Friday, 23 January 2009

Brutal omnibus epiphany

On the bus, just now:

Small girl and her mother, two seats in front of me.

Small girl becomes mesmerised by the Pret baguette I have just unfurled (with a flourish).


Small girl – glazed-eyed with envious awe – waves her arms dumbly in my direction. As well she might.

Mother turns.

"Yes. That man has a sandwich."

Words that chilled me to the very bone. Who the hell is she talking about?

That man?

Oh. That's me. Bugger.

This is the way my youth ends
This is the way my youth ends
This is the way my youth ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Pathetic, sh1t-munching politicians #1

Geoff Hoon, you are an imbecile. You are a wart-brained fool. Yes, sure, you are also an arrogant, smug, repulsive human being – but, above all – you are a fool.

Here's the aforementioned Hoon (UK transport secretary) responding to actress Emma Thompson's criticism of the proposed Heathrow expansion:
"BAA do not wake up in the morning and think 'we need a bigger airport' and airlines do not say 'we need to put on more flights' unless there is a demand for it. So the point is about not just Emma Thompson, but lots of people. If someone living in LA says he did not think it was a good idea to expand Heathrow, well the last time I looked the only way to get from LA to Britain is Heathrow."
Idiotic and specious. Anyone with even the remotest understanding of economics (not to mention political leadership) realises that's not the way it works. If you are a leader and, under your policies, people have an economic incentive to act in a certain way, you look like a turd-brained dolt when you start alleging hypocrisy.

Because it makes it very clear that you are a shirker whose idea of a political let-out clause is the balance of supply and demand that your own sodding government's policies have propagated.

By criticising Thompson, Hoon looks weak and patronising. He also looks (not unusually) like an unpleasant, slimy bastard.

... But it is his broader point about demand that makes him look like a blinkered cretin.

Do you suppose that, in pre-abolition America, there wasn't a demand for slaves, Mr Hoon? Do you suppose that people didn't advance arguments against abolition on the grounds that, 'the last time they looked' (sarcastic wanker), slave labour was the only way to run a plantation?

Or let's imagine a scenario, shall we? Set up two roads leading to the same destination. On the road that is already quicker to travel, set up a series of petrol stations offering subsidised fuel, add a couple of extra lanes to increase its capacity for traffic, kowtow to the people who built and maintain it, make sure it is clearly and massively signposted, highlighted in green on every map. Do absolutely nothing, meanwhile, to improve the other road or create meaningful incentives to use it – except for occasionally telling people that, hey, they really ought to use that second road sometimes.

Then sit back and use the amount of traffic you observe on each road to draw conclusions about demand – and from that to justify further investment in the first road? As if that demand were somehow totally unrelated to the conditions you'd created?

You are a politician, Hoon. Perhaps the Intellectual Hooligan is old-fashioned in extrapolating from this that you are meant to be a leader. And, to be honest, this isn't just about Hoon; it's about Brown, and all his backpedalling, cowardly ilk as they squat with trembling legs and loosen their bladders in the face of the almighty rolled-up newspaper of what they argue to be 'public demand'.

A young child will demand anything it thinks it can get. A good parent knows this – and knows that it is only by setting an example, establishing firm boundaries and explaining these patiently that he/she will not only bring up a happy child, but will also earn that child's respect.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The delight of masturbation

'... the first tourists appeared in Slovenia back in 1213 and left a message documenting their visit in one of the caves in the Postojna complex. The discovery that we ourselves are unquestionably the descendants of these tourists is telling; we view ourselves from the position of foreign visitors. This is a strategy associated with the delight of masturbation.'

The Intellectual Hooligan finds himself lost for words in advancing a counterargument to this and many of the assertions contained within the explicatory (to use the term loosely) pamphlet accompanying the above depicted work of art.

What is it? Entropa by David Cerny – a piece commissioned by the Czech government on the occasion of its ascension to the rotating EU presidency.

A quick interweb scan reveals a lack of decent photographs depicting the work (the above, pilfered from The Guardian website, is the largest, but plastered with ugly numerals [Blogger has decided to bisect it arbitrarily, rather than shrink to fit the column; but you can see the whole image by clicking on it wid yo' mouse. Or tapping on your iPhone, natch]). Anyhow, you ought to content yourself with the pamphlet, which is quite entertaining enough in its own right.

It's often pretty special when artists write about their own work; all the more so when passed through the bowels of the translation process. See/read more, not only about the delight of masturbation, but also 'faecally pubertal' punk gestures, communal military urination and the 'inner ethnic exoticism and the marketing of a distant, idealized Ireland'. Bagpipes?

Confused? Read the pamphlet. You'll remain confused, but your confusion will metamorphose.

I'm pretty sure it's all supposed to be hilarious. Damn fine stuff.

Monday, 12 January 2009

2009 Trend Report (1)

Finger pressed firmly against the throbbing (doubtless cholesterol-clogged) artery of Collective Humanity, the Intellectual Hooligan brings you the first of a new series (and, boy, I'm good at this series lark. Perseverance is the key, dear reader). The theme: trend reports.

What's hot? What's not?

Questions of this nature, I have virtually no doubt, relentlessly batter themselves against your mind, like, um, moths upon the roof of a big, bright Center Parcs dome, or something.

Fear not, metaphorical-moth-tormented ones! Let the Hooligan be your Mentor Of Hip.

(Not in an anatomical way. You perverted, desperate individual.)

On The Way Up In 2009

  1. Telling stories - Stories are good.
  2. Nouveau Grunge - Loose, baggy look; loose, baggy, angry music.
  3. Home Movies That Are Actually Like Movies, As Opposed To Slideshows At The Local Over-50s Camera Club - Not crappy, sentimental camcorderfests, but DIY movies. In the same way as bands do DIY mp3s.
  4. Couples Nights - Quality entertainment, predator-free. Good value. Efficient.
  5. Detox - Boring, but omnipresent.
  6. Anton du Beke - Apparently. Don't sodding well ask me why.

On The Way Down In 2009

  1. Artfully Disheveled Look - It will cease to be cool for teenage/early-20s girls to dress as though they've just been doing dressage.
  2. Gordon Brown - He may currently be treading water boldly, spluttering in great gasps of oxygen; but soon we'll just be seeing the bubbles.
  3. Microsoft - Reason 1: 'I'm a PC?' Okay. Good. Remind me: what does PC stand for?  Reason 2: See video below. This is so chronic that I cannot begin to mitigate its hideousness with mere words.

The guy who's supposed to be in a band (if you made it that far, you obviously have time on your hands): what kind of a freakin' band is he in? I mean, Jesus. Not a nouveau-grunge one, at any rate.

Tomasky Pt2

I've written before about the superb Michael Tomasky, my US election hero. And I make no apology for the fact that he once again graces the Intellectual Hooligan's pages.

Right now, he just made me laugh.

The article in question is about Bush and Rumsfeld. It contains a number of quotations from both in which is betrayed, one might say, a certain disjunction with reality. It's a short article, and worth reading. Taster: Bush's most anxiety-inducing moment as President? Making a baseball pitch.

Anyhow, after presenting these quotations, Tomasky writes, in his dry old way:

Somehow, these statements [of Bush and Rumsfeld] don't sound like spin to me. Rummy and Bush sound like part of them actually believe what they're saying here. When we make errors, we find ways to justify our actions retroactively. You and I just don't happen to have made errors that resulted in untold thousands of deaths because we lied to the world and then went out and executed the war based on our lies haplessly.
As for the baseball thing, I think he just has no idea how this sort of talk comes across to people (i.e., he sounds like an insensitive and shallow fool). Anyway, it'll be nice to be governed by people from planet Earth.

Ah, Tomasky. Good stuff. Though you should really have sorted out the word order in the final line of the earlier paragraph above: that misplaced 'haplessly' really screws up the flow and somewhat undermines your humour. I almost resorted to editing it myself.

Here's a link to Tomasky's blog.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Marketing Will Never Be The Same Again

It is the ever-eagle-eyed Rebecca Mosley whom I have to thank for alerting me to this fabulous piece of polish-a-turd marketing that graces the menus of a less-than-family-run public house in Oxford (we just had chips, in case you were wondering).

Wow. That's what I call personal. You mean I can choose what I get to eat? Seriously?

Like all the best innovations, this one opens up a whole new vista of marketing/sales opportunities:

HooliganAir – fly with us and we'll let you select your destination!

Hoolico – the first supermarket to give you control over what goes into your trolley!

Intellectual Dating – letting you meet only the people you actually fancy!

Hooligan LettingsWe Even Throw In Walls And A Roof ... ABSOLUTELY FREE! (TM)

Hool Finance – The New Way To Bank: letting you withdraw money whenever you want.

Ladies and gentlemen, we may have a revolution on our hands.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Looking back, over my shoulder

... I can see that look in your eye.

(It's a sort of pitying look, actually. Which I'm not so wild about. But let's move on.)

So – what did we all think of the twelvemonth jamboree that was 2008? Here's the year, in retrospect, through the eyes of a hooligan.

That aren't actually current any more, obviously

Well, it was the year when credit finally crunched like a momma. Like a big, crunching momma. With nutcrackers. And the people of North Oxford did collectively throw up their leather-begloved hands and gasp at the prohibitive price of lemons. In 2009, we must ask ourselves: will these poor people be able to put food on the table?

And, if so, what about pudding? Not only have prices soared; Britain's confectionary shelves have been disastrously decimated.

Meanwhile, would-be crunchbuster Obama won an election. The starving hordes of North Oxford, too hunger-enfeebled to cheer, instead blasted the horns of their 4x4s in jubilant celebration (and the Intellectual Hooligan had a mouthshriveling glass of Pinot Grigio, before returning to Michael Tomasky. Ridiculous –> sublime.)

Unfortunately, all of the above has been defined as 'not news', relative to the messageboard-clogging bolus of importance that was Strictly Come Dancing. Sorry, Obama, mate: any other year, you'd've made it.

Putting the 'lite' back into literary criticism

With the cinematic adaption of Revolutionary Road due out at the end of this month, 2008 was the perfect time to read Richard Yates' wonderfully observed, psychologically penetrating novel. This is one, the hooligan predicts, that will remain better served by the written word than the cinema screen.

Hamlet has been battered around the ring (I begin to see innuendo in everything I write), meanwhile – first hated by his creator, then rudely regurgitated. Poor chap.

In the interim – without any particular contemporary justification for so doing – we sprinted through Martin Amis's Rachel Papers (old novel), and found him acting like a bastardly, dosed-up Henry James.

Amidst all the hurly burly, the hooligan even took time out to scribble a line or two of his own.

Peg on nose, the Hooligan filters out the malodourous

In a manner which may attract allegations of partisanship, the mesmeric world of Rebecca Mosley and her adopted objects has continued to entrance. And allegers of partisanship can, frankly, sod off. Go to Zimbabwe and do your noble work there, why don't you?

Elsewhere, we were shown that zooming in on something can suddenly become like zooming out. No, we weren't on hallucinogens whilst watching the mosaic screensaver on Mac OS X – we were digging the fine work of Tara Donovan.

Because you wanted to know all about the Intellectual Hooligan's personal life, didn't you? Yes, you did. You poor, poor fool.

A year of upheavals, 2008 has seen an heroic resignation of the kind destined – I humbly submit – to be chronicled and retold by historians and irritating bard-type fellows in years to come. The hooligan – hear ye! – righteously kicked some corporate ass. Or some public sector ass, at very least.

Your hero has been crushingly humiliated (or has, rather, recalled – in premature-wrinkle-inducing immediacy – past humiliation). He has been the target of malicious rhetorical questions and chilling grimacewinks. He has been cruelly deprived of evocative olfactory stimuli – and, sickened to the core, has found out what lies behind his inability to tear his hungry eyes from the crotches of humans and animals alike. Throughout this trauma, moreover, his dreams have been reechoed with the omnipresent footfalls of the Mobile Phone Grim Reaper. Alack!

Before said Reaper has done his baleful work, howsoever, telephonic devices have wreaked their own variety of havoc, facilitating nefarious narcotic exchanges via the worldwide web of lies, sin, infamy and, y'know, illegal mp3s and photographs of naked ladies and suchlike. Perhaps these phones deserve all they get?

Amidst such cataclysms and shattering revelations, however, have been moments of almost heartbreaking tenderness. From sexy, sexy dimples to the girth-boosting people of Peterborough and their deformed bird, light has shone, time and again, betwixt gathering stormclouds.

May such light continue to shine – however fitfully – upon the road through 2009, o noble blogprodders. And, through the humble vessel of this blog, may it be a lantern to your inbox, and a light upon your RSS feeds. Oh, Christ, that was cheap and a little mangled.

So: it stays.

Finally, for the delectation of those of you to whom happiness is a statistical readout (Birdface), the most 'popular' posts of 2008. Giles Coren is hot stuff, it would seem.

  1. Giles Coren knows how to do a leak
  2. Shakespeare hated Hamlet. He really did, you know.
  3. Photos on the internet – for drugs. It was bound to happen some time.
  4. Alas! Mourn the passing of the dough[t]y Battenberg!
  5. Oh, those crazy pharmacists ...

That's all, peeps. Thank you for choosing to exercise your eyes (and, occasionally, your brains) in this corner of the worldwide gymnasium. Come back soon to hear tales of gin and tonic to make grown men weep – and other sundry undercrackers fished daintily from the laundry basket of the Intellectual Hooligan's holiday season.

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