ROBOTS 1 BARBIE 0. Toy auctions provide usually reliable pointers to pop culture's current market values. Christie's Ephemera reports that a 1958 Japanese Masudaya Machine Man (opened at pounds 18,000) sold this month for a new world record price for a robot: pounds 29,900. But doll collectors may be disappointed that, despite a celebrity endorsement from Elton John and a heavy push by De Beers, a specially created Diamond Barbie proved to be too rich for buyers and was pulled at pounds 20,000. FYI: Barbie No 1, the 1959 boxed original, made pounds 2,760.
WHODATHUNKIT? Japanese stores now sell a bra that detects incoming missiles.
VENN DIAGRAMS - you know how to draw the two interlocking circles that create a third defining zone within their overlap, don't you? Try these: Tony Blair + Anthea Turner = Dale Winton; computer programmers + suburban childhoods = Goths; Guardian buyers + vegans = sandal-suckers; middle management + Times buyers = Next shoppers; synthetic people + the Knightsbridge Massive = Puff Daddy; shoe fetishists + broke guys who no longer love their girlfriends = sneaker pimps.
NICOLE KIDMAN and Tom Cruise (pictured) are shown having sex, in Eyes Wide Shut, on a 70-ft-wide screen. And they get paid for it. So won't they - and their handlers - look silly if they continue to complain about "media intrusions on their privacy"?
OLD FRIENDS, old wine and old books are said to be the mainstay of a stable life. According to Norris McWhirter's Book of Millennium Records, archaeologists excavating a site in Iran have found a stoppered pottery jar that dates from c4000BC. It contained wine. Enquiring minds wonder whether it was a good year.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, the writer, is dead. But, as eagle-eyed Independent readers know, his name will live on. Not just through his written works. But because Ernest Hemingway, the writer, is about to become Ernest Hemingway, the furniture, the textiles, the gifts and the accessories. (The Hemingway estate has just done a deal with a business called Fashion Licensing Inc.) Options for further cross-propagation intrigue. Jacques Derrida could front Hard Scrabble, where the winner is the dyslexic text-subversive with the fewest points. Kafka would be the killer brand in insect repellents. William Burroughs and de Quincey surely have big futures in pharmaceutical endorsements. Wouldn't Jeannette Winterson, suitably dusted down and cleaned up, make a crisp poster girl for English apples? And how should we exploit those darlings of the public domain: the Bard, Jane Austen and Conan Doyle...?
KENNETH BRANAGH knows how to play to the gallery. Trading the smell of the greasepaint for the roar of the crowd in next month's FourFourTwo, the footie-lovin' thesp uses the f-word six times in three sentences. Perhaps Ken should check the following item, the opening lines of Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale, before he hits the boards next season...
... "OH, THE sentence! The shuddering, sinuous, piquant, incandescent, delicate, delirious, sulking, strident possibilities of it all. A sentence can loll a l'odalisque, zap, implore, insist, soar or simply lay out the facts. This handful of words, each with its own humble or brazen function, lies at the heart of every literary genre, every letter, memo, article, thesis, seduction, threat and retort."
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