29 December 2008

So I still get paid, right?

A footballer playing for English minor league club Chippenham Town has been red-carded and sent off a mere three seconds into a match against Bashley.  David Pratt's wild tackle earned him the record for the quickest sending-off in senior football, although he's not proud of the record.  Bashley went on to win the match 2-1.

Entertainingly, a few years ago another player was sent off in even fewer seconds for a non-playing incident:

Also in 2000 an English amateur player, Lee Todd, was sent off after two seconds when he responded to the referee's whistle to start the game by saying "xxxx me, that was loud" and was dismissed for foul and abusive language.

- Stuff.co.nz, 30 December 2008

19 December 2008

If in doubt, blame it on the monkeys

The Plan
by Jack Handey

The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen:

—The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.

—The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.

—Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.

—There must be an empty parking space right out in front. If it has a meter, there must be time left on it, because our outfits don’t have pockets for change.

—The monkeys must grab the bags of money and not just shriek and go running all over the place, like they did in the practice run.

—The security cameras must be the early, old-timey kind that don’t actually take pictures.

—When the big clock in the lobby strikes two, everyone must stop and stare at it for at least ten minutes.

—The bank alarm must have mistakenly been set to “Quiet.” Or “Ebb tide.”

—The gold bars must be made out of a lighter kind of gold that’s just as valuable but easier to carry.

—If somebody runs out of the bank and yells, “Help! The bank is being robbed!,” he must be a neighborhood crazy person who people just laugh at.

—If the police come, they don’t notice that the historical mural on the wall is actually us, holding still.

—The bank’s lost-and-found department must have a gun that fires a suction cup with a wire attached to it. Also a chainsaw and a hang glider.

—When we spray the lobby with knockout gas, for some reason the gas doesn’t work on us.

—After the suction cup is stuck to the ceiling, it must hold long enough for Leon to pull himself up the wire while carrying the bags of money, the gold bars, and the hang glider. When he reaches the ceiling, he must be able to cut through it with the chainsaw and climb out.

—Any fingerprints we leave must be erased by the monkeys.

—Once on the roof, Leon must be able to hold on to the hang glider with one hand and the money and the gold bars with the other and launch himself off the roof. Then glide the twenty miles to the rendezvous point.

—When we exit the bank, there must be a parade going by, so our getaway car, which is decorated to look like a float, can blend right in.

—During the parade, our car must not win a prize for best float, because then we’ll have to have our picture taken with the award.

—At the rendezvous point, there must be an empty parking space with a meter that takes hundred-dollar bills.

—The robbery is blamed on the monkeys.

- Jack Handey, The New Yorker, 24 November 2008

16 December 2008

Once a polly tito...

English exponent of gobbledegook and surrealist Stanley Unwin (1911-2002) demonstrates his command of an alternative vocabulary on an old episode of Parkinson:

15 December 2008

What about a nice unicorn instead?

A 79-year-old Dunedin grandmother, Paula Westoby, has hired a tattooist to permanently inscribe the words ‘DO NOT RESUSCITATE’ in 35-point Arial font across her chest. It’s her first tattoo, and she was pleasantly surprised by how little the one-hour procedure hurt:

I wanted to add 'If you do I will sue' at the bottom of it, but you have to stop at some point.

However, a St John’s Ambulance representative pointed out that its ambulance officers respected the rights of patients who took out ‘do not resuscitate’ orders, and that these were probably preferable to getting a tattoo.

- Otago Daily Times, 12 December 2008

Learning the ropes

Gaby Wood interviews British film director Sam Mendes:

Mendes has never been a 'genius' in the traditional neurotic mould; he's much more like a charismatic magician with a seemingly bottomless bag of very elegant tricks. This in itself can be nerve-racking. Mendes tells me about his very first moment in motion pictures. There he was, with a budget of $15m, several highprofile stars and a veteran cinematographer, yet he had to approach Conrad Hall before the first day of shooting American Beauty and say: 'I know this sounds really stupid, but when do I say "Action"?'

Hall explained; the moment arrived; Mendes said it. Instantly, he drifted off into a reverie of boyish excitement. 'I'm thinking: "Oh my God, I just said 'Action'! That's amazing! I'm in Los Angeles, California and I actually said 'Action'!" And the whole crew is standing there looking at me and I say, "What?" I'd forgotten to say "Cut".'

- Observer, 14 December 2008

11 December 2008

The delicate art of Japanese politics

From a BBC report on the foot-in-mouth problems besetting recent Japanese governments:

In recent months, [Prime Minister] Aso has accused doctors of lacking common sense, criticised parents and made contradictory policy statements. His most recent target was the "feeble" elderly - a group whose support is vital to the ailing LDP. Why, Mr Aso asked, should he have to pay taxes for those who "just eat and drink and make no effort".

Public anger forced top government spokesman Takeo Kawamura into a clarification. The prime minister had wanted to stress that pensioners should take an active role in maintaining their health, he said.

"It would be better if I did not have to explain [the comments]," he added. "But it's part of his character and there may be various comments from now on, and it's my job to make efforts to let everyone understand his real intention."

Taro Aso is not alone; there is an established tradition of gaffes from Japan's leading lawmakers. Almost as soon as Mr Aso took office, his tourism minister, Nariaki Nakayama, had to resign after calling Japan an "ethnically homogeneous" country that did not like foreigners.

Shinzo Abe's cabinet was plagued by ill-judged comments. One of the most high-profile was when his health minister called women "birth-giving machines" and appeared to blame them for the low birth rate.

By far the most notorious plain-speaker, however, was Yoshiro Mori, prime minister briefly between 2000 and 2001. He joked about Aids, said the US was full of "gangsters" and offended the entire city of Osaka by calling it a "spittoon". After a few months in office, bureaucrats reportedly made him speak only from cue cards.

- BBC News, 9 December 2008

09 December 2008

Back to the future

This collection of illustrations of what artists thought the Space Age would look like is a fond reminder of how optimistic views of the future used to be (apart from the last one pictured, in which a couple appears to be driving off the roof of a skyscraper for no known reason). And look! I had a copy of Usborne's Future Cities when I was a kid. But even then I would've known instinctively that skiing whilst being pulled by a helicopter wasn't the brightest of ideas.

45 Vintage ‘Space Age’ Illustrations

[Courtesy of B3ta]

08 December 2008


The Times has compiled a list of the 100 worst films of 2008. A film that I’ve never heard of called Never Back Down is described as follows: "[It] reveals a genuinely repugnant validation of street violence, a palpable hatred of women, and the worst aspects of crass barrel-scraping Hollywood studio movie-making. Then again, maybe you just had to be in the right mood. Or a Nazi".

Special mention must also go to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is reviewed thusly: "The latest instalment of George Lucas’s interminable franchise has the charm of a cash machine. This noisy animated feature is set in a galaxy that isn’t far away enough".

100 Worst Movies of 2008

04 December 2008

What's that in old money?

[Courtesy of Bob]

Fantastic fish blimp

Goldfish are far too much work, what with having to feed them, clean their water tanks and make morally troubling decisions about their health and wellbeing. Why not get one of these fishies: one that flies instead of swims, and responds to remote control?

Photo cliches

You know that cool gimmick you've always wanted to photograph with your mates? Yeah. It's not clever, and someone's already thought of it.

Photo cliches


In this entertaining Flash game the usual 'match three' puzzle is complicated by extra powers that can be earned by collecting orbs. Watch out for the skulls...


Keith Moon

From an article listing some of the world's worst celebrity hotel guests (including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Nicole Kidman), some reminisces about the entertainingly sociopathic havoc wrought by The Who's drummer, Keith Moon:

An early legend (the details of which differ, depending on who is consulted, but nevertheless is representative of Moon's routine post–check-in behavior) recounts how in 1967 he drove a car into a pool at a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. This was only after he dropped his own five-tier birthday cake all over the carpet of his room during a party where guests sprayed the decor with fire extinguishers. The incident allegedly resulted in Moon's arrest, $24,000 in damages, and a Holiday Inn chain-wide ban on the Who. A year later, in Australia, Moon threw a TV off a balcony on the top floor of the Southern Cross Hotel and into the pool below. When a manager arrived in the suite with a drenched television in hand, demanding to know who did the deed, Moon exclaimed "I did!" before snatching it back and throwing it over the balcony once more. It became his signature move at hotels, a whimsical routine less psychotically “Shining”-esque than the time he went to a hardware store, bought a hatchet and proceeded to turn each piece of furniture in his Saskatoon, Canada, hotel room into timber. Our favorite, though? The time Moon set off a dynamite explosion in the bathroom of an American hotel to teach the manager, who had asked him to turn down the racket on his cassette player, the difference between "noise" and the Who.

Here's a clip of a very louche Moon remembering the happy day when he tormented a Copenhagen hotelier by destroying not one but three rooms in a single stroke.

- MSNBC.com, 27 August 2008

Tan socks

The New Yorker illustrates the gravitas and prowess characterising meetings between George W Bush and his senior economic advisors, in this anecdote concerning Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve:

In June, 2005, Bernanke was sworn in at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. One of his first tasks was to deliver a monthly economics briefing to the President and the Vice-President. After he and Hubbard sat down in the Oval Office, President Bush noticed that Bernanke was wearing light-tan socks under his dark suit. “Where did you get those socks, Ben?” he asked. “They don’t match.” Bernanke didn’t falter. “I bought them at the Gap—three pairs for seven dollars,” he replied. During the briefing, which lasted about forty-five minutes, the President mentioned the socks several times.

The following month, Hubbard’s deputy, Keith Hennessey, suggested that the entire economics team wear tan socks to the briefing. Hubbard agreed to call Vice-President Cheney and ask him to wear tan socks, too. “So, a little later, we all go into the Oval Office, and we all show up in tan socks,” Hubbard recalled. “The President looks at us and sees we are all wearing tan socks, and he says in a cool voice, ‘Oh, very, very funny.’ He turns to the Vice-President and says, ‘Mr. Vice-President, what do you think of these guys in their tan socks?’ Then the Vice-President shows him that he’s wearing them, too. The President broke up.”

- The New Yorker, 1 December 2008

[Courtesy of Popbitch]

More quality programming from TVNZ

From a Metro interview with English actor Jeremy Sheffield:

Q: What's the worst thing you've been in?

A: A show called Bombshell by the producers of Footballers' Wives. The only place it was ever shown was New Zealand, which was a godsend. The script was really diabolical. It almost made me give up acting.

Q: Isn't their stuff supposed to be tongue-in-cheek?

A: It was supposed to be serious but they couldn't manage it so tried to make it camp halfway through. I was playing an army officer who'd had his foot blown off. By the last episode I was stalking Zoe Lucker, hiding in some bushes while she's having dinner with her boyfriend, with camouflage paint on my face, holding a submachinegun. It was insane.

Can you guess which New Zealand network screened this masterpiece? Yes, it was TVNZ, the network that's supposed to be operating under a public service broadcasting model and that (I understand; correct me if I'm wrong here) neglected to purchase the BBC's fantastic Cranford, the 2007 drama series that rivalled the near-mythical levels of quality of the 1995 Firth and Ehle TV production of Pride And Prejudice. Still, at least I'm better off than TVNZ's viewers - I've seen Cranford and haven't had the chore of switching off Bombshell.

- Source: Metro.co.uk, 4 December 2008

Standard measure of 'horrified' downgraded to virtually nil

Journalists bandy the word 'horrified' around left, right and centre these days to jazz up news stories, when they actually mean 'alarmed' or 'concerned' instead. The dictionary definition of horrified is 'struck with horror', i.e. 'an intense painful emotion of fear and repugnance'. So, lazy journalists, horrified is a pretty serious state of being: picture the women screaming at the sight of Godzilla looming above them, just about to dispense stampy crushy death.

With that in mind it's worth noting this fatuous showbiz report, which wins the prize for the least accurate journalistic description of public concern stemming from a minimally newsworthy celebrity event:

Beyonce Knowles revealed her hairy arm pits when she waved to shocked fans. The glamorous star had apparently forgotten to shave as she walked the red carpet at the New York premiere of her new Etta James biopic Cadillac Records.

One horrified onlooker said: "Beyonce always looks her best at these kind of events. She obviously either ran out of razors or just missed a bit in the bathroom."

Alert the International Court of Justice in the Hague and issue a warrant for her arrest immediately! Sheesh...

- Source: Bang! Showbiz, via Stuff.co.nz, 4 December 2008

03 December 2008

Crime and punishment

A judge in Ft Lupton, Colorado, has sentenced young people found guilty of using loud music to disturb the peace to a session of compulsory music of his own choosing, typically something teeth-grindingly awful like Barney the Dinosaur or Barry Manilow. You can skip the interminable set-up waffle of this CNN piece and go to 1:57 where the true agony of the offenders is made plain. O the humanity...! (p.s. I also recommend Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) by the Cheeky Girls)

02 December 2008

How to annoy pilgrims

A New South Wales motorist, Ian Bryce, has been fined for erecting a transparent box atop his car containing a mannequin dressed as the Pope, which he drove to the Catholic World Youth Day in Sydney earlier this year as a form of protest. Police charged him with ‘having a roof ornament likely to distract motorists’, after quite a bit of deliberation:

The State Government had passed laws to give police extraordinary powers to arrest and fine people for "creating annoyance" to pilgrims during World Youth Day. However parts of these laws were overturned by the Federal Court following widespread protest. Bryce's legal representatives from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties yesterday told the Downing Centre Local Court that the case could not proceed until police provided further details of the charges.

Outside court his lawyer, Stephen Blanks, said the charge did not seem "particularly appropriate" given the condition in which police found the car. "The police are being particularly intelligent in trying to find a way to prosecute Mr Bryce," he said. Bryce said police had detained his Popemobile for about an hour "going through a range of possible charges on the radio to headquarters. I was very surprised [by the charge] because I thought that all advertising is designed to distract.

I wonder what the correct response is when a policeman tells you that you've done something wrong but then takes an hour to work out what law you've broken.

- Sydney Morning Herald, 2 December 2008