Sunday 26 February 2017

Movie Cliches (in Quotes) 2

'Here are dragons' did actually appear on two 16c maps. Next week I'll find out if any mad scientists really said 'the fools, the fools'. (@edwest)

My favourite bad horror/sci-fi movie trope are regular-sized human masks that easily disguise much, much larger alien/monster heads. (Allan Mott ‏@HouseofGlib)

It is stuffed with implausibilities... ending with an aspiring actress being offered a dream role in a movie on the strength of doing a one-woman show attended by about ten people. (Times on La La Land)

‏Even by the standards of Radio 4 dramas the heavy breathing on this nonsense they're playing right now takes the p***. (@IanDunt 30 Dec 2016)

Bring me one documentary that features an Arab country that doesn't open with [a call to prayer] and a panorama of houses & minarets. (@areyoudone)

After series 2, every franchise becomes a soap opera. (GC on Sherlock)
It has started to feel oddly like a clipshow of itself. (Jonn Elledge on Sherlock, New Statesman)

Filmmakers in the past have made the mistake of loading Agatha Christie adaptations with actors chosen simply because they are big box office stars and not necessarily on the basis of their suitability to play the parts, and this is another aspect which has probably made the David Suchet series so popular with TV audiences everywhere. (imdb commenter)

Churches in soaps are always inexplicably rural. Seriously this one in Eastenders would take minimum an hour to reach in a car. (Matthew Whitfield ‏@mwhitfield80)

I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws. (SJ Perelman)

According to the Times, Stephen Poliakoff’s latest hero is "a handsome, shrewd, single-minded and utterly ruthless maverick who is able to function on no sleep. He thinks outside the box; he has a background in engineering, a distinguished war record and the air of someone who does 'incredibly important secret things'. Only he is much more than that. He loves jazz and swing, he knows how to talk to children, and given half a chance he will sit down and play the piano." (This was supposed to make me like it; it made me suspect it was dire. I was right.)

Toning down his usual Shakespearean and Sherlockian grandeur, Cumberbatch takes to the burgundy-red superhero cape with a bracing dose of irony. Times on Dr Strange (Once any actor has appeared in Shakespeare, you can taunt them for being “grand” and a “luvvie” or “thesp”, and express surprise that they can subsequently play anything else, or return to the modern world. And Sherlock isn’t “grand”.)

Nothing I fear more than a film where the cast were "one big happy family" and everyone had lots of fun on set. (@Andr6wMale)

Why do the plots of cash-in Hollywood prequels to children's literary classics always involve a messianic prophecy? (@AlexPaknadel)

Where is this storyline with the young policewoman going? Are they setting her up to marry Anton Lesser or to die horribly? #Endeavour (Della Mirandola ‏@dellamirandola0)

Nobody wears white unless they’re going to get blood on it. (@lucyfishwife)

Movies are more likely to portray men’s stalking as charming and women’s as crazy. (Atlantic)

Man in this cafe looks just like my late father. His ghost? According to TV pilot law, we must now team up and solve crimes together. (@paulwhitelaw)

"I want my movie to be dark"
said every single director. (@AndrewSabisky)

Portraying real people, actors typically say that they will not attempt an “impression”, then do. (Andrew Billen Times Feb 2016)

But who’s actually REALLY in control” is to videogames what “but it was all a dream” is to movies. (Jack ‏@notquitereal)

I'd rather not see so many pictures of cats, Big Ben, poppies, white balloons, tattoos and Amsterdam. (Steerforth on Instagram clichés. He also lists pictures of coffee, pictures of feet, and inspirational quotes. A commenter: “A lot of people who post on Instagram seem to want to be professional advertising stock shot photographers.”)

SOUNDIn the front seat of the OCTA bus on which I'm riding, a semi-transient is playing soulful wails on his harmonica, as if we were all preparing to walk the Last Mile in the Big House. (Scott K. Ratner)

Pet hate #96184. When some clot decides it would be a good idea to write a modern soundtrack for a silent movie. (@richard_littler)

It is a central principle of sound editing that people hear what they are conditioned to hear, not what they are actually hearing. The sound of rain in movies? Frying bacon. Car engines revving in a chase scene? It’s partly engines, but what gives it that visceral, gut-level grist is lion roars mixed in. (Guardian June 2016 I think by "grist" they mean "grit", but they have let go a lot of their sub editors.)

