Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Capsule: It started with Swap Shop

Which of course begs the question, 'what did?'. The supposed answer was 'Saturday morning kids' TV'. As it happened, there was myriads of other answers, which the course of the show revealed (Thursday 28 December 2006, BBC 2).

For one, it most graphically revealed that, however we disguise it, yesterday was definitively slower and duller. And yet, in many ways, more attractive. Adult Noel dominated, but it was in the flashes of his younger self that he looked more, well, fun: quieter, humbler too. He, though, definitely compared well with what's on offer today: Chris Moyles meeting Noel was a symbolic passing of the torch to a coarser, less pleasant age (not forgetting that Radio 1 is, spiritually, the golden thread that runs through all kids TV).

Of course this was a rewrite of history, hence why despite Live and Kicking, Going Live supposedly as part of the mix, they were a small chunk of what was essentially a Swap Shop lovefest. It did also mean that the summer season was forgotten: whatever happened to the 8.15 From Manchester, for example? And sex, tragedies, alcohol and personal wildernesses were all glossed over.

If we are to extended brainpower to deconstructing pop culture, and it is noble, necessary and right to devote heavy thinking to light and ephemeral subjects, we should at least do so on some agreed basis of shared truth, rather than truthiness - or the exercise is uncomplicated nostalgia. Which isn't worth the effort at all.

The genre of 'kids TV' that was extended by Swap Shop did get some meta-level analysis, through the presence of Lenny Henry, although it mostly, caustically, showed up the quiet, church-like nature of SS as compared to the anarchic nature of ITV programming, which seduced large swathes of the audience away. Auntie Beeb never did crack the fact that kids like to be badly behaved as well (while their Dads liked something to ogle at), both factors which ITV enthusastically capitalised on through SM:TV and CD:UK.

There was also the suggestion that despite the fact that kids TV remains a fabulous cutting-teeth-ground, with an amazing amount of brain power expended upon it, the intelligence that was once displayed on it has largely disappeared, or been displaced, to somewhere like Bebo, no doubt, or even to YouTube where kids are making their own TV.

And who can blame them? For what came through as clear as a bell, is that as much as the broadcast mistakes, the swearing are fondly remembered, so are the marketing opportunities. The programme was actually a celebration of commerce, disguised as a celebration of childhood. The ongoing death of public service broadcasting, and its corollary marketisiation, means that if a programme such as Swap Shop were to be revived now, the producers would naturally have to charge a finders fee or somesuch on swappers. No revenue stream can remain untapped.

Alas. Nostalgia, irony and eBay killed Saturday morning kids TV. The past isn't sepia toned; it's primary coloured.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Commercial: My own Orange ad, sort of

Here's what's happens when you have a toy as seen on TV, and not enough space on the SD card on your phone. Won't be joining the ranks of Fallon anytime soon then, obviously enough.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Culture: The audience at La Scala

There's an argument to suggest that all audiences at all cultural events should behave in a similar fashion to this:

The booing in Milan came first from the loggionisti, those in high, cheap seats who know their opera better than the beautiful people who either pay much more or nothing in the stalls and boxes.

They are the people who make La Scala the operatic equivalent to the Coliseum in times of their ancient neighbours to the south. A good gladiator will be lauded to the lavish ceiling, a bad one will be condemned without mercy. These aficionados are often alone, sitting pensively; they tend to stay in their seats during intervals, maybe flicking through the pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport, one of Italy's three football dailies. And their seasoned, expert disapproval of Alagna's rendering of opera's equivalent of an Abba hit was too much for the tenor's ego. As he left the stage, he shook his fist towards the audience.

Taken from Ed Vulliamy's profile of Angela Gheorgiu and Roberto Alagna in The Observer, 17 December 2006.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

26 round-up

The ever-growing pulsating beast that is 26, and its various offshoots and projects, just keeps on, um, growing. To whit, these three pieces of evidence:

1) Recommendations for December from the newsletter

2) Various reviews of some of said offshoots and projects can be found here

3) Currently in the works for the New Year is a children's book project involving students from the London College of Communication (and possibly Faber). One of the writers is Mike Reed of Reed Words, one of this parish's favourite wordsmiths. He and his collaborator on the project, Alec Strang, have set up a blog where they (and we) can track their progress through creation of the book. Consider it the literary equivalent of the lifting the bonnet up.

4) Fellow Common Grounder Lorelei Mathias has asked me to pass on these words from a friend of hers. Frankly, it makes you very glad not to be on the market:

A word of advice to the men out there: do not use the word 'gusset' on any form of first date. Ever. There is no excuse.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Run, Awika, run!

Secret Santa is rarely this much fun:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Listorama: Least used rail routes in the UK

South West Exmouth-Barnstaple

South East Ryde-Shanklin; Brockenhurst-Lymington

Wales Cardiff-Maesteg; Machynlleth-Pwllheli

West Midlands Paddington-Hereford

East Midlands Nottingham-Worksop

East Anglia Marks Tey-Sudbury

North West Oxenholme-Windermere

North East Saltburn-Bishop Auckland

Source: Strategic Rail Authority, via The Observer, 17 December 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Commercial: It's Pop, It's Art

Last Christmas I Gave You My Art is the latest of the 'pop-up' shops that you can find in London town at the moment (currently getting the most coverage is the Reindeer noshery in Truman Brewery). It's done by those clever chaps at Airside, as part of their It's Pop It's Art project, and it really is groovy.

At the shop, on Earlham Street in Covent Garden, one can get screenprints of various lyrics rendered in what in the future we will call the 'traditional Airside' style. At the moment it happens to be limited to those artists who are on or published by EMI, but hopefully other labels will get into Airside's bed soon. (And if we can get Wilco's 'Spiders [Kidsmoke]' up there, then I will fish out some cash.)

The shop also stocks other Airside goodies including badges, mugs and some limited editions of their handmade Stitches.

As well as the general loveliness of the design, look out for the tone of voice used in the descriptions. For example, of Indeep's 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life', they lament:

Included here for it's uplifting pop sensibility and its unadulterated good times message. We're only sorry that we couldn't draw the bass-line.
Hurry! as the shop closes on New Year's Eve, and is well worth a mooch round. If you can't make it, then to the Airside shop with you post-haste.

(And BTW, who knew that Airside were also gallerised at the Walker now too?)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Penguin in kidnap shock!

Shocking footage has come to our attention:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Guidance (2)

As quoted by David Ogilvy in Ogilvy on Advertising, an old classic which is still very much worth a (re)read:

"'Most good copywriters', says William Maynard of the Bates agency, 'fall into two categories. Poets. And killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end.' If you are both killer and poet, you get rich."

Sunday, December 10, 2006


courtesy of Charlie Kaufman, from a few weeks ago in The Guide:

As Kaufman told me in an interview soon after Being John Malkovich appeared, if you start a script knowing where it's going to end up, then you've already failed. The Robert McKee story-structure approach needs to be thrown out. The Buñuel/Kaufman method - every new scene a hard-left turn into the dizzying unknown - is the only true path to originality.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Commercial: Round up

1. Match Day: Many many props to Mark and Steph for this lovely package that found its way to Stanmore this week. It's joyous. I'm already adrift in a world of Bradford Park Avenues and the like.

Match Day

Your can purchase your own at Amazon, and there was a sample in The Guardian a few weeks ago.

2. Probably the best consumer warning in the world, thanks to clurr:

Adults take note: Pony comes unassembled in box with head detatched. You may wish to not open the box around your children if they may be frightened by a box with a decapitated horse inside.

You can see the product that prompts such a warning here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Humble pie

or the lack thereof, afflicts of some of the pieces in Common Ground, according to the Telegraph's review last weekend. Including then one about Barnes.

At what point can one legitimately ask someone to go back and read Metroland, to discover that the big-headedness in 'Manifest Promise' does actually have a point when commenting on the piece?

Still, good for Christmas stocking filler-ness.

Reading yesterday was a veritable trundle to the far northern reaches of Chesham. Review when Justina writes it; photos maybe sooner.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Commercial: Ahahahahahahahahahaha

Yesterday, at Ofcom's conference on Communications and Convergence: Challenges for 21st century Digital Economies, James Murdoch of BSkyB said this (as sourced from Reuters):

"The triumph of the free market surely indicates that broadcasting should be more like other industries...In recent years, the direction has been absolutely clear: the private sector does more and the state does less.

"Not in the case of broadcasting, at least in the UK. Indeed, the UK's main state broadcasting agency, the BBC, famously fantasises about creating a 'British Google' -- and wants the taxpayer to fund it.

"This is not public service; it's megalomania."

That's James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, accusing someone else of megalomania.

I hurt my back when I fell off my chair laughing.