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Category archive: Television

Thursday November 19 2015

Rather as a politician, when sacked, pretends that he has resigned to spend more time with whatever is left of his family, when a cricketer gets the elbow from the national team, the selectors always now say stuff like this:

James Whitaker, the national selector, said: “Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future. It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series and we felt that it was the right time for him to take a break and spend time working on his game out of the spotlight.

Outstanding player.  More to offer.  Take a break.  Work on his game.  Out of the spotlight.  And sometimes, it’s even true.  After all, Compton and Ballance are both back.  But the difference is age.  Compton and Ballance are still quite young.  Bell is at that age where he is either good now, or not.  He doesn’t have a potential big decade to offer in the future, just one or two more years right now.

Bell’s problem is that he has always been the kind of player who can make a good team better, but he has never been the kind of player good enough to make a bad team good.  And even when he was playing really well, which he did from time to time, you kind of didn’t notice.  He was never a “game changer”, merely a pretty good player, who sometimes did really well, and sometimes not so well.

Talking of bellends, for several years now the comedians on the telly have been using this, to me, peculiar expression, to describe people they are not impressed by and are inclined to mock.  But only now, wanting to add something to this posting, did I learn that the bellend is the head of the penis.  Which presumably makes the bell … Blog and learn.

Tuesday November 17 2015

So there I was, in the bath I think it was, listening to the cricket in Dubai, and Agnew mentioned what sounded like a rather interesting photo, of a very tall cricketer called Mohammad Irfan, being interviewed.  The particular fun being that Irfan is very tall, and both the interviewer and the cameraman are standing on boxes:

Agnew mentioned that he had seen this photo on Twitter, and that was enough of a clue for me to find it (scroll down to Nov 15 until you get to the bit where it says: “Love this pic of Irfan being interviewed") very quickly:


Bonus: another photographer in the shot.

More and more, the world is following me, in no longer wanted to exclude other photographers from its photos, but instead to include other photographers.

Monday November 09 2015

The German conductor Herbert von Karajan probably did more to popularise classical music after WW2 that any other single person.  His LPs and then his CDs and DVDs sold in their millions.  I have many Karajan CDs myself.  So, the question of whether he was any sort of Nazi and if so what sort remains a hot topic.

Playwright Ronald Harwood, author of a play about Wilhelm Furtwängler, was recently interviewed on BBC4 TV.  During this, Harwood mentioned, in contemptuous passing, that Karajan was obviously a Nazi.  Furtwängler was interesting because it wasn’t clear, hence that play.  Karajan?  Not interesting, because clearly he was.  He hired a Jewish secretary after the war.  What more do you need to know?

Well, I for one needed to know a bit more than only that, so I did some googling and came across this by Peter Alward, former vice-president of EMI Classics:

I first met Karajan in 1976, and we remained friends up to his death. He was one of EMI’s flagship artists in the late 70s and early 80s; most of his operatic work was for us, his symphonic work for Deutsche Grammophon. Yes, he cultivated the cult of the maestro - he was a shrewd businessman and recognised his market worth. He was not slow in coming forward and speaking his mind, but no conductor is a shrinking violet. I feel he was misunderstood. There was the glamorous image - the jet-set lifestyle - but this was all a defence. He was really very shy, a simple man with simple tastes. I vehemently oppose the theory that he was a Nazi. He was an opportunist. I’m Jewish, and if I believed otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent a minute in his company.

Opportunist sounds about right to me.  Karajan, like all conductors, needed power, over an orchestra.  Needing this sort of power, he had to avoid antagonising whoever the politicians were, the ones with the more regular sort of power.  But he did not care about politics for its own sake, merely as a means to the end of his music making.

Trouble is, you can surely say the same for a great many other servants of the Third Reich.  I bet plenty of rocket, airplane, tank, bomb and ship designers were equally opportunistic, and equally free of any positive desire to be Nazis.  But whoever happened to be Germany’s politicians, these people would have served them.  All they cared about was rockets, airplanes, tanks, bombs and ships.  Classical music was not as important to the Nazi regime as armaments were, but it was quite important.  Karajan did help.

