31 March 2007

top 100 april 1st hoaxes

yes ... that's it. not a trick.

just click and read.
Harry Crews

There is a God. The great Harry Crews on film with The Hawk is Dying.

He was one of the authors I had the privilege of promoting in their British edition.

Forget Bellow and Carlos Fuentes; forget Woodstein and Pencourt; forget Piers Read and Melvyn Bragg (Lord Bragg to you); maybe not forget David Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury, certainly not forget Elmore Leonard ...

But Mr Crews - he was the real deal.

If you haven't, read him.

Enuff said.

30 March 2007

Iran-held Brits

All these letters being bandied around with their suspect stilted language ... I assume these capturees are shoving in clues that they are being coerced, not that they need even do that.

All the people I know who've been held and made to write messages to loved ones or the authorities have simply included wrong nicknames, unlikely vocab, etc.

Of course, they have to count on the recipients going on global media to proclaim "Hoorah! Good news, chaps - it's all fake because that's not my nickname at all and he would *never* use "prithee" in a message to his Gran." Meanwhile, over in the bunker, the captors leap up from admiring their blanket media coverage to duff the wily scribe over.

24 March 2007

Ready when you are ...

I think I'm right, in which case some hapless sub on Athens News is in for a ticking off.

Its page 6 'In Brief" section has a helpful reminder that "Clocks go forward"
"Clocks will be set ahead by one hour at 3am on March 28 [sic] when Greece begins observing Daylight Saving Time, or summertime."

The sites I've checked seem to agree with my wall calendar, that it's this Sunday - the 25th - when the horloges spring forward.

  • Sunday
  • The 25th.
But then again, Athens News cites a rather odd site - Date and Time - from which, once one has established the correct hour, one can order ones Muscovite mail bride.

Yes yes, I know. No man is an island and all that ... but ....

I have been snapped up by a flashy new mag (debut date June-ish) to run my very own scurrilous column, whatever I want.

I've warned them, I hunt with some dodgy types and am bound to offend.

"Go for it," said the boss man. "Your reputation precedes you. You've already offended enough types on the island.

We thought you might fancy doing it for actual dosh."

Link here, my darlings, and prepare your delicate selves for a rocky ride.

23 March 2007


I know y'all are curious what local bands I'm rocking to.

C:Real is my current fave and I'm seeing them/her in concert next week.
Wyche Crafte

I am being very childish and smug about a fat queen rich bitch getting her come-uppance - or go-downance, since she ended in the gutter.

But first some background.

Back in the mists of time when, 34 years ago, my parents hacked their way through the undergrowth to stand on the hillock that came to house Hacienda Busker, it was just jungle.

But my dad pronounced it good and they bought their 4o acres and chased the mules off and built. Of course, for the workers to actually reach the hillock, a road had to be carved and electricity brought, all of which my folks paid for.

For some years, the road led only to the house and any car lights were coming to us.

Then the white man arrived with his iron horse and they drove up the road and extended it, tapping our 'lectrics to build their own teepees. Then more arrived with their big SUVs and bully boy driving until they had to erect signage.

Then *we* were the po' folks and they were the chosen riffraff.

Witch: In 1975 I was out on hol and developed a sordid wart on my thumb that was NOT good for being bonked. Nothing worked on it til Soula suggested she fix me up with the local witch. I scoffed but she said no, really, Asposia is the real thing.

Endaxi. I waited for Soula's sign and one full moon the ides were right and down i went to meet this crone, except she was a handsome lass of late 20s. I repeated after her in my halting Greek and went home and next day - gone. My sex life saved.

The Asp and I stayed pals and every summer we'd have her up and she'd admire mum's garden and I'd practice my Greek, One year her mum went ill and I drove them everywhere because I wanted to. Friendship forged.

Cut to 2006/7 and rich bitch in her fancy BMW driving as if hubby owned half Gouvia, which he does come to think of it. Many times I'd met her coming the other way on my side of the road and "exchanged words".
I told her: see those signs? Theyre for the likes of you.

