August 30, 2003

Scout Walker Kama Sutra

The title says it all. Or rather, it describes it all. The purpose of the site continues to elude me despite this mission statement:

We hope you find your visit to this site exciting, informative and educational. It is our wish that you will leave this site with a better awareness of the culture and individuality of cybernetic and robotic races you would otherwise have continued to perceive as souless production-line killing machines thoughtlessly bent on conquest and bloody carnage alone.

Posted by the Flea at 12:30 PM

Prowling the icy wasteland

I found this at Classical Values. Mine also demonstrates an eerie accuracy.

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Hark! Who is that, prowling on the icy wasteland! It is Ghost Of A Flea, hands clutching a bladed baseball bat! He bellows gutterally:

"I'm going to punch you into the danger zone, and hit you with a steamroller!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Posted by the Flea at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)

August 29, 2003

Like a virgin, sort of


Ho hum. Here we go again. Arch-eroticist, so-so-actor and sometime singer Madonna is fleshing out her bad girl repertoire, this time doing the larynx-limbo with pop nymphettes Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

Surely, there must have been a way to work Kylie in there somewhere... what was that? Oh yes, writing a blog entry. Don't tell me this Madonna sandwich was Britney's idea. Perhaps all those electromagnetic waves are going to Madonna's head. The Flea Institute for the Prevention of Virtue and Promotion of Vice feels compelled to provide Flea-readers everywhere with up-to-the-minute Madonna coverage. To that end, the New York Post reports:

In case you wondered, eyewitnesses in the first few rows told The Post, "There definitely was tongue."

At least we were spared J-Lo.

And then... "She's a great kisser", explains Christina Aguilera of her Madonna experience. A Hindustan Times article confirms my Britney suspicions.

"Everyone wants to know about that damn kiss. She's got a very soft lip - and she's a very lovely kisser. I've kissed her numerous times - because at every rehearsal she wanted to do it right on every time", said Christina.

But as she revealed Britney, had to be persuaded to give 45-year-old Madonna some lip service. She added: "Britney was a little shy at first. Madonna kept having to go, 'Britney, kiss me, kiss me!'"

Posted by the Flea at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)

Nastrovje Potsdam

Now is the time at the Flea when we shop. Does anyone know anything about this store? I have never been to Potsdam but it looks lovely.

Posted by the Flea at 10:19 AM

The Science of Superheroes

This Trainee Superhero Game is a better use of flash. Even if it did decide to call me Great Ghosto.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

It’s the archaeology, stupid!

Dilip K. Chakrabarti writes the best brief introduction I have read to the stake of archaeology in the dispute over a hotly disupted mosque/temple site at Ayodhya. Also, the best title for an archaeology article.

The Brahminical literary tradition regarding Ayodhya is essentially mythological and can’t be proved or disproved by archaeology. It was the capital of the Ikshaku dynasty which in turn belonged to the solar race of the Brahminical cosmogony. Rama and his father were Ikshaku kings. The Taittiriya Aranyaka, part of Vedic prose literature, describes Ayodhya as a celestial city, whereas the Ramayana (6th canto of Book I) describes it as a real city.

More on the disputed ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) report can be found here.

Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM

Hollywood glaciers

Hollywood was in sight of glaciers as recently as five-thousand years ago:

Using a new technique to measure how long glacier-strewn boulders have been ice-free, geologist Lewis Owen of the University of California at Riverside and colleagues have discovered there were several glacial periods on San Gorgonio Mountain immediately northeast of Los Angeles.

Most peculiar.

Posted by the Flea at 09:36 AM

August 28, 2003

Origin of a Flea

This flash rendition of Kafka's The Metamorphosis is an eerie echo of the accident which befell me. Minus the gamma rays. And the radioactive flea. Still... it was no dream.


Posted by the Flea at 11:45 AM

Let's Party

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:32 AM | Comments (2)

Pink Floyd action figures

These are self-explanatory.

Posted by the Flea at 11:30 AM

British Men

Tips for finding and dating European men also includes tips for getting rid of them. Take British men, for example (apologies in advance to Irish and Scotch Flea-readers):

British men are insanely loyal when it comes to their local football (soccer) team. British football lunatics make headlines for beating the hell out of everyone and everything. They get so into the game that they start fights whether their team wins or loses. It's a little crazy, but you can manipulate his weakness for football to get rid of him. Hopefully you won't get injured in the process.

Let's pretend, for example, that your British man is from Ipswich. An Ipswich man hates everything that has to do with their rival, the Norwich Canaries. Norwich's colors are yellow and green and they're sponsored by Coleman's mustard. The easiest way to get rid of him is to wear nothing but yellow and green. Within a day or two, he will start loathing you. His hatred may be a displaced subconscious thing or it may spawn from your refusal to change your clothes. If for some reason, he's completely oblivious to your wardrobe, paint yourself yellow and green and walk around with a stuffed canary on your shoulder and a jar of Coleman's in your purse. He'll be gone in no time.

British women would require a different strategy. I have a collection of Norwich Canary football paraphernalia due to the Norwich connection to the Family of the Flea. Hated rival Ipswich is the source of some hilarity. The humour inspired is not sophisticated:

A Ipswich fan was shopping in the local supermarket. He picked up a tin of soup for one, a small pizza and one pint of milk. He went to the check out to pay and the cashier. The girl on till asked "Are you single?"
"Yes, did you guess from the food?"
"No" She replied, "Your f…ing ugly"

Colman's Mustard is another matter. This is the mustard of my ancestors.

Posted by the Flea at 11:20 AM

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

I have not read this one so it is difficult to comment...

The cat who walks through walls
You belong in the Cat Who Walks Through Walls. You
are creative and cunning. Your works often
feel empty to you, though others love them.
You suspect that the universe and everyone in
it are just characters in someone else's story.

Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

August 27, 2003



I offer myself in supplication,
to you, Diana, Princess of Themyscira,
I come without protection.
I come without means.

A recent disagreement between Chaos Overlord and the Flea may need to be reconsidered in light of the Wonder Woman factor. My budget was already directed elsewhere and so did not stretch to the graphic novel I found yesterday. A review offers some clues.

The Hiketia is an ancient Greek holy ritual that, once enacted, binds the seeker to the one from whom she seeks protection. Because the bond is a sacred contract, the one who protects must do so at all costs. Rucka, who knows his way around strong female protagonists, sets up DC's mightiest female hero, Wonder Woman, to accept the plea of a young woman who has committed a murder. The problem is, the young woman has Batman on her tail, and he will not let anything stand in the way of bringing the girl to justice.

Hats off to DC for the somewhat obscure "hiketia" reference. An anthropological discussion of Odysseus provides detail on this ancient ritual of supplication.

2. The notion of hiketia involves self-abasement, placing oneself at the mercy of the one who is supplicated. It is done by crouching and clutching the knees (associated with sexual generation, see Onions 1951:176-186) of the superordinate one. 13 This is sometimes accompanied by chucking the chin or kissing the hands. A kiss (philema) on the face was how philoi might greet one another. In the Iliad supplication is made, often unsuccessfully, by a vanquished warrior seeking mercy. Were a foe spared, he would be expected to reciprocate with a ransom in order to be freed. Perhaps the most moving scene in the Iliad involves king Priam visiting Achilleus under supernatural protection in order to redeem his son Hektor's body. Seeing Priam, Achilleus becomes hostile, but Priam performs hiketia and Achilleus takes him by the hands, raises him up, wines and dines him, and releases him next day with Hektor's body. 14 Agamemnon's improper rejection of a father's (Chriseus's) hiketia for his captive daughter eventually triggers off the rift between Agamemnon and Achilleus, and Achilleus's noble acceptance of Priam's supplication heralds the epic's close.

Posted by the Flea at 11:31 AM | Comments (3)

LoveKylie underwear overload

Internet experts fear for the effect of Kylie's underwear ad on server-traffic:

Anti-virus group Sophos said the promotional video for the 35-year-old singer's lingerie range "Love Kylie" could overload computer systems as office workers start downloading and forwarding it.

Posted by the Flea at 11:19 AM

A Darth of my very own

This Darth Vader story is made possible by brilliant page-flipping action. Flea-readers everywhere may wish to become the Lord of the Sith at home. Trust me, the effect is riveting.

Posted by the Flea at 11:01 AM


The new international trailer for Matrix Revolutions is now available. Agent Smith coming unhinged is particularly satisfying. The Flea knows that look.

Posted by the Flea at 10:43 AM

Roman Fashion Meltdown™

BBC reports archaeological evidence of fashion crime:

Evidence for what, by modern standards, would be considered a lack of style has been uncovered at a major archaeological dig in south London, where a foot from a bronze statue appears to be adorned with both socks and sandals.

Great. Now that image will be stuck in my head every time I read Roman history, literature or philosophy for the rest of my life. Maybe Russell Crowe could pull it off but the rest of us mere mortals might be best advised to avoid the socks and sandals look. Fortunately, hi-tech fashion advice is available to the contemporary inhabitants of what was Roman Londinium.

Posted by the Flea at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)

Egyptian graffiti

Investigation of an ancient Egyptian quarry site turns up graffiti detailing obelisk orders.

Sometimes, it appears, the artisans could not resist a blank stone wall. On one wall, they left drawings of ostriches.

The ostriches are pretty (and apologies for yet more Zahi Hawass who, it turns out, is visiting professor at UCLA). Yesterday's Cthulhu coverage directed me to this figure... oh yes! It turns out representations of Egyptian gods are still in vogue after all these thousands of years.

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM

August 26, 2003

Cthulhu Wow!


Deep One protestors were detained as a monument to Cthulhu was removed from a Montgomery, Alabama court building. The InstaPundit writes:

I'd certainly prefer Christianity or Judaism to the Elder Gods, if that's the choice.

Flea-readers will have spotted the heretical error! Cthulhu is of the Great Old Ones... not the accursed Elder Gods! This reportage vexes Those Who Sleep! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

And then... Perhaps it is time for my own Cthulhu monument. Now that's real old time religion.

Posted by the Flea at 06:36 PM | Comments (1)

Kate Moss vs White Stripes

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:46 AM | Comments (4)

Lord of the Rings marathon

The Flea is busy with the plate-spinning routine which is course syllabus writing. Everybody needs to have midterm exams at about the same time but the due dates need to be staggered so I get get everything graded promptly. Now I need to factor in a couple days at end of term lost to Peter Jackson.

Cinephiles who couldn't get enough of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship
of the Ring special edition DVD, which clocked in at 208 minutes and
included scenes not in the theatrical version, will be able to see the epic
on the big screen in all its glory starting on December 5 in about 100 movie
houses in the U.S. and 20 in Canada.

A week later, on December 12, New Line will unspool the special 214-minute
extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. That version is
slated to premiere as a DVD first on November 18 (the DVD of last year's
"official" theatrical release is due out on Tuesday).

And then... I forgot to point out another potential New Line Cinema drain on the wallet of the Flea. Their current auction includes nifty items like Freddy Krueger's blade glove. I don't know how I would work it into this year's pirate costume for Hallowe'en but I would think of something.

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

Zombie Infection Simulation

I am going to use this zombie infection simulation for my cultural ecology course. Creepy.

Posted by the Flea at 09:35 AM | Comments (3)

Worst figures of the 20th century

John Hawkins' latest survey has an uncontroversial top three nominees for worst figure of the 20th century. The Flea was one of four respondents who included Neville Chamberlain in the list. I believe it is important to acknowledge the role of popular decisions by elected representatives which implicate we few who enjoy liberty. We have all too often chosen to do nothing in the face of evil.

Posted by the Flea at 09:32 AM

Script death

"Thousands of languages have come and gone, and we've studied that process for years," said Brigham Young University archaeologist Stephen D. Houston, the study's Maya specialist. "But throughout history, maybe 100 writing systems have ever existed. We should know more about why they disappear."

Three scholars conclude writing systems disappear when those who use them restrict their access.

For ancient languages, the margin for survival was always narrow: "We're so used to universal literacy that we forget that the whole Mayan [literate] population may have been a third of the number of people who go to a college football game today," said Pennsylvania State University anthropologist David Webster, a Maya expert. "I don't think most of us focus on just how limited literacy was in a lot of these societies."

Posted by the Flea at 09:19 AM

Past Life Analysis

Which era in time are you?

The Flea is not sure how to feel about yet another last earthly incarnation. I wonder why the birth-date is only approximate.

Your past life diagnosis:
I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.
You were born somewhere in the territory of modern North India around the year 1425.
Your profession was that of a builder of houses, temples and cathedrals.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
You had the mind of a scientist, always seeking new explanations. Your environment often misunderstood you, but respected your knowledge.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
Your lesson is to study, to practice and to use the wisdom that lies within the psychological sciences and in ancient manuscripts. With strong faith and hard work you will reach your real destiny in your present life.
Do you remember now?

Past life diagnosis is so tricky. Another opinion was more satisfying.

Here's What the Abyss Told Me...
I'm sensing you were male in your last earthly incarnation.
You were born In Wonder Girl's Gym Locker in approximately 1425.
I'm guessing your profession was The Guy That Sorts Socks.
What I think you were like in your past life:
You were a sane practical person; materialistic with no consciousness. As a result you had no problem breaking the legs of people who owed you money. People said you were a loan shark, but you prefered to think of yourself as a bank teller with a baseball bat.
The Lesson I think you were supposed to learn
Your lesson was to study wisdom. But since no one had any, you used the free time to watch old re-runs of Leave It To Beaver.
Did I get any of this right? If not, try again. Robin told me practice makes perfect!

Posted by the Flea at 12:27 AM

August 25, 2003

Berggasse 19, Vienna


March 22, 1938 Sigmund Freud's daughter Anna was taken into custody and interrogated by the Gestapo. She had with her a lethal dose of Veronal given to her by the family doctor in case she should need it. Anna was released but the shock was enough to convince the family it was time to flee Austria and their beloved apartments at Berggasse 19. It was the right decision. Four of Freud's sisters would later be murdered at the hands of the Nazis along with so many of his neighbours.

International attention to Freud's circumstances combined with diplomatic pressure to allow him and his immediate family to emigrate to England along with the contents of his home and office. It would disrupt decades of life and work at Bergasse 19. Freud's friend August Aichhorn decided it was important to document Freud's office, consulting room and the meeting place of the Wednesday Psychological Society and to this end he enlisted Edmund Engelman to photograph Freud's apartments in the hope "a museum can be created when the storm of the years is over."

It must have seemed a faint hope at the time. The Freud Museum in Vienna is an expression of Aichhorn's desire made possible in part by Engleman's clandestine photos. An almost neurotic care is evident is the slightly off-kilter placement of a picture in Freud's waiting room. The question will haunt me. Was the picture askew by chance or did Freud leave it that way to catch people like me who would compulsively straighten it while waiting for an appointment?

Posted by the Flea at 11:29 AM

Freundlichkeit und Gemuchlicheit

This series of German Lara Croft lookalike videos offers the quality entertainment Flea-readers everywhere have come to expect. And Blond Raider is clearly a graduate of etiquette lessons from the Flea Academy for Wayward Expats.

Posted by the Flea at 10:44 AM

Bats Day at Disneyland

This sounds promising. There is an annual goth day at Disneyland.

So why would a tribe of people largely typecast as gloomy, depressed, trench coat-wearing, Bauhaus-worshipping creatures of the night want to spend a day at the Happiest Place on Earth? The sheer irony of it all, for one thing. Plus the always welcome chance to make the eyes of non-Goths bug out: one year, Korda managed to get eight boats on the It’s a Small World ride and an entire Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe filled with Goths.

Photos at the official Bats Day in the Fun Park website show fun is had by all.

Posted by the Flea at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

Batman manhunt

The life of a caped crusader is not an easy one and the Flea can only hesitate to provide ammuntion for the anti-Batman press. Journalistic integrity forces me to point to this report:

Police have launched a manhunt for Batman, after a man dressed as the superhero beat another man unconscious outside of a cafe over the weekend. "Police are hunting a man dressed as Batman who was involved in an assault in the early hours of Sunday morning," Thames Valley Police said in a statement on Monday.

Another report quotes a police source, "It was really a case of 'Kapow!'"

Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM

Portland Vase

The Portland Vase was reportedly recovered from the tomb of Emperor Severus Alexander in 1582. A claim of stylistic inconsistencies in the work causes one scholar to argue it is not authentic.

Dr Jerome Eisenberg, one of the world's leading authorities on ancient art, is "convinced" that the Portland Vase was made during the Renaissance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:12 AM

A false iconography

The head of the holy office formerly known as the Inquisition claims, contrary to popular opinion, Galileo was not persecuted:

The belief that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo Galilei for pointing out that the earth goes round the sun was quite wrong, the new secretary of the Vatican's Doctrinal Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato, has claimed. Citing a letter recently discovered in the Vatican's archive, Archbishop Amato, who heads the body formerly known as the Holy Office or the Inquisition, said it proved that the church had treated him very well.

Galileo's difficulties have been attributed to Papal anxiety about the Reformation and a dispute over the interpretation of Psalm 104 for understanding dispositions among the firmament. It is not clear to me how one letter might effect the Papal apology offered to Galileo in 1992 as the investigation of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences always held that it was not the Church per se but misguided churchmen who were to blame.

Posted by the Flea at 10:01 AM

August 20, 2003

Spiderman flash

My favourite part of this version of the Spiderman story is the director's cut available after viewing the feature. I know this sort of article can only add to Marduk's worries about my dissertation writing or unrealistic expections of the world. If he knew about the food I eat it would send his bile levels through the roof.

Posted by the Flea at 10:25 AM | Comments (2)

Darth Vader

James Earl Jones reveals a major spoiler about the next "Star Wars" film in the second paragraph of this article. Otherwise, fans are safe. Whatever James Earl Jones has to say, it is a safe bet David Prowse will not be reprising his role. Prowse's acting prowess failed to convince Lucas to keep that Bristol accent in favour of James Earl Jones' stentorian tones or to use Prowse' face when Vader's mask is removed at the end of Episode III. Prowse has made a career of being annoyed about it ever since.

EI: What did George Lucas say when you confronted him about this?

DP: Oh, some mumbo-jumbo about "this isn’t the death of Darth Vader, it’s the ‘revealing’ of Anakin." It was all about the money.

Posted by the Flea at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

How to be gay

David M. Halperin's University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) course "How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation" is drawing fire from the American Family Association. To some people that "initiation" word is like waving a red-flag before a bull and I suspect its inclusion in the course title is no accident. And given the word "homosexual" makes up about 5% of the text at AFA Michigan's website the issue of of some fascination to them. Halperin's reply:

"It does not teach students to be homosexual," Mr. Halperin says in an interview. "Rather, it examines critically the odd notion that there are right and wrong ways to be gay, that homosexuality is not just a sexual practice or desire but a set of specific tastes in music, movies, and other cultural forms — a notion which is shared by straight and gay people alike.

The AFA calls the "homosexual agenda" a "hot topic". It is a hot topic alright. Too hot! Perhaps the AFA could refocus its efforts on the little known consequences those "specific tastes" to which Halperin refers can have on the psychological health of gay men. The pressure not to be a slob... choosing the right car... working on that pot-belly...

Posted by the Flea at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)

Butch Mushroom

My low score suggests I would starve as a mushroom.

Posted by the Flea at 09:12 AM

More Elgin Marbles moaning

Apparently, Greece taking possession of the Elgin Marbles in time for the forthcoming Olympics would be an important opportunity for the UK:

"This is a very important opportunity for the United Kingdom," says Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, "to make a gesture and send a very important global cultural message for the credibility of Europe as a cultural continent with a single historical conscience."

If Europe has a single historical conscience the Elgin Marbles are fine sitting just where they are, thank you. If, on the other hand, Greek nationalists want the Marbles for their own purposes then they are still fine where they are. It is with some irony this BBC article notes building construction for the Acropolis Museum is accused of destroying an ancient housing complex.

"The site is completely unique, showing 1,500 years of history, giving us a complete picture of how people lived," says George Papathanasopoulos, former director of the Acropolis Archaeological Site. "I feel terrible when I look at this and see mechanical machines destroying an ancient site. What's happening here is unbelievable."

Posted by the Flea at 09:05 AM

A brief hiatus

The Flea is on a scientific retreat for Mars observation tomorrow and Friday. Strange to relate, my Venus is in Ares.

When I excitedly said to my friends, "Have you seen Mars lately?" they looked at me as if I had a tile off. And when I explained that the next time we'll see Mars as close to the Earth as this, David Beckham will be dead and we'll all have barcodes stamped on our foreheads, nobody was remotely interested. Morons.

Tell them Venus is rising in Aries and everyone's going to get laid and they're all agog. But mention that they only have to glance out of the window after 10 o'clock and they'll be able to see Mars, big, red and mysterious, and it's a prelude to insanity.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM

August 19, 2003

Another post on power generation

Some time ago I received an email from Rue telling me the lack of comments at the Flea was stifling her free speech. I was a bit worried to add them for fear of the cussing and hair-pulling which happens in the comments of some blogs so it was with some trepidation that the new MT-enabled Flea included them. I am pleased to say that with the exception of one or two drive-by-trolls (whose scribblings were summarily deleted) comments have added to my blogging experience. Thanks to everybody for teaching me things with your observations and for the uniform civility of discussion when we disagree.

The comments on power generation have been particularly interesting to me. I agree with Alan's observation that in times of crisis we need and want to be led. The guy in the clown pants and umbrella hat who was directing traffic at Bathurst and Dupont was as important to me as the reassurance offered by the Premier. Both suggested peace, order and good government would continue.

It struck me that many people living in downtown Toronto did not have a clue how dark it was going to get when the sun went down. The next day I ran into two well-meaning, new-age populist types who asked me what the problem had been. They were incredulous when I told them nobody had a clue beyond a few people at whichever plant had triggered the problem and that even they could not know why the safeguards in the wider grid had failed. "How is possible that nobody knows what happened," asked the conspiracy theorist. The short answer, I suggested, is that these systems are very complicated. I am sure by now she has decided it was some combination of big oil and the Bush administration.

Posted by the Flea at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

Flea Dance Party

Devoted Flea-readers everywhere have noticed my love of dance. The subject deserves some attention. I am compelled to pronounce the word "dance" the same way as Cartman when he does his German dance (it is listed alphabetically here).

I will do the German dance for you
It's fun and gay and tra-la-la.
I hope you will enjoy my dance
Fiddle-e-aye, fiddle-e-aye ay!

My other German inspiration is, of course, Dieter's dance party.

The Flea's devotion to dance (and a dancer or two) did not prevent me from being utterly lost when I arrived in London in the mid-90s. Varieties of Trance, Jungle and Garage (rhymed with "carriage") music were indistinguishable to my ear. Worse, each style went with specific kinds of dance with which I was unfamiliar. "What are you doing?" is not a question one likes to be asked when dancing at Heaven (at least, not if the question is about how badly one is dancing). Relief at long last takes the form of Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music. So that's why they called it Handbag...

Clubhouse: aka Europop, or Eurodisco, or just plain Euro. Very catchy. Also called Handbag due to its appeal among girls who would dance in flocks around piles of their handbags on the dance floor. Enjoyed Next Big Thing status for awhile in the mid-90s.

Posted by the Flea at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)

The Flea's knees

Stolichnaya Vodka Infused Mustard is... the Flea's knees.

Brilliant lemon notes in a smooth sharp mustard, giving way to a lingering subtle sweetness.

Posted by the Flea at 10:10 AM

Mary Rose

News from the Mary Rose excavation includes a photo:

Experts working on the site of the Mary Rose say they have uncovered the front section of the Tudor warship.

The BBC's notorious scare-quotes are used to peculiar effect in the tag-line for this article. I understand the find may only be "exciting" to people who follow archaeology news but we have feelings too.

Posted by the Flea at 10:06 AM


Missing spoon found at long last:

A 2,000-year-old spoon, used for scooping out shellfish, has been discovered at the site of a Celtic village. The tiny, copper alloy metal Romano British spoon, the handle of which is missing, was found by workmen at the Chysauster site, which is just three miles from Mounts Bay, near Penzance, Cornwall.

I could not find an image of the spoon but Chysauster looks like a nice place for an afternoon walk. I shall add it to my list of places to visit in Cornwall (along with Tintagel).

The site was occupied over a 400 year period between around 100BC and 300AD This is a well restored and maintained Iron Age village with a group of stone huts complete with hearth stones and various household items The remains are well preserved and it is a pleasant site to wander around with only rabbits for company.

Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)

August 18, 2003

Come Dancing wit Jah

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:16 AM | Comments (3)

You will never believe where they hid the keys

An Iron Age coin-hoard has been found in Norfolk. Somebody was being very inventive when they stashed them away for safe-keeping:

The 18 coins which show a horse on one side, were found stuffed inside a cow bone after it was x-rayed at a hospital.

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

You're Canada!

This is distressing (via Alaskan Bulgarian). I tried the test a second time and turned out to be Australia. My Latverian heritage is not shining through.

You're Canada!
People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've got a much better life than they do.  In fact, they're probably just jealous.  You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others.  If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be the perfect person.
Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

August 16, 2003


There were a few moments there when I wondered just how long it would take for Toronto the Good to turn into Toronto the Bad if it looked like food, gasoline and power were going to be interrupted for more than a day or two.


Fortunately, my temperment is one of grave pondering and icy silence. Ok, maybe not. Time to learn how to do some three-dimensional double-fisted shootin' with the deadly art of Gunkata!

"The Gun Katas: Through analysis of thousands of recorded gun fights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element.

The Gun Kata treats the gun as a total weapon. Each new position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defendant clear of the statistically traditional trajectories of return fire."

The precaution of gun-ownership struck me as an entirely sensible one and bugout bag preparation is now toward the top of my to-do list. Flea-readers with suggestions for surviving the forthcoming collapse of Canadian civilization are welcome to comment on current gun legislation and weapon-of-choice.

Posted by the Flea at 01:34 PM | Comments (8)

Cheeky Holiday

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 01:25 PM | Comments (3)

Kiwi breastfeeding censorship

A World Breastfeeding Week promotional poster was nixed by New Zealand's health ministry who were concerned people might find it too controversial.

The image invites people to consider whether it would be easier to breastfeed at work if men had to do it.

The health ministry's reservation strikes me to be sadly ironic as it expresses the exact prejudice the promotional poster was meant to illustrate.

Posted by the Flea at 01:24 PM

Bloggers in the dark

ScrappleFace makes for heart-wrenching reading:

With no electricity, many "bloggers" were forced to post their latest musings to the Internet by candlelight. Some resorted to using old-fashioned kerosene-fueled personal computers. Others wrote their thoughts out longhand on paper then ran through the streets reading them aloud to the passing crowds of stranded commuters.

A small donation to your favourite blogger is just cents a day. Will you think of all those bloggers who were left in the dark? Take Barton, for example.

Posted by the Flea at 01:12 PM

August 15, 2003

Pre-Raphaelite Award: Friday

Today's emergency award goes to Nicole Kidman.


Here the Pre-Raphaelite sensibility may find its apotheosis. Kidman is divine. I am going to have to give further thought to Rue's overbite-hypothesis. She sends this links-site so you can make your own decision... It features John William Waterhouse's "Hylas and the Nymphs", one of my favourite paintings on display at the Manchester Art Gallery. I would stop by at least once a month when I lived in Manchester to look through their permanent Pre-Raphaelite collection and had the good luck to be there for a temporary exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite women artists which had some of the best work I have seen. Evelyn de Morgan's "Dawn (Aurora Triumphans)" was spectacular. More of her work can be found here.

This fluffy Flea-topic seems all the fluffier given the last twenty-four hours. Until Steven Den Beste gives us an idea of what happened (he is on the case) this might be my best contribution to carrying on with the work of civilization.

And then... Oops! That's an "underbite"... Rue explains in the comments.

Posted by the Flea at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

And I feel fine

One of the great things about millenarian Protestantism is that we are pretty much set up for the end of the world canned-goods-wise. Even so, I went in search of provisions alongside my mission to retrieve a hat I forget at a local watering-hole last night. Word has it there are cars parked at a grocery store at Dupont and Shaw but the lights at Bathurst and Dupont were not working so I turned back. Super Spend down on Bloor is lights out and they are only letting a few people into the store at a time so I gave that a miss. I found a 24-hour place open off Spadina and so I can now meet the Rapture with a Coke in my hand.

Power is still out around Ossington. A bank machine near Bloor and St. George is operational though I had to tell off one guy who tried to jump in line. He sulked off which meant he was not just a jerk but a jerk with no cash.

Posted by the Flea at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)


While Flea Mansions lit up at a quarter to eleven last night it looks as though not all Annex dwellers were so lucky. Telephone reports indicate a slow westward march of power from Spadina and the Flea to midnight at Bathurst and creeping out to Christie by nine this morning. Ossington is still waiting...

I have a fire station around the corner and my hope is that the electricity people are plugging things back in with hospitals, police stations and the water-supply in mind. As "wake up" calls go this one has been easy so far. Let us hope we learn something from it. The rush to se-supply aromatic candles will tax the re-stocking ability of new age stores and our strategic mayonnaise reserve will need to be restored.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM

Peace, order and good government

Truth, justice and the American way has a stirring ring to it. Canada's new-ish constitution celebrates the virtues of peace, order and good government. These were all in effect this afternoon as I crossed Bloor on my way to find a friend and her daughter (all was well). An irate driver got out of his car and started toward an officer directing traffic. The officer explained to the driver that if he was hit by a car it would be his own fault. The driver ignored the officer and continued walking into the path of on-coming cars at which point the officer explained further, "Get back in your f***ing car and sit down." I have never heard a Toronto police-officer use this sort of plain-speaking. It was well-judged. The driver did as he was told and civilization continued.

I cannot speak highly enough for Toronto's police in the middle of all this. We cannot thank them enough.

Meanwhile, a couple city blocks north at Bathurst and Duport a citizen stepped into the breach and directed traffic in the absence of the law. He was wearing clown pants and an umbrella hat and everybody obeyed his instructions. Now that is peace, order and good government.

And then... Toronto's police-chief is holding a press-conference as I type this (12:05 a.m.). He reports minor traffic injuries but otherwise claims order has been maintained. He is repeating the Premier's request for non-essential workers to remain home tomorrow.

Posted by the Flea at 12:00 AM

August 14, 2003

Ambassador Bridge

The Detroit/Windsor border-crossings are the most busy between the United States and Canada. The Detroit River tunnel closed immediately after the black-out but traffic was reportedly slow but steady across the Ambassador Bridge. This structure allows ten-thousand trucks to cross carrying one billion dollars of goods every day. CBC Newsworld reports power is back on in parts of Windsor, off across Detroit and that no traffic whatsoever is currently being allowed across the bridge.

Posted by the Flea at 11:34 PM

Downtown Toronto

CBC Newsworld reports the big bank towers downtown have just regained power. I can't see much to confirm this with my view of downtown from Flea Mansions but Newsworld is based right downtown and I will take their word for it. The only artificial light I could see this evening came from the stairwell of a nearby apartment building (presumably an emergency generator) and aviation lights all the way up the CN Tower. The Tower has been important to me since I was a kid. I remember it as it was being built and have been up it a number of times. It was moving to see the light.

Posted by the Flea at 11:09 PM

Correction: power back on in parts of Toronto

It turns out only parts of Toronto have power back and the Premiere (Governor) of Ontario has warned us to expect rolling black-outs over the next two days at least. Non-essential workers have been asked to stay home tomorrow.

And then... Venemous Kate and the InstaMan both kindly passed on the news. I figure if civilization collapses in these parts the blogosphere has a right to know! Bloggers testify to the robust capability of networks in contrast with their today's demonstration of their capacity to fail.

And then... Hey, I misspelled "Premier". That is sort of embarrassing.

Posted by the Flea at 11:06 PM

Power back on in Toronto

Power went back on in Toronto about five minutes ago ( 10:45 p.m. EST). CBC's national broadcast is cutting in and out.

Posted by the Flea at 11:05 PM

Pre-Raphaelite Award: Thursday

Today's Pre-Raphaelite Award™ winner is Keira Knightly:


No knights in shining armour, medieval trappings or masses of red hair are necessary for Knightly to express a Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic. Her ethereal manner fits the Pre-Raphaelite agenda but there are more particular qualities in the line of the nose and the shape of the mouth which I think define the PRB's representations of feminine beauty. Actually, masculine beauty also. I am beginning to wonder about Rue's "women with prominent underbites" theory from Tuesday's comments... Did the Pre-Raphaelites have a fixation hitherto unremarked by art historians?

The Pre-Raphaelites' feminine ideal is best described by the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and by his one inspiration, Elizabeth Siddal. Flea-favourite, Camille Paglia describes the creepy, stalker-like intensity of Rossetti's interest:

As his career progressed or, some said, degenerated, Rossetti's paintings obsessively returned to a single subject, a woman of somnambulistic langour. The Rossetti woman rebels against Victorian convention, her unpinned hair and unstructured medieval gown flowing with lyrical freedom. The heavy head swaps on a serpentine neck. Her long thick hair is The Belle Dame Sans Merci's net of entrapment. Her swollen lips are to become a universal motif of Decadent art, thanks to Burne-Jones and Beardsley. The Rossetti vampire mouth cannot speak, but is has a life of its own. It is gorged with the blood of victims. Like Blake's sick rose, the Rossetti woman is blanketed in silence and humid, private pleasure.

Rossetti ritually commemorated the face of Elizabeth Siddal, a melancholic comsumptive who died of a laudanum ovedose shortly after he married her. Seven years later, he exhumed her corpse to rescue the sheaf of poems that, in a Romantic fit, he had buried with her. He constantly drew and painted Siddal before and after her death. His friend Ford Madox Brown wrote in a diary, "it is like a monomania with him."

Now off to work on a limerick involving the words "Pre-Raphaelite" and "underbite".

Posted by the Flea at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

Tunak Tunak Tun

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

And then... The original video has moved but this Flash interpretation still gets the toes tapping!

Posted by the Flea at 09:56 AM

Iced Man

Further forensics suggest the Ice Man's death was no hunting accident:

Before dying, Oetzi -- the bronze age man found 12 years ago in the mountains between Italy and Austria -- had killed or injured at least four other people. An analysis of blood traces found on his clothes and weapons, carried out by an Australian molecular biologist, Thomas Loy of the university of Queensland, has revealed four different DNA patterns, none of them Oetzi's.

This may reduce the bickering between Austrians and Italians who have been eager to claim the "nationality" of the Ice Man. The article makes a big deal of Oetzi's weapons and the clothes which allowed him to get by in cold weather. New findings suggest humans may have been doing so for longer than had been suspected.

Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

August 13, 2003

Pre-Raphaelite Award: Wednesday

Today's award-winner is Middle Earth.


That is Miranda Otto as Eowyn being all whispy-whispy at the steps of Edoras. Otto would have been a fine Pre-Raphaelite beauty, as would Liv Tyler or Cate Blanchett. Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen are both from Pre-Raphaelite central casting. There was no way to choose any one of them.


It isn't just the actors. The clothes and the architecture all fit the mold. The interiors may show "the Elvish side of Sears", as a clever Flea-friend put it, but all this underlines the lasting influence of William Morris on everything from wallpaper to bedding. The very landscape is meant to evoke the same feeling of a lost time whose mythological truth is underlined by the same symbols which tell us it is all a fantasy. And get a load of these two. The love of Arwen and Aragorn is a Pre-Raphaelite picture come to life.

This Christianity Today article squares the circle of Tolkien's pre-Christian imagery and his devout Catholicism:

All of this seems distant from Catholicism, unless we wish to suppose Tolkien's religion was a mere fancy that found a lodging in the immense mystery of the Church of Rome. Certainly many people suppose that conversion to Catholicism entails a large dollop of romanticism.

But first, Tolkien never converted to Catholicism: he was born into it. And second, no convert to Catholicism finds anything like the Pre-Raphaelite magic that he might, in his non-Catholic days, have fancied lay in the region across the Tiber River.

I think this does an injustice to Pre-Raphaelite magic though, in fairness, I am one of those people staring across the Tiber. The "sacramental imagination" does play a smaller role in many Protestant traditions than it appears to for Catholicism but we too have our mystical reason. William Blake's "Imagination" was an inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites and, I suspect, Tolkien alike. The Pre-Raphaelites are often criticized for the fairy tale unreality of their works. How could these critics of Raphael's unrealistic depictions of the world turn around and paint endless pictures of Ophelia? More tomorrow...

Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)


This just in: Japanese cruisers still suck. Though this Honda is verging on not bad.

Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM

Surfing Rabbi

Surfing Rabbi Shifren is to offer a series of free lectures:

1) Proper nutrition and spirituality
2) Surfing and Spirituality
3) Can I be Jewish and still be "happy"?
4) Eternal secrets of older surfers...
5) What does the Bible say about surfing?
6) How you can avoid going crazy in an insane world!

Question 5 rules. That could be the best bit of exegesis ever. Tell me why Madonna is not hanging out with this guy yet. Now I want to take up surfing.

Posted by the Flea at 10:44 AM

Lt. Hoshi

Lt. Hoshi Sato is one my favourite characters from Enterprise, the new Star Trek franchise. A recent interview reveals biographical details about Linda Park. Her appearance in a bikini at FHM magazine reveals a whole lot more. I can't imagine why Flea-readers would be interested in Linda Park in a bikini but I point to it for the sake of journalistic thoroughness.

Posted by the Flea at 10:38 AM | Comments (2)

Shopping bag

Maggie Alderson muses about a thirty-year old Biba shopping bag she has enshrined on her office wall. Somehow that simple object evokes the dreams of her youth, the passage of time and memories of her mum:

I went down to London on the train with my mum and my sister especially to visit the place. I can still remember the double staircase that swept down into the cosmetics hall and the general air of feeding frenzy. There were bellhops in satin uniforms who operated the lifts, bentwood hatstands that displayed accessories, and make-up counters where you were encouraged to try the make-up on your face. We all did.

On the top floor, the famous Rainbow Room supper club had been returned to its former splendour and was a very fashionable place to dine. When we got there, however, it was a total shambles - there was only trifle left for lunch. My mother, who had been anticipating a slap-up treat, was appalled. Suited me.

Flea-readers may not be surprised to learn of the jumble of artifacts at Flea Towers. A recent visitor said the place reminded him of Freud. There could hardly be a higher complement to the nobility of clutter. My antiquities are not yet so grand as Freud's. To my right is a doll of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos riding a mule with that Zapatista Maid Marian Ramona. Next to the right-speaker above my desk are a statue of Thoth, a smaller statue of the Ape of Thoth and a replica of the Christ figure which adorns the staff of John Paul II (you can see it in a photo toward the bottom of this article). Next to the left-speaker is a lion-head decoration from some lost piece of Regency furniture, a replica of the One Ring and a silver statuette of a Hindu goddess purchased for me on the grounds she would be "handy around the house." To the immediate left of the monitor is a Welsh flag, an American two-dollar bill (yes, for good luck) and watching over these and the hundred other objects is a statue of Cthulhu.

I am not sure why I have all this stuff but it is bound up in the same associations Alderson has with her shopping bag. They are symbols and fetishes. Cosmological post-it notes which remind me are particular friends and relatives and some of the places I have been. Every once in awhile it is possible for our personal amulets to speak to other people. I had not, for instance, heard of Biba until I read about an ordinary shopping bag whose glamour meant a lot to a young woman back in 1971 and which could not now be had for love or money (though a quick check of eBay reveals a variety of Biba-themed items). Barbara Hulanicki was a big deal in the late 60s and early 70s, taking over Derry and Tom's Department Store and its famous roof gardens. It is one of those funny connections that I am almost positive I had read about the department store and the Kensington roof gardens as a teenager. They feature in Michael Moorcock's cluttered masterpiece Cornelius Chronicles. Jerry Cornelius was most definitely a Biba-shopper.

Posted by the Flea at 09:57 AM

August 12, 2003

Pre-Raphaelite Award: Tuesday

The incomparable Drew Barrymore is today's Pre-Raphaelite Award™ winner.


Yesterday's Superman/Batman post took all my brain cells which meant I was remiss in explaining the twists and turns of this week's theme. The Flea has been dispensing various awards for years in a demonstration of the unsolicited opinions which make up my teaching philosophy. My Couple of the Day™, Bosom Buddies™ and coveted Fashion Meltdown™ awards have entertained me and befuddled others well before blogging formed an outlet for this pesky personality quirk. My Pre-Raphaelite Picture of the Day™ award generally went to the bookish and ethereal redheads who have an inordinate call on my attention.

The Pre-Raphaelites shared this fixation and, apparently, a Regency version of my escapist tendencies. A number of young men blamed the idealized vision of Raphael in general, and the formalism of the Royal Academy of 1848 in particular, for an unrealistic and elitist portrayal of the world.

"We begin by telling the youth of fifteen or sixteen that Nature is full of faults, and that he is to improve her; but that Raphael is perfection, and that the more he copies Raphael the better; that after much copying of Raphael, he is to try what he can do himself in a Raphaelesque, but yet original manner: that is to say, he is to try to do something very clever, all out of his own head, but yet this clever something is to be properly subjected to Raphaelesque rules, is to have a principal light occupying one seventh of its space, and a principal shadow occupying one third of the same; that no two people's heads in the picture are to be turned the same way, and that all the personages represented are to have ideal beauty of the highest order..."

Their answer was to form an elitist secret society dedicated to works striking in their lack of realism. Also, lots of guys in armour.

Posted by the Flea at 11:47 AM | Comments (10)

Kylie cavorts in lingerie

Censors have reportedly banned Kylie Minogue's latest LoveKylie television ad.

The ad, which was still available on Kylie's official internet site yesterday, features the 35-year-old pop princess wearing various items of lingerie. At one point she cavorts in knickers with a peep-hole showing off her famous backside, before taking off her bra and swinging it over her head.

The Flea's commitment to the academic study of Kylie-media brings the ad to Flea-readers everywhere.

Posted by the Flea at 11:40 AM | Comments (3)

Matrix dance party

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:30 AM

Wingardium Leviosa

I suspected this was the case.

Which HP Kid Are You?

My best teaching moment of the summer came from a busy-body, anti-fun documentary about video game violence I showed to a communications theory course. A number of self-declared experts with PhDs kept referring to "Laura" Croft. "It's Lah-ra," I said, spelling-out L - A - R - A in block-caps on the blackboard. "Lah-ra. Not Loh-ra. LAH-ra."

Posted by the Flea at 11:20 AM

Gay day at Disney worries some

FrontPage runs a story about a Christian Action Network protest concerned at an annual "orgy of depravity" at Disney World. FrontPage is not on my usual reading list so I do not know how common it is for an article to run with this sort of editorial warning:

(Editor's Note: This story contains hyperlinks to portions of the videotape compiled by the Christian Action Network, which some readers might find objectionable. The clips require Real One Media Player for them to be viewed.)

My first reaction was to wonder why FrontPage would link to video material with such egregious bias it might cause offense. I realized belatedly the magazine was concerned its readers could be offended by the activity purportedly documented by the video...

Nipple-twisting, publicly simulated sex-acts and so forth were promised and I can see why this sort of thing would be frowned apart at a kid's theme park. A look at the video-clip itself shows a crowd of pumped-up "circuit boys" partying at an Orlando hotel. Now, if the Flea was off to Disney World and had booked a room at a hotel with non-stop techno I would demand my money back and change hotels. But this would apply equally to a motel occupied by spring break college kids or rowdy, nipple-twisting Shriners.

The documentary is still worth a look for its stilted, Simpsons-parody feel complete with voice-over by Troy McLure. My favourite? The funky Yahama portasound backing-track. It is not clear from the footage that the dancing throng is anywhere near Disney World and, given the hyper-surveillance I remember from my Disney visits, I find it hard to believe the park would tolerate nipple-twisting and drug use on the premises. Far more likely is the unedifying spectacle of gay couples wearing matching Bermuda shorts and sensible shoes standing in line for the rides with everybody else. It strikes me that it is this sort of resolutely un-hip social pursuit which worries the voyeurs of the Christian Action Network.

And then... Googling reveals a Gay Day 2004 website. Here is the circuit party at Pleasure Island which worried the Christian Action Network. It certainly worries me as I look down and see too much Flea and not enough six-pack abs. Vexed again! Here are some of those all too worrying Bermuda Shorts.

And then... Yet more Googling reveals Disney's hyper-surveillance caught some perverts filming people from the bushes and threatened to have them arrested.

Posted by the Flea at 10:23 AM

August 11, 2003

Pre-Raphaelite Award: Monday

Today's Pre-Raphaelite of the Day Award™ goes to Debra Messing.

I had a picture of Debra Messing here but some guy hotlinked it so I am removing it. I am certain you can find lovely pictures of her through, for example, Google's image search.

Posted by the Flea at 01:00 PM | Comments (7)

"The most dangerous man on Earth," says Superman

Superhero face-offs can turn brother against brother:

"Superman stands for what is powerful, clear, bright, noble and just; Batman is dark, obsessive and vengeful. Because they are so different, they will inevitably end up clashing. It will be a battle of the titans. They both go through some kind of a crisis. Superman has an unwavering belief in what is right and wrong and it's just not that simple anymore in today's world, while Batman is on a path of self-destruction. He reacts to an act of incredible violence in a way that almost puts him over the edge".

The Flea's rhetorical skills are going to be tested to the limits in response to one of the most brilliant, if misguided, posts I have ever read.

... ... over at Ghost of a Flea seems to believe that Batman would 'totally have some kryptonite laying around the Batcave' and would therefore 'give Superman a beating.'

He couldn't be more wrong.

First of all, Superman has a lead suit that makes him impervious to that stupid rock.

Ahh, but which stupid rock? Which stupid rock? The Batman may be angsty but he is not dim. Even if the green kryptonite ring failed (you know, the one Superman gave to Batman in case Superman turned bad and Batman needed to give Superman a well-deserved beating) I am pretty sure Wayne Industries has the resources to come up with some red kryptonite. Then there is gold kryptonite:

Gold Kryptonite exposure permanently removes superpowers from Kryptonians like Superman.

But that is not even the point. Think about it. Batman is cool. Superman is not cool. Batman's cool is what gives him the edge over Superman even if stats-wise Superman thinks he is all that. Batman can dance the Batusi. Superman is popular in France. Even Batman's secret identity is, like, fully a billion times more cool than Superman's lame day job.

No, Batman does not even need that ring to put Superman in his place should that day ever come.

If you ask me, the gift of the ring was merely a symbolic gesture, because in my estimation, super-powers or not, Batman could bitch-slap Superman into submission any time, anywhere. You think a man who has time and again defeated threats that whole teams of superheroes cower in fear of would sweat some overly patriotic boy scout like Superman? Do you think the one character who has time and again proven there is no one with more resources, meddle and grit wearing a cape really needs a kryptonite ring to defeat a preening, needy Dudley Doright-wannabe like the Man of Steel?

I am pretty sure he means resources, mettle and grit but the point is well-made. To quote the Batman after he gave Superman a beating at the end of Dark Knight II:

I'm done talking.

This may be one of those ineffable, unanswerable debates. Could, for example, the Enterprise take out the Death Star? How about Freddy vs. Jason? Or Alien vs. Predator? Mike Campbell asks if a Ben Franklin action-figure could put the smack down on a Return of the King Aragorn action figure.

RoTK Aragorn would easily win out in areas like strength, speed, agility, and weaponry. But, with his intelligence, wisdom, and versatility, BF would also hold the upper hand based solely on system of government.

Mondo Sismondo sent me a link to an action figure which would kick both their butts.

It turns out the Chaos Overlord and I will have to put aside our disagreement for the moment. We have some super-villainous problems to deal with at DC Comics. FrontPage magazine exposes some vomitous nonsense underway at the Justice League of America (via Aaron's Rantblog by way of Absinthe and Cookies):

Writer Joe Kelly and artist Chris Cross use the July issue (#83) of the venerable DC Comics' series JLA - an acronym for Justice League of AMERICA, mind you - as the vehicle for their misguided attempt at political commentary. The issue opens with the superhero team - led by Superman - thwarting an advanced biological weapon attack on London. The heroes then consult with the president, who explains that his intelligence indicates that the attacks originated from the Middle Eastern terrorist nation of Qurac, a fictional stand-in for you-know-where. The president, by the way, is none other than Superman's arch-enemy Lex Luthor, though the general public believes him to be a legitimate businessman and an honest politician.

They did not forget to soil Batman's reputation along the way. A later scene...

...features a squad of riot cops holding back a mob of protesters on their way to an anti-war rally. Batman dropkicks one of the cops because he believes them to be part of a conspiracy to clandestinely use the military to stifle dissent. For proof, the Dark Knight Detective fishes Army-special-forces dog tags out from under the officer's uniform and shows them to a stunned Superman.

Apologies in advance for this comic-spoiler but it turns out the whole thing is a dream. It is time for Chaos Overlord and Ghost of a flea to combine our super-powers and go kick some sense into DC Comics (which, by the way, was never as good as Marvel).

And then... Ok, that France-related remark was maybe uncalled for. This Lili & Beko interpretation of Magnum P.I. is genius.

The Enterprise would smite the Death Star due to the Kirk-factor. I expect Freddy to dance circles around Jason. And Aliens eat Predators for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Posted by the Flea at 11:39 AM | Comments (6)

Archaeology magazine exploits Tomb Raider

Yet another archaeological news source attempts to capitalize on the Angelina Jolie's pneumatic marketing in the guise of a critical review of the new Tomb Raider film:

For all its entertainment value, there's nothing here of any redeeming value in terms of archaeology. It's unfortunate; I don't think it has to be that way, even with a character based on a video game. Oh well, maybe they'll do a third movie in which we'll see Lara Croft at a scholarly meeting presenting a paper on long-distance trade and kinship ties in Assyria based on her trace element analysis of metal artifacts (maybe ancient knives?) and newly translated cuneiform tablets.

Yes, because that would be fascina... ok. My spectral sarcasm fails on this one. The sad thing is I would pay to see Angelina Jolie give a paper on long-distance trade and kinship ties in Assyria based on her trace element analysis of metal artifacts and newly translated cuneiform tablets. So, I expect, would the author of this film review and the rest of us dorks who read Archaeology magazine.

Posted by the Flea at 11:30 AM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2003

The Cruel Shoes

The Flea has made the first of several back-to-school purchases.


These "Leons" are the shoes I set out to buy. John Fluevog is a Canadian shoe-designer whose product is manufactured in the UK then shipped back here for sad old goths like myself. Up close, Leons don't look as much like they do in the picture so I bought a pair of "Damens" instead. They are even sharper than the winkle-pickers in the pic but are discontinued so my digital camera-less existence means this image will have to do.

Last year I bought a pair of Rockport loafers. Chances are they will see more duty than these 'Vogs ever will given my nine hour stretch of lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays this fall. But I needed them to counter-act the announcement I made to one of my nonverbal communication classes last year. "My youth is officially dead," I said. I climbed up onto a table in an Oh-Captain-My-Captain scenario and did a jig to show off my loafers. "These are my tax lawyer shoes," I explained.

Fleuvogs are not comfortable. Fleuvogs are not practical. Fleuvogs are not tax lawyer shoes.

They are the Cruel Shoes.

“Yes, let me see the cruel shoes!"
"No, you don't understand, you see, the cruel shoes are . . .'
"Get them!"

And then... Closer inspection reveals my shoes were made in Portugal. Who knew?

And then... Smug Canadian defends the wearability of Fluevogs.

And then... Marduk calls them monsters.

Posted by the Flea at 02:02 PM | Comments (5)

Cum grano salis

My favourite part of this Guardian article concerning ancient barking moonbat Caligula is the editorial imperative to include a section about his "unhappy childhood". This is a joke, right? It says a lot about the Guardian that it is so hard to tell.


Classicists have demonstrated a typical academic contrarianism in their attempt to revision the life of Caligula as a misunderstood victim of politically inspired writing rather than the madman he is potrayed uniformly by Roman historians. New archeological work lends support to the Roman view:

... Darius Arya of the American Institute for Roman Culture said a 35-day dig by young archaeologists from Oxford and Stanford universities had reinstated a key element in the traditional account.

"We have the proof that the guy really was nuts," said Dr Arya as he sat in the shade of a clump of trees a few metres from the excavation.

Roman histories claim Caligula incorporated the Temple of Castor and Pollux into his house. He reportedly used the temple as a vestibule and as a stage from which to display himself to the public. Modern historians found the idea too blasphemous to be credited but even more modern archaeology has found evidence of tell-tale construction work which supports the story.

And then... A Reuters feature has more:

"Everyone knows this guy was a little crazy. But now we have proof that he was completely off his rocker, that he thought he was one of the gods," Darius Arya, one of the directors of the excavation, said Monday.

"It's like someone -- a president or a king or you know, Bill Gates -- turning St. Peter's into their entrance hall," he said during a break from the dig in the Roman Forum in the heart of Italy's capital.

Posted by the Flea at 11:19 AM

August 08, 2003

T3 Indian

The latest Terminator was not "blue enough" in the opinion of my friend most expert in Terminator lore. I agree. The missing Cameron-factor had an effect on more than the cinematography. This third outing managed to transform the memory of two tightly-plotted first films into the prospect of an eternal franchise (even if Stephen King liked it). The time-twists in the Terminator series meant writers could throw us a bone in T3 ("Judgment Day was always inevitable") to explain to us why a third film was necessary given the ending of the second. The time-factor also opens up a range of fan options vis a vis the canonical/non-canonical status of supplementary Terminator-universe offerings, such as a parallel series of books, or even a somewhat disappointing T3 itself.

There was plenty to look at and think about regardless. Take the details on this limited edition T3 Indian Chief. The air-cleaner alone makes the Flea's chains rattle with excitement. It is a nice, synergistic addition to the Terminator universe. Marketing stunts can detract from the mythological weight of films fans take more seriously than the studios who own them.

Posted by the Flea at 05:08 AM | Comments (1)

Star Wars: Clone Wars

The Cartoon Network is aiming to send more "beautiful looking" and "with plenty of action" Star Wars our way:

Obi-Wan is 'tooning up for some small-screen Jedi hijinks.

Hijinks will take the form of twenty two to three-minute animated short films which develop the "expanded universe" of the Star Wars setting. Lucas regards the expanded material to be canonical so these cartoons are a must-see for anyone still left in the broad church of Star Wars. As for the Flea, I feel about the Star Wars universe the way many Episcopalians felt this week. With Episode I, I believe I did not leave the church so much as the church left me.

Posted by the Flea at 04:49 AM

Chaotic good elf mage-bard

I don't know about the bard part (via ***Dave).

Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.

And then... That quiz link seems to be having indigestion. Here is another one. And another. And another. And another. ***Dave's is best if it gets up and running again. Also, mental note: include lecture about on-line quiz-writing in Digital Media and Culture Course assuming I can figure out who writes these things.

Posted by the Flea at 04:33 AM | Comments (2)

August 07, 2003

Mylar-wrapped Madonna for $500

Some people will pay good money for Sex.


Not surprisingly, Madonna's limited-edition, aluminum-bound book of naughty photos--the singer, circa "Erotica," getting naked with rapper Vanilla Ice (among many others)--tops Bookfinder's Arts and Music list; a pristine copy with mylar wrapping intact can set you back 500 dollars or more.

I remember clearly the exact moment I started to open that mylar wrapper (mylar, who knew?). I remember because I was thinking how much I was reducing the book's future value. Such is the conflicted life of a book collector and Madonna fan.

Posted by the Flea at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

Warning: cape will not enable user to fly

Superman's cape was up for auction:

When Superman donned his red cape in the 1950s, he ran faster than a speeding bullet and was able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, but not even he could have known that his S-emblazoned outfit might fetch $150,000 at auction.

Profiles in History did not quite manage that. The cape was a bargain at US$129,800.

And then... Batman and Superman team up in a new comic series. And in breaking news: Batman can still kick Superman's butt all the way from Gotham back to Metropolis.

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

Another use for ice cubes

The font of information which is "the internet" never ceases to amaze me. Now I know how to fix furniture-dents in carpet (via b3ta).

Well there you have it. Thanks to B3ta, we now know how to get rid of those irritating marks on the carpet. Now I just have to put the table back into place, and everything will be back to normal.

Posted by the Flea at 09:39 AM

Burqa Band

An Afghan all-girl band is a club-hit in Germany:

"You give me all your love, you give me all your kisses, and then you touch my burqa, and don't know who it is..." the lead singer moans in halting but determined English. "Burqa, burqa bluuueee" they sing, in ironic lyrics that still manage to tell the tale of how Afghan women were oppressed by the former Taliban regime.

Yahoo! News runs a photo of a burqa-clad guitarist.

Posted by the Flea at 09:34 AM

Lead dating

Israeli scientists have worked out a clever way to date lead objects using superconductivity:

Lead is stable in many environments and corrodes only very slowly into lead oxide and lead carbonate. It becomes a superconductor when cooled below 7.2 Kelvin, whereas the corrosion products do not.

Posted by the Flea at 08:56 AM

August 06, 2003

Love at first sight

Mary J. Blige has a new single and a new album is on the way.


I first crossed paths with Mary J.'s "What's the 411?" when crashing at the Alphabet City apartment of one of her backing singers. It may be the best album of the 1990s (some clips here). It was certainly among the most influential. This new album may realize the promise of the first.

A quantum leap forward and an emotional yet welcome return to her roots, Mary J. Blige's highly-anticipated Love & Life reunites Mary with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the producer-performer who first dubbed her the queen of hip-hop/soul back in 1992.

MTV.com is hosting the Love @ 1st Sight video. I can hardly wait for the 26th.

Posted by the Flea at 11:34 AM

Kylie's bottom actual size


Flea-readers are aware of my devotion to Kylie-media. The Sun has trumped itself with this one.

To gauge the actual size of the pop princess’s peachy butt, we took our tape measure to London’s Madame Tussaud’s.

Even I think this is a bit creepy. Wax figures scare me.

Posted by the Flea at 11:32 AM

Paul's Blog watch

Just so our future Prime Minister knows we care, it is worth pointing out Paul's Blog has not been updated since July 2. I am disappointed Paul Martin had nothing to say about the Stones concert. And still no permalinks. Damian Penny is keeping an eye out.

Posted by the Flea at 11:27 AM

The 36th Amendment

Another reminder of the brilliance that is Lileks (via InstaPundit):

But times have changed. Times are always changing. Things like gay marriage would have made your average 18th century political theorist swoon with vapors, but so would female voting rights and the wide-eyed notion that people really ought not own other humans and make them harvest cotton in leg irons. Who knows what amendments will be on the table in 2103?

The 34th Amendment: Grants citizenship to robots.

35th Amendment: Extends the Second Amendment to robots.

36th Amendment: Repeals the 34th and 35th Amendments AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE and bans robots entirely.

Oh, and he has some things to say about gay marriage as well. But back to those robots. In the Flea's unceasing pursuit of outstanding achievement in the field of excellence I noticed a recurring theme in James Cameron's somewhat dismissive recent remarks on why he did not write or direct T3. He had run out of ideas, he claimed, due to having already done three Terminator movies. The Flea's quick count of Terminator and Terminator II: Judgment Day meant I did not have to run out of spectral antennae before becoming confused.

Cameron was referring to a Universal Studios theme-park movie experience: Terminator 2: 3D - Battle Across Time.

Join forces with the TERMINATOR® in a battle to prevent mankind’s extinction at the cold, steel hands of futuristic cyborgs. Live action stunts, special effects and amazing 3-D film come together in an adventure that says “Hasta la vista, baby” to entertainment as you know it.

This monster cost sixty-million bucks for twelve minutes making it arguably the most expensive film ever made on a per minute basis at five-million a minute. It features the T-200 proto-Terminator, the T-1,000,000 super Terminator and a cameo by Skynet itself. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Robert Patrick all reprise their roles thereby accounting for at least some of the cost and for some of my sense that T3 was not the true sequel to T2.

Posted by the Flea at 11:10 AM

ReDating human migration to North America

An archaeological site in Siberia -- long thought to be the original jumping off point for crossing the Bering land bridge into North America -- is actually much younger than previously believed, shaking the theory that the first Americans migrated overland during the final cold snap of the last great ice age.

Using radiocarbon dating, scientists found that the Ushki site, the remains of a community of hunters clustered around Ushki Lake in northeastern Russia, appears to be only about 13,000 years old -- 4,000 years younger than originally thought.

The Ushki site presents problems for established views of human migration to North America but would appear to be consistent with new genetic models suggesting a more recent migration in the 13,000 year range. Dates attributed to Clovis, Broken Mammoth and other sites may now need to be revisited.

Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM

August 05, 2003

Political diva

Not sure how I feel about this. I wanted to be Condi Rice too.

You are...Ann Coulter!
You are...Ann Coulter, political commentator!
Rather than be in the process, you'd rather sit
on the outside and provide commentary. You're
bitingly sarcastic and have a lot or rage
against what you percieve to be idiocy.

What Political Diva Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by the Flea at 09:43 PM


Another reason the Flea requires a digital camera.

Posted by the Flea at 11:01 AM

Victoria's Secret nipple outrage

Comments to my recent coverage of Angelina Jolie's nipple outrage suggest Flea-readers share her annoyance. Extensive Googling reveals Tomb Raider's marketing worries are shared by whoever puts together Victoria's Secret advertizing. This on-line exposé not only reveals the heinous practice but is perhaps the most juvenile thing I have ever linked to from this site.

Posted by the Flea at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

Nova Scotia is not New Scotland

Mike Campbell discusses mysterious effects of place name translations. Particularly irritating is the habit of calling Nova Scotia "New Scotland" whether as an affectation in English or a mistranslation into French.

What about Saskatchewan? Should I now call this province, Swift River?

No Mike, you should call it Sasquatchewan! It's all part of the plan.

Posted by the Flea at 10:46 AM

Waru waru fever

Traditional Inca waru waru farming technologies and techniques appear have the potential to triple food production:

Potatoes and grains such as quinoa are grown in the elevated earth, while underwater ferns in the canals provide a home for nitrogen-rich green algae that provide a natural fertilizer. The water in the canals allows for ``splash irrigation'' and even creates a slightly warmer micro-climate that protects crops from the killer frost of the harsh altiplano nights. By absorbing the strong equatorial sunlight during the day, the water retains enough solar radiation to raise overnight temperatures by nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Posted by the Flea at 10:40 AM

Tomb raiding in Oaxaca

Raided in the nicest possible way, you understand. A tomb has been opened under the patios of ancient El Palmillo:

On the walls and roofs, Feinman believes the residents cultivated an array of cacti that provided them with food and textiles that allowed them to prosper in an area too dry to grow corn or much else. Their primary staple was probably agave cactus, which the Spaniards later began distilling into mezcal, a liquor.

Mmm. Mezcal. Cactus was also used for fencing and marking property boundaries. I first learned of this practice from another region of Mexico when I was introduced to my favourite relic at the Royal Academy's recent Aztec exhibition: a stone-cactus which acted as a boundary marker between the Aztec capital and a neighbouring city-state (no luck so far finding an image of it). Tenochca, or people of the prickly-pear cactus, is the proper name of the Aztecs so-called for the foundation myth of Tenochtitlan. "Cactus Rock" was the rock-hard cool name of what is now Mexico City. It's founding myth is illustrated prominently in Mexico's flag.

Posted by the Flea at 10:25 AM

August 04, 2003

I have not yet begun to fight!

Newsweek editor and Inside Washington regular Evan Thomas appeared in an MSNBC to promote his new book John Paul Jones : Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy:

The British ship swung open her gun ports. Jones grimly took the measure of the black iron muzzles that thrust out: among her forty-four guns, HMS Serapis had a battery of twenty 18-pounders, ten to a side. At close range, a cannonball from one of these guns could smash through the thickest bulkhead of a warship and keep on going right through the other side, if it did not obliterate a man or a gun in the way. Jones had his doubts about the reliability of his own half-dozen 18-pounders, which were old. French cannon had a bad reputation for bursting.

I went looking for John Paul Jones material on "the internet" and found, amongst other things, an image of the standard he flew when he took HMS Serapis. This lead me to a website detailing unofficial ship flags starting with the earliest days of the United States Navy (this cheeky story of a British riposte will amuse many Flea-readers).

The heroism of American WWII submariners is particularly moving. Also impressive were the flags of USS Barb, USS Harder and USS Jack which showed me once again the Simpsons have an astonishing grasp of history.

Posted by the Flea at 09:39 AM

Beach bum Kylie

The Daily Express had distressing news for Kylie fans with the revelation her new stylist would lead her to a "more muted and elegant Parisian style". Now the Sun reports Kylie's French-look is more Brigitte Bardot than Coco Chanel.

Posted by the Flea at 09:16 AM

The ultimate SUV

The "ultimate SUV" may be the ultimate emblem for every stereotype about the United States (via the Cracker Barrel Philosopher). If only this baby had a rack of deer-lights on the roof it could be the ultimate Fleamobile.

Posted by the Flea at 09:06 AM

Looted antiquities

A New York Times article considers the ethics of purchasing, displaying or even studying artifacts of uncertain provenance for fear of encouraging looters. An ancient limestone fragment which is part of the Metropolitan Museum's current "Art of the First Cities" exhibition is a good example of the ethical ambiguities the article illustrates.

Until about four years ago, when a scholar spotted it in the Upper East Side home of a prominent collector, the Naram-Sin limestone was essentially unknown. No record of its excavation or history of ownership has emerged. In antiquities circles, that empty space amounts to a warning label: this piece may be the fruit of plunder.

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

Elgin Marbles

The British Museum may be negotiating with Greek authorities over the Elgin Marbles:

The museum has confirmed it had talked with the Greeks about lending the marbles, despite repeatedly stating they would remain in Britain.

In Athens, work has started on a $74 million Acropolis Museum, which has been designed specifically to exhibit the marbles. Under the proposed deal, the exhibition space might formally be designated an annexe of the British Museum.

The BM now "categorically" denies it is in any such talks. This earlier Flea-post has some Elgin Marble-related links. I am not a fan of the Elgin Marbles as I have never understood the attraction of classical Greek sculpture. Many others are less cretinous than the Flea, see something I do not and and have made this stuff the top attraction at the BM after the Rosetta Stone.

Let us be clear about this: if the Marbles are sent to Greece on loan it will be the last the British Museum sees of them. My knee-jerk reaction is opposed to the "return" of the Marbles. But then I have not read Christopher Hitchens' book on the subject. A reviewer writes:

As Hitchens makes manifestly clear, most of the arguments against restoring the marbles are incredibly weak. First, restoring the marbles is a unique act, not necessarily a precedent. Furthermore, the importance of the Parthenon and Greek culture in a shared Western Heritage means restoring them would be an act of restoring our own background and history. Elgin may have helped save some of the marbles; certainly leaving them in the Parthenon would have exposed them to the toxic pollution of Greece. But so long as the marbles are returned to Greece and placed in a climate-controlled museum until the Athenian air is cleared, what possible objection can there be? And given the history of these sculptures, the fact they were designed by Phidias to be part of the Parthenon argues strongly that they should be viewed in situ. They're a tangible link to the golden era of Pericles, and should be viewed in the temple he was responsible for building.

If this rebuts weak arguments against restoring the Marbles I see no strong argument in favour. Nobody is suggesting they should be viewed in situ but rather nearer-situ in the form of another museum space (the author of this review moves from one location to another in one sentence to the next). Revisionist history may see Elgin's purchase of the Marbles as an expression of crypto-colonial arrogance. In fact, if not for European collectors the statues would have been used for lime, the fate of much of the rest of the Parthenon facility. It is a bit rich for the apparatchiks of contemporary tourism industries to claim a romantic attachment to objects whose value is derived soley from that which was placed upon them by British antiquarians of yester-year.

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

National Geographic News exploits Tomb Raider

This National Geographic article exploits marketing for Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider in a cheap headline intended to generate interest in a prosaic article about new technologies in archaeology.

In the movie Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, intrepid archaeologist Lara Croft, played by Angelina Jolie, uses state-of-the-art technology like a multipurpose digital media device—the Panasonic AV20/30 eWear/d-Snap—and a customized Jeep that can handle Africa's rugged off-road conditions.

Note the use of Angelina Jolie's full-name in the eye-catching first paragraph which misleads readers into thinking the rest may be worth the effort. Truly eye-catching "Angenlina Jolie"-related information is only one reason why the Flea is your one-stop resource for stupid archaeology news.

Posted by the Flea at 08:10 AM

August 02, 2003


My long-lost friend asked me if I had heard of "alf"... Alien life-form, I wondered? She meant the Animal Liberation Front and, in fairness to her, it is the fifth Google hit for Alf.


This Alf is better.

On September 22, 1986, a brown furry loveable alien named Gordon Shumway crashed his spaceship into the Los Angeles home of the Tanners (Willie, Kate, Lynn, and Brian) They immediately took him into their home and their hearts. They named him ALF short for Alien Life Form.

Flea-readers may recall Alf is from Melmac. But what is Melmac made of? I am awed once again by the knowledge at my finger-tips thanks to "the internet". This page has English and German clips from the show, a screensaver and details on not one but two animated spin-off series.

Melmac is made of Melmac.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)


The Flea rattles its ghostly chains in *** Dave's direction!

Posted by the Flea at 10:36 AM

August 01, 2003

Angelina Jolie nipple outrage

"I wanted my nipples to be there to see."


The Flea shudders to think at the search-engine traffic the title of this post will generate. My implacable commitment to reporting stupid archaeology-related news means I must face the consequences.

Angelina Jolie has spoken of her anger that her picture for the Tomb Raider poster has been retouched to remove her nipples. The actress's protruding nipples were removed from the posters after producers feared they could prove offensive and spark a string of complaints, according to Austrian magazine News.

Jolies explains how changes to her high-protein diet in preparation for the first Tomb Raider film explain changes to her bust-size in the new one. I can say honestly I had not noticed. The Flea watches these movies for the archaeology!

Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM | Comments (8)

Well, hello Mr. Fancy-pants

I am thankful Bruce Campbell drives an Explorer. This may have saved him from serious injury (via Fark).

Bruce Campbell, an actor whose credits include "Evil Dead," "Hercules," "Xena, Warrior Princess" and "Spider-Man" suffered minor injuries in a weekend accident. Campbell, 45, of Jacksonville, was driving late Saturday when his car was struck by a Jeep driven by 36-year-old Steven Michael Sellers of Medford.

Posted by the Flea at 10:53 AM

Dark Tower

Stephen King's Dark Tower novels started out as slow-moving, introspective and surreal meditations in the vein of a medieval mystery play. I imagine the first one was written before King's vault into pulp super-stardom as the novels have slid ever-closer to King's post-superstar televisual style as they have been published. This did not stop me from purchasing the Wizard and Glass deluxe limited edition hard-cover with illustrations by Dave McKean. It nows looks as though the structure of the remainder of the series is set... the über-flash of the offical website is worth a look.

Posted by the Flea at 10:45 AM