.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} <$BlogRSDURL$>

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Après le déluge, blue skies and a hint of that rainbow.

Blot on the skyline: Grim reminder of the bane of 'Bridge.

Blue Skies Blighted

A crane raises the cynically named "Island Crossings".

On completion, even *one* such maneuver will be hard enough.

Skylines round the world

Educational *and* visual ... and Hong Kong tops the chart!

Bobby Blotter 3/30

Two splendid examples in the Review Police Blotter

  • 3/25, 1510 hrs: Driver stopped for seat belt violation, reeking of hooch, pretends to the rozzer it's only been two beers, later relents and 'fesses up to 7.

    Nicked for DUI.

  • Why is it always *two* beers that people pretend to? Show me a man on his second beer and I'll show you a stalwart just getting in his stride. I don't think I *know* anyone who flags after only two gulps - hardly worth starting if one's going to lose interest so soon and go beetling off in the jalopy.
  • Like the fuzz in the blotter report, I too would be suspicious of that 2 x beer line. Curiously lacking in stamina, for one thing.

  • 3/25, 1626 hrs: Dept of slight Paranoia:

    Gent perched at Madison/High School (the roundabout?) is uncouthly honked at by passing driver. Shock horror. To boot, the klaxonier had a restraining order out on him.

    Carabinieri informed, of course, who traced the honker who said he was bleeping at someone else. Peace restored, no arrests.

    • Hells bells - poor fuzz if they're reduced to this level of investigation.
    • Reminds me of arriving at a single-prop airfield in Oz's Northern Territory and waiting for customs inspection. Making to jot a few notes, I heard a stentorian strine bellow:

      horn"Oi - you! ... Can't you bloody read?" (Pointing to a "No Photographs" sign)

      "No photographs means no writing!"

    "Restrained" means no honking.

  • Zoomquilt

    PC World's Steve Bass always good on new and cool tools.

    Check out the last tip - Zoomquilt.

    It takes fore-e-vah to open but once you're there, keep the mouse clicked and drag up or down to navigate.

    vera drake

    Vera Drake

    Pierce's Rule # 22 - a good one - When in doubt, review something.

    I tend to stay clear of depressing subjects because the more skilled the treatment, the more involved I become. My emotions seem to tap from a single source which leaves me a bit drained for any real stuff. However, what with the buzz on this one, plus the fact that Mike Leigh always wrongfoots my preconceptions, *and* that the ladies at my local Silverscreen all expressed flattering interest in my opinion - I grabbed the first one off the shelf.

    It's set in a 1950s north London which I do in fact dimly recall for its ration-bound days and spivvy Brylcreemed hairstyles outside the Saturday dance palais (as sported by son Sid). Also, that chirpy London friendliness that Leigh catches in his ear-perfect dialogue - or maybe it was everyone doing their improv / character-exploring thing that Leigh seems to midwife so expertly from his casts.

    (Ghastly pun - and there's another one coming up - which I'm keeping in out of honesty to the language of my first reactions.)

    First off, despite being English and knowing these characters and their speech, I'm probably the least balanced to pass objective comment because of the surges of nostalgic emotion that envelop me out of the blue and completely distract me from the minutiae of the plot.

  • Watching an old episode of 'The Saint' or 'Prisoner' and hearing the barman charge 17/6 for a round of drinks
  • Glimpsing a corner of London long since fallen to the wrecker's ball.
  • Even the manufactured Evening Standard headline lending credence to a streetseller's cry of "Extra! Extra!".

    Speaking of plot, one of the striking aspects of the story is Vera's matter-of-fact approach to her criminal sideline, made more shocking by the squalid surroundings in which she wields her lye soap and disinfectant.

    By way of clever contrast, Leigh runs a parallel story of a girl of privileged background who also finds herself inconveniently pregnant but for whom the escape route is eminently smoother, via urbane Harley Street doc, equally unctuous psychiatrist, and a weekend's genial convalescence between the perfumed sheets of a nursing home somewhere in the country.

    The next unfortunate phrase that occurred was the feeling of being 'back in the womb' - a silly enough expression anyway - as I watched the characters move and speak, recognizing and placing each one as precisely as Professor Higgins could slot an accent north or south of Kensington High Street.

    I couldn't throw the feeling of being back in England - back in years, even - amid types I probably didn't remember I remembered until tapped by this subtle movie:

    • Vera's snooty sister-in-law, encapsulating all the aspirations and middle class snobbery of those post-war days.
    • The police, particularly Peter Wight as D.I. Webster
    • Perhaps most historically accurate of all, the gentlemen of the Bench - barristers, magistrates, the judge - all in an exalted galaxy miles from any understanding by the humble Vera.
    imelda staunton in real lifeAs for the talk of Imelda Staunton's award-winning portrayal, if *I* had put in a performance like that, I would certainly have nursed hopes of recognition beyond mere nomination.

    Too near the knuckle, I guess, rather as some ramshackle sets are *so* convincing that people assume they were just there, as opposed to created from scratch by some genius designer.

    To choose a moment from the movie, it has to be when the police finally turn up and confront Vera. The camera just fixes on her face. She says nothing, and you need to replay the scene to see the slow switches of emotion ... if I had been an Academician, that's where I would have been sorely torn, over that minute's footage alone.

    After word

    Well I never. Mike Leigh does it once again. I wonder if I'd have liked to have known this going into the movie or not:
    • Except for Imelda Staunton, none of the actors knew that the film was about abortion. Each actors only knew what concerned their characters.
      • Wow! Just like Secrets and Lies where white mother and black daughter (Blethyn and Jean-Baptiste) had never been introduced prior to when they meet on screen. What a moment that must have been - that trickster, Leigh.
    • The budget was so tight, a week of filming had to be cancelled.
    • "Filmed with NO script, the film went on to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay." So much for my precious reference to "ear-perfect dialogue".

      Mike Leigh had to prepare the screenplay so it could be sent out to academy members, but actually the nominated screenplay never existed. The film itself was the screenplay.

    • Leigh asked the actors to hum and, because they couldn't afford to buy rights to songs, the actors had to hum something generic.
    Well, all that rather makes my own comments rather ill-informed and irrelevant.

  • Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Celebrity Voiceovers

    Interesting Slate piece on how celebrities no longer regard voiceover work as infra dig.

