Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Again Twenty Questions

Either the questions are getting easier or standards of erudition and culture are rising; those who say they got ten right are not necessarily lying; the mendacity threshold is raised to fifteen.

41  What has Himmler got?

42  How will I love you, always?

43   Sabrage is  a: a generic term for desert scrub  b: a yearling hawk  c: a rank of officer in the Indian army  d: the art of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre

44   What links: larynx, flight data recorder, St Stephen's Day?

45   Which Commonwealth country is on mainland South America?

46   What is detected by the Scott test?

47   Elizabeths I and II ascended the throne at what age?

48   Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger founded which reference source?

49   Sarah Woodruff is the title character of which novel?

50   "The Monster's Mate...?" is listed in the credits of which film?

51   Which baking aid was patented by Henry Jones in 1845?

52   Who had friends called Ginger and Merrylegs?

53   Which British fortifications are named after a Corsican original?

54   Which car is named after the French founder of Detroit?

55   "It was love at first sight" begins which 1961 novel?

56   YKK is the world's largest manufacturer of what?

57   What sort of delicacy is kopi luwak?

58   Which trophy did an American club successfully defend 24 times over 132 years?

59   What is made in a chessel?

60   What do lazy jellyfish do?

Answers are HERE


Friday, 25 November 2011

And now farewell cartoonist David Langdon. I posted some of his cartoons in 2009 to wish him a happy 95th birthday and now comes the sad news that he died this week.

He contributed to the New Yorker from 1948 and to many other newspapers and perodicals during and after World War II. The bulk of his cartoons, however, were published in Punch for more than half a century, from 1937 until it folded in 1992. They include these three, which appeared in 1968, 1976, and 1982.

'No, I think he's all right to ask the way. It's the chaps in round black helmets who knock your teeth in.'

'He wants twenty-five per cent of the gross, with an agreed minimum advance guarantee, plus doing our own tidying up.'

'Sorry, madam—the chef says he cannot reveal his sauces.'

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Prizegiving

My CV (which can be found by going HERE and scrolling down), includes one item of which I always been particularly proud. This, the second in the list of my lifetime's achievements, is perhaps the most noteworthy, though it was only a runner-up prize.

Unfortunately photography was in its infancy in those days and no pictures of the presentation of the prizes are known to exist. However, to illustrate the item I have found a lovely contemporary print of a comparable occasion, though it has to be said that this was a much more lavish affair:

Had I attended that 1885 prize-giving ceremony (at Le Palais de l’Industrie, Paris) rather than the one in 1938 at Kingsley Road Junior School, just by the Croydon gasworks, I might have been standing behind the man about to receive the first prize, though of course I would have been wearing shorts.

Incidentally, the respective Guests of Honour at the two events were Hector Berlioz in 1855 and, of course, Miss Beamish in 1938.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Comedy and drama

There is a TV series running at the moment called Death in Paradise. It is described as a comedy drama but is in fact not in the least funny or dramatic. It has reminded me of something I once saw many years ago in Pyongyang, also with Paradise in its title; this was tremendously dramatic as well as funny, though the comedy was unintentional.

It was a sort of musical, though in The Democratic People's Republic of Korea they call them revolutionary operas. As I have noted before, the musical theatre thrives in Pyongyang as nowhere else; this production was in 1976, but there is no reason to suppose that this and similar productions are not still going on and on like a lot of mousetraps.

It was, and probably still is, called Song of Paradise, a "heightened paean for the advantages and great vitality of our socialist system... another monumental masterpiece adding radiance to the great flourishing Juche art... a high tribute to the illustrious line on literature and art enunciated by the respected and beloved leader".

The number being sung here is the first act closer, called A Love Much Deeper Than the Deepest Sea, and they sing:
Our fatherly leader's love that is warm and unlimited...
Our hearts throbbed with emotion profound
When he hugged us still damp from the sea-wind.

... though no doubt it has lost something in translation. The scene comes at the moment when "Deep-sea fishermen are moved to tears to hear the glad news that they will enjoy one-month holidays with their families in Mt Kumgang-san thanks to the Great and Respected Leader's loving care and attention."

It looks to me as if two quite separate announcements are being made simultaneously, one stage left and one stage right, and I cannot remember why this was, but anyway it was a splendid ensemble number. They all seemed very happy in their stylish deep-sea fishing uniforms.

