Friday, June 29, 2007

thinking of albert

i found these words today in a letter from elie wiesel:

"i see your father's face more often than when he was alive"

me too. i am talking about him so much during this first week of school. and, finally, some tears are beginning to fall out of my eyes.

you go mika!

msnbc newsreader Mika Brzezinski

the grauniad reports today about an incident on television last wednesday morning. mika brzezinski (daughter of former carter advisor zbigniew) refused to read a report on paris hilton's release from jail as the lead news item. she tried to burn the script and later, when it appeared again on her desk, she shredded it. the paper reports, however, that the moment may be a fake:

"... suspicions remain that Brzezinski's moment of madness was staged, although the worried reactions from her co-hosts when she attempted to set fire to the script on air suggests she wasn't acting."

o my goodness i do hope not. i saw the clip online and could not believe it was real in the sense that she would actually argue with the host and refuse to follow the director's orders. on the little island of my desk in a small room far away, a cheer went up for mika. ffs there is so much more important stuff that we need to be seeing. not to mention the behaviour of the men either side of her, who seemed to be auditioning for spike tv. go mika!

the zoo rabbi - natan slifkin

thanks to libby purves for pointing us to this article in the wall street journal.

here is the rabbi's website. the home page has a lovely video starting with him riding an elephant and both of them waving at us. he also gets nipped a little by an ostrich.

what's the big fuss? basically that as an orthodox rabbi, slifkin goes a bit too far with his acceptance of darwinian theories of evolution:

""Appreciating the role and rule of natural law is an essential prerequisite to appreciating the role and rule of the spiritual law of Torah," Rabbi Slifkin writes in "The Science of Torah.""

the site looks quite interesting to me - certainly worth remembering in times of procrastination.

ding dong farfour is dead

hamas' mickey mouse lookalike

yahoo reports that the mickey mouse character used to preach Hamas dogma on al aqsa tv has been killed off:

"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday. In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist." "Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added. The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa TV. Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

Israeli officials have denounced the program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas' rival."

i can only echo rodgers & hammerstein:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught


Thursday, June 28, 2007

she thinks it's all over ...

... she was wrong.

i saw michelle pfeiffer on youtube recently - a clip from an interview she did not so long ago. maybe it was on 'ellen' but i'm not sure. anyway, she came across as so terribly uninteresting, and i was sad to feel my ancient yen for her evaporate. however, just saw the above pic on a blog, and i realise that there are still embers of that fire smoldering within. i may be more ardent about ardant, but pfeiffer's publicist has certainly aged her well.

liz claiborne r.i.p.

god help me i am no fashion maven but there have been times such as job interviews and other occasions requiring clothing a bit dressier than my favourite jeans and hoodie when liz claiborne's designs have been a godsend. in sizes that fit and at prices i could afford rubenesque ravaj was able to dress appropriately thanks to her. may she rest in peace.

breaking news from the associated press as reported on yahoo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

the owl of learning (vi)

sowing in tears and reaping in joy comes to mind today. after much wailing and gnashing of teeth by ravaj on monday, conversations with teachers before the maths class led to an extremely unexpectedly enjoyable 3 hour lesson about bases. it's too boring to write about and i am too tired to try. suffice it to say that our teacher ended the session with a joke, and i got it. here it is for you:

there are 10 kinds of people in the world. those who understand binary systems, and those who do not.

what is wrong with this sentence?

from today's daily telegraph with regard to brits killed in the current flooding:

"The Queen and Tony Blair expressed their condolences to those who have lost their lives in the floods."

i am sure those people were honoured and comforted ?????

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

owl of learning (v)

the agony continues. tried to do my maths homework this evening. several fuses in my brain blew. let's put it this way. i decided i would rather walk in the drenching heat through unlit unknown boston streets in a new york yankees t-shirt than face the pages on my desk.

i guess i need to thank the yankee pitcher for walking home baltimore's winning run in the bottom of the ninth at camden yards. any red sock who saw me this evening would most likely either gloat or pity me, rather than bash me.


Monday, June 25, 2007

growing pain

my gorgeous adorable niece has started nursery school. she is only 15 months old, but the place was available and there she is. my mother tells me that the other kids are mostly bigger than she is, and recently one of them smacked her. she had never had that experience before in all of her 15 months, and was so startled, she did not know how to react. my first response upon hearing this was that i am going to get on a plane to berlin and find the child who did it and, well, you know ... of course my friends all pointed out that this is a first experience for her of how life is and can be. yes yes yes i know. but already? and how dare anyone touch my darling niece! and ... and ... and ... *sigh*

the joy of albert

my sister n. sent me this picture recently. on the 8th of july it will be 3 years already since our father died, and my thoughts are very much about him this week. i had never seen this picture before, and it makes me so happy and sad at the same time. i hope you enjoy it.

