mardi, février 28, 2006

Countdown to Cuba

It's done. After weeks of planning and projects Mel and I have finally purchased the damn tickets. As of tomorrow we will be 41 days away from stepping aboard the plane in Brussels which will take us to Varadero, Cuba. The Countdown to Cuba will feature silently at the end of each post from now till take off day. Lord, am I happy that it is not a leap year!

First info trickling in: will be staying here in Havana (Frank Sinatra loved it!) then moving on for seven days of dolcefarniente in Varadero... here to be exact. Who ever said communism was hell?

Those Magnificent Kids and their Swimming Things

I came across the above photo while going through my cousin's flickr photos. Nathaniel, who now regularly reads the news on Net is the third from left. The one who looks like he had been oiled for the photo taken at a primordial Ramla Bay. Seeing the photo is a throwback to those lovely days in the eighties when the cousins on my father's side met on a regular basis to wreak havoc in whatever environment we were left to play. It is amazing that someone got us to stand still long enough to get this picture taken. We are lined up in order of height and age - starting from the left Kurt, Johnathan, Nathaniel, myself, Andrè and Geoffrey G. Missing in action are Joseph, Kristoff and our only female cousin - Juanita.

I seem to be whingeing about something for a change. Most probably my hatred of the sea had not yet been completely overcome. I hold on strongly to the lifejacket thingy (which is a bright orange when seen in colour). Do not let those Ethiopian legs deceive you. I am sure that lurking somewhere out of the picture you would find the four or five picnic coolers and wicker baskets full of such delicacies as hard boiled eggs and ftajjar biz-zejt u t-tonn, watermelons and timpana.

My guess is that the photo was taken in the late afternoon (note the sun shining on Nadur - it's the shadows stupid) and that the wild bunch is well fed and out to look for trouble. Kurt or John would let out "Last one to the sea is a rotten egg" - and while the rest of us would be tryng to decipher their Canadian Accent and wondering what a ruttennawg is they would already be knee deep in the water. Meanwhile Andrè, my all-eating brother, would have wandered off on the hunt for the latest sea-creature to put in his mouth and devour or dissect.

I do not remember much of what I thought of a day at the sea. Fear of being forced to swim without the lifejacket must have been a prime consideration (once shed though, I would join my cousins in becoming a terror of the seas). I remember the usual warnings not to stray too far.. the races, competitions and games. We would stay in the sea until we practically dissolved. Not much sun screen was being spread around in those days. Our skins were already being used to getting as thick as possible - and black of course.

The outing would last until the sun began to set. Until the last tourists had hurried away from the beach to catch the last bus to civilisation. Then mothers would turn seargents to husbands and children alike barking out orders to the company to reassemble. The war on the sand would begin as any recognisable trace of the horrible infiltrator would be scrubbed out of your body with towel. There was the horrible ritual of slipping out of the swimsuit and into your dry "penty" while being scrubbed dry and senseless by a caring mum. Shame of nudity is probably drilled in around that time among Maltese kids as they stand behind the towel to hide the transformation from beach bandit to well groomed offspring.

It was normally around this time when André all dressed and primmed up usually decided to have his last frolick into the sea, clothes, brushed hair and all!

Madonna kemm hu imqareb. Imma x'ahlew!
(How naughty... yet how sweet!)

Credits: Thanks Nathaniel for the photo from his flickr collection.
The photo looks like an '81 to me - though it could easily be the World Cup year (only then it would be a bit too late for me to still be running around with the life thingy - on the other hand I could be wearing it to play some game that escapes me).

Non Sequitur #49

The Real Muscle

The European Union said Monday that it will give the Palestinian Authority $143 million in emergency aid before the newly elected Hamas leadership forms a Palestinian government.

The EU package of 120 million euros comes as the Palestinian Authority struggles with a financial crisis amid the aid cutoff threats over a Hamas-led government.

The EU, meeting in Brussels, Belgium, said the funds would help pay for Palestinian energy and utility bills, health and education programs, and the Palestinian Authority payroll.

For 2006, the United States budgeted $234 million for Palestinian aid. Last year, the European Union gave the Palestinian Authority more than $600 million.

- - - - - -
Interpretation #1 : Some prefer to invade others prefer to invest.
Interpretation #2: Fejn marru il-100 miljun? Il-Palestina!
Interpretation #3: What's on the Movie Channel?
Interpretation #4: What about Israel?


"It's official. Citizens worldwide think Western leaders have made a fundamental mistake in their war on terror by invading Iraq," says Doug Miller, president of the international polling firm GlobeScan, which carried out the survey." - BBC World
Do you remember why Dubya decided that the US should invade Iraq and remove that terrible dictator? Aside from the story of hidden WMD's do you recall something in the lines of War on Terror? Do you recall the Axis of Evil? Well. The world should, by now, be a safer place shouldn't it?

People in the colder countries (like the snow covered Duchy) should be curled up infront of their fireplace feeling cosy. The only worry for workers in high rise buildings should be any manifestation of acrophobia. The only worry for tourists in various resorts around the world should be the ferry time-table. Dubya went to war on terror and some time back he also damn well won. Everyone was instructed to shoot down the evil men. Admittedly Cheney went one step too far. But that's Duh!Merica for you.... if you've got to do it... do it right!

So. Safe and sound eh? So what's all this about the world feeling that it is a more dangerous place? What's this global survey stating that the general public sentiment (barring duh!mericans and a few leftover minion countries) is that Iraq was a mistake? The poll results may be read in full from this summary. 60% of respondents think that the Threat of Terrorism has increased since Iraq.

Lovely. I think we should move to plan B - depose another undemocratic, non-international law respecting, goofy leader and hope for the best. Ideas anyone?

lundi, février 27, 2006


Shrove Monday is a Holiday in Luxembourg.
J'Accuse will resume tomorrow.

Have a nice day.


dimanche, février 26, 2006


Seems like it is the season for projects. This is a (sort of) plug of various ideas taking shape elsewhere. Spring is in the air (almost). So I guess we are in for the renouvellement. All for the best probably. Allusions to projects are being made all over the place. Books being translated, blogs pausing on sabbatical or because other projects take priority. Some projects loose rhythm or need hibernation others are being born at the moment. The net is alive with the sound of blogging! (geddit?)

Anyways. This side of the blogosphere I am trying to coordinate the continuation of j'accuse with the birth of kinnie&twistees. Experiments have begun with a new form of blogging outside blogger - results can be seen here apart from the one on blogger which would be the Maltese twin of j'accuse. Justin will kindly start sharing the administration of Postform in an effort to infuse new blood in the dying project. Zemp should join the team of the laughing fit when his sabbatical is over. Once all is set in motion (personal deadline 10th March) it should make a chain of four blogs (including Bollettino). On the podcasting side - we promise never to bore anyone with our voice but look out for a one-off spoof of you-know-who once we manage to master the intricacies of the Garage Band Podcast Creator.

So finally much to blog about and much to blog with (and pod with). By the way, seems like maltagirl is up with her next carnival so do not forget to send your links.

And on the 7th Day

(you guessed it)

samedi, février 25, 2006

Non Sequitur #48

"I'm one card short of a full deck
I'm not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck
I'm not my usual top billing
I'm coming down with a fever
I'm really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over
I think I'm a banana tree
Oh dear"

vendredi, février 24, 2006

Non Sequitur #47

"Jaws was never my scene, and I don't like Star Wars."

While we were bickering

While the Big Blogosphere Shakeup (passive or active) was happening the world failed to stay on hold. Here is a Spectator style roundup:

Anarchy in Iraq as Hundreds Killed
The exportation of democracy takes a new turn as the duh!mericans show us more and more that when they invaded they knew why they were invading, what they were doing and exactly how they were to go about it. Yeah the next phase in our democratisation process is what we call Civil War. Don't worry folks... we went through it too.

Moscow roof caves in
In a Pirella style accident, the roof of a Muscovite supermarket caved in under heavy snow. 56 died. The architect was also responsible for another building which collapsed two years ago.

The Great Bank Robbery
The greatest Cash robbery in Britain was committed by an armed gang. The method used mimicked a Hollywood movie whose name escapes me. It involved keeping the manager's family hostage throughout the operation.

Malta Communications Authority :
Bullies of the Weak (aerial view)
The MCA ruled that Melita Cable was obliged to block out Rai and other channels because it did not have distribution rights for the soccer programmes. too true. Only question is that Melita Cable had been distributing the aforesaid programmes before it decided to set up its pay per view system. Where was the MCA at the time? So the MCA does not intervene to stop the flgrant violation of distribution rights but will, in the interests of competition, ratify a move that will only benefit the coffers of the monopolist. Unless you posses an eighties style aerial that is. (Rai cannot crypt the airwaves (yet)).

In Sports
Lionel Messi became the 89th Argentinian outlined by Diego Armando Crackadona as his successor.

Normality repristinated. Fuck yeah!


I still do not know what triggered off Mark's bilious outburst or his Tony Zarb attempt to put a cap to it. That's not important any more. At least not from this perspective. What it did trigger off in turn however was controversy. And the blogosphere once again exhibited Maltese (and Gozitan) traits. Solidarity with one side or (I expect) another would only be expresed privately. Ghax hadd ma jindahal. (because nobody intereferes). Disgust could be sniffed across the field - from London to Brussels to Luxembore to Bubaqra. The comments on the original outburst limited themselves to issues of linguistic coinage - it was tantamount to someone meeting someone else naked in the street and commenting about the weather. Sad indeed. You had two individuals in your midst expressing discontent with the state of the blogosphere and the rest preferred ignorant bliss. See Fausto... this is what pissed me off about the survey of happiness. It is this kind of ignorant happiness that reigns.

The feeblest attempt at taking sides (and I take my hat off to that - if David permits me this branlage) was Toni's "u hallik mill-wankellettwali". It was the only attempt. A mini-endorsement in the sea of bahh. Futbolite/accolyte tried a "u le tiggieldux jahasra" (please don't fight) thing in his blog. Admirable, but very Maltese and solves nothing. I liked nigredo best. His personal outburst was his perspective of things entitled Because (ghax). Oh. i loved Vlad's "What are you two queens on about?" - but that was about the dolly issue not the bilious repartees.

Now some may ask how self-important j'accuse is feeling again. Of course. You are entitled to. Thing is that this "controversy" like all controversies attracted its viewers. The second highest number of hits ever since Bocca mentioned j'accuse on the times. 350 hits in one day and 290 the day before. Surely not passers by? No. People feed off controversy, anger and heated debate like there is no tomorrow. Voyeurism is one problem. But I take issue with a bigger one. An ability to find (and moan privately about) problems but never, ever even thinking positively about solving them. If not solving them taking sides. See the Euro Committee. They surely must have noticed that the public opinion is not exactly four square behind the Jesus thing. But they stick to the "democratic survey" of sms maniacs. See our country. Surely we have noticed by now that year in year out we are run by a horde of wannabe statesmen... but we keep giving them number 1.

Fear and loathing have no place on the blogosphere as much as they have no place anywhere else. Thing is we have to have a bit of what mark call's the bull's equipment. Not to "fare i cazzi nostri" no. But to call a spade a spade. We chose to walk out onto the blogosphere and I love you all for that. I use that word specifically. I love every single one who takes up this medium and day in day out chooses expression against silence. Speak out. Do not be afraid to say what you think. Do not be afraid to say that you liked a book even if you did not study literature at the glorious enlightened University of Malta. Even worse do not be afraid to say that the book was shit. Same goes for wannabe djs, wannabe philosophers, wannabe lawyers and wannabe anythings. The list is endless. You know that you may be wrong. You know that deep down the whole world might disagree with you. But will you risk, for one moment, depriving the world of something that may in the end be right?

I choose not to.

So hold on hard to your middle finger and practice directing it surely in the general direction of whatever it is you want to talk about today. Do so lightly. Remember the joy of living. Take nothing too seriously except life and love and soon you will get the hang of it.When people deride or make fun, look hard till you see the joke. There is always a reason to smile. Either because you see the joke (it was good but you do not have to admit it), or because their joke was so helpless that the attempt itself was hilarious. Smile smile smile. That is what I learnt from Benigni. He was called useless, vulgar and ignorant. He fought back with love - and a heavy dose of humour and smiling. I love it.

Don't you? Say it then!

* thanks for the hits. j'accuse is ever closer to reaching the 50,000 target in one year of counting (4th april). the controversy did give birth to a baby - the laughing fit which will be a blog dedicated to satire and humour. finally march 10th will see the birth of my blog in maltese - kinnie&twistees. bollettino will also return from hibernation on march 10th.
** kenneth. if you are reading is, david of Hello Dolly fame needs a lesson in justification of posts. Once he decides that something must be centred all the post follows suit even though it is evident that it was not the intention. He said he does not have a clue what I am on about. But there is nothing new in that either. :) (the smiley - what a nice sign)
*** All blogs mentioned on this post may be accessed via the Pull Down "Blog Boulevard" menu in the side-bar.

so long and thanks for the hits!

Controversy (Prince)
I just can’t believe all the things people say -- controversy
Am I black or white? am I straight or gay? -- controversy
Do I believe in god? do I believe in me? -- controversy
Controversy controversy
I can’t understand human curiosity -- controversy
Was it good for you? was I what you wanted me to be? -- controversy
Do you get high? does your daddy cry? -- controversy
Controversy controversy

Do I believe in god? do I believe in me?
Some people wanna die so they can be free
(I said) life is just a game, we’re all just the you wanna play?
Controversy controversy controversy
Controversy controversy controversy

Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever
Controversy controversy controversy controversy
Love him, love him baby
Controversy controversy controversy
Controversy controversy controversy

People call me rude, I wish we were all nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules
(repeat 3 times)
Controversy controversy

Do I believe in god? do I believe in me? let me tell ya...
Some people wanna die so they can be free
(I said) life is just a game, we’re all just the same...don’t ya wanna play?
Controversy controversy controversy controversy

jeudi, février 23, 2006

Pleased As Punch

You know the thing with jokes?
They're all about the punch line. :) :) :) :)
- Jacques René Zammit (comedian/purcinell)

Just to clarify a few things I left pending in the last post. Firstly, the term wankellectual was not invented for Mark (that would be too much would it?). I am afraid the honour goes to a forgotten person in the pre-blogging days one drunken night at misfits. The term was invented in the company of Tufigno the other lawyer.

Secondly, I note that David (seems he does not like being called dolly what with his gf reading and all) deemed it necessary to tip his hat off to me for being a naughty boy. You can keep your hat on David. There was no need for the bilious excretion by the misunderstood poet for you to note that. The declaration of intent (of naughtiness if you will) was always there to be seen. Check out the Kinnie Generation post (and the word of warning) way back (haha sound like Toni "u hallik mill-wankellettwali") on 10th March 2005. Naughty naughty... but he (j'accuse) can be ebeneezer goode. No probs David, we move on. The tough upbringing of the law course does give us a thick outer skin that others would (not) dream of having. Just take it easy on the salt...

Thirdly, we have started a sweet (beautiful, elegant and subtle too) campaign that is not a campaign. Pulcinella's mask will adorn J'accuse until carnival is gone. Some might need a reminder of the tradition behind carnival. The reign of stupidity and ignorance before the time of meditation. Chaos before the silence. That silence that can sometimes be wise and sometimes presumptious. We will sit back and wait... till the next punch line beckons tastily and we will pounce on the opportunity.

Punch anyone? (Some love to drink it)

mercredi, février 22, 2006

Apologia Pro Poemate Suii

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The supposed martyrs of this world are not only those who are busy strapping dynamite to themselves and running off to a busy market and pressing the button. No. There are many others who under the guise of righteous violence see themselves in the role of the objective adjudicator who has the power to condemn the actions of others because in their eyes it is not right. They are "forced" into acts of violence because the misbeliever, the heathen, is not converted to their ways. He sees differently and acts, writes or lives a different song. In their minds it is not only the Kingdom of Heaven that should be denied this heathen but also the worldly right to exist and breathe. They are the Fists of God (il-ponn t'Alla). That fist that judges, decrees and then excuses itself with some mystical trumped up story - that the berserk feeling of being worked up did not let them see straight when all the violence was unleashed. Yet they are pure. Yet they did not cast stones. Because they are the poetic martyrs and their actions are the violent yet poetic summation of all things righteous. And they will throw in a swear word or two just to show you they are on your side. On the side of the common people.

They will be silent for long periods. Musing whether their last tantrum had the desired effect: whether these poor sad bastards who do not coin words but insults, whether these satyrs of today's world (do note the term satyr - he was never nice - goat's feet, horns and all) have learnt the lesson that is basically what? Oh the lesson, the lesson. We had to learn that it is not right to jest. It is not right to poke fun. It is not right to laugh. At least not at everyone. There is a line to be drawn. We were asked to let their light shine undisturbed. We were told to fade away because in our presence their poetic totality was not fulfilled. And they were silent while we retreated. They will say it is because they will know when to be silent. Because he who speaks too much is a bit like Pulcinella trying to opine about everything. So we may be. So why read? Why continue to read the useless and inconsequential? We never said that we wrote to be read. Maybe it could be the newfound camaraderie with fellow shining poets of the new enlightenment. Those who we dare not describe with adjectives ending in Y. In their anger we are swept out of the realm of sweetness, beauty, elegance, subtelty, discretion and anger. It seems we are only capable of slander. Beauty we guess is only in the eye of the beholder - slander on the other hand seems to be the prerogative of the martyr. The excuse to burn. We tried to keep away instead we find, once again, vituperous attacks of unjustified bile. Which part of them is elegant, sweet or beautiful is beyond our pulcinella mind. We try to find something funny. But the violence is as blinding as our shining beacon of all-knowing satyre.

And then there's the wankellectual. He will be. Like the geek. The term is there to be vilified liked and disliked. Do your own dicks (fatti i cazzi tuoi). Practice what you preach. Don't give us this martyr bullshit. This violence masked in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable. To dirty the water you drink from (dardartna). We stopped drinking water ages ago. We're into juices now. They're colourful like the humour and the carnival. We write what we think and will not be coerced to do otherwise. No Alliance of Self-Righteous Poetic Martyrs will force anyone to be quiet. And by the way... to be called wankellectual does not imply that you are being called intellectual. Remember the definition? Wannabe intellectual. But that is a long story and alas it does not involve male organs so it would not be too interesting for some.

And now it is our turn to speak. Not to reply... to speak. That the blogosphere has been poisoned could be felt. We have collectively proven that these islanders cannot help replicating the prejudices and fears into the net. That the to shine we insist that others are dimmed. That to move up we need to dislodge the ladders upon which the others rest. That the old battle lines and old fears will merely be redrawn and like the rest of the country we will go to the dumps. It is unfortunate as the new SKIP is born today that I write of this negative side of the blogosfera. Mark and I never recovered from our tiff some months ago (as I predicted). The battlelines were dug too deep to detrench so fast. The old guard (and here I arbitrarily put blogs into the Before J'Accuse and After J'Accuse categories) held on but spluttered its own disgust regularly. It is a pity. We tried to inject the project with vitality various times. Only to find that this would be seen as taking the lead and provoked boycott from supposed mature bloggers (or bloggeja) of this planet. Numbers will not count. 200 visitors and 120 unqiue visitors daily mean nothing at all in Technorati standards. We went on because we liked it. We could not help pulling legs, pointing out ironies and sarcastically provoking. We know that at the bottom of the negative reactions is not our sarcasm or our humour that is not liked. It is deeper wounds and divides. That hatred of anything lawyer (ghax ma jifhimx fil-litteratura - God help me), that constant picking on Maltatoday that seems to be such a big deal, that San Alwigi bullshit. Baggage, you see, that cannot be rid of.

J'Accuse will continue. J'accuse began as a pain in the butt. Some butts are more sensitive than others. We will not tolerate violence or attempts to silence us. We have said this once and will say it again. The moment we stop writing we stop being. We are not hypocrites. J'accuse began as one man band. And so it intends to continue. We toast to life and toast to good humour and good health....

...ours is a Kinnie
... don't know what you are drinking (tixrobha)
... and quite frankly

....we couldn't give a fuck.

P.S. Our birthday (at J'Accuse) is on the 10th March 2006 when J'accuse turns one. We will not lie awake for the postman. Sweet dreams.

50 Most Wanted

Inspired by my last post, here is a preliminary list of the first 50 people that came to my mind when I thought of who I would like to meet most. Memory is not what it used to be and I am sure it needs adjusting as I remember and reflect. As it is, this is the raw version - unedited and uncut as it flowed off my mind onto paper. The criteria were mainly that the person had to be living, that time would be spent chatting about this and that, and that groups or teams tend to count as one person or meeting. So here it is... the Master comes first of course:

1. Roberto Benigni
2. Terry Pratchett
3. Aldo, Giovanni & Giacomo
4. Edward Norton
5. Gialappa's
6. Rowan Atkinson
7. Umberto Eco
8. John Cleese
9. Dame Judi Dench
10. Lorenzo Cherubini (Jovanotti)

11. Quentin Tarantino
12. Arwen (Liv Tyler – in character)
13. Eddie Murphy
14. Paolo Villaggio
15. Billy Connolly
16. J.H.H. Weiler*
17. Sacha Baron Cohen
18. Paolo Rossi (the comedian)
19. Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie (in comic duo formation)
20. Robert De Niro

21. Alessandro Del Piero
22. Beastie Boys
23. The Brazil National Football Team (in a World Cup Half-time)
24. Dario Fo* & Franca Rame
25. Paolo Bonolis & Luca Laurenti
26. Monica Bellucci
27. Isabelle Adjani
28. Simona Ventura
29. Heather Parisi
30. Eddie Izzard

31. Bill Gates & Richard Branson
32. Claudio Bisio, Michelle Hunziker & Alba Parietti
33. Dalai Lama
34. Adriano Celentano
35. Enrico Montesano
36. Gigi Proietti
37. Dude from the Big Lebowski
38. Romario & Pelé
39. Samuel L. Jackson & Forest Whitaker
40. Moggi, Giraudo & Bettega

41. Paolo Coelho
42. Black Eyed Peas
43. The Fugees
44. Madonna
45. Roman Abramovich
46. Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt
47. Diego Abatantuono
48. Christophe Aléveque
49. John Nash (the man behind A Beautiful Mind)
50. The Friends troupe

* Already met. (48 to go)

Everything but the Wolf

Not a wolf. Definitely not a wolf. In the sporting world that is tantamount to blasphemy. The nonwhingeing side of the world prefer the zebra - darting forward and untameable (indomabile). But enough of that baa-business.

Those of you who are lucky enough to have the Mediaset channels will have certainly tuned in to the last episode of Il Senso della Vita hosted by Bonolis. Yesterday's climax featured none other than the person whom Bonolis called "Il Maestro Benigni". What ensued was over an hour of autobiographical commentary by the Master ranging from his relationships with Jim Jarmusch, Nicoletta Braschi, Enrico Berlinguer, Azeglio Ciampi, Karol Woytyla to his oscar winning performances. I loved the descriptions of Vergaio and Misericordia - the two villages of his childhood. You glow with a southern pride when you hear the ambience of the villages which contributed to the development of the child comic. You could not but feel a part of the bar where they met to create the "Ottavine" those improvised rhymes about political topics where one performer would try to outrhyme the other. That too is part of our heritage... that too is part of what the common people could be when at their best.

There is something about Benigni that makes him superhuman. It could be his simplicity. Whatever it is, if I had to make a list of the persons I would definitely want to meet... Maestro Benigni would top the list.

mardi, février 21, 2006

ROTFLMAO (Clown Bores)

Dolly just can't get it. Geddit? (tee-hee)

That's it zygote, another original idea innit. Do your own thing. (tee-hee-too)

Who ever mentioned what was being cloned anyway? The zygote got carried away. Just coz j'abuse has delusions of grandeur means not that he is the only source of the cloning project. Or does it? (villanous laugh as thunder rolls).

Clone On Dolly! Clone On!
signed: the Renaissance Gozitan (bil-firilla (sic) barra)

PS It's getting boring and Dolly is getting too touchy. Time to find another victim soon. Looks around nastily. Quick... duck... or sheep.... buahahahaaha!

Contra Bonos Mores

Morality and values seem to be all over the place. Or maybe nowhere. The problem with discovering a society's values may also lie with discovering that it is the value of the median or "common people". The phronimos or "practically wise" man is not always found in abundance. Everybody believes he is a spoudaios of some kind. We have little time for the philo-sophos of this world. We judge and scatter judgements as best the horde deems fit. So it is to the rule of the "common people". Forget Greek, let's just call them the "lower bourgeoisie". (Look at that, the English lingo can be as deficient as the Malti sometimes!).

Thus it has come to be that in the Osterreich home of tolerance and Mozart we have had Mr Irving jailed for his persistent denial of the Holocaust. What kind of freedom of expression is that? It has rightly been held that the best punishment would be to disprove the bugger than let him suffer the martyr's cause in some prison near Salzburg. Holocaust denial - contra bonos mores?

In that same country (Osterreich - currently of the doped skiers fame - that is what is called a useless info drop in Maltatoday style) billboards that were deemed to be too pornographic were removed from the streets of Vienna. They pictured among others, Chirac, Queen E II and Bush having sex. The artist claimed he had a vision of the leaders having an orgy while everything around them decays. Censored. Too pornographic (porno- & - graphos) - Contra bones mores?

In the Southern hemisphere things are not going too well either. A Bishop in Wellington has urged viewers to boycott a NZ TV channel because it is due to broadcast an episode of South Park which shows a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding that is taken to be a miracle until the Pope pronounces it to be menstruation. Censored. Too offensive - contra bonos mores?

In the good old UK an intrepid couple walked the length of the main island of Britain from Land's End to John O'Groats. Only thing is that they did it in the nude. Nekked. The male part of this nude mobile consortium was arrested nine times. The exhibition of his pudenda were not well appreciated by the Nick. The female part, graciously blonde and with a well-rounded set of buttocks was arrested five times in the same quest over the same time. We might be detecting a tad bit of discrimination and a slight variation in the bonos mores in the UK when it comes to treating the fairer (and well curved) sex. The couple are pictured at the end of the post at their final destination point (that's the North of Scotland... in February! - original photo in the Guardian Online).

And once we are on the subject of backsides we might as well refer to the latest update on the Dolly's Zygote page. The backside is just where he picked up the last post called "The Common People". At no point did we express any judgement on whether the Zygote was for or against the jesus on coin thingy or whether the question of honesty was in doubt. Our issue was mainly about the Common People and their treatment and maybe reflected our resentment (and we are not very proud of this) of the fact that the common people gets to dip its finger in many a decision were it couldn't tell a rat's ass from a zygote's spectacles. Abusive? Maybe. Offensive? Probably not. Contra bonos mores? Ah. I'm still wondering about who we are to decide that one. Over to you dolly. :-)

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The Common People

David over at dolly's zygote took I.M.Beck to task for his seemingly anti-democratic dismissal of the religious fanatic's wishes to put Jesus on the jingle. Another who often gives me the impression that the "great unwashed" should be invited for a collective shower and clean up session before being allowed to venture into the world of savants and wankellectuals is KZT in the Times. I find myself agreeing with Kenneth's article today. The "minglish" argument is one where many are prevented from calling a spade a spade. It's a case of "kullhad jifhem, kullhadd jghid tieghu, u mitt bniedem mitt fehma".

I loved Kenneth's statement which I quote directly:

"It is inevitable, when one lives in a tiny community like Malta and one that for thousands of years formed part of another empire or another country, that there should be this insecurity about what defines us culturally"

Maybe sometimes we worry too much about being the common people.

lundi, février 20, 2006


Just back from the movies with Mel. This one is a wonderful breath of fresh air. Dame Dench at her "delicious" best and Bob Hoskins in magnificent form. The kind of film that brings out the good laughs and the fake nostalgia for an epoch that you never witnessed directly. It chronicles another minor battle of values in the wartime years - the kind of minor battles that got us to where we are before being able to express yourself meant tiptoeing around a minefield of sensibillities and at a time when being creative was meant to be good.

Watch it, watch it ...

There's music,and there's Vaudeville,
there's showbiz, wit and the blitz,
and for those who still don't get the thrill
...... there's loads and loads of tits! :)



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While looking for an answer to a clue in today's crossword on the Guardian I ended up on a wiki about a little known (to us) Greek island called Gavdos. Read it here. I could not help noticing similarity between this Gavdos and my Gozo - particularly the Turkish rendition of the name to "Gondzo" and the story of Calypso Cave and Ogygia.

So the question now is... which Gozo/Gondzo/Gavlos was it? And more importantly will we build a bridge to Crete too?

Times Editorial: What hallucinogens?

Not much time to go into the detail but today's TOM Editorial requires attention - if only since it looks like a rare example of writing under the influence. The influence that I refer to is not one of some heavy handed political party or some benevolent sponsor but of hallucinogens and drugs. The theme is the ever elusive Bridge to Gozo. The bridge that eluded Mintoff and his engineers from the Far East. The editor seems to justify a bridge to Gozo because we need to speed up the rate of destruction of the sister island. The ratio behind this is that since the Gozitans seem to have developed an uncanny efficiency at environment busting why not build a bridge and join in the fun.

And just when you think the natural high is all over the editorial comes out with this pearl of wisdom:

"However, it is undeniable that the existing ferries will get old and the government should start thinking from now what it is going to do to replace them. A tunnel would no doubt be the best option, providing it is doable. But the issue should be looked at in a holistic manner and not just with Gozo in mind. It should preferably stretch from the sister island to Valletta, branching out in between. What a bridge that would be! Why not set up a mixed technical project team to look into the matter?"

Sounds a bit like Frank Salt to me. Then we wonder how Lorna gets to be printed. I pass the paper to Vlad and Fausto for their usual breakdowns (of the material not of themselves).

Addenda: After I posted today's quill I noted that my posts of Saturday and Sunday have mysterioulsy disappeared. There was J'Ose #5 and Saturday's post which escapes me right now. Did those posts really exist? Have they been censored? If any of youy guys read them please let me know... otherwise I might just have been hallucinating!

vendredi, février 17, 2006

Kinnie & Twistees - the trailer





dan u iktar f'KINNIE & TWISTEES
kif tista' ma taqrahx?

(18) Dan il-programm huwa intenzjonat ghal udjenzi kbar u tolleranti. Kull offiza li tista' tittiehed hija gratuwita u l-awtur jirrizerva d-dritt li jiehu passi legali sabiex l-offiza tigi ripristinata kif suppost. Il-prodotti KINNIE u TWISTEES huma marki registrati ta' Simonds Farsons Cisk u Darryl Lea Foods rispettivament u dan il-programm ma ghandu xejn x'jaqsam maghhom. Min ma jeghgbux jista' jixrub il-coca u jiekol il-krips.


jeudi, février 16, 2006

Sibtijiet Flimkien (l-ahhar ep.)

Ilna ma nhazzu kelmtejn bil-Malti. Hassejt li dan il-post ghandu ikun bil-Malti ghaliex huwa l-erba' mitt wiehed fuq l-akkuza. Ghadha ma ghaddietx sena mindu bdejt inharbex u nehda fuq l-eteru (daqt ikollna il-berdej pero... jidhirli fl-ghaxra tax-xahar id-diehel). Insomma, din ir-rubrika ma kenitx regolari daqs kemm forsi xtaqt. Il-problema ma kenitx li ma kellix x'nikteb izda l-kuntrarju. Tant kont naghmel noti mentali li "din tajba ghal SF" li fl-ahhar meta kont inpoggi biex nikteb kont nibela' mill-ammont ta' informazzjoni li kelli nnizzel u nispicca naghmel hag'ohra ta' malajr.

Ghalhekk qatt ma inkiteb dak il-post dwar Franza u l-Francizi. Dwar il-hajja fil-villaggini z-zghar tal-Lorraine u dwar l-ikel regjonali fi Franza. Ghalhekk qatt ma wasalna biex tkellimna dwar il-faccati kollha tat-tolleranza u l-inkluzjoni. Ghalhekk ma rnexxilniex nidhlu iktar fil-fond dwar ir-realtajiet Lussemburgizi. Il-fatt hu li ma kellniex hin u qisu jekk ma tahtafx ic-cans dak il-hin l-ghasafar itiru u int tibqa' b'xejn. Ciku briku. X'taghmel.

Illum ma nistax f'daqqa wahda nirkupra dak li intilef. Li se naghmel biss hu li naghlaq ir-rubrika Sibtijiet Flimkien biex niftah ohra. Qisu stagun gdid fuq it-tv. Stagun bhal dak li ma kienx ikollna fil-bidu tat-tmeninijiet meta l-ghazla kienet wahda u l-istation manager ma kellux ghalfejn jikkompeti ma stazzjonijiet ohrajn ta' kwalita' bhas-Superwann u nattv. Stagun li forsi kont titfaghlu xi Fawlty Towers special ghall-ghid. Tinisiex il-films kbar bhal "The Robe" u "Jesus of Nazareth". Avolja ghandu x'jghidli li dawk il-klassici biblici kollha kont narahom l-Astra Cinema li invarjabilment fil-jiem qabel l-Ghid kien jittrasforma ruhu f'centru ta duttrina religjuza medjatika u bejn pizza hoxna tqattar iz-zejt sa minkbejk u coca cola bl-istraw qasira zzejjed kont tibqa ticcassa lejn il-Kristu ta Zeffirelli filwaqt li jiftah hanxra daqsiex ma kull musmar li dahhlulu. Imbaghad girja lejn id-dar ha taghmel "reenaction" b'huk fil-parti martorjali u int pront bil-martell u musmar. (Dahk sadiku).

Qed nghaggel pero. Insejt il-Karnival tar-Rabat. Hames snin di seguito liebes ta' Indian malandat filwaqt li kull sena ir-rix ta fuq rasi dejjem jonqsu u jitbielu qishom cinju wara laqgha ma' kumitat nassaba konservazzjonisti. Iktar milli Geronimo kont inkun qisni pappagall bl-influwenza avjarja. Sadattant hija kien ikun Zorro (ukoll ghall-hames darba). Imnalla morna Hamleys fis-safra l-kbira tal-84. Gejna lura b'kostum kull wiehed - il-kavallier u l-viking. Mela rix sur kappillan! Halli li fuq l-arjuplan iktar kienu jidhru interessanti il-pakketti mini mars bars li xtrawlna il-genituri biex noqghodu kwieti waqt il-vjagg. B'dik il-kollezzjoni cikkulati min iz-zikk se jitniffes?

Qrajt fuq is-sit ta' Guze (sit helu u ghogbitni l-arroganza spudorata - hekk hemm bzonn xbin f'pajjiz imnejjek fejn kullhadd jahseb li jifhem - self-promotion in your face u thalli lil hadd jirfsek) li idolu minn tieghu kien Mintoff ghax ha lil Malta hafja imbaghad kaxkara lejn is-sebghinijiet fejn imbaghad l-uniku lment kien in-nuqqas ta' cikkulata. Insomma Guz ma naqbilx imma ghall-punt in-nuqqas ta cikkulata kienet anki metafora ghan-nuqqas ta' tieqa fuq dinja li kienet se taharbilna - id-dinja ta Hal-Kbir li iddeskriva tant sew l-idolu tieghek l-iehor li spicca midfun go 'mizbla'.

Bla ma ridt dort tidwira nobis ta' suggetti. U jien gejt hawn kemm biex nghidilkom li Sibtijiet Flimkien se jaghlaq hawn. Ir-rubrika gdida bil-Malti ma ddumx ma tigi. In-nostalgja tibqa' hemm imma se tiehu ukoll forma ohra - dik ta emigrat ihares lejn Malta li halla warajh filwaqt li l-qasma dejjem tidher li qed tikber. GHalissa hallejtkom b'hafna kliem u bis-sliem. Nghaddu ghal l-ahhar rokna ta' Nostalgja.

Tim tal-Gimgha: Valletta FC. Ghax ahjar mis-City m'hawnx. Jistghu isiru simpatici Marsaxlokk, tal-Birkirkara taf tkun blip storiku u dwar balzunetta ma nitkellmux. Storja recenti dik tas-seba trofej f'sena pero se tibqa immarkata fil-memorja tieghi bhal dik ta missieri jibki bil-ferh mar-rebha taljana tat-82. Warrbulna halli nghaddu mit-toroq ewlenin ... lil tal-Belt hadd ma jista ghalina.

Cikkulata tal-Gimgha: Catch. Li bejn cCokita u Husky kienet tidher bhala r-re ta cikkulajjet maltin.

Personalita tal-Gimgha: Charles Arrigo. Ma nafx x'naqbad nghid. Bhax-xemx dejjem kien hemm. Issa rridu nidraw minghajru. Forsi iktar milli nidraw nadattaw.

Annimal tal-gimgha: Thibault the bastard wonderdog. It-tieni kelb tieghi li inghata lili minn ex tfajla Sqallija b'konnesjonijiet suspetti mafjuzi. (Kellna ninfirdu kontra qalbi meta qaltli li habib taghha nstab mejjet wara li harqu u sparawlu go qalbu. Baggage I can take izda sa certu punt). Thibault kien ballun iswed ta' intelligenza soprafina. Ma kien jobdi lil hadd u kellu inipendenza assoluta. Irnexxielu isir ir-re indiskuss ta' Marsalforn u Paceville. Miet lejliet l-ezami tal-kriminal ftit qabel mal-Belt hadu s-seba trofew. Il-Mulej itih post helu fil-genna miksi bil-brekkies u hafna bitches.

Drama Troupe: JC Productions. Il-klann ta Tufigno li sena wara sena ipproducejna recti irrimati (u imbaghad ikkupjati) li gawdew bihom kullhadd. Mill-Apoteosi sal-Karneficina tghaddi via il-Kataklizma kienu kollha helwin. Linja memorabbli?

"Nahseb wegga... rather
Qahba kelba... kien il-Father!"

Offensive hux! Insomma hallejtkom ghalissa.


*ritratt: Charls Arrigo flimkien ma Gemma Portelli u Marcelle Castillo fi produzzjoni ta' Sei Personaggi in Cerca d'Autore (Pirandello). R-ritratt deher fit-Times ta' Malta u huwa mehud mill-kollezzjoni ta- Lino Farrugia.

1. Iddecidejt li r-rubrika l-gdida se nsemmiha "Kinnie & Twistees". Tant biex taghrfu timxu.
2. Ghal gabra ta' remixes inkredibbli bejn Beatles u Beasties morru hawn (grazzi Owen D).
3. Il-Clemencau issejjah lura Franza. It-trip to the Indian Ocean (via Suez) and back (Via Cape of Good Hope) se tiswa il-fuq minn zewg miljun ewro. L-iSvizzera tat zewg miljun ewri lil Malta bhala prank.

mercredi, février 15, 2006

Humour vs. Humour vs Blog

One of the first books in French that I bought on my arriving in Luxembourg was the "Dictionnaire de l'Humeur Juif". One thing I love about Jews is their sense of humour. I find in particular that God's chosen people, having been dealt with a destiny that is rife with misfortunes and sufferings have learnt to find humour in sadness. They learnt the basic formula - to laugh about life. For that the credibility of the jewish way of life increases tenfold from my point of view. Now this bit of news comes in (via Boing! Boing!).

An young man from Tel-Aviv working at Dinoma Comix followed the Mohammed cartoon controversy and noted the Iranian newspaper's competition for anti-jewish cartoons. The solution that he saw was to better them "on our own turf" as he so rightly put it. The result is an Israeli Anti-Semitic Contest in which Israeli cartoonists will show that no-one can laugh about themselves better than the Israelis. I'm with them on this one. I'm with anyone who knows how to laugh about himself.

On the subject of cartoons the lady at outloudandproud has a pretty nifty collection of satire about the Maltese. At 5 for Lm15 I think that the collection of prints is a bargain and I am thinking of ordering a set to display in the corridor at the Court of Justice. I really dig the cartoon about Dar Malta. On the other hand I wish her blog would be less aggressive to the eye. I guess it still has not settled but there seem to be too many differently formed banners and buttons all over the place. Which is a pity since it tends to detract from the humour of the site (which looks a bit like a female version ofRaphael's Saved from the Skip!). By the way, it looks like Raphael is all caught up in the six nations and has orphaned his blog since returning in January.

And once we are on the subject of new blogs, it seems that the Liberal trend is still on the high crest. New blogger, Pietru Caxaru calls himself a liberal too. There are many of us out there. Sometimes I wonder whether it would not be better to call ourselves libertarians. The liberals in the blogosphere seem to cover a wide spectrum from green-liberal, to left-liberal to right-liberal. The label has been watered down. Good luck to Caxaru - who also picked the white minima style as a template. It seems to be the most popular on the Maltese side of the blogosphere.

Another recent addition to the blogosphere, Vlad has continued his vituperous attacks on all things journalistic. I wondered for a second whether his allusion to a nameless author when criticising Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando was not to myself. But then that might be too presumptious of me and my blog. Wouldn't it?

The blogosphere, may I humbly report to all those doomsayers who were around a couple of months back, is healthy and running. Toni is still breaking new frontiers for all us humble backwater bloggers to wade into later on, Mark is still running a healthy banana factory, Pierre is still waxing lyrical about all things picturesque, Krizi is reformed into a leading thinker, Gybexi is still architecturally inclined to give us the alternative scene, D is still jazzing it all up and Maltagirl is still busy giving it all the feminine touch. Hsejjes and Athena love to pop around from time to time while Antonio is being harassed by anonymous comments - Maqluba has transformed into an anonymous commentator in his spare time and Guze still calls everyone fuckers. "Fucker"s I will say again in a hope that this paragraph will have to be censored if reproduced on WT that window on Malta on the net. Fausto has vanished (my suspicion is that he has better pseudonyms to deal with now), Sharon stutters and Zemp still complains regularly. The artist known as fup throws in an idea or two ever more constantly, Kenneth is getting over exam fever and justin comes up with a bio-friendly post every month.

healthy no? Ah yes... and then there is Lanzarote. The best clone since Dolly has been cloned for spoof. Pity no one noticed. Go here to see the latest creation in akkuzatnejn the site for spoofing the spoofers.

One last thing. I use bloglines to follow what's new in other blogs. It does not seem to always work. Any ideas for anything better?

And Gakbu Sfigho is not dead. Just hibernating.

PS It is pissing rain in Luxembourg. Which is a good sign because it means that the temperature gauge is above the 1 degree mark. But it is a bad sign because it means the humidity gauge is about to explode. Thought I might share that bright weather report with you.

mardi, février 14, 2006


When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
When you’re laughin’, when you’re laughin’
The sun comes shinin’ through

to M. - here's to the smile!
(with thanks to Louie and Frank)

Islamabad Burning

Protests against the cartoon blasphemers have apparently become daily routine in Islamabad Pakistan. Just in case anyone has been sealed in an airtight media unfriendly container for the past three weeks, the cartoon controversy was sparked by the publication of cartoons in European media. The Duh!merican media was very reticent and opted not to publish the inflammatory material out of prudence (which is not all that criticisable in the long run). Duh!mericans used to be known for their hesitation from taking immediate action - preferring to hit when the anvil is hot. Churchill will tell you a thing or two about that one. Only lately though they had chosen to strike whenever and ignore the anvil - just cook up a WMD or two and let's go. It ain't over till the prisoner is tortured.

But this was not meant to be an anti-duh! post. I would just like to know what the defenders of all the violent retaliation and what the justifiers of all the retribution meted out on the blasphemers have to say about the fact that the protesters in Islamabad are holding the Duh!merican embassy hostage. They are burning the star spangled banner. They are, in other words, burning the flag of the only nation that decided that prudence and religious respect would win over freedom of expression. Ironically, they are burning the flag of that western state that (apart from Malta) is the one which can most identify closely with religious fundamentalism.

In Peshawar the students attempted to attack the embassies of India (multi-ethnic, predominantly Hindu) and Great Britain (former colonial chief around these parts).

But then this was not always about religion wasn't it?

Flags mate. It's the business.

lundi, février 13, 2006

Lucraty Farts

Of course the word "lucraty" does not exist. Though you must admit that it's a tad bit funky and could soon be jazzed up to be the latest byword of the nashinalist party. Anyways it does serve its purpose to help elevate the word "farts" to the second part of a phrase that sounds very much like "lucrative arts" ... but isn't. A bit like what the nashinalist government, bereft of all ideas cultural seems to be achieving. The pee enn people are very very good at selling. Or at least they used to be. They can package an idea into a nice flashy parcel and before you can say "departure tax" you'll be voting for a shiny happy Malta again.

The huge flushing that hangs over Malta like the sword of damocles is designed to remove any semblance of government aided cultural development - no matter how wankellectual (got you there Zemp... this is the word you were looking for). From the revised, purpose driven, University of Malta full of profit-driven dons of the B. Comm and Economics age to the grand sacrificial lambs of Jazz and Theatre we are seeing a strategic withdrawal of public funding of the development of the mind and a equal but opposite investment into anything which develops the purse. Doesn't it remind you of all that talk of bringing in quality tourists and golf courses and such. Pee enn spin doctors are slipping somehow and the more time passes the more they are looking like money hungry jerks willing to sell their mother for an extra reduction in the deficit.

What is missing? Long-term planning of course. Because look at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, look at Nadur in its tiny simplicity. They too are full of wankellectuals and weirdos of the strangest kind. But ask the tourism Minister in Hibernia or Chris Said in Nadur whether an extra penny or so is not spent at such shows. But of course FZD is hell-bent on getting tribute bands and Elton Johns of this world. They are the future.

In the meantime we can only commiserate. Especially because in terms of actractiveness and long-term planning the only alternative to this government would be like installing the Ayatollah Komheini instead of a Saudi Prince gone wrong. From laissez-faire to what-I-felt like this morning politics. The wishy washy labourites would insist on giving him a try. Slowly slowly, and the more I am assured that I would not be part of the experiment, I am almost inclined to give in.

But right now the muscle and bustle is in the hands of FZD clan. They invest in lucraty farts. Decisions about such (f)arts are taken like this. A meeting somewhere in Dar Centrali or Cabinet decides we need new ideas in the arts. Someone in the back of the smokefilled room wants to desperately go home and watch the latest Champions league encounter and cannot stand FZDs long plans that seem to go nowehere. FZD does not care two hoots about footie (or rugby, or any sport that matters). So it is necessary to stop him. "Ghax ma tqabbadx lil xi hadd li jifhem fil-kultura bhal Lou? Dak ma jdoqqx il-kitarra ukoll?" (Why not ask someone who is well versed in culture like Lou? Doesn't he also play the guitar?"

Hence lucraty - "lou & cratic": The anointment of the perceived aristocracy of culture by the aristocracy of ignorance. "Why don't we tell Nigel... didn't he get Elton?". Soon it will be... "phone Hector Bruno for the next Shakespeare in San Anton... he was good on stage wasn't he? Lord how he made us all laugh. Remember that farting joke?"

Culture? It's all about the (f)arts.

dimanche, février 12, 2006

Non Sequitur #46

Carnival and Caricature

As Carnival and the revelling associated thereto approaches I remembered the provisions of the Code of Criminal laws - in particular the provisions relating to contraventions against public order. Minor crimes, but illegal nonetheless in Catholic Malta.

Code of Criminal Laws (Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta)
Extracts from article 338 which lists contraventions against public order.

338. Every person is guilty of a contravention against public order, who -

(l) taking advantage of the credulity of others, for the purpose of gain, pretends to be a diviner, fortune-teller
or an interpreter of dreams;

(n) in any public place, wears any mask, or disguises himself, except at the time and in the manner allowed by law;

(o) without permission, or against the prohibition of the respective authorities, wears any civil, naval, military or air force uniform, or any ecclesiastical habits or vestments;

(q) in the harbours, on the seashore or in any other public place, exposes himself naked or is indecently dressed;

(r) in any street, or open space, quarrels or fights, although jestingly, to the annoyance or injury of passers-by;

(s) drives animals (whether of burden or riding animals) over a drawbridge, with or without a vehicle, otherwise than at an amble;

(v) causes any physician, surgeon, obstetrician, or clergyman, to attend on or visit any person whom he falsely represents to be sick;

(w) leads an idle and vagrant life;

(bb) even though in a state of intoxication, publicly utters any obscene or indecent words, or makes obscene acts or gestures, or in any other manner not otherwise provided for in this Code, offends against public morality, propriety or decency;

(cc) runs violently in any street or open space, with the risk of running into and injuring other persons;

(dd) in any manner not otherwise provided for in this Code, wilfully disturbs the public good order or the public peace.


Contrary to popular belief, the prohibition of impersonation or caricaturisation of politicians is not included in the police laws or in the Criminal Code but are the rules of the organisers of il-Karnival ta' Malta. For offending caricatures suitable only for a mature audience go to Gozo... Nadur to be exact. If you do not like the idea or find it offensive in any way... a Nadur logo for drawing onto a flag to burn is available here (as is the full carnival programme which includes the new etnika show).

samedi, février 11, 2006

Non Sequitur #45

The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.


The highest scoring word in the English language game of Scrabble is 'Quartzy'. This will score 164 points if played across a red triple-word square with the Z on a light blue double-letter square. It will score 162 points if played across two pink double-word squares with the Q and the Y on those squares. 'Bezique' and 'Cazique' are next with a possible 161 points. All three words score an extra 50 points for having seven letters and therefore emptying the letter rack in one go.


The only 15 letter word in English that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.


There are only three world capitals that begin with the letter "O" in English: Ottawa, Canada; Oslo, Norway; and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.


The white part of your fingernail is called the lunula.


There are six words in the English language with the letter combination "uu." Muumuu, vacuum, continuum, duumvirate, duumvir and residuum.


The little lump of flesh just forward of your ear canal, right next to your temple, is called a tragus.


The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.


The last one begs the witty comment.... doesn't it?

vendredi, février 10, 2006

free speech

I write this post on the day of St. Paul's Shipwreck festivities. The feast of St.Paul brings to mind the lazy waking up on a public holiday, the late breakfast and the gradual shift to St. Paul's street in Valletta for the festa, the beer and the drink at San Pawl Nawfragu bar. So a toast to all the festa going folk who can afford to skeedle off to il-Belt for the Festa.

Here in the blogworld news trickles in slowly. I notice a new controversy involving Fabio Capello - the Juve coach. Apparently he made some remarks about Spain and the Franco regime and the reaction from the Hispanic press has been hysterical (though not, admittedly, that of burning Juve flags). Read Capello's clarification here. But also spare a thought for this new trend of feeling "offended" and "inflamed" by whatever someone else says or does. Be wary, be very wary. It is creeping in slowly and we will soon be seeing those who could never win an argument through logic and those who are dying to impose their values on other abusing of this new trend. They want to shut you up.

It is not a matter of being on one side (of a value) or another. It is a matter of being able to speak or not. It is not a matter of being a smoker or non-smoker but of being able to make the choice. I guess we are seeing the tip of the iceberg. And I am not just talking of Muslims. My vehement defence of the right to publish the cartoons could have been misinterpreted as some anti-Muslim stance - or anti-other values stance. Far from it. I am on the side of humour. That humour that teaches us to laugh about ourselves and that nothing is sacred that is human. Even if it is a very special kind of human. That human that can see a similarity between Mother Theresa (GBHS*)and E.T (MHAFAFLTPF**). In my personal set of values a good (very good) sense of humour lies high in the priority list. No laugh, no party, no life. And i apply it spiritually too.... because if our Creator did not intend us to enjoy this life and her gift to us... then I do not want to believe in her either.

And then there's this woman in Tanzania who leaves her son on a mat on the floor while she is out hanging the clothes. She comes back to find her child suckling on a dog. She goes hysterical. I'm sure she knows little of the history of Rome. That history that is shared by all of us and is of none of us to claim.

Which brings me back to Capello. I hated the guy when he was with Milan and worse with Roma. That was still when he fell foul of the conspiracy theorists in the Roma field. Those who believe that all evil begins and ends with Juve. I still don't particularly like the guy though I must admit he gets the best out of his teams. Last weekend he was in his old Roman self. Juve's penalty was definitely not one. The foul on Viera was inexistent. Capello did not have to reach into his roman past and come up with all that "Se l'arbitro ha visto il rigore c'era". Rubbish. Call a spade a spade. Thank God Pinturicchio finds it easier to score goals offside than from the 11 metre spot.

On the Rome side, the stadio Olimpico di Rieti was the theatre of arbitrarial errors in favour of the ever-victimised giallorossi. Totti did not seem at all angry when the referee whistled a non-existent penalty in his favour. The god of sportsmanship and intelligence was shown by the cameras trying to convince Chimenti that the penalty was as obvious as the 18 points that keep his team away from the peak. Being more used to having penalties awarded in his favour he found no difficulty in putting it away (punta - seems to have forgotten the teaspoon). But the next day the papers were all about Roma's newfound victorious streak. Strangely few mentioned the horrendous favours that Rometta had been granted. They too will forget and I can't wait to see their next banners of accusation. Falsi in bilancio, falsi in onestà. But we have learnt to expect the worst from Rometta.

That's my bit of free speech ranging from freedom to speak to freedom to criticise. I hope that within the next five years free humour will not have been driven underground. I really do hope that we will not come to an age of prohibition. otherwise even J'accuse can close shop!

*God Bless Her Soul.
**May He Always Find a Free Line to Phone From

Never Be Rude to an Arab
Never be rude to an Arab,
An Israeli or Saudi or Jew.
Never be rude to an Irishman
No matter what you do.
Never pull fun at a nigger,
A spic or a wop or a kraut,
And never poke fun at a [explosion]
[Later on]
Never be rude to a polack [Another explosion]
Music and lyrics by: Terry Jones

jeudi, février 09, 2006

Layer, Layer (TGIL)

She's at it again. She is barely out of her statistical analysis of Libel that she dives into another mire of statistical hogwash analysing election results in layers. Lorna the Vital Statistician is fast becoming a boring read. She has abandoned her dickensian assaults on the governmental lack of empathy for the poor worker. She has all but ceased her criticism of the dirty beggars at Valletta Gate. Most of all she has cut out all references to the latest gains of the not-so-weaker sex.

We are also being deprived of any Lornic descriptions of her hero. Instead for another two articles (at least) we are to be subjected to her objective analysis of the electoral results. No prizes for guessing what Lorna thinks about those who abstained from voting in the referendum. Unfortunately this kind of article laden with numerical juggling (and that leads us nowhere) is not half as exciting as her previous prose. We do get the occasional flicker of creative fantasy such as "notwithstanding this distribution of power the national government remains the one with the heaviest birthright."

And what to say about this paragraph?

"By time, LCs have mainly adopted the role of being those that pinpoint local(ity) problems, provide fly-by-night solutions to otherwise long-lasting inconveniences to quell citizens' ill-temper and act as buffer in case of crises."

LC is local council. Local(ity) problems are pinpointed. Fly-by-night solutions must be a new transport idea to avoid the early morning traffic on your way to work. Long-lasting inconveniences must be an MLPN government that lasts more than two terms. Quelling the citizen's temper might be achieved by making Lorna a compulsory daily read. Boff (as they say in France).

Anyway. The long and short is that TGIL is no longer what she used to be. The reproduction of statistics that is normally reserved to number crunchers at the Dar Centrali who would masturbate to a documentary about the US electoral system is not what I would call entertaining.

Where is the Lorna we all knew? This is a crises (sic). J'exige un buffer!

mercredi, février 08, 2006

Praise of Folly

Extracts from 'Civilisation' by Kenneth Clarke:

Early in his journalistic career he [Erasmus] produced a masterpiece - the Praise of Folly. He wrote it staying with his friend Thomas More, he said it took him a week, and I dare say it's true. He had an amazing fluency; and this time his whole being was engaged. It's not unlike Voltaire's Candide. To an intelligent man, human beings and human institutions really are intolerably stupid and there are times when his pent-up feelings of impatience and annoyance cannot be contained any longer. Erasmus' Praise of Folly was a dam-burst of this kind; it washed away everything: popes, kings, monks (of course), scholars, war, theology - the whole lot. (...) He goes very far - one wonders that it was tolerated; and it's interesting to see certain similarities with Leonardo as wehn Erasmus mocks those philosophers who 'speak with confidence about the creation of innumerable worlds, measuring sun, moon and stars, and never hesitating for a moment, as though they had been admitted into the secrets of creation: with whom and with whose conjectures nature is mightily amused'. In the ordinary way satire is a negative activaty, but there are times in the history of civilisation when it has a positive value, times when a glutinouos mixture of conformism and complacency holds the spirit down. This was the first time in history that a bright-minded intellectual exercise - something to make people stretch their minds, and think for themselves, and question everything - was made available to thousands of readers all over Europe.


Erasmus had seen enough of the religious life to know that the Church must be reformed, not only in its institutions but in its teachings. The great civiliser of Europe was aground, stranded on forms and vested interests.


(On the Peasant's Revolt) For example in the Lady Chapel at Ely, all the glass was smashed, and as the beautiful series of carvings of the Life of Virgin was in reach they knocked off every head - made a thorough job of it. I suppose the motive wasn't so much religious as an instinct to destroy anything comely, anything that reflected a state of mind that an unevloved man couldn't share. the existence of these incomprehensible values enraged them. But it had to happen. If civilisation was not to whither, or petrify, like the society of ancient Egypt, it had to draw life from deeper roots than those which nourished the intellectual and artistic triumphs of the Reneissance. And ultimately a new civilisation was created - but it was a civilisation not of the image, but of the word.

(and from Shakespeare)

Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
Why does thou lash that whore?
Strip thine own back;
Thou hotly lust to use her in that kind
For which thou whipst her...
None does offend, none - I say none.


A Daniel come to judgement!

"It is a characteristic of our people to express their religious feelings and worship the saints in a slightly peculiar manner which amuses foreign visitors. The bacchanalia of our feasts is one example; the image of the Baptism on the euro coin may perhaps be another. The pieces of silver, which represent the plutocratic kingdom, have nothing to do with the expression of faith and devotion to the saints. There are surely many other ways and means that are far better and more appropriate to reach that end."

Mgr Cauchi, Bishop Emeritus of Gozo.

Hallelujah! A Daniel indeed. Have I already said that this guy is Gozitan? Why does it always take a Gozitan to hammer some sense into this country of ours? Mgr Cauchi of the heavy accent has penned a sublime criticism of the result of the SMS vote which opted for Christ and the baptist on the Maltese euro. I only find fault in hiis definition of minorities and majorities when we are talking of 17,000 smses in a nation of 400,000 (and only 4,000 wanted the baptism).

On the other hand who can argue with the fact that both the Messiah and his anointer would be horrified to find themselves on a coin? Tajba din Nikol... ghogobtni wisq!

Read his article here.


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Then there's the self-loving Sant. Freddy not Toni. His latest contribution is entitled Priorities. Methinks that Freddy has one other thing in common with Toni... an undeclared love for the Eurovision. I am sure that, when asked, Freddy, like Toni, will declare that thankfully he is no longer really intrigued by the show. But, like Toni, dig into his words and deeds (sometimes a beach spade will do) and you will find clear symptoms of a Eurovision freak. In fact Freddy has taken to describing labour's plans as "doable"... I do(able) I do(able) I doooooooooooooo(able)...

Cooooooooool... Celentano é rock, la violenza é lenta ma Freddy é Eurovision!

mardi, février 07, 2006

Air Malta Grounds Snooker Champ

If, like me, you took some pride in the fact that the Snooker Malta Cup was on TV and publicising our nation across the ether think again. I enjoyed following the odd match on Eurosport and was even more pleased to hear the French commentators grumble with envy that their country does not host a spectacular event while la petite isle mediterranèenne does. I almost flew to Paris to punch up the commentator who was all gleeful about Higgins' food poisoning and who did all that was possible to insinuate that this was due to la nourriture maltaise. Such was my amour de la patrie.

But then today I open the Times. The English one of course. To read that Higgins and Doherty were both thrown off their Air Malta flight KM100 to Heathrow (7am) because of their state of inebriation. It seems that this inebriation went unnoticed with check-in, immigration and security but not with some stuck-up Brit tourist who sat just behind them. Once there state of drunkenness was pointed out to the Captain of the KM flight they were asked to disboard and wait for the next plane while they cooled off their spirits.

Well at least it seems that the biggest worry is whether Higgins and Doherty have tarnished the World Snooker Association's image. In the words of the Times:

"However, given that the Malta Cup, the first world-ranking tournament of the year, was partially sponsored by the Malta Tourism Authority, the news is bound to cause a degree of angst for the sport’s governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA)."

My guess is that WPBSA are worried whether MTA will cough up any cash for drunken champions next time round. No need to worry folks... the only taxes on travel around here go to people carrying a Maltese passport. Everyone else is encouraged to fly!

What makes a Maltese Cross indeed!

He Said it On Sunday (too)

"The MaltaToday survey published today about Charles Mangion and Tony Abela proves that what we think and write does not necessarily match what people out there perceive as good or bad. Such is life."

- Hogan, Maltatoday Editorial.

Meta Jaqa' c-Cpar II


Ittra ohra lil tal-Maqluba bi twegiba ghat-twegiba
(insomma nistghu nghidu li d-diskursata tkompli)

Ghaziz 'Polifonku' (ghax issa la harbet hekk hekk se tibqa)

Bdejt inwiegbek fis-sit tieghek imma giet bi twila (hafna bi twila) allura kelli ntellgha dawn il-punti hawn. Thabbilx rasek dwar offizi... kif ga ghidtlek jien ma nehux ghalija ghax qatt ma kelli rispett ghal min jiehu ghalih - qed niddiskutu u nafu li ma naqblux f'kollox bhal ma naf li ma intix ha taqbel b'dan li gej. Insomma hawn huma t-tlett punti. Ghad baqali nikteb tal-kostituzzjoni u baqali nikteb ohra gdida dwar l-ikoni u l-antropologija (ara kemm qed titfaghni lura!):

Tfajtni fl-istess keffa mal-Fausto u l-Buy Danish. Le jahasra. Mhux ghax Fausto ta'... ghax Buy Danish. Dik banalità assoluta... qatt ma ghogobni l-luncheon meat. Naf xi erba tfajliet li kienu jgawdu laham Daniz ghal xi zmien meta kien ghadu "trendy" però ma inix se nasal biex noqghod nippromwovi shopping spree ta' "I can't believe it's not Feta. Jien tellajt il-bandiera b'solidarjetà mal-poplu daniz. Poplu li bhalissa probabbli jixtieq li hu Malti, Kattolku u Latin ghax ikollu access ghal hafna iktar pajjizi jekk jixtieq jivvjaga (forsi jahsibha darbtejn meta jara lil Gonzo, Santo and the departure tax).

Those Innocent Bystanders (oooooh!)
Din tal-"hemm musulmani li jhobbu l-paci" argument tal-iskola. Niftakarhom jirrkuntawlna l-gwerra u n-Nazi imbaghad il-kwalifika "but the Germans are nice people" (ehe). U nghidlek ghalfejn qabel ma tifhimni hazin. Hemm nies ta' kull twemmin li jhobbu l-paci. Allura? Din l-idea helwa u interessanti li tappella ghall-empatija lejn min mhux involut hija biss diverzjoni. Nahseb li huwa ovvju li r-rabja hija diretta lejn dawk li qed jaghmlu l-istorbju u l-kjass. Dawk li trid u ma tridx qed jaghmlu dan bismallah.

Dan bhal meta nghidu x'injoranza grassa dawk l-iNsara li jridu l-Kristu fuq l-Ewro. Hemm hafna Nsara(bhali) li laqqas biss joholmuha haga bhal din. Allura ma nghidu xejn? Ma nghidux li din hija injoranza grassa hierga min interpretazzjoni ezagerta tal-Kristjanezmu (forma minnha veru, però Kristjanezmu tibqa!). Din tal-vittimizmu tal-mislem mhux involut hija mgebbda wisq. Hadd ma dahhlu fil-kredu (allahares iddahhal mislem fil-kredu - imma dik storja ohra) u hadd ma qallu xejn. Qed nitkellmu dwar il-mislem li johroqg f'Beirut, Kabul, Somalia, Baghdad,Tailandja u ohrajn bir-raghwa f'halqu. Dwar it-Tork li bi tpattija joqtollok patri. Dwar il-Palestinjan li jdurlek ghad-Daniza li sa ftit jiem qabel kient tiggieled mieghu kontra l-oppressjoni Izraelita. Li ssemmili il-Mislem li jrid il-paci qisek qed issemmili l-Amerikani li ma riedux il-gwerra fl-Irak... allura ma nikteb xejn kontra Bush ghax mhux l-Amerikani kollha xorta!!

U naslu ghall-karikatura. Helwa ghax ghandi idea ghal bloggata dwar l-ikoni. Imma ha nikkoncentraw fuq il-messagg. Xi drabi l-artist ma hux medium ta' messagg gdid izda riflessjoni tal-veritajiet tal-hajja kontemporanja. Xoghol l-artist (u hawn nuza t-term artist fis-sens wiesgha ta persuna li tesprimi ruhha f'wahda mill-arti- the Arts) ghandu ukoll jigi apprezzat f'dan il-mod. Il-karikaturist ukoll imur oltre u minbarra li jirrifletti dwar ir-realtajiet ikabbar il-kruha taghhom (jew deficenzi) b'effett li minkejja li generalment idahhaq iwassal ukoll ghal riflessjoni. Allura nerga ghal dak li staqsejtni:

"Imma x'inhu l-messaġġ ta' dik il-karikatura? Forsi tasal biex tgħidli li hija kwistjoni ta' interpretazzjoni, imma m'hemmx dubju li min skeċċjaha xtaq jgħaddi kumment mill-aktar negattiv dwar it-twemmin tal-musulmani." (my bold)

Iva min skeccjaha kellu kumment x'jaghmel li jinvolvi (ovvjament) it-twemmin musulman. Fid-dinja taghna Occidentali it-tip ta' osservazzjoni li ghamel hija permessa. Nasal biex nghid li t-tpingijiet tieghu irriflettew il-hsieb ta' hafna fil-Punent - hsieb li hafna jibizghu ilissnu fl-apert izda li qieghed hemm mistur fost hafna nies. Il-mistoqsija tieghek "riedx jaghmel kumment negattiv" hija superfluwa. Qisek qed tanalizza jekk Turner riedx jaghmel kumment negattiv meta pinga xemx safra. Turner dak ra u dak pinga. Hekk ukoll il-karikaturist.

Hemmhekk tibda il-kwistjoni tal-valuri. U dak li ktibt jien. Ir-reazzjoni hija kollox. Nistghu narawha bhala:

(1) offiza u rabja genwina musulmana (li konvint li tezisti u tajjeb li japologizzaw ghal din l-offiza- imma minix la se noqtol u lanqas immut ghal kawza bhal din);

(2) biza' ta xi hadd meta ifffaccjat mir-realta - ghax il-verità hi li karikatura bhal din qalet hafna dwar x'jahsbu wisq nies (tajjeb jew hazin) dwar id-direzzjoni tat-twemmin mislem u kif dan gie imtebba' minn realtajiet koroh moderni;

(3) nuqqas ta' komunikazzjoni - ghax fil-verità il-karikatura hi dik li hi.... karikatura. Ma nahsibx li min pingiha kellu f'mohhu il-precetti koranici u li ha joffendi (fis-sens religjuz) lill min jemmen b'dak il-mod. Nahseb li l-intenzjoni ta' offiza jekk qieghdha hemm hija ibbazata strettament fil-politika - il-politika tat-terrorist. U naf, forsi ma kellux il-karikaturist jhallat politika ma religjon. U forsi ghalhekk ghandhom l-ghadab ghalih il-misilmin li jridu l-paci....

Però ma rajtx nies f'Beirut, Baghdad, Kabul, Bangkok jipprotestaw kontra t-tahlit ta religjon u politika kull darba li xi hadd rabat bomba ma sidru u mar sploda ruhu f'isem allah.