12 August 2009

Daily Chat 12/08/09

Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BC. The city of Chicago was founded in 1833. IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. The Russian submarine Kursk exploded in 2000, all 118 submariners on board died. Celebrating birthdays today: Mark Knopfler, Pat Matheny and Pete Sampras. Today is the Glorious Twelfth -- a very bad day to be a red grouse in Britain.


  1. LaRitournelle, from the 09/08/09 David Mitchell thread:

    And if you believe that, you'll believe anything. However, judging by your comments, you seem to be desperate to be the new Mrs Mitchell, so I guess 'accidental' weightloss or not, you'd be in Mitchell's kecks quicker than Jack McQuick.


    La Rit

    Not nearly as sad as someone who doesn't recognise a joke when she sees one. I'm 4,000 miles away and harbour no delusions that I'll ever meet the man, but I will admit that I find him attractive. So fucking sorry that I'm not as cool as you and that, when someone says his weight loss was incidental to walking for a bad back, I take him at his word.

  2. Cleopatra committing suicide makes me think of the long strides taken by women since. I don't think any woman now would dare to commit suicide for a man, because it was for a man that Cleopatra did it, wasn't it?

  3. "I don't think any woman now would dare to commit suicide for a man"

    True, Jose, she'd never live it down.

    Morning, Montana. Don't let that idiot get to you. I think she's one of BTH's little gang.

  4. Forget it Montana - if she bugs you again tell her that I and martillo have a better chance of being Mitchell's partner! Glad I don't go to Cif any more.

    Jose i think Cleo possibly killed herself not for Antony but to deny the Romans the joy of seeing her captive in Rome. If her realm was secure I suspect she would have lived (and told Sid James' Caesar where to stick the asp!)

    El if you're there we gabbed about Shakespeare yesterday Eliot pointe out that Charmain's last words are taken from another source except the words 'Ah, soldier!' . Eliot said you knew Shakespeare was a genius just from those two words.

  5. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 09:33

    Edwin: Shakespeare also changed the "noble kings" he found in his source to the pleonasm "royal kings". Cheeky guy.

    I'm afraid I fail to see the enormous genius in "Ah, soldier", similar to my not understanding the praise Alkmene's final "Ach" gets in Kleist's Amphitryon.

  6. Oh god, egghead stuff. When does pleonasm become tautology? And who is Kleist and what is his Amphitryon? Answers on a postcard please.
    What about the enormous genius in "ah, soles" ?

  7. La Ritournelle's been behaving like a twat for longer than BTH has been around. She's been keeping a low profile for a while but has just begun posting regularly again because she thinks people have forgotten all the stupid things she said about Ken Livingstone being a shoe-in for the mayor.

  8. Hi everyone. My complete collection of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce digitally remastered versions) DVD's has arrived. Ramadan will be bliss!

  9. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 09:55

    Dan, mate, have a pint of beer for me and look at the gorgeous girls outside the window, as I am doing now (rather, I would if there were any girls there). Life has its pleasures for everyone, cheers!

  10. I mean, don't get me wrong, elly, I was just being frivolous. I love the intricacies of the English language and get upset at misuse. One of my all time hates is the use of 'disinterested' as a supposedly smart way of saying 'uninterested'.

  11. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 10:04

    dan: Here, here!

  12. Our posts are crossed, mister watson (as bleeding usual) which make conversation rather surreal.
    So you watch imaginary gurls, do you? Weird. And I don't drink beer anymore, not since i lived in Somerset back in the late 70s and was a real ale fan (and very fat). Now I don't really drink ANYTHING, except a glass of prosecco now and again.

    I shall be returning to Marrakech just as Ramadan begins and will have to deal with a lot of bad tempered Moroccans...
    I can't say it makes much sense to me- you're not supposed to even drink WATER during the day. That's weirder than watching imaginary girls...

  13. Another crime against the English language,


    I had to give a colleague a stern talking to on this word only this week.

  14. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 10:11

    Dan: Somehow I still was able to parse your last comment as a reply to my comment one minute before it. And as you don't drink anything anymore, have a big gulp of water for me (and for the hot time in Marrakech). Here's looking at you, mate.

  15. @Jay:

    "Defin-ATE-ly" (for emphasis). Gets on my wick when people say that.

  16. 'One of my all time hates is the use of 'disinterested' as a supposedly smart way of saying 'uninterested'.'

    Very good.

    I see 'Inayat' is here. Can the 'Cif Mods' (or Cods) be far behind?

  17. @Edwin:

    Yes, I'm now waiting for "Polly", "Sunny" and "Brian Whittaker" (oh sorry, he was real).

  18. @Swifty,

    If you ever come across a rogue 'defiantly' (usually in word processed documents, in print or as a file), you know the spellchecker has changed definately to defiantly and not definitely.

    But yes, it is one of the worst mistakes, most defiantly...

