Saturday 23 July 2011

This is the Boring Bit..

Waiting.... I have to be at the airport at an ungodly hour. Taxi booked for 3.30 a.m.
And I've been at a party down the street for the last five hours.
The couple at the last house at the end decided it was time they got to know the neighbours, so they went around knocking on doors.
It was very convivial, everybody was saying "We ought to do this more often!"
Anyway. 1:40 in the morning. do I sleep? dare I? Or do I stay awake?
Plenty of time to sleep over the atlantic. I can drool and snore for hours. Booked a window seat too. Yippee. Yes, I know theres not much to see most of the time, but I love coastlines, landforms. Greenland from the air is surreal.
I flew over the himalayas, on the thailand route, wow.
And there were folk in the middle seats watching a movie. Can you believe it? Gah!

In which: "I Carry the Dust of a Journey"

By this time tomorrow I'll be well on my way to Texas, where Red Dirt Girl will be waiting. I'll have flown first to Amsterdam, then, at ten fourty-five a.m. local, I launch again in a high arc across the atlantic.
Journeys, connections.  Blog might not get updated for a while.
I'll be meeting her daughter and two sons for the first time.  They know I might be a bit intimidated. They've joked about it. And about ways to throw me off-balance..
However, I have my cunning plans too. I've told RDG to get some make-up. Concealer. Not in my skin tone. So it stands out as fake.. so I can apply patches of it on my arms and neck.... "to cover up the worst of my tattoos....."  Maybe just a hint of a blue teardrop (ballpoint pen ink) below one eye, not well enough covered.... "Well, I was only in for six years, then the appeal court accepted that it was in self defence... they had it coming to them.... and besides, the  temporary insanity plea worked. Not my fault that I missed a couple of days of my meds....."

No apology whatsoever for posting a clip I posted a couple of years ago. It was sublime in 1970, it's as good now.
Sometimes,  in quiet moments, I hear this, in my head. I first heard it in 1970, and it's never truly left me. I can tell you that I've seen/heard a lot of live performers. Few have come even close to rivalling Emerson Lake and Palmer, on stage.
It's possible some of you will hate this. If so, I'd really like to know. Is it just me who thinks this is better even than sliced bread or intravenous chocolate?

Stowaway-101 is Always a Popular Class

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Does James Bond Have a Mac?

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Thursday 21 July 2011

When Esmeralda Tried out the New Tyre-Pump...

She couldn't get enough of it.
We couldn't pry her away from it, until she collapsed, convulsing, moaning, and muttering gibberish. When she revived, straight away, she was pumping again, her face flushed, brow moist, eyes glassy. If anybody suggests she's pumped enough tyres for today, she snarls at them in a most unladylike way, clutching the handle, rocking back and forth, trying to bite anyone who comes close.
I've sent for the veterinary surgeon, to shoot her with a tranquilising dart.
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Monday 18 July 2011

"La Tierra Giró Para Acercarnos"

-by Eugenio Montejo

La tierra giró para acercarnos,
giró sobre sí misma y en nosotros,
hasta juntarnos por fin en este sueño,
como fue escrito en el Simposio.
Pasaron noches, nieves y solsticios;
pasó el tiempo en minutos y milenios.
Una carreta que iba para Nínive
llegó a Nebraska.
Un gallo cantó lejos del mundo,
en la previda a menos mil de nuestros padres.
La tierra giró musicalmente
llevándonos a bordo;
no cesó de girar un solo instante,
como si tanto amor, tanto milagro
sólo fuera un adagio hace mucho ya escrito
entre las partituras del Simposio.

I can't speak Spanish, I can recognise a few words, that's all. Though if I read this through, sounding it in my head, I can appreciate the shapes of it, the rhythm, the flow.
But the person it's posted for, she can read it, understand it.
We've discussed this, translations, the fractures, the shifts in meaning, the changes in nuance. I usually say I don't like reading translations. But. Here we have an example. I can't know what a spanish person would hear, feel, on reading this, I can never reach those associations, those unspoken understandings, but luckily for me, there's a translation, by Australian poet, Peter Boyle, which becomes, in translated form, a poem, by Peter Boyle, based upon a poem by Eugenio Montejo.

"The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer"

The earth turned to bring us closer, 
it spun on itself and within us, 
and finally joined us together in this dream 
as written in the Symposium. 
Nights passed by, 
snowfalls and solstices; 
time passed in minutes and millennia. 
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh 
arrived in Nebraska. 
A rooster was singing,
some distance from the world, 
in one of the thousand pre-lives of our fathers. 
The earth was spinning with its music 
carrying us on board; 
it didn't stop turning a single moment 
as if so much love, 
so much that's miraculous,
was only an adagio 
written long ago 
in the Symposium's score.

When I found this poem, I was rummaging in the internet for something else, a poem by Norwegian forester Hans Borli. I've posted it before, but couldn't remember the title,
-it was, in english,

"There is No Sky These Nights"

There is no sky these nights
in early July, just an emptiness,
a pale absence
over the woods and bogs and
the haze-blue fields
where the flowers blossom forlorn
in the shadow of the scythe's approaching time.
Tired of arching over
the mortals' paths in the dust,
the sky has in fact gone on holiday
and travelled far away,
to the azure coasts of eternity
where life is a ship on it's journey.
But it has committed the stars
to the moss's protection,
the moss in the woods
 -- the mildest and softest on earth.
I walk among star images,
walk like a little Lord
through galaxies
of shining whiteness. Somewhere
I stop with one foot lifted,
so I won't trample on the Pleiades.

Today I was on a roof,fascinated by a clump of moss, with its little star flowers holding aloft perfect bright spheres of bright dew. Like transparent planets, magnifying the intricacy below.  "To see a world in a grain of sand. And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And eternity in an hour."
And I thought of Hans Borli's poem. And of how she'd understand .
Then I found Montejo and it just seemed so apt. 
On sunday, I'll be flying in a great sweeping arc above the turning earth, some 5000 miles toward Texas, where she'll be waiting.
And she'll understand the imagery, the connections,  
the still point 
of the turning world.


Sunday 17 July 2011

News International

The big story these days is the major unravelling of News International following the triggering news that came out in the trial of Levi Belfield, the man convicted of murdering 13 year-old schoolgirl Millie Dowler. It was revealed that a person or persons working for the News of the World had accessed and in fact deleted messages on the girl's phone after she went missing. The repeated activity led police to believe she was accessing her voice mail, and thus, it's implied, thinking of her as a runaway rather than an abductee in the first few days of her disappearance.
Then we learn her family's phones were also hacked.
And the whole scandal picks up momentum.
We knew they'd been doing it to movie stars, royalty, cheating sports personalities, and we knew there had been investigations. But celebrities don't tug at the heartstrings like a bereaved family of ordinary people, people like us.
And so it rolls on, this crumbling of a once-mighty empire. It thought itself untouchable. It thought politicians were in its pocket, it thought it owned the police.
But now it seems the politicians fear the people more than the Murdoch empire, and that empire is crashing around his ears. The first step of damage limitation was to announce that News of the World would print its last edition, 168 years from its inception. The staff mostly heard about it from the BBC, before their employers told them.
People were resigning too, an inch before they were pushed. Police chiefs. bent detectives.
Then we hear that just prior to announcing the death of news of the world, they've registered web domains for "The Sun on Sunday". Ha! so they think they'll just fill the void with another, indistinguishable paper with a different name? Business as usual?
Oh no.
The prime minister's erstwhile aide, a man with links to the phone tapping is arrested, but hey. they're non-denominational, they've cultivated pals of whatever stripe, dined with the scions of labour as well as the conservatives, oh yes, they'd all thought inviting the tiger to dinner was a good idea, appeasement on a grand scale.
Well. It looks as though it's all over in Britain for Murdoch's business empire. He owns the Wall Street journal too, and Fox News, a network not  famed for journalistic integrity. Now it seems there are allegations that News International played the same hacking tricks with the phones of 9/11 victims and their families, of fire crews, police, medical personnel. The FBI is investigating.

I can't see the company surviving in the U.S. if these stories prove to be true.

Few tears will be shed for Murdoch's losses. I don't imagine this ushers in a new wave of honest press, but I'm glad that some of the scummiest journalists around have reaped their just rewards, and will find no other paper dare employ them.

I never read the News of the World, it's always been an offensive rag. Good riddance.

Ahaaarrr, Me Hearties!!!


Yep Aardman animation's new movie...... Soon!

The Knock-Off Navy

Australian Navy personnel, serving in the middle east, have been issued with uniforms bearing a misspelled badge. Yes, out there, they're the Royal Australlian Navy. According to Arbroath, the uniforms were supplied to a Tasmanian firm, 'Badger Makes Badges', of Hobart, which outsourced the badges, it seems,  to Hong-Kong.
(for the geographically challenged, Tasmania is an island on the south-east of Australia, and is Australian, whereas Hong-Kong is part of China.)
Anyway, this apparition of a knock-off navy, looking almost, but not quite the real thing, led me to consider a future possibility, registered here in this blog, and if it  becomes reality, Soubriquet expects a fee of 10% of the profits over the next hundred years.
Yes, here it is, The Knock-Off Navy. I suggest that China, which is currently building the world's biggest navy,  builds part of it as a hire fleet. Y'know, personnel badges all stuck on with velcro, ship's identity numbers all made of fridge-magnet material. That way, navally challenged countries, like britain, which only has about three ships left, could, at the drop of a hat, or, at least, a Visa card over the Knock-Off Navy's hire desk, rapidly have a fleet on the way to any bit of sea it chose. Like around the Falklands, perhaps. Last time we had to send a fleet there, we had to commandeer cruise ships and cargo vessels. We'd have to hire them from China too.
It thus becomes possible for, for instance, the Swiss Navy to fight a major engagement against, say, that of Hungary.  Both landlocked nations would not need to actually own a single ship, nor have a home port. And the Knock-Off Navy would supply both fleets.
Just don't forget to sign the damage waiver form.
Actually, in engagements solely between Knock-Off Navy ships, it wouldn't be necessary to destroy or sink opposing vessels.
Nerf missiles and torpedoes would suffice. After two direct hits, the ship would release a cloud of coloured smoke, rip off all its badges, and return to China.
(It would also help avoid confusion in signal interception, as all ships would be speaking chinese.)

Couldn't ever happen you say?
What about Halliburton? Blackwater? How much of current warfare is outsourced to people who are not actually government armed forces?

Saturday 16 July 2011

Seen at Nag on the Lake , in Chicago, there's a new, huge, statue of Marilyn Monroe, in one of her most remembered scenes, with her skirt flying up as a subway train passes beneath the grating on which she stands. That white dress, not long ago, sold at auction for $5.6 million.
Of course, this pic has spawned innumerable copycats over the years. It was the iconic image of the poster for the film "Seven Year Itch" in 1955. It's said that Marilyn's then husband,  Joe Di Maggio was somewhat angry about the scene, and it may have been the last straw, because they divorced shortly after.

The shots were used in the posters for the movie, but the video above was NOT seen. Oh no. The censors deemed it too shocking, so the scene was re-shot, and edited so audiences saw mostly above the waist shots, and nothing above mid-thigh. That was more than racy enough for 1955 though.
Marilyn's dress antics were the talk of the town, and are again, in Chicago, where the giant sculpture by Seward Johnson has not been universally appreciated. It seems some of the good folk of Chicago are embarrassed by Ms Monroe's bronze undercladding. It's caused something of a furore there. Not with everybody of course. Teenage boys are universally in favour of it, -and not just the boys.
Mind you, her nether regions are clad in Bridget Jones' granny panties. For which the residents of Chicago must be universally grateful, as opposed to the dental-floss netherwear of a modern equivalent.

Girls? Whatever are you all thinking?

Boys. Oh come on, that's so undignified!

Every woman needs a little man, -this guy's about nine inches tall, he does pedicures, touches up the toe-nails, and sleeps in your make-up bag, ready for emergency repairs and fine detail work.

And here's the guy who knows the truth. Yes, it seems as though not all of the wind's from the subway. He's wearing a mask... Marilyn? Go easy on the cabbage please?

Wednesday 13 July 2011

I've Been Wax-Polishing the Floor

Getting my mother's house ready to sell. And the polish, well, it's a beeswax/carnauba blend, with some sort of hallucinogenic solvent. it's a fairly big hardwood floor, hands and knees, wax on, polish off... and I was giggling. So I decided I'd better have some appropriate music accompaniment, as my brain crumbled.

Beats Antique:

Sunday 3 July 2011

Well, You Could Always Try Passive Resistance...

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On the Discrepancies Between Armour, and um.. Armour for Ladies

Speaking here on behalf of The Knights of the Besmirched Countenance, I can confirm that similar discussions have taken place with the Sisterhood of the Pointy Heels.


(ossum? isn't that what you folks say?)
Here's a great little short: well, I liked it, anyway.

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

So. I was thinking of making one of those things. Looks like an E-stop button mounted on the end of a six volt battery case. 4X half inch hex heads...

Illuminated e-stop button, might need an l.e.d. Or a strobe for even better effect...

How does it work? Oh don't be silly. if it looks right, it'll work. You just have to channel your inner eight-year-old.
Via Boing Boing, thanks to Cory Doctorow.

Friday 1 July 2011

Sailing to Philadelphia

Mark Knopfler and James Taylor.

My name is Jeremiah Dixon
I am a Geordie Boy
A glass of wine with you, sir
And the ladies I'll enjoy
All Durham and Northumberland
Is measured up by my own hand
It was my fate from birth
To make my mark upon the earth...

He calls me Charlie Mason
A stargazer am I
It seems that I was born
To chart the evening sky
They'd cut me out for baking bread
But I had other dreams instead
This baker's boy from the west country
Would join the Royal Society...

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne,
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line,
The Mason-Dixon line.

Now you're a good surveyor, Dixon
But I swear you'll make me mad
The West will kill us both
You gullible Geordie lad
You talk of liberty,
How can America be free?

A Geordie and a baker's boy
In the forest of the Iroquois...

Now hold your head up, Mason
See America lies there
The morning tide has raised
The capes of Delaware
Come up and feel the sun
A new morning is begun
Another day will make it clear
Why your stars should guide us here.

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line,
The Mason-Dixon line. 

1763:There is a dispute over land ownership in the colonies of America. Back in 1632, King Charles I gave some land to one Cecilius Calvert. That land became known as Maryland. Some of its borders were easily  defined, being delineated by coastline,  and the Potomac river.
50 or so years later, King Charles II gives another piece of land to the Penn family. This becomes Pennsylvania.
Boundaries at first, in a sparsely populated land, are ill defined, but it seems there is a discrepancy, and both the Calverts and the Penns try to tax settlers in an area where the terms of the original grants appear to overlap. Acrimonious disputes arise, even a war.
To be fair, the boundaries were a bit complex...

Eventually, King George II got a bit tired of the whole thing, and ordered that the belligerents cease shooting at each other, and try to solve the problem rationally.
"According to The History of Maryland by John Thomas Scharf, both William Penn II and Charles Calvert received a letter from the King of England in April 1681 requiring them “to make a true division and separation of the said provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to the bounds and degrees of our said Letters Patent and fixing certain Land Marks where they shall appear to border upon each other for the preventing and avoiding all doubts and controversies that may otherwise happen concerning the same.” " 


This led to the two families appointing surveyor Jeremiah Dixon, and astronomer/navigator Charles Mason, both from England, to be responsible for mapping and marking out the border between the states.
It took them five years, but eventually the boundary was delineated by a line of marker stones, set at mile intervals.  Every fifth mile there was a "crown Stone" with the crest of the Penn family on the Pennsylvania side, and the crest of Lord Baltimore (Calvert) on the Maryland side. Many of these markers still exist.
"The stones — huge blocks of limestone between 3.5 and 5 feet long and weighing between 300 and 600 pounds—were quarried in Southern Great Britain and shipped to America. Carried by wagon to their final resting place on the line, the stones were placed at one-mile intervals. Mile markers were decorated with vertical fluting and a P on the north face and M on the southern face; every fifth mile along the line the stones were engraved with the Penn coat of arms on the Pennsylvania side and the Calvert coat of arms on the other."
Go to the links: (This was the most informative one for me, with a lot of detail on how the survey was undertaken)
to read more.

It Was a Long Time Ago.

I was five years old. Me? bottom row, furthest right.

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