Wednesday, 26 November 2008

In the ghetto

Imagine This, at the New London Theatre.

You know what they say about Presumption


Well here's what I said.

The strong arm of the law

A British man who fathered 9 (grand)children by his own daughters

"was given 25 life sentences yesterday. He will serve a minimum of 19 years and six months in prison."

It's the maths I don't understand!

This boy needs therapy

This morning, I awoke from a dream in which I was having a very pleasant fireside chat (and a drink) with General Sir Mike Jackson.

Whom do I see about this?

Best of Stop Smiling - 2

Q&A with Jan Grarup, author of Shadowland

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Call me politically naive

but I really didn't know that there's a Commons all-party beer group.

It's good to know that our politicians are willing to set aside their differences and work together on the really important things.

And who is this hero of the people (Liberal Democrat MP) Greg Mulholland, who says, "The government needs to wake up to the importance of the pub"?

We need more leaders like him! I can't help noticing that the Chancellor plans to fund his VAT cut by increasing tax on beer:

VAT to be cut from 17.5% to 15% from 1 December 2008 until 31 December 2009. The chancellor urges retailers to pass it on as soon as they can. Alcohol and tobacco prices will not fall as duty on them will be increased to match the VAT cut.
We won't even be able to afford to drown our depression sorrows.

Best of Stop Smiling

In commemoration of a magazine that seems to have shut up shop, The Amnesiac Review will this week be running a special series of what just happen to be the best eight pieces Stop Smiling ever published.

For example: How Bond Got His Balls Back (and then nearly lost them again)

Words which sound rude, but aren't



tutorly duty

Monday, 24 November 2008

"I learned a new word today, Basie...." - 4

rake-hell, n. one who endeavours to subdue memory by means of drink and sex.

Handel's monikers

Georg Frideric Handel composed 47 operas, on every classical deity and hero from Alexander to Xerxes (if only he'd thought to do Zeus!).

Of his 47 titles, 13 begin with the letter A:

Acis and Galatea
Alessandro Severo
Amadigi di Gaula
Arianna in Creta

The complete history of religious iconography

"... those early painted-glass comics that were used in churches to tell the superhero story of that guy who could walk on water."
- Art Spiegelman, in The Times

Sunday, 23 November 2008

From an adult education pamphlet...

Stick your finger in his eye?

(cf. Make A Maltese Cross, p29.)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

My dream woman

As found in The Arabian Nights:

"I know Philosophy and Medicine and the Preface to Science and Galen's Commentary on Hippocrates - on which I, too, have commented. I have read the Tadhkirat (ibn Daoud) and commented on the Burhan and studied Ibn al-Baytar's Elements. I have lectured on Ibn Sina's Qanun and solved problems and set others. I have lectured in Geometry and Architecture and have mastered Anatomy. I have read the books of the Shaf'i theologians and the Traditions of the Prophet ... I have written on Logic, Rhetoric and Mathematics and I know Metaphysics and Astronomy, so fetch me an inkwell and paper that I might write you a book to entertain you on your travels."
- Nuzhat al-Zaman

Hell, yes! This is above and beyond her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Koran, and her ability to deliver, unprompted, an oration on Royal Governance and the Necessary Moral Rectitude of those who Administer the Law.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Cumnor Affair

Giving a shite modern opera the hand-dryer treatment.

Treasure Island

Submissions invited for piratical headline puns. I couldn't think of any.

As seen in the window of a quiet haberdashery on Wigmore Street, W1.

Yep, it's a throw cushion with the face of Anne Frank printed on it.

And yes, the two thieves, one on either side of her, are Sinatra ('The Other Frank'?) and... Tricky Dicky.

For the record, Mother Teresa was there as well. I just couldn't get her in the same shot.

The not-so-great outdoors

"I do not go outdoors. Not more than I have to. As far as I'm concerned the whole point of living in New York City is indoors. You want greenery? Order the spinach."
- David Rakoff


Further to my researches on the issue (ahem) of jizz, I discovered the following in Craig Taylor's 'Letter From The Editor', Five Dials #2:

'There I was', she said, 'looking up at some trees two-hundred yards away and wondering what they might be. I asked James, who was standing next to me, and he told me: sycamore. So I asked him how he knew, because from where we were standing you couldn't see the trunk or the leaves at all clearly. He just knew, he said. Just like when he could see a bird in the distance and had a feeling for what it might be. It's all about the jizz, apparently.'

(Momentarily confused by the word, I did a bit of research and found that, regardless of other definitions, jizz is a term used by birdwatchers and naturalists to describe a feeling, an intuition, that riginates from the briefest of glimpses. Jizz is knowing a bird in the distance, a tree in the dark.)
Emphasis mine.

Best non-functioning pun EVER

All vetch is as grass.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Facebook of Genesis

If only college humour were actually like this!

The truth about insurance

"And if you do take out insurance, read the small print carefully: it may stop you claiming."
- Moneybox

Friday, 14 November 2008

Happy Birthday Charles

We hope you grabbed every opportunity available to you on this special day:

Black magic

My phone makes a load gong noise whenever it receives a message.

(This is because the walls of our house are very thick, the reception very poor, and the 'mobile' needs to stay in one place while I move around.)

Each time it goes off, my parents look at it like it's possessed; then at each other; then one of them brings it to me, taking care to hold it at arm's length.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

New slight

Lord Mandelson has been presented with the Best Newcomer (or New Comb-over, or whatever the actual wording was) Award at The Spectator's annual Parliamentarian Of The Year knees-up.

So far, so bad; but the man doing the presenting was none other than George Osbourne, Mandy's rival in this autumn's dodgy donations row.

I have no problem with political narrow-escape artists mopping their brows and having the sense of humour to quip about how best not to get fired from the Cabinet for a third time (both men were, to give them their due, quite funny). But it seemed slightly shabby of the Speccie to connive at - and/or stage - the oleaginous, hypocritical charade.

Burning Question (of the day)

How do you sharpen the teeth on a hole-punch?

Just about Godunov

The other Great Boris And Leader Of The People, as sung by Peter Rose at the Coliseum.

A sight for sore eyes

The Raif, undone by the National's ill-advised production of Oedipus.

Fiennes' funny gait was the best thing in it. Saved them piercing his feet, anyway.

Good news!

Jolie 'could give up acting for babies'
This blog has always hoped she would get into making adult films.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Judging by the contents of today's paper

this blog can only assume that the employees of the Daily Mail have an average age of 20

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The kind of behaviour I am more used to seeing from politicians

A drunken Jersey City councilman was arrested for urinating on a crowd of concertgoers from the balcony of a Washington nightclub, police and club sources said Saturday.

How much did I drink last night?

Gordon Brown to call for global tax cuts at Washington summit

Sunday, 9 November 2008

(Post-election) Prediction UPDATE

My inspired punt notwithstanding, it turns out I only got half the story.

By 2020, Barack will be among the most popular names for black males entering secondary education, ESPECIALLY in Kenya.

Presuming there still is secondary education in Kenya in 2020, of course.


Giles Coren on the very real dangers of turning up for an Oxbridge degree ceremony.


A LibDem councillor from Devon has resigned after it emerged she was daylighting as a stripper and kissogram, as well as on a phone sex service. Apparently her colleagues were no longer taking her seriously.

As opposed to when she was 'just' a LibDem councillor, of course.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Licence fee

Unlike many of my companions in the rabble-rousing trade, I am in favour of the BBC and have no problem with their public subsidy.

But this evening I flicked onto BBC1, to find Darren Gough in a (frankly optimistic) titanium posing pouch and some old lady doing squats in silver lycra. This turned out to be Hole In The Wall, hosted by - no sniggering, please - Dale Winton.

I confess, I am beginning to see the other side of the licence fee argument.

Best of Brian Moore

Yes, it's that time of the year again. No, not the baseball season, you pussies; the autumn rugby internationals.

Today's Brian Moore specials, from the Seffrica-Wales game, include:

"But this isn't a game for ifs and buts."
and the most blatantly nationalistic commentator in the business talking up the latest anti-racism campaign, as advertised on the sleeves of the two opposing teams, members of which are selected with reference only to their homeland. Priceless.

"I learned a new (Irish) word today, Basie...." - 3

curragh, n. boat: corracle

colleen, n. girl

gosawer, n. boy. From gasĂșir (Gaelic) from garcon

Joke (courtesy of PB)

Three doctors are arguing: an Israeli, a German and a Briton.

The Israeli says, 'Medicine in my country is so advanced we can take a kidney out of one chap, put it in another, and have him looking for work in 6 weeks.'

The German says, 'That's nothing. We can take a lung from one punter, put it in another, and have him looking for work in only four.'

The Brit says, 'Give over! We can take an arse from Scotland, put him in Number 10, and have half the country looking for work within 24 hours!'

Friday, 7 November 2008

Credit crunch crapper analogy of the day

Tory leader David Cameron told business leaders a Conservative government would "unblock" credit to get it flowing through the economy.
'Our David' must have a really big plunger.


Dmitri Medvedev is parking Iskander SS26 missiles in Kaliningrad, Russia's Baltic stump-statelet, in retaliation against American plans to construct a missile shield over the NATO nations.

Iskander is the Asiatic variant of Alexander - as in The Great. Is this irony? And if so, who comes out worst?

Election aftermath

1. McCain 'dead' email ruse punts penis pills

2. Republican lawyers head to Alaska to take back Palin's campaign clothes

The one question on all Gooners' lips

Have Arsene's nurtured charges suckled on the teat of absolve for too long?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Oink, oink!

Fat Pig, reviewed by the most discerning critic in the land.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Thank feck for Irish playwrights.

Eileen Sure, pegging eggs at a priest, isn't it pure against God?

Helen Oh, maybe it is, but if God went touching me arse in choir practice I'd peg eggs at that fecker too.
- Martin McDonagh, The Cripple of Inishmaan

Rugby ball, leather, £55

... and unusable.

Dead serious. From a leather boutique in Notting Hill.

"Will age beautifully..." Wankers.

(Post-election) Prediction

By 2020, Barack will be among the most popular names for black males entering secondary education.

Ten quid.


I spent a worrying proportion of Monday at the Tabasco Club lunch, the annual London gathering of all those who have ever set foot on Avery Island, home to the McIlhenny family and, indeed, to Tabasco sauce.

The event was notable for the spectacular quantity of booze consumed, starting with an hour-long champagne reception, interrupted only by an equally constant flow of Tabasco martinis.

Also notable was the fact that I inherited Ned Sherrin's place setting. Disturbing on so many levels.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

"I learned a new word today, Basie...." - 2

jump the shark, v. when a (long-running) tv show loses its mojo and resorts to stunts and gimmickry. From an episode of Happy Days, in which someone did, in fact, jump a shark.

Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English - via


Finding the phrase 'jazz mags' in Giles Coren's latest restaurant review (you don't wanna know), I began to worry that it might be a corruption of 'jizz'.*

But apparently not. 'Jazz' is a slang term, meaning 'to have sexual relations with'; whereas 'jizz' is just, y'know, 'jizz': East European jizz, if you're watching Shooting Aces ('shooting aces' not iself, to my knowledge, a euphemism).

Weird but true: has no reference for 'jizz'. Wikipedia, on the other hand (sorry...), does offer it, but only with a capital letter.

*I also began to worry that my computer records all these search terms.

Note to self

"There's nothing so illiberal as a liberal on a high horse."
- Julian Fellowes

Monday, 3 November 2008

Five Dials

Nice new FREE literary mag, from Hamish Hamilton (Penguin), in the manner of a British McSweeney's.

Five Dials, edited by Craig Taylor.

Death to Caitlin Moran!

... for using the word 'wazz', and in The Sunday Times, too.

I never thought she was the next Hemingway, but seriously. There are ways of demonstrating the common touch without ending up sounding like a Division 2* striker on his night out.

It's 'whizz', people - 'take a whizz'. As in, The first thing I do on a Sunday is flick through to Caitlin Moran's column, and then take a whizz on it.

* Div. 4, in the old money.


There is a man called Royston Maldoom. He is a dance coach.

That is all.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

"I learned a new word today, Basie...." - 1

lapidary, adj. characterized by an exactitude and extreme refinement that suggests gem cutting: a lapidary style; lapidary verse. From lapis (stone, Gr.)

Random House Unabridged Dictionary - via

Justifying my not-very-secret love for AA Gill

"The redeeming joy of [Prescott - The Class System And Me] was Pauline Prescott, with her eyes like two crows that have crashed into a stucco wall."
See, it's not just about the initials. Honest.

Christopher Buckley

"Human nature doesn’t stop being human nature when it gets elected to office."
By way of a treat for my fellow amnesiac, Stop Smiling's interview with Buckley, Jr.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Pesky Commies

Turns out, even after two decades of access to (relative) truth and the free exchange of ideas, the Russian Communist Party still thinks James Bond is a real person.

Well... good.

InDefinition - 2

Nascent, n. prop. Original name of Tashkent (before it got big, of course).

Most Surreal Title 2008/1945

(for a book not concerned with African genocide)

One query, though: the novel is published this month, for the first time, by Penguin Classics. A little presumptuous?