Friday, 28 May 2010

annotated pravda: Russian High-Ranking Official Claims He Was Abducted by Aliens

Been a while since I annotated any Pravda. I've been missing it.
Russian High-Ranking Official Claims He Was Abducted by Aliens

The West was shocked by the statement from a high-ranking Russian politician, which he released on Russian Channel One, the country’s main TV channel.
I'm the West, and I hadn't heard about this, still less been shocked by it. I've checked with a couple of my friends who read the papers every day, and they hadn't either. Why? Have we all been abducted by aliens when that bit of the paper arrived?*
On April 26, 2010, Channel One host Vladimir Pozner asked Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of the Kalmykia Republic, the following question:
I love Vladimir Pozner! He is the Kalmyk Paxman!
“I’ve never met a person who would claim he was on an interplanetary alien aircraft.
Vladimir Pozner doesn't get out much.
Has it really happened?“

“Seriously, it has happened,” the Kalmykia leader answered and told his outstanding story about his only encounter with extraterrestrials in his Moscow apartment.
1. It is an outstanding story.
2. This begs the question, which I imagine Pozner will address, terrier that he is: was it his only encounter with extraterrestrials full stop, or just his only encounter with them in his Moscow apartment?
“Was it the only encounter?” Pozner clarified.
Not quite clear enough for me.
“Yes, the only one,” Ilyumzhinov confirmed.
Still the apartment issue is not resolved to my satisfaction. Politicians are excellent at evading the difficult questions. Do you, incidentally, know much about Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? He's a millionaire businessman who mainly makes the papers when he's trying to build his city devoted to chess. He looks very like this:



The aliens turned up in his Moscow apartment on Sept 18, 1997.
The very day that Wales voted 'Yes' (50.3%) in their autonomy referendum, which proves that everything is connected.
He said as he was falling asleep he heard someone calling from the balcony. When he got up to check,
he realised he didn't have a balcony? No. I'm getting ahead of myself.
he saw a "semi-transparent half-tube".
Many of this have had this experience on waking up.
He said he entered the tube
No. A different thing, I see.
and came across human-like aliens attired in yellow space suits.
Or was it alien-like humans?!*
The Kalmyk leader took a flight with them on their alien spaceship. It took some days before Pozner’s show with sensational story by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov shocked the civilized society.
I think that 'the civilised society' in this context must be what Pravda meant by 'the West' early, which is endearingly self-effacing.
It happened when LDPR member Andrei Levedev drew attention to it by writing to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressing his concern that the Kalmyk leader, as a carrier of confidential information, could divulge state secrets to the aliens.
And this makes people worry about Ilyumzhinov?
After that, the western media exploded.
As you no doubt remember from the explosion of the Western media a couple of weeks ago.
Hundreds of world newspapers assessed the sensation and acknowledged the uniqueness of the situation. Yet, no one understood why he chose to talk about it.
Yes. Why he chose to talk about it. That was the extraordinary thing about his meeting with space aliens.
There will be people in Russia who would think it was a bizarre behavior for a leader of a subject of federation.
Some people. Not many.
“Pozner asked me, and I answered,” Ilyumzhinov explained.
Many are called but few are chosen.
Those mingling in ufological circles
The best kind of circles. They are not even round. They are future shape that humans don't even have a word for yet.
know that it was not the first time the Kalmyk leader told his story about his encounter with the aliens. They are no longer exuberant because there were no new details reported.
They used to be so exuberant. Those were the days.
Pozner also knew the story since he asked about it.

Not everyone knows that Ilyumzhinov first openly told the story on July 22, 2002 at radio Svoboda, while no one was making him speak.
No one made him. That's the important thing.
Speaking about the future of chess, he mentioned Ostap Bender’s dream to conduct an intergalactic chess match.
Ostap Bender, as Russian pop culture fans will know, is a fictional con man and antihero who describes himself as 'the great combinator'. Here is a picture of him, as played by Andrei Mironov in 1976.



Certainly, if I ran Kalmykia, I would base my ambitions on the dreams of fictional con men.
He then said he had no time to go to space and added he’d been there once before.
Space is so time-consuming.
He explained that he travelled with aliens who once took him to space.

“Who took you?” the host clarified.
It is worth being clear.
“Aliens on a spaceship. They came, took me, and I spent 24 hours with them in the space,“ Ilyumzhinov explained.
24 hours! That's ages! Who would ever go to space if it took 24 hours?! Especially if they had to run Kalmykia and chess!
At the moment of the confession he was an acting President of Kalmykia with the next election in a year. He has been the President of FIDE for six years and is not eager to get anywhere else.
Why would he? Where is left for him to go after Kalmykia. It's the tops, it's the Eiffel Tower.
This means that the surprising and strange confession is not PR, it’s an obsession. Answering the question about the appearance of the aliens Ilyumzhinov, sensing doubts from the host
You don't get to be President of Kalmykia and chess without finely attuned antennae. Also, antennae are something the aliens look for, because aliens have them.
, said that they looked like humans.
Humans with antennae
“Were they big, about 6 feet tall? The way they are often described?”
Call 6 feet big? These aliens wouldn't cut much ice in a nation with better nutrition, like Holland. I read somewhere a long time again that Montenegrins are very tall also.
“Not really. Don't treat me like a schizophrenic.
Absolutely not. That's a different form of mental illness.
I’m just saying that I saw them. Just the way I am talking to you, I saw them just like that.”
At which point, the interviewer told me when we were having an ice cream in Queen's Park yesterday, he started doubting his own existence.
Even then, nine years prior to Levedev’s letter to the Russian President, radio Svoboda tried to elicit the details of the contact.
The Russian press is tigrish, as is obvious. Tigerish? Whatever
“Did they give you any directions? Did they program you for the future?” they asked, as if trying to find out if he was converted.
Programmed? How do you do that? And what would he have been converted to? To their way of thinking? To their religion? To the whole ridiculous harem pants thing?
“No,” Ilyumzhinov answered. "Nothing … I did not understand anything. Several days after I was thinking “Why did they take me?” And berated myself for not asking questions. But maybe it is not time yet for the extraterrestrial civilizations to meet. I don’t think we need to. We are morally not at the stage yet when we can meet other civilizations, aliens."
Finally, some good, sound common sense.

* No

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

as a result of his experiments dracula gains control of a time machine

I've been reading an annotated bibliography of recursive science fiction. Here are literally the first four entries:
Abelman, Paul, The Twilight of the Vilp
Clive Witt is a novelist. He has advertised for a protagonist for his new book, The Mixture and the Bag. From the 73 responses he selects three but they refuse to form a harmonious whole. He scraps this project and writes a science fiction novel The Silver Spores in which humanity meets the Vilp Galactic Council and may have wiped out the Vilp—unless they revert to sexual procreation. It's almost impossible to summarize this book.

Adams, James R., "Con-Fen"
Koosh and Thuko, two Martians, visit Earth in a spaceship stolen many years ago from a murdered Jovian visitor. They land in Chicago and wander about, eating and breathing without let. Humans seem to be unaware of their existence. Unfortunately, they wander into the Hotel Morrison just as the banquet for the 10th World Science Fiction Convention (Chicon II) is occurring. All the fans see them and rush to greet them. The Martians flee in terror and are struck by a truck in the street.

Ahern, Jerry & Sharon, The Golden Shield of IBF
Princess Swan of Creath uses a magic spell to escape from her mother's attempt to kill her. She winds up at Dragoncon in Atlanta where she meets F.B.I. Special Agent Alan Garrison. Garrison is a wannabe fantasy writer. He accompanies her to Creath were he basically lives out a fantasy novel. Returning to Earth he writes his adventures as The Virgin Enchantress. It ends happily as she leaves Creath for Earth to live with him.

Aldiss, Brian W., Dracula Unbound
Joe Bodenland is developing a method of toxic waste disposal in Dallas, Texas of 1999. As a result of his experiments Dracula gains control of a time machine and Bodenland winds up in the past with Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) and his friend Van Helsing. Perhaps the vampirism is a result of syphilitic delusions; perhaps reality.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

everything's ducky

I have, as per an ancient challenge, written this story. It's one thing to write such a story; it's another thing to tell it in front of people hoping to be entertained, and I will do the other thing on Thursday.

