Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Props to my amazing mum and stalwart brother with whom I'm spending Christmas and from whom I will doubtless return fit and muscular from slave labor they'll put me to in their respective gardens.
Fanfare for the Gardening painting matriarch
Magnificent house on Corfu, Greece
Sumptuous garden visited by horticultural types from all over the world. I just wish the news photo was in color.
Major props to Mama for her Gold Medal at the Royal Horticultural Society
Salute to Pete, my dashing gardening cooking landscaping generally raffish bon viveuring brother and his equally impressive Tuscan fortress, "Verdigliana"
"Verdiana passò nel territorio di Montespertoli, in una frazione chiamata ancora oggi Verdigliana. Qui presso una fonte, accompagnava le sue pecore a bere; in seguito quest’acqua ebbe effetti prodigiosi e veniva portata agli ammalati.Verdigliana statuary
Ma i compaesani si appostarono e ne uccisero una; Verdiana vide in questo un approssimarsi della sua morte. Era il 1° febbraio e nevicava…. Improvvisamente le campane si misero a suonare: tutti erano meravigliati. In Timignano (via di Castelfiorentino) un piccolino disse che era morta Verdiana: era l’anno 1236 "Nella sua esistenza aveva compiuto diversi miracoli, fra i quali quello di una donna ceca da molto tempo che, andata alla cella di Verdiana a chiedere qualcosa, ricevette un ramoscello di Olivo benedetto: se lo fregò sugli occhi e ricominciò a vedere ... and so forth
THE DR PHIL TESTHand in glove with CNN's coverage of that superbly titled He's Just Not That Into You book, have a go at this simple 10-question test that Phil McGraw gave on Oprah.
Dr. Phil scored 55, Oprah scored 38 ... and I scored a respectable 41.
Pen and paper ready to record your responses.
- When do you feel your best?
a) in the morning b) during the afternoon and early evening c) late at night?
- You usually walk:
a) fairly fast, with long steps b) fairly fast, with little steps c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face d) less fast, head down e) very slowly
- When talking to people, you:
a) stand with your arms folded b) have your hands clasped c) have one or both your hands on your hips d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair
- When relaxing, you sit with:
a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side b) your legs crossed c) your legs stretched out or straight d) one leg curled under you.
- When something really amuses you, you react with:
a) big appreciative laugh b) a laugh, but not a loud one c) a quiet chuckle d) a sheepish smile
- When you go to a party or social gathering, you:
a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed
- You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted; do you:
a) welcome the break b) feel extremely irritated c) vary between these two extremes
- Which of the following colors do you like most?:
a) Red or orange b) black c) yellow or light blue d) green e) dark blue or purple f) white g) brown or gray
- When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep are you:
a) stretched out on your back b) stretched out face down on your stomach c) on your side, slightly curled d) with your head on one arm e) with your head under the covers
- You often dream that you are: a) falling b) fighting or struggling c)searching for something or somebody d) flying or floating e) you usually have dreamless sleep f) your dreams are always pleasant.
- 1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
- 2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
- 3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6
- 4. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1
- 5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
- 6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
- 7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
- 8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
- 9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e) 1
- 10. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1
Now add up the total number of points:
- OVER 60 POINTS:
Others see you as someone they should 'handle with care.' You're seen as vain, self-centered, and one who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don't always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved.
- 51 - 60 POINTS:
Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who's quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure.
They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.
- 41 - 50 POINTS:
Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head.
They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.
- 31 - 40 POINTS:
Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical.
They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken.
- 21 - 30 POINTS:
Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it.
They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.
- UNDER 21 POINTS:
People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions & who doesn't want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don't exist. Some people think you're boring.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Distraught DianaI'm usually the last to hear scandal of any worth, yet over the weekend my phone burned red hot, my email Inbox bulged to burst with the frantic question, "Had I heard the latest about Princess Di? An abortion, no less."
Well yes, actually I had caught wind of it, back in May 1998 when the write-up on Amazon.com about the St. Martin's Press edition of Lady Campbell's gossipy tell-all included the breathless tidbit that, "Lady Di had an abortion while married to Prince Charles because the child she carried wasn't his baby."
Even the Amazon UK entry for the January 1999 British paperback edition includes customer reviews that refer to Campbell's bringing up the abortion, albeit alleged at the time. But since when have mere supporting facts ever held back a good story?
On the other hand, there's something distinctly fishy about the way the world's press are treating it as a brand new story. Is it *that* dull a news day? I fear not. Usually something this old hat is dismissed and we move on; Heaven knows there's enough to movce on TO.
The only good thing about the American media getting on this rusty gravy train is that NBC's tantalising Ann Curry comes out from behind the 'Today' newsdesk and trots off to London to do one of those furrowed-browed 'live' reports, dolled up to the nones and with familiar Central London in the background.
Quel femme: she so straight and clearly the real thing and that Matt and Couric duo bogus as they come.
Speaking of Campbell's book being old hat, check out some of the customer reviews, particularly the comic waspish reference to Lady Campbell having forgotten to airbrush out her prominent Adam's Apple as showing on the book's cover photo.
I met La Campbell once at a London publishing rave and was immediately regaled with the lowdown on her "birth defect", as she calls it: if I remember correctly, "she" used to be a rather handsome lad of dusky hue, "born under sunnier skies", as Noël Coward once put it, until she underwent a sex change and proceeded to wed the aristo Lord Colin Campbell, hence her title by marriage.
Don't say this blog doesn't keep you better informed than you actually care to be ....
Only the Lonely
Politics is a rough-tuff business, not for the faint of heart. Only the rhino-hided need apply. Am I right?
Apparently not if the press coverage is anything to go by surrounding Britain's Home Secretary and the pickle he's in following allegations by a former lover that he abused his powers to fast-track a visa for her Filipina nanny.
How about this for a headline?
and check out the following from the article itself:
"Those who know him say he is a very lonely figure ... totally committed to politics ... Not much else in his life and he is very lonely".Words fail me: How could *any* one allow themselves to attract such pitying - not to mention pitiFUL - waffle?
Mr Blunkett even admits to loneliness in his autobiog, On a Clear Day.
It gets worse: he also describes the pain of being taken away from his parents to go to a special school at the age of four: "I desperately missed the hugging and affection of home ... this deprivation had a lasting effect on me well into adult life."
"Although my own sons are now growing up fast, I often give them a hug chiefly because I believe it is important for them to feel that somebody cares about them."
As a naive 16-year-old schoolboy he was taught to kiss by a childhood sweetheart: "Pamela made me feel special, that I deserved to respect myself and that I could lead a normal life."
At boarding school, there was nowhere he could be alone, he said in his book. "Privacy is something I came to value greatly."
As for this coverage in the Daily "Torygraph", being snapped looking like a frightened Eric Clapton is *not* what Blunkett needs right now, either career-wise or keeping open options for future extra-marital shenanigans he'll be wanting to get up to.
Stop Press: I see from recent Times coverage, they've traced conception of the Blunkett child to my mother's isle of Corfu. Yassas! No surprise - the air is most conducive for dalliance.
Post-script on Loneliness: Still on the subject of la solitude, I have just given myself a bit of a shock. It seems that Julie Leung and I, unbeknownst to each other, were simultaneously addressing the topic, albeit with different approaches.
As I was honing my boorish attack on 'Lonely Boy' Blunkett, Mrs Leung was taking a more serious tack, with the courage and honesty we've come to know her for. Julie asks the unaskable:
- Who will admit they're lonely?
- Who will confess to this "shameful social disorder"?
- Who is willing to own up to needing new friends?
Where Leung puts her finger on it is how she ends that careful paragraph: "And I hope I am always looking for new friends." Bingo! Mrs Leung senses what so many will not grapple with, that one *has* to keep moving. Samuel Johnson nailed it:
"If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."
Yes, indeed, Julie is right, but who among us bluff and burly Islanders is up to admitting it? Not me, that's for sure. I am classic Exhibit A. I out-blunket Blunkett and I absolutely lack the vocabulary to give voice where it matters.
I blog boldly and email debonair replies, but I learnt long ago from drubbings on the school gamesfield that the only survival kit to work is one's own smallest possible world.
Curtains left too long at a window
rot. Something in the air it seems
causes holes with too much looking.
A bed that is slept in too long
stinks. Something in the atmosphere
objects to this confinement.
A room with a closed door collects
dust. The pages of the books there
curl through lack of use.
Nobody has suitably explained
why the curtains and the doors in my house
suffer these indignities.
Nor why, when I throw them open.
and unmake my bed, the rain walks in
to settle down beside me
Sunday, November 28, 2004
MarinatingWhat could be more pleasant than a 6 a.m. Sunday morning bath, a dazzling day in the making and Callas soaring from the bedroom speakers?
The bubbles are up to my armpit, which calls for careful reading of the NYT magazine if I'm not to pick thru the soggy remains over breakfast.
This week's seems to be almost entirely kid-centric, which means careful scrutinizing for later questioning later by #2 daughter, such as over the "Teenage Brain" lecture.
I turn to the must-read Language section and if it wasn't William Safire, I'd believe I was being kidded being asked to accept Kiduage.
Once past the headline, however, we're into the real stuff:
- 'Crunk', a blend of 'crazy' and 'drunk', has elbowed aside 'Wasted', just as 'Faded' has replaced 'Stoned'.
- Whips replaces 'Wheels', *but*, an ordinary car is a 'Ride' and a large passenger car - out of style or otherwise low on prestige - is a Scraper.
- Latest term for 'Cool' is 'Tight', and the antonym is Janky, spelled and pronounced Jinky or Jainky.
- Current derogations of Dork are Dillweed and Dipstick.
- "To hit on" has morphed into "To mack".
- A stalwart 'guy's guy' is 'Bloke'. After all these years, I'm in fashion.
- 'Good-looking,' male or female, is 'Bangin'' and top of the heap of desirability is the adjective 'Blaze', as in "That Marco is blaze!"
- "Off the hook" replaces 'Wow'
- In comes the German 'Über' ('over', 'super') such as in 'His whip is über-fast'
- Wooka, as in 'That movie is wooka-sweet.'
- Not that it affects our clean-living family, but it's still 'Mary Jane' for Marijuana, with 'Dank' describing the high-grade illegal product.
- 'Pumped and 'Stoked' are finished; in comes 'Amped', from amphetamine or ampule.
- Current term for 'desirable, attractive' - as actually applied to me by one of Anna's pals (preen, boast) - is 'Filthy'.
- Like Safire, I find "Sexellent" for 'awesomely sexy,' a strained coinage.
- Chill out still means 'Relax,' but watch out for 'Marinating', a culinary term that has gained the sense of 'taking it easy'. Anything tasty is 'Apple sauce', and 'Money' is Cheddar.
Thompson~Venables:BulgerBlood-red titling for this one, methinks ...
So, the Bulger story has legs. My intemperate blogs passim (Feb 22, April 25, May 14) were not off-beam.
Clever Denise Fergus tracing the murderer Thompson. Can Venables be far behind? And big up that anonymous "well-wisher". I always *knew* some right-minded soul would tip the wink one day. Mind you, I was also convinced the 'Net would deliver the goods a lot sooner, so a bit of a let-down there. Let's hope the bloodthirsty feeding frenzy certain to follow will make up for lost time.
Gadzooks, look at those lovely links - with newshounds of this pedigree on their trail, killers Venables and Thompson's days of anonymity could be numbered.
I rather assumed that Fleet Street had tabs on T and V from the start but simply not gone into print for footling legal reasons. Now that the the pack will be playing catch-up, we should see some action.
- Pride of place goes to the News of the Screws, natch (whom word on the street fingers as the self-serving 'helpful informant')
- Sky TV
- Express.co.uk (Ouch! that illiterate apostrophised "find's son's killer". Where's that Lynn Truss when we need her?)
- Sunday Times
- The Scotsman
- Mail on Sunday
- Those Aussies know a thing or 2 about cheque-book journalism - eh, Mr Murdoch? Et voilà the Melbourne Herald joins the fray
- Sensible ZDNet UK keeping it real: Bulger injunction ridicules British Internet law.
- Local Merseyside coverage: Birmingham Post group;
Liverpool Echo: first reporting Denise's sleuthing (and she looks good, despite the harrowing years of grief and slogging detective work) followed by the advice to "stay clear".
Again, bravo Denise's persistence, and ^5 that stalwart informant (even if it was those NoW blackguards themselves.)
Let there be LightA snip at $138,435.00, *exactly* what to put in my texting, instant-messaging 13-yr old's stocking: Swarovski's Lolita chandelier, designed by none other than the fastidious Ron Arad.
Applying modern design and technology, Arad's used the classic chandelier shape to exploit an "omni-directional, spiral, crystal pixel board with 2100 crystals, 1050 white LEDs, 1 km of 9-way cable braided shielding and 31 processors to create a truly interactive design which displays text messages sent via SMS."
I couldn't have described it better myself, and I just *know* it'll transform the Schmoo's room.
That or the Hip-e Node PC - for teens, designed *by* teens, "almost every element can be customized ... [and] there's an optional MP3 player and prepaid cell phone."
Sounds perfect. Wrap 'em both.
Looking AlertExcellent exchange in Hilary de Vries' NYT Magazine interview-plug for Robert Downey Jr's first album, "The Futurist".
HdV: Do you think Hollywood regards you as a liability or as a survivor?I just like the succinctness of that "looking very alert".
RD: The truth is, most people have realized I'm less a liability on a set than people who get loaded on weekends and might get a D.U.I. and don't want to hear anything about getting sober.
I'm a pretty easy read. I'm either doing well or I'm having a sidebar conversation with the valet at your party and we disappear and come back 45 minutes later looking very alert.
MusingsSince Safeway introduced its al fresco umbrella'd seating, I've taken to spending Saturday mornings there in leisurely perusal of the Review over a large Hazlenut-flavored latte, occasionally glancing up to admire some flash car or notably handsome mother/daughter combination.
Today more sociable than I actually like with much handshaking and fake homie knuckle greets as folk stopped off to ask when might I next be looking in on the popular and well-attended Pegasus Sunday musical soirées. Very flattering and I make polite noises but have no real intention of joining the open mikers any time soon. However, their billing for star performer nights is stellar indeed:
- Tim Bertsch, who I'm sure is v talented but whom I only mention here for his suspicious kinship of name to Bert Jansch. I think Anna and I may actually have turned up one evening on the offest of chances that it *was* Bert under a flimsy nom-de-strum
- New Years Eve, 7:30-midnight: absolutely spot-on choice of Thom Herring as MC. He'll bring all his lovely pals and the rafters will ring thru the early hours.
- Jan 15: the unmissable and talented Lana McMullen
- Feb 26: gravel-voiced troubadour supreme, Eddie Williams, and the lovely Georgia Brown.
Not the Les Barker? Of "Up the creek without a poodle" fame? Yo! Book now while tickets last.
