Accents and acting are always a hazardous mix; all Newfoundlanders know the guffaws or groans when someone tries, and fails, to come close to a local accent. (It's not that hard, Air Farce be damned.) The BBC's Magazine has a piece for movie buffs, taking its spark from Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. A bit
[Gary] Oldman, despite his alarming Russian, has of course made a career out of playing American roles, and doing various accents convincingly. Peter Sellers was another master of accents. In Dr Strangelove he does a comedy German, an uppercrust Englishman and a mild-mannered American, all in the same film.
And how many of those who have recently become fans of the Baltimore cop show The Wire would have guessed that Russell "Stringer" Bell was from Hackney or that the Baltimore twang of Jimmy McNulty was produced by Dominic West, educated at Eton.
And perhaps the greatest accents of recent times were furnished by Americans Gwyneth Paltrow and Renee Zellweger who did upper-middle class English as well as any Englishwoman.
But when things go bad they can go really bad. Everybody remembers Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, but at least that was a comedy. How much worse was Forest Whittaker's frankly ludicrous British accent in The Crying Game, Russell Crowe attempting an English City boy in A Good Year or Sean Connery in most of everything he was ever in?
But context is everything. When Johnny Depp did Cockney in Jack the Ripper movie From Hell he was lambasted. When he did the same accent, again modelled on Keith Richards, to comic effect in Pirates of the Caribbean, it was regarded as amusing. In a good way.
It's all down to your expectations of what you're watching.
From a new Paul Wells column posted yesterday afternoon on Maclean's:
The budget provides $750 million to build new university labs and $2 billion to refurbish old university labs and $250 million to fix federal government labs and $87.5 million for scholarships so graduate students can sit in all those labs. And it cuts the budgets for the granting councils that pay for research. Apparently all those grad students are supposed to do something else in all those labs besides research.
Radiohead put so much effort into sonic knockouts and studio fidgeting, it's sometimes jarring to hear their songs stripped bare. Here's an excerpt from a session with KCRW's Morning Becomes Electic a few years ago.
Amazon is launching the second version of Kindle; will that, you know, kindle interest in e-books beyond the gee-whiz level? I've held off getting one - frankly, I don't need it, and I've got tons of old-fashioned books and magazines around to keep me busy - but I'll admit to being pretty intrigued when it comes on the market Feb. 9.
I somehow missed out on knowing that when Madonna was - what's the right word? inaugurated? - into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, she was serenaded by none other than Iggy Pop, cover two of her tunes: Burning Up and Ray of Light. Iggy was backed up by the Stooges, including the incomparable and now late Ron Asheton buzzsawing away on guitar.
Arcade Fire played an inaugural ball for Barack Obama campaign staffers; the set included a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. (Lest we forget, Win Butler, the singer of the Montreal-based group, is from Texas.)
There was a little déjà vu this week, particularly at the White House, as the old "miserable failure" Google bomb is going off, albeit with links directed to Barack Obama than original target George W. Bush. More at the NYT Bits Blog.
Last week, I posted a video shot at the folk festival in Bannerman Park, in St. John's, of Colleen Power singing New Townie Man. I had no idea a "proper" video was about to be released. And it's hilarious.
I've been getting traffic of people looking for it, which is nice, but I almost feel obliged to post this: the real deal. Enjoy. (And not for the young kids!)
It's been two weeks since we publicly launched What Odds, a blog I created for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. (I look after the news on the website there.)
Recently posted: the latest episode from Living Newfoundland and Labrador, in which you'll learn what the top seller at Auntie Crae's is; and, regular links to Ryan Snoddon's weather blog; tips on podcasts and posted videos from the likes of Rex Murphy and Rick Mercer (we still count them as our own, of course); previews of upcoming highlights on all kinds of programs; and, a nod towards Danny Williams's BeDazzled jacket, which he trotted out to the Juno Awards news conference on Thursday.
This post, by Josh Bernoff on Groundswell, rings true with me, and I'm sure many other journalists: that weary feeling of getting news releases in your e-mail box that have nothing to do with your work. (If feels like spam, smells like spam ... ) I tend to put up with a lot of junk, and indeed that's where I send the stuff. Good on Bernoff for not only insisting he be removed from distribution list, but for naming some of the parties he tangled with.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.