Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, November 30, 2007


A story that makes me angry, courtesy of Ally Fogg (thanks to Clare for drawing my attention to it).

Looking for an update on Karen's situation, I found this, this and this. All of which goes to show that Sheila Foley's £135,000 salary is unmatched by any kind of people management skills. Also, that Karen is getting a lot of support, and that there are still some unrepentant union-bashers out there, to say nothing of some people clearly living in a parallel universe (gjh again says.." and if I hear another nurse say she is over worked and under paid....it's a healthy salary & just get another job if your not happy." )(sic).

Here is Karen's campaign's site, where you can read, among other things, the original interview that got her fired. I have to say it seems pretty mild stuff to me. As a union rep, I'd certainly take care what I said about my employer but expressing concern about privatisation doesn't seem excessive to me. She didn't make comments about individuals and as far as I can tell didn't let slip any confidential details (which clearly would be a no-no, for example if the union had been told something under embargo). Even if it was felt she was out of line, there is no way the article could be said to "bring the Trust into disrepute". Unlike Sheila Foley's incompetent flailing about, which is simply making it a laughing-stock.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jump down, turn around

Some unpleasant reading concerning the Uzbek cotton industry, courtesy of LabourStart. I bet you thought the use of slaves to pick cotton went out with the Confederacy.

If you would like even more depressing facts about Uzbekistan, Craig Murray is your man. He used to be the British ambassador there until he showed an unacceptable level of concern over human rights violations by President Karimov at a time when Blair was frantically sucking up to him as (a) a rich foreigner with whom we could do business and (b) a partner in the "war on terror". Obviously the inconvenient fact that he boils political opponents alive could not be allowed to put at risk all the money that Blair might make from him, especially when the opponents in question were probably Muslim anyway so had it coming, right? Hence Murray was sacked, after which the British goverment put a lot of effort into a smear campaign against him. You can read all about it in his excellent book.

And if you wondered why Craig Murray wasn't interviewed for the BBC documentary, he explains on his blog that he was in fact interviewed and filmed, but his contribution (curiously enough) was all edited out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Proud parent

My daughter has just altered me to the fact that if I Google my son's name I reach his IMDb entry. My son has an IMDb entry. How cool is that?

Ex Armenia semper aliquid novi

I'm playing a concert tonight which includes the Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto. I'd never heard of it before we programmed it, but it's rather fun. It isn't long (here are a couple of video clips which cover the whole of it: 1 2) and it's very tuneful. There's always something new waiting to be discovered.

Here It Goes Again

Joe just alerted me to the existence of these guys. He posted a pretty cool video, but this one is better.

That's, like, massively disrespecting of your trousers

Although I have a fairly low tolerance when it comes to contemporary comedy (I lasted about two minutes when attempting to listen to this week's The Hollow Men, which seemed like some dreadful throwback to the days of Bernard Manning) I very much enjoyed this clip from the Armstrong and Miller Show (thanks to J.J.). It's surprising how much humour can be wrung out of changes in language use.

I found this one too. Wicked.

For goodness sake....

...I got the hippy hippy shake....

...or someone has, anyway.

Read this and weep

I came upon this wonderful article by Matthew Parris in the Times when catching up on the story of Samina Malik. I was reminded of the prosecution 31 years ago of Gay News for publishing James Kirkup's rather tasteless poem. Now here we are again with a dissident poet, though probably this time being jailed rather than sued.

I thought it was places like North Korea where thinking incorrect thoughts was supposed to be a crime. Maybe in a few years visitors to Britain will be obliged to bow to statues of Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher or be punished.

Then I read this story, which brought to mind Parris's comments about Chris Langham. OK, Tibbert had actually been creating videos, so this isn't exactly a "thought crime". But just think about it. Here we have a guy, creepy though he may be, standing in a public place, photographing children who are also in a public place. He wasn't poking his camera under toilet doors, or shooting through bedroom windows; he was filming on a public beach. It seems to ne that if you don't want your nudity or partial nudity to attract attention, you don't parade it on a beach, whether you're six or sixty. The parents of these children were perfectly happy for them to run around "semi-naked" (what that means is not made clear, though I doubt it involved erotic lingerie) until someone spotted a camera. Eh? Did they want a royalty payment? If the issue is that their kids were spotted showing more than they should, is that not the parents' problem? In any case, morality has been assuaged by Mr Tibbert's being:

  • ->banned from any beach where children are present, on pain of imprisonment;
  • ->prevented from taking any of his photographic equipment out of his house ;
  • ->barred from any contact with under-16s;
  • ->put on the Sex Offenders' Register for 3 years (despite having neither committed nor filmed any sexual act whatsoever).

I wouldn't deny that Tibbert is most likely a disturbed individual. But it seems harsh to destroy his life (and let's be clear, placing him on the Sex Offenders' Register will do that: if he's not been murdered or mutilated in three years time, he'll never be able to work, find a flat, or have any kind of a life ever again) for actions which caused no actual harm or potential harm to anyone.

In North Korea, too, it is illegal to take photographs of anything without obtaining official clearance.

Welcome to the future.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The piece of cod which passeth all understanding

EU quotas for cod caught by British fishermen in the North Sea have been much in the news this week. The disclosure that each week our prawn fishermen dump 60% of their catches back into the sea (dead, of course) because they are illegally-caught cod has been described as "obscene" by the EU Fisheries Commissioner, and rightly so. According to Jonathan Shaw, the UK Fisheries Minister, this shows that we need to increase the UK's cod quota so that these perfectly good fish can be landed and sold rather than being dumped. The fishermen, meanwhile, will have none of it, and insist that the whole quota system needs to be scrapped.

OK, run that past me again. There is a quota system because the over-fishing of the North Sea by (among others) the British has led to a dangerous depletion of cod stocks. The quotas are intended to reduce the killing of cod. So, OK, British fisherman are illegally killing millions of cod. Now, children, is the solution:

(a) get them to kill fewer cod?
(b) let them kill the same number of cod but pay them more money to do so?
(c) let them kill as many cod as they like until cod are are just an old person's memory?

If you answered (a), you have a working brain but clearly don't live in the crazy world of our fishing industry and its parliamentary puppets.

If you answered (b) or (c) piss off now and go and do the lottery or something more appropriate to your powers of thought, like emailing your bank details to Nigeria.

If the point of quotas is to conserve fish stocks, then the solution is to catch fewer cod. (Duh.)

But wait! say the bottom-feeders. We can't tell cod from the prawns we're trying to catch, and (wow!) they end up in the nets anyway. Hah! We win!

