Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two more random articles

I've finally ploughed my way through the festive edition of The Economist and can recommend two more top notch articles:



Jinn - Born of fire : An interesting look at the Islamic view of the world of the jinn.

Sugar - Sick with excess of sweetness - This well written piece looks at the British sugar boycott during the times of slavery.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The art of conversation

Portrait of a typical RMF gathering, where tea and coffee is consumed and matters of the highest order discussed. Okay, I embellish the truth: the reality is that we seem to meet in McDonald's, usually ordering fries, doughnuts, apple pies, and ice-cream ... but that's not the point !

The end of year edition of The Economist never fails to provide some treats. Here are some choice quotes from an excellent report on the art of conversation:

A great description of what conversation is all about:

For enthusiasts conversation is an art, one of the great pleasures of life, even the basis of civilised society. Mme de Staël, a great talker and intellectual of the French ancien régime, called conversation “a means of reciprocally and rapidly giving one another pleasure; of speaking just as quickly as one thinks; of spontaneously enjoying one's self; of being applauded without working...[A] sort of electricity that causes sparks to fly, and that relieves some people of the burden of their excess vivacity and awakens others from a state of painful apathy”.

Here, the French have elevated conversation to a higher level:

The conversation of the French salons and dinner tables became as stylised as a ballet. The basic skills brought to the table were expected to include politesse (sincere good manners), esprit (wit), galanterie (gallantry), complaisance (obligingness), enjouement (cheerfulness) and flatterie. More specific techniques would be required as the conversation took flight. A comic mood would require displays of raillerie (playful teasing), plaisanterie (joking), bons mots (epigrams), traits and pointes (rhetorical figures involving “subtle, unexpected wit”, according to Benedetta Craveri, a historian of the period), and, later, persiflage (mocking under the guise of praising). Even silences had to be finely judged. The Duc de La Rochefoucauld distinguished between an “eloquent” silence, a “mocking” silence and a “respectful” silence. The mastery of such “airs and tones”, he said, was “granted to few”.

I think this is a bit much, and prefer the first description, which doesn't try to turn the art in to a science. The second description just seems to impose way too much structure on conversation. Anyway, moving on to my final quote, Samuel Johnson notes with seemingly stereotypical anti-French sentiment:

Samuel Johnson: “A Frenchman must always be talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content when he has nothing to say.”

Pain


Played squash with a fellow RM yesterday and now I'm sore all over, so no gym today, no nothing. This session, combined with a solid round of tennis in mid-December, has had its toll on my big-toenail, two thirds of which has almost snapped off ... not nice, but it's a small price to pay. To quote Rocky III:

Interviewer: What's your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang: My prediction?
Interviewer: Yes, your prediction.
Clubber Lang: Pain!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Terminator clip


Here is the video to accompany the script.

Terminator script


As part of the xmas/new year festivities, I bring you some of my favourite dialogue from "The Terminator". The script is near-as-dammit on the money, although there are a few minor differences with the final take. Enjoy :

SARAH - This is a mistake. I haven't done anything.

REESE - No. But you will. It's very important that you live.

SARAH - I can't believe this is happening. How could that man get up after you...

REESE - Not a man. A Terminator. Cyberdyne Systems Model 101.
SARAH - A machine? You mean, like what...a robot?

REESE - Not a robot. Cyborg.Cybernetic Organism.

SARAH - But...he was bleeding.

REESE - Just a second. Keep your head down.

REESE - Alright. Listen. The Terminator's an infiltration unit. Part man, part machine. Underneath, it's a combat chassis, hyperalloy, fully armored. Very tough...But outside, it's living human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair...blood.Grown for the cyborgs.

SARAH - Look, Reese, I know you want to help, but...

REESE - (cutting her off) Pay attention! The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy.But these are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait 'til he moved on you before I could zero him.

SARAH - Hey, I'm not stupid, y'know. They can't build anything like that yet.

REESE - No. Not yet. Not for about forty years.

---

REESE - (slow, but intense) Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with...it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear...and it absolutely will not stop. Ever.Until you are dead.

SARAH - Can you stop it
REESE - Maybe. With these weapons...I don't know.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I am an Elf !

Click here to see me dance !

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunny Jim wins award - good, or bad ?

Sunny Jim Bob, who is currently galavanting around the likes of Miami and Mexico, has been voted 'Comment is Free' blogger of the year. Congratulations amigo! Your hard work is paying off.