  19. People who say "absolutely" instead of "I agree".
    They want shooting.

    People who say "bored of" instead of "bored with".

    People on RADIO SODDING FOUR who say "there's plenty of examples"

    People who say "less" when they mean "fewer".

    People who say anything I don't agree with.

    All of them.


    Ok, another coffee maybe.

  20. I once received that error in a valentines card, Olching, many years ago now. It was a little poem,

    "Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    something something something
    And i'm defiantly in love with you."

    I think I was about 12, in the classroom, but you're never too young for pedantry. I pointed it out instantly, slightly took the romance out of the moment.

  21. "People who say anything I don't agree with.

    All of them.


    Yep, that about sums up my stance.

  22. Another shocker,

    Most worst
    Most bestest
    Most fastest

    Or anything taking that form, if you catch my drift. I remember when i was about 16 the kids from the other secondary school on the campus all started saying things like this, the same error, drove me mad - the disease infected a whole bloody school.

  23. Jay, perhaps she really meant defiantly. It could be: To be defiantly in love with someone (if such a love were in any way socially unexceptable).

  24. "Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    I'm a schizophrenic
    And so am I"

    That *really* pisses off my girlfriend. She works in mental health and it's a major and common misunderstanding of schizophrenia.

    (PS how do you lot do italics and bold on this here caper ? Is it the same protocal as on CiF ?)

  25. SwiftyBoy

    Watch it mate !

    As the excellent Donge used to say... I've got my eye on you !

  26. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 10:43

    Here in Germany, "Der Spiegel" has an online column about the abuse the German language regularly suffers called "Zwiebelfisch" (or "fish of onions" in English - I don't get it either) which proved pretty popular with the average reader.

    Has the guardian something comparable? Maybe they should have. I hereby propose Jay Reilly to write it. He's defiantly the most bestest man for the job.

  27. Bitterweed

    I thought it was just me and all those who did the same undergraduate psychology module! (Our lecturer had a bee in his bonnet about that one!)

  28. "It could be: To be defiantly in love with someone (if such a love were in any way socially unexceptable)."

    Very fair point. Though at that age I was a lot more socially acceptable than I am now, honest.

  29. @BW:

    For italics and bold, use basic HTML code: {i} or {b} at the beginning of the word or phrase you want to emphasise, {/i} or {/b} at the end, except use "<" and ">" instead of { and }.

    This site doesn't accept all HTML formatting, unfortunately, the blockquote code would be a handy addition.

  30. Do you really think I have a chance with DM, Edwin?

    When you've heard 'I had a shower and then I had breastfuck' a few hundred times, you begin to lose some of your sensitivity. Still, at least my students have an excuse. The BBC and Guardian don't. Fucking female bloody actors!

  31. "Begs the question" for invites/ implies the question

    That pisses me off..

    Also 'different than'

    The other one that used to really boil my piss but it seems to have largely disappeared was 'action plan'. How is this distinct from a 'plan' unless your 'plan' is to do absolutely nothing (which arguably isn't really a plan anyway). It's just a pointless effeort at injecting an element of energy and dynamism into something that in reality might be little more than writing a list.


    No...this one has the ability to drive me up the fuckin wall in certain contexts.

  32. martillo, have no idea about DM's preferences but as you do fine links - the Lorca and Joe Macbeth were brilliant - I'd guess you had more of a chance than most!

    We were in Skye last week and passed the kirk of his ancestor Forbes. Glad I saw the prog he did on the man, was excellent.

  33. Two Andy Gorams - oh yes I remember that. My favourite fan chant of all time is

    'He's black. He's gay. He plays for Airdrie'

    which is what the Airdrie fans used to chant about Fashanu - heard it at Firhill, deserves to be better known.

  34. Talking of Polly as I was...

    I've not seen much of her witterings over the way recently. She must be at La Bella Torre D'Avorio in Islington-Sul-Arno.

  35. Indeed MF, very droll. Although to be fair, Goram also represented Scotland at cricket. That would surely mess with anyone's head.

    How about "proactively" ? Usually just means "with foresight" and sounds utterly wank.

  36. Actually, this is my all time bugbear -

    in and of itself.

    Why? Why not just "in itself", or "of itself"? I have never heard anyone explain the practical difference between the two, much less the need for the third option of combining them, "in and of itself". Would anyone have been misled if they had just put "in itself"?

  37. Toast and Marmite12 August, 2009 11:17

    Aside from incorrect usage, another thing that makes my liver fizz with anger is the compound word "chillax," which is quite ironic when you think about it.

  38. I met Goram at a pub once. Funny bloke.

  39. Goram played cricket for Scotland? Interesting little 'factoid'.

    Here's my favourite Scottish football oddity..Gil Scott Heron's dad played for Celtic. Get your head around that little beauty...unless you already knew.

  40. Could 'of' instead of 'have'.....

    Confusing the meanings of infer and imply - have to grit my teeth at that.

    This is not common, to my knowledge, but I used to work with a social worker who had never learned to pronounce ad hoc, and would instead refer to haddock.....it was annoying, but also amusing.

  41. Things sound a bit grim round Mad "Mad" Bunting's way, what with the recession and all. I hear she's had to send the (admittedly rubbish) cleaner back to Slobdovia because the useless Simon's bonus was only 87% of his salary this year. And now, as if that wasn't bad enough, that nice Mr Choudhury down at the newsagents can't go on his hols this year.

    What is to be done?

  42. Meanwhile...

    LONDON - The Guardian is considering launching a "members' club" that would provide extra benefits to readers, such as exclusive content or live events, for an annual or monthly fee, as its digital director Emily Bell ruled out bringing in a paywall.

    The paper sent a survey out to its registered members yesterday which asked what would entice them to sign up to the scheme.

    Readers were given examples of the benefits they might receive, including a "welcome pack, exclusive content, live events, special offers from [The Guardian's] partners and the opportunity to communicate with [its] journalists".

    The survey informed the recipients that the members' club would be put in place to "support the Guardian financially".

    Make of that what you will...

  43. "but I used to work with a social worker who had never learned to pronounce ad hoc, and would instead refer to haddock"

    Oh bless....

  44. Would the members club get first dibs on the David Gower plate and other such memorabilia?

    If the answer is yes, count me in.

  45. SwiftyBoy/Guardian
    Golly- what is THAT all about?
    Guardian going OpEd?

    Incidentally, Cif is the name of a domestic cleaner in Italy pronounced 'chiff'...

  46. @Dan:

    Re. Cif - likewise over here. Used to be Jif, I believe. Cif Bathroom - well, that's one place for it, anyway.

    It's about money, mostly. They've decided not to charge for content, apparently, so they need to, ahem, monetise their brand somehow.


    You might even get to meet the artist's subject, but don't get too excited - I bumped into him in Leeds at the Crowne Plaza three years and he was a complete and utter see you next Tuesday.

    The exact opposite of Botham, bizarrely, who you might reasonably expect to have been, but who was in fact a top bloke.

  47. I've just had a look at the Mad thread Swifty, you piqued my curiosity.

    I'm not going to post on it, but thats mainly because I can't put a nice comment up on something which starts by pointing out that many people in low paid employment will be battered by the recession and lose their homes, and goes on to draw a parallel with others suffering with no annual family break. Makes me a little angry.

    Unrelated, I have always thought that Gower would be a bit of a Blears, but had the pleasure of meeting Desmond Haynes who was charm personified and a real gentleman. (If a real gentleman would fondle your arse for 20 minutes whilst making conversation with your husband.)

  48. How about managementspeak?

    Someone on Radio 4 said 'going forward' three times in one reply yesterday!


  49. Swifty
    Madders gets the "No Shit Sherlock" award for this week so far. Perhaps, Inayat, you could present it to her for us ? ;-)

    Gil Scott Heron's dad played for Celtic ? That's Factoid of the week that is ! "The Black Arrow" they called him apparently...

  50. Jif was changed to Cif because johnny foreigner couldnt pronounce the J sound properly. Another useless factoid for the day.

  51. We used to call syphilis "syph", so it's a bit of a sore point for me.

  52. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 12:39

    "No shit, Sherlock" is, to my ear, less elegant than Holmes' wonderful remark to Watson: "Watson, you have a blazing talent for observing the obvious," wonderfully delivered by the wonderful Jeremy Brett in "The Priory School".

    Basil Rathbone, inayat? Who's he? *derisive snort*

  53. elementary_watson

    I recently updated it to "No Shit Columbo" out of respect.

  54. Going forward, proactive, thinking outside the box, blue sky thinking, thought showers....

    Anyone remember Buzzword Bingo?

  55. ???

    Sounds intriguing....

  56. Vari


  57. @Jay:

    Ah, them were't days.

    See, that's what's CiF's lost - the devil-may-care, freewheeling spirit it enjoyed in its youth.

    I didn't know that place existed, well dug out.

  58. Yeah was a cracking thread, very amusing and some brilliant posts (and strokeplay, of course). Who is that young whippersnapper I often mention, her moniker is all in capitals, NOBREEZE? or something BREEZE anyway - for me personally she is the consumate batsman, she really is Tendulkar.

    As i remember as well it was one of those threads that turns into a bit of a laugh, everyone was enjoying it, then the mods spotted what was happening and wiped out about half the posts. So joyless at times...

  59. aaah, remember vague references to it, but never got to the root of BBatsman.

    CiF really does need to commission a few more articles like that, it was a joy to read.

  60. #"No shit, Sherlock" is, to my ear, less elegant than Holmes' wonderful remark to Watson: "Watson, you have a blazing talent for observing the obvious,"#

    A favourite of mine (can't remember which Conan Doyle book):

    "I agree that you see, Watson, but you fail to observe."

  61. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 13:37

    Could be "A Scandal in Bohemia", inayat. It goes on with something like:

    Holmes: "You have seen the stair which leads into our rooms quite often, haven't you?"

    Watson: "Yes, certainly a hundred times."

    Holmes: "How many steps does it have?"

    Watson: "-"

  62. LordS

    "The first rule of CiF is that anyone using the phrase 'posed the cynic' will be anally violated with a pineapple."


  63. Swifty many thanks for that Guardian Club info. Goodness me.

    welcome pack = hi suckers

    live events = ?10% off back seats at Spice Girl reunions?

    special offers from partners = time shares in Tuscan houses

    the opportunity to communicate with [its] journalists = Cif with bells?

  64. elementary_watson12 August, 2009 13:40

    FINALLY the moderation on CiF starts to see the light of common sense!

  65. elementary_watson - just checked. It was indeed 'A Scandal in Bohemia'. Thanks for that.

  66. Bloody peeved at all these goalhangers. I wanted to say
    1) Cleopatra did not commit suicide over Antony
    2) Gil's dad was called "The Black Arrow"
    Always someone there first.
    I could point out that Basil Rathbone was in the trenches. Think he was at Passchendaele or Loos. Some particularly ghastly one, anyway.

  67. Pharaoh of pop?
    Guess that pharaoh thing in Black or White may not have been too far off.

  68. @Fencewalker:

    Don't he look dandy? Although apparently he was also very good as "Tree No. 1" in the big budget production of World War One - indeed, he won that year's MC for his convincingly arboreal portrayal of a blasted horsechestnut in the notoriously tricky and hostile Nomansland Theatre, Dead German Street, Western (Front) super Mare.

  69. Always makes me wonder when you think who did survive the trenches - Tolkien, Arnold Ridley, John Laurie; what didn't we get?

  70. @Jay
    You say that, but it's only funny until someone tries it and then it all ends in tears.

    On the subject of Basil Rathbone, has anyone ever listened to American radio shows of the 40s and 50s, The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes starring Nigel Bruce and various actors as Holmes, starting with Basil Rathbone?

    They're usually pretty awful but always great fun, especially the hoops the narrator has to go through to get Watson onto the subject of their sponsor, Petrie Wine or Clipper Craft Clothes.

  71. "it's only funny until someone tries it and then it all ends in tears."

    I can well imagine.

  72. @Fencewalker:

    Very good question, that.

  73. Jay, have you been kicking cans again?

  74. When Vauxhall launched the Nova in Spain they didn't realise that 'No va' meant 'doesn't go'
    For what that's worth...

  75. "Jay, have you been kicking cans again?"

    No, honest, i never touched it! He kicked it!

  76. We lost a few promising and famous physicists due to World War One.

    Karl Schwarzchild for example.

  77. There are interesting echoes of the Great War in the Lord Of The Rings (and The Hobbit) if you look. Frodo crossing the Dead Marshes, Bilbo's first experience of battle, etc.

    MrsSB and MissSB are going to Granny's for ten days tomorrow, leaving me at home with the cat, I've got a couple of days off work, so it's the Lord Of The Rings again for me.

  78. I have watched the trilogy a very sad number of times now, severely overwatched. Though I'm very, very excited about the new Hobbit film(s).

    Tolkien always denied it was any sort of allegory for either the world wars or the spread of communism though didnt he, he said it was more an allegory for industrialisation.

  79. @Jay:

    Tolkien always denied it was any sort of allegory for either the world wars or the spread of communism though didnt he

    Indeed he did mate, which was why I said "echoes". When casting around in his mind's eye for the sort of scenes of utter devastation and hopelessness he needed for the ancient battlefields of the Dead Marshes, though, it's not a huge stretch to see him picturing the battlefields of WWI (submerged bodies, faces detached from their skulls, the detritus of war floating in the pools, and all that).

  80. Ah, I see your point, yes very likely I should think. Shame he didnt live long enough to see the films. Hobbit should be released within the next 18 months i should think.

  81. I'm taking bets on which Grauniad blogger is first to say that the Middle Earth's treatment of Orcs is racist.

  82. Biddy has already covered the misogyny and racism of Lord of the Rings quite adequately, my Lord.

  83. Swifty - if you've got a few days to spend on pure self indulgence, I'd always recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - I can read that over and over.

    Oh and again, you lucky, lucky git.

  84. Figures, she was always favourite and now you mention it I vaguely recall that thread.

  85. I just made a similar comment re LotR, because it is essentially a problematic depiction in the film. Scoff you may, but it doesn't alter the fact that Orcs (or Orks?) are basically working class proles, whereas the best people are whiter-than-white Oxbridge educated individuals...

  86. Its one of those that cant be reread enough times, Lord, it took stupidity to brave new realms.

  87. @Vari:

    I shall try not to be too smug about it, old girl.

    OK then, I've failed.

    PS Cheers for the recommend, I'll research it.

  88. I'm going to have to accept your invitation to scoff, I'm afraid. Orcs and goblins are essentially "monsters", the generic baddy of fantasy stories for centuries, probably millenia. They may have been given silly working class accents in the films but beyond that i dont think the point holds.

  89. Yeah, I liked 'Meany' and 'World According to Garp' - in fact most of Irving's stuff BUT don't bother with the movie of 'Cider House Rules' because it's DREADFUL with Michael Caine doing the worst US accent imaginable...
    And where did all this hobbit stuff come from? Dear oh dear.
    I read that in 1968 and was too old for it then. Film's ok though...

  90. I am almost feart to say this, but aren't the orcs descended from elves that went bad in some way and therefore are not human but elvish in origin. I think I remember reading that Tolkien actually got upset at the implications of this.

    I'll get me cloak. . .

  91. I think you're right, Edwin, they are descended from elves, half elves half man or summin? We are a sad bunch...

  92. As a documentary about the very real problems facing contemporary Middle Earth, the film trilogy predictably fails on all counts.

    As an adaptation of a much-loved work of fiction from the 50s, I think it works pretty well.

  93. "We are a sad bunch..."

    Hate to say it but...

    Incidentally, do LOTR enthusiats consider themselves a few rungs above Trekkies? A Trekkie once informed me that he regarded afficianadoes of Blakes 7 to be the scum of the earth and Dr Who followers to be pond life. Is there a recognised pecking order?

  94. Drive-by post here to say hi and bye. Back at the end of the month.

    All be good while I am away, won't you? :p

    J x

  95. @olching

    whereas the best people are whiter-than-white Oxbridge educated individuals...

    Those are the elves. Smug bastards the lot of 'em. If The Guardian in Middle Earth its editorial staff would all be elves and they'd all be writing articles about how dreadfully middle class Hobbits are.

  96. Orcs came from Elves, tis true, but they were captured Elves, horribly mutated by the hideous experiments of Morgoth and his evil minions in the First Age (wa-a-ay before the Thrid Age and the Lord of the Rings).

    I think.

  97. Seconded on World According to Garp. Keep meaning to read Owen Meany and Cider House Rules. Anyone heard/read Ella Minnow Pea? Supposed to be quite good...
    Read LOtR 4 times now. The last time in 3 days (ah Uni, so much free time)
    Currently reading all the Katharine Kerr books. Read the first 9 ages and ages ago and loved them and now she's about to bring out the 15th and final one so I thought I would reread so I can finally finish the story. Not as good as I recall but I did read them when I was about 13 I think.
    Not that I am a massive fantasy fiction reader (no really).
    English Passengers is an excellent book btw, I highly recommend it. By Matthew Kneale I think.

    I love reading but I have a real OCD complex about owning books. And I have nowhere to put them either. Sigh. Poor little books, all crammed into boxes, unloved :-(

  98. Monkeyfish, many rungs above trekkies, many rungs. I bet Pikey's a trekkie.

    Enjoy yourself, BB, we'll be fine - look at the riveting conversations we have when the ladies desert us. LOTR, Star Trek and pineapple buggery.

  99. "Read LOtR 4 times now."

    I done 3 but have been pondering doing the fourth tour of duty some time soon. The hobbit i have only read once, so may go back to that actually.

  100. You all have a much superior knowledge of the details of Tolkien's world; but my point is really about the film rather than the books (which need to be read in context and with your knowledge of the wherefores and whyfores). The film(s) - in my opinion - commit the errors of injecting over-the-top class, gender, and racial boundaries.

  101. @Original/Jay:

    I have to confess that I've read it at least once a year since I was, ooh I dunno, 13 or so.

    Which means I have read LotR at least 29 times.


    The films just filmed what was in the book. I think they did a pretty good job. Should they have perhaps gone down the other, more inclusive and modern route, perhaps? - a Chinese Aragorn, an African-American Theoden, maybe a Pakistani Gimli?

  102. JayReilly - just don't read that bit at the start "on hobbits" (shudder) - I don't know if it's just me but I lose the will to live reading that one bit, it was a miracle I got through it first time and didn't just abandon the book completely.

  103. "I have to confess that I've read it at least once a year since I was, ooh I dunno, 13 or so."

    lol, deary me, you need to see someone Swifty, really.


    "The film(s) - in my opinion - commit the errors of injecting over-the-top class, gender, and racial boundaries."

    Class - maybe, being a Kiwi maybe Peter Jackson isnt so attuned to the British sense of class angst. But gender and race? There arent many females in it, but those there are are generally pretty strong characters, they also fight, they are queens, they are powerful, etc. How are the women badly presented? There is no wicked female, all the females are goodies, for want of a better phrase. The main ones, Arwen and the wood lady (Swifty will give the name, my memory is shocking) are both pretty strong characters, no? And racial, do you mean the blackness of the orcs and mordor in general?

  104. Swifty, maybe, maybe not. I don't think the choice is between being super-multicultural and what the films did. It was possible to 'tone it down' a little.

    In any case, it's artistic license. I do think the films are strikingly 'reactionary' - impressive but imo hugely problematic. I mean, if I were a director, I wouldn't want to make a film that glorifies such a stratified world, so perhaps it says more about Jackson (the director, right?) than anything else.

    Just a couple of questions: Do the Orcs really have a working class accent in the books? Are the class, race, and elocution differences that definitively (or defiantly?) pronounced in the books?

  105. Obviously I really enjoyed the rest of the book or I wouldn't have reread it.

    SwiftyBoy - 29 times? Impressive. I always reread my books, sometimes many times which my boyfriend thinks odd.

    There was a channel 4 programme about the "average" everything in your life. It was bloody stupid and obviously quite meaningless but said "the average brit reads 100 books in his life". I can honestly say I had read at least that many by the time I was 12. Can't possibly count them all up. I have reread at least that many.

  106. Oh, the fun I miss by sleeping!

    What bothered me about LaRit's post was that we've never argued before and I'd have thought that the level of fawning in my David Mitchell comments was sufficiently OTT to be obviously joking. ??

    I'm going to write all of the language irritations down to make sure none of them creeps into my comments. Actually, I most of the above are peeves of mine, too -- especially "there's" followed by something plural and irregardless. Grumblesnort vleeblefester!

  107. *aarrrrgh* Take that 'I' out of that last sentence, will you?

  108. @Jay,

    On gender you are probably right.

    On race, well, I felt that in the second film (I think) the baddies (on those elephants) were unambiguously Tuareg people (with black riders), which in the wake of 9/11 wasn't perhaps the greatest message to be blasting into cinemas across the world.

    Does anybody know how LotR was received in Arabic countries?

    I'd just be really interested to know whether LotR in any way helped boost support (initially) for the War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (certainly in the US); not as a major factor, but just imagine you are watching those films as an impressionable teenager shortly after 9/11 in the US...the message is Arabs and people with dark skin are bad, untrustworthy, and irrational people.

  109. I hate it when people use "literally" when they mean nothing of the sort...

    As in "I literally bit his head off"

  110. Hi Montana, great to have some female company especially the owner of the pad - all the blokes at the party are now sucking their bellies in and trying to look manly!

    Irony of any kind is unwelcome at Cif - even a simple use of litotes gets somebody barking at your bum in mins, and any over-the-top praise will be read by quite a few as perfectly serious.

  111. Edwin: No need for belly-sucking -- I love you all for your minds! I must confess, however, that I have occasionally recommended comments that I read as ironic only to realise later in a thread, after reading more comments from the poster, had been totally irony-free. Makes I scared.

  112. ...the message is Arabs and people with dark skin are bad, untrustworthy, and irrational people.
    If true then you should also see less prejudice against dwarves, little people and those suffering from achondroplasia, the good guys in LOTR being hobbits and dwarves.

    But I rather suspect that this simply doesn't happen, either way.

  113. Well, who'd a thought it? All these hobbit fanciers coming out of the woodwork. Jeezus H Christ...
    Well I'm reading the incomparable 'Dance to the Music of Time' (Anthony Powell) to my wife Miranda last thing at night- reached halfway through 'Temporary Kings', the eleventh book of twelve. It's the fifth time I've read it. Trouble is she has to read it to herself the next night to find out where she fell asleep...

  114. His Lordship, that is a bit simplistic, no? Firstly, the dwarves are of course depicted as cutesy little things (albeit with a bit of a temper), but essentially the main dwarf was the laughing stock of the film, which probably chimes with 'World Freak Show' views on Dwarfism.

    But in any case, that wasn't the central message of the film. It was that white (Christian, if following Tolkien) people from the Northwest were good, whereas the swarthy masses from the Southeast were bad (and had a working class accent).

    Most of us are able to distinguish between film and reality, but a whole generation of teenagers grew up citing the LotR trilogy as their favourite film(s), and in the US at least the same generation ended up signing up and fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same generation has also grown up with the fear of the dark Musulman doing unspeakable things.

    It's just a thought...

  115. Andrew Brown moderation thread just up


  116. Olching,

    I heard that LOTR wasnt actually that popular in the US compared to Europe etc. Montana, is this the case? I also dont recall many BME actors in the films at all, most baddies are monsters of some sort, not human - and those that are human, Saraman, the humans Saraman gets to fight for him, are all white. In the second film there are some "exotic" looking characters, but not many in the context of the trilogy.

    I think the working class accent is about the only class mishap in the trilogy, and maybe he just couldnt think of another way that 16 stone monsters would speak, queens english wouldnt work as well.

    There is also a fairly right on message as well though, isnt there, look at gimli and legolas, two different races, initial distrust and hate, they end up best of friends. There is a coming together of all the different peoples and creatures of middle earth to defeat a common enemy.

  117. I suppose a German or Russian accent would have been too clichéd (or perhaps French for a laugh), but why not Kiwi? He could have fallen on his own sword and given them a Kiwi accent, or an South Afrikaner accent; everyone would have agreed on that...

  118. By the way, joking aside, I really do think that in general the LotR films can be read as an echo of a general outlook here in Europe and the US around the turn of the millenium (right through until now) concerning relations with the Middle East and beyond.

    And just to continue my wankery on this, the coming together of Gimli (I forgot his name) and Orlando Bloom (worst acting ever...the only Englishman who can't pull off an English accent) is (I apologise for this, even though I subscribe to this reading) of course an end of history view, where liberalism wins out and people come together under the inevitable liberal umbrella.

  119. Why is everyone getting their collective knickers in a twist over an over long and over hyped fairy story? The world is in serious shit largely because the Christian fundamentalist right successfully conspired to demonise the muslim world in order to rape the Middle East but we all connive in sweeping this inconvenient truth under the carpet and soothe ourselves by swopping hobbit tales...

    Oh god, I'm ranting again. Just ignore it. Time for my medication...

  120. The LotR books are read mainly by somewhat dweebish, bookish males over here. Since there are far fewer dweebish, bookish males in the US than there are in Europe, that alone would suggest that they are less popular here. The films were quite popular.

    I tried to read The Hobbit once, thinking that I would read it, then read the LotR books. Couldn't finish it, so I never tried the LotR.

  121. Ha! How do all you dweebs feel about THAT, huh?
    Good on yer, Wildhack- you de woman!

  122. Olching - this seems a bit "damned if they do, damned if they dont".

  123. But Dan, I like dweebish, bookish men.

  124. Proud to be a dweeb, Dan. I'm a geek, a nerd, a Poindexter and a bookworm and fuck anyone who says there's something wrong with that.

    ... errr, if that's OK with everyone ;O)

  125. I would be seriously excited to find a girl with an unhealthy LOTR obssession. Dweebishness can be attractive in women too, I think, perhaps even more so as dweeby women are quite rare. The TV wrecker has event ever bloody watched star wars.

  126. Sorry, Jay, don't quite understand your last sentence...

    And you're American, Montana, so you don't count.
    BTW, still waiting for your hymn to the US male...

  127. I actually don't see Lotr as reflecting modern times really. I read it when in college (loads of us did and drove the Botany technicians mad by signing into lectures in dwarfish!)

    Tolkein was a professor of old norse and anglo saxon (I think he studied celtic languages too). The hobbits were his own invention but a lot of the stories are based loosely on the old myths of those cultures.

    There could be a link to the Arabs though all those were cultures were essentially non literate and stories were only written down by christian monks who did tend to christianise the stories. So the evil monsters of the story may well have reflected the threat to christianity that Islam presented in the middle ages - more 911 than 9/11 if you see what I mean.

    After all Beowolf shows evidence of christianisation especially in relation to the fight of Beowolf with Grendel.

    I'm no expert on this but some of the elf sections of the books remind me of the Welsh Mabinogion.
    Click the link to 'Pwyll and Rhiannon'

    Rhiannon was a fair lady on a fast white horse reminds me a bit of Arwen. That name is similar to the welsh name Anwen which means very beautiful.

    I have always read Lotr as Tolkein's addition to the tradition of the heroic tales and sagas which always contained a fight between good and evil and the triumph of good.

    Every culture has these, some probably go back to the dawn of time. Tolkein would have been familiar with many of them from his academic work.

    To me Lotr has no direct relevance to modern politics its a folk tale. If it has a meaning its the importance of loyalty and imho the real hero isn't Frodo its Sam Gamgee.

  128. jay there are loads of us me, my daughter. my sister in law her eldest daughter.

    And of course I have to mention my nephew who not only wrote to me once in elvish but started in the middle of the paper and spiralled outwards!

    I got the appendices out an translated it! I've still got it somewhere!

  129. Time to get seriously excited Jay, Anne, be careful!

  130. Vari I'm think I'm a little too old for Jay ;-)

  131. I don't count because I'm American? Why?

    But there's just no excuse for not watching the Star Wars films. How could you even consider dating such a person, Jay?

  132. I'm a LOTR fan/dork. I have a collection of LOTR figurines, I bought the extended DVD's so I could have the big fuck off ornament things that came with them, and I even went to see the exhibition of LOTR movie paraphernalia when it came to the London science museum a few years ago.

    I prefer the book to the films though.

    I think the Witch King is one of the best and scariest creatures ever imagined. I have a framed picture of him (that I bought at the exhibition)hanging on the wall beside me as I type.

