BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for November 22, 2009 - November 28, 2009

Your Letters

17:08 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009

Re Disney's new African-American princess. Bonnie Greer says: "It's probably a combination of our new president, a feeling that change has swept the land and thinking about how they can get involved in this change."
I think you will find that, like most big-budget animation films, this has been in production for the best part of six or seven years, meaning the concept was agreed upon long before the President Obama ever decided to run for the top job. Believe it or not, he is not responsible for every cultural change in American life. I'm just pleased to see Disney back to 2D animation - what they do best.
Martin, Bristol, UK

Headline of the year: devon cornwall water bill bills south west water
Behn, Plymouth

So according to 7 days 7 questions and which Jedward is which, "like Ant and Dec, they try to always stand on the same side to help people differentiate". I find it quite easy to differentiate between Ant and Dec, due the fact they're not twins and look completely different anyway.
James Dawkins, London

Ah, Vanity Fair...
Maisy, Milton Keynes

Woo Hoo! For the first time ever in four years I've scored 7 out of 7 on the 7 days quiz! Tunnocks teacakes are on me, folks...
Charlie, Wantage, UK

For the first time in absolutely years, I got 7 out of 7 on the news quiz. Any chance I can have some kudos? Also, can I collect the kudos which I won for back-to-back top six captions from summer '08?
Jordan D, London, UK
Monitor note: Catch!

Chookgate (Thursday letters), that may be the definition of osmosis when used metaphorically, but it's not the scientific definition. And since Paper Monitor mentioned a science teacher, the scientific definition is the one that is implied.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK
Monitor note: Paper Monitor has left the building

I had to reread the first paragraph of this story three times and I'm still not sure I understand what happened...
Dave W, Liverpool, UK

Dear Pedants' Corner,
Re Paper Monitor's "It's political correctness gone mad..."
No, no, no. It's health and safety gone mad. I refer you to Stewart Lee's recent and excellent TV programme on the distinction for further clarification.
Thank you.
Saffron Garey, Farnborough, Hants
Monitor note: Oh Saffron, you of all people should have got it then...

Is it wrong for me to think the health 'n' safety Christmas tree looks quite nice? Also the town centre manager stuck to the public's wishes.
K Morrison, Rochester, UK

Gerry (Thursday letters), the "sixth form" consists of the sixth and seventh years of secondary school, while the fifth year of secondary school has been referred to as "year 11" since 1990.
Mandy, Cambridge

What is Jedward?
Paul Jorgensen, Oman

10 things we didn't know last week

15:42 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009

legs_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Michael Jackson's iconic white glove is a modified golf glove.
More details (The Scotsman)

2. To be a Beefeater you have to have done 22 years military service.
More details (The Times)

3. Seemingly vegetative patients are asked to think of playing tennis while being scanned for evidence of consciousness.
More details

4. The UK had its first curry restaurant in 1809.
More details

5. The hamlet of Seathwaite in Borrowdale is, on average, the wettest inhabited place in England.
More details

6. All British infrastructure, including bridges, is designed to at least withstand the kind of flooding that would happen on average once every 200 years.
More details

7. Hammerhead sharks can actually see rather well.
More details

8. And humans use their skin to "hear".
More details

9. Google will only remove images from its image search facility if legally ordered to do so.
More details

10. Christmas trees can be dangerous.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Catriona Morrison for this picture of 10 legs.

Caption Competition

13:35 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].


This week it's French artist Alice Daquet preparing for a performance in a huge balloon at the opening ceremony of an art festival in Tokyo.

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Candace9839
Guitar Hero post-H1N1

5. aberdeen_girl
*sigh* Looks like I'll be playing Portmeirion again...

4. jellyba
Why Debbie Harry never ages.

3. bennym22
Producers vehemently deny that they are starting to run out of ideas with the Saw Christmas Special.

2. LaurenceLane
Morrissey suggested it for my next gig in Liverpool.

1. discom8
New method is revealed to prevent Sheffield students from urinating in the street.

Paper Monitor

12:27 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sorry for the delay - last night Paper Monitor was lured out for a pre-pre-Christmas drinkie, stayed out past bedtime, and is feeling a little worse for wear. Even after a coffee and breakfast bap. And - and! - someone's snaffled most of the papers.

(Fortunately, this wasn't on tap, otherwise your columnist would be most unwell today.)

