Sunday, October 16, 2005


It’s been a terrible week for celebrity, not least the ones in my age group who, it can be gently said, are getting on a bit. Prince is having a hip replacement, it’s all that prancing around in really high shoes. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, so blood transfusions are against his religion, he’d rather take anti-inflammatory drugs, go figure.

The Rolling Stones, now you all know about stars demand in their dressing rooms in order to perform, the Stones have a defibrillator, used to shock the heart back into normal rhythm. Sigh, youth is so wasted on the young.

Madonna has also been in the wars, the rabbis are very cross about her song and are threatening all sorts of dire punishments. I suspect the music-loving punters are going to hate it anyway, so maybe she should just bury it quietly alongside her husband’s new movie. Didn’t anybody learn from Bob Dylan on what religion does to music?

Sienna Miller, get a grip, do not sob and beg and for a man’s attention, it’s just not dignified. Learn from Mariah Carey, and speaking of which, Eminem has redeemed himself by apologizing for mocking Mariah’s sobbing and begging in a song.

Boing and it’s there, the belly containing one Tomkitten, who has grown miraculously large in a very short space of time. Look at that inverted belly button, something not right about the timeline of this event, no wonder the Stepford Wives Virgin Birth Miracle Baby jokes are coming thick and fast.

Katie's aunt has denied rumours of IUV (did anyone ask?) but there’s something funny about the whole thing if you ask me. According to Kelly Preston, ie. John Travolta’s wife, Katie is not allowed to scream in agonizing pain as she is giving birth, nope, she has to bite her tongue off, because the baby must not be startled. Poor Katie, too late to run now.

The term “jumping on couches” has entered the lexicon, meaning to openly express your love and infatuation with someone. Jumped on a couch lately?

Celebrity is the new social addiction.

"The real change in recent years is that youngsters want to be famous for being famous. They don't feel they need to have a skill. People used to want to be pop stars and footballers, and before then nurses and doctors; now they just want to be famous, and if you say 'What for?' they don't care."

On October 13 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the ninth annual Underpants Run, was held. The mile long event pokes fun at the more serious Ironman competition that takes place at the same time.

"It was a reaction to the abhorrent and unbelievable practice of wearing Speedos around town, in the post office, the grocery store, even restaurants,"
said founder and former professional triathlete Paul Huddle. It is now a fundraiser for a local charity.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Who would have thought that knitting would ever become sexy, it’s the “new yoga”, the “new rock 'n roll”, everyone’s doing it, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Iman, Hilary Swank, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Zeta-Jones knits in between games of bad golf and suing the tabloids, and recently busted supermodel Kate Moss, who will now have plenty of knitting time on her hands.

Men are also getting into it, here’s Russel Crowe knitting and bang goes that hunky Gladiator image. This guy calls himself an anarchic knitter and this one knits with bubble wrap. Knitting was once a manly art, the best knitter in the world is a man, Kaffe Fassett, so it’s only a matter of time before we see uber-metrosexual David Beckham casting on stitches during half-time.

A factory in a developing country can knit a jersey in about half an hour for 25 cents, so it’s not parsimony that’s fuelling the new knitting thang, it’s a move towards good old fashioned values, turning away from soulless uniform mass manufacturing towards a more peaceful past. It’s therapy, stress-relief, creativity and what you make is entirely unique, not always in a good way.

It’s also an opportunity for women to get together and knit and bitch, young urban professional women, what Diablo Cody calls the New Domestics, who are reclaiming the feminine arts, with an interesting modern twist. Get your needles into the Tetris baby blanket, the knitted uterus or breasts. Need an Elvis wig?

If you’re reading this and knitting at the same time, here’s geek knitting.

Pic from here

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Here they are folks, the 12 books that had the greatest influence on our lives, as decided by Melvyn Bragg for a TV series for ITV :

Darwin - The Origin of Species (1859)
The First Rule Book of the Football Association (1863)
William Shakespeare's First Folio (1623)
Newton - Principia Mathematica (1687)
Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations (1776)
William Wilberforce - Speech to the House of Commons (May 12 1789)
The King James Bible (1611)
Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine (1769)
Mary Wollstonecraft - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
Michael Faraday - Experimental Research in Electricity (1855)
Marie Stopes - Married Love (1918)
Magna Carta (1215)

Shakespeare’s First Folio are the early versions of his poems and plays, apart from some of that, I haven’t read any of the world’s most important books all the way through. I flipped through the King James Bible, skipped the boring parts with all the begats, loved the sexy love poems, and skipped most of Revelations, which was way violent.

Most of the books on the list would be heavy going for anybody, Origin of Species is readable enough, but the patent for the Spinning Jenny, which ushered in the industrial age, is not something you’re going to take to the beach. William Wilberforce’s speech, which heralded the emancipation of the slaves, is probably quite short (how long can a person talk) so in the interests of a well-rounded education one should probably try and find a two page summary on Wikipedia, and same goes for Mary Wollstonecraft and Marie Stopes. I’ll take Michael Faraday’s word for it on electricity, because all I want to know is that I flip a switch and the light goes on. As for the Principia Mathematica, hello calculator.

Mr. Bragg’s selection is heavily weighted towards old books that only scholars would have read, there’s only one from the last century, which suggests that nothing of any earth-shattering importance has been written since 1918. Shouldn’t the Windows Office Manual be in there, or Internet for Dummies?

What’s the football rule manual doing in amongst the books that changed the world? I’m sure fitba’ is crucially important to some parts of the world, but the only thing it’s changed is what human beings do on Saturday afternoons.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



Pic purloined F R

Monday, October 10, 2005


Anna Wintour, the long time editor of Vogue and primo pelt-pusher, was pied in Paris by PETA as she left a fashion show. The pie was a vegetarian tofu tart and the culprit vanished into the crowd, whereupon Ms. Wintour was cleaned up and appeared with a small dent in her dignity. PETA targeted her for running fur advertisements and "dozens of pages of pro-fur editorials and advertising each year" while refusing to run PETA ads.

It’s the second time this year that PETA has pied Anna Wintour, here’s PETA's take on the use of pie in protest and why Anna Wintour is a target.

Is your dog too ashamed to walk around the neighbourhood due to his lack of, um, since you had him “fixed”? Now your dog can have a sturdy set of prosthetic balls of varying sizes and degrees of firmness. Not that there’s anything he can do with them but lick them. It’s all in the cause of canine aesthetics and the invention was one of the winners in this year’s Ig Nobel Awards, conferred each year by science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research for the most pointless and laughable piece of scientific research. The awards come with “no cash but much cachet, and reward those research projects that first make people laugh, then make them think”.

Other winners include studies on whether humans swim faster through water or syrup, the effect of watching Star Wars clips on locusts’ brains and an alarm clock that runs away and hides as it goes off. Penguin faeces are the fascinating topic in the Fluid Dynamics winner’s research, which measured the pressure that builds up inside a penguin when it’s incubating an egg and can’t crap for months. Isn’t science thrilling?

There’s also the Literature section which was won by the inventive Nigerians of 419 fame, Mrs. Miriam Abacha will presumably not be collecting her prize in person.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


It’s hard to tell what’s funny, one person’s hilarious is wildly offensive to someone else. I thought this was funny in a wryly human way, I told a friend and he didn’t think it funny at all.

How about this one, is it funny? Only to liberals, but have you noticed that all the really funny stuff is on the lefty side, like this, andthis, and how about this? The Onion is always funny, this is Oprah’s latest giveaway and look at how funny Tom Cruise has become.

Believe it or not, there is a theory of humour, what people find funny is broken into discrete parts and studied academically in a field called Humour Studies. The subject is earnestly discussed each year at the International Summer School on Humour and Laughter, this year held ironically at the University of Tübingen in that barrel of mirth called Germany.

According to this, we laugh to signal that danger has passed and to cement bonds between members. Laughter is a tension reliever, it’s when we’re allowed to say the unsayable about life and get away with it, because it’s supposed to be a joke. Jokes are a way for people to accept death and the general unsatisfactoriness of the world says Appletree Rodden of the University of Tübingen, and with a name like that he has no choice but to be funny.

There’s also the superiority theory which states that people laugh to assert they are on a level or higher than their peers. Maybe it’s a way to remind us that beneath the veneer of civilisation we’re not much more than animals, hence the preponderance of jokes about farts, body parts, excrement and unnatural sexual practices.

I think everyone can agree that cats are always funny. Whether you dance with them or lurk in the bathroom with a camera to catch them sleeping in the sink, what makes these sites funny is that someone took the trouble to bring them into existence for no good reason but to make other people laugh.

Last word on humour to the hilarious Appletree Rodden, “humour is one way of dealing with the fact that humans are excrement-producing poets and imperfect lovers”


Friday, October 07, 2005


A piece of advice regularly given to neophyte bloggers who want to increase their read count is to tell their family and friends about their blog and encourage them to visit. Wrong, bad mistake on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin.

It’s bad for the writing because deep in the back of your mind is that thought –what if my mother reads it I don’t mind the NIA reading my blogs, but I’m sure my mother still has a sliver of Lifebuoy she’ll use to wash out my mouth, although she’ll have a hard time catching me now. So with my mother hovering over one shoulder, dad and cousins and Auntie Sue, the prose becomes leaden and crowded with all the people in life that I can't afford to offend.

Worse yet is when colleagues find out and you have to think twice about sharing the gory details of your weekend in case the boss reads it. You might also find that some of the loved ones don’t like you at all, and enemies find it a safe and anonymous way to get back at you for real or perceived wrongs. It also gets confusing when you are creating a persona who is an extension of yourself, the last thing you want is the dead hand of reality reaching out at you.

My advice is don’t ask don’t tell, or otherwise, fuck it, say it like it is and bugger the consequences, as the T-shirt says “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take the joke”.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


This is going just a bit too far, Dr Dre is producing a hip hop album for Burt Bacharach, hello, have I fallen asleep and woken up in some strange parallel universe? Is it the year for wrinkly old crooners to slip on the bling, drop their trousers so their crack shows, and try and rediscover some of that long lost street cred? If anyone can do it, Dr Dre can, and Elvis Costello is also involved, but I just don’t see how it’s going to fly. I’m just thinking “Raindrops are Falling on my Fucking Head, Y’all”. I’m all for collaborations, serendipity and all that, but who’s next? 50 Cent does Neil Diamond? Eminem does Barbara Streisand, oops no, she’s just done it with Andy Gibb again.

Tom Cruise got pranked.

More on Guy’s movie. The Daily Mirror said “Sweet Jesus it’s bad. Lordy mama, it’s terrible. By all things in heaven and on earth it stinks.” The missus isn’t doing too badly herself, her last album was a worst seller, and now this.

I’ve said it before, I say it again, those nannies are more trouble than they’re worth.

Caspar Greeff gets within whiffing distance of David Beckham.

Here’s a job to be envied, some lucky person at Empire movie magazine got to trawl through thousands of heaving movie moments to select the very worst sex scenes ever.

Elisabeth Berkley and Kyle McLachlan have never lived down their scene in the swimming pool in Showgirls which has been compared to the first few frenzied minutes of Jaws. Damage with Jeremy Irons banging Juliette Binoche’s head on the floor is a deserved second in the horrible sex stakes, with Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham in at third to prove the maxim that you just can’t fake chemistry.

Honourable mentions go to Madonna for Body of Evidence, and Sharon Stone for the Specialist and, of course, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s prize turn in the Gigli lesbian gobble gobble incident.