Monday, August 31, 2009

It was 60 years ago today

Yesterday’s Sunday Star-Times advertised upcoming concerts by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe.

Cliff Richard was born in 1940. His first hit “Move It” was released in 1958. The Shadows date from 1959.

Mick Fleetwood was born in 1947. John MacVie was born in 1945. Their first album as Fleetwood Mac - geddit? - was released in 1968.

Ry Cooder was born in 1947, and Nick Lowe in 1949.

Kids today, eh?

Here are Cliff and the Shadows’ speccy guitarist Hank Marvin (born in 1941, lives in Perth) in their fantastically underrated 1969 hit “Throw Down a Line”:

If they’ll do a concert like that, I’m there. But they won’t, so I’m not.

Happy birthday, Bruce Connew

Bruce Connew is 60 today. And again tomorrow, because he is in France where it isn’t yet 31 August.

This photo is of him in 1985, in August I think but definitely in South Kensington, London. I snapped it the day he emerged from apartheid South Africa where he had been in the townships photographing necklacing and the like – basically, risking his life every day. Still, he got a very good book out of it, South Africa.

In 1989 he slipped over the Thai border to spend time with and photograph the Karen insurgents in their civil war against the Burmese junta – basically, risking his life every day. Still, he got a very good book out of it: On the Way to an Ambush.

After that trip when he was in the infectious diseases (i.e. in those days Aids) ward at Auckland Hospital nearly dying of malaria he was gaunt, had the moustache in the photo and wore checked shirts. Such a gay look, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I lived nearby so visited him every day bearing a Fru-Ju, and the nurses thought it was lovely that his boyfriend was so attentive.

Since then Bruce has produced more books on subjects as varied as muttonbirding and ethnic relations in Fiji, had a photo essay (the cover story) in Granta, and most recently produced the book and exhibition I Must Behave.

Bruce is like so many of my friends: behaving is something he has seldom done. Something about that word “must”, perhaps.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

John Dybvig and David Letterman

My old friend John Dybvig sent me this clip of him explaining New Zealand to David Letterman with a view to enticing him down our way. That’s not something I would normally encourage, as I think Letterman is ghastly and less funny than Mike King, but John asks that the clip be promulgated, so let’s promulgate!

There’s just one thing: in the clip John explains that in New Zealand we don’t “root for the team”. Tell that to the girls in Taranaki.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sentence of the day

Lockwood Smith, Speaker of the House, during the debate in which Rodney Hide objected to being called “a dot dot dot”:
“We have wasted so much time now that I may as well hear the Hon Trevor Mallard.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camp Climax for Girls

I have no idea what this is about but it’s a great photo. Best of all, Google tells me that the camp is located at Quaker Lake.

And inevitably there is a band.

Monitor: Max Cryer

Pussy galore

Recently we discussed dogs. Now it’s the turn of cats. There is a new magazine called, and I’m not making this up, Feline Wellness. Here is the Table of Contents for the current issue:
Getting fleas to flee
Non-toxic alternatives are gaining in popularity in the battle against these nasty pests.

Sitting pretty
Want a happy, beautiful cat? She’s within reach when you put together her own personal grooming kit.

10 steps to a perfect walk
Don’t have the space or budget for an outdoor enclosure? Follow these suggestions to adapting your kitty to a harness and lead.

Homeopathy for cats
Felines are especially responsive to this gentle healing modality. Find out which remedies can help your own furry companion.

Is he “Mr. Right”?
Adopting a new feline friend? Before bringing him home, make sure he’ll fit in with your household and lifestyle.

Toilet talk
A healthy and hygienic litter box makes for a clean cat -- and a happy you! Here’s the lowdown on some of today’s litter and tray choices.

Sensitive skin?
Allergies are common in cats. For effective relief, take an integrative approach to your itchy kitty.

It’s bath day!
Bathing your cat doesn’t have to be a traumatic battle. Follow these eight tips for a calm experience.

Showing their claws?
Cat fights are scary, and can erupt between felines who’ve been friends for life. Here’s what to do when the furs flies in your multi-cat household.

Heart of the matter
Contrary to popular opinion, cats can get heartworm. Here’s what you need to know to protect your feline friend.

Her inner hunter
It’s natural for cats to stalk birds. Check out seven ways to satisfy those instincts without harming any wildlife.
There is more puss-related material in the Spectator, though with a rather more bracing attitude, as cat-hater Rod Liddle celebrates the death-by-python of the unfortunate Wilbur. Like Liddle, I’m on the python’s side. And only partly because I no longer have my beloved Labrador and am saddled instead with the world’s most irritating cat.

Wedding of the week

The Sun reports that:
A lesbian bride spent her wedding night behind bars after allegedly attacking a male bouncer with her stiletto.
But wait, it gets better. One of the guests says: “I’ve not been to a same sex civil wedding before but it certainly ended with a bang bigger than the average weddings.”

The story goes like this:
Blushing Sharon Verallo, 40, was arrested by cops shortly after getting hitched to lover Nicola Hutin. . . A stunned wedding guest said: “Both brides ended up in tears – it was a sad ending to a happy day.

“From what I could see Sharon took her bridal shoe off and whacked the bouncer over the head with it. After that it all kicked off. There were people in tears, shouting and screaming. . .”

After the service, the wedding party moved on to the Champers Wine Bar in the city where the happy couple had booked a room until 11pm. But when the time came to leave, many of the guests refused to go and wanted to carry on with the party.

A dispute started at the door between guests and a bouncer — and Sharon allegedly waded in armed with the red shoe from her wedding outfit.

Another guest said: “It was a very boozy day and some of the guests were very drunk during the service. I thought at one point that the registrar was going to have to stop the ceremony.”. . .

A police source said: “We would never want to spoil a bride’s big night but in this case we had no choice.”
Best of all, this happened in Swansea.

Monitor: Tim Worstall

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In praise of Lloyd Stratford

It’s my uncle Lloyd’s birthday today. He is 84. He is one of the nicest men you could hope to meet, even though he is an Australian.

A few years ago I went to collect him from Auckland Airport. On the same flight from Oz were George Clinton and his band. Very exciting for me to see Mr Parliament/Funkadelic and his Day-Glo dreads live in person coming into the arrivals hall – but not as exciting as what happened next. There was Lloyd and there beside him deep in conversation was Bernie Worrell in a cowboy hat.

“Bernie who?” you ask. He is/was the long-time keyboard player in Parliament and Funkadelic; he played with Talking Heads in their 80s funk phase. That scary-looking black guy in the backline of the Stop Making Sense concert movie wearing the sleeveless white T? That’s him.

Lloyd spotted me, waved me over and said, “Bernie, I want you to meet my nephew Stephen.” They had been seated beside each other on the long flight over. Lloyd is a keen talker but has an industrial-strength stammer so is quite hard to follow; he is also deeply conservative. Bernie Worrell has clearly taken a few drugs in his time, so he is quite hard to follow too; he is also deeply religious, which Lloyd is not.

I have no idea what these two men, both tiny but so different in every other way, talked about on the flight or even if they understood each other, but there in the arrivals hall they were soulmates.

I hugged my uncle, shook hands with one of my heroes, and was happy.

Here is Bernie Worrell with Talking Heads performing “Once in a Lifetime” – that’s him in the opening shot:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

25 August 2009

Home Paddock has a daily post of significant events in history on that day. For 25 August she has Galileo and Captain Cook doing momentous things, and also the birthdays of George Stubbs (1724), Martin Amis (1949) and Billy Ray Cyrus (1961).

Well, excuse me. There is a lot more to celebrate. How about these birthdays?:

Leonard Bernstein (1918), Sean Connery (1930), Elvis Costello (1954), Tim Burton (1958), Joanne Whalley (1961) – if you don't recognise the name, ask any heterosexual male who watched The Singing Detective in the late 80s – Jeff Tweedy (1967) and Claudia Schiffer (1970).

Let’s not mention Gene Simmons of Kiss (1949). Or me, somewhere in there.

That’s my kind of meaningless statistic

Via Home Paddock (#17) I learn that on Tumeke’s (#11) highly scientific ranking of New Zealand blogs, Quote Unquote has shot up 26 places and after a mere eight months of blogging is now ranked #101. Thanks to all my readers, etc.

If I were a competitive person, which I’m not, I would look up the ranking of my distinguished former Listener colleagues Karl du Fresne (#129) and Denis Welch (#143).

Among my other distinguished former colleagues, Poneke (from Metro days) is on #19 and Chris Trotter (obscure media trivia which even he has probably forgotten: I published him in New Outlook in the 80s) is on #62.

And my former colleagues from Quote Unquote the magazine, Rob O’Neill and Mark Broatch, who with the rather more productive Chris Bell are NZBC, are on #82, which is a nice fourth birthday present for them – we started it together on 17 August 2005.

Actually I don’t believe any of it. Karl and Denis are serious people so must have many more readers than me, and I know – we’re family, so I see her stats as well as her tats – that on most days Laughy Kate gets at least as many as me. It’s yet more evidence for the Stratford Theory of Numbers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How I invented Joe Bennett

In reprint #4 from Quote Unquote the magazine, here is Graeme Lay in the October 1996 issue expressing his loathing of dogs. Some months later Joe Bennett read it and, as a dog lover, was moved to write an article in reply. We couldn’t use it as the magazine had folded, so he took it elsewhere. That was his first published piece, and look at him now.
Barking Mad
I hate dogs. No, that’s not right. I loathe dogs. Of all the animals sup¬posedly tamed by humans, dogs are the worst, their habits so disgusting that they do not merit the adjective “domesticated”. Only dogs put their repulsive gonads on display, mount one another in public, wilfully shit and piss in places where their diseased excreta will be trodden on by people, shove their snuffling snouts into women’s private parts, tear open and pillage rubbish bags in the street, bark stridently by night and day and make vi¬cious and unprovoked attacks on people of all ages. Dogs’ behaviour is bestial. If humans did what dogs do they would, quite rightly, be arrested. More power to the dog-catchers, I say. The only good dog is a guide dog.

Unlike people who say they hate cars but happily accept rides in other people’s, I was once actually a dog owner. I was 13, the animal was allegedly a pure-bred Irish terrier but, typically, its pedigree mother had been violated and fertilised by some scrubby mongrel. The puppy was a female of a harsh ginger shade. Initially affectionate in a slobbery way, it rapidly developed delinquent habits. It barked incessantly, dug up putrefying meat, rolled in fresh cowshit and attempted sex with any low-lying object: cushions, draught excluders and once, memorably, with my grandmother’s slipper while her foot was still in it. It behaved, in other words, just like a dog.

After a time, as its antisocial tendencies became more pronounced, my parents had it taken away and, as the euphemism has it, “put down”. It had harried, caught and savaged three sheep, a capital offence in the rural sector. I wept for my rogue pet, but only for a week. After that I was given a pair of kittens, and immediately became aware of how civilised cats are. Cats are to dogs what Aristotle is to Attila the Hun.

But dogs still intruded on my life. I delivered newspapers around the town on my bike. To the local curs I was an irresistible, moving target. They would hurl themselves at my legs from their front gates, fangs weeping, snarling insanely. I would retaliate by striking out at them with tightly rolled editions of the Taranaki Herald. When this proved ineffective I added stones and chunks of broken concrete to my paper bag. The sound of a rock striking a dog’s snout, and the resultant howl of pain, I found deeply satisfying.

In the ensuing years, nothing has hap¬pened to alter my opinion of dogs. Dog conduct, in fact, appears to have worsened, accompanied by a similar deterioration in human behaviour. There is a certain breed of male which drives utility trucks. Usually from the outer suburbs, these young men have hair that is shaved at the sides and grows long at the back. They often sport lurid tattoos. Their other accessory is a large, muscular dog which stands on the tray of the ute, bristling with aggression, testicles bulging. Any move from a passing human other than its owner, however innocent, is interpreted as an attack. These brutes are merciless. Their viciousness leads to those terrible newspaper photographs showing stricken infants staring from their hospital beds, faces bruised and sutured. The only consolation is that such stories usually conclude with one of the most gratifying sentences in the English language: The dog was destroyed.

The other type of dog owner is little better. They are the well-heeled ones who walk their dogs diligently morning and evening, pausing only to let them piss and shit on the beach and in parks. Then when their dog lunges at passers-by or jumps up on them, they say piously, and with a blind disregard for the facts, “Oh it’s all right, he won’t hurt you.”

Dogs are like that. In their primitive attempts to protect those who provide their tucker, they will set upon and savage the innocent – postal workers, district nurses, charity collectors, census enumerators – people who are only carrying out useful duties. Dog owners accept no blame for this. He’s only defending his territory. He never bites.

One out of three New Zealanders has been attacked by a dog in the last 12 months, I read the other day. I believe it. I have been attacked and bitten by the dogs of total strangers and, much worse, by the dogs of friends. I was once bitten on the buttock by the Alsatian of my daughter’s boyfriend, and in the same week, while carrying an intoxicated friend to his front door late at night, was set upon and bitten on the ankle by his elderly, ill-tempered terrier. When I built an aviary for my children, a raiding dog tore open the netting and murdered all the quails. Dogs have no sense of decency.

Not all societies share our English-derived obsession with dog-grovelling. One of the most appealing features of Tongan society is that they kill, cook and eat dogs. The Chinese do too. Certain islands in the Cook Group have gone one better and banned dogs from their shores altogether, on the grounds, unproven but probable, that the creatures were carriers of leprosy. So today you can go to the islands of Aitutaki and Mauke knowing that they are entirely dog-free as well as nuclear-free. No shitting, no pissing, no barking, no biting. A dog-hater’s heaven.
Not all the Pacific is so enlightened. Samoa is infested with skinny, vicious, septic mongrels. In French Polynesia, where there is a wide gap between the few rich and the many poor, the “haves” buy huge dogs to patrol the grounds of their large properties against the predatory attentions of the have-nots. Whole valleys in Tahiti resound with a chain reaction of detonations of barking and baying if one hound as much as gets a whiff of a stranger. The hills are alive with the sound of howling. Horrible, sinister sounds.

A year or two ago I was on the island of Hiva Oa, in the Marquesas group. I was staying in a small hotel on a hillside a little way out of town. I walked back from town. It was a very hot, enervating afternoon. I turned off the coast road and trudged up the rough track which led to my pension. Pant¬ing, leaden-legged, small pack on my back, I walked up the driveway and out onto a broad lawn. There I stopped, puzzled, looked about me. Lawn? The hotel didn’t have a lawn. Where he hell was I?

In an instant I was doubly enlightened. The realisation that I had walked up the wrong driveway came simultaneously with the knowledge that cantering across the lawn towards me and crying for my flesh were two identical Alsatian dogs: brown, huge, the size of small Shetland ponies. I had three, perhaps four seconds between survival and dismemberment. Everything that I had once heard a dog psychologist say on the radio – only dogs, in the entire animal kingdom, need psychologists – about what to do in such circumstances went out of my head. Instead I bellowed in a voice they must have heard in Bora Bora, “Stop!”

Only after I yelled it did I realise how stupid this was. These brutes would only understand French imperatives. Perhaps only Marquesan. Yet somehow, it had an effect. The beasts stopped, stared at me. But I knew they were only pausing. They stood crouched for attack, mandibles agape, lips slobbering, yellow eyes like pools of pus. I attempted a bilingual approach. “Arretez!” At the same time I took large steps backwards. The Alsatians released a fusillade of barks and, muscles bunched, mutilation clearly on their minds, advanced. They were now only about five metres from me. I had visions of myself, thighs and calves shredded, left for dead on the driveway, bleeding heavily, bites swiftly festering in the tropical heat. Medical help would be minimal. Last night, in the hotel bar, I had met the only physician on the island. He was quite drunk, his hands palsied, a man clearly in the grip of the grape. “Pour lui, c’est normal,” my host had told me with a careless shrug, topping up his glass.

“Arretez!” Again my scream stopped the animals for a moment, and again I stepped back. They began to advance, murder in their custard eyes. Salivating heavily, brown shoulder-hair erect, toi-toi tails rigid, they came in for the kill.

I ran. Not for the gate – they would have been on me in seconds if I’d turned and run back. Instead I ran and dived to the right, throwing myself down a stony bank at the edge of the lawn. It was covered in banana palms. Rolling, tumbling, pack thumping against rock and palm, I hurtled down the bank. When I reached the bottom I rolled over and looked up, filthy, fearful. The dogs had stopped at the top, though they continued to bark hysterically. Barking mad.

I staggered back up the right driveway, clothes streaked with dirt, soggy with sweat. I went straight to the bar and ordered a beer. As my hostess fetched a bottle I poured out my story. “Ah, mon Dieu,” she said, “ces chiens, ces chiens mechants.” And she told me how, earlier that year, her three-year-old son had toddled onto that property. His legs had been bitten from ankle to thigh. Later she showed me his scars. I considered going back into town, selecting a piece of viande for my Alsatian neighbours, preparing it especially and taking it over to them. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t know the French word for arsenic.

Recently I read that people like me who detest dogs instinctively give off a smell when the creatures approach, a smell that only they can detect. This maddens them, and they attack. The thought that one is, even unknowingly, giving off an odour is bad enough; that it is also one which induces canine hostility is wretched.

Everywhere, the world is going to the dogs. There is only one solution: I will have to move. Fortunately for me, Aitutaki and Mauke are both lovely islands.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The amazing Ross sisters

This performance from the 1944 musical Broadway Rhythm (which starred a young Lena Horne and featured Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra) is apparently the only surviving clip of Aggie, Elmira and Maggie Ross doing their thing – and what a thing it was. Close harmony singing a la the Andrews Sisters for the first minute and then the most astounding acrobatic contortions.

Their real names were Vicki, Dixie and Betsy. Despite what you see in some references on the internet they weren’t triplets, just normal sisters. Well, I say normal…

Monitor: Steve Whitehouse

A maths joke

From XKCD, as always:

The Stratford theory of numbers: new evidence

Home Paddock thinks that this TV3 story about Rodney Hide is what Mac Doctor calls spam journalism.

Could be. I also think it’s more evidence for my theory about journalists and numbers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jeff Beck, philosopher

In his essay “On Idleness”, published in 1580, Michel de Montaigne wrote:
The mind that has no fixed aim loses itself, for, as they say, to be everywhere is to be nowhere.
Which is almost exactly what Jeff Beck sings in his 1967 hit “Hi Ho Silver Lining”:
You’re everywhere and nowhere, baby,
That’s where you’re at.
Here he performs the song at the ARMS fundraiser concert in the Albert Hall in 1983 with two great singers backing him, Steve Winwood (white shirt) and Andy Fairweather Low (tragic shirt):

You can pick up the 2-DVD set real cheap these days – it’s great for fans of 60s Britrock, with Eric Clapton, half the Stones, half the Yardbirds (Beck, Clapton and Jimmy Page) and a bonus pair of Small Faces.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hello sailor

I can’t decide whether this ship’s name is rude or is the Greek for “Does my bum look big in this?”

Monitor: Kevin Ireland

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Les Paul R.I.P

What to say about the inventor of multi-tracking and the Gibson Les Paul that Lenny Kaye hasn’t already? Shut up and listen, I guess. Here he is performing “How High the Moon” with his wife Mary Ford:

I used to play a Gibson Les Paul gold-top for a while in the 80s. It belonged to my friend Sina’s brother who was back in Samoa so she let me borrow it without him knowing. I couldn’t play it very well but at least I looked like a rock star. Or maybe just like someone who had a cool guitar. At the time Dave McArtney from Hello Sailor played a black Les Paul: I basically learned how to play by sitting in front of him and his amp at the Globe Tavern in Auckland.

The Fender Stratocaster eventually took over as the dominant rock guitar – maybe it was Hendrix at Woodstock, maybe it was Eric Clapton – but for a while the Les Paul ruled. Here are three reasons why.

1. Peter Green of the original Fleetwood Mac plays one on “Oh Well” at the BBC in 1969:

2. Gary Moore plays one at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990. It may even be the same one as in the Green clip. Moore is/was a friend of his and does own it:

3. And now for something completely different: Robert Fripp , a couple of tape recorders and a lovely Dorset accent, probably in 1979. That’s him playing the brilliant guitar on David Bowie’s “Heroes”, which if you ask me is right up there with “Dancing Queen” as pop perfection. This isn’t, but I still like it:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Russians bat for lashes

From the pure gold that is English Russia comes this report on the latest style there. I do hope it doesn’t catch on here:
Weird fashion spread among Russian girls - celebrities and just regular ones – the fashion for long hairy eyelashes.

How does it look like you might ask, this post is to get an idea how it is.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rambo as role model

Joe Hildebrand, who is my kind of movie reviewer, blames his unhappy student years on the fact that he didn’t see Sylvester Stallone in First Blood until a decade or so later:
The lack of a strong male role model had left me dreadlocked, drug-addicted and devoted to a reconfigured branch of socialism in which everyone was supposed to work equally except me. This state of mind left me vulnerable to exploitation, costing me several girlfriends and the best part of an Arts degree. At one memorable party a lesbian separatist dragged my drunken love interest back to her house while I dejectedly trundled upstairs to find that the boyfriend of the lesbian separatist (whose sexuality was apparently more fluid than originally thought) had projectile vomited red wine on my walls and passed out in my bed. Upon realising this I muttered something along the lines of “Solidarity my arse” and trundled back downstairs to pass out on the couch. It is unlikely that John Rambo would have dealt with the situation the same way.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

30 Songs

Not PC and MacDoctor have listed the 30 songs that come up first when their MP3 players are on shuffle. Home Paddock isn’t playing because she doesn’t do MP3s and hasn’t got an iPod or similar. Neither have I, but I can put my PC’s player on shuffle, and here’s what I got:

Jet Plane in a Rocking Chair – Richard and Linda Thompson (In Concert 1975)
Lassus Lamentations – Collegium Regale
Bach “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” from Cantata 99 – Monteverdi Choir
Rihm “Tutuguri, Poeme Danse” – Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR
Tone Probe “Promenade” – Robert Fripp
Bruckner Symphony No. 6, Adagio – Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR
People of Conscience, Rick Danko
Heavy ConstruKction – ProjeKct Two
Corelli Recorder Sonata in F – Alison Melville
Don’t Let Our Love Die – Emmylou Harris
Dowland “Thomas Collier, his Galliard” – Christian Lindberg
Promenade II – Robert Fripp
Ghosts in the Wind – Richard Thompson
Bach Keyboard Concerto No. 3, Adagio – Robert Levin
Berg Lyric Suite, Allegro Misterioso – NZ String Quartet
Precious Memories – Sweet Honey in the Rock
Lead a Normal Life – Peter Gabriel
Wave – Jesse Winchester
Holding Back the Years – Angie Stone
Bach Toccata in D minor – Kevin Bowyer
Go Tell the Women – Grinderman
ProzaKc Blues – King Crimson
Straight, No Chaser – Cannonball Adderley Quintet
Mr and Mrs People – Ornette Coleman
Just What I Need – Dave Dobbyn
Agitation – Miles Davis
Infatuation – Dave McArtney and the Pink Flamingos
There’s a Rugged Road – Judee Sill
Handel Rinaldo, “Scorta rea di cieco amore” – Daniel Taylor
Time is on My Side – Irma Thomas

Some odd overlaps there – in particular, all three of us have Robert Fripp or his band King Crimson. Chris Bell at NZBC is a fan too. Is this some sort of weird male blogger thing? No doubt Laughy Kate will let us know.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The #1 rule of moving house

1. Don’t do it.

We’re in the middle of it and it’s hell. Not recommended.

Normal service, such as it is, will resume in a few days.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bread and circuses

Via Marginal Revolution:
Uncle Sam is on the verge of paying the City of Los Angeles $30 million to subsidize a ten-year run of Cirque du Soleil.

So it’s finally come to pass – America has embarked on the same road down which ancient Rome marched to its ruin: Uncle Sam not only subsidizes bread (by subsidizing wheat production) but now also circuses.
The original news story is here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Animal husbandry

Here in Waipa we take a keen interest in cows and horses, especially horses. It’s no secret that people in and around Cambridge love them – but just as friends. Not like this fellow:
A South Carolina man was charged with having sex with a horse after the animal’s owner caught the act on videotape, then staked out the stable and caught him at shotgun point, authorities said.

But this wasn’t the first time Rodell Vereen has been charged. He pleaded guilty last year to having sex with the same horse.
Weird? Yes. Sick? Certainly. But I guess in his defence he could claim it was a stable relationship.

The wit and wisdom of Joe Biden

Now that we don’t have Sarah Palin to kick around any more, three cheers for the new blog Joe Biden Said That? which records – often with video clips – the Vice President’s numerous gaffes. There is this classic spelling epic fail:
Look, John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.
There is this twofer on the Depression:
When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here's what happened.’
Television was introduced 10 years after the Wall Street Crash, and Hoover was president. And here is Biden on swine flu:
I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places right now. It's not that it's going to Mexico, it's that you are in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft. That's me.
It’s early days yet, but this could be worth following.

Monitor: Tim Blair