Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Courtesy of one of those chain emails that people apparently send to just keep in touch when they haven't got anything to say.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Chocolatey, biscuity goodness

A new ad on British TV sees an oriental woman reaching up to a box on a high shelf in the photocopying room of an East Asian country. She thinks it would be a good idea to climb on top of the photocopier to reach up and so kneels on the glass copying surface. She inadvertently presses the  'make a hundred copies' button and her knees spread apart just as a man walks in. She is of course reaching up for Mikado, the brand new chocolate covered biscuit snack that would seem to have come from Asia, hence the Asians in the ad and the overtly sexual nature of the ad should tell you which Asian country these snacks originated from.

You might, if you live in Korea know Mikado better as Pepero. I instantly recognised them as the delicious biscuity snack that also happens to be so beloved by Koreans that they even have their own day, the 11th of November (you see when you write the numbers 11/11 it looks like sticks of Pepero, clever isn't it) I wanted to tell someone, to let them know that this amazing new snack innovation was not in fact new at all, it was from Korea. Well they aren't really from Korea at all, they are in fact Japanese and are called Pocky.

Lots of my students know that they come from Japan and  fortunately have no problem with this, which isn't always the case with Japan and Korea. Pocky came into being in the 1960's and eventually found their way across the Korea strait to take hold in Korea before making their way around the world and landing in the UK. On my most recent trip to the UK I was intent on bringing back a box to show people but couldn't find a single box in any of my local supermarkets, such is their popularity.

As I mentioned Pepero have their own day in Korea, a marketing coup whereby the 11th day of the 11th month is transformed into a day when men, women and children go mad for these little biscuit snacks and by them by the basket load. I just hope the cultural advisor, if such a role exists, to the Mikado people don't try and install a similar tradition in the UK. It was tried in Japan but didn't take off but I feel it would be very badly received in the UK (and other commonwealth nations) as the 11th of November already has a special significance, it is Remembrance Day, a day that commemorates the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. However delicious Mikado/Pepero/Pocky are, and they are very, they do not have a place on the 11th of November


Pain free births? No thanks, we're Christians.

Following on from the previous post about Hippocrates, I have read an interesting thing about child birth and Christians. 

The bible, that dusty old book of interesting stories, encourages painful childbirth. Well like a lot of things in the bible it doesn't so much encourage as demand a painful childbirth. Presumably all Christians subscribe to this, I mean it is their holy book. The book of Genesis says "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children" and refers to the punishment dished out by God to Eve for eating the fruit of the garden, which incidentally isn't referred to as an apple. She, and all women from then on, were to experience terrible pain in childbirth which essentially meant that anaesthetic was out. James Simpson, the man who experimented with chloroform as an anaesthetic for women during childbirth, and successfully used it on a woman was going against gods will when he did this, so we can all imagine where he ended up. It wasn't until Queen Victoria that the practise gained wide spread acceptance when she herself was given chloroform during the birth of her 8th child, prince Leopold. 


The father of medicine, Hippocrates was born on the Greek island of Cos and is famed for his code of ethics, part of which is still used today. Some medical schools, though not all, use parts of, though not all, of his moral code to encourage graduates to aspire to conduct befitting the spirit of Hippocrates. 

Fortunately ( for women that is) the entire oath isn't used. It seems to betray some of his personal politics and preferences, which may not be in the best interests of the 21st century woman. He is against euthanasia, seducing his patients (I hasten to add I think this is a good idea although I have met some very attractive doctors!)  and he doesn't think blabbing things "which ought not to be noised abroad" is a good idea. He is also against abortion (which is the part that I referred to not being so good for women.) 

He does hold teachers in high regard however. Part of the oath requires doctors to regard "him who shall have taught me this and even as one of my own parents" and "I will regard his offspring  even as my own brethren and will teach them this art without fee or covenant" So if one of your parents is a doctor, find their teacher and demand to be taught medicine for free and throw the Hippocratic oath at them, although you might have trouble convincing them if it is your mother that's the doc as the oath seems to only recognise men. Damn.

Don't expect your doctor to abide by any of the suggestions in the oath though as it appears that aside from the 'suggestions' that have been passed into the law, the rest are exactly that.

Thankfully pro choice medical care is freely available.  In some countries and states. The downside is that if such heathens will perform an abortion then who is to say they will respect the rest of the code, you could end up being euthanised and seduced too although probably not in that order.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

“Let there be light, drums, sound, guitar...let there be rock” And there was rock.

Oh my god was there rock.

PT Barnum may have been justified when he named his travelling circus 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and his lingering name and legacy seem to vindicate this but times change and so do tastes. His circus would, by today's standards be considered 'lame' by generation X.

Well generation X, Y and Z were about to have their socks rocked off! The LG arena in Birmingham, England was the latest in a long line of gigs for one of the biggest Rock outfits on the planet and tonight they had their own incarnation of 'The Greatest Show on Earth'. I have no doubt that PT Barnum himself would have had no option but to bow down and pay respect to the multimedia rock extravaganza that unfolded that night courtesy of ACDC.

These 5 old men, defying their surely aching limbs and joints, blasted out ear splitting track, one after another to the 11,000 crowd. The relatively intimate crowd did not dampen their

 enthusiasm or the rock and roll spirit that surged through the fingers of Angus Young and out of the ear bleedingly big speakers. The set, lasting around 90 minutes was the perfect mix of old and new material with all the showmanship that is expected from the greatest band on earth. Tickets were £40 which highlights the high regard in which the band hold their fans, especially when you hear about the prices charged by artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson. Demand for tickets far exceeded supply which meant I had to settle for a seat, not that there would be much sitting going on. The ticket came with a warning that 'People around you may stand' which seems to be a stupid legal disclaimer for anyone who accidentally wandered in and thought this was going to be a backstreet boys concert. 

Rosie, the 100ft inflatable woman made an appearance to accompany her song and led across the back of the stage masturbating and for the finale, cannons fired out across the audience as the band played their final track, the homage to the fans that is 'For those about to rock, we salute you'. During the concert Brian Johnson addressed the crowd and said “I wish you could see yourself” and we thought the same about them.

Lisa Simpson was once asked by pot head bus driver Otto how to spell ACDC. She confidently replied “A-C-D-C” to which he replied ” No, you left out the lightning bolt”.

ACDC did not leave out the lightning.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Britain's Got Talent. Hasn't it?

A very talented violinist recently made an impression on the judging panel on a British TV show. I'm not quite sure what kind of show it is actually, a talent show I suppose although the amount of actual talent on show is debatable. It's called Britain's Got Talent and members of the British public parade themselves around in front of a packed theatre and a panel of judges that consists of a disgraced former tabloid editor, a former...actress I suppose you would call her and Simon Cowell. The vast majority of these desperate, superficial people amuse the audience by making complete fools of themselves, inevitably get crucified by the judges and walk off the stage, usually indigent and defiant. Some people do have genuine talents, some of them exceptional and a few of these will go on to achieve greatness, well at least they will get their 15 minutes of fame or the modern equivalent, which seems to be appearing on the front of a tabloid newspaper for 15 minutes while the novelty of them wears off. Which surprisingly takes 15 minutes. Then they will release an autobiography and an exercise DVD before appearing at the opening of everything from restaurants to envelopes.

Sue Son is the aforementioned violinist and according to a newspaper article (I didn't actually watch the program, I have much, much better things to do like watching the grass grow or cleaning my belly button) her rendition of Vanessa Mae's 'Storm' was good enough to get her through to the next round of the competition. The overall winner will have the privilege of playing for a very old lady at the Royal Variety Performance.

Ms Son is originally from Korea and I can't wait to hear how the Korean media will have commented on this one, especially as the program is called 'Britain's Got Talent' and not 'Britain's Got Talent but we acknowledge the fact the one of the talents is from Korea'. She caused something of a media storm (in a tea cup) when she dumped her musical partner after they were branded "shite" (OK I branded them shite, but I paraphrased the judges). Son was advised to dump her partner for being "uber shite" (again paraphrasing) and was then invited back to audition on her own, an invitation she accepted. Suffice it to say they are not friends anymore, in fact her former friend has even taken the extreme step of 'de-friending' her on facebook, what a slap in the face that is for the Korean girl.

Well it is lonely at the top as they say but seeing as she is Korean she can count on the unwavering support of every man, woman and child in Korea and will soon be a national hero for putting ambition before friendship, after all she wouldn't want to waste all those long hours in that violin hagwon would she.

She also happens to be quite attractive, a fact surely not lost on the producers of the show and I am sure this will ultimately earn her more money than the violin ever will. Expect to see her holding up a bottle of soju on a TV screen near you soon.
Click here to see the original act
or here to see the Korean girl on her own.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Dangly Bits

After drinking far too much alcohol I usually wake up with a mouth that feels and smells like used cat litter. A few litres of water and several rounds of vigorous teeth scrubbing usually gets rid of the kitty litter mouth and I start to feel somewhere approaching normal again. After a recent night out, where alcohol played a major part in proceedings, I woke to find all the usual symptoms but I had trouble swallowing too. I inspected my mouth and throat in the mirror and discovered a swollen dangly bit, lazily resting on the back of my tongue where it should have been suspended from the roof of my mouth. My uvula (yoo- vyuu-luh) had swollen to at least twice its normal size and was doing its best to choke me to death from the inside. The uvula, as you may have deciphered is the dangly 'little grape' that hangs from the roof of your mouth and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the tonsils.

The fat little mass was just lying on the back of my tongue and worried me slightly. I had visions of it swelling more and more until it choked me to death, which would be a boring and shitty way to go. I am not at all a hypochondriac, in fact I rarely go to see a doctor unless I am expressly ordered by 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' but the thought of choking to death can bring about a change in attitude!

I phoned NHS direct, a 24 hour, nurse on a phone helpline for some advice and was told that "It will probably clear itself up" and that I was to phone an ambulance if it blocked my airway, presumably to wheeze down the line and have some call centre nurse listen to my final breath.

It turns out that dehydration, consuming alcohol, smoking, allergies and drugs, in particular snorting cocaine can all cause this relatively common complaint. So if your dangly bits suddenly swell up just drink a few litres of water and lay off the cocaine for a while.

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