QI (and Its Flaws)

QI is a celebrity quiz show starring Stephen Fry as a quizmaster who asks four1 panelists questions about a range of subjects. The panelists are usually well known comedians based in Britain, though once in a while, there are special guests like David Tennant or Daniel Radcliffe. An actor named Alan Davies is always the fourth panelist. The title stands for Quite Interesting, and the premise of the show is that the panelists aren’t likely to get the answers right so they’re awarded points for being interesting.

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know I’m a fan of Stephen Fry, so I do like QI. But I have to say, I feel rather guilty about that.

QI has a problem with racial and cultural insensitivity. The targets generally seem to be East Asians and Mexicans. On several occasions Alan Davies has attempted a Mexican accent à la Speedy Gonzales, and they frequently do impressions of East Asian languages that are nothing more than nonsensical syllables. In addition, most of the panelists are white. In fact, Meera Syal2 is one of only two non-white panelist that I’m aware of, and both were only on once.

And as long as I’m complaining about the show, it does bug me when they get things wrong, especially about Americans.3 Oh, and Stephen Fry’s French accent is rather painful.

Despite all the things I’ve complained about, I still keep watching QI. Why? Well, because I still sometimes learn things. For example, did you know that the difference4 between flotsam and jetsam is that jetsam has been purposely discarded?

For now, I’ll continue to watch QI, though I suspect that sooner or later, I’ll get fed up with its flaws.

  1. In one episode, John Hodgman was a fifth panelist. Hodgman won.
  2. Meera Syal guest starred in the Doctor Who episodes “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood.”
  3. We do say tadpole. A pollywog is considered by some to be the same thing as a tadpole, but other people seem to say they refer to different stages of development. I’d love to know if there are regional differences within the United States in the usage of these two words.
  4. I wonder if I can work that into the Shipping Project somehow.

Reading and Viewing Notes: Holmes Fest

I’ve been on a bit of a Sherlock Holmes kick lately. I just finished watching the first season of Sherlock, and I’m currently reading The Sign of Four. Holmes also shows up in another recent read.

The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes Mysteries, #1)The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In The Case of The Missing Marquess, Nancy Springer asks us to imagine that Sherlock (and Mycroft) Holmes had an intelligent and independent younger sister, Enola. Sherlock and Mycroft both play minor roles in this book, and frankly, both come across as rather unpleasant.

Enola Holmes, however, is delightfully independent and free spirited—something that proves to be a problem in rigid Victorian England. Enola doesn’t display the sort of stunning intellect her brothers possess, but she’s still quite bright and observant.

Book Source: Borrowed from my friend Anj.

New Sherlock Holmes BBC

Sherlock is a modernization of Sherlock Holmes: The villians are often serial killers, Holmes’s pamphlets and newspaper articles have become a  website, and Watson chronicles Holmes’s exploits on a blog.

I have to say that I have absolutely fallen in love with this series. The storylines are exciting, and it’s wonderful to watch the interaction between Holmes, who describes himself as a high-functioning sociopath, and Watson. I also love how the show uses overlaid text to show Holmes’s thought process.

My adoration only increases as I read more of the original Sherlock Holmes books and see how they’ve taken details from the original books and tweaked them in clever ways. It’s positively giggle-inducing, and I can’t wait for the next series (season in Brit-speak) to come out.

Vendredi de Vocabulaire: Figer

This weeks word, figer, is also brought to you by Charmed. Figer means to freeze in the sense of to immobilize. Figer can also refer to when a computer freezes up.

When talking about the cold, there are a few different options:

  • geler – for the weather, or for liquid or pipes; for when you’re feeling really cold; for financial assets (also bloquer, in that case)
  • congeler – for food
  • surgeler – also for food, and for quick-freezing or deep-freezing