Friday, 30 April 2004

The Hardest Sports

ESPN have a chart of the most difficult sports. It's always struck me as very American to need to make charts of this kind.

Number 1 is boxing and right down at the bottom is fishing, which sounds about right to me. Everything else is probably debatable.

The top fifteen contains one or two oddities:

Ice Hockey
Martial Arts
Skiing: Alpine
Water Polo
Rodeo: Steer Wrestling

What I don't get here is how a panel of "expert" judges managed to see so much difference in the disciplines needed for rugby and American football that they're in completely different places, but the oddest thing is that they've bothered at all really.

The criteria they use are:

ENDURANCE: The ability to continue to perform a skill or action for long periods of time. Example: Lance Armstrong
STRENGTH: The ability to produce force. Example: NFL linebackers.
POWER: The ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time. Example: Barry Bonds.
SPEED: The ability to move quickly. Example: Marion Jones, Maurice Green.
AGILITY: The ability to change direction quickly. Example: Derek Jeter, Mia Hamm.
FLEXIBILITY: The ability to stretch the joints across a large range of motion. Example: Gymnasts, divers.
NERVE: The ability to overcome fear. Example: High-board divers, race-car drivers, ski jumpers.
DURABILITY: The ability to withstand physical punishment over a long period of time. Example: NBA/NHL players.
HAND-EYE COORDINATION: The ability to react quickly to sensory perception. Example: A hitter reacting to a breaking pitch; a drag racer timing acceleration to the green light.
ANALYTIC APTITUDE: The ability to evaluate and react appropriately to strategic situations. Example: Joe Montana reading a defense; basketball point guard on a fast break.

I particularly like here how quite a lot of the examples leave me more mystified than the descriptions.

Richard Thompson, too!


Speaking of Loudon

Loundon Wainwright is giving away one of his new songs on his website.

The rest of the site is worth a look, too, though I'm not sure how up-to-date it is.

Monday, 26 April 2004

Bernd Did It!

53 hours playing the piano. And having to put up with me singing for 2 of them. E-Steyr has some pics.

Somewhere around the 40 hour mark, I'm guessing
Bernd and his support crew - masseurs, etc.
Me waiting to get up and do a funky version of Hallelujah.
The man himself with some of those who kept him entertained. Somehow I managed to be wearing my Leeds top, not sure how that happened.

Saturday, 24 April 2004

Blues Bakery

I've not given a shout out to the Blues Bakery, yet, so here it is.

At the moment Bernd Holnbucher is more than halfway through his bid to get in to the Guinness Book of Records by playing the piano for 53 hours. I saw him earlier today and he was still hanging in there. One of my friends, Peter, was helping out by singing some Sting songs along with him.

Yesterday I did a few songs too. I did something in a boogie-woogie style early-on, possibly, Vanilla Pudding Blues*, and a little later I got up and did a fairly straight-on version of House of the Rising Sun. I was surprised that in the lyrics a line was written "been the ruin of many poor girls". I know that that's the right version as the song is about a prostitute. It's just that because of the Animals some people think of it as a man's song and it seems ambiguous about what the mans downfall is. As soon as that one word is changed back all ambiguity disappears. I think that's odd.

A few beers later, in order to get some obnoxious suits away from the microphone -- my first choice was to drag them somewhere quiet and give them a good kicking, but there you go --, I did a shuffly, boogie woogie medley of a few songs including Rub Me Raw and One Woman Man (so I got a tribute to Warren Zevon in, though no-one noticed).

Bernd then started playing something jazzy that I didn't know -- Sunny I think. I had to hang around to keep the suits off the mic and eventually persuaded Peter to do some Sting stuff over the top. Bernd changed tunes slightly and it worked, so Peter carried on for a while until he ran out of lyrics.

I was prepared by now, though, and managed to pull off a jazzy version of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Gangbang. Really. It was weird, but, for the two or three people who got it, it was fun, also it managed to be the best bit of singing I did all day. Really.

By now the suits had gone. So I stepped away from the mic and left the stage to Bernd. It was, after all, his night.

* An apparently "obvious" song about Vanilla Pudding written by me and Peter. Sample verse:

"Well I like to nibble it slow
And roll it round my tongue
And when I've finished eating
I've got to get me another one"

Subtle, eh?

"Let's Hunt & Kill Billy Ray Cyrus"

The very readable Vince Keenan points out that Blender magazine's top ten worst songs ever (as previewed in MSNBC) has no songs by Michael Bolton. It can't possibly be right. “We Built This City” is number 1.

Blender describes 1985’s “We Built This City” as “the truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar.”

You know it might just be me, but that describes every single song done by Bon Jovi. And Offspring. And Linkin Park. And, well, any of those "nü-metal" bands that have shouty american kids going on about how their life sucks when you know that the hardest thing they've ever had to put up with is Daddy not lending them the SUV for the weekend.

For those of you who recognise the title of this post you can find some goodies here.

Great Quote

If ego is what makes men miserable, then he was surely one of the most miserable men of all time.

Cintra Wilson on Klaus Kinski in Salon.

Friday, 23 April 2004

Mad Dogs...

Must be the season for it. Earlier in the week it was Ron Atkinson calling Desailly a "fucking lazy, thick n****r". Now Richard Desmond calling all Germans Nazis.

Actually the funny thing about the Bigot Ron quote is that he started it "He is what is known in some schools as". Which schools are these Ron? I've heard of Old School, but this is Really Really Old School.

Thursday, 22 April 2004

Senses of Cinema

An Australian film magazine, apparently. It looks like an Aussie equivalent of Sight & Sound, and it has a fantastic section on Great Directors that I'll have to print out and keep at some point.

(I found this through Green Cine Daily, which is linked to on the right).

Tuesday, 20 April 2004

Eurotrash does Dido

Bitter, bitchy and true.

Except for the unwarranted dig at Alan Smith at the end.

People are so cheap

More than 70% of people would reveal their computer password in exchange for a bar of chocolate, a survey has found.

I can't even remember how many passwords I have to remember. The average is four apparently, so this is one thing where I'm above average. One thing though:

Many adopt very unsafe tactics to remember these login names. Some of those questioned simply use the same password for every system they must log on to.

I do this, but only for sites where there is no chance of money changing hands. Games sites or free registrations for newspapers, for example. There was a time when a username and password of "cypherpunk" would get you into most of those places too.

Monday, 19 April 2004

Speaking of things that are bad for you...

Stairway to hell, Nick Kent looks at why musicians like drink and drugs and violence.
As Franz Ferdinand say "We wanted to know what drives a certain kind of person to abuse themselves with drink and drugs - and who better to write about this than the legendary Nick Kent?"

He's still not got over Sid Vicious hitting him, though:

I had the dubious pleasure of knowing Vicious and can verify that indeed he was one of the most self-destructive individuals ever to walk the face of this planet. He was also clueless, devoid of a fully formed personality and a borderline psychopath. When Malcolm MacLaren invited him to join the Sex Pistols, it was like giving a retarded teenager a gun and involving him in a bank robbery. There were bound to be bloody victims. Vicious soon demonstrated he had no musical talent whatsoever but that has never mattered to his followers, who wrong-headedly perceive his thirst for pain and mayhem-making as the definitive badge of punk purity.

Drinking lots is bad for you

They probably paid a lot of money for this report.

In other news, Pope still Catholic, experts say. Also, Bears content to defecate in woods.

Actually reading it to the bottom you get this:

"Our message is: Drink in moderation. Heavy drinking damages your brain ever so slightly, reducing your cognitive functioning in ways that may not be readily noticeable. To be safe, don't overdo it."

Meyerhoff said that for most adults, moderate alcohol use translates to up to two drinks per day for younger men, and one drink per day for women and older people.

Two drinks per day is 60 drinks per month. So the difference, then, between good drinking and brain damage is 40 drinks, or about 20 pints, or one good party, or two fun nights out.

I'm Back And Plugging The Boondocks Again

The New Yorker has a profile of Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks.

For those who don't know Boondocks is sort of Peanuts meets Doonesbury, but blacker. It's often very funny and very scathing (sometimes both at once although, to be honest, usually one or the other). It's well worth checking out. I mean, Micheal Moore wrote the intro to one of the collections, so what more recommendation do you need.

Tuesday, 13 April 2004

Scams: A Resource

Snopes is a great resource for all of you interested in Urban Legends. Any time you hear or read something that doesn't quite ring true (and sometimes even if it does) it should be a place you consult immediately.

They've recently added a page devoted to Internet scams that is updated regularly. Most of these scams seem obvious to me, but someone must be falling for them.

Anyway, I must dash, as I have to sort out my bank details for a Nigerian gentleman...

Thursday, 8 April 2004

Bob Dylan In Underwear...

... ad. You can see it here. The Guardian has an opinion on it here.

Why did Dylan do it? Was it the money, the trip to Venice, the chance to hang with a beautiful young woman dressed only in her underwear, the novelty of the experience, the urge to tweak his more po-faced admirers? We'll never know. Decades ago, Dylan stopped explaining himself to the media and to his fans: "Don't ask me nothing about nothing," he sang in 1965, "I just might tell you the truth."


...and slightly disturbing. It's a mosaic composed of the photos of the American service men and women who have died in Iraq made to look like a portrait of President Bush.

Wankers! This much talent...

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is a documentary about the making of Metallica's last record. You do sort of wonder why they allowed this to happen as the Tap analogies will just keep on coming. Of course, Tap never sued any of their fans for listening to their music, but there you go...

Apparently, the maker of the film believes "Lars and James [...] are the Lennon and McCartney of their generation".

I got this link, by the way, from Green Cine Daily (also linked to on the right), which I urge anyone reading this to check out now, and then on a daily basis from now onwards.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Nobody told me about them...

The thing that annoys me most about this article, is that there are Vodka Cranberry Magnums and they aren't on sale in Austria.

Murphy's Law of Combat No. 15

Everything is built by the lowest bidder.

As an aside Murphy's Law is usually given as "Anything that can go wrong, will". The Jargon file says that this, strictly, is Finagle's Law and that Murphy's law is the slightly more specific and verbose "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it."

Murphy was a real person, apparently.

He went on to say some other pithy things. Many of which are worth remembering. Especially "If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid."

Monday, 5 April 2004


Mobster fish tale irks advocacy group. It's a cartoon comedy about gangsters by the people who did Shrek and still something called "The Italic Institute" (why not the Bold Italic Institute?) manages to get upset by it.
Apparently it reinforces stereotypes about Italians being mobsters, though what with this and all the attempted furor around the Sopranos, Italians are going to start getting sterotyped as a bunch of thin-skinned whiners.
Actually this article is good publicity, because I'd not heard of Shark Tale before, but given it's pedigree and a quick look at the cast (Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore) I'm quite looking forward to it now.