Thursday, 30 November 2006

Pic of the day?

well , yes, can't argue with that!

Talking Candy Bar Blues

by: Paul Stookey

Bought me a candy bar the other day
Only ate half, was gonna throw the rest away
When I saw this kid playing in the street
I said "Hey kid, you want something to eat?" He said "What?"

I said "candy, son." He said "help!"
And then he started to run.
I stood there watching him go
Half a bar of chocolate running down my fingers.

Well the kid comes back in a minute or two
But his mom's with him and the neighbors too.
And they got the kid scared it's plain to see.
They say "Which one did it?" - He points at me.

I say "What do you mean?"
He says "You" and then starts to scream.
And I'm standin' and everybody's staring at me.
"Howdy-do-dee you all waiting for the bus? Uh, a little late isn't it?
Anbody got a watch? You could see just how late it is.
I got a better idea. Let's find somebody with a watch and stare at him."

Well, some start picking up baseball bats,
And some start pulling pins from their hats.
I think this thing's gone a little too far,
Hell, I only offered him a candy bar.
I say "What are you doin'?" They say "Pervert - the kid's life's ruined."
"Oh, well, then, you better check what he's chewin'
Cuz I've got the feelin' he's right in the middle of a bubblegum orgy."

Well, they're comin' at me and I'm backin' away
And I hear this policeman say "Are you positive he's the right man?"
I quickly flip the candy bar out of my hand
and he says "Show me." I says "Show you what?"
He says "The candy bar, you degenerate."
And he grabs me and he grabs both my hands.
Pretty easy to see which hands got the chocolate.

Well, I've had some troubled times before
But none like the trip from the candy store.
Oh, I sympathize with the kid all right.
Somebody's nice to you - it probably ain't right.

I'll grow up - I'll learn the way.
I'll learn so that my later days
will be prosperous
Chocolate covered
- If I don't bite off more than I can hide.

Another song from the 60's that is probably more pertinent today than it was then.
'When will we ever learn, When will we ever learn?'

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... ain't she sweet

Illustration by Marjorie Torre Bevans
Good Housekeeping, Christmas 1914.

... strange sounds in the ether!

Well actually it was Pink Floyd with everything from UFO's, cash registers, alarm clocks to a woman screaming in ecstasy. What a start to the morning - thank heavens for Dark Side of the Moon - it's true what they say though - 'music soothes the savage beast' - I was 'fit to be tied' because once again our bus didn't show up. Now I know it's not earth shattering and there are worse things happening in the world but when you are standing at the bus stop freezing your goolies off you really are not thinking about things on a higher plain. So if it wasn't for me wee mini-disc player and Pink Floyd I think I would have gone to town on the talking advert with a vengeance (it could still happen - watch this space).

Talking Vietnam Pot-Luck Blues

by: Tom Paxton
Well when I landed in Vietnam
I hardly got to see Saigon
They shaped us up and called the roll
and off we went on a long patrol
Swappin' lies, swattin' flies,
firing the odd shot here and there

Captain called a halt that night
And we had chow by the pale moon light
A lovely dinner they planned for us
With a taste like a seat on the crosstown bus
Some of the veterans just left theirs layin' in the can
For the VietCong to find
Said it was deadlier than a land mine

Well naturally somebody told a joke
and a couple of fellows began to smoke
I took a whiff as a cloud rolled by
And my nose went up like an infield fly
the Captain, this blonde fellow, from Yale
looked up at me and said "What's a matter with you, baby"

Well I may be crazy, but I think not;
I swear to God that I smell pot!
but who'd have pot in Vietnam?
"he said, "Whaddaya think you been sittin' on?"
these funny little plants....thousands of them.
good God Almighty!
pastures of plenty!

So we all lit up and by and by
The whole platoon was flying high
With a beautiful smile on the captains face
He smelled like midnight on St. Marks Pl.
Crackin' jokes, cleaning his weapon,
chanting something about Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna

Well the moment came as it comes to all
That I had to answer nature's call
I was stumbing around in a beautiful haze
When I met a little cat in black pj's
rifle, ammo belt, BF Goodrich sandals,
He looked up at me and said "What's the matter with you, baby"

He said we're camping down the pass
And smelled you people blowing grass
And since, by the smell, you're smoking trash
I brought you a taste of a special stash
Straight from Uncle Ho's victory garden
We call it Hanoi Gold.

So his squad and my squad settled down
Passed some lovely stuff around
All too soon it was time to go
Captain got on the radio
Said hello headquarters,
We have met the enemy and they have been smashed.

You have just got to hear this performed by Tom Paxton - so find an mp3 or (heaven forbid) buy the cd - it really adds to the humour to hear Tom singing it as if he is up with the fairies.

Watch it here:-

Twenty years to recreate Bayeux Tapestry

A woman has spent 20 years recreating the Bayeux Tapestry.

