June 30, 2006

Just think of England


With the sad news of the deaths of two of Her Majesty's special forces in the course of carrying out arrests in Afghanistan, it is worth calling to mind the exploits of their brothers in days of yore. Coming Anarchy cites an incident from the Malayan Emergency described in "Inside the SAS".

Under Calvert, the Regiment also evolved some startling methods of clandestine warfare. One of these resulted from their discovery that the local prostitutes were demanding payment for their services in bullets and grenades, rather than cash. This ‘currency’ was then passed to the enemy. Calvert’s men were promptly used to pose as clients in order to supply self-destroying ordnance including hand grenades fitted with instantaneous fuses (to kill the users) and exploding bullets which, when fired, served the same purpose.

It is a dirty job, war, but somebody has to do it. The chap pictured above is with the Australian SAS but I hope Flea-readers will allow the liberty as I am certain he would lay down his life for Her Majesty, or just lay down, if such was his duty.

Small sidebar also from Coming Anarchy: India has an airbase in Tajikistan. I had no idea.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (5)

Client: Radio

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Can bad men make good brains do bad things?

Talk about ridiculously easy run-of-the-mill moral dilemmas. Meanwhile, it is Germany v Argentina today: You tell me who to support. Can't they both lose?

On Twin Earth, a brain in a vat is at the wheel of a runaway trolley. There are only two options that the brain can take: the right side of the fork in the track or the left side of the fork. There is no way in sight of derailing or stopping the trolley and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows trolleys. The brain is causally hooked up to the trolley such that the brain can determine the course which the trolley will take.

On the right side of the track there is a single railroad worker, Jones, who will definitely be killed if the brain steers the trolley to the right. If the railman on the right lives, he will go on to kill five men for the sake of killing them, but in doing so will inadvertently save the lives of thirty orphans (one of the five men he will kill is planning to destroy a bridge that the orphans' bus will be crossing later that night). One of the orphans that will be killed would have grown up to become a tyrant who would make good utilitarian men do bad things. Another of the orphans would grow up to become G.E.M. Anscombe, while a third would invent the pop-top can.

This via INDC Journal, from whence my recycled comment. Gordon at Harry's Place has decided that, on balance, it is best to support Germany. And so, God help me, have I.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

June 29, 2006

At the scene of a crime


The Spiderman 3 trailer is now online. Yes, yes, it all looks very impressive and yet I contrive to be underwhelmed. It is not just that I think Bryce Dallas Howard is horrendously miscast as Gwen Stacy. There is something missing in superhero movies* and I am not certain what it is. I shudder to think of the forthcoming hack job Hollywood is certain to make of Alan Moore's Watchmen; arguably the greatest "thinking" comic series ever.

*With the exception of "Heroic Trio" which was fab.

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM | Comments (5)

Early Mesopotamian Incantations and Rituals

I have noticed a staggering - and in most cases ludicrous - inflation in the price of collectible occult books on eBay recently. Most of this stuff is not nearly as rare as its owners, and apparently many eBay buyers, believe it to be. This copy of "Early Mesopotamian Incantations and Rituals," however, is worth every penny. Flea-readers with gambling winnings might consider purchasing it for me. Perhaps I can let a marketing firm pay for it as part of an exciting, time-limited opportunity to be cool and stuff.

This is a very hard to find, fascinating tome titled "Early Mesopotamian Incantations and Rituals" by J. Van Dijk, A. Goetze, and M. I. Hussey. This large format volume (11 3/4 inches by 8 3/4 inches) is filled with illustrations of ancient Babylonian magickal texts and their translations. A true "Necronomicon" of ancient rituals, spells, and lore. Of great value to all scholars or practitioners of the Occult Arts.

Oh wait, no it isn't. The book is still available from Yale University Press for a third the current bid at the time I am writing this. Back to my eBay inflation remarks then.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

June 28, 2006

The Final Countdown


Needs To Be Glassed has awarded Laibach a four-glass rating for their cover of "The Final Countdown". A quick run down of the comments and I think OVP should be glassed for being one of the legions of would be Laibach fans who know nothing about the band beyond the (admittedly brilliant) kitten video by that b3ta chap.

Yes, that's Laibach. It's called "taking the piss", btw; something those glassing folks should be embarrassed to discover they have been outdone at by a bunch of Slovenians. Not that they managed to find the video, either.

Posted by the Flea at 10:17 AM

Unspecified future date

I was thinking of hiring* a public relations, public affairs and strategic communications outfit to promote the Flea. I checked out the Hill & Knowlton website and have decided to give them a miss. It is difficult to put my finger on it but I get the sense they would only alienate and annoy potential readers exactly as much as they do me. There is something twattish about their inukshuk, for example.

*And by "hiring" I mean asking them to promote the Flea for free. It is an exciting opportunity for them!

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

June 27, 2006

Ani DiFranco: 32 Flavors

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Everyone is a Napoleon Update: Ani in concert at Tinley Park.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | TrackBack (0)


"Close your eyes and think of William Shatner. Now think of Matt Damon. Can you see it yet?" Reports have it that Matt Damon has been chosen to play a young Captain Kirk in a forthcoming Star Trek film set for release in 2008. I like Matt Damon just fine but this is madness. I am already imagining a hammy impersonation of Shatner's famous mid-sentence pauses. The prospect of Ben Affleck as Spock does not bear thinking about.

The fault, however, lies not in the casting but in the concept. Given the debacle that was Enterprise, I had assumed the words "prequel" and "Star Trek" would never again be conjoined in the imagination of Paramount. Worst of all is knowing it did not have to be this way. The studio has been sitting on a J. Michael Straczynski and Bryce Zabel "Star Trek: Classic" reboot for two years.

The Mystery Behind the Mission

As noted above and as established in the television history, Kirk was the youngest starship captain in the Federation... but what led to this? We know that the Enterprise was sent out to explore where no human had gone before... but if you stop and think about it for a moment, isn't that an odd assignment... to take one of the finest ships in the fleet, give it to the youngest captain in the Federation, and tell them to just go drive around and see what they can find?

It's peculiar... until you allow for the possibility that they were looking for something specific... something they had to keep secret even from the rest of the crew.

Now that is a story that deserves to be told; that is crying out to be told. All of this plus Tribbles with teeth. The only two words Paramount need to consider are "Battlestar" and "Galactica."

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM

June 26, 2006

Full Length & Fabulous


Beckingham Palace was recently host to a "Full Length & Fabulous" pre-World Cup party event. It turns out Friday's discussion of a the sensitive feelings of the Luftwaffe was more topical than I had thought. Hilary Alexander reports:

It was an amazing evening.Thankfully, the torrential downpours began to peter out by around 6.30, so it wasn't a case of rain stopped play. About 80 per cent of the England Squad were there, with their wives and girlfriends, including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney.

David Cameron and his wife showed up, as did P.Diddy, Will Young, the Duchess of York and her daughter, Beatrice, Ozzy, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Jade Jagger, Joan Collins, Patsy Kensit, Ray Winstone and Christian Slater, among others.

Victoria Beckham looked stunning in a fluorescent yellow gown, one-shouldered and split to the thigh, by Roberto Cavalli. Lulu was a Pocket Venus in a scarlet taffeta Alexander McQueen gown with a huge, 12 foot train. Jodie and Jemma Kidd had both done their nails with Claire's Accessories £4 'falsies', painted like the flag of St George.

Also putting in an appearance were the Blades, a stunt team of former RAF Red Arrows pilots. Which is nice. Unfortunately, the Blades were on hand with their German-engineered Extra 300LPs by preference to a planned flypast by an RAF Memorial Flight including a Second World War Spitfire, a Hurricane and a Lancaster bomber. Which would have been nicer.

The flypast was cancelled at the Beckhams' request after criticism of the use of Second World War aircraft to mark a tournament to be held in Germany.

I understand the Beckhams wanting to avoid negative publicity and as captain of the England team Mr. Posh has a special responsibility. That said, this sort of pandering is as bad as the memorial forgetful history that recently commemorated the engagement of the Red Fleet and the Blue Fleet at Trafalgar. Heaven forbid the Beckhams be accused of doing anything in poor taste.

On a related note, Victoria Beckham was recently spotted on a mysterious visit to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Far from being a mosquito-bitten nothingness at the ass-end of nowhere, "the Peg" is reported to have a thriving arts community. "It's been lovely," Posh observed (with air-kisses).

There will always be an Engerland Update: There was some football played over the weekend too, btw. Despite me stranded in a city full of people offering comment based in the illusion they are watching hockey, England keeps stumbling toward Jerusalem.

The German hordes who stood outside David Beckham's hotel here chanting "You're only here for the weekend" (in English) were proved wrong by the England captain on Sunday, but Beckham and his accidental tourists need to shape up fast or they will be packing their bags next quarter-final weekend. ...

German onlookers revelled in England's travails, chanting "Deutschland" and "Lukas Podolski", the striker whose two goals had propelled the hosts into a quarter-final with Argentina, a game bound to confuse English viewers over who to support. Perhaps the ref.
Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | Comments (6)

Mr. Paris

My latest MySpace find is the work of sound artist and international man of mystery, Mr. Paris. I am rendered speechless by his work. It is like hearing a soundtrack of my life... for the very first time.


Whisky, Martini and Champagne... in this order.

If the Flea was American Update: Spy-Fi is also most excellent.

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2006

Don't mention the war


Babbling Brooks discusses an ostensibly controversial World War II-themed ad campaign by Shepherd Neame. Though given Spitfire ale was released as a Battle of Britain 50th anniversary promotion I cannot see how the subject of the Luftwaffe was to be avoided.

Here's my question: are the ads funny and clever, are they hateful and offensive, or do they fall somewhere in between those two extremes? ...

It's interesting to note that formal complaints were filed about some of the ads, they were pulled from the Underground, but both the German embassy and the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK didn't object to the content.

In the comments, Chris Taylor asks: "If the Germans cannot be bothered to complain, who's raising the ruckus?" An excellent question. I will add another point of my own: The Battle of Britain was a contest between representative democracy and objective evil. Furthermore, it was by most accounts a close run thing. That victory of the light over darkness is worth remembering with a drink or three in honour of the people who fought and won it. If some fifty - or sixty or one hundred - years after the fact we feel like poking fun at German deck-chair lebensraum and continuing German cheating at World Cup football* and some weak-kneed folk do not like it then I find I could not possibly care less.

*Unlike the talented amateurs of the England side, the German team is rumoured to practice. It beggars belief.

White hankerchiefs and bed linens Update: Reuters thinks it is necessary to report that all those German flags at the World Cup are nothing to be alarmed about. In fairness, it is only recently that England flags have been reclaimed from Britain's skinheads and we have had similar problems in tearing the Canadian Red Ensign from the hands of our own racists. Germany is not alone in negotiating the tricky waters that separate patriotism and nationalism.

Posted by the Flea at 11:17 AM | Comments (20)

Lily Allen: Smile

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:11 AM

June 22, 2006

Could lead to dancing


TransBuddha says MSTRKRFT's "Easy Love" is safe for work but "about as subtle as an anvil to the crotch."

Which is to understate the case. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Center Seat

At first I thought it was geeky to be watching this Star Trek New Voyages episode. Then I decided it was geekier how much I wanted a cameo on the show. Geekiest was deciding to write a post arguing the external effects were beautiful but that the director should have resisted a Battlestar Galactica-style hand-held zoom-out because it blows the period homage to ST:TOS.

I am relieved to say there is some news attached to all this. "New Voyages" impressario, James Cawley has a bigger plan in the works: A full-length feature for release on the internets. Ambitious for a fan but a perhaps questionable move career-wise for a television actor.

The film will be directed by Tim Russ, who played the Vulcan Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. It will be shot on high-definition digital video on sets built in a cavernous former garage building in downtown Port Henry. Russ will also recreate his role of Tuvok in the production. Joining him from Voyager will be Garrett Wang, who played Ensign Harry Kim. From the original Star Trek will be Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, and Walter Koenig, who was Ensign Chekov.
Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM

June 21, 2006

I am HIM, it's proven


Flying Spaghetti Monster: Have you been touched by His noodly appendage? If only they had sent me the long-form census this year I would have converted from Jedi to Pastafarian. For one thing, Jedi heaven does not come with a stripper factory and a beer volcano.

Transitioning from other belief systems.

Look, I'm not here to judge you. Well, I am, but it's cool. I know that you may have been raised with another belief system. Finding out I'm the one pulling the strings can be shocking. Some would call it a revelation. But the transistion doesn't need to be as hard as you think. In fact... believing and having faith in me, the FSM, is just as easy as believing in Jesus, Allah, the Easter Bunny, and Intelligent Design.

You see, to have a rational belief all you need is a little support. You have to be able to test it... and if it's testable, it can become a theory. Lets not get to logical here though. Let's just say that if you already believe in any of the aforementioned all powerful dieties, you're set. I have been very careful to make sure that I fit exactly all of the same arguments for their existence.

Fishy Update: Utron points to an FSM bumpersticker offer in the comments. This is the one I am after:


Posted by the Flea at 11:21 AM | Comments (5)

W: Sunday Bloody Sunday

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)

Musée du quai Branly

The Musée du quai Branly opens and with it both Jacques Chirac's mark on the Paris skyline and the latest in a long, long line of racist romantic anti-racism. A name change from the "Museum of Primary Arts" does not change the character of, or the logic behind, the collection.

The project has stirred much controversy, however. Inevitably, ethnologists have decried the décontextualisation of artefacts that were never designed as aesthetic objects, but for practical, mystical or ritual purposes. ...

More awkward, perhaps, is the symbolism of Quai Branly. The permanent collection's exclusive emphasis on traditional artefacts sits uncomfortably with the efforts by younger curators these days, in cities such as Johannesburg, to confront such tribal clichés of Africa. They contest the way African art is ghettoised and exoticised. Contemporary artists deal in tin, metal, recycled industrial materials. They want to show that Africa too can be modern, gritty and urban.

In other words, the Quai Branly collection asks us to consider non-Western "art" as art regardless of the purpose(s) for which these objects were intended in their particular cultures of origin. It presents objects through an allochronic discourse; in a story of an Edenic time-before-time or time-before-history uncorrupted by contact with the West (here represented by American "imperialism" and not an absent historical French imperialism). Finally, and perhaps most odiously, it recontextualizes non-Western "art objects" as part of an homogenous non-Western totality that is also somehow congruent with Nature. An 800-square-metre “vegetation wall" sounds nice but it could not make it more clear what the curators think of the artisans behind the objects. So, props to Chirac for his contribution to the centuries long tradition of the "noble savage" now put into service for a heady cocktail of spite and grandeur.

Posted by the Flea at 11:15 AM

June 20, 2006

Scrumpy and Western


Workers at Derbyshire's Toyota factory at Burnaston show the colours using two 12 hour shifts, 400 cars and some tight parking (via the Raging Kraut, who may safely rely on penalties starting with the next round).

The flag, which can be seen from 1000ft in the air and from miles around, carries with it a heartfelt ‘Good Luck’ to Sven and the Boys from the 4,350 workers at the plant.

The Sven in question being Sven-Goran Eriksson, a man whose heart must feel a small pang going into today's match. Not so for me. As much as I enjoy the Swedish folk music stylings of Abba or various black metal bands there is nothing like England home and beauty. Time for The Wurzels!

Yearrghhh bollacks to all thaaa waaaahnk.If wes din't avve it writen down on ere,we wudn't remembar arf' o' tha shite,as wes always be f*ckered on zider.YARGHAGH

Engerland! Engerland!

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Sisters of Mercy: Dominion

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:31 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2006

Sex and Death 101


Recluse and parallel universe Bride of the Flea, Winona Ryder is set to team up with Daniel Water, the screenwriter and genius responsible for "Heathers."

Ryder will be playing the role of media and urban legend Death Nell in the new film directed by Daniel Waters. She will play one of the many love interests of Australian actor Simon Baker who appear on a list of his past, present and future lovers, reports FemaleFirst.

Not due out until spring of next year, unfortunately. In the meantime, Ryder has written the introduction to a biography of her late godfather, Timothy Leary. So that is something at least.

Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM

All the news that's fit for venting spleen

I am totally with Foamy about the news. I like his friend Germaine too (nsfw language) (via James D. Hudnall).

Posted by the Flea at 11:11 AM


"We Are Everywhere (East)" is the best dance single I have heard in years and quite possibly the best darkwave single ever. Now v. curious to find out more about its German romantigoth creator, Yendri, whose "gothness doesn't even stop when buying cereals and cheese."

Chain D.L.K.: What do you say would set you apart from a lot of the ethereal vocalists out there?

Yendri: Maybe, that I cant sing? Lol, just kidding (or not? ). Well, I often use a similar combination of effects on my voice (like in "Everything Counts", the Depeche Mode cover). That's why many people can easily recognize my songs. But I don't know many other ethereal vocalists.

Yendri thoughtfully posts some pics of her Wave-Gotik-Treffen appearance. Fame and fortune are surely just around the corner.

Like tears in rain Update: The Vatikan closes in a couple weeks meaning Toronto will once again be without the sticky floors and unicolour decor that graced Sanctuary in the beforetime. No word on whether Starbucks is taking over this location too.

Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM | Comments (3)

June 17, 2006

We hardly knew ya


It is official: Billie Piper leaves Doctor Who at the end of season two. Rose Tyler is at least the most important Who Companion since Romana II, arguably the most important ever, and I cannot see how this will be anything but a blow to the series. The linked Beeb article should have a foreshadowing/spoiler warning attached so read at your own risk. The following seems safe to quote.

"It has been an amazing adventure and I can confirm it comes to an end, for now at least, as series two climaxes," the former pop star said. Writer Russell T Davies said the Doctor Who team had created "a stunning exit" for Piper's character.

"The Doctor Who team have had a whole year to plan this final scene," he said. "We will miss Billie and wish her all the success in the world for her future."

Quite right.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM | Comments (3)

Jeff Buckley: Hallelujah

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:42 AM

June 16, 2006



PiaPale... ahh. Mmm.

Yes. Mmm. Writing something...


Debut album in the works apparently. Though I can certainly appreciate her protests, her struggle against being pinned down and categorized as it were, I too would have made the NIN comparison. That said, her voice is much more interesting than Trent Reznor's.

Sounds Like
Hmmm. - Actually I do HATE comparisons to my music because I insist on that it's unique...hmmm....But people say it reminds them of stuff like JoyDevision,NineInchNails,DepecheMode and other 80's electro stuff ...but it reminds me of CompulsorySkin ;-) !!

Quite right. CompulsorySkin is meant to evoke the sense of being unable to escape the skin we all wear plus "it's got a fetishistic meaning as well : Thinking of tight fitting rubber costumes.." Frankly, it hardly bears thinking about at this time of the morning. Ahem.*

*In the interest of full and frank disclosure I should point out PiaPale thinks "Flea rules!!!", referring to my MySpace music presence rather than this original home of the Flea on the internets. A gentleman could hardly take issue with a lady of such evident accomplishment and enthusiasm.

Posted by the Flea at 09:34 AM | Comments (3)

Fred Everything: Friday (w. Kim Aviance performing)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:31 AM

Back to the future

I picked up this article about Aymara language and cognition via Warren Ellis but started my post before clicking through to the original article and consequently was annoyed to discover the authors got to the tag-line first. Should have gone with "Get thee in front of me, Satan!" or something to that effect.

Tell an old Aymara speaker to "face the past!" and you just might get a blank stare in return – because he or she already does. New analysis of the language and gesture of South America's indigenous Aymara people indicates a reverse concept of time.

Contrary to what had been thought a cognitive universal among humans – a spatial metaphor for chronology, based partly on our bodies' orientation and locomotion, that places the future ahead of oneself and the past behind – the Amerindian group locates this imaginary abstraction the other way around: with the past ahead and the future behind.

In fairness, whole Western political movements have been founded and continue to be inspired by much the same conviction.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM

June 15, 2006

Beckham and the Land are One


There has been the usual pissing and moaning from the Scots as some choose to support Trinidad & Tobago this afternoon. Or rather, as they continue to support anyone against England. In so doing they are inauthentic supporters but 100% authentic twats. At least their freshly purchased T&T strip will make them easy to identify.

Wardytron offers a compelling diagnosis over at Harry's Place.

If one wanted to be cruel - which of course one doesn't - one might suggest that this kind of behaviour, somewhat lacking as it is in magnanimity, hinted at an inferiority complex, or that it was a poor substitute for actually being at a World Cup. Not me though - I'm happy for people to support whoever they want, and think it's ridiculous that Scottish politicians should feel obliged to support England. But perhaps in future, in order to avoid all these petty arguments and give them someone they can all support, maybe the Scots should form a football team of their own so that they can enjoy the World Cup like everyone else.

Side against England and you side against Beckham, d'ya hear me? That's Mr. Posh Spice! Engerland! Engerland!

By Jingo Update: Harry Hutton's World Cup Diary considers a related issue:

Apparently, a lot of black Britons are supporting African teams in this tournament. A couple of World Cups ago I was in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians were all cheering for Tunisia and Morocco, and dusty places generally. Yet Europeans don’t seem to be afflicted by this kind of ethnic solidarity. At any rate, when Sweden score I don’t think, “Yes! Another victory for the whites!”

The Great Escape Update: Closer than it should have been, lads!

Posted by the Flea at 10:21 AM | Comments (8)

Best band slogan ever

"boredom+pc+loser = slore"... ha! Sweet tracks too.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

June 14, 2006

Paris Hilton: Stars Are Blind


This simple formula explains much of the hostility toward Paris Hilton to be found on the internets:

Grumpy people = jealous & dislike Paris.
Happy people = empathize & identify w. Paris.

If there is any justice her happy little ditty will be a massive summertime hit. Even though the gods are crazy! Even though the stars are blind! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*Video may not contain actual dancing.

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM | Comments (6)

The Words Are Dying

The word love: How many times has it been erased or deleted or burned? And there are some words we should get rid of; like gothtard. Just because I'm introspective and I walk among the shadows it doesn't mean I can't hear you (w. a partial, grudging hat tip to Ardolino, whose heart is two sizes too small).

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM | Comments (4)

Fatwa Against False Jedi reissued

Dorkafork explains a number of problems with the forthcoming re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy. The biggest problem being that George Lucas needs to be glassed.

Non-technical version: This isn’t much of an exaggeration.
Technical version: Setting aside fans’ desires for fancy remastering or some HD-DVD release, which of course will not happen, it will even be crappy by normal DVD standards. No anamorphic widescreen. If you have one of those widescreen TVs, it will suck.

A steal at only ninety bucks! On a related note, Warren Ellis passes on some Kurosawa apocrypha.

Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM

June 13, 2006



Harry Hutton, who is a bit of a grump, does not enjoy "Atrevete-te" by Calle 13, claiming it exhibits "maximum facetiousness." Whereas I think the video has much to recommend it (and it is a catchy tune, besides). But then I have not run the title through Babelfish so it is possibly more vulgar than I imagine it to be.

Every coffee shop, bar, car radio and supermarket is currently playing it, and if I’m exposed to much more I’m going to have a fit and bite someone.
Posted by the Flea at 11:24 AM

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

It is a little sad how much I enjoyed this without it ever having crossed my mind it was possible in the first place (via James D. Hudnall). Another production along similar lines underlines my point about the nerd/nerd girl ratio even en espagnol. Also bitchin': Star Trek vs. Star Wars vs. Babylon 5.

Humping Stormtrooper Update: Gnarls Barkley at the MTV Music Awards. Chewie is on drums (via Agent Bedhead).

Posted by the Flea at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)

Equal Protection for Mutants

Ivan Ludmer considers possible mutant legislation in light of the 14th Amendment. Though he goes on to point out that determining equal protection under the Constitution is only the first step (via comments at Gen-X at 40).

The first question is what effects laws involving mutants might have. In the first movie, the government attempted to enact a mutant registration act, and subsequent movies suggested that the government might also attempt to deprive mutants of the ability to mutate, or the right to use the mutation. I will examine each in turn.

The clearest point of challenge to a mutant registration act would be the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The first question in Equal Protection analysis is, of course, what group is being classified and is it a suspect class? Here, the group being classified is 'mutants.' We have no precedent as to what level of scrutiny applies to classifications involving mutants, so we have to look to some tools the Supreme Court has traditionally used to determine that.
Posted by the Flea at 11:19 AM

June 12, 2006

The Theatre of the World


Alex Butterworth reviews Peter Marshall's biography of Rudolf II Habsburg and believes it could have been better structured. That said, the Hermetic history of Renaissance Prague represents an island of exploration beset by the various and competing religious bigotries of the day. This brief interregnum from the twin kings of war and superstition deserves wider contemporary recognition.

The story of Rudolf's life is a compelling one. Schooled at the convent-like Spanish court of his pious uncle, Phillip II, Rudolf rebelled at its stifling dogmatism. Whatever books the pope proscribed, he would read; while Phillip led his nephews to kiss the saints' bones in his vast and macabre reliquary, once crowned as emperor, Rudolf would assemble a cabinet of curiosities and invite savants to join him in Prague to search for the unifying truths that lay concealed behind the surface of reality.

The result was a scintillating concentration of talent: Queen Elizabeth's magus, John Dee, the brilliant and subversive philosopher Giordano Bruno and, latterly, the revolutionary astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, all plunged at one time or another into the ferment of activity.

It is a tragedy, of course, because we know from the start that the Inquisition is not yet finished its work (and heck, some of its latter-day sympathizers can still make common cause with a dictatorship against an heretical film). Flea-readers will be delighted by a report that today's Prague is becoming a Gothic wonderland.

Monadic Update: That is John Dee, the original 007, pictured above, btw.

Posted by the Flea at 11:23 AM

Skinny Puppy: Warlock

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (nsfw due to gore). This is the "banned" video; actually unreleasable due to massive copyright infringement.

Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 10, 2006

England 1 : Paraguay 0


Posted by the Flea at 12:07 PM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2006

Eternal returns


The latest trailer for the forthcoming Superman reboot underlines his role as latter-day Christ-figure. Neil Gaiman discusses the pop culture demi-god standing "between humanity and a capricious universe" in the June issue of Wired.

About a decade ago, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman comic strips in the 1940s and ‘50s, published one of the great Odd Books of our time. In An Unlikely Prophet, reissued in paperback this spring, Schwartz writes that Superman is real. He is a tulpa, a Tibetan word for a being brought to life through thought and willpower. Schwartz also says a Hawaiian kahuna told him that Superman once traveled 2,000 years back in time to keep the island chain from being destroyed by volcanic activity.

Which is a neat idea. The tulpa has underlined most of the last century's psychologized "magickal" practice. This particularly through the influence of one-time Crowley devotee, Austin Osman Spare and a more recent trend toward "chaos magick"; itself strongly indebted to pop-culture influences including comics and the work of Neil Gaiman. Much as the rest of a secularized society only half-believes in much of anything, thinking of spirits and such as "thought-forms" allows would-be magick-practitioners to believe without believing. Where our cognized environments are thought to be ultimately unknowable except as projections of internal psychic dramas there is no reason for make-believe to be any less real than anything else.* Reading Gaiman's piece now I think back to an argument with an ex about the relative importance of the Bible and the Marvel Multiverse. I argued that the Bible's influence was obviously greater if only because so much of the Marvel Multiverse is dependent upon it for its inspiration. Now I wonder. Much of the New Testament, and so much of the myth that has grown up around what is actually written in it, is derivative of Mithraic myth and mystery. The absence of a local Temple of Mithras suggests a derivative story can become far more influential than its inspiration.

It is, however, not thought-forms but Gaiman's closing observation which caught my attention. Gaiman argues the difference between Superman and other superheroes is not to be found in Superman's specific abilities but in his relationship to his alter-ego, Clark Kent. Where Spiderman is really Peter Parker in super-drag and Batman is really Bruce Wayne on a psychotic jag, Clark Kent is a disguise for the real - super - man. I think Gaiman is mistaken. Clark Kent may really be Superman but Superman is in turn "only" a nick-name for his real Kryptonian name, Kal-El (and even more originally, Kal-L).**

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Kal-El: the science-fiction of the DC Comics continuity allows us to keep our angels without the bother of believing in them too carefully. Kal-El is a special kind of angel, however; the kind that actively intervenes on behalf of a humanity to which his father's aims were often at best ambivalent. The kind that dies and is brought back from the dead to save humanity again and again. This Christology has both the strength of familiarity and the reassurance its inspiration lends to so many, including many in the comic character's audience. To me this perfection - and not kryptonite - is the true weakness of the character. What drama is possible for a character who cannot fail, who cannot be even witlessly cruel or unkind and who cannot properly die? Peter Parker's teenage angst - and not Lex Luthor - is Superman's antithesis.*** I have expressed my frustration with the idea of Superman Returns and wondered what the latest retelling could possibly express in the story that has not been expressed before. Perhaps I was wrong to think of the Superman story as fiction in the first place. The latest film is less a reinterpretation than a re-enactment; not an action movie but a nativity play.

All of which leads me to thoughts about the latest X-Men effort. I have been spared quite a bit of effort myself because k-punk has already done the heavy lifting. "'Father, can't you see I'm burning? The Death Drive in X-Men: The Last Stand" can be found here while "Phoenix as Symptom", his gracious reply to my questions about the first piece, can be found here (spoiler warning). An executive summary: the truth of these identities lies not in the public or the obscene mask but in the Spaltung - the split - between them.

In other words, there is no authentic self of any kind; what is authentic is not either Jean or Phoenix but the spaltung. There is no Jean without (the repression of) Phoenix. At the same time, though, there is a radical asymmetry; Phoenix (as avatar of the Death Drive) is eternal because undead, whereas Jean is a particular mortal.

This echoes the non-Euclidean horrors of H.P. Lovecraft's alien and demonic entities, existing "not in the spaces known to us, but between them. They walk calm and primal, of no dimensions, and to us unseen." Scarier even than the reassuring horror of the Batman.

*I once wrote a piece called "Infernalism, the power of positive thinking and you"; a critique of Aleister Crowley's introduction to the Goetia (sometimes misattributed by his followers to Michael Aquino after he wrote a response to my article). My central point was a demand that if I was going to go tinkering with damned books for raising demons the minimum I wanted for the trouble was spiders bursting out of people's faces and so forth; not another self-help manual from the mind-body-spirit section.

**Things get tricky here. "Superman" is a side-effect, perhaps intended by his father, of Kal-El living in the light of Earth's sun and Clark Kent an equally contingent performance meant to allow Kal-El to lead "a normal life" on Earth. This is quite different than the emergent personae of Spiderman and Batman, expressions of powers developed in adolescence or the consequence of childhood trauma respectively. Kal-El may have an alter-ego but I suspect he would need to travel back in time and find an analyst on Krypton to explore it. The computers and Kryptonian recordings at the Fortress of Solitude tend to toward pronouncements of the symbolic law and not introspection and are unlikely to help him out much.

***Which is another way of saying that the Marvel Multiverse and not "the real world" is the antithesis of the DC Continuity.

Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM | Comments (6)

Psychic TV: Godstar

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:07 AM | TrackBack (0)

Scheissensnacken mit saurschwein

I am delighted to present the first of a new occasional Flea-feature: Ask Benita. Producer, raconteuse and stone-cold fox; Benita Rowley is Toronto's leading enthusiast for German compound words and expressions. I recently had the opportunity to ask Benita to direct you, the Flea-reader, to the correct expression for "the feeling of embarrassment experienced in grocery-store check-out lines when the person behind you is buying healthy food and you are not."

Despite computer difficulties leading to feeling a touch of angst mit Homicidische-technologische, Benita was kind enough to reply:

The phrase you are looking for is "scheissensnacken mit saurschwein" which means, roughly, "the self-conscious, piglike feeling you get when you realize that the only way to redeem your choice of food in your junk-laden cart is to sh*t it out afterwards." Those Germans!

Übersetzung ist Vitamin B2!

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM

June 08, 2006

Lindi Ortega


Just listen to everything. But especially "Coffee Shops"... Angelic. Heartbreaking. Wow. DurhamRegion.com finds out more:

"Last year I was the lead singer in a ska-punk band," Ortega says while baking cupcakes. "I didn't want to be a singer-songwriter anymore because I tried so hard for so long and nothing seemed to be happening. But people kept telling me, 'What are you doing? This isn't you.'

"People kept pushing and prodding and finally I saw the light," she adds. "I had to start from scratch again. So starting from scratch, it was about dang time I released another album."

Mmm. Cupcakes.

Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM | Comments (1)

Wave-Gotik-Treffen update

The BBC has images from the recent Wave Gothic Meeting in Leipzig. The yellow face, it burns us!

Posted by the Flea at 09:37 AM

The Antikythera mechanism

Michael Wright, curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, has deployed linear tomography to produce the best ever imagery of the remaining inner workings of the Antikythera mechanism. Recovered by a sponge diver in 1900 in the wreck of an ancient cargo ship, the device has long been thought to have been an astronomical computer. Wright's analysis appears to prove the case.

Since so little of the mechanism survives, some guesswork is unavoidable. But Mr Wright noticed a fixed boss at the centre of the mechanism's main wheel. To his instrument-maker's eye, this was suggestive of a fixed central gear around which other moving gears could rotate. This does away with the need for Price's reversal mechanism and leads to the idea that the device was specifically designed to model a particular form of “epicyclic” motion.

The Greeks believed in an earth-centric universe and accounted for celestial bodies' motions using elaborate models based on epicycles, in which each body describes a circle (the epicycle) around a point that itself moves in a circle around the earth. Mr Wright found evidence that the Antikythera mechanism would have been able to reproduce the motions of the sun and moon accurately, using an epicyclic model devised by Hipparchus, and of the planets Mercury and Venus, using an epicyclic model derived by Apollonius of Perga. (These models, which predate the mechanism, were subsequently incorporated into the work of Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD.)
Posted by the Flea at 09:33 AM

June 07, 2006

Never mind the bollards


The last time I was on Parliament Hill in Ottawa I noted an almost complete absence of barriers preventing someone from, for example, driving a truck full of explosives up to and under the Peace Tower and, say, detonating it. The same is true for any number of attractive structures in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere protected by nothing more than the curb and wishful thinking.

My impression is that the United States federal government has twigged to the possibility in a way Canada's has not; something to do with skills in connecting the dots, apparently. The short-term response in Washington, D.C. has been practical if aesthetically unsatisfying. Concrete highway barriers do the job - and are better than nothing - but turning our great public buildings into armed camps presents a poor face for, and is arguably debilitating to, our democracy.

Fortunately, there is a simple and - critical for budget-conscious Canadians - parsimonious alternative way to keep vehicles away from buildings without resorting to concrete moats. That alternative is the bollard. These are all over the landscape in London, no stranger to the explosive attentions of a variety of activists and spokesploders for the purportedly oppressed. Yet they are almost invisible because they blend in with the rest of the ironwork, street lighting and traffic signage. No surprise when their origins are considered. Many of the originals were spiked cannon confiscated from Napoleon's army at Waterloo and put to decorative effect in the streets of London. That is, if I have remembered the story correctly. Bollards can be mysterious relative to other public furniture. So, two fingers up to Napoleon instead of closing our eyes, sticking our fingers in our ears and waiting for the dust to settle. Traditional bollards would blend right in with the mock Gothic of Canada's Parliament Buildings and modernist iterations would make an attractive addition to much of Toronto's downtown core. They present no impediment to pedestrians but keep traffic in the street. This is a sensible precaution considering cars have been known to accidentally make their way on to the sidewalk even when not piloted by frothing at the mouth death cultists. Bollards also come in retractable varieties suitable for preventing just anyone from driving onto Parliament Hill in case anyone, you know, thinks that might not be a bad idea.

Now, obviously, stopping a truck is a different proposition than stopping a maniac with a bomb strapped around his waist. And the best security at the door will have trouble stopping that same maniac from detonating himself in the line-up for the security check. There is a limit to what we can do. But as is so often the case the perfect is the enemy of the good and in this instance doing something is so much better than doing nothing. If not for the competence of our security services, and whatever angels watch over this hard country, we might have had to learn this the hard way. There is plenty of time for bad luck yet. As has often been pointed out: Our luck only has to fail us once. In the meantime, I quite like the look of these Victory Bollards (pictured above).

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

Underworld: Two Months Off

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


"Here Comes the Rain Again": Wow. This is a stunning Eurythmics cover.

Lorna Doone Update: The original.

Posted by the Flea at 10:37 AM

The empire that was in colour

The biggest surprise for first time time-travellers is discovering everything is still in colour. Blindingly obvious if you think about it but a jarring experience nonetheless. That and the funny shoes. Florida Cracker links to an exhibit of the work of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Extraordinary, clever stuff (via INDC Journal).

The Library of Congress has an online exhibit of the glorious, mindblowing work of color photography pioneer Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Made during a photographic survey of the Russian Empire for Tsar Nicholas II, these photos from a hundred years ago leap off the page with their brilliance. Using a camera of his own design, he would take three shots of the subject using red, green, and blue filters. It's breathtaking work from a bygone era.
Posted by the Flea at 10:34 AM

June 06, 2006

The Omen curse


The Guardian reports Guildford cathedral's dean, Victor Stock is fretting about an "Omen curse", that is to say thirty years of bad publicity for the place in the wake of occult horror classic "The Omen". Though I would have thought moaning about it to the press to be counter-productive in so far as one wished to avoid underlining the connection. Particularly so with the release of a remake shot not in Surrey but in Prague.

Stock believes that The Omen should never have been produced and has urged audiences to stay away from director John Moore's new version, released this week, which stars Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Michael Gambon and Pete Postlethwaite. The film follows the assimilation of the 'son of the Devil', Damien, into an ordinary family, who are soon the centre of tragic and bizarre events. The story takes its inspiration from the Bible's Book of Revelation which purportedly predicts the rise of the Antichrist.

This is all a bit rich. First off, is this not exactly the sort of troubling news a Church meant to believe in it should want to draw as much attention to as is humanly possible? I may think Revelation is barking nonsense but it is remotely possible the Dean of Guildford Cathedral is meant not to. Second, and if Wikipedia may be relied upon in this instance, a golden archangel weather-vane was added to the Cathedral as a visual element for the original "Omen". The congregation liked it so much they decided to keep it once filming was done (it now doubles as a "visually sensitive" antenna).

Dean Stock and I are at least in lock-step agreement about the virtue of staying away from this remake. A remastered, rerelease of the original for today's auspicious 6/6/06 date would have been clever and respectful. Using Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles as grotesque meat-puppets in a scene-by-scene remake is just panto without the jolly hockey sticks and the warm glow of gin, tonic and good company. "Michael Gambon should know better." Quite right.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM | Comments (2)

Peter Murphy: Cuts You Up

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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

Jen Gloeckner

"Only 1": Wow.*

*The Flea at MySpace: Now in the top eight at Babble and Beat Magazine!

Posted by the Flea at 09:42 AM

The Devil's Avocado

"We have unalterable principles too and on these we won't compromise."
- Christopher Hitchens

The Guardian hosts a blasphemy debate featuring Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and the formidable Joan Bakewell as moderator. All this at the Hay Festival, a must see annual event for the hypothetical better organized Flea. The debate, more of a conversation really, circles around "the boundaries of freedom of speech, religious tolerance, multiculturalism and orthodoxy." Also, swearing and off-colour references to sexuality. Well worth the time it takes to sit through despite an irritating humming noise in the audio. I have been spoiled by Sound Forge 8 and now want to rerecord everything I listen to...

I have repeatedly mentioned my attachment to Hitchens as a role-model for "premature curmudgeons" everywhere but Stephen Fry holds his own. My favourite line is his. Fry observes that people say 'I'm offended by that.' His reply: "Well so f*cking what?" Hitchens' most important point speaks to the heart of the problem we face as tolerant societies seeking the right balance for addressing ideologies of absolute intolerance. If we ban blasphemy we will ban heresy next.

What did Ravana and Sita really get up to Update: Then again some people just enjoy protesting.

And the tragedy is that because we give in to anybody who protests loudly enough, we risk becoming an illiberal state, held to ransom by any nutcase who claims that we have insulted his religion.
Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM

June 05, 2006



Thanks to Rue, I knew about Hex before coming across this BBC America promotion for the show's first season. I am making my way through season two... don't want to watch the whole thing at once and have nothing left. Think Buffy but British (and hence sex, drugs and demonology). While I am obsessed with everything about the show (ahh, to be at Flea Towers in the springtime) I am particularly taken with Laura Pyper as Ella Dee (above left). Unfortunately for BBC America viewers she does not turn up until season two. Not to worry. Thelma is the best new tv character since forever (above right; would-be Flea, Azazael is above centre).

Posted by the Flea at 08:13 AM | Comments (2)

Smashing Pumpkins: Ava Adore

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2006

Saturday night's all right for (more than) blogging

Due to my "blogging addiction" I have decided to ease back on the weekend posting. I mean, if you take the blogging (and the floozies and the booze) out of the Flea: What's left?

The story of Coralie, UK model and Loaded celebrity trollop, details her problems with an addiction to the sex. There may be some pointers here. I shall certainly remember it the next time a Brit makes a funny remark about Jerry Springer, Oprah or California self-help culture (nsfw due to nipples, faux lesbianism) (hat tip to Bill who has been searching for teh pr0n again).

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

June 02, 2006

Death is just an upgrade


In the future, when gene-hacking is sort of cool and cyberpunk, films like The Gene Generation will be just an excuse to see Bai Ling in latex. And the future, my friends, is now. Some say fight the future. The Flea says bring it on.

In a futuristic world, Michelle lives everyday battling with DNA Hackers who use their skills to hack into people's bodies and kill them. She is an assassin, battling her past demons and trying to keep her younger and extroverted brother, Jackie, out of trouble. When Jackie gets involved in a petty crime of robbery, he propels himself into the world of DNA Hackers, Shylocks (Loan Sharks) and Gang Fights.

Umm, have we not dispensed with the idea it is ok to call loan-sharks "Shylocks"? Apparently not.

Posted by the Flea at 10:44 AM

Praga Khan: Love (Live)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:41 AM | TrackBack (0)

Kylie (just an update)

Egotastic! claims Kylie Minogue looks ridiculous which, while harsh, is a not unfair assessment of this particular outfit. Which is all to say nobody is perfect. Better news is that La Minogue is confirmed for Glastonbury and hopefully with none of the smart remarks the trendies were making last year (hat tip to SondraK).

Posted by the Flea at 10:37 AM

M80 Stiletto

The Flea will soon take crime-fighting to the waters of Lake Ontario with this M80 Stiletto (with a hat tip to the Armored Facilities Manager).

The M80 Stiletto project is funded by the Office of Force Transformation through Naval Surface Warfare Center,Carderock Division, to design and fabricate an 80 foot Stiletto demonstration hull reflecting the proprietary M-hull design as part of the Office of Force Transformations (OFT) distributed networked forces initiative.

Yes, and also for impressing the ladies.

Posted by the Flea at 10:31 AM

Rhetorical television

Warren Ellis increases my vocabulary with "rhetorical television"; a most useful expression and one with echoes in the smarter parts of the blogosphere (if in comics not so much).

There’s a thing that’s sometimes called “rhetorical television”: where someone walks around on screen, basically, and tells you what they think on a given topic. Here’s how I perceive the world, they say, and here’s the history and the evidence to back it up. It’s what we in Britain call Reithian, after Lord Reith of the BBC; the idea that tv can be both compelling and educational.
Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM

June 01, 2006

Mona Lisa shout out


Acoustics expert, Matsumi Suzuki has produced a simulation of the Mona Lisa's voice (and Leonardo's as well).

Dr Matsumi Suzuki, who generally uses his skills to help with criminal investigations, measured the face and hands of Leonardo da Vinci's famous 16th century portrait to estimate her height at 168 cm and create a model of her skull.

"Once we have that, we can create a voice very similar to that of the person concerned," Suzuki told Reuters in an interview at his Tokyo office last week. "We have recreated the voices of a lot of famous people that were very close to the real thing and have been used in film dubbing."

""I am the Mona Lisa. My true identity is shrouded in mystery," she says. One mystery being how this mediocre effort became what is surely the most over-rated portrait in history.

Posted by the Flea at 09:57 AM | Comments (4)

Juana Molina

"Micael". Wow.

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

Victorian spiritualism re-enactment society

I think it is time Toronto had its own Victorian spiritualism re-enactment society.

Posted by the Flea at 09:51 AM

We're here. We're superpowered. Get used to it.

Recent revelations that X-Man Colossus is gay - and the less serious revelation of Brokeback Mutant - suggest change is in the air at Marvel Comics. They are not alone. James D. Hudnall reports a DC drive to "diversify" the ethnic identity and sexual orientation of their characters. Central to the scheme is a lipstick lesbian Batwoman.

And isn’t it fascinating that every lesbian on the media always has to be a lipstick lesbian? It would be more realistic and interesting, if they had her be butch. Now that’s daring. After all, if you want to be rough and tumble like Batman, you can’t worry too much about your looks.

Exactly. Though having pretty much assumed Batman himself is gay, I fail to see how this Batwoman reboot takes the franchise in a new direction. Ace of Spades HQ underlines the question of just how edgy a lipstick lesbian Batwoman is likely to be.

It's kind of lame to just have a new Batman, only this time, she's a chick. And a "buxom, lipstick lesbian socialite." Okay, admittedly, that last part has potential, but come on, you know they're not going to have any fun with this. As most gay characters are portrayed, she'll be about as sexually adventurous as a 88-year-old Oklahoma deacon.

Ace points to a rather more problematical development in the DC line-up: a new team of PRC superheroes. Not only are we meant to side with people fighting for the mainland Chinese "communist" government but the super-breeding powers of two of the team suggest a jaw-dropping racism. Hardly a progressive rhetorical move.

L'esprit de l'escalier Update: Admittedly, they don't call it "lesbian bed death" for nothing.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM