28 February 2011

Whitcoulls' downfall

Auckland writer Graeme Lay argues that the demise of New Zealand book retail chain Whitcoulls is no surprise:

Stories of Whitcoulls' ineptitude towards local literature became legion among New Zealand writers. For instance, after my first novel, The Mentor, was published, I went eagerly into the Whitcoulls flagship store in Queen St to see where it had been shelved.

It was nowhere to be seen. So without divulging that I was the author, I asked an assistant if she could show me where a new book, The Mentor, was.

She looked thoughtful. "Mentor. That's a kind of insect, isn't it?" And she pointed me in the direction of the Natural History section. "No, no, it isn't an insect," I protested. "Oh no, that's right." She thought again. "Mentor, mentor. Oh yes, that's right. It's not an insect, it's a creature. A half-man, half horse. Try the Classics Section. It's at the back of the shop."
A comment on Lay's article reads: 'I went in to Whitcoulls and asked for a copy of Jane Eyre to give to a relative. The assistant asked, What did she write?'

- NZ Herald, 28 February 2011

27 February 2011

Brooker on Gaddafi

From 10 O'Clock Live, Charlie Brooker on the increasingly bizarre utterings of everyone's favourite 1980s throwback dictator, Libya's Colonel Gaddafi:

[Via Boingboing]

24 February 2011

On the attractions of older women

In June 1745 the 39-year-old author and printer Benjamin Franklin, who would later become one of the United States' great statesmen, wrote a letter to a friend. In it, he advised that a young man should marry, but if he could or would not, he should prefer the company of an older woman to that of a young one. Franklin set out eight reasons for his belief, of which the startlingly matter-of-fact fifth instalment is:

Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.

[Via Letters of Note]

18 February 2011

Mission Impossible Squirrel

One intrepid squirrel agent proves that [s]he's got what it takes to complete the ultimate mission. Caution: may contain nuts.

- Via Neatorama

16 February 2011

Teaching the teachers

From an article discussing principals' concerns about declining standards of literacy amongst New Zealand teachers:

Mike McMenamin, principal of New Plymouth Boys' High School, said there would always be teachers lacking literacy skills.

"I always look at how a teacher relates, challenges and gets the best out of the students. When you start to look at it in depth, there's more than just writing and spelling to consider," he said.

"You have to take into consideration the teacher's ability to inspire a class of students."

He makes a fair point about the need for a broad range of skills, and particularly the ability to provide an inspiring set of lessons for students. But perhaps it's not too much to ask for teachers to be able to inspire students and know how to spell and apostrophise correctly too?

- Taranaki Daily News, 16 February 2011

14 February 2011

Rosamund Pike spices up the Baftas

From last night's Bafta ceremony in London, actor Rosamund Pike falls victim to an autocue fault and stumbles perilously close to revealing the name of an award winner before the nominees have even been announced. Great edge-of-the-seat television, but Pike is a properly savvy actor with a good head on her shoulders, so it just goes to show that mishaps like this can happen to anyone under that sort of pressure. And Mr Dominic Cooper, you weren't much help!

13 February 2011

The conspiracy is much larger than Glenn Beck suspects

The Christian Science Monitor discusses reaction to Fox News' Glenn Beck and his conspiracy theories about Egypt, which are leading some conservative commentators to distance themselves from Beck's wacky diatribes:

“Of course, the conspiracy goes deeper than Beck has yet revealed,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. “I'm hoping that, in coming days, if the Freemasons, working in concert with Hezbollah and the Washington Redskins, don't succeed in suppressing the truth, that Beck will reveal the identities of the most pernicious players in this grotesque campaign to subvert our way of life.”

“I can't reveal too much here,” Goldberg writes. “But I think it's fair to say that Beck will be paying a lot of attention in the coming weeks to the dastardly, pro-caliphate work of Joy Behar; the makers of Little Debbie snack cakes; the 1980s hair band Def Leppard; Omar Sharif; and the Automobile Association of America. And remember, you read it here first.”

- Christian Science Monitor, 12 February 2011

09 February 2011

Rhyming Sigourney with horny

Simon Pegg still can't believe he's appearing in a film alongside his childhood crush Sigourney Weaver.

The Alien star plays a "crackpot" woman in the Brit's new alien comedy Paul, and meeting her for the first time brought back plenty of adolescent memories.

Pegg reveals he was so smitten with Weaver, he once wrote a sexy poem about her.

He says, "I’ve fancied her since I was 10. I actually wrote a poem about her at university. She found out about it. She asked me if I could remember it and I pretended I didn't. I rhymed Sigourney with horny."

- IMDB.com, 9 February 2011

03 February 2011

Insert Coin

Impressive stop-motion animation of coins on a black backdrop in a retro-gaming stylee; includes a brief explanation of how they did it at the end.

[Via Geekosystem]