Saturday, August 29, 2009

Carrying On

Shooting Stars is back, and the Bomber and I are off camping with friends for the Bank Holiday weekend, so there will be nothing here from me tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Important Update

I've been following Michael Yon's updates from the ground embedded with UK Forces in Afghanistan.

He tweets:
British MoD playing games after shutting me down. Perhaps they sensed I am
preparing to report that they are underreporting casualties.
See his blogged dispatches as well.

Why doesn't our media seem to be picking this up?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Did You Know?

Hat tip, my brother John.

That video has been watched about six and a half million times. Almost exactly the same number as Dirty Dancing UK - Julia and James First Dance featuring Julia Boggio of who has just taken up residence in the studio below our office.

(I didn't have the foggiest until a client who had come along for a meeting informed us.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Small World

Chatting with Chris Welch last night (who'd been drumming in the trio for Mark's Jimmy Van Heusen show) it gradually dawned on me that he was the Chris Welch of music journalism fame.

Checking my bookshelves when I got in I found that he was indeed the author of Ginger Geezer - The Life Of Vivian Stanshall which I own in (whisper it) hardback.

See Icons passim for my reverence for Mr Stanshall.

If only I'd realised at the time I could have bored Mr Welch to death with interminable quotes from Sir Henry at Rawlinson End and Terry Keeps his Clips On.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on the boulders of giants

Linkblogging last week, I should record that the Bomber had two sessions on the walls at Boulders Climbing Centre in Cardiff while we were there.

It was interesting to see that novice youngsters like him where much better climbers than the more lumbering adolescents. I guess it relates to strength to bodyweight ratio.

(Note to self: is a possibility now we're back.)

P.S. He is on a course at the Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre this week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bora Da, I'm back bach

Dafydd ap Thomas from Glamorgan, walking over London Bridge, was accosted by a sage with a strong Welsh accent, asking him where he had cut his fine hazel staff. From the hill above the farm at home, Dafydd sad. 'Take me there are once', cried the seer, 'brysiwch, hurry, I will show you wonders!' So they travelled back along the drovers' route to South Wales and went to the hillside where the hazel trees grew, and there the wise man disclosed a hidden entrance in the ground, and in they crept, and in a great underground chamber they found a prince and all his warriors, sleeping all in armour beside their weapons. Disturbed by their approach the prince stirred, sprang to his feet with sword in hand and cried 'Does Wales need us? Has the day come?' 'Not yet', replied the sage, 'Sleep on, sleep on': and the two of them tiptoed away again along the tunnel to the secret door, and the prince returned to his rest.

Prodnose: How very boring.

Myself: Sleep on, sleep on.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Direction Home

I know I promised not to tug on your sleeve today, but I popped into the National Portriat Gallery yesterday to see the Dylan exhibition, and was delighted to discover that the photo above shows his Bobness waiting for the Aust Ferry on his way to Cardiff in 1966. You can see the incomplete original Severn Bridge in the background, we'll be motoring over the new one this evening.

(P.S. I ain't gonna by a signed print though. Look at A bit salty eh?)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Keep this frequency clear

I am off to Cardiff with the Bomber after work tomorrow, so I am going to take my customary week off from the blog starting today.

Blogger, Facebook and Twitter will be free from the ceaseless chattering of my ego for seven days.

How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

opening the hand of thought

My invariable morning zazen is disturbed. Incense smoke and koan introspection notwithstanding I can hear the bloody Japanese knotweed growing outside the back door.

It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.

The bomber and I have built a kiln. Any tendril shows a hair on its ass and I incinerate the sonuvabitch.

It can regenerate from 0.7 grammes of rhizome, but I have taken the mantle of a veritable horticultural Ghost Dog:
According to what one of the elders said, taking an enemy on the battlefield
is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it enters into the midst of a thousand
of them, it gives no attention to any bird than the one it first marked.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Remember this

The Bomber has been on a judo course (ten til three, Monday through Friday) for the last couple of weeks with Winston Gordon - semi finalist in the Athens Olympics and current British international. I find this utterly amazing, and want to make sure I don't forget it. Even more amazing is the per diem cost of two quid. His packed lunch costs more than that to assemble.

As I recall, all the members of the moribund el grupo are ex judoka. "The Pyjama Game: A Journey into Judo" is a book to make you fall in love with the sport all over again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mills Slow Grind

The Kentucky Derby Abbey Mills Is Decadent and Depraved Part II

From The Times:
You could call Lindsay Honey an Edinburgh virgin, but that is the only kind of virgin he is. As his alter ego Ben Dover, Honey has appeared in more than 250 pornographic films and — as we go to press — had sex with 1,790 women. This month, though, he will be giving his genitals a well-earned rest and appearing in his own show on the Edinburgh Fringe.

He is quick to make it clear that this time around he is all talk: “I did a warm-up show in London and after 20 minutes two blokes got up and walked out. They thought there was going to be a live sex show, not just me discussing my life. I’m worried that people will see a poster that says ‘Ben Dover Live On Stage’ and get the wrong idea.”
So where would that warm-up show have been then? Yup, AbbeyFest.

Where did I put that disinfectant?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dark Mills

Checking early September in my diary, I see that I have an appointment at home watching television on the fifth so I must regretfully decline our very own local "celebration of the alternative scene in London."

Even the promise of the Sachsgate-notoriety-hoovering Satanic Sluts is unlikely to tempt me from the Fortress of Solitude I fear.

Prodnose: Are you sick of traditional Burlesque with no grit?
Myself: Not really, um, no. To be honest.
Prodnose: Then your wet dreams may have just come true.
Myself: I beg your pardon!
Prodnose: Whether you’re into vampires, robots, zombies, school girls, cheerleaders, cops, or cowgirls, these girls have got it.
Myself: Have you been at the cooking sherry again?
Prodnose: These dangerous beauties specialise in entertaining the darkest side of your soul with a live dance act that gradually decays into a total Blood Bath.
Myself (patience exhausted): Oh, man, I will never forgive your ass for this sh1t. This is some fugged-up repugnant sh1t.
Prodnose: Did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits that he's wrong that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings? Have you ever heard that?
....... NOT TO BE CONTINUED .......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catalan Oath

Reading Robert Hughes' BarcelonaI came across this excellent Catalan oath:
We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign, provided you observe all our liberties and laws, but if not, not.
(“Nós, que valem tant com vós per separat, i junts més que vós, us investim sobirà i us jurem lleialtat per tal que ens protegiu, defenseu i treballeu pel nostre progrés, i si no, no”.)
He also has a chapter called "The Color of a Dog Running Away" (see Icons passim).
One strikingly poetic Catalan phrase evokes the drabness of Barcelona twenty-fice years ago: "color de gos com fuig," "the color of a dog running away" - that is no color, indeteminancy. mud, yet with something unquestionably there.
So now we know the background to the title of Richard Gwyn's book, though I frankly am none the wiser. The meaning of the phrase "the colour of a dog running away" remains as elusive as the colour of a dog running away. Dear me I must be dim.

Monday, August 10, 2009

a snapshot

There is a screen shot above of today's most viewed stories on the Telegraph website.

The first is about mixed martial arts - something I imagined was a minority interest in the UK.

The second is a story from 2007 - that I actually blogged at the time.

Three through five are more like tabloid fodder. The third because it is a follow up to last week's HEROINE OF GREECE IGNITES FLASHER saga, and the next two self evidently so.

Violence, jingoism, sex and pets, in that order. In Britain nothing changes.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

An Elegant Weapon, For a More Civilised Age

Morrissey the Consumer Monkey: No more witnesses your Honour: The prosecution rests.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A clarification

The profit burglar and I were messing around with Spotify last night in the interval in Samara's set at Abbeyfest Jazz, so I have to point out that folk music that has been sproggled to my LastFM account is nothing to do with me.

"The porn and the cocaine are mine officer, but you will have to ask Mr Fright about the Jake Thackray tracks."

Friday, August 07, 2009

“The Sheriff at the Gates: A Farce in Three Acts’’

Act One

(A street in Cambridgeham. Most Exalted University Professor HENRY LOUIS GATES, freshly returned from the Land of the Asian Khan, is rattling the door of his keep. Enter a WENCH.)

WENCH: Alarum! Alarum! A thief is about!

GATES: Peace, ye fat guts!


CROWLEY: Stay, now! Who disturbs our peaceful shire?

GATES: I disturb no man. My key unlocketh not.

CROWLEY: Forsooth, thou breakest and enterest.

GATES (entering his castle): I break not for witless constables. Begone!

CROWLEY: Back speaks no man to the Sheriff; I arrest thee!

GATES: Knowest thou whom I am? That I am coy with the Daily Beastmistress, Milady Tina? That I am most down with Lady Oprah, the Queen of afternoon tele-dalliances? That I am sworn liege to Dr. Faust, of whom Marlowe wrote? That I unravelest literary mysteries at the Greatest University Known to Man?

CROWLEY: Of Tufts you speak? Even so, thou art under arrest.

GATES: Thou detaineth me because I am a Moor!

We could have done this at AbbeyFest's Shakespeare Mash Up Live earlier this week. In which if you were to "GASP as an improvised stage combat sesion goes horribly wrong" you would have been gasping at me.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

UK-London: imprisonment services

I look at Tenders Electronic Daily each day to see if there is any computer work that might be up our alley.

What on earth New Prisons - Design, Build and Operate custodial facilities was doing in "TED | Computer and Related Services | UK: United Kingdom | EN" this morning I can't imagine.

The Ministry of Justice, operating through the National Offender Management Agency wishes to establish a framework agreement for the procurement of custodial facilities through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) using the design, build and operate model. It is anticipated that separate funding competitions will be run for each competition. If appropriate, the Authority may also consider central capital funding should resources be available.

The custodial facilities are needed to enable the Ministry of Justice to meet the requirement to increase the net capacity of the prison estate to a current target of 96 000 places by 2014.
From what we've learned of the moral scruples of financiers lately, why not square the circle by getting the same consortium to design, build, operate and provide the inmates for new prisons?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stella Shouting Contest

At the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival on March 28 2010, the Stella Shouting Contest will take place:

This outrageous contest is technically a Stella/Stanley shouting contest. Sign-up will take place on the upriver side of Jackson Square starting at 4:00 p.m. on the final day of the Festival. The first 25 to sign up get to compete. Contestants must be over 21 years of age and must sign a release form.

Competition takes place right after sign-up. Each entrant competes by calling " "Stella!" (or "Stanley!") three times. Loudness counts, but contestants should also portray Stanley’s angst and emotion. Finalists selected in the outdoor portion of the contest compete on the main stage of Le Petit Theatre for the grand prize. Prizes include bowling passes to New Orleans’ famed Rock-n-Bowl for all participants, Festival "Tenn-abelia," gift certificates for local restaurants and attractions, and the Golden Stella trophies. The Golden Stella statuette holds a large star aloft and is given to the top three winners. Plus there are certificates; what’s not to love?

Genius, see Icons passim.

Also Rachel Weisz is getting rave revues at the moment for a Streetcar revival at the Donmar, and we've still got seven days left to listen to Kwame Kwei-Armah tell the story of playwright Thomas "Tennessee" Williams and exploring the creative influence of his childhood home (BBC IPlayer).

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

(Kind of) Blue Plaque

I haven't been to the Brecon Jazz Festival for donkey's years. (When was it Chris or John?)

It all came flooding back yesterday however when I read about the vote it is sponsoring for the UK's top jazz venue. Among the nominees, I've been to the Bull's Head and Ronnie Scott's loads of times, and used to attend the defunct Hammersmith Palais.

I'm chastened to note that I've never seen music in The Four Bars Inn (now Dempseys), Castle Street, Cardiff, as I'd already flown the coop by 1987.

I'm also pleased to join the general hilarity that has accompanied Buckingham Palace's place in the list.
Buckingham Palace, London, 1919-1932 The palace hosted a series of royal command performances by jazz musicians, starting with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1919.
"The current Queen is not notably musical," sniffs the Guardian, missing an opportunity to mention the IPod that Barack Obama gave her. I thought it was compulsory to include a reference to that device whenever possible in British feature journalism.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Welsh Guards bear brunt as Afghan death toll rises

“Do you think we are winning?”

The Welsh Guardsman was on his stomach with his light machinegun outside Checkpoint 11 when he asked this of the person lying next to him. He listened intently to the open-ended answer and quietly went back to scanning the canal bank for an expected Taleban attack.
The Welsh Guards are in the process of setting up the Welsh Guards Afghanistan appeal. Donations can be sent to Regimental HQ, Welsh Guards, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ. Cheques may be made payable to ‘’The Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal.’

(Three years on from this note, what progress?)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Saturday, August 01, 2009

It pays to increase your word power

In mathematics, a matrix is said to be diagonally dominant if in every row of the matrix, the magnitude of the diagonal entry in that row is larger than or equal to the sum of the magnitudes of all the other (non-diagonal) entries in that row, and if in at least one row of the matrix, the magnitude of the diagonal entry in that row is strictly larger than the sum of the magnitudes of all the other (non-diagonal) entries in that row.
Not the same thing as dominatrix then (for words see Diagon Alley, for wine see Domina).