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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First Lines, Second Chances

Eleven first lines down, fourteen to go.

What's left? Well, there's one I expected Persephone to snap up. Why might that be?

There's a classic British folk-rock track that I imagined Phil might leap onto.

Two tracks by female singers famous for (different) aspects of their anatomy.

One by a male singer who had a big hit duetting with one of those females.

One hit by a foreign duo who might have fitted effortlessly into the Daz Sampson video.

Two tracks by very different British bands who could both be classed as metal, one heavy and one more glam-ish.

A British singer-songwriter who seems to have been around for ever. This was one of his comparatively few songs to make it into the charts, sufficiently at least to get some airplay.

An American singer-songwriter, also with a long career, whose songs inspired a book of science fiction stories (which I own but haven't yet read). Her best-known song is very well-known indeed, and came right at the start of her career (which must be frustrating).

A band who were in on the ground floor of punk, so to speak, but became less punk and more pop as the hits piled up.

One from a classic album by a great British band. It was the next but one album that would move them from stardom to superstardom, though.

A collaboration by two giants of progressive rock, one of whom was once memorably described by a Capital Radio DJ as having the biggest electricity bill in the EU. This track probably racked up a few kWh for him.

And finally, the only one that could probably be described as obscure. The title track from a 1970s album by a British folk-rock group one of whose members was a member of a family famous for confectionery (and he really was, it wasn't just a coincidence of names). I'll tell you that that one is #14.

The rest, you really should get, especially with the hints.

Go. Guess.

Several years after this campaign began, it's still a rip-off


Today is Women's No Pay Day. Women working full-time in the UK get paid 17% less than men. As this is equivalent to women working the last two months of the year for nothing, the Fawcett Society have calculated that today marks women’s no pay day. From today until the end of the year many women are effectively working for free, their labour valued at far less than that of a comparable male employee.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A man walks into a blog....

I've been catching up with Internet humour since returning from holiday.

I especially liked this. "We just wanted to give people the sort of friendly, honest particle collision that you don't get with a big corporate accelerator."

Wondermark had this.

While xkcd had both this AND this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say "Yus" to the Hackney Gusset....

And here is another story via Islamophobia Watch, this time regarding a prayer room and a curtain in Hackney Community College.

Maybe it's just the way my mind works (OK, guilty as charged there) but it sounds as though Hackney Community College is administered by blokes who enjoy looking up womens' skirts. At least, I can see no other reason to remove a curtain (which was presumably pulled back when not required) intended to provide a modicum of modesty for women prostrating themselves with their backsides in the air . It's not as though it would interfere with the prayers of Christians, Jews, Sikhs or Hindus even when drawn.

No, I'm going with the upskirt fetishist theory. Next up: modesty panels to be removed from all lecture room desks.

P.S. Couldn't resist the pun in the title. When I lived in Islington many years ago, there were ads on the radio for a local newspaper which featured local comedian Arthur Mullard. (He used to be a fixture on Hancock's Half-Hour, The Benny Hill Show and other radio TV shows, but is probably best remembered these days as the guy who played Barbara Windsor's boyfriend in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and got an accidental tonsure from Dick van Dyke's hair-cutting machine. He actually lived close to me and I saw him occasionally in the street.) Anyway, Mullard's catch-phrase was "Oh, yus!" and in the ads he exhorted listeners to "Say 'Yus!' to the 'Ackney Gazette".

It seemed apposite.

As a fan of cultural diversity and the "Big Tent" approach, I see these guys less as Barnabas and more as Sisera

I read this report today from Islamophobia Watch and did a little research.

Maybe the Barnabas Fund has been deemed fit to be a charity, but any organisation which has registered "Institute of Dhimmitude (UK)" as a trademark would seem to be doing a little more than just promoting Christianity. Spreading the Christian message is one thing: attacking and smearing Muslims when they attempt to spread theirs, as one of the top stories on the Barnabas Fund's "Operation Nehemiah" page today has them doing, is another.

Operation Nehemiah is specifically anti-Muslim:

"We face an aggressive secular humanism that is hostile to all religious faith, and an increasingly political Islam that wants to make itself the main religion in the West. Recent legislation has threatened our basic freedoms of speech and religion. And the response of the Church to these perils has often been hesitant and confused."

Its web page contains a link to a petition calling to the British government to legislate to avoid the danger of non-Muslims accidentally eating halal food, though strangely it makes no call for similar warning labelling of kosher produce.

The Barnabas Fund claims to support Christians who face discrimination or persecution for their faith. So naturally it is in its commercial interests to manufactures such things where they are inconveniently absent. In Britain Christianity is the state religion, so the best they can manage is to attack "political correctnmess" (yes, they still refer to it). And where there are no real stories, they make them up, or borrow made-up ones from the Daily Telegraph (LOL). See this report.

The only problem with it is that almost every word is a lie. See comments on original report here. In particular, the response received to a concerned reader's enquiry to the production company.

14 October 2011

Dear Jason,
Thank you for your letter expressing your concern about the representation of Christmas within ‘Thomas & Friends’.

I am taking the time to respond to you, because I want to set the record straight, as I believe the recent press reports that you are referring contain inaccuracies.

First, contrary to the portrayal in the media, the episode that is being referenced is not a new Christmas “special” but rather a six year old episode that was part of a four episode DVD that was neither sold as a “Christmas” nor a “Winter Holiday” themed release.

Second, and more importantly, Thomas has a great deal of new Christmas-themed content. More, in fact, than ever before, including last year’s DVD titled ‘Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express’ and a new Thomas Christmas DVD we are currently working on entitled “Merry Christmas, Thomas!” So the assertion that Thomas is afraid to call Christmas "Christmas" seems unwarranted and, quite frankly, silly.

I am not sure exactly why the media so often reports stories in a manner that they know to be misleading, except to say that they believe controversies create readers so they look to create controversy. We take the legacy of The Rev. Awdry’s work very seriously in the creation of all of our new content and work closely with his family to best manage Thomas for future generations of children.

Thank you again for writing. We value the opinions of our customers and I hope that by writing to you today I have been able to set the record straight about the content of Thomas. Please be assured that Christmas was, and continues to be, celebrated on the Island of Sodor, the home of ‘Thomas & Friends’.

Yours Sincerely,
Jeffrey D. Dunn
President & CEO


And actually, even the Telegraph's report is a garbled and misleading version of a simlarly sensationalist report in the Daily Mail. See here, here and here.

The trouble with publishing sensational lies is that they are picked up by extremists to be used as "evidence" that "British culture" is under threat from "foreigners". The English Defence League ran the story on their blog, and even when some of their own commenters pointed out that the story was bogus they still had folk chiming in with new messages of xenophobic hatred.

So there we are. The Daily Mail prints a misleading attack on how "political correctness" is banning Christmas. The Daily Telegraph picks up the story, removes most of the facts and gets the Rev W Awdry's daughter response to this non-existent censorship. Then the Barnabas Group, ignoring all the evidence that it is total rubbish, not only reprints the story but adds its own characteristic spin:

Please Pray: Praise God that the Christ-honouring legacy of children’s author Rev. W Awdry continues today. Pray that future attempts to remove references to “Christ” from children’s television scripts will not succeed.

The Charities Commission may have decreed that the Barnabas Fund can keep its tax exemptions. But as far as I'm concerned, the Islamophobic Liars For Jesus have no place in a Christian, or any other decent, society. They can go fuck themselves.

Ay-ay-ay-ay!!

Phil was saying that he hadn't heard Take Me To Tahiti by Kevin Ayers for years. He may not have heard this one either....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Avogadro-da-vida


I forgot to post for Mole Day on Sunday (10/23). As it's now 10/25, I suppose I should post a hundred times to even things up.

But I won't.

What's in a name?

Further to this rubbish, it seems clear that the source of the "babies named Hitler" myth is that the Times of India journalists think AH''s first name was Hitler. (Well, to Indian Railways I was always "Mr Rob"...)

British sources get it.

Anyway, why shouldn't British babies be named Adolf, or indeed Osama? I'm sure I met a black guy called Adolf when I lived in London.

With luck. it's just given a boost to string theory

I was watching a BBC programme about the tentative results from CERN and Italy showing fast-than-light travel by neutrinos, and I thought of this xkcd cartoon, which (as ever) nails the whole thing.

Not that we're paranoid or stupid in Britain, good heavens no

...but we mistake joggers in weight training vests for suicide bombers.

Duh.

More music

And here we have the wonderful "Moving Song" from 17 Hippies, accompanied by a video of a hamster:

Covered and recovered

In my 25 First Lines quiz, Fried Mahooga not only guessed "Needles and Pins" but remembered that The Searchers' version wasn't the first (Jackie de Shannon, since you ask). The lads had another hit with a de Shannon cover, and thinking of it reminded me of this much more recent cover version. Enjoy.


Agnetha Faltskog - When You Walk In The Room (HQ) by goldrausch

Threesomes

Ian and Sylvia (two of Canada's musical greats) performing first of all one of Ian's songs with Judy Collins, then a Gordon Lightfoot classic with the man himself.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eric Holder gets it

This is excellent news.

Apparently it made BareNakedIslam's head explode. I do hope nothing valuable was damaged.

New Kid On The Block?


There seems to be a new face in Islamophobia circles: Sam Solomon.

Now Mr Solomon looks just like an anti-semite's caricature of a Jew, and has a name that certainly doesn't shriek "Muslim" at you, but apparently he was born a Muslim, studied Sharia Law for 15 years, converted to Christianity, was imprisoned and threatened with death before being exiled. He now works the Islamophobia circuit with such luminaries as Geert Wilders and Pamela Geller, explaining how he (a self-styled expert on islam and sharia) conveniently saw the light.

The funny thing is that as far as I can tell not even his supporters have any idea exactly where he was "raised as a Muslim", where he studies (or in some versions taught) Sharia Law, where he was imprisoned, and whence he was exiled.

So: another fake ex-Muslim? We've had the fake forced marriage victim (Hirsi Magan), the fake ex-terrorist (Walid Shoebat) and now the fake ex-scholar? Does anyone have any information? Is he actually an ex-Muslim? Where was he born? Where and when was he imprisoned?

Some People Say We Monkey around

While looking for a video clip to accompany "Pleasant Valley Sunday" in my current 25 First Lines quiz (and then looking further to find - eventually - one where the sound and vision were synchronised) I found this. One of my favoourite Monkees songs, penned by Mike Nesmith, and illustrated by a clip from the TV series which sums up the whole zany surreal Monkees thing. Nothing to do with the song lyrics but huge fun.



And I was going to post "Little Bit Me, Little Bit You". Like "I'm A Believer" it was written for the Monkees by Neil Diamond, but unlike "I'm A Believer" ND never recorded it himself. Or so I thought: I found this live version from 1967. Sound quality poor but hey, it's great to hear it done by the Master's Voice.

A credulous illiterate know-nothing attempts to give lessons on Israeli history to a Jew with decades of first-hand knowledge of it

In this post, Uncle Jimmy links to a crazionist video by the renowned fraudster and fake ex-terrorist Walid Shoebat. Not only is Jimmy himself (unlike, one should point out, the Israeli government and press) totally duped by this buffoon and dazzled by his supposed expertise on Palestinian history, he suggests in all seriousness that the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland should watch it. Freedland has been writing articles in support of Israel for more years than I can count, but because one of his recent pieces failed to toe the Likud party line on Palestine's bid for statehood at the UN, clearly he requires re-education at the hands of Jimmy and his "experts".

If all there was to this post was Jimmy's utter gullibility when it comes to Zionist claims to vast amounts of non-Israeli territory in the region, or even his readiness to give credibility to anyone claiming to be an ex-Muslim (because WE ALL KNOW that Muslims are liars, so ex-Muslims must tell the truth, obviously) I wouldn't have bothered. No surprises there. But there are a couple of priceless Jimmyisms that would be a shame to leave unattended.

First of all, on Moonbat's fantasy video, he remarks

Opening with the November 1947 resolution at the UN General Assembly, it starts with the vote on Resolution 181 which paved the way for the rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948.

However, did this give Israel legitimacy?

The answer is no. Generally speaking in international law general assembly resolutions are not binding.


An interesting point in itself if one considers the weight that was given to resolutions and non-existing resolutions over Iraq.

Do you think we should wait for Jimmy to show some evidence of any interest whatsoever being shown in General Assembly resolutions over Iraq? The resolutions on which the US and UK based the supposed legitimacy of their invasion, and the resolution which it was felt was necessary in order to provide any kind of authorisation of military action: these were Security Council resolutions, which are binding. As incidentally were the ones of which Saddam was considered to be in breach. So Jimmy, who has the gall to lecture the rest of us on Middle Eastern affairs, us unable to tell the difference between the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. What a dork. Perhaps he should read this list of UN resolutions concerning Israel and Palestine, helpfully divided into the General Assembly ones which Israel can ignore if it likes, and the binding Security Council ones, of which it is in breach of far more than Saddam ever was.

Then when Jimmy attempts to discuss the Jonathan Freedland article, we have this wonderful non-sequitur:

And why do I suggest Mr Freedland should watch this video?

Because of his article – ‘Britain should say yes to Palestinian statehood – and so should Israel’

Its sub-heading reads – ‘A no vote at the UN will boost Netanyahu, wound Fatah and discredit the Europeans as useless hypocrites’

Really, Mr Freedland? Quite how a “no” vote would discredit Netanyahu evades me completely.


And obviously it evades the rest of us as well, as that is the precise opposite of what Freedland - just quoted by Jimmy - says in his article. But to Jimmy, never too bright when it comes to understanding what he reads, the word "boost" clearly means "discredit".

Well, Jimmy, I would say that post gives a massive boost (as you would say) to any credibility you might imagine you had as a political blogger.

Let us leave the final words to Jonathan Freedland, in a post reviewing In The Land Of Israel by Amos Oz.

Two decades of travel across Israel-Palestine, and years of intense reporting and debate on the conflict, have not shaken my belief in the view set out by Oz in that chapter. He declares that the Jews are a nation; that theirs is a living culture not a museum piece; that they have, therefore, the right to self-determination; that the Palestinians have the same right and therefore the only just solution is to share the land, creating two states side by side. Since then I have read a thousand contrary opinions, from both sides - but none has ever succeeded in refuting Oz's fundamental logic.

On their records to date, Blair is far more of a threat to world peace than Iran

It will come as no surprise that when Tony Blair begins cheerleading for another war to effect regime change with which he can be personally associated (thank f**k we changed HIS regime while we had the chance) his loyal little acolyte Uncle Jimmy falls instantly into step behind him. Of course, Jimmy is incapable of restraining his contempt for these awful brown people with their funny non-Christian religions. Like the hate-filled white supremacists at BareNakedIslam he loves so deeply, he refers to Muslims (and anyone who fails to hate them as he does) as "moon-god worshippers". Sweet. That's like saying Christians worship a dead Jew on a stick. Tony Blair (with his Faith Foundation) must be so proud of this American zero dragging his name through the mud.

And how dreadful that deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq were caused by "locals". It's terrible how these fuzzy-wuzzies fail to appreciate the benefits of Western civilisation (TM) and try to defend their countries against invasion.

Rush Limbaugh Supports Terrorists

And not just any terrorists: brutal torturers and mass murderers. But they call themselves Christians, so that's OK.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

And let's not kid ourselves that the most dangerous dogmatists are religious ones

Returning to this week's news, the antiscience pressure group Greenpeace won a significant legal victory this week when a European court upheld their complaint against a German scientist, Oliver Brüstle, in which they claimed that his work in creating healthy brain cells from embryonic stem cells was "contrary to public order". Or possibly "against Biblical law": it's hard to tell the difference between varieties of dogmatic science-hating weirdo when they take their hats off. What this means is that while we Europeans could (if we were stupid) continue to fund medical research into cures for dementia, blindness, paralysis and other conditions, the ability to translate this research into actual treatments has now been offshored. Result, Greenpeace: less medical research and fewer drugs, so more deaths from avoidable diseases. Less money wasted on saving human beings that could go towards saving the whales, and fewer people in future to clutter up the planet and contribute to anthropogenic climate change. Plus the drugs that are produced will increasingly come from places where there are few if any safeguards surrounding the origins of the embryos used, such as India and China where selective abortion of female embryos for social reasons is not uncommon. Well, if your goal is to return humanity to the Stone Age I suppose gender equality is the first thing to go.

Some things don't change. Even some lifelong Greens have got fed up with Greenpeace's lies. Here is a good example of their disconnectedness from reality. And here is a devastating critique of the whole antinuclear, antiscience bandwagon from which so many people are making so much money while the planet is slowly destroyed.

If alert readers suspect that I would not be unhappy if each and every supporter of Greenpeace simply "softly and silently vanished away" through the exertions of a cosmic Boojum, then I must confess that the prospect would delight me. If Uncle Jimmy wishes to paint that as a death threat, he is welcome to do so, though of course it is no such thing.

And of course these pieces of shit are worse, and still floating about. Watson's terrorist antics are too much even for Greenpeace to tolerate.

A difficult design brief

My wife and I recently watched a BBC documentary on the Festival of Britain, which took place sixty years ago. It was extremely informative (I had never realised that the Battersea Funfair which I visited as a child had been built as part of the FoB, nor that there had been a housing development in Poplar which was part of it), but perhaps the best moment was when one of the designers who worked on the Dome of Discovery was describing the challenges they faced. She said she had been asked to create a life-size model unicorn. As my wife remarked, a neat trick if you can bring it off.....

It's a funny kind of patriotism that hopes its country will be defeated

While there are of course some who consider that no non-Christians (excepting Jews, of course) should be allowed to represent the USA in the Olympics (the boat sailed long ago on banning blacks) I think this story shows the best of America. You go, girl. (Well, unless the UK has any medal hopes in women's sabre....)

You have to love the "patriotism" of the folk at BareNakedIslam who would rather see an American defeated than see a Muslim on the podium. And their ignorance, that they imagine Muslim women to be banned from sport. Because, you know, winning Olympic gold medals clearly counts for nothing. And this of course is just a sign of British "dhimmitude", right? And the biggest motor racing star in Iran couldn't be a woman, could it?

Of course, maybe the folk at BNI are a bunch of ignorant racist horses' asses. that might explain it all.

Good luck, Ibtihaj Muhammad, when you visit our shores next year.

Name a country where only four years ago you could go to prison for blaspheming against the state religion.

Still on censorship, the BBC this week screened a dramatisation of the chat show in which John Cleese and Michael Palin of the Monty Python team came under fire from Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark over their recent Monty Python's Life of Brian film. This article on the controversy and censorship issues is interesting (I love the thought that in Sweden it was billed as "The film so funny that it was banned in Norway").

It's very easy to (if we have no memory of history) to kid ourselves that accusations of blasphemy and calls for the banning of the "blasphemous" items are purely a feature of militant Islam. Certainly Islam has made a big contribution, with the Jyllands-Post cartoons and before that with The Satanic Verses. I made a point of reading Rushdie's book when it came out, at the same time as Peter Wright's Spycatcher, also threatened with a ban (in the later case a political one). I have to say neither book was worth the effort, though neither was totally valueless.

While Andres Serrano's Piss Christ is not, IMHO, as great a work of art as the Bamiyan Buddhas, its destruction by religious fundamentalists stems from precisely the same cause: a feeling that it is a "blasphemous" work of art. And I remember as a student getting hold of a samizdat copy of James Kirkup's banned poem The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name, which had been deeemd blasphemous after a lengthy prosecution brought by such worthies as Lord Longford and Mary Whitehouse. This report is of a protest against the (British, and specifically NOT Muslim) blasphemy law in 2002. (It took another six years, but in 2008 the pernicious law was struck from the statute book.) You will note that the poem isn't very good, but then Piss Christ and The Satanic Verses aren't too hot either. (If you think the text sucks, you should have seen the original artwork....I can't find it on the Internet, which probably says it all. I displayed the poem on the wall of my room as an act of solidarity, but wished it was accompanied by less in the way of homoerotica....)

All of which is just to say that we need to remember that Christians are happy to ban works they consider blasphemous, now as in the days of Galileo and Copernicus. And that until very recently our own legal system supported them.

And that, of course, is why Roger Waters gave Mary Whitehouse a starring role (from 8:10 onwards) in Pigs (Three Different Ones) on Pink Floyd's Animals.

Hands up if you thought the USA was free from political censorship

Well, yes, I did, because, you know, that First Amendment thing.

So it came as a bit of a shock to learn of two recent instances of what can only be described as political censorship, on the one hand of science and on the other of the arts.

Here is the censorship of science, by officials in Texas, the state governed by antiscience loon Rick Perry. (I am pasting the whole thing because most of the links are subscription only and it may soon be difficult to view).

10/15/2011 11:34:09 AM EDT -- Guardian (UK)

International: Scientists disown environment report in protest at censorship by Perry appointees

Officials in Rick Perry's home state of Texas have set off a scientists' revolt after mentions of climate change and sea-level rise were purged from what was supposed to be a landmark environmental report. The scientists said they were disowning the report on the state of Galveston Bay because of political interference and censorship from Perry appointees at the state's environmental agency.

By academic standards, the protest amounts to the beginning of a rebellion: every scientist associated with the 200-page report has demanded their names be struck from the document. "None of us can be party to scientific censorship so we would all have our names removed," said Jim Lester, a co-author of the report and vice-president of the Houston Advanced Research Centre.

"To me it is simply a question of maintaining scientific credibility. This is simply antithetical to what a scientist does," Lester said. "We can't be censored."

Perry, in his run for the Republican nomination for the presidency, has elevated denial of science - from climate change to evolution - to an art form. He opposes any regulation of industry and has repeatedly challenged the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Texas is the only state to refuse to sign up to the federal government's new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. "I like to tell people we live in a state of denial in the state of Texas," said John Anderson, an oceanographer at Rice University and author of the chapter in the report targeted by the government censors.

That state of denial percolated down to the leadership of the Texas commission on environmental quality. The agency chief, who was appointed by Perry, is known to doubt the science of climate change. "The current chair of the commission, Bryan Shaw, commonly talks about how human-induced climate change is a hoax," said Anderson.

Scientists had hoped to avoid a clash by avoiding direct reference to human causes of climate change and sticking to materials from peer-reviewed journals. However, that plan began to unravel when officials from the agency made numerous unauthorised changes to Anderson's chapter, deleting references to climate change, sea-level rise and wetlands destruction.

"It is basically saying that the state of Texas doesn't accept science results published in Science magazine," Anderson said. "That's going pretty far."

Officials deleted a reference to the sea level at Galveston Bay rising five times faster than the long-term average - 3mm a year, compared with 0.5mm a year - which Anderson noted was a scientific fact. "They just simply went through and summarily struck out any reference to climate change, any reference to sea-level rise, any reference to human influence - it was edited or eliminated," said Anderson. "That's not scientific review, that's just straightforward censorship."

The agency defended its actions. "It would be irresponsible to take whatever is sent to us and publish it," Andrea Morrow, a spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. "Information was included in a report that we disagree with."

She said Anderson's report had been "inconsistent with current agency policy", and he had refused to change it. She refused to answer any questions.

Campaigners say the censorship by the Texas authorities is a throwback to the George Bush era, when White House officials interfered with scientific reports on climate change. In recent years such politicisation of science has spread to the states. In the most notorious case Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has spent a year investigating grants made to a prominent climate scientist, Michael Mann, when he was at a state university.

(c) 2011 Guardian Newspapers Limited.


And here is the artistic censorship, this time of that venerable American institution Doonesbury, of which I have been a fan for thirty-five years now. Gary Trudeau's strip has tracked American politics (and other aspects of American life) since the Watergate era, and has done so without interference (though not without attracting both vigorous criticism and equally vigorous support).

As a non-American, I must admit that the recent Doonesbury thread, with reporter Roland Hedley reviewing Jo McGinness's The Rogue (a no-hold-barred book on Sarah Palin) left me pretty unmoved: not surprising as the book hasn't made any ripples whatosever over here. Heck, since her failed VP run most Brits have forgotten Palin herself altogether. But browsing about to see how the book was being received in the USA, I came across this story on McGinness's blog.

Here is the first Doonesbury strip (of six) about Roland Hedley moving in next door to Joe McGinniss (which I didn't understand at all at the time).

And here's the first of the series where he's got hold of a review copy of "The Rogue".

(I have noticed, BTW, that even though my links specify the exact date, they often resolve to the current Doonesbury page. You may need to be sneaky and persistent.)

It seems funny that in a nation which rightly prides itself on its constitutionally-protected freedom of speech, and in which the publication of the deliberately offensive Mohammed cartoons was supported as a free speech issue (and rightly so as far as U.S. law goes, however unpleasant the cartoons) the press isn't all over this new "censorship of cartoons" story. I bet that if Trudeau had drawn something that mght offend Muslims and a paper had pulled the strip as a result we'd have heard the shrieks of rage all the way across the Atlantic.

Cross at the Crossing

I don't have a problem with this - but imagine the outcry there would have been from all the usual suspects (Uncle Jimmy, Mel Phillips, the Daily Mail, the EDL, the BNP, old Uncle Geert Wilders and all) if public money had been spent on a similar accommodation to Muslim religious beliefs and practises. It would have been front page news under screaming banner headlines LONDONISTAN! and SHARIA HIGHWAY CODE! Instead, the supposedly antisemitic British media ignored the story altogether. The EDL failed to complain about this wicked bowing to non-Christian superstition in a Christian country. Mad Mel had nothing to say about alien religious law being imposed on the British people.

Now why do you suppose that might be?

Everything you need to know about the EDL (and BlairSupporter) in two lines

Uncle Jimmy, EKN's favourite racist creep, had this to say last year about the English Defence League:

The English Defence League (EDL) are usually described by our press as white racists, not dissimilar to the British Naional Party (BNP). I feel no compunction to join either of these particular groups, and am never likely to. But quite why one group of around 5,000 Asians (Unite Against Fascism) can unite around a cause and fail to be called “racist” and yet when another group of a couple of hundred (non-Asians) unite against them the smaller group is described as “racist” confirms everything the informed among us need to know about how far down the slippery slope our relativism and submission has taken us in Britain today.

A few months later he writes (of another demonstration):

WHY, you might ask, since they were somewhere very near this crowd, do we not hear the EDL screaming about these Muslims burning in hell? Simple. They are civilised, and BRITISH. These members of Anjem Choudary’s latest incarnation of Islam4UK – MUSLIMS AGAINST CRUSADES – may be legal citizens of our country. But they are NOT BRITISH.

Well, Jimmy, leaving aside your arrogant (and racist) assumption that you (an American) get to decide which British-born native Englishmen are BRITISH, if you would like to know a little more about the EDL's "civilised", "British" approach to such matters, read this.

The EDL don't scream about Muslims burning in hell because they're too busy reprising Kristallnacht against wholly innocent BRITISH Muslims.

Twenty-Five First Lines

Usual rules: the song title doesn't appear in the first line, only one song per artist or band, no tricks. Nothing incredibly obscure this time, though a few slightly off the beaten track. Equally one or two you'll probably have got before I've finished posting this. Answers in the comments box (title and artist) and I'll update the post as songs are guessed. Good luck.

1. In a little while from now, if I'm not feeling any less sour
Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Alone Again (Naturally)", guessed by Persephone

Video here

2.So you think you can tell heaven from hell
Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here", guessed by Tim Hall



3. We were talking about the space between us all
The Beatles, "Within You, Without You", guessed by Persephone



4. The local rock group down the street is trying hard to learn their song
The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday", guessed by Persephone



5. It's so nice to meet an old friend and pass the time of day
Gordon Lightfoot, "Did She Mention My Name", guessed by Persephone



6. I saw her today, I saw her face, It was a face I loved
The Searchers, "Needles and Pins", guessed by Fried Mahooga



7. "What did you learn in school today?" that's what the teachers used to say
Daz Sampson, "Teenage Life", guessed by Phil



8. Hi there, nice to be with you, happy you could stick around
The Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band, "The Intro and the Outro", guessed by Phil



(And I can't pass over this version from Thames TV's "Do Not Adjust Your Set" - essential viewing for my schoolfriends and me):



9. The young man rose his pretty face
Sandy Denny, "Listen, Listen" - UNGUESSED



10. Listen to me, lovely, shake our relations hip
Kevin Ayers, "Take Me To Tahiti", guessed by Phil




11. Getting crazy on the waltzers but it's the life that I choose
Dire Straits, "Tunnel of Love" - UNGUESSED




12. (Hey! Psst PSST! Here she comes now.) Oh, you know her, would you look at that hair
Blondie, "Rip Her To Shreds", guessed by Joe

Video here (not the same one Joe linked!)

13. You ask me where to begin. Am I so lost in my sin?
Jon and Vangelis, "I'll Find My Way Home" - UNGUESSED




14. They could see there was something special about the man in white
Decameron, "Mammoth Special" - UNGUESSED


Play clip here

15. Do me a favour kid, tell me what it was I did to make you want to live without me
Janis Ian, "Friends Again" - UNGUESSED




16, Coming in from London from over the pole
Arlo Guthrie, "Coming Into Los Angeles", guessed by Persephone
Video here

17. Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Dolly Parton,"Nine to Five", guessed by Persephone



18. Honey, it's getting close to midnight
Iron Maiden, "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" - UNGUESSED




19. Oh Lord, I'm so bored, living on my own
The Darkness, "Knockers" - UNGUESSED




20. It's astounding; time is fleeting; madness takes its toll
Richard O'Brien and cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show, "The Time Warp", guessed by Persephone



21, Clever girl, think you are but you think too much
Kylie Minogue, "Did It Again" - UNGUESSED




22. It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
Al Stewart, "Time Passages", guessed by Persephone



23. You said I was Northern scum: I was wounded, baby
Robbie Williams, "Knutsford City Limits" - UNGUESSED




24. What I thought wasn't mine, in the light wasn't one of a kind
t.A.t.U., "Gomenasai" - UNGUESSED




25. The decks were stacked, the wind blew low, the wind blew high
Captain Beefheart, "Upon the My-Oh-My", guessed by Phil

Here's tae us. Wha's like us? Damn few and they've a' got tickets

I just made an interesting and not (to me at least) intuitive discovery. My son drew my attention to the forthcoming WWE Raw tour which is coming to Glasgow in a few weeks' time. Investigating ticket availability, I found it was sold out. But I also found it was the only night of the whole UK tour that IS sold out (this for a tour starting in about two weeks). I realised Scotland had a big wrestling fanbase: I hadn't realised we outstripped the rest of the UK to such an extent.

Anyway, we'll have to wait until April for the next tour.....

Red Hot and Dutch

My blog was once vividly described as a mixture of "music and outrage", which is probably not too far from the truth, though I like to think there is plenty of humour as well.

Anyway, I've had a week without much blogging as I've been in Ballater, where I don't have wi-fi (unless an incautious neighbour leaves an insecure link open) and where the mobile signal for my dongle is only 2G, hence slow. We've begun investigating what it would cost to get broadband installed, so maybe before long I'll be able to blog as freely from my Heiland Hame as from my lowland one.

I have a list as long as your arm (if you're a giant squid) of things to blog about: musical clips, a new first lines quiz, plenty more outrage, and various excellent point-and-laugh examples (culled from several months and bookmarked away) of both Uncle Jimmy's idiocy and various right-wing racists' craziness. And still, of course, I haven't finished my reviews of things I saw in the Festival. I'll need to get on with that as the autumn gig season is nearly upon us: I'm going to see Focus and Arthur Brown next Friday.

You might remember Focus: Dutch band from the 1970s, had two big UK hits with "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia".



You might even remember Arthur Brown (and like me you may have assumed he was long-retired if not dead). The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown had one hit: this one.



And I've just found this cover version of "Hocus Pocus", by Iron Maiden of all people!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One law for BlairSupporter, and one for everyone else

While searching in vain for any comment by Tony Blair on that boring job stuff some people expect him to do between speaking tours and blocking corruption investigations into Saudi arms deals, I spotted the current post over at Uncle Jimmy's House of Fun.

First of all, let me say that I have never found The Comic Strip, or any of its constituent members, remotely funny, so it's hardly a shock that I decided that The Hunt For Tony Blair sounded as funny as a power failure in a premature baby ward.

Nor do I have any time for those who consider death threats a valid response to political disagreement. Even if BlairSupporter (aka Uncle Jimmy) exaggerates wildly over the "death threat" ("I genuinely believe the world would be a better place if you were no longer in it") it is, I agree, the thought that counts.

Jimmy tells us:

I only write about this to let people know that there are people out there who wish an early death for those with whom they disagree.

Well, we knew that, Jimmy, because several of them post and comment regularly at your favourite American racist blog BareNakedIslam. I posted earlier today about BNI's yearning to have the Occupy Wall Street protestors gunned down in cold blood. Well, one of her/its commenters, on a post about how Palestinians are "laying claim to Bethlehem" (it's in the Occupied West Bank and not even Netanyahu claims it's part of Israel) states:


Best case scenario, we have we get another Baruch Goldstein to go on a little “spree” and a crusade to wipe out the dirty Arabs. Worse case, which is most likely, nothing happens and everyone will cave into them. Well, we can hope for the first one!


So that's a call for a repetition of a terrorist act of mass murder against civilians - because, you know, these wicked "Arabs" disagree with the commenter over where Israel's borders are. And what about all the rest of the world which agrees with them?

Returning to BareNakedIslam's supposedly-female, supposedly-Jewish administrator, she/it had this to say when Jon Stewart of the Daily Show made fun of Switzerland's ban on minaret building:


Add him to the list of liberal slugs whose beheading I look forward to seeing on YouTube.


That's right. For coming out with a piece of comedy BNI didn't like, Jon Stewart is to be beheaded.

And in case you think I'm cherry-picking one isolated instance, here is BNI again, this time disagreeing with New York's Mayor Bloomberg over the arrangements for commemorating September 11th:


Rudy would never do this. He organized the big event at Yankee Stadium right after 9/11 and had plenty of clergy who participated and all of the NYPD and FDNY who could be there. Bloomberg is having politicians instead. I want to see him beheaded on Youtube.


Or perhaps you'd prefer her/its measured response to Rae Abileah, a Member of Code Pink who led a demonstration calling for a boycott of Ahava cosmetics (sold as "Israeli" but actually illegal settlement goods):


Rae Abileah, a member of the movement who took part in the protest, said they are leading an international campaign against the company’s products, in protest of their production in the “occupied Palestinian territory”.

The demonstrators were able to shut down the Ahava store in the hotel for an entire day, which prompted them to push forward with the campaign in the United States. (The bitches should be locked up with the terrorists in Gitmo and tortured) In the past month, the women also demonstrated at Tel Aviv’s centennial celebrations in Central Park in New York City, as well as outside a cosmetics conference held in Los Vegas two weeks ago.

She said they had entered cosmetics stores and handed the managers letters with factual information on Ahava’s production process, and demanded they stop selling these products, since it is against the Geneva Convention. (This is one broad whose beheading would be welcome all around the world )


So hey, double score: first she/it calls for her/its political opponents to be tortured, then for them to be beheaded.

Or if wishing for opponents' violent death is insufficiently exciting, how about wishing to see Paris Hilton being genitally mutilated? Simply because you believe her to have converted to Islam?


annie
February 19, 2011 at 7:54 PM
Thank our lucky stars that Paris Hilton recently converted to islam and plans to open a center in Beverly Hills.

barenakedislam
February 19, 2011 at 8:05 PM
Annie,I heard that its Buddhism not Islam she converted to. I was so hoping to see her FGM procedure on YouTube.



Of course, if you happen to be a Muslim BNI wants you to be murdered:


Islam is being spit on as people learn what an evil cult it is. I look forward to when Muslims are being slaughtered en masse.


In the same comment thread, she/it replies to a commenter called "Pastor Tim" who complains that she is telling malicious lies about Islam (NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!):


Don’t lie to us Tim, we know your name is Imam Tim. Otherwise you are a left wing moron. I look forward to seeing your beheading on video.


Finally, here is BNI on someone who doesn't share her view that the Oslo massacre was the fault of liberal leftists who had it coming:


I can’t wait to see this idiot getting beheaded on YouTube. He’s a leftie loon who kisses the asses of Muslims and thinks Obama is a Christian.


Well, there you are. If you believe Barack Obama is a Christian then BNI wants to watch you being beheaded. Uncle Jimmy, as a good little birther who believes Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, is safe there.

Anyway, Jimmy, here's the thing. You say:

I only write about this to let people know that there are people out there who wish an early death for those with whom they disagree.

We should know these people exist. They are a real problem. Frequently of the peace ‘n’ love anti-war sort – [I know, I know - priceless isn't it?] – they often exude hatred from every pore when someone disagrees with them, even when supplied with indisputable facts.


So let's see you disowning this "real problem" of BareNakedIslam and her/its crazy lust for videoed beheadings. Because right now on your site it says:

There’s a site called Bare Naked Islam. It is single-minded in its niche; single-mindedly anti-Islam. And it makes no bones about it – it is anti-Muslim too.

Some might take exception to such a site, or even to my linking to it. Tough. While the British liberal press seems to ignore these sorts of stories for fear of upsetting good, honest, law-abiding Muslims, and while they continue to hunt down Tony Blair as though he is the world’s most wanted escaped criminal, I will find room for the stories at Bare Naked Islam.


So put up or shut up. Either stop cheerleading for those who call for the beheading (or torture, or genital mutilation) of those with whom they disagree, or quit whingeng when you come on the receiving end. There is a third way, I suppose: do neither and be exposed forever as a loathsome hypocrite who is happy to countenance the deaths of Muslims, "liberals" or "leftists" but screams blue murder when faced with someone who believes you do not add value to the world. If that is your response, then surely your Twitterer will have been proved right in his or her "genuine belief".

Pay no attention to the men building terrorist training camps (sorry, "settlements") behind the curtain!

I recently posted on how Israel prevented one of its citizens who wished to emigrate from leaving. This week, of course, the news has been full of an Israeli who has been allowed to come home: Gilad Shalit, released by Hamas in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians in Israeli jails.

First of all, I'm glad Gilad Shalit is back home. He may have been a soldier, but he wasn't captured while fighting, simply snatched by a kidnap squad: behaviour more generally associated with the Israeli government than with that of Hamas. The ICRC were prevented from checking on his condition, which is a breach of the Geneva Conventions. So yes, good to see him released.

The prisoner exchange seems to have caused apoplexy in many quarters (especially among crazionists like Mad Mel Phillips). Even better, then.

But I was struck when reading this article reporting on the details of the exchange by the following:

"....under the terms of the deal Israel will release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. This number includes 15 high security inmates said to have been directly involved in terror attacks"

So even taking the Israelis' description of their prisoners' crimes at face value, that's 15 prisoners being released who are "said to have been directly involved in terror attacks".

So out of what eventually settled down to a figure of 1,027 freed Palestinians, the remaining 1,012 were....?

Of course what they were is political prisoners, like Mordechai Vanunu but luckier.

So let us thank the Israeli regime for exchanging Gilad Shalit for 15 terrorists and simultaneously announcing the release of just over a thousand political detainees from its Gulag. It's a start.

However, before getting too touchy-feely about Netanyahu's change of heart, consider this: Mad Mel was right, but for the wrong reason. This does mark the end of the peace process, but not because of Shalit's return or the shuffling into sunlight of a tiny fraction of the poor bastards held in Israeli cells and torture chambers. No. the peace process is over because of what the Netanyahu regime quietly did while everyone was looking at the released prisoners and cheering. He launched a plan for a massive new illegal settlement at Givat Hamatos, one of the biggest pieces of settlement expansion ever. This "settlement" will almost completely cut East Jerusalem off from the rest of Palestine, and demonstrates precisely how serious the gangsters running Israel are about peace. Hell's teeth, even our supine pro-Zionist government felt inspired to protest. So did the European Union. So did France. (Of course, Tony Blair, who receives vast amounts of public largesse for his supposed work to improve relations between the Palestinians and Israelis, has had nothing whaver to say on the matter. No wonder the Palestinians -whose lot he keeps telling us is so much the better for his hard work - want him sacked and replaced with somebody who understands that there is a whole other country involved in "peace negotiations", not just Israel and its "generous" lobbyists.

Send her malodorous

This stinks.

You know what appals me most about that? It's the assertion by "businesses" (unchallenged by either the Conservative government or its supine LibDem puppets) that unfair dismissal rules are a major barrier to their taking on more people. So let's get this straight: the "businesses" who have the ear of this government refuse to employ people unless they are allowed to mistreat them without the threat of any kind of retribution. As with the recent change to the law to make Britain a friendlier place for wanted war criminals to visit, the government continues its frantic scramble to turn Britain into a third-rate banana republic, only with a Queen (and no bananas).

You can judge people's commitment to democracy by the way they treat (or would like to treat) peaceful protestors

I've been watching the various protests around the world inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protestors. I liked the Canon of St Paul's Cathedral coming out and basically telling the police to move along and stop bothering the guys sitting on his steps.

Of course, as any number of Syrians and Iranians could tell you, peaceful protests just move some folk to a murderous rage. Take American conservative fundraiser Nathan Wurtzel, who tweeted that his plan to clear the street would involve running a few of the protestors down with a car.

Or the proprietor of the BareNakedIslam hate site, who called for a Kent State solution. When a commenter expressed shock, she/it replied

CC, we don’t have to agree on everything. They are the enemy.

And a little further down the comment thread someone calling himself "Ret. Marine" informs us all (in an incoherent and mis-spelled comment) that the National Guard at KSU had been fired on first by the students they killed (though of course the "left-leaning media" covered that up). Funny how not even the National Guardsmen themselves knew about that: at least they never mentioned it in their defence. To RM the protest was organised by the "Black House (formerly the White House)" (ooh, no, no racists here....).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lovelace and Babbage



This site looks my kind of place.

Right of Return, of course. Right of Escape, no chance.

I suppose it shouldn't have come as any kind of surprise that the Israeli High Court decided to prevent Mordechai Vanunu from escaping to freedom (see my earlier post).

I can remember when it was the USSR which had "refuseniks": Jewish citizens who wished to leave and emigrate to Israel, but who were prevented from leaving by the Soviet authorities. This was rightly seen as an infringement of their human rights, and among the loudest voices of complaint came from Israel. Now the jackboot is on the other foot, and it is the vile bunch of freedom-fearing cowards running Israel who are denying Jews their human rights.

So far none of the supposedly liberal Western media seems to have picked up on this story, though it's been widely reported in Israel. Iran's PressTV seems to be the highest journalistic profile it's attained so far.

Here is another Vanunu story from last year which deserved more coverage than it received.

His Wikipedia entry makes chilling reading.

So here is a question for Tony Blair. Why, in his role as Quartet representative, has he not been demanding that Israel accept inspection of its nuclear facilities by the IAEA (in the same way that Iran, and Saddam's Iraq, did)? What has he not been demanding the release of a man who was resident in the UK at the time of his abduction by Mossad? Why, in short, has he not shifted his ass a single inch in support of a man who has done more for peace, not only in the Middle East but in the whole world threated by Israeli WMDs, than he himself has done in his career as an overpaid political playboy?

We all have to make sacrifices

While I was doing the Wagner I had to miss a few things.

I missed Mark Cavendish winning the World Road Race Championship:



I missed seeing three blocks of flats, very close to where I work, being demolished. The slideshow on the BBC page is of these flats: the videos are of an earlier demolition. This time round, once again, a local schoolboy won a competition to set off the charges, and did so in fact from the top floor of my wife's workplace which overlooks the site.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Edinburgh Players Opera Group: Götterdämmerung : Portobello Town Hall September 25th 2011

So just over a week ago it was that time of year again, when crazy people with more stamina than sense, obsessed by a love of Wagner music dramas, converged on Portobello Town Hall to put on a concert performance of Wagner's The Twilight of the Gods, or as one orchestra member christened it, Scotterdammerung. Wagnerites among you will already have figured out that we've been doing this for at least enough time to work round a Ring cycle. Actually this is year eleven: two runs around the Ring, with Tristan, Parsifal and Meistersinger tucked in between.

The game plan was this. Thursday evening, three-hour orchestra and chorus rehearsal (also the Prologue with the Norns). Friday afternoon and evening, eight hours of rehearsal for pretty much everyone bar the chorus. Saturday, eight hours for everyone. Sunday the performance. Or I should say the "performance": this used to be billed as "open rehearsal". Why not simply a performance without scare quotes? Well, that depends how much you wish to pay for your music hire. Bill it as an open rehearsal with contributions invited, and the music costs....quite a lot (big orchestra, long opera so big parts). Bill it as a performance with tickets on sale, and the price skyrockets out of the reach of groups such as EPOG.

If that all sounds like hard work, it definitely is. I can only speak as a string player (second violins) but we have around four and a half hours of opera (excluding inrervals) with no breaks from playing of more than about two minutes. It goes for the shoulders, it goes for the back, it also (unless you're careful) goes for the lower arm muscles. Act Two is the shortest, but much the hardest work for the strings who are scrubbing away at tremolandos for much of it. I got through the weekend on Tai Chi stretches and Pro Plus (no anti-doping controls in opera yet...)

Since it was formed in 2001, EPOG has been a labour of love by two extraordinary individuals. Mike Thorne, who was vice-principal of Napier University at the outset, moved to the University of East London and is now Vice-Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University. Mike used to conduct concerts in Edinburgh of somewhat offbeat repertoire, such as Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le Toit, and Peter Maxwell Davies's Orkney Wedding with Sunrise. I believe he still does that kind of thing down in England: now we only see him in Edinburgh once a year for a Wagnerthon. He reckons it takes him an hour a day to learn the score for a Wagner opera, but however long he spends he certainly knows it thoroughly. Though there is always fun with the different editions of the parts and scores ("Can we go back to wieder zurückhaltend, wind? What's that in your parts?" "Meno mosso" "Ah....")(The string parts invariably have both the German and the Italian so this is a fun spectator sport for us.) Mike somehow manages to keep not only his own spirits up but everyone else's, hauling us through these massive pieces in a ridiculously short rehearsal time for amateur players and coaxing performances out of us which, if not great, are at least presentable. The other extraordinary individual is Philip Taylor, eminence grise (more grise with each passing year) of Edinburgh Players, and leading light of EPOG. While Mike concentrates on the music, Philip does all the organising of players, singers, halls, music and such. From next year he will be handing over most of the donkey-work to a committee and taking a well-earned rest, but up to now it's been Philip who has made it all happen. A terribly nice chap who looks and sounds, if not quite like a character from P G Wodehouse then certainly like one from Anthony Powell.

EPOG manages, through Philip's cajoling and general niceness, to attract some stunning singers, some at the beginning of their career arcs, some well through theirs. We've had Elaine McKrill and Gerard Delrez on several occasions, which gives an idea of the level of talent we manage to get. The Hagen we had planned for this year had to change his plans when he was booked to sing at the Met (!) but we found a splendid replacement in John Cunningham. Our Siegfried was Jonathan Finney, who has been singing with us since Tristan in 2005 and seems to get better with every passing year. Elaine McKrill being busy with both Wagner and Strauss right now we welcomed back Kimberley Myers as another splendid Brünnhilde. Magdalen Ashman as her Valkyrie sister Waltraute was at least as good if not better: if the two of them both want to sing Kundry when we do Parsifal next year I'd hate to have to pick one over the other. Both of them really acted out their parts even though it was a concert performance: their scene together in act One was quite extraordinary. Nicholas Fowler as Alberich also deserves a mention for bringing the necessary menace to his brief appearance. The Norns and Rhinemaidens (Susan MacNaught doubled as Gutrune and Woglinde - I think the planned Gutrune was ill) were ace, and the chorus of vassals sang lustily (Mike tried to persuade them to drink Bovril for added power, but surely the emptiest vassals make the most noise?) .

Anyway, game over, job done, the fat lady sang (actually Kimberley Myers is far from fat) and having sung, caught fire to make the point that this was THE END. Enthusiastic applause from the hardy few who had come to watch and listen, including the editor of Wagner News (who joined the chorus). I look forward to reading what he has to say about us.

I was re-reading a copy of WN from a few years back in which Donald McIntyre was reminiscing about the Bayreuth Centenary Ring, directed by Patrice Chéreau and conducted by Pierre Boulez. Apparently when they came to make the film of the production, they spent two days on each opera: one to rehearse, and the next to do two performances of which the better was used. The mere thought of having to perform Götterdämmerung twice in one day boggles my mind. What do they make Bayreuth orchestral players out of? Titanium? Rhinegold? Depleted uranium? (If it wasn't depleted at the start, by the end of the second run it would be.)

Meanwhile here is a clip of those empty vassals from the Met production conducted by James Levine.



When my daughter was small we had recorded some children's film or other over the top of a videotape of this production, so that when one day the tape ran on she was presented with, pretty much, this. Faced with the question "What's the lady singing about?" (she starts just as this clip ends) I had to retrace Wagner's writing process, back up to the start of the Ring and run through edited highlights of all four operas. Whether or not the three-year old Wagnerite retained it all I don't know, but she watched the last two acts of Götterdämmerung at least a dozen times. Never let anyone tell you Wagner isn't for kids. Magic swords: disguising spells; love potions; a sleeping beauty; a dragon; treasure; love; treachery; evil dwarves; talking birds; and some of the greatest music ever written. Eat your heart out, J K Rowling.

Nicht so kleine

At last, a version of my blog's namesake piece with all four movements (previously the only versions available omitted the slow movement, which I hope you will agree was a sad loss.

So here we have Peter Schickele's wonderful Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, in full:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pakistan Plays Brubeck

A great cover version of the Dave Brubeck classic (actually written by his saxophonist Paul Desmond). Hat tip Neil.

Bad Blogger

I have been shamefully neglectful of EKN over the past few weeks. There have been a number of reasons for this: some work-related, others not. Fear not: this weekend I have come up to the Ballater flat full of good intentions (and we all know where those lead...) to bring the blog up to date, ish. I'm all on my own this weekend anyway, as my daughter is still in Mallorca (coming home next week, yay) and my son and wife are respectively singing in, and helping to organise the Stevenson College Choir for, the opening ceremony of this.

Exodus

It would seem that on Monday Mordechai Vanunu will learn from an Israeli court whether it has granted his wish to revoke his Israeli citizenship (to which under Israeli law he is no longer entitled in any case, having been convicted of espionage) and leave Israel, pausing only to shake from his shoes the dust of a country run by one of the vilest regimes on Earth.

I'm sure my own country would be happy to have him as he flees his oppressors. After all, Jews need a country where they can be safe from persecution.