28 September 2005

'You will enjoy Mr Brezhnev's speech - or we'll shoot you'

'Among the most time-consuming activities of the KGB in India was the preparation for [Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev's state visit in 1973. As usual it was necessary to ensure that the General Secretary was received with what appeared to be rapturous enthusiasm.

Since Brezhnev was such a dreary orator, this was no easy task. His speech in the great square in front of Delhi's Red Fort presented a particular challenge. According to KGB estimates, two million people were present - perhaps the largest audience to whom Brezhnev had ever spoken.

The speech was extraordinarily long-winded and heavy going. As he droned on and night began to fall, some of the audience began to drift away but were turned back by police for fear of offending the Soviet leader. Though even Brezhnev sensed that not all was well, the KGB claimed credit for "creating favourable conditions" for his Indian triumph'

- The Times, 17 September 2005, in an article "Indira's India and the KGB"

'Colonel Pookie, your jellimeat is ready'

For the pet-owner who has everything - this company will compose a photo of your Tiger or Rex wearing a military uniform of your choice? Sergeant Fido? Squadron Leader Tinkles? Your pets have always wanted to stand in the front line of the defence of democracy, right?


[Courtesy of Sanders]

24 September 2005

The WWI cartoons of Abian Wallgren

What better way for a young US Marine to spend his spare time than to compose handy hints for his colleagues in the trenches? Wallgren's sprightly sense of humour remained intact despite the trevails of the trenches.

Abian Wallgren

23 September 2005

Get your online fantasy personas innoculated immediately

Deadly plague hits Warcraft world

A deadly virtual plague has broken out in the online game World of Warcraft. Although limited to only a few of the game's servers the numbers of characters that have fallen victim is thought to be in the thousands. Originally it was thought that the deadly digital disease was the result of a programming bug in a location only recently added to the Warcraft game. However, it now appears that players kicked off the plague and then kept it spreading after the first outbreak.

[The game's creator] Blizzard regularly introduces new places to explore in the online world. In the last week, it added the Zul'Gurub dungeon which gave players a chance to confront and kill the fearsome Hakkar - the god of Blood. In his death throes Hakkar hits foes with a "corrupted blood" infection that can instantly kill weaker characters.

The infection was only supposed to affect those in the immediate vicinity of Hakkar's corpse but some players found a way to transfer it to other areas of the game by infecting an in-game virtual pet with it. This pet was then unleashed in the orc capital city of Ogrimmar and proved hugely effective as the Corrupted Blood plague spread from player to player.

Although computer controlled characters did not contract the plague, they are said to have acted as "carriers" and infected player-controlled characters they encountered.

Many online discussion sites were buzzing with reports from the disaster zones with some describing seeing "hundreds" of bodies lying in the virtual streets of the online towns and cities.

"The debate amongst players now is if it really was intentional although due to the effects of the problem it seems unlikely," Paul Younger, an editor on the unofficial worldofwarcraft.net site, told the BBC News website.

"It's giving players something to talk about and could possibly be considered the first proper 'world event'", he said.

Luckily the death of a character in World of Warcraft is not final so all those killed were soon resurrected.

The "Corrupted Blood" plague is not the first virtual disease to break out in online worlds. In May 2000 many players of The Sims were outraged when their game characters died because of an infection contracted from a dirty virtual guinea pig.

BBC News, 22 September 2005

Commendable optimism, there

Discarded MP Can Still WOW Them

Press Release by Green Party at 4:51 PM, 22 Sep 2005

A recently discarded Member of Parliament will begin his personal recycling process this week with an entry in The Wonderful World of Wearable Arts (WOW) in its first Wellington season.

Green Party Arts and Culture and Waste-free Spokesperson Mike Ward, who "was an artist in his previous life", has entered four earlier WOW events in Nelson and won an award in 2001 for his 'Sir Edmonds' design. His latest work is entered in this year's open section.

"My piece this year, 'The Emperors Entourage', consists of two large wearable canvases and is a play on the Hans Christian Anderson tale 'The Emperors New Clothes'," the former MP says.


The Greens would require only a paltry 18 percent of the special votes to lift their overall total to 6.2 percent and allow Mr Ward to grace Parliament with his presence.

[Postscript: It seems the optimism wasn't wholly misplaced. Junglette points out that Ward won the supreme WoW award for The Emperor's Entourage]

Slippery George

Eagle-eyed Very Friday readers will recall a Russian version of this eerie ever-falling rag-doll. Now someone's taken the logical next step. Instead of a Russian girl, it's now George W. Bush. He's quite flexible for a President, you know.

Slippery George

[Courtesy of Alpen]

22 September 2005

Either a very small Korean, or a very large toilet

'Newsweek screwed up. Nearly everyone admits that, including the magazine's editors, who retracted an inadequately sourced report that US interrogators had flushed a Korean down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay'

- Yomiuri Shimbun

An exciting rebranding can really make the difference

'Meanwhile, as part of the same review process carried out by the Financial Services Skills Council, the Chartered Insurance Institute is withdrawing its Financial Planning Certificate and replacing it with the Certificate in Financial Planning'

- Jersey Evening Post (UK)

15 September 2005

'The National Party plan for this election seems to be to attempt to scare the voters of New Zealand... did I say the National Party?'

- Dr Don Brash

'I don't want any candidate to be talking about his testicles, to be frank'

- Dr Brash lays down his bottom line for coalition negotiations

And why not let them eat cake, while you're at it?

"Who cares if they take a TV? These people have been poor all their life - let them have that ONE moment of touching what they've never had!"

- Celine Dion has the final say on the New Orleans disaster

'Depressed Cupboard Cheesecake, your breakfast is ready...'

List of unusual personal names from Wikipedia, including the ever-popular 'Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards'


Intricate Japanese food art

My lunch at school was never this pretty...


How to make an X-Wing out of a Paris Metro ticket

Assuming you happen to have a Paris Metro ticket lying around, that is.


The most entertaining use of the word "dog" in a judicial context

"There's things I choose to do, like, if I go in a store and choose to take a Snickers bar, if you catch me, you catch me. If not, I'm going to go home and eat it up and go on about my business, dog."

- Glenn A. Reed, 31, upon being sentenced in Waco, Texas, in July to 99 years in prison as a habitual criminal (after rejecting a plea bargain that would have meant a 15-year sentence), San Francisco Chronicle, 11 July 2005

A constructive discourse on banana protection hardware

Sure, you've seen banana protectors before on VFE (haven't you?). But now I think it's quite important that you read the sales pitch this dedicated Trademe dealer has concocted to back up their culturally significant banana-protection-related sale. 7800 hits and counting...

An example of some of the comments:

"I have one of these but instead of gloating, I would like to pass on a hint or two for those with young families. Why not use it to create banana shaped watermelon pieces for the kids. Or a 'banana tie' for Dad. Last christmas we got a whole lot of bananas and made banana shaped bananas"

And of course, the inevitable question:

'Is there an option for a lockable version? Fruit theft is ripe at my worksite...'


[Courtesy of Mrs G]

Subtlety is not a strong point of architectural criticism

'Critics described the initial proposal as "transvestites caught in a gale"'.

And Brad Pitt is involved too!

Check out the article if you don't believe me, 'cos there's a picture (of the transvestite buildings, that is). And if you don't mind quotes scurrilously taken out of context, see here where Brad says 'I'm really gay about the whole thing'. Oo-er.

- Guardian, 14 September 2005

Attending to the pressing affairs of state

"US President George W Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations. It reads: 'I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible'"

See photo at: www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,0a14457a205882,00.html

[Courtesy of Junglette]

14 September 2005

The real reason why Australia lost the Ashes

"You can have your rugby tests, you can have international soccer, but this is what matters and there has been a frittering away of the spirit and he [Mr Beazley] holds that weasel [Mr Howard] responsible for it. He's [Howard] lost it for us, we will never forget, it's a crime"

- A spokesman for Kim Beazley, Australia's Leader of the Opposition, maintains the rage

Ein Volk, ein Reich ... und eine Disko

For more than half a century, historians have wondered what the Nazis would have done had they won the second world war. Now the matter can be settled. A report, unread for 65 years, reveals the Nazis' top priority once they had destroyed the allies, exterminated the Jews and occupied Europe. They were going to build a big, flash nightspot in Berlin.

"It'll be the most beautiful, the most modern, the most elegant in Europe", enthused the report's author, Giuseppe Renzetti. "The project is said to have met with the ardent approval of the F├╝hrer."

Renzetti, Italy's consul in Berlin, told his superiors that already, in mid-1940, the Nazis were preparing their capital for the tourist boom they expected would follow victory. He understood "a manager has already been found for the nightclub and that it had been decided to restrict entry to foreigners, the diplomatic corps and the members of Berlin [high] society."

Extracts from the report, dated July 23 1940, were published in [Italian newspaper] Corriere della Sera yesterday. Italy's former consul was as close as any foreigner to Hitler; Goebbels wrote that Renzetti could almost be seen as a Nazi. To compile his report the diplomat interviewed top officials including the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler.

Renzetti, who had acted as a go-between, carrying messages from Hitler to Mussolini, was consul in Berlin from 1938 until 1941 when he was posted to Stockholm. He died near Pisa in 1953.

- Guardian, 13 September 2005

More from Planet Cruise

'I felt honoured to have volunteer Scientology ministers on the set. They were helping the crew. When I'm working on a movie, I do anything I can to help the people I'm spending time with. I believe in communication. The volunteer Scientology ministers were there to help the sick and injured'

- Tom Cruise on having fully staffed Scientology tents on the set of War of the Worlds

'[Women] smell good. They look pretty. I love women. I do'

- So, not gay then.

