Saturday, April 29, 2006

Show Me

Another small milestone is dutifully recorded on siteminder this morning:

Visit 10,000
Domain Name ? (Network)
IP Address 70.130.140.# (SBC Internet Services)
ISP SBC Internet Services
Location Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Missouri
City : Saint Louis
Lat/Long : 38.6385, -90.3026 (Map)

Visit 10,000! My little blog is growing up.

I suspect that, unlike for visit 5,000 a few weeks back, we can this time place a name to the visitor…

Time of Visit Apr 28 2006 1:44:34 pm
Last Page View Apr 28 2006 1:47:14 pm
Visit Length 2 minutes 40 seconds
Page Views 2
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Visit Exit Page
Out Click 7 comments
Visitor's Time Apr 28 2006 12:44:34 pm

Congratulations, Randall! Even if it wasn’t you personally, it was one of your loyal fans who has done me the honour of tipping my total into five figures. My long-standing soft spot for Missouri, first inspired by that fine state’s most noble son Harry S Truman, just got that much soggier.

The Missouri State Animal is the mule, the sterile mutant offspring of miscegenating quadrupeds. Not what you’d call an obvious choice, but on reflection a very practical one. Kudos to those staid Missourians for extolling function over form. Their reputation for practicality and hard work is well earnt.

The Missouri Alphabet book, yesterday. No prizes for guessing the entry under “M”…

Friday, April 28, 2006

“I have seen the future, and it herds goats”

More pearls of wisdom from Iran’s lovable new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On the UN’s demands for an end to Iran’s nuclear programme: "It is not like we just follow whatever they issue"

On the outside world’s consideration of sanctions: "I think even the two or three countries who oppose us are wise enough not to resort to such a big mistake. Those who are speaking of sanctions would suffer more harm."

On Israel: "We say that this fake regime cannot logically continue to live … Let the Jews go back to their own countries"

Mr Ahmadinejad did however take a brief break from issuing naked threats to world peace to sign a decree allowing women to attend soccer games for the first time in 27 years. This resolves a long-standing anomaly whereby the authorities were technically breaking the law every time they dragged some luckless female into their local stadium for public execution.

I dare say we should take this small step in the direction of equality in the spirit with which it is offered…

Iran, yesterday – where women are always guaranteed a good view of the pitch…

Thursday, April 27, 2006

NuLaFu™ update

Truly a ministry of all the talentless. "You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes. Not a flame flickers on a single pallid crest." Where's our Disraeli? God knows we need one now.

In other Colossal Labour Cockbiter news, “Lord” Kinnock has been given a six month ban for persistent speeding on the M4. Contrary to all common sense, he was apparently speeding towards Wales on each occasion, but despite this obvious cry for help the judge did not think to order psychiatric observation.

One interesting little nugget was that the car he was driving was an Audi registered to his wife. I believe Glenys works for the EU herself now that he’s finally been pried off the Brussels teat. I dare say that there’s some sort of blatant and shameless expenses scam involved there, not to mention diplomatic plates and tax exemption, I shouldn’t wonder. Or maybe he’s just a puffed-up arrogant little twat and serial failure who can’t be trusted with a car of his own. But I’d hate to live in a world where that could be true…

"The sentence is fair” the ginger rodent told grinning journalists outside the court, yesterday. “Speeding is a killer, after all.” We should be so lucky.

“Lord” Kinnock, yesterday. God, how that title makes me want to spit. It’s probably too much to hope for that the former EU Transport Commissioner will now have to take a bloody bus occasionally.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

NuLaFu™ – the new craze that’s sweeping the nation!

Forget Sudoku – join the millions of people enjoying the fun and excitement of NuLaFu™!

The rules are deceptively simple. Every morning, just log into any news site and try to select the most outrageous and indefensible New Labour Fuck-Up of the day. But you’ll have to be quick – there’s an almost inexhaustible supply in the pipeline, constrained only by the mathematical maximum number of possible combinations of Labour ministers, PFI-fattened crony donors, dim-bulb secretaries, parasitical client-state NHS managers and third-rate 24-year-old sociology graduates parachuted directly into 30k-a-year probation service jobs.