On the upside, how can I never have heard of the Dreadnought Hoax before yesterday? The Bloomsberries blacked themselves up, pretended to be a delegation of Abyssinian royals and got a guided tour of the pride of His Majesty's fleet. They signalled their appreciation with wondering cries of 'Bunga! Bunga!', which small children repeated in a spirit of urchinish irony to the real Emperor some years later.*

My favourite line from the Wikipedia page is: 'When they were on the train, Anthony Buxton sneezed and blew off his false whiskers, but managed to stick them back before anyone noticed.'


* When HMS Dreadnought rammed and sank a German U Boat during the Great War, one of the congratulatory telegrams read, 'BUNGA BUNGA'.

Monday, 24 May 2010

time waits for no slave

There is nothing wrong with the serious, considered tone of The New Yorker's rock and pop reviews, but I can't help finding them well New York. From the magazine currently in the loo:
A double bill with Ladytron and the Faint, a pair of bands that both rely on the darkly mechanized Sturm and Drang of early-eighties electronic music to bolster their retro-stylised synth pop.

... an expansive local folk-rock collective led by the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Pascal Balthrop
Funny
and his sister Lauren, a vocalist and keyboardist. They grew up singing gospel and pop tunes with their family in Mobile, Alabama, and now the pair and their band play paeans to the lovelorn and the droll.

British metal gods Napalm Death return to New York armed with 'Time Waits for No Slave,'
I initially typed this as Time Waits for No Slav, which would make a good short story, or for the title of the autobiography of one of the more bookish and tortured Balkan tennis players
a stunning new instalment in their exhilarating musical oeuvre.
It's the 'musical' I love here. Not sure what the other stuff is. Maybe Napalm Death also write sitcoms?
Founded in 1982 in Birmingham, England (Black Sabbath's home town), these metal pioneers started their career in the anarchist-punk movement
Not unlike myself
before inventing grindcore
Not unlike myself, though I usually have to share my credit with Birmingham metal gods Napalm Death
, a metal subgenre that merged elements of hardcore and metal.
A rather simplistic reading of my influences
Napalm Death's innovative style, political lyrics
They're Lib Dems
, and exquisite musicianship have garnered them a wide appeal, with fans ranging from local avant-gardist John Zorn to the late British d.j. John Peel. The new album features their trademark style of short, furious songs, impossibly fast drum patterns, and growling, melodyless vocals
This is where the similarities with my work are probably most clear
comes in in all its glory

Sunday, 23 May 2010

i pity the fool

Two external links on Mr T's Wikipedia page:
Mr. T discusses his Christian faith
Mr T talks technology

Thursday, 20 May 2010

stupid french

Paintings worth £431m have been stolen from Paris' Museum of Modern Art. According to the BBC,
Officials at the museum discovered the theft early on Thursday when they found a window and a lock had been broken
It doesn't sound like you need to be Thomas Crown to get into the Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

gaga 4 glee

Since you are presumably among the 3.5m who have watched this already, I am just telling you stuff you know. But just in case there is someone out there who hasn't, and I hadn't until today...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

seven days in new crete

I love the Robert Graves I've read, which means I, Claudius, Claudius the God and, and this is my favourite which I don't think is me being clever because it's the not-famous one, Count Belisarius.

The opening line of I, Claudius (read it out loud):
I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
I've just been given, incredibly kindly, a beautiful copy of Graves's science fiction book Seven Days in New Crete, which I've always wanted to read and never got round to. It opens:
'I am an authority on English,' the man in the white suit said in a curiously colourless accent and with a good deal of hesitation, like an authority on Sanscrit trying to talk conversational Sanscrit.
Not as good as the Claudius, but still sterling work. I can't wait to read it.

Monday, 17 May 2010

i don't wanna die in an air disaster

Here is the episode of R4's Music Group I was in with James Brown and Rebecca Front. I liked them both a lot. You can listen to it this week.

It was interesting. When I first started thinking about what song I'd take, I thought it would be impossible. Pretty quickly, I realised that it didn't matter very much, so long as I could talk about it. So I picked a song I'd always found funny - an impossibly cheery 1974 song, seriously intended, about the fact that world was on the brink of environmental catastrophe.

Albert was genuinely worried. What I wondered, and didn't say on the show, was this: humans are obsessed, always have been, with the idea that the world is ending; we evolved over millennia to hunt mammoths and work out which berry wouldn't kill us, and in an evolutionary flicker we're having to cope with digital watches and the fact that we know we're going to die, and maybe this does something so crazy to our brains that we can't help thinking that this means everything's going to die. I am sure someone has written about this. I must find out who.

Which leads me to the Albert Hammond song I am currently obsessed with, which came from the same 1974 album as We're Running Out. It's called I Don't Wanna Die in an Air Disaster. It's about being a young guy with the world at your feet and suddenly realising that it will come to an end, and really, really not wanting it to. I think it's sweet, and I don't mean that as patronisingly as it sounds. For Albert Hammond, 1974 was all about mortality.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

pick your jaw back up

Lots of short things to blog about at the moment. No real reason. We all know about Barbara Cartland, right? My guess is: 'sort of'. Here are some headlines from her Wikipedia entry:

- She sold more than a billion books. A billion. A billion books. Of course, this is an American billion, but they're the only ones you see around any more. And the sales-per-book is seriously diminished by the number of titles she wrote. I mean, if I had sold a billion books, they would all be one title and Jonathan Cape would worship me as an incarnate God. Dame Barbara wrote 723 books, meaning each title only sold, on average, 1,383,126 copies.*

- Her brothers, Anthony and Ronald, died in action one day apart in 1940.

- Her play, Blood Money, was banned in 1926 by the Lord Chamberlain for being too racy.

- She is reputed to have said of her step-granddaughter: 'The only books [Diana] ever read were mine, and they weren't awfully good for her.'


* If the one book I had written had sold 1,382,126 copies, Jonathan Cape would worship me as an incarnate God.

separated at birth

I know that there is a very clear design paradigm in place at the moment for a certain kind of fiction for girls, but surely this is the same model twice. Surely it is.


Friday, 14 May 2010

go whippet

I was looking at Bluntisham-cum-Earith's Wikipedia entry, linkhopping from Dorothy L Sayers. The entry ends:
Bluntisham's Facilities - Bluntisham now has more facilities than it did a few years ago including a new Budgens store, Village Hall and opening soon in April a Hair & Beuty Salon and a coffee lounge. There also may be a village barbers as well. There are regular buses to St Ives operate by both Stagecoach and local company Go Whippet.
There may be a village barbers! I really hope there is.

the supremes

We don't have anything like the insanely powerful, nine-strong, on-it-for-life US Supreme Court. Elena Kagan is the current Democratic nominee. Two things:

1. If she is confirmed, the Supreme Court will contain no Protestants. Six Catholics and three Jews. No atheists, obviously, but no Protestants? I don't know what it means, exactly, though I have some ideas, but it's interesting.

2. One big criticism - Republican standard- of Kagan is that as a New Yorker, she doesn't represent the heartland. As 538 points out, not uniquely but neatly, the heartland often looks very like a shorthand for 'the red states'*:
can anyone who grew up on the sidewalks of New York really understand an American "heartland" characterized by small towns and rural areas? Maybe not, but neither can the 80% of Americans who live in metropolitan areas. And this gets to the mythical nature of "the heartland," many of whose residents have more in common with middle-class New Yorkers than with the sturdy peasant stock of yore. In terms of this meme, it's revealing that Sarah Palin, who hails from Alaska, one of the two least typical American states (the other being Hawai'i) is reflexively considered a classic representative of "the heartland" and of "real Americans." That shows how artificial the construction really is.


* Bonus fact. 'Red' states being Republican and 'Blue' states being Democrat only solidified, colourwise, in television coverage of the 2000 election. It is not a colour system recognised officially by the parties themselves.

like to see him do that with mary elizabeth mastrantonio blowing in his ear

You may be wondering why yesterday's jaw-broken woman didn't have a fishing rod. Well, she wasn't fishing with a rod. She was doing this:



There are lots of videos like this on YouTube.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

this woman had her jaw broken when this 12lb asian carp hit her in the face

Which woman? This woman:

*

Her name is Jodi Barnes. Asian Carp were introduced into US riverways to eat algae, which they do like crazy. The big ones are four feet long and weigh 100lbs. They come in various varieties, one of which, the silver, doesn't have a stomach and needs to eat half its bodyweight per day. They are approaching the Great Lakes via the canal system, and there is serious fear about how much they might destroy the lakes' commercially (and biologically) important ecosystem.

But the funny thing about asian carp is that they are weird panicky fish which leap madly around when they hear a boat. Lots of people have been hit by them, and the US Oceanographic Survey describes this as like being hit with a bowling ball. My legal advisers tell me to say that this isn't funny if you are hit with one, but which one of me and my legal advisers gets paid for writing jokes.**/***

* I don't think Johnny's Hideaway is very effectively hidden.
** Not as easy a question to answer as I wish. You should see their bills.
*** Carp facts from the Jan/Feb edition of Classic Angling.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

i do not have to eat an entire bowl of scabs to know they are scabs

Ssome literary put-downs. They are taken from this list of fifty.*

Coward on Wilde:
Am reading more of Oscar Wilde. What a tiresome, affected sod
Hemingway on James Jones:
To me he is an enormously skillful f#*&-up and his book will do great damage to our country. Probably I should re-read it again to give you a truer answer. But I do not have to eat an entire bowl of scabs to know they are scabs...I hope he kills himself
Anatole France on Zola:
His work is evil, and he is one of those unhappy beings of whom one can say that it would be better had he never been born



*I can't remember whose blog I found them at. You should read all the blogs on the right anyway. Marbury and Light Reading are the best bets, but I couldn't find the link just now.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

stupid election

Who is the real victim of all this leadership dithering? When I say that an extended edition of The World at One on Radio 4 means that The Music Group, featuring me, is not going to be on today, then you probably are thinking, 'I am the victim! It's me! I really wanted to listen to that!'

I agree with you. You are the victim. On the upside, TMG will be broadcast on Saturday at 15.30, and will be on iPlayer for a week after that.

Would YOU buy a second-hand wristwatch from David "I even know a black person" Cameron?

It's been a long time since we had any annotated Pravda:

The election campaign in the United Kingdom presents a perfect opportunity to analyse not only the British press but the British media in general. At a first glance, the precept that journalism should be free, fair and objective flies out of the window and the notion arises that the real aim of the game is a public thrashing of whoever is in power.
Classic. Not totally insane stuff, just like people phoning in to phone-ins always have a sensible intro that gets them past the first person they speak to in order to get on the air.
Let us leave the politics of the election to the British people. [Three paragraphs on stupid electoral system, the public services destroyed by the Conservatives (or 'Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives') and whether 'Gordon Brown's Labour' has done anything to deal with them...] While Gordon Brown is regarded as an international hero and a world leader by the opinion-editorial pieces in countless foreign newspapers,
Wow, is he?
which look on astonished that anyone could even consider voting for a prissy, uppity David Cameron of the Conservative Party who looks like a prep-school boy spoiling for a playground fight and who would say anything and use anyone to get into Number Ten.
'Prep-school' is a reference instantly understood by any Russian.
And as for Nick Clegg…who?
Not sure who this is referring to.
So what is fundamentally at stake here, the British media have side-stepped. They are trying to turn this campaign into who looks great on TV, who looks at the camera, who forgot to turn his mike off (and what was disrespectful or "disastrous" in the PM’s remark anyway?).
Er... I mean, it was a stupid story and didn't end up really harming him, but calling a woman a bigot is disrespectful.*
And what is even more perverse and sinister is the fact that these organs of communication, which are supposed to be objective and impartial, are trying to gain points through the manipulation of public opinion.
Oh, if only we could have Pravda over here. Oh, wait, I'm reading this on...


