Apr 5, 2009

Post Restant What are you still doing here? We've moved - and can now be found at Brandnewsoup.com. We'll be waiting. We love you!

Mar 30, 2009

Pencarrow Head This morning I took off on a walk. It was a gloomy morning but I took my camera because I finally bought a little backpack on the weekend, so's I can take stuff (lunch) with me on walks. The weather cleaned itself up and I stood on a point overlooking the entrance to Wellington Harbour after about a 2 hour walk in. I see this spot from my front window every day and got TSO to look through the telescope and check me out jumping up and down like something out of Flashdance from our front window, some ten nautical miles on the other side of the harbour. Nice morning. Still unemployed, then...

Mar 26, 2009

Menacing Nomenclature Needed The current carry-on with the gang murder at Sydney International Airport has highlighted one of very few things that I've picked out as wanting, here in my new homeland. See, the media here uses slightly childish common vernacular names for a few key groups that really, had they a choice, you feel would like to be described in slightly tougher terms. Drivers of trucks, a group seldom associated with womanly connotations, are commonly reported as "truckies". It just seems soft, eh? Childlike. And now, in broad daylight in the busiest airport in Australia, someone has been murdered in cold blood by what's being described as a "bikie"! Can you stand it?! Cute! (is it bikie or the slightly more cheekie "bikey"?) I think I would like to tickle a bikie. I think a bikie would be a cheeky little scamp. I solemnly suspect that a bikie might even be a little animated character with a beard and a scale-size little leather jacket, in fact. A bikER on the other hand - now a bikER threatens me. You can bet your shirt, Mac, I'm going the other way when a bikER comes in the frame! Brrr! BikER - RUN! Trucker! Jesus! Muscles! Moustaches! Arse-cracks! B.O.! Wild armpit hair! Truckie? Heehee! Hello, little fella! Who's a little driver man, then?!! Gerroutofit ya rascal! What's next? Might I be slain in my bed by a Murder-ie? Where's all my stuff? Am I the victim of some nasty little Burglar-ie?" "Don't write me a ticket, officer, I'm only a likkle speed-ie". It makes all the difference. Truly, it does. I may campaign for change.

Mar 16, 2009

Jaded? I found myself today, whilst reading an article about Jade Goody's impending date with the reaper, feeling sorry for her. I felt guilty and dirty too. It's a huge question that deserves a lot more room than I'm going to give it here, but why? Why do I care? Why do I feel rotten about her plight. I watched the series of Celeb Big Brother in which Jade, her raspy, haggard old mother and her posse of dimwitted co-tormenters made rather massive errors in judgment, apparently temporarily unaware that the whole nation was in the room with them, and racially bullied former Bollywood starlet Shilpa Shetty. Apart from the fact it made immensely enjoyable viewing for the likes of me - reality leches, it divided a nation. I do recall people actually defending her, saying it was just the kind of thing young people say and that the fact it was on Big Brother was the only reason to call bullshit on it etc. Be all that as it may, Shilpa Shetty herself, right to Jade's face and live on camera, cut right to the heart of the matter. It was only because Jade was of obviously diminished worldliness that she never got it and retired to her bed then for the rest of her natural. Shilpa Shetty, in response to a comment Jade made about her questionable "celebrity" status, said "yeah? well, you know what you're famous for? THIS" (sweeping with her hand around the shoddy set of BB). I felt a little sad for Jade then too - because "Shilpa Poppadom" (Jade's words) was 100% right and the truth was heartbreaking. It definitely put an unsavoury taste in my mouth for subsequent series' of BB. So, with a rake of cervical cancer running amok in her veins, A quick scan of the UK media sites would appear to suggest that Jade Goody is still making a show of her life. Even as it spills out of her and she counts the remaining days. I find it a little distasteful that it's been so very public an illness but you don't have to look too far to discover why that is. It's what we've trained Jade to do - as consumers of celebrity and enhanced "reality" TV. At the moment of negative diagnosis, you can almost hear Max Clifford's gear wheels cranking out the possible media deals and TV options. Jade Goody is a monster almost 100% created by us - no demand, no queue of hopefuls looking to be humiliated by production teams much smarter than them and adept at editing out anything intelligent that might pass their lips. Pass the auditions by being tragic enough and your reward is carte blanche to work your tits and stupidity out live on national TV. But anyway, yes. Affected, strangely, by Jade's hovering mortality. (You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a decent picture of Jade Goody)

Mar 12, 2009

Today's Mood

Feb 11, 2009

Bonnie Wee Song A couple of times in the last few years, I've heard covers of "It's A Heartache" made famous by Bonnie Tyler. First, Rod Stewart was on X-Factor as a mentor and did a balls-out version of it with little more than acoustic backing. Then, here in NZ, a mother of four did a great version of it on Stars In Their Eyes NZ which I also loved. When on a weekend in the Coromandel last year with Pete & Soph, Pete and I knocked out a pretty together version of it too. It's an awesome, timeless pop song, to be honest - written by Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe - Bonnie's producers, and I find that I love it quite considerably. Since being here in New Zealand, I've heard the odd snippet about The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra but never seen them live yet. I love the Uke too, you see, and the thought of a dozen grownups with a Uke the piece, playing classic hits really appeals to me. Imagine my surprise and delight then, to discover that the WIUO have covered Bonnie's classic:

Jan 28, 2009

Obama-Me Go ahead. You know you wanna..

Jan 19, 2009

This Much I Know Sodastream Is The Boys Can you remember Sodastream? When I was a kid, I wanted my parents to get one so badly. Making your own carbonated beverages? Are you kidding? I wanted to get busy with the fizzy in the worst way possible. I would have donated a limb to the cause if I'd have thought it helped. When TSO and I set up home together here in NZ we found one in Farmers one day and stood, looked at it, then at each other and went "fuck yeah!" We've been living with our 'Stream for over a year and I cannot recommend it enough. Forget orangeade, ginger beer, whatever - what about sparkling water? What about never running out of fresh Tonic to make love to the bottle of Bombay Sapphire in the freezer? What about the side benefits of no plastic bottles going into the landfills? Great stuff - and the gas bottles for it are freely, cheaply available almost anywhere, even though it may not seem they are... Bamboo Is My New Lover When Rory was born, we bought this little singlet for him that claimed to be made of 95% bamboo and 5% spandex. It's proven to be the best thing out - it's soft, keeps its shape, and feels like luxury. We saw some sheets made of bamboo fabric with a high thread count in a Christmas sale at Nood and, on a whim, decided to get them, hoping perhaps they'd feel even half as soft as Googie's singlet. Boyohboy - did they deliver? I am dreaming of bedtime from about 12.15pm every day and positively whimper with anticipation as I ready for lights out. I couldn't be happier with them and plan to never ever sleep on anything else unless I'm away from home. I've always loved bamboo - wrote an article on it once and fell in love with its utilitarian charms, renewability and unpretentious strength. This just makes me love the big green bastard all the more. It's the little things...

Jan 1, 2009

Roundup Well, Ive been an absent friend, friends. I've been on a bit of a roadtrip covering a fair bit of the south island. We left on Dec 15th and got back yesterday, the 31st. New Year's Eve was a muted affair - TSO and I and a bottle of bubbly, along with a dire struggle to stay awake long enough to wish each other a happy new year. We'd been up early and traveling all day but you know, I'm over going out and needing to make a effort at celebrations. Anyway, New Year in New Zealand is a bit strange - usually we'd be camping so wouldn't know any better but last night I realized there's no televised celebrations or any kind of special programming. I suppose it's good that people are instead outside doing something nice. It's great to be back in our little clifftop nest and it was amazing to be on the ferry, sailing past looking up at our home, after spending the last few months looking down at the ferries from the back here. Anyway, when the accounts are toted up and all is said and done - 2008 wasn't the worst year of my life, I'd say. This picture about sums up. It's us, in an orchard in Cromwell, picking delicious, juicy cherries on Boxing Day. I'll try and be a bit better at this blogging thing in 2009.

Dec 5, 2008

VBS Hey! We've been fans of Vice Magazine for a while here but, as Elvis pointed out to us recently, they've started a video site as well with all kinds of grrrrreeaat Documentary films on it. We suggest the guide to sex section and a docco about OAP porn in Japan. also the Americana section has a great one on a junior taxidermist.

Dec 3, 2008

Santa in Jeopardy TSO sends me this story today which just about illustrates the spirit of the season as it exists today.

Dec 1, 2008

Mumbai Snackists Apart from the overwhelming guile and desperation that drives people to go to such flat out brazen methods as those employed in the recent attacks on the city of Mumbai, there is one factor mentioned in almost every report I read in the weekend’s papers that I can’t help getting hung up on. The attackers were heavily armed, carrying immense amounts of ammunition and, as though to give evidence that they had been premeditating a long siege – fruit and nuts. Almonds were mentioned in one report, though whether or not they were smoked, salted, raw – criminally underreported. TSO and I had a few laughs imagining the court dialogue should any of them end up in the dock: Defence Lawyer: “did you or did you not, knowingly, purchase 2 kilograms of trail mix at the Islamabad north 7-11 on the 24th of November, 2008?” Prosecution Lawyer: “Objection your honour - My colleague freely bandies about terms like ‘Trail Mix’ without a single shred of evidence of M&Ms in the evidential Zip Lock bags nor even as much as a single chocolate chip.” “I’ll thank you to stick to the term ‘Student Mix’ until further elucidation has been recorded as fact.” If these maniacs ever get their hands on the likes of power bars or vacuum-packed freeze-dried meals intended for camping, we may all have to change our way of life.

Nov 27, 2008

Contd... Thanks, Robbie, for the follow-up

Nov 17, 2008

Hang The Prophet This is an hilarious example of financial myopia.
Ripped To The T*ts I've never had much of an opinion on women body builders, really. I know a lot of men who spit and fume at the mention of 'ladybuilders' but I used to work the nightshift on a boring machine with a guy that was into getting big. He'd leave his magazines sitting around and, you know, you'd read the back of your fag packet a hundred times a night so those mags were great. This was in the days of the lovely Gladys Portugues, Rachael McLish and a few notable others. I thought they were lovely, which they were, but they were also pretty much naturally-attained muscle - kind of a turn on. In my book at any rate. But we've gone too far, haven't we? We've booted the living arse right out of the whole thing, male and female alike. Our unslakeable modern thirst for excess has turned bodybuilding, perhaps more than most sports, a sufferin' cartoon. Today, someone sent me this URL in an email. Go ahead, check it out - a catalogue of grotesqueries, all of whom, no doubt have put a lot of time into this look - often at the expense of their very femininity, it appears. Is it a body dysmorphic thing - the reverse of where anorexics see themselves as fat - maybe these ladies are driven by a recurring negative image in which they are over-feminine striplings? Either way, they'd have trouble getting a dance at the Barras. Just sayin' like.

Nov 15, 2008

David Gillanders Some great images of Glasgow and a few other locations here. Just remember to read the little "About the project" bit before you check out all the images. Amazing.

Nov 8, 2008

Doo, Doo Doo, Lookin' Out My Back Door The new digs - awesome. this is, no shit, taken from my back door though the 180 degree view of this is equally breathtaking from the kitchen sink, dining table or indeed the shower. We have a telescope and binoculars at hand at all times and the half-moon beach in the background in the second photo? It's Breaker Bay and we are here to tell you there's a rather spicy nudist/gay male scene down there that'd blind saint...

Nov 5, 2008

Obamanation Man, I know everyone in the Blogosphere today will be talking about it but Jesus H Christ, did you catch that victory speech from Barack Obama yesterday? It's a throwback to the days when being a politician wasn't just being a businessman - when you had to be able to speak. And by God can this man speak? I watched it twice and twice was in tears - of hope and gratitude that I live in a world in which something this good could happen. And my prior fears that some man-made catastrophe might befall Obama before he could seize the reins have been allayed. I mean, it's going to be sleeping with one eye open from now on for him, don't get me wrong, but the sight of those thousands of hopeful faces and the dawning realization that he has to have a helluvah lot of friends for this to ever even happen, make me think that putting him in peril would threaten some massive social disorder and chaos. That cheers me. Awesome stuff.

Nov 3, 2008

Unlikely Loveliness This evening, TSO is attending a function and taking a her first ever night out on her ow since Rory was born. Me and him have had some great laughs then his bath and bed routine as normal, only without a feed from his mammy at bedtime. He was having none of the bottle gubbins I tried to feed him, no sir, not a bar of it. So, in frustration as much as anything, I brought him out here and cranked the stereo up. The Guillemots' "Trains To Brazil" at first made him go "huh?" rather than "waaaaa". Then Patti Smith came on and I thought fuck, here we go again....but to my great surprise, "Horses," at full volume, knocked him right out! I was getting into it myself like, almost forgetting about the fact I had an unhappy boy on my hands, and maybe that movement attributed to Patti's narcoleptic effect but out he was, in two songs flat. It was the sweetest feeling having my son fall asleep in my arms, and knowing he already has a discerning taste for the good sounds in life. I could almost fall asleep myself now....

Oct 30, 2008

Expressions I Could Go Without Happily It's a new one and only used by politicians and those in high finance apparently but "going forward" could go anytime. It's filler, it means nothing and it's just fucking smooth betyond belief but not in a good way. Eg. Heard recently: "Ehr, we have addressed that issue in our policies very recently and going forward we expect real change in that and a few other key areas".

Oct 21, 2008

The Camera Eye The nicest thing about being in gainful employment again is the ability to buy something occasionally. I just bought one of these and I love it. Having two f-stops on the lens on front of your camera is such a huge privilege and usually costs a mint, accordingly. Thankfully I have my man Photosushi to advise me in these matters and for a small fee, I discovered, one can gain two f-stops and live happily ever after. Here is the kind of thing that my new lens can capture.

Oct 20, 2008

Having A Manburger While you're waiting for me, why don;t you have a hamburger...

Sep 15, 2008

Sharpies My old mate Pistol is known for, once he has a skinful on him, showing the lads how the Sharpies used to dance in his youth. Now I'd never heard of Sharpies and I kind of thought they were something Pistol made up to excuse his dancing moves. Then, in the latest edition of Vice Magazine, there were a series of photos by Aussie Snapper Rennie Ellis and among them was this shot, which made me laugh out loud because I can totally see this motley lot doing the type of dance Pistol described. Then I was just laughing at the memory of him dancing like that, mind you... There's some real ordinary, honest gold among these shots, I found. I especially liked this colour one of some kids at Burleigh Heads in 1978 that really brought to mind the video that Elvis posted at Photosushi recently. I recommend all of you of a certain age watch it.

Sep 12, 2008

Progress I've been a bit slack but here's the latest pic of the wee man. He's doing fantastic. Watching his progress, the tiny little skills that you sometimes think humans can just do, is fascinating. He's like a wee science program. He's full of smiles, laughter, excitement, curiosity and drool and truly is the light of our lives. There's the thing right there - a cliche like that came to my lips as easily as any words ever did and I don't feel even remotely like a cock for saying it.

Sep 10, 2008

Britain's Vainest Man "We've got a big bed coming cos I'm a big guy, yeah? and sometimes I might have more than one female in the bed, yeah?" Well, my nights' viewing last night included a documentary called "Britain's Biggest Spenders" which lifted the lid on a peculiarly modern British hubris. Basically what it is, right, is people who've not had any money suddenly get heaps of it and make a total arse of themselves. Nothing new in that, right? But the kicker is that this condition of new wealth appears to bring about the onset of a peculiar brand of myopia whereby it is impossible for the victim to see that the rest of the world, particularly people who make TV documentaries, are taking the piss something terrible and generally laughing loudly at the nouveau riche monkey in the Prada outfit. Now on this show we met a chap called Scott Alexander. Scott is rich and big. "I'm a big guy" said scott. "That's how we roll" said Scott of his diamond-rusted Rolex "it's sick" he said of several items of his clothing. He's a huge brute who was a personal trainer to the stars but is now best described as either a mogul or a tycoon. I'm completely entranced by Scott. He's my new fascination for the week and I'v made it my business to take a good look at his act. He, like pretty much everyone else who's ever had plastic surgery, wants TV stardom pretty badly. He starred in this documentary and, on the back of it, apparently took to the couch of every chat show in the land to talk about himself, his beauty, his wealth and anything else to do with himself. He even went on Russel Brand which is a good, if blatant, example of the kind of pisstake he is willing to stand for the sake of TV minutes. Check it out here. Scott, in the show, had a shiny cap of thinning jet-black dyed hair, perma tan, the ubiquitous dazzling white uni-denture that every makeover now includes and wore he most fascinating clothes I've ever seen. There are clips from the show on Youtube, for example this and this. Oh, it's all so David Brent it's not funny. Gervais should see this, actually. I encourage anyone who sees value in a man so upwardly mobile, to punch the man, the name, the number, into Youtube and take a look at the offerings. So yes, Scott "No1" Alexander is my new muse and you might be hearing more about him here. In the meantime, I would like to point you all to his personal website which, tellingly perhaps, bears the URL scottalexander.tv. We reckon Scott wasn't happy with his look after seeing the docco because in every photo or appearance since, pretty much, he's had the blonde crop in place of the thinning dyed-black Guido-do. Notice especially, if you will, the links to all of his TV appearances down on the left and I personally recommend the "Become Successful" section of motivational bon mots. "We've got a big bed coming cos I'm a big guy, yeah? and sometimes I might have more than one female in the bed, yeah?"

Sep 9, 2008

No Way Sis I'm as critical as anyone of Oasis' last few derisory recorded outings and hey, I'd like to see them pack it in and Noel Gallagher make the solo album I've been waiting decades for but I'm only an armchair critic. Someone in Canada has apparently become incensed by the state of affairs and has had a right go! I love how Liam gives it the schoolyard "holdmebackman!" antics but stops short of actually landing a blow! Hahaha, ten seconds earlier he's spitting and posturing and generally looking hard as nails. If someone lamped your brother, wouldn't you instantly go in heavy til you marked them? Sadly, my first instinct was to re-watch and find out if it was an old Canadian mate of mine TK who's a stage invader from way back and was probably even in the audience. It wasn't him.

Sep 2, 2008

Holden Sharing the iTunes library of one of the runners in Berlin, I came across the album "Chevrotine" by Holden - a French outfit I'd not heard of. One song on the album "Ce Que Je Suis" grabbed me - and it's the one playing in the background on their site which you can find here. You can also catch the video for it here on Youtube.
A Wee Cheeky Tagine For oor tea the night, we're having a wee beef Cinnamon tagine that we tried about a month ago and which was lovely. We don't have these little hatted tagine dishes, mind, but one more go around with this recipe as tasty as last time and we might become right tagine-headz and have to set ourselves up with just such a pointy Moroccan rig. The main recipe can be found here but there are tons of them and I've already butchered this one up pretty bad - throwing in a pinch of smoked Spanish paprika and replacing the raisins with more traditional dates and even a wee splash of Cab Merlot which rounds out the cinammon a little and adds some depth. If anyone has had any success with a tagine recipe, I'd love to hear about it. We went for tagines at a Moroccan place in East Berlin last year on a winters' night and lord above - it's the business - stick tae yer ribs as my mam would say.

Aug 31, 2008

Puppetry I really like this song. The rest of the album is honourable in its pedigree and influence but this song really stands out. I'm a sucker for the big, soaring orchestral backed-ballad, sure, but this has little bits of all kinds of late '60s pop in there while narrowly avoiding being retro pastiche which is a tricky thing to do. My hat's off.

Aug 27, 2008

Third Degree Burns By the Christ, you couldn't have predicted that. It's such a delicate subject and, well, Gest is involved. Oh dear.

Aug 22, 2008

Maisey Rika Sometimes on TV here, on the Maori Channel, you come across blinding flashes of great stuff - strong documentary footage primarily but occasionally good music. Last night at bed time, we tuned in to the Friday night karaoke contest (The Maori Channel is very under funded, generally) called "Homai Te Pakipaki" just in time to catch their special guest. Maisey Rika is a 25 year old kid (but a deep, old soul at the same time) from Whakatane, mother of one and my lord can this girl sing? Her voice is enormous - a wavering, delicate effortless thing weaving in and out of Arabic trills and classic soul-isms as if the two entities had always lived together. And she has a social conscience - the song was "Children Of Romania" written after she'd seen a segment on the news about the plight of orphans in Romania. Can you believe this girl is not huge? She doesn't even have a deal, it appears. the chances of that lasting are remote, surely. Here is Maisey, in her bedroom with her pal Scruph on guitar. Oh I hope they are careful not to over produce her or fit her into a style to market more easily. This needs delicacy.Her message when the host thanked her and praised her work was so beautifully simple "No need to thank us, we're just the messengers."

Aug 10, 2008

Platonic But Chronic A number of months back, we would walk daily past the makings of a new Greek restaurant up the street here called "Plato's Greek Taverna". TSO and I shared many a gag about the prospects for the place - fuelled mainly by the lighting set-up. Around the front entrance of this place, upon which someone was obviously spending a lot of money, were an array of recessed LED lamps that were always turned on, even at that stage of construction. They were the type that sort of throb away, changing colour steadily. Seriously - studded around the front door jamb, recessed into the concrete with brass fittings, so a lot of effort. Someone was sure about the idea of having each customer washed in a ghastly pale light as they entered the place. We reckoned that anyone that would green-light such a terrible idea had no place in the restaurant industry whatsoever and that the place was sure to be utter shite. Imagine how we howled a few weeks back when the first reviews started pouring in and they were universally scathing. People didn't just not like this restaurant, they fucking detested it. They wished it harm. One we read in one of the weekend supplements was hilariously Wildean in its put-downs. This one from the Herald, whilst also not good, is positively philanthropic by comparison. I started to feel sorry for the place and thought that maybe these reviews were the result of the reviewing community merely sticking together on a fixed opinion. These online independent opinions, however, seem to bear out that Plato's does truly appear to offer a poor value for your Souvlaki dollar. I thought things had hit an all-time low for Plato and his taverna. Then, yesterday in the papers, we read that Tongan rugby giant, the great Jonah Lomu has had to run the beleaguered chef to the ER after he's lopped his own fingertip off! Buried at the end of the article is the nugget of information that the chef is part of an apparent huge bloodletting as a result of the reviews. Looks like they machine-gunned the kitchen at least for the initial rush of ill-will when they opened their doors. I'm watching Plato's carefully. I might even go in there and eat though after my beloved Berlin Greek food haunt "Ach Nico Ach", everything else is but a philosopher's spectre.

Aug 5, 2008

There's a dawning realization within me about the trend of re-issuing classic cars. Have you noticed that they instantly become a girl-car? The New Beetle, (which I've recently discovered is referred to in the US as a "Ladyug" - bearing out my theory) - how often do you see a guy driving one? I've noted that from the start. The original beetle was very much a people car(despite this, which is fine, and even this here) and even the ones you still see around are driven as often by men as women and young people. Why, then would he re-make instantly become a car for Triple L's (Leathery Ladies who Lunch)? Then the same became apparent of the new Mini - I saw a few guys in the higher end ones at first but quickly they also became very largely the domain of the fairer sex.

The latest one, I've noted this week, is the re-issued Fiat 500 (Bambina). I'm able to actually witness the transformation here though. There's a cafe on Ponsonby Road called Bambina that is popular with cashmere-bedecked and shirtneck-open people of a certain age. Now the Cafe predates the car release but I noticed that either the owner has bought one, perhaps as a promotional device, or a regular customer drives his there every morning. I've seen him, a long, tanned, bald-headed, pearly-toothed devil prizing himself out of the little red compact a few times now on my morning walks, right out front of the place. And, you know, I try and make allowances and think of the environmental good he's doing but there's no getting around it, he cuts a ridiculous figure. He just needs to be a woman, it's simple, really.

and it's a funny thing, for I don't hate the way any of these cars look, quite admire them in fact, but I just can't see me driving one - it's no use, they're down indelibly in my psyche as chick-mobiles already. And let the record show that I am a fan of the original beetle, had two, restored one, passed my driving test in one. I've had heaps of other small cars and never felt up nor down about it.

I read with interest that the obviously newly-formed Bambina Owners' Club of Auckland had a drive out from Bambina Cafe whereupon "after coffee on the strip, Lynne Parker (from Occhiali Optical) and six other owners then drove to Matakana to visit Morriss and James followed by lunch at Heron's Flight Winery. Lynne told Ponsonby News that "although the weather wasn't great, we had a fantastic day meeting all the other Bambina owners, especially when Continental Cars had prepared a small quiz to test our knowledge on facts about this incredible small car". Tell you what I wouldn't mind being signed up for the next one.

But whether it's the advertising that is targeting ladies because they control the purse strings or just the appeal of not-really-nostalgia but take a look - the re-release car becomes a girl's car within about a month of release. You'll see what I mean once you start to take note.

Jul 30, 2008

Tiki Talk A song by a kiwi artist, currently popular, that I rather like. There's waay too much skankin goes on in kiwi music by half but when it's with a tune and not fifteen fuckin minutes long, I can forgive it. Heavily tattooed at the best of times, the album cover features Tiki Taane here with a full (non-permanent) 'moko' facial tattoo done by Inia Taylor, a friend of TSO, whose shop I walk past every morning. He's widely held as the best trad 'tatatau' artist in NZ and also did the facial tattoos for "Once Were Warriors" which is where TSO and he know each other from. The streets of Grey Lynn where I live here, are currently dotted with lifesize moko stencils in spray white with "Tikidub" written underneath. It's such a small place, New Zealand. I'm coming to like that about it. (And yes, Robbie, I am thinking about getting some more ink...)

Jul 29, 2008

John Cougar
Man, I just listened to a one hour retrospective on the wireless (National Radio NZ) of John Mellencamp (nee Cougar) and, you know - that stuff is nice. My eldest brother Ian was a huge fan and then my second brother Brian got into him too so he was, like Lynrd Skynrd, The Undertones, Springsteen, Lone Justice with Maria McKee and a few mis-matched others, omnipresent in my formative years. So I've tended to write him off as something from a generation before but, that early stuff he made in collaboration with Mick Ronson - Jack & Diane etc - there's gold among that stuff. You don't hear it for years then it comes on the radio and you realize how well formed a tune it is you're listening to.

He's coming here later in the year and the posters are all over the place already. I'm not that into him that I'll be going, you understand, but fair play to him for being around still - I think he had a heart attack a few years back - clinging to the wreckage just like the rest of us...

Jul 26, 2008

I've wondered, since about day two of this little chap's existence, what is it he dreams about? He's definitely dreaming about something in particular for his little sleeping face goes through a maelstrom of emotions at times. Seriously - what do babies dream about? It's possibly a good argument for the notion of reincarnation and past lives - are their little subconscious minds soaked with memories of past lives? Are our dreams not informed almost entirely by experiences in our waking lives? Sure they are. How could you imagine a house or a person or a street or a car, if you'd never seen one or socially and emotionally understood it in some kind of context? He was smiling in his sleep long before he ever smiled awake - for example.

So I've got this sneaking suspicion that sometimes he's dreaming about, say, a past love affair, the loss of a loved one, a memorable party - grownup things like that. Perhaps, as I once did, he imagines he's happily out on a rowboat with John Lennon only to end up in a canal-side hotel, chasing the white-suited and hirsute former Beatles lead singer and guitarist through a melee of toppled chairs and tables with a machine gun, intent upon mortal malice? This was well after someone beat me to it, I hasten to add.

Ultimately, I know I would poo-poo anyone's explanation if they started to give me one. I mean - it's a light-off-fridge-door situation isn't it? I reckon this is just one of those things that you need to accept in life.

Jul 12, 2008

Somers Town
Auckland Film Festival is off and running as of yesterday. I've heaps of plans to see as much as possible from the stellar lineup of features but yesteerday, to celebrate the kickoff, I watched Shane Meadows' "Somers Town". Regular readers will know we are bullish on the topic of Shane Meadows' body of work and he's had our strongest endorsement on every film so far. So we are perhaps the choir awaiting the message from the pulpit but once again we walked out of one of his films feeling good and thinking about things slightly differently which is really all we ask from a visit to the pictures. I'd also like to draw attention to the soundtrack by sure to be new hit, Gavin Clark. (Check out "Low Are The Punches" on that site)

Somers Town is an hilarious sketch of the nature of loneliness in the big city. Thomo - a restless kid from Notts who may have been wide at home but whom is lost in London, played frighteningly realistically by Thomas Turgoose from "This Is England". There he meets Marek - the disenfranchised, sensitive, shy son of a Polish labourer working on the St Pancras European rail link development. The unlikely pairing throws up some hilarious moments, aided and abetted by a select few supporting characters, one hilarious neighbour memorably played by Perry Benson who - really - the sight of him just cracks me up in anything I've seen. Great slideshow from the film with a clip off the soundtrack here.

There's a creeping feeling in me that Meadows is in danger of being accused of making the same film over and over with his sketches of restless youth against the backdrop of the murky macro corners of working class Britain. Me? I'll pay to watch that as many times as he wants to make it because I am utterly transfixed by the accuracy and tenderness with which he paints young British characters. Film making with a good yarn, realism and social commentary wins over fatly-funded grandiloquence, heavy-handed overdrama and, generally, overdone cinema with me every time.

Loach has a new flick in the festival as well - can't wait.

Jul 9, 2008

Things I Could Live In A World Without, A Series

For despoiling that tiny juicy oral explosion. For bringing negative to mind during an overwhelmingly positive moment of fruitery. For taking something so perfect and sweet and innocent and injecting inconvenience and damnable real life - damn you to hell, grape seeds. I hate you and all you stand for.
Apple seeds know their place - they stay close to the center where no man goes. Same with the Melon family - and there are thousands of them per piece! A peach stone is huge but it stays stanchly in the wings til the end of the experience but you? You're only in a small piece of fruit - there's nowhere for you to go and I understand that but by Zeus, there is nothing I hate more than biting into a grape and finding one of you bastards. I had a big bunch of Chilean red grapes last night and - la uva era deliciosa! It was one of the best things to happen this week - I was enraptured by the whole experience. And not one of you in sight - take a hint - you're not needed - time for you to pull the ole 23 Skidoo.
A Dirty Lowdown Ripoff
I had hopes. The firs time around I never even entertained the idea of an iPhone - that was just too much money for a phone. It was too much money for a phone AND an iPod actually. Well, I kind of tried to justify it to myself for a while even so, but nah, I'm not fit for that kind of price ticket.
Imagine, then, my delight and boyish exuberance when the new iPhone was announced and at a helluvah reduced price tag. I'm in, says I, at last I am in. I registered with Vodafone a month ago to get updates on this most closely guarded secret in Vodafone history. They were unable to tell me how much it might cost etc. I only signed up for a contract with Vodafone a month ago, actually - had been on their extortionate pay-as-you-go rates for long enough to find myself with several new holes in back.

Yesterday, then, the big email came out, the big rollout will happen at only three stores countrywide here in Aotearoa, the first country in the world to sell this worldwide-simul-release product. In the US, this phone is to retail at $199 US which works out about $270 NZD. I would go 3 hund, I decided, to allow for bad exchange rates and for to have myself an iPhone.

The pricing schedules? For the $199 US model - Here we go;
On the 250 monthly plan the phone is $549 and you commit to 24 months at $80.
Total: $2469 NZD ($1859US)
On the 500 Plan the phone is $449 and you commit to 24 months at$130.
Total: $3569 NZD ($2757 US)
On the 1GB plan the phone is only $199 but you again commit to 24 months at $250.
Total: $6199 NZD ($4670 US)

At least you never need to worry about your phone bill for two years after putting up this kinda poppy.

Excuse me but who the flying FUCK pays $250 a month for cellphone usage?!! And secondly, doesn't Apple price fix their products? How can someone so drastically over price their kit and get away with it?!! It's gouging in the worst way - blatant small-country-small-minded filleting of the consumer. I think what they're saying with these prices is that they only want a certain kind of customer having an iPhone. My plan, which has way more time and texts than I'll ever use, costs $35 a month, to give you an idea of how expensive this base plan is.

Why can't a person just pay the retail price of the phone and use it on any Vodafone plan? How would that be a burden on anyone? Me? I'm now calculating how to buy one from the US and unlock it - actually a guy at Avondale market here can do it for 40 bills. I predict a lot of cracked iPhones all over the world.
Testing this is a test post to check out the new Blogger widget in Dashboard. Awesome

Jul 7, 2008

Karaoke If nothing else, history will show eventually that I'm a huge fan of two things in this world - Gene Pitney and karaoke. I was browsing the latest clips of Gene (we fans, we call him "Gene") on Youtube the other day, then, and I came upon this charming little performance of "A Town Without Pity". Choice. I'm now on a kick to discover as many great karaoke performances as possible on Youtube - if anyone knows any, fire them in.

Jul 6, 2008

My Little Muscle Man

I realized it'd been a long time and that I'm dishonouring my former pledge of a weekly photo. It's not that there aren't digital reams of them being taken, you understand.

Jun 29, 2008

What is it with some people at the grocery shop, not being able to stand that gap between your stuff and theirs on the conveyor? I had one tonight that threw herself bodily across the rubber belt to delineate the DMZ between our stuffs. The grocery shops never ever seem to have enough of them here either. There's one, usually. I left around eight to ten inches between our things because I could immediately see she was of a birdlike disposition, shifting from one foot to the other, glaring at me etc. But this borderline was plainly insufficient and she threw her hand across like a barrier arm, elbow down on the counter lip! Even though the customer before her wasn't halfway done yet.

Inexplicably worried, I put my own hand out, in the area between our things, not knowing what for, feeling foolish, looking around to make sure nobody else was seeing this. She was glowering by this stage and started to wake up to the silly way I was fearing her. I became indignant. I withdrew my hand insouciantly, leaving the glaring eight empty inches between hers and mine. I couldn't look at her any more, though, so I studied the hair of people two rows down.

As she had her groceries packed and was walking off, I could feel her eyes burning right into me, so I cast a glance up at her and smirked. I don't often smirk either.

I swear I heard a snort.

Jun 20, 2008

There's something to be respected about a nation able place a bare-faced value on a thoroughly pedestrian item of culture without feeling self conscious about it. When I first came to New Zealand for a visit, I recall laughing out loud the first time I asked what was sold at a Roast Shop and being told what it was. I suppose I expected something exotic, something oriental - duck perhaps, or something gamey like wild boar, 3 partridge on a skewer with a red wine glace... To be told it was roast beef dinners, well, I took a minute to think about it, let's say.

Whats more Gran and Grampa in the food pantheon, than the humble roast beef, spuds and mixed veg? Come on, what is more old-mannish? I personally would not ever think to make myself a roast meal. No sir. Not if a roll of meat, sack of spuds, a bowl of frozen mixed veg and a few sweet potatoes sat beside a roasting tray and roll of tinfoil on my fucking counter, would I come up with a roast dinner, to be brutally frank! And I'm nearly an old man myself, for Chrissakes. I know some people are really passionate about it. My old pal Snowman in Canada, say. That boy could destroy a roast dinner just by looking at it. You'd find him on a Tuesday night, his apartment flooded in steam and beefy fumes, setting himself up with a full roast meal.

But in almost any stripmall, any row of shops in Auckland and in New Zealand's small towns too, I've noted, you' find a shop dedicated to serving up the roast dinner on any given night. Tonight the wee man went down early and TSO and I were sitting here trying to weigh up our options for a takeaway. We crossed off KFC, hamburgers and Chinese pretty much instantly and we make a pretty nice curry ourselves here most weeks, so.... TSO threw out the Grey Lynn roast Shop up the road here. I snorted but then I thought, maybe...

She sensed my weakness and ran the car up there in a heartbeat, keen to get back to one of her favourite takeouts and, you know something - it was fucking awesome! Roast spuds done in a big, industrial oven, crisped to perfection on the outside, fluffy on the inside, bit of kumara, bit of pumpkin, mixed veg, delicious scratch-made gravy with just the right mix of sweet and an edge of vinegary-saltiness at its peak. And the beef? Endless shaves of perfectly cooked, tender, juicy, silvery beef - Jesus Christ, it was beautiful. Fifteen bucks, one meal, saw both of us contentedly in burping country, "unco' fu' an happy" as Rabbie Burns would have it. We even had a few shavings of the best crispy pork crackling I've ever tasted as a condiment. Apparently their roast pork is the real ticket, but on a Friday night with scores of big hungry islander boys done workin for the week - there wasn't a sniff to be had.

Roast shops then. Sign me up. I'm a believer.

PS - I've just learned that contrary to the image I had in my head, Roast Shops are not a remnant from a bygone age here in Aotearoa. No sir, their proliferation is a recent development, apparently, certainly within the last decade or less. That just makes the whole thing all the more awesome.

Jun 16, 2008

Shooting Back The other day on the news there was a piece of footage in which some Israeli settlers were stoning a family, including a rather mature lady. The report said it was part of a campaign to give video cameras to Palestinian families living day to day with illegal settlers next door, to allow them a voice and an ability to document their lot. The project is called "Shooting Back", rather unfortunately, and the most harrowing clip for me was this one. The most jarring thing about the whole project is that it's not an Al-Jazeera production or is it even run by a Palestinian concern. Rather it is B'Tselem - an Israeli human rights NGO formed by academics and lawyers in that country fed up with the way the Knesset is enabling the haranguing of often innocent people.

Jun 15, 2008

Indulge Me

I'll try and keep it down to one a week, I promise. Isn't he awesome though? No really - I mean, come on....
Good Lovin' You know, I've read volumes on what the best pop song ever might be and generally I agree with every single opinion on the matter - there are so many. But surely, when the book of pop is read, this is the best pop song ever? I just danced my way through the dishes to it on oldies radio and you know, it just never gets fucking old. I feel like one of the over-energetic go-go girls in the background in this clip every time I hear it. Awesome

Jun 13, 2008

Just Asking...

Are blonde or red dreadlocks ever a good idea? I've thought abut it for a long time now and in that time, had several recent sightings of red dreads and one blonde yesterday. I can't think of single good example.

Jun 9, 2008

Oh, And Ehm...

Meet my son, Rory Manu Hannah. He was born on May 26th. He's awesome but I'm not going to go too mad with the boasting and prideful talk. I am though. Proud as "a dug wi twae tails" as my dad says. He's healthy as a horse and so is TSO. The thing is that at the time it was all going down, I was full of things I wanted to say and maybe I'll write them down yet, cos they were pretty vivid. But for now, this is wee Rory.


This might be a longer post than normal but I read this thing in a local magazine here that really had me in stitches and wanted to share it. It ain't hosted anywhere online. I've painstakingly transcribed it for you so read it you ingrates..

From The Ponsonby Flat White, Issue 75, June 2008
"Last weekend I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest.
The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Tazer. The effects of the Tazer were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse effect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety....?? WAY TOO COOL! Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I’d get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs. AWESOME!!! Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn’t
be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right? There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a
second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses p e r c h e d delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and Tazer in another.
The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries. All the while I’m looking at this little device measuring about five inches long, less than three or four inches in circumference; pretty cute really and (loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself, ‘no possible way!’ What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best...?

I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, ‘don’t do it dipshit,’ reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny little ol’ thing couldn’t hurt all that bad. I decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and . . . HOLY MOTHER OF GOD . . WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION . . .WHAT THE HELL!!!
I’m pretty sure The Hulk ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed me on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs? The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to ‘mug’ yourself with a Tazer, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would be considered conservative? A minute or so later (I can’t be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point) I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about eight feet or so from where it originally was. My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling.

Apparently I shit myself, but was too numb to know for sure and my sense of smell was gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head, which I believe, came from my hair. I’m still looking for my nuts and I’m offering a significant reward for their safe return!!

P. S. My wife loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!

‘If you think education is difficult, try being stupid.’"

Awesome stuff.

May 7, 2008

Gehls Gon Woild As they gaze on endless online footage of fit, bronzed, lascivious young American girls on spring break, getting wild and caning it, do the pale, peroxided girls of Perth, Australia become down at heart? Do they capitulate and throw in the towel saying "genes, their genes are better? Do they 'eck as like. A spot of McCarthyism there, from our good friend Sarah. Cheers. It's plainly the best dance battle ever. The reactions of those around are even funnier than the dancing. Mind you, the dancing is pretty special - that brunette will rue the day she rose to the challenge. Sore knees in the morning though...

Apr 30, 2008

I Can't Stop Running
I'm not the most environmentally concerned man in the world, but I do like to keep things relatively in some semblance of a line. I recycle (on the days I can be bothered doing battle with Auckland's notoriously give-a-fuck garbage men), I keep the shower flow well down, I boil only enough water to do me and, if I'm alone, I sometimes even flush only after two pees, but that's between you and me. The one thing I find utterly impossible about the green life, though is switching off the tap when I'm brushing my chops.
I am aware that I'm wasting x amount of litres of clean, precious agua in doing so, but I cannot for the life of me, find it in myself to turn that tap head in a clockwise direction and stem that flow. I've worked at it, believe me. I have stood there in silence, my gob full of white foam, dripping into the sink but it's useless. I'm an impostor in the environmental bathroom when it comes to it. I think it might be to do with my hating small blobs of dried up white dental alabaster be they mine or others. I've also never mastered the art of walking about brushing my teeth. I envy those clean-shirt-fronted bastards that can walk about, carrying on a conversation while scrubbing their ivories. On the odd occasion I've tried it, I've ended up with foaming cascades of bleaching spume all down myself. No, I need to be half cocked over the sink with a spigot flowing to shoo away the stream of white, or else (in my mind) I'd be there half an hour afterwards scrubbing the sink off.

I can almost get away with a trickle but it has to be on.

Apr 9, 2008

Give Yourself A Treat
At the end of a working week, as you sit up on the couch watching telly, unwinding, you may hear the distant tinkle of the chimes on you local mash van. Go on, let yourself go, just this once...

"A so-called "mash van" in the UK shows off its new "mash cone" with sausage, mashed potato, gravy and peas in an ice cream cone." From the BBC News website.

Apr 4, 2008

In Other News The small town nature of the news here in New Zealand, in general, makes m smile. But this, well, that's total dog and pony show stuff.

Mar 24, 2008

Pan Pipes My Arse
I remember as a green immigrant in Munich at the tail end of the '80s, being utterly captivated from time to time by the roving bands of Peruvian buskers with their exotic stringed instruments and batteries of pan pipes. They generally ran in packs of 9 to 15 persons with each specializing upon his own instrument. Oh my young mind fairly swam with images of the high Andes and the soaring Condor, a lump never far from my pink Scottish throat and my hackles more often than not teased to an erect state at the heartfelt sound of the traditional tunes they played.

Then over the years, as the world became a more familiar place to me and I ascertained that seeing them in other countries was no coincidence, there was a dawning realization that the fuckers were everywhere. Some were as good as the ones in Munich, some seemed a little lacklustre here and there but hey, we all gotta eat and I could live in a world with countless roving packs of tiny Incas in ponchos and immensely brimmed hats. But if there's one set of things I hate, folks, it's fucking laziness, musical mediocrity and greed. And this is what I'm starting to think: Peruvian buskers are a lot of bloody rubbish nowadays. And greedy.

They average two or three to a pack now, they've done away almost completely with the interesting ut hard-to-master stringed instruments, preferring to milk the living shit out of the pan flute and strum lazily along on shite electric guitars with tacky chorus pedal effects. All of that is bad enough but sweet baby Jesus, it's the backing tracks that've replaced the other ten members of the pack that bother me the most. I saw a set today that were taking half hour breaks, leaving the backing tape running and if they hadn't been sitting on their lazy little arses there drinking coffee, you wouldn't have known they weren't there. The backing tape has everything: drums, bass, panflute, guitar... I'm not sure the little bastards aren't just miming now, you know? Lazy, gotten, so they are. Oh! and gone, also, are the haunting traditional tunes. Lately they appear willing to reach no further than Gheorghe Zamfir's back catalogue and playing endless variations of the Simon And Garfunkel pan-heavy classic "El Condor Pasa".

And before I end this rant, what the fuck is with them dressing up like dime store Indians from a Henry Ford western allasudden? Gone are the poncho and humble fieldhand titfer and in their place are fringed buckskin suits, gaudy beads, costume-shop Sitting Bull head dresses and face make-up! These today had a girl doing the hoop dance! What does the culture of north American plains Indians have to do with pan pipery? I've had it. To quote Corrie hero, butcher Fred Eliott "They'll not get a peh....ah say they'll not get another penny outta meeeee..."

Mar 18, 2008


I'd all but given up being impressed by film. However I finally got to see "There Will Be Blood" and boy-oh-boy am I full of the joys of the cinema again? Man, Daniel Day-Lewis - what needs saying? That he's the best living actor bar none? That he's pulled off a character portrait that nobody else alive could have done? Come to think of it, I can't think of any actor now dead that could pull off Plainview either. I was mesmerized by every eye-movement, every cheek twitch, every chew of his tobacco. EVERYTHING this character did, mattered desperately. His character, married to this fantastic story sets a new standard and I'm very much afraid it's back to being underwhelmed for discerning cinema-fans for the time being. All of the other Oscar-nominees this year that I saw were flawed in some way (mostly in editing - "No Country"... would be a pretty perfect picture but for an area of flatland the size of Utah in the middle of it) but I have nothing bad to say about "There Will Be Blood."

So, three cheers for Daniel Day-Lewis for being a real actor, worthy of as much adulation as we can heap on him and for showing up those we consider the top of the acting game these days for raw boys. And three cheers for having my cinema constipation shifted in a big way and remembering what it is to be enraptured in a red velour seat in a darkened room.
The Moose

About 1.5 human years single white-patched city boy with country heart seeks companion for friendship and maybe more? Me? Fast, light, friendly. A real man's man. You: compliant. Likes: beef, possum guts, smelly offal, cat food, legs, car rides, chewing/licking ears and the smelly part behind them, meeting other dogs, chasing acorns at Western Park. Dislikes: vacuum cleaners, lying on hard floors, big black dogs, sudden movements, anyone who walks past my house (for about fifteen seconds).

Mar 17, 2008

I'm remiss. I'm one remiss mister. I've been taking to the life down under, enjoying having summer in wintertime. I've been being outdoors a lot. We've moved into a new home here, in Grey Lynn, central Auckland. It's an amazing area, within walking distance of a place called Ponsonby Road which appears to be a desirable area to be close to. Having been here since January, mind you, I've only made its acquaintance in the passing, really. The house is an old house but its had some love and affection over the years, a tradition I'm keeping up by giving it a paint. Exterior only. I'll post a picture when I've finished. It's a great place to stay but a slightly unconventional set-up inasmuchas Jane, the landlady, lives in the sleepout in the garden - a converted stable. She keeps a dog, a flat coated Fox Terrier called Bruce who's part of the deal, really, part of the goods and chattels. I'm glad that's the case. He's good company. There's also a cat called Daisy who's actually a Tom but by the time the true genital count occurred, the name had stuck. This is a picture of me lat week, at Piha Beach, with Bruce. I had just discovered he's a bit afraid of the surf. He became frantic when TSO went to take a little paddle at the lip of the ocean. Bruce was flipping out, literally, backflips, jumps, barks as though to say "what the fuck? Are you watching this? She's going right into the beast's gob, man. Do something!"

Feb 4, 2008

Tropical Relief

Stick the folowing ingredients in your blender for a minute for a wild explosion of tropical tastes:
- The milk of one fresh coconut
- The meat of two good sized mangoes
- Half the flesh out of the coconut
- A cup of fresh wholemilk
- 2 spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream
- 1 tbsp golden or brown sugar
- pinch salt

Oh sweet jumpin' jimminy, is it a winner!
And I'm not just showing off because I live in a place where you can buy a fresh coconut, either, you cold-dwelling jealous bastards. Ok?

Jan 20, 2008

Alex Brown
Every once in a while, as a fan of photographs, I discover someone with a new view of the world, you know? Someone that makes you laugh, or smile with recognition or takes you out of your own life for a few minutes and imparts in you an unaccustomed thought or emotion. Alex Brown is the latest. We found the above portrait, entitled "Sad Vader" in the book "The Vice Photo Book" today in Barnes and Noble and both TSO and I were instantly smitten by it.

Having checked out the portraits on his website, (many taken at Coney Island, I note with amusement) I'm trying to put my finger on what it is I like about his style. It's not anything technical, nor is it composition. There's just a certain uniformity of expression in the people featured in them that's really the thing that draws me in. I wonder what he says to them the second before the shutter trips?

(Picture used without permission but in the hope that linking to photographer's site might be payment enough?)

Jan 18, 2008

Coney Island

I love closed down funfairs and the one at Coney Island is just as I imagined it from all the songs, books, TV shows like the Sopranos (Ton's recurring dream about meeting Big Pussy at Coney Island for example) - perpetually, beautifully run-down.
The Boxer
On the boardwalk at Coney Island yesterday, it was cold enough that I got windburned quite badly and people wrapped up in fur coats still looked pretty frozen. Except there was this one kid, shirtless, shoeless, putting himself through all kinds of training manouevres for the benefit of an assorted audience of oldies sitting on the benches by the Aquarium, sheltering from the wind. Oh he was going at it, pushups with the figertips, the crawling spiderman pushups, balancing on the railings. I was, naturally, rapt. I got close enough to hear what he was saying to another guy who was there training with a skip rope. He was bragging about how soon he'd take the other guy out if they had a match. The other guy was trying to give him training tips etc. Shirtless wasn't having a bar of it - he actually ended up shouting at the guy to leave him alone, to "don't fuckin' touch me, man" etc. Great stuff. I think he's really, really fit but I have my doubts about his ringworthiness and I frankly pity any trainer charged with putting him in a match.

Jan 17, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge
Thanks, Elvis.

Jan 15, 2008

New York Walk
I've been really beating the pavements of Manhattan this week, and I'm developing a great playlist on the iPod that fits the mood perfectly. Here are some samples:.

Jaques Brel: La Foire
Tinariwen: Izarar Ténéré
Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah: Details Of The War
Omara Portuondo: Te Dije Quedate
The O'Kaysions: I'm A Girl Watcher
Colin James: Tin Pan Alley
Stone Roses: Ten Storey Love Song
Gene Pitney: Town Without Pity
London Symphony Orchestra: Canon In D Major (Pachelbel)
The Cramps: Goo Goo Muck
Wynonie Harris: Lovin' Machine
Toots & The Maytals: 54-46 (Was My Number)
Rory Gallacher: As The Crow Flies
Van Morrison: Glad Tidings
Michael Halasz, Michelle Breedt & Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia: Voi Che Sapete (From The Marriage Of Figaro, Mozart)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: Mercury (as of today)
Nightmares on Wax: Flip Ya Lid
Roy Orbison: Domino
Echo and the Bunnymen: My Kingdom
Incognito: Everybody Loves The Sunshine
The Coasters: Down In Mexico
Charles Aznavour: Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux
Willie Hutch: Give Me Some of That Good Old Love
Felt: Seahorses On Broadway
Patrick Wilson: The Great Escape
Donald Byrd: Fallin' Like Dominoes
Róisín Murphy: Checkin Up On Me
The Hidden Cameras: Heiji

Anyone got any suggestions for additions? I'm fine tuning every day, finding that certain songs really lend themselves well to the landscape. (Incidentaly, I Took this picture from the Brooklyn Bridge the other day when the sky was cooperating)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Last night, at the 42nd Street subway station, I heard this huge sound booming off the tiled walls, horns, drums, this mad, jubilant energy. I was drawn to a place where loads of people were gathered. In the middle of it all were a group of young guys, obviously practiced, tight, effortless. Turns out what I was seeing was "Hypnotic Brass Ensemble" from Chicago and they've been around, by the looks of their gig history.

Man, if I remember one thing from this trip to New York, it'll be this band, the way the normally don't give-a-shit rush hour crowds were stopped in their tracks, walking from the other side of the station to hear where this huge sound was coming from. Check out their story here. I mean, people were nodding their heads, silently saying "yes" to an invisible question, obviously moved by what they were witnessing. The sound is immensely thick with influences: you can hear traditional, classical brass, you can't miss the R&B horn stabs, bringin up some funk in the back, there's blues, there's folk, jazz, hope, inspiration, POW! what a mix. Above all, it's beautiful to see music played just because it's in the people playing it, not to be cool, not to get paid (though they sell their discs, naturally), thy were just IN IT, you know? I can't say enough.

Great quote from the voice over in the Youtube clip: "We make ourselves very hard to catch up with, so when you see us, it's a treat". Indeed, made my week. An appearance on Jools Holland would blow the European world wide open for these guys, and they deserve it more than most.

Jan 11, 2008

Built NY

Things continue apace here in the Big Apple. I met up with an old friend from the Kanazawa days, A.L. who is now back here in his hometown, creating amazing things by way of his company Built, NY. I can't stress enough how well made and damn well-thought-out their products are. Each fills a need that mostly, heretofore has, unbelievably, gone unmet. Even the items they produce that do already exist, like laptop sleeves and computer bags, - they've just really stepped back and thought the task through before coming up with their unique twist on it. Crumpler? Crumpler? They can kiss my royal pink Scottish ass from now on! I'm a huge fan of neoprene anyway, I just love that indestructible, businesslike, bouncy, stretchy feel in my hands, so to see such awesome things made from it, I'm like a kid in a candy store. I remember ages ago when cassette Walkmen were still the go, I had a thing called a Tunebelt: a fanny pack, basically, with a pocket that fit a walkman perfectly - all made of lovely, stretchy neoprene. I cried the day the fucker rotted through and snapped.

Anyway, I urge all you tasteful and discerning NewSoup readers to seek out Built (they're available from Amazon, for a start) and fill your wheelbarrow with lovely Neoprene goodies. That new corkscrew of theirs, too, is so simple it's brilliant. Ooh we've got a shopping list in our heads already...

If nothing else, go to the site to play the Electrica game: old skool arcade action.

Jan 9, 2008

Elliot's Bay
We spent New Year on a two day camping trip to the north of the north island in New Zealand. TSO's close friends have been visiting this place for over a decade from what I can make out, loving and being loved by its trance-inducing beauty. The weather was not even any great shakes, windy and pretty cool at times, but even so, it was idyllic. It not being a registered and official campground, fires are okay and firewood is everywhere in the area. Thus we spent much of the time sat around roaring fires. Our tents were pitched under a grove of the gorgeous Pohutukawa trees. I'm loathe to give away too many details concerning its whereabouts but lets just say its immediately south of Bay Of Islands.
The picture is of me at the top of the lookout hill that stands sentinel over the bay, we'd gone up so's someone could get a signal on their cellphone (another added bonus - if you want that kind of convenience, you need to work for it). I've not long arrived, and am struggling to contain a massive, internal grin as I dispose with my watch, and the notion of time in general, for a few days. There's another trip planned in February and I am already dreaming about it.
In A New Year State Of Mind

Man, the curveballs life throws you. This is the view from my window this morning, the streets of Manhattan, after another grueling airline trip during which I came to realize that air travel in the US, in this day and age, is an enterprise best avoided, really. The whole system is so jittery and up its own arse, post 9-11 (which, let's keep in mind, happened ages ago now) that the customer's needs are completely and utterly buried under a minefield of impoliteness, inefficiency and uniformly accusatory tones. I had three hours between my fights through LAX to NY and only made it by the skin of my teeth. I was shouted at, spent two hours in needless queues, demeaned, made to feel as foreign as a blue comic at a nun's convention and generally felt debased by the whole affair. I consider myself a pretty seasoned traveler, did everything spot on and as it was meant to be done and that's what I get. I was surrounded by holidaymakers, confused, worried, lost who were getting no help at all from airline staff or anyone else. You'd think two buildings had been hit by planes again yesterday. I'd advise anyone I respect to avoid travel by air in America for a while. Even passing through it is a chore.

But here I am, in the city, the brand, for two weeks. TSO is here finishing the last few weeks of filming for the movie we were working on in Berlin, here. I'm back to being camp follower, happily. We're staying at Sixty Thompson in Soho which is pretty nice though the walls are thin as washi - I just heard my neighbour's morning movements in far more detail than I'd have chosen for myself. Looking forward to getting out and getting into it today, though.