Monday, September 29, 2008

Celebrity gossip

Classes are under way again. My final year of university has begun.

Of course, one of the highlights of walking across a crowded university campus is the opportunity to see myriad fashion disasters. My favourites are the ones that are woefully climate inappropriate -- extremely skimpy clothing in Britain in October. Obviously I am more forgiving of the females who do this.

The weather today was cool enough for the intelligent people to wear undershirts or light jackets, but that didn't stop several others from prancing about trying to pretend that they were attending university in Cardiff-by-the-Sea rather than Cardiff, Wales. Walking toward classes today I spotted a dude wearing a white tank-top, white shorts and flip flops.

"Yeesh," I thought to myself. "Does that guy not know what country he's in? And what's with the wife-beater? I will never understand British guys' desire to walk around looking like Georgia trailer trash. Hey. Wait a second. That's Glyn Wise!"

For those of you playing along at home, Glyn is a proper celebrity in Britain, having appeared in the reality television programme "Big Brother." He is especially well-known in Wales where he is (or, at least, was for some time) a kind of folk hero for insisting on speaking Welsh in the Big Brother house.

It appears that he is keen to cement his status as a Welsh-language hero by backing it up with a degree from Cardiff University. I spotted his name on the list of first-year students as I was waiting in the hallway before a lecture.

"Hey, look at that," I said to my friend. "Did you know that?"

Of course she knew. One of the reasons the Welsh have been so slow to take to the internet is the effectiveness of their grapevine network. E-mail is redundant. But, of course, I am forever on the outside of Welsh-language society so it was news to me.

"I saw him today," I said. "Kid doesn't know how to dress."

"How so?" she asked.

"He's walking around in the cold in shorts and a wife beater."

"Wife beater?"

"A, uhm.. you know, a vest."

"Like what you're wearing?"

"I am not wearing a vest. This is a thermal shirt. See, it's got sleeves."

"A vest with sleeves. So much better."

"It's different, chick. And besides, I'm not wearing only a thermal shirt. I'm wearing it under something."

"You're wearing your vest with sleeves like a vest. Instead of being fashionable, you're just an old man with an undershirt."

Then I pushed her.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We're doomed, you hear me? Doomed

"Pennies From Heaven" - Louis Prima

It occurred to me today that I never got around to posting my most recent column, but since it's actually about a fortnight old I won't go to the trouble to record myself reading it. Instead I offer you an appropriately ironic Louis Prima song.

That said, the column is still somewhat relevant. It's about the economy and the fact that this sucker's going down, to use a Bushism. You have to hand it to Bushy in that he's not one to mince words. I have a slight suspicion that he's become a better president since everyone stopped listening to him. He's straight-talking and doesn't really give a toss what his party tells him to do. That's the president I wanted in freaking 2000.

But I'm still not keen to go with him on the $700 billion deal. Am I the only one who really, really, really hates this idea? So far, this is how I understand it: There were a load of guys who ridiculously misspent their investors' money. But because those guys threw away so much money, that makes them more important than everyone else in the world. So now, every man, woman and child in the United States is expected to hand over $3,300 to said jackasses, no questions asked.

I think Rhodri off Coal House put it best when he said: "I don't like piggies."

And I don't like saving their asses with no-strings-attached schemes that no one is sure will actually work. How exactly is it supposed to work, by the way? As far as I can tell, we want to give them shitloads of money so they can go back to doing exactly what they were doing before.

"Ooh, you were so close to fucking the world, but you ran out of cash. Here, take $700 billion. Try again."

Someone please leave a comment to help me see how I'm totally misinterpreting this and it is, in fact, genius. Because at present all I can see is a great sea of fuckery.

Here's the thing I think about all the time: Does anyone remember how we won the Cold War?

Effectively, through the arms race and other activities, we duped the Soviets into spending so much money that their economy caught on fire. Oh, how we laughed when they were using wheelbarrow loads of roubles to buy bread.

Now the United States is sitting on a debt that is so massive and so fast growing that any figure is instantly inaccurate seconds after writing it down. And yet we're chomping at the bit to blindly handover $700 billion to people who have a track record of making bad decisions with money.

And here's the best part: We will have to borrow that money to give it away. The United States does not have $700 billion to give away. It will need to borrow from foreign investors to give to Wall Street investors. Boy howdy, if being a slave to foreign oil is shitty, think how much fun it will be when we owe our souls to China.

I know I'm going a bit nuts here and completely wandering away from the sort of thing you've come to expect from this blog, but Jesus Joseph and Mary this is fucked. It's like the world is suddenly being run by me at age 17.

I had $5 in my checking account just a week before homecoming and Eric happened to see my chequebook.

"Uhm, do you need to borrow some money for homecoming?" he offered.

"No, dude. Check it out," I said and wrote a 0 behind the 5. "See, now I've got $50. Everything's fine."

My checking account was shortly thereafter forcibly closed by the bank. But apparently I am qualified to be treasury secretary. Indeed, why don't we just do what I did? It's just as stupid an idea. Instead of giving financial fucktards $700 billion that we don't actually have, let's just write a law requiring every bank in the land to add a zero to the balance of every American's checking account.

Only got $320 in your account? Now you've got $3,200, friend! Go out and spend your money! Keep America rolling. Purchasing is patriotic.

Before moving to Britain I used to regularly panic that this sort of thing would happen and it would somehow trap me in America. That I would not be able to live out my dream of living in the UK because the dollar's only legitimate value would be as a cape for mice. I am trying to take solace in the fact that I am here now and that British banks aren't quite in as bad shape. But the thing that I conveniently forgot in my Must Escape To Wales Before It's Too Late scenarios is that when the economy goes bad, it's those bloody foreigners who feel it first.

So, this week the British government announced that they will soon be collecting my biometric information, so as to make it so much easier to round us all up and put us on boats in the Solent to be used as defences against potential invading French (a).

The only plus side to all this is getting to see if I was right about the inherent weakness of the European Union. I have long predicted that within 50 years of the introduction of a common currency, national differences will rift the EU to the point that, for all intents and purposes, it will cease to be. I have thought that legitimately challenging economic times could be the spark.

Those times are nigh. Or, in some cases, they are here. Ireland is now officially in recession. I find that particularly sad. After dramatically changing the dynamic in the British Isles, if not Western Europe, and (I believe) serving as the primary catalyst to ending The Troubles, the Celtic Tiger is dead. It's worth noting, I think, that this coincides with increasing Euro-scepticism among the Irish.

Bah. If anyone needs me, I'll be hiding under my bed. Weeping quietly to myself.

(a)That's what the British did to French prisoners of wars in the Napoleonic Wars

Sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand

People who know me feel free to confirm this: When buying new clothes I will stand in front of the mirror and say: "Does this make me look anything like Paul Newman?"

If the answer is so much as a simple grunt to the affirmative that article of clothing is purchased forthwith.

I'm not really one for looking up to famous people. I think it's a bad idea. But I make an exception for Paul Newman, who died today. How could any man not want to be like him? Who else could make getting your ass kicked seem like the coolest thing in the world?

Almost as much as I dislike the idolization of celebrities, I dislike eulogizing by people who never so much as met said famous types. So I won't. I'll just keep trying to copy his shit.

Headline comes from one of the best movie lines ever

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Changing the uniforms

My apologies for lack of blogging. I've been re-rereading my book since last week, trying to avoid sending a manuscript loaded with crazy stupid mistakes to my editor. My goal is to get the thing in the post to her this week.

Originally I was hoping to send it off on Friday, but that has now been pushed back slightly thanks to the minimal amount of proofreading that occurred today. Instead of working, I started thinking about all the little extraneous things that one thinks about when writing a book and somehow this resulted in my deciding that I really needed to rework my blog.

There is a long and tedious explanation of how exactly I came to this decision but when I was telling the child bride over dinner she literally closed her eyes and started to fall asleep.

So, anyway, I've gone all three columns on your asses and added Twitter to the top. I'll also be trying to remember to justify the text, which I think gives my blog a slightly more professional look.

Although, I'm not sure why I would want a professional look. All this week I've been thinking about how much I want to blog about "Strictly Come Dancing" (a). That's a subject that almost certainly doesn't deserve professionalism. Or evin currect speling.

So, nothing's really changed then. The look is slightly different but the content is still shit. It's a bit like when the football team that went 0-16 last season tries to dupe fans into thinking that this season won't be awful by giving the same old players brand new jerseys.

Oh, and in case you missed it, this picture is awesome.

(a) My favourite "Strictly" comment so far came in Tuesday's episode of "It Takes Two" when it was noted that John Sergeant and Kristina Rhihanoff look like a couple from an Agatha Christie mystery: "He's the old guy with the beautiful young wife. And she kills him, but somehow you know he's not bothered."

Oh, the shame

This is me and several of my friends in in high school. Eric is in the white hard hat. It's not even worth explaining what we're doing. I'm the only one without a hat. I was that vain in high school -- I didn't want to ruin the 'do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

'Hey you, good lookin' female'

This picture has fuck all to do with my book.Someone please explain to me why completing work on a book suddenly leaves me listening to Thin Lizzy nonstop. Some sort of psychological defect there, methinks.

Nonetheless, I finally finished work on Cwrw Am Ddim, the book about my learning Welsh, moving to Wales, going a bit nuts, sexually assaulting Llŷr and spending six years at her majesty's pleasure in HMP Cardiff. OK, those last two are made up; Llŷr loves a bit of the rough stuff and would never report me.

Now, see, I write that in an attempt to be funny. But the last time I made some random statement about shagging Llŷr, the next time I saw him he stood uncomfortably close to me and said something like: "You weren't supposed to tell. I can't even look you in the eyes now."

Next summer I am planning to travel around the United States to "research" (a) for another book. Last I heard, at least, Llŷr is signed on to travel with me. Rachel is always joking that I should introduce him as my gay lover when we meet new people.

"Take him to your 15-year high school reunion," she said.

But the thing is, I worry that Llŷr is a bit like Eric (b) in that if I introduce him as my gay lover he will feel the need to prove it. If my blog were an episode of "Scrubs" we would now quickly jump to a montage of Eric jumping on my back and dry humping me. Several times.

But this post isn't about Llŷr or Eric or homoerotic behaviour. It's about my book. Which I have yammered on about nonstop for at least the last the last six months to just about anyone who will stand still. And now it's done. Yay me. Of course, when I say that the book is "done," I mean that the writing bit is over. Now comes a long and tedious stretch of editing the thing before sending it off to my editor, who will probably draw a big red X on each page and ask me to rewrite the bits marked with red.

According to Owen (b), publishing a book in Welsh is a long and frustrating process, so I have no idea when the thing will actually see the light of day. I am hoping, though, that it will occur within the next year. That will give most of you an opportunity to learn Welsh, which is the language the book is written in.

OK, I will now return to rocking out to the Lizzy.

(a) Read: "drink a lot, bother a bunch of people, and try to keep notes"

(b) Shameless name-dropping! Go me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hopefully Gordon is reading

Gordon Brown's diminishing number of supporters are fond of using the cliché that one should not switch captains mid-journey. I'm not exactly sure why that would be the case, I mean, if the captain is going the wrong way why wait until arriving at a hostile port to point this out? But in this case I think a more apt metaphor is that of removing a pilot from a plane that's going down in flames.

I'm not entirely sure what getting rid of Gordon Brown would achieve apart from signalling to British voters that there's nought but stupendous fuckery occurring at Whitehall. Honestly, Labour, how many unelected leaders do you want to cram in before the Conservatives seize on your ineptitude?

If our man GB had cajones, he would respond to all this by calling a general election. He could use the leadership challenge as an advantage, saying to voters that he doesn't want the party installing more leaders the people didn't elect. He could effectively ask for a mandate. He could equally put heavy focus on the fact that in this time of international businesses going under and dragging us all with them, the Conservatives are the party that has always been keen to run government as a business.

The election might work, and then he'd be able to raise a big Scottish middle finger to his detractors.

If it didn't work, no big deal because his party are keen to stab him in the back anyway. And being replaced by Conservatives would be the punishment for Labour's utter inability to deal with actual issues rather than whining.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Other phrases Barack Obama should not use

Apparently using the well-established metaphor (a) of "lipstick on a pig" is a direct attack on Sarah Palin, who we all know is the only woman in America who wears lipstick. So, I've been trying to think of other clichés, metaphors and similes that should be avoided.

That dog won't hunt
Famously one of Bill Clinton's favourites, this is clearly an assault on Sarah Palin, who we all know is an avid hunter. Nevermind that Spally Six Guns compared herself to a pitbull, how dare we cal her a dog! And of course we all know what a female dog is called.

A stitch in time saves nine
Sexist! By referring to an activity that is so often associated with women, Obama would be suggesting that Spally has no place in the upper echelons of American power. Clearly it's a suggestion that Spally's place is in the home, barefoot, pregnant and mending her husband's shirts.

Necessity is the mother of invention
Outrageous. This is so clearly an attack on Spally's habit of giving her children unique names like Willow, Piper and Advil. I thought you were above this Mr. Obama. I thought you said personal lives weren't part of the campaign. You are a hypocrite.

Keep your nose to the grindstone
Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?! Putting one's nose to a grindstone would cause physical deformity, which is a crass and disgusting reference to the physical features of Down's Syndrome sufferers like wee Trig Palin. This is appalling.

Can you think of any other phrases that the Obama campaign should avoid?

(a) I worry that our friends in the Home Nations and elsewhere don't realise this. The fact that this is a phrase that is simply part of the American lexicon doesn't seem to get mentioned very often.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Life Of A Mono-Tasker

My latest column is out. In truth, it's been out for a week, but I've only now gotten around to recording it. And as usual I struggle to make it sound natural.

It gives you a certain respect for Sarah Palin, I suppose. She can read George W. Bush's words (a) and make them sound like her own. Well, sort of. Better than I could, at least. I struggle to string words together in any sort of coherent way -- listen to how I add a mystery syllable to the phrase "an adult." Or the way I tend to pronounce "a," "the" and "of" as, "nuh." For example: "mos' uh-nuh time."

I am a bumpkin.

I read once that GW Bush sounds more intelligent when he speaks Spanish. I am hoping the same is true for me in Welsh. According to Welsh-language dimLOL magazine, listening to me speak in Welsh is like listening to the results of Eisteddfod competitions being read out on the Tannoy (FTYPAH: "loudspeaker"). I'm not really sure what that means, though. I am either loud, unnecessarily wordy, boring, or inclined to embellish.

Actually, that's a pretty accurate description.

(a) Well, not GW's words per se, but the words usually written for him.

Monday, September 8, 2008

'Man, will this never stop?'

Interesting video piece from The Guardian that talks to a U.S. Medevac crew member in Afghanistan.

Most poignant moment comes at 2:05 when he makes a verbal mistake which probably gives away more about the challenges he faces than anything else he says. The other things he says are pretty poignant as well.

Something else I noticed is that patter style of speech: he's not fully talking to the camera, he's allowing the images in his head to spill out at their own rhythm -- trying to expel them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Those small-town values Sarah Palin was talking about? They're on Twitter

Interesting New York Times article that suggests that one side-effect of Twitter, Facebook, et al. is that we are returning to small-town sense of community.

I suppose that's not actually a new observation. Señor Phin and I effectively had that conversation three years ago, sitting on the floor of his London flat and drinking wine. The last bit of that sentence is irrelevant but it makes me and the Phins seem more bohemian.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I am the Chrome killer

Google has just released its new browser, Chrome. I take immense pride in the fact that within an hour of downloading it I managed to crash the damn thing by opening several tabs and downloading multiple files at once. Back to the drawing board fellas.

Edit: It appears that Chrome isn't worth using anyway if you're a blogger, because in so doing "you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services."

Thanks for my dad for drawing sending me a story about it. I have since uninstalled Chrome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brilliantly retarded

John McCain's Mr. Sniffles Strategy appears to be functioning perfectly. About two months ago, The Daily Show's John Oliver suggested that McCain's main campaigning tactic was to garner pity.

And I have to say it's working. I genuinely feel bad for the man. The wheels haven't just come off, the engine has caught on fire and the whole thing has been pushed off the side of a mountain. And then attacked by wolves.

Spally Six-Guns is pretty much everything that a Democrat could hope for in a Republican vice presidential candidate. Crazy? Check. Questionable? Check. Duplicitous? Check.

It's kind of sad. If John McCain had simply run as John McCain he would be a serious threat to Obama. Barack's message of change could be countered by McCain's maverick image. Many of those people who pushed Obama past Hillary -- those dreaded college-educated whites -- would likely have been split if McCain had run with his (real or imagined) image as a man who thoroughly dislikes Bush and won't be told what to do.

Imagine if McCain had done this: instead of denying those stories that leaked several months ago of his hating Bush from the get go, he quietly refuses to say anything -- allowing people to believe what they like. He picks Joe Lieberman as his running mate and the two of them politely play up their image as blokes who don't dance to party tunes. With Obama's minimal record, he probably also has a minimal record of defying his party. So McCain could have run on the slogan: "The Experience To Lead; The Courage To Not Be Led."

He pulls a lot of independents and swing voters and moderates and splits the young people that are currently Obama-focused. Add that to party-loyal Republicans and it could have been enough to take the election.

But instead he has pulled hard right to appease that part of the Republican Party that is cancerous to its future and has pushed away so many of those young early-90s Republicans who came on board attracted by the philosophies of fiscal clarity, individual dynamism and the deire to actually do something.

McCain has train-wrecked so horribly that even his opponent is trying to pull away the wolves. I suppose the two greatest challenges to Obama now are:
1) Don't do anything stupid (e.g., don't let Biden's daughter rough up some cops again)
2) Try to figure out how to kill the jar-head bear without making it look cruel.

On a side note, professional wrestling's contribution to American politics is that is now mandatory to play entrance music for every single speaker at a political convention. I am hoping that when Spally Six-Guns eventually speaks, she'll walk out to the strains of this song. What's sad is that the politicos (Republican or Democrat) are often so dumb that sort of thing is not actually beyond possibility.

- (Spally's shirt reads: "I may be broke, but I'm not flat busted")

Monday, September 1, 2008

Me in a year...

"What exactly is the consequence should I refuse to pay?
Is there still a Dickensian debtor's prison?
Oh, there isn't?

The song I'll be singing: