Daily Bite December 2009

By Nicola Harvey

This month in the Daily Bite: The Rolling Stones, noughtisms, flying objects, Christmas at the White House and much more.

18.12.09: Oh yes, it’s The Rolling Stones

Of all the end of the decade music lists compiled, none has a less surprising name at the pinnacle than the list of top touring artists of the 2000s. Taking pride of place at number one is The Rolling Stones, of course. The group of elderly legends played 264 shows in the decade and made a smooth US$869 million.

17.12.09: US super celebs … oops I mean politicians fly in to save the world

World leaders were joined at the Copenhagen summit on December 15 by Arnold Schwarzenegger the Governor of California and Al Gore, the former US Senator, who flew in to add impetus to the talks.

They joined Prince Charles – the other green super hero – who told the UN-backed conference that world leaders owed it to “our children and grand children” to make a difference.

“The future of mankind can be assured only if we rediscover ways in which to live as a part of nature, not apart from her,” he said. “The grim reality is that our planet has reached a point of crisis and we have only seven years before we lose the levers of control.”

Not to be outdone, Mr Schwarzenegger called for a “planetary transformation” to save the world from climate change.

Meanwhile, perhaps feeling a little left out, Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London, said the Copenhagen climate conference was in danger of failing if environmentalists continued to “overdose” on gloom.

16.12.09: Noughtyisms: the best words of the decade

Call it slang, jargon, or a little bit of laziness, either way making up words is just plain ole fun. Here’s our pick of the best from the UK Guardian’s list.

2000: glomp (US campus) to jump and hug someone from behind

2001: barbecue stopper (Australia) an issue of major public importance, which will excite the interest of voters

2003: meh (US, from “The Simpsons”) boring, apathetic or unimpressive

2004: J.Lo (Wall Street) the rounding bottom in a stock’s price chart

2005: twixters (US) fully-grown men and women who still live with their parents

2006: flashpackers (Australia) intrepid, but comfortably-off travellers

2007: menoporsche (UK) the phenomenon of middle-aged men attempting to recapture their lost youth by buying an expensive sports car

2008: twuncing (UK) when walkers drive two cars to the end point of their walk, and then ride together in one car to the starting point; after the walk they drive together to the starting point to collect the other vehicle

2009: generica (US) features of the American landscape (strip malls, motel chains, prefab housing) that are exactly the same no matter where one is.

15.12.09: Raspberries, lavender, ash and chocolate

How valuable do you think your taste buds are?  At a guess it’s unlikely to be around the $23 million mark, right?  English wine expert Angela Mount, on the other hand, is adamant hers are worth a whopping amount, insuring both her nose and throat for near $23 million while employed as head wine buyer for UK retailer Somerfield.   Now the woman with the refined senses has been appointed brand ambassador to a little New Zealand winery called Invivo, launched in 2007 by Rob Cameron and Tim Lightbourne.  Reported in the Sunday Star Times, Mount claims, “there is an inherent elegance about [Invivo’s wines]. There is an intensity of fruit, but it’s refined, it’s subtle, it’s lingering and it’s not one of those ‘it hits you in the face and then disappears’ type of wines.”

Sounds like a good recommendation for a Christmas stocking present, don’t you think?

14.12.10: Old fashioned cool


The city renowned for its tumultuous windy weather has calmed ahead of tonight’s New Zealand premier of hometown favourite Peter Jackson’s latest film The Lovely Bones.


In town to walk the red carpet with her co-stars, Hollywood darling and MiNDFOOD cover star Susan Sarandon waxes lyrical on New Zealander’s generosity and ole fashioned coolness. New Zealander’s she says are “very sweet, kind of like New Yorkers, they’re too cool to scream and jump up and down. They’re like ‘hey, like your movie, how’s the family’, they’re not hysterical, unlike other countries”.

12.12.09: Like the Beatles and Kanye

What news!  Lindsay Lohan has been sent to India to make a documentary for the BBC. This is not a joke.

This curious project springs forth from the programming loins of BBC3, those responsible for shows such as Freaky Eaters and My Man Boobs.  At present, the BBC is declining to expand on the precise details of Lohan’s mission, but there are indications that the Mean Girls star will be investigating trafficking of women and children.  Happily, Lindsay is far more forthcoming and her Twitter feed – live from India – enthuses: “Over 40 children saved so far, within one day’s work” … “This is what life is about . . . Doing THIS is a life worth living!!! Oh, and I’m talking about being in India.”

11.12.09: Sustainably stylish

As the world’s most powerful leaders debate climate change in Copenhagen, the world’s fashion leaders are gathering in the same city for an industry summit on sustainable fashion.

Discussing the fashion industry’s impact on the world will be senior figures from the Gucci Group, Levi Strauss, Esquel, environmentally conscious retailer Edun and Barneys New York – as well as HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Far from the cliché hemp and home-knitted creations the Sustainable Fashion runway show proved that great style need not come at the cost of the environment. Check out pics straight from the runway.

10.12.09: It’s real Italian pizza

It measures up to 35cm in diameter and has an elevated rim of 1-2cm. It must contain tomato, basil and genuine mozzarella.

As of today – if it does not, it cannot be described as a true pizza napoletana.

To the delight of the Italian government, a committee in Brussels awarded the red, green and yellowy-white pizza more commonly known in Italy, and the rest of the world, as a pizza margherita the status of a traditional speciality guaranteed.

The agriculture minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government, Luca Zaia, called it the outcome of “a great battle won for Italy, notwithstanding the obstacles erected by certain member states”.

09.12.09: Rocking the royal life

One can only imagine what Queen Elizabeth II was thinking confronted by US pop tart Lady Gaga donned in a floor-length scarlet-colored pleather dress and red Kiss-esque eye makeup.   Her dubious courtesy / bow / dip upon meeting the Queen prefaced a turn for the Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool, an annual benefit for Britain’s Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund.  Also on hand and making less of ‘avant-garde’ pop statement was the entertaining stalwart Bette Midler who quipped, “I have been singing for queens my entire life. At last I’m singing in front of a real one.”

08.12.09: All that glitters is not gold

The creator of a subtle and unashamedly beautiful fresco in gold leaf has been named the winner of this year’s most prestigious UK art prize. Glasgow-based Richard Wright, 49, used the age-old, painstaking techniques of the old masters to make his glistening wall painting for the Turner prize exhibition at Tate Britain in London. And yet when the show closes on 3 January 2010, it will simply be painted over in white emulsion and lost for ever.

Wright, was awarded £25,000 in prize money at a ceremony at Tate Britain.  He beat three other shortlisted artists: Enrico David, fellow Glaswegian Lucy Skaer, and Roger Hiorns. Each of the runners up receives £5,000.

07.12.10: Unidentified Flying Objects blow the budget

After more than 50 years of service, Britain’s Ministry of Defense  has shut down its UFO investigation unit, saying it could no longer justify the cost of running the service.

The ministry said it had found no evidence of a threat to Britain or proof of the existence of extra-terrestrials, despite the public sending thousands of reportings of UFOs to a ministry hotline and email address.

It said it held no opinion on the existence or otherwise of alien life, but added it had “no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings.”

06.12.01: All aboard!

A train carrying 450 UN officials, environmental activists and journalists has begun the journey from Brussels to Copenhagen ahead of the international climate conference this week.

The United Nations says the train trip symbolises efforts to ensure the conference will have a small carbon footprint.

Shame all the other global leaders and environment ministers will be arriving in their own planes. But then again, it’s the symbolism that counts.

05.12.09: Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew

When Christmas cheer hits the White House it really hits the White House.  US first lady Michelle Obama unveiled a sparkly Christmas bonanza this week, showing off some 3,400 man hours worth of decorating. True to environmental form the US President and his wife are celebrating the festive season with recycled ornaments, natural materials, and a gingerbread White House.


04.12.09: To the Manor Born

At last, the most ludicrous celebrity product of all time: close your eyes and begin salivating for Liz Hurley’s beef jerky.

It is the first foodstuff to be commercially produced by madam’s organic farm in Gloucestershire, UK. For those unaware of this agrarian idyll, it provides the backdrop for the charming tableaux of rural life with which Liz is given to providing various glossy magazines every six months. Here she is on a swing wearing stilettos; there she is giggling suggestively at a goat.

The whole country lady shtick is part of Liz’s enduringly hilarious campaign to present herself as a sort of white-jeaned Mitford sister (non-Nazi model), when in fact she grew up in suburban Basingstoke and is about as To the Manor Born as Cher.

03.12.09: Spooking the whales

Last year, the Japanese whaling fleet, in a bid to rid themselves of their tail the Sea Shepherd, started to employ a long-range acoustic device that sent out a high-pitched shrill like a smoke detector in an attempt to disorient their foes. While annoying, it did little to keep Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd team from their nuisance campaign.

Now in reply, Pete Bethune, captain of the new Sea Shepherd stealth boat “Ady Gil”, has revealed that he’ll be blaring the song “Tangaroa” from NZ musician Tiki Taane. “It’s a little bit of mind games,” he told a New Zealand radio station. “We’re not down there to make friends with them – we’re down there to intimidate them and disrupt them and see what we can do to make life difficult.”

To broadcast the music, Bethune has installed an array of speakers on the Ady Gil capable of producing 9,000 watts of sound. He plans to crank it while circling the harpoon ships and getting in between them and the whales.

Sounds like a dubious plan, but entertaining nonetheless.

02.12.09: Magic Typewriter

This Friday, Cormac McCarthy will auction off the portable Olivetti manual typewriter on which he wrote The Road, No Country for Old Men, and eleven other novels; Christie’s estimates it’ll go for between $15,000 and $20,000.

No proceeds are due to go charity, nor to set up an education fund, we just find it mildly interesting to learn people still type on manual typewriters! Anyone who’s hammered out a note on one such antiquated contraption will appreciate the epic task of writing 13 novels.

Page, by laborious page, by laborious page.

01.12.09: McMansion?  What is a McMansion, by the way?

The American “McMansion” has reportedly met its match. A new study reports that Australians now live in the world’s largest homes, overtaking the US in the rankings and coming in just ahead of New Zealand.

The study, commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, found that the average Australian house had grown by 10 per cent in the past decade to 214.6 square meters, nearly three times the size of the average British house.

The average New Zealand house also sits at a very immodest 196.2 square meters, so it’s little wonder property prices are so high in the antipodes.


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