The Crystal Bucket: Television Criticism from the "Observer", 1976-79

by Clive James | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 0330267450 Global Overview for this book
Registered by freesia of Perth City, Western Australia Australia on 10/28/2007
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Journal Entry 1 by freesia from Perth City, Western Australia Australia on Sunday, October 28, 2007
Clive James was a brilliant writer, with an incredible grasp of language - selecting just the right words to deflate pomposity or pay tribute to brilliance. I didn't know much about British TV in the 1970s, but rather like Australia today, much of their programming consisted of US imports.

I want to share some of the images that tickle me so much:

American quiz show hosts: "Each looks as if a team of cosmetic dentists has capped not just his teeth but his whole head. On top of the resulting edifice flourishes a wad of hair transplanted from a living buffalo"

...compared with our own Terry Wogan: "it is almost certain that his head is composed of the original tissue. Many times in the past I have made jokes about Terry's bionic appearance. It was wrong of me to do that. I see now that he is full of those redeeming flaws without which, as Degas insisted, there is no life."

"As for Peter Firth's Armand, he is wet where Robert Taylor was wooden. On the whole, I prefer moisture to splinters."

James observes national treasure David Attenborough's Life on Earth the first time round, when wildlife documentaries were new and unfamiliar: "Fresh-faced and still paunchless, Attenborough looks groovy in a wet-suit. Female viewers moan low as he bubbles out of the Pacific with a sea urchin in each hand [...] Few who saw it will forget Attenborough's smile of ecstasy as he stood, some years ago, knee-deep in a conical mound of Borneo bat-poo. Miles underground, with cockroaches swarming all over him and millions of squeaking bats crapping on his head, he was as radiant as Her Majesty at the races."

Of the World Disco Dancing Championships "The athleticism involved was awe-inspiring. Tadyaki Dan of Japan spent most of his time in mid-air, upside down with his hands behind his back, trying to bite pieces out of the floor."

On modern music "Punk music loosens my fillings, but those who like it presumably want to hear the best bands available and Something Else apparently knows which rocks to lift up in order to find them."

On Everest Unmasked: "Reinhold Messner positioned himself against the pitiless Himalayan skyline and explained why the challenge he was about to face was of crucial significance for the history of the human race. "It is inneresting to try zis climb wizzout oxuchen ... what is important to explore is myself." Reinhold forgot to ass that exploring Reinhold's self was important mainly to Reinhold. For the rest of us, exploring Reinhold's self was bound to rank fairly low on any conceivable scale of priorities."

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