July 31, 2007

The Last Post


A body washes up on a beach, thought to be the remains of Jeremy Blake. Glenn O'Brien writes a last post to The Wit of the Staircase expecting Theresa Duncan to offer some final mot juste (via LA Observed).

I keep thinking that somewhere Theresa has thought up a perfect witty response to all of this but, alas, it is finally too late. Her Internet diary, The Wit of the Staircase, was named for “esprit d’escalier,” for “the witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended…The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till afterwards it suddenly comes to you when it’s too late.” The spirit of the Spirit was that it’s never too late. But now it is. It’s over when it’s over.

Or possibly not. Blake's show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art is to go ahead this fall.

Posted by the Flea at 07:31 AM

The Cure: To Wish Impossible Things

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

July 30, 2007

Books I have not read


Pierre Bayard is a psychoanalyst, professor of French Literature at the University of Paris (VIII) and turns up on French chat shows (warning: head tilt). The ultimate cake life, in other words.

But all is not gâteau for a man expected to have read some books and does not enjoy reading. Worse yet, as a professor he is often expect to comment on books he has never read.

... he divides the works he mentions into four categories: “LI” indicates “livres inconnus” (books he is unfamiliar with); “LP” “livres parcourus” (books glanced at); “LE” “livres dont j’ai entendu parler” (books he has heard discussed) and “LO” “les livres que j’ai oubliés” (books he has read but forgotten). Ulysses, for example, falls into the category “LE”: he claims not to have read the novel, but he can place it within its literary context, knows that it is in a sense a reprise of the Odyssey, that it follows the ebb and flow of consciousness, and that it takes place in Dublin over the course of a single day. When teaching he makes frequent and unflinching references to Joyce.

Good man. There is no other way to survive undergraduate teaching. I knew a professor of philosophy at a certain Canadian university who could not bear the thought of Sartre but could not stand anyone knowing it. Instead of wading through Being and Nothingness she opened her copy to the last page and carefully wrote an exclamation mark after the final sentence. Problem solved.

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Iggy Pop: The Passenger

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM

Also featured: The genetic lottery

A film-adaptation of Repo! The Genetic Opera starts shooting in Toronto on September 10. How to get a gig as an extra, preferably one who gets organ-harvested? I will do (almost) anything to be in a film with Paris Hilton (hat tip to Sadie).

The movie, based on a successful theatrical production by Terrence Zdunich and Darren Smith, is about an organ failure epidemic in 2056 that forces people to purchase genetically perfect ones from Geneco, a biotech company committed to collecting regular payments.

“The idea is that everybody is buying up organs, and they cannot afford to pay for these organs,” director Darren Lynn Bousman recently told MTV. “Thus, legalized organ repo-men come into the picture. Murder becomes sanctioned by law. So, if you buy a heart and can't afford it, someone can burst through the door and take your heart out… and they don’t get in trouble for it."

High concept.

Posted by the Flea at 07:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2007

An imperial adventurer of a particularly English sort


Let me first say I loved the Jason Bourne movies and look forward to the next one, if slightly less than I had. I particularly enjoyed the first one, whatever it was called, and especially the love interest who was later to play the daughter of an Armenian gangster on The Shield. Now that's some fine television. But my enthusiasm for the Bourne films is not unalloyed upon learning Matt Damon believes Jason Bourne is quite different from James Bond. You don't say.

Bond is "an imperialist and he's a misogynist. He kills people and laughs and sips martinis and wisecracks about it," Damon, 36, told The Associated Press in an interview.

"Bourne is this paranoid guy. He's on the run. He's not the government. The government is after him. He's a serial monogamist who's in love with his dead girlfriend and can't stop thinking about her," Damon said. "He's the opposite of James Bond."

I tend to agree. Yet Damon fails to grasp the consequences of his own observation. Babbling Brooks sums up the distinction neatly.

... let's simply look at the morality of the two characters: one uses his unique talents to benefit his country, and the other uses them to help himself. The distinction is important: Bond is to Bourne what the taxman is to the thief, what the policeman is to the vigilante, what the soldier is to the insurgent. Of course, if you don't subscribe to the idea that governments should have a monopoly on violence, that point won't sway you.
Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (9)

David Bowie: Let's Dance (live)

What a week. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM


This Jubilee Line Extension documentary has its high-points; I am particularly drawn to the line-walkers and their 8k nightly treks in the dark. But as official stories go it misses much of the use to which ordinary people put the Tube.

Skiing at the Angel, for example. Or an ever so slightly affected dinner party.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

July 26, 2007



The place: "The first and only true cyberpunk bar"... Savage Garden, 550 Queen West, Toronto
The time: Doors open at 8. I am on just after 9. I asked the promoter for a 9-5 friendly spot in the line-up...
The door: $5- 19+
The gig: Toronto Noise Promotions presents TECHNICAL GLITCH experimental/IDM/noise night.... featuring Toronto Noise Company, Ghost of a flea, NWODTLEM, Crushkill, Worma, Moonbass, This Camera is Red, Cauterwall, Brother Rat, Kyle Bobby Dunn and featuring DJ Razorgrrl & B7.

Worth the cover if only for B7 assuming he is in his Tusken Raider gear.

I admit I am not quite sure where I was going with the "poseur" tagline. Parker Posey/poseur/vampires/goths, etc. Basically, I did not think it through; it has been that kind of 24 hours. Tomorrow: Thoughts on James Bond and imperialism. Spoiler for new Flea-readers: I am pro-James Bond and pro-imperialism.

Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM | Comments (6)

Rammstein: Benzin

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (1)

I resemble that remark

Mike Mitchell considers a middle-class Batman. The image is priceless (hat tip to Mr. Taylor*).

The idea is that this is a Middle Class Batman. Its still Bruce, and his parents were still murdered, but they were never rich, and he still ended up becoming Batman...but with a bit of a budget.

* Who is blogging about the extended family at the moment, btw.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

July 25, 2007

The opposite of silence (updated)


Theresa Duncan, film-maker and video-game designer, perhaps best known to Flea-readers as the writer and publisher of The Wit of the Staircase, is dead. She committed suicide July 10. Many of us are only finding out now - her last posts suggested she was away on business - as the press seeks comment from the many people touched by her work and her spirit.*

Horror upon horror, her long-time partner followed her into the unknown region. It seems he chose not to live without her.

In a case that is reverberating in the art world, the New York Police Department said yesterday that a video-game designer and budding filmmaker committed suicide last week and that her companion, a rising art star, has been missing since Tuesday.

The filmmaker, Theresa Duncan, 40, who has also drawn attention for her writings on cultural topics, committed suicide in their East Village apartment on July 10, the police said. Her companion, Jeremy Blake, 35, a well-regarded artist known for digital animation that blurs the line between abstract painting and film, has been missing since his clothes were found on a beach in the Rockaways on Tuesday evening, they added.

A New York Post article cites friends who are, of course, shocked at this final turn of events. Shocked by the tragedy and shocked because suicide seems out of character. They were both so absolutely alive.

Theresa is quoted in the comments to Perfume of Life. She had wandered so very far from home.

Q: If you were to make a perfume that embodied the essence of Los Angeles, what would it smell like?

A: My cologne is called Santa Ana after the powerful winds that bring desert heat and faraway smell into the city. It smells like: Celluloid and sand, coyote fur and car exhaust, contrail cloud and chlorine, bitter orange and stage blood and one bushel of ghostly, shivery night-blooming jasmine flowers like blown kisses from the phantoms of the ten thousand screen beauties who still haunt our hills every full moon because they think it's a stage light.

What a soul to come out with a sentence like that. As a friend used to say, she is missing.

* This is the first, and will hopefully be the only, time I have ever learned someone was dead because I was asked for comment. Still, best to know.

Update: The LA Times has more details. Some speculative.

Charlie Finch remembers the couple at artnet.

Links: Other posts about Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake.

The Last Post, July 27, 2007
The Lunar Society of Los Angeles, August 2, 2007
Good Artists Borrow, August 9, 2007
We Are Just Another Damn Song, September 11, 2007
So Not Cool, May 1, 2008
Let. Them. Rest. In. Peace., May 2, 2008
Letting the Freak Flag Fly, October 14, 2009
The Master, December 4, 2009
The fourth, the fifth The minor fall, the major lift, February 27, 2010
The Commodification of Tragedy, May 21, 2010
Ars Memoriae, May 17, 2011

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (4)

Manu Chao: Mr. Bobby

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

* Also, Me gustas tu. Smile, it can't be that bad.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (2)

Tempus, as they say, fugit

As an aside and for the record regarding something I am not going to link: Theresa Duncan was far more accomplished than Kate Moss. But Kate Moss is a great beauty, a professional beauty, and Theresa was capable of appreciating beauty. Some beauty remains while some of us are left to appreciate it.

There are three basic types, Mr. Pizer: The Wills, the Won'ts, and the Can'ts. The Wills accomplish everything, the Won'ts oppose everything, and the Can'ts won't try anything.

The robot is right. A reasonable guide to the personality type your are dealing with is in reaction to the success or failure of well-known, accomplished people. If the first instinct is to do the same - to do better - you are dealing with a Will. If it is to belittle, dismiss or pathologize the accomplishment you are dealing with a Won't. If it is to ask for an autograph, that's a Can't.

In my experience it is best to surround yourself with other Wills as much as humanly possible. Move heaven and earth to be with the Wills; the Won'ts will stop at nothing to prevent you from succeeding. Increasingly I find I cannot stand the Won'ts. I have no patience left for them. F--- them. They have no Mastery.

If there is something you want to do - something awesome - then do it now. The grass is not greener. Life is short. Etc. It is only a platitude if you do not act on it.

And on that note: I am playing Savage Garden tomorrow night. My limited edition, numbered promo EP will make its debut then and there.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (6)

July 24, 2007



Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal; Chloe Sevigny would do away with the whole thing (hat tip to Sadie). This is a most distressing prospect for me due to my love of all things fugly.

How to reconcile the hotness of Sevigny with the problematical fact of my current abode? Perhaps we should get with manifest destiny and rename the lot Canadia. U.S. passports for everybody!

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (4)

Mr. Scruff: Get a Move On

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM | TrackBack (0)

Platform 9 and 3/4

It isn't that people are going to King's Cross and trying to enter Platform 9 and 3/4. It isn't that they are filming themselves doing it and putting the results up on the internet. It is that I have not gone to King's Cross and tried to enter Platform 9 and 3/4 myself.

Muggle Science Update: Lots of relatives in Tewkebury and Gloucester and surrounds. My favourite part of this Channel 4 report asking "What caused the flooding?" is an exchange with a "climate change" scientist. Their models, see, claim things should be getting dryer. Not the worry: The opposite of what we predicted proves what we predicted... give us more money!

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2007

Black Sisters: Voldemort is King

For Flea-readers in the aftermath - and consequently having no fear of spoilers - the only book review I care about is offered by the always pureblood Black Sisters. And people wonder why I am in House Slytherin... Their Order of the Phoenix (bad) film review is even better. Here too is the equally excellent (good) film review for contrast.*

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

* Jason of Postpolitical offers another review of the film. I agree with the broad strokes of his argument though - fair warning - this is a man who will not read the books because he does not want them to spoil the movies. Which is twisted. Any reader will know, for example, why Harry has to continue living at Little Whinging until his coming of age.

Certamen Update: Black Sisters duel!

Posted by the Flea at 09:31 AM

After Potter

J.K. Rowling reads from the introduction to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the atrium of the Natural History Museum, July 21, 2007; many wizards and witches are in attendance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM

July 20, 2007

First Date Music

First Date Music cover.jpg

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (5)

Burial: Unite

I make music because of this album.

M: Tell me about “The Car Test.”

B: ‘The Car Test’ started with me boring the f*** out of my mates, trying to play tunes. The car test was ‘do they sound good on the car stereo at night time, driving through London?’ That’s ‘The Car Test.’ Some Detroit tunes have that too, that distance in the tune. The ‘thousand yard stare’ in the tune.

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: This dubstep documentary featuring Loefah, Kode9 and a very posh sounding Blackdown.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

New Victorians

Lizzy Ratner's New York Observer piece on the values of the new 20-somethings is interesting sociologically; where did these people come from? I can only think the diamond rings and anti-Xer talk is itself both a reaction to and fulfillment of the messianic Boomer self-concept. Their ostensibly perfect children, having never been told any different, echo their parent's high opinion of the little darlings.

Quite how this stands up in the world as the New Victorians leave an educational system that never dared to judge them on anything but "participation" has yet to be seen. More important still is how the diamond rings and statements of intention translate into foreign policy. These are the people who will run the world one day. Whatever is left of it once the Boomers are through.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (8)

July 19, 2007

And a xenomorph on a hamster wheel


Much as his visions of Dune never saw the silver screen, H.R. Giger's Batmobile never graced Batman Forever. Which might be just as well; Batman is already creepy enough.

H.R. Giger was also contacted to design a Batmobile for Batman Forever. His unique "X" shaped design was to include articulated front legs/mandibles, retractable fins, and gatling gun emplacements on each of the four pods on the sides of the vehicle. The design also combined side and forward intake ports with organinic spines and a central pod connecting the four legs.

Flea-readers pining for an X-shaped automobile chittering down the boulevard may find some small comfort with an H.R. Giger train-set.

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

Lydia Lunch: Dance Of The Dead Children

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

Columbia Pictures presents...

The Telltale Heart (via La Main Gauche). This one was almost posted as a Flea-dance; think Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

July 18, 2007

Don't F*** With Hitch


Christopher Hitchens denies the existence of God. But then he would wouldn't he? The Son of Man and all that... And as for the Other Place.

If anyone should be gloating at the collapse and disgrace of Lord Black of Crossharbour, the absurd title with which Conrad Black invested himself on being raised to the British peerage, that someone should be me. In the mid-1980s he boasted to a reporter that he was going to buy the London Spectator in order to fire me as its Washington correspondent. When I heard the news, I thought: Here we go again, another newspaper tycoon gone clean off his trolley with megalomania. Next thing we know, he'll have to build himself a revolving room, like Lord Northcliffe of the Daily Mail, or announce that he's a poached egg and demand a large piece of toast to lie down on, or build an opera house in which his untalented girlfriend can sing.

With a tip of the hat to the Drink Soaked Trots.

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (8)

If all else fails: The Mule

J. Richard Gott III has forecast, amongst other things, the longevity of Broadway plays, newspapers, dogs and the tenure in office of hundreds of political leaders around the world. Also, that humanity will be around for at least another 5100 years. Shades of psychohistory... John Tierney echoes Gott calling it a Copernican Principle (via Instapundit).

He bases predictions on just one bit of data, how long something has lasted already; and on one assumption, that there is nothing special about the particular moment that you’re observing this phenomenon. This assumption is called the Copernican Principle, after the astronomer who assumed he wasn’t seeing the universe from a special spot in the center.

Suppose you want to forecast the political longevity of the leader of a foreign country, and you know nothing about her country except that she has just finished her 39th week in power. What are the odds that she’ll leave office in her 40th week? According to the Copernican Principle, there’s nothing special about this week, so there’s only a 1-in-40 chance, or 2.5 percent, that she’s now in the final week of her tenure. It’s equally unlikely that she’s still at the very beginning of her tenure. If she were just completing the first 2.5 percent of her time in power, that would mean her remaining time would be 39 times as long as the period she’s already served — 1,521 more weeks (a little more than 29 years).

So you can now confidently forecast that she will stay in power at least one more week but not as long as 1,521 weeks. The odds of your being wrong are 2.5 percent on the short end and 2.5 percent on the long end — a total of just 5 percent, which means that your forecast has an expected accuracy of 95 percent, the scientific standard for statistical significance.

Which is very interesting though I am not certain Tierney's math is quite working. Still. The snag: Gott thinks our long term survival depends on a Mars colony up and running in the next 46 years. I say we make it.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2007

Posh and Becks, cont.


Traffic is down what with Flea-readership on summer vacation. I may be forced to post extra cheesecake. Not to do anything for the numbers, mind you, but as a form of instant karma for anyone currently lounging on a beach instead of cruising the dextrosphere.

Here is Victoria Beckham (QT audio clip) interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the event of her arrival in Los Angeles. She seems quite nice and entirely - bizarrely - normal, actually. My guess: Libra. I missed the reality show last night as I was flying into Toronto...

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (6)

Dire Straits: Romeo and Juliet

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM | Comments (4)

How to you like Harry Potter?

Ron Charles, Washington Post book critic and twat, is better than those "perfectly intelligent, mature people" who enjoy Harry Potter. So, what does a worthy enjoy by way of fiction - "the kind of contemplation, independence and solitude that real engagement with books demands -- and rewards."

My favorite was "The Law of Dreams," a first novel by a 56-year-old writer named Peter Behrens. It's the story of an orphaned boy who doesn't know why he survived the evil force that killed his parents -- and left him scarred. Set during the Irish potato famine of 1847, it's not a fantasy, and it's not for children, but there are plenty of monsters here, and Behrens writes in a style that's pure magic. As of this writing, it has sold 8,367 copies in the United States.

The tale of a boy orphaned by the Irish potato famine; no prizes for guessing who Behrens, and Charles, think the "evil force" might be (starts with the E and rhymes with Spinglish). Charming. Imagine being this guy's 10-year old daughter and having been forced to endure his contempt-ridden rendition of J.K. Rowling's work. I would asked him to stop well before book IV.

I could care less if people enjoy Harry Potter. What I cannot stand is an arch would be superiority that insists on distancing itself from the fun the rest of us are having. A long list of things I have little to no interest in includes Carabana, basketball and Bridle Path tours of the gardens of Toronto society. And yet somehow I manage to endure the passions of others without typing myself into a fit of Puritan ecstasy.

House Ravenclaw Update: The Tiger is Spartacus. "School stories are moral stories." Quite. And I suspect this is much of the reason for the contempt J.K. Rowling garners from the ersatz clever set. It would not do to teach children right from wrong, duty and obligation, honour and courage, etc. and so forth.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (2)

July 16, 2007

Victoria Regina


I confess there are times I choose not to address a subject at the Flea for fear of encouraging competition in an ongoing eBay quest. Such was the case for the Victoria Regina Tarot. No need for a Tarot of the Flea; this is it. The dratted deck had gone out of print before I made a decision to purchase it and, having failed to follow the Moscow Rule of Shopping*, I had to do without until spotting a sole survivor at Sunnyside Books in Ottawa. When the battle zepellin's improbability drive is working again, this is the deck I am taking with me to Deadwood.

So that's settled. On-line readings are available for those who must continue to do without. Also loving the wallpapers.

* Not to be (entirely) confused with the Moscow Rules. But then the CIA used to be cool once upon a time.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | Comments (1)

Clan of Xymox: Imagination

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Creating awareness

Just by reading Jeff's post to Agent Bedhead you will help create awareness of life-threatening celebutard posturing. Act now. Read his post. Only you can stop wasteful public policy protesting the weather. Small children and ducklings are counting on you. Go now.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | Comments (2)

July 13, 2007

Mrs. Peel


I was going to write something like: Yes, yes, Diana Rigg. But please, Joanna Lumley. Then I watched the 1967 Avengers opening credits and I realized, oh, right, Diana Rigg. Also featuring feminine wiles and PVC.* So, sorry about that. A useful reminder of an England before it lost its bottle. As the Bard put it, another country.

But still, Joanna Lumley on Top Gear: The World's Fastest Grandmother!**

* Also Helen Mirren. Best not to think about it too carefully.
** Not a grandmother at this point... And now, back to Plymouth (nsfw, blurry).

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (7)

Sopor Aeternus: The Goat

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

July 12, 2007

The Lesser Book of the Vishanti


Catherine Yronwode has posted her index of magick in Dr. Strange to the internet. This is certain to come in handy to aspiring witches and warlocks; my first book of spells was a spiral-bound Spiderman notebook featuring all the lore that could be gleaned from Dr. Strange and Mighty Isis.

The Lesser Book of the Vishanti has taken on a life of its own. Even a single published chapter, viz Chapter 2 on Deities, Powers and Forces, created echoes back into the Multiverse.

Although the Lesser Book of the Vishanti remained only partially published, it was pretty well known and respected in fandom by that time, and i was immensely gratified when one after another, various Marvel scripters and editors who worked on the Dr. Strange series asked for copies of the portions that were available. Even more gratifying was the fact that the fictive speculations i had made about the personae of the Vishanti were eventually used to create "canonical" stories that became part of the Marvel Universe. Specifically, my fannish suggestion that the Vishanti were actually Agamotto, Hoggoth, and Oshtur, first published in 1979, was eventually made part of the official Marvel mythos in the 1980s, by the scripter Peter Gillis.

Careful with this stuff. If you imagine a book like the Necronomicon it is only a matter of time before it starts writing itself. To parse Lucian by way of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: "I say to you againe, do not calle up that which you can not put downe." In case you do, repeat the following (loudly and with drama):


Sound advice.

Always had this thing about Clea Update: In other magick news, Kylie and Dr. Who on the Titanic (hat tip to Mr. Dodds).

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM

Test Dept: T.S.M.

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM


Being Warren Ellis, he considers stabbing an eyeball tattooing and asks a question:

So, is this just a staggeringly retarded thing to do? Well... possibly. I think the spirit of the thing is absolutely correct. Why have a bicycle and only ever ride it on the pavement?

And me with 905 friends scandalized by news of a new 416 friend engaged in chocolate skull manufacture.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (3)

July 11, 2007

Tail-end charlie


Flea-idol, Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear - the best show on television - have been accused of eco-crime for driving about the lifeless salt plains world's last pristine wilderness, the Makgadikgadi salt pans of Botswana. The crime? Failing to drive single file thereby having a laugh scarring the fragile local ecosystem. Now, one might expect this sort of caddishness from Imperial Storm Troopers (everyone knows the Sand People ride single-file) but from the BBC the same hijinx leaves delectable traces of hypocrisy given the Beeb's mind-numbing eco-puritanism.

Of course it would help if the accusations were not utter nonsense. The real target here is a popular television series known for its "petrol head" politics and unashamed love of toys for boys. Can't have that; thought-crime. Meanwhile, a casual perusal of Makgadikgadi images via Google reveals a whole lot of non-single file going on. This includes an image posted by the government of Botswana and - my favourite - a majestic seven abreast from Pangaea Expeditions (above). Some may say tire-tracks in caustic alkali sands are a problem; of course, the next time it rains they will be left with nothing to complain about. But by then, I expect, they will have found some fresh witch to burn.

The critics might also have thought to refer to Clarkson's own description of the instructions he and his crew received before crossing the wasteland.

If you want to kill your children, there's no quicker way that I can see than buying them one of those 50cc jobbies you sometimes see at garden centres. My son went on one the other day and in less than two minutes, he and it were in the swimming pool. And yet, there I was, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi, on a bitterly cold pre-dawn morning in August, with my wife, my three children and two guides - the ridiculously good-looking Ralph and an 18-foot Zulu called Super. No, I'm not joking. Super is his real name.

Super was going to be tail-end charlie for our 250-mile trek. But first, he had a health-and-safety lecture to deliver, Botswana style. Two weeks later I'm able to quote the whole thing verbatim. It went like this..."Let's go".

There were no helmets, no high-visibility jackets, no disclaimers to sign, no lectures on what to do if you were to be hit in the face by a giant meteorite and no reason that Super could see why our seven-year-old shouldn't drive her bike the whole way if she wanted to. Which she did, very much.

And not a word of outrage from the thin of skin. Still, the complaints let me learn about the pristine wilderness of Botswana, its Australians on three-wheelers and its primordial concrete aardvarks. Et in Arcadia ego.

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

David Bowie: Be My Wife

In the near future Japanese people will pay to have teeth as cool as mine come natural. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

* Note to self: As soon as the improbability drive is working, set coordinates for Manhattan, December, 1979 and kidnap Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias so I can cover TVC15 properly.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM

Top Gear s09e06

I knew Billie Piper was cute. I had no idea how cute. It's the accent you see. Just delightful.* **

* Any Billie Piper coverage - even of the see-through variety - is sure to irritate Andrew. Better throw him a bone; it looks like one of his mates is running for office: Lee Rotherham for Mayor of London!
** And by delightful I mean sending me into Pon'far early.

Posted by the Flea at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2007

Venetian Snares: Szamár Madár

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM

What a pity

Will describes him - quite accurately I should think - as a petit-bourgeois individualist dilettante. Well, I am all in favour of that sort of thing. Hazzah for Anthony Carr, vicar of Holy Trinity church in East Peckham. Carr walked into the police station in Tonbridge...

"I said to the officer 'I want to report a crime' and I took out my pipe and lit it.

"He said 'Will you please put that out as this is a no smoking area' and I said 'I will not'."

When officers told him he would not be "bundled into" the back of a van he said "what a pity".

An environmental health issue, apparently; as with so much else these days, not the business of the police.

Posted by the Flea at 07:08 AM

July 09, 2007

Help us decide what to wear!


Paperlilies and Theslyestfox go cosplay shopping. Wonder Woman and Supergirl are featured. And they said the internet would never be perfect.

Though I should point out this Dan Radcliffe plan conflicts with my Theslyestfox plan. I am quite certain she has more in common with me than some actor.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Spinal Tap: Stonehenge (live)

Let no one say Live Earth was without redeeming moments.* Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

* Or giant creepy holograms. I still cannot stand al-Gore's voice. As for the fragile layer in which we live: Less Live Earth, more Belter independence.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (2)

Bring graph paper, 500' of rope and a ten-foot pole

Stone mined to build Bath has left a village undermined. Now 15km of underground roads have been built to reach and fill the voids. This BBC video conveys the scale of the problem.

Miners from Wales are helping to save hundreds of homes from collapse in one of England's most picturesque cities. They cross the Severn Bridge each day to stabilise stone mines underneath Bath, amid fears for houses above its historic Combe Down mines. Miles of mining tunnels run beneath the city, some of them only about 2m (6ft) below the surface.

It is not clear to me how foamed concrete squares with preserving archaeological features of note or habitat for rare Greater Horseshoe bats and endangered Gelatinous Cubes. Depressing thought: A subsiding miner's cottage on the outskirts of Bath is well beyond my means; £350,000 manages a semi-detached (must consider larger tip-jar).

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2007

Technical Glitch

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The date: 26/07/2007
The place: Savage Garden, 550 Queen West, Toronto
The time: Doors open at 8
The cost: $5- 19+

Toronto Noise Promotions presents TECHNICAL GLITGH experimental/IDM/noise night.... one venue/two rooms featuring Toronto Noise Company, Ghost of a flea, NWODTLEM, Crushkill, Worma, Moonbass, This Camera is Red, Cauterwall, Brother Rat, Kyle Bobby Dunn along with DJ Razorgrrl and B7.

Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM | Comments (1)

Mighty Dub Katz: Magic Carpet Ride

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)

Sony VAIO customer service

Jane Galt describes her ongoing nightmare with Sony VAIO customer service. The preamble is familiar and this sentiment spot on:

This makes me angrier than I'd be if they'd just said, "You know what, screw you." At least then I wouldn't be wasting my time on the illusion that someday, they might make my computer work.

The comments are worth a look. My favourite: A guy still enraged at Sony for a Beta repair problem in the mid-'80s. Feeling better and better about my HP Pavilion all the time.

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM

July 06, 2007

Welcome to my house. Enter freely and of your own will.


Flea-readers with a spare US$135m might consider hitting the tip jar; Bran Castle is for sale. There could hardly be a more ideal Flea HQ.

An heir of Romania's former royal family put "Dracula's Castle" in Transylvania up for sale on Monday, hoping to secure a buyer who will respect "the property and its history," a U.S.-based investment company said. The Bran Castle, perched on a cliff near Brasov in mountainous central Romania, is a top tourist attraction because of its ties to Prince Vlad the Impaler, the warlord whose cruelty inspired Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula."

In related news: Vampires still kicking werewolf ass. Not related at all really: The Hauntening. Scaaary.

Househunting Update: Agent Bedhead calls it the ultimate chick magnet.

... the labyrinth of hidden corners and secret chambers are guaranteed to fluster even the least ditzy busty babes, so unsuspecting females will have no choice but to rip open their bodices, fling themselves upon Dracula’s bed, and beg for mercy.

This is very nearly correct.

Posted by the Flea at 06:07 AM | Comments (2)

Otto Dix: Ego

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:04 AM

July 05, 2007

The Cardigans: Don't blame your daughter

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

July 04, 2007

Best. Xmas. Ever.


Kylie Minogue is to star in this year's Dr. Who Christmas Special (hat tip to Jadjad).

The star will join David Tennant for Voyage of the Damned, an hour-long show following on from the current series, which ended in the UK on Saturday.

"This will be the most ambitious and best Christmas episode yet," promised executive producer Russell T Davies, who has also written the script.

Hecklerspray explains the importance of two national treasures teaming up for Xmas tea-time.

Ultimate Companion Update: End of Season 3 spoiler alert. Also, Kylie. Red nail polish, anyone?

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

Earth, Wind & Fire: Let's Groove

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (via the Jawas). And if that is insufficiently awesome check out the original.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Loop Quantum Gravity

Penn State physicist, Martin Bojowald gives some thought to the Big Before. It turns out the minimum volume of the universe at the "Big Bang" was not zero and its maximum energy was not infinite...

The idea that the universe erupted with a Big Bang explosion has been a big barrier in scientific attempts to understand the origin of our expanding universe, although the Big Bang long has been considered by physicists to be the best model. As described by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the origin of the Big Bang is a mathematically nonsensical state -- a "singularity" of zero volume that nevertheless contained infinite density and infinitely large energy. Now, however, Bojowald and other physicists at Penn State are exploring territory unknown even to Einstein -- the time before the Big Bang -- using a mathematical time machine called Loop Quantum Gravity. This theory, which combines Einstein's Theory of General Relativity with equations of quantum physics that did not exist in Einstein's day, is the first mathematical description to systematically establish the existence of the Big Bounce and to deduce properties of the earlier universe from which our own may have sprung.

Beyonder to line five. Paging the Beyonder...

In tangentially related physics: Warren Ellis comments on global warming. We have two choices, apparently.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

July 03, 2007



Dutch physicist turned artist, Theo Jansen makes "skeletons which are able to walk on the wind." These kinetic sculptures may be the most amazing thing I have seen on the internet.

For fifteen years Theo Jansen from Holland has wholeheartedly devoted himself to create a new form of life. His "Strandbeest" (beach beasts) seem so organic that from a distance they could be mistaken for huge insects or prehistoric mammoth skeletons, but they are made of materials from the industrial age: flexible plastic tubes, adhesive tape. They were born inside a computer as an algorithm, but they do not require engines, sensors or any other type of advanced technology in order to walk. They move thanks to the force of the wind and wet sand they find in their habitat of the Dutch coast.

Jansen explains his method: "Fifty years ago I started to make basic forms of life..."

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (7)

Ministry: Breath

Oh to be at Porter Hall again. Crank up the speakers: Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

July 02, 2007

From the Oak High School inaugural Variety Show: Theme to Halo and Halo 2

Think of this post as an oasis between two news of of the stupids. It is enough to give one faith in the youth of today.* Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

* And here. And here. And for the real enthusiasts, here. I do not know what it means that I get choked up every time I hear the piece. Note to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra: If you want a full house, do this.

So... can you tune a marimba to the key of E Dorian?

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM