Thursday, 29 January 2009
eels yes eels.
that is one idea, anyway.
granted not a particularly good one.
also: this is deeply, deeply wrong.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
i'm going to put the excerpt in full up.
incidentally, the temperature in Sept-Îles at time of posting (11:15 pm British) is about minus 20.8 degrees celsius
loving Karnage on 1Xtra right about now, and the rest of them, there's a hell of a lot going on there
Friday, 16 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Sunday Leader leader, by Lasantha Wickramatunga.
On 12 January, four Ethiopian soldiers died in a roadside explosion just outside the Somali capital along Mogadishu and Afgoi road, as they were heading back to Ethiopia.
“The explosion was so big that it lifted a big Ethiopian military truck off the ground and jolted the ground around the area where the explosion occurred and I can prove the death of 4 of the Ethiopian soldiers, and the injury of scores of others of which I cannot actually guess the exact figure” said an eyewitness.
writes the AFCEA's Nighwatch
"At trial, witnesses accused him and his soldiers of horrific torture in the West African country. Among the techniques: electric shock, molten plastic, lit cigarettes, hot irons, bayonets and biting ants shoveled onto people's bodies. Prisoners were kept in water-filled pits covered by heavy iron gates and barbed wire."
writes the Herald's Jay Weaver
"Taylor is a U.S. citizen, (he was born while his father lived in the United States) and tortured hundreds of Liberians during as commander of the so-called "Demon Forces," a special security unit meant to protect his father, the President, from 1999 to 2003. The precedent is now set for more cases to follow.
Chuckie Taylor's trial is also important for Liberia. This is the first and only conviction in a war crimes trial for the war in Liberia; no tribunal has been setup in that country."
writes FP blog's Elizabeth Dickinson
Monday, 12 January 2009
bloke from the Telegraph doesn't appear to be overly keen on pierogi, for some reason: his loss
the Telegraph is reporting that Chipotle is opening in the UK this year.
this is good news in terms of choice for Mexican street food/Tex-Mex lovers based in the UK.
(people who live in Mexico and the USA, and i know up in to parts of Canada, are clearly very lucky in this regard, and must bear in mind that context is all.)
aside from the new Fleet Street opening mentioned above, and Thomasina Miers opening her second branch of Wahaca (Thomasina is fairly committed, it must be said), there are a few Mexican places in London apparently of note.
(Time Out lists nine places here, of which the happily named Taqueria, Mestizo and the Thomasina gaffs have long intrigued me the most; i have never ate in any of them. it must be said that at least one of the places mentioned, Los Guaduales, is explicitly acknowledged as a Colombian eatery..)
as said the other day, in the UK* the best Mexican grub (and bear in mind, context is all) for my money is Cambridge's Mannamexico, followed by Belfast's Boojum.
the now-expanding Mancunian mini-chain Barburrito (for those who know the Manchester dining scene, i must admit what this person has to say here about El Macho made me laugh) has recently opened a third venue (their first outside Manchester), in central Liverpool, and they can be considered an honourable third.
i mention Barburrito as the owners were inspired by lunching at Mexican fast-food gaffs in the USA whilst travelling, and will have encountered many a Chipotle in Chicago when they researched (there used to be a Jonathan Schofield - Manchester-area local travel guide-type, historian and food writer - review of the first opening that IIRC made this specific claim about Chicago on the Manchester Evening News website, but as he is no longer with the MEN - AFAIK - i cannot find it).
i only mention Chicago because i love the place.
(for more on Schofield, see here.)
anyway, as someone once said to me, there are perhaps similarities between, say, the Chipotle experience, and the Barburrito experience.
as it's been a few years now since McDonald's ceased their relationship with Chipotle (see here), i think we can look forward to Chipotle coming across the pond without too many snide remarks accompanying them. (i don't mean to sound straw-mannish here, but as with Pret a Manger and McDonald's, i have myself encountered fairly frequent mention of this in person, and in my experience the fact of their relationship at the time was sometimes used as a stick with which to denigrate Chipotle in general, although this was far from the case all the time.)
(with respect to the great Bandini.)
bearing in mind my sole experience of Mexican food in London was a meal around Old Street once, and the only other experiences of Mexican stuff i've seen much of in Britain are a gaff in Edinburgh, that cheerful little burrito van that used to be on Birmingham's Broad Street, and, er, that's about it..
Sunday, 11 January 2009
"Prayers have been said at a service to remember a sub-postmaster's son who was shot dead by armed robbers on Friday."
'Detectives have identified a man they are hunting over a double stabbing on Merseyside that left a man dead and his son seriously injured.'
A teenager is fighting for his life after being stabbed in south-west London.
A 29-year-old man is recovering in hospital after being shot in the stomach in south Manchester.
he is excellent on the BNP.
BNP tries to reach kids, but reaches Nazis instead.
The History National Curriculum: Myth and Reality.
The 'Nazi' Question.
BNP: Police run by 'left-wing mafia'.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
if, as at least one review i have seen does, you conflate the entire film itself with some of the callous politics displayed in the film, you may be disappointed.
on the other hand, if you're looking for a smart, pretty sharp counterterrorism movie and are down for some lean performances, you should stroll up.
Friday, 9 January 2009
Matthew Lewis has now apologised "unreservedly" to the McCanns. He was expelled from the party after telling friends of his New Year party exploits.
what do they teach them at these schools?
so, here's a sprinkling of some of the rest (as earlier, some of the following films are older than 2008, but generally by a year or two at most, and i saw them last year at the pictures in one of about four countries in a first-run capacity, so i think it's fair enough to be a bit loose with criteria).
this post promises* to descend, invariably, into a list of absolutely all first-runs i saw last year.
how did they get this so right? Michael Cera, you're a star.
and you, too, young lady.
Juno's dad was once a white supremacist gang leader in homoerotic prison show 'Oz'. marvelous. one of the finest (and just so) film soundtracks since Into the Wild (which was similarly fab in both songs, and as moving picture).
there were a few strands running through this film, with perhaps the most affecting being a middle-aged woman whose courting attempts were continually undermined by her frail, older sister. one of the women at the salon hadn't yet come out and that was handled quite nicely. (the epilation of the title was shown, wonderfully, including the removal of a male cop's upper lip hair.)
such a profoundly different film to much of the multiplex in terms of the dignified pace at which things revealed themselves (that is to say, with no great rush at all). the overall effect was not snail, more glacier. in terms of immersing cinema possibly the experience of the year. it left you deeply shook up, and not only due to the background subject matter (a giant dam in China = flooded villages, and that is overlooking much of it).
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
anticipating criticisms along the line of this was an overlong, somewhat empty exercise to some, i would note Affleck's stumbling, mumbling performance built up a sort of head of steam, a satisfying exercise in accretion. and the film looked superb, with cinematography to rival the opening pans of No Country (and, overall, beat it).
the wind rustling through prairie grass.
intimate and deeply moving. and very sympathetic.
The Silence of Lorna.
a (slight?) drop in quality for the brothers, apparently, is the consensus (this their only one i've seen), and maybe the ending is a bit too open-ended for some, but i thought it magnificent.
they really live their locations, don't they?
like being scared. and impressed. and, then, happy.
(also, Belén Rueda is gorgeous.)
meeting of cultures-different sides of the track arc, drums, the injustice of how poor people move around the world with far less ease than capital does, drums, the lovely Richard Jenkins (who was perfect in Burn After Reading), drums.
it could have been a different - and perhaps more powerful, certainly more worthy, definitely less subtle - movie if the end focus of the film hadn't rested on the successful New England professor, but his anger and concern for his immigrant friend Tarek's plight is epitomised with that subway drumming coda (plus audiences don't need spoon-feeding), and it's hard to think of a (relatively) big American movie in recent years with as finely appropriate an ending as this one. About Schmidt maybe?
(also, Hiam Abbass is gorgeous.)
this is already a good movie anyway, and all good movies must end.
Owen, thoroughly on the money. (excellent on accents.)
The Dark Knight.
even leaving aside the politics, and the fact this is a fine film with not just the incredible Ledger, but Eckhart on song too, (and Gyllenhaal and Freeman and Oldman convincing), you get car chases taking place under the Chicago El, William Fichtner as a handy banker, Batman swooping among 2IFC and the other modern redwoods of Hong Kong, and Michael Caine gets to utter the most bad ass line in the film (although aficionados would have been more pleased with the final conversation between Batman and the Joker, granted).
Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
i was ravished.