Would YOU buy a second-hand wristwatch from David "I even know a black person" Cameron?
Like this caption. And picture.
The Guardian (or is it Grauniad?)
Up to minute satire, again perfectly comprehensible to any Russian.
declares it is supporting the Liberal Democrats. OK let us hold them to that. Let us all from now on analyse the “policies” of the LibDems and hold the Guardian true to its word. For example, dismantling Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Wonderful policy, eh?
Yeah, ipso facto lunatic! Doesn't need any more analysis than that. Because if you haven't got a nuclear deterrent then you aren't a proper country.**
Sky News (as in “Hey you guys! So you’re looking for some revenge for 9/11 are you?” to US troops in Iraq) has humiliated itself by being so pro-Tory it makes Hitler look like a fairy Godmother,
Sky News is hilariously pro-Tory, but I wonder if this comparison with Hitler is quite apt.
assuming that Cameron would have a whopping majority and waltz into Number Ten.
He's too down with the kidz. It would be breakdancing all the way.
But he hasn’t. Almost seventy per cent of the electorate don’t want him or his toffs.
No! We want other toffs! (How come the writer didn't make this point himself? It's so insightful about THE MACHINE!)
The British media has a lot to answer for. Rather than inform the people, discussing issues and policies (they could not do that because everyone would then give Gordon Brown an absolute majority
Just like that.
and the Banks obviously have some kind of a deal with the Tories)
Oh yeah! It is obvious!
they have turned the entire campaign into a smokescreen which tries to hide the truth.
Thank God for Pravda.
No wonder people out there are asking “Who are we voting for?” It is not who, but what. If the British people do not know substance when they see it, then they have their media to blame. Trying to be bullish, all it manages to do is to spew Bull.

John WHITEHOUSE
John WHITEHOUSE must have felt very clever when he thought up the bullish and bull thing. Quite reasonably, since my top-level text analysis program informs me that, on the basis of his endearing rhetoric that he is a bright fifteen-year-old or very bright thirteen-year-old.


* I watched the whole exchange sort of expecting her to sound bigoted, and then it turned out she didn't. She said one not particularly bigoted thing about immigration and her qualms thereabout. That was interesting, in itself.
** I am not necessarily in favour of not having nuclear deterrent. My views on this subject are complex and inspiring. Given half a chance, I might write about them soon in an important Chinese daily newspaper

Monday, 10 May 2010

kirk douglas and sexy mermaid minnie from madagascar*

You must feel like it's been forever since the last news of sexy mermaids, but it hasn't. It's only been [less than that]. I've seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but it was a while ago and I'd forgotten Kirk Douglas singing this**:



If I'd remembered the song, I might have taken Whale of a Tale along to The Music Group, which I am on tomorrow afternoon at 13.30 (set your alarms, or listen again on the BBC website, or don't listen again, but don't say I didn't warn you). It's repeated on Saturday at 15.30. Once it's been on, I will have some things to say about my choice.


* She swapped him for a trout, which is vividly demonstrative of the mermaid problem, which is what my original posts were mostly all about.
** If you want to see Kirk singing, an incomplete version is available.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

much ado about alfriston

Yesterday, I helped host the Alfriston book swap. Comparisons are odorous, and I love everything to with West End Lane Books, and no one can make me pick a favourite bookshop so I'm not going to. But it's one of those two. Much Ado is a fantastic, addictively treasures-filled place, and Cate and Nash co-ran an incredibly warm and friendly swap. As usual, there was more cake than people could eat.



If you happen to be hanging around the Downs, pop in. I'm going back soon, whatever spurious reason I have to manufacture. I was ensorcelled, basically.*

Once corner of the second hand section had, next to each other, Bloody Versicles, Swamp of Death and The Durable Desperadoes. Then I opened a translation of the Kalevala and the first line I read was 'Like the miserable codfish.'

I have a website, by the way. It seemed like time. If you're thinking that it feels a bit elegant and not-broken to have been put together by me, then you're not the fool you look. It was put together by one of the beautiful actresses I know.


*'Ensorcelled' is a word that I bet gets used massively more often than it was before Josh said it on West Wing.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

holding out for a hero

I'm reading The Saint Bids Diamonds, enjoying the house-style/period hyperbole.
He realised that if her mouth had been happy it would have been very happy, a soft, red, full-lipped mouth that would have tantalised the imagination of any man whose impulses were human.

Possibly he was quite mad. If so, he always had been, and it was too late in life to worry about it. But it was his creed that adventure waited for no time-tables, and everything he had ever done or would do was built up on that reckless faith.

The Saint's trick of hitting back at a catastrophe with a riposte of such incredible audacity that his opponent could never make himself believe that it was nothing but the last desperate resource of a cornered man had worked for the latest of countless similar occasions in his life; even if it really provided no more than a spidery tightrope on which the abyss had still to be crossed.
I think it should probably be recourse rather than resource, but I have copied faithfully.