13 September 2005

Of course if you eat the chocolate you wouldn't be able to fit the clothes anyway

“Our goal is to celebrate chocolate,” Sylvie Douce told journalists gathered in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Beijing, “and to show that it is more than just a food. Here in the world’s largest country, we want to introduce people to the many ways that one can experience chocolate, using not just the mouth, but all the senses. And our exhibition of chocolate haut couture will show you just how versatile it can be.”

Ms Douce (of the Paris Salon du Chocolat) was introducing a fashion show in which the models were dressed in clothes made entirely from chocolate. After the show, in which women strode the catwalk wearing confections made by twenty of the world’s finest chocolatiers (from France, Belgium, and Russia), model Li Chunzhi said. “This is the first time I have ever dressed in chocolate. It feels so fresh, and is very different from any other show I’ve ever modelled in. But you have to be very careful about dressing, and not stay under the lights for too long, otherwise your clothes start to melt. Perhaps this is what the Jin dynasty poet Lu Shiheng had in mind, when he said that ‘beauty is a feast in itself’.”

- South China Morning Post, 11 June 2005, quoted in Private Eye

12 September 2005

How about a 'sitting round drinking beer strike' next?

Students Declare Noodle Strike At Massey University
Press Release by Massey University Students Association at 12:57 PM, 12 Sep 2005

Students have today set up camp on Massey University grounds and placed themselves on a Noodle Strike in response to the decision by the University Council to request an exemption to the Annual Fee Movement Limit from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) in order to increase Massey University student fees by 10% in 2006.

The students will be living in tents and eating only 2-minute noodles to symbolise the increased hardship Massey students would face if the proposed fee increase was approved. The students intend to make full use of the University utilities their money is funding...

["Back in my day we didn't protest by eating pot noodles - we poked ourselves in the eyes with hot coals! Cuh, I dunno - students these days are just soft", etc. etc.]

10 September 2005

...They Fight Crime!

First featured in the Very Friday Email over three years ago, this random TV-show tagline generator still entertains. See how hard it is to restrain yourself from clicking and clicking and clicking...?

A sample offering:

'He's a notorious guitar-strumming librarian who knows the secret of the alien invasion. She's a radical cat-loving museum curator from aristocratic European stock. They fight crime!'


08 September 2005

Mmm, do I smell the delicious aroma of tiger urine?

'Tiger' dish was donkey

BEIJING: A restaurant in northeast China has been raided and closed for listing stir-fried tiger meat on its menu, a dish that turned out to be donkey dressed with tiger urine.

The Hufulou restaurant in Hailin city, in Heilongjiang province, is barely a kilometre from the Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Park, home to a species that is among the world's 10 most endangered. It was offering a dish of stir-fried tiger meat with chillies for 800 yuan ($98), and raw tiger meat at 7000 yuan a kilogram, the China Daily reported.

Diners could wash it down with a bottle of wine pickled with tiger bone.

When asked how the restaurant obtained the meat, a waiter reportedly said the owner had good connections within the tiger park and got the meat of dead tigers.

Police subsequently raided the restaurant and the owner confessed the so-called tiger meat was donkey meat, dressed with tiger urine to give it a "special" flavour.

The eatery was closed for inspection, the China Daily said. It was not clear how many customers had ordered the feast or where the restaurant obtained the tiger urine.

The Australian, 9 September 2005

[Courtesy of Tibby]

07 September 2005

Election website special

Entertaining internet samizdat techniques are making the 2005 election race more interesting than usual. Try these websites out for size:

In which a cute wee Don Brash gets put through his paces by the Labour spindoctors. If only they had him dancing like a Cossack...

National Party billboard maker
Have a look at the other amusing efforts, or try making one yourself! Here's my feeble effort.

Some thoughts on cricket, on the eve of the deciding Ashes Test

"How can you tell your wife you are just popping out to play a match and then not come back for five days?"

- Rafael Benitez, manager of Liverpool FC, struggles to understand cricket

"Cricketers don't spit. Women really hate that."

- The Guardian's chief sports writer Richard Williams posits his theory that not spitting is the chief reason why more women are seeming to prefer cricket to football

"It's much better than being a footballer - in that game half the nation hates you because you play for the wrong club. That must be hell."

- Rachael Flintoff, England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff's wife, has a better reason why she prefers cricket to football

05 September 2005

Also, don't irritate or patronise them

Warning Not To Confuse Parrots

Press Release by Environment Bay of Plenty at 11:12 AM, 01 Sep 2005

An Australian parrot that is damaging crops in the Bay of Plenty should never be confused with the protected native kaka, warns Environment Bay of Plenty and the Department of Conservation.

Last month, more than 1000 people called a special number to report sightings of the brightly-coloured Eastern Rosella, which is a surveillance pest animal in Environment Bay of Plenty's regional pest strategy. They can carry diseases that are a potential threat to native parrots.

"We don't want people to get confused," says Environment Bay of Plenty's pest animal coordinator David Moore. "If you want to control Eastern Rosellas, please make sure you have positively identified them first."

[Suppose I'd be quite confused if someone mistook me for a kaka too]