Annette Banks' 5ft-long and 23in wide embroidery depicts the Norman invasion of England in 1066.

Annette, of East Finchley, North London, hopes to put the tapestry on display in a museum in the UK.

She said: "I went to Normandy in France to see the original 230ft-long tapestry and displayed mine there. The real thing made me want to make mine longer, so I made up my own ending, adding 5ft."

Now correct my maths if I'm wrong but she added 5ft to something that ended up 5ft long - so that means it was zero inches long in the first place? Well that's a surefire way to make something longer!! But why would a museum want to display an inferior imitation of the real thing?

UPDATE: apparently it's 51 ft long - read more here:

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

La Galette des Moulins

Patisserie in Monmartre


Tomme is a generic name given to a class of cheese produced mainly in the French alps. Tommes are normally produced from the skimmed milk, left over after the cream has been removed to produce butter and richer cheeses, or when there is too little milk to produce a full cheese. As a result, they are generally low in fat.

There are many varieties of Tommes, which are usually identified by their place of origin. The most famous of these is Tomme de Savoie. Other Tommes include Tomme Boudane, Tomme au Fenouil and Tomme du Revard.

Tomme is traditionally used to make aligot, an Auvergnat dish combining the melted cheese and mashed potatoes.

Aligot is a dish traditionally made in the Auvergne region of France made of melted Tomme cheese blended into mashed potatoes, often with some garlic. Other cheeses - usually not fully ripe - can be substituted for Tomme cheese. The dish is ready when it develops a smooth, elastic texture.

This dish was originally made from bread by monks who prepared it for the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, but potatoes were substituted after their introduction to France, because they allowed a more desirable consistency.

Danish web site here: with information on French cheeses (including which wine to drink with them) [in French, Danish or English]

Woman's MySpace revenge

A woman got revenge on her cheating boyfriend by hijacking his MySpace page.

Sam Deakin found out Matt East, 25, was having an affair with one woman and trying to date another 20. So she changed the welcome note on his page to say: "I'm a pathological liar. I cheat regularly."

She then mimicked the Mastercard TV commercial.

She wrote: "Dinner in a posh restaurant...$100. Night in a top hotel...$200. Finding out your boyfriend is a lying scumbag and changing his MySpace page so everyone can see...PRICELESS."

She changed his password so he couldn't hack in and alter what she had done.

The site received more than 250,000 hits in five days with women slagging off Matt as a "total loser". Mum-of-two Sam, a website designer from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: "I wanted to show him up for who he is."

Sam revealed he asked one girl: "You, me, handcuffs, whipped-cream. How about it?"

The site has been closed by MySpace. (Killjoys!)

Matt, of Bournemouth, said: "I admit I cheated. I'm just a man."
(rough translation - I'm an idiot)

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Paris skyscraper to rival Eiffel

The city of Paris has chosen an American architect to build the capital's tallest new building since the Eiffel Tower in the 19th Century.

The new curving skyscraper will be the centrepiece of a redevelopment project in the north west of Paris.


... and I thought the new apartment block in Belfast was ugly )c:=

'Pregnant' man fined in SA court

A South African man has been fined $140 for taking a week off work, telling his employers he was pregnant.

Charles Sibindana, 27, stole a certificate from a clinic during his pregnant girlfriend's checkup, a court near Johannesburg heard.

He then added his own details to the note and submitted it and took seven days off work, seemingly unaware that only women consult gynaecologists.

His employers became suspicious and investigated the matter.

On passing sentence Magistrate Bruno Van Eeden warned Mr Sibindana "not to walk around faking sick letters from gynaecologists" as if he was pregnant, the South African Press Association news agency reported.

I would have said what a D!©K but ..........

Je t'aime

It is hard to believe but there are some people who have never heard of 'je t'aime, (moi non plus)' - where have they been hiding?

Famously banned by Radio 1 because of its heavy breathing and saucy lyrics. This No.1 hit for French bad boy and bon viveur Serge Gainsbourg was originally recorded with Brigitte Bardot in 1967.

However, the single was not released, at Bardot's request, so sultry Serge re-recorded it with British girlfriend, Jane Birkin.

It has since appeared everywhere from hardcore pornography to dodgy discos and adverts for lager.

Click on the pic for a short video excerpt with comments from 60's celebs Rita Tushingham, Helen Shapiro and does anybody know who the Frenchman is?

Clicking on the banner above will take you to BBC's 'I love 1969' page where you can hear clips of the 60's no. 1's by clicking on the Jukebox link. Some good stuff and some pretty dire stuff.

Opera Singer's shock over sex toy request

Operatic boy band Il Divo star Sebastien Izambard says a female fan asked him to sign her vibrator.

Is he sure she didn't ask can he sing vibrato ? (c:=

The 32-year-old French singer admits he was staggered when the fan asked him to autograph the sex toy.

He said: "She said she gets frisky every time she sees my face. I was naive and didn't realise what it was until it started buzzing. I couldn't believe it. I didn't sign it."

Well, he's no fun .........

Trevi coins to fund food for poor

The thousands of coins thrown into Rome's Trevi fountain are to be used by an Italian charity to set up a supermarket for the city's poor.

Tradition holds that visitors can assure their return by tossing a coin over their shoulders into the water.

The estimated 3,000 euros ($4,000, £2,000) which splash daily into the Trevi are collected each night.

Charity Caritas says it plans to set up a supermarket offering essential items free of charge to Rome's needy.

Families will be given a top-up card by their local councils which they can swap for basic food items at the supermarket in central Rome.

Goodbye - Pop Picker.

Veteran DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman, whose "Not 'arf" catchphrase made him a household name, has died aged 79.

The former BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 presenter had been living in a nursing home in London since 2000 after being diagnosed with arthritis.

Freeman joined the BBC in 1960 after a spell working in his native Australia.


UDA distances itself from Stone

... and who can blame them?

The Ulster Defence Association has denied having any prior knowledge about Michael Stone's attack at Stormont.

The loyalist paramilitary group refuted claims that it sent out teams to intercept or shoot Stone before the security alert on Friday.


oh if you missed it - The Sun has a story on the frontpage that 'Nohair' Adair is willing to be the peacemaker here - I must say that caused more than a few hearty laughs at the bus stop this morning.

Sitting straight 'bad for backs'

Sitting up straight is not the best position for office workers, a study has suggested.

Scottish and Canadian researchers used a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show it places an unnecessary strain on your back.

They told the Radiological Society of North America that the best position in which to sit at your desk is leaning slightly back, at about 135 degrees.


Monday, 27 November 2006

The Beijing Observer

The Beijing Observer
Wuhou temple, Chengdu (home of Zhuge Liang, Tang Dynasty Minister of War)

Summer Palace, Beijing: Seventeen Arch Bridge

If you have ever seen the film 'The Last Emperor' then a lot of the photos here will be familiar to you but there are some that show Beijing and The Forbidden City from a different perspective. If you have never seen the film 'The Last Emperor' - WHY NOT?

Hommage à Philippe Noiret

Gratuitous Cleavage

Kate Winslet's body has been revealed as the inspiration for Jaguar's new sportscar.
Winslet, 31, revealed she was in the mind of Jaguar's chief designer Ian Callum when he created the new Jaguar XK.

Yes, I can see definite similarities!
(in a pig's eye)

Anti-Santa campaign

Santa Claus is being banned from Christmas markets in Germany and Austria.
Anti-Santa campaigners claim Father Christmas was invented by Coca-Cola and detracts from the true spirit of the festive season.

Austria's biggest Christmas market is in front of the Vienna city hall where thousands of visitors march past stalls offering everything related to Xmas - except Santa.
The only Santa to be seen is the one in the middle of the occasional 'Ban Santa' stickers.
A Vienna city hall spokesman confirmed: "There are rules governing what stallholders can do and one of them is to agree not to use the image of santa as a condition of being able to trade there.

"Santa is an English language creation, people who want to see him should go to America where I am sure Coca Cola will be happy to oblige."
The move in Vienna has been followed by Christmas markets across Austria and Germany where St Nicholas is the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts.

Bettina Schade, from the Frankfurter Nicholas Initiative in Germany, said: "We object to the material things, the hectic rush to buy gifts, and the ubiquity of the bearded man in the red suit that are taking away from the core meaning of Christmas."

So do I, So do I!

La légende du couvent de Gémenos

C'est à cause de la fureur divine que l'ancien couvent de Saint-Pons à Gémenos fut détruit : un soir de Noël, des jeunes hommes s'en allèrent frapper à la porte du couvent et les nonnes commirent l'imprudence de leur ouvrir...Le démon s'en mêla et une orgie épouvantable s'ensuivit.A minuit, Dieu, n'y tenant plus, fit éclater au-dessus de ce lieu maudit un orage si violent que la foudre détruisit le couvent et fit périr nonnes et jeunes gens.

Worker gets saucy with waxworks

A night worker at Madame Tussauds faces losing his job after posing for photos groping star waxworks.
In one of the pictures Bryan Boniface is shown pulling down Kylie Minogue's hotpants and kissing her bum. Well you would, wouldn't you!
In others, he is seen beating up Sven Goran Eriksson, throttling London mayor Ken Livingstone and grabbing disabled Professor Stephen Hawking.
Bryan's ex Sofia Oliveira leaked the shots when their 11-year romance ended.
Bryan, of London, said: "I'm in hot water."
A spokesperson for the museum said: "We do not encourage this."

photoblog jean boccacino

photoblog jean boccacino


Sunday, 26 November 2006


Finally found out why my mate Bob wanted to go to the Maldives for his holidays - obviously it was for the scuba diving. You can see more photos here:

LABOUR FUNDS ROW:The story Cherie bumped off the news

First Post:
Several hundred journalists attend Labour Party annual conferences. So where were they all at 5pm on the first day of this year's conference?

It was at that time that delegates agreed all Labour councillors must pay a levy from their allowances towards party funds. Only today has the matter come to light, following the resignation of a Sunderland councillor.

He has asked police to investigate whether the compulsory levy - which Labour advises council groups to get deducted at source - breaches laws on party donations.

Salvation Army

Two very effective ads - this time for the Salvation Army.

Michael Stone - hunted by UDA

UDA hit squads sent to hunt Stone

Saturday, 25 November 2006


Mount Fuji, Japan, with unusual cloud formation.

The financial war on terrorism

Treasury Dept. Misses Deadline to Release Iranian Frozen Assets to Victims of Terrorism
January 27, 2003

Washington, DC] – The Treasury Department has missed the legal deadline for releasing the frozen assets of Iran to the families of the victims of terrorism, Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) confirmed today.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary-designate John Snow, Fossella said the Department has not offered an explanation why it missed the Sunday, January 26, 2003 deadline to make the frozen assets available. Roughly 30 families who have won court judgements against the Iranian government for sponsoring terrorist acts that killed their loved ones would qualify for the assets.

Call me an old cynic but does it look to you as if there was a deliberate delay here so that the money actually remains with the Treasury Department?

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which Congress passed in 2002, allows people who have received judgments against a terrorist organization to receive damages out of any frozen assets of the organization or groups that support it.

I have yet to read a report of any of these assets being handed over to victims of terrorism.

An article in The Guardian of
Thursday November 8, 2001-The financial war on terrorism

On 8th November 2001 HM Treasury released a press statement stating :

Chancellor Gordon Brown also announced that a further £7 million of suspected terrorist assets had been frozen in the UK in the last week. The total amount of assets frozen in the UK now stands at £70 million in 38 accounts.

On 13 February 2006 HM Treasury released a press statement stating :

In a speech on national security to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Gordon Brown said:

“We need not only to deny a safe haven to terrorists, but ensure there is no hiding place for those who finance terrorism. Since 2001 we have frozen assets of terrorists of nearly £80 million - including for over 100 organisations with links to Al Qaeda. Today I am announcing new measures to prevent terrorist financing, identify suspicious transactions, and disrupt terrorist activity.”

SO - in 2001 assets seized amounted to £70 million but by 2006 this figure had only increased to £80 million.

The Washington Post
By Bill Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 22, 2000; Page A01

The federal lawsuits against Iran, Cuba and Libya were filed under a 1996 law that permitted U.S. citizens who are victims of terrorist acts abroad to sue foreign countries for civil damages in U.S. courts if those countries have been classified by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism.

Iran, Cuba and Libya have been on that list for years, along with Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The United States holds $2.7 billion in frozen assets belonging to those countries.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 14, 2003; Page A01

U.S. officials said that about $138 million in terrorist assets have been frozen since the attacks, and that some steps have been taken to clamp down on charities and other known terrorist funding mechanisms.

The U.N. report said $75 million of the $138 million in frozen assets claimed by the United States belonged to al Qaeda or the Taliban. The Taliban money, which was a "substantial" portion, has been turned over to the new Afghan government.

On 1 September 2005 Eu reported:

the US courts have confirmed that the Palestinian Authority has vast and diverse resources. As the Boston Globe recorded, the Bank of New York is the hub for money transfers to Palestinian missions in Ukraine, Guinea, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Ivory Coast, China, Bulgaria, Norway, Pakistan, and Colombia. The frozen assets in the USA alone are estimated at US$1.3 billion.

However on 30 January 2006 USA reports:

In the 16 weeks after the 9/11 attacks, 157 suspected terrorism fundraisers were identified and assets valued at $68 million were frozen. The numbers fell after the initial rush by authorities. However, Gurule says the totals for 2005 — $4.9 million frozen in the accounts of 32 suspects or organizations — suggest the effort is losing intensity because of a lack of help from foreign governments and an uneven commitment by the U.S. government to monitor suspicious transactions at financial institutions in the USA and abroad.

Why the discrepancy in figures? Where is this money going to? I have seen reports of families being awarded millions from frozen assets but as yet I have not found a report of them having actually received any money.

Michael Stone: the truth behind the Stormont attack?

Wednesday, July 04, 2001 :

Loyalist killer Michael Stone was today preparing for the first public showing of his art, featuring work valued at up to £25,000.

Thousands of people were expected to visit the exhibition of 25 paintings and sculptures which opens tomorrow in loyalist east Belfast. (link:)

The above excerpt was taken from and it may have no bearing whatsoever on the previous post but there are many in Belfast who jokingly suggest that the reason for Michael Stone's attack on Stormont was not for any political gain but a purely monetary one. It has been suggested by some cynics that in the wake of this incident the price of his artwork will increase. It has also been suggested that there is another book in the pipe-line and he needs the publicity. Whatever the reason I think it is despicable that a man such as this is allowed to profit from his criminal activities - if he had not been a convicted killer, if he had not been a terrorist his so-called artwork would never have seen the light of day. In my opinion this man's assets should be frozen and used to compensate the families of his victims. The British and American governments are freezing assets of 'terrorist organisations' - why are they not doing the same with people like this?

Friday, 24 November 2006

The Stormont Pantomime.

It is one month to Christmas today and the pantomime season is in full swing so I suppose it's only fair if Michael Stone felt that those people up in Stormont should not be forgotten nor left out of the festive frolics. For a pantomime is what ensued today. Michael Stone (a known and convicted killer) was able to pass one of three security check points at the main entrances to the Stormont Estate, unchallenged, bag unchecked and presumably unrecognised. He was then able to stroll up to Stormont Building, carrying his sports bag containing weapons of destruction: a gun, a knife and, what the police have described as, a viable device (lord only knows what that means). He was then able to spray a slogan on the walls of Stormont itself and still go unchallenged. It wasn't, in fact, until he entered the building and threw the sports holdall at the security people at the same time shouting that it contained a bomb (or words to that effect) that somebody decided it was time to take some action.

If you have seen the BBC coverage of what happened next then you will surely have to agree that pandemonium broke out. While security personnel were grappling with Mr Stone eventually other personnel thought that it was time to clear the building and politely asked the camera-men to please stop filming and leave (yes they did say please). Of course the gathered throng of press and camera crews were not going to miss the opportunity to capture as much of the action on film as possible so that we have shots of camera tri-pods and bags strewn across the main hall. If they had seriously been trying to evacuate anybody here then they would have had no chance of getting to an exit safely. We also see the security personnel grappling with Stone and the photographers milling around the action all within a few feet of this viable device. This man, the security personnel and anybody in the immediate vicinity should have been removed to a safe distance but they remained there until the police arrived.

The latest report from the BBC says:

Between six and eight devices have been defused at Stormont after loyalist Michael Stone stormed the building, Sir Hugh Orde has said.

The Northern Ireland police chief said "their potential for death, destruction and injury is being assessed" but added they were "fairly amateurish". That's comforting (c:

Questions must be surely asked as to how and why a known killer was able to pass through security checks and go unchallenged, questions must also be asked as to why there was no police presence round Stormont Building during an extremely important political debate. I know that security has been relaxed around local politicians due to the on-going peace process here but that does not mean that the possibility of something like this happening should have ever been ignored. Unless of course somebody wanted this to happen!

The link for the video above may not be working properly so go here: and look for Michael Stone tries to enter Stormont.

... and a frightening follow-up story

UDA hit squads sent to hunt Stone

Police search for radio-active material.

Police probing the death of the Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko have called in experts to search for radioactive material, the Home Office has said.

Mr Litvinenko's death, in a London hospital on Thursday, is believed to be linked to the presence of a radioactive substance in his body, it said.

The Metropolitan Police are said to be looking for any residual material at a number of locations.

One word pops instantly to mind - S*!T

The Roadmap to Devolution

If anybody wants to know what is happening on the political scene in Northern Ireland there is a semi-humorous/serious video here BBC: which will give you a bit of a look at what is going on (with some local humour thrown in) but don't expect to be any better informed at the end of it.

There seems to be a problem linking to these BBC videos - go to the main BBC Northern Ireland page and look for this - Taxi for Purdy - time to test the devolution map

Jazz Great Anita O'Day Dies At 87

Nothing but bad news today, it seems.

Anita O'Day, whose sassy renditions of "Honeysuckle Rose," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and other song standards that made her one of the most respected jazz vocalists of the 1940s and '50s, has died. She was 87. O'Day died in her sleep early Thursday morning at a convalescent hospital in Los Angeles where she was recovering from a bout with pneumonia, said her manager Robbie Cavolina.

Anybody who has ever seen the film 'Jazz on a Summer's Day' will know just what an amazing performer she was.

Obituary: Philippe Noiret

French film star Philippe Noiret, one of the most popular and prolific actors of his generation, has died at the age of 76.

Noiret, who made more than 125 films in a career spanning over half a century, died after battling cancer. Famed for his flexibility, he was able to play roles as diverse as haughty aristocrats and middle-class men.

Among his most famous films was Cinema Paradiso, in which he played a village projectionist.
Other memorable roles included the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Il Postino (The Postman) and a middle-aged glutton in La Grande Bouffe (Blow Out).

Noiret moved from the stage to the screen, helping to shape the French cinema of the 1960s.
His portrayal of an unhappy uncle in Zazie dans le Metro (Zazie on the Metro) made his name.


This news really brought me down to earth with a bump. I have enjoyed watching his films but unfortunately we don't get enough of them here. He had a great talent for comedy roles as well as serious parts. The film La Vie et rien d'autre, (Life and Nothing But), for which he received a César and is not mentioned above, must be a classic ( he also had a bit part in Gigi).

The Friday Play List

This morning, driving to work, I was listening to Early Music composed by Jacob Obrecht entitled Missa Caput : Salve Regina. As some of you know and others may have surmised I am by no means a religious person but music of this calibre does convince me of the existence of a higher intelligence. The higher intelligence in this case being Jacob Obrecht who was an extraordinarily gifted composer. Born 1457/8 in Ghent (in what is now Belgium) he (and here I am quoting from the sleeve notes) will always be seen to have a special position among the composers who changed the musical world in late fifteenth-century Europe.

He is distinguished from his contemporaries for the serenity of his musical vision, his unmatched ear for sonority and, not least, the astonishingly affective range of his writing which encompasses the playful, the jubilant and the rapturous. Obrecht's music is more than a window into late-medieval society: it has the power to move, inspire and console us, even today.

I have to agree with Rob C. Wegman (who wrote the liner notes) because it certainly had a calming influence on me, driving through the hectic rush hour traffic of early morning Belfast.

For those of you who may want to purchase a copy it can be found on the NAXOS label reference no. 8.553210.

First Scrooge Story of the Year

Council bans Xmas
A council has told staff not to put up Christmas decorations in the office - in case they get hurt.

Festive lights have also been banned because they are too costly to run.

Staff at Tower Hamlets council in East London said they were stunned when they were issued with the order.

One worker said: "We only wanted to get into the spirit and brighten the place up. It feels more like the Eastern Bloc than the East End round here now - except slightly less cheery."

A council spokeswoman defended the move, she said: "There's a concern people might hurt themselves trying to attach hanging decorations from the ceiling.

"Christmas lights use a relatively small amount of electricity but every effort counts in reducing energy waste."

I'm with the council on this - just think how less stressed our lives would be if we didn't observe this silly tradition every year (c:=

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Marilyn Merlot

ou are in my blood like holy wine

and you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you

And I would still be on my feet

Joni Mitchell

Uncle Lubin

First published in 1902, W Heath Robinson’s masterpiece tells the story of the kind, guileless Uncle Lubin,

who must rescue his nephew Peter from the wicked Bagbird.
His whimsical adventures take him from the moon

to the bottom of the sea.

William Heath Robinson (May 31, 1872–September 13, 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator, who signed himself W. Heath Robinson.

Born into a family of artists in Islington, London, his early career was as a book illustrator, for example in Hans Christian Andersen's Danish Fairy Tales and Legends (1897); The Arabian Nights, (1899); Tales From Shakespeare (1902), and Twelfth Night (1908), Andersen's Fairy Tales (1913), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1914), Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies (1915), and Walter de la Mare's Peacock Pie (1916).

In the course of this however, he wrote and illustrated two children's books, The Adventures of Uncle Lubin (1902), and Bill the Minder (1912); these are regarded as the start of his career in the depiction of unlikely machines. During World War I he drew large numbers of cartoons, collected as Some "Frightful" War Pictures (1915), Hunlikely! (1916), and Flypapers (1919), depicting ever-more-unlikely secret weapons being used by the combatants.

Besides these, he produced a steady stream of humorous drawings, for magazines and advertisements. In 1934, he published a collection of his favourites as Absurdities, such as

  • "The Wart Chair. A simple apparatus for removing a wart from the top of the head"
  • "Resuscitating stale railway scones for redistribution at the station buffets"
  • "The multimovement Tabby Silencer", which automatically threw water at serenading cats

Most of his cartoons have since been reprinted many times in multiple collections.

Sylvie Guillem

Evidentia (Evidence)

Loreena Mckennitt - video

My friend MLL has posted a link to the new Loreena McKennitt cd with 2 mp3 clips which prompted me to pay a visit to Loreena's Quinlan Road web site where I found the following video. If you haven't heard this woman sing then watch the video - I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised. I think her album 'The Visit' is one of the best folk albums ever.
There are loads of music and video clips on the web site - indulge yourself (c:

'Caravanserai' live at the Alhambra: exclusive video

Quinlan Road presents the worldwide debut of live video footage of "Caravanserai", the first single from An Ancient Muse. Loreena McKennitt and her fellow musicians are captured performing the song in
the breathtaking environment of the Carlos V Rotunda at the
historic Alhambra monument in Granada, Spain in September 2006.

The streaming video footage of "Caravanserai" offers viewers an advance taste of the forthcoming television concert special Loreena McKennitt: Nights from the Alhambra, which is slated for broadcast in early 2007 in the United States via PBS Television’s Great Performances series.

View "Caravanserai" live video footage

Photo credits: Donna Griffiths (top), Richard Houghton (bottom)
Copyright Quinlan Road

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

fr : Tympan d'une église (Aups, Var) avec la devise de l'état français datant de 1905 apposée pour signifier que l'église appartient à l'Etat

en : Tympanum of a church (Aups, Var department). The Republican devise "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" was put on it in 1905 (following the French law on the separation of the state and the church) to show that this church was owned by the state. Such inscriptions are very rare, and this one was restored in 1989 during the bicentennary of the French Revolution.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Poor People on London Bridge

Gustave Doré, Poor People on the London Bridge, 1872.

This is a picture that makes a strong impact - Gustave Doré has really captured the plight and pathos of these people. Strange to think that after 100 years they still have not resolved the problem of the poor and the homeless.

Young migratory mother.

Dorothea Lange - "Young migratory mother, originally from Texas"
Edison, Kern County, California,
April 11,1940.

I had to get my camera to register things
that were more important than how poor they were
-- their pride, their strength, their spirit."

I know I posted a couple of photos of migrant families from the American 'dust bowl' a few months ago but I don't think this was one of them. Don't you agree that she is more beautiful than those 'beautiful creatures' that you see on the fashion catwalks of Paris and Rome?

Atheists Go Knocking on Doors in Salt Lake City

After being woken up one too many times by mormons knocking on his door, this guy travels to Salt Lake City to return the favour by attempting to spread atheism. LINK:

Oh yes, revenge is sweet!

Why She Did It

Judith Regan is a giant in the cut-throat world of publishing,
a hard-nosed editor with an unflinching instinct for a bestseller.
So how could she get it so wrong with the OJ Simpson book -
or her audacious attempt at an excuse?

Ed Pilkington reports Wednesday November 22, 2006The Guardian

What on earth was she thinking? What thought process went through her mind that led her to conclude that it was a good idea to invite OJ Simpson to act out the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown, as if he had done it?


So how could she on this occasion come so astoundingly unstuck?

Well, not a bad starting point is her own explanation. Her statement, issued at the weekend shortly before the project was kyboshed, is big (it runs to 2,216 words), brash and bold. In fact, it must rank among the most audacious self-defences of all time.

The statement is headed "Why I Did It" and begins with an account of the domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her first husband, a psychiatrist whom she does not name. "That man was tall, dark, and handsome. A great athlete. A brilliant mind ... He charmed me. We had a child. And then he knocked me out, with a blow to my head, and sent me to the hospital."

So the OJ Simpson ruse was her attempt to rectify the injustice of his acquittal in 1995, on her own behalf and on that of other domestic violence victims: "When I sat face to face with the killer, I wanted him to confess, to release us all from the wound of the conviction that was lost on that fall day in October 1995."

Obituary: Robert Altman

Success in Hollywood came late to Robert Altman, and by the time he became a celebrity at 45, it seemed he had already settled into the role that suited him - the grand old man, cantankerous and wayward. He was compared to Fellini, as a creator of a cinematic world entirely his own, to Welles and to Stroheim. Like the latter two, he knew spectacular decline after glory, but unlike them, had a journeyman's pragmatism that allowed him to carry on, and more than once to resurface triumphantly.

Jonathan Romney Guardian Unlimited

Police to fingerprint on streets

Police across England and Wales are to begin taking fingerprints while on patrol using mobile electronic devices.

The portable gadgets - similar to a pocket PC and linked to a database of 6.5m prints - will enable officers to identify suspects within minutes.

Police say they will particularly help identify people using false identities. Bedfordshire will be the first of 10 forces to pilot the machines.

But concerns have been raised about civil liberties. (I should hope so!!)


US agents 'fail Bush's daughter'

One of the twin daughters of President George W Bush has been robbed of her handbag in Argentina despite protection by US Secret Service agents.

Barbara Bush, 24, lost her mobile phone and credit cards in the robbery in a restaurant in the capital, Buenos Aires - but she was not hurt.

ABC News in the US says the robbery went unnoticed by the heavy secret service force protecting the family.


Says a lot for American security, doesn't it. heh heh heh!

Thought for the day ...

Photography takes an instant out of time,
altering life by holding it still.
-Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, 21 November 2006


... and to the illiterate who left the colourful comment on my blog -- aussi en Irlande.

The Streets of Bakersfield

I came here looking for something
I couldn't find anywhere else
Hey, I'm not trying to be nobody
Just want a chance to be myself
I've done a thousand miles of thumbin'
I've worn blisters on my heels
Trying to find me something better
On the streets of Bakersfield

You don't know me but you don't like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Spent some time in San Francisco
Spent a night there in the can
They threw this drunk man in my jail cell
Took fifteen dollars from that man
Left him my watch and my old house key
Don't want folks thinkin' that I'd steal
Then I thanked him as I was leaving, and
I headed for the streets of Bakersfield

Dwight Yoakam

War Torn Classroom

Necessity is the mother of invention

No Music Day

Turn off that radio !!!!
... and that ipod!

Pic of the Day:

Is this a new way to track your order online?

The end of lost keys?

For years, gadget experts have tried to solve the age-old hunt for misplaced keys and wallets. Could a new high-tech invention solve a common problem?

Most people probably spend hundreds of hours of their lives looking for glasses, television remotes, keys and other personal possessions.

And as CD collections and Rolodexes give way to MP3 players and personal organisers, there are an increasing number of household items ideally sized to be mislaid down the back of the sofa.

A new electronic gadget called the Loc8tor uses radio waves and multiple aerials, plus some fancy software, to locate postage stamp sized transmitters which can be attached to almost anything, within a range of up to 600 feet.

The Loc8tor is the brainchild of Anthony Richards, a former sales and marketing executive who got fed up with wasting huge swathes of his life searching for everyday items.

"I have three kids who were constantly losing the television remote controls and a wife who couldn't find her car keys every single morning," he says.

"The last straw was when I lost my wallet and cancelled all the credit cards, then found it under my car seat a week later. I thought 'this is ridiculous - technology must be able to provide a solution'."

So Richards put together a team of boffins to work on the problem and came up with a device which looks similar in size and shape to a mobile phone. It displays a list of all the tags that it is monitoring, which can be assigned easy-to-use names like keys, TV remote or wallet.


.... so something else to be mislaid down the back of the sofa (c:=

Monday, 20 November 2006

Old Master & estranged wife re-united

The First Post:

Tucked away in the municipal art gallery in Exeter is a self-portrait by Gainsborough's master, Francis Hayman, one of the finest painters of Georgian England.

The oil painting, acquired in 1963, was long thought to be incomplete. Following an astonishing piece of detective work by the art dealer Philip Mould, the missing half of the original painting has been discovered in an obscure gallery in rural New Hampshire. The two sections will be reunited tomorrow.

The newly discovered section of the portrait is of a woman believed to be Hayman's first wife, probably painted in 1735. Nothing is known about her, other than that the marriage came to an acrimonious end.

It is believed that whenHayman and his wife separated he vented his spleen by ripping the painting in two.

'The stewardesses have subdued me into submission'

Jon Ronson Saturday November 18, 2006 The Guardian

I'm on a Ryanair flight between La Rochelle, France, and London. I drink some water. The stewardess knocks my elbow as she passes. The water spills down my chin and on to my shirt. "Sorry," I say. She glances indifferently through me.

"I just apologised to her," I think, startled. "I'm only flying Ryanair because they've got the monopoly on this route and, as in a totalitarian regime, the stewardesses have subdued me into submission with their cold, admonishing stares and mean little comments."


This is the week that Ryanair has been voted The World's Least-Liked Airline. The stewardess hurtles down the aisle again, pushing the drinks trolley. She tears past me.

"Aaargh!" I yell, suddenly. "My foot!"
"Oh no!" says the stewardess, screeching to a halt.
"You've trapped my foot between your trolley and the side of my seat," I yell.
She jerks the trolley backwards. My foot looks disturbingly twisted.
"I'm really sorry," she says.

"Are you OK?" Elaine asks, rubbing my arm.
"I feigned it!" I whisper. There's a triumphant glint in my eye.
"What?" Elaine says.
"I wasn't hurt at all!" I say. "I faked it! I just thought, 'Enough is enough.' I wanted to reach inside the stewardess and grab her humanity and pull it out and say, 'Remember this?' So I decided to really give her a jolt and feign an injury."
There's a silence.
"What?" Elaine says.
"OK, I realise it was a pretty extreme thing to do," I say, "but look at the effect it had. It was as if her outer shell of meanness crumbled away to reveal her long-forgotten compassionate side."

I go to the toilet. On the way I spot the stewardess. She's in the corner. She's having a moment to herself and doesn't realise anybody is watching. She's leaning against the wall, white as a sheet, drained of energy, barely able to stand. It is 9pm. I realise she must have been flying back and forward to La Rochelle all day. She and her fellow stewards have 25 minutes at each end to empty the plane, clean it and then fill it again. Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary, has amassed a personal wealth of €466 million from this business practice. It takes a force of will for the stewardess to reach over to the Tannoy, she looks so exhausted. But she does, and announces: "We sell a range of perfumes, aftershaves, children's toys..."

· To buy Jon Ronson's new book, Out Of The Ordinary: True Tales Of Everyday Craziness (Picador, £8.99), call 0870 836 0875 or visit

Bo Derek

Bo Derek (born Mary Cathleen Collins on November 20, 1956, Long Beach, California).

She is of Irish, German, Dutch and Welsh descent, was married to the actor and director John Derek from 1974 until his death in 1998.
Would you believe it - Bo Derek is only 50 years old today - no I don't believe it either!!!!

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Slow Down You're Moving Too Fast.

Denmark uses topless women holding speed limit signs to slow drivers down.

Cyberspace Research Unit.

Did you know there is a Cyberspace Research Unit. based at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK? Well you do now!!