I'm going to Alfriston now to swap books.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

light relief

1. I have just done a British Library search for Cunnington Underclothes. Sounds like they should make sturdy gussets for ladies of a certain age AND surprisingly racy satins for enthusiastic debs.

2. If you only feel you are getting quality when you spend proper money on it, you can pick up a copy of The Kilburn Social Club from papamedia-uk on Amazon's partners section for £56.95. I wouldn't.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

kult teams play in brown

Just been reading about St Pauli on Phil Minshull's BBC blog. This is their kit:



Among the other things-for-KSC-readers that jumped out at me, apart from the kult atmosphere at games, and the fact that the club banned any kind of right wing, nationalist display in the stadium when far rightism (or far right iconography at the very least) was part of the hooliganism that was rising widely across Europe, were:
Sponsors have increased the club budget to around €40m (£34.6m) so regular and frantically solicited injections of emergency cash from friends in the theatre world of club president Corny Littmann who, coincidently, is openly gay, are no longer necessary

Do I hear the words 'Sold Out' being uttered by some radical elements?
The problem is: football is really expensive, and St Pauli need to move to a bigger stadium to house their fans. The fans cry 'Sold Out', and some of them would be happy to be relegated because they are not trying to play the same financial game as their opponents, but some would not.

Monday, 3 May 2010

two different people crudely stitched together

This is from The String Theory, a 1995 essay on tennis by David Foster Wallace. As a set of physical pen portraits, it's amazing:
Television tends to level everybody out and make everyone seem kind of blandly good-looking, but at Montreal it turns out that a lot of the pros and stars are interesting-or even downright funny-looking. Jim Courier, former number one but now waning and seeded tenth here, looks like Howdy Doody in a hat on TV but here turns out to be a very big boy -- the “Guide M├ędia” lists him at 175 pounds, but he’s way more than that, with big smooth muscles and the gait and expression of a Mafia enforcer. Michael Chang, twenty-three and number five in the world, sort of looks like two different people stitched crudely together: a normal upper body perched atop hugely muscular and totally hairless legs. He has a mushroom-shaped head, inky-black hair, and an expression of deep and intractable unhappiness, as unhappy a face as I’ve seen outside a graduate creative-writing program. Pete Sampras is mostly teeth and eyebrows in person and has unbelievably hairy legs and forearms -- hair in the sort of abundance that allows me confidently to bet that he has hair on his back and is thus at least not 100 percent blessed and graced by the universe. Goran Ivanisevic is large and tan and surprisingly good-looking, at least for a Croat; I always imagine Croats looking ravaged and emaciated, like somebody out of a Munch lithograph -- except for an incongruous and wholly absurd bowl haircut that makes him look like somebody in a Beatles tribute band. It’s Ivanisevic who will beat Joyce in three sets in the main draw’s second round. Czech former top-ten Petr Korda is another classic-looking mismatch: At six three and 160, he has the body of an upright greyhound and the face of -- eerily, uncannily -- a freshly hatched chicken (plus soulless eyes that reflect no light and seem to see only in the way that fishes’ and birds’ eyes see).

Sunday, 2 May 2010

that's a hell of a big thing to find a flaw in

Yup, it's been a while since I let you in for any Lords of Finance, but I've just read John Lanchester's New Yorker review. I'm not sure I'd have written a better one, and I can't say fairer than that.

Two things for today. First is Alan Greenspan speaking on October 23rd, 2008, who said that the crisis was a once-in-a-lifetime tsunami:
Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity – myself especially – are in a state of shocked disbelief ... [The failure of self interest to provide self-regulation was] ... a flaw in model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.
As Lanchester points out, 'That's a hell of a big thing to find a flaw in.' Put not your faith in markets.

Second, Lanchester finishes with a magic Montagu Norman (Governor of Bank of England at start of Great Depression) quotation which I though I had favoured you with before but cannot find anywhere. Ben is his old friend Ben Strong, his American counterpart:
As I look back, it now seems that, with all the thought and work and good intentions ... nothing that I did, and very little that old Ben did, intentionally produced any good effect at all except that we collected money from a lot of poor devils and gave it over to the four winds.