Wednesday, July 31, 2002

I know I said friendlies were meaningless, but a 7-0 win away is bloody impressive.

Found on mefi, Japanese prints

The anniversary of the planes smashing into the world trade centre is nearly upon us and forests will be felled to remind us of it. Like this guy, I hope it doesn't get too mawkish.

I hadn't realised get your war on was still going.

Yoga, farting and Bruce Springsteen

Alan Duncan outs himself

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

The world looks different from a freight train. A great article on latterday hobos in the U.S.

The Mercury Music Prize shortlist has been announced. What a dismal selection it is, Bowie?; for gawds chuffin sake. It seems like these days if ageing rockers put something out that isn't completely embarrassing it is hailed as genius, rather than the overblown AOR it usually is.
If The Streets doesn't win I shall eat my lucky hat. It is very far from being the best album released this, or any other year, but it as least fresh, witty and playful. Some samples are available on the website, not the whole album though, as was the case until recently. There is an album of mixes on there though, look under sneak previews

Shameless and inveterate seeker after plugs that I am, I have now signed up with Blogsnob

Christ, it's hot.

The BBC has put loads of gigs from WOMAD online, in their entirety. Ozomatli is up, as is Orchestra Baobab. Little George Sueref is definitely worth a listen, and pretty soon the absolutely stunning Mariza should be up. There are many others.
For one week only, the BBC has made all 4 of their WOMAD broadcasts available online.


Monday, July 29, 2002

Bloody Bleeding Nora! West Brom having surprised everyone, themselves included, by getting promoted to the Premiership last year should be enjoying a golden age. All should be warm, everyone should be aglow. They should be looking forward to the new season like no other. But no. First their chairman was pretty much forced to resign, after falling out with the manager, then the manager messed about before signing a new contract. A middling division one player declined to sign for them (thus passing up the opportunity to play in one of the 3 greatest leagues in the world) because he didn't want to take a pay cut.
Now it looks like the players may be going on strike. I have a massive soft spot for West Brom. Nevertheless, I am chuffin pissing myself.

The Cannibal Manifesto

When I was a nipper I loved the novel, The Graduate and would read it ceaselessly. Growing up in a pretty impoverished part of Brum in a family that seemed pretty normal to me, but these days would probably be described as dysfunctional, that whole Californian lifestyle was immensely appealing. I could appreciate even then that Charles Webb was railing against that lifestyle, but I saw fit only to soak up the imagery of lounging around a pool on endless hot summer afternoons, enjoying effortless affluence and it seemed pretty idyllic to me.
I read Webbs other novels and didn't think much of them, then he seemed to just disappear, until the publication of New Cardiff a couple of years ago. It turns out he and his Mrs have led an extraordinary life, giving up all their money and taking pretty shitty jobs to get by. It all seems a bit barking to me, but fair play to them, they are living by what they believe. (Oh Dear, it's the Guardian again)

The U.S shoots itself in the foot again in the battle for hearts and minds in Afghanistan.

Bleeding Bloody Nora all over again. Came across this N.Y Times editorial on Mefi, you would think it was an archived piece from the 50's, but it isn't. It is truly scary that this can still happen. Also courtesy of Mefi is this much more in depth account of events.

All night I have been listening to Village 900 am, which I think comes from Canada. Just the job for a mellow Monday evening. If you like the folksy rootsy world music type stuff, I recommend it. It has news from the BBC world service, which strikes me as a bit odd, welcome though.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Mike Brearley is an acknowledged master of psychology in sport. Here he expounds on how to be a good umpire, it is a lesson on how to behave generally, I think.

"Rise up against your oppressor", George Bush told the Kurds in 1991, then pissed off out of it, leaving them to their fate. Not without a little help from U.S and British warplanes, they have established a sort of mini state in Northern Iraq. It seems to work well, with a free press and open opposition. But now the younger Bush is coming a calling. There goes the neighborhood. (NY Times link, reg required)

The School of the Americas. This piece of journalism has won an award from Amnesty International. It is a fine piece. How come all the worlds bad guys were once clients of the U.S?

