Sunday, 28 October 2007

Ghoulish fun

I got tagged by Dorid (thanks!) with the Happy Hallowmeme and I'm supposed to come up with watery or science-y horror movies. Well, I've never watched a horror movie - far too scary, but I thought I could contribute some scary funny movies instead. So here we go:

1. Has to be Carry on Screaming. Kenneth Williams and Fenella Fielding in top form. Frying tonight!

2. Even funnier if it's possible is Young Frankenstein (or is it Fronkensteen?) Marty Feldman is hysterical - here's a sample:

Igor: Dr. Frankenstein...

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: "Fronkensteen."

Igor: You're putting me on.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No, it's pronounced "Fronkensteen."

Igor: Do you also say "Froaderick"?

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No...”Frederick."

Igor: Well, why isn't it "Froaderick Fronkensteen"?

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: It isn't; it's "Frederick Fronkensteen."

Igor: I see.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: You must be Igor. [He pronounces it ee-gor]

Igor: No, it's pronounced "eye-gor."

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: But they told me it was "ee-gor."

Igor: Well, they were wrong then, weren't they?

Ah happy days...

and's not really scary but I'll use any excuse to get a Will Hay movie into the conversation

This is one of his less well-known films. Set on a Scottish island in the Second World War with a young John Laurie and an even younger Kenneth Hawtrey joining a great cast in an apparently haunted school. Wonderful on a wet and dark afternoon - in fact, I think I've just decided what I'll be watching tomorrow as I do the ironing!

So happy funny Halloween. And I hereby tag (if they're reading) T.M. Bear

and Michelle

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Being human...

From me to you to brighten the long dark evenings...Yes, the clocks go back tonight here in the UK and that means dismally long nights from now until February, especially up here in Scotland. I found this vid on Youtube and it just sums up the human condition for me - it's a guy playing Amelie on a keyboard in his bedroom, that's all, but in its simplicity and beauty in a (very) ordinary room it just says something to me about the human spirit. Maybe it's the gin and tonic I've just had but I don't care. I still think it's beautiful. And Yann Tiersen's music is sublime under any circumstances. Anyway...enjoy and happy winter

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Filigree, Apogee, Pedigree, Perigee...

Apogee, perigee...aren't they fabulous words. I associate them with the spell that Angela Lansbury casts in Bedknobs and Broomsticks - filigree, apogee, pedigree, perigee... or words to that effect, or at least I did until I was a grown-up, well until my mid-forties...ok - until today.

Tonight is the biggest full moon of the year. And yes, apparently it doesn't just look big, it is big. The inspiring and educational website Astronomy Picture of the Day has this great picture today.
And you can find a good explanation for this phenomenon at The National Maritime Museum .

Friday, 19 October 2007

Not Winning Things

I've just had a disappointment - I haven't won a competition...again. I write the odd poem. I even joined a writers' group this year. And filled with the confidence that all that mutual admiration gives one, I wrote a poem for a local writing competition. I was pretty pleased with this poem and told myself that even if it got nowhere in the competition (and why should it?) I was glad to have created it.

And now the results are out and I am nowhere. That's okay, just about. But two other members of the group entered the competition and they both did get prizes. So I am feeling pretty gutted. Am I completely crap as a writer? Am I deluding myself? Maybe I should give up any pretensions to writing and grow roses instead.

I have consoled myself with the comments of the recent Man Booker non-prizewinner, Lloyd Jones, who said that he was quite glad not to have won because the prize would have been "a distraction." Nice try, Lloyd!

If that doesn't work, I'll fall back on the old consolation that the best people rarely win the prizes - for example, Gandhi and Irena Sendler never won the Nobel Peace Prize; Al Gore and Yasser Arafat did.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

More Pratchett one-liners

I wrote in a previous post about my love for Terry Pratchett one-liners. Imagine my delight then, when browsing through Waterstones today, to come across an anthology of them - The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld. I've been sniggering ever since I got it home. To spread a little sunshine I offer a couple of his finest -
A compost heap comes to life and threatens a group of wizards:

The heap swivelled and lunged towards the Bursar. The wizards backed away.
'It can't be intelligent can it?' said the Bursar.
'All it's doing is moving around slowly and eating things,' said the Dean.
'Put a pointy hat on it and it'd be a faculty member,' said the Archchancellor.

and -
Few religions are definite about the size of Heaven but on the planet Earth the book of Revelation gives it as a cube 12,000 furlongs on a side. This is somewhat less than 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic feet. Even allowing that the Heavenly Host and other essential services take up at least two thirds of this space, this leaves about one million cubic feet for each human occupant...This is such a generous amount of space that it suggests that room has also been provided for some alien races or - a happy thought - that pets are allowed.

Oh, all right, one more then...

'Some people say that you achieve immortality through your children,' said the minstrel.
'Yeah?' said Cohen. 'Name one of your great-grandads then.'

Check out Terry's website here

Thursday, 11 October 2007

The Burmese monks - not forgotten

I posted about this myself last week - Where are all the monks? but I see that The Osterley Times is wondering the same as me, with a link to today's Independent.

Once again I say - "Where is the world's press now?" They made plenty of fuss when there were thousands of brightly-clad monks on the streets protesting. It might even be said that the attention of the world's media gave the people the encouragement to protest longer than they would otherwise have had the courage to do. Then, when the monks disappeared from the streets so did the reports, generally speaking, apart from a few creditable exceptions, like the UK's Independent newspaper and Channel 4.

I can't help but think, and I am aghast that it might even be possible, that those brightly coloured robes made great pictures. Remove those photogenic images and TV loses interest and moves onto some other colourful story.

When are we going to get consistency from our media? Do they really care about the stories they bombard us with? They fire us up with passion on a story, then drop it like last year's Prada handbag when something new comes along. Try to keep up to date on a story once the media's lost interest - it ain't easy. Thank goodness for the internet and bloggers who won't give up on a story.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Who am I?

Who am I? I've been known by my married name of Golfer for twenty-odd years. I am the daughter of a Drinker (my father drank for Scotland, I'm afraid) so surely I am by rights a Drinker not a Golfer, now that my husband has died. The name Golfer means nothing to me - most of the time it conjures up an image of the ghastly in-laws - well, mother-in-law to be precise, who herself was widowed young, though not as young as me, and made us suffer for it ever after. Against that has to be measured my long and mostly happy marriage. But I'm not married any more.

When I became widowed it did occur to me that my maiden name might become more natural to me to use, in time. But what attachment did I have to the Drinker? I even thought about calling myself by my mother's maiden name but that meant even less to me. Then the very last member of the Golfer's family died and there was no-one left. If I continued to think of myself as a Golfer, who was I doing it for?

Then yesterday I was browsing the fiction shelves of my local bookshop, and as an aspiring novelist was imagining my blockbuster in its place on the shelf - as you do - and I thought whether I could see it more clearly amongst the Gs as a Golfer or with the Ds for Drinker. And I realised that I wanted it to be there with all the Gs. I've been a Golfer for longer than I was a Drinker, which is quite a thought, actually. More than that, I realised that at last I had found something I could do in memory of my husband. People, even much-loved and successful people, disappear off the radar of the community incredibly quickly after they die and I have been struggling with a way to keep something of him in the world. So when I publish that blockbuster - and you will all be the first to know when I do - I'll publish it as a Golfer.

Who the hell are we as women? We are the daughters of men and take their name. Then we marry other men and take their name. If I remarry, then I might take his name but if I choose not to, whose name do I retain - the man who was my first husband or the man who was my father? It is a puzzle. Names are so much a part of how we define ourselves. We take great care (most of us) when we name our children. It is most disconcerting to reach the nursery slopes of middle age and not be certain which tribe I belong to.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Galactic beauty

The Astronomy Picture of the Day website is always worth looking at (I have it as my homepage to get my day off to a good start) but today's image is particularly beautiful.

It shows Galaxy NGC 474, with its wonderful and complex emission layers, which are intriguing astronomers. The image also shows its neighbouring galaxy, with which NGC 474 is slowly (very slowly) colliding.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Great recent blogposts

This is a timely piece on what direction atheism as a movement, if it is a movement, should be taking over on the Ayrshire Blog

And this is a typically measured piece from Reasonable Robinson in his Gullibility blog.

This post - A lesson in Pessimism - is a cracker from Everything is Pointless but you'll need to have your brain switched on when you read it!

Friday, 5 October 2007

The Niceties of Legal Language

What the hell has happened to the United States?

News has percolated across the Atlantic of the New York Times article on the 'non-torture' techniques employed by the Bush administration on suspected terrorists.

By any civilized person's standards, the treatments described in the article count as torture. When questioned, President Bush said that they are detaining, questioning and, presumably, using extraction techniques on people who MAY have information. Frances Townsend, the homeland security advisor said that they start with "the least harsh measures first" and stop the progression "if someone becomes cooperative." Here's the piece on Youtube:

There's also a good post on The Osterley Times blog.

I can see that the administration feels under pressure to prevent terrorist attacks. But what is the point saving a few hundred, a few thousand, a few million lives if in doing so you lose your own moral bearings? How can we claim the high ground in well, anything, frankly when those we allow to govern us commit acts like these in our name?

Dr Atheist fails to put up much of a fight

I don't know whether to feel threatened by this vid that I found on Youtube or just laugh heartily that this is the best the creationists can do. It's religion trying to be very clever and beat 'science' at its own game but is there anyone out there who could seriously find this at all convincing?

I think I'll just laugh...

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Free Burma

Free Burma
Originally uploaded by Buffy Holt: Flickr
This is the only blogpost I will write today. I am proud to join thousands of fellow bloggers around the world who dedicate their blogs today to the people of Burma.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Where are all the monks?

Is it just me or has the world's media lost interest in Burma? After days of saturation coverage of the protests, the situation has barely had a mention since the monks disappeared from the streets. It no longer even merits a headline on the front page of the BBC news website.

I know there's a difficulty getting pictures, but just because there's nothing photogenic to show us doesn't mean we aren't interested. I know it might not be easy to get unimpeachable facts but the news media shouldn't just be dropping the story from their schedules. Here's the latest, according to Der Spiegel They come at night and murder the monks.

I for one am fed up with the news media drenching itself in a story then dropping it when something sexier comes along. Either it's important or it's not.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

He's behind you!

I Stumbled Upon this and couldn't resist posting it:

Here's the original web page:

Monday, 1 October 2007

A very old philosophical joke

I was trawling through my old emails today and came across this joke that I sent the Golfer to cheer him up on one of his many overseas business trips. I have no idea where I found it so I can't credit it but thanks to whoever it was that told it to me:

A Philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about 2" in diameter.

He then asked the class if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course the sand filled up everything else. "Now" said the professor, "I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, and your children - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full." "The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car". "The sand is everything else - the small stuff". "If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life - if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you".

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal". "Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand".

A student then took up the jar, which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer. Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar making the jar truly full.

The moral of this tale is that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for a beer.

In my case it would probably be a nice cold gin-and-tonic but apart from that I couldn't agree with it more!

Start the Week

Start the Week on Radio 4 is back after its summer break and today was great stuff, with interesting contributions on the battle for Japan in 1944-45, the use of chemical weapons by the Iraqis and - the thing I want to mention here - a brief discussion with Karen Armstrong about her new book The Bible - the biography.

Karen Armstrong is a former nun who has written many books on religion, including A history of God. She now calls heself a freelance monotheist, not attached to a particular religion but still very much attached to God.

Since I became convinced of the process of evolution as an explanation of how we got here I have lost any interest in analysing the Bible or any other religious texts in order to pick holes in it, so I won't be reading the book. But it was interesting to hear her summary and also instructive that here is an intelligent woman who doesn't have a lot of time for any particular religion, thinks the afterlife is a red herring, and yet is still dedicating her life to the search for some kind of spiritual meaning.

She blames militant secularism, to a large extent, for the rise of religious fundamentalism, which irritates me more than a little. Of more interest to me is that here we have another example of a clever person, well-educated and by no means blind to the faults of religion - far from it - and yet she thinks that a religious faith is so important to humans that it is dangerous to remove it from them.

I am rather depressed, I admit. I don't want to proselytise for atheism. As I have written here before, I came to my decision on god in my forties and after a series of life and learning experiences that were unique to me. It would be unfair of me to expect other people to spring to my side simply because of the power of my rhetoric. You have to be a very strong person to cast off the crutch of religion. If you are not strong or if you have never had to be strong because life has never dealt you a bad hand then you are going to cling to that crutch like a comfort blanket (if I'm not mixing my metaphors.)

But I do get angry with intelligent people who, it seems to me, wilfully cling to their own personal brand of spirituality in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, managing to hold mutually exclusive ideas in their brains at the same time. If every academic was forced to take a course in logic the world might be a saner place.

You can listen to the programme online here