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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Video Fun - P.S.

And I should really put this up as well: I was talking to my daughter about how funny Christopher Walken can be (I've just bought The Maiden Heist on a Region 1 DVD, but there's his wonderfully deadpan scene in Pulp Fiction too) and she asked if I'd seen this. I hadn't:



but I don't think I shall forget it now.

Video Fun - the National Treasures that are Richard & Linda Thompson

Some videos of Richard and Linda Thompson, separately and together. First, the pair of them doing a song which I loved the instant I heard it (which was when this TV programme went out). It was some years before I found that out of all the songs they did together this was one of only two written by Linda and not Richard. (Brownie points if you get the other one - I expect Phil will.....)



To my mind each of their five joint albums contains at least one really brilliant song. This next one is from "Hokey Pokey":



....while this one was the stand-out track on "Pour Down Like Silver", but here is done by Linda without Richard:



Now we have possibly my favourite RT song ever, which is also his most requested in concerts:



And finally another of Linda's songs. Couldn;t find a clip of her version but here are Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, who had a hit with it:

With thanks to Sam Gamgee for les mots justes....

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sitting here in Limbo....

.....well, actually in the departure lounge (which my iPhone just optimistically corrected to "rapture lounge" ) at Malta International Airport. Our flight exists and will be leaving, though not for a while yet as it left Manchester at about the time it should have been leaving here. Never mind, we have friends in Manchester we can stay with if we arrive too late to get home tonight.

The involuntary extension to our holiday meant we got to do various things we'd originally not had time for, quite apart from seeing the Pope. And it could have been much worse: some of the staff at Hilary's college are stuck in the USA or Australia until May.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Or then again, maybe they're Chinese corkscrew handles found in a Belfast skip

Chances of our getting home this week seem to be improving. Even if our Manchester flight on Thursday is cancelled, Air Malta have laid on a load of extra flights to Northern Italy which is good news when you're stuck on an island. Malta was once described as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier". Unfortunately it's also an unshiftable aircraft carrier........

Today we had a walk round the cliffs at Dingli and went back to Rabat to see St Agatha's Catacombs (really interesting). The museum at the catacombs was another of these fascinating everything-and-the-kitchen-sink places (a bit of pencilled music and a signature of Mascagni, anyone? or a mummified Nile crocodile?) whose most memorable exhibit must surely qualify for an award as the most tentative description ever made of an artefact:

"The terracotta Shabtis shown here are presumably of a Phoenicio-Punic make, found probably in Maltese tombs, and were possibly used as amulets." (Emphases in original).

Hunting the Haggis

Uncle Jimmy takes time out from his busy schedule of paranoid ranting about Polanski's The Ghost (how dare they make a film with a character in it who resembles Tony Blair? how dare they?) and relentless campaigning for the Tories (or more accurately, against Labour and the Lib Dems, though if he's hoping for a major BNP/UKIP swing he's likely to be disappointed) to tell us all how silly we are to be concerned about the ash cloud (the reason I'm still in Malta). Apparently it only affected Britain: who knew? Certainly not President Obama, who cancelled a trip to Poland. Still, to ignorant American rednecks like Jimmy Europe probably DOES just comprise the UK and a bunch of funny-sounding Librulls 'n' Commies.

Oh, and he's now claiming to be a Scot, BTW:

Pat Kane makes me embarrassed to be Scottish – a typically resentful, angry, boring, self-righteous, self-pitying, left-wing, SNP-supporting, anti-war retard. And he even manages to shoehorn Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ drivel into the last part of the show. Toe-curling & cringeworthy leftism…

Hoots (of laughter) mon. I'm sure all the actual Scots are wetting themselves with worry over embarrassing this typically boring, self-righteous, self-pitying, right-wing, Sarah Palin-supporting, racist jackass, who is about as Scottish as a BigMac.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

....and Benedict the Vicar of Chris

Well, here we still are, stuck in Malta by Iceland's tedious cloud of volcanic ash. Our flight yesterday was cancelled, but in plenty of time so we weren't trailing around the airport but could extend our hotel booking and book onto another flight on Thursday. OK, so it's to Manchester, but it's off the island! (We worked out that to get home without using planes would take four to five days and cost an obscene amount of money.)

So our stay here has been extended. We had to get a room upgrade as our old room was taken but they gave us a discount so who's complaining? Yesterday and today the Pope was in town and we actually saw him from quite close (not really trying but it's a small place and he's a big event somewhere this Catholic).



What else have we done apart from eating and drinking? (When life hands you lemons, squeeze them onto your carpaccio of swordfish.) We went to the Three Cities (Birgu, Cospicua and Senglea), where the Knights of St John lived before Valletta was built after the Great Siege in 1565. Wonderfully atmospheric, and has a little museum in an old chaoel just round the corner from St Lawrence's Church. The guidebooks tell you it contains relics of La Vallette, on of the famous Grand Masters, and so it does. What they don't tell you is that it's one of those amazing museums of all kinds of stuff tumbled together. It has La Vallette's sword. It has the battledress of an anti-aircraft gunner killed in the 1940 air raids, next to an SS cap badge and armband. It has medieval music manuscripts and early printed books. It's one of those wonderful places which at first sight seems a normal kind of dusty old museum but where every case contains something amazing.


We had a boat trip round the harbours, and we also visited some more spectacular stone age remains, one of which (the Hypogeum) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We went round St John's Co-Cathedral (I so want to call its other half, St Paul's in Mdina, the Pepsi-Cathedral) and saw its many treasures including some terrific Caravaggios. There is also the reliquary where they used to display the forearm of John the Baptist. When Napoleon invaded, the Grand Master fled with the holy relic to save it. We wondered whether he checked it in, or more likely took it as hand baggage.....

Malta's buses continue to delight. They often have religious or other slogans on the back, and Hilary spotted this one today. I leave it to you to decide whether it is a misprint or someone's idea of humour....



Thursday, April 15, 2010

As pigs lead one to truffles, so American neofascists lead one to Internet bollocks

Uncle Jimmy, that ever reliable source of fun, links to this article.

Sigh..... it may only take a small amount of PETN to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft, but you need to have it up against the fuselage to do that (not easy when it's in your tits and possibly even harder if it's in your thigh). Plus modern aircraft can happily keep flying with a hole in the fuselage big enough for a member of the cabin crew to fall out of, so let's not be too hysterical here. If this isn't an actual hoax, all we have to look forward to is a litle more variety in what parts of their own anatomy the usual bunch of saddos set alight (or more usually fail to set alight). Before you get too excited at the thought of hundreds of brown-skinned, Arabic-speaking passengers rubbing themselves up against the walls like bitches in season, just remember that so far no attempt at self-immolation by a passenger has done as much damage to an aircraft as a microwaved curry.

But what's really funny is the list of most popular articles at the National Examiner, whose first entry (at time of writing) is this gem.

And no, it's not a hoax. It's part two in a series. You want part one? Here it is.

If this is the kind of stuff Jimmy spends his time reading no wonder his brain has turned to mush. Here's more from the same author.

In which we find the Maltese Falcon

Yesterday we went to Gozo, the small island off the north-west of Malta, which was delightful. Long day though: bus from Valetta across Malta to the ferry; ferry; then travelled round Gozo using one of those hop on-hop off open-topped tour buses like we have in Edinburgh; then back again. There's plenty to see on Gozo: the Ggantija temples, which are 5,800 years old and reputed to be the oldest free-standing structures in existence.



The cathedral in Vittoria, which doesn't have a dome (they ran out of money) but has instead a trompe l'oeil ceiling which simulates a dome. Note the (fake) gecko on the (fake) window near the base of the (fake) dome.



Though one's oeil is less tromped if one goes round into a side aisle.....



Also more picturesque scenery than you can shake a stick at (if you have a stick). A splendid day, and the bus ride back (which began with 24 standing passengers in a bus designed for 12) was followed by an ace meal in a tapas bar. Today we went to the Three Cities, but I don't have the pictures sorted yet.


It's been a good couple of days for ships though. Yesterday just after breakfast the MSC Splendida steamed past the hotel - the largest cruise ship I've seen close up:


And all week I've been puzzling over an amazing yacht we can see from the hotel. There seemed to be something odd about its masts. Well, indeed there is. we saw it up close today and it's the Maltese Falcon, which as well as being an amazingly luxurious yacht is seriously cool as regards the sailing bits. Read all about her here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

25 Final Answers

The final answers to the 25 First Lines:

1. My father is a doctor, he’s a family man

Albert Hammond: Free Electric Band

2. Look at them yo-yos: that’s the way you do it
Dire Straits: Money For Nothing (guessed by Persephone)

3. I’ve been caught in a trap I set for myself
Gomez: Silence


4. Turn around, don’t whisper out my name

Eric Andersen: Close The Door Lightly When You Go

5. Let me tell you ‘bout the Manfreds

Manfred Mann (& the Manfreds): The One In The Middle

6. See the girl with cymbals on her fingers, entering through the door
The Hollies: Stop Stop Stop (guessed by Persephone)

7. I thought you had passed, but you caught me at last

Roy Harper: Tom Tiddler's Ground

8. Life goes on day after day
Gerry & the Pacemakers: Ferry Cross the Mersey (guessed by Lisa)

9. Oh the time will come up when the winds will stop

Bob Dylan: When The Ship Comes In


10. Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are
Pink Floyd: Pigs (Three Different Ones) (guessed by Phil)

11. Traffic’s wild tonight

The Boomtown Rats: Diamond Smiles

12. As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent
David Bowie: Diamond Dogs (guessed by Phil)

13. You’re so hot, teasing me
Abba: Does Your Mother Know? (guessed by Lisa)

14. Well no one told ne about her
The Zombies: She's Not There (guessed by Persephone)

15. Ooh, my little pretty one, pretty one
The Knack: My Sharona (guessed by Persephone)

16. You went away and left me long ago
I hear You Knocking (guessed by Persephone though she couldn't remember the artist)

17. Her name was Mia from North Korea
Status Quo: The Oriental


18. A place where nobody dared to go
Olivia Newton-John and ELO: Xanadu


19. Queen Vicky used to sit upon her magic throne

Matt McGinn: Christine

20. Zephyr in the sky at night I wonder

Madonna: Ray of Light

21. I’m a little pimp with my hair gassed back
Frank Zappa (and Captain Beefheart) : Willie the Pimp (guessed by Phil)

22. Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
The Beatles: All My Loving (guessed by Persephone)

23. I was lying in my bed, pull the silken sheets up tight
Bonzo Dog Band: Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? (guessed by Phil)

24. It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished ‘em well
Chuck Berry: You Never Can Tell (guessed by Phil)

25. I could have been a sailor, could have been a cook
Nick Drake: One Of These Things First (guessed by Phil)

Here are a couple more clips for you:



And you can have this one as a bonus:



Then this (surely one of the saddest songs to become a top ten hit):

Both make squeaky noises if insufficiently lubricated

Yesterday we went to Mdina, Rabat and Mosta. Busy day, saw loads of interesting stuff, but the two I feel I should share with you are:

(1) The St Paul Shipwreck Church back here in Valetta (just round the corner from our hotel) which contains, among other grisly Pauline relics, a wrist bone of the apostle. Surely that should be an ankle bone, so it could be the tarsus of Paul of Tarsus? Or should we think of him as Paul of Carpus? I'm confused.

(2) The Roman town house in Rabat contains many interesting artefacts. It was also excavated in part by a bloke with the awesome name of Sir Themistocles Zammit, who sounds like a character from the Rocky Horror Show and was apparently known to his friends as "Temi". No, really. Anyway, among the objects on display were these:



which were described thus (item number 2)



Well, it's easy to see how the confusion might occur.....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Let It Lie.....

I tried to post this picture to Facebook but it seems simply to hang up when trying to attach pictures so screw it: you guys can have it instead.



Taken today in Marsaxlott. One of the other flower-tubs nearby had a sleeping dog in it.

What we did on our holidays

We visited the neolithic temples at Hagar Qim today. Very impressive:



and they seemed to like cutting window-like openings in their huge stones:



I was very taken, though, by the ancients' apparent propensity for carvings of fat ladies (or BBW, as they're known in the porn trade - and some of the Maltese examples are definitely nekkid). No size zeroes please we're BBW cultists. Most of the good ones have been carted off to the museums, but two feet remain in situ from a picture of one of the large ladies. Enjoy.

....and stay out

If the last post hasn't maxed you out on American nutjobs, here's an anthology of Michael Savage. Savage has the distinction of being AFAIK the only American right-winger to be so publicly crazy he is banned from entering the UK. After listening to some of those clips from his show this may not surprise you, though it surprised Uncle Jimmy who continually posts links to Savage's bons mots. The "Keep Tony Blair for PM" link there includes a post which Jimmy didn't originally publish - but wrongly thought too good to waste - because its title (“Is Savage REALLY a Hate-Monger? REALLY?”) seemed to him rhetorical. Oh it is, Jimmy, it is (though it seems to me your caps lock has its usual stickiness).

Let me leave you with this.

Bad Science meets the "War" on "Terror" - what's not to like?

As a devotee both of Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian and of the ludicrous media hype whenever we are required to be panicked by the ingenuity of the "terrorists" we're supposedly at "war" with (examples would be the guy who set his arse alight and the one who couldn't even set fire to his shoe) I am delighted to present to you the following. Firstly, Dick Destiny's blog, which is simply glorious. Next, a couple of articles from The Register, one on home-made explosives and one on home-brewed ricin, both of which prove excellent antidotes to the paranoia we are all supposed to feel.

P.S. One of my all-time Dick Destiny favourites is this one. Especially the bit about planes stopping in mid-air.

Let's bring freedom and democracy to Iraq

LabourStart has launched a campaign at the request of the TUC -- in support of the Iraqi teachers union.

Please take a moment to send off your message.

The Iraqi Government and the main political parties (ISCI, Al Dawa, Al Sadr Movement and the Iraqi Islamic Party) stand accused of trying to take over the Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU).

- In January they organised bogus elections for a new, compliant leadership.
- In February, Ibrahim al-Battat, the ITU leader in Basra, was arrested for three days for refusing to hand over the union's files.
- An arrest warrant has been issued for the ITU national leader Jasim Hussein Mohammed, who served time in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison during Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. He says "we are witnessing the dispossession of the union by the government and parties."

Trade unions must be free of political and state interference. Freedom of association is a fundamental human right as set out in the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation, and that implies no outside interference in the internal democracy of the union. The Iraqi Constitution also guarantees the freedom of trade unions.

This online campaign targets the London branches of the main Iraqi political parties.

Send your message now - click here.
Please pass this message on!

Thank you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More of those political Christians Uncle Jimmy seems not to know about

On the matter of Christians who view politics on terms of religion, this site may be of interest.

As may this story from Texas.

In which Uncle Jimmy makes George W Bush look like an intellectual giant

I promised no more posts on Uncle Jimmy unless he was funny. Well, I had to laugh at this one.

Not so much his claim to have been a prospective parliamentary candidate, though I remain to be convinced that he is British and thus eligible. Still, I dare say he campaigned against Labour, so I assume it was either for the BNP or perhaps more likely for UKIP (BNP-lite). While revealing, that isn't what's funny. See this, right at the bottom?

How often do we hear Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists – MPs or not - even Christians talking of politics in terms of religion? That’s right – NEVER.

Only Muslims do.

And they still want to argue that it is a religion only and not a political movement? Pull the other one.


I mean, where do you start with such an utterly dim-witted piece of drivel? Do you start by pointing out the Hindu extremists in the Indian BJP whose aim is to make India Hindu rather than secular and multicultural, and whose thugs destroyed the mosque at Ayodhya? Or the Tamil Tigers, for many years the most feared terrorist organisation in the world, and seeking to carve out a Hindu homeland in Sri Lanka?

OK, they're not Muslims but he didn't actually list Hindus, so let's come back to Christians. Do any of them talk of politics in terms of religion? Is the Pope Catholic? He's a head of state, after all. Or how about Ian Paisley and the other Northern Irish politicians? Jimmy is always keen to talk up Tony Blair's role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, and that is one of Blair's few real achievements. But perhaps if he was British himself Jimmy would have been aware not just of what the two sides in Northern Ireland were fighting about (the respective roles of Britain and the Irish Republic in the political structure of Northern Ireland) but the fact that those differences of opinion were viewed, and presented, wholly in terms of a Protestant/Catholic polarity. Closer to (Jimmy's) home, Sarah Palin made great play of her Christian credentials during her vice-presidential campaign, while President Obama's detractors (including birthers such as Jimmy) have bent over backwards attempting to prove that he was brought up as a Muslim. Talking of politics in terms of religion? Hell, no.

