Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Lawn Tennis In The Modern Cinema


A Few Observations On Lawn Tennis In The Modern Cinema
By Major L. R.“Reggie” Pettifinger-Nabakov (rtd) - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

First of all, I wish to cordially thank Miss Boynton for letting me use her URL blog net site to advance a certain proposition that’s been preying on my mind of late. I don’t mind saying it’s actually damned sporting of the gel, given our recent little contremps over access to the “special” files of the Club’s photographic archives.

Now, I suppose I should cut to the chase. I often take the opportunity when the good lady is out for her bridge night to get an old chum or two over, open a few decent bottles of Beaujolais and the Cockburn’s, rustle up something from the pantry, crumble a bit of that dried herbal material I often confiscate off the ballboys into my pipe, and settle back to enjoy a good sporting film on the Digital Versatile Disc Player.

However something has struck me of late during these evenings. Why is it that it’s the Yanks who make all the good sporting flicks nowadays? For example, we were watching “Any Given Sunday” just the other night. Still couldn’t make head or tail of how the bloody game is played but by crackey that Stone chappie made it all look awfully exciting.

So I said to myself “Reggie, why the blazes aren’t we seeing films like that about lawn tennis.” I mean the game has so much there for dramatic and cinematic purposes. It is full of great personalities dueling in a small and clearly defined arena. It throws lithe sweaty men and women together on and off the court. And there’s simply oodles of money, glamorous locations and positive acres of tanned flesh on display.

Not to mention the fashion. If only my old oppo Teddy Tinling was still around. Queer as a coot of course but bags of fun and with a real eye for how the ladies could be becomingly clad. He would have reveled, absolutely reveled in the opportunities afforded by the modern game to dress one of those Williams lasses or this new crop of nubile young Smashanovas.

(Ahem…the bowl of my pipe appears to have caught on fire. Excuse me for a just a tick.)

That’s better. Where were we? Ah yes. Why are there no decent films about lawn tennis? Damnit, if you can make golf sexy on screen then why not the only game where love is a score! Heh, heh. Good one! Even if I say so m’self.

Yes, yes, there have been a few attempts like “Players” with Dean Sinatra’s son and that recent “Wimbledon” movie which was downright namby-pamby. That Miss Dunst is no Gussy Moran. And Mr Bettany is no Navratilova either let me tell you. I also understand Mr Allen has just made a film called “Match Point.” But let’s face it, his earlier motion pictures are always funnier.

Look, I’ve thought about this conundrum and jotted down a few notes I’d like to share with you. Basically it’s all about stroke production and ball control. (Yes, very bloody droll Archie. Now belt up and open another bottle, there’s a good chap. I’m trying to type on the Personal Computer here and it’s thirsty work I can tell you.)

You see, in sports like baseball, golf or American Football, it is the ball that is in motion and not the player. Yes, they run around an awful lot in the Gridiron game but they are carrying the pigball almost all the time. Except when the quarter wallah throws or kicks it. But only when he’s stationery.

Stationery! That’s the secret. Oops, I meant stationary. Y’see, you can get any old bod to look convincing on film if they’re just hitting or throwing from an immobile position. Just matter of coaching, posing, appropriate body language and editing.

But when both the ball and player are in rapid motion, it gets much trickier. The human brain is an absolutely superb computer, far superior to any gunnery calculator that I’ve been warned away from playing with. It can instantly assess velocity, vector and temporal and spatial awareness, fit that data into tactical and strategic appreciations of the situation and respond in milliseconds while also keeping the sponsors’ shirt-borne logo in frame. But this takes years and years of hard won skill based on relentless practice. Or if you are an Australian, apparently being raised in a paddock or on an antbed.

And we see such skills in action on the box so often. All the ball and net cams, slow motion replays and zooming cameras have made us intimately familiar with how a good tennis player goes about their job of work. Or a cricketer for that matter, another sporting type sadly absent from the modern cinema. Which is noteworthy too in the context of my argument, given that the subcontinent alone is home to over a billion people whose main passions are cricket and the flicks.

(Archie, watch it. You’re treading stilton into the carpet. Clean it up now or Lucinda will have my guts for garters.)

Look basically I think it boils down to this. No strolling player or Hollywood mummer is going to be able to produce a convincing service action, a deftly flicked half volley, a backpedaling smash or a whipped crosscourt forehand on the run unless they have actually spent at least a decade practicing this kind of thing.

Yes indeed I agree they can do amazing things with computers on screen these days. Why only recently I watched some of those Matrix productions that seem to be all the rage among my nephew’s set and I could swear it seemed Mr Reeve was actually acting at times.

But with an extremely mobile sporting discipline like tennis, utterly dependent on sequences of highly complex physical actions performed very fast on the run, and where we are so often exposed to the real thing, I do think that any discernable false move on court immediately undercuts your character’s raison d’etre for appearing as the central figure in a lawn tennis-oriented photoplay in the first place.

But look here chaps, this is just a theory and I would be happy to enter into any correspondence about the matter.

Now I really must return to the box as Archie says he has a new sporting Digital Versatile Disc I really should see, called behind “Behind The Green Door”. It sounds like it must be about billiards or some such.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Indeed, this was a good image to view just before my communication crashed.

My monitor is on the blink and now is not even talking to the computer.

Blogging where and when I can...

word for word

What is the word for a word which is another word spelt backwards?

One of the AskOxford FAQ via J walk

(I liked the sound of that lyrical frequent question)

Friday, March 17, 2006

boot cup

Lord Byron, with his love of the bizarre, was also the possessor of a black leather boot which he used as a drinking vessel.

One among the caudle, fastening and fuddling cups at
Drinking Vessels of Bygone Days
Some time ago, while rummaging through my usual group of second hand bookshops I stumbled across a book on the history of drinking vessels, titled "Drinking Vessels of Bygone Days"... The book is long out of print, and presents a great insight into the cups and glasses that we all drink out of, but never think of how they originated. After considerable effort we have re-assembled this distinguished work for your education and enjoyment.

daily life

Seated women with men standing while watching the presentation of a Ruton vacuum cleaner at the Home show in the Rai.
Amsterdam - March 30, 1958

From Collection Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau / Ben van Meerendonk

This presentation is comprised of digitized images of over 150 photographs - organised under seven topics: Amsterdam, Daily Life, Famous Dutchmen, Royal Family, International, Sports, and, Flood Disaster 1953...
It was founded by photographer Ben van Meerendonk (born July 20, 1913) in 1945. Although the agency started with several employees, by the fifties it was a one-man business of Van Meerendonk and some assistants.

(I found via this photo of Brigitte Bardot lookalikes...
Because apparently I look 66% like BB according to the face recognition thing as seen on crazybrave and toph. When actually I look maybe 22% like 10% of the hopefuls in that shot. Or 11% on an average St Patrick's Day.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

empire games

Opening Empire Games, Sydney 1938

32 hours out from the opening of the Commonwealth Games.
One night last week I strolled along the Yarra and viewed the fish from Princes Bridge to Swan Street as Swan Lake played over the PA and the river and Melbourne looked beautiful. A group of casual strollers out walking their dog stopped and applauded - I'm not sure if it was for the fish or Tchaikovsky, but the vista was certainly festive.

Perth 1962 from a State Library of WA exhibition How We're portayed
host city
meet us in Perth

At the Games' official site, the logos from the past flash by, but it was Auckland 1950 that caught my eye.

Empire Games Representatives 1938
the lion

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Seems ubersportingpundit has gone...

Thanks again to Scott for hosting many fine blogs on his domain including Troppo, Hot Buttered Death - and (very briefly) She Sells Sanctuary...

Meanwhile -esque is sitting at around page 30 of a boynton Google search, so things may be a bit quiet round these parts for a while.
And we'll always have wayback


Random Fortune
The New Testament offers the basis for modern computer coding theory,
in the form of an affirmation of the binary number system.

But let your communication be Yea, yea; nay, nay: for
whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
-- Matthew

was my first Random Fortune via Tiny Bubbles

Meanwhile I found this random sign through googling Yarck

(I like any sign that says Yea Melbourne in this time of naysayers)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

reading mail

Reading mail on verandah

Thanks to barista for exploring the Trundle path ...

toasting fork

For those following The Enchanted Toasting Fork, Episode Eight is now up at CattyRox.

Episode 7 and links to previous entries.

Monday, March 06, 2006

gilligan's meter

Actually that last link was found when I was googling around the general theme of poetry you can sing to to the tune of Gilligan's Island, as you do. Apparently that mid-century TV earworm is quite versatile in the ballad stakes. I had heard of singing Advance Australia Fair to it, but not, for instance, The Rime of the Ancient Marriner or Stairway to Heaven

Making Light: Yankee Internationale via Incoming Signals

ain't me, babe

Who's the greatest 19th century poet and why?
Bob Dylan

Because he sang about and still sings about real life felings and things that happen to us all.

Friday, March 03, 2006

drawn vehicles

It was coincidental that dirty beloved featured the turkey drawn when I was looking at some local goat-drawn varieties.

"When he got tired he used to stand on his back legs and tip us out".

listen herder

After watching The Dog Listener I've adopted the basic alpha technique of walking through the door ahead of the mad bluey - (ie: listening to a herder, or herder listening)

And when I saw the link to a Dog-powered scooter via cynical-c something about it appealed:
The dog is always in the same location and can only go strait ahead. And with your weight on the scooter and the brakes applied the dog cannot go anywhere.
but I'm not sure if Flo is up for a quick scooter around the block yet.

Perhaps the alpha relationship seems more defined in traditional dog carts

yap yap


Just when I was thinking bunnies, a friend sent me a link to the Cellular Squirrel from last year which also has a Bunny prototype

The user can whisper and listen to her squirrel, receiving and replying to voice instant messages. If the user wishes, she can also bypass the Intermediary altogether and get into a synchronous voice communication with the caller by simply talking to the embodiment.

Autonomous interactive intermediaries circa 1937 and 1954

Thursday, March 02, 2006


the signature of a previous owner (via see also)

DNA 'could predict your surname'
It follows that men with the same surname might have very similar Y chromosomes. But adoptions, infidelity, name changes and multiple founders for just one surname complicate the picture.
(via as above, kevan)