Review

52 Weeks Catch-Up

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you may have noticed that I’ve fallen behind on book reviews.
At the turn of the year, I started a commitment on another website, to read at least 52 books over the course of the year. The idea is that, with so many easy distractions – televisions that can record entire series to watch at the viewer’s convenience; a whole internet full of articles on every subject, written in sizes that can be digested in ten minutes – sometimes it’s important to arrange the time to read, as a little more effort is required.
In addition, I’ve been intending to review all of the books I read, partially in order to keep in the habit of writing, partially in order to think about why I like or dislike the stories I read, partially in order to advertise my reviewing abilities to anyone who’s interested.

However, I’ve fallen a little behind the schedule of a book a week in reading, and quite far behind in reviewing. I’ve reviewed six books so far, (one of them reviewed on another site) and am currently reading my fourteenth book. (I know, way behind schedule…)

I have made notes on each book after reading, and I intend to catch up soon, in addition to other things here on the blog and elsewhere. For the moment, here are the books I’ve read this year, with links to those reviewed:

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Ghost by Robert Harris

Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov

Up Pohnpei by Paul Watson

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Nemesis by Isaac Asimov

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Catching Fire (Hunger Games 2) by Suzanne Collins

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I intend to get back into the groove of reviewing as I read, so I can do so while thoughts are fresh in my mind. There will be exceptions – obviously some of the thoughts I’ve had on the two Paulo Coelho books are interlinked, so I’ll review Veronika first, to pass on the thoughts I had in the order that I had them.

Hopefully by the end of June I’ll be up to date, provided other things don’t get in my way.

FootballOpinion

The Later Lower League Week

While the English football season is over for most teams, there are still the matter of the playoffs, an FA Trophy final, economic troubles, Paolo di Canio possibly doing a racism, and several teams putting in early preparations for next season.

The penultimate Lower League Week went up at Born Offside yesterday.

FootballOpinion

This Week in the Lower Leagues…

The football season is drawing to an end, but there’s still a few more games left, with the teams who didn’t quite achieve glory getting a second shot through the playoffs.
There have also been off the field matters, with preparations for next season underway at Preston, and Port Vale on the verge of a buyout.

I cover all that and more in The Lower League Week – Submitted on Time Edition

Egotism, FootballOpinion

Been a Bit Distracted

It’s been a week since I last posted, but I’m intending to write more in the coming weeks.
First of all, there’s been one BornOffside link I’ve not posted. Last week’s Lower League Week was a double edition, focusing on the conclusion to the Football League season, and the Conference playoffs.

This is where to find the Lower League Fortnight – Dramatic Endings Edition

Meanwhile, I’ve been intending to do more in terms of analysis, thoughts on various programmes/films, and general silliness, which hopefully should arrive in some form in the next couple of weeks.
I’ve been working on a script for a deadline next Monday, so after that, I should be able to find the time to write something worthwhile for the blog!

Comedy

A.A. Gill is A.A. Gill-iant

Today I’m bringing in a guest columnist, who is totally a real person and definitely not myself writing under an incredibly transparent pseudonym. As his views are out of step with what he terms ‘the mindlessly politically correct age’, he has asked to be able to hide his real name. Instead, I have assigned him a handle.

The Hateful Misanthrope’s Column

Recently, the masterfully wise AA Gill has pointed out the obvious fact that Mary Beard, presenter of Meet The Romans is too ugly to be on television, to which she, not knowing her place, has replied.
In case you’re not aware of AA Gill, think Jeremy Clarkson, only instead of cars, obsessed with being posh. And slightly more in love with himself, if that’s possible.
In the past he has described the Welsh as

“loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls.”

Fantastic! That’s the kind of negative-minded vitriol I can get behind! What a man! What a mind!

Gill has said that Beard

“should be kept away from cameras altogether.”

And only right as well.
When I watch television, I don’t want to be educated. If you put something on the television which implies there are things out there that I don’t know, that makes me feel less intelligent. Instead, I prefer to assume that I know everything there is to know, and despise anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.

