Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Flower in Liz's Garden

Sometimes it is just a crisp, clear Sunday morning; and Liz is going to make us Jamie Oliver's apple pancakes. While we wait, we check out her garden.

PS UK blog-niks don't forget to put your clocks back an hour right now!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Satiable Curtiosity

This picture was on the Telegraph website today. My first thought was, "it's the Elephant's Child!" One of my favourite stories ever, although when I went to an American nursery school a couple of years ago to share it with the kindergarten class I suddenly realised it was utterly politically incorrect because they were all spanking each other, and I had to make some speedy and unsatisfying adjustments as I read aloud. Anyway, poor little elephant of course but also the story come alive:

"'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'for I am the Crocodile,' and he wept crocodile-tears to show it was quite true. Then the Elephant's Child grew all breathless, and panted, and kneeled down on the bank and said,

'You are the very person I have been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you have for dinner?'

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'and I'll whisper.' Then the Elephant's Child put his head down close to the Crocodile's musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.

'I think, said the Crocodile--and he said it between his teeth, like this--'I think to-day I will begin with Elephant's Child!' At this, O Best Beloved, the Elephant's Child was much annoyed, and he said, speaking through his nose, like this,

'Led go! You are hurtig be!' Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said,

'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson.' This is the way Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk. Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled."

You may read the rest of the story here. To be reassured that the baby elephant was saved, you may read this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is Bert Gay?

Is Bert from Sesame Street gay? The Telegraph thinks so. It claims that Bert tweeted a slang word for gay:

"In a message posted on Twitter about the premiere of the recent A-Team film remake, the mono-browed Muppet said on his official page: "Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T's? The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk."
The remark meant nothing to most readers, but sparked intrigue in certain gay circles, where "mo" is shorthand for "homosexual."

Personally, I think that whatever two puppets do in the privacy of their own homes is none of our business. O, and Bert is the one on the right.

Did He See It Coming?

Pauls of the world are in mourning, as Paul the Psychic Octopus is dead. The obvious question: did he see it coming? Sadly, we shall never know. The Guardian reported:

"Stefan Porwoll, the manager of the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany that the tentacled psychic called home, said Paul appeared to have died peacefully of natural causes during the night.
"We are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here and that the care provided him by our dedicated displays team could not have been bettered," Porwoll said. (He continued), "We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine.""

Or you could read about firefighters striking on Bonfire Night, or the cholera epidemic in Haiti, or Tariq Aziz having been sentenced to death. No? Ok then, Paul. it shall be.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Growing Up

This is a picture of the actress Karen Gillan, who plays the character Amy Pond in the current incarnation of the popular TV programme "Doctor Who". She is holding the new action figure of her character. I want one. Would prefer the actual character but a. she is young enough to be my daughter and b. she is fictional. Would settle for a dalek I guess.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It Gets Better - with Hillary R Clinton

Those who have already taken their own lives because they could no longer bear the bullying and the stigma for being homosexual must not have died in vain. Listen to Hillary, and all the others supporting this project!

Other vids on YouTube

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Really? Truly?

Saw this AP photo earlier today from the ALCS game 5 at Yankee Stadium. Hooligan invasion, no big whoop. Then I saw the caption:

"In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, New York City police officers and Yankee Stadium security subdue Grim LeRogue after he ran on to the field at Yankee Stadium during the fifth inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series between the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees in New York. New York police said Wednesday that LeRogue was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital."

Grim LeRogue. Grim LeRogue? What kind of name is that? His Superhero name perhaps? So I googled him. Sadly, he cannot blame his parents, since he has a real name. It appears to be Joe or John Rogan, depending on which source you check. They say he hated Alex Rodriguez, and was trying to confront the Yankees third baseman. If that requires a psychiatric evaluation, then check out all Red Sox fans and half the rest of the baseball world.

Official Funniest Jokes of All Time

So the list of the 50 funniest jokes of all time is in. Caveats include that the list was published in the Daily Mail, that the jokes are English ones, and that only 36k people voted. Bearing that in mind, here are my favourites, and the status they achieved in the poll:

49. A seal walks into a club...
33. I was having dinner with Garry Kasparov and there was a check tablecloth. It took him two hours to pass me the salt. (an old Tommy Cooper gag)
32. 'Four fonts walk into a bar the barman says "Oi - get out! We don't want your type in here" '
30. I'm in great mood tonight because the other day I entered a competition and I won a years supply of Marmite......... one jar.
18. My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance. We'll see about that."
16. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
11. 'I went to the doctors the other day and I said, 'Have you got anything for wind?' So he gave me a kite. '
8. Doc, I can't stop singing the 'Green Green Grass of Home'. He said: 'That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome'. 'Is it common?'I asked. 'It's not unusual' he replied.
7. Two aerials meet on a roof - fall in love - get married. The ceremony was rubbish - but the reception was brilliant.
6. Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one - and let the other one off.
2. 'I went to the zoo the other day, there was only one dog in it, it was a shitzu.'

I hated the number one joke, though. If you must know, have a look here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Look Me In the Eyes

Tanja Kiewitz is doing her bit for disability awareness. CAP 48, a non-profit organisation that highlights disability issues across Belgium and France, have used her in an advertisement based on this old Wonderbra ad:

If you know a little French, you may read more on the CAP 48 website here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things You May Not Know About Dr Suess

10. The American Heritage Dictionary credits Dr. Seuss as the originator of the word nerd, which made its first appearance in his 1950 book, If I Ran the Zoo: "And then just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo a Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!"

9. He was asked why he added the title “Dr.” to his pseudonym? He replied that his father had always wanted a doctor in the family.

8. He once drew cartoons on the vest of a distinguished naval officer, whom he caught sleeping.

7. At the 1985 Princeton University Commencement Exercises, where he was to accept an honorary degree, the graduates stood and recited the entire text of Green Eggs and Ham.

6. Publisher Bennett Cerf wagered $50 that Ted couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. In response, Ted wrote Green Eggs and Ham, one of his most popular books. Ted often joked that Cerf never paid up.

5. The impact he has made for children's books was massive. He has been credited with killing off "Dick and Jane", the sterile heroes of older children's books, replacing them with clever rhymes, plot twists and rebellious heroes who do the unexpected. The Cat in the Hat was commissioned following publication in 1955 of an influential book, Why Johnny Can't Read, which said children were being held back by boring books. An article under the same name in Life magazine called for more imaginative illustration, and named Dr Seuss as a good example of what could be done. Now one in four American children receive Dr Seuss as their first book.

4. Horror movie icon Boris Karloff narrated the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

3. His trademark is verse written in anapestic tetrameter.

2. One of NASA’s deep space explorers, the Data Relay Solar Electric Utility Spacecraft (DRSEUS) is called the “Dr. Seuss”.

1. He crossed out Marvin K. Mooney from the title of his book Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now! and wrote in Richard M. Nixon after the Watergate Scandal. Nixon resigned nine days later.

Thanks to the sister of ravaj for tweeting the original link. And thanks to Movietome for the trivia.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What is a Miracle?

So back to the Chilean miners (please don't yawn). One of the miners is reported as having said that while it was not God who caused the accident, and it was not God who rescued him; God was with him in the mine and helped him to get through the ordeal. In response to that, the rabbi at religion school this morning told the following story to the children:

A flood came to the village, and people panicked. The most religious man in the village was not worried at all.
"God will save me," he said. The waters rose higher and so the man moved to the upstairs part of his house.
"Save yourself!" people shouted at him, "leave while you still can!"
"I am fine," he said, "God will save me." A boat came by the first floor window.
"Jump in!" cried the people in the boat.
"No, that's ok, God will save me," said the man, and the boat went away. The waters rose higher and now the man had to sit on his roof. A helicopter came by and lowered a ladder to him.
"Climb up the ladder!" said the helicopter pilot.
"No thank you," said the man, "God will save me." The helicopter flew away. Finally the waters rose so high that there was nowhere left to sit and the man drowned. When he arrived in heaven, he demanded to have a meeting with God. This was arranged.
"What is the problem?" God asked the man.
"I am a religious man," he replied, "I believed that you would save me. I waited and waited and waited. Why didn't you save me?" "What do you mean?" God cried, "I sent you a boat! I sent you a helicopter!"

Miracles and magic are not the same thing; and when humans work together to help each other, perhaps they are inspired by the divine spark that is within us all.

One Down and Three to Go

Not it's not American Football but rather it is baseball. The New York Yankees are battling the Texas Rangers for the American League Pennant. Last night the Yanks made an amazing 8th-inning comeback to win 6-5 in the end. Mark Teixeira (above) and I are rather happy about that.

Pun's the Word

Somewhere there must be someone who likes a good pun. Is it you? I googled the top ten best puns and here are my 3 favourites:

3. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

2. Did you hear about the guy who emailed ten puns to friends, in the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh? Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Not laughing yet? O dear I am sorry.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unanswerable Questions

The BBC recently reported that the search engine Ask Jeeves has a Top Ten list of unanswerable questions. Here they are:

1. What is the meaning of life?
2. Is there a God?
3. Do blondes have more fun?
4. What is the best diet?
5. Is there anybody out there?
6. Who is the most famous person in the world?
7. What is love?
8. What is the secret to happiness?
9. Did Tony Soprano die?
10. How long will I live?

Here are some possible answers that I Googled:

1. 42
2. Einstein says yes.
3. Charles Darwin thought not, but could not prove it.
4. Atkins and WeightWatchers says the Telegraph.
5. Pink Floyd.
6. God, Elvis, Michael Jackson and the Beatles.
7. A simple Buddhist guide to romantic happiness.
8. Tranquility and rationality are the cornerstones of happiness says Epicurus.
9. Yes. And no.
10. Find out for yourself, but don't expect to understand the answer.

Women of the Wall

In solidarity with the women of Jerusalem who wish to read Torah at the Western Wall and are being arrested when they try, we held a Rosh Chodesh service for the month of Cheshvan at Westminster Synagogue in London. Women read Torah regularly here - they should be allowed to where and whensoever they wish!

Find out more here.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Two Months and Still Up There

True Queens Park Rangers fans are very confused at the moment. Our side is top of the league still after 10 matches, amazing goal difference, unbeaten, and winning awards. Jamie Mackie (above), who was signed from a relegated team, makes his first start for the Scottish national side in the European Championships this week. Newspapers are referring to us. And Chris Hollins (last year's winner of Strictly Come Dancing, as well as the son of an ex-player) presented his dancing commentary for this year from the pitch at Loftus Road. We are not used to this. And, rather than enjoy it, all we can do is say "Sssssssssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and try not to jinx it.

When does it get to be fun?

A New Year and Finally a New Post

First of all, a couple of obituaries I had meant to post:

It's only 50 or so years ago (ok, 56) since racial segregation was outlawed in American schools. Jefferson Thomas, who died last month, was one of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to test the federal government's desire and ability to enforce the new law. The Telegraph reports

"Jefferson Allison Thomas, the youngest of seven children, was born on September 19 1942 in Little Rock. He was keen to attend Central High because he wanted a better education than the one available at the local all-black school, which had second-rate facilities and hand-me-down equipment. Central, by contrast, had science laboratories, modern textbooks and an impressive record of college placements."

There was a happy ending and there were some unhappy endings. Thomas was one of the three of the Nine that graduated from high school. However,

"Thomas said his role in the integration of Central High "destroyed the family base," and recalled that his father had been sacked from his sales job because of the controversy. Callers threatened Jefferson Thomas, friends cut him dead and strangers threw missiles at his house. Thomas senior scraped by as a handyman and, the day after his son's graduation, moved the family to California."

The rest of the article is here.

In contrast to the story of oppression and discrimination related above, I was struck by the story of Michael Burn, who also died last month. He started out as an admirer of the Nazis, and even got to meet Hitler. He became disenchanted after a visit to the KZ at Dachau. In 1942, he was captured during a mission to prevent the biggest German battleship - the Tirpitz - from leaving port. Originally held prisoner in a concentration camp, he was moved to Colditz, where he received Red Cross parcels from Ella van Heemstra, better known as the mother of Audrey Hepburn. After liberation he received a Military Cross. The Telegraph notes:

"(After the war) he helped save Audrey Hepburn's life, by sending food parcels to her in occupied Holland where she was critically ill in hospital, and where she and her mother were subsisting on tulip bulbs. Burn also sent them hundreds of cartons of cigarettes, which commanded high prices on the black market. The money raised from their sale bought Audrey Hepburn supplies of the new drug penicillin, which were crucial in her recovery from an infection brought on by malnutrition."

What else can I tell you? He wrote a novel and a play and poetry as well as ghost-writing books and working as a newspaper reporter. He got a degree in Social Sciences from Oxford University. He ran a mussel-farming co-operative in North Wales. He hung out with the Cambridge spies. He spent the last years of his life living on the Portmeirion estate. And there is so much more ... read it here. Certainly a very full life, but also interesting to me because of the way he changed over time, especially politically. It is possible.