Nai nai. Piss orf, foreigner.

So I'm driving Asp' last week and we meet RB driving like crazy and we both have to stop for her to reverse and let us both pass. I tell Asp this is typical and she leans out and says something very polite to RB who responds with something that has A go very pinch-faced.

As we drive on, I apologise to A but she silences me with a hand on mine and a "look".

"It's done," she says simply, which I take to mean that I've blown it, shown my true wimp colors by not yelling louder.

Thursday night I'm driving home very carefully after gazing on the wine while it was red and I round the corner and there's Madame gazing on her fancy wheels in the ditch, scrunched cosily agin the very sign warning her about what she'd just done.

Dang where was my camera??

I stopped and got out and gloated and she asked if I could collect her husband to come down and I said oki no way. Gloated a bit more and offered her my torch to see the full extent of the damage. Ouch - car was well in the ditch and there wasnt much of Bavaria left of the Motor Werks frontage.

I drove on with a cheery kali nikta.

I'm not saying that Asposia had a wand in it but the timing was excellent and when I told her she gave a very Greek nod as if to hint that, over moussaka with hubby that night, the Rich Bitch prolly dined in silent sulky hell.

21 March 2007


No, you don't understand ... that is my space ... er ... "dude".

The cheek of it: I finally decide to sign up with youthful MySpace, punch in all sorts of respectable fibs and tasteful fotos etc such as will not embarass the Spitfire (who also has an e-piole buried within) ... go to choose the obvious name, and someone else has had the effrontery to have nabbed BUSKER .

Plus he's blacker and more beautiful than me which make the lèse majesté even harder to stomach.

15 March 2007

Ides Caveat


Doesn't quite have the ring of 9/11, does it?

No, *not* the acronym, "Intimidate, Demoralize, Emasculate, Subjugate", you 'orrible geeky lot, you ... Nor that SAP shower's "Internet Demonstration and Evaluation System" flim-flam.

I'm talking:

  • Middle of month in the Roman calendar
  • Best known to you lot for the Ides of *March*, the day in 44 BC when Julius Caesar bought it.
  • "Et tu, Brute", or "You stabbed me, you bastard ... *and* you've nicked my aftershave."
  • Comes from the Latin, 'Ides' (I pernounce it 'Ee-daze' but the jury's still out on how they actually did say many of their verbals), meaning "half division" (of a month).
  • Being 10 hours ahead, I thought I'd send this heads-up thru so y'all can show orf.
  • Tried asking them ignorami at Greek class but not a single one knew.

    So, as the kids scramble round the breakfast table, don your "learned" expression and shake yon shaggy sage's mane and pronounce,

    "Now, children, we all know what day it is today, don't we?"

    To which the reply will no doubt be "Omigahd! Yesss! April Lavigne's new album is out - Dad, you are so awesome, thanks sooooo much ... OMG OMG ... her video of "Girlfriend" was like so whatevaH ... yahh."

  • 14 March 2007


    Tonight we dine in ... heck

    I thought it was some camp local production; it is magnifique.

    The posters had been up in the Orpheus and I thought, "That sounds a good laff for a dull night."

    So Ioanna and I turn up on the opening night and, dude, the queue is round the corner. Ioanna gives me a "look" and goes off to find her friend in the back office to seat us where she can smoke thru the showing. This is quickly done. What is less easy in this non-smoking flea-pit is finding where the NON-puffers can sit. It's like Rows F-K, Block A, somewhere on the left of the screen.

    So the movie starts and it's a Frank Miller number except not as cool as Sin City.

    Wow! Those Sparta Tourism Bureau types must be creaming their - er - breastplates over this PR that drachmas can't buy.

    The front rows are full of schoolkids straight from their desks on Skyros Street and they *love* the way Lay-on-EYE-tas is pronounced, so much so they are calling it out over the soundtrack. A couple of codgers with cigs drooping rise and bellow with accompanying cuffing gestures and the noise abates. Ah, the rule of law ....

    When the half-naked oracle starts writhing around with them decadent Persians, Ioanna gives me a dig in the ribs and a stage whisper, "Bet you wish you'd paid more attention in school, nai?"

    I try to find her hand but she removes it, reminding me that, for authenticity's sake during *this* movie, I am more suitably occupied fondling the gnarled stalwart to our left. I knew there was a reason I never took to togas and history.

    It's wonderfully stylised and sombre and the battle truly *is* awesome.

    Ever since my classics teacher read out the line, I've tried to imagine arrows blotting out the sun and fierce warriors of noble mien quipping about scrapping in the shade. And now I know. Loipon!

    Splendidly bloody and no nonsense about correctitude: the goodies are tall and straight and perfectly formed and proportioned AND WHITE, whereas the baddies are decadent as all hell and have a bazillion piercings and get up to all sorts of naughty stuff with slaves and whores and large animals ... and are pretty well all dark-skinned or Asian and many MANY are physically deformed just in case we're in danger of confusion.

    As we walk out, Ioanna joins some moussed schoolkids in amused discussion over the noble Spartans' 'lone' stand at Thermopylae. All agree that even the school charlady knows they were part of an alliance (including dem Athenians) who fit them kinky Persians at sea.

    It gets better: the movie has actually broken Greek box-office records. Despite crap reviews, right from the opening weekend (ie Ioanna and me), more than 325,000 people saw the film. The previous Thursday-to-Sunday opening record for a film was 'Pirates of The Caribbean II' with 220,000 ticket sales.

    Why it's a hit: Time mag comes up with 7 reasons why '300' is a hit. Eight if you include coining the adjective 'spartanian'.

    Dept of Where There's a Hit there's a Protesting Twit with a Writ: Groan. Someone had to hit a Farsi-cal note.

    Iranian Ire: Tidy piece in Athens News on how the Iranians are being utter wets about this whole thing.

    13 March 2007

    track-side chapel en route to Perithea
    No Way, you little She-Devil

    (And that's the down-side)

    I *hate* eating seditious dust and only attracting corfucian hits thanks to my keen eye for cadging the best of the Nitekrü Meister's output.

    But Mr Deity surpasses excellence, so I'm prepared - just this once - to make an exception.

    There are moments - Mr Deity's furtive shake of head to camera at Lucie's mention of adulterers - that remind me of the brilliant TV series, The Office. (The BRITISH version)

    Accept no substitute: Like all works nudging genius, imit- and comment- ators have come oozing out of the woodwork with their own follow-ups. Stick with the original for now.

    Primp my Pimp

    • Karateka giving demo in police station takes five to exit and tell a pimp to stop whupping his girl.
    • Pimp takes umbrage and goes to duke whitey out.
    • Watch the force and economy of movement with which the karateka strikes - once only - all the while maintaining balance, ready for more.

    10 March 2007

    Day-light shifting

    It's no use all the Brit community and wannabe Kerkiraki getting bad tempered with me and telling I'm jumping the gun with daylight savings.

    I'm not like you provincials, I'm a man of the world: I think Seattle as fluently as I think Agios Spiridon; I fit into Benitses polite society with the same aplomb as I'm lionised on fair Bainbridge Isle.

    Drop my name in Kowloon and the chic salons of Canterbury will fling open their doors and lackeys bow low.

    So don't sneer when I talk about adjusting my clock for this Sunday. I have two angels in the colonies with whom I like to keep in touch and I need my Americas clock to be accurate so as to sound clued-up and 'interested'.

    When it comes time for Anglo Saxonia to 'spring forward', I'm sure I'll hear all about it, including advance genial reminder from the pulpit.

    09 March 2007

    God Only Knows

    As the anniversary passes of my slinking out of the US of A for pastures parnassian, I need no excuse to post this clip from Love, Actually.

    Sentimental idiot, moi, I like the bit at the end when the actors have done their stuff and the ordinary Joes and Josephines take over, kissing and greeting.

    (Only trouble, the dialogue seems a mite out of synch ... )

    07 March 2007

    British Book Awards shortlist, 2007

    You know what? I'm not sure if I do like reading more than you.

    Terrible to admit it but I'm just mush brains these days and go thru the motion ... like posting this link to make believe I'm some literatus in touch with a booksy world that no longer exists and probably didn't even when I bestrode it.
    Monsoon Wedding

    If you haven't yet seen Monsoon Wedding, do so, if only for Ayesha's Dance, (the tantalising Neha Dubey).

    After that, everything else is mere sex.

    And if that isn't your bag, try a little tenderness with the best of PK Dubey.

    Trivia note: The turbaned gent in the dance scene, who gives his partner a sedate twirl, is the actual *owner* of the swimming pool in which they filmed the dance. Yes, the "dance floor" is a swimming pool in real life.


    'Faggot' is like 'nigger'? It can't be spelled out? The Washington Post has to use "[expletive]" in reporting the Coulter gaffe?

    I've never used it as referring to homosexualists, just as a favourite food I used to buy in the local supermarket.

    But I do remember Alex practically crapping himself in the aisle when he'd come across a packet in the marché deep freeze.

    I'd gone off to stock up on cheap plonque and I come back to find this big-boned son of a Pittsburgh steel-worker gasping for breath as he holds aloft a pack of Birdseye 'Faggots' ('ideal for that quick snack or TV dinner').

    The thing is, I'd just the previous day suggested we eat out and snatch a burger at a nearby Wimpy.

    "There's a burger joint called 'Wimpy'?" he asked incredulously.
    "Yeah, all over the country. It's a big franchise."
    "Does anyone *eat* there?"
    "Of course."
    "I mean ... like ... real men?"
    "Sure. It's burgers and chips. Real men junk food."

    And now I'm feeding him faggots. He must have wondered who the heck he'd bumped into out in Corfu and offered him a spare bed for any London visit.

    Certainly, a mental note not to drop the soap while showering.

    This was back in '72 so I don't know if the Brits got wise and no longer sell it under that name, but I'm alarmed that it's reached N-word status.

    Stop Press: Rather stopped me, too. Slate's Mickey Kraus does an occam razor job on nuances of faggotry that I had no idea existed and still can't quite grasp.

    But I don't have to understand what I post, just amuse myself by citing relevant authorities that I think fit the context.

    Update: One thing I could *never* keep up with was which was the correct description du jour for my brethren born under sunnier skies - or not, as may be. Black? Coloured? Certainly not African American in the case of my bruthas down the Portobellow Road or Brixton.

    It seems that 'blacks' is what Whitehall is bandying around, as per this report of an MP being sacked for accusing our stalwart troops out there (genus Africanus Brittanicus) of using the dusky card as an excuse to slack off.

    Silly boy - in my experience, these are the guys who deliver the goods and render a far more disciplined sense of teamwork than their feckless gweilo colleagues.

    Biting the wax tadpole

    Here's a forthcoming book coming from Melville House publishers that caught my eye: Elizabeth Little's "adventures in word travel", the intriguingly titled, "Biting the Wax Tadpole".

    To quote the blurb, "examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up, a multilingual grammar fiend shares all of the humorous 'dirty bits' - irregular verbs, unusual spellings, and evolutionary quirks - that give languages, and cultures, their character."
    Hung out to dry

    You can take your Chevy to Lord Levy on this one - he's "hung out to dry", according to his splendidly-named rabbi, Yitzchack Schochet.

    You don't have to know or care about Britain's peerages-for-pounds "scandal" to appreciate the coarser points of this saga: one of Blair's smartest toughest henchmen has been chosen for the honour of taking the fall for his boss.

    Moping about trial by media is a laff because no one has worked the press better than Lord 'Cashpoint'. Now it's payback time, and Fleet Street has its knives out.

    Oh and I was waiting for Levy's mob to produce the Jew card when the time was right. Groan, such a tired cliché to talk of "an element of anti-Semitism". An 'element'? Enough already: Anyone who knows how the UK press tweaks national prejudices knows that they either go for the full rabbinical monty or they look for some other button to push.

    On the other hand, anything that inspires an evocative phrase like "one Jew being hung out to dry" is too good not to print.

    So, we've got
    Fayed and the royal assassination caper and now Levy's trial out of camera.

    Looks like being a hot summer in every sense.

    06 March 2007

    Id-len-es of March

    As the story goes, Ernest Hemingway was sitting in a bar when a fellow drinker started unburdening himself of his woes.

    Papa silenced him with a, "Mister, I get in my own jams."

    Readers of this blog are likewise sufficiently a-jam in their own follies, so let me skip the emoting and simply say that my heart is heavy as March 7 approaches and I remember the day last year when my best buddy (and manager non-pareil of my Bainbridge condo), the inestimable David Wasczak, packed me and my two boxes worth of 20 years' belongings and drove me to SeaTac to catch flight 958 over the pond to London SW1 more far.

    A month later I was on the move again to Greece, but that's another histoire to be addressed in gory detail when *that* anniversary comes.

    So many people and aspects of that life I miss. Fin.

    My current 'jam' is neatly encapsulated in a recurring image that runs through my mind:

    I wake and am thinking about the day but when I make to drape a leg over the side of the bed I'm not allowed to rise until I can think of a single person or thing for whom/which I would perform such a move. Nix comes to mind.

    Having failed this test, I'm next on some floating platform that, when the camera pulls back, is shaped like Kerkira. I drift past 1-dimensional monochromatic folks whom I sort of recognise as peopling my day without making the slightest dent in my consciousness or interest.

    Suddenly I see The Spitfire manning the checkout counter of some impersonal supermarket. Her fingers dash over the cash register and she's bright and alert at her job as she would be at anything she applied her hand to; as she would be in better life that her father might have afforded to help her to.

    I greet her and she says a friendly but crisp "Hi dad. Catch you in the break." Clipped and practical, as always. The camera pulls back and I see it's the BI Safeway and a couple of customers back is me and her as *we* once queued, full shopping basket including good things for my Baby as per back when times were better and cash was avail.

    She serves this confident privileged pair sans noticing, as they do not notice her. I walk out, nay I slink out. 'Later, dad,' she says as the doors slide open.

    But what's this? Outside is my Big Girl, kneeling in the road to pick up what looks to be books that someone is tossing from a great height into the road. I go over to help and she says hi dad and i get down to help her scoop up the books and they are her school texts and there are bits of officialese paper mixed in, requests for pay of fees, reminders, warnings, threats ... final demands bordered in red ... notices to vacate bordered in red and black.

    I ask where to put the books and the Big Gal says she guesses over there, in the tip. I carry an armful over and i see its already full of her belongings. I am too ashamed to ask, so all i say is lets get it done and maybe have a coffee.

    "That's great, dad, but later. I need get down to the job centre to see what's going." I walk away because that way I'm facing where she can't see my tears.

    I'm drifting again on my coracle and theyre waving at me but i dont recognise anyone. Suddenly there's a tiny isle of 2 figures i *do* recognise and theyre waving at me with beaming friendly faces. "Over here, lad!"

    Goodness, my 2 best friends since ive been here, the only duo ive really got to know: Mr Al K Hol and good old Nick O'Tine.

    The current takes me straight there and i step out of my craft to be offered a glass of something and a carton of baccy.

    Bit early, i waffle, to which they guffaw, "We all said that at first, old boy. Not to worry. Sheer boredom will settle that."

    I step back into the coracle and wave them goodbye: "Got to go, stuff to do, people to see." Guffaw. "Whatever, old boy. When yer ready."

    The current takes me away and I practise a wave at nobody so that Al and Nick think I really do have a life. They raise their glasses and glowing baccy and give a friendly laff.

    There are books floating by and bits of paper. They pass too fast for me to make out what theyre advertising but theyre bordered in red and black.

    04 March 2007

    Sir Denis Thatcher anecdote

    Too good not to share

    Also in the Telegraph, and staying well clear of tales of horror such as Ferry mauling Dylan, the lovely Celia Walden runs her consistently readable Spy column.

    A lovely little story via Sir David Frost and involving the late Sir Denis Thatcher is, indeed, too good not to share:

    "According to the 67-year-old broadcaster, Sir Denis once found himself in rather an odd situation during a train trip to Bristol to play golf for charity. Staff at Number 10 had failed to make a reservation for the Prime Minister's husband and when he boarded the train at Paddington, it was packed.

    "When he got on the train, he found it was full and so were the corridors," recounts Sir David.

    "He was 74 years old and didn't want to stand for two hours. Neither did he want everyone joking about him being the Prime Minister's husband and not being able to get a seat.

    "Then he came across a compartment which was absolutely empty except for a sign saying 'Reserved for Reading Psychiatric Hospital.' There were eight empty seats.

    Sir Denis couldn't believe his luck and in he went and sat down.

    Then the train arrived in Reading," continues Sir David. "The compartment door opened and the Reading Psychiatric Hospital group came in.

    Their minder looked around and said 'There are too many people here... ' He counted '1, 2, 3, 4... and who are you?'

    Denis replied: 'I'm the husband of the Prime Minister.'

    And the nurse said: 'OK... 5, 6, 7, 8.' "

    Bryan does Bob

    Horrific piece in Saturday's Telegraph warning of an album by Bryan Ferry of Dylan covers.

    The sub-para reads, "Bryan Ferry tells Neil McCormick about divorce, M&S, and his new album of Dylan songs".

    I genuinely read it as "S&M" and mentally applauded the truth serum that had McCormick spotting it as sado-masochism on Dylan fans everywhere.

    The less said about this grotesquerie the better. On to the pop record review section where David Cheal drools over the Ferry album but in such a hammy malapropist way as to read like a winner of one of those comps where readers write rave reviews that between the lines make clear what a absolute stinker the whole package really is.

    I'm sure Cheal is a paid-up devotee of both artistes, but this week's trophy for a hatchet job goes on his shelf for even *suggesting* that,

    "If anyone has the credentials to record an album of Bob Dylan songs, it's Bryan Ferry: his version of A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall on his 1973 These Foolish Things album remains unimpeachable, while his last solo album, 2002's Frantic, also contained two terrific Dylan covers.

    So here he is, re-inhabiting and reinventing 11 songs with verve, swagger and breezy confidence; recorded in a week, it sounds fresh, urgent and compelling.

    Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Times They Are a-Changin' and If Not For You are smouldering blues-rockers, driven by the chugging guitar of Chris Spedding and illuminated by splashes of Ferry's harmonica, while and Gates of Eden take a spookier, more atmospheric approach, sounding, in fact, like out-takes from Dylan's own Oh Mercy album; Simple Twist of Fate is like a whirlwind of song.

    And it's all sung in a voice which is becoming old, stretched and thin - the perfect match for Dylan's timeless melodies and haunting lyrics."

    "Old, stretched and thin ... verve, swagger and breezy confidence." Pass the sick bag, Alice.

    Someone had better hope that Dylan himself never *ever* reads this diabolically apt description of the mother of all mismatches.

    Positively 4th Grade: I can't work out if these posts are blessing or depressing. From his prowls along the watchtower, Wells sahib sends this nightmare clip of Ferry surpassing badness.

    Had Master Cheal seen this travesty - complete with lèse majesté mincing hand on hip - he would never have besmirched the honourable Telegraph with such a groveling eulogy.


    If Jeff Foxworthy had cornered *me* with this poser, and given me one person (not The Spitfire) to call, or spend the rest of my life gardening for a wrong answer - I'd choose The Seditious One because he's funky that way and knows this arcane weird stuff.

    But I wouldna had to because the Greek for table is trapeza so I'd've guessed four.

    What I would *not* have known to go on to say is all the wiki minutiae about it being "Trapezoid in North America but trapezium in Britain and elsewhere."

    Of course, we know how this'll pan out: none of the audience at home will know the answers, but we'll be appalled at the low standard of knowledge of the 5th graders ("And these are tomorrow's leaders?"). Then they'll wheel on the adults who'll be abysmally worse at which point the couch potatoes at home will head for the drinks cabinet and pour a large one.

    03 March 2007

    Di's death goes to jury

    It won't mean nuffink to you rabelaisian republican rabble out there in your pimped up turbo tumbrils, but to us devoted monarchists, Dodi's dad Mohamed Fayed winning an "extraordinary and unprecedented legal battle" yesterday to have the inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi heard before a jury is absolutely unprecedented.

    This one has legs. The tabloids must be wetting their Victoria's Secret By Royal Appointment knickers.

    "Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales face the prospect of being personally cross-examined by Mohamed Fayed after the Harrods owner won claimed the couple were murdered by secret agents on the orders of Prince Philip to prevent the princess marrying a Muslim."

    I don't believe the language of Shakespeare is up to it; I must cross over the pond for my reaction.


    02 March 2007

    Best US writers under 35

    Here's a list to make you feel old: Granta's just announced its second list of 21 best American writers under age 35.

  • Daniel Alarcon
  • Judy Budnitz
  • Kevin Brockmeier
  • Christopher Coake
  • Anthony Doerr
  • Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Nell Freudenberger
  • Olga Grushin
  • Dara Horn
  • Gabe Hudson
  • Uzodinma Iweala
  • Nicole Krauss
  • Rattawut Lapcharoensap
  • Yiyun Li; Maile Meloy
  • ZZ Packer
  • Jess Row
  • Karen Russell
  • Akhil Sharma
  • Gary Shteyngart
  • John Wray

    I've heard of Safran Foer but none of the rest, but I *want* to hear more of ZZ Packer. Talk about a great nik.

    If an editor had breathed that name back when I was in the book biz I'd've given the thumbs up sans needing to read a single word.

    Tempus Fugit note: Like the music, I suppose. One day you're embarrassingly au fait with the top bands and all 'em indie coves, the next you haven't a clue.

    Those names up there are total mysteries to me which makes it all the more ironic that, back in the mists of, I once sat on a panel of earnest literary Turks entrusted with selecting a top 20 of pimply Brit scribblers of promise. I actually knew what I was doing, and I didn't just go for the guys I clubbed with or the damsels most likely to adorn my casting couch.

    Quite a few them actually went on to deliver the goods.
  • Virtual Memory ~ S.O.S

    I am being driven mad by my lack of VM which I am sure is causing my machine to move like molasses.

  • I know how it works
  • I know how PC Mag says to fix it
  • I even know what Dave and Chris suggest.

    I'm resigned to calling in one of the ex-pat geek trolls from their mountain hermit hideaways and paying them excess bijouterie to do their stuff, but meanwhile:

    If I just transfer to disk all my pirated muzak and "Beautiful Agony" clips and porno downloads and bootleg Debbies doing Dallas and Kristins caressing Kerkira and, like, basically get it back to something I'd let my daughters behind the wheel of - would that make any difference?
  • Cliff and the Shads - Move It!

    (And they certainly do ...)

    I swear YouTube will be the death of me ... all my early heros within a click's distance.

    Cliff is now *Sir* Cliff and a devout Christian who puts his sunny hideaways at the disposal of senior pols, so he's long lost to us. But back in the early years, he was a baad boy and we weren't allowed to listen to him on the school radio. Those who brought back his records from the school hols had them instantly confiscated - he was like THE coolest and we'd meet in the gym and spin those 45rpms and maybe jive a bit with the prettiest juniors.

    "Move It" was the ultimate and coincided with me setting up a cosy little band of those whose parents had lavished expensive gear on us: me on my sunburst Hofner (complete with tremolo arm), Hayward on bass, Baum on rhythm ukelele (hey, you fight with what you got), and Smith III on drums, OK his dad's bongo and the top of a Kit-E-Kat tin as high hat.

    And Greensted on vocals. Ah, that Greensted - captain of rugger, best bowler on the cricket team, thug in the boxing ring.

    Normally he wouldn't bother to pee on our shadows (pun!) but our Sunday practice time in the geography classroom coincided with parents walking around with little Jimmy or littler Barry and, as often happened, *sister(s)* of the little Wotsits.

    He wanted to despise us; he *did* despise us - it really cost him - but in the end vanity won thru. There was no way he was going to pass up the chance of being seen in vocal action - nay, wiggly knee action - by those visiting chicks.

    Greensted was the school hunk and sisterly sighs would go up each Sunday when he walked down the aisle and took his place in chapel. Of course he would time it just right so everyone was in place to see him strut his thang.

    We weren't allowed long hair so we couldnt possibly emulate Cliff's amazing coiff - thought the height of sexiness at the time, of course - but Greeners somehow teased his regulation hair cut into a close approximation.

    But where he really scored was with the Cliff scowl - and the quivery leg. He also did a damn'd fine imitation of Cliff's wacky dance.

    Zounds, I don't know how I emerged hetero from that place with the likes of Greensted sashaying around. Nor do I know how I pulled off the lead guitar bits to sound so like Hank B Marvin. Years later when I was attracting sordid publicity as a high-flying book PR, I'd be phoned at the office by total wankers from those school days, people I never mixed with but now claimed blood brotherly kinship, and they'd invariably touch on the guitar stuff.

    "Do you still keep up the old strumming? Fuuuck you were great. You know, old boy, I was playing some of the oldies the other night and it struck me how amazingly good you were - shit, you really got the Hank B sound. God, you should have turned professional ..."

    And so forth.

    The video won't mean a thing to you but I get guilty goosebumps just watching it.
    Medieval Tech Support

    Just play it.

    God, I laughed.

    01 March 2007

    I like learning Greek more than you

    Just back from Class 1 of the next stage of my acquisition of Greek As She is Spoke.

    Two wonderful cartoons from today's lesson, supposedly illustrating shopping etiquette but also inviting apoplexy in the righteous - of which we have one in new pupil Barbara from somewhere in the north of England ("Mrs Varvara", as our teacher refers to her).

    Top right, a customer in a knick-knack shop asking of a set of worry beads, "Please, how much?"

    Note the eagerness with which the shopkeeper springs to serve, his body language epitomising customer service of an almost Amazonian zeal.

    Left, a tourista - clearly a fresh-faced lass from the north of England - advancing on a grizzled troubadour:

    "Kale - How do - ... how much for yon bouzouki?"

    ('Kale'! - a splendid, lower-class greeting that I have gleefully added to my vocab).

    I'm not sure what point the cartoonist is making, but muziki in the class agreed that we'd all had instances when some ignoramus had waddled up and offered actual monehh for our precious axes. Eheu!

    No, the real delight lies in the monumental incorrectitude of those cigs dangling from scoff-law Grecian lips.

    Mrs Varvara was going bananas and even stopped the class to explain to a bemused Tsoanna that,

    "Don't you see, luv ... it's not right to have them gentlemen smoking in a pooblic place 'n' all ... I mean don't you see,?"

    Meanwhile we're all giggling and hooting, much to Babs's pinch-faced annoyance.

    "Nay, seriously Joanna ... I could be a yoong lass thinking about taking oop smoking ... these pictures could tip my balance ... and you're showing it here in class, and you a teacher and all ..."

    Meanwhile, Welsh Ivor and Italian Lucca muttering about bring on the cartoons for tipping young gals into taking up summat else (nudge wink say no more, squire).

    May the Gods smile on a country that can dish up educational material like this sans blinking, except in puzzlement at the moans of the likes of Barbara.

    Loipon! March 1st. Kalo mina!

    "A good month!" as we wish each other at the start of each one.