For instance, yesterday we had a choice of Patricia “best year ever” Hewitt and Tony Blair’s novel ”So I sold honours – so sue me” defence. But not twelve hours later, we’re already struggling to choose between Clarke and the 1000 Foreign Prisoners and Prescott’s affair in the flat he doesn’t pay Council Tax on. The action is simply non-stop!

So don’t be a wallflower – experience the joy of NuLaFu™ for yourself! Let us know your vote for today’s winner, before the next half-dozen come along…

A reminder of the current reigning champion NuLaFu, the Deadly Dodgy Dossier that Sold the Iraq War and Killed David Kelly. Will any of today’s entries top that? No.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Next up, the Ice Cream Bobby Sandswich

An American company hops flat-footed all over foreigners’ feelings once again with that charming combination of incredible ignorance and crass insensitivity for which they are justly famed. In this case, however, it is an impeccably Democratic bunch of sanctimonious sandal-wearing hippies who have come a cropper, as Ben & Jerry’s is forced to apologize for their Black and Tan ice cream.

Any American reading this will recognize the reference to a popular combination of stout and pale ale, downed in large quantities in Irish bars across the US. Anyone on the other side of the pond, however, will recognize the nickname of the infamous British militia used against the Irish in the early 1920s to try and suppress the republican revolt that led to independence in 1922.

How the guys who machine-gunned the crowds at Croke Park became a staple of Irish-American pub culture I don’t know, but I have had to warn fellow regulars at my local on several occasions under no circumstances to walk into a bar in Ireland and order a Black and Tan. They tend to file my patient explanations under “quaint local colour” rather than “how not to get my head kicked in”, but they’ve all returned in one piece so far, which is all I ask. After all, some of them owe me money.

Sadly, nobody thought to tell Ben & Jerry’s, perhaps because those insufferably right-on lefties badly need a good kicking. Next time they feel like lecturing the Republicans about foreign policy perhaps they’ll remember this one and keep schtum for a change.

Black and Tan as a drink, by the way, is not bad at all…

Some Black and Tans, yesterday. “Creamy and with a whirl of chocolate”. Yummy!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bad Hair Day

Fur flies in Parliament, as Cherie Blair’s hairdressing bill comes in for some hostile scrutiny. Is there nothing that the Blairs pay for themselves any more? Freebie holidays, royal jets, pension top-ups and second mortgage payments not enough for them? Next we’ll be buying Euan’s beers out of our taxes.

Particularly harsh is the comparison with the £65 spent by her Conservative opposite number. After all, Mrs Howard is a former model, whereas Cherie Blair looks like a hyperthyroid letter box.

To my mind, the expense is mystifying not so much for the amount as for where it was spent. Quite frankly, Cherie’s hair is the least of her problems…

£7,700 for that? Don’t worry, luv – tell us who did it and we’ll get ‘em for you.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Freedom on the march!

It's a big day for laughably dysfunctional Third-World war-zones, as both Iraq and New Orleans choose new leaders. As an added bonus, there's an outside chance that at least one of them won't be a hopeless incompetent who covers his constant cock-ups with despicable ethnic hate-mongering.

Probably too much to hope for New Orleans, tho'.

Mayor Ray "Chocolate" Nagin, yesterday - the man who introduced the phrase "Thank Allah for Louisiana" into Arabic.

Friday, April 21, 2006

No capes!

Ivan’s site of the week is Evil Inc. - a cartoon cross-breed of Dilbert and my own sweet Vertucon.

It’s not always that funny, you understand, but it’s worth it just for the exquisitely underdressed babes that populate the artist’s overheated imagination. This guy really needs to get laid more. Or indeed once.

More Evil Inc. laughs on Monday, when Lightning Lady spills a box of paperclips and has to bend over to pick them up. And then takes a shower with Orally Fixated Girl.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Robbing Hood

Matching its recent coronation as Britain’s capital of gun crime, Nottingham triumphs again as the city with the highest burglary rate in the country, according to a new study by Endsleigh Insurance. It’s hard not to conclude that the town’s long association with that famous medieval mugger Robin Hood has fatally weakened the distinction between meum et tuum in the minds of its feral inhabitants.

