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Friday, September 30, 2005

Expense Account

A twinge of nostalgia last night as I wined and dined a business colleague on my employer's expense account.

The last time I ordered from a menu with gay abandon, ignoring the right-hand column with all those vulgar numbers and £ signs was in September 1980.

A BBC producer on to whose current affairs programme I needed to place the author Günther Grass.

She had in fact agreed from the day three months previously when the publisher's catalogue had announced publication of a new book, but she was a dead ringer for Kate Bush, paid a pittance for her good work so rarely ate out, and I - like all London's publicists - craved her company.

That ended 10 straight years of non-stop eating out in the best restaurants.

Remembering how a table-cloth doodle by Picasso was once framed by the restaurateur as being worth more on the market than his whole business, I twice tried to alert le patron of Quo Vadis not to discard his dirty linen - once with John Piper who'd done a charming sketch from memory of a church steeple we both admired in Bourton-on-Water, and the other an absolutely hideous and hilarious caricature by Francis Bacon of an art critic we both regarded as utterly bogus. In fact, Francis later threw up on the carpet, thus placing the eaterie's rug work also beyond purchase.

On neither occasion did the ignorant victual purveyor spot the chance of riches and I hadn't the sense to leave a fat tip for the waiter to turn a blind eye as I neatly folded and retained the table linen.

Those vinous days are a blur, of course, but one occasion sticks in mind.

My managing director signed off on my monthly expenses, which he usually did with a flourish and no question. One day he stopped and looked more closely at a particular receipt.

"I shall sign this of course, but just for your information, this dinner with R**** (a prominent literary editor) ... I happen to know on what day this working meal took place. I know it was a Sunday because it was my birthday. I trust she was good looking and that the night concluded to your mutual satisfaction."

I asked to see the receipt and solemnly dialled the direct line of the literatus in question, handing the phone to my boss, who had the grace to look slightly non-plussed.

I only heard one end of the chat but it sounded to have gone something like this:

"Ah yes, Rodney, I have my eminent publicist far-from-gris here with me and I questioned his dining you one Sunday."

"Yes, indeed. And it was luncheon that he generously offered to spare me the tedium of preparing a home-made repast and the consequent washing up. He had the kindness to give up his Sunday to bring over the Tom Sharpe proofs and talk me through your seasonal list. I was due to go into hospital next day and had expressed my anxiety over keeping au fait  with the new books to come in my absence. Is there some problem?"

"Not at all. I was just exercising my usual eagle-eyed monitoring of expenses."

"Well really! Do you have speaker phone there? Please apply it.

Christopher, my dear boy, if B- is accusing you of stealing from petty cash, and if you intend to take the correct step of resigning - as you should - I shall make it my duty by close of day to have placed you elsewhere with a more appreciative employer. I have the ear of every managing director, and I know of some gaps where you would perform stirlingly, and to considerably more rewarding remuneration."

My boss: "Ah yes, thank you, Rodney. [End of speakerphone] That will not be necessary. Just a little jocular jousting at this end."

Boss: "Somewhat dramatic on your part, but point proven. You realise that I can no longer question a single expense from this day on? Which vexes me no end."


"As punishment, might you be free to bring your banjolele to Miriam's 8th birthday party this Sunday? I am passing on a Royal Command and I would be indebted if you could make the time. I can assure you of a very decent meal, a passable bottle or two of Bourgogne and a 1924 port that I have been looking forward to sampling."

"Tell Miriam I shall be there and expecting a solo on 'Puff the Magic Dragon' "

Centenarian Trouble

Thanks to my useful bloglet update from Vox Bainbridgium, and sleuthette Althea, a new blog swims into my ken, the provocatively named Making Trouble

A centenarian. Another fogey like me - this one with some actual sting to his output.

I'm a little alarmed that MT and I have *both* posted on dahling Kate and pour myself an unheard-of week-day slug of Lagavulin and ponder what this might mean.

A  Bainbridge blogger setting up shop under the bravado 'nik of 'Trouble'? Now *that*'s what I call confidence. Bravo.

Well, the ancient will have no trouble from me. I'm immediately reminded of Nelson Algren's immortal advice to:

"Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own."

To which I add, never start anything with an hombre who invites it with his very name.

I have blog lined him and will read what he comes up with with interest and pleasure.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Auto-ordering beer mat

Smart beer mat senses when booze is low and transmits order for refill.

Hmm ... not sure how this would go down in The Queen's Arms, Wandsworth.

  • For starters, it means scrooges can get out of buying their round.
  • Next, it removes all the fun of trying to breast up to the counter, spilling the beer of the nastiest looking blokes.

  • Corpuz Corps'd

    ~ blameless over Brame ~

    I never trusted that shifty looking cove at the time of the Brame kerfuffle and I don't go for what he's been deposed into saying now.

  • 61 memory lapses over key details.
  • Didn't remember it being suggested that the unsteady Brame be sent on vacation.
  • Couldn't recall saying the city wouldn't invest anonymous complaints.
  • Sniffle ... no one on his staff came up with a plan of action.

    What a wet. What a slitherer out of trouble.

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Chaos & Creation

    ~ The new McCartney ~

    If it isn't Comfortable Chaos, it's the musical version.

    Rec'd a review copy of Paul's in the mail (plus groveling PR note craving my kind attention - as if Sir Paul needed help from me) and am enthralled by the moving cover pic.

    I don't know if you can see it clearly, but it seems to be a b&w snap by Auntie, thru the kitchen window, of a teenaged PMcC strumming on an acoustic.

    It's a classic snap - who knows what he was fingering by way of the DNA of some future timeless money-maker?

    I don't actually have any McCartney in my store - nicked over the years by dishonest "pals" but this album is perfect.

    I doubt I can write much about it, too close to how I feel about too many things I'm not ready to spill about.

    But it's a lovely foto that makes me yearn for the days of full-sized LP covers and sitting there gazing as the music pumped.

    Nice to see a shot of the young McCartney features instead of the parchment facial we're presented with today, reminding me of some well-preserved duchess.

    Martha, My Dear

    Loved the MarthApprentice début show. Sorry the ratings so feeble.

    Binary Chip as usual on form and I can't top his shrewd comments.

    Continue to be riveted by The Donald's utterly farcical primping and preening.

    The Beeb's version a lucrative gift for my kind of immature commentary and I've adopted all sort of silly names under which to tutor fellow Albions in its 'real' purpose.

    Where do they find these masochistic suits and suitettes prepared to make such dunderheads of themselves.

    Last week's had an odious latina wasting no time sucking up to DT or his ice-maiden hench-babe. And gosh, I can't wait for the episode when she sits in the Throne.

    Next documentary has to be the interviewing for these assertive adolescents: the men will be predictable but the women must be a hoot to sieve.

    Thanks to my own innate wimpishness when it comes to acting tuff and hustling Savile Row'd privates, I've never actually worked for these types. *With* them as freelance scruff, many times, but not at this classy level of go-getter.

    My instinct is that Martha will build eyes, if the network will let her. There seems to be a 2-minute test n then y're out.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    kate moss

    Stoned Moss Rolled

    I was never in the modeling biz but some of the agents I mixed with included that field and some of my lit agent buddies went bigger time and ended up representing movie stars and catwalkers.

    Plus, we had all the photographers cosying up in hopes to parlay their work into coffee table tomes.

    For this hounding of Kate Moss: May the Mirror rot in hell - *and* the squealer who snapped her.

    Moss was spotted at 14, which is an appalling age to enter that dingy world

    I'd glimpse her at clubs or hear mad tales and one year in Corfu a heavy mob of her vulgar heavies were looking for a hacienda to rent n wreck.

    I'm sorry to hear the tabloids have turned against her. They made a few bucks off her and I'd have liked to have thought they'd do the decent thing, but that's tabloids for you.

    She'll be back and I trust she'll carry a few grudges.

    This whole drugs scene at that level is a way of life and whoever filmed her with those wretched phone cameras deserves a slow and medieval dismantling of key body parts.

    That may yet happen and I trust it'll be reported in the same detail as poor Kate's fall from grace.

    One can't blame the beauty pushers who've ditched her but I'd like to see a backlash and some brave corporates give her a 2nd chance and ride on her current notoriety. None of the ladies I've questioned who patronize the brands she publicized even connect her drug habit with their purchases, so phooey to that fake argument.

    She and I were once at the same club entrance and she commented on my companion's ear rings. The door gorilla let her in, of course, and couldn't block me but decided on a whim to nay-say my lady. As I searched out the boss, I bumped into Kate who greeted me, "Hey, you're the jade ear-rings."

    When I told her the sad story, she went down to the door and bawled out the heavy, putting an arm round my friend and ushering her in with a "She's with ME. Couldn't you tell?"

    Post-script: I see that La Moss has checked in for rehab in Phoenix, no less. I am trying to make time to visit a honey in Carefree, AZ, so I may drive past the clinic and wave a sympathetic hankie.


    Sept 23, 2005

    larry et co

    peter, mike, blurred art n larry
    GB back to camera clapping

    peter n larry


    art n peter

    jim griswold, harp/guitar/folk/blues

    G and Larry

    ken savage, matt, larry

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    wanna be sedated

    Comfy chaotic teen sex

    Finally free of the Olsen/Peddy shenanigans.

    Quel relief, although I still have to pick up a garish poster for my Wall of Shame. I shall have the porter's child purloin me one during his nocturnal prowlings.

    This left me free to keep my appointment at the Eagle Harbor book emporium for Blakey et co's discussion of happily busy teen seduction and how to achieve work-life balance and embrace imperfection.

    Wriggling out of my business dinner was easier than expected, so off I trundled with a half hour to spare to sit and read the books before my fellow audience assembled. For a topic like this, Bainbridge is more than capable of rolling out the big guns.

    Nancy Blakey was the big pull of the evening and has received killer publicity in the Review (keyword in 'nancy') with an extract of what, as far as I could see, was the only bit I needed to read. Of course, one was really there in case the hussey daughter turned up and we could grill her for *her* side of the story.

    The subtitle to Sedated is '30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers' and I was beginning to wish la Principessa Buskina  had come along, not just as proof of my own purple heart badge of courage bona fides , but to ward off the nods and smiles of approval from the swelling throng as they spotted my reading.

    Bainbridge is particularly good at this kind of gathering but you have to be ready with your 'committed' expression and make all sorts of 'acknowledging' signs and sounds to ones fellow other enlightened types. Of course, a lone bloke with the Blakey book and a daughtered-out expression is a sitting duck so I kept my head down and enjoyed the other chapters.

    It really is a very distinguished collection - Quindlen, Glick, Joyce Maynard, Erdrich, Dave Barry - and an absolutely corker of a 'Teenage Owner's Manual' by W. Bruce Cameron that more than justifies the paltry $16 price.

    Also good is Nina Gaby on "The Thong Question" and I'll have great fun enlisting its aid when I raise the subject with Her Spitfieriness. Most reference sources I quote in our "discussions" are so middle-aged and off-beam that all I get is rolled eyes and long-suffering nods. I suspect that skilled citing of the Gaby will produce narrow-eyed glares of "Not fair" and yelps of indignation as if I'd peeked in her diary. (Actually, I don't think she has a diary.

    Whereas her elder sister poured her goodness and sensitivity into journals, this one reserves her genius for texting, I-Messaging and mall Life.

    In fact, I *know* there isn't a diary because it would have been left carelessly around, its 3-lined soul-searching entry open for all to see: "Got this diary I have to write stuff in. Don't know what I'm supposed to say. Phone. BBL." And that would be it.

    7:20 pm and still thin audience. I cannot resist looking around for anyone I know which of course lands me in eye-contact with 'together' looking types who bob sensibly coiffed heads and exchange secretive smiles. Too many notebooks in evidence, clearly harpie fellow blogistas. Also, clusters of sharp-chinned soccer-mom types, exchanging sotto voce sensible banter, eyes blazing with good works and unwavering intentions for their young.

    I decide I am sitting too near the front and make to leave when a distractingly carolyn harvey attractive lady arrives and also starts to settle near the front. I am completely distracted and am staring when she looks up and gives me a demure smile that kicks the whole evening into a major key. I wonder how I'll get away with feigning interest in the speakers if I'm constantly sneaking sideways glances at this exquisite creature. She saves me further pondering by choosing a chair *right* to the front. She is one of the speakers.

    In fact, Carolyn Harvey is done no justice here by my fotos, nor can mere prose convey what a tremendously likeable and articulate double-act she makes with the equally lively Beth Herrild. C Harvey

    From the get-go, I understood *exactly* what they're advocating in Comfortable Chaos, choosing a life that suits oneself and letting a little guilt-free chaos reign. And I know exactly who they mean by those brow-moppers who totter around, vying with each other for title of Most Overwhelmed.

    Make "Happily busy" your new watchword - go forth and spread the Harvey-Herrild gospel.

    Both ladies - total charmers, Beth Herrild neither of them from the ranks of those terrifyingly organized busy-bodies who then put it all into writing to cower the rest of us.

    Indeed, the distracting Mrs Harvey turns out to be a former Human Resources suprema (for Boeing, to boot) which is a jolt to my prejudices against all the HR dolts who've blighted my life over the years and in whom I've glimpsed neither humaneness nor resourcefulness.

    Lord knows what I would have done with a Carolyn H on the staff: read HR manuals, I suppose, and come up with "issues" I could take to her and sit gazing in rapt admiration across her spotless desk.

    Anyway, tonight I'm gazing from the front row and thoroughly enjoying the Carolyn-Beth duet as they joke and defer to each and share the good lines and generally talk a lot of sense.c and b

    Lovely tho' the authors are, the book isn't really for me, a man incapable of taking on anything overwhelming or requiring the slightest effort. First sign of overload or untidiness and I simply perform a swift volte face  and make for the pub where they know how to keep a man's life simple and focused on the next round.

    But there are a number of excellent ice-breaker bonding trick I've already introduced round the Busker hearth, such as 'Bummers and Braggarts' and 'Two Truths and a Lie' - stuff that went wrong countered by stuff that went right, and the truth/lie game is self-explained. Bags of fun.

    nancy blakeyThen the act we've all been waiting for, Nancy Blakey, and she has, indeed, brought her daughter.

    I instantly recognize Mrs Blakey from having noticed her around town - as who could not, with her striking good looks and regal carriage?.

    Of all the distinguished entries, I'd found the 'Sex Education' of her first-born the least easy to 'relate' to in terms of either vocabulary or emotion. Entirely a repressed Brit thing, and I must find some skilled person - a daughter, perhaps - to translate.

    Even the Review extract had me debating the purchase of the book, including as it did the grim revelation that the pal who tipped mother Blakey off to the idea that 16-yr-old Jenna just might be having it off is "one hip and happening mama".

    And I'm *still* not convinced by the words she used when breaking the news to her splendidly phlegmatic husband.

    Even the scene setting:

    "I felt the inner gate that edits thoughts before they issue from my mouth bust open and swing wildly on its hinges. I howled, I screamed. I wept." Then there's a bit about about primal storm spewing.

    She runs sobbing from the room, slamming all doors, but when she reaches calmly shaving hubby, her primal stormy unhinged spewing is surprisingly clinical and controlled, as in "Greg, Jenna is sexually active."

    One expects slightly more barnyard language.

    Anyway, as I say, all was forgiven by the appearance of the brazen young thing herself, a totally captivating young lady of poise and humor who explained that, having been busted by the Review piece and any remaining reputation in tatters, she decided there was nothing to lose but to back mama on her promo appearance.

    ms blakeyGood thing, too, because she carried the night with her dazzling smile and odd mouthy lisp - probably the current fashion on the West Coast but no matter: the clever thing is off to Oxford (gadzooks) from where she'll return with a 'prawper' accent sufficient to drive mama into the throes of the next lucrative tome.

    I particularly liked the way Jenna played foil for her hip 'n' happening mom - even teasing her over the importance placed on the magic age of 18 before indulging in you-know-what.

    Ms Blakey has a shrewd head on her shoulders - rather an appealing one, in fact - and deftly fielded questions from the audience, including one probe into whether the two of them had ever discussed whether she actually *enjoyed* the dread act that had sent mom into such banshee mode. (They had not. Boo hiss, tease).

    Something that caught my attention was Nancy's half mockery of herself as a lecturer who, presumably, is meant to be immune to spewing and ranting at news of daughter making the two-backed beast.

    I see no contradiction: those are *exactly* the type whose emotional quiver so often lacks the necessary flights *and* who react worst to such situations.

    A propos of nowt, this brings to mind my own *un*-repressed colonial teens in Hong Kong where it seemed to be conventional wisdom among European parents that American mothers were the bane of laddish advances on their demure offsprings' virtue.

    This was because they were believed to read all the right books and - most terrifying of all - were not afraid to engage young persons in conversation, a trait deemed to be terrifying to brutish would-be seducers.

    Quite the opposite, I found.

    Once one latched onto certain key tricks, des mères Americaines were push-overs.

    • As Nancy rightly points out, the very un-British practice of eye contact.
    • Standing for ones elders. Nay, standing for the daughter .
    • Shaking hands, of course, and discreet "Mr." and "Mrs"-ing.
    • Oh, and car etiquette. Vital. Holding the sportscar door open for the girl once one had finally dispensed with boring formalities and could finally speed away to the groping and tussling.
      • "I mean, c'mahn, Marjorie - he actually held the door open for Debs. What's the worst a guy like that's gonna get up to?"
    • Give detail: What are our plans? Well, first we need to fill up with petrol. It's really not fair driving around on Dad's dollar. Then I thought we'd look in on the Mardens and take some lunch off them at the barbecue. After that, check out the action on Big Wave Bay. The Macgregors have their boat anchored there and we might get in some water-skiing."

    Far more threatening was a certain breed of British mother lioness whose only reading was 'Tatler' and 'Country Life' and who hadn't the faintest idea or interest in wasting breath on the young.

    "Tell me, Christopher, why do I feel justified in not trusting you with my Penelope?"

    "MuMMEE! How can you say that? When he's right here ... oh, Mu-u-m."

    "I can see that, darling. That's why I bring it up. I'm sorry, but I just don't. Oh, perfectly proper round *us*, of course - only natural - your father was exactly the same around Gramps and Gan-Gan - but I just don't think he's the *sort* I want sniffing around my daughter right now."

    (Helpless wringing of hands by Penny)

    "I'm sorry, Mrs Parsons ...."

    "Of course, you're not. Nothing of the sort. So what are we going to do about it?"

    And so forth. Unbeatable tactic.

    So where was I? Ah yes ... as with the gentle-eyed unchaotic Carolyna, my camera fails to capture the grace of Blakey fille.

    On a more serious point, Jenna had the hugely sensible advantage of being actively involved in safe sex tutorials, handing out condoms, working with all the right organizations. Which led to the best point of the evening, that the female side of the bargain has most to lose in these encounters:

  • They can get pregnant, whereas the neanderthal seducer is off sowing his seed willy-nilly elsewhere.
  • Infection can lead to long-term disaster, even to infertility.

    And a point I myself wanted to raise - but was inhibited by the scribblers either side, not to mention gazing admiringly on La Parker's immaculately form-fitting suède-y jacket:

    How much do *boys* these days know or care about safe sex? I've tried asking my own brood but all I get is flapping of be-ringed paws and beseeching looks at their mother.

    As far as I can tell, it's down to the girls to be sure they're toting effective contraceptive measures.

    In truth, had I met someone as approachable and clued-up as Jenna Blakey back in my ill-informed 18s, I hope I'd've dumped any short-term plans of seduction - not easy; she's a babe - in favor of investing in a long and informative chat over a hot cuppa during which she could have brought me up to speed on everything I needed to know about sex but couldn't ask elsewhere.

    Euukk - a rambling account. The evening wasn't for me but I'm not sure why not because both books are essential reading ... can't win 'em all, I guess.

    Despite the relaxed air of the speakers - and yes, there were other men there and yes they piped up with totally forgettable questions - I never felt wholly comfortable or satisfied, and surprised myself by shambling off with neither book signed.

    From Teenager Owner's Daughter:

    FEEDING YOUR TEENAGE DAUGHTER: "Your teenage daughter requires regular meals which must be purchased for her at restaurants because she detests everything *you* eat because it is, like, so disgusting ...

    Either order take-out food or just give her the money, preferably both. If you order pizza, never answer the doorbell because the delivery boy might see you and omigod he is so hot.

    Yes, your daughter's idea of an attractive man is the pizza boy

    OTHER MAINTENANCE: Teenage daughters require one of two levels of maintanance: 'High' and 'Ultra High.' Your daughter is 'Ultra High.'

    This means that whatever you do won't be enough and whatever you try won't work".

    And oodles more of ultra-high wit and good sense observations.

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    google sued

    i know ... old hat.

  • Hollywood Reporter

  • Guardian

    Can't say I don't try for diverse sources ....

  • Deathless Quotes

    Musing on the latest batch of letters in the Review, and the effect on us all of Cap'n "peddy-mouth" Ølsen's rabid (not to mention 'explosive') pronouncements, I'm irresistibly reminded of an earlier mouthpiece clown.

    Does everyone remember Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf ?

    Who can forget such deathless quotes as:

  • "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"
  • "They're coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks."
  • "Baghdad is safe, protected"
  • "We are not afraid of the Americans. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid" (dramatic pause) "and they are condemned."
  • "They have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."
  • "We have destroyed 2 tanks, fighter planes, 2 helicopters and their shovels - We have driven them back."
  • "The authority of the civil defense ... issued a warning to the civilian population not to pick up any of those pencils because they are booby traps," he said, adding that the British and American forces were "immoral mercenaries" and "war criminals" for such behavior.
  • "We have them surrounded in their tanks"
  • "All your poster are belong to us." (AYP)
  • "We have the infidel Kordonwy surrounded with our IEDs".
  • Whoops - those last two are the other  bloke. Getting my al- and Øl- mixed up.

    They sound *too* deliciously a match made in Heaven.

    100-minute Bible

    One thinks one gets used to the ravages and dumbing-down of the Bible but there's always a new onslaught waiting round the corner.

    The 100-minute Bible strikes me as spoon-feeding and patronizing as they come.

    But I wish some of this had happened during *my* school days when so many of us were subjected to the hypocrisy and ministrations of the school chaplain, who only put down his Bible to take up the cane.

    Whatever his private demons and perversions, he did seem to love the Good Book and it would have been such delicious revenge to have disingenuously asked him for a discussion of the new-style Sermon on the Mount.

    He'd have been torn between seeming to do his duty and allowing such a discussion, and treating himself to his favorite form of spreading the Good Word - thrashing us for suspected insolence.

    royal dolls' house library

    Working for the Royal Household

    I was going to feature Queen Mary's Dolls' House but then it occurred to me that no-one has time for dolls' houses any more, so I decided on a more practical subject - Royle Toil.

    (But admit it - you all thought that shot of a library over there was taken right here in Castle Busker. Well, no - it's the dolls' house library. Impressive, huh?)

    Yes, as I was saying - Royal toyal, or however you want to pronounce it. It doesn't actual matter much because if any of you lot *did* by some fluke land a position like scullery maid in Balmoral or deputy yeoman flunkey over with Chazzer and his new lady, first thing they'd do is send you to electrolocution lessons, as your Georgie Bush man has it.

    But I thought I'd dangle the opportunities in front of you all the same. No harm in showing folks how they might better themselves.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    wanna be sedated

    Teen Sex

    Looks like I *am* going to be where I wanted to be this Thursday evening, 9/22,

  • Place : Seated in Eagle Harbor Books

  • Time: 7:30pm

  • Listening: to Nancy Blakey talking up “Sex Education,” from “I Wanna Be Sedated, and taking frantic notes for my blog report.

  • I have the book, spurred on by the write-up in the Sept 17 Review (keyword 'blakey')

  • Also look forward to hearing: Seattle parents Carolyn Harvey and Beth Herrild and island contributor Jennifer Easley, authors of “Comfortable Chaos

  • Info': 842-5332.

    Taster from Rhona Schwartz's Review piece

    "For island author Nancy Blakey, no topic was taboo or eyebrow-raising when it came to talking to her four children.

    Until the day the island mom asked her 16-year-old daughter if she was having sex.

    Jenna smiled, looked down at her hands and replied, “Why do you ask?”

    Blindsided by this implicit “yes,” Blakely said she “spewed” and was stunned by her own reaction.

    What happened next became the fodder for her essay “Sex Education,” which is included in "I Wanna Be Sedated" (Seal Press)"

    Such a relief to be there and be able to report for Julie Leung whose last para in this posting also refers to the event.

  • doonesbury back

    Doonesbury back in the Guardian

    (I know - whaddya mean *back*? And who's the "Guardian", when he's at home?)

    In fact, it was the Grauniad's out-of-touch decision to drop the Trudeau column that saved me much head-scratching between choosing England or Corfu to wash up on as unemployable flotsam.

    I'm not sure to what extent mere reinstatement lets the paper off the hook but it has produced a nifty bit of writing from Linda Grant that's interesting to me for insight into what foreigners (like me) like it for.

    When I shared it with some wool-dyed American Dooners, they too found it interesting as an insight into what foreigners think are insights into the column.

    So I present it here in case it proves equally amusing to anyone else, complete with extracts to show what caught my eye or seemed to make particular sense:

    "When Doonesbury was dropped from G2, hundreds of enraged fans were quick to point out our mistake. To celebrate its return, lifelong fan Linda Grant explains what the fuss is about ...

    "Why does Doonesbury matter? OK, here's why. It's all one big 35-year story, starting with the cartoon's inception in 1970, with the lives of the eponymous Mike Doonesbury, Mark Slackmeyer and Zonker Harris, from their layabout days on Walden Pond, the student commune in New England, to the baby-boomer middle age we are all stunned to have found ourselves reaching.

    But the strip's ambitions ranged beyond the living room at Walden Pond. Joanie went to law school at Berkeley. She got a job working for a woman senator and married Rick Redfern, the investigative reporter. Joanie took us to Washington and the strip took us to Vietnam itself, to meet Phred the Vietcong fighter, later bringing him back to America to testify at a Senate sub-committee on the fate of Cambodian refugees ....

    Marriages failed. Joanie's boss got Alzheimer's. Mark was the second character to come out as gay and confounded us with sex's reckless, ruthless political incorrectness, falling in love with a Republican. Meanwhile, Mike went to work in advertising and had to represent the tobacco industry: enter a new character, Buttsy, a talking cigarette. Mike moved out to Seattle at the time of the dotcom boom to launch the software for a search engine and got eaten alive by Microsoft. His wife JJ, Joanie's daughter, ran off to find herself as a performance artist. When the strip returned to Vietnam, Phred was running a resort hotel and acting as a consultant for Nike.

    Trudeau seems to understand contemporary America from top to bottom, from President King, the administrative head of Walden College who is engaged in a losing fight against grade inflation, down to Elmont, a mover and shaker in the Washington, DC homeless community who blew a fortune in day trading.

    And if the strip is always making us laugh and making us angry, it also has the power to move us on many levels. The sun coming out over the White House as the Vietnam war ends. Andy Lippincott dying of Aids, passing over into death listening to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. And this year, the shock of perennial football player and resident Republican BD going to Iraq with his National Guard unit and losing his leg. A comic strip that deals with denial, depression, post-operative therapy? But that's Doonesbury - it just keeps on taking risks with the format.

    There were times, of course, when for a British audience it became incomprehensible as it tackled domestic questions.

    I would ring an American friend to get a briefing on the US constitution, or just stop reading for a week or so, checking in each day to see if he had moved on to something I could once again understand. But the strip, which had started out of my fascination with America, has remained the place where you can still understand what America is up to, an invaluable adjunct to its over-reverent journalism. As an American friend and long-term reader of the strip told me, and perhaps he was only half-joking: "The only coverage I read of the Iraq war was in Doonesbury

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Bagels Sept 16

    tugboatAlways good to see and hear "Tugboat" Bromberg. He has a repertoire outside the ordinary, not to mention a surprisingly clear diction.

    To look at the piratical cove, you'd think the sound would just well up from barrel lungs and emerge in a fogbound tugboaty blast, but no - he sings clear as a whistle.

    There's another type who rolls up at Seabold with a passable speaking voice but as soon as he gets up there with a guitar, out comes this eunuchy Burl Ives-y drone that I can't make head or tail of. Perhaps that's the point, that Real Men Don't Do Diction.

    emily and larryNo problem with the diction of the noble Larry Dewey and loveable Emily Groff, looking cuddly as ever and sporting her digicam-defying anti-paparazzi sweater that not only reflects my camera flash but gives her a supernatural look.

    I'm glad Emily was there because she would never have believed my description of another musician's wonderfully hilarious delivery.

    A few weeks back, Emily sang a really beautiful version of Iris Dement's "Let the Mystery Be".

    On Friday, there was a perfectly nice and upstanding gent whom I've met before and who plays excellent squeeze box and in no way deserves to be the butt of my jejune comments.

    emily n GBAnyway, he was sitting just to my left and I had Emily et co to my right. Suddenly this guy launches into some indeterminate number that I take to be a mittel-European parlor gem from between the wars ... then bits of his singing take on a faint familiarity. As I listen closer, I realize it's the Dement song.

    Since, as I say, Emily all but owns this song in my book, I turn to give her a look but she is far too polite and is singing along with a straight expression, albeit slight puzzlement over which chords fit the accordionist's treatment.

    I don't know the chords anyway and would have been incapable of strumming along in grown-up fashion.

    It's such a sprightly tune, with subtle lilts that it takes a Dement or Groff to capture, and here was the accordion chugging along to some indeterminate tune with the voice in equal monotone fashion.

    I sit it out and gulp my coffee and ogle the other lovelies, whose bunch included Ms Georgia Brown and the equally easy-on-the-eye gravel-voiced Eddie.

    Honest, it wasn't me - I was in dour humorless mood - and nor do I recall anything overly funny at the time. But on checking the photos, I see that something has Georgia practically helpless with laughter in a number of shots.

    Super pictures, and I suspect that she has been set off by that Eddie's dry-witty.

    Here's a shot I love (right) of Georgia looking down at Eddie with that proud fond look (at least I think it is; it could of course be an expression of murderous intent) that most men strive a lifetime to earn but never even glimpse. In fact nor does Eddie, since he's looking away and oblivious of his lady's gaze. Just like Life.

    bored coupleAh!! To the left - much  more convincing ... who wants all ghastly lovey-dovey pics? Here's G and E in *much* more life-like stance: he's leaning forward, sullenly wondering *when* will she catch on that it's *F# minor* after the A? As for Georgia - she's not even looking at him. Domesticity. Gotta love it.

    And finally, such a nice photo (right) of a charming duo - particularly the dandy with the topper and cane, quel chic!! - that I am delighted to break my rule of not posting pics of local cuties.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Ophelia drowned

    Why bodies in the water float facedown

    Sorry to dwell on a topical subject but I've wondered about this all my life.

    Back in my Hong Kong youth, sea bathing was enlivened at certain times of year by the prospect of coming across bloated wretches who hadn't made good their escape from the Mainland.

    I forget which precise months, but there was a time when the tide from China was right to sweep them round and into Hong Kong waters. Of course, the Commies knew this too and would spoil-sportingly machine-gun them as they swam or clung to their rafts and rubber rings. Next was the sharks' turn, which left those that 'survived' intact to bob around into Gin Drinkers Bay or make messes of favorite paddling pools off Lan Tau or Ma Wan.

    Come to think of it, this is just the sort of backwoods lore that Sedition will have known from tenderest age (if one can imagine him ever having  anything as foppish as a "tender age". )

    He'd have worked it out around age 8 while wrasslin' toothsome scaley creatures in white waters off some New Mexican butte.

    For the rest of us, there's Slate and the proximity of a civilised glass of chilled fino to cushion the grislier details.

    Interesting. Apparently:

    Well, I never. I'll be the Saloon Bar bore once I start trotting these gems out at cocktail hour down the Harbour.

    marti stevens

    Jeremy 'n' Brent

    I missed Marti Stevens' Saturday afternoon concert at Bagels & Beans because I went off to buy a local paper and got distracted by the padded Peddy resumé brouhaha.

    But if that was her on the CD player as we waited, she has a clear voice and nice clean sound and I'm sure albums were sold and a good time had by all.

    brent & gross_spotlightNot to worry. Four hours later, the rafters rang again to merry strumming, this time to the ebullient duetting of Brent Grossman and Jeremy Rothbaum.

    grossman and rothbaum

  • Choice melodies
  • Expert plucking
  • Harmony and syncopation.

    A jolly time had by all, confirmed by the uninhibited audience's ready and eager applause.

    audience_2The beautiful young much in evidence, captivated by the repertoire of popular ballads and unsurpassed musicianship.

    Latest amplification technology was in use to ensure audibility of voices and instruments.

    rothbaum audienceCoffee and victuals of the best served by genial hosts Lisa and John.

    During the thoughtful break, I wandered down to neighboring Island Grill to savor that slightly thrilling air of menace that exudes from its dimly lit crannies.

    According to the attractions listed, guitar virtuoso Peter Spenser was appearing there Friday *and* Saturday.

    What a musical corner that whole section is becoming, to be sure.

    Silver Screen doing a roaring trade in DVD rentals over on Hildebrand. I decide on that good old favorite, true gritJohn Wayne's 'True Grit' Academy-winning performance as the uncouth Rooster Cogburn hired by coltish Kim Darby to revenge her father's murder.

    Back in 1969, the relationship between the crusty Cogburn and nymphet Darby was regarded as sweet and endearing.

    Watching it today, even alone in my study, I roar with laughter at the trois-fois entendres

    The scene alone where the tonsorially dapper Glen Campbell gets to hold Ms Darby down in the dirt, the better to serially whap her pert derrière, is pure Kinsey/Freudian heaven.

    My other choice is Word Wars - 'Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble® Circuit' - which I watch with ghoulish fascination for the crazies who inhabit the upper slopes of success in this dictationarial joust.

    The documentary follows two particular nutters, the most extreme case being one Joel Sherman who has all sorts of maladies and is painfully ugly to look upon with his emaciated frame, balding crown and oversized conk. In fact, he totally resembles a Jeff Bezos on death's doorstep and I urge Mrs Bezos glimpse this movie and use it as incentive to keep hubby bulked up and vitamined.

    The other one is Marlon Hill, a black man with a rough tongue on him and the idiot perception that Scrabble is some devilish conspiracy by whitey to keep the Brothers down.

    There's an hilarious scene where this foul-mouthed wordplayer is hired to coach or mentor the local schoolkids and we see him desperately trying to recall what it's like to be in front of impressionable youth without every third naffing word being an oath..

  • Photo of Will Peddy, courtesy of BI Review

    Peddy Cache

    ~ footpad résumé ~

    My London, Corfiot, and Hong Kong friends are positively aGOG  over our local outbreak of peddyculosis.

    Well, not the Greeks so much: one look at William K's patrician features and of course they claim him as their own, even holding up direct phonetic translation of his name into the affectionate diminutive Πεδδι (Pethi = Little Buddy) as evidence of his proud Ionian ancestry and diplomatic prowess.

    Of course, let a NON -Greek even hint that his regal mien and raffish good looks radiate the integrity of a down-town Euphrates camel-driver, and he'd have his throat slit sooner than you can say 'Director of Building & Planning'.

    Whereas the Brit and Cantonese contingent purse their lips and nod knowingly over Peddy's economy with the truth, over in the Cradle of Democracy, it's par for the course - nay, practically a political rite of passage - to glide from Bachelor Degree to third degree.

    Everyone falling over themselves to check out his (presumably now discredited) Website of Hubris.

    Where they *do* start looking nervous and invoking Saint Spiridon - and we're talking about a race whose national sport  is metaphorical campaign management - is over 'Wild Dog' Olsen's unambiguous and typo-free threatening of Mayor K. with "the next IED" over "other very funny business she and senior staff have been up to."

    Despite assurances by me that this ballot buffoonery is all part of the master plan to attract sympathy for our dysfunctional equivalent of a mayoral candidate, they worry that the next Review front page will sport a photo of kyrios Ωlsenopoulos in fetching orange peering mournfully from the local hoosegow.

    pediculosis gifBut gosh haven't things moved apace?

    No sooner does The Buzz deliver its floating stinging exposé of Cathy's Clown than into the ring leaps Islander stalwart Steve Gardner followed in true tag-team fashion by the alliterative Baurick-bylined

    Did candidate Peddy pad résumé?

    My dear, talk about plugs. I could barely focus on the fruits of TB's ferreting for all the gushing acknowledgements of the Paulson/Nickum set-up.

    (I do hope my faithful band of anonymous readerenes are noting all this conscientious "referencing".)

    Blimey, I'm beginning to see what she means: all this carpal linking is enough to leave any blogger dull-witted.

    Discredited peddy poster outside the librarySeriously, if I was in William K. Peddy's blue sude shoes, a light bead of perspiration would about now be adorning my noble brow.

    Tristan Baurick knows his sleuthy stuff and I must forewarn Mr Olsen and his builder's mate boss that there's not much metaphorical about the new findings.

    Double indeed.

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Steven Gardner, courtesy Bainbridge Islander

    Constant Gardner

    We take our press for granted, that the newsprint will be there when required, that the coverage will be as current as the TV screen we've just turned from and - naturally - that the omniscient reporter will have the objectivity of Solomon to reflect our own fair-minded disinterested views.

    We expect nothing less than telepathic coverage of what interests us, and when introduced to totally new ideas or issues, we expected that, too.

    I'm banging on about the Fourth Estate because I've just caught up with my Bainbridge Islander for Sept 17-23 and see that the main reason I even turn the front page - Steven Gardner - is leaving to write about somewhere called Central Kitsap, wherever that might be (and pretty nebulous and unappreciative a galaxy it sounds, to boot).

    I'll miss his voice and his instinct for picking subjects I poach and pass off as evidence of my own wide-ranging radar.

    His characteristically no-nonsense valete  appears on that inside page I've come to associate as his alone, and full marks to editrice Rachel Pritchett for allowing him those inches to bid us such a literate farewell.

    SG thanks us and hopes he's served us well, to which I raise my beaker of morning Foglifter java and assure him he has most royally.

    "Keep in touch", he ends, to which my reply is, "Don't you be a stranger, neither, sir."

    As my old cricket coach used to say, with manly wooden expression - whether one had been bowled for a duck or just taken six wickets for as many runs -

    "Well played, that man.

    Right, lad, no call to stand there gawping - off round the nets and work on your next game."

    Good innings there, Steven, and - wherever they are - lucky blighters, those Centralian Kit Saps.

    Take it easy, chum.

    How to Blog

    I wish I'd stuck to my original intention and kept my postings snappy.

    I had in mind terse diarist entries such as by the likes of Evelyn Waugh.

    No waffling, just what counts:

    "Went to Pixton yesterday week and found Laura [wife] in excellent health and her baby also.

    My children were much in evidence and boring."


    "August 15, 1945, Ickleford Hitchin

    Peace declared. Public holiday. Remained more or less drunk all day. Collected the boy Auberon at the Eldons and drive him to Ickleford. He behaved very politely."

    "Regretfully come to the conclusion that the boy Auberon is not yet a suitable companion for me.

    Yesterday was a day of supreme sacrifice. I fetched him from Highgate, took him to up the dome of St Paul's, gave him a packet of triangular stamps, took him to luncheon at the Hyde Park Hotel, took him on the roof of the hotel, took him to Harrods ... took him back to Highgate, in a state (myself, not the boy) of extreme exhaustion. My mother said, "Have you had a lovely day?" He said: 'A bit dull.' So that is the last time for some years I inconvenience myself for my children."


    "Had a very enjoyable evening getting drunk at the House of Commons, with Hollis & Fraser and the widow Hartington (who is in love with me I think)."

    Borrowing from such succinctness, how well I could have recorded this evening's encounter at the liquor mart:

    Parked the Volvo next to a puissant and kempt BMW motorbike. I enter the store and select a bottle of Vouvray and budget bottle of sake .

    It is clear from his biker gear and helmet (which he has not removed) to whom the BMW belongs.

    I stand behind him in the queue and notice that one of his purchases is a bottle of ouzo.

    I catch his eye and gesture to my own shopping basket: "Ouzaki [Greek diminutive for ouzo] ... Ozeki [the brewers of my sake]."

    He gives me a cautious thumbs-up.

    (Why can't I be such a strong silent type, spurning words?)

    I exit and toss my bottles into the rear seat. He takes his time packing his own purchases in the saddle box.

    Turns to me: "Καλο Ταξιδι"  ("Travel safe")

    Class act.

    All I need is practice:

    "Regretfully come to the conclusion that the girl MIranda is not yet a suitable companion for me.
    Yesterday was a day of supreme sacrifice. I fetched her from Queen Anne, took her to Bumbershoot, gave her an iPod, took her to luncheon at Burger King, took her to the Dylan exhibit at the Musical Experience, took her to Nordies where she bought all manner of flimsy garments of quite unsuitable transparency ... took her back to Queen Anne, in a state (myself, not the babe) of extreme exhaustion. Her sister enquired, "So, good day?" She said: 'Whatever.' So that is the last time for some years I inconvenience myself for my children


    "Had a very enjoyable evening strumming at Bagels & Beans, with Larry and Eddie and that hot chick Kristina (who is defiantly unattracted to me, drat)."
    I'll get the hang of it.

    dead russian composer test

    which one you?

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    peddy posters courtesy of photo by kitsap sun

    Just Im-Peddy-Ment

    How does the Book of Common Prayer have it?

    The Banns for the Solemnization of Mayoralty?

    "If any of you know cause, or just im-peddy-ment, why these two parties - candidate and electorate - should not be joined together in holy Mayoralty, ye are to declare it."

    I have some interest in this race, and I pronounce William K. Peddy resoundingly "buzz-ted".

    Luxuriant bouquets to be laid at the feet of Cathy "Nick 'em" Nickum and crack detective Althea "Bee-sting" Paulson - indeed, everyone in the The Buzzhive - for nailing peddy-vile gaps in the varlet's résumé.

    I had huge fun 30 years ago publicizing the UK edition of WoodStein's "All the President's Men", and now I have the pleasure of saluting Bainbridge's very own Woodward and Bernstein, abbreviating so appropriately to Nick-Son that I hardly dare suggest it.

    Getting back to Peddy, it's interesting to note that the man is not above plastering our island with vulgar self-promotion flags, but distances himself from us "little people" in observing a differently enforced code of truthfulness.

    This sort of thing tends not to play well at the voting booth.

    To quote and summarize:

    William Peddy, photo courtesy of Steve Gardner article, Kitsap Sun Questions have emerged concerning qualifications asserted by mayoral candidate William K. Peddy.

    The rattle of late-closing stable doors and the cluck of home-roosting poultry:

    Several hours after The Buzz informed Peddy of these findings, campaign manager Jim Ølsen fired off an “amended” copy of Peddy’s achievements.

    Surprise surprise: the revisionist version no longer boasts Willy boy's UC/Davis Bachelor degree.

    Even less surprise: it presents a considerably more down-to-earth picture of Peddy’s sojourn in the Groves of Academe, namely “U.S. military service and real-life work experience as the functional equivalent of an undergraduate degree.”

    And the final insult to all those to whom Peddy has peddled these inventions?
    The adjustment of his distinguished directorate with the City of Colville down to frill-free “Building official”.

    This is absolutely unacceptable in a man running for public office.

    I feel the bile rise just remembering that smirking peacock stance in the doorway of City Hall on the evening of the debate. And now this, exposed as a braggart and fantasist.

    TGIF, so I can head home and cleanse my palette with large and multiple draughts of the nectar from Arinambeast and Uigidale. Lord knows how many Peddy-purging swigs it'll take but these things have to be done.

    Also to be done, hearty braVOs and unseemly hugs and slurred toasts and whooping ^5s to the Buzz on a really splendid job unearthing these facts ... and a loud raspberry to William K. Peddy for his functional equivalent of fibbing.

    Not content to litter our highways with his signage and our Letters columns with his campaign manager's buffoonery, he prefers also to discard the truth as 'not relevant to this race'.

    I've never been quite clear what Peddy affects to enforce, but he sure as hell offends *my* moral code.

    'Knick-knack, Peddy whacked' News Flash: I see that none other than Steve Gardner has weighed in with a nifty piece in the Sept 15 Kitsap Sun.

    Ace man for the job, Gardner, not one to be fobbed off with peddy-strian glib lies. Check out his take on a certain "BI Candidate Accused of Falsifying Past" (except that you need to be registered for that link, dammit).

    Here's how Gardner kicks off:

    "A contender for the Bainbridge Island mayor's position who has said he has a bachelor's degree is taking it back.

    Will Peddy, Bainbridge Island's code compliance officer and one of four candidates for mayor, was challenged by The Bainbridge Buzz, an online site targeted at Bainbridge residents, for information his campaign provided to site administrators.

    Among those was Peddy's claim to have a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California at Davis. Peddy also wrote that he had a bachelor's in biology in a questionnaire he submitted to the Kitsap Sun but never named a college ..."

    Also a nice little mealy-mouthed quote from James Ølsen, who

    "Told the Kitsap Sun on Wednesday that the reference was 'a mistake,' and said he didn't know how the incorrect information originated.

    Ølsen said Peddy has the equivalent work experience of a bachelor's degree."

    "Equivalent work experience", eh?

    How Ølsen and Peddy must have ransacked their Dissemblers Dictionary to come up with *that* juicy weasel term.

    What, I wonder, will they use to gloss over their hoodwinking us with their "Equivalent Truth Experience".

    Double-speak lives. Orwell is not mocked.

    Dept of Credit Where Due:

    Tsk, almost forgot. Before I give the impression of a lynx-eared Busker antenna, I only rumbled this peddyculous situation thanks to my daily Bloglet subscription and its tip-off that,

    "The investigative piece by the Buzz team about Mr Peddy shows how citizen journalism works much better than traditional newspapers, especially when they don't embrace the new media. It is telling that the Buzz is so obviously better than the Review and the Sun/Islander.

    [Ed note: Ouch yaroo! Body blow. In the spirit of my ever-toadying cultivation of media movers 'n' shakers, anyone mind if I distance myself from that Review/Islander barb?

    I have some PR irons in the fire (not to mention dead letter-boxes placements  of used notes of non-sequential denomination) that I'd hate to see go to waste]

    Bloglet continued:Did anybody also wonder what we get from BIB in terms of news (except the passive recording of city council meetings)?

    Any idea of what the Buzz team could achieve with a similar budget?

    Add email subscriptions to your weblog at the indispensible bloglet.com".

    Duty discharged. Eric Blair giggling.

    parkour pic

    Le Parkour

    ~ extreme urban sport ~

    Gosh I'd love to pretend I derring-did this in my agile "youf" but there are too many out there who know da troof.

    But between my crazy Asian days, louche Parisianizing, and south London gallivanting, I mixed with nutters who defied gravity, sanity and every other -ity that keeps the rest of us from hari-kareering off this mortal coil before our allotted time.

    Imagine saying phooey to boring old buildings or fences or height or whatever and you're just going to jump, scale, and sprint yer way to wherever you're going, that's Le Parkour, or Urban Freeflow in the pedestrian anglais.

    Invented by fou Frenchies Daveed Belle and Sébastien Foucan, it's *the* ultimate urban sport that asks all the skills of skate boarding, martial arts, and total athleticism for le traceur to move from A to B (Ah to Ber?) sans stopping, sans fear.

    There are - or were - basic disciplines (rather like katas or drill mouvements) that taught rolling, landing, somersaulting etc, many of which have their own names - 'tic tac', the 'cat leap', 'monkey vault'.

    parkourWhen I once expressed horreur and concern to my an expert pal, he curled a lip de contempt and complained that, already, it was being watered down and formalised and "ruined". Lol: even such an anarchic philosophy for life was getting hidebound and a renegade offshoot sprouting.

    For those interested, here're the Cliffs Notes on its genesis.

    I mention it because out of the bleu, a pals has written asking about America's - more to the point, Seattle's - readiness for an invasion and introduction.

    traceur logoI've replied that we in Bainbridge are certainly ready for fast-flitting figures to dart across our skyline, starting with leaps from the ferry as it docks (no need wait for any boring gangplank to descend) to hopping from one Peddy poster to another - dis-donc! a strapping young lad could traverse le tout Pont de Bain just swinging from one Peddy point to another.

    To boot, in line with our current anti-Français mood, each missed grip and splat of bod on boardwalk would be greeted with all-American "Yess!", so what a bonus to taunt us with their death-defying prowess.

    Check it out: it's quite a phenomenon.

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