Saturday, November 20, 2004

When worlds collide

"Pupils were left in tears after a teacher told them that an asteroid was about to hit Earth and kill them all."

Keith Hogan, head teacher at St Matthew's RC High School in Moston, Manchester, said he regretted any distress caused to the 230 pupils.

The head of year behind the assembly "stunt" later moved to reassure them.

He had told the year nine students that the asteroid was on a "collision course".

It is also believed that the students were told that they should go home and say "final farewells" to their families.

The teacher then admitted the story was a stunt aimed at underlining the theme of the assembly - "living each day to the full".


Heh heh.

Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh!

Or am I too cruel?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Get the humanoid!

Jonathan Last alerts us to the nifty Killer List of Video Games (arcade games, that is). It's fascinating, and hauls up distant memories of a misspent youth. Here's a sample bit of trivia about a little game called Donkey Kong:

The early cabinets also had a trick that could be done with a drinking straw to give unlimited gameplay. A straw inserted in the middle outside section of the upper hinge would turn sideways inside the machine and be positioned just above the credit switch. By jiggling the straw up and down, you could get up to 99 credits in seconds.

Why couldn't I have known about this back in '81?

Thursday, November 18, 2004


I hate to say this, but I've lost a few molecules of respect for my favorite columnist, Anglo-Canado-New Hampshirite Mark Steyn:

For personal and family reasons, this website will be on hiatus for a while.


It makes his vow to quit his job, on condition of a Kerry victory, look somewhat snakey. If he suspected all along that he'd need to take a break, then the wager is emptied of its value.

I'm carping, I know. I miss Mark, and want him back. (sniff)

They must be members of the Green Party

Lynn Hirschberg relates an amusing anecdote in the New York Times (via Arts & Letters Daily):

The day before "Shrek 2" was set to have its premiere at Cannes, DreamWorks's representatives placed large plastic bags full of green Shrek ears along the Croisette, the bustling beachfront walkway that dominates the action in Cannes. Even before the festival began, it was feared that protesting French workers would shut it down over a labor dispute. On this day, a group of hundreds gathered outside the Carlton Hotel to denounce the war in Iraq. They were chanting in French for about 45 minutes, until the police broke up the demonstration. Then, as the protesters dissipated into the throng on the Croisette, I watched them, one by one, put on the free Shrek ears. They were attracted, it seemed, by the ears' goofiness and sheer recognizability. Immediately, the crowd, once filled with political fervor, was transformed into a sea of cartoon characters.

Lefto-French protestors into cartoon characters? If you ask me, that's not much of a transmogrification.

Hirschberg sees this (and other things) as an indictment of current Hollywood philistinism, and so it is. But the rest of the planet is encouraging cinematic tripe.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Britain, Ireland, Canada: be forewarned

Hollywood celebs aren't the only folks who want to leave America under the hated Bush regime. The BBC has found a few normal citizens (or nearly so) with the urge to flee:

Brian Boyko, 25, postgrad journalism student:

"I think it'll probably start with gay people and Muslim Americans, those likely to be the scapegoats. Something is rotten here. I'm just smelling it earlier than some other people. Even though I voted for the other guy, I'm still going to have my nationality associated with the death and destruction the next four years will bring, and I'd rather not. So I'm looking to reject this society and find another one."

First they came for the gays, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn't gay. Then they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Muslim. Then they came for the journalism students....

Yeah, you're smelling it all right, Boyko. (If you look at his pic, you'll be certain this is the first time that Boyko is the one doing the "rejecting".)

Ian Mitroff, 66, USC professor:
"I'm in an immense quandary about what to do. Another pointless war would make me go or if gay bashing and bashing of liberals gets so serious that tolerance is broken down, you would feel in fear of your safety. I love my country and am proud to be an American, but I don't think I have ever been as down about this country as I am now."

At 66, Mitroff has lived through: Japanese interment camps, Joe McCarthy, the Vietnam War, Watergate. Topping them all are the current anti-gay/liberal pogroms, which, if you look out your window right now, you'll see going on in the streets.

Peggy Bowen, 57, lawyer:
"Freud stayed in Vienna until Hitler had completely taken over the country, but I don't want to be wrong about when it's time to leave. My fear is that I won't know when to get out."

Oh, yes. And then they came for the lawyers.

Hm. America without our J-students, without our lefty profs, without our high-priced attorneys...?

(insincerely) Wait. Come back. Please don't go.

Oh, well. I tried.

Nothing to see here!

This must have been the coolest thing to happen in Denmark so far this millennium: a fire in a fireworks factory. Just look at the picture!

I have nothing to add

Blimpish has up his best post ever:

Morality, Left and Right

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Do you share my problem?

It's because Allahpundit has been so long since updating his blog, and because I check it most every day, that I cannot get the phrase "hot-dogging pony boy" out of my head.

Hot-dogging pony boy!

Hot-dogging pony boy!

Hot-dogging pony boy!

Hot-dogging pony boy!

No, ho

At lunch today I overheard, from the girl couple in the booth behind, about the moral imperative and general goodness of assassinating President Bush.

Northampton, Mass., what a charming town!

Smiley's people

Making its way -- or as I should probably say, having made its way (I'm late on the uptake, I know) -- through the webvine is Jane Smiley's hyperventilating piece in Slate, on why Americans voted for George W. Bush (for me, found in The Corner). Answer: "ignorance and bloodlust". Of course! (smacks forehead.)

Anyway, in the opening paragraph is a possible clue to the etiology of Smiley's perfervid loony-leftism:

I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million—my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)

Most readers, I think, will seize on that ironical final sentence -- how can someone who characterizes 50+% of her fellow countrymen as ignorant complain about feelings of superiority in others? -- and move on to the next contradiction.

For me, the demeaning references to the author's family recalled John Lukacs' statement that every American Communist he had ever met had been deeply hurt sometime in his life. Loony-leftism is not the same as Communism, I know, but note this: in her most famous work, A Thousand Acres, the character of the overbearing father is discovered to have perpetrated incest (tip: Dymphna, commenting in Belmont). I'm not saying that Acres is strictly autobiographical in that sense, but it could be that the author's hostility to her family pushed her to that plotline.

In my lmited experience, thought, the opposite is more frequent: despite the constant bruiting of "rebellion", "subversion", "nonconformity", etc., most simply pick it up pur et dur from their mom and dad.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Happy happy, joy joy

I've been spending lots of recent time with the new DVD release of Ren and Stimpy. It had been years, and I'd only half remembered the dramaturgical dyad of fat cat and scrawny dog. I had wondered, had they lost any of their bloom? Nope. They remain as crazily hilarious as ever. I wouldn't recommend a marathon session (it could be harmful, I feel, to one's sanity), but even when they're not making you laugh out loud, the show is still weirdly riveting.

And, contrary to certain rumors, you don't have to be "high" to watch this cartoon.

Outside of everything else, it's nice to see an animated cartoon -- especially, an animated television cartoon, that takes care to produce high-quality artwork. The backgrounds especially are admirable, in a way unseen since Warner Brothers in the 1940's (acclaim for this going mostly to Bill Wray).

In summation: It's better than bad -- it's good!


Readers will note that I usually update this blog (new Verse of the Month, Site of the Month, etc.) at the top of the month, but I'm currently experiencing some kinda Blogger infarction. I will keep trying....

Battle cry of freedom

Looking at the national election map you can see that this country is more divided, geographically, than at any other time since the Civil War.

Not predicting anything dire here, just pointing that out.

(For me, the best thing about this election result is that Mark Steyn will stay in the columnist biz.)

Republican style

John Derbyshire in The Corner:

What a beautiful place Faneuil (sp?) Hall is, in that austere American republican style -- a style I suddenly realise I like very much.

* * * * * * * * * *

I'm aware, in fact, of a sort of emotional aftershock kicking in -- ignited, somehow, by contemplating that beautiful hall while Edwards was speaking. It's all-embracing and all-forgiving. What a country this is! What a country! What a people! For a moment here, I'll confess it freely, I even like John Kerry.

This is as good an advertisement as any for going back to the old humanist values in architecture. I wonder, would Derb's reaction have been the opposite if the speech been in front of City Hall (a.k.a. "The Bunker")? (To Kerry-Edwards, I mean, not to the esthetics of the place).

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Joy of Sox

I watched Game Four in two bars.

In the first bar, just before the starting pitch a patron sat down opposite to me. He looked up at the television and said to no one in particular, "Johny Damon hits a home run to lead off the game for the Red Sox!" One second later, Johnny Damon hit a home run to lead off the game for the Red Sox.

It was that kind of Series.

Jay Nordlinger has a recurring thought:

What a pity that some people had to spend their entire lives under Russia's Communist regime. Evgeny Mravinsky, for example — the great conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic — was born in 1903 and died in 1988. He had his whole, long career under those brutes, not a day before, not a day after.

My father, a lifelong Sox fan, met a similar fate. He was born seven years too late, and he died seven years too soon. He had never seen the Red Sox victorious at the end of the season.

Myself, I absorbed the '67 Series in utero, the '75 is memories of memories, and '86? Best left forgotten.

Anyway, I basically wanted to explain my sparse blogging. I've been watching way too much TV and drinking way too much in bars. Thanks to all, especially to Sox bloggers Irish Elk, full of lore and nifty images, and the Llama Butchers for their perfect analogy re Boston vs. New York.

May the force be with you!