Archive for the ‘Currants and Raisins (The bleeding edge of the news)’ Category

Album Review : “Trouble in Paradise” by La Roux

Mario Gotze

I just woke up the other day and was surrounded by silence… Oh yeah, the World Cup had finished… The last vivid image was Gotze’s goal against Argentina in the final, of course, but there is so much more to remember.

At about the same time, La Roux’s latest album “Trouble in Paradise” came to my attention. In the best tradition of tidy electronic pop, what I like to call lippy-clippy-synth music, Elly Jackson has spawned nine impeccable songs featuring lyrics that could have been written by Robert Walser or W. G. Sebald, painted in lowfalutin synthesizer chords with undertones of Siouxsie or Gary Numan.

La Roux

And I was drawn to the adroitness of the titles of the tracks, each one cleverly mirroring an aspect of the recently-dead World Cup…

Track One is called Uptight Downtown. This could refer to the tension on the streets of Rio following the Brazilian team’s elimination. Alternatively, it may be a reference to Robin Van Persie’s general demeanour. Or maybe that’s just me.

Track Two, Kiss and Not Tell, obviously refers to Luis Suárez’s kissing Giorgio Chielini’s shoulder. Giorgio now has to go home and explain the hickey to his lady wife!

Track Three is Cruel Sexuality. This is either about Pitbull’s outfit in the opening ceremony, or the way the referees sprayed that foamy line at free kicks.

Track Four is entitled Paradise Is You. What the German team must be feeling right now. Or something that has been distracting Gerard Piqué for far too long.

Track Five is Sexotheque. Steamy Carioca beach scenes come to mind, and steamy shower rooms after sweating for 90 minutes, and, well, there’s so much, isn’t there, so I’ll stop now.

Track Six, Tropical Chancer, is a clear reference to Colombian forward James Rodríguez, who would have been playing second fiddle to Radomir Falcao under normal circumstances but, hey, the lad seized his opportunity and is now lined up to sign for Real Madrid.

Track Seven is called Silent Partner and is dedicated to Brazilian striker (?) Fred for obvious reasons.

Track Eight is called Let Me Down Gently. This song refers to the Spanish fans’ disappointment at being booted out almost as soon as the tournament started, or maybe it’s what Neymar Junior was muttering after making contact with Juan Zúñiga.

Track Nine, The Feeling, just about summarises the whole thing. It comes round every four years and occupies our brain like a migraine. A nice migraine, mind you, on the whole.

I understand that La Roux is now just Elly Jackson. It used to be a band but now it’s just one person. Not a good way to go, I might add. Team spirit and all that, not just depending on one genius to suddenly break away from half a dozen defenders and lob it over the oncoming keeper. Just saying.


What comes after the perfect ten?

Olga Barksdale

Olga Barksdale

Avon Randolph Barksdale is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire portrayed by actor Wood Harris. Avon is the dominant drug dealer of Baltimore’s West Side, running the Barksdale Organization. He runs the West Baltimore drug trade with total autonomy. Avon was counseled in his drug business by attorney Maurice Levy and assisted by his sister Brianna Barksdale and childhood friend Stringer Bell, who was responsible for the economics of the drug business as Avon’s second-in-command. Below Bell was a large organization of drug dealers and enforcers, including Avon’s nephew D’Angelo Barksdale, son of Brianna Barksdale. Accepting nothing less than absolute power, Avon is interested only in controlling the drug trade in West Baltimore, believing that the control of territory is key to such objective. (Wikipedia)

Nadia Stanfield

Nadia Stanfield

Marlo “Black” Stanfield is a fictional character on the HBO television drama The Wire, played by actor Jamie Hector. Stanfield is a young, ambitious, and extremely ruthless player and, along with Chris Partlow and Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, is head of the eponymous Stanfield Organization in the Baltimore drug trade. Marlo’s organization starts out small-time, operating in the vacuum left by the Barksdale Organization, and rises to the top of the Baltimore drug trade fairly quickly. A repeated theme in Marlo’s characterization is his demand for unconditional respect, which trumps all other concerns. He frequently orders the deaths of those who disrespect him or undermine his name on the streets, however unwittingly. He is arguably the most violent and ruthless of the drug kingpins portrayed in The Wire. (Wikipedia)

Nelli Little

Nelli Little

Omar Devone Little is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, portrayed by Michael K. Williams. Omar is a notorious Baltimore stick-up man, frequently robbing street-level drug dealers. Omar has several unique characteristics that are likely responsible for his viewer popularity, including: his strict personal morality, whereby he both refrains from harming innocents and from using profanity (which also ensures his independence from most other street-level players); his characteristic face scar and use of a shotgun; his homosexuality and privately tender nature, held in obvious (and subversive) contrast from typical notions of masculinity attached to violent criminals; and his use of haunting whistling as presage to his robberies. Central throughout Omar’s trajectory is his steady descent into intractable conflict with both the Barksdale and Stanfield organisations, in both cases initiated by his robberies. Omar is also noted for his close relationships with his partners, and with his guardian and ad hoc banker Butchie. (Wikipedia)

Avon Korbut

Avon Korbut

Olga Valentinovna Korbut [nb 1] (b. May 16, 1955 in Grodno), also known as the “Sparrow from Minsk”, is a former Belarusian gymnast who won four gold medals and two silver medals at the Summer Olympic Games, in which she competed in 1972 and 1976 for the Soviet team. (Wikipedia)

Marlo Comaneci

Marlo Comaneci


Nadia Elena Comăneci (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈnadi.a koməˈnet͡ʃʲ]; born November 12, 1961) is a Romanian gymnast, winner of three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event. She also won two gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. She is one of the best-known gymnasts in the world.[1][2][3] In 2000 Comăneci was named as one of the athletes of the century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.[4] (Wikipedia)



Omar Kim

Omar Kim

Nelli Vladimirovna Kim (Russian: Нелли Владимировна Ким; born 29 July 1957) is a retired Soviet gymnast who won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, and two gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics. She was the first woman in Olympic history to earn a perfect 10 score on the vault and the first to earn it on the floor exercise, rivaling Nadia Comăneci, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and other strong competitors of the 1970s. Nelli Kim worked for a long time as a coach, training several national teams, and judged many major international competitions. As President of the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee, she coordinates the introduction of new rules in women’s gymnastics, as provided by the new Code of Points, developed by the FIG in 2004–2005 and in effect since 2006. (Wikipedia)


What comes after the perfect ten? On the heels of Nadia, Nelli and Olga, we saw the more muscular girls from the USA such as Mary Lou Retton and the wiry girls from China like Lu Li take over the top spots in women’s gymnastics, ditching grace for machine-like accuracy, and opting for body strength rather than natural agility. As good as? On paper, maybe.

After The Wire, what is the next level of TV drama? Where does villainy go? Who can stand up to Avon, Marlo and Omar? Who else can keep the devil down in the hole?


Floor Exercise

Floor Exercise


Bearing Down on Putin

pooh 1

The mess in Ukraine with the imminent conflict between Russia and the Rest Of The World shows just how little we have learned of diplomacy. We might have thought this kind of situation was easy to defuse before it reached such explosive levels, but we’ve got it all wrong. And the main reason we’ve got it all wrong is that we’ve been misunderstanding Vladimir Putin.

Understandably, perhaps, we tend to see Russia today as the continuation of the Soviet Union, especially in its role as the nemesis of “The Free World”, aka The United States of America. Our Cold War mentality makes us view Putin as the next Kruschev or Brezhnev and that doesn’t help at all. The guy dead set on invading Ukraine, bombing Kiev and grabbing the Crimea doesn’t live at the Kremlin, he lives under the name of Sanders.

 Because Vladimir Putin is the reincarnation of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Nobody's going to hurt you

Nobody’s going to hurt you


As he is a President of Very Little Brain, he thinks that Crimea is actually a part of the Hundred Acre Wood, you see. He’s arrogant and lazy and thinks he can just look cute to get what he wants, even it means posing topless on horseback. The pots of honey and oil reserves are worth it.

Poohtin has few friends. A stunted pig and a bipolar donkey don’t make for very stimulating conversation. So he has grown to be despotic and demanding, and even the steadying influence of Christopher Robin-Ki-Moon isn’t enough to restrain his megalomania.

So what can the west do to put our cuddly homophobic pal back on the straight and narrow? In the case of the original A A Milne version, I’d say Poohtin would eventually just get tired and bored and end up wandering off home. But the Disney version of Pooh is so annoying, I wouldn’t object to the United Nations moving in and giving him a firm slap on the paw.

pooh 2

Cable of Greetings

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has sent a cable of greetings to President Dr Mohammed Moncef Marzouki of the Tunisian Republic on the occasion of the Republic Day.

In his cable, His Majesty the Sultan expressed his sincere greetings along with his best wishes of good health, happiness and a long life to President Marzouki, praying to Allah the Almighty for the return of this and similar occasions on him to achieve the aspirations of brotherly Tunisian people

Contrary to confusing rumours, there is no evidence that he attached the following paragraphs, but he could have.

Close to the Edge - Yes (back cover)

Close to the Edge – Yes (back cover)

A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace / And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace / Achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar / Then taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour / And assessing points to nowhere leading every single one  / A dewdrop can exalt us like the music of the sun / And take away the plain in which we move /And choose the course you’re running…

Chirimoya, also known as custard apple

Chirimoya, also known as custard apple

Large fruit which are uniformly green, without cracks or mostly browned skin, are best. Unripe chirimoyas will ripen at room temperature, when they will yield to gentle pressure. Ripe fruits keep better in the refrigerator. Different varieties have different flavors, textures, and shapes. Shapes can range from imprint areoles, flat areoles, slight bump or point areoles, full areoles, and combinations of these shapes. The flavor of the flesh ranges from mellow sweet to tangy or acidic sweet, with variable suggestions of pineapple, banana, pear, papaya, strawberry or other berry, and apple, depending on the variety.

The Talmud

The Talmud

Once I was travelling on a road and seeing a beaten path leading across a meadow I took that path. Said a little girl to me: “Rabbi! is this not a meadow that thou art crossing?” and I answered: “Is this not a beaten path?” and she answered: “Yea; such robbers as thou art have made it a beaten path.” As for the affair with the little boy it happened thus: Once while on the road I noticed a child sitting at a cross-road. I asked him, which road led to the city, and he answered: “This road is the shorter but at the same time the longer, and this one is long but nevertheless short.” I took the shorter road that was at the same time the longer. When I came to the city I saw the entrance to the city at that point was surrounded by gardens and vineyards, so that I had to retrace my steps. Said I to the child at the cross-road: “Didst thou not say that this was the short route?” and he answered: “Did I not also tell thee that it was a long route?” I then kissed him on the forehead and remarked: “Well is thee, Israel, that all thy children are wise, both great and small.”


Surely every sagacious and perspicacious man is perfectly capable of appreciating the music of Yes: Close to the Edge AND the taste of the chirimoya AND the wisdom of the Talmud.

Degrading the Capabilities of the Rejectionists

Suggested usage: As a dietary supplement, take one capsule daily as needed.


Never try to open the case or remove the back cover.


Not suitable for home freezing.


Chiliastic: Relating to or believing in the millennium of peace and happiness.


Keep out of the reach of children.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher.


Planchar a temperature baja. Cold iron. Repasser a baisse temperature. Engomar a temperature baixa.


The Palestine Papers reveal ‘a security drive’ with the objective of “degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists: Hamas, PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad], and the Al Aqsa Brigades – through the disruption of their leaderships’ communications and command and control capabilities; the detention of key middle-ranking officers; and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources held within the Occupied Territories. US and – informally – UK monitors would report both to Israel and to the Quartet.


Contains sulphites.


Used by permission. All rights reserved.

CONSTANCE is my lady’s name

So… you’re telling me those goals against… but what about the time I…. and hang on I have this Ballon d’Or to prove that I… you mean to say that none of that…

It all swirled around and took him nowhere. Leo sweated as he lay on the couch, staring up at the fan swirling round on the ceiling, still imagining he was signing a thousand autographs a day, his arm twitching, his hands twitching and his eyes gazing upwards beyond the ceiling where the fan was swirling, to a heaven where God was acknowledging his raised arms, his elbows bending towards the firmament of gratitude and something we mortals can barely comprehend.

The millions of headlines of achievements of magic of admiration of greatness of what am I doing here this can’t be…

Now I see I have this guitar in my hands and you want me to but you know I am not…

Untie me, let me go, back to what I am, the real me, not the false memory you want me to have, I am not Robert Fripp, I am not Robert Fripp.

His arm twitching, his fingers twitching, his eyes gazing onto the frets, his figure crouched onstage alongside Bill Bruford and the roar surged from his Gibson Les Paul echoed from the Camp Nou to Andromeda and then on to the white walls of this miserable clinic and his free kick crashed into the white wall… 

“What? Do you expect my genius to be flawless?” 



On Mistakes and Beauty

I think I must be one of the few people who think that the reason Venus Raj wasn’t crowned Miss Universe in this year’s pageant is that she is less beautiful than the other contenders.

What am I talking about? ZaragozaTwins Beauty Contests? Huh?

Apparently, Venus, representing the Philippines, was tipped to win this competition but was pipped at the post by Jimena Navarrete, otherwise known as Miss Mexico. In normal circumstances, in the newspaper the day after a Miss Universe was chosen, I would have merely glanced at the photo of the winner and then moved on. But I read that the Miss Philippines had told the jury that “she had made no mistakes in her life” and this hadn’t gone down well with anybody, thus losing out on being crowned Miss Universe.

People don’t like people who don’t make mistakes? Is that it?

Now, as I see it, if we make a mistake, we don’t usually admit it straight after; that would be uncool, wouldn’t it. But we always end up recognising we screwed up somewhere, at some time, a long, long time ago. To say “I have never made a mistake” is such an outrageous claim, it can only be true.

So I, for one, have to believe Venus, and if she has made no mistakes in her life, she’s right to say so and shouldn’t have to apologise for it or, worse, invent some past misdeed just to please the punters.

I started digging around to find out exactly what she had said, and it turn out that the way the news was presented doesn’t actually match the reality of the situation. She was asked to talk about “one big mistake” she had made in her life, and how she has tried to set it right. Her answer was that there was nothing “major” in her life that she regretted, for which she thanked her family.

What’s wrong with that? She doesn’t come across as the boastful, stupid, demagogic witch that the popular press would have us believe, and I’m sure the jury can’t have seen her in this light, based on the harmlessness of her answer.

Nope, the reason Venus Raj went home uncrowned was that didn’t look as good as Jimena Navarrete, Miss Mexico. Simple as that. Occam’s razor, innit.

Even when a conspiracy theory is wearing a swimsuit, it’s still a conspiracy theory.


I was going to end this post here, but then I got to thinking about mistakes, regrets, etc…

If it’s true that we learn from our mistakes, it’s just as well we make a few, or we’d never learn anything. By saying, “I wish I hadn’t gone and done that”, we’re saying, “I wish I hadn’t learned that”. What Venus Raj, in her simultaneously frank and paradoxical wisdom, is saying is, “I’m glad to have learned things”. She has made mistakes, but nothing she wants to undo.

Maybe that’s why she didn’t become Miss Universe. She’s unrepentant about her learning.

I bet when she got back to Manila, her mother yelled at her for giving such a daring answer – both straightforward and profound – but she should be proud, or at least satisfied, that she replied to a dumb question with aplomb and a philosophical sincerity that no other contestant could match.

There’s a lesson for us all.


And I was going to end this post here, but then I started thinking about José Mourinho.

That’s when I REALLY ended this post.