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Spank Gold Volume 4: Spank's LFF Diaries 2000-2004

Caution: Running Gag Still Under Construction Four books into the set of seven - yes, as far as I know it's still going to run to seven - and to be honest, I'm running out of things to say about them.

So, let's keep it simple. Out today, from the author of Monkey Round The World, Spank's LFF Diaries Volume One and Spank's Edinburgh Diaries Volume One, comes Spank's LFF Diaries Volume Two: 2000-2004. As the title indicates, it's a second collection of my London Film Festival reviews from this site. If you enjoy the LFF reviews published here every October, then this is pretty much more of the same: except they're in a form that's easier to read on the bus, and come with over 50 footnotes pointing out all the bits where I wrote things that subsequently turned out to be utterly stupid.

Best of all, if you buy it I get some money. That'll be nice, won't it?

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Our OpenTable Dining Cheques, photographed in the gents at L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon. (If I'd taken a picture of them inside the main restaurant, I suspect we might have got thrown out.)Last week, The Belated Birthday Girl and I celebrated nine years of doing that thing we do. We're both as surprised as you, to be honest. We usually try to mark the anniversary with some sort of special event or other: this year, we had a posh dinner at L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon in London. We went for the pre-theatre set menu, so their undeniably scrummy food didn't completely break the bank in these troubled times. But you want to know what the best thing about the meal was?

We paid for it with coupons.

Or, more accurately, we paid for it with OpenTable Dining Cheques, as the culmination of a seven year campaign to subtly tell The Ivy to go screw itself.

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Kites & Kites: The Remix

Hrithik thought that the hat would discreetly draw attention away from his thumb I'm currently in the middle of the final edit on my fourth book, which will be entitled Spank's LFF Diaries Volume Two: 2000-2004 (available later this month from At this stage, I'm really just looking out for stuff I said several years ago that I can take the piss out of in the footnotes. So it was amusing to re-read my 2000 review of I Have Found It, and watching it turn into a discussion of why Bollywood cinema is so popular in the UK and yet gets no mainstream media coverage. It's amusing because ten years later, it's a question that's still being asked, not least by Bollywood filmmakers themselves.

What does Bollywood need to do to get respect from the West? A year after I Have Found It, Lagaan seemed to suggest that, to misquote Colin Welland, "the Indians are coming." But that just happened to be one world-class film from an industry that didn't seem capable of regularly producing material of that quality. More recently, there was the hope that Slumdog Millionaire's runaway success would have a trickle-down effect on the country it was filmed in, but that doesn't seem to be happening either.

So here's a new approach: make two versions of a Bollywood movie, one for the Indian audience and one for the rest of the world. Could that work?

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Simian Substitute Site for June 2010: The Infinite Monkey Cage

The Infinite Monkey CageMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MAY 2010

Internet: Back in 1983, when I was in the middle of doing my Physics degree - coincidentally, in a location that'll be very familiar to one of the men in this picture - I used to worship Richard Feynman. His three-volume Feynman Lectures were an inspiration to me, and the only books from my university career that I chose to hold onto after graduation. So how come I've never heard about the series he filmed for BBC2 in 1983? Fun To Imagine was a set of six ten-minute fillers, in which Feynman talked to camera about the pleasures of scientific thought. If you missed it like I did, here's some good news: as the new government hasn't quite got around to destroying all that is good and right about the BBC, you can watch the whole of Fun To Imagine online for free. Give Richard Feynman an hour of your time, you won't regret it.

Telly: We don't get much event television these days, do we? Apart from sporting fixtures and terrible reality shows, there's very little out there that demands to be viewed in real time. So hooray for the series finale of Lost, broadcast live across the globe in attempt to prevent evil spoilers from leaking out. (Which means that in the UK, we had to get up at 5am on a Monday morning to watch it.) There's no denying it was flawed: a series this long and insanely complex had to wrap itself up at both an intellectual and emotional level, and the Lost finale was much more interested in the emotional than the intellectual. But after six years following these characters, that was probably the right way to go. And yes, it was completely an event.

Theatre: Summer's returned to London, so once again I'm forced to do battle with the elements and stray pollen at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park. Most years, the season's rather predictable - a couple of the lighter Shakespeares, and a musical for balance. But new boss Timothy Sheader seems keen to ring the changes, and his production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible just might be the best thing I've ever seen at the venue. He uses the space brilliantly: as night draws in, the stage becomes more and more claustrophobic, mirroring the darkening atmosphere of the second act perfectly. It's only on till June 19th, so hurry hurry hurry.

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