Anyway, back to the Review, from which I spot only gloomy news:
- Who cannot be shaken to the core by the tragedy of Hayley and Kelsey Byrne - God guard their souls. Or be silenced with grief for mother and survivor, Suzanne Dawson, so unspeakably revenged upon that she could be forgiven wishing that ex-husband Stephen had included her in the massacre.
There is talk of little else - nods and tuttings in the food aisles; sighs and lowered gazes along the High Street; solicitous glances at our own young.
- A simple tenner: yes, I too spotted Councilman Bob Scales' asinine reference to the bright side of the proposed increase in ferry parking fees. I can't add to Dave Richards' eloquent indignation, save to point out that, for a twit like Scales to be as stoopid and unaware as to come out with a remark like that in public, does not speak well for the overall intelligence of our public servants.
- Blotto blotter To coin Michael Caine's catchphrase, "Not a lot of people know that ...".
Well, asking around, it appears that not a lot of drinky drivers know *this*.
I cite PC Plod's Blotter for Nov 20 (a Saturday, which makes me wonder if the time given, 12:57 a.m., wasn't actually 00:57 a.m. of the Sunday morning?):
Patrolling fuzz spots bloke asleep in driver's seat of van parked on Winslow Way and "contacts" aforesaid snoozer (by which I assume they mean rapping on the window til the drunkard awoke). Breathalysed, the poor chappie scores twice the legal limit and is duly nicked for "being in physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated."So beware.
Musical NectarGorgeous Saturday, clear sky, nippy enough to keep one moving.
Much too nice to be indoors squandering the afternoon on the 'puter, but bills need paying, cheques need signing, family and pals need goading by email.
I tire of the usual music and cast around for something I haven't heard for a while when I remember the raft of authentic Greek CDs sent me by my mother over the months and years. As soon as the bouzouki strikes up and those harmonies start, I'm transported to that land of olives and ouzo and the Bainbridge landscape dissolves before my eyes.
All the tracks are literally "Greek to me" but the tunes are totally familiar from all those vacations over the years and now and then a phrase or two shines through.
No other word for it. Divine.
Arts NewsThe ever-welcome Arts News plops onto my mat and my eye is immediately caught by news of an editorial change for the Spring 2005 edition of Exhibition, visual/literary arts journal of the BIAHC. Jennifer Scott moves on; in comes Victoria Josslin, founder and publisher of none other than Artdish whose latest issue has a moving piece by Ms Josslin: Deep in the Heart, her account of a pilgrimage to Comanche TX following the death of her brother, reuniting with family and loved ones, with a side trip to Waco for the funeral.
Artdish is now under the editorial lash of Jim Demetre, whose velvet tongue in the iron jaw even managed to extract a contribution from an idler like me: that review of Jonathan Raban's Waxwings novel.
Whatever Demetre's doing, he's clearly doing it right: Artdish gets a mention in the November Seattle Magazine's "Power List" cover story on the city's powermongery of movers 'n' shakers, top orgs and publications.
Actually, Jim is clearly doing *everything* right, down to keeping the advertising coffers healthy. It's only on the Artdish page that I've seen the T-shirt advert for that post-election Daily Mirror headline asking How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?. I don't have that many Republicans on my Xmas gift list, but they're all getting one.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Better Latte than NeverThe BI Review java adjudicator appears to be in a wee jam.
Bye-lined "The Latte Guy", our chap's brief is to assess local beans and baristas, which he duly performs with that reassuringly homely style that needs no frills of style or humour.
Sensibly sticking to what he's good at, TLG does nevertheless depend for material on new venues or make-overs. The dangers of running short of java-centrica speak for themselves.
- Only a few weeks back, cringe-making foray into the world of Dixieland banjo, horn, and piano. A quick spin of Eddy Davis and his Wild Reeds and Wicked Rhythms could have answered some quibbles there.
- Around the same period, affected silly-bugger queryings of the merits of that staple bonus of DVDs, the awesome 'Special Features'.
- Nov 24 and cold turkey taking its toll: Not a squeak on the column's caffeinated raison d'etre, instead, ornithological ramblings descending to mawkish meanderings about dad before surfacing again to more outdoor twaddle about dogs, blackbirds and yardwork.
Fingers crossed that this drought of coffee-centric material ends soon and TLG need no longer scribble above his weight. A shame to see him slip to "Late" and his space 're-purposed' in favor of prouder place given to that literary gem supreme, the Fuzz Blotter.
Water BillsOne pleasing prospect of my Euro-jaunt will be returning after more than a month overseas to a costlier water bill than if we'd spent the entire Xmas under the shower.
Things were fine around here 'til they fitted gizmos to our water meters and told us we'd be billed by a mob called Minol.
Their dealings were dodgy from the start: asked to be home to let the rep in, I waited a whole Saturday with no sign of anyone, nor a follow-up apology.
- Real Change had their number.
- Student Voice rumbled their little RUBS ploy.
- Erica Barnett didn't mince words in The Stranger, which resonated with Wilhelm Dingler (5th letter down)
- Bettina Brown wasn't happy.
- The P-I smelled a rat
- Even championed our case
Let us see what Santa and his elves can flush and gush during the rest of 2004 and into the glorious new year.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Henry Hewitt-WindsorAn ominous rhythmic ring to that name; almost tempting to put it to song à la Dylan's John Wesley Harding.
The worried Royalist in me surfaces again at reports of James "Cad" Hewitt's latest run-in with the law.
Apart from the alarming physical resemblance to his mother's paramour, Prince Harry seems also to share certain temperamental tics.
While on the subject of the sainted Diana, I see that NBC plan to broadcast that interview in which she suspects foul play behind the death of her policeman crush.
Deer hunters and driversBoston Globe's shrewd Derrick Z. Jackson keeping it real with a well-aimed boot to groin of our boorish, bring 'em on society.
Dept of Serves Her Right: I love the idea of that stupid choleric Brockham harridan spinning out of control and whacking her own kid.
The Nippon EffectWhy is it that everyone I know who goes to Japan suddenly starts writing wisely and with wit?
Ghoul WheekerThis is me being utterly childish and rude ... but what a splendid name and doesn't it sound exactly like some esoteric trade practised along the seafront ...
Well, no ... because the name is actually Goul-Wheeker, and if I had any manners at all I'd be lay off Trevor Goul-Wheeker, who's just quit his job at W H Smith to become chief exec of health recruitment with the Reed Health Group. (Trev remains at WH Smug in a non-exec position.)
And it's only fair that I post fuller details of G-W's fine track record and skills.
Yuletide PrepIn view of my European jaunt, decided to start my Christmas musical ritual early.
Usually, first thing December 1 (this year, a Wednesday), I spring from bed and, shunning the NPR news bulletins, crank up Bach's Christmas Oratorio on the stereo - the Karl Münchinger rendering, with the Stüttgart Chamber Orchestra.
When that threatens to bore, on to Handel's Messiah (Sutherland, Huguette Tourangeau, Tom Krause (bass); the Ambrosian Singers and ECO under Richard Bonynge)
Instead I have dusted them down today and fine inspirational music they make as I order up the musical fare to await me in Italy:
Long-time crush Françoise Hardy - transported by her looks back to my wicked youth, I over-order, including her new album, Tant de Belles Choses
New crush Patricia Kaas about whom to decide how much is looks, how much vox
- No worries over looks with dear old Roberto Carlos - I reckon we've both gone to the dogs with equal celerity and skill.
Christmas SongThe next sign that we're into Santa season is that I dust down my 'Touch of Christmas' song in readiness for the December 'Seabold Second Saturday' get-together, this year the 11th:
I feel a touch of Christmas coming on today,Seabold adddendum: Oh how funny ... I googled 'seabold' on the offchance of finding some helpful link and it turns out that every performer who's ever plunked a plink has something or other up there by way of promo URL.
