29 abril 2008

To Be or Not to Be, Innit

Aesthetes and purists, look away now. Shakespeare's language has been "strangled in his tears". Or so some po-faced journalists would have you believe. A satirist, Martin Baum, has rewritten 15 abridged versions of the Bard's work, updated into modern vernacular. His book, entitled To Be or Not to Be, Innit is described as a "yoof-speak guide to Shakespeare", and contains well-known works such as 'Amlet, Two Geezas of Verona, Macbeff, and Much Ado About Sod All. Instead of Romeo and Juliet, we are regaled with the tale of Romeo and His Fit Bitch, Jools. There is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark - it is, instead, "minging".

Cue a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth from traditionalists, who see the decline in standards building an irresistible momentum with this latest setback, and who yearn for the days of an education based on cold baths, classics and the cane. As if the BBC's modernising of Shakespeare and Chaucer wasn't sacrilege enough, some jumped-up joker has come up with this utter bastardisation of Shakespearian language, from his home town of Verwood. In Dorset? I certainly do. (Apologies for a joke almost as old as Shakespeare himself.)

Baum's book does not mark the end of culture as we know it. It doesn't mark anything. It's a joke. The clue is in the job title "satirist". Baum is guilty of no crime at all. Apart, perhaps, from the crime of not really understanding yoof-speak. Take his analysis of the Montagues and Capulets: "And cos they was always brawling and stuff, de Prince of Verona told them to cool it, or else they was gonna get well mashed if they carried on larging it with each other."

Brawling? How frightfully headmasterly a term. And I've not heard the phrase "cool it" since flares stalked the earth. The first time around. And getting "well mashed" is considered a good thing, as is "larging it", to whit: the imbibition of a not inconsiderable amount of alcohol or narcotics. No, if Baum has committed a crime against language, it is a crime against the yoof speak popular with suburban middle class children. If Verwood come to Dunstable, Baum might have had a better understanding of the culture involved.

It's a fun idea, though, and one that needn't be limited to Shakespeare. Let's contemporise all literature. A Tale of Two Cities could begin: "Sometimes it was like winning the lottery with, like, just a scratchcard, but then sometimes it was more like missing the Hollyoaks Xmas special." Thackeray's end to Vanity Fair could go from: "Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out," to "Right, kids, log off from your virtual world, we're done, and your mum's probably got your tea on."

We could be even more economical with language. Why use so many long, flowery phrases, when a mot juste will do? "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" could become "You're loaded, but got no bird. You some sort of bender?" While, in this less innocent age, you could shorten the end of Harper Lee's classic: "He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning." It could just read: "Paedo."

And finally, Animal Farm: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again. But already it was impossible to say which was which." New version? "The farmer's lads had pulled a right bunch of mingers in the Red Lion that night."

Now it's over to you, bloggerati. How would you modernise the great lines of literature? A fortnight in Shakespeare's spiritual home, Stratford for the winner. Cotswolds be damned, we're talking Stratford East London. Get me, bro?

28 abril 2008

What is so funny about cats on the internet?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston usually plays host to the world's leading scientists, Nobel laureates and technological pioneers. But at the weekend it was overrun by more than 500 self-professed "internet geeks".

They were attending ROFLCon, a web symposium which attempted to answer conundrums such as why so many people like watching animated hamsters dance, and what is so funny about photographs of cats with misspelt captions.

Described as a conference of "internet microcelebrities", it offered an insight into those people who have found a sort of fame - and in some cases, a great fortune - by thinking up the most popular gags, jokes and fads on the internet.

These phenomena - known as internet memes - are spread from one person to another in a similar way to viral emails. Even web surfers who do not know what a meme is may have unwittingly acted memetically by passing on a video of a sneezing panda to their friends, for example.

(...) The Guardian

Roger Waters at Coachella

In America, Coachella is the festival to start all festivals. Not only does it kick off their season of outdoor music events, some claim such events didn't even exist in the US before organiser Paul Tollet presented Pearl Jam in a polo field back in 1993.

Yet despite being the desert king of festivals, Coachella was afflicted this year by flagging ticket sales, attributable to the fact that My Bloody Valentine did not play a much-anticipated headline slot on Saturday. Instead they got Prince, and what do you know, he blew Coachella's bloody socks off!

Even Idolator, the web's snarkiest music blog, is in agreement that the 49-year-old stole the show. This is thanks, in large part, to his cover of Radiohead's Creep. Who'd have thought that after all those years of refusing to play it out, Radiohead's embargo would be broken by Prince? Enjoy some shaky-shaky footage here.

Portishead's glacial trip-hop also proved a hit, with trendster's blog Brooklyn Vegan streaming the performance on their site and the equally hip Stereogum claiming their performance "kicked our asses".

It was left to ex-Pink Floyd man Roger Waters to bring the proceedings to a close, with what the Huffington Post called an "epic two-set performance" which included all of Dark Side of the Moon and the infamous inflatable pig, complete with graffiti saying "Don't be led to the slaughter" and "Obama" on it.

Elsewhere oh the schedule and the Black Lips played their drunkest set ever, according to the Fader and their excellent Coachella Wrap. This is a tall claim, but if true the amount of booze consumed by the notoriously party-hardy Atlanta four-piece in order for them to trump themselves must have been truly terrifying.

My favourite part of the weekend however, in a totally vicarious, wasn't-there-but-read-all-about-online kind of a way, was when the actor Sean Penn rocked up on Sunday to talk some "political shit" and encourage a boozed-up, sun-charred crowd to participate in his Dirty Hands Caravan protest that's heading to New Orleans.

The actual Caravan leaves Coachella later today (the Calis are eight hours behind BST) and is taking volunteers from the festival with it. If you were cynical, you might wonder whether a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans really needs a busload of unwashed party-heads, with their ears still ringing, rocking up to offer a no doubt very dirty hand indeed. A lesser cynic might nod solemnly at Penn's words, that "Revolution is a young man's job and you can be the revolution", and heartily look forward to the first pictures of said young men coming round in New Orleans with no idea where they are and seriously compromised levels of Serotonin.

The Guardian Music blog

16 abril 2008

A Lei da Rolha :)

Comece já hoje a juntar as suas rolhas de cortiça!

A partir de dia 22 de Abril (Dia da Terra) será iniciada a recolha nos restaurantes.

No Dia 5 de Junho (Dia Mundial do Ambiente) já poderá colocar as suas rolhas nos "Rolhinhas" dos Hipermercados Continente

Posteriormente iremos alargar a outros locais.

04 abril 2008

This is one of my dream furniture pieces

The Tallest Skyscraper, yet again

And I've only seen two upclose...
The smallest (!) one here and the current tallest phallic thingy...