Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Boston Red Sox win the World Series (and muggins here finally gets some sleep)

On Sunday night, the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series for the second time in four seasons. I had a bit of an Eastern Standard Time week, staying up to watch five consecutive Bo' Sox victories on Sunday in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, on Wednesday and Thursday for Games 1 and 2 of the World Series at Fenway, and on Saturday and Sunday, for Games 3 and 4 in Denver. Highlights included Dice-K's wind-up wiggle on the mound, Pedroia's lead-off homer in Game 1 of the World Series, Papelbon throwing out Holliday at first, Dice-K's two-run single in Game 3 (not bad for an American League pitcher), Jacoby Ellsbury's consistent on-base percentage and Gonzalez speed, Lugo plucking that one out of the air at short-stop, Kielty's pinch-hit homer in the only ball he faced in the World Series, and Mike Lowell and Youk's consistent brilliance. Big Papi and Manny of course continued to do their thing. It's a joy to watch a team reach their potential. Francona and Theo Epstein deserve a lot of credit.

I was fascinated to learn of the Boston bullpen's rhythm section, which was first featured in Game 7 of the ALCS at Fenway. See the video below:

I noticed it throughout the following games, particularly when Boston was at bat. Have they been doing that all season?

Another great amusement was Papelbon's celebratory Riverdance. I know everyone in Boston thinks they're Irish, but this takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call it, recherché biscuit!

But fair play to the lad: he was geein' it laldy.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Carbon Commentary, issue 4

I've finished preparing the new issue of Chris Goodall's Carbon Commentary Newsletter. Articles this week include some surprising news about the impact of food packaging on climate change, and the not-so-innocent plastic drinks bottles used by Innocent.

You can read the full newsletter here; or download the full-text PDF version here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

What's the best way to react when a camera is pointing at you so that you look real/not like an idiot in the photograph?

To find some answers, go here. Good suggestions include:
  • Clench your butt cheeks.
  • Try not to look at the camera lens, but the eyes of the person behind the camera.
  • Hold your shoulders back, stick your chin out as far as you can, turn your face so it's at a 3/4 angle, tilt your chin down a little - hence, the "MySpace pose" or taking photos from above.
  • In a group portrait (especially an informal one) people have a tendency to lean in toward the person in the center. Don't do that.
  • Think of the most hilarious and/or satisfying thing you can imagine while the picture is being taken.
  • Imagine that the camera is a child you love and smile warmly and sharingly at that child, like you're whispering "You're so cute!"
  • Try looking away from the camera at something else, then imagine that an old friend has just called out your name from the general direction of the camera.
  • If you are standing, turn slightly and rest your weight on one foot. It may feel goofy, but you will look better.
  • If you are sitting, angle to one side or the other.
  • Lean slightly towards the camera. Leaning slightly towards the camera adds interest, dimension, and a natural look to a photo. Think of having a long neck like a gazelle, and tilt your chin down just a bit to avoid the appearance of a double chin and also to prevent the camera from getting a view right up your nostrils.

I came across that when I was retracing Jenny Diski's trodden path. She mentioned MetaFilter.com in her "Short Cuts" piece in the LRB and that was the first question I followed on Ask MetaFilter.

Losing is for wankers

Subscribers of the LRB can enjoy this myth-mulching article about the origins of rugby union. It was not a soccer match that William Web Ellis disrupted at Rugby School in 1823 when he caught a football and ran with it (the Football Association and its rules weren't formed until 1863); as Jeremy Harding reveals:

"the 'dribbling game', as football was known in the old days, was not played at Rugby. Webb Ellis should be remembered not for catching a ball - this was standard practice at the school - but for running with it when he ought to have retreated. Had he done so, the opposition would then have advanced to the point at which he'd made the catch and he'd have gone on to take a punt or offer the ball to a teammate for a place kick."

The article begins with an account of the pre-match preparations at the first Rugby World Cup final between France and New Zealand in 1987. (My title comes from the ever-gentlemanly Kiwis' battle cry: "Losing is for wankers and we're not wankers!")

Also amusing is the news that players in the south-west of France refer to footballers as "manchots - a broad translation would be 'amputees'", which proponents of the English 10-men kicking game might wish to bear in mind. (There are 15 of you and you are allowed to use your hands for more than dropping the ball on to your foot or stuffing the ball up your jumper.) That said, my jibes at the England team for not putting up a fight turned out to be premature.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Inalienable truths, no. 1

Every photograph of me is a picture of me when I was younger.

(Source: adapted from an overheard conversation at dinner in Hertford College this evening.)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Carbon Commentary, issues 2 and 3

The third edition of the Carbon Commentary Newsletter, which I proof-read, typeset, and upload for Chris Goodall, was published today. You can read it here:

"This fortnight's edition covers topics as diverse as Bjørn Lomborg's new book, BT's energy efficient data centres, and the fiercely argued issues of the Severn barrage and biofuels. I look at the government's main environmental proposals in the Pre-Budget review, saying that Air Passenger Duty will probably remain in its current form. In an article on the problems that the Advertising Standards Authority faces in holding back the tide of half-true green advertising, I confess to complaining about Ford advertising of its Flexi-Fuel cars, only to get hopelessly bogged down in science I barely understand."

You can read the second edition from 1 October here:

"It looks at questions as diverse as UK consumer behaviour, the prototype Ceres Power domestic CHP boiler and climate modification by geo-engineering."

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Jeremiah was a bullfrog

Another YouTube gem. This Sky TV advert featuring a cool cartoon cat, along with the Phil Collins Dairy Milk gorilla, is my favourite advert on TV at the moment. (I'm sick of seeing the same old ads repeated during the Rugby World Cup on ITV.) The track is called "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night.

While I was scouting around, I found TV Ad Music.co.uk, which is a nifty way to name that choon.

Oh, go on then! Here's another. The track from the Saab 9-3 ad is "Through Your Eyes" by Nina Kinert:

Candy Mountain Charlie

This is a slow-burner, but if you watch it a few times, you will find it works its magic on you. It reminds me of those crappy cartoons and voices the makers of South Park produce. "We're on a bridge, Charlie!"

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Time and the Art of Living

I read a joyfully thought-provoking and optimistic essay by Roman Krznaric today on "Time and the Art of Living". I posted my comments about it here on Roman's blog, Outrospection. I hope it will change my attitude and behaviour towards time; I am already thinking differently about it. The essay mentions the Long Now Foundation, which I mentioned in my post on "Event Horizon" by Antony Gormley. It was a privilege to be able to speak to the author shortly after I'd read the essay. I have the urge to recommend it to lots of people, but I know we sometimes resent when other people tell us what we should be doing with our time and what we could be reading. So I'll just leave it here, slid slightly towards you, on a table in the middle of the Information Superhighway.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Death Proof (2007) - ickleReview (DVD)

Quentin Tarantino film made in the style of 1970s "grindhouse" B-movies. In Austin, Texas a gang of girls drive to a bar, talking. At the bar, they talk some more. A tee-total stranger, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), appears to be following them. He drives a black stuntman's car that is supposedly death proof. He tests this out on the gang of girls. An insane stunt crash follows, complete with instant replays from multiple camera angles.

Fourteen months later, Stuntman Mike tracks another gang of girls in Lebanon, Tennessee. They talk and drive. One of them, Zoe Bell, playing herself (Uma Thurman's stunt double from Kill Bill), wants to test-drive a car. Stuntman Mike chases them. A crazy car chase sequence ensues.

Although the dialogue doesn't really go anywhere, it's still fun to watch. There's an odd anachronistic bent to this film with the 1970s soundtrack and 1970s fashions but a modern-day setting. The title sequence and production values imitate the grindhouse style: the film stock is deliberately damaged, reels appear to be missing or cut off too early, and the colour even goes AWOL for a few reels in the second half.

Tarantino drops in plenty of references to his other films (including Big Kahuna Burger from Pulp Fiction), as well as the titles of films that have influenced this one. It's a kind of film geek's filmography.

Death Proof is unapologetically violent in parts, but in a funny way. At times it's gratuitously misogynistic; but at other times it empowers its female characters.

Nugget: a queer cinematic joyride.