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".
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.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Note to marketing firms: If you want me to write about your client's new cell phone or your client's "real" beer you should know I am radically open to payola offers. The catch is that you are going to have to offer me some, for example, cash. Hence the "payola" as in pay me. This as opposed to, say, treating me like I should be so honoured by the mere prospect of participating in a real live ad campaign for your client's product that I should call you at weird hours. Or that I should gleefully take an advance peak at your exciting new website and link to it with my "6" Google PageRank. For free.
Now that I think of it the other catch is that, knowing me as I do (and o how I do), I will in all probability mock you and your product or service. This as I announce to Flea-readers that you are paying me to talk about you and/or it. Hey, think of it as reverse buzz marketing! But if you want to me promote your product for free you can rely on only one thing: My being torn between naming and shaming you and my reluctance to inadvertently direct any traffic your client's way by doing so. For the moment, I shall have to content myself with making sly observations about your behaviour at an unspecified future date.
Actually, that crack about Canadian beer is not quite fair. Steam Whistle is a Canadian beer brewed in Toronto according to the Bavarian purity act of 1516. It is as good a pilsener as I have had anywhere. In fact, I stopped going to my favourite bar after they dropped Steam Whistle as I realized I could not expose myself to the migraine inducing preservatives that go into most Canadian "beers." I cannot recommend Steam Whistle more highly to anyone in search of a real pilsener in the Toronto area and, for what it is worth, I am delighted to say so gratis. Though if Steam Whistle had sent me an email (other than they ones I receive from being subscribed to their mailing list) I would have been delighted to promote their product.
As for this supposed "real" ------- BEER? I am already left with a sour taste in my mouth; the sour taste of spam.
Aftertaste Update: I have sent the following brilliant marketing suggestion to the makers of BEER.
The Flea was delighted by news of the (re)marriage of Nicole Kidman, Australia's second greatest contributor to contemporary popular culture. She looked lovely, seems happy and perhaps above all has finally had a proper wedding in this her sort of second marriage. I was left with one question, however: How did Australia's second most important cultural export manage to re-marry in a Catholic church? The BBC claims there was no need for an annulment.
And quite right too. Though critics of same-sex marriage might best remember the Catholic Church may have the same opinion of your wedding vows. No word on what Australian or Californian tax-payers - particularly gay tax-payers - might think of Father Coleman's sophistry when they have been asked to subsidize the Cruise/Kidman marriage for ten years.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
Everyone is a Napoleon Update: Ani in concert at Tinley Park.
"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.
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."
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:
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.
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.
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.
If the Flea was American Update: Spy-Fi is also most excellent.
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.
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.
Scott Adams considers people who tell him they enjoy movies but do not enjoy television. Chances are these are people who do not have a digital video recorder, are too thick to have found any good shows or are lying.
True dat. Not trying but lying. Though I think self-professed tv-haters are a reasonably complicated kind of liar; the same kind that constantly publish whiny posts to their blogs about how blogging is stupid and nobody should read blogs (thereby ably demonstrating the point). I think it is a peculiarly Calvinist variety of mental and social retardation though Puritans of all stripes can join in the fun. Or rather, they cannot properly join in and enjoy themselves in anything and consequently neither must anyone else. This same developmentally stunted and antisocial reaction holds for their views on gambling, smoking, drinking and the sex.
No, give me Catholicism any day*: Feel guilty about it if you must - and o how you must - but for the love of God enjoy yourself. If even that is not possible I suggest the immortal advice of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to would be suicides. If you find you cannot man it up then please do the rest of us the courtesy of getting on with it and putting yourself out of our misery.
*In my case, Catholicism Lite via the Church of England.
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.
Christopher Hitchens ponders fellatio in his latest Vanity Fair installment.
Which is all very interesting regarding things to do in the morning viz. breakfast prepartion but all this talk of food leaves me with a question. If blowjobs are "as American as apple pie" what might be said of Canadians? Britain is easy as spanking leaps to mind but thinking of Canada only conjures up images of maple syrup, two-fours and the mighty beaver.
Emergency landing Update: A German farmer was left with a poor impression following a flying visit by Paris Hilton.
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.
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.
Fishy Update: Utron points to an FSM bumpersticker offer in the comments. This is the one I am after:
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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.
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.
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 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!
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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."
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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.
In fairness, whole Western political movements have been founded and continue to be inspired by much the same conviction.
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.
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:
The Great Escape Update: Closer than it should have been, lads!
"boredom+pc+loser = slore"... ha! Sweet tracks too.
And Wilford Brimley is in my extended network. That's right... I said eat those Quaker Oats!
Virtual society Update: Can this be Nicole Kidman's MySpace? Must send out a friend request at once!
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.
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).
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.
A steal at only ninety bucks! On a related note, Warren Ellis passes on some Kurosawa apocrypha.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Saudi religious police have reportedly decided to step up their witch hunt. Just so we are perfectly clear: These are the same people the Canadian establishment has sided with against some Danish cartoonists. Cartoons being offensive while terminating witches is of insufficient interest to merit comment from our great and good.
This is reported in Reuters "Oddly Enough" news section. Because a modern state murdering people for casting horoscopes is, like, weird and not, say, monstrous.
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.
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.
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.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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:
Übersetzung ist Vitamin B2!
The BBC has images from the recent Wave Gothic Meeting in Leipzig. The yellow face, it burns us!
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.
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).
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
"Here Comes the Rain Again": Wow. This is a stunning Eurythmics cover.
Lorna Doone Update: The original.
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 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.
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.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
"Only 1": Wow.*
"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.
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).
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
Following excellent reportage over the weekend, the Toronto Star took all of 48 hours to get on message about the recent arrest of a purported terror cell in southern Ontario.* The real story: Police theatrics surrounding the court appearance of the accused.
Neat academic turn of phrase here: "we assume the police want to help us and we assume it's good." By "we" he of course means "you" unless you, dear reader, agree the party line that the police are always already about political theatre and not, say, policing. Such is the happy illusion of program administrators whose homes and families are protected by said police. But for academics whose broader illusions about "terror" took a poke in the eye over the weekend it is time to round up the usual semiotics. If anti-Americanism and virtuous insignificance could not shield us perhaps chanting one of the other incantations will do the trick.
What I cannot figure out is whether it is the Star or the McLuhan Program who have so miscontrued "memes". Susan Blackmore has an excellent book on the subject for anyone bothered to use the term properly.
*This target map published by Andrew Coyne shows the CSIS facility mentioned in some news reports and other scenic targets downtown. The Toronto Star building is off-camera and it may seem sensible to keep it that way. Plenty other food for the crocodile. Note the CBC is listed as an unlikely target. Such is the delusion of the right and the left that domestic politics have anything to do with the motivations of the jihadis (whether or not the justice system determines this particular group of accused to be such).
Sometimes the sky really is falling Update: Nothing new, but it bears repeating.
"It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs."
- Kenneth Clark
Dark Ages Update: June 6 - It turns out Andrew Coyne's map-maker really did speak too soon. Alongside reported plans to behead Canada's Prime Minister the jihadis are said to have planned to storm and bomb the CBC headquarters building. So much for the smugness of the Canadian right for assuming the jihadis would appreciate the CBC's purportedly sympathetic coverage. And so much for the Canadian left for assuming anti-American rhetoric has any meaning in this new dark age.
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).
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.
Umm, have we not dispensed with the idea it is ok to call loan-sharks "Shylocks"? Apparently not.
Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.
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).
Yes, and also for impressing the ladies.
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).
""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.
I think it is time Toronto had its own Victorian spiritualism re-enactment society.
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.
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.
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.
I was on the return leg of a shopping trip to Yorkville when I spotted a woman wearing a tinfoil hat. My first thought was to wonder what she was doing in Yorkville and not the Annex. My second was to ask her if it really did cut off those pesky VALIS satellite signals. Unfortunately, she was on her cell phone and I was reluctant to interrupt. Fortunately, MIT tinfoil hat research answers the question for me (via Tim Blair).