Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein compares the Pop artist's work to its original sources.
Johnny Depp is generously footing the bill for a Gonzo fist tower to ensure a decent send-off for Hunter S. Thompson.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance though I am not entirely certain why. Possibly not safe for work if you are concerned about what your colleagues might say about the kind of websites you are frequenting. There is also the risk of singing along.
A scale-comparison elevation plan chart of proposed, visionary and fantasy skyscrapers needs a bigger monitor to enjoy properly. I wonder when 7 South Dearborn is going to get its act together. And it is satisfying to note the "mixed used" Minas Tirith in the list at 304m.
Kid Dork of Sean Twist has introduced a harsh measure for dealing with unread books.
Sadly, Star Wars: Battle Surgeons sounds pretty good to me.
An exhaustive compendium of the history of the Batmobile is made possible thanks to "the internet".
The Flea's engoing mission of reducing office productivity everywhere compels me to present Guess-the-google.
One of the strangest things in the world to me is the way stuff moves around the place. It was not so longer ago that only a tiny elite in any particular society would have access to luxury goods or commodities that had travelled any distance at all. Now it is an apparent banality that in the clutter on my desk is a watch made in Japan, a bottle of sandalwood oil from Australia and a two dollar bill from the U.S. of A. I could not tell you where the staples in my stapler come from or where my Farrah Fawcett sunglasses were manufactured let alone where the pewter in my Alchemy tetragrammaton ring was sourced. Our nervous systems evolved in a context where all the food we ate, every article of cloth we wore and each hunting gadget were intimately familiar to us from the beginning to the end of a very short supply chain. These days the surface of my desk presents me with bewildering complexity and a maze of relationships both social and technological that it could take ages to tease out. But who has the time? Small wonder the extraordinary difficulty of making ethical choices in our consumer habits or use of energy or attitudes toward environmental or labour policy are addressed in such facile terms by our major political parties.
Which brings me to my favourite toothpaste. There is nothing remarkable about my Crest Whitening Expressions liquid gel (excepting that unique Cinnamon Rush flavour sensation) but it did strike me how odd it was to be in Islington brushing my teeth with a product I had bought at the Giant Tiger in Picton, Prince Edward County. It seemed a long way for a humble toothpaste tube to travel. A bit like Sam Gamgee's pots and pans I expect.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
Margaret Atwood thinks Canada is a bit like Stonehenge.*
*It isn't really.
(via Sinister Thoughts)
Get medieval with the Black Knight! I love the muzak in the Olde Weapon Shoppe.
I have just watched the Retarded Animal Babies interpretation of the latest Star Wars installment and it left me feeling more positive about the whole enterprise largely on the grounds I am not the only person re-writing this latest Lucas drek in my head even as I am watching it on the screen. Some words of warning... do not even think about watching this short film at work. There is swearing, animated nudity and adolescent fart-level humour. It is hilarious.
It left me thinking about some of my difficulties with the prequels and the blanket emotional refusal I have to accept that any of it should be considered canonical. This left me with the further thought that I am basically an Old Testament Star Wars fan. Except that in the case of this scripture the Old Testament occurs in the future while the New Testament occurs in the past. Or possibly that I am a New Testament Star Wars fan denying the truth of Old Testament writings I deem to be heretical. Or maybe the prequels are a latter-day arrangement that has an only passing relationship to the authentic continuity. Well, you see my problem. Just remember: never talk like that. That character does not exist.
The Surreal Gourmet presents an approach to dealing with impossibly high expectations of his cuisine.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
I have never seen a more perfect demonstration of cat logic.
My favourite toothpaste. Read about it Monday... at the Flea!
The Subway Page offers "links to world subway and other transportation information resources." Some inevitable dead-linkage has crept in but an interaction subway map of Nagoya has already come in handy.
Take care when you type the word "Google".
Das Keyboard is for ubergeeks only. Sadly, I now find I crave one for myself.
Apparently, choosing a girlfriend is much more straightforward than it looks. This one might not be safe for work if you laugh too loudly and your co-workers decide to investigate just what precisely is so funny about that spreadsheet you are looking at anyway.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
Mental note: never video self doing Jedi training in the woods.
Grocery Store Wars is yet another web movie that is more faithful to the spirit of the original films than the latest Lucas efforts. This is worth a look for the shopping cart alone. Also, a cute way to market organic food products.
Anthony Lane offers up Yoda as the character he would most like to see bumped off in the latest, and supposedly last, Star Wars installment.
A peculiar Audi commercial has convinced me of the truth of Vorsprung durch Technik.
Jody Hey's "On the number of New World founders" reaches a surprising conclusion about the first wave of immigrants to the Americas. I would love to know what their names were.
The Flea's passion for Beckham media made it impossible to ignore reports of a Posh Spice nude calendar appearance. But Flea-readers asked: where be the photos? I was forced to reiterate my rock hard commitment to maintaining standards on non-objectification and that commitment will stand proud for as long as I am publisher of the Flea (Time-Warner, make me an offer).
But then I thought: where be Victoria Beckham's own performativity and representation of self in this then? The Flea could hardly stand in the way of Posh and Becks' parodic expression of wealth and dialogical relationship to gender roles. Plus, those glasses really work for me. The small issue of not being able to find images from the forthcoming "4 Inches" calendar may have also played a part.
The greatest moment in comic book history. Read about it tomorrow... at the Flea!
A parade of unfortunate Star Wars costumes suggests I might not be the extreme hellaloser I thought. Then again, there is the problem of finding these costumes strangely fascinating.
And for the first time I literally sprayed coffee onto my monitor. It was Chewbacca related. Fair warning.
Given the Flea's ongoing reportage of cutting edge keep fit trends and coverage of the latest in popular film it only seemed wise to link to these clips of Natalie Portman pole dancing in the film "Closer". I doubt I shall ever see the movie myself as it looks to be more an exercise in existential frustration than an exercise in keeping fit. Jude Law and Clive Owen also feature.
How to brew beer in a coffee pot.
Those buildings blowed up good. Yep. They blowed up real good.
One of these would smarten up the office to no end.
Japanese videogame manufacturer, Tecmo appears to have failed in its court bid against players of its Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball title. Wired reports Tecmo had objected to players introducing custom mods that created a naked volleyball experience by rendering away the game's already scanty costumes.
I do not think it is only Tecmo's legal position that is precarious. It is difficult to credit objections to nude volleyball to a game manufacturer that "assigned the R-trigger on the Xbox pad to be a 'boob cam' - press it and you automatically zoom in on your character's breasts or crotch" and "the ability to set the level of 'bouncyness' on the breasts of the female characters." It would be sensible to worry less about custom mods and more about problems with virtual sand.
Victoria Beckham has posed nude for charity. Fans of Posh may imagine the act is inherently charitable thereby earning some sort of double-karma. No word on whether David Beckham plans a similar act of Samaritanism.
I would tell you I thought the Star Wars prequels were a steaming pile of bantha poodu but that would just be a point of view and we are now to believe that moral relativism is the hallmark of the Dark Side. And if you felt differently I would go all broody and threatening on you because either you are with me or you are my enemy and that oddly familiar assertion of moral absolutes we are now also meant to believe is the hallmark of the Dark Side. Frankly, I could care less if George Lucas wants to pass himself off as a latter day anti-war activist and critic of capitalism but I wish he would keep his own second-hand cotton-candy philosophy straight. Also, I am reasonably certain I saw at least one of his Huttish brood in costume once again. The one good thing I will say for this film is the appearance of Leia's mother in slightly-retro cloned cinnamon buns. There is no reason another generation should not have its sexual development compromised by a hairstyle.
Darth Vader will fully read your mind. Just don't pick a specific object. Specific objects do not concern him.
My object was "Natalie Portman as my imaginary girlfriend" and Lord Vader. Read. My mind. Totally.
David Edelstein sums up neatly what I believe is the second-worst flaw of the Star Wars prequels.
There is also the interesting rumour that Tom Stoppard was drafted to improve Lucas' legendarily ham-fisted dialogue. Actually, I loved the line "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo." and plan to salt my conversation with it. Unfortunately, Portman mispronounced "Naboo" and that took me right out of the scene.
The Flea wishes to signal ongoing feelings of solidarity and affection for the people of Corsica. Here is Alizée singing J'en Ai Marre to underline the point.
The last sight seen by the last human will look something like this self-replicating machine.
(Is This The Way To) Amarillo is a home-made video by British soldiers serving in Iraq that crashed UK Ministry of Defence computers due to a massive run on bandwidth. The MoD does not seem to have been bothered by the incident.
The whole Amarillo video is available here.
Though personally, I think these Norwegian soldiers serving in Kosovo deserve more attention for their version of Kokomo. Much as nobody anticipated the irritation to be caused to untold numbers of rail and bus commuters by the invention of handheld communicators I doubt the combination of inexpensive digital video and broadband internet was meant to lead to impromptu karaoke by the boys overseas. It seems inevitable in retrospect. We have a micro-genre in the making.
"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and to see heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hands,
and eternity in an hour."
Once again in Annexia. Let us see what I can make of it.
At long last, the Paris Hilton ad for Carl's Jr. featuring a burger approximately the size of Paris' head. That's hot!
Update: I love Paris every moment!
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance with bare-breasted Suicide Girls. Not safe for work unless you teach cultural studies in which case watching this video is only one example of a gruelling dedication to the advancement of the understanding of popular culture.
Paul O'Brien ponders the Question Cosmic: who is the most powerful being in comicdom? Much preferring the Marvel multiverse I thought of the Beyonder or Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet. O'Brien agrees these are real bad-asses but hands the prize to the DC continuity.
Read a book (with a hat tip to the Neighbour of a Flea).
A two-thousand year old shoe has been unearthed at a Somerset quarry. The quarry part is a bit suspicious. Archaeologists should also be on the look-out for remains of Britain's oldest scarf, floppy hat and killer hoover.
The Flea is on the move again and regular posting should resume tomorrow from the not as sunny as it should be sounding Republic of Annexia. Some thoughts on discount airlines. The ticket price sounds good, yes, but the discount is eaten away by overweight baggage charges and the price of rail/coach tickets each way to and from your destination city and hinterland airport. Big savings for the inconvenience and expense are retained by the airline while each souvenir of your visit jacks up your fare to exactly where it would be had you flown with a proper carrier. At least, such is the guestimate of the travelling book collector. If stamps and other light-weight antiquities are your game you may not face the same problem.
Some further reflection for my airline: Air Transat, your customer service is everything I could have expected had I realized your corporate headquarters was in Quebec City. Your steerage-class in-flight cuisine is everything I have come to know and love from from the gourmanderie that is the Great White North. And while my first flight with you found all the electrics and tail parts still in working order on touch-down your peerless Canadian accident record leaves me crossing my fingers and offering prayers to a variety of ancient storm gods as I face the prospect of my return journey.
Once again: Air Transat, you are the sucking wind beneath my wings.
The Flea's Human Resources Advisor forwards news from Hanzi Smatter, "dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters (Hanzi or Kanji) in Western culture." It seems Nike has made a somewhat odd choice of message for a pair of $320 trainers. I doubt this was the image they were looking for.
"There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for awhile. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."
How do I know that God is good? I don't.
I gamble like a man. I bet my life
Upon one side in life's great war. I must,
I can't stand out. I must take sides. The man
Who is a man a neutral in this fight is not
A man. He's bulk and body without breath,
Cold leg of lamb without mint sauce. A fool.
He makes me sick. Good Lord! Weak tea! Cold slops!
I want to live, live out, not wobble through
My life somehow, and then into the dark.
I must have God. This life's too dull without,
Too dull for aught but suicide. What's man
To live for else? I'd murder some one just
To see red blood. I'd drink myself blind drunk,
And see blue snakes if I could not look up
To see blue skies, and hear God speaking through
The silence of the stars. How is it proved
It isn't proved, you fool; it can't be proved.
How can you prove a victory before
It's won? How can you prove a man who leads,
To be a leader worth the following,
Unless you follow to the death--and out
Beyond mere death, which is not anything
But Satan's lie upon eternal life?
Well--God's my leader, and I hold that He
Is good, and strong enough to work His plan
And purpose out to its appointed end.
I am no fool, I have my reasons for
This faith, but they are not the reasonings,
The coldly calculated formulae
Of thought divorced from feeling. They are true,
Too true for that. There's no such thing as thought
Which does not feel, if it be real thought
And not thought's ghost--all pale and sicklied o'er
With dead conventions--abstract truth--man's lie
Upon this living, loving, suff'ring Truth,
That pleads and pulses in my very veins,
The blue blood of all beauty, and the breath
Of life itself. I see what God has done,
What life in this world is. I see what you
See, this eternal struggle in the dark.
I see the foul disorders, and the filth
Of mind and soul, in which men, wallowing
Like swine, stamp on their brothers till they drown
In puddles of stale blood, and vomitings
Of their corruption. This life stinks in places,
'Tis true, yet scent of roses and of hay
New mown comes stealing on the evening breeze,
And through the market's din, the bargaining
Of cheats, who make God's world a den of thieves,
I hear sweet bells ring out to gayer, and see
The faithful kneeling by the Calvary
I walk in crowded streets where men
And women, mad with lust, loose-lipped and lewd,
Go promenading down to hell's wide gates;
Yet have I looked into my mother's eyes,
And seen the light that never was on sea
Or land, the light of Love, pure Love and true,
And on that Love I bet my life. I back
My mother 'gainst a whore when I believe
In God, and can a man do less or more?
I have to choose. I back the scent of life
Against its stink. That's what Faith works out at
Finally. I know not why the Evil,
I know not why he Good, both mysteries
Remain unsolved and both insoluble.
I know that both are there, the battle set,
And I must fight on this side or on that.
I can't stand shiv'ring on the bank,
I plunge Head first. I bet my life on Beauty, Truth,
And Love, not abstract but incarnate Truth,
Not Beauty's passing shadow but its Self.
Its very self made flesh Love, realised.
I bet my life on Christ--Christ Crucified.
Behold your God! My soul cries out. He hangs,
Serenely patient in His agony,
And turns the soul of darkness into light.
I look upon that body, writhing, pierced
And torn with nails, and see the battlefields
Of time, the mangled dead, the gaping wounds,
The sweating, dazed survivors straggling back,
The widows worn and haggard, still dry-eyed,
Because their weight of sorrow will not lift
And let them weep; I see the ravished maid,
The honest mother in her shame; I see
All history pass by, and through it all
Still shines that face, the Christ Face, like a star
Which pierces drifting clouds, and tells the Truth.
They pass, but it remains and shines untouched,
A pledge of that great hour which surely comes
When storm winds sob to silence, fury spent
To silver silence, and the moon sails calm
And stately through the soundless seas of Peace.
So through the clouds of Calvary--there shines
His face, and I believe that Evil dies,
And Good lives on, loves on, and conquers all--
All War must end in Peace. These clouds are lies.
They cannot last. The blue sky is the Truth.
For God` is Love. Such is my Faith, and such
My reasons for it, and I find them strong
Enough. And you? You want to argue? Well,
I can't. It is a choice. I choose the Christ.
- G. A. Studdert Kennedy
I stopped by the Tate Britain to see if the Flea was on display. Not this time. In storage and so near yet so far. Just as well. I might have been tempted to eat it thereby bringing the tattoo to grim semblance of life.
The White Peril discusses some reasons for the deep affection so many fans hold for Kylie Minogue.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has added his best wishes and words of support. Reportedly, such wishes and prayers have been such that Kylie Minogue's website was temporarily overwhelmed by traffic yesterday. One sobering additional revelation is a report that Kylie had her medical check-up on the advice of her boyfriend. One possible outcome of Kylie's unfortunate news is that many people may now be considering if it is time for a check-up of their own.
Liberty, for one thing. The temptation of Vivienne Westwood ties and Paul Smith blazers is more than a civilized soul can long endure. I had to say to myself, "I am not spending three-hundred dollars on a hat", consider every step on my way back to the street entrance and firmly close the door behind me. This was after trying on every Philip Treacy item in the store. Unfortunately, at £175 the Elvis trilby added up to more than my current choices can support even counting a minutely considered VAT exemption. At least I am now the pround owner of a pair of hot new cufflinks.
Hey, it's not like those words are never going to be strung together in that order. Belinda Stronach, apparently reaching a similar decision to my own, has decided it is better to fight for a renewed democracy in a centrist party rather than continue to support the Conservative Party platform (hat tip to PolSpy).
This was forwarded to me by the Flea's Etiquette Advice Team.
Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am certain the many people with experience of cancer in their own families, and everyone around the world for whom Kylie's music is an ongoing source of happiness and inspiration, will find this most troubling news (hat tip to the Flea's Etiquette Advisor).
The Brisbane Courier-Mail is publishing letters of support for Kylie. Kylie, her family and her friends are in my prayers.
Neptune is putting on the breaks and will start to make tracks backwards in the sky from this weekend until October. And some of you thought Mercury retrograde presented challenges and opportunities.
Gaah. This is perfect. This says everything I have been trying to say. I may as well go jump off a bridge. There is nothing to add to this. I want this played at my funeral.
I doubt there is anybody left on earth (except Rusty) who genuinely cares how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Two vomitous byblows of the original series have left me feeling nothing of the enthusiasm that should now possess me. Perhaps bad writing, over-produced digital animation vastly inferior to the 1977 special effects and the corpulent gasbag at the helm are all it takes to achieve the nullity at the core of the Dark Side. In five hundred years time when "The Star Wars" is discussed in offworld doctoral seminars the accepted thesis shall be that the man named "George Lucas" could not have directed the original film because the same man could not have been responsible for the fart in the elevator of culture that are the prequels. Lucas, thy true name is Howard the Duck.
At least the new films have produced some satisfyingly irksome tagline puns. "Is there life after Darth?" "To the Darth side" "May the sales force be with you" "Force the issue" " 'Star' gazers" "The Empire strikes bucks"
Visitors to England, even those raised by English parents, should expect to have their pronunciation and colloquialisms challenged upon their arrival. The expression "I'm good", for example, was near invisible to me until I was roundly mocked for using it when asked if I would like my gin and tonic refreshed. "Only God knows if you are good," was suggested. "We know you are good," was another, "but would you like more gin?" I am told the turn of phrase is employed only by "chavs", "Essex girls" and "people sucking up to Americans." But what about those of us for whom it is as indigenous as the Americans to whom people are sucking up? No good answer was given.
Despite the beating my vocabulary has suffered I do know to enunciate the letter-H in "herb", an habit that has fallen into disuse in Canada echoing, I fear, the usage of our southern neighbours. An American friend corrected me recently, H-minus. I quoted Eddie Izzard to the effect that the word is pronounced "herb, because there is a f***ing H in it." This no more convinced my American chum than any of my Canadianisms pass muster with my English friends and relatives. My yet more clever rejoinder follows: "In 'ertford, 'ereford and 'ampshire 'urricanes 'ardly ever 'appen." She did not get the reference. But then she has a PhD from MIT and one must make allowances.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
Kylie Minogue's famous gold lame hotpants are reported to have holes from "from all that Spinning Around in the 2000 video that made them famous."
Paris Hilton reportedly found her striptease performance in House of Wax "unnerving".
It was off to lunch with relatives in Gloucester then Tewkesbury Abbey where the choir was having a practise and featured the most stunning soprano I have ever heard. The acoustics helped but she was quite extraordinary. I was a bit taken aback by graffiti carved into a rather grand guignol statue of a corpse in some state of decay until I realized the berks responsible had dated their names 1650 and 1651. Finally a visit to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. Last year's event drew over ninety-thousand visitors and judging by the traffic this year's may have been even bigger. I was particularly pleased to come away with a badge for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. I plan to wear it to the conference I am attending later this week and figure it will impress any number of Japanese hotties. With any luck, the life of some endangered hedgehog will also be saved.
Retired vicar: I realize it may be a delicate subject but I hesitate to ask. Is there still tension between the English and the French in Canada?
Flea: I am afraid so.
Retired vicar: I still remember De Gaulle saying, "Vive le Quebec libre."
Flea: Je me souviens, aussi.
An haute bourgeois supper at a friend's place in South Kensington featured three Frenchmen, a Brazilian, a Barbadian and the Flea representing the trackless northern wastes. Champagne and cassis is always welcome but all the more so when the Albert Memorial is a stone's throw away reminding one that life's rich pageant is fleeting and all the better to spend what there is in good company.
