Monday, September 30, 2002

Still more pictures of New York

Some might say Barnett Newman painted stripes on blobs of colour. Despite my philistine tendencies, I think there is more to it than that.
A more serious consideration of Barnetts work.

Usually I moan when the Mrs starts buying pumpkins and carving them up for the nippers. Not only is it a waste of money it is another example of the creeping Americanisation of our culture. I am sure we did not carve pumpkins in Balsall Heath when I was a nipper. We certainly didn't go trick or chuffin treating. If she takes up this idea though she can cut as many pumpkins as she likes and I will decorate the street with them.

A while back I described the Independent as grim and humourless, or something like that. Since then I have hardly stopped linking to the bloody thing. Here is an account of the Stop The War march on Saturday. Admittedly it's not very funny.

Where is Bin Laden? (NY Times link)

Believe me, this word game is a bit addictive, be careful when you start it or you are liable to be up half the night.

Its all very well science coming up with an answer to everything but it does tend to upset ones romantic and mystical sensibilities. Zen Gardens explained.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

One of the differences between todays anti war march and last weeks jaunt by assorted hooray henries was that this one had little to do with self interest and was benign and altruistic in nature and intent.
Stop the War (via Plep)
Civilian casualities in Afghanistan
War on Iraq
Get your war on

Blues 0 Newcastle 2. It was not so much the defeat that was depressing, nor our inability to create anything spontaneously or off the cuff, nor even the fact we were clearly second best. No the depressing thing was our bookings. Savage, Cisse and Purse. God give me chuffing strength.

Graceless Yanks. I thought it was all supposed to be about dignity and decorum this time. We should let a few zulus in tomorrow.

Saturday being all about sport, I settled my lard arse down in front of the box earlier, armed with a giant packet of crisps and a nice bottle of shiraz to watch Ricky Hatton fight Steven Smith.. As a general rule I am no lover of boxing but some fights and some boxers demand attention. Hatton is one such, although he has several irritating traits. First, he is very pale. Second he is a manc. Third he supports Manchester City. Fourth he enters the ring to an appaling pub rock version of Blue Moon. Fifth his manager wears a beret type effort, which is a completely wanky pose, but I wouldn't say it to his face. Sixth, he has a little disabled kid who watches all his fights and frequently appears in the ring and always sits at his side in post fight interviews. He clearly thinks the world of this kid, so I shouldn't be churlish, but it always strikes me as a bit tacky. Apparently his mom died recently, how would he feel if his hero got badly mashed in the ring? I bet he thinks he's invincible. It will be sad when his dream is shattered.
Anyway, the fight didnt warrant the expenditure on a large bag of crisps, the battle finished way before the crisps did. Smith was outclassed from the first punch and he knew it. Hatton was fearsome. Early in the second, Hatton, in the midst of an onslaught caught Smith with an elbow in the eye before dropping him with some massive body shots. While a mandatory count was going on, Smith's trainer, who is also his dad jumped in the ring and shoved the ref. He then looked like he fancied going a couple of rounds himself. Disqualification for Smith.
Then the real fun started. Jim Watt was apoplectic at the violence on show. The very same Jim Watt who made a good living belting people around the earhole. Barry Mcguigan was appallled at his inability to get a word in edgeways. The funny looking sky boxing dude was no weirder or incomprehensible than usual, though his eyes were madder and starier. Frank Warren was crazy and demanded that the purse was withheld from an entirely blameless Smith, in the process reminding everyone that he is a very shootable geezer.
Then they interviewed the trainer, Darkie Smith. This was brilliant and the likes of which you rarely see. It was completely mad and completely honest. He started by completely dissing the ref, Mickey Vann who was reffing his 100th title fight. He said he was more interested in that fact than anything else and that he was prancing around the dressing room and touching his toes to show how fit he is. He pointed out that Vann had reffed Hattons last 8 fights and made no secret of the fact he thought was a Hatton fan. He completely dissed Warren and said he did not want to remain in boxing while it tolerated people like Warren and Vann. He clearly thought the whole game is fixed. Best of all though, he finished by looking straight at the camera and stating that if he had wanted to hit Vann, he would of, and the pipe cleaner would have been bent. What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Hatton remained fairly dignified through it all. It was the best nights boxing entertainment since Hagler smacked Minter up and caused a riot at Wembley. That last one prompted a letter to the Guardian which said something like " I was appalled while enjoying a quiets night bottle throwing at Wembley to witness the spectacle of 2 grown men getting into a ring and belting the living daylights out of each other"

For the first time ever, after buying thousands of records tapes cds and mds, I was driven to return an album to the shop. I felt really bad about it and was quite sheepish but it had to be done. I went really early and sort of crept apologetically to the counter. It was as if I was telling the teenager behind the counter I hated him personally. For which of course I hated myself. Can I change this it's no good I mumbled. Lets have a look he said taking it out of its case. No I said its in good condition it's just that it is er, a steaming pile of poo. Oh no problem, just get something else. Got the Flaming Lips which I am well on the way to wearing out. Man it was hard.

What are you afraid of?

Charlie is a berk.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Today I bought the Polyphonic Spree. What a pile of chuffin cack.

I suppose I should apologise in advance for the number of Guardian links I will be putting up tonight, which will be excessive even by my standards.
Arundhati Roy on capitalism and war, seriously good stuff.

James Brown revisits the streets of his boyhood


The friday five:
1. What are your favorite ways to relax and unwind?
It's a good question but could take all night to answer, so I will just put the first couple of things that come into my head. Booze, obviously, although it is disinhibiting rather than relaxing, but it helps you escape from the aggravations of the day, like being either completely ignored or treated with contempt by your immediate line managers. My Mrs has the warmest, most loving arms you can imagine and there is no better place to unwind than wrapped up in them. Playing football in the garden with the nippers. Arsing about in the kitchen. Giving some gym equipment some stick. Getting stuck into a really good book, although finding one you can completely lose yourself in isn't easy. Drugs. (joke)

2. What do you do the moment you get home from work/school/errands?
Put the key in the door and turn it. Jesus. I almost always have some shopping, so put that away. Tidy up the breakfast stuff. Make the eldest, who I collect, his tea. Then rush out again to get him to Beavers or Karate or Football, or whatever else he is up to on that day. Cook tea, arse about with other two, collect first one, arse about some more. Kick cat. Blog.

3. What are your favorite aromatherapeutic smells?
This will have to be general aromas. Vanilla. Bread (I make my own every day). Fresh coffee. The armpits of Mrs Buddha. The babbies head. Onions at a football ground. Tar. Sunday dinner. Glue. Grass. That ozoney thing after rain on a summers day.

4. Do you feel more relaxed with a group of friends or hanging out by yourself?
By myself really. Its that old Steven King thing about never having friends as good as the ones you had when you were 10. I had friends I could totally feel at ease with, but we all moved on. Now it all requires effort, even with people you know well. By myself I can do what I want, think what I want, drink what I want, blog what I want. In theory.
I am rarely alone for more than 5 chuffin minutes and even that is stressful what with wondering what little drama is going to present itself next, or what mayhem the littlest nipper is causing.

5. What is something that you feel is relaxing but most people don't?
The sound of a motorway at night.

Pull my finger

Bloody hell, I hope my employers don't come across this poo costings calculator, or my wages will go down the pan.

The Bluetitch 1
1: Are you coming to Brum this week?
No I am chuffin skint and football at 5.30 pm can fuck off, I wouldn't get home before ten and I want to be getting into the drink well before then on a chuffin Saturday. It's interesting to note that despite the pre season hype tickets have been available for every game so far, including Villa, and that's while we are doing ok. Once Cisse, Purse and Savage get themselves senselessly banned and we have a slump they will be offering us non season ticket holders money to make the ground look full. As I predicted at the time I will probably see more games than some season ticket holders, but still be regarded as disloyal.
She must be worn out. Poor old dear can only think of one.

I am beginning to tire of Christopher Hitchens and his warmongering cod outrage. I think in time, unless he turns completely, just like his brother, he will discover that he needs The Nation more than The Nation needs him.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Guardian announces it's weblog competition winners.

Jeffrey Archer once again behaves as if the rules that everyone else must abide by do not apply to him. I wonder if the "top tories" who hosted this champagne party think other offenders would benefit from the same sort of rehabilitation. Chuffin hypocrites. Anyone know how to spell schadenfreude?

No opportunity to big up Brum should ever be passed over.

Haruki Murakami interviewed in Village Voice.
And Salon
Some very good bits and pieces, with links
Unofficial Murakami website.

The Atlantic has been pondering what happens when Saddam is defeated and asks is the US prepared for a long occupation? Would Iraq become a giant US base? It's interesting and intriguing stuff.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

In over 10 years of marriage I have been unable to figure out my Mrs and her obsession with eating cold leftovers. Now I know.


The Booker prize shortlist.Somehow I don't think Waterstones staff need worry about being killed in the rush.
Extracts here.
Apparently, the Booker has dumbed down a bit this year with the judges deciding that high brow or difficult just isn't the thing.Truly the terrorists have won.
An interview with Jonathan Franzen on the subject of difficult novels.

A very provocative article on recent events in Hebron from a Jewish newspaper.

Casualties of Bush the Elders Gulf war

Almost forgot it's National Road Safety Week.

Finally, at last, Aki has updated. He is still having trouble with his dates though, and the truth is, it's hardly a classic.

Some iconic photos of the sixties by Fred Mcdarrah. (via mefi)

Monday, September 23, 2002

Free football manager game

Interview with Steve Earle

Steve Bruce blames card happy referees for the Blues disciplinary problems. Fair enough, Andy Durso, who reffed Saturdays game is a prize pillock but for us to have possibly our three most influential players on 10 bookings between them already is insane. Savage has 3 already despite being banned for the first two games and Purse is on 4, though that could be worse as he should have been sent off against the Villa. Cisse is very robust and will pick up cards but 3 at this stage is far too many.
Clint Mathis the American golden boy has been ordered to see a psychologist by his manager after persistent disciplinary problems and he seems to have agreed with equanimity. Bruce should insist on the same for our boys, they are pivotal to us and we run the risk of pointlessly losing all 3 at the same time. The loss of Grainger has already made us look a bit threadbare at the back, so it's not as if we can afford to lose any of them. They don't need to lose their aggression, they need to channel it more positively, and Savage in particular needs to learn how to smile and walk away from provocation. If the silly sod had a haircut it might help, at least he wouldn't be drawing attention to himself. It's as though he sets himself up for the boo boys and uses that as a stimulous. Very flawed thinking.

Our sonofabitch, the charmers most favoured by the US to take over from Saddam.

Jesus H Chuffin Christ On A Bleeding Bike. Yet another life expectancy quiz. This one from the New Scientist tells me I only have a measly 25 years left. Good job it's all cobblers.

American Girls. Brilliant, if infantile.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sand Art. Very soothing.

It is a bit difficult to know what to make of Cosmic Baseball, other than that is fantastic. It doesn't seem to have much to do with baseball, but it does have information and links to all sorts of esoteric people and websites, I could spend almost as much time there as I did on sand art.

Back in the eighties there was a genuinely popular revolution in Nicaragua. Almost immediately it became a nation of poets and artists, literacy rates shot up, infant mortality rates dropped dramatically. It offered a way forward to many other, similar economies.
The US wasn't having any of it though, the tiny country was setting a bad example to others, who might also wish to educate their people and provide them with healthcare. It funded and trained a guerilla army well versed in dirty tricks and general mayhem. Finally the Sandinista's were elected out by a population weary of sanctions and war. There then started a period of tragic decline,with Nicaragua now poorer than any other nation bar Haiti. To find out that the last, US backed president fleeced the country to the tune of 100 million dollars doesn't make me angry, I'm too long in the tooth for that. It makes me incredibly sad though, for what might have been.


Prince Charles has written to Tony Blair complaining that farmers suffer more discrimination (Sunday Times link) than blacks and gays. Well we know the royal family are very, very thick, it seems they are also absolutely barking. God give me chuffin strength.

Yoga for nippers, it would be a miracle if I could get my 3 to sit still long enough to watch this.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Bugger! I hope no one noticed the deliberate mistake. Too late to edit now.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Came across a link to a virtual race track today but got fed up waiting for it to load. Went arse racing instead.

Happy birthday friday 5:
1. Would you say that you're good at keeping in touch with people?
No, bloody hopeless, then years later think, it would be nice to have a tot with so and so....too late.

2. Which communication method do you usually prefer/use: e-mail, telephone, snail mail, blog comments, or meeting in person? Why?
Osmosis. At work I am a frequent victim of phone rage, although it is possible to have a laugh even with people you haven't met. On balance though, the phone is my enemy. Meeting in person is ok but fraught with hazard for misanthropes such as myself. Tonight I met someone shopping for the second week running. This person is harmless enough but he is work related, so now I will have to change my shopping habits . E. mail is best, short sharp to the point with no waffle or bullshit.

3. Do you have an instant messenger program? How many? Why/why not? How often do you use it?
I do, I have 1. I use it most days, never let it be said I am an old fogey.

4. Do most of your close friends live nearby or far away?
I have no friends.

5. Are you an "out of sight, out of mind" person, or do you believe that "distance makes the heart grow fonder"?
Depends on my alcohol intake.

Talking of arses, the landed gentry and Tory muppets who make up the Countryside Alliance have been gettin massive coverage in the print and broadcasting media this week. Complete overkill in fact. I haven't been able to drive down the any local road without being assailed by massive banners urging everyone to march for liberty and livelihood. It would be nice to be at liberty to roam the hundreds of thousands of acres that a small minority of these jokers own, but they won't allow it, despite being almost entirley funded by the state. Bastards.
Of course the boys of Eton and Harrow have been granted the day off to attend. I hope our comprehensives are as accommodating at the next stop the city do. This is class war, pure and simple and those chinless wonders are taking us all for mugs, or trying to. No doubt it will be reported as a great victory when they bring London to a halt on a working day. Its the rich wot gets the pleasure and all that.
It's not often I agree with Polly Toynbee but she has it about right, notwithstanding her support for terrorising and mutilating defenceless animals.

Apropos of nothing:
Mushroom, Leek and Chickpea Burgers
450g chestnut or closed cap mushrooms
1 medium leek
2 tbsp light oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 and a half tsp ground cumin
1 and a half tsp ground coriander
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and black pepper
2-3 tbsp oil for frying
chop the mushrooms finely by hand or in a food processor. (If using a food processor, do this in batches.) Trim the leek and cut in half horizontally, then slice thinly. Heat the oil and cook the mushrooms and leek for 5 minutes until soft, then stir in the garlic and spices and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until any liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. The mixture should be as dry as possible.

3. Crush the chickpeas roughly with a fork or pulse in a food processor. Place in a bowl and add the mushroom mixture. When cool enough to handle, shape into 8 burgers. If you have time, place on a plate in the fridge to firm up ? this will help them hold together better for frying.

4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and gently lay the burgers in the pan. You will have to do this in batches, depending on the size of the pan, adding more oil as needed and keeping them warm while you fry the next batch. They fall apart easily so the important thing is NOT to poke them with the spatula or palette knife until they have cooked for 4-5 minutes and have formed a crust on the bottom. Gently turn them over and fry the other side for another 3-4 minutes, trying not to move them too much.

An alternative friday five, courtesy of Bluetitch:
1) What is the song/tune that means the most to you and why.
2)Have you ever been in love?
3)What attracts you most in another and why?
4)What physical thing do you hate most about women and why?
5)Have you ever cried after reading a book and what was it?

1) at this precise moment it's "Cool Cool Water" by the Jayhawks because it's lovely and I have just this minute listened to it. But it's more complicated than that. "The Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric" is marvelous and sums it all up. Me and my Mrs would caper about to it when we first met even though it was already about 10 years old by then. Anyway every time I hear it now I melt. Then there is "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" which just about killed me the first time I heard it. Knocked me down dead. To be honest I had been bit of a reluctant punk, walking around in torn paint splattered work clothes rather than look the stereoypical part, trying to explain EATER were not better but different. White man blew all that nonsense away, made punk respectable, by which I mean I was happy to be back in the mainstream, in the warmth of the mainstream where it is safe. This is a question that will change by the minute, but White Man is the one I think, it defines me.

2) I have been in love and I am in love. I am a lucky man. Even now after ten years the thought of Mrs Buddha puts my belly in knots.
Then there is the kids, which is a whole new scenario. And the Blues. And Bob Hatton.

3) A fairly easy one by the standards of Bluetitch. Heart soul and passion. The ability to feel.

4) At the risk of sounding like a berk, there is nothing I hate about women.

5) Many times. Most recently Cutter and Bone which is chuffing tragic and bears repeated readings. Captain Corellis Mandolin, but not the end which is poxy, and another De Bernieres thing but I can't remember which one. Bukowski on turning 43 is a bit moistening too. There are loads really.

Thats that for the ,Bluetitch 5 which was 10 really, at least. Questions, questions, questions.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Homeless Guy. I am not sure if this fellow is for real. It's a bit po faced really, but that's to be expected I suppose. Gives pause for thought, though.

Find the Terrorist
Covert Ops

Big Pussy and Flatulence. A New York Times piece on The Sopranos and academia.
Lengthy but excellent article on the Sopranos from the Nation

The short list shortlist. This is much better than a list, as well as the shortlist it has commentary on the artists and links to their websites plus recommendations to similar artists. As to the actual list, my vote (if I had one) goes to Bjork

The Village Voice on Steve Earle

Opposition to war seems to be growing in the US. Here are the demographics.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Following our glorious 3-0 victory over the Villa last night the knee jerk moralists have been out in force. After each goal some Blues fans ran on the pitch and danced about a bit. After the second, hilarious goal, one Blues fan got in the goalies face somewhat and danced about giving him the wanker sign before gently patting him on the cheek. Message boards and radio and television phone in programmes ahave been full of the holy telling the nation we should have points docked, or play behind closed doors, or have a massive fine imposed. Absolute cobblers, all of it.
You cannot blame the club because some unfortunate people have an inability to disport themselves in an appropriate manner. The "invasions" were all good natured and celebratory in nature, no violence was ever threatened, except by Villa fans who tried a less than good natured invasion of their own, after the first goal. The Enkleman baiter is a prize pillock, who should be easy enough to identify, at which point the legal system can deal with him.
But really, who could give a shit? It was nothing, at worst a little unedifying. What has the game come to when it cannot cope with such incidents in a passion filled and historic game without resorting to pious outrage? Much as I dislike that fan and what he did (Enkleman deserves sympathy and respect) I will vote for him in the BBC's fan of the month poll, as a mark of my outrage at the game being overtaken by whinging middle class ninnies. Christ, 20 years ago we would have had mass brawls on the terraces and little would have been made of it.
I was lying about Enkleman deserving respect, He plays for the Villa for gawds sake, he deserves opprobrium just for that!
One further point. Which was worse for the kiddies to witness, a daft Blues fan acting the goat or the Villa manager, Graham Taylor, and his assistant screaming obscenities in a most aggressive fashion at the linesman. BAN THEM NOW! I say.

What war looks like

Monday, September 16, 2002

Not much time for blogging today, what with work and the big game.
Our little local contretemps pales into absolute insignificance however if we stop to consider yet another grim September anniversary.

Bloody Chuffin Bleedin Nora!! That was almost worth waiting 16 years for. Not only did we moida da bums, they conceded what was definitely the funniest goal ever. I don't know when I will stop laughing.

Highly amusing Guardian commentary. (amusing in itself, regardless of the result)
BBC report
Independent report
Telegraph report
Guardian report
Times report

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Some recent images of New York

A memoir of a love affair with New York.

Bombing history of the US since WW2 (courtesy of New Internationalist)
China 1945-46, 1950-53
Korea 1950-53
Guatemala 1954, 1960, 1967-69
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-61
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Lebanon 1983-84
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Bosnia 1985
Sudan 1998
Former Yugoslavia 1999
Iraq 1991-20??
Afghanistan 1998, 2001-02

Another life expectancy thing. This one tells me I will live to be 78, which is ok by me. It also points out that I have far more behind me than I do in front of me, which is a bit depressing, I suppose. May as well chuck meself in the cut.

St Mirren Syndrome: a good Times article on supporting Portsmouth. Mark Burchill gets a mention. I was reading it , thinking, it's just like supporting the Blues, when it mentioned their goalie in the sixties, who used to black his eyes up. Just like Jim Herriot, who played every single game for us in the 1966-7 season, the year I first started going, and my life expectancy started to diminish.

I started reading Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard the other night. I felt a bit uneasy about it as it dealt with the genocide in Rwanda. Now I don't think thriller writers should be excluded from exploring big themes, James Lee Burke and George P Pelecanos sort of do it in their differing ways, quite succesfully. It's not what you expect from Leonard though; brilliant as he is, he writes entertainments Then I came across this in the New York Times.
I think old Elmore can wait, there has been far too much to think about this week. I will start another Evanovich.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Monday 16 September. Sounds innocous enough I suppose, But it won't be if you are in the vicinity of Small Heath. Passion will be high and by 9.45ish one side of the city will be experiencing absolute joy while the other will be in the depths of despair.
Blues v Villa. I cannot wait. Really, I cannot wait. I am worse than a child waiting for Christmas, worse than a teenager spurned in love for the first time. I can think of nothing else. I cannot clear my mind. It's been a long wait and we are going to chuffin moida da bums. You read it here and I wouldn't tell a lie
Make sure you don't over emote in the vicinity of parrotts.

Any reasonable person knows that the new national stadium should have been sited in Birmingham, even before Wembley started to embarrass the nation (repeatedly) everyone knew that. Any rational person knew that whatever ministers of state said publicly, the stadium would be built in the hell hole that is North London, so the nation at large is denied access to the Brummie institution that is the Balti Pie. Worse, it looks like we will be denied any kind of pie. Not that I will be going anywhere near the place. Long live the peoples game.

Some cool games here

A years worth of miserable looking chuffers photographed at Marble Arch.

In honour of Bluetitch, the friday five:
1. What was/is your favorite subject in school? Why?
I went to school in a large comprehensive in the seventies. Education had nothing to do with it. I learnt to be streetwise and trust no one. Thats it. No subject had any relevance whatsoever.
2. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Miss Hollows. Saucy little bleeder.
3. What is your favorite memory of school?
Leaving it.
4. What was your favorite recess game?
In the first year it was winding up the 5th years. They would beat the crap out of us but many of them were terrified to walk the corridors on their own. An early lesson in the power of the collective. As we got older it was generally hanging around the wall, smoking and trying to look cool or hard or both. Trying on each others crombies and budgie jackets. And patchwork jumpers for christs sake!
From the first year to the last, in the dinner hours we would go into Harborne to the rumbletum for chips. The Chinese across the road was Harborne Hill territory. Someone, usually John Maleady or John Downes would go in and advise them they were wankers. Then there would be a mass brawl. Occasionally we would fight Lordswood instead. If we were feeling brave or foolhardy, or if one of our nutters ( of which there were many) ordered us, we go the other way to Selly Oak boys and take them on. Good practice for Monday night.
5. What did you hate most about school?
I didn't really go often enough to hate it. Looking back I loved every minute of it. And the quote at the end of "Stand By Me" to the effect that you never had better friends than when you were ten is very true. (poetic licence I met my school mates aged 11, still love every one of them)

Robert Fisk seems to be getting more and more outraged about the Iraq situation. He is eloquence itself, however.

Blues reject Lee Sharpe, talks to the Observer. It's all a bit sad really.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Head Tennis

The Wheel of Life

"The First Noble Truth was confirmation of something I already believed.
The world was not a good place.

Images of fire escapes. Beautiful stuff.

The La Times on blogs

A short story by Sam Shepard

Sammy "the bull" Gravano grassed John Gotti in order to save his own sorry hide, as everyone knows. He was set up in Arizona where he should have seen his life out in peace, but he couldn't do it. Now he is facing 20 years. This has not stopped him attempting to profit from his past misdemeanours by writing a book. Some of his victims relatives have other ideas though.
He really doesn't seem to be a very nice man at all.

Pulp Simpsons

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Bugger me! An equaliser in the 4th minute of injury time, these things don't happen to us, it should be the other way round.
I'm beginning to thing we belong.
Independent report
Times report
Guardian report
Telegraph report

Lots of Tenacious D videos from (mefi)

Rambling Round: good stuff on Woody Guthrie

A very interesting piece from The New York Review of Books on Georges tendency to do his own thing when it comes to matters international.

America gets gentle . Satire is dead.

Someone asked me if I had any ideas for a low fat, high fibre pudding a nipper could make in school. Bleeding Bloody Nora, low fat isn't really my forte. Anyway, I can't vouch for the flavour of these but they probably fit the other requirements:
Apple and Pear Crumble
8oz sliced apples
8oz sliced pears
grated rind of a lemon
Half teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
30z muesli
1oz porridge

cook the fruits,flavourings, water and honey on low heat till softened. Mix topping ingredients. Chuck fruit into some sort of oven proof receptacle, top with topping, bung in oven heated to 190c for about 15 minutes. Serve with creme freche, or yoghurt, or some other low fat thing. When lesson over go get a great big fuck off ice cream, covered in sauce and nuts.

I used to make this for the nippers when they were babies, it's not bad.
Banana and Apricot Yoghurt
4oz dried apricots chopped really small
10 oz low fat yoghurt
1 banana.
You should really mix yoghurt and apricots and chill overnight, but I don't suppose it matters.. When ready to serve slice banana and mix in in then distribute evenly, unless someone has been really good then they can have less. The beauty of this is you can put it together in 5 minutes flat then spend the rest of the time arsing about. A bit of honey might be nice.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Rolling Requiem

September 1, 1939
W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-Second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each langauge pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons should
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow,
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Last Words

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

How to get the nippers to eat healthy. Hmmm, maybe.
I explained very carefully to the eldest, 7 year old nipper the other week that the bright red colour in his sweets came from crushed cockroaches. "Really" ? he asked, full of awe. "Really" I declared, full of certainty. "COOL" he declaimed, reaching for another fizzy strawberry lace.

The High Line is a stretch of disused elevated track in Manhattan which some people are trying to preserve. Fortunately for those of us who like our Americana, there are some stunning pictures in the gallery. (via mefi)

Looks like I should make good use of the next 8 years.

Just another day in North Jersey.

Life in New York

Hold The Button

Some interesting thoughts on Islam.

Christopher Hitchens continues to talk tough. Brilliantly.

Lots of very moving stuff from The New York Times.

Fisk on Bush and colonialism

One year on in Afghanistan.

A Japanese viewpoint, one year later.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Chomsky on swamps and mosquitoes

It's not all war and chuffin chick peas. There is also Bowies Memories of a Free Festival, as performed at Glastonbury by 1 Giant Leap, with an all star cast of collaborators. Sort of.
You can download an entire Radiohead gig here, if you are so inclined.

It's not often we here anything from Laura Bush. She has popped up recently though telling American parents not to let their nippers watch coverage of the events of 9/11 last year. Read a book instead she says, well that's always good advice. With a bit of luck George might try it.
George takes after his mum, apparently. She is a real charmer.
Georges diary.

I was quite sad to notice today that Frank Keating has written his last column for the Guardian. It was Keating and to a lesser extent Michael White who first got me hooked on the Guardian about 20 years ago. His style was really essence of Guardian: knowledgable, witty, incredibly well written, and most of all fun. You always got the sense with him that he knew he had a brilliant job and he was bloody well going to enjoy it, he has been a pleasure to read. Hopefully, like Nancy Banks Smith he will appear regularly despite having retired. His book Band of Brothers on the England rugby team is something of a neglected classic and well worth getting hold of. I think he wrote a celebrated account of an England cricket tour to India as well, but I might be wrong.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

As far as I am concerned, you can never have enough chick pea recipes, although personally I would add a pinch of cumin to the hummous recipe .
More from Nigel Slater
Recipes from Egypt, where they are partial to a chick pea or three.

LA Times article wondering why more Americans don't visit Girona in Northern Spain. Given that thousands of Brits pass through its airport I wonder why more don't spend some time there. It is a beautiful city. I once stopped exhausted at a cafe, on a Ramblas type place and asked for the menu. I was informed the kitchen didn't open for a couple of hours, but if I liked they would knock us up some tapas. We agreed, 5 minutes later we were presented with plates of all sorts of hot and cold tapas, all of which was delicious and it cost pennies. In Britain we would have been lucky to get a bag of scratchings.

Abebooks now has a UK site.

I was only thinking this morning that I would have to be careful which sites I browse now the Sopranos is back on in the US. Last time round I got hit by a pretty big spoiler. So what did I do when I saw a New York Times article on the programme? I clicked.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

It doesn't take a genius to work out that the fresh produce sold to us in supermarkets is tasteless, homogenised crap. This article goes some way to explaining why. It doesn't explain how our local Sainsburys in Cwmbran never has any mushrooms or bananas you would actually buy. Brown, mottled smelly things they are, a street market would knock big bags of them out for next to nothing. While I am at it you can't get courgettes or aubergines that aren't soft and pulpy either, in fact the whole fruit and veg department is an insult to fruit and veg everywhere. Milk from that store always goes off well in advance of its sell by date too.

Some fantastic images of New York and Chicago. (via mefi)

Why worry, when you can play air hockey. I thought I was good at it, but I'm not. I'm crap.

My Mrs has been driving me barmy these last few weeks with endless requests to remove spiders from the house. She reckons they are bigger in both size and number than they have ever been. Well, bugger me she is right.

Fray has some diverting stuff on it.

It appears that Saddam has learnt his lesson from the last war, whatever happens, it will be messy.

History of the World Trade Centre. (Definitely worth registering with New York Times)

Friday, September 06, 2002

Should anyone need me next week, here is my schedule

Two of the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence murder are to serve a minimum of nine months each for a racially motivated attack. Despite the sentence being 6 months less than the maximum, they are bleating about its severity. Poor wee dabs.

War with Iraq is absolutely inevitable, a U.S victory isn't. In a large scale rehearsal, the U.S lost, although they deny it is of any significance.

Babies in incubators. A timely and important article from Christian Science Monitor.
Christopher Hitchens writes very thoughtfully, but still hankers after war.
According to this Independent article, a high ranking Taliban official sent warnings to US "intelligence" and the UN prior to the plane attacks. No one seems to dispute it, and warning fatigue is somewhat airily blamed. In my profession people are regularly and routinely sacked for events they could have no control over, whether or not they had warnings. "Colleagues" from related disciplines always get away scot free. My point being that blase notions of warning fatigue make me feel very fucking nauseous. Why else do these "intelligence" bods exist if not to sort the wheat from the chaff?

I can barely believe it, I keep getting a pop up inviting me to buy a Sainsburys mobile!

I keep meaning to ask my gaffer where she has parked her broomstick

There has been a disappointing shortage of lists this week so I shall start my own.
Ragamuffin pointed the cyber Blues fans to this motorcycle funeral site. This got me thinking about all sorts but mostly about my top ten iconographic motorcycle images.
1: Mickey Rourke:Rumblefish, he may not appear on a bike but still...
2:Marlon Brando: The Wild One, obviously.
3: Steve Mcqeen: The Great Escape, how else would he have got a Prefab Sprout album named after him.
4:Frank Spencer
5:Jasper Carrott (me mum won' t let me fix it in the kitchen)
6:er..I'm stuck

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The Guardian today had an article on online cookery sites, one of which was Raymond Blanc. I visited and was delighted to find he has a searchable database of over 5000 recipes. Did a quick search on pork and of course there were loads. Randomly clicking though I found a pork and potato thing that didn't contain potatoes and ingredients for other recipes included tinned condensed tomato soup and a packet of minestrone soup mix. I am not convinced that these are genuine Blanc recipes.

A night with an LAPD cop.

A bit more Americana

This site is a thing of great beauty really. It consists of loads and loads of texts, including Conrad, Chandler, and Marquez among a very great deal more. Chuffing brilliant, and it's all free.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

This morning I had a bill from Sainsburys mobile for line rental. This is for a phone that stopped working 4 months ago. I have encounterted the 8th circle of hell trying to reach the call centre, I have sent snail mail with a copy of the engineers report, I have e mailed them. Not one reply, but they still manage to send bills out. I used to spend around 200 quid a week in Sainsburys but now it all goes to Morrisons. So they lose about 800 quid a month because of their venality and tardiness. It doesn't make economic sense to me, but what would I know?

John Otway last had a hit 25 years ago. His fans have determined that for his 50th birthday he will have another hit. He is a true maverick who has kept going year after year, I really hope he gets that hit, he deserves it.
Interview with Otway.
Photos of Otway.
A couple of MP3s
( courtsey of Ragamuffin)

A photo essay on Hebron

Another link nicked from plep. This one is the website of the number 50 bus route in Birmingham, it's a real nostalgia trip for me. I was born in Balsall Heath and lived in just about every other place on there. I doubt that there is a pub in Mosely I havent been chucked out of at one time or another. Digbeth I have spent many a drunken night in and still wax nostalgic as I walk through it on the way to the Blues. Then there is the city centre, best forgotten!

Interesting article on reality TV

My eldest discovered Roald Dahl over the summer holidays, which is good news for me. Interrobang has started a Dahl related thread on MetaFilter. As you would expect it contains many links; this one being the most intriguing

Sachin Tendulkar will become the youngest player to participate in 100 test matches tomorrow. Here is a Times of India article on the little fella.
Loads more on cricinfo
The Hindustan Times has plenty to say also.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Joe Pantoliano who plays Ralph Cifaretto in the Sopranos has written a book. It seems he has much to write about. I like a guy with a hinterland.
Talking of the Sopranos, a clip from the upcoming series can be found here. Upcoming in the US that is.

Chuck Woodbury travelled around the west of the US looking for stories, and he found them, in spades. (via plep)

Nicky Campbell is a presenter on the BBC. He was a radio 1 DJ and a game show host but has reinvented himself as the voice of the nation, quite successfully too it has to be said. Richard Littlejohn is a classic, rabid, right wing tabloid journalist. Will Self is an intellectual with a sneery tone and opinions that are probably to the left, but he is a bit of an iconoclast. When the 3 met on Campbells radio show, sparks flew, hilariously. (via popism).
You can read a review of Littlejohns novel here.
You can punch him here.

Six premiership managers will have to undertake a coaching course, unless they have ten years management experience. I find it astonishing that even now, people have to be persuaded of the benefits of having a sound theoretical knowledge. The new Pro Licence is to become mandatory yet only 5 current managers possess it. It's a bit sad but all too predictable that Blues very own Steve Bruce is the most unqualified manager in the division. I wonder what happens if anyone fails?

Monday, September 02, 2002

Generally, I find the "Independent" to be a bit of a humourless rag, although it's not all bad. Its Blues match reports, however, are consistently astute. Although this one contains some glaring errors. I like the Guardian report too. May as well stick the Times report up while I am it. And the Telegraph. The local press is beside itself (courtesy of Ragamuffin), unless it is the local press in Yorkshire, of course.

Interesting Times piece on the Keane shenanigans
More on the same from the Telegraph.

Time for another Wilco link, I think, this one about the movie.