Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's in the Daily Mail, It Must Be True

Scientists create a sheep that is 15% Celine Dion.

Roddy Doyle Should Look So Good

Today's NYT tells the tale of Gabriel García Márquez's feud with Mario Vargas Llosa, including a fine pic of the former with a shiner.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good Job It Wasn't Ireland Playing

A cracking interview with Iranian film director Jafar Panahi by Dorna Khazeni from last week's LA Weekly. Continue right to the end, if only to read yet another fumbling American attempt to understand the offside rule!

Where Have You Been?

Finally The Guardian has caught on to Andrew Bird, someone who C&S have been crapping on about for almost six years.


Just a quick mention of the two films I got to see at this years Spanish Film Festival (I would get to more if they weren't a) sold out b) during work hours c) during the footy season).

I did see Salvador, a none too convincing depiction of the arrest and execution of the last man to be garotted in Spain. Sadly he's portrayed as a naive kid who was only larking about and not the hardened political activist responsible for bank jobs and shoot-outs. It says a lot when the best performance, and the role you want to see expanded on, is by the actor playing the fascist prison guard.

Secondly was azuroscurocasinegro another film revolving around prison-life but in this case a funny and touching drama about a young man trapped in his job and family.

You Are The Ref (And You Are A Twat)

In all the time I've been playing and watching footy, from local parks to Villa Park, I've never seen a ref award a free kick for a player receiving a pass whilst holding one of his boots in his hand. Not only was there not an opposition player within 5 yards, but he then made the player leave the pitch to put his boot back on and wouldn't let him return until there was break in play. Perfectly correct in terms of the laws of the game, but I don't believe there was any danger to the player or opponents.

The next break in play was Alty kicking off after Stafford scored from the subsequent free-kick against 10 men.

It wasn't as if we deserved anything from last night, but decisions like that can really make you angry.

Small (Blogging) World

As reported in the Comments section to the post below, another cool and wonderful and very funny (but former) workmate will be on Sinead Gleeson's radio show tomorrow at 11 a.m. discussing superheroes and the like. The same show that featured Twenty discussing his book deal, no less.

Don't You Wish Your Workmates Were Cool Like Mine?

Over the last two working weeks, I have received for free the following CDs from one super-generous and ridiculously overeducated (and extremely funny, let it be noted) workmate: this, this, this, this, and this.

What a top bloke.

It's a strange place to work: In place of a hazing ceremony, one new staffer was required to watch this as a way of assimilating the office culture.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thom Browne's Schoolboys

The Canadian magazine Walrus has a profile of designer Thom Browne, who has gone "rock’n’roll with the classic men’s suit."

That's one way of putting it.

Give the Boy a Big Hand

The February 12 issue of Sports Illustrated carries a profile by Steve Rushin of high school junior basketball player Kevin Laue. The Amador Valley High, California, player was born with no arm below his left elbow after his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Then, at age ten, Laue lost his father to melanoma and became the youngest child in a new family with five siblings when his mother remarried.

"It seems a little unfair" Kevin says, "but I'm happy with what God gave me."

God is still giving, to judge by the boy's growth plate. By seventh grade, when Kevin was cut from the school team and turned to AAU ball, his feet were growing two sizes a year. (He now wears a size 17.) In eighth grade he was palming the ball and, dunking. His oversized right hand, which looks as big as a novelty foam finger, is known around town as the Mitt. With it he catches passes, makes steals and gathers rebounds. "It's like a lacrosse stick," says teammate Nick Johansen.
. . .

In one jayvee game last year Kevin had 20 blocks. In another he intercepted a pass, dribbled the length of the floor and dunked. He scored the winning basket with less than a second left against archrival Foothill High. "A lot of people think it would be unfair if he had two arms" says Johansen.

This year, as a varsity starter, Kevin blocked the first five shots in a game against Livermore. He leads the strong East Bay Athletic League with seven rejections a game. No one escapes the Long Arm of the Laue.
A heartwarming story, but with an appalling punchline.

There's only one thing you can do for Kevin Laue that he can't do for himself: applaud.

What are the Odds?

The New York Times reports that

A remote-controlled mechanism with a dozen launching tubes was found buried in the turf at Hong Kong’s most famous horse racing track last week; it was rigged with compressed air to fire tiny, liquid-filled darts into the bellies of horses at the starting gate.

The authorities suspect gamblers. I suspect acupuncturists. Not on this occasion. Just generally.

Twenty: The Book(s)

Twenty Major goes legit.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Run-In

So, eight games left and a projected safety total of 52 points required (although you can bank on some financial irregularities affecting the relegation issues.This is the Conference after all).

