Monday, August 22, 2011

London Statuary - The Hand of God

Early yesterday morning on our way to a funeral, we noticed that our beloved sculpture of a Fiat being clutched by a ginormous hand was being taken down, and another set in its place on Park Lane. It turns out that "Vroom Vroom" was on temporary loan as part of the local council's cultural preparations for the Olympic Games next year.

The latest piece to sit across from the Dorchester Hotel is by the same artist - Lorenzo Quinn. It is called "The Hand of God", and is pictured above. I am still getting used to it, particularly as I had thought of that exact title for its predecessor.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Euphoria Comes Easy at Everton

Here we see Tommy Smith delighted at having scored what turned out to be the winning goal for QPR at Everton today as the remaining professional Neville brother holds his head in his hands.

After the utter misery for our fans of a summer under the now-departed owners of the team, and the abject defeat at home to Bolton last week, I was ready to spend my time moaning about the new "mango"- coloured away shirts. Without hoops, it just is not a Rangers shirt. However, Mr. Akos Buzsaky (O Akos my Akos) passed the ball to the afore-mentioned Mr. Smith, who kicked it into the goal. Suddenly the afternoon, the day, the entire weekend became sunny and bright. Hello clouds. Hello sky. We won!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feminist Cartoonist Fights Back!

This is one of a series of Orangina ads in France. The ravaj has always thought Orangina to have the best-tasting diet orange soda. But if you know as much French as the ravaj, or more even, then after reading this (via the fascinating Blog d'une Chienne de Garde) you might have to join us in rejecting the product because of its sexist advertisements.

Ms. Chienne has also shared her perspective via the following cartoon:
If that doesn't put you off the boisson ...

Reality Bites

It didn't take long for a positive attitude about QPR's chances in the Premier League to shatter in the face of a 0-4 defeat at home to Bolton Wanderers yesterday. There was the first-minute goal that was disallowed:
Then there was Bolton's second goal, which we kindly scored for them:
Not to mention the rush of blood to Clint Hill's head that got him sent off about ten seconds before the end of the match:
But the resilience of the human spirit is amazing, and QPR friends and fans are already trying to find silver linings and looking forward to next week's game up at Everton. And isn't it nice to see a Premier League shirt without a stupid sponsor's name splashed all over the front?!

Bring on the Toffees!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Premier League Here We Come

Ok so those who own and rule my beloved football team Queens Park Rangers have shown their disdain for us - the long-term hardcore fans. They have not invested they way they should have this summer, and they have priced the regular fan out of the stadium. They are still sticking with the ugly club badge that looks like a pair of fallopian tubes. Nevertheless, there is always something about the first day of the new season, some hope and a bit of anticipation. It's up to the players this afternoon, and I cannot help but root for them. Nu - good luck my QPR heroes, this afternoon against Bolton Wanderers and all season long.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Thought for Last Week

Here's a little bit I wrote for last week's online thought for Liberal Judaism:

"The Shabbat before the fast of Tisha B'Av is sometimes referred to as the Black Sabbath. It marks the third Shabbat between the 17th of Tammuz, when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem; and the 9th of Av, when they destroyed the Temple (in the year 586 BCE). These three weeks are historically a period of misfortune for the Jewish community, and traditional observances follow various aspects of mourning, for instance, no weddings are celebrated, listening to music is prohibited and haircuts are eschewed.

It is also Shabbat Chazon, the Sabbath of Vision, named for the Haftarah portion read at this time. The prophet Isaiah tells his vision of God's frustration and anger with the Children of Israel, who have strayed far from the path of righteousness. "The whole head is sick," says God, "the whole heart is ill. From head to foot, nothing is sound." (Isa. 1:5-6) The Israelites continue to pray and make sacrifices, but God considers it to be lip service, "Bring me no more futile offerings ... I cannot endure festivities along with evil!" (ibid. v 13) God's people have turned their backs on the teachings handed down through the generations, "O how the faithful city played the whore! Once [she was] so full of justice; righteousness dwelt there; and now - murderers!" (ibid. v. 21)

It is easy to distance ourselves from the behaviour of ancient people following ancient practices. Yet we too are Children of Israel. We also live in times of misery and destruction. We make mistakes, and we behave badly - are we really so different from the people portrayed in the Tanach? Why then is it so hard to learn from their examples?

Perhaps we are embarrassed by the wrongdoing of our ancestors. We glance at the stories now and then with the same disdain with which we would consider a prurient article in a tabloid newspaper. Jews don't do things like that. Or is it that our Progressive perspective distances us from the simple descriptions of reward and punishment related by the prophets in their books? Jews are more civilised than that. The fact is: for every human being in every era the pull of the yetser ra - the evil inclination - is equally strong. Ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu; we have all been tempted, we have all betrayed our potential, we have all wasted time and energy inappropriately. It is disingenuous to think that any one of us is exempt from reciting the litany of misdeeds included in our High Holyday prayers.

What then is the example that the prophet Isaiah is presenting to us in this portion? First, we might note that rather than lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem itself, he focuses on the reasons for its downfall. While it is important to mourn what has been lost, it is essential to consider what caused such a calamity. With such information we may begin to repair the world. Isaiah highlights the hypocrisy and the corruption of his generation. In turn, we need to look at the relationships that trouble us, and try to find the source of the discord. Then we must approach the problem and start to solve it. If our vision is not clear, Isaiah's is: "Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes, cease to do evil. Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." (Isa. 1:16-17)

From the famine in Somalia, to an argument at work; the sister with whom you do not speak, to the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo; from children in need, to a lie you told to save face; the advent of Tisha B'Av reminds us that it is never too soon to turn away from temptation, nor to be proactive in the healing of ourselves and the world around us. The vision of Isaiah gives us hope that it is not yet too late to avert a disastrous fate. We can make a difference. If we choose to."

Are The Boris Bikes Behind It All?

This weekend the World Triathlon for men and for women was held in Hyde Park. One event. One weekend. I hear that Brits won both races. Hurrah.

It is the plan that next year this will be an Olympic course. For these races Hyde Park Corner and roads leading to it were closed. That means Park Lane, Piccadilly and arteries towards Victoria, Chelsea and Kensington. Buses were diverted but no signs shared to where. People were prevented from entering the Underground because it was too full. Streets were gridlocked. Taxis? Feh! Mounted police patrolled Knightsbridge. Walking was certainly possible but the rainfall was severe and very wet.

Nu? This was just one summer weekend full of shoppers and tourists. What on earth is going to happen during the Olympics when sports fans join the mix? Currently, Londoners are being advised to make alternative transport arrangements for getting to work at that time. Unless we shall be issued with personal jet-packs, I fail to see what those alternative arrangements might be. Except, perhaps, to sign up for the Mayor of London's bicycle scheme?

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Very Important Question

As usual, Calvin asks the important question. But there is always the possibility of a change of mind and/or heart. Take, for example, a cricket match in Nottingham yesterday. An England batsman was given out just before tea, but after a discussion in the pavilion, the Indian captain decided to reinstate him. He did not have to.

Today's Guardian asks: "Is upholding the spirit of cricket more important than getting rid of an in-form opposition batsman?" Votes are currently running at over 70% for Yes. While I am glad to see such a percentage, it is also sad that such a decision has been a cause for praise and rejoicing, rather than accepted as standard practice.