Category Archives: books & writers

The worse of Britain

One big reason why I’m on my way outta here…, again…, never, ever, ever to return … for longer than a few days…, go on, a week max…

The reason? The BBC of course. Pathetic, apologetic, irrelevant finally.

Diary Entries Competition

Match the three diary extracts below to these three writers:

a) Fernando Pessoa
b) Bubba Tribunales
c) Krishnamurti

Correct answers by females win a night out with the authors of the diaries, if living. Correct answers by males get a free torrent download of their favorite pop song. Good luck!

1. Οι τεράστιες μάζες των ανθρώπων είναι πέρα για πέρα αδιάφορες για όλα αυτά – ‘ανθρωποι ανεύθυνοι που ψάχνουν να γεμίσουν τη δική τους εγωιστική ζωή εξευγενίζοντας τις επιθυμίες τους, αλλά παραμένοντας εγωιστές. (loosely translated by me and google-translate: The huge masses of people are completely indifferent to all this; irresponsible people looking to fill their own selfish life, by refining their desires, but remaining selfish.)

2. …so I did what the Danes do, I wrapped myself in the airplane style blanket and sipped my 5 euro coffee. Welcome to wonderful Kobenhavn. You WILL be happy! … on the SAS flight back to London, the screens were showing the pilots eye view! Yeah, that’s where the excitement ends, because NOTHING happens. No birds being squashed on the windshields, no aliens flying about, no juggling homeless angels cleaning the windows at the lights…

3. I experienced the pain of truth when I saw myself there, because, inevitably, it was my face I looked for first. I have never had a very high opinion of my physical appearance but never before have I felt such a nonentity as I did then, comparing myself with other faces, so familiar to me, in that line-up of my daily companions. I look like a rather dull Jesuit. My thin inexpressive face betrays no intelligence, no intensity, nothing whatever to make it stand out from the stagnant tide of the other faces. But they’re not a stagnant tide. There are some really expressive faces there. Senhor Vasques is exactly as he is in real life – the firm, likable face, the steady gaze, all set off by the stiff moustache. The energy and intelligence of the man – qualities which are after all utterly banal and to be found in thousands of other men all over the world – are stamped on that photograph as if it were a psychological passport. The two travelling salesmen look superb; the clerk has come out well but he’s half hidden behind Moreira. And Moreira! My immediate superior Moreira, the embodiment of monotony and routine, looks much more human than I do! Even the errand boy – I detect in myself, without being able to suppress it, a feeling that I hope is not envy – has a directness in his smile that far outshines the insignificant dullness of my face, of me, the sphinx of the stationery cupboard.

Fruit of the Year

And the winner is:

the cherimoya

Cherimoya cut in half

what Mark Twain called “the most delicious fruit known to men” and “deliciousness itself!”, according to the *free*-speech internet.

At number two we find a fruit that’s been in the top-ten list for 38 years:

the orange

end of blog.

Birthday Blog

Happy Birthday Spiro’s Blog!

To celebrate, here’s another great article by one of the few good men left.

I don’t even have enough time to read it all, since I need to catch my flight to Thessaloniki. But I trust John Pilger, although he has been slightly naive with regards to the global warming scam, so you can go ahead and safely publish it.

Many happy returns.

The editor.

Special Issue Ι – Άνοιξη (Spring)΄09

In this special issue of Spiro’s blog we have a very distinguished guest. At the time of writing we are unaware if the writer would like to be named or remain anonymous. In our rush to present to you the information as quickly as possible we present the original here, but be informed that we have given the text to our international desk for translation and it will appear shortly in English.

Στην Ελλάδα δεν έχει πια γυναίκες. Μόνο κάτι ασεξουαλικά όντα με βυζιά. Αλλά ούτε και άντρες έχει. Να λέμε όλη την αλήθεια. Αυτοί είναι οι παραγωγοί καταναλωτικών οικονομικών μονάδων. Κουβαλάνε κάτι σακουλάκια ανάμεσα στα πόδια και ένα σωληνάριο για εξαγωγή των περισσευούμενων υγρών. Μόνο εγώ έχω γκαύλες? Μόνο σ’ εμένα δεν αρέσουν τα διάφορα πορνό αλλά θέλω φρέσκια σάρκα? Ούτε φίλους θέλω. Μόνο συντρόφους. Για τον πόλεμο και την ειρήνη. Για την δημιουργία και την ηδονή. Αυτά τα garage που κατέβασα από το ινδερνέτι μ’ έχουν σώσει απ’ την πλήρη πνευματική κατάρρευση. Δόξα στα Peebles και στους ανώνυμους rockabilly hillbilly partabilly kai valta ekei pou xereis. Γίνομαι ανήθικος? Μπορεί. Δεν πήγα ****. Ήμουνα κλεισμένος σπίτι. Το μυαλό μου και τα άυλα παράγωγά του είναι σαν τα μακαρόνια. Τα βρασμένα. Όπου δε μπορείς να βγάλεις άκρη. Και για να μη βλέπεις το χάος, πασπαλίζεις θρυμματισμένο τυρί και μπόλικη σάλτσα. Όπου βέβαια και πάλι δεν είσαι σίγουρος για το τι περιέχει. Και τελικά για να βγεις από τον κόπο της προσπάθειας να καταλάβεις, πίνεις κρασάκι. Αθάνατο σπέρμα άγνωστου πλέον θεού. Και πάλι γκαυλώνεις! Μα που είναι η Αφροδίτη? Τι να πω? Βλέπω γυναίκες κατά τύχη ή όταν σκάω ένα κάρο λεφτά σ’ αυτά τα άθλια στέκια που λέγονται καφέ-μπαρ. Κι ακόμη προσπαθώ να βγάλω άκρη του τι μου συμβαίνει, τι θέλω – αν θέλω κάτι – γιατί η κυρία κοινωνία επιμένει πως πρέπει να θέλω κάτι, αλλιώς δεν είμαι φυσιολογικός. Κάτι πρέπει να κάνω αλλιώς θεωρούμε άπραγος – κι αυτό είναι κακό και επικίνδυνο για ολόκληρο το σύμπαν και τον κύκλο της ζωής. Γάμα τα. ακόμα δε ξέρω τίποτα. Εκτός απ’ το ότι έχω γκαύλες κι ότι ζω μια καθημερινότητα που δε μου λέει τίποτα.

Su amigo.

Águas de Julho

É pau, é pedra, é o fim do caminho
o pão de açucar, o cristo que foi mijar
é a opera do bubba é a vida é o sol
é uma lancha no rio, é uma ave no chão
é a mãe da super luiza é a julia é a luiza

é o chico buarque, o luiz melodia, o djavan e o vinicius
o penedo, o fio maravilha, açerola, e truta viva
uma trilha no mato, a bolsa de valores
um gringo chato, são as dores, são as flores
poa, itapemirim, galeto e samba
laura, carlão, sandalias melissa e guimba
rio de janeiro, flamenco, cariocas
cuia e chimarrão é um lanche na esquina

São o oscar niemeyer, o william e a susi
a ana e a lisa, a sofia e a julia
o maneca, a cally e a lancha na quaiba
são são paulo com transito, e sistema de transporte
junior e juliana, luca nano e melissa
tomas e priscilla andre e a dentista
a daiza e o osasco, a ponte la no morumbi
o irmão do evaldo, é a nação zumbi

o renatão e o artur, a angela e o mingo,
a isabella a giovanna, cizo, alcione e flavio
a alzira a alaide, a antonietta a mimi
centro cultural santander, caminho no parcão
e por favor nunca mais habib´s
é o brique e o acarajé, carlos, doug, adam e açai
é a gorda e a seca la no zaffari

é o sol no caixeiros viagantes, é a elis regina
é o chico buarque, é o chico é o chico
é uma ave no céu, uma ave no chão
a cachoeira de deus, uma borboleta na mão

a bethania, e os ramalhos, e um baile de funk, é o creu é o creu
é um coco gelado, saudade e saude
ronaldinho gaucho, é verdade é verdade
uma agua gelada, guarana, fanta da uva
caipirinha, cachaça, picanha e costelão
são tres corações de frango, chocolate do gramado
chocolate do penedo, jiu-jitsu, capoeira
é o menino vadio, a marizete e a jazz
embromation, enrrolation, bossa nova em cartaz
ecohostel, curitiba, fatima, tiago e vinicius
é muita cafeina, é a banda do marcus

é o verissimo no sebo, e umas artes da morte,
o djavan, o corinthians, o flamengo e a flu
uma banana na cachoeira, umas fotos tiradas
pão de queijo, mamão, e umas velhas piradas
um velhinho safado, acarajé no brique
pastel na feira, caldo de cana
a indra e a chirsten, debora, tim, jonathan
um cigarro avulso, uma skol ou polar
ciclovias na curitiba, uma itaipava no ar
são as aguas de março fechando o verão
é a promesa de vida no teu coração
é pau é pedra…

Buenos Aires, 11th June 2008

Before leaving London a friend gave me a travel journal. It’s really just a notebook that says “travel journal” on the front… (oh, bless… but she says she doesn’t have time to read my blog anyway), so I present to you, my dear readers, a slightly edited entry made in BA on 11/06/08…

Going to Uruguay today, to get an extra stamp on my passport. Not really. Don’t give a fuck about the stamp, but will be able to say I’ve been to Uruguay, también. Should send my Hungarian friend who lived in Uruguay for about a year when she was a teenager, and her Spanish husband a postcard… Manteca is butter, but apparently it’s lard in Spain. Mantequilla is butter in Spain. A helpful waitress said she spoke English, but when we asked her “what is manteca?”, fearing that we would get a pasta with lard, she said that manteca = bacon. She meant butter. They both start with a ‘b’. She’s a Boca Juniors fan. Walked down Rua Borges yesterday in Palermo, the most european looking part of BA yet. I find Borges books too difficult for me. Too much hard work. Maybe would be better in Spanish. You need to know too much about … stuff he talks about… to really understand him. One thing I’ve noticed and which further fuels my obssesion with toilet brushes, is the lack of them in BA. Not very pleasant. Another noticeable aspect of Buenos Aires is the amount of crazy people. Oh yeah, and the most beautiful eyes per capita… Could they be linked in any way? Crazy people have beautiful eyes?

… in this travel journal entry I also talk about the milonga’s we went to, which I’ve already written about, but I embarssingly mispelled as Milango’s… here… I should edit that page. I’ve got more to say on toilet brushes. In one place, I think a cafe, there was a toilet brush, but the handle was a stub, so tiny, that you were almost touching the hairs of the brush… and it looked wet and yellowish… I used it nonetheless… only kidding…

Bubba Tribunales makes his first appearance in this journal entry, with one line: “Bubba Tribunales, el viejo malo”. Never made it to Uruguay though. It was ridiculously expensive and apparently not really worth it. It cost around 200 pesos, just for the return boat trip to the town of Colonial, across the river Uruguay. With the same amount of pesos, you can go on a paragliding adventure day trip from Mendoza.

Not so Cynical Torso (CPH, part 3)

I love speaking to the locals when travelling abroad. It’s very difficult to get a feel for a place in such a short time, but I’ve realised that doing things that they may do on a daily basis, is the best way. Who goes to bloody museums, but tourists? So, I went to the swimming pool a couple of times in Copenhagen, well, actually in Frederiksberg, which is a separate town with it’s own mayor, a town within a town.

The swimming lanes were very strangely arranged. Four lanes, two for men and two for women supposedly, and of the two that I could use, one was huge (in width) and the other very narrow. It turns out that the huge one is for the breaststroke and the narrow one for the crawl. I haven’t been to many pools in my life, but this strikes me as particularly stupid. I can imagine someone in a high position, who knows nothing about swimming, say maybe the son of the mayor of Frederiksberg who could also be the owner of the pool, thinking that it’s a good idea with a touch of brilliance, instead of the usual slow/medium/fast lanes separation, to go by width. Ridiculous and annoying, both in the narrow one, where I kept bumping into that floating separator, and the huge one, where all the very slow pensioners were and where people were overtaking each other all the time, thus defeating the purpose of having a large arm span to do your breaststroke in. I think I understand now what it was all about. The idiot who had the idea, couldn’t do the crawl and was spiteful towards people who can do it…

The steam room was great though, and so was the free shampoo/shower gel. And I spoke to one local, the pool attendant, who hails from Yorkshire, just outside Leeds. Funny accent…

The other great place to meet the locals is on public transport. On the way back from the pool, on the Thursday, I wanted to get back to the hotel quickly (it was a half hour walk) so decided to catch the bus for the first time in Copenhagen. There was an old lady at the stop. So sweet. I think I frightened her in the beginning (and in the end) but we ended up chatting a bit. She told me she was sorry she couldn’t speak more, because she’s ill and she made a motion with her hand over her scarf. So I said, “a cold?”, and she smiled and said, “no, much more serious than that”. I felt like a twat.

She told me that she likes to go out every day, even though it’s difficult for her. She asked me where I was from and when I said Greece, she looked at me and asked if I have brown eyes. I said no and she told me that she has brown eyes. She patted the edges of her white hair and said with a cheeky smile “I used to be a brunette, I’m Spanish” and broke out into a big smile. Oh, I said, do you speak Spanish? No, not at all, my ancestors came here 200 years or so ago and I don’t even know which part of Spain I’m from.

I sat just behind her on the bus, but she didn’t notice this and when I went to get off, I said, “goodbye”. She literally jumped out of her seat. It scared the shit out of her. I laughed and said sorry. She laughed as well. Old ladies are great.

I left my swimming gear hangin’ in the hotel room and took the train to Malmo. On the train I almost jumped out of the seat myself, startled. I had forgotten my passport. I hadn’t even thought about it. Here I was about to enter a different country and I had no form of identification. I hadn’t planned this day trip properly. I texted a friend of a friend from Crete, a Greek lady married to a Swede living near Malmo to see if they could give me some advice about where to go and what to see there. She never got back to me. I later found out that they were in Chania, Crete at the time. Luckily I arrived in Malmo and didn’t need an ID.

The first thing that struck me in Sweden was that the drivers were a bit “ruder”. Not so gentle and polite as in Denmark. And so were the cyclists. Oh, Copenhagen, how I miss thou… with your gentle tree lined avenues and well-behaved organised systems… The language to my untrained ears sounded slightly different. Whereas I was hearing French-sounding noises in Danish, I could hear Italian-sounding noises in Swedish. But that’s just because I don’t understand either, and am probably insulting all Danes and Swedes and French and Italians. Fuck’em.

Malmo’s a nice place. The weather was great. But I had stupidly forgotten to think about …currency. I really hadn’t thought this day trip out properly. You’re going to a different country, spiro. I didn’t have any currency, I didn’t know the exchange rate, I didn’t even know if they have the euro or something else in Sweden. So I went to the first cash point I found and decided to take the 2nd lowest option, which was 500 Kronor. And I ended up with more money than I needed, coz once I left the cash point I saw that an average meal is around 100 Kronor (~ £9). So, I went to the bookshop (which was great, though the staff were a bit snobbish) and bought myself a crime novel in English by a Swedish author, set in Göteborg and Copenhagen. So it all ties in nicely. Sweet.

The weather was great and I went to a nice big park, with lakes and sat in the sun a bit and then walked towards the twisted torso building. I just googled it and found this link, on Concrete Monthly – News from the cement and concrete industries. The sad thing is that they definitely get more hits than this blog does. Pfff… I also found out that Calatrava was the architect, the same one who designed the Olympic stadium in Athens for 2004. And so now I just remembered the comments that the Dalai Lama made about the Olympics in China having to go ahead and … respect the torch… and a whole load of bollocks. But I’m getting all worked up again…

The view of the bridge that links Denmark and Sweden is great from that area near the torso and there were alot of people sunbathing, taking photos, walking around. Very civilized and nice. The area looked a bit boring. A lot of construction work going on, what looked like apartments and offices. The building is fun. I liked it. Then I walked back into town and had a great steak meal. Sat in the sun in some central square, got hooked on the book, the steak was good and the vegetables and chips that came with it even better.

On the final day in Copenhagen, I was flying at 4 pm, so had a full morning to wander into parts I hadn’t been to before. I ended up in the National Gallery which I loved. Some modern stuff, not so good, alot of sculpture, some of it great, and some more classical stuff. I liked the depiction of Danish life from around 50-100 years ago. Some of the few religious paintings were interesting as well. The facial characterisitics of some of the saints and shit, were Nordic.

I’m thinking of registering the following term: cynomody, for cynical comedy. But after a week in gentle Denmark, I’m just not feeling cynical enough anymore. And next week I’ll be in Brazil where I’ll be samba-ing to a whole different tune.

Deception

“If a hand is drawing a hand and if, at the same time, this second hand is busy drawing the first hand also, and if all this is illustrated on a piece of paper fixed to a drawing board with thumb tacks…and if the whole thing is then drawn again, we may well describe it as a sort of superdeception.”

Drawing Hands (1948)

Escher made Drawing Hands in 1948, the same year Orwell wrote 1984. I find that interesting and spooky, because they both explored the reality of deception through their art.

Escher said about his work:

“…it is for this reason that I never feel quite at home among my artist colleagues; what they are striving for, first and foremost, is “beauty”… I guess the thing I mainly strive after is wonder, so I try to awaken wonder in the minds of my viewers.”

Both excerpts taken from The Magic Mirror of M.C.Escher, by Bruno Ernst. The image was bummed from here.

This book is shite

I’d like to learn to write stories. Maybe short stories to start with. But then again, everyone wants to be a writer. That reminds me, I bought this book by a writer who I’ll refer to as Mark Hardon, althought that’s not his real name, and I want to go onto amazon.com and post a review: “This book is shite”. I read “The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night” (I’ve changed the title again) by the same author, and thought it was great. I recommended it to my friends and some of them read it and loved it as well. But this latest one is pathetic.

I am only 110 pages into it though. But, I just went to the amazon reviews and saw one of the reviews that say: “Don’t give up on this one”. So I thought, ok, maybe, but only if I’ve got nothing more interesting to read, which is very rare these days, since I’m reading: Mark Twain’s Autobiography, a book about Escher, a book by the greek director and novelist Nikos Nikolaidis which reminds me of Bukowski, and I’m enjoying – I say to this one: “Don’t give up on it”, because although it has alot of vulgarity and gratuitous, loveless sex in it, just like his films I think, it has some moments of soulful insight, in the style of Henry Miller and Kerouac and even Bukowski, a great book about the german mathematician Riemann called Prime Obsession, which I guess falls into the genre of “popular science”, but which is a tad deeper (in Maths terms, for me) than other similar works plus alot of interesting history from the time, which has excited me, as well as Lewis & Papadimitriou’s modern day classic: “Elements of the Theory of Computation”, David Icke’s Guide to the Global Conspiracy, Anthony Robbins “Awaken the Giant Within”, the Brazilian magazine in London “Leros”, Le Monde Diplomatique and the ICA’s brochure for May 2008. After I finish these I have Vasilis Alexakis “m.x” to read in Greek, and Panos Karnezis “Little Infamies” (which was a gift from my friend Unknown…) and Sebastian Faulks “Human Traces”, plus whatever else I fancy in the meantime…

So, fuck Mark Hardon and his crappy formulaic (based on his previous success), little england sense of humour shite. It’s got an old guy with some illness in it, his wife is cheating on him, his daughter is about to marry a hard-working salt of the earth guy from the North of England, and his son is gay. Boring BBC crap.

Don’t give up on this book? Why not? Cause I paid for it? I can understand that statement if you’re talking about Dostoyevsky, Hugo, Zola, Balzac, Tolstoi, Kazantzakis, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, man, the list goes on and on. And I don’t think I’ve ever finished a book of any of them (except Fitzgerald and Kazantzakis), but I will definetely give them a go in the future again, especially if I ever learn French (for some…). But some f**** twat called Mark Hardon? In fact, I guess what Bill Hicks says about New Kids on the Block (on the video in my vodpod on the right … 🙂 ) etc. expresses better what I think about this book. Oh yeah, the book is called “A blotch of bother” (changed title), and it’s shite.