The G and R Leader referred to here is, of course, the late Kim Il Sung whom we called Chubby-Chops when none of his subjects were listening, and it may be that by now the lyrics have been amended to transfer the credit to his son Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Style Invitational

Under this title The Washington Post has offered, every week since 1993, a wordplay contest, "an irreverent mix of highbrow and lowbrow—haughty and potty—in genres ranging from neologisms to cartoon captions to elaborate song parodies".

In week 610 (June 2005), readers were asked to "mash" two movies, TV shows, etc., into a single work of art and describe it. There were over 4,000 entries; below, from The Post's archives, is a selection of the winners and runners-up:  

The Wizinator: A steroid-fueled cyborg pursues Dorothy and her companions as they attempt to reach the Emerald City in time to take their court-mandated drug tests. But along the Yellow Brick Road there were some poppies ...

Please Don’t Eat Miss Daisy: Hannibal Lecter lands a job driving for a prim southern spinster.

Pollyanna Karenina: "Oh my, isn’t that the most beautiful train?”

Terminators of Endearment: At last, the perfect “compromise” date movie.

Valley Girl With a Pearl Earring: There’s this girl, Julie? She gets to be a model for, like, a famous photograph or something.

It’s a Wonderful Life Is Beautiful: A man sees how depressing a Nazi concentration camp would have been without him.

My Left Footloose: A dancer with leprosy sees the imminent end of his career.

The French Lieutenant’s a Man and a Woman: Confused sexual identity threatens morale in Napoleon’s army.

The Americanization of Amelie: The cute, quirky French girl finds herself getting a big butt.

Soylent Green Acres: Two rich urban retirees find out the real meaning of being “put out to pasture.”

The Man With the Golden Gunga Din: James Bond finally meets a better man than he.

The Lion in Winterminator 2:
Eleanor of Aquitaine can’t be bargained with. She can’t be reasoned with. She doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And she absolutely will not stop. Until you are dead.

2001 Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: A computer attempts to get out of work by acting crazy, but things get out of hand and he ends up with a circuit-otomy.

Love Toy Story: Woody, an old favorite, feels threatened by the arrival of the new battery-powered Buzz Lightyear.

Das Booty Call: When the German sub fleet puts in to port, they’re ready for some action!

A Bullet Is Waiting for Godot: Let’s just say Vladimir and Estragon have had it up to here.

Man on Fire Down Below: An educational film about STDs and their symptoms. 

Inherit the Wind in the Willows: Did Mole descend from Rat? Or was it the other way around? Let a jury decide!

Gilligan’s Island of Dr. Moreau: A mad scientist’s plans to perform experimental lobotomies on seven castaways are spoiled when he realizes that someone has already beaten him to it.

DracuLa Recherche du Temps Perdu: Memories of his past life come flooding back when a vampire bites into Madeleine.

Independence Day After Tomorrow: Aliens stupidly attack Earth right after global warming has rendered the planet uninhabitable.

Bob & Carol & Ted (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore): After the divorce, Ted settles into a ménage à trois.

You Only Live Twice, Pussycat: The other cats gang up on Felix and say nasty things to him.

Tequila Sunrise at Campobello: Suddenly Eleanor starts looking pretty good.

The Thin Red Blue Long Grey Line: A bus company offers an extended tour of the American political landscape.

My Fair Lady Sings the Blues: “Cocaine, I’m sayin’, stays mainly in the vein.” 

Die Another Day After Tomorrow: The world ends not with a stir, but with a shake.

[Every Friday there is a new contest; HERE, for anyone who wants to enter, are the Rules.]


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bad Faith Awards

These annual awards are a means of dishonouring each year's most outstanding enemy of reason; winners in previous years have included Sarah Palin and the Pope.

Candidates for the 2011 prize have now been nominated, and the public are invited to vote for the candidate they think would be the most deserving winner. For me, the choice was not too difficult: dismissing Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann (why pick on two American politicians when their ranks include so many who deserve the award?), and ruling out two of the others whose idiocy has not impinged much on me, I was left with Nadine Dorries and Melanie Phillips.

From the first, Dorries looked likely to be the winner, so rather than merely adding one voice to the majority I chose the Daily Mail's deluded columnist to receive my vote. Now that over three thousand votes have been cast, Rick Perry has overtaken Phillips in second place and may well finish as runner-up.

Voting is open until 28th November. Vote for Mad Mel and help her to put the American into third place!