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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

  • Daily Mini-Quiz results
  • Paper Monitor
  • Your letters
  • Punorama (Weds)
  • Caption Comp (Thurs)
  • 10 things we didn't know (Sat)


10 arches by Bryce Cook

Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

1. The Road Less Travelled has spent more than eight years on the New York Times best seller list, a record for a non-fiction book.

2. Some 40,000 UK children are on prescription drugs for depression.

3. Andrew Marr, former political editor of the BBC, has read Tolstoy's epic War and Peace 15 times.

4. The name for a gap between the teeth is a diastema.

5. About 800,000 Brits go to Australia each year, either for holiday, to work, or to emigrate.

6. Identical twins have never held the two top positions of power in a modern country. But it could happen soon in Poland.

7. You can be sent to jail for showing someone an inappropriate film on a mobile phone.

8. At its current rate of shrinkage, the Arctic ice cap might disappear altogether during the summer of 2060.

9. Hecklers are so-called because of militant textile workers in Dundee.

10. Pulling your foot out of quicksand takes a force equivalent to that needed to lift a medium-sized car.

(Sources on items without links - 2: Guardian, Weds 3: Guardian, Mon 4: 10: Telegraph, Thurs)

If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it.

Your e-mail address
Your thing and where you saw it

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


Letters logo
In response to David (Monitor letters, Thursday), if I post a story about a chiller cabinet, would that be classed as a fridge maglet?
Erol Fehm, London

While the German word "gemutlich" (20 of your unusual words) cannot be translated really well into English ("cosy" comes closest), the Danes have "hyggelig" for the same thing. In fact, many people claim that Danes are the one people who are good at true "hygge".
Dennis Hansen, Zurich, Switzerland

Sue (Monitor letters, Thursday), cleaning up involves the removal of dirty material. Tidying up implies putting things in their correct place. Defragging is tidying up, in that it doesn't delete data, merely tries to put it in a more sensible location on the disk. As for the boyfriend, I recommend upgrading to Boyfriend v2.0...
Andrew Nicholson, Milton Keynes

Liked the Kate Bush mini-quiz. I'd be interested to know how she could be the same age as an entire pop group - Blondie.
Nick Hutchings, Redhill, UK

RE: yesterday's DMQ. The answer was based on a survey which found the French made the worst tea. What makes the opinions of the people who answered that survey more valid that the DMQ survey which resulted in a different answer? Maybe we were right and it's the Americans?
Colin, Belfast, NI


"It was a time of tankards"
After Starsky and Hutch and the Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, the glamorous 1970s soap, is the latest TV drama to be given the Hollywood feature film treatment. Studio bosses are said to be casting for the roles of JR, Bobby, Pam, Miss Ellie et al.

But while Dallas was all swimming pools and open-top Mercs, the British prefer their home-grown soaps to be rather more gritty.

Your Friday Objective this week is to imagine if Tinsletown's cigar-chomping moguls got their hands on EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Crossroads, Brookside etc.

Who would be in line to play the starring roles, and what taglines might they come up with to promote the films? Tell us, using the form below.

Your suggestions:

Crossroads would star Samuel L Jackson as Benny, and Anthony Perkins as both David and Barbara Hunter. "A room with a bath or a shower, miss?"
Norbert, UK

John Wayne as Albert Tatlock of Corrie -"Get off your high horse Ena and drink your milk stout"
Kate, Wirral,UK

Casualty - directed by Wes Craven. And coming soon...Casualty 2: A Nightmare in Holby. "If Charlie doesn't wake up soon, they may have to slap him"
J Bright, London UK

Joe Pesci as Del Boy Trotter, in Martin Scorsese's Only Fools and Horses Heads
Brian Saxby, UK

The tagline for the American version of The Bill - "Murderers, thieves, rapists - and the criminals are even worse." Laurence Fishburn should play Okaro, Michael Chiklis (The Shield) as Jack Meadows, and only Jack Nicholson could play Gabriel Kent. Directed by Michael Mann.
dave godfrey, uk

"Last of the Summer Wine", starring Danny de Vito as Compo; Bill Cosby as Clegg; Robin Williams as The Third Old Guy; and Roseanne Barr as Norah Batty. The Three Wise Men, they ain't...
Ed, Helsinki, Finland

Sylvester Stallone is...Ken Barlow. "Don't push me Deirdre!"
Kieran Boyle, England

Stan and Hilda Ogden - Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones Bet Lynch - Pamela Anderson Ena Sharples - Angela Lansbury Ken Barlow - Tommy Lee Jones Alf Roberts - Al Pacino Tag Line - "What A Load of Old Cobble-ers"
JR, England

"Walford - The Musical" starring Justin Timberlake as Ricky and Britney Spears as Bianca.
Chrissy Mouse, London, UK

Emmerdale, starring the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 - The Simple Life just got a bit more posh
Candace , New Jersey, US

El Dorado. Tagline - In Spain no-one can hear you scream.

I dread to think what would have happened if Hollywood had produced Brookside's Anna Friel days - body under the patio would surely have been buried into the Olympic-size swimming pool, and the lesbian kiss would have been an all-out 18-cert romp!
Lucy Jones, Manchester


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ding ding! Roll up for the fight of the century (well, 2005... or perhaps autumn 2005). In the blue corner, David Davis, who says he's passionate about change. And in the, er, other blue corner, David Cameron, also passionate about change.

"Two Davids running for leader is two too many. It is confusing and indicates a lack of choice (which, I believe, is illegal these days)," notes the Times.

Even their tactics are the same: "Battle of the Tory Blairalikes," thunders the Mail.

Even their speeches echo the PM's conference address, right down to his habit of using sentences without verbs. "Why doesn't the party save themselves the bother and give the job to Jon Culshaw from Dead Ringers?" asks the Guardian.

But the Mail offers another similarity to cheer the party faithful who subscribe to the theory that the bald of pate lose elections. "The good news: Two full heads of hair..."


Got you. Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked: Who makes the worst tea in the world? Americans, said 52% of you. Greeks, said 26%. But it's the French who brew the worst cuppa, according to a survey, which 22% of you correctly answered. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
Regarding the article Attendants call for film boycott, 28 September, wherein the American flight attendant unions want to boycott Jodie Foster's new film Flightplan. I noticed the following, rather disturbing quote: "Flight attendants continue to be the first line of defence on an aircraft and put their lives on the line day after day for the safety of passengers." Day after day? Is she saying that flying is NOT safe, but actually life threatening and the the only reason we survive the ordeal is because of the heroic coffee serving of the inflight staff?
Michael Rooseboom,
Stockholm, Sweden

Re: Anna Friel's "Wetsuit and Vacuum Cleaner" medical treatment (Paper Monitor, Wednesday. For those without the finance to afford such state of the art medical procedure, try this: Wear the wetsuit and do the vacuuming! An excellent workout for a fraction of the cost.

Thank you Anton Allen for your definition of de-fragging (Monitor letters, Wednesday, is there a huge difference between cleaning up and tidying up? If there is, please explain as this confusion may be the thing that's stopping my boyfriend doing either in our flat. Thankyou.
Sue Lee,

C'mon Anton admit it you passed the test, didn't you!

It is nice to hear the expression "Man Alive". But I quite often use it in extremis, though I only started after hearing the great Danny Baker use the expression when he had a Radio One show, in the early 90s.
Ian Onions,
Grimsby, England

Steve from Reading, who gave us such great words as "fauxhunt" (Monitor Letters, Wednesday) sounds great. We definitely need more maglets from him appearing in the Monitor. Oh, a maglet is a letter published in the Magazine Monitor.
on assignment in Boca Raton, Florida


This week, UK stuntman Jim Trella got a warm reception from host The Rock when he picked up a prize at the World Stunt Awards wearing this flaming suit.

6. Christian Cook, UK
"Say buddy, you got alight?"

5. Dave, N Ireland
"I see you went for the blazer and tie after all."

4. Alan Johnstone, England
"There's something different about you. Have you lost weight?"

3. Matt Daniels, London
"Hi. I wouldn't have the curry if I were you."

2. Chris Field, US
Beelzebub closes another deal.

1. David Dee, Mozambique
"...and I also want to thank my ex-wife, who's been behind me all the way."


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Regular readers of Paper Monitor will know of the concept of a news carnival, a day when out of the blue a story falls into Fleet Street's lap to the sound of much merriment. Today is such a day, with the ejection by Labour Party heavies of 82-year-old refugee from Nazi Germany Walter Wolfgang, after he shouted that Jack Straw was talking rubbish about the Iraq war.

The papers can barely contain their glee: "One can imagine this happening in Nazi Germany when a bunch of thugs had taken over the show," says the Telegraph.
"Freedom of speech in Blair's Britain," wails the Mail.
"Labour bouncers boot out Walter," says the Sun.
"What the heckler's going on," adds the Mirror.

The party has apologised, but that cuts little ice with the papers.

And amid the melee, spare a thought for Stephen Smerdon, a landlord from Hertfordshire, who out of the blue finds his picture on the front of the Mirror, after being identified as the person who was Cherie Blair's first kiss.

"We were 11," he says.
"I was seven," she counters.
Ah yes, I remember it well.

"To me she will always be the most beautiful girl in the world," adds thrice-married Stephen.

Don't you just love party conference season?


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked: How many rounds of applause did Tony Blair's conference speech get? Forty-three percent correctly answered that it was 62. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
Help me out here. In Boy, 11, banned from driving , 28 September, a boy is banned for a year for driving charges. But with him being underage, isn't he banned by default? What's the point banning someone for a year if they shouldn't be driving anyway?
Darryl Ashton,
London, UK

Re Blogging v dogging: I try to invent a new word every day to randomly confuse the un-initiated. Today's is "Plogging". It's like Blogging, but using just photos. "Fauxhunt" was yesterday's - meaning a "legal" fox hunt where the fox "accidentally" dies.

In the How Much of A Geek Are You quiz, you state that defragging is cleaning up a disk to make it fetch data faster. This is incorrect. It is more like tidying it up. When a PC writes to disk it picks the random free space and writes to it. If it encounters data as it is writing (for instance if you have a large file) then it will find some more free disk space and write there. It continues jumping around the disk until it has finished writing what it has to. A file that is not in one continuous block is known as fragmented. Defragmenting (aka defragging) is when the disk puts all the files as continuous blocks so that the head doesn't have to jump around the disk finding the various blocks. I hope this clears up any confusion.
Anton Allen,
Birmingham, West Midlands

Re my letter to the Monitor yesterday, I did it. I managed to get Gigi Rongak into "normal" conversation. Admittedly it took eating three apples in public before I successfully managed to 1) get a piece of apple skin stuck and 2) have someone ask what the problem was. But still...!

How is possible that the word "star" (Reality TV star cheated benefits, 27 September) has been devalued to the point where it applies to a participant in a show with the words "Wife Swap" in the title. I would argue that, at the very least, this headline warrants the application of "ironic quotes" around the offending word.
Jeremy Langworthy,

I was amazed when reading today's Paper Monitor on the wetsuit and vacuum cleaner story to see the expression "Man alive!" Haven't heard that in years. How about reviving some other anachronistic exclamations such as "by thunder", "holy smoke" and maybe even "gadzooks". P.S. Shouldn't "man alive" actually be "person alive", or would that be PCGM?


It's time for Punorama, our pun-writing competition.

Kermit the Frog
Kermit's world tour starts next month
The rules are straightforward - we choose a story which has been in the news, and invite you to create an original punning headline for it.

This week, it's Kermit the Frog going on a world tour to celebrate his 50 years in showbusiness.

The star of the Muppet Show will make 50 stops, including the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and, more unexpectedly, a Frog Leg Festival in Florida.

The results are:

Phileas Frog. You weren't the only one. Equally popular was Around the world in 50 hops and Croaking all over the world.

A leap ahead is Kermit The Frog Legs It Around The World by Meta in the Netherlands, The Unfrogettable Tour by Phil in Stafford and Globe Hopper by Sarah from Calgary, Canada.

The judges were tickled pink as a Piggy by Froguent Flyer by S Smith in Buckingham and On the toad again by Norm Brown in Branxton, New South Wales.

Here Toad-ay, Gone Tomorrow by Nigel Macarthur, London, and Kermit to get legless in Florida by Jason Clarke, Halifax, also went down well.

But the winner, leaving competitors green with envy, is Toadaly Kermitted Star by Chris Field.


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Medical miracle of the day, from the Daily Mail.

"How a wetsuit and a vacuum cleaner helped Anna regain her figure," it says.

"The speed with which Anna Friel regained her figure after giving birth to her first child did not go unnoticed. Now the actress has revealed how she did it - with a wetsuit and a vacuum cleaner. While the props might suggest a bizarre and potentially risky DIY regime, they are actually the components of a a hi-tech alternative to liposuction which dispenses with the need for surgery."

To aid the imagination, the paper shows a picture of model wearing said wetsuit, with tube coming from chest going to suction device, running on a treadmill. Man alive does it look impressive. And a bit scary.

A nutritionist sounds a note of caution: "It reminds me of the old days of sweat pants where liquid is simply sweated off... The vacuum machine would have to be awfully powerful to draw blood into the area, and if it does that, I am concerned it would lead to burst blood vessels and internal bruising."

The usual disclaimer ("only works as part of a calorie controlled diet") is somehow missing from the story, but we get the message.


In yesterday's Mini-Quiz, 42% of you said it was the fifth anniversary of DAB digital radio and 30% said it was the seventh. It was actually the 10th, which 28% of you got right. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


Letters logo
Following the success of "natch watch", perhaps we could have "PCGM watch", standing for "Political correctness gone mad". A quick search of the BBC site reveals nine instances of this phrase in the last three months.
Dan Webb,
London, UK

The interactive programme which Gina recalls (Monitor letters, Monday) was "What's Your Story?" and did indeed star Sylvester McCoy. I remember particularly because I had some fabulous plot ideas for that show when I was seven and none of them were chosen...
Jane Verne,
London, UK

Re: Tingo, nakkele and other wonders, 27 September, I would like to point out that English too has a word for space between the teeth: diastema.
Lucie Field,
San Francisco US

Re: Dave Godfrey's request for a story including all the words in the Tingo story (Monitor letters, Tuesday). My offering: "Imogen had recently aquired a gigi rongak. Her face was well and truly Backpfeifengesicht. Whereever she walked people shouted "bakku-shan! bakku-shan!" The local fyrassistent was a bit of of a Vori Vori but had the most beautiful vetullhen. Imogen longed to play igunaujannguaq with him but alas, because of her face, she had to content herself with uitwaaien."

After reading Tingo, Nakkele and Other Wonders, I feel a desire to use my newly expanded vocabulary. I've decided Gigi Rongak is the easiest to bring up during a dinner party but can any readers give me a suggested pronunciation?

At 10.50am today I clicked the Back button from the Monitor page and was transported back in time to the Magazine index of 20 September. But when I tried to repeat this jaunting experience everything was back to 27 September. Eddies in the space/time continuum again?
Kieran Boyle,
Oxford, England


An experimental cultural exchange between Magazine readers.

Simon Lemin of Bristol gives his thoughts on Guy Ritchie's Revolver.

Simon Lemin
With all the critics ranting on about how pretentious Guy Ritchie's new film is and that the plot is impossible to follow, I decided to watch it myself. I'm not sure if it was Guy Ritchie's plan to make people curious enough to go, or maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I was more intelligent than the critics and that I could follow the plot of a film. It was the latter, and I was right. The film is easy enough to follow if you're not sat there trying to think up witty headlines; it does however make you think, leaves you questioning certain aspects and, in my case, wanting to go back and watch it again to clear up one or two points. The cinematography and lighting are up to Ritchie's usual standards, I don't however think it is the best film that he's ever done - but a lot better than some of the alternatives that I've watched recently. If you're capable of making up your own mind and not swayed by the 'critics' give it a shot.


Newspapers logo

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What with tales of David Blunkett's personal life, the row between two BBC presenters (about which we shall say nothing) and revealing insights into how Gordon Brown's wife Sarah is coping with the prospect of succeeding Cherie Blair, there's not too much room for debate in the papers about the IRA decommissioning.

But this one snippet from the Guardian about the two clergymen who were witnesses to the destruction of the weapons can't be allowed to pass.

"Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist church in Ireland whose father, an RUC man, was murdered by the IRA, told last night how he helped to drag sackfuls of explosives to be weighed and checked by the general. His fellow church witness, Father Alex Reid, a Catholic priest who had been instrumental in paving the way for the first IRA ceasefire, was too frail to assist, so had stood by, smoking his pipe."

For the love of God, put that light out!


In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz we asked you to estimate how much Tony Hart's Plasticine sidekick Morph had fetched on eBay. 53% of you thought 4,478, and you were wrong. It was 1,141. Apologies for technical problems yesterday morning. Today's mini-quiz is on the index now.


Letters logo
There's an old saying in magic circles that if you want to keep something secret, publish it. I think that's true with design as well (The old new, 21 September) . Articles have been published recently that try to determine WHY the iPod design and interface feels so clean and looks so intuitive - I think this helps explain that even better. Good design is good design, whether it is brand new, 50 years old, or 1500 years old (the book hasn't changed much over the years.)
Durin Gleaves,
Seattle, WA US

Re: C4 plans interactive drama series, 26 September. Channel 4 believes its drama series to be the first such interactive event. But is it? I have a vague memory of CBBC (in the good old Broom Cupboard days) running a drama where viewers called up, not only to select from a list of endings, but to suggest tomorrow's plot. I think it had Sylvester McCoy in it. Does anyone else remember this?

Re Fancy a free book, 23 September. Having returned to the article today to read the comments, I notice Neil, UK is currently carrying around ("to while away the bus journey home") Snow Crash and the Baroque Trilogy by Neal Stephenson and Homer's The Iliad. Is he some kind of weight lifter, as these are five very heavy (in weight) books, and would soon have me at my GP with a bad back if they were carried with me every day.
N Tysoe,
London UK

You say: "Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index, and will be particularly enjoyed by fans of the old BBC children's show Take Hart." (Monitor, 26 September). It should have read..."will be particularly enjoyed by fans of the old FORM_LAYOUT bad quality control problem"!

Regarding the vacuum-powered breast-enlarging bra (Paper Monitor, Monday), could this development be seen as an escalation in the bra wars?
New Jersey, US

After reading last week's Paper Monitor digest of reviews of Guy Ritchie's Revolver, who really wants to go and see it? Personally I can't remember the last time Ive wanted to see a film more, albeit to see how bad it is. Could this be a clever ploy by Ritchie: make a rubbish film, critics slate it people go see what the fuss is about and - hey presto - loads-a-money.
Andrew Burnip,
Newcastle upon Tyne

Your article on odd words from foreign languages (Tingo, nakkele and other wonders, 26 September) is crying out for a competition. To write a short story (sensibly) using as many of these words as possible. Any takers?
Dave Godfrey, Swindon


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor today has no time to report the Daily Mail's fascinating article about a vacuum-powered breast-enlarging bra. But it is diverted by the wave of Cash in the Attic among the families of the nation's deceased public figures.

The Times reports a garage sale held by Robert Maxwell's son Kevin, at which a kayak sold for 15.

And the Telegraph reports the proposed auction of late Alan Clark's wine cellar.

Clark had kept many of the bottles deep beneath Saltwood Castle for 30 years. Many of the cases had rotted. But aside from the grandeur of living in a castle, the picture painted could be from anyone's loft.

Christie's head of wine sales told the paper: "As we hunted through the labyrinth of chambers, we started to come across cases, and sometimes just single bottles, which which he had squirrelled away, perhaps for special occasions. It was a tough manoeuvre because we found them behind stacks of furniture, under carpets and tapestries and behind garden furniture."

Ahh yes, whose storage space isn't crowded up with tapestries nowadays?

Meanwhile, Paper Monitor's eye was caught over the weekend by a new column running in the Guardian. It's excellent - it's called "What we've learned", and is a collection of nine unusual facts collected over the previous week, such as "Chivalry could make men live longer." It strikes Paper Monitor as a truly original idea for a running feature, but suggests a slight alteration to the title. "Nine things we've learned" perhaps. Or maybe "Nine things we didn't know this time last week".


In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz we asked - what did the pilot of the Jetblue plane which made emergency landing apologise to passengers for? It was for making a "less-than-perfect landing" - he did after all, touch down 6ins off the centre line. Fifty-five percent of you got the correct answer. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index, and will be particularly enjoyed by fans of the old BBC children's show Take Hart.

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