Posts Tagged ‘General’
This is lovely, from an article in todays Guardian about the effects the retractable roof has on the tennis at Wimbledon. It amplifies noise, amongst other things. Barnay Ronay writes:
“Even the impact of ball on strings sounds like an octopus whirled about by it’s tendrils and violently whapped against a rock.”
I seem to have oriented my visit to New York around the Hudson River – it’s been my most consistent and regular landmark, a kind of distant light that always let’s me know where I am. This isn’t a spiritual observation. Most evenings I’ve been in the West Village, or Chelsea, and on each occasion the sun has set magnificently over the nearby river, drawing me closer on my wanderings. Tonight I’m sat outside The Kitchen, an arts space on W 19th St, and the sun is throbbing over to my left. I’m waiting for a show by So Percussion and Matmos, which promises a showcase of “the range of colors and expressive possibilities of percussion, from subtle, quiet gestures to raucous, no-holds-barred explosions of sound”. The literature makes sure to point out that Matmos craft sound from “amplified crayfish nerve tissue”, which sounds like a warning of sorts…
“After nearly three years, I am leaving Iran. Having arrived fortified only with superficial snippets of knowledge gleaned from books, I depart with a kaleidoscope of memories and images, a limited but (I like to think) rapidly expanding grasp of Farsi and an Iranian wife. So I cannot say the experience has not been beneficial.
The austere image fostered by the Islamic authorities is very different from the Iran I know. Far from being the religious monolith projected by the regime, it will be forever associated in my mind with glorious food, dancing, dramatic landscapes, dazzling mosques and stunningly beautiful women. My departure is involuntary. The authorities have refused to renew my residence permit and have resisted all entreaties to reconsider.”
There was an extremely interesting article in the Guardian recently. Small events in Ahmadinejad’s Iran continue to disappoint, frustrating those of us who are optimistic that Iran is not in need of intervention from the West and is just following it’s own slow course towards freedom and democracy. In the latest instance, the aggressive, defensive president’s regime has expelled the Guardian Tehran correspondent, Robert Tait, from the country, without explanation.
In this article, Tait reminisces over his time in the troubled Iranian nation, drawing a complex set of conclusions over a fascinating, exciting and often horrifying society. More and more I get the impression that Iran is a palimpsest, a piece of parchment that is marked with competing stories, surface-level and hidden. Which Iran is real?
“Drawing the curtains to keep their illicit activities hidden from onlookers, women discarded their obligatory overcoats and hijabs before letting their hair down for an uninhibited knees-up.
The tumultuous scenes were a graphic and defiant demonstration of the national passion for dancing, which – contrary to common stereotypes – Iranians perform with a grace and subtle eroticism beyond most westerners.
But the unlikely setting was also deeply symbolic of modern Iran, where much of real life takes place behind closed curtains and where what you see on the surface is often not what you get.
To the outside world, Iran is a religiously devout Islamic republic in the grip of a rigidly ascetic revolutionary ideology. But that image conceals a multitude of surprises and wells of pent-up energy.”
The division is often described, inaccurately, as one between Western-style freedom and Islam. Tait is more perceptive, pointing out that it is traditionalism, not religion, which continues to hold back Iran’s inevitable march towards modernity.
I wish I could say that things are better than they seem. In some ways they are – in others, Iran remains a country desperately in need of change. I hope I don’t need to point out that an invasion is emphatically not the answer.
Currently watching ‘Hugh’s Chicken Run’ on c4, a very laudable attempt to convince us to turn to organic chickens rather than keep eating intensively farmed meat. Quite right too, and the show is full of genuinely upsetting moments.
‘Stop buying cheap Tesco chickens’ is Hugh’s message. Almost everyone in Axminster shops there. He wants them to go elsewhere. But where? The monopoly of the supermarkets is all but absolute!
Thing is, the folk at Tesco aren’t answering the phone, and Hugh has other things to do. A cooking school, for one. His restaurant, too. Even a book tour. Oh, and one other thing, too. He’s about to open an organic food store in Axminster…
That’ll be handy, then.
I’m writing this at a sun-drenched window at my parents’ house near Cambridge, getting ready to go up to Liverpool to see my cousin getting married. That bit of pointless information was really just a preamble to the following; no updates for a few days, sorry chaps. Don’t think I’ll get the chance to operate a computer ’til the end of the weekend. Am annoyed to be away because I’m missing Nat’s return to Brighton, but it can’t be helped – and I like a good wedding.
Have a good weekend everyone.
Cambridgshire has been beautiful draped in snow for the last couple of days, although it’s melting now, which is a shame, although at least it means I won’t have trouble with the trains tomorrow (hopefully). It does mean, however, that I have to say goodbye to my new friend
This is an extraordinary story with a tragic twist; but the sheer impressiveness of the endeavour, which (I’m a luddite) I knew nothing about means I’m more excited by the idea than saddened. Apparently a test-run of a new type of train has gone badly wrong in northern Germany and up to 29 people have been seriously injured – so far ten have been rescued alive but it is thought that eighteen others, along with the one confirmed fatality, will be pronounced dead. Awful.
And yet the train itself is utterly fascinating. Am I alone to have never heard of high-speed magnetic levitation trains? According to the Guardian they are being trialled in Germany and Japan and one is already in operation in Shanghai. The mind-bending principle is that “There is no fuel source on board mag-levs. They use electrically charged magnets to cause the trains to hover just above the track, and move forward without friction“, which is pretty fucking sci-fi, don’t you think? The train in question was travelling at a speed of around 120 miles per hour but mag-levs in development in Japan can reach a terrifying 310 mph, a speed which would make travelling from Paris to Rome in two hours by rail possible. Astonishing. To put it in perspective, a Boeing 777 travels at a top speed of 562 mph.
Really incredible, although today’s disaster is tragic and hopefully not an omen of more safety problems to follow. It seems that the derailment occurred not because of a problem with the magnetic levitation but because of a simpler and more avoidable factor – a maintenence wagon had not been cleared out of its path. God. After the awful news about Richard Hammond, I’m hoping this is the last story about horrendous accidents at great speed we hear about for a while.
But I look forward to the trains, one day.
I know I really shouldn’t be surprised at the belligerant, racist and deeply unpleasant reporting at the Daily Express (the newspaper whose front page generally makes the Daily Mail look like the model of reason), but the appalling example of today’s paper still shocked (and shocks) me. Unbelievable.
Thanks to Linkbunnies.org for bringing it to my attention, even though it made me angry.
Now that Easter has passed, we seem to be into Summer scheduling, which means tons of new programmes on the telly, and, unsurprisingly, half of them are reality shows; the children of Wife Swap, What Not to Wear, and Jamie’s Kitchen.
Actually, the three I watched this week were exactly that. The worst, Ten Years Younger, was a cruel antecedant of Trinny and Susannah’s excellent appearance’s programme. But where the emphasis in that programme is always on working with what we have, and proving that there are many many ways to make any body look good, despite what Heat magazine might tell us, Ten Years Younger began with the unpleasant idea: if you wanna look good, you’re gonna have to work at it. And they don’t mean go shopping with a list of ‘fashion rules’ in it. They mean botox, hair extensions, more make up than you see on a night out on West St (although not as much as the girl who runs the No. 5 stand in Boots by Churchill Square. Really. Go see). This week’s participant (victim?) was a prison warder with a grade A nicotine habit.We had to guess how hold she was.
By weighting the survey with young kids who, frankly, wouldn’t have a clue, they managed to get her average (perceived) age up to 51 (some youngsters had been squinting and saying ’67?’). Both myself and Vic both said 45 immediately. She was 45. In order to get her looking 41 they gave her 60 botox injections. She would have smiled, but her face was set.
And where Ten Years Younger drew on WNTW for inspiration, Jamie’s Kitchen, the big reality hit of a couple of years ago, where Jamie Oliver had 12 weeks or something (these programs don’t work without an arbitrary timescale, for some reason) to train 20 teenagers with no cooking experience to be chefs in a busy London kitchen, was clearly the main influence behind another, rather better show which just aired on C4.
Gordon Ramsay, who swears inventively and often, was up against the same challenge as Jamie, more or less, in this week’s excellent Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, except the know-nothing star had persuaded a misguided restauranter to call him ‘head chef’, and the restaurant itself, Bonapartes, was in Yorkshire. Cue much Northern stereotyping from Ramsay, who used to play in goal for Celtic and should know better, and lots of closeups of bald pensioners salivating over Gord’s own Beef and Ale Pie.
Fun to watch though Ramsay was, the real star was the young ‘head chef’. He was a genius. A comic genius, I mean. He began by indicating that he hoped to one day run three restaurants (London, Paris, New York, of course), then poisoned Ramsay with an off scallop, revealed he couldn’t cook an omelette and finally that – despite it all – he couldn’t cook a damn thing. Worse, nor he could he empty a fridge. The show seemed to segue seemlessly into another reality show, How Clean Is Your Kitchen?. His was not very clean at all. He was given every opportunity, and was, eventually, fired.
The reality show, when it is good, makes you really root for the participant, really hope he can pull it off. Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares was like an exquisitely plotted episode of Poirot. Only at the end do you discover the murderer – and it was the chef all along! But we liked him!
Not any more. Twenty minutes in you’re praying that he’ll come up to scratch. After thirty you’re grimly fascinated and neutral. With quarter of an hour left I was baying for his blood. What a cretin! Never one to pass up the opportunity to take something too seriously, he was protesting that it was a stich up by the time Thursday’s Guardian went to press. Front page, too.
If the rest of the series is half as good as this week’s episode, it will be perfect.
Almost as good again was last night’s Fairy Godfathers. Ostensibly the child of Wife Swap and America’s Queer Eye For a Straight Eye, it was not only hilarious and touching but downright fascinating. Two (ahem) godfathers (for which read gay men) move in with two old-fashioned husbands and their wives move out. Before long the neandethal men are ironing, whisking their lovers away for romantic weekends, and look ten years younger (with no botox involved).
What made this week’s debut episode so winning, however, was not so much the slow dawning in these men that they have turned their (ridiculously pretty, how did they manage that???) wives into doormats and slaves, but the genuine and tender relationship that developed between one of the ‘godfathers’ and his charge; a pleasingly hefty, affectionate but unreconstructed farmer. They fell in love, if only in a ‘you’re my new best friend’ kind of way. Lovely.
Much lovelier than Ten Years Younger, that’s for sure.
There was another programme on earlier in the week and it was, in fact, better than all of the above. It was entitled One Life, and in it an air hostess, Ros Pryer, met up with other people, children and adults, who were born with prominent birthmarks on their faces. Ros, who was in her mid 30s, had covered her face in camoflage make-up since her teens, and was terrified of being seen with her port wine colouring. Eventually she met a younger version of herself, a young mother, who persuaded her to go out without the warpaint. Had she seen Ten Years Younger the night before filming I bet she wouldn’t have dared – it was a programme which insinuated that behind every smile was the utmost unkindness, and without extreme beauty – or a disguise – we were lost.