30 August 2006

Not the sort of low blow he expected

Oh dear. A man shoplifted... um, an apparatus... from a sex shop in Wellington, and now the shop owner has taped a security camera photo of the alleged offender in the front window, with the message, "When will he pay for the [intimate apparatus] he stole?".

- Dominion Post, 30 August 2006

29 August 2006

Creative lyrical interpretation

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them burning and then you’re gone
- 'Dancing Queen', Abba, 1976

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them bumming and then you’re gone
- 'Dancing Queen', Korean karaoke translation, 2006

28 August 2006

The most dedicated souvenir-hunter ever

'The body [of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, who died in 1552] was still fresh, the cheeks still pink, when the coffin was opened on its arrival in Goa to be deposited in the Jesuit college of St Paul. Once a year thereafter the body was exposed, a large number of people being allowed to approach and kiss the feet. On the first occasion one pilgrim, Isabel de Carom, bit off a toe and carried it away in her mouth'

- Michael Edwardes, 'Ralph Fitch, Elizabethan in the Indies', London, 1972. For more on Fitch, one of the first Englishmen to travel in South Asia, see here, and this article has some quotes from his writing]

24 August 2006

Don't be alarmed, but you're all going to die

Maybe it was a good idea to hold the conference in safe, flat Christchurch? Y'know, the Natural Hazards Management Conference. The one hyped frenetically by the Rotorua local paper in a subtly-titled article, 'Quake coming, experts warn: Doom for Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane?' The journo revels in the opportunity to scare the bejeezus out of its readers:

Geology experts Tim Davies and Mauri McSaveney have predicted that an alpine fault earthquake is overdue, and would result in the East Cape ripping away from New Zealand, destroying the plateau that Rotorua is based on and taking Taupo and Whakatane with it.

The pair say the earthquake will strike "out of the blue" and cause widespread death, shut down power generators, create tsunamis within New Zealand and overwhelm emergency services.

"The most likely time [for the quake] is now. The next most likely time for it to happen is tomorrow," Associate Professor Davies, of Canterbury University, told the conference.

- Rotorua Daily Post, 24 August 2006

Guaranteed not to include exclamation marks

Once a staple source for the days-of-yore Word-document style Very Friday Email, the very excellent Dull Men's Club is still a bastion of nerdly pottering chap pursuits on the internet, and is still worth perusing.

Decked out in a stylish (and unexciting) dull grey colour-scheme, the DMC links to marvellous (yet resolutely unexciting) features like probably the world's largest list of airport baggage carousels (and whether they rotate clockwise or anticlockwise); a webcam inexplicably pointing at an extremely dull bus-stop in the Algarve at which no human being ever seems to wait; a history of folding chairs; and people who collect disused supermarket shopping lists left in shopping trolleys. Hours of entertainment for the dull or would-be dull [exclamation mark removed to avoid undullness].

[Courtesy of Felix]

Heart disease is pretty liberating, I guess

Sadly, the cafeterias in the US House of Representatives no longer offer 'Freedom fries' instead of French fries. A generation of satirists is thereby deprived of a mile-wide target for lampooning US foreign policy.

At the time, [Republican representative Bob] Ney, who together with Walter Jones pushed for "freedom fries", said the action was "a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France".

- Source: BBC News, 2 August 2006

The gastronomic equivalent of being punched in the gut by a mugger

"We're satisfying the serious meat lovers by leaving off the produce and letting them decide exactly how much meat and cheese they can handle," said Denny Marie Post, Burger King's chief concept officer, and a figure of some notoriety on the frontiers of fast-food science. I certainly discovered my own limits. Eating a BK Stacker Quad is the gastronomic equivalent of being punched in the gut by a mugger, except that instead of having all my money stolen, I was relieved of only $6.99, medium fries and soda included.

- Oliver Burkeman reports on the new BK Stacker Quad burger, Guardian, 23 August 2006

17 August 2006

There are no pictures of Maria Sharapova in this posting

'Maria Sharapova was outed as a philatelist last week. 'Oh, god, stop. Everyone's calling me a dork now,' the 2004 Wimbledon champion squealed. 'We're getting emails from, like, stamp collecting magazines asking if I can do an interview. I mean, it's just a hobby. I'm actually good at telling stories, but that is one I should never have talked about. Oh, my goodness. Let's get off this subject, becauseI'm going to be an absolute geek tomorrow'

Ah, the joys of Wimbledon. Pimm's, strawberries and cream, Maria Sharapova licking the back of your head...'