It being nearly December, Christmas lights bedeck many a High Street, and festive trees are being erected in squares and shopping centres up and down the land. The rest of us may look at these and coo (so long as they don't go up too early), but those in charge of such decorations have but one thought in mind - it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

christmastreedorset_pa.jpgCue the inevitable photo of what's sure to be dubbed "Britain's worst Christmas tree", which has recently appeared in a shopping precinct in Poole, Dorset.

"The health and safety Christmas tree: there's no mess and you can wipe your feet on it" - the Times

"When is a Christmas tree not a Christmas tree? When it is a giant cone covered in what appears to be green doormats...
It has no trunk so it won't blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone's head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top."

The Daily Express headlines the story "Oh joy, it's the Elf and Safety Christmas tree".
"Christmas cone baffles shoppers" - Daily Telegraph

And the Daily Mail? It talks to the man who chose it, town centre manager, Richard Randall-Jones.

"'People think you can just go into the woods, chop down a tree and put it up in the high street. But if it blows over and kills someone then somebody is liable for it. We have to have guy ropes and hoardings to stop it from falling over and hitting somebody.
'Last year the board said they and the public didn't like all the ropes and hoardings around the Christmas tree. So I was tasked with finding a solution and we came up with the cone tree.'"

It's political correctness gone mad...

Weekly Bonus Question

09:38 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009


Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Question.

Each week the news quiz 7 days 7 questions will offer an answer. You are invited to suggest what the question might have been.

Suggestions should be sent using the COMMENTS BOX IN THIS ENTRY. And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is 1x SHRUNK WISHY WASHY. But what's the question?

UPDATE 1638 GMT: The correct question is, name one of the neatly labelled props waiting in the wings for panto season to start?

Of your imaginatively wrong questions, we liked:

  • Clarence_E_Pitts' In the Hogwarts version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, what precedes 2x Ghouls-a-courting?
  • BeckySnow's How did my mother refer to my last boyfriend?
  • philjwade's What is the age old problem experienced by men when they jump into an ice cold bath?
  • MightyGiddyUpGal's New dance craze for the ambivalent?

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:37 UK time, Friday, 27 November 2009

"This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost" - Label on controversial 32% strength beer.

There are more brickbats than bouquets for Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a Scottish beer that seems designed to cause a furore.
More details

Your Letters

16:44 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Andy, Woking - In PM's defence, the Chambers dictionary ( gives this as an alternative definition for osmosis: a gradual, usually unconscious, process of assimilation or absorption of ideas or knowledge. I hand you your coat!
Chookgate, Milton Keynes

Re Andy's letter... which is why Paper Monitor called it news osmosis. PM could have called it newsmosis I suppose and then no one would complain but then again no one would understand either. Personally, I thought it rather clever.
Chris Clarke, Grenoble, France

Andy, that'll be a Gore-Tex coat presumably.
Owain Williams, Regensburg

Re this story, it's good to see that Gordon has found time for things other than football punitry since leaving Celtic.
Simon Rooke, Nottingham UK

Re the headline "Urinating student avoids prison"
I wouldn't have thought it would have been too difficult.
Dr W B Chellam, Bradford

Well, Adam Wednesday's letter) and Christopher (Tuesday's letters), perhaps Paper Monitor isn't so much revealing his or her age as his or her country of secondary education. Scottish schools don't refer to the amalgamated fifth and sixth years as a "sixth form". "Fifth form" is thus still acceptable. Coupled with the north-of-the-border-sounding "Ms McLeish", this could suggest a Caledonian cultivation.
Gerry, Glasgow

Why oh why did you have to use that image for this story? I'm gagging for a curry now!

Web Monitor

14:50 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: A new space mission from an old spaceman, turning a negative into a positive and answering the phone like a sailor.

Buzz Aldrin4.jpgIn the Huffington Post Buzz Aldrin is getting hot under the collar about Nasa's new spaceships. Accidents and budget constraints mean Nasa are going back to capsule-shaped spaceships instead of shuttles with wings. Aldrin says this is going back a generation:

"It seems we have decided to throw away our Shuttle experience and go 'back to the future'."

Instead of retiring the shuttles Aldrin wants to use them for the next five years and get private businesses to help along the way. He's calling it his Unified Space Vision and is promising more snippets of his plan in the future.

Christopher Beam in Slate asks if the reviews plastered over film posters are ever true.

In amongst the examples of positive words plucked out of negative reviews is a nugget of a negative review interpretation:

"Companies will occasionally use negative quotes in promoting a film. When Siskel & Ebert gave 1997's Lost Highway 'two thumbs down,' director David Lynch proudly ran the quote along the top of newspaper ads, calling it 'two more great reasons to see' the film."

• Saying hello was not always the conventional way to answer the telephone Nate Barksdale finds in Cardus. He started his look at how we answer the phone after finding in the language site Omniglot that in many languages there is a separate word for hello on the phone. Predecessors of hello include "are you there" in the UK. Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone's inventor, wanted ahoy to be the conventional answer. This really tickles Barksdale:

"This tidbit opens up in me a great deep pool of longing for a pop-cultural world that might have been: Ahoy Kitty pencil cases, Jim Morrison crooning 'Ahoy, I love you, won't you tell me your name,' Renée Zellweger shutting up Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire with a tearful 'You had me at ahoy!'"

Paper Monitor

11:45 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"It's everyone's worst fear... THE NIGHT MY HOUSE BURNT DOWN femail Magazine, 17 sparkling pages"

Gosh, what a way to promo a tragic tale AND a fluffy supplement about dresses and Christmas perfumes at the same time.

One of these things is not like the other, but that's never stopped the Daily Mail in the past. Paper Monitor could ponder the unbearable fascination of the mind that came up with that front page for the rest of the day...

And if the Mail itself does nothing else today, it can revel in victory over its traditional rival. It narrowly beat the Daily Express team in the Press Gallery Pub Quiz held at Parliament last night. The Sun muddled in mid-table, and the Daily Mirror came alarmingly near the bottom.

Right, back to the task at hand. The Daily Star has an interview with a young mum it dubs "Britain's laziest teen". How does it know? The story sheds no light on the criteria used to name her "top slacker".

Meanwhile, here's a headline from the Times that tells a story in its entirety, but which makes you want to read more, more, more:
"Judge rips up mortgage, wipes out $500,000 arrears and hands home to couple to punish 'replusive' bank"

So who is this man sticking two judicial fingers up at a mighty financial institution? It's one Judge Jeffrey Spinner, David to IndyMac Bank's Goliath.

Get in, your honour.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

08:30 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

"Hereby cancelled, voided, avoided, nullified, set aside and is of no further force and effect" - Just in case anyone missed that, a New York judge rips up an unfair $500,000 debt.

An ailing couple who fell into negative equity - "under water" in the US - went to court expecting to be evicted after interest and penalties on their mortgage took their debts to $500,000 (about £300,000). But as the bank had rejected their every attempt to settle the debt, the judge branded the bank "repulsive" and wiped their slate clean.
More details (Times)

Your Letters

16:45 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Regarding this story: any more non-news you'd like to share with us? Man doesn't bite dog? Freddie Starr didn't eat my hamster?
Dave Morris, London

Bob (Tuesday's letters), you've heard of William Tell haven't you? He wasn't British, and yet we recognise the splitting an apple on somebody's head motif instantly.
Louise, Bedfordshire

Basil (Tuesday's letters), I also love the idea of a "media whirlwind of...Pebble Mill, Nationwide and Tiswas" Woo hoo, let the good times roll!
Ellie, Herts

No, Christopher Eio (Tuesday's letters), I beg to differ: I think you are showing your extremely young age by suggesting that talking about the 5th form is anything other than perfectly normal.
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor's science teacher may well have reinforced the importance of knowing about osmosis, but was apparently less successful at imparting the crucial knowledge of what it actually is. Osmosis specifically refers to the diffusion of water across a semi-permeable membrane. Passive movement of anything else (including unwanted information) is just diffusion.

I'll get my coat.
Andy, Woking

Web Monitor

16:34 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: The end of uncool, agressiveness at work spotted and a new discrimination.

Brian Eno• Cultural commentators love talking about what's cool and what's not, but Brian Eno in Prospect magazine's blog thinks that with the multitude of choices available, we could be seeing the end of uncool:

"There's a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don't have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It's all alive, all 'now,' in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it's old or foreign has left the collective consciousness."

Of course, this means that all of Mr Eno's 1970s and 1980s back catalogue - his "old" music - is now not uncool.

John Crace's article in the Guardian [screengrab here] on the how to handle stress at work starts with the provovative "Change a word and I'll kill you". At first glance, it looks like the sub-editors have tartly taken him at his word and left in words that were not intended for publication. But Guardian twitterers (here, here, and here) insist that the aggression was a knowing joke from Mr Crace to jump-start a piece about aggression towards one's colleagues.

Michael Toscano in Curator magazine claims to have found a new ism - fairyism. That's discrimination against fairies. He charts how fairies have systematically been beaten down in storytelling becoming smaller and smaller, and eventually being depicted as inferior to humans:

"The western fairy is now too impotent to matter, and has become a character in a new myth: the myth of human supremacy. Adults no longer have anything to fear from fairies - and therefore have nothing to learn from them.
However, Peter Pan is just that: truly modern. In it, the fairy is entirely subjected to human power. Today, in films like Ferngully, Shrek, and Hellboy 2, fairies are dominated by humans, and the new myth of human superiority and fairy inferiority is perpetuated."

Paper Monitor

11:58 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The story of a film actor losing it by interrupting his curtain call to harangue an audience member is rather compelling. But how to make this tale really sing?

"Harry Potter villain 'attacks' audience member for talking during West End play"
- that's the Daily Mail's take on the story.

Harry Potter villain? What, Voldemort?

No, Professor Quirrell. He was in the first boy wizard film. Chap in a turban. Him. Or rather, the chap who played him. Whatsisname. With the glasses. Looks a bit like John Lennon. Actually, didn't he play John Lennon once? Or was it twice?

Anyway, him.

How do the other papers cover the alleged incident?
"Why did he lose the plot? Actor faces police action after lunging at fan in the audience" - Times. And its online SEO-friendly (search engine optimisation) headline is: "Actor Ian Hart faces police action after lunging at member of audience".

Oh, Ian Hart, you say? I know him. But can't. Quite. Place. Professor Quirrell.

In other news, brain training experts claim an hour of sudoku can burn off more calories than are in a choc-chip biscuit. Well, they would, wouldn't they?

How to illustrate this piece? After all, the numbers one to nine being placed in little rows of boxes isn't the most visually arresting of topics. The Daily Express deploys the oldest trick in the book - a photo of a young blonde in her smalls doing the puzzle. So does the Mail, only with a brunette.

By the by, an illuminating reader's comment on the Mail Online seeks to debunk this theory, which, quite frankly, is asking for it:

"Calories burned by the average sedentary woman in a day 2000.
Number of hours in a day 24
Average number of calories burned in one hour: 2000/24=83.33
So girls I'm afraid Suduku will burn around 7 calories an hour over what you would normally use and is thus not all that useful as a weight loss strategy.
Erik, Derby"

Meanwhile, Paper Monitor does not pretend to know everything. And this is today's imponderable. Why dress a three-year-old in heels? Gold strappy sandals, to be precise. In November. When you yourself opt for slouchy biker boots 'n' jeans?

For this is what Katie Holmes has done - again - with wee Suri. The Mail seeks an answer:

"'Dressing Suri in amazing outfits has become Katie's favourite hobby,' said a source... Despite a near-tumble while walking in heels last week, it seems Katie is determined to get her daughter ready for life on the glamorous red carpet. 'Suri can't always walk in her heels, sometimes she just steps right out of them,' the source admitted."

A source? Someone who personally knows the Holmes-Cruise clan, or someone who has looked at the many, many photos of Suri in many, many outfits, struggling to walk in heels?

SPOILER ALERT Soap fans may not wish to read any further.

And finally, what follows is perhaps the poorest deployment of a spoiler alert ever. This is the Mail's headline on an EastEnders article:

Lucas makes sure his wedding to Denise goes to plan... by killing off his love rival Owen
Spoiler alert!

Look away now! Oh. Too late.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:18 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

"'Ello, you are getting cosy with Sarkozy" - How the French president answers the phone - as imaged by The Simpsons

Always fond of poking fun at those cheese-eating surrender monkeys, the latest series of The Simpsons stars caricatures of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni in an episode titled The Devil Wears Nada. And when Homer calls the Élysée Palace - why? long story - the president is pictured at his desk, eating Camembert.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

17:21 UK time, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Aside from being a hilarious article, it turns out Ms Masters is also a poet and didn't know it.
Ben Merritt, Sheffield, England

The date on the freshly minted coin (this gallery, picture five) seems a little off.
Neil, Canada

Oh... for shame on those of us who thought "the thought" upon reading this headline. We should have known that his thetons or whatever they are would have saved him.
Jaye, Rutland, England

A German employee of a German bank in Germany has been found guilty in a German court of transferring money from rich German customers to poor German customers. She has been "dubbed the "Robin Hood Banker"". By whom, exactly?
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

Re Socs the weight loss cat: "To date he has lost 0.65kg and it is hoped he will reach 8.8kg by January." That's some hope given his progress to date...
Dr Toes, carharrack

I'm sorry, but Paper Monitor's science teacher will be disappointed. That's not osmosis, it's just diffusion.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Didn't Osmosis split earlier in the year? Something to do with Neil and Leon not getting on?
Nik Edwards, Aylesbury

5th form? Monitor,
you're showing your age!
Christopher Eio (from the Magazine's Facebook feed)

Embarrassed at being embarrassed? How does that work?
Basil Long (who was born when "Grandma" was number one), Nottingham

Web Monitor

15:51 UK time, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: film characters as role models, the killer of cafe culture and political pawns.

precious_ap_226.jpg• Film critic Scott Mendelson at the Huffington Post thinks there is a pattern to asking if characters in films are good role models. He says the question is never asked of white male characters, and he's sick of it:

"Whenever any movie not primarily involving white males and/or geek-friendly genres becomes a big hit, the moralizers come out in full force about how dangerous or unhealthy said movie is for the target demo in question. Sex and the City: The Movie presents adult women in a terribly materialistic light so it's just unhealthy. And Precious isn't just about one person in a singular situation. Oh no, Precious is about each and every person who happens to be black, poor, female, or overweight, so it's obviously perpetuating one stereotype or another."

• Despite the rise of Starbucks over the past decade, cafe culture is pronounced dead by Michael Idov at the Wall Street Journal. In his history of the coffee house, the killer is the laptop, as people can sit next to each other in perfect silence. He's hoping the recession will get the debate going again:

"Perhaps the economic downturn will untie our tongues and restart the conversation. With rents going down, the next Café Abraco or Café Regular may be able to afford a larger space and have some money left for tables and chairs. And the new Lost Generation of creative strivers is already here to fill these chairs. In Los Angeles, friends report, where the lavish business lunch is no longer the industry standard, the café society is in unexpectedly full swing."

Merrill Perlman in Columbia Journalism Review has got all hot under the collar about politicians' uses of chess metaphors. She says they are abusing the game, starting with the smallest piece, the pawn:

"In chess, it's the piece of the lowest value, and also the most numerous, and its movements are more limited than that of other pieces. A player may decide to sacrifice a 'pawn' without much worry, since doing so often provides an advantage to another piece. Politicians use the term 'pawn' mostly in a pejorative sense, meaning that an opponent has misused something or someone to gain advantage... Colloquially, the lowly 'pawn' becomes someone else's sacrifice, not the sacrifice of the person who controls the destiny of the 'pawn.'"

Paper Monitor

12:40 UK time, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Those big-haired boys. Who are they?"

This question, put to Paper Monitor yesterday, serves as a reminder as to the value of keeping up with the newspapers.

Because one doesn't actually have to watch a single moment of Simon Cowell's immobile face to know exactly who the big-haired boys in question are. Or, for that matter, have read a single one of the articles about them either.

But even the act of flicking past offerings such as X Factor twins in line for £2m consolation prizes - Times, Don't laugh but we are next Any & Dec! - Daily Star or We're Jedly dull, us - Daily Mirror) mean that one has an awareness.

It's news osmosis*, that's what it is.

The questioner - who shall remain unnamed - likes to keep up with current events, but is at the intersection of a Newsnight/Sport Online/iPod on train with eyes closed Venn diagram. On the other hand, Paper Monitor will, if necessary, crane to read other people's newspapers over their shoulder if caught short.

*(This one's for you, Ms McLeish, the fifth form science teacher who told Paper Monitor all those years ago that knowing about osmosis would come in handy one day. Well, it just has.)

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:43 UK time, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

"I don't think I'll ever be able to watch Skippy quite the same as I used to" - Man hit by a kangaroo as he tried to stop it attacking his dog.

Chris Rickard and his dog Rocky accidentally startled the sleeping 'roo, and as it hopped away, Rocky chased it to a watering hole. There the angered kanga turned on the pet and pinned it underwater. As Mr Rickard tried to pull Rocky free, he took several kicks from the kangaroo's powerful hind legs.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

15:31 UK time, Monday, 23 November 2009

I feel sorry for the new EU president. There is only one type of scandal pun his name lends itself to...
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

To follow on yet again the discussion (Wednesday letters), my late father-in-law, born and reared in Ohio, used hoofs and roofs as his plurals, but didn't pronounce them as I would. In his case they rhymed with "woofs".
Peter Bradford, Maryland, USA

Re: "Games 'permit' virtual war crimes ". Games also permit me to be an Italian plumber in a red suit, riding a motorbike, bouncing over a mushroom field while shooting tortoise shells at a crocodile. Should we proclaim "cruelty to animals allowed in child's computer game"?
Dan , Derby

Did any other monitorites immediately "bruxise" after reading 10 things this week?
Fleur, London

"One of the twins said: 'It's been the greatest experience of my life. We're here every single weekend on live television having the greatest time of our life.' The other chipped in with: 'It's, like, deadly. It's, like, so cool.'"

I'm guessing the reporter couldn't tell which twin was which.
Ivan, Middlesbrough, UK

Seriously? No Finding Nemo reference with this story?
Joseph Ball, London, UK

Are they all grandparents... that would be a twist, eh?
Conradder (from the Magazine's Twitter feed)

Monitor: Our apologies for the absence of Friday's letters.

Web Monitor

15:29 UK time, Monday, 23 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: what the timing of Oprah's departure tells the professor of Oprah studies, if vampires ever go out of fashion and Twitter's latest exposé.

Oprah Winfrey • When Oprah Winfrey announced she would give up her US chat show, did she consider the plight of the professor of Oprah studies Janice Peck? Luckily, Prof. Peck expresses relief she can move on from two decades of analysing Oprah's success when speaking to Rebecca Dana at the Daily Beast. Before she finds another subject to study, Peck does make one final observation: The timing of Oprah's announcement - just after her ratings pulling interview with Sarah Palin - backed up her ethos:

"You've got a person who's entire public persona, and the empire on which it rests, is organised around one idea: that she is the person she is today and she has all of these successes because she is entirely self-actualised. She talks all the time about how she's rid herself of her own demons. If you believe everything you are is how you think, as she professes, then there's no room for any problems. When there's any non-happiness anyplace, it undermines the entire message."

• The question why we are going through a vampire craze at the moment is the wrong one for Christopher Beam and Chris Wilson at Slate Magazine. They have looked through the various vampire phases and have found that vampires being out of fashion is more unusual. However, based on previous patterns, they predict we may have a restbite from the vampires soon :

"If history is any guide, these plush times of vampire mania will soon end with a run of atrocious imitations, followed by a few years of peace and quiet."

• Over on Web Monitor's Twitter Watch, it's been noted that an exposé of Ambridge may be happening with the aid of Twitter. Ambridge is the rural village set of the radio soap the Archers, normally unseen by its listeners. But the voice of David Archer, Tim Bentinck, is letting all the secrets out of the bag about the set by posting pictures up on his Twitter account. So far he's exposed that the village gate is played by an ironing board.

Paper Monitor

11:51 UK time, Monday, 23 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Oh, the joy of being a newspaper sport sub-editor!

Do they dream in puns? Talk to their partners in double entendres? Sprinkle their tax forms with bon mots?

Football is a happy hunting ground for their punning prowess, which is in glorious fettle today.

The story is Tottenham Hotpsur scoring NINE (that's not nine, that's NINE) against hapless Wigan Athletic. Striker Jermain Defoe hit FIVE.

Match the paper to the witty headline. Answers below.










10. "GOAL FORCE 9"


1. Times
2. Mirror
3. Independent
4. Mirror
5. Times
6. Daily Telegraph
7. Daily Express
8. Daily Mail
9. Sun
10. Star

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:42 UK time, Monday, 23 November 2009

"In the end I had to see the funny side" - Woman who hired her husband-to-be a £250,000 Lamborghini which he then crashed.

Abi Pattison-Hart got David Gallucci a special treat for their wedding day, a Lamborghini Murcielago. He promptly wrote it off, losing the couple £5,000 of insurance excess.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

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