28 October 2006

Normal service will resume...

...in a wee bit. Away in Australia until 20 November, to be precise.

27 October 2006


"My response to hearty strangers who ask me, 'How are you?' was to reply, 'No worse.' This has a suitably disconcerting effect. Now in my nineties, I say, almost certainly correctly, 'Probably worse.' My Uncle, late Bishop of Ely, used to reply, 'What business is it of yours?' But he was in a position to do so."

- Letter from Wing Commander Tom Hudson to The Times Modern Manners, 23 October 2006, in response to a discussion on the greeting, 'Howdydoo?'

What they didn't say

A new book is reviewing the history of the misquote, from Sherlock Holmes, Spock from Star Trek, Prince Charles and many others. For instance, I bet you didn't know that "Elementary, my dear Watson" came from Wodehouse rather than Doyle! Read on via the link below...

- Guardian, 25 October 2006

Haven't they heard of Lonely Planet?

'Around a dozen Japanese tourists a year need psychological treatment after visiting Paris as the reality of unfriendly locals and scruffy streets clashes with their expectations, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

"A third of patients get better immediately, a third suffer relapses and the rest have psychoses," Yousef Mahmoudia, a psychologist at the Hotel-Dieu hospital, next to Notre Dame cathedral, told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche'

- Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 2006

I was worth that $800,000, says Judy Bailey

Just think - if you had that much money, you could buy 133,000 Lotto lucky dip tickets...

- NZ Herald, 28 October 2006

Whitney Music Box

An excellent musical toy to play with - these mathematical spirals have a weird tonal symmetry to them, as they spin and create a fascinating horror-movie score as they go. There are 17 different versions - try them out using the links on the right hand side.

whitney music box var. 0 - chromatic - 48 tines

[Courtesy of B3ta]

25 October 2006

Your life cannot be complete without these products

The very best of those as-seen-on-TV products that you really really needed are wrapped up here with screen-captures and video links. Special mention must go to the monumentally ugly 'slim jeans', which look like an astronaut's nightmare.

X-Entertainment: As Seen On TV!

[Courtesy of Turbo]

24 October 2006

WW1 Colour Photos

The humanity of World War I has always seemed to be lessened by the limitations of black-and-white photography, which makes it harder to visualise the subjects as real people. But this site has documented the superb French colour photography from WW1, which provides an amazing glimpse into the last years of the war.

World War One Color Photos - Color Photos from World War I

[Courtesy of Al]

16 October 2006

Nick Cave sells out! (Well, almost)

From a discussion led by Jarvis Cocker in the Observer Music Monthly:

Nick Cave: Iggy Pop's 'Lust For Life' was used for a car ad. I used to drive around in my car when I was 19 screaming that song, and it had an anti-establishment purpose. For it now to be appropriated by the advertising industry ... I think that's f--ked. I don't know what situation the people who have written the music are in, if they need the money or ... I'm not trying to take the moral high ground but I wouldn't allow my music to be used in that way.

Jarvis Cocker: Do you get offers?

Nick Cave: Often. There's a song called 'Red Right Hand', and a sanitary napkin company back in New Zealand wanted to use it, which was tempting ... but that was the closest I've ever come. You do get an enormous amount of money waved in front of you, more money than you make anywhere else in the industry, and all you have to do is say yes ...

- Observer, 15 October 2006

[Jarvis has a new album out in the UK on 13 November - o happy day!]

14 October 2006

Clean, cheap and dainty

Under New Management. Wanted Known - We have opened the most up-to-date Luncheon and Tea Rooms in Courtenay-place. Early Breakfast 1s 3d, Morning Tea 9d, Hot Lunches 1s 3d, Afternoon Tea 9d, Hot Tea 1s 3d, Late Teas 9d, and Dainty Specialty Suppers 1s 6d. Cleanest and Cheapest Meals in the Dominion. The Club Tea Rooms, 125, Courtenay-place.

- Advertisement, Evening Post, 3 March 1920. Source: NZHistory.net.nz

13 October 2006

"A coup is not entertaining"

Thai coup leaders have banned go-go girls from dancing near tanks and troops on Bangkok streets as a distraction from the serious business of power, a spokesman said on Wednesday. "It is not appropriate to entertain soldiers while they are on duty," Colonel Acra Tiprote told Reuters after a troupe of 10 women in tight camouflage vests and shorts posed with soldiers and tanks while making a music video.

"People should differentiate between entertainment and seriousness. A coup is not entertaining," Acra said.

- TVNZ, 13 October 2006

[Courtesy of Gabrielle]

A Brief History Of The Middle East

Spare Room has a link to an excellent 90-second animation showing the multitude of empires that have carved up the Middle East over the last 5000 years. Definitely worth a look.

Spare Room » Blog Archive » A Brief History Of The Middle East

12 October 2006

Spice Test

If you can watch videos, you might like to watch this diligent young Norwegian chap who swallows spoonfuls of spices from his mum's kitchen, and reviews the results. His enthusiasm is surpassed only by his lack of self-preservation instincts. Lucky he saved the chilli powder for last, then. (4:39 long)

YouTube - Spice test

10 October 2006

...or are you just pleased to see me?

"I've got monkeys in my pants"

- Robert Cusack, smuggler of endangered animals, on being asked if he had anything to declare. Cusack had flea-scratching pygmy monkeys in his underwear [Los Angeles Times, 19 Sept, reported in New Scientist, 23 Sept]

06 October 2006

Line Rider

Very cool flash game - draw your own slope and then see if your brave tobogganist can survive it. Quite addictive...

Line Rider

05 October 2006

Dophins = insincere sods

'New evidence from unmanned underwater cameras has proved that dolphins are only pretending to be friendly to humans and that the moment that our backs are turned, a sour and indignant expression returns to their faces'

NewsBiscuit: Dolphins ‘stop smiling the moment our back is turned’

[I always thought that Flipper looked shifty]

Sounds like a pretty impressive stick

'The absence of trees and the presence of fog explain why noises sound so strange here. There is not the slightest rustle on this bare plateau, nothing but voices. Is it the wind or my companions? The invisible voices murmur above me like the spirits of the air. I can make out a dark shape. It's Captain Couesnon waving his stick at me. He looks like the archangel brandishing the flaming sword at the outcasts of the Garden of Eden'

- Jean-Paul Kauffmann, 'The Arch of Kerguelen', 1993 (English translation 2000)

Gone in 120 seconds

Excellent time-lapse film of the entire train journey from London to Brighton, compressed into two minutes.

YouTube - London to Brighton time lapse

[Courtesy of B3ta]

Keep your belly-button to yourself, ma'am

Two female cheerleader coaches in Maryland were taking a class of 7 and 8 year-olds, and when the students looked glum, the coaches decided to make them laugh by drawing a smiley-face on one of the coaches' belly-buttons. The girls thought it was hilarious; but when the organiser found out, the coaches were fired...

- Frederick News-Post, 3 October 2006

Little Superstar

This is the funkiest little Indian breakdancer you'll ever see. Now why wasn't there some of this in LOTR, I ask you?

YouTube - Little Superstar

[For more clips, search Youtube for 'little superstar']

I see drunk people!

Haley Joel Osment should've got himself a haircut before posing for this picture. But I suppose few of us expect to be charged with drunk driving and marijuana possession after crashing our cars. He looks cheery enough!

Mug Shot: Haley Joel Osment

Super Size Mini-Me

This is the tiniest burger combo you've ever seen - an experiment in micro-cuisine.

A Bite to Eat!

I believe I can fly...

If only this was available for Christmas! A chap has put together a remote-controlled plane with a virtual-reality controlled camera linked back to a headset. An expensive way to simulate being a seagull, but undoubtedly cool.

Coolest Toy Ever

[It's a 5 minute video feed, but you only need to watch a minute or so to get the drift]

Virtual bubble wrap

A good old favourite.

Virtual bubble wrap

[Courtesy of Helen]

The artistic opportunities of carpet fluff

Lynn Barber discusses the unearthly struggle of being a judge for the 2006 Turner Prize:

I did once see Keanu Reeves in Vyner Street admiring an artwork in the Modern Art gallery, a blue, plastic rectangle, I seem to recall, that looked like a Formica offcut and cost 20 grand. Reeves described it as 'almost Kleinian', which is artspeak for blue.


I remember coming home from the Baltic in Newcastle and telling my daughter: 'I saw some exciting sculpture made of carpet fluff!' She stared at me. 'What was exciting about it?' 'Well, it was a room with a fitted carpet,' I blathered, 'and the artist had scraped some of the carpet fluff into little piles to look like things.'

I showed her the catalogue entry: 'Tonica Lemos Auad, Brazilian artist born 1968, working in London. Auad's carpet installations begin by the artist's delicate gathering and repositioning of minute strands of fluff, teased patiently from newly laid carpet... Auad sees these works as three-dimensional, site-specific drawings that create a space in which the viewer can enter and engage with the settings.' My daughter sniggered: 'So could you engage by hoovering it up?' Some people are such philistines.

- Observer, 1 October 2006

An important distinction

The accused in this case is quite keen to set the record straight - and the article title says it all, really. Warning: this article may put you off illicit substances...

Drugs carried in pants - not buttocks, dealer insists

- Hawkes Bay Today, 4 October 2006

Please Don't Wear This Jacket in Minnesota

Seinfeld viewers may remember that Elaine worked for J Peterman? Anyway, it's a real catalogue, and the quirky product descriptions are definitely worth examining. Whether you'll be able to afford the products is another matter altogether, though. Check out the Cavalry Jacket entry:

Some people say he was a hero. Others call him a reckless glory-hunter. One thing we can all agree on in our ignorance of certain facts is that he must have looked dashing in his fringed jacket, scanning the long buffalo grass through his binoculars and concluding that there were no Indian ponies there, it was only the wind moving the grass...

Or the Handsome Thug Cap:

Authors and inventors and fliers and steel magnates and journalists and suffragettes and ambulance drivers and private detectives and nightclub bouncers and newsboys and movie directors and handsome thugs wore it. Your grandfather wore it. Gable himself wore it. Immigrants wore it. It was what America wore. What happened? The trouble started. That’s what happened. Do your part. It’s time. Wear one. (It makes anyone who wears one look tall; if you’re already tall, too bad. You’re going to look even taller. It also makes you look young and snappy as well. So get ready for that, too.)

Or the ladies' Velvet Cutaway Jacket, which is subtitled "Please Don't Wear This Jacket in Minnesota":

The bold color. The military flair. You can almost hear Ravel’s Bolero in the background. This splendid jacket is sure to command attention…which can cause problems in The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Because at least one city there has now enacted an Anti-Staring Ordinance. (Does anybody remember anymore that the collapse of the Roman Empire was due to a surfeit of paralyzing rules and regulations? Attila just knocked at the gate.)

For more about J Peterman, see this article.

[Courtesy of Louwrens, who definitely knows about Seinfeld]

Who ate all the pies?

I have it on good authority that this gentleman is actually an Albanian special forces policeman. Global security is safe in his hands, as long as it doesn't require any running or jumping.

[Courtesy of PS]

04 October 2006

Sing it, Bessie

Just superb... this blues blog has linked to the only film appearance of blues legend Bessie Smith, filmed in 1929. Think of it as a b/w music video and you're on the right track.

In 1929, she appeared in a Broadway flop called Pansy, a musical in which, the top white critics agreed, she was the only asset. That same year, she made her only film appearance, starring in a two-reeler based on W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." In the film, which was shot in Astoria, NY, she sings the title song accompanied by members of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, the Hall Johnson Choir, pianist James P. Johnson, and a string section — a musical environment radically different from any found on her recordings. - - Wikipedia

Great singing, snappy dancing by the cad in the middle section, and some excellent plate-spinning action too...

Honey, Where You Been So Long? » St. Louis Blues

Clutching at straws on a slow news day

In the wake of the media swarm that descended on Namibia after the birth of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's kid in Namibia, the Southland Times breathlessly reports that 'Venture [Southland] board member Wayne Affleck seized on ... new opportunities for Southland: "So what you're recommending is that we invite pregnant celebrities to Southland to give birth. Why not?"'

And while you're at it, why not arrange the Second Coming in Invercargill?

- Southland Times, 3 October 2006

The wit and wisdom (ahem) of Borat

Soon you will be able to learn all you ever wanted to know about Kazakhstan when Sacha Baron-Cohen's movie, Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, comes to a cinema near you. Until then, perhaps some of his collected wisdom will assist your quest for learning.

Borat on sexual equality
In Kazakhstan we say: “God, man, horse, dog, then woman, then rat”

On leisure
In Kazhakstan we have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape and table tennis

On civil rights
Since the 2003 Tulyakov reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world. Women can now travel inside of bus. Homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats. And age of consent has been raised to 8 years old

On democracy
Democracy is different in America. For example: women CAN vote but horse can not!

On England
Every Englishman must have a hobby. Some like to collect the stamp, some like to make the jam, but the most fun is to a kill a little animal with a shotgun or rip them up with wild dog

On Canadian diplomatic etiquette
It also tradition in my country for wife of the Premier to give visiting dignitaries hand relief and mouth party if they royalty

- The Times, 30 September 2006

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood

Abstract: 'Somewhere at the top of the Hundred Acre Wood a little boy and his bear play. On the surface it is an innocent world, but on closer examination by our group of experts we find a forest where neurodevelopmental and psychosocial problems go unrecognized and untreated'

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne

- Canadian Medical Association Journal, 12 December 2000
[Courtesy of Louwrens]

You could always blindfold them

"It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith... when children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes"

- Bishop Boniface Adoyo of Kenya, who is leading a campaign to have human fossil remains removed from the National Museum of Kenya [Observer, 10 Sept, reported in New Scientist, 16 Sept]