Tuesday, 30 September 2008


This bizarre prescription from the bottom-right corner of CNN's layout:

We Recommend

147 worshippers die in temple stampede
Giant recalls melamine tainted tea
'Shots fired' on ship hijacked by pirates
Car bomb strikes Baghdad restaurant
Police arrest suspects in Mafia killings
I'm OK with the Mafia arrests, the tough stance on piracy and the tea thing; but the other recommendations?

Brings a whole new meaning to 'the media agenda'.

Thought for the year

Puritanism: 'the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.'

- HL Mencken

Literary misery

My sister, Whop Corn, is a big fan of William Faulkner. (She's always encouraging me to follow in Faulkner's footsteps, saying things like: "When are you going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, you waster?")

To prove the point, here she is a couple of days ago at Faulkner's grave in Oxford, Mississippi, looking miserable and clutching a half-empty bottle of Kentucky bourbon.

Job prospect

I just got a message from my old friend and tennis partner Dr. Björn Öldbean of the University of Bangkok in Thailand.

It read:

"If you turn to prostitution, there's big money to be had over here banging old Chinese ladies."


From Music Teacher magazine (to which - and I'm just guessing here - most of you do not subscribe).

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Oliver Sacks
Picador, £8.99, 240p
ISBN: 0330418386

To clarify a point on which Oliver Sacks is, oddly, not explicit: ‘musicophilia’ does not mean ‘love of music’ per se. Rather it refers to our ‘propensity to music… a given in human nature…’ Why, in short, from building sites to chapels Royal, ‘there is innate musicality in everyone.’

Sacks returns to his well-honed case-study format to explore four related themes: musical mental disorders; issues and types of musicality (absolute pitch, for example); music’s relation to other neurological or physical problems; and music and the emotions. The result is a collection of highly readable, short(ish) essays, long on detail about both music and neurology and mercifully short on scientific tongue-twisters (the parahippocampal cortex only crops up the once).

So Sacks discusses how aphasic (speechless) patients can be trained back into speech by song. How playing drums can alleviate the tics of Tourette’s sufferers (even if it does nothing to cure them). How people with one deaf ear can generate ‘a pseudostereo effect’ and how Beethoven’s impairment may even have improved his ‘voluntary imagery’. Even, in Sacks’ own case, how music can make you walk again. (For honest scientific reasons, Musicophilia is clearer on the hows than the whys.)

Not all of the manifold and complex powers of music are beneficial, though, and Sacks writes not just about musico-philia but -phobia, too. In fact, most of the book concerns the short-circuiting of musicophilia (as it were, the exceptions that prove the rule), mental anomalies concerning, caused or normalised by music.

As Sacks recounted in his eponymous study, the man who mistook his wife for a hat can’t perform even the simplest tasks without the spark-plug of a themed song. There is nothing amusing about amusia, least of all if you are the bass player with the New York Phil. Likewise the music critic whom music sent into convulsions, the man who lost consciousness every time he heard Bow bells, and the Sicilian woman who had to flee from weddings. And for anyone who fancies musical hallucinations as a cheap alternative to buying a jukebox, think again: it’s more like having someone else’s iPod, set to shuffle…

Two other interesting themes:

Why we associate some music with certain places almost involuntarily (for me, Blur’s Parklife with Israel, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Merton College chapel) – associations which are particularly strange given that music, alone of all the arts, is totally unrepresentational (Fingal’s Cave is only ‘about’ Fingal’s cave because Mendelssohn named it thus);

And the burrowing of ‘earworms’ or catchy tunes, an increasingly serious aural – and cultural – problem in the age of broadcast media (though before the wireless, Sacks notes, people hallucinated hymns and patriotic songs instead. Alas, earworms reflect the times and not one’s personal taste).

The case-study approach (and the four semi-discrete topics) leaves Musicophilia wanting narrative impetus. On the other hand, it’s easily digestible, chapter-by-chapter, and demonstrates Sacks’ principal strength: his understanding of the ‘richness of the human context’ and his refusal to reduce this to a set of clinical notes.

