28 February 2007


Two ace videos from YouTube of the great Django Reinhardt and L'Ot Cloob de France

  • Wonderfully posed one of Djangers fiddling on the frets as the Volas play cards and smoothie Stephane warms up. Look at them puffing away on the Gauloises - good lads!

    Stephane had told me that the Macaferri had a very high and loose action, and if you look closely as Django picks you see that there's hardly any tension there. How on earth he made those fast runs. Oh, and you can also see clearly the damaged tendons of the fretting hand. Fascinating bit of musical history.

  • The tuxed up lads en concert.

    (PS - Props to the hot, clubbing Wells for alerting me to the original funky link. I sometimes suspect that Thou Tube doesn't really like one re-posting)

  • Teaspoon Bottleneck

    Believe it or not, I tried this once in my VERY early days on guitar ... and decided it was not possible or sensible.

    Of course, in those days I had neither the right hand nor left, but I had seen a couple of slide guitarists off the US Navy R&R invasion and thought they delivered a tres cool sound.

    What I actually tried was: dessert soup, wooden-handled knife; a metal drinking straw-cum-spoon; and a metal-handled chopstick of which I held the wooden business end in my mouth.

    This guy has quite a nifty technique and rhythm.

    26 February 2007

    Red Guinness

    Good timing: St Patrick's Day looming for March 17 and here's likker behemoth Diageo introducing Guinness rouge

    24 February 2007

    Living Tears

    I was telling my cruel-hearted Allemande how tears spring to my eyes when I hear Mike and Mechanics' "Living Years" and how I would definitely get blubbery at the video.

    She scoffed and giggled and watched agog as my tears flowed. She did acknowledge that Mike Rutherford had a cool aesthetic, ascetic face.

    But suddenly when the lights come up in the church and there's the choir, SHE  started sobbing.

    "So beautiful, so beautiful."

    I have heard that many sons of fathers find it hard to hear without misting up. Rolf Harris is said to have wept live on camera.

    I love the sheer everyday ordinariness of the congregation - that bald guy - and Rutherford looks so cool swinging out on the Fender.

    The song came on the radio once when I was sharing a beer with a tough mate. I commented that it could have been written for my feelings over my own dad. Without pause, expressionless, he shook his lantern jaw: Close but no Romeo Y Julieta. It defined precisely how he felt about his father.

    What a feat, to have written a song that reduces strong men to tears, each of whom believes it to most closely capture their particular situation.

    Musicianly note: That dampened bass bit that Mike R plays doesn't actually fit the song and shouldn't work. Also, it is THE most impossible song to play on a simple acoustic guitar - thank gawd, or I'd be weeping into my ouzo every second gig.

    Check out the 'live' rendering.
    Red carpet, velvet rope

    Interesting Telegraph piece on why the wrong guys do/do not get Oscars.

    22 February 2007


    Nothing like a dose of penury to put a bit of oomph in a blog.

    Dude Works firing on all cylinders in his tear-jerking account of transparent bank balances and accompanying woes.

    Immediately put me in mind of Odd Todd, so of course I had to summon Tassia (in my politest Greek, of course) to bring me another tasse de co-FFAYY as I settled down to giggle at it all over again.

    In fact, only semi giggle. The first time I came across the Todd spoof, I was safely manacled to a monthly trickle of bread and gruel on the galleon Bezosia, under the loving lash of pirate chief, Marcus Schaler. Come to think of it, the roguish Works shared a starboard oar just down the way. Good times.

    Then I watched Toddie many years hence when *I* too was 'resting' and it wasn't the least bit funny.

    So, everyone read and admire ZW's prose and chuck a mite in his tip jar and let's get the lad back in the saddle again.

    21 February 2007

    Greek geek - 0xi

    Leafing thru glossy Odyssey mag, I note my lord Jeffrey of Bozosia showered with praise.

    Ever precise and desirous of saving my scribbling brethren excess goofs, I fire off a letter to the editrice:

    "I have just been presented with my first copy of your handsome "Odyssey" magazine and must compliment all concerned on the calibre of writing and excellent production values.

    It will definitely become a regular fixture in my magazine rack.

