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Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Test Card

testcard BBC

Test card F from 1960s BBC


Hard to believe that a few scant years ago TV stations were not 24 hour affairs and that there were ‘off air’ parts of the day.  I have to admit I always found the BBC test card to be a little bit ‘creepy’. All very much of its day I guess but the ‘dummy’ always seemed a little macabre [in a ventriloquist’s doll kinda way].

Of course the test patterns were not just station ident place holders but functional calibration, alignment and signal checking devices in much the same way that printers run test prints after ink cartridge changes to ensure consistent functioning.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are actually test card aficionados and even the music from these ‘broadcasts’ now have a cult following. Unfortunately outside these fan bases the only time one is likely to see test cards these days is in the unlikely event of station signal failure?

a word from our sponsor


Was amused today to read that the Simpsons are getting a Chelsea football club makeover/strip/storyline [and of course product lines]. I guess Homer is the ultimate ‘conned’ consumer. Frankly I don’t understand why all Chelsea’s players are called Samsung? Is it some kind of family affair inbreeding? You might only guess that the team is called Chelsea due to the CFC on their socks; or is that KFC?

I suppose the first group in history to arrange a sponsor must have thought they were quids in getting paid just to display a product/company name but in the 21st century things seem to have gone too far. Adverts/promotion from the 20th century in many ways now seem rather ‘quaint’.

Perhaps the famous dictum from the 1960s TV series The Prisoner needs to be rephrased from “I am not a number I am a free man” to “I am not a number I am a branded man”!

vanishing point


One of my favourite films [must have seen it at least 50 times]. It has so many iconic moments and ‘clever’ plot ideas. The drunken murder attempt by car [you even forgive the obvious back screen protected landscape]. The drunk ‘walk the line’ scene. The ‘interrupt the auction’ scene. The famous crop duster plane chase. The escape across Mount Rushmore. The comedy. The romance [of course Cary Grant made his name originally in ‘screwball’ comedies with Katherine Hepburn]. The breath taking ‘still lives’ [the 2 strangers facing each other across an empty road in a barren landscape]. The memorable film score.

Sheer joy. Don’t make them like that any more.

1 is the loneliest number

Perhaps because they are designated as ‘public’ amenities, there is always something fascinating about the isolated signs of human occupancy/intervention? The farmhouse/settlement in the valley that time forgot [Imber village], the phone box in the middle of a desert [though it has to be the red Giles Gilbert Scott design to make it truly iconic in a UK setting], the bus stop in the middle of nowhere [Hitchcockian North by Northwest prairie stop style].


not seen

Reminded of this MP sketch by my cousin.


Fantastic photos of hidden snipers. A real skill.






This limited edition, Key to the Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes was created by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes to accompany his installation, Sanitorium, which formed part of the group show, Spirit of Utopia, at the Whitechapel Gallery (July – September,  2013).

I love the way it seems to conflate architectural plan drawings with the abstract symbols used in chemistry to represent certain types of laboratory equipment or chemical reactions; flasks and beakers of various types, effervesence, combustion etc

Room J-407

Orwell had Room 101 where your worst nightmares resided and now another such room under a different guise? Surely the purpose in the whole of human history of getting intoxicated is the breaking down of barriers and social norms [and/or in the quest for ‘spiritual’ enlightenment]? Whether at carnival or tribal sporting events or in the shaman’s hut or at an initiation or right of passage, the use of alcohol as a ‘relaxant’ is well observed/documented . So what is the purpose of this research? I doubt merely scientific curiosity. I assume  ultimately it is one of state control.


Perhaps in the future rather than a breathalyser after the imbibing of alcohol, there will be a test done before you are allowed to drink which will assess your gender/weight/metabolism/hydration state/mood etc etc and will ‘administer’ only the legally safe number of units which will only see you squiffy but not drunk.

But then maybe this fake pub will not be very different to many such establishments frequented by plastic posers and the rest of the world that is increasingly covered by wall to wall CCTV? Whilst you have to start with some test audience I think though that this research is flawed from the get go as students are unlikely to make the best  guinea pigs.


So apparently anyone that challenges someone else to a mad/dangerous drinking game that goes wrong and results in death can now be charged with manslaughter. Has the ‘developed’ world got nothing better to do than pass silly laws? Everything will be illegal soon. And no one will be responsible for their own actions as there is now always someone else to blame.


Drinking games, dares, downing pints has always been a part of a fun night out. But now you’d better be careful what you say. “Go boil your head” , “Drop dead”, “Go jump of a cliff”or a million other off the cuff remarks might see you in hot water.

bonnie & clyde

Haven’t seen this flic, and am sure it will be yet another mythologization of the duo. Whilst certainly very striking, I did find this advert in the Metro last week [minus the cigars] rather startling. As if someone would be offended that smoking is being promoted but wouldn’t mind the fact that the characters are casually splattered in blood?


A recent report highlighted that youngsters increasingly have difficulty perceiving the difference between computer game’s morals and real life. Yes that old argument again. If true is it not merely a return to more violent times and ways of life as has been the case for the majority of human history? Citizens used to enjoy a bit of public execution until relatively recently [amongst many other forms of violence and cruelty].

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