31 May 2006

Obvious Ethical Lesson Number One - Don't Shoot Infants

Following on from two sensational stories about the US Military slaughtering several innocent Iraqi civilians, the US have announced that all troops will be receiving ethical lessons. Will lesson one be “don't shoot babies or infants”? Perhaps lesson two should be, “don't shoot un-born babies”? Or how about the third, “If you are going to shoot people hell-bent on illegal acts, saying 'God told me to do it' then at least be consistent”.

30 May 2006

Where Did You Go on Holiday? Kos. I Said Where Not Why...

Very sparse posting over the past two weeks as I was sunning it up in Kos. First of from my gallery you'll notice that while I was happy to take pictures of the military airport in Taba, Egypt, I wasn't stupid enough to do that in Kos! The hotel was fantastic, everything a 5* should be. They have a dress code for dinner and it's so well enforce that the mosquitoes can't get in. The local draught soft drinks tasted watered down it was akin to going from decaf to espresso on my return! The whole island is very peaceful and pretty, although for such a sunny island I can't understand why they have three shops that just sell umbrellas! Maybe it's a front for something... The food was fantastic, eating out we had some of the best kebabs we've every had. The weirdest two things were 1. You couldn't flush the toilet paper (is this because it was the Romans who invented toilets?) and 2. The languages actually sounds incredibly like Spanish at times. A great holiday with a wonderful island that I would recommend to anyone.

23 May 2006

Behold the Final 6 Bottles of Malibu Lime in the World!

In July 2003, whilst holidaying in the tropical paradise of Barbados I fulfilled one of my life's ambitions. I know I've mentioned I went snorkeling with sea turtles but this was far bigger than that. I went to the Malibu distillery! Having been on the island a few days I was already away of the hedonistic delights on an unheard of variety of Malibu, Malibu Lime. Same rum, just with lime instead of coconut. It has been kept so secret there are less than a handful of pages about it on the 'net and I've had to update the Wikipedia entry for it today. Strange really because it was very very good. Despite the high alcohol tax we bought a bottle before the tour and as we finished and sipped our complimentary freshly made Malibu Lime cocktail, they regrettably informed us that it was being discontinued that day! Why? The islanders loved it, the tourists loved it, the French were not fussed. Ah. It seems the only other place you could buy it was in clubs in France and they didn't take to it. We rushed back to the shop only to find that *all* the bottles had gone.

Over the following two years we nursed our final litre, reluctant to finish it off. Every holiday I would traipse around the off-licences looking in desperation for another bottle (well, that's not the only reason as I always bring back enough spirits to stun a baby elephant). After three years of pointless looking and no sight of it on the king of car boot sales, eBay, I struck gold! In a nice family run off licence in the capital of Kos I discovered the in the world! Correction, the last three bottles of Malibu Lime in the world :-) A quick spin of the bottle and all the writing on the back is in French - they don't know what they are missing! One bottle was devoured whilst in Kos and the other two are currently under 24 hour armed guard in my flat. One other shop had four more bottles (just down from Kosta's, the best kebab place in Kos in case you are thinking of flying out to get some), which means there are a confirmed seven bottles left in the world. Out of interest I wouldn't accept £100 for one of my remaining bottles!last six bottles of Malibu Lime

19 May 2006

Fandabbydozie! The Krankies Are Headlining This Year's Fringe Festival!

I jest ye not. The final day of the festival, for one performance only, The Krankies will return to Scotland. The show has been described as suitable for anyone from 18-80 (not children you will note) and I for one will be there. Other major names include Armando Iannucci giving a workshop as part of the TV Festival and Free Speech activists Trey Parker and Matt Stone will also be giving a workshop (I believe they also created some dubious cartoon too).

17 May 2006

Cannes It Be True? Da Vinci Code Slated By Critics Shocker!

The film has now been seen by the critics. The words being used are "dud", "stodgy", "grim" and "wieldy". The plot is described as "cumbersome" and "plodding", while Tom Hanks gets called "wooden". Daily Variety attacks the film as "an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material". Who'd have thought respected actor Tom Hanks would have his performance and film out shone by former wrestler The Rock, as his film Southland Tales has been nominated for the Palme d'Or. That makes director Richard Kelly, of Donnie Darko fame, the youngest person ever to be shortlisted for the award. It seems with all the hype of the film, critics are also coming out and slating the book too. Novelist John Mortimer dismisses the novel as "unreadable". He clarifies this by saying "The first page is terrible. It is so badly written, it couldn't be read by anyone who respects the English language". Even Edwina Currie said she found it impossible to get past the first page! She complains "It is extremely badly written - full of cliches. It was actually painful to read".

15 May 2006

Would You Love Me Any Less, If I Was Black?

Not one to shy away from shocking headlines am I? Having played around with a cool web tool from St Andrew's University (the second best university in Scotland, after Edinburgh!) I complied a collection of alternative Phills. These are like my the main banner, simply achieved with The Gimp. These pictures are truly amazing! So here we go...
Will I still be as gorgeous when I'm collecting my pension? Would I make a good looking woman (we already know the answer to that!)? Would I be able to eat spicier foods if I was from India? Would I learn Japanese quicker if I was oriental? Would I be a better footballer if I grew up in Rio? Would I look any better if I was made into a Greek masterpiece? Would I kick arse if I was a Manga hero? Finally, would I be any cheekier if I was literally a monkey (technically that's a chimp but I'm not fond of tea)?

13 May 2006

Hansen: "Gerrard is Probably the Greatest Liverpool Player Ever!"

*Before* the FA Cup Final started, legendary defender Alan Hansen said "He [Gerrard] is probably the greatest player to ever wear the red of Liverpool ... and I don't say that lightly as I've played with Daglish". I wonder if he's changed his mind after the final whistle? Gary Linker said of Gerrard's strike "I think we can just ignore the Goal of the Season compeition". Here's my bold prediction: When Gerrard lifts the Premiership trophy this time next year Daglish will come out and say that Stevie is the greatest player he's ever seen and clarify "better than me". A quick comment about the similarities with the Champions' League Final. I had previously said Liverpool would lift the cup as we drew Chelsea in the semis rather than the final. The fact that we then went three unbelievably unlucky goals down (own goal of Jamie's standing leg, spill by the keeper Reina and then incorrectly ruling Crouch's volley out for offside) and fort back is quite major. The games ends 3-3 and the extra time is basically a walking battlefield. In the dying seconds the Liverpool keeper has to pull of a stunning save to keep them in the game: Dudek saved at point blank range from Schevchenko and Reina tipped it onto the post from Reo-Coker. Of course we then have two great performances by the keepers. I won't make it to 30 if Liverpool keep going on like this!

In other related news in the interviews before the game Gerrard talked about our stiking situation. He said next year we'll have "Robbie will be there and Crouchy and Fernado will chip in a few plus 25-30 from a new guy". I think that confirms 100% Cisse is on his way. Also in the BBC studios Ian Wright was getting ribbed and teased by his co-presenters about his son, Shaun Wright-Phillips, moving to Liverpool. Not much of a giveaway but he finally conceded about Gerrard, "any father would want his son to play along side him". Place your bets now, Liverpool as 2006-07 Premiership Champions, as the odds will shrink once we get a prolific hitman and a great right winger.

12 May 2006

Attention BBC: Kelvin Out! Respect the 96 Lost at Hillsborough

This has really annoyed me. The BBC are *paying* disgraced former Scum editor (Sun editor) Kelvin MacKenzie to host two documentaries on Radio Five Live called World Cup Scandals. This man should never be allowed to work for a public company, let alone in the field of football. Why? He was the "brutal editor" (Piers Morgan's words) who printed heinous lies about the Liverpool fans' actions during the Hillsborough disaster. He also took great pleasure in printing "Gotca" on the front page to celebrate the death of a large crew as the Belgrano was sunk during the Falklands War. I would urge any self respecting football fan or anyone who has respect for the truth and human life to lodge an official complaint to the BBC to try to get these two programmes pulled. They are due to be broadcast on the 27th May and 3rd June. Here's the complaint I left:

I am disgusted to learn that disgraced journalist Kelvin MacKenzie is being paid with my license fee to host two football documentaries after his heinous behaviour and lack of respect for the 96 poor souls who lost their lives at Hillsborough. As a publicly funded organisation the BBC should up hold high moral standards and not allow pay or give airtime to a man who has caused such pain and suffering to thousands of grieving families and friends. I respectfully request that due to the insensitive nature of his casting the programmes be pulled or replaced with a different person. You would never disrespect the lives of the fallen soldiers by having Kelvin do a piece of relations with Argentina, nor should be have anything to do with the football world.

Proven: Three Negatives Equal A Positive!

I thought that shocking headline would wake you up out your slumber! No, I haven't taken leave of my senses, I'm recapping the first episode of Never Mind the Full Stops, BBC4's new grammar/linguistic based panel quiz show. I learnt some really interesting things last night. Firstly, did you know that "kicked the bucket" is *not* a euphemism for dead? It is in fact a cacophemism (or dysphemism, your choice). They are both roughly the opposite of euphemisms, the former being deliberately offensive while the bracketed later can be either nasty or humourously deprecating. Probably "now worm food" or "burning in eternal fires" would be a better example of deliberately nasty cacophemisms. Does anyone know what a shandygaff is? It's the full name for a shandy and it was originally made from beer and ginger beer. How about trying to decipher what the expression "Negative Care Outcome (NCO)" means? As if it were uttered from Gus Hedges' mouth, it does indeed mean that the patient has died! Finally, as promised, they showed a stunning piece of literary word play by the often clumsy Boris "that's not my real name" Johnson. On presenting Have I Got News For You he strung three negatives together to get a positive: "I couldn't not disagree with you more". If you missed all this fun you can catch the repeats on Tuesday, only on BBC4 for the moment though.

11 May 2006

The Most Quintessentially British Thing About the Summer: Roadworks

I was walking along past Haymarket yesterday in the baking sun as the traffic compressed itself all to one side. In doing so a though popped into my noise-polluted mind: Is there anything more quintessentially British in summer than men drilling at roadworks? I can't think of the last time I actually saw someone out on the road with a digger smashing through the concrete/tarmac. Wait, I can, it was last summer. Why do councils wait until the decent weather comes along and then send out all their crews to dig up the bloody road? No one would care if they were stuck in a forced traffic jam in the pouring autumn rain, at least they'd be warm and sheltered. It's when the heat finally arrives and we have all the windows down but are essentially still sitting in a greenhouse, when we need to be moving quickly. That's when some sadist decides to throw all our plans into disarray and make us melt, stationary in the dusty air as pedestrians saunter past us. Having made my peace with a small disruption as I wander about, I open my window this morning and all I hear is the hammering sound of a pneumatic drill pounding into my room. Working crews like this must be likes bees, only come out at summer. Either that or the drills are not actually mechanical, they are cold blooded and so need the temperature to rise beyond 20°C.

9 May 2006

More Lovely Sunsets From Chez Phill

Wandering aimlessly around my flat last night and caught sight of a punishingly red sun as it was setting. These two pictures don't really do it justice but you can get a sense of just how red it was from the edges of the inferno as it hangs waiting to drop out of the sky.  No real sun set this evening just a wonderful pastel sky. You can see the banding of such peaceful colours and the contrast to the cold blue sky above. Maybe I'm missed my true calling...

8 May 2006

Either She's Desperate or He's A God!

Out walking along Princes Street I see a sign on a pedestrian crossing. It reads: "Graham / Graeme. I'm the French girl you met at UFRESH at the VENUE last Saturday (25/03) but I couldn't get your number before you disappeared... If you want to meet me again you can call me on 07910 141 xxx". Several things spring to mind, after I finished laughing. Firstly, she is desperate or ultra-naive as regards advertising on posts. Secondly, if he "disappeared" before you could get his number I'm guessing he didn't want you to have his number. Thirdly, maybe you now regret advertising your mobile number all over the place. Finally, and this is the most interesting of all, this is actually a really clever marketing company advertising a dating service to single men (called Graham). Sadly this was disproved the day I called her and got a French sounding girl's voicemail. We are going out this Thursday ;-)

I Take Photos Whilst Standning at the Mens' Urinals

We all know this to be true as we've seen the ultra-observant story relating to Ikea's toilets. I discovered this picture that I took over Christmas whilst standing at the urinals in a working man's pub in an old coal mining town in the North West of England. I can't put my finger on why it caught my eye, but I was tempted to see if this recruitment agency could find me a new job (as a professional columnist perhaps).

7 May 2006

This Is Literally You're Worst Nightmare!

Where do I stand on this title? There is the obvious mistake added for a bit of a laugh but the real crux of the matter is the third word, literally. We all know what literal means, therefore literally means "in a strict sense". This is not however, really your worst nightmare. Literally has, for over 100 years, been used as an intensive (before a figurative expression), sadly taking the exact opposite of the real word. For example, "he missed the goal by literally 100 miles" is not in fact literal, it's the opposite of it, figurative, yet we use the word literal-ly to exaggerate the expression. Possibly surprisingly, I'm quite happy for this double-yet-opposite meaning in this case as I like to intensify my figures of speech. [It's not that stupid, what you are saying is "it's literally a "]
There are more instances of similar peculiarities of the English language, such as skinned and seeded both having the opposite meaning to themselves. Is it a verb? No. Is it a noun? No. It's verb-noun! "Is this fish skinned?" "Yes". What does that mean? Does the fish have skin (noun) or has it been skinned (verb). On the other hand it is never acceptable to to add an intensive before a literal statement, nor is it ever acceptable to use the simile "like" as an intensive before any statement, e.g. he was like, a hundred metres away!

If any of the above is for you, hopefully so should Never Mind the Full Stops, a new BBC Four show about all things linguistical. It starts this Thursday and runs for 8 weeks. If you don't catch it at 10.30pm you can catch the repeat on Tuesdays at the earlier time of 8.30pm.

6 May 2006

Exclusive To Woolies: How To Be A Strip Club Dancer For Girls

I don't like Bratz. Plain and simple, the concept behind them really irritates me. As if young girls don't have enough bad influences and media pressures, then they go and launch a range of dolls that appear to be semi-class hookers (and not in the Rugby League sense). Do pre-teenage girls really need dolls that are painted up more than Ronald McDonald and dressed like any cheap filberty-gibet that you find splashed across the plethora of trashy z-list loser (sorry, "celebrity") magazines. Are knee-high leather, high-heeled boots and crop tops the best thing to be force-feeding down imminently anorexic mouths? Having come to terms with that, I see they have released a Bratz Twister. That's bad, but nowhere near as bad as the Wet Twister, you press on a pad and it shoots water at your t-shirt. Back to the crime in hand. A few weeks later I noticed a new product, proudly labelled "Exclusive to Woolworths", a Bratz bucking bronco. Now you can aspire to writhe around whilst straddling a large leather beast as it trashes around between your legs. Can't we get some form of age rating for toys, or better yet, a tackiness rating?

5 May 2006

Let's Start Exploiting / Slating The Da Vinci Code

A few months ago, just as the court case of plagiarism started in the high court, I saw the idiots' version of The Da Vinci Code in Costco (complete with pictures!). Right next to it was "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", the very book that Brown was accused of stealing ideas from! As a compromise I will go to see the film, although I haven't been a fan of Tom Hank's work since he stopped doing films that exploit what I consider he is best at, notably Big and Dragnet. It's a very strange cycle of acting, starting at comedy, leading into mushy date films and then trying more serious drama, interspersed with great comic voice acting as Sheriff Woody. Anywho, if you want to watch a non-fiction and mind-stretching investigation into what happened to Jesus, you should try and catch BBC4's exceptional Did Jesus Die? It's just been screened last Monday but no doubt it will be back on closer to the cinema release date of The Da Vinci Code.

4 May 2006

Scottish Sunset beats Northern Lights

At the very end of March, Neil managed to capture a couple of great shots of the "sunset" out at Straiton. I really like them and would have taken more if I weren't driving at the time. Last night I also caught a couple of great shots from my flat. I've also found a great early winter sunset from last year that I missed. They can now all be enjoyed as part of my Scotland gallery, I've out grown the shooting boundaries of Edinburgh.

3 May 2006

Oi Carol! Nooooo! Stop Selling Secured Loans Now.

Martin Lewis, the UK's only Money Saving Expert, has finally launched his petition to try to get much loved mathmetician Carol Voderman to *stop* doing adverts for secured loans. It actually launches tomorrow but I very passionately agree with this cause, replacing credit cards with secured loans can result in people losing their homes or paying far more back due to the higher interest rates (than remortgages for example). I was disgusted the first time I saw her new set of adverts, plucking clouds out of the sky as if it were every day that someone put their house down to borrow £25,000 over another 25 years and end up paying back over £30,000 in pure interest. Shame on you Carol. If you want to stop, sign his petition and tell as many UK residents as you can find that have an email address to do the same. Out of interest I was signature number 256, which is very cool if you are into the powers of two.

Insider Betting: England to Win the World Cup!

As England's odds lengthen thanks to Wayne Rooney having no working toes (judging by his intelligence you'd have guessed he would have had extra toes), stick a fiver on England to win it. Playing 4-4-1-1 with King or Carrick as a holding midfielder and then in the free role supporting the loan striker you play the PFA Player of the Year, the captain of the current Champions of Europe, the man who has scored two more goals that Rooney this year and according to a Mr. A Regent of Dunfermline "the best passer/crosser England has". What more could you want, four players in one! Do I need to say it's Steven Gerrard? Playing him as a holding midfielder ruins our best player and as for Alan Hansen's idea today "play Cole upfront and Gerrard on the left" - WTF! I think the exertion of beating Everton in the '86 FA Cup Final replay has left his brain starved of oxygen. Go on, what are you waiting for? I'm the one who guaranteed Liverpool will lift the FA Cup next Saturday...

2 May 2006

So Much For Experts; Worst Final Ever!

Last week I texted Andy to find out his insider knowledge regarding the Snooker World Championships. He was down in Sheffield as part of the graphics team, his job is to turn the handles to make the scores rotate around. His assessment of the likely winners out of the four semi-finalists was as follows: "Ronnie is clearly the favourite but Ebdon has a great record against him as Ronnie doesn't like the slow tactical matches. That said I'm Marco Fu's lucky charm". You'll notice there was no mention of no-hoper Graeme Dott. Many people's opinion, including Andy's is that it was probably the worst final ever. Let me just give you a few quotes from the BBC's frame by frame coverage: 4 - "neither player is at his best", 6 - "It is slow going at The Crucible, and the players are dragged off two frames early", 7 - "The match is getting bogged down", 9 - "This frame is as scrappy as anything which has come before &lessth;snip&greaterth; Dott is not having to do anything special for a five-frame lead", 14 - "In keeping with the generally substandard level of the match, it comes from a mistake", 15 - "another error-ridden frame", 20 - "Like a couple of chimps in London Zoo, Ebdon and Dott continue to scratch about as the match approaches the mid-session interval", 22 - "Both play hit-and-hope escapes from snookers", 27 - "The combatants go into the trenches for this one - an absolute 'grueller'. &lessth;snip&greaterth; The frame, at 74 minutes, is the longest in Crucible history", 31 - "The match has now drifted passed 0020 BST, the previous latest finish for a Crucible final - between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis in 1985", 32 - "Dott finally stumbles over the line". At least last year Shaun Murphy played some decent snooker!