My guess is wins against Stafford and Aldershot and points at Stevenage and St.Albans will see Alty safe.But I wouldn't put money on it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Giving It The Full Gun

Apt choice of words from the defence counsel don't you think?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Samuel Beckett Would Be Proud

Congratulations must go to Ireland for achieving the pinnacle of their sporting lifetime by beating Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup.It goes to show that all that running round hitting a ball with a stick wasn't the waste of time everyone thought it was.

Now if only England could qualify.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

There is a light that intermittently goes out

Which means it must be the new David Lynch movie, "Inland Empire". A companion piece of sorts to Mullholland Drive with a large dollop of Twin Peaks voodoo dropped in the middle of it. I can't say I was particularly comfortable with the digital video format and having seen Lynch interviewed recently I can understand why the camera shakes so much, but it's his usual labyrinthine surreal puzzles with some good performances and plenty of lampshades. And a cameo from Jerry Stahl.

New York Times review here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lottery Madness

Norm blogs here about the Geras household's regular purchasing of national lottery tickets. According to an article he refers to in the New York Times, playing the lottery is not an investment but a disposable consumer purchase that leads to 'transforming fantasies' and can accommodate incidental pleasures like indulging your 'number superstitions'.

Hmm. Okay. I've found that I'm perfectly capable of transforming fantasies without having to spend any money at all, but his reflections caused me to recall a conversation I recently had with a friend on the platform at Laytown station.

It transpired that the previous night she had been round at another friend's house where everyone was invited to have their fortune told/palm read by a local psychic (don't ask me why, but women around our way seem to love these "psychic parties"; maybe they've bought everything from the Anne Summers and Tupperware catalogues at this point). Anyway, my friend had been told that she would win some money at the weekend in the national lottery. She was over the moon at the prospect.

"So," I said to her, "I take it you haven't bought any lottery tickets." She looked at me like I was an idiot.

"Of course I have," she said. "I've actually bought twice as many as I usually do."

I looked at her like she was an idiot.

"But if that statement made by the fortune teller was a true statement, why was there any need for you to spend any money on a lottery ticket? Either she was forecasting the future, in which case there was no need for you to do anything, or she was not forecasting the future and just making it up as she went along, in which case you could have spent your money on something more useful, such as Tupperware."

She continued to think that I was an idiot, of course, and on Monday morning we discussed an entirely different topic as we both avoided the subject of her continued poverty.

And During Cheltenham, Too!

I just made a joke. I have to tell you.

A work colleague was telling me how she ate horse sushi last year, when she worked in Japan. Yes, that's raw horse. Quick as a flash, I said,

"Did it come with a side saddle?"

I'm so proud.

Summer Holiday

Without an away win all season Alty have just beaten Weymouth and Morecambe in the space of 72 hours.This seaside success on the back of driving a double decker bus through Cambridge Utd's defence five times last week means that they have now won an unprecedented 3 on the bounce.

Bring on the Bald Eagle!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Set Theory (Made Simple) for Creationists

Accompanying this post at Saint Gasoline.

Red Noses for Me

A profile of Shane MacGowan in today's New York Times.

In another tangent, speaking about The Butcher Boy, Neil Jordan’s film version of Patrick McCabe’s darkly satirical novel about a boy’s murder spree in County Monaghan, he said with a rasping chortle, “It’s great if you don’t actually know everything that happens in every Irish town every day of the week.” He said he loved Mr. Jordan’s adaptation of Mr. McCabe’s Breakfast on Pluto, about a London drag queen in trouble with the I.R.A. in the 1970s. He said it brought “back nostalgia for mass killings and bombings, you know what I mean?”

Because Teenagers Aren't Already Annoying Enough

Dada footwear has announced the introduction of sneakers, basketball, and skate shoes with an inbuilt sound system, including speakers, able to play mp3 files "to share music at the beach, on the court, in the park, on the front porch."

On the train, on the bus, while you're trying to read, in the cinema, during class, on the stretcher, in casualty.

The fun has just begun.

But I Like Slaughtering Animals

In the March issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, Ian Christe reports that, thanks to stem-cell research, meat-processing firms hope within the next 10 years to begin selling affordable meat grown in laboratories.

According to Christe, scientists have been growing meat in laboratories for years, using pig stem cells. Early research produced less-than-appetizing results, but in 2001, scientists at New York's Touro College secured funding from NASA to improve in vitro farming and succeeded in growing goldfish muscle in a nutrient broth. Scientists supported by corporations such as Dutch sausage titan Stegeman are currently fine-tuning the process, and just two weeks are needed to turn pig stem cells, or myoblasts, into muscle fibers.

Unfortunately, lab meat costs approximately $100,000 per kilogram right now, but since this is a scalable process, it takes the same amount of time to make a kilogram or a ton of meat, says Jason Matheny of New Harvest, a meat substitute research group.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Horses and Dinosaurs

Patti Smith attempts to justify her attendance at her induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Should an artist working within the revolutionary landscape of rock accept laurels from an institution? Should laurels be offered? Am I a worthy recipient?
erm . . . no.

Go Ask Alice

Wired has a gallery tribute to filmmaker Jan Švankmajer on its Web site on the occasion of the release of a DVD of his works.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Public Service

For one reason or another, I shall probably get into trouble for posting this, but if you haven't read Twenty Major's wee snippet in the Review section of today's Sunday Tribune, I think you should. It is both funny and accurate. The Trib ran a feature today about the state of the arts in Ireland, asking writers, actors, sculptors, musicians, etc., which art best sums up modern Ireland. The winner of best blog at the Irish Blog Awards (as he is identified in the piece) has this to say:

The idea that Cecilia Ahern's first book spawned million-euro advances and film companies couldn't wait to snap it up says everything about the state of Irish fiction at the moment. One or two exceptions apart, it's all tediously safe, formulaic and fluffy. It's like a toilet seat with one of those furry covers on it. Looks nice on the outside, but under the covers it's full of . . .

That's no real criticism of Cecilia - she's dead right to milk it for all it's worth, but it's a bit sad that a country with such a rich literary history is not producing much of note at the moment. Then, to counter it, stuff like The Sea by John Banville is lauded as great work when it's as tedious and up its own arse as the chick-lit stuff.

Now we'll have a P.S. I Love You movie, merchandise, a spin-off TV series starring Angeline Ball and eventually we'll have a Chick-Lit Idol to find the next Cecilia while the real talent goes ignored and underpaid.
Nice one, Twenty.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Every Cloud etc.

The collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has rejuvenated the kite making industry, reports Time magazine:

In the first heady days after the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, men shaved, music blasted on car stereos and kites took to the air. For Noor Agha, Kabul's best kite maker, business has been soaring ever since.
Isn't that lovely? Kites. What could be more cheery?

Agha's factory is his living room, where he has put his two wives and 11 children to work, cutting, shaping and gluing the intricate tissue-paper mosaics that make his kites stand out for their beauty and superior handling. The secret is in the glue, he says, holding up a pot of evil-smelling green paste. "No one knows my recipe for making a glue that stays perfectly flat when it dries, without rippling the tissue paper," he says.
Say what?

Business is so good these days that Agha has had to teach his wives how to make kites. He proudly calls one of them "the second best kite maker in Kabul," although he insists that she will never be as good as he is. "I have 45 years' experience. She'll never be able to catch up." His 6-year-old daughter may have a better chance. Already she is making her own kites to sell to neighborhood children at one afghani (2¢) apiece.
My God. The man's a monster! What have we done?! Quick, someone, organize a boycott and we can run this guy out of business. Does George Bush know this is happening?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Congratulations to Liverpool

Well, I have to admit that overall the scousers were the better side... They played better as a team and had more spirit and will to win. So, well done, Liverpool. At least Ian McCulloch will be a happy man this week... But I'm starting to feel better after cheering for Van Bommel last night...

Do I Detect the Hand of Tourism Ireland?

The Wiki entries for Laytown and County Meath, respectively:

There is a garda station and a primary school which occupy a site of approximately 2 acres, the buildings thereon being a series of dated school buildings and Portakabins. The village also consists of two pubs, a run down hotel, two newsagents, a pharmacy, two take-aways and a train station.
County Meath (Irish: Contae na Mí) is a county in the Republic of Ireland, often informally called The Crap County.

Happy International Women's Day

Do what RedMum tells you.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ataturk's Mother Was a Hamster, and His Father Smelled of Elderberries

Turkey blocks YouTube because of insults to Turkish culture.

Call Me a Sceptic But . . .

How far into this video do you get before you begin to doubt the veracity of the guy's story?

Avoid Engaging in Any Activity That Involves Moving Your Hand Up and Down in a Vigourous, Repetitive, Rhythmic Manner

That's the advice I'd give to these people who have managed to induce seizures by such activity.

Personally, I was reassured by this report. But then, I just have a habit of drooling.

Baudrillard Is Dead

Yes. Really.

How Would I Describe The Freezing Idiots?

Somewhere between Phil Cool and Lindisfarne.

A Working-Class Hero is Something to Be

The mighty Niall Quinn attempts to combine both the promotion and class struggles up at Sunderland.

Sunderland's last two glass-blowing firms are to close with 790 jobs going, Fujitsu shed 600, Groves Cranes 670, Vaux Breweries 600. One could go on. Quinn did.

"At this club, in this region, there is a moral responsibility. The club is the biggest symbol of identity for Sunderland people. What I have to make sure is we strike a balance between being affordable and making sure we can compete. But I'm aware of the whole picture, especially on days like today when you hear what's happened a mile away from the stadium
. . .

"If I was offered Chelsea for one pound I wouldn't take it because I can bring nothing to it. But I think I can bring something here because I relate to these people. I hung around with ex-miners when I came here and I still do - they've come over to see me in Ireland. When I first came to England [in 1983] I saw these miners getting the shit kicked out of them by all these cops. It struck a chord with me and, when I came up here, I began to find out more. There was a bitter aftertaste and it helped me find out the real spirit of the region, the real problems, the real pleasures."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Miss at Your Peril!

On tonight's Podge & Rodge, Timperley's Finest, Mr. Sidebottom.

That's 10.45 p.m., RTE 2. Be there.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Humourous Blog Post of the Year, Whatever Any Other Fucker Says

This item from GalwayFirst is just too fucking hilarious to be true. Almost every line is a gem.

A man who was found dressed in latex and handcuffs brought a donkey to his room in a Galway city centre hotel, because he was advised “to get out and meet people,” the local court heard last week.

Thomas Aloysius McCarney with an address in south Galway was charged with cruelty to animals, lewd and obscene behaviour, and with being a danger to himself when he appeared before the court on Friday. He was also charged with damage to a mini-bar in the room, but this charge was later dropped when the defendant said that it was the donkey who caused that damage.

Solicitor for the accused Ms Sharon Fitzhenry said that her client had been through a difficult time lately and that his wife had left him and that his life had become increasingly lonely.

“Mr McCarney has been attending counselling at which he was told that he would be advised to get out and meet people and do interesting things. It was this advice that saw him book into the city centre hotel with a donkey.”

She added that Mr McCarney also suffered from a fixation with the Shrek movies and could constantly be heard at work talking to himself saying things like “Isn’t that right, Donkey?”

Supt John McBrearty told the court that Mr McCarney who had signed in as “ Mr Shrek” had told hotel staff that the donkey was a family pet and that this was believed by the hotel receptionist who the supt said was “young and hadn’t great English.”

Receptionist Irina Legova said that Mr McCarney had told her that the donkey was a breed of “super rabbit” which he was bringing to a pet fair in the city. The court was told that the donkey went berserk in the middle of the night and ran amok in the hotel corridor, forcing hotel staff to call the gardai.

McCarney was found in the room wearing a latex suit and handcuffs, the key to which the donkey is believed to have swallowed.

He was removed to Mill St station after which it is said he was the subject of much mirth among the lads next door in The Galway Arms.

Poor sod, what harm was he doing anyone?

He was fined €2,000 for bringing the donkey to the room under the Unlawful Accommodation of Donkeys Act 1837.

Of course. That old one. Gets them every time.

Something for the Weekend?

If, like Manuel, you have no great interest in the Irish Blog Awards this Saturday, why not pop along instead to the 2007 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair at Club na Múinteorí (the Teachers Club), 36 Parnell Square?

Not that it would exactly be Manuel's cup of tea, of course, but I'm sure there will be plenty to interest anyone marginally less rabid.

A New Weapon in the Class Struggle

The Inflatable Cockroach

New Yorker January 15:

The giant standing cockroach in question was spotted last week in front of an apartment building on Eighty-third Street, just east of Madison Avenue. It was twelve feet tall and hideous, its tentacles waving in the breeze. It was also—on closer, but not too close, inspection—fake. It was an inflatable cockroach.

. . .

This Upper East Side specimen, worn and dusty, was the property, for the moment, of a small cadre of organizers from Local 78, a hazardous-materials removers’ union. “This is not our cockroach, to be honest,” Eli Kent, one of the organizers, said last week. Local 78 had borrowed it from Local 12A, which had purchased two of them from Big Sky Balloons, an Illinois outfit that makes the rats, along with assorted other rabble-rousing inflatables, such as skunks, fat cats, and greedy pigs. Since December 14th, Local 78’s organizers had been setting it up on weekday mornings outside the apartment building (some days they brought a rat or a gorilla instead) to call attention to a tenant there who had apparently hired non-union workers on an asbestos-removal job at a building downtown.

The New York Times January 17:

All of which helps explain why Mr. Boulud, 51, cannot grasp why a group of restaurant-worker advocates keep showing up outside Daniel with a 12-foot inflatable cockroach, singing “We Shall Overcome” and chanting that he is a racist.

“Racism is a vicious charge,” Mr. Boulud said in an interview. “It is too easy to accuse someone of that, and it is very hard to defend yourself.”

And yet Mr. Boulud is being forced to do just that. In December, seven current and former employees filed suit in Federal District Court in Manhattan accusing him of discrimination. Similar charges against Mr. Boulud are before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It Was Only a Model*

Arthur M. Schlesinger dies, aged 89.

*Ridiculously obtuse Python reference crowbarred in.