Tuesday, July 31, 2007

michaelangelo antonioni r.i.p.

is it something in the air? another movie, sorry, cinema great bites the dust. ravaj's mother wrote her the other day and suggested that in her day people who were bergman fans were a bit pretentious. ravaj came to bergman via woody allen and liv ullmann *sigh*. i guess antonioni is up there with bergman, in many senses of the phrase. nu - read more about him if you are interested:

yahoo obit
bbc online
ny times obit and appreciation
grauniad obit

Monday, July 30, 2007

another way to see the aleph-bet

my cousin in colorado just sent me these j-pegs: they show how all the letters in the hebrew alphabet can be seen in the shape of the magen david (star of david, sometimes called the jewish star). although there are a couple with which i may quibble, i still think it's pretty cool :-)

ingmar bergman r.i.p.

ingmar bergman is dead. was he the greatest film-maker ever? he was certainly the most depressing ever. here's what liv ullmann had to say about him a couple of years ago:

"Saraband is autobiographical in that Bergman had a son who died before they got to make up. That was horrible for him. You would think this film would be everything he would like to say - I love you, I care for you, etc - but in the film it's still as if they can't talk. That is very brave. He is saying this is who I am; this is my music and I am going to play it again and again. I am sure that much of the film has to do with the wife, Ingrid van Rosen, whom he lost 10 years ago, but also it has to do with the idea that for some people, the easiest person to love is someone who has gone. But the picture of the dead wife in the film is not of Ingrid. It's a lady who works in costumes.

When shooting on Saraband was over, Bergman said goodbye and went to his island. That was two years ago. He lives there absolutely completely alone. I was there a month ago for a few days. Some of his children come there in the summer, but he doesn't have visitors. He listens to music and reads books. We made Scenes From a Marriage 30 years ago in a stable he had made into a studio. Now, he has made that into a cinema. He gets all the films sent there. He sits there with this woman who keeps cows and horses showing her films. Every new film. He knows everything that is being made.

When I was directing Faithless, Erland Josephson and I made a little video film for fun about our characters from Scenes From a Marriage. We sent it to him, and I think that's when he had the idea to use the same characters again. But Saraband is not Scenes From a Marriage 30 years on. And I don't think it belongs to Faithless, which was a much more forgiving film. Saraband is a film that does not forgive."

independent online
telegraph obit
the times
grauniad obit
pages of tribute from the grauniad

and the prize for the best headline: bergman loses chess match
goes to the yahoo entertainment page.

my favourite moment of my favourite film: the aforementioned chess match. the knight is playing death at chess. he becomes pretty sure he is going to lose, and 'accidentally' knocks the board over so all the pieces fall to the floor. death says not to worry, because he remembers where all the pieces were!

girl guides in the 21st century

sarah vine, co-author of 'the great big glorious book for girls', writes in the times today about the things that young girls need and want to know these days in order to live safe and healthy lives. she is responding to a survey by girlguiding uk called girls shout out! it presents the opinions of over 3,200 girls in guiding, aged from five to 25, on the issues shaping the lives of their generation. it is a bit too large to summarise here, but do go have a look.

i never wanted to be a brownie - my sister was, and would get badges for making sandwiches and emptying the dishwasher. i wanted to be a cub scout, and have a penknife and learn how to survive in the forest. guiding sounds a lot more interesting these days, and i understand that, contrary to the boy scouts, they do not discriminate regarding sexual orientation. hurrah!


Girls of a superior position should read everything and be well up in every matter upon which we give instruction. For girls of a less high position, there are papers on economical cookery, plain needlework, home education and health.

The Girl’s Own Paper, 1880

When you intend to call on someone, try to write or telephone first. It is perfectly all right, however, to call without warning if you are inquiring after the health of someone who is ill, but do not expect to be asked in.

The Girls’ Handbook, 1966

Once upon a time being beautiful meant having a set sort of good looks, measurements that fitted the fashionable pattern. But not any more! If you aren’t as beautiful as you’d like to be . . . maybe it’s your own fault!

Jackie, 1971

Be a love-witch! When you want to get a guy, it’s no use leaving things to luck! You’ve gotta get fate firmly on you side. Bewitch a boy – and make him yours for ever!

My Guy, 1978

To smooth away the odd bulge under a closely fitting skirt, a very light pantie girdle should be quite adequate.

The Girls Handbook, 1981"

i remember jackie! somebody would bring it into school so we could read 'cathy and claire' on the problem page. they answered questions about things that we never thought about asking, and were fascinated to learn.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

the owl of learning goes on holiday for a bit

the summer programme has ended. the mother of ravaj is pleased that despite the summer, ravaj still spells 'programme' correctly. everyone else wants to know - did you enjoy it?

'enjoy' is not the word to use. when you change everything - leave a profession, a home, a relationship - and start afresh, it is difficult and lonely. that doesn't mean it was a mistake. that means that it takes time to regroup and rebuild. i am glad to be learning again. i am glad to be studying towards a goal. i am glad i have stopped crying in school (well, mostly!).

i am also very tired. i have worked hard. i am very impatient, especially with the younger members of my class. this is totally unfair to them as i have an extra 20 years of experience upon which to draw. i need a vacation. and, next week, by jove, i am going on a little trip. hurrah! then, when everyone is back from their hols, we begin again!

peter brookes on the floods in england

if you'd like to see more of his work, click here.

the cairo toe

the bbc reports about a prosthetic toe:

"An artificial big toe found on the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could be the world's earliest functional fake body part, UK experts believe. A Manchester University team hope to prove that the leather and wood "Cairo toe" not only looked the part but also helped its owner walk. They will test a replica in volunteers whose right big toe is missing. If true, the toe will predate the currently considered earliest practical prosthesis - a fake leg from 300BC. The toe dates from between 1069 and 664BC, so if we can prove it was functional then we will have pushed back prosthetic medicine by as much as 700 years."

i wonder how they find the volunteers?

wycombe 0-1 qpr (friendly)

rowly celebrates

jg put out a strong team against wycombe, and according to the bbc london reporter except for camp and rowly we were basically pants. this is a bit worrying so close to the beginning of the season. wembley dave says that we really really miss lee cook. *sigh* on the plus side, the latest israeli wunderkind, ben sahar, made his debut as a sub by special permission from his club a few days before his 3-month loan begins.

Friday, July 27, 2007

latest bee political news

you may have heard me mention previously the possible demise of thousands of bees and the effect this could have on food supplies for we humans. or maybe not. in any case, i read today this story about canadian mounties helping to round up some disappearing bees in novia scotia. the beekeeper said:

" ...the colony was likely "stressed" and became dissatisfied with their queen. So, they raised a rival queen and then sent her into exile. But half of the hive left with the deposed queen to "look for a new home.""

he was worried that people might be scared by the swarm and try to attack it. i just find it fascinating to learn about the structure of societies other than human.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

celebrity baby names

my brain is pretty fried tonight - one more day and the owl of learning flies, well, drives back to nyc for a few days of fun and frolicking. the editors of the times online probably don't have the same excuses, but, well, here are some of the baby names they have highlighted for our edification:

Apple: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow

Astrella Celeste: Donovan and Linda Lawrence (also parents to Oriole Nebula)

Audio Science: Shannyn Sossamon

Blue Angel: U2's The Edge and Aislinn O'Sullivan

Bluebell Madonna: Geri Halliwell

Camera: Arthur Ashe and Jeanne Moutoussamy

Diezel Ky: Toni Braxton and Keri Lewis (also parents to Denim Cole)

Fuchsia: Sting and Frances Tomelty

Gulliver: Gary Oldman and Donya Fiorentino

Jermajesty: Jermaine Jackson and Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza (previously married to Jermaine's brother Randy)

Kal-El Coppola: Nicholas Cage (Kal-El is Superman’s original birth name)

Moxie CrimeFighter: Penn Jillette (also father to Zolten)

Pilot Inspektor: Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf

do these meet what i have always considered the benchmark, i.e., the names chosen by paula yates for her daughters, and frank zappa for many of his children?

Fifi Trixibell: Bob Geldof and Paula Yates (also parents to Peaches and Pixie)
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily: Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence

Moon Unit: Frank Zappa, also father to Dweezil and Diva Muffin

i was always worried that if i had any brothers, they would have had some of our german family names, and would be cursed with millstones like julius, leopold, georg and ignatz (hang on a sec, am i related to the marx brothers?!). Sisters might have had to be named sofie (pronounced 'zoffy') or erna or hedwig (r.i.p.). i do have cousins named after astronomical bodies. it could have been so much worse than 'ravaj'!

at least van nest polglase made his name stand for something ...

to see the rest of the selections from the times, look here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

aaaaaahhhhh, bless ...

unable to find pictures of lions and lambs laying down together, the times instead provides us with this lovely story of a pussycat who doesn't seem to know who her enemies are supposed to be:

"A cat has succeeded in repressing her predatory instincts by adopting seven chicks to rear alongside her own litter of kittens. One-year-old Nimra, from Madaba in Jordan, has been watching over her unusual litter ever since the chicks’ mother died a month ago."

if only people would believe this kind of thing is possible for us as well.

Monday, July 23, 2007

terrible flooding in england

these are pictures of a place called tewkesbury in gloucestershire. i've heard that a month's worth of rain has fallen in a day in parts of england recently. it is the worst flooding in modern british history. the government says it is due to global warning. the grauniad says:

"... that the government was warned in two separate reports that the plans in place to tackle flood risks were "complex, confusing and distressing for the public". In July 2004 the government said it needed to improve co-ordination between water companies, councils and the Environment Agency; then in 2005, the government also agreed to "work towards giving" the agency "an overarching strategic overview across all flooding and coastal erosion risks"."

gotta quote wordsworth again:

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"

most romantic film scene ever

deborah kerr and cary grant

the times newspaper officially announces (about a month ago but i seem to have missed it) that the most romantic scene in a movie ever is the denouement of 'an affair to remember'. it was voted for by readers, and of the choices available it was the one for which i voted. as long as you cut out the unbelievably awful last line ("o nicky - if you can paint, then i can walk!"), then huzzah!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

shelley duncan

another yankees newbie starts out really rather well. shelley duncan (i thought shelley was a girl's name, but then who am i to talk!) has played twice and already got 3 home runs. ok the yanks were playing the devil rays, and in total over four games scored a gazillion runs (ok, 49 or so) but still it is a lovely way to begin your career.

ps shelley is the guy on the right

he's heeeeeeeeeeere!

beckham jr & suri cruise at the match

ok, so after perusing the pix available this morning, the one i finally decided best represents the debut of david beckham for the los angeles galaxy team against the scum yesterday is this celebrity shot.

doug (my classmate and yanks fan) invited me over to watch the game. we had the espn coverage on the tv, and the yankees game on his laptop on the coffee table. i wore a lovely qpr t-shirt, and he got his old inter shirt out for the occasion.

so why did i pick this particular photograph? because of the espn coverage of a football match. first of all, there was the "beckham cam", where we were forced to look at his feet and check whether or not they were in his shoes. then there were the 'celebrity' interviews - drew carey, governor schwarzenegger, etc - please tell me (or rather you'd better not) what on earth a pitch-side chat with jennifer love hewitt, 'star' of some tv series, was doing on-screen while the game was actually being played? that's just what every sports fan, every football fan is craving rather than watching abel xavier thwart another drogba attack on goal.

that is the way in the usa. i don't think, however, it is the way to turn people on to football. if they are watching for the cutaway shots of tv and sports stars, then maybe the e-entertainment channel is the place for television coverage of the los angeles galaxy. grumble grumble rant!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

ilyena mironov and her ancestors

helen and kate mirren visit family graves in russia

ok so i was looking for what i thought would be the picture of the evening, i.e., david beckham tumbling over steve sidwell's trailing foot, which was how i ended up looking at the daily mail. there i found this story about genealogy that i enjoyed reading and thought other helen-appreciators may also enjoy.

"We drive to Kuryanovo, two hours from Moscow but two centuries back in time. "Oh my God, I just didn't think any of this would be here any more," Helen says, exploring the simple sand track that runs through the village where the serfs of her family's estate once lived, and where local peasants still pull water from the well. "I'm simply amazed," she adds. "I thought this would have been destroyed in Soviet times, ruined by the building of ugly factories. But it is exactly as I imagined it in my dreams. "It's so beautiful - small, brightly painted wooden houses with their vegetable gardens. It's very Russian, but looking like an English village might have done in Jane Austen's time. "To say I feel as if I've come home is not strictly true. I would find it difficult to live like this. But I do find it incredibly beautiful, perhaps because it's in my DNA. I feel very happy here. I know my father and grandfather would be utterly astounded if they could see us here, that we had managed to find it.""

i hope one day that i can travel to nowy sacz, the area where i think my hoschander relatives originated. i won't have the daily mail laying on translators, but i think i could live with that :-)

the nearly ridiculous and not quite sublime

a couple of stories i had wanted to blog but never got round to ...

lawn chair pilot flies with 105 balloons ok, it wasn't 99 red balloons, which would have been serendipitious, but still a lovely story about a guy in his garden in oregon trying to fly to idaho

a couple of weeks ago the news was that the pope had removed restrictions for celebrating an old form of the latin mass that included prayers calling for the conversion of the jews. the observer newspaper covered this story here. in a panic, i wrote a dear friend in virginia, that i got to know through the interfaith association there. she reassured me that first of all, many of the younger people do not even know that mass and secondly, she is pretty sure that if and when it is celebrated, it will be without the offensive prayers.

saturday sweetheart

eve myles

or would 'torchwood treasure' have been any better? each is as kitschy as the other. nevertheless, while waiting for that book to come out, i did watch a few more eps of 'torchwood' and even without any more scenes of her snogging sirens i still feel smitten by gwen cooper. as i may have reported previously, i will do anything if i am asked in a welsh accent. a real one, look you, not the transatlantic drawl that affects catherine zeta jones when she's on the left-hand side of the atlantic ocean.

let me just check the test match score and then maybe i can go to sleep for a while ...

and i've finished the book

... i've been reading for the last five hours, and have finished the last harry potter. cannot say more for a while just ... just in case any of you are yet to read it. i did have a good cry, though. thank you jkr. now for a nap!

the owl of reading

ravaj has her new harry potter

it's going to be a long night i think ... got my deathly hallows at midnight-oh-five and am now home. just have to get comfy on the bed: point the fan in my direction and remove all constricting items of clothing.

one guy found a couch by the entrance of the campus bookstore and already started reading. another one opened to the back page as he walked past the line where we were waiting. 'don't do it!' came the cry. 'wouldn't it be funny if someone read the end and shouted it out?' was the response. 'if he does that i will kill him,' muttered the guy next to me. cannot type any more. must read! see you later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

the homer abbas giant

local pagans are getting their knickers in a twist over the latest publicity stunt for the new simpsons movie. according to the picture, homer has been temporarily immortalised alongside the ancient cerne abbas giant. the full story is here, and most of the other current reports seem to be using the same press association source. the paint will disappear as soon as it rains, and is biodegradeable.

i have to say i am rather amused. while on the one hand the report notes that the chalk outline is rechalked every 25 years, and the grass is regularly trimmed, it was not always so. in my teens i had a summer of thomas hardy obsessive compulsive disorder and when on holiday in dorset insisted my hosts take me to every place that really existed that hardy mentioned about in his wessex. this included the church where i took a rubbing of tess durbeyfield's gravestone, a farmhouse that had the most delicious scrumpy cider and i don't remember the connection, as well as a sighting of the giant. in hardy's time, or was it the time about which he wrote, anyway the point is that the victorians used to let the grass grow over the giant because he was so rudely rampant. also, there is a river piddle that runs through part of dorset, but that name was considered quite impolite and so one gets villages called affpuddle and tolpuddle instead.

kieron st amie

i seem to have received quite a few hits regarding the qpr scorer vs celtic yesterday. i think and hope that this pic from the offish is of mr st amie, possibly even on the way to scoring his goal!

gotta get back to class now ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

we're back!

qpr 1 - 5 celtic

the first pre-season friendly for qpr saw us thrashed by the mighty bhoys from glasgow. there are no reports yet on the qpr list, so all i have to go on is the website which is shite as usual. i see that jake cole saved a penalty, so yah boo sucks to everyone saying he is no more than a reserve. he is all we have right now, folks! our goal was scored by another delightfully named player kieron st amie. but where was lee cook? probably packing his bags for fulham. ray jones was missing. stefan bloody moore started. right now i am listening to the sunday sport show on bbc london and qpr fans are calling and texting their disappointment and anticipation of relegation. hmmmmm ... it's only july, and we have already achieved the nadir of nay-saying :-(

ps apparently the r's player pictured here is chris barker

Saturday, July 14, 2007

quatorze juillet chez friedlander

a ford cortina estate mkv

i think i posted about dear old odh197k a year ago or so. my favourite car *sigh*. she looked like the one in the picture, except that she was burgundy.

anyway, i was just remembering that bastille day is one of those days in our family when we know there is no point even trying to go anywhere in the car because something bad will happen. more than three times it has happened on family holidays either in france or on our way there or back. take, for example, one time in belgium. it is 14th july. we are in our car. we are having trouble with our car. everything is closed. few people are around. we finally find a person. this person does not understand my mother's french (which is quite good, actually). this person speaks walloon. my mother tries german (which she speaks extremely well). the person still harbours grudges with regard to world war two. the conversation does not go well.

that is all i remember, but i know we did get where we were going in the end. the main problem with a national holiday is that everything is closed so if you need help it is hard to find. i suspect it is not so problematic these days with the advent of cellphones.

the scariest problem we had was once in the '70's when trying to go from holland to germany or vice versa. it was just my mother and we two girls. we were in no man's land when they took away our passports. for second generation holocaust survivors this is particularly terrifying. we had to wait for hours. it turned out that my mother looked like one of the baader-meinhof terrorists, who were known to use children as a cover. after checking us out and finding us innocent (and handing back the passports), we were promptly informed that our tyres were illegal in some way and we would have to buy some new ones and, o so conveniently, there was a tyre place right there. after paying an exorbitant price for those tyres, we were finally allowed to cross the border.

i must try to remember these things and acknowledge how much better life is these days next time they take away my toothpaste and tweezers (i still dream of hijacking a plane with the immortal words "take me to cuba or i shall pluck your eyebrows!").

ps a note from my mother regarding this post: "There were two different trips. On the first we were constantly crossing the French-German border and were usually stopped for the reason you mentioned. On the second, we were crossing from Holland into Germany and stopped because of the tyres - the tread was below the legal minimum. It must have been 1968, because of my heightened awareness of the removal of the passport."

to quote the chicken lady from the kids in the hall: "memories, they keep coming back to me like ... memories."

english sweets aka candy bars

o my, there's a curly wurly!

today's ny times has two whole internet pages devoted to the best sweets in the world, i.e., english ones. it begins:

"A TELEVISION news producer from Atlanta recently made a deal with her boss, who was traveling in London. The producer promised she would submit her script for an investigative story ahead of deadline in exchange for two British Kit Kats and a Curly Wurly bar."

i understand this. i may be diabetic (type 2, for about 8 years) and thus must regard chocolate, especially an english cadbury's dairy milk or maltesers which are sold at stop'n'shop damn their eyes, must regard it as death-delivering poison. nevertheless, just a picture of a flake or a crunchie bar causes immediate salivation. the american cadburys do not taste the same. they are ersatz, and according to the article are actually made by hershey. sacrilege!

the whole article is here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

cagney and lacey on graham norton's show

remember these two?

hat-tipping to scribegrrrl she has a youtube video from part of the graham norton show on her site and i then downloaded the whole programme and have just finished watching it. i haven't laughed so hard in ages. gosh laughing is good medicine.

they may look very different now, but they still put on a great show. my favourite part is near the end, when six live callers from across the world, i.e., germany, holland, sweden, australia, the usa and somewhere i forgot, pay tribute to sharon gless and tyne daly by playing the theme song through their telephones on kazoos. hysterical!

barbara amiel black

so conrad black has been found guilty, and while his wife did not give evidence, the word is that it was only because he was trying to finance the extravagant tastes of his wife that black got into such trouble in the first place.

i don't really know very much about barbara amiel except that my father enjoyed talking to her. in reporting the verdict of the trial today, the telegraph had this to say:

"Lady Black, of course, won't be sharing in the next, less comfortable, stage of her husband's life if he goes to prison. But so far she has proved a staunch supporter during the bad times. Writing her off as the ultimate hard-nosed gold-digger, some had confidently intoned long before the trial that the marriage was already over. However, the sight of the Blacks turning up at court each day, often holding hands and frequently exchanging tender glances, suggested otherwise.

Lady Black contributed nothing to the trial apart from an unfortunate lapse at the start when - descending in the lift outside the court - she described journalists as "vermin" and denounced one television news producer as a "slut". Such language comes less from the Kensington salon and more perhaps from her proudly proclaimed roots as a north London girl who had to make her own way in life. "My husband is very rich, but I am not … I have been a bitch all my life and did not need the authority of money to be one," she once wrote. "I am a north London Jew who has read a bit of history. This means I know this: in a century that has seen the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian, British and Soviet empires, reversal of fortune is the rich bitch's reality. One might as well keep working and have the family's Vuitton suitcases packed."

And as Barbara Amiel, a writer whose combination of good looks and fiery Right-wing journalism proved decisive in attracting her current husband, she did indeed keep working, even during the trial."

so i read this and thought well yes a powerful woman must be a bitch mustn't she i mean if she is tough and can take care of herself then she is threatening so bring her down with insults, eh? then i read the profile below

here is a profile from 2004 in the grauniad

and she sounds like an incredible role model until i get to the bit that says:

"Like many of today's rightwing commentators, she ... promoted her belief that homosexuality is an abomination."

damn and blast it, i really wanted to root for her and now i don't want to any more. i wonder ... if this were not a personal issue, would i be more inclined to say well yes she has her flaws but basically i admire her? i do hope not!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

discarded pants boosted literacy

ok, this has to be one of the more random stories of the day. the grauniad reports that underwear had a vital role to play in the making of cheap paper, and that allowed knowledge to come within reach of a much greater audience.

apparently the use of underwear increased in the 13th century as peasants became townspeople and found themselves in more business encounters with members of the opposite sex. this increased the supply of rags, which were used for the making of the cheap paper. before then, it was just hyper-expensive parchment, beyond the reach of the likes of you and me.

today is 12th july, not the first of april. i don't think they are joking. read about it right here.

see also this expanded version.

ps remember that 'pants' in england are 'underpants' in the usa

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

melanin may be more than benign

nice to mole you

at last something positive to having many moles (if you play join the dots on ravaj's back you get a wonderful map of the norwegian coastline). the telegraph reports:

"People who seem to stay younger for longer are also likely to have more moles, research released yesterday suggests. A study of twins found a striking correlation between high numbers of moles and a biological marker for slow ageing. As a result, people with a lot of moles might be expected to live longer than those who have very few, despite facing a greater risk of skin cancer."

here is the rest of the article, with some more technical explanation for those who are interested.

female circumcision in england

the metropolitan police in london are beginning a campaign tomorrow to make sure everyone knows that genital mutilation of women is a crime in britain.

"In Britain, the problem mostly involves first-generation immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Police say they don't have comprehensive statistics about the number of victims. But midwife Comfort Momoh, who specializes in treating them at London hospitals and clinics and who works with police, told the news conference she treats 400 to 500 victims every year. Arranging or carrying out the procedure — in Britain or abroad — is a criminal offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but no one has been prosecuted since it was banned under British law in 2003 ... Police estimate up to 66,000 girls in Britain face the risk of genital mutilation."

yahoo carries the latest ap report here

Sunday, July 08, 2007

so frida kahlo wasn't jewish?

appropos of another article i was just reading, i googled frida kahlo's jewish origins, and came up with the following article from the jerusalem post in april 2006:

"Frida Kahlo's father wasn't Jewish after all

Fridas Vater: Der Fotograf Guillermo Kahlo
by Gaby Franger and Rainer Huhle
248pp, EU49.80

For decades now, ever since an international revival of interest in the paintings and life of Mexico's Frida Kahlo, art historians and critics, including this writer, have been writing that Frida's photographer father was Jewish, possibly of Hungarian origin. A new book devoted to Guillermo Kahlo and his photography reveals that he had no Jewish genes and stemmed from a long line of German Protestants.

Frida herself was probably the source of the claims to her Jewish connection. But why?

My guess is that German connections during the Nazi era were an embarrassment to her. Communists in particular were strongly anti-Nazi and Diego Rivera, Frida's great love and sometime husband, was an active communist. So of course was the nominally Jewish founder of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky, who was Frida's lover in Mexico City before he was murdered with an ice pick, at Stalin's orders. In 1949 Frida actually wrote to her father inquiring about his origins. The letter survives.

Carl Wilhelm Kahlo was born in 1871 in Pforzheim, to Lutheran parents whose antecedents, craftsmen, soldiers, gingerbread bakers and sluice keepers, have been traced back by Gaby Franger and Rainer Huhle to the 16th century. Carl Wilhelm fell out with his family and at age 19 emigrated to Mexico, changed his name to Guillermo and began work as an accountant before discovering photography. Not all his negatives have been recovered, but he left behind a frank and unpretty record of life in Mexico at the turn of the century that is astonishingly modern in approach.

Guillermo ran a professional studio and married a woman of mixed Spanish-Indian origin, who gave her daughters an ethnic link to both the rich and poor of Mexico.

Frida and her taciturn, enigmatic father were famously concerned with themselves. Frida's favorite subject was herself (she made a trademark of her eyebrows). Guillermo's most riveting images are his self-portraits. Both father and daughter produced self-images that are silent witnesses to the tragedies of life."

we do like connecting brilliant, creative, famous people to our community, so i feel a wee bit sad when we lose one. it has, however, no effect on how much i love frida's work ... at least i think not ... :-)

wimbledon quote of the day

from the bbc live commentary on today's gentlemen's singles final:

"Players are knocking up and the atmosphere is crackling on Centre Court. Federer, as ever, looks the more relaxed of the two, as if he's having some hit and giggle at Centre Parcs. His girlfriend Mirka has plumped for the C3PO look today. That jacket's actually made of gold...apparently."

rabbi albert h. friedlander obe, phd z"l

today is the 3rd yahrzeit for my darling father.

more words from elie:

"albert and i were friends and allies, in many battles, always trying to remain faithful to one another, and together to one people - i shall remember him and his passion for study as well as his quest for peace"

the new 7 wonders of the world

chichen itza

in an online poll of 100 million people, the following wonders won a place in the top seven:

the great wall of china
the statue of christ the redeemer in rio de janeiro
petra in jordan
machu picchu in peru
the mayan ruins at chichen itza
the colosseum in rome
the taj mahal in india

i'm sure there will be lots of arguments and disappointments about this selection. for a start, the only one of the original wonders left in existence, the great pyramid of giza, didn't make it. also, several countries consciously marketed their own potential wonders to bump up the voting (and thence their tourist industry?).

i would have liked to see stonehenge in the list, but i didn't vote, so i cannot complain!

women's words?

a us survey recently analysed the commonly-held belief that women talk more than men do. while the results showed that is basically not true, the bbc has come up with a list of words that women were more likely to say than men. here is a selection from that list:

Book club: A female dominated affair, perhaps because women read more fiction, or perhaps because men aren't very good at talking about it

Accessorise: If men were ever to use this word it would only be in the context of cars

Body image

Empowering: Men never use this word, perhaps because for the 200,000 years humans have been on the planet, men have had all the power

Size zero

Home birth

Pilates: Men in the UK, particularly, seem to have no interest in building up their core strength

Pomegranate: Men seem ill-equipped to understand the significance and full range of superfoods


Conventionally attractive: Preceded by "well I suppose she is...", a phrase women often use to describe those who actually are

Footless tights: Strange idea, strangely popular


Emotional intelligence: Something that men usually do not possess, instead preferring the kind of intelligence that involves dates of battles

Kitten heels: Or indeed heels of any other kind

What are you thinking?: The classic female condition check

Feminism: If even veteran feminists can't agree on what this means then it's probably best avoided by men

Agony aunt:
When men seek answers to life-changing problems in magazines, it tends to be under the headline "plasma or LCD?"

Flexible working

As in new Commons leader Harriet Harman's request to Theresa May not to savage her every Thursday

Beefeater: The first female one made her debut this year



Extraordinarily, the battle continues for women to be allowed to avoid definition by their marital status


Why: As in "why do you never call?"

Friday, July 06, 2007

the melting slopes of everest

i'm heading off to join my class for a shabbaton. something for me to think about this shabbat - what can i do for tikkun olam, to help heal the earth? this article in the independent was a response to a survey that revealed:

" ... most Britons remain unconvinced about the extent of climate change and that terrorism, crime, graffiti and even dog mess are more pressing issues for the UK."

the sons of the first men to reach the summit of mount everest tell us that:

"The base camp where Sir Edmund and Norgay began their ascent is 40 metres lower than it was in 1953. The glacier on which it stands, and those around it, are melting at such a rate that scientists believe the mountain, whose Nepalese name, Qomolangma, means Mother of the World, could be barren rock by 2050."

there is no question either that climate change is a problem, or that human beings have to do something about it, yesterday! listen and believe.

shabbat shalom!

ps happy birthday lis!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

and the new doctor who companion is ...

catherine tate

i am hoping this is the apex of my fan obsession with doctor who ... my compulsion demands that i blog the latest news which is that catherine tate (seen above in the last xmas ep) is joining the series full-time. this from the outpost gallifrey site:

"Catherine Tate is set to return to the TARDIS for the complete 13 week run of Series Four of Doctor Who. Award winning comedian Tate will reprise her role as Donna, the runaway bride from last year's Christmas special, despite turning down the Doctor's invitation to travel with him at the end of that adventure. When Catherine was asked if she would like to become The Doctor's new companion at the press screening of The Runaway Bride, she replied, "I would love to, but no one has asked!" Well, now they have. "Catherine was an absolute star in The Runaway Bride and we are delighted that one of Britain's greatest talents has agreed to join us for the fourth series," announced Doctor Who's executive producer and head writer, Russell T Davies. "Viewers can expect more ambitious storylines and a whole host of guest stars in 2008."

Catherine Tate : "I am delighted to be returning to Doctor Who. I had a blast last Christmas and look forward to travelling again through time and space with that nice man from Gallifrey.""

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

alan johnston is free!

from the bbc here

again in the midst of so much terror and destruction another positive piece of news. after 4 months of imprisonment at the hands of a militant group called the army of islam, bbc journalist alan johnston has been freed.

ny times report
the times
the telegraph

news roundup

some of the stories that i kept meaning to blog recently but had to do my maths homework instead:

the rubber duck armada (the mail)

the sunshine and fruit juice diet guy (the mail)

freezing the eggs of girls with childhood cancers (the times)

wheelie bin travels from peterborough to bulgaria (the telegraph)

with regard to the medical procedure referred to above, my first response was how incredible and amazing it is. as someone who has struggled with issues of infertility for years, my instinct is to rejoice that other women may be spared that curse. i expect there are various ethical and/or politically correct issues that are evoked by this discovery. right now, though, i am just feeling pleased.

Monday, July 02, 2007

rocket's record

roger clemens pitching vs twins

yankees pitcher roger clemens becomes the first since warren spahn in 1963 to record 350 wins. at one point he retired 15 twins in a row. gosh darn it this is what we need from all our pitchers and not just to get in the record books. the game was on tv tonight and i duly did my part to help them win by falling asleep in the inning where the winning runs were scored :-)

we should be so lucky

guess who is the guest star of the doctor who xmas episode?! the bbc website reported today (after i'd read all the martha stuff):

"Kylie Minogue on board for Titanic festive special.

We're all feeling lucky, lucky, lucky that Kylie Minogue is to take a major lead role in the hour-long Doctor Who Christmas special, to be broadcast in December 2007. Especially for you, Kylie will be travelling light years to join David Tennant for the episode, Voyage Of The Damned, which starts filming in July in Cardiff. "We are delighted and excited to announce that Kylie Minogue will be joining the Doctor," revealed Executive Producer and lead writer Russell T Davies. "Doctor Who Xmas specials are always a joy and we feel very confident that this will be the most ambitious and best Christmas episode yet." "It is an incredible thrill to be joining David and the entire Doctor Who production for this year's Christmas special," added Kylie. "Doctor Who enjoys a unique history and it is going to be very exciting to be a part of that."

The production team has also confirmed that the story, written by Russell, will follow on directly from the ending of series three where viewers witnessed The Titanic crash through the Tardis walls."

the doctor is done (until xmas)

freema agyeman

martha jones is staying on earth to take care of her family and the doctor is alone again

gosh darn it i was all ready to have a massive crush on martha, as were so many others. luckily for us the bbc has thrown out a bone or two, promising that freema agyeman will guest on torchwood and also reconnect with the doctor halfway through season four.

this past season has been so amazing that it even got my mother hooked. it helps that she sort of fancies david tennant :-)

*sigh* time to get ready for school ...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

rabbi abraham j. klausner z"l

i did not realise he was still alive ... i'd always wanted to meet rabbi klausner. his obit in the ny times is here. when i was stuck looking for a subject for my rabbinic ma thesis, my father handed me a photocopied pamphlet of this haggadah:

i had never seen a text like this one, which ended with 'shefoch chamatcha' ('pour out thy wrath') - a prayer i also did not know since the reform text had omitted this first line. and so my thesis on the apologetic and polemic motifs in the passover haggadah was born :-)

may rabbi klausner's family and friends be consoled with the mourners of zion and jerusalem.

yanks in freefall

dj & andy stumped

what is there to say? it's not a good time to be a yankees fan. they couldn't score in a house of ill-repute. luckily for me, the qpr players have reported for pre-season training, including new signing previously with nott'm forest - john curtis. with any luck, i shall be too worn out from my work and study to get too upset about any of this.

*whoooooooosh* hmmmmm, was that a porcine creature i just saw up in the sky?