    We Greeks (Jan/Feb issue, page 22): My eye was caught by Alex Kairis' piece and the famous Time magazine cover of my old employer, Jeff Bezos.

    I worked with Amazon for a number of years including the period described by Mr Kairis. I shall send a copy to Jeff who, I know, will be delighted to have been included, albeit being not even a wee bit Greek himself.

    No matter, I shall seize this opportunity to once again badger him about setting up amazon.gr and allowing me to convert the cottage at the bottom of San Luca into a bustling call centre. There should be no difficulty luring Jeff over to Kerkira for regular site inspections!

    "Collapsing dot coms": It makes for an heroic story, that Jeff and the rest of us struggled manfully to keep our 'digital empire afloat amid the debris from the collapsing dot-coms', but it wasn't actually like that. Jeff has always warned against seeing Amazon as an instant source of cash and we were robust and ready enough to ride that market correction.

    As for Jeff's inclusion (and he will be thrilled to be pictured with George Michael), not only is Jeff himself not Greek but nor is Mike Bezos, his stepfather whom he has always proclaimed as his 'real' father, hence taking his name. By one of those flukes so typical of the shrinking world syndrome, I met Mike via a good pal who now lives on Paxos and was a colleague in the oil business.

    Anyway, Alex might like to check out this handy bio, where he will see that the Bezos name comes from Cuba. As I say, wonderful magazine, excellent articles, and I wish I could be there when Jeff receives his copy and lets out his famous roaring laugh. He's such a chameleon, it'll come as no surprise to him to have been adopted by the cradle of Democracy."

    Back from the editorial suprema came the exact precise courteous note expected:

    "To be honest, I've never been one hundred percent certain about Mr Bezos's ancestral background, although he has been widely adopted by the Greek media as being of Greek descent--something that had not been disputed until your message.

    I've asked Alex, a competent and quite genial Greek journalist, to go back to check this out. Of course--and I say this tongue-in-cheek, in Shelley's words, we are all Greeks.

    Thank you for writing to Odyssey, and for saying how much you've enjoyed it."

    Video: And here's a video that uncannily captures exactly how it was in those adventurous pioneering days.

    Stihl I Spun

    No, Grasshopper, I do not remember across 50 years which brand of flying blades I favoured:

    I was a lonely skinny spaz imprisoned with beefy scrum-halves and sadistic head-line bowlers.

    I'd go into "The "Woods" and just throw and throw.

    Wiki: "The art of knife throwing is easy to master with practice.

    Fictional depictions such as movies typically portray thrown knives as traveling in a straight line from the thrower to the target, the point of the knife always forward.

    This depiction is unrealistic, for unless the knife is fired, rather than thrown, it develops a rotation as it flies, making it difficult to predict whether the point or the handle will be facing toward the target when it strikes. Figuring these variables into calculations requires a good sense of distance and the ability to change the number of spins the knife undergoes before striking. These are skills that can be developed only after much practice."

    I mail-ordered from catalogues of Hibben, Blazing Arrow and Colt; maybe others.

    Anyway, I have a rack of them here with nothing going on. Suddenly today I mis-wielded the chainsaw and landed up with a perfectly angled target.

    Other knife skills: Then there are the politer blade skills, the culinary cutters.

    Abbreviations for Personal Ads

    I once swore I'd try anything once except Morris dancing, incest ... and dating via those twee personal ads in periodicals subscribed to by distressed gentlefolk such as moi.

    Well, the personal ad promise bit the dust and orft I jolly well tootled on my quest for Mamzel Parfaite.

    Trouble is, I couldn't make out some of the abbrevs, such as gsoh (''good sense of humour') and wltm ('would like to meet'. Bit obvious. Why else are they advertising?)

    And what about tv? A television, I wondered? Why require a tele if everyone's such scintillating company and loves getting out and about?

    Just looked it up - it stands for 'transvestite'.

    Addendum: Write it right and the cool comments will swoop in. Scary, indeed, but hilarious "interpretations" for added clarity.

