Friday, 25 May 2012

Steely Dan, Live!

There are many reasons why a concert by Steely Dan is a truly wonderful experience. Original songs; nifty chords; economic uber-cool jazz-type rock arrangements; impeccable musicianship; humour and a general sense of enjoyment; and the backing singers. Not only can they handle the harmonic intricacies but they sure can kimbo, and they more than compensate for the ugliness of the central protagonists Becker and Fagen. 
[A moment of puerile sexism. Sorry.]

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Catch 22 Strikes Again

If you want to transfer the ownership of your car in Cyprus, both buyer and seller have to attend the 'Citizens' Office' (if you can find it), queue up and sign the appropriate papers. Eventually, one might hope, this procedure will be possible online or even by post, but that's for αύριο (tomorrow) as the Cypriots might say.
However, there is a little wrinkle. The Regulations are such that only the registered owner of the car may take out insurance on the car but you can only register your ownership of the car if you have insurance. So there is a period in the procedure when time has to stop whilst you simultaneously register your ownership and get insurance. Of course, insurance is not provided by the government authorities who register car ownership but by a private sector supplier, who will be located elsewhere. Thus the telephone and Fax machine come in handy while time stands still so that you can register ownership while you get insurance which you can only get if you are the registered owner for which you have to have insurance before you can register ownership. Neat!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Stuff That Should Be Disinvented

They bark, crap randomly, piddle unnecessarily, breed indiscriminately, and sniff each others' bottoms (and humans' nether regions too if given the chance). Some of them are dangerous.
Inappropriate and loud piped music in shops and restaurants
If yer fool enough to go to a disco, loud music probably helps the ambiance and frees up yer inhibitions a tad, especially if it's a good record, so fair enough. But attempting to eat whilst being forced to listen to some techno-bass-trip-hop in a room with lousy acoustics anyway is not much fun. Most people want to talk over a meal. Crap music plus bad acoustics makes this impossible causing a chap to have to talk louder and so it goes.
Christmas Records
If I have to hear Happy Christmas as enunciated by Mr Noddy Holder of the teenage pop combo Slade ever again, there will be measures. This cultural phenomenon is also the cause of several heinous crimes against music by Sir Clifford of Richard.
The Daily Mail
Right wing claptrap mostly made up. Biased, prejudiced, and responsible for misinforming and misleading gullible twits.
Currency Speculation
A chap can understand the business of stocks and shares being sold and traded as it relates to the performance of a single corporate entity. But currency speculation is related to the overall performance of a nation's, or zone's, economy which is made up of very diverse elements and which a government only nominally controls. Besides this, the only people who benefit from currency speculation are the speculators whereas entire national economies can lose by it. Seems daft that governments allow it!
Amongst other digital developments, autotune has inflicted upon us a series of talentless no-hopers and records that all sound the same. If you can't sing you shouldn't be a singer!
Eton & Oxford etc.
The old boy network that perpetuates social division and oppression, and results in idiots like Cameron becoming Prime Minister, and jobs for the boys. I could go on.
The definition of a gentleman is a chap who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't.
Nuclear weapons
These have been used twice. By the USA in the name of democracy, against civilians. Otherwise the notion of Mutually Assured Destruction has inhibited their deployment - be grateful the Russians had them too. Meanwhile, 'conventional' warfare has continued unchecked so what's the point? The problem is that none of the Powers That Be want to be the first to get rid of them, but just think of all the money we could save!
Chelsea Football Club
Chchchtt, ptoo, splat!

Monday, 14 May 2012

What a BRA-gain!

I took a trip to the Westfield Stratford shopping centre at the weekend, and I am very glad that I did...
There are hundreds of shops there, and a new one just opened. Intimissimi.
Intimissimi is an Italian clothing company specialising in ladies underwear. And as it was their opening weekend, ALL the bras were on sale for £9! So, this member of Xorg Intergalactic was able to get £55 worth of bra for £18! What a bargain!

I will not be burning these items in the foreseeable future (see post of 28th December 2010)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Police: Live!

I was proceeding in an easterly direction along the seafront promenade with my colleague El Presidente  when I accounted a group of males and females in quasi-military uniform in Kimon Square preparing for some kind of exhibition or protest. We located a bench nearby from where we could observe the proceedings. The accused were led by a middle-aged Caucasian of average height and build, who communicated to his followers via a series of hand signals which, I regret to inform the Court, I could not decipher. It soon became apparent that we were witnessing an arresting performance of various light classics and popular tunes by The Larnaca Municipal Police Band.
There were good cops and there were bad cops but no Laughing Policeman. The drummer, however, sported a lascivious grin and a few of the female members were seen to giggle from time to time. None of the accused attempted to disguise their appearance and, indeed, bore identification markings. Fortunately, I had about my person my trusty hand-held imaging device and I was able to record events as they unfolded. As a matter of courtesy I will not ask the court to view the band's rendition of a medley of Michael Jackson and Madonna 'hits' from the Eighties. Instead, I offer as evidence of this heinous crime, this short film of their enunciation of 'Copacabana' co-composed by the estimable hooter on legs, Barry Manilow.
It's a dirty job, m'Lud, but someone's got to do it.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Fab New Kitchen Diner

Well, here it is folks. The completed refurbishment of the kitchen etc. Now in use by aged relatives.

Exploding Pants

From Newsbiscuit 
A new to-die-for range of incendiary panty line brief bombs threatens to fly off the shelves at outlets of the Taliban’s favourite shop, Martyrs and Spinsters.The range of exploding underwear, a mixture of Semtex and wearable microfibres, promises to lift and separate martyrs like never before. ‘With these pants your buttocks will end up in different post codes,’ says one designer who worked on the new range, ‘and you’ll be lifted into paradise in no time.’
[Note for rabid Imams: It's a joke. Satire. A spoof, highlighting how silly and cowardly this so-called jihad has become. We 'heathens' generally find pants intrinsically humourous.]

Friday, 11 May 2012

Ukulele Orchestra in Shameless Appeal for Cash

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has been to Australia and had a jolly good time by the sound of it. Well, you can't help but have a good time with a ukulele in your hands.
A chap by the name of Robert Stern has been filming the Ukes and needs £40,000 Australian Dollars to complete production of a DVD documentary of the tour and we are all invited to chip in to make this possible. You won't get a share of any profits from the sale of the documentary (in the unlikely event that there are any) but you will at least get a thank you credit and possibly more depending on how much you contribute. Go to The Ukes Down Under for full details. Meanwhile, here's a video to entice you into the world of funding the Ukes:

See also The Ukulele Orchestra's own website.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Hole in t'Road

We were awoken this morning by the sound of digging machines, lorries and a pneumatic drill as the Water Board set about renewing connections to the mains for some of the houses up the road. All very entertaining as they made no attempt at first to divert traffic, and they arbitrarily chose to deposit several tons of hardcore on the vacant plot of land next to our house, only narrowly avoiding the parked cars. Eventually they did block the road to traffic, but still allowed pedestrians to wander by regardless of the heavy machinery and trip hazards. Any road up, all done and finished in six hours or so and awaiting re-tarmacking. They don't hang about as the Cypriots are quite keen on avoiding leaks, unlike the utilities companies in the UK. If they get a drought here, it's a proper drought and not one brought about by losing 25% of the supply in the pipe network!

Trouble at t'Taverna

It's all gone doolally in The Cradle of Democracy with the electorate daring to vote against the mainstream parties, Pasok and  New Democracy, who agreed the austerity package with Germany and France. It might not be sensible, but it is understandable that the left-wing coalition party Syriza is insisting on abandoning austerity and calling for a moratorium on debt repayments. This will probably lead to tears before bedtime if not the collapse of the Euro or, more likely, Greece being ejected from the Eurozone. As reported by The Guardian, Syriza is offering to form a condition with either of the mainstream parties on the following conditions:
1) The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that will impoverish Greeks further, such as cuts to pensions and salaries.
2) The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that undermine fundamental workers' rights, such as the abolition of collective labour agreements.
3) The immediate abolition of a law granting MPs immunity from prosecution, reform of the electoral law and a general overhaul of the political system.That would include abolishing the 50-seat bonus for the party which wins the most seats.
4) An investigation into Greek banks, and the immediate publication of the audit performed on the Greek banking sector by BlackRock.
5) The setting up of an international auditing committee to investigate the causes of Greece's public deficit, with a moratorium on all debt servicing until the findings of the audit are published.

Good luck with (1) and (2). I have to say I like (3), (4), and (5).

Monday, 7 May 2012


It has been the policy here at Xorg Inter-Galactic for some time now that we do not eat at McDonald's so-called restaurants, unless as a last resort. Let's face it, the 'food' is rubbish and less than satisfying.
But yesterday evening I felt the need for a cup of coffee and rather than pay Starbuck's exorbitant prices for a mediocre product, or those being charged by the other refreshment emporiums on the seafront, I ventured into McDonald's. They will sell you a cup of Douwe Egbert's bog standard filter coffee for €1, so why not?
The coffee itself was OK. But the retail experience reminded me of another reason why one stays out of Ronald's domain. It was absolute bloody bedlam in there. And mayhem, to boot, moreover besides. It's a mystery to me that society has allowed itself to accept this as normal behaviour.

Perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun System

You'll find better pictures of the so-called  'Supermoon' elsewhere (e.g. at the Guardian) but here's how it looked just after the firework display following the flower festival in Larnaca. Picture taken without the aid of a tripod or safety net, hence camera shake!
Note for the astronomically unaware: The moon is actually the same size as it usually is. It just seemed to be bigger as it is temporarily a bit closer to the earth as a result of its elliptical orbit. At least I hope that's the explanation, otherwise it's Goodnight, Vienna!
Some enterprising chap on the seafront was charging people €1 a peep to look through his big telescope at the moon. There weren't many takers but this was perhaps because of his low-key marketing which consisted of the words 'Moon €1' scrawled on a piece of cardboard.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Legal Advice for Cameron

From The Independent yesterday:
"David Cameron is preparing for his appearance before the Leveson Inquiry later this month by receiving personal legal tutoring from a small group of leading lawyers. The legal briefings for the Prime Minister come in a week when the Leveson's Inquiry's investigation of News International moves uncomfortably closer to No 10." 
Cartoon from The New Yorker.

What a Pong!

It has been necessary to clear out the drains leading from the ground floor flat to the main sewer. We have engaged a Greek Cypriot from Sheffield for this purpose and he's busy rodding as we speak. Unfortunately this has meant removal of all the drain covers with the result that a vicious pong has been enveloping the vicinity, causing one's nose to curl up and die. Yeccch. Think yourselves lucky that Google does not (yet) allow me to cut and paste and/or embed the odour for your delectation!
The drain, not surprisingly, is blocked with various fatty deposits from the lady downstairs' kitchen, although she denies any culpability. Circumstantial evidence, i.e. that she's the only person who has been using the drains for the last six months, would seem to indicate otherwise. Any road up, there goes another €70!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Marinos Konstantinou is a Crook

Older readers may recall the tales of woe recounted here concerning our travails with Marinos the builder. To summarise, he is useless at building, he attempted to swindle us at every turn and, to make matters worse, he is a dangerous psychopath.
Marinos was introduced to us by El Prez's Uncle from whom he has been renting his office/shop premises. Uncle and Marinos have been friends for years and belong to the same social club so everyone thought Marinos would be reliable. But it turns out that after having made our lives a misery, Marinos has done a moonlight flit owing Uncle over €1,000 in rent. Despite many promises to pay up, he never did, so Uncle has had to engage a lawyer and start court proceedings. This has produced a promise to pay €200, via a mutual friend from the social club - from whom Marinos is borrowing the €200. Meanwhile, Uncle has discovered that Marinos has not paid his water bills and Uncle has been lumbered with paying off the debt. That, together with his legal fees, has swallowed up the €200. No doubt Marinos has a trail of other debts around the place that will soon be catching up with him, but it's any body's guess if he's got the money to pay. If he has, it will be hidden away somewhere beyond scrutiny by the authorities.
However, Uncle is extremely aggrieved at this betrayal by someone he thought of as a friend so he isn't giving up and has vowed to pursue the little blighter to the gates of hell.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Λουλούδια στη βροχή

It's tanking it down. Absolute downpour during the night along with howling gales and it's continued into today. Fortunately the new drain (improvised by Dinos and Dikaios) is holding up under pressure. So much for my big plan! (See earlier post).

May Day

This is probably something that will horrify yer average American but Cyprus remains one of the countries where it is considered perfectly normal and socially acceptable to be left-wing and to call yourself a Socialist and, hold your frothing mouth Mr Romney, even to be a Communist! Yep, the President is a democratically elected Communist. He leads a coalition government, and has cordial relations with both America and Russia. Cyprus remains a market economy, however. You try and stop a Cypriot from being enterprising!
Any road up, May Day is a Bank Holiday and the left-wing parties and the Trade Unions all get together for parades and speeches. The parades feature marching bands of drums with the occasional bugle - each Union and/or area having its own band. At the end of the parade, the Union leaders give speeches which, unfortunately, tend to go on a bit. The Brothers have yet to learn that four minutes hitting the spot is better than fifteen minutes of circumlocutory diatribe. Be that as it may, the lads have pointed out that The Struggle continues and that capitalism doesn't seem to be working all that well either.
Here's a couple of minutes of slide show of yesterday's activities in Larnaca. Note the lad with duct tape on his bass drum, a typically Cypriot approach to problem-solving, and the old lags in their red shirts. An aspect I liked was how relaxed everyone was and the way the crowd applauded the marchers. No police were on duty and the Union stewards took a laid back approach.

Magic Flowers

I bought this plant at the market a couple of days ago. I don't know what it's called or whether or not it is indigenous to Cyprus but it is definitely groovy. When the weather is dull and overcast the flowers close up. But when the sun comes out the flowers open. Fascinating. I plan to spend a whole day watching it.

Update: the proper name for this plant is lampranthus roseus