A somewhat frenetic last tube back to the Angel, some sleep and a short drive later brought me to lunch at the Eagle and Child in Oxford. Steak and ale pie, the local bitter and a leisurely read of the latest issue of The Chap were just the thing to fortify me for a pilgrimage to the Pitt Rivers Museum. The latter is undergoing construction so the first and second floor galleries were out of bounds despite an attempt to use visiting academic status as an infiltration tactic. The stairs, unfortunately, had been removed so prof or no prof there was no way up! Still very nice to have a chat with Museum staff and get a proper introduction to a witch bottle about which I was curious (photo to follow). All part of the Flea's civilizing mission.
Visitors to England should understand there is pub food and then there is pub food. My first ever visit to the Eagle and Child was a pleasant surprise in that they serve the latter. Pub food consists of gentrified, idealized roasts and a broad variety of ales and bitters - often marketed for their organic genesis - and is generally served at London prices. Pub food, by contrast, is more of a home cooked affair involving local vegetables and heated up pies and all sorts from the frozen food section. The latter is often a bit of a shock to people from abroad and may be part of the reason for lingering impressions of British cuisine and post-war rationing. Now, being of the champagne socialist disposition in many matters of taste and lifestyle I enjoy my foods gentrified and organic. But there is something indisputably authentic about finding real pub food even if it tends to the salty and not very nice. Hence my surprise at finding pub food at the Bird and Baby. I had assumed the place would be overrun with Inklings fans and legions of folks trying to channel Frodo and Co. at the Prancing Pony. Not a bit of it. It remains a local pub. Whatever the merits of the steak and ale pie the Old Hooky bitter was better than any skunky Canadian lager and would almost certainly have met with hobbitish approval. It comes in pints.
Mike Campbell has very thoughtfully sent me an image of Kylie Minogue as Charlene Robinson from Neighbours days. She is so tiny! And I have been wondering about the mystery of how her character's clothing survived the trailer fire ever since Kylie raised the issue in an interview I was listening to (to which I was listening... still ending those sentences with prepositions, damn me!).
It is a strange experience to look across a hall and think, "funny, that looks like a Polaris missile" and realize it is in fact a Polaris missile, if only a training version. The best part of my visit to the Imperial War Museum was an exhibit on the history of the secret services and the Special Operations Executive. Lots of real life Bond goodness including false papers and communications gear used by the brave folks of F Section behind the lines in Nazi-occupied France. Haunting stuff. Though I could have done without the French teenagers laughing and cavorting through the Holocaust exhibit. I am afraid my limited French was more than up to the task of telling them quite sternly to shut-up.
Does anybody know if there is anything left of John Dee's house at Mortake in Richmond-upon-Thames? I have not been able to find anything on-line.
As soon as the Flea starts raking in monster cash I am going to look into improving my postal code.
O sleep! O gentle sleep! Natures soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down and steep my senses in forgetfulness?
- King Henry IV
I had not been to the National Theatre since I saw Dame Judi Dench in A Little Night Music some years ago. Sondheim is always a treat but I was also impressed with the performance space (if less so with the fantastically unwelcoming Brutalist exterior). So I looked forward to seeing how it would be used to stage Henry IV, Part 2. Wonderful lighting and music kept me almost entirely awake for what is, let's face it, a mess of a play that in the end is only a prequel for the ass-kickery that is Henry V. One pleasant surprise, sure to vex the Sister of the Flea, was the appearance of Flea-fav and role-model Matthew Macfadyen as the Prince of Wales, aka Tom Quinn from Spooks (MI5 to north American audiences). Spoiler alert: he becomes Henry V.
In Toronto, there is next to no risk of walking into the big HMV at 333 Yonge St. only to be confronted by a wall of blue-rinse Cliff Richards fans throwing undergarments at their idol as he warbles through his latest hit. While I am making up the bit about the undergarments the image it conjures is faithful to the weirdly hormonal atmosphere of the event. HMV staff and security were getting a kick out the whole thing but all I could do was back away slowly.
Yo, everybody. Just to say I have wanted to reply to a variety of comments over this last week but none of the three computers to which I have access is happy with TypeKey. In at least two cases this is due to ancient Macishness but I cannot say what the difficulty might be with this spankin' new Toshiba laptop.
Bill: One of the worst bits of lifestyle news I ever heard was the day I learned Donna Karan's decision to sell-up meant DK Fuel for Men would no longer be made. I have been hording the stuff, taking great care to wear it only on spectacular goth occasions or in the event of making it with goth women, but despite my poor social schedule one of my last bottles expired this morning (I count trips to London as spectacular goth events) (no goth/pre-Raphaelite women present themselves). Fortunately I have moved on to Michael by Michael Kors and I imagine Christian Dior shall still be making Fahrenheit when the pyramids have worn down to pencil stubs.
Jeff: I had no idea Jane Wiedlin was involved in the Paris Hilton cd. The whole project just gets better and better.
Rick: Sorry for the Byzantine comments barricade. It is there to keep out the Turk. As for presenting as British instead of Canadian... I think there is always a temptation to be a bit Catch Me If You Can on vacation. This is why everyone remembers Leonardo di Caprio picking up his pilot's uniform better than pretending to be an MD. Though I have been direct with friends of the family I would normally let people think I had grown up in Montreal by preference to the sterile truth that is Ottawa.
People of London: you are being ripped off on branded sports-casual clothing. Plus, your Harrod's is basically a scaled-up, would be up-market version of Honest Ed's. I walked out of a Marx & Sparx food outlet, abandoning my wild salmon and soft cheese sandwich alongside a bottle of Sicilian lemon and Mexican lime beverage, due to single cashier trying to fend off the supper crowd in Knightsbridge. Customer service this is not. In despair I made my way to the McDonald's next door where I asked in a fit of utter naivite what the special might be today. "We have single sandwiches as well as meals," replied the quite lovely but not quite English-speaking cashier. I directed my question to the manager who looked at me as if I had used a day pass and escaped from a home for special people. "Ahh," I said, "this is not north America." Thereby confirming his suspicion. I could sense every mind within earshot putting me in the ugly American box because I had the temerity to assume this was a business that had to, like, compete by offering the occasional special offer. But I had the last laugh. This was an ugly Canadian. Think of Canadians being bad and letting everyone think we are American as the flip side of those apocryphal Americans trekking about Europe with maple leafs sewn to their backpacks.
In some future episode of Master Mind where the topic is "The Flea" or "Ghost of a flea" one question might concern my favourite brand. The correct answer is, of course, Donna Karan, DKNY or DK for Men. That said, and strictly technically, there is one brand I like better: Muji. I took the opportunity to stock up on Muji marker pens and bought yet another slim-line Muji business card holder (the first one went walkabout and the second one got dented). And despite having once upon a time been given a Mont Blanc fountain pen as a gift I am now more pleased to own a Muji fountain pen for the princely sum of ï¿½15 despite its tacky cartridge ink system. I am almost the owner of some triumphant Muji slippers but unfortunately even the Japanese version of extra-large is too small for the impressive feet of a Flea. Zut! At least the Japanese scenester who helped me out was jealous of my fedora. I had been getting funny looks from everybody else and especially the cad at Harvey Nick's who was apparently convinced I was about to make off with the pink Burberry cufflinks I had been admiring. Such is the near inevitable consequence of my New Spiv look.
A Stormtrooper's life flashes before his eys in Ops! This is a sad reminder of how good an animated short can be in comparison with two dreadful prequels.
Help Itchana Tchones in this Alien/Star Wars game.
I am shamelessly lifting this George Lucas and Star Wars related quote wholecloth from Nathan's Updates from Seoul. You can get the correct provenence from him.
Tokyo Times reports a development in keitai culture as Aomori University officials encourage class attendance.
Let's say goodbye with a smile, dear,
Just for a while, dear, we must part.
Don't let the parting upset you,
I'll not forget you, sweetheart.
We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again, some sunny day.
Keep smiling through, just like you always do,
'Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds away.
So will you please say hello to the folks that I know,
Tell them I won't be long.
They'll be happy to know that as you saw me go,
I was singing this song.
After the rain comes the rainbow,
You'll see the rain go, never fear,
We two can wait for tomorrow dear,
Goodbye to sorrow, my dear.
All through these dark Winter months the enemy have had the power to drop three or four tons of bombs upon us for every ton we could send to Germany in return. We are arranging so that presently this will be the other way around, but meanwhile London and our big cities have had to stand their pounding. They remind me of the British squares at Waterloo. They are not squares of soldiers, they do not wear scarlet coats; they are just ordinary English, Scottish and Welsh folk, men, women and children, standing steadfastly together. But their spirit is the same, their glory is the same and, in the end, their victory will be greater than far-famed Waterloo.
- Winston Churchill takes stock of the war, February 9, 1941
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance like wallflower superstars.
And Blogcritics proves her perfectly reasonable point by making a lame crack about her intellect. I am quite certain anyone sitting in front of a computer all day is no position to criticize. I mean, seriously. You may find Hilton's life a bit simple but given the choice between being a young, wealthy socialite or an embittered, unpopular Blogcritics writer there is no contest.
Though there is a certain tragic majesty in this nerd life. Take Geekin: Love, Jealousy and Twenty-sided Dice, for example.
Even the grocery is done up to look as if it partook of some hoary antiquity. I had a walk with the Westie at the remains of a Roman villa whose foundations, made with the local stone, were entirely sympathetic to every building built since. Also, underfloor heating. Impressive chaps those Romans, though I gather his was more likely the house of some local Dubonii. Some rather more recent history is evident outside my window as the Canadian Red Ensign circa WWII flies in anticipation of tonight's party. This afternoon presents the modest goal of convincing my cousin it would be a good idea to try the vegetarian haggis I noticed is offered for sale in a nearby town. While the words "vegetarian" and "haggis" have never been made to rhyme the idea possesses me with a burning curiousity.
There'll always be an England
While there's a country lane
Whereever there's a cottage small
Beside a field of grain.
There'll always be an England
While there's a busy street
Wherever there's a turning wheel
A million marching feet.
Red, white and blue
What does it mean to you?
Surely you're proud
Shout it loud.
The Empire too
We can depend on you
These are the chains
Nothing can break.
There'll always be an England
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.
So, obviously, we had to kick Nazi ass in the War but this Kettenkrad small military motorcycle is still a hellasweet ride.
A weekend in the country. How delightful! Always plenty to do. No muntjacks sighted yet but I expect it is only a matter of time. The WWII Canadian Red Ensign will be flying outside the cottage later today already prompting a threatened response of flags and bunting from down the lane. One boiled egg, toast from the Aga and War-era coffee have fortified me for a trip into town for groceries. There are the remains of a Roman villa nearby that I missed on my last visit and I hope to see those too.
The following is advice on rhetoric by noted orator, Winston Churchill. I believe it is an important intervention on the subject for all that it is primarily made in one-syllable words.
Save the kittens! Not for sensitive Flea-readers.
The German war, Mr. Speaker, is therefore at an end. After years of intense preparation Germany hurled herself on Poland at the beginning of September, 1939, and in pursuance of our guarantee to Poland, and in common action with the French Republic, Great Britain and the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations declared war against this foul aggression. After gallant France had been struck down we from this Island and from our united Empire maintained the struggle single-handed for a whole year until we were joined by the military might of Soviet Russia and later by the overwhelming power and resources of the United States of America. Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evildoers, who are now prostrate before us. Sir, our gratitude to our splendid Allies goes forth from all our hearts. We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injuries she has inflicted upon Great Britain, the United States and other countries and her detestable cruelties call forth justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our tasks both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia! Long Live the Cause of Freedom! God Save the King!
- Winston Churchill
As delighted as I was to come across an OTO (Austin variety) 100th anniversary edition of the Book of the Law I was much more pleased to find a Neptune Press illuminated edition at Atlantis Books. Printed in a limited edition of 500 I had spotted one on eBay but it was out of my reach. There is a special luxury in not only finding one for sale but being able to pick from remaining copies to get a number I would like then having my name logged for posterity. Just lovely. Serious Aleister Crowley buffs will be interested to learn the OTO special edition is missing a line-break. So much effort only to fall short of the perfect rendition called for by Liber AL. But then we have been counselled not to lust for results... Thanks to some well informed sources at Atlantis Books for their eagle-eyed reading!
A website hosts voices from WWII. I do not have RealPlayer on this machine so these will have to wait until I get to the country...
As the sixtieth anniversary of VE Day approaches it is time to give some thought to your soundtrack for celebrating the occasion. Run down to your local HMV or equivalent and pick up a 40s dvd. Or just go for the Andrews Sisters!
I was recently taken to task for comparing the plight of gay men in Nazi Germany to the threat to same-sex marriage in Canada. My comparison was oblique, a reference to a rather famous call for sympathy at the fate of our fellow citizens. I believe the latter comparison was appropriate as I see considerable hostility to gay people in Canada and, arguably worse, a widespread indifference to equality before the law. An attitude that seems to say, "if the Conservatives are to deny gay marriage and if I am not gay then what difference does it make to me?" My favourite variation on this theme is to the effect that "marriage" is only a word and that civil unions are just as good. And yet so many Conservatives will go to the barricades in defense of a word.
Nevertheless, the reference, no matter how oblique and no matter how appropriate to the rhetorical point I was trying to make, was over the top. I do not believe a vote for the Conservative party is necessarily intended to be a vote against gay people. There are plenty of reasonable people with good intentions who will be voting for the Conservatives (and certainly voting against the Liberals). It is not a vote I could cast but I can see how other people with a different judgement of the facts would make a different calculation. It is true that I will have to hold my nose to vote NDP and unless and until I can vote for myself as a Rhino candidate I am always going to have to compromise something.
There is another issue I would like to raise against my reference to Martin Niemöller. His famous doggerel starts, "First they came for the Jews". In point of fact, in February 1933 the Nazis shut down every gay bar and gay club in Germany ten days before their call for a boycott of Jewish owned businesses. I do not believe it is unfair to speculate at the reason we never say, "First they came for the gays".
In 1935, the Nazis extended paragraph 175 of the criminal code of 1871 that applied to gay men (itself an imposition of Prussian law on the rest of Germany). This was the legislation under which gay men were sent to the concentration camps. And it was under this law that gay men were to remain in the camps after the end of the War. Jews, gypsies and political prisoners were to be liberated by the Allied advance but the Victory whose anniversary I am celebrating this weekend did not apply equally to everyone. Paragraph 175 was to remain on the books in West Germany until the late 1960s while gay men who attempted to claim status as victims of the Nazis in East Germany were prosecuted for fraud. Some victory. Some liberation. It would not be until the year 2000 that the Bundestag would offer an apology.
I think it is perfectly reasonable for me to point to this history in saying gay men are often the first and last people all too many folks believe can be discriminated against with a clear conscience. I read a comment to another blog just the other day that claimed gay men seeking equality before the law were the * cause * of discrimation against gay men. Well, we hear that sort of talk about the victims of 9/11 or the people of Israel every day. The difference is that conservatives are often the first people to express outrage at such talk and are all too often silent when the same talk is levelled at gay people. Weimar Germany was by all reports a great place to be gay. Hey, I've seen Cabaret. We deny same-sex marriage, and with it equality before the law, at our peril.
John, let me answer that with a parable.
I have finally listened to Qntal's "Illuminate" properly. Gorgeous. This is what I get for teaching too many courses in a term. I keep missing things! Vedes Amigo Illuminate particularly impressed.
So... XBox is advertising the Revenge of the Sith videogame before the actual film is released. Whatever.
Am now in London and still awake from the last time I posted... how could I sleep on the plane when they showed Racing Stripes - the story of a plucky zebra who does not know he can't be a race horse - and Ocean's Twelve - a madcap caper in which Julia Roberts grifts as... Julia Roberts! Hilarity ensued.
Some thoughts. Mac sucks. This is broadband access but an ancient machine and I am too zoned to figure out the copy and paste function that would produce a nice, interactive filler post for your amusement. So, sorry about that. I am going to look into internet cafes. The situation may be trickier still once things move to lovely Oxfordshire and the VE Day Anniversary village fete. I have brought my WWII Canadian Red Ensign to fly in the village and hope to have pics to share once I return to Canada. In the meantime you should treat these posts as missives from occupied France. I am not certain how often I shall be publishing. One thought as I go on partial hiatus is that I have a number of fun-filled Flea marketing projects in the works so watch out for June.
Some more thoughts. Friends don't let friends fly Air Transat. You have been warned. I mean, if they had served KD for my main meal it would have at least offered some value in irony. I knew something was wrong when the lady next to me got her kosher dinner. The fact this same lady had crossed herself as the plane was taking off was a red flag. Clearly a repeat Air Transat customer. To summarize: Air Transat = sux.
Let's see. I have done some exciting Sainsbury's shopping, ducked down to the Sadler's Wells Barber Shop and have discovered a range of FCUK body spray products unavailable in Canada that, were I to load up a satchell and resell them in Toronto in entrepreneurial style, would pay for my airfare. Tomorrow I am putting on finishing touches for my '40s outfit for the VE Day bash and time permitting will start the rounds of my favourite bookstores in the world. Tonight is dinner out in Islington but first I think a little lie down
Should have flown British Airways. I am not entirely clear on my internet access but shall do my best to keep the Flea in print while I am on the move.
Aside from aiming to be the number one Google hit for "girl on girl light saber action" this post is meant to point to Star Wars: Revelations. This is an enormous download and might seem daunting. But if you loved the original films it is impossible not to be drawn into the sheer accomplishment, the sheer enthusiasm, of this indie film production and the download is worth the effort. I imagine every fan who sees it wishes they could have been a part of it. I certainly do.
This is a (wait for it) tour de force.
Rosie O'Donnell returned to television with "Riding the Bus with My Sister", an ABC movie-of-the-week directed by Anjelica Huston. At some point I would like to write something about the MOW genre. There was an amazing effort featuring Tori Spelling as an inadvertent call-girl that I think should be immortalized somehow.* Love Rosie. But also loved this review. Scathing, yes. Cruel, perhaps. But so well written. I cannot offer a fair assessment of my own as I was watching the season premiere of Family Guy.
A rather alarming red planet.
Deadlines are your comrades! Time Management for Anarchists: the movie.
Austin Bay has some stupid things to say about Canada by way of the Gomery Commission. Here is one example.
It is called a judicial publication ban because it is a judicial publication ban. Despite the hyperventilating rhetoric that has been typical of the subject, it is not a "press clamp" imposed by the government. Many people believe this ban is inadvisable or that such bans are inadvisable per se. Fine. Then we should change the law. Such opinions do not change the fact that the ban was imposed in order to defend the rights of a number of people to a fair trial, a right of no consequence to the purposes of Austin Bay's rhetoric. If those trials are thrown out on the grounds their defendants cannot not now be tried fairly I imagine Austin Bay and his fellow travellers will see that as another example of the long reach of the Liberal party.
While the rights of those defendants have been trampled I have yet to see anyone in Canada charged with violations of the court order despite the fact many folks appear to have broken the law in their rush to point fingers at the Liberal government. If that is free speech taking a beating in Ontario (Bay does not seem to have noticed the proceedings are also taking place in Quebec) then I am quite sanguine at the prospect.
And while I am being annoying, some words of advice to the Conservative Party of Canada. Gay people are not alone in facing the rhetorical wrath of that embattled minority of right-thinking folk in Canada who cannot understand how anyone should continue to vote for corruption by preference to the shadows and penumbras of Conservative government (with apologies to Ben for borrowing the phrase). The people of Ontario, and particularly Toronto, are often set up as bogeymen responsible for continued illegitimate Liberal power. While I do not have a textual analysis to back me up, I suspect Ontario is coming to replace Quebec as the damned region to blame for our current state of affairs.
We are meant to believe the Liberals have somehow scared stupid Ontario into accepting a sinister view of Conservative intentions. Conservatives, this is your argument to lose. If a charismatic leader of a Conservative alternative, unified for the first time in a generation, cannot decisively beat the gang in power then you are going to need better arguments than berating the voters of Ontario for their stupidity. I have called my own beloved microstate of Annexia the ground zero for Canadian stupid on more than one occasion. Some gentle self-directed humour on the part of, just pulling a name out the hat here, Albertans might go a long way. Your conservative friends from Newfoundland can offer some advice on how to proceed. Who knows? We stupid people of Ontario, and the sucking vortex of stupid that is Toronto*, may yet be convinced. Telling people their fears are irrational and that their marriages do not exist is not going to do the trick.
*Toronto is a sucking vortex of stupid due to being the axis about which the world revolves. But you already knew that having become dizzy from your slow orbit so far from the centre of things.