Archive for Entertainment

What was that Programme?

For no good reason I can think of, an episode of Dr Kildare I saw rattles around and resurfaces every so often in my brain, on a timescale of roughly a decade, but without the regularity that might suggest.

It rattles mainly because I didn’t understood it. I must have known about surfing – it was about a girl surfer and I don’t remember being all ‘do people actually do that?’ about it. I remember Kildare telling her she mustn’t surf any more, but I must have missed what the reason was. All I have is ’why not? What’s the problem here?’ Naturally, she went ahead and did it anyway, and it didn’t end well. Was that the reason? Perhaps I wasn’t used to seeing unhappy-endings at that age.

Anyway, this Digital Archive of Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 turned up. 1923! It doesn’t seem to give you any access to actual page images – none I can find anyway. The magazine ran advertisements, so maybe they don’t want you seeing what was available for sixpence from Cadbury in 1950 or something.

But they’ve done an awful lot of work reformatting the information for presentation – and searchability – on the web. Very impressive. Not that the text is always accurate – there are spectacular misreadings from the optical character recognition – but that’s only to be expected from machines.

There’s evidence that entries have been corrected by human staff members, just not very much. So your searches are going to miss things. Members of the public are invited to correct the text and to add further information about the entries. Such crowdsourcing means that the information will always be freely available doesn’t it (say yes).

The folk at the BBC even ask you if the program whose listing you’re looking at was actually transmitted. You may find their lack of faith disturbing, but obviously the magazines were printed in advance and you couldn’t reasonably predict things which might interrupt the schedules. Like Churchill dying or Kennedys getting assassinated or whatever. Stuff like that.

So do have a go and clog up those BBC arteries with millions of HTTP requests.

Oh yes – the Dr Kildare thing. I found the episode – two of them (it was a double) split over successive pre-watershed Thursdays, the 6th and 13th February 1964. It was called Tyger-Tyger with guest star Yvette Mimieux, the text for part 1 saying A beautiful girl defies Dr. Kildare’s medical warning that she must give up surf riding. Part 2’s description says In spite of her condition and Dr. Kildare s protests, surf-rider Pat continues to take an active part in the sport. Surf-riding, eh? Interesting. Hyphens even. Is that the staid BBC or is ‘surfing’ not a thing yet?

So, on the whole, I’m none the bloody wiser. But wait – now I have Yvette Mimieux and can go to her page on IMDb and – result! Petit-mal seizures would you believe?

She drowns. Thanks, internet.

Monumental Movies

Tyneside Cinema and Newcastle City are again showing free films, open air, at Grey’s Monument in the run up to christmas.

It’s a big outdoor screen with a bunch of deck chairs on the monument’s south facing (down Grey Street) steps, so if you think it’s gonna rain, bring your own protection. PGs and Us, only. No 15s or 18s of course – it’s in a public place.

If you have a google calendar, feel free to take advantage of my ical connection to get the event times into your own calendar by copying the (ical) link address.

Yore Gala

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Here’s a picture – and we know the date it was taken because it helpfully says so in the album whence it was scanned – of a swimming gala held at Tynemouth Pool on the 4th of August 1928. It was probably taken by one of my great aunts or uncles. Maybe Ethel, maybe Lily. or maybe even by their brother Henry my grandfather. We just don’t know.

We’re all goin’ …

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On the back of this photo is noted Saltwell Park, Bank Holiday 1956 – when the subject was four months old. From this scrap of information (assuming it’s correct) we discover – with a little help from google (date of aug bank holiday 1956) and a handy website, that it was August 6, 1956. If anything untoward happened on that day at least this kid has an alibi for part of it.

Here’s what the day was like (and I quote):

Notably cold, with severe thunderstorms for some.

The weather pattern was very disturbed. Bank Holiday Monday was a notably poor day – regarded at the time as ‘one of the worst on record’! The day was dominated by a cool northerly airflow (though it’s strength had eased from the previous days). There were some spectacular (& slow-moving) thunderstorms, with large hail and some 4ft (over 1m) of water causing flooding in Tunbridge Wells (Kent). The storm started mid-morning, with heavy rain and the hail started just before midday. At one point, the centre of the town was buried under a foot (~30cm) of hail-ice, with drifts of hailstones up to 4ft (~1m) deep. In other areas, 62mm of rain fell in one hour at Swanage (Dorset) & Arundel (Sussex); 80mm of rain at Faversham (Kent). The midday temperature in central London was just 13degC (c.f. the average day maximum of 22degC). On this measure, it was regarded as the coldest Bank Holiday Monday in the capital since 1880. [ This August was one of the coldest and wettest of the 20th century. ]

But meanwhile, up in the north, maybe the weather wasn’t quite so bad?

It’s also (moderately) interesting that the August Bank Holidays back then were at the beginning of the month rather than, as now, at the end.

I am a Camera

Not sure if this is what Christopher Isherwood had in mind when he came up with Goodbye To Berlin 60 years ago. His protagonist’s position was essentially as a passive recorder of things encountered. But how about actually streaming live video straight from your smartphone to a website, which anyone in the world can watch? This seems to me – for the next few years at least – to be something you’d actively commit to as a concious (though possibly spontaneous) decision.

In a few years time, when cameras are built in to your spectacles or headbands or even right into your bionic eyeballs, you may find it simpler to assume that everyone you meet is probably recording you on their own personal live streaming video channel. This should make everyone behave a bit better towards each other shouldn’t it? (Well, that’s one way of looking at the total lack of privacy).

So how easy is it right now? Turns out it’s a doddle and you can set up your phone to do it in about five minutes. And it can cost you nothing at all beyond what you’re already paying for your mobilistry.You can choose your phone from quite a large selection of them – if your phone can record video at all then you’ll probably be able to download the qik app for it.

I got it the usual way, by having my app store send me an sms with a link, from which I installed it. Then your phone camera starts and you’re invited to create an account (user name, an email address, your mob number if you like, a password) and – if you’re doing this at home (or on the move with a nearby public browser to hand) – within minutes you can see your live phone video streaming away in a little window on a website whose sole purpose is to stream your live video. To be able to do that so quickly is quite gratifying. Even just five years ago it might have been considered witchcraft by most mobile phone users.

But you might want to create your qik account first, before you download the app to your phone (but obviously this may turn out to be a waste of time if you can’t later get the app installed). If you do it that way, then you can instead opt to use your facebook or twitter account (smoke ‘em if you got ‘em). So you may not need to create yet another set of credentials for yet another web service.

On the qik website itself, you can set up your profile and connections to your blogs, to your tumblr account, to your aforementioned facebook and twitter accounts, to your youtube account, etc. “Now why would it be that it’d be that which you’d be wanting to be doing?” I hear you say in your best faux-Irish accent. Well, it’s because you can save your videos to any of those services you’re already using for sharing videos or audioboos or pictures with your extant social circle (or ring).

So when you encounter a difficult public servant or a truculent official or a cowboy builder or whatever – and it occurs to you to start recording them on video, you can be reasonably confident that even if nobody happens to be watching your live video stream at the time (which you have to admit is going to be pretty damn unlikely, who the hell do you think you are anyway – Tarantino?) your video will be posted to facebook or youtube or your blog where you and your chums can gasp in awe and point with appropriate derision at the antics of your filmed adversary. And this video will stay up on the intertubes for as long as you like.

Falling Colours

Do you remember photographic paper? I mean the old fashioned light-sensitive monochrome or chromogenic silver-halide coated paper upon which you develop images with various liquid chemicals. I don’t mean what they call photo-paper these days (e.g. for inkjet printers).

Mariah Robertson is at Baltic until the end of October.

Not for her the ten by eight print. She uses industrial sized rolls of the stuff. A meter or so wide and hundreds of meters long. The so-called ‘law’ of supply and demand would suggest that this stuff is now incredibly cheap because nobody’s buying it. Who’s doing chemical photography any more? The truth is the reverse of this (strange how often the laws of economics fail you) because of the ever rising price of silver halides. People are still doing analog, film-based photography, but they’re developing only the negatives and digitally scanning them. Use of enlargers and paper has pretty much gone.

Be that as it may, that it must cost a small (or even moderately substantial) fortune to produce these works, are you thinking of this cost when you look at the results? Clearly I cannot know what’s in your mind but I’d say not. They’re more fascinating than they have any right to be. They look mostly like accidents involving much chemical spillage, but the colours are fabulously glassy (the paper is glossy, not matte or that ‘orrible ‘satin’ finish) and radiate, emanate, in a way which my poor digital photographic record ironically fails to capture.

Mind the Gap

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So, it’s still here then. Seven months after the couple of dozen metres or so of riverside path collapsed into the river Tyne, the pile of dis-integrated bankside remains visible on your left as you cross the river by tram from Newcastle to Gateshead over the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge. There doesn’t appear to be any online information about this either at the Gateshead Council, or Newcastle Council, or the River Tyne Authority (although this last bunch might have little interest in it since it’s so far upstream from the actual port).

Here’s an interesting comment, by one ‘mikeymo’, on the Chronicle’s article:

I was with a friend when walking along the river a couple of weeks ago and noticed the ground had split opened! I even stated to my pal that it could fall into the river!! 2 days later walked along the same path and the council had patched the gap witht tarmac!! I still thought that that there could be internal damage! The council are trying to cover up by blaming vandals when thy actually sent workmen to patch it!!! Thank God I had not been out that night!!

It rather looks as if the collapse was hastened by the ‘patch’, doesn’t it? I wonder how much the repair will cost and indeed – in this economy – if it’s just too difficult to do anything about. Rebuilding a riverbank has got to be quite a tricky and expensive piece of engineering.

Here’s an idea though – they could build a flat mini-bridge to span the gap. I suggest of a thick glass, or at least a transparent polymer. Kids could have a bit of a thrill walking along it and cyclists along the Sculpture Trail might encounter an unexpected surprise. Cats (scaredy or real) – well – they could just mosey nonchalantly up the bank a bit and walk around it. Like it’s what they meant to do all along, like whistling insouciantly as you avoid walking under a ladder.

It might be quite cheap and also a tourist attraction. Just sweep the muddy rubble into the river, by the way – it could do with a bit of a re-dredge.

If you don’t trust long words – see the five letters or fewer version of this post

Just what the lector ordered

Words that ought to exist

Nay Survey

So this woman is standing with a clipboard inside the shop, which is Maplin’s, and I’m on my way out and I haven’t bought anything (but she wouldn’t necessarily know that) and she asks (yes she does), like, “Would you mind taking part in a survey?” and I say “It’s ninety pounds an hour” and she laughs and says “No thanks” and lets me go without further ado.

Yes Problem

Are you annoyed when somebody says “no problem” to you after you’ve responded with the lack of interest due to that unsolicited offer they’ve just made you? Do your eyes moisten with despair when your ordinary request – at premises specifically there to service that request – is greeted with “no problem”? Is your gast flabbered that anybody who says “no problem” to you under such circumstances does not know how rib-tighteningly inappropriate such a remark is?

Do you want to ask such people “Why would it be a problem for you to solicit my attention for something you provide in which I’ve …” either (a) no interest, or (b) an interest. Or – more briefly – “What the hell’s wrong with you?”.

If so, then you may want to calm down a bit. The phenomenon doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and may even be growing.