But it gets better. Do Jews ever talk of politics on terms of religion? Well, er, yes, if they live in Israel. There are several ultra-orthodox Jewish parties, such as the National Religious Party (do you think their name is a giveaway?), Shas, Agudath Yisrael and Degel Hatorah. Shas in particular perform strongly in Israeli elections and generally have a role in governing coalitions. Moreover, the constitution of Israel means that there is no such thing as Israeli nationality, only Jewish nationality, full civil rights regarding property ownership, bringing one's spouse to Israel, or place of residence are available only to Jews. So apart from those minor political facts on the ground, Jews don't view politics on terms of religion, ooh no.

Yet even that isn't the best counter-example. How often do Sikhs talk of politics in terms of religion? Well, when they attempted to declare a separatist Sikh state in Punjab, my guess would be quite a lot. When as a result their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, was besieged by the Indian Army, both sides were spending rather a lot of time talking of politics in terms of religion. The Sikhs in particular spent so much time talking about it that a group of them who happened to be in Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's bodyguard assassinated her. Which I think is a fairly political act.

How often do we hear Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists – MPs or not - even Christians talking of politics in terms of religion? That’s right – ALL THE GODDAMNED TIME.

Time to point and laugh at the poor ignorant pontificator who knows nothing about religion, nothing about politics, nothing about Britain, nothing except that he hates Muslims. Maybe it's time for him to go home now.



Jiddispjacini seems to be the hardest word

We arrived in Malta yesterday for a week of R & R (which in Maltese terms seems to stand for Rabbit and Red wine), Staying at the Hotel British in Valletta which is fine: no frills but no bother either. It has free wifi which is how I come to be blogging. Spent today wandering around Valletta, taking in the local wildlife



the annual national parade of all of Malta's Scouts and Guides



and the National War Museum, which was fascinating. It contains the George Cross which King George VI awarded to the people of the island for their withstanding of the most intense bombing (of our side at least) of the war (in three days Malta took as much ordnance as the whole of the UK during the Battle of Britain). It also contains "Faith", one of three Gloster Sea Gladiators (along with "Hope" and "Charity") which formed the whole of Malta's air defence for the first few weeks of Italian air raids in 1940. These were elderly biplanes which couldnlt go as fast as the bombers they were defending Malta against, but they shot some planes down, and generally surprised the heck out of the Italian Air Force until more modern planes could be delivered.





Malta in some ways feels incredibly British. Many of the buses are elderly Leyland ones, most of the post boxes and phone boxes are old-style British red ones, they drive on the left, and most of the signs are in English) which is one of the two official languages). However, they tend to speak Malti (the other one) to each other, and every now and then one is brought up short by a plaque or a notice only in Malti. Because Malti is very different from most European languages: it seems more like a bastard version of Arabic but in our alphabet, give or take the odd accent. The first word of my title, as you may has worked out, means "sorry".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vincero.....Vincero...

Further to my recent visit to watch the SPSC 5 in court, i am happy to announce that yesterday the judge announced that he was throwing out all the charges against them. I should think so too. More detail here.



I'm the handsome bearded chap on the right with the flag and the blue hat.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Elephants never forget

Another possible Blair safari headline might be




Look at the huge pr*ck on that elephant

That picture reminds me of a Leon Rosselson song, but as I can't find a link to the lyrics I'll need to type them out:

JUMBO THE ELEPHANT

Jumbo the elephant, he wasn't elegant, and his intelligence was small;
But he was a hell of a nice sort of elephant,
Willing and mild, like a lovable child
Obedient to everyone's call.

Jumbo lived in the jingle-jangle jungle of a concrete town,
Worked clearing debris, hauling girders, heaving timber till the night came down.
Never known another home,
He was as happy as he could be:
Everyone gave him buns,
Petted and patted him playfully,
And the Mayor
(Who owned half the town and Jumbo too)
The Mayor
Taught him all the things that an elephant should do.
The Mayor
When the town turned out for the liberty parade
The Mayor
As the crowd waved flags and the brass bands played
Proud as a cat, in his cock-doodle hat
The fat Mayor sat
On the elephant's back

Jumbo the elephant, he wasn't elegant, and his intelligence was small;
But he was a hell of a nice sort of elephant,
Willing and mild, like a lovable child
Obedient to everyone's call.

Every morning all the crowds would gather in the market square:
Came to watch the elephant performing all the tricks that he'd been taught by the Mayo
He could dance, he could prance
Everyone laughing to see the fun
Lumbering, rumba-ing,
Keeping time to the beat of the drum.
And the Mayor
The ways of an elephant were ways he understood.
The Mayor
Gave Jumbo champagne as a treat for being good
The Mayor
At the word of command the great beast bowed
The Mayor
Mounted like a Rajah to the cheers of the crowd
And proud as a cat, in his cock-doodle hat
The fat Mayor sat
On the elephant's back

Jumbo the elephant, he wasn't elegant, and his intelligence was small;
But he was a hell of a nice sort of elephant,
Willing and mild, like a lovable child
Obedient to everyone's call.

Then one Sunday as the dry winds flickered through the summer heat
The Mayor was riding Jumbo at the head of a procession in the crowded street.
Suddenly, for all to see
Jumbo stopped, heard the Mayor call his name.
Silently, defiantly
Jumbo was playing another game.
And the Elephant
Waved his trunk and trumpeted, shattering the sky
The Elephant
The crowds fled in terror as they heard his jungle cry
The Elephant
Rampaging and trampling through the town
The Elephant
"Jumbo!" screamed the Mayor as he was hurtled to the ground.
And tit for tat
You could hear the bones crack
The elephant sat
On the fat Mayor's back.

Jumbo the elephant, he wasn't elegant, and his intelligence was small;
But he was a hell of a nice sort of elephant,
Till he turned wild, like a violent child:
You can't trust an elephant at all..

Does he think we're all as stupid as he is?

From Tony Blair's website:

"And so we are off again. My sixth election, three won two lost, and I am determined this one makes it four-two. "

In what sense his sixth election? Blair was born in 1953, so the first general election he voted in will have been the same as mine, the February 1974 one. Since then we've had the second 1974 election, then 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005 and now 2010. So it's his tenth as a voter. Not that then. He joined the Labour party in 1975, so it's his eighth as a party member. Not that either. Discounting his first attempt at entering parliament, when he lost his deposit in the Beaconsfield by-election, he stood for Sedgefield six times in general elections and was elected in all of them. Not his personal election record then - and in any case Blair is not standing for election in 2010. (So never mind "sixth" - in what possible sense is this "his" election?) The six general elections he did fight divide into three lost and three won, so not that either. He fought three (all won) as party leader.

So we are forced to one of two conclusions. Either Tony Blair is incapable of counting up to six (or can't be bothered to count the ones where he was merely a constituency MP so makes wild guesses); or yet again he is simply incapable of telling the truth even when there is no advantage to lying. It only took eight words to reach the first easily-checked lie. Impressive, eh? Remember, this wasn't some interviewer putting him on the spot where he had to come up with a figure instantly: it's his own website.

And Uncle Jimmy wants to know why the media are ignoring Blair's plans to have a safari holiday in Africa, and haven't been falling over themselves to do puff headlines about Big Political Beasts? Well, mostly because they correctly figure nobody gives a stuff where a grasping self-publicist has-been spends his holidays. I suppose it would be newsworthy if he is paying for it himself for once and not going as the guest of some arms-dealer pal or other. (Does anyone know? Or is it all hidden in his dozens of shell accounts?) But if it's easy headlines Jimmy wants, how about these?

If you follow elephants you have to keep a look out for gigantic turds

You can never have too much rhino if you're Tony Blair



Another lion performance from Blair

No more pounding the beat, no more beating the suspects

Good news - but see this:

"The court heard Hanvey had a previous conviction in 1999 for assaulting a man, in similar circumstances, who was in detention at Bootle Street police station in Manchester."

So why was he still employed as a policeman? Beating up suspects is after all something of a big no-no for the police, or so we are led to believe. If I were to be convicted of assaulting one of our customers I would not expect to find my job waiting for me on my return from jail. Why do Greater Manchester Police have lower standards than a bank?

The Daily Mail Song

This is a wonderful song about a British newspaper. Foreign readers unfamiliar with the Daily Mail will soon get the idea of what it's like.

Because democracy is not a spectator sport

A mashup video from TakePart in remembrance of Howard Zinn.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

....or the End of the Beginning?

And while finding the clip of Status Quo at the Montreux Jazz Festival for that last post, I found this one from the same set, which seems quite appropriate for the day the date has been announced for Britain's next general election.

Rocking all over the blog

Somehow I don't think anyone is going to make any more guesses at the 25 First Lines. (Probably most of you have already looked them up.) So before I publish the final annotated list, here are a few videos so you can kick yourselves (while enjoying the music, of course). Persephone guessed the first one, though she did need a hint to get the artist:



And here are a few of the unguessed ones:

This one by Gomez has embedding disabled.

How the heck did you miss Bob?











Couldn't resist

Hilary and I were just watching a documentary on BBC4 about Rodgers & Hart, so what could I do but post a couple of clips of specially good songs I hadn't known before. (Well, I knew the second one in Mama Cass's version but I have to say I prefer the original.)



Sunday, April 04, 2010

Oh, the planet will get on just fine.

James Lovelock reckons we can't save the planet.

As my readers are probably aware, I tend to go with Bjorn Lomborg on this one: that man-made global warming is real, but that the proposed spending on delaying (not preventing) it via the Kyoto Protocols etc could probably be spent in better ways to improve the lot of mankind (eradicating diseases, providing clean water and education etc). Which is pretty much what Lovelock is saying too. Personally I have no doubt whatosever that life on earth will survive the coming changes: as long as we have an atmosphere and a magnetic field we can withstand pretty much anything. Whether human life, let alone human society, will survive is another matter altogether.

Though a skunk would have been worse

Ewwww.

Video Fun - Janis Ian

There is a programme on Radio Scotland called Get It On, which is a bit like the Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour except that the DJ picks the theme and then lets the listeners phone, text or email their suggestions for the evening;s playlist (it's a 2-hour programme, four nights a week).

Last week one of the themes was towns and cities. So we had 24 Hours From Tulsa, (If You're Going To) San Francisco, Letter From America by the Proclaimers (which includes a great list of Scottish towns). And so on. They missed this one though, and I didn't think of it until afterwards. Possibly my favourite Janis Ian song ever.



25 First Lines - some hints

The flow of guessing for the first lines quiz seems to have dried up. OK, so my brother didn't contribute on account of breaking his hip and then dying, but what excuse do the rest of you have?

Here are the ones not yet guessed, with some clues.

1. My father is a doctor, he’s a family man

A hit for a Gibraltarian singer-songwriter who on the whole did better at writing hits for other people. Leo Sayer's biggest hit, and the Hollies' last real biggie - to say nothing of Little Arrows for Leapy Lee. All penned by this chap, but this was the only real hit he had under his own name.

3. I’ve been caught in a trap I set for myself

They're from Southport. This was a single from their fourth studio album. Other singles from the same album were Catch Me Up and Sweet Virginia.

4. Turn around, don’t whisper out my name

If you check this blog you'll see that not too long ago I saw this chap live. A singer-songwriter less famous than #9 but not doing badly, especially back in the sixties. Fairport Convention did a good cover version of this song.

5. Let me tell you ‘bout the Manfreds

Surely there's a clue in there about the group whose hit this was?

7. I thought you had passed, but you caught me at last

You guessed Pigs by Pink Floyd, That was side 2 track 1 of Animals. Listen to the same side and track of their previous album and you would find this chap on guest vocals. From his fourth album.

9. Oh the time will come up when the winds will stop

Oh come ON. The most famous singer-songwriter in history comes up with some of his most memorable imagery and nobody guesses it?

11. Traffic’s wild tonight

A pretty substantial hit though it doesn't end happily. Its singer keeps getting in the news these days for writing letters.

17. Her name was Mia from North Korea

A very politically incorrect song by a group renowned (not strictly accurately) for the limited harmonic range of their accompaniments.

18. A place where nobody dared to go

In the week Whip It is released in the UK, here's the theme music from an earlier film about roller skating.

19. Queen Vicky used to sit upon her magic throne

There's no shame in missing this one. A song about the Profumo affair by a well-known Scottish satirical songwriter of the 1960s.

20. Zephyr in the sky at night I wonder

Her marriage was forever in the news, along with her adoption attempts. This was one of her biggest hits. I don't believe you missed it. She even did it at Live Earth.