2007 — 10 Mar: something for the weekend, sir?

No, wait, weekends hardly count any more, do they? Lest you think I'm nowt but a DVD truffle hound, I also picked up a couple of heaps of words yesterday in Eastleigh:

We both found much to enjoy, if not to laugh at, in For your consideration. Then it was time to tweak the DVD player / scaler / TV combination to choose, once and for all, between DVI and component. I've decided that setting the player1 to either 576i (for PAL) or 480i (for NTSC) and letting the external scaler do the hard work produces marginally better visual results, and also seems to do away with the occasional lip sync problem. (The scaler automatically compensates by adjusting the digital audio to allow for the time spent in de-interlacing and scaling. The DVD player — not surprisingly at its low price point — is more cavalier.)

And, if you didn't notice the new look, or behaviour, of the "Back" and "Next" buttons then I'm delighted. My NZ web critic thinks they are too big, too dark, and that I'm a word junky. Well, I cut them down a smidgen, but I like the colour, and it's hard to see how they can contain shorter or more monosyllabic words than they do. Still, at least he liked the tool tips which, of course, don't show up on every web browser. If they, or the rollovers, now look ghastly, try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page.

Thank you, Catherine

For inviting me to see some of the many fine photos you and Simon took on your various travels, and have now posted on Flickr. But be aware that you set a high standard, so I won't be in any hurry2 to "retaliate"!


Steven Poole, in today's Guardian, looks briefly at three non-fiction choices including a book called "Japanamerica" by a chap based in Tokyo. This extract, which mentions an image that "kinda lingers" (to misappropriate an entirely appropriate phrase from an ancient Not the Nine O'Clock News song), caught what passes, these days, for my attention. The author was noting the existence of such exotic sub-genres (among anime and manga) as "tentacle porn":

Hokusai did a woodblock print3 of a pearl diver being raped by an octopus more than two hundred years ago. It's the same thing. And you people put Hokusai in art museums.

Roland Kelts

I had never realised it depicted rape — that's kind of fishy, isn't it? The lady certainly doesn't look unhappy...

Hokusai octopus

Back in 1987, William Hartston produced a wonderful book (The Drunken Goldfish) with the subtitle a celebration of irrelevant research. Its three short chapters on "Sex, Courtship, and Bodies" are as funny as anything to be found in that earlier scholarly spoof 1066 and All That. Funnier, in fact, for being deadpan academic pornography. And I suspect also that it set the scene for his later (1992) concentrated celebration of sex research that is How was it for you, Professor? In that scholarly tome he reproduces the Hokusai print "A Pearl Diver and Two Octopuses," adding to it the caption "I prefer a moderate amount of clitoral stimulation".

Day 127  


1  All I need now is a Dr Scholl's corn protection pad to stick under one of the four feet to stop the thing rocking. I've never understood why designers don't make life easier for themselves and for the hapless manufacturers and simply go for a tripod whenever possible. The first thing I was taught in my first chemistry lesson was the inherent stability of a tripod on any surface — a great advantage when heating some foul-smelling brew, let alone when playing one.
2  Where in the Canon (manual) does it tell me how to remove the lens cap?!
3  I thought this same print (which I've seen reproduced left-right inverted, too, and captioned as a print from the "Young Pieces" album, 1814, in the British Museum) featured in one of the late George MacBeth's three ridiculously perverse "Cadbury" thrillers but I can't find it. Maybe it's in one of the late Kyril Bonfiglioli's "Mortdecai" trilogy?