Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, November 30, 2006

16. Very much, and then I gave it to my daughter

I couldn't resist linking to this, especially as I was reading Abby's book while on holiday.

I can't decide which is funnier: making up my own questions to fit the answers, or reading some of the suggestions in the comments box.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And still another twenty-five first lines

This time round there are some artists we've had before, and one spoken intro. Usual rules: no Googling; title isn't in the first line; identify song and artist; answers in the comments box. Good luck.

1. John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy just to leave the folk music behind.
The Mamas and the Papas: Creeque Alley - guessed by Lisa

2. What a life it would be if you would come to mine for tea
Oasis: Digsy's Dinner - guessed by

3. A girl consumed by fire, we all know her desire
The Stone Roses: This Is The One - guessed by

4. Daddy, daddy, come and look; see what I have found
Tim Rose: Come Away Melinda - guessed by
Tim (artist guessed by Phil)

5. Never meant you no harm, never meant you no harm, yeh yeh

6. In the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan
Ian Dury and the Blockheads: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick - guessed by

7. Une rue les gens passent, les gens comme on les voit
8. Indifference is the hardest blow

9. When I look out my window, many sights to see
Donovan: Season Of The Witch - guessed by Jason

10. If you should tell me that I'll always be the one you'll always love so true

11. You're in denial, you're in denial, and I know
The Magic Numbers: Mornings Eleven - guessed by

12. Billy Dalton staggered on the sidewalk
Kris Kristofferson: The Law Is For Protection Of The People - guessed by
Eddie Louise

13. Billy-Ray was a preacher's son
Dusty Springfield: Son Of A Preacher Man - guessed by
Eddie Louise

14. Yeah, said its all right
Love: Alone Again Or - guessed by Jason

15. Somethin' filled up my heart with nothin'

16. Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain - guessed by Jason

17. In this dirty old part of the city
The Animals: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place - guessed by

18. I met her in a club down in old Soho
The Kinks: Lola - guessed by

19. In the days, the golden days, when everybody knew what they wanted

20. When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone
R.E.M.: Everybody Hurts - guessed by
Eddie Louise

21. The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime
22. All night long you’ve been looking at me
23. So far from home, my cry of pain won't ease my longing heart

24. San Francisco Bay past pier thirty nine
Stereophonics: Have A Nice Day - guessed by
Eddie Louise

25. With your photographs of Kitty Hawk and the biplanes on your wall

Slimy Spice: the unknown sixth Spice Girl

Today I looked at the papers and made a prediction. I thought to myself: if I go to Kesher Talk or one of these other apologists-for-Israeli-actions-however-many-civilians-end-up-dead sites, I will find carpet-munching fury at the thought of Ehud Olmert's showing an atypical Israeli interest in peace with the Palestinians.

I didn't have to look far. This one is cross-posted on Kesher Talk: so good, she posted it twice, or something.

These guys are funnier when they're less predictable.

That'll fix it, thought Ron: but he was wrong

While I must confess a certain admiration for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, it isn't necessary to be a fan to enjoy this picture, which shows the lengths some people will go to in order to advertise their political affiiations:

Monday, November 27, 2006

First they came for the South Africans

This makes me mad.

What makes me - and just about everyone else on Scotland - particularly furious is that up here we have more jobs than people to do them: we need immigrants. And because immigration is a reserved power the Westminster government can pull stunts like this and throw out people we could really use. No wonder most Scots want independence.

Over in Jane's comments Steve said "Is this why I voted Labour?" Well it's one of the many reasons why I didn't, and won't. If I wanted a Tory party I would have voted for the genuine article. If there are no socialists or nationalists on the ballot next time round, it will be the Monster Raving Loonies for me.

< / Hiatus >

Well, I'm back, as Sam Gamgee remarked after a more adventurous journey.

