28 February 2009

Martillo's Weekend on Cif

Hey Everybody - hadn't checked the gmail for a few days.  Martillo's been busy, but he did manage this much of a Cif diary for us:

My Weekend on CIF – Martillo

Friday 20th February: Get home after a fairly indifferent pizza and a fair few drinks. Check out The Guardian to see if there’s anything worth reading. Not much, as far as I’m concerned: in fact there’s only this article by Melissa McEwan in which she says something about women having a hard time of it in the USA. Not much of an analysis, I know, but Allyf found it equally hard to come to grips with:

“Really? Is that it? Am I missing something? WTF?”.

The highlight for me is Monkeyfish’s inspired (partly by alcohol, I suspect) review of female comedy on cif. I have to disagree with him a little because I think there are a few funny women there. In the end I am left disappointed: the general consensus seems already to have been summed up by Allyf, so what is there to argue about? The last post I notice is a bid from Montana to write dreck for cif, since she feels the standards aren’t too demanding. “True, that”, I mutter on my way to bed.

Saturday 21st February: I actually have a lot to do today, so mustn’t even look at Cif. I last until the first cup of coffee and cigarette. Well, it’s not as if I can do anything else with both hands thus occupied. Apart from operate a mouse, that is. At first sight, there’s nothing to interest me. Marina Hyde is there of course, but her ‘It’s very fucking generous of you to do charitable works, I’m sure, but how about paying your taxes?’ thread looks pretty thin on controversy. I mean it’s obvious, they should, shouldn’t they? There’s not even an early comment insulting her, so I can’t leap to her defence. Hankscorpio is full of praise, unless there’s some hidden sarcasm I’m too tired to see, and apart from Mrdismal’s Taxation is theft cry from the heart, there’s nothing much going on.

I’m just about to turn off my PC when I see this. It’s made for me: first of all it has the word ‘idiot’ in the title; guaranteed controversy. Secondly, it’s about Slumdog Millionaire, one of the very few films I’ve seen at the cinema in the last year. Thirdly, and most importantly, the summary hints at a simplistic ‘this film is about that’ analysis that really gets up my nose. Click…

I’ll confess straight away: I more or less skim the piece the first time and am not disappointed: “The subtext is clear…” I hate that expression; the idea that there’s a kind of secret agenda the informed critic can discover at a glance while the rest of us are left moronically ingesting the propaganda, like geese at the gavage . I clench my teeth as I imagine the writer peering superciliously over a pair of expensive rimless glasses and I cut and paste the expression and make my first post of the day. I suppose it’s a bit cheeky to highlight one of my own comments, but I have my reasons. I am rather pleased with it, but I’m also interested in proving BillPlasterer’s theory of most recommended posts (I wish I could link to this, but if there’s a secret path through Cif’s ‘search system’ I have yet to find it). Bill says, more or less, that the most recommended comment on any given thread is likely to be one of the first posts and to express an unsophisticated, populist position. QED.

Now excuse me, but shouldn’t my early leadership of the most recommended table give me some rights? I know it’s not my thread, but couldn’t we spend at least a little time discussing this ‘subtext’ question? It appears not. Monkeyfish responds, but the whole thing degenerates into ‘Whose fault is it that India is such a mess (if it can be said to be so)?’ And some of the hijackers don’t have any recommends at all!

Sunday 22nd February: my favourite day on Cif. I’m looking, in particular, for 3 writers. First Catherine Bennett because she writes extremely well, is funny and could start an argument in, well, somewhere you wouldn’t expect to find an argument. Secondly there’s Victoria Cohen. Apart from the fact that I really enjoy her style, there’s something about her threads which calls out to the gallant gentleman within me. Just about every article is followed by at least one of the following comments: a) ‘The world is going to hell and you’re writing about this? I think I must accidentally have logged onto The Daily Mail/Heat…’ b) You can’t write, you’re not funny and you’re only here because of your Dad’. Grrr. Finally, there’s relative newcomer David Mitchell. Again, because he writes well and is funny.