The most interesting titbit I learned from this little burst of Karajan-googling was that apparently his second wife, Anita, whom he married in 1942, was burdened with a Jewish grandfather.  But hKarajan wasn’t merely “burdened” thus.  He burdened himself.  Wikipedia:

On 22 October 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Karajan married Anna Maria “Anita” Sauest, born Gütermann. She was the daughter of a well-known manufacturer of yarn for sewing machines. Having had a Jewish grandfather, she was considered a Vierteljüdin (one-quarter Jewish woman).

Just marrying a quarter-Jewess, before that was dodgy, is one thing.  Being a celeb and marrying a famous heiress with a famously rich and half-Jewish dad, and doing all that in 1942, is something else again.  That’s more than just hiring an entirely Jewish secretary after the war.

When I read about such people and about such times, I don’t feel inclined to condemn.  I merely wonder how I might have behaved, or misbehaved, had I been confronted by such pressures and such temptations.

Sunday October 18 2015

I’m talking rugby, not life.  If you came here because of the above headline but care only about life, relax, the Northern Hemisphere is safe.  It isn’t being culled.  It is merely that the Northern Hemisphere’s rugby teams haven’t been doing very well in the Rugby World Cup, which is now taking place in England.

Watching Ireland lose to Argentina had me conflicted, as they say.  On the one hand, another Home Nation succumbs to a Southern Hemisphere monster.  But on the other hand, England don’t now need to feel quite so bad.  Wales knocked out England by a whisker, and that was disappointing.  But England, Wales, and now Ireland, all got beaten by Southern Hemisphere sides.

And if Scotland do anything different against Australia in the last of the quarter-finals, about to be played, it will be a major upset.

England merely got the same bad news just the one game earlier.

Which means that, unless Scotland have entirely failed to read this script, the semis will be NZ v South Africa, Australia v Argentina.  These four teams have their own tournament every year, in their own stadiums.  Now, they are having another such tournament, in England.

As for France, well, they have done almost as badly as England, and perhaps worse.  They beat their minnows, as England did.  But, like England, they lost very upsettingly in the group stage to a home nation, Ireland in their case, and they were then completely shredded by the All Blacks.  Many neutrals had hoped for a repeat of 1999 or 2007.  By the end, even the humiliation of NZ only winning by one mere point in 2011 was expunged from the record.  This time around, the margin was: 49.

John Inverdale told a good joke after England got beaten by Australia 13-33.  He was in a taxi afterwards with a couple of England supporters, and one of them said: that was as bad as 1066.  Not really, said the other.  It was only 1333.

But 1362 (the year of the battles of Brignais and of Launac (blog and learn)) is quelque chose else again.  And if an All Black hadn’t dropped the ball just as he was about to score yet another try right at the end, it would have been 1367 or 1369, years in which other things presumably also happened in France.

LATER: Scotland have NOT been reading the above script.  They now lead Australia 34-32 with five minutes to go.  In-obscene-present-participle-credible.
But, penalty to Australia.  They lead 35-34 with a minute to go.  End.  “Southern Hemisphere clean sweep”, see above.

Saturday October 10 2015

I feel an orthodoxy developing.  Former England rugby international Austin Healey:

For now, let’s postpone the period of introspection and focus on maintaining what has the potential to be the best World Cup ever. Even with the final few pool matches to be played, it has been the best tournament in terms of attendance and the overall quality.

There you go.  We may be crap at playing these games, but we invented them all, and we have lots of great stadiums.  We know how to organise a game, even if we can no longer play it.

Plus, we have lots of immigrants from everywhere on the planet to come and cheer for everyone taking part.  We do tend to hate and fear foreigners quite a lot, especially in large clumps, but not as much as the damn foreigners do.  Which is what passes for friendliness, in the world now.  And these are not the kind of foreigners who want to live here in huge numbers of one nationality, and to corrupt our women and steal our jobs and defraud our welfare system.  (None of that applies to England’s football fans, who seem to be about two percent scum of the earth, which can rather spoil things.)

As for me, I find that I really am enjoying this jamboree.  I am enjoying all the pent-up anger of England’s anti-Lancaster tendency (I like to think of them “Yorkists"), who have been biting their tongues for the last few months, but who are now letting it all spill out.  Their ire seems mostly concentrated on Lancaster’s dithering and bizarre selection decisions, which have indeed seemed peculiar even to an ignorant onlooker like me.

Also, freed from the torture of hope, I find I am settling down to enjoy the rugby.  This afternoon’s game, for instance, is looking like an absolute belter.  As of now, with the clock having just past 35 minutes of the first half, it stands at 23-23.  Correction, make that 26-23, to Samoa, against Scotland.  Next up, Wales v Oz, and then England v Uruguay.

In the latter game, if all goes well, England will capture that vital third place in the group spot, and thereby qualify for the next World Cup in Japan.

Thursday September 24 2015

The platinum blonde woman who sings the introductory song sounds very unmusical and strangulated to me.  When she sings “A new age has begun”, it sounds like “Anewwayjazzbeegun”, with no breaks between words at all.  Very peculiar.  I now learn that I am not the only one to be unhappy about this singing.

My first observation of the actual rugby: lots of handling errors.  My impression is that the balls are bigger, fatter, lighter, bouncier, a bit like balloons.  So, when they hit your chest they don’t just stick there, they bounce off your chest and you’ve dropped it.

How good were Japan?  Yes, very good.  But.  But.  How bad were South Africa? Very, very bad.  There is a back story there, which the television commentators I am hearing seem extremely anxious not to discuss.  It’s all: the mighty Boks.  Apparently, they haven’t persuaded enough black men to play rugby, and racial quotas are deranging and demoralising them.  “Political football” etc.  Lawrence Dallaglio mentioned this stuff once, in passing, speaking of them “falling off tackles” (I think that was the phrase).  Of not really trying, in other words.  Other than that, nothing.  Japan got totally stuffed by Scotland yesterday, 45-10.  Okay, the Japanese hadn’t had much of a rest.  But even so, a bizarre result, unless Japan beating South Africa was at least as much because South Africa were bad as because Japan were good.  Scotland v South Africa might be … very interesting.

I really like London’s new Olympic Stadium.  Whenever I saw it before, it contained the 2012 Olympics, and I hate the Olympics so much that I couldn’t see how very nice the stadium is.  Now I can see this.  I think I now prefer the inside of the Olympic Stadium to the inside of New Wembley.  The only interesting thing about New Wemley is the big arch, seen from the outside.  That’s terrific.  One of London’s great new landmarks.  But the inside of New Wembley, which I have actually visited in person, is very dreary.  But maybe I was just in a bad mood, on account of it being football, and on account of this idiot jumping about in front of me whenever anything faintly interesting happened, so I had to either get up off my seat to see anything, or remain seated and in ignorance.

England look okay to me, but okay presumably won’t be enough to win.  But then again, most other teams seem only okay also.  Except the All Blacks of course.  How will they contrive to lose this tournament, I wonder?  They usually seem to find a way.  Last time around, they did win, but only by one point.

Wednesday September 16 2015

Now, some more pictures from that fabulous day out at the Oval, which was over a week ago now.

This time, it’s adverts.  The crowd was, as already discussed, sparse.  It was sparse because the game was played on a Monday, so that Sky could fit it into its schedule, but because Sky were present, the adverts at the ground packed an extra punch.  I assume that a cricket club like Surrey has people who obsess not so much about cricket as about money, and it must be good news on the money front that all these adverts were to be seen on Sky TV.

You see adverts in lots of the photos of and television coverage of sports events, but it isn’t much talked about.  Neither are all the empty seats that so often occur at sports events nowadays, particularly cricket matches.  But, these pictures focus attention on all the adverts I saw at that game, by cropping out everything else.

Click on these adverts, and you get the original pictures from which I extracted them, which mostly also feature a lot of empty seats:


An odd effect of what I did here with all these adverts is that the more money you spent on your advert and the bigger and wider and more noticeable your advert was, at the Oval, the thinner it now is on BMdotcom.

Life can be cruel.

Saturday September 12 2015

The day I spent at the Oval with Darren last Monday was enjoyable for me in so many ways.  I am now definitely considering becoming a Surrey Member myself next season, a snip at just under two hundred quid.  Seriously, that’s how great a day it was for me.  But it was not quite the day that I had been expecting.

The thing was, Surrey had, after many disappointments in the recent past, finally been promoted just three days earlier.  Half way through the game against Derby, the reportage was all about how well Derby had been doing.  But the Surrey first innings tail did not so much wag as flail like the tail of a crocodile, and then the Surrey spinners polished Derby off on day four, to win the game by an innings and plenty, with several hours to spare.

