Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Jungle Book

We took the kid's to see The Birmingham Stage Company's production of The Jungle Book, the other day at The Grand Theatre in Swansea.

It was sad, as a fantastic production was just so overshadowed by the Disney film. Our kids just expected the Walt D magic.

You can see what the sets, and coustumes were like by going here , and clicking on current and forthcoming programme, and following the link for the jungle book. I thought it was fantastic.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Trufflehunting in Swansea

To celebrate the wedding of Donald Thomas Howell and Sonia Margaret Terry, on the 25th May, 1958, we dined @ truffle in Swansea on Thursday.

The party was made up of the aforementioned Bride & Groom, their #1 son, Christopher David (aka Grumunkin), His beautiful Wife, Kim Sara, #2 son Martin Rhys, and his friend Jamie.

A wonderful time was had by all, mucho vino being put to bed, and a fine fayre served up by the establishment. As it was a BYO, we quaffed a super little champers first, followed by an elegant Pinot Grigio, a particularly fine Macon - Charnay (?) white, brought by MRH, and a grotty cheap claret. :)

The food was good, ranging from superb to average, but overall, cracking value @ 3 courses for £15. The atmosphere was second to none, with the feel of a buzzing parissienne bistro. We will definitely return.

More reviews can be found at : - mumbles restaurant guide

Sunday, May 28, 2006

el grupo libros ..... the story so far

the data so far is: -

top 10
Lord of the rings JRR Tolkien
Magician guess who
pillars of the earth Ken follett
captain corelli's mandolin Louis de berniers
Fear & loathing in las vegas Hunter s thompson
perfume Patrick suskind
his dark materials trilogy Phillip Pullman
the wasp factory Iain Banks
the histories Heroditus
breakfast of champions Kurt Vonnegut Jnr.

top 20
at swim-two-birds
winnie The pooh
the ragged trousered philanthropists
the snow leopard
clan of the cave bear
lake wobegon days

top 30+
the amazing adventures of cavalier & clay
worthy of mention..............
the good soldier svejk
the metamorphosis & collected short stories
the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
the grapes of wrath
the god of small things
on broadway
i claudius
Ali & nino
the life of Pi

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - still the single funniest book I have ever read
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - favourite all time novel
Dubliners - James Joyce -sublime and haunting.
The Secret history - Donna Tart Unputdownable
The Great Gatsby -Scott Fitzgerald
Heart of Darkness - Conrad - second favourite novel
The Caine Mutiny -Herman Wouk - fabulous - I want to remake the film
Dune - Frank Herbert - Loved it - one of the best SciFi books ever. It has everything. Read it in Goa on miles of sand. Wow
The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailor - Yup
Creation - Gore Vidal Not a book I would have picked off the shelf. Rather a direction from the Anthony Burgess top 100 novels
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - The first book is marvellous - the 3rd book less so but its still breathtaking. Should have won the BBc top novel. And No LOTR isn't here. I've read it 4 times but the film highlights the books flaws. It should be here but even I'm fed up with it winning everything
The French Leiutenats Woman - John Fowles - It was between this or the Maggot
Love & War in the Apenines Eric Newby - not strictly a novel but may as well be. Got it from Radio 4 a good read. Can't think I'd ever have picked it up otherwise
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd - Like all the best books I've been back to reread it again and again.
The Stand - Stephen King - this could have been a biblically fantastic book. It is a fantastic book.
The Cornish Trilogy - Robertson Davies - 3 novels - I confess to not having read the third but I loved it. Unpreposessing
Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - There is just something about this book.
Artemis Fowl - A little to close to Terry Pratchet but an absolute romp. Come to think of it the first 5 Pratchett books were excellent
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee Only read it last year. Its beautiful
New Confessions - William Boyd
Despatches - Michael Herr - God I love this book - not really a novel but my 3rd fave
And also rans...................
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
Bridehead Revisited - Evely Waugh
The Cruel Sea - Nicholas Monserrat "Snorkers Old Boy!"
Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - infuriating that it takes 150 pages to go anywhere but haunting and elegaic
Rendevous with Rama - Arthur C Clarke - David you'd hate this one. its SciFi - nothing happens but its wonderful
Diary of a Madman - Gogol
Diary of a country Doctor -Mikail Bulgakov


Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky
The Iron Dream Norman Spinrad
Kim Kipling
The Happy Prince Wilde
Paingod Harlan Ellison
Neuromancer William Gibson
White Teeth Zadie Smith
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter Thompson
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Conan Doyle
The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test Tom Wolfe
Maus Art Spiegelman
Schinder's Ark Thomas Keneally
My Last Breath Luis Bunuel
Alexander the Great Robin Lane Fox
Into the Heart of Borneo Redmond O'Hanlon
From the Holy Mountain William Dalrymple
The Code of the Woosters P G Wodehouse
My American Century Studs Terkel
To Be or Not to Bop Dizzy Gillespie

I am sure that a different day would furnish a different list. Hunter
Thompson, RIP, is obviously on my mind today for example, but a big
shout out to all my homies for helping me to remember "To Be or Not to
Bop" which I have loved and lost.


The great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
A secret History - Donna Tarte
Fugitive pieces - Ann Michaels. Not a cheerful book but beautifully written- Starting in Holocaust Poland and following on to life afterwards in Canada.
Gone with the wind - Margaret Mitchell - great story and great characters set against the American Civil war.
Anna Karenina - Tolstoy
Songlines - Bruce Chatwin. part story of the Aboriginal life and philosophy and part exploration into the nomadic nature of the human condition - sounds heavy and
it is in places but no the less fascinating.
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
Moon and Sixpence - Somerset Maughan - Boy with slight disability and his journey through life. Not as depressing as it sounds
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
New confessions - William Boyd
Daniel Martin - John Fowles. I too was spoilt for choice with Fowles.
Lord of the rings - Tolkein - First time a film has nearly lived up to the book as well.
To kill a mocking bird - Harper Lee - only book that I have read twice.
Brother of the more famous Jack - Barbara Trapido - gentle observed humour. I must read it again to remind myself of how good it was.
Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich - Solgenitzen - I know the spelling is wrong but I couldn't find the book. As it says on the tin this is the life in a day of a man in a Soviet Gulag.
For whom the bell tolls - Hemmingway. Life though the Spanish civil war - I could also have chosen The old man and the sea but this one has more body to it.
Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving - Very funny and black at times. not as weird as he gets later so about at the limit of my tolerance for strange.
The Passion - Jeanette Winterson - Magical/strange tale set in Venice and I think in the 16th century.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressel
Sons and Lovers - DH. Lawrence - Partly because I studied it for A level and partly because I liked Lawrence when I was more impressionable.
God - this was a hard thing to do as I sure I've forgotten loads and given others undo weight because of the impact they had on me - which is after all what is important.
Not quite making the cut were
The woman in white - Wilkie Collins
1984 - George Orwell.
Stone diaries - Carol Shields (her latest and last book is very good "unless")
Frankie and Stankie" by Barbara Trapido
"Astonishing splashes of colour" by Clare Morrall
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Eating Wolves
by Alexis Scott

meeting 6 (to come.....@ Nick's)
rjm berlin
cdh the 13.5 .lives of captain bluebear
njb xxxx
dsa xxxxxx

Meeting 5
rjm Brideshead revisited
cdh Birds without wings
njb written lives
dsa the kite runner / the discovery of slowness

rjm 'Northern Lights' by Phillip Pullman
cdh the blind man of seville
njb deadwater
dsa the path less travelled

rjm master & commander
cdh the da vinci code
dsa the 5 people you meet in heaven

rjm the birthday boys
cdh no1 ladies detective agency
dsa Family Matters - Rhohinter Mistry

rjm - servants of the people - andrew rawnsley
cdh ali & nino
dsa The Curious Incident of the dog in night time
cdh clan of the cave bear

here are my fave films
AND IN ORDER! (smartarse that I am) (of my preference, that is)
top 10
Apocalypse Now
the jerk
The Lord of the Rings
Star Wars
Shichinin no samurai
Pulp Fiction
Donnie Darko
The Sixth Sense
All Quiet on the Western Front

also rans
The Shawshank Redemption
The Graduate
Reservoir Dogs
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Taxi Driver
buena vista social club
A Clockwork Orange
the life of brian
High Noon
Blade Runner
Das Boot
The Deer Hunter
Young Frankenstein
Kind Hearts and Coronets
This Is Spinal Tap

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dear George

Some very funny comments over at Harry's place , after someone found this pic on the website of the president of Iran, www president ir ahmadinejad

Friday, May 26, 2006

el grupo libros

The stage is set,
the table is booked,
the tub is warmed,
the absinthe / absinthe spoon is sorted,
the sauna is up to temperature,
and the left over beer from the Bradford On Avon Beerfest has found a new home,

all we need now is a Hazard sign: -


kilGORE trout?

Following on from tired of scientology? , if you search on Slave Girl of Gore on Amazon, you reach a surprising result: -

amazon search


conspiracy theorists, answers on a postcard, please...........

On another note, when I eventually got to Captive Of Gor , the reviews were quite enlightening.
The one good review was given 6/6 helpful ratings by amazon readers, and two bad reviews were given 0/4 helpful ratings. That'll be the Goreans, then.

Apparently, the drivel was written by a Professor John Lange (He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University[1] and is a professor at Queens College of the City University of New York in New York City.) Wiki: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Norman .

I can't believe that: -
a) this guy could publish this stuff in all sincerity, and
b) so many copies were sold.

I guess it speaks volumes about sci-fi geeks with sallow complexions, no mates, and very little willies.

More about Goreans, I hear you say?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Towel Day!

From www towelday:-

You sass that hoopy Douglas Adams? Now there's a frood who knew where his towel was. You are invited to join your fellow hitchhikers in mourning the loss of the late great one. Join in on towel day to show your appreciation for the humor and insight that Douglas Adams brought to all our lives.
What do I do?
Carry your towel with you throughout the day to show your participation and mourning.
When do I do it?
May 25th.
Where do I do it?
Why a towel?
To quote from
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practicalvalue - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More From Alexandria

from die spiegel : -

The exhibit at the Berlin museum includes 15-ton statues sculpted from rose-colored granite that have spent millennia on the ocean floor.

The pieces that will be on display in the exhibit entitled "Egypt's Sunken Treasure," opening to the public on May 13, but ceremoniously unveiled by German President Horst Köhler and visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday, were flown directly to Germany on board a "Beluga" cargo plane provided by Airbus. The aircraft's unusual cargo also includes astronomic calendars, jewels, gold coins, penises made of lead and the spout of a baby's bottle. The statue of Hapi, more than five meters (16.4 feet) tall, is considered the largest freestanding sculpture of an Egyptian god in existence.

you can see some nice piccies of the underwater discoveries , by clicking the thumbnails on the site

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tired of Scientology?

For those out there that are tired of Scientology, why not try being a Kaotian, or even a Gorean?.
From news.bbc.co.uk , sent by Rob of Bradford on Avon, this weeks host for El Grupo Libros.

A sex slavery cult based on a series of 1960s science fiction novels has been uncovered by police in Darlington.

Durham Police discovered the bizarre sect after raiding a home in the area, after receiving complaints that a woman was being held against her will. But a spokesman said the Canadian was a willing participant and the other people involved were consenting adults.

The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels which depict a society where women are dominated. The 29-year-old woman is said to have voluntarily attended the sect after finding out about it over the internet. She later contacted a friend in United States, who then contacted the police, saying she wanted to leave but couldn't as she had burnt her passport and return ticket. But a police spokesman said upon arriving at the premises they did not find any evidence of "criminal offences".

Police also investigated claims by a father in Essex his 18-year-old son had joined the sect. However police also found the teenager was at the property voluntarily and they had no grounds to get involved.

We don't hurt anyone, we don't damage anyone, everyone's consensual.

Lee Thompson, 31, says he is the "master" who trains the slaves at the Darlington address.
He said the women who act as slaves "do so by their own choice".

"We're just a group of people that live a different lifestyle, I mean there's nothing wrong with that," he told BBC News.

"We don't hurt anyone, we don't damage anyone, everyone's consensual."

Members of the group based their lives on "a dominant submissive point of view", he said.
"It's one thing that everyone's missed out on so far is, even in our organisation, if that's what you want to call it, women can be free and they can be dominant, we don't stop that," he added.
"But the majority of women in our organisation are obviously slaves because women have a submissive streak in them."

Mr Thompson says up to 350 followers regularly meet in pubs and clubs around the North East, in an area from Berwick to York.

Kaotians are a splinter group of the Goreans, which base their beliefs on novels written by American university professor John Norman.

The books are set on the quasi-medieval planet of Gor, which has a caste system and uses women as slaves.

There are an estimated 25,000 Goreans worldwide

Kim didn't fancy it, though.........

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dead Chest Island

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinespike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of the whole ship's list
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore
And the scullion he was stabbed times four
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped down in up-staring eyes
In murk sunset and foul sunrise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the murder mark!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead
Or a yawing hole in a battered head
And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes
Looking up at paradise
All souls bound just contrawise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em good and true -
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ev'ry man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
With a ton of plate in the middle hold
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there that took the plum
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb
While we shared all by the rule of thumb,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through a sternlight screen...
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Chartings undoubt where a woman had been
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
'Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot
Oh was she wench or some shudderin' maid
That dared the knife and took the blade
By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight,
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well
And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

read the whole legend Here

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

el grupo libros - Next set book?

I'm toying with the idea of setting an e-book for my next recommendation, just to be obtuse.

the HTML link to it is Cory Doctorow: - Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Perhaps I should read it first........

more links here

Monday, May 15, 2006


I'm further up the Amazon, today, positively in Manaus by now, with two more reviews published. ( I remember John Edney (deceased), my former Geog teacher telling us that there was an opera house there : $ )

The Shadow of the Wind


Birds Without Wings coming to light after several months.

that makes 4!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Some excerpts from 'That Letter'

thanks to screedblog for his insights into the letter to Dubbya from alinejad:-

News story: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent an eighteen-page letter to President Bush. No work on whether it was hand-written in tiny type, margin to margin, and wrapped in tinfoil. Herewith are some excerpts.
Dear Infidel Crusader Zionist sock-puppet Saudi-lackey depoiler of Mesopotamia woman-touching pigdog fiendish (293 words excised) Shah-licking son of a toad’s offal: I trust this finds you well. I have much on my mind, and have taken the pen to unburden my breast. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope should you wish to reply.
(429 words concerning Jewish penetration of the Postal System excised)

continued Here

You Tube

I have been having much fun today, looking at music videos at the excellent You Tube . My faves so far are: -

Weapon of Choice : the Fatboy Slim video, with Christopher Walken

city of tiny lights : The ground breaking plasticine animation for a Zappa video

Sledgehammer : Peter Gabriel




Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Set in Afghanistan in the years of change of monarchy to American-led democracy, The Kite Runner is a father and son story with a difference..

The window into the Afghan mindset is enlightening, and seems totally believable. Unusually, the author chooses as the narrator of the story, a little toad, a spoilt brat and a coward, however, this works, and the story unfolds nicely holding your interest up to the end. There is much sadness and brutality in the story but also some pieces of touching kindness.

Well worth a read


Friday, May 12, 2006

Cure For Cancer?

from http://www.newscientist.com/

A new cancer therapy using a "triple whammy" of antibodies has shown unprecedented success in mice. Not only does the treatment destroy tumours – even when they have spread around the body – it also prevents the tumours coming back. And the approach should work for a range of cancers

Thursday, May 11, 2006


More on the Ruth Kelly affair from the excellent Nick at A Welsh Born Icon .

Nick's kindly cleared up any queries on The Catholic Church's position on same sex relationships, with a fine post Here .

Quoth thus: -

You can agree or disagree with it (the Church's position) but it is not confused or hypocritcal.

Ruth Kelly - as a practicing Catholic is bound to think that homosexual acts are sinful, but she is also bound to think that adultery is sinful along with envy, sloth, gluttony, wrath, pride, lust, and greed and many others.
Let's be frank Gordon Brown and John Prescott have got the last seven pretty much wrapped up between them and she manages to work with them.

So now you know.

Ruth Kelly on Homosexuality

thanks to the Indy for an interesting article about our new Minister for Equality. to Quote: -

The newly appointed government minister responsible for equality is facing controversy after she refused to say whether she believed homosexuality was a sin

Ruth Kelly, speaking to Nicky Campbell on Radio Five Live: -

Nicky Campbell: As minister for Women and Equality with your deeply held religious beliefs and membership to the Opus Dei group of Catholics... do you think homosexuality is a sin?

Ruth Kelly: I'm sort of getting used to these questions... about what it's like to be a Catholic in the middle of government.

NC: I'm not asking about that...

RK: That's exactly what you are asking, is it possible to be a practising Catholic and hold a portfolio in government? The answer is yes. Why? Because I'm collectively responsible for cabinet decisions and I firmly believe in equality...

NC: Do you think homosexuality is a sin?

RK: I don't think it's right for politicians to start making moral judgements about people ... What I think the question is, is what are my political views? Those are the ones that I'm accountable for to the public. As a politician I think everybody should be free from discrimination.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Lunchtime Live on Sky News

Kay Burley: What are your views on homosexuality?

RK: As Equality minister I'm delighted to be taking on this brief. I was the minister who set up the equality review...

KB: OK. What are your views on homosexuality?

RK: Well, as I say I don't think people with different sexual orientations ought to be discriminated against in society and as a politician I will make it my responsibility and duty to ensure I have a society which is tolerant, which is fair...

KB: In May 2002 I believe that you voted against same sex couples being able to adopt. Is that right?

RK: Look, people have private views which they express in the House of Commons on votes of conscience in the usual way as members of Parliament. As a member of the Government, I have collective cabinet responsibility...

KB: No, no no... you are the Equality minister. It's not collective responsibility. It's up to you to make sure everyone is treated equally...

RK: And I will do that.

I think I'll open a book for how long she'll last. Surely every interview she gives from now on will feature the same sort of line of questioning?

Read the whole article here

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Lord Of The Dance

I demand you go here and view the video.

Do it

Do it now

Hat tip kottke via boing boing

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In Defence of John Prescott???

Harry's on form today. From Chase me ladies, i'm the cavalry

Quote: -


"Scotland Yard has confirmed it is looking into a complaint that Mr Prescott broke the law by allegedly having sex in his Whitehall office."If I were his lawyer, I would point out that using a government office for having sex with his secretary was far less ruinous for Britain than how he might otherwise have been using it. While Prescott was harmlessly fucking his secretary, the rest of the cabinet were probably hatching schemes to make us all line up and be fingerprinted.

Put it this way: would you rather he was shafting his secretary, or the nation? We got off lightly. I would go further: I would say that screwing his secretary is his main achievement since taking office, and one of the things that sets him apart from monomaniacs and cyborgs like Blair, Brown and Straw. Blair would no more fuck his secretary than he would read a novel. Why? Because he’s a lunatic and a freak, with no more sense of proportion than a Saudi cleric.

Brute that he is, Prescott is one of the few members of the establishment who is still recognisably earthling. "I’m the one who acted stupidly," he said. What was stupid about it? It was normal and human, and one of the few things he has done recently of which sane people might approve. You vote to abolish Habeas Corpus and the Magna Carta, then you apologise for screwing your secretary? Seriously, what’s wrong with everyone on that island? Besides which, to describe it as "stupid" is insulting to the woman, you great oaf.

Incidentally, trivia question: how many jags does "two-jags" own? He owns one jag (second hand). If he were French or Italian he could use his ministerial car to buy milk, visit his whippets, or whatever else he does with his wretched life. But because he was scrupulous, on that occasion, about the difference between government property and private property, he got jumped on.* And the same people who call him two-jags now bitch about him getting his end away in Whitehall. I think he comes out of these scandals rather well.

I still hope to see him hang, however.

*And to carjack or hotwire his jags would be another assault on the Magna Carta:

"No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent."

This often gets overlooked.

- posted by Harry Hutton @
5:34 AM

Made me laugh, anyway.

Can I just point out that the opinions in the above story are in no way connected to......blah blah blah................

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind is a wonderful thing, a book that balances a compelling story, sharply observed humour, and observations on life, all in one superb package. I loved every minute of it.
The story is set in Barcelona and spans the first half of the 1900s, a fascinating time in Spanish history, covering the Republic, Anarchy, Civil war and lastly Franco’s rule. It is against this background of death, betrayal, and constant change that the plot develops.

A young bookseller takes his 10 year old son to the ‘cemetery of forgotten books’ hidden the heart of the old city of Barcelona. The boy is allowed to choose, and keep one book, and he picks out The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. From here, the story opens up like a Russian doll, layer upon layer of mysteries unfolding until you eventually get to the heart of the matter; the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax.

There are many literally connections in the novel, and most of the characters in the book share a love of books with the author. One character says ‘that books are the windows to the soul of the reader’ and I tend to agree. There are a few booky cross-references; e.g. a cat called Kurtz, after the main character from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This is a book that revels in the love of books, and attempts to explain why we love books.

The author obviously believes in love, and is in love. His belief comes over loud and clear, although the consequences of this love can often be tragic, leading to a life of unhappiness and emptiness. Another element that plays an important part in the book is humour, sometimes naughty and often coarse, the book is brought to life by sprinkles of wit throughout. This is used to counterpoint the darkness of the story in places, the evil times of the 30s and 40s Spain loom with a menacing blackness.

I guess it is a reflection of the Spanish view of sex and sexuality, that this book is peopled with ladies of the night, old letches and deflowered virgins. There seems little room for ‘normal’ relationships.

Overall the book is a corker, a real page-turner that sucks you in, makes you laugh, makes you think, and moves you, right to the very end.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bruce Chatwin or Tom Pepper?

Following on from yesterday's post, more on the veracity of BC's work: -

From The wiki of Bruce Chatwin : -

He spent six months there, (patagonia) a trip which resulted in the book In Patagonia (1977), which established his reputation as a travel writer. Later, however, residents in the region came forward to contradict the events that were depicted in Chatwin's book. It was the first, but not the last time in his career, that conversations and characters that Chatwin reported as true, were alleged to be just fiction

and: -

Chatwin is admired for his spare, lapidary style and his innate story-telling abilities. However, he has also been strongly criticized for his fictionalized anecdotes of real people, places, and events. Frequently, the people he wrote about recognized themselves and did not always appreciate his distortions of their culture and behaviour. Chatwin, however, was philosophical about what he saw as an unavoidable dilemma, arguing that his portrayals were not intended to be faithful representations; as Nicholas Shakespeare, his biographer, argues: 'He tells not a half truth, but a truth and a half.'

P.S. I can't be bothered to put stuff in small font any more

Saturday, May 06, 2006

In Patagonia

Following a story from the Beeb about the home of one of the founders of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia, this set me thinking: -

The Welsh settlement in Argentina began in the 19th century. There is now an important Welsh-speaking colony in the province of Chubut, in Argentine Patagonia (In Welsh: - Y Wladfa).

The permanent European settlement of the Chubut Valley and surrounding areas began on July 27, 1865 when 153 Welsh settlers arrived aboard the ship Mimosa, with the aim of setting up a Welsh-speaking colony away from the influence of English. The Argentine government, under the direction of Interior Minister Guillermo Rawson, had agreed to give them 100 square miles (260 km²) of land along the Chubut River in exchange for settling the land of the still-unconquered Patagonia for Argentina.

Their inspiration had been Professor Michael D. Jones, a nationalist non-conformist preacher based in Bala who had called for a new "little Wales beyond Wales". He recruited settlers and provided financing. Australia, New Zealand and even Palestine were considered, but Patagonia was chosen for its isolation and the Argentines' apparently generous offer. Two prospectors, Lewis Jones (after whom Trelew was named) and Sir Love Jones-Parry of Madryn (whose estate in Wales gave its name to Puerto Madryn), were sent to oversee the site and they duly declared it suitably remote and desolate.

The Mimosa settlers included tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, brickmakers, and miners. There were few farmers, which was rather unfortunate particularly when they discovered that the attractions of the area had been rather oversold and they had landed in an arid semi-desert with little food. They had been told that the area was like lowland Wales. At the coast there was little drinking water and the group embarked on a walk across the parched plain with a single wheelbarrow to carry their belongings. Some died and a baby was born on the march, called Mary. John Williams was the only colonist with any form of rudimentary medical skill. They reached the Chubut River and settled in the area of Gaiman, suffering several years of drought and famine.

After some difficult early years of suspicion and a small amount of violence, the local Tehuelche people established cordial relationships with the Welsh and helped the settlement survive the early food shortages. The settlers, directed by Aaron Jenkins, soon established Argentina's first irrigation system based on the river Chubut (in Welsh, Afon Camwy or swirling river), irrigating an area 3 or 4 miles (5 or 6 km) to each side of the 50 mile (80 km) long stretch of river and creating Argentina's most fertile wheatlands, now covering an area of 500,000 acres (2,000 km²). In the 1880s a railway was built along the valley to facilitate the movement of wheat to the port of Puerto Madryn (originally Porth Madryn) on the Golfo Nuevo on the southern side of Península Valdés, now a well-known spot for tourists to see marine mammals.

Serious damage caused by floods in the 1890s and 1900s, together with the imposition of conscription by the Argentine government and a lack of unclaimed farmable land caused some of the Welsh settlers to leave for Canada, eventually resettling in the Winnipeg area, but by the end of the 19th century there were some 4,000 people of Welsh descent living in Chubut. They spread further along the Chubut river and into the foothills of the Andes as far as Trevelin. The last substantial immigration from Wales took place shortly before the First World War. In time the colony proved remarkably successful. As well as the irrigation system, the creation of a Co-operative Society was crucial. The Society traded on the settlers' behalf in Buenos Aires and acted as a bank with 14 branches. The strong chapel-based society was also important, with an emphasis on mutual help and support, social activities and insurance schemes. However, the Co-operative Society collapsed in the Great Depression of the 1930s and many lost their savings.

The Welsh have left their mark on the landscape, with windmills and chapels across the province, including the distinctive wood and corrugated zinc Capilla Salem and Trelew's Salon San David, an attempt to reproduce St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Many settlements along the valley bear Welsh names. Over the years use of the Welsh language has declined, although there is still contact with Wales, from where teachers are sent to assist in keeping the language alive, and there is some social cachet in knowing the language — even among people who are not of Welsh ancestry. There are still important cultural activities, including chapel, poetry and Welsh teas served in teahouses alongside the river in Gaiman and Dolavon.

Principal settlements in the area are Puerto Madryn, Trevelin (=Milltown), Rawson (after the Argentine Interior Minister at the time of the Mimosa), Trelew (=Lewistown, after Lewis Jones, one of the founders), and Gaiman.

thanks to : - the wiki of Patagonia , the wiki of Chubut Province , the wiki of Y Wladfa

for an alternative, (sometimes made up) story of Patagonia, you could try : -

Bruce Chatwin's 'In Patagonia'

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stuff & Nonsense

If you want more Stuff & Nonsense, take a look at Wikipedia:BJAODN 42: The Answer to Bad Jokes, the Universe, and Other Deleted Nonsense.

Some examples I hear you say?

Subascensionism is a religion created by Brian S., James P., Paul D., and Daniel H. in March of 2006 during a Computer Science class that was moving far too slowly that day for the overactive minds of The Four Prophets. Subascensionism is primarily based on geometry, but it has been expanded and the geometric shapes have been personified in order to make it more closely resemble more common religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, or Hinduism.
Subascensionism is a very young
parody religion, though its followers would either consider it a legitimate religion in its own right, or claim that it is no more fictional than any other religion currently being practiced in the world. One man pointed out on Subascensionism's first day of existence that rather than petitioning to teach the religion in science class, Subascensionism could be taught, instead, along with other mathematical theorems and postulates

Oriental Ruthless Boys
Oriental Ruthless Boys (ORB) is one of the biggest Hmong gangs in United States, originating in Fresno, CA. ORB don't claim any colors, they stay true to Hmong Pride. They got members in alot of states, such as California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. There members are usually bald and the way they dress other gangs know who they are. There main enemies are Men of Destruction, Purple Brothers, White Tiger, Imperial Gangster, Asian Crips, Cobra, Unknown Rapist Crew, Mongolian Boys Society, and Asian Pride. ORB gang members is the most hardcore asian gangs to ever exist. They dont clique with no other gangs, they stand by themselves and still defeat all those other gangs. ORB is the only hmong gang that is respected and feared. Their main rival is MOD which they easily always seem to beat up.Beware of the Oriental Ruthless Boys. They are no joke.
Note: apparently this is a real gang. Still hilarious.

Stiob salat
Stiob salat (english: stiob salad) The Stiob salad is an extra large portion of salad. What characterises a decent Stiob salad?
1. Size needs to exceed what is regarded as normal, you pay for a salad - not how much salad you load into your bowl.
2. It is most commonly enjoyed in the East section of the
Stavanger business/industrial area Forus.Although one might find occasional Stiob salads in the rainy valleys of Bergen (particular near NHH area).
3. People who eat Stiob salads are occasionally referred to as "
loudspeakers" or "hightalkers".
4. After enjoying a Stiob salad, one might find the time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate

I guess that's enough....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Countdown to BB7

'zactly what it says on the tin : - countdown to bb7

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bird flu expected to hit West Coast of USA by summer

From news@yahoo.com : -

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California officials expect bird flu to arrive on the U.S. West Coast this summer in what could be the first sign in the United States of the deadly virus, which has already swept from Asia across Europe and down to Africa.
"The H5N1 virus in birds is expected in the next couple of months in the United States," California Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshe told reporters on Thursday at a state bird flu pandemic preparedness meeting.
Officials said the virus was likely to be carried into either the east or west coast of the United States by migrating birds starting their journeys south, either from Alaska on the Pacific Flyway, or the Atlantic Flyway on the other side of North American continent

So the yanks could be in for trouble, too....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another Amazon review published!

take a butchers at : -

amazon reviews


Monday, May 01, 2006

Viva Espana (once)

Con los Ninos en el cuidad
En el playa

Y Adios Espana (los hermanos) Posted by Picasa

Viva Espana (Diez)

El Castillo de Xativa

Posted by Picasa

Viva Espana (nueve)


Santa Faz in Alacant

El Barrio

La Puerta de Alacant Posted by Picasa