30 April 2011

Holidaying with Kylie Minogue

Apparently, The Sound Of Arrows is not a 'swoosh' followed by the throaty dribble of arterial blood from a favourite section of torso. It seems to be a scientific experiment to replicate the exact sound of holidaying with Kylie Minogue in a pink seaside pleasure-palace while eating pistachio ice creams shaped like tiny flamingos. 

- NME reviews 'Nova' by Swedish band Sound of Arrows, 26 April 2011 

The expectant father

He still asks perturbing questions from time to time. "How long until he gets interesting?" was the most recent one.

"How do you mean?" I replied, putting down my book and reaching for my special tablets.

"How long before he can smile, crawl, talk to me about the Battle of Jutland, that sort of thing?"

"Ah. Respectively, six months, nine months and, if he takes after you, a year, or after me, never."

"What do we do for the first six months, then?"

"I look after him and you look after me."

"Right you are."

Everything will work out eventually, I'm sure. I'm sure.

- Lucy Mangan, Guardian, 30 April 2011

On married life

Marge: Homer, is this the way you pictured married life?

Homer: Yeah, pretty much. Except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

- The Simpsons, 'A Milhouse Divided', s.8 e.6, 1996

28 April 2011

Jeremy Hardy on education

Education should be free.  If you start charging for universities then why not charge for primary schools?  Basically they're trying to steer kids away from carrying on at school anyway, because they want to put them into apprenticeships at 15: [Adopts posh voice] 'The trouble is with a lot of these young kids is that they're better suited to sorting out my bathroom'.  The whole of the upper middle class has 'knocked through' in the last couple of years and realises that there's a terrible shortage of tradespeople.  So they want to steer the children of the poor away from Hamlet and into grouting.

- Jeremy Hardy, The News Quiz, Radio 4, 22 April 2011

26 April 2011

The principal purpose of philosophy?

"And all this pertains how, exactly?" Ferbin asked. His feet were sore and he was growing tired of what seemed to him like pointless speculation, not to mention something dangerously close to philosophy, a field of human endeavour he had encountered but fleetingly through various exasperated tutors, though long enough to have formed the unshakeable impression that its principal purpose was to prove that one equalled zero, black was white and educated men could speak through their bottoms.

- Iain M Banks, Matter, 2008.

21 April 2011

Rotten boroughs

Until the 1830s, it was common for a rich landowner to regard a Commons seat as his family property. These were the rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs, which had such tiny electorates that an election was easily bought or rigged. The families who owned them considered it their birthright to choose their MPs, or – if money was tight – to sell the privilege to someone else.

Old Sarum, site of the original Salisbury settlement, was the most notorious example. Because there was a bishop's house there in the 13th century, the area was invited by Edward II to send two representatives to the Commons. The bishop moved his residence to Salisbury soon afterwards, but for centuries, Old Sarum solemnly returned one or two MPs, long after its last human inhabitants had left. Only once in six centuries was there a contested election in Old Sarum, when three candidates vied for two seats.

Old Sarum held its elections under a designated tree in a cornfield. None of the electors lived in the constituency. No one did. But the landlord had the right to allocate votes to a handful of his tenants who would assemble under the tree and do as they were told.

The seat was owned by the Pitt family for 110 years, until they sold it for a reputed £43,000 after a member of the family had created a national scandal by instructing Old Sarum's seven electors to vote for a clergyman. It was considered improper for a man of the cloth to sit in the Commons. William Pitt the Elder began his political career under that famous tree.

- Independent, 21 April 2011

19 April 2011

The Sun is a mass of incandescent Prescott

David Mitchell: The human body produces more heat than the Sun on average by mass.  The human body generates five times as many calories as the Sun per pound of mass each day.

Clive Anderson: So if the Sun were replaced by a huge mass of humanity...

Sue Perkins: John Prescott?

CA: ...the world would be hotter?

DM: I think that the mass of the Sun isn't that great because it's largely gaseous.

CA: So if it were replaced by John Prescott not too much would change then?

DM: No.  I think maybe the sunrise would get less romantic... I think poetry would change.  Seeing a spherical John Prescott rise redly from the horizon looking baffled...

SP: You'd long for dusk, wouldn't you?

- The Unbelievable Truth s.7 e.2, BBC Radio 4, 11 April 2011.

18 April 2011

Just say no to bow ties

"It's the truth that you should never trust anybody who wears a bow tie. Cravat's supposed to point down to accentuate the genitals. Why'd you wanna trust somebody whose tie points out to accentuate his ears?"

- Doc Wilson, in David Mamet's State and Main, 2000

11 April 2011

Insulted by Authors

Bill Ryan goes to book signings and attempts to score creative title page insults from the pinned-down and unable-to-escape authors sitting behind the signing table.  Here's a few examples:

Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

For Bill - You douche bag, you think you can emotionally manipulate me, a very nice person, into insulting you, by appealing to my niceness?

David Mitchell, author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

To Bill - you're so nauseously [sic.] nice!

Amy Sedaris

I'd call you a c--- but you lack the warmth and depth.

For more, see:

Insulted by Authors

02 April 2011

Putting an 'i' in front of things

John Holmes: 

As Sean Connery in Highlander once said, right now appears to be 'the time of the gathering'. A time of mass gatherings in fact, in London, as we've heard, with people recently laying siege to shops. I saw them on telly, standing in a queue for two days outside the Apple Store in Regent Street, protesting that the cuts have left them with no choice but to spend £450 on an iPad 2. It's Apple's latest thing of course - a rectangle with a screen that does nothing that three of the other Apple products that you already own don't do already.

But you have to admire the amazing discovery they've made over the last few years. Simply putting an 'i' in front of an already existing word makes it sound cool and must-have. First there was a phone of course, then suddenly it was an 'iPhone'. Macintosh computers, which magically became 'iMacs' - basically a computer with a two-storey tall cinema built in... Personally I blame the Americans, who think that simply by taking something and interfering with it makes it better. See also: iRaq. But it's not just the Americans, of course. This also happened in ancient Rome.

Hugh Dennis (advertising voice-over): 

Have you got a Claudius, an old-fashioned Claudius? Afflicted with a limp and deafness due to sickness at a young age? Then upgrade to the all-new 'I, Claudius'. We've made the old Claudius much more powerful, simply by killing his predecessor, Caligula 1.0.

- The Now Show, Radio 4, 1 April 2011