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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
The Magazine Monitor

Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, our weblog of news, culture, media and your letters. Fixed points in our universe include :

  • MON: Si's riddle
  • WEDS: Punorama
  • THURS: Caption comp
  • FRI: Friday Objective
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know

    10 things we didn't know this time last week

    10 Daisies by Richard Lowkes

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

    1. Rubber gloves could save you from lightning.
    More details

    2. There's a word for those who fear Friday 13th - paraskevidekatriaphobia.

    3. Britain's most popular artist is Doug Hyde, whose sentimental and comic images of animals, hearts and moon-faced smiley people were almost unknown two years ago.
    More details

    4. Kevin Spacey goes to work on a moped.

    5. John Donne, widely considered the greatest of metaphysical poets, was also a songwriter. His songs will be performed at St Paul's Cathedral next month.

    6. Orlando Bloom does not use e-mail. "I prefer a more personal touch," he told Marie Claire.

    7. Amanda Holden was paid £20 to ride naked round Bournemouth on a scooter while a student.

    8. Nearly half of all GPs earn more than £100,000, according to a survey.

    9. Birth rates in England and Wales reached a 12-year high in 2004 and death rates an all-time low.

    10. The spiciness of sauces is measured in what are known as Scoville Units.
    More details

    Thanks to Faye Horma, UK, and Bryce Cooke.

    Got any news facts for 10 things? Send them using the form below. Or if you see any pictures of 10 things, send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk with "10 things" in the subject line.

    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.


    It's a real shame that, despite reverting to their old name, the "dePartmENt for trade and InduStry" can still be known by the Sun's oh so witty acronym. They'll wonder why they didn't think of it sooner.
    Jonathan Bushell,
    Reading, UK

    In article about Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 May, alcoholisim is defined as "a set of accountable familial tendencies resulting in poor behavioural choices". Reading that drove me to the drink.
    Alan Addison,
    Newcastle, UK

    With the ban on "hoodies" (Prescott backing hooded tops, 12 May, does this mean that Nottingham will be known as the Robin X county? And for the kiddies - will we lose Little red Riding X?
    Dan Clapton,

    Is there any evidence that anyone's actually playing Sudoku, or are the newspapers just all falling over themselves to outdo each other for something that nobody actually understands anyway?
    Martin Deutsch,
    Glasgow, UK

    Looking at the picture of David Attenborough planting a tree at Kew (What we don't know about the world, 11 May), I can't help wondering if he hadn't just recalled a line from that morning's Soduko puzzle.

    tO oWaIn WiLlIaMs In SlOuGh On UnWaRrAnTeD cApItAlIsAtIoN (mOniTOr letTERs, THursDaY). CaLm DoWn DeAr,It'S oNlY a CoLuMn! (P.s. ReAd 'nUtS')
    tim mcmahon,


    Oh ok then, we give up.

    Everyone else in the world except the Magazine has got their own novel twist on Sudoku. Hand-written, original, classic, words, easy, hard, difficult - you take your pick as you choose your publication.

    But we know that Monitor readers demand hardcore originality. So please send us your suggestions, with spiffy illustrative grids if you are so enabled, showing how the Magazine's own Japanese-style puzzle could do what the rest of the media has so far failed to do.

    The best of your suggestions are included below:

    How about Terroku? The middle line reads off a sequence which will be the codes to launch nuclear warheads (or so they think). Then those playing could be spotted and rounded up and charged as terror-suspects.
    David, UK

    Why doesn't BBC Online pioneer a new 3-D Sudoku? Imagine a "Sudokube", where all six faces are an individual Sudoku puzzle, with each face matching its neighbour along the edge.
    Charles Frean Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

    A competition where 893176542, say, is the amusing answer, and the readers have to pose the question (any similarity to the bonus question is purely coincidental).
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    Do A schoolboy version, and let them share in the joke. Obviously, the rules will have to be rewritten, but that will allow the line 53668008 to be included - absolutely hilarious if you have a calculator and are aged under 13.
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    This my amazing 'Thingumagrid', where numbers in the coloured cells all have to add up to the same number (in this case 18). The image includes an incomplete and complete grid. And, with lines like 384065, it is more unpercievably witty than even the Guardian!
    S Murray, Chester, England Why doesn't BBC Online pioneer a new 3-D Sudoku? Imagine a "Sudokube", where all six faces are an individual Sudoku puzzle, with each face matching its neighbour along the edge ...
    Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts

    My version of Soduku would be three-dimensional and called sod-u-too. I'd use politicans instead of numbers. Finding nine, three-dimensional politicians would be a seriously mind-stretching exercise.
    Chris B, Bedford, UK

    I put this together the other day as an (almost) humorous idea of what the red-tops' Su Dokus might look like. It might suit the Magazine's audience....(especially on a Friday afternoon...)
    Neil Golightly, Manchester, UK

    Establish correspondence of three digit sequence codes in each 3x3 grid to type of sushi that must be eaten by Magazine readers at lunch. Sea urchin could correspond to 615, for example.
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    Having done my best to ignore the latest craze sweeping the nation, I've only just noticed that you refer to it as Soduku while the papers seem to have it as Sudoku. Which is correct? Actually, I don't care. Sud it, in fact.
    Mark Gillies, London, UK

    I think you see what I've done here.
    Paul Taylor Manchester, UK Magazine readers are people on the go, movers with a mission, and don't have time to waste on trivia. So, for us, how about a Quick Version, with clues? Like: One Across: 357198246, etc?
    David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

    Most of them use number or letters. How about using little images instead? Maybe photos of people and things from the news? And of course make it work via Javascript.
    Mark, Basingstoke

    Giant Sudoku. grid to have 100 squares in each row and column split into 10x10 boxes. Numbers 1-100 to be fitted into each row, column and box
    Andrew Lloyd, brighton


    This week, a Natural History Museum conservator gives Dippy the Diplodocus a light brush to mark its 100th anniversary inside the museum.

    6. Mark Duffield, UK
    Ah... ah... achoooo!

    5. J R, England
    Tonight Cat, I'm going to be T-Rex!!

    4. Ian Downey, UK
    "And with a little blusher along the cheekbones, you can look half a million years younger."

    3. Nick Bourne, London
    Itchy, flaky scalp?

    2. Chris Holmes, UK
    "... well darling... when you've been in the craft as long as myself..."

    1. Chris Field, US
    That's too much off the top.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Earlier this week, Paper Monitor noted a degree of unrest in Britain's boardrooms at the government's post-election rebranding of the Department of Trade and Industry as the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry. There was much fnarr, fnarring at the Sun, which pieced together the acronym PENIS by taking key letters out of the title. Well, titter ye no more. Today's Financial Times reports that, in true Post Office/Consignia style, Number 10 has backtracked on the name change, and reverted to the Department for Trade and Industry.

    Meanwhile, Sudoku-watch notes that today's Guardian supplement G2 boasts a Sudoku puzzle on every page. The Times meanwhile, goes on the offensive against claims in yesterday's Daily Mail that IT was first off the blocks with Sudoku last year. "Really?" asks Times diarist Andrew Pierce. "On November 12 The Times unveiled its Su Doku game. By coincidence the Mail launched a similar game three days later, calling it CodeNumber. Yesterday it became 'Sudoku'."


    In yesterday's Daily Question on the Magazine index, 78% of you answered correctly that Wigan is to have its own version of Monopoly. Today's question can be found on the index.


    I haven't met all that many Canadians, but Julie Bosworth from Ontario looks remarkably like a Bench.
    Liz, UK

    Re Denzil in Romford, there was me thinking the baby was abusing passers by with cries of 'Conservative', and was astounded at such political knowledge at a young age. Yesterday's replies have thankfully cleared it up for me.
    James, London

    To Denzil in Romford, perhaps the little tyke is ready to learn the Donnie and Marie tune?
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    Re Jez Cope's comment re Emma Bowlers comment, Monitor Letters, Wednesday: I don't know where you buy your dope, but cannabis is certainly cheaper than alcohol and caffeine.
    A Y Mous, Bristol, UK

    I didn't manage to complete the Guardian Soduko puzzle. It wasn't that difficult, but halfway through I collapsed in a fit of giggles.
    David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

    Please, please, please can you stop printing certain words in the "Quote for the day" in uppercase letters? I'm sure we are all capable of adding in the emphasis on certain words for ourselves.... If I wanted unwarranted capitalisation I'd read Heat magazine.
    Owain Williams, Slough


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Yesterday, the Magazine gave you six reasons not to feel bad that a 33-year-old had been appointed shadow chancellor. And today, as so often, star cartoonist Matt in the Telegraph stands out. Boy holding football knocks on door and asks friend's dad: "Can George come out and join the shadow cabinet?" (See internet link.)

    Meanwhile, Sudoku-watch goes on. Today the Daily Mail claims that it, all along, was the paper to introduce Sudoku to the UK - although it concedes that it did so under the name "Codenumber". But the Mirror is also today joining the fray with its own version of the Japanese number puzzle, and making the bold claim solving it could slow down the onset of Alzheimer's.

    Today's solution in the Guardian contains the following "almost imperceptible witticism": 312875946.


    In yesterday's Daily Question on the Magazine index, 56% of you answered correctly that Jeremy Paxman was 55. Happily for him, 30% of you thought he was 49. Today's question can be found on the index.


    Re Emma Bowler's comment, Monitor Letters, Tuesday: as a student myself, I've generally found that the drugs of choice for students are alcohol and caffeine. These are both much more common (and cheaper) than cannabis.
    Jez Cope,

    Hooray for the daily news quiz, now I don't have to wait for Friday to feel stupid and inadequate!

    I have been disappointed that the Paper Monitor hasn't managed to find any amusing lines from the newspapers making jokes about Andrew Adonis's name.
    Harvey Williams,

    Re: the hunt for "almost imperceptible witticisms" in the Guardian's Soduku solutions. "893176542". "176452893". Actually I have to say I did find that quite amusing.
    Andy Calder,
    Congleton, UK

    Is the assertion that 'there are still millions of species that have yet to be discovered and documented' a classic case of a known unknown? (What we don't know about the world, 11 May. Or is it an unknown unknown...?
    John Whapshott,
    Guildford, Surrey

    To Denzil in Romford Monitor letters, Tuesday: as soon as the baby says "the c-word", say: 'Oh yes you can!' Hopefully you will then spend a happy five minutes in a pantomime 'Can-Can't, Can, Can't' argument. When it happened to me I just blamed his gran's Scottish accent. Nothing whatsoever to do with watching Pulp Fiction during late night feeds...
    Southend, UK

    The only thing I can think of is to teach the baby the words, "you see how cute I am?" as quickly as possible.
    Catherine O,
    Maidenhead, UK


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

    Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney
    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 Mrs Bridget Jones - the wedding of Renee Zellweger, who wed country singer Kenny Chesney on a Caribbean island.

    The 36-year-old Oscar winner tied the knot after a four-month romance.

    Judges' verdict

    The most popular entry was Bridget Jones' Dowry but it was used in a national newspaper so a dollop of benefit of the doubt goes to Brian Saxby, Graham Valentine, Andy in Bexleyheath, Tane Piper and Kenny Luke.

    Worth a mention is Bride-get Jones (Angela Barlow in Liverpool), Renee Zellwedder (Bob Blainey, WSM UK), Chesney's One and Only (Paul Childs, Ormskirk, Lancashire) and Wedding Bells for Renee Zells by Rod Horwood in Aylesbury.

    A clever, if punless, submission comes from Nigel Macarthur in London, with Weddings: One, Units of Alcohol: Ahem!

    But the winner is Burning Heart in Chest-ney cured by Rennie, from Ketan Mistry in Dublin.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    The tale of the 300 striking French surgeons who have decamped to Pontins at Camber Sands is fertile ground for reporters. And the Telegraph's David Sapsted doesn't disappoint: "One visitor cast a glance at the 1968-built camp and then, greeted by the enormous plastic octopus that bestrides the reception area, muttered 'formidable' in a dark, Gallic and not entirely complimentary sort of way. Some seemed at a loss to appreciate the significance of the camp's Queen Vic pub, while others - owing to a schoolboy error in French on the part of a Daily Telegraph reporter - got the impression that English holiday camps were famous for their nobbly nose competitions."


    In yesterday's Daily News Quiz on the Magazine index, 64.5% of you answered correctly that before he was pope, John Paul II owned a 1975 Ford Escort.


    I object to the comment about cannabis being the "drug of choice for students" (Cannabis: Time to rethink, 9 May). My own experience is that there is as much use of the drug among young people not at university as those that are. The piece finishes saying that the media has to be responsible and 'Rhetoric is a dangerous drug in its own right'. I've had enough of the out-of-date portrayal of students dropped so casually into pieces such as this.
    Emma Dalby Bowler,
    Loughborough, UK

    I know that the BBC is decentralising, but isn't this (right) taking it to extremes?
    Stuart Moore,
    Cambridge, UK

    RE the letter from Robert, Nottingham, Monday: Wikipedia is not the new Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for two important reasons. (1) It isn't animated, and (2) it doesn't have the words "Don't Panic" in big friendly letters on the front cover.
    Gordon Lawrence,
    Cambridge, UK

    www.h2g2.com is the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
    Martin Brennan,

    What's all this talk of an election?
    Adam Obeng,
    Mougins, France

    Now the election is over, can we please get back to the important business of spotting annoying things we see in print? I'd like to nominate "and the rest, as they say, is history". As almost everyone insists on including "as they say" in this phrase, it should now really be, "and the rest, as they say, as they say, is history". I'll get me coat.
    Johnny B,

    My 18-month old baby has started to say the c-word to passers-by. What can I do?
    Denzil Granger,


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    One of the products of the government reshuffle is the renaming of the Department of Trade and Industry into the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry. The Telegraph scarcely conceals its contempt for the rebranding in reporting a government explanation: "The department will be refocussed and reinvigorated, playing a greater role on productivity." CBI boss Sir Digby Jones tells the paper, in a pop at Labour's election slogan, that he thought the name was "harking backwards, not forward". The Sun, meanwhile, joins the fun by spelling out its claim that the Department of "Productivity, ENergy and InduStry" is being referred to in the Square Mile as... well, Monitor readers can work it out.

    Meanwhile the battle of Sudoku continues - with the new kid on the block being "SUNDOKU" - which, according to the Sun is "the best Japanese invention since the Walkman!" The Monitor, meanwhile, has taken a moment to look for the much heralded "almost imperceptible witticisms" in the way the numbers are arranged in the Guardian's Soduku - which exist, the paper promised us yesterday, because its puzzles are handwritten, not generated by computer. And, with a first line reading "893176542" and a second line of "176452893", the almost imperceptible witticisms abound. No need to fear for the future of British comedy after all.


    In yesterday's Daily News Quiz, one of the Magazine's new features, 54.5% of you answered correctly that that the Purple Frog's Nest was not one of the UK's endangered plants. For today's question, see the Magazine index.


    May I be the first to ask if, following the weekend's news, Mr Blair's honeymoon is over?
    Edward Higgins,

    Alas, the Election Monitor won't die, it will just be asleep for four years.

    Ben Salt and friends at Queen's College Cambridge
    Photo finish: Ben Salt of Cambridge with a late addition to our party pictures
    Seeing the cut-out masks in your party pack reminds me of a curious incident at the weekend at a bookshop where I work. A woman came in asking for a book about those end-of-the-pier life-size cartoons where you stick your face in the hole. I cannot imagine why she wanted a book on them, but does anyone have any idea what they are called?

    Hyndburn has elected an M.P. called Greg Pope. Presumably he will take the title Pope Gregory.

    Is Wikipedia the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?


    Each week, Magazine reader Si sets a riddle for you to puzzle over. And now we are proud to announce that Si's Riddle has been certified "Soduku free"!

    Degrading Welcome back uo uhe yfekly tjddle. Wjf hnfction mv jlpblly tzht. Ylh gswzgs ox juwvxru. Dkqp lvtj!

    Send your solutions using the form below. Answer next week.

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

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

    Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages

    Three weeks ago, the Magazine reported on the increasing appeal of Sudoku, a Japanese numbers puzzle which looks a bit like the kind of thing you used to get in the back of the Radio Times. While the Monitor can't imagine what it must be like to have the time to try to do one of these puzzles, someone somewhere must be keen on them because, as we reported, the broadsheets were falling over themselves to get their own versions.

    Two more must now be added: the Independent on Sunday yesterday launched "Godoku" which, despite its name is, it says, "devilish". And today the Guardian lumbers on to the bandwagon, but simultaneously trying to stand aside from the fray. Its version is "hand-generated...rated by addicts as far superior to the computer-spawned versions which have become popular elsewhere". And how will you know the difference? The Guardian's version will include "almost imperceptible witticisms".

    Bring it on!


    Normal service is now resumed. Apologies for any inconvenience our national service might have caused.

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