Monthly Archives: July 2004

Reading

A Rorschach blot
Aidan Rankin’s gripping piece from The New Statesman about his experiment with being right-wing. He joined UKIP and spent a couple of years working on policy and campaigns until the nastiness overcame him. Thankfully, the experience worked like an inoculation and Rankin is now back on the left (or, at least, somewhere in the middle). Lovely review of a scientific critique of the Rorschach test from the NYRB.

British, amateurish, brilliant…

Circus Ricardo's clownCircus Ricardo's trapeze artist
Circus Ricardo's acrobatricardo_ringmaster_150.jpg
Thank you to the eight staff (I counted them) of the marvelous Circus Ricardo who entertained us Saturday afternoon. An almost perfect treat – artless, funny, very British – the polar opposite of hyper-finished, totally slick (and equally wonderful) Shrek 2.

Those eight staff, of course, did everything, so we bought our candy floss from the tight-rope walker and watched the juggler pick up litter afterwards. Click the small pics for bigger ones.

$75M well spent

Shrek 2 poster art
We saw our first blockbuster of the Summer this weekend – Shrek 2. A complete, delirious pleasure. What impresses me most about great Hollywood output like this is not so much the specific expression (which is very good) as the sheer ambition, the quite awesome unwillingness to compromise, to leave anything half done. Americans – when making movies, especially – really care. There’s not a slack moment, not the tiniest slip in the commitment to creating a giant, unarguable aesthetic unity. You might not like the final product – you might even hate its obsessive and arch re-use of movie and TV history – but you can’t argue with its life force.

• There’s something depressing about the way British stars pack the cast list: in a huge creative enterprise like this, we’re reduced to talent – support staff. We’re constitutionally incapable of making anything so grand, so monumental. We apparently can’t do epic – only cheeky, ironic, eccentric, cute (sometimes ugly, often amateurish). Once in a while I’d like to see us produce something really grand.

• Shrek 2’s audience is pretty well-defined – in our 9:45 Sunday morning screening (only bleary-eyed parents and small children permitted) we saw four ads for identikit small MPVs (those ‘flexible’ slab-sided multi-seat mini-buses for young families): Toyota, Renault, Peugeot and… er… Mazda? All silver, by the way. Must be this season’s colour…

Tivo for experiences

The wearable Deja View Camwear
Finally, a gadget that allows you to rewind life. A tiny video camera (the manufacturers expect you to clip it to your glasses – but if you got used to that Bluetooth headset this should be easy enough) that records continuously and retains a 30-second buffer. Pressing record writes the last 30 seconds to disk – in principle, you need never miss anything again. In practice, of course, you’ll find yourself needing a larger and larger buffer. I think I’d need about thirty-five years…

The wholesale Tivo-isation of life is under way. There’ll soon be no need to actually experience anything – you can just wait til you get home and replay the whole thing on the big screen in your living room. Once we’re all time-shifting life, the disconcerting feeling that your companion is experiencing things a couple of minutes behind you (because they put life on pause while they went for a smoke) will become commonplace…

Getting on the net at Foyle’s

I’d like to be able to say that I’m a fan of Foyle’s O’Reilly-sponsored free wi-fi hotspot – what with the nice organic food, reasonable coffee and jazz music etc. but I can’t, really, because on the three occasions I’ve been there over the last week or two I haven’t been able to get it to work. The otherwise helpful staff are reduced to shrugs and apologies and the shop’s network admin doesn’t want to know (understandably, I guess – she has real users to support). If you have an angle on how to get my Powerbook (Airport Extreme, X.3.4) online at Foyle’s, do drop me a line. Then perhaps I’ll provide the glowing testimonial I’d like to…

Continue reading Getting on the net at Foyle’s