September 30, 2006

Imperial history of the Middle East

This Maps of War animation puts matters in perspective (via INDC Journal).

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Greeks, Persians, Europeans...the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.
Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM

September 29, 2006

Una voce poco fa


Once I get my time-machine back on-line it is off to Hamburg and Maria Callas in the year 1959. Too many are devoted to overwrought Wagnerian melodrama1 despite the existence of Italian concoctions which are far superior.2 Take Il barbiere di Siviglia and my favourite rendition of my favourite aria, for example.3

1 Totally unlike Austrian melodrama which is basically sonic icing.
2 'ma!
3 Excepting The Twilight of the Gods Leitmotiv 22 and What's Opera, Doc? Which kick ass.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM | Comments (12)

Julia Migenes: Habanera (L'amour est un oiseau rebelle)

Set shields for diva. In fact, this one is arguably not safe for work due to extreme diva. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. If you don't feel like chancing it, here is an orange by way of substitute until you get home.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Rage for the Machine

The Lonely Punk Republican looks more like a Lonely Rivethead Republican to me. But even as a joke it makes more sense than the monotonous conformity and lockstep "rebellion" of every (well, all but one) punk I have ever met. Young contrarians need not lose heart. For genuine cool one has but to watch William F. Buckley delivering a sound verbal thrashing to Noam Chomsky.

Posted by the Flea at 06:41 AM | Comments (2)

September 28, 2006

Paul Giovanni w. Rachel Verney or possibly Lesley Mackie: Willow's Song

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. This one is definitely nsfw unless you work in the skyclad birthright pagan sector in which case nobody will notice (details here). For everyone else, here is an ad for Kate Bush's latest which answers the question about that mysterious album cover.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

September 27, 2006

Free To Be... You And Me: Sisters And Brothers

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

September 26, 2006

Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere


My family doctor has had quite a few useful things to say to me on subjects not strictly within his medical purview. One sentiment struck me with particular force; this being his fervent hope Frank Herbert's son is hit by a bus before he can further ruin his father's legacy. I will settle for death by bungee, work related three-hole punch injury or some equivalent of the last supper of Mama Cass and the Ham Sandwich of Destiny.*

I will pray for quick and painless, Lord. But Lord, mainly I will pray for quick.

In recent years, Herbert’s son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson have collaborated on their own series of “Dune” novels, in which the authors fill in the back stories of the franchise’s central characters without hitching their sandworms to Frank Herbert’s unfinished opus. (The dust jacket to one such prequel, “Dune: House Corrino,” announces it is “The Triumphant Conclusion to the Blockbuster Trilogy That Made Science Fiction History!”) But the legend of “Dune” still wasn’t finished: while researching their books, Anderson and Herbert the younger say, they discovered a set of safe-deposit boxes containing printed notes and “two old-style computer disks,” on which their predecessor had left detailed plans for a seventh “Dune” novel that would begin where “Chapterhouse” left off. After determining that this newly unearthed material would, in fact, require two books to relate in its entirety (and perhaps filing the anecdote away for use in a future novel, “The Frank Herbert Code” ), the authors set to work on “Hunters of Dune” and the forthcoming “Sandworms of Dune.” Oh, and also a companion volume, “The Road to Dune.”

If it had been The Road to Dune and nothing else he would have done the Old Duke proud. It was a treasure beyond price to read missing chapters from Dune and Dune Messiah. Still, it could have been worse; let us thank the stars for Christopher Tolkien.

*Ironic giant sandworm death would be, like, perfect if such an event might be arranged imagined.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Brian Eno: Prophecy Theme

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. Don't touch me, I'm a grape!

Posted by the Flea at 06:41 AM

Frank Herbert's Dune (1979)

The 1979 Dune table-top strategy game by Avalon Hill, that is. I cannot believe I am only finding out about this thing now. It looks to be the best game adaptation I have seen in any format; certainly superior to the lamentable videogames on offer. If Hasbro cannot be bothered to remarket the game and I cannot track down a copy on eBay it may be possible to produce a table-top hack version...

It is technically possible to play with less, but it robs it of something. My friends and I refuse to play with less than six. The six players each adopt one of the characters/factions of the book: Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, and Harkonnen. The object of the game is to seize three (or, more commonly, four) of the five strongholds on Dune: Arrakeen, Carthag, Sietch Tabr, Habbanya Ridge Sietch, and Tuek's Sietch. This is done with a combination of economic, military, and religious might, with a strong dose of treachery.

Wargame nerds of Toronto: To me!

Posted by the Flea at 06:37 AM | Comments (8)

September 25, 2006

Climb every mountain


Thanks to the attentiveness and consideration of Agent Bedhead and SondraK, and the globe-spanning miracle that is "the internet," I am now able to point to the much anticipated Kylie Minogue calendar for 2007. Though credit is also due to long-time on-again-off-again Kylie-stylist William Baker and, of course, the antipodean pixie herself. The Flea's resolute Kylie media coverage has been sparse these last few months; this due to worries about her illness and all its attendant uncertainties. La Minogue appears to be back in fighting trim.

Talking about her battle to regain her fitness, she recently said: 'I have to get on that walking machine -and I've never been in this situation before.

'I don't have strength, I don't have stamina, I don't have everything I took for granted before. I've got a mountain to climb - but I don't fancy hanging around at the bottom of the mountain.'
Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM | Comments (2)

Cansei de Ser Sexy: Alala

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

The American Office of War Information

U.S. Foreign Service Institute scholar, Tony Corn argues for a specific "distanciation" of U.S. military culture(s) and a new(ish) approach to understanding our adversaries in the Long War.

"Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics." In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a "transformation" of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about — anthropology.

Yes, anthropology. This howler should come with a monitor spray warning. At least, for anyone familiar with today's anthropology departments. I have no doubt that upon a time anthropology could have offered valuable insights into an number of aspects of the current dilemma. Details, say, of Pashtun hospitality customs might come in handy. The American Office of War Information* made use of anthropologists to gain insight into our adversaries in the last great fight against fascism. Ruth Benedict's work to produce her magisterial "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" is only one example:

This book is an instance of Anthropology at a Distance. Study of a culture through its literature, through newspaper clippings, through films and recordings, etc., was necessary when anthropologists aided the United States and its allies in World War II. Unable to visit Nazi Germany or Japan under Hirohito, anthropologists made use of the cultural materials produced studied at a distance. They were attempting to understand the cultural patterns that might be driving their aggression, and hoped to find possible weaknesses, or means of persuasion that had been missed.

Benedict's war work included a major study, largely completed in 1944, aimed at understanding Japanese culture; for the Allies were in combat with Japanese armed forces in the Pacific Theatre of the second World War.

Americans found themselves unable to comprehend matters in Japanese culture. For instance, Americans considered it quite natural for American POWs' to want their families to know they were alive, and to keep quiet when asked for information about troop movements, etc. While Japanese POWs, apparently, gave information freely and did not try to contact their families. Why was that? Why, too, did Asian peoples neither treat the Japanese as their liberators from Western colonialism, nor accept their own supposedly obviously just place in a hierarchy that had Japanese at the top?

Inevitably, Benedict's work is now much derided by academics. The sneer is ostensibly directed at the idea of an "anthropology at a distance" yet the opprobrium has no apparent difficulty leaping sixty years' distance in time. No, Benedict's real thought-crime is to have made herself useful to the democratic powers. Even a fight to the death against Japanese imperialism is insufficient to raise the ire of many in what now passes itself off as the left. Certainly not in comparison to the supposedly martyred cities of the Japanese imperial war-machine. Having crippled itself with a paradoxical mishmash of political bias and the Prime Directive - and having in any event long since abandoned science for a half-baked version of literary criticism - I am baffled at the imaginary anthropology Tony Corn writes about. I cannot expect much help from that quarter.

Fortunately, Corn takes up most of his argument having a go at the contemporary utility of Clauswitz studies to bother with underpinning his introductory rhetorical conceit. I post a link not so much for his peculiarly optimistic appraisal of anthropology as for his attempted take down of the great military thinker.

On a related note is Frank Capra's "Why We Fight"; at least one inspiration for the Free World may come as a surprise. I blame cultural distance more than Capra. After all, the liberation of France sounded like a good idea at the time too.

*Not to be confused with the Office of Scientific Information which made use of bionic anthropologists and possibly Wonder Woman.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM | Comments (5)

September 22, 2006

Nancy Ajram: Moegaba (Ya Leil Ya Aien)

Secularism, globalisation and free market capitalism are all excellent ideas. Here is to an alternate future without the nuclear fire and the black robes. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance... even better "live"!*

*Seriously, the live version kicks ass.

Posted by the Flea at 07:51 AM | Comments (3)

Yudh Abhyas

Training for war can be good news.

Forty Indian soldiers in jungle camouflage descend on a mock village in the central O'ahu mountains, hunting for insurgents. American officers watch for lessons they can apply when leading their own soldiers through the same course on a U.S. Army training ground.

The troops are on the island for the biggest joint drills the Indian and U.S. armies have had to date, the latest sign of growing military relations between the two nuclear powers.
Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM

September 21, 2006

Shakira: Back in Black

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

September 20, 2006

Soviet: Candy Girl

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

September 19, 2006

There and Back Again


Rumour has it Peter Jackson is a step closer to directing The Hobbit, possibly to be released in two parts. This would be extraordinary and welcome news but I am still holding out for a five part Peter Jackson Silmarillion.

Kiwi director Peter Jackson could be shoulder-tapped for the hairy feat of returning to Middle-earth to make the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has revealed it will make a movie version of The Hobbit – and plans to approach the Wellington film-maker.

In the meantime, here are some understated Polish elves and some interesting if undragonish ruminations on Tolkien and "the New Art". Best of all is a photo which takes my breath away. Consider it alongside Eigera, Monch and Jungfrau, otherwise known as Irensaga and Starkhorn flanking the Dwimorberg. Before them lie the road to Dunharrow and the horrors waiting in the Dimholt.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

Led Zeppelin: Over the Hills and Far Away

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*And consider the August 4, 1979 performance of "Misty Mountain Hop" with an August 11, 1979 version by way of comparison.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM | Comments (3)

September 18, 2006

They Might Be Giants: Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM | Comments (1)

September 15, 2006

Chacun à son goût


Imagine if your regional government banned Page 3 girls representing anything more pneumatic than a B Cup and you imagine a precise equivalent to Madrid's current policy toward the Pasarela Cibeles. The only reason this semiotic hygiene is not dismissed out of hand is for supposed fears of anorexia and the inevitable admonition we think of the children.

Yet there is cause for optimism for all this latest foray by the pointed-headed in their Forever War Against Fun. First, the French have refused to surrender to Spanish caprice.

Didier Grumbach, president of the couture federation and chamber of haute couture, told AFP late Thursday that "everyone would laugh" if France attempted to follow suit. ...

"That worries me," Grumbach commented: "We are not going to regulate in tastes and colours. If Jean Paul Gaultier wants to take fat people for his catwalk shows, we are not going to stop him. ... When (John) Galliano puts on the catwalk people who are not pretty pretty, no one thinks to reproach him," he added.

Quite right. As Grace Jones puts it: You use the weapons you've got. Which brings me to our second cause for optimism: Dirndl models. The world is bountiful and with more than enough beauty in the 'verse to go round.

Pull up to the Update: More Grace Jones.

All must have prizes Update: Will England bottle it? And while we are legislating success, let's have legislation banning Olympians who are abnormally tall, fast or strong; if only to be consistent with the maximum intelligence cut-off for holding public office.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Rammstein: Stripped

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. Possibly nsfw due to Leni Riefenstahl though the beta version is breast free.

Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2006

Serge Gainsbourg: Ce Mortel Ennui

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:33 AM | TrackBack (0)

Paris out takes

YouTube is sexy. And speaking personally, my looks account for 95% of my success. Or maybe 98%.

Posted by the Flea at 06:29 AM | Comments (4)

September 13, 2006

She's so ronery


The next wave in viral marketing is called Lonelygirl15; an ersatz, self-referential YouTube auteur.

Lonelygirl15 appears to be an innocent, home-schooled 16-year-old, pouring her heart out for her video camera in the privacy of her bedroom. But since May, her brief posts on the video-sharing site YouTube and the social networking hub MySpace have launched a Web mystery eagerly followed by her million-plus viewers: Who is this sheltered ingenue who calls herself "Bree," and is she in some sort of danger — or, worse, the tool of some giant marketing machine?

A quick viewing of I'm Really, Really, Really Excited!, Me, Religion, and Daniel :( and Poor Pluto are sufficient to get the jist of the program. Though the one featuring the Aleister Crowley portrait seems to have generated the most speculation and so it is worth singling out: A Change In My Life. Her friend Daniel signing himself "Danielbeast" is another clear Crowley reference. The nature of the ritual for which they are purportedly preparing remains unclear. I am expecting something generic and horror movie rather than specific and Crowleyite; a Minerval initiation of the OTO, say.

Every man and every woman is a rock star Update: Was I imagining things last night or does Dave Navarro have a unicursal hexagram tattooed on his right elbow? I think not as it is mentioned in the comments at Navarro's blog. Ahh, both elbows, apparently.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

Princess Superstar: Perfect

Thanks to the Flea's Network Warfare Expert... now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:31 AM

L'Oreal Feria product endorsement

I have tried YouTube to no avail. One thousand quatloos* to the Flea-reader who find the Scarlett Johansson** L'Oreal Feria ad on-line!***

*As long as we all understand I am a bit short on quatloos at the moment.
**She's happy to appeal to older men, btw.
***Flea-readers might be forgiven for imagining that first link lead to pictures of Scarlett Johansson. Especially this one.

Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2006

MiSS DiVa DEE: Come Stop By

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

September 11, 2006

David Bowie & Annie Lennox: Under Pressure

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

America Hax

If WWII was an MMORPG. Hit the Navajo button, guys!

Posted by the Flea at 06:31 AM

September 08, 2006

The stars are blind


Syndicated astrologer Paul Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" has significant advantages over the competition. His commentary seems informed by some actual, like, astrology as opposed to the pre-blended opinion of most advice columns. Given the limitations of a sun-sign alone, his writing is also made distinctive by an unusual turn of metaphor and an apparently genuine sympathy for this readers.

And then there are Brezsny's preachy days. Take this week's thoughts for Capricorn, for example.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Help! Pluto's not a planet any more! Won't that disastrously tweak astrological theory? Actually, no. Nothing whatsoever has changed about Pluto in its role as a revealer of cosmic portents. All that has shifted are the ideas about Pluto that reside in the minds of 424 astronomers who were at the International Astronomical Union's conference in Prague. ("I'm embarrassed for astronomy," said Alan Stearn, science chief of NASA's mission to Pluto. "Less than 5 percent of the world's astronomers voted on the change.") Still, it's important to note how many millions of people take this tiny group's delusions seriously. Let this be a reminder for you to be very discriminating about whose definitions you choose to believe. Use it as a prod to be more aggressive in giving your own names and frames to life's mysteries.

Whatever the tiny group delusions of fewer than five-percent of astronomical opinion, astrology needs a good deal more tweaking than its younger sister profession. One clue lies in the fact of a science which managed not to notice the existence of Pluto for several thousand years.* Now we are only a chance few decades after astronomy defined the place as a planet. But Brezsny thinks this previousnly unnoticed tid-bit is written in stone, if not in the stars, and his fellow scientists* fit for nothing more than a snide dismissal. After all, astrology column need know nothing but that they know better than the International Astronomical Union. And as if by magic it is so.

Beyond pandering to whatever received prejudice sells newspapers I cannot see what Brezsy is being defensive about. Frankly, I am not convinced of the existence of "Neptune" or "Uranus" let alone Pluto. Don't get me started on the asteroids.

* Yes, a science. The longest running longitudinal correlational study in human history, in fact. So much for statistics. Astronomers found Planet X some time after they inferred its existence. Astrology, by contrast, is short on specifics.
**The ones with degrees and theories which allow refutation as well as the odd fracas over points of definition.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM | Comments (3)

Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel: Another Day

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*Gorgeous. Except the bit about Tibetan tea; which sounds good but is, in point of fact, foul.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM | Comments (2)

One margarita

The fascinating thing about her post-DUI arrest Ryan Seacrest interview is to discover Paris Hilton has a normal voice. Much as I suspected. Though I confess I am curious to learn more about her In-N-Out Burger cravings.

"I had one margarita (and) was starving because I had not eaten all day," she said. "Maybe I was speeding a little bit and I got pulled over. I was just really hungry and I wanted to have an In-N-Out Burger."
Posted by the Flea at 06:31 AM | Comments (4)

September 07, 2006

Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge: Pyar Dilon Ka Mela Hai

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*And sing along!

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

September 06, 2006

A new kind of folk music


Some time back A Former Servant of Her Majesty mentioned a friend of a friend or possibly the brother of an ex-girlfriend or possibly a friend whose ex was in a band the salient feature of which was its being an 8-bit act and it was going to be playing somewhere some time. I did not know the term and he kindly explained 8-bit is a genre of pop music composed and performed on any chip that comes to hand and best known for using all video game hardware to generate its sound.

Which I think is a neat idea and entirely organic if in a Gramscian rather than a strictly instrumental sense. Malcolm McLaren saw it coming several years ago, naturally.

Until recently, I was feeling stifled by the tyranny of the new. New corporate lifestyles for doing everything well. Too well. iPod this. PowerBook that. Listening to albums, like Madonna's latest, that were made using Pro Tools - software that reduces virtually every mixdown effect to a mouse click - left me with a depressing sense of sameness, like everything on TV. I had decided to make an album about the "look" of music: the visual gestalt of youth culture. For me, music has always been a bridge between art and fashion, the two realms I care about most. It's one of the most natural expressions of the youthful need for confrontation and rebellion. Now it was lost in the hearts and minds of a karaoke world. I couldn't find my place in it.

Then I discovered chip music.

Some MySpace wandering let me find some for myself. The phenomenon may sound gimmicky but there is nothing contrived in the music of, for example, Mode7. These Super NES inspired musical stylings are by turns whimsical and moving. Listening leaves me with the feeling of half-remembered video game soundtracks of my childhood. Which is a nice thing.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

Theme Zero: On The Inside

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

September 05, 2006

Zayra Update


There is no denying people say bad things about Fox. I ask: Have people seen Zayra Alvarez interviewed by Kennedy on Fox Reality? They have not.* Talk about a fox! Rowr, humana-humana, etc.** The dirth of Rock Star Supernova coverage... sorry, typing this while watching the clip... Zayra just said something about trashy lingerie...*** uhh, right then. The dirth of Supernova-themed Flea-coverage recently has been down to a malaise since Zayra was cut. Which is not to say I am any less a fan of the show. I am happy Magni has stuck around longer than I had expected, Delana's continuing auto-destruct makes good television and I would still give the nod to Toby Rand for the job.**** But the whole somehow seems less news-worthy now.

Time for another look at Zayra's Evanescence cover.

*Unless they have watched this insidious Fox Reality viral ad. Seriously, this zero budget short uses YouTube's bandwidth and my Zayra obsession to advertise Fox product. Say what you like: These guys understand "late capital".
**That's for Kennedy and Zayra, btw.
***And that would be Trashy Lingerie; known to the attentive from an earlier Flea-feature.
****Especially after his Billy Idol cover. Plus the man clearly has the right personality for the band and, say, surviving a tour with Tommy Lee.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

Blaming the Jews

David Aaronovitch's documentary "Blaming the Jews" should be watched by anyone planning to vote in any election, anywhere (Parts One, Two, Three and Four). These links are all via Eric at Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for WAR who later remarks that "to allow one genocide may be regarded as a misfortune; to allow two looks like carelessness." He was talking about Darfur but may as well have meant the Shoah. "Never forget" we used to say; if only it were true. This is scary stuff. Time to wake up.

Also at Channel 4 Update: Planet Earth Under Threat. I could feel a snide remark formulating in the hidden recesses of my being until I spotted this Gelada baboon. If he endorses the project then it is all right by me.

Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM | Comments (2)

September 04, 2006

Roxy Music: The Main Thing

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2006



I had thought Flea Towers to be at the exact antipode of Kylie's island hideaway. It turns out the opposite side of the world from me is somewhere in the Indian Ocean south and west of Australia. Vexed again!

On an unrelated, arguably unhelpful but interesting note: Why do some countries drive on the right and others on the left? It is a class-war thing, apparently.

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | Comments (13)

The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

"Live" on Top of the Pops! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM | Comments (5)

Arrested development

“My theory is that in the incidence of young fame, a person ceases to mature at the age they earn their first million dollars.”

I think this theory is awesome and I am going to go around quoting Agent Bedhead on it starting here. I have sometimes thought along similar lines; ok, every time I buy a lottery ticket. For me, part of the lottery ticket fantasy includes an anxiety that with my hypothetical riches I will not have to work so hard for everything and will basically fossilize into my current self but with a large house and bitchin’ car. While this would be ok in itself, the line of thought then takes me to wondering what I would be like now if I had won the same riches a year ago or five years ago or, God help me, fifteen years ago.

PS to God: Please let win millions of dollars in the lottery. They’d only be Canadian dollars so it’s not like I am asking for much.

Posted by the Flea at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)