Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beatboxing clever

I'm sure you've just been waiting to read about the first Mongolian human beatbox, one B.Narandelger, helpfully known simply as Ray.  Ray's previous achievements include combining traditional throat singing with the harmonica, which is perhaps not something the world really needed, though apparently people in South Korea admired it very much. 

The article also contains an intriguing, if slightly unconvincing, history of human beatboxing.  Apparently, the tradition is thought to have originated in India several thousand years ago but - in case you were wondering - this had 'little relation with hip hop'.  Rather more startlingly, the article then suggests that 'one could conclude that beatboxing was invented by...Syd Barrett'.  The late Mr Barrett was doubtless a remarkable talent, but I suspect that this might have been news even to him.  In fact, the article concludes,'his style of beatboxing was dissimilar from what one today would compare beatboxing with'.  Well, quite.  

But never fear.  The future of beatboxing is safe, because Ray has already founded the Union of Mongolian Beatboxing Artists.  I look forward to attending their inaugural meeting.  Just don't ask me to take the minutes.  

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flying on sheepskin wings

Here's a splendidly atmospheric account of a hunt for dinosaurs in the Gobi.  Sadly, Daniel Wood found none, but he stumbled across plenty of other riches...

Pounding the (long) beat

Readers of The Shadow Walker will recall that DCI Drew McLeish travelled from the UK to Mongolia.  Turns out he's not the last policeman to make the trip. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The first sun of the year

Very interesting account from the UB Post of the recent Mongolian celebration of Tsagaan Sar or White Moon, the lunar new year holiday.  The report describes President Enkhbayar's visit to Megjid Janraisag Temple at the Gandan Monastery, the center of Mongolian Buddhism, to pray for the well-being of the nation in the upcoming year - the Year of Earth Rat.  The President commented, perhaps slightly opaquely:  “Destined man saw the Year of the Rat, as the Mongols say from the ancient times. The Year of Rat is the one that heads the 12-year cycle of the lunar calendar. I strongly believe that the new year will bring happiness to all of us.”  Speaking as someone born in a previous Year of the Rat, I hope he's right. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Genghis Khan and 430,000 crystal mosaic tiles

I'm intrigued to see that an enormous portrait of Genghis Khan is being erected at Ulan Bator International Airport thanks to 'several members of the Taipei Rotary Club'. 

Meanwhile, on a much more serious note, the Mongolian winter seems to be as harsh as ever

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama - the Mongolian angle...

Everyone else in the world seems to be talking about the US Presidential campaign, so I've been searching for some kind of tenuous link to this blog.  And finally I've found one

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shane's World

It's not an enthusiasm I've shared on here before, but I'm a huge fan of the film-maker Shane Meadows.  I was very pleased to see that, not only did his most recent film This is England win a South Bank Show Award last week, but also that the film's success is enabling him to start work on his long-planned feature, King of the Gypsies, about the bare-knuckle boxing champion, Bartley Gorman.  Meadows is apparently working on the script with his long-time associate, the great Paddy Considine.

If you haven't discovered Meadows' work, it's time you did.  His films are witty, moving and focus on a part of English society that's generally ignored.  Oh, and his film Dead Man's Shoes is perhaps the best British film of the last ten years. 

And much of his work is set in that fine city of Nottingham, which - as I think I've said before - is a place that never quite lets go of those of us who were brought up there.   The city is a major character is Meadows's films just as it is in the novels of John Harvey and the unjustly neglected Stanley Middleton

Mind you, never one to rest on his proverbials, Meadows has just completed a new film, Somers Town, which is set in London.  And he's also made a feature-length film, shot in five days without a script and starring the aforementioned Mr Considine, called Le Donk.  Not to mention a short documentary about another long-term associate, the musician Gavin Clark - another unjustly ignored talent.   I'm exhausted just writing about it all. 

Friday, February 8, 2008

The one millionth mobile phone user

Here's an interview with Yondon Otgonbayar, The General Secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, offering a fascinating perspective on the current state of play in Mongolia in respect of, well, anything you might care to name.  Including mobile phones. 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Big Trees and Small Bushes

I'm no doubt you've all been asking yourselves quite how the current economic jitters are likely to affect Mongolia.  Well, here's the answer.

And sorry it's been a bit quiet on here lately.  I've been dutifully working away on the latest draft of The Outcast, and the good news (for me, at least) is that I've just delivered the manuscript to Peter, my agent, and to Nic at Quercus.  So I can now take a short breather until the revisions start...