Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More Bloody Art

From a review in Art in America magazine by Melissa Kuntz of Michelle Allard and Maïder Fortuné's recent exhibition at Mercer Union, Toronto.

Fortuné's video projection, "Everything Is Going to Be All Right," was in the back room. In the 7-minute sequence, a gymnast jumps on a trampoline in a small white cubelike space. The trampoline is out of sight of the viewer and the point where the jumper meets the trampoline is aligned perfectly with the gallery floor. The jarring sound of the trampoline is uncomfortably out of synch with the gymnast's movements. He often jumps, reaches up and makes contact with the ceiling, which is covered in white paper, and causes a crashing sound; at other times he springboards off the walls. The viewer stands in the near-identical white cube of the gallery watching the acrobat perpetually bouncing in his claustrophobic space. About five minutes into the tape, the movement slows and the focus shifts to the agility and beauty of the man's movements. The repetitive action combined with the sound effects is both irritating and mesmerizing, leaving the viewer to wonder if the gymnast will ever break free.

Really? Let me explain something to you about videos . . .

Nosey By Nature

Here's an article that originally appeared in the January 22nd issue of right-wing mentalist magazine The Weekly Standard. In it, contributor Richard Carlson describes how he worked part-time for private detective Harold (Hal) Lipset in San Francisco during the 1960s as a sideline to his full-time job as a reporter in an "investigative team" for the ABC-owned KGO-TV station. Choice quotes:

On some of the cases with Hal, I could only guess about the end game. None of your business, Hal would sometimes say if I asked. I once was assigned by Hal to tail a fellow when he left the Palace Hotel downtown in the morning, follow him, and photograph him. I never found out what it was for.

I shook his hand again, always important. I was learning that most people will help you if you just ask them. Beyond that, many folks are natural-born snitches, willing to tell on someone else to a stranger.

Carlson became a U.S. ambassador and director of the Voice of America. He is now vice chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

Bring Back Love Thy Neighbour

Who said Canadians/Muslims Can/Can't Do Comedy?

Lee and Mark got the talent

Before the briefest of visits here and here on Sunday myself and Kev spent a few hours chuckling over the not very shocking works of the Chapman brothers at Tate Liverpool.

There was quite a few new pieces in styles I hadn't seen before, but I still enjoyed their "Hellscapes" the most. Prince Charles would love some of their stuff too.

The Times They Are Not a Changin'

Not in Texas, much, anyway, to judge by this article by Pamela Colloff in the February issue of Texas Monthly.

A Fortnight Is a Long Time in Politics

Heh heh.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cry Harry . . . etc.

Chris Eubank has been arrested for making a nuisance of himself. No change there then.

Apparently he doesn't want Prince Harry to be sent to Iraq. Well, it is a bit discriminatory. The government really should send all public schoolboys there. That'd put an end to all those Countryside Alliance marches and kill off prog rock for good.

Maybe Chris could go entertain the troops. Keep up morale and so on.

Egyptian Blogger Jailed for Four Years

The BBC reports that an Egyptian court has sentenced an internet blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president.

Abdel Kareem Soliman used his weblog to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, the al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator.

The Free Kareem site is here.

Johnson and James

The Feburary issue of The Progressive magazine carries an interview with Linton Kwesi Johnson:

Q: Why did you decide to start your music label?

Johnson: I come from a school of political thought influenced by the great Trinidadian political activist and philosopher C. L. R. James. My teacher and my mentor, the late John La Rose, the founder of New Beacon Books in England, also developed this idea of autonomy. Self-activity is the only activity. If you want to change your situation you have to build independent institutions—social, cultural, political institutions—in order to advance your struggles. And that’s basically the philosophy that I have adopted.

Starting my label was just practicing what I was preaching. It gave me a measure of independence from record companies. I can set my own agenda. I don’t have to have a record company’s agenda. I don’t have to go and do two albums and a tour every year or whatever. I write when I want. I make a record when I want. I perform when I want.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Some Cracker's Knackers

Something I'd not encountered before when booking tickets is the warning that a show contained "some nudity." Well, with two-thirds of the cast of this play being male, you can guess how that one turned out.

It was a three hander by the way.

Don't mention the "P" word!

The only problem I've got with this review is the suggestion that last night was somehow a nostalgia trip. There was never any reference to Pulp material as such, and bar the stunning finale of "Shot by Both Sides" it was all about the new album. In the space of a week I've seen the worst and best shows I've ever experienced at this venue. I was never a particularly big Jarvis fan (I'm definitely not a fan of The Guillemots), but I can't sing his praises enough after this.

No Richard Hawley though. Shame.

Not a Parody

Nerdcore, the underground hip-hop scence created by geeks, for geeks.

" . . . ever since Vanilla Ice's 1991 flameout, the rare white rapper has been derided, forced underground—or both—with the exceptions of Eminem and the Beastie Boys. But all of a sudden white rappers are enjoying a mainstream renaissance: VH1 has a hit on its hands with "The (White) Rapper Show," an "American Idol" for would-be Eminems, and in February Bloomsbury will publish "Other People's Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America," by Jason Tanz, an editor at Fortune Small Business. There are two indie documentaries about nerdcore in production, and their online trailers have each netted more than a half-million views. The concept of being a white rapper is no longer a joke."
"Unlike Vanilla Ice, whose cardinal sin was not keeping it real, nerdcore rappers write about what they know . . . Damian Hess, 33, who performs as MC Frontalot, professes a love for rap and a deep respect for hip-hop culture. But you won't find him spitting rhymes about growing up in the South Bronx. "I just end up writing about Internet porn and 'Star Wars' conventions," he says."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Next Up: Ionesco's Rhinocéros

Audiences at Brown University's production of the Jean-Paul Sartre play The Flies last month were greatly outnumbered in the auditorium by 30,000 fruit flies that were bred by a science student specifically for the play.

The day before the performance, the cast and crew released most of the flies into the theater, which was surrounded by netting. They continued freeing the flies over the next few days so their numbers would remain approximately constant throughout the performances, Naylor said.

Several methods were used to keep the flies circulating around the audience, Rutherford said. More than a hundred food traps were distributed mostly in low places around the theater. One of the actresses in the play brought a bowl of rotting fruit onstage with her. Even the blood -- made of chocolate syrup -- was designed to lure the flies, he said.

Primavera Update

More confirmations: Billy Bragg, the Buzzcocks, Jonathan Richman, the Long Blondes, Klaxons.

What year is this again?

Red, White and Green

Further to the post below, but on a personal note: Our aunt has been doing some genealogical research and discovered that our great great grandmother was born in Bandon, Co. Cork.

Does that entitle me to wear a Munster shirt?

Red, White and Basque

New genetic evidence indicates that our ancestors were the Basques, not the Celts. So says Stephen Oppenheimer in this article in Prospect.

. . . the English still derive most of their current gene pool from the same early Basque source as the Irish, Welsh and Scots. These figures are at odds with the modern perceptions of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ethnicity based on more recent invasions.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Milk of Human Kindness

There's no pleasing some people.


Will Smith is to star in the film version of Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend, a novel that scared the shit out of me as a 12-year-old (I was a sensitive boy) and gave me nightmares again for very different reasons when it was made into The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston.

The only books I read that year were I Am Legend and James Herbert's The Rats.

How come I'm not a Goth?

Off With Her Head!!

A statue of Pinochet supporter Margaret Thatcher is to be unveiled at Westminster next week.

I wonder if it's made from iron. From the Belgrano. Better yet, milk bottle tops. Or coal.

Couldn't they have erected something less controversial, like, say, a statue of Hitler embracing Herod?

The Daily Mail says:

Nearly 17 years after she was tearfully ejected from Downing Street, Lady Thatcher’s unique place in political history will be underlined when she becomes the first living prime minister to have a statue unveiled in the Palace of Westminster.

So all previous prime ministers have had the decency to die before being commemorated in this way. You'd think she'd take the hint, wouldn't you?

Not to take anything away from Barcelona but . . .

. . . the climax of this film has some other team beating Arsenal in the final of the European Champions League. Well, you know what they say: "Those who can't, cheat."

And is the "ugly face of success" Thomas Gravesen?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

He's Not the Messiah. He's a Very Naughty Boy.

That's Grigori Grabovoi, who has

Personal abilities of remote control of physical matter from any distance, cured hundreds of diseased persons without his personal presence, these facts are certified by traditional medicine and proved by notarized statement of cured persons.
Grabovoi claims also that he is responsible for the security of Vladimir Putin's aircraft and for the aircraft of other presidents of the Commonwealth of the Independent States, which he claimed to do "with the help of mental control."

Skeptical Inquirer reports that

His cynical activity was marked by his promise to resurrect more than 150 children, killed during a terrorist act in the town of Beslan (in the North Caucasus), for about $1,300. Last summer, on the television talk show, "Let's Talk," he proclaimed himself the New Savior.
Pravda reports that Grabovoi has since been arrested for fraud, but,

(He) was quick to offer his services to policemen during his apprehension. He said he could raise one officer to the rank of defense minister. He promised to make a general of another police officer. A few hours later, in his cell, he told the investigators that he could be free as a bird at any moment thanks to his wonderful ability of teleportation.

Will It Be Dubbed?

Milli Vanilli the Movie.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Text of the Week

From O'Hagan in Cork "Ireland will be without O'Driscoll and Stringer for the match at Croke Park whereas England will not have the tanks and guns they had on their last visit"

Followed closely by this from Hennin of Altrincham "Just had a sauna with Amy Winehouse's mum" (but doesn't beat his "Just had breakfast with Kylie Minogue")

Snakes in a Barrel (of Laughs)

Film Comment's review of the new Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci movie Black Snake Moan is well worth a read.

Black Snake Moan is the heartwarming tale of how a white-trash crack whore confronts her demons with the help of a backwoods negro who chains her to his radiator.

Maybe it's just me, but I get the impression from the review that Mr. Nathan Lee has certain unrequited emotions regarding Ms. Ricci. It's just a hunch.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Faces of War

A fascinating and wonderful article in this month's Smithsonian magazine by Caroline Alexander recounts how the pioneers of facial reconstruction and plastic surgery, including New Zealander Sir Harold Gillies, did their best to help those disfigured in the trenches of World War 1.

Those patients who could be successfully treated were, after lengthy convalescence, sent on their way; the less fortunate remained in hospitals and convalescent units nursing the broken faces with which they were unprepared to confront the world—or with which the world was unprepared to confront them. In Sidcup, England, the town that was home to Gillies' special facial hospital, some park benches were painted blue; a code that warned townspeople that any man sitting on one would be distressful to view.

But Our Heads Are Domed

Hogues on songwriting. Bottom Panel

(Were his ears always like that?)

The New Arab Conversation

An article by Gal Beckerman in the latest issue of The Columbia Journalism Review discusses the rise of blogging in the Middle East.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What, No Peter Powell?

We can only assume the Three Johns were never invited onto The Oxford Road Show.

Vote Fascist: You Know It Makes Sense

Manuel Stimulation is up for Best Blog at the Irish Blog Awards again, and his post Victory to Moroccan Imperialism is up for Most Humourous Post. Please lend your support, if you can be arsed. You (and all the friends you tell about it) can vote here until Friday at 5 p.m.

If you can't bring yourself to vote fascist (albeit "mock fascist"), Twenty and the Swearing Lady are in the mix too, and they're just as misanthropic as Manuel.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Not to be Confused with the Federación Anarquista Ibérica

Click on image for enlargement.

Treaty of Westphalia Defunct

QPR v China (casus belli here)

Chelsea v Chinese dissidents

And apparently Millwall is eyeing the Sudetenland.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Please Let Michael Flatley Join In!

The new CBS reality show, Armed and Famous.

Can the Subaltern Speak . . . Klingon?

Comic publisher IDW Publishing is to put out an edition of its upcoming Star Trek comic in Klingon, telling familiar stories from the series from the Klingon point of view.

Story here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Neither Jesus Nor Satan, But International Socialism!

In the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces, sinners left behind after the Rapture have to decide whether to join or combat the forces of the Antichrist. The object of the game is to kill or convert the opposing forces. Christian critics are objecting that the true Christian approach of turning the other cheek is not offered as an option to players.

The makers of the game say that the violence featured in the game is only defensive. On the Web site above, they say that "Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death."

Hmm. What would Jesus do?

Blogroll Addition

The Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran.

Spotted in that bastion of neocon conspiracies, Ms.

The Truth is in the Details

I initially thought this was just a rather sad story of unrequited love gone wrong, but as I read on, I began to think otherwise.

See if you can guess precisely where I started laughing.

La De Da De Da

When I saw them on Monday they did an encore with "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want."

And I think it's a Hurdy-Gurdy.

I know it's a bit hokey to get the two sides of the audience singing in competiton with each other, but Colin Meloy even charmed the sold out crowd into leaving a two-foot gap between the sides from front to back.

Didn't like the new stuff much though

Asia's Top Tycoon: Destined from Birth

With a name like that.

(And with apologies to Hak Mao for the cheap joke.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Making David Icke Look Normal

The readers' comments to George Monbiot's article in today's Guardian reviewing the "documentary" Loose Change.

And the Oscar for Best Actor...

Goes to...

Monday, February 05, 2007

League One Rubbish

I feel sorry for JJ and Reidski if this sad excuse for football is what passes for a top of the table needle match in League One. Two teams playing a rigid 4-4-2 with no pace, no energy and no creativity. Why it took either manager until the last 20 mins to change anything and how Craig Rocastle lasted that long is beyond me. Thank God for injury time and some comedy goalkeeping and a needless sending off.

Still, at least the pies were hot.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kicking Off

No, not Italian football, but a report from our man in Bangkok, Dr. Knot:

Not sure if it's been shown back home or not, but there is a tournament going on out here called the ASEAN cup, and Thailand and Singapore are in the two-legged final, (not sure if it was planned in advance or not, but the two legs of the final are being played in Singapore and Thailand.)

Just for a bit of back ground info, the previous prime minister (Thaksin) sold the main telephone company to a Singaporean company before he was overthrown last year, and now the government wants the company back and is trying to put all sorts of pressure on Singapore; it's causing a lot of hostility between the two countries, but there's no fear of any trouble because Malayasia is in between the two countries for about 800 miles and the Thai Navy can't afford the fuel to sail that far south and the Singapore airforce doesn't have the range to hit any targets in Thailand, so it's all a bit of handbags at 10 paces. One of the consequences is that every phone call in Thailand goes via Singapore, and Thai companies fear their conversations are being monitored as Singapore consortiums are buying up profitable Thai companies.

The first leg was played on Wednesday night, nothing spectacular in the game: Singapore rightly won the game 2-1, although the winning goal was a disputed penalty 8 minutes from time. As soon as Sinagapore scored, the Thai team walked off for 15 minutes in a huff before resuming the match.

The reaction in the Thai papers has the government pleading with Thai workers not to get into disputes if they work for any Singapore companies, and not to walk out. The Thai tourist minister has said that the safety of Singapore fans cannot be guaranteed before during and after the match, and they should move around in groups (or gangs).

The second leg is at a stadium in Bangkok on Sunday. If I can get a ticket I'll be off to it, (VIP seats 300 BHT - approx £4.20). The only snag is that the stadium only holds 30,000 people, so I might not be able to get a ticket.

But I've not felt the tension in the air like this for a football match for ages, its great!



Friday, February 02, 2007

That's not very chivalrous!

Thou "Base knave, lowsie knave, drunken knave, base rogue, drunken rogue and beggerley rogue."

That's John Greene of Milton Clevedon, Somerset, according to James Hodges of the same, case number 255 in the Court of Chivalry, which dealt with duels during the reign of Charles I.

Richard Cust and Andrew Hopper of Birmingham University have detailed cases taken on by the court, providing an abstract on each case followed by a calendar of all the surviving documents, with some transcribed in full.

Well worth a look, even if you only try to find your own name.

Blue-Collar Writer

An interview with Texan writer Joe R. Lansdale, author of among others, Bubba Ho-Tep, from the December 11 issue of Publishers Weekly.

Seems like a nice (good ol') boy.

Aim Low or Not at All

The January 22 issue of Newsweek features an article in which a number of well-known baby boomers were asked to name three things they hoped to achieve in the remainder of their days. The request elicited some revealing answers, including:

Patti Smith: Learn to ride horses.

Bill O'Reilly: Teaching. I'd try to go to a university to impart my experiences.

Stephen King: To live to see George W. Bush tried for crimes against humanity.
To see American Idol cancelled.

Joan Jett: To somehow combine my love for animals, nature, and children.

My favourite, however, has got to be Dan Quayle, whose list is

1: To NOT go sky-diving.
2: To go on a horseback safari in Botswana, and
3: To take my family to Greece this summer.

Way to go, Dan! How will you fit it all in?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Multiple Choice Would Be Harder

Having made an unnecessary trip into Mcr last night (note to self: check listings before you leave the house), I decided to catch the last 15 mins of Arse/Totty in a boozer in Alty that I don't normally frequent. I might go every Weds. from now on as they appear to have the world's easiest pub quiz and the nation's thickest quiz teams. Whilst getting served I overheard

Quizmaster: Who led the coalition Government formed in 1940?

Lad 1: Er . . . Maggie Thatcher.


Quizmaster: Which port is the capital of Argentina?

Lad 2: Brazil?

To be fair, the two lads at the bar weren't taking it too seriously but, god, they were clueless.

What I found slightly odd was when the quizmaster followed the question "Which woman has this week announced that she will be running for President of the United States?" with the comment, "Not while I've a breath in my body!"

Now, while he may well have legitimate reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton and her policies (when she gets around to announcing them), the bloke, who has no vote in the U.S. elections as far I know, was implying that he would resort to illegal methods to prevent her election. Should I call the anti-terrorist unit?