Archive for February, 2007

God Bless ‘Er

Friday February 23, 2007

I saw the Queen today, in Bank (London). Big entourage (3 cars behind, 3 cars in front and several motorbikes), big hassle (all the joining roads were blocked off as she sped through Moorgate), big car (gorgeous Bentley) and big hat (silly green thing).

World Press Photo of the Year

Thursday February 22, 2007

Some stunning shots from the World Press Photo of the Year competition. Once you’re on the site click on ‘next winner’ for some memorable photographs.

This is the winner. Bagsy the one in the white.

World Press Photo of the Year

The Perfect Bet

Thursday February 22, 2007

I won’t go on about Liverpool’s victory last night, except to talk about a bet I placed. This screenshot portrays the best possible scenario for a punter, a bet you can’t lose.

I placed a bet on Liverpool to win the Champions League at 28. I knew that Liverpool were under-valued and Barcelona over-valued, therefore if Liverpool got anything out of last night’s game the price would tumble. I was right. After we won the price fell from 28 to 13! This screenshot shows that through hedging it’s impossible for me to lose. God, this sounds really boring, but actually is quite interesting. Sorry. Never again.

Thrilling Demonstration of the Perfect Bet

Wish I Was Here

Tuesday February 20, 2007

Can’t get out of the habit of watching Rio’s Carnival live on TV just before I go to bed at night. In case you don’t know much about Rio, the current Governor of California made a helpful travelogue several years ago. This makes even me squirm.

Warning: the following clip shows pretty explicit scenes of white men dancing.

Foreign Minister and She Knows It

Monday February 19, 2007

It’s probably not a good idea for me to watch Fashion TV’s live coverage of the Rio Carnival. It just causes me to feel sorry for myself, horny (they wear hardly any clothes, although far too much plastic for my tastes) and to call people who I shouldn’t who don’t answer anyway coz they’re too busy enjoying themselves at the Carnival.

This woman is officially the fittest Foreign Minister on the planet. Country? Yep, Colombia. Being Foreign Minister is Colombia must be pretty shitty. I’d hate it coz I’d be overseas all the time trying to convince people there’s more to the country than kidnapping and drug trafficking when you’d much rather be at home <licks lips> looking after Colombianas.

Media consumed recently:

Estudando o Pagode from Tom Zé.  Ace.  This guy is really old but you couldn’t tell from this CD, a really nice mix of contemporary and traditional Brazilian music

Hard Candy.  Over-rated.  I think if you make any half-competent film with a ‘challenging’ subject matter (teenage girl turns tables on pedo) you’ll get positive critical reviews.   But beyond the challenging subject matter, this film is pretty hackneyed.  For a really challenging, but well-made film, see Todd Solondz’s Happiness.

Best of the Jackson 5.  Really.  For probably the most striking vocal performance ever in pop music, listen to ‘I Want You Back’ from an 11 year old Michael Jackson.   Such pain, agony and torment from, worth saying it again, an eleven year old.

Dirty, Nasty, Slimy, Kinky!

Thursday February 15, 2007

Is one of the most shocking lines I can remember in a film, delivered by the brilliant Michael Caine in Mona Lisa, which I just watched again for the 100th time. Mona Lisa has to be my favourite film of all time. Just about everything is perfect in this film

  • Bob Hoskins, as the hapless, besotted hero, hopelessly out of his depth
  • Michael Caine as the evil pimp
  • The script…so many memorable lines: ‘You can fuck me George, but you can’t fucking hit me’, ‘He’s a pimp. He’ll drive around in a Bentley and then go home to his bedsit with a paraffin heater.’
  • The soundtrack. Louis Armstrong’s songs bring a real melancholic air to the film, hinting that tragedy’s always just around the corner.
  • Hell, I’ll even defend the Phil Collins ‘In the Air Tonight’ segment.

According to IMDB, it’s being remade next year with the title ‘Shame’. What justification is there to remake a perfect film?

Update:  fool, fool.  whisht reminds me that the soundtrack, of course, is Nat King Cole’s, not Louis Armstrong’s.

Evolutionary Psychology

Tuesday February 13, 2007

Fascinating article from the LA Times. In short, certain psychological conditions may serve an evolutionary purpose, even suicidal tendencies.

Aaaaaaannnndd: brain diseases I wish I had.  Upon reflection, I might already have a few of them: Tertiary Neurosyphilis seems likely and PSAS (Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome) is guaranteed.

New Passport. A Great 2.5 Years.

Tuesday February 13, 2007

Back in my freezing cold London apartment, Samaritans card in one hand, can of Stella in the other.

It’s finally time to say goodbye to my passport. It’s 2.5 years old and the pages are finally full with stamps, and it now gets comments everytime I go through a passport control office. I’ve been to, in approximate order of frequency:

  • Macau
  • Hong Kong
  • Morroco
  • China
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Peru
  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Latvia
  • Romania
  • United States

Plus the European countries that don’t stamp your passport anymore: Spain, France, Ireland, Germany and Austria. That’s 18 countries in 30 months, a new country every 1.6 months for those, like me, that prefer things expressed in that way.

I Knew Her When Her Breath Used to Stink

Monday February 12, 2007

My last night in Rio was spent again with N in a samba club I´ve been to before and still can´t remember the name of.  Whilst there, I saw this girl I knew from my very first trip to Brazil 2 years ago.  She is a lovely Brazilian-Lebanese smoothie and as tasty as it sounds, only a little bit nuts.  So nuts, in fact, that she qualified as one of only two stalkers I´ve had in my life (the other one was Arabic too funnily enough).  The last time she spoke she was housekeeping in France and then Italy after her father died in a car accident in Rio 18 months ago. 

Anyway, when I saw her the other night she looked quite simply stunning.  She´d lost weight (and she was never fat) and just looked brilliant…..a definite 9 and I wouldn´t be surprised if she was modelling now.  Unfortunately she was with some rich looking Italian guy, probably her husband, so I couldn´t be overly forward in approaching her, plus I was with N, so I thought I´d just position myself near her and wait for us to bump into each other.  After about, erm, say, 2 hours of this I finally gave-up.  I couldn´t remember her name anyway, plus I remember that her breath was a bit stinky.  She looked so much better now, I´d be suprised if her shit stank.

I´m writing this from an internet cafe in Madrid airport, my Madrid-London flight delayed by an hour.  I´m in such a foul mood.  I get these post holiday depressions that I wonder if it´s worth going on holiday in the first place.  If you factor in the pre-departure and post-arrival stress at work, plus the cost, it probably isn´t.

Cidade de Deus. Busted.

Sunday February 11, 2007

Going back to the UK, via Spain, tomorrow. Normally at about this time in my vacation I start to plan the next visit to Brazil and this time is no different….8th April.

I was waiting for a friend at a bar the other day, a bit pished, and started talking to these two girls in the way that you do in this part of the world. They asked me where I was from and I began My Usual Routine. My Usual Routine is the most deplorable, cynical and yet highly-effective tactic ever deployed by a man in trying to sleep with a woman. It’s deplorable and cynical because I say the same thing everytime. I do this because a) it’s very effective…actually incredible effective and b) I don’t know how to say very many words in Portuguese. It goes a little something like this: (written in a very weird mix of Spanish and Portuguese, coz I don’t really know how to write Portuguese)

Her: de donde eres? Americano? (where are you from?  America?)

Me: Eu? Soi carioco (me? I’m from Rio)

Her (laughing): Carioco??? No parece Carioco (From Rio? You don’t look like you’re from Rio)

Me: Sim, Rio. Soi Carioco. De la Favela (Yep, Rio. I’m from Rio. From the Favela (the ghetto))

Her (now really laughing): La Favela? Cual Favela? (The Favela? Which Favela?)

Me (with best earnest face): El Cidade de Deus.  Sim.  Es muito perigroso (The City of God.  Yep.  It’s very dangerous)

The City of God is Rio’s most dangerous and therefore most famous Favela. Brought to international fame by the conveniently-titled and super-fantastic film ‘City of God’)

And it goes on a bit like this for about 30 minutes or until I get bored or, more frequently, they call the police. It’s funny coz here’s a man who is very obviously a middle-class, plump gringo, pretending to be from one of the toughest urban areas in the world.

Anyway….N arrives and we go eat. The next day I was walking with N again along Avenida Atlantica, the enormous beachfront street, when the two girls I was chatting with the day before see me from the other side and start shouting ‘Oi! Cidade de deus!!! Cidade de deus!’. I look at them with a puzzled face, trying to purvey a ‘who are you and why are you saying that to me?’ expression, whilst N is looking at me with a ‘are you still using that stupid line?’ expression.

Rio is obviously a dangerous city, but when I’m on vacation I try to ignore the stories of the crime here because it could paralyse you through fear. But one particular story has hit the headlines recently that I couldn’t avoid. It’s an horrific story of a car-jacking gone wrong. A family, stopped at a red light, were held-up by two gungmen and ordered to leave the car. The youngest child, 7, couldn’t get out in time and the gunmen drove away with him hanging from the back door…for 4 miles. Read the story here, but be warned it’s pretty gruesome.. It’s not a very good article but I can’t find any other articles in English on it, which is surprising coz it’s a massive story here. If you know anyone that works for the UK newspapers please pass this story on coz it’s worth covering and it seems to have stunned Brazil, comparable to the Jamie Bulger case in Britain 14 years ago.

Changing the subject: you’d be stunned at the exposure British chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey get here. Their programmes, ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ and ‘The F Word’, get daily runs in decent slots on high profile channels. It got me thinking as to how important television can be in raising a country’s profile internationally coz if you think about it, other than the royal family and football, there’d be very little coverage of the UK in this part of the world.

In the light of Italian football’s recent crisis, here’s an interesting article on why the US, the most violent developed country in the world, doesn’t have a problem with crowd violence at sporting events.