Author Archives: pws

Oscars

I have friends who proudly tell me they have seen every film nominated for any major Oscar this year, except for The Shape Of Water, which is not released for a few more days here in the UK.

I asked them, why?

Well, apparently, it’s because that’s what they do. Regardless of whether they are interested in the film subject matter or not they will go.

I have always understood that the Oscar ceremony (especially these days) and the award in general was just a publicity thing for the industry. My friends and many others will go to see these films regardless just because they are on some list. I’m not trying to stop anyone going to see any film, of course, but it does seem in this case that this publicity machine is working.

I won’t be watching it on tv. To be honest, I never have. I don’t sit up in eager anticipation waiting to see the dresses the stars you have never heard of are actually wearing. I don’t even watch the highlights.

I am sure that the films and people up for nominations are deserving. I am sure that there are plenty of other films that are as good if not better, but where the film studio has not had the money to publicise it or them so much.

I’m sure the actors and actresses benefit from being even just nominated. They can demand lots of money for their next venture and their name will bring in the punters.

But I look back over recent years and find it hard to remember a lot of winners.

And before you say ‘oh, but you’re not so interested in film’ well, yes, I am, I love going to the cinema, I enjoy the spectacle of the big screen, I love a good story. I have a huge collection of film books and dvds of classic films. I guess they don’t mke films like they used to.

John Mahoney

It was announced today that actor John Mahoney had died after an illness.

You may wonder who Mr M is, except his death has been headline news all day.

He was, perhaps most famously, the father of Frasier and Niles Crane in one of the most wonderful comedy series ever from the USA. Yes, Marty Crane.

Now, John M was born in the UK. He had a long and distinguished acting career, and we had the pleasure of seeing him in The Man Who Came To Dinner some years ago. He was a leading light of the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

But, of course, it was the Frasier role that made his name, I suppose, outside theatre circles. Marty Crane represented the old fashioned American values, a person stuck in his ways, a lover of routine. He loved his chair, his beer, his sport and his programmes. In real life, John Mahoney was much different from Marty Crane, but why wouldn’t he be?

A fine actor, will be much missed.

Quiz show

I do watch quiz shows on tv sometimes. Not game shows, and definitely not all shows. University Challenge is a no-no, as is Mastermind. My only interest is to answer the questions posed, and the topics for those are specialised and, really, of no interest. Who on earth cares about the History of Dutch cheese 1842 to 1988?

General knowledge quiz shows are just better. You stand a chance. But there are some things that annoy me.

First of all, questions are not easy or hard. If you know the answer, it’s easy, otherwise it’s impossible. Maybe you can make a guess, or pick the mostly likely answer of three in multiple choice, but there’s no such thing in the universe as an ‘educated guess’. A guess is a guess because you don’t know something. Educated means you have knowledge ie you know. You may be able to look at three choices and reject one, but if you don’t know between the remainder, a guess is still a guess.

It’s always worth saying something rather than nothing. A ‘pass’ will never win, but there is a miniscule chance a random guess may be correct.

Quizzers know certain rules about guessing: oceans are often Pacific, simply because it is so huge and contains lots of stuff. Dairy products is probably cheese. ‘Bird’ or ‘fish’ is often a good answer. British royalty is either Henry VIII, Victoria or Queen Elizabeth II. Prime Ministers from olden times can often be Churchill, from modern times Thatcher or Blair. If for no other reason, because they were around for a long time.

It has always seemed to me that, faced with a question about something you’ve never heard of and three choices, one of which you’ve never heard of, then these would be the best guesses. If you had heard of one, you might be more likely to have heard of the other.

I record the programmes and cut out the waffle. I don’t want to know how old you are, what you did/do for a living, the names of your ten children, what you will do with the money etc… I don’t want you to sing, especially if you are a female Egghead. I don’t want the sponsors or the adverts. Mind, if I ever appeared on The Chase and Bradley Walsh asked me “if you was to win some money, what would you do with it?” then I have the perfect answer: “buy you a book about English grammar, Brad.”

The Chase can be good, but there are bits that are more than annoying. The player asking the others what choice they should make contributes nothing to anything, nor Walsh insulting the chasers. And when he says “you got one, but you’re a better player than that” is palpable nonsense. If you get one, that’s how good a player you are. If you answered ten correctly, then ditto. You are as good as you are, no better and no worse. To a large extent, there’s luck to the questions too.

And when they are offered, say, £40,000 and say “ooh, I could have a good wedding with that” except, you share it, you only get a fraction of it and you still have to get through and beat the chaser. Your best bet is to get as many people through as possible, meaning more to share the money.

The worst aspect of quizzes is this: “Which famous king had six wives?” The contestant answers, “ooh, that’s before my time”. Yes, most of the history of the universe is, but it doesn’t prevent you from knowing things!

And oh, the waffle… Filler. On Eggheads, you can always tell how good or bad a team is by how much inane chat Jeremy Vine makes with everyone.

Enough of a rant. Let’s ignore all the inane sports questions, stuff about modern ‘culture’ that no-one knows, Jeremy Vine and Victoria Coren Mitchell (and the whole Only Connect fiddle).