    I must listen more closely to the AOL spot and see if I can recognise Julia Roberts' velveteen tones.

    Even *I* once did VO work - in Hong Kong on a brandy advert.

    I was ghastly: they wanted Michael Caine and all I could deliver was Peter Sellers or David Niven.

    jamie kennedy


    Having treated myself to a weekend's blitz of Jamie Kennedy's X-ing practical jokes, I find myself walking around in a state of all-round suspicion. Even a passing cop car looked fake and I was preparing some suitably sceptical line in case he swung round on me and delivered some hardball line about my broken tail light.

    Worst was trying to negotiate Safeway without calling the bluff on every helpful employee who asked if I'd found everything OK. Yerss, right, mate - not falling for *that* one!

    Moral: a full season is a *trifle* more than a mature adult should be able to take at a single sitting, even tho' I interspersed the charades with the Sally Potter/Tilda Swinton Orlando and Robin Williams' Final Cut.

    I must say that taking on a Kennedy marathon is made considerably easier by any recent work by Williams. He is a most sinister actor with a menacing screen presence that leaves me needing strong drink and frivolous companions - the perfect prep for watching the ebullient JK "X" the unsuspecting.

    Kennedy is a very bright lad with a talent for accents and the most brilliant and extraordinary disguises that *ought* to win his crew 1st prizes across all categories. He also has a talent for creating original characters, such as odious fathers and greasy hoodlums - and not a bad line in oafish Brit rock stars.

    Speaking of the odious father, the lad does not lack physical courage, such as when he plays the sports mad dad from hell and abuses his pretend (and very game) "son" in front of some pretty beefy (and increasingly riled) athletes. There are usually pals in on the joke so I assume they are ready to leap to Kennedy's defence if things get ugly.

    I assume the Kennedy pranks are well known because of the number of victims who catch on so quickly at the dénouement when JK informs them that they have just been "exxed".

    This brings me to a point about many of his japes, particularly those where a pal is being set up to be irked by some buffoon security police or waiter, or just the sexy Kathy Lee Gifford hitting on some innocent hunk and then leaving him with the bill for lunch as well as the champagne she originally sent over.

    I remember reading in a critique of "Othello" (no less!) that there is a type of practical joke that leaves you knowing no more about the joker but a heck of a bit more about yourself. Some of the situations the Kennedy show dreams up are frankly incomprehensible to the point of cruelty - the mother who is led to believe her daughter is a strippper; the newcomer to Hollywood who is pushed around to accommodate a celebrity; the gentle sports giant who watches a young fan manhandled by an idiot dad.

    All good fun, however - and the local TV Interviewer deserves an Oscar for the straight face he maintains while interviewing the Kennedy *parents* as well as a "hot mum" of one of this friends.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    terri schiavo

    Easter Charade

    No resurrecting Terri Schiavo

    That Chris Hitchens is such as bad boy, but he keeps my own writing on the straight and narrow so I have to keep reading him.

    Thanks, too, to Ars Technica for trying to remove the circus element.

    In fact, I was only checking the sayings of Chairman Hitch to confirm gloomy predictions that, despite 10 days without food/water *and* her feeding tube removed etc, the hapless Mrs Schiavo's demise is still not predicted for another *week* or two. Surely that can't be right? Lord, the body puts up a fight!

    Speaking of Le Bon Dieu, His patience is clearly running thin over the Schiavo shenanigans because look at the 8.7 tremblor He's just visited on Sumatra, as if to remind us that if we can't come up with some adult headlines of our own, He will gladly provide.

    I must say, not a good time for the Pope to go less than monosyllabic: I wouldn't have minded hearing what's up with our Maker timing these seismic tantrums to key dates on the religious calendar.

    I trust this isn't a hint to speed up that extreme makeover on Ark II or for extra doorway daubing come Passover ...

    Whoops - here it is in the Koran for the year of Our Lord 2007, Tsunami USA

    Green Card ID and Password

    I'm in the process of E-Filing my renewal application to extend my Green Card and am having fun choosing a password.

    The instructions are clear:

    User ID:


    "How to Blog"

    They're no doubt labeled "arrogance issues" in this country but no matter how low I humble down, I find it hugely difficult to extract anything helpful from most "how-to-write" advice. The exceptions are the likes of George V. Higgins.

    But Tony Pierce has two points that caught my eye, particularly #27 about poetry.

    Even as I posted my own undistinguished effort for the San Carlos poetry gathering, I had that uneasy feeling that all was not right. But it's interesting to read it from someone like Pierce and have my thoughts clarified and convictions emboldened:

  • # 18. "Before you hit Save as Draft or Publish Post, select all and copy your masterpiece. You are using a computer and the internet, shit can happen. No need to lose a good post."
  • # 27. "Nobody likes poems. Don't put your poems on your blog. Not even if they're incredible. Especially if they're incredible. Odds are they're not incredible. Bad poems are funny sometimes though, so fine, put your dumb poems on there. Whatever."
  • Post-script: Oh dear, how funny. I *am* out of touch with the movers and shakers. There was I imagining Master Pierce as some conscientious young chap collecting first thoughts on how to put a best bloggy foot forward, and it turns out he's a published author with an actual readership for his How-To.

    I should get out more.

    I only found out about TP's standing in the community after following a promising-sounding link about anonymous comments to what turned out to be a disconcertingly intemperate - and casually edited, IMO - broadside by none other than our Antoine.

    I suppose this too should be branded cowardly anonymous commentary for being an in-blog ponder on how far from reproach ones own efforts need be before setting about guiding others.

    Post-script 2: Feedback! Two polite comments, including nice note from TP

    "im always amazed by people who only read the first half of that rule and not that latter half


    gen x, baby"

    Susan Crawford

    Good interview on NPR's "On the Media" that makes me want to read more from this lady.

    Engineering Magic

    The more you know about engineering, the more you’ll know about magic.

    Nice little site, including:

    easter egg

    Easter Egg Archive

    Cool interview about digital Easter eggs by All Things Considered's Debbie Elliott with David Wolf, who maintains the site, documenting surprise content in DVDs, computer software and games.

    Good subject to bring up at the next Seattle Weblogger Meetup Group.

    Made me think of the blogging iBooked Jake from the Seattle Meeting. I bet *he* knows all the best oeufs.

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Equestrienne Spring Break

    #1 daughter canters into Spring, taking a breather from her thesis on "Loose Canons: Nuances of diffidence in 12th century heretical thought."

    Phew! In my day among the dreamy spires, one could at least understand the *title*.

    I think my best was "Crack your cheeks: the role of weather in King Lear"

    Goat buster

    Reggie the stable guard and attack goat par excellence.

    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    KRL Online Services

    Run-don't-walk contribution by Ref Librarian Julie O'Neill, page 11, BI Library News: "Search for articles at home the easy way".

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    US version of The Office

    Episode 1: disaster

    But nil desperandum, later efforts are promised to be more original and palatable, i.e. less slavish to the original brilliant Beeb version.

    Back to the US version, it will have to change out of all recognition to be remotely acceptable.

    Euromail vs Amerimail

    Another good piece in Slate about something of which I've been aware ever since my Euro kith and kin emerged from the mists of Esterbrook and vellum into a vague state of wiredness.

    To quote:

    "North America and Europe are two continents divided by a common technology: e-mail ... two distinct forms of e-mail have emerged: Euromail and Amerimail.

    Amerimail is informal and chatty, likely to begin with a breezy "Hi" and end with a "Bye" ... Americans are reluctant to dive into the meat of an e-mail; Amerimail is a bundle of contradictions: rambling and yet direct; deferential, yet arrogant. In other words, Amerimail is America.

    Euromail is stiff and cold, often beginning with a formal "Dear Mr. X" and ending with a brusque "Sincerely." You won't find any mention of kids or the weather or jellyfish in Euromail. It's all business. It's also slow. Your correspondent might take days, even weeks, to answer a message. Euromail is also less confrontational in tone, rarely filled with the overt nastiness that characterizes American e-mail disagreements."

    Fun to read in full.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    ch at table

    "bainbridge buzz"

    Non-Bainbridge pals expect me to keep them au fait with latest BI links.

    Here's a new-ish one that I've not thoroughly sussed out. On the other hand, if I waited 'til I had anything sensible to say on a subject before posting, *very* little would get written.

    To boot, I would probably jack the whole bloggie thing in from sheer crashing boredom of staying accurate, informative or truthful.

    harbor square sign

    Harbor Square

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005


    Sparing 'n' Spoiling

    Interesting NPR news item about Scott McConnell, in hot water with Syracuse's Le Moyne College for advocating corporal punishment in a paper he wrote as a student. The college dismissed him.

    Others who covered it (and I trust there'll be more):

  • The unfortunately named David Limbaugh
  • FIRE blog
  • CBS
  • A pal of Scott's posting via some Patriotic American Boycotters bunch, *also* interestingly highlighting McConnell's distrust of multi-culturalism:

    "Some professors and college officials were also concerned that Mr. McConnell wrote that he opposed multiculturalism, a teaching method that places emphasis on non-Western cultures."

    This whole brouhaha coincides with my reading David Foster Wallace's riveting cover story, Host in April's Atlantic Monthly. (I hope that link works for non-subscribers alike).

    Not only is the print version the first I've come across to mimic online links by having additional, color-boxed commentary alongside the main text, but one of those boxes is an expert description/assessment of a familiar character found across the globe:

    " ... for what it's worth, John Ziegler does not appear to be a racist as "racist" is generally understood. What he is is more like very, very insensitive — although Mr. Z. himself would despise that description, if only because "insensitive" is now such a PC shibboleth.

    Actually, though, it is in the very passion of his objection to terms like "insensitive," "racist," and "the N-word" that his real problem lies. Like many other post-Limbaugh hosts, John Ziegler seems unable to differentiate between (1) cowardly, hypocritical acquiescence to the tyranny of Political Correctness and (2) judicious, compassionate caution about using words that cause pain to large groups of human beings, especially when there are several less upsetting words that can be used.

    Even though there is plenty of stuff for reasonable people to dislike about Political Correctness as a dogma, there is also something creepy about the brutal, self-righteous glee with which Mr. Z. and other conservative hosts defy all PC conventions. If it causes you real pain to hear or see something, and I make it a point to inflict that thing* on you merely because I object to your reasons for finding it painful, then there's something wrong with my sense of proportion, or my recognition of your basic humanity, or both."

    *Wallace qualifies the reference to "that thing" by reminding us to be real:

    "Spelling out a painful word is no improvement. In some ways, it's worse than using the word outright, since spelling it could easily be seen as implying that the people who are upset by the word are also too dumb to spell it. What's puzzling here is that Mr. Ziegler seems much too bright and self-aware not to understand this."

  • Farmers Almanac - online

    Bless the internet: Old Farmers Alamanac avail for consulting online.

    Monday, March 21, 2005


    San Carlos Encountered

    I did my stuff and listened agog to the fine poetry everyone read.

    Bob McAllister (spelling?) is *such * a good compère, he exudes warmth and encouragement and wears his learning and literacy so lightly. I envy his students with such a tutor mentor and bet some of tomorrow's scribes are being hatched right there in Bob's petrie dish.

    And props 2 Lee and all at the San Carlos for hosting this slam for **21** years. Is that not the spirit of Bainbridge? Why we live here. It was an enriching as much as humbling experience.

    I sat at a table with Joe (Fountain?), as buff a guy as I've seen for a long while but nice with it, not one of yr muscle-bounders who scorns other mere mortals. And he writes good.

    I bandy the phrase 'good for the soul' but this *was* good for the soul: ordinary folks getting up and sharing intimate important thoughts that they've wrestled to the page.

    If you focus and really listen - coz you wont hear it again - you hear some very original thoughts and emotions and *that's* our world more than the published grandees. The grandees show us what's possible with talent, but it's the humble pentameter toilers who are the real nitty-gritty.

    I read my Karen-Jo poem that she'd always wanted me to read there; I'm sorry she never got to hear it, but she was probably bending an ear, bless that North Carolina siren.

    Apart from a remarkable guy at the end with his sonnets, what amused me was that the bigger and more respectful the intro, the worse they read and the more impenetrable their offerings. I exclude the gritty and powerful Howard whose 'Memphis Jack' I *must* buy in quantities to send to all my scribbling mates.

    A thought-provoking day and when I got home, Monk's 'Ruby My Dear' was on the radio, a very cool version by some nordic trio. Perfect.

    The original of this post included the actual poem, but Tony Pierce is right in his How to Blog, item 27:

    "Nobody likes poems. dont put your poems on your blog. not even if theyre incredible. especially if theyre incredible. odds are theyre not incredible. bad poems are funny sometimes though, so fine, put your dumb poems on there. whatever.


    Mr Tidy

    As far as I'm concerned, *all* writing is a work in progress and there's always something that can be tidied somewhere.

    For my own writing, the first words I slap down are of little interest except as guidelines to where I may want to go. Akin to a slap of marble or a block of wood: all one is really looking at is the material one has to work with. The finished product will bear little resemblance.

    I am a terrible editor. In fact I am *not* an editor of any sort or skill so much as a rewriter, which I regard as pretty low life and not something to be mentioned around polite company.

    But I have posed as an editor on three continents and my business cards have often proclaimed me as such.

    When I was in Hong Kong, scrabbling as a despised writer/editor for one of the hotshot American ad agencies, I was part of a team on an account with a very tough and difficult client - and none come tougher or more difficult than tough difficult Americans straight out of Central Casting. I think that's part of the whole MBA training deal, or just before they've given their corner office and key to the exc loo, they go off to some secret mountain fortress where they're trained in how to bust balls.

    Like all toughies, this one would tear anything we wrote apart and keep tearing til blueprint stage and even when the final job was printing. Because his roar was every bit as ferocious as his bite, we took it and met deadlines best we could.

    One job was going so badly, we almost felt like jacking it in and suggesting he find another agency. It had gone thru umpteen writers including the boss man and his assistant and probably his glam trophy wife who'd wander in now and then festooned with shopping.

    One night late at the printers, I was brought a brochure that had corrections even the skilled Chinese typesetter couldn't decipher. The job had to be done by the next morning and I was asked my advice. I looked at this hardworking guy who'd given up his nights and weekends and I said, "You know, Kenny? Who *cares* what the corrections say? I'm going to sit down and write the whole thing the way it should be. I don't want to see the proof. It's shapeless rubbish."

    So I wrote the whole thing and signed off on it and it printed and we delivered it to the client's office and I went home for my 4 hours' sleep before the big meeting.

    Naturally, the creative director went ashen when he saw it and told me that I was carrying the can and any reprint came out of my pay.

    The big cheese came in and looked it over and barked some orders and pretended to spot some color defect and queried a wrong phone number; the usual.

    He then asked about the writing and the CD did his thing and dumped me in it, to which I murmered something craven like I thought it could do with some tidying here and there. He grunted.

    A half hour later as he walked out and we all rose and bowed and scraped, he pointed at me:

    "You, my English friend - you tidy up good"

    Ever after, each time some expensive writer had done his job, whether I'd been allowed near it or not, the CEO would jab a finger at me and growl, "You seen this, Mr Tidy? This got your seal of approval?" I'd nod and simper and tug forelock.

    I do tidy up good.

    I'm reminded of this by the two versions of my Weblogger Meeting report:

  • The cringe-making initial "slab", that the tireless Anita sent out (and which must exist as a cache somewhere)
  • And the final revised version which sits in my blog.

  • Sunday, March 20, 2005

    San Carlos Encounter

    Am getting worried.

    I have this "effort" for Karen-Jo which will never see light of day except at this San Carlos reading, but I can't work it into anything remotely worthwhile.

    San Carlos Encounter

    "Do you remember me barging out the Carlos back door? ... "

    Blah blah, etc - that's enough. Rest of poem safely between <!-- and -->, thanks to the one of two points to catch my eye in Tony Pierce's energetic musings on How to Blog was item 27:

    "Nobody likes poems. dont put your poems on your blog. not even if theyre incredible. especially if theyre incredible. odds are theyre not incredible. bad poems are funny sometimes though, so fine, put your dumb poems on there. whatever."

    Yet no' sae auld, and no' sae stiff

  • From an island gourmet and fellow MacDerider of Ruby's disastrous name change

    "Ruu-bee - don't take that kilt to town"

  • A no less pretentious poem

  • matrix poster

    matrix redux

    Always a pleasure to remind my Matrix bore pals of the 'Stewart' factor.


    Ian McEwan

    Morning, March 19, wake to familar Brit voice on radio 94.0FM

  • Author Ian McEwan giving superbly polished interview on the London line to NPR about his latest novel Saturday
  • I lived near McEwan in south London and we met in interesting circumstances
    • McEwan's Cement Garden had been published to the usual acclaim
    • Out of the blue, some aged critic - Bron Waugh? - recalled that the plot of CM bore a resemblance to one Julian Gloag's Our Mother's House, also made into a movie, and published by Secker & Warburg for whom I was then handling the press and PR
    • Frantic call from researcher of the TV prog who was due to interview Ian on the very controversy: he hadn't actjally read the book he was suspected of plagiarising. How to get him sight of the out-of-print book?
    • My office housed the office files of first editions - Orwell, Colette, Böll, Grass, Plath, Jong, the list goes on - of which none left the building, of course.
    • I agreed to bike our precious file copy over to chez McEwan that night
    • That's how we met and how it went from there, with me collecting it back from McEwan in the same arrangement.
    • It was the least I could do, having earlier been one of the Secker crew to thumb down on his short stories that actually made his name. The thinking was that no one launched on shorts.
    • (I am told I was also one of the gang that poo-pooh'd on a **synopsis** of a certain Freddie Forsyth's de Gaulle stalking day of the jackal)

  • Saturday, March 19, 2005

    jerry springer

    Jerry Springer for UK TV - but no brawling

    Say whut?

    "No brawling in the aisles when Jerry Springer brings his famously volatile confessional TV show to the UK - a domestic version of the US talk show that made his name:

    "We're not going to go down the line of fighting, swearing and shouting. There is another side to Jerry - he's a very good and sensitive interviewer," said Dianne Nelmes, director of daytime and lifestyle at Granada."

    Good God, woman!

    "Another side to Jerry? Good and sensitive interviewer?"

    Who on earth wants *that*? Why on earth do you think anyone tunes into the rubbish in the first place?

    Blimey - poor blair-ified Brits: first they get a cocked-up yankified version of The Office sold *back* to them; now they're fobbed off with this neutered Springer nonsense.

    Speaking of the Gervais triumph - and I hate being such a milksop (advancing senility, no doubt) - I have to own up to coming across a qualifying reference to the US 'Office' version that makes me hold fire until I've seen the travesty itself.

    At least I will take satisfaction in pouring even more venomous bile on the show if my initial pompous objections are proved founded.

    In the meantime, I chafe in the hateful situation of pretending to "play fair". A passing phase, I assure you.



    My far from minor Minol utilities statement is in and exactly what I foretold has happened.

    First, refresher links to earlier postings on the subject:

    So ...

  • I flew out of Seattle on Wednesday December 15th and returned Tuesday January 18th.
  • Today I receive a statement, almost indistinguishable from any other month's but covering "Water & sewer service from 12/15/2004 to 1/15/2005". It's almost as if Minol is *deliberately* mocking me with the precision with which it's able to fleece me.
  • But we are now able to pay online - for which privilege we are billed an extra $4.00.

    I've clearly been bitten by some honesty 'bug" because, out of fairness, I have to reproduce this very courteous and prompt reply, rec'd mere hours after my own churlish complaint:

    Good afternoon,
    During the most current billing, only 10 gallons of hot water shows to have been used, therefore, that would indicate you were not using water. However, your cold water is billed based on allocation, which means that based on the amount of hot water used, each resident pays a portion of the cold water supplied to the property, hence allocation. Again, whatever percentage of hot water that is used by each resident, the same percentage of cold water is allocated based on the number of occupants in each unit. In your case (1).
    If I may be of further assistance, then please let me know.

    Kind regards,

    M**** B*** (anonymized to protect the professional and polite)

  • Friday, March 18, 2005


    Deadwood ~ the music

    Track 6, "Go to hell"

    Wild Bill Hickok (Carradine, superb) to Charlie Utter (perfectly cast Dayton Callie):

    "I don't wanna fight it no more ... I don't want you p****ng in my ear about it ... Can you let me go to hell the way I want to?"

    C: "Yeh, I can do that"

    (Followed on the album by perfect segué into Lyle Lovett's "Old Friend")

    M comes round to ask about last night's geek-fest, see how big a fool I made of myself, check about Sunday's San Carlos poetry slam.

    Pounces on the Deadwood CD and insists we play it even tho' it's too early in the morning for the lingo or the music.

    I have none of the weirdo New Agey nut cutlet stuff she likes to chaw on so she makes to head out to the shops.

    I need more juice and marmalade.

    Me: "About the marmalade. Don't buy *anything* if you're not sure. Last time you got me some p***y local stuff ... can you get me the heck sort of chunky marmalade I like?"

    Pause by the door. A "look". Then perfect growly imitation of Charlie:

    "Yeh, I can do that"

    13 Things That Do Not Make Sense

    I love these articles and few do them better than the New Scientist

    Among the 13:

  • Placebo effect
  • Horizon conundrum
  • Pioneer anomaly
  • Dark energy
  • That old chestnut - Cold Fusion

  • Weblogger Meetup

    As always for such first-time occasions, I arrived early and anonymous and sat quietly seeing if I could spot my fellow blogsters. This being my first Seattle Weblogger Meetup, I was nervous as hell, and eyeing the door in case a sudden wave of decisiveness would enable me to walk out and catch the 7:30 ferry home with no damage done.

  • Because of my left-ear deafness and efforts to save people repeating themselves, I'd come with a list of the 17 or so members attending. (In fact, our tireless organiser Anita was a step ahead of me turned out to have brought labels on which we scrawled IDs of varying legibility and coherence).

    In compiling my list of those attending, I'd vaguely registered that someone might be bringing along his "e-book" - or, as I was later corrected, his iBook. That someone was Jake, one of the early arrivers and indeed wielding his gleaming new toy.

    This gave me enough of an ice-breaker intro line and an excuse to join them at the main table.

  • Jake was *exactly* the sort of person I needed to start the evening with and camouflage my awkwardness: booting up his iBook, fingers rippling across the keys, rapid-fire commentary as the desktop flowered with all sorts of exotic icons and other laptop pyrotechnics - not to mention photos of distinguished pols and 2nd-hand smoking cats.

    Jake even had a count-down calendar for the opening of Hitchhiker's Guide. Mega-points for that alone. Indeed, so impressed was I by his general wizardry that, when I'd got home and was going thru the latest in LinkFilter, J was the first person I thought of as likely to actually set up this Firefox click-thru gizmo

  • Bainbridge blogista Julie Leung had emailed Anita a heads-up I'd be there so I didn't feel too lost and, anyway, everyone was approachable and easy to talk to.
  • The one annoying goof that I still smart over came when I tried to help Heather find the coding on her blog template for adding side-bar links. I completely forgot that some blogspot templates don't include those links, or we'd have straightway spotted it:


    Add things to your sidebar here.
    Use the format:

    <li> <a href="URL"> Link Text </a> </li >


    < h6 > Links </h6>

    And so forth.

    What I did when I got home was copy out my own code (as above) and then, not seeing an email address on her blog, post it as a comment on her last posting. Messy but one can delete comments, no?

    That was a message about the coding. Next morning was when the brainwave struck that Heather might not actually be running a template that catered for sidebar links. So ... wanting to save her trawling thru code on a wild goose chase, I sent *another* comment/message.

    A case of trading wild goose for a cooked one. Can't win.

  • In fact, so annoyed was I at this fumbling, I dawdled over breakfast and thus caught a radio piece about Mike Kinsley and Sue Estrich going at it hammer n tongs over the dearth of women op-ed writers. Nice balancing act by an articulate lady they asked for comment - a successful op-ed writer with her own widely-read bye line - who managed to sympathize with her scribbling sisters while expressing muted approval of a meritocracy that kept *her* in work and lesser mortals - male and female - down with grunts where they belonged.
  • I'll certainly go again. It's exactly such ventures out of my comfort zone that are good for the soul and set me thinking or blushing or just plain raising the standards of my own game. Hell, if the multi-tech'd Jake can make it over from the wilds of Bremerton, I can surely trek in from genteel Bainbridge (altho, I do see that the Julie has sort of offered to do her multi-tasking WonderWoman thing and organize a BI chapter, in which case I can see me reverting to default Island-bound sloth.)
  • Speaking of raised games, I'm already humbled and impressed by the skill and quality of the blogs I've looked at belonging to some of those present.
  • In no particular order, in addition to those linked to above:
    • Karen (with whom I chatted the longest on my table, as the editing Clark jabbed and grunted away in the background. Hey, K - hugely enjoyed our rambling discussion. I look forward to our next meet)
    • Bustling organizer Anita (also trekking in from distant parts)
    • Clark - also with MISC mag's editorial string to his bow
    • Mike Pope, also posting shrewd feedback on the evening.

  • Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    stop sign


    I have a feeling that wise pals will write in with good reasons why I should *not* use BugMeNot.

    Alas, it *sounds* neat and I'm the sort of sucker - spoiled by years of blanket access - to be irritated when asked to register and fall for links like this.

    Beeb report on Best Blogs

    I thought I'd seen all these Bloggies results before but it must be just my Alzheimer turning telepathic.

    Anyway, Heather Armstrong needs no intro for her Dooce and I can't remember how or why I've known of Plastic Bag before this award.

    Uncover the Net

    Fun stuff

    Happy searching

    Speed Typing Test

    We all fancy ourselves as swift and nifty on the keyboard.

    typewriterAll that practice we get on the fun stuff?

    But how fast are we really?

    Take this cool test and see ...

    If you're less than impressed with yourself, CalculatorCat also has Software Recommendations

    If you couldn't care less how fast you type, you're probably relaxed enough to enjoy some of the free calculators:

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Silky Solution ~ The Gods not mocked

    I was boasting the other day about my success in shifting unwanted CDs via Amazon's Marketplace and included an experience that gives blogging its good name.

    "So why haven't you shared this *in* your blog?" I was asked.

    Good question.

    And joyeuse 25th anniversaire to 'Miranda'

    Is that not a perfect encapsulation of blog power?

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    poetry fun gifpaglia

    Jostle, provoke, shift ...

    Sounds and word choices

    As March 20th's San Carlos Poetry Slam looms, what perfect timing for the alluring Camille Paglia's excellent piece on Why Poetry Matters

    hong kong

    Steel in the Spine

    One country two systems - or nothing

    The people of Hong Kong are not mocked in their resolute stance on democracy.

    Ineffectual Chief Exec Tung Chee-hwa failed to grasp the simple fact that Hong Kong's people *will* choose their own government.

    Two major stars in the journalistic firmament file informative pieces in the International Herald Tribune

  • Jonathan Mirsky on the background to CH Tung's departure on health grounds ("If Beijing says you're ill, you're really ill" - Martin Lee)
  • Philip Bowring - former FEER editor when that paper meant something - on the implications behind Beijing's "tremble and obey" line on interpreting the Basic Law.

  • Sunday, March 13, 2005


    Islay Riler

    So ... what are we to make of that scrolled message addressed to one island about another?

    I've already commented in exceedingly surly and un-islanderly fashion on the awful *look* of the piece

  • That camp scroll frame
  • Crammed type
  • Impatience with lay-out and slapdash extravagance with the bold pen.

    Now for the words themselves.

    • Islay owner (neé Ruby's) Maura Crisp has learned of 'some misinformation out there concerning the Islay Manor' (note the "the" - Iluh M has suddenly acquired the definite article).
    • Rather than spell out the misinformation so we know where we've been going wrong, Ms Crisp offers to tell us what's up at the restaurant and some upcoming events.
    • Then she decides to do neither, instead launching into some bizarre ramble about the place's wholly incongruous and uninviting name.
    • But first she panics the bejasus out of us by reassuring us that they are "open, alive and well on the South side of the Island".
      • Whenever a commercial establishment needs to spell it out that way, you can bet your bottom bawbie they are drowning, not waving.
    • But back to the discouraging name: from pleasant enough visits - including showing it off to pals from north of the border - the place seems unpretentious enough, but I've never understood why it was landed with such a name. I asked my pal Hamish to scrutinize every nook and cranny, from menu to masonry, and point out the Scottish influence
      • Portraits of tartaned ancestors?
      • A dagguerotype of a pet haggis cavorting?
      • Choice dishes from Granny MacAaron's own recipe book?
      • Wall-hanging sporrans, kilt pins or crossed Sgian Dubhs?
      • Apparently not.
    • "I know it is hard to pronounce," writes Crisp - "say Eye-Lay".
    • What's so hard to pronounce about Eye-Lay? And while we're about it, *don't* say Eye Lay, say Eye Luh.
      • See Armin Crewe
      • See here
      • Read the FAQ
      • Ask anyone who's been within a whiff of Lagavulin on the island:
    • "Islay is pronounced 'Eye-lah' and not Izlay. The latter pronunciation is darned annoying but, if you can master the proper version, you'll do alright until you have to say Bunnahabhain or Bruichladdich."
    • With so many unfancy straightforward names to choose from, *why* was Ruby's so prissily re-christened thus?

      MC accuses us of being "all global folks ... thought you'd like the international nod".

      Oh Lord, we're back to that one, are we? The old cosmopolitan flattery. Sigh. If there's one thing we are decidedly *not*, bless us, it is "global".

      Our passports may carry the stamps of exotic destinations but the moment we set foot back on BI soil, all cosmopolitan airs evaporate and we revert to form so accurately summarized by one born 'n' bread local as the unique Bainbridgers' "Two hands of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged". Ouch - but so true.

      And *what* is in the least bit "global" about a tiny Hebridean island measuring 25 miles by 20? That's like me setting up a mobile fish n chip joint down the Wandsworth Road and calling it 'Bainbridge Barrows'. No way would I smarm up those south Londoners with talk of international nods or inferences that the community harbored "global" folks among us. Blimey - talk about laughing stock. (Whoops, forgot. we are.)

    • Nothing much in the next para - an itinerary of who's up to what and where they're doing it. I assume this is meant to correct the 'misinformation' we're accused of laboring under - lazy ignorant customers that we are.
    • Nor much in the 4th paragraph - Aaron of Islay grandma fame still oversees the kitchen AND our "favorite entrees are still on the menu", whichever those happen to be.
    • Suddenly we get a sprinkling of bold type: the favorite entrées comment; Monday date nights; pleadings for reservations; and another drowning-not-waving line about thanking us for our "continued patronage". Clearly is it NOT being continued, or why the unsightly ¼-page S.O.S. in the first place?
    • Finally - Dept of eating Islay cake and still having it - a friendly gesture towards UN-global folks who'd run a mile from an international nod:
      • Folksy li'l reference to the fire in the library still cracklin'
      • So's not to be outdone by Mary's promise that "the coffee's always on", the Eye-La folks also want to assure us that "the martini's are waiting", even chucking in that illiterate grocers' apostrophe to make us feel at home and NOT too global for our boots.

  • islay malt

    Islay Smiley

    What an incident-packed week, as covered in the 12th March BI Review.

    Hard to choose the burning issue du jour from all the fiery goings on:

    None of those, actually.

    Clear winner is the bizarre "message" to the Island from the incongruously kilted kitchen of "The" Islay Manor.

    One picture tells all: gaze in bemused horror on the sheer clunky affectation of that 'scroll', surpassing kitschness, even by our Bainbridge standards

    Och - one canna help wondering why some canny soul down in the Review's advertising dept couldn't have just picked up a phone and saved them going quite so aglae in their choice of design malfunction.

    Hoots! What's it even meant to be?

  • Press announcement?
  • S.O.S?
  • Epistolary white flag of surrender?
  • 'Come-back-all-is-forgiven' plea?
  • Sour grapes 'our customers don't understand us' blether?

    But enough. My cruel illustration with a photo is critique enough.

    Further words fail me on the actual appearance.

    Next post on this subject will try for courteous head or tail of the actual verbage.

  • bowing indians


    House of Exotic Indian Cuisine

    Thursday was so glorious, for luncheon I decided to treat myself to Indian cuisine - from the Punjab, no less - at the newly opened Gandhi on the second floor of the Pavilion.

    None other than the dapper manager Mr Manoj Kumar himself led me to my table, tho' I blanched when I saw where he was placing me. Let me explain:

    Many moons ago, I decided to explore somewhere to take business contacts for a good meal and away from the Seattle smog.

    Despite the silly name, I decided to put "Spartans" Italian restaurant (as it was called in those days) thru its paces. Thus it was one evening that I found myself climbing the stairs to the same 2nd-floor rendezvous now occupied by Gandhi.

    Matters got off to a splendid start with the dazzling smile I got from the stunning young receptionist - clearly a sophisticated import from the fleshpots of Seattle. In fact, once I could tear my eyes off her, I noticed that almost the *entire* staff comprised of damsels of serious pulchritude.

    Before I could ogle further, up strode the manager (an acquaintance, as it happened) and led me to a table discreetly hidden from the fray and offered me a glass of wine and the menu.

    Five minutes passed, fifteen, then 20 ... I was puzzled. Meanwhile, from the other side of the partition I could hear the manager keeping his bevy of beauties amused in trills of youthful laughter.

    But what about my vino and the menu?

    Another 10 minutes passed, at which point I decided to humiliate myself no longer and walked out, attracting no one's attention, certainly not the manager's whom I glimpsed besporting himself on the balcony with a brace of ringleted serveuses.

    Why wait so long? Well, I'll tell you why - to enjoy a meal served by one of those leggy charmers, that's why. Otherwise I'd have vamoosed much sooner.

    Anyway, it was to that exact same table that Mr Kumar led me - kingfisherbut for a very different experience.

    A menu was instantly in my hands, the drink arrived - a deliciously cold Kingfisher - and I was off:

    There were 3 or 4 other tables occupied, all waited upon by the indefatigable Mr Kumar, hovering discreetly, managing to appear Jeeves-like just when one needed him, always ready with an explanation of the menu.

    Only one blemish - rather funny, really - concerning the nectar Kingfisher. It comes in rather a *small* bottle, so a good meal usually requires two or three. Imagine my horror (and Mr Kumar's!) when I called for the second bottle only to be told that I had consumed the last Kingfisher - the man who drank Gandhi dry! - and would need to fall back on Heineken.

    I began to wonder if that particular area wasn't jinxed: first, the service-unconscious Spartan harem; next the oddly named "Via" (where my daughter and I had possibly our worst - and worst *served* - meal *ever* on the island.

    And now an ale malfunction for Gandhi ... ominous.

    I fear for this fine establishment's chances of survival (elaborated on in a long and pompous discussion of that woeful Islay advert/bleat (BI Review, March 12; with the kinky hideous pseudo scroll border).

    Having finished my meal, and strolled out onto the balcony for fresh air, sunshine and a contemplative (and contented) digestif
    , I settled the bill (a very reasonable $35 incl not ungenerous tip) and sauntered home.

    I urge all lovers of exotic Indian cuisine to hurry there before the Gandhi bites the dust, victim to our collective and characteristic neglect, as per Artsoup and the revered Winslow Hardware.

  • Luncheon, Mon - Fri, 11:30am - 2pm
  • Sat and Sunday, Noon - 2pm
  • Regular menu, Mon - Fri, 11:30am - 9pm
  • Sat/Sun, Noon - 9pm
  • Banquets and catering
  • Food to go

    403 Madison Ave N, 2/F, BI, WA T: 206 780 3545

  • The Office - US-style

    On your behalf, I have been scrutinizing video clips of the US version of The Office.

    On our screens March 24th, it is a travesty through and through.

  • The scripts are largely direct cribs from the Brit series, so lines are mangled and flubbed even as they pass transatlantic lips.
  • With Brit wit to mouth, the cast is at a dead loss for interpretation. I have no idea if there's a jot of acting talent between them because the assembled 'actors' are up against it just having to deliver the lines as if with a glimmer of comprehension.
  • What's totally loony is that this desecration of a show has been sold *back* to the BBC for showing **back** to the long-suffering limey viewers. God know what the reaction will be. Not much, I auppose, bearing in mind how spineless my countryman have become under the Bush poodle's far from prime ministering.

  • Aniak the otter

    A Day at the Seattle Aquarium

    This is where we Islanders score.

    On a gorgeous day, what is more enjoyable than the sort of free ferry trip that overseas visitors pay thru the nose for, then a brisk stroll down the piers, past the tourist traps and the alluring aroma of Ivar's fish 'n' chips - et voilà! Our very own Seattle Aquarium - within easier traveling distance for Bainbridgers than the hapless Seattle-siders who have to battle public transport and/or parking.

    Of course, it's visits like this that remind me that my toy-town camera is a false economy when it fails to deliver the true glorious color of those on display, or lacks the speed to capture a mother otter cruising with her babe.

    Those graceful seals, just gliding thru the water - upside down, to boot.

    It brings home what a marvel Mother Nature is - *and* The Great Designer - steamlining them to pass *within* the water as if part of it, rather than thru it, like us clunky humans.

    I kept trying to get a decent pic of Aniak, the mother otter, with her baby on her tum. You can see the mother otters face at the far right end. That sunlit bundle just beneath her "chin" is the snoozing babe, born March 3 2005.

    baby otterThe Aquarium's own site has pics and a ton of information that it's worth genning up on beforehand.

    Speaking of which, the place is gloriously full of children and plenty of chances for our own darlings to inter-act with others, either at that velcro board or the upstairs Grotto by the seals.

    Hey parents! This is a real chance for our kids to learn, and they look to us as omniscient sources of all information.

    Instead, I see fathers shambling around, peering with the same child-like enthusiasm as their offspring, but answering "Dunno ... dunno ... gee, that's a good question ... er, dunno."

    A lot of the answers are in the Exhibit Guide and it's fun for us to learn, too.

    My favorite sight at the Aquarium, the one that makes the whole visit worthwhile: mama otter Aniak circling with her arms around her babby, asleep on her tum.

    Feeding time at the Aquarium.fish

    Deadwood 2nd series

    My Time arrives with its cover story of "The Math Myth" and the truth about the gender gap in science.

    First page it tauntingly falls open at is this double page spread for season 2 of the best viewing on TV. Yes, even better than Trump, and I haven't seen whatever the fragrant Martha Stewart comes up with.

    Seriously, I can only echo Sedition's rallying call

    "If you’re an adult, watch this show.

    The 2nd season starts Sunday night, 6 March 2005. Don’t let this show disappear.

    Don’t even give them a reason to consider cutting its budget."

    james Butler Hickcock

    Full throttle frontier America

    I know the second Deadwood series started March 6 - and I'm consumed with jealousy of those with HBO - but I'm still plugging the first one as viewable on DVD.

    Two good opportunities have just presented themselves, three if you count the excellent Adams Museum page

    Now for the real stuff: Frank Rich writes of the Greatest Dirty Joke Ever Told and Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens' intolerance of bad language on cable and satellite television. That's you, messrs MTV, Comedy Central, satellite purveyors of Howard Stern and countless others.

    Quoth Rich:

    If you can see only one of the shows that he wants to banish or launder, let me recommend the series that probably has more four-letter words, with or without participles, than any in TV history.

    That would be "Deadwood" on HBO.

    Its linguistic gait befits its chapter of American history, the story of a gold-rush mining camp in the Dakota Territory of the late 1870's.

    "Deadwood" is the back story of a joke like "The Aristocrats" and of everything else that is joyously vulgar in American culture and that our new Puritans want to stamp out. It's the ur-text of Vegas and hip-hop and pulp fiction. It captures with Boschian relish what freedom, by turns cruel and comic and exhilarating, looked and sounded like at full throttle in frontier America before anyone got around to building churches or a government.

    Next plug is via the excellent Sedition's web where he nails Why the show is so good

    "The reason why it is so much better than the rest is that it has a moral center. It has a good guy. This became passé somewhere in the post-1950s world. It’s not irrelevant though. Anyone who looks objectively at the American political scene, the rampant corporate corruption in the world, or the atrocities in the Middle East for one second knows that when western culture made the assumption that good guys were no longer relevant, it signed its own death warrant.

    If you’re an adult, watch this show. The 2nd season starts Sunday night, 6 March 2005. Don’t let this show disappear. Don’t even give them a reason to consider cutting its budget."

    seth bullock:timothy olyphant(Actually, from my very first glimpse of the fierce-eyed Seth Bullock, I was strongly reminded throughout of the equally moral Sedition.)

    Indeed, had Timothy Olyphant come a cropper during filming, the Lion of the Nightcrew could have replaced him in a trice with the merest of tonsorial tweaking.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    Costly petard - $37.7 million


    Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher was the upstanding guy who brought *in* the higher standards of personal behavior, moral etc.

    Now he himself is hoist with his own petard as he resigns over an affair with a fellow employee - said to be 48-year-old divorced exec Debra Peabody.

    Stonecipher will receive a $2.1 million bonus based on the company's financial performance in 2004.

    But ... he won't get performance shares of the company stock that could have been worth as much as $37.7 million.

    Phew - that was a costly round of 'body' shots behind the filing cabinets.

    I trust Mr Stonecipher found Ms Peabody's body worth it.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    werner herzog

    Incident at Loch Ness

    Riveting, bizarre, spooky. Utterly convincing, and the multi-cast commentary is even more sinister

    Werner Herzog is the perfect subject here:

  • Distinguished director
  • Unrivaled track record
  • Unerring BS antenna
  • Stiff Teuton values
  • Nobody's fool
  • Any spoil-sport who blabs the gaff on this totally beguiling documentary deserves a flogging and *then* to be tossed into the chilly Loch waters.

    kitana bakerSpeaking of which, major salute to the charming Kitana Baker, who actually *did* plunge as part of her duties as Discover IV's sonar operator ... brrrave lass.

    I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, nor am I in any way curious about what does or does not trawl the waters of Loch Ness. But the combination of Nessie *and* the principled Herr Herzog was not to be resisted, and how right I was.

    A very long time since I've been so intrigued ... from the start, you *know* it's heading for a Murphy's Law field day and all you can do is watch the whole train wreck of a movie gather pace.

    What grand guignol serendipity for the documentary film crew to have chosen *this* of all projects to follow Werner around on.


    Any Old Iron?

    Last night I was overtaken by an urge to boldly clean where no sponge had gone for many a moon - and stap me if I didn't uncover a bunch of untouched D-I-Y tools dating back to our early days when I too was under the Bainbridge bug of imagining myself a man about the house.

    You know the sequence:

    Anyway, unused tools in the attic, including:


    All for sale

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?