Monday, May 29, 2006

Bus Uncle

Quite possibly the best use of six minutes of your time this year! Just click on the image below to roll the video.

A Tribute to Monty Burns

Montgomery Burns is my favourite Simpson's character by a long, long way.

Like Brando, Burns lives by his own rules - indeed, in many ways he is a law unto himself. The similarities end there. Burns despises both the US government and the common working man, referring to his workers as 'wage donkeys' and 'Eddie punch-clock'. His desire for absolute power and infinite wealth starkly contrasts with his frail, diseased frame. Monty Burns ranks 5th in international business magazine, Forbes' list of the top 15 fictional characters, perfectly sandwiched in between Lex Luthor and Scrooge McDuck.

The following profile is taken from web-site:

'C. Montgomery Burns, Springfield's richest man, built his atomic energy fortune from the ground up after inheriting his father's atom-splitting factory. As owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he has been able to control local elections, manage a championship-winning baseball team, hold a chair on the board of Springfield University and build a contraption large enough to block out the sun and plunge the town into complete darkness. After a near-fatal shooting by Maggie Simpson and a brief bankruptcy almost ended his empire, Mr. Burns returned to the seat of power where he resides to this day. More misunderstood than evil, Mr. Burns may possess unparalleled power in Springfield, but he can barely lift a baseball bat. His hobbies include money fights with his assistant, Waylon Smithers, cultivating a wardrobe made entirely of innocent animals' pelts and courting some of Springfield's most eligible seniors like Jacqueline Bouvier (otherwise known as Marge Simpson's mother).'

Wikipedia also has an excellent, and very detailed, entry on the great man, noting that 'Mr. Burns' longevity has been credited to Satan, a weekly operation meant to stave off death for one more week, blood transfusions using young people's blood, and a state of homeostasis created by his having all diseases known to man.'

Here are some of my favourite quotes from Monty Burns:

Who is that goat-legged fellow? I like the cut of his jib.
Smithers - Ah, Prince of Darkness, sir. He's your eleven o'clock.

Compadres, it's imperative that we crush the freedom fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya.

Welcome, come on in. Ah, fresh victims for my ever-growing army of the undead.

Morons, pathetic morons in my employ, stealing my precious money.

You there, fill it (my car) up with petroleum distillate, and revulcanize my tires, posthaste!"

Release the hounds.

Oh yes, sitting--the great leveler. From the mightiest pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?

(Checking his stocks) Ah, 1929 right where I left off... oh... oh no... Smithers, why didn't you tell me about this market crash !

I don't like being outdoors Smithers, for one thing, there's too many fat children.

I could crush him like an ant. But it would be too easy. No, revenge is a dish best served cold. I'll bide my time until ... Oh, what the hell. I'll just crush him like an ant.

What good is money if it can't inspire terror in your fellow man?

I feel like such a free spirit, and I'm really enjoying this so-called...iced cream.

The watchdog of public safety, is there any lower form of life?

Well, that's odd ... I've just robbed a man of his livelihood, and yet I feel strangely empty. Tell you what, Smithers - have him beaten to a pulp.

This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.

I'll keep it short and sweet -- Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.

Mr.Burns (To Homer): One more thing...You must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon!
Smithers: Actually sir, we found the jade monkey. It was in your glove compartment.
Mr.Burns: And the road maps, and the driving gloves?!
Smithers: Yes, sir.
Mr.Burns:Then its all falling into place!

Fat Tony

Fat Tony is one of my top characters in the Simpsons. He is Springfield's mafia don, and is involved in all kinds of scams - my favourite best being when he 'won' the contract to supply the Springfield school with milk and was busted by Chief Wiggum (via Homer) for using rat milk.

A few quotes from the fat man:

'You have 24 hours to give us the monies, and to show you we're serious, you have 12 hours.'

'I haven't cried this much since I paid to see Godfather III."

Police Chief Wiggum: "You wouldn't happen to know anything about a cigarette truck that got hijacked on Route 401?"

Fat Tony: "What's a truck?"

Borat at Cannes

The Borat film is finally finished!

They held a sneak preview at Cannes and it's had some very positive reviews. I'm surprised it didn't win the award for best film - it just goes to show there really is no accounting for taste!

Note in the above picture, how Borat has tucked his tracksuit top into his jogging pants. Quality.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Garden birds

I've had a cold all week and so have been holed up at home. As well as watching copious amounts of tv, being ill gave me a chance to observe the birds in the garden. Because we provide the birds with a regular supply of bird feed, and bread and water, the birds come to the garden several times a day, every day. The food is quick to disappear as the birds have young to feed at this time of year.

The different behaviours of all the birds is intriguing. The blue tits fly down, take a bite of food, and quickly fly off again. They have a strong preference for the seeds in the feeder. The sparrows (at least that's what I think they are) will happily eat the bread off the lawn as well as the seed, and are also pretty manic . They are constantly moving their heads, twitching and looking for the slightest reason to fly off. The starlings seem only to come in groups. Quite often, they walk around the garden with worms skewered on their beaks. They sometimes then go on to skewer bits of bread on their beaks, making a kind of worm sandwich or kebab. Nice. The magpies are also pretty clever. They take bits of bread and carry it over to the plate of water, where they drop it in for a good soaking before eating it. Surprisingly, the magpies seem to be bullied by the pigeons, who have an endless appetite for bread. They would like to eat the seed but are too heavy to sit on the feeder. Because of this, they have to wait for scraps of seed to fall to the ground when smaller birds are feeding. The crow seems to be ruler of the kingdom. When the crow comes in to the garden, you can guarantee that every other bird will fly off immediately. Size is important.

Most interesting is the habit of a particular pigeon. I have observed the inability of birds to rest, to just chill-out. Considering that the food is plentiful, and risks are very low - our
neighbour has a cat but it is very slow - it is puzzling why can't birds relax. Are bird brains just too small to understand how to relax? Well, this one pigeon I have observed does know how to chill. Quite often it heads over to the water bowl and just sits in the water for about twenty minutes. Other birds also go to the bowl either to drink or to wash, which involves general fluttering and splashing around (I must try it next time I have a bath), but none of the birds other than this one pigeon will contentedly just sit there. It's almost as if that one pigeon has figured out the secret to life. It seems to have a good sense of the 'present' and clearly understands there is no need to be manic all the time.

Food nostalgia

It's funny how I no longer eat so many of the foods that I associate with my childhood.

Visiting relatives would almost guarantee a combination of the following: coke, lemonade, pink wafer biscuits and jalebi. There would also be plenty of tea and, quite often, those biscuits with images of people playing different sports on them. There was also Custard Creams, but these were special. Any biscuits with cream in the middle were special.

At home, there was churi, which is a roti, or chapatti, ripped in to pieces and mixed in a pan with an unhealthy dollop of butter and a bucketload of sugar. This gave off a wonderful smell as the sugar caramelised. Churi was best eaten straight out of the pan.

In the summer there were ice-pops and home-made lollies.

As an after dinner treat we would have bowls of canned tropical fruit in sugar syrup, served with a lashing of Tip-Top cream.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Book - Bourdain's Nasty Bits

I am adding this book to my reading list. Bourdain wrote the excellent 'Kitchen Confidential', in which he exposed the underbelly of the restaurant business. His style is quick witted and sharp, and he says what he see's, thinks and believes, not giving a damn about upsetting others along the way. After the success of Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain travelled the world filming a documentary series about food (covering anything and everything, from street food to the high end restaurants). The Nasty Bits is a bunch of stories from this period and the book already has scored some very positive reviews. The man can write and cook, and he knows both crafts very well.

To see Anthony Bourdain eat a beating cobra heart, click here and then click on 'Be Still My Beating Heart' on the top right of the web-page.

Book - The Old Man and the Sea

I highly recommend this short story to all. 'The Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemingway is a simple story of an old, poverty stricken, fisherman who hasn't had a decent catch for many weeks. He ventures far out to see, hooks a large marlin, and a struggle between man and fish ensues. I don't think it's supposed to be allegorical in any way, even if the reader can draw analogies with various endeavours in their lives.

Best read for what it is, the story is caring and evokes a strong sense of emotion and place. I loved it and look forward to reading more Hemingway in future.

The A-Team

I hope everyone watched 'Bring Back the A-Team' last night. It was presented by Justin Lee Collins (JLC) on Channel 4 and it kicked ass proper. The JLC managed to bring back the entire cast for a reunion, some twenty years after the series aired. Of course, Hannibal is no longer with us, but his son showed up which was cool. Mr T couldn't make the final reunion party but he gave an interview which was brilliant. If you have missed this then shame on you. You can only pray for a re-run (your hopes probably lie with E4).

"In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team."

These guys were real men.

Book - Angels and Demons

After reading 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown, I felt cheated for being 'pushed' through the book by the author, always turning the page to see what would happen next, and where the many clues would lead. While this page-turning trick was employed by Dan Brown to good effect - it kept me whizzing through the book at a decent clip - it doesn't get around the fact that the book is rather poorly written, the story line beyond ludicrous and the characters undeveloped. I'm surprised this guy has sold so many books.

I don't think the book is total rubbish, otherwise I wouldn't have finished it. I just think it failed to deliver by a long, long way. I for one will not be reading the Da Vinci Code. From what I hear the film isn't all that either.

The Old Man and the Sea was the perfect antidote. Best stick to the classics.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Real man delusions

In recent weeks I have exchanged my regular pen pushing activities for some real man action. This included helping a friend move house, emptying the contents of a garage in to a skip, hitting the gym several times a week for some heavy sessions, and getting back in to the summer sporting mode. There's still some way to go but I am happy to say I am the proud owner of a blister on my right hand, a direct result of the aforementioned activities. What joy this brings! It is a sign that I am on the right path.

Other signs of being on the right path include waking up with muscle soreness from a hard day's work, and being so dirty and grimy that you need Swarfega or some other industrial cleaner to get the muck off your hands, and even then there is a residue.

The next logical step would be to join either a construction team as a manual labourer or to get a job with a demolition team. You're not living unless you are either making things, breaking things or moving things.