Thursday, May 31, 2007


nu - did anyone see manhattanhenge this year? if not, you have another shot on 13th july.

ps a michael flanders gem:

"(In case it isn't obvious, this is about Stonehenge...)

There's so much building go on everywhere else - on Salisbury Plain nothing, no building at all. There hasn't been any building there for about, ooh, four thousand years I suppose, really. Even then, I daresay, back in Neolithic times, there was some old Stone Age man standing in the observation platform watching what was going on. I daresay he didn't care for it much either...

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Well wot's this then? You're not going to put up these great ugly stone blocks 'ere, are you? You can't do that! I've got Ancient Lights on my cave! Well, what is it anyway? A henge? Well, what's a henge? You may call it megalithic culture, I call it vandalism! I suppose you realise this is about the last nesting place for mammoths in the whole of Wessex?

What with them building up the long barrows and the round barrows and the bell-shaped barrows... They've started cutting out these white horses on the hillside now, have you seen that? I don't know - it's some sort of ad for mead, I think. They don't call 'em the Beaker Folk for nothing! And then you come dragging along these great prefabricated dominoes all over the roads! They're not meant for that sort of traffic. Every fine weekend it's the same story: ox-carts nose to tail all the way from 'ere to the coast.

I don't know where you get that stone from anyway - that's not local stone - I can tell. You get it from where? The Preseli Mountains? In Wales? I know it's in Wales - I've been abroad. Ooh, what'd'yer want to bring it all the way... You're bringing it the wrong way anyway: you want to bring it round the Chanctonbury Ring road, avoiding earthworks at Avebury.

What a horrible lookin' thing! That's all there is to it is then? Just two up and one across the top all the way round? Well if that's modern architecture, roll on the Ice Age I say! Well, you'll never get a roof on it for a start - never get twigs big enough! Yes, we 'ad a wood henge here once but it rotted. These big picture windows you've got all the way around the bottom: oh, they look very nice, yes, I grant you but what about the draughts? What about the lack of privacy? Who wants to live in a thing like that? Will you tell me when they start movin' in, won't yer? We get a pretty rowdy crowd in some of these new developments. I don't want to end up under the altar stone in a crouching position!

It's not going to be lived in? Well, that's something anyway. What is it then? It's a what? You're pulling my... a calendar? Well, it's a bit big for a calendar isn't it? I mean, you'd look a bit silly with that on your desk, wouldn't you? Well, how'd you work it then? You come up 'ere every morning before dawn - well better you than me, mate - and when the rising Sun throws a shadow of that big stone onto this flat one 'ere, then we shall know if it's Summer. Well, that will be very helpful, I must say. But is it Summer? You can't tell. Well, I'd better come and help you shovel the snow off it then...""

tip o' the keypad to ian kitching

good old gordon sumner

the police in 1983

with his stripey jumper and he used to be a schoolteacher o how i loved sting when i was a teenager. annabel weil said he lived on moscow road and some of us went up to stand there and look. i didn't go, i don't know why. i bought all 5 albums on vinyl when they came out. i also bought sting's first 2 solo efforts. this was my music.

24 years later

nu - the police are back together, and beginning a world tour. i am still listening to the 5 albums. have put them all on my i-pod. if only i had 11k for a decent seat at madison square garden. NOT! eleven thousand dollars?!!!!! maybe to hear mozart play ... maybe. bloody hell! if i were sting, i'd pay for the tix and make the people with more money than is good for them who wanted those seats give their 11k towards ending child poverty, or darfur, or finding cures for terrible diseases. i'd do it if i were andy summers! :-)

dance dance wherever you may be

those of you who know me well, also know that i have physical anxiety attacks at the thought of dancing anywhere, anytime. this is a terrible pity when you also know that i would love to be able to dance like eleanor powell or xavion glover or my friend maria two streets over. it is however so. my hands turn to ice, my skin turns pale (except for a bright red spot on each cheek like mary poppins), and i sweat like an endlessly cascading chocolate fountain.

nu - at the cafe deville last saturday night, while i realised that house music is really not my thing, mainly because it is so relentless and i find that utterly boring, i seem to be developing an affinity for a latin beat. not only did i dance and enjoy it for a couple of tracks, but somebody told me (albeit someone even further down the dance food chain than am i) that i looked good. well whaddya know?! and all i'd had to drink was seltzer.

to quote (for me) a more religiously/culturally relevant song - wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!

nooooooooo! ... death of a panda

xiang xiang in 2006

just saw here on yahoo that xiang xiang, the first panda bred in captivity that was released into the wild, has been found dead after less than a year out there.

""Xiang Xiang died of serious internal injuries in the left side of his chest and stomach by falling from a high place," Heng Yi, an official from the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in Sichuan, said in a telephone interview. "The scratches and other minor injuries caused by other wild pandas were found on his body," he said. "So Xiang Xiang may have fallen from trees when being chased by those pandas.""

that is so sad. on the other hand, ya ya at the memphis zoo (been there, got the t-shirt. actually, i was wearing it just the other day) is pregnant. apparently, female pandas are fertile for only 3 days a year. and even then they are not always in the mood. ya ya was artificially inseminated.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

piglet and a sorry spiderman

outside virgin records the other day in times square i was sure i saw spiderman. piglet said he wasn't so sure, but was kind enough to pose with him anyway:

afterwards, piglet gently pointed out to me the interesting muscle definition of the chap in the suit. it was hard to believe, but upon further investigation it turned out that it was a kid trying to raise money for college. ah me ...

a matter of perspective

piglet stands tall on fifth avenue, but still could not get a taxi to stop for him.

Friday, May 25, 2007

like i don't do king's english

the daily telegraph has produced a new book: "she literally exploded: the daily telegraph infuriating phrase book", and plugged it today in this article. it seems to be a pocket-sized version of something like the urban dictionary, but is certainly of interest to pedants like the ravaj.

examples aside, here is my favourite paragraph from the article:

"It is poverty of thought and expression that make for infuriating phrases. There are comfortably more than 500,000 words in the English language, many more than are available in French or German. They allow us to be specific in every situation, and to be playful, alliterative, allusive - all sorts of things that repetitive use of phrases such as "I'm like, whatever" doesn't allow. If people use four words where one would do, they're wasting your time. If corporate lackeys use jargon to obfuscate or euphemism to obscure, then anger is the right - or as they'd say "appropriate" - response."