Amnesiac UPDATE

My fellow amnesiac will be out of action for a few days following an embarrassing accident.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Power corrupts

But impotence ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Seffricanisms: 2

Extracts from the best-selling Afrikaner Lexicon of I Are Is Computing.

Monitor - Keeping an eye on the braai
Hard drive - Trip back home without any cold beer
Byte - What mosquitoes do
Mega-byte - What mosquitoes at the lake do
Micro chip - What's left in the bag after you have eaten the chips
Dot Matrix - Oom Jan Matrix's wife
Mainframe - What holds the shed up
Web-site - The shed (or under the verandah)
Upgrade - A steep hill
Network - When you have to repair your fishing net
Internet - Complicated fish net repair method
Netscape - When fish maneuvers out of reach of net

Let The Band Play

In another effort to reshape the nature of music as we know it - and, yes, maybe sell a couple of extra records - Radiohead are offering Jo(e) Public the opportunity to remix 'Reckoner', a track from In Rainbows.

Remix #269, 'Let The Band Play (Reckoner Remix)', just so happens to be by my amigo Hugh. Give it a listen, and feel free to cast a vote in his favour.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Seffricanisms: 1

Herewith, some highlights from the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (tragically ficational) pronunciation style-book.

Beds - doves, vultures, etc.
Feather - implies distance ('Kep Town is feather than Johannesbeg')
Phlegm - the hot part at the end of a candle
Piss - as aymbolised by white doves
Weaner - 'the weaner takes all'
Wekkas - they do the wek


One has to wonder how Philip Seymour Hoffman - hereafter 'The One True Hoff' - got himself involved in this aimlessness.


In chapel this morning, I had an epiphany.

She was petite, chesty, lovely doe eyes, and blonde (of course).

I didn't catch her name.

How to shoplift

For those of you a little short on cash this month, here's Chuck Palahniuk kindly giving of his time to record a seminar on how to steal books.

[Never let it be said that blogs serve no social function.]

Friday, 26 September 2008

Crime update

Hot Dogs Spark Bomb Scare Outside Philadelphia Ballpark

The wrapping that made them so suspicious was so the team mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, could fire them from a hot-dog launcher. (Fox News)
I always knew that Phanatic was suspicious. See:
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C
And millions of other disturbing exhibits like this

For the record, here I am at Citizen's Bank Park enjoying a hot-dog launched from the Phanatic's hot-dog launcher:

And here I am about to make a citizen's arrest of two major terrorist criminals dressed as die-hard Phillies fans (of course, this was in Phiadelphia, so I was roundly booed for my heroic crimestopping efforts):

This blog has a serious mind to launch


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Re: 21st Century Boy

Ahoy! Good tip. I too have taken the piratical plunge. In fact, I've just spent a productive morning getting into the spirit of all things pirate. Mainly this.

However, I am alarmed to learn of a recent survey by Laura Buffardi and W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia. Buffoon and Dubya (as they are known by their funders) conclude that people with Facebook accounts are self-adoring narcissists.

I can't help thinking there is some truth in this. Says the BBC:

The results showed that the number of Facebook friends and wallposts that people have on their pages correleates with narcissism ... Ms Buffardi said this is consistent with how narcissists behave in the real world with numerous yet shallow relationships.
I have a facebook account, but in my defence I really really hate it and I spend an inordinate amount of time ignoring it. (Did Narcissus ever deliberately avoid his reflection? Hmmm?) I don't seek out 'friends' and I don't EVER let anyone know what I am doing right now. Meanwhile, I have absolutely no interest in what anybody else is doing right now either. Come to think of it, I really should terminate my account (or my life, if there's a difference these days).

In further defence of myself and my fellow amnesiac, neither of us chose "glamorous, self-promoting pictures" for our main profile pages.

If you don't believe me, come spy us on Facebook. We'll be happy to show you our planks.

My new (Il)literary hero

"Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

21st-Century Boy

In yet another addition to its manifold delights, Facebook now accepts traffic in Welsh, Finnish, Catalan, and English (Pirate).

Accordingly, my profile ('Me') now invites you to 'Spy Me Portraits', view 'Me Hearties' ('Peer into the depths' for a full list), 'Fashion yourself a doubloon' or check the contents of your/my 'Bottle o' Messages'.