Makes me wonder time goes by,
It may sound strange to you but way down Bethlehem way
Little boy was born who didn't cry.
I feel a touch of Christmas nibbling at my soul,
The sort of feeling I could share,
They brought him frankincense and myrrh and beaten gold
As angels sang hosannahs everwhere.
I'm all right it's just sometimes I cry,
I'm all right it's just sometimes I die, and when I do
I tell that golden lie, the one about you and I
Getting it together Christmas time.
In absolutely no order of preference or merit, here are some of the more 'noteworthy':
Looking for New FriendsTwo excellent letters from Julie Leung, one in the Review and one in the Islander.
The Review letter covers "Looking for New Friends" in a lonely crowd and bemoans the Island's lack of common civic space.
Creator of the excellent Seedlings & Sprouts blog, JL looks to the Internet for a way out of these woes and asks those interested in building a community - fleshly or online - to mail her or leave a comment on her blog.
The Islander letter hails that excellent cover story and positive support of blogging in general and talks of the many new contacts she's made since the article, as a result of which JL sincerely believes that "blogging could be a tool for change and growth on the island and in Kitsap as a whole."
Aspiring newbies out there, don't pass up Julie's offer to help "anyone interested in starting a blog or meeting other local bloggers." Again, she's contactable at email@example.com, or via comment on her blog.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
"For momentary language"That Clive Owen, always good, isn't he? Gosford Park, even the BMW ads.
I'll Sleep when I'm Dead looked tasty so I whipped it out, and not at all bad. Nice little thriller with CO as impassive hard man that he does so well and Charlotte Rampling equally impassive as Clive's world-weary ex-. Only one niggle: Rampling gets it in the end and we see the gunman sitting on the stairs waiting for Owen to keep his rendezvous and, presumably, also get whacked - but it's not confirmed.
Anyway, that's not what caught my eye: the movie's rated "For momentary language", but what on earth does that mean?
Fuzzy for my local Silverscreen: the Owen pic has a trailer for a Jeremy Irons movie that I'd seen in the shop but was put off by the desert scenery and the turbanned blond on the cover. When I look for it, it's gone.
Now I desperately want to see it.
I tell the Silver staff I'm looking "for that Jeremy Irons movie, with some German lady in it, set in the desert ... can't remember the title."
Quick as a flash: "And now ... Ladies and Gentlemen"? No, no, I puff - nothing like that?
"Claud Lelouch ... ?" she persists. We look, they find; I grovel.
Not a German fraulein at all but the exceedingly sexy Française, Patricia Kaas, of whom I had not heard and spent the movie ogling and marveling at her skilled lip-synching, only to find later that she's some mega chanteuse.
I'd send a fuzzy to the Silverscreen boss on his excellent staff but their drat contact page doesnt work and 'firstname.lastname@example.org' tells me, "Sorry, no mailbox here by that name."
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Writers CrampWhenever I want a visitor to be ever-so slightly 'distracted', I seat them with the monitor over my shoulder and have Yugo Nakamura's Industrious (and exhausting to watch) Clock running - or is that scribbling ?.
All focus flees and I can baffle or numb them with what mumbo-jumbo I like.
T' Yorkshire Noël CowardThe joys of the 'Net: there I am trying to find any sort of home site for once-great London publishers (and former employer) Michael Joseph, and a red herring link leads me to childhood hero, Jake Thackray. RIP.
True to form, the fans he gathered are equally eccentric and it took me a while to check out the various sites and even to establish when exactly the great man died (Xmas Eve, 2002, I think). I still can't establish if he was 63 or 64.
- Jake Thackray project
- Beeb Obit
- "Jake Thackray will be recognised as one of the greatest writers of all time ... The magic of T.S. Eliot lives on for ever, and Jake's work is just as good. Maybe I am overdoing the praise, but I really mean it." - forgiveable over-the-top lauding by former recording producer, Norman Newell.
GuyvilleThis country is Male Preserve. Chaps do what they have to do, and they don't natter about it.
I tried this list on my hairier-chested homies and they didn't bat an eyelid, so I suppose I'd better get started on these 101 essentials.
While I'm about it - anyone in the least bit interested in sidestepping 100 mispellings, or avoiding some nucular mispernunciations?
RSSFor everyone who keeps writing in or clutching my sleeve in Safeway with wild-eyed demands that I spill the beans on RSS.
The Grauniad says it quite well: everything you might need to know about Really Simple Syndication.
Oswald's CrosshairsI don't usually give a damn about what the game merchants come up with, but the thought of some Glaswegian berks turning out something called JFK Reloaded, allowing "players to look through the crosshairs of Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle and assassinate the late US President" leaves me queasy.
Babylonian HookerTrying to decide if this Alexander flick is worth going to.
I'm suspicious of the mixed cast, in particular Pouty-lina Jolene as Colin F's flash-back mum.
CNN's Paul Clinton clinches it for me with a deft para:
"Another problem is Farrell's hair. Sorry, I have to go there ... naturally dark hair was transformed into a cheap, glaring, bottle blond, while leaving the Irish actor's black caterpillar-like eyebrows their normal color.
This may be nitpicking -- but for me -- the jarring result is that Farrell's Alexander looks like a Babylonian hooker after a busy Saturday night.
The bad dye job also greatly hinders this talented actor from ever achieving the enormous authority needed to carry off this gigantic role.
Sex in Teen DramasThanks to the nice people at Slate for this vital guide to "Virginity Lost - and the Very Special Virginity episode.
Not my dramatic cuppa, so I'm glad to have this useful summary:
"Since 1991, when Brenda lost her virginity with Dylan at the spring dance on Beverly Hills, 90210, teenagers have been having sex on television.
Where there are school-age children, there are virgins about to be deflowered. In the past year alone, teenage characters have lost their virginity on Summerland, Veronica Mars, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Dead Like Me, Life As We Know It, The OC, One Tree Hill, 7th Heaven, and Gilmore Girls. That's, like, a lot.
The conventions of the Very Special Virginity episode are well-established: Articulate kids fret about the decision, parents learn of it in some way, giving them access to become the moral arbiter of the situation. Sex tends to be represented by both the parents (and the show) as forebodingly destructive—to the teens' future, to their mental well-being, to the family unit. Needless to say, the relationship usually doesn't last very long after it's been consummated, with the reasons for the breakup ranging from unreturned phone calls to nervous breakdowns. (And occasionally they are a bit odder: On 7th Heaven, Simon's minister father reminded him he wasn't capable of casual sex because of his "more than casual relationship with Christ.")"
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
All Y'allBitingly funny review by the always-excellent Roy Blount Jr. of Suddenly Southern: Yankee's Guide to Living in Dixie.
Particularly good dissection of the authors' thesis of "Y'all" being singular and "All y'all" sing.
Dalliance with flower of Raleigh, Jo, has given me some insight.
Brilliant actual example by Blount: 4-part conversation in supermarket queue: Blount waiting to pay for pimento cheese; dude ahead with groceries for big family; piercè young lady with a small basketful; and a bloke with paint-spattered t-shirt ("The Savior: Stronger than Nails"), also with minimum purchases.
A second line is opened:
Employee: Couple y'all come over here."
Roy B: "Fact is ...."
T-shirt: "Time he's ...."
Piercè babe: N' more'n we've ..."
All three were already moving to the new line.
New register employee: "Yeah, all y'all".
Brilliant example. Nails it.
KerkiraI tell folks I'm Yule tiding in Kerkira and they say they thought I was going to *Corfu*.
Yes yes, but the Greek name is Kerkyra, from Korkyra, daughter of a river god, who was carried away by Poseidon, god of the sea.
Hence so many Corfiot names like Penelope (Odysseus' loyal wife) and Alexander "the Great" - speaking of whom, the Farrell movie is collecting a backlash (pun fully intended).
Encore, indeedMonday mail brings the new Eminem. I play it throughout the day full vol. Brilliant. Some distasteful gurgles and chundering but the guy is a winner.
Hilarious recording from Paul to the Em ref Michael Jackson and Em's "new gun".
ErrorismI am preparing for my choleric departure:
- Which terrorist threat?
- What is terrorism?
- Intrusive search
- Even my sovereign has been dragged into it.
- Dread at the Dispatch box (nice quip about Queen’s Speech not just dumbed-down politics but into the basement, out to the gutter politics)
Phone Fury'Ethicist' good in this week's NYT Magazine on social codes governing cellphones:
"On the bus from New York to Boston, the girl behind me spent the entire four hours on her cellphone, telling the same inane story to five different people." Know the feeling.
London BluesI so miss London, so look forward to this Xmas visit.
Not the London of the brochures but the city of chilly winter evening buskings, meeting pals in nooks and crannies.
I take a sentimental journey thru derelict London, mourning old boozers in Canning Town, Woolwich and the Elephant; mellow trips from old tube stations.
Local Boy Strums GoodSunday Nov 21st: To bucolic Ballard, there to meet the stalwart Zed Man for a musical soirée at the Tractorium in the company of Bainbridge's own pharaoh of the fret board, Mr Bill Frisell.
But first the Rite of (literal) Passage: gittin' there. Hell, I want an agony free evening of Frisell, I'll stay firmly home and to hell with the traveling. I set out knowing I'm walking into a morass of hassle.
Ferry over and up to 4th to catch the 17 bus, which arrives as I do. So far so good, and a pleasant journey it is, too. I admire the view and think Frisellian thoughts.
I've been to the Tractor before, to see Tom Rush, so I only take one wrong turning, which I'm convinced is freudian because no sortie abroad is complete without waylaying at least one local lass to ask the way.
The doors don't open for an hour but that's deliberate because the next essential is to find a boozer that allows smoking so I can sit, brood, quaff and puff.
Lock & Keel is exactly what the doctor advises against and I spend a contented 45 mins with pints and JDs and Coke chasers.
Even just 10 mins after the doors open, the seats are filling but I bags 2 decent perches 5 rows from the front just to the right of centre. Zack is joining me around 7:30 but I've done my job of getting us a cool view.
The audience is a mixed bunch with lots of guitarist faces and plenty of chording of right-hand wrists and plectrum rippling of left-hand palms. My neighbor to the right is a tough-looking chap on his own who looks like he might be handy on a Strat or 12-string.
Zack dead on time, looking fit and well in a leather jacket. We are pleased to see each other quickly catch up on new: he is engaged (which I think I was meant to know; **SGNP** is fiancé'd, for God's sake; Mr Works, also engaged, which I also think I knew.
The stage is intriguingly set: full drum kit, Master Krauss's double-bass, and what looks like 2 Fenders and an acoustic - plus the usual array of electronica with which BF will mix his wonderous sounds. I imagine the trio in the green room, deep breathing and flexing joints and going over last-minute minutiae of phrasings and timing.
8pm arrives and no sign of the artistes. 8:10 and in they walk from the street, Bill in leather jacket, Viktor Krauss looking ridiculously young (see photo), drummer Kenny Wollesen looking like some wild-haired hippy and too skinny to whup the skins.
They start and I strain to see Frisell's chording and picking but he is facing the band and our view is shoulder on. The drummer has the best view.
Frisell sounds exactly as he sounds on disk and I strain to see his fingers as he plays the familiar tunes. He resolutely maintains his stance of first-rate view of his left shoulder and back of left hand, thumb well over the fretboard as if using it for the bass strings.
Wonderful music: of note, Dylan's "Just like a Woman", "Gimme a Holler" off the Nashville album (on which Krauss features as contrebassiste) and Wolleson wonderfully visual on the batterie with a splendidly effete trick of stroking the cymbals with sticks upside down.
Minimal announcements by Bill, who favors the shy modest style.
He fiddles a lot with the tuning and when asked what the gizmo is on the head of the guitar (the tuner), he replies that "it's a camera, and it's counting the votes", going on to complain about its weak battery.
When they take a break, Frisell assures us it will be a very *short* one and asks us not to go. It is a very *long* during which everyone gets up to buy more drinks, so I suspect the manager has had a word with BF that there *are* no short intervals because the punters need to spend.
In the whole concert, BF treats us to only *two* tantalising face-on glimpses of what he's doing, like some fan dancer whipping the fans open but too fast for anyone to get a proper thrill.
Excellent treatment of "What the world needs now" and then it's over, whereupon Z and I retire to the Lock & Keel for Guinness and too many cigs as we chat about his reinvented ID as artist and try not to be distracted by the TV endlessly playing the NBA punch-up.
Down the snooker end of the bar, someone starts a chat about other great punch-ups.
We share a cab, dropping off Z at his Magnolia pad and taking me on to the ferry which I find I've misjudged thanks to old timetable and I have another hour to wait for the 2:15am boat. I am alone except for a distinguised grey-haired businessman who complains non-stop about the wait. Security policiers everywhere and I'm surprised they dont check my bag: I look and feel grubby and venomous over the wait.
I've parked the Volvo in Daigle Design's spot and drive home and plunge into a bath, Callas on the stereo. Having steeped myself in Friselliana, I can't bring myself to listen to another note.
Email from mama saying that she's looking forward to seeing me and that we're booked out of London for Corfu on Dec 8, the day I actually arrive in London. I send depressed fed-up reply, apologizing for once again cocking it up.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Much Ado on BainbridgeBy way of countering my impatience with Homeland Security's determination to Cry Wolf where and whenever most intrusive and inconvenient to the citizenry, well-meaning types draw my attention to coverage by the Review's Tristan Baurick of an impressive seizure on the Island of
- Drugs:large quantity of methamphetamine; marijuana-growing operation with lighting systems and several plants; unlabeled pharmaceuticals; drug packaging supplies
- Pipe bombs
- Loaded semi-automatic rifles, shotgun, ammunition; homemade explosive devices
What is impressive is the reporter's name - Tristan Baurick. Zounds! Can you imagine *anyone* denying comment or the fullest possible story to a newshound thus named?
Just introducing oneself: "The name's Baurick. (Pregnant pause) Tristan Baurick. (Encore un pause) Of the Review".
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Bad SexAlways a fun headline to frolic with, particularly as an email subject line to prim but literary pals.
Brilliant idea by the clever and waspish Auberon Waugh for a writers award for particularly bad descriptions of sex.
I was at the first Literary Review party where the victors were torn between the usual scribes' craving for honours and the humiliation of reading their gems aloud to a roomful of London's brightest and cruellest literati.
Very funny and the champagne flowed, as did it often round dear Bron. Much missed.
Non AmoNon amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare, non amo te - Martial.
I don't love you, Sabidius, and I can't tell you why, all I can tell you is this, that I don't love you.
Elementary ...Publisher's Reject Letter #2
Dear Dr Doyle,
We return herewith your manuscript, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Your points are certainly ingenious, but the attributes of the central character stretch credulity beyond its limits. Holmes's apparent genius in deciding facts from minute clues is illusory, created by your invention of a situation, and the prior presentation of an insignificant piece of supporting evidence which could quite well arise from any one of a dozen other causes.
For example, a few small scratches on a shoe are 'irrefutable' evidence that the wearer employs a slovenly housemaid.
Drops of candle grease on a hat 'prove' that its owner's residence lacks gas supply.
Your stories depend on such absurdities, insulting the reader's intelligence, despite your narrative ability. We strongly advise you not to give up your medical practice, and feel that you might employ your leisure more profitably by continuing to play in goal for Portsmouth Football Club.
Minding Ps & QsShe's up to sales of 2.5 million worldwide of that punctuation guide, Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Now Lynne Truss has set her sights on Good Manners.
It wasn't that I fell wholesale for her literary lashings - I'm more in the New Yorker camp - but I liked her abrasive non-nonsense tone.
Anyway, phew! My original guides by the original Miss Manners look somewhat bettered - all but the scarcely-fingered directions on to rearing great Children.
Little did we know that our darlings would spring perfect from the womb, leaving us the only tome to heed the one on how they might raise us.
Friday, November 19, 2004
JunkTVI don't know why I act so defensive about shamelessly enjoying daytime TV: it's not as if I'm anchored to the divan, gazing in captive indiscrimination at everything from those impenetrable soaps to repetitive news bulletins.
- DrPhil. Nothing to add about this inspirational show: Homily-packed; real-life twits to hiss n boo at as they're put through the ringer. And, of course, that end-of-show glimpse of the pertly sexy Robin (Mrs) McGraw.
- The ever-thrilling Apprentice with The Donald going from strength to strength. Even when the show drags, there's always the arctic Carolyn Kepcher to enjoy, just for sitting there with that piercing gaze and chiseled profile.
- Last night's episode no disappointment, with Trump on top decisive form, firing both that insufferably pushy Maria *and* weakling manager Wes. All that remains is for the ghastly flat-featured Ivana person to be sent packing.
- The Ellen Degeneres Show: first off, that gal is funny. Next, she can really dance - nothing balletic or fancy, but it doesn't get weird or embarrassing, she just bops and shimmies away and we all relaxe and have fun.
Synergistically, having enjoyed the real Trumperoo last night, I get a double dose today when Ellen and a rather Paul-like dude turn up as "The Apprenticises" and face DT playing himself (that man does a flawless, straightfaced imitation of himself down to a T) who gives them the job of hitting the NYC mean streets to run a hot dog stand.
Natch, clever Ellen calls them "TrumpDogs" but forgets to actually take any money, as a result of which they're both f***d in the D's usual TR-i-UMP-hant way.
What impresses me is how ready The Donald is to find time and humor to play along with these sketches. Yes, I know it's good PR but he's already riding high on the real show, so he doesn't need sketches like Ellen's. Good for him.
BJI hear the new Bridget Jones is pretty bloody awful ...
Good cue for spoof reject letter:
"Dear Miss Austen,
Thank you for sending your manuscript entitled Pride and Prejudice, which is not suitable for our current list. There was a time when such 'chick lit' might have found a publisher but now, I'm afraid, it is simply too outdated.
Your plot is a blatant steal from that much beloved bestseller Bridget Jones' Diary. You have simply taken a woman in search of a husband, and her inability to spot the quite obvious Mr Right who is there all along.
An accomplished writer like Helen Fielding might have been able to get away with this but you certainly cannot. I am amazed that you didn't even bother to come up with an original name for your hero - Darcy indeed!
Your manuscript is returned herewith."
Saudade: /so-DAH-jee/Nostalgia, longing, homesickness, Fernweh, regret.
It's the flavor of most Brazilian music, obviously saturating bossa nova but detectable even in more festive styles, much as the blues are tinged with hard times whether or not they put a grin on your face.
"E tem também um barquinho, a tardinha, um banquinho, um violãozinho ... Saudade, violão, solidão... coisas da bossa-nova - assim como os diminutivos."
Loosely: "And there's a little boat, a little afternoon, a banquette, a 'baby' guitar ... Soh-dah-djee, guitar, solitude ... things from bossa-nova - the same way with the diminutives."
Tally-ho, Blighty!Scarlet for the MFH's jacket.
Right, that's it.
If anyone had any remaining doubts about Britain's sink into loutish mediocrity, they are dashed today with the banning of fox hunting made law.
We are no better than yobs. Who will speak for England now, the laughing stock of Europe?
Tarmac TemperThere should be a font called 'Contemptua' for types like me to use when referring to the continuing buffoonery over t'error "alerts".
I just know that my temper and dismissive attitude will single me out for special inconveniencing and temper testing come my proposed Xmas trip to London.
In fact, I've resigned myself to not even making it onto the tarmac. I might as well save the price of a ticket and spend it on decent hooch and a sensible store of Dave's Light cigs.
For absolute certain, Sod's Law will have lined up the sort of buffoons I react worst in front of and *twice* the farce that played out over that soi-disant security security "breach". And don't think I'm not torturing myself with choleric readings of reportage on secrecy in airport security or the equally juicy secrets of flight.
Early days yet, of course, for that mob in DC. Having conned (or not, which is even more frightening) their way back for another 4 years, you can bet they've got planned a series of specifically Yuletide outrages for us to be buggered around about - I mean rescued from.
Fast & FelicitousMy attention drawn to another nifty book blog - GalleyCat - this time with a scoop of some hilariously tongue-in-cheek twaddle from none other than Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.
At least I *trust* the sumptuously gorgeous Bynum had her T firmly in C.
Speaking of literary weblogs - or at least those catering to the book-aware - Complete Review is the currently agreed one-stop click for ceux qui savent. And now you do, too.
RIP: Publiciste SupremeSo farewell, then, Judy Corman, doyenne of PRs.
Complicating cancer took her at the whippernapper age of 65.
The Times obit says it best: this was no mere hackette.
What a career: Harry Potter, Epic Records, Miles Davis, John Denver, Willie Nelson ... the list goes on.
I wonder how many times Henry Holland's fine poem was read in memoriam, Death is Nothing at All, or how many know the interesting background?
I came across an even more florid version, illustrated by Frank Dicksee's "Yseult" and complemented by sonorous piano accompaniment.
And while we're on the subject of Holland and the Grim Reaper,
how many know his Death?
I can't quite make out if this *commemorates* Waleed J. Iskandar, gathered in his handsome youth and whose pic seems forms the watermark background, or if it's *by* him.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Brosnan in the BahamasAu Pav' for an evening of cinematic pap starring the stubbly Brosnan in a romp After the Sunset.
I'm sorry we won't be seeing him again as Bond; he was a good 007 and by no means paled against Connery's perfection.
His Celtic bio rolls romantically off the tongue: Pierce Brendan Brosnan, Drogheda, County Louth; lived in Navan, County Meath.
Alas, full enjoyment of the movie was impaired by the presence of Latina scorcher Salma Hayek, whom I suspect to be lacking in humour and who, despite that voluptuous body, nowadays reminds me of her stalwart countrymen who do such good work with those leaf-blowers, keeping our lawns and public thoroughfares clear.
If fact, I know Ms Hayek travels lite in the humor department from the risible example that appears in 'Amusing Quotes'.
My offensive remark about leaf-blowing dates back to Ms Hayek's complaint to the pusillanimous editor of Vanity Fair over a whimsical remark by Dame Edna Everage in her column for the society rag.
Dame Edna - world famous Australian housewife - is the titled alter ego of fellow Oz and equally talented Mr Barry Humphries.
The remark that so offended the dusky spitfire was absolutely characteristic of La Everage, typical of her waspish humour, and exactly what her world-wide readership and theatre audience wants and expects.
The question of Spanish language lessons had come up and, as befits one of Dame E's regal station and general Australian-ness, she was wondering in print how useful the skill could be when the only native speakers she knew were the aforesaid leaf-blowers. Damn'd perceptive remark, I'd say; funny, to boot. Not something I'd try in print, mind you, but then I'm not Moonee Ponds aristocracy.
Anyway, without pausing to check, the busybodying Ms Hayek held an impromptu (and conveniently self-serving) press conference for the usual pack of simpering devotees where she railed against imagined slights, as a result of which VF readers lost an extremely witty columnist.
What makes Ms Hayek's dimwitted indignation so mis-placed is that the Edna Everage column was no more serious than this silly 'Busking' blog, in which I defy anyone to spot even a scintilla of sincerity or po-faced Truth.
Happy post-script: Not that my cinematic promenade was completely ruined by the cleavaged cutie from Coatzacoalcos.
JLo to ELO: Imagine my astonished pleasure to suddenly hear the Electric Light's catchy "Evil Woman" pumping out as part of the plug for Monster-in-Law.
"The love life of Charlotte Honeywell (Jennifer Lopez) is reduced to an endless string of disastrous blind dates, until she meets the perfect man, Kevin (Michael Vartan). Unfortunately, his merciless mother (Jane Fonda) will do anything to destroy their relationship."Looked good, and so did JLo ....
Grep SongMy confrères ('con-soeurs' always sounds so rude ) at Cohesia Enterprises have been too kind, keeping me au courant and saving me hours of duplicated toil with helpful aides-mémoire of the old days.
I ask them how I can repay their kindness - dinner at the Sorrento? a red-blooded movie? envelopes of unsequenced bills? - but all they ask is the lyrics of the joyous 'Grep Song', once anthem of the industry as we proclaimed the CoHee mission statement,
'TanGrep' is the clever gizmo we ran to show a supplier's "entanglement" (enabling us to gauge time and effort to go into the call): ROI, 'Sincerity' of business, 'Integrity' of spending, Loyalty 'commitment', and so forth. The regular GREP expression is known to the cognoscenti and beyond my powers of simplification to explain to the less technically savvy.
The lyrics are studded with in-house jargon certain to mystify outsiders. However, the reference to Vicki Langmont is a reminder of a particularly cruel (albeit efficient and award-winning) squad captain whose team building exercises reduced strong men to tears. VL left in a blaze of glory and lucrative options and is to be glimpsed in the pages of society journals, swathed in diamonds and invariably hosted by the excessively rich and famous.
But enough waffling:
Always Tan-grep when you're in the cuze
Drat them duplicate customer email blues
Lost my trolley says the voice at the other end
AB-trisket gonna be your friend
Always Tan-grep when you're on the phone
Sneak a peak at why the customer moans:
He got the wrong box, She's been waiting all week,
You've got the power to make it all sooo sweet
Phones phreakin', shooles stuck,
Supp chain squeezed like Jabba the Hutt
Now's the time to have some fun,
Time to call in Tan-grep 51
Always Tan-grep when you meet that girl
Your heart's a-beating, your head's in such a whirl
It's love this time, you know you'll never part:
Buddy run a badbook on your heart
Vicki Langmont, Sales Whizzette of the Year,
Here's to the 'gents who grepped and got you there
Here's to the supes and dupes and unsung leads,
All their energy, focus, care for the customer needs
That Global Regular Expression
Printed on your pretty little face
Means you're never caught guessin',
Never lead a buddy on a wild goose chase.
Always Tan-Grep, etc
(Back to original verses, ad nauseam or til Linda's opens)
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Sickly Story SiteNever thought of it 'til a cynical pal sent this through.
Not that the caring and sentimental of this world waste time forwarding their inspirational gems to me, but of those that *do* plink into my InBox, well over 75% are from fellow Islanders.
Naturally, to show my heart to be planted right, I acknowledge sans delay, invariably with some simpering ^5 or sigh of agreement.
Phil-phileNot displeased with my title, I kick off with some breezy non-committal reference to how much junk TV I watch and a flippant plea for Doc Phil's help to kick the habit of his own riveting show.
In fact, I *am* hooked by le médecin McGraw: by his manner, his topics, his timbre of voice and style of questioning; his utter lack of fake sentimentality or teariness.
God knows, I'd never go *on* his show and I've no idea what possesses those who *do*, thrilling the nation with their most intimate woes.
What it does for *me* is shine an uncomfortable light on my inadequacies in the fathering and family department.
Today's show left me stunned and panicking (subsequently placated and pooh-pooh'd by Anna): it concerned the nightmare of online stalking by 'predatory' paedophiles (describing whom Dr M minceth not his harsh words) and the ease with which they gain access to and the confidence of les jeunes.
Even had me scrabbling to check what the cybertip site is all about.
Walmart PRCNPR news item on Walmart's trade with China and the loss of jobs in this country.
- If Walmart was a country, it would be among China's top 10 trading partners
- Meanwhile, back in my fragrant harbour'd childhood home, no nearer with Direct Elections
Bold to be OldLani arrives before I'm finished with today's chore of going thru my newspapers and mags, dumping what I can and sorting the rest by date.
She spots my pile of Oldies and starts leafing thru them with that amused worldly smile she keeps for my possesions - then recoils as if stung by a viper or come across a dead baby in my linen closet.
In typical British fashion, the magazine's title says it all, spelling out for and about whom it is published. Folks with some age on them; getting on.
L being a thoroughly modern and American young lady, I might as well have been subscribing to something called "Wrinklies" or "Cadaver". She flings the copy back on the pile before further contamination and even takes a step away from *me* as if ageing vibes might radiate from those who also read the rag.
As with many of her Generation, Education and 'Liberation', there are few topics La L will stay clear of or cannot discuss with blushless panache. Age is the final taboo; I am made to feel as if she has rumbled my cache of porn.
Post-script: Music might be the food but it's also an ace weather-vane of one's ageing: in 1964 Hong Kong, chanson de sûr-fire smooch with one's honey was velveteen vox'd Johnny Mathis' Twelfth of Never.
Eh bien, my 12th of Nunquam arrived today with my order of the Mathis Love Songs album. Gorgeous. 'The Folks who live on the Hill'? Heart-melting.
POST Post-script: Is there *no* privacy in Blogshire? L has just emailed me to say that, far from being repulsed by my senile reading matter, she has been keeping herself splendidly entertained on The Oldies' puzzles page.
She also points out that a far "groovier" title for my whinge would have been Axis: Old as Love
Book of Crap BooksChristmas is a-coming; with it, the serious side of funny stocking-fillers.
Boyd Tonkin's article is timely and shrewd.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Brit Typique?Uptight but witty. ... with of course de rigueur references to the Book of British Teeth.
Peddlin' PoissonsQuite a good piece by Heather L Hunter in Nov 14 NYT Styles section: Traveling the Too-Much-Information Highway.
Full enjoyment of article ruined, however, by bottom half of page squandered on advert pic of that Sex/City bird with the gi-normous conk - the one they film face-on lest we panic that the channel changed to a NatGeo piece on aardvarks.
Getting back to HLH, without actually reading any of her pretty-in-pink and doubtless excellent blog, my eye had been caught many moons back by the name alone, taken from Irina Dunn's statement about a woman needing a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
Satires #10, line 356**('Mens Sana in Corpore Sano').
I've been collecting links for a separate "Health" blog with which to placate and deceive my dedicated HealthWise e-trainer, the goodly Caroline. Alas, it'll never happen: if I have time to craft corporeally sane entries of crystalline prose, I have time to grapple the Weider and sculpt those abs n pecs.
Shame to just leave the links there, so here they are in order of collection and in the aide-memoire phrases I filed them under:
- Famous Last Words (see also Suicide Link)
- Short term emotion, long term logic
- Healthwise (and the org version)
- Webmd Health Guide
- How Stuff Works: How Hangovers Work
- Tea 'n' Toast
- 26 stages of death
- Binge drinking not for the elderly
- New brain cells for alcohol abstinence
- Bees help alkies
- Alcohol check page
- Drinkers aid
- Cigs: 106,000 killings per annum
- OK to be a quitter (smokes-wise)
Brit Vulgarity?Sadly funny thread in the Guardian on a topic I'd assumed unquestioned: the utter collapse of any sort of poise or manners in today's Britain.
That there are postings expressing doubt - nay, even contradicting the thesis - shows how grave the problem has become.
Marlboro ManIf I was Marlboro cigs' marketing honcho, sitting atop such priceless unpaid publicity over Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, I would lose no time shipping out a B52's worth of its cancerous wares, not just to be snapped handing out those distinctive red boxes to the troops, but the killer photo op of ceremonially presenting Jonancey's finest with enough refills to at least see him through 'til the bullet with his name on it.
And you can bet your bottom dollar the media will be keeping tabs on *this* lad's wellbeing, if only to give equally extravagant coverage to his unwished-for demise - God willing, many many years hence.
Riled AlertHeavens, what a to-do over my reaction to that blogger piece in the 'Islander'. I'm amazed so many people have even *heard* of the journal: it flops weekly onto my doormat, whereupon 'Rumsfeld', my untrustworthy Lurcher, snatches it up and retires to his gnawing corner where he seems to find the texture and flavor of the paper the ideal floss for his canines. (By the way, anyone clicking on the 'Lurcher' link might have been greeted by loud and vulgar music - sorry about that).
Yes, anyway ... phone calls, emails and even being waylaid in the Safeway aisles by concerned citizens, worried for my welfare and continued social standing among the Island élite. On the last point, I assure them that I buy quite enough drinks-all-round at the Harbor alehouse to have even the most anti-Brit yokel in my pocket. Nevertheless, the consensus seems to be that I should "modify" my entry.
OK, here goes, and students of the editorial art pay attention:
Perfect day with Number 1 daughter in the Groves of WWU Academe. A rollocking good luncheon at Shari's followed by "Team America". For me, a 4th viewing in my bid to get the words right on that splendid patriotic anthem. How does it go again? "AmeriCAH! Gosh, Yess!". Or words to that effect.
Thence back, zooming up the I5 in the blessèd company of fellow raod hogs who know what it is to hit and hold speeds in the high 80s.
Tiens! What awaits me on the mat? Unchewed by Rumsfeld (who cleverly locked himself in the conservatory and has spent a sulky and victual-less day awaiting Master's return), a copy of The Bainbridge Islander. And who is the comely lady adorning the front page? Zut alors, none other than clever blogista Julie Leung of Seedlings & Sprouts fame.
Uh ohh - there is *also* a list of other local blogs including yours truly's scurrilous offering.
Quick Watson, we have not a moment to lose: this calls for some drastic cleansing of certain churlish remarks made by me about my saintèd Island neighbours.
In his article, Mr Thomsen dubs Mrs Leung "The face of New Bainbridge", and I must say the prospect pleases. (Why *is* it that the Julies of this world are invariably fresh-faced, demure charmers, clearly wonderful mothers and devoted wives who live full and exuberant lives?)
Indeed, there *are* the Leung cherubs in the background, washing up and generally helping mum around the house.
I read down the list and see that les filles Leung - exquisitely named Abigail, Michaela and Elizabeth - even have their own blog.
And it doesn't end there: overleaf is moody shot of Leung père, clearly brooding on some final tweak to his own techie page.
Excellent article all round.
Monday, November 15, 2004
To Cache a ThiefYet another example of how the technocracy operate:
Word reaches me of an article in Business 2.0 that I'd like to read, but I'm not a subscriber.
As with all such emergencies, I send it thru to a former team-mate at Cohesia Enterprises (whom God preserve) with a plea for help.
Quick as a flash, she writes back: nor is she subscribed, but "clever Google have a cached version."
She pronounces it a surface job, but likes the point about "close following". Too late, I remember I meant to ask for a supplier's address from the Cohesive confidentia. Next time.
Guitarist's DreamI'd heard of the D'Angelico Rifle but never seen it. Hmmm, good busker's axe.
Speaking of axes, I didn't even know that Rickenbacker did acoustics.
Like all contemporary Beatles fans, I knew that John strummed a weirdly-shaped solid and that the sleek viola-shaped bass McCartney pranced around with on TV provided welcome relief from the ubiquitous Fender profile.
So what do I see peeking over a table top at the Blackbird but the familiar bland head of a Rickenbacker, and acoustic, to boot. Turns out to be a 700S series and not a bad tone or action for the hard traveling it'd clearly been put through.
Booksy StuffPlaying the Code: Word on the literary side of the street has Columbia negotiating with Tom Hanks to play Robert Langdon in the film version of the mawkish but depressingly successful Da Vinci Code, set to go into production next year.
Observes Variety: "Though the principals denied it at the time, it has been clear since March that Hanks would play the rôle. Though no deal has been completed with the star, it's expected he'll make room in his schedule to reteam with Ron Howard."Not a convincing recipe for success, although I have to admit fading confidence in Hanks since viewing his spooky Polar Express.
Whither Desmond Hogan: Riveting piece by the Guardian's Robert McCrum about the disappearing Desmond Hogan.
Quoth he, "Nothing is more expressive of the marginal life of the committed writer than his story. For every one who wins the Booker or gets a six-figure advance, there's the one who goes missing." Good stuff.
Rollin' Oldies: the observant Boston Globe notes the plethora of ancient scribblers suddenly in the news - Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe, John Updike ... and now the erudite Cynthia Ozick (whose Secker editions in the UK I promoted in the 1970s, otherwise I'd never have tackled her).
It's Ozick in the spotlight, with her " ... touring the country for the first time, and with a new publisher ... [Ozick] may at last be reaching the broader audience many critics think she has long deserved."
Boris Boris BorisRed for blush, chum.
Oh lawd - it would be sex raising its juicy head - but what a good man for it not to ought to happen to. Damn damn damn.
Also that denial of fibbing to the Boss.
Can't blame him, of course. Always fancied yon Petronella meself, but so sad to see a good man downed.
Oh for the days when top gun types could have it off and the reptilian press knew to keep its foul trap shut.
Frisell frazzledI'm now even more of an expert on Bainbridge neighbour and guitarist supreme, Bill Frisell, even if it's slightly wasted on me.
Plan was to do a "local boy strums good" interview with BF for our local Bainbridge Review, loosely linked to his recent and eminently speakable and Xmas giftable album, Unspeakable.
Dammit, Frisell turns out to live up to his rep for elusiveness and no-one knows how to get hold of him. Nor does the press agency respond in time for me to fit the great man in this side of Feb 2005.
Nor am I allowed to accost the great man at his Nov 21 Sunday gig at the Tractor.
Red Alert ~ 11/18; 2330hrs: One of the great things about blogs is that one can go back in and edit and add and 'fess up or whatever.
Here I am drizzlin' and fris'lin' away up there in my original posting and suddenly tonight, 30 mins to midnight as I tap out a letter to my mum, into my InBox comes a really charming note from none other than Lee Townsend, one of *the* great record producers.
He's on the trail of some typos I dared present to Phyllis Oyama. We work out that I'm looking at the print-ready pdf version while he's looking at the website version. We agree that we agree; everything's cool.