June, 2005

Le Tour

Rather than depressing myself terribly with all this ID Card stuff, I thought I’d brighten up and remind anyone still reading that The Tour De France starts on Saturday.
It’s Lance Armstrong’s last tour and he wants to finish with a seventh win in a row. As usual ITV (well ITV2), are covering it as are Eurosport.
It looks like if you live in France you can subscribe to a live feed of the race on your PC. Last year I was able to listen to live commentary via the Outdoor Life Network, but it’s not clear whether or not that’ll be available this year.

Brian Wilson

I was very lucky last night to get a chance to go and see Brian Wilson play a concert in the rather lovely surroundings of Hampton Court.
What a fantastic night. The weather was obviously excellent, and it was a shame that we didn’t bring a picnic like just about everyone else.
The concert itself began at 9pm and was basically back to back Beach Boys hits. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had singing along to just about every song for two hours.
The audience was, erm, slightly different to your usual crowd, and the Waitrose sponsorship of the event meant that it was all very different to what you’re used to. It reminded me of picnics in the park in Bath at the end of the Bath Festival. And the clientele there meant that the train journey was especially empty on the way back.
All in all a wonderful concert and I’ll being humming Beach Boys hits for some time to come.

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye


When I saw the film I mentioned that I hadn’t read any of the comics, so recently I picked up this first volume.
Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez used this and a couple of other stories as the basis of the film and it’s quite remarkable how closely they kept to the comic. Indeed I don’t think that there’s a single thing that’s changed and they did use the comic strip as a movie storyboard.
Excellent stuff, and plenty more to read!

Kingdom Of Heaven

Just a brief entry to mention that some weeks ago, I did actually see this film. And guess what, it’s not as bad as some will have you believe.
It’s not Gladiator, and Orlando Bloom isn’t Russell Crowe, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, I’m a big Ridley Scott fan, but don’t think that I’m some kind of apologist.
The picture of the Saracens painted was very relevant and not especially revisionist.

New York Times in the UK

For years, it was always really difficult to get hold of proper US newspapers in Britain. Certainly you could get the International Herald Tribune, and also USA Today. But not The New York Times. Tower Records used to carry quite a few papers but they weren’t cheap and were limited to the Sunday editions. WH Smith in Sloane Square sometimes had a copy of the Times, and there’s a great shop on Old Compton Street that carries one of the broadest arrays of international newspapers you’ve ever seen.
But in general terms, The New York Times was a difficult paper to get a hold of.
Now of course, we can read the paper on the web but that’s not really the same thing.
Anyway, all of this preamble is a way for mentioning that The New York Times is now being printed in the UK, and you can get issues of it on the same day. I spotted our local newsagent at work carrying copies the other day (well a copy anyway). But the price is a bit steep – £3.50. And Sunday’s is available on Monday for £7.50!
Nice to know, but I think I’ll be sticking with the online version for a while. And of course Thursday’s Telegraph still carries some excerpts from it too.

Live Aid Documentary

On Saturday night BBC2 broadcast a documentary double bill of two 1.5 hour programmes about Live Aid. The first programme looked at the run up to the day, and the second covered the day itself.
A few observations from the programmes. Like the C4 documentary of the new Airbus 380 earlier that evening, these programmes were obviously made to be aired a week apart or so with information repeated from one show to the next. (In the case of the Airbus doc, it was obviously a two-parter thrown away by C4 in one go – they have a habit of this).
The programmes were made by the highly respected Brook Lapping. But Brook Lapping is now a division of Ten Alps, which is Bob Geldof’s own production company. In many respects the programme felt very fair with Annabel Giles offering plenty of anti-Bob fare about Midge Ure being sidelined at Live Aid, and Andy Kershaw’s views about the lack of Africans being aired. It’s just that it feels a little uncomfortable using your own company to make an objective documentary about something you yourself did.
There were a few places in the script that things jarred a bit. They described television technology as being in the “stone age” in 1985 in regards to satellite technology, yet this obviously wasn’t the case. This may have been a remarkably sophisticated project technically, yet the Olympic Games isn’t simple, and neither are other sporting events or even things like the Eurovision Song Contest.
And every time they talked about either 1.5bn or 2bn people watching, this was obviously complete nonsense. The main acts in the UK were aimed at UK audiences largely (however widespread British music is around the world), whilst in America, the only full live coverage was on MTV, with ABC only showing a few hours.
It was also a shame that the programme ended at the conclusion of the British leg of the concert. As we viewers knew, the coverage then continued in the US, although my memory of watching is that I didn’t stay up all that late watching it as the bands weren’t really to my liking.
Overall, pretty good fare, but it could have been slightly better.

Soaked Tom Cruise

So if you were UIP, what “sanctions” would you be placing on Channel 4 right now after soaking Tom Cruise at a premiere last night?
How about pulling advertising for a start, and then withdrawing access to stars for their programming? That might hurt a bit.
I’m sure that whatever this new programme is, it’s enormously witty, but as a broadcaster, Channel 4 are going to have to be careful of having their name and reputation ruined by one production company working on their behalf. I was always surprised years ago that the BBC let “Dennis Pennis” use their name on microphones when he was chasing stars for him to verbally abuse. I suspect that it will have been one of the reasons that the show didn’t last too long.
Of course squirting someone with water is funny. But you probably wouldn’t see the funny side if you were going into a business presentation, or were being married. And where do we go from there? Eggs? Paint?
If you don’t prosecute, then you’re effectively encouraging this kind of behaviour in the future, with the stakes being raised each time.

F1 Fiasco

Well the most ridiculous F1 “race” ever is under way. Between them, the organisers and FIA have managed to con 120,000 paying spectators and millions of TV viewers out of a proper race.
Instead just six cars are “racing” around with some of the teams competing seemingly more interested in picking up points rather than serving the spectators, viewers and sponsors.
Obviously none of these people have seen how US sports crowds take this kind of thing, with cases in the past of spectators throwing drinks onto the circuit in disgust.
I’ve thought for years that F1 was a sham, and this just goes to show that it is. The US has plenty of other motorsports as do other parts of the world. They don’t need F1. F1 could be on its last legs.

Live 8

No ticket for me, but then it’ll be better on the TV anyway.
Andy Kershaw, writing in today’s Independent, is very angry. When Bob Geldof first announced the line-up for the Live 8 concerts, African artists were notable by their absence. And this whole thing is about Africa after all.
But a week or so down the road it turns out that we do get some African performances. At the Eden Project in Cornwall. Kershaw sees this as almost a form of apartheid, where the popular Western artists get to play Hyde Park while African’s are shunted down to the West Country.
And I agree. It’s ludicrous to think that people who’ve shown up to see Coldplay and U2, will get fed up or turn off if Youssou N’Dour or Salif Keita play. They’re international superstars after all.