Friday, July 06, 2007

A movie top 10

I noticed over at Chicken Yoghurt that the Groan has a list of the best thousand films ever and this week the Telegraph is also asking its readers for their 100 favourites.

I'm never sure what to make of these polls or lists - there are well over a thousand really good films (hell, there are 3 passable efforts in the Police Academy series) - and it seems stupid to rank them on something as objective as "best ever". Is the Godfather better than Dr Strangelove? Is the Godfather part II better than the Godfather? Is anything better than Tokyo Story? Has anyone actually seen Tokyo Story?

I'm going to offer a slightly different list, with a narrower remit. It's close to my heart, for reasons that will be obvious, and bound to cause a modicum of debate (I hope). If you have any comments, feel free to leave them.

In no order, 10 films starring people called Christopher:

1. Superman (1978) - Christopher Reeve. You've all seen this, I won't describe the plot. Note: there is no 's' on the end of Reeve.

2. Annie Hall (1977) - Christopher Walken. Only a minor role, but probably my favourite Walken. He plays Diane Keaton's slightly mad little brother.

3. The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) - Christopher Plummer. Every film should star Christopher Plummer. This one's got him and Peter Sellars. What more could you want?

4. Best in Show (2000) - Christopher Guest. Guest directed this dog show spoof, as well as starring in it. He's one of Ricky Gervais' comedy heroes, you know.

5. Short Cuts (1993) - Christopher Penn. Robert Altman at his multiple plot-weaving best. I don't think the late Penn was in a better film than this.

6. CB4 (1994) - Chris(topher) Rock. Rap's equivalent of "This is Spinal Tap", CB4 spoofs gangsta culture in Los Angeles. As a bonus it also stars Chris(topher) Elliot.

7. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) - Christopher Lee. One of the very worst James Bond films, but at least it had a proper villain. The third nipple idea has been copied, but never bettered.

8. Shallow Grave (1994) - Christopher Eccleston. I think this is Danny Boyle's best film, a proper dark, British thriller. Of course, Eccleston is always watchable.

9. Back to the Future II (1989) - Christopher Lloyd. Another Christopher with a faultless track record, this is my favourite in the Back to the Future series.

10. The Magnificent Seven (1960) - Yul Brynner. The observant amongst you will have noticed that Yul Brynner is not called Christopher. But his character in this classic western is, and that's enough for me to shoehorn him into this list.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sports News from Canada

Portugal Too Much For New Zealand

The headline in the Toronto Globe and Mail accompanying the match report of Portugal's 2-0 win in the Under-20s Football World Cup.

Somehow I think the Kiwis will have their revenge on the rugby field when the two nations meet in that World Cup in Lyon in September.

A century and a bit of flights

How many times have you flown somewhere? How far have you travelled? How many different airports, airlines or aircraft have you used?

I flew back to the UK for the summer yesterday (Lisbon to Heathrow, TAP flight 356, an Airbus 319, seat 5A), saying goodbye to the sun and hello to snowy London (so I thought - actually the white stuff on the ground was hailstones). By my calculations, it was my 104th air journey.

How did I work this out? Well, if you really want to waste a few hours, I can recommend a website called You waste the hours by filling in the details of every flight you've ever taken: the airports (natch), the airlines, the type of plane, which seat etc. The only detail it doesn't ask is whether you were next to a pretty girl or not, but you can add a note if you want (I sat next a pretty girl coming back from Florence when I was 18. I can't remember the airline, but the plane was a Bae 146. As I suavely tried to drink coffee like a sophisticated Italian, I spilt the little milk container all over my jeans, thus failing to make a very good impression. D'oh!).

As you enter the data, the website calculates the miles you have flown and marks all your journeys a on a map (which, if you are really enthusiastic, you can order as a poster), as well as compiling all the statistics you could wish for - a top 10 list of airports, airlines, aircraft and so on.

Here's my rundown:

  • My first flight (I think) was about 25 years ago, a short hop from Southampton to Guernsey.
  • That's not my shortest flight, however: that honour falls to the 38 mi helicopter trip from Penzance to St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly in 1986.
  • My longest flight is 5,966 mi, from Heathrow to Tokyo, a trip I first made in 1997.
  • I've been to 61 different airports, from San Jose to Sofia, Beijing to Bamaga (a tiny Aboriginal community in North Queensland), although never to South America or Africa.
  • My top 3 airports are: 1 - Heathrow, 2 - Gatwick, 3 - Boston (amazingly, I've taken off or landed there 9 times over the years).
  • Overall I've flown 149,993 miles, just over 6 times round the world.

I don't know how these figures would compare to any other 29 year old, although I'm sure they don't stand up against a hardened business traveller (my dad says he's been to the States over 75 times, which is some going). But if you are interested in stats or planes, as all great minds are, you could do worse than try to work your own figures out here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Nobody doesn't like Tony Blair."

Have you ever struggled to come up with a good slogan?

Perhaps you've got a new blog, or are thinking of starting a company or releasing a product?

It can cost thousands of pounds to come up with a decent tagline, particularly if you aren't very imaginative, but thankfully there is some help at hand.

This website is a slogan generator and although there are a few blatant ripoffs of major brands there is a wide range of suggestions. Happily, it works in German as well as English, so here are some rebrandings that we might see in the future:

The blog:
Russian Wolfhound, love it or leave it.
The best Russian Wolfhound in the world.
Have a break, have a Russian Wolfhound.

The man:
When you say Chris G you've said it all.
I'd walk a mile for Chris G.
There's a bit of Chris G in all of us.

The terrorists:
al-Qaeda - Think different.
There's lots of fun in al-Qaeda.
al-Qaeda - Alles Gute für Ihr Kind.

The rest:
North Korea? Yes please.
Call a friend, call Hugo Chavez.
Steve McClaren erfrischt den Kopf.
The EU - You see this name, you think dirty.
I wouldn't leave the house without George Bush.
Angela Merkel braucht keine Worte.

Upside down, boy you're turning me...

.ǝɹǝɥdsıɯǝɥ uɹǝɥʇɹou ǝɥʇ oʇ ssǝɔɔns uɐǝpodıʇuɐ s,oɔ puɐ sǝuɹɐq ʎɯɯıظ ǝʇɐ1suɐɹʇ oʇ ɹoʇɹǝʌuoɔ 1ǝsıɥɔ p1oɔ ɐ sı ʍou pǝǝu ǝʍ 11ɐ

.ɹǝpun uʍop suısnoɔ ɹno ʎq pooʇsɹǝpun ǝq oʇ ǝʇıɹʍ noʎ buıɥʇʎuɐ sǝ1qɐuǝ ɥɔıɥʍ 'ʇuǝɯuɹǝʌob uɐı1ɐɹʇsnɐ ǝɥʇ ʎq pǝpıʌoɹd ʇou 'ǝʇısqǝʍ ǝ1ʇʇı1 unɟ ɐ s,ǝɹǝɥ

.ʎʇıʌıʇɔɐ ʎɥʇɹoʍ ʇsoɯ sıɥʇ ǝʇɐʇı1ıɔɐɟ ʇɐɥʇ s1ooʇ puǝɯɯoɔǝɹ oʇ ǝʞı1 ı 'ɥɔns sɐ puɐ uoıʇɐ1suɐɹʇ ɟo p1ɹoʍ ǝɥʇ uı ʇsǝɹǝʇuı buıpuɐʇs-buo1 ɐ ǝʌɐɥ ı 'ʍouʞ 11ıʍ noʎ ɟo ʎuɐɯ sɐ

Hat tip: BoingBoing

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The real reason for the floods

Nope, not global warming, or el nino, or development on the flood plain, or a lack of investment in flood defences.

Renowned meteorologists the Bishops of Carlisle and Liverpool have the answer:

the Bishop of Carlisle, ... said that the introduction of pro-gay laws had provoked God to send the storms that have left thousands homeless.


The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, previously seen as a future Archbishop of Canterbury or York, said: "People no longer see natural disasters as an act of God. However, we are now reaping what we have sown. If we live in a profligate way then there are going to be consequences." God is exposing us to the truth of what we have done."

I love that "previously" seen as a future AB of C, don't you?

Fortunately, whenever a Bishop makes a stupid comment, there is someone rational to put him in his place:

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association's chairman Jim Herrick said:

"The Bishop's comments reveal a primitive, superstitious mind that belongs in the Bronze Age.

"If he thinks these floods are the result of pro-gay laws rather than global warming, then how come far more catastrophic floods afflict homophobic nations such as Bangladesh?

"People like Graham Dow bring religion into even more disrepute with such fatuous comments.

"No wonder people are abandoning the Church of England in such huge numbers when it is led by silly people like him."

Amen to that.