Category Archives: Literature


While I’m on the subject of ideologues ignoring facts, this thread over at the Website of the obnoxious Local Schools Network is both informative and entertaining, unlike the article that started it. One of Andrew Old‘s contributions late in the debate says much of what I think about most quack educationalists in two paragraphs: And […]

The Great Typo Hunt

Incensed by a “no tresspassing” sign, Jeff Deck launched a cross-country trip to right grammatical wrongs. He enlisted a friend, Benjamin D. Herson, and together they got to work erasing errant quotation marks, rectifying misspellings and cutting unnecessary possessive apostrophes. The Great Typo Hunt is the story of their crusade. Like this:Like Loading…

“Darth Vader Robs Bank”

That’s how everyone is reporting this. But it’s clearly Chad Vader in the photos. I can only conclude that all the people with sufficient discrimination to know this are at Comic-Con 2010—where, incidentally, the latest trailer for the Tron Legacy, featuring a digitally thirtysomethingified Jeff Bridges has been shown. Like this:Like Loading…

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

Sarah Palin is a phenomenon: Sarah Palin is a singular national industry. She didn’t invent her new role out of whole cloth. Other politicians have cashed out, used the revolving door, doing well in business after doing good in public service. Entertainment figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and even Ronald Reagan have worked the […]

Sounds of silence

Via Slashdot, here’s an abstract of a study of graffiti found on the walls of the Joseph Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, performed by a member of its IT staff. You can also browse the full dataset, including photographs of the inscriptions made available under a Creative Commons licence. The take-home messages (as […]

Son Of English Teacher Resists Using Name Of Austrian Modernist Writer In Blog Post About Interminable Bureaucratic Torment

For the past four years, I have been involved in a dispute with a utility company over a sum that ultimately amounted to several thousand pounds. The company will remain nameless here because, today, thanks to the intervention of the relevant government watchdog, we finally settled without having to go to court. It is a […]

Super Brontë Sisters

As Dickens himself once wrote, this is both the baddest and the bestest thing ever: eighteen quid buys you one hundred classic works of literature for your DS. Devoting a nearly quarter of the content to Shakespeare’s plays is a bit of a cheat, though. That’s like padding out a collection of scores from great […]

Let’s Saint George!

While I’m on a Radio 4 kick, I heard Mark Lawson interviewing the soon-to-be-stepping-down Andrew Motion and Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, on Front Row yesterday evening about the appointment of the next Poet Laureate. Apparently, although they were quick to say it wouldn’t be a TV talent contest, there’s going […]

Of Superior Quality

Wongablog has pictures and text from The Super Dictionary, a pedagogical masterpiece stranger than wearing your underpants on the outside of your clothes. Like this:Like Loading…

Credit Crunch Leads To Balance-Of-Satire Surplus

Here are two I enjoyed: Hopi Sen’s “What would Bertie Wooster do?” and The Daily Mash’s “Government takes 60% stake in Al-Qaeda”: The prime minister said : “We must ensure that, as an institution, it continues to provide a useful, ongoing threat without actually blowing things up.” The Daily Mash is a free online site. […]

He Came From Planet Bathos

Some might question my claim to geekhood on the grounds that I have never read Tolkein or Herbert. Frank Herbert’s Dune is frequently described as the best science fiction novel ever. Over the past few weeks I have been reading a little bit more of it every evening before going to sleep. Whatever else it […]

Jewish Comedy Timing

INTERIOR. KITCHEN. JEWISH MEDIA FRIEND L IS PREPARING DINNER FOR POOTERGEEK. POOTERGEEK: Like I said to [JEWISH WRITER FRIEND C] and [JEWISH WRITER FRIEND J] about [UNFUNNY JEWISH WRITER], being a Jewish writer who isn’t funny is like being black and having no sense of rhythm. JEWISH MEDIA FRIEND L: Were they offended? POOTERGEEK: Why should they be? [PAUSE] JEWISH […]

The Book ‘Em Prize

In an effort to push through an extension to the number of days the police can detain you without charge (if you are suspected of being a terrorist), the government—sorry: “Gordon Brown”, because all current and future legislation is the work of a single overbusy Scotsman—is suggesting that it will compensate innocent suspects held under […]

Hasta la vista, Aunty

OPRAH: I’d just like to say what a great privilege it is to have you with us on the show today, Barry. BARRY: Thank you, Oprah. I’m so grateful to God for my good fortune just to be here, but my good fortune is all the greater for my both being here and being here […]

Jonathan Derbyshire

I’ve converted the archives of Jonathan Derbyshire’s old Typepad blog and built a new WordPress site for him at Update your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly. (You can email him at that new domain as well.) Like this:Like Loading…

Parallel Lives

It’s all over for the ‘Head On the front page of The Spectator online, Fraser Nelson suggests that David Cameron could be “the British [Barack] Obama“, which struck me as a coincidence, because I am the British Gore Vidal. Like this:Like Loading…

Gum Shoe

Mick Hartley links to a Times report of a “serious” novelist suing the proprietors of a neighbouring factory because the fumes it produced so affected her concentration that she was reduced to writing genre fiction. It’s not just a funny hook for a news story; it’s a delicious illustration of how class and status in […]

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Like this:Like Loading…

Amateur Video

While I’m recommending films, I notice that The Amateurs [aka The Moguls] is being advertised on the Apple trailer site as on theatrical release in the States. This is odd because I’ve already seen it cheaply in the UK via Amazon’s DVDs-by-post service. Perhaps it went straight to video here because it had stinking reviews. […]

Christmas Shopping

WHSmith, home of the Tragic Life Story, brings us a Great Gift Idea for Christmas: Madeleine: A most heartbreaking and extraordinary disappearance Like this:Like Loading…


When I was a kid, my two favourite comic book superheroes were The Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man. That’s the subsequent interests in biology and physics/engineering right there—not to mention their alter egos being a photographer and an anti-communist industrialist respectively. (In my own case, I was transformed into The Geek on a school trip to a power station, […]

The Temptations

Tom Hamilton complains about being spammed by Naomi Klein’s people, looking for publicity for her latest volume of designer politics. (Exactly as I didn’t with Peter Cook’s book back here, I am going to divine without reading it that Klein’s book will be rubbish.) From Tom’s comments, it seems, they also pestered Tim Worstall, Mr Eugenides, and […]

Lesson One

When I tore open the plastic envelope containing my latest copy of The Economist there was a flyer inside advertising Felix Dennis‘s How To Get Rich: The Distilled Wisdom Of One Of Britain’s Wealthiest Self-Made Entrepreneurs. If you phone the number printed on it then he’ll send you a copy of the new paperback edition […]

Published Writer

Even the Nazis didn’t put artists out of work. — Andrew Keen, author of The Cult Of The Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy, talking about the Internet, one minute into this interview The advantage of the Internet, as Keen reveals in the title of his book, is that, […]

More Happy Stuff

It’s one in the morning. About fifteen minutes ago, I got back from working hard at a delightful wedding. Thanks to Jason Hare, I’ve just read this piece by Stephen King about the joys of junk culture and listened to Petra Haden’s uplifting and progressively sillier cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. I’m grinning like […]

Unbudgeable Turkeys

Further to my post about remaindered books, Claire reminds me of Clive James’s poem on the subject. Like this:Like Loading…


An ex of mine in publishing used to hate my dragging her into remainder bookshops. She saw them as public archives of professional disasters. I love ‘em—both because they’re full of cheap, odd books and because they are full of titles that nobody wants to buy. The question I ask about many of the latter […]

The Irreligious Policemen

Not having a telly, I didn’t catch the latest from Richard Dawkins, but when I visited his Website to look for clips, I saw this photo of him: All I could think of was Michael Mann directing Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in an atheist actioner: [A convertible Ferrari screams through downtown in slow motion, reflections […]

Lightly Worn

Beachy Head[click image to enlarge it] I was eating breakfast in an hotel in Cambridge the Saturday morning after I shot that college ball. A tall, intense-looking man with a beard sat down at a table nearby. He pulled a hardback book out of his briefcase and began underlining paragraphs heavily with a soft pencil. […]

The Pathetic Bookshop

It is an important day for Britain. Since the abrupt collapse of our manufacturing base, our economy depends heavily upon fictional characters. Together, Lara Croft, James Bond, The Teletubbies, Simon Cowell, and Harry Potter now account for 43 percent of GDP. From time to time, J K Rowling dials 141, calls Buckingham Palace, and mutters quietly: “I […]

%d bloggers like this: