Olympic security is out of control and irrational; the best solution would be to designate a permanent Olympic venue somewhere isolated — Diego Garcia would be a prime candidate — and hold the games there permanently so that they don’t endanger life, limb and civil liberties. Alas, that would reduce the corruption corporate sponsorship opportunities, and the games are entirely about milking the host nation for money these days.

Charlie Stross does not care for the Olympics.

30.04.2012 • Permalink

The names of Britian’s 70,000 or so pubs cover a broad range, running from the inspired to the improbable. […] At a minimum, the name should puzzle foreigners – this is a basic requirement of most British institutions – and ideally it should excite long and inconclusive debate, defy all logical explanation, and evoke images that border on the surreal. Among pubs that meet, and indeed exceed, these exacting standards are the Frog and Nightgown, the Bull and Spectacles, the Flying Monk, and the Crab and Gumboil.

Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue (p. 193)

28.04.2012 • Permalink

Call Me Maybe

I love me a savory slice of bubblegum pop, though it admittedy makes me feel old sometimes. Pop music is the domain of the young, after all: a soundtrack for the time in your life when you both have the energy to care about the minutiae of band packaging, while also lacking real concerns like paying rent or keeping your job. On the upside, changing some concerns for others behind means you can enjoy the bubblegum without worrying too much about what it says about your credibility. (For the record, I speak as a man who owns four Belinda Carlisle CD’s)

Call Me Maybe is your typically catchy number; snappy, tuneful without being too saccharine, and short enough not to wear out its welcome. The video is similarly entertaining, and while I’m sure it was focused-grouped into oblivion, Carly Rae Jepsen, a product of the Canadian Idol (according to Google), comes over as a good sport willing to poke fun at herself.

Incidentally, Ms. Jepsen is signed to Interscope, erstwhile home of other bubblegum luminaries like Helmet and Nine Inch Nails.

24.04.2012 • Permalink

Amidst the attention given to the sciences as how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are conventionally considered ‘useless,’ will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously. The arts are the science of enjoying life.

John Maeda, RISD dean.

22.04.2012 • Permalink

Got Monsters(?)

Got monsters, by Keith Mina Caputo

Metal, while still being known as the province of tight jeans, wispy facial hair and ripped denim vests, will often surprise you. I was pretty flabbergasted to read that Kaith Caputo, the Life of Agony vocalist, has (or is about to, I’m not sure) undergone gender reassignment surgery, and now goes by Mina Caputo.

I listened to LOA in my teens, but haven’t really gone back to it, and it was really only due to random chance (and Spotify) that I came across Caputo’s solo album, Died Laughing, aka Roadrunner record’s Heaven’s Gate. The leap from Life of Agony’s River Runs Red to the glorious, life-affirming pop of Just be on Died Laughing could hardly be greater.

Interestingly, the metal community, usually (and not entirely without reason) accused of chauvinism, seems overwhelmingly supportive of Caputo, one fan noting that “sex change is a pretty weak excuse to break up the band”. Anyway, this is the video for Got Monsters from Caputo’s fourth (I think?) solo effort, A fondness for hometown scars, and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking.

19.04.2012 • Permalink

Ashes of laughter…

Ashes of laughter. The ghost is clear. Why do the best things always disappear? (Ophelia)

On a sad note, The Band’s Levon Helm is supposedly in the last throes of his battle with cancer. Here is a barnburner version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down from the Scorsese-directed The Last Waltz. (UPDATE: Helm has passed away.)

18.04.2012 • Permalink

There is no “mission” short of keeping as many of our people alive as possible while they wait for… well, while they wait for what? For Afghans to stop killing each other? The Romans waited for that. So did the British and the Russians. Great powers get bled white in Afghanistan because they never can overcome the Afghan genius for self-slaughter, their seemingly limitless capacity to make civil war on each other and guerrilla war on the invaders, all at the same time.

Charles P. Pierce for Esquire magazine.

16.04.2012 • Permalink