BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for November 9, 2008 - November 15, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

16:05 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

10_eye_pods.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Avatars have sex.
More details

2. Cocaine addiction has a gene.
More details (The Guardian)

3. Love handles shorten your life.
More details

4. Barack and Michelle Obama have code names Renegade and Renaissance.
More details

5. Germany, not China or the US, is the world's biggest exporter.
More details (The Economist)

6. The QE2 does 49 feet to the gallon.
More details

7. Monty Python's dead parrot sketch dates back to Ancient Greece.
More details

8. Gary Glitter's I'm the Leader of the Gang was on the syllabus for GCSE music.
More details

9. The song Two Little Boys was probably about the American Civil War.
More details

10. Alastair Campbell plays the bagpipes.
More details (Daily Mini-Quiz)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Jo Lewis for this week's picture of 10 London Eye pods.

Your Letters

16:02 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

Now that the Christmas catalogue season is in full swing, I'd like to propose a game of Most Expensive "Stocking Filler". My best so far is a pair of Bose in-ear headphones for £79. Can anyone beat that?
Stephen Turner, Cambridge, UK

I would like to add my ire to what must be a growing pile of indignant letters regarding question 4 of 7 days 7 questions. Will there be compensation?
Kat Murphy, Coventry
Monitor note: Kudos for all! And apologies. Rubber bands driving the whirly-gigs on the quiz machine broke soon after publication.

How do avatars have sex? is so full of potential quotations of the week it's hard to know where to start...!
Catherine, Leicester

"You can buy your own antlers, for instance" (How do avatars have sex?). Well of course. Who would have thought? This article ranks as one of the strangest things I've read all day. Thank you!
Martin, Bristol, UK

In Anything goes at Australia resort In this article, "tough economic times call for stiff measures". Mine's a single malt.
Catherine, Leicester

Yeah, thanks for this headline - I'm going to have that awful song in my head all day now.
Sue, Twickenham

Alex Cross, the killing of a cat would probably be "felicide", from the Latin felis (Thursday letters). Although there does appear to be a Latin word "cattus" as well, I rather fancy the Mail's writers weren't thinking of that...
Sam Korn, Cambridge

Actually it's "fellinicide", and it refers to the killing of Italian film directors.
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

A reader proposed editing out "pre-prepared script" in favour of "prepared script" (Thursday letters). Just strike the "prepared" too and be done.
Alberto Enriquez, Oregon, US

Caption Competition

13:33 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008


Winning entries in the caption competition.


This week's picture is a portrait of the Prince of Wales by artist Lizzie Sanders to celebrate Scrabble's 60th anniversary. Can't see the prince? Try squinting.

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

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

6. RMutt-Urinal
Prince's lunch of alphabet soup ruined by sneezing fit.

5. rogueslr
"A word in your ear, your Highness."
"I know, it's antidisestablishmentarianism."

4. SteeleHawker
"I think Colossus is malfunctioning again, Sir."

3. SeanieSmith
"KIGN...INGK...KGIN...GNIK...? No, I'll have to pass..."

2. In Off The Post
It was an increase in workload, rather than a pay reduction that led to Carol leaving Countdown.

1. Magnum Carter
" in 'when I become Qing'..."

Paper Monitor

11:26 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After yesterday's Guardian morphing with Hello! magazine, whatever will today bring? It is Prince Charles's 60th, and whose coverage will most closely mirror that of a glossy society magazine?

At first glance, the Daily Telegraph looks to be in the running, devoting a large portion of its front page to his louche-looking official birthday photo. But inside there is very little else. The couple divorcing over Second Life cheating gets more words and bigger pictures.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has the portrait - complete with a cut-out-and-keep guide to all that hardware on Charles's chest.
A timeline of his life and times - complete with topless polo pic.
Pull-quotes of his best lines - including that infamous assessment of the BBC's royal correspondent, "I can't bear that man".
And not one but two extensive think pieces.

The Daily Mail is far more interested in whether John Cleese's shiner at the royal show was real or fake, but later in the paper there's a Mac cartoon in honour of the big day.

Any Independent reader wishing to doff a cap in honour of the royal birthday has to wait until page 17, where a mere handful of words mark the occasion, alongside briefs such as Hendrix's drummer dying and something about shrimps.

And the Daily Express, champion of Diana (although some may not see it that way), runs a big feature on past heirs awaiting their turn on the throne.

"On his 60th birthday, Prince Charles today becomes the longest serving and possibly most inspiring Prince of Wales, a title that has seen its share of braggarts, playboys and wastrels."

Is this what is known as faint praise?

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:35 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.mando_pa_203.jpg

"You know how it is, the only other Englishman in the resort, you swap stories about work, and think you're never going to see them again" - George Osborne reflects on the taverna meeting with Mandelson

When George Osborne agreed some while ago to present the Newscomer of the Year gong at the Spectator's annual parliamentary awards, he couldn't have guessed the recipient might be one Lord (Peter) Mandelson. The last time the pair had been in such close proximity was over the summer, when then EU commissioner had apparently "dripped pure poison" about Gordon Brown in the ear of the shadow chancellor, a meeting which spawned Yachtgate.
More details (the Times)

Your Letters

15:38 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

"Jolie 'could give up acting for babies'" - I assume she'll ask for money until the economic situation improves. It does explain why she has so many though...
Lewis C, London

Would the killing of a cat (Paper Monitor) not be felinicide?
Alex Cross, Shifnal, England

Can anybody suggest a word for the feeling when you have an interview for a promotion in the afternoon and your boss sees you at your desk in the morning, pats you on the back and says "Don't worry about the interview today, I'm on the panel. Oh, and you're by far the least qualified of all the candidates..." The best I've come up with is Frusresigness - frustration combined with a feeling of resignation...
Lewis, Redhill, Surrey

I would like to express my admiration of Italy's sense of national priorities. Good on 'em!
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Apparently, according to a number of sources, the QEII is on her last voyage. She is off to Dubai to become a floating hotel. Isn't she one of those already?
Gary McEwan-Dibbins, Walsall, West Midlands

In this story on PMQs, Nick Clegg is reported as having asked a "pre-prepared" question, and the PM then reverted to his "pre-prepared" script. What is wrong with just calling them "prepared"? Or were they prepared before they were prepared?
Ken, Hornchurch, Essex

Paper Monitor

12:34 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What's going on? In a completely out of character way, the Guardian's G2 today has a profile piece on "Britain's most influential couple", Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud, which is more reminiscent of a Hello photoshoot (although in this case the ratio of words to photographs is reversed) than that of a left-leaning broadsheet Berliner newspaper.

"Inside the court of London's golden couple" starts with a couple of yachts, a private jet, billionaires and tycoons not to mention a viscountess thrown in for good measure, and that's just page one. There's constant reference to parties, parties, parties throughout. But don't imagine that it's all about the glitz and glamour. "When Cherie's out of town, Tony Blair often turns up in his jeans to their house in Notting Hill." A regular Ramsay Street then....

The accompanying collection of photos show Freud with the great and the good, including the obligatory snap with Bob Geldof. (Will there ever be a time when the very idea of the great and the good doesn't refer to himself and Bono, who is also featured?)

Once the feeling of nausea has passed, Paper Monitor is left puzzled. Some of the phrases used, and in fact the entire piece, surely go against the Guardian grain. It's particularly bizarre when you consider that Elisabeth is the daughter of a rival - media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, mention of whom is that of an "adoring father" figure. What's next in the British media love-in? Paul Dacre praising the BBC?

By the way, when reporting the sorry story of a man killing his neighbour's cat, the Daily Mail uses the word "catricide" to describe the sad episode. Can you see what they did there? Is there really such a word? Or is the Mail simply trying to confirm its tabloid status alongside the usual kings of the pun, the subs over at the Sun and Daily Mirror?

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:24 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

"Ferraris, we can make. Designer clothes, we can produce. Sun, pizza and love, we can provide a lot of. It's the public administration that is below par" - Italian minister of public functions Renato Brunetta tells it like it is.

Obviously national stereotyping is bad. Goes without saying. But when it's done by somebody from the nation being stereotyped it's not quite so bad.

Your Letters

14:11 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Monitor note: Yes, letter lovers, some of your communications with the Magazine would have been nice yesterday but we, er, forgot. Here is a bumper crop to make up it.

"Navratilova will be hoping to emulate Christopher Biggins's success." It's certainly a shame that so far her only success has been winning 59 Grand Slam titles. I feel she deserves this chance to finally make something of her life.
Edward Green, London, UK

"Just under 9,600 people reported having 15,488 partners in the preceding year." EACH?
Ian Bonham, Gibraltar

Re Will we eat wonky fruit and veg? At last, turnips can be again served "as God intended", regardless of how much they manage to look like a "thingy"...
Ann, Madrid, Spain

What, no mention for theguardian's masthead of an entire field full of poppies (Tuesday's papers)?
Al, Cambridge

I was intrigued by your headline World recalls end of World War I. I had always thought it was faulty.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

A sign left on reception on Tuesday made me smile. "Reception has been closed for the two minute silence - back in five minutes". What were they doing for the other three?
Lewis, Redhill, Surrey

Could Monitorites please help - when it it appropriate to cease to wear a poppy?
Andy, London

Did anyone else mis-read Hundreds of jobs go at Glaxo site and think that Glaxo were blaming patients dying (or being killed off) for the closure of one of our town's main employers?
Keith, Dartford

Nom Det Of The Day. QE2 hits a sandbank... Cunard spokesman Eric Flounders has his say. Anyone need a baked potato spokesman?
Peter Murphy, Milton Keynes

I'm wondering, how do you endanger yourself (Your news, your pictures terms and conditions) taking photographs of odd-shaped fruit? Are you worried it might turn ugly?
GDW, Edinburgh, UK

Tut, tut BBC. Surely you know that Midsomer (Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz) is a county rather than a village? Admittedly it's a county with a very small police force and a blanket media ban on coverage of local murders, but one nonetheless. Anyway, I'm off to blackmail someone who's just moved in next door about their shady past. We're meeting in an abandoned barn in the middle of the woods, but I expect I'll be back by tea.
Helen, Cambridge

She gets about, doesn't she?
Samuel, Leeds

She's moved! I blame the Credit Crunch.
HB, London

George (Monday's letters), good luck, I hope the meeting with the important clients went OK. I'm not sure about the interval but how about "impotiance" for the feeling (impatience + important = something close to impotence since there's nowt you can do but wait)
Eleanor, London

I bought one of those microwaveable burgers for lunch - am I going to be disappointed?
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:42 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Just in time, to rescue us from the doom and gloom of global financial turmoil* and news of high unemployment, the papers turn their attention to the sunshine-filled Australian rainforest. Yes, it's that annual moment of suspense we've all been waiting for, second only surely to the Oscar envelope-opening, (and maybe Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice etc... ). It's the unveiling of this year's "celebrities" who are heading into the jungle.

This year's line up contains someone for all the Fleet Street-reading family. The more mature household favourites Esther Rantzen and Martina Navratilova for those at the Telegraph and Daily Mail, Dani Behr and a couple of Wags, (plus Simon Webbe and Joe Swash for the girls) for the cheeky red tops, Robert Kilroy-Silk and Brian Paddick for the more politically-minded.

The question is will the Daily Express be cheering the former columnist of its Sunday sister, Robert Kilroy-Silk to win the contest?

Talking prizes, hard-hitting article of the day must go to the Mail's House of Twinsor, which uses several pictures of Charles and Camilla dressed in similar outfits (usually of a tartan/tweed variety) to prove that they're "turning into each other"... Enough said.

* Exception to this rule is the Independent which is obviously far too woeful about the recession, with a dedicated special report, to concern itself with such frivolity.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

08:21 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"I've been sleeping like a baby - sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours" - John McCain on how he has reacted to defeat

In his first television interview since the election, McCain joked with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. Noting that Arizona had produced four unsuccessful presidential candidates, he suggested it was the only state where mothers told their children they could not grow up to be president.

Paper Monitor

12:12 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The newspapers' poppy wars reach a climax on Tuesday, the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, with all the papers except the Financial Times sporting one on their mastheads.

The Daily Telegraph makes up for Monday's inexplicable omission by parading what is by far the largest poppy of all.

Talking of omissions, it sounds like Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre is less acquainted with Paper Monitor than is advisable for a man of his stature.

In his speech to newspaper editors, he said: "Why does not half an hour go by that the high priests of the subsidariat, the BBC, can't resist a snide reference to the popular press, again blissfully oblivious that all too often they are following agendas set by those very popular newspapers whose readers pay their salaries?"

If only Mr Dacre was familiar with this esteemed column, he would know there are parts of the BBC that celebrate the best of tabloid journalism.

Whether the Daily Mirror's campaign to "Stop Swearing on Telly" would come into that category is debatable.

Protecting its readership from the polluting effects of bad language is a laudable aim, but there are times when the asterisks render some sentences rather absurd.

Such as: "Badly Bleeped TV edited inoffensive words beginning with F in a way that suggested they were actually 'f***'."

And the Mirror's off-day continues when it comes off worse against arch enemy, the Sun, in a battle of puns. The story is Obama meeting Bush at the White House.

The Mirror's effort is "OBAMA IN THE HOUSE", which is no match for "SWEET HOME FOR OBAMA"

Now that's worth celebrating, Mr Dacre.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:20 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

"Is there anybody left in Midsomer?" - The Queen's reported question to producer of Midsomer Murders

Like those other charnel houses, Cabot Cove and St Mary Mead, the fictional village of Midsomer seems to have a higher murder rate than seems appropriate. Even the Queen thinks so.

Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

I'm pleased that this guy has managed to get home and fall asleep on his couch, as opposed to the numerous other drunk people who suffice with a cold pavement.
James O, Oxford

Re MPs call for pub happy hours ban: The problem with most pubs' happy hours, is that they last more than an hour. I have seen a happy hour that lasts four hours.
Helen, Leicester

Is there a name for that period of time spent nervously waiting for am important client who's late for a meeting? The wait during those few minutes is definitely more agonising than if they were on time. And what should you do? I can't concentrate on another task, so all I can think of is writing a letter to ask for help.
Oop - they're here; wish me luck!
George, London

Like the Daily Telegraph, I am also unsure whether to wear a poppy today (Paper Monitor). Remembrance Sunday has been and gone, but 11 November, the traditional remembrance day, is tomorrow. Is there BBC guidance on the matter?
Tom, London

This video highlights a number of things:
1. The lute was overpowered by the guitar for a reason.
2. Musicians get worse with age.
3. Reworking classic songs normally ends in disaster... even by the original artist.
4. Why is this video on the BBC website?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Re John Talbot's response to Andrew's letter. It does appear that he didn't fight in either war. "He was trained in Derby and then Catterick in Yorkshire but when the war ended he was sent home before he had to leave for France."
Richard Gibbens, Swindon, UK

No, Mike from Newcastle, you're not the only one to have spotted the Obama/Bob The Builder connection (Friday letters). Radio 4's The Now Show did jokes on this theme in almost every episode of its last series, broadcast from June to August this year.
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Brentford

Vicky (Friday letters): I never enter the caption competition; it wouldn't seem fair.
Phil CaptionCompetitionWinner, Cambridge

Robert Phillips (Friday letters), I too fell for the same trap (to add insult to injury, I ended up with a score of 6/7 instead of the coveted 7/7). However, if you check the headline as I did, it was indeed "bugs" even though the story was about bacteria. Bah!
TS, Bromley, England

Re 10 things: Just because Barack Obama saw a football match with West Ham playing doesn't mean he is a West Ham supporter. He happened to see a game while visiting a relative. I saw the Anaheim Angels play baseball while I was in Los Angeles. My presence at the game does not necessarily make me a supporter.
Martin, Bristol, UK

Just returned to the UK after a fortnight out of touch in foreign places. Have I missed anything? Has America had its election yet?
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Paper Monitor

11:53 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sometimes a story just provides too good a match for a paper's target demographic.

Both the Daily Mail and the Daily Express make hay out of a story that identifies the nation's main traits. Number one is "talking about the weather".

It's strange because Paper Monitor thinks it can remember two papers with a great tendency to lead on the slightest fluctuation in precipitation or a gentle breeze knocking a couple of tiles off the roof. Particularly when there's nothing going on in the world of uncontrolled immigration/new medicine.

Today also seems to have seen the papers break ranks over the poppy masthead issue. Paper Monitor noticed last week that only the Guardian, Independent and Financial Times didn't have a poppy designed into their masthead.

Now the Guardian has joined up for its coverage of Remembrance Sunday, but the red flower is strangely absent from the Daily Telegraph's masthead.

In other news, there are some energetic probes into the "lavish parties" being thrown by bailed-out banks. The Daily Telegraph chooses to apply the hatchet to the bash laid on by HBOS (cost £300,000) across all of page five of the paper.

The Daily Mail prefers the Royal Bank of Scotland bash (cost also £300,000, venue also Edinburgh) as its primary target, possibly because it has got the killer picture. A partygoer of middle years throws an extravagant pose for the camera as she prepares to get stuck into the "flutes of champagne on offer".

It could all perhaps be related to newspaper Christmas parties which have atrophied over recent years and left all the hacks feeling a tad resentful that anyone else is still getting free booze.

Or perhaps it really is genuine concern.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:34 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

"I broke the television, I must tell the truth. When a television breaks it makes a terrible bang... luckily I had another" - Ferrari president Luca di Montezemelo did not enjoy Lewis Hamilton's final race

A lot of people got quite excited while watching McLaren's Lewis Hamilton overtake Timo Glock on the final lap and win the world championship. But was anyone quite as excited as Ferrari's top man? Not since the days of Bill Grundy have televisions faced such wrath.

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