27 September 2010

Fearne Cotton

'If you think that [Radio 1 DJ Chris] Moyles is quite annoying you should listen to this Fearne Cotton woman afterwards; everything she says is 'ooh it's amazing, it's brilliant, it's awesome!' It's like listening to someone who has never seen cutlery and then showing them a spoon'.

- Sandi Toksvig, The News Quiz, Radio 4, 24 September 2010

25 September 2010

On Wagner

Stephen Fry recently extolled the virtues of the famed German opera composer Richard Wagner, but for many people his work is rather inaccessible due to its extreme length and bombast:

As Wagner grew older, his operas grew longer, culminating in Der Ring des Nibelungen, composed of four separate operas taking some sixteen hours to perform. For all its enduring popularity, his work has also drawn some inspired criticism. One composer complained that a Wagner opera 'starts at six o'clock and, after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6.20', while Friedrich Nietzche derided Die Meistersinger as 'German beer music'. Here are some other choice critiques:

Gioacchino Rossini - 'Wagner has beautiful moments but awful quarter hours'.

Oscar Wilde - 'I like Wagner's music better than any other music. It's so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says'.

Charles Beaudelaire - 'I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window and trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws'.

The gentlest of the barbs came from Mark Twain, who helpfully proclaimed that 'Wagner's music is better than it sounds'.


- W.B. Marsh & Bruce Carrick, 366: A Leap Year of Great Stories, Cambridge, 2007.

23 September 2010

Poll: 1 in 5 Americans believe Obama is a cactus

WASHINGTON — According to a poll released Tuesday, nearly 20 percent of U.S. citizens now believe Barack Obama is a cactus, the most Americans to identify the president as a water-retaining desert plant since he took office.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found a sharp rise in the number of Americans who say they firmly believe Obama was either born a cactus, became a cactus during his youth, or has questionable links to the Cactaceae family.

"We asked people of varying races, ages, and backgrounds the same question: 'What is President Barack Obama?'" Pew spokeswoman Jodi Miller told reporters. "And a fifth of them responded, 'A cactus.'"

According to the poll, Obama has lost favor among many voters who supported his candidacy in 2008 but have since come to doubt he is a mammal. While these Americans concede Obama may not specifically be a cactus, most believe he is a plant of some kind, with 18 percent saying the president is a ficus, 37 percent believing him to be a grain such as wheat or millet, and 12 percent convinced he is an old-growth forest in Northern California.

When asked why they agreed with the statement "President Obama is a large succulent plant composed of specialized cells designed for water retention in arid climates," many responded that they "just know," claiming the president only acts like a human being for political purposes and is truly a cactus at heart.

- The Onion, 22 September 2010

21 September 2010

Tourette's Karaoke

The most excellent skills of Guy Daniel Francis are to the fore in these videos, demonstrating that all you need to improve a good pop song is to add random swearing. Not safe for work viewing due to language, naturally, and here's a bit of info about Tourette Syndrome for some context.



See also: Losing My Religion, A Little Respect, and Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by Crash Test Dummies.

[Via Popbitch]

14 September 2010

Thieves obviously unaware of the value of livestock

Instead, they just stole the gate:

A Kingston farmer is concerned someone could have been seriously injured after some "idiots" stole his farm gate along the Devil's Staircase highway to Queenstown at the weekend.

Fortunately some overseas tourists saved the day, after Loch Linnhe Station owner Murray Scott's 4.6m by 1.2m steel mesh farm gate was taken from its hinges overnight on Saturday.

The foolish act left more than 30 cattle and 300 sheep free to roam the Kingston to Queenstown highway in what would have been a blind spot over a hill for traffic heading north.

"It was right at the top of a hill the gate was stolen... just as you come over the hill. If someone had flown over the hill they would've had nowhere to go," he said.

- Southland Times, 14 September 2010

06 September 2010

Careless whiskers

Adam and Kristi from Cracked sum up their top 6 foullest, most noxious facial hair in music. Includes two geezers you've never heard of, plus John Oates of Hall & Oates, owner of the most reprehensible rock moustache in history.

The 6 most atrocious uses of facial hair in music history

[Title pun and link courtesy of the Guardian Guide]

Josie Long

Comedian Josie Long at the New Zealand Comedy Festival in 2008, on stealing branded promotional pens, the challenges of contemporary mime, and the delights of mis-spelling.

01 September 2010

Munchy box!

Glasgow's finest culinary tradition: the grease-laden, artery-popping combination of kebab meat, fish & chips, naan bread, onion rings, chicken tikka and loads and loads of potential health problems, all sandwiched into a dripping, sellotaped-shut cardboard pizza box. Gory pictures in full at:

What is a Munchy Box?

Iranian editorial policy

"Sticks and stones may break my bones – but names will never hurt me." I was reminded of the highly sensible old saying when I read about the typically level-headed and well-modulated attack on First Fran├žaise Carla Bruni and the actress Isabelle Adjani for daring to add their voices to the international protest against the proposed stoning to death of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the 43-year-old mother-of-two accused of adultery, by the Iranian newspaper Kayhan.

This paragon of the free press is directly under the supervision of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and has its editor appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khameini – and don't you just wish you could be a fly on the wall at one of their editorial meetings.

"That Carla Bruni – she says we shouldn't stone adulteresses to death."

"She must be a prostitute!"

"Yeah, and her Mum!"

"And that actress – Isabelle Adjani? She says it too."

"Right, that's it. She was in that film Ishtar, with that Zionist thug Dustin Hoffman – I hated that film! That's 103 minutes of my life I'll never get back again!"

"She's probably a prostitute too!"

"OK, there's our headline – FRENCH PROSTITUTES ENTER HUMAN RIGHTS PROTEST. Now, next up – who's the stunna getting stoned to death on Page 3 today?" [...]

I must say that I was perplexed, though, by the reference to Mrs Sarkozy as a "hypocrite", while drawing ungentlemanly attention to her sexual generosity over the years. (Sexual charity, even, if you count Mick Jagger, who looks as if a very bored giant practised origami on his face for a very long time.)

Surely wishing women not to be put to death for committing adultery, if you are yourself a woman who has slept with married men, is the opposite of hypocrisy – ie, damn good sense? Surely a hypocrite would be a woman who had committed adultery yet wanted other women to be stoned to death for it?

- Julie Burchill, Independent, 1 September 2010