So, last Monday, I was expecting the Oval to be seething with boisterous celebration.  But once the game began, I soon realised that this was not going to happen.  The place was that far from being deserted, and looked even more sparsely populated from where Darren and I were at first sitting, what with the bulk of the Surrey support being below us and out of our sight.

The thing about last Monday was that it was on a Monday.  And why this game, of all games, on a Monday?  A semi-final of the annual 50-50 county tournament ought surely to be staged at a time when regular people can show up to watch it, shouldn’t it?  So, why wasn’t it?

The answer of course is: television:

image image imageimage image image

That’s Gary Wilson of Surrey striding off at the end of the Surrey innings (they batted first), doing a great job of pretending that the TV guy who is poking his huge camera in his face just isn’t there.

These are not the kind of pictures of cricket that you usually see, are they?  Usually, you see only the sort of pictures that this TV guy himself is taking, not pictures of him.  He is not supposed to be part of the story which he is, so very obtrusively, helping to tell.  Yet even the very day on which this match took place cannot be explained without reference to that TV guy, and all his mates.


That’s a picture, taken moments later, of Sky TV discussing that Surrey first innings with Notts fast bowler and recent England Ashes hero Stuart Broad.  What did Broad say?  I don’t know.  I wasn’t watching this game on my telly.  I was merely there.

But why Monday, rather than Sunday or Saturday?  I mean, more people watch the telly at the weekend, surely.  Well yes, they do.  And Sky TV did indeed show the first semi-final on Sunday.  (Yorkshire, crowned only days later as the 2015 champions of the four day game, were beaten in this first semi-final by Gloucester, with surprising ease.) So, why not the other semi- between Surrey and Notts, on the Saturday?

Because on Saturday, Sky TV were showing the second England v Australia ODI, and there would be no point in Sky buying both those games if they had happened on the same one day.  So, the other semi- got shoved over to Monday.  The schools were back at school.  Workers were back at work.  But, television rules.

image image

So this was mostly an Old Geezer day, from the live spectator point of you.  But, despite all those empty seats, this particular Old Geezer had a terrific time, not least because of all those TV cameramen whom I was able to take photos of.

I promise nothing, but I do now hope that there’ll be a whole lot more to follow about this marvellous day out.

A day in BMdotcom heaven (2): Surrey v Notts was played in front of a live studio audience
On clapping in between movements at classical concerts
Don’t mention The Wires!!! in South Korea either!
It begins (badly)
Cats and cricket – cats and drones
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
Ed Smith on sporting maturity – Burns and Henriques collide – Secretariat and his jockey
England crush NZ (and Surrey beat Leicester)
Two Lady covers
The view from outside Waterloo Station
Goodbye KP?
First test against NZ – first day
“The temptation to pre-order one of these is almost unbearable …”
Big 4
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
Not squash
Is rugby the new squash?
Hot dog shadow selfie
Early tries by my guys
The “colorful and curvilinear forms” of Herr Hundertwasser
Headlights with cleaning brush
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom musical quote of the day
Confirming my String prejudices
A Sunday ramble
Quota selfie from 2006
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Brazil 0 Germany 5 after forty minutes
My favourite Tour de France in London photo
Will England get lucky?
Last night at my place
0.080519 would still have beaten 0.074163
Go Chef
Cricket news: Surrey win – IPL – The Big Wosname
Homer Simpson on Thames
Well that’s a relief
Libeskind doing the saw cut style in Ontario
Omaha dead
Faberge - Brutalism
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
One new thing (an IPS screen) makes me want another new thing (also an IPS screen)
Slightly wider tube trains
How hydrogen bombs work
Strange yellow train on the underground
Friend on telly
Quota videos
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
BMdotCOM insult of the day
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Six Nations joy
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
“No one has to know!”
Ryan wins
Some more presidential debate prophecy
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
AB-solutely fabulous!
Rainbow Bridge
Shard even nearer to completion
The England rugby aftermath
France beat England
England squeak through against Scotland
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
Thrashing India
Natalie Solent at Biased BBC
Adam Curtis skewered
Today there is cricket and there is cricket
Friday link dump
Release Ai Weiwei
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
“Things appear almost impossible to escape from …”
Meaning in sport
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom mixed metaphor of the day
Female cows in TV advert shock
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Nice try
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
Another senior moment
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
To Serve Man
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Cricket technology and its imperfections
The names people choose for their children are strange
Obama raises the price of tanning
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
The age of multi-channel television
England beating Australia – Germany beating England
Curse you Friends Provident t20
I love television
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
I flipping told him
Muralitharan and Hayden carry on doing badly
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
IPL on ITV4!
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
List of popular misconceptions
You had a hard disc?  Luxury!
Cricket talk tonight
An after-echo of the creation of the world - Burgon recycles Milhaud
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Giant Bean covered in mirror
American video
Gordon Brown dithers about rugby - cricket’s on the up
Barney Stinson on how gay marriage will encourage regular marriage
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
Jonathan Meades on city planning
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Hislop fluffs the rhyme
Labour down – silly parties up
Photographers in bother
Mrs Billion Monkey doesn’t want to catch swine fever!
France falls in love with Hugh Laurie
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Indian Premier League trumps test cricket
Angleterre formidable - France merde - Italy crap
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
On being sold a telly
Jennings did it
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
It could be a rather small funeral
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
More random links
Keeping up with the NFL
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Four Minutes
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
There’s only one way to find out!  Fight!
England sinking fast
Dongling at Michael’s
This and that on the Graham Norton Show
A thin bridge in Wales
Not the same thing
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Televised insincerity
Rock and roll will die very soon!
On the perils of recording to your TV hard disc at the midnight hour
“It’s only a parable!”
On the nature of the evolution argument
Vaughan steps down
Never mind the telly
Cricket misery
Nigel Kennedy’s amazing Elgar
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Posting at Michael’s
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Pietersen not humbled
A poetic Hornby
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Bird’s Nest in smog
I predict that Germany will win
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
“If only it were true …”
Eurovision sense from Squander Two
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Bowlers who look like actors
Avoiding barbarism in the street
Ting Tings on Ross
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
They play a lot of snooker in China – and in Essex
Voting for Boris?
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
Head Men need to be a bit wrong in the head
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Tower Bridge in the blue grey afternoon (and Jenny Agutter obviously did it)
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion
Watching paint dry at the end of a Six Nations game
Lizzy Bennet tells it like it is
Pianists conducting themselves
Paris Hilton and the Something Else First rule
The great DVD packaging clearout
Billion Monkey murderers!?!
The economics of Jonathan Ross
The Lord is watching
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Here it is Merry Christmas
Probably not right - but definitely written
The qualitative difference made by quantity
Gadget question
Not actually all that dramatically
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Ramprakash at his level of competence
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
A surprising outburst of truth
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Toy train to Darjeeling
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
Old gits at the Oval – and Shane Warne
Cricket blogging by me elsewhere
“What do YOU think?” - “More -isationisation!”
Islam was peaceful and tolerant until the Christians attacked it
Very small screen – high resolution
Just making conversation
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Four Nations still in it!
Clever old Catt
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Displacement photo of Billion Monkey!
Newsnight Review – one at a time please
That Rooney goal
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Empty football stadiums on TV
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Me on internet telly this evening with Andrew Ian Dodge
Telly on computers
Refuting decimation
Caught on camera
Me on 18DSTV
Male cows do not have udders
Do the Lib Dems just tell everyone what they each of them want to hear?
Me on the intertelly tonight
Down by the river
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
What to do about intrusive mobile phones
One click
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Sleeping fire
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
Very amusing person alert
County cricket - great and not so great - and what to do about that
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
Young People models for Old People
Sergei Khachatryan plays Shostakovich Violin Concerto 1
Another phone glitch
The internet is creating new video stars
Wafa Sultan
Disaster in Paris
Blogging takes a back seat
Only a game
Those little big things that you hate
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
“And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed”
More ancient rock and rollers photographed from off of the telly
What it was only better
The Superbowl is live on the telly!
The animal spirits of Six Nations
Talking about my generation
Dye hard
Pink and green Richards
The Elgar/Walker piano concerto and the future of “classical” music
Where are all the posh real men actors?
Rylance’s Richard II – and how Richard II pre-echoes Lear
Rylance’s Richard again
I know that guy!
The new stand at the Oval
David Zinman – Thomas Adès – Howard Shelley
Machines to record digital TV
Photographing the TV
Bromwell High is very good