Well, Einstein(s), it's maybe about time our fishing fleet invested in some on-board salt water tanks like the ones they use in the Far East to bring their (smallish) catches in alive for their demanding diners. Then the illegally-netted cod could be dumped back alive and the prawns brought home. Or, they could use creels rather than nets to catch their prawns, or more modern designs of net, as suggested by the International Council for the Exploration of Species. Alternatively, our seaborne Sherlocks could try for a career more suited to their abilities, such as asking "Do you want fries with that?" when handling fish caught legally by some other country's fleet.

Blood libel from America's favourite fascist

Those of you interested in Palestinian affairs may have noticed that Philippe Karsenty is currently appealing against the verdict that he libelled the France 2 television station by accusing it of knowingly broadcasting faked footage of the shooting of Mohammed al-Durrah. Those of you who don't know what the hell I'm on about, follow the link: you probably saw the pictures even if you don't recognise the name.

I have to say that there are unanswered questions about the footage, and while I wouldn't go as far as some of the Zionist nutters who claim the boy was murdered by the Palestinians as a photo-op, I'm not totally convinced by what I've seen so far.


Here is Frontpage Magazine, run by (among others) David Horowitz whom we last saw organising fascist rallies in American universities. (As its blogroll is proudly headed up by such luminaries as Little Green Footballs and Benjamin "Cunt" Kerstein, the magazine clearly holds his values dear.) In its article on the al-Durrah affair (reckoning the while thing was a fake rather than a genuine killing by anyone) we find this interesting statement:

Two weeks after the Al Durrah tapes aired, two Jewish soldiers lost their way in Ramallah, where they were savagely beaten to death, their innards eaten by hysterical and frenzied crowds screaming Allah Akbar--God is great--and seeking revenge for the supposed death of the boy.

You will seek in vain for corroboration of this extraordinary statement, either on the FrontPage site or anywhere else, as it is (shock!) a total fabrication. (Hint: Muslims don't eat offal or blood even from non-human sources.) As you will for any retraction or apology from the fascists who made it. I often wondered what would be the most perfect analogy for the old anti-Semitic "blood libel" that Jews used the blood of murdered Christians to make their Passover matzohs. Well, now I know.

Funny, isn't it, that it is these flagrant liars and bigots who make the most noise about anti-Semitic untruths?

Anyway, if the Home Office want to keep dangerous extremists out of Britain, they could start with this piece of offal (currently still in possession of all her blood) - the one responsible for the piece of filth Horowitz's site endorsed. And follow up with Horowitz himself.

Let's not overlook Rockall just because it's not big enough to be a Strangeway

The fleet set sail for Rockall,
To free the isle of Rockall,
From fear of foreign foe.
We sped across the planet,
To find this lump of granite,
One rather startled Gannet;
In fact, we found.......Rockall.

So, praise the brave Bell-bottoms,
Who saw Britannia's Peril,
And answered to her call,
Though we're thrown out of Malta,
Though Spain should take Gibraltar,
Why should we flinch or falter,
When England's got......Rockall.

Michael Flanders & Donald Swann (recorded on And Then We Wrote....)

Overnight Sensation

Lists of outdoor-type things are great, aren't they? There's the list of Scottish mountains over 3000 feet, aka Munros (after Sir Hugh Munro who first listed them but actually never completed the round). There are 284 of these, and I've climbed just over 100 of them (my list is in Ballater so I can't be definitive). For the more adventurous there are, well, I suppose we should call them the Messners: the fourteen summits over 8000 metres in height,, first climbed by Reinhold Messner.

Well, now there is another list awaiting emulation. Strangeways. I suspect the number of Strangeway-baggers will be closer to the total for the Messners than for the Munros.

For example, here's my own list of Strangeways (counting overnight stays only):

Fair Isle
Shetland Mainland
North Ronaldsay
Orkney Mainland

11 out of 162. It's a sobering thought that even adding in the ones I've visited without an overnight stay only adds a further 11. (Though obviously there are plenty I've seen from a respectful distance without landing, which is after all how most people experience Ailsa Craig, Boreray and Gruinard.) As Chip Clark commented when I posted my pictures of the far North-West, what a lot I still have to see.

Congratulations to Andy Strangeway anyway on his achievement.

If I lived just a few miles to the North he'd be my MP

The Daily Mash also has a better answer than most to the mystery of where all those bank records (including mine, BTW) went which were lost by HM Revenue & Customs. Here.

Hahahahahaha! And also OW.

By way of explanation for non-UK readers: last Saturday Scotland narrowly failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 football championship despite being in a group with both Italy (who eventually overcame them) and France (whom they had beaten both home and away). England, OTOH, had only to draw with Croatia on Wednesday in order to qualify. Cue much sympathetic wagging of heads from our Southern neighbours.

I wonder if you can guess from this Daily Mash spoof how that match went?

Meanwhile in other football news, Mario Gomez of Stuttgart seems to have found fame in an unusual way. to wit by being the first player to score a goal with his penis. What you might call a flying tackle.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ah weel

I was full of good intentions to do all kinds of posts tonight. Stravinsky distracted me and then Mahler had me lying on my back buzzing like a nerve-gassed wasp. So much for that then. Bedtime.

Fan Club 3 - Mahler's Symphony No 2 "Resurrection"

And I just couldn't do a video roundup of classics without my all-time favourite symphony being conducted by that Abbado chap again with the Berlin PO. Mahler's Symphony No 2 is from the end of the 19th century, which is why I didn't put it in my 20th century post.

The piece is in five movements. The third gives you a good flavour of Mahler. Note the percussionist whacking the bass drum case with a bundle of birch twigs, which is a uniquely Mahlerian sound.

Third movement

The finale can be relied on to reduce me to tears. That was the case even before the one time I actually played it in an orchestra, which was six months after my father had died and a year after my mother. My father had just started getting interested in classical music, and would surley have been knocked out by the last movement at least. When one is playing, tears are an unaffordable luxury, though I'm sure I sniffled. This is music, after all, representing the last trump and the opening of graves. Every time I go to a performance I half expect to see dead people coming through the walls. Most of you will just have to imagine what it's like being part of a performance: hearing those incredible sounds and knowing that part of them is you. One of my lifetime high points.

Anyway. Turn it up to 11. Perfectly suitable for work if your colleagues don't mind being pinned to the wall by a tsunami of sound from a very large orchestra indeed (plus choir). The last few minutes always seem to me to fit perfectly the metaphor of an enormous craft coming in to land: the music picks up the beacon of D major about three minutes from home at "Sterben werd ich um zu leben", locks onto it in a more determined way than any other music I know, and comes home.

Finale Part 1
Finale Part 2
Finale Part 3
Finale Part 4

And just because I can, here's Simon Rattle with the CBSO giving the finale his own inimitable treatment. One of the slowest versions of the very end I've ever heard, but blimey.... (There's a rather nasty dislocation in part 2 near the beginning, just where the huge crescendo in the brass is starting. There may be others I've missed. Still worth hearing to compare with the Abbado though.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Fan Club 2 - Tuneful Classics

A few more selected videos from YouTube, this time picking a few of my "classical" favourites. These are twentieth century classics, and should be played to anyone who thinks that means they can't be tuneful.

Let's begin with Leonard Bernstein conducting his own Candide Overture, which contains one of the all-time wonderful tunes. Actually the whole opera is sheer bliss as well as being extremely funny, but you'll need to find that out somewhere else.

Here is Martha Argerich playing the slow movement of Bartok's Third Piano Concerto, a great favourite of mine. Bartok wrote it when he knew he was dying of leukaemia, to give his piano-playing wife a bankably popular piece to play when he was gone. As befits a composer famous for his string quartets, he modelled the opening string theme on that of the slow movement if Beethoven's A minor quartet Op 132. In that case the theme is described as a "Hymn of thanks in the Lydian mode, on being restored to health" . Sadly Bartok knew his own health was beyond redemption, which adds a certain emotional kick to the movement.

Here is Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in the finale of Stravinsky's Firebird. Some nice horn playing too.

Staying with Stravinsky, here is the opening of The Rite of Spring with unusual choreography by the Frenchman Angelin Preljocaj, of whom I hadn't heard before For reasons that will rapidly be obvious, this would be a good video for getting teenage boys interested in ballet...... It breaks off at a rather arbritrary point, leaving me at least wishing there was more. And there is: here's the end of the same ballet. (Warning - not suitable for work!)

It would have been nice to be able to end this selection with Peter Schickele's Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, but it's not available. What there is, though, is a piece in a quite similar vein: one of his pieces supposedly by P D Q Bach. This one is the "Unbegun" Symphony (by analogy with Schubert's "Unfinished", though this one lacks a first movement). The humour comes from the juxtaposition of all kinds of diverse quotations, as with EKN itself (though in the latter case there is always Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik running underneath). This video clip has helpful subtitles so you can spot them flying past. Enjoy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Musharraf: our partner in the War on Democracy

Well, this isn't good news. Nevertheless, the USA and UK continue to support the nuclear-armed Taleban-backing dictator while planning the destruction of non-nuclear-armed Iran whose leader is selected by (admittedly probably rigged) elections rather than military coup.

One can only assume Ted Rall, as is often the case, has it right.

An argument for privatisation, right here

Well, there I was, all set to listen to the last episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and what do I find? After a mere eight days, it's been removed from the "Listen Again" feature. On the other hand, I can buy a three CD set of the series, or listen to a trailer for the next series. How nice.


1. I can read, so I already know how the series ends
2. I can read, so I already know the second book is crap
3. I can tell the BBC what they can do with their CDs, and with the second series

Customer service? Ha! We laugh at customer service. They probably needed the bandwidth for the 18th re-run of French and Bloody Saunders.

Catch me relying on the website to listen to anything in future? Nope. BBC comedy just shot itself in the foot. Again.

Happy Birthday Eleanor!

This is for my friend Eleanor, daughter of my very good friends Chris and Nel. I was going to post it on my Livejournal page, but LJ decided to play hard to get about posting pictures, so f**k it.

Have a good one, kid: you deserve it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toon Army

I've never really been a Wallace and Grommit fan. But the latest Aardman Animations production sounds interesting, and worthy of support.

P.S. Just saw the new Pixar "Ratatouille". Marvellous (and don't miss the accompanying short "Lifted").

Not just something to do with the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show

I heard this guy on the radio last week as I was driving home late at night. A spokesman said: WTF? Truly the Hendrix of the hurdy-gurdy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If this is a "pretty straight guy" what does a bent one look like?

Like Craig Murray, I can't really find words to express what I feel about this story.

The real estate company also offered him one of the houses worth 38 million yuan (five million dollars), the Guangzhou Daily said.

The newspaper did not say whether he accepted the villa

...but as neither Tone not Morticia ever passed up an opportunity to put their snouts (and frequently their entire bodies) in the trough when he was PM, I think we can guess.

I await with interest the next special interest group to buy a piece of Blair. As the man who was so successful at bringing democracy to Iraq is now using his silky skills to bring peace to Palestine, perhaps an arms company would like to put him on its payroll.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fan Club 1

The first of a series of posts featuring video clips of artists I'm especially fond of. Here we go with Richard Thompson, probably the greatest electric guitarist still alive (Zappa being dead).

Let's begin with Richard doing Cooksferry Queen.

Then with his (then) wife Linda, doing Lonely Hearts. You may well not know this one: it's from Sunnyvista, their most neglected album.

Next up is Richard doing a song by John French (sometime drummer for Captain Beefheart) and John's wife Donna Blair: Now That I Am Dead. (Fom this album.)

Richard's most requested song is, I believe, still Beeswing. Listen and you'll understand why: there are few better narrative lyrics.

On the six albums that Richard & Linda made together, they recorded precisely two songs penned by Linda (though she wasn't given a writing credit either time). One was "Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed"; the other was Pavanne. Here is a clip of them doing both Pavanne and It's The Motion on the Jake Thakray Show. I remember watching this broadcast, absolutely spellbound. The songs remain two of my favourites.

Richard in upbeat mood here, doing his "cynic's love song" Nearly In Love. How can you resist a song with the line "I'm almost aware of walking on air"?

And to finish, my all-time favourite, A Heart Needs A Home. I could never tire of this song.

Chutzpah, thy name is Shaul Mofaz

So let me get this straight. The Deputy Prime Minister of Israel is demanding the resignation of Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the grounds that he has taken an insufficiently tough line over Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons programme (known to be non-existent because the IAEA have inspected Iran's nuclear facilities).

This would be the Deputy PM of a country which not only has nuclear weapons but has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to permit any inspection of its facilities whatsoever (and which continues its vicious persecution of the only one of its citizens with both the knowledge and the guts to blow the whistle on its illegal WMD programme, and indeed of any journalist brave enough to defy Israeli government censorship and report on it).

I have heard of the pot calling the kettle black, but this, surely, is the toilet calling the operating theatre unhygienic.

Reich and Bach (no sh*t, Sherlock)

Joe seemed to like it when I linked to some video clips recently, so here are some more.

I mentioned Steve Reich's Come Out in a recent post. Here it is with some interesting choreography attached.

And here is his Clapping Music (originally for two people clapping) performed by a group of jugglers.

Here, finally, is a clip showing part of the Flying Karamazov Brothers' Marimba routine. Hilary and I saw them doing it in Edinburgh many years ago, and "gobsmacked" doesn't begin to cover it. I've just ordered a DVD of their highlights which includes it. This is the only clip I can find online, which shows them doing a little bit (with more wrong notes then when we saw them but still very impressive) for an American TV magazine programme. (Skip to 2:30 for the excerpt from Marimba.)

Untrousered raghead philanthropy

I was amused to notice this week that the strange person from Ankara who found EKN via a search for "turbaned p*rno" has reappeared. I suspect it is the same person, as the request again originated from Turkey (this time from Diyarbakir).

In case you were wondering, while the exact phrase occurs only in the post linked above, an "all the words" search also brings up this, which is clearly what drew the guy in. Though I doubt it was what he was after....

Mish Mash

Following on from my post on the disgraced (and disgraceful) head of the Metropolitan Police, here is The Daily Mash's take on the affair. Effortlessly hilarious, but makes its point brilliantly.

And the $100 laptop gets the Mash treatment here.

First we take Benfica......

....then we take the world. Or the Commonwealth at least.

Great news for Glasgow, and I'm sure we'll go to some of the events in seven years' time.

To judge from the TV news tonight, my friend Emma who gets fed up with hearing Chelsea Dagger every time Celtic score a goal would do well to avoid Glasgow for a few days, as it seemed to be playing in the background of all the reports from the city tonight.

Please send your donation and expect your miracle

I can't decide whether my main emotion on reading this story is fury at the con-man and his wife, or sadness that so many people in Britain have been so suggestible and deluded as to be taken in by them.

Friday, November 09, 2007

9/11 - A Time For Remembrance

This really is 9/11, not 11/9. And tragic though 11/9 was, it was just a little local inconvenience when set beside what is commemorated internationally on 9/11.

On 9th November 1938, on what would become known as Kristallnacht, the Nazis organised the destruction and looting of Jewish-owned businesses throughout Germany (as well as in Nazi-controlled Austria). Jews were murdered or carted off to camps. Synagogues were burned. We all know the end of the story which began in earnest 69 years ago tonight..

Music and Politics (mainly the former)

Having mentioned in my last post a gig I was gutted to miss because I was on holiday, here's one I was gutted to miss by being in Manchester either the week before or the one after, I forget which. Indeed, gutted doesn't begin to describe it: Joseph Byrd has been one of my musical heroes since my teens. It was his second album which I ordered from Virgin, thus obtaining the wonderful postcard I described.

Here is an interview with him.

And for all that Judith Weiss and I are no longer on (polite) blogging terms, let me take this opportunity to point out that what originally made me pay her more attention than your run-of-the-mill rent-a-Zionist was her liking for Joseph Byrd (and, as I would find out, Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy, the Watersons and Judy Henske). OK, so she turned out to be evil, but as she cheers on the coming nuclear holocaust at least she'll be doing it to a decent soundtrack. Judith described our relationship somewhere as (I paraphrase slightly) having no common ground politically but being musical soulmates. Can't argue with that, though I could say just the same of Adolf Hitler. And as someone for whom music is probably the most important part of my life, if she were to turn up in Edinburgh I might still be prepared to buy her a drink for the fun of talking music, despite all the unpleasantness. I've done concerts with people I disliked far more than Judith, after all. It would be interesting to see whether under the circumstances she would be prepared to have a drink with me. (On the one hand, embodiment of evil. On the other, someone who knows the words to "Winifer Odd", "Dragging The River" and "The American Metaphysical Circus". Tough call, I suspect.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cover versions

Continuing from my comment about cover versions in the previous post, here is a link to a video of Motorhead doing the Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen.

And here are Thin Lizzy themselves doing a stonking performance of Rosalie.

And here is Stanley Jordan doing Stairway to Heaven. There can be few gigs I so regret having to miss as when Stanley played Edinburgh about 15 years ago. I was on holiday elsewhere.

Finally, enjoy this. I did.

Alice Cooper + Motorhead, Glasgow SECC 7 November 2007

Let me confess first of all that before tonight I couldn't be described as a Motorhead fan. Indeed, the only song of theirs I could have named is The Ace Of Spades. I'd seen Lemmy in interviews, and knew he used to be with Hawkwind (vocals on Silver Machine, indeed). When I booked for this gig it was because Alice Cooper was on; I didn't even notice Motorhead were on the bill uintil I'd already got the ticket. Hell, I didn't even know they were a three-piece.

So when I arrived at the SECC rather late (there had been an accident on the M8), I'd missed the support and Motorhead were halfway through what I think was in fact their opening number. What was I expecting?

No frills........................Check
Solid rock and roll......Check
None of the histrionics of The Darkness, or the artistic aspirations of Iron Maiden (seen both of those bands twice, loved them )........Check

I knew also that Lemmy was the only original member.

I wasn't prepared for the sheer competence of the band. OK, you don't get to be around for 32 years without having something worthwhile, but then only Lemmy had been around for 32 years. But they were great. Mikkey Dee the drummer was especially wonderful: last time I enjoyed a drum solo so much was probably Carmine Appice in January 1974, and I'm not even sure about that. Phil Campbell is clearly a pretty good guitarist, and Lemmy is Lemmy and a national treasure.

Set list as far as I was able to make it out (not in order):

Over The Top
In The Name Of Tragedy
Just 'cos You Got The Power
The Ace of Spades
Whorehouse Blues

plus a cover of Thin Lizzy's Rosalie which knocked my socks off. I sometimes think that bands' choice of covers, and how well they do them, tell you an awful lot about them. This told me all I needed to know about Motorhead. And as Lemmy appears indestructible, I may well see them again.

Oh, I bought one of their T-shirts as well (there were some cool Alice Cooper ones bit not in my size).

OK, so on to Alice. Chalk and cheese in most ways. Alice, as you would expect, put on a spectacle. Nothing "no-frills" about Alice Cooper. But his band (2 guitars, bass, drums) were more than mrely competent. Perhaps not as good by themselves as Motorhead, but pretty good, and Alice gave them plenty of space to show what they could do. On one number both the guitarists went up and joined the drummer, bashing at various drums that had clearly been placed for accessibility. The sound of a bass guitar, a drum kit and two percussionists (the last three trading licks) was quite something.

Alice doesn't look his age. Lemmy maybe does, but when you consider the life he's lead then if he looked his age in rock years he's be about 350. Alice, like Mick Jagger, looks as though he keeps himself in very good shape. Still full of energy, still sounding good, still being hung from a gallows every night on stage.....

Lemmy had said what a great audience we were: I thought fro an all-standing gig at the SECC we might have been much bouncier. Enthusiastic as the crowd was for Lemmy et al though, they lit up for Alice Cooper. (Literally in one case: the only time before I've seen a single lonely lighter waving aloft, presumably held by an American who hadn't twigged that we don't do the lighter thing over here, was at a Moody Bues gig at Wembley Arena in 1979 or 1980.) He was the real deal: everything I'd hoped the gig would be, it was. He even did my favourite as his final number.

Here is his set list, or most of it. Order not necessarily reliable in the middle:

It's Hot Tonight
No More Mr Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Is It My Body
Muscle of Love
Dirty Diamonds
Welcome To My Nightmare
Only Women Bleed
Dead Babies
Woman of Mass Distraction
School's Out
Billion Dollar Babies

Leonard Cohen, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain - those were good Canadian exports. This one, not so much.

I was sent this by a friend, and it seemed worth sharing with you all. You don't have to be Canadian to sign the petition (though no doubt if you are it will be even more effective). Having sat through a number of sessions at Health & Safety conferences on the extremely unpleasant effects of mesothelioma I have no hesitation in endorsing the call, even if it is from a website called RightOnCanada.



Asbestos is a known killer and a leading cause of workers' deaths in Canada and around the world.

Most developed countries, including the European Union, have banned asbestos. The World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization, the Canadian Cancer Society and other respected organizations have called for a ban on all forms of asbestos. But instead of banning asbestos, the Canadian government uses tax-payers dollars and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around the world.

Over 90% of Canada's asbestos goes to developing countries, where worker protections are weak or non-existent.

The Canadian government pushes the spin of the asbestos industry that chrysotile asbestos can somehow be safely handled. Medical experts and knowledgeable organizations, such as the WHO, disagree. And as the government knows full well, safety protections are usually non-existent in developing countries.

Quebec, home to most of Canada's asbestos mines, has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma (a deadly cancer caused by asbestos) on the planet. Yet the Canadian government refuses to even keep track of the growing numbers of Canadian workers who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused cancer.

And internationally Canada is acting as a scoundrel. Canada has been severely criticized for preventing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention, an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned of the risks associated with hazardous products.

Please send your letter to Stephen Harper at RightOnCanada.ca.

"It is unconscionable that Canada knowingly exports a product that will kill thousands of people in Asia, Africa and South America," says David R. Boyd of the David Suzuki Foundation.

It's time, says health expert, Barry Castleman, for Canada "to join the rest of the civilized countries of this world in shutting down the asbestos industry."

The next meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention takes place in Rome in October 2008.



Please tell Prime Minister Harper to ban asbestos now, before more unnecessary deaths are caused. Tell him to put the lives of people ahead of the profits of the asbestos industry.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Don't say we didn't warn you

(Thanks to Alex for this one.)

Kicking people when they'e dead is so much safer than just doing it when they're down

I came upon this rather queasy-making post which I'd happily forgotten when searching for something else. Really, I shouldn't be surprised: this is the woman whose proud boast is that she disrupted an interview with George Galloway with her screaming, and whose record as an apologist for terror (read the comments) and nuclear first strikes speaks for itself.

But leaving aside Weiss's free-speech-for-me-not-for-you attitude, don't you wish these armchair Zionists were half as brave at standing up to real terrorists with guns - or unregulated nuclear weapons -as they are at fearlessly defending Israel against dead American 23-year-old girls and their grieving parents?


Strange search terms that have recently brought people to my blog:

Eine Kleine Nachmusik without second hand


Stockhausen stories

why erect nipples

billy ray cirus nude butt pics


where is salvat

To say nothing of the seasonal crop of Hand Turkeys and the fairly topical Davy Graham and Simon Bolivar Orchestra references.

Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da.....

My quartet and orchestra partner Emma was in Glasgow tonight to see Celtic play Benfica. One can only hope that she has overcome her irritation at the Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger", which is played every time Celtic hit the back of the net. Celtic 1 - Benfica 0 so she should be happy with the scoreline if not the soundtrack.

Just imagine if she'd been at Anfield and Liverpool used the Fratellis.... (Liverpool 8 - Besiktas 0). And for all the American nuts who think we're all raging anti-Semites on this side of the Atlantic, you may just find that he most popular man in Liverpool tonight is an Israeli Jew.

Monday, November 05, 2007

One whole joojooflop situation

On the other hand, the same issue of the Guardian as Jenkins' piece contained this. One of those rare pieces of journalism in which I really think I can find nothing with which I disagree (and many facts less well-appreciated than they should be, such as the absence of fundamentalist terrorists in Iraq under Saddam).

Coincidentally, my American (but Edinburgh-based) friend Chip posted in a similar vein recently.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Walks like a fundie, quacks like a fundie, claims to be a defender of reason against superstition. Hmmm.

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian is, I'm sure, a thoroughly nice chap, and very often I find his columns amusing and/or thought-provoking. But this one last Friday just made me rather cross. Not just because practically evcrything he has to say in it about the Harry Potter stories is bilge, but because it isn't even original bilge. Back in July I posted this in which I expressed astonishment that Christian fundamentalists could be upset by the "Satanic" content of books in which magic is consistently treated as technology rather than theology. Jenkins makes all the same mistakes as the fundamentalists (including referring to non-existent Ouija boards) and had the general tenor of his post not been against superstition and religion and in favour of rationalism I might have though he'd found Jesus himself.

Of course, Jenkins adds some errors of his own. Who knew, for example, that there were "echoes of paganism" in The Lord Of The Rings? In a work totally devoid of religious or magical ritual it is difficult to discern them: in Middle Earth as it is in Hogwarts, magic is a form of technology.

Oddly enough, he completely fails to mention a far more obvious example of a quasi-religious infrastructure in modern fiction: George Lucas's Star Wars films. The Jedi believe in a life force which permeates the universe in a manner very similar to Taoists' chi, and much of the Jedi lifestyle is clearly modelled on the Japanese Samurai, who in turn took their cues from Zen Buddhism. It comes as little surprise, then, that there are people in the USA (and probably elsewhere) who list their religion as "Jedi" in census data. (If Mr Jenkins could even name a religion that a Harry Potter or LOTR fan might lay claim to on the basis of the books or films, I'd love to know what it is.) I'm not saying that Star Wars is rife with Satanism (though with Darth Vader being a kind of "fallen angel" figure it is tempting to view his portrayal as deliberately Satanic). I am saying that if one is hunting for "religion with serious box-office appeal" there's more of it on Hoth than in Hogwarts, and more on Dagobar than in Dol Guldur.

And I too of course am completely forgetting the wholly religious (no quasi- about it) infrastructure of the Narnia books and films. Those not only have magicians who operate by calling on supernatural powers, they have no time for rationality when it sets itself against religious belief. And of course they belittle a caricatured version of Islam, which can't be harming their sales these days.

Finally, a plea to Simon Jenkins: lighten up a little. Harry Potter, Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code: all are fictional characters, and in fiction characters do not necessarily have to obey totally rational rules. What will he condemn next from his journalistic pulpit? Truly, Madly, Deeply for suggesting that the dead communicate with the living? Charlotte's Web for its spiders' webs containing messages in English (surely just as irrational as finding the face of Jesus in an aubergine)? The Love Bug with its VW Beetle apparently possessed by a supernatural force? Macbeth? Mary Poppins? And surely he will be campaigning against any more seasonal broadcasts of It's A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol.

The dog it was that drank

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 3, record producer Joe Boyd (the guy who signed up Pink Floyd, Donovan, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan and my pals The Purple Gang) hosted two programmes (1 2)wherein he played his "top forty" world music tracks. He then asked listeners to send in comments and suggestions for a final programme which he would be hosting with Lucy Duran.

Here's what I sent him.


First of all, thanks for the amazing bands you've helped on their
way in your years in the business. When I was at school I played in a folk group with Joe Beard, formerly (and now, again) with The Purple Gang. A formative experience, especially when (with Trevor Crozier) we made it to the main stage at the Cambridge Festival. So for the Gang, Pink Floyd, Fairport, the ISB and the rest: thanks.

Thinking of Trevor Crozier puts me in mind of a record you should maybe feature in your next programme: "Giles Farnaby's Dream Band". (My favourite track is "Shrewsbury Lasses", but any would do.)

The Orsa Spelman track was great, but I'd love to hear some more Scandinavian artists. Gåte, for example, whose track "Knut liten og Sylvelin" from the album "Isolilja" raises the bar extremely high for any subsequent users of electronics in traditional music. As does almost anything by Sorten Muld, especially "The Man and the Elf-Girl". Moving to less experimental ground, Hedningarna's "Karelia Visa" album combining Finnish vocalists and a Swedish band is full of gems, most famously "Forest Maiden". Finally, if you're willing to have a group performing original material with heavy folk influences (and after Baba Yaga you might be!) there's Nordman: like a reinvented Giles Farnaby's Dream Band with Rod Stewart singing in Swedish. What's not to love? Favourites would be "Det Sista du Ser", "Ännu Glöder Solen" and especially "Om Hon Will det Själv".

However, your playing of some Malagasy music as well as Shoukichi Kina emboldens me to suggest possibly my all-time favourite world music track. From Henry Kaiser & David Lindley's first "A World Out Of Time " anthology, it is "Hana" by Tarika Sammy (a Malagasy cover of SK's greatest hit "Flowers For Your Heart"). Sheer bliss.

I look forward to hearing your next show whether you play any of my suggestions or not, and wish you many more years of inspiring us all.

Well, the programme came around, and I was mentioned on air! Lucy Duran mentioned my suggestion of Hedningarna (managing in the process to mispronounce both my own name and the band's!). Much to my surprise they didn't have a copy of Karelia Visa available so they played a track from Kaksi. Oh well. I still think Knut liten og Sylvelin by Gåte would have been better (or anything from Giles Farnaby's Dream Band), but it's good to have had one's contribution acknowledged.

A propos Giles Farnaby's Dream Band, I note that vinyl versions like my own are going for £81 (and elsewhere for 150 Euros) online. and that there is now a CD issue. I commend it to you all, not just because one of the leaders of GFDB was the late Trevor Crozier (mentioned above, and my brother's best man) but because it's the only record I have ever played that has literally caused someone (a very attractive young lady, moreover) to bang on my door and ask what the amazing music was that she could hear.

Oh, and the title: my friend Chris Eyre used to be able to boast proudly that Trevor Crozier's dog owed him a pint (he still could, though both dog and owner are long deceased.) Rose, a magnificent lurcher ("Understands every word I say: doesn't take a blind bit of notice" - TC) had a party trick of drinking beer or (even better) cider out of pint tankards (there was some complex business with nose and paw that rendered it possible). So endearing was this that she was forever being provided with drinks on which to practise it (but not, I should add, to the extent that she was at any risk of intoxication - Trevor rationed her performances). She had a pint of cider off Chris.

Here's a link that gives a decent potted bio of Trevor. Though I wouldn't recommend you to buy Trouble Over Bridgewater: I had a copy and gave it to Oxfam. Despite the inclusion of Barry Dransfield among the "friends", it doesn't show Trev in a good light. The new material is weak, and the old stuff is noowhere near as god as the studio versions. A pity, because Trev could be wonderful live. (I remember him filling a brief but unexpected hiatus between acts at the Poynton Folk Festival with a marvellous - and understated - version of Percy French's very funny Mary Anne McHugh.) A Parcel of Old Crams is good though, and if you ever spot a copy of the Lyonesse album, buy it and tell me so I can hate you . (No, I don't have a copy, why do you ask?)

And I can't get it out of my head.....

I'm suffering an Ohrwurm. (But not this kind.)

A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Times had free copies of the new Ray Davies CD Working Man's Cafe, so I bought a paper to get the CD. The Sunday Times was the same old Europhobic nonsense, but the CD was very good. (I gather the non-freebie version has two more tracks; mine ends with Voodoo Walk.) One track in particular stands out for me, and I keep finding myself humming it: One More Time. It has to be his best melody since Waterloo Sunset, and the lyrics are terrific as well. OK, so its middle eight is businesslike rather than inspired, but I reckon it's a fine piece of work and deserves to be played frequently. What do other people think?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I thought you of all people would appreciate efforts to deconstruct the colonialist paternalistic agrarian hierarchy that disenfranchises the Tangata

In full (Blogger truncated my title):

"I thought you of all people would appreciate efforts to deconstruct the colonialist paternalistic agrarian hierarchy that disenfranchises the Tangata Whenua and erodes the natural resources of Aotearoa!"

