Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Short Shorts And A Brief Holiday

I'm away for the next couple of days. Seeing as my hits, at the moment, seem to mostly come from people looking for "The Next Best Thing" (some talentless show I suspect) and the Simpsons Character Creator, not too many will miss me much.

That doesn't stop me from being pleased (oddly and disproportionately, no doubt) that my daily average hit rate is currently 27 and I got more than 600 visits (780 page views) this month. I realise in the Blogging Leagues this probably still only makes me a Sunday pub team, but I get a little glow of achievement never-the-less.

Anyway, I do cherish my regulars and every comment that I get that isn't offering to make my penis larger (and, well, some that are) is always much appreciated. But enough self-indulgence here are the short shorts in no particular order:

And remember Vince, Jorn and Fred have great new stuff most days.

You Know What's An Anagram Of

ABC, from the country that introduced me to the expression "beat you like a red-headed stepchild", suggests the England has a problem with gingers. Then again their list of red-heads does give you pause for thought:
The nation that gave the world Ginger Spice, the Duchess of York and Lily Cole may be ginger-phobic.

You might not be able to choose to be a red-head, but you can probably be a but more careful about the carrot-tops you associate with.

Monday, 30 July 2007

It's Known To Give A Brother Brain Damage

(Of course Dr Dre later went on to advise "Smoke Weed Every Day", so the quote above may not be appropriate.)

You may have seen recent headlines proclaiming that just one joint ever was enough to increase your risk of becoming schizophrenic by 40%. While we just tend to accept that most newspaper reports on drugs—their use and their effects—are inaccurate to the point of propaganda, it is sometimes good to get the figures behind the story. Ben Goldacre of the Guardian over at his Bad Science blog has the truth:
It was also interesting to see how the risk was numerically reported. The most dramatic figure is always the "relative risk increase", or rather: "cannabis doubles the risk of psychosis", "cannabis increases the risk by 40%". Because schizophrenia is comparatively rare, translated this into real numbers this works out - if the figures in the paper are correct, and causality is accepted - that about 800 yearly cases of schizophrenia are attributable to cannabis. This is not belittling the risk, merely expressing it clearly.

In turn, of course, this is linked to the Government wanting to re-re-classify pot. There are, no doubt, some very solid reasons for doing this, but in the absence of reason it seems scare-mongering might just work instead. Goldacre skewers this too:
And craziest of all is the fantasy that reclassifying cannabis will stop six million people smoking it, and so eradicate those 800 extra cases of psychosis. If anything, for all drugs, increased prohibition may create market conditions where more concentrated and dangerous forms are more commercially viable. We’re talking about communities, and markets, with people in them, after all: not molecules and neuroreceptors.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Origins and Snark

Joe Queenan has a newish column at The Guardian on the origin of pop songs. Almost unforgivably it's called "The Vinyl Word", apparently the readers voted on this (and it beat "Talking Hits" by quite a margin), but if you can get past that it's informative and snarky by equal measures, here's a bit of what he had to say about My Way a couple of weeks back:

Few of the nitwits who insist that the song My Way be played at their funerals are aware that this hymn to self-absorption originated with a flamboyant French pop singer who died in his bathtub while changing a light bulb.

Sinatra hated the song, ostensibly because it was pompous and smarmy and self-indulgent, but also because he was probably aware that it would ultimately degenerate into the kind of graveside cabaret material that make mourners wish the stiff was still breathing. As recently as two years ago, My Way was the most popular number played at British funerals, but since then it has ceded pride of place to James Blunt's Goodbye My Lover. This is yet another reason to avoid befriending people who look like they might kick the bucket before you get a chance to vet their iPods.

He's also looked at Smells Like Teen Spirit, Wild Thing, Billie Jean and Johnny B Goode. This week That's Amore gets the treatment:
Unlike Pachelbel's Canon or Hot Legs, works intimately identified with those who wrote them, a tune like That's Amore or How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? usually has very little stature independent of the artist who made it famous. Much like oxygen, leotards or vodka, songs such as That's Amore! are viewed with great affection, but nobody really cares where they come from. It is enough that they are here. Perhaps, more than enough.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Return Of Short Shorts 2

Busy, busy, busy. But was distracted by the following:

Monday, 23 July 2007

Eating Out & Eating In : The Difference

Steaks are something I leave to restaurants. It's a fairly simple thing to cook, but to get it just right requires a professional kitchen. On the other hand, simple Italian food, Lasagne for example, is more often than not tastier when you've made it yourself. In essence, then there are two types of food, stuff that restaurants are good at and things that are better to do yourself (although there's definitely some overlap and it suggests a third option — food that neither do well).

Jay Rayner in the Guardian seems to agree with me. His eating out experiences look to be far fancier than mine, but he recognises a number of foods that restaurants don't do well. Roast chicken is his main contention and he seems to make a perfectly valid point, in fact he thinks roasting, in general, is better in privacy if your own home simply because a good roast takes time. He also adds the following:

I also can't recall finding any restaurant which can do a roast potato well. They are always underdone, floury on the inside, lacking crispy chewy bits on the outside. Unlike mine, natch.

What else? Sausages, weirdly, are rarely good. Or at least, rarely as good as the domestic variety. There's always the suspicion they have been pre-cooked and are being reheated on service. A proper bacon sandwich is probably more likely to be found in your kitchen than theirs. And I always hesitate before ordering a crumble. Few crumbles - apple, blackcurrant, pear, you name it - can ever bear comparison to the one you eat at home over Sunday lunch.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Return Of Short Shorts

I've not done this for a while, but what the heck, essentially this is a list of things that probably deserve a longer post, but I'm a little busy at the mo'.

  • The ingredients of Diet Coke: "According to the FDA aspartame is associated with headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, mood swings, nausea, memory loss, muscle weakness, blurred vision, fatigue, weakness, skin rashes, joint and musculoskeletal pain."

  • Rose & Camellia: Strange slapping game that's disturbing and addictive at the same time. If I wrote a longer article about this the title would be "Bitchslap!". Lucky for you I didn't.

  • Stick Cricket: Picky, seemingly random and occasionally frustrating, much like the real thing, then, but, again, strangely addictive.

  • Slacktivist is posting just crazy, mad, great stuff and you should all have him bookmarked...

  • Your Cut Out & Keep Guide To Teachers Who Put Out: I realise this is a serious issue and that abuse of a position of trust is not something to make fun of. That said this article is a huge list and has pictures and everything...

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Referral Oddity

I keep getting refferals from people searching for "ron jeremy posh spice", well maybe not that often, but often enough to remark upon. Is there some gossip about these two that I'm unaware of. Or possibly should start?

The Big Fucking Lebowski

Ok, so it seems a fairly obvious idea to take all the swear words out of a movie and string them together, I'm pretty sure I've heard this done to some NWA tracks too, but this version of The Big Lebowski is quite hyponotic, it's almost musical in places.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Doing My Bit For The Simpsons Movie

You know how for all their earthy talk you suspect Pagans are as priggishly humourless as any fundamentalist. Well they've gone some way to proving you right this week. After seeing this:

They decided to respond with this:
Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: "It’s very disrespectful and not at all aesthetically pleasing.

"We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind. We’ll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away."

She added: "I’m amazed they got permission to do something so ridiculous. It’s an area of scientific interest."

It's also hilarious. Personally I'd like to see it animated just to find out exactly what Homer intends to do with that doughnut.

Via Boing Boing.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Let The Slash Fiction Begin

Whatever the BBC do the story behind the photo below probably won't live up to what you're imagining right now:

TV Detector Vans Through The Ages

The Daily Mail has an article about some new improvement to TV Detector Vans, but the real interesting bits are the pics of the different vans that have been in use. I like this one myself:

Interestingly the article concedes that "it is only within the past 15 years that vans have worked with real effectiveness, helped by on-board computers that can check licence details in seconds", which probably translates as "just as we all suspected they were just for show and the real work is done by checking the records to see which houses don't have licences".

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Something That Made Me Smile

But perhaps not for everyone...
As Junichi says:
I just can't decide whether this is an authentic Public Service Announcement, a spoof of a PSA, or just a clever music video.

Whichever way you'll feel like buying a book afterwards.

For Those Who Forgot

For those who forgot that he was doing them in the first place, and it seems to have been quite a while since his last one, Wil Wheaton reviews another Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. This time it's The Big Goodbye.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Simpsons Character Creator

As part of the promotion for the upcoming Simpsons movie you can try and make a version of yourself as a Simpsons character (or avatar as they have it, you can use that character in the site itself I guess). My attempt to do me turned out quite boring, and in all probability wrong, but here it is:

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Ask A Music Scene Micro Celebrity

I'm not sure Steve Albini is a micro celebrity. For one, I've heard of him and, more importantly, he has some talent, he's most widely known for having produced Nirvana's "In Utero", which the modern definition of "celebrity" doesn't particularly call for. Anyway, via Glorious Noise, I found that he'd contributed some words of wisdom to an online forum and it turns out he writes real pretty like and seems to be as honest as discretion allows:

there have been many a time i hear an album the band sounds so good, and then you see them live, and you're like, wtf is going on?

which band have you made the biggest improvement on their sound, in this manner?

Well, sometimes a band sets out to make a record that doesn't really sound like they do. To these bands the record is the public face of the band, and the live shows are more of an obligation than an art form, and so they are generally pretty disappointing live.

Other bands enjoy touring and express themselves onstage more than in the studio. These bands see their records as a kind of still photo of their live existence, and you can expect those bands' records to sound pretty much like their live sets. My favorite bands were always like this: the Minutemen, Wipers, Birthday Party, and my own band thinks this way, pretty much.

There are also the rare cases of bands who change from the first type to the second, and they have an obvious cutoff date after which they went from awesome to awful. Aerosmith and ZZ Top are the most obvious examples.

To answer your immediate question, Urge Overkill.

It's also worth reading an old article of his called The Problem With Music, which is a fascinating look at exactly how record companies screw bands over.

Monday, 9 July 2007

The Sopranos: Truer Than You'd Think

The Guardian has a report on behind-bars Naples gangster Walter Schiavone's house. It's modelled on the house owned by Tony Montana in Scarface. The report goes on to add:
Naples mobsters continue to mimic Hollywood gangsters, according to author Roberto Saviano, who wrote in his best-selling Camorra chronicle Gomorra, that hitmen were missing their targets because they insisted on holding their guns tilted like the characters in Quentin Tarantino films.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

George Melly: RIP

An excuse, then, to repeat one of my favourite anecdotes about him:
George Melly introduced a Bessie Smith tune on stage at Kirklevington Country Club in Teesside. "This song," he drawled, "was originally titled I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl, but I've taken the liberty of changing it to You Need A Little Sugar In Your Bowl. Not for any chauvinistic reasons, but because with piles like mine you can't afford to take any chances."

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

How to Ruin A Decent Article

3 Quarks Daily has a list of nine movies made in the last ten years that could possibly feaure in the American Film Institute’s Tenth Annual "100 Years, 100 Movies" List. Mr Tyree's list is a good mixture of the obvious, the personal and the contentious. In his intro, however, he states:
How Toy Story got on the new list is a mystery for the ages

And, well, after that I don't really care about JM Tyree's opinion one way or the other.

Monday, 2 July 2007

The New Age of Ignorance

The Guardian has an article about how "take our young children to science museums, then as they get older we stop. In spite of threats like global warming and avian flu, most adults have very little understanding of how the world works. So, 50 years on from CP Snow's famous 'Two Cultures' essay, is the old divide between arts and sciences deeper than ever?"

It's fairly thought-provoking, as someone with a fairly science-based education and a "pop-sci" reading habit, though, I don't necessarily think it applies to me.

I think one of the things making science feel less important is that people don't tend to fix things anymore, and in many cases are actively discouraged from doing so.

TV is almost certainly to blame. I'd guess up until the arrival of a TV in a house if something was broken then somebody would have the know-how to fix it, but once the TV came and, lately, DVD players priced at disposable levels if it is broke the best thing to do is to replace it.