Poland was good fun, and I'd recommend it to anyone for a visit. My final morning there was rendered interesting by the very friendly Pole who had insisted on giving me a lift to the airport. I had to be there by 0510 so I asked him to come at 0445, and set my alrm for 0415. I was woken up by someone knocking on my door asking if I was still asleep. I panicked, shot out of bed, checked my clock....0345. Oh well, I was awake, so I got dressed and we went to the airport anyway, arriving at about 0415. Fortunately I can doze almost anywhere, evn the plastic seats at Frederic Chopin Airport.

I can understand why more people go to Krakow than Warsaw as a tourist destination: I certainly could't come close to doing it justice in a day-trip, even ruling out Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine in advance as too long to fit into one day. The Mariacki church was very impressive: partly because of this but even more because of this.

But Warsaw has enough to fill several days, and one has to be impressed by the energy of the Poles at rebuilding a city which was left by the Nazis in a state of destruction compared by an American general to the aftermath of Hiroshima (and to judge from photographs, he wasn't wrong). Of course, almost every street has a memorial to someone or other executed by the Nazis, or killed in the Ghetto Uprising of 1943 or the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Or, of course, sent off to the Gulags by the invading Red Army:

But with beer at 4 zl (= £0.72) a pint, and with a big hunk of hot onion-topped pizza bread available from a stall from 1 zl (= £0.18) - to say nothing of a "small" vodka being a 50 ml slug - one can get past the walking-on-dead-people creepiness. And the live people are extremely friendly, especially if one makes even a token effort to speak Polish.

Though this arriving at quarter to four instead of quarter to five needs to be stamped out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rockets Galore

It's good to know that while I've been away Tony Blair hasn't amazed me by, you know, showing any common sense over the need (or total lack thereof) to replace our look-at-us-we're-really-an-important-country-please-pay-us-some-attention-no-wait-come-back "nuclear deterrent". As though it deterred anyone from anything in the modern era, any more than the USA's enormous arsenal protected it from 9/11. So Blair and Brown can strut around seeing who looks more out-of-date and irrelevant while our health and education services are starved of funds. Marvellous.

I think this sums it up perfectly.

Time for the Monster Raving Loonies to form a government, surely.

Wherein I drop by again

Hi. I'm sitting drinking coffee and killing a little time in a Internet cafe here in Warsaw. Nothing too energetic today, having spent yesterday wearing out my shoes tramping around Krakow (to say nothing of about 5.5 hrs on - very nice - trains). Plus I have to be up at utterly-ridiculous-o-clock to get to the airport tomorrow.

I've enjoyed my time here in Poland. Friendly people (sometimes very chatty), beer at about 80p a pint, and some wonderful medieval buildings esp. in Torun and Krakow).

And, of course, some wonderful old Stalinist monstrosities like the Palace of Culture & Science (now showing an exhibition of Barbie and Lego - how the world changes!)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wherein I put in an appearance

Well, here I am, sitting in an Internet cafe just round the corner from ulica Kubusia Puchatka, in fact. My flight to Warsaw was rescehduked to take off three hours earlier, which ,meant getting up at silly o'clock. The return one is not only an hour earlier (already silly o'clock) but is now on Saturday rather than Sunday. Ah well, I suppose that's why these things cost sod all.

The Hostel Kanonia is very nice, or as far as I can tell it is. It turned out to be full and to have outsourced me to Garden Villa, not in the Old Town but about 3.5 miles out in Mokotow, in the grounds of a mental hospital. Actualy, having made that sound really bad, the hostel's OK, and I've got my tram routes sorted out. Yes, good old clunky Varsovian trams! Yay! I wainto town yesterday afternoon to get my bearings, then trammed out after having a (very nice) dinner. Today I mainly toured the remains of the Warsaw Ghetto, which managed to be depressing and uplifting both at once. Also an ace museum of the Warsaw Uprising, as in "The Pianist" and the Wajda trilogy (they had a little clip from "Kanal" playing on a loop near a mock-up of a Warsaw sewer). A sobering reminder not only of how badly Stalin treated the Polish insurgents, but of how half-hearted our own support was. Then on to the Frederic Chopin museum, which is however until the end of November the Closed For Restoration We Apologise For The Inconvenience museum. Then a short walk to locate the Pooh plaque from my previous post, then here to an Internet cafe, I can report that Polish keyboards have the letters in the usual place but I keep hitting @ when I want " and vice versa. Oh, and no pounds sign.

Off to get a beer and some dinner now. I am thinking in terms of a day trip to Torun tomorrow, but who knows? This is clearly Tolerance of Radical Change week for me. Maybe Torun will declare UDI before I get there.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wherein I hiate (maybe)

I'm off to Warsaw tomorrow for a week. The place where I'm staying claims to have Internet access, so I may be back here from time to time. Or then again, it may be



that I

chew off




frustration. Who knows?

I liked the website of my hostel though, especially the page covering reception. Personally, I rarely if ever wish to rent toes when on holiday. Perhaps they cater for Pobbles. It wouldn't surpise me: this is, after all, a city with a street named after Winnie The Pooh.

Late News

A work colleague happened to mention to me that Anna Russell had died last month, which I'd entirely missed. She was 94, which is pretty impressive. Best known for her synopsis of Wagner's Ring Cycle, which has become essential listening for Wagner fans in the same way that What's Opera, Doc? is essential viewing. Like that classic, of course, it isn't only for Wagner buffs; far from it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Q: why does Heather Armstrong keep winning blogging awards?

A: because she writes lines like this:

And this is why I like to hide behind the computer, because here I can go back and re-read a thought I have written down and fix it so that it doesn’t say, “The change that we’re going toward into for that and everything,” a sentence I said out loud on Friday morning while staring directly into a camera.


Personally I'd include people who buy National Lottery tickets

The bank I work for is, of course, nothing at all like this one, and I'll fight anyone who says it is.

Though there are many occasions when I wish it was.....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lean cuisine: or, six of you get legs while the other four have to make do with wings

I originally linked to this in Joe's comments box (read this post to find out why). But I though it was worth sharing with my own readers.

I love the idea of Szechuan scorpions; but it's the "chocolate chirp cookies" that had white wine coming out of my nose.

Lies, damned lies, and blog visitor statistics

OK, all the paranoia washing around Kesher Talk must have infected me, because I was a little creeped out by my current blog stats. Consider:

of my last 100 visitors, 30 have entered EKN via its December 2005 archive page;

every one of those 30 is based in the US;

what was so interesting to American readers in what I posted last December?

It clearly isn't a denial of service attack. Perhaps there's something in one of those posts which I could be about to get sued for (unlikely).

Also, 9 visitors entered via the page with the Waterhouse Ophelia picture which Lisa posted.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The worst pun you've read all year, or your money back



Why publishers need to keep abreast of linguistic developments:


Once she picks you up on her antenna, you'll never be free of her spell

I don't mean to sound impatient, but......when is the next instalment of this going to appear? It's been four months with no word from Alma.

Maybe Clare should have another go. She might manage to work in a double bass and a disembodied leg somewhere.

Through the mouthpiece of Lord Snooty's giant poisoned electric head. So there.

On Monday I was at the Usher Hall to see the 40th anniversary reunion tour of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band *. No Vivian Stanshall, of course (though I saw him perform solo when I was a student), but most of the other original members were there: Neil Innes, Roger Ruskin Spear, "Legs" Larry Smith, Vernon Dudley "Bo-Hay" Nowell, Sam Spoons, and still in marvellous form. Roger Spear in particular was awesome, playing his Theremin-in-the-shape-of-a-human-leg in "Noises for the Leg", going crazy on the electric trouser press, and continually running on bearing a trumpet and being wrestled to the ground by people in police uniforms with "Trumpet Warden" on the back of their fluorescent jackets. Bob Kerr (he of the Whoopee Band) was also in the party. The role of Viv S was surprisingly ably filled by Phil Jupitus and Adrian Edmondson depending on the song: Jupitus did the honours on Canyons Of Your Mind, Big Shot, Mr Apollo and so on, while Ade's songs included Tent, Rhinocratic Oaths, and a memorable version of The Strain. (At the end of Rhinocratic Oaths, he said "There are thousands of people out there who know every word to that song, and I can't believe how lucky I am to be the one up here on stage who gets to sing it".)

There is a DVD of an earlier concert on the tour (featuring Stephen Fry and others doing the Stanshall parts), and if it's anything like last night's gig it will be worth buying. I bought myself a "Wrestle poodles and win!" T-shirt on the night instead.

Here's what they did: beginnings and ends of the sections are right, otherwise the running order is shuffled somewhat.

Cool Britannia/By A Waterfall
My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies
I'm Bored
Look Out There's A Monster Coming
Look At Me I'm Wonderful
I Left My Heart In San Francisco
Noises For The Leg
Big Shot
Mr Slater's Parrot
Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold
The Sound Of Music
Hello Mabel
Rockaliser Baby


We Are Normal
What Do You Do?
Robot Interlude
The Strain
Trouser Press
Equestrian Statue
Jollity Farm
Rhinocratic Oaths
Little Sir Echo
Falling In Love Again
Sport (The Odd Boy)
Mr. Apollo
My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe
Monster Mash
I'm The Urban Spaceman
Canyons Of Your Mind
The Intro And The Outro

====== ENCORES ======

The Head Ballet

Oh, and as part of his introduction Neil Innes announced that in memory of Viv there would now be one minute of cacophony. And. There. Was.

Consdering the length of time they've been apart, they mesh together very well as a band. And only a band with Viv Stanshall at the front of it could hope to control Roger Ruskin Spear. My guess is that even in the old days Spear dominated the shows much of the time. No matter: just hearing those songs again, played live, was marvellous.

* For the benefit of US readers who may never have heard of the Bonzos, they were a bit like Spike Jones and the City Slickers, and were led by Neil Innes (now famous for his musical contribution to the Monty Python films, including the whistling bits of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life), and Vivian Stanshall, whom you may know as the guy who scared the bejesus out of you the first time you ever heard Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells ("Grand Piano..."). Viv died in a house fire about twenty years ago (I think).

Dan, Dan, the Sandinista Man

Reading this on Joe's blog reminded me that I'd meant to post congratulations to Daniel Ortega on winning the election in Nicaragua. He's a member of the select club of people to survive having his government illegally overthrown by the United States. It was always said that the reason he kept losing elections was that the Nicaraguan people were scared that if they re-elected him the US-backed terrorist attacks would begin again. I find it heartening that, in contrast to the ill-founded paranoia over largely imaginary "terrorist" threats which the govenments in the UK and the US do their best to foster, the Nicaraguans clearly feel that making up their own minds is more important than fear of state-sponsored terror. Good for them, and I wish them well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

You've got Ishmael

Elsewhere in the U.S. (on almost every imaginable dimension) Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti is reading Moby Dick for the first time and blogging his impressions as he goes along. Start here.

Kesher Talk pays homage to the Dark Side

At least, in this post KT member Cinnamon seems to be channeling her inner fascist.

And if that isn't reason enough to vomit quietly into a bucket somewhere, if you follow the Daniel Pipes link you can feel proud that in Britain, or almost anywhere else in Europe, Mr Pipes would be on the wrong end on an arrest warrant for the same reasons as Nick Griffin the BNP leader, to wit "incitement to racial hatred". After all, Griffin referred to Islam as "a wicked, vicious faith", while Pipes describes all "Islamists" (sic) - I guess his hatred extends to the very word "Muslim" - as potential killers. Perhaps someone should invite Mr Pipes to Britain: there would surely be an excellent chance of his stay being involuntarily extended, unless he somehow managed to keep his bigoted mouth shut all the time he was here.

One can readily imagine the reaction of Pipes and of the Kesher Talk wackos if anyone were to suggest, contrariwise, that Jews were to blame for anti-semitism, and that they could fix their problem by, you know, becoming less Jewish.

Thank Christ/Allah/G-d that these nutters are now at least a little further removed from positions of political influence.

Incidentally, Wear a Hijab/Turban Day sounds a great idea: not putting oneself in the other person's shoes but in their headgear.

"Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you come to criticise him, you'll be a mile away; and you'll have his shoes." (Anon.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Much prettier than that boring green

This rather wonderful knitted tank cosy was part of a protest by Danish knitters against their country's (and the UK's and USA's) involvement in the Iraq invasion. Details here.

Maybe they could do a celebratory Rumsfeld-cosy as an update?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Modified Rapture

The results of Norm's survey of favourite musicals here.

Basically he got people to list their five favourite musicals, ranked in order. My choices were

1) I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
2) Fiddler On The Roof
3) Tell Me On A Sunday
4) My Fair Lady
5) A Mighty Wind

Two of those (FOTR and MFL) made it to the overall top ten, with the rest coming nowhere. Ah well.

When the student is ready, the blog appears

Why has it taken me until now to find this blog?

Land of the Free. Oh, and Martial Law

You may already know Ted Rall as an American political cartoonist, with an anti-war slant that doesn't so much slant as lie horizontal.

Anyway, he also has a column, and I thought this week's was interesting.

As far as I can tell it's accurate. Here, for example, is a link to the text of the JWDAA, which really does appear to allow the President to take control of the National Guard.

I had to smile at Bush's official statement concerning the Act, which is a great (though far from isolated) example of his cherry-picking bits of legislation which he's proposing to ignore. Well, it's easier than that messy veto which Congress might get uppity and overturn.

Scream car elephant young be much mangle

I enjoyed this from a few days ago on Wondermark.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ring out the old, ring in the new

And no, I'm not referring to the U.S. Senate, though that too. (Let's have a big cheer for the voters of Virginia; and of course Montana, the only state to have a Frank Zappa song all of its own.)

As Teresa Nielsen Hayden was kind enough to comment (albeit anonymously) I felt the least I could do was to fill the disappointing and deleted Michael Totten's place on my blogroll with a link to her blog Making Light. Good fun. Go read.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The elephant in the (smallest) room

While the Republicans are keen to paint the Democrats as consumed with fear, it seems to me that a party which is reduced to misrepresenting its candidates as Democrats to try to get people to vote for them, and to making automated nuisance calls purporting to be from Democratic candidates is so far gone in fear it is unable to leave the toilet to engage in debate. Hell, they barely have enough energy left to try to rig the election.

Not that it's any of my business

Kesher Talk posted a link to this. I think we were all supposed to guffaw at how scared of the resurgence of of red-state Freeman Moxy the Democrats are, or something: but I thought it summed up the situation pretty well.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Glasgow's Miles Higher

Just back from seeing Andrea Arnold's Red Road, which has to be the best film I've seen for a long time (probably since Garden State). It fully lives up to all the praise I'd seen heaped on it; and if Kate Dickie's performance as Jackie doesn't get her some kind of award there is NO JUSTICE.

The film builds a tremendous amount of tension: it's not often that I feel uncomfortable when watching a film because of what may be about to happen, but I certainly was tonight, for most of the film. The whole business of what Jackie is up to is revealed tiny piece by tiny piece, and you don't get the full story until almost the very end of the film, after countless twists.

What else? The (digital) cinematography is amazingly atmospheric, bringing the seedy side of Glasgow to the screen with all its garish grimness intact. That, and Jackie's CCTV watching (she works in one of the Glasgow CCTV control rooms) would make it feel creepy quite apart from the actual plot line. A very explicit sex scene which (to judge from the IMDb comments) made a lot of people feel uncomfortable (and, yes, me too). A hugely obscene chat-up line which a reviewer rightly said is probably destined to become immortalised by a certain kind of film buff (the kind that doesn't mind risking the kind of slap that loosens teeth). And three nice dogs (yay!)

Go and see the film. Not, I would suggest, if you're feeling emotionally vulnerable, depressed, or at less than 100% mental acuity (or you'll miss half of what's going on).

There are a couple of surprisingly lyrical moments concerning the Red Road flats around which the action centres. One is when a character opens the window to feel the amazing wind (they're a long way up: the highest Red Road blocks are 31 storeys), and the other is just before the sex scene, when they hear foxes calling.

Just so you know, the Red Road development (when built, and probably still given the change in architectural fashion) comprised the highest residential blocks in Europe at 31 storeys. (They're in the Guinness Book of Records.) I tried to add some pictures but Blogger won't ley me upload them for some reason. Anyway, if you want to see them, get a move on:

Red Road Flats

Glasgow Housing Association has announced plans to pull down the city's notorious Red Road scheme as part of a £60m redevelopment. The eight skyscrapers - 1,300 flats packed onto this small site in these eight huge tower blocks - among Britain's tallest, are expected to be demolished over the next decade.

GHA confirmed the first demolition at the site, one of two 27-storey slabs, as it announced record investment in a new scheme for Balornock and Barmulloch. Detailed plans for Red Road Flats will be a matter for future consultations and the area's tenants group.

Around 600 low-rise private and social-rented homes will be built, filling in the spaces between Red Road towers and brownfields left by bulldozers tearing down an earlier generation of tenement homes.

Glasgow Housing Association - Website:

I don't suppose their residents will lament their passing overmuch, but it demonstrates the highly fluid nature of the Glasgow cityscape, which has changed almost beyond recognition in the
quarter century since I first worked there.

Seriously: see the film if you can, and if you don't mind tension.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some sick foreigners who hate freedom. Oh, and Saddam.

I'm glad Saddam Hussein was brought to justice (even if doing so was an irrelevance to the illegal invasion of Iraq from which it resulted).

I'm glad he's been convicted of crimes against humanity. I'm against the invasion of Iraq; I think the situation existing there now is incomparably worse for the vast majority of Iraqis than it was before the invasion; but none of that deterioration can be blamed on the removal of Saddam himself.

But I'm sorry he's been sentenced to death. Not surprised, given the cheapness with which human life is viewed in Iraq, and indeed given that the US government of which Saddam's prosecutors were puppets (however worthy) executes more of its citizenry than almost anywhere else on the planet.

....and I'm not the only one....

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot: to the poster boy of the rug-chewing neocons, Amnesty International are anti-American sympathisers with the objectives of jihad. Hmmm: who has more credibility here? In the blue corner, Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights defenders. In the red corner, turncoat alcoholic hack who will be remembered in a few years' time only as the inspiration for George Galloway's second most famous line (the most famous being his "salute" to Saddam, which brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation, by swerve of shore and bend of bay, back to our theme).

Quite apart from the humanitarian and natural justice arguments, one could indeed argue that hanging is too good for the Saddam Hussein. Those who approve of excutions might have preferred something lingering, with boiling oil in it somewhere. Personally I'd like to have had him incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay for the rest of his days, which would be the first decent use of the place since the Americans appropriated it.

And in case you think from my recent upbeat links to Kesher Talk that I'm becoming less repelled by their far-right political lunacy, their victory dancing (here and here) over the Saddam death penalty makes me want to puke. Usually their wingnuttery just makes me giggle, but this is just sick.

I especially noted Michael Totten's describing himself as "against the death penalty, almost categorically" and then saying he might watch Saddam's hanging if it were televised. That's one piece of shit who just got dropped from my blogroll, as I shan't be visiting again and wouldn't want anyone to drop in accidentally and be infected by the self-deluding oaf. No Michael, you're not against the death penalty "almost categorically", you're against the death penalty "almost"; that is, unless it's for someone you dislike. Saddam Hussein could say as much. Jeez: and you neocons accuse us liberals of moral relativism.

Ko-Ko would undoubtedly have had all of them on his little list.

The fact that all these wingnuts will all be crying into their beer on Wednesday morning and for the next two years at least cheers me only slightly.

Update: I won't say that I did Christopher Hitchens an injustice, because I didn't. I disagree with him over Amnesty, over the Iraq war, and over most other things; and I think his credibility is pretty terminally shot these days since he climbed (metaphorically) into bed with the American far right. Still, occasionally even he gets it right, as in this piece.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Let's all cheer on Clare as she enters the final straight...

...if "straight" could in any sense be applied to Sudbery Novel Number Two. Who knows?

Go Clare anyway.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In a parallel universe one keystroke away, people are going at it like a couple of rabbis

See, here's the kind of thing that makes Kesher Talk worth visiting. Mind you, I didn't have to read to the bottom of the post to guess this one came from Van rather than, say, Judith.

On his first point (yes, you at the back, there was a first point: go back and look) I can only think of the rabbi in Fiddler On The Roof . Well, apart from the various purely comic ones in Woody Allen: e.g. in Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex, the one on the game show "Perversion" who gets to act out his fantasy of being whipped by a dominatrix while being made to eat pork ("You've been a very naughty rabbi"...CRACK! )

Funny how we end up back at sex, isn't it?


Well, I guess that got your attention. See below for translation.

I dropped by Kesher Talk today for the first time in a few weeks (most of the recent threads have been concerned either with domestic US politics or with Judaism, so haven't inspired me to comment). This post, I suppose, falls squarely into the first of those categories. However, after reading it, and the article to which it links, and all the comments, I started wondering why we don't seem to have the same problem in Britain. For all that we're reserved, buttoned-up British types, there have certainly been many periods over the last quarter century when political opinion here has been pretty polarised. In the Thatcher era we had the miners' strike and the Falklands War; more recently we've had the Bush/Blair Iraq invasion (I don't remember the first Gulf War being anywhere near as controversial). And of coure there are plenty of Green issues which greatly polarise opinion: nuclear power, GM food, and responses to global warming. Except in mineworkers' families during the miners' strike, I'm not aware of the kind of ostracism reported from the US occurring here. I have friends and workmates with whom I strongly disagree on green issues, but it wouldn't occur to me to cut them off beause of it. Ditto supporters of Thatcher or of the Iraq war. It seems to me that we have less of a tendency than the Americans seem to have to shove political opinions into other people's faces. Sure, there's a temptation to wind up people with whom one disagrees, but I haven't seen that descending to anything really nasty, and certainly not to the I'm-not-talking-to-you-any-more level. At worst, we just steer clear of political chat with people we know to be implacably opposed to our views.

For example: I know that some of my regular visitors here take a more positive view of the Iraq war than my own. But they haven't boycotted EKN because of that, any more than I shun Kesher Talk because of the significant differences in viewpoint between myself and its authors. We find plenty to agree about in between the firefights.

So what I'd like to know is: do my readers out there agree with me that in Britain we haven't personalised our political differences to the same extent as the Americans? Do we have less of a tendency to assume consensus where there is none? Does the American experience strike any chord with my British (and other non-US) readers?

And is it just me, but is there something deeply disturbing about someone having pictures of George Bush on their refrigerator? Not because he's, you know, GWB, but to have pictures of any politician on your fridge strikes me as showing a degree of weirdness hich would be quite reasonable to back away from. I mean, I like Tony Benn but I'd worry if I found a friend had pictures of him stuck up in the kitchen.

(Oh, sorry, the title: it's Mao Zedong's famous line "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend".)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Is nothing sacred?

The first bad review quoted in this link puzled me until I followed the trail of breadcrumbs and discovered that yet again someone in Hollywood has attempted to "improve" an Ealing (I think)(*) comedy. What makes it especially sad is that you'd be hard pressed to find a more quintessentially English comedy than the original (which I saw in the cinema in 1966). I remember there was a brief TV series in the 1980s based on the Stephen Potter books, with Richard Briers in peerless form as the Lifemanship expert.

*Actually "School For Scoundrels, or how to win without actually cheating" wasn't an Ealing comedy, but it was directed by Robert Hamer. best known for "Kind Hearts and Coronets". (And there's a nasty thought: when will some American nonentity take a pot at KH&C? )

But good God! just look at the cast of the original! Talk about strength in depth. Whereas Billy Bob Thornton is the only cast member listed for the new one whose name even rings a bell. (And OMG, when I read his IMDb entry he was born only one day after me. Phew.)

Presumably the other 21% of my psyche is filled with Wagner

I am nerdier than 79% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Only just nerdier than Lisa, but 79% probably isn't too bad.