Monday, November 30, 2009

the old home town looks the same

I went to the Beatles to Bowie exhibition at the NPG yesterday and was very taken with this Tony Frank, 1967 shot of Tom Jones gazing down on Pontypridd.

After that I watched Arsenal versus Chelsea in the pub. Of that, the less said the better.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In taberna quando sumus

For all that it sounds stirring, or even a bit pompous, Carmina Burana is not necessarily about elevated topics. So, as another entry in an emerging series of Sunday morning coming down posts, I give you song 14, while I go off to brew some strong black coffee.

Prodnose: In taberna quando sumus
Myself: When we are in the tavern,

Prodnose: non curamus quid sit humus,
Myself: we do not think how we will go to dust,

Prodnose: sed ad ludum properamus,
Myself: but we hurry to gamble,

Prodnose: cui semper insudamus.
Myself: which always makes us sweat.

Prodnose: Quid agatur in taberna
Myself: What happens in the tavern,

Prodnose: ubi nummus est pincerna,
Myself: where money is host,

Prodnose: hoc est opus ut queratur,
Myself: you may well ask,

Prodnose: si quid loquar, audiatur.
Myself: and hear what I say.

Prodnose: Quidam ludunt, quidam bibunt,
Myself: Some gamble, some drink,

Prodnose: quidam indiscrete vivunt.
Myself: some behave loosely.

Prodnose: Sed in ludo qui morantur,
Myself: But of those who gamble,

Prodnose: ex his quidam denudantur
Myself: some are stripped bare,

Prodnose: quidam ibi vestiuntur,
Myself: some win their clothes here,

Prodnose: quidam saccis induuntur.
Myself: some are dressed in sacks.

Prodnose: Ibi nullus timet mortem
Myself: Here no-one fears death,

Prodnose: sed pro Baccho mittunt sortem:
Myself: but they throw the dice in the name of Bacchus.

Prodnose: Primo pro nummata vini,
Myself: First of all it is to the wine-merchant

Prodnose: ex hac bibunt libertini;
Myself: the libertines drink,

Prodnose: semel bibunt pro captivis,
Myself: one for the prisoners,

Prodnose: post hec bibunt ter pro vivis,
Myself: three for the living,

Prodnose: quater pro Christianis cunctis
Myself: four for all Christians,

Prodnose: quinquies pro fidelibus defunctis,
Myself: five for the faithful dead,

Prodnose: sexies pro sororibus vanis,
Myself: six for the loose sisters,

Prodnose: septies pro militibus silvanis.
Myself: seven for the footpads in the wood,

Prodnose: Octies pro fratribus perversis,
Myself: Eight for the errant brethren,

Prodnose: nonies pro monachis dispersis,
Myself: nine for the dispersed monks,

Prodnose: decies pro navigantibus
Myself: ten for the seamen,

Prodnose: undecies pro discordaniibus,
Myself: eleven for the squabblers,

Prodnose: duodecies pro penitentibus,
Myself: twelve for the penitent,

Prodnose: tredecies pro iter agentibus.
Myself: thirteen for the wayfarers.

Prodnose: Tam pro papa quam pro rege
Myself: To the Pope as to the king

Prodnose: bibunt omnes sine lege.
Myself: they all drink without restraint.

Prodnose: Bibit hera, bibit herus,
Myself: The mistress drinks, the master drinks,

Prodnose: bibit miles, bibit clerus,
Myself: the soldier drinks, the priest drinks,

Prodnose: bibit ille, bibit illa,
Myself: the man drinks, the woman drinks,

Prodnose: bibit servis cum ancilla,
Myself: the servant drinks with the maid,

Prodnose: bibit velox, bibit piger,
Myself: the swift man drinks, the lazy man drinks,

Prodnose: bibit albus, bibit niger,
Myself: the white man drinks, the black man drinks,

Prodnose: bibit constans, bibit vagus,
Myself: the settled man drinks, the wanderer drinks,

Prodnose: bibit rudis, bibit magnus.
Myself: the stupid man drinks, the wise man drinks,

Prodnose: Bibit pauper et egrotus,
Myself: The poor man drinks, the sick man drinks,

Prodnose: bibit exul et ignotus,
Myself: the exile drinks, and the stranger,

Prodnose: bibit puer, bibit canus,
Myself: the boy drinks, the old man drinks,

Prodnose: bibit presul et decanus,
Myself: the bishop drinks, and the deacon,

Prodnose: bibit soror, bibit frater,
Myself: the sister drinks, the brother drinks,

Prodnose: bibit anus, bibit mater,
Myself: the old lady drinks, the mother drinks,

Prodnose: bibit ista, bibit ille,
Myself: this man drinks, that man drinks,

Prodnose: bibunt centum, bibunt mille.
Myself: a hundred drink, a thousand drink.

Prodnose: Parum sexcente nummate
Myself: Six hundred pennies would hardly

Prodnose: durant, cum immoderate
Myself: suffice, if everyone

Prodnose: bibunt omnes sine meta.
Myself: drinks immoderately and immeasurably.

Prodnose: Quamvis bibant mente leta,
Myself: However much they cheerfully drink

Prodnose: sic nos rodunt omnes gentes
Myself: we are the ones whom everyone scolds,

Prodnose: et sic erimus egentes.
Myself: and thus we are destitute.

Prodnose: Qui nos rodunt confundantur
Myself: May those who slander us be cursed

Prodnose: et cum iustis non scribantur.
Myself: and may their names not be written in the book of the righteous.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tactical Nuclear Penguin

A controversial Scottish brewery has launched what it described as the world's strongest beer - with a 32% alcohol content.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin has been unveiled by
BrewDog of Fraserburgh.

BrewDog was previously branded irresponsible for an 18.2% beer called Tokyo, which it then followed with a low alcohol beer called Nanny State.

Managing director James Watt said a limited supply of Tactical Nuclear Penguin would be sold for £30 each.

He said: "This beer is about pushing the boundaries, it is about taking innovation in beer to a whole new level."

Mr Watt added that a beer such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin should be drunk in "spirit sized measures".

A warning on the label states: "This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost."

The ghost of Dr Stabismus?

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Cloud Lifts

Yo ISP! Let’s vaporize it
Cloud cloud maybe

All right stop. Virtualize and listen
This cloud is hot – infrastructure invention

This trend is grabbin’ hold of us tightly
We’re blogging and debating daily and nightly

Is it really hot? Yo, I don’t know
but scalin’ on demand, it does show

To the extreme – McKinsey caused a scandal
when they donned their IT guru mantle

HYPE! The Gartner peak looms
SMBs are fine. Enterprise? No room!

Baloney! IBM said quickly
The suits are off their rocker. I think they’re just being prickly. Obviously!

Use it or Hate it, it’s here to stay
You’d better learn the rules of how you wanna play

If there’s a load of them, the cloud will scale it
Check out EC2 while S3 stores it

CHORUS: Yeah! Cloud Cloud maybe.
Go for it, baby! Cloud cloud maybe.
Cloud cloud maybe.

Now that I got you thinkin’
I see you’re looking for ideas ripe for a pickin’

Ready to virtualize to the point of abstraction
So you can reap when the cloud gets inflexion

Be smart; drink the kool-aid from a thimble
Don’t get all crazy when you see a symbol

Or a ppt… with some souped up lingo
Convincing that the cloud isn’t the way-to-go

“Cloud compatability on”, so you can grow

Scale on the fly, wave your headaches bye
Should you believe it? “But you’ve got to give it a try”

SUN -CLOUD. An oxymoron if I saw one.
But this & Atmos add to the fun.

The box is dead YO
Let’s move now to – S.O.A.P. – Cloud Computing

You can also run a cloud in its minis
Private clouds are hotter than grilled paninis

My Cloud! Coz I want no one pryin’
Cluster ‘em together & be just fine

Just SOA, nothing new some say
“old wine in new bottles” summarizes their take

GTrends! Shoots up as the vendors yell
This stuff is hot, by the noise you can tell

GOOGLE! No idea what they’re up to
App-Engine…G-Drive…there’s more in their zoo

Vapor to Vapor, the cloudosphere’s packed
If you’re trying too long for the attention of a hack

Cloud enable your scene you know what I mean
That’ll sex you up, put you on the radar screens

So what if its working? Yo, lets cloud it
Cloud’s here to stay. Microsoft will Azure it

Cloud cloud maybe its too hot too hot
Cloud cloud maybe its too hot too hot

Yo man. That’s a server there!

Send it to the museum!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Kitchen of Dr Strabismus

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Inside a nondescript warehouse on a nondescript street of this Seattle suburb is a research laboratory that looks like it came out of a James Bond movie — had Q the gadget master been a gastronome.

Here Nathan Myhrvold, a former chief technology officer at Microsoft, and his company, Intellectual Ventures, pursue an eclectic array of speculative and potentially world-changing ideas — inventing a new battery, taming hurricanes, defeating disease. And here, along with the laser designed to shoot mosquitoes out of the air (a high-speed camera counts the rate of wing-flapping to ensure that innocent insects are not vaporized), is the best-equipped restaurant kitchen anywhere that never serves any customers.

Dr. Myhrvold exuded a Willy Wonka enthusiasm as he talked of the foods that came out of his industrial food dehydrator. “Raw lobster tail, freeze dried, is amazing,” he said.

At another machine, rose petals spun inside a glass globe. “This is basically a still,” he said. “You could crank the temperature up and distill alcohol. What we’re trying to do here is get an essence of rose petals.”

The yield would be a few fragrant tablespoons of liquid.

Around the corner, he pointed to two machines side by side. “Here’s our ice cream machine, and here’s our ultrasonic welder,” he said.

Had he used the welder as a cooking appliance? “Not yet,” he said, earnestly,” but we’re going to try it out.”

After all, an autoclave designed to sterilize lab equipment has proven culinarily productive — “It’s basically the pressure cooker from hell,” Dr. Myhrvold said — as has a 100-ton hydraulic press, for beef jerky.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bet the farm

Ben was farming when a lonely Pink Cow from a nearby Strawberry Farm wandered onto their farm in FarmVille. She's worried that she may never find a new home because, well, she's more than a little different.*

The Bomber was introduced to FarmVille by his friend H, over the weekend.

"67,351,673 monthly active users," says Facebook. Sixty seven million!

It is not for me though.

* (The lack of a gender-neutral first person pronoun in English makes me wince sometimes. "If you love somebody set him or her free," Mr Sting.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pitched In

To the Bull's Head in Barnes last night to see a System X reunion gig as part of a month long festival celebrating its half century as a jazz venue.

A scary back of the envelope calculation revealed that I have been going there on and off for twenty five of those fifty years.

System X's album was recorded seventeen years ago, but practically every note of the set was still familiar to me. Like they'd never been away; like I'd never been away. (I remember seeing them supporting Arturo Sandoval in Ronnie Scott's.)

It's too bad we have to get old.
Just keep punching.
Want to ring the bell?
All right.
Come on, Stallion.
You really move good for an older guy.
Look at him fly.
No, you don't want any of this.
Maybe I'm in here with the wrong guy?
Dad, you're late.
Mom's going to yell at you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Full Contact Writer

I see that Matt Polly has not rested on his laurels after the prestigious el grupo triumph of American Shaolin, his last book.

He wrote me some time ago that he was working in the "idiot-participatory-martial-arts memoir category" and I've stumbled on the news that he actually competed in, and even won, an MMA fight in Vegas back in August.

The working title for his book that will likely be published next year is “Full Contact Writer.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

plus ça change

The fetishization of change is a symptom of a deep intellectual malaise in modern education theory, where truth, knowledge, and meaning have merely a provisional character... more

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Since the river took Tamiflu

Health officials say a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu has spread between hospital patients.

Five patients on a unit treating people with severe underlying health conditions at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, were infected.

Three appear to have acquired the infection in hospital.

They are thought to be the first confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant strain in the world.

Yet another breakthrough for Wales.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Plan B

'Why-why do you always r-reduce my animal urges to psychoanalytic categories?'

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snot Unusual

Ext. night: Rivulets of blood creep across pavement, flashing in the lights of a police cruiser, we pan across a body, and police investigating. Overlooking the scene from a tenement stoop are two strangely familiar characters seated side by side.

Myself: So your boy's name was what?
Prodnose: Snot.
Myself: Called the guy Snot?
Prodnose: Snot Unusual
Myself: God. Snot Unusual be loved by anyone?
Prodnose: Dunno, dunno, dunno.
Myself: Snot Unusual have fun with anyone?
Prodnose: Dunno, dunno. But if I seen him out and about with anyone?
Myself: Who shot Unusual, and seen him cry, "I'm gonna die!"?
Prodnose: Snot Unusual would go out at any time.
Myself: So why'd I see you out and about at such a crime? If you could ever give me the name of anyone..........
pause, filled only by the barking of dogs, somewhere in the neighbourhood
Prodnose: It's not Unusual. It happens every day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unhealthy thoughts

I'm on a course of antibiotics so I'm off the booze for a week.

I did have a good drink with MacKenna last night though as he's briefly back from DR Congo.

The juxtaposition of the last two sentences is entirely coincidental.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sid Snot

Ext. night: Overlooking the scene from a tenement stoop are two strangely familiar characters seated side by side.

Myself: So your boy's name was what?
Prodnose: Snot.
Myself: Called the guy Snot?
Prodnose: Sid Snot
Myself: God. Sid Snot. You like the name?
Prodnose: What?
Myself: Sid Snot ... This kid, whose mama went to the trouble to christen him Sidney .......

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aren't we content here like this?

France has always been a nation of philosophers. Descartes contributed rigorous thinking. Montesquieu and Voltaire inspired democracy, and Sartre made it cool to despair. It was inevitable, sooner or later, that along would come Jacques Puisais, philosopher of taste.

When Puisais philosophizes about taste, as he has been doing for decades, he does not mean a red tie goes with a gray suit. He means the magic that happens when the right wine is married with the right food, when lamb chops are grilled over smoldering grape vines and baked apples are caramelized just so for lunch with friends and family.

But one should not misunderstand. The philosophy of taste as practiced by Puisais is not the windy lyricism of restaurant reviews or wine labels. It is an effort by a trained scientist and irrepressible epicurean to document what happens when people experience food and wine and to educate them about how to make it a more authentic experience that reinforces their human bonds.

......... read on ...........

Not the ideal reverie for Monday morning, but what can you do?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Snot Boogie

I know its two months on, but I finally put the first Wire DVD in the slot yesterday and watched all three of the episodes on it at a sitting. It is good stuff. I am now officially on board with the detail and the Barksdale investigation.

season one, episode one

Ext. night: Rivulets of blood creep across pavement, flashing in the lights of a police cruiser, we pan across a body, and police investigating. Overlooking the scene from a tenement stoop are two strangely familiar characters seated side by side.

Myself: So your boy's name was what?
Prodnose: Snot.
Myself: Called the guy Snot?
Prodnose: Snot Boogie
Myself: God. Snot Boogie. You like the name?
Prodnose: What?
Myself: Snot Boogie... This kid, whose mama went to the trouble to christen him Omar Isaah Betts... You know, he forgets his jacket, his nose starts running and some asshole, instead of giving him a Kleenex, he calls him "Snot". So he's Snot forever. Doesn't seem fair.
Prodnose: Life just be that way, I guess.

Myself: So, who shot Snot?
Prodnose: I ain't goin' to no court.
pause, filled only by the barking of dogs, somewhere in the neighborhood
Prodnose: Mother ****er didn't have to put no cap in him though.
Myself: Definitely not.
Prodnose: He coulda just whooped his *** like we always whoop his ***.
Myself: I agree with you.
Prodnose: He killed Snot. Snot been doing the same **** since I don't know how long. You don't kill a man over some bull****.

Prodnose: I'm sayin': every Friday night in an alley behind the Cut Rate, we rollin' bones, you know? I mean all them boys, we roll til late.
Myself: Alley crap game, right?
Prodnose: Like every time, Snot, he'd fade a few shooters, play it out til the pot's deep. Snatch and run.
Myself: What, every time?
Prodnose: Couldn't help hisself.
Myself: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin? crap, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie... he'd wait til there's cash on the ground and he'd grab it and run away? You let him do that?
Prodnose: We'd catch him and beat his *** but ain't nobody ever go past that.

Myself: I've gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away... why'd you even let him in the game?
Prodnose: What?
Myself: Well, if every time, Snot Boogie stole the money, why'd you let him play?
Prodnose: Got to. It's America, man.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hide in Plain Sight

The Bomber is having drumming lessons at Cherry Pie Music (111 Kingston Road) early on Friday evenings, which means I can relax over a sneaky one at the Hideaway Bar and Dining Room (175 Kingston Road), and then pick up essential supplies at La Bottega del Panne (171 Kingston Road) while he practices his paradiddles.

I love in when a plan comes together.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.
John Cage

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Realtime Horse Trading?

Sadiq Khan Minister of State for Transport, Twitter 16:50 yesterday:
Just co-chaired high level crossrail meeting at DfT with Boris, various Councillors from around London, reps from GLA, TFL, business
Spun by the said Boris, Mayor of London, three minutes later as:
Just met @SadiqKhan re: closure of the South London Line & he's agreed to explore other options -
I wonder if they are singing from the same sheet? I don't think you can deny that Twitter is helping to make the debate more public though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

99.9 percent uptime

I sit here with my tubes full of phlegm and limbs full of ache, having contracted whatever the Bomber has got. (He's still off school.)

Not being able to remember the last time I was ill, I will meditate on how remarkably hale and hearty I am the overwhelming majority of the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels goalkeeper Manuel Almunia needs “a few games” but is confident the Spaniard is back to his best.

A chest infection and family bereavement have kept Almunia out of the Arsenal team for 10 matches, but Wenger has been impressed with his form in victories over Tottenham Hotspur and AZ Alkmaar, despite some blaming him for the latter’s consolation goal.

"He looks back to his best,” Wenger said, according to The Guardian. “He needs a few games to get used to playing again, but I'm not worried about him."

Thank God for that. Ever since I shelled out forty seven quid on an Almunia replica Arsenal shirt from the Bomber's birthday, the keeper seemed to have disappeared.

(He's from Pamplona you know.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sick Note

The Bomber has been poorly in the night, so I am keeping him off school and working from home this morning.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Reflections for Sunday morning

Much ink has been spilled on the question of why so many writers are alcoholics. Of America’s seven Nobel laureates, five were lushes—to whom we can add an equally drunk-and-disorderly line of Brits: Dylan Thomas, Malcolm Lowry, Brendan Behan, Patrick Hamilton, Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, all doing the conga to (in most cases) an early grave.

Writing involves fantasy; alcohol promotes fantasy. Writing requires self-confidence; alcohol bolsters confidence. Writing is lonely work; alcohol assuages loneliness. Writing demands intense concentration; alcohol relaxes.

Friday, November 06, 2009

End of an Era

I took the Bomber to the firework display and bonfire in Wimbledon Park after judo last night, and damn fine pyrotechnics it was too.

I hoisted him on to my shoulders to get a better view of the Catherine Wheels and realised that this was probably the last time we'd be able to perform this stunt; he's getting taller all the time, and my arms aren't going to get any longer.

A poignant, but athletic, swansong as I had - to all intents and purposes - to throw him backwards over my head.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Has any other reader noticed the remarkable resemblance ........... I wonder if they are related?

Spot the difference: buns for Kelly Brook's Calendar Girls ad were enlarged to cover her chest

The advert for the new cast of Calendar Girls featured the actress covering her 32E chest with cherry-topped pastries but Transport for London ordered them to be made larger.

In other promotional pictures of Brook, smaller buns can be seen in the same pose. From tomorrow, the model, 29, replaces Jerry Hall as Celia in the show at the Noel Coward Theatre. Producer David Pugh said: “[TfL] are worried about titillating customers.”

A TfL spokesman said they asked for “a few tweaks” to ensure the advert complied with their policy.

Rules are rules, but even I am surprised to see an organisation implementing cake tin to areola mammae diameter ratio regulations.

Then again, some people like cupcakes exclusively ....

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2nd Mon

The Bomber got his second Mon grading in judo last night. This is what he had to do:
Ukemi: • Yoko Ukemi
Tachi-waza: • De-ashi -barai
Osaekomi-waza: • Mune-gatame
Combination Techniques:
• De-ashi -barai into Mune-gatame Ne-waza:
• escape from Mune-gatame using a ‘bridge and roll’ action
Candidates are required to demonstrate two of their favourite waza
Candidates are required to:
· know the common English translations and meaning of all Japanese terminology used in this section
· translate the following Japanese words into their common English names and where appropriate explain their meaning: Osaekomi Toketa
· have knowledge of the judo code
· demonstrate the correct bowing procedure for Tachi-rei and Za-rei
· answer the question
Who is the founder of modern judo?

So there we are. You, like me, are none the wiser but at least a little better informed.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Like many common surnames, it derives from a common forename, in this case Nikolaus (Nicholas), which, abbreviated to Nick and assimilated with the Slavic Nitz (pronounced Nitsch) became Nitsche and then Nietzsche.
My current "great fat book" being too big for a jacket pocket I picked RJ Hollingdale's "Nietzshe" off the shelves to pass the time on the Tube as I was going in to town on Saturday and was rewarded with the daft connection above.

It's a very well written book, and it turns out that Collingdale was far from an establishment figure; an intriguing autodidact who left school (up the road in Tooting) at 16.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Day of the Dead

I went to the Moctezuma exhibition in the British Library yesterday.

It includes a recently found, gorgeously carved golden eagle - dating from about the first year of Moctezuma's reign - that has a hollow in its back that was a receptacle for human hearts cut from sacrificial victims.

An artefact of a culture, the passing of which I find difficult to mourn.