BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 30, 2011 - February 5, 2011

10 things we didn't know last week

16:16 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

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

1. Mark Zuckerberg has watched The Social Network
More details (WSJ)

2. Chewing gum can be used to make counterfeit keys.
More details

3. Parrots are left and right-handed.
More details

4. The average hug lasts three seconds.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5. Angry tarantulas kick tiny, stinging hairs off their bodies at predators.
More details

6. Good cops are better at getting confessions than bad cops.
More details (Daily Mirror)

7. One in 10 of the world's adults is obese.
More details

8. Chimpanzees grieve.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

9. A water flea 2mm long has 50% more genes than a human.
More details (The Times)

10. Graffiti existed in the 19th Century.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

I would like to emphasise that the word "sexier" is a relative term.
Colin Main, Luton, UK

Re: "New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air". That is, or course, if you ignore the fumes from the thousands of cars. trucks and taxis...
Ann, Orpington

Paper Monitor doesn't merit a wikipedia page, but Magazine Monitor does? Envious, much, PM?
HelenSaxon, London, UK

Close enough?
Natasha, London

Subtle, PM. Very subtle.
Kaylie, Runcorn, UK

Re: Thursday's Paper Monitor, Heston Blumenthals new restaurant, Nothing very original about eating pigs ears. Over here they (and tails)are commonly served boiled, cut up & eaten as an appetiser, tasty!
Ian William Johnson, Paris, France

I'm 100% certain I will be the only person to point this out, so feel it is my civic duty to do so... Mike (Thursday's letters), have you tried folding this magazine? My LCD screen made some funny patterns when I tried.
David, Cannock, UK

Caption Competition

12:57 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it's Chinese New Year celebrations in Beijing. It's the Lunar New Year of Rabbit.

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

6. Bradmer
Waiter, there's a hare in my troupe.

5. BeckySnow
Exercises at the Duracell bunnies retirement home

4. Ade
In a surprisingly gruesome ceremony, Beijing revellers celebrate Chinese Year of the Fox.

3. clint75
The new women-linesmen uniform was designed by Andy Gray.

2. leannespencer
Hugh Heffner's search for an Apprentice continues...

1. Vicky S
Suspicion grew that Mr and Mrs Bunny had deliberately ignored the One Child Policy.

Paper Monitor

11:52 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Where should we start today? That's a rhetorical question of course. There is only one place to start and that's the Speaker's wife Sally Bercow posing "sexily" in nothing more than a sheet for a magazine shoot.

It gets a front page spot on the Times. And there she is on the Daily Mail. But the Sun screams: "I love bonking under Big Ben." It's all a bit much.

Turning to the very serious news from Egypt, and other pockets of instability in the Middle East, and there's no such silliness in the coverage. Or is there?


Both the Sun and the Mail delight in showing a shot of a protester in Yemen with bread rolls taped to his head, as a form of protection against projectiles. The Times also has a montage of Egypt protesters with headgear including plastic bottles, a cardboard box and a dustbin lid.

But if you do want serious discussion where else should you go than the Times's letters page. Today's big topic is unmarried couples' rights, but there's also a letters page classic, in defence of Esperanto.

It meets the remit of a newspaper set out by a letter to the editor in the first edition of the Times [then called the Daily Universal Register] in 1785.

"Though the usefulness and necessity of newspapers must be admitted; yet how incoherent and pernicious have several of them been? What heterogeneous mixtures have they set before the public? A newspaper may be considered as a political salmagundy [a salad featuring cooked meat, seafood, fruit, leaves and nuts] or a feast furnished to suit every palate."

At the other end of the spectrum today is the Daily Star's Text Maniacs. There is serious debate. Tony ov Cov says: "Re NHS, forces' penshunsm police cuts et: dictator Cameron n co shud luk at Egyp etc n c the UK duin the same 2. REBELLING!"

But the letter writers also cover social issues, such as Zoe, Preston saying: "Can you buy chocolate covered pretzels anywhere? Used to love them, but can't find them so have to improvise with pretzels and jar of nutella!"

And in one final note, there is much in the papers about Kate Moss marrying Jamie Hince. Paper Monitor is surprised to note that he is insufficiently famous to merit his own entry on Wikipedia.

Although that may not say much as Paper Monitor does not have its own entry on Wikipedia.

Your Letters

13:56 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Anyone for a game of Bing Pong?
Rahere, Smithfield

All my heroes seem to be passing on. Firstly, it was film composer John Barry, and now Margaret John from Barry (well, she was in Gavin and Stacey). If I were rugby player Barry John, I think I'd be quite worried.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Re: The financial muscle story. My Brain: "Don't read it, Don't read it, Don't read it." *reads it* Darn it. I really want to host the World Cup too.
Sarah, Manchester

Ian in Paris, (Wednesday's letters) - can you name a magazine that doesn't fold quickly?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

As a name, I think "Gut" is good (Wednesday's letters), but that is just about where I live...
Joel Horne, Hamburg, Germany

Jan (Wednesday's letters), I didn't realise it was only the Sandwich research centre which was closing. In this case, I would like to offer my services at a vastly reduced price. Well, down to work. Salmon amd banana - no; cheese and tomato - yes.
Graham, Purmerend

Paper Monitor

11:13 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Feeling peckish? A new restaurant has opened and the morning papers have reasoned that you might like to know what's on the menu.

That eatery is not, of course, some humble provincial bistro but Dinner, owned by that proud bearer of three Michelin stars and purveyor of snail porridge Heston Blumenthal.

True, a minority of Fleet Street's readership will find its location at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London's Hyde Park especially convenient, and ever fewer will be prepared to fork out £12.50 for a starter.

But Blumenthal is a celebrity chef, and the celebrity part of that formulation means Britain's top-ranked gastronome is guaranteed coverage.

For the most part, the food critics are impressed.

Mark Hix of the Independent says he was served up "the best meal I've had for at least two years", reserving particular praise for the "genuinely astonishing" starter - a "meat fruit", which looks like a mandarin but is, in fact, filled with chicken liver mousse.

Matthew Fort of the Guardian is keen that readers appreciate his dedication to the craft of restaurant-reviewing.

"Over two sittings, I tasted virtually all the 25 dishes on the menu," he declares. "I turned to puddings with trepidation after eight courses."

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. Thankfully, Mr Fort was apparently rewarded with a fine meal; Blumenthal's menu, which celebrate the UK's culinary past, "reclaims and reinvents our own cooking heritage, reinvigorating the tired and ordinary orthodoxies of traditional British cooking," he says.

Jan Moir of the Daily Mail, however, finds less to love about cockle ketchup, pig's ear stew and roast marrow bones.

"Heston Blumenthal's interpretation of the dishes of merrie old England is a brilliant and original concept," she says. "Yet eating at his new restaurant remains an interesting experience, rather than a delicious one."

Paper Monitor is sure Mr Blumenthal will not be too offended. In his column for the Times, he says he took inspiration for Dinner from historical recipes which included such instructions as the addition of "a small bigness".

With such elliptical guidance to follow, he is unlikely to be too troubled by the more prosaic siren calls of the daily press.

Your Letters

14:14 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I am amazed at the restraint shown in the reporting of the closure of Pfizer's Sandwich research centre and how they have not been able to keep the Viagra plant going.
Jan Podsiadly, Croydon

Re: A tale of two censuses, 1911 v 2011. I'm not happy about the intrusive nature of some of the questions this year. Equally, I'm not happy about the prospect of being fined for telling fibs. I think I'll take a road trip on the night of the census.
Heather Kavanagh @BBC News Magazine

Re: Film invasion of the Super-Brits. I don't think anyone gets too worked up about Brits playing American roles anymore. If they can do an American accent properly, and are right for the role, good for them. Some of your folks are brilliant in our shows and films. I saw Jonny Lee Miller in a shortlived series called Eli Stone, and then I saw him in Emma, at which point I told my sister that his British accent sounded quite good to me. I then learned it was really that his American accent had been excellent.
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Getting into Oxford? I use Park & Ride.
Diane, Sutton

Is this an example of a recursive news story? To paraphrase: "Crime maps website crashes because millions of people see it on the news and try to view it (click here to view it)". I'll get my (I'll get my (I'll get my (coat))).
Ian Merchant, Derby

Sue of London (Tuesday's letters) thinks that "Gut" is a strange name for a magazine? In France a year or two ago they brought out a lad-mag called "Guts" which, unsurprisingly, folded quite quickly
Ian William Johnson, Paris, France

Paper Monitor

11:06 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Say what you will about the Daily Mail but it's very rare to find a mistake.

One half imagines that subs have a mortal fear of being caught mixing up an "its" and an "it's", spelling "fazed" as "phased" or misspelling manoover manoeuvre.

But there is one today. On page nine we have the tale of - brace yourself - Rachel Johnson's first Brazilian wax. Johnson, in case her self-promotional talents have not caught your eye, is the sister of Boris.

The prompt for La Johnson's hair removal decision was her shock and surprise that her teenage daughter Milly - 16 according to the story - had had the same procedure done. The Mail helpfully includes a large picture of both parties, fully clothed Paper Monitor would hasten to add.

Rachel was rather perturbed by Milly's decision, worrying it signified submission to a "pornographic aesthetic". But she decided to try it herself. And write a piece for Vogue.

And for that we salute her. No family quandary or dilemma should be out of bounds to the freelance journalist.

For the record, Johnson says the experience was "strangely... comfortable... I couldn't believe how painless it was".

Of course, the Mail is suffering great pain. So much so that six pages later on 15, columnist Sandra Parsons writes about the same story.

But for Sandra Parsons, Johnson's daughter is 15, not 16. And on the Mail website story Milly is 15. So it looks like the news story was wrong.

As Paper Monitor receives an early edition of the paper the age may very well have been changed later. But it's sad for the readers of the early editions as the outrage quotient would be higher if they'd known the girl was 15.

But the real fluttering eyebrow is that Rachel gives her 15-year-old daughter her credit card to use. Is that wise?

Over to the Sun and there's continuing disquiet over the very large amounts of money paid for football players (largely indirectly funded, it must be said, by the Sun's cousin company BSkyB).

But the Sun has had a laudable idea. It's promoting an Oxfam effort to take all the unwanted Liverpool "Torres" shirts and Newcastle "Carroll" shirts and send them to children in Africa. As Torres's Liverpool No 9 shirt was the most popular Premier League shirt in the world last year, that's quite a few.

But then underneath, the paper highlights this chap.

Ah joy.

Your Letters

15:09 UK time, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Re: this, I'm sure that sooner or later I'll get an email asking for my help - and bank account details - to smuggle it out of the country...
Colin Edwards, Exeter

Robert, Glos, UK (Monday's letters). Don't worry, first they will need characters with more than two dimensions and plot-lines with more than one. I'll get my weasle and stoat.
Ray, Turku, Finland, European Capital of Culture 2011

Do any of the pictures in this story qualify for your "striking images from around the world" feature?
Allan Jenkins, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hmmm, GUT magazine: sounds like a riveting read. Best read when sitting on a toilet, I imagine. Or a stool...?
Sue, London

Five ways to get to Oxford - the A34, the A40, the A420, the A4074,the A4260...
Ellie, Oxford

Is this an example of a recursive news story? To paraphrase, "crime maps website crashes because millions of people see it on the news and try to view it (click here to view it)".
Ian Merchant, Derby

Paper Monitor

11:29 UK time, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There are two things you don't usually find on the front of newspapers. The first is a football transfer story, and the second is an editorial.

The Sun's got both today.

The sale of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea for £50m and the subsequent move of Andy Carroll from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35m are splash fodder.

But the really notable sportsman on the front page is anonymous.

A Sun editorial rues the fact that this sportsman, alleged to have had affairs with two women, cannot be named.

The paper goes further inside bemoaning the secrecy offered to "proven love rats" and compares the behaviour of this particular sportsman to a "dung hill rooster".

A lot of people will not have a granule of sympathy for the Sun - believing that reporting tittle tattle is not in the public interest - but the paper does make a serious point.

It notes that those who cannot afford lawyers cannot dream of securing one of these injunctions.

Returning to the transfer story, and the Independent's i edition has a telling account of a news meeting led by editor Simon Kelner. The fact even the Archers-loving, football-disregarding news editor Vicky was interested/appalled proved that it should lead.

In the Daily Mail the news version of the Torres/Carroll story is under the pithy headline: "Soccer's £130m V-sign to the age of austerity". The paper gleefully recounts Carroll's sundry past misdemeanours.

There's a bit of a hats-off to the Mail though for a headline on page 13. It's a story on a dog controversially taught to do a Nazi salute for a German TV production. Headline: "Furred Reich!".

And speaking of the art of the headline, Michael Rosen's Word of Mouth on Radio 4 had a peek into the world of the Sun sub-editor.

A mine of great headlines, including "Lipstick on your Corolla". This is what happened. Man. Icy weather. Car door keyhole frozen shut. So he blew on it...

Your Letters

16:30 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

I am sooo relieved by this from the click story on 3D viewing. .... but I can't imagine seeing EastEnders in 3D anytime soon."
Robert, Glos, UK

I must point out to the Daily Mirror (Paper Monitor, Monday) that correlation is not necessarily the same thing as cause. The PM also sent a good luck message to the victorious, Ashes winning, England cricket team before they left these shores.
Howard, London, UK

So, someone we will have heard of, but can't be named for legal reasons, is in a relationship with someone that we may or may not have heard of, but can't be named for legal reasons and may or may not be having a sexual relationship with a person we probably haven't heard of, but can't be named for legal reasons. Although we can't confirm this for legal reasons.
MCK, Stevenage

StuKP (Letters, Friday) you should have enough faith in the BBC not to fall prey to the old Reliant Robin/Robin Reliant confusion. I'm sure the wording of that headline was coincidental and not wordplay on a misnomer!
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

If 1,000 feet is "just a little slip" to Adam Potter I would hate to experience a real fall!That is one dedicated optimistic mountaineer!Phew got vertigo just thinking about it...away for a lie down.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Does a narrow social elite run the country? Yes - she's called The Queen.
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

If Tony Blair never had a mobile phone as prime minister (10 Things), how do you explain this article?
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

How to Say: The Scottish mountain

14:43 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Jo Kim of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

A climber from Glasgow amazingly survived a 1,000-foot fall from a mountain peak near Ben Nevis and was featured in the news this past weekend.

The name of the munro, the term for any Scottish mountain that is at least 3,000 feet high, is Sgurr Choinnich Mor. We recommend two pronunciations for this munro as both can be widely heard amongst locals, Scots Gaelic speakers and Scottish-English speakers.

1) SKOOR KHON-ikh MOR (-oor as in poor, 1st -kh as in Scottish "loch", 2nd -kh as German "ich", stressed syllables in upper case)

2) SKOOR KOYN-ikh MOR (-k as in king, -oy as in boy, -kh as in Scottish "loch")

1) is closer to the original Scots Gaelic pronunciation and 2) is the common English pronunciation used by Scottish-English speakers.

To download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling, click here.

Paper Monitor

11:43 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When a Briton loses a major international sporting event - the type of event no Brit has won for the last 75 years - whose fault is it? Their fault? The crowd's fault? Your fault? Paper Monitor's fault? No, it's Prime Minister David Cameron's fault.

The Daily Mirror says the "curse of Cameron" has struck again. Apparently, his thrashing by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open is because Mr Cameron sent a message wishing him good luck. The prime minister sent him a message before the final last year, which he lost.

He also sent a good luck message to the England football team during the 2010 World Cup, and we all know what happened there. Even before his time in Number 10, his curse was up and running, says the paper. Lewis Hamilton was "doomed" in the Brazil Grand Prix in 2007 by a Cameron message of support and England's rugby team in the 2007 World Cup. The paper has a message for him:

"Please Dave, at the 2012 Olympics and David Haye's next title defence shut up!

The Times isn't looking around for someone else to blame. It sets aside the whole of page five to pick apart at great length what Murray did wrong. Simon Barnes goes right for the jugular:

"Murray has the talent to play better but could not use it. That is the really ferocious thing we have to face - that he is not very good at playing grand-slam finals. It's a fair crucial defect in someone we hope will become the first male Brit to win a grand-slam singles final for 75 years - or, if you prefer - the first Scot."

The Independent watched the match with a Scottish fan, who was court side at Melbourne Park. It notes that Linda Tront's cries went from an enthusiastic "go on Andy, you show 'em", to the rather less sympathetic "get a grip, you big sook". Paper Monitor is reliably informed by a Scottish colleague this means "cry baby" or "mummy's boy" north of the border. But the paper predicts Murray's fans will stick by him. Mainly because "what else have they got?"

Does that make you feel a bit better Andy?

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