If only the shapely young ladies of Coventry were similarly inspired by the example of Lady Godiva. Now that’s what I call a role model.

Liverpool does not appear on the list at all, mostly because Endsleigh’s brave researchers were car-jacked, stripped to their underpants and left for dead within minutes of their arrival. Very few independent observers have ventured into the city in the last twenty years, but experts theorise that by now the entire population has regressed to a Morlock-like existence dwelling in caves, therefore falling outside the scope of current burglary legislation.

Are you from Nottingham? Or perhaps you’re just a bit dodgy anyway? How many burglaries have you committed?

Robin Hood yesterday. Hand over the cell phone, bitch, or I’ll cut you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shiny peace-lovers

Andy Warhol lives on, as two average college boys shoot to stardom by posting an embarrassingly naff lipsynch performance on the web. Stories like this are a dime a dozen, but what makes this one interesting is that these lads are in China.

It’s not often we get a look at the next generation of this wannabe superpower outside of those carefully controlled interactions with foreigners that the Party is prepared to tolerate, so there’s value just in its spontaneity. And reassuringly normal they are too. Gauche, spotty and a little dim, they are the very picture of average adolescent masculinity. They wear the same hideously overpriced polyester sportswear and stupid trainers, and listen to the same god-awful music. Get them on the subject of Taiwan or Tibet, and I dare say the urge to slap them might become overpowering, but then again, what teenager does not inspire that emotion pretty much hourly?

Watching them gurn and grimace in their crappy little dorm room in Guangzhou, one feels a little better about the future. They’re just as dumb as our kids and, even better, thanks to China’s one-child policy there’ll soon be surprisingly few of them. All that remains is to ship them Simon Cowell, and our joy will be complete.

Andy Warhol in Chinese, by the way, is Ai-Ning Wu-Huan, or “shiny peace-lover”. Even in Chinese, the man was a born hippy.

Boys just wanna have fu-un…

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cuckoos in the nest

More World Cup news, as we hear that Germany’s women are planning to desert to Switzerland en masse for the duration, leaving the boys to marinate in their beer and bratwurst in front of the TV. And who can blame them, for the Swiss Tourist Board has been cunningly wooing the weak-willed frauleins of the Fatherland with visions of the gorgeous hunks awaiting them across the border.

The message appears to be quite typically German in that it is both explicit and painfully unsubtle – “Let the boys play with their balls – you can come and play with ours!” Posters feature a selection of Alpine beefcake who have all absent-mindedly misplaced their shirts. There’s a certain narrative sense to that in the cases of the lumberjack and the farmhand, but frankly artistic justification is in short supply when it comes to the ferryman and the train conductor.

Paranoid as it may sound, one begins to suspect that they are deliberately objectifying these poor boys.

Women’s groups in Germany have been unusually slow to protest this insultingly demeaning approach, saying that they needed more time to study the posters and other publicity material, and did anyone have any more batteries? As for their Swiss sisters, they don’t go in much for lefty posturing, preferring instead to rely on their universal military training. Think Heidi with a machine gun. It should be an interesting summer.

Some Swiss hunks yesterday. If you think that’s impressive, wait ‘til you see how they fish the bread out of the fondue…

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is risen indeed!

This Easter, surprise and delight the one you love with a German Shepherd...

Apparently, the full title of the famous monastic from whom the current Pope took his name was St Benedict of Norcia. So now we know where Aunty M's ancestors came from. Must've been a tough place to stay celibate in - no wonder he hid out on mountain tops.

Here's wishing you all a very Happy Easter - ХРИСТОС ВОСКРЕСЕ!

The Pope Benedict XVI Fan Club Shop - a wide range of top quality merchandise to suit all tastes. Or none.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wrangler – that’s what’s going on…

Shock and disappointment reign among the Incarcerated-American community as Brokeback Mountain is ruled too hot for prison. Authorities feel that there is a danger of the film inciting undesirable behaviour among the population. Well, duh. God knows one doesn’t begrudge these unhappy souls a little porn, but they could at least make it hetero, if only to make showering marginally safer. It follows that Brokeback Mountain is a non-starter, likewise Lord of the Rings and anything with Meryl Streep in it.

What caught my eye was that it turns out that the heroes of this epic tale are not in fact cowboys, but “sheep wranglers” – ie, shepherds. Suddenly the whole premise becomes that much more comforting and familiar. Healthy masculinity emerges unscathed – this is just another story of shepherds doing what shepherds have always done when their charges are playing hard to get. I dare say they’d’ve filmed it in Wales if it ever stopped raining there.

In other news, Director Ang Lee finally reveals the inspiration behind the film’s name. “It’s broody obvious, innit?” he explained to puzzled reporters, “It’s about these two brokes…”

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mickey Mouse Clubbed

Still in Disneyworld, Florida. Conference hell continues.

The stairwells have become my only refuge, where, free from the crushing conformity of Disney and my conference confreres, I can sneak a cigarette and brush up my lousy Spanish with the costumed wretches trying to cool off between appearances.

Diego, the depressed Donald I met on my first day, has become something of a friend. Donald is not a popular character, so he gets a lot of free time and is almost always in the same ratty armchair on the third floor landing, reading a newspaper consisting mainly of anti-Castro diatribes. My kind of guy. I spot him a cigarette, he gives me a light, we laugh about the lard-assed locals and the boiled-lobster complexion of the English, and forget our troubles for a while.

The evening brings the reception paid for by conference vendors and sponsors. To make the event more ‘magical’, there is optional fancy dress, provided courtesy of Disney. Their uber-humourless “cast members” are on hand to ensure that propriety is observed. I ask them for giant mousetrap costume, so I can go tell everyone I’m looking for Mickey, and they instantly call security. Fortunately it never occurs to them to check the stairs, so I escape without incident. While I’m skulking on the landing, Diego offers me his Donald, but he’s about 5’ 3” and I think Donald has enough popularity problems as it is without adding indecent exposure.

So instead I sneak back into the reception in mufti and spend the evening getting drunk on free g&t, expressing eager interest in anything these chumps offer to sell me as long as they keep my glass full. Sadly for them I have the same degree of budgetary authority as a carpet mite, but it would be ill-mannered of me to spoil their evening by mentioning this.

Some of the other attendees have been equally indiscriminate in their embrace of the vendors’ hospitality. A rather buxom Minnie manages to fall simultaneously off of her chair and out of her costume and is helped to her room by suspiciously willing colleagues. A man in an unnecessarily tight-fitting Robin Hood costume is beginning to eye me hopefully, so I decide to take my last drink back to my room and finish it in safety.

This evening the little button on my palm turns red and I get to leave this god-forsaken hell-hole. I just hope the hangover has worn off by then.

Disney – something for everyone…

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Roman candles

Election results in Italy stimulate a long dark night of the soul for some local journalists, with commentary remarkable even for a culture so renowned for arm-waving operatics…

“An Italy split down the middle, cleaved into two indomitable and irreconcilable halves, politically, culturally and socially... The trap has sprung. And it's like the poisoned sting of a scorpion on the live flesh of a country that from today will perhaps be unable to have a new government... A perfect metaphor for this Italy...” - Massimo Giannini, La Repubblica

“Like the poisoned sting of a scorpion”? Well, I mean to say, steady on Massimo, there’s a good chap. It’s only Italy, after all. Life goes on…

An Italian yesterday. Famed for their equanimity, so they are.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Rosemary Galadriel Moonchild by any other name

Gwyneth Paltrow has had a baby boy, the BBC informs us breathlessly. Normally we wouldn’t concern ourselves with the mating and breeding rituals of obscenely rich and pampered celebs, for this is a high-brow blog, not like the sad, shallow scribblings of some others I could mention. But won’t. Apart from Aunty M and her Brad Pitt fixation.

