Monday, March 03, 2014

I Love Panda Bears

If there is one thing in the world guaranteed to make me feel calm, and peaceful, and better, it is being in the presence of a panda bear. A Native American friend once told me that the panda is surely my spirit guide. Since it's hard to hang out with live pandas in Finchley, here are some alternatives that are quite helpful:

1. The San Diego Zoo PandaCam  LINK

ok there's an 8 hour time difference and sometimes the pandas are behind a tree or somewhere else, but so far it's the best way to get a live fix when necessary

There are also PandaCams in Edinburgh, Atlanta, & Memphis.

2. Cute videos, e.g.,

3.  Wildlife Documentaries
(this is a clip from the David Attenborough film where the panda does a handstand)

Perhaps one day I will experience a moment of joy as I hold a small panda in my arms, like the lucky lucky film-maker gets to at the end of this clip

Best Picture at the Oscars Last Night

Apparently a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with Ellen DeGeneres and the other movie stars sitting in the front two rows at the Oscars last night crashed Twitter because so many people connected to it.

IMHO, if a picture from the Oscars is going to go viral, I'd choose this one:  Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing a group shot of the band U2.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anelka is Banned

Nicolas Anelka has been found guilty of breaking Football Association rules by making a quenelle gesture to celebrate a goal he scored for his team. The FA writes:

"An Independent Regulatory Commision has found an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 against Nicolas Anelka proven and has issued a five-match suspension and a fine of 80,000 pounds, pending appeal.

The West Bromwich Albion player has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course."

A summary of the decision may be found here.

The Guardian notes that:

"the punishment was the most lenient that the FA could have imposed under their new anti-discrimination rules. However, the governing body reported that the three-man panel 'did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote antisemitism by his use of the quenelle.'"

A link to the whole article is here.

The BBC website report quoted the response of the President of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, who told them that he welcomed the decision to make Anelka undergo a compulsory education course:

"That's one of the most attractive parts. We want to educate people. Anelka said he didn't realise it was anti-Semitic, well that kind of ignorance is dangerous … the quenelle is something that few of us in the UK recognise. In France it's known as being a vicious anti-Semitic gesture."

That article may be found here.

The Telegraph reports that Anelka continues to deny the charges and has asked for an appeal. Their coverage includes a quote from Dieudonné, supporting his friend:

"Anelka is a descendant of slaves and if he wants to remark on this history he has the right to - and we are all very proud of him doing so."

The Telegraph link is here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Naughty Shirley Temple!

You may think that butter wouldn't melt in little miss Shirley Temple's mouth, but according to her obituary in the Times:

"In 1935 she was taken by her parents to Washington to meet President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The President invited the Temples to a barbecue at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York, where Eleanor, bending over a grill, proved too much of a temptation for the impish child star. Temple unleashed a pebble from the catapult she carried in her lace purse and hit the First Lady smartly on the rear."

I'm Not a Cartoonist But ...

What did I want to be when I grew up? Easy - a syndicated cartoonist. My hero was Charles M Schulz, and I covered my schoolbooks with Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I even created my own character, a round baby in a romper suit called Pomme de Terre.

So nu, what happened? I guess it depends how you look at things. On the one hand, I've always been pretty sure that I'm not much good at drawing. I consoled myself with the knowledge that SJ Perelman began as a cartoonist, and eventually the captions grew, the drawings dropped out, and he became a writer. On the other hand, I never did put in the time needed to create and develop Pomme's world.

These days I'm coming up to 18 years since rabbinic ordination. As you can see from the pic, cartoons are occasionally part of my work. And now that I've found Laydeez do Comics, it has crossed my mind that it may still be possible to try drawing some more ...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Blogger has this lovely page where one may see how many people have viewed one's posts and from which part of the world they have done this. I had a look at the breakdown today after a little surge in views, and saw that 52 people in Bulgaria have stopped by my blog in the last 24 hours. Or possibly one odd person 52 times. In any case, it made me think:  what do I know about Bulgaria?

The answer to this question is a bit embarrassing. Acknowledging that Geography has never been my strong suit (once I woke up in Geography class to find that the class had ended and I was alone in the room), all I could come up with was Sofia is the capital, people there shake their head for yes the way I shake my head for no, and Dimitar Berbatov.

I now feel the need to redress the balance a little. Here are ten things I just found out about Bulgaria:

1.  Bulgaria is Europe's 16th largest country by area (the UK is 11th & Belgium 34th out of 49)

2.  This is the Bulgarian coat of arms (I do love lions):

The motto says:  Saedinenieto pravi silata
(Unity is strength)

3.  the artist Christo is from Bulgaria. I enjoyed his Gates in Central Park a few years ago:

4.  The Bulgarian national airline is called Bulgaria Air.

5.  The Bulgarian monarchy was abolished in 1946.

6.  This is the flag of Bulgaria:

7.  Nestinarstvo, also known as Anastenaria, is an ancient Bulgarian fire ritual which involves dancing barefoot on smouldering embers.

8.  Bulgarian currency is the lev:

9.  According to the Divine Wiki, as of 2004 there were more than 10 million native speakers of Bulgarian in our world.

10. Rakia, popular across Southeastern Europe, is considered to be the national drink of Bulgaria:

I feel a bit better now. I hope you do also.

Приятен ден!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Who Was Tesi Balogun?

Walking by the Players' Entrance on South Africa Road this evening, I had a closer look at the design of the glass wall. It's the place where fans leave tributes to dead players, e.g., Alan McDonald & Kiyan Prince, and I've never looked at it closely before. The names of stars from QPR history are etched on the glass. As I read them, and remembered, I saw this name:  Tesi Balogun. I am quite proud of my knowledge of QPR history, and was feeling good that I knew about Evelyn Lintott, but this name was new to me. Another humbling moment :-)

Nobody I asked outside the stadium before the game had heard of him either. I was inside and heading for my seat before I thought of googling him, and there's no ****** reception inside the stadium. However, a chap in the row behind who first of all remembered as a child seeing Arthur Longbottom score from the halfway line then said, "O yes, I remember him. He always used to turn up with a bible in his hand, and leave with a girl in each arm!"

Now I am home and with the benefit of broadband have googled him:

From a site called Yoruba Nation, I quote:

"It is told in Nigeria folk lore that in a football match played in the 1960s, NEPA FC, Lagos needed a goal to win the Challenge Cup, and with time running out a fan shouted at Teslim Balogun - 'do not forget your left' and the rest as they say is history. The ball went through the midriffs of the goalkeeper and through the net and the moniker 'Thunder' was born. The nickname stuck with him because of his skills and lethal shots at goal."

It also says:

"He was one of the first Nigerian players to take his trade abroad. Teslim played professional football in England at Peterborough United, Holbeach United and Queens Park Rangers and was the Nigerian coach that led the national team to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. He also played for the national team for 17 years (1945-1962). After his playing career in 1962 (sic), he coached until he died on July 30, 1972."

There's a wikipedia entry for him here. I look forward to hearing what my friend Martin would like to add to this note.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anelka is Finally Charged for Quenelle

The Football Association has finally got its act together and charged the WBA footballer Nicolas Anelka for the quenelle gesture he made after scoring against West Ham United last December. They released this statement:

"The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013.

It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3[1].

It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3[2], in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.

Anelka has until 6 pm on 23 January 2014 to respond to the charge."

A full report on the current situation may be found in the Telegraph or on the BBC website. Of course the Daily Mail also has something to say.

Sky News notes that because of this incident, West Brom have lost their sponsors Zoopla, who were "founded by an American Jewish businessman".

The Board of Deputies of British Jews published a statement supporting the FA's action.

The Mail also focussed on early responses to the charge. It presents Anelka's link to a video of a French Jew supporting him, and quotes British Jews who feel strongly that he must be punished. Jonathan Arkush from the Board of Deputies notes that Anelka has not shown any signs of remorse or apologised to anyone. Of course Anelka is still insisting that his gesture was anti-establishment, not anti-semitic. Can he really be so immature? Or so stupid? Considering his celebrity status in France, and that he doesn't exactly live a counter-culture life, this seems utterly disingenuous.

That's just my opinion. Romelu Lukaku, a footballer under contract to the Stamford Bridge team but currently on loan to Everton, made this statement in an interview on Monday after his team had drawn against West Brom:

"He was my idol since I was a kid and he still is. He should never have been banned for that. He showed support for a stand-up comedian in France. We don't need to make such a big deal of it. He's an adult and I hope he isn't suspended because he's a player that people want to see play on the pitch."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Charlie is My Darling

Another Saturday afternoon, another QPR victory thanks to the goals of Mr Charlie Austin. I've had a go at him for a few months, frustrated by the amount of chances that he misses and that are not even on target. Yet here he is at the beginning of January with 14 goals already, and single-handedly winning games for us that we might otherwise have thrown away. I am now prepared to state publicly that I've fallen for his charms and have become a firm fan.

PS I do have some raw footage of the winning goal, but currently Blogger is not letting me upload it :-(