Saturday 31 December 2011

A Lovestruck Romeo...

A love-struck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made.
Finds a streetlight, steps out of the shade
Says something like, "You and me babe, how about it?"

Juliet says, "Hey, it's Romeo, you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
He's underneath the window, she's singing, "Hey la, my boyfriend's back.
You shouldn't come around here singing up to people like that...
Anyway, what you gonna do about it?"

Juliet, the dice was loaded from the start
And I bet when you exploded into my heart
And I forget I forget the movie song.
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?

Come up on different streets, they're both the streets of shame.
Both dirty, both mean, yes, in the dream it was just the same
And I dreamed your dream for you and now your dream is real.
How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?

When you can fall for chains of silver,
You can fall for chains of gold,
You can fall for pretty strangers
And the promises they hold.
You promised me everything, you promised me thick and thin, yeah!
Now you just say, "Oh Romeo? Yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him".

Juliet, when we made love, you used to cry.
You said, "I love you like the stars above, I'll love you 'til I die".
There's a place for us, you know the movie song.
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?

I can't do the talk, like the talk on TV
And I can't do a love song, like the way it's meant to be.
I can't do everything, but I'll do anything for you.
I can't do anything, 'cept be in love with you!
And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be.
All I do is keep the beat... and bad company.
Now all I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme,
Juliet, I'd do the stars with you any time!

Juliet, when we made love you used to cry.
You said, "I love you like the stars above, I'll love you 'til I die".
There's a place for us, you know the movie song.
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?

And a love-struck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a lovesong that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight, steps out of the shade
He says something like, "You and me babe, how about it?"

You and me babe, how about it?

Thursday 29 December 2011

"Bring me Southern Kisses From Your Room"

Romeo's Tune  XXXXX!

 Meet me in the middle of the day
Let me hear you say everything's okay
Bring me southern kisses from your room
Meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say everything's alright
Let me smell the moon in your perfume

Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there's always something more
It's lost in talk, I waste my time
And it's all been said before
While further down behind the
masquerade the tears are there
I don't ask for all that much I just want someone to care
That's right now

Meet me in the middle of the day
Let me hear you say everything's okay
Come on out beneath the shining sun

Meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say everything's alright
Sneak on out beneath the stars and run

Oh yeah, oh yeah yeah, oh yeah

It's king and queen and we must go down
now beyond the chandelier
Where I won't have to speak my mind
and you won't have to hear
Shreds of news and afterthoughts and complicated scenes
We'll huddle down behind the light and fade like magazines

Meet me in the middle of the day
Let me hear you say everything's okay
Bring me southern kisses from your room

Hey hey, meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say everything's alright
Let me smell the moon in your perfume

Oh now, meet me in the middle of the day
Let me hear you say everything's okay
Let me see you smiling back at me

Hey, meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say everything's alright
Hold me tight and love and loving's free

Big City Cat

Buildings and people down under the skies,
I walk down the street looking out through my eyes,
I'm getting so skinny it hurts to sit down,
I'm deep in the well, I'm in the rat trap town.

Where it's dirty for dirty, it's an eye for an eye,
it's a tooth for a tooth and a sigh for a sigh
and everything edgy like musical chairs
an' everyone lookin', but who really cares?

Well, I'm trying to get up, trying to laugh in my head,
I'm walkin' on eggs and I'm climbin' on thread.
There's motors an' traffic an' racket an' horns;
my weary ol' stairway is wobbly an' worn.

There a hissing of heaters and banging old pipes,
screaming of women and laughing all night,
there's babies a-cryin' an' somebody's dog,
he's barking so loudly, there's a man in the hall...

Hell, it's some kinda lunatic following me.
He's down by the john so I can't take a pee.
I'm supposed to be happy, I'm here where it's at,
I'm a face in the crowd, I'm a big city cat.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

On Slights and Grudges, With a Complimentary Side-Dish of Bosoms

Bear with me.
Look at the bosoms whilst I attempt to sort my discrepant thoughts.
I found this picture a while ago, whilst trying, I think, to identify a painter of something else entirely. I kinda snagged it into a "stuff to think about later" folder. I'm very bad, however at archiving sources, so I've no idea where I found it. 
Here we have a group of prosperous aristocratic ladies behaving in a scandalously unladylike manner, going at each other with sharp pointy swords in a forest clearing. And topless to boot.  The Pall Mall Gazette, of August 23rd 1892 carried the story:

The duel was widely reported, mainly because the story got out that the ladies were bare-breasted. Having had a quarrel, these high-born ladies, whose families comprised a large part of the ruling elite of both Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, decided to settle the matter beyond doubt.
The bared bosoms were due to the requirements laid down by Baroness Lubinska, who had treated many battlefield wounds, and had observed that fragments of clothing carried into a wound, by either musket ball or sword, were often the seat of mortal infection, whereas a clean sword cut was usually survivable
Women's duels were not as rare as you might think. One fought in Hyde Park, London, became known as "The Petticoat Duel", first they shot at each other with pistols, then fell-to with swords because of a heinous insult. -One had dared to question the veracity of the stated age of the other.
Another duel, fought between a frenchwoman and an american was over the respective merits of european vs american doctors. (France won, and the American was treated by a european doctor, subsequently writing a letter of apology).
Women fought over suitors, insults, over wearing similar dresses, almost anything. A duel was fought in Georgia by two women both enamoured of the same young man. He saw one of his sweethearts die, run through the heart, and in accordance with the young women's wishes, married the victor that very same  day.

 Mademoiselle Maupin, Operatic Diva,  Mistress of Emperor Maximilian of Belgium,
Duellist, Serial Seducer of both Ladies and Gentlemen.

"The ball was given either by King Louis XIV, or his brother the duc d'Orléans. La Maupin attended in a cavalier's dress and played that role to the hilt, but without concealing her own identity or sex, it would seem. She centered her attentions on one beautiful young lady, whose time she monopolized. They had several dances together, and when the guests' conversation buzzed with speculation about them, La Maupin suggested a more private tryst and sealed the proposal with a passionate kiss out in the middle of the dance floor.
This was too much for three young gallants, themselves suitors of the young lady. They surrounded the couple on the dance floor, protesting La Maupin's disgraceful behavior.
"At your service, gentlemen." she answered them in the standard formula of the duel, and all four withdrew to the dark gardens without to settle the affair. La Maupin defeated all three at once, though whether she killed or merely disarmed and injured them, I cannot say.
In any event, she returned alone victorious to the ball, only to be confronted by the King. "You are the jade La Maupin?" ask Louis "I have heard of your handiwork! Need I remind you of my decree against duels in Paris?" She denied nothing, for how could she? She was well known and had clearly been the center of everyone's attention. It would seem however that she did present herself to Monsieur who interceded for her.
The next day she awaited word of her fate, but instead of being arrested, she received word that the King, who it seems was again amused by her panache, was speculating that his law governed only men, and that she was free to duel at will. His hesitation gave her time to flee to Brussels until the crisis had passed."

Why am I musing on this stuff?  Well, recent events, really.
Not duelling events, but women and spurious grudges.  We men are too thick-skinned to have any idea of why a woman might seethe with resentment. Truly, we have no idea. And a short while ago, a female blogger, who I will not name nor provide any specific clues toward, seems to have become angry with me and feels that I had insulted her or harmed her in some way. I had then, and still have now, no idea what I was supposed to have done.
Another female blogger went to have a look to see if she could figure out what I was supposed to have done. First blogger seemed to think that this constituted stalking. It wasn't, and all I can infer from all this is that first blogger is somewhat needlessly paranoid.
The lady who visited her blog was all ready to draw her rapier in order to avenge the slight to my good name. I have persuaded her that it is not necessary. 
If a duel was to occur......

Sorry. I'm not a real grown-up yet.

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Monday 26 December 2011

Ebeneezer Soubriquet,

Here we see Ebeneezer, 
The founder of Soub-Labs, (or, as it was originally known: "The Ebeneezer Soubriquet Laboratory Foundation for the Invention of Unnecessary Equipment and Commodities, and the Investigation of All Matters Curious and Inconsequential") trying out his tremendously aforethoughtful device, entitled "A Most Serendipitous Means for the Avoidance of Rush Hour Traffic, by Means of Travel Above the Crowded Streets".
As you see, this incredible invention was invented a little too much before rush hour had itself been invented, to achieve its full glory.
Had the device been patented a mere fifty years later, the story might be different.
It was, in a modest way, successful. What you can't see here is the elegant method of propulsion. Behind Ebeneezer sits the projection drum, which casts corn onto a central track in front of the carriage. Ebeneezer holds the reins to a trained team of twelve extraordinarily strong sewer rats, (sewer rats scored highest in traction strength, but early experiments could only take place at night, due to the underworld-dwelling rats' aversion to bright sunlight, this problem being solved by issuing the rats with tiny designer ray-bans)...
All went well until Ebeneezer's arch-rival, that b@stard, Edison, slipped ergotamine into the grain sacks. ~If the contraption had sported the wings Ebeneezer had earlier sketched, he might have survived when the rats went berserk.
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Santa... The TRUTH!

Friday 23 December 2011

Antarctica: Not Practising Gender Equality!

Yesterday, I was listening to the radio, and it was "Womans Hour" on the BBC.
The interviewees for part of the programme were women who had worked on the recent BBC series "Frozen Planet".  Sarah Wheeler, ex writer-in-residence in Antarctica, described how, before travelling to the Mc Murdo, she'd been given a U.S. Navy Antarctic Survival Manual. One of the useful tips in there is that if you touch very cold metal with bare skin, such as an ungloved hand, then you'll stick to it, firmly. The best way to release yourself with minimal injury is to urinate over the join between self and metal.  "before going south, I did a 'dry run' so to speak, in the privacy of my own bathroom, and... y'know, it's a man's world!".

After clearing up the mess of the tea I'd snorted, I gave that a tiny bit of serious thought. And, you know, I'd suggest that if a man gets stuck to something, then he's likely to find it nearly as difficult as it might be to a woman to aim pee at the intersection. Say, for instance if it's his hand stuck to a door-handle.
Where we do score more highly, is that we're more likely to be able to direct an aimed stream of pee at a colleague's sticky problem.

(And before we all go "eeeuooo!" in disgust, for heaven's sake, grow up. Unless you've got a kidney or urinary tract infection, pee is pretty much sterile.  Safer than saliva... that kissing?  it's more dangerous!
The advice came from the U.S. Navy, which, like most military forces, advises its personnel that in the absence of sterile boiled water, peeing into a wound is a safe way to flush it clean of dirt and bacteria.)

 What other piece of music could I append than something from Brian Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets"

Yorkshire's Clouds of the Day, Thursday 22nd December

  A better pic than I could get, of clouds over the windfarm at Oxenhope Moor

This one's not mine, it's off the BBC Leeds Weather Site,
where other pics of these unusual lenticular clouds can be seen.

This one's taken from my place of work.

As is this.

 Pretty, Huh?

A Self-Sweeping, Chimney-Friendly Santa

I think this style of Santa will revolutionise Christmas, the time spent dealing with firmly-wedged corpulent old men will be available for other purposes. You'll note the sinuous curves for easy negotiation of chimney bends, the self-sweeper-muff at the broadest point, and the two fur-trimmed orbs, which locate the Santa and provide balance.
The only thing that troubles me is the casual way she's holding the poor old fella's face, I wonder, did she really need to mutilate him in order to take over? Does it help with the reindeer?

I will have a trip-wire and net set up by the fireplace, so I can ask her what she did with the old man. If her answers absolve her, then I'll gladly offer her an assisted shower to get all the soot off.
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Sunday 18 December 2011

Calling Don Quixote, and Other Would-Be Tilters-at-Windmills

I saw this on "Nothing to do With Arbroath", a blog that constantly picks up things that make me laugh.
No, it's not a Windmill, but it  made me think of how the brave Don, and Rocinante would have risen to the challenge. As some of my readers know, part of my life encompasses building sites, I go on courses every so often, to learn the latest wisdoms of health and safety. And you know, the people who build our world, on the bottom line, are often not the sharpest shovels in the bucket.
Here we see a great example. Usually operated by 'The Upside-Down Helicopter Pilot"
(we used to call him the "Irish Helicopter Pilot", but he threw his sandwiches at us, so we knew he was really angry, as it took him ages to get the most of the sand out of them afterwards).

One question that comes to mind is... What's happened to the safety device? Usually a tool like this only engages when you're gripping the lever. If you let go, the clutch disengages.
If the cable from the lever breaks, the clutch disengages. Somebody's been messing with this machine to override its safety devices. Stupid.

Friday 16 December 2011

Tea Addiction: A Warning from the Sixties

Back in the Sixties there was a massive band, called the Rutles. They took the world by storm, spawning imitators and competitors.  In a parallel universe, it's said there was a similarish group called the Beatles. I think I've heard of them, but The Rutles. Oh man, everybody had a few Rutles albums in the attic, or the basement. Mongolian Yak-herders, Bolivian coca pickers, eskimos, arapahoes, everybody knew the Rutles, you could walk into a jungle long house in Sarawak, or a labour-camp in Siberia, and be pretty sure that if you hummed a couple of bars of a Rutles tune, everybody would soon join in.

Today's generation have never heard of them. Why? Well. It was their discovery and subsequent heavy use of a controversial, yet not illegal, mind expanding substance.


Given the hard-core resistance to, and revulsion for Tea in the United States,
and the rumours surrounding its use, the band never recovered.

Top Gear's U.S. Challenge

Well, it's likely some of my U.S readers won't appreciate this, but come on guys, how do you think we feel about Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, or every other comedy (or unintentional comedy) which portrays false stereotypes?

Top gear... If you don't know the show (not the current north-american made franchise, the real one with Clarkson, Hammond, and May), then you won't know that the whole show's firmly tongue-in-cheek, and they play these kind of stupid stunts everywhere, especially here in britain. You might say they're lucky to be alive..... Hammond is, after a front tyre blew out on the rocket powered car he was driving for the show, in 2006, flipping it end over end at 280mph. As the other presenters said,  after several days vigil in the intensive care unit, they knew he'd be okay, because he took the impact on his head.

I posted the full episode of the u.s. challenge, back in 2007, but it was hosted then by google video, and that code no longer works.  Thanks KT in Australia for letting me know. This one's direct from Top Gear's own website, using the embed code they supply. Fingers crossed..... Publish...

The Clash of the Chap-Hop-Champions

On Correlation and Causation

Over at Lola's Loves,  Lola tells us of a Russian scientist, reported in Pravda, as publishing a study that says "Men become impotent because of women's low-cut dresses and bare legs", this, he says is due to his study showing that in societies where women are dressed demurely, or covered head to toe, i.e. Islamic nations, there's a much lower incidence of erectile dysfunction and prostate problems. 

From Lola's Loves
 I recently read a blogpost in which the author was pointing out the ways in which correlation and causation are  too often conflated.
He prints pairs of graphs with similar curves, and invites us to make connections between them, only, of course, the connections are nonsensical.
Seeing these connections, we're reminded that some more apparently connected graphs we see in newspapers and magazines aren't necessarily proof of what the writer's trying to claim.

I think Pravda should consider these examples, when deciding if it's the view of ladies thighs, and cleavages that causes men's troubles in western societies. Poor ole Hugh Hefner.....

So recently, touring through my archives, a vast underground labyrinthine repository of scribbles, notes, photos, diaries, ideas etc, I found a clipping from the interwebs of 2008, on the evils of bread.

I'll stay away from the dangers of loaves and fishes. Here we go:

(Source unknown, I didn't write it).

Warning: Bread is dangerous

September 13th, 2008

  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
  2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations
  4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
  5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average North American eats more bread than that in one month!
  6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
  7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
  8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
  9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 240 degrees Celsius! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
  12. Most bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:

  1. No sale of bread to minors
  2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
  3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
  4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
  5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

As You Can See,

I'm messing about with the template. I liked it well enough as it was, but it didn't work with some of Blogger's new functions, such as the social media buttons and the myriad different ways to view.
The background picture is very temporary, I just can't decide what to use, so this one is here to remind me of what I should be doing with my spare time.
In the meantime, readers old, new, and just passing by are welcome to make polite suggestions.

The German Version of "The Wall of Death" Was Never Less Than Awesome.

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Tuesday 13 December 2011

"Tantalising Hints of the Elusive Higgs Boson"

The Scientific Editor of this blog was delighted today to hear on the BBC news that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider, near Geneva, have found "tantalising hints"of the Higgs Boson. They haven't actually seen one yet, but as I said in the title, it's elusive. It probably only comes out when it's pretty sure nobody'll be observing it.
So what have they found?

Soubriquet Labs once had a similar problem, something was stealing food, chewing through wrappers, desecrating cheese.
How did I confirm it? Droppings.
I can confidently predict that the Cern scientist have found Higgs Boson poo in the Large Hadron Collider.

SOUBLAB, always willing to help fellow seekers-after-truth, has today dispatched a crate full of 'Little Nippers' to CERN.
The Little Nipper 

Them pesky Higgs Bosons won't know what's hit 'em.
Plan B involves letting Schroedingers cat out.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Aerobatic Snowmen

If you're allergic to Aled Jones singing "Walking in the Air", then don't click play. 
I like it.
From Raymond Brigg's "The Snowman"

An Atkinson Grimshaw Sky


Friday night's full moon as I was leaving work.

Taken on a Sony-Ericsson C905 phone camera, on auto. I didn't use any of the fancy settings, it seems to do okay on its own.

Saturday 10 December 2011

It's a Good Thing I'm Not Claustrophobic

Did I volunteer for this? we refurbished this space a while back, and as there was a fair bit of unsightly pipework at one end, it was decided to build a false wall to screen it. Now there's a new tenant wanting the space, and he wants a heating system with radiators. So I have to stick a boiler and pipe runs and new waste pipes for the new kitchen and toilet in there too. But: nobody measured the width of my shoulders before the wall was built. It's tight.

Spelunking tight.
Not enough room to swing even a very short cat. That clipboard's paper is 11.72x8.3".

Had to put a new piece in here. But the other end? there's a lot to get into there. Update picture on monday, all being well.

And here? just behind me is the vertical pipe that I can only squeeze past whilst facing one way. I can't turn around at all. I can't crouch down. If I drop something that rolls under that black pipe, I can't reach it without being very inventive.
By the end of monday I'll either be finished with this space behind the real world, or entombed there forever.

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Rest Easy, Citizens!

Knowing that the ever-vigilant officers of the law have successfully thwarted attempts to
'Occupy the Litter Box'.

Seasonal Gratings.

This blogger is an old curmudgeon, and not much one for the whole christmas shtick. However, occasionally there is a grating and scraping noise, as his cast-iron armour loosens for a moment.

I was reminded by another blog that it's almost time for Luciafest in the northern regions. Here, we've forgotten, mostly, that christmas is not just a christian festival, not just a major marketing opportunity for mammon, but also a far older thing, celebrated long before the mediterranean religion came.
It's Yule. or Jul.
All about the darkness of winter, the dying of the sun. And rebirth. A new beginning, the coming of the light, and the celebration of the solstice.

My first introduction to Lucia-fest was in 1979. I was living in Iceland, working as a potter. my friend was dating a swedish girl, who worked in a hospital at Reykjalundur, and I got to know a group of friends working there and in other Reykjavik hospitals.
On the 13th december, Luciafest, I was invited to Reykjalundur, where the swedish girls had chosen their Lucia.
We waited in darkness, and the singing started. And the procession entered, a blonde girl with a green garland in her hair, a crown of light, wearing a white robe, with a red sash,  singing. And, following her, more girls, each carrying a candle, their faces uplit, for a curmudgeon like me, it was beautiful, it was spiritual. 'Lucia'  told us about the meaning of the tradition, we ate a meal of seasonal swedish dishes they had cooked, then someone told us the Northern Lights were in the sky, so we all went out, and lay on our backs on the grass, watching curtains of ethereal light flicker across the sky. It seemed a perfect companion to the bringers of the light.

In pagan times, people were never sure that the world was not ending, condemned to darkness and cold as the sun died. Only by festival and sacrifice could the sun be reborn, through death to renewed life.
But when christianity came to the north, there were two gods to appease, two rebirths.
The Norse king, Hakon the Good, made it the law that Jul (yule) was to be celebrated at the same time as the Chritsians celebrated  Christ's Mass, this was his first move in converting his pagan countrymen to christianity, a stealth move, he knew his religion would be rejected if he proclaimed it openly, so he sought to gradually introduce it, as he built his own popularity.
"King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to Norway; but the whole country was heathen, with much heathen sacrifice. As many great people, as well as the favour of the common people, were to be conciliated, he resolved to practice his Christianity in private. He kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token of the greatest holy days. He made a law that the festival of Yule should begin at the same time as Christian people held it, and that every man, under penalty, should brew a meal of malt into ale and keep the Yule holy as long as it lasted."
  (Saga of Haakon the Good)

"Midvinterblot", Carl Larsson.
The sagas tell that, following several years of famine, which was held to be the fault of King Domald, and those previous years sacrifices of oxen having not appeased the gods, it was decided that the only sacrifice great enough to bring back the favour of the gods, would be the sacrifice of the Domald, the King himself. This was at  the great temple of the gods, in Uppsala. Not quite co-incidentally, the cathedral in Uppsala, Domkyrkan, in which those girls in the video above sing to Lucia, is said to be built on the site of the temple where Domald's sacrifice gave life back to the land. 

I prefer the singing and the white-robed girls and their candles, bringing back the light, I'd rather live in the world Hakon envisaged, than the one where  Domald died.

So, a toast to Lucia. 
candle trails at Salisbury Cathedral via The Nag on the Lake
Light your candles on Lucia's day, December the Thirteenth, and know that winter will end, the sun will return. And actually it will do that no matter what your beliefs, no matter what rituals you follow in the coming weeks.

Gledelig Jul!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Ersatz Soubriquet posts Ersatz Coffee

This via a comment on Red Dirt Girl's blog, by Goatman.

Goatman referenced "Don't crush that dwarf, hand me the pliers" by The Firesign Theatre Company, 1970.
I had google it, which led me to this.

"In 2006, 'Don't crush that dwarf, hand me the pliers' was added to the National Recording Registry, a list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."

Tuesday 6 December 2011


How Much Toilet Paper?
The Telegraph has a story that schools in Catalonia, Spain, are trying to keep their operating costs down, by seeking to reduce wasteage and over-consumption.
"The northeastern region has been ordered to rein in its deficit and has embarked on a series of stringent austerity cuts.
The latest edict issued by the region’s ministry of education instructs state schools to cut “excessive consumption” of toilet roll among pupils and limit the quota to a maximum of 25 metres per child per month."  ( 1 metre is approx 39 inches -3ft 3inches)
Wow! Austerity! or is it? Well, assuming children are at school on average for 23 days per month, then that works out as........ 1.08metres, or about three and a half feet of toilet paper per day.
And the school day lasts what? six hours?
Now,  I ask  you, for six hours, do you need three and a half feet of toilet paper? you can't go at home before you leave for school?

It strikes me as not really the shock/horror story the Telegraph would like to pretend.
Spain is, as a nation, in financial difficulty. Not so bad as Greece, but in a tough place and working to keep from getting deeper in debt. If your kid's using three and a half feet of toilet paper, in a six hour school-day, then maybe the kid should learn to use it more efficiently, or maybe, just maybe,if your kids can't learn, then they should take their own emergency supply with them.

In part of my life, I'm a plumber. Most toilet blockages are caused by people trying to flush too much toilet paper.
Dammit, you don't need half a roll every time you go.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Yesterday, at lunchtime, I made a quick foray into the supermarket, directed shopping, vector in toward target... acquired, basket, check-out. No unnecessary aisles, in and out, like a commando raid behind enemy lines.
Or so it was meant to be, but as usual, most of the checkouts were not in use, and those that were, had huge backlogs.... So, I went along to the rapid self-checkout tills. And blocking access to those were two women, with loaded trolleys*, and kids, gabbing about whatever... 
"Excuse me?" I murmur, politely, pointing to the vacant, unused till ahead of them. They ignore me, continuing to talk, kids busy tearing open packs of colourful* sweets* from the reachable shelves.
I'm in a hurry. There's a truck on its way, and I promised I'd meet it at gate one, and show him where to crane-off the load. So, supermarket to buy lunch.
"Harrr-hum!" I cough. "Ladies?"
They ignore me.
So I do the only thing I can think of. I push a trolley aside, and go scan my goods. All of a sudden, behind me is a very loud silence.... You know that one in the movies? where the very bad scary thing is rising up out of the darkness and the hero's back is turned, oblivious?
I tap in my pin number, pick up the bag, and one of the lane blockers says, in an outraged voice, "Just who do you think you are?"
I think they've only just noticed me, I'm just a tiny irritation to them. 
I shrug and walk away, in time to hear one saying to an assistant "That man pushed in front of us!". They're probably dreaming of claiming damages from the store for hurt feelings.

"Who do you think you are?"
That's a deep one. Because, until it was questioned like that, I'd have answered "I'm me."
But now I'm not sure. The very question evinces doubt. I slept on it, troubled, probably muttering, and grinding my teeth.
And in the morning, I perused myself carefully  in the bathroom mirror. All looked normal. Or almost normal. I looked really closely. If that's an impostor, all I can say is, it's a great job, very convincing. Even got all my flaws just right.
On the way to work, I noted that "I" seemed to know the way, without prompting.
And, if asked, I can recite my grandmother's maiden name, and the name of my first school-teacher. Or so I think.

I'll be watching myself carefully for the next few days to see if I'm genuine.

*uk Trolley =  u.s. 'cart'.
*uk Colourful = u.s. 'colorful'
*uk Sweets = us 'candies'

The Perils of Cybercloning.

Via Miss Cellania

Hate Poem

Hate Poem
By Julie Sheehan
I hate you truly. Truly I do.
Everything about me hates everything about you.
The flick of my wrist hates you.
The way I hold my pencil hates you.
The sound made by my tiniest bones were they trapped in the
   jaws of a moray eel hates you.
Each corpuscle singing in its capillary hates you.
Look out! Fore! I hate you.
The blue-green speck of sock lint I’m trying to dig from
   under my third toenail, left foot, hates you.
The history of this keychain hates you.
My sigh in the background as you pick out the cashews hates you.
The goldfish of my genius hates you.
My aorta hates you. Also my ancestors.
A closed window is both a closed window and an obvious
   symbol of how I hate you.
My voice curt as a hairshirt: hate.
My hesitation when you invite me for a drive: hate.
My pleasant “good morning”: hate.
You know how when I’m sleepy I nuzzle my head under your
   arm? Hate.
The whites of my target-eyes articulate hate. My wit practices it.
My breasts relaxing in their holster from morning to night hate you.
Layers of hate, a parfait.
Hours after our latest row, brandishing the sharp glee of hate,
I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one
   individually and at leisure.
My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity of
   my hate, which can never have enough of you,
Breathlessly, like two idealists in a broken submarine.

Monday 5 December 2011

Pretty Words

Pretty Words
By Elinor Wylie
Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.
I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.
The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog
(Alicia Ostriker)

To be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God's love
washes right through you
like milk through a cow

To be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended skirt

To be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other
dogs can smell it

Friday 2 December 2011

A Town With no Cheer.

The town is Serviceton, some 440 miles northwest of Melbourne, near the border between Victoria and South Australia. It used to BE the border until a surveying error was discovered, putting it wholly within Victoria. It was at Serviceton that two different states' respective railway systems met, and at one time, passengers would exit one train, and embark upon another. In the in-between time, they would refresh themselves in the station's grand refreshment rooms, the largest such on any australian railway outside a major town, Serviceton itself is a tiny place, a hub of rural activities, but it has few inhabitants. The border was truly a border, a place where two colonies met, where laws were different, taxes too. Customs officers levied duty on freight, smuggling was rife. On an Australian tour, Tom Waits picked up a newspaper with a story about Vic-Rail's decision to pass trains through Serviceton without stopping, and the effect a closure of the station bar and restaurant would have on an already struggling small town. The refreshment room closed in 1981, the station closed in 1986. "The arrival of the station spurred the development of the town. Over the next two years a post office, several general stores, a boarding house and hotel were established and a butcher, hairdresser, plumber, chemist and bricklayer set up premises. The National Bank rented a room at the hotel and a creamery opened in 1891. A fence was erected along the entire length of the border in 1888-89 to keep rabbits and dingoes out of South Australia. The station was closed in 1986 and is now in a state of some disrepair and today there are about a half dozen remaining residents." 'Patterson's Curse' is the name for a blue-flowering plant, Echium plantagineum, introduced to Australia as a garden plant. The common name for it in Australia is said to derive from Jane Paterson, who in the 1880s planted this in her garden, only for it to spread uncontrollably over all the pastures. The plant produces a toxic alkaloid, sheep and cattle can tolerate it, and in drought years, it may be a valuable source of feed for them, but it kills horses and other non-ruminant livestock, by severely damaging the liver. Cutting it only makes it more vigorous. Australia considers it the worst threat to agriculture outside of drought. After bushfires, it is often the first plant to reappear, to the detriment of all others.

"Town With No Cheer" Tom Waits

Well it's hotter 'n blazes, and all the long faces-
there'll be no oasis for a dry local grazier,
there'll be no refreshment for a thirsty jackaroo,
from Melbourne to Adelaide on the overlander
with newfangled buffet cars and faster locomotives
the train stopped in Serviceton less and less often.

There's nothing sadder than a town with no cheer
Vic Rail decided the canteen was no longer necessary there
no spirits, no bilgewater and 80 dry locals
and the high noon sun beats a hundred and four
there's a hummingbird trapped in a closed down shoe store
This tiny Victorian rhubarb
kept the watering hole open for sixty five years.

Now it's boilin' in a miserable March twenty-first
wrapped the hills in a blanket of Patterson's curse
the train smokes down the xylophone
there'll be no stopping here
all ya can be is thirsty in a town with no cheer.

No Bourbon, no Branchwater,
though the townspeople here
fought the Vic Rail decree tooth and nail.

Now it's boilin' in a miserable March twenty-first
wrapped the hills in a blanket of Patterson's curse
the train smokes down the xylophone
there'll be no stopping here
all ya can be is thirsty in a town with no cheer

By Request: (Adullamite wanted to see the trains)