My Wall ('Plank') still contains a full chronicle of my latest 'Scrawls' - and indeed the 'Scrawls by O'ers' (presumably they opted to avoid 'Scrawls o' O'ers' as being simply awkward to pronounce) - with the added bonus that rather than merely writing on Erin's Wall I now get to 'Pillage Erin's Plank'. I feel sure Cap'n Jack would approve.

[It should be noted, however, that the lubbers have failed to come up with a piratical alternative to 'Visual Bookshelf'.]

I'm sure I'll tire of this in time. But it won't be today.

Tate Modern selection process goes global

Local College Hopes to Attract 'Unsophisticated' Students Through Fun Audition Process.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Last chance

For those of you who were fortunate enough to miss it, here are the highlights of Gordon Brown's speech to the assembled Brown-noses in Manchester.

And here is the iconic and unforgettable kiss between the Prime Minister and his wife, Mrs. Prime Minister.

Really crap observation (that would probably make a memorable line in a really crap romcom) of the day

Why isn't there any GPS system for life?

(Also, why on earth to do we say Global Positioning System system? It's a bit like the way we insist on saying WMDs, which translates as Weapons of Mass Destructions, which is just dumb.)

Pregnant pause

I just discovered that there's a magazine called I'm Pregnant!

Am now trying to work out how to get a commission.

The blunders of technology

As I read my latest CNN e-mail 'alert' (Africa)

AG: Don't deport genital mutilation victim
I tried very hard to ignore the banner advert across the top of my Hotmail, exhorting me to

Poke and pull the fluffy Chuzzles!
Some words were just never meant to share a page.

I have nothing against Steve Carell

... but that's mostly because I didn't fork out to see Evan Almighty.

Ricky Gervais - on the other hand - did.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Team playing

Given my lovesick cooing on this blog over all things Arsene Wenger, I guess I am obliged to comment on the leaked "motivational document" that found its way into yesterday's papers.

Two things:

1. I am not usually one to defend management-speak, but whatever works for Wenger works pour moi. While I have no idea what he means, I am certain le boss is right when he suggests that "The driving force of a team is its member's ability to create and maintain excellent relationships within the team that can add an extra dimension and robustness to the team dynamic." Of course it does!

2. I am not - and please don't tell this to any potential future employers* - a very good team player. I once got sent off for punching one of my team mates in the face. He was a mummy's boy and a ball hog and he deserved it. Unfortunately, the game was being watched by Tottenham scouts. My dreams of professional football turned to dust as I took an early shower (with the bird who sliced the half-time oranges) and I went on to become an Arsenal-supporting writer.

Still, whatever motivational guff Wenger buys into, it obviously works. Our 6-0 drubbing of Sheffield United tonight was sweet enough; sweeter still that it was done by our kids. Says the Times:

In such an accomplished team display it is difficult to pick out a single outstanding individual
Must've been that document.



So, it turns out that Stonehenge may have been an A&E centre.

Five thousand years of British healthcare and nothing changes.

Re: Fathers and Sons

In Praise of Nepotism: easy for the son of Saul Bellow to say.

More importantly: what if your dad is not a Nobel prize winning author... Hmmm?

"Yes, son, I gotya ya job down pit."
"Yeah, thanks, pop. I owe it all to you."

Or, in my case:

"Dad, are we related to Paris?"

Fathers and Sons

My father, a solicitor by profession, is on any number of charitable boards and committees, each comprised almost exclusively of lords, ladies, prominent archbishops and former heads of state.

I am a decreasingly young writer-journalist, looking for that break.

Last year, I bought Father In Praise of Nepotism. It sits unread on his bedside table.

iPhyllis, I fain would DIE now...

Train Crushes Railway Sex Couple
The latest headlines from South Africa.


This howler from the polymath neurologist, Oliver Sacks:

"For most of us, the association of color and music is at the level of metaphor. "Like" and "as if" are the hallmarks of such metaphors."
As the kid in Pushing Tin might have told him:

"That's not a metaphor; that's a simile. "Laying pipe" is a metaphor."

In loving memory (of) O F O'F W Wilde

Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde once produced a tripartite 'recommended reading' guide for a Victorian literary magazine. Over and above the prevalence of books concerning floral-print wallpaper, it was notable* for including a list** of fashionable tomes one should not bother to read.

Stranded today at a train station (Victoria, since you ask; though not the Brighton line), I made one last desperate stab at Thomas Pynchon's basically unreadable The Crying of Lot 49 - not by chance, his shortest book by some 500pp.

On advice of counsel I will refrain from recording here my precise opinions of Mr Pynchon and/or his literary abilities. Suffice to say that after five minutes I put down TCoL49 in favour of a volume by an obscure American academic, entitled How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care).

In this same spirit, then, and courtesy of The Times, is an up-dated version of Wilde's idea, which the Amnesiacs frankly ought to have got off their arses and written months ago.

[NB We would never have slated Hemingway and HST. Not. Even. For Laughs. Some things must be sacred.]

* not to say novel
** not to say novelist

Suckers (or not)

The burgeoning American 'purity movement' (read: 'army of miserable dried-up menopausal shrew spinsters') is teaching girls it's OK not to kiss their boyfriends before they tie the knot.

My 'heart'-felt sympathies to the young men of the Midwest, of course. But I do think they might ask themselves, if

"young women like Lauren are no great rarity in the United States these days"
then what's so special about a girl who's taken the pledge?

Britain's (latest) tennis debacle

"That's what the Davis Cup is all about - the team sticking together and supporting each other as a team."
So said Alex Peya after his 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory over Britain's Alex Bogdanovich, which sealed Austria's Davis Cup win over Great Britain yesterday.

I wonder if Peya was deliberately rubbing salt into British wounds?

Can't help noticing the, er, lack of "team sticking together and supporting each other as a team" in the British camp after the latest humiliation.

Said Bogdanovich's team mate, Andy Murray:

"The guys in the other matches didn't get the crowd involved. When Alex fell behind, I didn't see any fist-pumps or hear any 'Come-ons'.

"Even if you're breaking racquets I don't care - I just want to see you're desperate to win the match.

"In both my matches I showed a lot of emotion and got the crowd involved."
(Translation: Screw Britain, I'm applying for joint Scottish-Austrian citizenship.)

Murray also said something the effect of: The reason we lost the bloody tie was because of that dickhead Bogdigaditch, who is the worst fookin' player in the history of the world.

Bogdidabitch didn't disagree.

GB captain John Lloyd said the usual stuff about having to "work harder" and show "commitment", but the truth is that Bogdangiitch is not good enough at tennis to be representing his country. That's not really his fault - God didn't give him the tools (in His infinite wisdom, He gave Jenny Murray two). The blame lies firmly at the door of the LTA, whose high command should be lined up against the centre court scoreboard and rogered with the butts of Wilson Hammers.

Or so says Dr. Bjorn Oldbean, my old friend and tennis partner (when he's not playing ping-pong in Bangkok bars and scaring the locals with his orientalist missives). I didn't see the Bogdidawitch match (I was too busy not watching the Chelsea-Man U game) but Oldbean sent me a full report, which included the observation:

"Even if you or I might bottle it in that situation, at least we'd shout, smash racquets and try a bit"
That's good enough for me.

UPDATE: Oldbean has been back in touch. Looks like the LTA has a lot to answer for. Again.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Shock and Awwwww...

Charming re-interpretations of the facts of life, courtesy of

Amy, 6, delusional evangelist dipso gambler

Joseph, 7, poet

Angus, 5, homo chat-show host

Frederica, 6, anthropologist

Jessicam, 6, speccy prude

Cereal sexual overtones

I can't be the only one who is slightly disturbed by the sight of Double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes peering out from the side of my box of Coco Pops Mega Munchers to declare: "see if YOU can perform better".

It reads suspiciously like most of my spam mail.

In fact, now we're talking openly about this, there's also something pervy about "Mega Munchers".

Or have I got a one track mind?

Paragraph of the morning so far

An odour of rotten eggs had the opposite effect on the 15 sleeping women, the German scientists found. (BBC)

Crime update

Two middle-aged men were arrested about 2 p.m. for trying to steal a ballpark sign reading, “Beer $8.50,” a Yankee spokesman said.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Ryder wisdom

In Valhalla, Sam Torrence just said: "The golf yesterday was out of this world."

It sure was. I honestly don't think I've ever seen such bad golf since I played a miniature course (with fairy castles and faux alligators) drunk on J&B in Florida.

Quote of the weekend

"Why are people in football so stupid?"
Adrian Chiles on Match of the Day 2
Don't get me started.

Incidentally, the two stupidest clubs in football, Tottenham and Newcastle, happen to be propping up the Premier League right now.

Just thought I'd mention that.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Creole fish with Cajun rice

Get yourself some white fish fillets (any white fish will do, I just used haddock, cos it was what I had).

Brush fish with olive oil, both sides, and generously coat with dry creole spices (it helps if you have an American bird who can ship you the spices - otherwise, we're talking chili powder, cumin, black pepper, white pepper, garlic salt, etc.).

Place fish in foil-lined baking tray, sprinkle with lemon juice, a bit of hot chili powder, fresh onion (leeks, shallots, any type and colour of onion).

While fish is baking (for about 15 mins) boil rice in chicken or beef broth mixed with cajun spice and black pepper.

Meanwhile, sautee onions, garlic, fresh coriander (cilantro). When rice is cooked, drain and line bottom of dish with half of sauteed veg, add rice, then chuck rest of sauteed goodies on top, mix together wildly.

Serve with hearty salad of spinach leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, lots of fresh coriander, and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, plus a bottle of supercold French rosé.

Key lime pie for pudding is a killer bee finale.

Paul Simon remembers Yankee Stadium

“Just lay it in there,” I told Artie. “I want to see how far I can hit it.” It was 1968, the year Mickey Mantle retired and “Mrs. Robinson” was nominated for a Grammy. Simon and Garfunkel had gotten permission to make a video at Yankee Stadium. As an ex-high school baseball player (all-Queens second team), I was eager to test my left-handed swing against the fabled “short porch” in right field. After fouling off a couple of pitches I finally hit one on the screws, as they say. The ball arced gracefully and landed in what could be charitably called medium right field, about 250 feet from home. Porch not short enough. Stickball was really my game anyway. (NYT)
As for me, I'm dealing well with the fact that I never got to see a game at "The Stadium." Truth is, I can deal with it. I always suspected I'd find the place a little too... obnoxious, I guess. Give me Camden Yards any day.

Of course, I'll be rootin' for the O's tomorrow night, though I'm not totally immune to the emotion of the last game at The House that Ruth Built. Not at all. To recall the immortal wisdom of Crash Davies:

"One more dying quail a week, and you're in Yankee stadium."

Cheery wisdom

"Happiness is something you catch. You can't be happy all the time."
- David Walliams

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

If by a man's work(s) shall ye know him...

... then I should probably not have bothered getting two degrees.

Oy vey.

Giles Coren also hates sub-editors

Well, fair cop, quite frankly. Sub-editors are the HR monkeys of the print world, and should learn their place. (There is, after all, a reason why they are not writers.)

Not (yet) seen on a t-shirt

I will stop procrastinating - first thing tomorrow.

Giles Coren hates your whiny mails

So - and this is for the feminists among you - don't give him any shit about his catalogue of "random flopsies", alright?


I just opened a new "Amazing World of Sports" Invisible Ink Quiz Book.

The inside flap promises

hours and hours of "By-Yourself Enjoyment"
Am now hoping one of the questions isn't "What is a Yankee?"

Thought for the Day

Scottish Secretary Des Browne says there is "no alternative" to Gordon Brown's Prime Ministership.

Last time I checked, the population of the United Kingdom was somewhere in the region of 61,000,000 people.

Surely any one of us would do.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Chasing Adele

The Adele hit 'Chasing Pavements' has been pulled by parochial US radio stations under the impression it is a "gay anthem" (which would obviously never do, because those stations never play 'YMCA' or anything by George Michael).

It is rumoured that this is what put the cat among the pigeons.

Spam of the day

Lithuania considers name changee in makeovver plan [sic.]
I don't get it. Should I be putting twenty-three grand into a Swiss bank account to save Lithuania from itself? Or to set up an academy of some kind to help them with their spellings?


There is an average of 395 people in every square kilometre in England. (BBC)

We can all fantasise

Earlier today, I picked a cider bottle out of my front hedge which some low life had deposited in there as they walked by. Everyone hates a litterbug, but as I knelt down and extracted the bottle, along with a few cigarette packets and fast food cartons, I found myself fantasising about lying in wait for these shitweasels with a bow and arrow.

My dad once told me that when lorries used to fly by the house at breakneck speed, bunny-hopping over a hump in the road, and rocking the house to its foundations, he used to dream of lying in wait under the hedge with a .303 rifle (he used to fire .303s in Hong Kong in the 1940s) and shooting the tyres off the lorries. (The lorries, of course, would then career into somebody else's front garden, but dad says that's not the point.)

The Hilton tapes

I've never liked cds. God invented coasters for a reason. And digital music is really an unsatisfying non-entity. I'm a liquorice pizza guy myself, though my chances to drop the needle seem to diminish with every passing week (and it's a nightmare trying to play a record in a car). It's not just the experience - the large square cover, the feel of the heavy vinyl in your hands, the crackle of static - it's actually the sound. So much "digitally-remastered" stuff sounds too sharp, IMO. It pierces the eardrums, like a California girl's scream. Vinyl is richer, more sonorous, like Maria Callas's perfume.

I know, I sound like an old fuddy-duddy. But I do miss the muffled sound I grew up with on vinyl and tapes. I often listen (on cd) to an album I have loved for years (on tape) and I just don't like it as much. The mood has been digitally removed. It's less romantic, more sterile. Like a hospital ward compared to an old beach shack.

This morning I've been playing some old, dust-laden tapes - Neil Young, The Doors, a bit of Boccherini - and I'd almost forgotten the old forked hand trick. One finger on the forward-wind button, one on the stop button, one on the play button. How many hours must I have spent as a teenager perfecting this guessing game as I searched (mostly in vain) for the start of a track?

It feels almost unbelievably backwards now, but it's too late: nostalgia has kicked in. Maddening bliss.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Penis theft theory

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital
Wed 23 Apr 2008, 2:57 GMT

KINSHASA, April 22 (Reuters Life!) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.
Oddly enough, I think my oldest friend Jones was in Kinshasa at the time this was happening. Hmmm... I'd better ask him what exactly he was doing there. He claimed it was some sort of humanitarian TV work. I can't believe I believed him.

More to come on this, I'm sure.

p.s. Here, as evidence, is a picture of Jones with my sister. Look how shifty he looks. I think he must have been trying to shrink my John Thomas with some sort of evil witchcraft spell. I knew something was wrong with that night. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Also in Nuts (29 Aug - 4 Sept 2008)

In a list of the all-time Goriest Zombie Movies ("Not ideal for a first date", apparently), Shaun Of The Dead - a comedy - weighs in at number 9.

nota bene



- shop in Crewe (courtesy Nuts magazine)

Lib Dems offer tax cuts for sex

Or something.

Perhaps I'm not reading it right, but it appears the Liberal Democrats are suggesting that British taxpaying subjects be given income tax breaks for engaging in strenuous physical activity, like the horizontal tango.

In the immortal jargon of some Liberal Democrat at his party's annual conference:

"You have got to find a way to incentivise better health.

"The scheme has to be practical and has to work in disadvantaged areas too.

"You could, for instance, have a card which you swipe whenever you take part in regular screenings or when you take part in physical exercise."
Of course, using words like "incentivise" cannot hide the reality of their sordid sex schemes. Under a Liberal Democrat government*, after taking part in a nookie session, we would be forced to swipe our cards through a special machine on the bedside table, in the hope of earning extra points.

Sounds like a winning strategy to me. It also sounds just like those establishments my co-blogger is always frequenting and telling me about in unnecessary detail.


The Joy of Economics - or, how I (fleetingly) became £10 richer*

The other week Derek, my old Seffrican amigo, made me a generous gift of 1500 Zimbabwean dollars.

