Wednesday, 31 August 2011


This is completely stupid. You answer a few questions and this gizmo tells you what sort of cheese you are. I have no idea how it was determined that 'putting friends and family first' is related to a particular variety of cheese, but there you go. And some people say that the internet is a waste of time!

I am blue cheese!
Cheese Test: What type of cheese are you?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Days Like These

Last Wednesday I spent the first five waking hours thinking it was Saturday. This caused untold confusion when reading the Radio Times.Today, however, I know that it will be Saturday tomorrow so it must be Friday. That's alright, then.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Mash Up: Paperback Believer

Edinburgh Jokes

The self-styled 'Home of Witty Banter' TV channel Dave has sponsored an award for the Funniest Joke at this year's Edinburgh Festival, which has been won by Nick Helm:
"I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."
Not bad, not bad. Some of the others are quite good too:
Matt Kirschen: "I was playing chess with my friend and he said, "Let's make this interesting". So we stopped playing chess."
Alan Sharp: "I was in a band which we called The Prevention, because we hoped people would say we were better than The Cure."

Monday, 22 August 2011

Wesley Scroggins: So It Goes

You're probably thinking I've made up this bloke's name but no, he's an actual person. So, what's up with Mr Scroggins? Well, he's been giving Christians a bad name.
Actually, that's Dr Scroggins to you; he has a Phd from New Mexico State University and he's an Associate Professor in Management in the College of Business Administration at Missouri State University. He is a resident of a small town called Republic in Greene County, Missouri. As such, he raised a complaint last year with the School Board  of the Republic High School about three books which he considers contain material - language, storylines, characterisations - which is 'contrary to what The Bible teaches'. The School Board has duly considered the matter and have 'banned' two of the books: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The ban means that these books won't be part of the curriculum at the school, nor will they be stocked in the school library. Students can of course still get the books elsewhere either from a public library or from Amazon, but if they have them in school or cite them as 'independent reading' then students must have a letter from their parents giving permission.
I haven't read Twenty Boy Summer, but by all accounts, it seems to be quite relevant for teenage Americans as it deals with peer pressure, relationships, loyalty, and the death of someone close. Sarah Ockler has responded publicly to point out how dumb this 'ban' is and the Vonnegut estate has responded by offering free copies of Slaughterhouse Five to students of Republic High School.
Slaughterhouse Five is one of the best books of the 20th century and is very moral indeed, highlighting the futility of war and pointing out that 'good guys' often do bad things. If Kurt Vonnegut were alive to hear of this 'ban', I expect he would be laughing his socks off. Especially as the Bible itself contains many tales of rape, slaughter, treachery, adultery and so forth - some of it sanctioned or initiated by the main protagonist himself: 'God'... However, it does not feature a race of aliens from Tralfamadore or a central character, an optometrist called Billy Pilgrim, who is lost in time. Or Kilgore Trout, more's the pity.
Scroggins is another of these American idiots who fail to grasp that under their much-vaunted constitution, church and state are separate. What the Bible, or any other holy book, teaches should not therefore be a consideration when it comes to determining the school curriculum. And when you think of the quantity and variety of different interpretations of exactly what it is that the Bible, or any other holy book, might teach, it's just as well.
I haven't been able to confirm this but, as I understand it, Scroggins does not actually have any children at the Republic High School. In which case it's none of his business anyway. Ho hum.

Scrabble Word Checker

For any Scrabble aficionado, enthusiast, devotee,fanatic, junkie, freak, nut or maniac out there, here is an official Scrabble word checker:

From the Collins website. Publishers of the official Scrabble books.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A tight jockstrap...

When Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl lost to his compatriot Musumba Bwayla in a local tournament, he had a considered and lengthy excuse for his defeat: "Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia."
And it looks like someone also lost their concentration when writing out his name.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Riots 2

Wood Green was back to 'normal' yesterday, swarming with a mass of diverse humanity but with extra police, although some shops were boarded up awaiting repairs: Quicksilver, O2 phoneshop, Next, H&M, Leather Shop, Specsavers, Vison Express, Boots and Bodyshop (amongst others). So the rioters have got themselves new trainers, leather jackets, Ray Bans, mobiles, shirts and trousers, and they smell better.
This is from Charlie Brooker's article in The Guardian today, in which he takes the p**s out of the rioters -
"Why the obsession with trainers? Trainers are s**t. You stick them on your feet and walk around for a while 'til they go out of fashion. Whoopie doo. Yes, I know they're also status symbols, but anyone who tries to impress others with their shoe choice is a dismally pathetic character indeed – and anyone genuinely impressed by said footwear has all the soaring spirit of a punnet of moss. There's no life to be found in "look at my shoes". There just isn't."

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Albums I Bought In 1966

Freak Out - The Mothers of Invention
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
Revolver - The Beatles
Aftermath - The Rolling Stones
Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan
Fresh Cream - Cream
The Monkees - The Monkees
(My excuse for the Monkees is that my great-aunt Ada had provided the funds and I felt duty bound to get something she'd heard of and wouldn't cause domestic ructions. Actually, it wasn't too bad as these things go.)

Thursday, 11 August 2011


David Cameron recalled Parliament to debate the riots of the last few days and has made a big speech. That'll sort the problem out alright then. The MPs have all had a good grumble and expressed their outrage and now they can all go back on holiday, safe in the knowledge that their travel costs between Tuscany (or wherever) and Westminster and back can be claimed on expenses.
Nathaniel Tapley has written a well-observed article on his blog in which he draws a comparison between the behaviour of the rioters and that of David Cameron and Boris Johnson, amongst others, whilst members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford: drunkenness and pointless vandalism. Tapley also points out how MPs should be the last people to criticise others for acts of short-sighted greed, given the expenses scandal and other acts of dishonesty perpetrated by our Honourable Friends. Worth reading.
Retribution has been promised for the rioting miscreants, but it would also be a good idea to look a bit more deeply into the issue to find out why the rioters behaved as they did. It's not as simple a problem as Cameron would like it to be.

Slender Threads in Edinburgh

Hello! I am on tour with Chickenshed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We are doing a show called Slender Threads, about the effects of a breast cancer diagnosis on a family. It's a tough subject! I am doing the technical side of things...this involves sound, video projection and being confused by the lighting desk. We got here on the 3rd of August and had some time to get used to everything in our flat. I'm sharing with Kieran, Michael, Mark and Phil C. My name is now Phlaines.
So ... our performance space, the Zoo Roxy. This used to be some kind of church and then was refurbished in 1909 as an Art House. The space is nice, a bit different to what we are used to at Chickenshed but it has a nice old character. It looked a bit small when we first got in but we all fit fine. We had 2 hours to tech run the whole show, which really wasnt enough. Also it didn't help that the brand new expensive projector mount broke so it wasn't safe to hang. So I used some brains and went to Homebase and bought a washer and fixed it. It was a stupid design. It's all going well so far, we have had a couple of good reviews and the 'Critics Choice' in The Times for dance. We had a critic in from The Scotsman today...I think she gave us a standing ovation or she could have been really eager to leave. Anyway this other review came out today which is a really good one and should help us with our lacklustre ticket sales: The List.
Anyway I'm going to make some spicy chicken now. Oh yeah we are also running a childrens show in the morning called Tales From The Shed, in the downstairs space of the Zoo Roxy called The Warren. I have to play the piano and make stupid noises - I'm pretty good at that.


Sunday, 7 August 2011

I've Thought Of A Way To Get Out Of Here!

[Where G is the universal gravitational constant,
M is the mass of the planet, star or other body, and
r is the distance from the centre of gravity].

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Correct Use of Dissonance

Things That Should Be Disinvented No. 43

Blister Packs
Why do manufacturers still insist on enclosing stuff in this wretched packaging? Impossible to open without a sharp knife and/or scissors, thereby risking severing an artery or major flesh wound. And sometimes damaging the product in the process. Surely maufacturers have also found themselves on the receiving end of blister packs and would thus have sent their designing chappies back to the drawing board to come up with an alternative. Or even a perforated edge along which one could tear. But it's probably more likely that they will come up with a new gadget specially designed for opening blister packs, reasonably priced at three times the cost of a pair of scissors...