Pages

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Poem - The Tallest Man in Lancashire

The peasants crowd around to sneer,
At the tallest man in Lancashire,
He tries to run yet as he flees,
He trips and falls onto his knees,
And at the point the world goes black,
Whilst Johnny Eccles does attack,
The tallest man in all Cheshire,
Kills all and sundry with a spear.

Seinfeld Clip of the Day - George Becomes a Hand Model

A lot of people approach Seinfeld in a similar way to how I did.  The first few episodes left me slightly dissatisfied.  I couldn't warm to Jerry, and felt I had to as his name was the show's name.  Then I began to get it. Jerry Seinfeld is the perfect comic creation for the lead in such a show as he isn't overbearing, and isn't necessarily likeable.  He is the ideal vessel for stories to develop through and his consistently clever and smart comments are always on the button.  Essentially, we would all like to be Jerry.  He has it all.

As I watched more and more of the show, two characters really started to stand out.  I liked George for his angry moments and the misfortunes that regularly beset him, but Kramer and his crazy schemes was the one I really took to.  He still is one of my favourite characters in Seinfeld, but after about Season 3, George came into his own and I understood that he is the true star and driving force behind so may of the stories.  Seinfeld is about George Costanza, and so today I present one of my favourite scenes involving George.

In Season 5, Episode 2 - The Puffy Shirt - George gets spotted by a model scout after he bumps into her.  She takes one look at his hands and signs him up on the spot.  This clip sees his Mother and Father (Estelle and Frank) bickering as usual over George's new found success:



Frank is one of the best regular characters outside of the 4 mains.  He is played by Jerry Stiller, father of Ben.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Seinfeld Clip of the Day - Kramer on Marriage

What's the best sitcom ever?  Of course, it's Love Thy Neighbour.  What's the next greatest?  Seinfeld.

Here, as a new regular piece, I present a Seinfeld clip of the day.  This is perhaps the best speech by Kramer, from Season 7, Episode 1 - The Engagement:



I particularly like Kramer's dialogue between the husband and wife.  Classic.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers fill me with fascination and wonder.  Yes, they can be read as an exhibition of wealth and an extension of capitalist pigdogs' manhood, but I prefer to see them as a testament to mankind's ability and skill.  When I just pause to think about the sheer scale of even some of the supposedly minor skyscrapers out there, I am bamboozled by the very idea that they can be built.  How are these engineering geniuses doing it?  How can you even start to design such towers as the current holder of the world's tallest building record - the Burj Khalifa in Dubai:


There is a problem, however.  The Dubai project, which saw them trying to build more and more ridiculously large or weird buildings, has ultimately been a bit of a folly.  Dubai is broke and so are a lot of the people they hoped would invest in or move to the most off-its-tits city on Earth.  I think Charlie Brooker summed up my feelings perfectly in his piece on Dubai last year in the Guardian, so I'll stop the Dubai chat here.

Instead, I am going to focus on some of my favourite skyscrapers currently standing and under construction in London and around the world, and will throw in a few of the more wacky ones out there in demented minds of architects.  A lot of my info on skyscapers comes from the superb Emporis website, so cheers to those chaps.

The Gherkin
In London, we have a pretty flat skyline.  I have no problem with that in places, as it is right for the view of St. Paul's, the Palace of Westminster etc. to be protected.  My office window currently looks over London from south of the river, and we have an exciting view of London as we can see the old aforementioned classics as well as the latest additions to the skyline.  The City has a few skyscrapers, but few are attractive or innovative in my eyes, as is the case with the boxy Canary Wharf.  There are exceptions, however, including the "Gherkin", or 30 St. Mary Axe.

I love its shape, pattern and colour.  It really is a ground-breaking building in my eyes, and has been copied in a few other cities like Barcelona.




The other great skyscrapers which are in London are actually yet to come.  Tower 42 was the largest building in the City of London until the Heron Tower took over that mantle... and it hasn't even been finished.  It is going to have a 70,000 gallon fish tank in its lobby.  Fantastic.

Heron Tower
I think maybe the most exciting developments will be the Pinnacle (or Bishopsgate Tower) in the City, and the Shard at London Bridge.  The Pinnacle will be the second tallest building in the UK, and the Shard will be the tallest.  I think the Pinnacle will be more aesthetically pleasing than the Shard, but will not have as much of a wow-factor as the Shard.


Pinnacle
Shard



















As far as the rest of the world goes, I have some obvious favourites like the Empire State and Flatiron Buildings in NYC and the Shanghai World Financial Centre (looks like a bottle opener).  I also have a soft spot for a building in Nagoya, Japan, called the Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers, which I saw being built when I was living there:


Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers

Whilst trawling Emporis, I stumbled upon a section of towers which had been planned or dreamt up.  Some of these are absolutely crazy, like one in Dubai which has floors which will rotate independently of each other, and another one in bonkers-ville which will be 1km high:

Mental
(although I think it has been put on hold due to Dubai not having any money anymore... the idiots).

So, in summary, skyscrapers can be awesome as well as pretty stupid.  If anyone has read J.G. Ballard's High Rise, then you will understand my total fear at ever living in a skyscraper and the prospect of having to fight for survival in a building with a population in the throes of complete collapse.  I will be, however, forever obsessed with them from a design and construction point-of-view.
Keep on reaching for the skies, humankind........................... within reason, of course!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A Poem - Just For Men

"Who's that vibrant gentleman,
Whose hair absorbs all light?
His beard is oh so free of greys,
He is a true delight."

But nay, fair maid, it is a lie,
Add on 5 years or ten,
His mane is white, his death is nigh,
He's wearing Just for Men.


Is this my first serious poem?  You be the judge.......


Go on!  Judge me you coward!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Running

I went for a run in Regent's Park today.  For the record, I have never been skiing, despite what my headgear may suggest.

Before:


After:


I am a machine.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A Poem - Beans Haiku

I have just read an article about Haiku Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Union.  It has made me see the Belgian Statesman in a whole new light.  It turns out he is a fan of Haiku, the Japanese forms of poetry which stays to a strict structure of three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables (or moras/on).

Here is an example of Herman's work (translated from Dutch, so in English not exactly a haiku):

Birds in concert,
One sings above all others,
I don't know its name.

I have written a couple of nonsensical poems recently (see previous blog entries), and here is my latest - a haiku:

Beans

Beans toast and mushrooms,
Add a dash of Worcester sauce,
Nyum nyum nyum tasty.



Who knows, I may write a serious poem one of these days.  Be prepared...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Word association part 2

So my regular feature, "Word Association" has so far stretched to a pathetic 1 post.  Let's change that and the world with another wee piece of date-related musings as I grab the latest publication within my clawing grasp.

Today: Vic Reeves' Vast Book of World Knowledge by Vic Reeves.  Length of book: pages not numbered.

Oh dear.

Instead, I'll go for the book next to that, which is: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, selected by and written by leading international critics.
Length of book: 960 pages.
Page number chosen: 193 (19/03/2010).


New editions of this book have been re-published since I got it in 2004.  So that's 6 years' worth of movies that I MUST SEE BEFORE I DIE on top of the ones already in this!!!

Anyway, to the first sentence on page 193.


"English cinema is perhaps best known for realist dramas, but an important second tradition is the costume melodrama, of which The Man in Grey is probably the finest example and one of the more popular films Gainsborough Studios ever made."

Firstly, I have never heard of The Man in Grey or indeed Gainsborough Studios, which leaves a lot of quite meaningless (to me) words in this sentence (note to self, try to pick some more interesting books to do this with!).  From this sentence, I would choose "English cinema" as the one that means most to me, and for the purposes of this will think about British cinema.

I find British films eternally frustrating.  Some of my favourite films are British, like Get Carter and The Ladykillers, yet so many of them flatter to deceive.  Film-makers seem to think that casting a Dame or Knight of the Realm will suffice.  Sadly this is oh so often untrue.  For every piece of genius like Vera Drake, we get a self-important wet-blanket like Mrs Henderson Presents.  Similarly, so many British movies seem to only get the green light if some Hollywood star is given a role in order to supposedly raise the chances of the film making money in the States.  True British cinema is all too rare, yet when we get it right no-one can touch us.

So here's to the next true British film, and all who sail in her.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Poem - Cardigans

"All the colours of the rainbow",
The cardigan salesman did huff.
Are there any buttons on this one?
And can this cardy accommodate my gun?
"No sir, the wool is not strong enough."

Monday, 15 March 2010

Driver vs. Bee

In today's London Evening Standard.




"Driver fined after stop in bus lane to fight bee."


A motorist has fought an eight-month battle to get a parking fine overturned after he pulled into a bus lane to escape being attacked by a bee.

Paul Winston was driving his Mercedes CLK along Haverstock Hill in Belsize Park last July when a large bumble bee flew in through the window.
The businessman tried to swat it away but had to stop the vehicle to do so. Although he only pulled into the bus lane for less than a minute and did not leave the vehicle he received a £60 fine fromCamden council through the post.
He said: "I was driving my sister and had the window open because it was a nice summer's day. The bee flew in and was buzzing around. It was very distracting.
"I could have crashed or knocked someone over so I pulled over. I wasn't stopping traffic. I wasn't parked as I didn't leave the car and the rules state you can stop if you are endangering yourself or other road users."
Mr Winston, from Mill Hill, appealed against the penalty charge notice but the appeal was rejected and he was ordered to pay the fine within 28 days or it would increase by 50 per cent.
The matter was referred to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. Last month it ordered that the fine be quashed.
Mr Winston said: "Camden produced a 30-page colour dossier and a DVD to support its case. The amount of time and public money wasted is unbelievable."

A Camden spokesman said Mr Winston did not mention the bee in his first appeal and if he had done so the case would have been resolved sooner.


The caption to the photo of Mr Winston?

"Bee in his bonnet".

Marvellous.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A Poem - Monster Truck

The monster truck driver,
Has no regard,
For the highway code,
"Get off the road".

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Street View goes nuts

Google Street View (part of the marvellous Google Maps) was, until recently, only viewable for major cities and the Norfolk Broads.  Most people are aware of it due to scare stories when it was launched in the UK a year or so ago over privacy issues, which continue to this day.

For any luddites out there in webnet land, it essentially allows users of Google Maps to zoom into a street of their choice and have a look at what said road looks like (from pictures taken from Google's intrepid fleet of camera cars).  You can click along the road as if you were sitting in the car and drag the images around in a fully interactive manner.  It really is a wonder of the internet.  I have been finding it very useful, for example, for househunting.

Today, Street View rolled out on a grand scale.  Until now, patches around London, Birmingham etc. would be the only parts of Blighty to turn "Street View Blue" when you hovered the little yellow man over the map.  Now the entire country becomes available to us to snoop and browse.  Zoom out a bit more and you will see that the same is the case for the US and a large swathe of the developed world, including the Australian Outback.

Here are my highlights of new and expanded Street View:

Australia


Mexico


Minnesota, USA.


Morecambe, UK.



Isn't it beautiful.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Househunting

I am currently searching for someone to join myself and a friend to move into a new flat.


This was on spareroom.co.uk:



BrixtonEarly BirdNew today
I am on benefit (dss)Moving 22/03
£100pw total budgetMore info




I probably won't be getting touch with this person.


Edit: It's not that I wouldn't want to live with anyone on benefits, more that I find it strange that this is the only thing s/he tells us about him/herself...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Terry and Mo...

Imagine, if you will, Rutger Hauer crossed with Jimmy Savile.  Got that?  The white hair, the crow like features and the enthusiastic Yorkshire grit all wrapped up in beautifully tanned chamois leather-esque skin.  This sums up Terrance Evans.


Terry and Mo

I encountered this veritable deity when I went on holiday to the Cretan town of Chania with my family in the summer of 2000.  When we arrived, the Sheffield bred adonis greeted us in the car park of the villa complex that he ran with his wife Mo (who claimed to be good friends with Sean Bean), and their daughter and Greek son in law.

"Hello folks, the name's Terry Evans, and this is me wife, Mo.  Welcome to New Kydonia".

Over the course of the two weeks that we spent there, Terry and Mo were the perfect hosts.  Parties were held for guests, local dancers came to perform, and my brother and I played football against some lads from the area.  The weather was stunning and the location was perfect.  All in all this was one of the best holidays I have ever had.

But one thing stood out from the time I spent in Crete, something that my brother and I howl with laughter at every time we think of Terry and Mo.

I was having a croque monsieur with Sean at the poolside bar/restaurant, soaking in the NK ambiance and listening to Terry burbling on about some adventure he had when he was in the navy.  It was a beautifully fresh day up in the Chania hills.  Suddenly the phone rang and Tel picked up.  He began to have a convoluted conversation with someone who was obviously calling from England.

"Yes, that's right, this is New Kydonia."

"Yes, we are listed in that directory".

etc. etc...

Then, a puzzled expression emerged on his face and he began to scratch his head.  "Who? Maureen!?  Let me think.  There's no-one by that name here, sorry."  An odd thing to say for obvious reasons.  Mo must have been short for Mowgli, or maybe Motown.  She had mentioned her love of soul music before.  The caller persisted and Terry grew increasingly flustered.  "Vangelis!  Do you know a Maureen.  This guy on the phone says he wants to speak with a Maureeeeen."  Vangelis shook his head - he didn't speak much English - and carried on mopping the floor.

My brother and I began to lose it at this point.

Finally, Terry twigged.  "Oh, Maureen.  Yeah, that would be Mo, my wife (of 35 years).  I'll just get her for you," and off he strode as if he had just has the most normal conversation of his life.