BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 15, 2009 - March 21, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

16:05 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

10daffs_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Wuthering Heights is known as Les Hauts de Hurlevents in France.
More details (Times)

2. The shoes that take Dorothy back to Kansas were originally silver.
More details

3. Champagne that's 184 years old can still have a few bubbles left in it.
More details

4. Elephants can be pink.
More details

5. False memory is called confabulation.
More details

6. Mining output fell more in the periods before and after Mrs Thatcher, than during her time as prime minister.
More details

7. Kim Jong-il likes pizza. North Korea's first pizzeria has opened.
More details

8. Parts of cremated bodies are recycled.
More details

9. Monkeys in Thailand use public transport.
More details

10. You should warm up before gardening.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this week's picture of 10 daffodils in Welwyn Garden City.

Your Letters

15:18 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

Reading the tortuous Dylan puns in this story reminded me of the Indy's killer article earlier in the week (sadly overlooked by Paper Monitor) Adams makes a better fist of his wordplay describing Dylan's hapless neighbours as "tangled up in poo". Sublime.
Rory, Grimsby

It's OK, it's not the singer.
Stuart, Croydon

The face recognition on Google Streetview is working well, as the poster for the Christmas pantomime visible on the Croydon Fairfield Halls has the face of Brian Blessed blurred out. However, this is rather undermined by the billing next door to the photo, that says "Brian Blessed" in big letters.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

It's considerate of Google to remove some images, and I'm sure it's good PR for them. But they're doing a disservice to photographers in propagating the myth that people are entitled to privacy in public places. To quote an article in a recent photography magazine: "Nobody owns the copyright on their own face.".
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

Did the "technical problem" blighting this week's Caption Competition emerge once some bright spark realised that large, unusual creature interracts with small female child was essentially a variation on last week's Caption Competition?
Sue, London

Caption Competition cancelled? It's political correctness gone mad. I know what's really happened - the BBC has received complaints from the T-Rex Association of Great Britain, who has stated that the picture plays on outdated stereotypes about their kind. Many T-Rexes are now useful, worthwhile members of the community, and almost never eat people any more.
The Bob, Glasgow
Monitor note: It was, unfortunately, a return of our bete noir, Technical Gremlins. Fingers crossed the techies have beaten them off for good this time.

Paper Monitor

12:09 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today, some praise for the rich variety of language in Britain's newspapers.

First to the Daily Star, that most distinctive of reads. Like the Inuits and their relationship with snow, said paper needs a lot of ways of referring to breasts for its mammary-obsessed readership.

But there is something very evocative about the description of WAG Charlotte Mears' bosom as "two swollen chest monsters".

Moving on. All the papers cover Google's Street View feature finally arriving in the UK. And there are subtle nuances in the language. In the Daily Mirror there is a sidebar entitled "MY MAGICAL MOMENT". But the Daily Mail pins its colours to the mast with a headline saying: "GOOGLE'S SPY ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE".

And you know what the Independent's mission statement is all about when you read the headline "'Miracle rice' gives Uganda hope of its own green revolution".

Like the Inuits with snow and the Star with breasts, so the Daily Express needs lots of words for those people that do relatively minor but very annoying bad things.

Once piece goes with "yob" in the headline, followed by "louts" in the intro and "offenders" in the second par.

The piece is mercifully short, meaning there's no need to wheel out "hooligans", "thugs", "hoodies", "Asbo teens", "youths", "miscreants", "reprobates", "bounders", "cads" and "scallywags".

Caption Competition

10:52 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

Due to technical problems, we are sorry to say that this week's Caption Competition has been cancelled. We hope it will be able to return next Thursday.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:36 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

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

"There are 100,000 stars in our galaxy and 1,000 million galaxies. I am sure cricket must be being played elsewhere" - Sir Patrick Moore gets to the heart of the alien life issue.

You've got to love Sir Patrick Moore. Apart from the whole breaking-astronomy-down-into-bitesize-chunks-that-even-people-without-physics-GCSE-can-enjoy thing, he's the classic English eccentric.

Your Letters

18:14 UK time, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Just to bring up the old debate, Paper Monitor doesn't understand that a decent handbag is worth 300 quid, but wants its initials in its privet. So is definitely a man, just a very well-groomed one...
The Bob, Glasgow

A poster with the slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On" is selling like hot cakes. In my considerable experience, not only has no-one I know ever bought a hot cake, but I wouldn't know where to buy one if I wanted one. Should we not therefore use a more apposite simile to describe fast-selling goods? Such as "selling like items carrying the slogan Keep Calm and Carry On"?
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

"If somebody stands up and says 'sorry, I can't serve you if you can't speak English', then they'll think twice" (Postmaster's foreign language ban). I really don't think they will. They'll think, "what did he just say?"... but in their native language.
Kat Murphy, Coventry

Unusual bird seen in whose garden? Are you on some kind of bonus scheme?
Jackie, Ilford

Why not change your "Send us a Letter" area on your website, and force people to select a subject heading from a drop-down list-box - eg letters, caption comp, porridge... this way you have just one portal for the e-mails, which can go to different e-mail accounts your end, and will prevent the weekly aneurisms caused by keyboard silliness. I'll do it for you, but you might have to pay for my trip in.
Rachel, Minnetonka
Monitor note: There are indeed a great man captions clogging up the mailbox. All of which have been summarily binned.

Paper Monitor

12:08 UK time, Thursday, 19 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It can be hard to find cheering news in these hard times. Just look at today's papers. The only bit of light relief is a picture of Gary Neville's garden, featured in the Sun and Daily Mirror. It shows the Man Utd footballer has had MUFC mowed into his 18ft by 10ft shrubs. It's so bad, it's good. Paper Monitor now wants its own initials in its privet.

But the Dailies Mail and Express appear to have found one of these elusive success stories. Both have a feature on the wartime poster which has made an incredible comeback. It features the simple slogan: "Keep Calm and Carry On". Revived by Stewart Manley, an independent bookseller, it is selling like hot cakes and now features on mugs, mouse mats, tea towels and T-shirts - to name a few.

Journalists at the Guardian may choke on their museli, as G2 carried the same story yesterday, and here it is, regurgitated and repackaged as if it were new. The cheek.

But while they fight it out among themselves, Paper Monitor draws your attention to Is this the greatest motivational poster ever?, dating from 4 February, and brought to you by a very close relation - The Magazine. Not that we're bragging, it's all about setting the record straight.

The Daily Mail also appears to be struggling to understand what "budget" means to the average person. Its fashion page very helpful shows us how to save £74,406 by swapping designer outfits for almost identical catwalk-inspired pieces from the High Street. Among these "budget" pieces are a £297 handbag, shoes costing £120 and a pair of sunglasses with a £89.50 price tag.


Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:00 UK time, Thursday, 19 March 2009

"I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts" - A holidaymaker complains about their trip.

There is a certain magic about the Brits abroad, much satirised by the British themselves. But if these holidaymakers' complaints are genuine, the standard may have to be recalibrated.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

17:59 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Just took the council jargon quiz - is it a good sign that I scored zero?
Amelia, Aberdeen

I scored two out of seven. Far from being disheartened, I think it rather proves the point.
Duncan, Bristol, UK

It's very tempting to make up random phrases from the LGA banned word list. I like "Cascading Bottom-Up Baseline" and I've only got as far as the letter C.
Jo Edkins, Cambridge

Did anyone else use the full list of banned council jargon to create dodgy phrases?
For instance, "I actioned a bottom-up gateway review, but I fast-tracked it and had an early win."
...just me is it?
James D, Derby, UK

Re What if Brian Clough were your office manager? The picture at the top is clearly not "how Clough might look in an office setting", but "how Clough might look if he had a GIANT HEAD!"
PB, London

Was today's mini-quiz (Shark, Alligator, Lion) written by Ben from Outnumbered?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

First item on any to-do list... Make to-do list. I have a horrendous number of to-do lists in my lab book where that is the only item ticked off.
Chris Clarke, Grenoble, France

I actually have "Write next to-do list" at the bottom of my current one.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Suggestion for Philip Pullman (Quote of the Day):
1. Switch on TV
2. Select "colour" setting on your remote
3. Keep hitting the little arrow thingy till the screen goes to only shades of black and white.
4. Relax, and say "Thank god for that handy tip..."
Dodie James, London, UK

Lord Judge? That's just too easy...
The Bob, Glasgow, Glasgow

Crunch Creep

15:55 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Strange, tangential and often unlikely events laid at the door of the credit crunch.

Sales of fine-blend teas are dropping as cost-conscious Brits turn back to the traditional comforts of Builder's Tea. The lessening lure of exotic teas has already led to the specialist tea outlet Whittard's of Chelsea going into administration.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Margarine sales are up as more people take to baking instead of spending money on expensive cakes and biscuits, as well as for home-made sandwiches ...
More details (Telegraph)

... while sales of mushy peas have increased 340% in the last year - more people are cooking at home rather than eating out.
More details (Telegraph)

The price of property on the Moon - which is sold by the Lunar Embassy in the Czech Republic's capital Prague - is tumbling in price.
More details (WA Today)

The price of vintage wine is dropping - in some cases by up to 40% below cost - because City firms are no longer indulging lavish expense accounts.
More details (Times)

Nannies have seen their wages falling as increasing cost-cutting - and unemployment - means they are no longer seen as affordable, or necessary.
More details (Telegraph)

America may soon see its first major city without a daily newspaper, as a the advertising recession and dwindling readership causes venerable newspapers like the Seattle Post intelligencer to close.
More details (Guardian)

Sales of the quintessentially British Aga cooker - a staple of rural and middle class homes - have plummeted 20% in the last year because of its oil-gobbling reputation.
More details (Telegraph)

The age of the Yummy Mummy is over - the credit crunch is forcing the ultra-thin "It Mums" out of the gym and into the workplace.
More details (Daily Mail)

Blonde women are turning to hair dye to keep their jobs. They are opting for a darker tone to avoid redundancy, as brunettes are deemed "more professional".
More details (Daily Express)

Paper Monitor

11:44 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's all about eyefuls of cleavage in the Daily Mail today.

On page three there's a rather unflattering photo of Kate Moss emerging from a car with her decolletage in disarray.

Further inside the paper, there is two pages from Penny Marshall who is doing an investigation into the alarming phenomenon of teenagers photographing themselves nude or partially clothed and sending each other the images. It's the kind of phenomenon that causes parents a great deal of anxiety.

One wants to avoid tawdry salaciousness with pieces like this. But as always, a picture paints a thousand words, so the Mail helpfully illustrates it with a photo of a sultry model leaning into the camera while displaying her cleavage.

Meanwhile, while they may have evinced a certain scepticism towards the merits of recycling rubbish, newspapers have always been in favour of one form of recycling - stories.

Take today's tale in the Daily Express, headlined: "ANGER OVER SEXY BOOTS FOR BABIES". Seem familiar? Could it be related to their story from November last year?

Or indeed their story from June last year, headlined: "OUTRAGE AS STILETTO SHOES FOR BABIES GO ON SALE".

Ah, it's not so hard being green.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

"I lament the loss of black-and-white TV, which was better than colour, and of bread and dripping" - Author Philip Pullman rues the loss of the old days.

A quick straw poll of the office reveals that beef dripping is harder to get hold of these days and is not quite as good as it used to be. It is also suspected chicken may not taste like chicken any more.
More details (the Times)

Your Letters

15:06 UK time, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

englandscotlandforex.jpgRe Scots 'hurt' by banknote refusals and past letters, the situation goes further than just England. I was most amused the other day here in Vancouver to walk past a foreign currency exchange offering different rates for English and Scottish money. Is a UN Resolution needed?
Gareth, Vancouver, BC

Never mind the rollercoasters, I'm finding Mr Walker's glasses strangely arousing.
Pix6, Vienna, Austria

Can eating Chinese staples ward off breast cancer? - it'd give you terrible indigestion though.
Dan, Cambridge

At first I thought Bindi referred to the late Steve Irwin's daughter, who does a kiddie nature show. I feel badly about the dog, but it did lessen the shock.
Nadja, north of Boston, US

Martin, Bristol (Monday's letters) - Egypt is geographically in Africa but culturally has been quite distinct from it - closer to the Middle/Near East.
Claire, Ayrshire

Because, Martin, Cleopatra VII Philopator was of royal Macedonian blood and her having an African mother is highly significant; it's a bit like finding out that the Queen Mother was Australian.
Angus Gafraidh, London UK

Did anyone else think this was going to be the record for "world's weirdest man" or some such?
Dave Barrance, Dublin, Ireland

Paper Monitor

10:46 UK time, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Your 20p Daily Star is loving it. Page 16 lead: "WE'RE TOO FAT TO WORK, GIVE US MORE DOLE".

Apparently "X Factor flop" Emma Chawner's family are too fat to work. They say they have a genetic condition that makes them obese, and the Daily Star is not one to pass judgement. Such as by calling them "tubby" or "biscuit loving".

Over in the Sun, readers get a whole page of wacky animal stories. As well as the alarming story of Bindi and the python, page 19 also offers up a hedgehog with no spikes and a pigeon in Brixton that got a bagel trapped round its neck and still managed to fly off.

On page 16 of the Daily Mirror the row over the chief medical officer's efforts to ban cheap booze is covered. And how might we illustrate it? They've only gone and used a picture of Drunk Girl again. Would a rise in the price of Smirnoff Ice have helped this wretched generic photo star?

The tabloids manage to find room for pictures of Dancing on Ice star Jessica Taylor promoting Tesco underwear, but the Daily Mirror fails to win any plaudits for its pun. "UNDRESSICA TAYLOR". That, as they say, is well bad.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:22 UK time, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

"It looked like a great big coconut was inside it. I knew straight away that it had eaten Bindi" - Woman whose dog was swallowed by a python.

Poor Bindi. The Maltese terrier cross belonging to Patty Buntine fro Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory was known to be fairly nimble. But it met its match in an olive python. Despite representing 60% of the snake's body weight, Bindi was swallowed whole.
More details (the Guardian)

Your Letters

14:10 UK time, Monday, 16 March 2009

"Banks 'concerned' over model riot" - good grief, you'd think they already had enough to worry about after losing all that money.
Sue, London

"Cleopatra's mother 'was African'" - er... since Egypt is in Africa, what is the big story here?
Martin, Bristol, UK

What a wonderful piece of nominative determinism in this article. A radio advertising specialist called Tony Hertz. Is he married to Gigi? With a daughter called Megan?
Ray, Turku, Finland

Regarding the second picture/caption in this story. I presume the Scottish plan for cheap alcohol, is to drink it while they can.
Mich, Nuneaton

Re: "Negative attitudes towards Robin Hood" - Hmmm... would that be from the "rich" then?
David, Coventry

I have spent more than 50 years in Thailand, and several years in the city of Loburi, where you say monkeys floss their teeth. Not so. They pick up these hairs to lick off the salt, and other chemicals. Yes, the young monkeys do learn by mimicking, even by mimicking humans. A much more interesting activity of these monkeys is that they have learned to catch a ride on the roof of passing trains, where they ride to the next village, and there raid the fresh market, then catch the next train back to home in Loburi.
Nukleng, Umphang, Thailand

Paper Monitor

13:36 UK time, Monday, 16 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In the Times, homage is paid to the "cult" TV series, The Wire. The paper's television critic Andrew Billen - perhaps spurred by our Office Evangelist musings - explains to readers just exactly what is so good about the programme.

And all credit to the evangelising Mr Billen, he manages to do so without giving away any significant plotlines - a common problem many late-comers have to deal with when in the company of aficionados of a show like The Wire.

For anyone who thought the clan Myerson story had gone on for as long as it possibly could, Times's T2 manages to squeeze yet another cover story out of it. No interviews with Mummy, Daddy or Master Myerson this time, it's all about the drug at the centre of the story - skunk. Can this story really be stretched any further?

After the record-breaking success of Friday's Comic Relief, the event's organisers can now sit back and relax, having raised £57m for charideee. Amidst all the current economic doom and gloom it would seem to be a positive ray of sunshine.

Or not, if you're a certain Sunday newspaper columnist. Rod Liddle, in the Sunday Times, describes the UK-wide fund-raiser as the "self-congratulatory, fascistic smugfest, Red Nose Day". Ouch.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:15 UK time, Monday, 16 March 2009

"I dream of going to the place where the novel is set, in Le Yorkshire beaten by the wind" - A French teenager gets into Wuthering Heights.

The series of novels that provided the basis for the recent vampire flick Twilight has apparently generated interest in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. In French known as Les Hauts de Hurlevent, sales rose 50% last year and are going mad this year.
More details (the Times)

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