Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Post #800, wherein I share some video from Seville

This footage was shot in the grounds of the Casa de Pilatos. Some sources will tell you that this building has this name because it was built based on the designs of Pontius Pilate's house. That is bollocks, at least according to our guide around the house. It's because -- quick history lesson -- back in the day when they used to have a Stations of the Cross thingumajig through the city of Seville, this location was the one that correlated to Pilate washing his hands of Christ's crucifixion. Don't say you never learn anything here...

Anyway, what is amazing, and what you can't really tell from the way I've had to edit the video, is that so many different beautiful sights are visible from almost any spot you choose to stand in. So much so that it's difficult to know where to point your camera. So I just keep pointing and shooting and cross fingers that something decent will come out in the edit. Hope you see something you like, even it's just the bearded woman breastfeeding a baby.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Post #799, wherein it’s black-news day

Wesley Snipes goes to prison for three years for tax evasion...

... on the same day that three NYC cops are acquitted of any wrongdoing over the 50-shot shooting of an unarmed black man outside a nightclub.

Meanwhile, we're told that controversial headline act Jay-Z will "be brilliant for Glastonbury. He's the best rapper of all-time and I think he'll knock it out of the park," by that bastion of music criticism Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Post #798, wherein I wish...

... that somebody sometime would make St George's Day a national holiday in this godforsaken country.

Happy St George's Day to one and all!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Post #797, wherein I take a moment to remind people

GORDON BROWN IS A CUNT. Just in case anyone had forgotten.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Post #796, wherein I get to some details about my holiday

So, we were all hopped up and ready for our brief stay in warm and sunny Seville. And then, just a couple of days before we left, it suddenly became apparent that it was going to be rainy and grey. Bugger. What can you do? We'd booked our tickets with hand luggage only, so we were committed to not taking big coats and cool-weather clothing...

"Well," I said, "It's not like weather forecasts are always accurate. Let's take a chance."

It's hard to travel hand luggage only, especially when you are allowed literally only one bag each, and that bag must weigh less than 10kg (22lb), and you want to cram in a video camera and stills camera and a couple of shirts and T-shirts and some spare trousers or two and clean underwear and socks and maybe some spare shoes... Hard, yes, but not impossible.

First things first, though: on arrival at the airport we had to queue at Ryanair's customer-service point to make sure our online-printed boarding passes were okay, since they said we were Irish (which we aren't) and that our passports expired on 1 January (which they hadn't). All fine; problem with the computer system. Phew!


We arrived late to Seville, and yet it still wasn't dark. That's always nice and summery-feeling. It got me off on the right foot. And with our hand luggage only we went straight to the cab rank and got a car straightaway. He drove like a complete maniac, doing about 130km/h (80mph) on streets that didn't seem built for such speeds, undertaking cars as we went. But at least that meant we got to our hotel quicker than we might otherwise have expected.

We checked in, freshened up, and headed straight out to one of our favourite haunts in the city, the Cervezeria Giralda, where we incredibly managed to bag a table really quickly, after ordering our first round of drinks and tapas, but before we'd managed even a mouthful, I think.

We ordered the tortilla al comino, so beloved of our last visit, along with a couple of other old favourites and some new dishes too. We drank beer and took pictures, and we wandered back to our hotel room sated and happy to be back in this great town. Tomorrow we would start our walking in earnest.

We had decided in advance that we would eat breakfast at the hotel. At least on the Sunday morning, anyway, rather than struggling to find somewhere open early enough. So we did, and it was good. Hotel breakfasts in the buffet style are usually good, but when you're paying €14 (£11, US$22) a head, you simply need to make sure you get your money's worth. So we did. Various cuts of ham were consumed, along with bacon, tortilla, doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice. A breakfast in preparation for a day's walking.

And off we set to the Plaza de España, hoping this time that it would be even more wonderful than the last time we saw it. Sadly, this time around a lot of it was boarded up for renovations. We didn't mind too much since we'd seen it before anyway, but it would have been nicer to see in all its glory. It was more unfortunate that the waterway that runs in the grounds was, once again, void of water. I was really hoping to see it in this context this time around. Guess we'll just have to come back again sometime.

But we did see some festive chariots carrying señoritas in their best Feria clothing. That was cool. (Video footage to follow soon-ish.)

And we did get accosted by some gypsies wanting to force rosemary upon us and read our palms. I managed to get away with paying mine only about 80c for her trouble. She didn't seem too pleased with that and seemed to be implying I should pay her €5 for each palm read. I just shrugged like I didn't know what she was saying.

And I'm glad I did. Discussions with my better half just a few minutes later revealed that she indeed had paid €10 for the great privilege of being told our children would be beautiful. Oh, joy!

Of course, just before having our futures read, a vending man had come running up to me screaming before grabbing me by the arm. "Lucio! Lucio!" he was yelling (in that Spanish way, so it sounds like "Loo-thee-oh"). I thought he was on about light or something (luce [loo-che] in Italian, luz [looth] in Spanish), so I just kinda kept walking, shaking my head in bemusement, trying to convey that I had no idea what he was on about. Maybe he was trying to get me to buy one of his fans or something...

Then it became clear. We stopped and started trying to communicate with him.

[One thing about the Spanish we've encountered in both Seville, both times, and Valencia is that regardless of how much you clearly have no idea what they are saying, they will just keep talking. To you or at you, I'm not quite sure. And while this can initially be somewhat frustrating, it's also somehow really very endearing. No amount of incomprehension seems to be an obstacle to their desire to talk to you.]

Over the course of five minutes we established that he liked my tattoos and that the best tattooist in the whole of Spain is Lucio (yes, the word he was shouting at me), who operates at the US base in Rota, near Cadiz. This chap, who told us his name was Fernando, showed me the tattoo of his mother's name and told us that years ago, when he had his done, nobody had tattoos and they were frowned upon by "society". These days, "everybody has them, even babies". He now intends to get his father's name on his other arm and portraits of both parents on his chest. I think we did pretty well understanding all that, being as we're really shit at Spanish!

See, tattoos can bring people together, my friends.

After our walk around the Plaza, we were hungry, so we headed to a little nearby cafe that we'd been to last time around.

The weird thing was, the overhanging trees were insane. Almost everybody sat outside was sneezing as the trees shed their fluffy leafy stuff.

A street musician wandered over to our table just as Red went to the bathroom. He was playing something akin to a guitar but made with twine for strings. He was a black guy, and given the proximity of Africa and its African heritage, I suspect the instrument was African of some time. "You speak English?" he asked, twiddling a little riff on his thing. "Yes," I replied. "Where are you from?" "England."

And that gave him all the ammo he needed to "write" a song for me on the spot. I still remember the lyric fondly. It went something like this:

Englan', Englan', Englan', Englan', Englan'.
Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Englan'.
London, London, London.
Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Li'erpool, Englan'.

Ahhh, those words will stay with me a long time.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Post #795, wherein I make promises that I probably can’t keep regarding how soon I’ll hit my 800th post

Dudes -- I've been a slacker. Sorry and all that, but this week has turned into total fucking mayhem on the work front.

I really wanted to do some posts about Seville. And I will. But I had intended to chop together some video footage first, and that shit takes time. Time I don't have right now.

You wanna know how short of time I am? My tattooist called to say that I could have three hours on Friday cos someone had cancelled an appointment, but I had to turn it down cos I'm too damn busy. Believe, when I'm too busy to go and get tattooed, it means I'm FUCKING busy.

And it's some bad work that's keeping me busy. Proofreading is my least favourite of the strings to my bow. It's the being rooted to the spot for so long, so deep in concentration, keeping track of all the editorial style choices. And it pays the least well of the jobs we do, too. That said, this one is a good rate because it's a short-notice, 11th-hour kinda gig.

So, as alluded in the title, I promise to be back soon with some Seville stories before they all seem too late to write about. And some video clips. In the meantime, the missus is writing about it. But if you're really jonesing for a piece of my own words, don't forget you can always go check out my movie reviews (such as they are).

And anyway, my 800th post seems so damn insignificant now in light of Candy Minx's 1,000th. Not to mention furiousBall's 2,000th of a couple of weeks back. Pah! I'll try to get it done by Monday, though...

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post #794, wherein I do a little poem about being back

Yes, I'm back.
Seville, Spain, again.
Very nice it was too --
except for the rain.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Post #793, wherein I go fishin’

Well, not fishin', but I go away. For a few days. Catch you all later. But don't forget to keep clickin' for Liam! Peace out, brothers 'n' sisters.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Post #792, wherein I pimp myself

I'm sure you're all gagging to read my answers to some questions put to me by fellow blogger Captain Karen, so click here or on the picture of the HMS Swiftsure on the right to check out the interview.

But don't forget to vote for nephew Liam again, too. Click the pic in the post below to take you to the place to go. (Ha, that rhymes! Yes, I'm an idiot.)

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Post #791, wherein I pimp my nephew

Come on, boys and girls! Click the pic below. And then click on the little tab that says Liam and click "vote". That's my nephew wearing some of the NWA duds we bought for him. Come on now, one and all.

I thank you!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Post #790, wherein I tell of a story and of my own involvement in it coming to an end, for now

Once upon a time, in a land far away from mine, a lady wrote a story. This was no ordinary story, though, and the way in which it would be shared was also to be unique.

The story was called "Skin"; the author was called Shelley Jackson.

And the story was destined to be read by only a small number of people, seemingly just 2,095 in fact. Those 2,095 people would receive their copy of the story in the mail, in a yellow-brown envelope marked "Do Not Bend".

What must one do to receive such a rare and unusual literary work?, you might ask.

Aye, there's the rub...

I received my envelope about ten days ago. In it was my copy of the story, hand-bound, and with one word highlighted with a ring around it.

One word highlighted. One word in a story that contains 2,095 words.

Yes, in order to have received this very special prize, I, along with 2,094 other willing participants, had to "become" a word and have that word tattooed upon myself.

We, the 2,095 words, are the only people who will ever see the story in its entirety.

We, the 2,095 words, are the story.

This has been a long journey.

First, probably in late 2004, I applied to be part of the project, citing my interest in tattooing and my job being in publishing. I told Shelley that I thought this was an exciting project that combined those two worlds.

I was accepted, and I was sent my word, over which I had no choice, in March 2005. I had it tattooed in May 2005 and mailed my photographic evidence and model release back in July.

And now, finally... suddenly... it's all over.

Until I die. Ms Jackson has pledged to try to attend the funerals of all her words. Of course, I hope to outlive her. Is that wrong?

If you are interested in seeing some of the words' tattoos, go here. Mine is on there. Scroll down to "molt."

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