Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aren't Reviews Brilliant?!

Especially when they tell you things the band you've seen either mumbled to the front three rows or kept to themselves. This could easily be the show I saw BPB do in Manchester last week (I was pleasantly surprised how good he is live), and now I know what covers he played.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Decidedly Not . . .

Revolutionary Bolivian hip-hop.

What's more, our Far East correspondent tells us that there's some debate about whether they're even babes.

I bet that dwarf isn't really a dwarf, either.

La Nueva Flavah

Revolutionary Bolivian hip-hop.

Courtesy of the Utne Reader, who got it from Toward Freedom.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bloody Immigrants

Coming over here, raping, looting, pillaging, etc., etc.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Festival Is the Festival of the Oppressed

Allow me to recommend Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. Not a particularly substantial work, but still one with a striking argument at its core:

Human beings are hardwired to share emotions collectively, and it was only the introduction of hierarchy into society in the form of classes that brought the experience of collective joy to an end. Nobles and clergy were confronted with the choice of joining in the revelry and licentiousness with the throng, thereby engaging as equals with the lower orders and risking undignified and levelling behaviour, or they could withdraw from the public carnival or festival (which many did, resorting to their own, more "dignified" celebrations behind closed doors), with the consequence that the carnival offered an opportunity for building class solidarity among the oppressed, including acting as a cover for attacks on the class enemy.

Because the ruling classes could not control carnival, an essentially anarchic and egalitarian event, they sought instead to ban it, initially, an always unpopular decision, and it was only more recently, in the last century or so, that the carnival was instead transformed into spectacle, the masses turned into passive spectators instead of active participants. And even now, because of that empathic hardwiring we still have, we cannot sit still in the dark for very long, cannot discipline ourselves sufficiently to just watch in silence: Carnival continues to erupt, as footie fans dress up, bring along inflatables to matches, insist on having a laugh and making their own fun, or drive out to the middle of nowhere to take drugs and dance to their own music with thousands of strangers, resisting at every turn the authorities' efforts to control unruliness and possible "civil disorder."

An uplifting book and a reminder of the importance of getting out there and enjoying the craic.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Weep With Joy (a.k.a. Nude Hitler on Ice)

On his MySpace blog, Steve in New Zealand is getting down his memories of Three Johns gigs from many moons ago, including stage banter. There's one here, but he has others.

Langford: This song is about a friend of ours, a friend who is a woman and is a pub and is a situation.

Brennan: A funny thing happened to us on the way down here.


Brennan: One of the best tunes we've made up tonight.

Langford (voice rising with anger): We've been away and we came back and it was raining and the Conservative Party were hanging people on the television!

This song is for Margaret Thatcher. It's called "Why Don't You Fuck Off?"

Hands up if you think England is a pile of shit, especially when it's raining and the Conservative Party are hanging people on the television.

Hyatt: Ozzy Osbourne's dead.

Langford: Ozzy Osbourne's dead? Is he?

Hyatt: No – Ozzy.

Langford: Iggy Pop's dead.

Hyatt: Is he?

Langford: No – Iggy.

Brennan: My father…

Langford: This is a joke about the Hungerford killings.

Brennan: [muffled] …on the top of Ben Nevis

Langford: Did he?

Brennan: No - daddy

Langford: We know some jokes about Hungerford but we don't want to tell
'em because the people who told us them …to them …us … before… are perverts.

To be read while drinking heavily.

I Don't Know Much about Art, but I Know What I Like

Twenty-eight kneeling donkeys dressed in mangled business suits surrounding a working jukebox covered in shredded yellow wool from old sweaters and playing melancholy ballads sung by iconic female singers. The walls are lined with 40 smudged drawings from newspaper images to which the artist has added drawn elements poetically dramatizing human features, both imagined and real.

Sadly, they're not real donkeys.

My Mate Went to Davos, and All I Got Was an International Herald Tribune

Oddly, this was one of the articles on the front page.

Don't ask me what he was doing in Davos. It's very hush, hush.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Never Pass Up a Chance to Practice Your Work Skills

MEXICO CITY -- A man who tried to commit suicide by throwing himself onto the tracks of the Mexico City subway was later beaten to death by police, prosecutors said Saturday.

From the Washington Post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

They Kept Printing Our Results

I see Les Reed blames the media for him resigning from the Charlton job.

I'm surprised they even knew who he was.

I'm surprised he knew.

David Graeber

A fascinating interview with anarchist anthropologist David Graeber here, which I only found thanks to the guys at Despair to Where? It covers a whole bunch of topics, including Graeber's concerns about irony, a topic recently discussed over at Will's.

Great stuff.

Spot the Ringer!!

One of these girls is not like the others.

Actually, he's Dan Drebing, who features in this month's Volleyball magazine as the sole male member of Holliston High School's ladies' volleyball team. Dan took advantage of a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule that allows players to join a coed team if the school doesn't have a team of his/her own sex.

I like that he's taken the effort to grow his hair long so as not to stand out so much.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Those Nice Buddhists Again

In an extract from his book A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher, John Kain recalls a story told him by his teacher John Daido Loori Roshi. The extract appears in the latest issue of Tricycle:

Daido Roshi is a tall, lanky, olive-skinned Italian American from Jersey City, New Jersey, with the requisite Buddhist shaved head . . . He's telling me a story about his late Japanese teacher, Maezumi Roshi . . .

"I'd been living at the Zen Center for a number of years," he told me. "The practice was hard . . . but I loved it and came, after time, to have confidence in my own spiritual wisdom. At some point I figured that I'd come to understand death. So during a private and casual conversation I told Maezumi I'd sorted out the whole death thing."

"Maezumi looked me straight in the eye and said, 'So you've figured out the great matter of life and death, have you?'" Daido continued. "Before I could answer, he leapt from his seat, knocked me to the floor, and began choking me. At first I began to laugh. I'm big, and Maezumi is a little guy, so I wasn't that worried. But quickly it got very hard to breathe and I could feel the ends of his fingers pushing deeper into my windpipe. I began to choke and sputter and I realized that Maezumi was serious, so I began to struggle, but he was incredibly strong. Without thinking, I managed a roundhouse right punch to Maezumi's jaw and knocked him to the floor. He didn't stop laughing for five minutes and then said, 'Conquered death! Ha!' I had bruises on my neck for a week."

Presumably this is where Steven Seagal learned his Buddhism.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Mixed Blessing

Watching footie over the Internet, that is.

Two weeks ago I signed up for a €6-a-year online subscription that has enabled me to watch four Premiership matches every Saturday on my laptop using peer-to-peer software, sometimes using Malaysian TV, sometimes Chilean, sometimes Chinese, and sometimes ESPN, but always, it seems, with the Villa losing. And tonight I was able to watch Barcelona get stuffed by Espanyol 3-1 on Chinese TV. It could have been 7-1; Pandiani came on for the last half hour and had four clear-cut chances while Barcelona pressed. It's a good job that he's so shit, but what does that say about Barcelona under Rijkaard. The only upside to the game was seeing Frankie boy express his rage by punching a hole through the side window of the dugout, albeit as an expression of frustration at his own inability to manage a team at this level.

Having said all that, at least I'm not giving any money to Murdoch as I suffer the indignity of supporting losers. That would really suck.

Friday, January 12, 2007

That's One Way of Increasing the Catholic Intake

BBC says: Almost 1,000 Polish people applied to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland in its latest recruitment drive.

Choice Cuts

An enlightening look at the U.S. pork processing industry is provided by Jeff Tietz in Rolling Stone magazine:

Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pork processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year. That's a number worth considering. A slaughter-weight hog is fifty percent heavier than a person. The logistical challenge of processing that many pigs each year is roughly equivalent to butchering and boxing the entire human populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Louisville, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City and Tucson.

And that image is arguably the most pleasant in the entire article (No, I haven't suddenly gone all SWP on you. It genuinely is.)

Read the whole hog.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Killing Two Birds . . . So to Speak

That's the folk at Season Shot, the makers of "ammo with flavor," which allows hunters to kill birds using biodegradable shot AND to season the bird at the same time.

Season Shot is made of tightly packed seasoning bound by a fully biodegradable food product. The seasoning is actually injected into the bird on impact, seasoning the meat from the inside out. When the bird is cooked the seasoning pellets melt into the meat spreading the flavor to the entire bird. Forget worrying about shot breaking your teeth and start wondering about which flavor shot to use!

How to Live in Rural Ireland

The Swearing Lady nails it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Weekly Standard Makes Me Laugh

Usually for the wrong reasons, but this anecdote from Bevis Hillier, recalling a meeting with John Betjeman (from the December 11 issue), tickled my ribs:

He had been at Magdalen College, Oxford, with a man called Bede Griffiths, who became a Roman Catholic monk. One day I told Betjeman that Griffiths was going out to India to try to reconcile Roman Catholicism and Hinduism. "Oh, I see," said Betjeman, "combining mumbo and jumbo in roughly equal proportions."

I Remember When . . .

The F.A. Cup was so important even the New York Times covered it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Which Hole Do You Recommend I Put It In?

Toad in the Hole on a stick, with pancake batter and chocolate chips. For the Yorkshireman on the move.

Spotted in Maclean's magazine, which features, on the same page, an article about the Stone Age diet, a diet fad that takes its cues from the paleolithic era and involves the eating of uncooked meat. Acceptable foods are meats, including organs; vegetables, excluding potatoes and sweet potatoes; berries and fruits; and nuts, excluding peanuts. Unacceptable foods are grains in all forms, beans, sugar, salt, and dairy products, unless raw.

Dietitian and nutritionist Fran Berkoff warns that anyone trying the diet could become very ill.

Maybe that's how you lose the weight.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fast Food or Death!

Police in Iowa have arrested two people accused of filing a fake obituary for teenager Dan "D.J." Reddout with a newspaper to get off work for a few days.

Police said James Ralph Snyder, who is the boyfriend of Reddout's mother, and the boy's mother, Mary Jo Elizabeth Jensen, submitted a death notice to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper, saying that Jensen's 17-year-old son had died at the Mayo Clinic after a lengthy illness.

The authorities were notified, however, after the supposedly deceased teenager was spotted eating in a Happy Chef a week after his alleged demise.

The rest is here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hi-Ho, Ho-Hum

Yes, it's back to work for most of us drones, but for those of you still out there skiving, well done. You might want to pop along to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or failing that, its Web site) to contemplate the exhibition "Glitter and Doom," which features Weimar portraits from the 1920s by such artists as Otto Dix, George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and Christian Schad. You can see all the classic Weimar types: prostitutes, profiteers, war-cripples, artists, musicians, Nazis, and nightclubbers.

A review by Mark Stevens in New York magazine says,

The (artists') worldview may be bitter, cruel, and vitriolic, but it's nonsense to suppose that their work is not also enjoyable. There is a wicked joy—and blessed release from piety—to be found in skewering the human animal and in refusing, occasionally, the invitation by Rembrandt et al. to be judicious, kindly, profound, and wise. Sometimes, screw 'em all.

He continues,

The situation in Germany between the wars was much worse than ours is today, but the dark eye of Weimar still beguiles our culture; it asks us to see through the masks of hypocrisy, platitude, and respectability. Imagine what Dix or Grosz would have made of the simian Bush, the feral Rumsfeld, the gloating bullfrog Cheney. Imagine how these Germans would have treated the Clintons, or Ted Haggard. How uncharmed they would be by the toothpaste smile of Tom Cruise. They would not have turned a blind eye on the Wall Street trough, where all our little piggies now feed.

Shown above: Grey Day, by George Grosz.

It Does What It Says on the Tin

Lisa has been reflecting on the musical highlights of the past year and on the discoveries she has made. Here's our tip for the top in 2007, courtesy of our Far East correspondent in Manila: Fat Babes and a Dwarf.