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April 29, 2006

Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot: Bonnie & Clyde

My favourite film of all time happens to include my favourite single of all time. Most inconvenient that no Irma Vep soundtrack was ever released. I can link the song anyway thanks to the miracle of the internets. Now is the time the Flea when we dance.

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Claudia has two daddies

Jeff finds the best tagline for a musical review ever.

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Welcome home, Madam

A fad for maid cafes prompted Emiko Sakamaki to create a butler cafe in response. Tokyo otaku girls may now enjoy the Swallowtail coffee house (via Tokyo Times).

Opening the thick wooden door to the Swallowtail coffee house in Tokyo, a man in a black tailcoat greets female customers: "Welcome home, Madam."

Waiters dressed as butlers serve tea and cake at the Swallowtail coffee shop in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, during a press preview in March. Then the "butler" leads the women to a table in a room designed to look like the interior of a British country house.

This is the world that Emiko Sakamaki wanted to create for women like her -- female "otaku," or geeks fixated on comic books, animation and video games.
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Dr Angry and Mr Calm

On the left is Dr Angry while on the right is Mr Calm. Until, that is, you back away from your computer and an optical illusion switches their places. Creepy.

As optical illusions go, we think this is pretty impressive. A short explanation goes something like this. When we look at an object, we can normally see both fine detail and coarse detail. However when we are close, the fine detail will dominate, and when we are further away, we lose the fine detail, and see more of the coarse detail.
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April 28, 2006

Fashion has no mercy

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Pop culture fashion addicts desperate for a fix of Project Runway have been able to get by with a methadone hit of Project Catwalk. Now Canadian viewers have had several weeks to settle into a new regimen, I think it is safe to pass some sort of judgment. Liz Hurley does an admirable job as UK place-holder for Heidi Klum. And considering the way Klum has treated Jay McCarroll, good riddance. Still, there is something missing from the show.

The long shadow of Central St. Martin's produces a very different idea of what should be coming down the runway. High street and haute couture British fashion is much more fanciful and architectural than its American sport and ready-to-wear counterparts. I am always happy to take in London glamour and the four-floor Georgian hosting contestants is my dream home. The Instituto Marangoni London campus facilities are more impressive than their equivalent at the Parsons School of Design. All of this should make the show at least as interesting to watch as the original.

But there is that missing "I do not know what". Americans on television have a presence the aspiring British designers lack. Weekly outings connected to their projects seem to have been forced on the Brits. Even social events with models or the press come across as stilted and the contestants embarrassed to be part of the spectacle. It is as if nobody has explained to these people that reality television is meant to be entertaining. Worse yet is the marked absence of Tim Gunn. Ben De Lisi looks like a deer in headlights. There is no excuse for it. The man is American, after all.

No mercy Update: It is frustrating to learn Elizabeth Hurley will not be hosting the show's second season. "Plummy", indeed.

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Alizée: À Contre-Courant

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

Flea-readers of a certain age may have expected to live and die never knowing how Dragon's Lair turned out. Thanks, internets!

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The Smithy Code

Mr Justice Peter Smith's "Smithy Code" has been cracked. Conspiracy theorists need not despair of something to do. Ben Hoyle at The Times and Dan Tench for The Guardian are both claiming to have solved the code first. Certainly a greater enigma than the code's uninspiring message: "Smithy Code Jackie Fisher Who Are You Dreadnought".

He had inserted the code into the judgment for his own amusement. "I never expected anybody to notice it. It was for my own pleasure."
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The Devil's Interval

Writing for the BBC, Finlo Rohrer explains a link between Black Sabbath, Wagner's Gotterdammerung, West Side Story and the Simpsons' theme. Tritones - "a musical interval that spans three whole tones" - have long been described in metal lore as Diabolus in Musica or the Devil's Interval supposedly banned from medieval music. It turns out they were not wrong.

It all sounds a little like the plot of a far-fetched Da Vinci Code sequel. But Professor John Deathridge, King Edward professor of music at King's College London, says the tritone had been consistently linked to evil.

"In medieval theology you have to have some way of presenting the devil. Or if someone in the Roman Catholic Church wanted to portray the crucifixion, it is sometimes used there."
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Xenu sounds even more mature

Tom Cruise, who must be straight because he is now the biological father of a child, explains why Katie Holmes has decided to change her name.

"Katie is a young girl's name. Her name is Kate now she's a child-bearing woman."
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April 27, 2006

À Chacun, Son Goût

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Beautiful Atrocities forwards news of Walkers' new crisps representative: Charlotte Church. While I rarely eat potato chips myself, I think Church is an excellent choice and a welcome relief in a world of celebrities who could use a pack of crisps. Keira Knightley is lovely but do FHM readers really think she is the sexiest woman in the world?*

"I love a good fry-up. I'm a natural fat girl," she declared. "I don't do the gym, my only workout is on the dance-floor on a Saturday night. And I love a good Chinese. Because I'm happy I eat and eat. ... I just love food and hate the gym," she added, "and it seems to be a pretty curvy combination."

Bless. Now everyone is happy with the exception of axed crisp factory workers. They think Church's £100,000 contract might have been better spent.

*They do, actually.

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The Streets: Dry Your Eyes

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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The Smith Code

The Da Vinci Code plagiarism case judge, Justice Peter Smith has reportedly published his 71-page judgment with "a seemingly random series of italicisations throughout." The first nine italic letters spell out the words "Smith Code". Cute.

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The World's Intelligence

For the first time in a century the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, is advertising for staff. This is a big step considering the British government only admitted the existence of Six in 1994. Would be administrators, officers, analysts, linguists, and information technology specialists can apply on-line.

In a carefully worded passage the site explains that "James Bond, as Ian Fleming originally conceived him, was based on reality". It adds: "Staff who join SIS can look forward to a career that will have moments when the gap narrows just a little and the certainty of a stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country."
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Almost lost the plot

A workplace smoking ban for England and a sensible exemption. I am now wondering if a Patsy or Winston could take the same liberty.

Characters like Absolutely Fabulous's chain-smoking Patsy would not be able smoke on set or on stage if next summer's ban goes ahead as proposed. Theatres also argued they would not be able to portray historic figures like the cigar-smoking Winston Churchill. Exemptions are now being considered where smoking is integral to the plot.
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On Safari

Reports suggest Flea-readers arriving via an Opera browser can do so without a cacaphony of MySpace videos all autostarting at once. Result! Unfortunately, I now have word the site is giving Safari browsers trouble. The internets are truly a work in progress for folks without Explorer or Firefox... In related hiccup news: I am sorry for the continued comments malfunction. I hope to return to normal service as soon as possible.

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April 26, 2006

Equal opportunity nipple

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Attentive Flea-readers may have noticed yesterday's Jenny Shimizu media included ever so slightly more Shimizu than I had intended. In the interest of restoring the cosmic balance I now present Daniel Craig's amazing acting nipple. For the full effect say "nipple" in a Sean Connery accent: Yesh. Though I am left with a question: Why does Craig's face look older than his torso?

Not that I am one of those people who develop a facial tick whenever the new James Bond is mentioned. Daniel Craig remembers pretending to be 007 in the playground. He says he understands how important it is "to get it right" in Casino Royale's more human and fallible Bond reboot.

"I'm a Bond fan. If I go and see a Bond movie there are certain things I think should be in it. And they're there. We've got them in spades."

It turns out Roger Moore never liked guns. If only the Daniel Craig haters could take this on board and forgive the man for being an actor and not an imaginary secret agent. Unlike Craig, as a boy Pierce Brosnan never even wanted to be Bond. Though after ten years and four films I can see why he would become attached to the part.

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C for Cookie

People should not be afraid of cookie. Cookie should be afraid of people (brought to you by Porchboy and the Number Five).

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La Divina

A Chicago Sun-Times on-line photo gallery includes the best ever photo of Maria Callas. The collection has so many haunting images that I should add a time-bandit warning for cubicle-enhanced Flea-readers everywhere (via Tim Blair).

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Hard Candy

I enjoy product placement as much as anybody. But Hard Candy needs to work a bit harder at pretending to be a movie and not just a Mini Cooper ad.

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Idoru

William Gibson's Idoru is to be produced as an anime film (via Cult of Pop). Now if only we can get whoever is sitting on the rights to Neuromancer to do the right thing for humanity and give them up. To Alex Proyas, say. Or Luc Besson.*

You probably haven’t heard of Alex Steyermark’s films Prey for Rock N’ Roll or One Last Thing, but if he’s the guy who finally cracks the William Gibson movie, he’ll be our hero. One of his next projects is an adaptation of Idoru, which will be a Japanese anime film.

"The studio people that were reading the script all loved it," Steyermark says. "They said, ‘This is a $150 million movie.’ One of them came back and said, ‘How would you feel about doing this as an anime film?’ I thought that is really cool, really creative. It’s exciting, it’s a great way to do it on a smaller budget. At the same time, [it] could set up a live action version of it."

*Yes, yes: Or Ridley Scott.

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Eagles Of Death Metal: I Only Want You

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TypeKey indigestion

Would be Flea-commenters will have noticed the following error message: "The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable." I assumed the TypeKey server was on the blink but am now thinking something has gone awry in my last site rebuild. Does anyone have an idea what might be causing the problem? Thanks!

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

April 25, 2006

Strange attractors

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Jenny Shimizu recently came to public attentive through revelations of her affair with Angeline Jolie and consequent speculation about just what had been going on in Jonny Lee Miller's swimming pool. The Flea's newfound interest in Shimizu media means reports of yet another celebrity entanglement cannot go unremarked. But how to best bring you - the Flea-reader - news of her tryst with the Immaterial Girl?* Specifically, what image should I use to illustrate this post?

Which brings me to the problem. A quick Google search for Jenny Shimizu pictures suggest two "strange attractors," i.e. two phase states, of the Shimizu wardrobe. These being "butch" and "naked" respectively. While your search will vary depending on your SafeSearch preferences I am left with an editorial decision about what to run with. After all, one hesitates to reproduce stereotypes or material catering to prurient interests. All I can say is that for a professional model Shimizu has left a remarkably small footprint on Google's image index. Hopefully news of her fling with Madonna will bring much needed media attention her way.

“It’s most guys’ ultimate fantasy to bed Angelina or Madonna. But I’m a girl and I was sleeping with both of them—at the same time. They were both sensational lovers who got incredibly turned on by the touch of another woman,” the Newsoftheworld quoted her, as saying.

Shimizu said that she had hooked up with Madonna after catching the singer’s eye during a casting video, and that she had been the ‘Hung Up’ singer’s ‘booty call’.

*Please note: At the time of her affair with Shimuzu, Madonna still occupied her material form.

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Emilie Simon: Fleur de Saison

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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K-Fed keeps it real

Kevin Federline responds to his critics. Warning: linked article features rap.

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Ce N'est Pas un Exhibite

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is hosting the largest Dada exhibition ever held in the United States. The show is open through to May 7.

Dada features painting, sculpture, photography, film, collage, and readymades emerging in six cities: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, and Paris. The exhibition presents many of the most influential figures in the history of modernism, as well as others less known, including Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber, Hans Richter, Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp.

The 20th-century leaves much to be desired in its fine arts. From the CIA funded abstract expressionist bubble market to Andy Warhol's closet curios, fine art has strayed ever further from the representational into the conceptual. This would be fine if, with a few notable exceptions, art had not become ever more boring. With the invention of photography the portrait and landscape painting markets evaporated. It was either concept art or unemployment for the paint and paintbrush set. Certainly Dada is to blame at least as much as Impressionism for this not terribly satisfying century-long answer to technological change. That said, it is profoundly satisfying to learn Marcel Duchamp's readymade urinal Fountain can still get a rise from a writer at the National Review.

O Moon of Alabama Update: Washington-based Flea-readers should beg, borrow or steal to hear Ute Lemper perform in a cabaret performance for Dada on April 29. I will be jealous.

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Ecuador hats, actually

It turns out that Panama hats are traditionally made in Ecuador. In slower moving days they were stored in Panama before before being shipped elsewhere. Hence the confusion. Now FemaleFirst reports Panama hats are making a comeback. It remains to be seen if the fad catches on outside Germany.

Al Capone wore one. So did Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway. We are talking about the Panama hat, which is traditionally made in Ecuador. The elegant headwear woven from palm fibres, considered a status symbol for men for decades, is now making a slow comeback.
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April 24, 2006

May be shorter than they appear

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Korean miniskirt sales are on the rise. So are the miniskirts. Socio-economic theories for their popularity are less satisfying than this optical illusion explanation (via James D. Hudnall).

"When I wear a super-miniskirt, mesh stockings and 7-cm heels, it creates an optical illusion to make me look more than 10 cm taller than I really am."
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Be well clever like Noam Chomsky

Ali G interviews Noam Chomsky. This was painful to watch but somehow left me feeling like a better person (via A General Theory of Rubbish).

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To play the bling

Even with a baseball bat William has better costume sense than Harry.

Army trainee Wills, 23, gleefully joined in the fun as his platoon donned chav-themed fancy dress for a photo to mark the completion of their first term at Sandhurst. He donned a loose-fitting top and bling jewellery — then added an angled baseball cap and glare to complete his menacing lookalike of Lotto lout Michael Carroll.

They lost me with the Michael Carroll reference. It turns out he is more of an object lesson than a man.

You spins the wheel, you takes your chances Update: Some practical advice for lottery winners.

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Swiss cheese

Switzerland plans to take advantage of German World Cup "widows" using Swiss hunks as a lure. In sociobiological terms this makes Switzerland the "beta" to Germany's "alpha," fyi (via Dies Irae).

Strapping males bearing pitchforks, ropes and chainsaws are fronting a campaign to persuade women to take a holiday there as their husbands and boyfriends watch endless football in Germany.

A farmhand, a train conductor, a mountaineer, a ferryman and a lumberjack form the welcoming party in an advertisement being broadcast across German-speaking Europe.
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MJ Cole: Crazy Love

Music Video Code provided by MySpace Video Code

Mad props to Dorkafork for the coding anomaly fix!

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April 22, 2006

The return of a legendary figure

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Amid positive reviews of Tomb Raider: Legend is yet more excellent tomb raiding news. Angelina Jolie is reportedly set to return for a third movie installment.

It looks like Ange is planning to get back into her Lara Croft clobber for another bout at Tomb Raiding - even though she said she would never play the computer game-inspired hottie again. The plan is to start training for the part in Tomb Raider 3 shortly after giving birth to the eagerly awaited baby she's having with Brad Pitt.
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Metric: Poster of a Girl

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society

I have nothing against the War of 1812 re-enactments at Fort York or everything they get up to in period dress at Black Creek Pioneer Village. But I think Toronto also needs a Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society to give us the big historical picture. Those who forget the Secret Wars are condemned to repeat them.

Posted by the Flea at 10:09 AM | TrackBack (0)

Trek Noir

Frank Miller's "Dark Knight" has long been credited for reinventing comics (and some are unhappy with the result). Miller's approach was to re-imagine Batman in gritty, noir-ish terms in stark contrast with the high-camp cartoon it had become (Kapow!). The Dark Knight concept reached beyond comics - or the more grown-up sounding "graphic novels" - and onto the silver screen with the film "Batman Returns." A darker sensibility was meant to offer greater realism, greater emotional and artistic impact and greater box-office returns for the flagging franchise. Forthcoming "Superman" and "James Bond" vehicles are heading down the same road; one also travelled by the "naturalistic science fiction" of Ron Moore's epic new Battlestar Galactica.

