Our Chief Weapon – Surprise

In case you didn’t already know it, Monty Python’s five remaining members reunited for 20 shows at London’s O2 arena earlier this month. One show was simulcast to theaters around the world (although I don’t think any theater in Hong Kong had this).

I was in London at the beginning of July and thought about going to see them. I checked online and saw “only single seats available” and thought, “Well, that’s okay, I’m on my own.”

But then I thought about it a little bit more. The remaining tickets cost close to 150 pounds and were all the way in the back of the arena. I realized I’d be so far from the stage that I’d be watching the whole thing on the video projection screens. So I figured, okay, if I’m just gonna watch TV, I might as well save a few bucks and wait for the inevitable home video.

(Plus, I’ve already seen them live. April 1976, City Center in New York. As I recall, I had third row seats for that.)

There was another reason.  Back when Python was new, whether listening to their records (the only way one could experience them in the US until PBS started broadcasting the shows) or watching their TV shows and films, much like a key line in their Spanish Inquisition sketch, amongst their weaponry was surprise. You never knew what was coming. The bits were mostly short, took unexpected left turns, and often ended and segued into other bits sooner than anyone would expect.

I felt it pretty safe to assume that for this reunion show, they wouldn’t be writing any new material. So it would be Python’s Greatest Hits. No surprises. Just the stuff I already know by heart. I figured I could live without that.

And sure enough, the blu-ray and DVD are up for pre-order (in the UK at least, US will follow suit soon I’m sure). Like the live show, it’s being called Monty Python Live (Mostly) – One Down, Five to Go, referring to the fact that Graham Chapman died too young, too many years ago.


Actually you can download the entire 2 hour 20 minute show now if you know where to look. I’m guessing that someone got ahold of the digital stream that was beamed to theaters and put it up in the usual places.  I’m told that the last night’s show was broadcast live on UK TV. I haven’t had a chance to watch the entire thing yet, just bits and pieces, and it’s pretty much what you would expect.

Anyway, here’s a preview, a bit of the Spanish Inquisition sketch.

Why Does Google Translate Do Such a Piss Poor Job On Chinese?

It’s kind of a running joke now. My friends post stuff on Facebook in Chinese and they ask me to run it through Google Translate and post the result. Usually you can get the gist of it but sometimes it’s just completely awful.

I’m going to try a little test here. I’m going to take the title of this post and run it through Google to translate into Chinese, which gives me:


Someone else will have to tell me if that’s close or not. Then I’ll take the above and translate it back to English, which gives me:

Why Google translate to do so piss poor recruitment in China?

Cute, huh? Actually not too bad, aside from Google at some point not getting the word “job” right.

Anyway, I was looking up a Tai Po restaurant on Open Rice. There are no English reviews so I used inline translation in Chrome. Not only next to useless, but also quite funny. Here’s the restaurant listing (for those who want to see the original Chinese) and here is the first translated review:

Today, ate dinner at half past six, from Tai Po Centre has been OK, OK over Beppu, Mummy, then not tried to accompany drainage try it! Actually, I do not tease for Beppu Nuisance-what a good impression, but called Mommy , you will fight about … two individuals called Left 4 kind of wild, wild drinking 2 cups all child (drinks buy one get one) Dstring butter into the dry sample had had fried bad bad like that, would eat into the Well of seeking fresh baa taste, but eat off the entrance are OK, Well tough all child Nuisance slag. , I called kimchi Pork Ramen , in fact rang at home and cook a pig kimchi ramen plus D are all Ciwu Duo flavor, left more than a few lines Pork roast Hello. Mommy to theGillette pork chop noodles , soup too light, but Gillette few good fried pork chop, crunchy outer layer, which has gravy, Wucuo! Grilled saury OK friends, blazing power, Nuisance Zheng taste Qualified! lychee soda syrup just add soda water, add canned litchi grain, Nuisance special, but not even drink. as just filling the belly of a meal is also possible, the quality of the chain is so!

Tough all child Nusiance slag?

Here’s the last one – the translated title is “New feces pit.” Probably they didn’t care for the place.

Why I waited for something to eat first resistance Link? All because of technical problems. Store clerk tied to novices friends, watching the door of the woman Essentials too softly, Feizi number and㩒too fast, one that should never see someone flying next Fei, turn left both my enemy lines beside Temple gel, ring Listen to live drainage Essentials door quickly after I had left Zhang Zhong Road Essentials multi-speed three (if three are tied Nuisance should), I ask the canal line to the microphone to be buried row over the matter, had left佢words Yanyan After three straight Essentials to row through the first four, just being driven off GOD Essentials think fast drying back to rest it!
Window into the sit position, I like GOD goldfish goldfish bowl into the surface like that, all the way to wait for the food to come forward all the way to serve both beer patrons live, Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you, really big pressure, Eating Well comfortably.
Asking him to add water Essentials left three people were added to Zhongwei, the Department of Enterprise GOD waiters obviously buried side Chit Quite busy tight. We should note that the drainage will ask you to Di Qi Ye Li did not, if the sun drains tied together Will not you add water to drink to serve both! Talk back Yeshi, called the left rectangular pizza, a fruit shop sill GOD pizza bread bag taste, smell only if you agree authentic pizza, above Nuisance-what sauce, dry fight fight both. Ajisen Ramen with the same level, pig soup sweet Nuisance-what a surprise, all drains to GOD Ramen Nuisance Xun both, drying my rock, my hate GOD Xun taste. But I Wu Shi spicy, so fewer alternative styles.

“Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you”??????

Then, for fun, I took a look at the reviews of King’s Belly, the one western style bar in town with fish & chips and Guinness on tap (and the $138 burger). Here’s some translated review excerpts:

Have you heard of Westerners have salted it?

Well I guess I eat the sun / Yan day eating fried wild and Flow A No heat, so they are all fresh penne cautious.

Colleague sitting opposite me take the mouth, you Do not know baa?

It opened my death experience another food.

Fresh Pasta personal preferences eight mature, more and more tough pharyngeal taste.

Actually, without the translate plugin for Chrome, I wouldn’t be able to navigate essential (to me, anyway) HK websites like DCFever, Car8 or Mac.HK.  For short bits of text, it’s okay enough to navigate around. 

But seriously, shouldn’t Google be doing a better job of it at this point?

Monty Python Reunited!

The five surviving members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam) are reuniting for a series of 5 live shows to be held at London’s O2 Arena July 1st through 5th, 2014.  The first show in the 14,500 seat arena sold out in 43.5 seconds. Carol Cleveland will be joining them for the shows – that’s obviously her with them in the picture below.John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gillian, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland

Python disbanded in – wait for it – 1983. They reunited for a brief appearance at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 1997. 

There’s talk of an additional show at the Hollywood Bowl and even rumors of a full-on world tour (which I’m sure will omit Hong Kong).

Anyway, this video is the entire press conference in which they announced their reunion:

While I’m sure there’s no way I’ll get to see them live on this tour, at least I got to see them live in their prime, when they appeared at NYC’s City Center in 1976, and I’m sure there will be DVDs and all other sorts of odds and ends available to buy eventually.

12 Million Americans Think the World is Run by Lizard People

The Atlantic reports on a new poll by Public Policy Polling.  They surveyed 1,247 Americans.

Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?

And 4% of those responding said yes and another 7% said they weren’t sure. 5% said they think Paul McCartney died in 1966 (add me to that group, and I offer up “Silly Love Songs” as proof) and 13% think that Obama is the Anti-Christ.

Conspiracy Percent believing Number of Americans believing
JFK was killed by conspiracy 51 percent 160,096,160
Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs 44 percent 138,122,178
Global warming is a hoax 37 percent 116,148,195
Aliens exist 29 percent 91,035,072
New World Order 28 percent 87,895,931
Hussein was involved in 9/11 28 percent 87,895,931
A UFO crashed at Roswell 21 percent 65,921,948
Vaccines are linked to autism 20 percent 62,782,808
The government controls minds with TV 15 percent 47,087,106
Medical industry invents diseases 15 percent 47,087,106
CIA developed crack 14 percent 43,947,966
Bigfoot exists 14 percent 43,947,966
Obama is the Antichrist 13 percent 40,808,825
The government allowed 9/11 11 percent 34,530,544
Fluoride is dangerous 9 percent 28,252,264
The moon landing was faked 7 percent 21,973,983
Bin Laden is alive 6 percent 18,834,842
Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals 5 percent 15,695,702
McCartney died in 1966 5 percent 15,695,702
Lizard people control politics 4 percent 12,556,562

You can hit this link to read the full text of the questions and a break down and cross-correlation of the answers.



Finally! A Good Letter to the Editor in the SCMP

I’m not talking about this first one, which is typical of the nonsense that the South China Morning Post publishes daily in their Letters to the Editor space.

Light curfew will endanger people’s lives

It has come to my attention that some environmental groups are calling for a light curfew – all lights off after 11pm. I strongly oppose this.

First and foremost, imposing a light curfew, regrettable but true, will affect the image of Hong Kong as an international city.

The reason why is not hard to comprehend. Hong Kong is an international finance centre, which means there are a lot of financial activities. Many people are still working after 11pm, or even later. There will be terrible consequences if the light curfew is imposed.

The city is also famous for its beautiful views at night. All year round, tourists come to the Peak and Victoria Harbour to take in the stunning, lit-up skyline. Nobody wants to visit a pitch-black harbour.

Last but definitely not least, the light curfew poses safety problems.

Drug dealers, prostitutes and gangs are very active at night.

When the lights are turned off, how can citizens or the police see what these shady groups are up to? Tourists and citizens will not be fully alert to the dangers around them.

Just let our prosperous city flourish and shine as it always has.

Angie Tsang Yeung-tsz, Sha Tin

The above is typical of what the SCMP publishes. Letters from people protesting things that they have no understanding of.  The SCMP then relies on other letter writers to do their fact checking for them, because of course the last thing a newspaper should be concerned with is whether or not the things it publishes are factually accurate or not. But today there’s a letter responding to the above that I hereby nominate as The Best Letter The SCMP Has Ever Published.

Light touch illuminates the dark side

I truly enjoyed Angela Tsang’s humour (“Light curfew will endanger people’s lives”, April 8).

Her combination of anachronisms and subtle wit must have lifted your readers’ spirits at a time when our government seeks to make these dark economic times a little darker.

I hope to see more of Ms Tsang’s carefully crafted irony in future as she tackles other important Hong Kong issues. Letters such as this justify your continued use of pulp and ink in this modern paperless age.

Margaret Silverstine, Lantau

Margaret Silverstine is my Hero Of The Day.



Mark Andreessen and Dan Aykroyd

Don’t get me wrong. I think Mark Andreessen is brilliant.  But take a look at this new photo of him with his partners (announcing establishing a VC fund for start-ups developing apps for Google Glass):



That’s him on the left. Tell me he doesn’t look like Dan Aykroyd. Perhaps not every day Aykroyd, I’m thinking about when he performed a certain character back in his SNL days and in a pretty bad movie.



I’m just sayin’.

Louis C.K. Does It Again

Last year, Louis C.K.’s annual stand-up comedy special made history because he premiered it on his own website, selling it for 5 bucks for a DRM-free download.  And it had hundreds of thousands of paid downloads, making back its cost, earning a profit (some of which C.K. donated to charities) and had lots of imitators in its wake.

But this year, he’s gone back to the traditional route, with his special premiering on HBO.  No word on why the step backwards.  However, the promo for it is quite good.