OK, let’s see. The first thing that catches my eye is this. Readers’ Editor Stephen Pritchard? News to me, is this the most temporary job since ‘Tottenham Manager’? And how did he get to be our editor? I don’t recall interviewing him for the position, do you? Anyway, he’s writing about a question of style, a fascinating subject for me, especially since the sub’s summary includes an annoying ‘typo’. I used to correct them every time, but they change it on the quiet and don’t even bother to thank you for your trouble, making your helpful comment look somewhat bizarre. Today it’s names: what is the correct form of address for those who come to the attention of the media? Victim; politician; witness; villain: Ms Smith; John Smith; Smith; Sally? And even when we’ve decided, should familiarity lead to a lessening of formality? There are some fairly good points made, though none I particularly feel like highlighting. There seems to be an attempt to start a sub-thread on corporal punishment. I respond to a post by Bitterweed. When I look back, someone has recommended it. My paranoia takes over: what if people think I recommended myself? Click. Yet everybody knows you get 2 goes: one before and one after registering, so now I’ll have to log off and slip myself an unregistered one…

OK, back again. Let’s concentrate on what I came here for. Ms Bennett: I’m a little disappointed, to be frank. It’s a great opening paragraph and this section is Ms Bennett, Catherine, if I may, at her best:

On the other hand, headlines such as "Testosterone to blame" inevitably associate all men, hormonally, with a financial crisis which is coming to be considered as much a form of gendered, antisocial behaviour as starting wars or stealing rare birds' eggs.”

but she fails to receive even one whole-hearted howl of outrage. MartininEurope speaks for the thus far absent ‘sisters’ who are being tipped to launch themselves furiously at Bennett, but apart from a little bonding session with NemesistheWarlock around the subject of who has drunk most, there is little support for his entirely reasonable point. Most of the other posters appear to share the sentiment ‘at last; a sensible article on Cif!’ Come on girls, where are you? I’ll check back this afternoon.

Time for Vicky. I don’t think I’m going to comment here, since the twin themes appear to be death and Jade Goody. I don’t like to dwell upon the former and the latter tends to get you into trouble with other posters: I don’t hate her enough for some and I don’t hate the middle-classes (whose fault she really is) enough for others. Still, it’s clearly up to her usual standards and is worth a look if you’re not put off by the subject matter. Only one poster has lived up to my expectations and I’m not going to get into another argument with him/her this week.

OK, Davy boy, what do you have for me. Oh no! Not bloody Twitter yet again! I bet there’ll be at least one person making the ‘Don’t you mean Twatter?’ joke. There are 2. Again, it’s well-written and there are a couple of good jokes but this is not for me.

Meanwhile, there’s one I’ve been avoiding. It’s about the funding of Rape Crisis Centres. Some of my friends have been involved in this and it’s a depressing subject. I don’t want to read any comments claiming that all/most/a very large number of rapes are invented. I especially don’t want to read the ‘with a face like that, why should you be worried?’ comment.

In fact it makes a fairly encouraging read. A well- written article is followed by a largely sympathetic group of commenters. There are, of course, some exceptions, some of whom object to taxpayers having to pay for the centres at all, others wanting them to be open to men and still others who think they’re a good idea but don’t like the women who run them. These lead to various debates, conducted, largely, in a polite manner. One poster tells a strange story of how an innocent shoulder rub involving consenting adults leads to the masseur becoming an official sex offender. Hmmm. I think this too will be worth a visit later.

Time to start cooking, dear diary. I’ll have a last look later.


  1. Nice one Martillo... I usually end up not getting into Ms Bennets threads simply because I don't usually do cif at weekends... And i must say Marina is fast becoming something of a CIF national treasure...
    Would love to hear more about BP's theory of who gets the most posts and why and how... which now gives me the chance to remind anyone who is not interested that it t'is I who must have the record for the most recommends for a post on cif... TEN THOUSAND AND FOUR... to be precise... still don't know how the person who did it managed it... but it wasn't me... I never recommend my own posts (and I'm never one to be smug or morally superior either.. eh-hem)

  2. I did finally figure out that I can get 2 or 3 recommends when I'm not logged in and then another when I am! Funny though, that I've gotten about 110 recommends for a throwaway comment about Bono and only one or two for posts that took some thought (though, apparently not enough thought on Sunny Hundal's thread, since I had to immediately clarify).

