Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Outrageous Excuses 2017

Silly reasons for not voting, or voting Leave:

I’m voting Green to send the government a message.

I’m not voting because there’s no difference between Trump and Hillary.

I’m not voting for a politician ha ha.

Why isn’t there a “none of the above” option?

I’m not voting based on fear! (Current in the US 2016)

I'm not political.

They're all as bad as each other.

Here 'the Conservatives always get in', so any non-Con vote doesn't count.

It’s a sad day when you have to vote against people instead of voting for them.

I vote for the man, not the party. 

You can’t trust a politician.
Every vote is a vote for the kyriarchy.

I want to send them a message.

I’m going to leave my vote blank as a protest.

I’m going to spoil my voting paper to teach them a lesson.

Voting for someone who is the least worst is not my idea of change. (voteblankrevolution.com)

I refuse to vote until [insert condition here].

I’ve just had enough of everything.

Voting never changed anything.

I don't care, I hate them all.

Running the country is too important to be left to anyone who actually wants the job.

Well I voted Democrat last time and they didn’t get in so I’m not voting because I want my vote to count.

Racists who voted for Trump/Brexit “are suffering economic anxiety and we should sympathise with their legitimate concerns”. (Leavers and Hillary voters, on the other hand, are just a bunch of moaning minnies who should shut up now.)

Spoke to 2 leave voters in my week in Devon.

1: "I voted out but I didn't think they'd win"
2: "I just wanted out, don't really know why"
(Delicate Snowflake‏ @AndyBodle)

O/heard someone yesterday who voted leave because of "the damage done to the British sports car industry". (Sarah Shaw‏ @Dymvue)  

I voted leave because I go to the supermarket and the banana is straight.
 (Woman on Question Time She was going to vote Remain, but she saw a straight banana and decided she was sick of all the "silly rules they impose on us".)

When I was a young man in the '60s this country was a better place to live in, we had more things to do when we were teenagers.

Latest lame reason for not voting: Just saw someone saying they’re not voting because ‘voting gives legitimacy to politicians’. (Tom Hatfield ‏@WordMercenary)

I'm undecided because I don't know enough about it but I will be voting 'out'. (BBC News vox pop)

I voted against Brussels because I’m fed up with London.
I’m voting Brexit because I want house prices to come down.
I voted Brexit because I didn’t think my vote would count.
It's all smoke and mirrors.
I'm a Cornish fisherman.

Yes, honour killings, forced marriage, baby battering, child abuse, domestic abuse, FGM – they’re all against the law, oh yes, but you see it would be wrong to prosecute because children would have to testify against their parents, it would break up the family, children would see their parents go to prison, it’s a cultural issue, it’s colonial, it takes two to make a quarrel, [insert insane reason here].

Jallikattu (bull-running in Tamil Nadu) is necessary for the "survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls and preserving cultural traditions". BBC (It has just been re-legalised, Jan 2017.) See also “Hunting preserves the countryside”, “There’d be no coppices without hunting”, “Cattle and sheep would die out if we all became vegetarians”, “We should go on smoking cigarettes because the tobacco industry employs poor people”.

Silly reasons for not banning private fireworks:
I don’t like banning things.
It’s the people not the fireworks that cause the injuries (repeat with guns).
And there are 1001 reasons why we shouldn’t tax sugary drinks, and 1001 things we should do instead.

If you don't like banning things, you will be in favour of lifting the ban on:
Arsenic in wallpaper, arsenic in green paint, chimney sweeping by children, opium sold over the counter (and arsenic), flammable children’s nighties, naked-flame footlights, hunting, handguns (banned after Dunblane school shooting), keeping large exotic wild animals in your home, CFCs, smoking in pubs, tobacco adverts on the tube, alcohol adverts on the tube, tobacco adverts on the telly, people smoking on TV and in films, drinking and driving, not wearing seatbelts, bear baiting, hare coursing, badger baiting, cock fighting, bare knuckle boxing.

Explaining away:
Oh, ha ha, Facebook woman has just said people are only marching because victimhood is fashionable and also they want to get on TV. (Kate Long ‏@volewriter)

Thousands came to London for Diana's funeral because they "just wanted the attention".

Mariah Carey’s sound equipment was sabotaged at New Year “because they wanted a viral moment”.

Surely that ignorant sexist is just a parody account – nobody could be that stupid. The meninist who thought women menstruate through their bladders was an obvious hoax/joke/troll. (He seemed genuinely dense. “People have sent me hundreds of diagrams. I don’t know why they think I’d be interested. They say I should go to biology classes, but I can’t afford it!”)

Excuses, excuses:

Favourite excuse I have heard for being late: "Actually I was ten minutes early, so I went for a walk, and now I'm late." (Andrea Klettner‏ @aklettner)

What to say when you've overdone the filler: "I was allergic to it, I’m having it reversed.)

Conspiracy theorist who said Sandy Hook was a fake says he’s “Just a performance artist”.

Woman found with knife and cannabis claims she is “wearing ritual dress”.

I didn’t know I was a member of BNP. “It must have been one of those mindless mistakes you make when messing about on the computer.” On finding out his name and phone number were on a list of BNP members from 2008.

Settlements in the West Bank are an attempt to solve the housing crisis.

James O’Brien “felt sorry for Ronald Coyne [the Cambridge student who burned a £20 note in front of a homeless person] because the guy's life has effectively being ruined by one stupid, inconsequential, out-of-character, drunken act. Think of the worst thing you have ever done and imagine that it was recorded, broadcast and placed on social media to haunt you for the rest of your life instead of being left in the "best forgotten" corner of your memoirs.” And besides, his parents aren’t posh!

Debenhams claim the soaking of a homeless man by staff who then laughed at him was “an unfortunate accident”.

"That's not who I am" = the default excuse of the unrepentant. (Nancy Friedman ‏@Fritinancy)

That Farage “analcyst” typo was deliberate.

Dutch rapper says his “Jews like money” song is a compliment.

“You just cannot drive a Rolls-Royce in Beverly Hills anymore, because they have it in for you.” Zsa Zsa Gabor on being stopped for a traffic violation, being found with an open bottle of vodka in the car, and slapping a policeman.

Former billionaire who repeatedly called binman a 'black c**t' and a 'monkey' cleared after he said 'I didn't mean this in a racist way'.

"He's not a vicious dog." (He just BIT ME) "You startled him. (By walking quietly along a public footpath.) "He's never off the lead." (He was OFF THE LEAD.) "He's not a vicious dog." (He just RAN UP AND BIT ME.) (Kate Long ‏@volewriter)

“It was a moment of madness,” says doctor who stole a poster of Steve McQueen from a Belfast hotel.

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Limericks and Non-Limericks

I always run but never walk
I often murmur, never talk
I have a bed but never sleep
I have a mouth but never eat

In marble walls as white as milk
Lined with a skin as soft as silk
Within a fountain crystal clear
A golden apple doth appear
No walls there are to this stronghold
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold

If you're feeling cannelloni 
There's mostarda di Cremona 
Tell the one who zabaglione 
That I can be sfogliatelle

Tell him life is all farfalle
Pomodori, papardelle
Da mi vostri ditalini
Swear eternal fedelini

Everything will be just fine
With Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.
We will not vote, but we'll still pay
Our future's in the EEA.
(Celestial Weasel)

Our Father who art in Hendon
Harrow Road be thy name
thy Kingston come, thy Wimbledon
In Erith as it is in Hendon
give us this day our Berkhamsted
And forgive us our Westminsters
As we forgive those who Westminster against us
Lead us not into Temple Station
But deliver us from Ealing
For thine is the Kingston
The Purley and the Crawley
For Iver and Iver, Crouch End.

They might be small and simple,
They might not do a lot,
Just sitting shifting plankton
In some gloomy benthic spot,
But you can’t beat Nature’s logic –
She’ll always play the ace,
Cos for guts and arms in boxes
She’s found the ideal place.
For when you think about it,
Where better could they be
Than stuck to bits of scallop
At the bottom of the sea?

Few thought him even a starter –
There were many who thought themselves smarter,
But he ended PM,
CH and OM,
An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.

A little old lady, Miss Brine
Accepted an invite to dine
They gave her a meal
Of fish-skin and peel
And omitted to pass her the wine.

From here you can glimpse her downstream, her far charm,
Liberty, tiny woman in the mist –
You cannot see the torch – raising her arm
Lorn, bold, as if saluting with her fist.
(Thom Gunn)

Dear Abby, I thought I would write
To confess. Please consider my plight:
I had sex with my ex;
We were drunk—it's complex.
Please advise. Signed, Chagrined and Contrite.
(Jane Auerbach)

...Thy round towers are crumbling away ;
Proud castles sink fast in decay ;  
The palace is gone,
And where beauty shone,
Remains a lone hillock of clay.
(Irish patriot Dr TCS Corry)

You can’t remember which is which
Or where you put the one you need
Or else you’ve left the thing at home
Chargers really are a bitch.

EmphasisHe's stealthily pernicious,
But I'll know 'him when I see 'im.
That miscreant who furnishes,
Defective linoleum.

She never lived in stasis,
She was prone to prance and babble,
And always the emphasis
Was on the wrong syllable.

In Hampshire a UKIP contender,
Whose chances were anyway slender,
Was given the boot
For saying he'd shoot
The Tory incumbent defender.
(Mick Twister ‏@twitmericks)

Of parties there used to be two.
Now what's a poor voter to do?
It's so hard to select
Which is best to elect –
I don't really trust any, do you?

The world is all nonsense and noise
Fantoccini, or Ombres Chinoises
Mere pantomime mummery
Puppet-show flummery
A magical lantern, confounding the sight

Like players or puppets, we move
On the wires of ambition and love
Poets write wittily,
Maidens look prettily,
'Till death drops the curtain—all's over—good night!"
(Pierce Egan)

There once was a sculptor named Phidias
Whose manners in art were invidious
He carved Aphrodite
Without any nightie,
Which startled the ultrafastidious.

The deadly bubonic disease
Was carried to Europe by fleas
From gerbils, not rats,
According to stats
Collected from rings on old trees.
(Mick Twister ‏@twitmericks)

Him as takes what is’n his’n
Must give it back, or go to prison.

In pursuit of the utmost frivolity,
A poet with excess of jollity,
Wrote down, with eyes shielded,
Some words which then yielded
A haiku of questionable quality. 

I tried to write one.
It didn't have enough lines.
Not a Limerick.

Said a bridge player splattered with gore
looking down at the corpse on the floor:
‘De mortuis nil
nisi bonum – but still,
he’s been caught out revoking before.’
(Via Katharine Whitehorn)

There was a commuter from Ewell,
Who feeling in need of renewal,
Commuted, poor sinner,
from Ewell to Pinner,
How fate is vindictively cruel!

Twinkle twinkle, small 5p
How I wonder why you be.
How I loathe thee 5p-piece—
How I dream of thy decease!
Fiddly, fumbly, far too small,
Through my fingers apt to fall.
(Lucy Fishwife/Chris Maslanka)

When falling through an atmosphere
You don't keep getting faster,
Eventually you reach a speed
Where friction is the master.

My vacuum has a healthy roar,
and it's 1200W.
I use it for the kitchen floor,
and hard-to-get-at spots.

I think that I shall never see
A thing as lovely as a tree
I think, unless the billboards fall,
I shall not see a tree at all.
(Ogden Nash)

When they beat your door down
And drag you away to an unknown fate,
That's the time to start complaining
About a Police State.

Some men make gods of red and blue
to rob our Saviour of this due.
The good shall go to heaven, the fell
Blasts of thy wrath shall send to hell.
(Thomas Babington Macaulay aged six and a half)

If I were Fortune - which I'm not -
B should enjoy A's happy lot,
And A should die in miserie -
That is, assuming I am B.
(via TI)

The rain it raineth all around
Upon the just and unjust fella,
But more upon the just because
The unjust has the just’s umbrella.

After the rise, the fall
After the boom, the slump.
You dance with the Prince at the ball
Then come down to earth with a bump.

Conspiracy Fruitcake (recipe)
Half a dozen nuts (assorted)
Three or more matching dates
Currants of suspicion and paranoia
Mix well. Half-bake, and decorate attractively.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
Till peasants learn to read and write
And build a welfare state.
(via RG)

These shades are 'designer',
it says so on the sign
Where I got them in that Shell garage,
For three ninety-nine.
(Alan McGinn ‏@Chainsaw_McGinn)

What is matter?
Never mind.
What is mind?
No matter.

Thus Departed Derek
Derek lives in Newbold Verdon,
Separate from Kirby Muxloe
By a stretch of open country.
If you go past Newbold Verdon
You will meet a lot of nothing
Till you get to Market Bosworth, or
Maybe miles and miles of suburbs 
Blessed with not a single chip shop.

“Open? Desford is between us.
If you’re looking for a chippy
You should go to Newbold, Desford
Barwell, Ibstock, Hinckley, Groby,”
Signed, your humble servant, Derek.

And the Kirby-Desford bus route
Also goes through Newtown Unthank.
Thought I ought to add that – Derek.
(Sadly Derek now has left us.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Reasons to Be Cheerful 19

Rose Heilbron

The Liberal Project continues, despite the efforts of the Far Right to unravel it. There are still some reasons to be cheerful. There’s a natural hair movement in Africa and beyond, only about 40 years after the last one. And we don’t lock up “mental defectives” for decades any more. (Some were released in the 70s after 30 years inside.) Tail docking and ear cropping in dogs are now banned in much of Europe and Australia. But not in North America, and many Americans think that’s what the dogs look like. Forty years ago women become pilots. (It had been suggested that periods would make them unreliable.)

And this doesn’t happen any more: When I started work in 70s, the old-timers still talked bitterly of 'gentleman's hours', when the toffs had swanned in & out as they pleased. (@PaulGibbens1)

In France, the 1920 Birth Law... criminalised dissemination of birth-control literature. That law, however, was annulled in 1967 by the Neuwirth Law, thus authorising contraception, which was followed in 1975 with the Veil Law. Women fought for reproductive rights and they helped end the nation's ban on birth control in 1965. In 1994, 5% of French women aged 20 to 49 who were at risk of unintended pregnancy did not use contraception... Contraception in the Republic of Ireland was illegal in the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) from 1935 until 1980, when it was legalised with restrictions, later loosened. In Italy women gained the right to access birth control information in 1970. (Wikipedia)

Record numbers of young people now have the chance to attend university; rates of crime, teenage pregnancy, and divorce are at 40 year lows. Even inequality, while a legitimate concern, has not increased dramatically since the mid 1990s. (Spectator)

1215 Trial by jury supersedes trial by ordeal in England.

1803 Toilet rolls invented.

1962 Elizabeth Lane appointed first female judge in the County Court.
1965 Elizabeth Lane appointed first female judge in the High Court.
1972 Rose Heilbron appointed first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey.

1982 France decriminalises homosexuality.

1986 Public Order Act makes it an offence to publish or distribute written material which may stir up racial hatred.

2016 The Church of England Synod votes to allow clergy to ditch the robes.

2016 A Parliamentary report says that firms can not impose a dress code on employees (short skirts, high heels).

Mar 2017 Beauty and the Beast to be shown in full in Malaysia after censors back down (the live-action film features a gay character).

2017 First woman in 1,000 years becomes full member of St Pauls Cathedral choir.

Feb 2017 Gohil, prince of Rajpipla, Gujarat, calls for homosexuality to be decriminalised in India.

2017 UK deaths on the road have halved in the last 15 years.

2017 From April, large firms must publish pay gap figures.

2017 Jan UK government pardons thousands of gay men for decades-old “offences”.

2017 FGM banned in Nigeria.

2017 Feb 24 Same-sex marriage legalised in Slovenia

2017 Men in Sheds (run by the U3A) goes unisex (The carpentry co-ops were set up to combat male loneliness and depression.)

2017 Irish Sexual Offences Bill stops the accused from cross-examining victims of sexual offences.

2017 Botox accepted as a migraine treatment in Scotland.

2017 Lloyd’s of London bans 9-5 drinking for employees.

2017 March Muirfield Golf Club says it will admit women.

Less than cheerful

The gender pay gap in the UK is narrowing – but not in the Civil Service.

1919-1971 yearly renewal of 1919 Aliens Act. German & Jewish workers post-WW1 the ones to blame in parliament for any UK 'decline'. Lab&Tory. (Mister Neil Kulkarni ‏@KaptainKulk)

Germany doesn't have marriage equality, you can't get an abortion after three months or without mandatory counselling.

Dissolution of monasteries robbed the poor of social security and health service. Not addressed until the 1601 Poor Law.

1876 A woman blacksmith is taken to court for “wearing men’s apparel”.

1945-74 British children sent abroad to abusive “homes”.

1967 London Stock Exchange voted against women brokers.

2012 Squatting becomes illegal.

2017 At the behest of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russia has legalised domestic violence. (So that parents can “discipline” their children. And wives can be beaten once a year. In Russia, a woman dies of domestic abuse every 40 minutes.)

2017 The Republic of Ireland's Sexual Offences Bill criminalises the purchase of sex.

2017, 29 March EU President Donald Tusk receives the UK's letter triggering Article 50.

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Literary Clichés 3

Hard to read on the bus

Taking Detective Stories Seriously: The Collected Crime Reviews of Dorothy L. Sayers, introduction by Martin Edwards

If you are a Golden Age mystery fan, this is a lovely read. Sayers reviewed two to four books a week in the 30s – that’s how many of the genre were being churned out.

Thank heavens for recent reprints – but in many minds the greats and the Queens are the only Golden Age mystery writers. The accusations of snobbery, clichés, formula, anti-Semitism and cardboard characters that stick to Christie and others must have originally been aimed at a pantheon ranging from H.C. Bailey to E.R. Punshon.

It's also clear that the greats were deliberately writing in a genre that abounded in stock characters and stock situations. Someone should do a Golden Age TV Tropes, but meanwhile let Sayers be your guide.

It was “one of those embarrassing house parties” where a recent widow invites “all the mutually suspect and hostile persons” present at her husband’s death.

In another household “A nurse arrives... to look after a man who has been murderously assaulted. A grim-looking individual lurks in the drawing-room... An old mad-woman in antique costume calls the cook a creature of Satan... A face peers through the rain-streaked window.” It can only get better, with an armed butler, shots, a fainting woman, hypodermic-tampering, and then “two detectives burst in with a bedraggled prisoner”. And it’s only chapter three.

In Death Fugue, “We have the well-worn opening of the belated traveller and the lonely house with a corpse in it. An organ plays mysteriously...”

“The evil Egyptian with a formula for exterminating mankind, the idiotic female who lets herself be lured away by the bogus policeman, the languid villain who keeps tame cobras... and the final appearance (by aeroplane) of the whole cast on a lonely island.” All appear in F.A.M. Webster’s Gathering Storm.

“A mystical, Celtic-twilight sort of gang, with a pre-Druidical religion, blood-sacrifices, hypnotic powers... caves, secret passages, revolving bookcases, rats” populate Death by the Mistletoe by Angus MacVicar.

The Ince Murder Case is written entirely in clichés.... Vision of feminine loveliness – finely chiselled features – some subtle sixth sense – surging mass of humanity – workings of a malign fate”. And everybody has a “white, set face”.

“Anybody who talks sentimentally to dogs or was anybody’s batman in the war” can be trusted, but not “anybody who behaves haughtily to an attached old Scottish retainer.” (Murder on the Moors by Colin Campbell.)

More tropes: missing wills, lost heirs, a “seedy adventurer who masquerades as a parson”, murder victims who leave cryptic clues, actors who are shot on-stage mid-performance, the least likely person dunnit, the amateur detective who insults everybody, good and evil twins with substitution a la The Scapegoat, the body in the library, the shabby provincial waxworks. But we shouldn’t forget that the greats frequently sent up these conventions.

Too many authors fall back on “the stilted style of the 90s”, with sentences that start “Small wonder is it that...”. And it is hard to tell, at this distance, whether this is supposed to be parody. Sayers is hard on polysyllables and over-writing (“Horror and anxiety twisted like heraldic snakes round his heart.”), but her sense of humour is not always reliable. She loves Mr Rosenbaum, a character in Victor MacClure’s Death on the Set who talks like this: “Ere’s Mr Morden gone and bin moidid!”, also a nautical character who tells stories in a Dutch accent while passengers in John Dickson Carr’s The Blind Barber drink a lot and indulge in “hilarious horseplay”.

“To combine the novel of mystery with the novel of manners was the great achievement of English writers in the past...”, and we wish they’d take it up again. Sayers is perceptive guide to the fads of her times, taking in spiritualism, glands, and even 12-tone music. The catchily titled Obelists en Route by C. Daly King includes two rival psychologists, one of the “purposive” school and one a “gestaltist”. Another example features a fascist movement known as the Purple Shirts (They aim to “Make Britain Free”.)

This is a fascinating book on many counts, and if you’re stuck for plot, characters or incident, it might provide inspiration. Its only drawback is its size and weight: 16cm by 23cm; printed on thick, heavy paper; in large type with generous leading. And the paper cover is smooth and slippery, which doesn't make it easier to hold.

Dear publishers: if the Penguin paperback format was good enough for Sayers... For comparison, I’ve used William Donaldson’s Great Disasters of the Stage (Simon Brett must have a copy). It’s 18cm by 11cm, printed on poor-quality paper, in small type and close leading, but it’s readable and I can easily hold it in one hand. I can even slip it in my handbag. Dear, dear publishers, remember that some of your readers are little old ladies with arthritis, who like to read on the bus or train.

More here, and links to the rest.

Bring back proper paperbacks

Friday, 17 March 2017

Misunderstandings 5

"Pitch perfect" became "picture perfect" became "picture postcard perfect" due to confusion with "picture postcard village". If your singing is "pitch perfect", it's perfectly in tune.

It’s like the paediatrician being beaten up because he was he was mistaken for a paedophile. (Angus Jackson, RSC director Mar 2017 quoted in Times. The female paediatrician had "paedo" scrawled on her house has become an urban legend. The BBC has the details.)

hairy shirts for hair shirts (The penitential shirts, woven out of goat hair, were itchy and hot. You wore luxurious clothes over the top and hid your suffering.)

Like the druid and bardic movements in Wales, a few proselytising enthusiasts became the bottomless butt of jokes for the metropolitan masses. (AA Gill on Morris dancing. The “butt” in “butt of jokes” isn’t the one in “butt of Malmsey” – a cask; it’s a butt as in Newington Butts – a target for archery.)

Tenterhooks are still holding people aloft, whose breath remains baited. (Tenterhooks stretched cloth on a frame, didn’t hold things aloft.)

The British colonial army in India, whose favourite laxative was a spoonful of gunpowder in a cuppa ‘ot tea. (Florence King, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting? (Is she thinking of gunpowder tea – dried green tea rolled into pellets? Saltpeter – gunpowder’s active ingredient – was used medicinally in the 18th century for asthma and arthritis, but it is toxic and of no medical use. Soldiers used to pass round the story that the army was dosing their tea with saltpetre to dull their libidos.)

Rurophilia crops up in the strangest places... including murder trials. The psychiatrist who testified for the Crown in the trial of mass murderer John Reginald Christie described the defendant contemptuously as “an insignificant, old-womanish city man”. (Florence King, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting? Surely he called Christie a “City man” – someone who works in the City, London’s financial district? Christie had worked as a clerk in a radio factory, and for the Post Office Savings Bank.)

What a busy week for trolls typing away in their parents' box bedrooms. (Carol Midgley Box rooms are not rooms with a box bed or boxlike bedrooms – they are very small rooms intended for the family’s “boxes”, or trunks and suitcases. When a servant left she took her “box” containing all her belongings with her. They could only be carried by two men or strong women, but there were porters with trolleys at railway stations, and men and boys who hung about the streets offering to carry heavy stuff, load and unload carts etc for a few pennies. We have shoulder bags and pull-alongs now, but tiny boxrooms remain, and some have been turned into bedrooms.)

Infantile sectarian anarchist throwing windmills with nothing useful to say. (Does this tweeter think “tilting at windmills” means “chucking windmills about”? Don Quixote "tilted at" some windmills, thinking they were giants – he rode at them with a lance, like someone jousting in a tiltyard.)

Fiona Bruce thinks Edinburgh was called “Auld Reekie” because it suffered from “a particularly smelly smog”. It just means “Old Smokey” in the local dialect.

Africans sleep with their heads on uncomfortable wooden “pillows” or neck rests. (They’re stools.)

Gone was the palatial edifice of the Euston and Victoria hotels that looked like they'd been carved from sugarloaf. (londonist.com Baroque and post-baroque architecture is often called “icing sugar architecture” because it looks like a wedding cake covered in piped swirls and filigree.)

A Julian Fellowes’ heroine “has a 'cut-glass set' to her mouth.” (Explained here.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Received Ideas in Quotes 4

Wild hogs: Journalist Henry Mayhew recorded one of the most remarkable bits of folklore common among the toshers: that a “race of wild hogs” inhabited the sewers under Hampstead... These black swine “have become almost as ferocious as they are numerous”. (Smithsonian Magazine Toshers were men who made a living fishing in London’s sewers for coins, rope, metal or anything they could sell.)

Noah Webster was vehemently anti-British, and went out of his way to use as many variant spellings as possible. (MML Webster was a spelling reformer.)

The Myth of the US Immigration Crisis: The country doesn’t have a wave of undocumented workers. That ended a decade ago. (Bloomberg.com)

And that music they all listen to is just noise and you can't tell if they're boys or girls half the time here's my invoice. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

European culture, in contrast to crass American and Soviet materialism, was idealist and anti-materialist, defined especially by literature and the arts. (qz.com)

Head-itching fact of the day: in the immediate post-war years René Magritte supported himself painting fake Picassos, Braques, de Chiricos. (Hamish Thompson ‏@HamishMThompson)

Housing minister says first-time buyers should rely on inheritance from their grandparents. (Independent)
This reminds me of that thing about cake that Marie Antoinette famously never said. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

The Cat and the FiddleOrigin theories abound, linking this nonsense poem to everything from Hathor worship, to the naming of constellations (Taurus, Canis minor etc), or even the annual flooding of the Nile. Some have argued that it describes priests urging the working poor to work even harder. (folklorethursday.com)

It was the duty of the god-parent to buy their god-child a pair of boots/shoes on the child's birthday, so that should the child's parents die by any and various means, then the child would be able to walk the distance to the god-parent's house. (Guardian commenter)

The caged birds [in Goya’s The Red Boy] may symbolize the soul, the cats may be an evil force. (Wikipedia)
It is said that Michelangelo included a concealed human brain on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. (MJ)

Modern society is going through a transition from the old mythologies and traditions to a new way of thinking where a global mythology will emerge. (Joseph Campbell, Wikipedia paraphrase)

Sylvia Sim was more famous than “Dickie”. While Attenborough was portrayed in the media as the “ultimate luvvie”, liable to weep at any time in public and especially in homage to fellow thespians, Sim escaped parody. (A Times obituary of Sylvia Sim, Lady Attenborough, drags in clichés about her husband, making a tenuous connection to Sim herself. Why mention them, unless the Times just wants to get in another dig at “luvvies” who have a nasty habit of caring about other people and voting Labour?)

Prince Charles never leaves home without his white leather loo seat, a Christmas present from his sister... Other packing essentials include a silver-plated porcupine-quill toothpick, a small red-and-gold cushion for his bad back, and solid-gold collar stiffeners, all stowed in his Louis Vuitton monogrammed luggage with a selection of 60 suits by tailors Anderson & Sheppard costing £3,000 a pop, and more than 200 handmade Turnball & Asser shirts at £350 each. ... A fussy eater, he likes vegetables steamed in a particular mineral water, and takes tea between 4pm and 5pm: muffins with boiled eggs - the chef boils seven eggs at a time to ensure at least one is perfect. (Condé Nast Traveller It was three boiled eggs last time. And it’s TurnBULL and Asser.)

Relativity, quantum physics, string theory etc etc have restored doubt, mystery and humility to the quest for knowledge and understanding - or at least that should be the effect. (DT)

Scientism is notorious for being its own echo chamber and having names for keeping other opinions out, like “peer review”. It’s just another #FakeReligion filled with fanatic zealots. (via Twitter)

The true meaning of Christmas is being drowned out by materialism.
(Pope Francis)

Unlike some others, Van Mildert college at Durham University was trivial to navigate, and very pleasant, centring around a lake that was rumoured to have been intended as a car park that flooded. (AG)

Why is it that Labour is often said to have a 'soul', over which there is always a 'battle'? It's never struck me as anything but weird. (‏@PolProfSteve Steven Fielding)

In the 17th Century Coffee houses sprung up around the City and were places of debate, gossip, business and promotion. It’s also worth bearing in mind that before then, people were mainly drinking weak beer all day (which was far safer than disease-ridden water) so it was basically the first time anyone was having fully sober discussions! ... A tradition developed whereby ships were sold ‘by the candle’ which meant it was an auction governed by the time it takes for a candle to melt. The final sale was confirmed when a pin (stuck into the candle wax before melting) dropped in front of the eager crowd; hence the phrase “You could’ve heard a pin drop”! (lookup.london)

Boxing DaySamuel Pepys talks about the 26th as 'Boxing Day' because the wealthy would give their servants the day off, sent home with a box of treats. (Dan Snow ‏@thehistoryguy)

In the days of rich gentry in England, they would go visiting each others' mansions for weeks at a time, living off their hosts. At the end of the visit they would leave some money in a large wooden box near the front entrance. Every year on Dec 26th, the servants would open the box and split the money. You know this if you read a lot of Jane Austen. (MC)

The residents of the manor would bring food and small gifts to their tenants. (EB)
It's the day you gift your servants with a "Christmas box" and switch places with them for the day. (AS)

(Another says job-switching happened in the Army. According to former nurse Monica Dickens, doctors and surgeons served patients and nurses their Christmas lunch – and carved the turkey. A "Christmas box" was a tip given to regular tradespeople who called at your door - bringing mail, bread, milk, coal, groceries and collecting trash. If the tip wasn't big enough, coal or trash would be accidentally spilled on your path or doorstep.)

Sense and SenilityIn Sense and Senility, an episode of Blackadder, two old actors demonstrate what to do if anyone quotes from the “Scottish play” (Macbeth) or whistles in a dressing room. You face each other and chant:
Hot potato
Orchestra stalls
Puck will make amends – ow!

"Ow" because the ritual ends with pinching the other’s nose. This has become Chinese whispered to:

Pluck to make amends!

Obvious, they’re plucking each other’s noses, aren’t they? No, it’s from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, which ends with the character Puck, aka Robin Goodfellow, promising “And Robin will restore amends!”. (Footnote: “Orchestra stalls” is rhyming slang.)

Or, per Sir Tony Robinson,

Hot potato, take off his drawers, pluck to make amends!

Some suggest that the BBC subtitles/Ceefax were misleading. But didn’t Sir Tony have the script? Or perhaps he didn’t read scenes he wasn’t in. Meow!

The curse of Macbeth, which forbids actors to name the play, only goes back to the late 19th C, & Max Beerbohm. (historian Tom Holland)

Rich Beggars

Street beggars are making "up to £200 a day" on the streets of Yeovil, according to a South Somerset District Councillor. (somersetlive.co.uk Local homeless pregnant woman says more like £2.)

A lot of people have tried to tell me that the homeless people by our shop "aren't really homeless, they're just pretending to get money". (Dee Dee ‏@deedeelea “Tramps choose their way of life” has become “Homeless people don’t want to be housed, they prefer to be free”.)

“That ‘homeless’ woman outside Tescos is dropped off every morning by a Mercedes!” (In this urban legend, the car is always named. But if you were a Fagin running a begging ring, would you risk one of your operatives being seen getting out of a car as conspicuously expensive as a Mercedes? Every morning?)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Self-referential Statements 3

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary used his first senior staff meeting last month to tell his new aides he would not tolerate leaks to the news media, sources familiar with the matter said.

I don't understand anyone who doesn't have empathy. (Wu Ming ‏@twlldun)

The excessive use of hyperbole in modern media is the worst thing to ever happen to humanity. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

I'm the most hyperbolic person in the world. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

People who don't know the difference between describing cultural norms and generalizing people are so tiresome. (Brienne of Snarth ‏@femme_esq)

I long for the days when nostalgia wasn't so culturally omnipresent. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Latinisms became trendy in Eng with Augustine (eg as a modus operandi which adds gravitas passim to 1's magnum opus, inter alia pace Orwell) (Byzantine Ambassador ‏@byzantinepower)

Tweeting from new age aggressor can be summed up as "thickoes like you just do ad hominem attacks, which disgusts me, you idiot". (@robinince)

I can't stand people who don't finish their (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Short words are good and old words are best. (Winston Churchill)

Free speech trumps feeling offended.
So you say, you pigeon-toed, fungus-faced lusus naturae!

Reification. Is that, like, a thing? (Sam Leith ‏@questingvole)

BBC sees the Hollande affair as carte blanche to use every passé French cliché and démodé bon mot, en masse in one montage. (‏Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

I didn't know what Stockholm syndrome was but the man in the balaclava who broke into my house was kind enough to explain. (@blmayne)

There aren't enough revivals these days. Bring them back! I say. (Dave Roberts ‏@DLequeu)

One day I'll figure out what 'autodidact' means. (@MikeHypercube)

BBC1 news on its veil non-story tonight: "There's growing concern that this is being blown out of proportion." (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon)

Recently a friend told me that my public persona in general was a bit "negative". Of course, that's bullshit. Like everything else. (@stevenpoole)

Don’t talk to me about freedom of speech! (@RogerQuimbly)

A false analogy is like a cream cake. (AG)

People overuse hyperbole a million times a day. (@PetrosofSparta)

I absolutely ADORE understatement! (Private Eye)

"I prefer to eschew obscurantism" it says here. I'm not sure you're trying hard enough. (sumit paul-choudhury ‏@sumit)

Scotland independence vote would be 'divisive': Downing St. (@AFP)

There are two things I don’t like, prejudice against other cultures, and Dutch people. 

We do not stock this product you are asking for because there is no demand for it.

This message has no subject.
I’m speechless.
I’m not being defensive!
I’m not going to dignify that with a reply!
We just shouldn’t mention trolls!
You make your own luck.
There are no absolute truths.
All generalisations are false.
Metaphors are a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.
The statement on the other side of this card is false.

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Illogical 3

Ouija boards (Surely "oui-non" boards?)

Whales have breeding grounds and feeding grounds. (They live in the sea.)

It’s always in the last place you look!

I could care less.

set in stone (You set things in concrete, you carve them in stone.)

Temperatures approached 30C. (Temperatures reached 28C.)

PM makes 360deg rotation on cigarette packaging. (You mean 180 degree – 360 degrees takes you back to where you started.)

The total mileage stands at about 4000km.

priceless (There's a price and it's very very high.)

an empty bottle of brandy (an empty brandy bottle)

Uprooting themselves and moving to the other side of the world would be the toughest decision they’d ever have to make. (It would be the toughest thing they’d ever have to do, if they decided to do it.)

"The time is rapidly approaching..." No, it's not. Time passes at the same pace. (@franosch)
Except at the edge of a black hole. (@FastMacsTweet)

including the likes of X, Y and Z (You mean including X, Y and Z, not people like them.)

flammable and inflammable (Both mean "likely to catch fire".)
boned and deboned (Both mean "with the bones removed".)

There's more than one consensus. (Brexiteer)

Ken should fall on his sword and walk. (Andrew Dismore)

15 photos that will convince you that Iceland belongs on another planet.

I think she wore some disguise – such as one of her trademark silk scarves – while driving, so that she would not be recognised. (Queen’s dog trainer Roger Mugford)

I'm undecided because I don't know enough about it but I will be voting 'out'. (BBC News vox pop Perhaps she thinks “undecided” means “ill-informed”.)

We don't cater gay weddings. We serve everyone.

If he was alive today he’d turn in his grave.

Surely your enemy's enemy is, er, you? (@lucyfishwife)

Gold standard dross. (Dross is what’s left over after gold is refined.)

This very comfortable 'hideaway' is located in a sunny 'undiscovered' quiet Mews... (Well, somebody must have discovered it – no point hiding there now.)

Norwich: twinned with Rouen, Koblenz and Novi Sad.

Painted in loose bravura sweeps like the modernism Goya presages. (Laura Cumming, Observer 2015-10-11 And many other examples. He wasn't ahead of his time, we are behind his.)

Fillet of a fenny snake/In the cauldron boil and bake. (Boil and bake? Make up your mind! And you can't bake anything in a cauldron.)

People should produce, instead of passively consuming! (Who will consume their products?)

Indian giver (It was the British who gave and then took back from the Native Americans.)

2001 was groundbreaking, wasn’t it? Yes – at the time! (BBC Breakfast)

Chinese house prices are shrinking. (The market is shrinking as the numbers fall.)

He is one of the only thespians on the planet who possesses a Ph.D. yahoo news (One of the few.)

Gays have enough equality! (Said some bishop.)
It would right an equality imbalance. (The BBC on women in the theatre. Equality would mean 50% men, 50% women.)

Professionally pedicured feet at your fingertips! (TV ad)

three-week anniversary

You rush to the door, frozen in horror.

You could hear a pin drop! (You can only hear a pin land.)

Marketing bull that irritates me "An almost infinite number of possibilities". So not infinite in any way at all, but entirely finite. Grrr! (Brian Lawton ‏@MrBLawton)

build the deep levels of stamina (You build up, dig deep.)

How can there be self-help groups? (LC)

We’d like to introduce our children to a global world. (Head teacher on BBC Breakfast. Unless you teach them that it's flat...)

Next we'll be hearing about how the average Homo Erectus IQ was 150. (Web discussion about Neanderthals – don’t go there.)

fully lined, fully fashioned, fully licensed

It's come to the point where its now almost impossible to turn the clock back. (Eric Pickles, 2013-01-25)

The future is already here.

I pay someone to come and do my DIY for me. (Nick Knowles)

If our lives are more "fast-paced" than ever before, we should have more free time, not less?

deceptively spacious (more spacious than it appears at first sight), deceptively deep (deeper than expected – ie deceptively shallow)

You really need to think about reinstalling some original features. (Lucy Alexander on Homes under the Hammer, June 2012)

The experiment has failed! (It didn’t produce the results we wanted.)

World records won’t be broken, they’ll be shattered into a million pieces. (You can’t do more to a world record than break it.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Political Euphemisms (in Quotes) 3

Dear attention-hungry journos: your Hot Take on #WomensMarch, translated, is 'I don't like ordinary people expressing an opinion in public'. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

Why do tories have "safe pair of hands" and "grown up" narratives as default? (McDuff ‏@Mc_Heckin_Duff)
Every time I hear a Tory say we need a "grown-up" NHS debate I know they really mean "private health care". (@Rachael_Swindon)

@RealDonaldTrump needs to purge Leftists from executive branch before disloyal, illegal & treasonist acts sink us. (Steve King @SteveKingIA)
Some people have been waiting years for their big chance to speak fluent fascist. (@Dorianlynskey)

You just know when Brexiteers say "commonwealth" they are itching to say "empire". (Sathnam Sanghera‏ @Sathnam)

Creeping emasculation (Piers Morgan): He mens women have more rights, there are more women in public life, women organize marches, men feel their position at the top of the tree wobbling slightly.

Libertarians fight for freedom. Freedom to kick minorities out of your store, to not accommodate the disabled, to not pay living wages, etc. (Existential Comics ‏@existentialcoms)

I love how everything that isn't troglodytic dog whistle bigotry is automatically "rabidly left wing". (@AlexPaknadel 28 Jul 2016)

"Don't want to get into politics" = "The current system has worked really well for me so please don't ask me to examine it critically". (Greg Wilson @gvwilson)

Lisa Nandy says we should stop “picking sides” in strikes. She means “We shouldn’t side with the strikers”.

Trump’s “terror attacks go unreported” is morphing into “the reports weren’t alarmist enough”. (Feb 2017)

The government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are a smokescreen for a massive programme of hospital and community service closures, and are its latest instrument for privatisation. (Unite)

Shami Chakrabarti is one of the most self-righteous, least likeable political figures on the scene. Sums up Labour 2017. (@Michael_Heaver She’s a socialist, she’s a woman, and she’s black.)

From Ad Sinistram:
spiv: entrepreneur
talking bollocks: thinking outside the box
unemployed: scrounger
public sector worker: scrounger
European: foreign scrounger
bigotry: mainstream political thought
scientific consensus: anti-business scaremongering
endangered species: vermin
right wing: moderate
moderate: communist
left wing: communist traitor
local opposition: nimbyism
safety regulations, environmental protection, employment law: red tape
greedy bastard: wealth creator

From Paris Lees:
Style Guide for 2016
Neo Nazis: Alt Right
Propaganda: Fake News
Civil rights: Identity Politics
Decency: Political correctness
Abuse: Free speech

These Hollywood elites wouldn’t know average, every day hard-working Americans if we bit them in the ass. @TomiLahren (I think this means “You just don’t understand that racism is necessary”.)

I only went into politics because politicians have made a mess of things. (Barbara Fielding, 78, Stoke independent candidate. She means: Politicians have failed to rid the country of brown people and Jews, who by the way run the world. And we were on the wrong side in the War. It's all on her website.)

Political dictionary: "outsider" = bigot; "elite" = any person opposed to bigotry who isn't so poor they live in an actual ditch. (‏@johnb78)

Dear @BBCr4today - Please, please start saying like it is! Bannon is a *white supremacist*. 'Right-wing firebrand' simply doesn't cut it. (Katy Cooper ‏@DecSop1)

West Virginia mayor resigns following controversial Facebook post referring to Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels". (@NBCNews) 
The word you are looking for is not "controversial". (John Whitehouse ‏@existentialfish)

Why do all minority groups have to be so tribal, blinkered, paranoid and devoid of common sense? UK would be better place if they calmed down. (Jon gaunt @jongaunt It's irony.)

You know when the media report on someone (Clarkson, Trump, JTerry etc) making sexist or racist comments the phrase is always 'caught out'. (Mister Neil Kulkarni ‏@KaptainKulk)

Nuttall says unlike Islington Lab, UKIP will speak about matters that affect "real working class people and real working class communities". (@MrHarryCole)
That's "real" spelt with a w, h, i, t and e. (Stephen Bush ‏@stephenkb)
When Bannon and Trump's Breitbart say "Soros" they mean "Jews." (Dan Murphy @bungdan)

Would like it if press stopped referring to bigots as "provocateurs," like they're Madonna in a cone bra in 1990 instead of fans of the KKK. (@summerbrennan)

Brendan Cox’s initiatives to get communities together is a “Disgusting attempt to politicize communities. Might work in trendy London Labour enclaves, nowhere else.” (@UKIPCANDA Where “politicize” means “indoctrinate with left-wing politics”. Because everywhere apart from London, different communities hate each other, as is right and proper.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Neologisms 16

What a polyp. (Ian Martin on Trump)
Bill, you absolute pudding. (BD Sixsmith)
You irredeemable prunes! (James O’Brien on Leavers who think Remoaners want to abandon Brits abroad)

Donald Trump is "factose intolerant". (William Francis on FB)

Their insanity is starting to glow in the dark.
(RK on the White House)

Your train of thought has been cancelled.
A replacement bus of thought is available. Your thoughts may arrive five hours later than planned. (@jeffnoon)

Shall I go to London and blow around like a feather in a pillow factory? (Gruntfuttock ‏@peasmoldia)

It's hard to think of another PM who created such ruinous, lifechanging chaos before practically evaporating into mist, than David Cameron. (@AliCatterall)

artwashing: using artists to make an organisation appear more friendly, and provide good PR for practices that may otherwise appear negative.

"Where's Corbyn?" Smashing PMQs every week, but dust bowls and cobwebs from our media. (@Peter_Nicholls)

It's no good when crisps aren't. (HB)

There's a veneer of culture and second homes, but it's essentially a mill-town graveyard. (Don Morrison on his hometown)

Is somebody going to get a chance to get in front of the microphone and put over our point of view in accents slightly less reminiscent of well-bred motor salesmen down on their luck? (Columnist Cassandra [1909-67] complaining about BBC announcers “mincing” through the news)

Shame they replaced it with a Tupperware greenhouse. (‏@JamesNonchalant on Stoke Newington Station)

Angela Rayner any moment she's going to go full red head everyone run. (Fat ‏@Bloke_On_A_Bike)
wounded rhino time (Someone has screwed up and landed you in it – time to charge like a wounded rhino and demand an apology, compensation and a free holiday.)

Morris dancers are one of the most riotously risible and despised groups in Britain. Yet they caper on regardless... (A A Gill)

The idea of a theremin ensemble is both intriguing and just slightly scary maybe one day I too will own a vintage theremin.... but until then I shall keep on soldering on till my mini one is built! (Amazon reviewer of Theremin by Albert Glinsky)

It's always a bit odd being back in Oxford, a perfectly normal Midlands city that got married to Gormenghast. (@WillWiles)

Failure of western democracy is what aviation safety calls the Swiss Cheese process. No one single big failure, lots of holes aligning. Usually followed by process called  "gravestone regulation", which I won't dwell on. (Rupert Goodwins ‏@rupertg)

Amazon are the Satan du jour for some people. (GFC)

You don’t have to sit him down for a full come-to-Jesus moment. (Dear Prudence commenter)

They are as valid as serving chocolate risotto on a cutting board followed by prawn and peas ice cream. (End Of Daze ‏@EndRoadwork)

rusted-on cronies ‏(@EndRoadwork)
We’re on spongy ground here. (JP)
at a speed of one angstrom per eon (AJB)

He is too lacquered in anecdote to communicate properly. (@byzantinepower)

the private language of academia (HP)

It’s mediocre in a weak way. (imdb comment on 50s Dors vehicle Man Bait)

If anyone becomes a therapist for money they need their bumps feeling. (Rhiannon Georgina Daniel)

May’s patina is already beginning to peel. (FL)

A lot of men in suits with their fingers in their ears. (Steph McGovern on BBC Breakfast on security guards)

Can I just press pause for a moment? (Sally Nugent on BBC Breakfast)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Movie Cliches (in Quotes) 2

'Here are dragons' did actually appear on two 16c maps. Next week I'll find out if any mad scientists really said 'the fools, the fools'. (@edwest)

My favourite bad horror/sci-fi movie trope are regular-sized human masks that easily disguise much, much larger alien/monster heads. (Allan Mott ‏@HouseofGlib)

It is stuffed with implausibilities... ending with an aspiring actress being offered a dream role in a movie on the strength of doing a one-woman show attended by about ten people. (Times on La La Land)

‏Even by the standards of Radio 4 dramas the heavy breathing on this nonsense they're playing right now takes the p***. (@IanDunt 30 Dec 2016)

Bring me one documentary that features an Arab country that doesn't open with [a call to prayer] and a panorama of houses & minarets. (@areyoudone)

After series 2, every franchise becomes a soap opera. (GC on Sherlock)
It has started to feel oddly like a clipshow of itself. (Jonn Elledge on Sherlock, New Statesman)

Filmmakers in the past have made the mistake of loading Agatha Christie adaptations with actors chosen simply because they are big box office stars and not necessarily on the basis of their suitability to play the parts, and this is another aspect which has probably made the David Suchet series so popular with TV audiences everywhere. (imdb commenter)

Churches in soaps are always inexplicably rural. Seriously this one in Eastenders would take minimum an hour to reach in a car. (Matthew Whitfield ‏@mwhitfield80)

I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws. (SJ Perelman)

According to the Times, Stephen Poliakoff’s latest hero is "a handsome, shrewd, single-minded and utterly ruthless maverick who is able to function on no sleep. He thinks outside the box; he has a background in engineering, a distinguished war record and the air of someone who does 'incredibly important secret things'. Only he is much more than that. He loves jazz and swing, he knows how to talk to children, and given half a chance he will sit down and play the piano." (This was supposed to make me like it; it made me suspect it was dire. I was right.)

Toning down his usual Shakespearean and Sherlockian grandeur, Cumberbatch takes to the burgundy-red superhero cape with a bracing dose of irony. Times on Dr Strange (Once any actor has appeared in Shakespeare, you can taunt them for being “grand” and a “luvvie” or “thesp”, and express surprise that they can subsequently play anything else, or return to the modern world. And Sherlock isn’t “grand”.)

Nothing I fear more than a film where the cast were "one big happy family" and everyone had lots of fun on set. (@Andr6wMale)

Why do the plots of cash-in Hollywood prequels to children's literary classics always involve a messianic prophecy? (@AlexPaknadel)

Where is this storyline with the young policewoman going? Are they setting her up to marry Anton Lesser or to die horribly? #Endeavour (Della Mirandola ‏@dellamirandola0)

Nobody wears white unless they’re going to get blood on it. (@lucyfishwife)

Movies are more likely to portray men’s stalking as charming and women’s as crazy. (Atlantic)

Man in this cafe looks just like my late father. His ghost? According to TV pilot law, we must now team up and solve crimes together. (@paulwhitelaw)

"I want my movie to be dark"
said every single director. (@AndrewSabisky)

Portraying real people, actors typically say that they will not attempt an “impression”, then do. (Andrew Billen Times Feb 2016)

But who’s actually REALLY in control” is to videogames what “but it was all a dream” is to movies. (Jack ‏@notquitereal)

I'd rather not see so many pictures of cats, Big Ben, poppies, white balloons, tattoos and Amsterdam. (Steerforth on Instagram clichés. He also lists pictures of coffee, pictures of feet, and inspirational quotes. A commenter: “A lot of people who post on Instagram seem to want to be professional advertising stock shot photographers.”)

SOUNDIn the front seat of the OCTA bus on which I'm riding, a semi-transient is playing soulful wails on his harmonica, as if we were all preparing to walk the Last Mile in the Big House. (Scott K. Ratner)

Pet hate #96184. When some clot decides it would be a good idea to write a modern soundtrack for a silent movie. (@richard_littler)

It is a central principle of sound editing that people hear what they are conditioned to hear, not what they are actually hearing. The sound of rain in movies? Frying bacon. Car engines revving in a chase scene? It’s partly engines, but what gives it that visceral, gut-level grist is lion roars mixed in. (Guardian June 2016 I think by "grist" they mean "grit", but they have let go a lot of their sub editors.)

One side effect of imminent Nestene invasion is that for the only time ever all human voices become echoey. (@TobyHadoke)

Tips from the Horror Movie Survival Guide   

If you find that your house is built on  a cemetery, move away immediately.     
If your children speak to you in Latin, shoot them at once.
If the gang plans a fun midnight party in the town's old abandoned mansion, don't tag along. Especially not if you're the odd guy/gal out. And if you're the gang's jokester, write your will now.   

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.     
Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're sure you know what you are doing.     
Never try to communicate with something icky because "there's so much we can learn from them".     
If you walk into a church and notice that the crucifix is upside down, leave by the nearest exit.     
If you realize that the people in your town have been taken over by some strange force, DO NOT call the police as they are a) already taken over or b) will just laugh at you.

When you land on a distant planet and find some objects that look like eggs, leave them alone.     
Don'g go in/out/down there (attic, closet, barn, basement, dark alley, woods, empty house, castle).
Generators will  run out of power, just as the nasty space-vegetable climbs onto your jury rigged electrical grid.

Ask why the estate is being sold so cheap.     
If the Master does not approve, neither do you.     
Skeptics are always proved wrong in some horrible way.
People driven by vengeance always die.     
ALL atomic weapons cause normal creatures to grow huge and carnivorous.

A small-town's little summer celebration sounds like fun, but if the locals say things like, "Why you're the guest of honour! We couldn't even have the barbecue without you!" run like hell.     

Quaint rural corn ceremonies are NEVER really about corn.    
Don't work the night shift.     
Under no circumstances remove any unusual item from glaciers or large blocks of ice.
If an iceberg appears to be radioactive, do not crash your submarine into it.     

Don't explode A-Bombs in the Arctic, South Sea atolls, or deep beneath the ocean. These locations are thickly inhabited with survivors from the prehistoric past. (Not to mention the blob, giant octopi, etc.)     

Stay on the Interstate.     
If you are trapped in a house surrounded by demons, making coffee will not help anyone.     
If you really must run screaming through the woods, dress for it. Avoid high heels.
Always be nice to the shy, quiet, unpopular girl in school.     
Never tease anyone. They'll either gain extraordinary powers, or go psycho.     
Don't bother telling another character to "Stay in the car."
Avoid people with pale complexions who moan and sway.     
Blondes with visoble roots are the food of choice of 9 out of 10 aliens.

When investigating a house or place shunned by the whispering townsfolk, don't try on the clothes in the trunk in the attic, don't look in the mirrors, and don't read the diaries.     

If the barber remarks on the "666" tattoo your buzzcut kid now has, abandon the kid and move to Irkutsk.     

Do not poke strange steaming rocks with sticks.     
Never announce openly that you're not afraid, you don't believe, or that you're fully prepared.  
Follow all care instruction of strange animals to the letter.     
In archaeology class, stay home for the unit on local folklore.     

Do your community a favor and torch the local occult bookstore. They're usually more trouble than they're worth.     

Don't buy antiques from strange magic stores.
If someone screams "None of you know whats really going on around here", listen to them.     
Never say, "It's over".     

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Art Shows In London, Paris, Bath and Woking

Kensington Palace

Diana: Her Fashion Story
From 24 Feb
From the frumpy sailor suits she was shoved into as a bride to the dazzling gowns she showed off in her 30s.

Musée du Louvre
Masterpieces from the Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt
22 Feb to 22 May
Lots of Rembrandts, and Golden Age Dutch paintings "often seen as simultaneously ribald, colorful, charming and bourgeois".

Tate Britain
David Hockney
to 29 May
Swimming pools, sprinklers, Yorkshire woods in winter.

Whitechapel GalleryLondon
Eduardo Paolozzi, "godfather of Pop Art". You can see his mosaics for free at Tottenham Court Road tube station.
to 14 May

Royal Academy, London
Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932
to 17 April

Fashion MuseumBath
Lace in Fashion
Four hundred years of lace. Discover lace-making techniques you never knew existed! Parchment lace?

John Minton and the Romantic Tradition
To March 9
John Minton was fine when he stuck to industry, street scenes and landscape, but unfortunately he liked to add sentimentalised figures. He gets a show of his own at Pallant House, Chichester in the summer, but here he is surrounded by some robuster New Romantics such as John Piper and Keith Vaughan.

Victoria and Albert MuseumLondon
From Eames chairs to aircraft. Or the other way round.
15 July to 12 Nov

Friday, 17 February 2017

Contradictions 4

We're living in an Alice through the Looking-Glass world.

If all news is fake, why is Trump talking to the press? If the press lies all the time, how do we know he said "All news is fake"? (Have you met my friend Epimenides?)

The people calling everyone "snowflakes" have been deeply offended by a Broadway show, a coffee shop, SNL, a Star Wars movie, and a beer ad. (‏@robdaviau)

Academics who moan about trigger-warnings and safe spaces are the whiniest of whiny babies. (@lottelydia)

"The Libtards are too sensitive!!"
(Clutches pearls at Starbucks cups.)
(Faints at booing.)
(Literally dies at "Happy Holidays".)
(Cassandra ‏@ChrisWarcraft)

"Safe spaces! Grow up and face the real world, snowflake" - People who voted to wreck the country just to avoid sharing it with foreigners. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

Some of the meanest-spirited social media pages I've ever seen are punctuated with fluffy memes and quotations about Caring. Always fascinated by those Facebook pages where screeds of racist rants are suddenly interrupted by memes of teddies & friendship. (Kate Long ‏@volewriter)

Millennials are 'obsessed with phones and hashtagging' says Piers Morgan, in one of his ninety two thousand tweets. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

Funny, the people who berate the Archbishop for speaking out for refugees are the same people who demand we return to 'Christian values'. (@revkatebottley)

The reality is Leavers create wealth, Remainers in the main consume it. When push comes to shove Remainers are of no value to society. (Godfrey Bloom, How can you run an economy without consumers, Godfrey? If nobody consumes your goods, how are you going to “create wealth”?)

In Brownsville tampons are seen as immoral. So is using birth control. What I don’t understand is that teen pregnancy is generally accepted. (Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen)

Complain that kids today don’t know where food comes from, or why we celebrate Easter, while recommending the Japanese/Finnish school system that doesn’t teach children to read until they are seven, or teaches nothing but “character” and “manners” for the first two years. (And moaning that children just rote-learn facts that they “regurgitate” in exams.)

Claim that print media is dead, and journalists are all fiends.

Claim that we are playthings of fate – and masters of our destiny. (There’s no such thing as freewill – and we are responsible for everything that happens to us.)

Deny free will while arresting, charging and condemning criminals.

Despise Muslims while reading Rumi.
Complain our culture is being diluted while eating a chicken tikka masala.

Expect your children to become professionals, and despise “trade”, while enjoying the benefits of a society based on buying and selling.

Rant about the nanny state
while enjoying public works like street lighting, libraries, museums, roads, sea defences...

Claim to be “uncomfortable” when you hear people speaking Arabic, but make sure your children learn French.

Claim that everybody stayed put before about 1950, but admire Christopher Columbus, Francis Drake and Captain Cook.

How can people say “be yourself” while also using the words “social pressure”?

And if nobody drank water in the Olden Days because it was polluted, how did the Broadwick Street pump cause a cholera outbreak?

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Haiku 18

Is it possible
To have too many haiku?
Me, I don't think so.

If I could under-
stand what the purpose is for
I might just do them.
Nathan Keates
Smells wintry. Just needs
A dash of Esso Blue and
An anthracite whiff.

It’s always the paws
of the lynx that
fill me with awe.
Anna Feruglio Dal Dan

Deer across the river –
heard a woodpecker and spied
a nameless bird of prey
at the junction of two streams.

Elephant seal sleepover.
The weird sky with the tiny red sun
is due to smoke from forest fires.
Marcus Fairs ‏@marcusfairs

It's the weekend baby,
you know what that means.
Time to buy precisely one courgette on the way home
because you're an adult I guess.

I have discovered an interesting toadstool,
the colour of natural beeswax,
shaped like a small bowl
and about three inches across.
I shall look it up.
Unfortunately it has been growing
on the bathroom carpet.
Liz Williams

Tricia has gone to buy
Root veg and cream cakes.
I’m in the car
Listening to Akhnaten.

The stormwater retention pond in the rain.
Black willows, and all the reflective gray
in the world.
Elizabeth Bastos

Somehow fog makes
back areas photogenic.
On right: fallen gutter
which no-one is ever
going to repair.

‏Such light,
and the mist rolling in
to hem the landscape.

Such otherworldly skies,
and in the park,
a stretch of mist
like a forgotten scarf.
Festive Kat Brown ‏@katbrown

Inside ancient amber,
palaeontologists find
tiny dinosaur feathers —
and also some little ants.
Science News

Ladybird clinging
to the ceiling like
a spot of blood.
Alex Paknadel

It is typical that seven wild swans
will fly over your head
when the camera's batteries have run out.
They may have been looking for someone
to sew nettle shirts.
I'm not volunteering.
Liz Williams

There are several green parrots
nesting in the ombues
outside my bedroom window.
The sound they make
is very far from being tuneful.

Two peacocks on a wall.
Where they should not have been,
but hey! Peacocks.
Liz Williams

Moon is strong enough to walk by
and casts a shadow from my body
on the silvery dune grass.
Quintin Lake

Back from Cornwall.
Cormorant flying alongside the train
at Teignmouth for half a mile or so.
John Grindrod ‏

Why does the ticking
of a clock get louder
after midnight?
Andrew J Baker

The old house quivers
When a Thameslink train passes
Beyond the car park.

Woke from a series of visions
about a vast, silent ship made of ice
gliding slowly through the dark
towards earth.
Spooky Toad ‏@FrogCroakley

Interlaced AngloSaxon birds
gnash their horrible teeth
as they grip each others' legs
on St Chad's Gospels.
Susan Oosthuizen

Just bumped my head
on the low flying moon.
John Grindrod
Great Apes
Before we were us
We were them
And we still are.
Paul Harland

Don't glamourise evil,
Or it will creep up on us
Like its shabby self.

Absolute peace in the city.
The absence of noise...
But for the soft tap of keys to type this...

Condensation, dew,
windfall apples, fading light.
I'm 63 and Back To School
still puts a sliver of ice
in my heart. Brr.

More here, and links to the rest.

Haiku 17

Help me! I am trapped
in a haiku factory
save me, before they

Oh, the seventeen-
syllable restriction is
such a massive pain!

The best haiku are

Created when not writing
Haiku purposely.
At least that’s what I
think; your mileage may vary.
To each his own, eh?

Morning through snow –

Everywhere a Ravilious picture,
The old tractor, the old wall, Morrisons.
maximpetergriffin ‏@maximpetergriff

"Have you looked at the sky today?"
Everything around you will fade.
Look up and remember The Eternal.
Rabbi Nachman/Lee Weissman

Huge, wet snowflakes falling outside.
Not settling as it's (just) too warm.
Maybe it's actually an alien invasion.

There's a ship hooting mournfully
Over and over, out in Table Bay.
Shouldn't someone answer it?

Here, the airfield
is shading into otherness
under mist.
Kari Sperring

The female pheasants
ran very very fast into a field
As though on little springs.

The wild birds mark their territories:
wild swans in one field, lapwings in another,
ravens in the oak groves.

Picking up apples
in the dampness of the day. Deep scarlet
strawberry leaves.

Hibernation. In between
working and the garden,
the fire and old familiar books.

The dog has not fallen
into the ditch again. The presence
of a washing machine is a beauty.
Liz Williams/LF

Orion striding
across the southern sky,

Pleiades mistily bright
over the eye of the Bull,

and a tiny meteor.
Liz Williams

Huge otherworldly
domed rocks
on the shore
of a deadly lake.

Atlas Obscura headline

I would love to go to the Palaeogene
to see the rise of the Himalayas
sand closure of the Tethys Sea.
Nadine Gabriel ‏@NadWGab

Moon above my house.
Golden in the sunset.
It tells me I lost a piece of myself.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Inspirational Quotes 91: Sex and Relationships

In the 70s, relationships were abolished. Nobody was going to get married, or even pair off, any more, because it was patriarchal, or something. And women didn't need to get married now that they could have jobs. That lasted. And the world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but at least people are more honest now.

