Bill Murray on dying

“You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re goin’ out there with just a whisper of an idea.”

Half decent Bill Murray interview in Esquire; I’d say he’s earned the right to give the kind of advice you’d imagine Hemingway would.

What is David Cameron an expression of?

“You know, when they forced Khruschev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said – ‘When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter’. Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said – ‘Blame everything on me’. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said – ‘Sit down, and write two letters’” – An old anecdote, quoted in Traffic

Barack Obama needed a response to the loss of Teddy Kennedy’s old seat to the Republicans, and while he talked about being more direct with the voters, and, as per the advice from Khruschev (or was it Stalin?), he landed a punch on the old guy as well:  “Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts but the mood around the country — the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office…. People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”

Fine stuff, but it’s the first part of Obama’s reply that’s really interesting – and perhaps shows his true character, an incisive, but remote observer comfortable with theory, even at his own expense. To be a compelling politician, to achieve his remarkable victory, he needed to be an expression of cultural forces, views and desires.

So what then, is David Cameron – who at times has tried to harness some of the Obama magic – an expression of?

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Who would win in a fight? The Mummy or the Wolf-Man?

“In the future, if your children ask you, “Who would win in a fight?  The Mummy or the Wolf-Man?” please refer them to this list, as it will save a lot of time…. Monsters are rated according to how dangerous they are against each other, and then according to how dangerous they are to all the other monsters on the list. Only if all other metrics are equal is the relative danger to the average human considered–because, let’s face it, they’re all dangerous to the average human.  They are monsters.

“Now, here’s the thing about regular vampires:  they’re fucking lame.  They sneak around in the dark and drain blood from people.  They talk a big game, sure, and everyone thinks they’re sexy.  But is sexy going to protect you from the Wolf-Man?  No.  The Wolf-Man is going to tear your god-damn head off.”

Don’t miss the author’s follow up in the comments, addressing why Godzilla isn’t in there.

The only thing I would add to this is:

14. Chuck Norris.

Grmmr advice from Twitter

You might not think Twitter is a great place to go for grammar advice, given that every message has a maximum character count of 140, but you say that before laying eyes on FakeAPStylebook:

Bonus points for spotting the writer uses Birdhouse, the semi-ridiculous iPhone app which allows you to save your draft tweets so that you can re-read, re-read and refine your work. If you did want actual grammar advice, you could always try following ThatWhichMatter, but it’s not quite so much fun.

Novels written by dictators

By definition, dictators can do anything they like, so why wouldn’t the mad, bad and crazy men at the top of tinpot regimes want to write novels?

“Some recent examples have been Saddam Husseins’s last publication, Be Gone Demons!, sales of which suffered due to bomb damage, despite the author’s previous million-selling form; and Radovan Karadžić’s The Miraculous Chronicle of the Night, written while on the run from the UN’s War Crimes trials yet still nominated for Serbia’s highest literary prize, the Golden Sunflower. Neither, unfortunately, are available from Amazon.”

Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s List) wrote a novel about the literary ambitions of a dictator, called The Tyrant’s Novel, which I read in 2006. It’s worth a look, but I remember it being a little restrained and dry.

8-bit trip: Lego bricks as pixels

This video comprises “1,500 hours of moving Lego bricks and taking photos of them.” It’s not particularly coherent in terms of theme, unless you call “8-bit games and music rule” a theme. Which maybe we should. Worth it for the chiptune soundtrack, the use of Lego as pixels and the particularly nice Pacman shots, which put you right into the maze.