I was tickled.

For those of you who think you're more-or-less aware that Zim money is worthless, here's some brutal context. These bank-notes are literally worth less than the sum of their constituent parts. In short, you're better off wiping your arse on them than shelling out for bog-roll.

And these were old notes, too (2001 and 2003, it turned out). The most recent batch issued by the Zimbos had a face 'value' of Z$50bn - and a Use By date. Anyone shopping now with denominations in the hundreds would be laughed out of the store. Or directed to the toilet, perhaps.

Still, sterling silver lining and all that. A few days ago the Zim national bank knocked a cool TEN zeros off the currency. 1 new dollar is worth 10,000,000,000 of the old: all of a sudden my Z$1500 comes to about a tenner.

I'd nip round the local Post Office with my winnings, but it's closed. And what with inflation at 11,000,000%, by the time the markets open tomorrow my Z$1500 will be worth about sixpence. Again.

* without even going out to work!!!


This afternoon, researching for an upcoming, top secret book project, I stumbled across a story with the headline:

Bergen man to get time served for sex with corpse
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No, you cannot ask what exactly this book I'm writing is about. Mind your own business!

The story itself is pretty routine: A lab technician was caught hosing the corpse of an 92-year-old woman by a hospital security guard. Happens all the time (in Teaneck, New Jersey).

What struck me was the high standard of posts in the readers' comments section below the Daily News article. My personal favourites:

heinekenskywalker Sep 10, 2008 6:44:40 PM
corpse f****r!!

urwrong Sep 10, 2008 9:22:23 PM
white people are sick

Watcher2009 Sep 10, 2008 9:47:14 PM
This sounds like the crime of a White dude.

soxfullarox Sep 10, 2008 3:58 PM
It still beats sex with Amy Winehouse.

Ed G Sep 10, 2008 2:44 PM
Perhaps he just felt like having a cold one at the end of the day.
Life-affirming stuff.

Thought for the day

Have you ever tried to explain the plot of Teen Wolf to someone who's never seen that movie?

They stare at you like you're on day release from Coconut University.

Wood for the trees

Gordon Brown has sacked Labour MP Barry Gardiner as his special envoy for forestry after he joined the list of MPs calling for a leadership challenge. (BBC)
There's a Special Envoy for Forestry? What does he do, negotiate with the trees?

I've got a better suggestion. Instead of talking to the forests, try NOT CUTTING THEM DOWN.

Spam of the day

Ancient Recipe to Grow Your Package

Because this is my blog

Here are my votes for MLB pitching honours this year. No hanging chads, I promise.

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee

Don't give me all this K-Rod crap. To get big save numbers, you need to get big save opportunities. That has nothing to do with the pitcher, and everything to do with the rest of his team playing tight ballgames (and I don't mean of the type favoured by Oscar Wilde). Besides, saves are nothing compared with good starting pitching. Let's not exaggerate the importance of the job. Also, I can't stand the way K-Rod celebrates every victory like he's just stuck it to the Spartans. The screaming and pointing to the heavens to thank God is just not cricket. So I'm biased. Cliff Lee is my man.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum

Hands down the best pitcher (sorry, CC Sabathia doesn't qualify, those is the rules). I'm biased again, because I love 'The Freak'. But the numbers back me up. Timmy's the balls. The only category working against him is wins. Brandon Webb has a couple more, but - and I am aware this ain't no original point - so bloody what? I am totally lost as to why all this emphasis is put on the numbers put up by your team-mates while you are working your ass off on the mound. Sure, a Cy Young pitcher needs to have won you a bucket load of ballgames, but Lincecum has done that, with no run support on a losing team. How does this not factor into the decision making more than wins? If Webb wins, I'll be pissed.

As I say, nothing original, but those is my two cents. Apologies to any non-baseball fans (like my co-blogger, who prefers the theatre, and Oscar Wilde).

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Zuma zippered

South African cartooning legend Zapiro lays into Jacob Zuma. Again.

By yours truly, in The First Post.

Reality check

No kidding, I was just talking to Adam on the phone and he began a sentence with the words: "Thanks to my slavish devotion to reality..."