But I do harbour serious concerns. My greatest fear is that this award will serve to fertilise the seeds of delusional grandeur in Sunny Jim's left-wing, commie brain, and that he will continue to travel to South America and try to start a revolution, Che Guevara styleee. Nobody is safe ... Nooo!

My first Blogger hack: Peek-A-Boo navbar

I've incorporated a simple but super cool hack (courtesy of Bloggerato) that hides the Blogger navigational bar that used to run across the top of page. In Internet Explorer it's still there but is invisible, while in FireFox it operates as a 'Peek-A-Boo'.


Bye-bye navbar, I knew you well.

I've also added a funky function from Snap.com that allows you to preview pages by floating the mouse pointer over the links.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stallone knows the truth


Coinciding with the US release of Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone has answered some 200 fan questions over at Ain't It Cool. I can't think of any other movie star of this stature having done anything like this before. Stallone's answers provide an excellent insight into the behind the scenes goings-ons through Sly's career and some of his responses are laugh out loud hilarious.

Here is an excellent quote from the Q&A:

Men require a moment of hardship early in their lives, some task that lifts their self-esteem, some physical encounter - that’s all falling by the wayside. Today a rough physical encounter is a man not getting his nails buffed on time or his highlights turned out a touch dull. Bring back the lions. Bring back the spears. Let the games begin.

We welcome Stallone to the RMF with open arms!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cheap glasses


This is unbelievable. GlassesDirect offer cheap, half decent glasses, including lenses and postage, from just £17.50. The real joy with GlassesDirect and other on-line glasses companies is that most of them seem to offer an unconditional money back guarantee (you just pay the postage which is about £2.50 each way).

The frames I am wearing right now are nothing special but even they cost well over £100 from Spec-savers ... what a liberty!

Simpsons still on top form

After some 10 years you may expect 'The Simpsons' to follow in the footsteps of other once- popular tv series such as Friends, Seinfeld and Frasier, and to start getting tired and repetitive, painfully limping out of existence. But this just isn't happening. The latest episode was packed with laughs and had a razor sharp script. All I can say is keep 'em coming! Here are a couple of quotes from Sunday's episode:

Bart: Where is Nelson?
Skinner: I'm sorry. Nelson never woke up.
Bart: What?!
Skinner: Never woke up because he never passed out -- he's right over there.

When Homer reads the last chapter of Lisa's fantasy book and learns of the death of wise wizard Greystache:

Homer: No man should have to out live his fictional wizard! (sobs )

So true.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gervais is 'The Podfather'

Ricky Gervais, aka 'The Podfather', has released some new podcast material over at the Guardian.

There are three free downloads in total. Two podcasts are available now and the third will be released on the 25 December. Happy times!

Van Damme off the rails

Man is this film bad! It comes from Van Damme's lowest point in his film career and boy does it show. I watched Derailed out of obligatory respect for Van Damme's earlier masterpieces such as Bloodsport and Kickboxer (his newer films such as 'In Hell' also suggest a nice return to form). Derailed however, was clearly just a paycheck.

Not only that, but Derailed wasn't even the right kind of bad - it just didn't have enough of the right brand of cheese to make it enjoyable, although there was some redemption in one of the final scenes: Van Damme and others are being seen to by doctors/scientists wearing those special, yellow germ-proof suits that you always see in Hollywood films, and he accuses one of the scientists of being an insider and having helped the terrorists. The scientist says 'You're delusional' and Van Damme responds by saying 'Delusion this!' just before he punches the guy in the face. What a line. Shakespeare, eat your heart out buddy.

PS - Channel 5 has filled a clear gap in the market, showing films that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are simply too embarassed to show. Go on Channel 5, go!

Friday, December 01, 2006

P.G Wodehouse on the golf bug


In one of the exquisite short stories from 'The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Golf Stories', the Oldest Member of a golf club notes of the game of golf:
Golf, like the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious.
And later:
From this point onward the story Mortimer Sturgis proved the truth of what I said to you about the perils of taking up golf at an advanced age. A life-time of observing fellow-creatures has convinced me that Nature intended us all to be golfers. In every human being the germ of golf is implanted at birth, and suppression causes it to grow and grow till - it may be at forty, fifty sixty - it suddenly bursts its bonds and sweeps over the victim like a tidal wave. The wise man, who begins to play in childhood, is enabled to let the poison exude gradually from his system, with no harmful results. But a man like Mortimer Sturgis, with thirty-eight golfless years behind him, is swept of his feet. He is like that fly that happens to be sitting on the wall of the dam just when the crack comes.