Newsletter 136 – January 2008


Number 136 – January 2008 – ISSN 1470-1863

Art, Music, Culture, and Technology – as
seen from the sunny city of Manchester UK

Advertise in this newsletter. Your AD here.
For rates contact us at –

** 13,100+ subscribers will see this AD **

0— F.r.e.e Online Study Skills Courses

We now have an allocation of 250 f.r.e.e
places to give away on our study courses.

Any school, college, or university can claim
TEN f.r.e.e places in the period Jan-July 2008.

We will send you full instructions for
enrolment and participation.

The first courses have been developed at
City College Manchester. They’re designed
to help students prepare for further and
higher education. Here’s the full list.

* Writing Essays* Referencing
* Taking Notes * Page Layout
* Lab Reports * Writing Reports
* Plagiarism * Web Design
* Presentations * GCSE Revision

Courses are completed entirely on line,
using interactive self-assessment exercises
and video tutorials.

Students successfully completing the course are
awarded a certificate from City College Manchester.

For further details and an explanatory
brochure, send an email message to –

0— Pub quiz – Question #1

Which musician discovered the planet Uranus?

0— ‘Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir’

This is a re-issue of the first full length
critical study on Virginia Woolf to appear
in English. It was written in 1936 by Winifred
Holtby, a radical feminist, a journalist, and
author of ‘South Riding’.

She actually *knew* Virginia Woolf, and quite
clearly appreciated her radical literary
developments. The book gives a brief account
of her life, then discusses her work in
roughly chronological order.

She’s particularly good on Woolf as a
literary critic, and certainly appreciated
all of the important themes in Woolf’s
work for which she is now justly famous.

Mantex newsletter Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir

0— Pub quiz – Question #2

How did the Lindy Hop dance get its name?

0— The Mobile Phone Novel

This week the 2007 bestseller list, published
by Japan’s biggest book distributor, Tohan,
revealed that five of the year’s most successful
novels, including the top three, were first
written for downloading on mobile phones
before being republished in book form.

The number one seller, Love Sky, sold two
million copies in the last year, has recently
been released as a hit film, and has made a
star of its author, a woman in her early
20s known only as Mika.

A sequel, Your Sky, came in at number three,
and second place went to Red String by Mei,
which sold one million copies. All are written
in short, simple sentences using relatively
few characters, featuring melodramatic plots
heavy on violence, sex and tear-jerking sentiment.

Love Sky, for example, tells the story of a
teenage girl who is bullied, gang-r.a.p.e.d,
becomes pregnant and suffers a miscarriage.

redbtn Mobile phone novel

0— Pub quiz – Question #3

In which country is the city of Baku?

0— Harold Nicolson – biographical notes

He was a writer, a diplomat, and a member
of parliament – and he knew everybody who
was anybody in the years 1910-1960.

Moreover, he was married to Vita Sackville-West,
both of them were bisexual, and they had what
(I believe) would now be called an ‘open’ marriage.

We have a new collection of materials on
this fascinating character, who is interesting
for another reason.

He’s a rare example of someone from the
upper class whose political affiliations
moved leftwards as he got older.

redbtn Harold Nicolson – biographical notes

0— Pub quiz – Question #4

What does the musical term ‘con fuoco’ mean?

0— ‘Shorter Oxford Dictionary’ – new edition

Don’t let the term ‘shorter’ fool you.
This is a huge, two-volume dictionary.

It’s a cut-down version of the monumental
Oxford English Dictionary, but this new
edition has been updated with the hundreds
of new words which come into the language
each year – and stay.

Entries using Shakespeare and Jane Austen
as sources nestle alongside more recent
vocabulary from the likes of Ricky Gervais
and The Simpsons.

I now have two copies – so if you’re in
the vicinity of southern Manchester, you
can pick up my old one for free.

redbtn Shorter Oxford Dictionary

0— Pub quiz – Question #5

In what year did the UK become a member of the United Nations?

0— ‘Howard Hodgkin’ – a critical study

I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist
the paintings of Howard Hodgkin.

His colours are so lush and rich, and his
compositions gorgeously expressive.

But it’s not always easy to see what they
are ‘about’. So for Xmas I treated myself
to Andrew Graham-Dixon’s beautifully
illustrated study of his works.

He covers everything from the earliest
paintings, produced when Hodgkin was a
contemporary of David Hockney, right up
to the present, when he is now regarded
as one of Britain’s great masters.

I’m not sure that AG-D has much more idea
than I do what the paintings are ‘about’.
But he writes very movingly on his subject,

redbtn Howard Hodgkin

If you’ve never seen any of Hodgkin’s works,
you can do so now without even leaving your
keyboard. Just go to –

redbtn Howard Hodgkin Gallery

0— Pub quiz – Question #6

Who crossed Niagra Falls on a tightrope in 1859?

0— ‘Vita & Harold’ – letters of a marriage

Here’s another rich item for those who like
literary and political gossip.

It’s the letters exchanged between diplomat
Harold Nicolson and his wife Vita Sackville-West.

He hob-nobbed with all sorts of interesting
politicians and artists in the early part
of the twentieth century.

She was a best-selling author and poet who
dragged upper-class women into bed and built
a famous garden at Sissinghurst in Kent.

They were on the fringes of the Bloomsbury
Group, amazingly snobbish, but also quite
funny at times – and definitely radical in
their bizarre marriage arrangements.

They lived apart most of the time – and had
lovers of their own sex. As far as they were
concerned, this was the recipe for a happy
marriage. Why not give it a try!

redbtn Vita and Harold

0— Pub quiz – Question #7

Who composed the music for ‘Jaws’ and ‘Star Wars’?

0— Amazon buys Happy Potter – news is currently displaying a
beautiful handwritten book by J.K.Rowling.
It’s worth a look. Here’s their announcement.

“We’re incredibly excited to announce that
Amazon has purchased J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Tales
of Beedle the Bard’ at an auction held by
Sotheby’s in London.

The book of five wizarding fairy tales,
referenced in the last book of the Harry
Potter series, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows’, is one of only seven handmade copies
in existence.

The purchase price was UKP 1,950,000, and
Ms.Rowling is donating the proceeds to
The Children’s Voice campaign, a charity
she co-founded to help improve the lives
of institutionalized children across Europe.”

redbtn Harry Potter at Amazon

0— Pub quiz – Question #8

What was the capital of the ancient empire of Assyria?

0— ‘Roger’s Profanisaurus’ – latest edition

Do you know what a ‘carpet muncher’ and ‘a lady
in comfortable shoes’ have in common? Or would
you know how to ‘paint the baby’s bedroom’?

If you need an explanation of ‘the vinegar strokes’
or ‘spanking the monkey’ – then look no further.

This book is a compendium of all the slang words
you will ever need – plus a lot more you might not
*want* to know. And it’s hysterically funny.

It’s compiled from the pages of VIZ – the very
politically IN-correct comic monthly. Somebody
gave me a copy as a present, and I haven’t stopped
laughing since. DEFINITELY not for the faint-hearted.

There’s a new and hugely enlarged [sic] edition
which the publisher describes as “an exhaustive
lexicon of four letter filth which contains over
10,000 useful words and phrases to turn the air
bluer than a baboon’s a.r.s.e.”

redbtn Roger’s Profanisaurus: The Magna Farta

0— Pub quiz – Question #9

What is a futtock?

0— ‘Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations’

Ned Sherrin was the very camp and rather annoying
presenter of a UK radio chat show who died recently.

But he certainly knew his stuff on who said what.
This is his compilation of funny quips, witty
ripostes, catchphrases, and quotable quotes.

Groucho Marx: “I never forget a face, but in
your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

Mae West: “Marriage is a great institution,
but I’m not ready for an institution yet.”

George Best’s self-defense: “People say I
wasted my money. I say 90 per cent went on
women, fast cars, and booze. The rest I wasted.”

Fully indexed by names and themes. Great fun.
Full review at –

redbtn Dictionary of Humorous Quotations

0— Pub quiz – Question #10

Where are Lambda, Omicron, and Tau found?

0— Reader’s Letters and Corrections

No corrections or typos to report 🙂

0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1 Which musician discovered the planet Uranus?
ANSWER: Herschel

#2 How did the Lindy Hop dance get its name?
ANSWER: After the aviator, Charles Lindbergh

#3 In which country is the city of Baku?
ANSWER: Azerbaijan

#4 What does the musical term ‘con fuoco’ mean?
ANSWER: ‘With fire’

#5 In what year did the UK become a member of the United Nations?
ANSWER: 1945

#6 Who cross Niagra Falls on a tightrope in 1859?
ANSWER: Charles Blondin

#7 Who composed the music for ‘Jaws’ and ‘Star Wars’?
ANSWER: John Williams

#8 What was the capital of the ancient empire of Assyria?
ANSWER: Nineveh

#9 What is a futtock?
ANSWER: A ship’s timber

#10 Where are Lambda, Omicron, and Tau found?
ANSWER: In the Greek alphabet

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All Rights Reserved

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M20 6GZ UK

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ISSN 1470-1863
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