Genius moments: May 2008
Tuesday 23 December 2008
No strings attached
Manners are not dead, certainly in the world of classical music. A Grammy-nominated violinist, Philippe Quint, left a 285-year-old Stradivarius valued at £2m in the back of a New York cab. The next day, the driver, Mohamed Khalil, tracked him down and returned the instrument in question. The musician gave Khalil a $100 tip, but feeling it wasn't enough he went back to Newark Liberty Airport to perform a 30-minute concert for a crowd of around 200 cabbies in the taxi waiting area.
Survival of the cattiest
Oof, it's a tough one – who would you want by your side if you were dumped in the Gobi desert with no food, no water and 50 miles between you and the nearest film crew? Chubby Ray Mears, the BBC survivalist who could whip you up a roast lunch from a cow pat, or rugged, young Channel 4 macho man Bear Grylls? This "debate" was started by Mears himself in the Radio Times. Mears called Grylls a "boy scout" and other nasty names, implying that he would never "break the rules" that Grylls had in filming his Channel 4 series Born Survivor: the ex-SAS man, according to one of his film crew, had stayed in hotels and tamed a not-at-all-wild horse, among other faux pas. Grylls himself later admitted that Mears is indeed harder than he is. The big jessie.
Well-known theologian Sharon Stone offered up her thoughts at the Cannes Film Festival on the Chinese earthquake, wondering whether the cataclysm was in some way linked to China's policy towards Tibet: "I thought, is that karma? When you are not nice, bad things happen to you." For some reason, this profound observation was taken as offensive by, well, just about everyone. It was reported that Chinese distributors threatened to stop showing Stone's films, and Chinese stores removed Christian Dior posters featuring the occasional actress. Stone then proved she was not only wise but sensitive by apologising.
Nobbled by the Nobel
Ambushed by a TV crew to be told she'd won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, Doris Lessing said she was "delighted". By May 2008, however, the novelty was wearing off. Declaring the Laureateship "a bloody disaster", she told Radio 4: "All I do is give interviews and spend time being photographed." She added that the constant media requests sapped what little energy she has left to write: "This is why I keep telling anyone younger than me – don't imagine you'll have it for ever. Use it while you've got it because it'll go, it's sliding away like water down a plughole."
The pluck of the Irish
Well, no one can accuse the Irish of lacking a sense of humour. In February, this year the nation voted a puppet bird to represent them at the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in May. Dustin the Turkey's version of "Irelande Douze Pointe", a parody of the Eurovision voting system, secured him a place at the top of the pecking order, beating off a host of other, live acts. The song was performed at the competition's May semi-final in Belgrade, but Dustin was well and truly plucked: he placed 15th out of a field of 19 and therefore failed to take his place at the final.
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