  3. That's funny, Kizbot, I have this idea that it was a post of yours which made me think about self-recommendation. I tried it out and later on started automatically doing it if I saw someone else had. I think I'm going to stop it now, since I know I'm never going to come near your record. Is it still there, or did they delete it?
    I once spent an hour following Bill's comments on his profile, which is how I found those comments. I must say I enjoy reading his posts, though I'd hate to get into an argument with him: he seems to have boundless energy and time for it.
    110 Montana? Well done! I think it has to have something going for it; I've seen posts at the very beginning that have only received one or 2. Then again, on an article about feminism someone got 50 or so for saying 'at last, a sensible article on cif'. Not the most thought provoking comment, one would have thought.

  4. 246 reccomendations for my post on Mazza's blog -read em and weep, martillo (-; Have to say though that it proves BP's point. My comment was up first, which means all but the laziest buggers will have read it, plus it bigged up Marina, and everyone seems to agree she's a national treasure...

    Good idea this, montana, especially as I could be about to re-enter the twilight zone of pre-mod (again) for being lippy to Sir on Perle's thread (and Freedland's, and...).

  5. You lucky, lucky bastard, Hank! A virgin MH blog. Have you got it on RSS? Now I'm going to do that annoying thing where people say 'I liked her before she was famous'. Difference is that I'm not going to say she's gone downhill; I still love the way she writes. I came to appreciate her on GU football, which is where I started my commenting 'career'. Most of my posts seemed to be defending her from idiot 'this article is crap' type posts.

  6. How many times is it possible to recommend oneself? If you keep closing and opening yr browser without having signed in can't you just carry on giving yrself recommends? The only reason I haven't tested the theory is catholic guilt... I'd love to do it... but I know the shame would get me... I can see my Nan's disapproving look as I type...
    Yep my massive 10,000 recommends is still there... in my clips... I get how you can do a 100 odd recommends but thousands? How was it done? Do any puter geeks out there have any idea?

  7. Know what you mean, martillo, the old "I loved Robert Wyatt before he got commercial" snobbery. "A virgin MH blog" - yep, being a bit of a fox is certainly part of her appeal, there's always at least one poster proposing marriage or a quickie round the back of Kings Cross.
    Good blog btw - and Sunday's my fave CiF day too usually, but it's pretty poor fare today. Still, if I try really hard I'm sure I can find something to object to on Cohen's page.
    Or I could do something productive...You tuning in for the "big match" later, devil and the deep blue sea for you, I guess?

  8. Kizbot - how many times can you reccommend yourself? At least 246, but then I did have a bit of time on my hands yesterday.

  9. I can't tune in, Hank. In any case, I have an extremely important meeting while it's on. Are you sure you can recommend yourself more than twice? I experimented with it and couldn't...

  10. "I experimented with it and couldn't" - purely in the interests of research, eh? No, I'm pretty sure you can't do it more than once. Whenever you recommend a post, whether yours or someone elses, the "recommend" facility gets greyed out. I should add that I only ever recommend my posts when they're any good, and I've been tempted to report them more than once but that's usually the morning after...

  11. "I should add that I only ever recommend my posts when they're any good"

    Oh, me too...

  12. Yes the posts go grey when you press recommend but... if you haven't signed in and you close yr browser and open it again I don't think the system recognises you... it only recognises signed in people... I think...

  13. Self recommendations should apply to far more things in life. I'd like to recommend the cup of tea I just made and I'd give the bacon sandwich 2 if I could. I'd report my hangover for abuse and I'd like to see my job get a lifetime ban. (luckily Gordon Brown is working on this as I type)

    Surely the technology is available to fit everything with a recommend button. It might just get the economy moving again. It would also make the world a much nicer place; show people they were appreciated.