Next up for the Dark Knight treatment: Star Trek. Out with the Rick Berman and Brannon Braga series conventions and in with the J.J. Abrams off-kilter sensibility.

Abrams, who's highly buzzed M:I-III [Mission Impossible III - Ed.] marks his feature directing debut, is most famous for creating and producing such hit series as "Lost", "Alias" and "Felicity". Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, Abrams' producing team from "Lost," also will produce the yet-to-be-titled feature.

The project, to be penned by Abrams and "Alias"/M:I-III scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, looks like it'll be a prequel of the franchise with the story set in the early days of original series characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock - including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer space mission.
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April 21, 2006

New Who

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PooterGeek blames supergenius Russell T Davies - formerly of Queer As Folk fame - for David Tennant, "a Doctor who’s prettier than his assistant." Point taken. Though judging by Doctor Who Confidential for Season 2 Episode 1 ("New New Doctor") the entire production staff is made up of gay men (plus one Grace). I think we can safely assign the decision to a consensus process rather than a "great man" theory of casting.

Who fans worried at the departure of Christopher Eccleston should relax. David Tennant is a natural as the Doctor. And no need for separation anxiety in the short term: Tennant and Billie Piper have already signed on for Season 3.

Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Kano: Signs In Life

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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New English Dandy

"Dandyism is the last vestige of a sartorial spirituality. It is a secular monastery, but with essential accessories."
- Robert Dutt

Alice Cicolini considers a well-groomed, Flea-ish masculinity in The New English Dandy. This is not entirely new ground for Cicolini. Her research on British underwear for the British Council revealed a country "paradoxically liberated by its boundaries." Cicolini claims England's uniforms and conformity are offset by "subtle subversion" as a hallmark of the nation's dress sense. Her work on English dandies takes the observation in a new direction. She argues the underlying motive for subversion is on the way out.

(The) irony is fading, argues Cicolini, formerly of the British Council in London, who presents the modern dandy as the product of a "renaissance" in British menswear and, more important, of an age in which we’re rich, materialistic, and just fine with it, thank you. To the dandy, looking good is a worthy, even intellectual, pursuit.

Cicolini's dandy classification owes a debt to her earlier work with the Victoria & Albert's Christopher Breward. 21st Century Dandy broke masculinity into six major categories: The Gentleman, Hoxton Dandy, Terrace Casual, Neo-Modernist, Celebrity Tailor and New British. The New English Dandy mixes and matches into six slightly new and improved categories.

1 'Neo-Modernist' draws on established sartorial traditions but subverts them through materials, form and function;
2 'Terrace Casual' positions country and leisure style in the urban environment;
3 'Celebrity Tailor' focuses on the art of cut and the mastery of individual tailors;
4 'East End Flaneur' is rooted in a flamboyant urban camouflage and is the ultimate expression of street style;
5 'The Gentleman' shows an apparent effortlessness of dress and attention to detail;
6 'New Briton' re-evaluates what a British look really means.

In the absence of a celebrity tailor I am working on 'Annex Flaneur.' The Flea: So far from Bond Street. So close to Winners.

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A novel idea

Imagine a romance starring... you! I am going to wait for the movie version.

A unique and romantic gift. Medieval Passion, Tropical Treasure, Love's Next Door, Pirates of Desire, Vampire Kisses, Western Rendezvous, and now our most recent release, ER Fever, are love stories full of romance, passion and humor.

You co-author your 160 to 180-page novel by providing the names, features and places that personalize your book. There are over 26 characteristics to personalize – you can even include your dog or cat! A personalized cover adds that finishing touch.
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April 20, 2006

An admirably twisted style guru

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He was the immortal genius behind Kylie Minogue's gold hot pants. Now William Baker is the would be court stylist of Beckingham Palace.

He recently working with Victoria on a photo shoot for Spanish magazine Vanidad in which she wore a huge afro wig, heels and stockings. She is now keen to work with him again, a source told The Sun: "They have struck up a close friendship and William is even telling people he is now Victoria’s stylist.

"Victoria says she is not keen to employ him on a full-time basis because she likes to do things herself, so does David.

Ooh, zing! Despite Flea inquiries the reason for Baker's split with La Minogue remains unclear. Though Victoria in a purple afro wig might be a clue.

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Also worth a thousand words

The Sydney Morning Herald claims Kylie and Mr. Minogue could have earned well over £1 million for the snaps Olivier took. Quite right too. Thanks to everybody for forwarding this latest news of Kylie in recovery.

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So Under Pressure

Dannii Minogue is releasing a single about the tough year she has had dealing with Kylie's cancer scare. The Daily Telegraph is calling it a case of "famous sibling syndrome" which seems a bit harsh. Though they are right to point out the lesbian lapdance also deserves to be immortalized in song.

In the world's saddest case of famous sibling syndrome, Minogue appears to be cashing in on her sister Kylie's battle with cancer, releasing a single about how tough life has been for her since her sister announced she was battling the disease in May last year.

Sadly it is not Kylie's pain which Dannii describes in the single So Under Pressure but her own. "I want the pain to end, I'm so under pressure" are some of the words included in the lyrics.
Posted by the Flea at 09:31 AM | TrackBack (0)

Angels of Annexia

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An Australian dinner party guest once explained to me the problem with Canada: "You don't have any interesting wildlife." Moose!, someone suggested. Admittedly, not much to hold up against a kangaroo or a koala. Though I have come to the opinion the animals we take for granted are more peculiar than we give them credit.

For example, Canadians living overseas discover that any large organization will feature another Canadian and he or she will have a beaver-chewed tree-stump in their office. As the new Canadian on the payroll you will be called upon to verify the stories that go with it. My credibility in my former life as a research consultant in the UK suffered as I explained that yes, beavers do indeed cut down trees with their teeth and, no, the tree stump was not a wind up. They need the wood to build dams and lodges, I explained. "That can't possibly be true... all of Canada would be under water!" Funny you should mention that.

With the coming of spring residents of Annexia are treated to our local fauna. Skunks are a hazard. And then there are the raccoons. They are resourceful creatures.

Posted by the Flea at 09:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dimmu Borgir: Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse

This is so exactly what I am going for with Hand of Vecna.

Music Video Code provided by MySpace Video Code
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April 19, 2006

Celebrity Sapphism

Flea-readers may wonder why I would link to this (nsfw) expose of Angelina Jolie's "first lesbian fling" with Jenny Shimizu. Remember: It is not about the art it is about the ad revenue. Trawling strip joints, naked moonlight swimming and Jonny Lee Miller also feature (via Miu).

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¡Tomen nota señoritas!

And here I thought I was the only person in the world with a sugarcube sponge. Dita Von Teese proves me wrong with a demonstration of the merits of absinthe (so nsfw). While I am certain that is meant to be absinthe and not champagne La Petite Claudine is spot on about the unflattering effect of crossing one's legs in profile.

¡Tomen nota señoritas! Practiquen una y otra vez: la espalda recta, las manos juntas, las piernas colocadas graciosamente perpendiculares al sillón. ¡Sin cruzar! Cruzar las piernas es malo para la columna, la circulación y la tele: los muslos más delicados parecen colchones de agua cuando las damas cruzan las piernas con la cámara de lado.
Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

The Adventures of Michael Moorcock in the 21st Century

Michael Moorcock does a poor job of explaining why he is to become an American citizen. Something to do with his support of a traditional heredity House of Lords, apparently. He does a better job explaining why he is becoming a true Texan.

Shortly after I arrived here I was sitting in a cowboy bar, full of guys in big boots and hats who were drinking beer, smoking Camels and listening to Randy Travis on the jukebox. In conversation, I mentioned how, in the recent UK election, I had voted ‘socialist’ (that is, for NuLabor). I can’t swear that the jukebox stopped playing, but there was a distinct hush in the bar. Then a 6ft6 cowboy in a vast black stetson strolled towards me, jingling as he walked. I knew I probably wasn’t going to get killed, but I wasn’t otherwise optimistic.

He wants to be Anarchy Update: It is hardly surprising a man who could seriously compare Farnham's Freehold to Hitler's Lebensraum should suffer no cognitive dissonance supporting both the House of Lords and the American Senate. Reading Moorcock's "Starship Stormtroopers" from the days when he was still an avowed anti-monarchist I am reminded of two things: First, anarchists are idiots, and; second, most of Moorcock's epic hero cycles were eminently recyclable.

Posted by the Flea at 09:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Juno Reactor: God is God

These MySpace Videos are working fine in Explorer but I am informed that Opera decides to play them as soon as the page opens. I would be grateful if browser savvy Flea-readers might take a look at the source html and let me know why this is the case. Embedded videos are fun but I do not want to put off an Opera-enabled public!

Music Video Code provided by MySpace Video Code
Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 18, 2006

Kabbalah vs Scientology

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Let's see. Sarah Silverman must have done something newsworthy lately. Her commentary on Kabbalah vs Scientology qualifies. Offensive to everybody obviously so don't let just anyone read this over your shoulder.

Small sidebar: Everything I needed to know about life being fair I learned from this picture.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Harenchi Punch: Megaphone

Must learn Japanese to keep up with goings on at the Harenchi Punch blog. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*On the off-chance you still don't need an insulin injection here is "Tandem" by Halcali. Enjoy!

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Ain't nothin but a Flea thang

Stewie Griffin and a close approximation of the Flea dance (nsfw language).

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People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

Readers of The Bookseller magazine have awarded the oddest book title of 2005 (above) (via Dies Irae).

Past oddest book winners include How to Bombproof Your Horse and How to Avoid Huge Ships.
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The Hairless Elbonian

The Hairless Elbonian is an experimental comic by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.

The experimental aspect is that I blatantly "borrowed" every successful cartooning technique I've ever seen (except for good artwork) and threw it into the mix. For example, comics about little boys with pets tend to be popular across all demographic groups, whereas comics about little girls have limited appeal to young males. Hence, The Hairless Elbonian is a boy. In other words, it 's an engineered comic strip devoid of any artistic integrity whatsoever. I was curious whether I could make that work. You be the judge.
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A poignant guide to Ruby

This poignant guide makes me want to learn Ruby even though I have no pressing need for a programming language in my life (just like Yummy Wakame).

I’ll be straight with you. I want you to cry. To weep. To whimper sweetly. This book is a poignant guide to Ruby. That means code so beautiful that tears are shed. That means gallant tales and somber truths that have you waking up the next morning in the arms of this book. Hugging it tightly to you all the day long. If necessary, fashion a makeshift hip holster for Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby, so you can always have this book’s tender companionship.
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April 17, 2006

Sometimes I become spellbound in the middle of Wal-Mart

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The much anticipated musical Lestat has opened on Broadway to mixed reviews. Anne Rice had to hold back tears of joy. Modern Fabulosity's eye were watering.

If you smell a foul stench at the corner of 47th and Broadway, it is probably Elton John and Bernie Taupin's vampire sudser Lestat, which by all rights should never have made it to Broadway in the first place. (It has no beginning or end...the story just begins and stops, leaving a dazed audience to figure out what's happening.) ... Ugh. Avoid at all costs.

Sadly, this is not enough to prevent me from seeing it.

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Chasing Natalie

Not that I am stalking Natalie Portman but say hypothetically I was then Jaunted would so help me out.

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Waltopia

In contrast with Walt Disney's wartime production, Waltopia presents this, his last utopian effort from the days when people still believed in heroic urban planning. Disneyland is your land.

This 24 minute film was recorded just before Walt's death. It was presented to the media and government officials in February of 1967. It highlights thier "Florida Project" a Disney World in Florida.

These plans include a theme park, industrial center, transportation center and "the heart of everything" the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow - EPCOT. You will see the original plans for a true, planned city.
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My invention can detect human stupidity. It has a very simple interface. All I do is point it at people.

Scott Adams asks some cogent questions about respect. If a grad school education in anthropology has accidentally taught me anything it is that Adams is right: We need less respect and more mockery. We need to learn to put up with each other not pretend to agree with each other.

People keep telling me that I should respect the beliefs of others. That sounds entirely reasonable, at least until you think about it. The problem is in knowing where to draw the line. I can understand why, for example, Presbyterians should respect the beliefs of Methodists. They’re practically the same thing.

But what about those Heaven’s Gate guys who believed they should kill themselves so their souls could follow a comet? Am I obligated to respect those beliefs too? How about the people who give away all of their possessions because they have determined the exact date that the world will end? Do I respect their opinions up to the predicted end-time and then, after it passes, keep on respecting their opinion while they are begging the neighbors to give back their crap?
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Aimee Mann: Pavlov's Bell

Music Video Code provided by MySpace Video Code
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April 16, 2006

Diamond Stella Egg

One hundred half-carat diamonds adorn the Diamond Stella Egg for La Maison du Chocolat in Piccadilly. A steal at £50k! My plan is to skip the diamonds and wait for post-Easter chocolate sales.

Need an intern to check my blogroll Update: Looking at Spirit Fingers I see she has trumped me not only with the Diamond Stella Egg but the Macdonald sandwich and $1000 Mint Julep. Vexed again! At least she throws in her form-fitting gold vinyl bunny suit so that is a plus.

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April 15, 2006

Correlation and causation

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A University of Glasgow study suggests Goth subculture may protect "vulnerable children." A much larger percentage of the study's (admittedly small) sample of self-identified Goths had engaged in "self-harm" - cutting or burning - than their peers. Researchers noted, however, that this self-harm generally happened before finding whatever solace is to be found in equally mopey company.

Just 2% of the adolescents in the study identified with goth culture, although 8% said they had identified with it at some point in their lives. But it is a strongly non-violent and accepting subculture, which teens may find offers a supportive environment. Michael van Beinum, a psychiatrist for children and adolescents, who advised on the study, agrees: "For some young people with mental health problems, a goth subculture may be attractive as it may allow them to find a community within which it may be easier for their distress to be understood."

Certainly there is no causal relationship between black clothes and violence but acceptance used to be strongly correlated with pointiness of shoes. In these twilight days it is difficult to rely on anything.

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Circlesquare: Fight Sounds Pt. 1

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Exhibit B

In case people were not already convinced by Sphinx Miu von Furstenberg enters more evidence Kate Moss is killing British art. Also, bendy side-views.

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A dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it

The Mint Julep is the venerable "signature drink" of the Kentucky Derby. This year Churchill Downs is offering a premium Mint Julep to raise money for retired thoroughbreds. A sure thing at $1000!

The sweet cocktail will be made with one of the state's finest bourbons and served in a gold-plated cup with a silver straw to the first 50 people willing to put down the cash at the May 6 race. Mint from Morocco, ice from the Arctic Circle and sugar from the South Pacific will put this mint julep in a class of its own, the distillery selling the drink said.

On a related note I learn of yet another Disney bowdlerization. In my future cheertatorship their non-alcoholic abominations will be served only in plastic cups by law.

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How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race

An atomic war could produce an entirely new species of man. Would he be friend - or foe?

"Now hear this Earth! I am Mutant Man, Homo Superior! I have been created by radiation forces out of the loins of you, the human race, after your great terrible Atom War. Yes, I am a step up and beyond you, and I am now your master for better or worse. You created me in your blind, savage, senseless war of atomic radiation. You have only yourselves to blame if I turn out to be your — Frankenstein Monster!"

(via James Hudnall)

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Topless Jessica Alba

Attentive Flea-readers will have noticed the Google ads on the side-bar. It will be no surprise to most to learn the majority of search results arriving at the Flea do so via Google's search engine. I draw the line at writing headlines for the benefit of bots. Such is the difference between writng a blog and publishing a newspaper.

Whether search engines will influence journalism below the headline is uncertain. The natural-language processing algorithms, search experts say, scan the title, headline and at least the first hundred words or so of news articles.

Journalists, they say, would be wise to do a little keyword research to determine the two or three most-searched words that relate to their subject--and then include them in the first few sentences. "That's not something they teach in journalism schools," said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch, an online newsletter. "But in the future, they should."

Having taught aspiring journalists these last few years I can think of a long list of things not taught in journalism schools. Sullivan's observation was in my top ten.

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April 14, 2006

Bastard pop

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The Paul Smith shop in Floral Street and sale shop in Avery Row have provided many basics for the sartorial expression of the Flea. Must add his new Furniture and Curiosity shop at No 9 Albemarle Street, Mayfair to the shopping safari list.

"There will be two rooms, a larger one that is spacious like a blank canvas and a smaller room that will feel a bit crammed with stuff like a market stall. What it absolutely is not is Paul Smith 'Home.' It's about individuality."

Metropolis compares the idea to other designer remixes such as the Pascal Anson ReuniFIcation Project or Fifty by Jeffrey Beers. These are design mash-ups; the "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head" of interiors.

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Born from jets

I have no idea how the Saab Aero X concept car handles but its website is seriously impressive. It is meant to be the car of choice for bendy people with an environmentalist bent, apparently.

Running on 100% ethanol fuel, the two-seat Saab Aero X concept is designed to mimic the shape and look of an airplane cockpit, gaining inspiration from the company's aviation roots.
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Hellgate: London

A trailer features a rich soundtrack, hot Templar armour and a boss battle with Balrog-style flame effects is worth a look. It is always difficult to tell if the animation in a video game trailer is going to match up to actual game-play. But if this example comes anything close, Hellgate: London is going to be on the Flea's wishlist.

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Manye litel wrytynges heere and ther

Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog. It a worke of grete literarye merit (via Forward Biased).

Honestli, yt ys in sum parte sloth that thus driveth me, for ich haue manye litel wrytynges heere and ther, svch as the tale of the tow yonge knightes and perle harboure, and the vita of Seynte Cecile, that wolde nat selle as independente volumes. But package them wyth severale tales of aventure and slapsticke? Bad-a-bynge, bad-a-boume! A devyce of marketynge moore cunnynge than a foxe that has jvst been made doctour of cunnyng at the universitee of Paris! A devyce of marketynge so clever that yt maketh Bill 3ates look lyk Jessica Simpsoun! Ich am sorrye to be so prideful yn myn herte, but ich am really psychede.
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Kano: Nite Nite

Music Video Code provided by MySpace Video Code
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April 13, 2006

A twisted Venus

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The Flea's commitment to comprehensive Kate Moss coverage continues* with this update on the Aphrodite of Addiscombe. Marc Quinn's sculpture is influenced by the multi-limbed goddess Shiva, apparently. Hence the bendiness.

Marc Quinn, who has called his oeuvre The Sphinx, says he was inspired by the 32-year-old model because, "She is a contemporary version of the Sphinx. A mystery. There must be something about her that has clicked with the collective unconscious to make her so ubiquitous, so spirit of the age."

Ahh, quite. But back to bendiness: It turns out the "advanced yoga pose" pictured above was not managed by Kate herself. But that is her face for certain. Ahem.

*That's quite enough of that, thanks. - Ed.

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Reggie and the Full Effect: Love Reality

Bill thinks YouTube makes him a Jedi Master. He has yet to learn it is not just power that matters but whether you use your power for the Dark Side. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*Better quality non-YouTube Love Reality file here, btw.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Portrait of Effilcdar

At 16 years old Daniel Radcliffe, best known as Harry Potter, will be the youngest non-royal to have his portrait displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. Which is an honour even if the portrait does not look much like him. Not that such a minor detail will prevent the Potter hordes from descending upon the Gallery.

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Relaxed and happy

Hard on the news that Kylie Minogue is "hopeful" she will be able to play next year's Glastonbury Festival are some holiday snaps taken by her husband Olivier Martinez. The pop pixie has emerged from cancer therapy even more gamine than before.

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: the first of a new-look Kylie.

Relaxed and happy during a weekend break as a guest of Dolce and Gabbana in Portofino, Kylie shows us just how well she is doing.

She wanted to send a big hello and all her best to the many Kylie.com regulars.
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Beckham don't bend it

Blogospheric rock god, Andrew Ian Dodge's Growing Old Disgracefully is now selling ringtones on-line. Most entrepreneurial of them! England, Please Lose It is playing at GarageBand... Though I cannot imagine it is his favourite part of London, the song somehow makes me homesick for Islington. But then Peckham rhymes better with Beckham.

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Google Calendar

Google Calendar would be a timely addition to Gmail. I have noticed my MS Works Calendar has stopped working after some update or another. Not that I can find this rumoured new calendar in my Gmail account...

Google's service is designed to be easy to use, said Carl Sjogreen, product manager for Google Calendar. As well as being integrated with Gmail, the calendar uses so-called natural language processing technology to simplify how events are added. It means that people can type an entry like "lunch on Sunday 12pm" and the software will automatically add it to the calendar.
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April 12, 2006

Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea

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The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts an exhibition on Modernism and design saying it is the first to do so from "a truly international perspective." "Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939" opens this Friday 14th April and runs until 23rd July.

Many forms of art and design will be represented in Modernism, but as befits a period when the debates surrounding how people should live took centre stage, the exhibition will focus on architecture and design. The range of objects - including architectural, interior, furniture, product, graphic and fashion design as well as painting, sculpture, film, photography, prints, collage - will reflect the period's emphasis on the unity of the arts and the key role of the fine arts in shaping contemporary visual culture.

Which all sounds a bit dry. Hopefully a hit parade of artists, architects and designers will more than off-set lackluster marketing. I am already considering my airfare for a look at work by Francis Picabia, Piet Mondrian, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, László Moholy-Nagy, Marcel Duchamp and a small host of lesser known luminaries.

If the show disappoints you can always duck into Fashion-ology which runs until the 23rd. Though not even the Flea's prodigious social network scored me a ticket for an evening with Anna Piaggi.

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The Streets: When You Wasn't Famous

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Link

Link

(hat tip).

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Lighten up, it's just hobbits

A musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings has opened in Toronto to underwhelming reviews. Conan O'Brien hosts Broadway veteran Nathan Lane who suggests some ways to broaden the show's appeal (hat tip to the Sister of the Flea).

On a tangential note: if you offended by the Brokeback Hobbit trailer TBS is running you probably do not have enough in your life to worry about. Read some news or something.

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Not as nice as our birthday present, no, precious, but nice

Flea-readers will have noticed my consistent defense of the honour of Paris Hilton. But Paris, you are no Marilyn (nsfw).

What better birthday present is there for an 80-year-old billionaire, than a drunken, half-naked Paris Hilton butchering the song Happy Birthday?
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A damp squib

Czech explosives maker Explosia has backed off a lawsuit against Madonna. While her "Semtex Girls" project undoubtedly tramples on Explosia's intellectual property, director Ladislav Lehky says "We can't really prove we suffer a loss from that." Unless, that is, she decides to deal with explosives production.

Explosia would be better advised to keep their powder dry. An anxious world has yet to learn just what Madonna has in mind for her Semtex Girls.

"The Semtex Girl is a girl who is dynamic, a girl who explodes, who doesn't know the meaning of nine to five, a girl who is unstoppable and who doesn't take no for an answer. And has excellent taste.

"Guys can be Semtex Girls too."
Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Et tu YouTube

YouTube content has grown so quickly that I find I am linking to it despite the often poor image quality of their files. Big investors including AP and the Financial Times are now reportedly "sniffing around" the site.

Right now big business can't decide whether to co-opt the site (a la MySpace) or take umbrage at its success. While some studios are using it to seed programming, others - like Saturday Night Live, for example - reject the idea that people might be watching their TV clips on their computer screens.
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April 11, 2006

The Canadian Dream

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Approachable Canadian INXS front-man JD Fortune is learning to say "no" to fans who think they own him and "yes" to his celebrity girlfriend, fellow Canadian Estella Warren.

The 32-year-old singer is seeing fellow Canadian, actor Estella Warren, who stars as his love interest in the clip for the band's new single, Afterglow. Warren, best known for her role in the Planet of The Apes remake, gushed about Fortune in People last week.

She complimented his "acting" skills and said the pair were "really comfortable together and we joke around. ... He is so a rock star, but he's humble and he's beautiful and stunning and sexy and very natural and very talented," she said.

A point that was not clear to me: Estella does not star as JD's love interest in the video because she is his girlfriend. The two hooked up after he wanted her to play his girlfriend in the video. Rock on, JD.

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INXS: Afterglow

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Adicolor

Adidas' "White Out" ad for Adicolor features someone called "Jenna Jameson". Must remember to Google the rest of her oeuvre.

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OmniZero.2

I always figured humanity would lose the coming War With The Machines. But somehow I never expected the machines would just show up and kick my ass.

Posted by the Flea at 08:10 AM | TrackBack (0)

McDonald's

The world's most expensive sandwich. A snip at £85!

The McDonald sandwich - named after its creator Scott McDonald, the chef at London department store Selfridges - is said to be the world's most expensive. Its cost is down to the Wagyu beef that makes up most of the filling, packed in a 24-hour fermented sour dough bread.

Selfridges food and catering director Ewan Venters thinks the McDonald will be a hit with foodies. I think it is rather more likely to be bad news for Kobe's ultrapremium brand. Selfridges is fine but hardly Harvey Nics.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM | TrackBack (0)

April 10, 2006

(S+C) x (B+F)/T = V

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Attentive Flea-readers will not be shocked to learn Kylie Minogue has a perfect posterior (via SondraK).

Few women would claim to have the perfect bottom. But for those in need of reassurance that it is within reach, a scientist has come to the rescue by working out a mathematical formula they believe adds up to the perfect posterior.

The magical figures are (S+C) x (B+F)/T = V. Though the equation looks rather complicated, it is, according to the scientist, simple.
Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | TrackBack (0)

Super Girl frenzy

Danwei TV takes on Hunan TV sensation Super Voice Girl. Next up for Chinese television: Sou Xing ("searching for stars"). You let one reality show on air and the rest of the line-up vanishes.

Posted by the Flea at 10:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

The blankness

Paris Hilton chose British Elle to finally reveal the reason for her feud with Nicole Richie: Nicole is just jealous. Much as I suspected (via Pink is the New Blog). Perhaps more surprising to many is news via Miu von Furstenberg. Hilton's album may not suck after all.

Even cynical journalists such as Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musto, who traveled from New York to Los Angeles to interview Hilton for Out's cover story, begrudgingly admit to being won over by the international socialite and her music. "I've written a lot of negative stuff against her," Musto says. "I came to bury her and I've ended up praising her." Now listen to the praise: "Her fans are not responding to the concept of her fame for fame's sake," he says. "They're responding to her personality. The blankness. I'm not saying it as a diss. She has the quality of allowing any viewer to project whatever they want on her. That's why she transcends all media."
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Hello Waveforms

Ray of Light was one of the few pop albums worth listening to in the long desert of the 1990s. I like Madonna's singing just fine but kudos belongs to her less ultra-famous producer, William Orbit. Such is the difference in credit between front and back of house. Orbit has been making other people sound good for a long time. So long that his fans have had to wait ten years for an all original effort. It was worth the wait.

‘I thought I should do a proper record, to focus people’s attention’ says Orbit explaining why, after over a decade busy with other projects, he returned to the studio to release an album of original material. ‘There’s still something about the album format, even with downloading going on. An album’s a collection of music, something substantial.’

‘Hello Waveform’ is in fact Orbit’s ninth solo effort. After setting the dance scene alight in the 1980’s and early 1990’s with Bassomatic and Torch Song, he went on to become a Grammy award winning producer, working with acts ranging from U2 (‘Electrical Storm’) and Blur (‘13’) to Madonna (‘Ray of Light’). Although the list of his achievements is long and varied, most of us would recognise his name as synonymous with the massive hit single from 2000, ‘Adagio for Strings’."

Contact Music hosts a William Orbit interview and tracks from his new album, Hello Waveform. Best of all is the gorgeous "Spiral" featuring vocals by Sugababes. Samples from the same tunes are also available - with better sound quality - through the player on top of this fancy Orbitmixer.

Posted by the Flea at 10:11 AM | TrackBack (0)

April 08, 2006

Kara Janx

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Flea-fav Kara Janx explains her design process in that devastatingly cute South African accent. Lots of thinking about colour, apparently. Frequent comparisons of her palette to Diane von Furstenberg's use of pattern, and her already iconic wrap dress, suggest a designer to look out for. A video of her decoy catwalk show* for Olympus Fashion Week, while blurry, reveals a collection that should have won her the whole season. Tim Gunn agrees:

To be honest, she could have won the whole thing with that collection. I saw her collection in early January, and I said to her, "This is magnificent. How did this happen?" And she was all, you know, Kara, kind of slumped over and mopey and like, "Oh, you don’t really think so." I was like, "I do. Look at my face!"

Not to worry: with everything from tiger bikinis to a little black dress available on-line she may have already established a bigger brand than last year's winner.

*Meant to keep the audience guessing about which designers had made the final three; the Village Voice saw right through it.

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Depeche Mode: Suffer Well

Not exactly Project Runway but not exactly off topic either: Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Blow You Kisses

Santino Rice is selling his catwalk single "Blow You Kisses" through his blog. I like the single just fine. But what I am after is a copy of "Ode to the Serger" or the Project Runway musical.

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM | TrackBack (0)

Too sexy for Milan, New York and Japan

Dose calls Project Catwalk "nothing more than a carbon copy of Heidi Klum’s Project Runway." Umm, ok. We were expecting Aida or something? I can't wait for whatever Elizabeth Hurley comes up with for her auf Wiedersehen! catch-phrase. And this guy with the extreme tache is already my favourite.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

Tim's Take

Tim Gunn kept a video blog for the second season of Project Runway. Props to Bravo! for the concept and to You Tube for making them easier to access than the show's website. Here are Part I, being on camera; II, on and off camera; III, watching the show; IV, the challenges; V, on the topic of time; VI, "Make it work!"; VII, Raymundo Baltazar and Kirsten Ehrig; VIII, Zulema Griffin and Daniel Franco; IX Andrae Gonzalo, Diana Eng and Kara Janx. Watching all these is a time commitment but a must for Project Runway fans in withdrawal from Season 2. Best insight: Tim explains the disclaimer that runs at the end of each show. Just what is the role of producers in judging each week's catwalk?

Next up... the Tim Gunn Network!

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Physically, I hate myself. Mentally, I'm gorgeous.

My only complaint about Project Jay was that one show, let alone one one-hour show, was not nearly enough Jay McCarroll media. Fans are going to want to know what happened to that Emmy dress, for one thing.

It's too bad he doesn't get more airtime because he always seems to have a lot going on in his life. Much of the episode is Jay scrambling to finish an Emmy dress requested by Runway's host, Heidi Klum, only to have her reject it at the last minute.

Don't think we will forget it, Heidi.

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April 07, 2006

Girl Fight

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Tigarah kicks ass. Here she is rocking the house at Tokyo's second bigggest club, Velfarre.* It sounds like a massive scene. Though Porchboy claims the hip-hop coming out of Senegal these days is "off the hook" so what do I know.

Hipper to be hip-hop Update: Metropolis explores Japanese hip-hop. Another feature interviews "original hip hop DJ" Hideaki Ishii, better known as DJ Krush.

