20 December 2007

Best and Worst of 2007 - a personal view

It's the end of the year and everywhere you look everyone is doing lists. Best this, worst that: how could I call myself a serious compiler of lists if I didn't do my own. SO here's a list of random stuff I enjoyed (or detested) in the year of our Lord 2007. These are only from the things I can remember, a year is such a long time! Feel free to comment if you disagree.

Best film: Once
Best TV, drama: Skins
Best TV, comedy/quiz: QI

Best Album: Favourite Worse Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
Best Single: Golden Skans - Klaxons
Best Single (cover version): Newton Faulker - Teardrop
Best Rock Single: The Pretender - Foo Fighters/Invincible - Muse
Best Dance Single: NYC Beats - Armand Van Helden
Best single (pop): Shine – Take That
Best Live Act; the Police
Worst live act: Maximo Park/Bloc Party
Best live comedy: Lee Mack

Worst single: T2 - Heartbroken/Rhianna - Umbrella/anything by Mika
Best comeback: The Police/Take That (was that 2006?)/Wispa bars
Worst comeback: Spice Girls

Book: Straw Men trilogy by Michael Marshall/Triptych - Karin Slaughter

Best advert: Shreddies!

Memorable news event - Madeline McCann disappearance/Blair goes, Brown in

Sporting achievement Manchester United winning the Premier League/Lewis Hamilton's first season in F1
Biggest dissapointment: Glastonbury Festival weather/England football team not qualifying for Europe
Most memorable event: going to court/seeing Tutankamun's mask

Best night: cocktails and wii night in!/update: New Year's Eve!
Didnt think I'd do: go inside a pyramid
Ouch: burning arm with pan of boiling water a week before holiday in Egypt
Holidays: Egypt/Glastonbury Festival/Spain

Best game (Wii): Tony Hawk's Downhill Challenge
Best game, (PS2): Lego Star Wars
Best game (PC) Bioshock
Worst game: Marvel Superheroes (Wii)

Britain's oldest serving monarch

Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest serving monarch of the UK at today, beating her great great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Here is a list of facts to mark the occasion:

  • Victoria was born on May 24, 1819 and lived for 81 years and 243 days.
  • The Queen will have to wait until 9 September 2015 to beat Victoria's as the longest-reigning British monarch, 64 years.
  • The current Queen has been "active" longer, as Victoria went into a decade of retreat from public life after the death of her husband Albert.
  • Elizabeth II took the throne in 1952. She is one of only five kings or queens since the 1066 Norman Conquest to reign for more than half a century.
  • Prince Charles is closing in on the longest heir-in-waiting. Victoria's son became King Edward VII in 1901, aged just over 59 years and two months. Prince Charles turned 59 on November 14.
  • Buckingham Palace have always hinted that The Queen has no intention of abdicating to make way for Charles. Her mother lived until the age of 101 so he mighty have a while to wait!
  • The Queen's full title is: 'Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom's Head of State. She is Queen of 16 former British colonies and the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Greneda, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
  • During her reign, The Queen has undertaken over 256 official overseas visits to 129 different countries.
  • The Queen's made her first Christmas address to the nation in her coronation year and this year will mark the 50th year it has been televised.

18 December 2007

Christmas is coming...

...and the Fat Cats are getting, er, fatter. Despite figures being down and the cut price sales starting already, millions will still be spent. In these consumerist times here are a few Christmas spending facts:

  • According to the debit card company, Switch, each person in the UK will spend an average of £862, up 20% on 2001 (£710)
  • Christmas tree sales will total an estimated £245 million which is nearly 7million Christmas tree.
  • This year on December 1st, three of London's main streets were closed to traffic and Christmas shopppers spent more than £100 million.
  • The main targets for shoplifters are cosmetic, womenswear, perfume and alcohol. They will steal approximately £431 million worth of goods over the Christmas period. £1 million
  • On the Friday before Christmas last year, shopper withdrew £q million a minute from the nations cash machines.
  • Online sales last year reached £7.66 billion in online sales on the run up to Christmas.
  • 10% of men spend over £1000 on gifts but only 2% of women do.
  • On average, parents spend £200 per child
  • Last week, three studies assessing the Government's poverty strategy concluded half a million children have been lifted out of poverty, but 3.9m remain there.
  • In 2006, a family of four on benefits could, on average, only manage to spend on average of £121 over the whole of Christmas.

13 December 2007

NME's Top 50 Albums of the Year

The once ubiquitous bible of independent music, the NME has published it's top 50 albums of the year (I shall add their tracks of the year at another point). It's another prize for Klaxons after winning this years Mercury Music Prize. I've put comments when I know enough about the band. I've heard of most of them but couldn't place all of them to the tracks I've heard so I'll not comment. Feel free to add a comment yourself on this list or any omissions.

  1. *Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future - fantastic band, great singles and amazing live
  2. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare - brilliant album, never thought they'd follow up their debut but they did with this amazing set of tunes and fantastic lyrics
  3. *Radiohead - In Rainbow - still haven't managed to download this but I love the first single
  4. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - saw them at Glastonbury, amazed and disappointed in equal amounts
  5. Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends
  6. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times - love the singles and brilliant live band (I saw a few years ago)
  7. MIA - Kala
  8. Biffy Clyro - Puzzle - great singles, might have to look in getting this one
  9. The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever - great standout title single
  10. Battles - Mirrored
  11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
  12. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
  13. PJ Harvey - White Chalk
  14. Babyshambles - Shotters Nation - biggest surprise at Glastonbury that Pete turned up and they were actually quite good
  15. The White Stripe - Icky Thump - stunning return to form
  16. The Coral - Roots and Echos
  17. Future of the Left - Curses
  18. The Good, The Bad and the Queen - The Good, The Bad and the Queen - great singles, must get a copy. Damon Album has become one of this country's most interesting artists.
  19. Richard Hawley - Lady's Bridge
  20. Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City - I don't "get" Blo Party, truly atrocious at Glasto
  21. *The Enemy - We'll Live and Die in These Towns - one of the albums on my Christmas list
  22. Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil
  23. Maps - We Can Create
  24. The Maccabees - Colour It In - only know the track used on some advert and it's quite lovely
  25. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
  26. Kate Nash - Made of Bricks - simply annoying and I can only listen to her songs once before they get on my nerves
  27. The Horrors - Strange House
  28. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
  29. Lethal Bizzle - Back to Bizznizz - not my cup of tea, celebrating lawlessness is just wrong imho
  30. Queens of the Stoneage - Era Vulgaris - loved their earlier stuff, Sick Sick Sick was horrendous and Josh Homme is a complete knob!
  31. The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me - catchy singles, look good live but ultimately quite a standard "indie" band
  32. Grinderman - Grinderman
  33. Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decau Sustain
  34. New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom
  35. Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus
  36. Holy Fuck - Holy Fuck
  37. Jamie T - Panic Prevention - better than The Streets
  38. Justice - †
  39. Jeffrey Lewis - 12 Crass Songs
  40. El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
  41. Menomena - Friend and Foe
  42. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
  43. *Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace - if I don't get this for Christmas I'm off to HMV to buy it
  44. Gruff Rhys - Candylion
  45. !!! - Myth Takes
  46. Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob - great follow up album and possibly the best, most fun act of Glastonbury this year. Deceptively simple lyrics and a real post punk pop feel.
  47. Enter Shakari - Take to the Skies
  48. The View - Hats of to the Busker - so talented at such an early age! Love this album.
  49. Interpol - Our Love to Admire
  50. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

* I haven't actually bought anything for ages, what with my birthday not long gone and Christmas coming up I daren't buy anything in case someone gets me something. The two marked albums are the ones I the ones I shall be getting my hands on next, whether for Christmas or buying them myself.

11 December 2007

The Forbes Fictional 15 - Rich List

The posh American magazine, Forbes, known for it's list of billionaires, also does a rich list for fictional characters. Estimating their wealth as it would be in today's society, this year's list includes cartoon characters, comic book heroes and even a wizard. Even make-believe people earn more than I will in a lifetime. But not all of them are happy.

"Daddy" Warbucks - nothing to do with coffee

  1. Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks - Net Worth: $36.2 billion Source: Defense Industries
  2. C. Montgomery Burns - $16.8 billion - Energy
  3. Scrooge McDuck - $10.9 billion - Mining, Treasure Hunting
  4. Richie Rich - $10.7 billion - Inheritance, Conglomerates
  5. Jed Clampett - $7.7 billion - Oil & Gas, Banking
  6. Mr Monopoly - $7.1 billion - Real Estate
  7. Bruce Wayne - $6.8 billion - Inheritance, Defense
  8. Tony Stark - $3.0 billion - Defense
  9. Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria - $2.8 billion - Telecommunications
  10. Thurston Howell III - $2.7 billion - Howell Industries
  11. Willy Wonka - $2 billion - Candy, Aerospace
  12. Lucius Malfoy - $1.3 billion - Inheritance-
  13. Tony Montana - $1 billion - Cocaine
  14. Lara Croft - $1 billion - Inheritance, Antiques
  15. Mario - $1 billion - Inheritance, Antiques

08 December 2007

Empire Online's 100 Sexiest Movie Stars

The results are in for Empire magazine's online poll to find the 100 Sexiest Movies Stars of all time. No surprises that Angelina won, but the top male, new Bond Daniel Craig, has overtaken Johnny Depp (I'm not sure who my sister would prefer but she would certainly approve!).

I approve, myself, of many in the 100, Natalie, Keira, Audrey and Isla for example. I guess Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia are primarily pop stars (though they have appeared in films) but where are the lovely Milla Jovovich and Ziyi Zhang, amongst others.

  1. Angelina Jolie
  2. Natalie Portman
  3. Daniel Craig
  4. Jessica Alba
  5. Johnny Depp
  6. Eva Green
  7. Brad Pitt
  8. Scarlett Johansson
  9. Keira Knightley
  10. Gerard Butler
  11. George Clooney
  12. Halle Berry
  13. Christian Bale
  14. Marilyn Monroe
  15. Hugh Jackman
  16. Jessica Biel
  17. Matt Damon
  18. Anne Hathaway
  19. Paul Newman
  20. Kate Winslet
  21. Orlando Bloom
  22. Kate Beckinsale
  23. Daniel Radcliffe
  24. Salma Hayek
  25. Clive Owen
  26. Emma Watson
  27. James McAvoy
  28. Keanu Reeves
  29. Charlize Theron
  30. Marlon Brando
  31. Cate Blanchett
  32. Jake Gyllenhaal
  33. Michelle Pfeiffer
  34. Russell Crowe
  35. Monica Belluccci
  36. Leonardo DiCaprio
  37. Rachel Weisz
  38. Denzel Washington
  39. Grace Kelly
  40. Ewan McGregor
  41. Nicole Kidman
  42. Steve McQueen
  43. Rosario Dawson
  44. Bruce Willis
  45. Catherine Zeta-Jones
  46. Harrison Ford
  47. Cameron Diaz
  48. Cary Grant
  49. Sean Connery
  50. Penelope Cruz
  51. Clark Gable
  52. Jennifer Aniston
  53. Robert Redford
  54. Jennifer Connelly
  55. Jason Statham
  56. Megan Fox
  57. Julia Roberts
  58. Will Smith
  59. Rita Hayworth
  60. Liv Tyler
  61. Eric Bana
  62. Audrey Tautou
  63. Reese Witherspoon
  64. Eva Mendes
  65. Gael Garcia Bernal
  66. Sandra Bullock
  67. Ryan Reynolds
  68. Rachel McAdams
  69. Viggo Mortensen
  70. John Cusack
  71. Lauren Bacall
  72. Gary Oldman
  73. Javier Bardem
  74. Sigourney Weaver
  75. Ryan Gosling
  76. Uma Thurman
  77. Richard Gere
  78. Sofia Loren
  79. Heath Ledger
  80. Sarah Michelle Gellar
  81. Tom Cruise
  82. Susan Sarandon
  83. Alan Rickman
  84. Katherine Heigl
  85. Al Pacino
  86. Jane Fonda
  87. Warren Beatty
  88. Sienna Miller
  89. Clint Eastwood
  90. Elizabeth Taylor
  91. Jamie Foxx
  92. Catherine Deneuve
  93. Zac Efron
  94. Isla Fisher
  95. James Dean
  96. Lucy Liu
  97. Thandie Newton
  98. Brigitte Bardot
  99. Chris Evans
  100. Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Who do you think is missing from this list? Leave a comment.

06 December 2007

British Comedy Awards 2007

Gavin and Stacey, the cult BBC3 comedy, scooped three awards at last nights British Comedy Awards. It was over= shadowed by the fact that for the first time ITV didn't screen the ceremony live, due to rows that last year's event staged a viewer phone-in scandal. The audience was still asked to vote (on a premium rate phone line) even after the count was in and the winner decided.

This seems to have been a trend on British tv and radio. The BBC has suspended all competitions. Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, which was criticised for irregularities in their phon ins, won a couple of awards, though presenters Ant and Dec were again absent on the night.

  • Television comedy actor - David Mitchell, Peep Show
  • Television comedy actress - Liz Smith, The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba
  • Comedy entertainment personality - Simon Amstell, Never Mind the Buzzcocks
  • Male comedy newcomer - James Corden, Gavin and Stacey
  • Female comedy newcomer - Ruth Jones, Gavin and Stacey
  • New British television comedy (scripted) - Gavin and Stacey
  • Television comedy - Peep Show
  • New comedy entertainment programme - Al Murray's Happy Hour
  • Live stand-up - Alan Carr
  • Comedy film - The Simpsons Movie
  • The Writers' Guild Ronnie Barker Award - Simon Pegg
  • British comedy lifetime achievement award - Stephen Fry

05 December 2007

Wurld edukation

The UK has slipped down the rankings of global secondary school education. The international study is produced by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development produce a study every three years (although the UK participated last in 2000) and a performance table is drawn up from the results of tests taken by 15-year-olds. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assess their ability to apply their knowledge in "real world" situations. PISAs are taken by 400,000 students in 57 countries.

The United Kingdom is the only country which was in the top-performing group in 2000 to have dropped down into the lower group. In 2000 they were in eighth position in maths and seventh in reading and in the recently published 2006 table occupy 24th for maths and 17th for literacy.

The UK has slipped out of the top ten in both maths and reading, and sciences are suffering. To be honest it doesn't surprise me but does make me annoyed, with Labour's election promises based on "Education, education and education". The tests over the years have shown that knowledge is a kind of currency. They point to the economic success of South Korea (and the Far East) who only a few decades ago was close to the bottom of the table and had an economy to match. With great governmental input and funding in education in the past they are now reaping the benefits. Why can't our government see that spending and good management now will make a world of difference and pay back in the future.

PISA Reading Top Ten

  1. South Korea
  2. Finland
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Canada
  5. New Zealand
  6. Ireland
  7. Australia
  8. Liechtenstein
  9. Poland
  10. Sweden


  1. Taiwan
  2. Finland
  3. Hong Kong
  4. S.Korea
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Canada
  8. Macao-China
  9. Liechtenstein
  10. Japan


  1. Finland
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Canada
  4. Taiwan
  5. Estonia
  6. Japan
  7. New Zealand
  8. Australia
  9. Netherlands
  10. Liechtenstein

I know my grammar is terrible but thank God for the spell checker!

04 December 2007

The Turner Prize 2007

This year's Turner Prize for contemporary British art was announced last night and was won by Mark Wallinger for his work State Britain, a meticulous re-creation of anti-war protester, Brian Haw's Parliament Square protest. Haw has been on the green opposite the seat of the British Government since 2001 but due to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (forbidding unauthorised demonstrations within a kilometre of Parliament Square) it has been largely dismantled.

Ironically, Wallinger's reconstruction, when displayed at Tate Britain on the South Bank, was with-in the kilometre exclusion zone. But they escaped the wrath of the authorities due to it's status as a work of art. Wallinger is most famous for his video installation of himself disguised in a bear suit looking around an art gallery and his controversial Ecce Homo, a statue of a bald Jesus Christ, which stood on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square in 1999.

The Turner Prize has always been controversial so here is a list of facts about this country's most prestigious art award.

  • The Turner Prize is awarded for the best exhibition by a British or Britain-based artist in the 12 months before the nominations are made in May. Each of the shortlisted artists receives £5,000.State Britain cost Wallinger £90,000 to create and the commission paid £3000 for it.
  • The Turner Prize winner wins £25,000, which will go some way into recouping the costs
  • It took 14 people six months to make State of Britain. most of the time was spent sourcing the materials and suitable aging them to reflect the days the original items spent outside.
  • London born Wallinger, studied at Chelsea School of Art and at Goldsmiths and is quoted as saying "I think art needs to engage the viewer and has to have a hook that isn't entirely cerebral." and "I like Velázquez, Manet, Warhol; realists that held up a mirror to their society that was radical, but not pedantic."
  • Wallinger was also nominated for the contest in twelve years ago, as was fellow nominee Mike Nelson. the other losers thins year were sculptor Nathan Coley and photographer and film-maker Zarina Bhimji.
  • Previous winners include Howard Hodgkins (first winner in 1985), Gilbert and George (1986), Richard Long (1989), Gillian Wearing (1997, with 60 minutes of Silence, a video of silent actors standing still for an hour, dressed in police uniforms), Chris Ofili (1989, with his elephant dung adorned paintings), Simon Starling (2005, who converted the materials from a garden shed into a boat, sailed it down the River Rhine, before reconstructing the shed), Tomma Abts (2006).
  • The 1999 winner was not Tracey Emin, with her famous and controversial unmade bed and tent with the names of all the men she'd ever slept with sewn inside, but video artist Steve McQueen. Emin just got more column inches along the lines of "...but is it art?"
  • Damian Hirst has also never won the prize, despite nominations in 1992 and 1995.
  • "But is it art" was also asked of 2001 winner Martin Creed's work, an empty room with the lights going on and off.
  • The Guardian newspaper expanded on the phrase in 2002, commenting on Fiona Banner's wall size text exhibit, Arsewoman in Wonderland, described a pornographic film in detail,"It's art. But is it porn?"
  • Sexual imagery seem to excite the judges. The Champman Brother's entry in 2003 appeared to be two cheap plastic blow up dolls with dildos. They were in fact bronze sculptures painted to look like plastic.
  • This year, for the first time, the Turner Prize was held in Tate Liverpool, not in London, to support the city being European Capital of Culture 2008.

03 December 2007


It seems there is a phobia for everything. No just disliking, or being scared for a reason. A phobia is an irrational fear which leads to actions to avoid the source in anyway possible. The following list is of phobias that seem quite strange. They might seem funny but for the people who experience them it must be truly odd. Please don't laugh, please! If they have a medical name, at least one person must have been diagnosed with them! Some must make life impossible: Dendrophobia (fear of trees) or Agyrophobia (fear of streets or crossing the street).

Luckily I don't have an irrational fear of anything. All my fears are rational, like pain (I come up in bruises).

  • Amathophobia - Fear of dust (or Koniophobia).
  • Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks.
  • Automatonophobia - Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsely represents a sentient being.
  • Coulrophobia - Fear of clowns.
  • Lachanophobia - Fear of vegetables.
  • Levophobia - Fear of things to the left side of the body
  • Lutraphobia - Fear of otters.
  • Geniophobia - Fear of chins.
  • Genuphobia - Fear of knees.
  • Helminthophobia - Fear of being infested with worms.
  • Ithyphallophobia - Fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis.
  • Nephophobia - Fear of clouds.
  • Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8.
  • Papaphobia - Fear of the Pope
  • Peladophobia - Fear of bald people
  • Pentheraphobia - Fear of mother-in-law. (also Novercaphobia)
  • Phonophobia - Fear of one's own voice.
  • Politicophobia - Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.
  • Sesquipedalophobia - Fear of long words (they could have called it something shorter!)
  • Zemmiphobia - Fear of the great mole rat (not any rat, just that one!).

By the way, the title of this thread, Panophobia, is the fear of everything.

01 December 2007

Empire Top Films of 2007

Well it's started. The end of year lists by all the magazines and newspapers, their "best of 2007" opinions, might provide a handy body of lists for this blog! Empire magazine is first off the mark with their favourite films, as voted for by their staff. Empire is my favourite film magazine so it's the one I take most notice of. It also shows how little I've been to the cinema. The movies that I did manage to catch are in uppercase, with my star rating.

I have to metion the cover of this months Empire though. It's a fantastic image of Heath Ledger as The Joker in the new Batman film, The Dark Knight. Looks bloody fantastic, a really clever re-imagining of the Clown Prince of Crime. I'll have to make a list of movies I'm looking forward to in the next year, The Dark Knight being one of them.

Image from Ain't It Cool News

Let me know what you think the best film of the year was, add a comment. Mine is undoubtedly Once, you can read my review here.

Anyway, on with Empire's Top Films of 2007

25. Venus
24. A Prairie Home Companion
23. 2 Days in Paris
22. Michael Clayton
21. Sunshine
20. Bable
19. Waitress
18. ONCE *****
17. The Fountain
16. Lions for Lambs
15. This is England
14. Notes on a Scandal
13. Inland Empire
12. Control
11. Letters from Iwo Jima
10. Half Nelson
9. Knocked Up
8. HOT FUZZ ****
7. Superbad
6. Zodiac
5. The Assassination of Jesse James...
4. Ratatouille *****
3. Atonement
2. The Lives of Others
1. The Bourne Ultimatum