    Idea for new game: Over the port, Stilton and Maui Wowie, guests to match 'interpretation' to the original. Some of Majenta's clarifications are ingenious:

    • Shy, needs coaxing. Give it a week or so.
    • Petite, unintrusive, sweetheart of a girl just looking for Joe Sensitive; bring something to gnaw on.
    • Caring, subtle, experienced homosexual ... Wear THREE condoms.
    • Adams Family meets Hustler magazine. Our genital wart cycles are SYNCHRONIZED!

    (There goes my family blog status. There go the advertisers. Here come the fierce filial emails)

    Spectator cartoon, 17 February 2007

    19 February 2007


    I don't care if this is fake - the guy looks fit enough and I like the fact that the pursuers aren't slouches neither.

    Look how he goes thru the slit into the bedroom of the sleeping couple.

    It may be speeded up un peu but it's still a good romp.

    And the Making of ...
    Clean Monday

    Why I like living in Greece, etc.

    First day of Spring over here , tra-lah, so none of that fasting prayers stuff but into the jalopy and off to distant picnic spots, there to nosh on rubbery squiddy things and swap booze and embraces with strangers and help their kids fly their kites higher than the neighbours.

    I tried looking up "Yo, kid, go fly a kite" but there wasn't quite the nuance I was after.

    Also, ethniki music on all radio channels which leads to dancing and hand-holding after a few goblets of vino.

    I wanted to have some solemn dirge ready but I was caught on the hop when I trogged out to pick up some essentials with which to get thru the day (aka booze, cigs et al)

    "They call it Cleanly Monday, my Saviour's love endures;
    Call it Cleanly Monday, with lungs and liver pure,
    'Driving all around - friggin' shops shut, that's fer sure"

    18 February 2007

    No-smoking Nazis such a drag

    Why I'd hate living in England more than you ...

    Good boot put in by Alasdair Palmer in the Sunday Telegraph about the £29.5 million of taxpayers' money going to "train staff" to enforce the ban and perform the essential task of issuing fines to smokers.
    Giuliani in Drag

    This is a man running for office?

    17 February 2007


    One should never publish folks' fotos sans their permission but look at adorable Tassia who comes and 'does' for us ....

    She's usually in shapeless practical jeans and T-shirt but I snapped this at our Epiphane luncheon when she had her gladdish rags on.

    Those guests who didn't know her were all asking "Who is that pretty girl?"

    16 February 2007

    Abey Rode

    ^5 not-so-Dumbo Abey for bashing the mini-bus around.

    Gosh I'd like to play mahout on that 'phanta and stroll dahn the King's Road wiv my steed biffing those Chelsea Tractors around.

    Take out a few meter maids if the mood takes ...

    Lovely story.

    15 February 2007

    no sadness

    yonks back in my bainbridge days, there was a poetry comp that i entered but i submitted under a pseudonym because, in my paranoia, i suspected one of the judges would dismiss me.

    it got chosen, as i knew it would, but dilemma - to whom should the check go?

    fool that i was, i'd intended to use the name of an exquisite pal of the elder child - one Morgan (Morgana? Kris will know. Rather fanciable mum, to boot)... gorgeous girl, JV lookalike, of course (PuLEEZ, can we not move on?? - Ed) I could hardly order my coffee coherently while she was barista at the Bakery - but i got it wrong and thought the name was Delgado, so i submitted as Amanda Delgado of the parish of Yaquina.

    The Spitfire was livid: 250 smacker gone AWOL that could have bought a ton of wode and cool sounds? Dad goofs again.

    rather nice: one day i was awaiting the ferry and someone said "aww, i like that one" and it was Amanda's

    I translated it into greek and have been singing it and a local chanteur wants to record it.

    no biggie, just a quiet expression of 'that feeling'. in fact, when i wrote it, i felt nothing, just the craftsman's attention to what fits. now i'm bootee of the year, it sort of resonates, dammit.

    No Sadness

    No sadness, just a way of walking home
    That links the lamplight to the shadows
    And a meaning to 'Alone'

    Choreographed queuing at the ferry
    Why must we stay so clear?
    Not own up to being grown up
    Enough to miss your shoulder,
    The way you brushed back my hair

    Of course, the song version is a little livelier and more macho: decent intro, C - E minor - F but with open D as bass - and lots of slidey stuff up the frets:

    If not now, when and where
    Will I own up to being grown up
    Enuff to miss your shoulder
    The way, etc

    And a foppish chorus (diving to E - Amin - some weird D-minoring chord I dont know - a G7 with open strings that shouldnt work but does - using the German girl's trick of saying "bli blah bli" to mean et cetera.)

    I asked to sit in on the recording. Philip said "Of course.I want you to sing one chorus with your funny accent."

    Cheek! But watch this space - if it takes off, look forward to the Fromgrep song in Greek.

    Jeffrey Preston Bezos, Man of the Year
    Here's to the reps who grepped and got you there ...

    And so forth.

    I like living in Greece more than you

    (# Whatever - see how Greek I'm becoming?)

    To the Golden Harvest Cantonese restaurant to inspect their menu for the 18th in case I can "suggest" some refinements. Tatiana tags along because she's heard of the place but never set foot inside.

    We arrive as they're readying for lunch and are approached by a totally Chinese member of staff whom I address in my faltering Greek and he replies in his more fluent Helliniki. Tatiana giggles at this bizarre situation and offers helpful translation of the more arcane points of cuisine.

    We then go into English and my questions become more accurate and informed, altho' they need translating back into Cantonese and hollered into the kitchen for confirmation and fine-tuning by some invisible hag.

    Eventually the old lady emerges and we conduct the chatter at a lower volume, which for the Chinese is down from raucous to the merely yelled.

    It's taking too long so I ask the old lady direct, we natter, I get my answers, confirm the booking for 12 and leave with much bowing and inscrutable smiling all round. Tat' is crapping herself laffing and clutches my arm as we emerge.

    "Wha's so funny, girl?"

    "You don't see it? Off-season Kerkira, scruffy gent walks into Chinese restaurant and proceeds to speak passable Greek, pretty good English ... and what sounded fluentish Chinese. You think that's normal?

    What *did* you say to her?"

    It hadn't occurred to me. I'd just slid into it.

    "I said, 'Venerable Grandmother, Kung Hei Fat Choi and may prosperity and continuing health stay with you for the Year of the Boar. And which of your recipes will we be privileged to enjoy?'

    That's when she asked for the menu, pronounced it too 'everyday normal' (translation beyond me) but if she could make a few suggestions ...

  • I refused, declaring us not worth her valued time and trouble
  • She countered with shame and honoured gratitude that their humble eaterie was even being considered for marking such an auspicious event.
  • I explained that my vulgar ignorance of good food required me to leave everything in her hands, to which *she* replied that the cook had a glimmering of talent for certain dishes and that she hoped the paltry menu she had in mind would be of some small satisfaction."
  • I said I was already faint with hunger for the glorious banquet. And we left it there."

    "Did you see the look on the faces of the others? If you don't leave bloated and happy, The Matriarch will want to know why."

    "Good point. Strategic move, there. I'd better arrive with Lai See packets galore."

  • 14 February 2007

    Kung Hei Fat Choi!

    No sooner Valentine's Day mascara done with than we are into Feb 18th's Chinese New Year's Annus Porcinus.

    A bounteous year of the golden razorback, all y'all.

    Check out yer astrological wotsits, thanks to my old alma mater, the Hong Kong tourism honchos.

    But beware taking the sage predictions too seriously: one of the few chores I refused to delegate during my years nestling in the iron rice bowl was the annual {re}-writing of those folksy fortunes.

    You smile, Grasshopper, but in those days we grubbied our hands with actual re-search, delving through dusty tomes in the lai-brubry to come up with new takes on the same old stuff.

    I got so good at capturing the voice of the ancients that one year one of the staff asked me for the source material so she could check her translation against the original Mandarin.

    "Melina," I said gently, "my 'original source' was trusty biro in left hand and a six-pack of chilled San Mig' within reach of the right."

    She didn't believe me because I'd too skilfully captured the faltering prose of an ancient confucian sage.


  • Let me add a bit of class and relevance to this post with the talented Julie Leung's coverage of CNY celebs back on my very own Bainbridge. Nice one, Julie - crisp, colourful and evocative as always.
  • And, by way of balance, Ray Lo's gloomy "corrective" on what a horrid time we'll all have.

  • 11 February 2007

    In an effort to distract myself from missing that darned lady, I've been hosting a rag-tag of pals so that they can laff at me and deride my pining.

    I'd been going thru old files and came across this effort from around 2003 when I turned up at Bainbridge's San Carlos restaurant poetry slam and was so entranced by one of the readers that I wrote something for reading at the following year's event.

    All these emotions are basically identi-kit, aren't they? I commented on this to Jeannie who read it and looked a little teary and muttered hoarsely that I should post it so she could read it again at leisure. Here it is - a bit cheesy by adult standards but with some lines that are above my usual game.

    San Carlos Encounter

    Do you remember me barging out the Carlos back door?
    Tipping your book and cigarette and toppling you
    Against the Texas number plate?

    I was heading home but you put paid to that,
    Practising out loud your poem. I listened
    But heard not one word,Too mesmerized
    By your crème brulé Carolina vowels
    And the swell at the missing button on your blouse.

    I bought lunch and you then lured me home to call up
    Half the Hawleys in Ralegh to listen
    In stunned silence to my clipped Brit fluting tones

    We were accent junkies before we were lovers,
    Even friends mocked how we must sound between the covers.
    You threatened to trap our tusslings on tape
    Dubbing them “Jeeves in dalliance with Miss NASCAR 1998”

    We should have talked then, when the jokes were good
    Before the wonderings where the other stood,
    Talked when we had the chance and life turned on a glance;
    Then when we shared a bedroom but not a bed at the end of a summer
    At the end of a party, at the end of an era.

    We should have spent all night talking,
    Lying in the bed we never shared, afterwards
    All sticky and warm, and you growling for a cigarette
    While not wanting to leave my arms.

    Talking at the wrong time has been our silence
    Or, rather, not talking when there was still time:
    When the chance of action, and so many small decisions
    Could have been some sort of revelation.

    Sometimes I felt that we lay down together
    To dreams that never quite touched,
    Our lives like parts of the same machinery,
    Chugging past some sweeping scenery we never crossed
    Because we didn’t say the word or we said it
    And it was not heard or was heard and we did not
    Take the penny at the precise moment that it dropped.

    It was that not knowing, not listening, not speaking
    Except endlessly to ourselves that landed us
    There, where two voices fall a few feet into
    Nothingness, making a distraction more noisy than
    Niagara, where the swallows dive for gnats
    And the cats watch the swallows and
    The chance of any change is
    What we also do not discuss.

    Missing you is a kind of hibernation
    Which ignores the seasons, or are they just on speed dial?
    My daily walk down Madison takes me past San Carlos.
    I think of you. I smile

    07 February 2007

    Clever Video

    Staple morning reading in the corfucian pagoda is that sage, Grumpy Old Bookman, whose knowledge and quips about the book scene always takes Busker back to his publicity peacock salad days.

    Gem of clip in the Grump's Tuesday Thoughts about

    "Dave Goodman [finding] a very, very clever piece of video which says a great deal, in a short time, about the digital age. Well worth a click".

    04 February 2007

    What the Dickens ...

    The house library has all dad's leather-bound classics including Dickens.

    No flies on Chazzer.

    How's this from Little Dorrit?

    "It is true that every new premier and every new Government coming in because they upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties in discovering How Not To Do It."

    1855 that was writ. Plus ça change.

    Blair has resigned

    (He just don't know it)

    Devastingly accurate op-ed piece by Matthew d'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph pointing out how my country's doyen of denial, the flake Blair

    "... became Prime Minister on May 2, 1997 and resigned on September 7, 2006.

    Be in no doubt: that was the day on which his premiership ended. During a visit to Quinton Kynaston School in north London, he announced, after a failed but hugely damaging backbench coup, that the forthcoming Labour Party conference would be his last as leader, and, at that moment, power drained from him instantly and irretrievably.

    On September 26 in Manchester, he delivered a majestic farewell speech to his assembled party. And that ought to have been that: so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. It would have been a supremely stylish exit, leaving Labour to agonise over why, precisely, it had driven out the most electorally successful Prime Minister it has ever had. Instead, Mr Blair went back to his desk in Downing Street as if nothing had happened, and resumed business as usual. It was as if he had resigned, but didn't know it.

