Thursday, July 30, 2009


Russia does not believe in tears: some of the latest, greatest news stories from Pravda.

Russia Loses Its Poker Face Entirely
Before the sad break-up of the Soviet Union, chess used to be a national sport, if not a valued art form. It was said that any Muscovite cab driver was of international grandmaster standard. So it's a bleak day for the Russian nation when, that most American of games, good ol' Texas hold'em poker has become so popular that steps have to be taken to ban it, and furthermore on the grounds that it's not a 'sport'. It reminds of that recent Haiti documentary I saw (whose name escapes me), whilst hoping to discover some new things about vaudou, learnt that all the kids wear baseball caps and Nike trainers, and are into Tupac, Shaq O'Neal, and drive-bys. So depressing.

Michael Jackson’s Bubbles Probably Became World’s Richest Chimp
If this is true, I don't care what you say about Jacko. I've absolutely no idea on what grounds he was ever hailed as a musical genius - but then the same could be said about Elvis 'The King Of Rock 'N' Roll' Presley (assuming he is in fact dead), Brian Jones, and Jim fucking Morrison. Aside from prurient curiosity, neither do I care what he got up to (or not) in his bedroom at Neverland, nor whether his children are really his, nor whether he actually had sex with a woman. However, if he's left $2,000,000 to Bubbles the Chimp, then he's a damn saint in my book.

Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport Ranked World's Second Worst
Thus one immediately wonders which could be the worst; and there are plenty of candidates that come to mind without ever having suffered the alleged indignities of Sheremetyevo. The joyless purgatory that is Heathrow quickly springs to mind for its universally rude unpleasantly inept officious staff, its unending corridors to nowhere in particular, its retail overkill, and the outdoor queueing; not to forget inevitable delays and guaranteed loss of baggage. Then there'd be Stansted or Luton (alternative so-called 'London' airports), both vortices to oblivion; the vertiginous nightmare landing strip at Hong Kong's Kai Tak (though now no more); O'Hare (Chicago's own version of the Gaza checkpoints on a bad day); and surely many other worthy nominees. Is Moscow's really that bad??



Richo said...

As someone who uses it regularly, I've never once had a bad experience at Stansted. When I land there, I'm usually at a local car rental place within an hour, and when I fly from there I've always found the staff (with Ryanair) pretty helpful and rather forgiving of my usually slightly overweight baggage (those darn pots of Marmite!). Not half as well travelled as you, William, but this particular airport's fine in my estimation. The retail outlets, one can ignore if so desired...

William Bennett said...

speaking of Ryanair, Richo, I just read today that they're pulling their EDI-Krakow route, amongst some others :-(

Richo said...

Well, that certainly buggers things up for the next time we try and get you over here. And I was likewise considering another trip to that wonderful city you reside in at some point too. Maybe another low budget airline will pick up the mantle instead? Fingers crossed!

William Bennett said...

there's still SleazyJet :-) but the fares might not be quite as competitive ofc

Grandpa Scorpion said...

Have anyone ever had the misfortune of using Newark airport?

One time after I had exited a plane was about to enter the terminal, I saw several security guards sitting in wheelchairs having a little demolition derby. The mind boggles.

Thomas Bey William Bailey said...

I remember the whole wacky and inexplicable "Texas Hold 'Em" craze got going at about the time when the National Hockey League (misnomer alert- Canada and the U.S. are not a single nation) was on strike. Cable sports channels were looking for something, anything, to fill the broadcast gaps left by lack of hockey games, and that's what they came up with- it began spreading like wildfire to the point where NHL broadcasts were not renewed for the following post-strike season.

So, given that the league was and still is stacked with imported Russian talent, they must be looking on in dismay at the fact that this pedestrian card game has not only made their skills less in demand Stateside, but is invading the homeland as well.

Although the decline in the popularity of chess is, of course, the real tragedy here.

And no need to tell me about O'hare, or Heathrow- both of them seemingly designed to make missed connecting flights an inevitability rather than an unpleasant exception.

William Bennett said...

so much for RyanAir and Stansted....;jsessionid=5FB65AACEAC4FBA39AAF71FA620A33FC