Saturday, January 13, 2007


The Iraq of his mind: "Our brave troops should not have to wonder if their leaders in Washington will give them what they need," Bush said. "I urge members of Congress to fulfil their responsibilities - make their views known - and always support our men and women in harm's way." — BBC

The Iraq we're going to live with: [An arms dealer] told me that one of his main suppliers had been an interpreter working for the US army in Baghdad. "He had a deal with an American officer. We bought brand new AKs and ammunition from them." He claimed the American officer, whom he had never met but he believed was a captain serving at Baghdad airport, had even helped to divert a truckload of weapons as soon as it was driven over the border from Jordan.

These days [the arms dealer] gets most of his supplies from the new American-equipped Iraqi army. "We buy ammunition from officers in charge of warehouses, a small box of AK-47 bullets is $450 (£230). If the guy sells a thousand boxes he can become rich and leave the country." — Guardian

Thursday, January 11, 2007

David fries

"Webster flinched as the heatwave STORMED through the kitchen." — I have always thought this to be a brilliant photo of a friend in Edinburgh, David Webster, taken by another friend, Miles Lang, who should take lots more photos.

I thought of this image last night when sitting tight against the stage of the Metropolitan Room, to watch Lorinda Lisitza perform "One Step Closer to Crazy" with the singer and stage illuminated in a boiling red that made you feel you were at sea in the blood of an unhinged mind.

This may sound disconcerting, but in fact, Lisitza's samplings from the songs of new-ish song writers Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock, were "anthems of exultation" and "songs of depravity." Best of the bunch perhaps (though it is near impossible to choose) was 'Matilda McDort: a hairstyle on trial,' where mad old Matilda hair takes over the world and so she is taken to court; on trial, a match is struck, and her hair burns off; everyone celebrates the demise of her horrible hair-don't, but then the song takes an odd, if appropriate, twist: we start to feel sorry for Matilda, and it ends with a massively joyous anthem to her re-growing hair — silly yet so satisfying!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Deoch an doruis, Ted Kennedy

[This] war is the overarching issue of our time, and American lives, American values and America’s role in the world are all at stake,” Senator Edward Kennedy said today in a speech at the National Press Club, where he called his vote against the war in 2002 “the best vote I’ve cast in my 44 years in the United States Senate.”

Good for Ted Kennedy for stating the obvious, at last. Right now, Bush and America's credibility is about as awesome as this Abrams tank.

Monday, January 08, 2007

No more gravel for breakfast

There is a Jimmy Young song about a "grand wee Belfast man," who "liked a drink on a Saturday night," who "liked a game on a Saturday, to watch the Glens go down," presumably in defeat to Linfield, and who might have been somebody just like David Ervine (above), who died today in Belfast.*

In keeping with his full-strength unfiltered character, Ervine died of a heart attack, a stroke and a brain haemorrhage, and preumably would have fitted in other fatal illnesses if he had had the time. In Dungannistan we knew him as that man with the gravelly voice so gravelly that we joked about him eating gravel for breakfast. Look into those eyes - would you want to mess with Davy on a dark, cold Belfast street after eighty pints of Smithwicks?

Ervine, in his youth a violent loyalist, reached out across the religious divide as so many Unionists have not, proving that he had a heart and enough sense to understand that Protestants and Catholics had far more in common than the normal, shite politician might care to acknowledge. When the peace process started in the early to mid-1990s, Ervine founded a political party, the Progressive Unionists, and he made a much-heralded visit to the U.S., allowing many Irish Americans to discover that Prods were not monsters but humans, and quite avuncular humans with amusing mustaches.

I hope Ervine is somewhere where there are no more wintery showers, no rain-slick cobblestones, no "drafty streets end-on to hills, between the mountain and the gantries..."

[*Note: I have no idea about football whatsoever, and am now uncertain as to whether Davy Ervine would have supported Glentoran or Linfield, so if I totally mangled the reference in the first paragraph, I apologize, but the sentiment stands because the original Jimmy Young song had the "grand wee Belfast man" identify himself as "Thompson is my name," and he could therefore only have been a Prod (apologies to all Catholic Thompsons everywhere) — if anyone knows the song of which I speak, please let me know...]

You may now show off your Gaylick

Tourism Ireland has won the award for the most creative advertisement in the official 2007 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival guide.

The organisation won the inaugural B&T and New Mardi Gras Creative Award for an advertisement featuring an image of a rainbow flag with the words “Gaylic: Your very own Ireland”.

The Sydney Star Observer-sponsored award was worth $8,370 and included advertising space and tickets to the Mardi Gras festival.

The creative award encouraged advertisers to submit more lively and colourful Mardi Gras campaigns."

Times have changed since this tourist last dropped in on Ireland.