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Shia LaBeouf + Harrison Ford + well-executed job x Karen Allen - Ray Winstone ÷ John Hurt = Cate Blanchett (Cate has no need of brackets).
My Brother is an Only Child.
unfortunately i missed The Baader-Meinhof Complex (and Garage, while we're at it), but this also had reds holding guns. a bit of a looker concerning the two brothers with differing political outlooks coming of age in 70's Italy, yet by turns funny, laugh aloud funny, and then seriously beautiful (an in-film concert, for one), with some breath-catching scenes, and quite a finish, too.
The Yacoubian Building.
huge (practically epic) Cairene soap - i have not read the novel from which it was taken - with a bit of everything thrown in, including a lot of humanity (and humanity), plus a useful reminder that Hosni Mubarak tortures, persecutes, extinguishes, harasses, cracks down and detains on a whim.
Burn After Reading.
more typical Coens (including casting) after the singular No Country, and classic Coen extravagance.
i am still shaking from what happened to Brad Pitt.
Clooney is lovely, isn't he?
Quantum of Solace.
i adore Daniel Craig in general, and this darker direction compared to some of the classic years of the franchise appeals (there's only so much Roger Moore you can take, although i do love Moonraker and Live and Let Die as much as the next person), whilst acknowledging the entire series has always had a wry smile up its sleeve: at least up until now.
Craig is only behind Connery already for me after two films, and he has feelings!
(that said, if we're talking sparse spy brutality, Matt Damon is the man, and i must admit my appreciation of the Damon Bourne may be tipping me further toward this Bond than he strictly deserves.)
how awesome are the parts in the subway?
call it 'smart gore'.
smart gore sounds like it could be the title of a giallo guide for Anglophones, but, hey.
The Golden Compass.
i read the trilogy and went with a friend - at his insistence - who hasn't read any of the trilogy.
he pretty much hated it, which was certainly stronger than my reaction (it didn't really warrant a strong reaction TBH).
the vaguely Fens-like settings at some point and a nice ensemble cast (not a surprise when you consider the esteem in which Philip Pullman's work is rightly held) were my highlights, and i'm glad i went, because the more time in East Anglia the better AFAIC.
(also, Dakota Blue Richards was brilliant.)
The Day the Earth Stood Still.
i was surprised by how heartfelt a tribute this was to the original (of course it has been getting a critical kicking), the message still sweet and the pic, overall, quite touching.
on an IMAX screen it packed a real punch and i am left defending Keanu's grasp of stillness in the same way that Scarlett Johansson above was either;
(a) a harder-fought pleasure/acquired taste compared to the ease with which we all enjoyed the effortless sight of Bardem and Cruz arguing in the street
(b) the weak link
(c) both of the above
the reason why i have not put any bracketed comments about my, er, views on Nadine Labaki after my Caramel paragraph are known to people who know me..
* that was the wrong word, wasn't it?
Thursday, 8 January 2009
(Copyright ©2006 Northern and Shell Media Publications)
it would take the vigour of, say, a Robin Carmody or a septicisle to keep up with the many distortions that characterise the Daily Express' long-running coverage of immigrants, asylum seekers* and economic migrants taking advantage of soft touch Britain, but even lazy old me has to pause at the bobby dazzler that is their cover today.
Nick Fagge writes
Up to 200,000 migrant workers are set to lose their jobs this year as firms lay off staff in the construction, manufacturing and retail industries. But while some young single workers are expected to return home, many others are likely to stay in the UK and ask their relatives to join them.
They are keen to take advantage of Government handouts which are four times higher than in other EU states.
The average family with children can claim around £715 a week in benefits in Britain, compared with just £178 in countries such as Poland.
(though even Fagge has to note in closing that 'Last night the Home Office claimed that the number of Eastern European migrants coming to work in Britain had fallen to “its lowest level” since 2004. And the Department of Work and Pension claimed that only a small number of East Europeans had applied for jobseekers allowance and income support'.)
i fail to see what is so devastating about this.
the specific migrant residents the Express is discussing are those human beings from our fellow European countries (EU member states) who have come to the UK in the last several years, many seeking jobs.
the Polish plumber is a British taxpayer whilst working here.
immigration enriches the UK in many ways, and immigrants certainly contribute in the fiscal sense.
you may as well say UK-born-and-bred people who have the misfortune to fall out of work are costing their fellow Brits and northern Irish money when they seek unemployment assistance.
(yes, you can point out that unemployed British nationals who have lived all their life in Britain will be taking up a job in Britain the next time they enter the workforce, whereas some unemployed residents of other nationality are likely to return home at some point, but these migrants have earned - by the standards of the Express if it is honest with itself, lauding ordinary hard-working Britons as it does - the right to assistance.)
as a side-note, one factor for the disparities in welfare between the UK and Poland is that, whilst Poland in 2007 was estimated to have a PPP of US $16,200, the estimate figure for the UK that year was US $35,000
(and although i know absolutely nothing about the Polish welfare system perhaps it is fairly safe to assume there are, er, reasons in Poland's history in recent decades for that low-sounding figure)
* inevitably bogus
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
writes Abdi Sheikh
'A prisoner found hanged in a cell was a "fit young man" months away from being eligible for parole when he apparently killed himself, an inquest heard.
Michael Bailey, 24, from Ladywood, Birmingham, was found hanged at HMP Rye Hill, Warwickshire, in March 2005.'
(copyright Getty Images, photograph is hyperlinked, via.)
Monday, 5 January 2009
Mano Ganesan, an opposition lawmaker, called on both sides "to conduct their war in a way that the civilians are not affected or punished" and asked that a group of observers from all political parties be allowed in the war zone...While the military has avoided large-scale civilian casualties in its latest offensive, reports of civilian deaths have grown in recent days.
“They are in the process of advancing further North to take full control of the Elephant Pass area soon,” a senior military official told the Daily News.
“With the capture of Elephant Pass South the troops are now in control of the entire Jaffna lagoon.
They are in full control of the lagoon front from Pooneryn to Paranthan and Paranthan to Elephant Pass on the A-9 road,” the Brigadier added.
an Economist leader from around November 27th was right on the button.
it's worth reading in full but the pertinent bit for this post was
Yet all three elements remain true.
the rest here.
Police have launched a murder inquiry after discovering her body in Kenbury Gardens, Camberwell, at about 1830 GMT on Sunday.'
Shakilus Townsend was attacked in Thornton Heath, in July and died in hospital the next day.'
Saturday, 3 January 2009
B92 writes "This week's stabbing of a Serb boy, and the arrest of the Gnjilane Group have added turbulence to Kosovo's poor security situation, an expert warns."
and what of that Gnjilane group?
(monsters in the Balkans.)
"We're looking here at the arrest of a significant number of individuals, members of the so-called Gnjilane Group of the Kosovo Liberation Army suspected of kidnapping 159 Serb civilians and killing at least 51 between June-October 1999."
Many of the victims were killed in a boarding school in the town. They were first taken there, stripped naked, tied up, severely beaten and stabbed with knives. Parts of their bodies were cut off before they were viciously murdered.
incidentally, if you've not read de Waal's preface to his update (even if you've read the book itself previously), it's worth getting hold of.
sources include Leo Kuper on genocide, David Maybury-Lewis on the anthropology of genocide, stuff on Sudanese land law and epidemiology, and the landmark 1995 study from African Rights on the Nuba people of central Sudan (which he actually co-authored with Yoanes Ajawin).
the second part of the preface is about the origins of the Darfur crisis, 2003-4 (basically a shortened version of his history with Flint) but it's the first section concerning "Famine theory and Humanitarian Practice" that's of interest here.
de Waal discusses how, between 1991 and 2000, Ethiopia saw an average growth in GDP annually of 2.9%, a stat that obscures significant ups and downs. (during the same period, one year saw a contraction of 3.64%, whilst in other years the economy grew by up to 9.4%.)
citing Easterly, he continues, observing Macro-economic figures show that more people are plunged into poverty by an economic contraction than are lifted out of it by a comparable expansion.
he then considers an IMF paper published as Ethiopia was being ear-marked for debt relief under the HIPC programme.
(going to quote a considerable chunk now, and the initial emphases left in are his, as the text will make clear, whilst the final part of de Waal's final sentence contains my emphasis.)
Famine that Kills: Darfur, Sudan (revised edn.) Alex de Waal
The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics William Easterly
'The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Joint Staff Assessment of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Annual Progress Report' IMF Country Report No. 04/59 (here.)