Hotel California | BBC News

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A Smashed Hits about (the) Eagles’ Hotel California:

“Vaguery is the primary tool of songwriters,” Frey told a journalist during a 2003 pro-am golf tournament in California’s Pebbel Beach, where he was partnered with Huey Lewis. “It works, it means whatever the listener wants it to mean.”

Sources: History of the Eagles; Hit Story: It All Started Because Of Rattlesnakes; Rockin’ ‘Round The Round, SF Gate; Jennifer Parker’s McBusted: The Story of the World’s Biggest Super Band and this lovely data collection from Southern California Public Radio.

Trump, double-negatives and politics | BBC News

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A quick piece for the BBC about double negatives:

It’s hard to understate how often we find ourselves using two negatives when we don’t mean to – in fact, this sentence begins with a common example

See also:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight | Financial Times

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A piece by me for the FT’s Life of a Song series on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”:

Solomon Linda recorded the spine-chilling isiZulu-language ‘Mbube’ in Johannesburg in 1939. Some he improvised as the tapes rolled. And for those moments, the song belonged to Linda.
 
Then he was bought out for ten shillings by Eric Gallo, the Italian wideboy who owned the studio, and who now owned ‘Mbube’. Even when it became a local hit, Linda could have had no idea what he had given away.

I am indebted to Rian Malan’s collection of essays, and we are all indebted to his indefatigability.

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned:

Richard Osman’s House Of Games | BBC2

Series two begins on BBC2 today.

particularly pleasing… This is trivia, plus; it requires a bit of wit, and imagination, even, certainly silliness — Sam Wollaston, Guardian

…just how much I loved BBC2’s new quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games… Like all the best TV quizzes, ROHOG scores very highly on the playalongability chart – so the half hour fair flies by — Ian Hyland, Mirror

the BBC’s new infectiously funny prime time show… deserves praise for finding a sweet spot which fits all audiences — Adam Bloodworth, Metro

it shouldn’t be a surprise that [Richard Osman’s House of Games] is terrific… The victor gets to choose between a dartboard, pasta maker, cushion and dressing gown, but really, we’re all winners hereRobert Epstein, Independent

viewers couldn’t stop laughing… The show’s debut was a success by all means as fans loved Richard’s new format — Helen Daly, Express

Stand By Me | BBC News

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A piece for BBC News about the use of Stand By Me at the royal wedding:

That’s why Harry and Meghan’s choice of song meant more than if they’d gone with, say, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You. And the performance by the Kingdom Choir takes Stand By Me back further still, re-infusing it with the defiance as well as the devotion of gospel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Heat Map | BBC Radio 5Live

I am a panellist on Heat Map this Sunday.

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Under discussion: cultural appropriation, Kanye West and The Communist Manifesto.

My choice of intro music:

Arts Club with Will Gompertz | BBC Radio 5 Live

I am a guest on the first episode of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Arts Club. Tickets for the recording are available from The Bill Murray club in Islington.

Update: More episodes with me —

  • 2 Feb 2018: Art for Trump, Dylan v Cohen, What does Banksy look like and is The Bayeaux Tapestry a bit rubbish? (My sacred cow: The Laughing Cavalier)
  • 16 Feb 2018: Florence, portraits and the music of our youth (My sacred cow: The Great Bear)
  • 18 Mar 2018: Awards Shows, the NME, and TV shows for the Obamas (My sacred cow: Julius Caesar)

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American-style crosswords | The Guardian

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I’m writing some American-style puzzles at the Guardian [feed].

For British solvers, the main differences are that abbreviations and fragments of phrases are allowed. All squares are part of an across as well as a down, so there’s more ambiguity.

The puzzles are presented as printable PDFs, but are better approached as .puz files using Across Lite or better still Crossword Solver.

  1. And We’re Off! [ medium: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  2. Cheers! [ medium: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  3. PO… [ tougher: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  4. Store’s In What? [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  5. Cryptic Currencies [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  6. (miscellaneous) [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  7. Money Talks [ tougher: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  8. Shoot! [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]

See also:

Masterclass: Craft of Comedy Entertainment | Bafta

I’m part of the panel for a Bafta event:

A panel of comedy entertainment producers and writers discuss the recent renaissance in entertainment television, covering programme development, writing, casting, and the role of satire.

  • 6:45pm, Tuesday, 17 October 2017
  • Princess Anne Theatre, Bafta, 195 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EU
  • Tickets
  • Updated with image by @widowedanthem

Richard Osman’s House Of Games | BBC2

I’m listed as question editor for a new quiz which starts today on BBC Two: Richard Osman’s House of Games.

particularly pleasing… This is trivia, plus; it requires a bit of wit, and imagination, even, certainly silliness — Sam Wollaston, Guardian

…just how much I loved BBC2’s new quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games… Like all the best TV quizzes, ROHOG scores very highly on the playalongability chart – so the half hour fair flies by — Ian Hyland, Mirror

the BBC’s new infectiously funny prime time show… deserves praise for finding a sweet spot which fits all audiences — Adam Bloodworth, Metro

it shouldn’t be a surprise that [Richard Osman’s House of Games] is terrific… The victor gets to choose between a dartboard, pasta maker, cushion and dressing gown, but really, we’re all winners hereRobert Epstein, Independent

viewers couldn’t stop laughing… The show’s debut was a success by all means as fans loved Richard’s new format — Helen Daly, Express

Alternative Election Night | Channel 4

Undated handout photo issued by Channel 4 of David Mitchell and veteran BBC interrogator Jeremy Paxman who will be hosting Channel 4's Alternative Election Night

I have been enjoying working on Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night:

Jeremy Paxman, David Mitchell and Richard Osman present an all-night feast of comedy and comment in Channel 4’s very different take on election night

Inside No 9 | BBC2

I am proud to have performed the minor role of “crossword consultant” for this excellent episode of Inside No 9, The Riddle of the Sphinx:

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I’m further proud to have filled the role of some kind of muse:

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