This online music station is worth exploring before the whole streaming thing goes tits up

The Sacred Text Archive is awesome and important.You will find information on just about any religion or belief system you can think of.

Images of the Vietnam war, taken by the other side.

Bleeding Nora, it's all a bit serious today. Thanks to Ragamuffin for this Ice Cream Sundae collecting car crash type diversion, at which I am not very good.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

A nice spud recipe

Dissect a frog

As I suspected, a rolled up newspaper is no use against a running bull. I am crap at this game, use cursers keys to manouevre and space bar to whack the bugger.

The website of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado is well worth a few minutes of anyones time.

Buy a second hand book.

Thanks,yet again, to Plep, for alerting the world to some classic pictures from Life magazine

Courtesy of the BBC at Womad, I have been introduced to something else beautiful, that I had previously been unaware of. Fado is described as Portugese blues, but I think it has more to it than that. Radio 3 and BBC 4 provided us with snippets of a performance from Mariza, who both looks and sounds extraordinary.
There is an interesting account of its history and traditions here.
This poem is rather good, its relationship to actual Fado I cannot comment on, it's a bloody good poem anyway.

Friday, July 26, 2002

More Big Brother stuff.

The Friday Five

1. How long have you had a weblog?
About a year, though I've ony took it anything like seriously in about the last 2 months.
2. What was your first post about?
Dunno. Birmingham City F.C probably. I can't bring myself to look.
3. How many changes (name, location, etc.) of your weblog have there been, if more than one?
None.There is another blog out there somewhere which was supposed to be work related, a sort of very honest diary at a time when things looked a bit bleak.It named names. Set it up when I was pissed though and have never been able to find the bugger.
4. What CMS (content management system) do you use? Do you like it or do you want to try something else?
er...beg pardon?
5. Do you read people who have both a journal and a weblog? Or do you prefer to read people who have all of their writing in one central place?
I don't read anyone religiously.There are a few blogs I visit very regularly and I will look at homepages from mefi and spofi profile pages. It's all the same really innit?

Womad has begun today. Much of it will be available on the Radio 3 website

Even at my advanced age it is still possible to get excited about music. Not long ago I discovered Manu Chao and bored everyone rigid about him, and he is still blasting out of the car almost daily. Tonight, courtesy of BBC 4 at Womad, I have discovered, no doubt long after the rest of the world, Ozomatli. I have since done a google search on them and find they excite the rest of the world as much me. Christ knows what it was like to have been there, I am absolutely abuzz just from watching on the box.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Six Feet Under has been nominated for many emmys. I have tried hard to like this programme in my Sopranos deprived state, but I can't. It's issue driven rather than character led and therefore jumps the shark several times each week. This fine Slate article refers to a series I have not seen, but is pretty bang on anyway.

An Indian hangs himself in Guatemala , which goes some way to explaining the need for Robin Hoover to leave his water butts in the desert.

An Afghan family is removed from a Mosque by riot police

Some photos of Afghan refugees at a camp in Pakistan

14 million face starvation across Southern Africa

Please click on The Hunger Site

Is your blog hot or not

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

See how stressed you are at Hello Kitty.

Another Guardian link. This is a fascinating account of the Iranian embassy siege which was ended by the SAS, whom few had heard of at the time.

The eldest nipper is seven so the politics of parenthood and childhood and friendship and relationships are becoming increasingly fraught and complex. This article hasn't helped much.

Is Norwegian difficult to learn?

Unbelievably, someone has nicked Bungle, Zippy and George

Would be economic migrants into the U.S from Mexico are having to take ever more hazardous routes to avoid detection. Robin Hoover tries to make it easier for them.

An incredibly hard days racing in the tour, with 3 massive climbs, not much of interest overall though, with Armstrong consolidating his position. The finances inolved in the thing make interesting reading.

I really have no clue how to begin describing, this funky, animated thing, with a groovy tune attached. It's a bit wonderful.

In the interests of balance I suppose I should mention that the Blues good run has ended, with 2 successive defeats on their Scottish tour. Friendlies are meaningless, really.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Have you had your yatta today? (via mefi)

Every time we go abroad I spend the whole time boring the Mrs by wondering aloud about the cost of food. Day after day we eat as a family in unpretenious but very good cafes, bars and restaurants. We don't skimp, we eat what we fancy and have plenty of drinks and are always surprised by the quality of what is put in front of us, and by the price. What, I demand, stops British caterers from providing similar quality at a similar price? And that's before I start on the ambience. We hardly ever eat out at home, because the experience, for one reason or another, usually to do with the nippers, always ends up disappointing.
This goes some way to explaining why.

Botero finally has a good day

This Steve Bell cartoon brought a smirk to my face.

Eat less saturated fat and salt, or you will go barmy

This story referring to telephone conversations between stewardessess on one of the planes that flew into the world trade centre, and a flight controller seems to be appearing everywhere. It is very distressing even at this remove, but begs questions. What was the bomb like thing and what were they spraying ? I thought the hijackers were unarmed apart from knives. Also, why has the FBI suppressed the first 4 minutes of one of the conversations?

Saturday, July 20, 2002

I cannot recommend this website highly enough. It is beautiful and stunning.

David Millar, not previously known for his sprinting ability, won todays stage. Zabel and McEwan are now dead level on points for the green jersey. Ventoux tomorrow. A more pertinent Ventoux link


Is it too early to start getting excited about the upcoming football saeson? I think not. Blues followed up Wednesdays win with a 6-0 victory today. You can tell we have hit the big time because the BBC are putting up match reports of our friendlies, for gawds sake.
One of the joys of the football season used to be Danny Bakers post match phone in on 5 live, at least in its early days. I know he has graduated into a first class pillock, but at least he used to bring a bit of passion into it, and had heard of some of the teams outside the prem. He would never have allowed clueless women or nippers to monopolise valuable whinging time either. How they could have replaced him with the clueless and clearly ersatz Mellor is beyond me. And Littlejohn! Christ on a chuffin bike. The part timers are equally irksome. The fat baggies fan is becoming ubiquitous across the airwaves, so is irritating by dint of that. At least he knows who the real Blues are. Steve Cram is very, very boring and interested only in Sunderland. I think they should get me on.
I only mention it because i found a pretty good interview with Jon Savage on punk and fanzines and stuff. I have mentioned before that Savage is an irritating twerp, (any John without an H is a twerp, by definition) but it's a decent enough article. Anyway he slags Baker off in it, clearly he thinks he is an undereducated oik, which is the problem with Savage.
To the point, there is a link to a Danny Baker page, which in turn contains a link to a download of Baker insulting a caller, which led to his sacking. There are many reasons that could be found to end Bakers disasterous second stint on 606, but that isn't one of them. It is a classic piece of broadcasting and illustrates why the C list celebrities they insist on putting on the show are part of the dumbing down of the BBC. I urge you to click that link and even if you don't read the page, which isn't very interesting, scan through for the "insults a caller" link.

Corporate scandals? It's all to do with penis envy. This is very lengthy and not amusing in the slightest. No pun intended.

While I'm at it, I may as well link to this article about the US anthrax attacks. If true it's very worrying.

I am beginning to feel somewhat assailed by "The Adverts", they were mentioned twice on "Never Mind the Horlicks" tonight, and also put in appearance in the previously linked Savage interview.
Savage has plenty to say on "Horlicks" too. In that interview, he dismisses the fact that he is an able scholar who attended Cambridge and stresses his West London roots. Well, his plummy vowels are hardly the sound of the westway.

Talking of penis envy

Its my birthday tomorrow. Like a big kid I have been waiting for months just so I can post the Bukowski poem,"On Being 43".
But I can't find the bugger. This is much better anyway. Much, much better.


Friday, July 19, 2002

This little rabbit game is popping up everywhere. I am crap at it.

An interesting article on Big Brother, which says more about the psychology of the media in general really.

Last night I finished "The Ice Harvest" by Scott Phillips. Very good, very enjoyable, moved along very nicely, just the job for bedtime. It doesn't insult the intelligence isn't moronic but doesn't require too many brain cells. Perfect, I look forward to reading more of his stuff.
Almost perfect I should say. While I was about half way through, I read a review of the follow up, "The Walkaway". In the first sentence of the review the reviewer gave away the denouement of "The Ice Harvest". What kind of a smug, self satisfied, ignorant berk would do such a thing? I can't remember where I read it but I think it was the Sunday Times. I hope the guy never gets another commission. The editor of the page could give himself a stern talking to also.

Like a greatest hits collection, this list of 100 albums you should throw out is a bit variable.However it gave me many genuine laugh out loud moments. It is probably the funniest and most astute thing I have seen for ages. I'm going to post it everywhere. They should kick Maconie off the critical list and get this guy in, whoever he is.

The Friday Five
1. Where were you born?
Birmingham UK ,Balsall Heath, to be exact, which is like being born within the sound of bow bells, in my hapless opinion.
2.If you still live there, where would you rather move to? If you don't live there, do you want to move back? Why or why not?
That's a very difficult question. I haven't lived there since 1986 but still consider it home. I have a very young family and they are very well settled, so it's unlikely we will move back. It's an alien place to them and they would find the sheer size and pace of the place bewildering and frightening. By the time they flee the nest I will be ancient and if not dead heading for the coast.
3.Where in the world do you feel the safest?
Wrapped up warm in the arms of my wife.
4. Do you feel you are well-traveled?
Not really, although I have stopped and sniffed the flowers wherever I have been rather than passing through. Socially and educationally I have moved onto another, very strange planet.
5. Where is the most interesting place you've been?
Bloody Nora, that's a hard one. I think, possibly, St Davids, because I cannot understand why they built such an enormous great bloody church in a tiny place in the middle of nowhere. It's also very beautiful. I will have changed my mind on that in 5 minutes.

I am not sure I can be arsed with "le tour" anymore.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Competition for British Bloggers

Spooky Spooky Spooky. Things like this are always happening to me, but not with lottery numbers, funny enough.
Last Saturday, going for a family tootle, as you do, I picked up a compilation of Stiff records greatest songs (hits would be something of a misnomer) to play in the car. Now this CD is just a bit of memorabilia really and of no consequence at all, moreover it's not something I would generally choose to keep the nippers quiet; it's not chuffin Shrek for a start.
Anyway, out of its 18 or so tracks, "One Chord Wonders" by The Adverts was the only one that I chose to explain anything about to a now disgruntled family. Then, much later, on some history of punk thing on Radio 2 they guessed. I have never heard that song on the radio before and it's never been a particular favourite of mine, then I hear it twice in one day.
It doesn't end there though. Just idly surfing about tonight, looking for nothing in particular, I came across a website for the chief Advert TV Smith, who still performs, though it all sounds a bit sad really.
The punk programme was called Never Mind The Horlicks and is available online, only till Saturday though, I think. It was pretty good, but had some terrible omissions; some terrible inclusions too, come to think of it.
I am concentrating very hard on the lottery numbers.

My analysis of "Le Tour" proved a bit curates eggish, although I have to concede I got it hopelessly wrong. Armstrongs performance today was astonishing. I did say that he was expected to attack and that it would be unmissable, I did not expect him to be quite so strong. There are many hills to climb in this race yet and anything can happen; it probably won't though.
Botero may still do something impressive, I haven't given up on him.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Finding myself in almost total agreement with Jonathan Freedland on the issue of various public portrayals of sexuality, I must conclude I am getting old.