- Guardian Weekly, 7 July 2006

How women won the sex war

'Technology and globalisation are undermining the usefulness of male skills. Take map-reading. The female tendency to call for five right turns while holding the map upside down, playing "I spy" with the children and remarking on interesting features of the local half-timbering has been attested to over many decades by impartial scientists as well as by irritated husbands. But once satellite navigation rendered the ability to tell the cartographic difference between a car park and a lake redundant, that aspect of male superiority disappeared out of the window, along with the crucial pages of the road atlas that the toddler removed while practising his superior hand-eye coordination skills.


Not surprisingly, on average men were physically more aggressive. But in this case other work shows the danger of jumping too rapidly to a conclusion. A study done in 1994 hints that if women think that nobody is watching and judging them, and there are no physical consequences, they might be more aggressive than men'

- The Economist, 5 August 2006

From penthouse to pavement

Seems the biggest issue confronting Aucklanders at the moment isn't domestic violence, traffic congestion or the endless winter rain. No, it's whether footpaths should be black or red. Nice to keep a sense of perspective, isn't it?

- NZ Herald, 15 August 2006

[Courtesy of Mrs G. And by the way, 'Penthouse and Pavement' was the title of Heaven 17's first album... as if you needed to ask...]

10 August 2006

What Lindsay really meant

According to the Washington Post, here's what Lindsay Lohan really meant when she said she wanted to travel to the Middle East with Hillary Clinton and entertain the troops in Iraq.

"It's so amazing seeing that one woman [Marilyn Monroe, who performed for troops in Korea in 1954] just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be," Lohan tells the magazine, adding that she would prepare for her trip to Iraq by taking shooting lessons with her security guard.

"Cuz Marilyn was also able to wear pretty clothes while metabolizing pretty heavy doses of booze and stuff. I think the perfect thing to add to that mix would be a gun. I'm sure there would be no problem with someone of my obvious talent and steady nerves carrying a gun around a U.S. Senator."

You'll need more than an umbrella

Hong Kong's culture of defenestration

“New York rain” is the local term for water that drips, annoyingly, from air-conditioners onto passers-by. In Hong Kong unwary pedestrians face more dangerous precipitation. On July 22nd a 78-year-old woman was rushed to hospital after a pair of scissors, hurled from a multi-storey building, lodged in her skull. The same day, a 28-year-old man in another part of the city suffered cuts after another pair of scissors hit him on the head, while a boy survived a brush with an iron bar lobbed from yet another high-rise window.

Despite all the modern sanitation at their disposal, many Hong Kong citizens still seem to prefer chucking rubbish out of the nearest window. As any housing estate resident will confirm, as well as a regular rain of beer cans and cigarette butts, other objects—used packets of Viagra, dirty cat litter, glass bottles, mattresses and even refrigerators—also fly past the window. Much of this is plain bad manners. But some also blame rising inequality for the downpour, which appears to be getting worse. Much of the object-throwing takes place in the city's public housing estates, where many of Hong Kong's poorer people live cramped together in tiny apartments. Many of their shoddily constructed buildings are crumbling: among the most common objects falling out of windows last summer were the windows themselves. As a result, the government had to spend HK$68m ($9m) on emergency maintenance of its housing.

Though the economy's recovery since the panic over the respiratory disease SARS in 2003 has lifted living standards, the fortunes of workers have lagged behind those of the middle classes. If people cannot heave their political masters out of office, they can at least heave a broken television out of the window. Given the mainland's far greater economic and social disparities, the authorities in Beijing must be hoping that this is one trend that does not spread north.

- Economist, 3 August 2006

Small but perfectly formed?

Outrage Over Burstyn's 15-Second Emmy Nomination

Ellen Burstyn's nomination for a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award is being ridiculed by the US media, because the Oscar winner appears in Mrs. Harris for a mere 15 seconds. The HBO drama stars Sir Ben Kingsley as Dr. Herman Tarnower - the man who invented the Scarsdale diet - and Annette Bening as Jean Harris, the woman who murdered him. Burstyn appears in a flashback sequence, and her character is listed on the Internet Movie Database as "Ex-Lover Number Three."

The New York Post writes the 73-year-old's performance "required her to do nothing more than sit in a chair and speak three sentences of dialogue in a vaguely foreign accent." The newspaper claims Burstyn's nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie category is indicative of the "deeply flawed process" leading to the nominations. Winners will be announced in Los Angeles on August 27.

- IMDB.com, 9 August 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

08 August 2006

The sting is in the tail

Ian - Home At Last

Press Release by Green Party at 1:57 PM, 05 Aug 2006

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons wishes Ian Ewen-Street well in his newly chosen home, the National Party.

"I'm not surprised by his choice. Ian was increasingly at odds with our caucus over recent years. He wanted to support National Party legislation, and their moves in select committee to water down environmental initiatives. He also wanted to support Labour's legislation on the Foreshore and Seabed,and was uncomfortable with the Greens' commitment to the Treaty.

"I do wonder how he will get on with the National Party's endorsement of genetic engineering, an issue he did care deeply about, and with their denial of climate change.

"MPs sometimes do change their political affiliation. We wish him all the best, and hope he can find some issues in the National Party that he wants to work hard on."



Someone took the Levi's ad rather too seriously

A Christchurch man has pleaded guilty to charges including an incident in which he:

...stripped in front of several adults and two young children in a central Christchurch laundrette on Friday, July 21. He took off all his clothes and placed them in a washing machine and then got other clothes out of his backpack and put them on. When the police arrived he was drinking a bottle of beer.

The story has already reached Australia, although as you'll notice the reporting isn't particularly distinctive.

- NZPA, 8 August 2006

A profound need to be spanked

"It's beyond Freudian, it's the American founding myth - the rebellious child who needs to be punished. Deep down - actually, maybe not that deep - most Americans have a profound need to be spanked by someone by a British accent'

- 'Cultural commentator' Tom Cowell, an Englishman living in Philadelphia, on the US's penchant for UK reality TV and Simon Cowell (Guardian Weekly, 28 July 2006)

[If you were wondering, Tom and Simon aren't related]

03 August 2006

Weebl & Bob are cold

Weebl and Bob have been feeling the heat, what with Blighty all crispy and sun-baked. So Weebl's taken matters into his own hands (although strictly speaking, he doesn't have any) and bought himself the world's biggest air-conditioner...

- Weebl & Bob: Cold

We've had it wrong all along

Turns out everyone's been pronouncing 'Gisborne' incorrectly . Obviously the vast majority of us haven't lost much sleep over it.

Source: Gisborne Herald, 3 August 2006

[Have a look at NIWA's Gisborne webcam if you feel like some Poverty Bay surf]

The 86 Rules of Boozing

Including all-time classics like:

- Unacceptable things to say after doing a shot: "Great, now I’m going to get drunk"

- If you owe someone twenty dollars or less, you may pay them back in beer.

- Your songs will come on as you're leaving the bar.

- Screaming, “Someone buy me a drink!” has never worked.

- Asking a bartender what beers are on tap when the handles are right in front of you is the equivalent of saying, “I'm an idiot.”

All this and more at:

Modern Drunkard Magazine - The 86 Rules of Boozing

I can think of other writers who probably shouldn't write either

“The Tintin books announce themselves on their front covers as ‘adventures’. This, plus their action-packed nature, might suggest that they are dominated by what Roland Barthes calls the ‘proairetic code’ – that is, the code of action. But, in fact, another code is equally, if not more, dominant: the code Barthes calls the ‘herme-neutic’.

What does the hermeneutic do? It is made up, Barthes tells us, of all the aspects of a text that ‘constitute an enigma and lead to its solution’… Tintin, means literally, ‘nothing’. His face, round as an O with two pinpricks for eyes, is what Herge himself described as ‘the degree zero of typeage’ – a typographic vanishing point.

Tintin is also the degree zero of personage. He has no past, no sexual identity, no complexities. Like Cocteau’s Orphee, who spends much of the film in the negative space or dead world on the far side of the mirror, he is a writer who does not write. ”

- Tom McCarthy, ‘Tintin and the Secret of Literature', Guardian (via Private Eye)

'Hopefully, it's a grounded spoiled'

The parents of wannabe singer-actor-celebrity Marissa Leigh, 16, of Scottsdale, Arizona, employ 10 people for her career development, according to an April Arizona Republic story, including manager; publicist; voice coach; two acting coaches; people to do makeup, hair and wardrobe; musical composer; photographer; and webmaster (plus, of course, an entourage of confidence-boosting friends).

