Tuesday, October 30, 2007

who is this woman?

her name is cristina fernandez de kirchner, and she has just won the election to become the next president of argentina. here is a profile of her from the bbc. she follows her husband, nestor, as president, and becomes the first elected female president of her country. the bbc online reports:

"Mrs Kirchner, candidate for the governing Front for Victory, has promised to continue her husband's centre-left policies. As well as facing comparisons with Eva Peron, Argentina's legendary former first lady, Mrs Kirchner has been compared to former US First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is also a lawyer and senator seeking to become the first elected female president of her country. "I don't want to be compared with Hillary Clinton or with Evita Peron, or with anybody," she said recently. "There's nothing better than being yourself.""

Monday, October 29, 2007

the top 100 living geniuses (or genii)

tomorrow's telegraph has this list. no information on the page how it was compiled. is it designed to create conflict? how can one make such decisions, and who made them? criteria please.

meanwhile, dealing with what is on the page, the greatest living genius according to the telegraph is (drum roll ...):

and it is a tie, between Albert Hoffman and Tim Berners-Lee!

according to our friends at google and wiki, albert hoffman is probably albert hofman, a swiss chemist, the creator of lysergic acid diethylamide (lsd). tim berners-lee is, of course, the reason we are here at this moment.

ok, but then look at the list:

4th is matt groening, and equal fifth is nelson mandela.

the first woman in the list is flossie wong-staal, credited as the co-discoverer of the hiv virus. she is equal 32nd with, among others, prince, noam chomsky and bobby fischer. and rupert murdoch is 12 places above her.

bill gates is equal 43rd with osama bin laden, philip roth and mohammed ali.

j k rowling is equal 83rd with ken russell and kalashnikov of the weapon.

no, this is too much procrastination even for me! if you need to get a bit aggravated yourself, however, do have a look at this list. meanwhile, all i can say is poppycock and balderdash!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

charlton 0-1 QPR!

bolder scores

that's it, really. i could rant about how pathetic the qpr site is, and that i found this pic on the charlton site, but i need the energy to try not to procrastinate re homework. amazing what a lift the win has been, though. of course i know the bosox are about to sweep the world series, but in the end all my fan mojo belongs with qpr :-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

anti-semitism in english football

just read this article in the observer online. i've been away a long time, but i really thought things were better than in the 1980's when i was living on the edges of the world of top-flight professional football as a photographer for qpr.

"'Spurs are on their way to Belsen, Hitler's gonna gas 'em again...' It's not a song you would expect to hear on a family day out at a Premier League game, but it is one of several anti-Semitic chants still heard at some top-flight grounds. While the message about anti-black abuse is in the public consciousness, campaigners say that anti-Semitism is alive - and unchecked."

to the tune of 'one man went to mow', i remember being shocked at hearing 'one man went to gas, went to gas a yiddo' sung at loftus road by visiting supporters. i had no idea what to do about it. i told my friends, and they nodded sympathetically. the thing is, most jews in england don't want to stand out, and so they don't say anything about it when something anti-semitic happens. it has always been like that:

"Many of those approached by Observer Sport declined to be interviewed for fear of alienating themselves in the football world. Others did not want to draw attention to their Jewish identity and in some cases clubs felt it too controversial for their staff to discuss. The reticence reminds some of the days when black players were too frightened to speak about racism."

when i was at uni, the vice-chair of the student tory party was found dead drunk outside the halls of residence with the paintbrush in his hand, having painted 'juden raus' and 'death to the jews' and swastikas all over the walls. the school was prepared to fine him and have him pay for fixing the mess. being students, we were feeling a bit militant and so the j-soc (hillel) members sent a photo of a graffiti-ed wall to the jewish chronicle. it was published, the vandal got suspended for 6 months, and we felt good. a rare response, i think. that was more than 20 years ago.

am i surprised that the reporter has found the evidence she presents? absolutely not. are things going to change? i doubt it. yours pessimistically - the ravaj.


adam bolder is quite happy

another frabjous day - qpr won, they won away, and i got to see it live on sky thanks to wembley d. i almost scared myself with my scream of delight when we scored. it was such a guttural roar, and before 9 a.m. - i hoped i hadn't woken my flatmate :-)

i have been sleeping a lot this weekend, so i hope it isn't all a dream ... naaaaah i do not have such happy dreams, and if i were dreaming this, i would have dreamt better presenters and commentators :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

not-yet-sir ravaj salutes you

today before class cd let me wear the gauntlets, and i gathered the courage to put my head in the helm (nearly took off my ears, and there was no room for my specs). what the heck i have signed the membership forms so we put it all on, gave me a sword, and took a couple of pics.

later, in more 21st century attire, i got to practice hitting someone with a sword for the first time. i cannot tell you how satisfying it was to whack that helm, although during the practice i kept apologising (moi?!). there is so much to remember, and cd said now i can start thinking about preparing to test for a yellow belt. me with a belt? cool :-)

tired now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

eighth heaven?

a la tevye, is this the little girl i ... watched with my dear aunt on my aunt's favourite show about a minister and his family? lots of rumours going around about jessica biel's preferences (go visit dorothy snarker, whose blog just introduced me to this one). i'm torn. on the one hand, i hate prurient celebrity gossip. on the other hand, i find it very ... not sure of the word i want here ... it is kind of comforting to see homosexual relationships, or possible ones, being out in the open.

we do not lose again!

gazza flies (literally, it would appear) down the wing as qpr hold preston to a 0-0 draw up at deepdale. lee camp saved a penalty and, although we could not score, again we did not lose, which is a massive improvement. since the boston baseball team are currently crushing the rockies in the first game of the world series, i realise how much of my fan mojo has been invested in qpr since the yankees were eliminated!

thursday thirteen xx

Thirteen Fantastic Female Comediennes

1. Sandra Bernhard

she scares me because you never know quite where she is going to go, but when she gets there you can wet yourself laughing. not such a big fan of the singing. nothing wrong with it, just not what i want from her. here is a diva moment for you from youtube.

2. Margaret Cho

like so many of her fans, my favourite thing is when she does jokes as her mother. here is a site that has a lot of audio files where you may make up your own mind.

3. Dawn French

for me she is one of the most talented comediennes alive today. she has the ability to inhabit the character she plays to the point where i no longer see her natural zaftigheit. however, i just found this article in the sunday times last august that highlights a morbid streak in her that was hitherto unknown to me.

4. Judy Gold

last year when d & i saw her live in nyc, she announced that she was single, and i realised that except for one small detail i had found the love of my life. unfortunately, the detail is that we have never met. but i am trying to get to know her, mostly by checking out her here.

5. Madeline Kahn

most people who know her know her from the mel brooks movies in which she appeared, especially 'blazing saddles' and 'young frankenstein'. she actually won a tony award in 1993 for her role in wendy wasserstein's 'the sisters rosenzweig'. died waaaay too early.

6. Kathy & Mo

otherwise known as kathy najimy and mo gaffney, who were an off-broadway smash in the mid-'80's before going their separate ways. created wonderful characters, especially kathy's 'maddie' talking about her gay nephew. here is a brief interview with more details from the early '90's.

7. Elaine May

with mike nichols part of the greatest comedy improvisers ever imo. ok she was responsible for one of the most disastrous movies ever, i.e., 'ishtar'. just find some cds of their improvisations, and you will see how they were the parents of all those we know today. all i could find on youtube was this., but it is not too bad. also check out wikipedia for more.

8. Bette Midler

funny, zaftig and jewish what's not to like? i first fell in love with the divine miss m when i saw her on tv whizzing around the stage in a wheelchair whilst wearing a mermaid costume. for some reason, the one line of hers that is permanently tattooed on my memory is: "what is a kreplach? a kreplach is a person from kreplachia!" this never fails to make me laugh. yes, getting a life is on my list of things to do when i have done the homework i am supposed to be doing while i am writing these notes.

9. Gilda Radner

i didn't grow up with 'saturday night live', but my sister bought a vinyl record of some sketches from the show back from a trip to the usa and that got us started. before all-night (or even all-day) tv and videos it was hard to find more of gilda's work, until i got an lp of her one-woman show. after that, every time i went to the usa i would haunt the tv looking for repeats that had emily litella et al for me to enjoy. unbelievably sadly she died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42.

10. Jennifer Saunders

"french and saunders, bee bup di do" beginning with their parts in 'the comic strip presents ...', jen and dawn changed the appearance of women in british comedy. and then, of course, there is abfab. brilliant writer, performer, and presumably anything else she wants to do.

11. Catherine Tate

maybe more people will know who catherine tate is after the next series of doctor who where she returns to be his companion for a while. i first heard of her when my mother brought me a dvd as a gift when she visited me in ny. a woman with a sketch show. another woman with a sketch show. post little britain, however, these were characters that were just very rude! the old woman who can't stop cursing, the schoolgirl who always talks back, etc. yet she makes me laugh.

12. Tracey Ullman

according to wiki, tracey is now a u.s. citizen. hmmmmm. she is of the french and saunders generation (it was all a bit incestuous back then) but left early on to try and make it in america. she seems to have done that quite well, although she is quoted as saying that maybe one day she might get a 2-minute spot on the simpsons :-) i think she is one of the most versatile actors i have seen in this genre. she is bloody good at accents!

13. Victoria Wood

if i had to pick one out of all the others, victoria wood is my absolutely most fabulous favourite. here is the intro to the wiki description:

"Victoria Wood OBE (born 19 May 1953 in Prestwich Village, Lancashire) is a BAFTA award winning English comedian, actor, singer and writer, educated at Bury Grammar, an all girls school. Wood has written and starred in sketches, plays, films and sitcoms, and her live stand-up comedy act is interspersed with her own compositions, which she accompanies on piano.
Wood is often regarded as among the top sitcom writers in Britain. Much of her humour is grounded in everyday life, and abounds with references to popular British media, stereotypically English pastimes, attitudes, prejudices, and even brand names of quintessentially British products. She is noted for her skills in observing culture, and in satirising classes."

as you can see, pretty english. very simple, and utterly brilliant.

i guess this list is pretty old-fashioned. but then, may i kick myself later for saying this, i am somewhere near something that some people might refer to as middle age, and these are the kind of people that make me laugh. although i did download sarah silverman's "give the jew girl toys" and like that a lot.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Monday, October 22, 2007

r.b.kitaj r.i.p.

an original, and an original kitaj

during r.b.kitaj's period of interest in jewish culture and the holocaust, my late father came to know him. there were a few connections between our families, e.g., i was his son max's sunday school teacher when max was little. and, as you can see, he painted my father. in my mother's flat, there is a preparatory sketch for this painting. i never cease to be amazed that kitaj captured the essence of ahf in about six strokes of a piece of charcoal.

it seems to be breaking news at the moment as this is all i can find:
the times

more later.

from the grauniad
the telegraph
ny times
the independent

Sunday, October 21, 2007

poppy day is coming ...

sparky, aka charles m schulz

as seen by kim scafuro

there is a new biography of charles m schulz out that presents him as a depressed and melancholy man who worked out his issues through his drawings. the ny times reviewer discusses the book in the context of our cultural stereotype of the tortured artist, and suggests that the author:

"(depicts) Mr. Schulz as a much more self-aware and autobiographical artist than has been understood previously, a conduit for his times and the timeless subjects of art: longing, love, heartbreak, disappointment, distrust. (One strip, drawn when Mr. Schulz’s first marriage was breaking up and his wife, suspicious of an affair, was questioning his phone bills, shows Charlie Brown yelling at a lovesick Snoopy: “And stop making those long-distance phone calls!”)"

while, as the reviewer quotes schulz:

"“All the loves in the strip are unrequited; all the baseball games are lost; all the test scores are D-minuses; the Great Pumpkin never comes; and the football is always pulled away.”"

i think i shall have to read the book myself before i may make up my mind. if you are interested in the suffering artist question, please read here.

nb thank you to alison bechdel for the tip re the above pic - below is its inspiration.

views of benazir bhutto

imran khan writes in today's telegraph:

"I have known Benazir since we were at Oxford together, but we have drifted apart politically since then. Perhaps I could have warned her that her life would be in danger if she returned to Pakistan and had a parade, but I doubt she would have listened. After all, there has been no shortage of warnings from other quarters. But I can tell her this: it is not going to get any easier for her. Whenever she goes out campaigning in public, her life is going to be threatened. It is different for me campaigning in public, even in the frontier region, because I am not perceived as an America stooge, or a supporter of the war on terror." more here.

imran is standing for a different party. how do we know what to believe?

first i think how amazing it is that a woman has been prime minister in a country like pakistan, and instinctively want to support the return of bhutto to her home country. i read an account by a correspondent for the times, who was on the bus when the bombers struck. she recalls the beginning of the journey:

"She looked stunning, dressed in an emerald-green-and-white shalwar kameez, the colours of the Pakistani flag, to symbolise national unity. Her jacket was finished with tiny white pearl buttons, and over her head was a trademark floaty white dupatta, which as usual rarely stayed on. As she said goodbye to her two daughters and her husband, Asif, in the VIP lounge, she announced: “This is the beginning of a long journey for Pakistan back to democracy, and I hope my going back is a catalyst for change. We must believe that miracles do happen.”"

as they ride on the bus through the streets, bhutto says:

"“This is the real Pakistan, not the militants or the military. We are giving a voice to the moderates that don’t want to see their country taken over by terrorists.” For a moment she grew sombre. “I just hope I can meet all these expectations . . . but also that I am allowed to.”"

lots more here.

these are the kind of words that move me, the kind in which i wish to believe. this is a brave woman. her father was hanged by the military, and her brother was poisoned, and another brother was shot. yet she wants to return. but this is also someone who made a deal with the current dictator to drop corruption charges that were hanging over her head so she could return without being arrested. were the charges real, or trumped up? is she an american stooge? is she a western stooge? can she be a voice for democracy in her country?

aaaaaaaaargh! said ravaj impotently. i want to believe that miracles do happen, that she won't end up like indira gandhi, and that she will make a positive difference.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

joe torre has left and gone away

thank you joe torre for giving me my best years as a yankee fan. i agree that the offer made to you was derisory. unfortunately, to give up my allegiance to the team (NOT the owners) to protest the situation would involve ripping my heart from my breast, and i have a non-refundable ticket to visit my mother in december. i wish you good luck for the future.
- ravaj.

a biological moment ...

look at those muscles!

or should that be a physiological moment? i do not know. i do, however, see an awful lot of muscles in the man's leg, many of which i am sure i have never seen before :-)

meanwhile, even though the recent flux of personnel changes at qpr mean i have no idea to whom the leg and those muscles belong, i am happy to report that we did not lose again today. of course we did not win again today either, but maybe some of that mojo will rub off on the rugby? or did i use it all up finding my lost qpr hat? hmmmmm ... hard questions for a shabbat afternoon. nu - just look at those muscles!

j.k.rowling outs harry potter character

as i just read here, j k rowling has told us that dumbledore is gay. interesting ...

a little more here from the bbc

or, as the germans said:

"Die Autorin der Bestseller-Romane um den jungen Zauberer Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, hat das Geheimnis eines der größten Helden der sieben Bände über Hexer und Zauberlehrlinge gelüftet. Dumbledore, Schulleiter des Zauberer-Internats Hogwarts und mächtiger Mentor des jungen Harry, war homosexuell. Die überraschende Information lieferte Rowling bei einer Lesung in der New Yorker Carnegie-Hall am Freitagabend. "Um ehrlich zu sein, ich habe ihn mir immer schwul vorgestellt", sagte Rowling."

p.s. the next day - a leader from the telegraph

Friday, October 19, 2007

egg-chasing and prime ministers

as the whole of england (except those who couldn't give a toss about rugby) prepares for the world cup final tomorrow night, here's another great peter brookes cartoon commenting on gordon brown the pm. btw, he is pictured as standing in the exact pose that johnny wilkinson, england's kicker and inspiration, takes before taking a penalty or attempting a conversion.

advice for writers from the late alan coren to his son

from today's telegraph:

"“When I was about 11 and doing creative writing at school,” Giles recalled, “I would always go to my dad and say, 'What shall I write?’.

“He would always say, 'Whatever the first thing is that comes into your head, don’t write that because that’s what everyone will write. When the second idea comes into your head, don’t write that either because that’s what the bright kids will write. Wait for the third idea, because that’s the one that only you will do”."

alan coren, a humorist i admired greatly, died today. condolences to his family, friends and fans.

times obit
"The son of a plumber, he was born in North London in 1938 with, as the New Statesman put it, “a silver spoof in his mouth”"

from the grauniad
"Coren, as an editor of Punch, presided over an office that was often filled with laughter. This was especially so at the weekly formal lunches, which gathered together the prominent people of the day - he also had a useful trick of tearing a London telephone directory in two, a genetic gift, he claimed, that he had inherited from a circus strongman grandfather."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

deborah kerr r.i.p.

where have i been for the last 24 hours? how could i have missed the news that deborah kerr is dead? ok she was 86 and had parkinsons and has not been seen much in public for years. nevertheless, she has always been one of my favourite actresses. she was beautiful, and even though it was everything to which a nice jewish girl like me could never aspire, still i loved her. the films that most people remember - the king and i, an affair to remember, from here to eternity - were great. i think, though, that one of my favourites has to be black narcissus. the descent of the other nun into madness terrifies me yet. i also loved all three of her in the life and death of colonel blimp. hollywood saw her as the epitome of an elegant englishwoman. in an interview during her latter years she noted that she most probably survived because she never took being a star too seriously. now i must go and dig out my dvd of 'a woman of substance', that best of the eighties' mini-series. it's going to be an emma harte weekend!

telegraph obit
slide show from the bbc online
bbc obituary
the times
an appreciation from the grauniad

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

the great omani, r.i.p.

being a great houdini fan, as well as a fan of the great houdini (who lived in appleton wisconsin and whose museum is on my aunt's street there), the obituary of the great omani caught my eye. it never ceases to amaze me why people decide to try and do tricks like eating light bulbs (or bicycles) and plunging themselves into flames.

from the telegraph:
"Ron Cunningham, who died on Monday aged 92, was an escapologist and end-of the-pier artiste specialising in feats such as eating light bulbs and removing a straitjacket while hanging upside down with his trousers on fire. The Great Omani, as he was known to his public, began in the 1950s as a regular draw at music halls and piers around the south coast. His career reached a high point in 1977 when, to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, he performed a handstand on the cliff edge at Beachy Head with a Union flag between his toes; it made the front page of The People, and film and television appearances followed.

...Perhaps determined that the suspense should last to the very end, Cunningham even wrote his own epitaph: They have put the Great Omani in a box / They're using nails instead of locks / But at the funeral, do not despair / There's still a chance Omani won't be there."

the whole piece may be found here.

charges in politkovskaya murder

the bbc online reports this morning:

"Russian prosecutors have charged nine people, including a security service official, over the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, reports say. Ms Politkovskaya was shot dead near her flat in Moscow in October 2006. She won fame by exposing atrocities committed against Chechen civilians by Russian-backed security forces. Last month, a former Chechen politician was charged with being an accomplice in the murder. Ten suspects were arrested in August, two of whom were then freed.

The nine suspects were formally charged by a Moscow city court on Wednesday, Russian news agencies said. Interfax also quoted a source close to the investigation as saying charges had been brought against Lt Col Pavel Ryaguzov from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) for abuse of office. Investigators believe that he could have passed on details of Ms Politkovskaya's address to another suspect, who in turn gave them to the killer, the source said. In August, chief prosecutor Yuri Chaika said 10 suspects - including serving and former security officers - had been arrested in the investigation. Their ringleader was a Chechen gang boss, he said. At least two suspects have since been released. Mr Chaika said there were indications that the murder plot had been masterminded abroad with a view to destabilising Russia.

Ms Politkovskaya was a strong critic of President Vladimir Putin - especially his military campaign in Chechnya. Her former colleagues at Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta accused Kremlin hardliners of interfering in the murder investigation after a lead prosecutor in the case was replaced in September."

we shall, of course, never know who really commissioned the murder. *sigh*

Monday, October 15, 2007

the one true bionic woman

i'm sorry, but however wonderful the make-over of michelle ryan from an eastender to jaime sommers or even the almost-compelling katee sackhoff as her nemesis have been, there is only one bionic woman: lindsay wagner! thanks to jc for reminding me:

i'd rather watch her in a commercial for a sleep number bed than many other programmes, including, i'm sad to say, the current revival of the bionic woman tv show. gosh, even the c. 1980 miniseries 'scruples' was worth it just for lindsay. *sigh*

which dyke to watch out for are you?

just did the quiz on alison bechdel's site through a link to another site. to my great surprise, this was the result:

Which Dyke to Watch Out For Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Lois

You are Lois, the ladykiller who's mellowed into an awesome, loyal girlfriend. Give yourself permission to read the newest Harry Potter at Camp Trans.

who'd'a thunk it, eh?

the meme of unread books (long)

sorry but could not resist this meme. in order, these are the top 106 books unread. no idea where the list originated! one is supposed to bold books one has read, italicise ones that you've started but cannot finish, and strike through those you couldn't bear. the shortcuts are not working so i shall be putting an asterisk for those i have read, dot dot dotting those i did not finish, and ignoring the unread. go on, have a go! one of the better tools of procrastination i have found in recent weeks :-)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
**Anna Karenina
...Crime and punishment
One hundred years of solitude
**Wuthering Heights
**The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The name of the rose
Don Quixote
...Moby Dick
...Madame Bovary
**The Odyssey
**Pride and prejudice
**Jane Eyre
**A tale of two cities
...The brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
**War and peace
**Vanity fair
The time traveler's wife
**The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
...The kite runner
**Mrs. Dalloway
**Great expectations
American gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
...Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
**The Canterbury tales
The historian : a novel
**A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
**Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault's pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
**A clockwork orange
Anansi boys
**The once and future king
**The grapes of wrath
**The poisonwood Bible : a novel
**Angels & demons
The inferno
The satanic verses
**Sense and sensibility
**The picture of Dorian Gray
**Mansfield Park
**One flew over the cuckoo's nest
**To the lighthouse
**Tess of the D'Urbervilles
**Oliver Twist
**Gulliver's travels
Les misérables
The corrections
**The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
**The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The prince
**The sound and the fury
Angela's ashes : a memoir
The god of small things
A people's history of the United States : 1492-present
**A confederacy of dunces
...A short history of nearly everything
The unbearable lightness of being
**The scarlet letter
**Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (48)
**The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud atlas
The confusion
**Northanger abbey
**The catcher in the rye
On the road
The hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
...Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values
**The Aeneid
**Watership Down
...Gravity's rainbow
**The Hobbit
**In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
**White teeth
**Treasure Island
**David Copperfield
The three musketeers

having now done this list, i am a bit embarrassed *blush*. haven't read as many as i thought, and also seem very light on the contemporary books. excellent - the worrying about this is more procrastination. and worrying about appearing pretentious, and worrying about editorialising, and cetera ad nauseam. help, i'm a procrastinator. somebody get me out of here!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

egg-chasers are kings for the day


it was a big day of sport in england today. the football fans had as much interest in scotland topping their european championship group that includes italy and france as a yankees fan had this afternoon in baseball. instead, they cheered england on at new wembley, where they gained a first-half cushion of 3 goals, including a stunning header by an estonian from the edge of his own penalty area. wayne rooney scored his first competitive goal for three years. england won 3-0. again. bring on the russians and their plastic pitch next wednesday!

the less said about england's last one-day cricket match against sri lanka the better.

which brings us to the england rugby team. they were playing in the world cup semi-final. they were playing france. in paris. tens of thousands of rugger buggers descended upon the city whether or not they had tickets. prince harry sat in the stadium, wearing his england shirt.

england are the current holders of the cup, but they were not expected to do very well this time around, especially having been stuffed 0-36 by south africa in the pool a match-up. i watched the whole match live thanks to wembley dave and his slingbox. it was not a great experience, if one judges it by the standard of rugby played. on the other hand, if you are into team sports, something magnificent took place this evening. i watched what it means to be a team. these guys put everything they had into the game. and they backed each other up. i'm not sure about some of the body parts one has to hold onto in the scrum, but i saw the pack joining strength to strength. johnny wilkinson's boot may not have been so trusty early on, but he made some immense tackles. in an interview afterwards, he said that his body has never been so sore after a game.

nu - i'm really not a big fan of this sport. right now, though, i am incredibly impressed by the nature of england's victory. at school this week we have spent massive amounts of time and energy on trying to teach our students about community and teamwork. i think they understand it intellectually, but their average age is about 9 years old so it's still hard to get it in a visceral way. In some strange way, this win by the egg-chasers makes me feel quite hopeful about being a teacher!

btw, the pic is of england's josh lewsey scoring the only try of the game in the 82nd second

people like ann coulter

well, to be honest, mainly ann coulter. the latest headlines are about how she has now insulted the jewish community by saying that in her ideal world they would become "perfected" by converting to xianity. to a fundamentalist xian, that is often a perfectly reasonable, and loving desire. ms coulter, however, seems somewhat disingenuous to me. according to al franken, it is a regular tactic for her to say something provocative, then claim to be a victim when the response is negative. rather than summarise franken's observations about her, please read the whole opening statement that he made last year when he debated her in los angeles. it is here. i'm really not so worried about the ann coulters of this country. i'm glad we have free speech, and i would rather have perspectives alien to my own out in the open than being spread covertly. as far as i'm concerned, coulter is just the flip side of howard stern.

Friday, October 12, 2007

silence in the buffyverse

a few years ago, cba took me to the singalonga version of 'the sound of music'. it was obviously a knock-off of the rocky horror nights across the world, and it was a great success. there was an open bar in the back of the theatre, and the place was full of g/l/b/t types. cba bought me a goodie bag, and so i had a scarf like maria's to wear, a plastic edelweiss to wave, a party popper to throw at the baroness's ball, and a foam nun. we had a wonderful evening.

news today that the buffy version of such an entertainment experience has been ordered to cease and desist by 20th century fox who own the rights:

"... the hardcore Buffy fans out there who are all dressed up like the Slayer, Giles, Xander, Willow and Spike and now have nowhere to sing their hearts out surely aren't going to go quietly into that good night. In fact, the scorned fans' feelings might be summed up by this one message board post, on www.uncoolkids.com/buffy: "Please don't take our joy," wrote Jessa Boudreaux. An online petition to save the Buffy Musical posted by McClung on Wednesday currently has 1,534 signatures."

the whole yahoo article is here.

sign the petition here.

why i enjoy telegraph obituaries

here are some snippets from the obit of david muffet, with regard to his time in the colonial service in nigeria. of course it is all so terribly imperialistic, yet i am still pleased such things are included as part of the article.

"David Muffett, who has died aged 88, applied the skills he had honed when dealing with cannibals in colonial Africa to battling education ministers and teaching unions in his role as chairman of Hereford and Worcester County Council education committee. A huge, lumbering bear of a man, 6ft 2in tall and nearly as broad, with a booming voice and bristling moustache, Muffett looked rather like a cross between Falstaff and Captain Mainwaring.

He spent 16 years in the colonial service in northern Nigeria, where he claimed to have been one of only two Britons whose name passed into the native Hausa language: "Aka yi masa mafed" (literally "One did to him Muffett"), meaning "Justice caught up with him".

Muffett liked to regard himself as a hard-riding "bush DO" (district officer) of the old school and he allowed nothing to stand in the way of justice and good administration. Yet although he was ebullient and thick-skinned, he was always sensitive to local tradition. In 1960 he apprehended the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who had eaten the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man's ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers. It was not so much this particular misdemeanour that bothered Muffett; what really worried him was the fact that a UN delegation was due to visit the area, and "I wasn't about to have one of them eaten. I considered that it would be a highly retrogressive step." The Tigwe, who was surprised to learn that the colonial authorities disapproved of his eating habits, was duly sent to jail — but only "until the delegation had departed beyond the reach of his culinary aspirations."

Muffett often seemed to have magical powers of his own. He was once shot at with poisoned arrows, all of which miraculously missed his bulky frame, though one lodged in the pommel of his saddle. On another occasion a witch doctor who had pronounced a curse upon him fell down dead the next day, an event which, Muffett recalled, greatly enhanced his standing among the local population."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the celebrities return to qpr

as qpr fans wait (and wait and wait) to see who the new manager of the team will be, all visitors to the directors' box on matchday are seriously scrutinised. during the norwich game, listees noted the presence of one naomi campbell, supermodel. this pic was on the offish *, and while rumours of her dancing to the strains of pigbag may be exaggerated, there is definite evidence of fan attire as denoted by the small splash of blue and white which could be a club scarf. there is no evidence, however, that she was invited to give a team talk on the appropriate channelling of aggression.

* offish - official website

a boston-area online report on our swordfighting class

a guy named rick came to the end of the beginners' class and asked some questions. then i went home. here is his report.

some excerpts:

"Beginners won't know that thrill of discovery until later. (They can also put off the purchase of a big metal helmet for a while.) The early training sessions focus almost entirely on footwork, posture, and hand movements. As Deily explained, "You want to make sure people are safe before you give them big, heavy wooden things." Nonetheless, at the end of the sessions, Deily, a patient teacher with a way of being opinionated without being pushy, lets students get their hands on the weapons. It keeps them coming back.

[ravaj], a newcomer to the group, grew up in London, where she would visit the Victoria and Albert Museum and admire the armaments. As she left Thursday's practice, she confessed, "I'm glad to be able to go home and say I had the sword in my hand." For [ravaj], joining the Schola is a kind of revenge against her childhood, where the boys would always play King Arthur, and the girls would wait to be rescued. Soon, she will be the one with the sword. Plus, it's good exercise, and you don't get a pair of metal gauntlets when you go to the gym."

From what Bostonist saw, the Schola offers a great workout, both intellectual and physical, in an encouraging environment. You do have to keep on your toes at the Schola; you never know when one of Deily and Barolsky's two young girls, aspiring sword masters, will launch a sneak attack."

i always forget how different what one says at the time comes across when used in an article. i said nothing about revenge against my childhood, but it kind of sounds like i did although it is not a direct quote. meanwhile, it's great for the programme to get written up. also, he picked up my attraction to the gauntlets, and he did spell all our names correctly :-)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

flying pigs and crashing hopes

rowly scores the goal

bad news out of the way first: tomorrow i have to run the gauntlet of all the red sox fans at school. they will jeer me because they are red sox and the yankees lost to cleveland last night and are out of the playoffs. i will stand tall. as tall as a short woman of short russian peasant origin can stand :-)

however ... pigs fly past my windows as i record the joyous news that on 8th october, the anniversary of my youngest sister's birth, queens park rangers finally won a game this season, beating norwich at home 1-0 courtesy of a penalty slotted home by martin rowlands. hurrah. no longer are they the only team without a win in the whole football league! and - supermodel naomi campbell was spotted in the directors' box wearing a qpr scarf and dancing to the pigbag song. the entire occasion was utterly surreal.

in the end, the r's are my true love. and so i rejoice, then turn back to my as-yet-unfinished homework.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

scratch my back and i'll scratch yours?

last week in the weekly column of john allen jr posted on the national catholic reporter conversation cafe, he interviewed cardinal francis george from chicago. one of the highlights allen notes from the discussion that took place on the second of october was:

"George said the American bishops have asked for clarification from the Vatican as to whether the pre-Vatican II rite can be used during Holy Week, a question made acute by a controversial Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews; If the old rite can be used in Holy Week, George said, a more positive prayer for the Jews from the new liturgy will "probably" be substituted for the old one - though at the same time, George said, this discussion could also be an occasion to ask Jews to renounce unflattering depictions of Jesus in the Talmud"

actual excerpts from the interview follow, which you may read here. they include some discussion of the recent broadening of permission the pope has given for the celebration of the pre-vatican ii latin mass. this includes the liturgy for good friday which has a prayer in it calling for the conversion of the jews. the part of the cardinal's response that stands out for me is this:

"Of course it can be done (changing the text of the prayer), and I suspect it probably will be, because the intention is to be sure that our prayers are not offensive to the Jewish people who are our ancestors in the faith. We can't possibly insult them in our liturgy … Not that any group has a veto on anybody's prayers, because you can go through Jewish texts and find material that is offensive to us. But if we're interested in keeping the dialogue strong, and we have to be, we should be very cautious about any prayer that they find insulting. 'They,' however, is a big tent. What my Jewish rabbi friend down the block finds insulting is different from what Abraham Foxman [national director of the Anti-Defamation League] finds insulting. Also, it does work both ways. Maybe this is an opening to say, 'Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature's description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?'"

apples and oranges for me. in the cause of interfaith relations, there may be a place for some discussion of jewish terms for jesus in the talmud. however, those passages in the talmud are not public prayers that are part of the liturgy of a worship service. we do not sit in synagogue and refer to jesus as a bastard. in fact, if it were not for the unfortunate history between our two faith traditions, we would not refer to jesus at all since he is utterly irrelevant to either our theology or our philosophy. so i think the cardinal's response is a bit disingenuous. it tries to shift the focus of the issue away from the public catholic religious practice of a particular prayer that denies the jewish people the right to their own identity.

then there is the lovely headline in today's telegraph: Call for Jews to stop calling Jesus a bastard. hmmmmm.

anna politkovskaya, one year later

in the time-honoured fashion of an english gentleman, the undersigned wrote a letter to the times, published yesterday:

A day to remember Anna Politkovskaya
Sir, Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the murder of the Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

We the undersigned are all supporters of the human rights organisation RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR), and this weekend we will be making the first Anna Politkovskaya Award to recognise women who are defending human rights in zones of war and conflict.

We call on the Russian Government to bring to justice, in full conformity with international standards, both those who killed Anna Politkovskaya and those who have ordered her murder.

We also call on the world’s leaders to pledge to do everything in their power to protect the journalists and human rights defenders who work in areas of war and conflict, and who speak out on behalf of the victims, as Anna did.

We owe it to the memory of Anna to protect the very few who still speak out, on behalf of those to whom nobody wants to listen.


i don't know who some of these people are, so i am going to look them up and link to what i find!

[some time later]

whew. learned a lot in the last while. click on some of the names, why don't you? oh, and the * is for the 3 guys for whom i couldn't find a decent link.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

alexandra boulat r.i.p.

i had never heard of alexandra boulat until today. then i read the following in the new york times:

Published: October 6, 2007
Alexandra Boulat, an award-winning photographer known for a clear, descriptive style and a knack for making emotionally moving, often idiosyncratic images of people affected by war, died yesterday in Paris. She was 45. She died after suffering a brain aneurysm in June and falling into a coma from which she never emerged, her friend Gary Knight said.

Ms. Boulat’s work appeared in many publications, including National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and Paris-Match. For most of the 1990s, she photographed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Her picture of Kosovar women surrounding a flag-draped coffin was a runner-up in the Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for Magazine Photography presented by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and she won many other awards for her work. Before the current war with Iraq, she was in Baghdad for National Geographic and gave attention to the lives of affluent people at a time when most photographers were interested in showing only Iraqis’ misery. During the war she took pictures that told about death in different ways, like a body wrapped in a white sheet. “You can show a war without showing a gun,” she said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shortly after the United States invaded, “and that’s interesting — in only one photograph.” She published two books, “Paris” and “Éclats de Guerre,” both in 2002.

Alexandra Boulat was born in Paris in 1962. Her father, Pierre Boulat, was a photographer for Life magazine for many years, and Ms. Boulat began as his assistant. Her mother, Annie, founded the Cosmos photography agency, based in France. The younger Ms. Boulat studied graphic art and art history and worked as a painter before turning to photojournalism in 1989, when she joined Sipa Press, a French photography agency. In 2001 she helped found the VII Photo Agency, which dedicated itself to documenting conflict — environmental, social and political. In addition to covering the wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq, she reported on the fall of the Taliban. Occasionally, she ranged far afield from war: Her coverage of a Yves Saint Laurent fashion show won accolades. For most of the last two years, she lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah. American Photo magazine in 2005 said that her photographs of Arab women “reveal cultures more diverse than many Americans imagine.”

Ms. Boulat is survived by her mother; her sister, Antoinette; and her partner, Issa Freij."

we are/were just about the same age. i look at all she did in her life, and maybe it can inspire me to make a little more out of the time i still have. i hope so.

london times obit here.

anne frank's tree gets a reprieve

as previously reported in your-ears-should-hear, the horse chestnut tree that anne frank described in her diary was condemned by the amsterdam city council last year.

today, the bbc reports that the city council has given those who wish to save the tree until january to come up with a plan:

"The attic window from which Anne Frank could see the tree was the only one that had not been blacked out. In an entry dated February 23, 1944, she wrote: "From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind ... As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."

Ton Boon of the Amsterdam Centrum borough told Agence France-Presse news agency there was "only one Anne Frank tree" and it had been agreed to allow time for a possible rescue plan. Experts say the 27-tonne tree is too diseased from fungi to be saved and the owner wants it cut down as he would be liable for any damage caused should it fall. A Utrecht-based firm, Trees Institute, has suggested a salvage plan involving treatment and support for the trunk and limbs. Spokesman Edwin Koot told Associated Press: "The tree represented freedom... to Anne Frank. We must go the extra mile to try to save it." "

Friday, October 05, 2007

memorable aliens

diana, a visitor

the times tomorrow has a piece on the forty most memorable aliens which you may find here. these are the nine from their list that i like the best:

ming the merciless

the lizardy visitors in "v"

smash robots

zaphod beeblebrox

mr spock

the clangers

doctor who



HOWEVER ... where are the female aliens? ok i just remembered diana in "v" and found her picture, but apart from that where are they and why aren't they in this list? what about seven of nine? princess leia? can you think of any strong female alien characters except in the star trek series? and how many can you think of there?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

colchester 4-2 qpr

a goal!

yes, this is a photograph of a rare thing - a qpr goal. i think it is being scored by loanee rowan vine on his debut. i could be wrong - personnel is changing so much at the club at the moment that i do not recognise many of the faces. in any case, it is a goal. being scored. by us. joy to the world, or at least me and my qpr friends :-)

looking forward to the l word?

here is a trailer for you from youtube:

i am probably the only one in the world who does not want to see mama b and mama t get back together again. first because, well, it just doesn't work for me. mainly because i love mmmarlee mmmatlin and want her to stay on the show!!!!!

medieval italian swordsman (and woman) ship

today i went to my first class. my mentor teacher's husband teaches, and when she mentioned it i thought it sounded like fun so she suggested that i try it out and i did and i'm going back next week.

that is the short version. the slightly longer version goes like this: i had no idea what to expect. it did not cross my mind what a serious kind of exercise swordfighting could be. the first thing we did was run laps around the gym (i thought the whole point of a sword, ha ha, was so you didn't have to run away). also lots of stretches. we are following the teachings of fiore de liberi. i am a new student - zugadore and thus will be studying the fundamentals of fiore's longsword, stance, grip, poste, colpi, punte, and fundamental defenses. tonight we started learning about stance. that is illustrated by the elephant at the bottom of the picture with the tower on its back. we have to learn balance and stability, as well as how to keep our upper body like the tower. for homework there is footwork to practice!

i now know one of the nine dagger master moves, and one thing to do with a large king arthury wooden sword that i forgot the name because i am soooo tired and some hitherto undiscovered muscles are also announcing their presence by aching. i also tried on some seriously cool gauntlets that made my hands look like robo-ravaj. i was a bit scared by the helm, and will have to talk myself into trying it on next time. i did love the gauntlets, though :-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the pain of loving qpr

gareth ainsworth at the end of the debacle

ok, so we were stuffed 1-5 on national television and the next morning our manager got the sack. lots of logistics and practicalities and cetera. look in gazza's eyes. he tried as hard as he could. he got our goal. but we are pants right now and there is nothing we can do about it. when people like ainsworth are playing in the team, defeat is not so terrible. nobody can do more than their best. what is sickening is when it looks like the players are just a bunch of journeymen pocketing their wages and turning up and that's about all. but in most sports you can't sack the players for not doing a good job. unlike the real world.

yes it's only a game and in the real world etc etc. i think, though, if you are a fan, it is part of your real world. i think of my friend techie, and her husband and kids, and the amount of money they spend on travelling and tickets every year not to mention shirts and programmes and other souvenirs. and there is also the time they invest in this passion. they're not rich. and they deserve better.

36 years i've been a qpr supporter. none of this manure or chelski business. wet wednesday nights in stockport and a coach-ride home in the wee hours discussing what went wrong. relegation, and more relegation. massive amounts of money wasted on useless players. there are also wegerle wonder goals at elland road, and beating liverpool at anfield, manure at old trafford, chelski 6-0 one sunny easter monday. hard to remember all that at the moment, though. once the numbness wears off, it is going to hurt.

is this anything like being a chicago cubs fan?

time for me to get back to my homework ...