Monday, 27 February 2012

some of the people, some of the time

Below is a facebook conversation, anonymised. You might think it's boring, but some people like me will love it, and I know who some of them are. You can follow at least two of their blogs by clicking on my links.

FIRESTARTER Usain Bolt vs Mo Farah. Dead heat. What distance?
February 22 at 9:40pm ·

February 22 at 9:54pm ·

February 22 at 10:06pm ·

BLAKEMORE I reckon Bolt would be crap at anything over 400
February 22 at 10:06pm ·

EXTRA MILE Remember he was a 400m runner, I reckon I wouldn't die near enough before 600m so problably more 1000m
February 22 at 10:14pm ·

February 22 at 10:17pm ·

FIRESTARTER ‎1500? No way. Too far for Bolt
February 22 at 10:20pm ·

ANDREW PARTICIPANT Then probably something really short 80, or if this is a trick question 5m.
February 22 at 10:23pm ·

FIRESTARTER I reckon 700m
February 22 at 10:23pm ·

FIRESTARTER I will try to line them both up for this in 2013
February 22 at 10:24pm ·

BLAKEMORE ‎900m... I think Bolt might pull out quite a big lead to start with
February 22 at 10:30pm ·

MAN WHO CARES Since I really wanted to know the answer to this, I retrieved their PB data, fitted high order polyexponential trend lines and solved it graphically (assuming they both run 0 m in zero seconds). The answer is 679.03m, and they both run it in 91.085 seconds.
February 22 at 10:37pm · · 4

FIRESTARTER J, legendary work.
February 22 at 10:41pm ·

ANDREW PARTICIPANT Jim - can you fit polyexponential trend lines to horses?
February 22 at 10:41pm ·

MAN WHO CARES Will I make myself seem less geeky by correcting myself: I meant to say polynomials. And I'm going to go with yes on the horses
February 22 at 10:46pm ·

FIRESTARTER But, J, what value did you take for Bolt's 400m? He doesn't run many and his PB is slightly historic
February 22 at 10:47pm ·

MAN WHO CARES I used 45.28, from 2007. I reckon it stands.
February 22 at 10:49pm ·

FIRESTARTER I guess we'll find out next year. I will set the distance at 700m.
February 22 at 10:50pm ·

HUDSON This is one of the greatest facebook strands I have ever read which didn't feature people cutely doing sex talk in public and thinking it wasn't obvious to everyone. I want to quote it somewhere. Can I?
February 23 at 12:02am ·

BLAKEMORE Fine by me Robbie. What do you think though... 800m right?
February 23 at 12:11am ·

HUGH JARSE I reckon more 600-650: Usain's speed endurance looks suspect even in the 200m (look at his final 50m vs that of Yohan Blake); I think he would find anything over 400m very difficult indeed and his speed would drop very quickly. J - I'm not sure your (very impressive) analysis accounts for next to no training and a diet of chicken nuggets.
February 23 at 2:42am ·

MAN WHO CARES hmm, sounds possible, extrapolating the split time decay coefficient over longer distances. a similar negative decay would have to be analysed for Farah. In this case we will need exponetials. And considerable research and programming effort.
February 23 at 2:54am ·

LOGIC BOARD ‎0 metres. Do I win?
February 23 at 7:49am ·

DETAIL ORIENTED Extra Mile, I’d like to see him do another soon, maybe he'll be tempted after the Olympics? (He has vaguely hinted at dipping his toe back in at the distance).
Anyway, Bolt first to 400m by a significant gap, Bolt's 400m pace is going to round about Mo's absolute top speed. Though IMO Bolt would have to drop inside Mo's comfort zone in order to do 800m... I suspect Mo could go around 1m50, but Bolt couldn't... ( I've known sub 48s 400m guys fail to go sub 2m for 800m (with no additional training)). So I'm with Huw, somewhere between 600 and 700m, call it 650m. I'd to see him do another soon, maybe he'll be tempted after the Olympics? ( he has vaguely hinted at dipping his toe back in at the distance ).
Anyway, Bolt first to 400m by a significant gap, Bolt's 400m pace is
February 23 at 10:46am ·

HUDSON My gut instinct says something 679m.
February 23 at 11:11am · · 1

ROD OF IRON What would be bolt's best tactic in running this though. Go fast until he drops? I accept the brillaint graphical analysis but just feel with true competition, accepting bolt is rarely pushed, he would up his game. I'm going 750m and therefore that Bolt wins the 700m challenge.
February 23 at 8:18pm ·

EXTRA MILE So I thought we wouldn't get further on the topic and email Mo and Usain to see what they think about it. I got this from Mo's team :
8 hours ago ·


Thank you for your email and your kind supportive comments to Mo Farah, it is indeed very much appreciated.

Fred, this is the first I have ever heard such an idea - though I think pretty funny and creative. Mo & Usain (although are very good friends) will not compete against each other for obvious reasons - it is not possible. Mo is a long distance runner and Usain is a sprinter... (also 2 different physics). So I am afraid it is not possible to even think about the distance, etc, etc.

Thank you for taking the time to write to Mo Farah."

LOGIC BOARD Are they saying that Usain and Mo are subject to different laws of physics? That's big news.
8 hours ago ·

EXTRA MILE This is PR they will never commit to something that, let's see if Team Bolt comes back with anything :) fairplay to Mo's team getting back to me, all they are saying is they don't know and don't think we'll ever find out, which we knew already right ?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

i know how many runs you scored last summer

I really don't want to watch this film, but I'm glad it exists and astonished I had never heard of it before. It's Aussie slasher satire - a bullied kid returns to murder his cricket team.

Among the taglines:

Mass murder, it's just not cricket

This time, they'll get to keep the Ashes

And, from the trailer:

There's a game so torturous, so excruciating, so disturbing, so boring, you'll wish you were already dead

Monday, 20 February 2012

have you married the descendents of lucille ball and king william iv?

I bet you haven't, but Linda Purl has. She married Desi Arnaz Jr when she was 25 and Alexander Cary when she was 38. He is the some-greats-grandson of Amelia FitzClarence, of William IV's illegitimate FitzClarences, an ex-Scots guard and a successful television writer.

She's only had four husbands. Magda Gabor had six, including one of Zsa Zsa's, George Sanders, who you may remember as the heel in Rebecca, which I finally saw yesterday. He said: 'I never really thought I'd make the grade. And let's face it, I haven't.' On the other hand, he was the voice of Shere Khan and the inspiration for Hercules Grytpype-Thynne.

Via Marbury over there on the right, I read the fantastic obit of John Fairfax:

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé*, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.

And in other news: 'A teenaged Texas beauty queen accused by contest sponsors of infractions including gaining too much weight by eating tacos was stripped of her crown on Wednesday.'

* In my opinion, the writer of this obituary has never managed a mink farm.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

these are not just techno-thrillers

Kilburn Hall (see below) does not just write dolphin books. He writes other sequels. Lots of indie authors undersell themselves, but KH is selling books for people who 'don’t give a crap about price. They want QUALITY!' As his blog explains (I have copied and pasted):

I’m not an Indie Author. I’m an author, and I’m not selling books.
I’m selling Kilburn Hall books.

No one else can do that! When you purchase a Kilburn Hall book, you’re getting the quality of writer’s like James Hilton, Trevanian, Vera Caspary, Robert Merle, Tony Hillerman, Robert Heinlein and my mentor, MIchael Criichton who invented the “techno-thriller genre.” All my books are written in the tradition of these outstanding authors.

dolphins. of. kilburn.

Some regular Tall Talesers will already be wondering about all this dolphin stuff and thinking it sounds all a bit like a Kilburn story. It is not. I'm not good enough at Photoshop. And also, the Kilburn stories aren't made up.

All the same, as some icing on the cake, there is a recent sequel to The Day of the Dolphin, and it's written by a guy called 'Kilburn Hall':

40-years after man's first successful attempt to communicate with another species, the U.S. Navy has transformed intelligent, ocean-dwelling mammals into advanced biological weapons systems. (ABWS) But when one of the Navy's dolphins goes AWOL and an alien craft begins driving the marine life away from the area known as Milwaukee Deep, 26,000 feet deep, the dolphins have their own agenda, one that transcends human greed and petty hostilities. To survive!

My first thought, and yours too, I bet: So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish.

Friday, 17 February 2012

more. dolphin. news.

As if yesterday's post was not exciting enough, I now know* that The Day of the Dolphin, the movie, was a milquetoast of a thing compared to Roman Polanski's original plan, which I think was closer to Robert Merle's original satire, which Joseph Heller among other people loved and which I among other people have now ordered from Amazon. In this, the dolphins spoke fluent English and held a press conference to discuss theology, philosophy and Sophia Loren. Also, the plan wasn't to assassinate a President, but to sink a Chinese aircraft carrier and start WW3.

* By which I mean, 'I believe some guy on Amazon who seems to know what he's talking about.'

Thursday, 16 February 2012

best. tag. line. ever.

If you listen to Slate's podcasts, you will see where I get some of my quickies, but this is also from the Political Gabfest.

The film is about scientists training dolphins to speak, and then the dolphins are kidnapped, and the baddies plan is to attach a limpet mine to the President's yacht. It got Oscar nominations for score and sound. It was going to be directed by the ever-colourful Roman Polanski, but his wife was murdered. It was based on a French novel which satirised the Cold War.

Wikipedia describes the detective figure as "an undercover government agent for hire" which sounds dodgy.

can you tell how old a chicken is?

On Slate's Political Gabfest this week, Emily Bazelon talked about this collection of photographs of old animals in The Atlantic. She found them moving. I do too, a bit. But it's partly - to quite a large extent, actually - because I know they are old. I am not sure I would have known most of them are old from just the photographs. I might have known about this chicken, but I might just have thought it was sick. They're great pictures, though.

Friday, 10 February 2012

so. many. tabs.

The problem is that there is a lot of interesting stuff out there. So, quickly:

1. As I keep saying these days, I've written a book called The Dazzle. I've discussed dazzle camouflage before, but here are some other great sites:

- This one has people planning and painting dazzle ships.
- This one links to (not recently updated but good) Dazzle Blog which was attached to a dazzle exhibition.
- This one might be the best collection of Dazzle pics, including the fantastic car above, some WW1 German infantry dazzle gloves and, as a bonus, a ship camouflaged as an island. (Yes, a dazzle car would literally be dangerous.)

2. Did you read this article about atheism in America? Did you know that there are currently six openly gay Congressmen and women, but there has only ever been one open atheist? Ever. And he calls himself 'non-theist'. There's also a great bit about people who would let a woman babysit knowing she was on crack but not when they knew she was an atheist. (Americans: if this article is a load of old foreign ignorance, do tell me. It's FT, which I quite trust, and linked to from Slate, which I also quite trust.)

3. Name an English sportsman who can perform well in an advert. Name one. Gary Linekar isn't utterly terrible, but he's not-bad-for-a-footballer. And that's as good as it gets over here. Now, Britishers, watch Peyton Manning, whose one of the best American footballers ever:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Have you written about book about tuna called The Dazzle? Maybe, maybe not. Even if you have, it's unlikely that you are a Hudson. But, you know, better safe than sorry, so I googled 'hudson dazzle' and this is what I learnt:

In the 1970s, there was a 1970s comedy variety show called The Hudson Brothers' Razzle Dazzle Show. Interesting, and people seem to have fond memories of the spoof Buck Rogers. Also, Mark Hudson went on to write songs for Aerosmith.

Lines reminiscing fans can still quote include: "Care for a chocolate-covered cricket, marinated in sauerkraut?" "NO THANKS ... WE'RE TRYING TO CUT DOWN!" and "Ho, hum, another boring day on the island of Pegi Pegi'. It featured Rod Hull and Emu. A programme featuring the Hudsons, Rod Hull and Bob Monkhouse among others was made in the UK - called Bonkers. It never did anything here but was a cult hit in the USA. Bill Hudson married Goldie Hawn and is why Kate Hudson is called that.

Someone on imdb comments: 'I did like Rod Hull & his Emu even though I could tell that he had a fake arm around the bird'. No fool.

Monday, 6 February 2012

abalone, abalone, my kingdome for a balone

Digging around in the cupboard on Saturday, I found a game called Abalone. Who knows how it got there. This cupboard has all kinds of stuff in.

I quite like games. This one was announced as 'Game of the Decade' at the International Games Festival in Cannes at some point in the past, and over 3,000,000 boxes/copies/whatevers have been sold. That's a big number, even if you're used to the kind of sales we get in literary fiction. Is it really as good as Carcassonne, I thought? Or Settlers of Catan? I looked at the back.

There are two chaps in bad dinner suits. They are 'the creators'. Here is the blurb:

One more move. You seize your opportunity. As you push the shining line of marbles, tipping your opponents colour of the edge one final time, you know you've won at abalone. The six you need to win sit on the sidelines, in the gutter. Your victory is clean. Black and white. Next time will be different. As you penetrate deeper into abalone's spell. Sharpen your attack and round off your defence. Look. Plan. Weigh up your options with every move. abalone. Addiction in a game.

ab is a latin prefix meaning never. so you are never alone with abalone.

When twisted 90 degrees clockwise, the abalone logo reads: 3, 2, one. Fun-damental! as 3 pushes 2, 3 pushes 1 and 2 pushes 1.

Convincing stuff, but does anyone independently agree with this assessment? My favourite bit of the Wikipedia page reads:

The dynamics of the basic game may have one serious flaw: it seems that a good, conservative player can set up his or her marbles in a defensive wedge, and ward off all attacks indefinitely. An attacker may try to outflank this wedge, or lure it into traps, but such advances are often more dangerous to the attacker than the defender. Thus, from the starting position, it takes little skill and no imagination to avoid losing, and nothing in the rules prevents games from being interminable.

Friday, 3 February 2012

stupid irresistible internet

I went to the I Write Like machine. I couldn't stop myself. My Kilburn Stories are written like I'm Chuck Palahniuk. The upcoming tuna book is written like I'm James Joyce.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

closing tabs

1. Yes, I have seen about the horrible supergiant shrimp affairs.

2. Did you write a whole long number '2' and then cut it because you thought, 'Hang on, I'm using that story elsewhere and let's not trail it'? Yes. I do that sometimes. It's a doozy, though.

3. Fly Fishing Mystery Novels. They're a thing. Almost everything is, if you look hard enough. John Galligan is the genre's Chandler. His The Blood Knot, for instance:

Galligan's rewarding if grim second fly-fishing mystery (after 2003's The Nail Knot) offers an emotionally tortured protagonist, Ned Oglivie (aka Dog), and a clan of misfits and survivors worthy of Faulkner, the Kussmauls, who coexist uneasily with each other and their Amish neighbors in remote Avalanche, Wis. Searching for oblivion on a three-year fishing trip and suffering from a vicious beaver bite, Dog is tramping through the woods one morning when he sees 10-year-old Deuce Kussmaul fire his kid-sized .22 into the body of "barn lady" Annie Adams lying in a stream. (Annie liked to paint pictures of barns.) After Deuce's mother, Eve, who's a banned Amish and a meth-user, treats Dog's beaver bite, he agrees to try to prove her son didn't kill Annie. The author brilliantly draws the Snopes-like Kussmauls while writing with flair and passion about fly-fishing, art and fate. But like J. Robert Janes's St. Cyr and Kohler series, Galligan will need to be hand-sold to reach the right audience.

(Fly Fishing mysteries via the always excellent Hang Up & Listen. Josh Levin is not a long way off being elevated to Nemesis-status.)

(My personal plan is never to write anything which 'will need to be hand-sold to reach the right audience'. Not out of snobbery, but practicality.)

That will do for now. Oh, except for this. Thank you Robert Thorogood and Tim Sutton.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

author economics

I've been meaning to post this for a while. You probably know that movie accounting practices are pretty baroque. Studios do all kinds of nonsense to pretend a film isn't making money - they 'loan' cash to a separate entity they have created to make the film, and the interest is a cost, and all kinds of blah, blah, blah. Maybe the following doesn't tickle your strawberries, but it really tickles mine.

Perhaps the most famous example is the case of “Buchwald vs. Paramount” in which Paramount claimed that the movie Coming to America, based on a Buchwald story, failed to reach profitability:

Art Buchwald received a settlement after his lawsuit Buchwald v. Paramount over Paramount’s use of Hollywood accounting. The court found Paramount’s actions “unconscionable,” noting that it was impossible to believe that a movie (1988‘s Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America) which grossed US$350 million failed to make a profit, especially since the actual production costs were less than a tenth of that. Paramount settled for an undisclosed sum, rather than have its accounting methods closely scrutinized.