Saturday, March 31, 2007

albert and his car

there are many stories about albert and his car. perhaps it has to do with the fact that he learned to drive quite late in life. perhaps it has to do with the strawberry pink colour of the rabbi's car, or the fact that one could see the lines on the road through the rusted out bottom.

i am not so good about cars, but he told me it was a hudson nash rambler. my favourite story about this car was when he was a rabbi in wilkes-barre, pa. the synagogue was building a new building, and he packed the confirmation class into his car to drive them to the new site. he parked, got out, and began describing where all the new bits would be. when he turned around for a reaction, there were no students. there was also no car. he had not put on the handbrake and, since he had parked next to the hole dug for the foundations, the car had slid slowly to the bottom of that hole, with the students still inside. everyone was fine, but a crane had to pull the car out.

qpr 1 - 2 west brom

this is how i felt today for one blissful instantand that is what being a football fan is all about - the hope that your team will score a goal:
this afternoon i walked along south africa road, as the wind blew the blossom from the trees, and flattened the dying daffodils. the queue in the chippie was short, and i covered my portion with vinegar as i waited for tracy to turn up with my tickets.

it's a lovely day today, a bit windy, but sunny. it is a great contrast to the grey damp misery of yesterday. all is well as i sit in my seat and flinch at the green of the pitch. it is the 25th anniversary of the suicide of one our great players - dave clement. it so happens that his son is playing for west brom today. the announcer dedicates the match to clement, and then a record comes on the pa system and suddenly i am about 10 and singing along to the very sweet song that used to be the official club song - i sing "rangers, rangers, you are the best. rangers, rangers, you'll beat all the rest. rangers rangers everyone can see - you are the team for me!" i think i still have the 45 at home. today the teams runs out to the darth vader music from star wars.

we have to win - i told zeus about the lingerie and he said if we lose he is posting that on the qpr list. in the first half, we hold them off, and even have a few chances. for a team pushing for promotion, west brom don't look so much better than us. it is 0-0 at half-time, even though frange was sent off to buy the magic hot dog. i think the problem was that they did not ask me to bless it - last time i did and we scored immediately!

west brom take the lead, and we all slump. we figure that is it, but we are wrong. gareth ainsworth infuses the team with attacking energy. the manager brings on blackstock for nygaard and with his first touch, dex heads gazza's cross into the net. 1-1! we would settle for that, but the team does not and continues to surge forward. furlong falls in the area (noam said he dived) and we get a penalty. the guys in the seats in front of me cannot bear to look and turn their backs. furs looks so weary as he prepares to shoot. he taps the ball to his left and the keeper saves it easily. we knew it would be so, but will settle for the draw.

it is not to be. i watch numbly as the latest west brom sub wheels away in joy having scored the winner. i am not sad yet, although i am home now. is it shock, or resignation? i just keep thinking of that moment the ball went into the west brom net. i can see it bulging through the side netting towards me as i am suddenly in the dark shadow of thousands of fans leaping from their seats. i leap too, and scream, and do who knows what. it's brilliant. it is an instant of happiness. there is nothing like it. i'll be back on tuesday :-)

Friday, March 30, 2007

preparing for the first of the month

my father, z"l, had a strange ritual for the first day of each new month. he would creep into our room when it was still dark, tap us lightly on the shoulder and say "pinch, punch, first of the month, no return!" i was never able to wake up early enough to beat him to it, and was utterly frustrated since there was nobody else to whom i could pass it on because nobody at school had ever heard of it. i do miss him rather a lot.

meanwhile, saw this list of april fool's' pranks from the museum of hoaxes on yahoo today and thought some might amuse you:

-- In 1957, a BBC television show announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees prompted a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.

-- Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. In fact, they had to wait until 1970.

-- In 1977, British newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement for the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semicolon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands, named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse.

-- Burger King, another American fast-food chain, published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.

-- Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

thursday thirteen xiii

Thirteen Things I've Noticed About Being in London

1. the new £20 note.
2. the cafe in the crypt of st martin-in-the-fields is closed (the whole building is being refurbished) which is a pity as they do lovely veggie food.
3. the smell of the hyacinths in my mother's living room.
4. the new series of doctor who starts this weekend.
5. familiar bus routes have changed - got on a 452 yesterday thinking it was like a 52 and all of a sudden i was heading down sloane street instead of towards victoria!
6. twiggy is starring in commercials for marks & spencer
7. qpr are playing west brom on saturday (and i have a ticket!)
8. each morning when i wake up (and don't put on make-up) i can see hyde park through the window.
9. apparently all the smokers banned from the rest of the world's indoor spaces are now walking up and down oxford street.
10. you can view the cost of london underground fares in bengali, greek and urdu, but it still costs £4 ($8) for a one-way ticket.
11. patisserie valerie has become a chain.
12. hurrah. i am here while the london gay & lesbian film festival is taking place (and i've even seen some films).
13. it's raining.
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a sunny afternoon in london town

at the knightsbridge end of the fulham road, piglet surveys my favourite london edifice: the michelin building.
while the downstairs currently houses a restaurant or two and the conran shop, i have no idea how to access the upper floors (i'd really wanted to look out through the stained-glass windows).

piglet got quite into the bicycle motif :-)

jts to accept out g/l rabbinic students

found this on yahoo:

"The major seminary and flagship institution of Conservative Judaism said Monday it will start accepting openly gay and lesbian students, after scholars who interpret Jewish law for the movement voted to allow it.

Arnold Eisen, the incoming chancellor for the Jewish Theological Seminary, said the decision was made after extensive discussion with faculty and students, a survey on views of the issue within the movement and a meeting of the school's trustees.

"The larger issue has been how we can remain true to our tradition in general and to halakah (Jewish law) in particular while staying fully responsive to and immersed in our society and culture," Eisen said in a statement distributed to the school community and its supporters.

Earlier this month, a smaller Conservative seminary in Los Angeles, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, announced that it has accepted its first openly gay and lesbian applicants.

The Conservative branch holds the middle ground in American Judaism, adhering to tradition while allowing some change for modern circumstances.

The larger and more liberal Reform Jewish movement, as well as the smaller Reconstructionist wing, allow gays to become rabbis; the Orthodox branch bars gays and women from ordination.

In December, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards voted to allow the seminaries to decide on their own whether to admit openly gay students. However, their decision also left leeway for synagogues to reject gay and lesbian clergy if the congregations believe that same-sex relationships violate Scripture. (Rachel Zoll, AP)"

the new york times report


Friday, March 23, 2007

official: it was murder

unbelievable & scary as excrement - the jamaican police have now announced that bob woolmer was murdered. read about it in the times

on the itv news tonight there were hints of speculation that this murder had to do with corruption in cricket, in particular match-fixing, and that maybe mr. woolmer had something to do with that. the bbc website presents a statement from his family here

views from other newspapers

like i said previously, is the apocalypse on its way?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ukraine eurovision row

this is the 2007 ukrainian entry for the eurovision song contest in helsinki:

drag act verka serduchka (real name: Andriy Danylko) was voted for by television viewers and a jury in the studio. despite the previous success of israel's dana international, many ukrainians are worried that sending a drag queen to finland will damage the reputation of the country. o dear o dear o dear.

current online reports include:
ukraine news
kyiv weekly
wiki on serduchka
blog on contemporary ukrainian culture & music

the only reference to the row is currently a bbc video that my computer doesn't want to let me see. finally, a radio free europe analysis of eurovision itself.

gordon brown

for those of you outside the uk, who is gordon brown? he is currently the chancellor of the exchequer in the labour government, and expected to succeed tony blair as prime minister of the united kingdom in the near future. he is presenting the budget today, and is therefore under particular scrutiny.

is he really a "stalinist", as stated in the news yesterday? and what does that mean in any case?

if you look at the independent's comment, one might surmise that they are inferring totalitarian behaviour, and using (or, i think, misusing) the term stalinist to indicate the socialist bent of the chancellor. i don't think, however, that they are criticising him for being a socialist, since he is the #2 in the labour party :-) on the other hand, it is a much more evocative term than 'authoritarian', more evil than 'control freak'.

then again, as the independent notes:

"Lord Turnbull said yesterday he had been speaking off the record but in a BBC Radio 4 programme on the civil service under New Labour to be broadcast tomorrow, he says too much power has been developed at the centre of government."

thus, perhaps, the government is being criticised for the corruption of its socialist roots. that, however, is very old news, because this is, of course, new labour.

how much longer will i remain an anachronistic idealist who still hopes that one day we can find a way to make "from each according to her/his ability, to each according to his/her need" a viable social policy? *sigh*

woolmer latest

bit of a wobbly here - woolmer's death is now being treated as 'suspicious':

bbc sport

what does this mean? reuters reports the statement made by the jamaican police:

"Having met the pathologist, medical personnel and other investigators, there is now sufficient information to continue a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Woolmer which we are now treating as suspicious"

rumours now are going around that it may be murder. these are, however, just rumours. lawrence booth in yesterday's grauniad makes the case for stress:

"The suggestion that the stress of the job may have played a part in Woolmer's death has been supported by one of his predecessors as Pakistan coach, Richard Pybus. "I know it's the toughest job in cricket today," he said. "It's a very turbulent society and a very political environment to work in. Pakistan cricket seems to lurch from one drama to another and, as a coach, it takes a cumulative effect on you. Sometimes people can underestimate how great a toll that is. I know it took its toll on me as an individual, especially at the last World Cup.

"I think it's sad that Bob couldn't finish his work at the World Cup but all the stuff with that team wears you down.

"[Pakistan] have an amazing capacity to ambush themselves and never get into a space where it's simply plain sailing for a coach. You're always sitting there waiting for someone to lob a hand grenade and waiting for it to go off. You can never plan with such a team, because you don't even know what is happening tomorrow. I've always been sensitive to that, and I caught up with the side during their recent tour of South Africa and I could see that things were taking their toll on Bob then."

Woolmer was given an early taste of what to expect when fans back in Pakistan reacted to the team's 491-run defeat to Australia at Perth in December 2004 - his first Test in charge - by burning effigies of the new coach."

Monday, March 19, 2007

bob woolmer r.i.p.

(in his playing days)

unbelievably shocking - the pakistan coach, just a few hours after his team had been unexpectedly knocked out of the world cup, has died at the age of 58.

bob woolmer was a well-known cricketer when i first started getting into the sport, and current opinion is that while he was never world-class as a player, he became just about the best coach in the world today.

(doing what he loved best)

no reports yet as to what happened, although one piece i read mentioned that he was diabetic. therefore he could have had a heart attack, and the stress of what had just occurred on the cricket field could also have sent his blood sugar shooting up. he was found unconscious in his hotel room, and died at the hospital. it may not be cancer, but it bloody well sucks to have diabetes.

some current reports:

sporting life on yahoo
bbc sport online
the telegraph
ivo tennant in the times
the times obit
david hopps in the independent

a pleasure new to me

i knew the names from crosswords and quizzes but never knew more than that. how could this be?!
starting here, i am now trying to read with discipline, rather than consuming it like eating chocolate if i were no longer diabetic.

this is the first one i read and the one that won my heart:

archy interviews a pharaoh

By Don Marquis, in "archy and mehitabel," 1927

boss i went
and interviewed the mummy
of the egyptian pharaoh
in the metropolitan museum
as you bade me to do

what ho
my regal leatherface
says i

little scatter footed
says he

kingly has been
says i
what was your ambition
when you had any

and journalistic insect
says the royal crackling
in my tender prime
i was too dignified
to have anything as vulgar
as ambition
the ra ra boys
in the seti set
were too haughty
to be ambitious
we used to spend our time
feeding the ibises
and ordering
pyramids sent home to try on
but if i had my life
to live over again
i would give dignity
the regal razz
and hire myself out
to work in a brewery

old tan and tarry
says i
i detect in your speech
the overtones
of melancholy

yes i am sad
says the majestic mackerel
i am as sad
as the song
of a soudanese jackal
who is wailing for the blood red
moon he cannot reach and rip

on what are you brooding
with such a wistful
there in the silences
confide in me
my perial pretzel
says i

i brood on beer
my scampering whiffle snoot
on beer says he

my sympathies
are with your royal
dryness says i

my little pest
says he
you must be respectful
in the presence
of a mighty desolation
little archy
forty centuries of thirst
look down upon you

oh by isis
and by osiris
says the princely raisin
and by pish and phthush and phthah
by the sacred book perembru
and all the gods
that rule from the upper
cataract of the nile
to the delta of the duodenum
i am dry
i am as dry
as the next morning mouth
of a dissipated desert
as dry as the hoofs
of the camels of timbuctoo
little fussy face
i am as dry as the heart
of a sand storm
at high noon in hell
i have been lying here
and there
for four thousand years
with silicon in my esophagus
as gravel in my gizzard
of beer

divine drouth
says i
imperial fritter
continue to think
there is no law against
that in this country
old salt codfish
if you keep quiet about it
not yet

what country is this
asks the poor prune

my reverend juicelessness
this is a beerless country
says i

well well said the royal
my political opponents back home
always maintained
that i would wind up in hell
and it seems they had the right dope

and with these hopeless words
the unfortunate residuum
gave a great cough of despair
and turned to dust and debris
right in my face
it being the only time
i ever actually saw anybody
put the cough
into sarcophagus

dear boss as i scurry about
i hear of a great many
tragedies in our midsts
personally i yearn
for some dear friend to pass over
and leave to me
a boot legacy
yours for the second coming
of gambrinus


bloody brilliant!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

belated st patrick's day congratulations ... the irish cricket team, that not only won a match at the world cup, but also knocked pakistan out of the tournament at the preliminary stage. found these great shots of a catch online (if you know who took them, let me know so i may credit them)

leicester city 1 - 3 qpr !!!

thanks to justin brown's site for this pic

having behaved on friday night like the college student i am soon again to become, i have to admit that i slept right through all the football action yesterday morning. imagine my surprise to wake up and find out that we had thumped the foxes, and away noch!

not only that, but the man we have to thank is the one i have vilified for several weeks (along with almost everyone else except for tracy): marc nygaard.according to the rules of true fanship, for the next match i will have to wear lingerie, sleep late and leave my qpr shirt in the car. hmmmmm.

uuuuu rrrrr's

Friday, March 16, 2007

red nose day is ear

i have loved gary winston lineker since he was a spotty young thing at leicester city with his floppy hair and adorable nose. of course, when i say i love him, i mean in a rosie o'donnell loves tom cruise kind of way except without the celebrity dissing or scientology or kabbalah.

nu - send money!

and the answer is ...

yes, it is betty hutton.
you may know her best as the movie musical "annie" in "annie get your gun". she got the part after judy garland dropped out.

i don't have the link since i saved the obit to my desktop, but if you want to read the whole thing, it was published 14/3/07 in the movie section of the ny times. here are some snippets:

"Ms. Hutton, a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm, had the lead role in the 1950 film version of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” and a starring role in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 spectacular, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”"

"Ms. Hutton’s electric presence in films like “The Fleet’s In” and Preston Sturges’s “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” masked emotional problems rooted in a poverty-stricken childhood. As a young girl, she sang for coins on street corners and in speakeasies to help support her alcoholic mother, who had been abandoned by Ms. Hutton’s father."

[nb i was introduced to the preston sturges film by my mother for whom it is an all-time favourite]

"Ms. Hutton re-emerged in the 1970s, when reporters learned she was working as a cook and housekeeper in the rectory of a Roman Catholic church in Portsmouth, R.I. Before being rescued and rehabilitated by a priest, she said, she had become addicted to sleeping pills and alcohol and had lost what she estimated to be a $10 million fortune."

[this is the bit that i like the best:]
"In the early 1980s, Ms. Hutton, who had never gone beyond the ninth grade, enrolled at Salve Regina, a Catholic college for women in Newport, R.I. She earned a master’s degree in psychology; the college had decided that her life experience entitled her to a bachelor’s degree. By the late 1980s, she was teaching comedy and oral interpretation at Emerson College in Boston."

excellent :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

red nose day tomorrow

i wish i were home already to wear a big red nose and take part in all the fun. o well, we'll all have to make do with this little ad from youtube for the big one.

i hear that vicky pollard's twin sister kate moss pollard will be on the dvd, so i'm off to the virtual shop. ttfn.

who could this be?

a really interesting story - you'll laugh, you'll cry ...

you want a clue? o, alright: she died this week.

derby county 1 - 1 qpr

before this match, against the number two team in the league, we would have grabbed an away draw quite happily. however, after this early goal by rowly, we got 3 minutes away from actually winning, before they equalised. :-(

poor pawless panda

blogger hasn't been letting me put up pix for days. here is one of the injured panda i mentioned a while ago, you know, the one that they want to make bionic :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

thursday thirteen xii

Thirteen News Stories Not About Iraq

There is a world beyond the United States of America, but it is not often mentioned on the news. Here are some serious, and not so serious recent news items I noticed today:

1. There is no freedom without sacrifice
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition in Zimbabwe, speaks out against President Mugabe.
2. Ending the crisis in Darfur
We know there are problems in the Sudan, but how many of us could explain what they are? Here is a perspective from the UK mission to the United Nations.
3. The Lebensborn Children
Norwegians born during WW2 as the result of a Nazi experiment to create Aryans sue the government for years of abuse.
4. Police rescue 91-year-old man glued to roof
I hope I am fit enough to get up on the roof when I am 91 (toi toi toi).
5. Vicar murdered in Wales
News like this makes me despair. For those who anticipate 'apokalupsis eschaton', i.e., the revelation at the end of the world that is preceded by some climactic battle between the forces of evil and good, the random nature of violence in the world today might indicate its imminent arrival.
6. Don't shoot the viola player
I did not realise that violists felt so oppressed :-(
7. Has science found the moody hormone?
Adolescent mice may show the potential cause of pubescent mood swings.
8. A new species of leopard has been discovered
For those of us interested in nature conservation in Borneo.
9. Malignant Hypothermia
Just heard a guy on the radio who suffers from this talking about it. He called it pyrothermia, i.e., the opposite of hypothermia. It is a genetic disorder triggered by certain general anaesthetics.
10. The Blooker Prize
This is a prize for books originating as blogs. The 2007 shortlist is here.
11. The problem of deforestation
Save the trees! I was telemarketed by the local newspaper today. They didn't seem to understand that I felt their parochial rag was not worth the lives of trees. They did understand 'no thank you.'
12. Ayaan Hirsi Ali
An interview with the Dutch politician who speaks out against political Islam in Der Spiegel. It's in English!
13. Sucked to Safety
A hamster is saved by a hoover.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

international women's day?

raise your hands - how many of you knew that international women's day took place last thursday? ok. and how many of you knew about it but didn't come across anything to do with it during the day and/or did not seek it out? ok ... that would be me.

i just had a quick look at the iwd website. these are the colours of the day:

and this is what the site says they represent:
"Purple, green and white are the official international women's colours.
The colours originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), in the UK in 1908. The colours were said to represent:
- white for purity in public as well as private life
- purple for justice, dignity, self-reverence and self-respect (and representing the women's vote)
- green for hope and new life.
The colours unified the women's movement and emphasised the femininity of the suffragettes. The tricolour of the WSPU soon became a visual cue for the women's movement in other countries. Purple, green and white were worn on International Women's Day and were used for other women's movement banners and posters. More recently, two changes have occured:
- the use of the colour white has more recently been rejected as 'purity' is a controversial issue and attitudes towards the role of 'purity' from women differ greatly
- the introduction of the colour gold representing 'a new dawn' has been commonly used to represent the second wave of feminism."
see more here.

what got me started on all this? an article in ruth gledhill's blog, a blog which joins my links for a while (see right).

qpr 1-1 sheffield wednesday

i don't know how much it had to do with this new guy - inigo idiakez - but we did not lose. unfortunately, we did not win, and most of our rivals did. it is beginning to look really quite possible that we will be relegated. my head is still deep down in the sand refusing to look, but when the ground collapses i shall sink into the abyss with the others. this is very depressing.

strangely enough, the day before qpr got a spanish player on loan, i bought a computer instant immersion spanish course. the very first lesson has given me many useful words to shout from the stands, well, a couple:

donde esta las aspirinas?

please forgive any mistakes, and be grateful that you only have to read this and aren't hearing my murderous accent :-)

ps for those of you who may wonder why a football team is named after a day of the week, a verifiable source from wikipedia notes:

"The club was a cricket team when it formed in 1820 as The Wednesday Cricket Club. A meeting on the evening of Wednesday 4 September 1867 at the Adelphi Hotel established a footballing side to keep the team together and fit during the winter months"

miss israel finalist quits

in yesterday's times:

"Doaa Fares believed she could be somebody other than herself: a 17-year old high-school dropout from a deeply conservative Druze village, where most women marry young and settle into traditional roles. The striking brunette with sea-green eyes and pouting lips changed her name to Angelina and entered the Miss Israel beauty pageant hoping to be crowned queen, a title that comes with a cash prize, modelling contract and a car. Instead, Angelina — the first Druze to compete in the pageant — was threatened with death, allegedly by two uncles and other men from her village who accused her of disgracing the family name with promiscuous behaviour. When police uncovered the apparent plot to kill her last week, Ms Fares disappeared into protective custody. When she emerged from hiding she announced that she was withdrawing from the competition, fearing for her life."

the rest of the article is here.

living in a country where one can be an out lesbian can make it easy to forget how difficult it is to be a woman in the rest of the world.

not that so-called civilised countries are necessarily any better ... here's a story from the independent about people trafficking in the uk.

the frog princess

latest news from walt disney - a new animated feature called 'the frog princess' - as reported in variety online. the news is that:
a. they are going back to the old-fashioned hand-drawn cells instead of computer animation
b. the artwork will feature their first black princess.

does this mean i must finally forgive them for 'the hunchback of notre dame'?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

the wit and wisdom of dame maggie smith?

from an article in the independent in advance of the london opening of albee's the lady of dubuque, the author notes:

"These moments, however, are the abrasive side of an impish spirit that tilts at pomposity. Smith didn't even spare Olivier when, in rehearsals for Othello, he said her vowel sounds were getting sloppy. She looked the great man (painted all over to play the Moor) up and down, and, in her best prunes-and-prisms tones, enunciated: "How. Now. Brown. Cow."

Nor has the older Smith been above guying her own image and playing Lady Bracknell out of hours. On Broadway in the Nineties, she was furious that the music of a gospel show in the theatre next door could be heard in her theatre. The management decided to solve the problem by putting thick black velours along the connecting wall. When Smith arrived at the theatre for the next performance, she was told: "I think you'll be very pleased, Dame Maggie. We've hung all the blacks." "Well," she said sternly, "I don't think there was any need to go that far.""

john inman r.i.p.

sad news tonight - john inman has died. in the uk, after 'are you being served?' had run its course, he had a great career as a pantomime dame. when i moved to the usa, i couldn't believe that 'are you being served?' was one of the most popular britcoms on public television and that john inman, as well as mollie sugden and some of the other cast members, was a kind of cult hero here!

even though the writers claimed that he was not homosexual, the character of mr. humphries was the first accepted portrayal of a gay man on tv that i can remember. granted it was all innuendo, and stereotypically limp-wristed; but it was also gentle and funny. at the time, i believe gay rights groups complained. at the time i was about 10 years old. i also identified then as heterosexual, insofar as i identified as anything. i look back now and feel that mr. wilberforce claybourne humphries had a positive effect on me.

*blush* i also have to admit that the 3 first singles i ever bought in my life (got them at the same time) were david bowie's space oddity, wild thing by the goodies, and are you being served, sir? by john inman with a b-side that had a chorus "ginger, ginger, we all love captain ginger"!

bbc news
death of a camp salesman from the telegraph
telegraph obituary
the times obituary

panda needs artificial paw

here is the latest panda news from the times.

a panda in distress was taken to a rescue centre in china. she had lost a paw in a fight with other pandas:

"Niu Niu has difficulty feeding herself because pandas need both paws to grasp the bamboo, and she requires constant help. But that is not the only shortcoming that confronts a three-pawed panda. Her loss of balance has severely affected her love life. Without her fourth paw she cannot stand up — and that means that she is unable to mate. So staff at the rescue centre in Shaanxi province, northwest China, came up with the idea of fitting her with a prosthetic limb."

ok - take a deep breath and prepare to flinch:

paw thing :-(

*grabs anorak and runs swiftly out the door*

thursday thirteen is back! (#xi)

Thirteen Things about MY NAME

many many years ago, when i was born, the name Ariel was quite rare in the english-speaking world and all over it was definitely a name for a male person.

when i was about 7, a new laundry detergent was created called Ariel.

it was not the greatest name for a little girl to have.

today, thanks to cybill shepherd and walt disney, there is a chance that one day soon when i visit a tourist tchatchke store or a highway rest area, i might find barettes or a keyring with my name on it :-)

nu - from nearly 6.5 million hits on google, here are 13 Ariel sites that, while i do NOT necessarily endorse them, caught my eye this morning:

1. Ariel Rescue
2. The Ariel Atom
3. Ariel V
4. Ariel Dynamics
5. Ariel1988
6. Ariel Non-Alcoholic Wines
7. Ariel, a Moon of Uranus
8. Arielholics
9. Ariel Ministries
10. Talk to Ariel
11. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
12. W. Shakespeare's Ariel
13. Ariel Owners Motorcycle Club

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

joanna lumley *sigh*

just read in the telegraph an interview with joanna lumley, saying she's not bad for 60.

all i can say is that she was not bad when i was a teenager and she was purdey

and she was not bad as britt, er, elke, um, patsy

and, well, um, er, i quite like her :-)
good luck as Madame Ranevskaya.

Monday, March 05, 2007

eleanor powell

my california friend's favourite photo at the exhibition yesterday was of fred astaire. i thought i'd find a lovely youtube clip of him for her. i watched him with ginger, with judy, with rita, with paulette goddard. then i came to this excerpt from 'broadway melody of 1940' (the clip is not faulty, after a few mins it runs normally) and remembered how much i loved eleanor powell. why? because she was not his dance partner, they were peers and she matched him step for step

o dear - warner brothers are claiming copyright infringement so this video is no longer available. i am so sorry (10th march)

here is her official fan site
here is the imdb bio

finally, a note from wiki:
"Together, Astaire and Powell danced to Porter's "Begin The Beguine", which is considered by many to be one of the greatest tap sequences in film history. According to accounts of the making of this film, including a documentary included on the DVD release, Astaire was somewhat intimidated by Powell, who was considered at the time the only female dancer capable of out-dancing Astaire. In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked: "She 'put 'em down like a man', no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself.""

unfulfilled dream #17 - learn to tap dance

Sunday, March 04, 2007

macy's piglet

went to meet my friends from california at the international center of photography in midtown manhattan today. we went to see the cartier bresson exhibition, which was pretty good. the photos we saw first, however, got to me a little more. there are a few of them here. martin munkacsi, according to the cards on the wall, was an inspiration for hcb to pick up his camera and just go out on the street. i think his work struck me more because it was in hungary and germany around the time omi and tante ilona and their friends were still living their lives and going to some of the places pictured (e.g. bad kissingen). there are a few photos of the early nazi times. the photographer was an hungarian jew, and i felt a bit like some of his shots were old family pix of distant cousins. not making much sense about this i think. also, munkacsi was a sports photographer for a while, and there were a couple of football shots in the exhibition :-)

on the way, i decided to take a piglet pic at macy's. i propped him up on the ridge of the top of a brass sign and stepped back. just then, the wind blew and he fell. it has happened many times before. usually i dash to catch him before he falls off the mountain or into the river. today, i clicked the shutter and only then rushed to pick him up. i rather like this shot - head over heels in new york city!

famous rats

why on earth am i writing about rats today, and before the sun comes up? i was thinking of a list of my favourite children's books, and thought of the rats of nimh, and then the rat in charlotte's web, and thought i'd see how many other famous rats i could come up with and, with a teensy bit of reminding help from google, came up with nine examples:

1. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
the first book i ever read that had something positive in it about rats. still would not consider one as a pet, even though some people do. we once looked after the class pet for a weekend. apparently our school could not afford a hamster or guinea pig so we had a pet ... lemming. it got out of its cage and was eventually found when my sister got into bed and it nipped her toes. my family is really not into rodents. and we never did have any pets while we were growing up :-(

2. The Rats by James Herbert
some boys at the boys' school were reading this when it came out and so i did too. i must have been about 12, and my sister 10. i read her the passage that first describes the mutant rats devouring humans from the inside out. this was during the day. that night, i played the worst trick i ever did. i crawled into my sister's room, reached up under the covers, grabbed her leg and cried: "the rats are here!" her screams turned on lights in flats across the road. nobody was very impressed with me for quite a while.

3. 1984 by George Orwell
winston's fear of rats is how he is forced to betray his lover.

4. Templeton the rat in Charlotte's Web by E.B.White
oh how i hate this rat for being greedy and unkind. oh how i cry when charlotte dies.

5. Basil the rat in Fawlty Towers
Manuel the waiter has a pet in his room. The hotel inspector is coming to the hotel to inspect it. Mr. Fawlty sees the pet and identifies it as a rat. Manuel insists that it is a hamster, a "filigree siberian khamster." the rat and the inspector meet.

6. Ratbert drawn by Scott Adams
a rat that has no bite, ratbert is quite a sweet character (for a rat) in the world of dilbert

7. Amy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
i never really liked this character, but she is in one of my all-time favourite tv shows and she is a rat so here she is

8. Roland Rat
one of the first star presenters on tv-am for channel 4 in the early '80's. awwright ratfans!

9. Scabbers
ron weasley's familiar in the first couple of harry potter books that turns out to be peter pettigrew/wormtail, the animagus that betrayed harry's parents.

ok, done with rats. from now on, consider this blog an outpost of the isle of man, where it is taboo and very unlucky to mention a "longtail".

Saturday, March 03, 2007

and the answer is ...

she looks a little different these days, eh? maybe i should get my eyebrows done ... i'm just afraid of looking permanently surprised.

anyway, i believe in eurovision celine represented switzerland.

Friday, March 02, 2007

who is this (deux)?

the eurovision song contest is a tradition unknown to most north americans. to those of us who grew up in countries accepted as european for the purposes of the contest, it was the ultimate kitsch addiction. each country's main television station would choose a song that would compete in the international final. in the early days, i don't remember songs being in anything other than english or french or italian maybe. later on, and much more fun, you would hear many languages - turkish, norwegian, finnish, hebrew et al. there was a frisson of excitement in the uk recently when it seemed possible that morrissey might be the uk representative. that, alas, is no longer likely.

anyway, the singer pictured above is rather famous now. i don't know if it too easy to recognise her ... i did not manage to.

a list of all eurovision winners and the uk results may be found here.

my favourite eurovision songs?
first let me blush
puppet on a string by sandie shaw
boom bang-a-bang by lulu (don't really remember it but just adore lulu)
knock knock who's there? by mary hopkin (probably my favourite uk one)
waterloo by abba (of course)
i just liked looking at dana and olivia newton-john
hallelujah by milk & honey
and diva by dana international (not to be confused with dana from ireland, who was far less edgy and much less of a challenge to my sexual identity :-) )

ok ok ok i did like cliff richard too, alright?! power to all my friends ...

baseball is back, kinda sorta

first swing of spring training in florida and johnny damon hits a home run. "it's all downhill from here," he said. i think i am due a little happiness when supporting my favourite teams. tomorrow qpr are away to ipswich, and due to blackstock's suspension have 4 strikers from which to choose: one aged, one knackered, one untested and one proven useless. come on you 'rrrrrrrrr's! and let's go yankees!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

the things you find on the 'net ...

on the myspace page of a qpr fan i found myriad youtube videos of david bowie. in one of them, he was singing a song best known through sonny & cher (or chrissie hynde & ub40 for younger oldies) - 'i got you babe'. under the wimple is marianne faithfull. according to the page whence cometh the pic, the back of her habit had no back, so when she left the stage everyone got a brief view of her bottom. she's a bit before my time, but i loved her as god in abfab :-)

happy st david's day/Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus!

everyone here in the states seems to know about st patrick's day, but not about the others (unless it is part of your religion of course). growing up in england, one learned about the 4 patron saints: george of england, david of wales, patrick of ireland and andrew of scotland. we knew the dates as well (or most of them - i sometimes have trouble remembering st andrew's) - st george and the dragon is 23rd april, david and the leeks and daffodils is 1st march, patrick and shamrocks is 17th march and andrew is 30th november (had to look that one up ... for an englander, the least-known day).

for the history of dewi sant and what is known about him see here.

another version, with personal memories of celebrating the day in wales, is here. this one actually mentions leeks, as well as noting that dewi sant was a vegetarian :-)

wikipedia (not always correct but often not wrong) notes that the leek was david's symbol and that he died on 1st march.

the weather here is so weird - i saw a squirrel today making a nest in a tree and thought it was a bit late to hibernate. on the other hand, maybe there are some baby squirrels on the way. in any case, the days when the daffodils bloom are the happiest for me, knowing that the dark of winter is truly over.

and i do love leeks :-)