I'm a celebrity, get me out of here now!

'It's not "free", it's "three", "three contestants left", you fucking moron,' my wife shouts at the TV. More specifically she's shouting at the blond muppet who's presenting 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here now!' and who turns out to be called Jeff Brazier. As a presenter he'd be described as being 'worse than totally useless' except that that accolade is more fitting for his co-presenter, the tragic Kelly Osbourne.

David Gest has just been kicked out. I blame all the kids who are voting for the young people.

Here's a picture of Myleene having a shower.


Best Book: Triksta

If you only buy one book this Christmas get Nik Cohn's Triksta, it's truly awesome. This is what the blurb on the back says:

"What lunacy would cause a 55-year-old white male, neither lean nor hungry, to embroil himself in the world of New Orleans rap, not merely as an observer, but as an active participant - ideas man, talent-spotter, lyricist, and would-be producer? And why did his experience, after many tribulations, end up so profoundly joyous and fulfilling?

Nik Cohn has loved (and hated) hip-hop since its birth, thirty years ago, and loved (and hated) New Orleans for even longer. The city has haunted him from childhood, an addiction he's never wanted to kick. But nothing prepared him for the experience of being pitched, more or less by accident, into the role of Triksta, rap impressario.

A white alien in a black world, with no funding or qualifications, and not a clue what he was doing, he had to rethink himself from scratch. Surrounded by a cast-list that included such names as Choppa and Soulja Slim, Big Ramp and Lil T, Bass Heavy, Fifth Ward Weebie, and Shorty Brown Hustle, he entered a world of tiny backstreet studios, broken-down slums and gun turfs, almost unimaginable to those who know New Orleans only as the touristic Big Easy.

"Triksta" is the story of a three-year odyssey that became all-consuming - a journey to the heart of rap, and New Orleans, and self-knowledge. Hilarious, tragic, startling, and exhilirating, sometimes all at once, it is Nik Cohn's greatest book."

But more than that and one of the many things that makes this book so good is Cohn's desire to confront what he perceives as his own internalised love (and fear) of "blackness".

Worst Film: Dreamgirls

At the end of the screener we attended the woman leaving the theatre
with her friend used the word "torturous" and she wasn't far wrong.
It's not a terrible film, it's just not very good. The songs
are bland, the script doesn't help and the characters' actions
largely don't ring true or make sense.

The film does have it's moments and the first half-hour makes promises that the film then fails to deliver on. The opening set pieces, the costumes and the drama of the talent contest creates expectations of a 'Ray'-like mix of drama, music and song with great costumes. From here it's downhill with a few bright spots: Eddie Murphy's great, mugging it up for the backrow, never less than imperious; Beyonce's performance suggests she might excel at something that pushed her a bit harder and no one's musical talent is in doubt, they've just been asked to perform some pretty plain songs.

UPDATE: My wife disagrees. She says it is a Terrible film.


Best Film: La Tourneuse de Pages

I don't like knowing too much about films before going to see them. Even knowing that something is a "revenge thriller" is enough to colour my reading of a whole film so I avoid reading about films I'm likely to want to see. So how do I know what I want to see, you ask? Usually my wife will give me a few fragments to work with: a director whose previous film I liked, an actor I raved about or simply the fact that the words "Die" and "Hard" appear in the title (and in that order). I also like French thrillers of all sorts which is in part what this is. Luckily with tonight's film I'd read about it a few months ago, we'd decided we'd like to see it and finally got round to it tonight, giving me plenty of time to forget everything I'd read. So why see it? The storyline is slight but that's part of it's charm. There are no over-reaching story arcs, no big build ups, just a simple story, fairytale-like in its simplicity. That's not to say there aren't shades of good and evil and a point of view that slips between righteousness and mallace.

The music's also fantastic and a major presence in shaping the mood throughout the film, both Jérôme Lemonnier's original score and the pieces performed by the film's musicians.

These are the pieces in the film:
Dimitri Chostakovitch (Trio op. 67 n°2)
Franz Schubert (Trio op. 148 D897)
Johann-Sebastian Bach (Prélude BWV 875 en ré mineur)


Cows near the sea

Cows near the sea

On a walk to the sea in Norfolk with Damian and Yol we came across this herd of cows. There was something particularly beautiful about them in the slightly flat expansive lighting you get in Norfolk. Now, a few days later, I realise that what I like about these cows is the fact there are several different breeds and colours of cows mixed up here: brown ones, black ones, brown and white ones. All sorts really.


Camomile Lawn

Camomile Lawn

I've been entrusted with the job of selecting and scanning images from the archive for a fantastic new service that we're launching. Obviously I'm selecting images from programmes and films that I have never seen. As the images aren't screen grabs but ones that were taken by the location photographer I also have no idea whether they're actually part of the narrative or just a couple of luivvies having a laugh. Take this one for example. Obviously I chose it for the good looking women but I have no idea whether they're friends or even meet in the story. From the other stills I'm guessing there's some wartime element going on but maybe one of them's a German and the other's a Brit, who knows?