Those great, shared cultural experiences. Iâm sure some of you remember how ground-breaking it was in 1977 to see this film. Sure, weâd seen the actors in parts before, on TV, in some smaller films, but this one propelled them into greater stardom. The memorable tunes. One of the greatest cinematic antagonists. The fact we actually started using the jargon from the film in our everyday speech.
Then there was the first sequel in 1980, and the next in 1983, though neither really surpassed the original, even if they cranked up the effects. They made more after that but those donât even count among true fans.
Today, the impact is still there. Iâm getting all misty-eyed and really need to watch the first one again on DVD.
I am truly grateful for Smokey and the Bandit.
On that very tongue-in-cheek note, have a wonderful 2016, everyone!
With Google and Ford announcing they will team up to make self-driving cars, I have some concerns.
Iâm not in Luddite position on the idea of self-driving cars. Potentially, they can be far safer than what we have today. I see so many godawful drivers out thereâNew Zealand has a very high road toll based on our small population, and itâs not hard to see whyâand the self-driving car canât be a bad thing. Active safety, active cruise control, and other features all point to be a better future on our roads.
However, is Google the right firm? You donât need to look too far (especially on this blog) to find some Google misdeed, a company that happily does dodgy things till it gets busted.
Imagine the future.
â˘ The car has no brakes until you sign up to Google Plus, then log in.
â˘ You cannot enter the car till you load a Google Play app on to your phone. You have to agree to a bunch of settings which you don’t even read, but essentially you’ve let them monitor you.
â˘ If you have a car accident in a Google car, thereâs no phone number for anyone to call. You have to sign up to the support forums where youâre told by Google volunteers that itâs your fault for misusing the software. Or they just ignore you. You spend several years trying to get your case heard.
â˘ Google listens to all your in-car conversations so it can deliver targeted advertising to you, until you opt out of this feature in your Google Account settings.
â˘ Google hacks your devices while you are near the car, even if you have Do Not Track or other privacy settings turned on. They continue doing this till the Murdoch Press writes an article about it or they get reported to an industry association.
â˘ Doubleclick targeted advertising appears in the carâs central LCD screen.
â˘ All routes that the Google cars choose go past advertisers’ brick-and-mortar stores.
â˘ Google Street View is updated a lot more, which sounds great, till you realize it’s been updated with images from your latest journey.
â˘ Unless you opt out, Google actually drives you to the store which has the goods you mentioned in a private Gmail message, even though you don’t need the product and it just came up casually in conversation.
â˘ When US state attorneys-general sue Google over wasted time with the cars driving you to these stores, the penalty is roughly four hours of the companyâs earnings.
Autonomous cars are part of our future. But I’ll opt for the tech of a firm I trust more, thank you. And right now, I even trust Volkswagen more than Google.
Star Wars is in my feed in a big way. To get up to speed on the film series, I had to start with the memorable theme by John Williams.
Thanks, Bill and Paul.
And who better to describe the plot than someone else in the science-fiction world, Doctor Who?
Seriously though, I hope all friends who are big Star Wars fans enjoy Episode VII. It seems to be getting positive reviews, partly because it appeals to our sense of nostalgia. It hasn’t blown anyone away in the same manner as the 1977 original, but then Disney would be very foolhardy to stray for this sequel. If you are building a brand that was at its height 30 years ago, nostalgia isn’t a bad toolâjust ask the team that came up with the 1994 Ford Mustang. J. J. Abramsâthe creator of Felicity and What about Brian?, plus some other thingsâhas apparently been a genius at getting just enough from the past.
One item that is from Star Warsâ past is the opening title, or the crawl. I’ll be interested to learn if they’ve managed to re-create the typography of the original: they were unable to provide perfect matches for Episodes I through III because of the changes in technology and cuts of the typefaces that made it into the digital era. The main News Gothic type is far heavier in these later films. ITC Franklin Gothic was used for ‘A long time ago âŚ’ for I to III; this, too, was originally News Gothic, but re-releases have brought all six films into line to use the later graphic.
However, it could be argued that even between Episodes V and VI there were changes: News Gothic Extra Condensed in caps for the subtitle for The Empire Strikes Back, switching to Univers for Return of the Jedi. (It seems even the most highly ranked fan wiki missed this.) And, of course, there was no equivalent in the original Star Warsâ’A New Hope’ was added in 1981.
