Saturday, 29 December 2007

Military recruitment drive

Join Ukraine army now and badly-dressed chicks will leave old pimp guy and run after you tank!

See video now and then you join! Sure!

Friday, 28 December 2007

Lost to posterity

So farewell, then, LiveDigital.

Following the well-deserved sinking of Blogsource, where the original Sour Grapes blog was for a year from April 2006 to April 2007, the whole kit and caboodle was imported into LiveDigital, where it has languished without update since.

In the mail today comes news that LiveDigital is also going down the toilet. Probably just as well. They were only ever a file-hosting site that tried to dip a toe in the blogging water, but they hadn't a hope. I think when Blogsource went down the pan most people wisely fled to the uplands of Blogger and WordPress.

So long and short, that year of Sour Grapes is doomed. David Rochester's Blogsource blog will also be gone, and who knows what else. Oh well, easy come, easy go. The hammer comes down on January 7. It's still open until then (link in sidebar). If you see anything you like, you're free to carry it off.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Overheard in someone's comments

Maarten Van Hemelen said,

December 22, 2007 at 7:07 pm

I never quite got why people are so obsessed with this. If you like to eat chocolate, it probably won’t kill you if you don’t overindulge. Isn’t the most important thing that you get variation into your menu?

tregenza said,

December 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Maarten said: “Isn’t the most important thing that you get variation into your menu?”

Definitely - so make sure you eat a good balance of milk, white and dark chocolate.

Bad Science » Epistemological Indulgences

Amazon? You may well ask

Here's a screenshot of the home-page of Ann Coulter's website, taken today:

(click to largify)

But wait, what's that strange ad from over in the sidebar? Let's switch tabs and have a look:

(click to largify)

It's the Nearly Me Gaff, priced at only $29.00. Fine, Grapesy, I hear you say, but what's a Nearly Me Gaff and what does it do? Here's a clearer picture:

(don't for the love of God click to largify)

Here's what has to say about it:

Product Description
For the guy that's just too big! Introducing the Nearly Me Gaff - the perfect solution for men who wish to be "tucked" in and out of sight! Nearly Me gaff provides firm control up front where you need it. Nearly Me gaff with low thong style back for a sleek invisible look.
What can it all mean? What is Amazon trying to insinuate? Here's a FAQ on the whole question of gaffs, which incidentally you probably don't want to take with you when you go fishing with your buddies.

Christmas album

Make your own excellent Christmas album with this selection of free MP3s from the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, who have featured here before. And here, on the old Sour Grapes blog now closed down and moved like the Queen Mary to LiveDigital. And I wondered why I kept it. Now we know.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Do they know it used to be Christmas

Yes, I know there have been quite a few vids lately, that's because I've been playing with Windows Live Writer.

This one is from 1984, and has become iconic. The most striking thing about it now, however, is the way it's become like an Oscars-show In Memoriam reel. These were considered the top music stars of the time, and how many of them can you even name?

Look who's featured: Paul Young, Boy George, Simon Le Bon, Tony Hadley, Paul Weller, that Kemp boy who wasn't in EastEnders, the late Paula Yates, the bloke from ABC whose name I never knew in the first place, someone from Heaven 17, the Bananaramas. All of them either really dead (Paula) or virtually. Marilyn was never anybody even then, but slipped in somehow. There are a couple of black faces, fuck knows who they are, I didn't realise we had black people in pop in Britain in the Eighties.

The only ones still at the top are Sting O Ye Luthe and Bonobo out of U2. George Michael is famous for other things these days, like appearing in the Extras Christmas Special, now available on MyTube. Phil Collins is probably still around, somewhere. Who cares?

Searing indictment

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu has accused the United States and Britain of pursuing policies like those of South Africa's apartheid-era government by detaining terrorism suspects without trial.

At an event to commemorate the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDR) today, the Nobel laureate said the detention of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a "huge blot on a democracy".

"Whoever imagined that you would hear from the United States and from Britain the same arguments for detention without trial that were used by the apartheid government," Archbishop Tutu said.

Terror detentions 'like apartheid-era' |

Christmas parties from Hell

They all sound perfectly ghastly, to be honest. 

By 7pm a small crowd has gathered in front of a small door under London Bridge station. Some are dressed formally, some less so; most of them stand in little knots of affiliation. At 7.15 we are ushered through the door and into a coat-check area, and then into a pretend lift that rattles for a few seconds and ejects us into a crowded Victorian street that runs impressively along a tunnel under the railroad tracks. There is a dark pub, an old curiosity shop and a lot of Dickens characters. I have unknowingly stepped into a world where one of my deepest phobias - a fear of interacting with actors dressed in period costume - is the main entertainment.

I am immediately approached by a young girl in a dirty bonnet with very crooked stage teeth. As she begins to engage me in cockney conversation, I can feel sweat running into my collar. I know she will not break character, even if I beg her to point out the nearest fire exits. She spots my notepad and tells me to write down her story. "Once upon a time there was a nice girl called Maude," she says, "who wanted a boyfriend but something got in her way. However, she had the biggest heart of all ..." As I write I think, Oh my God, she's coming on to me. What do I do? Eventually I give her the slip, only to be confronted by Miss Havisham, who tells me her whole sad tale. I can't think of anything to say, apart from: "Yes, I know."

Tim Dowling on how the City parties | Lifeandhealth | Life and Health

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Another list

Another list, this time an extract from the full index of photographs by Charles W Cushman, over 14,500 of which he donated to his university. Indices like this read like glimpses into some secret world. They always leave me longing for more.

Here's one of my favourites from among the pictures.

Advertising model, San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts lagoon

Gallows frames (Mining) [maps to headframes (mining)] (3)

Gambrel roofs (1)

Games (2)

Gangsters [maps to criminals] (3)

Gaols [maps to jails] (7)

Gaps [maps to passes (landforms)] (97)

Garage sales [maps to secondhand sales] (2)

Garages (14)

Garages, Commercial [maps to automobile service stations] (12)

Garbage [maps to refuse] (23)

Garden farming [maps to truck farming] (4)

Garden houses [maps to garden structures] (1)

Garden lattices [maps to trellises] (12)

Garden ornaments [maps to yard ornaments] (10)

Garden structures (1)

Garden walks [maps to trails & paths] (139)

Garden walls (19)

Gardening (1)

Gardens (1212)

Gardens, Zoological [maps to zoos] (124)

Gargoyles (4)

Garments [maps to clothing & dress] (748)

Gas [maps to gasoline] (3)

Gas masks (2)

Gas stations [maps to automobile service stations] (12)

Gasoline (3)

Gasoline pumps (1)

Gatehouses (2)

Gatekeepers' houses [maps to gatehouses] (2)

Gates (183)

Gateways [maps to gates] (183)

Gazebos (6)

Gazing into a crystal ball [maps to fortune telling] (2)

Geese (20)

Gems (5)

Gendarmes [maps to police] (19)

General stores (1)

Generals (2)

Gestures (1)

Geysers (6)

Ghettos [maps to ethnic neighborhoods] (22)

Ghost towns (3)

Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection >> Browse >> Subject

The Carlyle Letters Online

Crystal Palace

A list of suggested topics to browse through, as an introduction to the letters of Thomas Carlyle and his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle. It does seem to cover quite a bit of ground. And there's more besides.

The Carlyle Letters Online

Fairytale Of New York - Later 1996


This solo version by Christy Moore doesn't have the drama of the Pogues' version with Kirsty McColl, but it is at least true to the song's own narrative. The song within the song is sung, if you listen, by an old man in the drunk tank. It's not a duet.

I like the line, "Ye're an ould hoor on junk" rather than "ould slut" because it's more Irish to my ear. There was no fuss in 1996 about the "cheap lousy faggot" line. See here for story, and despair.

Could this be any more wrong?

YouTube - EastEnders Xmas Party 2004 - Fairytale Of New York

Gilbert O'Sullivan - Christmas song

Warning: The combination of words, music and images contained in this video presentation could cause diabetes. This is about as kitsch as it's possible to get. Check out the half-dressed midget Santa chick (WTF?) and the stairway to heaven, clearly a reference to the recent Led Zep reunion, man.

Gilbert, of course, knew exactly how to craft a lyric so it would rot your molars out in situ. But what does he mean about hoping "the peace you seek may then resume"? Does Christmas chez Gilbert involve the breakdown of peace? Well, he is Irish.

A Happy Christmas to all my readers, as Billy Whizz used to say. If you're not a Christmas type, take whatever Happy Holiday you prefer.

YouTube - Gilbert O'Sullivan - Christmas song

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Monkey couple birth hybrid

Helena Bonham Carter has given birth to a daughter.

Helena Bonham Carter gives birth to baby girl - Now Magazine

Posted to the blong wrog, but never mind. Enjoy!

Monday, 17 December 2007

YouTube - Simpsons: Homer Picture A Day

YouTube - Simpsons: Homer Picture A Day

Pizza Hut's "Double Roll" Is Blowing My Mind | yumsugar - Food, Drink, & Entertaining.

Wow. Really that's all you need to say about Pizza Hut's "Double Roll" pizza - hot dog stuffed crust pizza with corn, mini- hamburger patties and a whole lot more. I really don't have much else to say except for that a medium costs ¥2500 ($20.50) and a large will set you back ¥3550 ($29). Oh and like most amazing things, it's only available in Japan.

Pizza Hut's "Double Roll" Is Blowing My Mind | yumsugar - Food, Drink, & Entertaining.

This is a pizza whose crust is stuffed with hot-dogs, and whose toppings include hamburgers. All right, mini-hamburgers, but dozens of them. Who else but an American company could come up with such a thing? How long before it's sold there, and the population is decimated?

Your list of lists

You're probably going to find over this coming holiday season that there are not nearly enough Top 10 lists looking back at 2007, so I thought you'd be happy to find 50 of them featured in Time (link below).

One of the lists is magazine covers, the winner of which is this awesome pic, stolen of course from National Lampoon, but that's no bad thing.

50 Top 10 Lists of 2007 - TIME


This week I have been totally loving Buzzword, a Flash-based online word processor.

Yes, I know, it sounds quite mad. I'm not at all convinced it's of any use whatsoever. I'm not yet sold on the idea of online docs at all, though Google Docs is handy for me as I don't have Excel installed and some people can't make a simple list without turning it into a spreadsheet. I know there's a cognitive hiccup: I know that keeping all my email online with GMail is madder than putting up some Word .docs I'll never look at again.

But Buzzword is so sensuous. It's owned by Adobe, so it has beautiful fonts, but mainly there's a certain sort of unctuous feel about typing in Flash. Something very physical, which is probably (I know, I know) just a hair's-breadth away from the nasty sticky typing experience you sometimes get on slow websites. But that's where sensuality resides, isn't it, on that hair's breadth? Ice-cream is only a millimetre from cold milk on one side and stony ice on the other. Sexual arousal is virtually indistinguishable from cardiac distress.

All right dear, calm down, it's only a word-processor. I must build more real pleasure into my life. Man was never meant to get excited about this sort of thing.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Rock me in the bosom of Windows

I'm writing this post on Windows Live Writer, and I never thought I would say such a thing, but it rocks the casbah for blogging to more than one blog. Yes, that's right, Windows rawks!

I've been using ScribeFire, which is a Firefox add-on which basically does the same thing: it allows you to highlight text you come across on the web and blog it direct to your blog without opening up the site and doing all that Create New Post shizzle.

Where it really performs is if you happen to operate more than one blog at a time, especially if they involve different blog identities. You feed them all into ScribeFire at the set-up, and it remembers who you are, logs in and out for you, posts and so on.

But ScribeFire is a bit limited, has a nasty little itty-bitty composing screen and I can't remember how to get to the settings to fiddle with some of the details, like the way it takes too many line-breaks and then signs itself off.

Then along came Windows Live Writer, which does all of that and more. Unlike ScribeFire it downloads your blog style (for each blog) and presents you with a composing screen that's not only big enough to read, but also resembles the blog you're posting to. It allows the insertion of pix and tables (for those who like that sort of thing), and has all the usual formatting gizmi like blockquotes etc.

But where it really rawks is with its plug-ins, which won't ever I suppose be as multivarious as the Fox's, but which are pretty cool all the same. Here are three that attracted me, though I haven't used them all:

Insert Polaroid: you may have spotted that feature on this blog or over on May Contain Nuts, which has been on fire since I discovered this baby. All your pix are mounted to look like Polaroids, with tilt, captions and evahthang.

Here, look, don't I look like the King of Hearts:

Insert video: never mind copying and pasting the embed code, or wondering where it is for sites that are not the Tube of You. When you're on the page where the video is at, click on Insert Video and WLW will fish out the code for you and slip that baby right in there.

Insert Now Playing on iTunes plug-in: Yeah I know nobody gives a shit, but still.

music note While writing this, I was listening to "The Other Side of Summer" by Elvis Costello

You can find out all about it here, and download it if you want to try it.

Name that tune in one

Can't quite put your finger on that tune that's going through your head? Having trouble sorting your Radetsky March from your Rakoczy March? Maybe what you need is this: the Barnes & Audio Player.

Actually it's fun just to play with. You'll be amazed how many titles you never heard of are tunes you know intimately. Or at least well.

Peace be like totally unto you

Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world - Dudeism. An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh...lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you'd like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we'll help you get started. Right after a little nap. - The Church of the Latter-Day Dude

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Death in Venice

A man of a certain age who falls for a young thing ought to know it can only end in pain, although granted Cholera is going a bit over the score.

Von Eschenbach does not deserve out sympathy, though he does merit some pity.

The book is a cautionary tale for gentlemen on the whole.

It would be most unfortunate to make a fool of oneself at this stage.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

A tale of two cities

Some British tourists are complaining that they lost half a day's shopping because their coach driver took them to Lille in Belgium instead of Lille in France thanks to a bum choice on his SatNav.

The shoppers, from Gloucestershire, England, were forced to spend an extra four hours in the bus as the driver corrected his mistake and had only two hours left for shopping by the time they arrived at their destination in France, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Some of the passengers were demanding the return of their $300-per person payments for the bus trip.
I'm wondering what else went wrong. Here's a map of the two Lilles. As you can see, they're about 87 miles or 140 km apart. How does that translate into a four-hour detour? Zoom in a little and you'll see that Lille, Belgium is close to the E313, which then joins the E19 direction Brussels. Run round the Western Ring and then hop onto the E429 and you have motorway almost all the way. Even at a speed of 90 km/h you could be in Lille, France in 90minutes. Driving directions from Google put the distance at 160 km, and driving time at 1h36. Still, a long way from four hours.

So what else happened on that ill-starred trip? I think we should be told, but I don't suppose we'll ever know.

I don't want to alarm anyone

Today my Google Reader started reading itself. As I watched, it ran through all of my subscriptions, removing two or three (or perhaps more) from the unread list, as if it were purging old articles. I've no idea how many were rubbed out. I was too taken aback to count.

So now Google Reader fetches the news for you, and reads it too, then deletes it. Pretty soon the information and Google will have a closed relationship, just the two of them, and the rest of us can go hang. Google will know stuff on our behalf. Maybe they can tie up with CyberTwins and you can send an avatar off to debate the existence of God with someone else's avatar, both of you supported in your arguments by the Web resources Google now knows you would find most useful.

And we can sit around all day like Elohim. Completely useless at last.

Well, goodnight. Sweet dreams.

Good interview with Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi

You wrote a column in the New York Press a few years back referring to journalism as “shoveling coal for Satan.” I believe you also said that journalism as a career was worse than being a worker in a tampon factory. Should any sane young person consider a career in journalism?

If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option. The great thing about it is that you don’t need to know anything. I mean this whole notion of journalism school—I can’t believe people actually go to journalism school. You can learn the entire thing in like three days. My advice is instead of going to journalism school, go to school for something concrete like medicine or some kind of science or something and then use the knowledge you get in that field as a wedge to get yourself into journalism.

What journalism really needs is more people who are reporting who actually know something. Instead of having a bunch of liberal arts grads who’ve read Siddhartha 50 times writing about health care, it would be really nice if some of the people who are writing about health care were doctors. | The Vigilante Journalist

ETA: Here's a clip from the column mentioned at the top of the post, also worth reading:
I've been around journalists my entire life, since I was a little kid, and I haven't met more than five in three-plus decades who wouldn't literally shit from shame before daring to say that their job had anything to do with truth or informing the public. Everyone in the commercial media, and that includes Hitchens, knows what his real job is: feeding the monkey. We are professional space-fillers, frivolously tossing content-pebbles in an ever-widening canyon of demand, cranking out one silly pack-mule after another for toothpaste and sneaker ads to ride on straight into the brains of the stupefied public.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

The ineffable Joe Queenan

When I was living in Paris in 1973, I used to visit a cafe on the Boulevard Montparnasse every second Monday and get plastered while doing my laundry next door. There were only four good songs on the jukebox: two by Michel Polnareff, two by Slade. The very fact that Slade had major hits in France without any corresponding success in America demonstrates that there is still hope for the French. Well, there was. Every second Monday, I would visit the café and order a half-dozen beers and listen to Mama Weer All Crazee Now and Cum on Feel the Noize over and over again until the bartender begged me to stop. One day I turned up and the jukebox had been disconnected.

Such was the power of Slade.

It's a crime Slade never slayed America | Music | Guardian Unlimited Music

Friday, 7 December 2007

French phrases

General chit-chat

"Would you stop spitting on me while you're talking!"

"Voulez-vous cesser de me cracher dessus pendant que vous parlez!"
(voo - lay voo se - say de me cra - shay de - su pen - dan que voo parl - ay)

"Reality and you don't get on, do they?"

"Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n'est-ce pas?"
(le ree - al - ee - tay eh twa voo ne voo zen - ten - day pah nes pah)

"You've got a face that would blow off manhole covers"

"T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts!"
(ta zoon tait a fair saw - teh leh plahk de - goo)

"Are you drunk?"

"Est-ce que vous êtes ivre?"
(es - ke voo zet eevr)

"You have a chive on your tooth."

"Vous avez de la ciboulette sur votre dent"
(voo za - vay de la see - boo - let ser votr den)

"You're a complete moron"

"Tu es completement debile"
(tu eh com - plet - e - men de - beel)

"You get on my nerves

"Tu me peles le jonc"
(tu me pel - e le zhonc)

"As a child, was your cradle rocked too close to the wall?"

"On t'a bercé trop près du mur?"
(on ta ber - say troa pray du mer)

"Idiot", "Fool", "Cretin", "Imbecile"

"Idiot", "Fou", "Cretin", "Imbecile"
(ee - dee - o, foo, cre - tin, Im - be - seel)

French phrases (via Towse)

Worldly wisdom

Things a Man Needs to Know:

When the headline reads, "Man charged with putting nude photos of teens on Internet" there is virtually no chance of the story containing any such photos, no matter how hard you click. So you might as well just not bother.

Who the hell needs screenwriters?

Woody Allen does nothing. I guarantee you'll laugh.

ETA: I should perhaps point out that this is one of a series of clips in support of the WGA strike, which you can search for on Tyoube as "speechless" or just click on the related items you'll get when you watch this one.

So my headline was ironificational. No offence, writer dudes.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

The case against k.d.

In shocking news tonight, we can reveal that k.d. lang, in her version of the Joni Mitchell song A Case of You on the album Hymns of the 49th Parallel, sings "I rememember the time you told me" instead of "I remember the time" etc. [Emphasis added]

Grapes 2.0 is sure of its case, which is based on detailed analysis of the piece of music in question. At first it was no more than a vague notion, but after running the recording through my WavePad software, stripping out as much of the background noise as possible and slowing the extract down slightly, we produced this damning evidence.

We now dare to stand up and bring this serious allegation to the public. The time for cover-ups, Ms Lang, is long over. It's time your fans were given the explanation they deserve, and we here at Grapes 2.0 call upon you to use these columns pages to do just that -- before it is too late.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Wire avant la lettre

Three short prequel videos from The Wire on Amazon. They're selling the fourth season, which I haven't seen yet. Time to wake up the public library people to buy that motherfucker.

Paper cuts

This is stuff you look at and think, how is this even possible? Not just, How do they do it, but What is the trick, why can I not see the trick they're playing?

At the same time, the very idea of manipulating material at that almost subliminal level -- look and see how tiny strips of paper have to be turned to 3D shapes -- fills me with the sort of quantum dread I wrote about, inadequately, in this post. In some way, the idea of descending to that level of detail provokes in me the sensation of tumbling into the abyss. I think it's why I was never a very accomplished drug-taker. I don't think my consciousness takes kindly to being heightened.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Strike turns to tragedy

The Aphorist is in

Hey check out this new blog I discovered it's really great you should go there and read it and stuff. I know this guy who thought he could do that too and he asked them and they let him just like that that's right you could too. Just drop me them a banknote message at this address and I'll they'll give it some considerification and stuff.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Wilders than wild

European Journalism Centre - Media News
A rightwing Dutch MP said Wednesday that he was making a film to highlight what he calls ‘fascist’ passages in the Qur'an, in his latest high-profile criticism of Islam. The interior and justice ministers expressed concern but said they had no authority to stop Geert Wilders screening his film.
The ludicrous Wilders has had a Theo Van Gogh complex ever since the film-maker provocateur was murdered in the street in Amsterdam in November 2004. I firmly believe he thinks Van Gogh stole his anti-Islamic thunder with his film Submission (with Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and then made matters worse by getting himself all that media attention with his murder.

Maybe someone thinks I'm being harsh. If so, just take a look at Wilders' photo and then tell me he's not a nutter.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Let's hear it for the fat lady

Show's over, folks. The Messiah has left the building.

Sold-out concert, comfortable profit, excellent reception incl. SO and encore -- Hallelujah Chorus -- that saw them stay on their feet. Yours truly came away with major kudos for bringing so many peeps in. My fellow singers did a great job, and I can now officially relax until January 3, when the new season begins for real.

And I sang the whole thing without a score, from memory. I don't (much) like to boast, but I was totally rawkin tonight.

Here's what's up next: