28 April 2008

PFA Player of the Year ***UPDATED***

Portuguese Manchester United winger, Christiano Ronaldo has retained the title of PFA Footballer of the Year, as voted for by footballers themselves. It hasn't been a great week for Ronaldo, having missed a penalty in the first leg of the Chap ions League Semi Final in Barcelona and losing to Chelsea in the Premier League That loss means Chelsea are only second place to United due to goal difference, with two games to go. That goal difference is partly down to the number of goals Ronaldo has scored, over taking George Best's number of goals for a winger in a United shirt, having put away 38 goals in all competitions this season (plus four for Portugal). He's been sensational but needs to show that he can handle the big games over the next couple of weeks. Well done.

Strangely he lost out in the Young Player of the Year category (which, at 23, he was eligible) to Cese Fabragas of Arsenal, who has had an amazing season too. Ronaldo becomes only the second person to win it two years running.

This is a list of the previous players awarded player of the year by the Professional Footballers' Association:

2008 Cristiano Ronaldo
2007 Cristiano Ronaldo
2006 Steven Gerrard
2005 John Terry
2004 Thierry Henry
2003 Thierry Henry
2002 Ruud van Nistelrooy
2001 Teddy Sheringham MBE
2000 Roy Keane
1999 David Ginola
1998 Dennis Bergkamp
997 Alan Shearer OBE
1996 Les Ferdinand MBE
1995 Alan Shearer OBE
1994 Eric Cantona
1993 Paul McGrath
1992 Gary Pallister
1991 Mark Hughes
1990 David Platt
1989 Mark Hughes
1988 John Barnes
1987 Clive Allen
1986 Gary Lineker
1985 Peter Reid
1984 Ian Rush
1983 Kenny Dalglish
1982 Kevin Keegan
1981 John Wark
1980 Terry McDermott
1979 Liam Brady
1978 Peter Shilton OBE
1977 Andy Gray
1976 Pat Jennings OBE
1975 Colin Todd
1974 Norman Hunter

It's an interesting lust in that it shows how the influx of foreign (not from the "home countries" proliferate after the start of the Premiership, starting with Cantona in 94.
30 April: Manchester United beat Barcelona 1-0 to go through to the Champions League final. Chelsea are playing Liverpool as I type. It's still 0-0 but Chelsea have the advantage of the away goal from the previous leg (1-1). The final will be the first all English file in the competion's history.
***UPDATE 2***
Chelsea went on to win 3-2 after it was 1-1 and went to extra time.

27 April 2008

The Sunday Times Rich List 2008

The annual Sunday Times Rich List was publisged today and though there is a "credit crunch" and most people seem to be suffering the pinch, the richest people in Britain are just getting richer.

  1. Lakshmi Mittal and family - worth: £27,700m - Source of wealth: Steel

  2. Roman Abramovich - £11,700m - Oil

  3. The Duke of Westminster _ £7000m - Property

  4. Sri and Gopi Hinduja - £6,200m - Industry

  5. Alisher Usmanov - £5, 726m - Steel

  6. Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli - £5,650m - Pharmaceutical

  7. Hans Rausing and family - £5,400m - Packaging

  8. John Fredriksen - £4,650m - Shipping

  9. Sir Philip and Lady Green - $4,330m - Retailing

  10. David and Simon Reuben - £4,300m - Property

25 April 2008

"Let meee introduce you to my leettle frind" Happy Birthday Al Pacino

Today is the 68th birthday of actor Al Pacino. Born in 1940 in Manhattan he has made over 40 films and won an Oscar, 4 Golden Globes, Tonys, 2 BAFTA, an Emmy and SAG awards (and countless nominations) so it's not just me that thinks he is one of the greatest living actors.

He made his feature debut in the little noticed Me, Natalie (1969) after appearing a number of times on stage (in which he is still quite prolific) but it wasn't until playing a heroin addict in The Panic in Needle Park (1971) that people really started to take notice. What catapulted him to super stardom was his role in The Godfather movies.
Having studied at the same stage school as Robert De Niro under method acting coach Lee Strasberg he is often compared to this other greatest living actor (his list will be on August 17, if I remember!) and they finally appeared together on screen in Michael Mann's excellent Heat (they both appeared in The Godfather II but never shared a scene).

The following list is my favourite roles of Pacino, from films which I have seen (I really must try and catch Glengarry Glenross, Serpico and Insomnia, amongst others). Having Al Pacino in a movie usually makes it worth watching (though I'll probably be giving Gigli a miss).

  1. Don Michael Corleone - Godfather trilogy
  2. Sonny - Dog Day Afternoon
  3. Tony Montana - Scarface
  4. Vincent Hanna - Heat
  5. Benjamin 'Lefty' Ruggiero - Donnie Brasco
  6. Carlito 'Charlie' Brigante - Carlito's Way
  7. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade - Scent of a Woman
  8. John Milton - The Devil's Advocate
  9. Lowell Bergman - The Insider
  10. Bobby - The Panic at Needle Park
As well as those great parts he's also turned down a number of huge roles. Imagine him as Han Solo in Star Wars, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, Paul Sheldon in Misery, Ted Kramer in Kramer Vs. Kramer and Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman.

24 April 2008

FHM Sexiest Women in the World 2008

Men's glossy magazine FHM has published it's annual Sexiest Women in the World poll (as voted by readers) and there's a surprise (at least for me) winner, Transformers star Megan Fox.

FHM tends towards the glamour and vacant eye-candy type actress, so it's no surprise I don't know half the names! If you don't then you can click on their names and link to their images on the FHM site. Enjoy.

1. Megan Fox
2. Jessica Biel
3. Jessica Alba
4. Elisha Cuthbert
5. Scarlett Johansson
6. Emmanuelle Chriqui
7. Hilary Duff
8. Tricia Helfer
9. Blake Lively
10.Kate Beckinsale

11. Hayden Panettiere
12. Angelina Jolie
13. Eva Mendes
14. Rihanna
15. Erica Durance
16. Lindsay Lohan
17. Kim Kardashian
18. Cameron Diaz
18. Cameron Diaz
19. Ali Larter
20. Beyonce Knowles
21. Kaley Cuoco
22. Heidi Klum
23. Sienna Miller
24. Kristen Bell
25. Natalie Portman
26. Vanessa Hudgens
27. Selita Ebanks
28. Keira Knightly
29. Maria Sharapova
30. Rachel Bilson
31. Gisele Bündchen
32. Kate Bosworth
33. Halle Berry
34. Carmen Electra
35. Jessica Simpson
36. Adriana Lima
37. Evangeline Lilly
38. Katherine McPhee
39. Christina Aguilera
40. Cheryl Burke
41. Kristin Kreuk
42. Jennifer Aniston
43. Charlize Theron
44. Heidi Montag
45. Anna Faris
46. Shannon Elizabeth
47. Alessandra Ambrosio
48. Mayra Veronica
49. Katherine Heigl
50. Keeley Hazell
51. Anne Hathaway
52. Jenny McCarthy
53. Marisa Miller
54. Kate Hudson
55. Shakira
56. Tara Reid
57. Jennifer Love-Hewitt
58. Cassie Ventura
59. Eva Longoria
60. Fergie
61. Ellen Page
62. Nicole Scherzinger
63. Grace Park
64. Stacy Keibler
65. Katie Holmes
66. Leeann Tweeden
67. Liv Tyler
68. Kari Byron
69. Christina Ricci
70. Mischa Barton
71. Amanda Beard
72. Elizabeth Banks
73. Carrie Underwood
74. Kelly Hu
75. Pam Anderson
76. Rachelle Leah
77. Paris Hilton
78. Karina Smirnoff
79. Christine Lakin
80. Audrina Patridge
81. Mila Kunis
82. Alyssa Milano
83. Jenna Fischer
84. Maria Kanellis
85. Olivia Munn
86. Reese Witherspoon
87. Madonna
88. Shamron Moore
89. Rachel McAdams
90. Summer Glau
91. Ashley Collette
92. Maggie Gyllenhaal
93. Whitney Able
94. Olga Kurylenko
95. Lauren Conrad
96. Carmit Bachar
97. Amber Heard
98. The Olly Girls
99. Victoria Beckham
100.Britney Spears

23 April 2008

Paul Scholes: 100 Champions League appearances ***UPDATED****

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, I know it will put a lot of people off me, I am a Manchester United fan. Okay, I'm from the South West of England, although I've seen them play I've never actually been to Old Trafford. Thing is, I'm not a glory seeker.

All my friends supported the teams that were big in Europe: Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham Forest. When I first got interested in football in the 1970s Manchester United won nothing. They even went down to the old second division. In the 80s they were perennially runners-up. It wasn't until Alex Ferguson became manager and got into his stride that they became the most successful team of recent years.

Now, I didn't want to jinx anything earlier (us football fans are superstitious people) until after the game between United at Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-final of the Champions League (final score 0-0, a good result in the away leg, despiute missing a penalty because we played terribly) but I wanted to make a list to celebrate former England midfielder Paul Scholes' 100 appearance in the competition. He's only the ninth player to dreach that landmark.

Here's the list of the players that have appeared in 100 (or more) games in the Champions League:

:: Paul Scholes
:: Ryan Giggs
:: David Beckham
:: Raul
:: Roberto Carlos
:: Paolo Maldini
:: Oliver Kahn
:: Clarence Seedorf
:: Luis Figo

29 April: Manchester United second leg of the Chapions League semi final was tonight. It had been 0-0 in Barcelona and United won 1-0 is a thrilling game tonight and guess who scored the goal? Yes, Paul Scholes! Last time Untied got to the final (and won) he was suspended so I really hope he plays. The final in Moscow in 3 weeks will be an all English affair for the first time. Chelsea play Liverpool in their second leg tomorrow (so far 1-1).

St George's Day

Today England "celebrates" it's patron saint's day. Hardly a celebration in this country, and I didn't really know much until I researched for this post, so here are a few facts about St George and the day itself:

:: As well as England there are a number of other places that have St George as their patron saint: Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Portugal, Serbia, , and the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the Spanish region of Catalonia and the city of Moscow (though they don't all celebrate on the same day due to differences in the Julian and Gregorian calendar).

:: Though nothing is certain, St George was thought to have been born in what is now Turkey, to Christian parentage in the third century. He moved to Palestine with his mother after his father died and became a soldier. The Roman emperor of the time, Diocletian, was strictly anti-Christian, and when George told the emperor that he was too harsh on Christians he was imprisoned for seven years. After not denouncing his faith he was beheaded at Lydda in Palestine.

:: Though never to have even visited England, George became patrol saint of the country after a minor feast day was bestowed for him by the Oxford diocese in 1222. It wasn't until the end of the 14th century that he was elevated to patron saint status and in 1415, Archbishop Chichele ordered St George's Day to be observed like Christmas Day.

:: St George's cross, the flag of England, was adopted as far back as king Richard I and represents his martyrdom.

:: The legend of George slaying a dragon and rescuing a fair maiden is one of the many medieval "romance" stories. No evidence has ever been found that it was based on truth!

:: It is tradition to wear a red rose on your lapel on St George's Day.

:: Many English churches have the tradition of singing the hymn Jerusalem on the Sunday closest to St George's Day.

:: The Scouts is one of the few institutions that actually dose any celebrating for St George's Day.
:: Shakespeare was born and died on St George's Day. This fact has been the main arguments for making April 23 a public holiday in England to bring the number of public holidays closer to the level of holidays in the rest of the union and Europe.

:: Diada de Sant Jordi in Catalan, it is tradition to give gifts of a rose and a book. Because of this (and Shakespeare's birthday) UNESCO declared 23 April International Day of the Book.

21 April 2008

"Nice to see you...": The Television BAFTAs

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts held their annual awards for the best British television last night and the big winners were Harry Hill's TV Burp, a show that's been going for seven years and is now beating the "big" Saturday night reality shows such as I'll Do Anything in the ratings, and BBC Three sit-com Gavin and Stacey. The later won the only award voted for by the viewers, so it's done very well for a multi-channel show. Bruce Forsyth won the top prize of the BAFTA Fellowship in the year he turned 80, most of which he has spent on TV, with a recent resurgence due to Strictly Come Dancing.

Andrew Garfield - Boy A - Channel 4

Eileen Atkins - Cranford - BBC One

Entertainment Performance
Harry Hill - Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV1

Comedy Performance
James Corden - Gavin and Stacey

Drama Series
The Street - BBC One/Granada Productions

Drama Serial

Continuing Drama
Holby City - BBC One/BBC Drama Productions

Factual series
The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities - BBC One/BBC Specialist

Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain - BBC Two/BBC

Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares - Channel 4/ Optomen Television

Current affairs
China’s stolen children – a Dispatches special Channel 4/True Vision

News coverage
Sky News Glasgow Airport attack

Entertainment programme
Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV1/Avalon Television Ltd

Comedy programme
Fonejacker - Channel 4/Hat Trick Productions Ltd

Situation comedy
Peep Show - Channel 4/Objective Productions

Sky+ Audience award for the Programme of the Year
Gavin & Stacey

BAFTA Fellowship
Bruce Forsyth

17 April 2008

Classic Film Openings #4: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Well, the fourth Indiana Jones movie is out next month (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) so I thought I'd get into Indy fever with another classic opening scene. Now the obvious one to do would be the Raiders of the Lost Ark opening but I decided on the second film because I think it is pure, brilliant film making. Spielberg at his best.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) starts, like Raiders, with a visual pun on the Paramount logo, the first part of the opening scene is a big song and dance routine to the classic Cole Porter "Anything Goes" in Chinese! Set in 1930's Shanghai it introduces nightclub singer Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott. Spielberg had always wanted to do a 30's style musical number and the perfect excuse is placing Indy in the Club Obi-Wan doing a dodgy deal with gangster, Lao Che, over an ancient artifact and a diamond. Indy is double crossed and a poison is slipped into his drink, Lao Che has the antidote but a deal needs to be done before he will give it to Indy. Indy's friend is killed and a violence ensues and eventually Indy escapes, with Willie (who has snatched the antidote whilst after the diamond, after it is kicked around the room and nearly lost amoungst a split bucket of ice) through a window, using a giant gong to avoid machine gun fire (a scene dropped from Raiders). After a fall through some canapes they land in Indy's sidekicks, Short Round's car, introducing another of the new characters. Phew! It doesn't stop there.

Now, I might seemed to have rushed through that but I don't consider that to be the end of the opening scene". Unfortunately I can only find that part for the attached YouTube clip but the breakneck action continues...

Indy, Willie and Short Round (characters all named after dogs, George Lucas', Spielberg's and screenwriter Willard Huyck's respectively) escape Lao Che's men and to get on a private jet, not realising it belongs to the Shanghai gangster. After a pause for breath our heroes relax in the back of the plane. Meanwhile Lao Che's henchman pilot dumps the fuel and jumps from the plane with the only parachute. Indy struggles with the controls but soon realises they'll have to abandon the plane themselves. All three jump for the stricken plane using an inflatable life raft as a parachute. They land safely before the plane crashes into the side of the snow covered mountain.

But that's not it! They're now careering down the mountain on the life raft, getting faster with every second. Then it's off a cliff and now they're contending with rapids. THIS is why I think this is a classic opening scene. It's a case of out of the fire, into the frying pan, time after time. A real roller coaster. Just when you think they've escaped peril, another situation arises and it's edge of your seat stuff again, with barely time to catch your breath.

Once the rapids slow to a calm and the three are exhausted (along with the audience) into the calmer waters of the river, the two legs of the village elder standing on the bank are spotted as the raft floats past, the real story can start. The opening sequences serve two purposes: getting our characters together, establishing their relationship along the way, and getting Indy and co. to location of the main story. Clever, and exhilarating stuff, brilliant film making and setting the mood for what happens next.

I once used this opening as an example in a lecture I had to give a University. The theme was "the value of popular film". Whilst the other film students gave lectures on the importance of Truffaut and Tarkovskiy I argued that film makers need look no further than the better made blockbuster to see how film works.

16 April 2008

Strange laws in th UK

I've just taken up archery and it seems there are a couple of odd laws in this country concerning the ancient art. In the city of Chester you can only shoot a Welsh person with a bow and arrow inside the city walls and after midnight. They're a bit safer in Hereford because you may not shoot a Welsh person on Sunday with a longbow in the Cathedral Close. It's Scotsmen that are at risk in York, as, it is perfectly legal to kill one but only if he has a longbow, except on a Sunday. An ancient law also decreed that Englishmen must undertake at least 2 hours of longbow practice a day.

Here are a few more strange laws in the UK:

:: It is illegal to wear a full suit of armour or die in the Houses of Parliament.
:: In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and asks to use the toilet, you are legally obliged to let them.
:: A pregnant woman can legally urinate anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet. A man who feels compelled to relieve himself in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.
:: On the island of Jersey it's against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.
:: Attempting to commit suicide is a capital offense. Before the abolition of the death penalty offenders could be hanged for trying.
:: All stamps in the UK carry an image of the Queen (or King) and is an act of treason to put the stamp upside -down on an envelope.
:: If you've got the plague you'll have to catch a bus or walk as it's illegal to flag down a taxi in London. However it's illegal for the city's cabs to carry rabid dogs or corpses.
:: It is illegal to drive cattle through the streets of London, however, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.
:: It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing!

and my personal favourite:
:: In Liverpool it is illegal for a woman to be topless... except as a clerk in a tropical fish store!
I'm sure sure if all of these still stand or if anyone has been arrested recently for flouting them (or, indeed, got away with something because of them). I'm pretty sure some of them are quite ancient.

15 April 2008

Galaxy British Book Awards 2008

The Galaxy British Book Awards were held at the weekend. "The Nibbies" as they're known (because of the golden pen nib shaped award) are promoted by the UK publishing industry trade journal Publishing News and on the daytime Channel 4 TV programme Richard and Judy. A book mentioned in their Book Club slot is almost guaranteed a best seller status, such is the power of television.

Well at least it gets people reading. As did JK Rowling, with the nation's (world's?) kids. She receives the Outstanding Achievement Award for her Harry Potter books. I've read the first one; I think I'm a little old!
Book of the Year
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Reader’s Digest Author of the Year
Ian McEwan - On Chesil Beach
Biography of the Year
My Booky Wook by Russel Brand
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman by Francesca Simon
Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell
New Comer of the Year
Catherine O'Flynn - What Was Lost
Popular Fiction Award
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Popular Non Fiction Award
Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman
Outstanding Achievement Award
J.K. Rowling
I'm currently reading The Kite Runner by Read of the Year winning author, Khaled Hosseini. It's a fantastic book and highly recommended. What are you reading at the moment or which books have you read in the last year that you have loved?

I'd like to thank Eamon over at Creative Think Juice for reminding me about this list with a post of his own about it. I even caught a b it pof the cermony on telly and thought it would be a good list, and promptly forgot about it. Check out his blog.

Coming of age: child stars who made it big

Today is the Harry Potter film's Hermione Granger, Emma Watson's 18th birthday (now she has access to the £10.5 million she's earned from the films). Happy Birthday Emma. What scares me (no not the films!) is that people born in the 1990's can legally buy alcohol in this country. It was also the last episode of the brilliant E4 drama Skins last night, one of the stars being About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult. This got me thinking about "child stars". These days there don't seem to be many boys who start off a promising career and go on to greater things, unless you count drug and booze hell "greater". Though Linsey Lohan is trying her worst to redress that balance.

Here's a list of some of the moppets who went on to forge a career long after they first appeared as fresh faced innocents and took on more adult roles:
Emma Watson

Turned 18 today. Still signed up for the future Potter films and also appeared on television in The Ballet Shoes.
Nicholas Hoult

The rather odd little boy in the adaptation of Nick Hornby's About A Boy alongside Hugh Grant. Went on to be the heart throb in the brilliant series Skins. Appeared in a few other film and TV roles, including Kidulthood.
Natalie Portman

Rose to fame as the prepubescent Mathilda in Leon (The Professional) and recently starred as Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl (opposite another former child actress, Scarlett Johansson) via roles as a stripper and in the Star Wars prequels. A great actress in some stellar films, including Heat, Mars Attacks, Closer and V for Vendetta. Her stunning looks help.
Drew Barrymore

Went off the rails after her role in ET before sorting herself out and becoming a star in front and behind the camera. Hits include Charlie's Angels and Donnie Darko.
Jodie Foster

One of the most respected and talented actors of her generation, quirky roles as a youngster gave way to a shattering performance as a young prostitute in Taxi Driver, for which she won an Oscar nomination. She won Academy Awards for The Accused and Silence of the Lambs. A quality actress that doesn't toe the Hollywood glamorous line.
Christian Bale

Shot to fame brilliantly in Spielberg's The Empire of the Sun, is now the revamped Batman. A dark, brooding actor, prepared to take on some seriously dark roles (American Psycho for one).
Leonardo DiCaprio

Acted in a few TV shows including Rosanne and Parenthood before really making his mark with Robert De Niro in This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and via the biggest film ever, Titanic went on to take over as Scorsese's "muse" from De Niro. One of the biggest actors in the world today.
Christina Ricci

Quirky actress that has been in loads of films but has never quite hit the heights of her early hits such as Mermaids or The Addams Family.
Anna Paquin

An amazing start with The Piano shes gone on to play, amonst other things, a trouble mutant in the X-Men films.
Claire Danes

After a number of big films, including How to Make an American Quilt and Romeo + Juliet,(opposite DiCaprio) and even Terminator 3 she truly became a "star" in last years wonderful Stardust.
Kirsten Dunst

A number of small roles in movies such as Bonfire of the Vanities and TV like Star Trek: The Next Generation she really came to notice as a hundred year old vampire stuck in a child's body in Interview with a Vampire. Parts in Little Women (with Danes and Bale), Jumanji, The Virgin Suicides, Bring It On, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and most notably the Spiderman movies, she has become one of the biggest stars of her generation.

This list is missing out stars of yesteryear such as Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland too. Also Haley Joel Osment hasn't really done anything of note since his child roles in Forrest Gump, Sixth Sense, AI and Pay It Forward. I could have included the other Harry Potter stars, especially Daniel Radcliffe, who's done very well for himself. And maybe I should have mentioned Macaulay Culkin too!
Despite their loviliness when grown up, I have decided not adding the "babes" tag to this post as it seems inapproriate.

14 April 2008

10 English actors in American dramas

What's going on? Maybe it's cos they can do the accent? It seems that British actors are emmigrating to the USA to take over some of the biggest roles on US television. I'm sure they are being lured by the huge sums of money offered by dramas over the pond but not only are they getting some of the top jobs, they're also playing Americans, rather than the usual villain in previous years. this is without British comedies being remade for the States, such as The Office, Spaced and Little Britain. Or Simon Cowell, Nigell Lithgow and Piers Morgan being the faces of light entertainment.

This post has been inspired by the premier of Pushing Daisies on ITV this weekend. Staring the beautiful Anna Friel (right), it's like a Tim Burton-esque world, with the quirkiness of Amelie. Set in a technocolour Americana world, Friel's character, Chuck, starts the show dead, only to be revived by a childhood sweetheart, who has the ability to bring people back to life. They fall in love but there's a problem; if he touches her she will decend back to a non-living state. Bummer. This show has got great potential. High concept and a unique look, it could go one way or the other. Fingers crossed.
Anyway, back to the list, Brits on US TV. Well this lists is some of the most prominent roles taken by British actors on Americcan television, not always totally successfully (Michelle Ryan!):

Anna Friel - Chuck in Pushing Daisies
Hugh Laurie - Dr. Gregory House in House
Michelle Ryan - Jamie Sommers in The Bionic Woman
Dominic Monaghan and Naveen Andrews - Charlie Pace and Sayid Jarrah in Lost
Jane Leeves - Daphne Moon in Frasier
Joely Richardson - Julia McNamara in Nip/Tuck
Frances O'Connor - Zoe Burden in Cashmere Mafia (about to be aired in the UK)
Sophia Myles - Beth Turner in Moonlight (to be shown later in the year in the UK)
Minnie Driver - Dahlia Malloy in The Riches
Alex Kingston - Dr Elizabeth Corday in ER

Can Michelle Ryan rebuild her career after The Bionic Woman?

09 April 2008

10 annoying things people do

Inspired by a comment left by fellow Blogger Elizabeth for an idea for a list, here are (in no particular order) ten things that people do that really get on my nerves:

  1. Lorries that pull out or cut you up: just because you're driving something bigger that probably won't get damaged if I drive into the side of you doesn't give you the right to pull out in front of me.
  2. Not indicating: people who don't show other drivers, cyclists or pedestrians where they are going on the road. Just because you know what lane you are in and where the road markings say you can go doesn't mean everyone else does, especially pedestrians or people who have never been to the area before. It's dangerous, impolite and quite frankly lazy. It doesn't take much.
  3. "I hate...": people who say they hate things before they've experienced them. Yes, you can have a preconception of something and suspect it won't be to your taste, be it music, food, films, whatever, but don't claim to hate, or worse, be outraged by something without having tried it out first.
  4. Knee wobbling: people who have that weird twitch thing where their knee jolts up and down, making your monitor wobble in front of your eyes on the desk. They know they're doing it but seem oblivious to it's effects. Probably not very good when I have restless leg syndrome and do this in my sleep!
  5. Mobile phones: where do I start with the annoying things people do with mobiles? Irritating ringtones (especially manufacturer defaults and people having "retro" phones with crap polyphonic tones cos they think it's cool), driving whilst talking (or worse, texting), talking loudly on public transport (we don't care about your private life and we can't get away)... Mobile phones could have a list of their own.
  6. Rushing to get off a plane: standing up before the seatbelt signs are extinguished, squeezing into the aisle grabbing for the bags in the lockers, all before the doors are opened. You're not going to get out quicker and even if you get off first you'll just be waiting for longer at the baggage carousel because you getting off first won't make the baggage handlers work any quicker. Which leads onto...
  7. Standing right next to the baggage carousel: with baggage trolleys. It is so rude, getting in the way whilst everyone else's suitcases trundle past, blocking people so they can't get to theirs whilst you wait for yours. Stand back so everyone can see, only move forward when your bag comes around. If everyone did this it would be so much easier and quicker.
  8. Your/you're: my biggest bugbear in grammar and probably the one I see the most on internet forums. Closely followed by to/too.
  9. Queue jumping: especially when the people know they're doing it but pretend they don't. Yeah, I want to be standing here and your life must be so much more important than mine, please steal some more of my time.
  10. Hypocrisy: which I'm also guilty of because I've probably done most of the above.

07 April 2008

Icons of England

Whilst searching the net for information on Glastonbury Festival (there are reports that Jay-Z, one of the festivals headliners might be pulling out, possibly due to the poor sales, yesterday) I found this great web site, Icons: a portait of England. It lists the festival as quintessentially British and the "daddy" of all music festivals.

England has a rich and varied culture and heritage and this great site sets out to prove it by highlighting iconic features of the country. It's thought provoking and stimulates discussion of what makes England great and what things are unique to England.

Here's a list of some of the things Icons has deemed worthy of iconic status:

  • Alice In Wonderland
  • The Angel of the North
  • The Archers
  • Big Ben
  • Blackpool Tower
  • The Bobby
  • Bonfire Night
  • Bowler Hat
  • Brick Lane
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Chicken tikka masala
  • Cricket
  • A Cup of Tea
  • Doctor Who
  • The Domesday Book
  • Eden Project
  • The FA Cup
  • Fish and chips
  • Fox-hunting and the Ban
  • Glastonbury Festival
  • Globe Theatre
  • Hadrian's Wall
  • The Hay Wain
  • Hedges
  • HMS Victory
  • Holbein's Henry VIII
  • The Iron Bridge
  • Jerusalem
  • The King James Bible
  • The Lake District
  • Land Rover
  • Lindisfarne Gospels
  • Magna Carta
  • The Mini
  • Miniskirt
  • Monty Python
  • Morris Dancing
  • Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management
  • Narrowboats on Canals
  • Notting Hill Carnival
  • Oak Tree
  • The Origin Of Species
  • OxbridgeThe Oxford English Dictionary
  • Parish Church
  • The Peak District
  • The Phone Box
  • The Pint
  • Pride And Prejudice
  • The Pub
  • Punch and Judy
  • Queen's Head Stamp
  • Queuing
  • Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
  • The Robin
  • Robin Hood
  • Rolls-Royce
  • The Rose
  • The Routemaster Bus
  • Rugby
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Spitfire
  • SS Empire Windrush
  • St George's Flag
  • Stiff Upper Lip
  • Stonehenge
  • Sutton Hoo Helmet
  • The Thames
  • The Black Cab
  • Tower of London
  • The Tube Map
  • The V-sign
  • The Weather
  • Westminster Abbey

For more information on each of these "icons" visit the site by clicking here.
I'd be interested to know what you would add to this list, especially if you are from over seas. How do you see England? I know our American cousins would add "bad teeth" to this list!

06 April 2008

Glastonbury 2008 ticket day

Well, today's list could have been a number of things: something on the protests at the London Olympic Torch parade about China's human rights record and their recent treatment of Tibet (too political), the death of Charlton Heston, former great actor and misguided President of the NRA (too political again!).

The fact I've been creating an Interactive Glastonbury 2008 Map as an exercise in learning Adobe Flash has also added to this.

So, what's really been on my mind today: Glastonbury Festival tickets went on sale today and we (and our friends) all managed to get them. The ticket lines were snarled up, never even got through on the phones, but with help from friends (and after securing tickets ourselves, us helping other friends) we're off on our annual pilgrimage to may favourite past time, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts!

Though there rumours one of the headliners is pulling out (maybe it's Jay-Z cos of his recent marriage to Beyonce, can't see her in a pair of wellies) and possibly being replaced by Kylie (she had to pull out a few years ago because of her breast cancer), here is a list of some of the rumoured and confirmed artists as of today:

Confirmed (all confirmed by organiser, Michael Eavis):

Pyramid (main stage) headliners:

Kings of Leon
The Verve

Confirmed by the Eavis' or the bands themselves:

Alabama 3
Simon Atkinson and the Ben Marcato Trio
Joan Armatrading
Bodger & Badger!
British Sea Power
Solomon Burke
Jimmy Cliff
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Pete Doherty
Elle S'Appelle
The Enemy
The Feeling
The Fratellis
Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
Hot Chip
Johnny Action Finger
Seth Lakeman
Massive Attack
Andrew Motion
Kate Nash
Gilbert O'Sullivan
Red Route
Shlomo and the Vocal Orchestra
The Wombats
The Wurzles

Rumours, nothing confirmed but looking likely (for example, things on their MySpace pages mention their appearance):

3 Daft Monkeys
Band of Horses
Booka Shade
Carnival Collective
Cerys Matthews
The Courteeners
Dizzee Rascal
Fatboy Slim
Get Cape Wear Cape Fly
The Golden Silvers
The Gossip
Groove Armada
Buddy Guy
Jim Bob
Lupe Fiasco
Hayseed Dixie
The Krak
The Levellers
Lightspeed Champion
Neon Neon
Hazel O'Connor
Panic at the Disco
The Proclaimers
Chris Rea
Seize The Day
Sex Pistols
Scouting for Girls
Sons and Daughters
System 7
The Subways
John Tams
Team Waterpolo
The Ting Tings
Vampire Weekend
Way Out West
Amy Winehouse
Yes Sir Boss
Young Knives
Will Young

04 April 2008

50 Best British Albums

To celebrate 50 years of great British music, Q magazine (in conjunction with HMV) has published the results of a readers poll to name the 50 best British albums ever. Readers were asked to list their three favourite British albums of the last 50 years (released between 1958 and 2008).
As always there are a few surprises and it shows the readership of the magazine, quite conservative and older than the NME crowd for example... and fans of the Manchester band at positions 1 and 2 (and 14 and 22!). No surprise that The Beatles have the most albums n the list, with five.
The biggest surprise for me is Keane being in the top ten (and again at number 13) and not a single female makes the list. What are your thoughts?

1 Definitely Maybe - Oasis
2 (What's The Story) Morning Glory? - Oasis
3 OK Computer - Radiohead
4 Revolver - The Beatles
5 The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
6 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
7 London Calling -The Clash
8 Under The Iron Sea - Keane
9 Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd
10 Urban Hymns - The Verve

11 The Bends - Radiohead
12 Abbey Road - The Beatles
13 Hopes And Fears - Keane
14 Don't Believe The Truth - Oasis
15 Violator - Depeche Mode
16 The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths
17 A Night At The Opera - Queen
18 Whatever People Say I Am - Arctic Monkeys
19 The White Album - The Beatles
20 Never Mind The Bollocks - Sex Pistols
21 Rubber Soul - The Beatles
22 Be Here Now - Oasis
23 Absolution - Muse
24 Rio - Duran Duran
25 Parklife - Blur
26 A Rush Of Blood To The Head - Coldplay
27 The Holy Bible - Manic Street Preachers
28 Origin Of Symmetry - Muse
29 IV - Led Zeppelin
30 The Wall - Pink Floyd
31 Up The Bracket - The Libertines
32 X&Y - Coldplay
33 Who's Next - The Who
34 Black Holes And Revelations - Muse
35 Back To Black - AmyWinehouse
36 Songs Of Faith And Devotion - Depeche Mode
37 Word Gets Around - Stereophonics
38 The Fat Of The Land - Prodigy
39 Different Class - Pulp
40 In Rainbows - Radiohead
41 Hunky Dory - David Bowie
42 Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
43 Everything Must Go - Manic Street Preachers
44 Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
45 Behaviour - Pet Shop Boys
46 Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
47 Parachutes - Coldplay
48 Exile On Main Street - Rolling Stones
49 Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
50 Let It Bleed - Rolling Stones

02 April 2008

Trailers recut

There's seems to be a trend at the moment of no/lw budget remakes of movies. The films Be Kind, Rewind and Son of Rambow deal with people remaking movies whilst the internet is full of videos of people's own take on the classics.

One of my favourite trends is the film trailer recut: taking a classic movie and making a new promo for it, usually changing the genre, and when done well usually very funny. The first one I saw was the re-edit of Mary Poppins as Scary Mary, a horror film. I since discovered the Association of Independent of Creative Editors runs a "Trailer Park" competition and some of these are entries (25-year-old Robert Ryang won the competition with the superb re-edit of Kubrick's terrifying The Shining, as a rom-com!

The Shining Recut- AICE Trailer Park Competition Winner

Scary Mary - Mary Poppins Horror

Top Gun - should that be Brokeback Jetplane?

Fame - For All Must Eat

The Terminator - 2006 AICE Trailer Park Competition Winner

Brilliant. I'm sure I'll list more of these, or maybe even try one myself. Shows how a create use of music and voiceover can really make an impression (and how trailers work in the first place).

01 April 2008

April Fools

I mananged to avoid all April Fools jokes today. Didn't get a chance to check the papers to see what they'd put and I'm a bit too old to play jokes on my teachers like we used to (can of coke with pin hole in and coke swapped for water was the best - cept it leaked in her briefcase and ruined our homework!).

So, hears a list of some of the best hoaxes from years gone by:

  1. Swiss Spaghetti farms: in 1957 the BBC news showed the harvest of the spaghetti from tree in Switzerland. Film was shown of the farmers collecting basketfuls of pasta hanging from trees. Many people believed it and even made calls to find out how to grow their own, to which BBC phone operators replied "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." Everyone knows spaghetti comes from the sea.
  2. Value of Pi changed: In 1998 this hoax was spread around the internet after the newsletter The New Mexicans for Science and Reason claimed Alabama state was changing the mathematical constant of pi to it's Biblical version of 3. The Alabama governing bodies received hundreds of calls of protest. Physicist Mark Boslough had written the article as a comment on the state's proposal to change the laws on teaching evolution as opposed to the creationist views in schools.
  3. Stockings turn black and white tv colour: in 1962 a Swedish technology expert displayed how by placing nylon stockings over your tv set would create instant colour pictures. Obviously the demonstration couldn't be verified by viewers until they tried it as they all had black and white televisions. Ironically colour television wasn't commercially available until 1970, on April 1st.
  4. The Left Handed Burger: When ads for a Burger King Left Handed Whopper appeared in USA Today in 1998 thousands of customers asked for them in the fast food joints. They said the ingredients would be roted 180 degrees to help America's 32 million left handers. There were also many calls requesting a specifically right handed version.
  5. Astrological event causes anti-gravity: In 1976 astrologer Patrick Moore declared on his BBC Sky at Night programme that a once in a lifetime alignment of the planets Jupiter and Pluto would effect they Earth's gravitational pull so much that if you jumped in the air at the right time you would experience and strange floating sensation. The BBC received hundreds of calls claiming that they had experienced the event despite the date.
  6. Eiffel Tower to be moved: in 1986 the Parisien newspaper reported that to make way for a new stadium for the 1990 Olympic Games the iconic symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower would be moving to a new home in the newly built EuroDisney.
  7. £14 billion Channel Tunnel cock-up: The News of the World reported that a massive blunder in the building of the new channel tunnel meant that the two sides being dug from both France and England would miss by 14 feet due to the fact that the French were reading the blueprints as metric rather than imperial measurements.


I had to update this post to add a few from this year:

  • The amount of time and effort put into the BBC's effort this year is amazing. See the video here (which also doubles as an ad for the BBC iPlayer) sorry, there's an ad at the beginning of this video but keep watching after the advert, it's worth it
  • Aparently the London free newspaper Metro ran a story on lamp postw with an electric current running through them to prevent dogs urinating on them - I'm sure I've heard that one before
  • And a Lancashire newspaper claimed that Accrington Stanley football club were going to rename themselves Lancashire Stanley and apparently the club web site got loads of emails saying they liked the idea so are actually now considering it!