But I am moved to make an exception in this case if only for the curious way in which the Beeb phrases the announcement. Gwyneth, you see gave birth to “a boy named Moses”. Well, how did they know his name was Moses? Did he pop out with it tattooed on his forehead? Or, strangely credible but no less disturbing, is there some sort of random name generator in a hardened bunker off Hollywood and Vine, churning out these slightly oddball monikers and assigning them willy-nilly to the blameless sprogs of actresses, rock stars, and short-arse Scientologists with brains the size of grapes? Perhaps it’s in the Academy’s bylaws as a condition of getting an Oscar nomination.

Whatever the origins of these names, they surely can’t be the result of any sort of choice on the part of the parents. I mean, I know Frank Zappa did a lot of drugs and all, but I don’t think there’s enough acid in the entire world to make Moon Unit seem like a good idea.

Exhibit A, yesterday. Perhaps she wants him to be a Rabbi?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mr Sandman, send me a dream…

I fly to Disneyworld, Florida. On business, not pleasure. The next few days will be an agonizing Chinese water torture of endless Powerpoint slides in a conference aimed at the rather abstruse discipline I ply on behalf of Vertucon.

I have left my wife and kids behind, losing my Sunday in the process, in order that I can be bored witless by nerds while surrounded by happy families on vacation. My morale takes just the tiniest dip.

In the chaotically busy lobby of the hotel costumed characters are everywhere, exuding manic cheerfulness and carefully shepherding everyone into the approved sterile environment of the tourist areas.

The conference is in the Contemporary Resort, DisneyWorld’s first and original hotel, built to be the 1950’s idea of 2000. The vaguely pyramidal main building gives one the creepy feeling of having wandered onto the set of Logan’s Run, only digitally remastered for fat sunburnt people in obnoxious shorts. The excitingly futuristic Disney Monorail actually goes through the hotel building. This is exactly as much less fun as it sounds.

Like Logan’s Run, everything is dated, making a mockery of the name. It’s also creaky and inefficient, aggravated by the monstrous complacency of the staff (or “cast members”, as they’re officially titled). The lifts, for example, take forever, so I go in search of stairs. This unAmerican activity takes me abruptly off the set, so to speak. No-one in America uses the stairs, and the grim concrete stairwells are the refuge of the desperate and the excluded. I walk down three flights, past two six-foot chipmunks squabbling over a garbage can, and a Donald slumped in a broken armchair smoking a cigarette.

They stare after me with their cold, dead eyes.

The Contemporary Resort, yesterday. If you had to live there for thirty years, you’d beg for a visit from the Sandmen too.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oxymorons anonymous

Out of the blue, our favourite child bride Sam throws down the gauntlet. Possibly inspired (or at least annoyed) by the recent post on outstanding Balts, she challenges me to name my selection for sexiest politician.

Well, it’s a tough choice, not because it’s a crowded field, but quite the opposite. Looking at the snivelling crew vying for our increasingly worthless votes nowadays, who amongst them could conceivably be considered attractive? A search with the keywords “sexy politician” throws up (and I use that verb advisedly) only one result, John Edwards, former junior Senator for North Carolina and failed Vice Presidential candidate. And frankly, he’s not my type. Bad enough he’s a guy, but he’s also a Democrat. No, no - I’d never forgive myself.

I’m not sure that it’s possible for a normal male to find any politicians sexually attractive. Leaving aside the fact that the vast majority of them are men, even with the presentable females one would too often be pissed off at the stupid ones and intimidated by the clever. One may object that Alan Clark found Thatcher attractive. But then again, he named his doberman after Eva Braun.

But fair’s fair – the question has been asked and it behoves me to come up with an answer, however strained. So, if I absolutely had to, and she was guaranteed drunk, ball-gagged or otherwise incapacitated to enable a swift exit, then I suppose I could do a lot worse than the once and future Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko.

Yulia Timoshenko, yesterday. Oh, all right then, but just as a favour to her, mind…

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It’s always tempting to impute / Unlikely virtues to the cute

Shock and dismay among the nation’s naturalists, today, as it turns out that meerkats – those sweet, anthropomorphized rascals of the savannah, are actually amoral, baby-eating bastards.

So attractive to look at, yet so unpleasant – who does that remind us of?

The election thief, the wire tapper and the night swimmer, yesterday. We dodged a bullet there, if you’ll pardon the expression…

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Long-overdue validation for a much-maligned lifestyle choice today, as scientists reluctantly admit that there is after all some point to left-handedness. At least among snails.

For many years I have borne the bitter yoke of dextrous persecution. My hand was slapped in primary school. I was called names. Scissors and even boomerangs mocked me. But scientists from Yale and Cornell now offer consolation in the form of a recent study of sea snails. They demonstrate that having a “left-handed” shell (one that curves in the opposite direction from the majority, which spiral to the right), offers protection from crab predators, whose claws were on the wrong side to use their preferred method of opening them up and eating them.

Admittedly this appears at first glance to be of little immediate relevance to humans, but maybe the predator-prey analogy is not so far from the mark. Informed speculation on their part points to conflict and battle – and to the potential advantage a leftie would have against a foe unused to dealing with our freakish kind.

In a spirit of objective scientific enquiry, I immediately put this theory to the test by going to the pub and twatting someone over the head with a bar stool. Sure enough, the subject proved quite incapable of resisting my cack-handed assault. The barman did raise some trivial objections on the grounds that I hadn’t warned the poor woman of my intentions, and that she was in any case already drunk, but it just goes to show his poor grasp of scientific method. Frankly one can expect no better from a man with no education to speak of.

He was on firmer ground re the pub’s iron-clad five-drink minimum policy before clubbing anyone unconscious, so I had to waste another quarter hour downing the necessary beers before I could go record my results.

The path of progress is ever strewn with such petty obstacles. If Socrates had lived in North Carolina, he’d have stuck to masonry…

A leftie, yesterday. They walk among us…

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ivan’s Baltic Man of the Month™

Hats off to my March Man of the Month, Lennart Meri, who died on March 14th aged 76. Diplomat, politician, polymath and pisshead.

As President of newly-independent Estonia, Lennart secured the final withdrawal of all Russian troops from his homeland in 1994 by the simple expedient of drinking Boris Yeltsin under the table in the Kremlin. That would make quite a monument in downtown Tallin. Mr Meri, we salute you - ave atque vale…

Lennart Meri is a worthy successor to Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas, former President of Lithuania. Mr Brazauskas owed his title mostly to being worth over 1300 points in Scrabble.

Who’s your favourite Baltic leader?

Lennart Meri, yesterday. We shall not see his like again.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Everything But The Girl

Exciting news for harassed husbands as the new lingerie store concept of Retail Design student Wendy Rameckers is unveiled in Amsterdam. She presents her brainwave at the Shop NL! trade fair together with 5 other students of the Retail & Interior Design Course.

And what an unveiling it is, for her big idea is basically a wall of breasts. "Most men have a selective memory," she explains. "They know all about their car, but never seem to know their wife's bra size. "When trying to buy a sexy bra for their wife or girlfriend, usually they point to other women in the shop or, when asked about size, they say 'een handje vol' (a handful). It’s hopeless."

“But now, with this wall of fake breasts, male shoppers will find things much easier. The wall consists of rows of silicon breasts in all sizes, from tiny to enormous, with a very natural look and feel. All the man has to do is walk along the rows, looking at and touching the breasts until he finds the size he recognizes. What could be easier?”

When the right size is found, the flushed yet happy customer can select a matching bra in long aisles with clear signage, based on the design of aisles in car parts stores.

Sadly key questions are left unanswered. Will there be absorbent flooring for the puddles of drool? Will sticking your head between the ersatz wobblies and going numnumnumnumnum be a valid method of comparison? Is the wall specially reinforced for Aunty M-style “supernork” sizes? Most grievous omission of all, there is no word on how much it would cost just to buy the wall, which may very well be considerably cheaper than the lingerie.

If I had one of those walls, there’s a very real danger that I’d never leave the house. Good thing I’m more of a bum man, myself…

Some breasts yesterday. Who needs bras, after all?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Jumping Jews of Jerusalem

A recent post speculated that Jews might be deficient in sense of balance. Well, we’re big-hearted folk here in the Carolinas, and we don’t mind admitting it when we prove the French wrong…

On behalf of the Tour de France, we offer a heartfelt apology to Red Sea Pedestrians everywhere.