One side effect of imminent Nestene invasion is that for the only time ever all human voices become echoey. (@TobyHadoke)

Tips from the Horror Movie Survival Guide   

If you find that your house is built on  a cemetery, move away immediately.     
If your children speak to you in Latin, shoot them at once.
If the gang plans a fun midnight party in the town's old abandoned mansion, don't tag along. Especially not if you're the odd guy/gal out. And if you're the gang's jokester, write your will now.   

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.     
Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're sure you know what you are doing.     
Never try to communicate with something icky because "there's so much we can learn from them".     
If you walk into a church and notice that the crucifix is upside down, leave by the nearest exit.     
If you realize that the people in your town have been taken over by some strange force, DO NOT call the police as they are a) already taken over or b) will just laugh at you.

When you land on a distant planet and find some objects that look like eggs, leave them alone.     
Don'g go in/out/down there (attic, closet, barn, basement, dark alley, woods, empty house, castle).
Generators will  run out of power, just as the nasty space-vegetable climbs onto your jury rigged electrical grid.

Ask why the estate is being sold so cheap.     
If the Master does not approve, neither do you.     
Skeptics are always proved wrong in some horrible way.
People driven by vengeance always die.     
ALL atomic weapons cause normal creatures to grow huge and carnivorous.

A small-town's little summer celebration sounds like fun, but if the locals say things like, "Why you're the guest of honour! We couldn't even have the barbecue without you!" run like hell.     

Quaint rural corn ceremonies are NEVER really about corn.    
Don't work the night shift.     
Under no circumstances remove any unusual item from glaciers or large blocks of ice.
If an iceberg appears to be radioactive, do not crash your submarine into it.     

Don't explode A-Bombs in the Arctic, South Sea atolls, or deep beneath the ocean. These locations are thickly inhabited with survivors from the prehistoric past. (Not to mention the blob, giant octopi, etc.)     

Stay on the Interstate.     
If you are trapped in a house surrounded by demons, making coffee will not help anyone.     
If you really must run screaming through the woods, dress for it. Avoid high heels.
Always be nice to the shy, quiet, unpopular girl in school.     
Never tease anyone. They'll either gain extraordinary powers, or go psycho.     
Don't bother telling another character to "Stay in the car."
Avoid people with pale complexions who moan and sway.     
Blondes with visoble roots are the food of choice of 9 out of 10 aliens.

When investigating a house or place shunned by the whispering townsfolk, don't try on the clothes in the trunk in the attic, don't look in the mirrors, and don't read the diaries.     

If the barber remarks on the "666" tattoo your buzzcut kid now has, abandon the kid and move to Irkutsk.     

Do not poke strange steaming rocks with sticks.     
Never announce openly that you're not afraid, you don't believe, or that you're fully prepared.  
Follow all care instruction of strange animals to the letter.     
In archaeology class, stay home for the unit on local folklore.     

Do your community a favor and torch the local occult bookstore. They're usually more trouble than they're worth.     

Don't buy antiques from strange magic stores.
If someone screams "None of you know whats really going on around here", listen to them.     
Never say, "It's over".     

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Art Shows In London, Paris, Bath and Woking

Kensington Palace

Diana: Her Fashion Story
From 24 Feb
From the frumpy sailor suits she was shoved into as a bride to the dazzling gowns she showed off in her 30s.

Musée du Louvre
Masterpieces from the Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt
22 Feb to 22 May
Lots of Rembrandts, and Golden Age Dutch paintings "often seen as simultaneously ribald, colorful, charming and bourgeois".

Tate Britain
David Hockney
to 29 May
Swimming pools, sprinklers, Yorkshire woods in winter.

Whitechapel GalleryLondon
Eduardo Paolozzi, "godfather of Pop Art". You can see his mosaics for free at Tottenham Court Road tube station.
to 14 May

Royal Academy, London
Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932
to 17 April

Fashion MuseumBath
Lace in Fashion
Four hundred years of lace. Discover lace-making techniques you never knew existed! Parchment lace?

John Minton and the Romantic Tradition
To March 9
John Minton was fine when he stuck to industry, street scenes and landscape, but unfortunately he liked to add sentimentalised figures. He gets a show of his own at Pallant House, Chichester in the summer, but here he is surrounded by some robuster New Romantics such as John Piper and Keith Vaughan.

Victoria and Albert MuseumLondon
From Eames chairs to aircraft. Or the other way round.
15 July to 12 Nov

Friday 17 February 2017

Contradictions 4

We're living in an Alice through the Looking-Glass world.

If all news is fake, why is Trump talking to the press? If the press lies all the time, how do we know he said "All news is fake"? (Have you met my friend Epimenides?)

The people calling everyone "snowflakes" have been deeply offended by a Broadway show, a coffee shop, SNL, a Star Wars movie, and a beer ad. (‏@robdaviau)

Academics who moan about trigger-warnings and safe spaces are the whiniest of whiny babies. (@lottelydia)

"The Libtards are too sensitive!!"
(Clutches pearls at Starbucks cups.)
(Faints at booing.)
(Literally dies at "Happy Holidays".)
(Cassandra ‏@ChrisWarcraft)

"Safe spaces! Grow up and face the real world, snowflake" - People who voted to wreck the country just to avoid sharing it with foreigners. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

Some of the meanest-spirited social media pages I've ever seen are punctuated with fluffy memes and quotations about Caring. Always fascinated by those Facebook pages where screeds of racist rants are suddenly interrupted by memes of teddies & friendship. (Kate Long ‏@volewriter)

Millennials are 'obsessed with phones and hashtagging' says Piers Morgan, in one of his ninety two thousand tweets. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

Funny, the people who berate the Archbishop for speaking out for refugees are the same people who demand we return to 'Christian values'. (@revkatebottley)

The reality is Leavers create wealth, Remainers in the main consume it. When push comes to shove Remainers are of no value to society. (Godfrey Bloom, How can you run an economy without consumers, Godfrey? If nobody consumes your goods, how are you going to “create wealth”?)

In Brownsville tampons are seen as immoral. So is using birth control. What I don’t understand is that teen pregnancy is generally accepted. (Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen)

Complain that kids today don’t know where food comes from, or why we celebrate Easter, while recommending the Japanese/Finnish school system that doesn’t teach children to read until they are seven, or teaches nothing but “character” and “manners” for the first two years. (And moaning that children just rote-learn facts that they “regurgitate” in exams.)

Claim that print media is dead, and journalists are all fiends.

Claim that we are playthings of fate – and masters of our destiny. (There’s no such thing as freewill – and we are responsible for everything that happens to us.)

Deny free will while arresting, charging and condemning criminals.

Despise Muslims while reading Rumi.
Complain our culture is being diluted while eating a chicken tikka masala.

Expect your children to become professionals, and despise “trade”, while enjoying the benefits of a society based on buying and selling.

Rant about the nanny state
while enjoying public works like street lighting, libraries, museums, roads, sea defences...

Claim to be “uncomfortable” when you hear people speaking Arabic, but make sure your children learn French.

Claim that everybody stayed put before about 1950, but admire Christopher Columbus, Francis Drake and Captain Cook.

How can people say “be yourself” while also using the words “social pressure”?

And if nobody drank water in the Olden Days because it was polluted, how did the Broadwick Street pump cause a cholera outbreak?

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 10 February 2017

Haiku 18

Is it possible
To have too many haiku?
Me, I don't think so.

If I could under- 
stand what the purpose is for 
I might just do them.NK

Smells wintry. Just needs 
A dash of Esso Blue and 
Whiff of anthracite.LF

It’s always the paws
of the lynx that
fill me with awe.Anna Feruglio Dal Dan

Deer across the river – 
heard a woodpecker and spied 
a nameless bird of prey 
at the junction of two streams. 

Elephant seal sleepover. 
The weird sky with the tiny red sun 
Is due to smoke from forest fires.‏@marcusfairs

It's the weekend baby, 
you know what that means. 
Time to buy precisely one courgette on the way home 
because you're an adult I guess.@RopesToInfinity

I have discovered an interesting toadstool, 
the colour of natural beeswax, 
shaped like a small bowl 
and about three inches across. I shall look it up.

Unfortunately it has been growing 
on the bathroom carpet.

Tricia has gone to buy
Root veg and cream cakes.
I’m in the car
Listening to Akhnaten.AJB

The stormwater retention pond in the rain. 
Black willows, and all the reflective gray 
in the world.Elizabeth Bastos

Somehow fog makes 
Back areas photogenic. 
On right: fallen gutter 
Which no-one is ever 
Going to repair.ET

‏Such light, 
and the mist rolling in 
to hem the landscape.@gilliandarley 

Such otherworldly skies, 
and in the park, 
a stretch of mist 
like a forgotten scarf. Festive Kat Brown ‏@katbrown 

Inside ancient amber, 
palaeontologists find tiny dinosaur feathers — 
and also some little ants. Science News

Ladybird clinging
to the ceiling like
a spot of blood.Alex Paknadel

It is typical that seven wild swans 
will fly over your head 
when the camera's batteries have run out.

They may have been looking for 
someone to sew nettle shirts. 
I'm not volunteering. LW

There are several green parrots 
nesting in the ombues 
outside my bedroom window. 
The sound they make 
is very far from being tuneful.PMcD/LF

Two peacocks on a wall. 
Where they should not have been, 
but hey! Peacocks.

Moon is strong enough to walk by 
and casts a shadow from my body 
on the silvery dune grass.Quintin Lake

Back from Cornwall. 
Cormorant flying alongside the train 
at Teignmouth for half a mile or so.ohn Grindrod ‏

Why does the ticking 
of a clock get louder 
after midnight?

Woke from a series of visions 

about a vast, silent ship made of ice 
gliding slowly through the dark 
towards earth. Spooky Toad ‏@FrogCroakley

Interlaced AngloSaxon birds 
gnash their horrible teeth 
as they grip each others' legs 
on St Chad's Gospels.Susan Oosthuizen

Just bumped my head 
on the low flying moon.John Grindrod 

Great Apes
Before we were us
We were them
And we still are.Paul Harland

Don't glamourise evil,
Or it will creep up on us 
Like its shabby self.

Absolute peace in the city. 
The absence of noise... 
But for the soft tap of keys to type this...EY

Condensation, dew, 
windfall apples, fading light.I'm 63 and Back To School 

still puts a sliver of ice 

in my heart. Brr.

Haiku 17

Help me! I am trapped
in a haiku factory
save me, before they

Oh, the seventeen-
syllable restriction is
such a massive pain!

The best haiku are

Created when not writing
Haiku purposely.
At least that’s what I
think; your mileage may vary.
To each his own, eh?

Morning through snow –

Everywhere a Ravilious picture,
The old tractor, the old wall, Morrisons.
maximpetergriffin ‏@maximpetergriff

"Have you looked at the sky today?"
Everything around you will fade.
Look up and remember The Eternal.
Rabbi Nachman/Lee Weissman

Huge, wet snowflakes falling outside.
Not settling as it's (just) too warm.
Maybe it's actually an alien invasion.

There's a ship hooting mournfully
Over and over, out in Table Bay.
Shouldn't someone answer it?

Here, the airfield
is shading into otherness
under mist.
Kari Sperring

The female pheasants
ran very very fast into a field
As though on little springs.

The wild birds mark their territories:
wild swans in one field, lapwings in another,
ravens in the oak groves.

Picking up apples
in the dampness of the day. Deep scarlet
strawberry leaves.

Hibernation. In between
working and the garden,
the fire and old familiar books.

The dog has not fallen
into the ditch again. The presence
of a washing machine is a beauty.
Liz Williams/LF

Orion striding
across the southern sky,

Pleiades mistily bright
over the eye of the Bull,

and a tiny meteor.
Liz Williams

Huge otherworldly
domed rocks
on the shore
of a deadly lake.

Atlas Obscura headline

I would love to go to the Palaeogene
to see the rise of the Himalayas
sand closure of the Tethys Sea.
Nadine Gabriel ‏@NadWGab

Moon above my house.
Golden in the sunset.
It tells me I lost a piece of myself.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Inspirational Quotes 91: Sex and Relationships

In the 70s, relationships were abolished. Nobody was going to get married, or even pair off, any more, because it was patriarchal, or something. And women didn't need to get married now that they could have jobs. That lasted. And the world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but at least people are more honest now.

Until "the right moment occurs... you know, we women never mean to have anybody." (Mrs Smith in Jane Austen's Persuasion)

I didn’t realize I needed a date for my mother’s funeral! (Miranda, Sex and the City)

You cannot come to cricket on your own – it demands a relationship. (Female cricket fan in the Times)

In reality, most people could happily pair off with a large number of potential partners, and the factors that determine whom they do pair with have as much to do with circumstance as anything else. Relationship success basically depends on three things: individual characteristics, like whether you’re smart or what kinds of hang-ups you have around relationships; quality of interaction, or how you hit it off in-person; and surrounding circumstances — stuff like your race or health or financial status... Dating is a market unto itself — a market that heavily penalizes over-30s, already. (Washington Post)

Results of an imbalance in male/female birth/survival: Imbalances in the marriage market will increase continuously till 2050-2060. ... increasing male age at marriage will be the most common.
Criminal organisations (human trafficking) and unorthodox arrangements (prostitution, fraternal polyandry) may flourish. Sexual and marriage markets will closely coincide with the socioeconomic market (exacerbated socioeconomic marital sorting). Matrimony may gradually become a new and more disputed status symbol rather than a decisive but inevitable life transition event.

It is also a sign of pressure to find the right (or an appropriate) partner. You refer to rules when you want to avoid investing time in something that has no longterm future. (Dating expert, Times Nov 2015)

There aren’t any men, any single men. There never were, and now there are even fewer. (Shane Watson in the Times on the death of the dinner party Nov 2015)

As a parent there are certain milestones in your child’s life that you look forward to: first steps, graduation, saying “I do”. (Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast)

The traditional ways had failed. Some had been waiting for years to encounter a suitable partner within their social circle, under the conventional conditions. Ordinary life, the editors insisted, was no match for the possibilities for partnership that are available through the Journal. And nor was ordinary life what it had once been. People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, through introductions furnished by social acquaintances. But as the economy changed and both men and women moved away from their families and into urban centres, the means of introduction were removed without the rules of etiquette changing quickly enough to prevent loneliness for this generation. (Jezebel, on romance in the 1880s)

Not unlike a man on Tinder who can advertise for a partner who wants to “Netflix and chill,” making it clear that relationship-seekers need not apply... The technology isn’t changing human relationships; it’s just showing them for what they really are. (Jezebel)

If someone went to school to learn about how to pick a life partner and take part in a healthy relationship, if they charted out a detailed plan of action to find one, and if they kept their progress organized rigorously in a spreadsheet, society says they’re A) an over-rational robot, B) way too concerned about this, and C) a huge weirdo. No, when it comes to dating, society frowns upon thinking too much about it, instead opting for things like relying on fate, going with your gut, and hoping for the best. If a business owner took society’s dating advice for her business, she’d probably fail, and if she succeeded, it would be partially due to good luck—and that’s how society wants us to approach dating. The respectable way to meet a life partner is by dumb luck, by bumping into them randomly or being introduced to them from within your little pool. The types of fear our society (and parents, and friends) inflict upon us—fear of being the last single friend... are the types that lead us to settle for a not-so-great partnership. (Quartz)

I’m 13... all my friends have boyfriends and are living a wonderful life... whenever I try to discuss problems, my friend immediately changes the topic. (Writer in to Mariella Jan 2016)

Poor Pippa Middleton? But she seems to have the absolute life of Riley.
Yes, but she’s unmarried at 32, see? It won’t do.
Gosh, how awful for her.
(Times 2016-01-14)

Women are culturally prodded toward relationships from day one. (Jezebel)

In this life one needs fortitude. My private life is terribly lonely. My public life is a mass of chance acquaintances, casual friendships and much mail. If this is fame then it is EMPTY. (Book-dealer and writer Fred Bason)

How long can you live by yourself and still stay sane? (Max Dunbar)
Spies are supposed to live without sympathy – it can’t be done. (John Le Carré, paraphrase)

We are told ... that the lady involved should be of much higher station than the lover, that she should be located at a distance, that the lover should tremble in her presence, and that he should obey her slightest wish. He should, moreover, fall sick with love, faint when he sees a lock of the lady's hair, preserve his chastity, and perform great exploits to attract the attention of the lady. All this seems to me a terrible nuisance... (Essay on Courtly Love by DW Robertson, who says it’s all an invention of the 19th and 20th centuries)

In real life, older women, particularly older single women, are all too often dismissed, facing a toxic blend of sexism and ageism. (

Faced with the grim fate of possibly never finding a life partner, Filipino bachelors competed fiercely for the few Filipinas around. Those who lost this game of high stakes and were desperately lonely frequented the taxi-dance halls and/or visited prostitutes enjoying, albeit briefly, the company of white women. [The dance halls] catered to socially-isolated men who would otherwise have been ostracized from public dancing. (Mina Roces)

He’s made the first move, it’s up to you to make the next one, right? (S.W.A.L.K., 1982)

The best advice to anyone wanting to use an app is to be very clear about your own boundaries for commitment and intimacy and to stick to them. If you’re looking to form a relationship then be up front about this and take your time getting to know someone - that advice goes for men and women. (Indy April 2016)

I'm too scared [to date]. I've never dated before. When I was at university, you just slept with each other. There was no dating involved. You just... had sex. Then I met Geoff, and that was that. (Victoria Wood)

Over the 25 years of their intense, abusive relationship, he demolished her confidence and ruined her ambitions. (Alexander Masters in the Guardian on discovering diaries in a skip. “E” told the diarist she was a “silly ass”, “stupid” and “weak in every way”.)

The diarist’s life spans that postwar generation who came of age in the 1960s, was inspired by art, cinema and literature but for whom settling down to married life was still the expected norm. (Melissa Katsoulis on the same book)

Not sure what makes me feel older: our last unmarried close friend getting wed today or looking forward to power-hosing the patio tomorrow. (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob Hounslow, London)

Women are expected to marry in their early twenties. Failing to do so can lead to social exclusion. (Times, talking about Saudi Arabia)

“I can’t,” he said. “I can’t do that yet.” “What, have dinner?” I asked. But I knew he would expect more. (

Society, complained one 29-year-old cake smasher, dictates that at 30 she should be married with children. (Times June 2016)

I’m at an age where everyone in my social circle is getting pregnant (Dear Prudence,

Doctors told my parents that I would never find a man who would love me... (Intersex person in Guardian July 2016)

I should have considered it far longer than I did. But I was anxious to get married and settle down. (Evelyn Gardner on marrying Evelyn Waugh)

I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed ... In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel. (Somerset Maugham)

A friend was recently talking about a male friend who is starting to feel the engagement pressure. Mainly because his younger brother recently got engaged, followed by his best friend two weeks later. (

It was like I suddenly woke up and all my friends were buying houses and talking about babies and I felt so alone. (Issy Suttie)

Therapy is a holding pattern till people fall in love again. (James Thompson ‏@JamesPsychol)

Monogamy during prime childrearing years is a cultural norm that often results in increased social status, state-sponsored recognition, and financial rewards. (Mallory Ortberg

As a longtime mistress, you have very little say in where your boyfriend’s children go to school, no matter how sound your reasoning. (Mallory Ortberg,

[People ask] why must Bridget Jones fall for bad men? Why is she so self-absorbed? Could she not spend these books living an enlightened, guilt-free, empowered existence, engaging only in political activism, literary discussion of restrictive gender-normative tropes and good works for the poor? ... [Do we really need] another woman ... trying to live another deserving, upstanding, perfect and dull life, like some kind of angry, teetotal, hectoring nun? A woman dedicated to being an example. (Caitlin Moran on Bridget Jones Times Aug 2016 Nobody ever wanted to be this woman, they just thought other women ought to be her.)

You can be with someone kinda a li’l bit hotter or less hot than you, but if the levels are too off, people are furious. It’s sick and sad. (Amy Schumer)

"How soon should I reply? Can I say something yet? Should I call? I know I shouldn’t text him, but…" My advice, ingrained in me by years of comparable counsel from comparably responsive female friends, is always to wait. Waiting is the rule, the convention, tacitly enforced by men who retreat from female aggression and actively perpetuated by women who self-police. ( Interesting that a woman taking the lead is called “aggression”.)

On average, a widow loses 75 per cent of her support base after the loss of a spouse, including loss of support from family and friends. (Boston Globe and Mail)

Once she saw to whom I was married she was NICE - AS - PIE. (@Highgatemums)

To find a husband in these competitive days one cannot do better than became a Lyons waitress. A pretty “Nippy” is nipped up in no time. (Quoted in Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics, Rob Baker)

After NYE gig, I asked one of the security guards how the evening had been for him. He told me how sad seeing all the couples had made him. Friendly, strapping, good-looking, young lad working in a glam nightclub can't get a girlfriend. "Oh, mate," I said. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

"The real fear was that you were going to be so bright that you would put men off," recalls a St Mary’s Wantage old girl... in the late 60s. (Daily Mail)

A true relationship is when someone accepts your past, supports your present, loves you and encourages your future. (

My dad always said I would never get married.... I was in my forties, in the prime of my life. Maybe in those eight years I would have met someone and fallen in love and had a baby. (Stevie Nicks, who lost years to drug addiction)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Literary Clichés 2

"You called?"

Esther: the clever girl who saves the day by her wit. (The Bible or Bleak House? Both.)

People notice the sky much more in fiction than they do in real life. (Sam Leith ‏@questingvole)

Of course, you realise we can’t let you leave. (Fitzgerald's The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, etc.)

In any story about magic: “You summoned me and I am here!”

Things people do in books but never in real life: Stare into a mirror with self-loathing then violently throw something at their reflection, shattering the glass. (JL)

They also say: "But that only happens in books!"

Murder method: wait till victim has pneumonia, then leave a window open by their bed on a freezing winter night.

People never swear, but “let out a stream of invective”. I always wonder what they were saying.

In Golden Age mysteries, a female character pretends to powder her nose so that she can observe people behind her in her compact mirror. Would this work?

“She wrote it to break a contract with her publisher.”
Say of any disappointing or baffling book by a favourite author.

In early 20th century children’s books, people disguise themselves by “staining their skin with walnut juice”.

That old classic – a family heirloom that turns out to be a fake. (Past Offences blog)

In Kingsley Amis, good women wear corduroy or denim suits.

There is always some ivy or a drainpipe to climb up to get into an upstairs window.

French women say “'ow you say” a lot.

Americans in 30s books by Brits are called Elmer or Wilmer.

Burglar finds body. (More than one Maigret.)

The gruff, lovable husband, the bright, spirited young girl... (
LRB 2014 on Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi)

In Agatha Christie, the beautiful woman who turns out to be empty headed, shallow or amoral. She attracts all the men but can't keep them – see Triangle at Rhodes. (Sometimes she's a man.)

Also in Christie, the strong, dominant girl who adores her rabbity husband. (After the Funeral)

The pearl necklace that is or isn’t genuine.
(De Maupassant, Maugham)

He met a stranger – she said she was his wife 
 he played along because... (Christie's Destination Unknown)

Mysterious stranger moves into boarding house and changes the lives of all the inhabitants. He has an annoying habit of standing in shafts of light. Someone is bound to say “Who – ARE you?” 

Single woman invades family.

The beauty salon is the centre of the drugs trade.

A man turns out to be a woman in disguise.

The killer has lifted a method from a [real or fictional] detective story. (Real-life converse: killer writes a novel revealing his crimes.)

Writer of trashy fiction finds himself unable to stop spouting clichés in real life.
(Aldous Huxley, PG Wodehouse)

Shadow acquires independent existence.

"We thought you were dead!"

More here.