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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

On Shortlist

Those of you who reside in London will have probably seen or picked up the free weekly men's magazine Shortlist, copies of which are handed out at tube stations on a Thursday.  At first I enjoyed having a flick through this seemingly harmless publication.  As time ticked relentlessly by, however, it soon became apparent that Shortlist is essentially terrible.  It was my brother who was able to put his finger on what is wrong with it - more often than not you find yourself reading an "article" which seems to be praising some new Gillette beard gunk only to look at the author and see that Gillette wrote it.  I worry that not enough people realise that this is the case.  Shortlist have the male population of the country (yes, London is the only important part of the UK, nay the world) by the gonads and won't be letting go soon.

Another bloody awful aspect of this pamphlet of dreck is the inane photo captions for nearly every article.  There is some poor soul in their office who's job involves coming up with supposedly funny captions that Kenny Bania would be embarrassed about.  I can imagine them slaving away in a windowless room, desperately searching for a line about a photo of another boring indie band.

This week's issue in particular made me laugh and cry in equal measure.  It features an interview with Gordon Brown.  Now, I don't mind Gordon.  I think he's been unlucky in terms of timing and is obviously under a hell of a lot of pressure, but this interview just doesn't help.  In it he makes the shocking revelation that he has "been to cinemas in London", has read a book, but neglects to mention (or perhaps be asked about) any policies or things that matter.  At one point, the interviewer reveals that he is there on a Sunday.  Was this last Sunday?  I hope not, because Gord surely had more important things going on than an interview with Shortlist.  Other highlights of the issue include 'Jared Leto's Top-Ten Thought Provoking Reads' (doubtful that he wrote it) and another exciting instalment of the 'Lucozade Sport Shortlist Peak Performance Challenge' in which Lucozade Sport scientist Gareth Nicholas recommends that one of the participants should correct a lack of carbs by drinking more Lucozade Sport recovery shakes.

Shortlist won consumer magazine of the year in the 2009 Independent Publisher Awards.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Most Hated Men in Britain

From the Sun newspaper:

ASHLEY Cole was yesterday named the most hated man in Britain in a website vote by 3,000 women - even beating hate preacher Abu Hamza. The full top ten in the OnePoll.com survey was:

1 Ashley Cole. 2 John Terry. 3 Abu Hamza. 4 Tiger Woods. 5 Lotto lout Mikey Carroll. 6 Boris Johnson. 7 Gordon Ramsay. 8 Darren Day. 9 Gordon Brown. 10 Vernon Kay.


Does Tiger Woods even count?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Fearbuzz

Do you fear things?  Are you pregnant?  Are you prone to fits of utter panic and terror when you listen to stuff?

If the answer is yes, then please do not listen to this noise which I heard on New Year's Eve 2009 in Belsize Park.  Blood curdling stuff:

    Fearbuzz  by  El_Nacnud

Eavesdrop

I was watching a football match on vuh telleh at a pub last year.  An old man in a Chelsea cap ambled in during the first half and began to babble nonsense.  Here is an example:

    Eavesdrop  by  El_Nacnud

Fabergash



Another piece of classic punditry

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lionel Jeffries dies

I was taken by the BBC's description of Lionel Jeffries, who died recently:

"Known for his bald head, baritone voice and bristling moustache."

Jeffries directed the Railway Children.

Branson



I was privy to a weird discussion on the tube a couple of nights ago.  Some drunk people got on and at first I assumed they knew each other.  One began with a charming line about Cherie Blair/Booth, wife of former PM Tony Blair.  He blathered something along the lines of

"I asked 'what kind of giant did you crawl from?!'  Because, you know, she is a f***ing man beast".

Hilarious, especially coming from someone who wasn't exactly a beautiful human specimen himself (think Rick Moranis crossed with Arnold Rimmer).

Next, they started mocking someone they knew who doesn't speak English very well, and then shouted at someone at the end of the tube carriage because they knew him from "another school".

It was at this point that I started to record them, and they began to bellow at each other about Richard Branson.  Rimmer decided to tell an awful joke about Branson saying "push off, you peasant" to someone in the "VIP area" of a plane.  Oh how they guffawed.

The pièce de résistance came from a particularly posh and aggressive member of their party who chipped in, claiming to know exactly Branson first became rich:

Angry lad: "No, the first place he made his money was a (slight pause due to intoxication) CAROUSEL scheme.  He sold stuff on... just made money... like the TOOTH FAIRY!"

Rimmer: "How did he make money?"

Angry lad: "Like a carousel scheme, where you ship sh*t to other countries and you collect the tax refunds.  But you're not shipping anything so you're not paying anything, and it goes round the world and you haven't shipped sh*t.  And he shipped like a thousand mobile phones, and he collects the tax, the 17% tax on a thousand mobile phones, and he made - and he did it accidentally and he didn't realise it was illegal, and he just made loads of money."

Rimmer decided to start talking about someone running and trousers, whilst my brother and I mulled over the nugget of information gold that we'd just heard.  Richard Branson made money by shipping sh*t and mobile phones accidentally?  His first scheme was tax fraud on mobile phones?  I thought mobile phones were first mass produced in the 1980s, and I am sure Branson first made a fortune in the early 1970s.

As we discussed this at a clearly audible volume, the chaps realised we were lampooning them and accused my brother of being Branson's brother.  One of them had the tube carriage rolling in the aisle by suggesting to his cohort to ask if my brother was "a virgin".  Genius.

At Warren Street, three of them got off.  It became clear that Rimmer didn't actually know them.  As he sat down he sighed.

"Wonderful people."

We ignored him.


Update: here is my recording of the conversation - 


    Tube Chat  by  El_Nacnud 

Monday, 15 February 2010

Word association part 1

I have had an idea for a regular feature.  I am going to choose a book or magazine from my flat, go to the page number that corresponds with the date (or part of the date) and write the first sentence that starts on that page.  I will then choose a word from that sentence which stands out and write about what it means to me.

Today: How to (DJ Properly) - The Art and Science of Playing Records by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster.
Length of book: 288 pages.
Page number chosen: 152 (15/02/2010).

"A low rumbling roar, usually your decks picking up vibrations from the speakers."

Hmmm, quite a dry one to kick things off.  The word that immediately stands out to me is "decks".

I used to DJ myself.  I started when I was about 15, I think to try and gain some cred at my high school.  The in thing seemed to be DJing and I longed to be thought of as one of the trendiest lads in my year, if not the whole damn place.  It wasn't as if I was unpopular.  I was one of the best footballers, and had lots of friends.  The trouble was that I didn't feel cool.  I wasn't invited to many parties by the people who commanded the most respect and attention.  I thought that getting decks would make me one of them.

HA!

The music to claim to like back then in my school was drum 'n' bass, or jungle.  Typically, I hardly ever listen to it these days.  I like Bob Dylan now.  One of the cool lads had some decks, as did a couple of others, and I thought that this was a perfect chance to do something relatively unique, which would make girls like me and others want to invite me to "town" on a Saturday afternoon, so I persuaded my Dad to get me some decks for my birthday.

I absolutely fell in love with them.  These were my ones and twos, my Numarks, my ticket to stardom.  Trouble was, I was aiming to be a turntablist and these decks weren't exactly Technics 1210s.  The other main problem was that I wasn't very good.  I decided to switch to breaks and actually discovered I was quite good.  Another major problem then reared its head - it's an expensive hobby if you aren't paid to DJ.  Things were different back in the early 2000s.  These days, young whippersnappers can use MP3 decks... I was committed to vinyl and a wallet-busting habit.  Everywhere I went, I sought out record shops in order to pick up rare white labels and classic funk releases.  I was a vinyl junkie.

So was this making me more popular at 6th Form?  No.  Frustrated and growing ever poorer, I decided to sell my decks but keep my record collection.

It was at university that I finally started to be asked to DJ at parties and in bars, and yet it wasn't quite the same without my decks.  I had some fantastic nights at houseparties spinning a set, but I had started buying records again and the expense kept nagging at me.  I do still have all my records and one day I will probably buy some Technics in order to fulfil one of my dreams of ownership, but for now I can do without them and my vinyl addiction lies dormant.

Oil Sharks and Suffolk

I am from that wondrously flat county of Suffolk, and my family has been visiting Southwold each and every December since the early 1990s to celebrate my Mum's birthday.  Last December, I was the last of us to arrive and was greeted by my brother's declaration that you could see a wind-farm being built off the coast of the town.


"It's like a whole new town", Sean enthused.  "and as if the Belgian coast had been moved closer to Britain".  I nodded and took his word for it. 


On the way back from the chippy, my Dad took us on a detour so that I could see the spectacular sight.  Lo-and-behold, there it twinkled in the distance.  It was dark, so all you could see were the flashing and blinking lights, bobbing away out at sea.  What else could it be but a wind-farm under construction?  I found the prospect of one being built off Southwold an exciting one.  I think they're far from the eyesores that many consider them to be.  They are elegant tributes to engineering.  Dad and Sean even talked about a company taking boat tours out to see the turbines.


The next day, our friends who own the house that we always stay in popped by to say hi.  My Dad piped up to ask David if he knew more about the wind-farm.  Surprisingly, he shook his head and instead told us that there was no wind-farm.  The mini-town of lights was in fact a fleet of oil tankers moored off the coast waiting for the most profitable time to get rid of their cargo.  I looked it up, and by jove he was right!  There are others scattered (or "loitering", as the ever low-key Daily Mail put it) around the UK coast, but Southwold's is the largest.






I had a search on the news wires earlier today, and found this latest story from the Lowestoft Journal.  Those pesky Norfolk Pirates are bound to come and have a go soon.  Be on guard, people of Southwold...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Garth



I was watching Garth Crooks's bizarre performance on Match of the Day 2 this evening. After his declaration that John Terry has "balls of steel", he came up with this gem:

video

Stunning stuff.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Shoe shine

What's your ambition?  You may have grand and unrealistic ones like making a difference in a war-zone or completing an inter-continental triathlon.  All very nice and that, but are you ever actually going to get off your sofa and do it?  Are you really going to break out of your cycle of work, telleh, bed, repeat?

The answer is.... well I don't know what the answer is.  Who do you think I am, Mystic Meg?

All I am saying is, sometimes a less ambitious ambition is perfectly acceptable.  Mine, par example, is to have my shoes shined whilst reading the New York Times at Grand Central Station in NYC.  That's it.  The shining would have to be done by large eared Italian-American who would sell (or "hawk" as I believe our American cousins say) me some tickets to the ball game and buff my brogues so I could see my face in them.  I would have a bit of banter with him, say that we should take the USofA back into our Empire where it belongs and then part ways, full of the joys of spring.  Granted, I do have to go to America for this, but it's not asking for much.  What's thousands of miles in the grand scheme of.... oh.