Wednesday, July 18, 2018

About Valetudo

That means it’s going in the opposite direction of all the other moons in the same area. “It’s basically driving down the highway in the wrong direction,” Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at Carnegie who led the discovery team, tells The Verge. “That’s a very unstable situation. Head-on collisions are likely to happen in that situation.”
Is it nerdy to have a favourite Jovian moon

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

About football


I don’t know if you’d noticed, but there is some football about the place, which is fine; and a hell of a lot of talking and writing and singing about football, very much of which is not. Apart from anything else, I’m getting overwhelmed by overly helpful articles that aim to explain what the world was like in 1990, when England were last in the World Cup semi-finals, especially the fact that the country they played then (West Germany) no longer exists; and the country they play tonight (Croatia) didn’t exist then, nor did the country (Russia) where the match is taking place, at least as independent entities. I just feel old, especially when I remember that 1990 is closer to 1966 than it is to 2018. And don’t get me started on clickbait offering a gloss on what exactly Three Lions means...

England’s (up to this point) successful campaign has also prompted a few Panglossian pieces on how this ramshackle band with roots in Yorkshire and Jamaica, London and Nigeria, Ireland and Portugal, offers a vision of a new, inclusive rainbow patriotism, which is all lovely. But this multiculturalism in motion smudges over the fact that the country is also split along lines of age, class, income and levels of educational attainment. The sense of complicity that we snowflake libtards feel about the twin cataclysms of Brexit and Trump mean that social snobbery, especially when used against white males who don’t shop at Waitrose, is now almost as unacceptable as racism, sexism or homophobia; see how the tide has turned against the “gammon” jibe.


That said, on Saturday, after I’d watched and enjoyed the Sweden match, then made my way across London to a birthday party in (of course) Islington, where architects and psychologists and quite a few people who may not be able to stay around when Brexit finally bites, ate Spanish food and drank French wine. And on the way I encountered plenty of loud, drunk, aggressive, incoherent, beer-spraying, Caucasian men, draped in red-and-white flags, screaming that bloody refrain like a toxic battle cry and doing that weird fistypumpy dance, as if they were pulling on the teats of some enormous, mutant cow, encouraging it to spurt yet more lager into their pink, upturned faces. And three things came to mind; first, that if this is what they’re like when they win, God help us when the bubble finally bursts, whenever that is. (I’m writing this a few hours before the semi-final.) And second, the words of Martin Amis:

At my last football match, I noticed that the fans all had the complexion and body-scent of a cheese-and-onion crisp, and the eyes of pit bulls. But what I felt most conclusively, above and below and on every side, was ugliness — and a love of ugliness.
Which is sneery and snobbish and nasty, but then I didn’t have my taxi or ambulance smashed up, my shop invaded, my police dog hassled for being German. And finally, for some reason, I recalled an interview in the NME with oddball Chelsea/Everton winger and Joy Division fan Pat Nevin, some time back in the 1980s. “What do you love most about football?” he was asked. “Playing football,” he responded. “And what do you hate about it?” “Everything else.”



PS:

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

About writing

I’ve tried so hard to ignore him, but this. This. Everyone’s seizing on the “pour”/“pore” thing but I’m more concerned that he actually believes he wrote those books, despite his ghostwriter going public a couple of years back.

PS: It gets better. The ghostwriter comments, and is ordered to read the book he, er, wrote:


Friday, June 29, 2018

About cover versions


The Guardian, shamelessly intending to wind us all up, has created a worst-to-best list of every Abba single — although, for a change, I reckon they’ve got it pretty much right. SOS is in the top spot, and the passing reference to Portishead’s magnificent reworking made me realise that the best cover versions aren’t those that, like Baudrillard with a beatbox, obliterate the original, but the ones that make you go back to to the initial offering, reinvestigating it, looking for things you might have missed the first time around; Nick Cave’s The Carnival is Over or Aretha Franklin’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, for instance. Any other examples?

And, on a vaguely related note, the news that Ed Sheeran is being sued over the supposed similarity between one of his tiresome ditties and Let’s Get It On (hint: there isn’t one) puts me in the difficult position of defending the inexplicably successful strummer against the genius that is Marvin Gaye (or at least his estate). And the fact that this comes on a day when the most sensible voice on Brexit comes from Danny bloody Dyer suggests the world really has gone mad.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

About the cleaners

A brief stop in the SOAS bar last night and I realise that, in aesthetic terms at least, today’s student radicals are still yearning for the good old days.

Friday, June 22, 2018

About the possibility of a podcast


This blog has been running for nearly a dozen years and about half that period has involved labouring under a metaphorical cloud labelled “IS BLOGGING DEAD?” Seriously, should I finally do the decent thing and become a podcaster? Or a vlogger? Or whatever people will be doing in six months’ time that will have people discussing the death of podcasting and/or vlogging?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

About Monkey Jesus

Older readers may recall the tale of the fresco in a Spanish church that was subjected to an overenthusiastic restoration job, resulting in what was immediately dubbed The Monkey Jesus.


It did provoke a few heated discussions about the intersections between artistic accomplishment, religious devotion and tourist dollars, especially when the revised version started attracting far more punters to the church than it had in its earlier form. But is the whole notion of a Simian Redeemer so unusual? Ambling through the V&A yesterday, I came across this, from 14th-century Bohemia. And I suspect it’s not the only example.


Friday, June 08, 2018

About Bourdain

To be honest, I’ve met rather too many chefs who were trying a little too hard to be Anthony Bourdain, whose death was announced today; some of them ended up closer to Ainsley Harriott. One thing that distinguished him from many of his contemporaries was that he could write. (Or, to be less charitable and because I know how these things work, he had a ghost writer/editor who decided Bourdain’s schtick might appeal to people who could read.) This, from Kitchen Confidential:
I was a sous-chef at a very fine two-star place on 39th, where I dimly recall preparing a four-course meal for Paul Bocuse; he thanked me in French, I think. My brain, at this point, was shriveled by cocaine, and I made the mistake of telling a garde-manger man that if he didn’t hurry up with an order I’d tear his eyes out and skull-fuck him, which did not endear me to the fussy owner manager.