Archive for January, 2005

Silliness on the North Shore

Monday, January 31st, 2005

I gather that in Danvers, MA, one phone call is enough to call off a drag fashion show in a school.

This link may only work on Monday 31 January so be quick if you want silliness.

Swampscott, MA RC pastor resigns amid sex solicitation accusation

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

This is the next town over from where I was brought up. I suppose the guy must have had a few under his belt to have done this.

I see books being thrown at one priest, anyway. I would also hope that if a layperson did the same, he would be charged in the same way.

Priests shouldn’t be held to higher standards than laypeople are. If it’s wrong for a priest to do something, it should be wrong for a layperson to do it.

Saturday morning

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

I’ve had a very busy week, but most of it wasn’t at work. Tuesday was the announcement of the new Bishop of Woolwich, in Southwark Diocese. We’ve gone from having a Neanderthal Evangelical maniac to having a moderate Catholic. This is good. He’s also unmarried, which took a bit of courage to announce. In fact, they didn’t announce it–Stephen Bates, the only reporter at the press conference (the rest of us were diocesan functionaries and lay leaders) asked the question and it was promptly answered. Sources tell me that no whiff of scandal has been whiffed from him, so that’s OK too. There hasn’t, so far, been the firestorm that surrounded Jeffrey John’s nomination to Reading.

Tuesday night and Thursday night saw other diocesan meetings I had to attend, and Friday I had a lovely lunch with Steve, my chum from ImagoQA, who now runs his own company. I’ll be working for him as a contractor after my current job is made redundant at the end of February. I’ll probably be working at my current employer’s five days a month or a bit more getting their ISO9001 up to speed. Steve will be billing this. In return, I’ll be getting a look in at some other work he has on offer. So that’s helping my mental state. I wouldn’t mind a spell of time with little or no work, as HWMBO is working now (and has just gotten a raise), we have no debts and we have money in the bank. All to the good. I’ll also have my month’s notice money and my redundancy benefit (

Our day at the Tate

Monday, January 17th, 2005

I met at Tufnell Park station this morning for our day at the Tate. What a lovely day we had too. She’s just delightful to talk to–we had lots of things to say about Australian and UK politics, along with our fellow motsseurs and ljers.

I now know someone in Melbourne, Australia apart from my low-life ex-bf. HWMBO and I might even visit someday. assures me that Melbourne is a big place and chances of running into the ex are slim.

Those merry Windsors

Friday, January 14th, 2005

Well, according to the Sun here in the UK, the world is reeling at Prince Harry’s wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress (=costume) party. I, for one, am not surprised, nor am I shocked. While these boys are in the public eye, they are also (by common admission) not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. Inbreeding, plus moneyed upbringing, often produces thoughtless aristocrats.

I think there’s a wider question here: should costume shops actually be selling Nazi uniforms? If it’s wrong for him to wear one, it should equally be wrong for everyone else.

While I hold no brief for the Royal Family, carbuncles on the rump of Britain as they are, it’s unfair to castigate Harry alone for this–the only establishments that should be selling Nazi uniforms are those that supply theatrical and cinematic costumes for plays and films about the Nazi era. Other than that, let’s stick to fairies, sprites, cardinals, and other such merrier disguises.

Students these days

Friday, January 14th, 2005

If this is a real essay, I’ll eat my hat. However, it is hilarious and should be read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested by all.

Those darn Google webcams

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

Some of you may have read of the Google exploit were someone discovered lots of private webcams that were actually accessible over the net? Don’t want to plow your way through all that dreck? opentopia has made it easy with pages of thumbnails and ways to select your favourite country or just look at randomly selected cams. Try it now!

Today’s classicist URL

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

I think that only Jesuits might possibly qualify for jobs in this area.

Yes it is!…No it isn’t…

Friday, January 7th, 2005

Non-Brits will probably not be familiar with the peculiar British art form of panto (short for “pantomime”). In short, it’s a popular fairy-tale put on for children at Christmastime, but with lots of convention, slapstick and standup comedy, and the like. It you’re interested in learning more about it, go to this website and click on “History” and then on “Aladdin” to find out what I saw last night.

My friend Alex from Singapore is a gymnast. One feature of most pantomimes is a gymnastic routine leavened with some slapstick. As he was getting bored with his high-paying job arranging conferences, he quit and started work in panto (but will blossom into a fine actor at some point). His first panto was “Aladdin”, and he asked me to come see it to support him.

Besides the gymnasts, there are several other characters that are stock characters. There’s the Widow Twankey, who is part of the genre of “Panto Dames”. These are always played by men in a very camp manner. Think of Mrs. Slocombe and her pussy being played by a man and you’ve got it. There’s the compere, whose name in Aladdin is “Wishy-Washy” (as he is Widow Twankey’s son and she’s a laundress) and who does a bit of stand-up (surprisingly topical) as well as some slapstick. There’s the villain, there’s a genie (in Aladdin, anyway), there’s a Princess, and lots of other supporting cast members.

Panto is really something for children and bored parents. People who were not born or raised here don’t often connect with the conventions. There is a lot of audience participation (the villain shouting “Yes it is!” and the auudience yelling back “Oh no it isn’t!”, or shouting to the Widow Twankey “It’s behind you!” when someone is creeping up on him…er…her.) But I was rather dismayed when the computer booking turned up a seat in the front row. That’s just looking to be picked on by the actors.

A lot of the humour is toilet humour (bound to appeal to the 9-12 year old set), but some is fairly sophisticated. Anyway, I was sitting in the front row prepared to sit through this just as a cultural experience that would help me to understand what it is to be British. The compere’s first stand-up routine started off with a silly joke about Americans. He prefaced it with “Any Americans in the audience?” and I raised my hand but not very high. He didn’t see me. The joke went past, and he then wandered to my side of the stage, stage left. He was making a joke about ugliness, and he looked around (they can only see the first few rows from the stage) and pointed at me and said, “Yes, ugly, kind of like you.” I shot back straight away, “And I’m American too!” Of course he corpsed and when he’d recovered asked me why I hadn’t raised my hand. I said that I had–he just hadn’t seen it. He continued and I thought: “Good–he’s not going to bother me again.”

After the intermission, Alex’s partner and another friend joined me in the front row. The compere’s second turn came around, and he was with the Empress on stage talking about how lovers talk to each other. He was trying to teach her about it. So he went up to the edge of stage right and said some stuff to a girl over there, who giggled predictably. Then he said to the Empress, leading her stage left: “Now you try!” and he looked at me and pointed–“Talk to him.” So the Empress bent over and said to me: “You want some honey, honey? You want some sugar, sugar?”

At that moment I knew how Thomas Huxley felt when Soapy Sam Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, asked him (in a public debate in re evolution) whether he was descended from a monkey on his grandmother’s side or his grandfather’s side. Huxley turned to a friend and said, “God hath given him over into my hands.” and demolished Wilberforce’s arguments.

I looked her straight in the eye and said, as loud as I could, “I’m a diabetic.”

Instant “pantomonium”. They both broke up in laughter (as did the audience) and couldn’t go on for a few moments. Once they resumed, every couple of lines he’d point to me and say, “He’s a diabetic, you know.”

After the show we went backstage to collect Alex for the train back to London and met the compere and the actress playing the Empress. They were jolly good sports about it too.

I suppose I’ll have to go and see Alex in panto forever now…but I’ll try to sit in the back rows.

Movies You’ve Seen Questionnaire

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

Copy, paste – bold everything you’ve seen, tten add one not on the list that you’ve seen.
After todc after maltlick after kechingray after stealthpup

01. Trainspotting
02. Shrek
03. Memento
04. Dogma
05. Strictly Ballroom
06. The Princess Bride
07. Love Actually
08. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
09. The Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11. Reservoir Dogs
12. Desperado
13. Swordfish
14. Kill Bill Vol. 1
15. Donnie Darko
16. Spirited Away
17. Better Than Sex
18. Sleepy Hollow (presumably the Johnny Depp/Christina Ricci version)
19. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
20. The Eye
21. Requiem for a Dream
22. Dawn of the Dead (both versions)
23. The Pillow Book
24. The Italian Job
25. Goonies
26. BASEketball
27. Spice World (and I confessed! But only once — I have my standards)
28. Army of Darkness
29. The Color Purple
30. The Safety of Objects
31. Can’t Hardly Wait
32. Mystic Pizza
33. Finding Nemo
34. Monsters Inc.
35. Circle of Friends
36. Mary Poppins
37. The Bourne Identity
38. Forrest Gump
39. A Clockwork Orange
40. Kindergarten Cop
41. On The Line
42. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
43. Final Destination
44. Sorority Boys
45. Urban Legend
46. Cheaper by the Dozen
47. Fierce Creatures
48. Dude, Where’s My Car?
49. Ladyhawke
50. Ghostbusters
51. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
52. Back to the Future
53. An Affair To Remember
54. Somewhere In Time
55. North By Northwest
56. Moulin Rouge!
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
58. The Wizard of Oz
59. Zoolander
60. A Walk to Remember
61. Chicago
62. Vanilla Sky
63. The Sweetest Thing
64. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
65. The Nightmare Before Christmas
66. Chasing Amy
67. Edward Scissorhands
67. Battle Royale
68. Kill Bill Vol. 2
69. Fight Club
70. Clerks
71. The Crow
72. Get Real
73. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone
74. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
75. Wake
76. Silence of the Lambs
77. Pulp Fiction
78. The Crying Game
79. Amelie
80. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
81. Happy Campers
82. Velvet Goldmine
83. Elephant
84. Peter Pan
85. Camp
86. Particles of Truth
87. The Godfather
88. Big Fish
89. The Passion of the Christ
90. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
91. The Neverending Story
92. The Breakfast Club
93. Newsies
94. Princess Mononoke
95. The Prince of Egypt
96. Grease
97. The Hidden Fortress
98. Troy
99. It Happened One Night
100. Hackers
101. Dead Poets Society
102. Ghost Ship
103. The Wedding Banquet
104. The Red Violin
105. The Beach
106. The Women
107. Run Lola Run
108. The Quiet Man
109. X-Men
110. X-2
111. Spiderman
112. Punch Drunk Love
113. From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
114. Joe Vs. The Volcano
115. Meet Joe Black
116. Gregory’s Girl
117. In the Time of the Butterflies
118. The Butterfly Effect
119. Dirty Dancing
120. Final Destination 2
121. Rosemary’s Baby
122. Spider-Man 2
123. Practical Magic
124. A Shark Tale
125. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
126. Sweet Home Alabama
127. American Beauty
128. Rocky Horror Picture Show
129. American Psycho
130. American History X
131. The Forgotten
132. The Black Stallion
133. Secret Window
134. Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgandy
135. Cellular
136. Mallrats
137. Mulholland Drive
138. Seeing Double
139. Clueless
140. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
141. Huit Femmes
142. Dumb & Dumber
143. Overboard
144. Tommy Boy
145. Talk To Her
146. Party Monster
147. Taxi Driver
148. Jackie Brown
149. Gods and Monsters
150. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera
151. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
152. The Matrix
153. Doom Generation
154. Heathers
155. Sleepers
156. Gothic (Ken Russell)
157. 101 Rekjavik (Iceland)
158. Gandhi
159. The Salton Sea
160. Magnolia
161. Legend
162. Irreversible
163. Brazil
164. Party Girl
165. Duck Soup

I’m afraid that my education filmwise has been sorely neglected.

BBC web column on blogging

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

The BBC News website had an item on blogging at work. As luck would have it, I landed on Waiter Rant. Do have a look at the entry for December 28th. It’s a real hoot.

I rarely if ever mention anything about work in this place. First, because a lot of it nowadays is concerned with writing and collecting company procedures. Very dull to anyone who doesn’t work for my current employer. Second, everything else is very dull too. Perhaps when I’ve left I’ll remember something interesting and exciting and mention it. Otherwise, don’t worry, you’ve missed nothing.

In any case, it’s probably a good idea not to say much about one’s work on a blog, especially if you’re identifiable or the company is identifiable. Too many people have been dooced, which I understand means losing one’s job through an incautious entry about your work in your blog. I can’t figure out the etymology of dooce.

A notable centenary in 2005

Saturday, January 1st, 2005

One hundred years ago, in 1905, Albert Einstein published five acaemic papers. Two of them, one on photons and one on relativity, were momentous in their effects. The one on photons ensured that the ether was no longer necessary as a carrier for light to get from one place to the other. The other, of course, has led to countless discoveries and the immortal E=mc2 (imagine that “2” as a superscript, please). Oddly enough, the one on photons won him the Nobel Prize in 1921, not the one on relativity. Even the Nobel committee doesn’t get it right all the time.

It’s reminded me of one of the few clean limericks I know, and I offer it here as a New Year’s gift, if you like.

Three marvellous people named Stein:
There’s Gert, and there’s Ep, and there’s Ein.
Gert’s poems are punk,
Ep’s statues are junk,
And nobody understands Ein.

The limerick refers to three giants of the twentieth century: Gertrude Stein, Jacob Epstein, and Albert Einstein.

So, later on, raise another glass (perhaps a Virgin Mary with a raw egg to counteract the alcohol of last night, should you have indulged) to relativity.

And also remember this April 17th, the fiftieth anniversary of Einstein’s death and the abduction of his brain.