Until "the right moment occurs... you know, we women never mean to have anybody." (Mrs Smith in Jane Austen's Persuasion)

I didn’t realize I needed a date for my mother’s funeral! (Miranda, Sex and the City)

You cannot come to cricket on your own – it demands a relationship. (Female cricket fan in the Times)

In reality, most people could happily pair off with a large number of potential partners, and the factors that determine whom they do pair with have as much to do with circumstance as anything else. Relationship success basically depends on three things: individual characteristics, like whether you’re smart or what kinds of hang-ups you have around relationships; quality of interaction, or how you hit it off in-person; and surrounding circumstances — stuff like your race or health or financial status... Dating is a market unto itself — a market that heavily penalizes over-30s, already. (Washington Post)

Results of an imbalance in male/female birth/survival: Imbalances in the marriage market will increase continuously till 2050-2060. ... increasing male age at marriage will be the most common.
Criminal organisations (human trafficking) and unorthodox arrangements (prostitution, fraternal polyandry) may flourish. Sexual and marriage markets will closely coincide with the socioeconomic market (exacerbated socioeconomic marital sorting). Matrimony may gradually become a new and more disputed status symbol rather than a decisive but inevitable life transition event.

It is also a sign of pressure to find the right (or an appropriate) partner. You refer to rules when you want to avoid investing time in something that has no longterm future. (Dating expert, Times Nov 2015)

There aren’t any men, any single men. There never were, and now there are even fewer. (Shane Watson in the Times on the death of the dinner party Nov 2015)

As a parent there are certain milestones in your child’s life that you look forward to: first steps, graduation, saying “I do”. (Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast)

The traditional ways had failed. Some had been waiting for years to encounter a suitable partner within their social circle, under the conventional conditions. Ordinary life, the editors insisted, was no match for the possibilities for partnership that are available through the Journal. And nor was ordinary life what it had once been. People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, through introductions furnished by social acquaintances. But as the economy changed and both men and women moved away from their families and into urban centres, the means of introduction were removed without the rules of etiquette changing quickly enough to prevent loneliness for this generation. (Jezebel, on romance in the 1880s)

Not unlike a man on Tinder who can advertise for a partner who wants to “Netflix and chill,” making it clear that relationship-seekers need not apply... The technology isn’t changing human relationships; it’s just showing them for what they really are. (Jezebel)

If someone went to school to learn about how to pick a life partner and take part in a healthy relationship, if they charted out a detailed plan of action to find one, and if they kept their progress organized rigorously in a spreadsheet, society says they’re A) an over-rational robot, B) way too concerned about this, and C) a huge weirdo. No, when it comes to dating, society frowns upon thinking too much about it, instead opting for things like relying on fate, going with your gut, and hoping for the best. If a business owner took society’s dating advice for her business, she’d probably fail, and if she succeeded, it would be partially due to good luck—and that’s how society wants us to approach dating. The respectable way to meet a life partner is by dumb luck, by bumping into them randomly or being introduced to them from within your little pool. The types of fear our society (and parents, and friends) inflict upon us—fear of being the last single friend... are the types that lead us to settle for a not-so-great partnership. (Quartz)

I’m 13... all my friends have boyfriends and are living a wonderful life... whenever I try to discuss problems, my friend immediately changes the topic. (Writer in to Mariella Jan 2016)

Poor Pippa Middleton? But she seems to have the absolute life of Riley.
Yes, but she’s unmarried at 32, see? It won’t do.
Gosh, how awful for her.
(Times 2016-01-14)

Women are culturally prodded toward relationships from day one. (Jezebel)

In this life one needs fortitude. My private life is terribly lonely. My public life is a mass of chance acquaintances, casual friendships and much mail. If this is fame then it is EMPTY. (Book-dealer and writer Fred Bason)

How long can you live by yourself and still stay sane? (Max Dunbar)
Spies are supposed to live without sympathy – it can’t be done. (John Le Carré, paraphrase)

We are told ... that the lady involved should be of much higher station than the lover, that she should be located at a distance, that the lover should tremble in her presence, and that he should obey her slightest wish. He should, moreover, fall sick with love, faint when he sees a lock of the lady's hair, preserve his chastity, and perform great exploits to attract the attention of the lady. All this seems to me a terrible nuisance... (Essay on Courtly Love by DW Robertson, who says it’s all an invention of the 19th and 20th centuries)

In real life, older women, particularly older single women, are all too often dismissed, facing a toxic blend of sexism and ageism. (bitchmedia.com)

Faced with the grim fate of possibly never finding a life partner, Filipino bachelors competed fiercely for the few Filipinas around. Those who lost this game of high stakes and were desperately lonely frequented the taxi-dance halls and/or visited prostitutes enjoying, albeit briefly, the company of white women. [The dance halls] catered to socially-isolated men who would otherwise have been ostracized from public dancing. (Mina Roces)

He’s made the first move, it’s up to you to make the next one, right? (S.W.A.L.K., 1982)

The best advice to anyone wanting to use an app is to be very clear about your own boundaries for commitment and intimacy and to stick to them. If you’re looking to form a relationship then be up front about this and take your time getting to know someone - that advice goes for men and women. (Indy April 2016)

I'm too scared [to date]. I've never dated before. When I was at university, you just slept with each other. There was no dating involved. You just... had sex. Then I met Geoff, and that was that. (Victoria Wood)

Over the 25 years of their intense, abusive relationship, he demolished her confidence and ruined her ambitions. (Alexander Masters in the Guardian on discovering diaries in a skip. “E” told the diarist she was a “silly ass”, “stupid” and “weak in every way”.)

The diarist’s life spans that postwar generation who came of age in the 1960s, was inspired by art, cinema and literature but for whom settling down to married life was still the expected norm. (Melissa Katsoulis on the same book)

Not sure what makes me feel older: our last unmarried close friend getting wed today or looking forward to power-hosing the patio tomorrow. (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob Hounslow, London)

Women are expected to marry in their early twenties. Failing to do so can lead to social exclusion. (Times, talking about Saudi Arabia)

“I can’t,” he said. “I can’t do that yet.” “What, have dinner?” I asked. But I knew he would expect more. (salon.com)

Society, complained one 29-year-old cake smasher, dictates that at 30 she should be married with children. (Times June 2016)

I’m at an age where everyone in my social circle is getting pregnant (Dear Prudence, slate.com)

Doctors told my parents that I would never find a man who would love me... (Intersex person in Guardian July 2016)

I should have considered it far longer than I did. But I was anxious to get married and settle down. (Evelyn Gardner on marrying Evelyn Waugh)

I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed ... In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel. (Somerset Maugham)

A friend was recently talking about a male friend who is starting to feel the engagement pressure. Mainly because his younger brother recently got engaged, followed by his best friend two weeks later. (thedebrief.co.uk)

It was like I suddenly woke up and all my friends were buying houses and talking about babies and I felt so alone. (Issy Suttie)

Therapy is a holding pattern till people fall in love again. (James Thompson ‏@JamesPsychol)

Monogamy during prime childrearing years is a cultural norm that often results in increased social status, state-sponsored recognition, and financial rewards. (Mallory Ortberg slate.com)

As a longtime mistress, you have very little say in where your boyfriend’s children go to school, no matter how sound your reasoning. (Mallory Ortberg, slate.com)

[People ask] why must Bridget Jones fall for bad men? Why is she so self-absorbed? Could she not spend these books living an enlightened, guilt-free, empowered existence, engaging only in political activism, literary discussion of restrictive gender-normative tropes and good works for the poor? ... [Do we really need] another woman ... trying to live another deserving, upstanding, perfect and dull life, like some kind of angry, teetotal, hectoring nun? A woman dedicated to being an example. (Caitlin Moran on Bridget Jones Times Aug 2016 Nobody ever wanted to be this woman, they just thought other women ought to be her.)

You can be with someone kinda a li’l bit hotter or less hot than you, but if the levels are too off, people are furious. It’s sick and sad. (Amy Schumer)

"How soon should I reply? Can I say something yet? Should I call? I know I shouldn’t text him, but…" My advice, ingrained in me by years of comparable counsel from comparably responsive female friends, is always to wait. Waiting is the rule, the convention, tacitly enforced by men who retreat from female aggression and actively perpetuated by women who self-police. (iasc-culture.org Interesting that a woman taking the lead is called “aggression”.)

On average, a widow loses 75 per cent of her support base after the loss of a spouse, including loss of support from family and friends. (Boston Globe and Mail)

Once she saw to whom I was married she was NICE - AS - PIE. (@Highgatemums)

To find a husband in these competitive days one cannot do better than became a Lyons waitress. A pretty “Nippy” is nipped up in no time. (Quoted in Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics, Rob Baker)

After NYE gig, I asked one of the security guards how the evening had been for him. He told me how sad seeing all the couples had made him. Friendly, strapping, good-looking, young lad working in a glam nightclub can't get a girlfriend. "Oh, mate," I said. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

"The real fear was that you were going to be so bright that you would put men off," recalls a St Mary’s Wantage old girl... in the late 60s. (Daily Mail)

A true relationship is when someone accepts your past, supports your present, loves you and encourages your future. (inspiringandpositivequotes.com)

My dad always said I would never get married.... I was in my forties, in the prime of my life. Maybe in those eight years I would have met someone and fallen in love and had a baby. (Stevie Nicks, who lost years to drug addiction)

More here, and links to the rest.