    I just nipped out to buy some tobacco, rolled a fag and the first drag was worth 2 recommends at least. Also, I'd happily spend all night clicking the recommend facility of the woman behind the counter although she might be reporting me right now for the sleazy smile and inane chat.

  14. Yeah come on you irons!

    Quite right, Monkeyfish. I'd like to recommend the most fantastic dump I had after my first coffee and cigarette this morning.

  15. Well in that case... I'd like to recommend myself for the lunchtime wine followed by a lovely kip and then waking up and making myself a cup of greek (turkish) coffee to have with a fag...

  16. Good stuff, Martillo. More from me later. But, West Ham? It's a long story, but I lived in London for years and most of my mates were Arsnenal guys so I óften had to suffer the clock. I worked close to Upton Park so that was West Ham (which was OK) , but, me, I was Milwall. (Nobody likes us!)

  17. Id like to recommend my weekend, Bentley Rhythm Ace and my girlfriend naked. All splendid.

  18. Sorry about that people, a little more info than required perhaps. Bedtime soon. Night.

  19. Bravo.

    There should be some sort of super-recommends for when you feel compelled to recommend something by someone you normally disagree with, maybe even disagree with on that subject.

    Kind of like when your opponent in an insult bout comes up with something so deliciously witty and so electrically offensive that you're forced to admit to a grudging admiration.

  20. Well, I managed to give HankScorpio five recommends tonight on Siobhain Butterworth's bit about obscenity before they deleted him. I honestly thought that they were going to let his post stand, too. I mean, they deleted one that came after his nearly 1/2 hour before they apparently decided his was offensive. I think it's safe to say that we can't refer Richard Perle and Peter Mandelson as fucking cunts on Cif. Even though they are.

  21. Oh, Charlie Brooker referred to politicians as craven pussies ATL. Wonder what would happen if someone used that BTL. I think I'm going to check...

  22. Okay, well here's what I just put on Siobhain's thread:
    I noticed that Charlie Brooker used the phrase 'craven pussies' to refer to British politicians. So that makes me wonder (this is purely hypothetical now) - let's say that the Guardian gave a particularly odious American political figure space on Cif to spout of some utter rubbish. Just for kicks, let's call this man Ricnard Squirrel. I can understand that it might be unacceptable for a BTL commenter to say, "Ricnard Squirrel is a craven pussy." That is purporting to be a fact. Why, though, is it not acceptable for someone to say, "It is my considered opinion that Ricnard Squirrel is a craven pussy." ? It's a mere statement of opinion. I understand that our fictitious Ricnard Squirrel might be offended, but very few readers would be offended by such a statement. Not nearly as many readers would be offended by seeing that one of their fellow Cif regulars considered Ricnard Squirrel to be a craven pussy as they would be to see such a craven pussy being given space on Cif to spout his repugnant views in the first place. Is Ricnard Squirrel's right to free speech more important than that of the average Cif reader?

    Let's see if it stays put.

  23. I'm still in fucking pre-mod. I can't believe it - am I such a bad person? What did i say that was so terrible? Oh, right....fair enough. (Although, montana, it wasn't pussy.)

  24. Has anyone noticed that there isn't a single article about sex (sorry: 'gender') on cif today. Is this a first?

  25. They're pre-modding the way you fuck??? How does that work, exactly? Do you have to fuck a mod before you get to fuck anyone else?

  26. Actually, scherfig, you're not missing much right now, are you? I think it's been almost a week since I really found anything to sink my teeth into. I've enjoyed several articles - they just didn't seem to inspire much in the way of interesting threads to participate in. Sunny Hundal's thing got too depressing too quickly, IMO (although props to Sarka for some excellent contributions there). My own feelings on the topic are more muddied than anything that was put up there, but if I'd tried to elaborate, one side would've accused me of being racist and the other side had already told me I didn't have a right to comment on it since I'm American, so...

