Thursday, January 31, 2008

aaaaahhhhh, torvill and dean

i don't know how it happened. one minute i was working hard, and the next there i was trolling youtube for old clips of rodnina and zaitsev. i had forgotten how big a deal ice skating used to be ... of course in those days it was something that english people did quite well so it was on the television quite a lot.

here is the free dance from 1994, a decade after their great triumphs, in which torvill and dean demonstrated their continued domination of form and content.

welcome fu long!

lucky dragon ventures out of the cage

after several weeks of shyness, fu long, the first panda cub born in europe for 25 years, has finally appeared out-of-doors at his home in the vienna zoo. *sigh* - adorrrrrrable! excuse me while i nip off to get another shot of insulin. here's another pic to enjoy while i am gone:

amber and america chat with hillary

thanks to ms snarker for posting this video from youtube. just in case you didn't see it over there, i brought it here for your viewing pleasure. it is obviously aimed at a certain age-group. i enjoyed it anyway. i do think america ferrera is rather adorable.

once hillary stops bobbing her head in a listening yet knowing way, and starts to talk in a more personal way, i really want to believe her. and why shouldn't i? must i be cynical? *sigh* especially as she begins by complimenting barack. *another sigh*

btw, there was also an obama video with this one, a campaign ad by caroline kennedy. also extremely persuasive.

Monday, January 28, 2008

julie christie wins a screen actors' guild award

i am becoming american! ok, legally i always have been, but being so far away from home for so long i am starting to think that if something is said in an english accent somehow it sounds classier. thus, despite thinking that the make-up peeps haven't quite got it right (too much blush for that natural english rose look)(not to mention the hairdressers - what were they thinking?), i went a bit gooey when listening to julie christie's acceptance speech. see what you think:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

what we are fighting for

in the end, i still do not yet know for whom i will be voting in the primary. while the candidates are busy playing politics, i am just trying to get my work done. does anybody remember the years before watergate, when presidents and kings and prime ministers were looked up to with respect as leaders and nobody knew what they did when they went home? that's not to say that they were any different of course ... it's just that sometimes i yearn for those days of ignorant innocence. *sigh*

meanwhile, a quote that i just found on 'fetch me my axe':

"The thing that must survive you is not just the record of your practice, but the principles that are the basis of your practice.
--Bernice Johnson Reagon"

and that is why i want to be a teacher.

holocaust remembrance day

today in europe was the observance of holocaust memorial day. it is still possible to light a candle here. for information about the history of this day, which was instigated originally by the european parliament in 2000, look here.

libby purves posted the following prayer, said to have been found by the body of a dead girl at the ravensbruck camp:

"Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. Do not remember all the sufferings they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we bear, thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humanity, courage, generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness."

the soldier bear

'voytek', a bear that was adopted in the middle east by polish troops in 1943, has had a campaign launched in scotland to put up a permanent memorial to his life and work says the bbc:

"He was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943. They adopted him and as he grew he was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds. When Polish forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him. So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign. He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at the army camp in the Scottish Borders. The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with. "He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp. "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man." When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo."

more details in an article from the daily mail here.

goal fiesta

in the absence of a qpr game this weekend (since it was a cup weekend and they are no longer in it, although the chap who scored for the non-leaguers against liverpool at anfield is a qpr reject), here is a youtube collection of high points so far:
and in case you have forgotten, i looooove akos buzsaky!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

the ravaj is teaching maths!

i do not recall if i have mentioned this previously, but in my current incarnation as a student teacher, i had to pass a maths exam in the summer. not having studied mathematics seriously (except for a couple of weeks before the gre's, and that is another story) for approximately 27 years, i was terribly intimidated by our first lesson back in june. i could not understand a word the teacher was saying, and after 3 hours i was in tears. our amazing teacher managed to turn this all around, however, and i ended up passing the summer exam with a score of 93. now, i am teaching some 3rd grade maths. it is a miracle! and here is a pic to prove it!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the bees have ten years to live?


the telegraph reports that we are truly near disaster:

"The decline in honeybees is risking the sustainability of home-grown food. They pollinate more than 90 of the flowering crops we rely on for food. They are estimated to contribute more than £1 billion a year to the national economy yet the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), spends an average of only £200,000 a year on research to protect them."

when speaking recently with a friend, she laughed this off, saying we shall be able to genetically engineer the food that we need and the demise of the bees is not a major problem. i love her dearly, and thus did not tell her to buzz off. however one may estimate the effect of the decimation of the bee community, the fact that does not seem to be disputed is that the bees are dying. i don't have a vote in the uk, but some of you do. i do pay a few taxes though :-) nu, government, do something! SAVE THE BEES!!

*sigh* if only it were that easy. read the rest of the report here.

readers' response to ravaj

now and then we here at your_ears_should_hear like to share with you what we have heard about what you have thought about what you have read. this week, for your edification and entertainment, we present some commentary regarding the nature of football from continent to continent. a couple of days ago we received the following message:

"Protest of Anglo-centric reportage!

Dear Ravaj,

As a regular reader of your otherwise lovely blog I must protest your sports reportage!

All we see is pix of English "footballers"! Yesterday our Patriots (who play football, be-emmet) won the AFC playoffs and their 18th in a row! Not a word from you! Can this be a not-so-subtle attempt by a Yankees fan (FEH!) to undermine the morale of us locals here in Red Sox Nation!? As a "resident alien" you ought to have more respect for those of us with resident (more-or- less-permanent) status!

Sincerely yours,

S. Anthony A-----, D.D. (Hon.), Emeritus-in-Exile"

delighted that we have a reader (we have a reader!), we felt we should write a thank-you note, including in it some points of clarification:

"dear anthony sir

despite the aberrant fact of my birth occurring in manhattan, new york (thus making me no less alien than your good self), i have had the advantage of growing up in an environment where the queen's english was spoken. i therefore point out, with all due respect, that the game that i live and die for aka football is the one where the players use their feet (hence 'foot'ball, since they usually use one at a time). it is not the strange tribal war game in full body armour where players throw with their hands and catch with their hands and only use kicking with their feet as a last resort (either for the extra point, a field goal, or in anger).

with regard to this american version of football, may i also note that my favourite aunt, who hopes to become 83 this year, nearly had a heart attack whilst watching her beloved green bay packers last night. i fail to see why i should condone a (so-called) sport that besides being erroneously named is also a danger to the health of my loved ones.

yours sincerely
- dame ravaj of shepherds bush.

ps what the heck - go giants!"

latest re anne frank's tree

the bbc reports that a deal has been made that will absolutely definitely save the tree that anne frank wrote about in her diary:

"Dutch officials and conservationists have reached a deal to save the tree that brought comfort to Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis. The 150-year-old horse chestnut will be supported by a frame before the summer. The Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation won a court injunction in November stopping the city of Amsterdam from cutting down the diseased tree. Officials feared it could topple over and crash into the Anne Frank Museum, which gets a million visitors a year. The city of Amsterdam, the museum, the tree's owner, the Netherlands' Trees Institute and the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation agreed on the plan, which was worked out by a team of experts from several countries. An Amsterdam judge granted the tree a temporary reprieve last year, after the city council ordered it to be chopped down. Neighbours and supporters argued that, as a symbol of freedom, the tree was worth making extraordinary efforts to preserve. Even for posterity, grafts have been taken from the chestnut and are being raised in a nursery to replace the old tree if it turns out it cannot be saved again in 15 years' time."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

academy awards 2008

an image of uncle oscar

that reminds me, i must be the last movie buff blogger on the east coast to note that the nominations for this year's academy awards were announced today. the full list is on the academy's site. i have only seen two of any film nominated for anything this year. and i want julie christie to win, even though i haven't seen her film yet. "movie buff" she said she was? hey, this has been a tough year, what with going back to school and moving and cetera. i still know who van nest polglase was and can recite herbert lom's full name!

bisodol is brilliant!

i am quite excited this evening. both of my north american housemates had acid indigestion, and i introduced them to the magic of bisodol powder. tums had failed, there were no purple pills available and pepto just felt doubtful. "this stuff is magic!" i said, "the moment it hits it starts to work. it tastes a bit foul so don't put in too much water, but i promise it will work." L2 swallowed, made a face, and pronounced me a witch. in a good way. hey, her current facebook entry says, and i quote directly from the page, "is loving English pharmaceuticals... they taste awful, but they work!" then L1 decided to try it, and admitted it had some effect. i'd like to thank the academy, and of course my mother (for buying me the box in the first place).

Monday, January 21, 2008

wonderbra woman

you would not believe how many hits i have been getting for the blurb about jeremy paxman and his pants. big papers took up the story and now it seems all people are thinking about is knickers. in an effort to be egalitarian, i now bring to you the latest news from wonderbra. after a previous commercial that ripped off the drumming gorilla from the cadbury's chocolate ad:


the company has now engaged the stunning dita von teese to be the new, er, face of wonderbra. the telegraph reports:

"Von Teese is renowned for her "traditional feather fan dance" as well as her "boudoir/bathtub show", according to her website. In 2005, she performed naked except for $5 million worth of diamonds for a benefit show at the New York Academy of Art. In her latest "Lipteese" show, she straddles a giant lipstick that spins and bucks like a mechanic bull, her website explains. She has also published a book, Burlesque/Fetish and The Art of the Teese, and is credited with being the main force behind "New Burlesque", the recent revival of burlesque dancing."

it all sounds quite wonderful, but i think it may take a bit more than this to talk me out of my marks & sparks underwire bras :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

elizabeth holloway marston

who?

i just heard of her myself a few minutes ago. elizabeth marston was the wife of william, the creator of the comic strip character 'wonder woman'. and then, of course, she was so much more!

this 3-page article in the boston u alumnae quarterly from 2001 describes her life in much greater detail. here are a couple of highlights:

"Elizabeth's husband, William Moulton Marston, a psychologist already famous for inventing the polygraph (forerunner to the magic lasso), struck upon an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love. "Fine," said Elizabeth. "But make her a woman.""

"In an era when few women earned higher degrees, Elizabeth received three, starting in 1915 with an A.B. in psychology from Mount Holyoke College. Next came law school. William, then her fiancé, was headed for Harvard Law, but the school excluded women and would until 1950, funneling them instead to its sister school, Radcliffe. Elizabeth rejected the program as "lovely law for ladies" and opted for Boston University. "She approached her father for support," recounts her granddaughter, Susan Grupposo. "He told her: 'Absolutely not. As long as I have money to keep you in aprons, you can stay home with your mother.' "Undeterred, Gram peddled cookbooks to the local ladies' clubs. She needed $100 for her tuition, and by the end of the summer she had it. She married Grandfather that September, but still she paid her own way.""

an amazing woman. go. read.

bobby fischer is dead

this news is a couple of days old, but i have been struggling with what to say about it. bobby fischer was undoubtedly one of the greatest chess players ever. he also turned into an unbelieveably paranoid recluse, appearing in public only to make horrific comments. he was extremely antisemitic, despite the fact that his mother was a jew, and maybe also his birth father. i wouldn't bother to comment at all, except that indirectly bobby fischer was an important person in my life.

when i was in junior school, i was mad about chess. our form teacher started a chess club, and taught us how to play. in those days, girls were not usually encouraged to play chess, but we were. i made it onto the school chess team, and was the only girl. we won the west london schools under-11 league - the only medal i have so far received! meanwhile, my father and i would play chess together. one of my fondest memories is from the time of the fischer-spassky world championship. the moves were published in the newspaper, and my father and i would play them out on the chess board in the front room, and try to understand what was happening.

sadly, in 1974 my new secondary school - all girls - had no chess players, and my sister refused to play me even if i gave up both rooks and the queen before we began. thus i fell out of practice ... and my father started taking me to see qpr!

suzanne pleshette r.i.p.

another smart, funny, gorgeous woman is gone. 'newhart' was not a well-known show in the uk, and i fell for suzanne pleshette via her turn as a schoolteacher in 'the birds'. waaaaay cooler than tippi hedren! she should rest in peace.

yahoo obit
wiki
more than emily hartley (fan site)

go read what ken levine has to say about suzanne pleshette. the link is at the top on the right (alphabetical by first letter). here is a taste of his eulogy:

"Sometime in the mid 70s Lorenzo Music, one of the creators of THE BOB NEWHART SHOW (and voice of Carlton the Doorman and Garfield the cat) and his wife Henrietta starred in a pilot. I went to the taping. For the big finale Lorenzo & Henrietta were joined on stage by the MTM all-stars. All the cast members from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, RHODA, PHYLLIS, maybe even PAUL SANDS’ FRIENDS AND LOVERS was that year. It was quite dazzling. Idols like Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore in her absolute prime. But the thing that struck me was how Suzanne Pleshette was so stunningly beautiful that it was almost like she was in color and everyone else was in black in white. She was simply radiant. Shimmering. Breathtaking. And all she did was just stand there.

If there is such a thing as star presence Suzanne Pleshette had it.

She passed away on Saturday. She was only 70. Don’t smoke."

paxman's pants

the bbc's newsnight host, jeremy paxman, is mad at marks and spencer. he believes that the quality of their socks and underwear has fallen. being paxman, he contacted the ceo of the company to discuss the matter, and they will have a meeting in the near future. meanwhile, there is apparently so little of note in the world to be reported today that the daily mail decided to share mr. paxman's woes with us all. and i read the article. well, it spoke to me, it really did. in particular, it was this quote:

""Like very large numbers of men in this country I have always bought my socks and pants at Marks & Sparks," Paxman said."

until i dated lld, it was the same for me. m&s pants and bras my entire life. i remember when i was on kibbutz for 6 months and members of the congregation brought me a care package from my mother, it included a couple of pairs of lovely new knickers.

what is it about marks & sparks and underwear? i don't really know. i suppose it is some kind of middle-class english thing :-) nu - if you have had your fill of primaries and kenya and gaza and cetera, the article is here.

btw the mail also reports that m&s is planning a revolution in the world of men's pants:

"... the elimination of the visible pants line. The new pants will have a seamless design and are being made from material developed for women's lingerie." huzzah!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

chaiken's angels

thanks, as always, to ms snarker, for this screen cap from the upcoming l word episode. my favourite angel was always sabrina. my favourite sabrina is always audrey hepburn!

qpr 2-0 barnsley

patrick agyemang celebrates

a goal by agyemang in the first five minutes of his home debut (and his second in two games) led qpr to a home win this afternoon against their opponents from yorkshire. they went two up on half-time through rowan vine, thus leaving us with an hour of extreme stomach churning as we waited to see if they could hold on this time. they did. just. huzzah!

vine scores the second

Friday, January 18, 2008

graziano cecchini

here is an amateur video, without sound, of an event that took place last week in rome on the spanish steps.
graziano cecchini, according to the bbc, "said he had done it to raise the profile of Burma and the Karen people." they then tell us that "The Karen are a minority who have fought for an independent state since 1949, and accuse the military junta of ethnic cleansing."

here is the story. i am particularly amused at the image of uniformed police running round with dustpans and brushes trying to catch the little plastic balls. i have absolutely no idea of what the current crime rate is in rome.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

dropping them like flies

kieron st amie

somebody is running amok at qpr and it is very disturbing. loadsa money and long contracts are being thrown at what appear to be random players in the league, and our dear friends who have been sitting in the shadows for a couple of years are being dismissed without so much as a thankyou or a goodluck.

the lone blogger who keeps googling kieron st amie will no longer find any hoops connections. also cast adrift are former hope for the future pat kanyuka, and winner of the best qpr name ever shabazz baidoo. they are all rather young and should find other chances to shine. i do hope so.

torchwood is back!

earlier this evening i was delighted to accidentally stumble upon a review of the new season of 'torchwood'. it talked a lot about being so terribly gay but all i could take in was that it is back and that soon i shall be able to watch it myself! i have been scouring youtube in preparation, and took the following piece home with me:

sadly, i am still a complete slut for a welsh accent :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

seven-letter word for scrabulous on facebook

that word is: illegal.

news is that the owners of the original scrabble game (hasbro and mattel) are complaining about copyright infringement by facebook in the hosting of one of its top ten applications - scrabulous.

see the full story here.

i have to say that the app has got me into playing scrabble when i never liked it before, and keeps me in touch with a number of friends. surely there is an amicable solution out there? hmmmmm ... lots of people should be home from school by now - i'd better go check and see if it is my turn again yet!

bye bye biggie

marcus bignot captaining the 'r's

one of my favourite players of the last few years - marcus bignot - has left queens park rangers. a shorter defender often pitted against rather tall attackers, he was benched and dropped quite a lot. however, he had the heart and soul of an r, and that is the kind of player every team cannot do without. the qpr official site quoted him:

""The promotion party at Hillsborough is a day I will remember for the rest of my life, while it was also tremendously satisfying to skipper the side to Championship survival last season. ... I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I wish the Club, and its fantastic fans, every success in the future. You are the Rangers boys, stand up and make some noise.""

all the best to you as well, marcus!

Monday, January 14, 2008

happy birthday little blue ones


2008 is the year the smurfs (or, as i prefer them in german, die schlumpfe) turn fifty. to be honest, it is difficult for me to think of cartoon characters that i like less than the smurfs. foghorn leghorn perhaps? tiny toons and the goodfeathers? that, however, is just my particular taste. according to the son of their creator, the smurfs continue to flourish, and many new projects are in the offing. hey, what do i know?

the newest israeli-palestinian

the grauniad reports that daniel barenboim will become probably the first person in the world to hold israeli and palestinian citizenship at the same time after being granted palestinian status in recognition of his work promoting cultural exchange between young people in israeli and arab worlds. the full story is here.

"In a pointed reference to US president George Bush's recent comments on the Middle-East conflict in which he talked of Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank, Barenboim added: "Now even not very intelligent people are saying that the occupation has to be stopped.""

roger stone z"l

being 3000 miles away when people die, especially people who have been part of your family's life since before you were born, is an odd place to be. in a way they are no less present in your current life, since there they already exist in memory alone. at the same time, the fact is that they have gone. but if you don't go to the funeral, if you don't see them put in the ground and you don't throw some earth on top of the coffin, then in some way it isn't quite over. this is one of the few situations when i understand what it means when someone says they have 'lost' someone. i hate euphemisms, and think we should say 'dead' when we mean 'dead' and not 'passed away' or 'passed on' or other phrases of their ilk. in this case, however, they really feel lost. the fact is that i may have seen roger once in the past couple of years briefly at services. nevertheless, he existed, if ever i cared to look him up or call him. now he has gone, and where i do not know. he was my mother's b/f at the time she met my father. my grandmother always thought my mother made the wrong choice, since my father was a rabbi and roger's parents had an indoor swimming pool at their house. my mother and he stayed fond of each other ever since. roger died in hospice care on saturday night. may he rest beneath the wings of shechinah.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

julie christie wins a golden globe

when the movie 'away from her' came out earlier in the year, the ny times interview with julie christie noted her utter detachment from her ueber-stardom of the sixties and seventies:

"“I have no connection with that person at all,” she said over lunch in a pub near her home in the East End. “That person has gone.”"

years before i knew what i felt or why i felt it, i was in love with that screen icon. i searched the forest for the girl in 'fahrenheit 451' ... my troika followed lara's trail across a snowy russian landscape ... bathsheba everdene, lady marian ... a succession of stunningly beautiful and completely distant women drew me to them ... but that's a story for my shrink.

today christie wins a best actress award for a woman disappearing into the world of alzheimer's disease. i hear the film is excellent. my current inertia permitting, i hope to see it one day on dvd, and congratulate her on her achievement. meanwhile, i was thrilled to recognise her recently in the role of madame rosmerta in 'harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban' :-)

nora ephron channels woody allen

i am getting old my friends and the winter closes in. a builder friend in his forties spent the night in the museum upstairs from my mother's flat. the toilet wasn't working up there so she said she would leave the front door open in case he needed to go in the night. 'i never get up in the night,' he told her. 'o he's so young,' i said to my mother when she told me and we laughed together.

just now, i think i read an op-ed in the ny times where nora ephron compares some of the past with some of the present. it included the following, which took me back to nights of reading "without feathers" under the covers with a torch:

"I have to say, there was something romantic about the desperate search for an answer. On the road to trying to remember the name of Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, for instance, you might find yourself having a brief but diverting chat about Alger Hiss’s wife, which might in turn get you to a story about Whittaker Chambers’s teeth, which might in turn get you to Time magazine, which might in turn get you to Friday nights at Time magazine back in the old days, which might in turn get you to sex. "

if i were to start ranting about the good old days, i think i would yearn for the greater time and space there was for the utterly random. today we need the answer, and it has to be correct. there is no time to spare for wondering why the opposite of 'inept' isn't 'ept'.

o yes, now go read the rest of nora ephron's piece.

plimoth piglet

piglet visits the plantation

while our students examined the thatching process at close quarters, piglet posed in the centre of the settlement. we understood that the pilgrims treated young piglets very well, although their fate was usually to be roasted.

an unforgettable moment from the vicar of dibley

my mate cantor jsm reminded me of other great british comedies today, specifically 'the vicar of dibley'. when i went home for xmas, they reran last year's special, which was happily new to me. there was a brilliant moment, which has me laughing and crying at the same time, that i wanted to embed here for your delectation and delight. sadly it is not embeddable, but do please try this link. it is the beginning of the denouement, so spoiler alert if that is important to you. n. says the bloke who plays harry is very nice, and i think she said he supports liverpool.

the major and the moose

when it comes to sharing what makes me laugh with friends in this country, sometimes i despair. even those who love mahn-tee pie-thahhhhhn cannot seem to find humour in the genius that is embedded in 'fawlty towers'. my favourite episode is probably 'the germans' from season one, and while i seek my most favourite moment of all on youtube, here is another fave to be going on with:


oh c'mon, tell me that you at least sniggered a little bit ...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

as any fule kno

nigel molesworth goes to hogwarts? i am confused. my childhood hero who taught me all i knew about boys at prep skool is now in hufflepuff?

"gulp tremble chiz all eyes are upon me as i flounder. hermoine grangers hand shoot up and she cri sir SIR i kno please sir me sir she is a swot and a sneke like all gurls. Do not mind pore nigel she sa he went to a muggle prep skool and kno 0. Gosh chiz that is a bit much.

"Thank you miss Granger when i want yore opinion i shall ask for it," sa snape. Klass titter and hermoine hav the grace to turn red ha ha sucks. Snape then take five house points from huflepuf while slytherin oiks and cads larff.

"One last chance clot. who discovered the mandrake eh?"

"was it osama bin laden?"

"any more of yore cheek molesworth one and you will be cleaning out the manticor's pen for the rest of term. i supose you do not even kno how to produce lite from yore wand by saing lumos."

"But surely sir lumos hav a greek nom. ending whereas the root come from lat. lumen luminis a lite as any fule kno?"

"That will do molesworth. one trillion house points from huflepuf and see me afterwards.""

for the rest of the story, click here. meanwhile, if you kno not of molesworth one, perhaps wiki may help you.

btw, the wiki article suggests that the name 'hogwarts' may have been a shout-out to molesworth by j k rowling.

says his name is buzsaky

akos in action this afternoon

defiant in defeat, i celebrate my latest rangers hero, and rue the fact that i did not run down loftus road with the little boy, his parents, and some yobboes to ask akos to take a picture with me.

new team, old result - the 'r's lose in sheffield

patrick agyemang scores on his debut, but two goals in four minutes send qpr to another defeat, this time at bramall lane.

i am strangely numb at the final whistle, although this may have more to do with the news from home that one of my mother's oldest friends (and the man she was dating when she met my father) just entered hospice care. we lost, the scum won, and roger is dying ... may he go in peace.

tom hanks knows his footie

about 50 seconds into the report, mr. hanks namechecks my rangers:

fear of phobias

the times yesterday picked up a cute little story from the new scientist magazine about the proliferation of obscure phobias that plague modern humans. i cannot seem to find the original online, although i can offer you this site, through which you may find a gazillion phobias and their definitions.

meanwhile, examples in the times include:

Coulrophobia - fear of clowns
Francophobia - fear of the french
Lutraphobia - fear of otters
Octophobia - fear of the number eight
Paraskavedekatriaphobia - fear of friday the thirteenth

the times article concluded: "It was left to Alexander Gardner, a psychologist, to sum up the proliferation of phobias. “I have a fear of Times reporters,” he said. “I have to go.”"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

sir edmund hillary r.i.p.


breaking news from the bbc:

"Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, has died aged 88. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark described the explorer as a heroic figure and said all New Zealanders would deeply mourn his passing. Sir Edmund's health had reportedly been in decline since April, when he suffered a fall while visiting Nepal. He was the first man to climb the 8,850m (29,035ft) peak with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953."

wiki

and now, a few hours later, some obits:

"Hillary's life was marked by grand achievements, high adventure, discovery, excitement — and by his personal humility. Humble to the point that he only admitted being the first man atop Everest long after the death of climbing companion Tenzing Norgay. He had pride in his feats. Returning to base camp as the man who took the first step onto the top of the world's highest peak, he declared: "We knocked the bastard off.""
yahoo news

"... he had a narrow escape when the ice gave way as he was moving loads up to this camp, plunging him into a crevasse. Fortunately Tenzing, who was following, thrust his ice-axe in the snow, and whipped the rope round it in good belay. It tightened just in time to prevent Hillary being smashed to pieces at the bottom of the crevasse. Thereafter Hillary began to think of Tenzing as the ideal partner in a bid for the summit."
daily telegraph

the times 1953 report on the conquest of everest is here.

hillary's own account of the conquest here.

"Remarkably though, the climb went unrecorded in picture form. While Sir Edmund took the famous photo of his sherpa companion posing with his ice axe, he refused Norgay’s offer to take one of him. Norgay had never used a camera before “and the summit of Everest was hardly the place to show him how”, Hillary later said."
the times online

"He will not just be remembered as a mountaineer, albeit the most celebrated in the sport's history. "Ed's greatest legacy is the assistance he gave to the Sherpa people," said Mr Dingle. "As a result of seeing Nepal and his love of the mountains and the people, he went back and suggested that he could help in some way." Known to the Sherpa people as Burra-sahib – meaning "big in stature, big in heart" – Sir Edmund never forgot the place that gave him, in every sense, his international prominence."
the independent

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

o my gosh - the L word is back!

thanks to ms. snarker for finding pics from the premiere party on sunday.

now *this* would make me happy!

Monday, January 07, 2008

anne frank - the musical?

the bbc reports that a musical version of the diary of anne frank will open in february in madrid. the director, rafael alvero, is quoted as saying:

""When I first came here, they had this doubt about how somebody can do a musical of a story like this, ... Of course this is emotional. The thing we want to do is through the music, to understand the story better.""

i have to say that my initial reaction is wtf?! i'm sorry, but the first picture in my mind is the nazis crashing through the offices heading for the attic and mr dussel singing "they're coming to take me away, ha ha!" i'm sorry but i just don't see hiding from the nazis and then dying in a concentration camp as subject matter for musical theatre. not even really for an opera. hmmmmm.

read the whole piece here.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

current uk teen slang

just to make us, well, me at least, feel unbearably ancient, here are some definitions of the latest language developments in the world of some young brits:

Book: an adjective to describe something that's really cool. That's because it's the first option given in predictive text when typing "c o o l".

Cotch down: hang out, chill or sleep. Thought to derive from the French word for sleep, "coucher".

Elton: a lavatory. Derived from the fact that "john" means this in America, and the name of a well-known pop star.

Flat roofin': to be overworked and stressed, as in "I was flat roofin' for my GCSEs".

Igry: embarrassed. "Stop doing that, you're making me igry."

Klingon: younger child - particularly your irritating brother or sister.

Mouldies: parents. Abbreviation for "mouldy oldies". See also rents.

Nang: cool, excellent, brilliant.

Oudish: very good, excellent, wicked.

Tear: to leave quickly, run away. "You ready to go? Then let's tear"

Vanilla: boring, dull - particularly when referring to someone's taste in clothes. "Look at her checkers - vanilla or what!"

Wafwaan: what's up, what's going on. Originally from Jamaican slang

Za: abbreviation of "pizza". "Let's grab a za before the movie."

nb the original article is here.

what the papers said when it was all over

poor old lee

although i presume that the second-string team chelski put out would have moved up a gear if we had actually put the ball into their net, the fact is that we only lost 0-1, and they couldn't even score the goal themselves. the amount of energy and excitement this match has engendered in the current qpr fanbase as i experience it (i.e., through the listserve and message boards) is unparallelled in recent years. i just hope it continues over the rest of the season - it really can have an effect on the team! meanwhile, let's trot out the platitudes of the national press:

"Queens Park Rangers, with their regiment of newly-signed players, gave Chelsea a thorough run for their money in this London derby, going down to a single, freakish goal which came after 28 minutes. Chelsea’s Claudio Pizarro drove in a right-footed shot, Lee Camp, the QPR goalkeeper, seemed to misjudge it as he dived and had the mortification of deflecting the ball into his own net off his arm as it came back off the left-hand post."
brian glanville in the sunday times

"There was a period of pressure in the penalty area that threatened to put QPR on their way to their first win at Stamford Bridge in 21 years, while Chelsea relied on a goal that bounced off a defender, post and goalkeeper to book their place in the fourth round. There was also an expectation that Rangers will be not only as rich, but as competitive as Chelsea in the near future."
grauniad

""It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" – Matthew 19:24. No one knows, until they shuffle off this mortal coil, whether St Matthew is right, and Premier League footballers will spend eternity with their faces pressed up against the Pearly Gates, but on this earthlyrealm having a few bob has its advantages, especially when it comes to lifting the FA Cup."
the indy

actually, these guys weren't quite as platitudinous as i had expected :-)

hugh massingberd r.i.p.

until i read this obituary, i did not know who was considered responsible for my love of reading the telegraph obituaries! i believe it was this man, hugh massingberd. read his obit here.

"Massingberd had been struck by Brief Lives, Roy Dotrice's one-man show about Aubrey at the Criterion theatre. This made writing obituaries fun, seeing how close you could get to Aubrey without becoming archaic. The new style drew in many new readers, and, surprisingly, there were few complaints. Once, a visitor, being shown around the Telegraph, was told by his embarrassed guide that the place where all the unseemly laughter was coming from was where they wrote the obituaries."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

what the papers say - before the match

"A measure of the excitement engendered by the investment of Ecclestone, Briatore and Mittal is that long-suffering QPR fans are already referring to new signing Akos Buzsaky (the Hungarian international) as 'the new Stan Bowles'. "Excitement is the key word after the uncertainty of years of administration and lack of money," acknowledges Gareth Ainsworth, the much-travelled midfielder now in his fifth season at Loftus Road"
the telegraph

"Avram Grant, the Chelsea first-team coach, is well placed to tell Luigi De Canio, his opposite number at QPR, how to deal with a billionaire backer. The combined fortunes of Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal, the Coca-Cola Championship club’s owners, far outweigh that of Abramovich, giving QPR a competitive advantage over their Championship rivals that could result in the return of this West London derby as a regular fixture."
the times

"De Canio insisted that they would be spending their money sensibly. "These are successful and rich men because they've always handled their finances well," he said. "Just because we have the potential to spend a lot of money doesn't mean that we will necessarily do that. We're following a carefully planned project in which we must get the balance right between investment, footballing success and technical results."
the independent

"Rangers used to be as unassuming as Chelsea were flash. In the years since Simon Barker equalised John Spencer's goal to earn Ray Wilkins' side a point on their last visit to Stamford Bridge, the drama which has enveloped this pocket of Shepherds Bush would have been considered too outlandish for a failing soap opera."
the grauniad

"But enough vulgar triumphalism (there's time for that when we win the Champions League). Instead, a note of caution: everything we have ever known is about to change. Should we be careful what we wish for?"
our own benjie goodhart in the grauniad

"But (Ray) Wilkins cannot see the FA Cup holders being dumped out, adding: "QPR go into the tie in good form with four wins from their last six but all 11 of their players will have to be at their very best and five or six of the Chelsea boys will need to be below par if they are to get anything."
daily mail

""I remember getting promoted at Sheffield Wednesday in 2004 and still realising administration was hanging over us, with none of us knowing whether we'd be paid the next week and that we might not be getting our bonuses. "We've come full circle since then. We've got Chelsea in the FA Cup and suddenly it's potentially two of the biggest clubs in the world playing each other. It's amazing."
daily mirror

"It's WestEnders
IF the scriptwriters of Footballers Wives ever submitted QPR’s recent history for screening, the plot would be rejected as being too far-fetched. A club on the verge of bankruptcy rescued by a couple of Formula One magnates and Britain’s richest man. Then there were guns in the boardroom, a player tragically killed in a car crash, another stabbed to death, mass brawls with the Chinese national team and now a dream FA Cup clash with their superstar neighbours Chelsea."
the sun

and bbc sport on why they are NOT covering our match live:

"The other tie a number of people have mentioned is Chelsea v QPR. This will be a full-blooded local derby, but we normally prefer it if the lower-ranked club is at home, where they tend to have a better chance. Should Rangers hold Chelsea to a draw, Loftus Road would be a leading contender to stage a live replay. "

Friday, January 04, 2008

getting psyched for the f.a.cup third round tomorrow

my beloved 'r's are going to the heartland of the enemy tomorrow, having been drawn against the infamous chelski in the 3rd round of the cup. with the advent of new shareholders that have more money than god, qpr are suddenly a hot story for the newspapers et al: chelscum and their oil-rich russian billionaire owner versus newbie high-rollers backed by their steel magnate and his money pots. i just hope our fans do not embarrass themselves by showing off in the shed tomorrow - waving UKP20 notes at the opposition and chanting stupid and provocative chants for the morons and the international television audience.

meanwhile, although we are bound to be tonked, here are some pics of GOALS and scorers from the last couple of games:

stewpeas celebrates his goal against leicester city on new year's day.

rowly blasts his second goal at vicarage road.

what's his name? he said to me. said his name is buzsaky. buzsaky, buzsaky, says his name is buzsaky.

geek of the week

when ravaj was recently in london, she visited mecca, aka loftus road the home of queens park rangers. since she arrived so terribly early at the stadium, she was able to soak up such elements of the atmosphere as the smells of the burger van behind the wall, stray groups of wandering colchester fans, and the arrival of the qpr players. despite the many recent loans and transfers, ravaj was still able to recognise a few heroes and, inspired by a 4-year-old boy, decided to celebrate with a couple of photographs:
here she is with the 'r's longest-serving player in the current squad. his name is gareth ainsworth, and he is often nicknamed 'gazza' or 'wild thing'.
and here she is with the team captain, adam bolder. since there are about 8 new players who joined the club in the last couple of days, he may not be the captain for much longer. at this moment, though, passers-by are still in awe of his very presence. or his scarf.

don't deify benazir bhutto

a quote from an op-ed by william dalrymple in today's new york times:

"Benazir Bhutto was certainly a brave and secular-minded woman. But the obituaries painting her as dying to save democracy distort history. Instead, she was a natural autocrat who did little for human rights, a calculating politician who was complicit in Pakistan’s becoming the region’s principal jihadi paymaster while she also ramped up an insurgency in Kashmir that has brought two nuclear powers to the brink of war."

i have been resisting all those who have had negative things to say about bhutto in these last few days. i did not want to accept any criticism against someone that i have admired. now the shock of her assassination has abated somewhat, it is a little bit easier to move towards a balanced view. in the interest of that purpose, i selected this particular quote. the rest of the article may be read here,