*The biggest being Ageha. Even their Flash animation is bigger.

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The Life of Larry

The Life of Larry (1995) is a fascinating look at the "before" of Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy. Larry and Steve (1996) takes us once step closer to the show we know.

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Pterrific

Ice Age: The Meltdown is a family friendly webgame... and a great way to amaze your cubicle neighbours with your mad flapping skillz.

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM | TrackBack (0)

Rec-room idol

GadgetCandy counts down to the PlayStation 2 release of SingStar Rocks!. This is not your parents' karaoke.

But it’s not just good, clean fun. Oh no. The microphones are specially equipped with little bits of tech that judge your pitch, tone and rhythm to give you a score. Our advice: gather around your mates who fare worst at karaoke, line up the mics and sing your heart out.

Oh, and also start doing those vocal exercises.

One catch: The English language options at the SingStar Rocks! website offer British, Irish, Australian and New Zealand choices. North American Flea-readers may have to wait for their chance at SingStar fame.

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Hell is other people's phobias

I once had to recover the remains of mouse from a friend's closet because she and her husband were petrified of it. No problem. When a dead mouse turned up under my own bed it was a different story: I asked a friend to take it away. It seems to me that many phobias are context-specific. A spider out of doors is not troubling in the same way as the one crawling on the ceiling overhead. In fact, many reasonable fears should not be described as "phobias" at all. A fear of heights can be quite sensible and a fear of sharks equally so given the right circumstances. Plummeting to one's death or being made into a snack is best avoided.

But some phobias are more difficult to explain. Take pen-lids, for example.

Pen-lids: "I have two very odd phobias. I cannot look or go anywhere near sheep, and the other is pen lids. I cannot have a pen lid on my desk in front of me. If I see one at work I have to get a colleague to come and pick it up for me. I cannot even touch it myself."
Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2006

Linda: Malo Ognya

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The chorus to Malo Ognya is stuck in head even though I don't speak more than a word or two of Russian. I found Linda - that's Svetlana Lyvovna Geiman to her mum and dad - while I was looking for Linda Linda at You Tube. Wow, this takes me right back to Mos Eisley days. Good times... Good times.

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Phantom of the Menace

This Darth Vader musical fills my feel good quota for the week.

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A shocking site

Shock Absorber claims to be different from other sports bras. Frankly, I have no idea if this is true. But Shock Absorber's website is definitely different thanks to a possibly not-safe-for-work Bounce-ometer (via Defamer).

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One Got Fat (1963)

With the snow melted it is time to get back on the road. But first I am going to review my bicycle safety in case I run into one of these Planet of the Apes bicycle gangs. Better safe than sorry.

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Weighing on her mind

JK Rowling is fighting for a world where her daughters will not grow up to be "empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones." She is a bit unfair to overpriced handbags and rat-sized dogs but she could not be more right about the important thing. There are a lot of young woman and girls who need help more than they need to be on the cover of a magazine.

"It started in the car on the way to Leavesden film studios. I whiled away part of the journey reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder (which is, of course, the same thing); anyway, there is no other explanation for the shape of her body.

"She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world's fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story.
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He should have known when to run

Friends don't let friends use CGI on their face. The pixel resolution just isn't there yet.

OK … I held back yesterday, but can no longer sit silent on the sidelines knowing there's some guy out there posing as Kenny Rogers.

What is "American Idol" doing to our nation’s beloved musical icons?

A few weeks ago, an alleged Barry Manilow appeared on the show. Now, the show claims Kenny Rogers -- he of the flowing silver mane -– was on this week.

Face facts Update: Bill has more Kenny Rogers media.

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April 05, 2006

Re-Flex: The Politics of Dancing

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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A naughty little mink

Hard as it is to believe, there is a growing faction of Kellie Pickler haters to be found in the byways of "the internet." Some believe her calamari and salmon adventures are a put on meant to garner votes from a credulous American Idol viewing public. All I can do is point Flea-readers to Kellie Pickler's prom dress. Now tell me she is not the real thing.

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Mother Paris

Director of Bollywood hits including Moksham, Janani and Thannal, T. Rajeevnath is reportedly seeking Paris Hilton to star in his forthcoming Mother Teresa bio-pic.

She's on a "shortlist" (of unspecified length) after "a computer-generated image showed a close facial match between the hotel heiress and the Albanian-born nun." The contrast between the two is certainly striking.

While I am delighted to learn I am not alone in my opinion of the much-maligned socialite, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same face matching software that thought Raymond Chandler and the Flea were separated at birth. In some cases, of course, a resemblance is more than skin deep.

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Some enjoy tacos and burritos

One small step for the blogosphere, one giant leap for digestion. The Great Taco Hunt should come in handy for all your Los Angeles taco scene needs (via C. Buddha).

The Burrito Blog is also suggestive of digestive adventure. Take Mr. Serious, for example.

Ray had warned me about the famed, "Mr. Serious" burrito at Los Primos. I had no idea until I saw for myself. The picture doesn't represent its true size. It wasn't my burrito, and I felt rude enough photographing a stranger's food, so I didn't get the nickel as close to the burrito as I should have. Amazingly, the nickel is in the foreground.
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April 04, 2006

Sorted

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David Beckham cannot have everything; where would he put it?

In lines.

"I have got this disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs," confessed the father-of-three. "I'll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there's one too many then I'll put it in another cupboard somewhere. I'll go into a hotel room and before I can relax I have to move all the leaflets and all the books and put them in a drawer."

Given the man's natal chart this sort of behaviour was inevitable; fated, you might say. Revelations of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may also go some way toward explaining David's pants habit if not the difficulties of a rapidly vanishing Victoria (via A Socialite's Life).

Minimum caloric intake Update: Hollywood Tuna hosts more alarming Victoria Beckham imagery. We shall see if these too are obscured by corporate firewalls.

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WigWam: WigWam

Damon Albarn uses his free time for Gorillaz, and this is the best Alex James can come up with. Though it is nice to once again consider the mystery of Betty Boo. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Littler Britain

These Virgin Rail virals should demonstrate subtle differences between ads in North America and the UK.

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Homo Card™

Jeff outlines reasons he took so long to be issued his Homo Card™.

In addition to not having a Macy's charge card, only owning 6 pairs of shoes, & never downloading a single Madonna song, I'm also a complete failure as a homo due to my allergy to musicals. I break out in hives over Sondheim. CATS gives me impetigo. Liza makes me deathly ill.

Good Lord, man. I have a Macy's card and I do not even live in the States, am not certain how many shoes I own, download Madonna mash-ups (latest: "Hung Up On Blue Monday") and treasure the memory of rolling out of the member's bar at the Royal National Theatre in time to see Dame Judi Dench in "A Little Night Music." Admittedly, I am also more of a dog person so that might explain something.* Still. Jeff: Yentl is crossing a line.

*Especially considering I just realized CATS was in block-caps.

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Referenced for years to come

Raymi offers twenty incisive observations on the life of the blogger. Matthew Good counts as an A-list celebrity, apparently.

16. one day i will be very wealthy and more famous than hell and i will leave everybody in the dust and i envision your heads as stepping stones in a filthy river and i am stepping across the river walking on your heads and on the other side of the river are A-List celebrities and they are cheering me on.
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Einstein's chalkboard

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Einstein's notes arrive via the Campblog!

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April 03, 2006

Deconstructing Keira Knightley

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A Flea-reader asks if there is a relationship between deconstruction and cipher systems. Cryptanalysis being more straightforward than poststructuralist theory, he gets cipher systems but does not get deconstruction. His is a not unreasonable inference; after all, to deconstruct something is to take it apart. Indeed, this is close to the way the term is used in fashion. A rigorous usage may be applied to the thought-provoking work of a Vivienne Westwood but generally speaking any old garment intentionally made to look unfinished is often described as "deconstructed." I should admit a less scrupulous usage suggests partially dressed models with bedhead and morning-after make-up (though such is not to complain).