I don’t care if her face is warm and open, and helps convey her enthusiasm for her subject. That’s not what television’s for, and that’s not the point of women. Samantha Brick has got the right idea, she realises that the point of women is as decoration, and for us men to fantasise about. Television is about fantasies – the men and male characters on screen are for us to fantasise we are, and the women are there for us to fantasise about being with.
I often watch Bear Grylls, in order to fantasise about what it would be like to live in the wild. Mary Beard is not the kind of person I wish to be, and I certainly don’t wish to be WITH her, so why have her on television at all?

I’m now going to counter the obvious argument you’ll throw at me. You see, that’s how much cleverer than you I am – I can anticipate your argument and counter it before it’s even left your lips. I’m dead smart, I am – like Gill, Simon Cowell, or Piers Morgan.
Media types will talk about USPs, or Unique Selling Points. They will argue that being a Professor of Classics at Cambridge, or whatever that dreadful woman is, means she has access to a level of knowledge on her subject which very few can match.
Well, I say tosh.

I say that, regardless of how much knowledge and insight a person has to offer on a subject, they should be judged on their skin, hair, and clothing.
MEN run the world, and run it badly. That’s the natural order of things. Women are on this Earth to bear our children and keep the Human race going until our inevitable self-made annihilation.
Any woman who tries to learn things, (or any man who tries to run things competently) is going against the natural order of things, and should be knocked back.
Instead of having Beard wandering about the remnants of Rome’s Empire, perhaps they could have hired a reality TV star or daughter of a celebrity to ‘investigate’ something she knows nothing about, but which is obvious to the rest of us?
Maybe Amy Childs or Stacey Dooley ‘investigates’ Roman ruins, comes to realise that people must once have lived without central heating, and cries about how awful it must have been to always be cold.
She could go on a ‘journey’ that would be emotional and cathartic to the plebs, and would allow the rest of us to laugh at her and feel superior.

Samantha Brick, whose skin-deep obsessions fit her  into my ideal of how a woman should act, has argued that

“While there is no denying that Ms Beard is a supremely intelligent and fiercely ambitious woman, there is absolutely no chance of her becoming a successful broadcaster in prime-time slots on flagship TV channels.”

Exactly! There is absolutely no chance of her getting the sort of success she’s recently achieved.

She then compared viewing figures of Mary Beard’s Meet The Romans show to that of The Hairy Bikers’ Bakeathon and The 70s, which are completely fair, like for like comparisons.
I am hostile to learning, so I can’t be sure, but I assume that people will be alive who can look back fondly at Meet The Romans in the same way they do to nostalgia programmes like The 70s.
And any show which has the word ‘bakeathon’ in it’s title must be as intellectually challenging as a detailed historical programme. It certainly won’t the kind of personality driven tosh which often functions as background noise, which people drown out 55 minutes of the hour, before noticing a particularly beautiful looking meal and asking each other if they saw how it was made.

Ms Beard (I assume that no-one could marry her, for who could find her enthusiasm, intelligence, energy and warmth attractive enough to override the fact that she doesn’t wear nail varnish?) should be thrown off the air, and it is only right, in my brilliantly insightful and clearly correct opinion.

Comedy

Strangest Search Terms – November to April

One of the features of the WordPress dashboard is a list of the search terms that lead to the blog.
This means that if a search term brought you here, I can tell what you typed into Google, Yahoo or even Ask.com. Of course I could tell what you wanted anyway, as I’m an internet based telepath, but it’s interesting to see the terms people have used.
I’m planning to steal an idea I’ve seen over at 101 Books, and look at some search terms that the blog itself wasn’t able to match up. I’ll do what I can to help some of the people who were unfortunate enough to wash up on my shore when they had somewhere else to be, and try for a cheap laugh at some of the stranger terms.

no audience

No joke, this is one of the highest search term leading here. If it wasn’t enough that I don’t have much of an audience yet, I’m apparently most famous for not having an audience.

chinless people

Strange, but there’s always going to be one or two slightly unusual phrases turn up. Probably just a one off.

chinless

Oh.

michael bay is awful

I’m actually on the first page of results for this. Strange, I would have there’d be a lot of people talking about Michael Bay’s awfulness.
A tip for anyone looking to increase the number of hits to their blog – think of phrases you’d think would be fairly common, use Google to find the ones that aren’t, and use them as tags.

samantha beck daily mail

If she’s apparently trying to make a fortune out of being a windup merchant, saying the most outrageous things, I’m glad people are getting her name wrong. And I hope people continue to get Samantha Dreck’s name wrong.

did samantha brick

I’m afraid I don’t know, did she?

walking dead star trek

I’d not thought of it before, but that would make a great crossover. I’ve they use the current, young cast, they’ll have to give Scotty a cricket bat.

lego german men

What makes them German, specifically? Given the colour that they come in, I’m just glad people aren’t assuming they’re Chinese or Korean.

hartlepool united tall girl -ships

This seems like it’s two or three searches that got mixed up together.
A hint – delete the previous search before typing the new one.

chinless zombie

Not this again. Is this some sort of racial stereotype? Because if you’re a racist googler, I don’t think that racism’s very nice.

is warwick davis a jerk

I don’t think so. He was playing a jerk in Life’s Too Short, but seemed too nice to pull it off.

bananas behaving badly

Do they ever behave well? You turn your back for five minutes and they go all mushy.

chinless man

Okay, I’m going to deal with this.
Even though the people of NATION may look ridiculous, grouping them together is a little offensive. Yes, they do have that trait that is more developed than in people of other nations, but they are still people, and I’m sure there’d be one or two of your traits that make the same impression on them. One of the traits we, as outsiders, associate with the culture of NATION, in addition to their lack of chins, is their excessive spending/young workers in sweatshops/having stiff, unexpressive faces, but that doesn’t make them zombies.

https://noonebutabloghead.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/journalist.jpg

That’s a very specific search.

lego man sodger

I named my lego men with random sounds when I was growing up as well. I had a king Roshaff and a soldier called Elmff. Elmff took off his hair and put Roshaff’s crown on, and no-one could remember which one was which.

boyfriend chinless

Just because he’s your boyfriend, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to be (possibly) racist towards him.

awkwardness of sex

Should I be glad that whoever this was got here, or worried about my reputation?

tescos promotional mix

Is this their equivelant of Woolworths’ Pick n Mix?

there is still doubt

Or is there?

lego man in space moves web

Is this a really low-budget scifi epic? Perhaps our hero has to battle a giant spacespider, who has spun a web that’s trapping Earth’s spaceships inside. Can the spacemen overcome the nefarious Spacespiders, or will they conquer the Earth? Den den dern!

wooden lego man

Part of me thinks this may be two sentences combined. What’s that you say doc, I have to use a wooden leg? Oh man!

best crossbow for the money 2011

I love the thought that there’s people wanting to buy outdated and horrifically dangerous medieval weapons, but who still want to spend their money wisely.

are plumbers needed in qatar for the world cup

I don’t know, but if they were, looking on a random WordPress blog would be the best place to find out.

smokink pauos lesbies kom

I can’t be certain, but three of those four words appear to be potentially dirty words spelled badly. Did someone’s search for porn end in disappointment?

smokink lesbies pauos kom

If at first you don’t succeed, rearrange the exact same words, and try again.

no man but a bloghead

That might be someone searching specifically for me! I’m humbled, but also a little reluctant to believe.

chinless brit

Really? We’re still doing this?

essay valley of fear sherlock holmes

I think someone wanted their homework done for them.

wich order to read the sherlock holmes books

I’ve read the novels first, and then the first short story collection. The wikipedia page has the dates of publication if you’d prefer to read in order. But other than Moriarty, who I think appears twice, and some mentions of Watson’s love life made in passing, they’re all stand alone stories, so pretty much any order works.

suits eternal law noonebutabloghead

More than one! I’m popular!

“satire is often described”

Yes, I’m sure it is.

why do cats stare out the window

Why do raindrops fall downward?

“rachel’s arms” “ross”

If I ever own a pub, I’m going to call it The Rachel’s Arms.
Well, I probably won’t, but I’ll recall the time it seemed like a good idea.

warwick davis nice guy?

Warwick Davis yes nice guy.

caroline aherne email address

I’m afraid I don’t have that, but I do have her phone number. Will that do?

spaceship with no background

That’s the way you want them. If your spaceship comes with a background, it’s as good as useless.

lego man killing man

Did he jump down his throat?

a rap about the queen of england

That sounds awesome.

warwick davis seems nice

I thought so as well.

pretty article

Unfortunately there’s only ugly articles here. And lots and lots of links.

in what year is the valley of fear set

Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories are set around the end of the 19th century, and early 20th, though I’m not totally sure on the years.
Holmes’ section of the Valley of Fear is set before Reichenbach Falls, and there’s a flashback section within the story.
So in short, I don’t know.

what happen when log into a domain

I recognise those words as vaguely internetty, but I’ve got no idea if that means anything. Sorry.

over thinking song lyrics

Does this count as a search for me? Unfortunately there appears to be a song called ‘Overthinking’, so probably not.

samantha flirt at work

That sounds like a line of a really inappropriate children’s book – ‘Flirt at work, Samantha, flirt at work!’

first meeting of the fa satire

Is this a request? There’s definitely potential there.

i liked eternal law

So did I!

where can i get the italian football lower leagues

Italy seems a good place to start?

warwick davis is an asshole.

No, we’ve already agreed he’s a nice guy.
I like how the searcher googles in complete sentences.

“why men wear panties”

This is worrying.

i will stand on my ground even you try to out me down

You might have been searching for Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’?
If so, the line is apparently ‘I will stand my ground, and I won’t back down’.

women looking throw the window

Throw it! Take it out and throw it!

mother of all inventions mockmentary

That mockumentary is here, but doesn’t seem to be very highly rated. Does sound like an interesting idea though.

“also like to draw your attention towards an interview on born offside with mark mcallister, the ‘video coach’ for”

What an oddly specific search. As a coincedence, I happen to have written a blog entry using that exact phrase!

stare at the window

Don’t stare out of it, stare at the glass itself.

keep calm and kill zombies

Always good advice.

hunedoara castle wikipedia

Apparently this is the home of Dracula. I don’t know how you got here, but I’ve learned something today, so thank you.

protagonist of the valley of fear

That would be Sherlock Holmes, or Jack McMurdo, if you’re looking for the slightly less well known protagonist.

favorite lower league english football teams

First of all, it’s good to see Americans show an interest in the English lower leagues.
And to answer your question, that would be Hartlepool United. They are everyone’s favourite lower league English football team.

liamneeson really on twitter

I don’t think so, but based on that documentary he did with Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis, I’d really like to hear his comedy stylings.

travie mccoy on the voice 4/3/2012

I’ll have to make sure not to watch it then.

chinless person

And with that, I think I’m done.

FootballOpinion

Hodgson’s The Choice

I’ve written a piece for BornOffside about Roy Hodgson, who has this week been appointed as the new manager of the England football team.

If you’ve not been following the England national team in recent months, you’ve probably been driven less close to the edge of sanity than me. Here’s a brief rundown of events.

  • In February, Fabio Capello, England’s experienced Italian manager, hugely successful in club football but with a mixed record in charge of England, resigned.
  • The national sporting press immediately responded by assuming Harry Redknapp, the manager of Tottenham where he has done a more than decent job, would be the next manager. The FA said nothing, nothing at all, to confirm this, but the newspaper speculation talked as if it were a formality, only mentioning other possibilities in passing.
  • Harry Redknapp is considered popular with the press – being social and helpful when it comes to sharing his thoughts ahead of matches, potential player transfers, and so on, allowing the press to appear insightful. Unlike Redknapp, Roy Hodgson has managed in various different leagues, and managed three national teams, two of them very successfully – Redknapp has managed only in England.
  • The press have been reporting Redknapp as ‘the people’s choice’ as England manager, despite a number of people preferring Hodgson, Alan Pardew, or Guus Hiddink, among other foreign options.
  • On Sunday, the FA announced that Roy Hodgson had been approached to take the role, wth no other candidates being interviewed.
  • The British sporting press reported this, essentially, as ‘Harry Redknapp Not Offered England Job’, and frankly haven’t been very dignified about it.
  • During Hodgson’s formal presentation to the media as manager on Tuesday, around half the questions he was asked were about Harry Redknapp.

Here are my thoughts about Hodgson’s appointment.