'obfuscate' - what a brilliant word?!

go. look. enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

piglet on the town

with crew members on leave from uss wasp in times square yesterday evening.

for those of us who remember, and even enjoyed, watching the film 'on the town' (3 sailors have 24 hours leave in nyc), piglet is playing the frank sinatra role :-)

update: i did not realise that it is fleet week, which explains the shipsfull of sailors that were promenading, as well as the friendly demeanor with which they responded to my requests to be photographed with a small stuffed pig.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

another rave for rookie debut

this is tyler clippard

pulled out of a minor league game to make his debut tonight, tyler clippard (who?) is the latest pitcher to start well in the majors. through six innings against the mets, he has allowed one run (a homer to david wright) and three hits for a 6-1 lead. since it is national league, he has also helped himself with a sacrifice bunt and a double! the game isn't over yet, but he's certainly done enough to get another start.

LATER clippard got his first win and the yanks averted a sweep. ny times report

the simpsons @ 400

when the simpsons first came on the air, i remember that they were considered the south park of their day, i.e., rude, crude and dangerous to young and impressionable minds. then along came south park. now they are all beloved by the nation. i cannot tell you how upset my father was when the synagogue brought friday night services forward to 6 pm, since that meant he would no longer be able to watch the show.

here are a couple of my favourite images filched from a fan-site:


not to mention

es lebe matt groening, akbar & jeff, life in hell and futurama!

vegetarians is da bomb

a report in the british medical journal by a team from southampton university says that intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians later in life.

does this explain why last week the complaints of more than 6k vegetarians caused masterfoods to rescind its announcement that it would be using animal rennet in mars bars?

hoorah for beetroot

beetroot is beautiful!

i don't know why, but so many people i know think that beetroot is vile and would never eat it voluntarily. maybe it goes back to school dinners and having no choice but to eat what was on the plate and the juice dyed everything else. maybe it goes back to a lack of imagination in its presentation, i.e., boil the buggers then cut them into cubes. this week, however, it seems to be rather fashionable. i saw this in the guardian:

"Beetroot. The root of the beet. Beta vulgaris. Doesn't exactly resonate with romance, does it? But actually, since Roman times beetroot has been considered a potent aphrodisiac. Murals featuring beetroot have been found on the walls of Pompeii's brothels, and seeds and other traces uncovered in the excavations there (insert your own Vesuvius eruption gag here)."

and the lovely description of how it stains your, well, everything really:

"... it's incredibly versatile and, for those who are recoiling in horror, not nearly as scary as it looks. Well, apart from the Lady Macbeth hand scrubbing moment after you've peeled it."

in fact, for this very reason, beetroot may be used on the seder plate at passover instead of the lamb's bone. originally suggested for those who could not afford any kind of bone, particularly because of the similarity to blood, the beetroot is now a common seder option for vegetarians like myself.

i also found a piece in the same paper a couple of days later talking mainly about how to get children to like beetroot:

" Explain that, if you eat enough of it, beetroot makes everything go purple - even the inside of your tummy. Few children can resist the prospect of producing purple poo."

there are also a couple of recipes here if you skip to the bottom. finally ... o, i get it - the grauniad is teaching us about eating seasonal food, and beets are just starting now ... a bit more info about the vegetable including, for the faint-hearted or messy eater:

"Golden or white beetroot, or the internally striped chioggia variety, are similar in flavour to the purple stuff but don't turn everything purple"

d & i saw shrek 3 friday afternoon. v. silly and much fun. afterwards at the omega diner, they brought beetroot along with the bread while we were ordering. i realised that there was an important ingredient missing - cloves. that is how my mother and grandmother always do/did beetroot and, while as a child it was awful if you accidentally bit a clove, it still tastes better if you bung a few in.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

an early crush - alan bates

saw an article in the mail today by donald spoto. i've read his biographies of marilyn monroe, lotte lenya and marlene dietrich, and this is an extract from his latest work on alan bates.

o but i was in love with alan bates in my early teens. roles in 'georgy girl', 'far from the madding crowd', 'women in love' and 'the go-between' in the late sixties and early seventies won my heart. then a friend of my father, with whom he'd worked on 'jesus of nazareth', came to london and i was his host for a qpr match. as we rode in his limo towards the stadium, cenzo pointed at a house and told me that's where alan bates lived. a few days later i returned to the spot, and went into the front garden. i couldn't see into the window of the house because i have never been very tall, and i jumped up and down trying to look in. the window opened, and i was told to eff off. an exciting moment in my teenage life, recalled in the cartoon below.

spoto goes into detail regarding bates' many homosexual affairs. i don't go into detail about my few. o well ...

cup final saturday

this is traditionally the greatest day of the football season, even if you don't support either of the teams in the final. i guess it's a bit like the superbowl in national sporting importance. that is why, despite the unbelievably awful '80's hair, i share with you the moment i held the precious trophy: how did i get my hands on the f.a. cup? i did the team photoshoot the season after wimbledon-that-was won the cup. the commentator john motson asked me to take a pic of him with the cup for his dad. i said i would, on one condition, that he then took a pic of me with the cup for my dad. this was the photo of ravaj that my parents had on the mantelpiece with the ancestors. so laugh all you wish at the hair (which looked ok at the time don't forget) but i got to hold the fa cup!

cricket news - england are not losing

c'mon peeps give me a break. the yanks just lost to the mets and cannot buy a win, the scum are in the cup final today against man ure, the qpr chaps are on holiday, and england had a really good couple of days of cricket. this picture is of their newest possible star - matt prior. he got a century* today. it came off 105 balls*, and he is the first england wicketkeeper* to score a century on his debut.

[simultaneous translation into american:
* scored 100 runs at bat in one inning
* pitches
* catcher]

world record panda

Nineteen-year-old female giant panda Qing Qing tightly holds her newly born baby in Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province Sept. 9, 2003. Since she first gave birth to a baby panda in 1989, Qing Qing has produced 13 babies in nine births, including four twins, setting a world record in reproduction. (Xinhua)

i got really excited about this report, and the following:

"BEIJING, Sept. 10 Kyodo

A 19-year-old giant panda kept at a breeding center in Sichuan Province on Tuesday gave birth to her 13th baby, setting the world record in reproduction, Xinhua News Agency said.

The giant panda, Qing Qing, is expected to give birth to another baby shortly, according to Yu Jianqiu, vice director of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center. Experts believe Qing Qing was carrying twins. Since first giving birth in 1989, Qing Qing has produced 13 babies in nine births, Xinhua said. Qing Qing's mother gave birth to more than 10 babies and one of Qing Qing's children, now 13 years old, has produced nine babies. The giant panda, found in the wild in southwest China, is one of the world's most endangered species. Currently, about 1,000 giant panda are found in the wild and 140 are kept in zoos or in breeding centers."

it was only as i was posting that i realised the story is four years old! pandas still rool, though :-)

Friday, May 18, 2007

scooby dooby who?

i have to admit that i loved scooby doo when i was about 9. wouldn't miss it. here is a recent adidas ad that has grafted a current icon onto the aged one:

as d says, becks is a lot better looking than that!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

thursday thirteen xviii

Thirteen Things about Massachusetts

i'm about to move to waltham massachusetts for the year. i really don't know much about the state, except that gay marriage is legal there and a few years ago there was a bit of a problem about some tea or something ;-)

nu - i decided to google "massachusetts" and here is what i picked out:

1. good old wikipedia
2. native american massachuset on the state flag
3. the state tree is the american elm
4. here are the lyrics to the state polka
5. the lizzie borden murderabilia is in fall river
6. there is a bewitched statue in salem
7. dedham houses the museum of bad art
8. famous firsts and just about everything else to boast about
9. an escaped cow has become a folk hero at the sacred cow animal rights memorial in sherborn
10. the state's football team (i mean the one you play with your feet) is new england revolution
11. the senators for massachusetts are both democrats and both nationally known
12. barney frank is congressman for the 4th district
13. the highest point in the state is mount greylock

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

not to mention ...

honestly, you go away for a day to find a new place to live and all these things happen. i see that jerry falwell has died.

there is a very old joke that my father told me: moishe comes home from school and says to his mother, "am i going to hell?" "what do you mean?" she asks. "kevin says that when i die i'm going to hell!" "o," says his mother, " yes, you are." "what?!" exclaims the boy, "what do you mean?!" "you'll be there," says his mother, "and so will i. your father will be there too, and your sister, and all your grandparents, and your cousins, and the cantor, and the rabbi, and sandy koufax, etc." "o," says moishe, "that's ok then!"

presumably falwell is in his heaven now. i never met him, but i almost picketed his house once. when i was in virginia, a couple of hours from his home in lynchberg, he made a fuss about the purple teletubby being a gay symbol:

"On 10th. February, 1999 the National Liberty Journal in the USA published an article entitled "Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes out of the Closet" by the right-wing Christian evangelist Jerry Falwell. He wrote, "The character, whose voice is obviously that of a boy, has been found carrying a red purse, and has become a favourite character among gay groups world wide. Further evidence that the creators of the series intend for Tinky Winky to be a gay role model have surfaced. He is purple - the gay-pride colour - and his antenna is shaped like a triangle - the gay-pride symbol.""

many folks did go down to picket. i wanted to, but it was during the temple's celebration of the festival of purim. what i did instead, was dress up as 'rabbi teletubby', and inform the congregation that she was subbing for the regular rabbi, who was, in fact, picketing with the others.

yolanda denise king r.i.p.

the eldest daughter of martin luther king and coretta scott king collapsed and died last night at the age of 51

higher power productions
ny times
the times

in the early seventies, my father taught for a semester at emory university in atlanta. they were about to develop a serious judaic studies programme, and were wooing him. the braves were the worst team in baseball, but the university people did offer a meeting with either governor carter or martin luther king sr. "governor who?" said my father, and asked to meet mlk sr, having met his son previously when marching from selma to montgomery. together they went to visit the grave of mlk jr. my father said that while they were standing there together, mlk sr. sighed, and said, "my isaac."

Monday, May 14, 2007

fat is beautiful

i got a bit excited today to see an article in the ny times about a current exhibition of the photographs of leonard nimoy called "the full body project" (at least, that's the title of the book of the photos that will be published). the nude subjects of the photographs are plus-sized women.

the article covers the development of mr nimoy's sensitivity:

"(he) admits that before he began this project, it had never occurred to him that beauty might be culture driven, that a fat body in Africa is treated quite differently from one in the United States."

what a pity then, that the piece concludes with these words:

"And what of his own attitude toward fat women? “I do think they’re beautiful,” he said. “They’re full-bodied, full-blooded human beings.” He doesn’t necessarily find them sexually attractive. “But I do think they’re beautiful.”"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

the thinker

last night in seattle, a young pitcher called matt desalvo got his first win for the yankees in his second game on the mound. put on waivers at the beginning of the year, nobody would take him, and he wound up staying in the nyy organisation. today, he is helping fill the holes in the yanks' crumbling pitching rotation. according to the yankees' broadcasters john sterling and suzyn waldman, matt also reads books. real books. last night john said he thought one should read books for enjoyment. why, then, did he and suzyn spend a lot of air-time pointing out what an oddball a reading ballplayer is in the locker room? i wonder how safe it is in the major-leagues to be out as a reader? today's ny times notes:

"The latest book being read by Matt DeSalvo is “The Quest For Christa T.,” by Christa Wolf, an author from the former East Germany"

somebody should be keeping a list of what he reads ...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

paris hilton wtf

under the headline 'too pretty for prison', yahoo news reports on ms hilton's desperate attempt to stay out of jail:

"Well, as we all know by now, last week the judge threw the book at part-time pop star Paris Hilton (it was probably the closest Paris had ever gotten to a book, come to think of it) and sentenced her to 45 days in jail for driving twice with a suspended license. Paris's first defense was to blame her long-suffering minion/publicist, Elliot Mintz, claiming he mistakenly told her it was just fine for her to get behind the wheel. (This led poor Elliot to experience a brief moment of self-respect/clarity and temporarily break free from his client's acrylic-taloned clutches, when he announced he was quitting her employ...but lo and behold, he was back on Paris's payroll a mere day later.) So anyhoo, when the judge refused to let Elliot take the fall, the harebrained heiress changed her strategy...and asked her fans to sign a petition urging California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon her because she provides "beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives" and is "notable for her leading roles on the Fox reality series The Simple Life and in the remake of the Vincent Price horror classic House Of Wax." Wow, what an airtight defense--if Johnny Cochran were alive to see such democracy at work, he'd surely approve. No word yet on whether Arnie will pay this petition any heed (a rebuttal petition, demanding that Paris serve her time, is also floating around somewhere on the Interweb), but hey, if Paris ends up in the slammer--and Nicole Richie gets sentenced for her own recent moving violation--then presto! Fox has the perfect premise for The Simple Life 6. And you know, if there are any ladies who could go on television wearing prison stripes and still look svelte, it's those two..."

speechless with disgust ...

eurovision voting 2

serbia seem to be running away with this, and the uk still have nool pwun. the radio is now playing the most successful song from eurovision that never won. it is from 1958 and it is called 'volare'!

the announcer ken bruce is languidly complaining about the bloc voting, and has suggested that it may be time to separate the contest into east and west europe. i wonder which group will accept israel? the uk still at the bottom with zilch.

the next song by a eurovision loser is 'sam' by olivia newton-john. is it cool yet to have loved her forever? probably never :-) not only did i buy the album of xanadu, but auntie d has a copy as well. she does not remember how or why! anyway, onj lost to abba in 1974 so that's not so embarrassing. the uk still has a score of zero.

great excitement - the uk got 7 points. they did get them from ireland. i'm a bit disappointed, though, that they broke their duck. then malta voted the uk the best with 12!

we are near the end of the voting. three countries to go. who shall it be?!

with one country left, the winners are serbia. how boring. i wanted the ukraine to win
i think they finished 3rd. no, in fact they came in second!

goodnight from helsinki

eurovision voting

i am listening online to bbc radio 2 and the call-in votes are finished, so it only remains for the best bit of the whole experience - the scores. the finnish hosts are trying to be cute in the green room. they are doing it in english, but that doesn't seem to help. "we are ready. is the ebu ready?" the uk host says wryly, "we are more than ready." now they are talking finnish. now they have finished. ouch, i am sorry.

42 countries will be voting, so it may take a little time.

montenegro vote first. serbia 12, macedonia 10 or dix points. looks like east and west europe are voting for themselves. belarus gave ukraine 10 and russia 12 and the audience is booing.

here comes a western european vote from austria. hmmmm - they went for serbia as the best. poor old uk getting a few points but not many. actually, so far they have none at all! the radio guys are going to leave the voting for a bit and i don't blame them. they are playing non-eurovision songs by former eurovision losers - first up is julio iglesias with 'begin the beguine' and it is time for me to go and look in the fridge and think about some dinner!

Friday, May 11, 2007

eurovision tomorrow night!

how am i going to follow the competition? i am hoping to find it on the radio via the computer. will the ukrainian teevee come up tops? will scooch from the uk be the most embarrassing? the excitement is palpable (hey, i am sitting in a pile of boxes rescued from the supermarket crusher that need to be taped together. the most thrilling moment of the day is figuring out what to do with the books that are odd sizes!).

meanwhile, the times whets our appetites with the top ten funniest eurovision moments. pardon me while i go check it out.

back. i don't care what anyone says i still love lulu. this was the eurovision with which i grew up. it's not quite the same these days.

here is the 1984 winner. do not ask me what it means. just enjoy the pure clean fun :-)

finally for tonight, a recent winner for israel - dana international with 'diva'

friday fun

i'm going back to school next month. for the first time in fifteen years. i went to an english public school. you'd think i'd've had enough. i took a couple of years off and then went to university. the tory students' vp was discovered dead drunk with paint all over himself and the brush in his hand next to slogans on the halls' walls saying 'death to the jews' and 'juden raus'. after graduation i went to work in a field nothing to do with anything i'd studied. most of the time i worked out-of-doors. i had an attack of ethics and went off to grad school. studied my religion and a bit of some others. went to work in my field. found out it wasn't what i thought it was. was miserable and unemployed for a while. now going back to school for training in a new profession.

despite all of this, watching graham chapman getting a latin lesson from john cleese not only makes me laugh, but also has me ahhhhhing sentimentally for the good old days of my own latin lessons.

btw, i spent most of my latin lessons trying to get thrown out of class. my best friend and a couple of others had been allowed to drop latin (and then made faces at me through the window), but the latin teacher thought i had the makings of a classicist. i was very fond of myths and legends as a child, and knew the difference between zeus and jove. anyway, nothing i did seemed to make a difference. at the end of the first term, however, i had a brilliant idea. i would hand in a blank exam paper, fail the course, and not have to do it any more. so i sat through the exam, having written nothing but my name on the page. the proctor kept telling me i didn't have much time left, and that i really should start writing. i did nothing. i was cool. the others thought i was cool. i was really cool :-) nu - at the end of the exam the teacher informed me that my parents would be called. i nodded gravely. i went home. the thing was, my mother had once told me the story of how she wanted out of latin at school so she handed in a blank exam paper. how could she, therefore, get mad at me for doing it?

somehow, things did not work out how i had expected them to. not only did i have to stay in the class, i had to retake the exam. my mother could not get mad at me for what i actually did, but could get very mad at me for consciously wasting a rather expensive education. *sigh*

i do still love this scene though!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

it was eighty years ago today

so today is the anniversary of the birth of my father. i'm not sure what to do about it all alone here in port woebegone. last night d & i went to see spiderman 3. great cg effects and unbelievably corny and predictable. also a little long. but we had fun. on the way home i realised that the last e-mail i ever received from my father was about spiderman 2. i had taken auntie d to see it, and he asked if she was old enough for such entertainment :-)

in the above picture, ahf is reading leo baeck in the desert. let me tell you the camel story.

so my father was going to lead a group of german theological students through the desert to mount sinai, following in the footsteps of moses. during the day they would hike, and in the evenings sit by the fire and discuss the torah. i was absolutely dying to go with, but could not as i had to work. when he came home i rushed to him and asked, 'what did you learn in the desert?' his answer was: 'never pee on a camel.' this was not exactly what i had been expecting to hear him say. apparently, they were sitting round the fire, doing their thing, when he needed to relieve himself. now my father was an extremely short-sighted gentleman (despite which he left his eyes to medical science). he slipped into the shadows behind a large rock, and began to pee. all of a sudden, the large rock screamed. my father screamed. everyone screamed. and so he learned some of the wisdom of the desert.

UPDATE by some strange coincidence, auntie d was also at the cinema watching spidey 3 last night. she said she liked 2 better.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

surprise surprise

not content with suggesting that the queen was about 300 years old, having visited the us in 1776, dubya then turned and winked at her

her majesty was not amused

surely this gaffe is great enough to swing the election away from the republicans next year?!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

eighty years ago ...

it was eighty years ago on thursday that my father z"l and his brother charles z"l were born. this is the story of how they were born, as told to me by their sister, my adorable auntie d:

the friedls were living in berlin, on the motzstrasse north of the nollendorfplatz. in those days, one gave birth at home with the aid of a midwife. so mutti had her baby, a boy, and alex called the doctor to tell him. then mutti got up and had a cup of coffee. a while later, much to everyone's surprise (especially mutti's), she began to go into labour again. she gave birth to another boy. alex called the doctor to tell him. 'you already told me that,' said the doctor, ' you're drunk, man!' 'no, no, no,' said alex, 'another boy! there are two of them!!'

can you believe nobody figured out she was having twins? i can never remember who was first, and they spent the first several years of their lives being known as 'the twins'. more pix tomorrow.

nb albert is the one on the right

UPDATE auntie d tells me that i misremembered. first of all, mutti did not get up, she drank the coffee in bed. secondly, alex did not call the doctor, but rather his friends down at the rowing club. apparently they thought he was too old to sire one son, let alone two at the same time!

cardboard boxes

is this the safe haven to which cardboard boxes aspire when faced with the supermarket crushing machines?

a moment of fortune today - i saw a woman in the supermarket carrying several large uncrushed boxes and asked her whence they came. she told me that she works at the supermarket, and operates the crushing machine. hurrah! my new best friend juanita from king kullen also told me that crushing begins at 7 am so if i get there earlier i may have my pick of the boxes. double hurrah!!

$11.99 + tax for 3 new medium-sized boxes at staples? feh!

peace in northern ireland?

are such things possible? today, we saw ian paisley, the democratic unionist party leader who spent decades denouncing republicans, and martin mcguinness, a former ira commander, standing next to each other as they prepared to begin governing the province of northern ireland together.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair, Peter Hain, and DUP leader Ian Paisley after the ceremony at Stormont

the main papers report it thus:

the guardian
the telegraph

from the times:

"Then and now

Martin McGuinness, on trial in Ireland, 1973 “I am a member of Oglaigh na Eireann (IRA) and very, very proud of it”
Yesterday in Stormont “As for Ian Paisley, I want to wish you all the best as we step forward towards the greatest yet most exciting challenge of our lives”

Ian Paisley, opposing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985 “Never! Never! Never!”
Yesterday in Stormont “That was yesterday. This is today and tomorrow will be tomorrow. From the depths of my heart I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace”"

from the independent:

"Over the years I heard them, repeatedly and routinely, send out the message that there would be no compromise, no sell-out, no surrender. But now there is a new rhetoric and all of the old certainties are disappearing. Ian Paisley, now Northern Ireland's First Minister, spoke of "a time when hate will no longer rule". Martin McGuinness, ex-IRA and now his new deputy, spoke of peace and reconciliation. They both clearly meant it."

new york times

finally, from ian paisley (the auld preacher)'s speech, his conclusion:

""I have sensed a great sigh of relief amongst all our people who want the hostility to be replaced with neighbourliness.

"The great king Solomon said, 'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
'A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
'A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to break down and a time to build up.
'A time to get and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to cast away.
'A time to love and a time to hate.
A time of war and a time of peace.'

"I believe that Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace, a time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in our Province. Today we have begun to plant and we await the harvest.""

if it can happen in northern ireland, dare we hope in other places ... ... ... ?

Monday, May 07, 2007

a moment of mirth

well into the task of packing myriad books for the journey to our next home, of course i stop now and then to look at old favourites. i'll say it before i type this out - possibly you had to be there, but the following passage by bill bryson from 'notes from a small island' (the one with the belisha beacon on the cover) makes me laugh out loud and is bloody brilliant.

Bryson is in Corfe, about to eat dinner at Mortons House, an Elizabethan manor:

"Given the nature of the hotel, I'd expected the menu to feature items like brown Windsor soup and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but of course things have moved on in the hotel trade. The menu now was richly endowed with ten-guinea words that you wouldn't have seen on an English menu ten years ago -- "noisettes," "tartare," "duxelle," "coulis," "timbale" -- and written in a curious inflated language with eccentric capitalizations. I had, and I quote, "Fanned Galia Melon and Cumbrian Air Dried Ham served with a Mixed leaf Salad," followed by "Fillet Steak served with a crushed Black Peppercorn Sauce flamed in Brandy and finished with Cream," which together were nearly as pleasurable to read as to eat.

I was greatly taken with this new way of talking and derived considerable pleasure from speaking it to the waiter. I asked him for a luster of water freshly drawn from the house tap and presented 'au nature' in a cylinder of glass, and when he came around with the bread rolls I entreated him to present me a tonged rondelle of blanched wheat, oven baked and masked in a poppy-seed coating. I was just getting warmed up to this and about to ask for a fanned lap coverlet, freshly laundered and scented with a delicious hint of Lemon Daz, to replace the one that had slipped from my lap and now lay recumbent on the horizontal walking surface subjacent to my feet, when he handed me a card that said "Sweets Menu" and I realized that we were back in the no-nonsense world of English.

It's a funny thing about English diners. They'll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fussy little noisettes of that, but don't mess with their puddings, which is my thinking exactly. All the dessert entries were for gooey dishes with good English names. I had sticky toffee pudding and it was splendid. As I finished, the waiter invited me to withdraw to the lounge where a caisson of fresh-roasted coffee, complemented by the chef's own selection of mint wafers, awaited. I dressed the tabletop with a small circlet of copper specie crafted at the Royal Mint and, suppressing a small eruction of gastrointestinal air, effected my egress."

pp 98-99, or where the crack is on the spine of my paperback copy. now to return to the boxes ...

one last shot

ok, ok, two last shots ... from the lap of honour after the stoke game look at rowlie with the baby ahhhhh.

also, an almost iconic shot of paul furlong leaving the pitch at loftus road for the very last time:

nick de marco took these photos and his site is here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

the return of the rocket

surprise surprise, roger clemens has signed for the yankees again. ap reports:

"NEW YORK (AP) -- Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees, making a dramatic announcement to fans from the owner's box during Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners. At the end of the seventh-inning stretch, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans to turn their attention to the box, where Clemens was standing with a microphone. As the video scoreboard in right-center showed Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner made the announcement himself. "Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," Clemens said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon." Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, agreed to a minor league contract and most likely will join the Yankees after spending several weeks getting into shape. He hopes to be pitching in the major leagues by late May or June 1."

the end of the season

and so it goes. qpr 1-1 stoke city. stoke get a late equaliser, but their playoff hopes are doomed. rowly scores for us, and the players who have been axed get a chance to say goodbye: furs, birch & paul jones. i have nothing else to say about the match because when i went to my computer at 10 am to start following it, i saw the final scores for matches that had begun 2 hours earlier! the good news was that the chels*** match was still to come, and i did enjoy their failure to win, thus handing the premiership title to united :-) meanwhile, qpr are safe for another year, we may have found a decent manager, we have a few decent players - roll on august!

nu - personal interest in the football matches to come not existing, it is time to turn the full strength of my fandom to my poor yankees. i don't get quite the same thrill as from a qpr goal, but it'll do :-)

the pink list

this weekend, the independent on sunday published its list of the hundred most influential gays in britain. here are the women that made the list:

18. (85) Sandi Toksvig, Broadcaster and Writer

This stalwart on radio shows such as I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue and Excess Baggage is one of the most popular voices in middle England. The 49-year-old was dropped from Save the Children when she came out, but protests led the charity to take her back again. Toksvig was recently named Political Humourist of the Year at the Channel 4 Political Awards and Broadcaster of the Year at last month's Broadcasting Press Guild's Awards. Now hosts The News Quiz on Radio 4.

21. (69) Fiona Shaw, Actress and New Booker Judge

Shaw is regarded as one of our finest classical actresses but wins applause for her film forays too. Her theatre awards include three Laurence Olivier Awards for best actress and one New York Critics' Award for her performance in T S Eliot's The Waste Land. Her roles in the Harry Potter films as his cruel aunt have been widely acclaimed. A CBE, she is a judge for the this year's Man Booker Prize.

37. (38) Carol Ann Duffy, Poet and Playwright

The nation's most revered female poet, Duffy was born in Glasgow and lives in Manchester, where she lectures at the university. Her work has won every available poetry award, including the Forward Prize (for Mean Time) and the T S Eliot Prize last year for Rapture, the record of a passionate affair and its sad aftermath. Her collection The World's Wife was a brilliant conflation of feminist polemic, wit and shrewd psychology.

39. (41) Sarah Waters, Novelist

Waters made her name with historical novels Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith, which evoked lesbian lives in the Victorian era. Last year's novel The Night Watch was a best-seller and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Her third novel Fingersmith was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2002 and the Man Booker Prize, the same year. She is now touring the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. In January 2003, Waters was named as one of Granta's 20 Best of Young British Writers. She was recipient of the South Bank Award for Literature 2003 and was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.

50. (31) Ashley Steel, Director, KPMG

Steel, 47, is a partner at the accountancy firm and a member of its UK board. She is becoming something of a gay figurehead in the City for her willingness to speak out about on what is still a taboo for many firms. Head of KPMG's infrastructure and government practice and sits on various diversity committees. KPMG recently joined Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme for employers.

52. (NEW) Jackie Kay, Poet and recent MBE

The poet of gender crossover and identity confusion, Glasgow-born Kay, 45, had a Nigerian father and Scottish mother but was adopted by a white Scots couple. He first collection of poems The Adoption Papers explored the theme of the cultural quest, looking for a place to "fit in". Later collections have dealt with black, feminist, lesbian and indeed Scottish issues, always with wit and luxuriant wordplay. Her first novel Trumpet featured a Scottish trumpeter revealed after his death as being a woman. Her collected poems are out this year under the title Darling.

58. (34) Deborah Warner, Theatre Director

Best known for her collaborations with Fiona Shaw, most notably with Electra and Hedda Gabler, Warner, 47, also dabbles in film-making, directing the Michael Gambon film The Last September. Her partner is the author Jeanette Winterson. Warner collaborates with Shaw again in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days at the National Theatre.

59. (NEW) Clare Balding, Sports Presenter

Cambridge-educated Balding, 37, was a leading amateur flat jockey and champion lady rider in the late 1980s and early 90s, but turned her hand to presenting after retiring from jockeying. With three Olympic Games and one Winter Olympics under her belt, she was awarded the Royal Society's Sports Presenter of the Year in 2003. In September 2006, she formalised her civil partnership with the Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold.

60. (NEW) Charlotte Mendelson, Writer

Mendelson's stock is riding high with the publication this month of her third novel, When We Were Bad, the story of a London Jewish family in turmoil. Her second, Daughters of Jerusalem, won a Somerset Maugham award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for an under-35 author. The TLS praised her "glowing, metaphorical and often very funny prose". Straggle-haired, aphoristic and permanently upbeat, Mendelson and her partner Joanna Briscoe - also a talented novelist - are London's top literary lesbian couple.

61. (46) Jeanette Winterson, Novelist

London's most glamorous lesbian fruit 'n' veg seller's first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit stormed into print demanding attention, and she has caused a whirlwind of attention with everything she's done since. Her first children's book Tanglewreck was published last June, but it's been a while since she gave her fans a work that's worthy of her reputation. Awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to literature, she is experimenting with a part-move to France.

62. (56) Phyllida Lloyd, Theatre Director

One of the UK's most serious theatrical talents had unexpected success as creator and director of the musical Mamma Mia! in London and Broadway. Having been performed in five countries, it is now to be made into a feature film, for which Lloyd, 49, will make her feature directing debut. Lloyd directed Peter Grimes for Opera North which won a South Bank Show award earlier this year.

71. (94) Maggi Hambling, Artist

Artist Maggi Hambling, 61, will have a collection of her drawings from 1963 to present day featured in a new exhibition, called No Straight Lines, at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

74. (NEW) Stevie Spring, Chief Executive, Future Magazine Publishers

Stevie Spring, 49, was appointed new chief executive of Future magazines in summer 2006 and in November unveiled a major restructuring programme. If it is successful, investors can expect a considerable recovery in the group's earnings and share price.

87. (80) Eileen Gallagher, CEO, Shed Productions

Responsible for Footballers' Wives and Bad Girls. Recent commissions won by Shed include a new drama, Rock Rivals, for ITV1, which will see the company join forces with Simon Cowell. Waterloo Road has also been recommissioned for BBC1.

88. (14) Dawn Airey, Television Executive

Left BSkyB to join multimedia group Lostar as chief executive. It lasted just over a week. She is s reported to have discovered the £30m promised war chest amounted to virtually nothing.

90. (93) Miriam Margolyes, Actress

Madame Morrible in the London stage production of Wicked and she starred in last year's television series Jam and Jerusalem. And Harry Potter's back soon too.

91. (90) Saffron Burrows, Actress

As a child she sold copies of Socialist Worker for pocket money and today she is vice president of the National Civil Rights Movement in England. Films out this year are Reign Over Me and Dangerous Parking. One-time partner of Alan Cumming; current partner of Fiona Shaw.

Judge and jury

Each person's ranking is above their name with last year's position in brackets.

Contributors: Hugo Eyre-Varnier, David Benedict, Marcus Field, Damian Barr, Suzi Feay, Andrew Murray-Watson, Beth Dadswell, Mike Higgins, John Walsh, Francis Elliott, Marie Woolf, Katy Guest.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

barbra streisand

so barbra streisand is doing another tour, and some people consider the prices of the tickets to be a little on the high side. 500 quid for the top end, more than the stones and madonna. the sunday times has a profile of her this weekend here. in the final paragraph it says:

"For her London concerts she may have greater need than ever of the 120 bath towels she demanded on her recent US tour. The media are already raining on her parade over the eyewatering ticket prices. Pop stars are meant to belong to the people, not price themselves as high culture."

hmmm. when i bought a ticket for her absolutely last concert ever ever ever, in sydney in 2000, for $95 (aus) i got a seat in the very back row at the top at a football stadium. they said the seats down on the grass in front of the stage were going for $5k. about half-way through the concert, it began to pour with rain. the posh people down there got absolutely soaked. we were sitting under the overhang, and remained quite dry.

on the one hand, it was not the spectacle for which i had hoped - the guy next to me lent me his binoculars and it looked like she was reading her ad-libs from the prompter. on the other, at the time it seemed terribly cool to be there, live, at her last concert. i think i'm kind of over her now :-)

Friday, May 04, 2007

french and saunders spoof sarah waters

thanks to scribegrrrl for presenting this youtube video and giving me a bit of friday fun :-)

yankees sweep texas

a-rod congratulates mo for saving the second game of yesterday's double-header.

i don't think of this as a sport blog, really i don't :-)
ok, i am a bit fanatical about qpr, but then that's more about religion than sport :-)
as for the yankees - i like posting pictures that show emotion.
meanwhile, my mother keeps reminding me that when i was a baby and we lived in nyc, we were mets fans!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

diana rigg chats to a times' fashionista

my father z"l was one of diana rigg's greatest fans, beginning with her role (and the leather catsuit she wore) as 'mrs peel' in 'the avengers'. he would also take my mother to see her whenever she appeared on the london stage. i sometimes wear the perfume bellodgia because that is apparently what she wore in those days and so my mother wore it sometimes and i liked it etc.

here is what dr had to say about that costume:

"The leather catsuit I wore in The Avengers was a total nightmare; it took a good 45 minutes to get unzipped to go to the loo. It was like struggling in and out of a wet-suit. Once I got into the jersey catsuits they were very easy to wear but you had to watch for baggy knees; there is nothing worse. I got a lot of very odd fan mail while I was in that show, but my mum used to enjoy replying to it. Some of the men who wrote to me must have been a bit startled because she would offer really motherly advice. I would get a letter from a teenage boy, say, who was overexcited and my mother would write back saying: “My daughter is far too old for you and what you really need is a good run around the block.”"

the whole article is here.

wally schirra r.i.p.

another one of the mercury seven is laid to rest. one of my greatest dreams was to go into space, but with my ears i can't even handle a transatlantic flight. i have, however, followed the space programme of the usa since i watched the last apollo rocket lift off from my grandparents' living room tv. well you know what i mean :-) i remember that it was delayed, and they decided to show the film 'to sir with love' and my grandmother said it was ok to watch it because 'lulu is a very nice girl'.

daily telegraph
bbc news
ny times
the times
the guardian

late at night she does another meme

via treppenwitz and his sister val i have just discovered shalom of jerusalem. she had this meme on her first page, and i liked it and here it is!

1. You have just been elected President of the United States. What are the first four things you would do in your new position?

a. i would bring our troops home
b. i would put the money saved from the war towards ending children's hunger in our own country
c. i would make alternative energy a number one priority
d. yes, shalom, definitely socialised medicine!

2. If you could live your life over, what one thing would you do differently?

i would have taken drawing lessons in my childhood

3. A Square Peg or A Round Hole, and why?

i am a square peg. can't help it. life is waaaay more difficult, but it teaches me more about relationship

4. Your very weathly Aunt has left you $100 million., with the caveat that you must build the house of your dreams anywhere in the world that your heart desires...Where would it be and what would it look like?

it would be on the oregon coastline. it would have a large deck that could be covered on rainy days so we could watch the waves and the seals. there would be a marvellous library below carved out of the rock, several guest rooms with their own bathrooms, all centred around a great hall with a fireplace and lots of comfy chairs and sofas.

5. Your wealthy Aunt also said: You may give a fabulous dinner party for 5 Famous people. But all of these famous people are no longer living....Who would your five Dream Dinner Guests be, and why?

a. madame de pompadour - the ultimate dream dinner guest for her charm, elegance, knowledge and great hostessing skills
b. douglas adams - for his humour and intelligence
c. eleanor roosevelt - i've always wanted to meet her :-)
d. katharine hepburn - as long as she and eleanor don't go off in a corner to compare notes
e. baruch spinoza - i'd like to hear the conversations he would have with the others

6. Dancer or Singer?

it is my dream one day to be able to dance without embarrassment. i can, however, sing in tune, albeit in a key in which nobody else is comfortable

7. Do you have a hidden talent that you wish you could pursue, and why?

back to the drawing - i think there may be hidden talent there, and i'd like to find it. i'm never going to be charles schulz or alison bechdel, but i'd love to feel able to start trying.

8. If you were told you had only six months to live, How would you spend them?

i would spend them with the people that i love, and i would eat as much chocolate as possible.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

kit kat daleks

i have been looking for this ad for months. all i have found so far is the following 7 seconds of the 30. the premise of this is a series of angry and nasty people mellowed by taking a break for a kit kat. as i recall it includes hardman footballer roy keane knitting in the dressing-room, and misogynist bernard manning doing the ironing. the evil daleks are shown roaming the shopping mall with the hare krishnas preaching peace and love. :-)

thursday thirteen xvii

Thirteen Famous Cats

1. Beerbohm the Theatre Cat
2. Huckle Cat
3. Mouschi from the Secret Annex
4. Macavity the Mystery Cat
5. Carbonel the King of the Cats
6. Catbert
7. Salem, the Teenage Witch's Cat
8. Kaspar of the Savoy Hotel
9. The Cheshire Cat
10. Spot (Data's Cat)
11. Scratchy (& Itchy)
12. Orlando the Marmalade Cat
13. Pluto the Black Cat

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

worst lyric of all time

marc riley on bbc6 is asking us to vote for the worst lyrics ever. read more about it on his web page taxing lyrical. meanwhile, here are some examples given online:

1. Spandau Ballet - Highly Strung
“She used to be a diplomat, But now she's down the Laundromat”

2. Des'ree - Life
"Ooh, I get the shivers,
I don't want to see a ghost,,
It's a sight that I fear most,
I'd rather have a piece of toast,
And watch the evening news."

3. ABC - That Was Then But This Is Now
"More Sacrifices than an Aztec priest,
Standing here straining at that leash,
All fall down,
Can't complain, mustn't grumble,
Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble"

4. Razorlight - Somewhere Else
"And I met a girl,
she asked me my name,
I told her what it was."

5. Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know?
"And firey demons all dance when you walk through that door,
Don't say you're easy on me you're about as easy as a nuclear war."

6. Toto - Africa
"The wild dogs cry out in the night,
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company,
I know that I must do what's right,
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti."

7. Elton John - Your Song
"If I was a sculptor
But then again, no"

8. Shakira - Whenever, Wherever
"Lucky that my breasts
Are small and humble
So you don't confuse
Them with mountains"

9. U2 - Staring at the Sun
"There's an insect
In your ear
If you scratch
It won't disappear"

10. Wings - Live and Let Die
"But in this ever-changing
world in which we live in ..."

it's kind of depressing that such things make millions of dollars. i can write at least as bad as that :-) oh bernie ...


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

front bottom

i've been meaning to link to this for some time now. it's an abstract for an article by harriet lerner called "Practicing`psychic genital mutilation,'" from which i learned an important revision that had to be made to my vocabulary. in her desire to raise "vulva consciousness", lerner reminds us that the name for exterior female genitalia is 'vulva', whereas 'vagina' is interior. thus, she was rather disappointed when going to see 'the vagina monologues' with her husband:

"Here was a play whose purpose was purportedly to restore pride in female genitals--including pride in naming--and it could not have been more confusing about genital reality."

i have to admit that i have always been a bit unsure which is the appropriate word to use at the appropriate time. it takes a burst of bravado to blurt one out (sorry, it's late, and i'm all out of bursts). lerner posits:

"The widespread denial of female external genitalia (and thus of female sexuality, if not female reality) is a subject worthy of serious discourse. It is true that Americans do not excise the clitoris and ablate the labia, as is practiced in other cultures on countless girls and women. Instead, we do the job linguistically-- psychic genital mutilation, if you will. Language can be as powerful and swift as the surgeon's knife. What is not named does not exist."

psychic genital mutilation. hmmmmm. sounds better than just being a terrible prude.

good on ya phil!

o my gosh the yanks win a game!
it's not been easy being a yankees fan at the moment. bottom of the division, trashed by the bosox, and no sign of halfway decent pitching even from the old heroes like mussina and pettitte.

well, the future prospect and star of the farm team, philip hughes, was on the mound tonight. he was into the 6th inning of a no-hitter in his second start when injury forced him from the field. yet still we won. hurrah. let's go yankees :-)