Archive for August, 2006

30 is the new 29

After what has been the dryest August since records began, at least in terms of content for this blog, we are off to Turkey for a week. Celebrations for my 30th birthday will be held in Istanbul, so it’s only polite that I put in an appearance. I hope to return with batteries recharged, inspiration regained, and youthful optimism undimmed by time’s sickening crimes.

Back on the 6th.

The Burger Test

‘They are so far removed from extremism that they even spent the day
boozing and tucking into a McDonald’s burger.’

How to be moderate, from the Daily Mirror.

Captions Outrageous

Despite my distaste in general for t-shirts bearing slogans and my tendency to avoid loud people, I do have some sympathy for this fellow who was stopped from boarding a plane for wearing a t-shirt that said ‘We Will Not Be Silent’ in both English and Arabic.

At least, that’s what he says it says in Arabic. But on that count, we only have the word of Arabic speakers. For the non-Arabic speaker, it could mean anything. Ok, it could mean something as harmless as ‘Downtown Damascus Donut Dunkin’’, but equally it could mean ‘Frankie Say’. Suppose they let him onto the plane and he started belting out a rendition of Relax mid-flight?

The watchful passengers and the conscientious security personnel deserve a hearty pat on the back for this one.

You can never be too careful when it comes to t-shirt slogans. Take terrorists, for example. More often than not, the modus operandi of the IRA bomber involved walking into a shopping centre sporting a t-shirt that read ‘I am going to blow this place to bits’ on the front in Irish, but, as a means of deceiving the public at large, he juxtaposed this with ‘My mother went to Bundoran and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ underneath in English.

Via Mother Jones.

Keanu had to learn an Armagh accent for Richard …

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Keanu had to learn an Armagh accent for Richard Linklater’s new film.

Liberation by Linkbox

I apologise for my post on Northern Ireland ‘local interest’ stories the other day. The earth-shattering announcement that they’re planning to erect a monument to one half of Massey-Ferguson has really put me in my place. No, really. The people of Northern Ireland should cherish this sort of thing. In fact, in the interests of national pride, they should stage award ceremonies for young turks inspired by the inventor of the mechanisms of the modern tractor. I am thinking perhaps ‘The Soda Farl Young Innovators’.

Jimi Idyll

Louis Theroux tells of an egregious gap in Jeremy Paxman’s knowledge:

‘I make a point of watching University Challenge. It was odd this week as they had a mistake on that they didn’t acknowledge. Paxo asked a question about Jimi Hendrix, to which the answer was “Voodoo Chile”. The guy gave the right answer, but Paxman didn’t realise it was idiomatic and said “No, it’s Voodoo Chil-e,” pronouncing it like the country.’

It’s hard to take someone seriously after a slip-up like that. But then again, there are plenty of words I have seen written down that I have never heard spoken. Like androgyny (must be down to the company I keep – full of manly men and womanly women and no Placebo fans); idyll (is it ih-dill or does it rhyme with piddle?); turgid (is that a hard ‘g’ sound, or does it rhyme with rigid?).

In Vino Humanitas

It used to be, years ago, that there were so many bomb scares, punishment beatings and arson attacks that Northern Ireland news programmes had little time for the ‘human interest’ stories. On a quiet day, you might see a story about one man’s attempt to bake the world’s biggest soda farl, or about an injured doggy being brought back to consciousness after his owner played him tapes of Brian Kennedy singing.

These days, when I observe local Northern Ireland news programmes and internet sites, I am often tempted to smother myself with the nearest cushion. I have nothing against Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK for as long as its inhabitants wish this to be the case, but I would really love to be spared all the dumb ‘local interest’ stories that have filled the vacuum left by political normalisation. Why do so many of them seem to involve ice hockey rinks? And if it isn’t ice hockey, it’s about the local connection to the latest worldwide news story. In the latter, it’s as if there’s an anxious attempt to legitimate Northern Ireland’s existence by connecting, however tenuously, to the outside world.

Look at this story here. This is an inversion of the ‘every conflict has a silver lining’ stories that frequently get told in Northern Ireland news:

‘The recent conflict in the Lebanon has led to an upsurge in interest in wine from the region, a County Down wine merchant has said.’

Maybe Jim Nicholson was right.


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August 2006
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