Monday, 22 September 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

He Makes a Point

By now, most of us can list Jeremy Clarkson's more offensive recent utterances: the "n word", most unforgivably; the "slope" on a Burmese bridge; and, with Top Gear co-presenter Richard Hammond, playing Beavis to Clarkson's Butthead, those lazy, flatulent Mexicans. Plus an entire "special" that spent something like an hour taking the mickey out of the Indians.

This, though, is only the New Testament of the prophet Clarkson's lazy national stereotyping and borderline racism. There is, too, an Old Testament: Clarkson on Cars, a compendium of Clarkson's columns published by the right-on Richard Branson's Virgin books and sitting on a shelf at an Age UK shop near you. This volume came out in 1996 and the words would have been first published in the years before, so, yes, a good couple of decades ago. It's not Der Stürmer, but it is heady stuff, even by the standards of the time.

Even then we were definitely in a more enlightened, post-Bernard Manning, post-Enoch Powell era; think Ben Elton, the first series of Goodness Gracious Me and the salad days of Tony Blair. My point is that, far from Clarkson's recent antics being just another schoolboyish pushing at the boundaries of political correctness and all that, it actually speaks to a pretty unpleasant and long-established mindset.

So I would like you to savour Mr Motormouth's sentiments in their full vintage glory. (However, like flash photography on rolling news, I should issue a warning that you should look away if you're liable to have a fit when viewing such material.)

"If it turns out that a Malaysian customs officer cannot be bribed, I shall renounce Christianity and move to the Orkneys where, I'm told, everyone is Lucifer's best mate."

"We know also that the French are rude, the Italians are mad and the Dutch are a bunch of dope-smoking pornographers."

"Each Wednesday, I have to make a 120-mile journey from Nairobi, south London, to Bombay, near Birmingham."

"If you happen to be a homosexualist Cypriot, you cannot expect everyone in the whole borough to finance your perversion."

Lastly, I offer you this paradigm of multiculturalism from Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld: "My only experience of Vietnamese people was either at a restaurant in Fulham or as a lot of scuttling midgets in straw hats throwing hand grenades into Huey helicopters."

Are you cringing, Jeremy? If you are, then you might, just, however tenuously, understand the collective embarrassment the rest of us feel when you used the "n word" – although nowhere near the hurt that some will feel at such a loaded piece of language. Imagine for a moment that you are a typical car-loving 11-year-old boy, just attaining automotive puberty by putting a poster of a Bugatti Veyron on your bedroom wall.

You play Top Trumps and car-based computer games where you pretend you're punting a Porsche round the Nürburgring. You have endless playground arguments about Evos and M5s and GTIs. You avidly watch "the boys" on Top Gear. And you're black. I think it fair to say you might feel a bit disappointed when you see what your favourite BBC personality says when there isn't anyone black around.

As the BBC showed in the Jimmy Savile affair and in its painfully reluctant and lenient treatment of Jonathan Ross, it is all too ready to believe that its major stars are "too big to fail", to borrow a concept from finance. They aren't, of course, as countless supposed shock defections to ITV, from Morecambe and Wise to Adrian Chiles, show too well. Yet Clarkson represents a lucrative stream of global income for its commercial arm and leads the ratings for BBC2. The corporation's timidity is as understandable as it is wrong-headed. On the other hand, the licence-payer helps pay his wages. Perhaps a viewer boycott would help change their minds and make them do the right thing.

Most shame-faced of all should be the men and women who run the PR departments of the car companies. They are civilised and sensible people; they have cars to sell and, thus, to be filmed and, fingers crossed, praised by Clarkson – but they have corporate reputations to protect, too. I wonder what they make of the "n-word" affair in Detroit? And in Munich and Turin.

If I was running Toyota or Subaru's British activities, I'd be ashamed to see "my" cars in the infamous clip with the recidivist Clarkson. Commercial pressure from sponsors, advertisers and big companies is the most powerful weapon in a case such as this; remember how they humbled Tiger Woods and shut down News of the World. Clarkson shouldn't be so difficult to take down. Who's going to be first off the line in the race to ditch Jezza? BMW? Ford? Hyundai? Mercedes-Benz? Fiat? After what he once did to the Vectra, my money's on Vauxhall.


Suited- 3

19. Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about 1/2 an inch.

For a harmonious look, try to match the visible cuff length to the amount of collar that is visible at the back of the neck.

20. When you get your suit home, you’ll need a seam ripper or a small, sharp pair of scissors.

Unstitch the jacket’s pockets, remove the tack stitches from the jacket’s vents, and remove the little embroidered label from the jacket’s left sleeve. Do this very carefully to ensure you don’t actually rip the fabric or neighboring threads.

21. Make sure that your socks are long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down.

No one needs to see your hairy gams.

Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt.

Try to avoid screaming colors. They don’t blend as well.

The suit jacket should be just long enough to cover your pants zipper and butt.

24. Your tie should JUST reach the waistband of your trousers, or be slightly shorter.

25. For a more fashion forward look, the pant hem should hit right at the top of your shoe.

For a more conservative look, the pants should cover the top of the shoe and parts of the laces.

26. If you sweat a lot, wear an undershirt.

Sweat baby sweat baby sex is a Texas drought.

27. Finally, go for the dimple.

Check out this handy guide on nailing the tie dimple:

Suited- 2

10. For a more casual, trendy look, opt for a single-button peak-lapel jacket.

11. If you’re going for more formal business attire, opt for a double-button, notched lapel jacket.

12. The Savile Row Fold keeps your dress pants from falling off the hanger.

Either way, fold that shit properly! Instructional video:

13. You should be able to slip your hand between your chest and your buttoned jacket such that it feels snug, but with room to m

Napoleon would be proud!

14. Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you risk ruining it.

Might as well drop the suit if you don’t..

15. The top button of a two-button (or the middle button of a three-button) should fall at or above the navel.

16. Always go with the classic windsor knot for your tie, but use the size of your head to determine whether you should go half

BIG HEAD = FULL KNOT. SMALL HEAD = HALF KNOT. If you’re not sure how your head size compares, ask one of your male friends.

17. If you’re wearing a vest, always keep the bottom button unbuttoned.

This is the only of the 27 rules you can look past and still look awesome!

18. There are practical reasons for vests beyond just how they look.

Vests are best worn with single-breasted suits (so it’s actually visible). if you’re going to be wearing your suit in a cold climate, a vest can add a lot of warmth. *hint hint US!!*

Suited- 1

Contrary to popular belief, I do not dislike suits.  It's the tie that is my problem- or being told when to wear a suit.  That's my choice.

1. The width of the tie should match the width of the lapel

It’s all about BALANCE.

2. In general, thin lapels are more modern. Wide lapels are more old school, Mad Men-style.

Need to look old school or new school?!

3. Pocket squares add an extra level of polish, but make sure it doesn’t match your tie in either pattern or fabric choice.

Before you go totally conservative, remember that the pocket square is where you get the most freedom and the one place you get to add a little pizzazz to your suit.

4. When buying an off-the-rack suit, the number one thing to check is how the shoulders fit.

Tsk, tsk, John McCain. Shoulder pads should end at the shoulders.

5. A collar gap between your jacket’s lapels and your shirt’s collar can signify an ill-fitting jacket.

6. Opt for a charcoal or gray suit over black, unless you’re attending a funeral.

Dark gray is more versatile and goes with more colors.

7. Your belt should be fairly thin and the same color as your shoes.

Belts are not entirely necessary though. But it gives an extra umpf!

8. You should match your shoes to the color of your suit using this guide:

If you wear sneakers, i promise the wrath of every italian tailor (ever) will smite you! HARD!

9. Double vents in the back are more modern and fashionable.

This look is also more flattering for larger figures, and it gives you enough room to do that effortlessly casual “hand in pocket” pose.

Caveman Circus



Well Said

Regret is something you’ve got to just live with, you can’t drink it away. You can’t run away from it. You can’t trick yourself out of it. You’ve just got to own it. I’ve disappointed and hurt people in my life and that’s just something I’m going to have to live with. If you made the basic decision that even in spite of your crimes, you are worth persevering, that it’s worth trying to get good things for yourself, even though you might not deserve them, then you, you eat that guilt and you live with it. And you own it. You own it for life. 

- Anthony Bourdain

New for NZ?

New Zealand will hold a referendum next year on changing the national flag if the re-elected prime minister, John Key, has his way.
Key said on Monday he would press ahead with plans for a referendum following Saturday’s election triumph.
The centre-right leader said he wanted the ballot next year on whether to ditch the current flag, which features the union jack in one corner.
“I’d like to get on with it, to me I’d like to do it as a 2015 issue,” Key told commercial station Radio Live.
“I’m obviously a big supporter of the change, I think there are a lot of strong arguments in favour of the change.”
Key has previously said he would prefer a new flag featuring the silver fern on a black background.
Sporting teams such as the All Blacks already use the symbol and Key argues it is instantly recognisable as representing New Zealand in the same way the maple leaf is a distinctly Canadian icon.
The existing flag was first used in 1869 and formally adopted in 1902. Its supporters say that New Zealanders have fought and died under it for generations and a change would dishonour their memory.
But critics argue it is too easily confused with those of other former British colonies such as Australia.
Key, who increased his share of the vote to convincingly win a third term on Saturday, favours maintaining ties with Britain’s monarchy, despite his support for a new flag.





By Herman Melville
An American monster - Captain Ahab's obsession with the great white whale consumes his entire existence, leading to him putting his own life and that of his crew in danger as he hunts Moby Dick across the seas. A pub quiz necessity.


By Oscar Wilde
Wilde's only novel is a dark, twisting affair, offset by his familiarly flowery prose. Pages drip with wit and intelligence, allowing readers to escape to the glow of Victorian high life before shattering them with some supernatural skulduggery. The only frustration of the ebook edition is that you can't dogear the pages with the best quotes.


By Edgar Allan Poe
Less book, more "narrative poem" (or so our GCSE English lessons informed us), The Raven is a pillar of gothic literature. An unnamed narrator sits alone in his chamber when a rapping at the door heralds the entry of the eponymous raven. A lyrical read to add some atmosphere to your daily commute.


By Victor Hugo
In English, mercifully. The classic historical story of lives broken, mended and shuffled about in the chaos of law, liberty and life during the upheavals of 19th century France. Singing not required.


By Robert Louis Stevenson
Another from the gothic canon, Stevenson's tale of a scientist who pushes the laws of nature too far still manages to grip modern readers. And it's a lot less camp than countless TV and film adaptations have made it.


By Jules Verne
Five prisoners of war escape the ravages of the American Civil War via the unconventional means of hijacking a balloon. Landing on a deserted volcanic island, they set about establishing a new life for themselves. Yet not all is as it seems (the title ruins the suspense a bit).


By Bram Stoker
The definitive vampire novel, Stoker's seminal work has a hand in pretty much every blood sucking story you've ever encountered. A monster of a book, even if it does tail off towards the end.


By F Scott Fitzgerald
If you've been meaning to read the novel that inspired last year's glitzy big screen adaptation, now's your chance. Fitzgerald's novel plays out a little more mutely than Luhrmann's lavish offering, but it's still a superb window into the stale state of the 1920's American dream.


By Emily Brontë
Not read Wuthering Heights? Rid your mind of the sloppy period romance you're no doubt conjuring up - Emily Brontë's dark, bold story of love and jealousy is a heart-wrenching brute of a novel. You'll need to schedule in a trip to the Yorkshire moors once you're done.


By John Buchan
While Bond has always exhibited something of a blessed career path, he's got nothing on the miraculous fortunes of Richard Hannay. John Buchan introduces his all-action gentleman in a spy thriller of preposterous proportions.


By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Beginning to notice a theme here? The Victorians had a thing for supernatural yarns - and there are few better than Mary Shelley's timeless man-made monster. Philosophical, melancholic and downright terrifying, the idea for a twisted creature created from the flesh of the dead came to her when she was just 18-years-old.


By Jerome K. Jerome
Fan of Withnail and I? Of course you are, you're cultured enough to be reading a free book list. Jerome's work is a feast of comic whit: three overworked Londoners decide a holiday is called for, and embark upon a boating trip up the River Thames to Oxford. Queue travel notes, humorous anecdotes and warm feelings of mirth.


By G. K. Chesterton
Some old fashioned sleuthing from a novel that inspired Alfred Hitchcock to make not one, but two film adaptations. A collection of 12 short stories, eight told by a figure who felt he knew too much about the mucky works of government, Chesterton's writing will suck you in with its craft and mystery.


By H. G. Wells
A book that helped define the modern science fiction genre, The Time Machine coined the name for the eponymous device that's shaped countless time travelling stories. An English scientist-stroke-gentleman-inventor (the best kind) creates a machine capable of journeying through time. He travels to the year AD 802,701 and discovers what has become of mankind. It's much, much better than that film with Samantha Mumba in it.


By Charles Dickens
You don't have to save this story for a turgid December (though it clearly befits a winter setting). A tale of moral improvement, social lessons and ghosts (he had to get the readers in somehow), A Christmas Carol is as relevant in the success-driven world of contemporary Britain as it was in 1843.
(Images: Wikicommons, Amazon)

Designer Brands

Apple has retained its title as the coolest brand in Britain for the third year running but Twitter has fallen out of favour to make way for rivalInstagram, according to an annual survey.
The CoolBrands list saw Twitter drop out of the top 20 after three years, while Instagram made its debut at number 14.
The streaming service Netflix, home of award-winning drama Breaking Bad, broke into the top 20 for the first time. Retailers Liberty and Selfridges returned after a one-year absence, as did technology brand Bose.
The 2014/15 CoolBrands top 20 is:
Aston Martin
Dom Pérignon
Bang & Olufsen
Stella McCartney

Do Not Miss Out


One of the best British crime thrillers of recent years, with Idris Elba playing the growling Detective Chief Inspector who blurs the lines between right and wrong in order to get the job done. As the series develops, the crimes stretch across multiple episodes and the complications of Luther’s life become ever more tangled, making it almost impossible to watch just one episode.


As slick as crime shows get, this stars Matt Bomer as a high class conman who makes a deal with the FBI after he breaks out of prison and is recaptured. He suggests that he uses his considerable devious skills to help his captors bag bigger fish in return for a life lived on the outside. The pleasure is in never being sure who's tricking whom.


Season one is the best of the run, with a man committing a crime in order to be put in jail so that he can then break out his brother who has been sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit. It's a hugely daft conceit but one that the show has enormous amounts of fun with. Later series get sillier, but there's still an enjoyable trash element that will keep you watching 'just one more' before bed.


This cracking murder mystery was so popular that it was remade in America with Diane Kruger. You can't beat the original though, and with no disrespect to Kruger she can't compare to Sofia Helin as Saga Noren, the off-beat Swedish detective who is forced to team with her Danish equivalent, Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia), when a dead body is found placed precisely on the border between their two countries. The interplay between the leads will keep you coming back just as much as the need to know who committed the crime.


When Sherlock launched in 2010 it immediately had the feeling of a show that would be beloved for years, as if it had already been around for decades but we’d only just noticed. Even once you know how all the crimes were committed it still bears repeat viewing for the beautifully drawn friendship between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.


It remains a mystery that this show hasn't found much of an audience outside the US. It's based on an Elmore Leonard story, which should give you an impression of the murky morals at play and the high quality of the character work. Timothy Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens, a US Marshal who is sent back to his hometown after killing a criminal in an iffy but legally justified incident. There's a new major bad guy every season and they are all fantastically awful.


It's the show that kickstarted the 'Nordic noir' trend and if you still haven't seen it then Netflix is the perfect way to rectify that. Sofie Grabol is superb as the Detective Inspector assigned to find the killer of a young woman. The plot twists and turns so much in each episode that you'll probably make it through series one in a day (it's twenty hours long).


As the crime procedural became ever more popular at the end of last decade, TV networks were constantly looking for new twists. So you got weird shows like The Mentalist, with a fake psychic using his tricks to solve crime. Lie To Me was a better example of how to tackle a similar idea. The ever excellent Tim Roth plays the head of an agency that assists criminal investigations by using psychology, deducing whose pants are on fire simply by reading their face.


Traditionally, corrupt police officers are the ones you root against but in this black-hearted drama the main protagonist is Vic Mackey, a cop who frames people for crimes they haven't committed and commits robbery and sundry other illegal activities in the course of his job. But he's also a devoted family man. This is a series in which bad guys and good guys are not clearly drawn, making you never quite sure whether you want the wrongdoers to get caught or escape scot-free.


Obviously. We’re not going to berate you if you haven’t seen it yet, but you know you’ve got a treat in store when you do get round to it, and that you're probably going to have to cancel all your plans until you've finished it.