January 2004 Archives

4'33" - isn't it time we shut up about it?

At great expense to you and me, BBC4 have broadcast Cage's 4'33" 'played' by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. As you will know from a previous entry, Cage made a lot of money out of silence, even posthumously. We can't touch Cage, of course, because he's holy, canonized by the higher education/music publishing/concert promoter fraternity, but isn't this rather similar to the GM food scare? That pharmaceutical companies would begin to copyright carrots, for example, so that you'd have to pay a licence fee to grow a carrot that had been genetically modified?

John Cage, how very, very modern. And yet oh-so-modern JC made his money out of that oh-so-19th century concept of the musical work and copyright. The only thing 20th century about 4'33" is clocks, time management and lawyers.

I didn't watch it. I was too busy listening to Schumann's Sphinxes from Carneval.

JS New Years Honours List

Here, in no particular order, is my line up:

1. Robin Cook
For moral courage, logic and rhetoric. His resignation speech in March 2003 was one of the most moving and lucid speeches I've ever heard. My favourite paragraph: "We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat"

2. Clare Short
For moral courage - whatever people say, it probably took her more courage to stay on having threatened to resign, and then do it a couple of months later, than to go immediately. Her parting shots deserve a mention, too, my favourite being her accusation that Tony Blair was "increasingly obsessed with his place in history".

3. Thomas Sutcliffe
For some of the best writing in the English language. His television reviews for The Independent are masterpieces of the form, beautifully crafted, incisive and witty. I missed his work so much when I lived in Germany that I'd buy the Indie, read the TV review and throw the rest away. Shame on the paper for not putting them online, but here's one I found earlier.

4. The Guardian online
Now probably the best news site there is anywhere on the web, it just grows and grows, and it's still free. Whoever it was that managed to persuade the bosses at the Guardian to realize the vision deserves a medal.

5. David Wolstencroft
For Spooks, one of the best dramas on TV in decades. It's fast (compared to things like Inspector Morse or Poirot, where it would be quicker to read the book), sassy, cool and exciting, great scripts, fantastic actors, terrific storylines, all in the space of an hour. I watched the Bush visit episode again just to enjoy the wonderful moment when Tom Quinn finally puts down the occupational psychologist in the last five minutes with enough dry, rational venom to kill an elephant.

6. Matthew Macfadyen
For creating Tom Quinn in Spooks (see above), my hero and role model. Great character, great actor. The voice is enough, let alone the rest.

7. Connie Hyde
For being one of the best (i.e. most awful) villains of 2003 as Cathy Bradford in The Bill. There's something terrifying true-to-life about her simpering, manipulation and obsessiveness, and the sickly-sweet smiles that are the other side of her murderous character. I've loved hating her in 2003, and just hope she doesn't get Brandon's kids.

8. Roberta Taylor
For Gina Gold in The Bill, one of the best additions since the fire. The Bill lives on a knife-edge between panto and copusoap, and Gina brings some lovely old-fashioned irony to her part which saves it from falling into either. My favourite line was outside the station when one of her coppers was about to be hung out to dry, and they both knew it. "Oh blii-imey" she said. The delivery was worthy of Maggie Smith at her best. Lovely stuff.

9. Metafilter
For doing just what it says on the tin - filtering the web down to just a few sites a day which are representative of all that is whackiest and most wonderful out there. Whenever people ask me 'where did you find this!?', the answer is usually metafilter.

10. Andrew Roberts
For being the nicest person on the end of a business telephone. If you want a lesson in customer service, ring up Discus Group next time you need some CDs duplicated. Helpful, friendly, and no job is too small.

11. Movable Type
For great software design. Movable Type is what runs this weblog. It's clean, it's easy to use, free, powerful and intelligent, and it runs weblogs all over the world.

12. Jane Moore
For being the funniest woman on radio in 2003. I so enjoyed her dry sense of humour (my favourite remark: "Shock and awe? It's been more like bits 'n' bobs, really, hasn't it"), her deadpan delivery and quiet humanity that I'd choose to go to work earlier so I could listen to her LBC show in the car. Her tone was natural, she never sounded more awake or gung-ho than her listeners, so that listening to her was like having a hungover breakfast with your best and funniest friend. She's off the air now, having another baby, but I hope she's back.

13. Clive Bull
For being the perfect radio host to fall asleep to (in the nicest sense of the word). Rather like Jane Moore, he's got the perfect pitch for the time of day, in tone and content, so when he and Steve Allen discuss Iceland microwavable dinners, I feel that all is well with the world, and I drift off nicely. I've found myself watching the clock at bedtime, to make sure that I don't miss too much of the show. By contrast, I have to turn off the temporary replacement, Jeremy Beadle, as he's so annoying it keeps me awake.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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