Hilary is away this weekend, and Vanessa now returns home only when she wants her washing done, so the male Saunderses went to see Black Sheep, which actually marked Ruairidh's first 15 certificate at the cinema since he became old enough to see them legally. We both enjoyed it a lot: it's very silly, totally gross, and doesn't knowingly miss a single corny gag about sheep. (For example, at one point the hero fights off a were-sheep - a man who had been bitten by an experimental GM hybrid sheep - with a jar of mint sauce.) The female lead is a terribly New Age-y animal rights activist who keeps producing aromatherapy candles and reading auras (and who paralyses the aforementioned were-sheep with a skewer to an acupuncture point). Her best line comes when she and a couple of men enter a cottage whose owner has, unknown to them, been devoured by a modified sheep. They go into the kitchen and there's blood everywhere along with the signs of a violent struggle. "Oh...my....God...." she says. The others look at her. "The feng shui in this room is absolutely terrible!" (She also comes out with the line in my title, which must have taken many, many takes.)

Go and see it. It isn't great art, but it's great fun.

And there are many jokes about sex and sheep. Well, duh.

Striaght from the horse's pilot's mouth

Thinking about Judith Weiss's enthusiasm for nuking Iran, I was struck by this passage in the Guardian's obituary of Paul Tibbets, pilot of the aircraft which dropped the Hiroshima A-bomb. (I can't find it online but it's in the print edition.) Describing the moment when the bomb detonated, he said "My teeth told me more emphatically than my eyes of the Hiroshima explosion." Apparently there was a tingling sensation as his fillings interected with the radioactivity.

He nearly got that coveted Darwin award

This is definitely funny, though some commenters don't think it is.

Personally I like the commenter who said (a propos of "He was freed after police received a tip") "Obviously, for less than the usual 10% of the total ransom."

Two more countries he couldn't point to on a map

Oh, this is brilliant.

"Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed,"

And those Pakistanis, they would be of what religion?

On second thoughts

I may have unwittingly traduced Melanie Phillips in my recent post. I'd forgotten that, like Ann Coulter, she is a creationist and a global warming sceptic, rounding off her own anti-science crusade by constantly telling lies about the MMR vaccine. Not even Coulter leaves a trail of unvaccinated, deformed and sterile children in her wake: at least, not so far as I know.

Also, I hadn't then read this gem. The bit I like best is when she lays into Geoffrey Wheatcroft, who had said:

For years, the Tory party and the Tory press have been infiltrated by our own neoconservatives, more determined even than Blair to serve the national interest of another country. Under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard - egged on by Charles Moore, Matthew d’Ancona and Michael Gove - the Tories came close to being what the socialist leader Leon Blum called the French Communists, ‘a foreign nationalist party’.

Her response?

Eh? What is this other country whose ‘national interest’ the neo-cons supposedly serve? In the fevered imagination of the bigots who attack them, this is supposed to be Israel.

Oh, of course, Mel, it's all about Israel. Everything is about Israel. Any normal reader would realise at once that it was America that was being referred to, but Mel can't see that. Then again, she thinks the point of the following passage is to criticise America's links with Israel:

As Alan Cowell, the shrewd London correspondent of the New York Times, wrote last month, ‘If the Lebanon conflict said anything about what some Britons like to call their special relationship with America, it seemed to be this: in this Middle East war, the only special relationship bound the United States to Israel, not Britain’.

In fact, as you will have worked out for yourself, not being crazy, Alan Cowell was criticising Tony Blair's insistence, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that his embarrassing fawning over the Bush gang in some way gave him a huge amount of influence with the US administration. In fact, of course, Bush et al ignored him completely other than to give him orders.

Regarding her ignorant tilting at William Dalrymple, I'm not sure which of these statements is the most priceless:

1. "As for Islamic terrorism, Saddam was its godfather and patron."

Funny, because Saddam was a secularist who was often criticised by Iraq's mullahs for making their lives difficult. Perhaps she's thinking of the war he launched (with British and American backing) against the hardline Islamic regime in Iran. And the fact that al-Qaeda had no presence in Iraq until after the US invasion. Some godfather. Some patron.

2. "No-one has suggested Saddam was involved with 9/11"

Well, except the Bush Administration, which is why their response to 9/11 was to invade Iraq.

3. "He certainly had connections with al Qaeda"

Does hating each other's guts count as a connection?

4. "Islamic and Arab violence against the Jews was prompted by the entirely peaceful and lawful return of the Jews to their own ancestral home at the beginning of the 20th century."

The Jews hadn't been given an "ancestral home" until the UN established Israel in 1948. Up until then, the "peaceful returners" were stealing other people's land without even the fig-leaf of international respectability that the UN gave them. And these peaceful lambs were busily bombing civilians long before the Palestinians decided to emulate them.

Coincidentally, I recently came across a old comment by Judith-the-10%-Holocaust-denier Weiss, in which she describes Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's "Bring The Settlers Home" campaign as actually a "campaign to uproot the settlers from the heart of the historical Jewish homeland for the purpose of negotiating peace." While we all know by now that Weiss has no interest either in a negotiated peace or in the return of Israel to compliance with international law by dismantling its illegal settlements, it's revealing that she considers the "roots" of Israel's social misfits (each and every one fully aware that they had no right to build in someone else's country) to be deeper than those of the Arabs they ethnically cleansed, most of whose families had lived there since before Israel was invented. And she clearly shares with Mad Mel a belief in the myth of the "historic Jewish homeland" extending way beyond Israel (but where does it stop? Kashmir?) Isn't it funny how these people are keen to defend Israel's borders, but not to abide by them? Fanatical about the right of Israel to exist, provided that the Israelis don't have to live in it.

Weiss is of course an American, but I guess in Mel P we do have a domestic doozie pretty much as loathsome as Ann Coulter. Fortunately I doubt whether one Briton in ten thousand has ever heard of her, or ever will, which just shows that there are still things we can be proud of as a nation.

Friday, November 02, 2007

At least the other Blair resigned once he was the most hated man in Britain.

I can't imagine what it would take to get Sir Ian Blair (and I bet the government is regretting that knighthood now) to resign. In the matter of the shooting of Jean Charles Menezes, the court has ruled that the entire Metropolitan Police Force is guilty of homicide. Once upon a time we had public officials - including senor police officers - who understood the concept of responsibility. The Met right now has a head who understands only his salary and his pension: a pig, as it were, with his snout in the trough.

A good report here. I especially liked "We may well be short of many categories of copper - armed response guys who know anything about bombs, surveillance guys who can tell one olive-skinned bloke from another, officers at any level who are willing to do the right thing without being told to. We aren't short of senior police bureaucrats with apparently invulnerable political connections. We could spare one of them."

And to stop you weeping for the lost ideal of public accountability, here is a funnier (if extremely irreverent) take on the proceedings.

After R.U.R. now we have S.U.V....or something

This is, er, alarming.

I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now

For many years I have been a fan of the music of Steve Reich, and especially fascinated by some of his early experiments with tape loops such as Come Out. In this piece, we hear a fragment of speech played on two tape loops (later on four and eight) gradually drifting out of sync with each other. At first the effect is of a slight echo, but as the separation increases the actual speech rapidly becomes hard to distinguish, and what we are left with is patterns of high- medium- and low-frequency sounds. The high frequencies in particular comnine in strange ways to form bizarre sussurations. So Reich is pulling the sound apart horizontally, along its time axis, and thus drawing attention to its vertical (frequency) components.

Alvin Lucier, on the other hand, hit on a clever alternative: a sort of inversion of Reich's procedure. For his piece I Am Sitting In A Room, he recorded a fragment of speech, then played it back in a room, re-recorded it, played it back again and so on. This procedure amplifies the resonant frequencies of the room so that at first you hear the speech gradually becoming 'vertically' distorted, though the rhythmic aspects remain intact. Eventually the frequency distortion is so intense that the original speech rhythms become impossible to distinguish, and even spotting when the next iteration is beginning becomes hard.

Here is a link (via) to a site where you can download his recording. It's really quite extraordinary. And when you hear the recording you realise why in the text he describes the procedure as smoothing out irregularities in his speech: he has a stammer.

Then they came for Ann Coulter and I did not speak up because I was too busy organising the street party

I'd never actually read any Ann Coulter before encountering this post: in Britain we remain blissfully free not only of her but of anyone quite so loathsome. I mean, we have Michael Gove and Melanie Phillips, and that's bad enough: but they appear models of sweet reasonableness and toleration alongside Ms Coulter. To their paranoia and hatred she adds a uniquely Christian - and uniquely right-wing American Christian - hatred of anything non-Christian (and non-Jewish: for some reason she excludes Jews from her ranting).

It's worth persevering with Coulter's rubbish. She considers it "manifestly obvious" that a Muslim congressman should have to take an oath on the Bible rathe than the Koran,and demands that he go on record to state whether he believes the Holocaust happened (while requiring such a statement from no other Represntatives). Opposition to the teaching of "intelligent design" is a "faddish liberal cause". There is apparently a "worldwide terorist movement dedicated to killing Jews". The "singular threat to Jews at the moment is the complete annilihilation of Israel" (as though there had been a single day since its foundation when that was likely).

Or take this post, cheerleading for David Horowitz's fascist rallies. In it we learn that "Liberals believe in burning the American flag, urinating on crucifixes and passing out birth control pills to 11-year-olds without telling their parents." (Well that would liven up their party conferences.) Liberals also supposedly support "Islamo-fascism", which supposedly is something that exists. Oh, and it's OK to bully Muslim kids, especially if they're called Osama, and bad to provide any facilitoes for them to pray.

It must be weird living in the USA and having this kind of drivel beaming into your home every single day by the supposedly liberally-biased "mainstream media". A kind of relentless dripping tap, like the voices in the heads of the ants in T.H.White's The Sword In The Stone.

Just be thankful for the US Constitution, guys: it's all that stands between you and the thousand-year rule of Coulter, Horowitz, Limbaugh and the rest. (Not to mention Glenn Beck, who turned the Californian fires into an anti-Democrat punchline, to his shame.)

Put on your high heeled sneakers and put your wig hat on your head

I'm not surprised by Cherie Blair's hypocrisy here, though I am disappointed, as I'd previously considered her comparatively unaffected by her husband's anti-Muslim paranoia.

I am, however amused (as I'm sure I was meant to be) by the picture showing Cherie "expressing her personality" as a judge by wearing a hijab wig.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why reading film credits is always rewarding

Since when was Mo Tucker on bass guitar?

And wasn't there some Lou Reed guy? For example, singing on the track Heroin that appears just at the end of the clip?

Why yes, the Count is my favourite Sesame Street character. Why do you ask?

I loved this (via) . Though it gave me a strong desire to watch this again.

What goes around, comes around

I've just been listening (courtesy of the BBC's "Listen Again" facility) to tonight's episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It contained a line (as does the book) describing Sir Isaac Newton as the inventor of the cat-flap. I'd always taken this to be Adamsian rhetorical excess, but a little Googling suggests that in fact the great man did invent the cat-flap. At least, the Science Museum seem to believe he did, and as a child I was so knocked out by my first visit (aged 10) to the SM with an aunt that I went back twice alone in the next week. This confirmed me in my love of (a) science (b) pottering around museums by myself. I have retained both.

One of the things that blew my ten-year-old mind was the Foucault pendulum: seeing actual proof that the Earth had turned while I was in the museum just knocked my socks off. I've seen a similar one in the Louvre. There's also one in the Manchester student residence (near the Renold Building) where I have stayed twice for health & safety conferences. This last one, however, obstinately fails to rotate relative to the building, meaning either that the planet ceases to rotate during Hazards conferences, or that the pendulum's pivot is fucked (and that the building maintenance people have no understanding - despite all the signage - of what it's supposed to do).

My own student residence was a 1960s block, but our college (University College, Durham) was based in a medieval castle, and I ate all my meals in college in its medieval great hall (not unlike the Hogwarts one in the Harry Potter films). Unlike Dirk Gently, my college tutor (Gerald Brooke) lived out of college, in the village of Shincliffe. He was, however, just as eccentric as Prof. Chronotis, as I discovered when he interviewed me. I drew his attention to an envelope on the floor and was told "Oh, I always leave letters on the floor - it reminds me to post them". The logic is impeccable (and in fact as a student I adopted exactly that system for things I needed to post) but it's definitely unusual.

Which brings us (I suppose) by a commodius vicus of recirculation, by swerve of shore and bend of bay, back to Dirk Gently and environs.....