Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Long Time Coming

Match hero Ronan O'Gara -from this side of the Atlantic it seems fitting that he was born in San Diego

Ever since I was an undergraduate in Cardiff in the early 1970s I've wanted to see an Irish Grand Slam. Back then the horribly partisan nature of the crowd at the (now defunct) Cardiff Arms Park made me pray for Welsh annihilation although I have to confess my vehemence may have been fueled by the fact that the average Taffy took me for an Englishman. Well anyway it was a long wait but worth it. Saturday's victory not only put paid to the Welsh in thrilling style (I was glued to BBC's Radio 5 Live -the best reporting I could find over here) but ended a 61 year drought for the Green -let's hope a second Grand Slam won't take so long.

As an aside, I've actually met, albeit briefly, the father of match hero Ronan O'Gara, who happens to be a prominent microbiologist. Oh well, so much for name dropping...

P.S. Just one more thing...for in case anyone thinks I'm being more cryptic than usual, I'm talking about Rugby and specifically The Six Nations Championship and Ireland's dominance of the competition this year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vanishing Point to Zabriskie Point

MD drives through Death Valley, California, Spring 1983

Today I'm going to take the leitmotif on Vanishing Point that has been swirling around several blogs recently in a slightly different direction. The Antonioni film Zabriskie Point was another early 70s cult classic that featured sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll packaged in an anti-establishment theme. Perhaps a little more arty than VP (heck, this is Antonioni for goodness sake -did anybody understand anything that went on in any of his films?) but it had its share of explosions and a fabulous soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd.

Both films were set in the California desert. Specifically, Zabriskie Point is located in Death Valley. Philippe Picavet has just reminded me of this amazing place. The photograph above was taken on my one and only visit twenty six years ago. Unfortunately I didn't get to drive it in a muscle car. I must revisit. Maybe next time I'll be in an E type Jaguar....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Going Green

Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!

Oh, and here's an essay I posted on my "Irishness" awhile back.

Is it Fun Being a Billionaire?

As I've said before, I don't usually do politics on this site although I can barely contain myself with the current misuse of bailout money. However, I'll let legal process and karma deal with the rapacious scoundrels of AIG, RBS and their ilk and save my rants for other time. In anycase I could hardly express myself better than Jon Stewart whose delicious annihilation of bloviating finance pundits is a joy to behold. And his eloquence in summing up the egregious Sir Allen Stanford is more than refreshing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vanishing Point Revisited

I know, I've just posted on this 1970s cult flick but a delightful piece of irony has come to light. Chuck Goolsbee keeps drawing my attention to this terrific piece of nonsense and in my usual nostalgia-driven obsessiveness I noticed something quite hilarious. If you the watch the above clip, you will notice a few frames from a scene (at 37 secs) in which our hero, Kowalski, is offered "anything" by an attractive young blonde lady who appears in the middle of nowhere, stark naked and riding a motorcycle (as I recall he was the consumate gentleman and declined). Well it transpires that the actress, one Gilda Texter, did little further acting but went on to have a very successful Hollywood career in Wardrobe Management and as a Costume Supervisor. It's a funny old world...!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bucking the Trend (1)

Game Changer
Nescafé Classic squares off against Starbucks' Via

Ah, Starbucks. I'm not sure how it's possible to screw up a business plan based on unrestricted sales of legal addictive stimulants to consenting adults but somehow the company has got itself into difficulties. And now some (doubtless overpaid) marketing whizz kid within the organisation has come up with a grand plan to save it from extinction. Or at least protect the obscenely large bonuses of the upper echelon Fat Cats (better not get me started here -I'll save some material for a another post). Anyway the answer to SBUX's current woes is not, as you might reasonably think, a new distribution and roasting system to stop the coffee tasting stale and burned* or perhaps a fair and equitable compensation system for all employees. Oh, no. It's...pause for drum roll...Instant Coffee! My goodness this is pure genius. I mean all the customer has to do capture the "Starbucks Experience", as I once saw it described, is add water. And here's the best bit. A 4 gram sachet of Via, enough for 1 cup is only $1.00. Yes, that's right a measley dollar. SBUX executives are calling this landmark devlopment a "Game Changer". I'm sure that in a recession people will be queuing up around the block to buy their packets of Via. Personally I'm going to stick with my Nescafé Classic as old habits die hard. And a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me that a 4 gm spoonful of this old standby equates to 10 cents a cup.

*A quick test of a free sample has revealed that Via does indeed accurately mirror the "Starbucks Experience" in the comfort of your own home: it tastes stale and burned just like the real thing!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mad Dog International: Site Visitors

MD&E is in it's 5th year and this is my 500th post. I've come a long way since noticing my first visitor (it took a month or so). Over the past week I've been recording the countries of origin of my visitors. The results are quite astonishing -see below. All the US states and 58 countries (61 if you count the constituent dominions of the UK). This is truly an international site. Welcome everybody, thank you for visiting and please keep dropping by. Oh, and this is where you are from:

1. Algeria
2. Argentina
3. Australia
4. Belgium
5. Bolivia
6. Bosnia and Herzegovina
7. Brazil
8. Bulgaria
9. Canada
10. Chile
11. China (mainland)
12. China (Hong Kong)
13. Colombia
14. Croatia
15. Czech Republic
16. Denmark
17. Egypt
18. Finland
19. France
20. Germany
21. Greece
22. Hungary
23. India
24. Indonesia
25. Iran
26. Ireland
27. Israel
28. Italy
29. Japan
30. Korea (South)
31. Latvia
32. Lithuania
33. Luxembourg
34. Mexico
35. Netherlands
36. New Zealand
37. Norway
38. Phillipines
39. Poland
40. Portugal
41. Romania
42. Russia
43. Saudi Arabia
44. Singapore
45. Sweden
46. Slovakia
47. Slovenia
48. South Africa
49. Spain
50. Switzerland
51. Taiwan
52. Thailand
53. Trinidad & Tobago
54. Turkey
55. UK (inc. Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland)
56. Ukraine
57. USA (all 50 states)
58. Venezuela

Update: As of 31st March, I've also had visits from Bahrain, China (Macau), Costa Rica, Estonia, Iceland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Tunisia and Vietnam.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vanishing Point

Goodness, I can't believe it's been a week since my last post but life has once again caught up with me and insisted that I do things other than blogging. So forgive me for this placeholder even though it's quite an entertaining one. I blame Chuck Goolsbee, friend, fellow petrolhead and "road scholar" (geddit?) for reminding me about this piece of early 70's nostalgia. I mean what formula for a cult film works better than sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll set against an anti-establishment backdrop and combined with a suicidal car chase? Fantastic stuff, indeed.

Incidently the music is by the excellent Bob Segarini and Randy Bishop who must be one of the most under-rated combos of all time.