I can't remember if I posted this mini golf game before, anyway, it's a new version.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

If you are still upset that the Sopranos is to finish, uplift your mood with a visit to the now returned Mefi .
The news is never all bad.

There is a job going as British Ambassador to the United States. The Guardian has thoughtfully published an application form. Their version of it anyway.

According to this in the New Statesman, psychology and psychiatry don't work, This is something I bang on about at work all the time, to much derision. I don't elucidate my argument quite as well, or as politely, it must be said.
Perhaps we should stick to mind altering drugs and Buddhism.The "semen makes women happy" story has been around for a while now, and I have tried to resist it, but I can't.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Many thousands of local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be on strike on Wednesday. This is why.
If the unions win this my gob will be smacked, most people of my aquaintance view it as a welcome day off (albeit unpaid) but are not unduly vexed one way or another. I very much doubt if many would be willing to lose another days pay. I know very few people who actually had a chance to vote in the ballot, and it was a very narrow vote in favour of the strike in Unison. If it happens again more fuss will be made.

Joel Veitch animation

A very interesting day in the tour. Todays time trial was won by Santiago Botero and the cat is now well and truly among the among the pigeons. The mountain stages are going to be unmissable.
Millar did well and is now seventh.

Metafilter has been down a very long time. Scary.

Oh dear. I know many who will be bereft at the news that the Sopranos 5th series will be its last. I have not seen the 4th series yet but I am assuming it and the 5th will be the usual high quality. Although I will miss it at least it will depart never having jumped the shark (I hope).
More Sopranos stuff here.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

I love this picture.
The race will hot up next week. Time trial tomorrow, which should sort the men out from the boys, then they head towards the mountains. Ventoux is next Sunday I think, even if you have no interest in the tour at all, this will be great television, pure and simple.
Congratulations to David Millar for managing not to fall off.

I decided to Blogchalk. Don't know why, but it feels a bit shameful, but as I have no shame : Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United Kingdom, Cwmbran, Ty Canol, Pete, Male, 41-45!

Pitchfork has named Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as one of the top 15 albums of the second quarter of 2002. Just thought I would mention it, even though it seems a pretty silly concept.

I have never bought into notion of Wimbledon football club being a bunch of happy go lucky chancers who achieved success simply through hard work and team spirit. A romantic myth has been put about that in the days of Sam Hamman they were a charming family club living on their wits.
There was nothing charming or romantic about Vinnie Jones or John Fashanu, and Sam has since shown us how charming he is with his hooligan loving ways at Cardiff. Running off with the cash and leaving the club at the the tender mercies of Norwegian businessmen was hardly romantic either.
I wish the new club nothing but the best however. They are true football fans rooted to their club and their community. They have told the monied classes and the interlopers to bog off and are having a real go at setting something up themselves. There could be a lesson there for us all. Not all of us have been shafted in the same way but it is undeniable that football has lost its soul in recent years. These guys are trying to find it, in fact have found it and are trying to reclaim it. The best of bleeding British to them.

Talking of football fans, I came across this New Yorker article by Nick Hornby on Sportsfilter. There is something about Hornby that really gets my goat. He comes across as this real regular guy who just happens to love Arsenal. First off there is nothing regular about him, he was very well brought up, in Reading, and went to Cambridge; few are so privileged. Whether or not his estuary English is affected, it is very irritating. Plus he portrays all his male characters in his fiction as utterly selfish bastards, which appeals to his core constituency, which of course is women. Nothing wrong with that, but the blokishness he affects is a middle class media construct, which bears little resemblance to reality.
All of which is beside the point. His real crime is that he supports Aresenal, not his hometown club, all the while passing himself off as the voice of the true fan. He compounds this by devoting much of Fever Pitch to moaning about how unsuccessful Arsenal are and how difficult and humiliating it is to support such a crap team. He measures failure by an inability to win league titles. Never mind league and F.A cup wins and consistently finishing high enough to compete in Europe.
He knows nothing about the experience of the majority of football fans, for whom gaining a place in Europe would be a major achievment, not to mention the delirium that would ensue if say, Reading, even appeared in a cup final, never mind won one.
His is the voice of the middle class spoilt brat who wants what he wants and he wants it now. He supports Arsenal because they were successful at the time, much as people in Cornwall or Wales support Man Utd now. His grievance is / was that they were not succesful enough. Poor diddums.
Article is worth a look though.

Thanks, once again to Ragamuffin. I only asked if Ricky Cool was still knocking about and seconds later a pic appeared.
Ricky Cool is a Brummie artiste who swaps genres more often than some change socks; if he is as good as he was when I used to see him on a weekly basis he is brilliant. If he comes to your town, treat yourself. Nice guy too, or used to be. More Worcester than Brummie. I think.
Had to lose the photo, it had caused a certain amount of craziness.

This is fairly interesting stuff on elitism. Raises all sorts of questions that I could happily comment on all night, but the night is nearly gone, and my bed is calling.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Apropos of nothing; The Chelsea Hotel.

All sorts of games and other things to do here, mostly very high quality.

I have been seeing links to Roadside America for ages, but only visited today for the first time. It's worth a detour.

You can do caricatures of yourself or anyone else here.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Bloody Nora. Just listening to the archived Andy Kershaw show at the BBC and he introduced a track from John B Spencer, whom I love(d). I thought I heard him refer to his demise and not quite believing my ears, did a quick google search and found this.
It's ironic that his obit is on the books page, he was a brilliant songwriter and a performer of real charm and wit. I first saw him at the Junction in Harborne in about 1985 or 6. In truth I had never heard of him but at that time The Junction ran a folk club on Thursdays that was just brilliant, and rarely did the performers have anything to do with folk. Anyway I went along just because I aways did. The guy blew the fucking house down, he was absolutely brilliant. How he remained unheard of is a complete mystery, he was a songwriter of the highest class.
Hearing of this has genuinely left me feeling a bit pissed off and fed up, much more so than other recent celebrity deaths. Probably because he was not a celebrity but deserved to be, much more so than the likes of, well, anyone really. Also It was a hot summer night and a brilliant night and I was still young and happy (not that I'm not happy now) and carefree and had no responsibilities to anyone but myself. It was just before I left for Cardiff, never to return, although I didn't know it then. His music reminds me of a lost home and lost youth, and his death has affected me.
Mind you he looked about 75 back then I could barely believe he was only 57. Kershaw is playing a session tonight, which of course will be archived for a week from tomorrow.
Some more on Spencer.

More photos from todays stage. Another sprint finish with Zabel winning. David Millar has now crashed 3 times in two days. Just thought I'd mention it.

I have had to work uncharacteristically hard and uncharacterestically late this last couple of days. It has taught me that even if I don't spend hours every night posting cobblers all over the web, the sun will still rise the following day.
Pearls before Swine. I am astonishingly bad at this game.

The Guardian the other day mentioned the newish BBC radio player. I log into it before anything else now and have been doing for a couple of weeks. It plays archived programmes across channels and genres for the previous seven days. I am listening to Wednesdays "Late Junction" as I type. It is a godsend for those of us who live up mountains and can barely recieve F.M, particularly in summer. Go here and click the link on the top right of the screen. Real Player required.

Every day PLEP finds brilliant link after brilliant link. I love this photographic history of Chinatown in New York.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

It would appear that I live in an area which is in the vanguard of a revolution in education. I wish someone would inform the jumped up twerp who runs my nippers school like an outpost of the Branch Davidian.

Not having had much of a summer it might be nice to sod off to the U.S or some place where you can earn a living getting tanned and living the outside life as a pool guy. Or maybe not.

Finally the Senegal Captain Cissé signs foir the Blues. He might be joined by the Polish striker Olisebede who is supposed to be a bit special. We could end up with Lech Walesa knowing Blues.
Late news courtesy of Singing the Blues, we have appointed John Brierley as part time fitness coach. He has experience with West Ham and Palace and has been involved with English athletics at various levels. Is it a good thing? Well it certainly isn't a bad thing.

Thanks to Ragamuffin star contributor to the Singing The Blues messageboard (amongst others) for this operation style shockwave game.

Monday, July 08, 2002

It's national vegetarian week, though I would like to know who decides these things. I declare that next week will be "give all your money to Fat Buddha week". Is that sufficient, I wonder?
I like this quiz mainly because I got all ten right at the first attempt. My subsequent gloating when the Mrs didn't got me a substantial whack, however.
Vegetarianism looks increasingly attractive after reading this article on chicken nuggets. I don't believe I have ever eaten a chicken nugget although the kids have. I am careful to read labels to ensure there is no mechanically recovered meat, but the whole business looks unappetising. Reading this article puts you off the whole thing. And thats just chicken. I don't even want to think about the inhumane ways in which we treat pigs and I don't believe I will ever eat anything bovine again. Pass me a falafel.

There was an exciting bunch finish in Le Tour, which is always a great spectacle. Bertogliati retained the yellow jersey, it still has something of an air of phoney war about it though.

The Blues continue to be linked with players from around the world that nobody has ever heard of, no more new signings yet though. It apears that there are at least 3 players called Cissé earning a living in France. Who would have thought it?

I really like this review of Wilco

Mr Stabby

Sunday, July 07, 2002

San Fermin began today, with, as usual, several roisterers getting themselves gored. Shame. This site tells you all you need to know about its history and traditions and has some stunning photos. Although it began as a religious festival it now regarded as "must not miss" event on for party animals the world over.

There was a very good stage of Le Tour, which was won by Rubens Bertogliati , who also takes the yellow jersey, for one day only I suspect.

Relive all your childhood games.

Take on a celebrity at Paper Scissors Stone

Saturday, July 06, 2002

Even though it's Saturday, and much nearer Sunday than Friday, I shall have my first go at the Friday 5.
1 Where are you right now ? : Sat at computer drinking wine, listening to Pernice Brothers while the Mrs sorts the nippers out.
2:What have you lost recently? Every last drop of goodwill I ever had for my employer.
3:What was the first CD you ever purchased? Does that embarrass you now? : I was late coming to C.D's. The first one I ever bought was "The Best of Crowded House". God knows why, I had never been a fan of theirs, although I like Tim Finn and was a massive fan of Split Enz, particularly in their early days. "Dizrythmia" is a neglected classic. I never listen to the Crowded House thing now, in fact I hardly listened to it at all, but it doesn't embarrass me. The first record I ever bought was "Hippy Hippy Shake" by the Swinging Blue Jeans .
4: What is your favorite kind of writing pen? Any sort that doesn't empty its ink into my pocket.
5:What is your favorite ice cream flavor? My very own home made chocolate, made with many egg yolks, Jersey milk, double cream and the coup de grace; creme fraiche. Sometimes I add a little Madagascan vanilla, not often though, wouldn't want to over egg the pudding, as it were.

Typically barking animation from B3ta

Down at the park this morning with the 3 nippers I noticed two elderly guys wandering around with a camera equipped with a zoom lens.
Initially I thought they must have grandchildren with them, but clearly they didn't. So I thought they must be keen photographers taking pictures, generally, of a playground on a summers day, even though the day was barmy rather than balmy . Then I noticed the guy with the large lens was taking pictures of individual kids, and my armpits started to prickle. No one else seemed to notice or be particularly bothered, apart from my Mrs as it turned out.
We left them to their art and carried on around the park. The eldest who is seven went on a boat. We then noticed the two geezers rambling around the lake, looking a bit shifty, in my cynical view. At the playground my Mrs had been miles away from me, entertaining the youngest, but she now said I don't like the look of those two, they haven't any kids with them but they have been taking close up photos of individual kids, they better not try it with our nippers. Whereupon the long lens dude crouched down and pointed his lens at our nipper in the boat. There was no- one or nothing else around, he could only have been focussing on the nipper.
My Mrs yelled across, "NO, DON'T TAKE A PHOTO OF MY SON". They looked irritated rather than embarrassed, and headed for the car park quite quickly. Another family told us they had been uneasy too, most looked away. I am unutterably proud of the Mrs. The old blokes may have been entirely innocent, but it strikes me as an odd way to spend a Saturday, taking furtive pictures of extremely young children.The police were informed.
Anyway, I only mention it because I happened upon this Hitchens article at Arts and Letters Daily.

A 1934 article from the New Yorker on John Dillinger. Absolutely fascinating.

Friday, July 05, 2002

At the risk of appearing repetitious, a June Jordan obituary.

I heard Simon Armitage on the radio this morning, which reminded me of this poem.

What I want for my birthday

Another Guardian article on the Tour de France. There is a link to an interactive guide on the race at the end. Highly recommended.

Bluegrass seems to be the Buena Vista Social Club of the moment. It's not without its malcontents though. Gillian Welch is a New York girl, although her antecedents allow her leeway. They also provide material for spiritual speculation. Theres nothing like a guy who resents that others have muscled in on his private obsession

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Tim Parks wrote an acclaimed book on his experiences following Hellas Verona over a single season. Many argued that his stance towards the more lumpen of his fellow Verona fans was a little too sympathetic, still an excellent if slightly irritating book though.
Now he has written an excellent, if slightly irritating piece for the New York Review of Books (found on PLEP). He adopts Orwells view of serious sport being war minus the shooting to analyse the World Cup. Despite a couple of discrepencies it provides much food for thought and I recommend it. It's very long.

Janice Ian articulates what I have always thought about downloading music, much better than I ever could. Being an artist she also speaks from a position of moral strength.
Following the demise of audiogalaxy, a useful guide to potential alternatives

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

I love the idea of book crossing although it might seem a bit stupid. My Mrs is always going on at me to get rid of some books as she reckons we don't have space for more bookshelves. Well, although it seems to be a U.S thing, I'm going to register and give it a go, see what happens. I will leave some of my Laurence Shames books at St Andrews come the new season hoping they will find a deserving home.

"Le Tour" starts on Saturday. The greatest and most arduous sporting event there is. It has something for everyone, beautiful photography, bucolic images of France, mad and dangerous mass sprints, the solitary suffering of racing against the clock in time trials and the glorious savagery of the mountain stages, not to mention the gut churning descents. And that's just watching.
Two recent articles in the Guardian by William Fotheringham provide a brilliant overview of what it's all about.
The first is really a travellogue; an account of the author undertaking a stage, along with thousands of others. The second is an interesting account of the infamous Ventoux stage and the death of Tom Simpson.

Play battleships

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

It would appear the sun is feeling a bit gaseous.

Johan Cruyff has been a bit sniffy about Brazil. His view is countered here.
Simon Kuper provides a thoughtful analysis of Ronaldo's recent past. Paul Hayward does likewise.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Brazil won it, I don't think I was alone in being past caring by the end. I found both finalists particularly charmless, and despite having its moments, the whole tournament was somewhat sullied by various controversies, which I can't be bothered with now.

Just discovered Piano Magic. There must be loads of stuff like this about that just doesn't get heard. 4ad helpfully provides some snippets of reviews and a downloadable track from "Writers without Homes" and a couple of of other, earlier things.

Also discovered, long after the rest of the human race ,it seems, Asa Chang :Hana. This is music to both stir and calm the soul. I have never heard anything like it. Some information and a downloadable video of "Hana" can be found at his record labels website. He seems a bit of a character.