  27. You missed my highlight of last (but one) weekend, martillo.

    There was a fairly standard thread about GM crops by David Cronin (always want to put a 'berg' at the end of his name, but that's by the by.)

    Unremarkable, apart from the standfirst (also used as the blurb on the Cif homepage) which said:

    "The European commission shouldn't sacrafice morality to let the powerful biotech firm Mosanto grow genetically modified crops"


    I posted a sarky comment asking if the subs had been in the pub all afternoon.

    Apparently they had, as the howler remained uncorrected all weekend, and indeed remains uncorrected to this day:


  28. Finally out of pre-mod, and yeah, montana, it's been an uninspiring week on the threads, imho. Has the excitement gone for ever, I wonder? (sigh) More vintage Bidisha and Bindel, I say.

    That Jerry Dammers thread is a bit weird, isn't it? What next? Oliver Twist on unacceptably small portions of gruel? Francis Bacon on that thief, Shakespeare. Pete Best on how he wrote all the Beatles songs?

    NOTE:I didn't have to fuck any mods to get out of the sin-bin, although somebody probably should.

  29. Oh god, scherfig, don't get me started on the Jerry Dammers thread! I love Terry Hall with a passion hotter than the fire of a thousand white-hot suns and I find it incredibly difficult to keep reading how he's just a money-grubbing scum bucket without going a little nuts. THAT'S MY TEL YOU'RE DISSING, BUSTER! (Not you, scherfig - just the "Jerry is God" faction on the thread). It's not just on the Guardian - I've been reading it elsewhere, too. The ornery part of me wanted to speculate on the thread that this portrait of Hall as a greedy little backstabber reeks of anti-Semitism, but I listened to my better angels.

    By the way, Kizbot, the Bananarama thing was a long time ago. He knew they were talentless even then. It was actually Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols who got them started in the biz - so blame him. Forgive Tel. I'm sure he's sorry about it.

    Now, back to scherfig - glad you didn't have to debase yourself with the mods. I've baked one of my special Cornish party cakes for your welcome back. We can invite the others, or we can just meet privately behind the shed, if you want an extra special welcome back....

  30. Jerry's thread was bizarre.

    I once shared a DJ gig with JD, back when I was hip and trendy. He was due to take over from me at a certain time, and we got a message saying that he wasn't coming and could I keep playing for another 2 hours? And then another message that he was coming but would be a half hour late, then he just turned up. Bang. On time. I asked him what the problem had been and it was like trying to get sense out of a plate of jelly. Totally on another planet, like he really didn't know who he was, never mind what time it was.

    I can easily imagine that playing in a band with him would be a fucking nightmare.

    Having said that, his Sun Ra tribute orchestra was frickin awesome though. What a musician he is.

  31. Yeah but wildhack... he still employed the talentless hags... didn't he!
    You mean you didn't grovel scherfig to get out of sinbin? Kudos... a better person than I...
    Has been an interesting week on cif this week... hope someone will file their report on it (Not me this week.. love to another week sometime though)...

  32. Oooh, Ally - I'm impressed. You've met Mr. Dammers, eh? Can I bask in some deflected glory? There's been some implication elsewhere that he's still got some pretty serious drug issues and I think someone alluded to it on the Cif thread, too. The thing that cracks me up in all of the nonsense about him being cut out of the band is that no one has come up with a credible reason why the others would cut him out other than his being pretty much impossible to work with. As I said on thread - the greed nonsense just doesn't cut it. Leaving him out isn't really going to give the others that much more of the profit, so what is it? And if it's just Jerry/Terry bad vibes - well, Terry has comported himself much better publicly, wouldn't you say?

    (Yeah - I know. None of the rest of you care, really.)

    -Montana, still at work

  33. Oh, Kiz, didn't you ever do anything silly when you were 22? Please, the guy's a lyrical genius and he's dead cute. Cut him some slack.

    -Montana, counting down the minutes

  34. reflected glory. Geez, the things being in a room full of 13 yr olds will do to your brain...