After taking in consecutive stories about Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, who passed away on 5 December, and Rob Ford, the current mayor of Toronto, Ontario province, Canada, Hugh points out the sharp contrast in behavior between the two men with a sarcastic comment (clearly meant more to criticize Mr. Ford’s record): ‘What a wondrous thing is man’. Hugh is possibly paraphrasing the first line of a famous passage from Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’:
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving,
how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension,
how like a god! (Hamlet Act II scene 2)
#nelson mandela #rob ford #sarcasm #shakespeare #decoding hugh
Hugh is figuratively exploring the meaning of the words ‘critic’, ‘critique’ and ‘criticise’ this time around (and thank you to Village Decoder BabalooBlue for that turn of phrase).
Watching Martin Scorsese's remake of 'Cape Fear' can have side effects. Like reading a contemporaneous review afterwards: it’s not a good idea, though for very different reasons! Hugh dislikes those reviews so much he muses about ‘remak[ing] Theatre of Blood'—a film starring Vincent Price, in which a Shakespearean actor takes revenge on the critics who denied him recognition.
Hugh’s main difficulty with criticism seems to lie in the method used—though he slyly quotes from Max Ehrmann's Desiderata to let us know what he thinks of critics in general (and compares the poem itself to homey or trite sayings printed on tea towels).
Hugh appears to be saying that critics focus on the apparent ability of the director who created the film, and not the difficulty of the project itself. He suggests this point of view is hypocritical because ‘[the critics] must know how hard it is to write a good article’ (perhaps another sly poke at the critics’ own abilities).
Hugh’s particular focus of anger seems to be a statement by Pauline Kael, who was one of the most influential and controversial literary critics of her time, especially in America. He repeats her statement (‘I get it’) in varying forms throughout his commentary, referring at one point to Harold Bloom, an important contemporary critic of the current era, and a specialist on Shakespeare’s works. Hugh suggests Ms Kael is arrogant in her pronouncement that she only needed to watch a movie once to comprehend the entire work. He wonders aloud what the result would be if Bloom had read Hamlet just once, or Scorsese had given the screenplay for ‘Cape Fear’ just one read-through, because ‘they got it’.
(Fellow Village Decoder Maineac points out there is evidence that Ms Kael did actually watch movies more than once upon occasion, and that her claim otherwise may be a bit exaggerated.)
Having vented his feelings, Hugh lets us know he’s working hard to ‘[resume] normal service’—and anyone who’s ever dealt with internet service providers, cable companies or phone service understands exactly what that means!
Many thanks to fellow Village Decoder Ana for the excellent links provided.
This tweet really needs no decoding, so we’d just like to provide the link to the Comic Relief website here. Have a look at the excellent work they do.
ETA: If you haven’t seen the L’oreal ads, here are some videos. The first is a tongue-in-cheek off-the cuff video Hugh seems to have ad-libbed. The next is the actual ad. Lastly a behind-the-scenes clip.
Late night filming really takes it out of you… (contains spoilers for ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’)
First, finding blood on his feet after taking off his ‘fancy costume shoes’, Hugh compares himself to Ginger Rogers, the American actress, dancer and singer, and probably most famous for her on-screen partnership with Fred Astaire. Rogers is rumoured to have turned a pair of white dancing shoes red with blood after she had to redo a dancing scene over and over again. We’re also reminded of a famous quote made by Bob Thaves (the creator of the American comic strip, Frank and Ernest): "Sure, [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards…and in high heels!" ,
Then, Hugh draws on the saying that there is always one ‘idiot’ in a group and if you can’t spot him it must be you. He uses the very British word ‘git' here, a mild profanity, more severe than idiot, and used for someone incompetent or stupid.
This leads straight into a comparison with Roger Ackroyd, a character from Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’. Unfortunately, Hugh gets his reference wrong, as he meant to compare himself to the narrator of the story, Dr. Sheppard, who (in a remarkable plot twist) turns out to be the murderer.
Slightly embarrassed about getting his reference wrong, he says he now feels like he has ‘stripped lead off the roof of St Agatha’s’, i.e. he has defiled a national ‘monument/institution’ like Agatha Christie - an act of vandalism.
Foldable guitars - fair enough. But foldable celery? We’re really starting to worry what they put into the water in Vancouver.
At least folding guitars do actually exist! Fender now makes one, as does VoyageAire and another company in the UK, Snap Dragon. Folding guitars, along with other ‘down-sized’ instruments such as the Martin Backpacker, are meant to be convenient for travel—they are small, light or compact enough to be easily carried onto airplanes or stowed in luggage, taken camping, etc.
Perhaps our man in Vancouver thinks foldable guitars are about as useful or in demand as foldable celery. Another invention the world didn’t need?
In light of this recent tweet we thought it only fitting to share a recipe for a Classic Martini with you:
Ingredients for 1 glass:
2 ounces/60ml good quality gin or vodka
splash or 1/2 ounce/15ml of dry vermouth
pimento stuffed green olives (big ones are best) or a lemon twist
Chill your martini glasses by putting them in the freezer.
Pour gin or vodka into a cocktail shaker filled with the ice cubes. Either shake or stir (!) until cold, at least 10 seconds.
Strain into a chilled glass. Serve straight up, i.e. no ice in the glass itself. Garnish either with a couple of olives or a lemon twist.
An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; for example orchestra can be rearranged into carthorse. Someone who creates anagrams may be called an “anagrammatist”. The original word or phrase is known as the subject of the anagram.
Any word or phrase that exactly reproduces the letters in another order is an anagram. However, the goal of serious or skilled anagrammatists is to produce anagrams that in some way reflect or comment on the subject. Such an anagram may be a synonym or antonym of its subject, a parody, a criticism, or praise; e.g. William Shakespeare = I am a weakish speller
An example familiar to House viewers would be House offering ‘Huge ego, sorry’ as an anagram of his name, Gregory House [Season 3, episode “House Training”]. Hugh is suggesting an anagram of ‘Eleuthera, land of pineapples and lobsters’ would generate enough anagrams to fill a lifetime! He might be right—there are almost 600 anagrams of just the word ‘pineapples’ alone.
Want some fun with anagrams but feel a little intimidated or you’ve never tried it before? Go here:
A master of anagrams: Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”, among other literary works.
This is our take on Hugh’s latest tweet, remembering of course that we are not the final word on what he’s really saying. This is just one possible interpretation.
For the last few days, Hugh felt his life was really blessed and full of positives. So, being Hugh, he’s been on the lookout for something negative to offset all that goodness. And he found it, even though he’s in the Bahamas - it’s bloody HOT! Being a cricket nerd the term ‘negative’ immediately made him think of the Negative XI. So, in cricket terms, the Positive XI have been scoring so much lately, now the scoring for the Negative XI has begun.
An article on Positive and Negative XI players:
Someone is pulling our legs here.
First photo: What Hendon looks like according to Hugh Laurie.
Second photo: What Hendon Way/bypass looks like according to Transport for London.
Climate change is amazing!
Over the last few weeks we’ve been privileged to have Hugh Laurie—‘actor, musician, writer’—join Twitter and begin posting tweets of both great humor and serious intellectual content. His references range far and wide through history, philosophy, science, and more. They reveal a deep and lively…