I too have never been able to understand deconstruction... largely a function of deconstruction self-consciously "resisting" the ascription of "meaning" to its "destabilization" of "texts", etc. etc. etc. Reading Jacques Derrida gives me a headache; seemingly endless waffling reliant on bad readings of Plato and critiquing the wrong mistakes in structural analysis. Worse yet is listening to American academics who cannot (or cannot be bothered to) read Derrida and instead use the word "deconstruct" as a synonym for "analyze" when "analyze" would have worked just as well. I shall try to summarize nonetheless. Be patient with me as I get to Keira Knightley's nipple.

The basic idea is that it is a mistake to look for the meaning of a text (be it a novel, a video or a political tract) outside the text itself. It would, for example, make no odds what Madonna has to say about her work because she has no privileged understanding or special insight to offer even as its creator; any comment she has to offer about a particular song is only to add another text independent of the song. Now, I am four-square with Camille Paglia in thinking Madonna should resist the urge to talk about her own work but I do not believe this offers much support for Derrida's case. To him, the problem is not that artists are idiots but that critics have mistakenly looked for meaning in concepts such as truth, beauty, genius or authority that transcend any particular expression of such concepts in the form of a play or a novel. A text, in other words, is meaningful without needing to make an appeal to, or being underpinned by, some transcendental object. This extends not only to the meta-meanings of traditional literary criticism but modern ideas like "class" or "the unconscious."

Deconstruction then is a kind of critique meant to uncover the assumptions in a text that, through their absence, lend the text a false coherence. So, off the top of my head here, the apparent narrative coherence of "Pride and Prejudice" relies on the fact of what we are meant to assume about the meaning of the financial impoverishment, and embarrassment of riches in terms of daughters, that keeps Mrs. Bennet so twitchy. Jane Austen hints at this off the top: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." It is only in so far as readers recognize this "universal truth" that Austen's characters and contexts can make sense. A deconstruction of this assertion, and consequently of the novel (and most literary criticism of the novel) would point out that the Bennets themselves are part of high society, have servants, a large home, are literate, etc. and so forth and that their plight is only relative. The rags to riches romance of Elizabeth Bennet is a kind of fig leaf for a social system dependent on radical inequalities that benefit her and which are only masked further when she finally snags Darcy (sorry to blow the ending there).

Well, this is fine as far as it goes. It could be I have undersold deconstruction here, and there may be more to it than this, but for the most part I read deconstructions of literary texts and they look like warmed over cultural criticism dressed up with extraneous buzzwords. If the obscured meaning of "Pride and Prejudice" is class conflict or unequal gender relations we can get there through a Marxist or feminist analysis and no need to deconstruct anything. Ahh, might say a deconstructionist, but the apparent coherence of the novel can be challenged without making recourse to other texts such as "class" or "woman" which are themselves subject to deconstruction. In which case, I would reply, the text means something without meaning to mean it and this is a formulation we can get to through a psychoanalytic or structuralist reading without suffering Derrida's migraine inducing prose. Not that this would put the slightest dent in deconstructionist sophistry. Talking to these people is a hamster wheel exercise; they have no point to make and so it is impossible to nail them down on one. And the fact their arguments make no sense is smugly proferred as a demonstration of a deconstructive rejection of having to make sense in the first place.* Gahh! Stab! Stab! Stab!

I like things to make sense. For example, I think my Lacanian psychoanalytic reading of Austen is interesting because it suggests something of what lends "Pride and Prejudice" its enduring fascination. Elizabeth has to work through her resistance to the idea that she loves, and consequently wants to marry, Darcy despite the fact that this is exactly what society - and most especially her mother - want her to do. In other words, she must acknowledge the fact she loves Darcy even though it is convenient for her to do so. I believe this is a reasonably clever, if blindingly obvious, reading and potentially useful in explaining the continuing relevance of Austen's novel in reflecting on romantic relationships in our own experience; this despite the varieties of social and cultural distance we have from Regency society (and by "we" I do not include the genteel existence of Flea Towers).

Anyway, the short answer is there is no obvious relationship between cipher systems and deconstruction despite the latter's claims to "decipher" texts. The first are useful and explicable while the second is posturing bullshit. Thank you for your patience: Here is a picture of Keira Knightley's nipple. Intertextuality matters, people.

*As Jacques Derrida put it himself, "I would say that deconstruction loses nothing from admitting that it is impossible." Though I suppose we are not meant to lend his opinion any special weight in the matter.

Deferral of meaning Update: New Flea-readers may be enthralled to learn this celebrity theory feature continues from Of Winona Ryder as Objet Petit a and The dialectics of Alyson Hannigan.

Enlightenment sickness Update: Theseus offers an interesting apologia for Derrida. Though it seems to me his Buddhist reading owes much more to phenomenology (interesting and sound) than to deconstruction (posturing bullshit, see above). Suggested reading: "Biogenetic Structural Theory and the Neurophenomenology of Consciousness" and "Transpersonal anthropology, then and now" both by Flea-mentor Charles Laughlin.

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The Blue Hearts: Linda Linda (Live)

Just what you need for a case of the Mondays... Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Fez-o-rama

Wanting a fez. Especially, I think, a Wooden Tiki Mask fez (via Chapel Perilous).

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Château de Mauvais Goût

Cast your eyes on this history of Jordan and Peter Andre out on the town and then never, ever again complain to me about the Beckham's fashion sense (via Miu).

Some celebrity couples like to ensure that their outfits match when they go out together - no one exemplifies this better than Jordan and Peter who never miss an opportunity to raid the fancy dress closet.
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April 01, 2006

Glorious even to the sober

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Writing from Tokyo, While Peril accounced impending cherry blossoms, "falling-down-drunkness and inescapable karaoke" a couple weeks ago. Now his update from sakura ga oka expresses wonder but a distinct lack of drinking and karaoke reportage.

When I got to the end of the alley from our building and looked up, there they were: clouds of cherry blossoms, like an apparition from some other, purer world, somehow feeling pink without actually looking pink. I may have gasped. It was one of those mono no aware moments that remind you why the Japanese have always regarded the natural surroundings in their native islands as spookily, mysteriously beautiful.

Which does sound wonderful; and if The Economist's cherry blossoms in Washington article is to be believed, hanami (flower-watching) parties are "glorious even to the sober."

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Mylo: Muscle Car

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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In the navy

The submariners of the Republic of China stand ready to guard Taiwan against all comers (via The Taipei Kid).

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Wrapped up in an Enigma

A fully functional ENIGMA Cipher Machine can be yours; a snip at €30k+! (via the Armored Facilities Manager).

Year of construction 1941 by Manufacturer Chiffriermaschinen Gesellschaft Heimsoeth and Rinke, Berlin. The Enigma machine is placed in an oak woodwork case. Three high-quality, all-metal, matched rotors and an Umkehrwalze "B".

While I am sore tempted to get in on that Umkehrwalze "B" action*, Zeekar offers two sensible alternatives in the Facilities Manager's comments. Consider a Curta as a budget-conscious Enigma alternative or cut out the middle-man and make your own paper Enigma machine.

*Making this a German Army and Air Force Enigma.

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Vaffanculo

Debate about the make-up of, and consequently nominations to, the United States Supreme Court are undoubtably important to all Americans - whether or not they happen to be paying attention - and U.S. Supreme Court decisions can have far reaching effects beyond America's borders. That said, can we please give Justice Antonin Scalia a break? I mean, che cazzo stai dicendo...

Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture. ...

Despite Scalia’s insistence that the Sicilian gesture was not offensive and had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald as obscene, the photographer said the newspaper "got the story right." Smith said the jurist "immediately knew he’d made a mistake, and said, ‘You’re not going to print that, are you?’ "
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