31 March 2006

Gilbert O'Sullivan? How stylish!

Now I'm the sort of person who really *needs* to know what song was number 1 in the UK charts on the day I was born. Turns out it was 'Get Down' by Gilbert O'Sullivan, who history has mercifully erased from the public consciousness despite his 14 top forty hits. Perhaps it was because one of those hits was called 'Ooh Wakka Doo Wakka Day' (#8 in June 1972). My number 1 album is way cooler though: 'Houses Of The Holy' by Led Zeppelin. Rock 'n roll, man! And I share a birthday with a popstar too - Rachel Stevens, formerly of S Club 7 - she's the one who sang the excellent 'I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)' last year.

Anyway, you can find out the same vital information for your own edification at Everyhit. And for umpteen music-related anniversaries, try the trainspotterly-comprehensive but eminently browsable This Day In Music.

30 March 2006

Feel the mighty power of Steven Seagal... in a can!

Possibly the best review of an energy drink created by washed-up martial arts action star Steven Seagal that you'll EVER READ!

'I didn't know quite what I had just tasted, but my mind immediately painted a picture of someone going into a supermarket, opening every can in the canned fruit aisle, pouring all the various syrups into one 16-oz container, and hoping for the best. It was like an evil punch made from fruits that had no business ever knowing each other'

[Courtesy of Louwrens. I notice that the talented Mr Seagal is also listed as playing 'Cock Puncher' in the upcoming and as-yet-untitled movie by The Onion. Surely it will be the pinnacle of his acting career.]

The criteria for participation in motorbike racing

'We were advised to keep a special eye on Protasiewicz, who "really knows how to ride his motorbike". He has come to the right sport, then. Indeed, you don't need to watch an awful lot of speedway before it dawns on you with forceful clarity that people who don't really know how to ride a motorbike need not apply'

- Giles Smith reviews motorcycle racing, The Times, 30 March 2006

28 March 2006

So why didn't the Ghostbusters kill the Gremlins in '84?

Ever wondered what the history of the world would look like if everything that ever happened in the movies was true? Okay, so history would've been a little more focused on Alien vs Predator than you might have imagined.

[Courtesy of Louwrens. Incidentally, one IMDB user comment on Alien vs Predator says 'Brain cancer is preferable......Yes, give me brain parasites'. Must be a cracking good movie, then]

Tip for the price-conscious (but not style-conscious) man

'I certainly don't look a million dollars but do I look £30? From a distance, most blokes reckon it'll do. For a funeral of someone you didn't really like, for instance. Sharp-eyed girls are more fussy. The polyester fails any touch-test. No one will stroke me for fear of electrocution.

What else can I use it for? "It goes well with our £60 wedding dress," says the spokeswoman. I'll drink - a bottle of £2.98 Asda Cava Brut - to that'

- Patrick Barkham reviews the Asda £30 suit, made in Romania, China and Bangladesh. Guardian Weekly, 17 February 2006

[A bystander quips, 'you don't have to ever have them cleaned, you just throw them away'. Note for the price-conscious shopper: Asda also sell £3 jeans]

How to enliven a political interview

Interviewer: If you ever have to meet the Queen as Australian prime minister, I wonder if her background notes on you would include your reference to Tony Abbott and the Queen in June last year where you described Abbott as, "basically hanging out of the backside of the British monarch whenever he can". What is this obsession you have with bottoms?

Latham: I've no particular obsession with bottoms, it's a figure of speech ...

Interviewer: Howard the arse-licker and the brown nose kissing bums, as you put it, Abbott hanging out of the Queen's backside, the conga line of suckholes ...

Latham: Well, I think bum is a word that gets used a bit in this country.

- Former Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham, with Kerry O'Brien on The 7.30 Report in December 2003

26 March 2006

For the discerning rodent diner

Here's where you go if you're a hamster with a craving for Chinese food. Alarmingly cute, I'm afraid. But I'd like to see him use those chopsticks.

Hooray! Ham on a pole!


Early Settlers' Association
Grand Anniversary Day Celebrations
Re-Union of our Pioneers and Their Descendants,


1840 Sports Programme and Fair
10.30am to 5pm

Catching the Greasy Pig, Grinning through a Horse Collar, Bobbing for Apples, Ham on Pole, Quoits, Veterans' Race, Pillow Fighting on Pole, etc.



Maypole and Scotch Dancing, Punch and Judy, Baby Show, Aunt Sally, Fortune Telling, Amusing Side Shows, Children's Races.

Tea rooms and refreshment stalls in the grounds.

Surplus proceeds in aid of the fund for erecting a monument to our First Pioneers who landed at Petone in 1840.

Come and Spend the Day in Wellington's Finest Park. Excursion Fares on All Railways.

ADMISSION: Adults, 6d; Children Free"

- Advertising flyer at the Wellington Museum of City and Sea

23 March 2006

O wretched unbeliever, dost thou take the name of mighty Xenu in vain?

"I'm sure that [Tom Cruise-baiting South Park episode] Trapped in the Closet is wildly offensive. I certainly hope so, anyway. Because the one thing that Scientologists need more than anything else is ridicule. A religion founded by a science-fiction writer in the 1950s which invites its followers to believe in an inter-galactic tyrant called Xenu and offers them the chance to control time itself by becoming "Operating Thetans" deserves nothing less"

- Michael Gove MP, The Times, 22 March 2006

[Occasionally one forgets just how silly these celeb cult members are. L Ron Hubbard's Wikipedia biography is an interesting read, as is the one on Xenu, if you've got a few minutes]

Defying the laws of physics (and parking regulations too)

Devoted scanners of Google Earth have spotted two cars apparently flying through the air in Perth, reports the Sydney Morning Herald here and here... see for yourself. Sounds like an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard to me.

Perhaps French people are just really sarcastic

'Sir Mick Jagger fell in love with the French countryside and likes the fact that he can pass unrecognised there. He was reportedly asked by a chateau owner near his home outside Amboise, on the Loire: "So what do you do in life, young man?"'

- The Sunday Times, 19 March 2006

[Note: Mick Jagger is 62 years old]

An ideal solution to the perennial problem of 'leaves on the tracks'

The next saucer to Shoeburyness leaves from platform 5 ...
by Alok Jha

"We're getting there." That was the motto of British Rail in its 1980s heyday. But how they thought they might get there will come as a surprise to even diehard trainspotters: a decade earlier engineers had patented plans to transport passengers by nuclear-powered flying saucer, writes Alok Jha.

The plans for the space vehicle were discovered on the website of the European Patent Office by a student. "I thought it must be a joke at first," he said, electing to stay anonymous. "It's the sort of thing you only read about in science fiction books."

His discovery shows that in 1973 an inventor, Charles Osmond Frederick, patented the design for a craft powered by laser-controlled thermonuclear fusion. Designed to reach high speeds in space, it was meant to move us around the globe and even to other planets.

Unsurprisingly, space scientists have thrown cold water on the designs. Michel van Baal, of the European Space Agency, said the craft would need an "unbelievable amount of energy" to fly. "I have had a look at the plans, and they don't look very serious to me at all."

Unfortunately for Mr Frederick, the flying saucer idea never took off, and the patent has now lapsed.

- Guardian, 13 March 2006

A positive boon for cheque forgers everywhere

Author's invention reaches fans by remote control

LONDON, England (AP) -- Margaret Atwood has had enough of long journeys, late nights and writer's cramp. Tired of grueling book tours, the Booker Prize-winning Canadian author on Sunday unveiled her new invention: a remote-controlled pen that allows writers to sign books for fans from thousands of miles away. Some fear Atwood's LongPen could end the personal contact between writers and readers. Atwood says it will enhance the relationship.

"I think of this as a democratizing device," said Atwood, whose appearances draw hundreds of fans willing to stand in long lines for a word and an autograph.

"You cannot be in five countries at the same time. But you can be in five countries at the same time with the LongPen."

- Associated Press, 6 March 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Never managed to extract yourself from the heady reverie of all things 80s? Then you should check out the day-glo cornucopia of Fast Rewind, the repository of wisdom regarding 80s movies. Ideally suited for people who remember Under The Cherry Moon and Teen Wolf Too (for better or worse).

80s Movies Rewind

[Courtesy of KL]

17 March 2006

Jeff Polage: Unemployed Actor

Okay, so it's not a particularly sophisticated idea. But at least it saves you having to photograph an actor mate mimicking celebs in silly poses. Come to think of it, his portrayal of Jessica Simpson is actually better than Jessica Simpson's is.

Jeff Polage: Unemployed Actor

However, it's unlikely to be in contention for an Oscar

Samuel L admits: "I didn’t even read the script"

Okay, so we knew Samuel L Jackson was laid back but signing for a movie just ‘cos the title rocks? Insane surely? Going with his gut, Jackson only had to see the moniker for his upcoming palm-dampener Snakes On A Plane and that was it – pen hit paper.

“I didn't even read the script - I just saw the title, 'Snakes on a Plane' and said 'Okay, good. I'm there,'” the king of cool said.

“You have got to love that title, that's exactly what it is - 500 poisonous snakes released on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles. They are set free on a time release half-way there, so we can't go back, we've got to keep going. It's fun!”

Should we be surprised with Sam’s script selection methods? Consider the fact that since 1994's Pulp Fiction, Mr Jackson has made an average of one movie every 90 days, we’re shocked he even has time to read the titles.

- Totalfilm.com, 24 February 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Cruel and unusual punishment

Simon Power: Does the Minister believe that movies such as Getting Away with Murder, Interview with the Assassin, Wild Things 2, and Sex and Lucia, all rated R or R18, are suitable movies for prisoners to be watching; and what impact does he believe that watching such movies has on efforts put into prisoner rehabilitation and the maintenance of a just society?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not believe that those movies are appropriate. The policy in this area has been breached, and the staff have been told again that it is not acceptable. I would like the House to note that I understand there was also a very good turn-out for other movies, namely, Babe, The Brady Bunch Movie, and 101 Dalmatians.

Simon Power: Why, if the department knew in 2002 that prisoners were watching movies contrary to prison policy, are prisoners still watching hundreds of movies that they are not permitted to-movies that show hard-core violence, drug abuse, and jailbreaks; and what will the Minister do to ensure that it does not happen again, other than wring his hands in 4 years' time?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am not aware that Babe, The Brady Bunch Movie, or 101 Dalmatians have violence or any other sordid details in them.

- Hansard, 28 Feb 2006

Refreshing honesty from a politician

"I am a reformed smoker, and some would say a bit of a pious and pompous prick about it as well"

- Hone Harawira MP, Budget policy debate, Hansard, 1 March 2006

Council repair crew takes eight decades to fix city fountain

Coronation Fountain Flowing Again

Water is flowing from Palmerston North's historic coronation fountain for the first time in 80 years. The 8m-high fountain was built in 1902 to mark the coronation of King Edward VII and the 25th anniversary of the Palmerston North borough. It was moved across the square early last year and restoration began three months ago.

Council spokesperson John Brenkley says he believes the fountain hasn't had water flowing through it since the 1920s. The water was turned on at a ceremony today by Palmerston North Mayor Heather Tanguay.

- Newsroom, 22 February 2006

Another attempt to corner the pig manure market fails miserably

German village flooded by liquid pig manure

BERLIN - A Bavarian village was flooded by liquid pig manure after a tank containing the fertiliser burst, German police said on Wednesday. Sewage rose to 50 cm (19.69 inches) in the courtyards and streets of Elsa after gushing from the tank, which held some 240,000 litres (52,800 Imp gallons) of pig manure.

"The village was swamped with green-brown liquid and it was pig manure -- the mother-of-all muck," said Rainer Prediger, a police spokesman in the nearby town of Coburg. Police estimated the pig waste had caused at least 100,000 euros ($119,000) worth of damage.

- Reuters, 22 February 2006

16 March 2006

Wow, it's like, wow, y'know?

'It's, like, absolutely amazing, like, all the things and all that and New Zealand's got a really team spirit, like, in our own area, which is nice'

Team spirit in young and old

- Rhythmic gymnast Teegan Metcalfe, 14, the youngest NZ competitor at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Dominion Post, 16 March 2006

So when brown stuff comes out of your kitchen taps, you taste it?

'Creative plumbing' delivers beer

A woman said she thought she was in heaven when she turned on the kitchen tap to find a plentiful supply of beer. Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway. But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps. A worker had connected a beer barrel to the apartment water pipe by mistake.

"I turned on the tap to clean some knives and forks, and beer came out," Ms Gundersen told Reuters news agency. "We thought we were in heaven." But the beer was flat and tasted odd, she said.

- BBC News, 13 March 2006

Doesn't Australia have a law against blasphemy?

The Aussies take notice of the ever-talented vocal stylings of New Zealand's very own singing sensation, Wing. She's covered AC/DC, bless her.

Hells Bells, it's a one-woman Kiwi-Chinese cover band

- SMH.com.au, 7 March 2006

11 March 2006

A voting slip big enough to keep you warm at night

The voting slip bigger than The Times
From Martin Penner, for The Times in Rome

Italians go to the polls next month faced with voting slips measuring up to 1.5m across.

Standing proud at an average width of 65cm, the voting cards will be broader than an open copy of The Times and only slightly less high. Giuseppe Pisanu, the Interior Minister, admitted that in areas where many parties are standing they could reach 1½.

"I know some people have been ironic about this but I would like to point out that in the United States they are even longer," he said at a presentation press conference, emphasising that the size was the result of a new electoral law.

"It’s like a bed sheet," opposition leader Romano Prodi said as he unfurled a facsimile of the new card on television this week.

- The Times, 10 March 2006

09 March 2006

And you think YOU need a drink?

'The best drink of my life was the wine I gulped up from a roadside puddle in Crete. The wine was squirting from a bullet hole which had punctured a pigskin full of wine, on a dead donkey lying alongside a dead Cretan where I too was lying wounded while being shot at from a German machine gun'

- LtCol (Retd) Haddon Donald, Letter to Army News, 7 March 2006

How many countries have you visited?

I've linked to this before, but it cropped up in conversation at work this week, so I thought it'd be worth a repeat. Just click the boxes for each country you've visited, and it'll generate a nice map for you. I've only managed 23 so far - here's my map.

Visited countries map

Google's plans for New Zealand

A glimpse of a Google whiteboard brainstorming session reveals the fate of our little nation at the hands of the internet megacorporation... (see bottom right)

Google whiteboard

[Courtesy of Alpen]

07 March 2006

Um, now that you mention it...

"You might remember me ... I was captain of England when they were crap."

- Cricinfo reports on former England captain Nasser Hussain's opening line at the British Asian awards

04 March 2006

The majesty of the democratic process in Massachusetts

The General Laws of Massachusetts



Chapter 2: Section 28. Muffin of commonwealth
Section 28. The corn muffin shall be the official muffin of the commonwealth.

Chapter 2: Section 30. Cat of commonwealth
Section 30. The Tabby cat shall be the official cat of the commonwealth.

Chapter 2: Section 33. Soil of commonwealth
Section 33. The Paxton Soil Series shall be the official soil of the commonwealth.

Chapter 2: Section 38. Bean of commonwealth
Section 38. The baked navy bean shall be the official bean of the commonwealth...


[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Now that's hospitality

A nice story, this: refugees from the Congo arrive in Palmerston North - and are greeted at the airport by the mayor. Ah. Warms the heart, it does.

Refugees promise hard work and pride

- Manawatu Standard, 3 March 2006

Yeah, it's always good to consult the experts

Beckham baffled by son's homework

LONDON: Superstar David Beckham, whose mental agility has been questioned before in the media, has said his six-year-old son's maths homework leaves him baffled.

The England captain and Real Madrid midfielder was forced to call on his wife Victoria, a former member of the Spice Girls pop group, to help their son Brooklyn with a school assignment because the footballer found the sums too difficult.

"Their homework is so hard these days," Beckham, 30, said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.

"It's totally done differently to what I was teached when I was at school, and you know I was like 'Oh my God, I can't do this'."

Multi-millionaire Beckham, who has become regular tabloid fare because of his dress sense and hairstyles, said after failing in mathematics he offered to read a book with Brooklyn instead.

- Reuters, 1 March 2006

A lesson in cohabitation

Owen and Mzee are a couple of pals who flat together: a hippo and tortoise who live in Mombasa, Kenya. Cute.

Owen and Mzee

How to meet people on the Metro

'When I boarded Metro one afternoon, a woman about 35 was turned in her seat talking to an older man about three empty rows down from her. Across from the woman was a boy, about 18, wearing a Georgetown University sweat shirt. The older man and woman were talking about sex. As she gathered her luggage to leave the train, she jotted something down on a notepad. She folded it, and held it in her hand and stood by her seat as the train slowed on its approach into the station.

"Metro Center. Doors opening on the right."

"Listen," she said loudly, turning to face the man directly. "I know about these things. I helped compile research on men's and women's orgasms. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about."

"Okay, okay, okay," the man said.

"Doors opening."

She walked toward the door to leave the train, casually handed the folded note to the startled boy and continued out the train door. He unfolded the note and read it. Refolding it, he looked straight ahead for a second or two before he bolted from his seat and ran out the door behind her.

"Doors closing."'

- A Washington Post reader recalls an episode from commuter-land, 26 February 2006