January 19, 2011

Hollywood gets exposed to “the nihilism of the British way”

Filed under: Britain, Humour, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 16:55

Did you watch the Golden Globes awards the other night? I didn’t, but I rather enjoyed watching Ricky Gervais do his introduction (courtesy of YouTube and literally hundreds of contributors). It may be one of the larger gaps between image and reality . . . the way Americans think Brits talk and how they slag one another off:

Anyone from anywhere can be cruel, anyone from anywhere can be witty, but there is something particularly British about cruel wit. John Lennon, with his withering remarks about Ringo Starr (“Not even the best drummer in The Beatles”) and the avant-garde (“French for bullshit”), had it. Writers past (Evelyn Waugh) and present (AA Gill) have it. George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, has it, and gets into political scrapes when he flaunts it.

The anything-goes approach applies as much to everyday conversation as it does to comedy, where the subject of British irreverence has been analysed to death (and where America has plenty of acid-tongued geniuses itself). It feels natural to those of us who grew up with it, but British banter — the playfully barbed conversational style adopted by groups of friends in bars, offices and even classrooms up and down the country — can baffle and perturb foreigners. It is especially jarring when set against the popular image of Britain as a more decorous and civil place than most. Even tamer badinage in this country can, to a foreign ear, sound like enmity. The moment the ice is truly broken between two newly acquainted Britons is when one teases the other about something. Reginald D Hunter, an American comedian who does most of his work over here, says Britain is the only country where people will introduce you to a friend by saying “This is my mate Barry, he’s a bit of a twat.”

America is a land of Regency etiquette in comparison. So much so that it pays any Briton to be a bit more mindful of what he says and how he says it when enjoying the company of Americans (with the exception of fervently Anglophile Americans who, judging by friends of mine who fit that description, are caustic conversationalists). The rules are just different. For example, the c-word, which in Britain has lost much of its toxicity, remains a no-no.

NFL not yet serious about negotiating with player union

Filed under: Economics, Football, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:25

Well, all signs are still pointing toward a lockout, as Len Pasquarelli reports:

“I’m just talking for myself, but, sure, I’m (dismayed) by the progress,” Carolina owner Jerry Richardson, who recently had sounded a note of pessimism on the lack of movement toward a collective bargaining extension, told The Sports Xchange. “To me, it’s baffling. It’s really baffling.”

Equally confounding was the disparate nature of assessing the condition of the negotiations from owners who spent nearly four hours listening to commissioner Roger Goodell and league vice president and lead negotiator Jeffrey Pash review the talks with the NFL Players Association. Unless the commissioner recently mastered the art of speaking in tongues, he and Pash delivered the same message to everyone at the assemblage.

But that doesn’t mean all the owners heard the same thing, because interpretation of the commissioner’s words was certainly diffuse.

There is, stressed many of the owners and club representatives present at the one-day caucus, and reinforced Goodell, unwavering unanimity of purpose among the NFL’s stewards. What is more scattered, however, is the subjective view of where things stand less than two short months before the existing CBA expires. The CBA between owners and players expires on March 4.

The players are being advised by their union reps to expect a lockout before training camps would be due to begin, and the owners have indicated they’re willing to keep the players locked out as far as the fourth week of the season.

The two sides, Pash reported, haven’t conducted a substantive negotiating session since before Thanksgiving. Despite reports to the contrary, there are no meetings scheduled. The union a week ago filed a collusion lawsuit, at least its third court action (there is an action before special master Stephen Burbank concerning the re-negotiation of television contracts that guarantees the league an income stream even in the event of a work stoppage, and an OSHA-type request on safety/injury issues) in the negotiations.

It can’t be in anyone’s interest to have another strike-shortened NFL season, but both sides appear to be willing to risk taking it that far. The league has floated the idea of moving to an 18-game season (up from 16 currently) while reducing the pre-season from four games down to two. The players are against that move, as they believe it will expose more players to the risk of injury during meaningless late-season games.

One of the big issues is expected to be the way drafted players are compensated: first round picks are being paid huge salaries before they’ve even stepped on their first NFL field. Both sides are probably willing to come up with some kind of cap for rookies (who, obviously are not represented in the negotiations), the owners to avoid paying millions of dollars to players who don’t live up to their reputations, and the union to try to redirect some of those big salaries to their existing members.

Dire Straits not suffering due to CBSC ban

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Economics, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:20

Dire Straits may need to send a nice gift basket to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council after they banned the song Money for nothing:

Britney Spears’ return with “Hold It Against Me” say 37,000 downloads, which is the best-ever first week performance ever since SoundScan started tracking digital sales six years ago. Avril Lavigne also did all right with 16,000 downloads of “What the Hell.”

But here’s my favourite stat: what with all the hoopla of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruling on the unworthiness of Dire Straits “Money for Nothing,” digital downloads of that track went from 167 last week to about 2,700 this week. That number represents a full 10% of all downloads of that song since tracking began in February 2005. Meanwhile, Brothers in Arms, the album from whence the song came, saw its digital sales spike 406%. It’s now the fifth-best selling catalogue album in the nation.

H/T to Paul “Inkless” Wells for the link.

Pack of feral states now circling fallen Illinois

Filed under: Economics, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:48

The plight of Illinois just seems to get worse and worse:

As Illinois tax rates shoot up, nearby states are fluffing their feathers in an attempt to catch the eye of businesses looking to leave the Land of Lincoln.

Governor Pat Quinn (D) and the slim Democratic majority that passed the rate hike claim it was necessary to keep the state afloat: Considering Illinois’ comptroller already spends much of his time apologizing to creditors for missing payments, it’s more likely that businesses will start fleeing the flattened wreckage. Illinois now boasts the highest corporate income tax in the world when all charges are taken into account, and is heading into 2011 with a 40 percent budget shortfall. The tax hike drops the state 13 places in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Climate rankings.

[. . .]

Other state governors took their shots at Illinois’ duncery: Daniels compared the state to The Simpsons, saying “Oh you guys are nothing if not entertaining over there.…you know the dysfunctional family down the block?” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) repeated his promise to lower his state’s tax rates and hinted business should heed the old tourism bumper sticker motto: “Escape to Wisconsin.” New Jersey’s Chris Christie (R) was making plans for an Illinois salesmanship trip before the legislation was even signed.

I remember hearing about the massive tax increase in Illinois, with reports about 50-60% hikes, and I thought it was pretty bad. However, even after this massive increase the Illinois state tax level would still be a rounding error compared to Ontario provincial taxes.

You’d have to admit, it would be an interesting ride

Filed under: Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:21

Powered by WordPress