Here’s how it looked in 1977:
And if you really wish to compare them, here are all six overlaid on each other:
I wasn’t a huge fan in the 1970s: sci-fi was not my thing, and I only saw Star Wars for the first time in the 1980s on video cassette, but I did have a maths set, complete with Artoo Detoo eraser (I learned my multiplication table from a Star Wars-themed sheet) and the Return of the Jedi book of the film. But even for this casual viewer and appreciator, enough of that opening sunk in for me to know that things weren’t quite right for The Phantom Menace in 1999. I hope, for those typographically observant fans, that The Force Awakens gets things back on track.
I have just under a year before my British passport expires. In the great tradition of apartheid, it’s a British overseas national passport for those of us born in the colonies, and both in 1996 and 2006, I had to use a different form to British citizens. I presume Britain was worried about overseas British subjects flooding to their country if anything happened, and as we all know, they would much rather that Johnny Foreigner from the Continent head there to get work.
Naturally, they don’t make the renewal easy. Once upon a time, you got the form, filled it in, paid the fee, and went along to the British High Commission. It approached New Zealand levels of efficiency, which is very un-British, as it goes against the national tradition of strikes. However, I bumped into the new High Commissioner late last year (strangely, I never saw his predecessor in all the years she was here, so presently I still wonder whether she exists) and he advised me that these were all being done from the UK. It does beg the question of why we need High Commissions, just as I’m sure Gordon Brown was asking once why Britain needed all that gold, and earlier leaders why Britain needed a domestically owned car industry. You just never know what is round the corner.
But I digress.
I Tweeted the British High Commission’s account to ask about this, and they pointed me to www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration. It’s not terribly useful. Here was how our Twitter conversation unfolded:
I did try the form for regular British citizens, which is one thing a search gives you. I’ve been through it, and there’s nowhere in which you can tell them you’re a BNO. This might be good news, because it means the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has started treating us the same as everyone else. Except you just know that that’s too good to be true. And the silence from the High Commission is interesting. You can always count on the Foreign Office to make you feel second-class. By telling them you are BNO, it rules out that you have any blue blood from their lot, so they have nothing to fear if you are a pleb.
This is not atypical of the British High Commission: I had a query in 2001 on a fairly serious matter, and they ignored my correspondence. The Foreign Secretary then ignored it. The Shadow Foreign Secretary then ignored it. Thank goodness for Ms Doreen Welch of the Prime Minister’s office, who acknowledged it, to the point where I took her correspondence to Britain to show that even if the FCO were incapable, the PM accepted my viewpoint. (Who knew? Tony did good.) We return to the question of just why we need High Commissions if they actually serve no function for British subjects abroad. (The only High Commissioner who ever bothered responding was George Fergusson, because of our St Mark’s old boys’ connection, but in classic British fashion his people got the address wrong on the envelope and the correspondence took months to get from Thorndon to Kilbirnie.)
I enquired again, this time with the Passports’ Office. I have cited the wrong link below, but at least I admit it when I am wrong.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The British High Commission in New Zealand provided me the link to your new service at https://passportapplication.service.gov.uk, and it looks very easy to follow.
However, I am a British overseas national. I note your website has a separate PDF form for us, and a separate set of guidance notes. What your website does not detail is the process and where we send this PDF once completed.
Most websites seem to point to the above link.
Please can you enlighten me on the actual procedure? If it is the first link given, then I am happy to proceed through it and do it online. However, if the presence of the PDF on your website is any indication, then I suspect we have to jump through different hoops, and I would appreciate your guidance on that.
Here is the reply. This is in full. Salutations, you see, are no longer part of FCO correspondence. That makes it officially one step down from responses from Amazon.com.
Thank you for your reply. So you are saying that there is no difference whether I am a British Overseas National or a British Citizen, and that I follow the one procedure at your link?
This also means I can ignore the downloadable PDF on your website for British Overseas Nationals: is this correct?
That’s the thing. There are two forms. One is the standard one, and the other is the BNO one, for which there are no instructions. No addresses are given on where to send this form. And when you ask them, no one will tell you a thing. Britain is sworn to silence when dealing with British subjects.
Now, you might think, why don’t I just follow the link given? Sure, but this is the UK. I am happy to follow it and pay the fee but if they cock up, I pay again. It’s not like New Zealand where you can explain this to someone and they do the logical, right thing. It’s not even like Hong Kong or Singapore, places blessed with a decent civil service when the sun still shone on the Empah, but where the functionaries actually function. This is why I want to be sure. And you would think this was a delightfully simple query, innit.
No one appears to have blogged about their experiences, hence this post. I even used my last-resort search engine Google to take a look: you know I got desperate when I allowed the NSA to know and to pass that on to the GCHQ.
If you’re a BNO who has been through this post-2013, please feel free to comment.
It’s in stark contrast to my urgent New Zealand passport renewal last year, which was done by the DIA in Wellington in four hours. That was not a typo.
I realize that with electronic media somewhat difficult for this department, I will give them a call during the working week. To make sure that I get an answer, I will adopt an American accent, because we all know the British government listens to those.
Failing that, one might have to fly there just to get this done.
You’ve run for office, Jack. What is your favourite political speech? Something from MLK? JFK in Berlin?
No, it was a completely fictional one, from the minds of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn:
Iâm a good European. I believe in Europe. I believe in the European ideal! Never again shall we repeat the bloodshed of two world wars. Europe is here to stay.
But this does not mean that we have to bow the knee to every directive from every bureaucratic Bonaparte in Brussels. We are a sovereign nation still and proud of it.
We have made enough concessions to the European commissar for agriculture. And when I say commissar, I use the word advisedly. We have swallowed the wine lake, we have swallowed the butter mountain, we have watched our French friends beating up British lorry drivers carrying good British lamb to the French public. We have bowed and scraped, doffed our caps, tugged our forelocks and turned the other cheek. But I say enough is enough!
The Europeans have gone too far. They are now threatening the British sausage. They want to standardize it, by which they mean theyâll force the British people to eat salami and bratwurst and other garlic-ridden greasy foods that are totally alien to the British way of life.
Do you want to eat salami for breakfast with your egg and bacon? I donât. And I wonât!
Theyâve turned our pints into litres and our yards into metres, we gave up the tanner and the threepenny bit, the two bob and the half-crown. But they cannot and will not destroy the British sausage! Not while Iâm here.
In the words of Martin Luther: Here I stand, I can do no other.
âParty Games’ is one of the most instructive Yes, Minister episodes ever. Thanks to this incident on Fox News for inspiring this post.
For the last few years, Iâve looked back at the events of the year in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. (In fact, in 2009, I looked back at the decade.) Tumblrâs the place I look at these days for these summaries, since it tends to have my random thoughts, ones complemented by very little critical thinking. They tell me what piqued my interest over the year.
These days, Iâve been posting more about the TV show I watch the most regularly, the German Alarm fĂźr Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei. A good part of my Tumblr, at least, and of Danielle Careyâs, whom I first connected with via this blog, features screen shots and other photographs from it. But Cobra 11 asideâand for those âculturedâ Germans who tell me itâs the worst show on their telly, may I remind you that you still make Das Traumschiff?âI still will be influenced by everyday events.
So what do I spy?
Sadly, despite my intent in wanting to blog humorously, it turns out that 2014 doesnât necessarily give us a lot to laugh about. And weâve had over a year after that Mayan calendar gag, and 13 years after Y2K. Itâs still not time to laugh yet.
I made a spoof English Hustle poster given all the hype about American Hustle, which seems to have, prima facie, the same idea. It meets with Adrian Lesterâs approval (well, he said, âHa,â which I gather is positive).
I post about Idris Elba giving a response about the James Bond character. (Slightly ahead of my time, as it turns out.)
Robert Catto wrote of Justin Bieberâs arrest: âSo, J. Biebs is arrested for racing a rented Lamborghini in a residential neighbourhood while under the influence (of drugs and alcohol) while on an expired license, resisting arrest, and a bunch of previous stuff including egging a neighbourâs house. With that many accusations being thrown at him, this can only mean one thing.
âThe race for Mayor of Toronto just got interesting.â
I wrote to a friend, âIf there was a Facebook New Zealand Ltd. registered here then it might make more sense ensuring that there were fewer loopholes for that company to minimize its tax obligations, but the fact is there isnât. Either major party would be better off encouraging New Zealand to be the head office for global corporations, or encourage good New Zealand businesses to become global players, if this was an issue (and I believe that it is). There is this thing called the internet that they may have heard of, but both parties have seen it as the enemy (e.g. the whole furore over s. 92A, first proposed by Labour, enacted by National).
âRight now, we have some policy and procedural problems preventing us from becoming more effective exporters.
âItâs no coincidence that I took an innovation tack in my two mayoral campaigns. If central government was too slow in acting to capture or create these players, then I was going to do it at a local level.â
And there are $700 trillion (I imagine that means $700 billion, if you used the old definitionsâ12 zeroes after the 700) worth of derivatives yet to implode, according to I Acknowledge. Global GDP is $69Âˇ4 (American) trillion a year. âThis means that (primarily) Wall Street and the City of London have run up phantom paper debts of more than ten times of the annual earnings of the entire planet.â
The Sochi Olympics: in Soviet Russia, Olympics watch you! Dmitry Kozak, the deputy PM, says that westerners are deliberately sabotaging things there. How does he know? âWe have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day.â Sports Illustrated does an Air New Zealand safety video.
This was the month I first saw the graphic containing a version of these words: âJesus was a guy who was a peaceful, radical, nonviolent revolutionary, who hung around with lepers, hookers, and criminals, who never spoke English, was not an American citizen, a man who was anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-public prayer (yes he was Matthew 6:5), anti-death penalty but never once remotely anti-gay, didnât mention abortion, didnât mention premarital sex, a man who never justified torture, who never called the poor âlazyâ, who never asked a leper for a co-pay, who never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, who was a long haired, brown skinned (thatâs in revelations), homeless, middle eastern Jew? Of course, thatâs only if you believe whatâs actually in the Bibleâ (sic). For those who want a response, this blog post answers the points from a Catholic point of view, but the original quoteâs not completely off-base.
My friend Dmitry protests in Moskva against Russiaâs actions in the Crimea. This was posted on this blog at the time. He reports things arenât all rosy in Russia when it comes to free speech.
Another friend, Carolyn Enting, gets her mug in the Upper Hutt Leader after writing her first fictional book, The Medallion of Auratus.
MH370 goes missing.
And this great cartoon, called âIf Breaking Bad Had Been Set in the UKâ:
I call Lupita Nyongâo âWoman of the Year 2014â.
A post featuring Robin Williams (before that horrible moment in August), where he talks about the influence of Peter Sellers and Dr Strangelove on him. I seem to have posted a lot of Robin that month, from his CBS TV show, The Crazy Ones.
A Lancastrian reader, Gerald Vinestock, writes to The Times: âSir, Wednesdayâs paper did not have a photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge. I do hope she is all right.â
A first post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1987âs The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
The fiftieth anniversary of the on-sale date of the Ford Mustang (April 17).
The death of Bob Hoskins. Of course I had to post his last speech in The Long Good Friday, as well as the clip from Top Gear where Richard Hammond mistook Ray Winstone for Hoskins. They all look the same to me.
Judith Collinsâ story about what she was doing in China with Oravida collapses.
Someone points out there is a resemblance between Benedict Cumberbatch and Butthead from Beavis and Butthead.
Jean Pisani Ferryâs view on the origins of the euro crisis in The Economist: âSuppose that the crisis had begun, as it might easily have done, in Ireland? It would then have been obvious that fiscal irresponsibility was not the culprit: Ireland had a budget surplus and very low debt. More to blame were economic imbalances, inflated property prices and dodgy bank loans. The priority should not have been tax rises and spending cuts, but reforms to improve competitiveness and a swift resolution of troubled banks, including German and French ones, that lent so irresponsibly.â
Sir Ian McKellen says, âDid I want to go and live in New Zealand for a year? As it turns out, I was very happy that I did. I canât recommend New Zealand strongly enough. Itâs a wonderful, wonderful place, quite unlike [the] western world. Itâs in the southern hemisphere and itâs far, far away and although they speak English, donât be fooled. Theyâre not like us. Theyâre something better than us.â
Lots of Alarm fĂźr Cobra 11 posts.
July Sopheak Sengâs first Lucire cover, photographed by Dave Richards, and with a fantastic crew: hair by Michael Beel, make-up by Hil Cook, modelled by ChloĂŠ Graham, and with some layout and graphic design by Tanya Sooksombatisatian and typography by me.
Liam Fitzpatrick writes of Hong Kong, before the Occupy protests, âHong Kongersâsober, decent, pragmatic and hardworkingâare mostly not the sort of people who gravitate to the barricades and the streets. Neither do they need to be made aware of the political realities of having China as a sovereign power, for the simple fact that postwar Hong Kong has only ever existed with Chinaâs permission. In the 1960s, the local joke was that Mao Zedong could send the British packing with a mere phone call.
âWith that vast, brooding power lying just over the Kowloon hills, tiny Hong Kongâs style has always been to play China cleverlyâto push where it can (in matters such as education and national-security legislation, where it has won important battles) and to back off where it cannot.â
It didnât seem completely prescient.
The General Election campaign: National billboards are edited. Doctor Who goes on tour prior to Peter Capaldiâs first season in the lead role.
The suicide of Robin Williams.
Michael Brown is killed. Greg Howard writes, âThere was Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., and Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., and so many more. Michael Brownâs death wasnât shocking at all. All over the country, unarmed black men are being killed by the very people who have sworn to protect them, as has been going on for a very long time now âŚ
âThere are reasons why white gunâs rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying childrenâs toys.â
Like so many things, such a statement of fact became politicized in months to come.
Darren Watson releases âUp Here on Planet Keyâ, only to have it banned by the Electoral Commission. With his permission, I did a spoken-word version.
Journalist Nicky Hager, who those of us old enough will remember was a right-wing conspiracy theorist, is branded a left-wing conspiracy theorist by the PM because this time, he wrote about National and not Labour. The Deputy PM, Bill English, who commended Hagerâs work 12 years ago over Seeds of Distrust, and even quoted from it, remained fairly quiet.
It wasnât atypical. I wrote in one post, âIn 2011, Warren Tucker said three times in one letter that he told PM John Key about the SIS release. Now he says he only told his office but not the PM personallyâafter an investigation was announced (when the correct protocol would be to let the investigation proceed) âŚ
âKey did not know about GCSB director Ian Fletcherâs appointment (week one of that saga) before he knew about it (week two).
âKey cannot remember how many TranzRail shares he owned.
âKey cannot remember if and when he was briefed by the GCSB over Kim Dotcom.
âKey did not know about Kim Dotcomâs name before he did not know about Kim Dotcom at all.
âKey cannot remember if he was for or against the 1981 Springbok tour.â
Some folks on YouTube did a wonderful series of satirical videos lampooning the PM. Kiwi satire was back. This was the first:
Matt Crawford recalled, âAt this point in the last election campaign, the police were threatening to order search warrants for TV3, The Herald on Sunday, RadioNZ et alâover a complaint by the Prime Minister. Over a digital recording inadvertently made in a public space literally during a media stunt put on for the pressâa figurative media circus.â
Quoting Robert Muldoon in 1977âs Muldoon by Muldoon: âNew Zealand does not have a colour bar, it has a behaviour bar, and throughout the length and breadth of this country we have always been prepared to accept each other on the basis of behaviour and regardless of colour, creed, origin or wealth. That is the most valuable feature of New Zealand society and the reason why I have time and again stuck my neck out to challenge those who would try to destroy this harmony and set people against people inside our country.â
And my reaction to the Conservative Partyâs latest publicity, which was recorded on this blog, and repeated for good measure on Tumblr: âEssentially what they are saying is: our policy is that race doesnât matter. Except when it comes to vilifying a group, it does. Letâs ignore the real culprits, because: âThe Chineseâ.â
The passing of Richard âJawsâ Kiel.
John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures sums up Nicky Hager: âHager is a gadfly who often causes us to examine our society. He has attacked both the right and the left before. Itâs too easy to dismiss it as a left wing loony conspiracy. We tend to shoot the messengers rather than examine the messages.â
New Zealanders begin vilifying Kim Dotcom: I respond. I blog about Occupy Central in Hong Kongâwhich led to a television appearance on Breakfast in early October.
Iâm not sure where this quotation comes from, but I reposted it: âA white man is promoted: He does good work, he deserved it.
âA white woman is promoted: Whose dick did she suck?
âA man of color is promoted: Oh, great, I guess we have to âfill quotasâ now.
âA woman of color is promoted: j/k. That never happens.â
Facebook gets overrun by bots: I manage to encounter 277 in a single day. (I eventually reach someone at Facebook New Zealand, who is trying to solicit business for one of the fan pages we have, and point this out. I never hear back from him.) The trouble is Facebook limits you to reporting 40 a day, effectively tolerating the bots. It definitely tolerates the click farms: I know of dozens of accounts that the company has left untouched, despite reports.
Kim Dotcomâs lawyers file a motion to dismiss in Virginia in United States v. Dotcom and others, and summarize the case so far: âNearly three years ago, the United States Government effectively wiped out Megaupload Limited, a cloud storage provider, along with related businesses, based on novel theories of criminal copyright infringement that were offered by the Government ex parte and have yet to be subjected to adversarial testing. Thus, the Government has already seized the criminal defendantsâ websites, destroyed their business, and frozen their assets around the worldâall without benefit of an evidentiary hearing or any semblance of due process.
âWithout even attempting to serve the corporate defendants per the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Government has exercised all its might in a concerted, calculated effort to foreclose any opportunity for the defendants to challenge the allegations against them and also to deprive them of the funds and other tools (including exculpatory evidence residing on servers, counsel of choice, and ability to appear) that would equip robust defense in the criminal proceedings.
âBut all that, for the Government, was not enough. Now it seeks to pile on against ostensibly defenseless targets with a parallel civil action, seeking civil forfeiture, based on the same alleged copyright crimes that, when scrutinized, turn out to be figments of the Governmentâs boundless imagination. In fact, the crimes for which the Government seeks to punish the Megaupload defendants (now within the civil as well as the criminal realm) do not exist. Although there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement, that is the crime on which the Governmentâs Superseding Indictment and instant Complaint are predicated. That is the nonexistent crime for which Megaupload was destroyed and all of its innocent users were denied their rightful property. That is the nonexistent crime for which individual defendants were arrested, in their homes and at gunpoint, back in January 2012. And that is the nonexistent crime for which the Government would now strip the criminal defendants, and their families, of all their assets.â
Stuart Heritage thinks The Apprentice UK has run its course, and writes in The Guardian: âThe Apprentice has had its day. Itâs running on fumes. Itâs time to replace it with something more exciting, such as a 40-part retrospective on the history of the milk carton, or a static shot of someone trying to dislodge some food from between their teeth with the corner of an envelope.â
Doctor Who takes a selfie and photobombs himself.
Andrew Little becomes Labour leader, and is quoted in the Fairfax Press (who, according to one caption, says his motherâs name is Cecil): âIâm not going to resile from being passionate about working men and women being looked after, having a voice, and being able to go to work safe and earn well. Thatâs what I stand for.
âThe National party have continued to run what I think is a very 1970s prejudice about unions âŚ We have [in New Zealand] accepted a culture that if you are big, bold and brassy you will stand up for yourself. But [this] Government is even stripping away protections [from] those who are bold enough to do so.
âI think New Zealanders are ready for someone who will talk bluntly about those who are being left behind. Thatâs what Iâll be doing.â
Iâm not a Labour voter but I was impressed.
I advise my friend Keith Adams in Britain, who laments the driving standards there, that in order to have the road toll we have, theyâd need to kill another 2,000 per annum. âThe British driver is a well honed, precision pilot compared to oneâs Kiwi counterpart.â
Julian Assange on Google, and confirmation that the company has handed over personal data to the US Government. He calls Eric Schmidt âGoogleâs secretary of state, a Henry Kissinger-like figure whose job it is to go out and meet with foreign leaders and their opponents and position Google in the world.â
The Sydney siege and the tragic deaths of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
The killing of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The NYPD doesnât look very white to me, but a murderer used the death of Eric Garner as an excuse to murder a Dad and a newlywed.
My second post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1993âs 1994 Baker Street.
Craig Ferguson hosts his last Late Late Show. And moreâs the pity: heâs one of the old school, never bitter, and never jumped on the bandwagon attacking celebrities.
I chose my professions because I would be absolutely useless creating TV shows. Here are my top 10 ideas, none of which would likely fly on telly. Downtown Abby. Eight Is Enough sequel. Abby and Tom Bradford move to a swanky San Francisco apartment, now that the kids have left home. But good help is hard to find these days. Dick van Patten and Betty Buckley reprise their roles. The Fresh Prince of Bel Fast. Set during the Troubles, about an Irish lad growing up in Bogside, a predominantly Catholic part of Derry City, being touted by gang elements. After getting into trouble playing football outside his school, his mother decides to send him to his uncle and aunt in a wealthy Protestant enclave in north Belfast. Samantha Who. Doctor Who spin-off, carrying on the adventures of the Doctorâs daughter who was extrapolated from his DNA in âThe Doctorâs Daughterâ. Since the Doctor has left, she has adopted a new name, and is trying to discover more about her fatherâs past. The Apprentice: Death Row Edition. They’ve tried the celebrity version; now it’s the turn of people who have been forgotten by society. The winner gets out of jail. The loser each week, unfortunately, has to hear the words, ‘You’re fried!’ Life on Veronica Mars. Kristen Thomas wakes up 35 years ago after being struck by a Chrysler Le Baron. Is she mad, in a coma, or back in time? The Postman Pat. Pat drives his Royal Mail van in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Colombo. In the tradition of the foreign-set Van der Valk, Zen and Wallander, the BBC sets its new cop drama in Sri Lanka, with a glass-eyed, raincoat-wearing detective with a penchant for kottu. OâJack. Similar idea to the above, but set in Northern Ireland, about a bald RUC detective who is partial to OatďŹeldâs toffee, solving crimes on both sides of the divide. American Horror Story. A reality show with cameras following the 2014 mid-term Senate elections. Game of Thrones. Yet another home makeover show, but focusing only on the water closet. Participants have to deal with plumbing, toilets, tiles and interior design. Minor appeal perhaps, but youâd never think those other ones would do so well, would you?
I jest, but I really would watch some of these (except for The Apprentice: Death Row Edition, which is just sick) over some of the crap on television today.
Has John Cleese become embittered? He suggests that the Bond films after Die Another Day (his second and final) were humourless because the producers wanted to pursue Asian audiences. Humour, he says, was out.
âAlso the big money was coming from Asia, from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, where the audiences go to watch the action sequences, and that’s why in my opinion the action sequences go on for too long, and it’s a fundamental flaw.â And, âThe audiences in Asia are not going for the subtle British humour or the class jokes.â
I say bollocks.
Itâs well known that with Casino Royale, the producers went back to Fleming, and rebooted the series. Quite rightly, too, when the films had drifted into science fiction, with an invisible car and, Lee Tamahoriâs nadir, a CGI sequence where Pierce Brosnan kite-surfed a tsunami.
As to Asiaâalways a curious word, since we are talking 3Âˇ7 milliard people who cannot be generalizedâdoes no one remember the groundswell of interest around the filming of You Only Live Twice? Bond was big in Asia long before 2006.
If Cleese specifically means China, all the Bonds were well received in Chinese-populated places before the Bamboo Curtain came down: Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, etc. So itâs a cinch that mainland Chinese would like it, too. And they have embraced Bond and its Britishness.
Or, as most Britons, he meant south Asia. I’ve only been to India, but thereâs such a lasting legacy of the colonial days that many in the region get British humour. Again, too, Octopussyâs Indian location filming saw a huge love for all things Bond.
The structure of Chinese humour is very similar to that of British humour, though you would have to be bilingual to appreciate this. But even monolinguists should be able to pick up the timing and pacing of Chinese humour to know that British humour would be appreciated.
They may not be marketed as such in the occident, but a lot of the Jackie Chan films are comedies. Police Story is littered, in the original dialogue, with comedic lines.
Class humour? Again present in a lot of Asia.
So heâs well off in his estimation. If anything, itâs the casting of Americans to appease that market that seems dreadfully forced (Halle Berry, Denise Richards, Teri Hatcher).
Hands up all those who would have preferred to see Monica Bellucci as Paris Carver instead of Teri. And now we have some in the media, no doubt having forgotten the humorous moments in the three Daniel Craig-era Bonds, writing to agree with, or to appease, Cleese.
After all, who knows more about humour than one of the Monty Python creators? We must agree if we are to show that we, too, understand humour.
Maybe others donât have that same British sensibility or enjoy the subtlety. Skyfallâs quips were more evident than in the earlier Craig outings, though they were still fun lines, âA gun and a radio, not exactly Christmasâ; âHealth and safety, carry on.â Not quite Roger Moore then.
Nevertheless, in the Craig era, M gets frustrated that Bond kills all the leads in Quantum of Solace; Bond takes a hotel patronâs Range Rover Sport in the Bahamas, crashes it against a fence, and is recognized later in the bar by the owner in Casino Royale. Good humour is so often between the lines, things where you have to process them briefly, or communicated sometimes through an expression.
British humour need not always be Benny Hill or Carry on.
Humour, particularly in the southern parts of China, tends to give the reaction of: did I just get complimented or insulted?
Yet few seemed to mind that the humour in most of Brosnanâs era to be very Americanized, with the exception of Goldeneye. And the stories themselves, where Bond became a caricature, and, frankly, a waste of a decent leading man, were two-dimensional: Brosnan with two machine guns in the finalĂŠ of Tomorrow Never Dies! Just like in a John Woo film! And we are to believe that was more âBritishâ, in an interminable action sequence? If it werenât for Jonathan Pryce and Toby Stephens camping up their roles, those outings would be far less Bondian.
Once again, it demonstrates the short memories of the cinemagoing publicâor, for that matter, that of a very remarkable and talented actor and writer.
And having hit their stride now, the Bond producers are laughing all the way to the bank.
Forty-nine hours and counting, which makes it the beginning of day three without Facebook.
I didn’t really need it yesterday, so there’s something to be said about habits breaking after a couple of days. However, for work, I have needed to go on there: while Sopheak is covering for me as far as Lucireâs social media are concerned, I’m checking the finalists’ pages for Miss Universe New Zealand today. The problem now: many are coming up blank. Also it’s now impossible for someone to add me as an admin to their page (Facebook tells them I’m not a member and that it needs my email address).
Facebook has been resolutely silent despite Tweets to them, which makes them worse than Google. At least Google has a support site where people lie to you, after which they go silent when they realize you have them over a barrel. At Facebook, you know you are getting ignored, and there’s no real way to file a bug report (if one of the bugs is you can’t post, then how can you post?).
This bug appears to be spreading, if Twitter chatter is anything to go by, although things haven’t changed much at the unofficial forum at Get Satisfaction. However, I did find two posters at Get Satisfaction who have been out for six to eleven days.
One Tweet of mine, strangely, did make it through as a cross-post; I wasn’t kidding when I said that being able to post is now the exception rather than the rule. (This, again, reminds me of the dying days of Vox.) But no one can like or comment on that post. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you can give it a go here. At least those who visit my wall and can see it (not everyone can) know something is up with Facebook, and that the site is, once again, broken.
On one of my visits today, this quiz intrigued me. It’s from MIT, and it ‘examines people’s knowledge of English grammar. We are interested in how this is affected by demographic variables such as where you live, your age, and the age at which you began learning English.’
After completing the quiz, it made the following guesses about my English and what my first language is.
It does appear my dialect is African American Vernacular English, and my first language is English. The second choice of dialect, ‘New Zealandish’, is an odd one: does this mean Australian? Or a bad impersonation of Kiwi (Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game or, worse, Steve Guttenberg in Don’t Tell Her It’s Me)? There’s a possibility my mother tongue is Dutch or Hungarian.
One out of six isn’t good, but I suppose I should be happy that we even come up in the survey, and that there are sufficient quirks to New Zealand English for it to be identified by an algorithm.
One is allowed to feed in the correct details, so hopefully the algorithm improves and other Kiwis won’t have such way-out results.
Or, it means that if our government wants someone to visit the White House, I am the ideal interpreter.