Does(n't) exactly what it says on the...

What with the sun being out and all, my parents have bought a 'self-assembly' set of garden furniture.

They are sitting in the kitchen, looking at it disconsolately, wondering why it hasn't.

Last Night

Note to Promenaders.

Whatever it is you're up to, stop it. It's not funny, and it's definitely not ironic.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Telling commentary

Earlier today, the commentator on BBC Radio Five Live called the game between West Brom and West Ham, "a comedy" - thanks to the hilarious defending, which he made sound like an extended show of Buster Keaton slapstick.

Just now, the commentator on BBC One Final Score praised the game as "an advert for the premier league."

Maybe both are right.

UPDATE: Martin Keown just called it "a cracking game."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "To be dominant without scoring is scary." Arsene Wenger

Hurricane Ike Latest

Things are getting out of control.

Spam of the day

No frills, no side effects, just bigger

Headline of the Day So Far

From the Daily Mirror:

I won't hand power to David Cameron, says Lib Dems chief David Cameron

Friday, 12 September 2008

InDefinition - 1

mumpteen, adj. Precise number of times your mother has seen a given film (Notting Hill, e.g.) the basic plot of which she still cannot remember.

Right Wenger, Nutty Beane

I admit, I am slightly in love with Arsène Wenger, so everything I say about him on this blog will no doubt be dripping with stomach-churning amour. My apologies in advance for many future indiscretions.

Arsene's latest remarks on the state of English football are worth logging for future reference. He says,

"What is worrying for me is that a player signs somewhere and then the next day he does not even know where he has signed. You cannot say that is a good trend.

"Football is not a supermarket, we have to all understand that.

"You cannot come out and say 'we pay £250,000-a-week to Ronaldo and £135million', when the player has a six-year contract with Manchester United.

"It is not possible or acceptable.

"There is money in the game, and I take it in a positive way - but the football bodies have to make sure that money is ruled properly and used well for the ethics of the game.

"I always did fight for my whole life for the players to make as much money as possible, but you also have to respect what football is.

"It came out from the roots of the country through local communities who identified themselves with their team, and we have to be careful not to destroy that."
So much to say about this, none of which I plan to say now. But rest assured, I will bore your pants off on this topic in due time.

Meantime, I discovered last night that Billy Beane, the brilliant General Manager of the Oakland A's, is an avid supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. This is a bit like discovering that Osama bin Laden wants to live in Disneyland. I cannot think of anything more unlikely.

I am a fan of Billy Beane and his 'Moneyball' ways. Indeed, it's that kind of thinking I want to bore you with as regards English football. For my money, Tottenham Hotspur represents the polar opposite of intelligent thinking about sport. With all due respect, Spurs is one of the stupidest clubs on the planet.

I can justify those comments, honest, but I've really got to dash right now. All in good time, my lovelies. All in good time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

On the wisdom of teeth

I woke up this morning with the sort of jawline Francis Bacon might have given the ageing Brando.

My dentist prescribed some expensive antibiotics:

Tom, Dick and Hari

Three dead in Durban after Asian gentleman makes derogatory remarks viz penis size.

Apparently things got out of hand.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A pikey reaction.

There is a B-road near my place, called Pikey Lane.

Or at least there used to be; the sign is missing.

Either the borough council has embarked on a programme of cultural cleansing, or the sign has been, as it were, pikeyed.

The investigation is on-going.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Taking the p-p-p-piss.

Q. What do Penguin's have for lunch?

A. Iceburg-ers.
Penguin's [sic.]: making education a joke - and a lame one at that.

Go figure.

Mother, 56, hails from Derry.

When I was a kid she wouldn't let me have a toy gun.

Now she wants me to go to Sandhurst.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Unfamous last words

"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something..."

- Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, going down in a hail of bullets.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

House &/or Garden

Clearing out the garage today (not a metaphor) I found a robin, nesting in the branches of our fake plastic Christmas tree.

Clearly, he too had been taken in by the blurb on the box, which designates the undoubtedly-Taiwanese arboreal as stemming from the 'Canadian Superior Pine' genus.