    Hi Jay ;)

  133. Bloody hell, you lot have been busy today. Haven't had time to read comments yet, but can say that "the Glorious Twelfth" has a completely different meaning in Northern Ireland.

  134. Of course you count, Montana, just a little silliness...
    Pay no attention to me, it's way past my bedtime and i have to go and read my bedtime story to Miranda.
    Night night, all.

  135. Just been over to Cath's thread, to discover she's on the BNP 'awaiting deportation' list because they think she looks, well, a bit queer.

    There'll be a lot of us wanting to join you when you have to leave Cath!

  136. Thauma -- The NI one was mentioned, but it was last month, wasn't it?

  137. I liked LOTR, but when the eagles came to collect them at the end, it did make me wonder why they didn't just get the eagles to drop them off in the first place.
    Having said that, it would have meant the whole Helm's Deep thing wouldn't have been necessary, so we would have missed the whole 'Now for wrath, now for ruin' speech, which is about the best scene in the whole trilogy.

  138. Dan,

    The TV wrecker is the young colonial that i am currently courting, she destroyed my 40 inch tv, the day after i paid £1000 for it.

    "I got the appendices out an translated it! I've still got it somewhere!"

    Sweet lord thats commitment. Magnificent. I may start a lonely hearts ad on the Guardian site looking for a dweebish girl who can match this level of Tolkien based obssession.

    Montana - I'm not dating her as such (not in my mind at least), and i'd like to think i would never commit to any formal arrangements unless they were quite serious Star Wars/LOTR fans.

    And Cath too! Who woulda guessed what a bonding experience this dweeb debate would bring. I always knew we had a spiritual connection, Cath, I also bought the extended DVD box set but i didnt get any damn figurines - and they call this patriarchy...

    The witch king is brilliant, i thought they did the whole 9 brilliantly in the film (sorry monkeyfish and dan, this must be really quite gruesome to sit through), but one of my fave bits in the film is the two huge statues on the river, the CGI is perfect, they look so good.

    So the BNP want Cath gone because she "looks queer"? Please do a CIF article on this cath, this has to be shared with the nation, and particularly BNP voters. How did you find out?

  139. Jay, I've got miniature versions of the two huge statues, they came with one of the box sets :)

    And I can't do that piece for CiF 'cos they already linked to it yesterday on their best of the web

    Here it is on Liberal Conspiracy (to save you the pain of having to visit my blog. Lol)


  140. If you despise men so much, why don’t you all pool resources, buy an island, name it “Menfuckoffland” and take your hate with you to die out when the last of you croaks.

    Nice. I thought these muppets believed that we were already living in Menfuckoffland, some kind of Matriarchal hell run by Harriet Harman and Lorena Bobbit. For a bunch of 'real men', they certainly whine like a load of little girls.

  141. If the sky is clear near you there is a great display of shooting stars to be seen in the North East sky (60 - 100 per hour) peak hours expected to be 2am to 4am

  142. Byaaagh! Frankly I think Tolkien would have hated the films (he was pretty critical of most of the other adaptations). The look of the films is quite good, but they were brutal with the story. I don't think he'd have liked what they did to the Ents and Faramir, in particular. I know I bloody hate it - Bakshi's cartoon version had a better feel for the story in a lot of ways.

    Allegory for WWI: I think Swifty's right on this. Tolkien, like you say, always denied that sort of think, but surely on a subconscious level it's there.

    Racism & class: There's definitely class issues in Tolkien - especially in the hobbit where the trolls (Bert?) and goblins are all cockernees. A lot of Tolkien's baddies are indeed not very white - the heffalump riders in particular (but also the wainriders and swarthy men if you read the appendices). You can partly lay this down to the attitudes of the time, but in his defences you can say:
    1) The bit of Middle Earth in LOTR is supposed to (later) become NW Europe, so a lot of bad guys are going to come from outside Europe.
    2) There are also white baddies (Dunlendings etc).

    Orcs and Elves: Swifty's right on this - tortured and brutalised elves.

  143. Does Cath "look queer" in a lesbicious sense, or in a BNP-cod Ealing 1950s English sense? Have they clarified?

  144. What? Not even any Americans then? Fft.

  145. The show has started - just seen seven shooting stars over Yorkshire!

  146. Bloody cloudy here in poncy southernland.

  147. Cath - they really are amusingly ridiculous, I find it very hard to take them seriously (though I know we should, their election result and all), but there is something slightly surreal about their comments, like they should be in a sketch-show or something. "She'll have to go...", yeah, she looks like one of those people that "get all 'offended' when you say you vote BNP" (if that is the criteria for deportation I think we may finally solve our overcrowding problems).

    "I've got miniature versions of the two huge statues, they came with one of the box sets :)"

    I dont know whether this is true or whether you're just trying to raise my blood pressure. If the latter, its certainly working. I want the statues. If they dont deport you for "looking queer" I will write to them about this statue injustice, old Nick will be mortified when he hears about this, mark my words.