Monday, March 31, 2008

Everybody knows I'm here

Myself: Gypsy woman told my momma
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: Before I was born
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: You got a boy-child comin'
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: Gonna be a son-of-a-gun
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: Gonna make these pretty women
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: Jump and shout
Prodnose: dunu dunu nu

Myself: And the world will only know, a-what it's all about! Y'know I'm here. Everybody knows I'm here. And I'm the hoochie-coochie man. Everybody knows I'm here.

Prodnose: Do you feel better for that?
Myself: Much better thanks.

Prodnose: Everyone knows you're here now.
Myself: I guess so. Hello everybody.

Prodnose: And?
Myself (conspiratorially): Did I ever tell you I got a black cat bone?

Prodnose (wearily): Many, many times.
Myself: I got a mojo too. I got John the Conqueror, I'm gonna mess with you ..........

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Here at A Welsh Born Icon, we are all about David Mamet. I've bunburied along to "Sexual Pervisity in Chicago" and "Speed the Plough" in the theatre, and was, as I recall, the only person in the entire world who enjoyed "We're no Angels". I was therefore thrilled to read:

The Tribeca Film Festival today announced that the drama Redbelt, written and directed by David Mamet, will have its world premiere at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, presented by American Express. Redbelt will also serve as the Gala premiere of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Redbelt, a Sony Pictures Classics presentation, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga and Tim Allen. The premiere will take place on Friday, April 25. The Festival will run from April 23 through May 4.

"Mamet has a brilliant voice," said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host the premiere of his latest film Redbelt at this year's festival, where it will also be the gala of the ribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival."

"I am a fan of both the fight film and the samurai film. Redbelt is my homage to both. I hope you enjoy it," said David Mamet.

"We are pleased to be the Gala Premiere of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. ESPN is the right fit for the world of mixed martial arts that David Mamet has brought to the big screen," said Michael Barker, Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics Redbelt tells the story of Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the chief instructor at the Southside Jiu-jitsu Academy. Although a talented fighter, he refuses to compete in professional bouts: "Competition weakens the fighter." Instead, he trains dedicated students in the art of self-defense: bodyguards, cops, and soldiers. At his brother-in-law's club one evening, Mike saves famous action star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) from a severe beating. His defense of Frank leads to a job in the film industry, but other events conspire to force Mike to participate in a prize fight. An American samurai film set in the world of mixed martial arts, David Mamet's Redbelt is a story about the limits of a single man's integrity. Written and directed by David Mamet, Redbelt is produced by Chrisann Verges. The film will be released in New York and LA on May 2nd, and nationally on May 9th.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Randy Couture in the same film. How's that for grabbing the zeitgiest by the throat? I hope in gets into theatres here.

That said, I think this quote is pretty much baloney:

He said that the training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for "Redbelt" helped him prepare for Othello."
"Because they are submission bouts in Jiu-jitsu," he said today when he came by the MPR studios. "There is no time limit, so if you go into the ring with an opponent, nobody knows how long the contest is going to last."
Ejiofor says he learned how to conserve energy, and then use it in short bursts, which was vital for the Othello run where they were doing 8 shows a week.
"You'd literally be cleaning off the blood and then you'd be going back to put the first act costume on. It was kind of insane," he laughed. "So the thing that I took through was it was all about endurance, and all of Jiu-Jitsu is about endurance, about being able to train your body to withstand."

BJJ is still unlikely to be on the curriculum at RADA any time soon I think.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I've got interested in Mixed Martial Arts lately (probably because of the influence that Muay Thai has had on it) and I've never embedded Google Video in the blog before. That is why you have the latest edition of "Inside MMA" above.

For all that the Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice double act reminds me of Fred Willard and Jim Piddock in "Best in Show" it's actually pretty entertaining.

With regards to the Mixed in Mixed Martial Arts, I did judo as a kid so I recognised o goshi, ude garami, and juji gatame among the techniques employed in the clips of tattooed men in shorts beating each other up.

Answers on a postcard if you can do the same.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've finally found episode 10 of the Contender Asia online at

While we are on the subject of the manly arts let me introduce the deeply wonderful, and apparently genuine Bartitsu.

How a Man may Defend Himself against every Form of Attack
By E.W. Barton-Wright
(Originally published in Pearson’s Magazine, March edition, 1899)

BEFORE proceeding to give my readers any particulars and explanations of the art of self-defence, perhaps it will not be out of place to make a few introductory remarks as to the conception of self-defence as generally understood by other nations.

In foreign countries people never fight for amusement or diversion, as is often the case in England and the United States. Bearing this fact in mind, it will be more easy to understand that when foreigners fall out and fight, they recognise one goal only, and that is to overcome and defeat their adversaries, and any means is considered justifiable and is resorted to, to attain this end.

Of course, what constitutes honour in this sense is entirely a matter of early training and education. In this country we are brought up with the idea that there is no more honourable way of settling a dispute than resorting to Nature’s weapons, the fists, and to scorn taking advantage of another man when he is down.

A foreigner, however, will not hesitate to use a chair, or a beer bottle, or a knife, or anything that comes handy, and if no weapon is available the chances are he would employ what we should consider are underhanded means. It is to meet eventualities of this kind, where a person is confronted suddenly in an unexpected way, that I have introduced a new style of self-defence, which can be very terrible in the hands of a quick and confident exponent.
That's the stuff. Eat your heart out Chuck Liddell.

"Self-defence with a Walking Stick," Pearson's Magazine, February 1901, is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Who could resist method "No. 9. -- A very Serviceable Way to Disable a Taller Man than Yourself when Opposed to Him under Unequal Conditions"?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

YouTube Adsense

AdSense isn't just for ads anymore; it's also a place to get video content for your site -- and earn extra revenue at the same time.
I'm just playing about with this. I wonder what video it will decide is appropriate to the site's content.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
So he could do his job and never shirk.
The Lord gave man an arm of iron-but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
Someone else'll do the blinkin' work!

One of the things I am forever banging on about is the way that services are commoditised on the internet so there is no point in investing in competing with them. If you want to do video just embed YouTube then you can take advantage of stuff like the upgrade described here.

So my Bank Holiday question is "why, 9 to 5, are folks forever busting my balls rather than just listening to me?"

..... it's like my painter friend Donald said to me: "Stick a fork in their ass and turn 'em over; they're done.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hakkar - the god of Blood.

A deadly virtual plague has broken out in the online game World of Warcraft.
In the last week, it added the Zul'Gurub dungeon which gave players a chance to confront and kill the fearsome Hakkar - the god of Blood.
In his death throes Hakkar hits foes with a "corrupted blood" infection that can instantly kill weaker characters.
The infection was only supposed to affect those in the immediate vicinity of Hakkar's corpse but some players found a way to transfer it to other areas of the game by infecting an in-game virtual pet with it.
This pet was then unleashed in the orc capital city of Ogrimmar and proved hugely effective as the Corrupted Blood plague spread from player to player.

The "Corrupted Blood" plague is not the first virtual disease to break out in game worlds. In May 2000 many players of The Sims were outraged when their game characters died because of an infection contracted from a dirty virtual guinea pig.

Reading this, though I'm sniggering, I feel out of touch. I'll have to get my seven year old to explain it.

Gary Gygax, what have you wrought?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Craven Cottaging

I hadn't realised when I signed the New Ninja Bomber up to the half term football skills course run by Fulham FC, that a pair of tickets for a home game were part of the deal, so it was a great surprise when they dropped through the post box.

That is how we found ourselves getting off the tube at Putney Bridge last weekend on our way to see Fulham play Everton in a game that was bound to be full of sturm und drang as Fulham battled relegation and Everton tried to secure a Champions' League place for next season.

Objectively and externally our afternoon might have appeared to consist of several hours of hanging about in the freezing drizzle, but the bomber loved everything about it; he was thrilled by walking down the middle of the road in a throng of people, and by chanting "COME ON FULHAM" and stamping his feet along with the rest of the crowd when we were in the stand. He delighted eating a hot dog at half time, and whenever the spectators rose to their feet during an attack I would pick him up and stand him on the back of the seat in front so that he could see the action from the perspective of a tall grown up.

It is impossible to feel jaded around kids: Fulham 1 Everton 0.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Billy Bricks Delilah

Billy Bricks Delilah - After a few pints he would shuffle up and down the bar singing Tom Jones' Delilah. His leg movements were not unlike Michael Jackson's moonwalk - he was years before his time. Billy was a very skilled bricklayer. When a new court building was being constructed in the town there was only one man who could do the brickwork. However, the contractors had to employ a man just to ensure Billy didn't sneak off to the pub before the end of shift.



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Street Fightin' Man

Myself: Help me pull back the furniture. I've got stuff to strut and lyrics to holler in the studiously loutish affected sarf London drawl of His Satanic Majesty, the Glimmer twin, old no-arse himself, Lord Mick of Jagger.

I think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cause where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's no place for a street fighting man

Prodnose: This is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed, and breaching no confidentiality agreements?

Myself (settling into armchair and lighting pipe): Correct! You know my methods Watson, apply them. You will have observed that the "igh" sound in "street fightin' man" is a curious piece of spelling?

Prodnose: What on earth are you on about now?

Myself: Some of Caxton's typesetters were from Holland, and they introduced Dutch spelling conventions into their work. That is where the ‘gh’ in words like ‘ghost’ comes from as well.

Prodnose: That is of very little interest to me.

HotforWords: No, no it's fascinating.

Myself (peeling raw onion and batting eyelashes furiously): Yes it is Marina, yes it is. How little the world understands us. I think it was Swift who said: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

HotforWords: My poor lamb, how you suffer!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ungallant Calculation

Price to Paul McCartney of second marriage: $1,400 an hour.

Price to Eliot Spitzer of Emperors Club VIP services: $1,000 an hour.

You do the maths.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Celtic Band

Set in Pembrokeshire - whose nightlife appears to be as tame as its landscape is wild - it describes two weeks in the life of Miyuki Woodward, a half-Japanese, half-Welsh lesbian painter and decorator, who is taking her annual holiday in the region.

Miyuki's idea of fun is modest: she goes to the pub, drinks several pints of Brains - a brand of beer, to the uninitiated - and eats disgusting meals of tinned spaghetti and oven chips. Her only companions on her evenings at the Anchor are a trio of local characters known as Tall Mr Hughes, Short Mr Hughes and Mr Puw, and Septic Barry, who services the village's septic tanks. One day, Tall Mr Hughes goes missing. Miyuki decides to look for him. This is as exciting as it gets. Other ripples that disturb the narrative's otherwise placid flow include a weekly pub quiz of striking tedium, a mild flirtation between Miyuki and Septic Barry, and an act of vandalism - or is it conceptual art? - reported in the local press.

"Cross my heart and hope to die", this Welsh slice of life has won the Claire Maclean Prize for Scottish Fiction on the closing night of the Aye Write! Bank of Scotland Book Festival.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro," as the the good doctor used to say.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carry on at your convenience

Minutes before I had to leave for the airport a couple of weeks ago, I pressed the button to flush the toilet, only for something to crack in the mechanism and water to start running continually through the cistern.

All I could think to do was wrench the lid off and tie the valve shut with a bootlace. And that is how the bathroom remained all through our Austrian adventure.

This weekend I took my vandalised handiwork to the nearest plumbers merchants for advice, where much to my joy the guy behind the counter showed me how to disassemble it, sold me a replacement part, and explained how to fit it.

And so it came to pass that I returned home and reassembled the john with a new dual flush valve push button shroud. I very rarely do anything like this and it gave me a quite ludicrous level of satisfaction.

All stand for Burge and Gunson; I am back in business for £9.99 spent on parts when it would have cost £70 just to call out a plumber.

I recommend them to you unreservedly.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Heroes, lots of heroes, dressed in red. This was a day to compare with any in the proud history of a rugby country so tiny in terms of its productive sporting areas that you could almost jog around it. Any doubts that Wales are the best team in Europe, any doubts that they are anything other than an outstanding team in the making, were blown away. In rugby’s greatest stadium, we had one of the grandest Slams.

I'm celebrating Wales' Grand Slam by rolling my sleeves up and hacking embedding IPlayer streaming content from the BBC.

You can view source to see the code. The key is a meta data file

The filename for the xml is the same as the shtml filename on the programme's main web page:

Streaming content will only be available for a week, but what a week it will be.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gentlemen, let's broaden our minds

It is customary to think about fashions in things like clothes or music as spreading in a social network. But it turns out that all kinds of things, many of them quite unexpected, can flow through social networks, and this process obeys certain rules we are seeking to discover. We’ve been investigating the spread of obesity through a network, the spread of smoking cessation through a network, the spread of happiness through a network, the spread of loneliness through a network, the spread of altruism through a network. And we have been thinking about these kinds of things while also keeping an eye on the fact that networks do not just arise from nothing or for nothing. Very interesting rules determine their structure.
A Talk with Nicholas A. Christakis

Friday, March 14, 2008

First As Tragedy, Second As Farce

Nietzsche - as any fule kno - began his career as a philologist before turning to philosophy. Indeed he became Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Basel at the precocious age of 24.

I had a dabble with etymology myself earlier this week.

Meet Marina:
My name is Marina and I am a philologist (the study of linguistics and etymology). I love to discuss the origins of words.

This being the future, other people are also enjoying their fifteen minutes:
The prostitute at the centre of the scandal that brought down the governor of New York state, Eliot Spitzer, has become the most sought after person in the US, with camera crews camped outside her Manhattan apartment and her MySpace page inundated with traffic.
Ashley Youmans' website address was receiving about 1m page impressions an hour yesterday morning, and at midday it was taken down and rebooted to remove her personal account of her life and a recording of one of her songs. The deleted page carried the quotation: "What destroys me, strengthens me."

Nietzschean indeed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I got an email from Andy M - an old friend and colleague from my days in process contracting - yesterday saying that after four years on the Tengiz Field project he's leaving for pastures new. The oil is flowing, and his services are no longer needed.

Look at

The plant he was working on was estimated to turn a profit after costs when oil was $15 a barrel.

It was over $110 last night.

The economic implications are staggering.

SAN RAMON, Calif., Jan 29, 2008 – Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) announced today that its affiliate Tengizchevroil LLP has started up new facilities as part of the first phase of its expansion at the Tengiz Field in Kazakhstan.

This initial expansion of 90,000 barrels per day brings Tengizchevroil’s current capacity to a total of approximately 400,000 barrels per day. Included in the startup is the Sour Gas Injection (SGI) project and the front end of the Second Generation Plant (SGP). SGI reinjects produced sour gas into the reservoir at very high pressures to boost production. SGP was brought up to about one-third of its full capacity and is currently separating the natural gas for injection while also stabilizing and sweetening the crude oil. Once fully operational, SGP is designed to also process sour gas into gas products and elemental sulfur.

The addition of full facilities is projected to further increase daily crude production capacity at Tengiz to 540,000 barrels. Start-up of full facilities is expected during the second half of 2008.

“The successful startup of the first phase of the expansion is a state-of-the-art technological achievement and a demonstration of our ability to execute next-generation, highly complex projects,” said Guy Hollingsworth, president of Chevron Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration and Production. Once at full operating capacity, approximately one-third of the sour gas produced from the expansion is planned to be injected into the reservoir. The remaining volumes will be processed as commercial gas, propane, butane and sulfur.

“This multibillion-dollar SGI/SGP expansion of the world’s deepest producing
supergiant oil field is another step forward in partnering with Kazakhstan
to develop the full potential of the country’s vast energy resources,” said
Jay Johnson, managing director of Chevron’s Eurasia business unit. “We will
continue to grow and modernize the country’s energy sector and generate
economic prosperity.” Chevron has a 50 percent interest in Tengizchevroil.
Other partners are KazMunaiGas, 20 percent; ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Ventures Inc., 25 percent; and LUKArco, 5 percent.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Prodnose: Where does the word widget come from?

Myself: Glad you asked.

Nowadays - as I am very boring - I think of widgets as portable chunks of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation.

So far so good, but I first remember the word from the wonderful 1963 James Garner movie "The Wheeler Dealers". (Here at A Welsh Born Icon we are all about Lee Remick and John Astin and I recommend you check it out.) says, "it might be worth mentioning here that Roald Dahl used the term widget to describe male gremlins in his book The Gremlins back in WWII". (Here at A Welsh Born Icon we are all about Roald Dahl.) says it is a "blend of window and gadget, coined by George S. Kaufman in his play Beggar on Horseback (1924)". (Here at A Welsh Born Icon we are all about George S. Kaufman and especially "The Man Who Came to Dinner".)

Now you know as much as me.

Prodnose: Whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fixed in the Mix

Here's Ray Ozzie on Microsoft's strategy at MIX 8.

I watched the first half hour or so last night. It is great to see announcements like the decision to make SQL server available in the cloud as a service. We've been waiting for that for years.

This post is also my first attempt at embedding Silverlight content.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Two out of three ain't bad

What a weekend it was for Welsh sport!

After beating Ireland on Saturday, Wales take a 100% record to the last game of the Six Nations next weekend knowing that France have to beat us by at least twenty points to win the championship, and that if we beat them we will complete another historic Grand Slam.

Yesterday, I watched Cardiff City storm into the semi finals of the FA Cup for the first time since the 1920s.

The only blot on the landscape was David Haye's defeat of our Enzo Maccarinelli in the cruiserweight world title unification bout in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Tonight, after missing the encounters travelling back from Austria, and courtesy of the internet, I will be watching the boxing and the rugby. That would have been unthinkable a few years ago: Progress indeed.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008


"Mitterer's plays confront human suffering and oppression with an honesty and directness that is often painful for theater audiences. Siberia is a metaphor for survival under the most adverse conditions. This moving monologue represents one old man's struggle for dignity in a retirement home. .....The Austrian playwright Felix Mitterer, born in 1948 in the Tyrol, is one of today's leading contemporary European dramatists."

I'm leaving for Austria this morning, staying here for a week's skiing with the New Ninja Bomber and 25 other friends, so I bunburied along to the Colour House Theatre last night for two hours cheery Austrian drama to get myself in the mood.

Posting to the blog may be light for the next week.