    Since then, the PM has been a political wraith, a spectral presence at an increasingly bloody political feast. He is also the subject of daily impeachment in the court of public opinion. On Friday, in a compelling Today interview with John Humphrys, he put the case for the defence. He was still, he said, enormously busy, and, rather forlornly, listed his daily diary appointments as evidence of his industry and commitment to unfinished business."

    And what a lunatic decision by Blair to face Humphrys.

    Here's sections - and read Andrew Pierce's killer analyses of the Blair burblings.

    How Brown must be gloating.

    03 February 2007

    When I'm 60 - er - thingy

    In the positive thinking US of A, I would, tomorrow, be turning a triumphant Sixty Won, but in my mind it's geriatric country.

    Plus, I am sadder than I have been for many a moon, having come a bad cropper over a lady ...

    Eh bien, move on, and none of my pals know of it.

    When the great date was being planned, mama handed me a pink ticket to invite "a few friends" over, this meaning the usual suspects from *her* rolodex of acceptables.

    Instead, I decided to be naughty and rustle up a few of my own cronies from the dark side and throw *them* in with the toffs. It will be great fun and they will get on famously.

    I was telling Pericles that I wanted the whole shebang:

  • Unseemly rowdy behaviour
  • Him on bouzouki singing out THE most vulgar student songs
  • Mascara in the cake
  • Mascara in *my* cake
  • Sambo the dawg bolting for cover
  • Maybe even the birthday boy tossed into the sub-temp pool

    Pericles: Christo, Grik is beautiful language with many rules for change. You must learn.

    If rule stay rule, that is big change.

    Loipon. When 'throw' and 'swim pool' include in same sentence, cannot have 'may' verb. It always change to 'will' 'must' 'what we wait for'.

    Is not like wine when not so much in bottle and it *may* necessary for new cask.


    Sooper Bowl: Good excuse to dredge up my fave tale from my early days in Bainbridge.

    The Spitfire's birthday falls on Jan 25 so we'd time her birthday for the nearest Sunday, which was usually also Bowl day when all good men polished their plasma screens and ordered in the guacamole only to be told by wifey that *they* weren't looking after little Martha ...no way, *they* were orft to a jolly old gossip with the sisters.

    So here's this dude outta nowhere organizing a party for the (literal) babes? Say what?

    First year I got this call from mellifluous voxed pater reminding me that his gal and my A- were best of budettes and yo! the invite seemed to have got lost in the mail. On checking, daughter of mel-vox and my pomme d'oeuil seemed NOT to be that close, until MV hinted that, aw, did i really want to deprive the fright of my loins of a prezzie of unseemly generosity and coolness? Clinched.

    And so for the next few years it as Bowl time approached, the Buskerine became the gal most likely to.

    And this year, it's MY day.

    How I long to be in the US and sending out invites to all and sundry and watching them squirm over refusals, offering instead their pre-teeny daughters as substitutes.

    Can't you see the Banbridge Review headline, wrinklie's 61st hosting nothing but juvies? (Actually, prolly be the best party I'd had in a long time)

    Eeek, yaroo, splash

  • 02 February 2007

    Potter Spotter

    The count-down

    Oyez oyez ...

    Still all of six months to go but the weirdo Harry Potter stories are oozing from the woodwork.

  • Alma mater Amazon.com has sent out two  releases with typically idiotic stats, such as that first day of advice orders was all of 547% up on that for "Half-Blood Prince". Duhh.
  • Publishers to the gentry, Scholastic, explain (and blame) the upped price on a rise in manufacturing costs
  • A spokesperson: "Since 2003, clearly, the prices have gone up for production, for paper, for gas, for distribution and security, and this reflects the increase." Quaite. Clearly, indeed.
  • The NYT nips in to point out that Scholastic depends on a Potter transfusion (book division sales fall about 15% when a new title isn't in the offing.)
  • BUT, insiders know that more Potter is NOT in fact critical, since listing a new Rowling usually represents only 13% of book division sales.