Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Embarrassed by your mistakes in procrastination?

I'm just about keeping my mind on my work at the moment, but it's not at all easy. The BBC has, rather unhelpfully, put online a documentary that I've wanted to see for years. I reckon that after another hour of transcribing, I'll have earned the right to watch it. It's part of a tranche of programmes from the rather wonderful history series Chronicle. By Cribbins, I love the Internet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gag reflex

Even in the pre-Internet days, humorous responses to events showed a degree of uniformity. The "Who let the woman drive?" gag about the Challenger disaster was universal and instantaneous. How did these lines make it around the world? Answer: It was a coincidence. Different people thought the same way about the same events, independently of each other, and shared the result with their friends.

An example of this occurred today on Facebook. Two friends, one a professional comedy writer, one an old schoolfriend with no professional connection to the gag trade, each made the observation that, now that Kraft is taking over Cadbury's, they didn't fancy the idea of Cream Cheese Eggs. It's a great line. And it occurred to two un-connected (unless you count me as a common denominator, which would only work if they knew of each other's existence) people at roughly the same time. Which is why, unless the plagiarism is verbatim or the concept is so out there as to be instantly identifiable, it's problematic when comedians accuse each other of stealing material. A lot of comedy is simply a clever reaction to something, and, being human, we shouldn't be surprised if a lot of people react the same way, completely independently of each other.

He who pays the Piper should demand a new logo

With ITV reducing its commitments to regional broadcasting, the BBC has been taking up some of the slack. A manifestation of this is Late Kick Off, a football show that began last night on BBC1. The version we get in the east is produced by Kevin Piper, who presented Anglia Tonight and Anglia's various football shows for aeons before the retrenchment. Not giving a toss about football, I can't say whether the show's any good or not, but I'm glad that Piper, who always seemed likeable on-screen, is keeping busy.

However, with my doctorate in blue cardboard and Letraset studies from the Border TV Academy of Graphic Design, I am qualified to pass comment on his company logo, which, sad to say, is not of the same quality as the Anglia silver knight. While it's nice to see something on the BBC free of the tyranny of Gill Sans (which I once loved with a passion, but now regard with the contempt that familiarity breeds - meanwhile, the Richard Levin-designed 1958-1997 BBC logo will always be my favourite piece of corporate design, in all its variant forms), the design for Kevin Piper Media (I can't decide whether I like or loathe the Ronseal naming policy - He could have had something far cleverer with a name like his) looks like something a bored sixth-former might have knocked up on the school's new Mac in 1990 (that being the last time and place when I knowingly used the Avant Garde typeface for anything). If he'd had the company and logo lying dormant for years, it could be forgiven (just about) but a swift gander at the Companies House database shows that Kevin Piper Media Ltd was incorporated on 20 September 2009.

In fairness, the logo isn't all bad. The one saving grace is the colour bars, which are obviously a comment on MonkeyMFC's antics at Millwall Online.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How the Daily Mail works

There's an interesting story on the Daily Mail website about Millwall supporter Rod Liddle and some messages he posted on a football forum. The piece is headlined "Former Today editor Rod Liddle under fire over 'racist' posts on football supporters' website". Note those single quotes around racist. When used in a newspaper headline, they indicate that the paper's making it up. As it proves. The hack makes much of Liddle's forum handle, MonkeyMFC. Why? Maybe I'm being over-cynical, but it appears to have been done largely so that a stupid person reading the story could well come away and say "He called them monkeys. It's true. It was in the Mail". For what it's worth, the word 'monkey' figures in the email address Liddle used to return my Merry Cuntmas message. So, it would appear to be his nickname. A term of endearment to which the gibbon-visaged rabble-rouser answers quite merrily. So, its presence in his forum handle is irrelevant, and its use in this story adds nothing except a nasty taste in this reader's mouth.

Then there's this: "After abusive comments about [Kevin] Amankwaah by other users, Liddle writes he has heard [Millwall player Neil] Harris's alleged comment was: '**** off you spearchucking African ****'." Again, a stupid person could come away from reading the story thinking that Liddle had actually said that about yer man Amankwaah himself, rather than quoting what he'd heard. But then, 'Millwall player shouts abuse in heat of moment' is a bit dog bites man as stories go.

Helpfully, one of the commenters on the story has quoted the main body of what Liddle said: "There's thousands of organisations catering exclusively to black and asian minorities. **** 'em, close them down. Why do blacks need a forum of their own? As a power base and cash cow for ****s and in order to perpetuate the myth of widespread discrimination". Is that racist? Or is it just a broadside against lobbying groups? To be honest, I read it almost as if Liddle's paraphrasing 'Melting Pot' by Blue Mink. I suspect that it all depends very much on whether you're out to get him or not. While he might be a cunt (as am I), the Mail's miles cuntier.