Archive for August, 2007
Thanks to those of you who suggested Minipops today. I’ve done some of them in this new batch.
They are: musicians Robert Wyatt, Hot Chip, and The Go! Team; F1 driver Lewis Hamilton; transcendental mate of The Beatles and Mike Love, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; ex-Ugandan president Idi Amin; Libyan dude Muammar al-Gaddafi; North Korean comedian Kim Jong-il; Salman Rushdie fan, Ayatollah Khomeini; Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel; and Democratic US presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his smokin’ wife, Elizabeth.
That’s 949 now. More suggestions welcome. Have a good weekend.
It’s been a long long time since I’ve added any Minipops, but I’ve been feeling the urge to do some more of late. Yesterday, I noticed that I’d done 928 of them, so I figured I’d make it my task to reach 1,000 before the end of the year.
Today’s new Minipops: popular recording artistes Amy Winehouse, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Gnarls Barkley, The Horrors, New Young Pony Club, Yoko Ono, and Ravi Shankar; home run dude Barry Bonds; and the late British entertainer Max Wall. (Those of you who aren’t from the British Isles might not have heard of Max Wall. He was funny. He did an especially funny walk.)
I’m really not very hip to what the youngsters are listening to these days, so I have to thank my mate Steve for doing me a list of new bands that might make good Minipops. Some of the new ones were his suggestions.
So, now I’m up to 938. Just 62 to go. I’m gonna need more suggestions, so feel free to leave any in the comments. Thank you.
Most calendars don’t have a 629th August. This is the story of how one land came to have one, slap bang in the middle of September.
There once was a king called Hector. He requested that all his subjects address him as King Hector. He had a big robe, a big crown, a big orb, a big sceptre, and a big throne. He held big parties in his big castle, he drank big glasses of champagne, ate big bacon sandwiches, and did big poos in his big bathroom. Life was pretty good for King Hector. Apart from one little thing: he hated Christmas.
A few years ago, Lord David of Coverdale had asked the king why he hated Christmas, and was swiftly taken off to Ghraib Abbey where he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to stand in a really big bucket and drink lemonade until he drowned in his own piss. Ever since then, nobody has dared to ask King Hector why he hated Christmas.
Quite soon after Lord David’s demise, the King’s hatred intensified. One sunny August morning, he was sat in a deck chair in the royal gardens sipping a cappuccino and watching his springer spaniel shag a poodle, when he had an idea. He rooted around in his regal pocket, pulled out his mobile phone, and sent a text message to his lawyer: CUM 2 RYL GDNS NOW!
The lawyer, Lord Ronald James of Dio, hurried to the royal garden.
“Aaah, good to see you, Lord Ronald,” said King Hector.
“I am your loyal lawyer,” said Lord Ronald, a bit out of breath.
“Listen here, old bean. I’ve been giving it some thought, and, well, Christmas… let’s abolish it.” said King Hector.
“Well, erm, yes, of course, Your Majesty,” said Lord Ronald.
“Good. I’m glad we’ve got that sorted,” said the king, sparking up a Gitane. “Oh, and you’ve got some toothpaste in your beard.”
So that the people didn’t revolt when they found out that King Hector had banned Christmas, the law actually stated that the day’s date could be decided upon by King Hector when he awoke every morning. He went to bed on 31st August, dreamt (as he was often did) of a busty wench covered in jam, then woke the next morning declaring it to be 32nd August.
The next morning, he decided it was 33rd August. And on and on and on: 45th August, 72nd August, 110th August…
All the children in the land kept quiet about the extended August as it meant wonderful extra-long school holidays; but they did wonder where Hallowe’en had gone to. And by 147th August, they realised that Christmas wasn’t going to happen at all.
The old ladies were happy, though: it meant they weren’t get older. Business men were happy, too: they could put off their tax returns. Utility companies, though, were oturaged that they could never send out their end-of-the-month bills.
All the while, the King stayed happy, knowing that for as long as he felt this way, Christmas would never arrive. He was even a bit clever on what would’ve been April Fool’s Day (but was actually the 213th August) by changing the date back to 92nd August.
O! what a malarkey it all was!
When the King sat down for a pleasant feast of roast giraffe and honey-glazed pauper’s liver on the 629th August, he coughed. Then he coughed again. And again. After ten minutes, his cough was so bad he stubbed out his cigarette. Another ten minutes later, he was dead.
The Queen cried, and wiped gravy off her late husband’s chops. When the people heard of their monach’s demise, they mostly giggled behind their hands (apart from the readers of the Daily Mail who all wept and demanded the blacks be sent home as punishment for something or other).
From that day, the calendar returned to normal. Tomorrow would be the 20th of September, and Christmas was just three short months away. But every year the people remembered the day their king died. They’d go to bed on 18th September and wake up the next morning; the morning of 629th August.
According to Wikipedia, there were four notable people born on the same day as me, 22 September 1970: rapper Mystikal, footballer Emmanuel Petit, baseball player Mike Matheny, and actor Rupert Penry-Jones.
Here are some of the things that they’ve done, that I wish I’d done:
Scored a goal in the World Cup final.
Had a 12-year Major League Baseball career.
Had a US number one album.
Dated Kylie Minogue.
Here’s some of the things I’ve done that come closest to what they have done:
Scored a goal for Manor Leas junior school team.
Played softball in Berlin’s mixed softball league.
Bought several US number one albums.
Dated a girl with the same initials as Kylie Minogue.
Still, it’s not all a list of poor substitutes (no offence, Kate); at least I’m not in Louisiana State Penitentiary for sexual battery and extortion like Mystikal is.
There’s a possibility that the August mix is quite frustrating to listen to. I was messing about, really. I usually have some sort of plan; with about twice as many songs as I’ll eventually need, and I try and whittle it down and fashion some sort of mix that flows reasonably well.
This time, I decided to begin with one song and then, while listening to that song, decide what the next song would be, and on and on. The mix has 31 songs on it; some of them just tiny snippets, and some full songs too.
If you download and open the mix in iTunes, you should be able to read the track listing by clicking File > Get Info. (I hope that works, anyway. It does on a Mac, but I’ve no idea about a Windows computer.)
august2007mix.mp3 (41.1MB, 35’46)
Hope you enjoy. As always, it’ll stay online for a week.
A lot of posts lately have featured photos taken in my local park. That park is called Mauerpark (Wall park). With a name like that, it won’t surprise you to know that it’s a park where the Berlin Wall used to be. It’s probably the place I know the best in Berlin, as it’s where I take Billy for a walk two or three times a day. Billy’s at the seaside this week with my ex-girlfriend’s parents; and apart from missing him, I kinda miss going to Mauerpark.
Map borrowed from BVG.de
As you can see on the map, Mauerpark butts up against another smaller park and big sporty complex with an indoor arena used for basketball and concerts, football stadium, tennis courts, other football pitches, and a running track. The whole area is pretty good. I’ve played softball at the sport complex, I’ve seen a women’s football match there (Germany v Netherlands), and I’ve been to a couple of concerts in the Max-Schmeling-Halle (Madonna and Shakira).
Aerial photo borrowed from Google Earth
The smaller park is called Falkplatz. Billy and I tend not to play there too much in the summer. Dogs aren’t supposed to go into that park off the leash, and there’s too many people having barbecues, anyway. I suppose Billy’s not supposed to be off the leash in Mauerpark, either; but it’s so rare that there are policemen enforcing the rule, that most owners let their dogs off anyway. People who don’t like dogs must be a tad annoyed with us dog owners using Mauerpark, as there’s a specific Hundewiese (dog meadow; a fenced-off place where dogs can run around together) right next door; but that place is kinda stressful, always having to watch that Billy doesn’t get into a fight with a dog that could rip his poor little spaniely throat out.
As I said, Mauerpark used to be the no-man’s land/death strip between the inner and outer walls that separated East and West Berlin. According to this site, after the Wall came down, locals started using the area as a park before it properly became one.
It still looks crappy, it probably hasn’t changed that much since 1989. When you close your eyes and think of the word “park” you wouldn’t think of this one. The grass is patchy, there’s graffiti everywhere, there seems to be a bare minimum of trees. It’s pretty ugly.
This is what it looked like before the Wall came down:
Photo from Leben mit der Mauer (Living with the Wall) by Matthias Hoffmann. Click photo to see large version
That book says that whenever Dynamo Berlin (the Stasi’s darling team that, coincidentally, won the most championships in the old East German league) played at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark (you can see the floodlights in the photo), only police and security folk were allowed in the stand that backed up right against the Wall, and movement around the rest of the stadium was monitored quite thoroughly.
I’m not 100% sure that it’s the exact same wall, but the one that backs up against the stadium is now some sort of graffiti zone. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this weblog, I’m no fan of graffiti, but I don’t mind this so much; it seems to be somewhere where those who want to spray big letters can do so without pissing too many people off.
There are things about the park that piss me off, of course. Every summer, I feel a tinge of sadness when the sun comes out, knowing that the park, instead of being empty save for some dogs and joggers, is gonna be full of children, frisbees, crusty punky types with their barky German Shepherds, discarded rubbish, broken bottles, and damn fucking bongo players. Urgh, the bongos… I’m surely not the only one who’s park-enjoyment is diminished by those fuckers.
But, really, that’s the joy of Mauerpark, too. It isn’t pretty, but it’s a real park that people use all the time; not some “Keep Off The Grass”-type park. I suppose one could say the same thing about Berlin as a city, too.
What is – for me anyway – interesting, is that this seems to be the newest park I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember seeing a park being built anywhere that I’ve lived in my lifetime. Every scrap of wasteland is given over to people wanting to make money, not given over to enhancing the enjoyment of the people who live in the neighbourhood. And were it not for the locals of the districts of Wedding and Prenzlauer Berg colonising this strip of land before it officially became a park, it would probably have become soulless office or apartment buildings, too.
And on that note, I think I might take a wander down there and lie on the grass with a coffee, some cigarettes, and a book. A perfect Friday afternoon. If, that is, you discount the possibility of having a Friday afternoon which includes having sex with Alicia Witt in the Yankee Stadium toilets after a victory over the Red Sox…
A fairly low-rent version of the Uffington White Horse in my local park.