owl of learning (iv)

today was my first day of school. by the time i got home around 6:30 pm, i didn't know whether to cry, to go to bed for the night or to have a couple of margaritas. o dear! not that i am complaining - it was an experience - i just did not realise how difficult it was going to be :-)

ok - we began with a 3-hour mathematics lesson. since we will have to teach elementary maths, we have to learn it also. i was good at maths when i was at school. on the other hand, the last time i did maths in school was 27 years ago, before two-thirds of the class was born.

shouldn't be a problem. i am intelligent. i can be taught this. i can learn it. and then 15 minutes into the class i am looking at the teacher and she is speaking and i am sure she is speaking swahili and i do not speak swahili. i am ready to cry. i tell her that i think she is speaking swahili. she tries to explain again, and i am not brave enough to tell her i still do not understand. my brain shuts down, and i start building towers out of the little plastik blocks she has given us to help work out problems about eric the sheep.

ok so i am humbled because i can honestly say that i do not recall ever feeling so incompetent and incapable and frustrated and stupid and hopeless. also, i can now empathise with anyone who ever feels like that in a class i may be teaching. i told her i had never felt like this before, and she said then either i must be really brilliant or ... i hastened to make the case against being very brilliant and explained how i had always avoided anything i didn't like in school. i did not say that these were things like biology, swimming and italian. it did not seem relevant.

now i feel like i was hit by a brick. i do sudoku every night, and get quite a lot of the fiendish ones from the times she said plaintively. ah well, 'twas only the first day. i have tear stains on my shirt, but tomorrow i shall wear another shirt. and the introduction to reading torah in the afternoon was enjoyable and more in my comfort zone, so i had time to recover. a bit.

i may return to this subject. probably tomorrow evening in the middle of trying to do the maths homework!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

not to mention dawn french

tracey ullman & dawn french

this pic is from the same series as the previous one, and reminded me how much i adore dawn french. i have adored her from the beginning, yet still get ticked off when people say to me, "o you must LOVE 'the vicar of dibley'!" my standard reply is something along the lines of "why on earth would i find any connection with a comedy about a rubenesque female clergyperson's adventures in a rural congregation?" of course i am no longer living in the shenandoah valley, so the response may have become a little more obscure. also, i do happen to love that programme :-) but that is not the point!

anyway, i consider ms french to be a genius of my generation. despite her zaftig physical presence, when she is acting, she becomes the character whether it is tall or short, thin or fat, male or female, black or white. brilliant. i believe that laughter is one of the greatest gifts, and i love her for making me laugh.

ok, am a bit dizzy from the adulating. time to go to bed perhaps ...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

sandra bernhard made me laugh

just got "everything bad and beautiful" by sandra bernhard. some of it is a bit weird, and some nearly made me wee from laughing. my favourite line is about britney spears:

"britney, or as we affectionately call her, 'batya', is one of our foremost aramaic scholars."

i guess that one is weird and also wee-ful.

a little bit of a jerusalem pride report

see for full details. bits and bobs include:

"A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man carrying what police called "a homemade explosive device" was arrested before the parade's kickoff, and city officials forced the cancellation of a planned post-parade Pride rally, citing a slow-down strike by firefighters."

"Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service said in a statement it was preparing an "unprecedented operation," readying 200 medics, 45 ambulances, 11 mobile intensive care units and a field command center. Additional medics and ambulances were on standby, the statement said. THEY WERE NOT NEEDED (my capitalisation)."

"Noa Satat, chairwoman of parade organizers Jerusalem Open House, told Reuters: "We are thrilled to be here today, celebrating our freedom of speech in the center of Jerusalem.""

see also jewlicious
pix from the parade at critical-humanism
jerusalem pride photos on flickr

piglet gets around

piglet in newton

this is the house of our friend betsy. she goes by another name now, but when she came to london to stay with us when she was younger, that is how we knew her. the picture was taken when i came to boston and stayed with her when i was younger, well, about a month younger than i am now :-) i absolutely love her house.

Friday, June 22, 2007

the owl of learning (iii)

one of the things about starting in a new anything is the issue of coming out. again. today was the first classroom interaction for my cohort of fellows. we were to share our 'jewish journey'. we were to trace our paths to this day. i made a megilla (small scroll) of photographs. i lined up 18 pictures from various stages of my life so far. in the middle, i included a photo of dbl & myself with the caption 'first love'. i planned to preface the photograph with a bit of a warning, i.e., don't want to be in your face but this is part of it all. anyway, we got split into two groups, and i was in the group without the women i had identified as more traditional (wearing a sheitl was a bit of a clue). i presented my journey to my table, and i think the megilla went down well. i wish, however, that we had all been listening together. that way, if there is to be rejection, it would be less in my face. now i have, or not, to do this individually as the time passes by. *sigh* que sera sera, etc.

julie burchill to study theology

julie burchill is going for a degree in theology? cue goggling eyes bouncing out of sockets on springs. in my early teens, she was the coolest woman alive, writing for the nme about music, mostly punk i think. she's 3 or 4 years older than i am, and was always rather outspoken. that last statement by me might be said to be a massive understatement. under the title of 'queen of spleen: the acid tongue of julie burchill', the independent has a few quotes from her here. my favourite is:

"On those who read her columns: 'Readers are invited to come and spit at me. I will, of course, welcome the attention'."

of course i have nothing against studying theology. several members of my family have done this. it is just surprising that an iconoclast such as she is/was would take the time to do it. none of the articles i have read so far go into much detail with regard to explaining her motivation. the best i can find is in the grauniad, where she describes her conversion to xianity:

" 'One moment I was sitting there on my Bloomsbury sofa, flicking through Time Out, idly wondering whose life to ruin next, and the next moment it was as if a mighty hand had broken - painlessly, patiently, purposefully - a huge jar of ointment over my head' "

if you are interested in reading a more recent interview, this article may do it for you.

i guess one does get burned out being an iconoclast. most of the articles today quote burchill as saying that after 30 years it is time for a rest. she also has a gouty foot. so this may be a really good choice for her. i shall, however, miss her angry prose.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

the owl of learning (ii)

a second foray onto campus today, to merge deeper within the system by getting a student id card; and to charm the nurse practitioner into writing out some prescriptions for me by revealing my innermost medical secrets (will anyone tell me how to fill the little plastic cup without making at least a bit of a mess?). since my visit to the health centre was to be a brief one, the policewoman on guard at the construction site allowed me to park behind the traffic cones. when i was done, i drove away, and was immediately flagged down. apparently my car had invited one of the cones to continue the journey with us. so embarrassing. is this a driving equivalent of leaving the bathroom with toilet tissue stuck to one's shoe?

cheesed off

a bit of a cheese war is looming in france sez the ny times.

on the one hand we have the french artisan: “Camembert that is not made with raw milk may be cheese, but it’s not real Camembert,” said Mr. Durand, who took over the family farm when he was only 19 and has run it for 26 years. “To not know a real raw milk Camembert — what a loss that would be. The variety, the diversity, the flavor of cheese — the very heritage of our country — will disappear.”"

on the other hand there is the american expert: "In New York, Steven Jenkins, a cheese expert and senior manager of the Fairway markets, praises the Lactalis Camembert made with treated milk, and sold at Fairway under the label Le Châtelain, as “something awfully darned good.”"

the thing is - the big dairy producers in france treat the milk, for health reasons they say. that is not the problem, though. the issue is that the big dairy producers want the rules to be changed so that their faux camembert may be certified as authentic.

the full story is here. this is a big deal in france. really it is. and my aunt lives in wisconsin, so naturally i was drawn to this story ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

my latest crush ...

fanny ardant

unlike ms snarker, i do not have the discipline to limit my crushes to the weekend. they come when they come. currently, i swoon at the sight of fanny ardant. most swoon-worthy, her rita hayworth/gilda dance in '8 women':

the owl of learning (i)

ollie the brandeis owl

while the brandeis (american) football team appears to be called 'the judges', i like the owl, named after oliver wendell holmes jr.. l & i went to the campus bookstore, to check out the prices of our textbooks vs the ones she had just ordered from amazon, and for me the aged freshman geek to buy t-shirts for all the family:

it was a fine and sunny day. we applied for parking permits, and checked in at the health centre, where i discovered that my port woebegone doctor had sent in a shoddy report. i was immediately scheduled for tetanus and hepatitis b shots, one in each arm for balance, and ordered to return after lunch to be jabbed.

duly jabbed, we headed for target, and plastic storage bins to deal with the lack of shelving in my room. this evening, the place is almost habitable. almost. not invite-somebody-over tidy. more kind of i-can-see-the-floor-and-sleep-on-the-bed tidy. this is a big change from yesterday. hurrah for plastic!

10 commandments for the road

the vatican office for migrants and itinerant people has issued a list of ten commandments for drivers. the list appears in a 36-page document called "guidelines for the pastoral care of the road." a report by nicole winfield of the associated press states:

"(the document) warned about the effects of road rage, saying driving can bring out "primitive" behavior in motorists, including "impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code." It urged motorists to obey traffic regulations, drive with a moral sense, and to pray when behind the wheel."

here are the commandments:

1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.

as i've said before, i think cars induce the ultimate in egotistical behaviour. we sit in our own personal space, shut off from all around us. we control the air, the sound and the speed. we relate to other cars only insofar as they affect our own progress, i.e., get out of my way, you are going too slowly, how dare you cut in in front of me, etc.

the only quibble i have with this list is #9. who or what is the vulnerable party? the policeman in westchester told me that i must always hit the animal rather than swerve. last time i didn't, i ended up with my car stuck 4ft in the air in the branches of a tree. but the creature was alive, and so was i, and the car got mended. hmmmmm .....

Monday, June 18, 2007

ica piglet

piglet is such a culture vulture. no sooner do we land in the boston area than he must go visit the local repository for contemporary art. here he is observing ravaj enjoying the view.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

boston, bourgeois and being there

"maman" by louise bourgeois

so i made it! exhaustion seems quite energetic compared to how d and i felt today. it took about 8 hours to load the truck in the end, mainly because i was still packing as we were loading. the traffic was terrible everywhere, and we reached waltham around 10 pm. we spent the night in the home of d & t, d being my d's ex. lesbians have interesting relationships y'know ...

i am now sitting in my new room surrounded by the corpses of unpacking - torn bin-liners* and half-empty boxes. much to do, but it cannot be done now since i just got online for the first time since thursday. but i am here, and my new life has begun. hurrah.

meanwhile, what's with the spider up top is that after d & i dropped my d off at the station to go back to nyc, we went to the ica. o dear - too many initials, especially without punctuation, are a sure path to reading-enteritis. sorry. there was an exhibition of louise bourgeois (a name new to me) that d wanted to see and so we went. one room was full with this gigantic spider. i thought it would be lovely to put a table underneath it and hold a dinner party there. it was my favourite sculpture, and when i googled the artist i found this link on the bbc.

and the yankees are beating the mets. a great first full day here at #72a.

* translation = garbage bags

Thursday, June 14, 2007

thursday thirteen xix

Thirteen Things about Movers and Moving

today the movers came to take the stuff i am sending to live in some containers for a while. what is left behind must be crammed by me and d. into a van and my car so we can drive off tomorrow and say goodbye to port woebegone. here are some thoughts about this morning's experience.

1. the sound of the sofa being shrink-wrapped makes a peacock sound lyrical.
2. movers may look scrawny but they are bloody strong!
3. why did i not start packing earlier? i did?
4. there are enough tins of garbanzo beans in my cupboard to survive a (short) war.
5. movers get first dibs on your kerbside castaways.
6. why are all my dust bunnies purple?
7. i didn't realise that i had so many cd's/books/paperclips
8. ultra-sticky wrapping tape dances to the tune of the moving men
9. what do i do now there's nothing to sit on?
10. just found what used to be my favourite shirt!
11. by the end you chuck out anything that does not fit in a box. (the neighbour's cat is missing)
12. when the movers have gone, you find a whole lot of other stuff that should have gone with them.
13. it is only when the movers have gone that you realise your favourite sex toy was drying off right next to the sink where they washed their hands.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

circle line piglet

the other day, we were invited to join our friends from stuttgart on the famous boat trip around the island of manhattan. since it was *ahem* c. 30 years since ravaj had taken that trip (of course she was practically a foetus at that time!), we were delighted to go. the view of the skyline without the towers is still unfamiliar and feels unfinished. here piglet takes a moment to think and remember:

our friends had never been to the usa before, and it was fascinating to hear their takes on the scenes and the commentary of the guide. in a nutshell, they commented that, according to our guide, everything was the largest or the highest or the oldest or the best in the country, if not in the world. they felt that was neither interesting or useful information for a guide to share. we all felt he talked too much about baseball, although for me it was mainly because he kept talking about the pittsburgh pirates instead of my beloved yankees. when we first caught sight of the house that ruth built, a few of us cheered. quite loudly.

anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon for a boat ride, and when we were decanted back at the pier we went back to the east village for a lovely dinner. piglet had a good time also, for this was his first circle. here you see him with a friend he made on the boat:

o poo - can anyone tell me how to rotate this pic in blogger? my desktop won't let me save it rotated! sorry about this ... they look cuter together when you don't have to crick your neck to see them!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

o the solutions that can be found!

an incredible story i read in the times today ... a five-year-old girl who was badly burned at 2 will soon have her bald patch fixed with the help of a balloon!

plastic surgeons implanted a balloon under a healthy bit of her scalp, and slowly filled it with gel over a period of months, so the skin - with healthy hair growing from it - will stretch and stretch. for now, the poor kid has to walk around looking like zaphod beeblebrox, but when there is enough extra skin, the surgeons will graft it onto the bald patch. brilliant!

"Her mother said: “We can’t wait to see the finished result. Hopefully she will have a lovely full head of hair. But whatever happens, we think she is very beautiful.”"

read the article here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

i need a change of mood ...

... aaaaah, that's better.

one year when i was confined to my forest green recliner for a few weeks with a herniated disk and a lot of percoset (is that the pain-killer, or some kind of new nato missile?), i discovered reruns of 'la femme nikita' on tv. two episodes a day for all that time was enough to ensnare me, and eventually i managed to watch every ep of every series.

that is my excuse for owning a dvd of the film the league of extraordinary gentlemen, which includes ms wilson as mina harker and also the moment when she turns to all the other male heroes during a chase scene and tells them to back off because "these men are mine!"

jerusalem pride latest

yahoo/planet out/ report:

"A group of ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews is attempting to thwart a gay rights rally in Jerusalem, planned for June 21, by placing a curse on Pride participants. The group is also promising a huge anti-Pride rally. A group of rabbis from the Eda Haredit sect published a warning Sunday saying, "To all those involved, sinners in spirit, and whoever helps and protects them, may they feel a curse on their souls, may it plague them and may evil pursue them; they will not be requited of their transgressions from heavenly judgment." The letter further threatened: "Know what happened to the evil persons who were cursed, and thus feel in your souls that your end will be bitter."

Last year's festivities were marred by members of the Haredi sect, who created a massive uproar, blocking roads, setting trash bins on fire and throwing rocks at police. The Pride parade was canceled and a rally held instead in a heavily guarded sports stadium. In 2005, a member of the sect stabbed three Pride participants.

Although this year's parade has preliminary approval, it is still possible for authorities to halt the controversial event. Pride organizers Jerusalem Open House plan to take the decision to Israel's High Court of Justice if the parade is banned. "The Orthodox curses and their refusal to commit to non-violence prove that this is not just a Pride parade but a fight for Israeli democracy, freedom of expression and for the capital city, which is everyone's city," said Noa Satat, head of Jerusalem Open House. "We call on the mayor and prime minister to immediately condemn the threats of violence and protect democracy in this country." (Hassan Mirza, U.K.)"

another naive comment from ravaj - i just don't get why violence is considered an appropriate response to that with which one does not agree. less naively perhaps, i also say that if olam haba/the next world aka a jewish view of heaven is going to be full of these haredim then i am quite happy not to be joining them and look forward to eternity with those i love and who love me wherever else that may be.

finally, if you are looking for a good curse, my favourite is:

May You Be Like A Chandelier!

(thgin lla nrub dna yad lla gnah)

suicide by cop?

look at this photograph. what do you see? a person. as you try to identify her/him, what clues can you find? first of all i see the rainbow logo on the cap with the slogan 'pride'. next i see the glasses that look protective, rather than ocular. earphones that muffle sound? perhaps someone at a shooting range? i cannot see the eyes, this person is a cypher.

the daily mail published this photograph today with the caption "Ann Sanderson, who was shot by police in Sevenoaks, had a history of mental illness". call me paranoid, but however unintentionally it may have been, i see this as perpetuating negative associations with the g/l/b/t community.

sanderson is the first woman to be shot dead by police in britain. the mail suggests that in her madness, sanderson may have been consciously seeking death. of course, this is the daily mail speaking. i just wonder if it is not possible for trained police marksmen/women to shoot to maim, rather than kill?

deux femmes

jumping from one url to another, starting, i think with scribegrrl re kyra sedgewick, via helen mirren and other older gorgeous women, i ended up here:

my french isn't good enough to get it all, even if catherine deneuve wasn't talking at the speed of light. luckily for us all, the cameraperson kept both women in shot much of the time. the thing is, pardon me for objectifying, but i can sit here for all 9 minutes just looking and enjoying their presence. excuse me for a while, there is something i have to do now ...

Monday, June 11, 2007

unanswerable questions

anita on bbc radio five live just now has been asking listeners to send in unanswerable questions. here are a few that caught my ear:

why isn't 'phonetic' spelt the way it sounds?

why do kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

what did we get back to before we had drawing-boards?

if you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, can you be whelmed? (i like this one a lot)

if you choke a smurf, what colour will it turn? (a listener texted in to say that since smurfettes blush, the smurf would turn purple)

who put an 's' in 'lisp?

finally, in response to the statement that there is no word that rhymes with 'orange', a listener directed us to abergavenny where may be found the blorenge mountain. i don't know, i think you need to say them both in a welsh accent ...

britain's 50 best days out

the times presents 50 wonderful things to do in the british isles, rather than swan off abroad.

"the British Isles are at their best in summer, and it’s plain daft to clear off just when the party’s in full swing. We’ve chosen 50 of our personal summer favourites: we may be wilfully subjective and wildly opinionated, but we reckon they’re the best of their kind – and each is another reason why the best holiday in Europe is right on your doorstep."

my personal favourite? number eleven:


the website is here

Sunday, June 10, 2007

mazal tov jennifer!

jennifer ehle wins the tony award for best featured actress in a drama (the coast of utopia by tom stoppard)

that's it, really :-)
i didn't see the play.

so what's this all about?
my sister is friends with her.
and i love her mother and father (we used to be neighbours).
no kudos by association.
nevertheless, mazal tov and hurrah for jennifer!

happy endings

lewis hamilton has won his first grand prix

i'm sorry, but i am a sucker for happy endings as well as the underdog. lewis hamilton, aged 22, has become the first black driver to win a formula one grand prix. he has been on the podium in all six of his races, but today he started from the pole position and ended up with the chequered flag.

i'm not usually into motor racing, but always kept an eye on it because my father enjoyed it. i think he would have cried a little if he had seen this race.

if you are interested in knowing any more about what happened, here are the links to the morning papers in the uk:

the telegraph
the bbc online
the times
the independent
and then there's the daily mail


my favourite building in the world

spent last week going into the city to say goodbye to friends, but it didn't seem real that i was about to leave my beloved nyc to move to boston of all places. i've been warned not to wear my yankees t-shirts, ESPECIALLY any referring to johnny damon. also, i should remove the yankee cap from my car window if i want the window to remain whole. still surrounded by an ineluctable procession of cardboard boxes, all i can think is that if i am supposed to give up bagels for health reasons (massive carb reduction necessary for blood sugar levels), moving 200 miles from new york seems a bit drastic.


anyway, even if i lived on the same street as the chrysler building for the rest of my life, i have to tell you that each time i see it i get this nanosecond of joy and a goofy grin.

" ... (the chrysler building) became the star of the New York skyline, thanks above all to its crowning peak. In a deliberate strategy of myth generation, Van Alen planned a dramatic moment of revelation: the entire seven-storey pinnacle, complete with special-steel facing, was first assembled inside the building, and then hoisted into position through the roof opening and anchored on top in just one and a half hours. All of a sudden it was there—a sensational fait accompli."

— Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. p209."

enough with the adulation - back to the boxes.

falwell's flaws

pandagon links to an online article by max blumenthal in the nation with regard to the history of falwell's attitudes and their roots. blumenthal states that while today the xian right is involved in sexual politics, e.g., anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality, its origins lie in segregationism and racial resentment. in blumenthal's own words:

"But for Falwell, the "questions of the day" did not always relate to abortion and homosexuality--nor did they begin there. Decades before the forces that now make up the Christian right declared their culture war, Falwell was a rabid segregationist who railed against the civil rights movement from the pulpit of the abandoned backwater bottling plant he converted into Thomas Road Baptist Church. This opening episode of Falwell's life, studiously overlooked by his friends, naïvely unacknowledged by many of his chroniclers, and puzzlingly and glaringly omitted in the obituaries of the Washington Post and New York Times, is essential to understanding his historical significance in galvanizing the Christian right. Indeed, it was race--not abortion or the attendant suite of so-called "values" issues--that propelled Falwell and his evangelical allies into political activism."

read the article for the full story. i am a bit shocked about my ignorance in this area. i am not so shocked about the bottom-kissing of the republican presidential candidates as noted by blumenthal:

"On the day of Falwell's death, Republican presidential frontrunners fell over one another to memorialize him. Arizona Senator John McCain, who in the 2000 presidential campaign had called Falwell an "agent of intolerance," then spoke at the 2006 graduation ceremony at Liberty University, praising Falwell as "a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor whose Mormon faith is listed as a cult by Falwell's Southern Baptist Convention, hailed him as "an American who built and led a movement based on strong principles and strong faith.... The legacy of his important work will continue through his many ministries where he put his faith into action."

Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married prochoice former New York City mayor, gay rights advocate and erstwhile cross-dresser, was also profuse in his praise of Falwell. "He was a man who set a direction," Giuliani said. "He was someone who was not afraid to speak his mind. We all have great respect for him.""

Friday, June 08, 2007

a-rod again!

mariano rivera & alex rodriguez celebrate a win last night against the white sox. a-rod broke the game open with a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning, helping manager joe torre to his 2000th victory as a manager. much joy was felt all around.

this has been another sport-related post brought to you by the procrastinating packer who should be in the other room with her heavy-duty markers and rolls of packing tape.

robot teddy bear

yesterday, the telegraph presented a story about a new robot designed in the usa. the headlines called it a "new us weapon". however, the article highlights its ability to carry a wounded serviceman from the battlefield.

read about the bear, aka Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, here.

the bbc report emphasises the rescuing ability of the bear, here. this includes the following quote:

"Gary Gilbert, from the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Centre in Frederick, Maryland, said that the teddy bear appearance was deliberate. "A really important thing when you're dealing with casualties is trying to maintain that human touch.""

finally, time magazine's best inventions of 2006.

bad moon rising

from the times last wednesday:

"I see a bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way
by Michael Horsnell

Extra police officers are to be deployed on the streets this summer after research established a direct link between the full moon and violence. Analysts at Sussex Police found a rise in unruly incidents at full moon while investigating external factors that influence people’s behaviour. Together with the most common paydays, the full moon was identified as a particular time when aggressive behaviour rose among drinkers in pubs and nightclubs in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex.

Inspector Andy Parr ... admitted that the idea might sound fanciful, but he added: “There are many things we are still learning about. The Moon has a strong influence on tides and magnetic forces can influence people’s psyche.”

In 1998 a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates in the maximum security wing at Armley jail, Leeds, discovered a rise in violent incidents in the days before and after a full moon.

Superstitions involving the Moon can be traced back centuries. In the 17th century, Sir William Hale, the Chief Justice, was explicit about the connection between the Moon and a person’s mental state: “The Moon has great influence on all diseases of the brain, especially dementia.” As well as madness, the full moon was associated with lycanthropy, in which a man becomes a werewolf. People are also more likely to be or to feel ill. Research at Leeds University found that the number of requests for GP consultations rose by 3.6 per cent when the moon was full.

But for all the studies that claim to have found a link between the lunar cycle and human behaviour, no one has been able to explain it. Some believe that, as humans are mostly made of water, lunar gravity pulls us in the same way as it does the sea.

The next full moon is on June 30."

i am definitely drawn to the idea that because we are mostly made of water, lunar gravity creates tides within us!

article by 2 toronto psychiatrists
google list of books on full moon & human behaviour

Thursday, June 07, 2007

andorra 0-2 israel

roberto colautti scores for israel in their european championship match against andorra yesterday. who would believe that israel is above the (not so) mighty england in the table today? who would believe a game would be played in the weather conditions depicted above?

nu - as we all know, i am a super fan of football, english football in particular and especially my beloved queens park rangers. the question has been asked, and i may have answered it before, when israel play england for which team do i cheer? was thinking about it again today.

a. i've always been brought up to root for the underdog, so it would have to be israel.

b. if i were living in england, it might invoke some antisemitism amongst people with whom i have to live and work if i cheered for israel, so it would have to be england.

c. or not.

d. living in america, where in the north at least nobody really cares, i don't have to worry about other people's reactions, thus it could and would be israel.

e. israel picks some arab players also, e.g. walid badir & salim tuama, so i can cheer for one place at least where people work together without fear and terror.

liberty island yesterday afternoon

accidentally found myself on the circle line and did not have my camera but did happen to have piglet.

this is a pic taken with the phone for which i really missed having proper equipment. nevertheless, i hope it gives a sense of what a lovely afternoon it was. more later with piglet, but for now i got so much sun on my head that i must go lie down ...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

aloysius to return in brideshead movie?

reuters reports today that aloysius bear, who starred in the 1981 television version of evelyn waugh's 'brideshead revisited', may yet make a cameo appearance in the film version currently in production.

read about it here.

while andrew davies, one of the scriptwriters, announced that there would be no bear in the remake; his colleague/successor?, jeremy brock, stated:

""Aloysius does make an appearance in the film, a subtle performance full of quiet authority which seems to hint at his master's latent immaturity without ever resorting to teddy-bear stereotypes.""

separated at birth?



fungus the bogeyman

you be the judge!

presented by the raymond briggs and ursula k leguin 'i thought of it first' society for the preservation of acknowledgements

knut was cute

just a few months ago, knut the polar bear cub, rejected by his mother and hand-reared by a keeper at the berlin zoo, well, he ruled germany.

now knut is six months old and getting a bit long in the tooth. soon he will just be a regular ole polar bear, and the zoo will have to decide what to do with him. ah me, the ongoing saga of life after being a child star. rest peacefully dear knut.

rutka laskier's diary

reports are coming in of the discovery of the diary of a 14-year-old polish girl called rutka laskier. it was written in early 1943 in the bedzin ghetto, and is being touted as the story of the 'polish anne frank'.

yahoo offers the associated press story here.

"I simply can't believe that one day I will be allowed to leave this house without the yellow star. Or even that this war will end one day. If this happens I will probably lose my mind from joy," she wrote on Feb. 5, 1943. "The little faith I used to have has been completely shattered. If God existed, He would have certainly not permitted that human beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of little toddlers be smashed with gun butts or shoved into sacks and gassed to death."

Monday, June 04, 2007

great news from oz!

m from melbourne just posted this press release on the dayenu list.

while the 2000 ccar resolution at the convention in greensboro ended up terribly watered down from the original version presented by the women's rabbinic network, it was still the first, and ground-breaking, step. having been present at the sydney mardi gras celebration also in 2000, which marked the first time g/l/b/t jews had come out in the parade as jews, i am thrilled to see this step taking place in oz. i was invited to the parade because at that time there was no other rabbi in the country able or willing to march. things are so different now. hip hip hurrah!

being interviewed for israeli tv before the parade. front & left is the back of the amazing woman who brought me over with her air miles and put me up at her house for a week.

pink jerusalem protested

first, there was the campaign to attract the pink dollars to jerusalem. now, yediot achronot reports the backlash. today, the deputy prime minister, eli yishai, said:

"I unequivocally reject the attempt to focus a state-sponsored campaign on a delusional minority that suffers from a normative defect. Jerusalem and Amsterdam are the same for these people. Therefore, those who fail to recognize Jerusalem's holiness had better stay away from it."

the tourism minister, yitzhak aharonovitch, responded by saying it was all his predecessor's idea, and his office would not support the campaign in the future.

etc, etc. read the comments, if you can bear to ...

my only complaint is that all the promo pictures they showed were of gay men. aren't there any pink women in jerusalem?

seriously, though, while i like the idea of being welcoming, it appears to have been done in a rather *ahem* hamfisted way.

yankees take a series at fenway

robbie & melky celebrate

0-2 down in the count with 2 out and facing the redoubtable red sox closer jonathan papelbon, a-rod stepped up with a home run to win the game and take the series 2-1.

i should go out and not watch the game more often!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

a couple of updates ...

in the news this weekend:

bob woolmer NOT murdered

the telegraph says: "The family and friends of Bob Woolmer are "greatly relieved" after learning that detectives now believe the cricket coach died from natural causes. Following a 2½-month "murder inquiry" into their "revelations" that Mr Woolmer, 58, was poisoned and strangled during the Cricket World Cup, police in Jamaica are preparing to this week make a humiliating U-turn. A review of the case by Scotland Yard, using a Home Office pathologist, is understood to have concluded that Mr Woolmer died from heart failure and that the broken bone in his neck was caused by his subsequent heavy fall. His widow, Gill, and their two grown-up sons are understood to have cautiously welcomed the news."

no legume litigation for hugh

The actor won't be prosecuted for allegedly hurling baked beans at a photographer, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said Friday. Grant, who also will not face charges for allegedly kicking the photographer, was arrested following the clash on April 24. "We have advised the police that there is insufficient evidence to charge Hugh Grant with any offense in relation to an allegation that he kicked a photographer," said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. "This is because there were clear discrepancies between the accounts of independent witnesses and those of the photographers involved," she said. "In relation to a second allegation involving a takeaway food container, the CPS decided that a prosecution would not be in the public interest."

random moment

friday night, three o'clock in the morning, standing in astor place. i am with two new friends, a football-loving brazilian jew from sao paolo, and her g/f, a ladino-music-loving serbian jew from beograd. we are surrounded by the orange street light of the night, and are trying to remember our favourite versions of the kabbalat shabbat song 'lecha dodi'.

who shall be the next surgeon general?

majikthise, aka lindsay beyerstein, posts on nominee james w holsinger here

holsinger is the founder of hope springs community church. their website includes notice of a recovery group for men:

"Men’s Sexual Integrity: Offers an opportunity for men to heal from sexual brokenness and find strength to overcome unhealthy sexual behaviors in a safe and confidential environment. Find the support and accountability you need and develop a closer relationship with the one who can heal, Jesus Christ."

using the site's search engine, it provided no results for the words 'homosexuality', 'gay', 'lesbian', 'sex', or 'sexual'. on the other hand, that doesn't seem right because of the above recovery group.

on the other hand, the lexington herald-leader in kentucky has this article online which includes this quote from a fellow minister of holsinger:

"Hope Springs also ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian, Calhoun said. "We see that as an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle," he said. "We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle." On this point, the church would differ with many gays and lesbians, who consider their sexuality a matter of identity, not a lifestyle choice."

holsinger is the man nominated for the post of surgeon general? a plethora of curses seeks exit from my lips

instead, fyi, for non-hgttg aficionados, what is 'majikthise'? wiki tells us:

"Majikthise and Vroomfondel are philosophers, though they may not be. They make their appearance as representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and other Professional Thinking Persons in order to protest a demarcation dispute against the Deep Thought computer being asked to determine the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Through contemporary satirical industrial relations references they maintain that the search for ultimate truth is the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers."

*sigh* as ever, missing douglas adams.