"She's spoiled," said her mother, "but hopefully, it's a grounded spoiled." However, on her national TV debut, on MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" (a party which her parents spent $150,000 to stage), she was caught saying "I'm a princess" and "I'm such a rock star that I can do this" and "I always get exactly what I want."

Even after MTV cut the two songs she sang, she was optimistic: "(This show)'ll still put my name out there and stuff."

Source: Arizona Republic, 26 April 2006, via NewsOfTheWeird

[Marissa's website says she took the role of Helen Keller in a play, aged 7! Future Oscar-winner too, no doubt]

Yup, that's a really big pit

Goodness me, the Russians are just taking over the internet lately! Here's a site with pictures of an absolutely huge open-cast mine pit near Mirny. And when they say huge, they mean huge. It's, like, visible from space and stuff. And they've got the pictures to prove it.

Source: Popbitch

'All I need is a miracle...'

Town council douses miracle fountain

PILGRIMS who queued to drink from a miracle fountain flowing from a statue of the late pope John Paul II were disappointed to hear it is just a council-installed water pipe. Locals in the pope's birthplace of Wadowice, near Krakow, thought a miracle had happened when water started to run from the base of his statue.

Word spread throughout Poland and pilgrims from around the country visited to fill bottles with the "holy" water. However, Mayor Eva Filipiak dashed their illusions by admitting a water pipe had been installed under the statue.

"We didn't mean anything by it, it was just supposed to make the statue look prettier," she said.

- The Australian, 31 July 2006

The Magnificent Moscow Underground

Have a gander at these splendid panoramic photos of the Moscow Underground. An ideal venue for your next cocktail party, as long as everyone's got their tiaras and silver-topped walking canes handy.

Hole in one!

Okay, it doesn't sound like much - but these kids are bloody talented at chucking empty cans into far-distant rubbish bins whilst looking the other way, walking into the distance, carrying on conversations... all scored with an 80s-style techno beat. Who'd've thought litter disposal could be so cool...?

Videofeber: Kan du traffa papperskorgen?

Pretty in pink

I think it was all that black armour that made Darth Vader so mean-looking. Someone has obviously given Darth a wardrobe makeover. A little heavy on the Hello Kitty motif, perhaps.

Taking a sudden interest in archery

Ana Samways points out the differences between the UK and US promo pics of Keira for that rather footling King Arthur movie. Seems like there's been a bit of flesh rearrangement going on there - her stomach appears to have moved to her chest. Fancy that.

Source: Spare Room, 25 July 2006

[Actually I can confess a prior interest in archery - a temporary affliction due to the coolness (at the time) of Robin of Sherwood]

02 August 2006

Scarlett doesn't get out of bed for less than $18k

Does that title make any sense? Anyway, it seems Scarlett was briefly considering taking a role in a Lloyd-Webber musical on the West End stage. The Sound of Music, actually. And 'her people' were asking $18,000 per week, plus two backstage assistants at all times. Back in the day, wasn't it $10,000 that one required before one got out of bed in the morning? Of course, the article points out that you'd be getting Scarlett for a bargain at $18k a week. For a song, even.

Source: AP, 27 July 2006

The Governor-General, on receiving the Queen's Service Order (again)

'The opportunity to be Governor-General of this country carries many responsibilities, but it is also one of great privilege. I thank the people of New Zealand for their willingness to allow me to hold this role.

Prime Minister, on behalf also of Peter [Cartwright], may I thank the government for its advice to Her Majesty, which has resulted in the signal honour of each of us being made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order. I must admit that I am relieved to receive this honour. During my first days at Government House, I found a QSO on my dressing table and, as I did not recall receiving it at any point, asked where it had come from. I was told 'I think you will find, your Excellency, that this is yours.' Well I never wore it, as I was terrified that someone would say 'where did you get that from?' These fears were justified when, just a few days ago, the Head of the Honours Secretariat came to the House and removed it. I felt vaguely as if I was being cashiered, but no doubt some day the mystery will be explained'

- Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor-General of New Zealand, at her State Farewell, 2 August 2006

Could you spell it out more bluntly, please?

'Japanese people simply aren't having sex'

- Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, quoted in Japan Times, 22 June 2006