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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ryanair calendar 2008



Agent Triple P tries to avoid budget airlines if at all possible. However, some years ago we had to fly to Dublin and did so on Ryanair for the sum of £9.99 return. It was a most unpleasant experience with the real issue being the lack of space between seat rows.


Miss January, Julia


Ryanair have been voted worst airlines in the world by Tripadvisor, for the fourth year running, with a massive 41% of the vote. Earlier this year they were voted as one of the ten least ethical companies in the world.


Miss February, Jaroslava

A Which? survey last month put Ryanair second worst for travellers. Apart from uncomfortable seats and rude staff most complaints are about the extra charges they levy for virtually everything (they are planning to introduce a charge for using the toilet!).


Miss March, Karolina



Agent Triple P used to work for someone whose brother was a Ryanair pilot and she refused to fly with them. Something to do with maintenance intervals being somewhat further apart than on, say, British Airways.


Miss April, Nicola


Given this horrendous reputation it's perhaps not surprising that someone within Ryanair thought that maybe bringing out a charity calendar would engender some positive publicity for a change.

Miss May, Olga


Amazingly, they decided to go for a girlie calendar featuring some of their stewardesses. Even more amazingly 800 of their cabin crew applied for the 12 places.

Miss June, Magda


The stunt backfired when people questioned the image of having scantily clad girls posing to raise money for a children's charity . The press agreed of course, whilst, at the same time taking the opportunity to show as may pages as possible from the calendar.

Miss July, Edita


Having located all 12 pages of the Spanish Air Comet girls we feel that it is only fair to present all 12 of the Ryanair girls from their first calendar in 2008.


Miss August, Vera

Interestingly, a quick scan of their names shows that very few would seem to originate from the Emerald Isle. Not surprisingly, most have Eastern European names as do most models the world over, these days.

Miss September, Iris


This does start to explain one of the great mysteries of Triple P's teenage years: why were there no attractive women in the mid seventies? Today, films, magazines and the internet are stuffed with bikini wearing lovelies but in 1975, nothing.

Miss October, Joanna

The answer, of course, was that they were all behind the iron curtain building tractors, working on collective farms and taking drugs to postpone puberty so they could compete as gymnasts.


Miss November, Ingrid

From the nineteen eighties (to be fair, Penthouse spotted the potential of them even earlier) a flood of Eastern European lovelies has cascaded from the lands of Plodni Splodni into the west to completely dominate all froms of modelling from catwalk to porn.

Miss December, Dominika

Such must be the competition, that those who can't quite make it sign up as air hostesses, luckily for us. Unluckily for us none of them seem to join British Airways or Air Canada.


Misses September, May, November, February, June and January in uniform

Even more excitement would be generated by the frothing press with the publication of the 2009 calendar, but that must wait for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little Jewels of Perfection 4: Sea of Dreams by Nelson Riddle



So, imagine that you are Agent Triple P for a moment. You have just arrived in a city after a long flight from London or Vancouver or Toronto or any of the other places we fly to other places from. You are somewhat weary but you realise that you need to stay awake another few hours to help adjust to the different time zone. You have met up with your companion for the visit and are exploring your suite overlooking the sea. Possibly you are in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica (although you are some way from the sea in a suite) or the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. You have had a companionable shower or bath and are drinking a glass of Champagne or possibly even a cocktail which you have ordered on room service or have brilliantly assembled from the minibar. As you gaze out over the moonlit sea and contemplate whether to go downstairs for dinner or order room service you need some truly sensuous and relaxing music to unwind to whilst you watch your companion dress for dinner...

...and what music goes better with a palm tree framed moonlit sea view in the background, the rustle of silk lingerie in the foreground and the gentle fizz from your glass of Laurent Perrier Rose Brut? There can be only one answer: the sublime Sea of Dreams (1958) by Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra. This record is the quintessence of lush orchestral music. Warm, sensual and utterly hypnotic it is like pouring Yemeni Sidr honey over Eva Green's tummy and getting Scarlett Johansson to lick it off. The third track Tanga Tahiti is one of the most romantic pieces of music ever recorded; full of an erotic longing unmatched by almost any other piece of music we know. Two minutes and thirty-one seconds of utter brilliance.



Nelson Riddle was the greatest arranger in American popular music with an extraordinary ability to let the music breathe, especially when showcasing one of the singers he worked with such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitgerald. His five album recording of Ella Fitgerald sings the Gershwin Songbook (1959), made a year after Sea of Dreams, included But Not for Me which won Fitzgerald the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female. It also contains another of Triple P's favourite arrangements How High the Moon.

Riddle was born in Oradell, New Jersey in 1921. He studied piano as a child but switched to trombone and following his war service in the merchant marine he got a job as a trombonist in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He studied arranging and conducting under film composer Victor Young and Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; most famous these days for his guitar concerto.

He started to work with Nat King Cole and by the fifties had his own orchestra recording with Capitol Records. Capitol encouraged Frank Sinatra, whose career had stalled somewhat, to work with Riddle and their first track together was I’ve Got the World on a String. This led to a partnership which continued for twenty years. For many the sound of Sinatra and the sound of Riddle are synonymous.

Late in his life, Riddle had something of a renaissance, working on three albums with Linda Ronstadt. Nelson Riddle died in 1985 at the age of 64. We are forever grateful to him for the wonderful sounds in Sea of Dreams, which has been the incidental music to many of our most enjoyable evenings.

One final bonus is that the cover of the album features the lovely Margaret Empey, Playboy's Playmate of the Month for both May 1955 and February 1956.

Track listing:

1. Out Of The Night
2. My Isle Of Golden Dreams
3. Tangi Tahiti
4. Dream
5. There's No You
6. Drifting And Dreaming
7. Easter Isle
8. Let's Fall In Love
9. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
10. Put Your Dreams Away (For Another Day)
11. Autumn Leaves
12. Sea Of Dreams


You can buy Sea of Dreams with the very nearly as good Love Tide (1961) in a double album set. And you should!

The Elephant Parade...and other plastic animals

You'll never get one south of the river after 10.00pm


Over the last 12 years perfectly normal cities have been suffering from curious outbreaks of fibreglass (alright, resin) animals. Agent Triple P first came across theis phenomenon when visiting Agent DVD in Zurich in 1998, where they were infested, naturally, by 812 cows. The Swiss government, trying to escape the bad publicity caused by their banks refusing to return money to holocaust victim's families, pumped money into what they thought would be a jovial, informal and fun (all very Swiss traits, those) tourist attraction. The idea took off and New York, then Chicago followed the idea. This is where it all went wrong as the Swiss believed that they had sole rights to the concept. Nevertheless after a bit of jovial and fun protesting to the Americans they agreed to send 50 of their cows to New York. Unfortunately, the Swiss donated cows were found by the New Yorkers to be highly flammable and unstable. The Americans kicked the Swiss (actually made in Bosnia) cows out. Then the original sculptor of the cows tried to claim that only he could make fibreglass cows and that he had a copyright on the whole idea. Multiple competing companies sprang up, all claiming that they had the rights to cow parades which then started to happen all over the world. Some even appeared in London in 2002.


Moose in Toronto


Next, in 2000, we saw some of the 326 moose in Toronto (there is still the odd one lurking about). Whilst moose (why is the plural not meese, like geese?) are very Canadian they are not in fact, native to the Toronto region but then again Toronto often forgets that it is not, in fact, synonymous with Canada.



Berlin bears over all


Then, in 2001 we saw bears on the streets of Berlin (at least the bear is the city's symbol) where they were known as "buddy bears" and were all about international peace and co-operation, which is exactly what always springs to mind when you think about Berlin, of course.

A pig which would be most familiar to HMS


The next outbreak we witnessed was a load of pigs in Bath (less comprehensible that one) which were positive midgets compared to the seven foot tall Toronto meese.

Latterly, London has been inundated by elephants. Elephants do not have anything to do with London (other than if you are living in Southwark) but are there to publicise a charity aimed at saving the Asian elephant from extinction. As usual with these sorts of animal sculpture efforts the 250 elephants in question were decorated by an assortment of artists on behalf of companies and others. Very much the best of these, in Triple P's opinion was the one which sat outside our favourite breakfast and afternoon tea location in the City, the Royal Exchange (see top). It is a perfect amalgam of elephant and London.

An early attempt at a plastic Cheryl Tweedy


Next time we embark upon this sort of thing in London might we suggest that we use a plastic model of one of our national icons such as Cheryl Tweedy (as she now wants to be known again) or Kelly Brook, rather than dumb animals. Stop it, we are appalled that you are thinking "plastic" and "dumb animals" in conjunction with "most appropriate" at this point...

Tea is good for you. Tea is bad for you.

Clear evidence that tea will continue to be drunk in the future


Agent Triple P does not drink coffee, considering it a barbarians drink which tastes like water from a rusty boiler filtered through burnt mud. Tea, however, is a civilised person's drink. There has been much discussion in the press of late about the medicinal benefits of tea.

Last year a study carried out by the Moffitt Cancer Centre in Tampa, Florida reckoned that for women under 50, drinking three or more cups of tea every day slashes the risk of breast cancer by 37 per cent. Other studies have suggested that plant chemicals in tea called catechins could protect against a range of cancers as they slow the growth of cancer cells.

A week ago, a Dutch study conducted on a sample of 40,000 people over 13 years showed that those who drank more than four cups of coffeee or six cups of tea a day cut their risk of heart disease by a third, according to Professor Yvonne van der Schouw, Professor of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at UMC Utrecht.

Now this is a problem. Six cups of tea a day is quite a lot. Triple P usually has one first thing in the morning then, perhaps one mid morning. One after lunch if he has been out to lunch and then, maybe, another mid afternoon. This makes four, which is what coffee drinkers have to manage. To fit in another two would be quite tricky. That is a lot of tea to manage every day.

Agent Triple P's cup.


Now of course, tea cups vary in size and so we may be alright given our usual tea cup is actually one of these: a souvenir from Triple P's favourite hotel casino in Las Vegas. It holds 0.42 of a litre, or about 15 fluid ounces. Now a normal cup is about eight fluid ounces so maybe we are getting closer than we think! Vague comments about numbers of cups of tea have no place in a scientific report (unless they gave an exact amount of liquid to be consumed a day and the stupid journalists converted it themselves to cups).

However all is not well. Another study out this month, of women aged between 50 and 79, from Georgetown University says that women drinking more than four cups a day have a significantly raised risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Although they don't know what it is in the tea that causes the problem they claim that coffee didn't have this effect.

Oh well, we would say that the problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis, nasty though it is, are not as bad as cancer or heart disease so we will stick to our tea.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Calendar Girl June: Abbey Clancy


This month's somewhat low-rent calendar girl is, appropriately, original WAG Abigail Clancy, girlfriend of tragically unhip footballer Peter Crouch. Her relationship with gangly robotic non-dancer Crouch became public at the previous World Cup whilst she was appearing on Britain's Next Top Model (she came second). Unfortunately, she was sent home in disgrace half way through the tournament amidst allegations of cocaine taking and cheating on her boyfriend.


Now twenty four, she suffers from the insurmountable problem, for Triple P, of coming from Liverpool which is why we really can't be bothered to find out that much about her as however nice she looks we know that she will have that accent.


She actually does look quite nice with a reasonable waist/hip ratio and a nicely proportionate (and, apparently, real) bust.


She is a rather lanky 5'9" tall which still means that she is an amazing 10 inches shorter than her fiancé.



Southwest Airlines Stewardesses of the 1970s





After British Airways Southwest Airlines is probably the airline we have flown most with due to a slew of city hopping tours in the Western United States over the past few years. Back in the early seventies the appeal of an airline's trolley dollies was a critcal part of their marketing as these adverts from 1972 show.






Today the female Southwest Airlines cabin crew uniform is one of the ugliest (like their aircraft colours) you will see. In particular, the shorts that they wear (and it is hot many of the places they fly to) are quite horrible, particularly on some of their larger ladies. Of course, back in the far from equal seventies there were far less obese Americans than today and if you were fat you wouldn't have got a job as a stewardess anyway.


Never will we see the like of this again. Surely the sexiest stewardess picture ever. If one photo would make you fly Southwest this would be it.



And, of course, if you didn't want to wear hot pants you could always opt for a miniskirt instead! Flying must have been a lot more fun in the seventies!


It's the boots with cutaway holes that do it, of course...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our favourite record cover...


...is this one for the Alexander Gibson Sibelius 2nd on Classics for Pleasure from 1973. It uses a wonderful photograph and has a lovely typeface. The cover, which incorporates a sketch of the composer taken from a 1913 photograph (actually ten years after the symphony was first performed), was designed by Clare Osborne and is an elegant seventies classic.

Sibelius is, of course, Agent Triple P's favourite composer and we own pretty much all of his recorded music. This particular disc was the first Sibelius piece we owned and we must have bought it pretty much as soon as it came out in 1973. We can't now remember exactly why we decided to buy a piece of Sibelius; most of our classical collection at that time consisting of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Wagner. We suspect that the cover of this album had a lot to do with it. Young people who only know CDs (and really young people think even they are old fashioned!) don't appreciate the visual effect in a shop of a good 12"x12" record cover.
The photograph on the front is well chosen to evoke the sunny and relaxed opening of the piece and the conifers, lake and mountains evoke a suitably Scandinavian feel. Of course the question of whether Finland is a Scandinavian country is moot. Whilst having been part of Sweden until 1809, when the second symphony was written Finland was a grand Duchy within Russia. Indeed there have been arguments that the second symphony itself was making a nationalistic statement, as the Russians sought to suppress Finnish language and culture. Sibelius never confirmed this but his close friend, the Finnish conductor, Georg Schneevoigt wrote of it: "The first movement depicts the quiet, pastoral life of the Finns undisturbed by the thoughts of oppression. The second movement is charged with patriotic feeling, but the thought of brutal strife brings with it the timidity of the soul. The third, in the nature of a scherzo, portrays the awakening of national feeling, the desire to organise defence of their rights, while in the finale hope enters their breasts and there is comfort in the anticipated coming of a deliverer."

However, evocative though the front cover photograph is, it doesn't, of course, look anything like Finland; which has nothing approaching the towering mountains depicted. It could be a Norwegian fjord but it should be remembered that whenever advertisers want to depict a Scandinavian landscape with fjords they tend to fly straight to New Zealand where they film in fiordland in the south west corner of South Island. It could even be a lake in the Rockies; who knows? The cover for CFP's matching recording of Sibelius 1st symphony featured a cold frozen lake which, again, went well with the E minor key of that piece.

In reality, somewhat surprisingly, the 2nd symphony was conceived, and partly written (part of the slow movement), in the Mediterranean resort of Rapallo in Italy (rather akin to the fact that La Mer was written in Eastbourne!) during a holiday Sibelius and his family took in 1901. The first performance of the piece took place on March 8th 1902 in Helsinki to a rapturous reception.
We can't say that it is our favourite Sibelius symphony (that is probably the 3rd) but it is one of our top three (with the 5th). Triple P's original LP was stolen and when we replaced the piece we did so with Gibson's later digital recording, also recorded by the SNO but ten years after this 1972 CFP version. Gibson, of course, was one of the great conductors of Sibelius and, indeed was awarded the Sibelius medal in 1978. Gibson's great ability as a Sibelian was to be able to effortlessly ride the flow and evolution of the composer's music without bringing too much staccato choppiness to it.
Oddly, our acquisition of this record coincided with Triple P's first attempt to read The Hobbit and so, in our mind the music conjures up images of The Shire. We have to say that Peter Jackson's visual rendition of The Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring was, to Triple P, the least successful part of the film. We had imagined a more heavily wooded, less open, landscape and feel that the New Zealand location contained fields that were too large with not enough hedgerows.
Anyway, when we saw this record on the internet we had to buy it just for the cover!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black and White Babe of the Week: 24 Diane Kruger



Agent Triple P is having something of a Bronze Age phase at present and is watching various TV and film versions of the Trojan Wars story. How appropriate, therefore, to present the German actress Diane Kruger, who played Helen in Wolfgang Petersen's flawed but still enjoyable Troy (2003).




Miss Heidkrüger (to give her her correct name), who is now 33, wanted to become a ballerina when she was a child and actually won a place at the Royal Ballet School before an injury prematurely ended her dancing career. She moved to Paris, became a model and later took acting classes. Although she has appeared in around twenty films Troy remains her most famous role, although there was some negative criticism about her not being beautiful or charismatic enough for Helen and her acting being as wooden as the horse.
Currently, her main cinematic employment seems to be in the sub-Indiana Jones type National Treasure films with Nicholas Cage. Diane displays a suspiciously larger bust in Troy than she does in these pictures from her modelling days but that could have been because director Wolfgang Petersen got her to put 15lbs weight on for the part to make her look curvier.




Just so that you can appreciate her in colour here are some shots by Antoine Verglas for German Vogue.




Her boyfriend is, very much the best actor in Dawson's Creek, Joshua Jackson, and they split their time between Vancouver and Paris: what a trial.


Worth launching a thousand ships for? Perhaps not, but certainly worth launching something to pick her up out of the sea..

Constellation hammered by back door manoeuvering

Project Constellation's Ares V launcher (artist's impression)


NASA has come up with a cunning way to implement President Obama's desire to cut Project Constellation, the planned new heavy lifter for the Americans. With Congress supporting the project but Obama against it the Obama appointed NASA Administrator, Charlie Boden, a veteran of four space flights, has written to private sector contractors working on the project telling them they need to cut right back to allow for termination costs if the thing is cancelled. This effectively means that many of the skilled staff involved will be lost making continuing with the project nigh on impossible. Congress is furious, saying that NASA is using a legal wrinkle to sabotage the project and hamstringing Congress, who were due to pass a law forcing NASA to continue with the project later this month, as a result. The problem is that Constellation needs an extra $3 billion a year to be viable. NASA, a big target at a time of swingeing budget cuts, is anxous to preserve its current programmes hence their apparent keenness to roll over on this.


Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral on Friday June 4th


With particularly bad timing for the Constellation backers the privately funded Falcon 9 launcher had a successful maiden launch ten days ago, carrying a dummy Dragon spacecraft which is designed to carry, ultimately, cargo and crew. It is built by the SpaceX company which was set up by PayPal founder Elon Musk. Despite some minor problems, it hit its test target area 155 miles above the Earth to within 1% accuracy. Obama wants the private sector to provide launch capability going forward and the successful Falcon 9 launch goes a long way to making that likely. At 177 feet tall and nearly 12 feet in diameter this is a serious offering from the private sector and SpaceX have already won a contract to resupply the International Space Station in the future.


Ares V (artist's impression)


The big problem for Project Constellation is that it wanted to do too many things: be an orbital supply rocket, a Moon capable launcher and, ultimately, a launcher for a Mars mission. The simpler, one task private rockets are stealing a march on it just as the old Russian rockets did for commercial sattellite launches. The real competition for the future, is going to come from Asia and we are sure that the Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are already eyeing up some of the staff currently working on Constellation.


India's 144 foot tall successful PSLV rocket

Monday, June 7, 2010

1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

25,675 were made. But how many pink ones?


When Don Draper, of Mad Men, feels that he has made it the car he buys for himself as a reward is a 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.




The first Cadillac called a Coupe de Ville appeared in 1949 but the name denoted a trim option rather than a different model. However, by the time 1962 version came along there had been a series of distinctly separate models: all two door coupes. A far from manoeuverable 18'6" long and nearly 6'8" wide it had an eco-friendly 6.3 litre angine which (eventually) would drag its two ton plus body up to 120 mph. The features and extras would have been astonishing to a British car owner in 1962: powered seat, electric windows, automatically dimming headlights, air conditioning, tinted windows, radio with powered aerial, cruise control, central locking and remote boot opening. Oddly, the 1962 model was the first to come with heating! It came at the fairly hefty price of $5,385.


Pixie Lott

A nice bar for a Martini

Well, no sooner had we featured Miss Lott, as a recent calendar girl, than we see the young lady in question in a bar. Agent Triple P was just having a (very nice) cup of tea in The May Fair (yes the pretentious space is deliberate) Hotel bar when he thought he would take a picture as a possible venue for a Martini Club meeting. Paying no attention to who was in the shot one of said people subsequently came over to speak to some friends sitting next to Triple P and it turned out it was none other than pop poppet Pixie in person.


We can't enlarge it any more without it becoming pixellated

She was standing a good two feet away and we can report that she is much prettier in person (although wearing too much make-up) and that her famous legs are obviously Photoshopped. She actually had nice legs but they were certainly not as stick thin as some pictures make out. The poor girl also had to put up with a posse of paparazzi sticking their lenses through the window right behind Triple P, annoyingly.

Kelly Brook to pose for Playboy

Kelly poses with digitally inserted lion

Splendid news that the luscious Kelly Brook has agreed to pose for some "tasteful" pictures for a forthcoming Playboy; for a modest fee of $500,000 ( a bargain, surely?). Lets just hope they don't: plaster on too much make-up so that the poor girl is unrecognisable; do some "arty" layout, like this month's FHM shoot (we want to look at Kelly not some badly inserted lion); put her in some really ugly fashions or Photoshop her to the extent that she looks like a waxwork. Well, alright the last is probably wishful thinking. No date for her appearance has been set yet but at least Agent Triple P has now found a shop in London that actually sells Playboy.



A lot of writing with a girl behind it

What a shadow of its former self this magazine has become. This month's issue is a measly 152 pages compared with June 1976, which we are currently researching for Venus Observations, which is a hefty 234 pages.



A girl with some writing

The 1976 cover actually has more words on it than the 2010 one but they take up a lot less space. Less is more, chaps...