentialcoms)

Just remembered I've had half a bar of chocolate in my bag since 4pm, which has gone about as well as you'd expect really. (@JonnElledge)

They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now. (Bob Monkhouse)

Toby Young. A difficult man to ignore but I'm told it's worth the effort. (Bob Cryer‏ @bobbicee)

The dining room, deep in the hotel, is a broad space of high ceilings and coving, with thick carpets to muffle the screams. (Jay Rayner, Guardian)

‏Not that I care much about Kanye, but if your hot take on whatever he's doing now spells him "Kayne" I will be ignoring it with enthusiasm. (@lucyfishwife)

If you believe money doesn't bring happiness, feel free to transfer it to my account. (LC)

Man Needs Emotional Support Only A Woman Can Feign (Onion headline)

Nero's sidekick Petronius managed to keep his integrity and his life for several years with barbed remarks like these:

Maxwell House coffee – tastes as good as it smells!
Primark makeup is definitely Primark standard.

This building is as well-built as it is beautiful. (Barnabas Calder on an ugly building in Liverpool whose brick cladding is already falling off.)

The Irish are famous for a kind of statement that makes sense on first reading, nonsense on the second, and then... It's called "Irish bull".

You can be sure to get fresh and homemade authentic English food, no matter what kind of snack you will order. But of course, you will find nothing more typical than fish & chips on our menu. (The Unbrexit pub in Germany. Order sauerkraut and get English food! Fish and chips is our only typical English dish!)

My daughter, Ivanka, just arrived in South Korea. We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country. (@realDonaldTrump)

Mr Duncan Smith can speak with equal ignorance on a wide range of subjects. (Donald Peddie ‏@turbrech)

Irish Olympic gold-medal winners wish they could be at home celebrating with their families in Skibbereen.

I have prayed to Saint Orosia, and when the storm has passed the weather will get better.

The first note of Webern held us in thrall. (But the others? The rest of the review was favourable, however, while also leaving the reader in no doubt that the entire concert had been a form of refined torture. Times.)

I’d better stop while I’m behind.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Euphemisms (in Quotes) 9

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool.
I am righteously indignant, you are annoyed, he is making a fuss over nothing.
I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word.
I have an independent mind, You are eccentric, He is round the twist.
I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.
(Bertrand Russell)

"Independent" is the new word for "extremely opaquely-funded". (@mrdavidwhitley)

I guess “overly offended” means not a racist, homophobic douche? (FB)

"We don’t know what the rules are” is always, always code for “your rules don’t matter to me”. (Charlotte Lydia Riley @lottelydia)

I used to describe him as exciting and dynamic, but now I feel flaky and selfish fits more. (slate.com)

Why even bother using phrases like “the standing of western civilization and it’s classical roots”? By this point, we all know that’s thinly veiled code for “white supremacy.” (@donnazuck)

Now that my retirement is coming up, she has been making noises about “Grandma bonding with the grandbabies,” meaning they want to stop paying for their expensive day care by making me do it for free. (slate.com)

Multilingual white children: oh so clever!
Multilingual brown & black children: a burden on schools etc.

I invested in @VirginCare to help transform the NHS for the better and to improve patient and employee experience. (Richard Branson He means “privatization”.)

God, tweeple today, you're a nasty bunch of moral fascists with no belief in redemption, shades of grey, irony or forgiveness! (Libby Purves on the Toby Young scandal. According to Andrew Lilico, Toby Young is “edgy” and “gauche”. He tweeted about w***ing over pictures of starving children.)

Consult: To perform a con trick that insults the people on the receiving end. (@cowanrob)

Alex Salmond to MP Mhairi Black: I’m sure Taz will take you out to go shopping or something at some point and you’ll find your own style. (Translation: Wear a skirt.)

How brands repurpose influencer content, Five unique ways brands can repurpose evergreen content, How to Repurpose Video Content Marketing Ideas for Brand Awareness… Is it anything like rebooting a franchise? Oh, “influencer content” is pix and videos by people you pay to boost your products in an apparently neutral forum like Instagram, Youtube etc.

Time to speak ill of the dead. I was once at a fundraiser dinner with Max Clifford. Having asked me if I was gay, he spent a few minutes being slightly old fashioned (well, massively homophobic). So I asked him “And what do you do?” and he got really cross that he had to explain. (Adam Kay‏ @amateuradam)

Stephen Ward, the society osteopath, introduced lucky young women into polite society, or in harsher terms procured girls like Christine Keeler for his rich clients such as Lord Astor. (Jane Kelly on Conservative Woman)

Executive Homes are never in Vibrant Areas. (Jaimie Shorten)

Dastyari says the tape of press conference “shocked me” because it didn’t match his recollection. (@PatsKarvelas)
Code for: 'I was shocked that someone recorded what I actually said so it hasn't allowed me to deny it.' (@RodgerShanahan)

I covered the campaign last year. Over and over men insinuated that women's analysis of HRC's candidacy were "biased," or "subjective," or "opinion." When women wrote about Hillary, it was a "feminist take." When men wrote about Hillary, it was "the truth." (@CharlotteAlter)

"I have some concerns" = I will vote yes
"I'm not yet satisfied with this bill" = I will vote yes
"I’m not opposed to tax reform, but we need to do it right" = I will vote yes
"I am currently a no vote" = I will vote yes

Business analyst Emma Sheldrick offers some useful translations. "Manage our stakeholders," she explains, means "placate the people who are asking the intelligent questions about why something is being done"; while "Update our stakeholder matrix" really signifies "we need to take off the people who disagree with the task at hand and find some new ones who agree." (Guardian Nov 2017)

Miss Markle is a very interesting person. (Sky News Royal Correspondent, adding that she’s biracial and anti-Trump.)
Meghan grew up in the Valley, a leafy middle-class area. (Sky News)
And here are the Daily Mail's euphemisms for "black" today... (Alex von Tunzelmann) “Gang-scarred home of Meghan’s mother revealed… gangs… bloods… territory… run-down area… social worker… gang-afflicted…”

If you’ve already seen a significant sample of “borderline-racist” (which is usually just racist) posts from her public profile… (Mallory Ortberg)

You really have to laugh at the Tories as they say we can have better employment rights, higher environmental standards, improved citizens rights when we leave EU. These Tories have been attacking these rights and standards for years calling them red-tape & burdens on business. (@AngelaRayner)

I have been called ‘bubbly’, ‘peppy’, ‘cheery’, ‘excitable’ by male academics. I do not think I am actually especially any of these things. (Charlotte Lydia Riley‏ @lottelydia Women were also told they “came across as abrupt” and “masculine”.)

No-one says "Islam isn't a race" unless they're trying to negotiate some points-free racism. (Keir Hardie‏ @scatterkeir)

“Layers of crude and distorting old overpaints were removed and losses were sensitively and minimally inpainted,” says Christie’s report on Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi. The restorer stabilised the picture, removed most of the later overpaint and fillings, and made cosmetic changes to bring it back closer to Leonardo’s original. (artnewspaper.com)

Those who voted Leave largely didn’t do so for economic reasons. It was a question of values: a desire for steady work, family and community. The majority of people are quietly conservative. Labour won’t win until we understand that. @blue_labour (Family: heterosexual nuclear family. Community: white people. Perhaps.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Received Ideas in Quotes 7

Visiting Blenheim Palace over Christmas, some friends were shown a portrait that contained not only the man who commissioned it but another person who had been added to enhance the atmosphere. The guide explained that the man who commissioned it had refused to pay the artist because portraits were charged by the limb and the more limbs, the more expensive the picture. This, he said, is where the expression “it costs an arm and a leg” comes from. (Daniel Finkelstein Times Jan 2018)

One of the Eurostar tunnelling machines lies buried off to the side halfway across. They drilled from each end with different machines because of different predominant geology and had to get one machine out of the path of the other. (FB)

13th century Scottish philosopher and theologian Duns Scotus recommended wearing a conical hat to stimulate your brain and increase your intelligence. This could be why wise wizards are often portrayed wearing pointy hats and why a dunce cap is pointed. (Adam Pidgeon @CineLore)

Dessert is for nuts and fruits after the table has been cleared. Deserted. (FB)

I took a class once on Classical Chinese where we learned how the Dao de Jing didn’t start out that gnomic and mysterious, it’s just that scribes kept dropping out “filler words” to save their hands cramping. (Arthur Chu ‏@arthur_affect)

The ‘h’ in ‘ghost‘ is a historical hiccup. William Caxton, having first practised his trade in Flanders, brought Flemish typesetters back to England to help set up his printing press - they lobbed an ‘h’ into English ‘gost’ because their own native word was ‘gheest’. (@susie_dent)

The most known theatre superstition, "Don't whistle on stage – you'll blow yourself out and the devil in", has its background in lighting. In the baroque era you could mess up the whistled lighting commands, and and in the gaslight era that could mean danger of explosion. (@EevaTenkanen)

Vegetarians just love to be asked “But what do you actually eat?” and quizzed over and over about which meat products they miss the most. (They always answer bacon sandwich; it’s a stock reply.) (guyliner.com)

A lot of my clients… thought they were getting bad service because they’ve been told “everyone knows Parisians are rude”. (medium.com)

Orwell’s guide to the English language is a “misconceived and blundering polemic”. (Oliver Kamm)

Flint was brought North as ballast in ships and dumped in the sea to make way for a return cargo - coal. (Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to take a cargo north?)

Chasing 'masculine' work goals can prevent women from conceiving, warns fertility guru Fiona Kacz-Boulton. She says women's bodies cannot behave 'in feminine ways if they act masculine' Female bankers and software engineers struggle to conceive, figures show. (Daily Mail)

Others place the toes on a line drawn on the floor of the House of Commons intended to keep at a safe distance opposing gents with swords. There are such lines, but no Speaker has ever been recorded ordering Hon. members to ‘Toe the line!’ (Spectator)

Typos? They're good. Think of medieval cathedrals or Islamic carpets left deliberately imperfect, against hubris of imitating God... (Prof Jackie Cassell‏ @jackiecassell)

Catherine Elwas Thomas, writing in Boston around 1830, went to great lengths to prove that nursery rhyme characters were based on real people. (folklorethursday.com)

In the 19th century the story began to gain currency that the rhyme is actually about Thomas Horner, who was steward to Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury before the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII of England. The story is reported that, prior to the abbey's destruction, the abbot sent Horner to London with a huge Christmas pie which had the deeds to a dozen manors hidden within it as a gift to try to convince the King not to nationalize Church lands. During the journey Horner opened the pie and extracted the deeds of the manor of Mells in Somerset, which he kept for himself. It is further suggested that, since the manor properties included lead mines in the Mendip Hills, the plum is a pun on the Latin plumbum, for lead. (Wikipedia)

According to Bobby Pickett himself, the “graveyard smash” part of Monster Mash is explicitly about vandalizing military cemeteries. (Stefan Heck‏ @boring_as_heck)

Wilfred Pickles was chosen as a BBC announcer during the war because the Germans would have difficulty imitating his accent if they tried to broadcast pretending it was genuine BBC material. (Via cixonline.com)

Posh people go and see Shakespeare and come home talking in iambic pentameters. (youtube)

More here, and links to the rest.

Grammar: Adjectives 13

gruesome tat (riverside developments)
achingly sincere (Time magazine)
silly-clever (Toby Young)
glittery-eyed fanatics (a vicar on evangelists)

needlessly complex nine-part harmonies (Wikipedia)
bloated commercial junk (All-singing, all-dancing, overlong turkeys of 60s cinema.)
almost impressively nondescript (new cube in Reading @AMcNeillPeel)
dreadful, mawkish (Rachel Cambell-Johnston on the paintings of Michael Ayrton)

really famous (but very unfunny)
French comedy sketch about a haggis (FSC)‏
offensively bland (Paul Whitelaw on noughties bands)
intoxicatingly drab (Matthew Sweet on a British B movie)
unreadably forced, over-written whimsy (Paul Whitelaw)

A catastrophically earnest drama about the Armenian genocide. (Kevin Maher)
Earnest paperbacks about psychology and sociology on the book-shelves. (Simon Brett)
From the Department of Overly Earnest Art Show Names: "Utopia Is No Place, Utopia Is Process". (Carolina A. Miranda ‏@cmonstah)

Les provinciaux, the rather condescending term Parisians use to refer to non-Parisians.

The Perry Mason books. I tried, but they were dreary. Still, my disappointment didn't come close to the incredulous rage I felt when I read The Da Vinci Code. (via FB)

There are few shopping malls more utterly wretched than the RoyalVictoriaPlace in TunbridgeWells. (Gruntfuttock @peasmoldia)

She's smiley and friendly, in a proficient but hollow customer services way. (Amelia Gentleman, Guardian)

The Devil at Saxon Wall is set in a tiny village in Hampshire which is, as Nick Fuller puts it, “horribly rustic”. (Noah Stewart)

Paperchase, purveyor of cutesy stationery to the masses. (Jonn Elledge)

An utterly, totally, atrociously, egregiously, mind-bogglingly dreadful – celluloid sileage heap. (imdb on a gangster film starring Norman Wisdom)

@karlminns Good rule of thumb; if you use the word 'Londonistan', you are a fully-furnished, copper-bottomed, tungsten-edged, lifetime-guaranteed, weapons-grade bell-end.

Tom Dyckhof, the least offensive presenter on air today, asked three worryingly amateur interior designers to spray-paint bits of furniture in the Great Interior Design Challenge.

She’s a ruthlessly dull person. (David Whitley on Theresa May)

Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Littlefinger was finally in a hole he couldn’t hammily overact his way out of again. (Hugo Rifkind on Game of Thrones)

At the rather demure Worcester Cathedral… (Hugh Wilmott)

I'd love to know the story of why someone built this gloriously silly building in 1920s small-town Australia. (John Band‏ @johnb78)

One of ee cummings’ droopier poems… (Times July 2017)

They might say I was elderly – a kind of genteel pastel version of ageing. (Falling, Elizabeth Jane Howard)

The frothing-at-the-mouth, middle-aged-crisis, armchair-general, dimwitted nonsense of British press over the last week… (@IanDunt)

I’ve found it – Britain’s twee-est crisp. (It’s called Ten Acre: The Secret of Mr Salt. @bat020)

Watching some dull, wan, polite and muted acclaimed British film... an exasperated Quentin Crisp found himself yearning for “a nude lesbian chariot race on ice”. (Roger Lewis, Times)

Like MGM fifties musicals... "some weird notion of jazz" . (On La La Land)

Sherlock now firmly into triple gatefold album baroque levels of pseudo profound absurdity. (‏@charlesjholland)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Movie Clichés in Quotes 3

Nick Timothy looks like every aggressive squash playing businessman who turned out to be the murderer on 
Bergerac. (Michael McAvoy‏ @KillieMeSoftly)

Emma Thompson is Love Actually's resident female-personality-haver, which means that she's totally nice and bland 95% of the time and then every once in a while she'll say something horribly caustic and inappropriate and out of character. You know, like normal regular human woman who is not robot! (jezebel.com)

I took mother to the pictures this afternoon. It was a typically British never to be forgotten epic of the 'Keep it up, stick it out, take it on the chin, I knew you'd volunteer, good heavens an orange, Jack darling, what's happened to us' school of film. (Round the Horne)

There’s a lot of blame to be placed here on the Hollywood idea of autism giving people a magical power to identify and speak Hard Truths. (Arthur Chu‏ @arthur_affect, in the context of Robert Damore claiming to be autistic and using it as an excuse for saying women don’t belong in tech.)

The "tortured artist" trope kills. I want artists to be happy, healthy, and joyful. Stop saying you need to suffer to be an artist. (Mark Tseng-Putterman @tsengputterman)

Montalbano: mysterious beautiful woman, abandoned fish cannery, ageing mafioso in huge villa. (Hugh Pearman)

I don't watch these [memes] nor the video recipes. You know, the ones which visually show the physical preparation of the recipe, only at quadruple speed, usually with annoying music in the background. (Michael Morrow)

Helen was a mildly maverick copper, which means she was a standard-issue TV copper. (Andrew Billen on In the Dark, Guardian)

Any film which has a character replaced by an evil double deserves to be watched, in my book at least. (Imdb commenter)

It is this idea of equating gritty with good, however, that is the pitfall... One of the main reasons that Anne fails is, to my mind, that it is rooted in white feminism and misguided ideas of empowerment at the expense of what makes the books and other adaptations so magical. (Thewalrus.ca on the latest remake of Anne of Green Gables)

In the future you will be able to tell an alien race as they are incapable of using contracted words. (Gruntfuttock‏ @peasmoldia)

Films like this were very easy and cheap to make - minimal locations, scenery munching, explosions or car wrecks. (Imdb on Green for Danger)

A young music-hall entertainer aspires to stardom on his own terms, but faces a dilemma as to whether he should go it alone or stick with his family troupe. (Ealing Rarities blurb)

Good-natured comic shenanigans follow that pulls the legs of stereotypical northerners and southerners alike. (Imdb on Diana Dors vehicle Follow the Money. Thanks for the warning.)

The Francis Durbridge serials all seemed to inhabit the same universe, that of unexplained happenings, people being not what they seem and the villain being someone close to the hero/victim. (Imdb commenter)

It's very kind of General Von Exposition to name all the characters we just saw. (The Calculator‏ @adamcreen)

I’ve had a number of emails about our repeated use of a picture of wrinkled hands peeping out from a patchwork blanket to illustrate stories about the over-60s.

Things you can say in response to literally anything, when you have nothing else to say.
As the prophecy foretold.
But at what cost?
So let it be written; so let it be done.
So... it has come to this.
That’s just what he/she/they would have said.
Is this why fate brought us together?
And thus, I die.
Just like in my dream?
Be that as it may, still may it be as it may be.
There is no escape from destiny.
Wise words by wise men write wise deeds in wise pen.

Via Atlas Obscura

Brains: sizzle, crackle
Veins: whoosh, gurgle
Organs: squish
Heart: thump
Digestion: gloop (hair gel, or wallpaper paste and spaghetti)
Straining muscles: squeak
Valves: pop
Growing hair: “creaking sailboat ropes, trees bending in a windstorm”
Bone: crack

In my Room 101 it's just a single speaker, piping in a loop of Radio 4 plays comprised solely of British actors doing bad American accents. (@Andr6wMale)

Radio 4 drama where the characters keep saying out loud what is happening to them: 'Aaaaargh! Now our boat is being swept away!' (@MrRayNewman)

I have been loitering in bed for a couple of days, passing the time listening to drama on Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. The quality is excellent but, on reflection, the content has been rather grim. I have been immersed in slavery, a teenage girl being groomed to go to Syria, a person with bipolar disappearing (leaving a partner and young children) and a possible murder by paedophiles. (ABS Where are the thrillers, mysteries and comedies of manners? And the scifi?)

Of course Alexander Nix is not a Bond villain, he's the scientist who helps the villain until he's no longer useful, then he gets shot, blown up, or eaten. (@simonbayley on the Cambridge Analytica boss who allegedly helped Trump into the White House.)

Today I learnt that mad scientists wear bow ties in because of lab safety! Dangly ties get caught in Bunsen burners! (@jeannette_ng)

I am quite weary of Hollywood's propensity to depict the lone genius scientist rather than science as a cooperative enterprise. (@KateElliottSFF)

In horror films it’s when you think the thing is dead that it’s most likely to return seeking vengeance.

I just watched the trailer for Covenant. Same reaction with Prometheus and Predator 2 - my reaction, as a SF writer, is 'Don't poke shit.' That thing? Which you just think you offed? Don't poke it. Even with a gun. Especially don't take its helmet off. If it looks squishy and it's opening up and exuding a weird substance, don't put your fingers in there. If there's even the faintest possibility of it shooting out some kind of extension which might be attached to your person, keep several feet back from the get-go. If someone sticks something in your ear, or indeed any non-sexual orifice without your permission, ask them to remove it, if necessary with maximum prejudice, and if they don't do it, run, or punch them. I've applied these basic principles to my own life and it's worked so far: should I find myself on an alien planet, I'll be leaving anything even vaguely biological well alone. (LW)

Or better still, don't go into creepy crashed spaceships, there was a good reason why they were left crashed and abandoned. (RD)

Yup, don't poke that, don't eat this and never read out loud from the books. (TH)

More here, and links to the rest.